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|I liked it when he said, "These cases are complicated and difficult to prosecute, but if you're serious
about doing them, you can." Doesn't that describe the situation perfectly? It can be done if we set our minds to it. We need
to get started and make that happen.
Comment to 'inside job' (Yahoo! Finance)
|Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte
The modern power elites thrive by forgetting any regrettable past. This amnesia is easy at Harvard, where the legal fiduciaries operate in secret and need not answer for their acts. They are the antipodes of the selfless institutional servants who built Harvard and other great American enterprises, and they bear close watching.
"It's a mafia," he says quietly...
Under supervision of Harvard mafia Russian economy has all but collapsed, the class of oligarchs emerged, population standard of living slided to Central African levels and its infrastructure and key assets were looted at bargain basement prices.
A interesting rogues’ gallery of international financial criminals with high academic degrees who got their education in Harvard (Harvard mafia in a broad sense) owes its existence to the dissolution of the USSR and subsequent financial crisis. The level of corruption and rent seeking behaviors of those individuals is really breathtaking. The term "mafia" is not rhetorical overshoot: they are mafia in a very precise meaning of this word: the mafia at its core is about one thing -- money (see also Russian board game Mafia). Like in a typical Mafioso family there is an ethnic core and a hierarchy, with higher-ranking members making decisions that trickle down to the other members of the family. And its policies are always about oppression, arrogance, greed, self-enrichment, power and hegemony above and against all others.
The story of Andrei Shleifer in Russia is a classic story of "academic extortion": betrayal of trust and academic principles by Harvard professor of economics (probably not without the influence of his wife, hedge fund manager Nancy Zimmerman, longtime friend of Larry Summers). While the guy was just a pawn in a big game, the issues of criminality of economists (and some universities economics departments ;-) and relevance of RICO statute against such offences is a much bigger issue.
Under RICO, a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimes—27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes—within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and/or sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of "racketeering activity." RICO also permits a private individual harmed by the actions of such an enterprise to file a civil suit; if successful, the individual can collect treble damages.
... ... ...
On March 29, 1989, financier Michael Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud relating to an investigation into insider trading and other offenses. Milken was accused of using a wide-ranging network of contacts to manipulate stock and bond prices. It was one of the first occasions that a RICO indictment was brought against an individual with no ties to organized crime. Milken pled guilty to six lesser offenses rather than face spending the rest of his life in prison.
There is a disturbingly deep analogy between Harvard University (which had been benevolently charged with just breach of contract by the US government) and Michel Milken activities. Separately Shleifer and another Harvard mafia associate, Jonathan Hay, were charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. As a slap on the wrist Shleifer was stripped of honorary title "Whipple V.N. Jones Professor of Economics" due to "ethics violation", but he managed to preserve his position at the university due to Summers protection (Larry Summers A Suicidal Choice - Mark Ames).
How close were Larry Summers and Andrei Schleifer? According to former Boston Globe economics correspondent David Warsh, Summers and Schleifer “were among each other’s best friends,” and Summers taught Schleifer “as an undergraduate, sent him on to MIT for his PhD, took him along on an advisory mission to Lithuania in 1990, and in 1991, shepherded his return to Harvard as full professor, where he was regarded, after Martin Feldstein and Summers, as the leader of the next generation.”
The furor about Andrei Shleifer shadow dealings in Russia contributed to the ouster of Summers from the Harvard presidency. It also exposed sad fact that neoclassic economics represents a dangerous sect which if not exactly mafia is pretty much borderline phenomenon. Somewhat similar with Lysenkoism
The cynical view is that "Rape of Russia" was a Mafiosi style operation, which was conducted using s Trojan horses special class of Mafiosi, academic economics. This might well have been the intent (in best "disaster capitalism" style of thinking). Instead of helping post-Soviet nations develop self-reliant economies, writes Marshall Auerback,
“the West has viewed them as economic oysters to be broken up to indebt them in order to extract interest charges and capital gains, leaving them empty shells.”
Corruption and local oligarchy were natural allies of this process which was, in essence, the process of Latin-Americanization of post Soviet space. And off-shore safe heavens were the tool. They partially failed in Russia as some of the most notorious deals of this periods (especially in mineral recourses and oil areas) were reversed in 2000-2008, but were quite successful in Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia and several other post Soviet republics. The external debt of those is just staggering. As Professor Michael Hudson noted:
It may be time to look once again at what Larry Summers and his Rubinomics gang did in Russia in the mid-1990s and to Third World countries during his tenure as World Bank economist to see what kind of future is being planned for the U.S. economy over the next few years.
Throughout the Soviet Union the neoliberal model established “equilibrium” in a way that involved demographic collapse: shortening life spans, lower birth rates, alcoholism and drug abuse, psychological depression, suicides, bad health, unemployment and homelessness for the elderly (the neoliberal mode of Social Security reform).
Here is one apt comment about the real nature of economic professors from Harvard and other nice places from the comments to post Economists Fall Back Into Neoclassical Stupor …( naked capitalism. January 18, 2011):
I echo lambert’s and scraping by’s sentiments. The economics profession is not about an analysis of our economy that can make reasonable predictions about it. Economics and economists are enablers of the con and validators of kleptocracy. They say the many must make do with less and do not say that the result of this policy will be the few will have more.
These are not innocent, unworldly types tied to outdated and obsolete ideas. They are abettors and apologists for the greatest economic crimes in human history. We should call and treat them for what they are: criminals. Kleptocracy is not a some time thing. It is not a label you apply occasionally. Kleptocracy is a system. The looters can’t function without corrupt politicians, a complacent propagandizing media, or complicit enabling academics. With kleptocracy, there is no middle ground. You either stand with the looters or their victims. I think this is the critical choice we all must make.
Another pretty telling quote ( from brilliant satire Blacklisted Economics Professor Found Dead NC Publishes His Last Letter « naked capitalism):
Q: Is it really plausible that economists threaten top banks that in the absence of some kind of payoff, they will change the theories they teach in a direction that is less favorable to the banks?
A: There are certainly cases in history of the following sequence:
a. Economist E espouses views that are less favorable to certain special interest groups S. Doing so threatens the ability of S to extract rent from the public.
b. Later, E changes his view, thereby withdrawing the prior threat.
c. Still later, E is paid large amounts of money by representatives of S in exchange for services that do not appear particularly onerous.
For example, let E = Larry Summers and let S = the financial services industry. In 1989 E was (a) a supporter of the Tobin tax, which threatened to reduce the rent extracted by S. This threat was apparently later withdrawn (b), and in 2008 E was paid $5.2 million (c) in exchange for working at the hedge fund D. E. Shaw (an element of S) for one day a week.
However, it is naturally more difficult to witness the negotiations in which specific threats were appeased with specific future payouts. This is a problem that also bedevils Public Choice theory, in which it is likewise difficult to show exactly how a particular politician is remunerated in exchange for threatening businesses with anti-business legislation. The theory assures us that such negotiations occur, although they are difficult to observe directly. Perhaps further theoretical advances will help us to close this gap.
Q: Isn’t it offensive to assume that economists, for motives of personal gain, shade their theoretical allegiances in the directions preferred by powerful interest groups?
A: How could it ever be offensive to assume that a person acts rationally in pursuit of maximizing his or her own utility? I’m afraid I don’t understand this question.
Disappearance of a formidable opponent of unrestricted looting of developing countries that USSR formally represented on the the world scene essentially released all moral stops and considerations both inside the USA and outside. The triumph of neoliberalism
And former USSR republics were the first victims of new super-aggressive neoliberal "new normal". Despite crocodile tears about corruption, our world is being reshaped, in sinister fashion, by wide open capital markets and an international banking network that exists to launder hundreds of billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains stolen by government officials and oligarchs in "weaker" countries. In other words, corruption is an immanent feature and principal tool of neoliberalism in developing countries and xUSSR area.
Under pretext of showing the Russians how to convert command type economy to neoliberal model, and how to controls corruption, the gang-style rape of the country was inflicted on its unsuspecting citizens with poverty raising from 2% to 40% of the population. World have witnessed Russia losing half of its total output, plunging it into a depression deeper than the U.S. Great Depression. Please read Anne Williamson’s testimony. Here is one quote:
From the perspective of the many millions of her children, Mother Russia in late 1991 was like an old woman, skirts yanked above her waist, who had been abandoned flat on her back at a muddy crossroads, the object of others’ scorn, greed and unseemly curiosity. It is the Russian people who kept their wits about them, helped her to her feet, dusted her off, straightened her clothing, righted her head scarf and it is they who can restore her dignity – not Boris Yeltsin, not Anatole Chubais, not Boris Berezovsky nor any of the other aspirants to power. And it is the Russian people – their abilities, efforts and dreams – which comprise the Russian economy, not those of Vladimir Potanin or Viktor Chernomyrdin or Mikhail Khodorkovsky or Vladimir Gusinsky. And that is where we should have placed our bet – on the Russian people – and our stake should have been the decency, the common sense and abilities of our own citizens realized not through multilateral lending but through the use of tax credits for direct investment in the Russian economy and the training of Russian workers on 6-month to one year stints at the U.S. offices of American firms in conjunction with the elimination of U.S. tariffs on Russian goods.
The collapse of the USSR was by-and-large caused by internal problems and betrayal of nomenklatura which quickly understood that new neoliberal regime is more profitable for them that command-style economy (although role of financed by West wave of nationalism and West imposed technological isolation should not be underestimated). BTW this myth that Reagan administration won the Cold War is still current.
After the dissolution of the USA, there was a vacuum of ideology in Russia and it was successfully filled with Harvard promoted neoliberalism and associated neo-classical economics. This was a powerful fifths column, oriented on helping the West to extract as much wealth from Russia as possible was created. The USA essentially forced Russians into so called shock therapy using Harvard academic mafia (plan was authored by Jeffrey Sachs who was lecturer at Harvard and implemented by Larry Summers protégé, Russian émigré Shleifer and several other Harvard academic brats with a couple of British poodles to make the gang international) and internal compradors in Yelstin government as fifth column. As a result poverty level jumped from 2% to 40%. Everything that can be stolen, was stolen by implementation of rapid privatization policy. During the heydays of corrupt Yeltsin regime implementation of shock therapy GDP dropped 50%. Suicide rate doubled, life expectancy for males dropped below 60 years (12,8% death rate increase), homeless children which were unknown in the USSR became mass feature of new social order.
The key seller of shock therapy was about Harvard Mafiosi, Professor Jeffrey Sachs who was a prominent neoliberal who because his role in destruction of Russian economics, contributed to immense sufferings in Bolivia, Chili, Poland and several other countries.
Instead of something like Marshall plan, a merciless ands unlawful grab of capital and national resources was successfully implemented in less then five year period after the dissolution. This was an amazingly greedy and short-sited policy by Clinton administration. To rephrase Talleyrand, it was worse then a crime, it was a blunder. As Otto von Bismarck advised long ago:
Do not expect that once taken advantage of Russia's weakness, you will receive dividends forever. Russian always come for their money. And when they come - do not rely on the Jesuit agreement you signed, you are supposed to justify. They are not worth the paper it is written. Therefore, with the Russian stands or play fair, or no play.
Let's hope that the USA will be protected by Providence from the consequences of this blunder because as Otto von Bismarck suggested "There is a providence to that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America". Otherwise, the level of anger felt by wide strata of Russian people (almost everybody outside of fifth column) can materialize into something really tragic. In Russian history, a generation that has taken a beating is often followed by a generation that deals one. In a way Putin is already a certain punishment, but the possibility of coming to power a real Russian nationalist instead of "resource nationalist" is not out the realm of possibilities ;-)There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.
Now Professor Jeffrey Sachs repainted himself from a sharky promoted of "shock therapy" into the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. Here is an apt comment about this member of Harvard mafia ( NYT, 2009)
I grew up cold and hungry in the former Soviet republic of Armenia during the shock therapy years of the 90′s; my grandfather was one of the 3 million who died prematurely during those days (incorrect medication and power outages did him in).
I would very much like to tie Mr. Jeffrey Sachs to a chair and slowly force-feed him every worthless page of every idiotic policy paper he’s ever written. I believe that would justly mirror the diet that I had to subsist on for a number of years during my childhood and adolescence.
He still insists that Yeltsin, rather than his American advisors, was responsible for the fact that the privatization policy amounted in practice to the theft by a handful of favored apparatchiks of the industries previously ran – in its own inimitably corrupt fashion – by the state. As former World Bank economist David Ellerman noted it was the speed of the privatization which made such an outcome inevitable stating that
“Only the mixture of American triumphalism and academic arrogance could have produced such a lethal dose of gall.”
Janine R. Wedel in The Harvard Boys Do Russia (The Nation, May 14, 1998) wrote the following about extremely damaging for the USA (in a long run) and Russia (forever) policies Harvard mafia pursued:
"After seven years of economic "reform" financed by billions of dollars in U.S. and other Western aid, subsidized loans and rescheduled debt, the majority of Russian people find themselves worse off economically. The privatization drive that was supposed to reap the fruits of the free market instead helped to create a system of tycoon capitalism run for the benefit of a corrupt political oligarchy that has appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars of Western aid and plundered Russia's wealth. The architect of privatization was former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, a darling of the U.S. and Western financial establishments. Chubais's drastic and corrupt stewardship made him extremely unpopular. According to The New York Times, he "may be the most despised man in Russia." Essential to the implementation of Chubais's policies was the enthusiastic support of the Clinton Administration and its key representative for economic assistance in Moscow, the Harvard Institute for International Development. Using the prestige of Harvard's name and connections in the Administration, H.I.I.D. officials acquired virtual carte blanche over the U.S. economic aid program to Russia, with minimal oversight by the government agencies involved. With this access and their close alliance with Chubais and his circle, they allegedly profited on the side. Yet few Americans are aware of H.I.I.D.'s role in Russian privatization, and its suspected misuse of taxpayers' funds.
At the recent U.S.-Russian Investment Symposium at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Yuri Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, made what might have seemed to many an impolite reference to his hosts. After castigating Chubais and his monetarist policies, Luzhkov, according to a report of the event, "singled out Harvard for the harm inflicted on the Russian economy by its advisers, who encouraged Chubais's misguided approach to privatization and monetarism." Luzhkov was referring to H.I.I.D. Chubais, who was delegated vast powers over the economy by Boris Yeltsin, was ousted in Yeltsin's March purge, but in May he was given an immensely lucrative post as head of Unified Energy System, the country's electricity monopoly.
Some of the main actors with Harvard's Russia project have yet to face a reckoning, but this may change if a current investigation by the U.S. government results in prosecutions. The activities of H.I.I.D. in Russia provide some cautionary lessons on abuse of trust by supposedly disinterested foreign advisers, on U.S. arrogance and on the entire policy of support for a single Russian group of so-called reformers. The H.I.I.D. story is a familiar one in the ongoing saga of U.S. foreign policy disasters created by those said to be our "best and brightest." Through the late summer and fall of 1991, as the Soviet state fell apart, Harvard Professor Jeffrey Sachs and other Western economists participated in meetings at a dacha outside Moscow where young, pro-Yeltsin reformers planned Russia's economic and political future. Sachs teamed up with Yegor Gaidar, Yeltsin's first architect of economic reform, to promote a plan of "shock therapy" to swiftly eliminate most of the price controls and subsidies that had underpinned life for Soviet citizens for decades. Shock therapy produced more shock--not least, hyperinflation that hit 2,500 percent--than therapy.
One result was the evaporation of much potential investment capital: the substantial savings of Russians. By November 1992, Gaidar was under attack for his failed policies and was soon pushed aside ...
I.I.D. had supporters high in the Administration. One was Lawrence Summers, himself a former Harvard economics professor, whom Clinton named Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs in 1993. Summers, now Deputy Treasury Secretary, had longstanding ties to the principals of Harvard's project in Russia and its later project in Ukraine. Summers hired a Harvard Ph.D., David Lipton (who had been vice president of Jeffrey D. Sachs and Associates, a consulting firm), to be Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary for Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. After Summers was promoted to Deputy Secretary, Lipton moved into Summers's old job, assuming "broad responsibility" for all aspects of international economic policy development. Lipton co-wrote numerous papers with Sachs and served with him on consulting missions in Poland and Russia. "Jeff and David always came [to Russia] together," said a Russian representative at the International Monetary Fund. "They were like an inseparable couple." Sachs, who was named director of H.I.I.D. in 1995, lobbied for and received U.S.A.I.D. grants for the institute to work in Ukraine in 1996 and 1997 ...
Andrei Shleifer, a Russian-born emigre and already a tenured professor of economics at Harvard in his early 30s, became director of H.I.I.D.'s Russia project. Shleifer was also a protege of Summers, with whom he received at least one foundation grant ...
Another Harvard player was a former World Bank consultant named Jonathan Hay, a Rhodes scholar who had attended Moscow's Pushkin Institute for Russian Language. In 1991, while still at Harvard Law School, he had become a senior legal adviser to the G.K.I., the Russian state's new privatization committee; the following year he was made H.I.I.D.'s general director in Moscow. The youthful Hay assumed vast powers over contractors, policies and program specifics; he not only controlled access to the Chubais circle but served as its mouthpiece ...
With help from his H.I.I.D. advisers and other Westerners, Chubais and his cronies set up a network of aid-funded "private" organizations that enabled them to bypass legitimate government agencies and circumvent the new parliament of the Russian Federation, the Duma.
Through this network, two of Chubais's associates, Maxim Boycko (who co-wrote Privatizing Russia with Shleifer) and Dmitry Vasiliev, oversaw almost a third of a billion dollars in aid money and millions more in loans from international financial institutions ...
The device of setting up private organizations backed by the power of the Yeltsin government and maintaining close ties to H.I.I.D. was a way of insuring deniability. Shleifer, Hay and other Harvard principals, all U.S. citizens, were "Russian" when convenient. Hay, for example, served alternately and sometimes simultaneously as aid contractor, manager of other contractors and representative of the Russian government ... Against the backdrop of Russia's Klondike capitalism, which they were helping create and Chubais and his team were supposedly regulating, the H.I.I.D. advisers exploited their intimate ties with Chubais and the government and were allegedly able to conduct business activities for their own enrichment. According to sources close to the U.S. government's investigation, Hay used his influence, as well as U.S.A.I.D.-financed resources, to help his girlfriend, Elizabeth Hebert, set up a mutual fund, Pallada Asset Management, in Russia ... After Pallada was set up, Hebert, Hay, Shleifer and Vasiliev looked for ways to continue their activities as aid funds dwindled. Using I.L.B.E. resources and funding, they established a private consulting firm with taxpayer money. One of the firm's first clients was Shleifer's wife, Nancy Zimmerman, who operated a Boston-based hedge fund that traded heavily in Russian bonds.
According to Russian registration documents, Zimmerman's company set up a Russian firm with Sergei Shishkin, the I.L.B.E. chief, as general director. Corporate documents on file in Moscow showed that the address and phone number of the company and the I.L.B.E. were the same. Then there is the First Russian Specialized Depository, which holds the records and assets of mutual fund investors. This institution, funded by a World Bank loan, also worked to the benefit of Hay, Vasiliev, Hebert and another associate, Julia Zagachin. According to sources close to the U.S. government's investigation, Zagachin, an American married to a Russian, was selected to run the depository even though she lacked the required capital ...
Anne Williamson, a journalist who specializes in Soviet and Russian affairs, details these and other conflicts of interest between H.I.I.D.'s advisers and their supposed clients--the Russian people--in her forthcoming book, How America Built the New Russian Oligarchy. For example, in 1995, in Chubais-organized insider auctions of prime national properties, known as loans-for-shares, the Harvard Management Company (H.M.C.), which invests the university's endowment, and billionaire speculator George Soros were the only foreign entities allowed to participate. H.M.C. and Soros became significant shareholders in Novolipetsk, Russia's second-largest steel mill, and Sidanko Oil, whose reserves exceed those of Mobil. H.M.C. and Soros also invested in Russia's high-yielding, I.M.F.-subsidized domestic bond market.
Even more dubious, according to Williamson, was Soros's July 1997 purchase of 24 percent of Sviazinvest, the telecommunications giant, in partnership with Uneximbank's Vladimir Potanin. It was later learned that shortly before this purchase Soros had tided over Yeltsin's government with a backdoor loan of hundreds of millions of dollars while the government was awaiting proceeds of a Eurobond issue; the loan now appears to have been used by Uneximbank to purchase Norilsk Nickel in August 1997. According to Williamson, the U.S. assistance program in Russia was rife with such conflicts of interest involving H.I.I.D. advisers and their U.S.A.I.D.-funded Chubais allies, H.M.C. managers, favored Russian bankers, Soros and insider expatriates working in Russia's nascent markets ...
Despite exposure of this corruption in the Russian media (and, far more hesitantly, in the U.S. media), the H.I.I.D.-Chubais clique remained until recently the major instrument of U.S. economic aid policy to Russia. It even used the high-level Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, which helped orchestrate the cooperation of U.S.-Russian oil deals and the Mir space station. The commission's now-defunct Capital Markets Forum was chaired on the Russian side by Chubais and Vasiliev, and on the U.S. side by S.E.C. chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
Andrei Shleifer was named special coordinator to all four of the Capital Markets Forum's working subgroups. Hebert, Hay's girlfriend, served on two of the subgroups, as did the C.E.O.s of Salomon Brothers, Merrill Lynch and other powerful Wall Street investment houses. When The Nation contacted the S.E.C. for information about Capital Markets, we were told to call Shleifer for comment. Shleifer, who is under investigation by U.S.A.I.D.'s inspector general for misuse of funds, declined to be interviewed for this article. A U.S. Treasury spokesman said Shleifer and Hebert were appointed to Capital Markets by the Chubais group--specifically, according to other sources, by Dmitry Vasiliev."
Several problems with Harvard academic advisors behavior during Russian privatization program were outlined by Adil Rustomjee (Yale University) in the letter to Johnson’s Russia List :
From: Arustomjee@aol.com (Adil Rustomjee)
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 13:18:14 EDT
Subject: Role of foreign advisers in the Russian Privatization Program.
From: Adil Rustomjee, Yale University, 135 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Many thanks for your superb news service. Johnson's Russia List is fast becoming an excellent resource for those who work, who have worked on, or who just share a fascination with that disturbing country. I am writing this letter to humbly suggest a research topic that should be of great interest to JRLs readers. It is a subject that deserves better treatment than that received to date. The topic itself is the exact role of foreign advisers in the Russian Privatization Program.
It is a marvelous tale waiting to be plainly told. The Russian Privatization Program, despite its subsequent vilification, ranks as one of the great experiments at social engineering in the twentieth century. It attempted an authoritative allocation of property rights - and consequently of power - within society on a scale never attempted before. It is therefore a very significant historical process, more significant in the long reach of events than even Stalin's collectivization campaigns of the 1930s. It deserves its own Robert Conquest.
The process itself went through two distinct phases - the voucher phase, and what for want of a better word, we call the "loans for shares" phase. It is the "loans for shares" phase of the program that has attracted the most attention, primarily because of its spectacular abuse by Russia's oligarchs. The real story is in the first voucher stage of the process and the dubious principles it was based on.
The entire voucher program was a product of foreign economic advice. Consider the basic timeline. The Soviet Union itself was dissolved in December 1991. In June 1992, the crucial document governing the voucher privatization effort came out - the State Privatization Program. This seminal document outlined the basic concepts behind the voucher phase of the program. It also rationalized what became a state sponsored giveaway of Russia's national patrimony to the country's managers. The implementation of the State Privatization Program document took a little over two years. By June 1994, Anatoly Chubias , Russia's privatization chief, was announcing the end of the voucher program. In a scant two years, Russia had gone from a communist country with no private sector, to a country with a private sector - that on paper at least - was larger than Italy's !!! Such progress could never have been possible without substantial foreign economic advice. It is a commonplace that privatization is essentially a "learning by doing" process.
Russia could never have gone through a learning curve in such a short time span. Its reformers basically rubberstamped a scheme conceived by Western economists in the crucial 6 month period between December 1991 and June 1992.
Yet despite this, the precise story of the economists behind the entire effort has not been told. Good attempts have been made by Janine Wedel and Anne Williamson - and I will discuss them later - but from a technical standpoint, the story has yet to be told well.
Who were these advisors and what did they achieve? Three groups of actors may be identified - academic economists, bureaucrats from the World Bank, and Western consulting firms. A close examination of the interaction between these three groups itself will offer interesting insights into the birth and dissemination of ideas. For the major ideas behind the Russian program came from a group of academics - many associated with Harvard. These ideas were picked up in the early years and became established "transition economics" orthodoxy at the World Bank. The substantial implementation of the basic ideas was carried out by consulting firms like the Big Six working (often) on USAID contracts.
This is as it should be. Academia is usually the source of the most original thinking on economics. International bureaucrats - particularly those associated with the World Bank - are surprisingly timid and cautious people. They are institutionally incapable of boldness - and great audacity was called for in the Russia of 1992.
Was this boldness misplaced? I believe it was. A rational examination of the process will, I suspect, lead to a damning indictment of Russia's foreign advisors. They created desolation and called it reform. The defining feature of the program was based on remarkably dubious ideas. Foremost among these was the belief that privatization was a series of payoffs - or bribes, as one of its leading advocates, Harvard's Andrei Shleifer, called it - to various " stakeholders" in the program. Given an uncertain legal environment and some
appropriation of state assets by these stakeholders, - euphemistically referred to as "spontaneous privatization" - , better to legalize what was believed to be a trough feeding frenzy. This was the program's dominant idea.
There is little empirical evidence from the early years about the exact extent of " spontaneous privatization". Anecdotal evidence abounds, especially from many near - hysterical accounts of the early 90s but the actual empirical evidence is slender. The decisions to sell a great nation's patrimony - a one shot historical phenomenon with irreversible long range implications - were basically conceived within a six month time frame by a bunch of frightened foreigners, using dubious assumptions, with little basis in empirical understanding. Astonishing.
The actual privatization was accomplished through basically giving away large segments of Russian assets - and consequently cash flows - to these stakeholders. The most notable insider stakeholders - the managers - ended up the biggest winners. They ended up owning most of Russian industry. This august group, more often than not, makes the Marx Brothers seem like models of German efficiency. For a variety of reasons, insider-owned firms are very inefficient, and indeed a long list of papers from the Bank - Fund complex testifies to this. Consequently, Russia is today reaping the whirlwind of its privatization policy. The long delayed supply-side response of the economy, that is supposed to be led by these insider-owned firms, simply refuses to happen.
To round out this stupidity ( and to make it theoretically neater), the advisors had to deal with the problem of insider ownership. They dealt with it in time honored economist fashion - they assumed it away. This was done by trotting out that most venerable of economic propositions - something called the Coase Theorem. In a series of seminal papers written at Chicago in the thirties, Ronald Coase reached a blindingly obvious conclusion on property rights. He proved that the initial allocation - or misallocation - of property rights would not matter as long as those rights could be traded till they found their highest valued end use. In other words, the advisors told the Russians, "Sure, we're making second-best or third-best policy choices on privatization , but hey guys, it doesn't matter. Through the magic of Coase, even if we misallocated the rights, they'll trade up to their highest valued end user, and we'll all live happily ever after ". Consequently, nothing mattered except getting the assets away from the government (depoliticization) and into the "private sector", thereby allowing
the Coase Theorem to work its magic.
The Russians believed this nonsense. The problems with using Coase as a rationale were commonsensical : too much monopoly power in the Russian economy and the fact that Coase himself never had anything remotely resembling Russia in mind, when he formulated the theorem. More crucially, capital markets which would be needed to trade property rights to their highest valued end use, were nonexistent or nascent, and continue to be so. One marvels at the Russians' own capacity for advice of this nature. My comfort is philosophical : It has often been said of the Russians, that they exhibit in extreme form, certain universal characteristics of the human condition.
Perhaps this tendency to extremes applies to their propensity for social engineering too.
In response to critiques of their advice, the foreign advisors resort to a "burden of proof " defense. In other words, they say, " What a pity it's a mess and had to be this way, but you'll have to prove it could have been otherwise". It is this "proving otherwise" that is a key issue. " Proving otherwise" would require a person with substantial economic expertise. Unfortunately most of the critiques of the advisors in Russia have come from people outside the economics community, which on Russia is quite tight knit.
Janine Wedel and Anne Williamson have made good first attempts . But given the enormity of the catastrophe in Russia that the advice has wrought, the definitive account will have to be from a person with some economic stature.
Who were these people anyway ? They include, Wedel and Williamson point out, Andrei Shleifer a Harvard economics professor, Jonathan Hay a freshly minted Harvard Law graduate, and Makim Boycko who was their man in Moscow. Shleifer, a Russian emigrant who remains a tenured professor at Harvard, must have possessed the great advantage of speaking native Russian. In December 1991, Shleifer on a World Bank consultancy authored a paper titled Privatization in Russia - First Steps. It is, I believe, the first systematic attempt at outlining the program's defining feature - privatization as a series of payoffs (or bribes as he called it) to key stakeholders in the process.
Later explications of the basic idea may be found in articles he co-authored with Robert Vishny on the process. Both the unpublished document and later articles remarkably parallel the basic philosophy of the State Privatization Program of June 1992.
A sense of moral outrage over the effects of their policies - while a great temptation - has to be avoided at all costs. This is especially difficult when one considers that the principal protagonists - Andrei Shleifer and Jonathan Hay - are under investigation for alleged insider trading and conflicts of interest in Russia. [ GAO and USAID having found that they "abused the trust of the US government " etc ]. The temptation might therefore be to focus on that entire shabby episode as Wedel and Williamson have done ( in part, but only in part). There is no need for this. The charges are unproven. Besides the amounts Shleifer and Hay are accused of improperly dealing in, are a pittance, compared to the wholesale thievery their ideas sanctioned. The real story is in the voucher scheme they designed and implemented. Told coldly, rationally, and solely concerned with the truth, it will still be a great story. Behind the story after all, loom the long shadows of the millions of Russians whose lives were effected by these disastrous policies. They deserve the truth.
Will the story be told with integrity. I am afraid not. There are too many reputations and too much credibility at stake. The usual candidate would be someone of stature in academia. This is not really an option. The old Kremlinologists have been largely rendered irrelevant by the pace of events and are struggling to retool themselves. The younger economists who work on Russia, who have access to the data and hands-on experience, are the least likely candidates given the devastating outcomes of the policies they advocated. Self serving rationalizations with little intellectual integrity are all that can be expected from this group. Witness for example, Anders Aslunds' comic absurdity "How Russia became a Market Economy". If Russia is a market economy, then I, sir, am a monkey's uncle -- Finally it would be too much to expect the protagonists themselves - Shleifer and his collaborators - to say " We were wrong, terribly wrong". An old man named Robert McNamara looking back on his life, said that about a war that ended twenty five years back, and look at the condemnation that brought him. It would be too much to expect Shleifer and the others - all reportedly in their late thirties and early forties - to make such an admission.
The World Bank is another candidate, but they will distort the tale. The Bank's division that does such studies - the Operations Evaluation Department - will use the standard bureaucratic boiler plate it excels at. Besides the Bank itself picked up the substantial ideas and policies from the Harvard group, and has its own credibility at stake. While some hand wringing can be expected, so can a less than zealous concern for the truth. Besides, even if it is honest, the drama of the story will be lost in the telling.
... ... ...
The reasons of such a behavior by Andrei Shleifer and other players "on the ground" probably run deeper. As Stefan Lemieszewski noted in his letter to Johnson's Russia List:
The failure of these IMF/World Bank/State/Treasury programs should not come as a surprise. Economists such as Michel Chossudovsky (University of Ottawa) go further and suggest that they are by design. In his book, "The Globalization of Poverty: Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms" Chossudovsky writes:
"The IMF-Yeltsin reforms constitute an instrument of "Thirdworldisation"; they are a carbon copy of the structural adjustment programme imposed on debtor countries in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs, advisor to the Russian government, had applied in Russia the same 'macro-economic surgery' as in Bolivia where he was economic advisor to the MNR government in 1985.
The IMF-World Bank programme adopted in the name of democracy constitutes a coherent programme of impoverishment of large sectors of the population.
It was designed (in theory) to 'stabilize' the economy, yet consumer prices in 1992 increased by more than one hundred times (9,900 per cent) as a direct result of the "anti-inflationary programme". As in Third World 'stabilization programme', the inflationary process was largely engineered through the 'dollarization' of domestic prices and the collapse of the national currency. The 'price liberalization programme' did not, however, resolve (as proposed by the IMF) the distorted structure of relative prices which existed under the Soviet system."
In Ukraine and some other republics the magnitude of collapse was even greater and all middle class was essentially wiped out. Many emigrated. Also a lot of assets were simply stolen by western companies for cents on the dollar (disaster capitalism in action; some of most blatant cases were reversed under Putin, but not much). Bush II administration was busy with reelections and Clinton administration never viewed Russia as a partner only as a body on the ground to kick with a boot with impunity. As President Richard Nixon pointed out a major aid package could stop the economic free fall and help anchor Russia in the West for years to come.
In this respect the Clinton administration’s greatest failure was its decision to take advantage of Russia’s weakness. And the fact that they used puppets like Jeffrey Sachs to take advantage of the Russia situation produced a long term damage to the US strategic interests in the region. Here is a relevant quote from Foreign Affairs article “Losing Russia”:
BEHIND THE facade of friendship, Clinton administration officials expected the Kremlin to accept the United States’ definition of Russia’s national interests. They believed that Moscow’s preferences could be safely ignored if they did not align with Washington’s goals. Russia had a ruined economy and a collapsing military, and it acted like a defeated country in many ways. Unlike other European colonial empires that had withdrawn from former possessions, Moscow made no effort to negotiate for the protection of its economic and security interests in Eastern Europe or the former Soviet states on its way out. Inside Russia, meanwhile, Yeltsin’s radical reformers often welcomed IMF and U.S. pressure as justification for the harsh and hugely unpopular monetary policies they had advocated on their own.
Soon, however, even Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev–known in Russia as Mr. Yes for accommodating the West–became frustrated with the Clinton administration’s tough love. As he told Talbott, who served as ambassador at large to the newly independent states from 1993 to 1994, “It’s bad enough having you people tell us what you’re going to do whether we like it or not. Don’t add insult to injury by also telling us that it’s in our interests to obey your orders.”
But such pleas fell on deaf ears in Washington, where this arrogant approach was becoming increasingly popular. Talbott and his aides referred to it as the spinach treatment: a paternalistic Uncle Sam fed Russian leaders policies that Washington deemed healthy, no matter how unappetizing these policies seemed in Moscow.
As Talbott adviser Victoria Nuland put it, “The more you tell them it’s good for them, the more they gag.” By sending the message that Russia should not have an independent foreign policy — or even an independent domestic one — the Clinton administration generated much resentment. This neocolonial approach went hand in hand with IMF recommendations that most economists now agree were ill suited to Russia and so painful for the population that they could never have been implemented democratically. However, Yeltsin’s radical reformers were only too happy to impose them without popular consent.
Here is the Shleifer part of the story although it is important to realize that he was just a puppet, low level criminal (No. 6 card or "shesterka" : lowest member of a gang in Russian slang) in the biggest looting of the century, looting that exceeds performed by Hitler armies in 40th. (Harry R. Lewis Larry Summers, Robert Rubin Will The Harvard Shadow Elite Bankrupt The University And The Country):
In 1992, Andrei Shleifer, a Harvard professor and a close friend of Summers since Shleifer's college days at Harvard, became head of a Harvard project that directed U.S. government money for the development of the Russian economy. Tens of millions of dollars in noncompetitive U.S. contracts flowed to Harvard for Shleifer's Russian work, and his team directed the distribution of hundreds of millions more. Through the mid-1990s, complaints accumulated in Washington about self-dealing and improper investing by the Harvard team, and by mid-1997, the Harvard contracts had been canceled and the FBI had taken up the case. For two years it was before a federal grand jury.
In September, 2000, the government sued Harvard, Shleifer, and others, claiming that Shleifer was lining his own pockets and those of his wife, hedge fund manager Nancy Zimmerman -- formerly a vice president at Goldman Sachs under Rubin.
Soon after, when Summers became a candidate for the Harvard presidency, Shleifer lobbied hard for him in Cambridge. Rubin assured the Fellows that the abrasiveness Summers had exhibited at Treasury was a thing of the past. They named him president--in spite of what was already known about his enabling role in the malodorous Russian affair, and the implausibility of a personality metamorphosis.
Summers did not recluse himself from the lawsuit until more than three months after his selection as president, and even then used his influence to protect Shleifer. The Fellows--including Rubin, whom Summers added to the Corporation--fought the case for years, spending upwards of $10M on lawyers. But in 2005 a federal judge found Shleifer to have conspired to defraud the government and held Harvard liable as well. To settle the civil claims, Shleifer paid the government $2M and Harvard paid $26.5M; Zimmerman's company had already paid $1.5M. Shleifer denied all wrongdoing, and Harvard disclosed nothing about any response of its own--a departure from its handling of misconduct by faculty farther from the center of power.
Summers remained close to Shleifer, yet claimed in a February 2006 faculty meeting to know too little about the scandal to have formed an opinion about it. This prevarication brought a gasp from the assembled faculty and solidified faculty opposition to the Summers presidency.
Rubin is now gone from his leadership role and his board membership at Citigroup, hauling away $126M from a firm that was $65B poorer than when he joined it, with 75,000 fewer jobs. But he remains on the Harvard board, in spite of the financial meltdowns at both Citigroup and Harvard and his poor oversight of the problematic president he persuaded Harvard to hire.
The Rubin network remains alive and well in the White House, including not just Summers but several other Rubin protégés. Among the strangest of these power loops is that the well-connected Nancy Zimmerman has turned up as a member of Summers's economic policy brain trust.
It's pretty funny that in 1993 Andrei Shleifer co-authored a paper about corruption":
This paper presents two propositions about corruption. First, the structure of government institutions and of the political process are very important determinants of the level of corruption. In particular, weak governments that do not control their agencies experience very high corruption levels. Second, the illegality of corruption and the need for secrecy make it much more distortionary and costly than its sister activity, taxation. These results may explain why, in some less developed countries, corruption is so high and so costly to development.
Copyright 1993, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Compare this paper with the assessment of his own behavior in the article "On Post-Modern Corruption"(Economic Principals):
It is against this background that a seemingly unrelated matter, the Andrei Shleifer case, should be considered. Readers are all too familiar with the details of how a 31-year-old Russian expatriate, swiftly risen to eminence as a Harvard University economics professor, was put in charge in 1992 of a huge US government-financed, Harvard-administered mission to advise the Russian government of Boris Yeltsin on how to establish a market economy of their own -- until he was discovered in 1996 to be lining his own pockets, and those of his wife, his deputy and the deputy's girlfriend. At that point the mission collapsed.
Four years later, the US Attorney in Boston sued. Four years after that, Shleifer was found to have committed fraud and Harvard University to have breached its contract. Each was ordered to repay the government.
Perhaps the Shleifer story is no big deal, and not the symbol of post-modern corruption having spread to universities that I think it is. Yet there are similarities to the Congressional situation, I believe. The case against Shleifer case was a civil complaint, not a criminal charge. Cunningham was elected, Shleifer was hired. Each helped himself to some good old-fashioned graft, and each was found by a court to have done (in the words of the San Diego prosecutor) "the worst thing an Éofficial can do -- he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there."
And just as the tactics of the House leadership are more alarming than the conduct of the lowly Cunningham, so the determination of Harvard's administrators to defend Shleifer for nine long years is more astounding than what Shleifer actually did. He was young and inexperienced. They had all the advice and time in the world. His culpability has been established. Theirs has barely been addressed.
Here is some information about the events form Wikipedia article Andrei Shleifer:
Under the False Claims Act, the US government sued Harvard, Shleifer, Shleifer's wife, Shleifer's assistant Jonathan Hay, and Hay's girlfriend (now his wife) Elizabeth Hebert, because these individuals bought Russian stocks and GKOs while they were working on the country's privatization, which potentially contravened Harvard's contract with USAID. In 2001, a federal judge dismissed all charges against Zimmerman and Hebert. In June 2004, a federal judge ruled that Harvard had violated the contract but was not liable for treble damages, but that Shleifer and Hay might be held liable for treble damages (up to $105 million) if found guilty by a jury .
In June 2005, Harvard and Shleifer announced that they had reached a tentative settlement with the US government. On August 3 of the same year, Harvard University, Shleifer and the Justice department reached an agreement under which the university paid $26.5 million to settle the five-year-old lawsuit. Shleifer was also responsible for paying $2 million dollars worth of damages, though he did not admit any wrong doing. A firm owned by his wife previously had paid $1.5 million in an out of court settlement.
Because Harvard University paid most of the damages and allowed Shleifer to retain his faculty position, the settlement provoked allegations of favoritism on the part of Harvard's outgoing president Lawrence Summers, who is Shleifer's close friend and mentor. Shleifer's conduct was reviewed by Harvard's internal ethics committee. In October 2006, at the close of that review, Shleifer released a statement making it clear that he remains on Harvard's faculty. However, according to the Boston Globe, he has been stripped of his honorary title of Whipple V. N. Jones Professor of Economics.
Shleifer's involvement in Russia was investigated by David McClintick, a Harvard alumnus and journalist for Institutional Investor Magazine. His 30-page January 2006 article claims to show that "economics professor Andrei Shleifer, in the mid-1990s, led a Harvard advisory program in Russia that collapsed in disgrace." The article drew considerable criticism among Shleifer's colleagues, collaborators, close friends, and students. According to the Harvard Crimson, the university's daily newspaper, Shleifer's colleague and economics professor Edward Glaeser said that the Institutional Investor article "is a potent piece of hate creation—not quite 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' but it's in that camp." But Glaeser later apologized for his statement.
Prominent role of Larry Summers in Andrei Shleifer affair shed very negative light on this very controversial figure. Positioning him as a key figured in Clinton administration intended to destroy the xUSSR republic economies, especially economics of Russia. And that role perfectly alight with his general political role in Clinton administration and after that. The role of enforcer of neoliberal social order. Role of Larry Summers in adopting "shock therapy" and Yeltsin privatization of state assets still needs to be investigated. But it is perfectly consistent with his track record. Among key "mis-achievements" of Bubble Boy Larry:
The bill that ultimately repealed the Act was introduced in the Senate by Phil Gramm (Republican of Texas) and in the House of Representatives by Iowa) in 1999. The bills were passed by Republican majorities on party lines by a 54-44 vote in the Senate and by a 343-86 vote in the House of Representatives. After passing both the Senate and House the bill was moved to a conference committee to work out the differences between the Senate and House versions. The final bill resolving the differences was passed in the Senate 90-8 (1 not voting) and in the House: 362-57 (15 not voting). [These margins of passage, if repeated, would have been well over the two-thirds needed to overcome any veto, had the President returned the bill to Congress without his signature.] The legislation was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 12, 1999. 
The banking industry had been seeking the repeal of Glass-Steagall since at least the 1980s. In 1987 the Congressional Research Service prepared a report which explored the case for preserving Glass-Steagall and the case against preserving the act.
As chairperson of the CFTC, Born advocated reining in the huge and growing market for financial derivatives. . . . One type of derivative—known as a credit-default swap—has been a key contributor to the economy’s recent unraveling. . .
Back in the 1990s, however, Born’s proposal stirred an almost visceral response from other regulators in the Clinton administration, as well as members of Congress and lobbyists. . . . But even the modest proposal got a vituperative response. The dozen or so large banks that wrote most of the OTC derivative contracts saw the move as a threat to a major profit center. Greenspan and his deregulation-minded brain trust saw no need to upset the status quo. The sheer act of contemplating regulation, they maintained, would cause widespread chaos in markets around the world.
Born recalls taking a phone call from Lawrence Summers, then Rubin’s top deputy at the Treasury Department, complaining about the proposal, and mentioning that he was taking heat from industry lobbyists. . . . The debate came to a head April 21, 1998. In a Treasury Department meeting of a presidential working group that included Born and the other top regulators, Greenspan and Rubin took turns attempting to change her mind. Rubin took the lead, she recalls.
“I was told by the secretary of the treasury that the CFTC had no jurisdiction, and for that reason and that reason alone, we should not go forward,” Born says. . . . “It seemed totally inexplicable to me,” Born says of the seeming disinterest her counterparts showed in how the markets were operating. “It was as though the other financial regulators were saying, ‘We don’t want to know.’”
She formally launched the proposal on May 7, and within hours, Greenspan, Rubin and Levitt issued a joint statement condemning Born and the CFTC, expressing “grave concern about this action and its possible consequences.” They announced a plan to ask for legislation to stop the CFTC in its tracks.
As Bob C noted in his comment to As Obama Taps Larry Summers, Recalling Summer's Days as a Regulation Foe Mother Jones "One thing to keep in mind about Summers and Rubin's position on regulating derivatives is the timing: in July of 1998 when Summers testified, the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management, had not yet failed. That would happen 3 months later, when it became clear that a substantial part of LTCM's problem was that it had massive side bets in derivative instruments that when it could not cover these bets, caused massive dislocations and threats to the global banking system (which had invested heavily in LTCM, thinking it was run by "geniuses"--see Roger Lowenstein's great book, "When Genius Failed".) I think Summers and Rubin might have had a different view on the regulation of derivatives after the LTCM catastrophe."
Lawrence H. Summers, one of President Obama's top economic advisers, collected roughly $5.2 million in compensation from hedge fund D.E. Shaw over the past year and was paid more than $2.7 million in speaking fees by several troubled Wall Street firms and other organizations. . . . Fees ranged from $45,000 for a Nov. 12 Merrill Lynch appearance to $135,000 for an April 16 visit to Goldman Sachs, according to his disclosure form.
...Even in the contentious world of economics, [Joe Stiglitz] is considered somewhat prickly. And while he may be a Nobel laureate, in Washington he's seen as just another economic critic—and not always a welcome one. Few Americans recognize his name... Yet Stiglitz's work is cited by more economists than anyone else's in the world... And when he goes abroad—to Europe, Asia, and Latin America—he is received like a superstar, a modern-day oracle. ...
... ... ...
... Stiglitz's defenders say one possible explanation for his outsider status in Washington is his ongoing rivalry with Summers. ... Since the early '90s, when Summers was a senior Treasury official and Stiglitz was on the Council of Economic Advisers, the two have engaged in fierce policy debates. The first fight was over the Clinton administration's efforts to pry open emerging financial markets, such as South Korea's. Stiglitz argued there wasn't good evidence that liberalizing poorly regulated Third World markets would make any one more prosperous; Summers wanted them open to U.S. firms.
The differences between them grew bitter in the late 1990s, when Stiglitz was chief economist for the World Bank and took issue with the way Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and Summers, who was then deputy secretary, were handling the Asian "contagion" financial collapse. After World Bank president James Wolfensohn declined to reappoint him in 1999, Stiglitz became convinced that Summers was behind the slight. Summers denies this...
Some use the term “neo-feudalism” to characterize operation of the USA and "friends" in xUSSR space but they are essentially neocolonialism. When open brutal used of military force for conquering nations was substitutes by financial instruments. But neoliberalism definitely use neo-feudal methods, and that includes usage of neoclassic economics in the USA. Here I mean use of neoclassic economic as a new religion that justify and "bless" neoliberal social order. Essentially the same role that Catholic church played for classic feudalism. It serves as "An opium for the masses", if we use slightly overdone Marx quote ;-)
While related to economic rape of Russia, Shleifer's story has a wider meaning as an apt symbol of "post-modern" corruption at universities and especially in Harvard where students were actively indoctrinated in pseudoscientific theories which constitute a theoretical framework of casino capitalism serving simultaneously as the role of ideology which is not that far from the role of Marxism in the USSR. Here is Anna Willamson view (The Rape of Russia, Testimony of Anne Williamson Before the House Banking Committee)
From the perspective of the many millions of her children, Mother Russia in late 1991 was like an old woman, skirts yanked above her waist, who had been abandoned flat on her back at a muddy crossroads, the object of others' scorn, greed and unseemly curiosity. It is the Russian people who kept their wits about them, helped her to her feet, dusted her off, straightened her clothing, righted her head scarf and it is they who can restore her dignity - not Boris Yeltsin, not Anatole Chubais, not Boris Berezovsky nor any of the other aspirants to power. And it is the Russian people - their abilities, efforts and dreams - which comprise the Russian economy, not those of Vladimir Potanin or Viktor Chernomyrdin or Mikhail Khodorkovsky or Vladimir Gusinsky. And that is where we should have placed our bet - on the Russian people - and our stake should have been the decency, the common sense and abilities of our own citizens realized not through multilateral lending but through the use of tax credits for direct investment in the Russian economy and the training of Russian workers on 6-month to one year stints at the U.S. offices of American firms in conjunction with the elimination of U.S. tariffs on Russian goods.
Russia is a fabled land, home to a unique and provocative thousand year-old culture, and a country rich in the resources the world needs whose people had the courage and resilience to defeat this century’s greatest war machine, Hitler’s invading Wehrmacht. Yet, thanks to Boris Yeltsin’s thirst for power and megalomaniacal inadequacy, Russia has become the latest victim of American expediency and of a culturally hollow and economically predatory globalism. Consequently, Americans, who thought their money was helping a stricken land, have been dishonored; and the Russian people who trusted us are now in debt twice what they were in 1991 and rightly feel themselves betrayed.
The worst of it was that some pretty good ideas - private property, sound money, minimal government, the inviolability of contract and public accountability - that have delivered to the West’s citizenry the most prosperity and the most liberty in world history, and might have done the same for the Russians, were twisted into perverse constructions and only then exported via a Harvard-connected cabal of Clinton administration appointees who funded - without competition - their allies at Harvard University courtesy the public purse. Joining the US-directed effort were the usual legions of overpaid IMF/World Bank advisers whose lending terror continues to encircle the globe.
As reader with nickname DownSouth commented on Naked Capitalism blog (Obama Administration “Nothing to See Here” on Foreclosure Crisis « naked capitalism), historically one of the most powerful forces that supported feudalism in Europe were Catholic and Orthodox churches: the feudal order was upheld by the Church’s priestly class allied with European royalty.
In the modern USA something similar can be said about the relations of the neoclassical economists and bankers. It wasn’t meant to be this way, either with the priests of old or the priests of new. As Robert H. Nelson points out in Economics as Religion,
…Samuelson followed the Roman Catholic model. The members of the economics profession, and other scientific and professional elites, would be motivated by the higher considerations of a priesthood, as compared with businesspeople and other ordinary citizens in the commercial realm. There would be no popular votes held for the scientific leaders of society. Samuelson acknowledged the practical necessity to allow wide rein for the pursuit of self-interest in the marketplace. However, the professional economists and other scientific managers of the progressive state would function according to the ethical standard of the Roman Catholic priesthood. They would reject the commercial motive of self-interest and instead act in their professional and public capacity to serve the common good—-“the public interest”—-of all of society.
In Darwin’s Cathedral David Sloan Wilson made the observation that all major churches seem to have a “life cycle.”
Religious denominations range from huge established churches that encompass most of the population to tiny sects that reject the larger churches as corrupt and regard themselves as keepers of the original faith. The huge established churches begin as sects, grow into churches, give rise to offspring sects, and then mysteriously fall into senility, to be replaced by their own offspring sects. I would just add that it seems like theology follows function in this life cycle.
For instance, as Wilson points out, the early Christian church, while it was still a small sect, had “a policy of extreme altruism and forgiveness toward the downtrodden” and “a policy of unyielding opposition” toward the main Jewish religious institutions, which it perceived to be in league with the Roman Empire. As the Christian church matured and became the established church, however, it became part and parcel of the power structure, championing it and defending it against the downtrodden. What began as a small sect with a theology based upon knowledge and moral authority morphed into a church whose theology was all about defending wealth and power.
Eventually a new sect rose to challenge this priestly class. As Nelson explains:
Indeed, it was this strong distinction between ordinary people and the church priesthood that, among a number of other tenets of Catholic doctrine, incurred the wrath of Martin Luther. Luther saw the Roman Catholic Church as selling ordinary people short and thus declared a new Protestant “priesthood of all believers.” The ministry of the Protestant churches would stand on an equal plane with the faithful—-both, for example, would marry. The leadership of Protestant parishes would be elected by the ordinary members of the church, while the Roman Catholic Church would continue to select its own leaders in a hierarchal fashion, as when the pope designates the cardinals of the church.
What Luther had to say about the priestly class of the Medieval Catholic Church rings true about modern-day high priests of "casino capitalism", the neoclassical economists of "Harvard Mafia". As Luther wrote the Pope in letter in 1520:
But they See, which is called the Roman Curia, and of which neither thou nor any man can deny that is more corrupt than any Babylon or Sodom ever was, and which is, as far as I can see, characterized by a totally depraved, hopeless, and notorious wickedness—-that See I have truly despised… The Roman Church has become the most licentious den of thieves, the most shameless of all brothels, the kingdom of sin, death, and hell… They err who ascribe to thee the right of interpreting the Scripture, for under cover of thy name they seek to set up their own wickedness in the Church, and, alas, through them Satan has already made much headway under thy predecessors. In short, believe none who exalt thee, believe those who humble thee.
Now there is an indirect evidence of participation of of British intelligence agencies such as MI6 in Russia privatization scam. And the point man for such investigation is William Brower, who recently got nine years of jail (in absentia) from Russian court.
William Browder controversy which emerged after Putin mentioned him during Trump-Putin summit in Helsinky in July 2017 shed some light on MI6 role in economic rape of Russia and other post Soviet republics. Especially interesting is the following video EXCLUSIVE Russian TV Bill Browder is CIA agent, recruited Navalny. Browder furious! Navalny sues! - YouTube
Browder was one of financial sharks (or as one Amazon reviewer of his book called him "financial crack cocaine seller" -- the term applicable to the whole Harvard mafia) who somehow was extracted for Solonon brothers and went to Russia. He voluntarily put himself in substantial danger getting into environment which he completely did not understand and with very little many from a dubious source. Which might be explainable if he was assigned a specific task by MI6. After all according to some sources Bill Browder’ grandma, Raissa Berkman, was an agent for the KGB ( http://spartacus-educational.com/USAbrowder.htm ).
The Vortex, July 27, 2018 at 8:32 am GMT • 100 Words
Dear Mister/Miss Robin G.,
...The following is a PASTE from an electronic mail message REPLY to me from a friend in the know whom I can’t reveal all of his name but just John, which I believe you shall find interesting:
Browder could be CIA or Mossad or NSA or Naval Intel or something we don’t even know or a combination of all of the above. Or, just a no-good slimy person.
Plus, Fletcher Prouty said that many times people are working for intelligence and don’t even know it. Entire military units are under CIA command and don’t know it.
Another Amazon reviewer of his book described one of the criminal scheme Brower used (he used several)
A Self-Congratulatory Book with a Mission
By Patricia5115 on March 22, 2015
The book was fun to read, like a Marvel comic book. Truly Bill Browder is, according to Bill Browder, a brilliant man willing to take daring risks where he sees an opportunity for personal gain. And I have to agree with him. With his inherited genetic intelligence, and some of the best education money can buy, he made himself enormously rich profiting from financial transactions that produced nothing of real value. I found this book to be quite self-congratulatory, written with no embarrassment for taking advantage of a whole population.
As Browder writes, “I found that to transition from communism to capitalism, the Russian government had decided to give away most of the state’s property to the people. The government was going about this in a number of ways, but the most interesting was something called voucher privatization. The government granted one privatization certificate to every Russian citizen---roughly 150 million people in total—and taken together these were exchangeable for 30 % of nearly all Russian companies.“ “The market price of the vouchers equaled 3 billion…this meant that the valuation of the entire Russian economy was only 10 billion! That was one-sixth the value of Wal-Mart!” “Russia had 24% of the word’s natural gas, 9% of the world’s oil, and produced 6.6 % of the world’s steel, among many other things. Yet this incredible trove of resources [owned by ordinary Russian citizens] was trading for a mere 10 billion! Even more astonishing was that there were no restrictions on who could purchase these vouchers. I could buy them, anyone could buy them.” He recounts, “The Russian people had no idea what to do with the vouchers when they received them for free from the state and, in most cases, were happy to trade them for a $7 bottle of vodka or a few slabs of pork.” Mr. Browder took advantage of their ignorance and brought millions of vouchers from the Russian people for a pittance of their true value. This is something to brag about? It is not laudable to buy something for a pittance of its real worth, from owners who have no idea of its true value. It is reprehensible. It was disturbing to me to see no introspection on the rightness or wrongness of beating someone out of his or her money.
Mr. Browder describes in his Sidanco deal the feeling he has when an opportunity for ungodly gains presents itself, “I had that tingling, greedy tension in my gut, similar to when I saw my $2,000 Polish investment multiply by nearly ten times, or when I unearthed the Russian voucher scheme.”
Greed is not a virtue, Mr. Browder. It is a vice.
Reviewer Ian Kaplan wrote:
The second half of the book is about how Putin's gang tried to crush Hermitage Capital and everyone associated with it.”
And, I would add, how Browder’s gang is trying to crush Putin. It makes me think that a large part of Mr. Browder’s dogged determination in pushing the Maginsky Act through Congress, and signed into law, was not so much a humanitarian turn of the leaf for him, but a strategy to enlist the whole backing of the United States into his personal war with Putin, who put him out of a lucrative business in Russia.
And there there is Necrasov's documentary which Brower successfully blocked from distribution in EU and the USA. Could he done so without the support of intelligence services?Skeptikal says:
July 23, 2018 at 11:21 am GMT • 200 Words
Which also raised the question why Browder duped the US congress so easily. Was the US congress ready to be duped because Browder served as a pawn in a large operation "Containing Russia"?
Oct 05, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
likbez -> anne... , October 05, 2019 at 04:40 PMAnne,
Let me serve as a devil advocate here.
Japan has a shrinking population. Can you explain to me why on the Earth they need economic growth?
This preoccupation with "growth" (with narrow and false one dimensional and very questionable measurements via GDP, which includes the FIRE sector) is a fallacy promoted by neoliberalism.
Neoliberalism proved to be quite sophisticated religions with its own set of True Believers in Eric Hoffer's terminology.
A lot of current economic statistics suffer from "mathiness".
For example, the narrow definition of unemployment used in U3 is just a classic example of pseudoscience in full bloom. It can be mentioned only if U6 mentioned first. Otherwise, this is another "opium for the people" ;-) An attempt to hide the real situation in the neoliberal "job market" in which has sustained real unemployment rate is always over 10% and which has a disappearing pool of well-paying middle-class jobs. Which produced current narco-epidemics (in 2018, 1400 people were shot in half a year in Chicago ( http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-weekend-shooting-violence-20180709-story.html ); imagine that). While I doubt that people will hang Pelosi on the street post, her successor might not be so lucky ;-)
Everything is fake in the current neoliberal discourse, be it political or economic, and it is not that easy to understand how they are deceiving us. Lies that are so sophisticated that often it is impossible to tell they are actually lies, not facts. The whole neoliberal society is just big an Empire of Illusions, the kingdom of lies and distortions.
I would call it a new type of theocratic state if you wish.
And probably only one in ten, if not one in a hundred economists deserve to be called scientists. Most are charlatans pushing fake papers on useless conferences.
It is simply amazing that the neoliberal society, which is based on "universal deception," can exist for so long.
Sep 04, 2019 | moonofalabama.org
vk, Sep 4 2019 19:44 utc | 81@ Posted by: Arioch | Sep 4 2019 15:25 utc | 67
Except for the fact that the USSR, and later the Russian Federation, learned with Chernobyl and fixed the RBMK. There are still (fixed design version) RBMK in operation in Russia plus a successor (MKER) based on the same design.
The HBO series has many dramatisations that border propaganda. The most grave of them, in my opinion, was during the fictional Legasov speech, when he stated the RBMK was designed purely because the USSR liked to make its stuff "cheap".
The RBMK was indeed much cheaper to produce than its competitors of the time, but its design was legit, with many even revolutionary aspects (being small and powerful for its size). It was updated and produced the aforementioned successor.
It certainly wasn't "cheap" in the sense the USSR disregarded human life as the TV series made it look like.
Sep 08, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
likbez -> ilsm... , September 08, 2019 at 08:20 PMThis is a very complex issue. And I do not pretend that I am right, but I think Brad is way too superficial to be taken seriously.
IMHO it was neoliberalism that won the cold war. That means that the key neoliberal "scholars" like Friedman and Hayek and other intellectual prostitutes of financial oligarchy who helped to restore their power. Certain democratic politicians like Carter also were the major figures. Carter actually started neoliberalization of the USA, continued by Reagan,
Former Trotskyites starting from Burnham which later became known as neoconservatives also deserve to be mentioned.
It is also questionable that the USA explicitly won the cold war. Paradoxically the other victim of the global neoliberal revolution was the USA, the lower 90% of the USA population to be exact.
So there was no winners other the financial oligarchy (the transnational class.)
As for the USSR, the Soviet elite changed sides. I think Putin once said that Soviet system was "unviable" to begin with. And that's pretty precise diagnosis: as soon as the theocratic elite degenerates, it defects; and the state and the majority of the population eventually fall on their own sword.
And the USSR clearly was a variation of a theocratic state. That explain also a very high, damaging the economy, level of centralization (the country as a single corporation) and the high level of ideology/religion-based repression (compare with Iran and Islamic state jihadists.)
The degeneration started with the death of the last charismatic leader (Stalin) and the passing of the generation which remembers that actual warts of capitalism and could relate them to the "Soviet socialism" solutions.
So after the WWII the ideology of Bolshevism was dead as it became clear that Soviet style theocratic state is unable to produce standard of living which Western social democracies were able to produce for their citizens. Rapid degeneration of the theocratic Bolshevik elite (aka Nomenklatura) also played an important role.
With bolshevism as the official religion, which can't be questioned, the society was way too rigid and suppressed "entrepreneurial initiative" (which leads to enrichment of particular individuals, but also to the benefits to the society as whole), to the extent that was counterproductive. The level of dogmatism in this area was probably as close to the medieval position of Roman Catholic Church as we can get; in this sense it was only national that Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became a pope John Paul II -- he was very well prepared indeed ;-).
It is important to understand that the Soviet elite changed sides completely voluntarily. Paradoxically it was high level of KGB functionaries who were instrumental in conversion to neoliberalism, starting with Andropov. It was Andropov, who created the plan of transition of the USSR to neoliberalism, the plan that Gorbachov tried to implement and miserably failed.
So the system exploded from within because the Party elite became infected with neoliberalism (which was stupid, but reflects the level of degeneration of the Soviet elite).
The major USA contribution other then supplying the new ideology for the Soviet elite was via CIA injecting God know how much money to bribe top officials.
As Gorbachov was a second rate (if not the third rate) politician, he allowed the situation to run out of control. And the efforts to "rock" the system were fueled internally by emerging (as the result of Perestroika; which was a reincarnation of Lenin's idea of NEP) class of neoliberal Nouveau riche (which run the USSR "shadow economy" which emerged under Brezhnev) and by nationalist sentiments (those element were clearly supported by the USA and other Western countries money as well as via subversive efforts of national diaspora residing in the USA and Canada) and certain national minorities within the USSR.
Explosion of far right nationalist sentiments without "Countervailing ideology" as Bolshevism was not taken seriously anymore was the key factor that led to the dissolution of the USSR.
Essentially national movements allied with Germany that were defeated during WWII became the winners.
The brutal economic rape of the xUSSR space and generally of the whole former Soviet block by the "collective neoliberal West" naturally followed. Which had shown everybody that the vanguard of Perestroika were simply filthy compradors, who can't care less about regular citizens and their sufferings.
And the backlash created conditions for Putin coming to power.
BTW this huge amount of loot postponed the internal crisis of neoliberalism which happened in the USA in 2008 probably by ten years. And it (along with a couple of other factors such as telecommunication revolution) explain relative prosperity of Clinton presidency. Criminal Clinton presidency I should say.
BTW few republics in former USSR space managed to achieve the standard of living equal to the best years of the USSR (early 80th I think) See https://web.williams.edu/Economics/brainerd/papers/ussr_july08.pdf
The majority of the xUSSR space countries have now dismal standard of living and slided into Latin American level of inequality and corruption (not without help of the USA).
Several have civil wars in the period since getting independence, which further depressed the standard living. Most deindustrialize.
Generally when the particular ideology collapses, far right nationalism fills the void. We see this now with the slow collapse of neoliberalism in the USA and Western Europe.
Chinese learned a lot from Gorbachov's fatal mistakes and have better economic results as the result of the conversion to the neoliberalism ("from the above"), although at the end Chinese elite is not that different from Soviet elite and also is corruptible and can eventually change sides.
But they managed to survive the "triumphal march of neoliberalism" (1980-2000) and now the danger is less as neoliberalism is clearly the good with expired "use by" date: after 2008 the neoliberal ideology was completely discredited and entered "zombie" state.
So in the worst case it is the USA which might follow the path of the USSR and eventually disintegrate under the pressure of internal nationalist sentiments. Such a victor...
Even now there are some visible difference between former Confederacy states and other states on the issues such as immigration and federal redistributive programs.
Nov 06, 2018 | www.wsws.orgWhite House report on socialism
Last month, the Council of Economic Advisers, an agency of the Trump White House, released an extraordinary report titled "The Opportunity Costs of Socialism." The report begins with the statement: "Coincident with the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx's birth, socialism is making a comeback in American political discourse. Detailed policy proposals from self-declared socialists are gaining support in Congress and among much of the younger electorate."
The very fact that the US government officially acknowledges a growth of popular support for socialism, particularly among the nation's youth, testifies to vast changes taking place in the political consciousness of the working class and the terror this is striking within the ruling elite. America is, after all, a country where anti-communism was for the greater part of a century a state-sponsored secular religion. No ruling class has so ruthlessly sought to exclude socialist politics from political discourse as the American ruling class.
The 70-page document is itself an inane right-wing screed. It seeks to discredit socialism by identifying it with capitalist countries such as Venezuela that have expanded state ownership of parts of the economy while protecting private ownership of the banks, and, with the post-2008 collapse of oil and other commodity prices, increasingly attacked the living standards of the working class.
It identifies socialism with proposals for mild social reform such as "Medicare for all," raised and increasingly abandoned by a section of the Democratic Party. It cites Milton Friedman and Margaret Thatcher to promote the virtues of "economic freedom," i.e., the unrestrained operation of the capitalist market, and to denounce all social reforms, business regulations, tax increases or anything else that impinges on the oligarchy's self-enrichment.
The report's arguments and themes find expression in the fascistic campaign speeches of Donald Trump, who routinely and absurdly attacks the Democrats as socialists and accuses them of seeking to turn America into another "socialist" Venezuela.
What has prompted this effort to blackguard socialism?
A series of recent polls in the US and Europe have shown a sharp growth of popular disgust with capitalism and support for socialism. In May of 2017, in a survey conducted by the Union of European Broadcasters of people aged 18 to 35, more than half said they would participate in a "large-scale uprising." Nine out of 10 agreed with the statement, "Banks and money rule the world."
Last November, a poll conducted by YouGov showed that 51 percent of Americans between the ages of 21 and 29 would prefer to live in a socialist or communist country than in a capitalist country.
In August of this year, a Gallup poll found that for the first time since the organization began tracking the figure, fewer than half of Americans aged 18–29 had a positive view of capitalism, while more than half had a positive view of socialism. The percentage of young people viewing capitalism positively fell from 68 percent in 2010 to 45 percent this year, a 23-percentage point drop in just eight years.
This surge in interest in socialism is bound up with a resurgence of class struggle in the US and internationally. In the United States, the number of major strikes so far this year, 21, is triple the number in 2017. The ruling class was particularly terrified by the teachers' walkouts earlier this year because the biggest strikes were organized by rank-and-file educators in a rebellion against the unions, reflecting the weakening grip of the pro-corporate organizations that have suppressed the class struggle for decades.
The growth of the class struggle is an objective process that is driven by the global crisis of capitalism , which finds its most acute social and political expression in the center of world capitalism -- the United States. It is the class struggle that provides the key to the fight for genuine socialism.
Masses of workers and youth are being driven into struggle and politically radicalized by decades of uninterrupted war and the staggering growth of social inequality. This process has accelerated during the 10 years since the Wall Street crash of 2008. The Obama years saw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in history, the escalation of the wars begun under Bush and their spread to Libya, Syria and Yemen, and the intensification of mass surveillance, attacks on immigrants and other police state measures.
This paved the way for the elevation of Trump, the personification of the criminality and backwardness of the ruling oligarchy.
Under conditions where the typical CEO in the US now makes in a single day almost as much as the average worker makes in an entire year, and the net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans has doubled over the past decade, the working class is looking for a radical alternative to the status quo. As the Socialist Equality Party wrote in its program eight years ago, " The Breakdown of Capitalism and the Fight for Socialism in the United States ":
The change in objective conditions, however, will lead American workers to change their minds. The reality of capitalism will provide workers with many reasons to fight for a fundamental and revolutionary change in the economic organization of society.
The response of the ruling class is two-fold. First, the abandonment of bourgeois democratic forms of rule and the turn toward dictatorship. The run-up to the midterm elections has revealed the advanced stage of these preparations, with Trump's fascistic attacks on immigrants, deployment of troops to the border, threats to gun down unarmed men, women and children seeking asylum, and his pledge to overturn the 14th Amendment establishing birthright citizenship.
That this has evoked no serious opposition from the Democrats and the media makes clear that the entire ruling class is united around a turn to authoritarianism. Indeed, the Democrats are spearheading the drive to censor the internet in order to silence left-wing and socialist opposition.
The second response is to promote phony socialists such as Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and other pseudo-left organizations in order to confuse the working class and channel its opposition back behind the Democratic Party.
In 2018, with Sanders totally integrated into the Democratic Party leadership, this role has been largely delegated to the DSA, which functions as an arm of the Democrats. Two DSA members, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Rashida Tlaib in Detroit, are likely to win seats in the House of Representatives as candidates of the Democratic Party.
The closer they come to taking office, the more they seek to distance themselves from their supposed socialist affiliation. Ocasio-Cortez, for example, joined Sanders in eulogizing the recently deceased war-monger John McCain, refused to answer when asked if she opposed the US wars in the Middle East, and dropped her campaign call for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The working class and youth are increasingly looking for a socialist alternative, but their understanding of socialism and its history is limited. Here the role of the revolutionary party, the Socialist Equality Party, is critical. It alone seeks to arm the emerging mass movement of the working class with a genuine revolutionary, socialist and internationalist program.
The SEP fights to mobilize and unite the working class in the US and internationally in opposition to the entire ruling elite and all of its bribed politicians and parties. As our program explains:
But socialism will be achieved only through the establishment of workers' power. This will be a difficult struggle Socialism is not a gift to be given to the working class. It must be fought for and won by the working class itself.
The task facing workers and youth looking for the way to fight against war, inequality, poverty and repression is to join and build the Socialist Equality Party to lead the coming mass struggles of the working class.
Sep 13, 2019 | www.wsws.org
This lecture was delivered by Bill Van Auken, senior writer for the World Socialist Web Site , at the Socialist Equality Party (US) Summer School on July 25, 2019.
It is now nearly three decades since the deliberate liquidation of the Soviet Union by the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy and the launching of the First Persian Gulf War, which began in January 1991. This war, which involved the deployment of over half a million US troops -- more than twice the number sent into the 2003 invasion of Iraq -- clearly marked a turning point in the development of US and world imperialism.
It likewise marked a turning point for the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). Objective developments, in particular the disintegration of Stalinism, intersected with the protracted struggle of the ICFI against Pabloite revisionism, culminating in the 1985 split and the consolidation of control by the orthodox Trotskyists, for the first time since the founding of the International Committee in 1953. This signaled a fundamental change in the relationship between the Fourth International and the working class.
Grasping that change, the ICFI sought to shoulder the immense political responsibility of leading the international working class, which found concrete expression in the convening of the extraordinarily important "World Conference of Workers against War and Colonialism" held in Berlin in November 1991, to which we will return.
The sharp turn by US imperialism toward unilateralism and militarism, consummated in the Gulf War of 1991, was bound up with the protracted crisis of American capitalism and the relative decline of its domination of the global economy. With the demise of the USSR, US imperialism concluded that it could now offset the challenge that American corporations faced from rivals in Europe and Japan, which had been growing since the 1970s, through the relatively untrammeled use of the US armed forces.Demolished vehicles line Highway 80, also known as the "Highway of Death", the route fleeing Iraqi forces took as they retreated fom Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. [Credit: U.S. Air Force]
In the case of the Persian Gulf, the US military could be used to secure unchallenged American supremacy in the world's most important oil-producing region, which would put Washington in a position to blackmail its oil-import-dependent European and Asian imperialist rivals with the threat of cutting off their energy supplies. As President George H.W. Bush would declare, in the run-up to the Gulf war, an attack on Iraq would give the US "persuasiveness that will lead to more harmonious trading relationships."
This was not a development that took us by surprise. In its 1988 Perspectives Resolution, the ICFI warned:
Despite the loss of its economic hegemony, the United States remains, militarily, the most powerful imperialist country, and reserves to itself the role of global policeman. But the conditions which prevailed in 1945 at the beginning of the so-called American Century have been drastically transformed. The loss of the economic preponderance which once made its word "law" among the major capitalist nations compels the United States to place ever-greater reliance on the brute force of its military strength. 
The resolution went on to declare that a prophecy made by Trotsky was about to be vindicated, quoting his War and the Fourth International from 1934. "The world is divided? It must be re-divided. For Germany it was a question of 'organizing Europe.' The United States must organize the world. History is bringing humanity face to face with the volcanic eruption of American imperialism." This was confirmed in barely two years.
There is an obvious continuity between these events of nearly 30 years ago and the present global political situation. The struggle to assert US hegemony over the Persian Gulf threatens to ignite a new and even more terrible war against Iran, a country with three times the population and four times the landmass of Iraq. The outbreak of a military confrontation is only a matter of time.
The last three decades have seen the United States engaged in continuous and ever-expanding warfare under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The drive to conquer and subjugate the lands of the Middle East and Central Asia is a consensus policy of the American ruling class. The results have included over a million dead in Iraq and hundreds of thousands more across Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen.
More and more these various conflicts threaten to metastasize into a Third World War. Preparations for a nuclear confrontation with Russia and China were chillingly described recently by the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the military's No. 1 priority. Meanwhile the Pentagon released a seemingly lunatic "joint doctrine" that goes well beyond Dr. Strangelove. It states: "nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of nuclear weapons will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and develop situations that call for commanders to win."
There is a worried sense within ruling circles that three decades of war have only created a series of debacles, and that US imperialism is confronting what is termed, in military and foreign policy circles, as "strategic competition" from Russia and China. At the same time, ever-sharper conflicts are emerging between Washington and its erstwhile NATO partners, in particular Germany, against which the US fought in two world wars.
The contradiction between the interdependent character of the global economy and the capitalist nation-state system is leading inexorably to a new world war.
Under these conditions, there have been several recent commentaries by US foreign policy analysts bemoaning the end of the "unipolar moment" proclaimed nearly 30 years ago, and looking back upon it with a certain nostalgia.
Among them is a piece published in Foreign Affairs by CNN's multi-millionaire pseudo-intellectual charlatan Fareed Zakaria, titled "The Self-Destruction of American Power." He writes:
Ever since the end of World War I, the United States has wanted to transform the world. In the 1990s, that seemed more possible than ever before. Countries across the planet were moving toward the American way. The Gulf War seemed to mark a new milestone for world order, in that it was prosecuted to uphold a norm legitimized by international law. 
The American way, world order, norms and international law: this is how these layers fondly recall a mass slaughter.
Zakaria pays special tribute to the individual who popularized the concept of the "unipolar moment," the extreme right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer, who wrote an article with that title, also in Foreign Affairs , in 1991. He promoted an unvarnished perspective of the unilateral use of US military aggression to assert the dominance of American capitalism around the globe.
Our best hope for safety in such times is in American strength and will to lead a unipolar world, unashamedly laying down the rules of world order and being prepared to enforce them," he wrote.
He went on to present the pretext for the next major US war: "There is no alternative to confronting, deterring and, if necessary, disarming states that brandish and use weapons of mass destruction. And there is no one to do that but the United States."
He further insisted that if US imperialism proved unable to maintain its unipolar moment it would be "not for foreign but for domestic reasons. ... stagnant productivity, declining work habits, rising demand for welfare state entitlements and new taste for ecological luxuries." He charged that while "defense spending declined, domestic entitlements nearly doubled." And, above all, he blamed "America's insatiable desire for yet higher standards of living without paying any of the cost." 
This, after a decade of unrelenting attacks on working class living standards in the wake of the breaking of the 1981 PATCO strike. The message was clear: imperialist war abroad had to be accompanied by an intensification of social counterrevolution and class war in the US itself.
Bush himself, in the run-up to the Gulf War, proclaimed that the unleashing of US military power, against a relatively defenseless oppressed country, would inaugurate a "New World Order."
The content of this "new world order" was never explained. The only thing that was clear was that the old world order had broken down and what was to replace it, in the first instance, was an eruption of US military violence.
The catastrophic breakdown of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union -- celebrated by facile bourgeois intellectuals as the "end of history" and the "triumph of capitalism" -- had removed a key prop of the old post-World War II order. Moreover, the very same forces of globalization of capitalist production and technological development that had fatally undermined the autarchic Stalinist economies were driving the entire world capitalist order into profound crisis.
... ... ...
It justified this threat on the basis of the "overwhelming dependence of Western nations on vital oil supplies from the Middle East." Carter's successor, Ronald Reagan, introduced the "Reagan corollary," vowing that the US would defend these vital oil interests against internal threats to stability as well.
The US government deliberately manufactured the pretext for its military intervention in the Persian Gulf. Tensions between Iraq and Kuwait had been growing since the end of the Iran-Iraq war, in which Washington had provided significant aid to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Kuwait's lowering of oil prices and its demand for debt payments had further undermined an Iraqi economy that had been battered by the war, while Baghdad claimed that Kuwait was carrying out slant drilling into Iraq's Rumaila oil field, on the border between the two countries.
The US ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, used a meeting on July 25, 1990 -- just weeks before Bush was to announce his "line in the sand" and launch the drive to war -- to assure Saddam Hussein of US friendship and sympathy, while telling him that Washington had "no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts like your border disagreement with Kuwait."
The trap having been laid, Saddam Hussein, driven by desperation over the mounting economic and social crisis in Iraq, quickly walked into it.
Like every US imperialist war waged in the name of liberation and democracy, the Gulf War was based on deception and lies.
The attempt was made to equate Saddam Hussein, whom Washington had only recently courted as an ally, with Adolf Hitler. This demonization would become a standard feature of every succeeding US war. It had, in fact, been used in what amounted to a dress rehearsal for the Gulf War, less than two years earlier. In preparing the invasion of Panama, the US State Department compared the involvement in the drug trade of Manuel Noriega -- a longtime CIA asset -- with Hitler's invasion of Poland.
A massive propaganda campaign was waged to sway US public opinion toward support for the Gulf war. This infamously included the testimony given by a 15-year-old girl to Congress, in which she tearfully recounted seeing armed Iraqi troops invading a hospital to steal incubators, throwing babies onto the floor to die. Only later was it revealed that the story was a complete fabrication. The girl had not been in Kuwait before, during or after the Iraqi invasion. She was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington and a member of the royal family, sent to read a script written by a major US PR firm.
Finally, Bush justified military intervention by claiming an imminent threat posed by Iraq's massing of 120,000 troops on Saudi Arabia's border. Satellite images subsequently revealed that there was nothing on the Kuwait-Saudi border but desert sand.
A critically important part of the report to the Special Congress of the Workers League in 1990 was the clarification of our attitude toward Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Initial responses within the International Committee had included its condemnation as an "act of aggression" by the British section, in an initial article published in its newspaper. On the other hand, there was a suggestion from within the Australian section, that we support the annexation of Kuwait as a "small step" in advancing "the unfulfilled national and democratic tasks of the Arab revolution."
The report made clear that we had no reason to condemn Iraqi aggression. Given the economic warfare waged by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia against Iraq in the run-up to the invasion, our concern was not who fired the first shot. Moreover, to take such a position would be to support the territorial integrity of Kuwait, a Sheikdom created by British imperialism, carved out of the southern Iraqi province of Basra, as a means of better dominating the Arabian Peninsula. The same is the case with virtually all the borders drawn by imperialist powers in the Middle East.
At the same time, in response to the suggestion from a member of the Australian section that we support Kuwait's annexation, it affirmed:
To attribute any progressive role to Hussein's invasion would lead the ICFI in a false direction and undermine the theoretical and political gains that have been made since 1985, in our collective struggle against the WRP's betrayal of the program of world socialist revolution.
Of course, this refers to the struggle waged against the Workers Revolutionary Party's abandonment of the Theory of Permanent Revolution, particularly in relation to its opportunist relations with various Arab regimes, systematically subordinating the independent struggle of the working class to the supposedly anti-imperialist stance of one or another bourgeois nationalist leader.
... ... ...
The US launched the Gulf War on January 16, 1991. Operation Desert Storm, as it was dubbed, consisted mainly of one of the most intensive air bombardments in military history. Eighty-eight thousand tons of munitions were dropped on Iraq in the course of just 42 days. This is roughly equivalent to one-fourth of the total bomb tonnage dropped on Germany during the entire Second World War. The Iraqi casualty totals were estimated at 135,000. Much of Iraq's conscript army was wiped out, with soldiers incinerated from the air or buried alive in their trenches. Hundreds of thousands more Iraqis, of course, died as a result of the systematic destruction of the country's infrastructure.
On the so-called Highway of Death, the US launched wave after wave of bombings against a defenseless, miles-long column of vehicles, carrying Iraqi troops as well as civilians withdrawing from Kuwait on the orders of the Hussein government, which announced that it was complying with a UN Resolution demanding the withdrawal.
As we stated in response to this war crime:
The US war against Iraq is among the most terrible crimes of the twentieth century, a slaughter that future generations will look back on with shame. It has demonstrated that the ruling class of so-called democratic America is just as capable of mass murder as the Nazis. 
The Wall Street Journal responded to the Gulf War with an editorial that stated:
For America's ruling elite, long at each other's throats, the path should be clearer now to reforming a working consensus about the US's world role. Some of the policy-making world's most divisive issues now look settled. Force is a legitimate tool of policy; it works. For the elites themselves, the message is America can lead, stop whining, think more boldly. Starting now. 
We understood this editorial, by the mouthpiece of US finance capital, as an accurate reflection of the pathological triumphalism prevailing within the American bourgeoisie.
The 11th Plenum of the International Committee was held on March 5, 1991, less than a week after the end of the Gulf War. Its opening report stated:
The American bourgeoisie is serving notice that American imperialism will seek through force to overcome problems arising from the protracted economic decline of the US. For all the problems of American capitalism -- the decay of its industrial base, the loss of its overseas markets, the massive trade deficits and budget deficits, the collapse of its banking system, the gangrenous growth of social ills -- the bourgeoisie believes it has found an answer: Force!
The report quotes the extremely relevant passage from Anti-Dühring , written 113 years earlier, in which Engels delivered a Marxist response to Dühring's claim that force was the decisive element in history:
...its own productive forces have grown beyond its control and, as if necessitated by a law of nature, are driving the whole of bourgeois society towards ruin, or revolution. And if the bourgeoisie now make their appeal to force in order to save the collapsing "economic situation" from the final crash, this only shows that they are laboring under the same delusion as Herr Dühring: the delusion that "political conditions are the decisive cause of the economic situation"; this only shows that they imagine, just as Herr Dühring does, that by making use of "the primary," "the direct political force," they can remodel those "facts of the second order," the economic situation and its inevitable development; and that therefore the economic consequences of the steam-engine and the modern machinery driven by it, of world trade and the banking and credit developments of the present day, can be blown out of existence by them with Krupp guns and Mauser rifles. 
Substitute computerization for the steam engine and smart bombs and cruise missiles for Krupp guns and Mausers and this statement stands as a fitting refutation of the triumphalist rantings of the US ruling class in the wake of the Gulf War.
... ... ...
Moreover, in the context of the Gulf War, the call for revolutionary defeatism from the standpoint of fighting the US military to the last Iraqi was senseless and reactionary. The military balance of forces was such that -- outside of the revolutionary mobilization of the masses of the Middle East and the working class in the US and beyond -- the military victory of the US was virtually assured. More fundamentally, it betrayed a complete disdain for and hostility to the fight against war based upon the struggle of the working class. It was entirely bound up with the Pabloite perspective that one or another form of "armed struggle," waged by non-proletarian forces, was the substitute for the revolutionary mobilization of the working class internationally, and particularly in the advanced capitalist countries.
The most decisive response of the ICFI to the Gulf War, US imperialism's "unipolar moment" and the march toward the restoration of capitalism and dissolution of the USSR, was the calling of the Berlin Conference against imperialist war and colonialism.
... ... ...
The war ushered in a period of capitalist disequilibrium that would last for three decades, dominated by capitalist crisis and overshadowed by the successful October 1917 Revolution in Russia, calling into question the very survival of the capitalist order.
The absence, however, of revolutionary parties -- particularly in Europe -- on a par with the Bolsheviks in Russia, allowed the bourgeoisie to defeat a series of revolutionary struggles. But they were unable to create a new equilibrium to replace what was shattered by 1914.
The rise of the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, led by Stalin, and the terrible degeneration of the Communist International as it was subordinated to the Stalinist theory of "socialism in one country" and Moscow's maneuvers with imperialism, led to a series of catastrophic defeats, above all in Germany. The coming to power of the Nazis in 1933, without a shot being fired, exposed the counterrevolutionary character of Stalinism, leading Trotsky to found the Fourth International.
The document establishes that the ability of the bourgeoisie to achieve a new equilibrium in the aftermath of World War II, which they could not do following World War I, was based not merely on the rise of US imperialism as a hegemonic power, but also the indispensable role of Stalinism. It opposed and sabotaged the revolutionary struggles of the working class in the aftermath of the war, particularly in Italy, France and Greece. In Eastern Europe, its establishment of so-called buffer states served not only to suppress the working class and any genuine struggle for socialism, but also to pacify a fractious region that had been a source of European instability since the dawn of the 20th century.
The equilibrium established at the end of World War II, however, as the document makes clear, was mined with its own contradictions. Its revival of world trade and rebuilding of capitalism in Europe and Japan led to the gradual decline of US hegemony, leading to mounting US deficits which, by 1985, had transformed America into a debtor nation.
Turning to the crisis in the United States, the manifesto sketches out a portrait that seems altogether contemporary:
Not a single significant piece of social legislation has passed through Congress in more than two decades [now we can say five decades ]. Massive budget cuts have destroyed what remains of the old social programs. The crime statistics are merely the most obvious symptoms of the malignant state of social relations. Amidst rapidly growing unemployment and, for those who still have jobs, declining wages, the state of education, housing and medical care is nothing less than catastrophic.
A third of the population is functionally illiterate. Not even the mass media can avoid reporting on a daily basis some of the more spectacular 'horror stories' of lives destroyed by the impact of the social crisis: homeless people freezing in cardboard boxes, cancer victims being denied treatment because they have no medical insurance and unemployed workers and their families committing suicide. 
... ... ...
The manifesto warned that these conflicts were being manipulated and exploited by the imperialist powers, while capitalism sought to divert popular indignation over social inequality into the blind alley of national and ethnic conflict.
The ability of reactionary petty-bourgeois demagogues to agitate for communal violence it said, "is to be attributed not to the intellectual and moral power of nationalism, but to the political vacuum left by the prostration of the traditional organizations of the working class, which offer no way out of the crisis of the capitalist system."
Between the calling of the conference on May 1, 1991 and its convening on November 16, events moved very rapidly, with Croatia and Slovenia both declaring their independence on June 25 of that year. Macedonia followed suit soon after, and the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina began its fragmentation into warring ethnic cantons. Armed clashes had broken out, particularly around the coastal city of Dubrovnik.US Army combat engineer vehicle demolishes a Bosnian Serb bunker near Dubrave, January 1996
The promotion of virulent ethno-chauvinism and national separatism was led by former bureaucrats of Yugoslavia's ruling League of Communists. They sought, on the one hand, to divide and suppress the Yugoslav working class, which had carried out a wave of mass strikes against the austerity measures imposed by the IMF as part of capitalist restoration. On the other, they were driven to carve out ethnic states in order to forge their own independent relations with imperialism as a new ruling class of comprador capitalists.
In his report to the conference, comrade North pointed to the attitude adopted by the Pabloite leader Ernest Mandel, who advocated unconditional support for the self-determination of Croatia, regardless of the character of the regime. Mandel moreover issued a call for direct imperialist intervention, denouncing Serbian chauvinism, while turning a blind eye to Croatian chauvinism.
This position dovetailed neatly with that of German imperialism, which was backing Croatian and Slovenian independence as part of a post-reunification reassertion of its power in Europe. German imperialism was returning to the scenes of its crimes in 1914 and 1941, unilaterally defying the United States, the United Nations and the European Commission.
The Berlin conference adopted a resolution titled "On the Defense of the Working Class in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union" which stated the following:
Everywhere rival capitalist cliques are stirring up nationalism and chauvinism, in order to incite the workers against each other and to preempt an uprising against the old and new oppressors. The bloodbath in Yugoslavia is a result of these policies. This war has nothing to do with the right of nations to self-determination. Serbian and Croatian nationalists are merely fighting to secure for themselves a larger portion of the exploitation of the working class. 
The history of Yugoslavia, its rise and fall, could be the subject for an entire school, as could the national question and the slogan of "self-determination." Clearly that cannot be accomplished in this lecture.
... ... ...
Not only the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia, but more fundamentally, the development of capitalist globalization, gave rise to a new type of nationalist movement, seeking the dismemberment of existing states -- including those that emerged out of the previous national struggles against colonialism -- to further the interests of rival bourgeois factions in establishing the most advantageous relations to imperialism and transnational capital.
This was patently the case in Yugoslavia, where the first impulse to break up the existing federation came from Slovenia and Croatia, the wealthiest regions of the country, where local ruling elites calculated that they could fare better by breaking with the poorer republics and establishing their own independent ties to European governments, banks and corporations.
Similar considerations have motivated a whole series of national separatist movements, including in Europe, in the cases of the right-wing Northern League in Italy and Catalan nationalism in Spain.
... ... ...
In conclusion: the so-called "Unipolar Moment" of 1990 and 1991, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the launching of the Gulf War, marked the collapse of the post-World War II equilibrium, established on the basis of the hegemony of American capitalism and the collaboration of the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy. It signaled the beginning of a new period of uninterrupted war, the growth of inter-imperialist rivalries, and inevitably, a global rise in the class struggle and socialist revolution.
... .. ...
-  The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International, Perspectives Resolution of the International Committee of the Fourth International , (Detroit: Labor Publications, 1988), p. 66.
-  Fareed Zakaria, "The Self-Destruction of American Power," Foreign Affairs , Vol. 98, No. 4, (July/August 2019)
-  Charles Krauthammer, "The Unipolar Moment," Foreign Affairs , Vol. 70, No. 1, (1990/1991), pp. 23–33
-  The Bulletin , March 1, 1991, "Bush is Guilty of Mass Murder"
-  Cited in Desert Slaughter, The Imperialist War Against Iraq , (Detroit: Labor Publications, 1991), p. 232.
-  Karl Marx Frederick Engels, Collected Works , Vol. 25, p. 153.
-  The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International, The Transitional Program , (New York: Labor Publications, 1981), p. 20.
-  Workers League Internal Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 15, p. 31.
-  Workers League Internal Bulletin , Vol. 5, No. 1, p. 2.
-  Oppose Imperialist War & Colonialism, Manifesto of the International Committee of the Fourth International , (Detroit: Labor Publications, 1991), p. 12.
-  Ibid., p. 24.
-  The Fourth International , Vol. 19, No. 1, Fall-Winter 1992, p. 11.
-  Ibid., p. 7.
-  Ibid., p. 9.
-  Ibid., p. 10
-  Ibid., p. 14
-  Ibid., p. 13.
-  Oppose Imperialist War & Colonialism , p. 16.
-  The Fourth International , Vol. 19, No. 1, p. 38.
-  On the Manifesto of the Armenian Social Democrats , Iskra, No. 33, Feb. 1, 1903, Lenin, Collected Works , Vol. 6, pp. 326–329.
Sep 09, 2019 | original.antiwar.com
When Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev received his peace prize in 1990, the Nobel Prize committee declared that "the two mighty power blocs, have managed to abandon their life-threatening confrontation" and confidently expressed that "It is our hope that we are now celebrating the end of the Cold War." Recently, U.N. General Secretary António Guterres funereally closed the celebrations with the realization that "The Cold War is back."
In a very short span of history, the window that had finally opened for Russia and the United States to build a new international system in which they work cooperatively to address areas of common interest had slammed back closed. How was that historic opportunity wasted? Why was the road from the Nobel committee's hope to the UN's eulogy such a short one?
The doctrinal narrative that is told in the U.S. is the narrative of a very short road whose every turn was signposted by Russian lies, betrayal, deception and aggression. The American telling of history is a tale in which every blow to the new peace was a Russian blow. The fact checked version offers a demythologized history that is unrecognizably different. The demythologized version is also a history of lies, betrayal, deception and aggression, but the liar, the aggressor, is not primarily Russia, but America. It is the history of a promise so historically broken that it laid the foundation of a new cold war.
But it was not the first promise the United States broke: it was not even the first promise they broke in the new cold war.
The Hot War
Most histories of the cold war begin at the dawn of the post World War II period. But the history of U.S-U.S.S.R. animosity starts long before that: it starts as soon as possible, and it was hot long before it turned cold.
The label "Red Scare" first appeared, not in the 1940s or 50s, but in 1919. Though it is a chapter seldom included in the history of American-Russian relations, America actively and aggressively intervened in the Russian civil war in an attempt to push the Communists back down. The United States cooperated with anti-Bolshevik forces: by mid 1918, President Woodrow Wilson had sent 13,000 American troops to Soviet soil. They would remain there for two years, killing and injuring thousands. Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev would later remind America of "the time you sent your troops to quell the revolution." Churchill would record for history the admission that the West "shot Soviet Russians on sight," that they were "invaders on Russian soil," that "[t]hey armed the enemies of the Soviet government," that "[t]hey blockaded its ports, and sunk its battleships. They earnestly desired and schemed for its downfall."
When the cause was lost, and the Bolsheviks secured power, most western countries refused to recognize the communist government. However, realism prevailed, and within a few short years, by the mid 1920s, most countries had recognized the communist government and restored diplomatic relations. All but the US It was not until several years later that Franklin D. Roosevelt finally recognized the Soviet government in 1933.
The Cold War
It would be a very short time before the diplomatic relations that followed the hot war would be followed by a cold war. It might even be possible to pin the beginning of the cold war down to a specific date. On April 22 and 23, President Truman told Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov to "Carry out his agreement" and establish a new, free, independent government in Poland as promised at Yalta. Molotov was stunned. He was stunned because it was not he that was breaking the agreement because that was not what Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin had agreed to at Yalta. The final wording of the Yalta agreement never mentioned replacing Soviet control of Poland.
The agreement that Roosevelt revealed to congress and shared with the world – the one that still dominates the textbook accounts and the media stories – is not the one he secretly shook on with Stalin. Roosevelt lied to congress and the American people. Then he lied to Stalin.
In exchange for Soviet support for the creation of the United Nations, Roosevelt secretly agreed to Soviet predominance in Poland and Eastern Europe. The cold war story that the Soviet Union marched into Eastern Europe and stole it for itself is a lie: Roosevelt handed it to them.
So did Churchill. If Roosevelt's motivation was getting the UN, Churchill's was getting Greece. Fearing that the Soviet Union would invade India and the oil fields of Iran, Churchill saw Greece as the geographical roadblock and determined to hold on to it at all cost. The cost, it turned out, was Romania. Churchill would give Stalin Romania to protect his borders; Stalin would give Churchill Greece to protect his empire's borders. The deal was sealed on October 9, 1944.
Churchill says that in their secret meeting, he asked Stalin, "how would it do for you to have ninety percent predominance in Romania, for us to have ninety percent predominance in Greece? . . ." He then went on to offer a fifty-fifty power split in in Yugoslavia and Hungary and to offer the Soviets seventy-five percent control of Bulgaria. The exact conversation may never have happened, according to the political record, but Churchill's account captures the spirit and certainly captures the secret agreement.
Contrary to the official narrative, Stalin never betrayed the west and stole Eastern Europe: Poland, Romania and the rest were given to him in secret. Then Roosevelt lied to congress and to the world.
That American lie raised the curtain on the cold war.
The New Cold War
Like the Cold War, the new cold war was triggered by an American lie. It was a lie so duplicitous, so all encompassing, that it would lead many Russians to see the agreement that ended the cold war as a devastating and humiliating deception that was really intended to clear the way for the US to surround and finally defeat the Soviet Union. It was a lie that tilled the soil for all future "Russian aggression."
At the close of the cold war, at a meeting held on February 9, 1990, George H.W. Bush's Secretary of State, James Baker, promised Gorbachev that if NATO got Germany and Russia pulled its troops out of East Germany, NATO would not expand east of Germany and engulf the former Soviet states. Gorbachev records in his memoirs that he agreed to Baker's terms "with the guarantee that NATO jurisdiction or troops would not extend east of the current line." In Super-power Illusions , Jack F. Matlock Jr., who was the American ambassador to Russia at the time and was present at the meeting, confirms Gorbachev's account, saying that it "coincides with my notes of the conversation except that mine indicate that Baker added "not one inch." Matlock adds that Gorbachev was assured that NATO would not move into Eastern Europe as the Warsaw Pact moved out, that "the understanding at Malta [was] that the United States would not 'take advantage' of a Soviet military withdrawal from Eastern Europe." At the February 9 meeting, Baker assured Gorbachev that "neither the President or I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place."
But the promise was not made just once, and it was not made just by the United States. The promise was made on two consecutive days: first by the Americans and then by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. According to West German foreign ministry documents, on February 10, 1990, the day after James Baker's promise, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher told his Soviet counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze "'For us . . . one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.' And because the conversation revolved mainly around East Germany, Genscher added explicitly: 'As far as the non-expansion of NATO is concerned, this also applies in general.'"
A few days earlier, on January 31, 1990, Genscher had said in a major speech that there would not be "an expansion of NATO territory to the east, in other words, closer to the borders of the Soviet Union."
Gorbachev says the promise was made not to expand NATO "as much as a thumb's width further to the east." Putin also says mourns the broken promise, asking at a conference in Munich in February 2007, "What happened to the assurances our Western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them."
Putin went on to remind his audience of the assurances by pointing out that the existence of the NATO promise is not just the perception of him and Gorbachev. It was also the view of the NATO General Secretary at the time: "But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. [Manfred] Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: 'The fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.' Where are those guarantees?"
Recent scholarship supports the Russian version of the story. Russian expert and Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent, Richard Sakwa says that "[r]ecent studies demonstrate that the commitment not to enlarge NATO covered the whole former Soviet bloc and not just East Germany." And Stephen Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Politics at Princeton University and of Russian Studies and History at New York University, adds that the National Security Archive has now published the actual documents detailing what Gorbachev was promised. Published on December 12, 2017, the documents finally, and authoritatively, reveal that "The truth, and the promises broken, are much more expansive than previously known: all of the Western powers involved – the US, the UK, France, Germany itself – made the same promise to Gorbachev on multiple occasions and in various emphatic ways."
That key promise made to Gorbachev was shattered, first by President Clinton and then subsequently supported by every American President: NATO engulfed Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in 1999; Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009 and, most recently, Montenegro.
It was this shattered promise, this primal betrayal, this NATO expansion to Russia's borders that created the conditions and causes of future conflicts and aggressions. When, in 2008, NATO promised Georgia and Ukraine eventual membership, Russia saw the threat of NATO encroaching right to its borders. It is in Georgia and Ukraine that Russia felt it had to draw the line with NATO encroachment into its core sphere of influence. Sakwa says that the war in Georgia was "the first war to stop NATO enlargement; Ukraine was the second." What are often cited as acts of Russian aggression that helped maintain the new cold war are properly understood as acts of Russian defense against US aggression that made a lie out of the promise that ended the Cold War.
When Clinton decided to break Bush's promise and betray Russia, George Kennen, father of the containment policy, warned that NATO expansion would be "the most fateful error of American foreign policy in the entire post-cold-war era." "Such a decision," he prophesied, "may be expected to . . . restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations . . .."
The broken promise restored the cold war. Though it is the most significant root of the new cold war, it was not the first. There was a prior broken promise, and this time the man who betrayed Russia was President H.W. Bush.
The end of the Cold War resulted from negotiations and not from any sort of military victory. Stephen Cohen says that "Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush negotiated with the last Soviet Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, what they said was the end of the Cold War on the shared, expressed premise that it was ending 'with no losers, only winners.'"
The end of the Cold War and the end of the Soviet Union occurred so closely chronologically that it permitted the American mythologizers to conflate them in the public imagination and create the doctrinal history in which the US defeat of the Soviet Union ended the cold war. But the US did not defeat the Soviet Union. Gorbachev brought about what Sakwa calls a "self-willed disintegration of the Soviet bloc." The Soviet Union came to an end, not by external force or pressure, but out of Gorbachev's recognition of the Soviet Union's own self interest. Matlock flatly states that "pressure from governments outside the Soviet Union, whether from America or Europe or anywhere else, had nothing to do with [the Soviet collapse]." "Cohen demythologizes the history by reinstating the chronological order: Gorbachev negotiated the end of the cold war "well before the disintegration of the Soviet Union." The Cold War officially ended well before the end of the Soviet Union with Gorbachev's December 7, 1988 address to the UN
Matlock says that "Gorbachev is right when he says that we all won the Cold War." He says that President Reagan would write in his notes, "Let there be no talk of winners and losers." When Gorbachev compelled the countries of the Warsaw Pact to adopt reforms like his perestroika in the Soviet Union and warmed them that the Soviet army would no longer be there to keep their communist regimes in power, Matlock points out in Superpower Illusions that "Bush assured Gorbachev that the United States would not claim victory if the Eastern Europeans were allowed to replace the Communist regimes that had been imposed on them." Both the reality and the promise were that there was no winner of the Cold War: it was a negotiated peace that was in the interest of both countries.
When in 1992, during his losing re-election campaign, President Bush arrogantly boasted that "We won the Cold War!" he broke his own promise to Gorbachev and helped plant the roots of the new cold war. "In psychological and political terms," Matlock says, "President Bush planted a landmine under the future U.S.-Russian relationship" when he broke his promise and made that claim.
Bush's broken promise had two significant effects. Psychologically, it created the appearance in the Russian psyche that Gorbachev had been tricked by America: it eroded trust in America and in the new peace. Politically, it created in the American psyche the false idea that Russia was a defeated country whose sphere of interest did not need to be considered. Both these perceptions contributed to the new cold war.
Not only was the broken promise of NATO expansion not the first broken American promise, it was also not the last. In 1997, when President Clinton made the decision to expand NATO much more than an inch to the east, he at least signed the Russia-NATO Founding Act , which explicitly promised that as NATO expanded east, there would be no "permanent stationing of substantial combat forces." This obliterated American promise planted the third root of the new cold war.
Since that third promise, NATO has, in the words of Stephen Cohen, built up its "permanent land, sea and air power near Russian territory, along with missile-defense installations." US and NATO weapons and troops have butted right up against Russia's borders, while anti-missile installations have surrounded it, leading to the feeling of betrayal in Russia and the fear of aggression. Among the earliest moves of the Trump administration were the moving of NATO troops into Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and nearby Norway.
Mikhail Gorbachev, who offered the West Russia and cooperation in place of the Soviet Union and Cold War, was rewarded with lies, broken promises and betrayal. That was the sowing of the first seeds of the new cold war. The second planting happened during the Yeltsin years that followed. During this stage, the Russian people were betrayed because their hopes for democracy and for an economic system compatible with the West were both destroyed by American intervention.
The goal, Matlock too gently explains, "had to be a shift of the bulk of the economy to private ownership." What transpired was what Naomi Klein called in The Shock Doctrine "one of the greatest crimes committed against a democracy in modern history." The States allowed no gradual transition. Matlock says the "Western experts advised a clean break with the past and a transition to private ownership without delay." But there was no legitimate private capital coming out of the communist system, so there was no private money with which to privatize. So, there was only one place for the money to come. As Matlock explains, the urgent transition allowed "privileged insiders[to] join the criminals who had been running a black market [and to] steal what they could, as fast as they could." The sudden, uncompromising transition imposed on Russia by the United States enabled, according to Cohen, "a small group of Kremlin-connected oligarchs to plunder Russia's richest assets and abet the plunging of some two-thirds of its people into poverty and misery."
The rape of Russia was funded, overseen and ordered by the United States and handed over by President George H.W. Bush to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Much of their advice, Matlock says generously, "was not only useless, but sometimes actually damaging."
Sometimes damaging? In the first year, millions lost their entire life savings. Subsidy cuts meant that many Russians didn't get paid at all. Klein says that by 1992, Russians were consuming 40% less than they were the year before, and one third of them had suddenly sunk below the poverty line. The economic policies wrestled onto Russia by the US and the transition experts and international development experts it funded and sent over led to, what Cohen calls, "the near ruination of Russia." Russia's reward for ending the Cold War and joining the Western economic community was, in Cohen's words, "the worst economic depression in peacetime, the disintegration of the highly professionalized Soviet middle class, mass poverty, plunging life expectancy [for men, it had fallen below sixty], the fostering of an oligarchic financial elite, the plundering of Russia's wealth, and more."
By the time Putin came to power in 2000, Cohen says, "some 75% of Russians were living in poverty." 75%! Millions and millions of Russian lives were destroyed by the American welcoming of Russia into the global economic community.
But before Putin came to power, there was more Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a necessity for Clinton and the United States because Yeltsin was the pliable puppet who would continue to enforce the cruel economic transition. But to continue the interference in, and betrayal of, the Russian people economically, it would now be necessary to interfere in and betray the Russian democracy.
In late 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin won a year of special powers from the Russian Parliament: for one year, he was to be, in effect, the dictator of Russia to facilitate the midwifery of the birth of a democratic Russia. In March of 1992, under pressure from the, by now, impoverished, devastated and discontented population, parliament repealed the dictatorial powers it had granted him. Yeltsin responded by declaring a state of emergency, re-bestowing upon himself the repealed dictatorial powers. Russia's Constitutional Court ruled that Yeltsin was acting outside the constitution. But the US sided – against the Russian people and against the Russian Constitutional Court – with Yeltsin.
Intoxicated with American support, Yeltsin dissolved the parliament that had rescinded his powers and abolished the constitution of which he was in violation. In a 636-2 vote, the Russian parliament impeached Yeltsin. But, President Clinton again sided with Yeltsin against the Russian people and the Russian law, backed him and gave him $2.5 billion in aid. Clinton was blocking the Russian people's choice of leaders.
Yeltsin took the money and sent police officers and elite paratroopers to surround the parliament building. Clinton "praised the Russian President has (sic) having done 'quite well' in managing the standoff with the Russian Parliament," as The New York Times reported at the time. Clinton added that he thought "the United States and the free world ought to hang in there" with their support of Yeltsin against his people, their constitution and their courts, and judged Yeltsin to be "on the right side of history."
On the right side of history and armed with machine guns and tanks, in October 1993, Yeltsin's troops opened fire on the crowd of protesters, killing about 100 people before setting the Russian parliament building on fire. By the time the day was over, Yeltsin's troops had killed approximately 500 people and wounded nearly 1,000. Still, Clinton stood with Yeltsin. He provided ludicrous cover for Yeltsin's massacre , claiming that "I don't see that he had any choice . If such a thing happened in the United States, you would have expected me to take tough action against it." Clinton's Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, said that the US supported Yeltsin's suspension of parliament in these "extraordinary times."
In 1996, elections were looming, and America's hegemonic dreams still needed Yeltsin in power. But it wasn't going to happen without help. Yeltsin's popularity was nonexistent, and his approval rating was at about 6%. According to Cohen, Clinton's interference in Russian politics, his "crusade" to "reform Russia," had by now become official policy . And so, America boldly interfered directly in Russian elections . Three American political consultants, receiving "direct assistance from Bill Clinton's White House," secretly ran Yeltsin's reelection campaign. As Time magazine broke the story , "For four months, a group of American political consultants clandestinely participated in guiding Yeltsin's campaign."
"Funded by the US government," Cohen reports, Americans "gave money to favored Russian politicians, instructed ministers, drafted legislation and presidential decrees, underwrote textbooks, and served at Yeltsin's reelection headquarters in 1996."
More incriminating still is that Richard Dresner, one of the three American consultants, maintained a direct line to Clinton's Chief Strategist, Dick Morris. According to reporting by Sean Guillory , in his book, Behind the Oval Office , Morris says that, with Clinton's approval, he received weekly briefings from Dresner that he would give to Clinton. Based on those briefings, Clinton would then provide recommendations to Dresner through Morris.
Then ambassador to Russia, Thomas Pickering, even pressured an opposing candidate to drop out of the election to improve Yeltsin's odds of winning.
The US not only helped run Yeltsin's campaign, they helped pay for it. The US backed a $10.2 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan for Russia, the second-biggest loan the IMF had ever given. The New York Times reported that the loan was "expected to be helpful to President Boris N. Yeltsin in the presidential election in June." The Times explained that the loan was "a vote of confidence" for Yeltsin who "has been lagging well behind in opinion polls" and added that the US Treasury Secretary "welcomed the fund's decision."
Yeltsin won the election by 13%, and Time magazine's cover declared: "Yanks to the rescue: The secret story of how American advisers helped Yeltsin win". Cohen reports that the US ambassador to Russia boasted that "without our leadership we would see a considerably different Russia today." That's a confession of election interference.
Asserting its right as the unipolar victor of a Cold War it never won, betraying the central promise of the negotiated end of the cold war by engulfing Russia's neighbors, arming those nations against its written and signed word and stealing all Russian hope in capitalism and democracy by kidnapping and torturing Russian capitalism and democracy, the roots of the new cold war were not planted by Russian lies and aggression, as the doctrinal Western version teaches, but by the American lies and aggression that the fact checked, demythologized version of history reveals.
Ted Snider writes on analyzing patterns in US foreign policy and history.
Sep 15, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
likbez -> anne... , September 14, 2019 at 08:30 PM"The US served as a benevolent hegemon, administering the occasional rap on the knuckles to those acting in bad faith"
USA foreign policy since 70th was controlled by neocons who as a typical Trotskyites (neoliberalism is actually Trotskyism for the rich) were/are hell-bent of world domination and practice gangster capitalism in foreign policy.
Bolton attitude to UN is very symptomatic for the neocons as a whole.
Madeline "not so bright" Allbright was the first swan. As well as Clinton attempts to bankrupt and subdue Russia and criminal (in a sense of no permission from the UN) attack on Yugoslavia. Both backfired: Russia became permanently hostile. The fact he and his coterie were not yet tried by something like Nuremberg tribunal is only due to the USA dominance at this stage of history.
The truth is that after the dissolution of the USSR the USA foreign policy became completely unhinged. And inside the country the elite became cannibalistic, as there was no external threat to its dominance in the form of the USSR.
The USA stated to behave like a typical Imperial state (New Rome, or, more correctly, London) accepting no rules/laws that are not written by themselves (and when it is convenient to obey them) with the only difference from the classic imperial states that the hegemony it not based on the military presence/occupation ( like was the case with British empire)
Although this is not completely true as there are 761 US Military Bases across the planet and only 46 Countries with no US military presence. Of them, seven countries with 13 New Military Bases were added since 09/11/2001.In 2001 the US had a quarter million troops posted abroad.
Still as an imperial state and the center of neoliberal empire the USA relies more on financial instruments and neoliberal comprador elite inside the country.
I recently learned from https://akarlin.com/2010/04/on-liberasts-and-liberasty/ that the derogatory term for the neoliberal part of the Russian elite is "liberasts" and this term gradually slipping into English language ( http://onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definition-of/liberast ;-)
With the collapse of neoliberal ideology in 2008 the USA centered neoliberal empire experiences first cracks. Brexit and election of Trump widened the cracks in a sense of further legitimizing the ruling neoliberal elite (big middle finger for Hillary was addressed to the elite as whole)
If oil price exceed $100 per barrel there will yet another crack or even repetition of the 2008 Great Recession on a new level (although we may argue that the Great Recession never ended and just entered in Summers terms "permanent stagnation: phase)
Although currently with a bully at the helm the USA empire still going strong in forcing vassals and competitors to reconsider their desire to challenge the USA that situation will not last. Trump currently is trying to neutralize the treat from China by rejecting classic neoliberal globalization mechanism as well as signed treaties like WTO. He might be successful in the short run but in the "long run" that undermines the USA centered neoliberal empire and speed up its demise. .
In the long run the future does not look too bright as crimes committed by the USA during triumphal period of neoliberalism hangs like albatross around the USA neck.
EU now definitely wants to play its own game as Macron recently stated and which Merkel tacitly supports. If EU allies with Russia it will became No.1 force in the world with the USA No. 2. With severe consequences for the USA.
If Russia allied with China the USA Np.1 position will hinge of keeping EU vassals in check and NATO in place. Without them it will became No.2 with fatal consequences for the dollar as world reserve currency and sudden change of the USA financial position due to the level of external debt and requires devaluation of the dollar.
Looks like 75 year after WWII the world started to self-organize a countervailing force trying to tame the USA with some interest expressed by such players as EU, Russia, China, India, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and even Saudi Arabia. As well as ( in the past; and possibly in the future as neoliberal counterrevolutions in both countries probably will end badly) by Brazil and Argentina.
Only Canada, Australia and probably UK can be counted as the reliable parts of the USA empire. That's not much.
Sep 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne , September 07, 2019 at 07:23 AMhttps://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/09/note-to-self-_the-ten-americans-who-did-the-most-to-win-the-cold-war-hoisted-from-the-archiveshttpswwwbradford-de.htmlanne -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 07:24 AM
September 5, 2019
Note to Self: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War *
Harry Dexter White... George Kennan... George Marshall... Arthur Vandenberg... Paul Hoffman... Dean Acheson... Harry S Truman... Dwight D. Eisenhower... Gerald Ford... George Shultz
-- Brad DeLonghttps://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/28/opinion/the-gop-won-the-cold-war-ridiculous.htmlilsm -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:28 AM
October 28, 1992
The G.O.P. Won the Cold War? Ridiculous.
By George F. Kennan
The claim heard in campaign rhetoric that the United States under Republican Party leadership "won the cold war" is intrinsically silly.
The suggestion that any Administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish. No great country has that sort of influence on the internal developments of any other one.
As early as the late 1940's, some of us living in Russia saw that the regime was becoming dangerously remote from the concerns and hopes of the Russian people. The original ideological and emotional motivation of Russian Communism had worn itself out and become lost in the exertions of the great war. And there was already apparent a growing generational gap in the regime.
These thoughts found a place in my so-called X article in Foreign Affairs in 1947, from which the policy of containment is widely seen to have originated. This perception was even more clearly expressed in a letter from Moscow written in 1952, when I was Ambassador there, to H. Freeman Matthews, a senior State Department official, excerpts from which also have been widely published. There were some of us to whom it was clear, even at that early date, that the regime as we had known it would not last for all time. We could not know when or how it would be changed; we knew only that change was inevitable and impending.
By the time Stalin died, in 1953, even many Communist Party members had come to see his dictatorship as grotesque, dangerous and unnecessary, and there was a general impression that far-reaching changes were in order.
Nikita Khrushchev took the leadership in the resulting liberalizing tendencies. He was in his crude way a firm Communist, but he was not wholly unopen to reasonable argument. His personality offered the greatest hope for internal political liberalization and relaxation of international tensions.
The downing of the U-2 spy plane in 1960, more than anything else, put an end to this hope. The episode humiliated Khrushchev and discredited his relatively moderate policies. It forced him to fall back, for the defense of his own political position, on a more strongly belligerent anti-American tone of public utterance.
The U-2 episode was the clearest example of that primacy of military over political policy that soon was to become an outstanding feature of American cold war policy. The extreme militarization of American discussion and policy, as promoted by hard-line circles over the ensuing 25 years, consistently strengthened comparable hard-liners in the Soviet Union.
The more America's political leaders were seen in Moscow as committed to an ultimate military rather than political resolution of Soviet-American tensions, the greater was the tendency in Moscow to tighten the controls by both party and police, and the greater the braking effect on all liberalizing tendencies in the regime. Thus the general effect of cold war extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980's....Very interesting observation.Plp -> ilsm... , September 07, 2019 at 08:58 AM
In the competition between major powers and/or alliances there are several somewhat complementary aspects of power: economic or physical aspect to create things of "value" (added by the commerce and industry of the entity), the military power, and moral aspects of the entity in terms of political and cultural resolve and unity.
Early in my time in the service, when I had time to think being at a remote station I decided the west had the marked economic advantage, particularly as the green revolution permitted some higher level of nutrition security.
Later on I recall discussions where the collapse of the Soviet Union was assured but would take in to the 21st century to occur. The big question then was "would a nuclear exchange occur in the way of a peaceful collapse".....
The presence of the A Bomb in some ways prevented war in other encouraged intrigue and small scrapes in to each other's spheres.
There was a bit of the Divine in the world getting through the Cold War.
The Berlin wall came down as hoped but 25 years earlier than I expected.Stalin built the party military complex that ran Russia from 1932 to 1989anne -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:14 AM
Cold war liberals built uncle's post was military industrial complex as a counterpart to Stalin's
alas thanx to guys from wasp firms on Wall Street like Dean Acheson that knew the planet was ours to pluck post 1946
These are important comments, and deserve to be saved and gradually expanded on. I appreciate this.ilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:35 AMAs an aside the Ukraine farmers whom Stalin "collectivized" were seen as impediment to industrializing.......anne -> ilsm... , September 07, 2019 at 09:15 AM
interesting too, how LBJ kept guns and butter and went pedal to the metal in Vietnam......
politics has always (since June 1950, anyway) "ended when the pentagon appropriations bills were up for enacting".
Which may be synonymous with the proscription about politics kept out of diplomacy?Do save and develop this interesting thinking further over time.Plp -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:46 AMKENNAN Was a lucky guy. He hit the right notes at the right time and then as he got second thoughts and better vision. Like yugoslaving peoples China in 1949Plp -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 08:53 AM
He was side tracked and then sent out to ivy pasturesU 2EMichael -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:18 AM
Nonsense. The moment to engage was 1953 -54 and yes a goo regime blocked it
But it was Truman that crossed the parallel in 1950 and tried to liberate north Korea
It was Kennedy that preferred brinksmanship to real engagement. Brush wars and regime change to accommodation. Missile racing to sensible unilateralism
Yes LBJ was an ignorant oaf on foreign policy. But it was Nixon that finally used PRC as Yugo twenty years too late of course
The cold war was invented by democrats and exploited by republicans for domestic shindiggery. Tragicomedy cinescope scaledYes, very clever how democrats coerced Stalin into annexing eastern Europe and placing millions of people under total control in every way of life.ilsm -> EMichael... , September 07, 2019 at 09:39 AM
Your ideology trumps facts when needed.democrats + Truman and Churchill......Plp -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:37 AM
Had FDR survived the 3 western sectors of Germany would have been demilitarized, and agrarian.
Churchill conned Truman to use Potsdam as a replay of Munich!
Keenan's angst was the "militarized" usurped "containment".
Stalin may not have been replaying 1938........Pompous banality worthy of a tenured entitled utterly secure mindPlp -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:39 AM
I don't like or respect Brad but I do enjoy him ss a punching bagNixon and Kissinger won the cold war For God sake. Everyone knows thatilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 08:51 AM
George Schultz and KENNAN?
Where's Joe McCarthy? And Paul NitzeWhere is Luce?ilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:27 AM
Truman and Acheson.... were there when Keenan went off to teach instead of be ignored.
Marshall aside from his plan, he and his Army staffers just off beating Hitler knew Chiang was not worth propping.
The Luce empire went all cold warrior over "who lost China" which gave Joe McCarthy a drum.:<)ilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:41 AM
You could have no Cold War without the agitprop. As with the GWOT today.
The one no loser in the demise of the commies: the MIC!As Vinegar Joe Stillwell observed.......anne -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 09:31 AM
eventually Stillwell went.Obviously since there is a determined American Cold War effort being waged right now, American historians were mistaken at the end of the 1980s. There had been no winning of the Cold War, nor even a clear and shared understanding of what the Cold War was about. If the Cold War was only about balancing the Soviet Union and developing economically far beyond the Soviet Union and Soviet ideas faltering, that happened. However, there was obviously more or with no Soviet Union to counter we would not now be taking policy steps to carry on the Cold War.
Aug 31, 2019 | Chris Fraser @ChrisFraser_HKU • Aug 27 \z
Replying to @edennnnnn_ @AMFChina @lihkg_forum
A related resource that deserves wide circulation:
Why nonviolent resistance beats violent force in effecting social, political change – Harvard Gazette
CHENOWETH: I think it really boils down to four different things. The first is a large and diverse participation that's sustained.
The second thing is that [the movement] needs to elicit loyalty shifts among security forces in particular, but also other elites. Security forces are important because they ultimately are the agents of repression, and their actions largely decide how violent the confrontation with -- and reaction to -- the nonviolent campaign is going to be in the end. But there are other security elites, economic and business elites, state media. There are lots of different pillars that support the status quo, and if they can be disrupted or coerced into noncooperation, then that's a decisive factor.
The third thing is that the campaigns need to be able to have more than just protests; there needs to be a lot of variation in the methods they use.
The fourth thing is that when campaigns are repressed -- which is basically inevitable for those calling for major changes -- they don't either descend into chaos or opt for using violence themselves. If campaigns allow their repression to throw the movement into total disarray or they use it as a pretext to militarize their campaign, then they're essentially co-signing what the regime wants -- for the resisters to play on its own playing field. And they're probably going to get totally crushed.
Wai Sing-Rin @waisingrin • Aug 27
Replying to @ChrisFraser_HKU @edennnnnn_ and 2 others
Anyone who watched the lone frontliner (w translator) sees the frontliners are headed for disaster. They're fighting just to fight with no plans nor objectives.
They see themselves as heroes protecting the HK they love. No doubt their sincerity, but there are 300 of them left.
Sep 09, 2019 | tass.com
Many voice conflicting judgments, but an impartial look back on history produces the unequivocal conclusion: yes, mistakes and shortcomings were many, but without perestroika the world would have never been what it is today MOSCOW, April 24. /TASS/. Thirty years after the Soviet leadership under Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on a policy of reforms that would go down in history under a name sounding very oddly to a foreign ear - perestroika - Russians are discussing those events of their country's recent history again. Many voice conflicting judgements, but an impartial look back on history produces the unequivocal conclusion: yes, mistakes and shortcomings were many, but without perestroika the world would have never been what it is today. On April 23, 1985 the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party gathered for its historic full-scale meeting to set course towards what was described as fundamental reorganization and acceleration of the Soviet Union's economic development after a long period of what was condemned as stagnation. The new course, originally expected to overhaul and invigorate the Soviet system, ended in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"The gist of what happened then was simple: at the very top a decision was a made the people are free to express their thought in public and for that they will neither risk losing their life or go to jail or even go jobless," says the founder of the Yabloko party, Grigory Yavlinsky. "There emerged the freedom of speech. The feeling of fear vanished. Full stop. All other processes that followed were nothing but consequences. The previous political system was built on falsehoods. The advent of truth caused a lethal effect on that system, and it fell apart."
"Perestroika's worst problem was there was no strategic planning. The reform plan and its end goal were very unclear all along," Sergey Filatov, the former chief of staff of Russia's first president Boris Yeltsin told TASS. "Without a plan the policy was doomed to fail."
And still, Filatov said, perestroika caused a tremendous impact: it triggered reforms and showed the people that changes were possible even under the old system.
"Perestroika was an intricate process," says Aleksei Makarkin, the first deputy president of the Political Technologies Centre. "It was first a belated attempt to reform the economy, then the ensuing chaos, and ultimately an attempt to defuse popular anger with political reform. The process eventually broke bounds. It all ended with the collapse of the country. Gorbachev merely tried to make that process controllable more or less," Makarkin told TASS.
Gorbachev was forced to launch economic reforms, because the main engine that kept the Soviet economy going was the export of oil. When oil prices slumped, something had to be done right away," Makarkin recalled. "His predecessors had drawn up no strategic plans. Nobody dared touch the system. Later, when some steps began to be taken at last, it turned out that no one had the slightest idea of how to go about that business. Conflicting decisions followed in quick succession. First, an attempt was made to speed up economic development and diversify the economy at a time when oil prices plummeted. In 1987 the attempt failed. Other remedies began to be tried. Some traces of a free market economy began to develop, such as cooperatives in the services and public catering. Some components of a controlled market economy cropped up."
The rapprochement with the West under Gorbachev was started with a far-reaching aim, Makarkin believes. In that situation the Soviet economy was no longer capable of carrying the burden of the Cold War and the arms race. "Without that no rapprochement might have ever happened. Also, there was the war in Afghanistan that had to be curtailed."
"In general, the Gorbachev era in home and foreign policies was that of haste, inconsistency, belated decisions and forced moves. In the meantime, the people's living standards slumped and protest sentiment soared. Attempts to woo the general public reached nowhere. In 1987-1988 social discontent soared and Boris Yeltsin emerged as its embodiment."
"Hoping to ease tensions in society political reforms were declared only to cause centrifugal processes," Makarkin recalls. "As a result, the Soviet republics began to drift ever farther apart - some before the August 1991 coup, and others after. A counter-attempt to create something like a federation or confederation drew strong objections from the hard-line conservatives, which led to the country's utter collapse.
But perestroika should not be painted only in dark colours, Makarkin said.
"One should remember that Gorbachev gave the people freedom - first, economic, and then political. For instance, the freedom to travel out of the country and back: something everybody takes for granted. It was under Gorbachev that the Church regained full legitimacy. Lastly, the freedom of speech, which has long become a fact of life."
"Also, Gorbachev largely takes the credit for avoiding a large-scale civil war and chaos and total chaos in a vast country, however tragic the unrest in Tbilisi, Vilnius and Nagorno-Karabakh of those days may still look these days. He decided against the extreme scenario implying the use of force, which many interpreted as a sign of weakness. It should be remembered: those who dared use force merely accelerated the country's collapse."
The policy of perestroika proclaimed in the Soviet Union in 1985 has caused more harm than good, say 55% of Russians, as follows from a Levada poll held in March. In contrast to this, ten years ago 70% said perestroika was a bad choice.
TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors
Contacts © TASS, Russian news agency (The Mass Media Registration Certificate No. 03247 was issued on April 2, 1999 by the State Press Committees of the Russian Federation). Some publications may contain information not suitable for users under 16 years of age.
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Sep 09, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 09:31 AMObviously since there is a determined American Cold War effort being waged right now, American historians were mistaken at the end of the 1980s.
There had been no winning of the Cold War, nor even a clear and shared understanding of what the Cold War was about.
If the Cold War was only about balancing the Soviet Union and developing economically far beyond the Soviet Union and Soviet ideas faltering, that happened. However, there was obviously more or with no Soviet Union to counter we would not now be taking policy steps to carry on the Cold War.
Nov 09, 2009 | www.theamericanconservative.com
As everyone should know by now but probably does not, this is the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The first breach in that wall set off a chain reaction that would eventually topple Communist governments and liberate people across half of Europe. It would also end the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Block, substantially diminishing the possibility for nuclear annihilation. However, when people say that the West–or more particularly, America–won the Cold War, I'm not exactly sure what they mean.
Of course, America still exists as a country while the Soviet Union does not, but in a war that is supposedly about ideas and ideals, victory must me something more than outlasting your opponent.
I think the more appropriate way to look at the matter is to ask: who has benefited the most from the end of the Cold War? Clearly, it is the peoples of East Germany, Poland, Estonia, etc. that have gained the most. They are far richer than they were twenty years ago, and more importantly they are able to speak and think as they please without fear of imprisonment, torture, and possibly death at the hands of their governments. Even Russia, which is still far from free, is a much freer place than it was under the Soviets. Dissident journalists do still turn up missing, but to be known as a dissident journalist in the Soviet Union was almost an impossibility. The post-Communist states all have a long way to go to complete freedom, but with few exceptions , they are all now much closer to that ideal than they were twenty years ago.
But can we say that the people of the United States also won the Cold War? Sadly, I do not believe so. After World War II, the United States' standing army likely would have shrunk back to the small peacetime numbers that existed for most of our history if it weren't for the Cold War. Instead, the U.S. military spread across the world, allegedly to keep the country free from the horrors of Communism. Ironically, keeping the people of America free required enslaving a large percentage of her young men through the country's first peacetime draft. And of course, soldiers must be housed, equipped, fed, and paid, which required a higher level of taxation than Americans were used to in peacetime. Twenty years ago, the United States could have reversed this course and reaped the peace dividend, but instead the government pressed ahead and extended American influence into the former Soviet Block–taking on new powers and responsibilities along the way.
No, America lost the Cold War. We may be richer than when it started, but a larger portion of our incomes go to the government . Even worse, the United States now leads the world in imprisonment –not just by rate but in absolute terms as well, with 1 out of every 150 Americans behind bars. This is largely a consequence of the War on Drugs, which is a war the American government wages upon its own citizens. In the years of the Cold War and since, we have become substantially less free.
One right that is still largely intact is the Freedom of Religion, but most versions of American Christianity today bear little resemblance to the teachings found in the Gospels. In this country today, people tend to worship the American Jesus , more known for killing "hajis" than offering salvation. Christianity has become a state religion in this country as it was for the Roman Emperor Constantine, and it is put to the same use of justifying military power. Perhaps even worse than using the Prince of Peace for war, the president (provided he is of the right party, of course) is now viewed by most as an avatar of God on Earth if not God himself. Many American Christians have rendered everything unto Caesar and have nothing left for God.
The world is a far freer place than it was twenty years ago, but America is not. Kierkegaard once wrote "What slave in chains is as unfree as a tyrant!" As the tyrant of the world, America is enslaved to all. Truly, America has gained the world, but lost her soul.
woodbutcher says: November 9, 2009 at 8:44 pm
America has gained the world, but lost her soul. That is what we get for trying to legislate morality .
... ... ...
Thomas says: November 10, 2009 at 1:53 am
And yet we had plenty of (perhaps more) morality laws before the War on Drugs
Perhaps the problem is that the government does not defend its borders (well, that and the intelligence agencies have long funded some operations with drug money look at Afghanistan!)?
Not everything illegal has a special allure, it really depends on enforcement of the law.
And, John, a lot of Eastern Europe is NOT better off than it was 20 years ago, particularly now that their speculative bubbles have burst. The signs are shinier, there are more decent restaurants, but many other economic, social, and moral declines. And East Europeans have gained freedom in many ways, but lost it in others.
People forget that many of the anti-Communist movements like the New Forum activists in the DDR or Solidarnosc in Poland claimed they were pro-socialist (just for a more democratic, participatory regime). The original point was not joining NATO and mass privatisation, but rather civil liberties, and, sometimes, true conservative principles (pro-church, rediscovering a spiritual mission of their people). But church attendance has increased slightly while (corporal, at least) immorality has increased significantly! What gain is that? Much of the national infrastructure was stolen by oligarchs who took the money to Switzerland, much others were sold to foreigners.
Basically, (most of) East Europe has been absorbed into the control of the international financial elite (or NWO or whatever you prefer to term it).
Thomas says: November 14, 2009 at 3:05 am T.O.M.-
There are some very secular, more generous welfare states with considerably more civil liberties. Of course they have their own problems, but that is not the source of our War of Terror, War on Drugs, USA Patriot Act, etc. Paleoconservatives are too often naifs in suggesting, essentially, that some lead us on the road to Hell with good intentions. It is actually direct corruption in our govt that is the source of all our greatest national catastrophes.
I found a figure for Cuba. The 2005 official statistics put it at about 490 per 100K, so about 70% the US rate – still high, but no cigar. Oh I see a more recent (2008?) rate of 531, but still keeping pace with the US at about 70% its rate. That is a British univeristy study – they estimate the Sudanese rate about 1/20 the US rate (so they had a civil war, but they aren't totalitarian, what did you think?). Zimbabwe is given as about 1/5 the US rate. The link, if it works to post it here-
Thomas O. Meehan says: November 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm T
Thomas, were you referring to England and the continental welfare states with their anti free speech laws, confiscatory taxation and intrusive regulation of every stage of life? Welfare states must be coercive in order to function. That's why conservatives off all types abhor them.
The percentage of population in incarceration can be a deceptive statistic. States lie about these things for a start. Totalitarian states like Cuba and China have the option of simply killing offenders and of course many people just flee state control.
The US has a large degree of incarceration due to the popularity of "Get tough on drug offender" legislation. We have a large criminal underclass in this country and after decades of revolving door justice, the public just got fed up. It may not be humane, but it works. That's democracy for you.
By the way, there is no system more involved in the criminal justice system than our welfare bureaucracy. Most criminals are born into to welfare, graduate to truancy and addiction and then crime, all under the watchful eye of social workers, guidance counselors, school psychologists, court appointed counselors and probation officers, etc. etc. But this shouldn't take any of the luster off welfare states, right?
Thomas says: November 15, 2009 at 4:42 am
Actually, China records their executions, they do not just shoot criminals on sight. Neither does Cuba. And neither of those countries would qualify as the top 10 or 20 draconian, authoritarian states (i.e., where citizens shake in fear of the police) at the moment.
England is widely known to be the most surveillance over its population, but it also has the weakest welfare state in Western Europe!!!! Scandinavia has much more freedom in general and much stronger welfare. Your attempt to make some sort of correlation is ridiculous. None of these countries has a PATRIOT ACT, where you can be deemed an enemy and held indefinitely. Britain has tried several times to enact something similar, but the Lords always block it. It would be absurd in Germany even.
The United States is simply no longer a beacon of civil liberties even compared with true welfare states. Sorry.
And if you are worried about the existence of a criminal underclass, you can probably blame the extreme inequalities of wealth, the co-existence of hyper-First World and quasi-Third World elements. All of Latin America has the same, though their welfare states are rarely very advanced. I think you would find the same trend in Africa.
Mind you, I don't want to be like Sweden. I would prefer America to return to the 50s (not entirely, but overall it would be an improvement). In the 50s there was a more even redistribution of wealth and less nanny statism because there was more direct dirigisme. The State was more involved in industrial planning and regulated trade and financial institutions. Individuals paid less tax because corporations paid more. If the economy is planned such that productive employment is a priority, then you can maintain a stable working class. If you take that away, like the US and UK have done, then you get a permanent underclass with no prospects of a stable life.
Thomas O. Meehan says: November 15, 2009 at 5:18 pm
The problem with the 1950's is that they inevitably evolve into the 1960's. And soon we're where we are now. That's the way of welfare states, they introduce such dependency, indolence and corruption that they just grow. But hey they always have their defenders. As for the lack of a Patriot Act in Europe, you must be kidding. The least you could do is read the British press. British subjects can be criminally charged for suggesting that heterosexual couples make better adoptive parents than homosexuals. The French police do as they please, and always have. The British do have preventative detention.
Nobody said that the Chinese and or Cubans shot people out of hand. But they do shoot people rather than feed them for long periods, as we do. You can believe their statistics if you want to.
Our underclass remains a dangerous nuisance despite public education, taxpayer supported charity care, a multitude of Federal and State programs and affirmative action. Of course we are importing more every day, adding to the income disparity you speak of. Perhaps we should deport people to level out the disparity a bit. What do you think?
I like your idea of our no longer being a beacon. It's attracting the wrong sort.
Thomas says: November 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm
Yes, of course we should deport people. Illegal immigration is not the source of the US socioeconomic problems, but it compounds them by a serious factor.
Being a former resident of Houston, where parts of the city (probably the most red-voting major city in the US) were literally crawling with illegals who undercut everyone else's wages (that's why they are here), I can attest a bit to the corrupting effect this has on everyone involved.
August 27, 2017 | nationalinterest.org
Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A World History (New York: Basic Books, 2017), 720 pp., $35.00.
IN 2005 , the Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis released his book, The Cold War: A New History . Glowing reviews of the book followed in the New York Times and Foreign Affairs . Among the few dissenters was Tony Judt, a New York University historian who died in 2010. Judt had opposed the Iraq War, when so many other intellectuals -- including Gaddis -- joined in the delusions that George W. Bush could, should and would democratize the Middle East. By 2005, those fantasies were discredited by events in Mesopotamia (though Gaddis was unchastened, arguing in the American Interest as late as 2008 that the senior goal of American foreign policy should be "ending tyranny").
In the New York Review of Books , Judt argued that "John Lewis Gaddis has written a history of America's cold war: as seen from America, as experienced in America, and told in a way most agreeable to many American readers." However brilliant his works had been during the Cold War, Gaddis became an American triumphalist once the Berlin Wall collapsed. He had comparatively little understanding of the Soviet experience and, most egregiously, didn't seem to care much about the enormous damage both superpowers inflicted on what was then called the Third World. The result, Judt argued, was that the Cold War was "a story still to be told."
With Odd Arne Westad's new book, the story is now told. Westad is the coauthor of several books on the Cold War, as well as coeditor of the three-volume Cambridge History of the Cold War . He also wrote The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times , which won the Bancroft Prize. As its title indicates, The Global Cold War suggested that the Cold War was very much a globe-spanning conflict, migrating into areas far beyond the borders of the two superpowers.
His new book integrates that focus on the developing world with a more traditional emphasis on the great powers. It is aimed at a general rather than a scholarly audience, with far fewer footnotes or archival research than his previous works (more on that later). The Cold War: A World History is told chronologically, but unlike most books on the subject, it begins with the right period.
THE FIRST well-regarded book on the war written from a post–Berlin Wall perspective was Martin Walker's Cold War, published in 1994. Like so many others to come, it began with the dissension in the Allied ranks in the closing years of World War II. By beginning with an earlier period, Westad advances beyond that approach. He is able to devote some attention to the ideological sources of the struggle, which began with Lenin's interpretation of communism, prioritizing global revolution and antagonism toward the noncommunist world. "The Cold War was born from the global transformations of the late nineteenth century and was buried as a result of tremendously rapid changes a hundred years later," he writes. Those changes include decolonization, the ascension of the United States to world power and the gradual decline of scientific socialism, as well as the two world wars. "The Great War jumpstarted the destinies of the two future Cold War Superpowers. It made the United States the global embodiment of capitalism and it made Russia a Soviet Union, a permanent challenge to the capitalist world." Westad also makes the thought-provoking claim, rather unusual in a book on the Cold War, that
it is therefore quite possible that the Cold War will be reduced in significance by future historians, who from their vantage point will attach more significance to the origins of Asian economic power, or the beginning of space exploration, or the eradication of smallpox.
Westad proceeds from there through all the stops along the way to the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Separate chapters examine India, China, the Middle East and Latin America, as well as summaries of Richard Nixon's diplomacy and the reigns of Kennedy, Brezhnev and Gorbachev. That he manages to do all this in largely sequential fashion is doubly impressive.
The Cold War evinces a lifetime of research and thought on the subject. Compelling ideas and valuable insights appear frequently, such as: "In spite of their attractiveness on a global scale, neither the Soviet nor the US system was ever fully replicated elsewhere." Or the explanation for communism's appeal in Vietnam: "One reason, ironically, was the integration of Vietnamese elites into French culture and education, from whence the post-1914 generation took over the radicalization that was prevalent among French youth, too." Or: "In Asia as in Europe, US policy in the early Cold War was more oriented toward the expansion of capitalism as such than toward a unique preservation of US national economic advantage or the interests of specific US companies."
Westad's assessment is that some sort of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union was inevitable once the common foe of Nazi Germany was extinguished. "Leaders of the two countries had seen each other as adversaries ever since the Russian Revolution of 1917, and in some cases even before that," he writes. Illustrative of his measured approach throughout the book, Westad assigns blame for the conflict to both parties, though not so much that he is unable to make moral distinctions. Stalin's determination to establish control in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, contributed greatly to the breakdown of good relations with Britain and the United States. But, he writes, "it was containment that made postwar conflict into a Cold War." The United States was unwilling to grant the Soviets a traditional sphere of influence, let alone see them as a comparable power deserving of commensurate respect. Seen from 2017, it might seem absurd that so many Europeans, even in England, looked upon the Soviet Union with admiration and gratitude. But, however much Americans like to forget it, it was the Red Army that "tore the guts out of the German military machine," in Winston Churchill's colorful phrase.
Westad faults Truman for being unwilling or unable to extend Franklin Roosevelt's friendly policy toward the USSR. Stalin might have hunkered down and developed foreign-policy paranoia regardless of Truman's behavior, he concedes. "But the intensity of the conflict, including the paranoia that it later produced on both sides, might have been significantly reduced if more attempts had been made by the stronger power to entice Moscow toward forms of cooperation." This is somewhat unfair to Truman. The day he was sworn in as president after Roosevelt's death, Truman said in a statement he intended "to carry on as he believed the President would have done." There is little reason to doubt his sincerity. In From Roosevelt to Truman , University of Notre Dame professor Wilson Miscamble credibly argued that Truman began his presidency with open-mindedness toward the Soviets but was convinced by events that cooperation was impossible. He wasn't alone.
ASIA, MEANWHILE , experienced rapid decolonization. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were resolutely opposed to traditional European imperialism, however much they acted as imperialist powers in their own regions. Combined with the destitution of the former colonial powers, this meant that Asian nations were freer to pursue their own destinies. Of course, in Japan and Korea, those destinies were determined by their occupiers, who molded these societies in their own images. It is a sign of Westad's attentiveness to facts that, without ever succumbing to anything resembling American chauvinism, he can write something as direct as: "The Korean War came from Stalin's change of mind. If he had not given the go-ahead to Kim, there would have been no war."
Westad betrays no romanticism toward the Soviet Union or its communist admirers -- that might seem like a low bar, but there are still scholars like Bruce Cumings who look fondly on the Marxist regimes -- but the book makes the clear-eyed observation,
Only by industrializing fast could a country become socialist and modern. The policy had an obvious appeal: in countries on the European periphery, where there was a profound sense of having fallen behind, and in countries outside of Europe, such as China, Korea, and Vietnam, rapid industrialization seemed indeed to be the way forward.
Westad might have added that the Soviet Communist Party's untouchable command of power was similarly appealing to political leaders and intellectuals worldwide.
Immediately prior to The Cold War , Westad's latest book was a study of China's foreign policy since 1750. His mastery of the subject is evident in a chapter called "China's Scourge." It is valuable not only for a discussion of how the Chinese Communist Party managed to win the civil war against the Nationalists, but also for a succinct reminder of why and how swiftly relations dissolved between the CCP and the Soviets. "The Soviet assistance program for China was not only the biggest Moscow ever undertook outside its own borders," Westad writes. "It was also, in relative terms, the biggest such program undertaken by any country anywhere, including the US Marshall Plan for Europe." Within a decade following this generosity, they almost fought a nuclear war.
Similarly incisive here is a chapter on India. Often neglected in general histories of the Cold War, India was for a while the leader of the Non-Aligned nations. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was progressive, but intent on keeping his newly independent country truly independent. This, of course, infuriated the Americans, for whom any friendliness with the USSR was interpreted as hostility to them. And yet, when India's moral purity conflicted with its conflict with China, nationalism prevailed, leading to a brief war. "In spite of its many efforts, even a country as a significant as India was never able to fully break away from the global conflict molding its policies," Westad concludes.
WESTAD ALSO wrote a book on the fall of détente, for which he distinctly blames Americans. "Nixon and Kissinger had gone further in attempting to manage the Cold War together with the Soviet Union than most Americans were willing to accept," he writes. "Most Americans were simply not willing to tolerate that the United States could have an equal in international affairs, in the 1970s or ever." This is where Gaddis's immersion in American documents might have been helpful. Most Americans, at least on the anti-détente side, were worried not that the Soviet Union was at parity with the United States, but that it had actually exceeded America's capabilities. However wrongheaded and overly alarmist that perspective was, its importance in explaining American behavior should not be overlooked.
Indeed, Westad's decision to reduce the research shown to the readers in this book makes some of his unorthodox judgments difficult to credit. Most conspicuously, Westad assesses Dwight Eisenhower harshly, but without offering enough support for his claims. In the late 1950s and 1960s, the evaluation of Ike was decidedly mixed. He was too complacent, it was said, too moderate and timid. He favored a strategic posture built around nuclear weapons that led to an arms race. He failed to confront Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism. He initiated the first of many ill-considered CIA interventions in foreign countries, in Guatemala and Iran. And he added a religious dimension to the Cold War, which elevated the conflict beyond the already-dangerous levels that existed when he took power in 1953.
That perception gave way in the 1980s to a consideration that Eisenhower was not complacent, but subtle. The opening of archives in the 1970s convinced many that his was, as the political scientist Fred Greenstein put it in his 1982 book of the same name, "the hidden-hand presidency." The popular historian Stephen Ambrose did much to further this view, first in 1981's Ike's Spies: Eisenhower and the Espionage Establishment , and then in a biography, released in two volumes in 1983 and 1984. (Writing in the New Republic in 2006, the journalist John Judis observed that Ambrose's books "changed many a liberal's view of the general," counting himself among them.)
The revisionist view of Eisenhower has now become orthodoxy. He routinely numbers among historians' rankings of the top ten presidents. Far from sharing the contemporary perception of him as popular but ineffectual -- "It's just like Eisenhower. The worse I do, the more popular I get," JFK said after the Bay of Pigs disaster -- we like Ike as much as the people who wore his campaign buttons. Celebrity architect Frank Gehry designed an Eisenhower memorial that Congress has funded to the tune of $100 million, to sit across from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, on Washington's Independence Avenue.
Most scholars lean toward the view that Ike was a first-rate Cold War strategist. He balanced the budget thrice, halting the unsustainable economic and military buildup that resulted from the Korean War. He set diplomatic precedents by meeting with Soviet leaders and organizing purposeful summits. And he outflanked domestic hysteria, establishing a bipartisan commitment to a strategy of containment. Predominant is the view expressed by Robert Bowie and Richard Immerman in their book, Waging Peace: How Eisenhower Shaped a Cold War Strategy :
Later events . . . have enhanced appreciation of his prudent and sober judgment. In a turbulent and dangerous stage of East-West relations, with an untested and erratic Soviet leadership and a changing strategic environment, Eisenhower managed a succession of crises and set a course that preserved both security and peace.
Westad will have none of it. "Intent to move away from the Cold War as a national emergency, Eisenhower ended up institutionalizing it as policy and doctrine," he writes. "On the Korean War, the new president simply got lucky. . . . The turn toward a policy of massive nuclear retaliation meant preparing for strategic warfare on a scale that so far had seemed unimaginable." Pages later, he adds,
If the president was not a Cold War hysteric, neither was he someone who could conceive of a world without the confrontation with the Soviet Union. Eisenhower lacked the imagination and political will to think about ending the Cold War after Stalin's death. This is a provocative portrayal of Eisenhower, a welcome antidote to the revisionism that can approach hagiography. But it is undercut by Westad's slight documentation.
Cold War triumphalism has had pernicious effects on American foreign policy. A straight line can be drawn from the idea that Ronald Reagan's military buildup and assertive rhetoric ended the Cold War to the fantasy that the United States could rebuild the Middle East. The prominence of neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration was due largely to the widespread belief that they had been right in seeing the transformative potential of American power during the Cold War. Though Donald Trump was able, in the Republican primaries in 2016, to counter delusions of American omnipotence with delusions of American seclusion, the messianic streak still runs strong in the Republican Party and in segments of the Democratic Party. Its absence in current political debates should be seen as temporary. When it inevitably arises again, trouble will ensue. "We all lost the cold war," Gorbachev once said. The difficulty arises when one party thinks it won.
Jordan Michael Smith is the author of the Kindle single Humanity: How Jimmy Carter Lost an Election and Transformed the Post-Presidency .
Sep 08, 2019 | www.bradford-delong.com
Hoisted from the Archives : Note: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War :
- Harry Dexter White: Treasury Assistant Secretary* who was the major force behind the Bretton Woods Conference and the institutional reconstruction of the post-World War II world economy. He accepted enough of John Maynard Keynes's proposals to lay the groundwork for the greatest generation of economic growth the world has ever seen. It was the extraordinary prosperity set in motion by the Bretton Woods' System and institutions--the "Thirty Glorious Years"--that demonstrated that political democracy and the mixed economy could deliver and distribute economic prosperity.
- George Kennan: Author of the "containment" strategy that won the Cold War. Argued--correctly--that World War III could be avoided if the Western Alliance made clear its determination to "contain" the Soviet Union and World Communism, and that the internal contradictions of the Soviet Union would lead it to evolve into something much less dangerous than Stalin's tyranny.
- George Marshall: Architect of victory in World War II. Post-World War II Secretary of State who proposed the Marshall Plan, another key step in the economic and institutional reconstruction of Western Europe after World War II.
- Arthur Vandenberg: Leading Republican Senator from Michigan who made foreign policy truly bipartisan for a few years. Without Vandenberg, it is doubtful that Truman, Marshall, Acheson, and company would have been able to muster enough Congressional support to do their work.
- Paul Hoffman: Chief Marshall Plan administrator. The man who did the most to turn the Marshall Plan from a good idea to an effective aid program.
- Dean Acheson: Principal architect of the post-World War II Western Alliance. That Britain, France, West Germany, Italy, and the United States reached broad consensus on how to wage Cold War is more due to Dean Acheson's diplomatic skill than to any single other person.
- Harry S Truman: The President who decided that the U.S. had to remain engaged overseas--had to fight the Cold War--and that the proper way to fight the Cold War was to adopt Kennan's proposed policy of containment. His strategic choices were, by and large, very good ones.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower: As first commander-in-chief of NATO, played an indispensable role in turning the alliance into a reality. His performance as President was less satisfactory: too many empty words about "rolling back" the Iron Curtain, too much of a willingness to try to skimp on the defense budget by adopting "massive retaliation" as a policy, too much trust in the erratic John Foster Dulles.
- Gerald Ford: In the end, the thing that played the biggest role in the rise of the dissident movement behind the Iron Curtain was Gerald Ford's convincing the Soviet Union to sign the Helsinki Accords. The Soviet Union thought that it had gained worldwide recognition of Stalin's land grabs. But what it had actually done was to commit itself and its allies to at least pretending to observe norms of civil and political liberties. And as the Communist Parties of the East Bloc forgot that in the last analysis they were tyrants seated on thrones of skulls, this Helsinki commitment emboldened their opponents and their governments' failures to observe it undermined their own morale.
- George Shultz: Convinced Ronald Reagan--correctly--that Mikhail Gorbachev's "perestroika" and "glasnost" were serious attempts at reform and liberalization, and needed to be taken seriously. Without Shultz, it is unlikely that Gorbachev would have met with any sort of encouragement from the United States--and unlikely that Gorbachev would have been able to remain in power long enough to make his attempts at reform irreversible.
*Also, almost surely an "Agent of Influence" and perhaps an out-and-out spy for Stalin's Russia. If so, never did any intelligence service receive worse service from an agent than Stalin's Russia did from Harry Dexter White....
Donald Pretari said...
I'm reading "The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order (Council on Foreign Relations Books (Princeton University Press))" by Benn Steil and wanted to share this quote with you.
"As regards the economics White advocated, they were hardly Marxist. They were by this time what would be described as thoroughly Keynesian. He insisted that government should take an active role in supporting economic activity; certainly more so than was orthodox before the Great Depression, but he never pushed for broad government control of the means of production. His writings on international monetary affairs express a concern with the need to fashion a system that "reduces the necessity of restrictions on private enterprise."As for White's domestic politics, these were mainstream New Deal progressive, and there is no evidence that he admired communism as a political ideology." Reply February 15, 2019 at 12:49
Vannevar Bush pushed for government support of science after the Second World War and should get some credit for America's scientific dominance through the Cold War. Reply February 16, 2019 at 15:38
andres said... The above list is old hat, so to speak. I would add the following two lists:
Russians Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War (for both sides):
1. Georgi Zhukov (Was an unbelievable s.o.b. during WWII, but did the right thing having the Red Army side with Khruschev and Malenkov against Beria).
2. Nikita Khruschev (secret speech, ousting of Stalin's old cronies and final unwillingness to go to war over Cuba outweigh Hungary and U-2 incident, imo).
3. Aleksandr Solshenitsyn (self-explanatory).
4. Boris Pasternak (Dr. Zhivago is a better read than The Gulag Archipelago).
5. Roy Medvedev (Let History Judge).
6. Vasili Arkhipov (Don't Push the Button I).
7. Andrei Sakharov (self-explanatory).
8. Stanislav Petrov (Don't Push the Button II).
9. Mikhail Gorbachev (glasnost plus withdrawal from Afghanistan).
10. Boris Yeltsin (lousy president, but energetic opposition to August 1991 coup was vital).
Americans Who Tried Their Best to Make the U.S. Lose the Cold War.
1. Douglas MacArthur.
2. John Foster Dulles.
3. Allen Dulles.
4. Barry Goldwater.
5. Robert McNamara/McGeorge Bundy/Maxwell Taylor/W.W. Rostow (joint award for Vietnam)
6. William Westmoreland (made it even worse).
7. Richard Nixon (carpet bomber in chief, plus undermined 1968 Vietnam peace talks).
8. Henry Kissinger (took over from JF Dulles as military coup enabler in chief, and nearly pushed India to Russia's side after giving a blank check to Pakistan).
9. Ronald Reagan (was clearly pointed toward WWIII before Schultz and GHW Bush brought him around).
(There are lots more, but I've tried to limit the list to those who were either in the executive branch or came close (Goldwater). LBJ could also be included, but it is still being argued whether he led his cabinet or his cabinet led him into Vietnam). Reply February 16, 2019 at 22:52
Sep 07, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Tunga , 12 minutes ago link
Oh those securities!
""Certain key unknown figures in the Federal Reserve may have 'conspired' with key unknown figures at the Bank of New York to create a situation where $240 billion in off balance sheet securities created in 1991 as part of an official covert operation to overthrow the Soviet Union, could be cleared without publicly acknowledging their existence. These securities, originally managed by Cantor Fitzgerald, were cleared and settled in the aftermath of September 11th
through the BoNY. The $100 billion account balance bubble reported by the Wall Street Journalas being experienced in the BoNY was tip of a three day operation, when these securities were moved from off-balance-sheet to the balance sheet.
Tunga , 12 minutes ago linkpparalegal , 3 minutes ago link
Oops. Building 7 and all the records gone in a collapsed vertical pancake. What a shame.
Sep 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.comAuthored by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,
Years ago, Doug Casey mentioned in a correspondence to me, "Empires fall from grace with alarming speed."
Every now and then, you receive a comment that, although it may have been stated casually, has a lasting effect, as it offers uncommon insight. For me, this was one of those and it's one that I've kept handy at my desk since that time, as a reminder.
I'm from a British family, one that left the UK just as the British Empire was about to begin its decline. They expatriated to the "New World" to seek promise for the future.
As I've spent most of my life centred in a British colony – the Cayman Islands – I've had the opportunity to observe many British contract professionals who left the UK seeking advancement, which they almost invariably find in Cayman. Curiously, though, most returned to the UK after a contract or two, in the belief that the UK would bounce back from its decline, and they wanted to be on board when Britain "came back."
This, of course, never happened. The US replaced the UK as the world's foremost empire, and although the UK has had its ups and downs over the ensuing decades, it hasn't returned to its former glory.
And it never will.
If we observe the empires of the world that have existed over the millennia, we see a consistent history of collapse without renewal. Whether we're looking at the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Spanish Empire, or any other that's existed at one time, history is remarkably consistent: The decline and fall of any empire never reverses itself; nor does the empire return, once it's fallen.
But of what importance is this to us today?
Well, today, the US is the world's undisputed leading empire and most Americans would agree that, whilst it's going through a bad patch, it will bounce back and might even be better than ever.
Not so, I'm afraid. All empires follow the same cycle. They begin with a population that has a strong work ethic and is self-reliant. Those people organize to form a nation of great strength, based upon high productivity.
This leads to expansion, generally based upon world trade. At some point, this gives rise to leaders who seek, not to work in partnership with other nations, but to dominate them, and of course, this is when a great nation becomes an empire. The US began this stage under the flamboyant and aggressive Teddy Roosevelt.
The twentieth century was the American century and the US went from victory to victory, expanding its power.
But the decline began in the 1960s, when the US started to pursue unwinnable wars, began the destruction of its currency and began to expand its government into an all-powerful body.
Still, this process tends to be protracted and the overall decline often takes decades.
So, how does that square with the quote, "Empires fall from grace with alarming speed"?
Well, the preparation for the fall can often be seen for a generation or more, but the actual fall tends to occur quite rapidly.
What happens is very similar to what happens with a schoolyard bully.
The bully has a slow rise, based upon his strength and aggressive tendency. After a number of successful fights, he becomes first revered, then feared. He then takes on several toadies who lack his abilities but want some of the spoils, so they do his bidding, acting in a threatening manner to other schoolboys.
The bully then becomes hated. No one tells him so, but the other kids secretly dream of his defeat, hopefully in a shameful manner.
Then, at some point, some boy who has a measure of strength and the requisite determination has had enough and takes on the bully.
If he defeats him, a curious thing happens. The toadies suddenly realise that the jig is up and they head for the hills, knowing that their source of power is gone.
Also, once the defeated bully is down, all the anger, fear and hatred that his schoolmates felt for him come out, and they take great pleasure in his defeat.
And this, in a nutshell, is what happens with empires.
A nation that comes to the rescue in times of genuine need (such as the two World Wars) is revered. But once that nation morphs into a bully that uses any excuse to invade countries such as Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria, its allies may continue to bow to it but secretly fear it and wish that it could be taken down a peg.
When the empire then starts looking around for other nations to bully, such as Iran and Venezuela, its allies again say nothing but react with fear when they see the John Boltons and Mike Pompeos beating the war drums and making reckless comments.
At present, the US is focusing primarily on economic warfare, but if this fails to get the world to bend to its dominance, the US has repeatedly warned, regarding possible military aggression, that "no option is off the table."
The US has reached the classic stage when it has become a reckless bully, and its support structure of allies has begun to de-couple as a result.
At the same time that allies begin to pull back and make other plans for their future, those citizens within the empire who tend to be the creators of prosperity also begin to seek greener pastures.
History has seen this happen countless times. The "brain drain" occurs, in which the best and most productive begin to look elsewhere for their future. Just as the most productive Europeans crossed the Pond to colonise the US when it was a new, promising country, their present-day counterparts have begun moving offshore.
The US is presently in a state of suspended animation. It still appears to be a major force, but its buttresses are quietly disappearing. At some point in the near future, it's likely that the US government will overplay its hand and aggress against a foe that either is stronger or has alliances that, collectively, make it stronger.
Basil1931 , 30 minutes ago linkMs No , 38 minutes ago link
The greatest (so called) threats to America- the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, North Koreans, ISIS, ( fill in the blank for the latest overseas bogeyman-of-the-week ) pale into a wisp beside the ongoing disintegration of American traditional family life. Self-discipline, self sacrifice and self restraint are the prices which must be paid for a civilization to survive, much less flourish, and Americans are increasingly unwilling to pay up. The America of a generation or two down the road will have the social cohesion of El Salvador.ohm , 55 minutes ago link
You also cant warn people about the collapse of empire either. People notoriously go into denial about it and it shocks the **** out of everybody. Since empires bluff and bluster at the end its all to easy for people want to believe.
Being that history is always written by the tyrant of the time (which in our case was definitely behind the two last empires and a big player in Rome as and Spain as well) people are also led to believe that empire is a desireable state of cicumstance. It never was. Its the ambitions and conquistador actions of the collective psychopath. They feed on the strength of civilizations and utilize it for megalomaniac ambitions over power of others and power over everything.HillaryOdor , 46 minutes ago link
Those of you hoping for the end of American Empire need to think about what would replace it. if you think that the world would enter the age of Aquarius and peace will rule the planet you are extremely naive and stupid. If you think that the Chinese would be more benign rulers you are mistaken. The only reason China doesn't use its military to dominate other countries is because it is kept in check by the US.ohm , 41 minutes ago link
You are completely delusional. The world is not better off under American stewardship. We don't need and shouldn't want anything to replace it. We don't need and shouldn't want any empire ruling the world. We would be better off without any state at all, so we could finally be free people.
And no it probably wouldn't be better off under the Chinese. Although if the world stopped respecting American IP law, that would be a huge positive step forward.
In the real world, Chinese terrorists are just as bad as American terrorists. Despite the most popular hypnosis gripping the American psyche, you can't have liberty or justice as long as either one is in charge. Whether the Chinese would be worse is debatable. It's not like America has some great track record to compete against. Their reign has been a complete disaster for human rights.HillaryOdor , 34 minutes ago link
We don't need any empire ruling the world.
Agreed. But wishing that something isn't going to happen doesn't stop it from happening.simpson seers , 43 minutes ago link
Pretending you are better off under the current arrangement doesn't make it so.
Pretending you have any control over the future of world politics doesn't make it so.ohm , 42 minutes ago link
'Those of you hoping for the end of American Empire need to think about what would replace it '
for starters, peace would replace it, fake phoney ******.......ohm , 42 minutes ago link
Why? Do you have a historical example?SHsparx , 37 minutes ago link
Why? Do you have a historical example?Ms No , 29 minutes ago link
Expecting the inevitable and hoping for something are two different things.ultramaroon , 11 minutes ago link
If China became the new empire we wouldnt live under it. It would be at least 100 years out. This empire will screw everybody epically first, plus we have decline weather patterns with super solar grand minimum. Also those people's who may see that next empire will deal with whatever circumstances present themselves and they wont give one **** what we think about it.
Basically power has kept moving west. Nobody will forget the depravity of this one. If written about accurately this one will be remembered most for the medical tyranny and intentional damage it did to human beings through injections and modified good supply, as well as moral depravity and proxy sadistic terrorism. Remember empire backed terrorist groups trafficked children and harvested organs. You can miss it if you want, few will.Ms No , 8 minutes ago link
I do not _hope_ for an end of the American Empire, and I dread what is going to replace it. Howsoever, no empire lasts forever, and our empire is near its end. The Chinese are relentlessly cruel, and that's in their genotype. I probably won't live to see them take over the scraps and bits and pieces of our former empire. Those who are alive and in the prime of their lives when that happens will suffer unimaginably while they live, and their blood will cry out from the grave after they die. It makes me so heart-sick I can't bear to think about it for long, but our progeny will be forced to live it without let or hindrance.SmallerGovNow2 , 1 hour ago link
Lets find out the whole details of what they have done to our biology and our children's first before we say how cruel China might be. For starters look at what US and British did in Africa compared to China and Russia's involvement there. They are doing deals and not killing anybody, same with Venezuela.SmallerGovNow2 , 1 hour ago link
Where else you going to go? What nation ISN'T broke? Europe is going to hell. So is South America. Africa has always been hell. Asia? Look what's going down in Hong Kong. China's broke. Make no mistake, the USA is in decline. But so is the rest of the world...perikleous , 1 hour ago link
I'd say it's a race to the bottom but it's really that everyone is falling off the cliff at the same time...Argentumentum , 1 hour ago link
regardless of what is printed China is not falling, they have a plan and have only advanced it. The debt side will not hurt them because they have been poor before and they have a route to success. They do not have resources but the industrial side is needed everywhere in the world. We are talking about a nation that literally prospered off of our garbage and resells it back to us! Think about it we use something up and pay them to take it away, they recycle it and resell it to us again and moved a nation 4x our population forward!
You really think debt will hurt them, especially the way the US determines debt! A huge portion of it is in the infrastructucture in China and along the BRI which will have returns over time, just as if we in the states rebuilt all our infrastructure by living wage employment rather than MIC investment!He–Mene Mox Mox , 1 hour ago link
Yes, all are broke. Assisted suicides of countries all over the world. Emphasise on "assisted".
Nations have been demoralized (the US most certainly, check Yuri Bezmenov) we are in destabilization phase already, collapse has to be next, it is unavoidable now. This will not end well, ignore at your own risk!
I am not talking about countries, just some Life Hedge Regions left in the world. People with brains and resources, you don need a Life Hedge Property! Away from Northern Hemisphere, away from Ring of Fire, etc... Get in touch. lifehedge(at) protonmail.comperikleous , 1 hour ago link
What got America into trouble was when Americans who thought of themselves as being "exceptional" became exceptionally stupid. The best and the brightest have already left America. Any wonder why we now depend on Russia to send our astronauts up on their rockets into space, or depend on China, South Korea, and Japan for our electronic products, or why better health care is found in other places outside the U.S., why our educational system has become poorer than what it was 60 years ago, etc.,?SmallerGovNow2 , 1 hour ago link
When we decided to financialize everything and make nothing but investments we crippled our advancement.
When we decided to take the brightest minds in the world and recruit them into the US and then rather than advance the world with true science, we offer them lucrative money to enter financial markets to use their knowledge in that field.
We take the ones with morals and principles that choose to actually remain in science and then corrupt them over time with money/fame to regurgetate whatever their contractor chooses or lose funding for their projects.
We have corrupted every aspect of advancement and now just use our fake printed money to force the desperate to bend to our will.Dump , 1 hour ago link
Where do you see this better health care?
And you're saying the best and brightest left the USA for Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan? I don't think so...The Herdsman , 1 hour ago link
Good read on the subject of empires Sir John Glubb - The fate of empires and Search for survival.
We are probably near the end of the American Empire. And a fascinating by product of the HK protests is that we may well be near the end of Chinese Communism.
Nothing moves forward in a straight line. They move up and down. Empires are no exception. The Romans had their ups and downs throughout the course of their empire. You never know when a down cycle is the end but people who want it to end will always write articles like this.
American dominance might be drawing to an end....or it might be gearing up to go another 200 years. Nobody knows so it's a waste of time to speculate.
Sep 02, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
ambrit , , August 31, 2019 at 11:55 am
Thatcher was an English politico. It is not what she said, but what she did that counts. She is probably down in Dante's Inferno, Ring 8, sub-rings 7-10. (Frauds and false councilors.) See, oh wayward sinners: http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle8b.html
The Rev Kev , , September 2, 2019 at 12:37 am
Ring 8, sub-rings 7-10? She will probably find Milton Friedman in the basement there.
ambrit , September 2, 2019 at 7:09 am
Ah, you think that Milton should be at the bottom, eh? Then, I hope that he knows how to ice skate. (He was the worst kind of 'class traitor.' [His parents were small store owner/managers.])
Ring 8 of the Inferno is for 'frauds' of all sorts, sub-rings 7-10 are reserved for Thieves, Deceivers, Schismatics, and Falsifiers. Maggie should feel right at home there.
intpolicydigest.orgMikhail Khodorkovsky was found guilty of fraud related to his control of Siberian oil fields through his Yukos corporation and was sentenced to nine years in prison on this date in 2005. Khodorkovsky, who was behind bars until Vladimir Putin pardoned him in 2013, is half-Jewish (on his father's side).
Many of the Russian oligarchs, most of whom exploited their political connections during the privatization years under Boris Yeltsin's highly corrupt government to become hugely wealthy, are similarly half-Jewish or Jewish, including Boris Berezovsky, who took over Russia's main television channel and died under uncertain circumstances (likely suicide) in 2013; Alexander Abramov, a steel magnate; Mikhail Fridman, a banker; Roman Abramovich, a younger billionaire investor; Viktor Vekselberg, an aluminum tycoon; and Leonid Mikhelson, a natural-gas billionaire, and a half-dozen others.
The shock-capitalism that vaulted these men to the Forbes list of billionaires is known in Russia as the katastroika and "brought in its wake mass pauperisation and unemployment," writes Seumas Milne in The Guardian , "wild extremes of inequality; rampant crime; virulent antisemitism and ethnic violence; combined with legalised gangsterism on a heroic scale and precipitous looting of public assets. . . .
By the late 1990s, national income had fallen by more than 50 percent(compare that with the 27 percent drop in output during the great American depression), investment by 80 percent, real wages by half, and meat and dairy herds by 75 percent. . . . while epidemics of cholera and typhus . . . re-emerged, millions of children suffer[ed] from malnutrition and adult life expectancy . . . plunged." Several of the oligarchs were prosecuted and harassed by Putin's government between 2000 and 2004, before an unofficial agreement was struck to permit most of them to keep their lives and their fortunes as long as they demurred from opposing Putin's political power.
"The oligarchs, idiotically rich in a country that was largely poor, and given to parading their wealth in a manner that makes American hip-hoppers look like an especially reticent community of Amish farmers, could certainly have given any former Soviet citizen pause to wonder, as he queued for beetroot, what the proletarian revolution had been for. The oligarchs, not content with buying companies, villas, yachts, planes and the most beautiful of Russia's beautiful women, also bought power. In 1996, they connived to engineer the re-election of the politically and physically ailing Boris Yeltsin. In 2000, they helped steer Yeltsin's successor into power -- Vladimir Putin, a saturnine former spook with the KGB, and its descendant organisation, the FSB. This, as Russian Godfathers demonstrates, may have been the moment at which the oligarchs out-clevered themselves." –Andrew Mueller, The Guardian
Aug 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
A new opinion poll released by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal last Sunday shows that 70% of Americans are "angry" because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power. Both Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren have also reflected on this sentiment during their campaigns. Sanders has said that we live in a "corrupt political system designed to protect the wealthy and the powerful." Warren said it's a "rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else."
A New York Times opinion article written by the political scientist Greg Weiner felt compelled to push back on this message, writing a column with the title, The Shallow Cynicism of 'Everything Is Rigged'. In his column, Weiner basically makes the argument that believing everything is corrupt and rigged is a cynical attitude with which it is possible to dismiss political opponents for being a part of the corruption. In other words, the Sanders and Warren argument is a shortcut, according to Weiner, that avoids real political debate.
Joining me now to discuss whether it makes sense to think of a political system as rigged and corrupt, and whether the cynical attitude is justified, is someone who should know a thing or two about corruption: Bill Black. He is a white collar criminologist, former financial regulator, and associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He's also the author of the book, The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One. Thanks for joining us again, Bill.
BILL BLACK: Thank you.
GREG WILPERT: As I mentioned that the outset, it seems that Sanders and Warren are in effect taking an open door, at least when it comes to the American public. That is, almost everyone already believes that our political and economic system is rigged. Would you agree with that sentiment that the system is corrupt and rigged for the rich and against pretty much everyone else but especially the poor? What do you think?
BILL BLACK: One of the principal things I study is elite fraud, corruption and predation. The World Bank sent me to India for months as an anti-corruption alleged expert type. And as a financial regulator, this is what I dealt with. This is what I researched. This is a huge chunk of my life. So I wouldn't use the word, if I was being formal in an academic system, "the system." What I would talk about is specific systems that are rigged, and they most assuredly are rigged.
Let me give you an example. One of the most important things that has transformed the world and made it vastly more criminogenic, much more corrupt, is modern executive compensation. This is not an unusual position. This is actually the normal position now, even among very conservative scholars, including the person who was the intellectual godfather of modern executive compensation, Michael Jensen. He has admitted that he spawned unintentionally a monster because CEOs have rigged the compensation system. How do they do that? Well, it starts even before you get hired as a CEO. This is amazing stuff. The standard thing you do as a powerful CEO is you hire this guy, and he specializes in negotiating great deals for CEOs. His first demand, which is almost always given into, is that the corporation pay his fee, not the CEO. On the other side of the table is somebody that the CEO is going to be the boss of negotiating the other side. How hard is he going to negotiate against the guy that's going to be his boss? That's totally rigged.
Then the compensation committee hires compensation specialists who–again, even the most conservative economists agree it is a completely rigged system. Because the only way they get work is if they give this extraordinary compensation. Then, everybody in economics admits that there's a clear way you should run performance pay. It should be really long term. You get the big bucks only after like 10 years of success. In reality, they're always incredibly short term. Why? Because it's vastly easier for the CEO to rig the short-term reported earnings. What's the result of this? Accounting profession, criminology profession, economics profession, law profession. We've all done studies and all of them say this perverse system of compensation causes CEOs to (a) cheat and (b) to be extraordinarily short term in their perspective because it's easier to rig the short-term reported results. Even the most conservative economists agree that's terrible for the economy.
What I've just gone through is a whole bunch of academic literature from over 40-plus years from top scholars in four different fields. That's not cynicism. That's just plain facts if you understand the system. People like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, they didn't, as you say, kick open an open door. They made the open door. It's not like Elizabeth Warren started talking about this six months ago when she started being a potential candidate. She has been saying this and explaining in detail how individual systems are rigged in favor of the wealthy for at least 30 years of work. Bernie Sanders has been doing it for 45 years. This is what the right, including the author of this piece who is an ultra-far right guy, fear the most. It's precisely what they fear, that Bernie and Elizabeth are good at explaining how particular systems are rigged. They explain it in appropriate detail, but they're also good in making it human. They talk the way humans talk as opposed to academics.
That's what the right fear is more than anything, that people will basically get woke. In this, it's being woke to how individual systems have been rigged by the wealthy and powerful to create a sure thing to enrich them, usually at our direct expense.
GREG WILPERT: I think those are some very good examples. They're mostly from the realm of economics. I want to look at one from the realm of politics, which specifically Weiner makes. He cites Sanders, who says that the rich literally buy elections, and Weiner counters this by saying that, "It is difficult to identify instances in American history of an electoral majority wanting something specific that it has not eventually gotten." That's a pretty amazing statement actually, I think, for him to say when you look at the actual polls of what people want and what people get. He then also adds, "That's not possible to dupe the majority with advertising all of the time." What's your response to that argument?
BILL BLACK: Well, actually, that's where he's trying to play economist, and he's particularly bad at economics. He was even worse at economics than he is at political science, where his pitch, by the way is–I'm not overstating this–corruption is good. The real problem with Senator Sanders and Senator Warren is that they're against corruption.
Can you fool many people? Answer: Yes. We have good statistics from people who actually study this as opposed to write op-eds of this kind. In the great financial crisis, one of the most notorious of the predators that targeted blacks and Latinos–we actually have statistics from New Century. And here's a particular scam. The loan broker gets paid more money the worse the deal he gets you, the customer, and he gets paid by the bank. If he can get you to pay more than the market rate of interest, then he gets a kickback, a literal kickback. In almost exactly half of the cases, New Century was able to get substantially above market interest rates, again, targeted at blacks and Latinos.
We know that this kind of predatory approach can succeed, and it can succeed brilliantly. Look at cigarettes. Cigarettes, if you use them as intended, they make you sick and they kill you. It wasn't that very long ago until a huge effort by pushback that the tobacco companies, through a whole series of fake science and incredible amounts of ads that basically tried to associate if you were male, that if you smoked, you'd have a lot of sex type of thing. It was really that crude. It was enormously successful with people in getting them to do things that almost immediately made them sick and often actually killed them.
He's simply wrong empirically. You can see it in US death rates. You can see it in Hell, I'm overweight considerably. Americans are enormously overweight because of the way we eat, which has everything to do with how marketing works in the United States, and it's actually gotten so bad that it's reducing life expectancy in a number of groups in America. That's how incredibly effective predatory practices are in rigging the system. That's again, two Nobel Laureates in economics have recently written about this. George Akerlof and Shiller, both Nobel Laureates in economics, have written about this predation in a book for a general audience. It's called Phishing with a P-H.
GREG WILPERT: I want to turn to the last point that Weiner makes about cynicism. He says that calling the system rigged is actually a form of cynicism. And that cynicism, the belief that everything and everyone is bad or corrupt avoids real political arguments because it tires everyone you disagree with as being a part of that corruption. Would you say, is the belief that the system is rigged a form of cynicism? And if it is, wouldn't Weiner be right that cynicism avoids political debate?
BILL BLACK: He creates a straw man. No one has said that everything and everyone is corrupt. No one has said that if you disagree with me, you are automatically corrupt. What they have given in considerable detail, like I gave as the first example, was here is exactly how the system is rigged. Here are the empirical results of that rigging. This produces vast transfers of wealth to the powerful and wealthy, and it comes at the expense of nearly everybody else. That is factual and that needs to be said. It needs to be said that politicians that support this, and Weiner explicitly does that, says, we need to go back to a system that is more openly corrupt and that if we have that system, the world will be better. That has no empirical basis. It's exactly the opposite. Corruption kills. Corruption ruins economies.
The last thing in the world you want to do is what Weiner calls for, which he says, "We've got to stop applying morality to this form of crime." In essence, he is channeling the godfather. "Tell the Don it wasn't personal. It was just business." There's nothing really immoral in his view about bribing people. I'm sorry. I'm a Midwesterner. It wasn't cynicism. It was morality. He says you can't compromise with corruption. I hope not. Compromising with corruption is precisely why we're in this situation where growth rates have been cut in half, why wage growth has been cut by four-fifths, why blacks and Latinos during the great financial crisis lost 60% to 80% of their wealth in college-educated households. That's why 70% of the public is increasingly woke on this subject.
GREG WILPERT: Well, we're going to leave it there. I was speaking to Bill Black, associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Thanks again, Bill, for having joined us today.
BILL BLACK: Thank you.
GREG WILPERT: And thank you for joining The Real News Network.
fdr-fan , August 31, 2019 at 2:13 am
Well, Sanders certainly knows that elections are rigged. But he's not quite right when he says that money does the rigging. It would be more accurate to say that powerful people are powerful because they're criminals, and they're rich because they're criminals.
Money is a side effect, not the driver. Specific example: Hillary and Bernie are in the same category of net worth, but Bernie isn't powerful. The difference is that Bernie ISN'T willing to commit murder and blackmail to gain power.
Lambert Strether , August 31, 2019 at 3:31 am
> Hillary and Bernie are in the same category of net worth
Clinton's net worth (says Google) is $45 million; Sanders $2.5 million. So, an order of magnitude difference. I guess that puts Sanders in the 1% category, but Clinton is much closer to the 0.1% category than Sanders.
Steve H. , August 31, 2019 at 6:57 am
There's also a billion-dollar foundation in the mix.
We had our choice of two New York billionaires in the last presidential election. How is this not accounted for? It's like the bond market, the sheer weight carries its own momentum.
Very similar to CEO's. I may not own a private jet, but if the company does, and I control the company, I have the benefit of a private jet. I don't need to own the penthouse to live in it.
Bugs Bunny , August 31, 2019 at 4:18 am
I despise HRC as well but those kinds of accusations would need some real evidence to back them up. Not a helpful comment.
Sorry, but I had to call that out.
Ian Perkins , August 31, 2019 at 10:26 am
"We came, we saw, he died. Tee hee hee!"
"Did it have anything to do with your visit?"
"I'm sure it did."
From a non-legal perspective at least, that makes her an accessory to murder, doesn't it?
Oh , August 31, 2019 at 10:18 am
"Money talks and everything else walks". Don't kid yourself; money is the driver.
Susan the other` , August 31, 2019 at 11:38 am
there's a solution for that
Leroy , August 31, 2019 at 11:53 am
Perhaps you can elaborate on the "murder and blackmail" Mr. Trump !!
vlade , August 31, 2019 at 2:15 am
In the treaser, it says "prevents evidence", I don't think Bill would do that :)
Off The Street , August 31, 2019 at 10:45 am
Treaser -- > Treason
Tyronius , August 31, 2019 at 2:57 am
Is it fair to say the entire system is rigged when enough interconnected parts of it are rigged that no matter where one turns, one finds evidence of corruption? Because like it or not, that's where we are as a country.
Spoofs desu , August 31, 2019 at 7:15 am
Indeed well said
Susan the other` , August 31, 2019 at 11:42 am
Yes. And it is also fair to say, and has been said by lots of cynics over the centuries, that both democracy and capitalism sow the seeds of their own destruction.
OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , August 31, 2019 at 3:44 am
Burns me to see yet another "water is not wet" argument being foisted by the NYT, hard to imagine another reason the editorial board pushed for this line *except* to protect the current corrupt one percenters who call their shots. Once Liz The Marionette gets appointed we might get some fluff but the rot will persist, eventually rot becomes putrefaction and the polity dies. Gore Vidal called America and Christianity "death cults".
Oh , August 31, 2019 at 10:21 am
Apt description of Liz.
"I'm a marionette, I'm a marionette, just pull the string" – ABBA
Bugs Bunny , August 31, 2019 at 4:23 am
Another instance where the top comments "Reader Picks" in a NYT op-ed are much more astute than the NYT picks
People get it.
inode_buddha , August 31, 2019 at 8:28 am
"Due to technical difficulties, comments are unavailable"
Pisses me off that I gave the propaganda rag of note a click and didn't even get the joy of the comments section. I'm sure there's some cynical reason why
Ian Perkins , August 31, 2019 at 10:28 am
I got there first time. No doubt some cynical reason
Barbara , August 31, 2019 at 10:56 am
NYT PicksReader PicksAll
Ronald Weinstein commented August 26
New YorkAug. 26
Shallow cynicism vs profound naivete. I don't know what to chose.
Jeff W , August 31, 2019 at 11:41 am
People do get it. That struck me, too.
The other thing is that the NYT runs this pretty indefensible piece by a guy who is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Just how often does NYT -- whose goal, according to its executive editor, "should be to understand different views" -- run a piece from anyone who is leftwing? What's the ratio of pro-establishment, pro-Washington consensus pieces to those that are not? Glenn Greenwald points out that the political spectrum at the NYT op-ed page "spans the small gap from establishment centrist Democrats to establishment centrist Republicans." That, in itself, is consistent with the premise that the system is, indeed, rigged.
Spoofs desu , August 31, 2019 at 7:09 am
I think we have to drill down another level and ask ourselves a more fundamental question "why is cynicism necessarily bad to begin with?" Black's response of parsing to individual systems as being corrupt is playing into the NYT authors trap, sort to speak.
This NYT article is another version of the seemingly obligatory attribute of the american character; we must ultimately be optimistic and have hope. Why is that useful? Or maybe more importantly, to whom is that useful? What is the point?
In my mind (and many a philosopher), cynicism is a very healthy, empowering response to a world whose institutional configuration is such that it will to fuck you over whenever it is expedient to do so.
Furthermore, the act of voting lends legitimacy to an institution that is clearly not legitimate. The institution is very obviously very corrupt. If you really want to change the "system" stop giving it legitimacy; i.e. be cynical, don't vote. The whole thing is a ruse. Boycott it .
Some may say, in a desperate attempt to avoid being cynical, "well, the national level is corrupt but we need to increase engagement at the community level via local elections ", or something like that. This is nothing more than rearranging the chairs on the deck of the titanic. And collecting signature isn't going to help anymore than handing out buckets on the titanic would.
So, to answer my own rhetorical question above, "to whom is it useful to not be cynical?" It is useful to those who want things to continue as they currently are.
So, be cynical. Don't vote. It is an empowering and healthy way to kinda say "fuck you" to the corrupt and not become corrupted yourself by legitimizing it. The best part about it is that you don't have to do anything.
Viva la paz (Hows that for a non cynical salutation?)
jrs , August 31, 2019 at 11:29 am
Uh this sounds like the ultimate allowing things to continue as they currently are, do you really imagine the powers that be are concerned about a low voting rate, and we have one, they don't care, they may even like it that way. Do you really imagine they care about some phantom like perceived legitimacy? Where is the evidence of that?
kiwi , August 31, 2019 at 12:08 pm
Politicians do care about staying in office and will respond on some issues that will cost them enough votes to get booted from office. But it has to be those particular issues in their own backyard; otherwise, they just kind of limp along with the lip service collecting their paychecks.
IMO, it is sheer idiocy to not vote. If you are a voter, politicians will pay some attention to you at least. If you don't vote, you don't even exist to them.
inode_buddha , August 31, 2019 at 7:37 am
"I don't think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you've served in Congress," said Ocasio-Cortez. "At minimum there should be a long wait period."
"If you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn't be allowed to turn right around&leverage your service for a lobbyist check.
I don't think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you've served in Congress."
–AOC, as reported by NakedCapitalism on May 31, 2019
Which is worse - bankers or terrorists , August 31, 2019 at 11:45 am
I bet she opens up her lobbying shop in December 2020.
inode_buddha , August 31, 2019 at 7:52 am
It isn't cynical if it is real. Truth is the absolute defense.
Bugs Bunny , August 31, 2019 at 7:58 am
A shrink friend once said "cynicism is the most logical reaction to despair".
Off The Street , August 31, 2019 at 10:52 am
I try to be despairing, but I can't keep up.
Attributed to a generation or two after Lily Tomlin's quote about cynicism.
Out of curiosity, would it be cynical to question that political scientist's grant funding or other sources of income? These days, I feel inclined to look at what I'll call the Sinclair Rule* , added to Betteridge's, Godwin's and all those other, ahem, modifications to what used to be an expectation that communication was more or less honest.
* Sinclair Rule, where you add a interpretive filter based on Upton's famous quote: It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
jrs , August 31, 2019 at 11:43 am
It's good to look at funding sources. But it's kind of a slander to those who must work for a living when assuming it's paychecks (which we need to live in this system) that corrupt people.
If it's applied to the average working person, maybe it's often true, maybe it has a tendency to push in that direction, but if you think there are no workers that realize the industry they are working in might be destructive, that they may be exploited by such systems but have little choice etc. etc., come now there are working people who are politically aware and do see a larger picture, they just don't have a lot of power to change it much of the time. Does the average working person's salary depend on his not understanding though? No, of course not, it merely depends on him obeying. And obeying enough to keep a job, not always understanding, is what a paycheck buys.
timbers , August 31, 2019 at 7:57 am
With all the evidence of everyday life (airplanes, drug prices, health insurance, Wall Street, CEO pay, the workforce changes in the past 20 years if you've been working those years etc) this Greg better be careful as he might be seen as a Witch to be hanged and burned in Salem, Ma a few hundred years ago.
It's cynical to say it's cynical to believe the system is corrupt.
Greg Weiner is cynic, and his is using his cynicism to dismiss the political arguments of people he disagrees with.
MyMoneysNotGreenAnymore , August 31, 2019 at 8:17 am
And just this week, I found out I couldn't even buy a car unless I'd be willing to sign a mandatory binding arbitration agreement. I was ready to pay and sign all the paperwork, and they lay a document in front of me that reserves for the dealer the right to seek any remedy against me if I harm the dealer (pay with bad check, become delinquent on loan, fail to provide clean title on my trade); but forces me to accept mandatory binding arbitration, with damages limited to the value of the car, for anything the dealer might do wrong.
It is not cynical at all when even car dealers now want a permission slip for any harm they might do to me.
Donald , August 31, 2019 at 8:24 am
Three words -- climate change denial.
Okay, a few more. We are literally facing the possibility of a mass extinction in large part because of dishonesty on the par of oil companies, politicians, and people paid to make bad arguments.
Donald , August 31, 2019 at 8:35 am
A few more words
"Saddam Hussein has WMD's."
"Assad (and by implication Assad's forces alone) killed 500,000 Syrians."
"Israel is just defending itself."
I can't squeeze the dishonesty about the war in Yemen into a short slogan, but I know from personal experience that getting liberals to care when it was Obama's war was virtually impossible. Even under Trump it was hard, until Khashoggi's murder. On the part of politicians and think tanks this was corruption by Saudi money. With ordinary people it was the usual partisan tribal hypocrisy.
dearieme , August 31, 2019 at 11:11 am
Two words: Goebbels Warming.
pretzelattack , August 31, 2019 at 12:36 pm
a lot of gibberish in those 2 words, dearie. are you going to grace us with your keen scientific insights on the issue?
jfleni , August 31, 2019 at 8:30 am
Conclusion: Even before they dress in the AM, they S C R E A M,
G I M M E!!
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell , August 31, 2019 at 8:45 am
The motivator is " Gap Psychology ," the human desire to distance oneself from those below (on any scale), and to come nearer to those above.
The rich are rich because the Gap below them is wide, and the wider the Gap, the richer they are .
And here is the important point: There are two ways the rich widen the Gap: Either gain more for themselves or make sure those below have less.
That is why the rich promulgate the Big Lie that the federal government (and its agencies, Social Security and Medicare) is running short of dollars. The rich want to make sure that those below them don't gain more, as that would narrow the Gap.
Off The Street , August 31, 2019 at 10:56 am
Negative sum game, where one wins but the other has to lose more so the party of the first part feels even better about winning. There is an element of sadism, sociopathy and a few other behaviors that the current systems allow to be gamed even more profitably. If you build it, or lobby to have it built, they will come multiple times.
The Rev Kev , August 31, 2019 at 9:07 am
A successful society should be responsive to both threats and opportunities. Any major problems to that society are assessed and changes are made, usually begrudgingly, to adapt to the new situation. And this is where corruption comes into it. It short circuits the signals that a society receives so that it ignores serious threats and elevates ones that are relatively minor but which benefit a small segment of that society. If you want an example of this at work, back in 2016 you had about 40,000 Americans dying to opioids each and every year which was considered only a background issue. But a major issue about that time was who gets to use what toilets. Seriously. If it gets bad enough, a society gets overwhelmed by the problems that were ignored or were deferred to a later time. And I regret to say that the UK is going to learn this lesson in spades.
Ian Perkins , August 31, 2019 at 10:37 am
'Sanders has said that we live in a "corrupt political system designed to protect the wealthy and the powerful." Warren said it's a "rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else."'
Yet the rest of the article focuses almost entirely on internal US shenanigans. When it comes to protecting wealth and power, George Kennan hit the nail on the head in 1948, with "we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3 of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity." This, which has underpinned US policy ever since, may not be corrupt in the sense of illegal, but it certainly seems corrupt in the sense of morally repugnant to me.
dearieme , August 31, 2019 at 11:16 am
Warren said it's a "rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else."
Is she referring to the system of race privilege that she exploited by making a false claim to be a Cherokee, or some other rigged system?
Still, compared to some of the gangsters who have been president I suppose she's been pretty small time in her nefarious activities. So far as I know.
Susan the other` , August 31, 2019 at 12:07 pm
About Kennan's comment. That's interesting because no one questioned the word "wealth". Even tho' we had only 6.3% of the world's population we had 50% of the wealth. The point of that comment had to be that we should "spread the wealth" and we did do just that. Until we polluted the entire planet. I'd like some MMT person to take a long look at that attitude because it is so simplistic. And not like George Kennan at all who was sophisticated to the bone. But that's just more proof of a bred-in-the-bone ignorance about what money really is. In this case Kennan was talking about money, not wealth. He never asked Nepal for advice on gross national happiness, etc. Nor did he calculate the enormous debt burden we would incur for our unregulated use and abuse of the environment. That debt most certainly offsets any "wealth" that happened.
shinola , August 31, 2019 at 11:09 am
Approaching from the opposite direction, if someone were to say "I sincerely believe that the USA has the most open & honest political system and the fairest economic system in human history" would you not think that person to be incredibly naive (or, cynically, a liar)?
There has been, for at least the last couple of decades. a determined effort to do away with corruption – by defining it away. "Citizens United" is perhaps the most glaring example but the effort is ongoing; that Weiner op-ed is a good current example.
jef , August 31, 2019 at 11:34 am
What is cynical is everyone's response when point out that the system is corrupt. They all say " always has been, always will be so just deal with it ".
Susan the other` , August 31, 2019 at 12:14 pm
Strawmannirg has got to be the most cynical behavior in the world. Weiner is the cynic. I think Liz's "the system is rigged " comment invites discussion. It is not a closed door at all. It is a plea for good capitalism. Which most people assume is possible. It's time to define just what kind of capitalism will work and what it needs to continue to be, or finally become, a useful economic ideology. High time.
Susan the other` , August 31, 2019 at 12:25 pm
Another thing. Look how irrational the world, which is now awash in money, has become over lack of liquidity. There's a big push now to achieve an optimum flow of money by speeding up transaction time. The Fed is in the midst of designing a new real-time digital payments system. A speedy accounting and record of everything. Which sounds like a very good idea.
But the predators are busy keeping pace – witness the frantic grab by Facebook with Libra. Libra is cynical. To say the least. The whole thing a few days ago on the design of Libra was frightening because Libra has not slowed down; it has filed it's private corporation papers in Switzerland and is working toward a goal of becoming a private currency – backed by sovereign money no less! Twisted. So there's a good discussion begging to be heard: The legitimate Federal Reserve v. Libra. The reason we are not having this discussion is because the elite are hard-core cynics.
Aug 30, 2019 | www.unz.com
It is apparent that the caricature of the Soviet Union in both productions is really a stand-in for the present-day Russian government under Vladimir Putin. As only American exceptionalism could permit, Hollywood did not hold the same disdain for his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, whose legacy of high inflation and national debt have since been eliminated. In fact, most have forgotten that the same filmdom community outraged about Russia's supposed interference in the 2016 U.S. election made a celebratory movie back in 2003, Spinning Boris , which practically boasted about the instrumental role the West played in Yeltsin's 1996 reelection in Russia.
The highly unpopular alcoholic politician benefited from a near universal media bias as virtually all the federation's news outlets came under the control of the 'oligarchs' (in America known simply as billionaires) which his economic policies of mass privatization of state industry enriched overnight.
Yeltsin initially polled at less than 10% and was far behind Communist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov until he became the recipient of billions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) thanks to his corrupt campaign manager, Anatoly Chubais, now one of the most hated men in all of Russia. After the purging of votes and rampant ballot-box stuffing, Yeltsin successfully closed the gap between his opponent thanks to the overt U.S. meddling.
Spinning Boris was directed by Roger Spottiswoode, who previously helmed an installment in the James Bond series, Tomorrow Never Dies . The 1997 entry in the franchise is one of thousands of Hollywood films and network television shows exposed by journalists Matthew Alford and Tom Secker as having been influenced or directly assisted by the Pentagon and CIA in their must-read book National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood. Based on evidence from documents revealed in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, their investigation divulges the previously unknown extent to which the national security complex has gone in exerting control over content in the film industry. While it has always been known that the military held sway over movies that required usage of its facilities and equipment to be produced, the level of impact on such films in the pre-production and editing stages, as well as the control over non-military themed flicks one wouldn't suspect to be under supervision by Washington and Langley, is exhaustively uncovered.
As expected, Hollywood and the military-industrial complex's intimate relationship during the Cold War is featured prominently in Alford and Secker's investigative work. It is unclear whether HBO or Netflix sought US military assistance or were directly involved with the national security state in their respective productions, but these are just two recent examples of many where the correlated increase in geopolitical tensions with Moscow is reflected. The upcoming sequel to DC's Wonder Woman set to be released next year , Wonder Woman 1984, featuring the female superhero " coming into conflict with the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1980s ", is yet another. Reprising her role is Israeli actress and IDF veteran is Gal Gadot as the title character, ironically starring in a blockbuster that will demonize the Eurasian state which saved her ethnicity from extinction. Given the Pentagon's involvement in the debacle surounding 2014's The Interview which provoked very real tensions with North Korea, it is likely they are at least closely examining any entertainment with content regarding Russia, if not directly pre-approving it for review.
Ultimately, the Western panic about its imperial decline is not limited to assigning blame to Moscow. Sinophobia has manifested as well in recent films such as the 2016 sci-fi film Arrival where the extra-terrestrials who reach Earth seem more interested in communicating with Beijing as the global superpower than the U.S. However, while the West forebodes the return of Russia and China to greater standing, you can be certain its real fear lies elsewhere. The fact that Chernobyl and Stranger Things are as preoccupied with portraying socialism in a bad light as they are in rendering Moscow nefarious shows the real underlying trepidation of the ruling elite that concerns the resurgence of class consciousness. The West must learn its lesson that its state of perpetual war has caused its own downfall or it could attempt a last line of defense that would inevitably conscript all of humanity to its death as the ruling class nearly did to the world in 1914 and 1939.
Jul 13, 2019 | caucus99percent.com
** A footnote on Larry Summers seems important here: Harvard-trained economists have been running the US economy for a very long time, and continue to do so. Summers began his ascent as a professor of economics at Harvard University, leaving shortly before Bill Clinton won the Presidency. He was clearly the Neoliberal seed planted for the New American Century.
In 1993, Summers was appointed Undersecretary for International Affairs of the United States Department of the Treasury under the Clinton Administration. In 1995, he was promoted to Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under his long-time political mentor Robert Rubin. In 1999, he succeeded Rubin as Secretary of the Treasury.
While working for the Clinton administration Summers played a leading role in the American response to the 1994 economic crisis in Mexico, the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and the Russian financial crisis. He was also influential in the Harvard Institute for International Development and American-advised privatization of the economies of the post-Soviet states, and in the deregulation of the U.S financial system, including the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.
At This Point the Ball is Passed to the Bush Team Republicans, while the Democrats Sit Back and Wait for 2008.
There's now a Treasury surplus to transfer to the wealthy, and the necessary deregulation for Wall Street empowerment is in place. The Soviet era had ended and Russia is ended forever. The world is finally primed to be seized by the One Exceptional Power. It's 2001, and we are standing on the threshold of the New American Century . Time to throw a flash-bang of chaos onto the world stage and trigger the booming War Economy that will carry us directly to global control.
There's a rocky road ahead for Larry Summers. Summers introduces Epstein into the Harvard fold, but becomes reckless with his newly-refined Neoliberalism and his opinions concerning "lady scholars."
Following the end of Clinton's term, Summers served as the 27th President of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006. Summers resigned as Harvard's president in the wake of a no-confidence vote by Harvard faculty, which resulted in large part from Summers's conflict with Cornel West, financial conflict of interest questions regarding his relationship with Andrei Shleifer, and a 2005 speech in which he suggested that the under-representation of women in science and engineering could be due to a "different availability of aptitude at the high end", and less to patterns of discrimination and socialization. Remarking upon political correctness in institutions of higher education, Summers said in 2016:
There is a great deal of absurd political correctness. Now, I'm somebody who believes very strongly in diversity, who resists racism in all of its many incarnations, who thinks that there is a great deal that's unjust in American society that needs to be combated, but it seems to be that there is a kind of creeping totalitarianism in terms of what kind of ideas are acceptable and are debatable on college campuses.
After his departure from Harvard, Summers cooled his jets on Wall Street, positioning himself to be called back into the game when it was Team Democrat's turn in 2008.
Summers worked as a managing partner at the hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co., and as a freelance speaker at other financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. Summers rejoined public service during the Obama administration, serving as the Director of the White House United States National Economic Council for President Barack Obama from January 2009 until November 2010, where he emerged as a key economic decision-maker in the Obama administration's response to the Great Recession.
Jeffery Epstein continued to weave himself into the fabric of government like a good psychopath would. He was by no means the only one.
Jul 03, 2019 | theamericanconservative.com
Douglas K • 3 days ago • editedTo this day, Maher's response still leaves me dumbfounded: "I would say that's a secular religion." Before Douthat could ask what the hell a secular religion is, Maher changed the subject. The meaning of Maher's nonsensical statement was clear: everything Maher doesn't like is religion.
Maher was right. I've been saying for decades -- since Brezhnev was still alive -- that the Soviet Union was a functional theocracy. Sure, they didn't use God or angels or miracles in their rhetoric, but that's just surface trappings.
In practice, the USSR behaved exactly like a brutal totalitarian theocracy would. They had an impersonal god (the theory of history that would lead inevitably to heaven on Earth) which the government treated as the source of their authority and their justification for everything they did in the name of the Revolution.
They had a state church (the Communist Party -- no rivals allowed) that you needed to join to get anywhere in society. They had prophets (look what they did with Lenin after his death), saints (heroes of the Revolution), idols, sacred texts that could not be challenged, brutal suppression of other religions, witch hunts for heretics (anyone who opposed the Revolution).
So yes: the USSR turned "communism" into their de facto state religion. No, they didn't include personified invisible spirits in their ideology. But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ....
Jul 05, 2019 | www.unz.com
"The purpose of a military conquest is to take control of foreign economies, to take control of their land and impose tribute. The genius of the World Bank was to recognize that it's not necessary to occupy a country in order to impose tribute, or to take over its industry, agriculture and land. Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering. As long as other countries play an artificial economic game that U.S. diplomacy can control, finance is able to achieve today what used to require bombing and loss of life by soldiers."
I'm Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter: Dr. Michael Hudson. Today's show: The IMF and World Bank: Partners In Backwardness . Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is President of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trend, a Wall Street Financial Analyst, and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
His most recent books include " and Forgive them Their Debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year "; Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy , and J Is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception . He is also author of Trade, Development and Foreign Debt , among many other books.
We return today to a discussion of Dr. Hudson's seminal 1972 book, Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire , a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank, with a special emphasis on food imperialism.
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Bonnie Faulkner : In your seminal work form 1972, Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire , you write: "The development lending of the World Bank has been dysfunctional from the outset." When was the World Bank set up and by whom?
Michael Hudson : It was set up basically by the United States in 1944, along with its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their purpose was to create an international order like a funnel to make other countries economically dependent on the United States. To make sure that no other country or group of countries – even all the rest of the world – could not dictate U.S. policy. American diplomats insisted on the ability to veto any action by the World Bank or IMF. The aim of this veto power was to make sure that any policy was, in Donald Trump's words, to put America first. "We've got to win and they've got to lose."
The World Bank was set up from the outset as a branch of the military, of the Defense Department. John J. McCloy (Assistant Secretary of War, 1941-45), was the first full-time president. He later became Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (1953-60). McNamara was Secretary of Defense (1961-68), Paul Wolfowitz was Deputy and Under Secretary of Defense (1989-2005), and Robert Zoellick was Deputy Secretary of State. So I think you can look at the World Bank as the soft shoe of American diplomacy.
Bonnie Faulkner : What is the difference between the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the IMF? Is there a difference?
Michael Hudson : Yes, there is. The World Bank was supposed to make loans for what they call international development. "Development" was their euphemism for dependency on U.S. exports and finance. This dependency entailed agricultural backwardness – opposing land reform, family farming to produce domestic food crops, and also monetary backwardness in basing their monetary system on the dollar.
The World Bank was supposed to provide infrastructure loans that other countries would go into debt to pay American engineering firms, to build up their export sectors and their plantation sectors by public investment roads and port development for imports and exports. Essentially, the Bank financed long- investments in the foreign trade sector, in a way that was a natural continuation of European colonialism.
In 1941, for example, C. L. R. James wrote an article on "Imperialism in Africa" pointing out the fiasco of European railroad investment in Africa: "Railways must serve flourishing industrial areas, or densely populated agricult5ural regions, or they must open up new land along which a thriving population develops and provides the railways with traffic. Except in the mining regions of South Africa, all these conditions are absent. Yet railways were needed, for the benefit of European investors and heavy industry." That is why, James explained "only governments can afford to operate them," while being burdened with heavy interest obligations.  What was "developed" was Africa's mining and plantation export sector, not its domestic economies. The World Bank followed this pattern of "development" lending without apology.
The IMF was in charge of short-term foreign currency loans. Its aim was to prevent countries from imposing capital controls to protect their balance of payments. Many countries had a dual exchange rate: one for trade in goods and services, the other rate for capital movements. The function of the IMF and World Bank was essentially to make other countries borrow in dollars, not in their own currencies, and to make sure that if they could not pay their dollar-denominated debts, they had to impose austerity on the domestic economy – while subsidizing their import and export sectors and protecting foreign investors, creditors and client oligarchies from loss.
The IMF developed a junk-economics model pretending that any country can pay any amount of debt to the creditors if it just impoverishes its labor enough. So when countries were unable to pay their debt service, the IMF tells them to raise their interest rates to bring on a depression – austerity – and break up the labor unions. That is euphemized as "rationalizing labor markets." The rationalizing is essentially to disable labor unions and the public sector. The aim – and effect – is to prevent countries from essentially following the line of development that had made the United States rich – by public subsidy and protection of domestic agriculture, public subsidy and protection of industry and an active government sector promoting a New Deal democracy. The IMF was essentially promoting and forcing other countries to balance their trade deficits by letting American and other investors buy control of their commanding heights, mainly their infrastructure monopolies, and to subsidize their capital flight.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Now, Michael, when you began speaking about the IMF and monetary controls, you mentioned that there were two exchange rates of currency in countries. What were you referring to?
MICHAEL HUDSON : When I went to work on Wall Street in the '60s, I was balance-of-payments economist for Chase Manhattan, and we used the IMF's monthly International Financial Statistics every month. At the top of each country's statistics would be the exchange-rate figures. Many countries had two rates: one for goods and services, which was set normally by the market, and then a different exchange rate that was managed for capital movements. That was because countries were trying to prevent capital flight. They didn't want their wealthy classes or foreign investors to make a run on their own currency – an ever-present threat in Latin America.
The IMF and the World Bank backed the cosmopolitan classes, the wealthy. Instead of letting countries control their capital outflows and prevent capital flight, the IMF's job is to protect the richest One Percent and foreign investors from balance-of-payments problems.
The World Bank and American diplomacy have steered them into a chronic currency crisis. The IMF enables its wealthy constituency to move their money out of the country without taking a foreign-exchange loss. It makes loans to support capital flight out of domestic currencies into the dollar or other hard currencies. The IMF calls this a "stabilization" program. It is never effective in helping the debtor economy pay foreign debts out of growth. Instead, the IMF uses currency depreciation and sell-offs of public infrastructure and other assets to foreign investors after the flight capital has left and currency collapses. Wall Street speculators have sold the local currency short to make a killing, George-Soros style.
When the debtor-country currency collapses, the debts that these Latin American countries owe are in dollars, and now have to pay much more in their own currency to carry and pay off these debts. We're talking about enormous penalty rates in domestic currency for these countries to pay foreign-currency debts – basically taking on to finance a non-development policy and to subsidize capital flight when that policy "fails" to achieve its pretended objective of growth.
All hyperinflations of Latin America – Chile early on, like Germany after World War I – come from trying to pay foreign debts beyond the ability to be paid. Local currency is thrown onto the foreign-exchange market for dollars, lowering the exchange rate. That increases import prices, raising a price umbrella for domestic products.
A really functional and progressive international monetary fund that would try to help countries develop would say: "Okay, banks and we (the IMF) have made bad loans that the country can't pay. And the World Bank has given it bad advice, distorting its domestic development to serve foreign customers rather than its own growth. So we're going to write down the loans to the ability to be paid." That's what happened in 1931, when the world finally stopped German reparations payments and Inter-Ally debts to the United States stemming from World War I.
Instead, the IMF says just the opposite: It acts to prevent any move by other countries to bring the debt volume within the ability to be paid. It uses debt leverage as a way to control the monetary lifeline of financially defeated debtor countries. So if they do something that U.S. diplomats don't approve of, it can pull the plug financially, encouraging a run on their currency if they act independently of the United States instead of falling in line. This control by the U.S. financial system and its diplomacy has been built into the world system by the IMF and the World Bank claiming to be international instead of an expression of specifically U.S. New Cold War nationalism.
BONNIE FAULKNER : How do exchange rates contribute to capital flight?
MICHAEL HUDSON : It's not the exchange rate that contributes. Suppose that you're a millionaire, and you see that your country is unable to balance its trade under existing production patterns. The money that the government has under control is pesos, escudos, cruzeiros or some other currency, not dollars or euros. You see that your currency is going to go down relative to the dollar, so you want to get our money out of the country to preserve your purchasing power.
This has long been institutionalized. By 1990, for instance, Latin American countries had defaulted so much in the wake of the Mexico defaults in 1982 that I was hired by Scudder Stevens, to help start a Third World Bond Fund (called a "sovereign high-yield fund"). At the time, Argentina and Brazil were running such serious balance-of-payments deficits that they were having to pay 45 percent per year interest, in dollars, on their dollar debt. Mexico, was paying 22.5 percent on its tesobonos .
Scudders' salesmen went around to the United States and tried to sell shares in the proposed fund, but no Americans would buy it, despite the enormous yields. They sent their salesmen to Europe and got a similar reaction. They had lost their shirts on Third World bonds and couldn't see how these countries could pay.
Merrill Lynch was the fund's underwriter. Its office in Brazil and in Argentina proved much more successful in selling investments in Scudder's these offshore fund established in the Dutch West Indies. It was an offshore fund, so Americans were not able to buy it. But Brazilian and Argentinian rich families close to the central bank and the president became the major buyers. We realized that they were buying these funds because they knew that their government was indeed going to pay their stipulated interest charges. In effect, the bonds were owed ultimately to themselves. So these Yankee dollar bonds were being bought by Brazilians and other Latin Americans as a vehicle to move their money out of their soft local currency (which was going down), to buy bonds denominated in hard dollars.
BONNIE FAULKNER : If wealthy families from these countries bought these bonds denominated in dollars, knowing that they were going to be paid off, who was going to pay them off? The country that was going broke?
MICHAEL HUDSON : Well, countries don't pay; the taxpayers pay, and in the end, labor pays. The IMF certainly doesn't want to make its wealthy client oligarchies pay. It wants to squeeze ore economic surplus out of the labor force. So countries are told that the way they can afford to pay their enormously growing dollar-denominated debt is to lower wages even more.
Currency depreciation is an effective way to do this, because what is devalued is basically labor's wages. Other elements of exports have a common world price: energy, raw materials, capital goods, and credit under the dollar-centered international monetary system that the IMF seeks to maintain as a financial strait jacket.
According to the IMF's ideological models, there's no limit to how far you can lower wages by enough to make labor competitive in producing exports. The IMF and World Bank thus use junk economics to pretend that the way to pay debts owed to the wealthiest creditors and investors is to lower wages and impose regressive excise taxes, to impose special taxes on necessities that labor needs, from food to energy and basic services supplied by public infrastructure.
BONNIE FAULKNER: So you're saying that labor ultimately has to pay off these junk bonds?
MICHAEL HUDSON: That is the basic aim of IMF. I discuss its fallacies in my Trade Development and Foreign Debt , which is the academic sister volume to Super Imperialism . These two books show that the World Bank and IMF were viciously anti-labor from the very outset, working with domestic elites whose fortunes are tied to and loyal to the United States.
BONNIE FAULKNER : With regard to these junk bonds, who was it or what entity
MICHAEL HUDSON : They weren't junk bonds. They were called that because they were high-interest bonds, but they weren't really junk because they actually were paid. Everybody thought they were junk because no American would have paid 45 percent interest. Any country that really was self-reliant and was promoting its own economic interest would have said, "You banks and the IMF have made bad loans, and you've made them under false pretenses – a trade theory that imposes austerity instead of leading to prosperity. We're not going to pay." They would have seized the capital flight of their comprador elites and said that these dollar bonds were a rip-off by the corrupt ruling class.
The same thing happened in Greece a few years ago, when almost all of Greece's foreign debt was owed to Greek millionaires holding their money in Switzerland. The details were published in the "Legarde List." But the IMF said, in effect that its loyalty was to the Greek millionaires who ha their money in Switzerland. The IMF could have seized this money to pay off the bondholders. Instead, it made the Greek economy pay. It found that it was worth wrecking the Greek economy, forcing emigration and wiping out Greek industry so that French and German bondholding banks would not have to take a loss. That is what makes the IMF so vicious an institution.
BONNIE FAULKNER : So these loans to foreign countries that were regarded as junk bonds really weren't junk, because they were going to be paid. What group was it that jacked up these interest rates to 45 percent?
MICHAEL HUDSON : The market did. American banks, stock brokers and other investors looked at the balance of payments of these countries and could not see any reasonable way that they could pay their debts, so they were not going to buy their bonds. No country subject to democratic politics would have paid debts under these conditions. But the IMF, U.S. and Eurozone diplomacy overrode democratic choice.
Investors didn't believe that the IMF and the World Bank had such a strangle hold over Latin American, Asian, and African countries that they could make the countries act in the interest of the United States and the cosmopolitan finance capital, instead of in their own national interest. They didn't believe that countries would commit financial suicide just to pay their wealthy One Percent.
They were wrong, of course. Countries were quite willing to commit economic suicide if their governments were dictatorships propped up by the United States. That's why the CIA has assassination teams and actively supports these countries to prevent any party coming to power that would act in their national interest instead of in the interest of a world division of labor and production along the lines that the U.S. planners want for the world. Under the banner of what they call a free market, you have the World Bank and the IMF engage in central planning of a distinctly anti-labor policy. Instead of calling them Third World bonds or junk bonds, you should call them anti-labor bonds, because they have become a lever to impose austerity throughout the world.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Well, that makes a lot of sense, Michael, and answers a lot of the questions I've put together to ask you. What about Puerto Rico writing down debt? I thought such debts couldn't be written down.
MICHAEL HUDSON : That's what they all said, but the bonds were trading at about 45 cents on the dollar, the risk of their not being paid. The Wall Street Journal on June 17, reported that unsecured suppliers and creditors of Puerto Rico, would only get nine cents on the dollar. The secured bond holders would get maybe 65 cents on the dollar.
The terms are being written down because it's obvious that Puerto Rico can't pay, and that trying to do so is driving the population to move out of Puerto Rico to the United States. If you don't want Puerto Ricans to act the same way Greeks did and leave Greece when their industry and economy was shut down, then you're going to have to provide stability or else you're going to have half of Puerto Rico living in Florida.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Who wrote down the Puerto Rican debt?
MICHAEL HUDSON : A committee was appointed, and it calculated how much Puerto Rico can afford to pay out of its taxes. Puerto Rico is a U.S. dependency, that is, an economic colony of the United States. It does not have domestic self-reliance. It's the antithesis of democracy, so it's never been in charge of its own economic policy and essentially has to do whatever the United States tells it to do. There was a reaction after the hurricane and insufficient U.S. support to protect the island and the enormous waste and corruption involved in the U.S. aid. The U.S. response was simply: "We won you fair and square in the Spanish-American war and you're an occupied country, and we're going to keep you that way." Obviously this is causing a political resentment.
BONNIE FAULKNER : You've already touched on this, but why has the World Bank traditionally been headed by a U.S. secretary of defense?
MICHAEL HUDSON : Its job is to do in the financial sphere what, in the past, was done by military force. The purpose of a military conquest is to take control of foreign economies, to take control of their land and impose tribute. The genius of the World Bank was to recognize that it's not necessary to occupy a country in order to impose tribute, or to take over its industry, agriculture and land. Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering. As long as other countries play an artificial economic game that U.S. diplomacy can control, finance is able to achieve today what used to require bombing and loss of life by soldiers.
In this case the loss of life occurs in the debtor countries. Population growth shrinks, suicides go up. The World Bank engages in economic warfare that is just as destructive as military warfare. At the end of the Yeltsin period Russia's President Putin said that American neoliberalism destroyed more of Russia's population than did World War II. Such neoliberalism, which basically is the doctrine of American supremacy and foreign dependency, is the policy of the World Bank and IMF.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Why has World Bank policy since its inception been to provide loans for countries to devote their land to export crops instead of giving priority to feeding themselves? And if this is the case, why do countries want these loans?
MICHAEL HUDSON : One constant of American foreign policy is to make other countries dependent on American grain exports and food exports. The aim is to buttress America's agricultural trade surplus. So the first thing that the World Bank has done is not to make any domestic currency loans to help food producers. Its lending has steered client countries to produce tropical export crops, mainly plantation crops that cannot be grown in the United States. Focusing on export crops leads client countries to become dependent on American farmers – and political sanctions.
In the 1950s, right after the Chinese revolution, the United States tried to prevent China from succeeding by imposing grain export controls to starve China into submission by putting sanctions on exports. Canada was the country that broke these export controls and helped feed China.
The idea is that if you can make other countries export plantation crops, the oversupply will drive down prices for cocoa and other tropical products, and they won't feed themselves. So instead of backing family farms like the American agricultural policy does, the World Bank backed plantation agriculture. In Chile, which has the highest natural supply of fertilizer in the world from its guano deposits, exports guano instead of using it domestically. It also has the most unequal land distribution, blocking it from growing its own grain or food crops. It's completely dependent on the United States for this, and it pays by exporting copper, guano and other natural resources.
The idea is to create interdependency – one-sided dependency on the U.S. economy. The United States has always aimed at being self-sufficient in its own essentials, so that no other country can pull the plug on our economy and say, "We're going to starve you by not feeding you." Americans can feed themselves. Other countries can't say, "We're going to let you freeze in the dark by not sending you oil," because America's independent in energy. But America can use the oil control to make other countries freeze in the dark, and it can starve other countries by food-export sanctions.
So the idea is to give the United States control of the key interconnections of other economies, without letting any country control something that is vital to the working of the American economy.
There's a double standard here. The United States tells other countries: "Don't do as we do. Do as we say." The only way it can enforce this is by interfering in the politics of these countries, as it has interfered in Latin America, always pushing the right wing. For instance, when Hillary's State Department overthrew the Honduras reformer who wanted to undertake land reform and feed the Hondurans, she said: "This person has to go." That's why there are so many Hondurans trying to get into the United States now, because they can't live in their own country.
The effect of American coups is the same in Syria and Iraq. They force an exodus of people who no longer can make a living under the brutal dictatorships supported by the United States to enforce this international dependency system.
BONNIE FAULKNER : So when I asked you why countries would want these loans, I guess you're saying that they wouldn't, and that's why the U.S. finds it necessary to control them politically.
MICHAEL HUDSON : That's a concise way of putting it Bonnie.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Why are World Bank loans only in foreign currency, not in the domestic currency of the country to which it is lending?
MICHAEL HUDSON : That's a good point. A basic principle should be to avoid borrowing in a foreign currency. A country can always pay the loans in its own currency, but there's no way that it can print dollars or euros to pay loans denominated in these foreign currencies.
Making the dollar central forces other countries to interface with the U.S. banking system. So if a country decides to go its own way, as Iran did in 1953 when it wanted to take over its oil from British Petroleum (or Anglo Iranian Oil, as it was called back then), the United States can interfere and overthrow it. The idea is to be able to use the banking system's interconnections to stop payments from being made.
After America installed the Shah's dictatorship, they were overthrown by Khomeini, and Iran had run up a U.S. dollar debt under the Shah. It had plenty of dollars. I think Chase Manhattan was its paying agent. So when its quarterly or annual debt payment came due, Iran told Chase to draw on its accounts and pay the bondholders. But Chase took orders from the State Department or the Defense Department, I don't know which, and refused to pay. When the payment was not made, America and its allies claimed that Iran was in default. They demanded the entire debt to be paid, as per the agreement that the Shah's puppet government had signed. America simply grabbed the deposits that Iran had in the United States. This is the money that was finally returned to Iran without interest under the agreement of 2016.
America was able to grab all of Iran's foreign exchange just by the banks interfering. The CIA has bragged that it can do the same thing with Russia. If Russia does something that U.S. diplomats don't like, the U.S. can use the SWIFT bank payment system to exclude Russia from it, so the Russian banks and the Russian people and industry won't be able to make payments to each other.
This prompted Russia to create its own bank-transfer system, and is leading China, Russia, India and Pakistan to draft plans to de-dollarize.
BONNIE FAULKNER : I was going to ask you, why would loans in a country's domestic currency be preferable to the country taking out a loan in a foreign currency? I guess you've explained that if they took out a loan in a domestic currency, they would be able to repay it.
MICHAEL HUDSON : Yes.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Whereas a loan in a foreign currency would cripple them.
MICHAEL HUDSON : Yes. You can't create the money, especially if you're running a balance of payments deficit and if U.S. foreign policy forces you into deficit by having someone like George Soros make a run on your currency. Look at the Asia crisis in 1997. Wall Street funds bet against foreign currencies, driving them way down, and then used the money to pick up industry cheap in Korea and other Asian countries.
This was also done to Russia's ruble. The only country that avoided this was Malaysia, under Mohamed Mahathir, by using capital controls. Malaysia is an object lesson in how to prevent a currency flight.
But for Latin America and other countries, much of their foreign debt is held by their own ruling class. Even though it's denominated in dollars, Americans don't own most of this debt. It's their own ruling class. The IMF and World Bank dictate tax policy to Latin America – to un-tax wealth and shift the burden onto labor. Client kleptocracies take their money and run, moving it abroad to hard currency areas such as the United States, or at least keeping it in dollars in offshore banking centers instead of reinvesting it to help the country catch up by becoming independent agriculturally, in energy, finance and other sectors.
BONNIE FAULKNER : You say that: "While U.S. agricultural protectionism has been built into the postwar global system at its inception, foreign protectionism is to be nipped in the bud." How has U.S. agricultural protectionism been built into the postwar global system?
MICHAEL HUDSON : Under Franklin Roosevelt the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 called for price supports for crops so that farmers could earn enough to invest in equipment and seeds. The Agriculture Department was a wonderful department in spurring new seed varieties, agricultural extension services, marketing and banking services. It provided public support so that productivity in American agriculture from the 1930s to '50s was higher over a prolonged period than that of any other sector in history.
But in shaping the World Trade Organization's rules, the United States said that all countries had to promote free trade and could not have government support, except for countries that already had it. We're the only country that had it. That's what's called "grandfathering". The Americans said: "We already have this program on the books, so we can keep it. But no other country can succeed in agriculture in the way that we have done. You must keep your agriculture backward, except for the plantation crops and growing crops that we can't grow in the United States." That's what's so evil about the World Bank's development plan.
BONNIE FAULKNER : According to your book: "Domestic currency is needed to provide price supports and agricultural extension services such as have made U.S. agriculture so productive." Why can't infrastructure costs be subsidized to keep down the economy's overall cost structure if IMF loans are made in foreign currency?
MICHAEL HUDSON : If you're a farmer in Brazil, Argentina or Chile, you're doing business in domestic currency. It doesn't help if somebody gives you dollars, because your expenses are in domestic currency. So if the World Bank and the IMF can prevent countries from providing domestic currency support, that means they're not able to give price supports or provide government marketing services for their agriculture.
America is a mixed economy. Our government has always subsidized capital formation in agriculture and industry, but it insists that other countries are socialist or communist if they do what the United States is doing and use their government to support the economy. So it's a double standard. Nobody calls America a socialist country for supporting its farmers, but other countries are called socialist and are overthrown if they attempt land reform or attempt to feed themselves.
This is what the Catholic Church's Liberation Theology was all about. They backed land reform and agricultural self-sufficiency in food, realizing that if you're going to support population growth, you have to support the means to feed it. That's why the United States focused its assassination teams on priests and nuns in Guatemala and Central America for trying to promote domestic self-sufficiency.
BONNIE FAULKNER : If a country takes out an IMF loan, they're obviously going to take it out in dollars. Why can't they take the dollars and convert them into domestic currency to support local infrastructure costs?
MICHAEL HUDSON : You don't need a dollar loan to do that. Now were getting in to MMT. Any country can create its own currency. There's no reason to borrow in dollars to create your own currency. You can print it yourself or create it on your computers.
BONNIE FAULKNER: Well, exactly. So why don't these countries simply print up their own domestic currency?
MICHAEL HUDSON : Their leaders don't want to be assassinated. More immediately, if you look at the people in charge of foreign central banks, almost all have been educated in the United States and essentially brainwashed. It's the mentality of foreign central bankers. The people who are promoted are those who feel personally loyal to the United States, because they that that's how to get ahead. Essentially, they're opportunists working against the interests of their own country. You won't have socialist central bankers as long as central banks are dominated by the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements.
BONNIE FAULKNER : So we're back to the main point: The control is by political means, and they control the politics and the power structure in these countries so that they don't rebel.
MICHAEL HUDSON : That's right. When you have a dysfunctional economic theory that is destructive instead of productive, this is never an accident. It is always a result of junk economics and dependency economics being sponsored. I've talked to people at the U.S. Treasury and asked why they all end up following the United States. Treasury officials have told me: "We simply buy them off. They do it for the money." So you don't need to kill them. All you need to do is find people corrupt enough and opportunist enough to see where the money is, and you buy them off.
BONNIE FAULKNER : You write that "by following U.S. advice, countries have left themselves open to food blackmail." What is food blackmail?
MICHAEL HUDSON : If you pursue a foreign policy that we don't like -- for instance, if you trade with Iran, which we're trying to smash up to grab its oil -- we'll impose financial sanctions against you. We won't sell you food, and you can starve. And because you've followed World Bank advice and not grown your own food, you will starve, because you're dependent on us, the United States and our Free World Ó allies. Canada will no longer follow its own policy independently of the United States, as it did with China in the 1950s when it sold it grain. Europe also is falling in line with U.S. policy.
BONNIE FAULKNER : You write that: "World Bank administrators demand that loan recipients pursue a policy of economic dependency above all on the United States as food supplier." Was this done to support U.S. agriculture? Obviously it is, but were there other reasons as well?
MICHAEL HUDSON : Certainly the agricultural lobby was critical in all of this, and I'm not sure at what point this became thoroughly conscious. I knew some of the World Bank planners, and they had no anticipation that this dependency would be the result. They believed the free-trade junk economics that's taught in the schools' economics departments and for which Nobel prizes are awarded.
When we're dealing with economic planners, we're dealing with tunnel-visioned people. They stayed in the discipline despite its unreality because they sort of think that abstractly it makes sense. There's something autistic about most economists, which is why the French had their non-autistic economic site for many years. The mentality at work is that every country should produce what it's best at – not realizing that nations also need to be self-sufficient in essentials, because we're in a real world of economic and military warfare.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Why does the World Bank prefer to perpetrate world poverty instead of adequate overseas capacity to feed the peoples of developing countries?
MICHAEL HUDSON : World poverty is viewed as solution , not a problem. The World Bank thinks of poverty as low-priced labor, creating a competitive advantage for countries that produce labor-intensive goods. So poverty and austerity for the World Bank and IMF is an economic solution that's built into their models. I discuss these in my Trade, Development and Foreign Debt book. Poverty is to them the solution, because it means low-priced labor, and that means higher profits for the companies bought out by U.S., British, and European investors. So poverty is part of the class war: profits versus poverty.
BONNIE FAULKNER : In general, what is U.S. food imperialism? How would you characterize it?
MICHAEL HUDSON : Its aim is to make America the producer of essential foods and other countries producing inessential plantation crops, while remaining dependent on the United States for grain, soy beans and basic food crops.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Does World Bank lending encourage land reform in former colonies?
MICHAEL HUDSON : No. If there is land reform, the CIA sends its assassination teams in and you have mass murder, as you had in Guatemala, Ecuador, Central America and Columbia. The World Bank is absolutely committed against land reform. When the Forgash Plan for a World Bank for Economic Acceleration was proposed in the 1950s to emphasize land reform and local-currency loans, a Chase Manhattan economist to whom the plan was submitted warned that every country that had land reform turned out to be anti-American. That killed any alternative to the World Bank.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Does the World Bank insist on client governments privatizing their public domain? If so, why, and what is the effect?
MICHAEL HUDSON : It does indeed insist on privatization, pretending that this is efficient. But what it privatizes are natural monopolies – the electrical system, the water system and other basic needs. Foreigners take over, essentially finance them with foreign debt, build the foreign debt that they build into the cost structure, and raise the cost of living and doing business in these countries, thereby crippling them economically. The effect is to prevent them from competing with the United States and its European allies.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Would you say then that it is mainly America that has been aided, not foreign economies that borrow from the World Bank?
MICHAEL HUDSON : That's why the United States is the only country with veto power in the IMF and World Bank – to make sure that what you just described is exactly what happens.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Why do World Bank programs accelerate the exploitation of mineral deposits for use by other nations?
MICHAEL HUDSON : Most World Bank loans are for transportation, roads, harbor development and other infrastructure needed to export minerals and plantation crops. The World Bank doesn't make loans for projects that help the country develop in its own currency. By making only foreign currency loans, in dollars or maybe euros now, the World Bank says that its clients have to repay by generating foreign currency. The only way they can repay the dollars spent on American engineering firms that have built their infrastructure is to export – to earn enough dollars to pay back for the money that the World Bank or IMF have lent.
This is what John Perkins' book about being an economic hit man for the World Bank is all about. He realized that his job was to get countries to borrow dollars to build huge projects that could only be paid for by the country exporting more – which required breaking its labor unions and lowering wages so that it could be competitive in the race to the bottom that the World Bank and IMF encourage.
BONNIE FAULKNER : You also point out in Super Imperialism that mineral resources represent diminishing assets, so these countries that are exporting mineral resources are being depleted while the importing countries aren't.
MICHAEL HUDSON : That's right. They'll end up like Canada. The end result is going to be a big hole in the ground. You've dug up all your minerals, and in the end you have a hole in the ground and a lot of the refuse and pollution – the mining slag and what Marx called the excrements of production.
This is not a sustainable development. The World Bank only promotes the U.S. pursuit of sustainable development. So naturally, they call their "Development," but their focus is on the United States, not the World Bank's client countries.
BONNIE FAULKNER : When Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire was originally published in 1972, how was it received?
MICHAEL HUDSON : Very positively. It enabled my career to take off. I received a phone call a month later by someone from the Bank of Montreal saying they had just made $240 million on the last paragraph of my book. They asked what it would cost to have me come up and give a lecture. I began lecturing once a month at $3,500 a day, moving up to $6,500 a day, and became the highest-paid per diem economist on Wall Street for a few years.
I was immediately hired by the Hudson Institute to explain Super Imperialism to the Defense Department. Herman Kahn said I showed how U.S. imperialism ran rings around European imperialism. They gave the Institute an $85,000 grant to have me go to the White House in Washington to explain how American imperialism worked. The Americans used it as a how-to-do-it book.
The socialists, whom I expected to have a response, decided to talk about other than economic topics. So, much to my surprise, it became a how-to-do-it book for imperialists. It was translated by, I think, the nephew of the Emperor of Japan into Japanese. He then wrote me that the United States opposed the book being translated into Japanese. It later was translated. It was received very positively in China, where I think it has sold more copies than in any other country. It was translated into Spanish, and most recently it was translated into German, and German officials have asked me to come and discuss it with them. So the book has been accepted all over the world as an explanation of how the system works.
BONNIE FAULKNER : In closing, do you really think that the U.S. government officials and others didn't understand how their own system worked?
MICHAEL HUDSON : Many might not have understood in 1944 that this would be the consequence. But by the time 50 years went by, you had an organization called "Fifty Years Is Enough." And by that time everybody should have understood. By the time Joe Stiglitz became the World Bank's chief economist, there was no excuse for not understanding how the system worked. He was amazed to find that indeed it didn't work as advertised, and resigned. But he should have known at the very beginning what it was all about. If he didn't understand how it was until he actually went to work there, you can understand how hard it is for most academics to get through the vocabulary of junk economics, the patter-talk of free trade and free markets to understand how exploitative and destructive the system is.
BONNIE FAULKNER : Michael Hudson, thank you very much.
MICHAEL HUDSON : It's always good to be here, Bonnie. I'm glad you ask questions like these.
I've been speaking with Dr. Michael Hudson. Today's show has been: The IMF and World Bank: Partners in Backwardness. Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trend, a Wall Street financial analyst and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His 1972 book, Super Imperialism : The Economic Strategy of American Empire , a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank, the subject of today's broadcast, is posted in PDF format on his website at michael-hudson.com. He is also author of Trade, Development and Foreign Debt , which is the academic sister volume to Super Imperialism. Dr. Hudson acts as an economic advisor to governments worldwide on finance and tax law. Visit his website at michael-hudson.com.
Guns and Butter is produced by Bonnie Faulkner, Yarrow Mahko and Tony Rango. Visit us at gunsandbutter.org to listen to past programs, comment on shows, or join our email list to receive our newsletter that includes recent shows and updates. Email us at email@example.com . Follow us on Twitter at #gandbradio.
Jun 30, 2019 | www.unz.com
Priss Factor , says: Website June 29, 2019 at 12:04 am GMTAbrams is giving the West too much credit for the Sino-Soviet rift of the late 5os and 60s.
That was NOT the doing of the CIA or Western Europe. It was 90% the fault of Mao who tried to shove Khrushchev aside as the head of world communism. Because Stalin had treated Mao badly, Khrushchev wanted to make amends and treated Mao with respect. But Mao turned out to be a total a-hole. There are two kinds of people: Those who appreciate friendly gestures and those who seek kindness as 'weakness'.
It's like Hitler saw Chamberlain's offer as weakness and pushed ahead. Being kind is nice, but one should never be kind to psychopaths, and Khrushchev was nice to the wrong person.
Mao only understood power. He sensed Khrushchev as 'weak' and acted as if he wanted to be the new Stalin. He also made international statements that made the US-USSR relations much worse. He berated Khrushchev for seeking co-existence with the West and pressed on for more World Revolution.
He also ignored Soviet advice not to attempt radical economic policies (that were soon to bring China to economic ruin -- at least Stalin's collectivization led to rise of industry; in contrast, Mao managed to destroy both agriculture and heavy industry).
When Stalin was alive, he didn't treat Mao with any respect, and Mao disliked Stalin but still respected him because Mao understood Power. With Stalin gone, Khrushchev showed Mao some respect, but Mao felt no respect for Khrushchev who was regarded as a weakling and sucker.
It was all so stupid. China and Russia could have gotten along well if not for Mao's impetuosity. Of course, Khrushchev could be reckless, contradictory, and erratic, and his mixed signals to the West also heightened tensions. Also, he was caught between a rock and a hard place where the Eastern Bloc was concerned. He wanted to de-Stalinize, but this could lead to events like the Hungarian Uprising.
Anyway, Putin and Xi, perhaps having grown up in less turbulent times, are more stable and mature in character and temperament than Mao and Khrushchev. They don't see the Russo-China relations as a zero sum game of ego but a way for which both sides can come to the table halfway, which is all one can hope for.
Jun 29, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
snake , Jun 28, 2019 10:45:32 PM | 90worth repeating=> wagelaborer @ 16 said;
"The neoliberal economic plan is to suck the wealth out of the working class and funnel it up to the top 10%, especially the 1%. How to keep the working class from noticing the theft? How about divide and conquer?
Absolutely right on target..
@21 also with;
"Meanwhile, our ruling overlords pick their next puppet, let us all "vote" on computerized machines, and then the talking heads announce the "winner".And it all starts over. Just about covers it..
Putin's statesmanship is obvious...ben @ 72
juliania , Jun 28, 2019 11:04:54 PM | 91C I eh? , Jun 29, 2019 3:58:10 AM | 112 BG , Jun 29, 2019 4:18:59 AM | 113
At the end of the interview, Putin is asked to name someone he admires (I might have misremembered so do correct me if that wasn't the question). His answer surprised me - Peter the Great. That answer surprised me as there are some things about Peter the Great that wouldn't seem so admirable, but then I suppose much flowed from his reign.
Dostoievski did have roots in the liberalism of the day, being a Saint Petersburg resident and all, and his great talent was achieved thanks to the Europeanization which Peter helped bring about for Russia. His, Dostoievski's novels draw on European literature but bring to it a quality that is uniquely Russian. So too does their classical music, the ballet, opera - and Russian's know full well that their own Tchaikovski and many of their great dancers were and are gay.
Do you then condemn and reject? No, you do not. They are great artists; you cannot. There's the depth of Russian complexity - it is both east and west and its Christianity, as well as its atheism, is too.
It was Dostoievski after all, who found solace in the belief that the Russian people were the source of Russia's greatness, while embracing the slavic heritage; so indeed there is an interesting mixture there of elite and not so elite, which refuses really to be categorized as this or that 'ism'. It's like the idea of multipolarity - all fervent beliefs are to be respected but not one dominating over all the rest.Has everybody forgotten the mess Russia was in during the late 90s? The Russians have not.arby , Jun 29, 2019 7:49:42 AM | 124
In 1999, Shamil Basaev and his gang were on the verge of taking over Dagestan and completely cutting Russian land connection to the Eastern parts of the Caucasus. After it became clear how serious the situation was, Putin became Prime minister and on New Year's day Yeltsin resigned transferring power to Putin.
The first thing Putin did as acting president was to visit the troops in Chechnya and raise morale. In two years, the war was basically over, the rest being mop-up ops only.
Do you remember that one of the first things that he did when first elected was to gather the oligarchs and make them sign in !public! that from now on they will start paying taxes, treat their workers as humans and not mess in politics. The famous moment when Deripaska forgot to give Putin back his pen, the "please, give me my pen back" by Putin and the scared look on Deripaska's face?
Didn't Putin say in the early 2000s:"It is best for you to keep your money in Russia. Or you may found yourself choked by dust chasing for your money fruitlessly in Western courts"? Oh, the irony, 15 years later...
How much taxes did Yukos/Khodorkovsky pay? Anyone aware of the famous scheme where crude oil was classified in accounting as "earthen liquid", then bought from subsiduaries for nothing, so no taxes were paid. And now Gazprom or Rosneft announce that they have an annual income of 100 billion USD (figures are as an example) and that they paid 50 billion of it as taxes to the state?
The situation in Russia in Putin's early years was so dire that there was no other future but breakup and misery. You make your conclusions.
---Seems a lot of folks think these "Russian Oligarchs" just showed up out of the blue.Russia was a communist country so how did a few 20/30 year olds communists manage to become billionaire oligarchs in 10 years or less after the fall of communism? My guess is money from the west supplied to a few to buy up Russia for less than pennies on the dollar.Peter AU 1 , Jun 29, 2019 8:10:09 AM | 126
Putin described Oligarchs as people that influence the government in ways that create even more wealth for themselves. In that regard he said there are no more oligarchs in Russia.
Those billionaires have all fled Russia it seems.arby 124somebody , Jun 29, 2019 9:15:52 AM | 131
This is a good video on the rise of the oligarchs.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLNKqbwec0s
It is some time since I watched it, but a big part of how the oligarchs came to control most of the state assets was in the way Anatoly Chubais went about privatisation. From memory all citizens were given paper that gave them part ownership of state assets. The wannabe oligarchs snapped these up for peanuts and owned the bulk of what were state assets.128 arbysomebody , Jun 29, 2019 9:33:49 AM | 132
I don't know about "coddling". But it is clear that - apart from the military-industrial complex, the securitiy services and state controlled oil and gas, this is where the power is in Russia.
Putin is in the role of mediator between these power centers. He also tries to rally the population (Russians know what revolution means) by religion, "traditional values", the promise of security and stability, and yes - Make Russia Great Again - therefore - Peter the Great.
The problem is that Russian oligarchy is without legitimacy. Most oligarchy world wide is based on historical robbery but in Russia it is within this generation . They used to be part of the Soviet nomenklatura Communist Party network. It IS conceivable to litigate the riches robbed from the people in the 1990's (and has been done to oligarchs "not close to Putin") and the only shield between "the oligarchs" and Russians considering this idea is Putin's popularity and "Russian conservatism".The problem of rule by law in Russia.somebody , Jun 29, 2019 9:36:32 AM | 133These high-profile cases suggest that Russian legal outcomes, while unpredictable if one goes by the content of the law, are entirely predictable if one knows the preferences of the political sovereign: the Kremlin always wins.
However, this predictability is exaggerated. Outside a few very salient cases, the Kremlin either does not reveal its preferences or simply has no preferences.
When the Kremlin's position is uncertain, lower-level political actors, the prosecution, and judges try to guess the politically correct outcome and this guessing game introduces significant unpredictability into the legal regime. In addition, when political actors vie for relative power within the regime, they often seek to demonstrate that power by influencing court decisions in politically relevant cases.
Consider the frequent conflicts between mayors of major cities and regional governors. These conflicts are often fought vicariously through court cases, with each side attempting to mobilize enough political resources up the power ladder to secure a victory in court. Judges face the tough task of interpreting the signals that come from judicial superiors and the extrajudicial actors to deliver a decision that would be acceptable to whoever represents power (vlast') in that concrete case.add to 132 - So the only security for Russian oligarchs is to legalize their riches abroad - which they have done - or - if forced to keep their capital in Russia because of sanctions - Putin.Jen , Jun 29, 2019 9:41:37 AM | 134Somebody @ 119:
The proposed legislation that was known as Rotenberg's Law (after Italy sanctioned Arkady Rotenberg's properties in that country) passed a first reading in the Duma in October 2014. That is not the same as being declared law: there is a second reading in the Duma the legislation should have undergone and passed, and that second reading appears not to have been done . Objections to the legislation were raised by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the Supreme Arbitration Court, and the Minister for Economic Development at the time (late 2014) also raised concerns.
It seems odd that every business venture that might need some government funding or funding to develop necessary infrastructure has to undergo deliberation twice by lower houses in a country's parliament and then passed through the senate or its equivalent before the venture can go ahead?
If business people talk to Putin or people close to him, that does not mean their venture can go ahead without being put to tender or subjected to scrutiny to see that it complies with current regulations. I merely observed that it seems that business people who happen to meet Putin or talk to him about a venture they might have, seem to get tarred with the "Putin crony" brush.
The Moscow Times is an English-language weekly newspaper with a small circulation (about 55,000) which is given away for free. For several years it was published by a Finnish company (Sanoma Corporation). The newspaper is currently owned by a Dutch-based owner and its CEO runs a catering business for commercial airlines. For a leading English-language Russian newspaper, The Moscow Times seems to have a poor business model.
Jun 26, 2019 | www.zerohedge.comBlack Markets Show How Socialists Can't Overturn Economic Laws
by Tyler Durden Tue, 06/25/2019 - 22:45 3 SHARES
Authored by Allen Gindler via The Mises Institute,
If we consider economics to be an objective science, its rules should also have universal significance and use, despite differences in societal order. However, socialists of the materialist camp are committed to the idea that common ownership of the means of production would change the way economic laws unfold under socialism. Basically, they reject the notion of the universality and objectivity of economic rules by suggesting that the laws would change along with a change to the social formation.
Thus, communists adhered to the Marxian idea that socialism would rectify a "surplus value" law, end the "exploitation" of workers, and efficiently regulate the production, distribution, and consumption aspects of the economy. They sought to eliminate the market regulatory mechanism and replace it with directives of the central planning authority. Bolsheviks enthusiastically got down to business: they eradicated private property, collectivized everything and everyone, and implemented an official planned economy.
Did it effectively turn off market relations as they thought it would?
No. In contrast to the common perception, socialism has been unable to kill the market economy. The market went underground and turned into a black market. Black markets existed in capitalist countries as well, but they worked underground because they dealt in illegal commodities and services. The black market under socialism served the same purpose, but the list of commodities and services included mostly items of everyday and innocent consumption that people under capitalism could easily purchase in stores. Virtually all groups of personal consumption products found their way to the black market at some time and in some places. Everything from jar lids to toilet paper was subject to black-market relations.
Despite the proclaimed planned economy, people were engaged in market relations on all levels and trusted more the price of the goods and services that were established by the market and not dictated by the government. The official exchange rate of the ruble to the dollar was 0.66 to 1 in 1980. But nobody except party nomenclature was able to enjoy such a favorable exchange rate. At the same time, the black market offered 4 rubles for 1 American dollar.
There was no production of jeans in the Soviet Union, but like all their peers abroad, Soviet youth wore jeans. The price was 180–250 rubles for a pair depending on the brand, which was almost twice as much as the monthly wage of an entry-level engineer. A visiting nurse charged 1 ruble for one injection if a patient lived below the fifth floor. The price reached 1.5 rubles for patients who lived on the fifth floor and up. A plumber happily repaired a faucet for just a bottle of vodka.Two Prices for Everything
Therefore, in the Soviet Union, any significant goods had two price tags: one real and another virtual. The state set the first price through some obscure methods; the usual mechanism of supply and demand established the second price on the market. If you were lucky, after several hours of standing in a queue, you could purchase goods at the state price. However, due to the chronic lack of everything for everyone, the same product could be bought on the black market at a much higher price. The virtual price became real on the black market and reflected the actual value of the goods for the buyer. The presence of two price tags is a confirmation of the thesis of Ludwig von Mises regarding the impossibility of economic calculations under socialism. At the same time, this is proof of the immortality and immutability of the economic laws of the free market, even under a totalitarian regime. Therefore, two economic systems and two sets of prices co-exist under socialism.
People were forced to use the services of the black market, even under the penalty of severe punishment, including up to the death penalty. Almost the entire society was engaged in various corruption schemes to support a certain standard of living. There was a paradoxical situation when the shelves of the supermarkets were empty, but refrigerators at home were more or less full. The black market was filled with smuggled goods from abroad, as well as commodities produced in underground workshops. But more often, everyday products were specifically kept from retail to create a shortage and sell them on the black market at a speculative price. Socialism had undermined the normal flows of production, distribution, and consumption by ignoring the objective laws of economics. Nevertheless, an underground market and the intrinsic entrepreneurial spirit of the people helped them survive the socialist madness.
Regardless of the proclaimed successes of the Soviet economy reported by Communist party leaders, the socialist economy was unable to compete with its capitalist counterparts. Communists decided to create a system that somehow mimicked the work that a free market had successfully and automatically performed for centuries. Thus, they introduced socialist competition that was supposed to replace free market competition. Surely enough, it was an inadequate and unfortunate replacement. The rewards for winners in the capitalist competition were far higher than for the winners under socialism. For example, the capitalist winner enjoyed a significant increase in well-being.
Moreover, the principal winner of the free market competition was society as a whole. This is a natural feature of a free market economy and the main reason why the evolution of human societies selected this mode of production. A competition during socialism gave to the winners some publicity, a certificate of honor, maybe a trip to a "sanatorium" (that is, a health spa), and other bagatelles that people usually did not appreciate. But most importantly, society as a whole did not enjoy a significant improvement in well-being.
People were not sufficiently stimulated and were underpaid, which explained the lower labor productivity compared to capitalist countries. Moreover, this is despite the notion that the means of production, at last, belong to the workers themselves. People had a famous saying that can be considered the quintessence of Soviet-style socialism: "They [the government] pretend to pay, and we pretend to work."
Socialism is a set of systems that try to artificially inhibit the free flow of objective economic laws by creating subjective barriers in the form of specific legislation and punitive policies . Socialists mistakenly think that if they assault private property and market relations, the economic laws will also change. They have taken up the task which, in principle, has no rational solution. Nothing good comes from the idea of ignoring or violating the fundamental laws of economics. These laws still exist, regardless of opinions and neglect to recognize their real character and the impossibility of changing them.
Socialism disrupts the evolutionary process and leads society to a dead end. The desperate economic situation of ordinary folks in Venezuela , Cuba , and North Korea -- the remnants of socialist undertakings -- is a direct result of building a society in defiance of the natural action of the fundamental law of economics. As a rule, socialist regimes were buying time by employing slave labor, plunder, coercion, and everything else that an aggressive totalitarian regime could offer. However, in the end, the means of socialistic life support was exhausted, and than returning to the natural and healthy market relations, where the laws of economics work for the benefit of the human race.
The same laws of market economics have worked in different human societies: from pre-historic to post-industrial, but still socialists continue to entertain the idea of tampering with these forces of nature.
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Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com
NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 06:27@johncj
So easy to say when you so blithely ignore the historical injustices, the inequality of opportunity and the theft - the first person to claim a parcel of land as their own exclusive property was committing an act of theft.
It's not entrepreneurial; it's base rent-seeking and it was a violent act of forced approbriation by denying natural rights to others.
The subsequent claims to title are enforced by the threat of violence through the emergence of a pervasive state.
A modern example is the oligarchs who carved up the commons in a collapsing and disintegrating Soviet Union. Their's was an act of theft committed against society and the common good. Your definition of freedom is predicated on theft and is a denial of natural freedoms,
Jun 21, 2019 | weaponews.com
The question about the causes of the collapse and destruction of the Soviet Union – is not idle. It does not lose its relevance today, 22 years after occurred the death of the Soviet Union . Why? because some on the basis of this event concluded that, say, the capitalist model of the economy more competitive, more efficient and has no alternatives. American political scientist Francis Fukuyama after the collapse of the Soviet Union even hastened to declare that it was the "End of history": humanity has reached the highest and last stage of its development in the form of a universal, global capitalism. The relevance of studying the shadow economy, ssco opinion of this kind of political scientists, sociologists and economists, discussing the socialist economic model does not deserve attention.
Better to focus on improving the capitalist model of the economy, i. E. A model that targets all members of society to the enrichment, and a means of enrichment (profit) is the exploitation of one person by another. However, there are such "Natural" attributes of the capitalist model of social and income inequality, competition, cyclical crises, bankruptcies, unemployment and the like. All proposed improvements are aimed only at mitigating the inhuman consequences of capitalism that is reminiscent of utopian attempts to limit the appetite of a wolf devouring a sheep. We proceed from the fact that the key socio-economic characteristics of the socialist model are welfare for all members of society (goal), public ownership of the means of production (the main means), income generation solely for labor, planned nature of the economy, centralization of management, command positions of the state in the economy, the social consumption funds, the limited nature of commodity-money relations and so on. While this refers to the well-being not only in the form of products and services that are vital (biological) needs of the person.
This would also include public safety and defense, education, culture, conditions of work and rest. Of course, socialism – not only the economy and social relations. It also implies a certain type of political power, ideology, a high level of spiritually-moral development of society and another. High moral and spiritual requests should assume that there are higher goals in relation to socio-economic objectives.
But let's focus now is on the socio-economic aspect of the socialist model. So the erosion of the socialist model began long before the tragic events of december 1991, when it signed the infamous agreement on the division of the ussr in the bialowieza forest. It was already the final act of the political order. It is not only the date of death of the ussr, and date of full legalization of a new socio-economic model, which is called "Capitalism". However, implicitly capitalism germinated in the depths of soviet society for nearly three decades.
The soviet economy de facto has acquired the traits of a mixed. It combined socialist and capitalist structures. However, some foreign researchers and politicians said that de facto in the Soviet Union there was a complete restoration of capitalism in the 1960-ies – 1970-ies. The restoration of capitalism was linked to the emergence and development in the bowels of the ussr the so-called shadow or "Second" economy.
In particular, in the early 1960-ies member of the german communist party willy dickhut began publishing their articles, which stated that since coming to power in our country n. With. Khrushchev happened (not started, but it happened!) the restoration of capitalism in the ussr. The shadow economy functioned on the principles different from the socialist. Anyway, she was tied to corruption, embezzlement of state property, receipt of unearned income, in violation of the laws (or use of "Holes" in the legislation). Not to be confused with the shadow economy "Informal" economy, which is not contrary to the laws and principles of the socialist system, but complemented the economy "Official".
First of all, this self-employment – for example, the work of the farmer on the plot or the citizen in his summer cottage. And in the best of times (under stalin) widely developed the so-called fishing cooperation, which was occupied by production of consumer goods and services. In the Soviet Union state and party authorities chose to ignore the phenomenon of the shadow economy. No, of course, the police had uncovered and suppressed various operations in the sphere of the shadow economy. But the leaders of the ussr, commenting on this kind of history, fobbed off with phrases such as "Exception", "Some shortcomings", "Defects", "Bugs" and the like.
For example, in the early 1960-ies of the then first deputy of the ussr council of ministers anastas mikoyan has identified black market in the Soviet Union as "A handful of some dirty foam appearing on the surface of our society. "The shadow economy of the ussr: acincinnati some serious research shadow ("Second") economy in the ussr was conducted until the late 1980-ies. Abroad, such studies came first. First of all we should mention the work of american sociologist gregory grossman (university of california), which was called "Destructive independence. The historical role of genuine trends in soviet society".
She became widely known after was published in 1988 in the book "The light at the end of the tunnel" (university of berkeley, edited by stephen f. Cohen). However, the first article of grossman on this topic appeared in 1977 and was called "The second economy in the ussr (journal problems of communism, september-october 1977). You can also mention the book emigrated to the United States , the soviet lawyer konstantin simis "Corruption in the Soviet Union – the secret underground world of soviet capitalism", published in 1982. The author in the 1970-ies is closely in contact with some shady businessman, a lawyer which he performed at the trials.
However, quantitative assessments of shadow ("Second") economy k. Simes does not. Later appeared the work of american sociologists and economists of Russian origin Vladimir tremlia and michael alexeev. Since 1985, gregory grossman and Vladimir treml produce periodic collections of the "Second economy" of the ussr. Releases continued until 1993, only 51 were published a study involving 26 authors.
Many studies represented surveys of families of immigrants from the Soviet Union (a total of 1061 family). To studies have also used surveys of emigrants from other socialist countries, the official statistics of the ussr, publications in mass media and scientific journals of the Soviet Union . Despite the differences in some quantitative estimates of the individual authors, these differences were not fundamental. The differences arose due to the fact that some authors considered "Informal economy", the other – the shadow economy; however, their definitions of both economies could not match. Here are some results of these studies. 1.
In 1979 the illicit manufacture of wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages, as well as speculative resale of alcoholic beverages produced in the "First economy", provided the income, equal to 2. 2% of gnp (gross national product). 2. In the late 1970-ies in the ussr was flourishing black market gasoline. From 33 to 65% of purchases of gasoline in urban areas of the country, individual owners of cars had petrol sold by drivers of public enterprises and organizations (gasoline were sold at a price below the state). 3. In the soviet hairdresser 'left' incomes exceeded the amounts that customers have paid through cash.
This is just one example of what some state-owned enterprises de facto belonged to the "Second" economy. 4. In 1974 the share of employment in private and home gardens accounted for almost a third of the total working time in agriculture. And this was almost 10% of the total working time in the soviet economy. 5. In the 1970-ies, about a quarter of agricultural products produced on private plots, much of it was directed at kolkhoz markets. 6.
In the late 1970's, around 30% of all income of the urban population was obtained through various types of private activity – both legal and illegal. 7. By the end of 1970-ies the proportion of people employed in the "Second economy", reached 10-12% of the total workforce in the ussr. At the end of 1980-ies there appeared a number of works on the shadow and "Second" economy in the ussr. First and foremost is the publication of the soviet economist tatyana results and director of the research institute of the state planning commission valery rutgajzer. Here is the data from the t.
The results of the "Shadow economy of the ussr". The annual value of illegally produced goods and services in the early 1960-ies amounted to about 5 billion rubles, and in the end of 1980-ies was already reached 90 billion rubles. At current prices, the gnp of the ussr was (in billions of rubles): in 1960 – 195; in 1990, 701. Thus, the economy of the ussr for thirty years has increased 3. 6 times, and the shadow economy – 14 times.
If in 1960 the shadow economy relative to official gdp was 3. 4%, while by 1988 this figure rose to 20%. However, in 1990 it was equal to 12. 5%. This decline was due to changes in soviet legislation, which transferred to discharge a legal a range of economic activities, which were previously considered illegal. The number of employed in the shadow economy, estimated to be the results, in the beginning of 1960-ies was 6 million people, and in 1974 their number increased to 17-20 million people (6-7% of the population). In 1989, the such shadow was already 30 million people, or 12% of the population of the ussr. The threats and consequences of the development of the shadow economy in sssri american and soviet researchers pay attention to some features of the shadow economy and its impact on the overall situation in the Soviet Union .
Jun 14, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com
et Al June 7, 2019 at 3:28 pmFinancial Crimes: From Russian oil to rock'n'roll: the rise of Len Blavatnikmoscowexile June 8, 2019 at 11:57 pm
He made a fortune in the chaotic world of 1990s Russian capitalism, then took a place at the heart of the British establishment
Striding the halls of an English stately home, dressed in full costume as Victorian prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, Len Blavatnik was celebrating his 60th birthday. Grammy-winner Bruno Mars sang. Guests -- some in frock coats, others dressed as Leo Tolstoy, Rasputin or Chinese emissaries -- mixed with rock stars, celebrities and business tycoons.
Themed as an imaginary conference chaired by Disraeli, the June 2017 party was emblematic of Blavatnik's extraordinary rise from his birth in Soviet Ukraine to one of the UK's richest people
A lot more at the link.
So why did Abramovic get the bum rush? He's kept his head down, not made waves, behaved himself and spent a lot of money in the UK (Chelsea FC) which the above FT article sniffs at as unworthy (snobs), but the Brit government still stiffed his visa and he hasn't been back to the UK even though he now also has I-sraeli citizenship that affords him visa-free entry to the UK. Is it because the UK and others need some oligarchs on the side just in case their dream comes true and they need to parachute in some reliable Russians? That wouldn't surprise me. Government in waiting. Maybe Abramovic said "No." Wrong answer.Parachute in some reliable Russians ???
You mean "Sir" Leonard Blavatnik?
Леонид Валентинович Блаватник (Сэр Леонард Блаватник; англ. Sir Leonard Blavatnik или Len Blavatnik; род. 14 июня 1957, Одесса -- американский и британский предприниматель и промышленник еврейского происхождения. В 2015 году возглавил список богатейших людей Великобритании Russian Wiki
Leonid Valentinovich Blavatnik (Sir Leonard Blavatnik or Len Blavatnik); born 14 June 1957, Odessa – American and British entrepreneur and industrialist of Jewish ancestry. In 2015, headed a list of the richest people in Great Britain
Jun 01, 2019 | consortiumnews.com
elmerfudzie , May 30, 2019 at 17:37
Tainted tenure indeed! No one asks the right questions anymore. For example, where did all that Brexit cash come from? As I commented previously at CONSORTIUMNEWS and it is redacted here; “The Panama Papers signaled a need for radical change(s) in the EU banking laws. Hiding money, legit or not from, fair and open taxation, has become increasingly difficult for the upper crust….”
The BREXIT cash originated, no surprise folks, from a Gibraltar based firm, where a Mr Arron Banks (big bucks Banks) a guy with money to burn, with corporate holdings in the Isle of Man and too, one of his buddies, an Alan Kentish of the STM group specializing in, oh you’ll love this, offshore wealth preservation! LOL
And again, a Mr. Jim Mellon a for real billionaire, several times over I should think, the same guy who carpetbagged Russia after the collapse of the CCCP. His gleanings were called “privatization”… of poor mother Russia. Well, to make a long story short, Mr Kentish, the original pro-BREXITeer was arrested in Gibraltar under the UK’s Crime Act for such suspicious money funneling(s). My oh my Ms May, what strange political bedfellows you seem to have!
May 22, 2019 | www.unz.com
Jake says: Next New Comment May 22, 2019 at 3:27 pm GMT 100 Words This is good writing: "The KGB plotters of 1991 had thought that post-Communist Russia would be treated by the West like the prodigal son, with a fattened calf being slaughtered for the welcome feast. To their disappointment, the stupid bastards discovered that their country was to play the part of the fattened calf at the feast, and they were turned from unseen rulers into billionaires' bodyguards.
Jake says: Next New Comment May 22, 2019 at 3:22 pm GMT Andropov's mother was Jewish.
Apr 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Piotr Berman , Apr 27, 2019 3:26:43 PM | link
I think that at least some weapon systems that USA makes or develops can be indeed superior. The most acute loss from the approach of "invest in over-extending and un-balancing the opponent" is that USA, while powerful, cannot do everything in the same time.
My favorite comparison chart is timeliness of subway systems in major metropolitan areas. Honestly, I cannot find it, because the search is swamped with the tales of woe of subway commuters in NYC. As befits the greatest financial center, cultural metropolis etc. etc., NYC has a transportation system that is comparable in its extend to other metropolitan areas like Tokyo, Paris or London. However, the performance is uninspiring. On the chart in NYT that I can't find out at the moment, only Mexico City had a lower percentage of train rides delayed by less than 10 minutes. I checked Moscow that has a larger subway system (compared to NY) and which was not on the chart. They pride themselves with frequency of delays that is 5 times smaller than in Paris (50 times smaller than in NYC?). Moscovites can actually plan their daily lives assuming that their commutes will arrive on time.
This is the most glaring example of a lost opportunity to take care of domestic needs, but the quality of education, healthcare etc. is mediocre compared with the rest of OECD, although there is always the southern neighbor that saves USA from being dead last.
Incidentally, NYC subway is not exactly underfunded, instead, it may have the most irrational management among major metropolitan areas which accurately reflects deficiencies of American political system. Bloated costs are pervasive across many areas, surely in military, healthcare and broadly meant policing, and their originate in lobbo-cracy, a plethora of lobbies grabbing chunks of monies either directly spent or (mis)regulated by the government. The activity of these lobbies is tightly regulated by elaborate rules, but the end effect is as if USA were pathetically corrupted (say, half as corrupted as Nigeria).
Piotr Berman , Apr 27, 2019 3:46:11 PM | link
Concerning the capability of wrecking finances of other states, USA is not a slouch, the most powerful weapon is economic advise. If I interpret news correctly, it were experts of Goldman Sachs that help Greek government to borrow about twice as much as they could handle in the long run. The wreckage in Russia was as impressive, but, alas, hard to repeat, so now it remains to carp about their "bad behavior".
Sanctions are also powerful when directed at small/medium size economies. Russia, although disparaged as "a smaller economy than Italy", but in actuality, Italy has "GDP per capity PPP" that is 40% larger than Russia, and Russia has 2.4 times larger population, so quite a bit larger economy in terms of "purchasing parity", and the most glaring domestic production deficiency are fruit and vegetables that, according to latest news, have a number of potential suppliers that are most glad when they can sell their produce.
Apr 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
bevin , Apr 17, 2019 9:13:07 AM | link
Craig Murray has a piece on this today. There is nothing very new in what he writes but he sees the significance of this story, which is not about ducks or children or Donald Trump's personality but a concerted and thorough campaign, carried out largely by British state actors, to deepen the 'west's' isolation of Russia.
The real story of both the Cold War and the continually recurring propaganda stories about the "millions" of "victims of communism" is that the Soviet Union was manipulated throughout its history by capitalist control over the international economy. Like a demonic organist capitalist governments pulled out all the stops to control the moods and the policies of a state that the Bolsheviks never did get to rule.
In the end the Politburo gave in and did what the 'west' had always been wanted which is to hand over the country, lock, stock and population to the cannibals of capital.
The result being what was probably, after the 1930-45 war, the largest kill off of Russians in modern history: Yeltsin plus Harvard Business School being responsible for many more deaths than even the intoxicated propagandist Robert Conquest ever dreamed of.
It is that total control over Russia, through the manipulation of its economy, and the direction of its capitalists, that is behind the long series of sanctions, which are being added to every day: their purpose is to re-invent Yeltsinism, re-empower the Fifth Column in the Kremlin, and, in a stroke, re-establish the inevitable and eternal hegemony of the Washington centered Empire.
In this work the assistance of the 'cousins'in MI6 and GCHQ, plus the entire British military establishment has been crucial in a period in which the subservience of POTUS to the Deep State was, thanks to the underestimation of his electoral chances, very much in question. During a period in which Trump had to be tamed and brought under control the UK Establishment's assistance in coming up with a series of highly publicised interventions was crucia l.
Lysias points out that Haspel had acted as the CIA's Head of Station in London in 2016. It was in London that the entire "Russiagate" nonsense was put together, with British based actors continually prodding Congress, the media and the Democrats to act on revelations regarding Papadopolous, Mifsud, Stefan Halper.Skripal was just one more effort to tighten sanctions against Putin's allies in the Russian oligarchy and isolate Trump from foreign policy initiatives not approved by the Deep State. The significance of the NY Times story, then, is that, inadvertently it reinforces the reality that in the matter of Russiagate and Trump all roads lead to London, the Tory Establishment, which has been living off US-Russian tensions for seventy years and security agencies doing what the CIA cannot do for itself.
Apr 08, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
https://acdn.adnxs.com/ib/static/usersync/v3/async_usersync.html<img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" /> Has Privatization Benefitted the Public? Posted on April 7, 2019 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield Jerri-Lynn here. Another succinct post by Jomo Kwame Sundaram that makes clear the "benefits" of privatization are not evenly distributed, and in fact, typically, "many are even worse off" when the government chooses to transfer ownership of the family silver.
Note that SOE is the acronym for state owned enterprise.
For those interested in the topic, see also another short post by the same author from last September, debunking other arguments to promote the privatization fairy, Revisiting Privatization's Claims .
By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, former UN Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development. Originally published at Inter Press Service
In most cases of privatization, some outcomes benefit some, which serves to legitimize the change. Nevertheless, overall net welfare improvements are the exception, not the rule.
Never is everyone better off. Rather, some are better off, while others are not, and typically, many are even worse off. The partial gains are typically high, or even negated by overall costs, which may be diffuse, and less directly felt by losers.
Privatized Monopoly Powers
Since many SOEs are public monopolies, privatization has typically transformed them into private monopolies. In turn, abuse of such market monopoly power enables more rents and corporate profits.
As corporate profits are the private sector's yardstick of success, privatized monopolies are likely to abuse their market power to maximize rents for themselves. Thus, privatization tends to burden the public, e.g., if charges are raised.
In most cases, privatization has not closed the governments' fiscal deficits, and may even worsen budgetary problems. Privatization may worsen the fiscal situation due to loss of revenue from privatized SOEs, or tax evasion by the new privatized entity.
Options for cross-subsidization, e.g., to broaden coverage are reduced as the government is usually left with unprofitable activities while the potentially profitable is acquired by the private sector. Thus, governments are often forced to cut essential public services.
In most cases, profitable SOEs were privatized as prospective private owners are driven to maximize profits. Fiscal deficits have often been exacerbated as new private owners use creative accounting to avoid tax, secure tax credits and subsidies, and maximize retained earnings.
Meanwhile, governments lose vital revenue sources due to privatization if SOEs are profitable, and are often obliged to subsidize privatized monopolies to ensure the poor and underserved still have access to the privatized utilities or services.
Privatization Burdens Many
Privatization burdens the public when charges or fees are not reduced, or when the services provided are significantly reduced. Thus, privatization often burdens the public in different ways, depending on how market power is exercised or abused.
Often, instead of trying to provide a public good to all, many are excluded because it is not considered commercially viable or economic to serve them. Consequently, privatization may worsen overall enterprise performance. 'Value for money' may go down despite ostensible improvements used to justify higher user charges.
SOEs are widely presumed to be more likely to be inefficient. The most profitable and potentially profitable are typically the first and most likely to be privatized. This leaves the rest of the public sector even less profitable, and thus considered more inefficient, in turn justifying further privatizations.
It is often argued that privatization is needed as the government is inherently inefficient and does not know how to run enterprises well. Incredibly, the government is expected to subsidize privatized SOEs, which are presumed to be more efficient, in order to fulfil its obligations to the citizenry.
Such obligations may not involve direct payments or transfers, but rather, lucrative concessions to the privatized SOE. Thus, they may well make far more from these additional concessions than the actual cost of fulfilling government obligations.
Thus, privatization of profitable enterprises or segments not only perpetuates exclusion of the deserving, but also worsens overall public sector performance now encumbered with remaining unprofitable obligations.
One consequence is poorer public sector performance, contributing to what appears to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. To make matters worse, the public sector is then stuck with financing the unprofitable, thus seemingly supporting to the privatization prophecy.
Benefits Accrue to Relatively Few
Privatization typically enriches the politically connected few who secure lucrative rents by sacrificing the national or public interest for private profit, even when privatization may not seem to benefit them.
Privatization in many developing and transition economies has primarily enriched these few as the public interest is sacrificed to such powerful private business interests. This has, in turn, exacerbated corruption, patronage and other related problems.
For example, following Russian voucher privatization and other Western recommended reforms, for which there was a limited domestic constituency then, within three years (1992-1994), the Russian economy had collapsed by half, and adult male life expectancy fell by six years. It was the greatest such recorded catastrophe in the last six millennia of recorded human history.
Soon, a couple of dozen young Russian oligarchs had taken over the commanding heights of the Russian economy; many then monetized their gains and invested abroad, migrating to follow their new wealth. Much of this was celebrated by the Western media as economic progress.
diptherio , April 7, 2019 at 9:11 am
SOE must stand for "state owned enterprise."
Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author , April 7, 2019 at 9:30 am
Yes it does. I've now added a sentence to my introduction to make that clear. I noticed the omission when I was uploading the post, but wasn't sure whether readers would be confused.
Thanks for your comment.
caloba , April 7, 2019 at 10:45 am
As a rule of thumb, I'd say that any privatisations that require the introduction of convoluted pseudo-market structures or vast new regulatory bureaucracies or which derive most of their ongoing income from the public sector are likely to be contrary to the long-term public interest. In the UK, unfortunately, all these ships sailed a long time ago
DJG , April 7, 2019 at 11:15 am
After the recent Chicago municipal elections, I wrote up some notes on the reasons for the discontent. This article by Sundaram explains exactly how these schemes work. Further, you can apply his criteria of subsidies for the rich, skimming, and disinheriting the middle class and poor to all of the following instances in Chicago.
If I may–some for instances of how Sundaram's observations turn up in U.S. cities:
Chicago is the proving grounds for thirty or so years of the Democrats' surrender to neoliberalism and austerity politics. Let us not forget, brethren and sistren, that Rahm is the Spawn of Bill + Hill as well as dear friend and advisor of Obama. So there is the work of Daley to undo and the work of the Clintonians to undo. It will take more than one term for Lightfoot.
–Parking meters and enforcement have been privatized, starving the city of funds and, more importantly, of its police power.
–Taxes have been privatized in TIFs, where money goes and is never heard from again.
–There have been attempts to privatize the park system in the form of the Lucas museum and the current Obama Theme Park imbroglio, involving some fifty acres of park land.
–The school system has been looted and privatized. The Democrats are big fans of charter schools (right, "Beto"), seeing them as ways to skim money off the middle class and the poor.
–Fare collection on public transit has been privatized using a system so deliberately rudimentary and so deliberately corrupt that it cannot tell you at point of service how much you have paid as fare.
–Boeing was enticed to Chicago with tax breaks. Yes, that Boeing, the one that now deliberately puts bad software in your airplane.
–Property tax assessment has been an opaque system and source of skimming for lawyers.
–Zoning: Eddie Burke, pond scum, is just the top layer of pollution.
–And as we have made our descent, all of these economic dogmata have been enforced by petty harassment of the citizenry (endless tickets) and an ever-brutal police force.
And yet: The current Republican Party also supports all of these policies, so let's not pretend that a bunch of Mitch McConnell lookalikes are headed to Chicago to reform it.
California is no better , April 7, 2019 at 5:16 pm
Providing professional services i.e. architecture, engineering, etc. for a public entity, local or federal, does not yield unreasonable profits. Typically, the public agencies have their own staff to monitor and cost control a project. The professional services provided to private developers yields far more profit- oftentimes twice the profits associated with public agency work. Most professional services companies will transition their work to the public agencies during a recession.
At any rate, especially in Illinois, privatizing the work to avoid pension liabilities is no longer a choice. Michael Madigan pension promises will require the public to maintain a public service budget with no staff to fill potholes. Essentially, these are the no work jobs made popular by the Soprano crew twenty years ago.
Discussion of the downside of the privatization of public services is merely an oscillation from discussing the weather, the Bears or any other kitchen table discussion – nothing more than pleasant small talk to pass the time.
Privatization, at any cost, is no longer a choice. We have abused the pension system and now the public must pay for private companies to provide the most basic services.
stan6565 , April 7, 2019 at 6:36 pm
The question is, what can one do to help arrest this wholesale theft of public resources and their expropriation into the hands of well connected. " Public", as in, it is the working public over the last 100 or 200 years that created (or paid for), the electricity grid, or public schools, or entire armed or police forces
I keep thinking that perhaps an Act could or should be introduced here in UK (same for the States, i suppose), which should ensure that all politicians that enable any type of privatisation of public resources or PFI arrangement (yes that old chesnut), should be made personally responsible for the results therof.
And any losses to the public accidentally or "accidentally" occasioned by such commandeering over public resources, to be treated like deliberate misappropriation by the said public officials.
With the financial and custodial penalties as may be appropriate.
Anybody out there with similar thoughts or should i really try harder and give up on drugs?
eg , April 7, 2019 at 12:04 pm
Michael Hudson, to his immense credit, explains the pernicious effects of privatization of common goods repeatedly throughout his work, and demonstrates that it has been with us at least as long as the ancient practice of land alienation and rural usury.
Natural monopolies ought to be nationalised, full stop.
Grizziz , April 7, 2019 at 12:39 pm
I support public ownership of natural monopolies, however it would be helpful if these pieces contained data, case studies or footnoted entries providing some empirical evidence of the author's thesis.
Thuto , April 7, 2019 at 1:00 pm
This article comes at a time when the clarion call for privatizing Eskom, SA's electricity utility, is hitting deafening levels. To the private sector, efficiency = maximizing profits by making the "bloated" enterprise lean (aka cutting the workforce) and quite literally mean (aka cutting services to "unprofitable" segments of the market, iow, the poor and vulnerable). When profits soar because the holy grail of efficiency is achieved, the mainstream business press brings out the champagne and toasts this "success" as proof that the previously "moribund" (they always exaggerate the state of things) monopolistic monolith has been given a new lease on life by privatizing it and the template is set for rescuing other "ailing" SOEs.
The drawbacks are never laid out as cleary as they are in this article and the plight of those worst affected, whether laid-off workers or those whose services have been cut, never makes it into the headlines.
PhilB , April 7, 2019 at 2:53 pm
And then there is prison privatization where the burden of operation and maintaining the institution should clearly be on the public so as to be constant reminder of the burden, among others reasons. The motivations by private prison operators to reduce services and costs out of site of the pesky prying eyes of the public are manifold.
RepubAnon , April 7, 2019 at 7:54 pm
Privatization is a great way to avoid having user fees wasted by providing services, and instead put to better use funding the re-election campaigns of politicians supporting privatization. Plus, it provides much-needed consulting fees for former politicians as well as job-creating 7-figure salaries for the CEOs,
(/snark, if you couldn't tell)
On a side note, the Dilbert comic strip is written about private industry ,
Iapetus , April 7, 2019 at 3:39 pm
There was a rudimentary plan put forward last June that recommended some pretty substantial privatizations of U.S. government assets and services which include:
-Privatizing the US Post Office ( through an Initial Public Offering or outright sale to a private entity ).
-Sell off U.S. government owned electricity transmission lines ( U.S. government owns 14% of this nations power transmission lines through TVA, Southwestern Power Administration, Western Area Power Administration, and Bonneville Power Administration ).
-Spin-off the Federal Aviation Administrations air traffic control operations into a private nonprofit entity.
-Spin-off the Department of Transportations operations of the Saint Lawrence Seaways Locks and Channels into a private non-profit entity.
-End the federal conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then regulate a new system of private guarantors for their MBS securities.
Not sure if these are still being considered.
Tom Stone , April 7, 2019 at 3:54 pm
There's no way I could ask that question with a straight face.
Jack Parsons , April 7, 2019 at 6:35 pm
At heart, the problem with privatization is that marketing to a government-employed purchaser or "purchase influencer" is ridiculously cheap, due to their poor accountability strictures.
This is abetted by the Katamari Damacy process (self-accretionary tendency) of money and power.
The Rev Kev , April 7, 2019 at 7:50 pm
In Oz the electricity grids were privatized as they would be cheaper that way – or so people were told. Instead, the cost of electricity has risen sharply over the years to the point that it is effecting elections on both the State and Federal level as the price hikes are so controversial. A problem is that those companies have to pay back the loans used to buy the public electricity grids and as well, the senior management award themselves sky-high wages because they are totally worth it. These are factors that were never present when it was publicly owned. And just to put the boot in, those very same companies have been 'gold-plating' the electricity grid for their gain-
Meanwhile, whatever money the governments made selling their electricity companies has been long spent on white elephants or buying themselves re-elections by giving out goodies to voters.
Procopius , April 7, 2019 at 8:54 pm
buying themselves re-elections by giving out goodies to voters.
I don't reside in the states, so I don't see much of the detail of daily life. What are these "goodies" of which you speak? In what I am able to read on the internet, people aren't being given goodies any more. At least the old-time politicians handed out jobs, and turkeys at Christmas. The current crop do hand out jobs to their kids and immediate family, but not so much to anyone else.
Apr 04, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
Academics have different interests from practitioners. Publications, tenure and mentoring students are university responsibilities, not responsibilities for governing the world. ( It is an open question whether [neoliberal] academics sub-consciously want to govern the world .)
Harvard University has a rule – known as the Kissinger rule – that faculty can only take two years off to do other activities such as government work in Washington.
David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest is a damning recounting of how the Harvard elite failed to understand the Vietnam War because of its arrogance.)
Apr 03, 2019 | kononenkome.livejournal.com
Долгие годы я жил в ощущении правильности произошедшего в 1991 и 1993 годах. Хотя, конечно, у меня были серьезные внутренние разногласия с той толпой, которая носилась по Москве и ломала памятники. Но я это в себе как-то давил. В 1993 году мне казалось правильным, что танк стреляет по дому с вооруженными людьми. Я тоже хотел раздавить гадину, потому что гадина представлялась мне гадиной. Я был юн и еще не понимал, что демократия -- это всегда толпа, ломающая памятники. И что любой парламент -- это всегда гадина. Но это не значит, что его надо из танков расстреливать.
Но даже когда ко мне пришло понимание этих двух постулатов, я все равно продолжал смеяться над мифологией защитников гадины. О массовых расстрелах на стадионе "Красная Пресня". И, конечно, о таинственных снайперах, которые стреляли по простым прохожим. Зачем снайперам стрелять по простым прохожим? Какой в этом военный тактический смысл? Однако время всё ставит по своим местам. Снайперы, стреляющие по простым прохожим нужны для того же, для чего нужны две бочки хлора. Для провокации.
А где же еще мы видели снайперов, стрелявших по людям для провокации насилия? Правильно, мы видели их в Киеве на Майдане. И вот когда у тебя в голове вдруг складывается Майдан и 1993 год, то становится неприятно. Потому что ты начинаешь понимать природу произошедшего в 1993 году. Это был такой же Майдан. И он, как и в Киеве, победил. Раздавили гадину. Америка, матушка-спасительница, помогла. И в 1993м. И в 2014. Только почему же ты, сволочь, тогда был на одной стороне, а потом -- на другой? А потому что дурак был.
А когда картинка сложилась, сразу же много стало понятнее. И весь тот ад девяностых, который был так похож на то, что ныне происходит на Украине. Война против собственных граждан негодной, разворованной армией. Полный крах экономики, зависимость от денег МВФ, выделяемых по милостивому разрешению США. Вооруженные люди, убивающие друг друга в центрах городов.
Эта мысль может показаться диковатой, но вот, наконец, у нее случилось документальное подтверждение. В США опубликованы расшифровки телефонных разговоров президента Билла Клинтона. В том числе и с президентом Борисом Ельциным. В которых Ельцин пугает Клинтона коммунистами, жалуется, что коммунисты, если победят, могут отобрать Крым (!). И просит два с половиной миллиарда долларов на выборы. После чего МВФ выделяет России займ, а в Москве приезжают американские политические консультанты. И выборы 1996 года превращаются в Оранжевую революцию -- только вместо концертов на Майдане тур "Голосуй или проиграешь". А в результате всё равно сфальсифицированные результаты. Методы и те же, разве что последовательность разная.
И вот с высоты этого понимания хорошо бы оглядеть перспективы. В России случился Путин, она очистилась от скверны и таки приняла вернувшийся Крым. Значит ли это, что подобный исход событий возможен на Украине? Интересная могла бы получиться экстраполяция: Порошенко находит какого-то малоизвестного человека, выходца из СБУ, которого назначает преемником. Этот человек выгоняет американцев, восстанавливает экономику, мирится с Донбассом, равноудаляет старых олигархов и возвращает Крым? Сценарий, как вы понимаете, фантастический. И дело даже не в Крыме, который никуда "возвращаться" не собирается, потому что он уже вернулся домой. Дело в том, что Ельцин вовсе не хотел, чтобы Путин сделал всё то, что он сделал. Он хотел просто гарантий безопасности для себя и семьи. И то, что Путин оказался не тем, кем его представлял себе Ельцин -- это счастливая случайность. Божий промысел, если хотите. Pussy Riot просили Богородицу, чтобы она забрала Путина, а устами художника всегда говорит Бог. То есть, прося Богородицу, чтобы она забрала Путина, Pussy Riot тем самым (и сами того не понимая) говорили нам, что Богородица Путина нам дала. Это шутка, конечно. Впрочем, как мне кажется, довольно изящная.
Порошенко, разумеется, тоже ничего из того, что сделал Путин, не хочет. Он хочет или остаться у власти (что мирным путем невозможно) или же обеспечить себе безопасность. Кто именно мог бы обеспечить ему такую безопасность (то есть -- быть потенциальным украинским Путиным) отсюда пока никак не просматривается. Но вопрос ведь не в этом. Вопрос в том, будет ли к этому иметь отношение Богородица.
А также в том, что нам теперь совсем не с руки смеяться над нынешней Украиной и ее выбором. Мы с вами вышли из такого же дерьма. Природа современного русского государства такая же -- поддержанный американцами майдан. И хорошо бы никогда об этом не забывать. И соответственно относиться к тем, кто тоскует по тем временам.
А лично мне достаточно того, что Богородица не послушала Pussy Riot. И слава богу.
Mar 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
S , Mar 30, 2019 8:51:37 PM | link@b:What is the purpose of making that claim?
The purpose is very simple: to create the perception that the government of Russia still somehow controls or manipulates the US government and thus gains some undeserved improvements in relations with the U.S. Once such perception is created, people will demand that relations with Russia are worsened to return them to a "fair" level. While in reality these relations have been systematically destroyed by the Western establishment (CFR) for many years.
It's a typical inversion to hide the hybrid war of the Western establishment against Russian people. Yes, Russian people. Not Putin, not Russian Army, not Russian intelligence services, but Russian people. Russians are not to be allowed to have any kind of industries, nor should they be allowed to know their true history, nor should they possess so much land.
Russians should work in coal mines for a dollar a day, while their wives work as prostitutes in Europe. That's the maximum level of development that the Western establishment would allow Russians to have (see Ukraine for a demo version). Why? Because Russians are subhumans.
Whatever they do, it's always wrong, bad, oppressive, etc. Russians are bad because they're bad. They must be "taught a lesson", "put into their place". It would, of course, be beneficial and highly profitable for Europeans to break with Anglo-Saxons and to live in peace and harmony with Russia, but Europeans simply can not overcome their racism towards Russians. The young Europeans are just as racist, with their incessant memes about "squatting Russians in tracksuits", "drunken Russians", etc., as if there's nothing else that is notable about a country of 147 million people.
The end goal of the Western establishment is a complete military, economic, psychological, and spiritual destruction of Russia, secession of national republics (even though in some of them up to 50% of population are Russians, but this will be ignored, as it has been in former Soviet republics), then, finally, dismemberment of what remains of Russia into separate states warring with each other.
The very concept of Russian nation should disappear. Siberians will call their language "Siberian", Muscovites will call their language "Moscovian", Pomorians will call their language "Pomorian", etc. The U.S. Department of State will, of course, endorse such terminology, just like they endorse the term "Montenegrian language", even though it's the same Serbo-Croatian language with the same Cyrillic writing system.
Mar 04, 2019 | www.unz.com
MEFOBILLS , says: February 18, 2019 at 4:26 pm GMT@jeff stryker Reality much?AriusArmenian , says: February 18, 2019 at 5:14 pm GMT
Russia just passed up the U.S. in grain exports. Their economy in real terms grows year on year. Russia has more natural wealth available to exploit than USA that includes lands rich in minerals, timber, water, etc.
With regards to traitorous fifth column atlantacists and oligarchy, Russia's shock therapy (induced by the Harvard Boys) in the 90's helped Russian's figure out who the real enemy is. Putin has marginalized most of these ((Oligarchs)), and they longer are allowed to influence politics. Many have also been stripped of their ill gotten gains, for example the Rothschild gambit to grab Yukos and to own Russia was thwarted. Dollar debts were paid off, etc.
Russia could go further in their symphony of church and state, and copy Justinian (Byzyantine empire) and prevent our (((friends))) from teaching in schools,bein control of money, or in government.
With regards to China, they would be not be anywhere near where they are today if the West had not actively transferred their patrimony in the form of transplanted industry and knowledge.
China is only temporarily dependent on export of goods via their Eastern seaboard, but as soon as belt and road opens up, she will pivot further toward Eurasia. If the U.S. factories withdrew from China tomorrow, China already has our "knowledge" and will find markets in Eurasia and raw materials in Africa, etc.
People need to stop whistling past the graveyard.
The Atlantics strategy has run its course, internal development of U.S. and linking up with belt and road would be in America's best future interests. But, to do that requires first acknowledging that money's true nature is law, and not private bank credit. Further, the U.S. is being used as whore of Babylon, where her money is "Federal Reserve Notes" and are international in character. The U.S is not sovereign. Deep state globalism does not recognize national boundaries, or sovereignty.That US elites that are split on who to go after first compromised by going after both Russia and China at the same time is a definition of insanity. The US doesn't have a chance in hell of subduing or defeating the Russia/China alliance. The US is already checkmated. The more it goes after some big win the worse will be its defeat.Cratylus , says: February 18, 2019 at 5:56 pm GMT
So the question (for me) is not which side will win, the question is the scenario of the decline of the US Empire. Someone here mentioned the EU turning East. At some point the EU will decide that staying a US vassal is suicide and it will turn East. When that happens then the virus of US insanity will turn inwards into itself.
The US has recently focused on South America by installing several fascist regimes and is now trying to get Venezuela. But the US backed regimes are laying the groundwork for the next wave of revolution soon to come. Wherever I look the US is its own worst enemy. The big question is how much suffering before it ends.Anon  Disclaimer , says: February 18, 2019 at 6:24 pm GMT
... ... ...
Huawei now sells more cell phones worldwide than Apple ( https://gearburn.com/2018/08/huawei-smartphone-sales-2018/ ). And Huawei does this even though it is effectively excluded from the US market (You cannot find it in stores) whereas Apple has unfettered access to the enormous Chinese market. You find Huawei everywhere -- from Italy to Tanzania. How would Apple fare if China stopped purchases of its products? Not so well I am afraid.Usa is at war against everyone , from China to Latinamerica , from Europe to India , from the islamic world to Africa . Usa is even at war against its own citizens , at least against its best citizens .wayfarer , says: February 18, 2019 at 6:55 pm GMTChina's "Petro-Yuan": The End of the U.S. Dollar Hegemony?WorkingClass , says: February 18, 2019 at 7:09 pm GMTWhen we speak of the culture war or the war on drugs or the war between the sexes or a trade war we are misusing the word war.AnonFromTN , says: February 18, 2019 at 9:04 pm GMT
War with China means exactly shooting and bombing and killing Chinese and American people. Expanding the meaning of the word only makes it meaningless.
We are NOT already at war with China.@joe webb Russia and China are certainly not natural allies. However, deranged international banditry of the US (called foreign policy in the DC bubble) literally forced them to ally against a common threat: dying demented Empire.Anonymous  Disclaimer , says: February 18, 2019 at 9:34 pm GMT
As you call Chinese "Chinks", I suggest you stop using everything made in China, including your clothes, footwear, tools, the light bulbs in your house, etc. Then, using your likely made in China computer and certainly made in China mouse, come back and tell us how great your life has become. Or you can stick to your principles of not using China-made stuff, write a message on a piece of paper (warning: make sure that neither the paper nor the pen is made in China), put it into a bottle, and throw it in the ocean. Be patient, and in a few centuries you might get an answer.@joe webb Russia is currently trying to get China to ally against the West:peter mcloughlin , says: February 19, 2019 at 1:55 pm GMT
" Russia to China: Together we can rule the world "
In the halls of the Kremlin these days, it's all about China -- and whether or not Moscow can convince Beijing to form an alliance against the West.
Russia's obsession with a potential alliance with China was already obvious at the Valdai Discussion Club, an annual gathering of Russia's biggest foreign policy minds, in 2017.
At their next meeting, late last year, the idea seemed to move from the speculative to something Russia wants to realize. And soon
Seen from Moscow, there is no resistance left to a new alliance led by China. And now that Washington has imposed tariffs on Chinese exports, Russia hopes China will finally understand that its problem is Washington, not Moscow.
In the past, the possibility of an alliance between the two countries had been hampered by China's reluctance to jeopardize its relations with the U.S. But now that it has already become a target, perhaps it will grow bolder. Every speaker at Valdai tried to push China in that direction.Where a war begins -- or ends -- can be hard to define. Michael Klare is right, 'War' and 'peace' are not 'polar opposites'. We often look at wars in chronological abstraction: the First World War started on the 28th July 1914. Or did it only become a global war one week later when Great Britain declared war on Germany? The causes can be of long duration. The decline of the Ottoman Empire, for which the other Great Powers were positioning themselves to benefit, might have begun as far back as 1683 when the Turks were defeated at the Battle of Vienna. It ultimately led to the events of 1914.
Great power rivalry has always led to wars; in the last hundred years world wars. Graham Allison wrote that the US can 'avoid catastrophic war with China while protecting and advancing American national interests' if it follows the lessons of the Cold War. History shows that wars are caused by the clash of interests, that's always at some else's expense. When core interests collide there is no alternative to war -- however destructive.
Feb 27, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
wikipedia , Feb 18, 2019 3:56:45 PM | link
Forward, Comrades (Russian: Вперед, товарищи; Chinese: 前进，达瓦里希; pinyin: Qiánjìn, dáwǎlǐxī; literally: "Advance, tovarish") is a 2013 Chinese animated short film by Wang Liyin of the Beijing Film Academy. The film focuses on the fall of the Soviet Union as its main theme, told from the perspective of a young girl. As an original net animation with a strong political backdrop, the film has triggered strong reactions from various audiences.
Feb 22, 2019 | www.unz.com
MEFOBILLS , says: February 21, 2019 at 9:28 pm GMT@TKK https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10769041/The-US-is-an-oligarchy-study-concludes.html
The U.S. is an Oligarchy.
Western Oligarchs raped Russia in the 90's. OK, most of them were Jews – but still Western. The (((harvard))) boys foisted dollar debts on Russia, and then converted Russia to an extraction economy. Putin cleverly taxed the Oligarchs and prevented them from further predations.
No country can survive if it has an internal hostile elite. Nobody here can claim that Russia's government is hostile to its people. A fair claim can be made that the "international" elite that infest America IS HOSTILE. Why would you immigrate a replacement population if not hostile? Why would you export your industry if not hostile?
You don't dig out and convert your economy to first world standards overnight.
So, the trend lines are clear. The West and U.S. is a finance oligarchy in decline, while Russia is on a ascendant path. These lines will cross over at some point in near future. One could even squint and say that Russia is no longer an Oligarchy of special interests, and is moving into Byzantium mode e.g. symphony of Church and State. Many Russian thinkers are projecting another 40 years or so to consolidate the gains.
Feb 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
donkeytale , Feb 17, 2019 9:10:39 PM | linkvk, james, pft, et al
One would have to be incredibly naive on the order of say a 3 year old or maybe Forrest Gump to believe Putin isn't a very wealthy man who will never want for anything as long as he has billionaire cronies indebted to him politically in one way or the other.
Of course, some people must cling to their illusions, er I mean their idealism, of others no matter what. Dog knows why.
Thomas Piketty :More generally, the Soviet disaster led to the abandon of any ambition of redistribution. Since 2001, income tax is 13%, whether your income be 1,000 roubles or 100 billion roubles. Even Reagan and Trump have not gone as far in the destruction of progressive taxation. There is no tax on inheritance in Russia, nor in the People's Republic of China. If you want to pass on your fortune in peace in Asia, it is better to die in the ex-Communist countries and definitely not in the capitalist countries such as Taiwan, South Korea or Japan where the tax rate on inheritance on the highest estates has just risen from 50% to 55%.
But while China has succeeded in conserving a degree of control on capital outflows and private accumulation, the characteristic of Putin's Russia is an unbounded drift into kleptocracy. Between 1993 and 2018, Russia had massive trade surpluses: approximately 10% of GDP per annum on average for 25 years, or a total in the rage of 250% of GDP (two and a half years of national production). In principle that should have enabled the accumulation of the equivalent in financial reserves. This is almost the size of the sovereign public fund accumulated by Norway under the watchful gaze of the voters. The official Russian reserves are ten times lower – barely 25% of GDP.
Where has the money gone? According to our estimates, the offshore assets alone held by wealthy Russians exceed one year of GDP, or the equivalent of the entirety of the official financial assets held by Russian households. In other words, the natural wealth of the country, (which, let it be said in passing, would have done better to remain in the ground to limit global warming) has been massively exported abroad to sustain opaque structures enabling a minority to hold huge Russian and international financial assets. These rich Russians live between London, Monaco and Moscow: some have never left Russia and control their country via offshore entities. Numerous intermediaries and Western firms have also recouped large crumbs on the way and continue to do so today in sport and the media (sometimes this is referred to as philanthropy). The extent of the misappropriation of funds has no equal in history.
donkeytale , Feb 17, 2019 10:59:25 PM | link
Well, there can be no doubt Amerikkkans, Euros, Asians, Middle Easterners, grifters, entrepreneurs, lumpen proles and many others of all persuasions participated in the sacking of Russia's national wealth since the fall of the USSR. Probably even a few Canadiens took part. Lol.
Capitalust feeding frenzies of this magnitude are ugly sights to behold, like the Washington DC pig trough on a daily basis.
Russia's is truly a global phenomenon to be sure.
Or maybe a "globalist" phenomenon is a better way to putin words.
And of course, the chart at the top of Piketty's post is most interesting too....it shows the US equally as unequal as Russia. I'm not letting the US off the hook here in any way shape or form. But this thread is about Russia and worse exposits a demented sort of idealism by many posters about the country and its Dear Leader that is unwarranted, IMHO. Not you of course.
The heinous accumulation of Russian wealth is intertwined...leaving Russia and shunted through tax havens, laundered, anonymised and ending up invested in the West....not back home in Mother Russia....where it could lead to more economic development and opportunities for the non-oligarchs....instead of more growth in the US and West, where agin most ends up in the pockets of our own oligarchs, one Donald Trump among them.
This is a Russian Tragedy.
Even more alarming is Bugajski's argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries . "Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past."
Jan 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.comLike many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia's might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation. But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an "imperial construct."
It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.
So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?
The author bio on the Hill's piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who's who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.
To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a "Calexit," and many more in Mexico of a reconquista .)
green dragon , 2 hours ago link
CatInTheHat , 3 hours ago link
The breakup of the USSR was planned also. It was followed by the formation of oligarchs, IMF loans, and asset stripping. The economic advice and help Russia received from the west almost accomplished the goal of breaking up Russia.
Russia is well aware that war with NATO cannot be avoided in the long run. One only has to talk to Russians to see that they understand they are in a Cold war that they have to survive. From their view they did not seek this confrontation. They truly thought they would be embraced by the West after the fall and a new relationship benefiting both sides could have emerged. So now Russia has to turn to China and prepare for a future war within a decade with NATO!
August , 1 hour ago link
Disgusting projection of US imperialism. The elite never forgave Putin for throwing US Rothschild elites out of Russia so they could no longer plunder Russias extensive wealth under Yeltsin..
Let's see what happens when neocunts start that hot war, how Americans then feel about Russia
We truly have dumbfucks in this country who love the thought of other as enemy other than THEMSELVES. They never ONCE consider that in demonizing another countries leader, they are demonizing a whole nation of peoples too. I wonder how Americans would feel if constant demonizing and threats coming their way, with also say regime change in Mexico to provoke them?
US neocons are psychopaths that care nothing for Americans. What they do to others in regime change they will do to us. Oh, wait. They already have #9/11
Fluff The Cat , 4 hours ago link
Poles actively pushing for the dismembering of Russia have been around for a long time.
CatInTheHat , 3 hours ago link
Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title "Managing Russia's dissolution," author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain "Moscow's imperial ambitions" but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.
If that is the intended goal then wouldn't it be accurate to state that America, or at least its government, has imperial ambitions?
The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable...
Russia already tried "democracy" and the end result spelled disaster for their country. Minorities were put on a pedestal while their economy was in shambles, all the while the oligarchs, who were mostly Jewish, made a fortune plundering their natural resources. Sound familiar?
Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past."
The hypocrisy in this statement is breathless. Is America going to return Alaska to Russia? Allow Hawaii to once again be an autonomous entity? Cease the illegal occupation of countries throughout the Middle East? Remove their Neo-Nazi stooges from Ukraine?
It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.
The idea seems to be to stoke regional tensions in order to provoke Russia and start a conflict where the surrounding countries are put on the front lines while being provided with logistics from the outside, meaning the US. Washington could then play up the plausible deniability angle, even while technology from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and other Western contractors is primarily being used against the Russians.
Russia is not a direct threat to Western nations, only to their (((governments))), because during any attempted implementation of a JWO (as in the EU for example), Russia will serve as a reminder to all Western peoples - especially white people - as to what their nations once were: independent, sovereign and self-determined. Russia prevented ISISrael from taking over Syria, thwarted their Oded Yinon plan and threw out their oligarchs, so World Judaism is using America as their bludgeon against the Russian Federation while preventing us from forming an alliance.
back to basics , 5 hours ago link
Browder a ******* fraud who owes Russia hundreds of millions in back taxes.
And along with **** Cardin, DEMOCRAT, helped to fraudulently create the Magnistky Act
6 hours ago Bug-aj-ski - neocon shrill writing for and paid by the MIC it looks like from the sponsors of this think tank
74 years after Nazi Germany miscalculated Russian resolve some idiot dreams of carving Russia up like it's a Thanksgiving turkey and some people actually take him seriously. Yeah, good luck with that.
let;s have a look see at their website
https://www.cepa.org/international-advisory-council - more neocons
oh yah Brzezinski - deceased tho - oops -
Albright - not dead yet
https://www.cepa.org/experts - and more "expert" neocons
"Cultivating new sources of competitive advantage for U.S. strategy."
no list of sponsors tho I can see from the website - real MIC platform it sounds like from the article
6 hours ago Yep, it's a Zbigniew Brzezinski memorial. The money seems to come mostly from the MIC and the usual Cold War think tanks, like the Harry and Lynde Bradley Foundation. 5 hours ago These necons need to remember that chess is the national passtime of Russians, while making mudpies is the what they do in the West. These "think-tanks" are very childish. 3 hours ago 9 hours ago here's where some of it started/got turbocharged:
https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n02/seymour-m-hersh/the-vice-presidents-men LA_Goldbug 10 hours ago The only way I can understand this twat is to think that he is just earning his shekels. He knows what the Party Line is in DC requires and is writing accordingly. I just checked a bit of his BS and this one is definitely written for the uninformed or deeply indoctrinated Western sheep.
"Taking Stock of Ukraine's Achievements Amidst Russia's Aggression
Five years ago, the Ukrainian people staged a peaceful "revolution of dignity" against a corrupt regime sponsored by the Kremlin. They stood firm even under gunfire and it was the discredited President Viktor Yanukovych who eventually retreated and took refuge in Russia. With Moscow engaging in renewed attacks against Ukraine in the Sea of Azov it is important to take stock of Ukraine's achievements since those fateful days in Kyiv's Independence Square."
You need to be brain dead to think it was peaceful !!!!
Jan 20, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne , January 17, 2019 at 03:19 PMhttp://glineq.blogspot.com/2019/01/russias-circular-economic-history.html
January 17, 2019
Russia's circular economic history?
Today I participated in a nice web-based program started by the Central Bank of Russia (it will be posted soon). An economist is being interviewed by another, and then the one who has been interviewed becomes in his/her turn the interviewer of yet a third one. My friend Shlomo Weber, the head of the New School of Economics interviewed me, and then I interviewed Professor Natalya Zubarevich, from the Lomonosov Moscow State University and a noted scholar of Russian regional economics.
Just a couple of days ago Natalia gave a very well-received talk at the Gaidar Forum in Moscow on (what one might call) "unhealthy convergence" of Russian regions. In fact, Natalia shows that most recently regional per capita GDPs have started a mild convergence, but that this is due first to low growth rate of most of them and the economy as a whole, and to the redistribution mechanism (mostly of the oil rent) between the regions. A healthy convergence, Natalia says, would be the one where economic activity, and especially small and medium size private businesses, were much more equally distributed across some ninety subjects of the Russian Federation. She also had very interesting insights into the excessive "verticalization" of economic power and decision-making in Russia, and the economic growth of Moscow (much faster than of any other part of Russia) driven by centralization of that power, and concentration of large state-owned or state-influenced enterprises as well as bureaucracy in Moscow.
What most attracted my attention during Natalia's presentation at the Gaidar Forum was her description of the current period of low growth rates in Russia as zastoi, or stagnation. Now, zastoi has a very special political meaning in Russian because it was a disparaging term used in the Gorbachev era, and by Gorbachev himself, to define the Brezhnevite period of declining growth rates, lack of development perspectives, unchanging bureaucracy, and general demoralization and malaise.
But I asked Natalia the following question. Looking over the past 150 years of Russian history (and I think it is hard to go further back), were not really the best periods for ordinary people exactly the periods of zastoi: incomes rose by little for sure, but the state repression was weak, there were no wars, and probably if you look at violent deaths per capita per year, the lowest number of people died precisely during the periods of zastoi. So perhaps that zastoi is not so bad.
Natalia said, "I know I lived through the Brezhnevite period. Many people were demoralized; but I used it to study. I never read so many books and learned so much as then -- you could do whatever you wanted because your actual job really did not matter much." (Even art, as I saw in the Tretyakovska Gallery, even if some of these paintings were never exhibited in the official museums, seems to have done well during the Brezhnevite zastoi. And as the recent film, which I have not seen, but read the reviews, Leto, appears to indirectly argue as well.)
The best growth periods, as Natalia said, and as is generally accepted by economic historians were the 1950s up to about 1963-65, and then the period of the two first Putin's terms. In both cases, the growth spurs came as a ratchet effect to the previous set of disasters: in the Khrushchev period, to the apocalypse of the Second World War, in the Putin period, as a reaction to the Great Depression under Yeltsin during the early transition.
So this then made us think a bit back into the past (say, going back to 1905) and put forward the following hypothesis: that Russian longer-term economic growth is cyclical. The cycle has three components. First a period of utter turbulence, disorder, war, and huge loss of income (and in many cases of life as well), followed by a decade or so of efflorescence, recovery and growth, and finally by the period of "calcification" of whatever (or whoever) that worked in that second period -- thus producing the zastoi or stagnation.
I do not know if this is something specific to the Russian economic history. It made me think of Naipaul's observation on successful and unsuccessful countries. The history of the former consists of a number of challenges and setbacks indeed, but certain things are solved forever, and then new challenges appear. Take the United States: the Indian challenge and then the independence from Britain were not easy to overcome/acquire, but eventually, they were and they never came back; then the Civil War and the Emancipation; then the Great Society etc. But unsuccessful countries, according to Naipaul (and he had, I think, Argentina in mind) always stay within the circular history. The same or similar events keep on repeating themselves forever without any upward trend -- and no single challenge is forever overcome. In each following cycle everything simply repeats itself.
The challenges for Russia today is, I think, to break this cycle.
-- Branko Milanovic
Jan 11, 2019 | www.unz.com
TheJester , says: Next New Comment January 11, 2019 at 11:51 am GMTLet me be optimistic that the path to the eventual economic, national, and cultural collapse of the United States will follow the path of the Soviet Union: quick collapse followed by a slow process of national, cultural, and religious regeneration.Svigor , says: Next New Comment January 11, 2019 at 10:26 pm GMT
In this model, Trump is playing out the script written for "Yeltsin" a reckless buffoon exposing the hypocrisy and inherent weakness of Soviet ideology, economics, and culture.
Trump has done us a favor. Without Yeltsin, the Soviet Union might have lumbered for a few more decades as a decadent, geriatric patient in a hospice awaiting inevitable death. With Yeltsin's help, the end came quickly. Taking advantage of the anarchy, a conspiratorial elite consisting of a cabal of billionaires raped the Soviet Union of its wealth while there was still something left to steal and absconded to safe havens in London, New York, and Israel. This made the end of the Soviet system inevitable.
Are we already in the phase of oligarchical plunder? Yes, it's obvious.
Russia achieved its "MRGA" with Putin, backed by a core of Russian nationalists and patriots who rejected the multicultural diversity and globalism inherent in Marxist dogma. Russia is returning to its pre-1917 culture and traditions. Let's hope we can also achieve our "MAGA" by rediscovering the confident Anglosphere that created the post-WWII world.
Bye-bye feminism, multicultural diversity, and the decadent "globohomo" ideology that came to define the "Empire".@TheJester I'll remain agnostic as to whether the US is facing financial collapse, but point out that USSR's collapse doesn't imply US has to have one (not that you intended the reference that way).
USSR had a command economy, US doesn't. That said, I do think our military-industrial complex is long overdue for a collapse, having long since lost its only real justification, the Soviet threat.
Trimming the huge amount of Defense and entitlement fat we're carrying would help a lot.
Jan 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
... ... ...
In 2007 Naomi Klein got quite a bit of attention and mostly favorable comment for her book, Shock Doctrine. It promulgated that global elites used periods of crisis around the world to force damaging neoliberal policies derived from the Chicago School and Washington Consensus upon unhappy populations that suffered greatly as a result. This was "shock therapy" that was more like destructive electroshock than any sort of therapy . There is a lot of truth to this argument, and it highlighted underlying ideological arguments and outcomes.
The argument largely seems to hold for the original poster boy example in Chile with the Pinochet coup against the socialist Allende regime. A military coup replaced a democratically government. While Chile was experiencing a serious inflation, it was not in a full-blown economic collapse. The coup was supported by US leaders Nixon and Kissinger, who saw themselves preventing the emergence of pro-Soviet regime resembling Castro's Cuba. Thousands were killed, and a sweeping set of laisssez faire policies were imposed with the active participation of "Chicago Boys" associated with Milton Friedman. In fact, aside from bringing down inflation these reforms did not initially improve economic performance, even as foreign capital flowed in, especially into the copper industry, although the core of that industry remained nationalized. After several years the Chicago Boys were sent away and more moderate policies, including a reimposition of controls on foreign capital flows, the economy did grow quite rapidly. But this left a deeply unequal income distribution in place, which would largely remain the case even after Pinochet was removed from power and parliamentary democracy returned.
This scenario was argued to happen in many other nations, especially those in the former Soviet bloc as the Soviet Union disintegrated and its successor states and the former members of the Soviet bloc in the CMEA and Warsaw Pact also moved to some sort of market capitalism imposed from outside with policies funded by the IMF and following the Washington Consensus.
Although he has since expressed regret for this role in this, a key player linking what was done in several Latin American nations and what went down after 1989 in Eastern and Central Europe was Jeffrey Sachs .
Klein's discussion especially of what went down in Russia also looks pretty sound by and large, without dragging through the details, although in these cases the political shift was from dictatorships run by Communist parties dominated out of Moscow to at least somewhat more democratic governments, although not in all of the former Soviet republics such as in Central Asia and with many of these later backsliding towards more authoritarian governments later.
In Russia and in many others large numbers of people were thrown into poverty from which they have not recovered. Klein has also extended this argument to other nations, including South Africa after the end of apartheid.
Jun 10, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press
A conversation in the radio studio "Komsomolskaya Pravda" with the Hero of the Soviet Union, the first and the last vice-president of Russia, Alexander Rutskoi and the former head of the President's Security Service (by definition, the closest person to Yeltsin's body), Alexander Korzhakov.
Twenty-two years ago, Moscow shuddered from the tank volleys, and people all over the country clung to TV screens, on which Western TV stations broadcasted how Yeltsin's loyal troops fire at the rebel troops of the Supreme Soviet (Parlament) of Russia. The opposition of the Armed Forces and the President Yeltsin with his team, on the one hand, and Rutskoi and Khasbulatov with the deputies, on the other, ended in great blood. Incongruous with the one that spilled two years earlier, when the Emergency Committee tried to keep the USSR.
This was the beginning of our conversation in the radio studio "Komsomolskaya Pravda" with the Hero of the Soviet Union, the first and the last vice-president of Russia, Alexander Vladimirovich Rutskoi and the former head of the President's Security Service (by definition, the closest person to Yeltsin's body), Alexander Vasilyevich Korzhakov.
... ... ...
– Yeltsin's main argument against the Supreme Council was that it prevented him from "carrying out reforms." What kind of reforms? – The privatization. I was appointed to lead the Interdepartmental Commission on Combating Corruption, and I had information about how it was conducted. Port Nakhodka went in ownership for 100 thousand dollars, Achinsk alumina plant for 180 thousand, Uralmash, giant, the pride of our country, went to Bendukidze's property for 500 thousand dollars, not for money but for vouchers. What is this nonsense? After all, we proposed alternative privatization. First, the service sector. I still, being a member of the Central Committee (of the Communist Party – author's note) , I was expelled from the party for factionalism, suggested: why should the state have hairdressers, tailors, canteens, cafes, restaurants? Let's privatize it, but on a competitive basis. A person wins a contest, gets this object into management and pays real estate, the cost of this object to the mortgage. The money goes to the social development fund of the country, which is subordinated to a collegial body, not to the executive branch, to the Supreme Council. And then the issues of building schools, hospitals, polyclinics, roads, housing and everything else would be resolved.
The port of Nakhodka was privatized for 100 thousand dollars, the Achinsk alumina plant for 180 thousand, Uralmash, the giant, the pride of our country, went into the ownership of Bendukidze for 500 thousand dollars. And it was not money, but vouchers.
This was our most important contradiction with Yeltsin and his team. And imagine how much money would go into this social fund. And today, the problems in the social sphere would be solved tenfold at the expense of that has touched.
– If I understand it, it was then when you collected "11 suitcases of compromising evidence" against Yeltsin's team? Which also played a role in the confrontation.
– I figuratively said that those are 11 suitcases. You know, such fireproof large metal cabinets. And there were documents in them. Not compromising evidence, but documents, including all of these scams with privatization . About 30 staff members of the CIA worked under the guise of consultants with reformers in the government. And much more. And these were imaginary auctions, state bonds, what was the way they all were thought out? This process was led by staff members of the CIA, who worked in the government of the Russian Federation.
I repeatedly asked Yeltsin: is it possible the work of foreign intelligence officers in the administration of the US President? He: Alexander Ivanovich, are you accidentally drunk? – No. I did not drink. I'm just asking you this question. – He: Of course not. – Why do we have 30 employees (of CIA)? And admitted them to top secret information? Where do we go? They are conducting these boys, who do not understand what they are doing, they get up these ugliness. And what will be the results?
30 staff members of the CIA worked in the government. They led the imaginary auctions, government bonds, were admitted to the top secret information.
– Alexander Vasilievich, I was 31 years old and I was sitting at that time in the company of Englishmen, who, going crazy, asked me: "Sasha, is this a movie?" And I answered them that yes, only documentary and live". And they, even more crazy, bawled: "They must not shoot the Parliament by tanks "
... ... ...They figured out Yeltsin but conductors directed the country
– Yeltsin's only correct decision for all his being in office was to resign and make his successor a worthy man who pulled the country out of this humiliating situation. Incidentally, I have repeatedly told Yeltsin who his security service is, I asked – remove these guys: both Barsukov and Korzhakov, they will then make you a gift that you will never wash off. And in 1996, Yeltsin had the intelligence to get rid of these persons.
– You do not like them.
– You know, I always went to Boris Nikolaevich and, before making any public statements, talked with him. And what did Korzhakov do? He resorted to Yeltsin and sang a song to him, that I saw a chair under him. If you want I tell an interesting episode. There were a strike at the automobile plant "ZIL". Boris Nikolayevich, as always, on vacation. It is clear what a vocation it was. I got a call with the command from the President to go to ZIL and to work out. I walk along the corridor, towards goes Viktor Palych Barannikov, the Minister of Security. "Where are you going?" – "To ZIL, there's a strike. I was given a commission from Boris Nikolayevich." – "Can I go with you?" – "Of course?". We had come, listened to the workers. I convinced them that we must go back to the machines, stop the strike and so on. And I allowed myself such a statement: "Boris Nikolayevich will come, I will ask him to give me an opportunity to attach my guard to Nechayev (he was an economy minister), I will give him your salary, three thousand rubles. And I'll see how this figure and rascal will live." Farther. We sit at the one birthday party. Boris Nikolaevich asks me a question. I look, there is a dictophone at his hands. He said me: Have you got three thousand rubles with you? I say that I got more. And my brains turn on here. I see the recorder. Yeltsin is on public, and this is the first circle, ministers, say, basically of the power structure. He turns on the dictaphone. And there goes this record, but in another form – that Yeltsin will come, and I'll give him three thousand, I'll attach my guard to him and so on.Read also: Hommage a Domenico Losurdo
– And what happened to the words about Nechaev?
They have deleted that part, and it turned out that I would do this to Yeltsin. Silent scene in the hall. And then Barannikov takes out a dictophone from his pocket. And turns on a full record, as it was. So, Yeltsin takes his recorder and launches in Korzhakov. Korzhakov bent down and the tape recorder flew to the wall, smashed to smithereens.
Yeltsin takes the recorder and launches in Korzhakov. Korzhakov bent down and the tape recorder flew to the wall, smashed to smithereens
– Listen, let's be honest. You were with Yeltsin in 1991 on one side of the barricades. You saw him, and thats why in the 1993 did not believe that he would go for blood, for assault. Was it so?
– Well, frankly, I hoped so. In 1991, there was a situation When some information arrived that the assault was about to begin, Yeltsin immediately got into the car and was going to leave for the US embassy. It was later learned that Gorbachev had created the State Emergency Committee back in March of 1991, it was his initiative. He flew to Foros when a cope started in August to absolve himself of responsibility.
It was later learned that Gorbachev had created the State Emergency Committee in March 1991, this was his initiative. He went to Foros to absolve himself of responsibility.
Once again, when Yeltsin was going to hide in the US embassy in 1991, I stopped him, I said: Boris Nikolayevich, you can not do this, you are the head of Russia, how are you going to escape, let me fly to Foros. So Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov and I flew to Foros to take Gorbachev out of there and bring him back to his place.
But in 1993, everything was planned differently. Here is the Maydan in Kiev – this is one in one repetition, a little under another sauce, really. But the conductors were from the same address. All these orders came from Washington. Because the tele-shooting was done, the operators were at such profitable points to completely shoot this massacre. They were seated in advance. And when the "Alpha" (Special Force unit) refuses to storm the building, they kill their fighter Sergeev, sniper kills him in the back, to provoke "Alpha".
The Maidan in Kiev is one in one repetition of events in Moscow in 1993. But the conductors were from one place – from Washington. The operators were placed in advance so as to completely shoot this massacre. And when "Alpha" refuses to storm the building, the sniper kills their fighter Sergeev to provoke "Alpha".
Neither "Alpha" nor "Vympel" went to the assault.
– But after all "Alpha" and "Vympel" did not go to storm the Kremlin too. Remember, you ordered the pilots to bomb the Kremlin?
– I did not make such an order.
– You went on the air. I heard it with my ears.
– It was a psychological intimidation for the Kremlin – That is the first. And the second, what was the way to stop them? I think, at least they will come to their senses, stop doing it.
– And what did happen with those closets in which there was compromising material?
– The situation was such that I was put to Lefortovo (detention unit for state security – author's note) , and the next day, these non-combustible metal cabinets were cracked and under the direction of Korzhakov these folders were extracted. Where did they go, these folders, who gave the order to Korzhakov to withdraw everything related to the work of the interdepartmental commission? No answer.
– There is a feeling that personal scores are not all finished between you
– Korzhakov would better tell how at Vnukovo airport he met the snipers, who flew not from our country, how they went to Sofrino and got sniper rifles, how they planted these snipers on the roof and started killing policemen and representatives of the armed forces, gawkers and others. For what? – To provoke this assault.
Korzhakov would better tell how at Vnukovo airport he met the snipers, who flew not from our country, how they went to Sofrino and got sniper rifles, how they planted these snipers on the roof and started killing policemen and representatives of the armed forces, gawkers and others. For what? – To provoke this assault.
I have nothing to hide. I have published the minutes of my interrogations. And the book "Bloody Autumn" I wrote, deliberately, without even a hint on any emotions. I took the date, the documents of the Supreme Council, which were released on that date, the decisions of the Kremlin on the same date, and made a diary of events. In the end wrote: and now everyone draw conclusions themselves, who is to blame that the blood of compatriots was spilled, that our country was simply smeared, that the Soviet Union was destroyed, and people with far from a decent biography were given the national property of the country. That's what I and many of my comrades could not agree with, but it happened.
– It happened. And God grant us that we will never do it again.
Published at http://antiterror.one/en/node/38
Jan 08, 2019 | www.defenddemocracy.press
A conversation in the radio studio "Komsomolskaya Pravda" with the Hero of the Soviet Union, the first and the last vice-president of Russia, Alexander Rutskoi and the former head of the President's Security Service (by definition, the closest person to Yeltsin's body), Alexander Korzhakov.
Twenty-two years ago, Moscow shuddered from the tank volleys, and people all over the country clung to TV screens, on which Western TV stations broadcasted how Yeltsin's loyal troops fire at the rebel troops of the Supreme Soviet (Parlament) of Russia. The opposition of the Armed Forces and the President Yeltsin with his team, on the one hand, and Rutskoi and Khasbulatov with the deputies, on the other, ended in great blood. Incongruous with the one that spilled two years earlier, when the Emergency Committee tried to keep the USSR. This was the beginning of our conversation in the radio studio "Komsomolskaya Pravda" with the Hero of the Soviet Union, the first and the last vice-president of Russia, Alexander Vladimirovich Rutskoi and the former head of the President's Security Service (by definition, the closest person to Yeltsin's body), Alexander Vasilyevich Korzhakov.
Oct 04, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press
Declassified Clinton-Yeltsin Telcons Show U.S. Support No Matter What Embassy Cables and Oral Histories Detail Complex Conflict and U.S. Motivations Today's Russian Opposition Sees Crucial Turning Point Towards Today's Autocracy ... ... ...
Cable from White House Washington DC to American Embassy Moscow. Memorandum of Conversation: Memcon with President Boris Yeltsin of Russia, July 10, 1993, Tokyo 1993-07-16 Source: U.S. Department of State declassification M-2006-01499
This is a copy of a cable containing the memcon between Yeltsin and Clinton with a cover note from Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Strobe Talbott instructing him to review the memcon before his forthcoming meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov. In the handwritten notes he also records his impressions from the meeting. He is "struck by [ ] B[ill] C[linton]'s command of the issues [ ] his dominance in [meeting] (hard to do with Yeltsin), and "no rhetoric or posturing on either side."
This memcon is important because it shows the impressive variety of issues on which Clinton and Yeltsin had a productive exchange and agreed to cooperate: replacing COCOM with a new regime; a deal on highly enriched uranium (HEU) that Russia was going to remove from the nuclear warheads being withdrawn from Kazakhstan; Ukraine and Belarus and partly return to Ukraine as fuel for nuclear power stations and partly sell to the United States in the framework of the Megatons for Megawatts program; working with Ukraine to return the nuclear weapons to Russia; progress on CTBT; non-proliferation, and specifically limiting Russia's sales of reactors, missiles, and submarines to Iran and India; getting North Korea to the negotiating table; peacekeeping in Georgia and Nagorny Karabakh; and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Baltics.
On the latter, Yeltsin made an official request that the U.S. side conduct an investigation of the laws in Estonia to determine if they discriminate against ethnic Russians (Christopher in his cover note recommends giving Yeltsin a proper legal response even if it is negative). The breadth of issues helps one understand that Yeltsin truly was an indispensable partner for Clinton across the range of U.S. priorities in the former Soviet Union and even globally. Only once is there a signal that Yeltsin is in a complicated place domestically. Mentioning that the Supreme Soviet has just passed a bill declaring Sevastopol a Russian city, Yeltsin says, characteristically, "Thank God no one takes the Supreme Soviet seriously!"
Memorandum of Telephone Conversation: Telcon with President Boris Yeltsin of Russian Federation. 1993-09-21 Source: U.S. Department of State declassification M-2006-01499
Clinton calls Yeltsin immediately after the Russian president makes a speech announcing his Presidential Decree 1400-dissolving the Parliament and setting the date for early elections to a new legislature and a referendum for the draft Constitution. Clinton expresses his full support for Yeltsin but also a concern about the fate of reform and democratic process in Russia. In response, Yeltsin paints a black-and-white picture of the political struggle saying that the Supreme Soviet "has totally gone out of control. It no longer supports the reform process. They have become communist." He assures his U.S. partner that "there will be no bloodshed," and that "all the democratic forces are supporting me." Clinton underscores the importance of holding the elections "in a fully democratic manner," and providing the opposition full access to free press without hindrance. Yeltsin promises to stick to democratic principles and reiterates his commitment to peaceful solutions. Clinton mentions that a $2.5 billion assistance package is being considered by Congress at the moment and the preservation of democratic order would be important for its passing. Yeltsin promises that now the "reforms will go much faster" and thanks the U.S. president for his continuous support. Document 04 Ambassador Thomas Pickering Oral History Excerpt 2007-02-19 Source: Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection, Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, Arlington, Virginia, www.adst.org , https://adst.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Pickering-Thomas-Reeve.pdf , pp. 357-362 ( 15th of December, the Ides of December 2006) and pp. 386-391 ( 19th of February 2007) . This extremely useful oral history collection includes interviews with more than 2,000 former U.S. diplomats. The interviews with Tom Pickering took place over an extended period from 2003 to 2007 after his retirement from the Foreign Service, and produced a transcript totaling 722 pages ranging from his ancestry to postings as far afield as Zanzibar and San Salvador. Pickering served as U.S. ambassador to Moscow from 1993 to 1996, among the most momentous years in Russia's post-Soviet history, and a large section of the oral history covers his time in Russia. The particular pages related to the October 1993 events are in two parts, one from pages 357 to 362 on the overall policy and the Clinton-Yeltsin relationship, and the other, his extremely detailed eyewitness account of the assault on the White House, from pages 386 to 391. Pickering recounts his strong advice to Washington that there was "no choice" other than to back Yeltsin. He says, "There are some who argue that he, Yeltsin, was illegal in his actions and preemptory in his decisions and wrong in the outcomes. I totally disagreed with that . Were Yeltsin to have failed to do what he did, there was a good chance that there would have been another effort at the top to return Russia to communism. I cannot but believe that would have resulted in greater bloodshed and a long civil conflict." (p. 362) On the possibility of a negotiated settlement, Pickering comments, "[T]here were talks back and forth, not very fruitful ones because the Russian government then was in a position of deciding whether it was going to treat with these people and deal with compromises or take back the White House. They decided that they were going to take back the White House. They had the troops and the capability of doing that."
Memorandum of Telephone Conversation: Telcon with President Boris Yeltsin of Russian Federation. 1993-10-05 Source: William J. Clinton Presidential Library declassification 2015-0782-M-1
This phone call takes place on the day after Yeltsin ordered tanks to fire on the building of the Supreme Soviet in Moscow(the "White House, the same building outside which Yeltsin had stood on a tank to reisist the hard-line coup attempt in August 1991), Clinton calls him to express support and inquire about the Russian president's plans for the upcoming elections and political settlement after the constitutional crisis. Yeltsin calls his opponents "fascist," putting all the blame on the opposition, telling Clinton that the supporters of the Parliament "brought to Moscow a gang of people from the Transdniester region, the Riga OMON-these were special forces. They had them come here, gave them machine guns and grenade launchers, and had them fire on peaceful civilians." He says he had no alternative than using force. Yeltsin expresses regret that "some people were killed," [ ] "thirty-nine people have now been killed on our side," (estimates of casualties range in the hundreds) but assures Clinton that now both the transition to democracy and market reform will move faster and he might call for early presidential elections because at the time "no real rivals to me are visible." (Vice President Rutskoy and Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Khasbulatov were in prison, the prosecutor general was forced to resign and the Constitutional Court was suspended after its Chairman declared Yeltsin's decree 1400 unconstitutional.) None of that appears to undermine Yeltsin's democratic credentials in Clinton's eyes. Clinton never asks about the loss of life among civilians and the opposition. He says just what Yeltsin wants to hear: "you did everything exactly as you had to and I congratulate you for the way you handled it." The Russian president responds: "Thank you for everything. I embrace you with all my heart."
Memorandum for the President from Anthony Lake: Clarification on Your October 5 Telephone Conversation with President Yeltsin. 1993-10-07 Source: William J. Clinton Presidential Library declassification 2015-0782-M-1
This memo from National Security Advisor Anthony Lake clarifies two items in the October 5 conversation with Yeltsin (see Document 4). When Yeltsin referred to armed persons from Riga and Moldova who came to Moscow to support the opposition, Lake points out, they were "from the elite Russian security forces stationed in Riga and Moldova," not representatives of the Moldovan or Latvian governments. The second important correction refers to the fact that Yeltsin did not answer Clinton's question about freedom of the press in the period before the scheduled December elections. Yeltsin only said that there "would be no restrictions on the elections," and his interpreter translated it as "no restrictions on the press." In fact many oppositional newspapers were banned. President Clinton writes on the memo: "OK-but it wasn't the time for me to raise the newspaper issue on the 5 th ."
Cable from American Embassy Moscow to Secretary of State: Secretary's Visit to Moscow: Domestic Political Dynamics. 1993-10-19 Source: Department of State Declassification, Date/Case ID; 6 MAR 2003 200001030
Chargé d'Affaires and future Ambassador to Russia James Collins sends Secretary Christopher a briefing cable in advance of his visit to Moscow where he is expected to meet with Yeltsin and other government officials. This is the first visit of any Western senior official to Moscow after Yeltsin's dissolution of the Parliament and the October 3-4 bloodshed in the center of Moscow. In the cable, Collins describes the pre-electoral landscape in Russia on the eve of Christopher's visit. Although 92 parties are registered for the election, that in itself does not guarantee free and fair elections.
The cable describes Yeltsin's decision to push through the new "half-baked" Constitution, which concentrates the "preponderance of authority in the hands of the chief executive." Collins points out that "even many reformers worry about establishing a new Russian democracy so heavily tilted toward presidential power." The cable describes the split within the reformist camp into "radical" and "cautious" reformers, the confusion at the regional levels regarding whether the elections would be held for regional legislatures, and the continuing ban on nationalist and right-wing parties and their newspapers.
Collins notes the personal nature of the confrontation: "Boris Yeltsin's face during his October 6 speech was proof the Russian President had cast his hardline opponents into a personal anathema." He also raises concern about the methods used by Moscow police and city government in implementing the state of emergency, such as "systematic police cleansing of non-Russian people from Central Asian and Caucasian states," and racist remarks about dark-skinned people by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. In the end of the cable, Collins cautions that although the actual voting is likely to be fair, "the question will be the democratic content of the entire electoral process."
Cable from American Embassy Moscow to Secretary of State: Your October 21-23 Visit to Moscow-Key Foreign Policy Issues 1993-10-20 Source: U.S. Department of State. Date/Case ID: 04 MAY 2000 200000982
In the follow-up to the previous cable (Document 6), Chargé d'Affaires Collins reviews foreign policy issues Christopher is expected to cover in Moscow in his meetings with Yeltsin and Kozyrev and emphasizes that Yeltsin is looking for gestures of support from the United States. New elections are scheduled for December and Yeltsin needs all the support from the West he can get. Collins advises the secretary of state to be sensitive to Yeltsin's and Kozyrev's need for Russia to be seen domestically as a partner with whom the West consults and does not just take for granted, and he lists some controversial issues: NATO expansion, the post-Soviet space, and Ukraine.
On NATO, Collins notes that the Russians are aware that the U.S. internal debate is reaching a crucial moment about expansion and they want to be assured that the door is open to Russia, not just to East Europeans. In Collins' view, "what the Russians hope to hear from you is that NATO is not moving precipitously and that any policy NATO adopts will apply equally to them." Their "neuralgic" attitude stems from the fear that they will "end up on the wrong side of a new division of Europe." Therefore, Collins counsels Christopher to make sure the Russians know that the U.S. is actively promoting Russia's "complete reintegration into the family of Western states."
Secretary Christopher's Meeting with Foreign Minister Kozyrev: NATO, Elections, Regional Issues 1993-10-25 Source: U.S. Department of State. Date/Case ID: 11 MAR 2003 200001030
On his trip to Europe to explain the U.S. position on NATO expansion, Secretary Christopher comes to Moscow after meetings in Budapest. He and special ambassador Strobe Talbott meet with Foreign Minister Kozyrev and his deputy, Yuri Mamedov, before they visit Yeltsin at his country residence. Christopher raises concerns about the fairness of the upcoming elections with his Russian counterparts. He mentions that the United States has $12 million to contribute and is willing to send monitors or observers, which Kozyrev welcomes, saying they might help to guard against fraud by communist-leaning local authorities in rural areas where "the old kolkhoz mentality" still prevails. Christopher puts special emphasis on ensuring a free press since the order banning opposition newspapers was still not lifted. Kozyrev does not have a definitive answer to the question regarding banned newspapers and he says only six or seven political organizations will be banned from participating in the elections.
In this memo about the Kozyrev meeting, Christopher is very brief about the NATO discussion. He tells Kozyrev that the U.S. is sensitive to the Russian position and has developed a new proposal as a result: the Partnership for Peace (PFP), which would be open to all countries on an equal basis. Christopher does not directly address Kozyrev's concern about the decision regarding expansion, but, misleadingly, lets it sound as if PFP is the alternative for the time being.
The rest of the conversation deals with crucial issues on which the United States needs Russian cooperation, such as support for Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia and the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Ukraine.
Secretary Christopher's Meeting with President Yeltsin, 10/22/1993, Moscow 1993-10-22 Source: U.S. Department of State. Date/Case ID: 08 MAY 2000 200000982
Christopher is taken to Yeltsin's country house, Zavidovo, for a meeting that lasts only 45 minutes. Yeltsin has most likely already been briefed by Kozyrev about his conversation with the secretary of state. In the beginning of the conversation, Yeltsin reviews the events of September 21-October 4 in Moscow and expresses "special appreciation to President Clinton and Secretary Christopher for their early and very supportive backing. The Russian president talks about the upcoming elections, which he calls "the first free and fair election for the parliament since 1917," and assures Christopher that the country has calmed down after the crisis. Yeltsin praises the new Constitution that is "up to the standards of the best Western democracies," which would allow them to "end the old totalitarian regime with the power assigned to the soviets." He also welcomes the Clinton visit to Moscow planned for January 1994.
Christopher starts with strong praise for Yeltsin's handling of the constitutional crisis with the Parliament, passing on "high appreciation" and emphasizing that Clinton is "extremely supportive" of his "superb handling of the crisis." According to Christopher, Clinton "admired the restraint" that Yeltsin has practiced since September 21 and that in the end he acted in a way that "caused the least loss of life." He adds that "on Sunday October 3, the President also closely followed events and wanted to tell President Yeltsin that [ ] our thoughts were with you in Moscow all day." Christopher offers technical assistance for the election and notes that "there are already numbers of our experts here who could be helpful but we would like to assist in any way in which we could do so." Essentially, Christopher lauds Yeltsin's handling of the crisis and never raises any concerns mentioned in Collins' cable (see Document 6, above) about irregularities in the electoral process or the nature of Yeltsin's constitution.
At the end of the conversation they briefly touch on the sensitive question of NATO expansion. Christopher leaves Yeltsin with the impression that the Partnership for Peace is an alternative to expansion (see Document 8 in National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 621 [tk: Rinat, please add link]). Yeltsin is extremely pleased with everything Christopher says at the meeting. He concludes "by saying that he appreciated immensely President Clinton's early continuing and extremely generous support and that he wanted to pass on his highest esteem for the President."
Memorandum of Telephone Conversation: Telcon with President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation. 1993-12-22 Source: William J. Clinton Presidential Library declassification 1015-0782-M-1
Clinton calls Yeltsin to check on the political situation after the elections and talk about his upcoming visit to Russia in January 1994. At the beginning of the conversation both presidents put the best spin on the disastrous election results where the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky finished with 23 percent, the Communist Party of Gennady Zyuganov with 12 percent and Yeltsin's party, Russia's Choice, headed by Yegor Gaidar, only got 15 percent. Clinton is concerned about Yeltsin's ability to continue his economic reform with the strong nationalist-communist-agrarian opposition in Parliament. Yeltsin assures him that he is committed to the reform and will be able to work with the Parliament, "especially since the working relationship is supported by a strong democratic foundation in the new constitution." He says that now "there is no room for extremism or fascism in the new parliament." At the same time, he asks the U.S. president not to invite opposition party leaders to a meeting when Clinton comes to Moscow "so as not to give them an exaggerated opinion of themselves." Clinton tells Yeltsin that they decided not to talk much about Zhirinovsky and "to play him down."
The rest of the conversation focuses on preparations for the upcoming summit with Clinton's three-part agenda: "economic assistance to support your reforms; our common effort to convince Ukraine to go non-nuclear; and our foreign policy agenda." He promises to start a "quiet study" of how to increase IMF and World Bank assistance to Russia. Yeltsin is grateful for the support and emphasizes the importance of cooperation on denuclearization of Ukraine. He enthusiastically accepts Clinton's program.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev Oral History Excerpt 2015-00-00 Source: Interview conducted by Petr Aven and Alfred Kokh and ultimately published in their book, Gaidar's Revolution: The Inside Account of the Economic Transformation of Russia (London: I. B. Tauris, 2015), pp. 297-333.
Two of Yegor Gaidar's close associates during the "second Russian revolution" of 1989-1992 went back 20 years later, after Gaidar's death, to interview 10 of the other key players in that period, including the Defense Minister Pavel Grachev (the only American interviewed was former Secretary of State James Baker). Aven and Kokh published short versions of each interview in the Russian edition of Forbes between 2010 and 2012, and longer versions in their book. In the biographical listing in the back of the book, the authors sneer at Grachev as a corrupt incompetent, while for most others listed they simply provide the dates and titles of their positions. But they give Grachev more than 30 pages of space to recount his versions of multiple controversial topics. This excerpt, titled "The Army and the Putsch of 1993," from pages 325 to 330, includes Grachev's story of his 3 a.m. discussions with Yeltsin and his security chief Korzhakov, during which "we drank a little," leading to the assault on the White House. Grachev says he personally gave the orders for a tank to fire "inert" projectiles into specific windows in the White House, after which "a fire started. It was beautiful." When Aven asks how many they killed in the assault, Grachev answers, "a lot." When Aven says, "from 200 to 400, by various estimates," Grachev responds, "many, in short."
 The main editor of Novaya Gazeta , Sergey Kozheurov, elected for the second time in November 2017, was the founding editor of the newspaper from 1993 to 1995.
 Talbott, The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy , (New York: Random House, 2002) p. 55
Published at https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/russia-programs/2018-10-04/yeltsin-shelled-russian-parliament-25-years-ago-us-praised-superb-handling Read also: Haley and Binomo (Trump and his People)
Read also: US complain Russians do not let them dominate the Middle East!!!
Feb 17, 2004 | www.harbus.org
"Russia is not a normal country," said Professor Marshall Goldman, an internationally recognized authority on Russian politics and economics, in his meeting with HBS students on February 9th. Professor Goldman of the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University came to campus to talk about his recent book "The Piratization of Russia: Russian Reform Goes Awry".
The event, hosted by the Eastern European Association, attracted significant interest from the HBS community. Surrounded by dozens of students in a packed room at Cumnock Hall, Professor Goldman shared his prospective on the past and future of the Russian reforms, and answered a number of intriguing questions. His expert opinion was sought to add academic clarity to the recent publicized debate around 'the real facts about Russia'.
In his lecture, Professor Goldman gave a critical assessment of the approach to the economic reforms taken by the Russian government after the collapse of Soviet Union. Citing the examples of Poland and China, he argued that more gradual liberalization and privatization would generate wider social benefits in a less corrupt environment.
In addition, Marshall Goldman didn't miss the opportunity to pick on 'the guys across the river', referring to Harvard Professors Andrei Shleifer and Jeffrey Sachs (now at Columbia) who consulted Russian authorities in early nineties and advocated 'shock therapy' reforms. He also quoted Shleifer's recent publication about Russia, 'A normal country'.
Professor Goldman talked at length about the genesis of the 'oligarchs', Russia's largest and most controversial businessmen. In the last few years, Russia 'delegated' 19 billionaires to the Forbes' World's Richest People list – more than Britain or France, for instance. In examining this unique Russian phenomenon, Marshall Goldman emphasized that the 'oligarchs' propelled themselves to riches after the start of perestroika in 1987. Coming from the ranks of Soviet government officials or black market dealers, these people took advantage of immature regulatory environment to build wealth, first through financial and export-import operations, and then by privatizing the country's natural resources and mass media.
Oligarchs reached the peak of their influence in the late nineties after they ventured into politics and helped re-elect Boris Yeltsin the President of Russia. Ironically, the demise of the oligarchs follows the same route but in reverse: stripped of their media assets by President Putin, they lost their political weight, and are now gradually losing control over natural resources. The recent arrest of the oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky served as an obvious indication of this trend.
In examining the current situation in Russia, Professor Goldman deplored the excesses of the 'rule of law' and the cutbacks on the democratic freedoms, primarily freedom of speech. At the same time he admitted considerable advances made by Russia in the economic area. Fuelled by high commodity prices and liberal tax reforms (with income tax at 13% flat), the Russian economy developed briskly in the last five years, posting a whopping 7% GDP increase in 2003. Although this growth remains driven more by greater resource utilization than by factor productivity, Marshall Goldman was generally positive about the prospects of Russian businesses. In answering a student's question 'Is Russia a good place to invest?', he said that most probably yes, pointing at the burgeoning consumer market, growing foreign investment and recent moves by Moody's and Standard & Poor's to raise Russian sovereign ratings to the investment grade.
In closing, Professor Goldman expressed his hope that Russia will manage to keep the current fine balance between both the liberal economic policies and sub-democratic political regime. He also invited HBS students to attend weekly academic seminars held at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard.
Feb 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
DidierF , Feb 21, 2018 2:03:08 AM | linkSad but definitely correct. The first casualty of war is the truth. It's dead in the USA and allies. Therefore, they're at war with Russia and China. If Russia is down, China will be dealt with.V. Arnold , Feb 21, 2018 2:13:54 AM | link
The horrible thing with the US attitude is that you do a white thing, you're attacking them and if you do a black thing, you're attacking them too. This attitude is building hostility against Russia. It's like programming a pet to be afraid of something. The western people are being programmed into hating Russia, dehumanizing her people, cutting every tie with Russia and transforming any information from Russia into life threatening propaganda. A war for our hearts is running. The US population is being coerced into believing that war against Russia is a vital necessity.
It will be a war of choice from the US "elites". Clinton announced it and the population had chosen Trump for that reason.
You're wondering why they're doing it. I suppose that their narrative is losing its grip on the western populations. They're also conscious of it. If they lose it, they'll have to face very angry mobs and face the void of their lives. Everything they did was either useless or poisonous. It means to be in a very bad spot. They're are therefore under an existential threat.
Russia proved time and again that it's possible to get out of their narrative. Remember their situation when Eltsin was reelected with the western help.
The Chicago boys were telling the Russian authorities how to run the economy and they made out of the word democrat a synonym of thief. They were in the narrative and the result was a disaster. Then, they woke up and started to clean the house. I remember the "hero" of democracy whose name was "Khodorovsky (?)". In the west he was a freedom fighter and in Russia he stole something like Rosneft. This guy and others of the same sort were described in the west as heroes, pioneers and so on. They were put back into submission to the law. The western silence about their stealing, lies and cheating is still deafening me.
It was the first Russian crime. The second one was to survive the first batch of sanctions against them (I forgot the reason of the sanctions). They not only survived they thrived. It was against the western leading economic ideology. A third crime was to push back Saakachvili and his troops with success.
The fourth was to put back into order the Tchechen. Russia was back into the world politics and history. They were not following the script written for them in Washington and Brussels. They were having a political system putting limits to the big companies. And, worst of it, it works.
Everybody in the west who can read and listen would have noticed that they are making it.
More, with RT and Sputnik giving info outside the allowed ones or asking annoying questions (western journalists lost that habit with their new formation in the schools of journalism - remember the revolution in their education was criticised and I missed why - very curious to discover why), they were exposing weaknesses of the western narrative. On the other side their narrative became so poor and so limited that any regular reader would feel bored reading the same things time and again and being asked to pay for it at a time his salary was decreased in the name of competitivity. The threat to their narrative was ready. They had to fight it.
It's becoming a crime to think outside their marks. It's becoming a crime to read outside their marks. I don't even talk about any act outside their marks. Now, it's going to be a crime of treason to them in war time.
I do feel sadness because many will die from their fear of losing their grip on our minds. I do feel sadness because they have lost and are in denial about it. I do feel sadness because those death aren't necessary. I do feel sadness because those people can't face the consequences of their actions. They don't have the necessary spine. Their lives were useless and even toxic. They could start repairing or mitigating their damages but it would need a very different worldview, a complete conversion to another meaning of life outside the immediate and maximal profit.DidierF | Feb 21, 2018 2:03:08 AM | 46Ger , Feb 21, 2018 7:52:44 AM | link
You have aptly described the most dangerous country on this planet. That country must not be appeased, at any cost, because it would surely end us forever...Dan @ 4
It is partially tied direct to the economy of the warmongers as trillions of dollars of new cold war slop is laying on the ground awaiting the MICC hogs. American hegemony is primarily about stealing the natural resources of helpless countries. Now in control of all the weak ones, it is time to move to the really big prize: The massive resources of Russia.
They (US and their European Lackeys) thought this was a slam dunk when Yeltsin, in his drunken stupors, was literally giving Russia to invading capitalist. Enter Putin, stopped the looting .........connect the dots.
Jan 01, 2019 | www.youtube.com
Why Mikhail Gorbachev was elected General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee on March 11, 1985? Was there a will of Yuri Andropov? What was the cause of the sudden death of defense Minister Dmitry Ustinov, who could be the first person in the country? Was the Secretary General Konstantin Chernenko really poisoned by low-quality fish? And why did Victor Grishin lose his chance to become the Secretary General of the "master of Moscow"?
Дима Горный , 1 year ago (edited)
valentina Валентина , 2 years ago (edited)
Gorbachev was recruited in 1976-77 years when he visited Europe, then eliminate Kulakov and promote the Central Committee Gorbachev. I am sure that the KGB had their own people recruited by the CIA and pursued a policy of promoting their candidacy for the post of first person of the USSR.
Ацеховская Татьяна , 1 year ago
The stupidest commentaries are here. This rotten system has outlived its usefulness.........and no leader was able to save her. There is no progressive Communist state in the world and can not be!
Oberst , 1 week ago
Not Gorbachev, so someone else.The USSR was naive and doomed.What, one Gorbachev did everything? Full of vultures sat and waited for the corpse. My uncle, being the mayor of Tikhvin, in the late 70s, said that the country is doomed because we are engaged in self-eating.Huge funds went to support the Communist parties around the world.
@Asenovska Tatiana uncle rasskazyval, as mayor....What the University taught me.....
And I , being the senior officer, after 4 wounds the write-off on the ground, the pilot....Past Afghan, and not only.....
I saw our planes to be cur in peaces on orders from Gorbachev.... .And submarines, costing hundreds millions. Payed by people who save on everyting to secure indepence of the country.
And this creature, was given Nobel Peace Prize for selling everthing to the USA for pennies on the dollar...
The West praised him, and he DESTROYED noth the ARMY AND NAVY and then the USSR ... He gave up our victory in WWII without and fight's...
After Gorbachov the USA was able to bomb Belgrade, and Iraq, and Livia without any fear for retribution. He should be executed . And the body of this traitor should be disposed in manure...
And if not Putin, we would be the colony of the USA much like Latin american countries. .And the USA would bomb Syria into stone age, kill the President and grap all the oil
Only Putin is not GORBACHEV!!!!! And the Big Uncle blew up in Syria and they did not risk thier place to test Russia anti-aircraft missile systems.
Tamara G , 3 years ago
Высоковольтный Сыр , 1 year ago (edited)
Gorbachev first created a deceptive impression of a young, wise, business-like head of state. In fact, he was a banal traitor of his country, sold the sovereignty of a great country for perdpnal fortume and villa in Germany. While Wewst grbbed all opur natiural resourses and large part of iundustry. YELTSIN destroyed completely the economica, and high technolgy ijndurites in the country, sold everything to oligarchs for pennies. Both Gorbachev and Yeltsin are enemies of the Fatherland .
Fartoviy 777 , 4 months ago
Gorbachev came to the sinking ship and it was too late to patch the holes in it. The cold war and the arms race sucked the last currency reserves from the USSR. The Kremlin Party bonzes forgot about the economy, forgot about the people. They were obsessed with matching the weaponry of the phantom enemy (Americans), and as a result of the cold war the USSR disintegrated and broke up into 15 independent States.
While we can blame the weakling and traitor Gorbachev, even before him the agriculture was in deep and irreversible decline. We were forced to buy grad for abroad. After the US has imposed sanctions that have artificially reduced oil prices to such a low level that game was over. Currency flow from oil sales seizes and there was no alternative then to take loans from the West.
The Treasury started printed too much rubles, inflation started and with it nationalist feeling that finished off the country. Add to this Chernobyl disaster. When in Armenia in December 1988 there was the major earthquake, the Kremlin requested the "decadent West" about the humanitarian aid.
Economy of the Soviet Union fell through the floor and no wonder Gorbachev was tilted towards the West, toward privatization of the industries.
Of course he was a fool and allowed West to plunder the country, but essentially he have no choice, reforms were needed and he lost control of them, tried to stage a fake coup to regain control and was deposed as the result. Because he was very weak, incompetent politician, not fit for such a grave moment in the history of the country, he destroyed the country.
The socialist camp collapsed, and Gorbachov refused to help the socialist countries, it was necessary to save his own ass. He also finished stupid and unnecessary war in Afghanistan. That was the only positive step he made. And that was too little too late.
Caucasus man , 5 days ago
Instead of that asshole, Heydar Aliyev should have been elected by Politburo. The only person who was really able to pull the country out of the crisis, it was Aliyev G. in any other scenario, the country was doomed to collapse . And about Gorbachev , you can say so in Russian history , no traitor is worse and higher rank than this pederast!!!, All pleasant viewing!
BValeri52 , 1 week ago
And why the interior Ministry, KGB were inactive. As well as Party Control? How could this hump with foreign help and some special color revolution technology to destroy all the obstacles. How he managed to subdue the Politburo power structure ( including the axis of the Gromyko-Primakov and Yakovlev) ? As he had no trouble to expel from the Central Committee able and less corrupted members of the Central Committee (V. Sherbitsky , V. Grishin, G. V. Romanov, G. A. Aliyev, D, Kuhn...)?
YURY RUDY , 5 days ago (edited)
Gorbachev - zero as the head of state, but the soil he has prepared Khrushchev and Brezhnev (Moskva), they let the country drift, theft, drunkenness, took away people's faith.
А хули дебилам объяснять. Горбачев открыл окно в мир. Живите уроды ,работайте развивайтесь. Но началась элементарная борьба за власть. Так как в этой стране на протяжении всей истории ничего путного создать не умели. Что с татар взять. Страна не могла не развалится. Если бы не Беловежское соглашение, крови было бы немерянно. В каждой республики были свои лидеры которые тупо хотели быть президентами и якобы независимыми.. Кто виноват ,что страна наводнена ублюдками у власти. которые вместо того что бы создавать могучую страну напичканную всей таблицей Менделеева, начали ее растаскивать.И грабят по сей день, под руководством Единой россии. Вспомните как все визжали, когда страна стала открываться. Когда народ перестал поклонятся импортным одноразовым зажигалкам и фантикам от жвачек. Думать надо, прежде чем повторять кремлевские методички. Теперь катаетесь на Порше кайене, живете в особняках и хотите назад в СССР. Я с вас хуею..
Володимир Завірюха , 1 week ago
Низами Мамедов , 3 days ago
Хорошо помню 1985 год когда вьібрали Горбачева .То у нас в Тернополе наш учитель политекономии тогда говорил нам студентам что старьіе партейцьі говорят что Горбачев будет изменик .А почему мьі спрашивали .А потому что он не любит наши отечественьіе костюмьі а любит английские ....Сколько лет прошло а только времья показало кто прав а кто нет .Китай например посмотрел на нашу историческую ошибку и принимает все необходимьіе мерьі чтобьі подобньіх Горбачевьіх там у руля власти не оказалось ....Все большие Иудьі бьіли меченьіе ,как и бьіл мечен Горбачев ...Горбачева можна сравнить из Нероном которьій розвалил большое ....
У господина Млечина с аналитикой большие проблемы, а ведь журналист должен знать всё о своём герое. В отношении Горбачёва он так и не понял, почему Семи- частный отверг кандидатуру Горбачёва. Семичастный знал, что Горбачёв не чист на руку, короче говоря один из первых советских мафиози в г. Ставрополе по производству алкоголя. Мне лично рассказал об этом брат убитого по приказу Горбачёва следователя (по пути из Краснодара в Невинномысск), который напал на след этого упыря, но ему была устроена автомобильная катастрофа, в которой погиб этот следователь. А почему Брежнев убрал Семичастного, потому что Семичастный знал всю кухню правительственного переворота по смещению Хрущёва, поэтому Брежнев, по словам самого Семичастного убрал его из Москвы подальше, и в Киеве устроил третьим замом председателя правительства Украинской ССР, выступая Семичастный сказал, я так и не понял, кем я стал работать, работы практически не было, он просто отсиживался на этой высокой должности до пенсии.
Mihrutka Mikhail , 2 weeks ago
Слушаю и все время одна мысль в голову лезет - как же надо было руководить страной , до какого идиотизма довести ситуацию с продуктами питания , если академики и композиторы с мировым именем и даже дочь генсека !!!! искали знакомства и расположения директора магазина !!! . О чем думают люди , пишущие вечные сентенции - "какую страну мы потеряли " - а ведь в провинции было все гораздо хуже и японцы создали анекдот - "Самая лучшая система снабжения создана в СССР - все товары завозятся в Москву - а благодарный народ САМ развозит по стране..." Не могла быть жизнеспособной страна при таком маразме..
Slava Boyka , 1 week ago
Лично мне похуй!!! Если сравнить СССР ,где все было нельзя и под запретом, под наблюдением людей в плащах и шляпах,то при Горбачеве, народ вздохнул глоток свежего,опьяняющего,долгожданного и запретного воздуха из вне... Первые кооперативы, джинсы, машины, кафе, иномарки,музыка, фильмы!!! Что то новое принес! Нельзя так,было больше жить.. Виновен он во многом,но есть и плюсы его политики. Предали его, а он предал нас....
джек машкин , 5 months ago
Zigmas Kreipavičius , 3 days ago
Горбачёв был типичный южный дурачок . Они умеют 3 вещи -выглядеть выгодно(лучше чем есть на самом деле ,подмазать где надо , и болтать .... А ЛЮБОЕ дело которое им поручишь -ОБГАДЯТ . СИСТЕМА СССР была уже слаба тем ,что потеряла ЖЁСТКОСТЬ и ЗАЩИТУ от Дурака . При Хрущёве -она сработала и дурачка убрали ,при Горби - ЕМУ ДАЛИ РУЛИТЬ ,и ВСЁ развалилось .
Vanjka Vstanjka , 1 year ago
Михаил Сергеевич разрушил империю зла
Престарелый Черненко - это плохо. А не престарелые Горбачёв, Яковлев, Шеварднадзе и Лигачёв - это жутко хорошо? Дело, похоже, не только и не столько в возрасте, сколько в деловых и моральных качествах его носителей. Все члены названнй компашки реально вредили и реально (и крепко) навредили стране. А ведь престарелыми они отнюдь не были!
Евгений Карандашев , 1 week ago (edited)
Поражаюсь туполобости некоторых "демократов-капиталистов" в комментариях. Почти тридцать лет мы живём в капиталистическом обществе, имеем полный доступ к любой информации - изучай сколько влезет, называется... И вы за эти тридцать лет так и не смогли впихнуть в свой мозг информацию о происходящих в мире тенденциях, её систематизировать и сделать из неё вывод - вы безнадёжны.
Никто из вас не удосужился изучать источники разной направленности по теме капитализма и социализма, вы лишь прочли/услышали что-то одно, и приняли это за аксиому. Это совершенно ненаучный и не конструктивный подход к изучению проблемы! К сожалению, некоторые люди просто не способны думать объёмно, для них существует только плоскость или даже прямая линия, что есть признак ужасно узкого кругозора.
Я увидел в комментариях одно выражение, которое просто повергло меня в шок: "Нет на свете ни одного прогрессивного коммунистического государства и быть не может!" - здрасте! :D Вы хоть историю-то изучали? То есть СССР не был мировой сверхдержавой? А, ну да, это же была "страшная, отсталая, грязная и бедная страна-недоразумение, которая возникла по ужасной ошибке", как же я мог забыть современных историков) А как-же нынешний Китай? Он официально считается экономической сверхдержавой, кандидатом в мировые сверхдержавы, и темпы развития в нём имеют наивысший показатель на данный момент.
Плоскость и однонаправленность вашего мышления меня просто поразила, вы имеете радикальные взгляды, а радикализм - это всегда ошибочно. Кто-то написал: "Китай только официально коммунистический, на деле в нём другое устройство!" - ну это просто апогей идиотизма) Вы разве не понимаете, что человеческие взгляды могут совершенствоваться и изменяться, а система реформироваться? В Китае именно социалистический строй, который претерпел реформацию, в которой безусловно нуждался. Советский социализм также нуждался в реформации, и никто не говорит, что он был идеальным социализмом.
Совершенствование системы - это неотъемлемая часть прогресса, и если вы считаете, что социализм может быть только таким, каким он был в СССР - то вы глубоко ошибаетесь, и совершенно не понимаете значение слова "прогресс". Китай построил такой социализм, который даёт ему возможность делать поистине чудеса экономики, Китай богатеет и уровень жизни в нём растёт - если это не прогресс, то что тогда? Также хочу упомянуть КНДР. Да-да, США на неё повесили ярлык "отсталого голодающего тоталитарного государства", и скорее всего вы, радикальные капиталисты, даже не думали с ними спорить и что-то дополнительно про КНДР узнавать, что, опять-же, говорит о плоскости и некритичности, я бы даже сказал суеверности вашего мышления. КНДР - страна очень маленькая, в основном с горной местностью, и природных ресурсов в ней очень мало. "Демократы" из ООН и НАТО обложили КНДР санкциями со всех сторон, из-за которых она не может развивать внешнюю торговлю, что губительно для маленькой страны с худым запасом ресурсов. Поддерживать экономику, снабжать людей достатком товаров и в целом держать страну на современном уровне в условиях торговой изоляции и недостатка ресурсов - это неподъёмная задача для капитализма. Но корейский социализм умудрился, при всех этих условиях, победить голод, поддерживать бесплатное образование, медицину и т.д., обеспечивать людей местом жительства, работой и доходом, сохранить суверенность своего государства и идеологию, и, ВНИМАНИЕ, создать с нуля ядерную бомбу . Это чудеса, северокорейский строй решает задачи, которые поистине неподъёмные в её условиях.
Конечно, в КНДР жесткий тоталитаризм, ведь когда страна изолирована от внешнего мира во всех аспектах, соседние страны настроены враждебно (а со стороны США вообще идёт угроза прямого вторжения, или даже ядерного удара), со страной ведут жёсткую идеологическую информационную войну, сохранить существующий строй - задача крайне сложная, и выполнить её можно только при жёсткой дисциплине и контрпропаганде. Я уважаю Северную Корею, она наглядно показывает, что социализм может творить чудеса. Конечно же, я вас переубедить не смог, радикальные вы капиталисты, но тем из вас, кои способны хоть немножко думать своей черепушкой, я, возможно, поселил мысль о том, что социализм - это далеко не только плановая экономика, что он может меняться и прогрессировать, что именно к нему идут все развитые страны, и что утопический коммунизм - это строй, который мы ещё представить себе не можем, но который обязательно наступит через многие годы, или столетия прогресса. Избавляйтесь от своих радикальных взглядов, и старайтесь думать объективно - это очень полезно для кругозора. Спасибо.
Asus Z370 , 1 year ago
По Млечину : хорошо разработанная и осуществлённая операция по устранению конкурентов и внедрению "своего". Возникают вопросы: кто проводил операцию? Где была организация отвечающая за государственную безопасность (КГБ)? В 2017м демпартия США подняла вой о,якобы,вмешательстве России в избирательный процесс в США. Кто ответит:было ли вмешательство заграницы в процессы, о которых поведал Млечин? Если было,то России так же, по образу и подобию, надо поднимать вой. Это серьёзно.Кто ответит?
Вин Лу , 3 years ago
ЦРУ того времени было значительно круче чем КГБ. К тому же против КГБ действовала и МИ6 и израильская разведка!
MUZZY BUZZY , 2 days ago
Горбачев попал в Политбюро на место убитого Мащерова, которого убили за 2 недели до преступления к обязанностям в Политбюро.
Александр Скрыбель , 3 days ago
Горбачев Родину продал, а Ельцин её пропил. Горбачев виноградники повырубал, а Ельцин травил народ не качественным спиртом. В итоге, если бы не Путин, то развязка была бы давным давно, хотя он тоже не подарок, отдал страну на разграбление олигархам.
болельщик Тотенхэм Хотспур , 2 weeks ago
Горбачёв типичный номенклатурщик. Послушный, мягкий, ну может и прогибался ради своей высокой карьеры, но наверняка не чаял президентом стать. Но потом когда всё случилось, стал входить во вкус, то есть жена стала проникаться важностью своего положения при таком муженьке. А когда пришлось отказаться от власти он НИСКОЛЬКО не скорбел о потерянном кресле и стране. Его посдили "на мягкую подушечку" и он стал жить поживать в Америке, даже не понимая, что его бездарность, как политика, послужила развалу СССР. Он не понимает этого и сейчас. А может НЕ желает признавать. Может на смертном одре передумает строить из себя униженного и оскорблённого и в чём-нибудь признается, хотя бы самому себе. Правда, для этого смелость нужна.
KainTanatos , 3 weeks ago
Горбачев не увлекался горячительными напитками???? Ну ну!!! Я родственник председателя крайкома СК в бытность Горбачева...Его из машин вытаскивали лежа
Борис Павлов , 1 month ago
Это был заговор партийной элиты о разрушении системы они уже зажратые были СССР побоку им был
DOGRU OLAN , 2 months ago
Нечего горбачева обеливать!Он виноват,да еще как!Будь он трижды проклят!Этот человек не руководитель,разве не видно было из его речей,что за он скоморох?!Как может шут руководить огромной страной и как вообще можно было доверить легкомысленному человеку руководить государством,он же не "А ни Б,НИ КУКАРЕКУ"?!Полный идиот!!!!!
Kamtayak Abdr , 5 months ago
Перед развалом Союза ,этот придурок начал обсирать КАЗАКСТАН,я тогда ушёл в запас,и было обидно за академика Кунаева,За родину мою,а на флоте мы гордились ,когда перед строем кораблей Старший офицер Азаров говорил казакстанцы ,мы едим хлеб из каз-й муки тушёнка из kz,балык и икра,одеты мы в KZ канадки и свитера из Кызыл орды,А вот атомные ПЛ из казакстанского титана- и мы были горды за казакстан И вот ОН наносит обсирающий удар?а дальше нам все стало ясно.
pavel pavel , 2 weeks ago
Boris Petrovich , 5 months ago
Млечный как всегда врет , не умного Горбатого плохо говорящего по русски двигала ЦРУ и как я понимаю сейчас многие советские парта геносе знали об этом , почему , ???почему они продали все советское в котором жили ???за деньги или разочарование произошло от этого марксизма и ленинизма, ,,,мы простые люди не когда не узнаем...но я уверен , что Брежнев уже был не руководитель что Путин ,,,,почему ???что то им мешает , а то и наоборот они и есть гарантия чтоб страна не развивалась ,
Ravil Aitov , 5 years ago
Пшеницу покупали в Канаде,Союз изжил себя,,,вина Горбача только в одном,,,первое Крым хохлам не отдавать,,и русских в Прибалтике не трогать,все это надо было говорить Бушу,,ставить условия
Похоже ЦРУ круче КГБ.
Dec 29, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.orgMontreal , Dec 27, 2018 2:01:23 PM | link
bevin , Dec 27, 2018 10:21:32 AM | link
" ....The oligarchs have been destroyed in the early 00s: Gusinsky (the media oligarch), Berezovsky (the political broker oligarch), Khodorkovsky (the oil oligarch). These people were real oligarchs, i.e. they were using their wealth to control political processes through black media propaganda, having their own MPs/Ministers/Governors, etc..." @85
I'm inclined to agree. And this is why there is so much anger against Putin, in particular, in the 'west': the Russian oligarchs wield enormous power through the media which is at the service of anyone with money. Bill Browder being a prime example.
The oligarchs were the tools that the City of London and Wall St employed to plunder Russia's socialised wealth and resources.
The hate campaign against Putin, who is in many ways a very conservative economist pursuing the sort of neo-liberal policies that capitalist financiers approve of, is inexplicable unless we understand that the end game is a return to the looting that took place under the Empire's anointed, Boris Yeltsin.
I don't understand the people here who write that VVPutin is in thrall to the Zionists, the Oligarchs, or that he's lining his own pocket etc etc. IMHO his strategy has always been clear and direct, since the beginning. He values first of all stability - time for Russia to rebuild herself. Secondly, he performs a clever balancing act between the competing centres of power in Russia.
His mistake, however, when he became president, was to believe quite sincerely that the West - and particularly Washington (the important one) - shared a desire for peaceful partnership with Russia. Doubts emerged in 2011 - he realised that he was being played - and the doubts became certainties in 2014, since when some fairly radical reorganisations has been taking place. Russia is - again, IMHO - now ready to take its real place in the international order.
I take great pleasure in reading and listening to his - and Sergei Lavrov's - words, at the same time regretting the low standard of our own representatives.
Many thanks to b and all of you who continue always to inform me and sometimes enchant me.
Dec 29, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
bevin , Dec 27, 2018 5:01:47 PM | link
Throughout its existence the Soviet Union was hobbled by the sanctions imposed on it by the capitalist world. Despite being uniquely qualified, by virtue of its geography and culture, to survive without being part of the international economy, it had to pay much more, by being forced to rely on its own resources, than other countries for every advance that it made economically.
And then it was constantly under threat of coordinated military attack by the richest and most technically advanced powers, led by the anglo-US empire. Twice it was invaded by massive international coalitions, in 1918 and 1041. Twice its industrial base and its infrastructure were reduced to smoking ruins.Twice it had to rebuild, from the ground up without the assistance of foreign capital.
By contrast the imperial powers, bent on crushing it by economic or military means, throughout its existence came through the period virtually unscathed-its great rival the US actually thrived from threw two world wars.
It was this fate which China, under imperial pressure after the 1949 Revolution, was determined to escape. And so far, since it changed course and played the US and the Soviet Union off against each other, it has made great strides forward-advances complementing the enormous gains made after 1949, during which period all the basic indicators of well being, life expectancy included, rose and a firm base was established for future improvement. And this at a time when the US used every means in its power, including biological warfare, to weaken China and reduce its people to starvation.
For example China-well known for its polluted air-is well in advance of North America in its development of renewable energy sources and seems genuinely committed to replacing fossil fuels.
Nor is it using its growing strength to engage in military adventures and impose its rule on others.
It is important when considering China not to repeat the mistakes of some of the neo-Trotskyist factions whose theory that the Soviet Union was just another capitalist society (something that most Russians disagree with) was an important part of the Empire's ideological struggle against the Soviet Union in the world and socialism everywhere. China is not a communist country but it serves its people much better than, for example, India. And it certainly plays a vital role, together with Russia in resisting the Imperial ruling class's campaigns to reduce the globe to accepting the diktats of Washington, Wall St and Hollywood.
Sep 25, 2018 | www.wsws.org
... In the introduction to the second volume in his series, The State and the Opposition , Rogovin noted:In this work, Rogovin argued that the fundamental problem facing the USSR was "a deepening of socially unjustified differentiation of incomes and the comforts of life." "Workers regularly encounter instances of unearned enrichment through the deceit and the ripping-off of the state and the people. [ ] Certain groups of the population have the means to meet their needs at a scale beyond any reasonable norms and outside of their relationship to social production. [ ] There does not exist any systematic control of sources of income and the acquisition of valuable goods," he wrote.
A peculiarity of the counter-revolution realized by Stalin and his accomplices was that it took place under the ideological cover of Marxist phraseology and never-ending attestations of loyalty to the October Revolution Naturally, such a counter-revolution demanded historically unprecedented conglomerations of lies and falsifications, the fabrication of ever-newer myths
Similar to the Stalinists, modern anti-communists use two kinds of myths: namely, ideological and historical. Under ideological myths we have in mind false ideas, oriented to the future -- that is, illusory prognoses and promises. These sorts of products of false consciousness reveal their mythological character by way of their practical realization.
Myths that appeal not to the future but to the past are another matter.
In principle, it is easier to expose these myths than anti-scientific prognoses and reactionary projects.
Like ideological ones, historical myths are a product of immediate class interests products of historical ignorance or deliberate falsification -- that is, the concealment of some historical facts, the tendentious exaggeration, and the distorted interpretation of others.
Refuting these myths is only possible by rehabilitating historical truth -- the honest portrayal of actual facts and tendencies of the past.
In a remarkable statement, inequality, he insisted, not wage-leveling, expressed "in essence, the social structure of [Soviet] society."
Rogovin called for the implementation of income declarations, whereby people would be required to report the size of their total income, not just their official wages, so that the government and researchers might actually know the real distribution of earnings. He advocated for the establishment of a "socially-guaranteed maximum income" to combat "unjustified inequality."Vadim Rogovin and Nina Naumova's 1984 Social Development and Societal Morals
Elsewhere, Rogovin further argued that inequality lay at the center of the USSR's falling labor productivity. In a work co-authored with Nina Naumova, Social Development and Societal Morals , he maintained that the socio-economic crisis facing the USSR stemmed from the fact that inequality was growing in Soviet society; people worked poorly in the Soviet Union not because their work was inadequately remunerated relative to others, but because their commitment to social production had been eroded by intensifying social stratification that was unrecorded in official statistics.
In 1983, the very same year that Rogovin authored his critical report on the state of inequality in the USSR that ended up in the hands of the Moscow authorities, another sociologist, Tatyana Zaslavskaya, would issue a report, kept secret at first but later leaked to the Western press, advocating a transition to "economic methods of management," -- in other words, market-based reforms. A central aspect of this was policy centered around increasing inequality in workers' compensation in order to stimulate production. Zaslavskaya noted at the time that such reforms would be opposed by what she described as "the more apathetic, the more elderly, and the less qualified groups of workers."
In a few years, Zaslavskaya would become a leading advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev and one of the main architects of the pro-market, perestroika reforms. In 1986, she was appointed the head of the Soviet Sociological Association. Her positions were widely embraced by the discipline.Tatiana Zaslavskaya and Mikhail Gorbachev 1989 at Congress of People's Deputies. [Copyright RIA Novosti]
In contrast, Rogovin's views were frequently, and ever more so, the object of sharp criticism. In 1985, a discussion occurred at the Institute of Sociology regarding a report produced by Rogovin and his research team about Soviet lifestyles. In it, Rogovin made openly critical comments about the anti-egalitarian impact of the shadow economy and the transfer of wealth through inheritance. It was sharply criticized by some of the Institute's top scholars, who both disagreed with its content and were nervous about the response it might get from the authorities. At the discussion, one such individual remarked:
The report by the author presented here has two basic failings: 1) it is inadequately self-critical; 2) the authors, and in particular, Rogovin himself, aren't appropriately thinking of the addressee to whom this report is directed. The report is going to the highest levels [of the Communist Party] and superfluous emotion is not necessary. The next criticism [I have] is about "unjustified inequality." In principle, there can be no such thing.
[ ] in the note to the TsK KPSS [Central Committee of the Communist Party] [ ] the recommendations [that you make] demand the utmost care in how you approach them, particularly those that relate to the "third economy" and taxes on inheritance. [There should be] a minimum of categoricalness and a maximum of conciliatoriness.
As the decade wore on, Rogovin began to adopt an ever more critical stance on perestroika , whose devastating economic consequences were increasingly showing themselves. Rather than bringing prosperity to the masses, Gorbachev's reforms created a total crisis in the state sector of the economy, exacerbating widespread shortages in food, clothing and other basic necessities. Economic growth declined from 1986 onwards. In 1989, inflation reached 19 percent, eroding the gains the population had made in income over the preceding years. As the scholar John Elliot noted, "When account is taken of additional costs, real per capita income and real wages probably decreased, particularly for the bottom half of the population. These costs included: deteriorating quality and unavailability of goods; proliferation of special distribution channels; longer and more time-consuming lines; extended rationing; higher prices and higher inflation-rates in non-state stores (e.g., collective farm market prices were nearly three times those in state stores in 1989); virtual stagnation in the provision of health and education; and the growth of barter, regional autarky, and local protectionism."
Newly established private enterprises had great leeway to set prices because they faced little to no competition from the state sector. They charged whatever the market would bear, which led to substantial increases in income inequality and poverty, with the most vulnerable layers of the population hardest hit. The changes were so severe that Elliot insists that "income inequalities had actually become greater in the USSR than in the USA." In the late 1980s, fully two-thirds of the Soviet population had an income that fell below the officially-recommended "decent level" of 100 to 150 rubles a month. At the same time, the shadow economy alone is estimated to have produced 100,000–150,000 millionaires in the late 1980s. By the early 1990s, one-quarter of the population or 70 million people were destitute according to official Soviet estimates. Miners' strikes and other signs of social discontent erupted across the country.
Sociologists were intimately aware of the growing popular discontent. The Communist Party bureaucracy called upon them to help manage the situation. In 1989, the director of the Institute of Sociology received a request from the highest layers of the Communist Party. He was asked to respond to a letter from a rank-and-file party member that expressed extreme hostility towards the country's "elites." The letter writer described the party as dominated by an "opportunist nucleus" and called for the waging of a "class war" by the working masses against their policies. The ideology division of the Central Committee of the Communist Party wanted the Institute's director to respond to the letter because the sentiments expressed in it were "widespread (representative) [sic] among the working class."Soviet economist and sociologist Genady Lisichkin
In the midst of these circumstances, Rogovin came under fire in one of the country's media outlets for articles he was writing against the promotion of social inequality. Since the mid-1980s, he had been championing the implementation of income declarations that would require people to report their full earnings, progressive taxes, and a socially-declared maximum income. Based on the amount of positive correspondence he was receiving from readers, it was clear that his views resonated with the population, a fact noted by Western scholars at the time. In a public press debate with the economist Gennady Lisichkin, the latter accused Rogovin of wanting to strengthen the hand of the bureaucracy and implied that he was a Stalinist. He was allegedly guilty of "Luddism," religious-like preaching, misquoting Marx to find support for his arguments, wanting the state to have the power to move people around "like cattle," defending a deficit-system of distribution based on "ration cards," suffering from "left-wing" infantilism, and being a "demagogue" and a "war communist." He attempted to link Rogovin to the very force to which he was most hostile -- Stalinism. The head of the Soviet Sociological Association, Tatiana Zaslavskaya, openly endorsed Lisichkin's positions.
The disagreements between Rogovin and other scholars over perestroika evolved into a fierce dispute about Soviet history and the nature of Stalinism. Rogovin identified a relationship between cheerleading for pro-market reforms and historical falsification. There was an increasingly widespread effort to link egalitarianism with Stalinism, the struggle for equality with political repression. In Was There an Alternative? , Rogovin frequently talked about the fact that the move towards a market economy was accompanied by the propagation of myths about Soviet history. This was one of those myths.
In 1991, Zaslavskaya co-authored a book that claimed that the Soviet Union's problems lay in the fact that in the late 1920s it abandoned the New Economic Policy (NEP), during which the government had loosened state control of the economy and restored market relations to an extent, in an effort to revitalize the economy under conditions of isolation, backwardness, and near economic collapse due to years of war. A one-sided and historically dishonest account of the NEP, this work did not contain any discussion of the political struggle that occurred during the NEP between Stalin and the Left Opposition over the malignant growth of inequality, the bureaucratization of the state and economy, and the crushing of inner-party democracy. The book skipped over this history because it would have cut across one of the central arguments made at the time in favor of perestroika -- that market relations were inherently at odds with the interests of the Communist Party bureaucracy. The book's account of labor policy under Stalin was also false. It insisted that during the 1930s revolutionary enthusiasm was the primary method used to stimulate people to work, ignoring the fact that income inequality rose substantially at this time. As the scholar Murray Yanowitch has pointed out, under Stalin "equality mongering" was labeled the brainchild of "Trotskyites, Zinovievites, Bukharinites and other enemies of the people."
In the 1980s, sociologists and other scholars promoting perestroika sought to imbue these policies with a humanitarian mission, insisting that market reforms would allow "the human factor," which had been crushed under the weight of bureaucratic stagnation, to rise again. The "human factor" was defined as man's desire for personal recognition through differentiated, material reward. It was supposedly the primary driver of human activity. To the degree that official wage policy in the USSR led to a relatively egalitarian distribution of social resources with wages leveled-out between skilled and unskilled labor, it flew in the face of man's desire for recognition of his own individual contribution. Rising inequality in income -- necessitated by the demands of socio-economic development -- was part of the process of "humanizing socialism." The argument was made that increasing social stratification would ultimately provide real "socialist justice."
As Tatiana Zaslavskaya claimed in 1990, "Despite all its limitations, the 'classical' market is, in fact, a democratic (and therefore anti-bureaucratic) economic institution. Within the framework of its exchange relationships, all participants are at least formally equal; no-one is subordinated to anyone else. Buyers and sellers act in their own interests and nobody can make them conclude deals they do not want to conclude. The buyers are free to select sellers who will let them have goods on the most advantageous terms, but the sellers too can chose buyers offering the best price."
In making this argument, scholars relied upon the official Soviet definition of socialism -- "from each according to his ability, to each according to his labor" -- that was enshrined in the country's 1936 constitution. This was also known as the Stalin constitution.
In 1988, Rogovin used the concept of the "human factor" to make a very different argument. In a piece entitled, "The Human Factor and the Lessons of the Past," he insisted that the defense of social inequality by the Soviet elite was one of the key reasons why the "human factor" had degenerated in the USSR. The very best elements of "the human factor" had been crushed by Stalin during the Terror. Corruption, disillusionment, parasitism, careerism and individual self-promotion -- the most distinctive features of the Brezhnev era -- were the "human factor" created by Stalinism. In promoting inequality and the market, Rogovin insisted, perestroika did not mark a break with Stalinism or the legacy of the Brezhnev era, as was so often claimed, but rather their further realization.
One year later he wrote, "The adherents of the new elitist conceptions want to see Soviet society with such a level of social differentiation that existed under Stalin but having gotten rid of Stalinist repression. It is forgotten that the debauched character of these repressions [ ] flowed from the effort to not simply restrain, but rather physically annihilate above all those forces in the party and in the country that, though silenced, rejected the social foundations of Stalinism."
After years of studying these questions in near-total isolation, Rogovin was finally able to write openly about this subject. He tested the waters by first publishing "L.D. Trotsky on Art" in August 1989 in the journal Theater . It was followed shortly thereafter by an article entitled "The Internal Party Struggles of the 1920s: Reasons and Lessons," also published in a journal outside of his discipline, Political Education . Moving closer to a forum likely to be followed by his colleagues in sociology, in early 1990 Rogovin published "L.D. Trotsky on NEP" in Economic Sciences . And finally, a few months later, "L.D. Trotsky on Social Relations in the USSR" came out in the flagship journal of his discipline, Sociological Research .
Rogovin's first article on the subject within his discipline reviewed Trotsky's role in Soviet history during the 1920s and summarized his seminal work, The Revolution Betrayed . It made clear to whom Rogovin fundamentally owed the views he had been advancing over the course of the previous decade.
Trotsky, however, continued to be vilified by Soviet officialdom. In 1987, on the 70th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, Gorbachev described Trotsky as "the arch-heretic of Soviet history, an 'excessively self-assured politician who always vacillated and cheated."
As a result of Rogovin's profound sympathies for Trotskyism and efforts to place his work in the tradition of the Left Opposition's critique of Stalinism, he was increasingly isolated from his colleagues, several of whom entered the Yeltsin administration and helped facilitate the eventual implementation of shock therapy, a key component of capitalist restoration in Russia. His discipline never forgave him for his intransigence and principles. One will find almost no mention of Rogovin or his contributions in the numerous monographs and other publications that have come out over the last 20 years about sociology in the USSR.
But Rogovin's isolation from Soviet sociology did not undermine his capacity to work. Rather, it coincided with the start of the publication of Was There an Alternative? In 1992, Rogovin met the International Committee of the Fourth International, and established a close political and intellectual relationship with the world Trotskyist movement that would intensify over the course of the next several years. This relationship was the basis upon which Rogovin made his immense contribution to the fight to defend Trotsky and historical truth. Two recently republished tributes to Rogovin by David North review this history.
Despite his death twenty years ago, through his work Rogovin continues his struggle to arm the working class with historical consciousness.