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American exceptionalism bulletin, 2020

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[Feb 24, 2020] US Intel Briefer Who Gave Overblown Russian Interference Assessment Has Reputation For Hyperbole

This is not "the reputation for hyperbole". This is attempt to defend the interests of MIC, including the interests of intelligence agencies themselves in view of deteriorating financial position of the USA. And first of all the level of the current funding. Like was the case in 2016 elections, the intelligence agencies and first of all CIA should now be considered as the third party participating in the 2020 election which attempts to be the kingmaker. They are interested in continuing and intensifying the Cold War 2, as it secured funding for them and MIC (of this they are essential part)
Notable quotes:
"... The official, Shelby Pierson, "appears to have overstated the intelligence community's formal assessment of Russian interference in the 2020 election, omitting important nuance during a briefing with lawmakers earlier this month," according to CNN . ..."
"... " The intelligence doesn't say that ," one senior national security official told CNN. "A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it's a step short of that. It's more that they understand the President is someone they can work with, he's a dealmaker." - CNN ..."
"... To recap - Pierson told the House Intelligence Committee a lie , which was promptly leaked to the press - ostensibly by Democrats on the committee, and it's just now getting walked back with far less attention than the original 'bombshell' headline received. ..."
"... No biggie... the media just ran with hysteria for 3 years as gospel accusing people of treason ..."
"... Well guess what? It turns out the media and the DNC were the ones working for Russia, executing their long standing goal to create chaos better than Russia could have ever dreamed of. https://t.co/PhrJiES9ui ..."
Feb 24, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

The US intelligence community's top election security official who appears to have overstated Russian interference in the 2020 election has a history of hyperbole - described by the Wall Street Journal as "a reputation for being injudicious with her words."

The official, Shelby Pierson, "appears to have overstated the intelligence community's formal assessment of Russian interference in the 2020 election, omitting important nuance during a briefing with lawmakers earlier this month," according to CNN .

The official, Shelby Pierson, told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election with the goal of helping President Donald Trump get reelected .

The US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and has separately assessed that Russia views Trump as a leader they can work with. But the US does not have evidence that Russia's interference this cycle is aimed at reelecting Trump , the officials said.

" The intelligence doesn't say that ," one senior national security official told CNN. "A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it's a step short of that. It's more that they understand the President is someone they can work with, he's a dealmaker." - CNN

Pierson was reportedly peppered with questions from the House Intelligence Committee, which 'caused her to overstep and assert that Russia has a preference for Trump to be reelected,' according to the report. CNN notes that one intelligence official said that her characterization was "misleading," while a national security official said she failed to provide the "nuance" required to put the US intelligence conclusions in proper context.

To recap - Pierson told the House Intelligence Committee a lie , which was promptly leaked to the press - ostensibly by Democrats on the committee, and it's just now getting walked back with far less attention than the original 'bombshell' headline received.

Sound familiar?

No biggie... the media just ran with hysteria for 3 years as gospel accusing people of treason

Well guess what? It turns out the media and the DNC were the ones working for Russia, executing their long standing goal to create chaos better than Russia could have ever dreamed of. https://t.co/PhrJiES9ui

-- Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 24, 2020

[Feb 23, 2020] Welcome to the American Regime

Highly recommended!
Feb 23, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

4 hours ago

Is America a 'regime'?

In the language of the American Oligarchy and it's tame and owned presstitutes on the MSM, any country targeted for destabilisation, destruction and rape – either because it doesn't do what America tells it do (Russia), because it has rich natural resources or has a 'socialist' state (Venezuela) or because lunatic neo-cons and even more lunatic Christian Evangelicals (hoping to provoke The End Times ) want it to happen (Syria and Iran) – is first labelled as a 'regime'.

That's because the word 'regime' is associated with dictatorships and human rights abuses and establishing a non-compliant country as a 'regime' is the US government's and MSM's first step at manufacturing public consent for that country's destruction.

Unfortunately if you sit back and talk a cool-headed, factual look at actions and attitudes that we're told constitute a regime then you have to conclude that America itself is 'a regime'.

So, here's why America is a regime:

4 hours ago

America's Military is Killing – Americans!

In 2018, Republicans (AND Democrats) voted to cut $23 billion dollars from the budget for food stamps (42 million Americans currently receive them).

Fats forward to 21 December 2019 and Donald Trump signed off on a US defense budget of a mind boggling $738 billion dollars.

To put that in context  --  the annual US government Education budget is sround $68 billion dollars.

Did you get that  --  $738 billion on defense, $68 billion on education?

That means the government spends more than ten times on preparations to kill people than it does on preparing children for life in the adult world.

Wow!

How ******* psychotic and death-affirming is that? It gets even worse when you consider that that $716 billion dollars is only the headline figure – it doesn't include whatever the Deep State siphons away into black-ops and kick backs. And .America's military isn't even very good – it's hasn't 'won' a conflict since the second world war, it's proud (and horrifically expensive) aircraft carriers have been rendered obsolete by Chinese and Russian hypersonic missiles and its 'cutting edge' weapons are so good (not) that everyone wants to buy the cheaper and better Russian versions: classic example – the F-35 jet program will screw $1.5 TRILLION (yes, TRILLION) dollars out of US taxpayers but but it's a piece of **** plane that doesn't work properly which the Russians laughingly refer to as 'a flying piano'.

In contrast to America's free money for the military industrial complex defense budget, China spends $165 billion and Russia spends $61 billion on defense and I don't see anyone attacking them (well, except America, that is be it only by proxy for now).

Or, put things another way. The United Kingdom spent £110 billion on it's National Health Service in 2017. That means, if you get sick in England, you can see a doctor for free. If you need drugs you pay a prescription charge of around $11.50(nothing, if unemployed, a child or elderly), whatever the market price of the drugs. If you need to see a consultant or medical specialist, you'll see one for free. If you need an operation, you'll get one for free. If you need on-going care for a chronic illness, you'll get it for free.

Fully socialised, free at the point of access, healthcare for all. How good is that?

US citizens could have that, too.

Allowing for the US's larger population, the UK National Health Service transplanted to America could cost about $650 billion a year. That would still leave $66 billion dollars left over from the proposed defense budget of $716 billion to finance weapons of death and destruction   --  more than those 'evil Ruskies' spend.

The US has now been at war, somewhere in the world (i.e in someone elses' country where the US doesn't have any business being) continuously for 28 years. Those 28 years have coincided with (for the 'ordinary people', anyway) declining living standards, declining real wages, increased police violence, more repression and surveillance, declining lifespans, declining educational and health outcomes, more every day misery in other words, America's military is killing Americans. Oh, and millions of people in far away countries (although, obviously, those deaths are in far away countries and they are of brown-skinned people so they don't really count, do they?).

Time for a change, perhaps?

[Feb 23, 2020] If you fire 70% of the admirals and generals you will increase the military capabilities of the US military by 40 percent

Feb 23, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

3 hours ago (Edited)

If you fire 70% of the admirals and generals you will increase the military capabilities of the US military by 40%.

They are incompetent hacks who are better on their knees in front of the MIC and Congress then they are on any battlefield.

At least during WWII we had less of them and no one was hesitant to fire at least some of them for incompetence. I say sum of them because many of the war hero generals needed to be removed including Bradly, Eisenhower, Halsey, Nimitz, and even MacArthur.

But today, no one gets fired for anything.

Literally they have a special class of MBA's being generals and and strategic thinkers and it has turned out to be a disaster for the military and the US.

An example by way of analogy is look at Boeing. How much better would Boeing be if they fired all the MBA's and replaced them with engineers who loved air planes. Boeing would make a lot less profit but its planes would be the best in the world.

[Feb 16, 2020] On American exceptionalism : America IS exceptional in many ways -- but exceptional does NOT always mean better

Feb 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

jackiebass , February 11, 2020 at 7:40 am

This isn't something new. The American people have been fed propaganda for decades to make them believe America was exceptional. It was the bed rock of our Imperialism. If you lookout at measures of well being, America was always down on the list in every category. About the only thing we led in was military spending. American exceptionalism was used as a tool to justify our bad behavior all over the planet. Our government is the biggest terror organization on the planet. We have killed or injured millions of people. All in the name of spreading democracy, something we actually don't have.

eg , February 11, 2020 at 1:21 pm

America IS exceptional in many ways -- but exceptional does NOT always mean better

[Feb 16, 2020] Developing Countries Showing America Up

Feb 11, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

A cynical school of thought holds that one reason America makes borders so unpleasant is to deter US citizens from traveling so as to preserve our sense of exceptionalism in the face of countervailing evidence. For instance, one colleague, a former city planner, came back from a vacation in the south of France and raved about how terrific the roads were. The Gilet Janues would assure him that in rural areas, they were neglected, but my contact's point was that even in affluent parts of the US, you couldn't find ones on a par with the ones he drove on his holiday. And I suspect that even the roads that are impediments to safe, fast driving in the depopulating parts of France are still better than those in Michigan .

But America is slipping even further. It used to be that it would come up short in infrastructure and social well being indicators compared to most European countries. We now have readers who are looking at what they see in the better parts of the developing world and are finding America coming up short.

Costa Rica has admittedly long been depicted as the Switzerland of Central America. It has become more and more popular with expats for at least the last 15 years. I visited there briefly on a client project in 1997. While the downtown section of San Josι looked worn, even there, the people on the street were neatly if modestly dressed. And when you went out to the suburbs, the country looked comfortable to prosperous, and it seemed as if citizens made an effort to keep their neighborhoods well kept, even in non-tourist sections. Oh, and the food was terrific, particularly the fish.

A more recent sighting from Eureka Springs:

Just returned from deep southern rural Costa Rica to rural N.W. Arkansas. Peace and quiet almost everywhere I go now. Unless it's my own noise (music) which could not bother another.

The entire trip was quite the reminder of just how third world we the peeps are nowadays.

Internet was so much better there. No satellite dishes, except as modifications to them for use as roadside trash receptacles. Still no rural wired net in the U.S.. Cell signals were strong everywhere, yet I never saw people glued to a phone.

Public trans, brand new buses all up and down the countryside. Even many miles down dirt roads. Fantastic bus stops. No such thing as public transit in rural U.S.

A lot of people drive efficient 150cc motorcycles. The large bus stops seem intentionally oversized by design to co-serve as a place to pull under during rain. How civilized.

Grocery stores with real food everywhere. No chain stores best I can tell. Unless in larger cities. And a shockingly smaller amount of trash packaging. I would say for the same amount of weekly grocery consumption I generate at least three if not five times more trash in the U.S. Seemingly every few hundred people, never more than a mile, usually much less, have a store with produce and meats. I'm seven miles from a dollar store, two more miles to actual groceries. About the same population density in both places.

And then there is health care for all vs give me all you got, we don't give a fk.

Don't know but would wager their water tests much better across the board as well. Nobody consumes plastic water bottles. Even very remote beaches had little shards of plastic all along the water line though. No escaping it.

Schools did not look like prison at all. Kids were kids, with cookie stands, a work ethic, bicycles, laughter, no apparent phones, lots of soccer, some dirt on their fingers and toes. And laughter.

Poor to middle working class people did not look miserable, unhealthy, guarded and or afraid.

The chickens, dogs and cats were abundant though not overly so, well fed, healthy, roaming free.

Police were calm, not dressed to kill with body language fitting the peace officer description. CR has no military.

We have a choice and we are making so many bad ones. I feel like so many of my fellow US citizens don't get this fact. And it's a shortcoming of Sanders types by failing to paint this vision/picture. Even they are trapped in the downward spiral, knowing no other way from experience.

And Expat2uruguay seems to have adapted well to her big relocation. Ironically her big lament seems to be the cuisine isn't terribly inspired and fish is hard to come by, but other advantages of living there seem to more than make up for it. From a recent report:

Since relocating to Uruguay I was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer. There was no bill whatsoever for the surgery. The entire cost of my entire treatment, including my monthly membership fee of $60 a month, was under $2,700.

That total includes 16 months of the monthly fee and all of my treatments, including six months of chemotherapy, 6 weeks of daily radiation, co-pays for medications and tests, $7 co-pays for doctor visits, and additional testing and consultation for heart damage caused by the chemotherapy. I also had a couple of problems during the chemotherapy that required visits to the emergency room, a four day hospital stay because of ultra-low defenses, and consultation in my home a couple times. They did a really good job, and they're very good at cancer treatment here.

But the very best thing about Uruguay is the peacefulness, the tranquility, the laid-back approach to life. My stress levels are way down from when I lived in the US.

Several factors are likely at work. One is, as we've pointed out from the very outset of this site, that unequal societies are unhappy and unhealthy societies. Even those at the top pay a longevity cost due to having shallower social networks, having a nagging awareness that most if not all of their supposed friends would dump them if they took a serious income hit (can't mix with the same crowd if you can't fly private class, can't support the right charities, can't throw posh parties) and having to think about or even building panic rooms.

Another is the precarity even at high but below top 1% levels: job insecurity, the difficulty of getting kids into good colleges and then paying for it when they do, along with attempting to save enough for retirement. Even with steering clear of costly divorces and medical emergencies, the supposed basics of a middle or upper middle income lifestyle add up in light of escalating medical, education, and housing costs. And then some feel they are entitled to or need to give their kids perks in line with their self image of their status, like fancy vacations.

And we don't need to elaborate on how hard it is for people who are struggling to get by. But it's not hard to see that the status and sometimes money anxiety at the top too readily translates into abuses of those further down the food chain to buck up their faltering sense of power and self worth. Anglo-style capitalism is often mean-spirited and that tendency seems particularly strong now.

Specifically, which developing countries that readers know well give the US a lifestyle run for the money? And I don't mean for for US expats bearing strong dollars but for ordinary people. And where do they fall short?


PlutoniumKun , February 11, 2020 at 6:32 am

Just some observations:

You need to be cautious sometimes in interpreting how life is in other countries. I've known people who moved to very orderly, prosperous countries like Japan, South Korea, Germany, Austria etc., and loved the first year or so and would rave about it, but would gradually become, if not disenchanted, but a little more aware as they became familiar of negative undercurrents – there always seems to be a price to be paid for having a very law abiding, neat orderly society. Likewise, moving to poorer, but more cheerful countries like Thailand or the Philippines, or perhaps Portugal/Greece also (for those people willing to learn the language and go deeper into the society, there is a downward curve as they discover the downside to the laid back attitudes and constant sunshine.

There is also the simple advantage of laggards – they can learn from other countries mistakes and skip a generation of technology. I recall foreign visitors to Ireland in the early 1990's raving about how good the phone system was. There was no magic to it – Ireland simply had fallen well behind, but invested in what was then the most up to date proven digital system in the late 1980's, without having to go through the process of an incremental upgrade. You find this in a lot of developing countries – I remember being amazed when travelling in Tibet about 15 years ago that there was near perfect mobile phone signals even in very remote areas. It was simply that it was cheaper for the Chinese to extend mobile masts before land lines, so it made sense to roll out a remote network, when in other more 'advanced' nations your signal died as soon as you hit some hills. Sometimes, economically, there is an advantage to just using old established infrastrure (decades old airports, etc), which function adequately, rather than spending billions on brand new facilities which can only be built with significant opportunity cost.

Anyway, having said all that, as a regular visitor to the US I've frequently been struck by just how poor the infrastructure can be, even in high tech places like New York. I don't think the trek out to JFK from Manhattan would be considered acceptable in any other major world city. And poor areas of the US do have a sort of shabbiness you don't see even in many countries that are unambiguously much poorer (much of Asia, for example). J.K Galbraith of course explained the reason for all this many decades ago when he wrote about private splendour and public squalor.

a different chris , February 11, 2020 at 12:05 pm

>and loved the first year or so and would rave about it, but would gradually become, if not disenchanted, but a little more aware

There's a rule of thumb for this, you must know as any expat will rattle it off for you:

1) The first year you love it beyond all words
2) The second year you hate everything with the heat of a thousand suns.
3) The third year on, it's just where you live.

The Rev Kev , February 11, 2020 at 6:43 pm

After WW2, Australia encouraged British people to emigrate out to here. It was called the Ten Pond Pom scheme as these emigrants would pay ten pounds but if they did not like it could return home while paying their own fares. But they had to be here a minimum of two years in order to get a ticket home free.

The British picked up a reputation as whingers as they said that this was not how things were done in England or that is not what we believe back home. Come the two year mark, many left to go back to the UK as they thought the place would be just like England but with more sun.

Funny thing was a very large section of them would after returning home start to remember why they left post-war Britain. Then they would work hard to save up their money to pay the full fare out to Australia for themselves and their families. The numbers were large enough to be a noticeable phenomena.

jrkrideau , February 13, 2020 at 5:52 pm

In Canada in the 1979's it was called the ten thousand pound cure -- it cost about 10,000b quid to return to the UK and come back to Canada.

Yves Smith Post author , February 12, 2020 at 4:47 am

I very much liked Sydney the two years I lived there. But I didn't succeed in getting permanent residence, so perhaps I had not quite settled psychologically.

Plus Australia and Canada are American-tolerant and require less adaptation than any other countries.

vlade , February 12, 2020 at 6:31 am

Not my experience (and I lived in four different countries on average 10 years each, and spent enough time in a couple of others to know more than a "tourist") – for me, it's always "place where you live" with advantages and disadvantages. Each place I lived in was special in its own way – and had some significant problems (often well hidden from an occasional traveller).

What I did see and considered interesting is that after the fall of communist regimes quite a few emigrants went home – and about half of those emigrated again within few years.

thene , February 11, 2020 at 4:42 pm

The 'advantage of laggards' is fairly well documented in the history of technology and especially of telecoms. If something sort of works where you are, you tend to keep using it, while laggards who never got the last generation of tech might pick up a cheaper-better-faster option that doesn't rely on existing infrastructure.

Do you remember the transitions from 1G to 2G to 3G cellphones? How that might have affected you depends on where you were based at the time; basically America did terribly with 2G infrastructure and adoption (remember when Americans had to pay for inbound calls??) whereas Europe handled it much better and thus gave birth to the SMS cultural/linguistic explosion, but then America's bad experience with 2G spurred them to embrace 3G.

Electronic health records are another example the US began adoption a long, long time ago – the most dominant US health records provider (Epic) was founded in the 1970s, and this is part of why the US has the worst electronic health records in the world. I was at a digital health event a few years ago where someone explained to the audience how EHR works in Zambia, and that it was stunningly superior to any American system.

And people get REALLY confused about this. They assume that because a country is 'developed' or 'hi tech' it must have some kind of first-mover advantage, whereas in many cases existing infrastructure forms a stultifying status quo that impedes further development. It's really hard to get your average American to accept that the countries in Asia that they like to look down upon have much better internet/telecoms and industrial tech than America does. I am forever fascinated to watch this technological leapfrogging happen, and I live in hope that the renewables boom leads to a wave of tech we haven't yet dreamed of emerging in Africa & other places that aren't yet choked by an anticompetitive status quo.

Michael , February 11, 2020 at 6:56 am

A big reason I've been living in Europe these last 25 years is because of my experience traveling in Andalucνa while living a comfortable life with a well-paying job in Silicon Valley. While not developing world by any common definition, this area is and was relatively poor and unemployment hovered around 20% unemployment and yet somehow people were always out enjoying the evening at bars (not to get drunk, but simply to socialize). Little evidence of homelessness. I lived in Spain for a number of years after/because of that experience. A friend from the US who frequently travels to Spain for work confirms he's never seen such road quality even in the poorest regions. I can attest that, for health care, I never saw a bill. The one time I ventured out of the gov network for a 2nd opinion from a private neurologist, the private expert confirmed the gov't doctor's diagnosis – in fact they knew each other and each respected the other's work.

Ignacio , February 11, 2020 at 8:37 am

Just hope you to enjoy it! I can endorse all that you wrote. This is not to say there are of course lot of problems and things badly done. There is in place a push for privatization like elsewhere in the EU. I knew the guy that many years ago was responsible for developing infrastructure foe primary attention in health care in Andalusia and they did a good job.

PlutoniumKun , February 11, 2020 at 9:33 am

Perhaps you can confirm this, but a doctor friend who briefly worked in Spain told me that the reason healthcare in Andalucia is so good is that it is in effect subsidised by northern European retirees. German and Dutch systems are happy to pay (lower) Andalucian prices for retired people in the South of Spain, while the local system uses the money to make a better system for everyone. I've never heard any traveller I know say anything bad about southern Spanish health care.

Ignacio , February 11, 2020 at 10:54 am

I don't know about this. In the early 80s, with good old days PSOE governing, is when the primary attention was designed and it was done quite well. That is what I can say first hand because I met people involved and heard good critics by outsiders. When you have public servants who are capable and want to do things correctly

Calvin , February 11, 2020 at 1:20 pm

When I'm told "I haven't met my deductible or that a procedure isn't covered" I get down on my knees and thank God I'm an American.
This is what freedom feels like!

Burns , February 11, 2020 at 7:31 am

Taiwan. Cost.of living is generally cheap unless you're buying property, which can get pricey. But, rent is generally low, food is very low and mostly healthy (they dont put much sugar in their stuff compared to America), healthcare isn't free for non-citz but still stupid cheap compared to America and top quality, crime is very low (second lowest crime rate in the world after Japan) and you get to experience real Chinese culture instead of PRC propaganda. I could go on but those are the highlights for me. I view it as a truly civilized society, although it no doubt has it's own problems. I encourage everyone i know to visit.

PlutoniumKun , February 11, 2020 at 9:39 am

I cycled a little around Taiwan 10 years ago – it is a very well functioning country, very safe and friendly with quite a distinct culture somewhere between China and Japan (lots of Japanese retirees go to Taiwan). Public transport is excellent, the cities have good facilities and there are lovely surf beaches in the south – the mountains are amazing, especially when you have cheap hot spring resorts everywhere.

The only negative is that probably because of their history many Taiwanese are super sensitive of anything that could be construed as criticism (even jokes). Oh, and that the towns and cities are incredibly ugly, even by most Asian standards. So much was just thrown up during the years of expansion, it will take a generation or two to make things a little better.

They do have some infrastructure problems though, mainly because of their location right in the path of some of the worst storms the Pacific can throw at any island – entire main roads get completely washed away very regularly.

thene , February 11, 2020 at 4:45 pm

It's not the Japanese retirees, it's the history of Japanese colonial occupation.

Much love to Taiwan. Really hope to spend more time there in the future.

Lindsay Berge , February 11, 2020 at 7:42 pm

The National Palace Museum is one of the great cultural treasures of the world and better than the British Museum in my opinion. A must see option for anyone visiting Taipei.

Stratophile , February 14, 2020 at 3:29 am

Burns:

I've been here for 30 years. Your broad strokes are largely correct but leave out a lot of fine detail. One small point is sugar:

Taiwanese puts TONS of sugar in drinks -- coffee, tea, all the traditional summer drinks, snacks/chips of any kind. When you go to a 500cc place for a drink, they even have a chart so you can choose how much sugar you want -- regular (= high), medium, and low (30% of the normal).

Coffee or tea at 7-11 and Family Mart is always powdered and includes powdered creamer and sugar.

As for food, Taiwanese LOVE garlic and leeks and are not averse to throwing in a lot of salt. Not to mention the cooking oil -- lard or vegetable -- that remains on anything that's been stir fried.

And Taiwanese LOVE deep fried food, traditional as well as MacDonald's.

As for "real Chinese culture," watch out for that since many Taiwanese do NOT consider themselves Chinese, and many Chinese (PRC) and overseas Chinese look down on Taiwanese as somewhat low class.

jackiebass , February 11, 2020 at 7:40 am

This isn't something new. The American people have been fed propaganda for decades to make them believe America was exceptional. It was the bed rock of our Imperialism. If you lookout at measures of well being, America was always down on the list in every category. About the only thing we led in was military spending. American exceptionalism was used as a tool to justify our bad behavior all over the planet. Our government is the biggest terror organization on the planet. We have killed or injured millions of people. All in the name of spreading democracy, something we actually don't have.

eg , February 11, 2020 at 1:21 pm

America IS exceptional in many ways -- but exceptional does NOT always mean better

a different chris , February 11, 2020 at 8:12 am

>America makes borders so unpleasant is to deter US citizens from traveling

And if you do escape, and if you do bring back stories of how much better so many things are in said other country, you are lectured to as how the US "protects their freedom" and if it wasn't for the fruits of your labor being mostly directed into trying to get the F35 to work that other country* would certainly have already been completely overrun by Communists! So shutupshutupshutup.

*which is generally described as "ungrateful".

Colonel Smithers , February 11, 2020 at 9:44 am

An American friend and former colleague, now a UK citizen and regulator, amused us with a story of how she was harangued at JFK for no longer living in the US when she began travelling on her UK passport.

Ignacio , February 11, 2020 at 11:04 am

A friend of mine, a business man, has always problems at JFK because his surname coincides with that of a Colombian drug dealer. He is always directed to a room and stays there for hours until they let him free (always equals two times to my knowledge).

Colonel Smithers , February 11, 2020 at 11:33 am

Thank you, Ignacio.

My Sevillana BFF, now based in NYC, has the same problem. Apparently her name is the most common for mules.

thene , February 11, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Oh gosh, that happened to my spouse once at an airport in the UK – he shares a surname with a Middle Eastern political leader.

BlueMoose , February 11, 2020 at 4:29 pm

My wife and I got lectured several years ago coming through Atlanta from Europe to visit family in the states by the homeland Security agent. My wife hadn't renewed her green card and was travelling on her Canadian passport. She has Polish/Canadian citizenship. I had to really bite down hard on my lip during the lecture because I did not want to miss our connecting flight. I told the agent since we were not planning to move back to the US, there was no need to waste so much money on renewing the card. Finally, I asked: are Canadian passport holders still allowed to enter the country? And if so, can we go now?

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 6:02 pm

The worst border crossings are always upon entering the States. The pointless shouting and general vacuousness of the security – certain indications that you're back among the Free – are comical to a point, until one sees how intimidated the Fins or whoever you flew in with are by this uncivilized chaos. I've apologized more than once on behalf of my country to a nice, non-English speaking non-terrorist being pointlessly harrassed by 'security'.

Kaleberg , February 11, 2020 at 8:32 pm

US Customs were always terrible. When I was a kid, we'd go down to the recently named JFK airport and watch the customs lines from the glassed in gallery above. I remember one agent finding some liqueur chocolates and jumping up and down on them. I didn't know adults did stuff like that.

Bern , February 15, 2020 at 2:04 pm

Alternate experience mine:
While in Lebanon and Syria in 2004, bought a kilo of zatar, had it wrapped in multiple layers of plastic to preserve it, stuffed it in luggage and forgot about it. Upon returning to the states, went thru customs in SF. Agent said "what ya got in the bags?" We said "nothin". He said "open up anyway" so I did. When he got to the bottom and found the (forgotten) spice he pulled it out and looked at me, and I laughed, and told him what it was. He said "Yeah, whatever", put it back in the bag and sent us on our way

Oh , February 11, 2020 at 11:13 am

I grimace when I hear that we are part of a "free world". Ever since 9/11 there have so many curbs on our freedom and the mass surveillance by the 3 letter agencies and corporations make a mockery of the term.

oaf , February 11, 2020 at 8:19 am

Thank you for publishing this delightful article. What a shame that most U.S citizens get their conceptualization of the rest of the world from MSM. A friend lived and worked in various parts of Africa for years; he told me that when he announced plans to return *home*, his African companions asked him "why? its SO DANGEROUS THERE!!!"
My sister's companion-with family in Israel- describes our local ( in upper Northeast U.S.) hospitals as: like something from a 3rd world country
There is nothing like immersion to generate understanding and appreciation for other places, people, and lifestyles.

eg , February 11, 2020 at 1:25 pm

I had drinks with a US professor from Iowa last week and he expressed how surprised and impressed he was with Canadians' interest in and knowledge of US and world affairs. I gave him a version of Trudeau pere's line -- "when you are the mouse sleeping alongside an elephant, it behooves you to pay attention to every twitch "

LifelongLib , February 11, 2020 at 1:50 pm

Many years ago a public radio station here in Hawaii would broadcast a Canadian radio show "As It Happens". I was struck that the host could (say) mention the name of a politician or government official and just assume that the audience knew who they were. Of course I don't know who the target audience in Canada would have been, but very few broadcasts in the U.S. can count on their audience being that well informed

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Other countries have to pay attention to what goes on in the USA, as the saying goes, when the USA sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. I recall being impressed in Jamaica with how knowledgeable some local people were about world events, people were pretty up-to-date about African politics, US politics, etc.

sporble , February 11, 2020 at 8:46 am

Berlin, Germany – not exactly developing world. Met a German woman while backpacking in SE Asia in '95, came here in '96, been here ever since, got German citizenship (along with US) in 2017.

Berlin is a bit like NYC in that each city is special, and neither is a particularly representative sample of what the rest of the country is like. So with that caveat: The stress level here seems much lower than in the US; there's great public transport, perhaps the world's strongest privacy and employee-rights laws and not much fear of violence (from fellow citizens or police). And there is no reason for anyone to lack health insurance: everything is covered, with extremely small out-of-pocket expenses and health care is excellent.

That said, neoliberalism's ravages can be felt here, too: wages have been stagnant for 20+ yrs and German politicians are obsessed with "das schwarze Null" (literally, "the black zero"; i.e. "being in the black" or "getting out of the red"). Rents have skyrocketed and not nearly enough affordable/govt housing has been built in the past 20+ yrs.

Among the people I know/deal with, precarity seems basically non-existent, perhaps as a result of everyone knowing that govt welfare/etc. – from which people can live without fear of homelessness, losing their health insurance or going hungry – is available as a last resort, though the housing situation is getting quite precarious.

All in all, I'm very happy and grateful to be able to live here. As a freelancer, I don't benefit from it, but I still think vacation policy here is fantastic: all employees get at least 4 wks off in total (everyone I know gets at least 5 wks) + each employee is entitled to take a 3-wk-long vacation.

Misery , February 12, 2020 at 2:32 am

Unfortunately, there is enough misery in Germany to even have a weekly tv-series about it Armut in Deutschland = Poverty in Germany divided in the all too common categories: Old people poverty, Child poverty, Working poor etc.

Another thought, when discussing poverty it is really important to consider that the psychology (seeing that you cannot afford anything) and physiology (not affording good food so you get fat from salt, fat, sugar-based food from Lidl) of poverty is relative: you compare yourself with the people that you are surrounded by and purchasing power is relative to the country where you live.

https://www.zdf.de/doku-wissen/kinderarmut-in-deutschland-126.html

oliverks , February 11, 2020 at 8:50 am

I was in a very non touristy part of Jamaica last year. The roads were pretty poor, with sections washed out. I would say the overall quality of roads was lower than the USA. In fact they were so bad, bit of plastic started falling off my rented car.

However, people were much happier. Just for starters, the rental agency was completely fine with a few bits of plastic that shook loose. No problem!

The food was fantastic, and inexpensive. The market in the local town just sold meat without any refrigeration. This is Jamaica, it was hot. Yet the market smelled fresh, the meat looked amazing, it was clean. Everything just moves so quickly there seems to be no time for stuff to go off. The veggies were amazing and plentiful.

The school children seemed to wear uniforms. They hung out together. They socialized and talked and well seemed like children. Engaged and full of life.

There was a funeral in a building near by us, and they chanted and sung all night until sun up. That meant it was a little loud (as out place didn't have any glass in the windows). It was sometime haunting, sometimes joyful, but people really celebrated the life that had passed.

The younger people, say less than 30, were all very tall. It seems like nutrition and health must have improved a lot over the last 30-40 years, as the old were much shorter.
So I wouldn't call it first world by any stretch, but you could do much much worse in many parts of the USA.

Ignacio , February 11, 2020 at 11:18 am

I witnessed a funeral in Belize and was similar experience. On the other side of the road some guys having fun playing soccer barefooted. Mosquitoes make Belize the hell if not in the shore where wind keeps them apart.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 3:16 pm

I spent a lot of time in Jamaica in the late 80s and early 90s. It was life-changing for me in that I was not a particularly happy person at that time, and it was the first time I had spent time in a so-called 3rd world or developing country. I met people in Jamaica who had nothing compared to most Americans, but they were happier than I was. This even though I was on top of the food chain, being a white American male. It made me rethink a lot of stuff. I agree about the food there, I loved it, and the people too.

There is a dark side to Jamaica however, which you will come upon if you stay there for a longer amount of time. I don't know what part of JA you were in, perhaps a small town or in the countryside? It can be very pleasant in the country, but I spent a lot of time in Kingston, and there is some of the worst poverty in the hemisphere there. Better than Haiti and some other places, but still pretty harsh. Lots of unwed teenage pregnancies (younger teens), with the fathers MIA. A lot of homophobia and macho attitudes. Politics can become violent. There are also some serious environmental issues, and climate change will not be kind to the West Indies.

oliverks , February 11, 2020 at 5:15 pm

I was vacationing and stayed in the blue mountains away from Kingston or tourists. I have heard Kingston can be rough, and crime can be a problem in other big cities. The biggest touristy place we spent any time in was Port Antonio, and I never felt unsafe or threatened there. I didn't even see that many tourists there but we were off season.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 7:23 pm

Port Antonio is very nice, I stayed there for a few days. It's not all built-up like Montego Bay and Negril, etc.

carl , February 11, 2020 at 8:50 am

I have a passing familiarity with Colombia of late. Although the minimum wage is low, employers are required to provide such benefits as vacation, sick leave and payments into the pension system. In addition, workers are eligible to visit special holiday facilities for recreation and relaxation. Unlike in my US city, in which public transportation is infrequent and inconvenient, Medellin has an overhead heavy rail system. There is a public healthcare system, which is good at covering basic needs, and a private one which, while less affordable for ordinary people, is of European standards of quality. Although admittedly the country has been wracked by violence in past years and there's still much inequality, people are happy and friendly.
Note: my Colombian in the family approved this message.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 3:53 pm

I have a friend (not a wealthy person by any means) who lives in Lima Peru with his Peruvian wife and their young daughter, and he loves it there.

carl , February 11, 2020 at 6:08 pm

Peru is an amazing country: beautiful scenery, amazing food, inexpensive, and nice people. I sprained my ankle last year in Lima and deliberately found the most expensive clinic in Lima to treat it. English-speaking doctor, full x-rays, medication and foot bandage put on by the doctor herself. Total: $200 US.
Pro tip: get your prescription glasses in Arrequipa. There's at least 500 optical stores in the historic center. Super cheap.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 7:25 pm

I have another friend who relocated to Ecuador along with his girlfriend. He's a retired optometrist and gives away hundreds of reading glasses to the locals, who much appreciate them.

tegnost , February 11, 2020 at 8:50 am

Regarding highway infra, in the PNW at least any new improved road gets tolled so that it is actually made for the people who can pay the tolls. I'm certain this makes zero tax amazon happy
Oh Look!
https://thetollroads.com/help/faq/469

two tiered society Interstates limited to self driving delivery/important people in 3 2

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 3:51 pm

The interstate toll lanes on I-405 are terribly undemocratic. Regular working commuters who can't afford the toll passes are forced into three over-crowded lanes, while in the two left toll lanes the BMW & Lexus drivers zip on by. I'm guessing a bunch of the wealthy tech people east of Lake Washington used their clout to get that accomplished.

Ford Prefect , February 11, 2020 at 8:58 am

I spent some time in Costa Rica. Everybody seemed quite happy. The impression that I had was its government actually liked its people and was not afraid of them. The people seemed to return the sentiment.

There may be a lesson in that for the US.

carl , February 11, 2020 at 9:58 am

Costa Rica has the highest level of education and lowest birthrate in Central America; no standing military since 1948. Not a cheap country to live in anymore, compared to the rest of Central and South America, and rampant theft problems (probably because of very light penalties for such), but on the whole, you could do a lot worse.

Colonel Smithers , February 11, 2020 at 9:42 am

Mauritius, whence my parents came, is worth considering. The standard of living is good for most people, especially if qualified or with particular manual skills. The average salary is nearing USD12k pa.

Public services are well funded by the government and free at the point of delivery.

It's interesting to observe how many migrants who are not francophone and do not specialise in the island's four pillars, financial services, textiles / light manufacturing, tourism and agriculture (including power generation by sugar mills) are now making the island their home, not just for a secondment of some years. I have come across Italian jockeys and tilers, doctors and teachers, IT specialists, hotel managers and other staff from around the world.

There's a good mix of accommodation. One need not live in a gated community. These were in the main designed to part South Africans and even French from their money, a ploy that appears to be working such is the amount of construction that would not look out of place in the south of France or US sun belt. The island is safe.

Myjobs.mu lists vacancies.

The Rev Kev has visited the island and can provide further insight.

oliverks , February 11, 2020 at 10:46 am

Myjobs.mu doesn't seem to be working for me. Are you sure that's the correct address

Oliver

Colonel Smithers , February 11, 2020 at 11:34 am

Thank you, Oliver.

My mistake. It's https://www.myjob.mu/ .

Colonel Smithers , February 11, 2020 at 12:41 pm

Thank you, Oliver.

It's myjob.mu. My mistake earlier.

The Rev Kev , February 12, 2020 at 2:35 am

Thank you for the shout out Colonel. I must admit that I visited Mauritius during my salad years some forty years ago so I will try to recreate my impressions from that distant era. After spending several weeks in the waning apartheid days of South Africa, I found Mauritius exotic to say the least. Whereas the cultural boundaries of SA were fairly firm, I found Mauritius to have a kaleidoscope of different cultural elements such as English, French, Indian and Creole and you would never know what part you would encounter next. The parts I saw in my brief time were of great beauty and I remember thinking that it would take months to explore all the different parts there.

Colonel Smithers , February 12, 2020 at 6:37 am

Thank you, Kev.

You should return and compare how things have changed. Also, please visit Rodrigues, the one of the world's least known islands and a delight.

The island really took off in the 1980s, once the generation that led the island to independence was turfed out in a landslide and the IMF bitter medicine of 1979 had been overcome.

The island has become more cosmopolitan since. One example is the 10K plus South Africans on the island. Afrikaans is often spoken on the west coast.

Unfortunately, the environmental decay is also plain for all to see.

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 11:58 am

Tho easily discernable, I hesitate a bit to name what has become the truest home I've known, as I can recall what Prague was like 20 years ago compared to the mini-Paris it became after tourists got ahold of it (major crime increase, higher costs of living, general succumbing to the european monoculture, as has happened throughout europe).

In any event, life is better (to my taste) outside NATO-aligned countries & the Schengen zone. Glad that the military jets I hear and see are Russian, as is the base. I was stunned when first arriving to see children happy, safe, walking the streets of their city without a need for adult accompaniment. In fact, the children and elderly people here restore my faith in humanity. When the initial newness wears off after a year or so, it just gets better in terms of comprehending the culture and enjoying the people, along with seeing the problems more clearly. I lived for extended periods in Germany, Portugal, Denmark too, enjoyed each place (far and away higher quality of genuine living than in the US), but indeed there is a certain pretension to false happiness there, no need for that here, as the wheels came off long ago, thus humor, family, friendship and other pillars for endurance are stronger, softer, more genuine.

On occasion, I've done some teaching here (ain't never been no trust-fund traveler, pshaw!), and students (good Syrians and Iranians in the mix with the sweet locals) are shocked when I answer their questions honestly about how America treats its elderly, how much education costs, gun violence, police brutality, the general state of the family, etc.

There is a difficulty in getting paid fairly, tho that's largely nothing new comparatively. One must write or edit an article or 2 each month for a company based outside the local economy if one hopes to sustain oneself; I've been fortunate in this regard. An average person here relies on their family; all work together to survive. Conditions can be spartan (tho again, compared to what?), but the things that make one endure and appreciate the substance of life are in no short supply.

And the food is off the charts – affordable and healthy, as it should be everywhere.

Literature and traditional music are living currency here, as is respect in general. May it always be so.

deplorado , February 11, 2020 at 2:47 pm

Armenia?

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 5:06 pm

Chishte (correct).

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 3:56 pm

I'm curious as to your feelings about Portugal, as we have considered it as a place to live. I've had a lot of friends visit, but don't know anyone who has lived there for an extended period.

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 5:49 pm

My feelings of profound love for Portugal and the Portuguese are of course difficult to summarize, but suffice to say I preferred it to Germany or Denmark, tho it didn't quite suit me as well as Armenia does. The primary ways I relate to a country initially are through its literary and musical traditions, and the Portuguese soul's expressions are deeply beautiful, poetic, and retained.

I spent two years there, in Sintra and in Porto. Sintra is paradisiacal, Porto a hidden gem becoming increasingly well-known. Drawbacks for me were the same as in all Europe: a political bent toward following their NATO masters/western propaganda/Hollywood, and, on the street level, more crime (tho not too bad) and agressive drug dealers, things you just don't see in Yerevan (and used to not see in Prague). But on the whole, many friends became like family there, it's less expensive than the mainstream hubs of Europe, and the Moorish impact, coupled with modern migration from north Africa, results in a vivacity and a fluid, positive moroseness I'd not experienced before. The microclimates are dynamically diverse and well worth experiencing. Certain flowers and mountain mists never evaporate from the mind.

Plenty of retirees from wealthier countries set themselves up there quite comfortably, but those people are rarely part of my experience.

Ignacio , February 12, 2020 at 5:25 am

Same feelings here! When you compare Portuguese and Spanish the biggest difference you find, apart from language is in politeness.

hoki haya , February 12, 2020 at 6:16 am

Having a decent grasp of Spanish, I was surprised it lent itself to a less intuitive grasp of Portuguese than I imagined it would. Both languages are beautiful, with Portuguese being softer in an expressively melodic way.

And yes, I agree, the politeness, dignity, ease-in-the-body qualities found in people there is, in my experience, second only to the grace that operates as the norm for conduct here in Armenia. Many similarities between the two – the unbreakable importance of the family, the style and role of humor, the rightful place literature and music inhabit in one's soul and disposition, etc. My Portuguese friends felt at home here, as if meeting heretofore unknown cousins for the first time.

Nothing against Spain, tho – it was my first love and destination. Catalonia. But yes, in general, interactions were more formal and businesslike there, less relaxed than when inside the generous, creative calm (including explosive boisterousness!) of Portuguese.

carl , February 11, 2020 at 6:11 pm

We visited the southern coast of Portugal last year to explore the idea of moving there. It was not a success: too many Brit expats, more expensive than we'd been told, and the real estate market is completely crazy. The country itself merits a look.

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Indeed, the Alentejo has become overblown, party central, prime strips for the elite, etc. If one can brave the less glamorous climes, such as Sintra's winters of cold rain and bonechilling fog, there are delicacies to be enjoyed at half the cost, in the north as well. I look forward to returning many times.

I'm recalling Jerez, now, up-north mountain-land with its own unique mythology, where local drivers (on fine if narrow roads) have more frequent trouble encountering a bull or flocks upon flocks of chickens than oncoming automotive traffic. I think one bull drove us backward for half a kilometer.

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 7:10 pm

*geres, not jerez, tho they sound nearly the same.

Calvin , February 11, 2020 at 1:10 pm

"They hate us for our freedoms" ; to be strip searched at the airport, toasted with the skin cancer X-ray machine, have our devices downloaded, license plates scanned on the way home, the data sold to an advertiser, to have to pay mandatory fraudulent medical "insurance," borrow money at 29% to pay for medical needs, lose our homes to other scams, have to compete in the job market with imported peons, that we subsidize with tax dollars, then see over half of our tax dollars go to losing wars and to subsidize billion dollar corporations and then be told it's to protect us against the "terrorists".

Still a pretty good country and the only one we have, so it's worth fighting for.

Expat2Uruguay , February 11, 2020 at 1:33 pm

I have lived in Uruguay for 4 years now. The things that are much better here than in California are public transportation, internet service, culture, and small business penetration. I can walk a half a block to a small store that's open several hours a day. I can walk 4 blocks to a store that's open 12 hours a day. I can walk ten blocks to a full-on mall with a large grocery store. There's also one or more bakeries, butchers, vegetable sellers, hardware stores, barbers/hair stylists, and restaurants galore within a quarter-mile radius. And I live in a quiet neighborhood! Oh, there are also three fantastic beaches within a 20 minute walk of my house. I love my location!

Society here is very laid-back, parents are indulgent of their children and it is legal to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana in the public places and streets, But don't drink and drive, there is no legal limit, aka zero tolerance. Yet culture is vibrant here. There's an excellent music scene with lots of low-cost or free live music. Jazz, blues, and electronica are surprisingly popular. There are people who play music on the bus for donations, and not just guitar players, but also saxophone players, operatic singers, rappers, violinists, and accordion players. There are people that meet weekly in the downtown area to dance tango on the sidewalk. There are almost weekly practices all over the city of Candombe, which involves large groups of synchronized dancers and drummers parading through the streets for an hour or two. There are so many beautiful parks large and small all over the city where lovers kiss, families play and groups of friends drink mate or beer and often smoke marijuana. There are 50 museums in Montevideo, and at least 35 of them are free. The ones that cost money are less than $10 and usually include a tour. There are ballets, symphonies and lots of theaters, all of which are very inexpensive. They love sports here and are quite interested in maintaining physical fitness. Lots of soccer balls getting kicked, volleyball games on the beach and bicyclist and runners on the Rambla. The Rambla! It's a UNESCO world heritage site that goes for 20 miles along the beach, a wide paved Boardwalk that is very popular when the weather is nice, especially during sunsets. Full disclosure, the beach is for a river, a really huge river – You can't even see the other side. On the other side of the river is Buenos Aires, just in case you get a hankering for a big city. Or you could travel a few hours to Punta Del Este, playground of the Rich and Famous.

But Uruguay is relatively expensive, the most expensive country in South America. This is not a place where you're going to come and live like a king among the peasants. The prices in restaurants and grocery stores are similar to the prices I paid in Sacramento, California. But the wages here are much less. So this is a good place if you can get your income from somewhere else As a retired person or a remote teleworker. But, oddly, even though the locals here struggle with the difference between wages and prices, it's quite common for them to have second houses along the coast that they go to during their frequent vacations. It's also typical to employ a house cleaner.

Uruguay is a small country, with three million people and half of them live in the capital city of Montevideo. Because of this, nearly everyone here knows everyone else. Uruguay is the safest country in South America with the largest middle class and least income inequality, along with being the most stable economically and politically. People here enjoy discussing politics, and voting in elections is mandatory. But what about the downsides? There are some. First off, you're not going to be able to order a bunch of stuff on Amazon. In fact, you're going to have to give up on finding many of the spices and foods and little trinkets that you're used to acquiring in the US. Consumers beware! Also, flights back to the US or destinations outside of South America are very expensive. And, because it's so laid back, it's difficult to find good workers on household projects or to get good service in a restaurant or at a public counter. You just have to be really patient. Finally, the sidewalks are a mess! Since each resident is responsible for the sidewalk in front of their own house or business, sometimes they can get be a bit dangerous if you don't watch your step. You wouldn't want to scoot around on one of those elderly mobility scooters here! And then there's the dog poop and the trash Oh, well, no place is perfect!

I'm sorry, this is so long, I usually don't talk much about my life here, especially on Facebook, because I don't want to cause resentment and look like I'm bragging, but today I'm making an exception, obviously.
(By the way, I'm happy to host visitors, In fact, I let couchsurfers stay in my home for free.)

Expat2Uruguay , February 11, 2020 at 1:39 pm

Wow, apparently I spent two hours writing that!

EMtz , February 11, 2020 at 2:10 pm

Thank you!

Lorenzo , February 11, 2020 at 5:29 pm

thank you. I visited for vacations once as a teen, I hope I can spend more time there in the future. All the best from Buenos Aires :)

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 7:04 pm

Thank you Very much for taking time to share this detailed, valuable account, and all respect to your journey.

EMtz , February 11, 2020 at 2:03 pm

Central Mιxico. Year 4. In spite of the crime I like it here and would not go back to the US. The culture is rich and deep, and the aesthetic is quite refined. The food! The amazing natural beauty. And the colors! And the biodiversity! There is a balanced perspective on life, not the despair or rage that increasingly underly US culture. I live simply and modestly, and find my Social Security can almost pay all of my monthly expenses. My stress levels have dropped tremendously and my BP is at levels I haven't seen in 40 years. Quite honestly, I'm ramping up my Spanish so I can pass my citizenship test and may renounce my US citizenship because I am fed up with having my hard earned $$ underwrite corporate welfare and killing people. I've embraced Mιxico as my home and am grateful to have been welcomed in return. Coming here is far and away one of the best things I've ever done.

PuntaPete , February 11, 2020 at 2:49 pm

After his famous rant about people coming to the U.S. from "shit-hole" countries in Africa and other developing countries, Trump asked why more people from, say Norway, were not emigrating to the U.S. I may have missed it, but I don't remember any politician or anyone with a public voice telling him, "Look, Mr. President, compared to the other two dozen or so advanced industrial countries the United States is a shit-hole country".

Acacia , February 11, 2020 at 5:36 pm

As I started reading this article, Trump's comment applied to the US was my first thought.

deplorado , February 11, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Bulgaria, observations from one of the two big cities on the Black Sea coast:
– excellent bus service across the city, from airport to industrial zone; articulated airconditioned busses, everyone uses them, young people read books while riding, space for mothers to latch strollers, doors are wide and steps low so mothers in fact prefer the bus to using personal vehicle
– municipal children's kitchen: delivers free to a local distribution booth 2 meals 5 times a week at very low cost by local standards, or free for families with large number of children 1-3yrs. The meals are home-cooked level, tasty and healthy, delivered in your own glassware (like used pickle jars for example – simple!) – so no throwaway plastic. Ive tried private kitchens, quality was lower and cost 2-3 times higher
– a very large city park along the beach starting just off downtown – one of the best things in the whole country actually: it's everyone's family playground – old and young, there is a new public pool, carnival booths, restaurants, fish stands, icecream stands, open air theater, public hall overlooking the beach, restaurant and club on the beach – for the wide public, not exclusive, in the evening young and old dress up and take walks leasurely and just talk and hang out
– the city is dense and everything is walking distance, within a 20 min walk you will pass by every service that a life needs, from a hospital to police to stadium and trainstation and cobler, not to mention stores and restaurants

Downsides:
– like Uruguay and other similarly positioned countries, incomes of working people are generally low for the local living costs. However most people own a home (I think ~80% or even more) – and with low birthrates many inherit more than one funcitonal home – so that helps a lot. For someone on a US SS check, average I think ~$1300 a month, is plenty for TWO. Local professionals earning the equivalent of $40-50k a year, especially a 2 such income households, live a higher and less stressful standard of living than any tech professional I know in coastal US (not to mention 4 weeks mandatory paid time off).

– lots of professionals – doctors particularly – leave for Western EU countries where they earn more, particularly specialists; for GP's though, staying can be much better as they still make a decent living and only refer people for anything more serious than a cold

In general, I think Bulgaria is good for retired expats if you pick a good spot like the city I described, unless you have a serious health issue which requires specialists, and those may not be available in Bulgaria. But even for things like stents, even cardiac surgery, MRI scans, those are done now and by doctors who specialized or were educated in the UK, Germany or the like – so the issue is more general infrastructure and availability, rather than quality (cost is a fraction of US costs, even paying out of pocket)

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 7:24 pm

Appreciate this account. The 'bus-culture' sounds similar to Yerevan's; it makes public transport truly a pleasurable part of one's day (tho we do have the dreaded, indefatigable marshrutkas – are they used in Bulgaria?).

The municipal children's kitchen! I wonder why there isn't something comparable here, tho I've seen scant evidence of anyone going hungry. One always shares with one's neighbors: part of the built-in, practiced and practical ethic.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 3:35 pm

I was pretty impressed with the infrastructure I saw in China 20 years ago. Brand-new airports and train stations, good new highways mostly, although I saw some failed projects on the island of Hainan, where the roads were like a bad roller coaster, it seemed like a proper bed was not laid down before paving. (I was told that the guys who built those roads had skimmed off the highway budget to line their own pockets, and were later shot for doing so.)

Malaysia looked good too when we were there for 10 days, and inexpensive. Most Malaysians speak English which is nice for visitors, and they have one of the best retirement visa progams.

Thailand's infrastructure is getting better all the time, we were there for more of 2012, and the way you could cheaply get around Bangkok amazed me. A city of 11,000,000 people, but most of the public transport was very well integrated – airports, buses, elevated rail and subways all connect with each other.

What struck me about most of the "developing" nations I've visited was that the quality of life seemed higher than the US, as far as access to good food, general happiness of the people, and access to decent health care, especially in Malaysia and Thailand. I saw some eye specialists in Thailand and was very impressed with them. We ate from street vendors all the time in Thailand and were never sick from the food, which was remarkably fresh. The air pollution in Chiang Mai and Bangkok is a problem however.

We are seriously considering leaving the USA should things go badly in the upcoming election, we're considering Mexico, Ecuador etc and also SE Asia, although the latter is awfully far from friends and family.

ObjectiveFunction , February 11, 2020 at 3:55 pm

Very interesting topic, but it's also very large so the below comments are brief and therefore overgeneralized, apols in advance. My own area is Southeast Asia, where I've lived for much of the last 30 years, but I get the sense that the below obtains in much of the world .

1. (Caucasian) expats remain a privileged class, even in Singapore which is now significantly more advanced than the US across the board, economically and socially. On the other hand, you're a guest in all these countries, there on sufferance. Any rights of property or residency you may enjoy largely come via your employer/business, or from a local spouse. While this may seem trite, it's important: an expat life just isn't that of the locals, even Westernized local elites, and even when you're married in and living simply as some retirees do.

2. ASEAN countries are all *very* unequal societies by Western standards/ideals. Even Singapore, which provides excellent public services to all citizens, also relies heavily on a low cost migrant labor force (on weekends you see Tamil laborers in the parks flirting with Filipina housemaids). These migrants make far better money than at home and thus remain docile, but also have no path at all to residency status unless they can marry in. Foreign helpers are also becoming common in Thailand.

3. In the other countries, as a local friend put it, 'either you have servants (5 – 15%) or you are one (the rest)'. Having a maid/cook and in trafficky places a driver/errand boy gives a family a fundamentally different daily life not comparable to the modern West. Labor laws are rarely enforced on locals (expats need to take care, you are sheep for shearing)

4. Most non-Western societies assume that successful individuals in all classes subsidize their less successful relatives, via remittance or inheritance. State safety nets consist of primary education and basic health care, which are basically free but very patchy in covering special needs (that's cash).

5. As in the West, a stable income is as or more important than a high income; it's hard to put down roots or plan for the future without that. In most of ASEAN, c.USD 3500 a month still buys a comfortable life for a family: a townhouse with aircon, a number of motorbikes and many of the same Chinese consumer gadgets Americans have, as well as the aforementioned domestic servants. But, see next .

6. To me, social mobility appears quite low. It's hard for the broad peasant/servant class to ascend to the middle class, even via police or military. Foreign workers support their extended families and build a house in their home village; they rarely start their own businesses with savings.
Again, overgeneralizing but it seems most of the ASEAN 'middle class' (the 5-15% PMC) are (grand)children of:
(a) the officials who took over from the colonialists, or (b) mercantile families, predominantly ethnic Chinese.
Thus, that 10% also draws on some kind of inherited income / family support on top of their salaries to maintain their lifestyles, cover emergencies and ensure their own kids can obtain the needed credentials to keep themselves in the PMC.

Anyway, I hope this is useful context for this rich topic. Again, a broad brush, YMMV.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 4:27 pm

In most of ASEAN, c.USD 3500 a month still buys a comfortable life for a family

Very comfortable, I'm sure. $42k a year is more that millions of Americans earn. Singapore is probably the most expensive SE Asian country.

What struck me about living and travelling in SE Asia was realizing how Americans are being ripped off in comparison to many other parts of the world. In Chiang Mai, we were paying $200 a month for a clean studio apartment with no real kitchen (rent included decent internet and all utilities), $20 a month for cell phone service, and about $20 a day on eating out (for two people). Transportation was also inexpensive. After seven months of living so cheaply, when we came back to the US it felt like we were hemorrhaging money as soon as we hit the airport.

oliverks , February 11, 2020 at 5:34 pm

My wife is refusing to buy anything right now. We got back from staying in Europe and she is shocked at how expensive everything is here. For us it started at the Hilton in the airport as we had a very early departure time to flyout. It was a splash of cold water.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 7:19 pm

Yep. I have a musician friend who did an artist-in-residence gig for 6 months in Germany with his wife & two kids joining him. He said the same thing (they live in NYC). He also said not only were groceries cheaper, they were better quality as well.

Anon1 , February 11, 2020 at 4:32 pm

The article is about developing countries and France is developed, not developing. Weather has huge impact on roads and comparing roads in south of France to Michigan is not a fair comparison. I have driven through France extensively and the roads are good but parts of the US and Canada has much better roads. I would say Arizona or Utah has waaaaaay better roads than any part of France, especially the north.

Harbottle Grimstone , February 11, 2020 at 4:43 pm

Operant word: "developing". AKA a region experiencing the upswing. Shiny new industries, new infrastructure, new institutions. Growth. All nations have a finite socio-political lifespan before re-configuration; the US is no exception. Idealism's parametric in America-2020 is at a nadir compared to the fire-eyed certainty of magistrates in Colonial America-1620. The waterwheel of fortune is philosophy's consolation: rise-up on its spokes if you like but do not complain when you plunge back down into the depths. The tragedy is also the hope: bad times always pass, as do the good times. Rinse-repeat-return to the wilderness. -- Answering the question, Ahmedabad, Gujurat has great food but prohibits alcohol.

Edward , February 11, 2020 at 6:26 pm

This country has spent its productive energy producing MBA's who specialize in sucking money from people. It has a political system based on bribery and is no longer a "nation of laws". Given the non-response to the 2008 crash, the surprise may be it is not in worse shape.

Costa Rica is the one country in South/Central America that was spared CIA "help", presumably because they don't have a military. This is what South America would look like if the U.S. left them alone.

The U.S. probably has the solutions to its problems, but people with solutions, such as college professors, are excluded from government decision making. In my experience, average people tend to be smarter then the geniuses on the boob tube and in Washington.

I don't know what the big problem is with public colleges. You can get a good education at a public college.

Another Anon , February 11, 2020 at 7:29 pm

Is there anyone here who has anything to say about living in Chile ? I visited Chile back in 2007 and enjoyed myself. I spent most of my time in Santiago
and was impressed by it being clean, a nice subway
and interesting architecture.

Norbert Wiener , February 11, 2020 at 9:26 pm

Great thread.

I am three years into my escape from the US. 50 countries of wandering in three years. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine why I would go back to the open-air prison of the US.

Quality of life in places as diverse as Plovdiv, Bulgaria; Penang, Malaysia; Brno, Czechia; Kanazawa, Japan; Kunming, China; are literally off the charts for half the cost.

The other thing I'd add: the wife and I made $480k per year in our last few years. A decent middle-class income in Manhattan.

After taxes and various contributions to Fed-pumped Ponzis and 'healthcare' our net take home was around $240k per year.

All so we could be good goys and pay another 5k a month for a shitty 1-bedroom condo with hollow doors and ride a piss-smelling subway up to offices we sat in meetings for 6 of our 10 daily hours and then fake pointless outrage over whatever new political offense the dear leaders had perpetrated over $17 cocktails and then come home and fall asleep to Netflix and sleeping pills.

Outside the US, we've maxed our income to 220k total (all untaxed), so we're only down 20k or so from our Manhattan highs. And we can do this from anywhere we have an internet connection. We interact with locals. We eat staggeringly good food. When we get bored we hop a plane and fly somewhere new.

I'm 40. Maybe at 50 this will all grow tiring, but I doubt it.

oliverks , February 12, 2020 at 2:31 am

I assume Norbert Wiener is your "nom de plume" or are you related to the Norbert Wiener?

This is what we are finding. You can go to almost anywhere out of America and live for much less with much better food, life style, and people seem much better adjusted. Hell even London seems cheap in many ways when you consider the quality of what you are getting.

[Feb 14, 2020] Points for discussion: not necessarily my positions by Colonel Lang

Militarism is destroying the USA economy and well-being of the population.
Notable quotes:
"... Candidate Trump said he was for a restoration of Glass-Steagal banking laws and he'd be wise to move on that before a 2008 style collapse hits again. ..."
"... Hillary is the single most prominent example of a class of Democratic apparatchiks who make an excellent living (mis)representing the interests of working Americans and shaking down corporate America using their political clout. It is a matter of shame for America that in her and her husbands careers in "public service" they have amassed a $150mn fortune. ..."
Feb 14, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

2. The young people who favor policies like "Medicare for all" are ignorant of economics and do not grasp the fact that they would end by paying a great deal of taxes for that policy.

... ... ...

3. Democratic Party policy toward Trump is designed to prevent him governing.

4. The Democrats are seeking a new issue (anything will do) over which to impeach Trump again.

... ... ...

6. Trump's foreign policy in the ME is ignorant of anything but Zionist desires and ambitions.

7. In any deal with the Taliban the present Afghan government will inevitably be defeated and destroyed in the aftermath.

8. US ground forces are too large. We should adopt a foreign policy that will permit the maintenance of smaller ground forces.

9. Hillary has been behind much of the political devilment in the last three years and is scheming and hoping for a deadlocked convention in which she will be nominated by acclamation.

10. Trump will wisely offer Tulsi Gabbard a job in his next administration. pl div


Vegetius , 13 February 2020 at 11:24 AM

All good except #6 precludes #10, unless it was a bad faith offer.

I don't think the ZioCons will tolerate Trump offering Gabbard anything, even if he could ever get over her accurately describing him as the Saudis' bitch.

Jack , 13 February 2020 at 11:33 AM
Sir

Trump is very astute. He gets it. Bloomberg is going to buy the nomination with the full backing of the Deep State/Wall St wing.

Mini Mike is a 5'4" mass of dead energy who does not want to be on the debate stage with these professional politicians. No boxes please. He hates Crazy Bernie and will, with enough money, possibly stop him. Bernie's people will go nuts!

https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1227946304057364481?s=21

Laura Wilson , 13 February 2020 at 11:42 AM
6-8 You are so correct. The question is: how will this affect our national interest over the next 5-10 years? Will it matter to us?

I don't know and can't visualize the consequences very well. I assume the Muslim world will be arrayed against us for the foreseeable future. How dangerous is that to our own safety?

Dennis Daulton , 13 February 2020 at 11:47 AM
With the fed now pumping upwards to 120 billion a day in the repo overnight loans market to keep the biggest banks solvent, I wouldn't be so confident about the health of the economy.

Candidate Trump said he was for a restoration of Glass-Steagal banking laws and he'd be wise to move on that before a 2008 style collapse hits again.

Trumps emphasis on a blue collar boom and an NASA moon landing will be how the US economy remains strong not bailing out too big to fail Wall Street bank.

Dennis Daulton , 13 February 2020 at 11:47 AM Harry , 13 February 2020 at 12:27 PM
Re point 2. We are already paying for health insurance. At least I am. It costs me $26k per year to health insure my family.

All other countries with socialize healthcare systems spend a lower proportion of their GDP on healthcare and almost all have better health outcomes for their populations. The proportion less can be as much as half the percentage of GDP the US spends on healthcare.

Taxes may well go up. Healthcare costs will go down for most people. And for those whose healthcare is paid by their employers, the costs to the employers would go down too, meaning that wages could go up to offset (or more than offset) the additional taxes.

ambrit , 13 February 2020 at 12:34 PM
Sir;
I have been advocating point #9 for a year now. Few understand the monstrous ambition contained by HRH HRC. (Her Royal Highness Hillary Rodham Clinton.)
The Clinton foundation basically took over the Democrat National Committee, (an avowedly private organization,) in 2016.

See: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41850797

One does not generally purchase a new toy without wanting to play with it. Clinton's 'toy' is the DNC. What is the primary purpose of the DNC? To run a political party. The primary functions of a political party, at least today's versions of political parties, are to secure power for the leadership of the party and 'compensation' for the efforts of the nomenklaturas.

Harry , 13 February 2020 at 12:45 PM
The economy is bad for most of the young and some of the old. This can be inferred by the rise in 2nd and 3rd jobs among the workforce.

2 I have already addressed.

I think points 3 and 4 are obviously true. Im not sure if it is the Dems leading the charge or the neocons. But a group is attempting to block Trumps efforts to govern.

I am a Sanders supporter. I believe that 5 is partially correct. Sanders wishes to remove the free market operating in certain key areas - most obviously Healthcare. I do not think you are right about Warren. I think she is seeking progressive votes, but has no intention of delivering.

I think 6 is obviously true, although I also think Trumps instinct lead him to wish to withdraw troops. He is no match for the "Borg".

7 is also clearly true.

8 is also clearly true.

9. I would modify this. Hillary is the single most prominent example of a class of Democratic apparatchiks who make an excellent living (mis)representing the interests of working Americans and shaking down corporate America using their political clout. It is a matter of shame for America that in her and her husbands careers in "public service" they have amassed a $150mn fortune.

10. I doubt it but wouldnt it be fun!

FWLIW.

Keith Harbaugh , 13 February 2020 at 12:47 PM
While I once read Michael Scheuer's blog for his wisdom on his areas of specialty (some examples of that wisdom concerning Afghanistan, excerpted from his books, are collected at: "Afghanistan: Michael Scheuer's View" )

I was turned off by what seemed to be his appeals in his blog for violence against those whom he sees as America's internal enemies. However, reading Col. Lang's point 7 above, which echoes what Scheuer said in his 2004 book Imperial Hubris (e.g., this ), prompted me to check out what he is currently saying. One quote from his current blog I think will interest both Col. Lang and the CIA veteran Larry Johnson. Scheuer wrote:

The current CIA Director [ Gina Haspel ] is one of the officers I worked with, and she, almost single-handedly, helped CIA's bin Laden unit destroy an al-Qaeda organization in Eurasia . I have always admired her greatly for her brains, personal courage, and for never, in my experience, flinching from truth and duty.
I have no idea of the veracity of that, but I certainly do respect MS for his knowledge of the CIA, the Muslims, and Afghanistan. Surely MS knows of what he speaks in this instance. I think his recommendation is worth noting.
Keith Harbaugh , 13 February 2020 at 12:47 PM plantman , 13 February 2020 at 01:23 PM
You seem to be saying that "Medicare for all" is pie in the sky and can't work economically. But how do you explain the fact that all the EU democracies, the UK, Canada etc can provide full health care, but the richest country in the world can't?

Government-funded health care would put more cash in the average guy's pocket which he would spend on consumption which would strengthen the economy. It's a "win win" solution. When I was in business, I never minded paying for health care, but monthly payments have ballooned to the point that it's out of reach for many people. I hope you agree with me that health care has gone from being a vital service to an extortion racket.

Sometimes government can do some good. They could start by creating a system that's either affordable or puts the screws to the health care Mafia.

These people are bloodsuckers!

plantman , 13 February 2020 at 01:23 PM

Andrei Martyanov , 13 February 2020 at 01:43 PM

All good, except pp.1 since the actual industrial output contracts (4 consecutive annual contractions) and manufacturing is even worse--6 consecutive annual contractions.

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/industrial-production

Most "jobs" created are mostly part-time retail jobs due to season. Boeing situation devastated a contractor and supply chain with massive layoffs (e.g. Spirit Wichita laid-off the third of its labor force)--and those are REAL jobs. The rest--subscribe completely. Albeit, something has to be done with healthcare. What? I don't know.

jsn , 13 February 2020 at 01:46 PM
1. Yes!

2. My wife and I, in the US private sector now, pay $12,000 a year out of pocket before we get any "coverage" at all from the Denial of Care industry. I'm 57, young people get even less for their money and will continue to vote for change until something gets better for them. Medicare and the VA already provide over one third of US actual medical care and do it for a fraction of what the Denial of Care industry does it for. It would be hilarious if Trump took up M4A and ran on it: he could probably implement it, which he was in favor of back when he was a private business man because the rent extractions of the Denial of Care industry make US labor uncompetitive against the rest of the world. The MED IC is in the tank for the Dem party and doing all it can to stop M4A.

4. Which would make sense if the Dems were interested in governing, but if Obama proved anything it is that all the Dems want to do is say, "those mean, evil Republicans won't let us do anything." Which is to say the current configuration of politics and economy are working just fine for the Dem apparatchiks who's main function is to fleece guys like Bloomberg.

5. There are a world of economic models between our NeoLiberal (see Slobodian's "The Globalists") hyper extractive capitalism and a Leninist command economy, it's straw-manning to call AOC, Sanders and even Warren Leninists when they are all somewhere to the right of Eisenhower and Nixon.

6. Yes!

7. Seems likely.

8. Yes and they shouldn't be deployed to create chaotic ground conditions to facilitate looting by Globalist Multinationals.

9. 4 more years!!

10. Wouldn't it be nice.

Harlan Easley , 13 February 2020 at 01:55 PM
Number 9. The Eve-Devil whose sole ambition is to destroy Planet Earth.
turcopolier , 13 February 2020 at 02:43 PM
jsn "when they are all somewhere to the right of Eisenhower and Nixon." Hey! I remember Eisenhower and Nixon and you are completely full of it about them. Both of them were centrists.
turcopolier , 13 February 2020 at 02:43 PM

turcopolier , 13 February 2020 at 02:43 PM

/div

[Feb 10, 2020] Trump lost anti-war republicans and independents; he now might lose the elections

Feb 10, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Caroline Dorminey and Sumaya Malas do an excellent job of making the case for extending New START:

One of the most critical arms control agreements, the New Strategic Reduction Arms Treaty (New START), will disappear soon if leaders do not step up to save it. New START imposes limits on the world's two largest nuclear arsenals, Russia and the United States, and remains one of the last arms control agreements still in effect. Those limits expire in exactly one year from Wednesday, and without it, both stockpiles will be unconstrained for the first time in decades.

Democrats in Congress already express consistent support for the extension of New START, turning the issue into a Democratic Party agenda item. But today's hyper-partisan landscape need not dictate that arms control must become solely a Democratic priority. Especially when the treaty in question still works, provides an important limit on Russian nuclear weapons, and ultimately increases our national security.

Dorminey and Malas are right that there should be broad support for extending the treaty. The treaty's ratification was frequently described as a "no-brainer" win for U.S. national security when it was being debated ten years ago, and the treaty's extension is likewise obviously desirable for both countries. The trouble is that the Trump administration doesn't judge this treaty or any other international agreement on the merits, and only a few of the Republicans that voted to ratify the treaty are still in office. Trump and his advisers have been following the lead of anti-arms control ideologues for years. That is why the president seized on violations of the INF Treaty as an excuse to get rid of that treaty instead of working to resolve the dispute with Russia, and that is why he expressed his willingness to pull out of the Open Skies Treaty. Trump has encountered no resistance from the GOP as he goes on a treaty-killing spree, because by and large the modern Republican Party couldn't care less about arms control.

Like these hard-liners, Trump doesn't think there is such a thing as a "win-win" agreement with another government, and for that he reason he won't support any treaty that imposes the same restrictions on both parties. We can see that the administration isn't serious about extending the treaty when we look at the far-fetched demands they insist on adding to the existing treaty. These additional demands are meant to serve as a smokescreen so that the administration can let the treaty die, and the administration is just stalling for time until the expiration occurs. The Russian government has said many times that it is ready and willing to accept an extension of the treaty without any conditions, and the U.S. response has been to let them eat static.

It would be ideal if Trump suddenly changed his position on all this and just extended the treaty, but all signs point in the opposite direction. What we need to start thinking about is what the next administration is going to have to do to rebuild the arms control architecture that this administration has demolished. There will be almost no time for the next president to extend the treaty next year, so it needs to be a top priority. If New START lapses, the U.S. and Russia would have to negotiate a new treaty to replace it, and in the current political climate the odds that the Senate would ratify an arms control treaty (or any treaty) are not good. It would be much easier and wiser to keep the current treaty alive, but we need to start preparing for the consequences of Trump's unwillingness to do that.

[Feb 09, 2020] Bush older acted as a gangster in Kuwait war: he was determined to "seize the unipolar moment."

Bush older was the first president from CIA. He was already a senior CIA official at the time of JFK assassination and might participate in the plot to kill JFK. At least he was in Dallas at the day of assassination. .
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

SolontoCroesus , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 5:20 pm GMT

That Iraq is to say the least unstable is attributable to the ill-advised U.S. invasion of 2003.

Nothing to do with 9 years of sanctions on Iraq that killed a million Iraqis, "half of them children," and US control of Iraqi air space, after having killed Iraqi military in a turkey-shoot, for no really good reason other than George H W Bush seized the "unipolar moment" to become king of the world?

Maybe it's just stubbornness: I think Papa Bush is responsible for the "imperial pivot," in the Persian Gulf war aka Operation Desert Storm, 29 years and 4 days ago -- January 17, 1991.

According to Jeffrey Engel, Bush's biographer and director of the Bush library at Southern Methodist University, Gorbachev harassed Bush with phone calls, pleading with him not to go to war over Kuwait

https://www.c-span.org/video/?310832-1/into-desert-reflections-gulf-war

(It's worth noting that Dennis Ross was relatively new in his role on Jim Baker's staff when Baker, Brent Skowcroft, Larry Eagleburger & like minded urged Bush to take the Imperial Pivot.)

According to Vernon Loeb, who completed the writing of King's Counsel after Jack O'Connell died, Jordan's King Hussein, in consultation with retired CIA station chief O'Connell, parlayed with Arab leaders to resolve the conflict on their own, i.e. Arab-to-Arab terms, and also pleaded with Bush to stay out, and to let the Arabs solve their own problems. Bush refused.
https://www.c-span.org/video/?301361-6/kings-counsel

See above: Bush was determined to "seize the unipolar moment."

Once again insist on entering into the record: George H Bush was present at the creation of the Global War on Terror, July 4, 1979, the Jerusalem Conference hosted by Benzion and Benjamin Netanyahu and heavily populated with Trotskyites – neocons.

International Terrorism: Challenge and Response, Benjamin Netanyahu, ed., 1981.
(Wurmser became Netanyahu's acolyte)

Z-man , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:05 pm GMT
@SolontoCroesus

I think Papa Bush is responsible for the "imperial pivot," in the Persian Gulf war aka Operation Desert Storm, 29 years and 4 days ago -- January 17, 1991.

Yes I remember it well. I came back from a long trip & memorable vacation, alas I was a young man, to the television drama that was unfolding with Arthur Kent 'The Scud Stud' and others reporting from the safety of their hotel balconies filming aircaft and cruise missiles. It was surreal.
You are correct of course.

[Feb 07, 2020] Unless They Change The Democrats Deserve To Lose

Notable quotes:
"... How can they change? The owners are the warmongering monopoly capitalist ruling class. Are you imagining that any decision can ever be made by the lowly peons, the rank and file? ..."
Feb 07, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Unless They Change The Democrats Deserve To Lose Trisha , Feb 6 2020 16:12 utc | 6

The Democratic Party seems to intend to lose the 2020 elections.

The idiotic impeachment attempt against Trump ended just as we predicted at its beginning:

After two years of falsely accusing Trump of having colluded with Russia [the Democrats] now allege that he colludes with Ukraine. That will make it much more difficult for the Democrats to hide the dirty hands they had in creating Russiagate. Their currently preferred candidate Joe Biden will get damaged.
...
Trump should be impeached for his crimes against Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

But the Democrats will surely not touch on those issues. They are committing themselves to political theater that will end without any result. Instead of attacking Trump's policies and proposing better legislation they will pollute the airwaves with noise about 'crimes' that do not exist.

There is no case for impeachment. Even if the House would vote for one the Senate would never act on it. No one wants to see a President Pence.

The Democrats are giving Trump the best campaign aid he could have wished for. Trump will again present himself as the victim of a witch hunt. He will again argue that he is the only one on the side of the people. That he alone stands with them against the bad politicians in Washington DC. Millions will believe him and support him on this. It will motivate them to vote for him.

The Senate acquitted Trump of all the nonsense the Democrats have thrown against him.


bigger

Biden lost in Iowa and his poll numbers elsewhere are not much better. His meddling in Ukrainian politics will continue to be investigated.

Iowa caucuses count was intentionally sabotaged, first through an appn created by incompetent programmers on the payroll of a Buttigieg related company , then by a manipulated manual count by the Iowa Democratic party:

Chris Schwartz @SchwartzForIowa - 22:01 UTC · Feb 5, 2020

The state party is now being forced to walk back their error of giving @BernieSanders delegates to @DevalPatrick who received zero votes in Black Hawk County. Press can dm me.

We have known for over 24 hours as verified by our county party that @BernieSanders won the #iacaucuses in Black Hawk County with 2,149 votes, 155 County Delegates. #NotMeUs #IowaCaucuses


bigger

The whole manipulation was intended to enable Buttigieg to claim that he led in Iowa even though it is clear that Bernie Sanders won the race. It worked:

29 U.S.C. § 157 @OrganizingPower - 4:13 UTC · Feb 6, 2020

Post Iowa, Buttigieg has gotten a 9pt bounce in Emerson's tracking poll of NH. A bounce based on a caucus he didn't win.

All this is clearly following a plan:

Lee Camp [Redacted] @LeeCamp - 16:58 UTC · Feb 5, 2020

If a progressive is about to win #IowaCaucuses:
- remove final polls
- use mysterious app created by former Clinton staffers
- Funnel results thru untested app
- Claim app fails
- Hold results
- Reveal only 62% to give false impression of who won
- Refuse to reveal final results

But the cost of such open manipulations is the loss of trust in the Democratic Party and in elections in general:

In sum: We are 24 hours into the 2020 campaign, and Democrats have already humiliated their party on national television, alienated their least reliable progressive supporters, demoralized their most earnest activists, and handed Trump's campaign a variety of potent lines of attack.

This so obvious that has to wonder if these outcomes are considered to be features and not bugs .

Buttigieg is by the way a terrible candidate. His work for McKinsey, the company that destroyed the middle class , smells of work for some intelligence agency . His hiring of a Goldman Sachs executive as national policy director makes it clear what his policies will be.

The other leading candidates are not much better. Sanders might have a progressive agenda in domestic policies, but his foreign policies are fully in line with his party. Matt Duss, Sanders' foreign policy advisor, is the son of a lifelong key front man for CIA proxy organizations. He spills out mainstream imperial blabber:

Matt Duss @mattduss - 2:38 UTC · Feb 5, 2020

The only thing that Trump's Venezuela regime change policy achieved is giving Russia an opportunity to screw with the US in our own hemisphere. That's what they were applauding.

Giving a standing ovation to Trump's SOTU remarks on Venezuela were of course the Democratic "resistance" and Nancy Pelosi . That was before she theatrically ripped up her copy of Trump's speech, the show act of a 5 year old and one which she had trained for . She should be fired.

Impeachment, the Iowa disaster and petty show acts will not win an election against Donald Trump. While they do not drive away core Democratic voters, they do make it difficult to get the additional votes that are needed to win. Many on the left and the right who dislike Trump will rather abstain or vote for a third party than for a party which is indistinguishable from the currently ruling one.

Meanwhile Trump hauls in record amounts in donations and, with 49%, achieved his best personal approval rate ever .

Either the Democrats change their whole course of action or they will lose in November to an extend that will be breathtaking. It would be well deserved.

Posted by b on February 6, 2020 at 15:57 UTC | Permalink The donor class owners of the "Democratic" party have every incentive to support Trump, who has cut their taxes, hugely inflated the value of their assets, and mis-directed attention away from substantial issues that might degrade either their assets or their power, by focusing on identity politics.


SharonM , Feb 6 2020 16:15 utc | 7

It's obvious to me that the two war parties function as one. The Democrats have been winning since Trump took office--they get their money and they get their wars. If Trump wins, the Democrats win as billionaires flood more money into the DNC. If Trump loses, the Republicans win for the same reasons.
Bruce , Feb 6 2020 16:36 utc | 10
The behavior of a five year old is an appropriate reference point for most of the people working in DC, albeit engaged parents expect more of their children. This vaudeville routine is giving satisfaction to Republicans, Trump supporters, and those who have been looking for a clearer opportunity to say "I told you so" to diehard Democratic believers (who will continue to refuse to listen).
For an American, even one who has always been somewhat cynical regarding cultural notions of democracy and the "American Way," the show has become patently and abusively vulgar and revulsive. It does not appear to be anywhere near "hitting bottom." There can be no recovery without emotional maturity, and the leaders in Washington exhibit nothing of the kind. The level of maturity and wisdom of the individuals involved is determinative of the political result, not the alleged quality of the politics they purport to sell. Right now we don't have that.
Piero Colombo , Feb 6 2020 17:07 utc | 19
"Unless They Change The Democrats Deserve To Lose"

Aren't there 2 levels of "change"?

1. How can they change? The owners are the warmongering monopoly capitalist ruling class. Are you imagining that any decision can ever be made by the lowly peons, the rank and file? If you thought anything like that, you should try to find one single instance, in all history, of this "party" ever having done anything at all out of line with the express policy of the owners of the country (the high level of people-friendly noise, intended for the voting peons, never translates into any action of that sort.)

2. If you mean change the electoral policy to win this election, how could they conceivably manage to change this late? Like a supertanker launched at full speed trying to make a sharp turn a few seconds before hitting the shore, you mean?

Anyway, in both cases forget what it "deserves", it should be destroyed and buried under, not only lose.

ak74 , Feb 6 2020 17:08 utc | 21
American democracy is Kabuki Theater and Professional Wrestling.

It is the ultimate Reality TV show for the sheeple to think that they have a political voice.

Remember what Frank Zappa said: "Politics is the Entertainment Division of the Military-Industrial Complex."

jared , Feb 6 2020 17:30 utc | 26
It would take extreme mental contortions to take U.S. "democracy" seriously at this point.
I would like to believe that it makes some difference who is elected, but increasingly doubtful.
How different would it really have been had Hillary been elected (much as it pains me to consider such a scenario)?
Trump was elected (aside from interference from AIPAC) partly because he was republican candidate and for some that's all it takes but aside from that because;
- end pointless wars
- improve healthcare
- control immigration
- jobs for coal miners
- somehow address corruption and non-performance of government
- improve US competitiveness, bring back jobs, promote business, improve economy
He claims having improved the economy but more likely is done juice from the FED.
So really, what grade does he deserve?
And yet people are rallying to his side.
Personally I think that the entrenched interests have moulded Trump to meet their requirements and now it is inconvenient to have to start work on a new president, unless it would be one of their approved choices.
I voted for Trump because of Hillary.
Now I would not vote for Trump given a decent choice. Fortunately there is an excellent alternative.
Noirette , Feb 6 2020 17:37 utc | 29
All who count have known for a long time that Trump will have a second term. Baked in. (1)

The Dems agitate and raucously screech and try to impeach to distract or whatever to show da base that they hate Trump and hope to slaughter! him! a rapist! mysoginist! racist! liar ! He is horrors! in touch with the malignant criminal authoritarian ex-KGB Putin! Russia Russia Russia - and remember Stormy Daniels! ( :) ! )

The top corp. Dems prefer to lose to Trump, I have said this for years, as have many others. In rivalry of the Mafia type, it is often better to submit to have a share of the pie. Keep the plebs on board with BS etc. Victim status, underdog pretense, becomes ever more popular.

1. Trump might fall ill / dead / take Melania's advice and wishes into account, or just quit.

Jackrabbit , Feb 6 2020 17:47 utc | 31
People still talk like democracy really exists in USA.

They channel their anger toward Party and personality.

If only the democrats would ... If only Sanders would ... If only people would see that ...

A few understand the way things really are, but most are still hoping that somehow that the bed-time stories and entertaining kayfabe are a sort of democracy that they can live with.

But the is just normalcy bias. A Kool-Aid hang-over. This is not democracy. It is a soft tyranny encouraged by Empire stooges, lackeys, and enabled by ignorance.

The lies are as pervasive as they are subtle: half-truths; misdirection; omitting facts like candidate/party affiliations with the Zionist/Empire Death Cult.

The REAL divide among people in the West is who benefits from an EMPIRE/ZIONIST FIRST orientation that has polluted our politics and our culture and the rest of us.

Wake up. War is on the horizon. And Central Banks can't print money forever.

/rage, rage against the dying of the light

!!

par4 , Feb 6 2020 17:52 utc | 34
After watching Pelosi it reminded me that during the Geo. W. Bush era the Democrats were always claiming to be the adults in the room. It's odd that Mayo Pete's 'husband' is never seen or heard from. I wonder why? Biden's toast and Epstein didn't kill himself. AND Seth Rich leaked Hillary's emails to Wikileaks.
Qparticle , Feb 6 2020 18:11 utc | 41
-- --
The Clinton-Obama administration had scores of corrupt officials and associates (the Podestas, for instance). It was necessary to create a firewall once Trump won the nomination. As so, they attacked his campaign manager, his national security adviser, his family, himself, using all the means of FISA, wire tapping done by NSA and CIA and Mi6 and probably Mossad.

Red Ryder | Feb 6 2020 16:56 utc | 14
-- --

Trump is an installment of The Mossad via blackmail and media manipulation, check "Black Cube Intelligence", a Mossad front operating from City of London. It would make sense the establishment in the US would eavesdrop on him. Mossad on the other hand would wiretap the wiretapers and give feedback on Trump. The Podesta you mentioned once threatened the factions with "disclosure" possibly to keep the runaway black projects crazies in check not that I wish to play advocate of these people.

-- --
After they lose again in November, they will unleash their street thugs, Antifa, to terrorize the winners. Meanwhile for the purists of the Liberal Cult there will be many real suicides. So, bloodshed and death will become reality.

Red Ryder | Feb 6 2020 16:56 utc | 14
-- --

Yes, what we need is just a nazi party in the US to keep communism in check, right? We are half way there with Trump already aren't we? "Black Sun" technologies (which a part off I described above) already there, leaking to anyone interested enough that would aid in the great outsourcing for the Yinon project, so why not? "Go Trump 2020"! (sarcasm)

DannyC , Feb 6 2020 18:12 utc | 42
For whatever reason the only thing the Dems seem to find more terrible than a loss to Trump is a win with Bernie. I'm no fan of Bernie but it's clear they're out to sabotage the one guy that would actually beat Trump in an election
VeraK , Feb 6 2020 18:16 utc | 43
While I have no illusions that a Sanders administration will have good foreign policy objectives, is there not something to be said for shifting money away from the military-industrial complex in the US? In general Sanders gives me the impression that he wants to reduce US intervention in foreign affairs in favor of spending more money on domestic issues. Even a slight reduction in pressure is helpful for giving other countries the ability to expand their spheres of influence and becoming more legitimate powers in opposition to the US and EU. Based on this I still see voting for Sanders as helpful even if he won't bring about any meaningful change in the US's foreign policy.
Pft , Feb 6 2020 19:10 utc | 56
it's not an actual Stalin quote, but often used as such
he did say something in the same vein, though.
it IS absolutely spot on here:

"It's not who vote that counts, it's who counts the votes"

congratulations, DNC, you're on a par with Joseph Stalin; the most ruthless chairman the Sovyets have ever had.
so here is your real Russia Gate.
oh, come and smell the Irony. In fake wrestling the producers determine the winner in advance and the wrestlers ate given their script to follow. The Dems have no intention to win this, look at the clowns they have running the show not to mention the flawed candidates . The script calls for the king of fake wrestling, Trump himself, to win yet again. Only a concerted effort by the Dems and Deep State media, along with some tech help from Bibis crew can engineer this result, but they are all on board. Dems willing to wait for 2024 when the producers will write them in for a big Win over somebody not named Trump. The world will be ready for a Green change by then, and Soros/Gates boys will have their chance to step up to the plate again.

Enjoy the show if you wish, I'm changing the channel.

[Feb 07, 2020] How They Sold the Iraq War by Jeffrey St. Clair

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam's regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon. ..."
"... This charade wouldn't have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: "Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception." ..."
"... During the Vietnam War, TV images of maimed GIs and napalmed villages suburbanized opposition to the war and helped hasten the U.S. withdrawal. The Bush gang meant to turn the Vietnam phenomenon on its head by using TV as a force to propel the U.S.A. into a war that no one really wanted. ..."
"... When the Pentagon needed a heroic story, the press obliged. Jessica Lynch became the war's first instant celebrity. Here was a neo-gothic tale of a steely young woman wounded in a fierce battle, captured and tortured by ruthless enemies, and dramatically saved from certain death by a team of selfless rescuers, knights in camo and night-vision goggles. ..."
"... Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post's editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings "a quirk of war." ..."
"... The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn't object, it encouraged Saddam. ..."
"... Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC's firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. ..."
Mar 20, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

The war on Iraq won't be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold. It was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as "weapons of mass destruction" and "rogue state" were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us.

To understand the Iraq war you don't need to consult generals, but the spin doctors and PR flacks who stage-managed the countdown to war from the murky corridors of Washington where politics, corporate spin and psy-ops spooks cohabit.

Consider the picaresque journey of Tony Blair's plagiarized dossier on Iraq, from a grad student's website to a cut-and-paste job in the prime minister's bombastic speech to the House of Commons. Blair, stubborn and verbose, paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush, who looted whole passages from Blair's speech for his own clumsy presentations, has skated freely through the tempest. Why?

Unlike Blair, the Bush team never wanted to present a legal case for war. They had no interest in making any of their allegations about Iraq hold up to a standard of proof. The real effort was aimed at amping up the mood for war by using the psychology of fear.

Facts were never important to the Bush team. They were disposable nuggets that could be discarded at will and replaced by whatever new rationale that played favorably with their polls and focus groups. The war was about weapons of mass destruction one week, al-Qaeda the next. When neither allegation could be substantiated on the ground, the fall back position became the mass graves (many from the Iran/Iraq war where the U.S.A. backed Iraq) proving that Saddam was an evil thug who deserved to be toppled. The motto of the Bush PR machine was: Move on. Don't explain. Say anything to conceal the perfidy behind the real motives for war. Never look back. Accuse the questioners of harboring unpatriotic sensibilities. Eventually, even the cagey Wolfowitz admitted that the official case for war was made mainly to make the invasion palatable, not to justify it.

The Bush claque of neocon hawks viewed the Iraq war as a product and, just like a new pair of Nikes, it required a roll-out campaign to soften up the consumers. The same techniques (and often the same PR gurus) that have been used to hawk cigarettes, SUVs and nuclear waste dumps were deployed to retail the Iraq war. To peddle the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell and company recruited public relations gurus into top-level jobs at the Pentagon and the State Department. These spinmeisters soon had more say over how the rationale for war on Iraq should be presented than intelligence agencies and career diplomats. If the intelligence didn't fit the script, it was shaded, retooled or junked.

Take Charlotte Beers whom Powell picked as undersecretary of state in the post-9/11 world. Beers wasn't a diplomat. She wasn't even a politician. She was a grand diva of spin, known on the business and gossip pages as "the queen of Madison Avenue." On the strength of two advertising campaigns, one for Uncle Ben's Rice and another for Head and Shoulder's dandruff shampoo, Beers rocketed to the top of the heap in the PR world, heading two giant PR houses: Ogilvy and Mathers as well as J. Walter Thompson.

At the State Department Beers, who had met Powell in 1995 when they both served on the board of Gulf Airstream, worked at, in Powell's words, "the branding of U.S. foreign policy." She extracted more than $500 million from Congress for her Brand America campaign, which largely focused on beaming U.S. propaganda into the Muslim world, much of it directed at teens.

"Public diplomacy is a vital new arm in what will combat terrorism over time," said Beers. "All of a sudden we are in this position of redefining who America is, not only for ourselves, but for the outside world." Note the rapt attention Beers pays to the manipulation of perception, as opposed, say, to alterations of U.S. policy.

Old-fashioned diplomacy involves direct communication between representatives of nations, a conversational give and take, often fraught with deception (see April Glaspie), but an exchange nonetheless. Public diplomacy, as defined by Beers, is something else entirely. It's a one-way street, a unilateral broadcast of American propaganda directly to the public, domestic and international, a kind of informational carpet-bombing.

The themes of her campaigns were as simplistic and flimsy as a Bush press conference. The American incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq were all about bringing the balm of "freedom" to oppressed peoples. Hence, the title of the U.S. war: Operation Iraqi Freedom, where cruise missiles were depicted as instruments of liberation. Bush himself distilled the Beers equation to its bizarre essence: "This war is about peace."

Beers quietly resigned her post a few weeks before the first volley of tomahawk missiles battered Baghdad. From her point of view, the war itself was already won, the fireworks of shock and awe were all after play.

Over at the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld drafted Victoria "Torie" Clarke as his director of public affairs. Clarke knew the ropes inside the Beltway. Before becoming Rumsfeld's mouthpiece, she had commanded one of the world's great parlors for powerbrokers: Hill and Knowlton's D.C. office.

Almost immediately upon taking up her new gig, Clarke convened regular meetings with a select group of Washington's top private PR specialists and lobbyists to develop a marketing plan for the Pentagon's forthcoming terror wars. The group was filled with heavy-hitters and was strikingly bipartisan in composition. She called it the Rumsfeld Group and it included PR executive Sheila Tate, columnist Rich Lowry, and Republican political consultant Rich Galen.

The brain trust also boasted top Democratic fixer Tommy Boggs, brother of NPR's Cokie Roberts and son of the late Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana. At the very time Boggs was conferring with top Pentagon brass on how to frame the war on terror, he was also working feverishly for the royal family of Saudi Arabia. In 2002 alone, the Saudis paid his Qorvis PR firm $20.2 million to protect its interests in Washington. In the wake of hostile press coverage following the exposure of Saudi links to the 9/11 hijackers, the royal family needed all the well-placed help it could buy. They seem to have gotten their money's worth. Boggs' felicitous influence-peddling may help to explain why the references to Saudi funding of al-Qaeda were dropped from the recent congressional report on the investigation into intelligence failures and 9/11.

According to the trade publication PR Week, the Rumsfeld Group sent "messaging advice" to the Pentagon. The group told Clarke and Rumsfeld that in order to get the American public to buy into the war on terrorism, they needed to suggest a link to nation states, not just nebulous groups such as al-Qaeda. In other words, there needed to be a fixed target for the military campaigns, some distant place to drop cruise missiles and cluster bombs. They suggested the notion (already embedded in Rumsfeld's mind) of playing up the notion of so-called rogue states as the real masters of terrorism. Thus was born the Axis of Evil, which, of course, wasn't an "axis" at all, since two of the states, Iran and Iraq, hated each other, and neither had anything at all to do with the third, North Korea.

Tens of millions in federal money were poured into private public relations and media firms working to craft and broadcast the Bush dictat that Saddam had to be taken out before the Iraqi dictator blew up the world by dropping chemical and nuclear bombs from long-range drones. Many of these PR executives and image consultants were old friends of the high priests in the Bush inner sanctum. Indeed, they were veterans, like Cheney and Powell, of the previous war against Iraq, another engagement that was more spin than combat .

At the top of the list was John Rendon, head of the D.C. firm, the Rendon Group. Rendon is one of Washington's heaviest hitters, a Beltway fixer who never let political affiliation stand in the way of an assignment. Rendon served as a media consultant for Michael Dukakis and Jimmy Carter, as well as Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Whenever the Pentagon wanted to go to war, he offered his services at a price. During Desert Storm, Rendon pulled in $100,000 a month from the Kuwaiti royal family. He followed this up with a $23 million contract from the CIA to produce anti-Saddam propaganda in the region.

As part of this CIA project, Rendon created and named the Iraqi National Congress and tapped his friend Ahmed Chalabi, the shady financier, to head the organization.

Shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon handed the Rendon Group another big assignment: public relations for the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. Rendon was also deeply involved in the planning and public relations for the pre-emptive war on Iraq, though both Rendon and the Pentagon refuse to disclose the details of the group's work there.

But it's not hard to detect the manipulative hand of Rendon behind many of the Iraq war's signature events, including the toppling of the Saddam statue (by U.S. troops and Chalabi associates) and videotape of jubilant Iraqis waving American flags as the Third Infantry rolled by them. Rendon had pulled off the same stunt in the first Gulf War, handing out American flags to Kuwaitis and herding the media to the orchestrated demonstration. "Where do you think they got those American flags?" clucked Rendon in 1991. "That was my assignment."

The Rendon Group may also have had played a role in pushing the phony intelligence that has now come back to haunt the Bush administration. In December of 2002, Robert Dreyfuss reported that the inner circle of the Bush White House preferred the intelligence coming from Chalabi and his associates to that being proffered by analysts at the CIA.

So Rendon and his circle represented a new kind of off-the-shelf PSYOPs , the privatization of official propaganda. "I am not a national security strategist or a military tactician," said Rendon. "I am a politician, and a person who uses communication to meet public policy or corporate policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager."

What exactly, is perception management? The Pentagon defines it this way: "actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives and objective reasoning." In other words, lying about the intentions of the U.S. government. In a rare display of public frankness, the Pentagon actually let slip its plan (developed by Rendon) to establish a high-level den inside the Department Defense for perception management. They called it the Office of Strategic Influence and among its many missions was to plant false stories in the press.

Nothing stirs the corporate media into outbursts of pious outrage like an official government memo bragging about how the media are manipulated for political objectives. So the New York Times and Washington Post threw indignant fits about the Office of Strategic Influence; the Pentagon shut down the operation, and the press gloated with satisfaction on its victory. Yet, Rumsfeld told the Pentagon press corps that while he was killing the office, the same devious work would continue. "You can have the corpse," said Rumsfeld. "You can have the name. But I'm going to keep doing every single thing that needs to be done. And I have."

At a diplomatic level, despite the hired guns and the planted stories, this image war was lost. It failed to convince even America's most fervent allies and dependent client states that Iraq posed much of a threat. It failed to win the blessing of the U.N. and even NATO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington. At the end of the day, the vaunted coalition of the willing consisted of Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, and a cohort of former Soviet bloc nations. Even so, the citizens of the nations that cast their lot with the U.S.A. overwhelmingly opposed the war.

Domestically, it was a different story. A population traumatized by terror threats and shattered economy became easy prey for the saturation bombing of the Bush message that Iraq was a terrorist state linked to al-Qaeda that was only minutes away from launching attacks on America with weapons of mass destruction.

Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam's regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon.

Of course, the closest Saddam came to possessing a nuke was a rusting gas centrifuge buried for 13 years in the garden of Mahdi Obeidi, a retired Iraqi scientist. Iraq didn't have any functional chemical or biological weapons. In fact, it didn't even possess any SCUD missiles, despite erroneous reports fed by Pentagon PR flacks alleging that it had fired SCUDs into Kuwait.

This charade wouldn't have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: "Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception."

During the Vietnam War, TV images of maimed GIs and napalmed villages suburbanized opposition to the war and helped hasten the U.S. withdrawal. The Bush gang meant to turn the Vietnam phenomenon on its head by using TV as a force to propel the U.S.A. into a war that no one really wanted.

What the Pentagon sought was a new kind of living room war, where instead of photos of mangled soldiers and dead Iraqi kids, they could control the images Americans viewed and to a large extent the content of the stories. By embedding reporters inside selected divisions, Clarke believed the Pentagon could count on the reporters to build relationships with the troops and to feel dependent on them for their own safety. It worked, naturally. One reporter for a national network trembled on camera that the U.S. Army functioned as "our protectors." The late David Bloom of NBC confessed on the air that he was willing to do "anything and everything they can ask of us."

When the Pentagon needed a heroic story, the press obliged. Jessica Lynch became the war's first instant celebrity. Here was a neo-gothic tale of a steely young woman wounded in a fierce battle, captured and tortured by ruthless enemies, and dramatically saved from certain death by a team of selfless rescuers, knights in camo and night-vision goggles. Of course, nearly every detail of her heroic adventure proved to be as fictive and maudlin as any made-for-TV-movie. But the ordeal of Private Lynch, which dominated the news for more than a week, served its purpose: to distract attention from a stalled campaign that was beginning to look at lot riskier than the American public had been hoodwinked into believing.

The Lynch story was fed to the eager press by a Pentagon operation called Combat Camera, the Army network of photographers, videographers and editors that sends 800 photos and 25 video clips a day to the media. The editors at Combat Camera carefully culled the footage to present the Pentagon's montage of the war, eliding such unsettling images as collateral damage, cluster bombs, dead children and U.S. soldiers, napalm strikes and disgruntled troops.

"A lot of our imagery will have a big impact on world opinion," predicted Lt. Jane Larogue, director of Combat Camera in Iraq. She was right. But as the hot war turned into an even hotter occupation, the Pentagon, despite airy rhetoric from occupation supremo Paul Bremer about installing democratic institutions such as a free press, moved to tighten its monopoly on the flow images out of Iraq. First, it tried to shut down Al Jazeera, the Arab news channel. Then the Pentagon intimated that it would like to see all foreign TV news crews banished from Baghdad.

Few newspapers fanned the hysteria about the threat posed by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction as sedulously as did the Washington Post. In the months leading up to the war, the Post's pro-war op-eds outnumbered the anti-war columns by a 3-to-1 margin.

Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post's editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings "a quirk of war."

The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn't object, it encouraged Saddam. Anything to punish Iran was the message coming from the White House. Donald Rumsfeld himself was sent as President Ronald Reagan's personal envoy to Baghdad. Rumsfeld conveyed the bold message than an Iraq defeat would be viewed as a "strategic setback for the United States." This sleazy alliance was sealed with a handshake caught on videotape. When CNN reporter Jamie McIntyre replayed the footage for Rumsfeld in the spring of 2003, the secretary of defense snapped, "Where'd you get that? Iraqi television?"

The current crop of Iraq hawks also saw Saddam much differently then. Take the writer Laura Mylroie, sometime colleague of the New York Times' Judy Miller, who persists in peddling the ludicrous conspiracy that Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

How times have changed! In 1987, Mylroie felt downright cuddly toward Saddam. She wrote an article for the New Republic titled "Back Iraq: Time for a U.S. Tilt in the Mideast," arguing that the U.S. should publicly embrace Saddam's secular regime as a bulwark against the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. The co-author of this mesmerizing weave of wonkery was none other than Daniel Pipes, perhaps the nation's most bellicose Islamophobe. "The American weapons that Iraq could make good use of include remotely scatterable and anti-personnel mines and counterartillery radar," wrote Mylroie and Pipes. "The United States might also consider upgrading intelligence it is supplying Baghdad."

In the rollout for the war, Mylroie seemed to be everywhere hawking the invasion of Iraq. She would often appear on two or three different networks in the same day. How did the reporter manage this feat? She had help in the form of Eleana Benador, the media placement guru who runs Benador Associates. Born in Peru, Benador parlayed her skills as a linguist into a lucrative career as media relations whiz for the Washington foreign policy elite. She also oversees the Middle East Forum, a fanatically pro-Zionist white paper mill. Her clients include some of the nation's most fervid hawks, including Michael Ledeen, Charles Krauthammer, Al Haig, Max Boot, Daniel Pipes, Richard Perle, and Judy Miller. During the Iraq war, Benador's assignment was to embed this squadron of pro-war zealots into the national media, on talk shows, and op-ed pages.

Benador not only got them the gigs, she also crafted the theme and made sure they all stayed on message. "There are some things, you just have to state them in a different way, in a slightly different way," said Benador. "If not, people get scared." Scared of intentions of their own government.

It could have been different. All of the holes in the Bush administration's gossamer case for war were right there for the mainstream press to expose. Instead, the U.S. press, just like the oil companies, sought to commercialize the Iraq war and profit from the invasions. They didn't want to deal with uncomfortable facts or present voices of dissent.

Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC's firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. The network's executives blamed the cancellation on sagging ratings. In fact, during its run Donahue's show attracted more viewers than any other program on the network. The real reason for the pre-emptive strike on Donahue was spelled out in an internal memo from anxious executives at NBC. Donahue, the memo said, offered "a difficult face for NBC in a time of war. He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives."

The memo warned that Donahue's show risked tarring MSNBC as an unpatriotic network, "a home for liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." So, with scarcely a second thought, the honchos at MSNBC gave Donahue the boot and hoisted the battle flag.

It's war that sells.

There's a helluva caveat, of course. Once you buy it, the merchants of war accept no returns.

This essay is adapted from Grand Theft Pentagon.

[Feb 05, 2020] Syrian Army Progress Leads To New Scuffle Between Turkey And Russia

Feb 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

GMJ , Feb 3 2020 19:40 utc | 21

Thank you for another good article. What strikes me is that so many automatically go to, or refer to, Mr Putin as the voice of reason these days and not Washington DC or any NATO country. I never thought that I will live to see the US become less trusted than our old enemy, the commies. BUT, as I say in my books, the Russia of today is not the USSR at all. Anyway, for those interested in interesting military history, I recently discovered this myself, see https://www.georgemjames.com/blog/the-fuhrers-commando-order-origins. I wanted to post on the open thread but got busy and forgot. GMJ.

[Feb 02, 2020] Out of sync with the world, the US has returned to the ashes and lawlessness of 1945.

Feb 02, 2020 | sputniknews.com

US Vice President Mike Pence used his speech at the Holocaust memorial last week to bang a war drum at Iran. It revealed a deplorable lack of dignity and understanding of the event, despite Pence's efforts to appear solemn. But not only that. It showed too how out of touch the United States – at least its political leadership – is with the rest of the world and a growing collective concern among others to ensure international peace.

Maybe that's why Britain's Prince Charles appeared to snub Pence, declining to shake his hand while attending the commemoration of the Holocaust and 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Charles warmly greeted other dignitaries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and France's Emmanuel Macron. It was curious how he blanked Pence.

But there again, maybe not that curious. Pence and the Trump administration seem to be hellbent on starting a war with Iran. A war that would engulf the entire Middle East and possibly ignite a world conflagration.

Washington's wanton threats of violence against Iran and its recent assassination of one of Iran's top military leaders stands as a shocking repudiation of international law and the UN Charter. It's the kind of conduct more akin to an organized crime syndicate rather than a supposedly democratic state.

The UN Charter was created in 1945 in the aftermath of the Second World War precisely to prevent repetition of the worst conflagration in history and all its barbaric crimes, including the Nazi Holocaust. Over 5o million people died in that war, and nearly half of them belonged to the Soviet Union.

The prevention of war is surely the most onerous responsibility of the UN Security Council. Yet the United States is the one power that routinely ignores international law and the UN Charter to unilaterally launch wars or military interventions. Washington's threats against Iran are, unfortunately, nothing new. This is standard American practice.

Britain's Prince Charles speaks to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during the World Holocaust Forum © REUTERS / RONEN ZVULUN Snub or No Snub? Netizens Laugh Off Prince Charles' Explanation After Not Shaking Hands With Mike Pence When world leaders addressed the Holocaust memorial held in Israel last Wednesday it was obvious – albeit implicitly – from their words that the US has become an isolated rogue state owing to its inveterate belligerence.

Putin, Macron, Prince Charles and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier all invoked the need for collective commitment to international law and peace. They implied that such a commitment was the best way to honour those who were killed in the Holocaust and the Second World War; the surest way to prevent the barbarity of fascist ideology and persecution ever to be repeated.

Those speakers one after another denounced the ideology of demonizing others which fuels hatred and wars. How pertinent is that to the way Washington routinely demonizes other nations and foreign leaders?

In sharp contrast, when the American vice president made his address, his apparent solemnity was contradicted by a blood-curdling call to arms against Iran , which he accused of being the "leading state purveyor of anti-semitism". Pence urged the whole world "to stand strong against the Islamic Republic of Iran", spoken as if he was spitting out the words like venom.

There is little doubt that Pence was formulating a rationale for military confrontation with Iran. That has been the consistent policy of the Trump administration over the past three years.

It was no surprise that Pence's speech was in sync with the usual bellicose rhetoric from Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu towards Iran. But what was arresting was just how out of sync Pence and the Trump administration are with the rest the world.

US Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the fifth World Holocaust Forum, 23 January 2020. © Sputnik / Alexey Nikolsky World War II for Dummies? US Vice President Hails Liberators of Auschwitz Death Camp, 'Forgets' to Name Them It was an odious spectacle to see Pence don a somber face as he talked about the victims of the Holocaust , while his own state wages war against any foreign nation whenever and wherever Washington deems. At an event that was supposed to reflect on the horror and evil of war, Pence showed he had no understanding or self-awareness.

That's what is perplexing about many American politicians. They seem ignorant of history (Pence gave no acknowledgement to the Soviet soldiers who liberated Auschwitz and other death camps); they are consumed by self-righteousness and arrogance like a puritan preacher without an ounce of humanity.

Anyone who reflects on the horror of war would surely be advocating the respect of and adherence to international law, commitment to peace, and the earnest pursuit of dialogue and partnership among nations.

Russia's Putin has repeatedly called for the members of the UN Security Council to urgently get together in order to guarantee a multilateral commitment to peace. Putin has also repeatedly appealed to the United States to get serious about negotiating renewed arms control treaties. Washington has ignored those latter calls.

Participants in the Jewish event of Holocaust remembrance walk in the former Nazi German World War II death camp of Auschwitz shortly before the start of the annual March of the Living in which young Jews from around the world walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau in memory of the 6 million Holocaust victims, in Oswiecim, Poland, Thursday, May 2, 2019 © AP Photo / Czarek Sokolowski If One's Outraged by Words About Polish Anti-Semitism, One Should Delve Into History – Ex-Polish MP The American national myth, evolved over recent decades since 1945, views itself as "exceptional" from all other nations. That translates as the US presuming to be "superior" and "above the law that others are bound by".

Mike Pence's menacing words and attitude at the Holocaust memorial showed a disturbing and pernicious disconnect with the need for preventing war and genocide. It was a disgraceful dishonouring of victims.

Out of sync with the world, the US has returned to the ashes and lawlessness of 1945.

[Jan 31, 2020] Hitchens gave neocons the intellectual thumbs up for unleashing hell after 9/11

Jan 31, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Harry Stotle George Galloway accused Chritopher Hitchens of 'proselytising for the devil' after Hitchens gave neocons the intellectual thumbs up for unleashing hell after 9/11, while it is common knowledge the pro-war, liberal media had to acquire a paint factory because so many coatings were required to white-wash the lies and fabrications employed to rationalise Bush's 'war on terror' and many events leading up to it (not least the fact the US buddied up with Saddam a decade earlier in order to foment war with Iran).

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Aihr9UjvAJQ?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

By contrast counterveiling forces (such as Galloway) have almost no voice within political spheres, the academic world and certainly the MSM, and when necessary certain propaganda operations unfold to subvert meaningful investigations, such as the alleged chemical attack in Douma (where, ironically, Peter Hitchens amongst others has called bullshit)

Of course its important to deconstruct flagrent untruths (as Kevin Ryan does in this fine article) not least because they have been used as a platform for the current reign of terror in the Middle East – but the question is, in totalitarian states like America (where authorities effectively act as judge, jury and executioner) how can this knowledge be used to shake up a system that has closed its eyes and ears to truth or reality?
Put another way who expects the likes of Rachel Maddow or Bill Maher to ever hold authority to account?

Now depending on your ideologial outlook the actions of the US are either a facet of the 'international rules based order' (which IMO is no more than a self-aggrandising term neocons, like Tony Blair, love to apply to themselves), or abject betrayal of the holocaust: a critical moment in history when the world vowed to learn from the terrible conseqeunces that arise when powerful, lawless states are unconstrained by public opinion or cultural watchdogs.

One clue to answering this rhetorical question is the way whistleblowers or publishers are treated by those they accuse of wrong doing – the evidence tells us that just like Guantanamo they are likely to be tortured and subject to sham legal proceedings.

As an aside it begs questions about the kind or people, such as prosecutors who are willing participate in this cruel process – they are the same sort of people that would have cropped up in Soviet Russia, or Nazi Germany I imagine?


Maggie ,

your link buffers and I can't access.

Harry Stotle ,

Search: 'Christopher Hitchens prosthelytized for the Devil – George Galloway' – in YouTube. that should find it.

Patrick C ,

Harry, I was reading along nodding in agreement and then, as the song says, you spoil it all by saying, I hate you. The Soviet Union, by equating it with Nazi Germany. As you say it's important to, "deconstruct flagrant untruths." And this is possibly the granddaddy of all untruths. But as this isn't even a comment, rather it's an answer to a comment, there simply isn't the space to fully contest that characterization. I would hope given your obvious intelligence you might make it a priority to research and understand the Cold War demonization of the USSR and before that the attempts to crush them. I am not excusing their crimes I'm saying there weren't any. Certainly not in the sense that we've been brainwashed to believe. You can dismiss me as an idealogue if you wish or you can start the hard slog towards understanding. Otherwise loved what you wrote.

Harry Stotle ,

Thanks, Patrick – I am not suggesting equivalence except to the extent the legal systems in Russia and Germany were co-opted to fulfil certain ideological goals (as they are in the west today given high ranking political figures are more or less exempt from any sort of meaningful judicial scrutiny).

Talking about Russia in particular it is claimed, "According to the International Memorial, the law on rehabilitation covers 11-11.5 million people in the territory of the former USSR. The latest (2016) statistical calculations are given in the article by A. Roginsky and E. Zhemkova "Between sympathy and indifference – rehabilitation of victims of Soviet repressions".

About 5.8 million people became victims of "administrative repressions" directed against certain groups of the population (kulaks, representatives of repressed peoples and religious denominations). From 4.7 to 5 million people were arrested on individual political charges, of which about a million were shot. These are preliminary estimates obtained as a result of many years of work by researchers with internal statistics of punitive bodies at the central and regional levels, investigative cases.

As the "Memorial" movement, it is fundamentally important to establish the names of all the repressed. At the moment, in the consolidated database "Victims of Political Terror in the USSR", there are more than 3 million people. This base was compiled mainly on the basis of regional Books of Remembrance, in the preparation of which members of local Memorial organizations often took part. The database is currently being updated." (site contents can be translated into English)
https://www.memo.ru/ru-ru/history-of-repressions-and-protest/chronology-stat/

Just to add I know a reasonable amount about 9/11, know a little about the US empire (and Britain's role in it) and have also looked at historians who have questioned specifics about the holocaust (and here I mean David Irving, a brilliant but deeply flawed, and unempathic man).

Russia however I am less sure about.

I would just add that revolutions are always violent because no one ever relinquishes power without a fight, while reverberations from such convulsions can carry consequences long after they first occured.

For example, Trotsky was tried and found guilty of treason and sentenced to death in absentia – as you must know he was murdered in Mexico following severe head wounds inflicted by an icepick.

Richard Le Sarc ,

I hope that Hitchens' water-boarding didn't cause his oesophageal cancer. That would be ironic.

Norn ,

[Jan 30, 2020] The foreign government that has long been most active in interfering in US politics and US elections is that of Israel by Paul R. Pillar

Jan 30, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

The misconduct for which Donald Trump has been impeached centers on an attempt to drag a foreign government into a U.S. election campaign. That caper has increased public attention to the problem of foreign interference in U.S. politics, but the problem is more extensive than discourse about the impeachment process would suggest.

[Jan 24, 2020] Lawrence Wilkerson Lambasts 'the Beast of the National Security State' by Adam Dick

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Wilkerson provided a harsh critique of US foreign policy over the last two decades. Wilkerson states: ..."
"... America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It's part of who we are. It's part of what the American Empire is. ..."
"... We are going to lie, cheat and steal, as [US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] is doing right now, as [President Donald Trump] is doing right now, as [Secretary of Defense Mark Esper] is doing right now, as [Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)] is doing right now, as [Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)] is doing right now, and a host of other members of my political party -- the Republicans -- are doing right now. We are going to cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That's the truth of it, and that's the agony of it. ..."
"... That base voted for Donald Trump because he promised to end these endless wars, he promised to drain the swamp. Well, as I said, an alligator from that swamp jumped out and bit him. And, when he ordered the killing of Qassim Suleimani, he was a member of the national security state in good standing, and all that state knows how to do is make war. ..."
Jan 13, 2020 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Lawrence Wilkerson, a College of William & Mary professor who was chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powel in the George W. Bush administration, powerfully summed up the vile nature of the US national security state in a recent interview with host Amy Goodman at Democracy Now.

Asked by Goodman about the escalation of US conflict with Iran and how it compares with the prior run-up to the Iraq War, Wilkerson provided a harsh critique of US foreign policy over the last two decades. Wilkerson states:

Ever since 9/11, the beast of the national security state, the beast of endless wars, the beast of the alligator that came out of the swamp, for example, and bit Donald Trump just a few days ago, is alive and well.

America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It's part of who we are. It's part of what the American Empire is.

We are going to lie, cheat and steal, as [US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] is doing right now, as [President Donald Trump] is doing right now, as [Secretary of Defense Mark Esper] is doing right now, as [Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)] is doing right now, as [Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)] is doing right now, and a host of other members of my political party -- the Republicans -- are doing right now. We are going to cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That's the truth of it, and that's the agony of it.

What we saw President Trump do was not in President Trump's character, really. Those boys and girls who were getting on those planes at Fort Bragg to augment forces in Iraq, if you looked at their faces, and, even more importantly, if you looked at the faces of the families assembled along the line that they were traversing to get onto the airplanes, you saw a lot of Donald Trump's base. That base voted for Donald Trump because he promised to end these endless wars, he promised to drain the swamp. Well, as I said, an alligator from that swamp jumped out and bit him. And, when he ordered the killing of Qassim Suleimani, he was a member of the national security state in good standing, and all that state knows how to do is make war.

Wilkerson, over the remainder of the two-part interview provides many more insightful comments regarding US foreign policy, including recent developments concerning Iran. Watch Wilkerson's interview here:

Wilkerson is an Academic Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.


Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
Please donate to the Ron Paul Institute Related

[Jan 23, 2020] The Pentagon made $35 trillion in accounting adjustments last year alone -- a total that's larger than the entire U.S. economy

Jan 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Jan 23 2020 19:17 utc | 58

The Pentagon made $35 trillion in accounting adjustments last year alone -- a total that's larger than the entire U.S. economy

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-22/pentagon-racks-up-35-trillion-in-accounting-changes-in-one-year

[Jan 21, 2020] Henry Kissinger chilling statement that American soldiers are " dumb , stupid animals to be used as pawns in the conduct of [ American ] policy."

Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

9/11 Inside job , says: Show Comment January 20, 2020 at 1:53 pm GMT

What a chilling statement attributed to Henry Kissinger that American soldiers are " dumb , stupid animals to be used as pawns in the conduct of [ American ] policy." Martin Luther King recognized that our soldiers were "pawns " and in his "searing" anti-war speech on April4, 1968
he advised ministers and boys facing the draft to register for conscientious objector status . This speech is said to have help seal his death warrant and exactly a year later he was assassinated . See :
"When MLK turned on Vietnam , even 'liberal' allies turned on him " cnn.com
"The verdict was harsh .By one count 168 newspapers condemned his speech . King became 'persona non grata' in the Johnson Whitehouse."
The MIC/deep state does not take kindly to anti-war/peacemakers .

[Jan 21, 2020] $6.4 Trillion And Counting - How The Military-Industrial Complex Hijacked The War On Terror by Eric Margolis

Jan 21, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Ike Was Right!

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society."

General Dwight D Eisenhower
Farewell address 1961

Congress just passed a near trillion dollar military budget at a time when the United States faces no evident state threats at home or abroad. Ike was right.

Illustrating Ike's prescient warning, Brown University's respected Watson Institute just released a major study which found that the so-called 'wars on terror' in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan have cost US taxpayers $6.4 trillion since they began in 2001.

The extensive study found that over 800,000 people have died as a result of these military operations, a third of them civilians. An additional 21 million civilians have been displaced by US military operations. According to the Pentagon, these US wars have so far cost each American taxpayer $7,623 – and that's a very conservative estimate.

Most of this money has been quietly added to the US national debt of over $23 trillion. Wars on credit hide the true cost and pain from the public.

As General Eisenhower warned, military spending has engulfed the nation.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/CWiIYW_fBfY

A trillion annual military budget represents just about half the world's military expenditures. The Pentagon, which I've visited numerous times, is bustling with activity as if the nation was on a permanent war footing.

The combined US intelligence budget of some $80 billion is larger than Russia's total military budget of $63 billion. US troops, warplanes and naval vessels are stationed around the globe, including, most lately, across Africa. And yet every day the media trumpets new 'threats' to the US. Trump is sending more troops to the Mideast while claiming he wants to reduce America's powerful military footprint there. Our military is always in search of new missions. These operations generate promotions and pay raises, new equipment and a reason for being.

Back in the day, the Republican Party of General Eisenhower was a centrist conservative's party with a broad world view, dedicated to lower taxes and somewhat smaller government. It was led by the Rockefellers and educated Easterners with a broad world view and respect for tradition.

Today's Republican Party is a collection of rural interests from flyover country, handmaidens of the military industrial complex and, most important, militant evangelical Christians who see the world through the spectrum of the Old Testament. Israel's far right has come to dominate American evangelists by selling them a bill of goods about the End of Days and the Messiah's return. Many of these rubes see Trump as a quasi-religious figure.

Mix the religious cultists – about 25% of the US population – with the farm and Israel lobbies and the mighty military industrial complex and no wonder the United States has veered off into the deep waters of irrationality and crusading ardor. The US can still afford such bizarre behavior thanks to its riches, magic green dollar, endless supply of credit and a poorly educated, apathetic public too besotted by sports and TV sitcoms to understand what's going on abroad.

All the war party needs is a steady supply of foreign villains (preferably Muslims) who can be occasionally bombed back to the early Islamic age. Americans have largely forgotten George W. Bush's lurid claims that Iraqi drones of death were poised to shower poisons on the sleeping nation. Even the Soviets never ventured so deep into the sea of absurdity.

The military industrial complex does not care to endanger its gold-plated F-35 stealth aircraft and $13 billion apiece aircraft carriers in a real war against real powers. Instead, the war party likes little wars against weak opponents who can barely shoot back. State-run TV networks thrill to such minor scraps with fancy headlines and martial music. Think of the glorious little wars against Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya. Iran looks next.

The more I listen to his words, the more I like Ike.

[Jan 21, 2020] Iran Counters EU Threat Of Snapback Sanctions

Jan 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU1 , Jan 20 2020 19:06 utc | 3

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to destroy the nuclear agreement with Iran. He has threatened the EU-3 poodles in Germany, Britain and France with a 25% tariff on their car exports to the U.S. unless they end their role in the JCPOA deal.

In their usual gutlessness the Europeans gave in to the blackmail. They triggered the Dispute Resolution Mechanism of the deal. The mechanism foresees two 15 day periods of negotiations and a five day decision period after which any of the involved countries can escalate the issues to the UN Security Council. The reference to the UNSC would then lead to an automatic reactivation or "snapback" of those UN sanction against Iran that existed before the nuclear deal was signed.

Iran is now countering the European move. Its Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that Iran may leave the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if any of the European countries escalates the issue to the UNSC:

Zarif said that Iran is following up the late decision by European states to trigger the Dispute Resolution Mechanism in the context of the JCPOA, adding that Tehran officially started the discussion on the mechanism on May 8, 2018 when the US withdrew from the deal.

He underlined that Iran sent three letters dated May 10, August 26 and November 2018 to the then EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, announcing in the latter that Iran had officially triggered and ended the dispute resolution mechanism and thus would begin reducing its commitments to the JCPOA.

However, Iran gave a seven-month opportunity to the European Union before it began reducing its commitments in May 8, 2019 which had operational effects two months later, according to Zarif.

Iran's top diplomat said that the country's five steps in compliance reduction would have no similar follow-ups, but Europeans' measure to refer the case to the United Nations Security Council may be followed by Tehran's decision to leave NPT as stated in President Hassan Rouhani's May 2018 letter to other parties to the deal.

He stressed that all the steps are reversible if the European parties to the JCPOA restore their obligations under the deal.

The Europeans certainly do not want Iran to leave the NPT. But as they are cowards and likely to continue to submit themselves to Trump's blackmail that is what they will end up with. Britain is the most likely country to move the issue to the UNSC as it is in urgent need of a trade deal with the U.S. after leaving the EU. Cooke has piece at Strategic Culture on Wurmser who may be the strategist behind Trump admin moves on Iran. Adds to this piece by b.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/01/20/many-matryoska-dolls-america-way-imagining-iran/
"Well (big surprise), Wurmser has now been at work as the author of how to 'implode' and destroy Iran. And his insight? "A targeted strike on someone like Soleimani"; split the Iranian leadership into warring factions; cut an open wound into the flesh of Iran's domestic legitimacy; put a finger into that open wound, and twist it; disrupt – and pretend that the U.S. sides with the Iranian people, against its government."

Overall, the strategy looks to be aimed at weakening and disrupting Iran and removing its allies in the region from the game before US strikes begin.

The downing of the Uki plane and Trump Pompeo immediately saying they were with the Iranian people would fit very well into this strategy though it is not mentioned by Crooke.


Peter AU1 , Jan 20 2020 19:14 utc | 4

And in Syria, US territory is becoming more defined. US intends to keep control of both Dier Ezzor and Hasakah oilfields along the Iraq border. Iraq Kurdistan is a secure base for the US and as well as being on Iran's border gives access through Hasakah province to the Syrian oilfields.
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/us-forces-block-syrian-russian-troops-from-access-to-key-highway-photos/
vk , Jan 20 2020 19:17 utc | 5
The Europeans certainly do not want Iran to leave the NPT. But as they are cowards and likely to continue to submit themselves to Trump's blackmail that is what they will end up with. Britain is the most likely country to move the issue to the UNSC as it is in urgent need of a trade deal with the U.S. after leaving the EU.

We shouldn't humanize entire nations when analyzing geopolitics.

The Europeans are simply aware of the objective fact they are de facto occupied countries thanks to the many de facto American bases scattered around Western and Central Europe (Germany being the country with the most American bases in the world). They obey the USA for the simple fact they are occupied by the USA.

That's why some neocarolingians/European nationalists mainly from Germany, France and the Benelux (e.g. Macron, Juncker) avidly defend the creation of an European Army. You don't need to be a geopolitics genius to infer the grave consequences such move would have to the European peoples' welfare.

As long as NATO exists, Western Europe will remain firmly in American hands.

Besides, there's also the ideological factor.

Many Europeans still see today the USA as their "most illustrious child", their continuation as the Western Civilization's center. New York is the new Paris+London. They see themselves as the dwarf countries they really are and rationalize that, ultimately, it is better to live under the hegemony of another Western nation than under the hegemony of the "yellows" (i.e. Chinese) or the "slavics" (i.e. Russia). They really see themselves as a true North Atlantic family, which share the same race and the same cultural values.

These Atlanticists are specially numerous in the UK, which is not surprising, given its geographic location and the fact that it was indeed the country that founded the USA.

Walter , Jan 20 2020 19:17 utc | 6
Of course Iran and what happens in Iraq are joined at the hip...

Professor Maranadi>

"Seyed Mohammad Marandi
@s_m_marandi
·
10m
Many believe an economic crisis lies ahead of the US & the timing of the crash will determine the fate of Trump's re-election bid. However, another threat looms. If the US fails to swiftly comply with Iraqi demands to end the occupation, the resistance will become very violent."

and in Germany?

USA warnen: "Unmittelbar bevorstehender Angriff auf US-Militärs in Deutschland". RT/D

"Pulling back" may suit the Clowns, but agreement requires more than that if there's to be no child.

The Clowns are not contract capable. The only "deal" is for the imperial forces to leave the ME... the only deal is action....Of one sort or another. The clowns imagine a glorious victory over smoking ruins.

Careful what ya' wish fer, fellas...

erik , Jan 20 2020 19:21 utc | 7
Fatwa or not, Iran must have the bomb, for the same reason NoKo had to build it. It's the only way to lance the boil and move on from under the incessant threats from the United States. We won't let up, even if it takes 100 years, and they have to know this. They do have the engineering know how to do it; now they must, but they will have to be discrete and stockpile enough 90% U235, then fiddle around with the details involved in assembling a staged device with enough yield so it's understood by all. I expect this whole process will now move forward.
bjd , Jan 20 2020 19:21 utc | 8
Iran should finally make haste with:
a. developing nukes
b. the asymmetric warfare as we move into election season


tucenz , Jan 20 2020 19:25 utc | 9
So, what does Iran actually gain by leaving the NPT?
Guy THORNTON , Jan 20 2020 19:28 utc | 10
One is reminded of Austria-Hungary's ultimatum to Serbia in 1914: "As the German ambassador to Vienna reported to his government on July 14, the [note] to Serbia is being composed so that the possibility of its being accepted is practically excluded." As Churchill wrote at the time: "it seemed absolutely impossible that any State in the world could accept it, or that any acceptance, however abject, would satisfy the aggressor."

Uncle Sam is fooling nobody.

SteveK9 , Jan 20 2020 19:31 utc | 11
Many people refer to the European countries as 'occupied' (vk) and that is the reason they submit to American policy. I don't believe that is the case. The number of troops is far too small to 'occupy' a country that was resisting an occupation. Those troops were there as a 'trigger' to initiate a conflict with the Soviet Union if it invaded Europe. These days they are just there as some kind of vestigial legacy, and don't really mean anything. The US exercises its control over the EU and elsewhere through its control of international finance and trade. This system benefits the elite of those countries that are part of the 'empire', so has substantial support from influential people inside those countries. Unless and until there is some groundswell of support among the peoples of those countries to change that system, they will continue to be an obedient part of the US empire.

It's not even clear that resistance isn't futile. Those countries that want to maintain independence like Russia, China, Iran, Turkey (?), India (?) also have a strong internal attraction to Western 'culture'. As much as some denigrate that culture as shallow, materialistic, and worthless, it seems to have a very universal attraction around the World, particularly among the young. There are a lot of people everywhere that would like to be a part of a global empire, with a hedonistic Western-style culture. Sad, but true.

Abe , Jan 20 2020 19:32 utc | 12
I tend to agree with comments here saying Iran needs to make bomb.

North Korea proved that truth 100%. No amount of agreements or "guarantees" with usual lying suspects will provide security to Iran - only hard cold nuclear deterrence will.

This time, now, Iran has enough conventional & asymmetrical firepower to deter its enemies long enough for it to develop nukes (few years?).

It already has proven means to deliver warheads, now it needs them.

time2wakeup , Jan 20 2020 19:50 utc | 13
I strongly concur with several other commentators here. Iran should immediately commence enriching uranium to weapons grade levels and assemble at least 10-20 nuclear warheads ASAP if they ever hope to remain an intact, non-US/Israeli dominated country.

The US understands ONLY raw power and who it perceives has it (Israel, North Korea..etc.), and who doesn't (Libya, Syria, Iraq..etc.).

The NPT "Treaty" is nothing more than a cabal of nuclear armed countries attempting to cartel who's allowed to posses a nuclear weapons arsenal and all the rest of the world countries that's ultimately at their mercy.

Cornelius von Hamb , Jan 20 2020 19:59 utc | 14
"So, what does Iran actually gain by leaving the NPT?"

For one thing, it means they won't have to violate that treaty and international law if they decide to take steps that wouldn't be allowed under the NPT terms. It's easy to look at the lawless rogue US regime and forget this, but: some countries actually do try to have some semblance of abiding by and respecting treaties and the rule of law.

Nemesiscalling , Jan 20 2020 20:01 utc | 15
@2 Nemo

I am always taken aback when people compare unsavory characters to members of the primate family. Please do not engage in "zoomorphism." And I am dead fucking serious. Animals do not deserve to be denigrated in such a way. Keep your insults grounded in the human sphere.

lgfocus , Jan 20 2020 20:02 utc | 16
PIERACCINI has a very good article on Strategic Culture on what is happening to The Evil Empires dominance
The End of U.S. Military Dominance: Unintended Consequences Forge a Multipolar World Order
lysias , Jan 20 2020 20:03 utc | 17
The U.S. has already used that tactic of insisting on concessions known to be unacceptable to the other side with the intention of causing war at least twice: to Japan in 1941 and to Yugoslavia before the Kosovo War.
goldhoarder , Jan 20 2020 20:08 utc | 18
Does Iran really need a nuke? They have proven they can hit a US base and Saudi oil infrastructure. It is believed they already have.... or at least have the capability of mining the Strait of Hormuz. If the global financial elite can't get oil out of the gulf... what happens to the global economy? My guess is it would implode. Isn't this the real and only reason the US hasn't bombed Iran back to the stone age yet? They already have deterrence. The US claims about restoring deterrence was just the projection of sociopaths and psychopaths.
tucenz , Jan 20 2020 20:12 utc | 19
re:Cornelius von Hamb | Jan 20 2020 19:59 utc | 14
"For one thing, it means they won't have to violate that treaty and international law if they decide to take steps that wouldn't be allowed under the NPT terms."

Iran says it won't develop nuclear weapons (anti Islamic), so what steps could they possibly be not wanting to rule out?

Virgile , Jan 20 2020 20:17 utc | 20
The state of the JCPOA today bears a lot on Trump's negotiations with North Korea.
Kim Un Jung has be spooked by Bolton comparing North Korea's fate to Libya and by the ease with which US withdrew from the JCPOA. Negotiations have halted.
Trump needs to show that he is serious with deals that he guaranties will be binding the partners more seriously than the flawed JCPOA.
Iran has only one choice: Press Europe to take a stand against the USA, (which will probably not happen) then pull out officially from the JCPOA that has become a liability with no advantages and calls for re-negotiation. Trump will certainly jump in and will try to get the best deal possible by squeezing Iran on its regional role. Yet he can't have too excessive demands as he wants to make a similar deal with North Korea.
Iran could ask for withholding sanctions during negotiations. It could take years to finalize the deal. In the meantime the regional situation could change greatly
That seems to be the only path for Iran.
Laguerre , Jan 20 2020 20:27 utc | 21
According to what is said here, the US is still afraid of attacking Iran, and is going for internal disruption, and sanctions. So what's new? It's been the same policy for forty years. The fact that Trump doesn't like long-term wars, and will only go for a big bang without consequences, is neither here nor there.

Rouhani and his team, including Zarif, seem to me pretty bright, and capable of coping with the politics. Relighting nuclear refinement is essentially a political move.

jared , Jan 20 2020 20:30 utc | 22
Again, find it hard to believe that they are in fact such quisling sycophants to the US.
Suspect they rely on Trump to provide cover for the fact that they (like him) are beholden to higher powers.
winston2 , Jan 20 2020 20:35 utc | 23
The USE of WMDs is haram.
Words mean things B, much as the PC police have twisted their meanings,and even fatwas can be reversed.
The frantic efforts to corral the USSRs nukes were never anything like 100% effective,500+ warheads and tonnes of
plutonium were NEVER accounted for from the KNOWN inventory,who knows what the unknown inventory was ?
Generals of Rocket Forces had to eat,and there were willing buyers for their only wares.
A CIA assessment I was made privy to,the old boys network for an opinion from outside, claimed the Iranians did not have the ability to keep those warheads in working order,which begs a question,how many ?
I told my old schoolmate they were wrong in their assessment, they've had the capability since the Shahs nuclear program.I know Iran very well,worked and lived there ,during the Shah times.

[Jan 20, 2020] The American Evil Empire is the threat. The Eurotrash nations are irrelevant. They are America-appeasing shits, who only provide a "multilateral" skirt for the United States to hide behind

Jan 20, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

ak74 , Jan 20 2020 22:32 utc | 54

The American Evil Empire is the threat.

The Eurotrash nations are irrelevant. They are America-appeasing shits, who only provide a "multilateral" skirt for the United States to hide behind.

Neutralize the America Menace--and you won't have to give a damn what the Euro poodles think, do, or believe.

[Jan 20, 2020] The US has turned into such a fake bullshit nation that nothing the people say who run the place can be trusted.

Jan 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

zard , says: Show Comment January 20, 2020 at 6:29 pm GMT

The US has turned into such a fake bullshit nation that nothing the people say who run the place can be trusted. It is totally a Masonic land where money is God and the decent people are exploited and oppressed. Free speech and democracy are only kosher if the issue is something like Pooper-Scooper Enforcement Officer with no real money or power involved, unless of course there is an impressive uniform which goes with the position.

The brainwashed masses are presently transfixed to their TV's watching the theatre of the fake-impeachment pageant unfold, dutifully believing it is all real. All the performers strut about keeping to their carefully-scripted lines. Like the establishment-hatched fake Russia-bashing campaign, it is all theater. With the impeachment drama intended the polarize the entire nation, the people are once-again being caresully herded into their red and blue stalls in ensure nothing really populist, and not controlled by the establishment cabal running things, gets off of the ground. the entire performance will be so carefully choreographed, on a pro and anti Trump basis that it will also ensure that whomever the ruling cabal anoints will be chosen for the top puppet job.

Like in the US midterm elections in 2018, issues involving US foreign policy were mum. In the coming presidential election, Americans will see no real difference in the leading contenders' position regarding foreign affairs, which most Americans in any case now believe should be left to the military and the agencies who know best how to protect and advance their interests. Once again, any real discussion or debate on foreign policy during the coming election campaign will be taboo, and with the careful censorship of the alternate media, and with no real protest from the American people, who in fact become willing accomplices to any further unjust wars and atrocities their so-called "free" nation commits.

Americans are brought up on Hollywood imagery, life-styles and fantasy. The corporate media and entertainment industry is so pervasive that most of the people cannot discern the difference between fantasy and reality, and as result of their constantly-fed addiction, they now demand more and more theatre and even wars to satisfy their cravings. A false-flag attack, 9/11, on their own people coming from their diabolical "owners", results in being no more than a thrilling performance to make life seem more real. If there was any reality to the people they would long ago have arrested the thousands of insider perps involved, (especially deep-state ones in and out of the US), and long ago they would hung everyone of them.

[Jan 20, 2020] Trump s erraticness is a strong signal he fits to a pattern the Russians have used to depict the US: not agreement capable

Jan 14, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

January 14, 2020 at 12:31 pm

I would put it a bit differently. Trump's erraticness is a strong signal he fits to a pattern the Russians have used to depict the US: "not agreement capable". That's what I meant by he selects for weak partners. His negotiating style signals that he is a bad faith actor. Who would put up with that unless you had to, or you could somehow build that into your price?

Yves Smith Post author, January 15, 2020 at 12:16 am

I have no idea who your mythical Russians are. I know two people who did business in Russia before things got stupid and they never had problems with getting paid. Did you also miss that "Russians" have bought so much real estate in London that they mainly don't live in that you could drop a neutron bomb in the better parts of Chelsea and South Kensington and not kill anyone?

Pray tell, how could they acquire high end property if they are such cheats?

Boomka, January 15, 2020 at 6:38 am

somebody was eating too much US propaganda? how about this for starters:

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/26-years-on-russia-set-to-repay-all-soviet-unions-foreign-debt

"It is politically important: Russia has paid off the USSR's debt to a country that no longer exists," said Mr Yuri Yudenkov, a professor at the Russian University of Economics and Public Administration. "This is very important in terms of reputation: the ability to repay on time, the responsibility," he told AFP.

It would have been very easy for Russia to say it cannot be held responsible for USSR's debts, especially in this case where debt is to a non-existent entity.

drumlin woodchuckles, January 14, 2020 at 7:09 pm

In Syria, the Department of Defense was supporting one group of pet jihadis. The CIA was supporting a different group of pet jihadis.

At times the two groups of pet jihadis were actively fighting each other. I am not sure how the DoD and CIA felt about their respective pet jihadis fighting each other. However they felt, they kept right on arming and supporting their respective groups ...

[Jan 19, 2020] Warmonger Cotton Accuses Antiwar Think Tank of Anti-Semitism by Sheldon Richman

Notable quotes:
"... Coming to Palestine ..."
Jan 17, 2020 | original.antiwar.com
If you wonder what the post-Trump Republican Party will look like, take a glimpse at Tom Cotton, one of the US senators from Arkansas (where I live). Cotton has waged a relentless campaign for war against Iran and has supported every horror produced by the US foreign-policy establishment for the last 20 years. He makes other American hawks look like pacifists. Cotton once said that his only criticism of the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where people are held indefinitely without charge or trial, is that too many beds are empty.

Typical of take-no-prisoners warmongers, Cotton savages critics of the pro-war policy that has characterized US foreign policy in the 21st century. No baseless charge is beneath him. He recently attacked the Quincy Institute in the course of remarks about anti-Semitism. (You can see what's coming.) According to Jewish Insider , Cotton said that anti-Semitism "festers in Washington think tanks like the Quincy Institute, an isolationist blame America first money pit for so-called 'scholars' who've written that American foreign policy could be fixed if only it were rid of the malign influence of Jewish money."

This is worse than a series of malicious lies – every word is false. In fact, it's an attempt to incite hostility toward and even disruption of one of the bright spots on the mostly desolate foreign-policy-analysis landscape.

The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (QI) started last year with money from, among others, the Charles Koch Foundation and George Soros's Open Society Foundations. Its officers and staff include respected and sober foreign-policy analysts and journalists such as Andrew Bacevich, Trita Parsi, Jim Lobe, and Eli Clifton. Also associated with the institute are the well-credentialed foreign-policy authorities John Mearsheimer, Paul Pillar, Gary Sick, Stephen Walt, and Lawrence Wilkerson. This is indeed a distinguished team of foreign-policy "realists" who are heroically resisting America's endless-war-as-first-resort policy.

Named for John Quincy Adams – who as secretary of state famously declared that "America "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy" – QI "promotes ideas that move U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace." The QI website goes on to state:

The US military exists to defend the people and territory of the United States, not to act as a global police force. The United States should reject preventive wars and military intervention to overthrow regimes that do not threaten the United States. Wars of these kinds not only are counterproductive; they are wrong in principle.

It then goes on to indict the current foreign-policy establishment:

The foreign policy of the United States has become detached from any defensible conception of US interests and from a decent respect for the rights and dignity of humankind. Political leaders have increasingly deployed the military in a costly, counterproductive, and indiscriminate manner, normalizing war and treating armed dominance as an end in itself.

Moreover, much of the foreign policy community in Washington has succumbed to intellectual lethargy and dysfunction. It suppresses or avoids serious debate and fails to hold policymakers and commentators accountable for disastrous policies. It has forfeited the confidence of the American public. The result is a foreign policy that undermines American interests and tramples on American values while sacrificing the stores of influence that the United States had earned.

This may not be pure libertarian foreign policy ("US interests" is too slippery a term for my taste), but compared to what passes for foreign-policy thinking these days, it's pretty damn good.

So why is Tom Cotton so upset? It should be obvious. QI opposes the easy-war policy of the last 20 years. Of course Cotton is upset. Take away war, and he's got nothing in his toolbox. He certainly doesn't want to see the public turn antiwar before he's had a shot at high office, say, secretary of state, secretary of defense, CIA director, or even the presidency.

Cotton's charges against QI are wrong on every count.

QI is not isolationist as long as it supports trade with the world and diplomacy as the preferred method of resolving conflicts.

It's not a blame-America-first outfit because the object of its critique is not America or Americans, but the imperial war-loving elite of the American political establishment. Cotton is part of that elite, but that does not entitle him to identify the mass of Americans with his lethal policy preferences.

It's not a money pit. As you can see, QI boasts an eminent lineup thinkers and writers. So the money is obviously well-spent on badly needed analysis. QI should have been set up long ago. Cotton shows his pettiness by putting the word scholars in sarcasm quotes. He should aspire to such scholarship as Bacevich, Parsi, et al. have produced.

But where Cotton really shows his agenda is his absurd claim that anti-Semitism "festers" in QI (and other think tanks – which ones?).

Cotton here is performing that worn-out trick that, alas, still has some life in it: conflating criticism of Israel and its American lobby with people who are Jewish (and who may well oppose how the Israeli state mistreats the Palestinians). I'm sure he knows better: this is demagogy and not ignorance.

On its face, the proposition that virtually anyone who criticizes Israel's conduct toward the Palestinians and its Arab and Iranian neighbors probably hates Jews as Jews is patently ridiculous. Any clear-thinking person dismisses that claim out of hand.

Undoubtedly Cotton has in mind primarily Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, authors of The Israel Lobby and Foreign Policy , published in 2008. (It began as an essay in The London Review of Books .) In that work, Walt and Mearsheimer reasonably attribute the lion's share of influence on US policy in the Middle East to the Israel lobby, "a loose coalition of individuals and organizations that actively works to move US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction." They add, "[I]t is certainly not a cabal or conspiracy that 'controls' US foreign policy. It is simply a powerful interest group, made up of both Jews and gentiles, whose acknowledged purpose is to press Israel's case within the United States and influence American foreign policy in ways that its members believe will benefit the Jewish state."

This is hardly controversial stuff, although reasonable people can disagree over whether the lobby was decisive in any given case.

But does anyone doubt that American champions of Israel work overtime and spend a lot of money to advance what they see as Israel's interests? If so, see this and my book Coming to Palestine . (Many non-Zionist Jews disagree with them about those interests.) Organizations like AIPAC often boast about their influence. That they sincerely believe Israel's interests coincide with America's interests is beside the point. (I won't address that dubious contention here.) That influence, which supports massive annual military aid to Israel, has helped to facilitate the oppression of the Palestinians, wars against Lebanon, and attacks on Syria, Iraq, and Iran. It has also provoked hostility to America and vengeful terrorism against Americans. (For example, the 9/11 attacks as acknowledged by the government's commission .) Pro-Israel American political and military officials acknowledge this.

Cotton need not wonder why the lobby has succeeded so often since he himself is using the anti-Semitism canard to inhibit Israel's critics. No one wants to be condemned as anti-Semite (or as any other kind of bigot), so we can easily imagine prominent people in the past withholding criticism of Israel for fear of being thought anti-Jewish. (It's Israel and its champions, not Israel's critics, who insist that Israel is the state of all Jews, no matter where else they may be citizens.) Thankfully, despite the efforts of Cotton, Kenneth Marcus, Bari Weiss , Bret Stephens, and others, the invidious conflation has lost much of its force. More than ever, people understand that to oppose the entangling alliance with Israel and to express solidarity with the long-suffering Palestinians do not constitute bigotry against Jews.

Can Cotton produce any evidence that anyone at QI believes that pro-Israel Jewish Americans should be barred from lobbying and making political donations or that such an obvious violation of liberty would fix American foreign policy? Of course not. There is no evidence. Moreover, I'm sure the QI realists understand that other interests also propel the pro-war US foreign policy, including glory-seeking politicians and generals and the profit-craving military-industrial complex.

Those who reflexively and slanderously tar Israel's critics as anti-Semites seem not to realize that the worthy effort to eliminate real anti-Semitism is undermined by their efforts to immunize Israel and its American champions from good-faith criticism.

Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute , senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society , and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com . He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies, former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education , and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation . His latest book is Coming to Palestine . Reposted from The Libertarian Institute .

[Jan 19, 2020] The US has been relying on the thing that Dr. Pauwels describes as the "warfare economy"

Jan 19, 2020 | journal-neo.org

Back in 2003, an alternative media site based in Belgium – Indy Media, published a rather clever article titled "Why America Needs War" drafted by a renowned political scientist, Jacques R. Pauwels. Due to the fact that this article has recently been republished by a well-known and respected alternative media site Global Research, a lot of attention has been drawn to the topic of Washington's never-ending wars. In the above-mentioned article it was stated that wars are a terrible waste of lives and resources, and for that reason most people are in principle opposed to wars. However, with the US being locked in a state of perpetual conflict with other international players, it's only natural to wonder what is wrong with American politicians? Are they all suffering from some mental disease?

The reason the events we're observing on the global stage are actually taking place is the fact that the US has been relying on the thing that Dr. Pauwels describes as the "warfare economy" that the US has been relying on for over a century now. This economy allows wealthy individuals and corporations to profit from violence and bloodshed, which makes them prone to advocating wars instead of peaceful conflict resolution. Yet, the article states that without warm or cold wars, however, this system can no longer produce the expected result in the form of the ever-higher profits the moneyed and powerful of America consider as their birthright. It's clear that the US couldn't escape the cold grip of the Great Depression without entering WWII, however, as it's been stated in the above-mentioned article:

During the Second World War, the wealthy owners and top managers of the big corporations learned a very important lesson: during a war there is money to be made, lots of money. In other words, the arduous task of maximizing profits -- the key activity within the capitalist American economy -- can be absolved much more efficiently through war than through peace; however, the benevolent cooperation of the state is required.

Yet, the people of the United States didn't notice this change as they were mesmerized by the rapidly growing wages and booming corporations that needed an ever increasing number of new employees. That's why there's been no real opposition to America's warmongering inside the US, which means that Washington will be looking for new enemies even when it has none. This results in the states like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela, that were willing at one point or another to discuss their differences with the US, being antagonized and getting designated as a threat to the US and its national security.

That's why the military expenditures in the US keep going through the roof, with research and development programs for the US military getting unprecedented funding. However, what is being presented as a race towards greater security represents a shameless siphoning of the money paid by American taxpayer into the pockets of the major defence contractors. It would be only logical if the US legal system, instead of investigating dubious reports of Russia's alleged meddling in the US election, would take a closer look at the way blood money is shaping the world of US politics.

Will Baghdad Defy Washington? Iraqi Parliament Contemplates Buying Russia's S-400 Missile Defense System

Let us recall that the US military budget for 2020 has for the first time reached the mind-numbing sum of 750 billion dollars! Over the past few decades, the United States has invested some 30 billion dollars in various weapons programs, all of which have to one degree or another failed, according to The National Interest.

There's no shortage of media reports showing the complete failure of modern American weapons, which, in spite of the massive sums wasted on their development, cannot protect either the United States or its allies.

For instance, The National Interest has recently taken the effort to draw a comparison between the Russian Su-35 jet-fighter and a total of four American competitors: F-15s, F-16s, F-22s, and F-35s. The publication came to a disappointing conclusion that in spite of the massive advertisement campaign that accompanied the development of F-35, it cannot stand its ground against its Russian counterpart.

The ill-fated F-35 has recently been included in the list of the worst weapons ever produced by the US Army due to its unbelievably high cost and reliability issues, says the Business Insider. Therefore, it is not surprising that on top of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan announcing his intention of buying Russian Su-35 and Su-57 fighters instead of siding with the US, Germany has also made it clear that it has no intentions of acquiring this overpriced winged catastrophe from the United States. To add insult to injury, the American portal We Are The Mighty has recently listed a total of three Russian fighters in the Top 5 list of the fastest jets in the history of military aviation.

At sea, the situation is no better. In the event of a hypothetical military conflict between the United States and Russia, even in the Black Sea, American aircraft carrier groups would get obliterated rather quickly by Russian diesel submarines, land mobile missile systems and small but dangerous missile boats. That's even before land-based aviation units armed with hypersonic anti-ship missiles dubbed the Dagger would have something to say about it, says The National Interest. Another publication emphasizes that Russian missile corvettes, that go at a price of 30 million dollars a pop have four times the missile range of the latest US destroyers and cruisers that come with a price tag of 2 billion dollars.

But it was the American missile defense systems, especially the Patriot, that have recently covered themselves with scandalous shame. A year ago, US President Donald Trump announced that among the new priorities of the Pentagon the sale of US missile defense systems to its allies ranked really high. To achieve this goal, Washington tried to force those states that chose a far more effective solutions – Russia's S-300 and S-400 to rethink their decision. These attempts resulted in Washington introducing sanctions against some of its closest allies, such as Turkey, India and Morocco.

Meanwhile, The National Interest admits that the new Russian S-500 is by far the most effective air defense system in existence, while The Hill acknowledges that Russia's hypersonic weapons have rendered such US missile defense systems as Patriot and THAAD meaningless.

A year ago, the United States announced that a network of ground and surface missile interceptors, radars and communications lines at a price tag of 180 billion dollars could protect the country from a limited attack launched by the DPRK or Iran. However, shortly after this statement was made, US-produced air defense systems failed to repel a surprise drone attack on Saudi oil refineries, thus demonstrating their low efficiency. At the same time, it will not be out of place to recall that a grand total of 88 Patriot launchers cover the northern border of Saudi Arabia, with three more US NAVY destroyers armed with the Aegis system being stationed off shore in the same area. None of these systems responded to the attack.

Yet again, during a retaliatory strike launched by Iran, American air defense systems were powerless to shoot down a single missile launched against two US bases in Iraq.

That is why a number of Western military clients have recently taken steps to acquire Russian alternatives. This was the result of serious flaws in US-produced air defense systems, such as the Patriot, the repeated failures of which have recently become apparent in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The last of these clients was South Korea, which has long shown strong interest in Russian military jets and air defense systems, but was unable to acquire them due to the pressure being applied on it from Washington.

Those facts show that the military vehicles and aircraft advertised by Western media are only good as scrap metal. Actually, this became clear to everyone, when Washington decided to show its rusty armored vehicles on the parade assembled in celebration of last year's Independence Day.

*

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Vladimir Platov , an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook ".

[Jan 19, 2020] The Face of the Modern US Army

Jan 19, 2020 | journal-neo.org

Starting from 2001, the US has been spending $32 million per hour on war .

The United States has spent about $6 trillion on combat operations over the past 20 years, according to Brown University studies . If the warfare ends by 2023, researchers estimate the total cost will be $6.7 trillion at least, not counting the interest on debt.

In total, almost half a million people have died as a result of the wars.

The cost of 87 major programs for the purchase of weapons and military equipment conducted by the US Department of Defense exceeded $2 trillion in 2018, according to the Pentagon's Selected Acquisition Reports (SAR), which detail the implementation of major defense purchases. The combined cost of all procurement programs was determined by the Pentagon to be over $2 trillion. This is equivalent to almost 10% of the annual gross domestic product of the United States ($21.3 trillion).

Trying to justify such exorbitant spending on the army, the US military and political elites actively promote their interests, advertising the national armed forces as the main fighting force. Recently, Joseph F. Dunford, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared that 'there are no forces today capable of resisting an attack by the US Army.' Unsurprisingly, the Department of Defense (DoD) desires even more money, although there is no logical explanation as to why the most powerful army on the planet is in need of improvement when everyone else is clearly lagging behind.

But what is the real face of the US Army today and how does the public feel about it?

Global Research correctly remarked that, despite the largest military budget in the world (five times greater than in six other countries), the highest number of military bases in the world (over 180) and the most expensive military-industrial complex, the United States has failed to win a single war in the 21 st century.

Every year, Pew Research Center publishes hundreds of studies on a wide range of topics. Concerning the current problems of the US military, Pew studies note that most American veterans and the majority of the general US public believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting. Over 60% of the American public is convinced that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not paid off, when the costs and benefits are weighed. Responding to questions about the US military campaign in Syria, 55% of veterans and 58% of the American public said that this campaign failed to pay off as well.

Frustration with the country's military policy has now become a big problem among active US servicemen, veterans, and even among young soldiers who haven't participated in real combat.

The incautious question 'How has serving impacted you?' posted by the Pentagon's official Twitter account, has revealed the deep chasm of the US military's problems. So deep, in fact, that the Pentagon had to urgently close and remove a huge number of subsequent replies, most of which turned out to be very depressing in nature. US Army soldiers and officers shared the shocking consequences of their service, including drug addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders and nightmares – some admitting they had repeatedly wanted to commit suicide.

Currently there are up to 19 million retired veterans 'in the most belligerent democratic country in the world.' Every day, about 20 of them commit suicide. The causes of suicide cited by experts are diverse, the main ones being depressions, nervous breakdowns, spiritual and psychological devastation coupled with guilt for killing innocent people, post-traumatic stress disorder, increased military operations, medical abuse, and personal financial problems. Social media are full of horrific stories about how injured soldiers weren't provided necessary medical attention during military operations, which drove them to shooting themselves in the head. Meanwhile junior army members state that they are basically expendable for their commanders, and all of them combined present an endless means of earning money for the highest elite.

Suicides are rampant among all the branches of US troops, and their rate is increasing. US officials deliberately hide the horrific statistics of suicides among military personnel, seriously concerned about the increase in their number since they negatively affect the future of the 'most powerful armed forces in the world.' To date, suicide is the second leading cause of death among members of the US military.

Another extremely troubling statistic was revealed by experts from the American publishing house McClatchy. They studied the health of the US servicemen who had taken part in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 -- 2015. They have been literally mowed down by cancer, which is confirmed by the sudden increase in the number of cancer patients in military hospitals in Virginia. As it turned out, a significant cause of the disease is toxic rocket fuel, which was used to massively burn garbage and waste near military bases. In addition, it turned out that the fire foam used to extinguish these fires also causes cancer. It was quite often that US soldiers had to dispose of garbage and waste in war zones, including human corpses and animal carcasses. The Pentagon has not yet commented on the finding and is in no hurry to grant applications for disability benefits; out of 11,000 applications only 2000 have been 'lucky' so far.

The Heritage Foundation analysts published a report which shows that the US Army is at its limits. One curious fact is significant: the conclusion about the decline of efficiency and combat capability of the US Army came not from Russian or Chinese sources, but from American analysts, which is further proof of the systemic problems in the Pentagon. The Heritage Foundation analysts agree that right now, considering the current state of the US Army, simultaneous participation in several wars is leading to its noticeable overexertion.

Taking this into account, Washington can only be advised to tread more carefully on the international arena, avoid provoking armed conflicts that can lead to severe military defeats for the US Army and result in sizable human losses, both among current servicemen and veterans.

In the words of the Spanish newspaper El Pais , "The Americans pose a much greater danger to themselves than the Islamists, North Koreans, Russians, Houthis and all those who comprise the US-declared 'axis of evil' do."

Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine " New Eastern Outlook ".

[Jan 19, 2020] Trump Can Learn From Morgenthau's 6 Principles of Political Realism by Nathan A. Sears

The author is rabid neocon. He ignores mechanism of collective security like UN.
Jan 19, 2020 | nationalinterest.org
six principles of political realism , found in his seminal work Politics Among Nations . The second, fourth and fifth principles are of particular relevance to the current administration. Morgenthau's second principle states that "the main signpost that helps political realism to find its way through the landscape of international politics is the concept of interest defined as power." Morgenthau believed that international politics is fundamentally a struggle for power (understood in terms of the mutual relations of political control between nation-states), and that peace is often tenuous in a world lacking a sovereign authority that can protect the interests and survival of individual states (an insight that has been codified in the neorealist conception of "international anarchy"). As a result, the "national interest" is primarily concerned with the resources (especially military and economic capabilities) and limitations (primarily the balance of power) that determine the national power of the state in international politics.

The fourth principle states that "political realism is aware of the moral significance of political action, but maintains that moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of states in their abstract universal formulation." Morgenthau did not reject ethical considerations in foreign policy (as is clear from his criticisms of the Vietnam War), but believed that political prudence (i.e., the practical consideration of the consequences of foreign policy) requires that moral principles be "filtered" through the "concrete circumstances" of power politics. Moral ends should be pursued to the extent that they are within the limits of national power and are consistent with national interests. The fifth principle takes this one step further by stating that "political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe." Morgenthau cautioned against the dangers of national "exceptionalism," which can lead to "political folly," such as the fighting of wars that do nothing to advance or protect the national interest, and can cause unnecessary human suffering through "moral excess." Thus, "moderation in policies cannot fail to reflect the moderation of moral judgment."

President Trump criticized the Obama administration for getting outplayed and outsmarted by Russian president Vladimir Putin, and yet he seems to be falling into the same trap as Obama by thinking that he can do better vis-à-vis Russia through diplomatic rapprochement. The problem is to see U.S. foreign-policy challenges with respect to Russia in terms of misunderstandings between political leaders and administrations, rather than the fundamental differences between United States and Russian national interests. Russia seeks to increase its power and sphere of influence while the United States aims to maintain hegemony. If the current administration seeks rapprochement by making concessions to Russia (e.g., by rolling back sanctions), then foreign-policy analysts will soon be writing about another failed "reset." On China, Trump broke with diplomatic precedent by accepting a phone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, which called into question the United States' commitment to a "One China" policy. The problem here is for foreign policy to extend beyond power, since the military balance within the first island chain -- and specifically in a Taiwan war -- is rapidly shifting in China's favor. While realism suggests that geopolitical rivalry between China and the United States is inevitable, interest as power would suggest that picking a fight with China over Taiwan is not a prudent course for U.S. foreign policy.

[Jan 19, 2020] Former Kamikaze Pilots Address Japanese Youth New Eastern Outlook

Jan 19, 2020 | journal-neo.org

... ... ...

Two brothers are warning Japan not to succumb to this temptation, who were in one of the Imperial Japanese Navy's kamikaze groups during the final stage of the war on Pacific, but the war ended before they had the chance to fulfil their sacrificial military duty. Both elderly veterans (97 and 99 years old) felt they needed to tell students and teachers at Waseda University -- one of Japan's most prestigious institutions -- "what [to] do to ensure that we don't repeat an event like the war."

They asked students to consider their speech and answers to questions as their "last message" to the youth of today in Japan. They did not choose these words at random. Kamikaze soldiers would write a "last message" to their closest relatives before flying or sailing out on a mission which they would obviously not return from (these brothers were suicide vessel pilots, so they did not fly).

The kamikaze tactic is a centuries-old, very specifically Japanese cultural and military phenomenon. When other cultures try to copy the Japanese it turns into a parody or a meaningless act of gang violence. One of these parodies was an attempt made by the German Luftwaffe to do "something similar" to the Japanese kamikaze soldiers in the last days of the Second World War.

Then there are today's Islamist terrorists (pumped up with drugs) who do not value their own lives or anyone else's, and their acts have nothing in common with this concept.

Kamikaze volunteers were mainly undergraduates, which is reflected in the content and style of their "last messages". The two brothers who gave their lecture at Waseda University were both students when they voluntarily joined the Imperial Japanese Navy's kamikaze unit. This is probably one reason why they chose to address students with the "last message" they have now written.

Of course, we must take into account that the young sailors from 75 years ago and the elderly people who speak today are ultimately different people. Japan has experienced a lot since the war ended, as has the world in general, and the two brothers. All this experience has undoubtedly affected how the former kamikaze soldiers think about what happened "then" and what their "last message" should be, which they have now passed on. Apart from that, they will leave this world in a very different way than the kamikaze soldiers did 75 years ago.

The first thing the audience at Waseda University were interested in hearing about were the "last messages" written by kamikaze fighters, which make for extremely moving reading, even to this day . They were not dictated what to write, but the authors knew that their letters would be read by "the relevant authorities." This is, by the way, what happens to messages sent by servicemen from all different countries during times of war.

According to one of the brothers, not one of the kamikaze soldiers he knew really wanted to die, and even then it was clear that the war was meaninglessness: "Do not follow my example," said the author in his message after 75 years had passed. "That's what I want to leave with the young people today."

In this author's opinion, the main sentiment in the "last message" given by the two former kamikaze fighters, namely that "war is hell", has a great measure of "the wisdom of hindsight." That does not take away from this wisdom whatsoever, it is not something to be consigned to the history books in today's Japan. It is very relevant considering the persistent attempts the country's leadership has been making to "revise" Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution outlawing war, which would go directly against the prevailing sentiment in Japanese society.

Japan and its former Axis ally Germany have managed to climb to the top of the world's political and economic hierarchy without firing a single shot and without any bloodshed. Without harming any enemies or allies. In today's rapidly changing world, Japan and Germany will only strengthen their positions on the world stage if they can resist temptation and do not get trapped in the same vicious circle they got caught up in a century ago.

Moreover, it would be a perfect time for them to reignite and lead the (mistakenly forgotten) "world peace movement". It could not be more relevant in the current critical stage of the "Grand Global Game".

Something similar seems to have been implied in the "last message" passed on by the two former kamikaze soldiers.

Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook" .

[Jan 19, 2020] Are Americans sick of forign wars for the US-centered neoliberal empire?

Jan 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

V , Jan 18 2020 6:03 utc | 103

Americans are sick of war. War anywhere.

I do not believe that for a second.
US initiated wars have been going on for decades, but I see no indication that US americans have any issues with it. The political parties are totally aligned on foreign wars, there are no people protesting in US cities.
Posted by: Norwegian | Jan 17 2020 21:46 utc | 27

I do not believe it either!

Since a good many Usians are morally bankrupt; they spend words like cheap cash.

Why not? It keeps them from having to actually do anything.

It's all out there; the lies, theft, murders, kidnapping, torture, and a corrupt educational system.

...and the band played on...


aye, myself & me , Jan 18 2020 6:35 utc | 107

@ V # 103
'It's all out there; the lies, theft, murders, kidnapping, torture, and a corrupt educational system.
...and the band played on..."

The band plays on folks, because of that corrupt educational system. Every school kid in america is brainwashed from nursery school, kindergarten, even before the formal waste of time. Then if they decide on college, unless their parents are one percenters, or hollywood insiders the kids are in hock to the tune of six figures when they grab that diploma. No one has time to protest anymore. 'They' have 'em by the balls and they're in a vice bein' squeezed daily. Most have to pull two, or even three jobs, just to get by. No one has the time to realize all of america's boogeymen are cia assets.

Besides, one's protesting against one of the most powerful militaries in the world and the police state is ever tightening here. Protesting is pretty much a fool's errand anymore, if it's against the government in general it's not covered by the msm, so only the protesters and their friends are aware of it.

Life if rough for many americans struggling to get by. They don't have time to protest, however, if the dollar were to lose it's world currency and our financial systems collapses there could be a revolt with all the guns here, but i wouldn't count on it looking anything like america's first revolution.

uncle tungsten , Jan 18 2020 7:06 utc | 111
V #103

Thank you, my thoughts exactly. The USians are propagandised from cradle to grave every state has at least one Fort xyz and every stadium has military spectacles to ogle at. No football game without a military parade.

It will take a Herculean effort to turn that propaganda around and thankfully there are two candidates dedicated to that effort. More strength to their arm.

On the impeachment issue my take is like this:

Trump really cant afford to lose too many of them especially if the first motion to dismiss the impeachment case is to succeed. He can only be removed from office if there is a two thirds senate majority on the proposal to remove.

But a simple majority is what he has to hold to succeed at defeating all other forms of censure motions and getting the witnesses he wants dragged before the Senate.

The numbers are:

Democrazies 45

Independent 2

Repugnants 53

So three repugnant defectors would give a tied vote (assuming the independents vote with the democrazies).

Not a comfortable position and certainly not now after assassinating Souleimani, Afghanistan war report looking ugly and who knows what else. The 'permanent state' gangsters can do much damage to his brittle ego by getting four repugnants to defect.

So if Trump is damaged goods going into the election cycle he could well be defeated by Bernie Sanders IF he can overcome the jackals in the democazie party machine. Hope is all I have.

V , Jan 18 2020 9:49 utc | 118
Life is rough for many americans struggling to get by. They don't have time to protest, however, if the dollar were to lose it's world currency and our financial systems collapses there could be a revolt with all the guns here, but i wouldn't count on it looking anything like america's first revolution.
Posted by: aye, myself & me | Jan 18 2020 6:35 utc | 107

Yea, I know. I have a sister living in Oregon. She's still working @ 70yo.
Revolution almost never has a good ending; in the U.S., at this time; it would be the worst, IMO.

Carciofi , Jan 18 2020 13:11 utc | 133
"Americans are sick of war"

Probably a sizeable chunk of the people. But not the ruling class.

"Most of this carnage by the United States is done in the name of dishonest and non-existent defense of country, of "spreading democracy" or of forced regime change based on the lie of protecting by force the people of other lands. The truth of all these politically motivated lies is that the brutality of U.S. aggression is purposeful slaughter for political and geo-political gain, all at the expense of innocent populations around the globe."
DFC , Jan 18 2020 17:59 utc | 154
So Trump said:

"I want to win," he said. "We don't win any wars anymore . . . We spend $7 trillion, everybody else got the oil and we're not winning anymore."..."I wouldn't go to war with you people,"..."You're a bunch of dopes and babies."

If this is true, it means that Trump does not consider those ME wars useless or unwinnables, but only the people who manage them are not clever or resolute enough, which is quite scary, because imply that instead of "dupes and babies" if he put in charge "winners" and "real men" may be they can "go to Theran", or "win a land war in Asia" (Montgomery recommend not to start any never).

This language about "winners" and "losers" is so....American, it means that you do not "win" or "lose" as a matter of life, NO, but you are inherently a "winner" (always win)or a f**king "loser", it is the predestinationist (calvinistic) roots of the American culture and you can see it clearly in almost all the Hollywood movies with the "good gay" ("winner") overcoming an incredible number of obstacles, and at the end he kills all the "bad gays" ("losers"). It is all about is the Good against the Evil, the Winners (The Justs) against the Losers (The Doomed)

May be now the "winners" start to learn (again) how to lose (as in Vietnam), and this cultural roots make very dangerous for the US to lose a war, because it crumbles all this narrative of the Manifest Destiny, the Chosen People, and all that BS. The blow back could be devastating.

I think The American people love wars, they love to see in the CNN Tomahawks flying inside the Revolucionary Guard buildings and blowing them, US helicopters piercing with missiles the Iraqi APAC's packed with soldiers, the Abrams tanks blowing-up the Iraqi T72 with DU rounds, the videos US planes crushing the hangars, the command centers, the A10 straffing with their guns the "Highway of Death" and the bodies of Saddam soldiers scorched black inside the destroyed buses...They like it, especially if you carefully hide the busted bodies of woman and children from the cameras, or conceal the dead and injures GI's. They like the new tech weapons and how they "work" against the "bad guys"

American people love wars, what they hate is losing wars...and Trump represents, as someone said, what a good percentage of American people want to be, it is the archetype of "The Winner", a populists "Caesar", the last chance of a crumbling Empire

[Jan 19, 2020] The Little-Known Loophole in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty The National Interest

Jan 19, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

North Korea's cavalier rejection of its NPT membership in 2003 is a prime example , but many saw it as a case not applicable to most member states. However, more recently, Saudi Arabia , and Turkey and Iran (which, after the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, is looking for new ways to upset Washington), have gone so far as ti layout terms under which they would leave the treaty and even obtain nuclear weapons, statements without precedent in the treaty's history.

A number of otherwise respectable member countries, such as South Korea , also have political parties in their legislatures that advocate treaty withdrawal and acquisition of nuclear weapons.

We have to take seriously the possibility that -- without international action to arrest this tendency -- the already frayed bonds that tie countries to the NPT and the pledge not to acquire nuclear weapons may not hold. This would presage a world with many more nuclear states and a vastly increased risk of nuclear use.

Victor Gilinsky is program advisor for the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) in Arlington, Virginia. He served on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Henry Sokolski is executive director of NPEC and the author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future (second edition 2019). He served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the office of the U.S. secretary of defense in the Cheney Pentagon.

[Jan 19, 2020] Did Washington played on oil price hike threat to achive Genramny, France and GB compliance

Jan 19, 2020 | www.wsws.org

Britain and the EU powers fear Washington's ever-escalating aggression against Iran will spark an all-out war that will redound against their own imperialist interests, even if it doesn't immediately draw in Russia and China. A war would send oil prices soaring, roil the European economy, spark another massive refugee crisis and further radicalize a growing working class counter-offensive.

No doubt Pompeo and others have told the Europeans that if they want to restrain Trump, avert a major conflagration and retain influence in the Middle East, they must rally behind Washington and its maximum pressure campaign.

To these dubious incentives, the Trump administration added a trade war threat, according to a report published yesterday by the Washington Post under the title, "Days before Europeans warned Iran of nuclear deal violations, Trump secretly threatened to impose 25 percent tariff on European autos if they didn't."

[Jan 19, 2020] Iran The EU-three Trigger Dispute Mechanism in Iran Nuclear Deal New Eastern Outlook

Jan 19, 2020 | journal-neo.org

Why, after so many assurances to the contrary, have the three European Iran's Nuclear Deal Partner's – Germany, France, the UK – decided to go after Iran, to follow the US dictate again?

The short answer is because the cowards. They have zero backbone to stand up against the US hegemony, because they are afraid to be sanctioned – as Trump indicated if they were to honor the" Nuclear Deal". Iran is absolutely in their right to progressively increase uranium enrichment, especially since the US dropped out unilaterally, without any specific reasons, other than on Netanyahu's orders – of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also called Iran's Nuclear Deal.

Just a few days ago Ms. Angela Merkel met with President Putin in Moscow, and BOTH pledged in front of a huge press crowd that the Nuclear Deal must stay, must be maintained and validated.

And now, because of Trump's Barbarian threats, trade threats on Europe – an increase of up to 25% import taxes on European cars – and wanting a new deal with Iran, whatever that means, they, the Europeans – the three Nuclear Deal partners, back down. Why not call Trump's bluff? As China did. This Barbarian Kingpin is lashing around his deathbed with tariffs and sanctions, it is only a sign of weakness, a sign of slowly but surely disappearing in the – hopefully – bottomless abyss.

This threesome is a bunch of shameless and hopeless cowards. They have not realized yet that the west, starting with the US empire, is passé. It's a sinking ship. It's high time for Iran to orient herself towards the east. Iran is already a Middle-Eastern key hub for the Chinese Belt and Road initiative (BRI), or the New Silk road. Iran can do without Europe; and the US needs Europe more than vice-versa. But the 'chickens' haven't noticed that yet.

On the behest of Washington, the Trump clown, they, Germany, France and the UK, want to start an official dispute process, bringing Iran back to where it was before the Nuclear Deal, and reinstating all the UN sanctions of before the signature of the deal in July 2015. And this despite the fact that Iran has adhered to their part of the deal by 100%, as several times attested to by the Atomic Energy Commission in Vienna. Can you imagine what these abhorrent Europeans are about to do?

This reminds of how Europe pilfered, robbed and raped Africa and the rest of the now called developing world, for hundreds of years. No ethics, no qualms, just sheer egocentricity and cowardice. The European Barbarians and those on the other side of the Atlantic deserve each other. And they deserve disappearing in the same bottomless pit.

Iran may consider three ideas:

1) Call the European bluff. Let them start the dispute process – and let them drive it all the way to the UN Security Council. Their spineless British Brother in Crime, BoJo, also called the British Prime-Minister, Boris Johnson, will do the job for them, bringing the case "Iran Nuclear Deal – and Sanctions" to the UN Security Council – where it will fail, because Russia and China will not approve the motion.

2) Much more important, Dear Friends in Iran – do not trust the Europeans for even one iota ! – They have proven time and again that they are not trustworthy. They buckle under every time Trump is breaking wind – and

3) Dedollarize your economy even faster – move as far as possible away from the west – join the Eastern economy, that controls at least one third of the world's GDP. You are doing already a lot in this direction – but faster. Join the SCO – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, comprising half of Mother Earth's population; ditch the dollar and the SWIFT payment system, join instead the Chinese Interbank Payment System (CIPS) – and be free of the sanction-prone western monetary system. Eastern monetary transactions are blocking out western dollar-based sanctions. Already your hydrocarbon trades with China, Russia, India and others are not carried out in US dollars, but in local currencies, Chinese yuans, Russian rubles and Indian rupees.

True – Iran will have to confront Iran-internally the western (NATO) and CIA trained, funded and bought Atlantists, the Fifth Columnists. They are the ones that create constant virulently violent unrest in the cities of Iran; they are trained – and paid for – to bring about Regime Change. That's what Russia and China and Venezuela and Cuba are also confronted with. They, the Fifth Columnists have to be eradicated. It's a challenge, but it should be doable.

Follow the Ayatollah's route. He is on the right track – looking East.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. After working for over 30 years with the World Bank he penned Implosion , an economic thriller, based on his first-hand experience. Exclusively for the online magazine " New Eastern Outlook. "

[Jan 18, 2020] Ike's Military-Industrial Complex, Six Decades Later

So in retrospect Ike was one of the founding fathers of military industrial complex and the politics of Full Spectrum Dominance
Notable quotes:
"... Yet on January 17, 1961, Ike said: "Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea." He continued: "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government." ..."
"... In addition, Ike's America maintained substantial garrisons in Western Europe and Japan. At the same time, and more precariously, U.S. troops, advisers, and operatives fanned out across the globe, including to Lebanon, South Vietnam, and Iran. ..."
"... Then came the money sentences: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." ..."
"... In fact, we all need a phrase that captures the immensity of the military establishment. The budget of the Department of Defense (DoD) for fiscal year 2020 will be about $718 billion ; DoD directly employs 1.3 million men and women in active duty, as well as more than 700,000 civilian employees. (Another 800,000 serve in the National Guard and reserves.) ..."
"... Indeed, the huge Pentagon budget doesn't fully capture the true scale of the military-industrial complex. To get a better measure, we should also include portions of other agencies harboring substantial military elements, including the CIA, NASA, and the departments of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Energy (the last of which manages the nuclear stockpile). ..."
"... Six decades later, we must ask ourselves: is the Great Equation still in place? As a nation, are we maintaining all the components of power -- military, economic, and spiritual -- in proper balance? And as we search for the right answer, we might pause over one subtlety in the Eisenhower equation: per the rules of multiplication, if any one of the three components falls to zero, then the product is zero, regardless of the size of the other two components. ..."
"... Many argue that, in fact, U.S. policy has been reduced to just one component -- the military. That is, whom can we threaten, bomb, or occupy? ..."
"... This over-militarization of policy was ably chronicled in Dana Priest's 2003 ..."
"... , The Mission Waging War and Keeping Peace With America's Military ..."
"... . The author describes a Pentagon that had grown so powerful bureaucratically that it had overwhelmed the State Department -- and nowhere more so than in the Middle East. ..."
"... Gosh, but we still have to privatize, several economies (China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, etc.) for the benefit of Wall Street et. comp. How can we do that without DoD...? ..."
Jan 15, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

January 17 marks the 59th anniversary of President Dwight Eisenhower's farewell speech to the nation. After eight years in the White House, just three days before John F. Kennedy would be sworn in as his successor, Ike went on national television and touched on many topics, from promoting the economy to working with Congress.

Yet the heart of his speech was a finely chiseled critique of what he dubbed the "military-industrial complex." This criticism was all the more remarkable, of course, because Eisenhower had been a career military man. Having graduated from West Point in 1915, he had served in the U.S. Army for more than three decades, through two world wars, ultimately rising to the rank of five-star general.

Yet on January 17, 1961, Ike said: "Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea." He continued: "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government."

By then 70 years old, Ike was no born-again pacifist. He quickly added of the military's enlarging, "We recognize the imperative need for this development." That imperative, of course, was the Cold War, the seemingly permanent eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation of two countries, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., each glaring at the other with ideological hostility tipped with nuclear technology.

In response to the Soviet threat, Ike had maintained the Cold War structures he had inherited from his predecessor in the Oval Office, Harry Truman. In fact, throughout the 1950s, defense spending hovered around 10 percent of GDP (by comparison, the current percentage is less than four).

In addition, Ike's America maintained substantial garrisons in Western Europe and Japan. At the same time, and more precariously, U.S. troops, advisers, and operatives fanned out across the globe, including to Lebanon, South Vietnam, and Iran.

In his speech, Eisenhower made no apology for his role in the further freezing of the Cold War. Yet he still urged caution as to the potential ill effects of cold warring on the home front: "We must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society."

Then came the money sentences: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

Those three key words, "military-industrial complex," rocketed through the national consciousness. Eisenhower had long been a popular figure on the center-right; in addition to his leadership role in World War II, he had written a best-selling memoir and had won two national landslides in the 1952 and 1956 presidential elections -- even as the left had dismissed him. Yet now, with those three words, Eisenhower gained the proverbial "strange new respect" among intellectuals, who mostly leaned left. Indeed, the phrase "military-industrial complex" has become a favored catchphrase for leftists, anti-militarists, and anyone else looking for evocative shorthand.

In fact, we all need a phrase that captures the immensity of the military establishment. The budget of the Department of Defense (DoD) for fiscal year 2020 will be about $718 billion ; DoD directly employs 1.3 million men and women in active duty, as well as more than 700,000 civilian employees. (Another 800,000 serve in the National Guard and reserves.)

In addition, millions more work for the DoD as private-sector vendors, from those who build ships and airplanes to the contractor who was killed near Kirkuk, Iraq, on December 27.

Indeed, the huge Pentagon budget doesn't fully capture the true scale of the military-industrial complex. To get a better measure, we should also include portions of other agencies harboring substantial military elements, including the CIA, NASA, and the departments of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Energy (the last of which manages the nuclear stockpile).

As Eisenhower cautioned in his speech, "We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes." So yes, Eisenhower was a vigorous leader in the Cold War competition, yet at the same time he was a citizen before he was a soldier, rightfully concerned with protecting our small-r republican institutions from "unwarranted influence."

During his time in the White House, the 34th president demonstrated his prudence. As historian Walter M. Hudson recently noted in The American Interest , after the Russians launched their Sputnik satellite in 1957 -- thus opening up a newer and higher frontier to geopolitical competition -- Ike did not respond with a big defense buildup. He boosted NASA, of course, yet skipping past the Pentagon, he also pushed for a substantial increase in federal aid to education.

In other words, the old Army man was thinking about the future, when struggles, and perhaps wars, would be waged with spaceships and computers, as opposed to infantrymen and tanks. Hudson explains Ike's thoughtful budget priorities as follows: "Ike's decision was consistent with his 'Great Equation' strategy that long predated Sputnik's blips. Running for the presidency in 1952, he set forth the formula to his friend Lucius Clay: 'Spiritual force multiplied by economic force multiplied by military force is roughly equivalent to security. If any one of those factors fell to zero, or nearly so, the resulting product does likewise.'"

In Eisenhower's "Great Equation," we can see a strategic mind at work: American strength must rely on more than just weaponry; the nation needed to maintain as well its economic and spiritual health. Long before the term was coined, Ike was a believer in "soft power" -- as well as, of course, the "hard power" of firepower.

Six decades later, we must ask ourselves: is the Great Equation still in place? As a nation, are we maintaining all the components of power -- military, economic, and spiritual -- in proper balance? And as we search for the right answer, we might pause over one subtlety in the Eisenhower equation: per the rules of multiplication, if any one of the three components falls to zero, then the product is zero, regardless of the size of the other two components.

So today, as we think about the Greater Middle East, where the U.S. is involved in a half-dozen conflicts, are we satisfied that all of our equation components -- including the meta-component of wisdom -- are being properly understood and utilized?

Many argue that, in fact, U.S. policy has been reduced to just one component -- the military. That is, whom can we threaten, bomb, or occupy?

This over-militarization of policy was ably chronicled in Dana Priest's 2003 book , The Mission Waging War and Keeping Peace With America's Military . The author describes a Pentagon that had grown so powerful bureaucratically that it had overwhelmed the State Department -- and nowhere more so than in the Middle East.

This disparity starts with visuals: the generals arrive in style, swooping in on military aircraft, resplendent in their uniforms, greeted by the pomp and circumstance of salutes and reviews, bearing PowerPoints of cool new weapons systems to buy and perhaps use. By contrast, unadorned Foreign Service officers tend to plunk along on civilian flights, typically talking only of caution and mediation.

As a result, the center of policy gravity for the Middle East has shifted from Foggy Bottom to the five-sided building across the Potomac, and from there to Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, and from there to myriad Centcom outposts 7,000 miles distant. As they say, if you're a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail -- and the Pentagon is one big hammer.

We can observe that this militarization had been building up long prior to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which began two presidencies ago. Indeed, the militarizing process has been both deep-rooted and bipartisan. And this, of course, is the sort of long-term transformation that Eisenhower warned against.

The argument here is not for a cut in the Pentagon's budget or for an increase in the State Department's budget. Instead, we need something more fundamental -- a national conversation about true national security. As Ike said in that fabled address, "Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Assuring that security and liberty "may prosper together" -- Eisenhower's message is as important today as it was then. about the author

James P. Pinkerton is a contributor to the Fox News Channel and a regular panelist on the Fox "News Watch" show, the highest-rated media-critique show on television. He is a former columnist for Newsday, and is the editor of SeriousMedicineStrategy.org. He has written for publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, National Review, The New Republic, Foreign Affairs, Fortune, The Huffington Post , and The Jerusalem Post . He is the author of What Comes Next: The End of Big Government--and the New Paradigm Ahead (Hyperion: 1995). He worked in the White House domestic policy offices of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and in the 1980, 1984, 1988 and 1992 presidential campaigns. In 2008 he served as a senior adviser to the Mike Huckabee for President Campaign. Married to the former Elizabeth Dial, he is a graduate of Stanford University.

kouroi 5 hours ago

Gosh, but we still have to privatize, several economies (China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, etc.) for the benefit of Wall Street et. comp. How can we do that without DoD...?

Chuckles John Achterhof 3 days ago

Just to be clear, it's documented that Ike's first draft had Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex; aides convinced him to cut that out, which is sad because it's key. Defense contractors always spread out their facilities to different states and
Congressional districts. Jobs!
David Naas 3 days ago
I Like Ike.

Always did, even as I recall when he was in the White House. In his time, the Right gnashed their teeth at his "liberalism", and the Left gnashed their teeth art his "conservatism".

His equation anchored on "spiritual". In Ike's view, America was an agency for Good, or at least aspired to be. Today, all of our "leaders" echo the words of Templeton (the Rat) in Charlotte's Web -- "What's in it for me?" And goodness is not even given the homage of hypocrisy.

polistra24 3 days ago
Thanks for bringing out the equation. I'd never heard of it before! Putin understands it and uses it. We lost it a long time ago.
Chuckles 3 days ago
Ike was likely familiar with General Smedley D. Butler (USMC) seminal work War is a Racket , and bought into at least some it.

[Jan 18, 2020] The Mission Waging War and Keeping Peace With America's Military Dana Priest 9780393010244 Amazon.com Books

Notable quotes:
"... Unfortunately, the book does little more to move into an analysis of US foreign policy decision making beyond the military's impact nor does it make recommendations for changes to better the current situation. The book seemed to be more of a compilation of "reports from the field" than an analysis of foreign policy decision making and the military's role in it. I suppose the author's goals and my expectations were decidedly different but I expected more from this book. ..."
Jan 18, 2020 | www.amazon.com

Hugh Claffey , December 9, 2012

Book published in 2003, still very relevant

I read David Halberstam's `War in a Time of Peace' and this seemed like a good continuation. Halbersam covers the Bush 1, Clinton period, in retrospect an idyllic period. This book transitions through 9/11, but really covers the development of the Combatant Commander for the US Military in the various areas of the world - Pacific Command, Central Command etc. It does cover the successful invasion of Afghanistan, it covers conflicts in Kosova, Columbia and relationships in the Middle East and Asia. It doesn't cover the Iraq invasion or subsequent failures.

I was particularly struck by the contrast between the resources available for the military commanders in various countries, and the US ambassadors to the same countries. The commanders can have transport and material resources which are an order of magnitude away from the civilians, and therefore the local politicians/dictators get the message that the US relationship is mainly a military one. Priest gives a good overview, especially in the Kosovo, of the power and limitations of the military-only relationship. She also concludes that even the military must take some part in peace-making and low level nation-building, but the bigger story in that the US, by virtue of its size and power, must take a nation-development role if it hopes to avoid having a low-level war with the developing world for generations to come. In fact the situation has probably got clearly since, and the current debate about leaving Afghanistan and non-intervention in Syria, makes this book appear prophetic.

Lastly there are remarkable portraits of Generals Zinni and Blair who were combatant commanders in the Central and Pacific commands during this time period. The contrast between their power and status when in the military and their post-military career is significant (though not mentioned in the book), Zinni was messed about when proposed but eventually not selected as ambassador to Saudia Arabia, Blair was later director of National Intelligence in the Obama White House, but was could not get along in that particular fishbowl and was fired in mid 2010.

Sir Charles Panther , February 27, 2006
An Adequate Overview, yet Factually Incorrect, Fundamentally Flawed

Overall, this book is a basic overview of the structure and operation of the US armed forces theater commands in the final days of their power and prestige, before the Bush administration centralized control, power, prestige, decision- and policy-making to Washington, DC. It is a view of the last great days of the regional Commanders-in-Chief, the CINCs, and their geographically-oriented theater commands of immense space, scope, power and influence.

My criticism of this book is straightforward and simple, yet speaks directly to the overall character and accuracy of this work: Dana Priest is grossly incorrect in her statements, and therefore in the conclusions she makes, specifically in Chapter Ten, "The Indonesian Handshake." I was intimately and directly involved in the entire episode, and it did not unfold as she describes.

I quote from page 230: "Meanwhile, since January 1998, seven intelligence analysts at the 'Joint Intelligence Center Pacific' (JIC), the world largest military-intelligence center, in a windowless concrete building near (US Pacific Command CINC, Admiral Dennis) Blair's headquarters in Hawaii, had tracked the movements of Indonesian military and militia forces in East Timor and Indonesia. The Indonesia desk in the JIC had grown from one to nine persons and maintained a round-the-clock 'crisis action' mode. Over the preceding year, the analysts had received a tenfold increase in imagery and a fivefold increase in electronic collection. It was actually too much to process."

First of all, Priest blows the name of the institution she's describing. It's the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific, or JICPAC (now Joint Intelligence Operations Center, Pacific, or JIOC-PAC). Second, the "Indonesia desk" implies a single person monitoring this country. That was never the case, as a team of at least five analysts had always been assigned to maritime Southeast Asia. Suharto's 1998 fall had ramped up both Pacific Command's and JICPAC's attention to Indonesia, and the scheduled elections of mid-1999 and following East Timor referendum were anticipated months in advance, with commensurate analytical adjustments and assignments. Newly assigned to the Pacific Command intelligence directorate, I was detailed to JICPAC personally by the Pacific Command Director for Intelligence, Rear Admiral Rick Porterfield to assist in this effort.

I was one of two US Army Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) assigned to this issue. I had just completed five years of training in Southeast Asia, with an International Studies masters degree, both Indonesian and Malaysian language training, and attendance at the 1998 class of the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College. My partner was an Indonesian staff college graduate. We two Southeast Asia FAOs, both senior US Army majors, were the officers in charge. I was the Chief of the East Timor Crisis Cell for the entire period of the East Timor crisis, and I take immense pride in the work that I and especially my analysts performed during this period. This was the best analytical team I've ever worked with, experienced, highly intellectual, eager, motivated, and thoroughly familiar with the issue at hand, as well as all of the related regional and functional issues. They performed brilliantly in an extended crisis mode.

At no time was the information we were requesting and receiving "too much to process." Early on, Admiral Blair and Rear Admiral Porterfield recognized the potential for unrest and crisis, and supported all command activities to prepare for all possible outcomes, which we explored and analyzed continuously. I and my people updated both leaders daily with briefings, papers, and direct consultation, which increased in frequency, intensity and scope as events unfolded. We aggressively worked with all relevant and engaged national-level agencies and elements for our intelligence collection requirements, and based upon national-level reconciliation we were given what was available and appropriate to the situation. Yes, we were receiving increased collection and reporting, through all intelligence disciplines and channels, not merely the ones Priest cites. At no time was anything we were doing or being asked to do too much for us to process. At no time was the information that we were requesting from national-level intelligence collection too much for us to process. The support we received from the commanding officer of JICPAC, now Marine Major General Mike Ennis, was outstanding in every possible way. He supported our needs and actions personally and fully, a consummate professional and directly engaged commanding officer. Whatever resources and assets we requested, he personally attended to those needs, immediately.

I challenge Ms. Priest to name the source(s) who provided such grossly incorrect information. I was present in Hawaii as she did her research there, and at no time were either my FAO partner or I contacted to discuss our roles in the crisis.

I offer a highly telling anecdote which illustrates Ms. Priest's qualifications to write on this specific issue: Upon entering JICPAC for the very first time, Ms. Priest asked informally and good-naturedly of her escorts, "Why is the Australian flag flying outside?" Well, yes, both Pacific Command and JICPAC work very closely with our Australian partners, always have, and enjoy doing so immensely. But JICPAC does not fly a foreign flag from its quarterdeck. Of course, Ms. Priest had mistaken the Hawaiian flag with its Union Jack in the upper left corner as the Australian flag, telling the JICPAC intelligence specialists, researchers, and analysts more than enough about her familiarity with Pacific Command, showing a small yet true measure of the depth of expertise and background knowledge she brought to her work in the US Pacific Command theater.

Bottom Line: Take this book as a historical account of the now-gone days of the power and prestige of the theater commands, a late 90s snapshot. That being said, the book is fundamentally flawed and factually incorrect, at least as far as Chapter Ten reads. I cannot speak for the remainder of the work, but my direct and intimate experience with the events she grossly incorrectly describes here is more than enough for me to dismiss this book in its entirety.


Eric Johnson December 12, 2003

Mission Accomplished?
Format: Hardcover

Dana Priest is a well-respected journalist with the Washington Post and a frequent guest on NBC's "Meet the Press." She specializes on military and intelligence topics, so it was with great interest that I read her book "The Mission". Her thesis, that the US military is playing an ever increasing role in US foreign policy matters and that the nation is becoming dependent on the military's presence in foreign affairs, could not be more timely.
She presents her argument via a series of vignettes which cover senior military leaders as well as a broad spectrum of recent military operations. She primarily writes from the military's perspective and its impact on foreign policy. The profiles of the four, 4-star commanders provide the reader with a sense of the situation each commander faced in 1999 and how their ideals influenced not only their area of responsibility but also our foreign affairs. Priest chronicles our military activities with examples that range from major operations in Afghanistan and the Balkans, our covert drug war in South America, and the relatively unnoticed actions in Nigeria and Indonesia. Her stories capture the military's struggle to achieve success across the entire spectrum of operations.

She does a good job of stating her argument and offers varied examples of where the military is setting the foreign policy agenda. Unfortunately, the book does little more to move into an analysis of US foreign policy decision making beyond the military's impact nor does it make recommendations for changes to better the current situation. The book seemed to be more of a compilation of "reports from the field" than an analysis of foreign policy decision making and the military's role in it. I suppose the author's goals and my expectations were decidedly different but I expected more from this book.

I feel her point would have benefited from a comparison of the State Dept's and the DoD's role in US foreign policy making. She also needed to consider the contributions of non-governmental organizations to the foreign policy equation. Additionally, if the author thinks we are becoming reliant on the military to conduct foreign policy, she should include recommendations to counter that reliance. I enjoyed reading the well-written vignettes, thought this is a great introduction on the topic of political-military relations as it impacts foreign affairs, but would like to see more analysis and less story-telling.

A worthwhile read.

[Jan 18, 2020] Washington is certainly it's impossible to make an agreement with it and, if you should think you have done so, it will break it. A dangerous, uncontrollable madman, staggering around blowing everything up

Jan 18, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

For some years Washington, an implacable enemy of Moscow, has been getting less and less predictable. Lavrov and Kerry spend hours locked up negotiating a deal in Syria ; within a week the US military attacks a Syrian Army unit; "by mistake" . Who's in charge? Now with the murder of Soleimani, possibly on a Washington-approved peace mission, Washington has moved to another level of lawlessness and is exploring the next depth as it defies Baghdad's order to get out. A pirate power. The outside problems for Moscow aren't getting smaller, are they? Washington is certainly недоговороспособны – it's impossible to make an agreement with it and, if you should think you have done so, it will break it. A dangerous, uncontrollable madman, staggering around blowing everything up – is any foreign leader now to be assumed to be on Washington's murder list? Surviving its decay is a big job indeed. The problems are getting bigger in the Final Days of the Imperium Americanum.

[Jan 18, 2020] The joke is on us: Without the USSR the USA oligarchy resorted to cannibalism and devour the American people

Highly recommended!
Jan 18, 2020 | www.theguardian.com

In another sense, however, the passing of the cold war could not have been more disorienting. In 1987, Georgi Arbatov, a senior adviser to the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev , had warned: "We are going to do a terrible thing to you – we are going to deprive you of an enemy."

...Winning the cold war brought Americans face-to-face with a predicament comparable to that confronting the lucky person who wins the lottery: hidden within a windfall is the potential for monumental disaster.

[Jan 17, 2020] Trump Threatened Euro-Poodles With 25% Car Tarrifs If They Didn't Blow Up the Iran Nuclear Treaty by John Hudson

Jan 17, 2020 | www.anti-empire.com


1 day ago
CHUCKMAN 7 hours ago ,

What an absolutely chaotic man, using trade measures like military weapons.

Mychal Arnold 7 hours ago ,

Mafia!

[Jan 16, 2020] Oh, we'll spend the money alright: $37 screws, a $7,622 coffee maker, $640 toilet seats; : suppliers to our military just won't be oversold

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Jan 15 2020 8:54 utc | 139

Posted by: V | Jan 15 2020 5:15 utc | 127

Oh, we'll spend the money alright;

$37 screws, a $7,622 coffee maker, $640 toilet seats; : suppliers to our military just won't be oversold
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-07-30-vw-18804-story.html

DOD and HUD $21 Trillion Missing Money: Report & Supporting Documentation
https://missingmoney.solari.com/dod-and-hud-missing-money-supporting-documentation/

[Jan 16, 2020] Isn't America (i.e., America the nation-state, which most Americans still believe they live in) militarily occupying much of the planet, making a mockery of international law, bombing and invading other countries, and assassinating heads of state and military officers with complete impunity.

Jan 16, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Northern Star, January 14, 2020 at 4:11 pm

"World War III is not going to happen because World War III already happened and the global capitalist empire won. [Where is the "capitalism"?] Take a look at these NATO maps (make sure to explore all the various missions). Then take a look at this Smithsonian map of where the U.S. military is "combating terrorism." And there are plenty of other maps you can google. What you will be looking at is the global capitalist empire. Not the American empire, the global capitalist empire.

If that sounds like a distinction without a difference well, it kind of is, and it kind of isn't. What I mean by that is that it isn't America (i.e., America the nation-state, which most Americans still believe they live in) that is militarily occupying much of the planet, making a mockery of international law, bombing and invading other countries, and assassinating heads of state and military officers with complete impunity.

Or, rather, sure, it is America but America is not America."

BINGO!!!!!

https://www.anti-empire.com/ww3-flickers-out-after-terroristy-terrorists-inflict-mass-non-casualties/

[Jan 16, 2020] Does the United States's withdrawal from the JCPOA constitute non-compliance, or not? If so, does their non-compliance constitute breach of contract

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Joshua , Jan 15 2020 2:39 utc | 115

Does the United States's withdrawal from the JCPOA constitute non-compliance, or not? If so, does their non-compliance constitute breach of contract, or not?

[Jan 16, 2020] The US extorted their own "allies" to get them to betray Iran and destroy their own reputations

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

b , Jan 15 2020 19:40 utc | 175

woah

WaPo: Days before Europeans warned Iran of nuclear deal violations, Trump secretly threatened to impose 25% tariff on European autos if they didn't

The U.S. effort to coerce European foreign policy through tariffs, a move one European official equated to "extortion," represents a new level of hardball tactics with the United States' oldest allies, underscoring the extraordinary tumult in the transatlantic relationship.
...
U.S. officials conveyed the threat directly to officials in London, Berlin and Paris rather than through their embassies in Washington, said a senior European official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations.

Kadath , Jan 15 2020 20:05 utc | 179

Yes the US extorted their own "allies" to get them to betray Iran and destroy their own reputations. I must say the one thing i begrudgingly like about Trump is his honest upfront thuggist actions. After the backroom betrayals of Obama bush clinton merkel and the rest its almost refreshingly honest. Also i can think of no quicker way of destroying the US empire than by threatening your own allies the MIC must be desperate to start a new never ending war, although perhaps they should be careful of what they wish for

[Jan 16, 2020] Bulling EU: Trumps calculations were (obviously) right. EU would have never risked a massive economic crisis because of a breakdown in US-EU trade by siding with Iran.

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

DontBelieveEitherPr. , Jan 15 2020 2:14 utc | 113

Trumps calculations were (obviously) right. EU would have never risked a massive economic crisis because of a breakdown in US-EU trade by siding with Iran.
Sadly, they are doing what every other country would do in this position to protect their own self percieved national interests.

Like China,India and Russia too now more and more totally abiding by sanctions and in case of China winding down oil trade even more.

In this time of lurking economic crisis, US sanctions could cripple Europe from one day to the next. With our countries also being on the edge of social unrest, and mass conflict between elites and people, a massive economic crisis would bring everything tumbling down.

This is the sad reality. Risking the sure economic meltdown to save an already lost Iran deal would trade the social and economic welbeing of their voters for Iran. The deal has been lost ever since Trump annouced his opposition. This is the reality. Triggering a crisis on the back of its own voters without a real chance to save that deal would have been an empty gesture anyway.

Realpolitik.

Good thing is Merkel seems to have had a great day with Putin. EU will silently learn from this and warm ties with Russia. If not for its people, for its business.

The deal was a good idea, but it always was destined to end like this. Iran will go nuclear, and the US and Isreal will have "no alternative" for shooting war. If they dare now.


Peter AU1 , Jan 15 2020 2:30 utc | 114

Paragragh 14 of the UNSC resolution is worth thinking about.

"14. Affirms that the application of the provisions of previous resolutions pursuant to paragraph 12 do not apply with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran or Iranian individuals and entities prior to the date of application, provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with the JCPOA, this resolution and the previous resolutions;"

To date, only Russia and China are holding up their ends of the deal. Iran, sticking to the deal is on the losing side as it has no trade with the EU yet it still must stay within the provisions of the deal. I believe there were clauses on what Iran could do if other parties were not upholding their end.
The nuke deal is dead and Iran knows it. Under Paragragh 14, Russia China can sign up to all deals allowed under the resolution and when snapback provisions occur, Iran Russia china can still operate contracts it has signed before sanctions reinstated. This way, Iran gets the benefits of trade and investment with China and Russia that could not have occurred before the nuke deal, but at the same time, Iran will no longer be bound by the deal.
China signed up a huge oil deal with Iran not long back. Russia have also been signing a good number of contracts. None of these will be effected by UNSC sanction.

Overall, the nuke deal was a win for Iran. Pity the US and Euro's have reneged, but still, a win for Iran.

Joshua , Jan 15 2020 2:39 utc | 115
Does the United States's withdrawal from the JCPOA constitute non-compliance, or not? If so, does their non-compliance constitute breach of contract, or not?
karlof1 , Jan 15 2020 2:43 utc | 116
Peter AU 1 @114--

Now Peter, do you really think the Outlaw US Empire or its poodles will abide by contract law in general and the JCPOA contract law specifically?

IMO, the JCPOA's outcome is becoming similar to the outcome of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in that it bought time and showed who's the true aggressor. I recall writing the Eurasians need to behave as if they're at war with the EU-3 and their master--and that includes the Eurasian nations who so far aren't too much affected by the fallout from the JCPOA's failure.

What has me curious is the nature of the talks between Iran and Qatar.

Piotr Berman , Jan 15 2020 3:11 utc | 119 Jackrabbit , Jan 15 2020 3:12 utc | 120
Peter AU1 @114

=
Under Paragragh 14, Russia China can sign up to all deals allowed under the resolution and when snapback provisions occur, Iran Russia china can still operate contracts it has signed before sanctions reinstated.

Not sure about that. Paragraph 14 has this constraining language:

... provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with the JCPOA, this resolution and the previous resolutions.
My reading of this phrase is that he word "and" implies that the contracts must satisfy provisions of ALL of these.

Put another way: When the snap back occurs, then contracts signed are exempt except that they must comply with the provisions that are snapped back (AND) the JCPOA, AND this resolution!?!?

Yes, it seems nonsensical. But how else can one interpret the "and"?

=
Overall, the nuke deal was a win for Iran.

It was a 'win' for both sides.

I've always believed that USA entered into the JCPOA to buy time because Syrian "regime change" was taking longer than expected. I've read many times that neocons and/or neocon sympathizers believed that "Damascus is on the road" to Tehran."

USA-Israel want to fight Iran before it gets a bomb. Iran bought time to prepare for that fight.

!!

snake , Jan 15 2020 3:42 utc | 121
The EU cannot lead in anything - it is a completely owned and operated US tool. It is a big zero in providing humanity any help with the big problem of our time: the 'indispensable and exceptional' supremacist US. by: AriusArmenian @ 15

evilempire @ 74 <= I agree the Iranians probably did not shoot down the 737.. I posted to MOA a link to a presstv article, headlined no missile hit the passenger liner, and the link even said --its official.. within a short few minutes after tha, the pressTV link disappeared and PressTV replaced it with a new story , Iranians admit they had mistakenly shot down the PS752 taking off from Tehran. This suggest either a military coup in Iran, or Iraq double crossed Iran. killed in Iraq by Trump were the leaders of the Shia religious arm (IRCG leaders )

The unusually harsh words and expression in anger by Khomeini, said he would severely punish those 8 persons responsible for the mistake, <= non characteristic of Khomeini , suggesting a trusted friend let him down; the two arms of the Military may be at war with each other and Trump was helping the Iranian Military (eliminate the upper leadership of the Revolutionary guard)? Today's JCOPA by the European powers issue suggest insiders have been at work all weekend. Russia and China silence all fit betrayal. Have the two separate branches of Iran military been at odds with each?
Imagine the White house wiping out Qaseum Soleimani and other IRCG members drawn on false pretense into Iraq.?

here is Bs report on the matter
The Iranian Armed Forces General Staff just admitted (in Farsi, English translation) that its air defenses inadvertently shot down the Ukrainian flight PS 752 shortly after it took off on January 8 in Tehran :

2- In early hours after the missile attack [on US' Ain al-Assad base in Iraq], the military flights of the US' terrorist forces had increased around the country. The Iranian defence units received news of witnessing flying targets moving towards Iran's strategic centres, and then several targets were observed in some [Iranian] radars, which incited further sensitivity at the Air Defence units.
3- Under such sensitive and critical circumstances, the Ukrainian airline's Flight PS752 took off from Imam Khomeini Airport, and when turning around, it approached a sensitive military site of the IRGC, taking the shape and altitude of a hostile target. In such conditions, due to human error and in an unintentional move, the airplane was hit [by the Air Defence], which caused the martyrdom of a number of our compatriots and the deaths of several foreign nationals.

4- The General Staff of the Armed Forces offers condolences and expresses sympathy with the bereaved families of the Iranian and foreign victims, and apologizes for the human error. It also gives full assurances that it will make major revision in the operational procedures of its armed forces in order to make impossible the recurrence of such errors. It will also immediately hand over the culprits to the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces for prosecution.

The Pentagon had claimed that Iran shot down the airliner but the evidence it presented was flimsy and not sufficient as the U.S. tends to spread disinformation about Iran.

The Associated Press errs when it says that the move was "stoked by the American drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani". The move was stoked five days earlier when the U.S. killed 31 Iraqi security forces near the Syrian border despite the demands by the Iraqi prime minister and president not to do so. It was further stoked when the U.S. assassinated Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, the deputy commander of the Popular Militia Forces and a national hero in Iraq.b at 19:09 UTC | Comments (150)

The State Department issued a rather aggressive response to Abdul-Mahdi's request:b at 19:09 UTC | Comments (150)
Very interesting post. something is up Thanks.

Mao , Jan 15 2020 3:51 utc | 122
This picture

https://www.moonofalabama.org/images5/europeanpoodles.jpg

in many ways resembles another picture:

https://i.redd.it/ahft7ubghjt31.jpg

Mao , Jan 15 2020 4:19 utc | 124
Posted by: V | Jan 15 2020 4:04 utc | 123

Current Europe is a selling girl of imperialism.

moon , Jan 15 2020 4:58 utc | 125
Posted by: DontBelieveEitherPr. | Jan 15 2020 2:14 utc | 113

thanks, yes, the US economic power directly and indirectly via economic laws or extra-territorial sanctions. A company simply cannot make a deal with Iran if it doesn't want to be ruined by US legal means. Sad, but true.

Iranian frozen assets in international accounts are calculated to be worth between $100 billion[1][2] and $120 billion.[3][4] Almost $1.973 billion of Iran's assets are frozen in the United States.[5] According to the Congressional Research Service, in addition to the money locked up in foreign bank accounts, Iran's frozen assets include real estate and other property. The estimated value of Iran's real estate in the U.S. and their accumulated rent is $50 million.[1] Besides the assets frozen in the U.S., some parts of Iran's assets are frozen around the world by the United Nations.[1]

***********

Now I will have to cry myself to sleep. Trump, such a poor man...

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 15 2020 3:11 utc | 119

Yes, I am getting tired of that meme too. The poor helpless king of the world, if only he could do what he wants ... if only he could "drain the swamp"

He promised to abolish the JCPOA, he suggested he would deal with the increase of Iran's power in the region and he promised to restore US and military power to it's old (lost) world domination. A world domination Russia and China would need to deal with too:

He already promised he would abolish JCPOA during his 2016 election campaign. And he promised to not only make both the American economy and military strong again. So America can exert at least as much power as it did under the great Ronald Reagan.

Secondly, we have to rebuild our military and our economy. The Russians and Chinese have rapidly expanded their military capability, but look at what's happened to us. Our nuclear weapons arsenal, our ultimate deterrent, has been allowed to atrophy and is desperately in need of modernization and renewal. And it has to happen immediately. Our active duty armed forces have shrunk from 2 million in 1991 to about 1.3 million today. The Navy has shrunk from over 500 ships to 272 ships during this same period of time. The Air Force is about one-third smaller than 1991. Pilots flying B-52s in combat missions today. These planes are older than virtually everybody in this room.

And what are we doing about this? President Obama has proposed a 2017 defense budget that in real dollars, cuts nearly 25 percent from what we were spending in 2011. Our military is depleted and we're asking our generals and military leaders to worry about global warming.

We will spend what we need to rebuild our military. It is the cheapest, single investment we can make. We will develop, build and purchase the best equipment known to mankind. Our military dominance must be unquestioned, and I mean unquestioned, by anybody and everybody.

V , Jan 15 2020 5:02 utc | 126
Mao | Jan 15 2020 4:19 utc | 124
Current Europe is a selling girl of imperialism.

Indeed! The western band of galoots are captives of their white skin color...
Very unbecoming to the rest of the non-white world = majority.
Fortunately, many of us see past our skin colors, whatever that may be...

V , Jan 15 2020 5:15 utc | 127
We will spend what we need to rebuild our military. It is the cheapest, single investment we can make. We will develop, build and purchase the best equipment known to mankind. Our military dominance must be unquestioned, and I mean unquestioned, by anybody and everybody.

Posted by: moon | Jan 15 2020 4:58 utc | 125

Oh, we'll spend the money alright; for more of the inferior, junk, weaponry already in our arsenals.
Planes that can't fly in the rain, aircraft carriers that can't be commisioned, and battle rifles (that's a misnomer; the M-14 was the last U.S. battle rifle) (M-4 & M-16) that are unreliable in intense combat situations. The M-16 should have been replaced during the Viet Nam war...
But there it still is; almost 60 years later...

Lurker of the Dark , Jan 15 2020 5:41 utc | 128
steven t. jonhson @5

Personally I thought the cartoon was pretty good. The artist even thought that the detail of the dogs' ass holes was important enough to include. Notably none of them have any external genitalia, hence "bitches" also being accurate. I bet if we could see the rendition from the other side, Israel's face would be hideous despite the appealing rear view!

Cyrus , Jan 15 2020 6:50 utc | 131
This is a repeat of the EU3 negotiations with Iran that ended with a EU3 deal offered to Iran that experts called "a lot of pretty wrappig around an empty box" because as it turned out, the EU3 had been promising the US that they would not recognize Iran's right to enrichment contrary to what they were telling the Iranians as part of the EU3's effort to drag out Iran's suspension of enrichment.
The result was that Khatami was embarrassed and Ahmadinejad was elected, as Jack Straw said later: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/us-scuppered-deal-with-iran-in-2005-says-then-british-foreign-minister/

So again the Eu is playing the good cop to the US bad cop, and they keep goalposts moving
This has been a consistent pattern going back years.
All along Iran has been making better compromise offers than the JCPOA only to see the goalposts moved because this conflict was never really about nukes just as the invasion of Iraq was not about WMDs, all that is just a pretext for a policy of imposed regime-change.

NOTE That the Obama administration itself said that the JCPOA is "non-binding" funny how Iran is accused of "breaching" or "violating" it yet Trump is only said to have "abandoned" or even "withdrawn" from the deal

Richard , Jan 15 2020 6:50 utc | 132
Sad news. European leaders are pathetic, craven cowards, hostages to the evil American Regime...

https://richardhennerley.com/2020/01/14/welcome-to-the-american-regime/

Australian lady , Jan 15 2020 6:51 utc | 133
"President Rohani represent's the interests of the bourgeoisie in Tehran and Esfahan, merchants oriented toward international trade and hard hit by US sanctions. Sheikh Rohani is a long time friend of the US deep state: he was the first Iranian contact between the Reagan administration and Israel during the Iran-contra affair in 1985. It was he who introduced Hashem Rafsanjani to Oliver North's men, allowing him to buy arms, to become commander-in-chief of the armies and incidentally the richest man in the country, and the president of the Islamic Republic."
Thierry Meyssan. Voltairenet. org.
Wednesday morning, my first read before b's M. O. A. is Thierry. Really folks, it is indespensible. One can support the I. R. I.,but still reserve criticism of the domestic politics of Iran.
Steve , Jan 15 2020 6:56 utc | 134
Outside the West, people don't see any difference between Europe and the USA. So it is known that which ever direction the US takes, Europe will follow. Both the USA and Europe are Israeli colonies. So unless Israel objects whatever the US does would always be the Eurooean policy.
powerandpeople , Jan 15 2020 8:41 utc | 138
Annex B, paragraph 5 allows Iran to purchase weapons from Russia (for example...) after 5 years from signing of the Agreement in 2015.

So 2020 for weapons.

This is why Russia is so insistent the agreement holds together for the 5 years, at least. If it doesn't, due to this action by Germany etc, then they can't sell to Iran as all old sanctions will 'snap back'.

(Other restrictions are lifted on longer time frames, 8 and 10 years. Also, other matters remain open forever until security council agrees the nuclear proliferation issue in Iran is dead and buried.)

V , Jan 15 2020 9:05 utc | 142 Russ , Jan 15 2020 11:08 utc | 143
powerandpeople 138 says:

Annex B, paragraph 5 allows Iran to purchase weapons from Russia (for example...) after 5 years from signing of the Agreement in 2015.

So 2020 for weapons.

This is why Russia is so insistent the agreement holds together for the 5 years, at least. If it doesn't, due to this action by Germany etc, then they can't sell to Iran as all old sanctions will 'snap back'.

There's an example of how appeasement and idiot-legality are way past their expiration date. It's clear the UN itself, like all other existing international bodies, has been fully weaponized with Russia the ultimate target.

In the process of "first they came for Irak, then they came for Libya [with the full consent of Russia and China]...now they're coming for Irak again and for Iran....", well obviously Russia is the one they'll ultimately be coming for.

It really is time to hang together or hang separately. Although Russia should remain cautious about direct military stand-offs, it's definitely way past time to start openly challenging and flouting war-by-sanctions, and to start constructing international bodies alternative to the UN and other imperial weapons.

As for fighting within the UN, someone earlier said Russia and China wouldn't be able to prevent the "snap-back" of UN sanctions on Iran. Why not? I'm not asking for a technical-legalistic answer, but a power-based answer. Self-evidently the "legality" ship has sunk, and anyone who still makes a fetish of it is fighting with one hand tied behind one's back.

I don't say gratuitously flout legality; certainly there's great propaganda value in seeming to adhere to international law in the face of the open lawlessness of the US. But where it comes to critical battles like getting Iran out from under the sanctions, in the process dealing a blow to the alleged impregnability of the sanctions weapon, the most important thing is the real result.

Carciofi , Jan 15 2020 11:14 utc | 144
Trump has in fact done more to ensure that Iran will have a nuclear weapon than any other president through his abrupt withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and his assassination of Soleimani..

Trump and Congress Double Down on Demonizing Iran

And this is why you'll never see Philip Giraldi on CNN, Fox News, or any other US broadcast network.

Carciofi , Jan 15 2020 11:14 utc | 144
Trump has in fact done more to ensure that Iran will have a nuclear weapon than any other president through his abrupt withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and his assassination of Soleimani..

Trump and Congress Double Down on Demonizing Iran

And this is why you'll never see Philip Giraldi on CNN, Fox News, or any other US broadcast network.

Peter AU1 , Jan 15 2020 11:23 utc | 145
Russ
Russia and I think China are working towards a multi-polar world order based on international law.
Russia is pushing this vision and to pull other countries in, it has to walk the talk.
PR information warfare play a big part in state decisions. As we have seen from the Uki plane shootdown Euro's beginning the process to trigger snapback, A small anti Iran block sprang to life (UK, Canada, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Sweden) that will be great PR for the US in its anti Iran crusade.
As I put in another comment, everyone likes a winner
Bemildred , Jan 15 2020 13:30 utc | 148
Alistair Crooke:

Reading Sun Tzu in Tehran

I also recommend the short piece by Patrick Armstrong posted by moon up there.

I've been of the opinion from the beginning of this that the main reason Russia & China have not leapt to the aid of Iran is that Iran does not need or want them to, yet at least. Crooke's mention of the attack on the Saudi oil facilities is a connection that needs to be made, that was not a fluke.

But it's a very "asymmetric" situation, as Crooke points out. Interesting times.

Bemildred , Jan 15 2020 13:30 utc | 148 peter mcloughlin , Jan 15 2020 13:50 utc | 149
And each consequence leads to yet another consequence. But world leaders do not recognize where this path is leading humanity. If they did they might be able to stop – or perhaps not. They delude themselves to the real destination of the journey.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/


Formerly T-Bear , Jan 15 2020 13:57 utc | 150
@ V | Jan 15 2020 1:32 utc | 104

Does this new 'Policy of Deterrence' apply only to Iran? Could become interesting if it doesn't. Good example of 'be careful of what you wish for'.

Likklemore , Jan 15 2020 14:07 utc | 153
b wrote

"But those promises [of the EU] were empty"

Indeed they were, and now we know it was just a charade. Triggering the Dispute Resolution Mechanism on basis intel supplied by Bibi is a ruse to replace the JCPOA. Where have we heard this before?
Oh, Iran is less than a year from getting the nuclear bomb.

Iran Rejects 'Trump Deal' Proposed by UK PM Johnson as a Replacement for JCPOA


On Tuesday, Britain, France and Germany launched the 2015 Iran nuclear deal's dispute resolution mechanism, which they said was partly prompted by concerns that Tehran might be less than a year away from developing a nuclear weapon.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has rejected a proposal for a new "Trump deal" to resolve a nuclear spat as a "strange" offer, pointing the finger at the US President over his failure to deliver on promises.


"This Mr. Prime Minister in London, I don't know how he thinks. He says let's put aside the nuclear deal and put the Trump plan in action. If you take the wrong step, it will be to your detriment. Pick the right path. The right path is to return to the nuclear deal", Rouhani said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Trump to replace the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with his own new pact to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The US president responded by tweeting that he agreed with Johnson on a "Trump deal".

Zarif Says 'It Depends on Europe' if JCPOA Remains After Dispute Resolution Mechanism Activation. [.]


wendy davis , Jan 15 2020 14:20 utc | 154
my apologies if anyone's brought this already, but the plot now thickens. a commenter at the site at which i cross-post brought this to my attention on my 'iran makes arrests over accidental downing of Ukrainian airliner'.

it's a tweet leading to new york times coverage of a 'Exclusive: Security camera footage verified by the New York Times confirms that 2 missiles, fired 30 seconds apart from an Iranian military site, hit the Ukrainian plane'

i'd used a free click to pull text, including:

"The new video was uploaded to YouTube by an Iranian user around 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
The date visible on the footage is "2019-10-17," not Jan. 8, the day the plane was downed. We believe this is because the camera system is using a Persian calendar, not a Gregorian one. Jan. 8 converts to the 18th of Dey, the 10th month in the Persian calendar. Digitally that would display as 2019-10-18 in the video. One theory is that the discrepancy of one day can be explained by a difference between Persian and Gregorian leap years or months." "

but it's everywhere already, set in stone, the WSJ news coverage included:

"The video was verified by Storyful, a social-media-intelligence company owned by News Corp, parent of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones. It raises new questions about how forthcoming Iranian authorities were when, after three days of denial, they admitted they had mistakenly struck the Ukraine International Airlines flight without mentioning a second missile."

https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1217160457385103360

the video obviously bring up a dozen more questions, including what it shows, where, when, etc., but corporate coverage assures us that 'iran has lied about the airliner thrice now: evil iran'.

wait for even more sanctions, more assassinations.

snake , Jan 15 2020 14:26 utc | 155
What bothers me about this entire thread is no one can see either a way to end the suppression every player on the field has been subjected to by the private mobsters. . War whether by WMDs or Sanctions. produces the same, millions will die and nothing will alter the possession of power, and the abuse of the masses, by the few.

The thesis "the nation state system is the structure that allows the mobsters (private bankers, private corporations, and privateers) to control sufficient authority to rule the world". Without strength from deadly force, and authority from engineered consent, ruling the world is difficult.

No one has found a way to pin the maker of wrongdoing chaos button, or convicted criminal button on the private mobsters. As the private mobsters dance, and side step their positions between the 206 or so nation states, they avoid being boxed up, and they install their puppets in every place they land. It is the puppets who deliver to the international arenas the voting power that allow the private mobsters to control conflict outcomes; and puppets in-service-to the private mobsters oversee and manage the regional and local political and economic domains. In such a situation, the law becomes progressively more suppressive; it produces a hierarchy of relative power and the hierarchy allows to order the nation states relative to their power in the hierarchy. The world might even be safer without any government at all than to allow itself to be victimized by the private mobster use of the nation state system. Clearly the mightier the actor in the system, the less the system can or will hold the mighty actor to conform to the rule of law. So the rule of law suppresses the little guy and enhances the big guy.. If there were no nation state system, there would not be any push button suppression.

There has to be an answer.. that is not war or decimation of more humanity.

chb , Jan 15 2020 14:37 utc | 156
The only goal of Europe in sticking to the JPCoA when Trump walks out is to keep Tehran from developping its nuke while excruciating sanctions hinder all normal life. Regime change is still the goal, be it at the expense of european trade.
Think of NorthStream, or of the two-state fiction in Palestine where " there's no one to broke peace with ".
Robert Snefjella , Jan 15 2020 14:58 utc | 157
There has to be an answer.. that is not war or decimation of more humanity.
Posted by: snake | Jan 15 2020 14:26 utc | 155

One lesson from history is that it is important that those big shots just beneath the ultimate societal power be held to the strictest standards: The law applies to you too, big shot. Clovis effectively adhered to this principle many centuries ago. Putin by reining in the worst of the oligarchs operated in tune with this principle.

The prevailing principle in the West is that oligarchs, the mighty, etc are above the law, while in the US for example swat teams kill pets that bark at their door-smashing arrival at the homes of the little people, and those who invest in private prisons feast financially on slave labor by millions of plebeians 'plea bargained' into servitude.

Carciofi , Jan 15 2020 15:04 utc | 158
Likklemore | Jan 15 2020 14:07 utc | 153
Oh, Iran is less than a year from getting the nuclear bomb.

Since Bibi, Trump and the rest of Iran's enemies and their indoctrinated populations have been saying this for years it's time for Iran to just get on with it and pull out all stops in putting several together to be used as an option of last resort. But they should make no public confirmation, like Israel. If the warmongering US wants a war they and their allies (and their populations would then be aware of the consequences and would force them to re-assess the situation. IMO this is the only way Iran will survive. If Trump wins another term I can almost guarantee he will forge ahead with attempting another regime change. Iran is already a pariah state in their eyes so really nothing much more for Iran to lose.

A P , Jan 15 2020 15:04 utc | 159
Tim Horton's has been foreign-owned (now Brazil) since 2014, but the rot started to set in as expansion, particularly into the US, became a major goal. Once a reasonable quality purveyor of coffee and made-from-scratch in-store donuts, now just another hawker of industrialized brown swill and partly-cooked/frozen-then-shipped and finish-baked chemical-laced products.

I only patronize a Timmie's if I don't know of a decent quality local bakery/restaurant in that particular area. The devil you know...

bevin , Jan 15 2020 15:15 utc | 160
bemildred draws attention to this article at Strategic Culture:
https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/01/15/reading-sun-tzu-in-tehran/

Another interesting article is this one, which tends to suggest a real softening in Canada's following of the US line.
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/trudeau-plane-victims-alive-iran-tensions-200114043724127.html

A P , Jan 15 2020 15:17 utc | 161
To William Gruff: Absolutely, Canada is a vassal state of the US.

Example 1: Cretien managed to keep Cdn troops out of Iraq, but dithering Paul Martin got forced by the US to send non-combat troops into Afghanistan, then bribery-cash-in-brown-envelopes Harper turned it into combat roles that persist to this day.

Ex 2, Diefenbaker scrapped the nearly-complete AVRO Arrow project on direct orders from the US that the total-crap BOMARC missile system was to be implemented instead.

Trudeau sorta confronted the US by legalizing pot, but other than that... the foreign policy leash is very visible on the Canadian lapdog.

Anmie , Jan 15 2020 15:40 utc | 162
Iran doesn't react like the US psychopaths do..
They follow the letter of the law, as they have done with JCPOA.
But in my opinion, Iran should get its nuke capabilities up to par asap. Why continue to want to look as though you're following the law of JCPOA by allowing the IAEA in who reports to the EU/US to continue intrusive inspections when they all plan war against you leaving you nuke defenseless while Israel and Saudis have or are getting nukes?
If Iran has nukes the US will back off. Nuff said.
LuBa , Jan 15 2020 15:41 utc | 163
Mike-SMO

"Israel has done some nasty stuff"

In 70 years of illegal and violent occupation of Palestine through deportation,eradication and no respect for human lives adding what zionist army and services have done through these years and this is "some nasty stuff"..no israel it's the cancer of middle-east..just it!

xLemming , Jan 15 2020 15:43 utc | 164
Posted by: A P | Jan 15 2020 15:17 utc | 161

Thanks AP

The AVRO Arrow fiasco was criminal... "scrapping" doesn't even begin to tell the story... utter destruction was more like it, with welding torches, right down to the last bolt. That plane, with it's mach 2 Iroquois engine was en route to completely embarrassing the US MIC

As well, few people know the AVRO Jetliner story, which preceded the Arrow - the first North American passenger jet aircraft - years ahead of anything the US produced

Jackrabbit , Jan 15 2020 15:48 utc | 165
powerandpeople @138:
Annex B, paragraph 5 allows Iran to purchase weapons ... after 5 years

Thanks for making us aware of this, powerandpeople.

!!

Krollchem , Jan 15 2020 15:59 utc | 166
snake@155

This panel discussion explains how Congress is bought by the military industrial (mostly oil) complex. Then again Eisenhower included Congress in the Cabal several years after he overthrew the democratic leader of Iran. The dialogue of these panel members links all Mideast invasions back to the initial destruction of Iranian government in 1953. Apparently, we cannot have democracy in the Mideast as it is bad for the mafia business.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-W9b-_K_Xo&feature=youtu.be

Trailer Trash , Jan 15 2020 16:00 utc | 167
I recently heard a story on CBC radio about the Arrow. Not only did they destroy the prototype and all parts, they even destroyed all the drawings, except for one set which was smuggled out by a draftsman, who kept them secret for decades. But now they are on display at the "Diefenbaker Canada Centre at the University of Saskatchewan until April 2020" (from Wiki)

It's interesting to learn that Uncle Sam wanted the program stopped. Why didn't some US company just buy Avro instead? Buying out the competition is standard operating procedure for US corporate parasites.

Carciofi , Jan 15 2020 16:02 utc | 168
What has Iran gotten by being "nice" and playing by the rules all these decades?

Nice guys finish last!

h , Jan 15 2020 17:29 utc | 169
wendy davis @154 Rouhani's tweet when accepting responsibility for the downing of the plane stated:

Hassan Rouhani
@HassanRouhani
·
Jan 10
Armed Forces' internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people.
Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake. #PS752

As you can see, Rouhani stated 'missiles' as in plural.

Hope this helps.

[Jan 16, 2020] By signing on to the JCPOA Iran demonstrated a number of things. Iran keeps her word. The US never does. Europe's role is to smile while preparing to stab you in the back

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Lysander , Jan 15 2020 2:04 utc | 111

#39 Kooshy!!

Great to run into you again. Indeed by signing on to the JCPOA Iran demonstrated a number of things. 1) Iran keeps her word. 2) The US never does. 3) Europe's role is to smile while preparing to stab you in the back. 4) The US will sacrifice her own interests for Israel's everytime.

I think all of us could have predicted all that. But what I could never have predicted was the complete in your face nature of American imperialism. It is one thing for there to be overwhelming evidence against a suspect. It's quite another for him to openly brag about his crimes and then promise to commit even more. That is why Trump's presidency is a blessing for Iran. If you happen to be in Iran, please share with us any information about the national mood and how people are coping in difficult circumstances.

[Jan 16, 2020] Another reason Merkel qualifies as a cowardly poodle. It's also clear, IMO, that Merkel lied to Putin and the press about her position on the JCPOA

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Likklemore , Jan 15 2020 1:42 utc | 107


karlof1 , Jan 15 2020 1:45 utc | 108

Passer by @61--

Didn't know that about Merkel; yet another reason she qualifies as a cowardly poodle. It's also clear, IMO, that Merkel lied to Putin and the press about her position on the JCPOA at their post-talks presser :

Putin: "We certainly could not ignore another issue which is vitally important not only for the region but also for the whole world – the issue of preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear programme. After the United States withdrew from this fundamental agreement, the Iranian side declared that they suspended some of their voluntary commitments under the JCPOA. Let me underscore this – they only suspended their voluntary commitments while they stress their readiness to go back to full compliance with the nuclear deal.

"Russia and Germany resolutely stand for the continued implementation of the Joint Plan. The Iranians are entitled to a support from European nations, which promised to set up a special financial vehicle separate from the US dollar to be used in trade settlements with Iran. The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) must finally begin working."

Merkel, statement: "Of course, we also discussed Iran. We agree that everything necessary must be done to preserve the JCPOA. Germany believes that there should be no nuclear weapons in Iran, and therefore we will use all the available diplomatic means to preserve this agreement, even though it is not perfect, but it includes obligations of all the sides."

Merkel answering a question: " I have mentioned an issue on which we do not see eye to eye with the Americans (JCPOA), even though they are our allies with whom we are working together on many matters. But when it comes to German and European opinions, we are acting above all in our own interests, while Russia is upholding its own interests, so we should look for common interests in this process.

"Despite certain obstacles, we have found common interests in our bilateral relations regarding the JCPOA with Iran. We have common opinions and different views, but a visit such as this one is the best thing. It is better to talk with each other rather than about one another, because it helps one to understand the other side's arguments."

It's very clear from Russia's reaction that the EU-3's action was a complete surprise. I doubt Merkel will be invited to Moscow again. For Russians and the rest of humanity, there's no trusting the West. IMO, it must always be treated as hostile regardless the smiles.
"

jared , Jan 15 2020 1:52 utc | 109
@ karlof1

Much like Trump - says one thing then immediately does something else. Only makes sense if in fact is outside thier control.

[Jan 16, 2020] While it might work in domestic politics, this mad man negotiating tactic erodes trust in international affairs and it will take decades for the US to recover from the harm done by Trump's school yard bully approach.

Jan 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Thuto , , January 14, 2020 at 11:48 am

While it might work in domestic politics, this mad man negotiating tactic erodes trust in international affairs and it will take decades for the US to recover from the harm done by Trump's school yard bully approach.

Even the docile Europeans are beginning to tire of this and once they get their balls stitched back on after being castrated for so long, America will have its work cut out crossing the chasm from unreliable and untrustworthy partner to being seen as dependable and worthy of entering into agreements with.

[Jan 15, 2020] Trump and the Mad Negotiator Approach

Notable quotes:
"... Another aspect of Trump's erraticness is making sudden shifts, or what we have called gaslighting. He'll suddenly and radically change his rhetoric, even praise someone he demonized. That if nothing else again is a power play, to try to maintain his position as driving the pacing and content of the negotiations, which again is meant to position his counterparty as in a weaker position, of having to react to his moves, even if that amounts to identifying them as noise. It is a watered-down form of a cult strategy called love bombing (remember that Trump has been described as often being very charming in first meetings, only to cut down the person he met in a matter of days). ..."
"... I would disagree with the "selecting staff" part. I can't really think of any of his appointees to any office while he is president that was a good pick. One worse than the other basically. Maybe in his private dealings he did better, but in public office it's a continuous horror show. Examples like Pence, Haley, "Mad Dog", Bolton, DeVos, his son in law, Pompeo. The list goes on. ..."
"... For me as a foreigner who detests the forever wars and most of the US foreign policy, this is a good thing: the more heavy handed, the more brutal, the more cruel, the more stupid the US policy is, the less is the chance for our euro governments to follow the US in today's war or other policy. ..."
"... They are not inept and incompetent at what they are trying to achieve. The GOP has long sought to privatize government to help the rich get richer and harm anyone who isn't rich by cutting services and making them harder to get. Trumps picks are carrying out that agenda very well. ..."
"... Trump is just a huge crude extension of the usual "exceptional" leaders, much more transparent by not pretending he is any sort of representative of democratic and cooperative values claimed by his predecessors. ..."
"... But what I think is noticeable is that his worst high profile staff picks, while horrible people, are generally those who are under his thumb and so he has control of. ..."
"... He got elected over the dead bodies of just about everyone who counts in the Republican Party. He pretty much did a hostile takeover of the GOP. So his ability to draw on seasoned hands was nil. And on top of that, he is temperamentally not the type to seek the counsel of perceived wise men in and hanging around the party. The people he has kept around are cronies like Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin. ..."
"... The one notably competent person he has attracted and retained is Robert Lightizer, the US Trade Representative ..."
"... oderint, dum metuant ..."
"... Führerprinzip ..."
"... Hitler ran the Third Reich by a system of parallel competition among bureaucratic empire builders of all stripes. Anyone who showed servile loyalty and mouthed his yahoo ideology got all the resources they liked, for any purpose they proposed. But the moment he encountered any form of independence or pushback, he changed horses at once. He left the old group in place, but gave all their resources to a burgeoning new bureaucracy that did things his way. If a State body resisted his will, he had a Party body do it instead. He was continually reaching down 2-3 levels in the org charts, to find some ambitious firecracker willing to suck up to him, and leapfrog to the top. ..."
"... This left behind a complete chaos of rival, duplicated functions, under mainly unfit leaders. And fortunately for the world, how well any of these organizations actually did their jobs was an entirely secondary consideration. Loyalty was all. ..."
"... Hitler sat at the center of all the resource grabbers and played referee. This made everyone dependent on his nod and ensured his continued power. The message was: there are no superiors in the Reich. There is only der Führer, and his favor trumps everything ..."
"... The few over-confident generals he picked, except for Flynn, finally caved when they realized staying was an affront to the honor code they swore to back in OCS or their academy. ..."
"... I don't know how they selected staff in the Reagan years, but lately the POTUS seems to appoint based on who the plutocrats want. As has been noted Bary O took his marching orders from Citigroup if I remember right. I doubt if Trump had even heard of most of the people he appointed prior to becoming president. So at least some of Trump's turnover is due to him firing recommendations from others who didn't turn out how he'd like. That's one reason I didn't get all that upset over the Bolton hiring – I didn't think he'd last a year before Trump canned him. ..."
"... I would say that Trump, not acting in an intelligent way is doing very clever things according to his interests. My opinion is that his actions/negotiations with foreign countries are 100% directed for domestic consumptiom. He does not care at all about international relationships, just his populist "make America great again" and he almost certainly play closest attention to the impact of his actions in US opinion. ..."
"... Classic predatory behaviors: culling the herd and eating the weak. ..."
"... I think Trump understands that one of the basic tactics of negotiation (though forgotten by the Left(tm)) is to set out a maximalist position before the negotiation starts, so that you have room to make compromises later. ..."
"... But in domestic politics, there's no doubt that publicly announcing extreme negotiating positions is a winning tactic. You force the media and other political actors to comment and make counter-proposals, thus dragging the argument more in your direction from the very start. Trump remembers something that his opponents have willfully forgotten: compromise is something you finish with not something you start from . In itself, any given compromise has no particular virtue or value. ..."
"... Today's Democrats want to destroy those social programs you cite. They have wanted to destroy those social programs ever since President Clinton wanted to conspire with "Prime Minister" Gingrich to privatize Social Security. Luckily Monica Lewinsky saved us from that fate. ..."
"... A nominee Sanders would run on keeping Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid in existence. And he would mean it. A nominee Biden might pretend to say it. But he would conspire with the Republicans to destroy them all. ..."
"... The maintenance of fear, chaos and blowback are exACTLY the desired result. Deliberately and on purpose. ..."
"... It also helps him do some things quietly in the background ..."
Jan 15, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Trump and the Mad Negotiator Approach Posted on January 14, 2020 by Yves Smith Trump's numerous character flaws, such as his grandiosity, his lack of interest in the truth, his impulsiveness, his habitual lashing out at critics, have elicited boatloads of disapproving commentary. It's disturbing to see someone so emotional and undisciplined in charge of anything, let alone the United States.

Rather than offer yet more armchair analysis, it might be productive to ask a different question: why hasn't Trump been an abject failure? There are plenty of rich heirs who blow their inheritance or run the family business into the ground pretty quickly and have to knuckle down to a much more modest lifestyle.

Trump's lack of discipline has arguably cost him. The noise regularly made about his business bankruptcies is wildly exaggerated. Most of Trump's bankruptcies were of casinos , and most of those took place in the nasty 1991-1992 recession. He was one of only two major New York City developers not to have to give meaningful equity in some of their properties in that downturn. He even managed to keep Mar-a-Lago and persuaded his lenders to let him keep enough cash to preserve a pretty flashy lifestyle because he was able to persuade them that preserving his brand name was key to the performance of Trump-branded assets.

The idea that Trump couldn't borrow after his early 1990s casino bankruptcies is also false. As Francine McKenna pointed out in 2017 in Donald Trump has had no trouble getting big loans at competitive rates:

The MarketWatch analysis shows a variety of lenders, all big banks or listed specialized finance companies like Ladder Capital, that have provided lots of money to Trump over the years in the forms of short-, medium- and long-term loans and at competitive rates, whether fixed or variable.

"The Treasury yield that matches the term of the loan is the closest starting benchmark for Trump-sized commercial real estate loans," said Robert Thesman, a certified public accountant in Washington state who specializes in real estate tax issues. The 10-year Treasury swap rate is also used and tracks the bonds closely, according to one expert.

Trump's outstanding loans were granted at rates between 2 points over and under the matching Treasury-yield benchmark at inception. That's despite the well-documented record of bankruptcy filings that dot Trump's history of casino investment.

The flip side is that it's not hard to make the case that Trump's self-indulgent style has cost him in monetary terms. His contemporary Steve Ross of The Related Companies who started out in real estate as a tax lawyer putting together Section 8 housing deals, didn't have a big stake like Trump did to start his empire. Ross did have industrialist and philanthropist Max Fisher as his uncle and role model, but there is no evidence that Fisher staked Ross beyond paying for his education . Ross has an estimated net worth of $7.6 billion versus Trump's $3.1 billion.

Despite Trump's heat-seeking-missile affinity for the limelight, we only get snippets of how he has managed his business, like his litigiousness and breaking of labor laws. Yet he's kept his team together and is pretty underleveraged for a real estate owner.

The area where we have a better view of how Trump operates is via his negotiating, where is astonishingly transgressive. He goes out of his way to be inconsistent, unpredictable, and will even trash prior commitments, which is usually toxic, since it telegraphs bad faith. How does this make any sense?

One way to think of it is that Trump is effectively screening for weak negotiating counterparties. Think of his approach as analogous to the Nigerian scam letters and the many variants you get in your inbox. They are so patently fake that one wonders why the fraudsters bother sending them.

But investigators figured that mystery out. From the Atlantic in 2012 :

Everyone knows that Nigerian scam e-mails, with their exaggerated stories of moneys tied up in foreign accounts and collapsed national economies, sound totally absurd, but according to research from Microsoft, that's on purpose .

As a savvy Internet user you probably think you'd never fall for the obvious trickery, but that's the point. Savvy users are not the scammers' target audience, [Cormac] Herley notes. Rather, the creators of these e-mails are targeting people who would believe the sort of tales these scams involve .:

Our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage. Since his attack has a low density of victims the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce false positives. By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor.

Who would want to get in a business relationship with a guy who makes clear early on that he might pull the rug out from under you? Most people would steer clear. So Trump's style, even if he adopted it out of deep-seated emotional needs, has the effect of pre-selecting for weak, desperate counterparties. It can also pull in people who think they can out-smart Trump and shysters who identify with him, as well as those who are prepared to deal with the headaches (for instance, the the business relationship is circumscribed and a decent contract will limit the downside).

Mind you, it is more common than you think for businesses to seek out needy business "partners". For instance, back in the day when General Electric was a significant player in venture capital, it would draw out its investment commitment process. The point was to ascertain if the entrepreneurs had any other prospects; they wouldn't tolerate GE's leisurely process if they did. By the time GE was sure it was the only game in town, it would cram down the principals on price and other terms. There are many variants of this playbook, such as how Walmart treats suppliers.

Trump has become so habituated to this mode of operating that he often launches into negotiations determined to establish that he had the dominant position when that is far from clear, witness the ongoing China trade row. Trump did in theory hold a powerful weapon in his ability to impose tariffs on China. But they are a blunt weapon, with significant blowback to the US. Even though China had a glass jaw in terms of damage to its economy (there were signs of stress, such as companies greatly stretching out when they paid their bills), Trump could not tolerate much of a stock market downdraft, nor could he play a long-term game.

Another aspect of Trump's erraticness is making sudden shifts, or what we have called gaslighting. He'll suddenly and radically change his rhetoric, even praise someone he demonized. That if nothing else again is a power play, to try to maintain his position as driving the pacing and content of the negotiations, which again is meant to position his counterparty as in a weaker position, of having to react to his moves, even if that amounts to identifying them as noise. It is a watered-down form of a cult strategy called love bombing (remember that Trump has been described as often being very charming in first meetings, only to cut down the person he met in a matter of days).

Voters have seen another face of Trump's imperative to find or create weakness: that of his uncanny ability to hit opponents' weak spots in ways that get them off balance, such as the way he was able to rope a dope Warren over her Cherokee ancestry claims.

The foregoing isn't to suggest that Trump's approach is optimal. Far from it. But it does "work" in the sense of achieving certain results that are important to Trump, of having him appear to be in charge of the action, getting his business counterparts on the back foot. That means Trump is implicitly seeing these encounters primarily in win-lose terms, rather than win-win. No wonder he has little appetite for international organizations. You have to give in order to get.


PlutoniumKun , January 14, 2020 at 7:08 am

I think this is pretty astute, thanks Yves. One reason I think Trump has been so successful for his limited range of skills is precisely that 'smart' people underestimate him so much. He knows one thing well – how power works. Sometimes that's enough. I've known quite a few intellectually limited people who have built very successful careers based on a very simple set of principles (e.g. 'never disagree with anyone more senior than me').

Anecdotally, I've often had the conversation with people about 'taking Trump seriously', as in, trying to assess what he really wants and how he has been so successful. In my experience, the 'smarter' and more educated the person I'm talking to is, the less willing they are to have that conversation. The random guy in the bar will be happy to talk and have insights. The high paid professional will just mutter about stupid people and racism.

I would also add one more reason for his success – he does appear to be quite good at selecting staff, and knowing who to delegate to.

timotheus , January 14, 2020 at 8:30 am

There is another figure from recent history who displayed similar astuteness about power while manifesting generally low intelligence: Chile's Pinochet. He had near failing grades in school but knew how to consolidate power, dominate the other members of the junta, and weed out the slightest hint of dissidence within the army.

Off The Street , January 14, 2020 at 9:17 am

To the average viewer, Trump's branding extends to the negative brands that he assigns to opponents. Witness Lyin' Ted , Pocahontas and similar sticky names that make their way into coverage. He induces free coverage from Fake News as if they can't resist gawking at a car wreck, even when one of the vehicles is their own. Manipulation has worked quite a lot on people with different world views, especially when they don't conceive of any different approaches.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 6:52 pm

Scott Adams touted that as one of Trump's hidden persuasionological weapons . . . that ability to craft a fine head-shot nickname for every opponent.

If Sanders were to be nominated, I suppose Trump would keep saying Crazy Bernie. Sanders will just have to respond in his own true-to-himself way. Maybe he could risk saying something like . . .

" so Trashy Trump is Trashy. This isn't new."

If certain key bunches of voters still have fond memories for Crazy Eddie, perhaps Sanders could have some operatives subtly remind people of that.

Some images of Crazy Eddie, for those who wish to stumble up Nostalgia Alley . . .

https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0geKYkLVB5emoUAN6RXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyNm03Y25mBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDQTA2MTVfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=crazy+eddie&fr=sfp

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 9:23 am

I would disagree with the "selecting staff" part. I can't really think of any of his appointees to any office while he is president that was a good pick. One worse than the other basically. Maybe in his private dealings he did better, but in public office it's a continuous horror show. Examples like Pence, Haley, "Mad Dog", Bolton, DeVos, his son in law, Pompeo. The list goes on.

Another indication how bad his delegation skills are is how short his picks stay at their job before they are fired again. Is there any POTUS which had higher staff turnover?

NotTimothyGeithner , January 14, 2020 at 9:45 am

Its a horror show because you don't agree with their values. After the last few Presidents, too much movement to the right would catastrophic, so there isn't much to do. His farm bill is a disaster. The new NAFTA is window dressing. He slashed taxes. He's found a way to make our brutal immigration system even more nefarious. His staff seems to be working out despite it not having many members of the Bush crime family.

Even if these people were as beloved by the press as John McCain, they would still be monsters.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 10:43 am

It's not their values that make them a horror show, it's their plain inaptitude and incompetency. E.g. someone like that Exxon CEO is at least somewhat capable, which is why I didn't mention him. Though he was quite ineffective as long as he lasted and probably quite corrupt. Pompeo in the same office on the other hand is simply a moron elevated way beyond his station. Words fail and the Peter principle cannot explain.

The US can paper over this due to their heavy handed application of power for now, but every day he stays in office, friends are abhorred while trying not to show it, and foes rejoice at the utter stupidity of the US how it helps their schemes.

For me as a foreigner who detests the forever wars and most of the US foreign policy, this is a good thing: the more heavy handed, the more brutal, the more cruel, the more stupid the US policy is, the less is the chance for our euro governments to follow the US in today's war or other policy. So while I am sort of happy about the outcome, I don't see the current monsters at the helm worse than the monsters 4 years ago under Obama. In fact I detested them much more since they had the power to drag my governments into their evil schemes.

Evil and clearly despicable is always better than evil and sort of charismatic.

tegnost , January 14, 2020 at 11:29 am

For me as a foreigner who detests the forever wars and most of the US foreign policy, this is a good thing: the more heavy handed, the more brutal, the more cruel, the more stupid the US policy is, the less is the chance for our euro governments to follow the US in today's war or other policy.

Indeed, if you look at the trendline from the '80's to now, trump is, in some ways, the less effective evil.

James O'Keefe , January 14, 2020 at 1:17 pm

They are not inept and incompetent at what they are trying to achieve. The GOP has long sought to privatize government to help the rich get richer and harm anyone who isn't rich by cutting services and making them harder to get. Trumps picks are carrying out that agenda very well.

That he still hasn't filled 170 appointed positions is icing on the cake. See stats at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-administration-appointee-tracker/database/

rosemerry , January 14, 2020 at 4:47 pm

I feel exactly the same. Trump is just a huge crude extension of the usual "exceptional" leaders, much more transparent by not pretending he is any sort of representative of democratic and cooperative values claimed by his predecessors.

PlutoniumKun , January 14, 2020 at 10:05 am

But what I think is noticeable is that his worst high profile staff picks, while horrible people, are generally those who are under his thumb and so he has control of. But in the behind the scenes activities, they've been very effective – as an obvious example, witness how he's put so many conservative Republicans into the judiciary, in contrast with Obamas haplessness.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 10:51 am

That is not a Trump thing, getting more judges is a 100% rep party thing and only rep party thing. Sure, he is the one putting his rubber stamp on it, but the picking and everything else is a party thing. They stopped the placement for years under Obama before Trump was ever thought about, and now are filling it as fast as they can. Aren't they having complicit democrats helping them or how can they get their picks beyond congress? Or am I getting something wrong and Obama could have picked his judges but didn't?

The people he chooses to run his administration however are all horrible. Not just horrible people but horrible picks as in incompetent buffoons without a clue. Can you show a evil, horrible or not but actually competent pick of his in his administration?

The only one I can think of is maybe the new FAA chief Dickson. Who is a crisis manager, after the FAA is in its worst crisis ever right now. So right now someone competent must have this post. All the others seem to be chickenhawk blowhards with the IQ of a fruitfly but the bluster of a texan.

fajensen , January 14, 2020 at 11:13 am

Gina Haspel? She is probably equally good with a handgun, an ice pick and a pair of pliers.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 11:49 am

Is she effective? What has she done to make her a spy mastermind? She is obviously a torturer, but is that a qualification in any way useful to be a intelligence agency boss?

I have the suspicion Haspel was elevated to their office by threatening "I know where all the bodies are buried (literally) and if you don't make me boss, I will tell". Blackmail can helping a career lots if successful.

Thuto , January 14, 2020 at 11:18 am

The outcomes of incompetence and malicious intent are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. With the people Trump has surrounded himself with, horrible, nasty outcomes are par for the course because these guys are both incompetent and chock full of malicious intent. Instead of draining the swamp, he's gone and filled it with psychotic sociopaths.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:04 pm

Some time ago I heard Mulvaney answer the criticism about the Trump budget of the day cutting so much money from EPA that EPA would have to fire half of its relevant scientists. He replied that " this is how we drain the swamp".

Citing "corruption" was misdirection. Trump let his supporters believe that the corruption was The Swamp. What the Trump Group ACTually means by "The Swamp" is all the career scientists and researchers and etc. who take seriously the analyzing and restraining of Upper Class Looter misbehavior.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 12:28 pm

I limited the post to his negotiating approach. One would think someone so erratic would have trouble attracting people. However, Wall Street and a lot of private businesses are full of high maintenance prima donnas at the top. Some of those operations live with a lot of churn in the senior ranks. For others, one way to get them to stay is what amounts to a combat pay premium, they get paid more than they would in other jobs to put up with a difficult boss. I have no idea how much turnover there is in the Trump Organization or how good his key lieutenants are so I can't opine either way on that part.

Regarding his time as POTUS, Trump has a lot of things working against him on top of his difficult personality and his inability to pay civil servants a hardship premium:

1. He got elected over the dead bodies of just about everyone who counts in the Republican Party. He pretty much did a hostile takeover of the GOP. So his ability to draw on seasoned hands was nil. And on top of that, he is temperamentally not the type to seek the counsel of perceived wise men in and hanging around the party. The people he has kept around are cronies like Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin.

The one notably competent person he has attracted and retained is Robert Lightizer, the US Trade Representative

2. Another thing that undermines Trump's effectiveness in running a big bureaucracy is his hatred for its structure. He likes very lean organizations with few layers. He can't impose that on his administration. It's trying to put a round peg in a square hole.

cocomaan , January 14, 2020 at 1:56 pm

I have no idea how much turnover there is in the Trump Organization or how good his key lieutenants are so I can't opine either way on that part.

Is it just me or does nobody know? Does it seem to anyone else like there has been virtually no investigation of his organization or how it was run?

Maybe it's buried in the endless screeds against Trump, but any investigations of his organizations always seem colored by his presidency. I'd love to see one that's strictly historical.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 2:10 pm

I am simply saying that I have not bothered investigating that issue. There was a NY Times Magazine piece on the Trump Organization before his election. That was where I recall the bit about him hating having a lot of people around him, he regards them as leeches. That piece probably had some info on how long his top people had worked for him.

ObjectiveFunction , January 15, 2020 at 2:30 am

Congratulations Yves, on another fine piece, one of your best. I might recommend you append this comment to it as an update, or else pen a sequel.

While Trump has more in common stylistically with a Borgia prince out of Machiavelli, or a Roman Emperor ( oderint, dum metuant ) than with a Hitler or a Stalin, your note still puts me in mind of an insightful comment I pulled off a history board a while ago, regarding the reductionist essence of Führerprinzip , mass movement or no mass movement. It's mostly out of Shirer:

Hitler ran the Third Reich by a system of parallel competition among bureaucratic empire builders of all stripes. Anyone who showed servile loyalty and mouthed his yahoo ideology got all the resources they liked, for any purpose they proposed. But the moment he encountered any form of independence or pushback, he changed horses at once. He left the old group in place, but gave all their resources to a burgeoning new bureaucracy that did things his way. If a State body resisted his will, he had a Party body do it instead. He was continually reaching down 2-3 levels in the org charts, to find some ambitious firecracker willing to suck up to him, and leapfrog to the top.

This left behind a complete chaos of rival, duplicated functions, under mainly unfit leaders. And fortunately for the world, how well any of these organizations actually did their jobs was an entirely secondary consideration. Loyalty was all.

Hitler sat at the center of all the resource grabbers and played referee. This made everyone dependent on his nod and ensured his continued power. The message was: there are no superiors in the Reich. There is only der Führer, and his favor trumps everything .

As you note, some of these tools (fortunately) aren't available to Cheeto 45 .

I hope this particular invocation of Godwin's avenger is trenchant, and not OT. Although Godwin himself blessed the #Trump=Hitler comparison some time ago, thereby shark-jumping his own meme.

Tomonthebeach , January 14, 2020 at 12:53 pm

It might be as simple as birds of a feather (blackbirds of course) flocking together. Trump seems to have radar for corrupt cronies as we have seen his swamp draining into the federal prison system. The few over-confident generals he picked, except for Flynn, finally caved when they realized staying was an affront to the honor code they swore to back in OCS or their academy.

lyman alpha blob , January 14, 2020 at 2:16 pm

The crooks in the Reagan administration were getting bounced seemingly every other day. Just found this from Brookings (blecchh) which if accurate says Trump has recently surpassed Reagan – https://www.brookings.edu/research/tracking-turnover-in-the-trump-administration/

I don't know how they selected staff in the Reagan years, but lately the POTUS seems to appoint based on who the plutocrats want. As has been noted Bary O took his marching orders from Citigroup if I remember right. I doubt if Trump had even heard of most of the people he appointed prior to becoming president. So at least some of Trump's turnover is due to him firing recommendations from others who didn't turn out how he'd like. That's one reason I didn't get all that upset over the Bolton hiring – I didn't think he'd last a year before Trump canned him.

My recollection of the Reagan years was that he had a lot of staff who left to "spend more time with their families"; in other words they got caught being crooked and we're told to go lest they besmirch the sterling reputation of St. Ronnie.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 6:57 pm

He early-on adopted the concept of "dismantle the Administrative State". Some of his appointees are designed to do that from within. He appoints termites to the Department of Lumber Integrity because he wants to leave the lumber all destroyed after he leaves the White House.

His farm bill is only a disaster to those who support Good Farm Bill Governance. His mission is to destroy as much of the knowledge and programs within the USDA as possible. So his farm bill is designed to achieve the destruction he wants to achieve. If it works, it was a good farm bill from his viewpoint. For example.

Ignacio , January 15, 2020 at 5:38 am

I would say that Trump, not acting in an intelligent way is doing very clever things according to his interests. My opinion is that his actions/negotiations with foreign countries are 100% directed for domestic consumptiom. He does not care at all about international relationships, just his populist "make America great again" and he almost certainly play closest attention to the impact of his actions in US opinion.

He calculates the risks and takes measures that show he is a strong man defending US interests (in a very symplistic and populist way) no matter if someone or many are offended, abused or even killed as we have recently seen. Then if it is appreciated that a limit has been reached, and the limit is not set by international reactions but perceived domestic reactions, he may do a setback showing how sensibly magnanimous can a strongman like him be. In the domestic front, IMO, he does not give a damn on centrists of all kinds. Particularly, smart centrists are strictly following Trumps playbook focusing on actions that by no means debilitate his positioning as strongman in foreign issues and divert attention from the real things that would worry Trump. The impeachment is exactly that. Trump must be 100% confident that he would win any contest with any "smart" centrist. Of course he also loves all the noises he generates with, for instance, the Soleimani killing or Huawei banning that distract from his giveaways to the oligarchs and further debilitation of remaining welfare programs and environmental programs. This measures don't pass totally unnoticed but Hate Inc . and public opinions/debates are not paying the attention his domestic measures deserve. Trump's populism feeds on oligarch support and despair and his policies are designed to keep and increase both. Polls on Democrats distract from the most important polls on public opinion about Trum "surprise" actions.

Trump will go for a third term.

Seamus Padraig , January 14, 2020 at 7:18 am

Trump has the rare gift of being able to drive his enemies insane – just witness what's become of the Democrats, a once proud American political party.

Eureka Springs , January 14, 2020 at 9:39 am

Democrats have long been (what, 50 plus yrs. – Phil Ochs – Love Me I'm A Liberal) exuding false pride of not appearing to be or sounding insane. Their place, being the concern troll of the duopoly. All are mad. If the Obama years didn't prove it, the Dems during Bush Cheney certainly did.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 10:53 am

Yes, 50 years. Nixon played mad to get his Vietnam politics through, Reagan was certifiable "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever." "We begin bombing in five minutes." live on air. Etc.

vlade , January 14, 2020 at 7:38 am

I suspect only half of the post was posted? The last para seems to get cut in mid sentence.

I'd add one more thing (which may be in the second half, assuming there's one). Trump's massively insane demands are a good anchoring strategy. Even semi-rational player will not make out-of-this-earth demands – they would be seen as either undermining their rationality, or clearly meant to only anchor so less effective (but surprisingly, even when we know it's only an anchor it apparently works, at least a bit). With irrational Trump, one just doesn't know.

GramSci , January 14, 2020 at 7:41 am

Classic predatory behaviors: culling the herd and eating the weak.

David , January 14, 2020 at 8:21 am

I think Trump understands that one of the basic tactics of negotiation (though forgotten by the Left(tm)) is to set out a maximalist position before the negotiation starts, so that you have room to make compromises later.

Sometimes this works better than others – I don't know how far you can do it with the Chinese, for example. But then Trump may have inadvertently played, in that case, into the tradition of scripted public utterances combined with behind-the-scenes real negotiation that tends to characterize bargaining in Asia.

But in domestic politics, there's no doubt that publicly announcing extreme negotiating positions is a winning tactic. You force the media and other political actors to comment and make counter-proposals, thus dragging the argument more in your direction from the very start. Trump remembers something that his opponents have willfully forgotten: compromise is something you finish with not something you start from . In itself, any given compromise has no particular virtue or value.

Michael Fiorillo , January 14, 2020 at 8:59 am

Yes, Trump does seem to be very good at getting to people to "negotiate against themselves."

chuck roast , January 14, 2020 at 9:52 am

and that is why Trump will eat Biden's lunch.

The Rev Kev , January 14, 2020 at 9:09 am

There is actually two parts to a negotiation I should mention. There is negotiating a deal. And then there is carrying it out. Not only Trump but the US has shown itself incapable of upholding deals but they will break them when they see an advantage or an opportunity. Worse, one part of the government may be fighting another part of the government and will sabotage that deal in sometimes spectacular fashion.
So what is the point of having all these weird and wonderful negotiating strategies if any partners that you have on the international stage have learned that Trump's word is merely a negotiating tactic? And this includes after a deal is signed when he applies some more pressure to change something in an agreement that he just signed off on? If you can't keep a deal, then ultimately negotiating a deal is useless.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 9:28 am

The incapability of the US to keep their treaties has been a founding principle of the country. Ask any Indian.

Putin or the russian foreign ministry called the US treaty incapable a few years before Trump, and they were not wrong. Trump didn't help being erratic as he is, but he didn't cancel any treaty on his own: JCPOA, INF, etc. He had pretty broad support for all of these. Only maybe NAFTA was his own idea.

timbers , January 14, 2020 at 9:47 am

I'm just not impressed by Trump in any way.

He owes the fact he's President not to any skill he has, but to Democrats being so bad. Many non establishment types could have beaten Hillary.

And Trump owes the fact that he's not DOA in 2020 re-election again because Democrats are so bad. There are a handful of extremely popular social programs Democrats could champion that would win over millions of voters and doom Trump's re-election. But instead, they double down on issues that energize Trump's base, are not off-limits to there donors while ignoring what the broad non corporate/rich majority support. For example impeaching him for being the first recent President not to start a major new war for profit and killing millions and then saying it's really because something he did in Ukraine that 95% of Americans couldn't care less about and won't even bother to understand even if they could.

That leaves the fact he is rather rich and must have done something to become that. I don't know enough about him to evaluate that. But I would never what to know him or have a friend that acts like him. I've avoided people like that in my life.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 12:36 pm

Did you read the post as positive? Please read again. Saying that Trump's strategy works only to the extent that he winds up selecting for weak partners is not praise. First, it is clinical, and second, it says his strategy has considerable costs.

rd , January 14, 2020 at 6:54 pm

I find it interesting that the primary foreign entity who has played Trump like a violin is Kim in North Korea. He has gotten everything he wanted, except sanctions relief over the past couple of years.

However, Trump's style of negotiating with Iran has made it clear to Kim that North Korea would be idiots to give up their nuclear weapons and missiles. Meanwhile, Iran has watched Trump's attitude towards Kim since Kim blew up his first bomb and Trump is forcing them to develop nuclear weapons to be able to negotiate with Trump and the West.

ObjectiveFunction , January 15, 2020 at 1:36 am

But other than the minor matter of US 8th Army (cadre) sitting in the line of fire, the bulk of any risks posed by Li'l Kim are borne by South Korea, Japan and China. So for Trump, it's still down the list a ways, until the Norks can nuke tip a missile and hit Honolulu. So what coup has Kim achieved at Trump's expense, again?

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:13 pm

Today's Democrats want to destroy those social programs you cite. They have wanted to destroy those social programs ever since President Clinton wanted to conspire with "Prime Minister" Gingrich to privatize Social Security. Luckily Monica Lewinsky saved us from that fate.

A nominee Sanders would run on keeping Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid in existence. And he would mean it. A nominee Biden might pretend to say it. But he would conspire with the Republicans to destroy them all.

The ClintoBama Pelosicrats have no standing on which to pretend to support some very popular social programs and hope to be believed any longer. Maybe that is why they feel there is no point in even pretending any more.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 6:42 pm

Mind you, there's no reason to think that this negotiation approach wasn't an adaptation to Trump's emotional volatility, as in finding a way to make what should have been a weakness a plus. And that he's less able to make that adaptation work well as he's over his head, has less control than as a private businessman, and generally under way more pressure.

HH , January 14, 2020 at 11:43 am

I recall reading that Trump's empire would have collapsed during the casino fiasco were it not for lending from his father when credit was not available elsewhere. NYT investigative reporters have turned up evidence of massive financial support from Trump father to son to the tune of hundreds of millions throughout the son's career. So much for the great businessman argument.

carbpow , January 14, 2020 at 11:45 am

Trump is nothing more or less than a reflection of the mind set of the US people. The left wing resorts to the same tactics that Trump uses to gain their ends. Rational thought and reasonable discussion seems to be absent. Everyone is looking for a cause for the country's failing infrastructure, declining life expectancy, and loss of opportunity for their children to have a better life than they were able to achieve.

They each blame the other side. But there are more than two sides to most folks experience. If ever the USA citizens abolish or just gets fed up with the two party system maybe things will change. In reality most people know there is little difference between the two parties so why even vote?

Jeremy Grimm , January 14, 2020 at 12:11 pm

This analysis of Trump reminded me of a story I heard from the founders of a small rural radio station. Both had been in broadcasting for years at a large station in a major market, one as a program director and the other in sales. They competed for a broadcasting license that became available and they won.

With the license in-hand they needed to obtain investments to get the station on-air within a year or they would lose the license. Even with their combined savings and as much money as they could obtain from other members of their families and from friends -- they were short what they needed by several hundred thousand dollars.

Their collateral was tapped out and banks wouldn't loan on the broadcast license alone without further backing. They had to find private investors. They located and presented to several but their project could find no backers. In many cases prospects told them their project was too small -- needed too little money -- to be of interest. As the deadline for going on-air loomed they were put in touch with a wealthy local farmer.

After a long evening presenting their business case to this farmer in ever greater detail, he sat back and told them he would give them the money they needed to get their station on-air -- but he wanted a larger interest in the business than what they offered him. He wanted a 51% interest -- a controlling interest -- or he would not give them the money, and they both had to agree to work for the new radio station for a year after it went on-air.

The two holders of the soon to be lost broadcast license looked at each other and told the farmer he could keep his money and left. The next day the farmer called on the phone and gave them the names and contact information for a few investors, any one of whom should be able and interested in investing the amounts they needed on their terms. He also told them that had they accepted his offer he would have driven them out of the new station before the end of the year it went on-air. He said he wanted to see whether they were 'serious' before putting them in touch with serious investors.

juliania , January 14, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Sorry, assassination doesn't fit into this scenario. That is a bridge too far. Trump has lost his effectiveness by boasting about this. It isn't just unpredictability. It is dangerous unpredictability.

Yves Smith Post author , January 15, 2020 at 5:52 am

I never once said that Trump was studied in how he operates, in fact, I repeatedly pointed out that he's highly emotional and undisciplined. I'm simply describing some implications.

meadows , January 14, 2020 at 12:28 pm

If our corrupt Congress had not ceded their "co-equal" branch of gov't authority over the last 40 years thereby gradually creating the Imperial Presidency that we have now, we might comfortably mitigate much of the mad king antics.

Didn't the Founding Fathers try desperately to escape the terrible wars of Europe brought on by the whims and grievances of inbred kings, generation after generation? Now on a whim w/out so much as a peep to Congress, presidential murder is committed and the CongressCritters bleat fruitlessly for crumbs of info about it.

I see no signs of this top-heavy imperialism diminishing. Every decision will vanish into a black hole marked "classified."

I am profoundly discouraged at 68 who at 18 years old became a conscientious objector, that the same undeclared BS wars and BS lies are used to justify continuous conflct almost nonstop these last 50 years as if engaging in such violence can ever be sucessful in achieving peaceful ends? Unless the maintenance of fear, chaos and blowback are the actual desired result.

Trump's negotiating style is chaos-inducing deliberately, then eventually a "Big Daddy" Trump can fix the mess, spin the mess and those of us still in the thrall of big-daddyism can feel assuaged. It's the relief of the famiy abuser who after the emotional violence establishes a temporary calm and family members briefly experience respite, yet remain wary and afraid.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:34 pm

Bingo!

The maintenance of fear, chaos and blowback are exACTLY the desired result. Deliberately and on purpose.

Jeff Wells of Rigorous Intuition wrote a post about that years ago, in a different context. Here it is.

https://rigint.blogspot.com/2006/07/violent-bear-it-away.html

xkeyscored , January 15, 2020 at 5:42 am

It also helps him do some things quietly in the background
I think you've hit the nail on the head there.

KFritz , January 14, 2020 at 10:17 pm

Kim Jong Un uses similar tactics, strategy, perhaps even style. Clinically and intellectually, it's interesting to watch their interaction. Emotionally, given their weaponry, it's terrifying.

Jason , January 15, 2020 at 9:15 am

Great post! The part about selecting for desperate business partners is very insightful, it makes his cozying up to dictators and pariah states much more understandable. He probably thinks/feels that these leaders are so desperate for approval from a country like the US that, when he needs something from them, he will have more leverage and be able to impose what he wants.

[Jan 14, 2020] The EU is a hopeless vassal of the US. It doesn't matter if the EU is agreement capable or not. They have no sovereignty to begin with.

Notable quotes:
"... Deal finishes October 2020 if I remember correctly. All sanctions will be lifted so long as Iran is in compliance at that time. This is a move to prevent this. ..."
"... Obviously, Merkel doesn't have the political strength to nix Nordstream 2. Until she's replaced by someone with greater vision, EU and German policy won't change toward Iran. IMO, the trio don't amount to the level of poodles as they're known to have courage. The Trio proudly display the fact that they're 100% Cowards. ..."
"... The EU cannot lead in anything - it is a completely owned and operated US tool. It is a big zero in providing humanity any help with the big problem of our time: the 'indispensable and exceptional' supremacist US. ..."
Jan 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Nemo , Jan 14 2020 19:35 utc | 1

Be fair. It doesn't matter if the EU is agreement capable or not. They have no sovereignty to begin with. It is known.

powerandpeople , Jan 14 2020 19:37 utc | 2

Deal finishes October 2020 if I remember correctly. All sanctions will be lifted so long as Iran is in compliance at that time. This is a move to prevent this.
BraveNewWorld , Jan 14 2020 19:41 utc | 3
I always learn some thing here. For example imagine my surprise to learn the EU had a reputation worth protecting. All you need to know about the EU is bitches will do what bitches are told. This is just one more step on the road to war with China, is that really what the citizens of the EU want? Are the people of the EU ready to die for the Trump and the Republican party?
Ghost Ship , Jan 14 2020 19:42 utc | 4
Nemo @ 1

You forget that on the day the UK leaves the EU it recovers full sovereignty. Well at least Boris Johnson claimed it would.

Realist , Jan 14 2020 19:49 utc | 6
Think tanks, think tanks, think tanks. In 2009, the Brookings Institute's paper Which Path to Persia, proposed offering Iran a very good deal and then sabotaging it. Good cop, Obama, bad cop, Trump. Mission accomplished.
winston2 , Jan 14 2020 19:50 utc | 7
Only a matter of when and how. The warmongers have Trumps balls in a vice, he can't even resign without making it worse by letting Pence take over. The art of the squeal, very high pitched is whats happening in DC.
Heath , Jan 14 2020 19:51 utc | 8
1st of all The UK was always going to side with DC over Iran. 2ndly for France and Germany they probably aren't ready to put themselves plus their EU partners in the US doghouse for Iran. When they break it will be a time of their own choosing.
Likklemore , Jan 14 2020 19:52 utc | 9
Thanks b, for this detailed coverage of the 3 wimps' efforts to kill JCPOA. You did not disappoint. Love the image showing mother residing in "occupied Palestine" .. (term coined by MoA barfly)

I commented in the previous post, Russia warned of unintended consequences LINK

Moscow is calling on the European parties to the Iran nuclear deal not to escalate tensions and to abandon their decision to trigger the treaty's Dispute Resolution Mechanism, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

"We strongly urge the Eurotroika [of parties to the JCPOA] not to inflame tensions and to abandon any steps which call the prospects of the nuclear deal's future into question. Despite all the challenges it has faced, the JCPOA has not lost its relevance," the ministry said in a statement.

OTH
Trumps impeachment trial begins next Tuesday

so the focus shifts BUT

what do we make of this?

Court in Ukraine orders investigation of Poroshenko, Obama administration members

Ex-US vice-president, Joseph Biden is also suspected of corruption, according to a member of the Ukrainian parliament

KIEV, January 14. /TASS/. Ukraine's Supreme Anti-Corruption Court has obliged the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) to launch a probe into seizure of government power and corruption suspicions. The cases mention the names of the United States' 44th president, Barack Obama, former Ukrainian president, Pyotr Poroshenko and ex-US vice-president, Joseph Biden, a member of the Ukrainian parliament from the Opposition Platform - For Life party, Renat Kuzmin, said[.]

"investigate the suspicions over the seizure of government power in Ukraine and of the embezzlement of state budget money and international financial assistance by members of the Obama administration"

that's what the man said.

Russ , Jan 14 2020 19:53 utc | 10
If it ever was possible to sign a treaty with the US and expect them to abide by it, it hasn't been possible for a long time. Here as everywhere else, Trump merely openly proclaims the systemic lawlessness he shares with the rest of the US political class. (His contemptuous withdrawal from the JCPOA never has been one of the things the establishment and media criticize him for.)

For as long as US imperial power lasts, anyone who doesn't want to be a poodle (or to get regime-changed because they foolishly attempt to sit the fence) has to accept that there can be no legitimate agreements with the US or its poodles. If you sign a treaty with them, you have to view it exactly the same way you know they do, as nothing but propaganda, otherwise not worth the paper it's written on. No doubt North Korea, if they were in any doubt before, registered how Trump and the US media immediately proceeded to systematically lie about the agreement they'd supposedly just concluded, before the ink was even dry.

Here's hoping that if Iran was in any doubt before, they too are getting the message: As far as the US and Europe are concerned, the only purpose of the JCPOA is to serve as a weapon against them.

Pnyx , Jan 14 2020 19:53 utc | 11
Face it B, there will be blood. It's a matter of time. It's unavoidable. The empire will force its own destruction - and perhaps the rest of humanity's. The demons of nihilism will prevail. (Sounds like I have been hearing death metal. I swear I did not. And I not under the influence either.)
les7 , Jan 14 2020 19:53 utc | 12
The Oct 2020 deadline is important for more than one reason- Irans application to the SCO is being held up because of it. The SCO membership would obligate support from countries like India in response to politically motivated sanctions.
karlof1 , Jan 14 2020 19:54 utc | 13
Surprised at Germany since Merkel just met with Putin. When I read of this earlier this morning, that it's based on lies was 100% clear, that the trio are feckless and deserve all the social instability that will soon come their way. Why did I mention social instability:

Breaking :

"US, Japan, EU seek new global rules limiting subsidies."

Thus begging this question : "Does that include all the free money printing from central banks and repo market interventions?"

And why would the Fed need to do this at a time of the greatest Bull Market of all time:

"The Fed is considering a plan to allow them to lend cash DIRECTLY TO HEDGE FUNDS in order to ease the REPO Crisis. [Emphasis original]

"Where is 'bailing out private investment funds' in their alleged 'dual mandate'?"

Which gets us back to the reason Iran's targeted: Because it lies outside the dollar economy, refuses to engage in petrodollar recycling, and has a quasi-socialist economy with no private banking. Plus, we now see that Iraq will pursue evicting NATO and Outlaw US Empire forces and likely join the Arc of Resistance's/Iran's policies which are what the Outlaw US Empire went to war over to begin with.

Obviously, Merkel doesn't have the political strength to nix Nordstream 2. Until she's replaced by someone with greater vision, EU and German policy won't change toward Iran. IMO, the trio don't amount to the level of poodles as they're known to have courage. The Trio proudly display the fact that they're 100% Cowards.

Heath , Jan 14 2020 19:57 utc | 14
@ realist 6. basically it boils down to giving Barry a foreign policy award like getting the Nobel gong.

AriusArmenian , Jan 14 2020 19:58 utc | 15

The EU is a hopeless craven vassal of the US. The US dropping out of the JCPOA was the acid test which the EU has spectacularly failed. We are in a historical pivot with the rise of the coalescing multifarious East which is forcing the EU to make a decision: stay under the US wing, go it alone, or ally with the East. The EU seems to know it at least should get more distance between itself and the US but every time there is a major geopolitical event it starts to talk like it is going independent but then always drops back into the US hand. How many times does this have to happen for us to admit what the EU is about?

The EU cannot lead in anything - it is a completely owned and operated US tool. It is a big zero in providing humanity any help with the big problem of our time: the 'indispensable and exceptional' supremacist US.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Jan 14 2020 19:58 utc | 15

Brad , Jan 14 2020 20:00 utc | 16
If we accept that EU nations lack sovereignty and go further to suggest that such nations are more simulations than real, what would an analysis of such events as the fallout from the demise of the JCPOA look like? How should one talk about international events when corporate sovereignty and oligarchical decision making are the real? How would we describe this exact context based not on the simulation but on the real workings of power?
Nemo , Jan 14 2020 20:04 utc | 17
Yes indeed! At least blighty knows the score! The leash is no place for the British bulldog. When brexit is complete they will be free to crawl straight up muricas bum! Lol!
alaff , Jan 14 2020 20:07 utc | 18
Haha, great drawing. This pile on the left is incomparable. But the picture is incomplete - there is not enough proudly walking in front of the masters of a small Polish poodle with a bone in his teeth.

Agree with Nemo, #1. This is a matter of sovereignty. At the moment, European countries are not sovereign, and, btw, this is a kind of double non-sovereignty: the submission of a separate European country to the Americans, plus the submission of the same country to a Brussels bureaucracy called the EU leadership. What independent, bold decisions can we talk about? None.

The once great Europe...

[Jan 12, 2020] MIC along with Wall Street controls the government and the country

Highly recommended!
Jan 12, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
  1. likbez , January 12, 2020 5:30 pm

    Everyone keeps dancing around it: Iraqi PM Abdul-Mahdi has reported that Soleimani was on the way to see him with a reply to a Saudi peace proposal. Who profits from Peace? Who does not?

    The killing of Soleimani, while a tragic even with far reaching consequences, is just an illustration of the general rule: MIC does not profit from peace. And MIC dominates any national security state, into which the USA was transformed by the technological revolution on computers and communications, as well as the events of 9/11.

    The USA government can be viewed as just a public relations center for MIC. That's why Trump/Pompeo/Esper/Pence gang position themselves as rabid neocons, which means MIC lobbyists in order to hold their respective positions. There is no way out of this situation. This is a classic Catch 22 trap.

    The fact that a couple of them are also "Rapture" obsessed religious bigots means that the principle of separation of church and state does no matter when MIC interests are involved.

    The health of MIC requires maintaining an inflated defense budget at all costs. Which, in turn, drives foreign wars and the drive to capture other nations' resources to compensate for MIC appetite. The drive which is of course closely allied with Wall Street interests (disaster capitalism.)

    In such conditions fake "imminent threat" assassinations necessarily start happening. Although the personality of Pompeo and the fact that he is a big friend of the current head of Mossad probably played some role.

    It's really funny that Trump (probably with the help of his "reference group," which includes Adelson and Kushner), managed to appoint as the top US diplomat a person who was trained as a mechanic engineer and specialized as a tank repair mechanic. And who was a long-time military contractor. So it is quite natural that he represents interests of MIC.

    IMHO under Trump/Pompeo/Esper trio some kind of additional skirmishes with Iran are a real possibility: they are necessary to maintain the current inflated level of defense spending.

    State of the US infrastructure, the actual level of unemployment (U6 is ~7% which some neolibs call full employment ;-), and the level of poverty of the bottom 33% of the USA population be damned. Essentially the bottom 33% is the third world country within the USA.

    "If you make more than $15,000 (roughly the annual salary of a minimum-wage employee working 40 hours per week), you earn more than 32.2% of Americans

    The 894 people that earn more than $20 million make more than 99.99989% of Americans, and are compensated a cumulative $37,009,979,568 per year. "

    ( https://www.huffpost.com/entry/income-inequality-crisis_n_4221012 )

[Jan 12, 2020] US has been preaching human rights while mounting wars and lying.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Over $7 trillion spent while homelessness is rampant. Healthcare is unaffordable for the 99% of the population. ..."
Jan 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Likklemore , Jan 11 2020 17:48 utc | 201

At 2016, here is the long bombing list of the 32 countries by the late William Blum. Did I mention sanctions is an Act of War?

Little u.s. has been preaching human rights while mounting wars and lying. Albright thought the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children were worth it. !!! it was worth killings and maiming.

Over $7 trillion spent while homelessness is rampant. Healthcare is unaffordable for the 99% of the population.

The u.s. will leave Iraq and Syria aka Saigon 1975 or horizontal. It's over.

2020: u.s. Stands Alone.

Searching for friends. Now, after Russiagate here is little pompous: "we want to be friends with Russia." Sanctions much excepting we need RD180 engines, seizure of diplomatic properties. Who are you kidding?

"we seek a constructive and productive relationship with the Russian Federation".

What a bunch of hypocrites? How dare you criticize commenters who see little u.s. in the light of day, not a shining beacon on the hill..

[Jan 12, 2020] Nobody, not even Russia and china, can afford to stay in the sidelines in a nuclear war in the 2020s.

Notable quotes:
"... What i find truly amazing is that American Zionists still believe crushing Iran is easy enough. Israel, with 8 million jews stuffed in a small country, is nothing more than a carrier battle group marooned on land ..."
Jan 12, 2020 | smoothiex12.blogspot.com

Axiosromano 2 days ago

The tramp & nutNyahoo machismo show continues to be fun to watch. Both show off their penis worms as they arrogantly claim they can crush iran. Both the usa and israel keep banging on the doors and walls of their pissed-off neighbors' houses. That eventually gets you murdered whether in baltimore or baghdad.

A crushable iran is true if and only if they can mount a full-on nuclear war on Iran. But such horrendous cheating means all bets are off, and iran's allies will provide the nukes required to melt down the American homeland too. Nobody, not even Russia and china, can afford to stay in the sidelines in a nuclear war in the 2020s.

What i find truly amazing is that American Zionists still believe crushing Iran is easy enough. Israel, with 8 million jews stuffed in a small country, is nothing more than a carrier battle group marooned on land. Sitting ducks, with nice armor, nukes and all, are ... still sitting ducks. nutNyahoo should ask his technical crew just how few megatons are needed, or just a few thousand modern missiles are required to transform sitting ducks into nicely roasted peking ducks.

So a conventional war it is. The usa and israel has exactly zero, zilch and nada chances of winning a war with iran. The usa keeps forgetting that it is a dying empire with dying funding value and mental resources. Just like israel which oddly thinks dozens of f-35s will give it immunity through air superiority. Proof of this fact that iran will win comes from simply asking american and israeli war experts to go on cnn or the washington post on how they intend to win a war with iran.

Im sure these expert bloviators will say that it is as easy as winning a naval war against china, which is capable of launching only 3 new warships in a week. Or an even easier time against russia, which can launch only a few thousand hypersonic nuke missiles because its GDP is no bigger than that of texas.

Rob Naardin 2 days ago

The Pentagon is super slow to adapt and learn. If you understand that bureaucracy is an ancient organizational structure and that the organizational culture of the Pentagon is pathologically dysfunctional you could have predicted the moral and financial bankruptcy of America 15-20 years ago. The "Why?", finally made sense when I discovered what a sociopath was.

It's about time the US practices what it preachs and start behaving like a normal country instead of a spoiled narcissistic brat. see more

tic_Fox Rob Naardin2 days ago • edited

US military & strategic thought became lazy during the late days of the Cold War. It mirrored the decline & fall of the foundations of its opponent, USSR. Post-Cold War, US military & strategic thinking flushed into the sewer. It was all about maintaining the military as some sort of a social policy jobs program, operating legacy tech as the mission. And then came the "world-improvers" -- beginning w the Clinton Admin -- who worked to turn the world into a global "urban renewal" project; meaning to mirror the success US Big Govt showed in the slums of American cities from sea to sea. The past 30 yrs of US strategic thinking and related governance truly disgusts me. see more

Vasya Pypkin Arctic_Fox2 days ago

Soviet union fall had very different reasons and Soviet military thought was doing quite well then along with military. Current russian military wonders is completion of what was started then and not finished earlier because of the disintegration of the Soviet state.
The soviet fall however is extremely regrettable because there was a new way how things can be done that Soviet union was showing to the world. USA fall long term is a very good thing because USA is a paragon of how things should be done the old way and basically a huge parasite. Many negative trends that are afflicting the world were started by USA. Unlimited individualism and consumerism would be a couple of those. see more

Drapetomania Vasya Pypkin17 hours ago
Why does almost every person on Earth feel the need to force others to bend the knee to their beliefs?

Religious beliefs are what one thinks should be done to promote survival in an afterlife, political beliefs are what one thinks should be done to promote survival in this world.

The world would be a far better, more civilized, of world if such beliefs were only shared on a voluntary basis.

As for individualism, I would rather be free than live in a modern day egalitarian hunter-gatherer tribe run by modern day psychopathic alpha-males.

That is certainly not a recipe for success. see more

AriusArmenian Arctic_Fox2 days ago

It also mirrors the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. It was Emperor Augustus that decided the costs to further expand the Empire were too great after losing one (or two?) legions against the Germanic tribes.

The US has reached its greatest extent. We are living through it. The US didn't go forward into war with Iran twice. The odds of humanity surviving this immense turn of history is looking better. see more

Vasya Pypkin AriusArmenian2 days ago • edited

Frankly, nothing in common. I read this comparison all the time. Yes, Augustus decided not to continue along with expansion into Germany after losing 3 Varus legions due to ambush.

But he famously noted that it does not worth to go fishing with golden hook. Basically speaking, Germany was not worth fighting for. Poor and remote it had nothing to offer. Just a drain on resources. As long as conquest was moving smoothly it was ok, but after losses were inflicted Augustus decided it was not worth it.

Roman expansion under augustus was carried mostly to consolidate previous conquests and create strategical debth along core and strategical provinces also creating linkage.

When enemy far stronger than germans posed resources which made the whole conquest worthy no amount of resistance saved Dacians and Parthia also almost died under Trajan attack.

Roman policies were adequate and wise. Treaties were respected, allies supported and benefited. Empire was build around Mediterranean creating good communication and routes considering obviously limits of that day technology.

Rome did not behave like crazy and did not deliver threats that she could not follow through. When war was decided upon thorough preparations were taken. Political goals were achieved. Wars were won. When Adrian considered that empire was overextended in Parthis, he simply abandoned all conquered territories. Just like that.

Logical calm thinking USA,is not capable of. Rome truly based upon superior military and diplomacy dominance lasted many centuries. USA few decades. One hit wonder, lucky fool I would call it. see more

Arctic_Fox Vasya Pypkin17 hours ago

Interesting account of Roman strategic concept of forward presence, versus administering the internal lines of communication... see more

WHAT2 days ago

They left equipment in the open on that base and ran away. No AA fire whatsoever. This is how much they are ready to take a punch. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod WHAT2 days ago

Yes, this is somewhat puzzling. As I said, let's wait and see where it all develops to, but as Twisted Genius succinctly observed -- Iran now controls tempo because she has conventional superiority. Anyone who has precision-guided, stand off weaponry in good numbers will be on top. see more

Arctic_Fox smoothieX12 .2 days ago

The old submarine saying is, "There are two kinds of ships; submarines, and targets."
.
The new version for land ops is, "There are two kinds of land-based military assets; precision-guided missiles, and targets." (And per the photos, those Iranian missiles were quite precise; bulls-eyes.)
.
Iran and its missiles demonstrated that the entire strategic foundation for US mil presence in the Middle East is now obsolete. Everything the US would ever want to do there is now subject to Iran's version of "steel rain." Every runway, hangar, aircraft parking area; every supply depot or warehouse; every loading pier, fuel site, naval pier. Everything... is a target. And really... there's no amount of US "airpower" and "tech" than can mitigate the Iran missile threat.
.
Meanwhile, related thinking... Iran's true strategic interest is NOT fighting a near-term war w/ USA. Iran wants US to exit Middle East; and Iran wants to be able to pursue its nuclear program. Soleimani or no, Iran appears to have its eyeballs fixed on the long-term goals. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod Arctic_Fox2 days ago • edited
The new version for land ops is, "There are two kinds of land-based military assets; precision-guided missiles, and targets."

Exactly, and Iran has long-range TLAMs in who knows what numbers, That, in its turn, brings about the next issue of range for Iranian indigenous anti-ship missiles. Not, of course, to mention the fact of only select people knowing if Russia transferred P-800 Onyx to Iran She certainly did it for Syria. If that weapon is there--the Persian Gulf and Hormuz Strait will be shut completely closed and will push out CBGs far into the Indian Ocean. see more

Vasya Pypkin smoothieX12 .a day ago

It is simply pathetic after decades of talking non stop about developments of anti missiles and huge amounts wasted and nobody is responsible. This is the way capitalism works.profits is everything and outcomes secondary. Thankfully russia has got soviet foundation and things so far are working well. I come to think that in our times no serious industrial processes should be allowed to stay in private hands. Only services and so.e other simpler stuff under heavy state control to ensure quality. Otherwise profit orientation will eventually destroy everything like with Boeing.

Drapetomania Vasya Pypkin16 hours ago observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago • edited

I know, i already wrote a full scale war scenario in one of the comments. Iran can destroy all US bases in 2000 km range. But this does not mean that it can not be bombed back to the stone age, if the US really wishes so. The problem for the US is the high cost as well as the high debt levels, but it does have the technical capability to do that after 2 - 3 years of bombing.

Also low yield tactical nukes are designed to lower the treshold of the use of nukes in otherwise conventional war, producing less international outrage than the megaton city buster bombs. Why do you think the US is developing them again? Because they would want to use them in conventional conflicts.

Here btw is Yurasumy, he also says that the US can technically bomb Iran back to the stone age, but the cost will be too high.

Play Hide

https://cdn.embedly.com/

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago • edited
if the US really wishes so.

Again--what's the plan and what's the price? Iran HAS Russia's ISR on her side in case of such SEAD.

Does the United States want to risk lives of thousands of its personnel (not to speak of expensive equipment) in Qatar, KSA, Iraq. Does Israel want to "get it"?

There are numbers which describe such an operation (it was. most likely, already planned as contingency). Immediate question: when was the last time USAF operated in REAL dense ECM and ECCM environment? I do not count some brushes with minimal EW in Syria.

Russia there uses only minimally required option, for now. Iran has a truck load EW systems, including some funny Russian toys which allowed Iran to take control of US UAVs, as an example. As I say, this is not Iraq and by a gigantic margin. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago • edited

I already said that debt levels do not allow it and the price would be too high, but yes, the US does have the military capability to destroy Iran. By conventional means. It is another question that it is not in good fiscal shape. Anyway, US ballistic missiles (non nuclear armed) will be hard to stop by EW. Even if Iran gets rid of 50 % of incoming TLAMs, the US will keep sending more and more until most infrastructure, bridges, oil refineries, power plants, factories, ports etc. are destroyed. This is why i said it would take 2 - 3 years. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago
but yes, the US does have the military capability to destroy Iran. By conventional means

That is the whole point: NO, it doesn't. Unless US goes into full mobilization mode and addresses ALL (plus a million more not listed) requirements for such a war which I listed in the post. Well, that or nukes. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago

Yurasumy is a pretty good analist and he thinks that they can. I do not see it for the US being too hard to produce more TLAMS, ICBMs and IRBMs (conventional) to sustain the effort for 2 years, by that time most iranian infrastructure will be destroyed. If the fiscal situation allowes it. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago

I don't know who Yarasumy is and what is his background, but unlike him I actually write books, including on modern warfare. This is not to show off, but I am sure I can make basic calculations. This is not to mention the fact that even Sivkov agrees with my points and Sivkov, unlike Yarsumy, graduated Popov's VVMURE, served at subs, then graduated Kuznetsov Academy, then Academy of the General Staff and served in Main Operational Directorate (GOU) until retiring in the rank of Captain 1st Rank from the billet of Combat Planning group. So, I would rather stick to my opinion. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago

Why do you think that the US can not destroy Iran with IRBMs? Actually this is their strategy vs China. If they think its viable vs China, then it should be viable vs Iran too. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago • edited

Because unlike the US, Russia's Air Defenses have a rather very impressive history of shifting the balance in wars in favor of those who have them, when used properly. But then I can quote for you a high ranking intelligence officer:

A friend of mine who has expertise in these matters wrote me:

Any air defense engineer with a securityclearance that isn't lying through his teeth will admit that Russia'sair defense technology surpassed us in the 1950's and we've never been able to catch up. The systems thy have in place surrounding Moscow make our Patriot 3's look like fucking nerf guns.

Read the whole thing here:

https://turcopolier.typepad...

Mathematics is NOT there for the United States for a real combined operations war of scale with Iran. Unless US political class really wants to see people with pitch-forks. see more

Arctic_Fox smoothieX12 .17 hours ago

"Mathematics is not there..."
.
Neither is the industrial base, including supply lines. Not the mines, mills, factories to produce any significant levels of warfighting materiel such as we're talking about here. Not the workforce, either. Meanwhile, where are the basic designs for these weps? The years of lab work, bench tests, pilot specimens & prototypes, the development pipeline? The contractors to build them? the Tier 2, 3, 4 suppliers? Where are the universities that train such people as are needed? Where is the political will? Where is the government coordination? Where is the money? Indeed, every Democrat and probably half the Republicans who run for office campaign on controlling military spending; not that USA gets all that much benefit from the current $800 billion per year. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago • edited

That would require S-500 - ballistic missile defense. Maybe 15 - 20 S-500 in Iran will be needed. And it is not yet in the army. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago

You see, here is the difference--I can calculate approximate required force for that but I don't want to. It is Friday. You can get some basic intro into operational theory (and even into Salvo Equations) in my latest book. Granted, my publisher fought me tooth and nail to remove as much match as possible. But I'll give you a hint--appearance of S-500 on any theater of operations effectively closes it off effectively for any missile or aircraft operations when deployed in echeloned (multi-layer) AD. see more

[Jan 11, 2020] Ex-Trump official calls BS on Pompeo's claim that Suleimani killing makes the world 'safer' Raw Story

Jan 11, 2020 | www.rawstory.com

me name=

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday claimed that the killing of Iranian military leader Qassim Suleimani had made the world "safer" -- even though the actions of Pompeo's own State Department directly contradict his words.

David Lapan, who served as the spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security under President Donald Trump , shredded Pompeo for his rosy assessment of the Suleimani killing even as the State Department frantically works to evacuate Americans from Iraq in anticipation of expected retaliation from Iran.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The State Dept alert sends a much different message than this one from the leader of the State Dept, Secretary Pompeo: 'The world is a much safer place today. I can assure you that Americans in the region are much safer,'" he writes on Twitter. "Which is it? (Answer: more dangerous, not less)."

The State Department on Friday advised Americans in Iraq to depart the country immediately, and even went so far as to suggest they travel to neighboring countries by land if they could not secure passage out of Iraq through airlines. The State Department also advised Americans in the country to not approach the American embassy in Iraq.

The State Dept alert below sends a much different message than this one from the leader of the State Dept, Secretary Pompeo: "The world is a much safer place today. I can assure you that Americans in the region are much safer."

Which is it? (Answer: more dangerous, not less) https://t.co/bw7Py2y5WH

-- David Lapan (@DaveLapanDC) January 3, 2020

[Jan 11, 2020] The War Pigs Are Finally Revealing Themselves - And This Is Just The Beginning

Jan 11, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Yes the war pigs like Esper, Miller, and Pompous deliberately tried to drag Trump into war with Iran! But noticed how it turned out!

by Tyler Durden Fri, 01/10/2020 - 23:45 0 SHARES

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

In 2016 during the election campaign of Donald Trump one of the primary factors of his popularity among conservatives was that he was one of the first candidates since Ron Paul to argue for bringing US troops home and ending American involvement in the various elitist fabricated wars in the Middle East . From Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Syria and Yemen and beyond, the Neo-Cons and Neo-Libs at the behest of their globalist masters had been waging war oversees unabated for over 15 years. The time was ripe for a change and people felt certain that if Hillary Clinton entered the White House, another 4-8 years of war were guaranteed.

There was nothing to be gained from these wars. They were only dragging the US down socially and economically , and even the idea of "getting the oil" had turned into a farce as the majority of Iraqi oil has been going to China, not the US. General estimates on the costs of the wars stand at $5 trillion US tax dollars and over 4500 American dead along with around 40,000 wounded. The only people that were benefiting from the situation were globalists and banking elites, who had been clamoring to destabilize the Middle East since the day they launched their "Project For A New American Century" (PNAC). Truly, all wars are banker wars.

The Obama Administration's attempts to lure Americans into supporting open war with the Assad regime in Syria had failed. Consistent attempts by George W. Bush and Obama to increase tensions with Iran had fizzled. Americans were showing signs of fatigue, FINALLY fed up with the lies being constructed to trick them into being complicit in the banker wars. Trump was a breath of fresh air...but of course, like all other puppets of the globalists, his promises were empty.

In my article 'Clinton vs. Trump And The Co-Option Of The Liberty Movement' , published before the 2016 election, I warned that Trump's rhetoric might be a grand show , and that it could be scripted by the establishment to bring conservatives back into the Republican/Neo-Con fold. At the time, leftist media outlet Bloomberg openly reveled in the idea that Trump might absorb and destroy the "Tea Party" and liberty movement and turn them into something far more manageable. The question was whether or not the liberty movement would buy into Trump completely, or remain skeptical.

Initially, I do not think the movement held onto its objectivity at all. Far too many people bought into Trump blindly and immediately based on misguided hopes and a desire to "win" against the leftists. The insane cultism of the political left didn't help matters much, either.

When Trump started saturating his cabinet with banking elites and globalists from the CFR the moment he entered office, I knew without any doubt that he was a fraud. Close associations with establishment swamp creatures was something he had consistently criticized Clinton and other politicians for during the campaign, but Trump was no better or different than Clinton; he was just an errand boy for the elites. The singular difference was that his rhetoric was designed to appeal directly to liberty minded conservatives.

This meant that it was only a matter of time before Trump broke most of his campaign promises, including his assertions that he would bring US troops home. Eventually, the mask had to come off if Trump was going to continue carrying out the agenda of his masters.

Today, the mask has indeed come off. For the past three years Trump has made announcements of an imminent pull back of troops in the Middle East, including the recent claim that troops would be leaving Syria. All of the announcements were followed by an INCREASE in US troop presence in the region. Consistent attempts have been made to foment renewed strife with Iran. The build-up to war has been obvious, but some people on the Trump train still didn't get it.

The most common argument I heard when pointing out all the inconsistencies in Trump's claims as well as his direct links to globalists was that "He hadn't started any wars, so how could he be a globalist puppet...?" My response has always been "Give it a little time, and he will."

One of my readers noted recently that "Trump Derangement Syndrome" (TDS) actually goes both ways. Leftists double down on their hatred of Trump at every opportunity, but Trump cultists double down on their support for Trump regardless of how many promises he breaks. This has always been my biggest concern – That conservatives in the liberty movement would ultimately abandon their principles of limited government, the end to banking elites in the White House and ending illegal wars because they had invested themselves so completely in the Trump farce that they would be too embarrassed to admit they had been conned.

Another concern is that the liberty movement would be infected by an influx of people who are neo-conservative statists at their core. These people pretend to be liberty minded conservatives, but when the veil is lifted they show their true colors as the War Pigs they really are. A distinction has to be made between Bush era Neo-Con control freaks and constitutional conservatives; there are few if any similarities between the two groups, but the establishment hopes that the former will devour the latter.

I've noticed that the War Pigs are out in force this past week, beating their chests a calling for more blood. The US government has assassinated Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, retaliations against US targets have begun, and now the Iraqi government has demanded that US troops be removed from the region, to which Trump has said "no" and demanded payment instead. A new troop surge has been initiated and this WILL end in all out war. The tit-for-tat has just begun.

How do Trump cultists respond? "Kill those terrorists!"

Yes, many of the same people that applauded Trump's supposed opposition to the wars three years ago are now fanatically cheering for the beginning of perhaps the most destructive war of all. The rationalizations for this abound. Soleimani was planning attacks on US targets in Iraq, they say. And, this might be true, though no hard proof has yet been presented.

I'm reminded of the Bush era claims of Iraqi "Weapons of Mass Destruction", the weapons that were never found and no proof was found that they ever existed. The only weapons Iraq had were the weapons the US sold to them decades ago. Any government can fabricate an excuse for assassination or war for public consumption; the Trump Administration is no different.

That said, I think the most important factor in this debate has fallen by the wayside. The bottom line is, US troops and US bases should NOT be in Iraq in the first place. Trump himself stated this time and time again . Even if Soleimani was behind the attacks and riots in Iraq, US assets cannot be attacked in the region if they are REMOVED from the region as Trump said he would do.

There is only one reason to keep US assets in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria at this time, and that is to create ongoing tensions in the area which can be used by the establishment to trigger a new war, specifically with Iran.

The War Pigs always have reasons and rationales, though.

They say the Muslim world is a threat to our way of life, and I agree that their ideology is completely incompatible with Western values. That said, the solution is not sending young Americans to die overseas in wars based on lies. Again, these wars only benefit the bankers and globalists; they do not make us safer as a people. The only moral solution is to make sure the fascist elements of Muslim extremism are not imported to our shores.

The War Pigs say that we deserve payment for our "services rendered" in the region before we leave, echoing the sentiments of Donald Trump. I ask, what services? Payment for what? The invasion the Iraqi's didn't want, based on fallacies that have been publicly exposed? The US bases that should not be there in the first place? The hundreds of thousands dead from a war that had no purpose except to deliberately destabilize the region?

We will never get "payment" from the Iraqis as compensation for these mad endeavors, and the War Pigs know this. They want war. They want it to go on forever. They want to attach their egos to the event. They want to claim glory for themselves vicariously when we win, and they want to claim victimhood for themselves vicariously when our soldiers or citizens get killed. They are losers that can only be winners through the sacrifices of others.

The War Pigs defend the notion that the president should be allowed to make war unilaterally without support from congress. They say that this type of action is legal, and technically they are right. It is "legal" because the checks and balances of war were removed under the Bush and Obama Administrations. The passage of the AUMF (Authorization For Use Of Military Force) in 2001 gave the Executive Branch dictatorial powers to initiate war on a whim without oversight. Just because it is "legal" does not mean it is constitutional, or right.

In the end, the Trump bandwagon is meant to accomplish many things for the globalists; the main goal though is that it is designed to change liberty conservatives into rabid statists. It is designed to make anti-war pro-constitution activists into war mongers and supporters of big government, as long as it is big government under "our control". But it's not under our control. Trump is NOT our guy. He is an agent of the establishment and always has been.

For now, the saber rattling is aggressive but the actions have been limited, but this will not be the case for long. Some may ask why the establishment has not simply launched all out war now? Why start out small? Firstly, they need conservatives psychologically invested in the idea. This may require a false flag event or attack on American civilians. Secondly, they need to execute an extensive troop build-up, which could take a few months. Declarations of a "need for peace" are always used to stall for time while the elites position for war.

War with Iran is pointless, and frankly, unwinnable, and the elites know this. It's not just a war with Iran, it is a war with Iran, their allies, and every other nation that reacts negatively to our actions. And, these nations do not have to react militarily, they can react economically by dumping US treasuries and the dollar as world reserve.

The establishment wants the US embroiled in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, etc. until we are so hollowed out from conflict that we collapse.

They also need a considerable distraction to hide their responsibility for the implosion of the Everything Bubble and the economic pain that will come with it. The end game for the establishment is for America to self destruct, so that it can be rebuilt into something unrecognizable and eternally monstrous. They want every vestige of our original principles to be erased, and to do that, they need us to be complicit in our own destruction.

They need us to participate. Don't participate, and refuse to support new banker wars. Don't be a War Pig.

* * *

If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch . Learn more about it HERE .


LEEPERMAX , 17 minutes ago link

ELIMINATING QASEM SOLEIMANI WAS DONALD TRUMP'S MIDDLE EAST FAREWELL LETTER

"The elimination of Soleimani was not a prelude to deeper US involvement in the Middle East. It was a farewell letter"

Sanity Bear , 20 minutes ago link

Brandon's prescription needs a refill... fast.

freeculture , 36 minutes ago link

Trumpino is MIGA all the way to the bank.

VZ58 , 31 minutes ago link

Like all before him in the last seventy odd years...some Americans are finally beginning to understand this...

Helg Saracen , 55 minutes ago link

The main problem of the United States in the existing political and economic system, which began to be intensively created by the American banking layer since 1885 and was fixed in 1913. This became possible only thanks to the Civil War of 1861-1865. I will explain. Before the Civil War, each state had its own banking structure, its own banknotes (there were not so many states, there were still territories that did not become states yet). Before the American Civil War, there was no single banking system. Abraham Linkol was a protege of the banking houses of the cities of New York and Chicago, they rigged the election (bought the election). It may sound rude to the Americans, but Lincoln was a rogue in the eyes of some US citizens of that time. And this became the main reason for the desire of some states (not only southern, and some northern) to withdraw from the United States. Another good reason for the exit was the persistent attempts of bankers in New York and Chicago to take control of the banking system of the South. These are two main reasons, as old as the World, the struggle for control and money. The war (unfortunately) began the South. Under a federal treaty, South and North were supposed to jointly contain US forts for protection. The fighting began on April 12, 1861 with an attack by southerners on such a fort Sumter in Charleston Bay. These are the beginnings of war.

This is important - I advise everyone to read the memoirs of generals, and especially the memoirs of Ulysses Grant, the future president of the United States. The war was with varying success, but the emissaries of the banks of New York and Chicago always followed the army of the North, who, taking advantage of the disastrous situation in the battlefields, bought up real estate, land and other assets. They were called the "Carpetbagger". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpetbagger They were engaged in the purchase throughout the war and up to 1885.

To make it clear to you, in the history of the USA, the period from 1865 to 1885 is called the "Great American Depression" (this is the very first great depression and lasted 20 years). During this time, the bankers of New York and Chicago completely subjugated the US banking system to themselves and their interests, trampled the South (robbed), after which the submission of the US as a state directly to the banking mafia began. At present (since 1913) in the USA there is not capitalism, but an evil parody of capitalism.

I can call it this: American clan-corporate oligarchic "capitalism" (with the suppression of free markets, with unfair competition and the creation of barriers to the dissemination of reliable information). Since such "capitalism" cannot work (like socialism or utopian communism), constant wars are needed that bring profit to the bankers, owners of the military-industrial complex, political "service staff", make oligarchs richer, and ordinary Americans poorer. We are now observing this, since this system has come to its end and everything has become obvious.

For example, in the early 80s, the middle class of the United States was approximately 70% of the population employed in production and trade, now it is no more than 15%.

The gap between the oligarchs and ordinary Americans widened. My essay is how I see what is happening in the USA and why I do not like it. It's my personal opinion. In the end, my favorite phrase is that Americans are suckers and boobies (but we still love them). Good luck everyone.

rbianco3 , 1 hour ago link

No longer a concern, a reality

Another concern is that the liberty movement would be infected by an influx of people who are neo-conservative statists at their core. These people pretend to be liberty minded conservatives, but when the veil is lifted they show their true colors as the War Pigs they really are.

ExposeThem511 , 56 minutes ago link

Trotskyites.

The Vineyard 21 - 33-43 , 1 hour ago link

Prophetically speaking, Trump is a sign that the end game of the grand plan of the current age is swiftly coming to an end.

Benito_Camela , 1 hour ago link

What does Frank the Skank (ostensibly an American taxpayer, but more likely an Israeli dual "loyalty" traitor) have to say about this?

We will never get "payment" from the Iraqis as compensation for these mad endeavors, and the War Pigs know this. They want war. They want it to go on forever. They want to attach their egos to the event. They want to claim glory for themselves vicariously when we win, and they want to claim victimhood for themselves vicariously when our soldiers or citizens get killed. They are losers that can only be winners through the sacrifices of others.

The War Pigs defend the notion that the president should be allowed to make war unilaterally without support from congress. They say that this type of action is legal, and technically they are right. It is "legal" because the checks and balances of war were removed under the Bush and Obama Administrations. The passage of the AUMF (Authorization For Use Of Military Force) in 2001 gave the Executive Branch dictatorial powers to initiate war on a whim without oversight. Just because it is "legal" does not mean it is constitutional, or right.

[Jan 11, 2020] Big Money in Politics Doesn't Just Drive Inequality. It Drives War. - FPIF

Notable quotes:
"... Citizens United ..."
Jan 11, 2020 | fpif.org

Big Money in Politics Doesn't Just Drive Inequality. It Drives War.

Military contractors have shelled out over $1 million to the 2016 presidential candidates -- including over $200,000 to Hillary Clinton alone.

By Rebecca Green , April 27, 2016 . Originally published in OtherWords .

Print Friendly, PDF & EmailPrint Military-Industrial Diagnosis

Khalil Bendib / OtherWords.org

The 2016 presidential elections are proving historic, and not just because of the surprising success of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders, the lively debate among feminists over whether to support Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump's unorthodox candidacy.

The elections are also groundbreaking because they're revealing more dramatically than ever the corrosive effect of big money on our decaying democracy.

Following the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision and related rulings, corporations and the wealthiest Americans gained the legal right to raise and spend as much money as they want on political candidates.

The 2012 elections were consequently the most expensive in U.S. history. And this year's races are predicted to cost even more. With the general election still six months away, donors have already sunk $1 billion into the presidential race -- with $619 million raised by candidates and another $412 million by super PACs.

Big money in politics drives grave inequality in our country. It also drives war.

After all, war is a profitable industry. While millions of people all over the world are being killed and traumatized by violence, a small few make a killing from the never-ending war machine.

During the Iraq War, for example, weapons manufacturers and a cadre of other corporations made billions on federal contracts.

Most notoriously this included Halliburton, a military contractor previously led by Dick Cheney. The company made huge profits from George W. Bush's decision to wage a costly, unjustified, and illegal war while Cheney served as his vice president.

Military-industrial corporations spend heavily on political campaigns. They've given over $1 million to this year's presidential candidates so far -- over $200,000 of which went to Hillary Clinton, who leads the pack in industry backing.

These corporations target House and Senate members who sit on the Armed Forces and Appropriations Committees, who control the purse strings for key defense line items. And cleverly, they've planted factories in most congressional districts. Even if they provide just a few dozen constituent jobs per district, that helps curry favor with each member of Congress.

Thanks to aggressive lobbying efforts, weapons manufacturers have secured the five largest contracts made by the federal government over the last seven years. In 2014, the U.S. government awarded over $90 billion worth of contracts to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman.

Military spending has been one of the top three biggest federal programs every year since 2000, and it's far and away the largest discretionary portion. Year after year, elected officials spend several times more on the military than on education, energy, and the environment combined.

Lockheed Martin's problematic F-35 jet illustrates this disturbingly disproportionate use of funds. The same $1.5 trillion Washington will spend on the jet, journalist Tom Cahill calculates , could have provided tuition-free public higher education for every student in the U.S. for the next 23 years. Instead, the Pentagon ordered a fighter plane that can't even fire its own gun yet.

Given all of this, how can anyone justify war spending?

Some folks will say it's to make us safer . Yet the aggressive U.S. military response following the 9/11 attacks -- the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the NATO bombing of Libya, and drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen -- has only destabilized the region. "Regime change" foreign policies have collapsed governments and opened the doors to Islamist terrorist groups like ISIS.

Others may say they support a robust Pentagon budget because of the jobs the military creates . But dollar for dollar, education spending creates nearly three times more jobs than military spending.

We need to stop letting politicians and corporations treat violence and death as "business opportunities." Until politics become about people instead of profits, we'll remain crushed in the death grip of the war machine.

And that is the real national security threat facing the United States today. Share this:

[Jan 11, 2020] Meet the CEOs Raking It in from Trump's Aggression Toward Iran - FPIF

Notable quotes:
"... Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-edits the IPS publication Inequality.org. Follow her at @SarahDAnderson1. ..."
Jan 11, 2020 | fpif.org

Meet the CEOs Raking It in from Trump's Aggression Toward Iran

Major military contractors saw a stock surge from the U.S. assassination of an Iranian general. For CEOs, that means payday comes early.

By Sarah Anderson , January 6, 2020 . Originally published in Inequality.org .

Print Friendly, PDF & EmailPrint military-industrial-complex-arms-contractors

Chris Devers / Flickr

CEOs of major U.S. military contractors stand to reap huge windfalls from the escalation of conflict with Iran. This was evident in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. assassination of a top Iranian military official last week. As soon as the news reached financial markets, these companies' share prices spiked, inflating the value of their executives' stock-based pay.

I took a look at how the CEOs at the top five Pentagon contractors were affected by this surge, using the most recent SEC information on their stock holdings.

Northrop Grumman executives saw the biggest increase in the value of their stocks after the U.S. airstrike that killed Qasem Suleimani on January 2. Shares in the B-2 bomber maker rose 5.43 percent by the end of trading the following day.

Wesley Bush, who turned Northrop Grumman's reins over to Kathy Warden last year, held 251,947 shares of company stock in various trusts as of his final SEC Form 4 filing in May 2019. (Companies must submit these reports when top executives and directors buy and sell company stock.) Assuming Bush is still sitting on that stockpile, he saw the value grow by $4.9 million to a total of $94.5 million last Friday.

New Northrop Grumman CEO Warden saw the 92,894 shares she'd accumulated as the firm's COO expand in value by more than $2.7 million in just one day of post-assassination trading.

Lockheed Martin, whose Hellfire missiles were reportedly used in the attack at the Baghdad airport, saw a 3.6 percent increase in price per share on January 3. Marillyn Hewson, CEO of the world's largest weapon maker, may be kicking herself for selling off a considerable chunk of stock last year when it was trading at around $307. Nevertheless, by the time Lockheed shares reached $413 at the closing bell, her remaining stash had increased in value by about $646,000.

What about the manufacturer of the MQ-9 Reaper that carried the Hellfire missiles? That would be General Atomics. Despite raking in $2.8 billion in taxpayer-funded contracts in 2018, the drone maker is not required to disclose executive compensation information because it is a privately held corporation.

We do know General Atomics CEO Neal Blue is worth an estimated $4.1 billion -- and he's a major investor in oil production, a sector that also stands to profit from conflict with a major oil-producing country like Iran.

*Resigned 12/22/19. **Resigned 1/1/19 while staying on as chairman until 7/19. New CEO Kathy Warden accumulated 92,894 shares in her previous position as Northrop Grumman COO.

Suleimani's killing also inflated the value of General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic's fortune. As the weapon maker's share price rose about 1 percentage point on January 3, the former CIA official saw her stock holdings increase by more than $1.2 million.

Raytheon CEO Thomas Kennedy saw a single-day increase in his stock of more than half a million dollars, as the missile and bomb manufacturer's share price increased nearly 1.5 percent. Boeing stock remained flat on Friday. But Dennis Muilenberg, recently ousted as CEO over the 737 aircraft scandal, appears to be well-positioned to benefit from any continued upward drift of the defense sector.

As of his final Form 4 report, Muilenburg was sitting on stock worth about $47.7 million. In his yet to be finalized exit package, the disgraced former executive could also pocket huge sums of currently unvested stock grants.

Hopefully sanity will soon prevail and the terrifyingly high tensions between the Trump administration and Iran will de-escalate. But even if the military stock surge of this past Friday turns out to be a market blip, it's a sobering reminder of who stands to gain the most from a war that could put millions of lives at risk.

We can put an end to dangerous war profiteering by denying federal contracts to corporations that pay their top executives excessively. In 2008, John McCain, then a Republican presidential candidate, proposed capping CEO pay at companies receiving taxpayer bailouts at no more than $400,000 (the salary of the U.S. president). That notion should be extended to companies that receive massive taxpayer-funded contracts.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, for instance, has a plan to deny federal contracts to companies that pay CEOs more than 150 times what their typical worker makes.

As long as we allow the top executives of our privatized war economy to reap unlimited rewards, the profit motive for war in Iran -- or anywhere -- will persist. Share this:

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-edits the IPS publication Inequality.org. Follow her at @SarahDAnderson1.

[Jan 10, 2020] America Has a Samson Problem by Andrew J. Bacevich

Jan 10, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Critics of the Soleimani assassination point out that it was an action devoid of strategic purpose. They are correct to do so. Yet let's not blame Donald Trump and his ever-changing cast of senior advisers for having strayed off the path of good sense. The United States lost its way decades ago when members of the policy elite succumbed to an infatuation with military power and thereby lost their strategic bearings.

The current crisis with Iran brings into focus something that ought to have long ago attracted attention: t his country has a Samson problem. The United States has become a 21st-century equivalent of the tragic figure from the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible: strong, vain, and doomed (although we must hope our nation does not share Samson's ultimate fate).

Most people are familiar with at least the outlines of the biblical Samson story: a mighty warrior who slays the enemies of the Israelites in great numbers using the jawbone of an ass among other weapons. Sadly, after the captivating Delilah seduces Samson into revealing the secret of his extraordinary strength -- his unshorn hair -- he ends up blind, in chains, and held captive in the temple of the Philistines. Samson asks the Lord to restore his strength. The King James Bible explains what happens next: "And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life." It was a huge bloodletting, and among the victims was the hero himself.

It's a dramatic story, made for the movies. The 1949 Technicolor version, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr, remains a camp classic of the sandal-and-togas genre. But whether in the original text or on celluloid, the denouement does not qualify as a happy one. Samson was a fool and his own worst enemy. Something of the same can be said of the United States in recent decades.

As the recently concluded war scare with Iran was unfolding, for example, President Trump took it upon himself to assure his nervous fellow citizens as to the matchless strength of America's armed forces. "So far, so good!" he tweeted, more than slightly prematurely. "We have the most powerful and well-equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!"

I confess that it's those exclamation points that leave me most uneasy. They suggest a manic personality oblivious to the seriousness of the moment. Can you imagine Kennedy in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis releasing a comparable statement?

Although not without his faults, Kennedy understood how quickly a position of apparent strength can dissipate. Our current commander-in-chief possesses no such appreciation. Trump's confidence in the U.S. military, expressed with his trademark bluster and bravado, seemingly knows no bounds. And although on this occasion the president and his counterparts in Tehran found a way to avoid pulling down the temple on all of us, his performance did not inspire confidence. We must hope that in the future he's confronted with few comparable crises. There's no saying when his luck (and ours) might run out.

Yet we should not lose sight of the fact that the assassination of General Soleimani was only the most recent in a long series of actions in which confidence in America's military has underwritten rash decisions devoid of strategic common sense. Post-Cold War Washington specializes in rashness. Indeed, in comparison with George W. Bush, who ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and Barack Obama, who greenlighted the overthrow of Libya's Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, Trump comes across as a small-stakes gambler.

The larger problem to which Trump calls our attention is the militarism that pervades the American political class -- the conviction that accumulating and putting to use military power expresses the essence of so-called American global leadership. That notion is dead wrong and has been the source of endless mischief.

Congress is considering measures that will constrain Trump from any further use of force targeting Iran, hoping thereby to avoid an all-out war. This is all to the good. But the larger requirement is for our political establishment generally to wean itself off of its infatuation with military power. Only then can we restore a measure of self-restraint to America's national security policy.

Andrew Bacevich is president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His new book, The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory , is just out.


JLF 8 hours ago

We start in a considerable hole. Last year (September 12) Forbes reported a survey of 60,000 Europeans in 14 countries and found only 4% trust Trump. "Our polling confirms that Trump is toxic in Europe, and that this is feeding into distrust of the U.S. Security Guarantee," https://www.forbes.com/site...

Apparently they aren't so impressed by our massive military might . . . or at least they are not impressed by those who wield our massive military might.

Palichamp 8 hours ago
The US military isn't solving world problems, it's CAUSING world problems, primarily for Israel's Balkanizing Oded Yinon Plan and for the neoconJew's PNAC global agenda.
Fran Macadam 7 hours ago
The Full Spectrum Dominance policy posits that America can never be secure until all potential rivals are made subservient. What is the character of a nation that demands submission from the entire world, that all are to be vassals and satrapies?
MPC 7 hours ago
If Trump really did think that there was some Art of the Deal logic in this, kill Soleimani, let Iran have a symbolic retaliation, then back down and deal, I can respect that, but I want to see a deal. Obama got a deal, not a perfect one, but respectable considering we don't have long term interests in the Middle East anyways. Without a deal he just furthered the risk of neocons getting to push the fire button and commit us unprofitably once more, and pushed Iran further into the arms of China.

On the other hand his threatening to attack Iranian cultural sites was inappropriate and unwise and creating long term problems with no short term gain. It rhymes with some of his domestic issues too - tribalizing people does not make for a deal-making environment.

JohnnLisa Broom 6 hours ago
Shades of the 1993 Essay in Parameters "The Origins of the Military Coup of 2012. When the only tool in in your kitbag that works at all is a hammer, every problem is a nail. That might be okay if we had a small tack hammer, but for some reason all we have is a 700 Billion Dollar 20 lb sledge. https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=586
Frank Natoli 4 hours ago
the assassination of General Soleimani was only the most recent in a long series of actions in which confidence in America's military has underwritten rash decisions devoid of strategic common sense
Ah, strategic common sense.
So Bacevich doesn't need to bother with tactical common sense.
Got it.
Christopher Rice Frank Natoli 3 hours ago
As a respected authority on both strategy and tactics once suggested: "strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." Strategy is fundamentally more important than tactics. Perhaps we could be a bit less dismissive?
MPC Frank Natoli 3 hours ago
The US has had a lot of tactical common sense in Afghanistan.
Gutbomb 3 hours ago
"Congress is considering measures that will constrain Trump from any further use of force targeting Iran, hoping thereby to avoid an all-out war."

I'm always baffled when I hear about new attempts by Congress to limit the president's unilateral use of force, as if they have chosen to ignore that the Constitution itself already explicitly forbids it.

Donna 3 hours ago • edited
Is "national security" really the goal of the US military, or is "multinational corporation security" the real reason the US has thousands of military bases around the world? The US taxpayer foots the security bill for the same corporations that buy all of our national elections. But you have to admit, it's a well-played scam: the CIA stirs up internal chaos in a country, and the US military then completes the destabilization program by bombing it into submission or terminal chaos.
Donna 2 hours ago
Which begs the question, "Why is it, that the Terrorists always live on the resources that the Corporations covet?"

[Jan 09, 2020] West Point teaches people they have the right to drop bombs on civilians and torture them in Guantanamo. Of course these folks think of themselves as the smartest people who ever lived.

Jan 09, 2020 | www.unz.com

Steve Gilbert , says: Show Comment January 8, 2020 at 7:29 pm GMT

@Authenticjazzman The US could afford lots of things if we cut the military budget by 99%, as we should have done after WWII.
The military works for the plutocrats, stealing money from the taxpayers. The ruling class turned Vietnam from an agricultural nation into a low paid factory nation which took thousands of textile jobs from Americans – i.e winning the Vietnam war. The problem lies in the taxpayers not understanding what winning means. Manufacturing havens with super low wages and homeless veterans begging at every intersection. West Point teaches people they have the right to drop bombs on civilians and torture them in Guantanamo. Of course these folks think of themselves as the smartest people who ever lived.

[Jan 08, 2020] "Isolationist" is a imperialist label put on someone against war.

Jan 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

SharonM , Jan 8 2020 17:59 utc | 153

@145 vk

"Isolationist" is a imperialist label put on someone against war. And the U.S. has always been an imperialist nation. There's no such thing as a limited era of imperialism for the U.S.

[Jan 07, 2020] The United States, like Israel, has become a pariah that shreds, violates or absents itself from international law

Jan 07, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

The United States, like Israel, has become a pariah that shreds, violates or absents itself from international law. We launch preemptive wars, which under international law is defined as a "crime of aggression," based on fabricated evidence. We, as citizens, must hold our government accountable for these crimes. If we do not, we will be complicit in the codification of a new world order, one that would have terrifying consequences. It would be a world without treaties, statutes and laws. It would be a world where any nation, from a rogue nuclear state to a great imperial power, would be able to invoke its domestic laws to annul its obligations to others. Such a new order would undo five decades of international cooperation -- largely put in place by the United States -- and thrust us into a Hobbesian nightmare. Diplomacy, broad cooperation, treaties and law, all the mechanisms designed to civilize the global community, would be replaced by savagery.

Chris Hedges, an Arabic speaker, is a former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. He spent seven years covering the region, including Iran.

[Jan 06, 2020] The threat of General Soleimani - TTG

Highly recommended!
Below are some idea from Below are some idea from OffGuardian that clrify TT post...
The Saker took a look yesterday at The Soleimani murder – what could happen next . He thinks, as he has said before, that Trump is regarded as a disposable asset by his Deep State handlers and is being used as a front man for risky policy actions that he can be scapegoated for if/when they go wrong.
war with Iran has been the auto-erotic fixation for the hardcore war nuts in Washington for years, and imminent confrontation has been predicted regularly since at least 2005
Trump administration from the very beginning has been ramping up the tensions (Adelson money at work): Trump teared up the nuclear deal, re-imposed sanctions, making provocations, making threats. But this has all been within the familiar framework that always just stops short of actual conflict. The murder of Soleimani is orders of magnitude beyond anything they have ever risked before. the US and Israel now have carte blanche to stage as much false flag 'terrorism' as they want and blame it on Iranian 'revenge'. Whatever else happens, we can almost certainly look forward to some of that. The murder of Soleimani is orders of magnitude beyond anything they have ever risked before. the US and Israel now have carte blanche to stage as much false flag 'terrorism' as they want and blame it on Iranian 'revenge'. Whatever else happens, we can almost certainly look forward to some of that. The murder of Soleimani is orders of magnitude beyond anything they have ever risked before. the US and Israel now have carte blanche to stage as much false flag 'terrorism' as they want and blame it on Iranian 'revenge'. Whatever else happens, we can almost certainly look forward to some of that.
The major question really though is – will this backtracking and odd claims of wanting de-escalation actually do anything to de-escalate? Will it persuade Iran not to seek retaliation, supposing this is now what Pompeo et al want?
It's become a commonplace to describe Trump foreign policy as 'insane', and it's an apposite description. But the murder of Soleimani takes the evident insanity to new and self-defeating levels.
Notable quotes:
"... Eric, the embassy attack hurt little more than our pride. Yes, an entrance lobby and it's contents were burned and destroyed but no American was injured or even roughed up. It was the Iraqi government that let the demonstrators approach the embassy walls, not Soleimani. The unarmed PMU soldiers dispersed as soon as the Iraqi government said their point was made. If we are so thin skinned that rude graffiti and gestures induce us to committing assassinations, we deserve to be labeled as international pariahs. ..."
"... Yes, I see Soleimani as a threat, but he was a threat to the jihadis and the continued US dreams of regional hegemony. ..."
"... According to published pictures of the rockets recovered after the K-1 attack, they were the same powerful new weapons that Turkish troops recovered from a YPG ammo depot in Afrin last year: 'Iranian' 107mm rockets Manufactured 2016 Lot 570. I know matching lots isn't proof of anything, but what are the chances? ..."
"... This "imminent" threat of Gen. Soleimani attacking US forces seems eerily reminiscent of the "mushroom cloud" imminent threat that Bush, Cheney and Blair peddled. Now we even have Pence claiming that Soleimani provided support to the Saudi 9/11 terrorists. Laughable if it wasn't so tragic. But of course at one time the talking point was Saddam orchestrated 9/11 and was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden. ..."
"... After the Iraq WMD, Gadhaffi threat and Assad the butcher and the incorrigible terrorist loving Taliban posing such imminent threats that we must use our awesome military to bomb, invade, occupy, while spending trillions of dollars borrowed from future generations, and our soldiers on the ground serving multiple tours, and our fellow citizens buy into the latest rationale for killing an Iranian & Iraqi general, without an ounce of skepticism, says a lot! ..."
"... IMO, Craig Murray is pointing in the right direction around the word 'immanent,' by pointing out that it is referring to the legally dubious Bethlehem Doctrine of Self Defense, the Israeli, UK and US standard for assassination, in which immanent is defined as widely as, 'we think they were thinking about it.' The USG managed to run afoul of even these overly permissive guidelines, which are meant only against non-state actors. ..."
Jan 06, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com
The threat of General Soleimani - TTG W7kf87eV

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States had "clear, unambiguous" intelligence that a top Iranian general was planning a significant campaign of violence against the United States when it decided to strike him, the top U.S. general said on Friday, warning Soleimani's plots "might still happen."

Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a small group of reporters "we fully comprehend the strategic consequences" associated with the strike against Qassem Soleimani, Tehran's most prominent military commander.

But he said the risk of inaction exceeded the risk that killing him might dramatically escalate tensions with Tehran. "Is there risk? Damn right, there's risk. But we're working to mitigate it," Milley said from his Pentagon office. (Reuters)

-- -- -- -- --

This is pretty much in line with Trump's pronouncement that our assassination of Soleimani along with Iraqi General Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was carried out to prevent a war not start one. Whatever information was presented to Trump painted a picture of imminent danger in his mind. What did the Pentagon see that was so imminent?

Well first let's look at the mindset of the Pentagon concerning our presence in Iraq and Syria. These two recent quotes from Brett McGurk sums up that mindset.

"If we leave Iraq, that will just increase further the running room for Iran and Shia militia groups and also the vacuum that will see groups like ISIS fill and we'll be right back to where we were. So that would be a disaster."

"It's always been Soleimani's strategic game... to get us out of the Middle East. He wants to see us leave Syria, he wants to see us leave Iraq... I think if we leave Iraq after this, that would just be a real disastrous outcome..."

McGurk played a visible role in US policy in Iraq and Syria under Bush, Obama and Trump. Now he's an NBC talking head and a lecturer at Stanford. He could be the poster boy for what many see as a neocon deep state. He's definitely not alone in thinking this way.

So back to the question of what was the imminent threat. Reuters offers an elaborate story of a secret meeting of PMU commanders with Soleimani on a rooftop terrace on the Tigris with a grand view of the US Embassy on the far side of the river.

-- -- -- -- --

"In mid-October, Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani met with his Iraqi Shi'ite militia allies at a villa on the banks of the Tigris River, looking across at the U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad, and instructed them to step up attacks on U.S. targets in the country"

"Two militia commanders and two security sources briefed on the gathering told Reuters that Soleimani instructed his top ally in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and other powerful militia leaders to step up attacks on US targets using sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran."

"Soleimani's plans to attack US forces aimed to provoke a military response that would redirect Iraqis' anger towards Iran to the US, according to the sources briefed on the gathering, Iraqi Shi'ite politicians and government officials close to Iraq PM Adel Abdul Mahdi."

"At the Baghdad villa, Soleimani told the assembled commanders to form a new militia group of low-profile paramilitaries - unknown to the United States - who could carry out rocket attacks on Americans housed at Iraqi military bases." (Reuters)

-- -- -- -- --

And what were those sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran? They were 1960s Chinese designed 107mm multiple rocket launcher technology. These simple but effective rocket launchers were mass produced by the Soviet Union, Iran, Turkey and Sudan in addition to China. They've been used in every conflict since then. The one captured outside of the K1 military base seems to be locally fabricated, but used Iranian manufactured rockets.

Since when does the PMU have to form another low profile militia unit? The PMU is already composed of so many militia units it's difficult to keep track of them. There's also nothing low profile about the Kata'ib Hizbollah, the rumored perpetrators of the K1 rocket attack. They're as high profile as they come.

Perhaps there's something to this Reuters story, but to me it sounds like another shithouse rumor. It would make a great scene in a James Bond movie, but it still sounds like a rumor.

There's another story put out by The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Although it also sounds like a scene form a James Bond movie, I think it sounds more convincing than the Reuters story.

-- -- -- -- --

Delegation of Arab tribes met with "Soleimani" at the invitation of "Tehran" to carry out attacks against U.S. Forces east Euphrates

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that a delegation of the Arab tribes met on the 26th of December 2019, with the goal of directing and uniting forces against U.S. Forces, and according to the Syrian Observatory's sources, that meeting took place with the commander of the al-Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Qassim Soleimani, who was assassinated this morning in a U.S. raid on his convoy in Iraq. the sources reported that: "the invitation came at the official invitation of Tehran, where Iran invited Faisal al-al-Aazil, one of the elders of al-Ma'amra clan, in addition to the representative of al-Bo Asi clan the commander of NDF headquarters in Qamishli Khatib al-Tieb, and the Sheikh of al-Sharayin, Nawaf al-Bashar, the Sheikh of Harb clan, Mahmoud Mansour al-Akoub, " adding that: "the meeting discussed carrying out attacks against the American forces and the Syria Democratic Forces."

Earlier, the head of the Syrian National Security Bureau, Ali Mamlouk, met with the security committee and about 20 Arab tribal elders and Sheikhs in al-Hasakah, at Qamishli Airport Hall on the 5th of December 2019, where he demanded the Arab tribes to withdraw their sons from the ranks of the Syria Democratic Forces. (SOHR)

-- -- -- -- --

I certainly don't automatically give credence to anything Rami sends out of his house in Coventry. I give this story more credibility only because that is exactly what I would do if Syria east of the the Euphrates was my UWOA (unconventional warfare operational area). This is exactly how I would go about ridding the area of the "Great Satan" invaders and making Syria whole again. The story also includes a lot of named individuals. This can be checked. This morning Colonel Lang told me some tribes in that region have a Shia history. Perhaps he can elaborate on that. I've read in several places that Qassim Soleimani knew the tribes in Syria and Iraq like the back of his hand. This SOHR story makes sense. If Soleimani was working with the tribes of eastern Syria like he worked with the tribes and militias of Iraq to create the al-Ḥashd ash-Shaʿbi, it no doubt scared the bejeezus out of the Pentagon and endangered their designs for Iraq and Syria.

So, Qassim Soleimani, the Iranian soldier, the competent and patient Iranian soldier, was a threat to the Pentagon's designs a serious threat. But he was a long term threat, not an imminent threat. And he was just one soldier.The threat is systemic and remains. The question of why, in the minds of Trump and his generals, Soleimani had to die this week is something I will leave for my next post.

A side note on Milley: Whenever I see a photo of him, I am reminded of my old Brigade Commander in the 25th Infantry Division, Colonel Nathan Vail. They both have the countenance of a snapping turtle. One of the rehab transfers in my rifle platoon once referred to him as "that J. Edgar Hoover looking mutha fuka." I had to bite my tongue to keep from breaking out in laughter. It would have been unseemly for a second lieutenant to openly enjoy such disrespect by a PV2 and a troublemaking PV2 at that. God bless PV2 Webster, where ever you are.

TTG


John Merryman , 04 January 2020 at 06:33 PM

Wondering how much more intense the security will be around Trump's campaign rallies during the election.
The Twisted Genius , 04 January 2020 at 06:46 PM
Eric, the embassy attack hurt little more than our pride. Yes, an entrance lobby and it's contents were burned and destroyed but no American was injured or even roughed up. It was the Iraqi government that let the demonstrators approach the embassy walls, not Soleimani. The unarmed PMU soldiers dispersed as soon as the Iraqi government said their point was made. If we are so thin skinned that rude graffiti and gestures induce us to committing assassinations, we deserve to be labeled as international pariahs.

Yes, I see Soleimani as a threat, but he was a threat to the jihadis and the continued US dreams of regional hegemony. I was glad we went back into Iraq to take on the threat of IS and cheered our initial move into Syria to do the same. That was the Sunni-Shia war you worry about. More accurately, it was a Salafist jihadist-all others war. Unfortunately, we overstayed the need and our welcome. It's a character flaw that we cannot loosen our grasp on empire no matter how much it costs us.

Jack -> The Twisted Genius ... , 04 January 2020 at 08:16 PM
TTG,

Thanks for your post. What it says I buy. We are in the Middle East and have been for a while to impose regional hegemony. What that has bought us is nebulous at best. Clearly we have spent trillions and destabilized the region. Millions have been displaced and hundreds of thousands have been killed and maimed, including thousands of our soldiers. Are we better off from our invasion of Iraq, toppling Ghaddafi, and attempting to topple Assad using jihadists? Guys like McGurk, Bolton, Pompeo will say yes. Others like me will say no.

The oil is a canard. We produce more oil than we ever have and it is a fungible commodity. Will it impact Israel if we pull out our forces? Sure. But it may have a salutary effect that it may force them to sue for peace. Will the Al Sauds continue to fund jihadi mayhem? Likely yes, but they'll have to come to some accommodation with the Iranian Shia and recognize their regional strength.

Our choice is straightforward. Continue down the path of more conflict sinking ever more trillions that we don't have expecting a different outcome or cut our losses and get out and let the natural forces of the region assert themselves. I know which path I'll take.

JamesT -> The Twisted Genius ... , 04 January 2020 at 09:48 PM
TTG,

With all due respect, I think you are wrong. I think the protesters swarming the embassy was exactly the same kind of tactic that US backed protesters used in Ukraine (and are currently using in Hong Kong) to great effect. The Persians are unique in that they are capable of studying our methodologies and tactics and appropriating them.

When the US backed protesters took over Maidan square and started taking over various government building in Kiev, Viktor Yanukovych had two choices - either start shooting protesters or watch while his authority collapsed. It was and is a difficult choice.

In my humble opinion, there are few things the stewards of US hegemony fear more than the IRGC becoming the worlds number one disciple of Gene Sharp.

PavewayIV , 04 January 2020 at 06:46 PM
TTG - "And what were those sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran?"

According to published pictures of the rockets recovered after the K-1 attack, they were the same powerful new weapons that Turkish troops recovered from a YPG ammo depot in Afrin last year: 'Iranian' 107mm rockets Manufactured 2016 Lot 570. I know matching lots isn't proof of anything, but what are the chances?

If the U.S. only had a Dilyana Gaytandzhieva to bird-dog out the rat line. Wait... the MSM would have fired her by now for weaponizing journalism against the neocons [sigh].

Factotum , 04 January 2020 at 07:21 PM
If a goal is to get the heck out of the Middle East since it is an intractable cess pit and stat protecting our own borders and internal security, will we be better off with Soleimani out of the picture or left in place.

Knowing of course, more just like him will sprout quickly, like dragon's teeth, in the sands of the desert.ME is a tar baby. Fracking our own tar sands is the preferable alternative.

Real war war would be a direct attack on Israel. Then they get our full frontal assault. But this pissy stuff around the edges is an exercise in futility. 2020 was Trump's to lose.Incapacity to handle asymmetirc warfare is ours to lose.

Jane , 04 January 2020 at 07:35 PM
There is no necessary link between the Iranian support for the Assad regime, to include its operations in tribal areas of Syria. The Iranian-backed militias and Iranian government officials have been operating in that area for a long time, supporting the efforts of Security/Intel Ali Mamlouk. That Suleimani knew the tribes so well is a mark of his professional competence. Everyone is courting the Syrian tribes, some sides more adeptly than others. It is also worth noting that in putting together manpower for their various locally formed Syrian militias, the Iranians took on unemployed Sunnis.

That said, there are small Ismaili communities in Syria and there are apparently a couple of villages in Deir ez Zor that did convert to Shiism, but no mass religious change. The Iranians are sensitive to the fact that they could cause a backlash if they tried hard to promote "an alien culture."

Elora Danan , 04 January 2020 at 07:40 PM
Well, The Donald has turned to Twitter menacing iran with wiping out all of its World Heritage Sites....which is declared intention to commit a war crime...

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1213593975732527112

For what it seems Iran must sawllow the assasination of its beloved and highjly regarded general...or else...

Do you really think there is any explanation for this, whatever Soleimani´s history ( he was doing his duty in his country and neighboring zone...you are...well...everywhere...) or that we can follow this way with you escalating your threats and crimes ever and that everybody must leave it at that without response or you menace coming with more ?

That somebody or some news agency has any explanation for this is precisely the sign of our times and our disgrace. That there is a bunch of greedy people who is willing to do whatever is needed to prevail and keep being obscenely rich...

BTW, would be interesting to know who are the main holders of shares at Reuters...

Elora Danan , 04 January 2020 at 08:09 PM
Board of Directors of Reuters

The same monopolizing almost each and every MSM and news agency at every palce in the world, big bank, big pharma, big business, big capital ( insurances companies nad hedge funds ) big real state, and US think tanks...

Elora Danan , 04 January 2020 at 08:33 PM
In Elora´s opinion, Bret MacGurk is making revanche from Soleimani for the predictable fact that a humble and pious man bred in the region, who worked as bricklayer to help pay his father´s debt during his youth, and moreover has an innate irresistible charisma, managed to connect better with the savage tribes of the ME than such exceptionalist posh theoric bred at such an exceptionalist as well as far away country like the US.

But...what did you expect, that MacGurk would become Lawrence of Arabia versus Soleimani in his simpleness?

May be because of that that he deserved being dismembered by a misile...

As Pence blamed shamefully and stonefacelly Soleimani for 9/11, MacGurk blames him too for having fallen from the heights he was...

It seems that Pence was in the team of four who assesed Trump on this hit...along with Pompeo...

A good response would be that someone would leak the real truth on 9/11 so as to debunk Pence´s mega-lie...

Factotum , 04 January 2020 at 08:48 PM
Two years ago, the public protest theme for Basel's winter carnival Fashnach was the imminent threat nuclear war as NK and US were sabre rattling, and NK was lobbing missles across Japan with sights on West Coast US cities.

Then almost the following week, NK and US planned to meet F2F in Singapore. And we could all breathe again. In the very early spring of 2018.

blue peacock , 04 January 2020 at 09:54 PM
TTG

This "imminent" threat of Gen. Soleimani attacking US forces seems eerily reminiscent of the "mushroom cloud" imminent threat that Bush, Cheney and Blair peddled. Now we even have Pence claiming that Soleimani provided support to the Saudi 9/11 terrorists. Laughable if it wasn't so tragic. But of course at one time the talking point was Saddam orchestrated 9/11 and was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden.

I find it fascinating watching the media spin and how easily so many Americans buy into the spin du jour.

After the Iraq WMD, Gadhaffi threat and Assad the butcher and the incorrigible terrorist loving Taliban posing such imminent threats that we must use our awesome military to bomb, invade, occupy, while spending trillions of dollars borrowed from future generations, and our soldiers on the ground serving multiple tours, and our fellow citizens buy into the latest rationale for killing an Iranian & Iraqi general, without an ounce of skepticism, says a lot!

Yeah, it will be interesting to see how Trump's re-election will go when we are engaged in a full scale military conflagration in the Middle East? It sure will give Tulsi & Bernie an excellent environment to promote their anti-neocon message. You can see it in Trump's ambivalent tweets. On the one hand, I ordered the assassination of Soleimani to prevent a war (like we needed to burn the village to save it), while on the other hand, we have 52 sites locked & loaded if you retaliate. Hmmm!! IMO, he has seriously jeapordized his re-election by falling into the neocon Deep State trap. They never liked him. The coup by law enforcement & CIA & DNI failed. The impeachment is on its last legs. Voila! Incite him into another Middle Eastern quagmire against what he campaigned on and won an election.

I would think that Khamanei has no choice but to retaliate. How is anyone's guess? I doubt he'll order the sinking of a naval vessel patrolling the Gulf or fire missiles into the US base in Qatar. But assassination....especially in some far off location in Europe or South America? A targeted bombing here or there? A cyber attack at a critical point. I mean not indiscriminate acts like the jihadists but highly calculated targets. All seem extremely feasible in our highly vulnerable and relatively open societies. And they have both the experience and skills to accomplish them.

If ever you have the inclination, a speculative post on how the escalation ladder could potentially be climbed would be a fascinating read.

Jack -> blue peacock... , 05 January 2020 at 12:01 AM
"I find it fascinating watching the media spin and how easily so many Americans buy into the spin du jour."

BP,

Yes, indeed. It is a testament to our susceptibility that there is such limited scepticism by so many people on the pronouncements of our government. Especially considering the decades long continuous streams of lies and propaganda. The extent and brazenness of the lies have just gotten worse through my lifetime.

I feel for my grand-children and great-grand children as they now live in society that has no value for honor. It's all expedience in the search for immediate personal gain.

I am and have been in the minority for decades now. I've always opposed our military adventurism overseas from Korea to today. I never bought into the domino theory even at the heights of the Cold War. And I don't buy into the current global hegemony destiny to bring light to the savages. I've also opposed the build up of the national security surveillance state as the antithesis of our founding. I am also opposed to the increasing concentration of market power across every major market segment. It will be the destruction of our entrepreneurial economy. The partisan duopoly is well past it's sell date. But right now the majority are still caught up in rancorous battles on the side of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Something To Think About , 04 January 2020 at 10:19 PM
A question to the committee: what is the source for the claim that Soleimani bears direct responsibility for the death of over 600 US military personnel?

Craig Murray points to this article:
https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/04/04/iran-killed-more-us-troops-in-iraq-than-previously-known-pentagon-says/

If that is the case (and it appears to be) then the US govt's claim is nonsense, as it clearly says " 'During Operation Iraqi Freedom, DoD assessed that at least 603 U.S. personnel deaths in Iraq were the result of Iran-backed militants,' Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an email."

So those figures represent casualties suffered during the US-led military invasion of Iraq i.e. casualties suffered during a shooting-war.

If Soleimani is a legitimate target for assassination because of the success of his forces on the battlefield then wouldn't that make Tommy Franks an equally-legitimate target?

Jack , 04 January 2020 at 10:33 PM
Pulitzer Prize winning author of Caliphate, Romanian-American, Rukmini Callimachi, on the intelligence on Soleimani "imminent threat" being razor-thin.

https://twitter.com/rcallimachi/status/1213421769777909761?s=21

PavewayIV said in reply to Jack... , 04 January 2020 at 11:01 PM
You just beat me to her thread, Jack. For the Twitter shy, this is the first of a series of 17 tweets as a teaser:
1. I've had a chance to check in with sources, including two US officials who had intelligence briefings after the strike on Suleimani. Here is what I've learned. According to them, the evidence suggesting there was to be an imminent attack on American targets is "razor thin".

Summary: [Too shameful to type]

Roy G , 04 January 2020 at 11:59 PM
IMO, Craig Murray is pointing in the right direction around the word 'immanent,' by pointing out that it is referring to the legally dubious Bethlehem Doctrine of Self Defense, the Israeli, UK and US standard for assassination, in which immanent is defined as widely as, 'we think they were thinking about it.' The USG managed to run afoul of even these overly permissive guidelines, which are meant only against non-state actors.

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/01/lies-the-bethlehem-doctrine-and-the-illegal-murder-of-soleimani/

[Jan 06, 2020] Diplomacy Trump-style. Al Capone probably would be allow himself to fall that low

Highly recommended!
Jan 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Fec , Jan 5 2020 15:23 utc | 3

"We have learned today from #Iraq Prime Minister AdilAbdl Mahdi how @realDonaldTrump uses diplomacy:
#US asked #Iraq to mediate with #Iran. Iraq PM asks #QassemSoleimani to come and talk to him and give him the answer of his mediation, Trump &co assassinate an envoy at the airport."

https://twitter.com/ejmalrai/status/1213833855754485762

[Jan 06, 2020] Now I know for sure that the US government spreads shameless lies, so you can't believe anything it says.

Notable quotes:
"... So, I did not see it as a war crime back then, but I do now. ..."
Jan 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

AnonFromTN , says: Show Comment January 5, 2020 at 10:22 pm GMT

@ChuckOrloski At the time I thought that it might be justified, if Al Qaida actually did 9/11. Now I know that Al Qaida was and is a CIA operation and have my doubts regarding its involvement in 9/11.

Even if it was, that was on direct orders of its American handlers.

What's more, now I know for sure that the US government spreads shameless lies, so you can't believe anything it says. In fact, you can safely assume that everything it says is a lie and be right 99.9% of the time.

So, I did not see it as a war crime back then, but I do now.

[Jan 04, 2020] Now we have a self-described "West Point Mafia" class of 1986 and a JCS Chairman far more politically motivated than Dunford and Dempsey take over Pentagon

Jan 04, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Harper , 03 January 2020 at 01:06 PM

It has been pointed out to me that until his retirement in October 2019, JCS Chairman Joe Dunford was a factor in tempering neocon fervor for war. The same was true for his predecessor Martin Dempsey. Now we have a self-described "West Point Mafia" class of 1986 and a JCS Chairman far more politically motivated than Dunford and Dempsey. This looks to be to be more dangerous than when Bolton the chicken hawk was running around the West Wing. This is a recent Politico profile of the new Defense team, including Pompeo, Esper and other key national security advisors to Trump.

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2019/11/17/west-point-alumni-pompeo-esper-state-department-071212

Jack , 03 January 2020 at 12:51 PM
Rand Paul opposing the nomination of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, March 2018: "I'm perplexed by the nomination of people who love the Iraq War so much that they would advocate for a war with Iran next. It goes against most of the things President Trump campaigned on."
Fred -> Harper... , 03 January 2020 at 06:19 PM
Harper,

Thanks for the link. The Trump triumvirate of class of '86 advisors did the minimum time on active duty and left service for greener pastures. The move to politics is reminiscent of the neocons decameron mentioned on the prior thread. It looks like the move to war which only the neocons want is coming on in full force.

robt willmann , 03 January 2020 at 03:07 PM
After around 25 people were killed by a U.S. attack over the weekend, and subsequently the damage was being done to the "embassy" in Iraq, it looked like a real problem was developing. But it seemed as if Iraqi security people had let the demonstrators and attackers into the area where the U.S. embassy is, and then the following day were not letting them in, and so the embassy cleanup would begin. At that time I felt better about the situation. In other words, the Iraqi government, such that it is, allowed the protest and damage at the embassy to occur, and then was stopping it after making the point of a protest.

However, that defusing of the situation by the Iraqi government by shutting down the embassy protest was for naught when the ignorant people in the U.S. government carried out the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and several others inside Iraq itself. Now there is a real problem.

[Jan 01, 2020] After Exceptionalism by Lawrence, Patrick

Jan 01, 2020 | raritanquarterly.rutgers.edu

At four-thirty in the afternoon of Saturday, 4 April 2009, Barack Obama stood before a throng of correspondents in the Palais de la Musique et des Congrès, a high-Modernist convention center on the place de Bordeaux in Strasbourg. It was his seventy-fourth day as president. He had earlier attended his first Group of 20 meeting, in London, and had just emerged from his first NATO summit, a two-day affair that featured sessions on both sides of the Franco–German border. The world was still intently curious as to who America's first black president was and what, exactly, he stood for.

Confident, easeful, entirely in command, Obama spoke extemporaneously for several minutes. He spoke of "careful cooperation and collective action" within the Atlantic alliance. He noted "a sense of common purpose" among its leaders. He was there "to listen, to learn, and to lead," Obama said, "because all of us have a responsibility to do our parts."

Then came the questions.

There was one about the global financial crisis Obama had walked into as soon as he walked into the White House. ("All of us have to take important steps to deal with economic growth.") There was one about NATO troops in Afghanistan, and another about whether any would be deployed in Pakistan. There was an awkward question about a new law passed in Kabul that restricted women's rights in public places and effectively condoned child marriages. "What, about the character of this law," an American television correspondent wanted to know, "ought to motivate US forces to fight and possibly die in Afghanistan?" Obama parried the question with impressively presidential aplomb: the law is abhorrent, he said, but American troops are highly motivated to protect the United States.

Another question came from the Washington correspondent of the Financial Times. It was a little long-winded and is reproduced in the transcript thus: "In the context of all the multilateral activity this week -- the G-20, here at NATO -- and your evident enthusiasm for multilateral frameworks, could I ask you whether you subscribe, as many of your predecessors have, to the school of American exceptionalism that sees America as uniquely qualified to lead the world, or do you have a slightly different philosophy? And if so, would you be able to elaborate on it?"

This is known in the trade as a softball, the kind of gently lobbed query that sets up a public figure to dilate safely and at length on a favored theme. And so did Obama field it. From the transcript, one half wonders whether the president and the correspondent had rehearsed the moment beforehand -- as if Obama were keen to take on the matter in a cosmopolitan setting.

"I believe in American exceptionalism," the new president said spryly, "just as I suspect the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Obama waxed on in this vein for a moment or two before praising, yet again, alliances and many-sided modes of cooperation. "We create partnerships," he concluded, "because we can't solve these problems alone."

Like an incoming tide flowing over rocks, the questions from the press returned to troop counts, NATO contributions, and Albania's accession as the alliance's newest member. No one seemed to take much note of either the FT man's inquiry or Obama's reply to it. And no one, not even America's new president, seemed to grasp what had just happened to exceptionalism, that peculiarly awkward term with its peculiarly ideological load. Something broke at that moment. It was as if Obama had dropped a precious relic, some centuries-old crystal chalice, and no one present heard the noise when it shattered.

The noise came soon enough and echoed for the remainder of Obama's eight years in office. The stars of right-wing media were among the first to start in. Sean Hannity pounced within a couple of days of the Strasbourg remark. Obama, the Fox News presenter declared, "marginalized his own country by saying our sense of exceptionalism is no different than that of the British and the Greeks." An upstart assistant editor at the New Republic took a swing a few days later. "If all countries are 'exceptional,' then none are," James Kirchick wrote, "and to claim otherwise robs the word, and the idea of American exceptionalism, of any meaning."

It went on from there, an ever-available suggestion that Obama's patriotism must be held in doubt, that he was not truly "one of us." It was not difficult to hear the worst of these recurring remarks as racism at a single remove.

"Our president," Mitt Romney asserted as he sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, "doesn't have the same feeling about American exceptionalism that we do." Three years later, another conservative presidential aspirant, the mercifully forgettable Bobby Jindal, swung his mallet to make the bell ring: "This is a president who won't proudly proclaim American exceptionalism," the Louisiana governor charged, "maybe the first president ever who truly doesn't believe in that."

Obama seemed haunted after that afternoon in Strasbourg. It was as if he had strayed beyond the fence posts defining what an American leader can and cannot say -- and then hastened to return to the fold. Thenceforth, he missed few chances to counter his critics. "My entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism," he said in direct reply to Romney. On another occasion: "I'm a firm believer in American exceptionalism." And another -- this time in a commencement address at West Point: "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being." He pursued the theme until the very end of his presidency, a point to which I will return.

None of this -- the president's critics, the president's ripostes -- did much good, if any, for the abiding notion of American exceptionalism, whichever of its numerous meanings one may subscribe to. These past years have been peculiar in this way. Others may read the matter differently, but to me that afternoon in Strasbourg was a point of departure long in coming. Since then it has made no difference, none at all, whether one faults Obama or anyone else for failing to believe in our exceptional standing or whether one professes belief to the bottom of one's soul.

All that is said now comes to the same thing, making for a devastating dialectic. However the question is addressed, it reiterates the same lapse, the same telling self-consciousness, the same self-doubt, the same collective anxiety long evident to anyone able to discern with detachment the sentiments common to many Americans. Obama had it right, of course, that day in Strasbourg. Having lived among the Chinese, the Japanese, and others given to pronounced variants of chosen-people consciousness, I conclude he had settled on the only logical way at the matter. All nations are exceptional, but none, not even America, is exceptionally exceptional. The irate young editor at the New Republic had it right, too, though he seemed not to have known it: whatever Obama's intent (a question I will also take up later), he had indeed stripped bare America's customary claim to exceptionalist standing, exposing it at last as empty of all but the most mythical meanings.

This was an immensely constructive thing to do. Is it too much to suggest that shattering the glass chalice might in the long run rank among our forty-fourth president's most consequential accomplishments? I do not think so. History, the kind Obama made in Strasbourg, sometimes resembles what Auden wrote of suffering in "Musée des Beaux Arts": it occurs in the most ordinary circumstances such that very few of us even take note.

To risk a generality, Americans had been an uncertain people -- nervous, defensive, given to overcompensation for never-to-bementioned failures and weaknesses -- for a long time before Obama spoke in Alsace in the spring of 2009. I trace this shared-by-many attribute to another April, this one thirty-four years earlier, that wrenchingly poignant season when Americans sat in frozen silence as news footage showed them helicopters hovering above the embassy in Saigon -- the frenzy of a final retreat. For now, it is enough to note that Obama's observation -- a touch offhand and as simple as it was obvious -- marked the moment Americans would have to begin rotating their gaze, in a gesture not short of historic for its import, if they were to do at all well in the new century. They would have to turn from a past decorated with many enchanting ornaments toward a future that has no ribbons or laurels for those who claim them by virtue of some providentially conferred right.

Obama left Americans with questions on the day I describe. They require us -- and I think by design -- to begin talking of what I will call postexceptionalism. A set of questions we must pose to ourselves for the first time: this was Obama's true legacy, in my view. In the best of outcomes, we will learn to answer them in a new language, as the best answers will require. What will be the nature of a postexceptionalist America? Who will these postexceptionalist Americans be? How will they understand themselves and themselves among others? It may be that the questions Obama so fleetingly raised will turn out to run deeper still. What will remain of Americans once the belief that they are chosen is subtracted -- as inevitably it will be. What will be left with which they can describe themselves to themselves? Can a postexceptionalist America come to be? Given the chasm in their consciousness that must be crossed, is such a thing even conceivable? Will Americans accept another idea of themselves and of others? Or will they continue to pretend against all evidence that the chalice remains intact, unshattered, still to be held high above the heads of others atop our city on a hill, even as the rest of the world has somewhere to get to and proceeds on, calmly or otherwise, as best it can?

It is common enough to locate the origins of America's self-image in the thoughts of the earliest settlers coming across the Atlantic from England. It was John Winthrop, in his famous 1630 sermon, who gave us our hilltop city, he who proclaimed "the eies of all people are uppon us." Even in this seminal occasion we detect a claim -- maybe the earliest -- to exceptional status. But it is to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as America made itself a nation, that we have to look for the grist of the exceptionalist notion. And instantly we find a confusion of meanings. To some it referred to the new nation's revolutionary history, its institutions, and its democratic ideals: it had ideational connotations.

This line of thinking has since been stenciled onto history such that other readings can be somewhat obscured. In his Letters from an American Farmer, Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur cast the American as a "new man," exceptional for his stoic self-reliance and autonomy. In its early years, the nation was also counted exceptional for its abundant land and resources. And we should not forget the influence on the founding generation of the French physiocrats, who considered farming the fundament of all wealth, as we consider the case for this interpretation. New and evolving meanings attaching to the term have tumbled down the decades and centuries ever since, often with claims to providential dispensation, often (as the FT correspondent suggested) asserting a divinely assigned mission to lead all others.

Alexis de Tocqueville is commonly credited as the first to describe Americans as exceptional. This is fine, but let us not miss what he meant:

The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin, their exclusively commercial habits, even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts, the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism, a thousand special causes. . .have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the Americans upon purely practical objects.

It is a rather less elevated description of our exceptionalism than is customarily assumed. Long has been the journey, then, from Tocqueville's time to ours, exceptionalism having gone from observation to thought to article of faith, ideological imperative, a presumption of eternal success, and a claim to stand above the law that governs all other nations. Historians note the odd irony that it was Stalin who brought the term "American exceptionalism" into common use. This was in the late 1920s, when a faction of American Communists advised Moscow that the nation's abundance and the absence of clearly drawn class distinctions rendered it immune to the contradictions Marx saw in capitalism.

Stalin was incensed: how dare those Americans stray from orthodoxy by declaring their nation an exception to it? While the Soviet leader flung the term back indignantly, many American intellectuals considered it "an inspired encapsulation of 160 years of impeccable national history." This phrase belongs to David Levering Lewis, the biographer of W. E. B. Du Bois, who was among the first prominent critics of the notion that America and its people were in any way singular or in any way not subject to the turning of history's wheel. Du Bois found the source of our modern idea of exceptionalism in the postbellum decades leading up to the Spanish-American War.

Two visions of the American future emerged after the Civil War, he observed in Black Reconstruction in America: 1860–1880, his 1935 history of African American contributions to the postwar period -- and a purposeful challenge to white-supremacist orthodoxies. In one of these renderings, America would at last achieve the democracy expressed in its founding ideals. The other pictured an advanced industrial nation whose distinctions were its wealth and potency. Democracy at home, empire abroad: when combined, these two versions of America's destiny were to be something new under the sun, and this amalgam would make America history's truly great exception.

This was never more than an impossible dream. Du Bois considered it "the cant of exceptionalism," in his biographer's phrase, intended primarily to deflect the realities of the Great Depression.

It was a mere six years after Du Bois brought out his book when Henry Luce declared the twentieth "the American century" in a noted Life magazine editorial. America was "the most powerful and vital nation in the world," the celebrated publisher announced. It is "our duty and our opportunity to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." Maybe only the offspring of missionaries could write with such righteous confidence of dominance and purity of intent in combination. But Luce, without using the phrase, had neatly defined American exceptionalism in its twentieth-century rendering. And from his day to ours, that aspect of it we can consider religious has grown only more evident among its apostles.

Jimmy Carter caught the post-Vietnam mood perfectly (perfectly to a fault, as it turned out) when he delivered his noted "malaise" speech in mid-July 1979. Carter never used the wounding word. His actual title was "A Crisis of Confidence," and he made his point in vivid terms. "It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will," Carter explained on America's television screens. He spoke of "the growing doubt about the meaning of our lives." He spoke of "years filled with shock and tragedy," and of "paralysis, stagnation, and drift."

This was a presentation of remarkable candor by any measure. Carter told Americans, in so many words, that they could not count on any preordained destiny or that they were always assured of success simply because of who they were. "First of all, we must face the truth," Carter said, "and then we can change our course." To change our course: this phrase alone warrants considerable thought. Among the fundamental conceits of the exceptionalist creed is that America has always had it right and has no need to change anything. The national task is simply to carry on as it has from its beginning. Carter's challenge to such assumptions could hardly have been bolder, although he seems to have been careful to avoid explicit reference to exceptionalism. This would have to wait for Obama.

If the courage of Carter's honesty lies beyond question, so does the mistake he made when we judge the malaise speech in purely political terms. The public initially received it positively. But four years after America's humiliating defeat in Vietnam, Americans could not but suspect that there was nothing exceptional about them or their nation. It was as if the floorboards were trembling beneath their feet. And as it turned out, Americans did not much want to hear their president confirm these suspicions and sensations so plainly.

Ronald Reagan understood this. If the project was the rehabilitation of America's exceptionalist status, his first task after taking office in 1981 was to transform the Vietnam War into "an American tragedy." So did Reagan proceed. In a matter of a few years, he recast Americans as Vietnam's victims, its aggressors no longer. His "Vietnam," quotation marks required, was a place where valorous Americans fought and sacrificed on freedom's front lines. This inversion must be counted an extraordinary feat, one requiring a manipulation of past events not short of astonishing for its wholesale distortions. Christian Appy, the historian of Vietnam as it evolved in the American consciousness, put it this way in a note sent some years ago: "Reagan gave Americans psychological permission to forget or mangle history to feel better about the country."

If American exceptionalism had not previously been a faith, Reagan set about making it one. As president he breathed extraordinary new life into the old credenda -- notably in his famous references to Winthrop's "city on a hill," each one a misuse of the phrase. He quoted it coming and going -- on the eve of his 1980 victory over Carter, in his farewell address nine years later, and on near-countless occasions in between.

I recall those years vividly, oddly enough because I was abroad during almost all of them. On each visit back there seemed to be more American flags in evidence -- above front doors, on people's lapels, in the rear windows of cars, in television advertisements. By the mid- 1980s the nation seemed enraptured in a spell of hyperpatriotism Reagan had conjured with the skill of the performer he never ceased to be. The stunningly rude conduct of American spectators at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles made plain to me that Reagan had set the nation on a path that was bound to deliver it into isolation and decline. "Patriotism" has ever since been a polite synonym for nationalism of a pernicious kind.

To me this turn in national sentiment reiterated precisely what it was intended to refute: America was still the nervous nation Carter had described. It is difficult nonetheless to overstate the import of what Reagan did by way of all his images and poses. He did not restore America's confidence in itself after Vietnam; in my estimation no American leader from Reagan's day to ours has accomplished this. Reagan's feat was to persuade an entire nation, or at least most of the electorate, that it was all right to pretend: all was affect and imagery.

As if to counter Carter's very words, he licensed Americans to avoid facing the truth of defeat and failure and professed principle betrayed. He demonstrated in his words and demeanor that greatness could be acted out even after it was lost as spectacularly as it had been in Indochina. Beyond his face-off with "the evil empire," "Star Wars," "the magic of the marketplace," and so on, Reagan's importance as our fortieth president lay in his intuitive grasp of social psychology. He understood: many Americans, enough to elect a president, prefer to feel and believe more than they like to think. It was "morning in America," and all one had to do was have faith in the man who said so. "One of the most important casualties of the Vietnam tragedy," Henry Kissinger reflected on the twenty-fifth anniversary of our defeat, "was the tradition of American exceptionalism." Kissinger erred in his estimation: the tradition had many years of life left after 1975, as should now be plain. He did not understand either what exceptionalism is or its purpose. Du Bois did, by contrast: he saw in the 1930s that American exceptionalism was sheer artifice, invoked most vigorously when contradicting realities threatened to intrude upon the national mythology. Reagan made use of it in precisely this fashion.

We still live, roughly speaking, with the version of exceptionalism Reagan crafted to evade the verities of our Vietnam debacle. This is an immense pity, the consequences of which are hardly calculable. Defeat is the mulch of renewal -- provided one has the strength of character to acknowledge it. Was this not Carter's implicit point? Defeat gives the vanquished an occasion to reflect, to draw lessons, to reimagine themselves, to pursue a new way forward. There are numerous examples of this in history. The twentieth-century fates of Germany and Japan are of an order all their own, but they serve well enough to illustrate the point: after downfall comes regeneration. Fail to "face the truth" -- Carter's well-chosen phrase -- and one must count defeat evaded a lost opportunity of fateful magnitude.

In the American case one must look backward and forward from the defeat in Vietnam to grasp the full measure of Reagan's destructive happy talk. April 1975 was a moment Americans could have begun to look squarely at their many betrayals in history -- of others and of themselves -- in the name of exceptionalism. Illusions nursed for three centuries could have been abandoned in favor of a new past more fully and honestly understood. Looking forward, there would have been no more coups and interventions -- no Angola, no Nicaragua, no Iraq, no Libya, no Syria, no Ukraine, no Venezuela -- the list is as long as it is shameful. Americans could have "changed course." The defeat in Vietnam, to make this point another way, could have launched us into our postexceptionalist era -- which, I am convinced, was Carter's intent in 1979 as much as it was Obama's thirty years later.

Jimmy Carter, fair to say, was voted out of office in part for his never-quite-stated suggestion that Americans reconsider their claim to exceptional status among nations. He left the White House with a reputation as a muddle-headed weakling (and now awaits his revisionist historian, in my view). Obama had better luck managing his predicament after his remark in Strasbourg. He simply retreated into incessant professions of belief. This, too, marks an opportunity foregone. When he endorsed Hillary Clinton at the Democratic convention in 2016, Obama went straight back to Reagan, believe it or not, invoking Winthrop by way of the Great Communicator's "shining city on a hill."

Plus ça change, one might conclude. But this would not be quite right. If Carter and Obama discovered the hard way that exceptionalism remains a precious relic in American politics, they also left a mark on it. We can now speak of hard exceptionalism and a soft alternative. Carter did the spadework, but prior to Obama's presidency, any such distinction was incipient at best. After Strasbourg, Obama proceeded as if Humpty Dumpty could be put back together again. We all know how the old nursery rhyme turns out.

The hard variety derives from Reagan, who drew on Henry Luce's do-what-we-want, where-we-want, how-we-want notion of American preeminence and power. It is subject neither to international law nor, when all the varnish is scraped away, ordinary standards of morality. This is the version of the creed advanced in Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America, the 2015 book by Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney, the former vice-president's daughter. The historical record is unblemished, in their telling. Vietnam was wise, Iraq in 2003 was wise, the use of torture after 2001 was just.

Against this we find counterposed the more humane (if finally more cynical) version of exceptionalism put forward by Obama and many others on what passes, remarkably enough, for "the Left" in American politics. Gone is the Reaganesque jingoism and the whiff of Old Testament righteousness characteristic of conservative renderings. In their place we find "plain and humble people. . .coming together to shape their country's course," as Obama put it at the Philadelphia convention. On the foreign policy side, this is a nation that admits its mistakes while leading the world in pursuit of "shared interests and values" -- a key phrase in the lexicon -- by way of those partnerships Obama mentioned in Strasbourg. America's conduct abroad must be rooted in the same humility characteristic of its people -- the people ever busy shaping the nation's course.

Taken together, these two versions of America as it looks in the mirror are nothing if not reiterations of the post–Civil War binary Du Bois astutely identified -- empire and democracy. In the middle of them sits Donald Trump. Having no use at all for exceptionalism, he is the first president in our modern history simply to shrug it off and survive the judgment. "I don't like the term," Trump said at a fundraising event in 2015. "I don't think it's a very nice term. 'We're exceptional, you're not.'" Whatever else one may think of him, Trump is to be credited on this point. Implicit in his position is the reality that Americans are as subject to history as any other people.

Jake Sullivan, a prominent adviser in the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff at State, voiced a view on the soft side in the January 2019 edition of the Atlantic. "This calls for rescuing the idea of American exceptionalism," Sullivan wrote two years into the Trump presidency, "from both its chest-thumping proponents and its cynical critics, and renewing it for the present time." He then unfurled "a case for a new American exceptionalism as the answer to Donald Trump's 'America First' -- and as the basis for American leadership in the twenty-first century."

Like Kissinger, Sullivan does not seem to understand. Exceptionalism as it has evolved is no longer an idea: it is a belief, and as such it cannot be resuscitated by way of rational thought, no matter how deep its roots in history and how acute the rational thinking. I question, indeed, the efficacy of any foundational creed in need of a salvage job of the sort Sullivan proposes. This is not how religions -- civil, in this case -- work. Nonetheless, soft exceptionalism is now the frontline defense of the notion among Washington's thinking elites. And we can count Sullivan's carefully reasoned essay its most thorough treatise to date.

Sullivan's case is multiply flawed. Soft exceptionalism is finally little different from the hard kind, given the two meet at the horizon. They both rest on the old belief that, uniquely in human history, America manages to combine virtue and power without the former's corruption by the latter. Hegemon or "benevolent hegemon" -- a phrase from the triumphalist 1990s I have always found risibly preposterous -- both versions place America at the pinnacle of the global order, sequestered from others by dint of its "goodness" and "greatness." (Even the Cheneys, père et fille, had the nerve to use these terms.) Hard or soft, they both treat scores of coups, interventions, subterfuge operations, and countless other breaches of international law as deviations from the golden mean, the norm -- even as more than a century's evidence indicates these supposed irregularities have been the norm.

There is a point to be made here that I count more significant than any just listed. Whatever variety of exceptionalism someone may endorse, it will not open us to the rich benefits to be derived from defeat or retreat; as we all know, exceptional America never lost anything and never will. This is one of the creed's two essential purposes. On one hand it is a declaration of permanent victory. On the other it is an amulet marshaled to ward away the doubt and uncertainty that lie at the core of the American character. The contradiction one might find here is merely apparent. Exceptionalism in any form, then, comes to a confinement. It encloses those who profess it within the fantasy of eternal triumph, the hubris attaching to the presumption of never-ending invincibility.

Most of all, exceptionalism traps us in the logic of victors: it renders us certain that we need only to continue as we have, altering nothing. It thus prevents the emancipation of our minds such that we know at last our past as it truly was and can think altogether anew of another kind of future.

In The Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery, Wolfgang Schivelbusch is eloquent in describing the fertility of loss against the barrenness of victory. It is an exceptional (truly so) work. In it he quotes Reinhart Koselleck, the late German historian, to this effect: There is something to the hypothesis that being forced to draw new and difficult lessons from history yields insights of longer validity and thus greater explanatory power. History may in the short term be written by the victors, but historical wisdom is in the long run enriched more by the vanquished.

America's leaders are rarely long on historical wisdom. Among Dick Cheney and Barack Obama and Jake Sullivan and many other noted names, at issue today is one or another form of restoration, nothing more. This arises from the doctrine of exceptionalism itself. It amounts to a cage within which we choose to confine ourselves and wherein we learn nothing -- the conceit being we have nothing to learn. We are the jailer and the jailed, then. And if the twenty-first century has one thing to tell us above any other, it is that we must turn the key, escape our narrow cell, and begin to think and live in ways our claim to exceptionalism has too long rendered inaccessible to us.

In the spring of 1932, Henri Bergson published his final book. He called it The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, "morality" to be taken here to mean (approximately) a society's ethos, how it lives. A quarter century had passed since the French thinker brought out his celebrated Creative Evolution. This last work amounts to an elaboration on the earlier volume's themes.

Once again, Bergson takes up the binaries running through much of his work: "repose" and movement, the closed society and the open, the stable and the dynamic -- the latter in each case driven by his famous élan vital, the natural impulse within us to create and evolve. As in the earlier work, Bergson posits the what could or will be against the what-is.

The distinguishing mark of The Two Sources is its exploration of the "how" of change -- how a society advances from an established state to one newly realized. His answer is surprising, at least to me. Progress is achieved not systematically but creatively. It does not occur as a result of careful bureaucratic planning, one measured step succeeding another. It entails, rather, "a forward thrust, a demand for movement." This requires "at a certain epoch a sudden leap," and there is nothing gingerly about it. Bergson calls this a saltus, an abrupt breach resulting in transformation.

Here is an essential passage in the argument Bergson constructs in The Two Sources:

It is a leap forward, which can take place only if a society has decided to try the experiment; and the experiment will not be tried unless a society has allowed itself to be won over, or at least stirred. . . .It is no use maintaining that this leap forward does not imply a creative effort behind it, and that we do not have to do here with an invention comparable with that of the artist. That would be to forget that most great reforms appeared at first sight impracticable, as in fact they were.

There are a couple of things to note in these lines as we consider the prospect of a postexceptionalist America. One, ordinary Americans -- a critical mass, let us say -- must be open to making the required leap and to the measure of flux -- an interim of instability, even -- this implies. So must our political thinkers, scholars, and policy planners -- altogether our intellectual class. Two, creative advances require creative individuals -- in a phrase, imaginative leaders who can see beyond the closed circle of assumptions that any given society forms. So it is with dynamic leadership. What at first throws us because it appears to be wholly impractical is later on accepted as a new norm. The Declaration's drafters in the summer of 1776 -- Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and others -- serve perfectly well as a case in point. American history gives us numerous other examples. Bergson's thinking is of great use, it seems to me, in any effort to change course -- to redirect American power, in simple terms. But he immediately faces us with questions, two more atop those posed at the start of this essay.

How given are Americans to the "forward movement" Bergson writes of? A good many appear eager, if not desperate, for holistic change, a saltus of our own. For these many, it is a question not of repudiating national aspirations but of abandoning the mistaken course poor interpretations have set us upon. To return to Du Bois's thesis, this constituency now comes to understand that the exceptionalist notion of a virtuous empire and a thriving polity has proven disastrous. Dominance abroad, in other words, must give way to democracy at home (and all the work this implies, some of it restorative, some taken up for the first time). Such a transformation would constitute a truly forward movement.

But America is now a house divided, to note the self-evident. Many of us appear to have lost touch with all that might pass for creative drives. There is much to suggest that seven decades of preeminence have left too many of our leaders incapable of cultivating a reconstituted vision of the nation's future. They persist, instead, in the long-bankrupted pursuit of democracy and empire -- the old, impossible dream. They tend to cling to illusions of moral clarity consolidated during the Reagan years and now proffered by such figures as Dick Cheney and, closer to our moment, John Bolton, until mid-September Trump's astonishingly dangerous national security adviser. Their prominence is not to be overlooked. Their influence continues to keep us from changing anything about our ways of seeing and thinking -- our "morality," the ethos by which we live. Ours seems a closed society, in Bergson's terminology. It is costly indeed to stray beyond the fence posts.

Whether America is any longer capable of authentic change depends in large measure on how we answer the other question a reading of Bergson imposes upon us. Do we Americans have the leaders to inspire us forward, to cut our moorings, to "win us over" to the condition of postexceptionalism? Bergson's thought as to the necessity of gifted leadership (a term he does not actually use) is especially pertinent in the American case, it seems to me. It is perfectly sensible to suggest, as many do, that a fundamental transformation in Americans' understanding of themselves is beyond reach, or that a tremendous shock -- a catastrophic defeat, a deep and sustained depression -- will be required to bring it about. But these are the replies one will always hear within the confines of a static political culture. They admit of no prospect of transcending the what-is. They leave no ground for imagining what a committed leader might accomplish by way of showing America new paths forward. Anyone who doubts this potential should consider the tragic turn the nation took after the three assassinations of the 1960s -- the two Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr. They were leaders of the kind Bergson compares with artists. It would be difficult to overstate the impact their deaths have had on the nation's direction.

For the moment we do not seem to have such leaders. But it is worthwhile considering figures such as Obama (or Carter, for that matter) with this question at one's elbow. I do not wish to overfreight Obama's appearance in Strasbourg very early in his first term, but in that fateful sentence concerning Americans, "Brits," and Greeks lies a hint, surely, of a leader's alternative vision of America's way into the twenty-first century. An attempt was made, suggesting imminence. We are now face-to-face with the pity of Obama's retreat. With it he deprived himself of all chance of greatness -- and Americans of a chance to move beyond their state of "repose." But we also find among us an incipient generation of leaders who stand squarely against our condition of inertia. Tulsi Gabbard, the vigorously anti-imperialist congresswoman from Hawaii, is but one example of this emergent cohort.

The common theme is plain: to remake American democracy and to abandon imperial aspirations are two halves of the same project. This is where we are now with regard to our exceptionalism, in my reading of our time. We arrive at a crucial moment, and there is no place in it for pieties as to the "can do" of the American character. It is difficult to argue that we as a society are prepared for this. But it is nonetheless time -- if, indeed, we are not already late -- to make our leap into a postexceptionalist awareness of ourselves and ourselves among others. It is time to leave something large and defining behind, to put the point another way. We can think of this as shattering the crystal chalice or as simply finding a place for it in museums and in our history texts. It does not matter so long as we determine, by way of a leadership class awakened from its slumber, to live without it. The only plausible alternative is failure -- once again, among ourselves as well as among others.

There are sound reasons to assign our time this magnitude of importance. Abroad, the world tells us nearly in unison that the place the old American faith found in the twentieth century is not open to it in the twenty-first. The near chaos we are responsible for since the events of 11 September 2001 -- notably, but not only, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria -- is of an order the community of nations has come to find unacceptable. While this is increasingly evident -- as is a rising contempt for our gaudy displays of righteousness -- let us avoid a certain mistake here: the message is not "Go home," but its opposite, "Join us -- be among us truly, authentically, entirely." In my experience abroad, most others still detect the good that resides in Americans despite all that is at this point plainly otherwise when judged by the nation's conduct toward others.

At home the intellectual confinements exceptionalist beliefs impose have debilitated us for decades. We are now greatly in need of genuinely new thinking in any number of political and social spheres, even as we deny ourselves permission to do any. Clever restorations, as already noted, will not do. To honor tradition one must add to it. This is done by breaking with it, just as Bergson implied with his artist. Merely to carry tradition forward in imitation is to entomb it, while trivializing ourselves and our agency.

What does "postexceptionalism" mean? How would it manifest? Who would postexceptionalist Americans be? How would Americans understand themselves and account for themselves among others? Would anything be left of us were the mythologies to be scraped away? I began with these questions. They are no simpler than the two just considered. If one has breathed fetid air the whole of one's life, it is not so easy to describe a spring breeze. But there is a long tradition of dissent and dissenters in America -- "exceptionalism's exceptions," as Levering Lewis once termed them. Much of what is pushed to the margins in American history is by no means marginal -- a point our best historians have made many times. In the supposedly far corners of our past we find paths to a future beyond exceptionalism. The lively anti-imperialist movement that arose in the nineteenth century's last years is a relevant case in point. There is also the experience of other nations that have passed through that cycle of trauma and recovery Wolfgang Schivelbusch explored so insightfully. These things are available to us. Fresh air is not so inaccessible as we may be inclined to assume. One draws encouragement, indeed, from the discourses of the Cheneys and, on the other side of the ledger, the Obamas and Sullivans: any question so self-consciously considered is by definition in play.

Among my starting points when considering the idea of postexceptionalism is an imperative that came to me after living and working many years abroad, primarily in Asia. It is simply stated: parity between the West and non-West will be an inevitable feature of our new century. This is already evident providing one knows where to look. To take but one example, one reads little in the American press about the network of alliances now forming among non-Western nations in the middle-income category: between Russia and China, Russia and Iran, China and Iran, India and all of these. Beijing's audaciously ambitious Belt and Road Initiative will multiply such relations many times; they are already a considerable source of influence. American exceptionalism, let us not forget, was born and raised during half a millennium of Western preeminence (taking my date from da Gama's arrival at Calicut in 1498). This era now draws to a close before our eyes. No one's antiquated claim to exceptionalism can survive its passing.

As a corollary, the same point holds within the Atlantic world itself. Europe now struggles for a healthy distance from America after the suffocating embrace of the Cold War decades. If success has so far proven limited, the direction is clear. One of the truths I learned when reporting in Indonesia during the first post-Suharto years, a time when various provinces were demanding autonomy, was that to stay together the Indonesian republic would have to come partially apart. The same will prove so of the West and all who identify as belonging to it. As in Indonesia, there is difference amid similarity, and both must be served.

It will be a postexceptionalist American leadership that accepts these immense dramas with the thought and imagination needed to find opportunities -- as against an almost fantastic variety of "threats" -- in the soil of new landscapes. In the best of outcomes, nostalgia for lost preeminence, our postwar pursuit of totalized security -- these will no longer interest postexceptionalist American leaders. Theirs will be a nation braced to advance into a new time because it is confident of its competence to do so. It will be cognizant of the perspectives of others, a capacity Americans have heretofore found of little use. It will be game, in a word -- aware of its past but never its prisoner. The language of dominance will give way to the necessary language of parity. International law will be our law as it is everyone else's.

And here we come to the essential motivation for us to make our leap -- the sine qua non of it: it must first dawn on us that it is greatly, immeasurably to our advantage to attempt it. This truth has not yet come to us; no leader has led us to it. How little do most of us understand, in consequence, that to abandon our claims to exceptional status will first of all come as an immense unburdening and a relief from our long aloneness in the world?

"The American of the future will bear but little resemblance to the American of the past." I have long admired this observation, even as I wonder whether it is anything more than a wishful thought. It dates to 1902 and belongs to Edwin Seligman, a prominent Progressive Era thinker. Seligman's time was very different from ours, of course, but we can draw connections. He wrote at the first flowering of America's imperial ambition; today we watch as the sun sets. His concern was an evolution in consciousness among Americans. So should we concern ourselves as the future rushes toward us. This is where the path to postexceptionalism must begin -- in our minds.

All of what I have just noted in pencil sketch lies within our reach. None of it is a matter of law or mere policy. It comes to a question of will and of vision, of who we wish to be, of our capacity to reimagine ourselves. But let us not make one of the very errors we would do best to leave behind: what Americans can do and what they will do are two different things. There is no certainty Americans will reach for any of what is available to them. To abandon our claims to exceptionalism is to give up our customary assumption of assured American success. It requires us to accept the difference between destiny and possibility. One does not find abundant signs Americans are yet ready to do this -- not among our leaders, in any case. There seems to be little awareness that the only alternative to the change of course Jimmy Carter favored forty years ago this past summer is decline -- decline not as a fate but as a choice, one made even as we do not know we are making it. "Can America save itself?" Bernd Ulrich, a noted German commentator, wondered in Die Zeit not long ago. It is precisely our question as we look toward a postexceptionalist idea of ourselves. This idea, indeed, was Ulrich's unstated topic. "In principal, absolutely," he replied to his own question. "But certainly not with gradual changes. In terms of global politics and history, it must get off the high horse it has so long ridden. It needs a moderate self-esteem, beyond superlatives and supremacy."

Continued

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