The Libertarian Party presidential candidate makes her case for why a third party is needed to bring the troops home.
The 2016 Republican presidential primary debates revealed a sea change. From 2008 to 2012, then-congressman Ron Paul was routinely booed for his criticism of America’s foreign policy. It was even common to hear Republican office holders, commentators, and activists say they “agreed with Ron Paul on everything but foreign policy.” Yet in 2016, candidate Donald Trump was cheered for calling the Iraq war the biggest blunder in American history.
One would have thought Trump’s victory would have resulted in a major reduction of America’s military presence in the Middle East and Afghanistan. However, three years and 10 months after President Trump was sworn into office, at least 3,000 troops will remain in Iraq at the end of the year if Trump’s troop reductions go into effect. How many troops will remain in Afghanistan depends on how successful the military-industrial complex, and their allies on Capitol Hill and in the media, are at undermining Trump.
How did a candidate who was elected in part on a promise of no more useless, endless wars wind up keeping the warfare machine humming along?
Trump also called for dramatically increasing the military budget, repeating the lie that Obama had decimated the military. But U.S. military spending has continually gone up, not down.
Trump has been more successful at stirring up hostilities with Iran than at withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq. The biggest reason his actions have not matched his campaign rhetoric is that the entire foreign policy infrastructure in D.C. is controlled by pro-war factions. Even a truly non-interventionist Republican or Democrat would likely fail to roll back America’s military presence overseas.
The House versions of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contained provisions designed to block Trump from fulfilling his promise to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
The Senate’s version of the NDAA warned against a “precipitous” withdrawal from Afghanistan. It also expressed concerns about closing any U.S. base located in Europe without offering an alternative, thus putting a monkey wrench in President Trump’s attempt to draw down the number of American troops in Germany.
Even worse, the Senate rejected an amendment by Senator Rand Paul to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Paul’s measure failed by a vote of 60-33.
For all the often-justified handwringing over how the Republican Party has become a “cult of Trump,” the sad truth is, for most Republican representatives and senators, devotion to Trump stops at the water’s edge.
One reason for the GOP’s fidelity to the warfare state is the military-industrial complex’s outsized influence on Capitol Hill. For starters, the defense industry donated $27 million to political campaigns in 2016.
But the main reason military contractors wield clout with many federal lawmakers is their business model. Instead of manufacturing a complete product at one plant, they make components at various plants spread across the country. This means that many representatives and senators have a vested interest in supporting a large military budget—and thus an interventionist foreign policy—because those weapons produce high-paying jobs in their districts and states.
Too many conservative Republicans, who usually denounce stimulus spending bills, claim that throwing money at failed weapons projects like the F-35 creates jobs and helps grow the economy. The truth is that money heaped on the Pentagon creates less than half the number of jobs that the same amount would create if spent by the taxpayers who had earned it.
The defense industry also maintains its influence through generous donations to D.C.-based think thanks. Recipients of these funds produce research papers, op-eds, congressional testimony, and presentations given to congressional staffers that promote an interventionist foreign policy beneficial to their donors’ bottom lines.
Defense contractors’ support for think tanks is not limited to conservatives. Center-left think tanks and foreign policy scholars also receive funding.
This enables the defense industry to control both sides of the foreign policy debate, no matter the election results. The military-industrial complex wins while U.S. troops fight and die in unnecessary, unconstitutional wars. Taxpayers who fund these wars are saddled with debt and high taxes.
And defense contractors are not the only ones funding pro-defense D.C. think tanks. Foreign governments also provide money in exchange for justification of U.S. interventions on behalf of their countries.
The funding given to pro-war think tanks breeds pro-war political operatives who fill presidentially appointed civil service positions and congressional staffs. This is why President Trump has staffed his administration with neocons like John Bolton, who spend their careers promoting the disastrous foreign policy that Trump had promised to reverse.
The Democratic Party is just as welded to the warfare state as are the Republicans, as was shown by the bipartisan effort in Congress to stop President Trump from withdrawing most of the troops from Afghanistan. Further evidence is provided by the presidency of Democrat Barack Obama. His opposition to the Iraq war was a major reason he bested uber-hawks Hillary Clinton and John McCain in 2008. Yet Obama expanded America’s military presence around the world and infamously made a “kill list” of individuals—including American citizens—subject to summary execution without due process.
The modern Democrats’ love for the war party was also shown by their attacks on Representative Tulsi Gabbard for meeting with Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad. By the logic of Gabbard’s critics, John F. Kennedy should never have negotiated a peaceful end to the Cuban missile crisis. They were willing to attack her, even though she’s a down-the-line progressive and a mixed-race military veteran who would seem an ideal presidential candidate for the Democrats.
The Democratic Party is now fielding presidential and vice-presidential candidates who are all in with the war party. Joe Biden was an instigator of the Iraqi war. Senator Kamala Harris recruited her foreign policy advisors for her presidential bid from the Center for a New American Security, which has long pushed Democrats to embrace war.
While I am grateful for pro-liberty, antiwar Republicans such as Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, and, of course, former congressman and 1988 LP presidential candidate Dr. Ron Paul, the fact is that the war party is too embedded in the infrastructure of the two major parties and the D.C. establishment. Neither Republicans nor Democrats will change our disastrous foreign policy.
If we are to adopt a policy of peace, antiwar activists must work outside the two-party system. We should be guided by independent think tanks that are free of the corrosive influence of the military-industrial complex, citizen groups that pressure elected officials to stand up to the warfare state, and alternative parties that are not beholden to the military-industrial complex.
As the Libertarian nominee for president, I am proud to build on the work of former Libertarian presidential candidates Ron Paul and the late Harry Browne to bring the message of peace, prosperity, and liberty to the American people. As I campaign from coast to coast, the reception I have gotten convinces me that the majority of Americans want peace.
If I am elected, I will begin to bring troops home from the Middle East on day one of my presidency. As a member of a party that is not beholden to any part of the military establishment, I will not budge under pressure from the military-industrial-think-tank-media complex. Instead of seeking a “benevolent global hegemony,” I will make America like a giant Switzerland: armed and neutral. Furthermore, I will remove barriers to free trade with all nations, which will reinforce peaceful relations.
Republicans and Democrats cannot deliver peace because they are loyal to special interests that benefit from continual war.
Libertarians, who have been fiercely committed to a non-interventionist policy throughout their party’s 49-year existence, stand ready and eager to deliver the peace and neutrality that Americans want and need.
“If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it.”
– Julius Caesar
The illegal invasion of Libya, in which Britain was complicit and a British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s report confirmed as an illegal act sanctioned by the UK government, over which Cameron stepped down as Prime Minister (weeks before the release of the UK parliament report), occurred from March – Oct, 2011.
Muammar al-Gaddafi was assassinated on Oct. 20th, 2011.
On Sept 11-12th, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyron Woods and Glen Doherty were killed at two U.S. government facilities in Benghazi.
It is officially denied to this date that al-Qaeda or any other international terrorist organization participated in the Benghazi attack. It is also officially denied that the attack was pre-meditated.
On the 6th year anniversary of the Benghazi attack, Barack Obama stated at a partisan speech on Sept 10th, 2018, delivered at the University of Illinois, that the outrage over the details concerning the Benghazi attack were the result of “wild conspiracy theory” perpetrated by conservatives and Republican members of Congress.
However, according to an August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report (only released to the public in May 2015), this is anything but the case. The report was critical of the policies of then President Obama as a direct igniter for the rise of ISIS and the creation of a “caliphate” by Syria-based radical Islamists and al-Qaeda. The report also identified that arms shipments in Libya had gone to radical Islamist “allies” of the United States and NATO in the overthrowing of Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi. These arms shipments were sent to Syria and became the arsenal that allowed ISIS and other radical rebels to grow.
The declassified DIA report states:
“AQI [al-qaeda –iraq] SUPPORTED THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION FROM THE BEGINNING, BOTH IDEOLOGICALLY AND THROUGH THE MEDIA… WESTERN COUNTRIES, THE GULF STATES AND TURKEY ARE SUPPORTING THESE EFFORTS… THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY SUPPORT THE [SYRIAN] OPPOSITION… THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME…” [emphasis added]
Another DIA document from Oct 2012 (also released in May 2015), reported that Gaddafi’s vast arsenal was being shipped from Benghazi to two Syrian ports under the control of the Syrian rebel groups.
Essentially, the DIA documents were reporting that the Obama Administration was supporting Islamist extremism, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
When the watchdog group Judicial Watch received the series of DIA reports through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits (FOIA) in May 2015, the State Department, the Administration and various media outlets trashed the reports as insignificant and unreliable.
There was just one problem; Lt. Gen. Flynn was backing up the reliability of the released DIA reports.
Lt. Gen. Flynn as Director of the DIA from July 2012 – Aug. 2014, was responsible for acquiring accurate intelligence on ISIS’s and other extremist operations within the Middle East, but did not have any authority in shaping U.S. military policy in response to the Intel the DIA was acquiring.
In a July 2015 interview with Al-Jazeera, Flynn went so far as to state that the rise of ISIS was the result of a “willful decision,” not an intelligence failure, by the Obama Administration.
In the Al-Jazeera interview Flynn was asked:
Q: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?
FLYNN: I think the Administration.
Q: So the Administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?
FLYNN: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.
Q: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?
FLYNN: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.
Flynn was essentially stating (in the 47 minute interview) that the United States was fully aware that weapons trafficking from Benghazi to the Syrian rebels was occurring. In fact, the secret flow of arms from Libya to the Syrian opposition, via Turkey was CIA sponsored and had been underway shortly after Gaddafi’s death in Oct 2011. The operation was largely run out of a covert CIA annex in Benghazi, with State Department acquiescence.
This information was especially troubling in light of the fact that the Obama Administration’s policy, from mid-2011 on, was to overthrow the Assad government. The question of “who will replace Assad?” was never fully answered.
Perhaps the most troubling to Americans among the FOIA-released DIA documents was a report from Sept. 16, 2012, which provided a detail account of the pre-meditated nature of the 9/11/12 attack in Benghazi, reporting that the attack had been planned ten days prior, detailing the groups involved.
The report revealed that it was in fact an al-Qaeda linked terrorist group that was responsible for the Benghazi attack. That despite this intelligence, the Obama Administration continued to permit arms-trafficking to the al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels even after the 9/11/12 attacks.
In August 2015, then President Obama ordered for U.S. forces to attack Syrian government forces if they interfered with the American “vetted, trained and armed” forces. This U.S. approved Division 30 Syrian rebel group “defected” almost immediately, with U.S. weapons in hand, to align with the Nusra Front, the formal al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
Obama’s Semantics War: Any Friend of Yours is a Friend of Mine
“Flynn incurred the wrath of the [Obama] White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria… He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out.”
– Patrick Lang (retired army colonel, served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency)
Before being named Director of the DIA, Flynn served as Director of Intelligence for the Joint Staff, as Director of Intelligence for the U.S. Central Command, and as Director of Intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command.
Flynn’s criticisms and opposition to the Obama Administration’s policies in his interview with Al-Jazeera in 2015 was nothing new. In August 2013, Flynn as Director of the DIA supported Gen. Dempsey’s intervention, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in forcing then President Obama to cancel orders to launch a massive bombing campaign against the Syrian government and armed forces. Flynn and Dempsey both argued that the overthrow of the Assad government would lead to a radical Islamist stronghold in Syria, much like what was then happening in Libya.
This account was also supported in Seymour Hersh’s paper “Military to Military” published in Jan 2016, to which he states:
“Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn’t doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. ‘We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.’ The DIA’s reporting, he [Flynn] said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’
[According to a former JCS adviser]’…To say Assad’s got to go is fine, but if you follow that through – therefore anyone is better. It’s the “anybody else is better” issue that the JCS had with Obama’s policy.’ The Joint Chiefs felt that a direct challenge to Obama’s policy would have ‘had a zero chance of success’. So in the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing U.S. intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State [ISIS].” [emphasis added]
According to Hersh’s sources, it was through the militaries of Germany, Israel and Russia, who were in contact with the Syrian army, that the U.S. intelligence on where the terrorist cells were located was shared, hence the “military to military”. There was no direct contact between the U.S. and the Syrian military.
Hersh states in his paper:
“The two countries [U.S. & Syria] collaborated against al-Qaida, their common enemy. A longtime consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command said that, after 9/11, ‘Bashar was, for years, extremely helpful to us while, in my view, we were churlish in return, and clumsy in our use of the gold he gave us. That quiet co-operation continued among some elements, even after the [Bush administration’s] decision to vilify him.’ In 2002 Assad authorised Syrian intelligence to turn over hundreds of internal files on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Germany. Later that year, Syrian intelligence foiled an attack by al-Qaida on the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, and Assad agreed to provide the CIA with the name of a vital al-Qaida informant. In violation of this agreement, the CIA contacted the informant directly; he rejected the approach, and broke off relations with his Syrian handlers.
…It was this history of co-operation that made it seem possible in 2013 that Damascus would agree to the new indirect intelligence-sharing arrangement with the U.S.”
However, as the Syrian army gained strength with the Dempsey-led-Joint Chiefs’ support, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey escalated their financing and arming of al-Nusra and ISIS. In fact, it was “later” discovered that the Erdogan government had been supporting al-Nusra and ISIS for years. In addition, after the June 30th, 2013 revolution in Egypt, Turkey became a regional hub for the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Organization.
In Sept. 2015, Russia came in and directly intervened militarily, upon invitation by the Syrian government, and effectively destroyed ISIS strongholds within Syrian territory. In response, Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 on Nov 24th, 2015 for allegedly entering Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. Days after the Russian fighter jet was shot down, Obama expressed support for Erdogan and stated at a Dec. 1st, 2015 press conference that his administration would remain “very much committed to Turkey’s security and its sovereignty”. Obama also said that as long as Russia remained allied with Assad, “a lot of Russian resources are still going to be targeted at opposition groups … that we support … So I don’t think we should be under any illusions that somehow Russia starts hitting only Isil targets. That’s not happening now. It was never happening. It’s not going to be happening in the next several weeks.”
Today, not one of those “opposition groups” has shown itself to have remained, or possibly ever been, anti-extremist. And neither the Joint Chiefs nor the DIA believed that there was ever such a thing as “moderate rebels.”
Rather, as remarked by a JCS adviser to Hersh, “Turkey is the problem.”
China’s “Uyghur Problem”
Imad Moustapha, was the Syrian Ambassador to the United States from 2004 to Dec. 2011, and has been the Syrian Ambassador to China for the past eight years.
In an interview with Seymour Hersh, Moustapha stated:
“‘China regards the Syrian crisis from three perspectives,’ he said: international law and legitimacy; global strategic positioning; and the activities of jihadist Uighurs, from Xinjiang province in China’s far west. Xinjiang borders eight nations – Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – and, in China’s view, serves as a funnel for terrorism around the world and within China. Many Uighur fighters now in Syria are known to be members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – an often violent separatist organisation that seeks to establish an Islamist Uighur state in Xinjiang. ‘The fact that they have been aided by Turkish intelligence to move from China into Syria through Turkey has caused a tremendous amount of tension between the Chinese and Turkish intelligence,’ Moustapha said. ‘China is concerned that the Turkish role of supporting the Uighur fighters in Syria may be extended in the future to support Turkey’s agenda in Xinjiang. We are already providing the Chinese intelligence service with information regarding these terrorists and the routes they crossed from on travelling into Syria.’ ” [emphasis added]
This view was echoed by a Washington foreign affairs analyst whose views are routinely sought by senior government officials, informing Hersh that:
“Erdoğan has been bringing Uighurs into Syria by special transport while his government has been agitating in favour of their struggle in China. Uighur and Burmese Muslim terrorists who escape into Thailand somehow get Turkish passports and are then flown to Turkey for transit into Syria.”
China understands that the best way to combat the terrorist recruiting that is going on in these regions is to offer aid towards reconstruction and economic development projects. By 2016, China had allegedly committed more than $30 billion to postwar reconstruction in Syria.
The long-time consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command could not hide his contempt, according to Hersh, when he was asked for his view of the U.S. policy on Syria. “‘The solution in Syria is right before our nose,’ he said. ‘Our primary threat is Isis and all of us – the United States, Russia and China – need to work together.’“
The military’s indirect pathway to Assad disappeared with Dempsey’s retirement in September 25th, 2015. His replacement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joseph Dunford, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in July 2015, two months before assuming office, “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia.”
Flynn’s Call for Development in the Middle East to Counter Terrorism
Not only was Flynn critical of the Obama Administration’s approach to countering terrorism in the Middle East, his proposed solution was to actually downgrade the emphasis on military counter-operations, and rather focus on economic development within these regions as the most effective and stable impediment to the growth of extremists.
Flynn stated in the July 2015 interview with Al-Jazeera:
“Frankly, an entire new economy is what this region needs. They need to take this 15-year old, to 25 to 30-year olds in Saudi Arabia, the largest segment of their population; in Egypt, the largest segment of their population, 15 to roughly 30 years old, mostly young men. You’ve got to give them something else to do. If you don’t, they’re going to turn on their own governments, and we can solve that problem.
So that is the conversation that we have to have with them, and we have to help them do that. And in the meantime, what we have is this continued investment in conflict. The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just fuels the conflict. Some of that has to be done, but I’m looking for other solutions. I’m looking for the other side of this argument, and we’re not having it; we’re not having it as the United States.” [emphasis added]
Flynn also stated in the interview that the U.S. cannot, and should not, deter the development of nuclear energy in the Middle East:
“It now equals nuclear development of some type in the Middle East, and now what we want… what I hope for is that we have nuclear [energy] development, because it also helps for projects like desalinization, getting water…nuclear energy is very clean, and it actually is so cost effective, much more cost effective for producing water from desalinization.”
Flynn was calling for a new strategic vision for the Middle East, and making it clear that “conflict only” policies were only going to add fuel to the fire, that cooperative economic policies are the true solution to attaining peace in the Middle East. Pivotal to this is the expansion of nuclear energy, while assuring non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, which Flynn states “has to be done in a very international, inspectable way.”
When In Doubt, Blame the Russians
How did the Obama Administration respond to Flynn’s views?
He was fired (forced resignation) from his post as Director of the DIA on April 30th, 2014. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was briefed by Flynn on the intelligence reports and was also critical of the U.S. Administration’s strategy in the Middle East was also forced to resign in Feb. 2015.
With the election of Trump as President on Nov. 8 2016, Lt. Gen. Flynn was swiftly announced as Trump’s choice for National Security Adviser on Nov. 18th, 2016.
Just weeks later, Flynn was targeted by the FBI and there was a media sensation over Flynn being a suspected “Russian agent”. Flynn was taken out before he had a chance to even step into his office, prevented from doing any sort of overhaul with the intelligence bureaus and Joint Chiefs of Staff, which was most certainly going to happen. Instead Flynn was forced to resign on Feb. 13th, 2017 after incessant media attacks undermining the entire Trump Administration, accusing them of working for the Russians against the welfare of the American people.
Despite an ongoing investigation on the allegations against Flynn, there has been no evidence to this date that has justified any charge. In fact, volumes of exculpatory evidence have been presented to exonerate Flynn from any wrongdoing including perjury. At this point, the investigation of Flynn has been put into question as consciously disingenuous and as being stalled by the federal judge since May 2020, refusing to release Flynn it seems while a Trump Administration is still in effect.
The question thus stands; in whose best interest is it that no peace be permitted to occur in the Middle East and that U.S.-Russian relations remain verboten? And is such an interest a friend or foe to the American people?
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Record temperatures across the West, including a record 121 degrees in southern California by Los Angeles. Massive wildfires charring millions of acres including record large blazes in Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, and California, with the smoke that spread across the entire West. Half of the country is experiencing “severe drought”. Hurricanes ravage the Southeast. Do we need more evidence that climate change is real?
In the face of climate change society must accelerate the storage of atmospheric carbon if we hope to slow and eventually reverse the worse effects of the climate crisis. One of most effective and inexpensive ways store carbon is in our forests (Law et al. 2018).
Yet we have many misinformed politicians, foresters and the US. Forest Service proposing that we log more forests based on the flawed assumptions that timber harvest will slow or preclude large blazes.
The “let cuts more trees” narrative runs directly counter to the climate science which finds that logging is one of the factors contributing significant Green House Gas emissions (GHG) to the atmosphere, intensifying climate warming (Moomaw et al. 2019).
Across the lower 48 states, logging-related emissions are 7.6 times higher than the combined release from all-natural disturbances like fire and insects (Harris et al 2016). Indeed, in Oregon logging contributes to 35% of the state’s emissions—more than all transportation from cars to jets (Koehler 2017).
Even the charred landscapes resulting from large fires store significant amounts of carbon. Keep in mind that what burns in a high severity fire is the fine fuels like needles, cones and small branches. What remains are the boles (snags), roots and in the soil which is where the bulk of all carbon is stored.
Snags left after a fire in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness serve as carbon storage. Photograph by George Wuerthner.
By contrast, when a tree is logged, we remove the large boles, and effectively reduce the carbon storage for decades to centuries.
A logged site that has removed all snags and above ground wood near Darby, Montana. Photo by George Wuerthner.
For instance, one study found that 65% of the forest carbon removed by logging Oregon’s forests in the past 115 years was released to the atmosphere with 16% winding up in landfills, with only 19% stored in long-lived products like wood houses (Hudiburg et al.2019).
Fires and insects are both symptoms of climate-driven natural events (Shafer el al. 2010). The warmer the climate, the more intense and large wildfires and insect outbreaks that will occur. Thus logging, by releasing large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere promotes these events.
Unfortunately, there is a push to log our forests in the name of “forest health” and fire prevention.
Ironically, logging will only release more carbon into the atmosphere exacerbating the very factors that enhance fire spread and insect attacks. Logging effects on carbon storage are long-lived. it takes upwards to 350 years to restore carbon in forests degraded by logging.
Soda Mountain Wilderness, Cascades Siskiyou National Monument, Oregon. Photo by George Wuerthner.
One of the best ways to create carbon storage reserves is to designate more wilderness and other preserves like national parks where logging is prohibited.
Beyond the roadless lands that might qualify for wilderness, we should also immediately begin the proforestation of other federal lands degraded by past logging, roading and forest “deforestation” (Moomaw, et al. 2019).
All large fires are the result of climate/weather driven extreme events. Logging, by releasing more carbon into the air, contributes to these large blazes.
It’s time to get off the “reduce the fuels” bandwagon and begin to focus on making communities safe by reducing the flammability of homes, and by keeping as much carbon in the forest as possible. Logging won’t do that.
Harris, NL et al. 2016. Attribution of net carbon change by disturbance type across forest lands of the conterminous United States. Carbon Balance Manage 11:24. https://cbmjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13021-016-0066-5
Hudiburg, TW, BE Law, WR Moomaw, ME Harmon, JE Stenzel. 2019. Meeting GHG reduction targets requires accounting for all forest sector emissions. Environ. Res. Lett. 14: 095005. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab28bb
Law, BE, TW Hudiburg, LT Berner, JJ Kent, PC Buotte, ME Harmon. 2018. Land use strategies to mitigate climate change in carbon dense temperate forests. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 115(14):3663-3668. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1720064115
Moomaw, WR, SA Masino, EK Faison. 2019. Intact Forests in the United States: Proforestation Mitigates Climate Change and Serves the Greatest Good. Front. For. Glob. Change https://doi.org/10.3389/ffgc.2019.00027
Shafer, Sarah, Mark E. Harmon, Ronald P. Neilson, Rupert Seidl, Brad St. Clair, Andrew Yost. 2010. The Potential Effects of Climate Change on Oregon’s Vegetation. Climate Change.
Is it the elites or the average Americans that hate Russia? Political panic over Russia goes back to times before the Revolution. Watch the video and read more in the Editorial article.
On 19 October the BBC reported that “A Royal Navy officer has been sent home from the U.S. after reporting to take charge of a submarine’s Trident nuclear missiles while unfit for duty. Lt Cdr Len Louw is under investigation at Faslane naval base in Scotland amid reports he had been drinking. Colleagues raised concerns when the weapons engineering officer arrived for work on HMS Vigilant last month.”
It must be made clear that there was no possibility this officer or any other single person could in some way commit the submarine to despatch of its weapons. It simply could not happen. But the squalid little incident did draw attention to the fact that a British nuclear submarine was in the United States for some reason and although the UK’s over-staffed and infamously incompetent Ministry of Defence condescendingly announced that “the Royal Navy does not comment on matters related to submarine operations” it was apparent that the boat was in port at the U.S. submarine base in Kings Bay, Georgia, probably to update and recalibrate technical devices and to load a number of Trident II D5 nuclear missiles.
The UK keeps insisting it has an independent nuclear weapons capability, so it has to be asked why the Royal Navy needs to send submarines to the U.S. to pick up missiles. But as with so many defence matters the government tries to keep the British public in the dark as much as possible. According to the U.S. Naval Institute, “Vigilant is one of four U.K. Vanguard-class boomers that the Royal Navy maintains as part of the British nuclear deterrent force. While the MoD maintains its own nuclear warheads, British and U.S. submarines share a common stockpile of Trident II D5 missiles stored at Kings Bay.”
It can also be asked why the United Kingdom government thinks the country needs nuclear weapons at all.
London’s reluctance to provide information to the public about nuclear weapons is likely based on the government’s desire to disguise the vast expenditure involved. When it is demanded by law that information be provided, it is released on a carefully timed basis. The public relations operators have it all planned, and choose a day when more exciting news can be either expected or manipulated, rather like the FBI’s notification of the preposterous allegations that “Iran and Russia Seek to Influence Election in Final Days” that — surprise, surprise! — were headlines on the same day that former President Obama gave a speech in support of presidential candidate Joe Biden.
But the Brits didn’t succeed in one particular case concerning vast expenditure on systems to replace the existing Trident nuclear missiles on its four submarines. It had been stated in the annual update to Parliament by the Ministry of Defence in December last year that “Work also continues to develop the evidence to support a government decision when replacing the warhead” and there matters rested — until in February Admiral Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, “told the Senate defence committee that there was a requirement for a new warhead, which would be called the W93 or Mk7. Richard said ‘This effort will also support a parallel replacement warhead programme in the United Kingdom’.”
The disclosure forced the underhand of the UK government, and on February 25 Defence News reported Defence Secretary Ben Wallace as stating that “To ensure the Government maintains an effective deterrent throughout the commission of the Dreadnought Class ballistic missile submarine we are replacing our existing nuclear warhead to respond to future threats and the security environment” which is a weasel-worded admission that did not mention the colossal sums of money involved.
(But then, Ben Wallace is no stranger to large sums of money, and during the 2009 revelations by the UK’s Daily Telegraph concerning fiddling and greed on the part of politicians it was revealed that in 2008 he had the fourth highest expenses of any Member of Parliament, claiming £175,523 (on top of his £63,000 salary), including £29,000 a year to employ his wife as a part-time research assistant.)
The cost of replacing Trident missiles by the “life extension programme” of the warheads is not known, as the only estimate available, given in a 2006 government paper on ‘The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent’, is £250 million which is obviously a small fraction of the true amount.
Not only is the UK committing massive sums to replace the weapons systems of existing nuclear submarines, it has embarked on an enormous programme to build four new ones to replace the Vanguard class vessels. A House of Commons research briefing of June 2020 (produced by the House Library whose researchers are not influenced by sleazy political fandangos) states that the programme involves “design, development and manufacture of four new Dreadnought class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) that will maintain the UK’s nuclear posture of Continuous at Sea Deterrence” and that “the cost of the programme has been estimated at £31 billion, including defence inflation over the life of the programme.”
The United Kingdom is in a parlous economic state. The International Monetary Fund assesses that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will hit Britain’s economy much harder than much of the rest of the world, and while nobody can forecast what will befall the UK if it abandons trade negotiations with the European Union, it is certain that there can be no economic benefit from its current policies.
The last thing the UK needs to do is to commit billions of pounds to nuclear weapons. (Although its Members of Parliament do count the pennies on occasions. They’ve just been told they are to get a pay increase of over 3,000 pounds a year, and on October 21 voted overwhelmingly to reject a plan for poor children to receive midday school meals during school holidays in this period of extreme financial insecurity. They’re all heart.)
At the moment, UK nuclear policy is that “we are committed to maintaining the minimum amount of destructive power needed to deter any aggressor” and as noted by Scientists for Global Responsibility, “The UK’s nuclear warheads are carried on Trident missiles – leased from the USA – in nuclear-powered submarines. Currently, eight missiles can be fired, carrying 40 x 100kT warheads, with a few hours’ notice from a submerged submarine. The UK’s total nuclear weapons arsenal consists of 195 warheads.”
There is no doubt that 195 warheads would destroy enormous areas, but there is no point in going into detail, because if the submarines fired off any nuclear weapons at Russia (the only conceivable target), retaliation would ensure that the UK would cease to exist.
Just who does London imagine is being deterred by its expensive nuclear missiles? America is the only western country that would commit to firing nuclear weapons, and there is no possibility that Washington would consult London about its decision. Once Washington went to nuclear war, all that the UK could do would be to pop off its missiles to pile destruction on destruction. That’s not deterrence, and Britain would be well advised to refrain from spending countless billions on a new set of nuclear toys and commit its resources to betterment of its citizens.
Generations of countless Americans have been contaminated and sickened by the first-ever atomic bomb test. The Trinity explosion on July 16, 1945, was carried out in the New Mexico desert. Three weeks later, two A-bombs were dropped on Japan, killing up to 200,000 people.
But the number of American victims caused by radiation fallout from the Trinity test is reckoned to be also imponderably high. The American government conducted the explosion in secret, unbeknownst to the population of New Mexico. That was in spite of warnings from Manhattan Project scientists of a high risk to public health from the extreme radiation. Without a warning to the public and because of a cover-up about the event, countless Americans were exposed to carcinogenic radiation.
In a recent interview with Karl Grossman, New Mexican resident Tina Cordova tells how her community has been campaigning for decades to find out the truth behind the Trinity test and to seek reparations from the federal government. Incredibly, there has never been a federal investigation into establishing the human health impact from that atomic test explosion. But Cordova and her community estimate that the number is huge. She is the fourth generation in her family to have suffered from cancer. Countless others tell of high numbers of infant mortality over the decades and other morbidities that stretch across the entire state of New Mexico.
A combination of factors conspired to wreak a heavy toll on the people of New Mexico. It is one of the poorest states in the U.S., with large numbers of native Americans and Latinos. In selecting the test site for the A-bomb, there was a tacit racism among planners in Washington who viewed the area and its population as expendable. By not warning the people of the explosion, local populations were given no chance to take protective measures such as evacuation or avoiding consumption of contaminated water and food produced from the soil. The people were deceived into continuing their livelihoods as normal following the explosion, drinking contaminated water and breathing radioactive air. The New York Times was instrumental in the cover-up, issuing reports that the explosion was due to a conventional munitions incident. It was only after the horrific bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 an 9 that the people of New Mexico realized what had really happened at the Trinity site. Even then they were kept in the dark by Washington stonewalling about the event for decades to come.
Still another factor that maximized the damage on public health was the rush by the American government to weaponize the A-bomb technology. As Karl Grossman points out, the rationale behind the Manhattan Project was said to be to preempt Nazi Germany. But by July 1945, Nazi Germany was defeated and imperial Japan was on its knees. The inescapable implication is that President Harry Truman and the Pentagon wanted to display the new awesome weapon of mass destruction to the Soviet Union in what would be a chilling demarcation of the postwar globe according to American power.
Truman eagerly awaited the news of the Trinity test while attending the Potsdam allies’ conference in Germany along with Britain’s Winston Churchill and the Soviet Union’s Josef Stalin. On receiving news of the successful explosion, Truman immediately adopted a more strident attitude towards Stalin. In that moment, a new Cold War was born.
Thus, it was Russophobia among the American ruling class that rushed the Trinity A-bomb explosion, even though that event would lead to generations of American citizens stricken with fatal diseases from the fallout. In a very real and frightening way, the U.S. rulers took a decision to “nuke” their own people such was their obsession with confronting the Soviet Union.
Subsequent U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 60s was conducted in remote areas of Nevada and in the Pacific Ocean. Those tests also took a deadly toll on the environment and local populations on Pacific islands.
But the recklessness and callous conditions of the New Mexico test is unparalleled in the toxic exposure it imposed on unsuspecting populations.
The stone-cold willingness to, in effect, bomb its own citizens by the federal government is a shuddering testimony as to the nefarious lengths the planners in Washington were prepared to go in their obsessive Russophobia.
When we survey the relentless fixation today in Washington and the U.S. political class with blaming Russia for all sorts of alleged malign intent, one can easily discern that this endemic Russophobia among America’s rulers has not waned.
The barbarity of what happened in New Mexico 75 years ago is alive and well. If it can be inflicted without apology on American citizens, then what does that say about the danger to the rest of the world?
Paul Craig ROBERTS
The New York Post’s report that the FBI has laptops belonging to Hunter Biden that contain emails showing Hunter and Joe Biden’s use of the Vice Presidency for business deals that amount to influence peddling and money laundering was banned from Twitter, Facebook, and Google. The New York Times, Washington Post and other of the press prostitutes tried to discredit the story with the fake news that it was Russian disinformation to help Trump win the election. National Public Radio refused to mention the story other than to brand it a story that is not really a story, simply a waste of “listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.”  NPR, of course, was all into distractions that wasted readers’ and listeners’ time on Russiagate and Impeachgate and wasted President Trump’s entire term.
The problem with the press prostitutes’ attempted coverup of the Bidens’ crooked dealings is that the FBI has Hunter Biden’s laptops, and both the FBI and the Department of Justice agree with the statement of John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence, that the emails are the real stuff and not a Russian operation to interfere in the November election. 
Even worse for the presstitutes and the Bidens, two former business partners have come forward to verify the emails as authentic.  
The emails contain a list of “key domestic contacts” for the influence peddling scheme. The names on the list are Democrat VP candidate Kamala Harris, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Speaker of the House Dianne Feinstein, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, NY City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and former Virginia governor Terry McCauliffe. 
Whether these high ranking Democrats had agreed or not, I cannot say, but obviously the Biden team thought them corruptible.
The evidence against the Bidens is extremely damaging and is pouring out from Biden associates. 
So there it is out in the open. A Democrat Party and presstitute scum that has spent four years telling lies about President Trump is revealed in all of its sordid corruption. The Democrat Party is a gang of crooks, and the American media is nothing but a propaganda ministry for the Democrat Party dedicated to covering up its crimes.
It is impossible to find an ounce of integrity in the Democrat Party other than Tulsi Gabbard, and she is the party’s shunned member. No integrity exists in the American TV, print, or NPR media other than Tucker Carlson and one or two others at Fox News.
NPR is the worst of the lot. NPR pretends to be a “member supported” radio station, but it is nothing but another commercial station. NPR is so dishonest that it presents its commercial advertisements as if they are charitable donations in the same tone of voice and words—“with support from”—that NPR uses for its support from foundations. Somehow NPR’s member supporters are too dense to comprehend that if NPR will attempt to pass off a commercial advertiser as a charitable donor, NPR cannot be trusted to objectively convey news.
If Americans elect Democrats next month, they will have turned their government over to a criminal gang and will have empowered the most corrupt media—a.k.a. Ministry of Propaganda—in the history of the world. The United States will never recover from such a devastating mistake.
See also: zerohedge.com
Indian Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and various Muslim extremist political leaders of Pakistan represent the sum of all fears expressed by leaders of princely states and their governments at the dawn of India and Pakistan in the late 1940s. Secular political leaders, including the Indian National Congress (INC) leader Jawaharlal Nehru and All-India Muslim League leader Mohammed Ali Jinnah, claimed there was nothing to worry about since both majority Hindu India and majority Muslim Pakistan would be secular republics governed by leaders committed to democratic rule, not by dictates from Hindu nationalists or Muslim sectarians.
As British India began moving toward independence after World War II, there were those in Britain and on the Indian sub-continent who argued that Britain had established international treaties with the various princely states and that Britain, by having overall responsibility for the defense and foreign affairs of these states, could not automatically transfer that role to the newly-independent Dominions of Hindustan and Pakistan. However, war-weary Britain was in no mood to continue to militarily protect these monarchical protectorates. The British government, in a move that continues to have ramifications in Kashmir and northeastern India, transferred control over the princely protectorates to the new dominions of India and Pakistan.
Nehru and the INC argued that granting independence to the individual Indian princely states would lead to the “Balkanization” of India. However, why should the Indian sub-continent have been any different than Africa? After all, Africa saw the emergence of small independent kingdoms in Lesotho, Rwanda, Burundi, Swaziland, and Zanzibar. In the 1930s, Indian independence leader Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi was quite content with the prospect that forward-thinking democratically-inclined royal states could rule themselves. However, as the INC began subscribing to the socialist tendency within its ranks, the princely states were put on notice that they would be forced to join an Indian federation with the same degree of autonomy they enjoyed within British India.
The INC convinced the post-war British viceroy, Viscount Mountbatten, that the partition of the sub-continent between India and Pakistan should be the last partition into independent states. It also helped the cause of an all-inclusive Indian union that Nehru had another line of communication to Mountbatten via Edwina Mountbatten, the viceroy’s wife. It was no secret that Nehru had been engaged in an ongoing affair with the Lady Mountbatten.
The rise to power in a united India of Hindu nationalist leaders like Modi was the nightmare of the leaders of the royal states of India. Modi’s political ascendancy to prime minister was fueled by anti-Muslim agitation he promoted among radical Hindus in his native Gujarat, where he served as chief minister prior to heading the Indian government. Some Indian princely states favored remaining totally independent of either India or Pakistan. Others favored forming a union of princely states tethered neither to India nor Pakistan. Twenty-two such states, including Gwalior and Indore, formed the Malwa Union.
Where Muslim rulers governed, Hindu extremists, the ideological forbearers of Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – which adheres to Hindu rights and a liberalized free-market economy stance – charged that Muslim leaders were nothing more than agents of Pakistan. Muslim leaders like Sir Hamidullah Khan, the Nawab of Bhopal, who fought alongside British forces in North Africa’s Battles of Keren and El Alamein, was fearful of his state’s domination by Hindu nationalists, some of whom, like Subhas Chandra Bose and his followers, were allied with Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan during the war.
In homage to the Indian pro-Nazis and pro-Japanese Hindus, Modi has been involved in a major project to rehabilitate Bose as a national hero of India. Modi has also praised Donald Trump, the closest the United States has seen to a fascist president throughout its entire history.
It appears that the fears of Sir Hamidullah Khan about Bhopal, long a center of Buddhist culture, being ruled by a Hindu nationalist India ultimately proved to be warranted. The Bhopal monarchy was abolished on June 1, 1949 when it became the State of Bhopal ruled by an Indian bureaucrat appointed by the president of India. In 1956, Bhopal lost its identity when it was merged with Madhya Bharat state. In 1984, Bhopal was the scene of an horrific Union Carbide chemical disaster that killed as many as 16,000 and injured at least 558,000. Unregulated actions of corporations, foreign and domestic, is a major guiding principle of Modi’s BJP.
Some princely states, tiny Cochin, for example, maintained a Cabinet answerable to an elected legislature and Indore had been heading in that same direction. The state of Baroda had instituted social legislation that was superior to that being proposed by either the INC or Muslim League. Baroda, Bikaner, and Rewa had functioning prime ministers answerable to democratic legislative assemblies. Fifteen of the principalities maintained their own postal systems. Others had their own coinage. The Gaekwar of Baroda was one of the world’s wealthiest men.
Popular sentiment against joining India was also strong in Hyderabad, governed by the Nizam, ruled by Nizam Osman Ali Khan, and Travancore, ruled by a Maharajah. The Prime Minister of Travancore, Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Ayer, declared that Travancore intended to become independent of both Britain and India, regardless of the pressure applied by the pro-INC Travancore State Congress. In 1948, the Nizam of Hyderabad, a Muslim and a close ally of Britain in World War II, appealed to both the United Nations and the International Court of Justice to save his nation from an imminent Indian invasion. Hyderabad’s case had the support of Pakistan, Argentina, and Egypt. The appeal was not successful. On September 13, 1948, Indian forces invaded Hyderabad in Operation Polo. The Indians met little resistance, Prime Minister Mir Laiq Ali was arrested by the Indian troops, and the Nizam was forced to sign an agreement that left him as head of state of what became an Indian constituent state. The Nizam was also forced to repudiate his appeals to the UN and International Court of Justice.
Indian troops put down by force a revolt of the Hindu Jat people of the princely state of Bharatpur, who did not want to be merged with the states of Alwar, Dholpur, and Karauli into the United State of Mataya.
In 1943, Leopold Amery, the British Secretary of State for India, told an audience at London’s Overseas Club, at which Maharajah Jam Sahib of Nawanagar was also a speaker, that the princely rulers of India were “not merely, as is sometimes suggested, museum pieces reproducing the splendor and chivalry and also perhaps the casualness of the Middle Ages . . . They are responsible rulers of territories, some of them equal in population and extent to major European nations, and their responsibilities are by no means small. Their primary responsibility is the good governance of their own people . . .”
Two rulers of the Rajput border states in western India, Maharajah Hanwant Singh of Jodphur and Maharawal Jawahir Singh of Jaisalmer – their nations located between the newly-partitioned India and Pakistan – saw some utility in having their kingdoms remain as neutral buffer states between India and Pakistan. Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III, the Muslim Nawab of Junagadh, a primarily Hindu border state, opted to join Pakistan with the support of his dewan or prime minister, Shah Nawaz Bhutto. However, the Hindu majority revolted and in a plebiscite the people opted to join India. The Nawab fled to Pakistan. Dewan Bhutto’s son, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, became prime minister of Pakistan. Zulfiqar was later executed by a military tribunal. His daughter, Benazir Bhutto, also became prime minister. She was later assassinated. The Muslim Nawab of Tonk, the Muslim leader of a Rajputana princely state, opted to merge with India.
The failure of the British to grant independence to the Sikh states of Patiala, Kapurthala, Jind, Faridkot, Malerkotla, Nalagarh, Kalsia, and Nabha as the Phulkian Union would later serve as a point of contention that Sikhs were not given the same independence were the Hindus and Muslims upon partition of India. There was mild resistance to joining either Hindustan or Pakistan from states like Bikaner and Mysore, as well as the Punjab Hill States. Similarly, the large Christian minorities of Travancore and Cochin feared the ultimate direction of Hindu rule. Later, that would be manifested in deadly attacks by Hindu radicals on Christian churches.
The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, ruled by a Muslim Maharajah, opted to accede to India with guarantees of special autonomy guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Although that guarantee was recognized by all previous Indian prime ministers, INC and BJP, alike, Modi abrogated it and turned the state into an Indian union territory, abolishing the state government in the process. Had India and Pakistan permitted the continued sovereignty of the western border states, they could have served as safety valves between the two nuclear-armed nations. However, even the Himalayan border states separating India and China – Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh, and Nepal – have not fared very well. India invaded and annexed the Kingdom of Sikkim in 1975 and Nepal, which became a federal republic after abolishing its monarchy, and the Kingdom of Bhutan remain wary buffer states on guard against Indian expansionism. As part of Modi’s abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, the largely Buddhist region of Ladakh was made a union territory.
Both India and Pakistan underestimated the determination of royal leaders in the remote areas of the northwestern part of British India to be left alone by Britain, India, and Pakistan. Even prior to the outbreak of World War II, the Faquir of Alingar and the Nawab of Dir fought relentlessly against British land and air forces. This initial resentment by the tribal leaders of the Northwest Frontier Hindu Kush region, including the leaders of the princely states of Amb, Chitral, and Dir, as well as the Wali of Swat, to accede to Pakistani demands would continue to inflame the political-religious situation in modern times, such as when the region became host to various Islamist extremists, including Al Qaeda.
Like India, Pakistan also dissolved the sovereignty of its ten princely states even though Jinnah had supported the princely states opting for independence upon partition of India. The first state to experience pressure was the largest, Bahawalpur, which saw its entire government, including the Amir, who claimed direct descendance from the Prophet Muhammad, dismissed by the central government of Pakistan. The dissolution of the princely states of Khairpur, Las Bela, Kharan, Makran, and Khanate of Kalat soon followed.
Many of the states of northeast India, where local inhabitants joined British forces in repelling the Japanese invasion in the war, felt slighted when their legitimate demands for independence were ignored by Mountbatten and the British Colonial Office. These states included Manipur, Tripura, Nagalim, and Cooch Behar.
Successive Indian and Pakistani governments moved to obliterate any vestiges of the princely states. Small states, including Bilbari and its population of 27, were relegated to the history books in short order. In 1961, India moved to arrest and strip the Maharajah of Bastar of his royal titles. Maharajah Gajapati Pravin Chandra Bhanj Deo was found to have been in contact with the rulers of other former princely states and attempted to form an alliance to demand the restoration of their principalities. The people of Bastar were aboriginal tribesman with extreme loyalty to their maharajah.
One world leader saw some unfairness in what Nehru and his Congress Party had done to the princely rulers. In March 1962, the First Lady of the United States, Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of President John F. Kennedy, made it a point to spend part of her visit to India with five Indian princes and two princesses representing the former princely states of Mewar, Bikaner, Kotah, and Udaipur. The meetings represented JFK’s pointed jab at Nehru, who did not mask his dislike of Indian royalty.
One thing that was not endemic among the rulers of the princely states was religious extremism. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the current prime minister of India and his most avid supporters and the radical Islamist political leaders of Pakistan.
Noam Chomsky says that the OPCW’s cover-up, under US pressure, of a Syria chemical weapons probe raises “very severe suspicions.”
In his first public comments on the OPCW’s Syria cover-up scandal, Noam Chomsky criticizes the chemical watchdog for suppressing, under US pressure, evidence that undermined the pretext for the US-led bombing of Syria in April 2018. The censorship recently extended to the UN Security Council, where the US, UK, and France blocked former OPCW Director General José Bustani from testifying in support of the inspectors whose findings were kept from the public.
“What happened certainly arouses very severe suspicions… The United States and its allies want the evidence provided by some of the top inspectors to be banned,” Chomsky says. “We won’t discuss it, we won’t see if they’re right or wrong, we’ll just ban it. Well it tells a reasonable person something: they want to ensure that it’s not discussed, meaning they have no confidence in their own conclusions, meaning the US bombing of Syria was undertaken on false presences. Whether their report is correct or not, I have no judgment. But what we do know is the United States and its allies don’t want it discussed… And the OPCW is capitulating to this, which is pretty shocking.”
Guest: Noam Chomsky, linguist, author and political dissident.
This is an excerpt of a longer interview with Noam Chomsky. Watch it in full here.
AARON MATÉ: Another issue that speaks to the U.S. trying to silence defiance on the world stage has to do with this scandal unfolding at the OPCW. Last week at the UN Security Council, the US and its allies voted to block José Bustani — the OPCW’s first Director General — from speaking. He had come to testify in support of two OPCW inspectors who challenged the cover-up of their investigation in Syria. They found evidence that pointed to this attack — this alleged attack in Douma in April 2018 — being staged on the ground, and not carried out by the Syrian government. Their findings would have undermined the rationale for the US-led bombing of Syria under Trump that same month. [But] their evidence was censored.
So Bustani came to speak in support of them but the US and their allies blocked him from speaking. You’ve previously signed a petition in support of these inspectors. Just with the few moments we have I’m wondering your thoughts on why this story is important and why you think these inspectors should be heard
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well what happened certainly arouses very severe suspicions. The OPCW came out with a report blaming Syria for a chemical attack. Reporters like Robert Fisk and others thought it was pretty shady at the time, but didn’t know.
Then came the bombshell. Some of their leading investigators – top ones — came out and said that their own analyses undermined the OPCW reports and that they were being silenced. Okay, that asks the question. Then comes a long series of efforts to silence them up to what you just described.
The United States and its allies want the evidence provided by some of the top inspectors to be banned. We won’t discuss it, we won’t see if they’re right or wrong, we’ll just ban it.
Well it tells a reasonable person something: they want to ensure that it’s not discussed, meaning they have no confidence in their own conclusions, meaning the US bombing of Syria was undertaken on false presences. Okay, that’s got to be covered up.
Whether their report is correct or not, I have no judgment. But what we do know is the United States and its allies don’t want it discussed. They don’t want the evidence discovered by the some of their top inspectors to be looked at. And the OPCW is capitulating to this, which is pretty shocking, because they’ve been trusted on other things. If they’re going to capitulate on this why should they be trusted on anything else?
AARON MATÉ: And the irony too of them blocking José Bustani who, 18 years ago, was ousted [at the OPCW] under pressure from the Bush administration because he stood in the way of the Iraq war.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Exactly. Some more power plays. [Mike] Pompeo has carried it to new heights than what he just carried off at the Security Council. But it’s not new — you’re right, it goes far back in U.S. policy.
Wolfgang Munchau of Euro Intelligence has been suggesting recently that the EU is making mistakes born from listening only to its own (like-minded) echo chamber. Munchau was referring to how – when Boris Johnson had sought for a deal “to be in sight” by this month’s EU summit, he was met with disdain. The Council said not only was there ‘no deal in sight’, but that there would be no acceleration of negotiations, and furthermore stuck rigidly to its three red-line, ‘non-negotiables’.
Macron haughtily afterwards stated that the UK had to “submit” to the bloc’s “conditions” – “We didn’t choose Brexit”.
To which Boris tartly retorted: ‘There’s no point then in talking’.
Munchau wryly noted that the biggest risk to any deal “is when you keep telling yourself that the other side needs ‘it’ more than you do”. Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, then made clear what the Council imagines ‘it’ to be: It is the EU’s majestic “huge and diversified markets”.
“The EU has a month to disabuse Emmanuel Macron of this intellectually lazy assertion. The EU should not base its negotiating strategy on [the]notion that Johnson will fold: Maybe he will, maybe not”, Munchau observed.
Well, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov clearly shares Munchau’s general analysis. Speaking at Valdai last week, Lavrov said, “When the European Union is speaking as a superior, Russia wants to know, can we do business with Europe?”
“… Those people in the West who are responsible for foreign policy and do not understand the necessity of mutually respectable conversation – well, we must simply stop for a while to communicate with them. Especially since Ursula von der Leyen states that geopolitical partnership with current Russia’s leadership is impossible. If this is the way they want it, so be it”, [he concluded].
Notably however, it was not Boris Yeltsin who made the greatest efforts to achieve Russia’s integration into the European space, but President Putin, during his first term in the early 2000s, until at least 2006. What Lavrov indirectly was acknowledging is how bad things have become. In effect, he simply stated what everyone already knew; namely, that the old framework for Russian-EU relations no longer exists. What’s there to talk about?
This is no small matter. If Merkel and the EU have shifted to integrating the Union, as a higher priority than attending to its relations with Russia, then all the old anti-Russian prejudices of East Europe – principally those of Poland – must be assuaged. This is what is happening, and it means the solidifying of Europe as ‘up and against’ Russia, China and their strategic partners. And with Germany again aspiring to its earlier prominence in and over Europe, tensions with Russia ( and therefore with China), will grow. Europe will be self-defining as the middle between two antagonistic poles to the East and West – a ‘friend’ of neither.
And – coincidentally, or not – on 14 October (a day later), President Xi symbolically visited, a micro-chip factory, and said that China will win the tech war, and will lead the world in multilateralism. Secondly, on the same day, President Xi visited a Marine Base, calling on the Chinese military to “put all (their) minds and energy on preparing for war”. China does not want war, he emphasised, but has accepted that it may happen. And finally, at Shenzhen economic zone’s 40th anniversary, Xi indicated that global changes are afoot: The status quo cannot continue, and “sometimes one needs to speak forcefully for the West to listen”.
In his own more muted way, President Xi was simply echoing Lavrov – underlining that the earlier framework for China-western relations also no long exists. This was implicit too when he said that he wanted China’s new stance to be endorsed by the CCP Plenum at the end of October, so that no-one could impute to China some policy ‘play’ towards the incoming U.S. President.
It seems there is a very clear message here for the EU. But are they listening? Whilst Europe does have ‘cards’ to play, it is hubris to assume that all will ‘submit’ to European ‘conditions’ and values, just to avoid losing access to its markets. Yes, indeed there is a large European ‘market’, but it has some very obvious lacunae too – No cloud platforms; little investment in telecoms and 5G (particularly in Germany); no security of energy supply at an affordable cost; and has no social media platforms to rival either those of the U.S. or China. China has the money and the know-how which the U.S. cannot replace.
Europe does have pockets of expertise (such as in AI and aerospace), but no Big Tech. And in terms of spending on Tech R & D, the EU is a minnow. Europe badly needs Chinese (and Russian) collaboration in Tech to participate in the ‘New Economy’, yet the U.S. wants the EU to sever completely from Chinese and Russian technology.
This the point: The U.S. currently is concerting a full-spectrum strategy to isolate and weaken China and Russia. This is nothing new. It is a reprise both of the long-running ‘Anglo’ vendetta against Russia, and an attempt to try to extend Pompeo’s anti-China ‘Clean Network’ and ‘Clean Path’ policies to Europe. The term ‘clean’, of course, means ‘lock out’ of all Chinese tech – complete exclusion. The U.S. is making a big ‘ask’ of Europe – living as it does under the shadow of recession. Nonetheless, it is likely that Europe will (mostly) comply.
But viewed from 180° – from the Russian and Chinese perspective – their limited and tense relationship with the U.S. is unlikely to improve, whomsoever wins next month in Washington. The U.S. animus against Russia will continue irrespective. And as for Beijing, were Biden to win (an old foe of Huawei), China expects little change, beyond revised tactics. Biden is thought by Beijing likely to use multilateralism more in order to rally U.S. allies to form a United Front against China, than as a genuine commitment to taking Europe’s views into consideration. Obama’s Victoria Newland neatly expressed her then-Administration’s view (in respect to Ukraine): “F**K the EU!”.
Is it realistic that Germany and Europe will resist U.S. pressures? Merkel still wants NordStream 2, sure. And Germany notably has failed to invest in telecoms – and needs Huawei. Other key Tech (and the finance to support it) is available only from China. There are no substitutes. Yet, the Euro-élites’ hatred and loathing for Trump, and their conviction of a forthcoming Biden victory, will likely spur them to try and recreate the multilateral order with Washington at its head, were the Democrats to win. This means pressures on Europe to adopt an anti-Russian and anti-China stance may grow and become irresistible. The paradox is that the U.S. nonetheless will probably still view Europe as a ‘access-limited’, regulated market and trade threat.
Is it surprising then that these states – Russia and China – have come to their ‘we have had enough’ moment? They have had it with Europeans’ moralising about their values, and believing that everyone will ‘fold’ in the face of the threat of exclusion from Europe’s market.
China is now the world’s biggest economy (in PPP terms). Russia and Central Asia are already compatible with Chinese technology. China has already established this as ‘facts on the ground’. Politics will follow in its wake. China and Russia are indeed likely to win the Tech war (sooner, rather than later). Can any trade block really the afford the moral ‘superiority’ dividend of standing aloof and ‘above’ this other “huge and diversified” market?
Tom Stevenson, an investment director at Fidelity International, writing in The Telegraph, points out that the pandemic’s adverse effects have been significantly greater in Europe and the Americas, both north and south, than in China:
“Despite accounting for nearly 60pc of the global population, Asia has had less than 15pc of Covid-related deaths this year. Europe, with less than 10pc of the world’s people, accounts for nearly a third of all deaths. Same story in north America. Third quarter GDP figures from China will show how this materially better pandemic performance is showing up in economic data. First in, first out and a much steeper recovery path, too. Credit Suisse thinks that by the end of next year, China’s economic output will be 11pc above its pre-virus level, while the U.S., Europe and Japan will still be catching up.
“Coronavirus has caused some fundamental changes in the way that businesses and whole industries now operate. In particular, global supply chains are being replaced by a more regional approach, which has reduced Asia’s dependence on the health of Europe and the U.S. Today around 60pc of all trade in Asia happens within the region. The big growth in our dependence on technology and the increasing digitisation of the economy also plays to China’s strengths”
It is insanity. On the one hand, the EU doggedly is following the U.S. in applying sanctions on Russia (even when France and Germany know the U.S. allegations on which these are based (the alleged Navalny poisoning) to be false); it is complicit in trying to unbalance the situation near Russia’s borders; and then further demands to impose Europe’s values on others’ trade with Europe.
And at the same time, they expect China and Russia to continue as if nothing is awry, and to save them from bankruptcy. Who needs whom the most? Is anyone listening?
The security services put an extraordinary amount of media priming effort into explaining why the alleged novichok attack on the Skripals had a delayed effect of several hours, and then failed to kill them. Excuses included that it was a cold day which slowed their metabolisms, that the chemical took a long time to penetrate their skins, that the gel containing the novichok inhibited its operation, that it was a deliberately non-fatal dose, that rain had diluted the novichok on the doorknob, that the Skripals were protected by gloves and possibly only came into contact in taking the gloves off, or that nerve agents are not very deadly and easily treated.
You can take your pick as to which of those convincingly explains why the Skripals apparently swanned round Salisbury for four hours after coming into contact with the novichok coated doorknob, well enough to both drink in a pub and eat a good Italian lunch, before both being instantaneously struck down and disabled at precisely the same time so neither could call for help, despite being different sexes, ages and weights. Just as the chief nurse of the British army happened to walk past.
So now let us fast forward to Alexei Navalny. Traces of “novichok” were allegedly found on a water bottle in his hotel room in Tomsk. That appears to eliminate the cold and the gloves. It also makes it possible he ingested some of the “novichok”. I can find no suggestion anywhere it was contained in a gel. So why was this deadly substance not deadly?
There seems no plain allegation of where Navalny came into contact with the “novichok”. Assuming he spent the night in his hotel room, then the very latest he can have come into contact with the deadly nerve agent would be shortly before he left the room, assuming he then subsequently touched the bottle before leaving. This is true whether the bottle was the source or he just touched it with novichok on his hands. After poisoning with this very deadly nerve agent – which Germany claims is “harder” than other examples, he then checked out of the hotel, went to the airport, checked in for his flight, had a cup of tea and boarded the flight, all before being taken ill. This after contact with a chemical weapon allegedly deadlier than this:
Which of course is aside from all the questions as to why the Russians would use again the poison that was ineffective against the Skripals, and why exactly the FSB would not have swept and cleaned up the hotel room after he had left. All that is even before we get to some of the questions I had already asked:
Further we are expected to believe that, the Russian state having poisoned Navalny, the Russian state then allowed the airplane he was traveling in, on a domestic flight, to divert to another airport, and make an emergency landing, so he could be rushed to hospital. If the Russian secret services had poisoned Navalny at the airport before takeoff as alleged, why would they not insist the plane stick to its original flight plan and let him die on the plane? They would have foreseen what would happen to the plane he was on.
Next, we are supposed to believe that the Russian state, having poisoned Navalny, was not able to contrive his death in the intensive care unit of a Russian state hospital. We are supposed to believe that the evil Russian state was able to falsify all his toxicology tests and prevent doctors telling the truth about his poisoning, but the evil Russian state lacked the power to switch off the ventilator for a few minutes or slip something into his drip. In a Russian state hospital.
Next we are supposed to believe that Putin, having poisoned Navalny with novichok, allowed him to be flown to Germany to be saved, making it certain the novichok would be discovered. And that Putin did this because he was worried Merkel was angry, not realising she might be still more angry when she discovered Putin had poisoned him with novichok
There are a whole stream of utterly unbelievable points there, every single one of which you have to believe to go along with the western narrative. Personally I do not buy a single one of them, but then I am a notorious Russophile traitor.
The eagerness of the Western political establishment to accept and amplify nonsensical Russophobia is very worrying. Fear is a powerful political tool, politicians need an enemy, and still more does the military-industrial complex that so successfully siphons off state money. Many fat livings depend on the notion that Russia poses a serious threat to us. The nonsense people are prepared to believe to maintain that fiction give a most unpleasant glimpse into the human psyche.
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On October 17th, a document in the case of USA v. Michael T. Flynn was docketed (placed onto the court’s calendar for consideration), which could free Mr. Flynn, and which might even lead to a transformation of the American criminal-justice system.
The legal case against Flynn cannot be truthfully understood unless and until the political battle that motivated it is adequately described:
Flynn had been the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under U.S. President Barack Obama until 2014, when Obama acrimoniously forced him out. Flynn then served for only the first 22 days of Donald Trump’s Presidency as the new U.S. National Security Advisor. The FBI, which still remained headed by the Obama appointee, James Comey, forced Flynn to quit on 13 February 2017. Comey wanted Flynn to testify against the new President — he wanted Flynn to say that in 2016 the Trump campaign had been conniving with the Russian Government.
(Here’s some background on the origin of that — this take-down of Flynn wasn’t against only Trump; it was also against Flynn himself, and here is why: Flynn in August 2012 had warned Obama against arming the resistance to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and predicted that arming them would likely result in Islamic extremists, allies of Al Qaeda, running the country, if the operation against Assad succeeded. Flynn advised Obama instead to work with Russia against that outcome. Obama ignored his advice, and fired Flynn in 2014, when Obama’s hostility toward Russia had already become public, due to Ukraine’s having turned against Russia in February 2014 and Obama’s blaming Russia for that. Although Obama was, in 2012, privately indicating to Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev that if re-elected, Obama would soften America’s opposition toward Russia, Obama was actually planning to do the exact opposite, and he was even planning to take over Ukraine and expel Russia from its largest naval base, which was in Crimea which was in Ukraine. Flynn didn’t know that Obama’s public assertions about a “reset” to reduce tensions with Russia were only lies. Flynn had believed they were sincere. On the morning of 10 November 2016, just after Trump’s election-victory on November 8th, Trump met with Obama for 90 minutes privately in the Oval Office, and Obama warned Trump not to bring Flynn into his Administration. Trump ignored Obama’s warning. When Flynn was briefly serving as President Trump’s National Security Advisor, Flynn recommended to Trump a comprehensive global peace plan, which would have involved defusing the Middle East, transitioning away from fossil fuels, eliminating sanctions against Russia, and working with Russia to un-do Obama’s 2014 anti-Russian coup in Ukraine. So: the anti-Russian Obama intensely wanted to remove Flynn from the Trump Administration. Removing Flynn was removing the biggest threat against continuing Obama’s intensification of the Cold War, which intensification was Obama’s biggest achievement for America’s military-industrial complex or “MIC”. Trump would then be surrounded only by Cold-Warriors, assets of firms such as Lockheed Martin, the owners of America’s MIC, the Deep State, which controls the top level of the U.S. federal Government in both of the political Parties, which persons have now become America’s permanent government. Taking down Flynn was an important step toward preserving Obama’s legacy — his solidification of the Deep State’s control. Furthermore, Comey’s main lifetime income has been the tens of millions of dollars he has received via the revolving door between his serving the federal Government and his serving firms such as Lockheed Martin. For these people, restoring, and intensifying, and keeping up, the Cold War, is a very profitable business, not merely a matter of serving their friends, who are similarly engaged.)
Apparently, the FBI’s Comey didn’t, at the very start of Trump’s Presidency, feel that a winnable case could be presented against Flynn. On 23 January 2017, the Washington Post bannered “FBI reviewed Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit”, and reported that,
The FBI in late December reviewed intercepts of communications between the Russian ambassador to the United States and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn — national security adviser to then-President-elect Trump — but has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government, U.S. officials said.
The calls were picked up as part of routine electronic surveillance of Russian officials and agents in the United States, which is one of the FBI’s responsibilities, according to the U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss counterintelligence operations.
However, soon, Comey changed his mind, and he apparently reversed his opinion about whether a winnable case against Flynn existed. (Perhaps this change was due to the increasing frictions between Comey and Trump, which caused Trump to fire Comey on 9 May 2017. Comey might have been disappointed at not being retained into the new Administration. Eight days later, on May 17th, the crescendo of Democratic Party and news-media criticisms against the President for doing that, resulted in the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing Comey’s friend Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate whether Trump had been conniving with Russia’s Government.)
For some reason, Flynn, though he was the former head of the DIA, either didn’t know that “routine electronic surveillance of Russian officials and agents in the United States … is one of the FBI’s responsibilities,” or else he didn’t think that when he was speaking to Russian officials, there was anything illegal in it or in what he was saying in those conversations. These conversations were taking place less than a month before he was to become America’s new National Security Advisor, and everyone knew that Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, Flynn’s immediate predecessor in that capacity, was rushing to make as difficult as possible the types of changes that Flynn — and also Trump — were advocating, in regard to policies toward Russia. The entire Obama Administration were then in overdrive to prevent any such policy-changes. For example, on 29 December 2016, the Washington Post bannered “Obama administration announces measures to punish Russia for 2016 election interference”, and reported that, “Taken together, the sanctions and expulsions announced Thursday were the most far-reaching U.S. response to Russian activities since the end of the Cold War.”
The WP itself might have helped to bring about that change. Their columnist, David Ignatius, whom even the Establishmentarian Democratic Party blogger Marcy Wheeler acknowledged to be “a mouthpiece for the IC [Intelligence Community] (and especially CIA)”, headlined on 12 January 2017, “Why did Obama dawdle on Russia’s hacking?” and Ignatius posed some questions that turned out to be prophetic about the Democratic Party’s subsequent handling of these matters:
“Question 1: Did Trump’s campaign encourage Russia’s alleged hacking to hurt his rival Hillary Clinton and help him, and does Russia have any leverage over him?”
“Question 2: Why did the Obama administration wait so long to deal with Russia’s apparent hacking?”
“Question 3: What discussions has the Trump team had with Russian officials about future relations?”
In relation to #3, he reported that:
According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions? The Logan Act (though never enforced) bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about “disputes” with the United States.
Regarding Ignatius’s “Question 2,” might Obama have held off so late in his Presidency to do this, in order to maximize the public pressure upon his successor to avoid any attempt to reverse Obama’s anti-Russian policies?
Wheeler’s commentary upon that column closed with a question of her own: “Clearly, Ignatius’ source on the Flynn call with Kislyak advanced the story in a direction that led to Flynn’s firing. What else were Ignatius’ source or sources for the this story trying to lead reporting to?” (This would have entailed Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan.)
Flynn hadn’t phoned Kislyak in order to “influence a foreign government about ‘disputes’ with the United States,” but instead to express condolences for the shoot-down over Syria of a Russian plane that had been carrying a choir there to perform, and in order to express the hope for better U.S.-Russian relations — things that an incoming U.S. National Security Advisor is entirely within his rights, and even duties, to do.
On 30 November 2017, Flynn accepted a plea bargain with Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel who was assigned by Democrats to investigate whether Donald Trump was secretly a Russian Government asset. Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI when he had told the FBI that:
(i) On or about December 29, 2016 [NOTE: this was when Trump was already the President-elect, not a mere Presidential candidate], FLYNN did not ask the Government of Russia’s Ambassador to the United States (“Russian Ambassador”) to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day; and FLYNN did not recall the Russian Ambassador subsequently telling him that Russia had chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of his request; and
(ii) On or about December 22, 2016, FLYNN did not ask the Russian Ambassador to delay the vote on or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution; and that the Russian Ambassador subsequently never described to FLYNN Russia’s response to his request.
(Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001(a)(2))
Flynn subsequently said that he had been forced by Mueller to accept that Agreement, or else Flynn, and maybe his son, would likely be sentenced to long prison terms as punishment for Flynn’s having lied to the FBI. (Mueller was promising far milder punishment if Flynn would just plead guilty and agree to testify against the President.)
Though vague paraphrases of what the alleged lies by Flynn were have been published (such as here), the general public hasn’t been provided access to the specific statements, the alleged lies, for which he had been charged. Ever since 27 June 2019, Flynn has been saying that he hadn’t said anything to the FBI that he knew to be false at the time he said it. The transcripts of his conversation(s) with the FBI have not been released; and, even more importantly, the transcripts of Flynn’s conversations with Russia’s Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, haven’t been released. (As Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, told the Government’s prosecuting attorney, Brandon L. van Grack, on 27 June 2019, “He did not knowingly make the statements that he knew [at the time] to be wrong.” The reply by van Grack was “very heated,” saying, “Without willfully/knowingly [making false statements] it doesn’t make this an offense.” And, “First time your client or counsel [Powell herself] has made any statement like what you are saying. … Want to be clear — you are saying that he did not make any [knowingly] false statements?”
Ms. Powell replied that this was true, and, “You are asking my client to lie” to assert otherwise, and, “If you have something [which indicates to the contrary of Flynn’s statement], show us.” It still hasn’t been shown to the public.
She had been Flynn’s lawyer for only 15 days: Flynn had fired his original lawyers, the Washington Establishment law firm of Covington & Burling, on June 12th, and it was they who had advised him to accept the guilty plea. Ms. Powell, who is an anti-Establishment, non-megacorporate, independent lawyer, had privately been advising him not to accept the plea-deal; and, now, Flynn replaced the Establishment team, and appointed her to represent him.
On 1 November 2019, Powell presented to the court an extraordinarily bold 158-page “FLYNN REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MR. FLYNN’S MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF BRADY MATERIAL AND TO HOLD THE PROSECUTORS IN CONTEMPT”, amply documenting that:
In this case, high-ranking FBI officials orchestrated an ambush-interview of the new president’s National Security Advisor, not for the purpose of discovering any evidence of criminal activity — they already had tapes of all the relevant conversations about which they questioned Mr. Flynn — but for the purpose of trapping him into making statements they could allege as false.
This is no paranoid “conspiracy” delusion, as the government implies. It is well documented by the evidence already made public, which was long known to the government — yet withheld from the defense — until after Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty and in clear violation of Brady v. Maryland and its progeny. This includes a still undisclosed discussion by the lead agent to use news of the “Steele dossier” as “a pretext to interview some people”; the FBI Director’s calculated decision (contrary to FBI/DOJ protocol) not to notify the White House Counsel that the FBI wanted to speak with a key member of the President’s staff; a strategically-planned personal call from FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, designed to prevent Mr. Flynn from seeking the advice of counsel or notifying the Department of Justice; planning and rehearsing tactics calculated to keep Mr. Flynn “relaxed” and “unguarded” so as not to alert him to the significance of the conversation; anxious text messages between Agent Strzok and his paramour, Lisa Page — McCabe’s Special Counsel — disclosing the deep personal involvement of these officials and others in an enterprise without a legitimate law enforcement objective.
The government works hard to persuade this Court that the scope of its discovery obligation is limited to facts relating to punishment for the crime to which Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty. However, the evidence already produced or in the public record reveals far larger issues are at play: namely, the integrity of our criminal justice system.
Flynn formally withdrew his guilty plea on 29 January 2020. In his statement to the court, he made clear that “I realize my statement and determination to assert my innocence means the prosecutors, who already seek to imprison me, may retaliate further by seeking additional charges against me and dramatically increasing the penalty I face.”
The pro-war, neoconservative, Brookings Institution’s, Lawfare Blog (law in the service of international conquest — law for warfare), posted, on 1 May 2020, the most complete summary, till that time, of the case against Flynn, with links to all of the then publicly available source-documents. However, what may turn out to have been the biggest developments in the case have occurred between then and now.
On 7 May 2020, Trump’s U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, dropped the Justice Department’s criminal case against Flynn. The Democratic Party’s media were outraged. The New York Times bannered, on that day, “Editorial: Don’t Forget, Michael Flynn Pleaded Guilty, Twice”, and said: “To review: Mr. Barr is now saying he cannot prove charges to which Mr. Flynn has twice pleaded guilty in court — and for which there is ample evidence.” On 10 June 2020, the Washington Post headlined “Flynn committed perjury, and DOJ request to toss his conviction was ‘corrupt,’ ‘politically motivated,’ court-appointed adviser argues”, and reported that the judge in the Flynn case, Emmett Sullivan, had appointed a prosecutor to oppose the Executive Branch — the President — and, “Michael Flynn committed perjury, and his guilty plea of lying to the FBI should not be dismissed, a court-appointed adviser argued to a federal judge Wednesday, calling the Justice Department’s attempt to undo the conviction corrupt, politically motivated and ‘a gross abuse of prosecutorial power’.” Dropping a prosecution was ‘a gross abuse of prosecutorial power,’ this court-appointed prosecutor alleged. Normally, abuse of prosecutorial power is done not in order to set the defendant free but to get him convicted; but, in the Flynn case, Judge Sullivan’s chosen prosecutor of Flynn was saying that what the Executive Branch was doing by dropping charges was “a gross abuse of prosecutorial power.” The Constitutionally authorized — the U.S. Justice Department’s — prosecutor dropping the case against that defendant is “a gross abuse of prosecutorial power,” he said. Overwhelmingly, America’s press backed that viewpoint: they didn’t care about the Constitution (they didn’t care about its separation of powers clauses), in this particular case. The Constitution should be violated in Flynn’s case, they said — but they didn’t even mention the Constitution: they simply ignored it.
That court-appointed prosecutor had been appointed by Judge Sullivan on May 13th. The Washington Post headlined at that time, “Court asks retired judge to oppose Justice Dept. effort to drop Michael Flynn case, examine if ex-Trump adviser committed perjury”. The judicial branch of the U.S. federal Government was now assuming an Executive Branch function (criminal prosecution); and, so, Judge Sullivan appointed not a federal prosecutor, but instead a retired federal judge, in order to carry out his action (as being a prosecutor) against the Executive Branch, to force the Executive Branch to continue its prosecution of this man. The Democratic Party’s media were extremely supportive of this, and entirely ignored its rather blatant unConstitutionality and simply backed this unConstitutional extraordinary action by a federal judge. (For example, not only the NYT and the WP, but on May 22nd, The Week magazine’s first headlined story on its front cover was “WHY BARR FREED FLYNN, p. 6”, and that news-report inside headlined “Flynn: Why Barr wants to drop all charges”. It summarized 5 anti-Trump commentaries, in The Atlantic, NBC News, the NYT, and two in the WP, plus 2 pro-Trump commentaries, one in the National Review, and the other in the Washington Examiner.) Judge Sullivan’s ruling, which reiterated what his appointed prosecutor had advised, importantly added, “It is further ORDERED that amicus curiae shall address whether the Court should issue an Order to Show Cause why Mr. Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt for perjury.” He wanted Flynn’s alleged perjury, to the FBI, treated, now, as being perjury to his court, and therefore as a very serious new charge, “contempt of court” — a charge, furthermore, that Judge Sullivan would have more control over than he does over the previous charges.
However, since there was no actual prosecutor who was advising the judge, the court-appointed prosecutor was, himself, only an amicus curiae, a “friend of the court,” himself, advising the judge. When Judge Sullivan ruled “that amicus curiae shall address whether the Court should issue an Order to Show Cause why Mr. Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt for perjury,” Sullivan might have become shocked when he then received on June 9th an “AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT” — quite the opposite of what the incompetent judge had likely expected to come from such an organization as the NACDL. (Normally, criminal defense lawyers are arguing against, not for, prosecutorial discretion — they argue against allowing prosecutors free sway.)
This brief, slamming what Sullivan’s chosen prosecutor had said, is a brilliantly argued case, which, if the incompetent judge goes against it, might produce even greater embarrassment to him than merely an appeals-court’s overturning his subsequent ruling, but it would also produce a big Constitutional problem, which even the extremely right-wing U.S. Supreme Court might be reluctant to back Sullivan on. And, if this matter does reach the Supreme Court, then a ruling that would go against Judge Sullivan on it would endanger the system that handles almost all criminal trials in the U.S., which system is ‘justice’ by plea-bargains, instead of “justice” by the Constitutionally demanded trials-by-jury. American criminal ‘justice’ (its reality, which is comparable to court-systems in recognized dictatorships — not to its myth, which is taught in schools) could then fall apart, even more than the prosecution of Michael Flynn will. Therefore, highlights of this potentially historic amicus curiae brief will be presented here.
The brief was docketed on October 17th, and here are its highlights:
This case presents a question of great importance to NACDL because the vast majority of criminal prosecutions resolve by guilty plea. … Existing trial penalties (e.g., enhanced charges, sentencing increases), however, present not just the risk, but the reality that innocent defendants plead guilty to especially grave charges in order to avoid the risk of a greater term of imprisonment. Such defendants should not be threatened with perjury or contempt of court for doing so. …
Because defendants face a higher sentence as a result of going to trial, many innocent defendants will take the certainty of a lower sentence rather than elect to proceed to trial, where conviction rates are high. The resulting trial penalty, or the gap between the sentence received through a plea bargain versus going to trial, underscores exactly why some innocent defendants must and do plead guilty.
The criminal contempt sanction is a poor fit. A coerced, or even potentially coerced, act of perjury generally does not equate to criminal contempt of a court. And the plea-bargaining system’s core justification — efficiency — does not concern itself with the truth-seeking function that a jury trial entails. …
The contempt sanction better fits those acts of disruption in the courtroom or intransigence … that preclude the administration of justice. …
In 2012, the Court highlighted that “[n]inety-seven percent of federal convictions and ninety-four percent of state convictions [were] the result of guilty pleas.” … Last year’s statistics bear out this trend. According to the United States Sentencing Commission, 97.6% of federal convictions are obtained through a guilty plea, and only 2.4% of cases go to trial. … The figures are not much different in this district: 95.2% of convictions result from guilty pleas, and 4.8% from trial. … Accordingly, plea bargaining “is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system; it is the criminal justice system.” …
One proffered justification for the plea-bargaining system is that it functions as “an indispensable solution for an overwhelmed structure.” … [But] Why Innocent People Plead Guilty, N.Y. Rev. Books (Nov. 20, 2014), https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2014/11/20/why-innocent-people-plead-guilty. … The system gives prosecutors enormous leverage to pressure criminal defendants. … A defendant who refuses to plead to a lesser offense may face at trial a more serious charge that has a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment of a decade or longer. … “[L]onger sentences exist on the books largely for bargaining purposes.” … As Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has explained, “our criminal justice system is almost exclusively a system of plea bargaining, negotiated behind closed doors and with no judicial oversight.” See Rakoff, supra.
Trials serve a specific and laudable purpose in our criminal justice system: to ensure that the prosecution can satisfy a jury of the defendant’s peers that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and to “so state, publicly, in its verdict.” Id. Further, pre-trial motions contesting legal theories, constitutional violations, and evidentiary matters are vital to the development of the law. …
The prosecutor’s arsenal contains sufficient tools to ensure that a defendant who does not enter a guilty plea at the outset of a case will face an increased sentence. Prosecutors are able to choose among charges or stack charges on top of each other, and they have discretion to allege facts that trigger mandatory minimum sentences. …
The gap between the sentence that can be bargained for in a plea has widened so far from the sentence that will be received after trial as to become “an overwhelming influence” in defendants’ weighing of a plea offer. …
Amicus curiae’s statistical analysis of the Sentencing Commission’s 2015 data files shows that the “average sentence for fraud was three times as high for defendants who went to trial versus those who pled guilty.” Id. at 17. For burglary, breaking and entering, and embezzlement, the average sentence was nearly eight times as high for the defendant who went to trial. See id. Accordingly, “individuals who choose to exercise their Sixth Amendment right to trial face exponentially higher sentences if they invoke the right to trial and lose.” …
The federal criminal justice system has long recognized that a defendant may simultaneously proclaim his innocence and enter into a plea bargain. … When the Supreme Court initially held that plea bargaining was constitutionally permissible, it noted that it “would have serious doubts” about the practice “if the encouragement of guilty pleas by offers of leniency substantially increased the likelihood that defendants, advised by competent counsel, would falsely condemn themselves.” …
It is a sad and incontrovertible fact that our criminal justice system forces innocent people to plead guilty. …
Perjury Is Not A Contempt Of Court.
It has been settled for a hundred years that ordinary perjury is not a contempt of court because perjury does not “obstruct the administration of justice” at common law or under the contempt statute. … Perjury is not a contempt of court but only an ordinary crime, subject to prosecution in the exclusive discretion of the Executive Branch. …
If Judge Sullivan rules in accord with that brief, then Michael Flynn will be a free man, though perhaps overburdened to pay huge legal costs which the Democrats have thrust upon him. However, if Judge Sullivan rules against it, then there might follow a titanic Constitutional battle over whether ignoring the U.S. Constitution so blatantly can continue for much longer in America.
The Democrat, Marcy Wheeler, at her Empty Wheel blog, opposes that brief, by asserting “the sworn declaration Flynn submitted as part of his attempt to withdraw his guilty plea, which DOJ’s recent excuses for blowing up his prosecution increasingly rely on, also conflicts with what Flynn said to the grand jury as well as evidence submitted in this docket, which shows notes from Covington recording Flynn telling lies about his engagement with Turkey.” However, she is there advocating a fishing expedition to find something that’s unrelated to the Mueller investigation in order to imprison Flynn on such other matters unless he will accept the guilty plea and testify against Trump. Black and brown people, and all poor people, should know that the Democratic Party has now come out openly in support of such targeted prosecutorial fishing expeditions, such as have put so high a percentage of blacks and browns, and of poor people in general, behind bars. In such a country as this, what hope is there for individuals who can’t afford to hire adequate legal counsel? (Flynn has already spent more than $5 million on his defense, and he’s still not done.)
Furthermore, the Mueller Report was a hit-job. On Flynn, it is vacuous. For example, page 30 of v. 2 of the Mueller Report online merely summarizes and paraphrases what Flynn had told the FBI’s two agents who interviewed him, which interview was the basis for the charges against him:
On January 24, 2017, Flynn agreed to be interviewed by agents from the FBI.139 During the interview, which took place at the White House, Flynn falsely stated that he did not ask Kislyak to refrain from escalating the situation in response to the sanctions on Russia imposed by the Obama Administration.140 Flynn also falsely stated that he did not remember a follow-up conversation in which Kislyak stated that Russia had chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of Flynn’s request.141
That’s all there is. Nowhere in the hundreds of pages of the Mueller Report is the actual evidence — in this matter, Flynn’s transcript with the FBI — presented.
How can a criminal-prosecution system that consists more than 95% of coercive plea-bargains, and only under 5% of trials-by-jury, switch to 100% trials-by jury — how can it go from under 5% Constitutional, to 100% Constitutional? Or: is democracy now impossible in the U.S.? Certainly, the myth of there being in America a transparent system of justice, in which the public gets reasonably easy access to the evidence on a given case, is a total lie. What exists instead is merely a black box, filled with secrets and lies, which serve only the already-powerful.
There is also great irony in this situation: The Democratic Party, which claims to support the poor against the rich, is here advocating for the plea-bargaining system, which is especially unjust against the poor and protective of the rich. The sheer hypocrisy of that is astounding. Even Britain’s normally very Establishmentarian Economist magazine headlined an article, on 9 November 2017, “The troubling spread of plea-bargaining from America to the world”. But such a sentiment has now become too progressive for either one of America’s two billionaire-controlled Parties. They both support plea-bargaining, though it’s against the U.S. Constitution, and America leads the world in it.
The present writer is not advocating for the Republican Party, which openly flaunts its championing of the super-rich and its contempt against the poor, but the Democratic Party’s hypocrisy doesn’t make it any the better. And both Parties are enemies of the U.S. Constitution. Both are unAmerican. Both represent opposite sides of the same U.S. Establishment. That Establishment’s history is described here. They are enemies of what America’s Founders stood for. Neither side of this Establishment (neither the Democratic Party’s billionaires nor the Republican Party’s billionaires) represents America’s Founders — the group of individuals who actually wrote the U.S. Constitution. That country — that Constitution (with its Amendments) — is long-since gone, replaced, now, by this U.S.-counter-Revolutionary (i.e., anti-American, pro-King-George-III) Establishment.
That’s how deep the issues in the prosecution of Michael T. Flynn actually go. These are issues that go to the core of what America is, and will be.
Former intelligence officials, Democratic leaders, and media outlets dismissing the Hunter Biden story as “Russian disinformation” are spreading more Russiagate disinformation, ex-CIA officer Ray McGovern says.
Media outlets are amplifying the claims of former intelligence officials, including John Brennan and James Clapper, as well as of top Democrats, including Joe Biden and Adam Schiff, that the Hunter Biden laptop revelations are “Russian disinformation.”
They have done so even though no one from the Biden camp has disputed the authenticity of a single leaked email or document, or denied that the laptop belongs to Hunter Biden. Ray McGovern, a former career CIA officer who served as chief of the CIA’s Soviet analysts division and chaired National Intelligence Estimates, discusses the widespread disinformation about “Russian disinformation,” and why it raises new questions about the conduct and claims of the intelligence officials behind Russiagate.
Guest: Ray McGovern. Former longtime CIA officer, who served as chief of the CIA’s Soviet analysts division, chaired National Intelligence Estimates, and prepared the President’s Daily Brief. He is also the co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
He couldn’t save Lebanon, despite all the rhetoric. Libya too was a disaster, as was his more recent battle with the firebrand Turkish president over a row in the Eastern Med about energy exploration. And now, France’s cursed President, Emmanuel Macron, is going to lead his nation in a campaign which will take him and the entire French economy over the abyss on Brexit.
Remarkably, as the EU stands and watches, Macron, a man tortured and cursed by defeat wherever he goes around the world, is about to throw the lever on the French economy as he prepares to go into battle against Boris Johnson over UK’s rights to claim back its waters, deal or no deal in Brussels.
The French leader has made it quite clear that he is not prepared to scale back French fishermen’s catches, post Brexit, when the UK would ideally expect to take back all of its waters which it agreed to give up, when it joined the European Union in 1973.
This, experts worry, is a coded message to French fishermen to block British ferries from entering French ports from New Year’s day when Britain will be entirely out of the European Union and operating on WTO trade rules with its goods and services within the EU 27.
But is he serious? Or is it a bluff which he has forced himself to resort to, given the reality of Brexit for France? Against strong opposition from Germany, which fears that the fishing dispute will derail a UK trade deal with the EU, which both sides say is more or less ‘oven ready’, Macron is the problem.
A no deal Brexit for the UK will present some logistical problems for Boris Johnson and hundreds of UK firms who need to export their goods into the EU without a hiccup on January 1st.
But for France, a no deal Brexit would be a total disaster which would not only make it an enemy of Britain, but would almost certainly plunge the country into both an economic and political Armageddon.
If French fishermen go ahead with blockades, the obvious respite from Boris will be to totally block all trade with France. Given that, according to Macron, two thirds of all the produce in UK supermarkets comes from France, this would be a devastating blow to France’s economy and would certainly mean job losses in this sector. And it isn’t just food, which the UK could easily import from other countries. It’s also wine. The French President seems to forget that Brits love French wine and, in fact, the highest consumer, per head, of Champagne are the British.
And presumably, if French fishermen are busy with their antics at French ports, they are not out fishing anyway, so France is the big loser. This will certainly be the case when Boris is not only forced to boycott French goods, but when the UK develops better relations with EU countries who will help British truckers get into the European Union, like Denmark and Belgium who are unlikely to follow the French blockades.
All this skulduggery from Macron points to one thing: a new set of trade talks, with a new chief in Brussels and Britain in a stronger position to negotiate on better terms in the early months of next year. This is actually what Boris and some hardcore Brexiteers believe is a better strategy anyway.
In reality, it is France and Macron’s threats, which are the real cause of friction between the UK and the EU and threaten to stop a trade deal getting the green light. While many EU apaches argue that Britain can’t have zero tariff trade with the block AND have its own waters back which gives preference to British fisherman, Boris believes that it can. The barb is simply Macron’s political future. And so the threats start to become less veiled and clearer to see.
The last statement from Macron about French fisherman is both revealing and preposterous.
“The fishermen will not in any situation be those sacrificed to Brexit. We didn’t choose Brexit. Preserving access for our fishermen to British waters is an important point for us.”
Is he hinting that he wants compensation from the EU to fisherman who will lose their livelihoods? Or is it, more likely, that he will pretend to be unable to stop the inevitable blockades at the ports once it starts?
This game of cheap threats and blackmail though, Boris should be getting used to by now. It is, after all, the French Navy which seems to be completely unable to control the flow of asylum seekers from Calais to the shores of Britain, where our own government ministers are unable to do anything but give them shelter and hospitality. Given that there are thousands of Brits around the world who have lost their livelihoods through corona and who are heading back to the UK penniless – and probably won’t receive benefits after being abroad for too long – Boris needs to stop this game the French President is playing, for his own political reasons. It’s time now to stand up to Emmanuel Macron and show the French who the English Channel belongs to and to give back jobs to thousands of British fishing families. He also needs to put the French Navy in order which is actually assisting refugees enter the UK. At the beginning of WWII, when France looked like it was days away from being occupied by Germany, Churchill, we should remember, offered an ultimatum to the French, worried that its Navy’s ships would fall into German hands: blow up your own ships, or we will.
Boris may well be mulling a similar idea as France continues to humiliate us and profit from us. Are British battleships in the Channel going to square off against France’s as these threats mount? It’s time now for Boris’s Churchillian moment against the French and Macron who continues to look like a battleship sunk in its own port.
I’d like to tell you a folktale. It’s called “The Emperor’s New 9/11”.
Once upon a time there was an Emperor who loved war and military expansionism. He was always searching for new ways to instigate military conflicts without losing the support of the international community or waking up the populace to the fact that they’re just propagandized cogs in the machine of a globe-spanning Empire which uses endless military and economic violence to maintain its unipolar hegemony.
One day two men calling themselves Intelligence Experts came into town claiming that they had devised a wondrous new type of enemy threat that is invisible to the common folk.
“Is it as good as 9/11?” asked the Emperor excitedly. “Oh how I loved how that one allowed me to initiate a new era of military expansionism on the pretence of fighting global terrorism!”
“It’s even better!” explained the Intelligence Experts. “This magical enemy threat is comprised of Cyber Attacks which are completely invisible to public scrutiny, and you have complete control over where and when they happen. You just name a foreign government you don’t like, and we’ll say they have attacked the democracy of the Empire!”
“You mean the pretend democracy I lied to them about having?” asked the Emperor.
“Of course,” said the Intelligence Experts. “So you just name the disobedient government you want a fight with and we’ll give you your new 9/11.”
“Hmm, well I’m not very fond of the Russians,” said the Emperor. “They’ve been brazenly acting against our interests on the world stage and they keep getting friendlier with China. Let’s set to work on them first.”
So the Intelligence Experts set to work weaving their narrative about Russian Cyber Attacks. The Emperor put his mass media to work knitting together wonderful yarns of the Emperor’s wonderous new 9/11, simultaneously invisible to commoners yet outrageous and necessitating an aggressive response.
The Empire’s military budget was inflated, treaties were ended, and a new arms race was begun. Sanctions were rolled out against the Russian government, the Empire’s Nuclear Posture Review was readjusted with a much more hostile stance toward Moscow, troops were deployed and NATO was expanded. Anyone who objected to any of this was labeled Russian propaganda by the Empire.
“Oh, this is wonderful!” exclaimed the Emperor. “Let’s do Iran now! Ooh! And China too!”
“Iran and China have been attacking the Empire’s democracy!” announced the Intelligence Experts. “It’s like another 9/11!”
All was going swimmingly, until one day the Emperor was parading his new 9/11 around town for the commoners to admire.
“Oh, this 9/11 is even more impressive than the last one!” exclaimed the people. “I would happily throw my body into the gears of the war machine for it! Praise be to our mighty Emperor!”
Then one tiny voice rang out above the rest.
“But the Emperor hasn’t got a 9/11!” said a small child. “There’s nothing there at all!”
The child was immediately branded a Russian propagandist and banned from Facebook and Twitter.
No Matter Who Wins, The War Machine Wins
“US government agencies are advancing the narrative that unabsorbed governments are attacking the United States in a completely invisible yet extremely outrageous way.”https://t.co/s41nyXV5d4
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) October 23, 2020
It is not a coincidence that all these alleged attacks on American democracy are happening in ways that only the US intelligence cartel can see. It is not a coincidence that the US propaganda machine is constantly announcing invisible new attacks upon the nation from governments that have been longtime targets of that same intelligence cartel. It is not a coincidence that whenever these alleged attacks happen, the hard evidence that they happened is always classified.
There are all sorts of ways that a country can be attacked, but the only ways the country that is literally always at war ever gets attacked is in ways that nobody can see and we just have to take the word of the same government agencies that are responsible for the wars that they actually occurred. This is not a coincidence.
Foreign “election interference” is 9/11 minus 9/11. It gets all the same urgent media coverage of 9/11, all the same outrage and all the same demand for forceful retaliation; it just doesn’t have the fallen buildings that people can look at or the bereaved family members that you can talk to. It’s a 9/11 that is completely invisible to everyone, so we have to take the word of intelligence agencies with an extensive history of lying that they happened at all.
Meanwhile, as the US is being victimized by these attacks that only the CIA and NSA can see, the US government is harming the American people to an infinitely greater degree than Russia, China and Iran are. The US government is destroying untold millions of lives at home and abroad, but Americans are being told to worry about invisible attacks by foreign countries that have literally never done anything to them.
Don’t be a sucker. Be the child at the Emperor’s parade.
Donald Trump learned his lesson to appear gentlemanly before a national audience at long last. But too late. That is the Big Takeaway from the Second Trump-Biden presidential debate on Thursday night.
Before the debate, opinion polls consistently reported Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden enjoyed a 10 percent lead over Trump across the United States: It is likely to grow wider now.
There are still 10 days to go as I write this before the presidential election is officially held on November 3. But Trump has already run out of time.
Around one third of estimated voters have already voted – 35 million by mail-in ballot and 15 million in person. Those votes are now cast in stone: They cannot be changed. The preference of Democrats to go with mail-in ballots and the revulsion for that system Trump has taught his supporters is telling. More than twice as many voters have voted the Democratic way as have voted the Trump way.
I have repeatedly warned in these columns how plain stupid, ignorant and incompetent it was to despise Joe Biden as a national political candidate. The debate on Thursday night confirmed my warning. Trump improved at last but he could not match Biden.
On the substance of economic policy and foreign policy, Trump remains vastly preferable to Biden for all his foul-ups. And on some substantive issues, the policies he expressed in the debate were far more realistic than Biden’s. But none of that matters.
Biden was commanding. He dominated the sound bites. Since Richard Nixon pummeled John Kennedy on substance but lost big on image in the 1960 presidential debate, image has always bulldozed substance in these events.
The idiotic and criminally incompetent Democrat governors of New York State, New Jersey and California were directly responsible for the deaths of at least one third of the 220,000 Americans so far carried off by COVID-19: They packed old peoples’ homes with thousands of contagious sufferers from the virus. But Trump was president, and his national policies in the face of the crisis too have often been irresponsible and woeful.
Trump is the head man. As he admitted in the debate, he is responsible. And he will be the national scapegoat, just as any Democratic including the Sainted Barack Obama would have been had they been in the White House when the coronavirus hit.
None of this is to say that Biden will be a good president, or a responsible one or even, given his age, an effective one at all. Also, the reflexive anti-Russian fantasies that now permeate the national Democratic Party at every level are delusional, contemptible and insanely dangerous.
At the end of the day the Republican Alternative Conservative Media in the United States dug their own grave. They gave Trump, his political strategists, pundits and key Senate allies endless excuses to ignore the genuine political skills Joe Biden honed during an almost unprecedented 36 years as senator followed by eight years as vice president.
They laughed at Biden. They thought he would be a senile old pushover in national debates. They made him sound like a drooling idiot, or Hillary Clinton in a drunken stupor.
But it was no drooling, senile old fool who showed up on Thursday night. Biden at the top of his game rhetorically demolished Trump as effectively as he destroyed the national careers of Sarah Palin in 2008 and Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debates of 2008 and 2012.
This was the key exchange – and it was on dealing with COVID-19.
Trump said: “We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does… We can’t close up our nation. We have to open our schools and we can’t close up our nation or you’re not going to have a nation.”
And this was Biden’s reply: “He says that we’re learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it.”
That is the kind of line people will remember and quote for a hundred years. They will certainly remember it when they pull the levers in the voting booths on November 3.
Also, incredibly, Biden at almost 78 has proven vastly more energetic than Hillary Clinton did in campaigning across the United States even while the COVID -19 pandemic has been peaking again.
Unlike the inconceivably witless Hillary, who listened to a computer algorithm named Ada (after Lord Byron’s insane daughter) that told her not to bother campaigning in key Heartland industrial states, Biden has hit most of them in person and continues to do so.
Unlike the ineffably stupid and unteachable Hillary, the Irishman from hard-scrabble Scranton, Pennsylvania – a town I know well – does not make the mistake of imagining that a hard fought election campaign should be treated as if it were an imperial coronation.
Make no mistake, dangerous days are indeed ahead for the United States and the world: But a close and uncertain presidential election result is not going to be one of them.
Dr. Mathew MAAVAK
In October 2019, a pandemic simulation exercise called Event 201 – a collaborative effort between Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, World Economic Forum, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – concluded that a hypothetical new coronavirus may end up killing at least 65 million people worldwide within 18 months of an outbreak.
When COVID-19 coincidentally emerged from Wuhan two months later, scientists were rushing to generate similar alarmist forecasts using a variety of questionable scientific models. Researchers from the Imperial College London, for instance, approximated death tolls of 500,000 (UK) and two million (USA) by October this year. To those following the metastasis of the global vaccine mania, the Imperial model was predictably “tidied up” with the help of Microsoft.
While scientific models are admittedly fallible, one would nonetheless be hard-pressed to justify the endless string of contradictions, discrepancies and wilful amnesia in the global pandemic narrative. In fact, one should question whether COVID-19 even deserves the tag of a “pandemic”. According to the United States’ Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the updated age-group survival rates for COVID-19 happen to be: Ages 0-19 (99.997%); 20-49 (99.98%); 50-69 (99.5%); and 70+ (94.6%). The mortality rates are only slightly higher than the human toll from seasonal flu and are, in fact, lower than many ailments for the same age cohorts.
If the CDC statistics don’t lie, what kind of “science” have we been subjected to? Was it the science of mass-mediated hysteria? There are other troubling questions yet unanswered. Whatever happened to the theory of bats or pangolins being the source of COVID-19? Who was Patient Zero? Why was there a concerted media agitprop against the prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine that was backed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) no less? And why did Prof Neil Ferguson, who had led Imperial’s contagion modelling, repeatedly breach lockdown measures to meet his paramour – right after his recommendations were used to justify draconian lockdowns worldwide which continue till today?
Most damning yet, why are Western media and scientific establishments dismissive of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine? After all, Moscow’s credibility, both scientific and otherwise, is on the line here. In a real pandemic, nobody would care where an effective remedy comes from. The virus does not care about borders and geopolitics; so why should we politicize the origins of an antidote?
Perhaps what we are really dealing with here is a case of mass “coronapsychosis” as Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko aptly called it. Who benefits from global lockdowns that are destabilizing all facets of our society? The following four “great” undercurrents may provide a clue.
The Great Deflection
As the author had warned for more than a decade, the world is staring at a confluence of risk overloads, socioeconomic meltdowns (1) and a Second Great Depression. For the ruling classes, COVID-19 is fortuitously deflecting public attention away from the disastrous consequences of decades of economic mismanagement and wealth fractionation. The consolidation of Big Tech with Big Media (2) has created an Orwellian world where collective hysteria is shifting loci from bogeymen like Russia to those who disagree with the pandemic narrative.
We have entered a “new normal” where Pyongyang, North Korea, affords more ambulatory freedom than Melbourne, Australia. While rioting and mass demonstrations by assorted radicals are given a free pass – even encouraged by leaders in the West – Facebook posts questioning lockdowns are deemed subversive. This is a world where Australian Blueshirts beat up women, manhandle a pregnant woman in her own home, and perform wolf pack policing on an elderly lady in a park. Yet, the premier of the Australian state of Victoria remains unfazed by the unflattering moniker of Kim Jong Dan.
The corona-totalitarianism is unsurprisingly most pronounced in the Anglosphere and its dependencies. After all, these nations are staring at socioeconomic bankruptcies of unprecedented proportions vis-à-vis their counterparts. Even their own governments are being systematically undermined from within. The US Department of Homeland Security, created in the aftermath of 9/11 to combat terrorism, is now providing $10 million in grants to organizations which supposedly combat “far-right extremism and white supremacy”. This will further radicalize leftist malcontents who are razing US cities and its economies in the name of social justice. There is, however, a curious rationale behind this inane policy as the following section illustrates.
The Great Wealth Transfer
While the circus continues, the bread is thinning out, except for the Top 0.001%. Instead of bankruptcy, as recent trends indicated, Silicon Valley and affiliated monopolies are notching up record profits along with record social media censorship. US billionaires raked in $434 billion in the first two months of the lockdown alone. The more the lockdowns, the more the wealth accrued to the techno-elite. As tens of millions of individuals and small businesses face bankruptcy by Christmas, the remote work revolution is gifting multibillion dollar jackpots to the likes of Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook). Azure (Microsoft) and AWS (Amazon) cloud eco-systems, among others, have expanded by 50% since the beginning of the pandemic.
In the face of such runaway wealth fractionation, panoptic contact tracing tools from Big Tech are increasingly employed to pacify restive populations. And of course, to prevent a second, third or Nth wave of COVID-19 for our collective good!
In the meantime, Big Banks, Big Pharma, Big Tech and other monopolies are getting lavish central bank bailouts or “stimulus packages” to gobble up struggling smaller enterprises. COVID-19 is a gift that never stops giving to a select few. But how will the techno-oligarchy maintain a degree of social credibility and control in an impoverished and tumultuous world?
The Great Philanthropy
Oligarchic philanthropy will be a dominant feature of this VUCA decade (3). According to a recent Guardian report, philanthropic foundations have multiplied exponentially in the past two decades, controlling a war chest worth more than $1.5 trillion. That is sufficient to bankroll a horde of experts, NGOs, industry lobbies, media and fact-checkers worldwide. Large sums can also be distributed rapidly to undermine governments. The laws governing scientific empiricism are no longer static and immutable; they must dance in tandem with the funding. Those who scream fake news are usually its foremost peddlers. This is yet another “new normal” which had actually predated COVID-19 by decades.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is a prime example of how oligarchic philanthropy works. Since 2000, it has donated more than $45 billion to “charitable causes” and a chunk of this is designed to control the global media narrative. The Guardian, rather tellingly, credits the BMGF for helping eradicate polio despite contrary reports of wanton procedural abuses, child death tolls and poverty exploitation which routinely mar the foundation’s vaccination programs. Bill Gates even interprets vaccine philanthropy in terms of a 20-to-1 return on investments, as he effused to CNBC last year.
As for the BMGF’s alleged polio success, officials now fear that a dangerous new strain could soon “jump continents”. After spending $16 billion over 30 years to eradicate polio, international health bodies – which work closely with BMGF – have “accidentally” reintroduced the disease to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.
Poverty, hunger and desperation will spawn a tangible degree of public gratitude despite elite philanthropy’s entrenched bias towards elite institutions and causes. By the Guardian’s own admission, “British millionaires gave £1.04bn to the arts, and just £222m to alleviating poverty” in the 10-year period to 2017. Contrast this with the annual $10 billion earmarked by the philanthropic pool for “ideological persuasion” in the US alone. The rabble is worth their weight only for the potential havoc they can wreak.
There is enough money floating around to reduce our cities into bedlams of anarchy as seen in the United States today. (It will only get worse after the Nov 3 US presidential elections). The crumbs left over can be delegated to threadbare charities. One only needs to reflect on soup kitchens in the post-1929 Weimar Republic. The most popular ones were organized by the Nazi party and funded by wealthy patrons. The march towards a new order has a familiar historical meme. The new Brownshirts are those who terrorise citizens for not wearing masks, for not being locked down in their pens, and for simply supporting a political candidate of choice. Even children who do not follow the oligarchic narrative are not spared!
The Great Reset
A great pruning will inevitably occur in the mega-billionaire club as whatever remains of the global corona-economy is systematically cannibalized. The club will get smaller but wealthier and will attempt to sway our collective destiny. Control over education, healthcare, means of communications and basic social provisions is being increasingly ceded by governments to the global elite. Governments colluding in the “new normal” will sooner or later face the ire of distressed masses. Politicians and assorted “social justice warriors” will be scapegoated once they have outlived their usefulness.
In this cauldron, the century-old technocratic dream of replacing politicians, electoral processes and businesses with societies run by scientists and technical experts (4) may emerge – thanks to advances in panoptic technologies. It will be an age for the “rational science of production” and “scientific collectivism”. The latter is eerily redolent of the Soviet sharaska (prison labs) system.
The production and supply of goods will be coordinated by a central directorate (5), led not by elected representatives (whose roles, where they exist, will be nominal anyway) but by technocrat factotums. Perhaps this is what the World Economic Forum refers to as the Great Reset. In reality, though, this idea smacks of a global Gosplan minus the Doctor Sausages for the innumerable many.
(Some emerging economies like Malaysia and India casually refer to technocracy as an infusion of greater technical expertise into bureaucracy. This is a misinterpretation of technocracy’s longstanding means and goals).
One intractable problem remains: will the emerging global oligarchy tolerate the existence of various deep states worldwide? Initially, both groupings may cooperate to their mutual benefit but their respective raisons d’être are too contradictory to be reconciled. One thrives on an “open society” run by obedient hirelings who will administer a global Ministry of Truth, while the other depends on secrecy and a degree of national sovereignty to justify its existence. Surveillance technologies ushered in by the ongoing “coronapsychosis” may end up being the deciding factor in this struggle.
After all, if social media posts by the President of the United States and the White House can be blatantly censored today, think of the repercussions for billions of people worldwide tomorrow?
An abridged version of this article was published by RT on Oct 14
1. Maavak, M. (2012), Class Warfare, Anarchy and the Future Society: Is the Middle Class forging a Gramscian Counter-Hegemonic Bloc Worldwide? Journal of Futures Studies, December 2012, 17(2): 15-36.
2. Maavak, M. (2019). Bubble to Panopticon: Dark Undercurrents of the Big Data Torrent. Kybernetes, Vol. 49 No. 3, pp. 1046-1060. https://doi.org/10.1108/K-06-2019-0403
3. Maavak, M (2021). Maavak, M. (2021). Horizon 2020-2030: Will Emerging Risks Unravel our Global Systems? Accepted for publication. Salus Journal, Issue 1 2021.
4. Elsner, Jr., Henry (1967). The Technocrats: Prophets of Automation. Syracuse University.
5. Stabile, D.R. (1986). Veblen and the Political Economy of the Engineer: the radical thinker and engineering leaders came to technocratic ideas at the same time. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol, 45, No. 1, 1986, pp. 43-44.
It finally looks like the four-and-a-half-year saga of Brexit is coming to an ignominious end. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the final bluff of the incompetent bureaucrats in Brussels, walking away from trade talks while leaving the door open.
But that door is only open if the EU is willing to crawl in on its knees and give the UK what it wants, a minimal free trade deal, Canada-style, which was offered by then President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
The EU played hardball giving zero ground for four years while undermining the UK from within its own political and bureaucratic structures. It was as transparent as it was cynical, but it couldn’t sway the British people and that gave Johnson the political will to just say no.
And it was this hardball negotiating stance that had worked in the past finally broke like waves along the Cliffs of Dover. The reason why it failed was that arrogance was fueled by powerful forces having their back,
They believed in the power of coercion being stronger than the will of the British people.
And they were wrong. Dead wrong.
In an instant this past weekend the entire façade of he the EU’s inevitability vaporized as Johnson went on TV and told the world to prepare for a No-Deal Brexit, regardless of whether that was the optimal outcome or not.
It signaled to the rest of Europe that no longer do you have to take the diktats of a bunch of feckless, unelected technocrats if you don’t want to. And this failure to secure submission of the Brits will have immense consequences during this next election cycle in Europe.
This is why the fiction of the Second Wave of the Coronapocalypse persists all across the continent. Germany, France, Spain and other countries are implementing the worst kind of draconian lockdowns on people hanging on by a thread while the pols in Brussels scheme as to how best to continue advancing their plans for a future with the people trapped in the neo-feudalism of the EU corporatocracy.
These lockdowns have nothing to do with public health. They have everything to do with maintaining the political health of the current ruling classes. Nothing more.
And I include the UK in this as well but for different reasons. It’s my feeling that even though Johnson may have given the EU ‘two fingers up’ the EU and those behind it aren’t done with the Brits yet.
Walking away from narcissists inevitably invokes anger. There is too much at stake for the European Project for the annoying Brits to just walk away from it and give everyone else the wrong idea.
So, I feel very strongly we should be watching for more signs of the same color revolution tactics on display in the U.S. to depose Donald Trump showing up in the UK I don’t rule out an attempted coup against Johnson in the next seven weeks.
This is why I think he’s imposing similar lock downs in the UK to manage the inevitable activation of ‘ground forces’ once things get down to the wire later this year.
Brexit has exposed a myriad of fault lines within the EU, most notably between the two heavyweights, Germany and France. And Johnson, for all his shambolic organization, understood this perfectly, playing Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron off each other capturing their agendas in amber so when crunch-time came, they were paralyzed with inaction.
Weasels on both sides of the channel refused to accept the vote for any number of reasons but it didn’t matter.
The UK always had the upper hand in this situation if it stood its ground, made its demands known and negotiated like an equal rather than a wayward child.
Ever the abusive parent, the EU Council and its Chief Negotiator continue to treat the Brits like they treated Greece in 2015 and are now openly furious that no one is taking them seriously.
But why should anyone take Brussels seriously, other than because it is backed by the failing and sclerotic post-WWII institutions revealed to be complicit in the wholesale destruction of Western culture and economic vitality who are pushing a Great Reset on them whether they want it or not?
One need look no further than the insipid way Merkel has handled the obvious intelligence job surrounding Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Navalny is a nobody outside the halls of the CIA and MI-6 who, through the media, sell him to the West as a major thorn in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s side.
But he’s nothing of the sort. He has fewer people show up to his ‘rallies’ now than Joe Biden. So, the idea that Putin would poison this bozo is laughable. And yet, because the EU, and specifically Germany, are so scared of angering the U.S. they entertained this fantasy hoping the Russians would bail them out and play along with the fiction, publicly threatening the completion of the Nordstream 2 pipeline over it.
Putin told Merkel to go scratch, and why not? She’ll be out of the picture in a year.
So, now she has personally lost Russia as a potential ally for Germany. Instead of finally choosing a side, Merkel, ever the dutiful soldier, kept playing the U.S. and Russia off each other alienating both.
Germany will get no help from Russia when a vindictive second-term Trump tightens the screws on her even more. Because stop looking at polls designed to gaslight you and look at what’s happening in the U.S. People will walk over broken glass to vote for Trump. The biggest worry about Biden is whether he’ll soil his Depends.
Merkel ham-fistedly played for time hoping to run out the clock on Trump and Johnson both over the U.S. election and it will cost Germany everything in the long run. She has a chance post-election to make things right with Putin but don’t bet on it.
Once she loses Russia, she’ll lose the Visegrad nations as the U.S. abandons Europe and the 21st century will turn most unkind on a hubristic and vainglorious European elite.
If the EU leadership want to be taken seriously then they need to act like world leaders and not like a bunch of vindictive high schoolers vying for class president. That these incompetent people are leading some of the most powerful countries in the world should frighten you.
They also reflect very poorly on the people who stand behind them, who I like to call The Davos Crowd, whose policies they were chosen to implement.
And now that the best of all possible Brexits is near at hand, the rest of Europe is going to get an object lesson in just how much it costs to keep them around as the UK thrives in the post-Brexit world and why they shouldn’t be afraid of their wrath.
Unlike the rest of the American system there are no “checks & balances” for nuclear bombs. The use of the red button lies firmly in the hands of one man – the President of the USA – Donald Trump who recently contracted Covid-19. Watch the video and read more in the article by Brian Cloughley.
Amy Coney Barrett is nothing if not consistent. Time and again, she refused during her confirmation hearings to say a word about any judicial decision or any of the major political issues of the day. The ostensible reason: it would compromise her judicial independence. “Does the Constitution,” Senator Dianne Feinstein asked at one point, “give the president of the United States the authority to unilaterally delay a general election under any circumstances.” To which Barrett responded:
“Well, senator, if that question ever came before me, I would need to hear arguments from the litigants and read briefs and consult with my law clerks and talk to my colleagues and go through the opinion-writing process. So, you know, if I give off-the-cuff answers, then I would be basically a legal pundit, and I don’t think we want judges to be legal pundits. I think we want judges to approach cases thoughtfully and with an open mind.”
Somehow, keeping an open mind means pretending to be a tabula rasa before ascending to the bench. If someone had asked Barrett about the weather, she presumably would have replied that the question was designed to elicit “an opinion from me that is on a very contentious matter of public debate, and I will not do that” – which just happens to be what she told Kamala Harris when she asked about global warming.
All of which speaks volumes about America’s tattered 233-year-old constitutional tradition. Barrett is 48 years old. If she lives as long as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month of pancreatic cancer, this means that she could be handing down opinions until the year 2058. Thanks to medical progress, she might hand them down even longer – into the 2070s, perhaps. Yet even though her rulings will affect Americans in the most profound ways, she refuses to provide the slightest hint about what she believes, how she’ll vote, or where she stands politically.
This is not what government of, by, and for the people is supposed to be about. The first rule of democracy is accountability, the idea that people not only choose their representatives but expect them to report back periodically for inspection and review. If they fulfill their promises, then the people may reward them with another term. If they don’t, then they have the option to toss them out. But the point is that the people rule because it’s their society and no one else’s. They run a tight ship in which officials are expected to snap to, utter a crisp “yes, sir” (or ma’am), and then trot off to do what they’re told.
But Barrett’s stonewalling suggests the opposite, which is that not only will she refuse to take instruction in even the broadest sense, but that she’ll refuse to report back. Assuming she deigned to answer, Barret would no doubt reply that, as a judge, she’s above politics and therefore a special case. Rather than part of democracy, she’d argue that she’s part of the constitutional bulwark holding democracy up. Hence, she must be independent so that the elected branches can be held t account.
But this is mere word play. The founders may have conceived of the Supreme Court as a more or less neutral umpire, but those days are long past. Since World War II, Congress has steadily expanded its powers by saddling it with issues that members were afraid to touch. No one on Capitol Hill, for instance, wanted to talk about racial segregation in the early 1950s. It was too difficult and explosive and would do nothing but cost them votes. So they said nothing until the court tackled the issue f or them via its historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954. Rather than standing up for what they believed in, congressmen were able to avoid responsibility by deferring to the court instead. It was a cloud with a less-than-silver lining because it marked a defeat for democracy and self-reliance.
“If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong,” Martin Luther King declared a year later during the Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama. “If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong.”
The boycotters were not right because what they did themselves, in other words, but because of what the court, the law, and other higher authorities did for them. The result was a curious blend of liberalism, sanctimony, and reverence for the past that has long defined American political culture. The same happened when the court went on to mandate one person-one vote (if only at the state and local level), legalize birth control, require cops to read prisoners their rights before subjecting them to interrogation, and, finally, guarantee a right to abortion. Liberals cheered. But what they cheered was their own inability to forge such breakthroughs on their own.
By celebrating the court, they celebrated their own impotence. The upshot now that conservatives are gaining control of the same sacred institution is a trap of their own making. After years of preaching deference, they can’t turn vow defiance merely because justices are no longer voting their way. They’ve worked for years to shut the people out of the decision-making process because that was somehow the progressive thing to do. But the effect is to render them more helpless than ever now that people like Barrett want to shut them out even more completely by refusing to answer the simplest question.
As for the latest pipedream known as packing the court, it will never happen because Democrats don’t have the guts and a know-nothing machine politician like Joe Biden will never go along. So liberals have no choice but to submit to a judicial dictatorship that they largely created.
The outlook is not good. The more the constitutional apparatus towers over the people, the more self-government will turn into a meaningless formula. Instead of a modern democracy, America will return to its roots as a rickety old eighteenth-century republic that is increasingly unresponsive and corrupt. U.S. politicians likes nothing more than lecturing other countries about democracy. But before they open their big yap again, they should put their own house in order before the walls collapse and the roof caves in.
The U.S. today spends more than $80 billion a year incarcerating 2.3 million people in state and federal prisons, local jails, youth facilities and deportation centers. That’s $80 billion that comes out of public coffers and goes into public confinement.
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many were shocked to see woman, children and migrants — including many pre-trial and pre-hearing — who had never been convicted of anything crammed into overcrowded lock-ups that might as well have been petri dishes for community spread of the disease.
By the middle of October, close to 150,000 residents and almost 30,000 staff and workers had tested positive. 1,122 detainees and 42 staff had died according to the Behind Bars Covid Data Project of UCLA.
With movements calling for defunding and divesting, people are finally talking about spending and raising the heat on the thousands of corporations that profit off the millions of people we lock up.
For many Americans, there’s never been a better time to reconsider the entire system. Years of work by abolitionists like Angela Davis, Ruthie Gilmore, Mariame Kaba and organizations like Critical Resistance are paying off.
With movements calling for defunding and divesting, people are finally talking about spending and raising the heat on the thousands of corporations that profit off the millions of people we lock up. The list of 4,100 prison contractors from the advocacy group Worth Rises includes thousands of names you know, like Black and Decker and Smith and Wesson, and thousands more you don’t.
That heat has translated into action. In 2019, JP Morgan and Bank of America agreed to stop lending to prison construction. The HEROES Act passed by the House in the early days of the pandemic restored FCC regulation over the crazy costs of prison phone calls. One individual was shamed off an LA Art museum board this fall.
Divestment has a track record. In South Africa, it was economic pressure, from students and shareholders and politicians and unions that pushed racial apartheid into crisis.
But today, while South Africa’s government looks a lot like the nation, the biggest corporations, and the lion’s share of the nation’s capital, is still overwhelmingly in white hands.
The U.S. has a chance to go one better than South Africa. As much as we talk about harm and what hurts our society, our neighborhoods and our democracy, we also need to talk about healing. And that means money needs to move not just out of incarceration and into care, but into the hands of those people and communities whom our current system has harmed most.
Especially after Covid, the most contentious election in living memory and the most layoffs since the 1930s, we need to invest in what closes our killer wealth gap and makes our society whole. Community healthcare, education, arts, worker-owned businesses? What difference could $80 billion make invested in improving the life chances of the most vulnerable? And beyond voting for someone else to do it, how would you yourself go about investing in that?
If a U.S. political giant falls in Washington, D.C. but nobody is around to hear it, did Russia do it? Judging by the way the Democrats have been overplaying the anti-Russia card for the past four years, we already know the answer to that question.
Last week, the New York Post fired off a bombshell story that exposed emails allegedly belonging to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The messages – discovered on a laptop that the younger Biden had reportedly dropped off at a Delaware computer repair shop in April 2019 – point to a level of corruption and nepotism that is shocking even by modern standards.
The NY Post article has new info. It has a copy of the email from Vadym Pozharskyi, adviser to the board of Burisma, thanking Hunter Biden for giving him the “opportunity to meet your father.” Joe Biden has denied knowledge of his son’s dealings with Burisma. pic.twitter.com/4KytWTcB0F
— Jorge Salcedo (@j_salcedo) October 14, 2020
To briefly summarize the revelations, via the Post exclusive: “Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing…Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin by threatening to withhold a $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee during a December 2015 trip to Kiev.”
That’s an awful lot of potential political malfeasance in one paragraph, and even more so when it is remembered that Donald Trump was impeached by the Democrats for merely requesting that Kiev look into Joe Biden’s activities in Ukraine while serving in the Obama administration.
But as predictable as vodka flowing during Russian New Years, the usual social media suspects played brilliant defense for the Bidens, blocking not only U.S. government agencies from retweeting the Post story, but blocking the Post from doing so as well. While happy to accommodate the New York Times’ unsubstantiated story on Donald Trump’s tax status just a month earlier, suddenly the virtual house that Jack built was adamant about protecting its users from “hacked material.” This blithering nonsense had the unfortunate effect of placing the question of Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act, which grants social media immunity from legal action with regards to third-party postings on their platforms, front and center while the Post story languished.
Twitter censors @JudiciaryGOP. But not the Ayatollah or the Chinese Communist Party?
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) October 15, 2020
The Streisand Effect quickly kicked in for Republicans, however, as they screamed in one voice that they had found the elusive smoking gun, even as William Barr has gone missing in action. The Democrats, on the other hand, who enjoy almost total support from the media industrial complex, were content to see the news distorted or ignored altogether.
In fact, reading The Washington Post’s report on the story, the Bidens were just innocent bystanders caught up in an act of violence orchestrated by none other than Trump ally Rudy Giuliani and, yes, the Kremlin.
Top-heavy with totally believable “former officials familiar with the matter,” the Bezos-owned publication opened with this bang: “U.S. intelligence agencies warned the White House last year that President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani was the target of an influence operation by Russian intelligence…”
The Hunter Biden emails were fabricated by the same Russian operative who beat up Jussie Smollett, wrote homophobic slurs on Joy Reid’s blog, and hacked Steve Scully.
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) October 17, 2020
The article continued, saying Giuliani was “interacting with people tied to Russian intelligence” in the course of a December 2019 trip to Ukraine, where he was said to be collecting evidence to “expose corrupt acts by former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.”
Now before reading the next paragraph, ask yourself where were the famous Silicon Valley fact-checkers when this pulp fiction was being served up hot and spicy to an unsuspecting public? “The warnings to the White House, which have not previously been reported, led national security adviser Robert O’Brien to caution Trump in a private conversation that any information Giuliani brought back from Ukraine should be considered contaminated by Russia, one of the former officials said.”
So according to the Post, a phantom figure inside of the White House was somehow privy to a “private conversation” between Trump and O’Brien. In the course of this reputed discussion, which can neither be proved or disproved, O’Brien thought it would be a great idea, at a time when Russiagate had already been dismissed as a grand hoax, to warn his boss that veteran lawyer Giuliani had been hoodwinked by the Russkis. Somehow that all sounds very strange.
The Post article continues: “Do what you want to do, but your friend Rudy has been worked by Russian assets in Ukraine,” this person said. Officials wanted ‘to protect the president from coming out and saying something stupid,’ particularly since he was facing impeachment over his own efforts to strong-arm Ukraine’s president into investigating the Bidens.”
“But O’Brien emerged from the meeting uncertain whether he had gotten through to the president,” the article continued. “Trump had ‘shrugged his shoulders’ at O’Brien’s warning, the former official said, and dismissed concern about his lawyer’s activities by saying, ‘That’s Rudy.’”
Reading that delightful nonsense makes it easier to understand why so many people today accuse the mainstream media of peddling in ‘fake news’ and misinformation. The Post effectively diverted the attention of millions of readers away from the elephant in the room – which was, of course, the devastating Biden emails – as it accused Trump and Giuliani of being led astray once again by those rascally Russians. Will they never learn?
Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff described the Hunter Biden emails as part of a smear campaign coming “from the Kremlin.”
“We know that this whole smear on Joe Biden comes from the Kremlin,” Schiff told CNN in an interview. “That’s been clear for well over a year now that they’ve been pushing this false narrative about this vice president and his son.”
The Wall Street Journal, to its credit, corrected the record, stating in an op-ed piece that “Americans expect that politicians will lie, but sometimes the examples are so brazen that they deserve special notice.” The article went on to show that Schiff “spread falsehoods shamelessly about Russia and Donald Trump for three years even as his own committee gathered contrary evidence.”
Russia keeps its cool
It should be mentioned that the Russians are greatly amused by the never-ending charges, which have provided the fuel for an entire cottage industry of jokes. Vladimir Putin himself could not resist a bit of tongue-in cheek commentary this month when he was asked who he favored more in the U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump or Joe Biden. The answer may have shocked the Democrats, portraying as they do Trump as some sort of compromised Kremlin puppet.
After emphasizing for the umpteenth time that Russians “do not interfere” in the internal affairs of foreign countries, Putin went on to say that “the Democratic Party is traditionally closer to the so-called liberal values, closer to Social Democratic ideas, if compared to Europe. And it was from the Social Democratic environment that the Communist Party evolved.”
Here the Russian leader seems to have been alluding to the radical progressive wing of the Democratic Party – driven in no small part by freshman House member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America – which has enjoyed a surge of popularity following the election of Donald Trump in 2016.
Putin continued: “After all, I was a member of the Soviet Communist Party for nearly 20 years, or more precisely 18 years. I was a rank-and-file member, but it can be said that I believed in the party’s ideas. I still like many of these left-wing values. Equality and fraternity. What is bad about them? In fact, they are akin to Christian values. Yes, they are difficult to implement, but they are very attractive, nevertheless. In other words, this can be seen as an ideological basis for developing contacts with the Democratic representative.”
The Russian leader then made what appeared to be a subtle allusion to the Black Lives Matter movement, which gained considerable influence, not to mention hard cash following the tragic death of George Floyd during his arrest by a white police officer: “It is a fact that African Americans constitute a stable electorate, one of the electorates of the Democratic Party. It is a well-known fact, and there is nothing new about this. The Soviet Union also supported the African Americans’ movement for their legitimate rights. Back in the 1930s, Communist International leaders wrote that both black and white workers had a common enemy – imperialism and capitalism. They also wrote that these people could become the most effective group in the future revolutionary battle.”
“So, this is something that can be seen, to a degree, as common values, if not a unifying agent for us,” Putin concluded. “I am not afraid to say so. This is true.”
The world should be grateful that Russia, a nuclear-armed nation and former arch-enemy of the United States, continues to maintain its sense of humor and dignity as a large segment of Washington, D.C. suffers yet another bout of Russophobia. How long the Russian bear will continue to accept such fake news with coolness and composure remains to be seen.
The UN sees a climate catastrophe on the horizon but what are they doing about it? Watch the video and read more in the article by Tim Kirby.
In my new book, Capitalism and Coronavirus: How Institutionalized Greed Turned a Crisis into a Catastrophe, I argue that neoliberalism exacerbated COVID-related deaths in six steps, one of which was infecting political thinking and government structures with a for-profit, cost-cutting ideology.
Epidemiologists agree that early intervention is crucial for curbing the worst effects of pandemics. America’s decentralized, state-level, bureaucratic response systems needed a President willing and able to take charge. Trump did the opposite. In order to keep market confidence as high as possible, Trump kept telling the public that all was well, leaving underfunded and privatized bureaucracies to navigate through the chaos.
JANUARY: “IT WILL ALL WORK OUT WELL”
On January 5th 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that an apparent virus had been detected in China. A day later, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning to America. Ten days after the CDC established the Coronavirus Incident Management System, the organization collaborated with just three U.S. airports to screen passengers arriving from Wuhan, China (from which the virus supposedly originated): Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.
On 21st, the U.S. announced its first case of coronavirus. Trump said: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China … It’s going to be just fine.” Three days later, Trump tweeted: “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well.” Later, Trump blamed China for the outbreak.
On 29th, the Coronavirus Task Force was established and chaired by Alex Azar, a former Republican donor and ex-senior executive of Eli Lilly pharmaceuticals, a company that benefitted from Trump’s public endorsements of their products.
Dr. Rick Bright, Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency, warned that the U.S. lacked personal protective equipment (PPE) and other vital materials. His warnings were ignored and, as a result, according to his testimony: “lives were endangered, and I believe lives were lost.” Later, Bright was fired, apparently under pressure from Trump, for questioning the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine: a drug unproven for coronavirus treatment. On 31st, as Azar’s Health and Human Services department declared a public health emergency, Trump banned travel to the U.S. from China, effective two days later.
FEBRUARY: “VERY MUCH UNDER CONTROL”
On February 6th, the first person to die from/with COVID-19 in the U.S. perished in Santa Clara. Their cause of death was not confirmed until late-April. Two days later, regional labs learned that the CDC test-kits didn’t work. Trump’s regulatory wrecking ball had been swung at barriers to corporate profits, not at the regulations that hinder emergency responses. As a result, business found it easier to make money as scientists’ hands were bound in red tape.
A Washington Post investigation suggests that the CDC asked various university labs across the nation to develop test kits, as opposed to centralizing the operation. Neither the CDC nor the regional labs had adequate funding or capacity. Once the tests were ready, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had to approve them. The FDA’s rules on Emergency Use Authorization limited tests to the labs, such as university hospitals in which they were incorporated. Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner, approved one of the tests on 4th February.
Four days later, public health officials in Colorado, Nebraska, New York (NY), and elsewhere, found that the reagents (chemicals that isolate and amplify genetic material for ease of detection) needed to be modified, as NY and other labs reported serious flaws. But FDA regulations prevented this. For example, Dr. Alex Greninger, Assistant Director of Washington University’s clinical virology lab, spent 100 hours filling in FDA paperwork only to be told that his test results had been sent through the wrong channels. To give one example, Greninger was told: “[W]e have not received the official submission through DCC.” He later learned that the bureaucrats were referring to an entity called the Document Control Center.
FDA rules also demanded that digital copies be posted to them on a disk. Numerous test developers scattered across the U.S. complained in emails about the restrictions imposed upon them, but none raised the issue with HHS Secretary, Azar. A third of the staff at the Mayo Clinic’s so-called rapid response team were assigned to FDA paperwork. Joanne Bartkus, Director of a lab in Minnesota, described the CDC’s silence as “deafening.” By then, the WHO, working with German scientists, had produced 250,000 functioning tests for global distribution. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn dithered, blustering that the CDC and FDA worked closely, adding the usual pabulum about needing trustworthy tests.
These matters could have been overcome, had Trump declared a national emergency and fast-tracked executive orders or legislation. Instead, on February10th, Trump said: “Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. I hope that’s true.” Two weeks later, Trump tweeted: “Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA … Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” The CDC, meanwhile, declared its preparation for emergency.
On the same day, the Association of Public Health Laboratories wrote to the FDA, stating: “We are now many weeks into the response with still no diagnostic or surveillance test available outside of the CDC for the vast majority of our member laboratories.” Nancy Messonnier, Director of National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, confirmed publicly that the CDC was preparing for a pandemic. This coincided with, or perhaps caused, a dip in the stock market. Trump threatened to fire Messonnier.
On 26th, Trump put the Evangelical, Creationist, ex-lawyer, VP Mike Pence, in charge of the Coronavirus Task Force. On the same day, the FDA finally approved a test, but it was limited to CDC distribution, which had at last ironed out the wrinkles. As the CDC confirmed that the virus was spreading in communities, Trump lied and told the public: “We’re testing everybody that we need to test … [W]e’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner … [W]ithin a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
Two days later, Trump said of COVID and the Democrats: “They’re politicizing it … [T]his is their new hoax.” At the end of February, a CDC-FDA memo prompted by the intervention of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was working under Azar, acknowledged that “a much broader interagency approach is needed to fill the greater need for diagnostics by commercial manufacturers and laboratories capable of developing their own tests.” On 28th, Dr. Greninger and colleagues wrote to Congress pleading for a relaxation of FDA rules. Finally, a day later, the restrictions were eased, allowing Greninger and others to begin widespread testing with functioning kits on March 2nd. Brett P. Girior became head of the administration’s testing effort. He conceded that regulatory easing “might have been useful earlier.”
MARCH: “JUST STAY CALM. IT WILL GO AWAY”
On March 2nd, Trump claimed that vaccines would soon be ready, prompting an intervention from Fauci, who said that actually they would take at least one year, “no matter how fast you go.” Within a week, as Trump was telling a Town Hall that “[i]t’s all going to work out. Everybody has to be calm,” Taskforce head and VP, Mike Pence, acknowledged: “We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.” A day later, Trump signed an $8.3bn COVID bill, lying that: “Anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.” In another lie on March 8th, Trump said: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine-tuned plan at the White House for our attack on Coronavirus” (sic).
As it became clear that a pandemic was emerging and the U.S. was not prepared, Trump tweeted a false equivalence on 9th, likening coronavirus to influenza. When tens of thousands of Americans die each flu season, “[n]othing is shut down, life & the economy go on.” A day later, Trump told Republican Senators: “Just stay calm. It will go away.” Within 24 hours, as the market continued to drop, Trump issued a statement that imported goods would be banned. This false statement appeared to cause more market fluctuations until he tweeted a clarification that people, not goods, would be banned from entering the U.S.
Finally, on 13th, Trump declared a national emergency. When a reporter raised the issue of Trump’s previous dissolution of the National Security Council’s pandemic response unit, Trump replied: “I just think it’s a nasty question.” Three days later, Trump issued a recommendation, not an enforceable order or decree, that Americans stay away from public places. Trump lied again and said that “[w]ith several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly.” On the same day, the stock market dropped a record 3,000 points. Twenty-four hours later, Trump boasted of his sagacity: “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” He then started to refer to it as the “Chinese virus.”
On 18th, Trump signed the $100bn Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Passed by the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate, the Act did not cover America’s 1.6 million or so gig-economy or laid off part-time workers, unless they could prove that they are looking for work, nor did it centralize the U.S.’s state-level social security crisis, whose variability means that some states make it easier to claim than others. The corporate, Democrat-supporting mainstream media covered for their favorite Party, referring to the flawed bill as “Trump’s Act.”
On 18th, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to compel 3M, General Electric, General Motors, Hill-Rom, Medtronic, ResMed, Royal Philips, and Vyaire Medical to produce PPE, hand sanitizer, ventilators, etc. Trump falsely claimed that the FDA had approved the use of hydroxychloroquine. A couple of days later, echoing the tweets of the multibillionaire Elon Musk, Trump tweeted in upper-case, “Hydroxychloroquine & Azithromycin, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You!”
Within a week, the share price of Sanofi, the company that manufactures hydroxychloroquine under the brand name Plaquenil, rose from a low of $38 on 20th to a high of $43. Later, Sanofi announced its intention to award the U.S. government first dibs on a future COVID-19 vaccine. CEO Paul Hudson said: “The U.S. government has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk.”
Democratic and Republican Governors are also to blame for in-fighting and vacillating over lockdowns. But, as President, Trump takes the ultimate responsibility for not only refusing to act, but lying and giving the impression that all was well. The early inactions, lies, dithering, and denial set the U.S. on a path to where the nation has 4.2 percent of the world’s population and, by mid-2020, had nearly a quarter of its COVID-related deaths.
In countries and states with far fewer financial resources but community-level thinking, like Kerala in India and Vietnam, which borders China, COVID-related deaths are small by comparison.
The irrational obsession among the American political class with allegations of Russia being portrayed as a threat to its national security has been around for a long time. The mentality extends to other designated foreign “enemies” of the U.S. Typically it is a ruling class obsession, not shared innately by most ordinary Americans.
This week saw yet more U.S. intelligence claims of Russian malign interference in American politics (as well as alleged interference from China and Iran). The claims are characteristically hollow and tedious. But this irrational obsession long predates the Trump era. We can go back to the Red Scare years of the Cold War in the 1950s. And even beyond that.
Indeed, as Ron Ridenour contends in his excellent book, The Russian Peace Threat, the American phobia is traced back to the 1917 revolution and the creation of the Soviet Union. The phobia was concealed during the Cold War decades as a seemingly ideological confrontation with communism, but since the Soviet Union dissolved nearly 30 years ago, the American hostility towards Russia has only intensified, not diminished. The supposed confrontation with communism was therefore not the underlying whole rationale.
The explanation has more to do with how American power views all rivals as unacceptable. Other nations are either footstools for U.S. power, in which case they are euphemistically called “allies” or “partners”. Or else if they are labelled “enemies” when they don’t allow themselves to be subjugated to Washington’s writ.
Russia and China are the primary examples of how U.S. power demonizes others today. But the alleged threat from both is illusory. The Russophobia and its Chinese version must however be maintained because phobia is the essence of how American imperial power operates. It is a zero-sum mentality demanding complete deference from others or, if failing that, then garnering complete hostility from the U.S.
Creating foreign enemies is not only about controlling international relations. The invocation of foreign enemies is also a way for the American ruling class to control its domestic population.
The surprise election in 2016 of Donald Trump to the White House so disturbed the political class that it was compelled to delegitimize his presidency by alleging that it was due to Russian interference. The relentless and irrational Russophobia to undermine Trump by his domestic political enemies has only transpired to fatally weaken American global power. The political squabbling and infighting has wreaked havoc on the moral authority and legitimacy of American institutions of governance. The legislative government, the presidency, the judiciary, the intelligence apparatus, the legacy media, and so on. Every supposed pillar of American democracy has been eroded over the past four years with alarming speed.
A big part of this precipitous demise is due to Russophobia: the relentless sowing of doubt and confusion in American institutions, primarily the presidency, with insinuations of Russian interference. In their attempts to delegitimize Trump, his domestic enemies among the U.S. establishment have ended up delegitimizing public esteem of American democracy. How paradoxical! America’s own worst enemy turns out to be itself.
According to one recent poll, some two-thirds of Americans believe that the election on November 3 will not be fair. The bickering and vilification over the past four years has ended up leaving the majority of voters with no confidence in their democracy. Russophobia has been a central part of the self-defeating process.
Returning to the Russian “peace threat”, it is a counterintuitive albeit accurate theme. It is not exclusively related to Russia. One could include contemporary U.S. relations with China, Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, North Korea and other designated “enemies”. For the greatest danger to American imperial power is the prospect of peaceful international relations. U.S. power relies on capitalist exploitation of the globe’s resources. For this to succeed, the world must be framed in terms of ideological battle zones so that American corporate power can take advantage by demonizing “enemies”. The Cuban revolution of 1959 was immediately targeted by the U.S. as unacceptable because it represented the “threat” of democracy and peace in the rest of Latin America, thus impeding American imperialism.
Likewise, we can cite the Russian revolution of 1917, only that development was on a much greater scale. American and other Western capitalist ruling classes had to kill the Russian “peace threat”. The attack on the Soviet Union began immediately with Western-backed counter-revolutionary war on Russia. The hostility culminated in covert Western support for the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich and the Nazi attack on Soviet Russia. And the U.S.-led Western antagonism continued after World War Two for the five decades of the Cold War, during which the world lived under the shadow of nuclear annihilation.
As noted above, even after the supposed “evil” Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the U.S. and its Western allies have continued to demonize Russia, even though the latter does not actually pose an ideological or military threat.
The “threat of peace” comes from Russia’s principled position of demanding genuine parity for all nations. Such parity is unacceptable to the United States which through its presumed exceptionalism only adheres to unilateral dominance. The imminent collapse of the New START nuclear arms control accord due to American prevarication in the face of reasonable offers from Russian President Vladimir Putin for extending the treaty is a manifestation of the “threat of peace”.
Russophobia is a diseased mentality among the American ruling class. It is endemic. It is an indispensable part of their conception of U.S. global power. Russophobia has been central to attempted control of foreign relations, and just as importantly, as part of the attempted control of America’s own domestic politics.
The forthcoming presidential election is descending into farce with grave implications for civil unrest in the U.S. Central to this farce is the collapse in confidence, trust and respect among Americans for their own democratic process and institutions of government.
Russia, or other foreign powers like China, Iran and so on, have nothing to do with this inherent American implosion. Yet Russophobia is so engrained that the self-inflicted political crisis is blamed on nefarious Russian, and other foreign, plots. Which just goes to show: delusion and paranoia know no bounds.
After 40 years of “strategic ambiguity” in its partnership with the United States, Taiwan has taken the unprecedented move of calling Washington for “clarity” on whether it would be defended in the event of armed conflict with China.
The Washington Post reported last week a senior Taiwanese representative to the U.S. as saying: “We need some degree of clarity.” The post headlined with the question: “Would the U.S. protect Taiwan from China?”
The growing nervousness on the island territory off China’s southern coast comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. Those tensions have been fueled by the Trump administration’s sharp divergence from respecting Washington’s erstwhile One China policy.
Washington severed official relations with Taiwan in 1979 in deference to China’s claims of territorial sovereignty over the island. That move was an expedient concession by Washington to inveigle China away from alliance with the Soviet Union. Taiwan became a redoubt for nationalist forces after the 1949 victory in the civil war by Chinese communists led by Mao Zedong.
During the past four decades, the U.S. has maintained friendly relations with the separatist government in Taipei. Past American administrations have sold arms to Taiwan. However, Washington has always refrained from declaring a military defense pact with the island, even as Beijing reserves the right to take back control by use of force if necessary.
Under Trump, relations were thrown into upheaval. Washington has signed off on an unprecedented number of offensive weapons deals over the past four years with Taiwan. Just last week the Trump administration gave notice that it was moving ahead with three separate advanced-arms packages, including rocket and missile launchers. The arming of Taiwan has provoked anger in Beijing which views the U.S. moves as turning the territory into a “porcupine”, and emboldening separatist intransigence.
There has also been a step-change in American military deployment in the Taiwan Strait. Last week saw the 10th passage this year of a guided-missile destroyer through the strait which the Pentagon calls “freedom of navigation” exercises in international waters.
China has stepped up its military presence in the southern region. Earlier his month, Beijing launched maneuvers which simulated an invasion of Taiwan. Warplanes of the People’s Liberation Army have also increased flights near Taiwan. From Beijing’s point of view, these drills are legal because it holds territorial claim over Taiwan.
The Trump administration seems to be using Taiwan in its wider confrontation with China over trade and geopolitical objectives. By ramping up support for Taiwan, it is calculated to be a destabilizing jab at China.
This summer, the U.S. sent its most senior official to Taiwan since 1979. Health Secretary Alex Azar’s visit infuriated Beijing as it openly flouted the One China status of Taiwan in relation to China. It was seen as a provocative snub to Beijing’s authority.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen is being buoyed by what she sees as Washington’s moves towards restoring diplomatic relations. The Trump administration has called for Taiwan to be given full representation at the United Nations, which again is a daring insult to Beijing’s sovereignty.
It is not clear what policy a Joe Biden administration would adopt if the Democrat presidential candidate is elected to the White House on November 3. One hint comes from Michèle Flournoy who is speculated to be in the running to become Biden’s defense secretary. In June this year, Flournoy wrote a lengthly article in Foreign Affairs in which she urged tougher American military support for Taiwan to “deter China”.
On October 10, Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen delivered a strident separatist speech in she called for dialogue with Beijing “as equals”. While the proposition for dialogue might sound welcome, the presumption of “equals” would be seen in Beijing as impudent.
The dangerous tensions over Taiwan are a direct manifestation of U.S. policy to antagonize China. Taiwan is a classic pawn in a bigger game which Washington is pursuing with regard to trying to contain the rise of China as a perceived global rival to the U.S.
The Trump administration’s reckless arms sales to Taiwan have little to do with “protection” of the breakaway territory. China’s far greater military power is no match for the U.S. weapons being plied to the island. The American military-industrial complex is enjoying a surge in sales and profits, but there seems no conviction on Washington’s part to step up to the plate with regard to committing to a defense pact.
That self-serving ambiguity is putting Taiwan in a discomfiting bind. It is being caught in a geopolitical crossfire between the U.S. and China. In its antagonism with Beijing, Washington is fueling separatist tensions which could spark an armed confrontation through miscalculation or frustration.
No wonder Taiwan is belatedly demanding “clarity” from Washington as tensions reach boiling point. Nerves are fraying because, it seems, Taiwan is being assigned the role of American cannon fodder. The clarity it is seeking is unlikely to be rendered by Washington as the latter is only using Taiwan as a device against China.
The new president-elect of Bolivia, Luis Arce, has told the Spanish international news agency EFE that he intends to restore the nation’s relations with Cuba, Venezuela and Iran. This reverses the policies of the US-backed coup regime which immediately began closing embassies, kicking out doctors and severing relations with those nations after illegally seizing power last year.
Arce also spoke of warm relations with Russia and China.
“We are going to reestablish all relations,” he told EFE. “This government has acted very ideologically, depriving the Bolivian people of access to Cuban medicine, to Russian medicine, to advances in China. For a purely ideological issue, it has exposed the population in a way that is unnecessary and harmful.”
Arce expressed a willingness to “open the door to all countries, the only requirement is that they respect us and respect our sovereignty, nothing more. All countries, no matter the size, who want a relationship with Bolivia, the only requirement is that we respect each other as equals. If that is so, we have no problem.“
If you know anything about US imperialism and global politics, you will recognize that last bit as brazen heresy against imperial doctrine.
Bolivia will restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, said President-elect Luis Arce in an interview with EFE. He will also re-establish good relations with China & Russia.
Arce condems the coup govt for its ideological & pro-US approach to foreign policy. pic.twitter.com/3ATXjSVbuF
— Kawsachun News (@KawsachunNews) October 20, 2020
The unofficial doctrine of the empire-like cluster of international allies that is loosely centralized around the United States does not recognize the sovereignty of other nations, much less respect them as equals. This empire takes it as a given that it has every right to determine what every nation in the world does, who their leaders will be, where their resources will go, and what their military posture on the world stage will be. If a government refuses to accept the empire’s right to determine these things, it is targeted, sabotaged, attacked, and eventually replaced with a puppet regime.
The US-centralized empire functions like a giant blob that slowly works to absorb nations which have not yet been converted into imperial client states. It is rare that a nation is able to escape from that blob and rejoin the unabsorbed nations like China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba in their fight for self-sovereignty, and it is encouraging that it was able to do so.
We saw the dynamics of the imperial blob explained quite vividly last year by American political analyst John Mearsheimer at a debate hosted by the Australian think tank Center for Independent Studies. Mearsheimer told his audience that the US is going to do everything it can to halt China’s rise and prevent it from becoming the regional hegemon in the eastern hemisphere, and that Australia should align with the US in that battle or else it would face the wrath of Washington.
The rules based human rights defending democratic order, ladies and gentlemen https://t.co/ZEfxGm6LFi
— RaHoWarrior Steve Bannon, 1st Boomer Division (@healingbyhenry) October 8, 2020
Mearsheimer said China is going to continue to grow economically and will convert that economic power into military power to dominate Asia “the way the US dominates the western hemisphere”, and explained why he think the US and its allies have every ability to prevent that from happening.
“Now the question is what does this all mean for Australia?” Mearsheimer said. “Well, you’re in a quandary for sure. Everybody knows what the quandary is. And by the way you’re not the only country in East Asia that’s in this quandary. You trade a lot with China, and that trade is very important for your prosperity, no question about that. Security-wise you really want to go with us. It makes just a lot more sense, right? And you understand that security is more important than prosperity, because if you don’t survive, you’re not gonna prosper.”
“Now some people say there’s an alternative: you can go with China,” said Mearsheimer. “Right you have a choice here: you can go with China rather the United States. There’s two things I’ll say about that. Number one, if you go with China you want to understand you are our enemy. You are then deciding to become an enemy of the United States. Because again, we’re talking about an intense security competition.”
“You’re either with us or against us,” he continued. “And if you’re trading extensively with China, and you’re friendly with China, you’re undermining the United States in this security competition. You’re feeding the beast, from our perspective. And that is not going to make us happy. And when we are not happy you do not want to underestimate how nasty we can be. Just ask Fidel Castro.”
Nervous laughter from the Australian think tank audience punctuated Mearsheimer’s more incendiary observations. The CIA is known to have made numerous attempts to assassinate Castro.
If you’ve ever wondered how the the US is so successful in getting other nations around the world to align with its interests, this is how. It’s not that the US is a good actor on the world stage or a kind friend to its allies, it’s that it will destroy you if you disobey it.
Australia is not aligned with the US to protect itself from China. Australia is aligned with the US to protect itself from the US. As a Twitter follower recently observed, the US doesn’t have allies, only hostages.
As the recently released Palace Letters illustrated, the CIA staged a coup to oust Australia’s Prime Minister Gough Whitlam because he was prioritizing the nation’s self-sovereignty. Journalist John Pilger wrote in 2014 after Whitlam’s death:
Australia briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An American commentator wrote that no country had “reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution”. Whitlam ended his nation’s colonial servility. He abolished royal patronage, moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement, supported “zones of peace” and opposed nuclear weapons testing.
The primary difference between the coup in Australia and the one in Bolivia was that the Bolivians refused to roll over and take it while we shrugged and said no worries mate. We had every option to become a real nation and insist on our own self-sovereignty, but we, unlike the Bolivians, were too thoroughly propagandized and placid. Some hostages escape, some don’t.
The US empire got rid of Whitlam, and then when we elected in 2007 a Prime Minister who was considered too friendly with China they did it again; in order to facilitate the Obama administration’s “pivot” against Beijing the pro-China Kevin Rudd was replaced by the compliant Julia Gillard. World Socialist Website reports:
Secret US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks in December 2010 revealed that “protected sources” of the US embassy were pivotal figures in Gillard’s elevation. For months, key coup plotters, including senators Mark Arbib and David Feeney, and Australian Workers Union (AWU) chief Paul Howes, secretly provided the US embassy with regular updates on internal government discussions and divisions within the leadership…
Rudd had proposed an Asia-Pacific Community, attempting to mediate the escalating strategic rivalry between the US and China, and opposed the formation of a Quadrilateral military alliance between the US, India, Japan and Australia, aimed against China.
Gillard, who had cultivated her pro-US credentials through Australia-US and Australia-Israel leadership forums, was literally selected by the US embassy as a reliable replacement to Rudd. In her first public appearance after knifing Rudd, she demonstrated her devotion to Washington by posing for a photo op with the US ambassador, flanked by US and Australian flags. She soon had a phone call with Obama, who had previously twice postponed a planned visit to Australia under Rudd.
The centrality of Australia to the US preparations for war against China became apparent in November 2011, when Obama announced his “pivot to Asia” in the Australian parliament, rather than the White House. During the visit, Gillard and Obama signed an agreement to station American Marines in Darwin and allow greater US access to other military bases, placing the Australian population on the front line of any conflict with China.
Gillard’s government also sanctioned the expansion of the major US spying and weapons-targeting base at Pine Gap, agreed to the US military’s increased use of Australian ports and airbases, and stepped up Australia’s role in the US-led top-level “Five Eyes” global surveillance network, which monitors the communications and online activities of millions of people worldwide.
Rudd’s removal marked a turning point. US imperialism, via the Obama administration, sent a blunt message: there was no longer any room for equivocation by the Australian ruling elite. Regardless of which party was in office, it had to line up unconditionally behind the US conflict with China, no matter what the consequences for the loss of its massive export markets in China.
This is what we’re seeing all around the world now: a slow motion third world war being waged by the US power alliance against the remaining nations which have resisted being absorbed into it. As the most powerful of the unabsorbed nations by far, China is the ultimate target of this war. If the empire succeeds in its ultimate goal of stopping China, it will have attained a de facto planetary government which no population will be able to oppose or dissent from.
I don’t know about you, but I never consented to a world where powerful nuclear-armed forces wave armageddon weapons at each other while fighting for planetary domination and subverting less powerful nations if they don’t play along with their cold war games. Detente and peace must be sought and obtained, and we must all work to live together on this planet in collaboration with each other and with our ecosystem.
This omnicidal, ecocidal way of living that the oligarchic empire has laid out for us does not suit our species, and it will drive us to extinction along with God knows how many other species if we do not find a way to end it. Rulers historically do not cede their power willingly, so we ordinary human beings as a collective are going to have to find a way to destroy their propaganda engine, force an end to imperialism, and build a healthy world.
A victory for the majority of Bolivians, a victory for the world’s poor, the indigenous, and supporters of equality, world peace, bread and land for all. October 19 exit polls show that the majority’s leader, Luis Arce, and running mate David Choquehuanca Céspedes, won the election.
With around a quarter of the votes counted, exit polls showed them ahead of rightest opponents with 52-53% of the vote. No runoff election will be necessary.
Opponents Carlos Mesa (a former president) and Luis Fernandez Camacho received around 30% and 14% of the voters. Both are right-wingers who aggravated a military-threatened coup last November. Mesa, and the self-appointed coup president Jeanine Añez, have admitted defeat.
Mesa was ousted from power in 2005 following large demonstrations against privatized natural gas companies. Camacho is known as the “Bolivian Bolsonaro” in reference to Brazil’s extreme right-wing president. Camacho’s hometown, Santa Cruz, is the stronghold of the separatist movement. He led protests that culminated in the coup against Morales.
Arce and Choquehuanca are leading members of MAS (Movement for Socialism), whose founding leader was Evo Morales, president 2006-17. They embrace the indigenous political tradition of Suma Qamaña, emphasizing reciprocity, collectiveness, and balance with Mother Nature (Pachamama).
(See also the excellent background article by Jeremy Kuzmarov, Covert Action Magazine managing editor. )
“We have recovered democracy,” Arce said in a public speech following the cited exit polls. “We promise to respond to our pledge to work and bring our program to fruition. We are going to govern for all Bolivians and construct a government of national unity.”
Luis Arce served as Morales’ minister of economy and public finance. David Choquehuanca served as the foreign minister from January 2006 to January 2017. A couple months later, he became secretary general of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).
Jeanine Añez supported Mesa’s candidacy after she dropped out of the election race. She received little support due to corruption scandals; abuse of civil liberties; backing police murders of three dozen indigenous people; a 30% decline in exports; eliminating the Ministry of Culture; reversing an EU-backed program allowing farmers to cultivate coca leaves for non-narcotic purposes; for allowing foreign corporations to control lithium resources; and poor response to the Covid-19 crisis, which has claimed 8,000 Bolivian lives and 130,000 infected out of a population of 12 million.
Twice postponed due to the corona virus, the October 18 election was the culmination of last year’s October election. In order to prevent a bloody civil war, Morales resigned under force and went into exile, first to Mexico and then to Argentina where he is today.
Morales received more votes than Carlos Mesa, who ran against him last year. Mesa, however, called Morales’ claimed victory a “fraud”, contesting the president’s assertion that he had won more than 50% of the votes, which meant there would be no runoff election. The US-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) claimed that Mesa was right.
The fraud allegation is discredited by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) commissioned by a liberal research group based in Washington, D.C. They found that the OAS had overstated the significance of voting discrepancies from before and after a pause in the vote count.
“The OAS allegations were indeed the main political foundation of the coup that followed the October 20  election three weeks later,” wrote Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research last month. “But they provided no evidence to support these allegations—because there wasn’t any. This has since been established repeatedly by a slew of expert statistical studies.”
Military Threaten Coup
Perhaps the greatest error Morales made during his generally successful presidency was not to have reformed the military and police, placing anti-racists and pro-socialists in leadership. A year before his attempt to win a fourth term in office, Morales appointed General Williams Kaliman Romero to head the armed forces. Kaliman is one of six key Bolivian coup plotters who had been trained at the US military School of the Americas (SOA was renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). (1)
General Kaliman led the call for Morales removal. He publically stated, “We suggest the President of the State renounce his presidential mandate, allowing peace to be restored and stability maintained for the good of our Bolivia.”
Hours later, Morales said, “I am resigning”, adding it was his “obligation as indigenous president and president of all Bolivians to seek peace.” Vice President Álvaro García Linera also resigned.
Shortly thereafter, Camacho said, “Today we won a battle.” He then entered the government palace with a Catholic priest to “return God” to the palace. Camacho is a multi-millionaire who had spent years leading an overtly fascist separatist organization called the Unión Juvenil Cruceñista.
As soon as Morales stepped down, police ordered his arrest and vandals ransacked his house. Right-wingers happily burned the banner of Bolivia’s indigenous people, showing them that the white elite intended to put them back in their place.
President Donald Trump applauded the coup-makers. “The resignation yesterday of Bolivian President Evo Morales is a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere.” So much for democracy.
Morales-MAS Improved Living Standards
Arce and Choquehuanca ran a campaign based on MAS’s program without much discussion concerning Evo Morales. They have no quarrel, however, with the achievements made under his leadership. (See my piece on this site)
Poverty 2006=60%; 2018=34%; Extreme poverty 2006=38%; 2018=15%
Life expectancy 2006=62; 2015=69; Infant mortality 2006=46 per 1000 live births; 2018=28.8
Bolivia’s economy underwent structural transformation with nationalization of major resources. GDP= 5% to 5.5% annual growth for the last several years. Real (inflation-adjusted) per capita GDP grew by more than 50 percent over 13 years, twice the rate of growth for the Latin American and Caribbean region.
Unemployment 2006=5%; 2017=3.4%
Gender equality 2006=4% women in municipal assembly posts; 2015=50% in municipal posts, 53% in the parliament.
During Morales presidency, all persons 60 years old+ received state pensions, and hundreds of thousands affordable social housing units were built.
Nevertheless, Morales made serious mistakes that alienated many followers. In later years of his presidency, Morales focused power around his personality, reneged on promises, and made contradictory accommodations with some elite interests. He lost a referendum seeking a fourth term for presidency, but maneuvered around that decision. These errors immersed the country in political crises, and split leftists, including some indigenous peoples.
Much of the international “real left”, as opposed to liberal/progressives catering to capitalism, ignore left-wing government errors and corruptions—not just those of Comrade Stalin and Chairman Mao, but also of the new 21st century socialist-oriented governments, including in the ALBA countries.
I believe that we must put an end to patriarchal patterns of top-down leadership. Those of us living in countries where there is no current hope of electing people-oriented governments, and who support revolutions or major progressive shifts of power elsewhere, need to stop glorifying everything they do. To be true solidarity workers, to be true comrades, we need to point out major errors and “sins” where they exist. In that way, we offer real solidarity, and we prevent delusion amongst ourselves and those we wish to encourage and support.
El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido! The People United Will Never Be Defeated!
(1) The military renamed SOA because of effective protests, led by followers of the “theology of liberation”, against training Latin American militarists to use torture against leftist opposition activists and intellectuals. Protestors assert torture is still on the menu in disguise.
Nearly everyone has heard the comment attributed for former Clinton consigliere Rahm Emanuel that one should never let a good crisis go to waste. The implication of the comment is that if there is a major crisis going on the cover it provides permits one to do all sorts of things under the radar that would otherwise be unacceptable. That aphorism is particularly true in the current context as there are multiple crises taking place simultaneously, all of which are being exploited to various degrees by interested parties.
One of the more interesting stories carefully hidden by the smoke being generate by civil unrest, plague and personal scandals is the continued march of American militarism. The story is particularly compelling as neither main party candidate is bothering to talk about it and there is no discussion of foreign policy even planned for the final presidential debate. Last week eccentric multi billionaire Elon Musk announced that he and the Pentagon are developing a new 7,500 m.p.h. missile capable of delivering 80 tons of military cargo nearly anywhere in the world in under an hour. It would undoubtedly be a major advanced capability catering to those military planners who envision continued U.S. intervention worldwide for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, agreement on a new START treaty that would limit the proliferation of some hypersonic weapon systems is stalled because the White House wants to include China in any deal. Beijing is not interested, particularly as Donald Trump is also claiming that Beijing will pay for the multi-trillion dollar stimulus packages that the United States will ultimately require to combat the coronavirus “… because this was not caused by our workers and our people, this was caused by China and China will pay us back in one form or another. We’re gonna take it from China. I tell you now, it’s coming out of China. They’re the ones that caused this problem.”
Indeed, China and Russia continue to be the boogeymen trotted out regularly to scare Americans. Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s State Department issued a statement warning that “some foreign governments, such as those of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Russian Federation, seek to exert influence over U.S. foreign policy through lobbyists, external experts, and think tanks.” Why the statement was issued at this time, so close to elections is unclear, though it is possibly an attempt to line up possible scapegoats if the electoral process does not produce results acceptable to whomever loses. In fact, Russia and China hardly find a place on the list of those who fund lobbyists and think tanks.
Also of interest is another story about how Washington has chosen to interact with the world, one involving both enemy du jour Iran and Venezuela. Readers will undoubtedly recall how the United States seized in international waters four Greek owned but Liberian flagged tankers loaded with gasoline that were bound for Venezuela. The tankers were transporting more than a million gallons of fuel to economic basket case Venezuela, a country which is in its sad condition due to sanctions and other “maximum pressure” imposed by Washington, which has also sanctioned Venezuela’s own oil industry. The fuel was seized based on unilaterally imposed U.S. sanctions on Iranian sale or export of its own petroleum products, a move intended to strangle the Iranian economy and bring about an uprising of the Iranian people. As the sanctions imposed by Washington are not supported by the United Nations or by any other legal authority, the seizure is little more than exercise of a bit of force majeure that used to be called piracy.
Even though foreign and national security policy has not really been discussed in either the Biden or Trump campaign, there is general agreement in both parties that Venezuela is a rogue regime that must be replaced while Iran is an actual, tangible threat due to its alleged misbehavior in the Middle East. It has been dubbed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the “number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world.” Saner voices have observed that neither Venezuela nor Iran threaten the United States in any way and that the U.S. and Israel continue to kill many more civilians than Iran ever has, but they have been drowned out by the media talking heads who constantly spout the established narrative.
Well, the alleged Iranian fuel has arrived in New Jersey and a legal battle for custody of it has begun. The fuel had been removed from the Greek tankers and transferred to other tankers for removal to the United States but the complication is that the Trump administration must now prove its case for forfeiture before the oil can be sold. The U.S. justification for seizing the cargoes is the claim that the fuel was an asset of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the Treasury, Justice and State Departments have conveniently designated a foreign terrorist organization. But that contention is disputed by the cargoes’ owners, who claim to have nothing to do with the IRGC. They include other energy exporters and shippers in the Middle East, namely Mobin International Limited, Oman Fuel Trading Ltd and Sohar Fuel Trading LLC FZ. They have filed a motion for dismissal and are seeking return of the fuel plus additional compensation for the losses they have suffered. One has to hope they win as it is the United States that is in the wrong in this case.
The entire saga of the tankers and the fuel is symptomatic of the undeclared economic warfare that the United States now prefers to use when dealing with adversaries. And there is considerable evidence to suggest that Washington is trying to goad Iran into responding with force, providing the U.S. government with a plausible rationale for responding in kind. President Trump has directly threatened Iran in an October 9th public statement in which he promised the Iranians that “If you fuck around with us, if you do something bad to us, we are gonna do things to you that have never been done before.”
So, Washington’s aggression directed against much of the world continues with a national election less than two weeks away but no one is talking about it. That would seem odd in and of itself, but the sad part is that it is deliberate collusion on the part of government and media to make sure the voting public remains unaware the extent to which the United States has in reality become a pariah, a full-time bully in its foreign relations.
Andrew J. BACEVICH
The so-called Age of Trump is also an age of instantly forgotten bestselling books, especially ones purporting to provide the inside scoop on what goes on within Donald Trump’s haphazard and continuously shifting orbit. With metronomic regularity, such gossipy volumes appear, make a splash, and almost as quickly vanish, leaving a mark no more lasting than a trout breaking the surface in a pond.
Remember when Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House was all the rage? It’s now available in hardcover for $0.99 from online used booksellers. James Comey’s Higher Loyalty also sells for a penny less than a buck.
An additional 46 cents will get you Omarosa Manigault Newman’s “insider’s account” of her short-lived tenure in that very White House. For the same price, you can acquire Sean Spicer’s memoir as Trump’s press secretary, Anthony Scaramucci’s rendering of his tumultuous 11-day stint as White House communications director and Corey Lewandowski’s “inside story” of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Bibliophiles intent on assembling a complete library of Trumpiana will not have long to wait before the tell-all accounts of John Bolton, Michael Cohen, Mary Trump, and that journalistic amaneusis Bob Woodward will surely be available at similar bargain-basement prices.
All that said, even in these dismal times genuinely important books do occasionally make their appearance. My friend and colleague Stephen Wertheim is about to publish one. It’s called Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy and if you’ll forgive me for being direct, you really ought to read it. Let me explain why.
Wertheim and I are co-founders of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a small Washington, D.C.-based think tank. That Quincy refers to John Quincy Adams who, as secretary of state nearly two centuries ago, warned his fellow citizens against venturing abroad “in search of monsters to destroy.” Were the United States to do so, Adams predicted, its defining trait — its very essence — “would insensibly change from liberty to force.” By resorting to force, America “might become the dictatress of the world,” he wrote, but “she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.” While his gendered punchline might rankle contemporary sensibilities, it remains apt.
A privileged man of his times, Adams took it for granted that a WASP male elite was meant to run the country. Women were to occupy their own separate sphere. And while he would eventually become an ardent opponent of slavery, in 1821 race did not rank high on his agenda either. His immediate priority as secretary of state was to situate the young republic globally so that Americans might enjoy both safety and prosperity. That meant avoiding unnecessary trouble. We had already had our revolution. In his view, it wasn’t this country’s purpose to promote revolution elsewhere or to dictate history’s future course.
Adams was to secretaries of state what Tom Brady is to NFL quarterbacks: the Greatest Of All Time. As the consensus GOAT in the estimation of diplomatic historians, he brought to maturity a pragmatic tradition of statecraft originated by a prior generation of New Englanders and various slaveholding Virginians with names like Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. That tradition emphasized opportunistically ruthless expansionism on this continent, avid commercial engagement, and the avoidance of great power rivalries abroad. Adhering to such a template, the United States had, by the beginning of the 20th century, become the wealthiest, most secure nation on the planet — at which point Europeans spoiled the party.
Copy of 1843 daguerreotype of John Quincy Adams by Philip Haas. (Wikimedia Commons)
The disastrous consequences of one European world war fought between 1914 and 1918 and the onset of a second in 1939 rendered that pragmatic tradition untenable — so at least a subsequent generation of WASPs concluded. This is where Wertheim takes up the story. Prompted by the German army’s lightning victory in the battle of France in May and June 1940, members of that WASP elite set about creating — and promoting — an alternative policy paradigm, one he describes as pursuing “dominance in the name of internationalism,” with U.S. military supremacy deemed “the prerequisite of a decent world.”
The new elite that devised this paradigm did not consist of lawyers from Massachusetts or planters from Virginia. Its key members held tenured positions at Yale and Princeton, wrote columns for leading New York newspapers, staffed Henry Luce’s Time-Life press empire, and distributed philanthropic largesse to fund worthy causes (grasping the baton of global primacy being anything but least among them). Most importantly, just about every member of this Eastern establishment cadre was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). As such, they had a direct line to the State Department, which in those days actually played a large role in formulating basic foreign policy.
While Tomorrow, The World is not a long book — fewer than 200 pages of text — it is a tour de force. In it, Wertheim describes the new narrative framework that the foreign-policy elite formulated in the months following the fall of France. He shows how Americans with an antipathy for war now found themselves castigated as “isolationists,” a derogatory term created to suggest provincialism or selfishness. Those favoring armed intervention, meanwhile, became “internationalists,” a term connoting enlightenment and generosity. Even today, members of the foreign-policy establishment pledge undying fealty to the same narrative framework, which still warns against the bugaboo of “isolationism” that threatens to prevent high-minded policymakers from exercising “global leadership.”
Wertheim persuasively describes the “turn” toward militarized globalism engineered from above by that self-selected, unelected crew. Crucially, their efforts achieved success prior to Pearl Harbor. The Japanese attack of Dec. 7, 1941, may have thrust the United States into the ongoing world war, but the essential transformation of policy had already occurred, even if ordinary Americans had yet to be notified as to what it meant. Its future implications — permanently high levels of military spending, a vast network of foreign bases stretching across the globe, a penchant for armed intervention abroad, a sprawling “national security” apparatus, and a politically subversive arms industry — would only become apparent in the years ahead.
While Wertheim is not the first to expose isolationism as a carefully constructed myth, he does so with devastating effect. Most of all, he helps his readers understand that “so long as the phantom of isolationism is held to be the most grievous sin, all is permitted.”
Contained within that all is a cavalcade of forceful actions and grotesque miscalculations, successes and failures, notable achievements and immense tragedies both during World War II and in the decades that followed. While beyond the scope of Wertheim’s book, casting the Cold War as a de facto extension of the war against Nazi Germany, with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as a stand-in for Adolf Hitler, represented an equally significant triumph for the foreign policy establishment.
At the outset of World War II, ominous changes in the global distribution of power prompted a basic reorientation of U.S. policy. Today, fundamental alterations in the global distribution of power — did someone say “the rise of China”? — are once again occurring right before our eyes. Yet the foreign-policy establishment’s response is simply to double down.
So, even now, staggering levels of military spending, a vast network of foreign bases, a penchant for armed intervention abroad, a sprawling “national security” apparatus, and a politically subversive arms industry remain the taken-for-granted signatures of U.S. policy. And even now, the Establishment employs the specter of isolationism as a convenient mechanism for self-forgiveness and expedient amnesia, as well as a means to enforce discipline.
War refugees in France, June 1940. (Bundesarchiv, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)
The fall of France was indeed an epic disaster. Yet implicit in Tomorrow, The World is this question: If the disaster that befell Europe in 1940 could prompt the United States to abandon a hitherto successful policy paradigm, then why have the serial disasters befalling the nation in the present century not produced a comparable willingness to reexamine an approach to policy that is obviously failing today?
To pose that question is to posit an equivalence between the French army’s sudden collapse in the face of the Wehrmacht’s assault and the accumulation of U.S. military disappointments dating from 9/11. From a tactical or operational perspective, many will find such a comparison unpersuasive. After all, the present-day armed forces of the United States have not succumbed to outright defeat, nor is the government of the United States petitioning for a cessation of hostilities as the French authorities did in 1940.
Sept. 11, 2001: Firefighters battling fire in portion of the Pentagon damaged by attack. (U.S. Navy/Bob Houlihan)
Yet what matters in war are political outcomes. Time and again since 9/11, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or lesser theaters of conflict, the United States has failed to achieve the political purposes for which it went to war. From a strategic and political perspective, therefore, the comparison with France is instructive, even if failure need not entail abject surrender.
The French people and other supporters of the 1930s European status quo (including Americans who bothered to pay attention) were counting on that country’s soldiers to thwart further Nazi aggression once and for all. Defeat came as a profound shock. Similarly, after the Cold War, most Americans (and various beneficiaries of a supposed Pax Americana) counted on U.S. troops to maintain an agreeable and orderly global status quo. Instead, the profound shock of 9/11 induced Washington to embark upon what became a series of “endless wars” that U.S. forces proved incapable of bringing to a successful conclusion.
Crucially, however, no reevaluation of U.S. policy comparable to the “turn” that Wertheim describes has occurred. An exceedingly generous reading of Trump’s promise to put “America First” might credit him with attempting such a turn. In practice, however, his incompetence and inconsistency, not to mention his naked dishonesty, produced a series of bizarre and random zigzags. Threats of “fire and fury” alternated with expressions of high regard for dictators (“we fell in love”). Troop withdrawals were announced and then modified or forgotten. Trump abandoned a global environmental agreement, massively rolled back environmental regulations domestically, and then took credit for providing Americans with “the very cleanest air and cleanest water on the planet.” Little of this was to be taken seriously.
Trump’s legacy as a statesman will undoubtedly amount to the diplomatic equivalent of Mulligan stew. Examine the contents closely enough and you’ll be able to find just about anything. Yet taken as a whole, the concoction falls well short of being nutritious, much less appetizing.
On the eve of the upcoming presidential election, the entire national security apparatus and its supporters assume that Trump’s departure from office will restore some version of normalcy. Every component of that apparatus from the Pentagon and the State Department to the CIA and the Council on Foreign Relations to the editorial boards of The New York Times and The Washington Post yearns for that moment.
To a very considerable degree, a Biden presidency will satisfy that yearning. Nothing if not a creature of the Establishment, Biden himself will conform to its requirements. For proof, look no further than his vote in favor of invading Iraq in 2003. (No isolationist he.) Count on a Biden administration, therefore, to perpetuate the entire obsolete retinue of standard practices.
As Peter Beinart puts it, “When it comes to defense, a Biden presidency is likely to look very much like an Obama presidency, and that’s going to look not so different from a Trump presidency when you really look at the numbers.” Biden will increase the Pentagon budget, keep U.S. troops in the Middle East and get tough with China. The United States will remain the world’s No. 1 arms merchant, accelerate efforts to militarize outer space, and continue the ongoing modernization of the entire U.S. nuclear strike force. Biden will stack his team with CFR notables looking for jobs on the “inside.”
Joe Biden at Pentagon, Sept. 11, 2011 . (White House, David Lienemann)
Above all, Biden will recite with practiced sincerity the mantras of American exceptionalism as a summons to exercise global leadership. “The triumph of democracy and liberalism over fascism and autocracy created the free world. But this contest does not just define our past. It will define our future, as well.” Those uplifting sentiments are, of course, his from a recent Foreign Affairs essay.
So, if you liked U.S. national security policy before Trump mucked things up, then Biden is probably your kind of guy. Install him in the Oval Office and the mindless pursuit of “dominance in the name of internationalism” will resume. And the United States will revert to the policies that prevailed during the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama — policies, we should note, that paved the way for Donald Trump to win the White House.
The Voices That Count
What explains the persistence of this pattern despite an abundance of evidence showing that it’s not working to the benefit of the American people? Why is it so difficult to shed a policy paradigm that dates from Hitler’s assault on France, now a full 80 years in the past?
I hope that in a subsequent book Stephen Wertheim will address that essential question. In the meantime, however, allow me to make a stab at offering the most preliminary of answers.
Setting aside factors like bureaucratic inertia and the machinations of the military-industrial complex — the Pentagon, arms manufacturers, and their advocates in Congress share an obvious interest in discovering new “threats” — one likely explanation relates to a policy elite increasingly unable to distinguish between self-interest and the national interest. As secretary of state, John Quincy Adams never confused the two. His latter-day successors have done far less well.
As an actual basis for policy, the turn that Stephen Wertheim describes in Tomorrow, The World has proven to be nowhere near as enlightened or farseeing as its architects imagined or its latter-day proponents still purport to believe it to be. The paradigm produced in 1940-1941 was, at best, merely serviceable. It responded to the nightmarish needs of that moment. It justified U.S. participation in efforts to defeat Nazi Germany, a necessary undertaking.
After 1945, except as a device for affirming the authority of foreign-policy elites, the pursuit of “dominance in the name of internationalism” proved to be problematic. Yet even as conditions changed, basic U.S. policy stayed the same: high levels of military spending, a network of foreign bases, a penchant for armed intervention abroad, a sprawling “national security” apparatus, and a politically subversive arms industry. Even after the Cold War and 9/11, these remain remarkably sacrosanct.
My own retrospective judgment of the Cold War tends toward an attitude of: well, I guess it could have been worse. When it comes to the U.S. response to 9/11, however, it’s difficult to imagine what worse could have been.
Within the present-day foreign-policy establishment, however, a different interpretation prevails: the long, twilight struggle of the Cold War ended in a world historic victory, unsullied by any unfortunate post-9/11 missteps. The effect of this perspective is to affirm the wisdom of American statecraft now eight decades old and therefore justify its perpetuation long after both Hitler and Stalin, not to mention Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, are dead and gone.
This paradigm persists for one reason only: it ensures that statecraft will remain a realm that resolutely excludes the popular will. Elites decide, while the job of ordinary Americans is to foot the bill. In that regard, the allocation of privileges and obligations now 80 years old still prevails today.
Only by genuinely democratizing the formulation of foreign policy will real change become possible. The turn in U.S. policy described in Tomorrow, The World came from the top. The turn needed today will have to come from below and will require Americans to rid themselves of their habit of deference when it comes to determining what this nation’s role in the world will be. Those on top will do all in their power to avert any such loss of status.
The United States today suffers from illnesses both literal and metaphorical. Restoring the nation to good health and repairing our democracy must necessarily rate as paramount concerns. While Americans cannot ignore the world beyond their borders, the last thing they need is to embark upon a fresh round of searching for distant monsters to destroy. Heeding the counsel of John Quincy Adams might just offer an essential first step toward recovery.
TomDispatch via consortiumnews.com
To no one’s real surprise, Bolivia’s deposed President Evo Morales was resoundingly vindicated in last Sunday’s election. The bleached blond European usurper woman, Jeanine Áñez, who in November of 2019 was installed as interim President by the junta regime which replaced Morales, will have to step down. She has conceded defeat at the hands of the Aymara natives that she obviously loathed. Needless to say, the sentiment was heartily mutual.
The new President of Bolivia will be Morales’ former finance minister and close collaborator Luis Arce of the Movement for Socialism Party, or MAS by its felicitously ambivalent Spanish acronym. MAS’ victory was the more impressive because its candidate won a clear majority against two junta figures in the first round, avoiding the necessity of a run-off.
The question could legitimately be put why Morales had to resort to a stand-in instead of running himself and personally humiliating his enemies, probably even more decisively. The reason lies in some dastardly chicanery on the part of the imperial dirty tricks department. Anticipating a virtually fraud-proof electoral disaster if Morales were allowed to run personally, the local puppet regime contrived phony sex charges to disqualify the illegally ousted President and bar him from presenting his candidacy. No, Morales was not accused of frequenting Jeffrey Epstein’s paedophile island but the coup authorities conveniently discovered that he had consorted with an underage girl, an allegation just nasty enough to file criminal charges and obtain an arrest warrant.
Morales was certainly on the empire “sh#t list” long before the plot to oust him switched to high gear in late 2019. When he was elected in 2004, he inherited a preposterous situation, bizarre by any normal standards. His neo-liberal predecessor had sold Bolivia’s water resources to foreign financial interests, which meant that the impoverished peasant masses now had to pay foreign corporations for the right to use one of the fundamental natural resources of their country, which – like air – should have been the common patrimony of all. Only in retrospect do we now see that Bolivia’s water resources were targeted not for the paltry sums that could be extracted from impoverished Andean peasants but as a political laboratory experiment in natural resource plunder that could be extended elsewhere if it proved successful. It was extended to some other countries, but because of the unexpected appearance of Evo Morales it was curtailed in Bolivia, making the insolent new indigenous President a bête noire in international oligarchic circles.
After setting off on such an antagonistic start, it was natural that Morales should make it the mainstay of his policy to put Bolivia’s considerable resources at the service of its people, rather than of international financiers and their rapacious corporations. Unfortunately, the naive country-bumpkin President forgot that in some situations discretion is the better part of valor. Instead of working discretely, in 2017 he announced urbi et orbi a comprehensive plan to (a) nationalize key natural resources, and (b) possibly even more fatally, to process them in Bolivia and export them in finished rather than raw form. If he had had any political sophistication at all, he should have anticipated what was bound to hit him after disregarding the Big Boys’ clear red lines.
It seems that in trying to implement this morally unobjectionable policy he crossed not just corporate powers-that-be in general, but specifically the multi-billionaire Elon Musk, who was counting on unrestricted and cheap access to Bolivia’s huge lithium resources which are of key significance for the batteries of his main product, electric vehicles. With a few indignant telephone calls to the right places, much like United Fruit in the face of similarly unacceptable policies of President Guzman in Guatemala seventy years ago, Musk set the stage for the removal of Bolivia’s pesky aborigine President who presumed to put the interests of his people ahead of international corporations.
The rest was, as they say, history. The Gene Sharp regime change scenario was followed to the letter. The October 2019 Presidential election was contested by the “international community” for all the right reasons, military and police chiefs were corrupted to push Morales off the cliff, and the freaky blonde señora Áñez was installed in his place by the Musk junta.
After many delays and cancelations, the new elections designed to legitimize junta rule and politically eliminate Morales and his MAS movement were finally held on October 18. The Covid emergency was a godsend pretext to the junta to keep postponing the vote and work on setting up the winning electoral combination, but the day of judgment finally came and all the rigging proved in vain. The resilient peasants had their way.
While from a moral perspective the election outcome is excellent news, the practical assessment of the results should probably be withheld for the moment, pending further developments. Latin American politics is notorious for its treachery. We saw an example of that in Ecuador, where a low life character who deceptively goes by the name of Lenin Moreno (he proved to be neither a Lenin, in the sense of showing the slightest empathy for the downtrodden, nor a [Garcia] Moreno, Ecuador’s distinguished nineteenth century patriot-President who labored to preserve his country’s sovereignty from the encroachments of essentially the same forces which have targeted it for control in our day) succeeded the populist Correa, only to reverse everything his predecessor had stood for. Another conspicuous example is the treacherous career of Carlos Menem, a classical pantallero as he came to be known in Argentina, who deceptively ran and was elected on a Peronist platform, only to start implementing ruinous neoliberal policies the day after he was sworn in.
The acid test of Luis Arce’s administration will be whether it quickly drops the false charges against Evo Morales, enabling him to return to the country of which he is the undisputed leader. If the legal mechanisms preventing Bolivia’s central political figure from rejoining his people and exercising the political influence to which he is entitled are not promptly removed, alarm bells will have to replace victory songs in Bolivia. And, yes, prosecuting coup regime personalities for sedition, on genuine rather than concocted charges, would be another welcome confidence building measure that the incoming Bolivian government should undertake.
I was in Baghdad in 1998 during US airstrikes, watching missiles explode in great flashes of light as they hit their targets. There was some ineffectual anti-aircraft fire, the only result of which was pieces of shrapnel falling from the sky and making it dangerous to step outside the building we were in.
To my surprise I saw a reporter, a friend of mine with long experience of war, crawling into the open to use a satellite phone that would not work inside. When he returned, I said to him that it must have been a very important phone call for him to take such a risk. He laughed bitterly, explaining that the reason for his call was that his paper in the US had demanded that he contact some distinguished “expert” in a think tank in Washington to ask him about the air attacks.
Despite my friend being a highly informed eyewitness to the events he was describing, his editors insisted that he access the supposed expertise of the think tanker thousands of miles away. A more covert motive was probably to spread the blame if the reporter on the spot expressed criticism of the airstrikes.
I recalled this story when watching Boris Johnson and his ministers interact with his medical and scientific experts, Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, sometimes deferential, sometimes dismissive. Naivety and calculation are at work here. Politicians grappling with crises, be it a war or a pandemic, are frequently over-impressed by experts with the right bedside manner and a command of the technical jargon. They are less good, and the same applies to the media, in knowing if this apparent expertise has real practical value in averting some pressing danger. Often it does not. A doctor or an academic specialist may know a lot about how the virus operates inside the body, but have no idea and no experience of how to stop it spreading from person to person in an epidemic. This is quite a different skill.
Politicians are feckless in choosing the right experts, in part because they may be out of their depth in a crisis. There is nothing wrong with this, so long as they plug into the expertise of somebody who really does know what to do and how to do it. Governments often pick the wrong expert out of simple ignorance and because he or she is there primarily to beef up the government’s credibility and provide a scapegoat in case things go wrong.
This strategy worked well enough from the government’s point of view during the first lockdown in Britain, but it is now crashing in flames as the scientists refuse to provide political cover for failed policies.
The manifesto of the mutiny is the Sage memo of 23 September, published this week, which recommended a circuit-breaking lockdown to prevent “a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences”. Rejection of this recommendation by the government understandably got all the headlines, but towards the end of the memo there is an extraordinary admission that is surely more important than the row about circuit-breaking measures and the different regional lockdowns.
The justification for both is that they provide a pause button, which temporarily holds back the epidemic until a vaccine is discovered – which may be a long time coming. More immediately, closing down all or part of the country is supposed to win time so that an effective Test, Trace and Isolate (TTI) system can be put in place to prevent a resurgence of the virus.
This system was supposed to be at the heart of Britain’s response to coronavirus and the government is spending £12bn pounds on it. Ministers admit to its failings, but portray them as teething problems inevitable in such a big organisation created in such a short space of time. But look at how Sage, which has detailed knowledge of how TTI is really working, dismisses its performance in a single lumbering but damning sentence. This says that “the relatively low level of engagement with the system […] coupled with testing delays and likely poor rates of adherence with self-isolation suggests that the system is having a marginal impact on transmission at the moment.” Moreover, unless the system grows at the same rate of the epidemic, which it has since failed to do, then “the impact of Test, Trace and Isolate will further decline in the future”.
The grim significance of this judgement cannot be over-stressed since it means that the flagship of the Johnson government’s response to the epidemic has already capsized. And there is nothing mysterious about the cause of the TTI shipwreck, which stems from unforced and foreseeable errors by Johnson and his ministers. Many governments get it wrong when trying to choose between experts who know what they are talking about and those that do not. But in deciding to create a massive test and trace apparatus earlier this year, the government took the self-destructive decision to put this highly specialised business into the hands of amateurs with no experience.
Instead of relying on experienced public health experts with a successful record in finding, containing and isolating people infected with HIV and TB, the government handed the project over to the private sector, pouring great sums of money into the creation of a new but, in Sage’s judgement, dysfunctional system. Documents released by the Department of Health and Social Care after a Freedom of Information Act request from Sky News, explains why so much was spent for such small returns. No less than 1,114 consultants from Deloitte, few of whom are likely to be public health experts, are now employed by the government to organise Test, Trace and Isolate with each of them earning a daily fee of up to £2,360. Other consultants, such as those working for the Boston Consulting Group, are even more munificently rewarded, earning as much as £7,000 a day or £1.5m a year.
The failure of NHS Test and Trace to cope with the second wave of the epidemic, as predicted by Sage, is already with us with only 62.6 per cent of those testing positive for coronavirus being contacted so that they can be told to isolate.Not that it would do much good if the call centres reached more people according to a King’s College London survey showing that only 18 per cent of those infected are isolating.
The moment when Britain might have successfully contained the coronavirus has probably passed. This would have been very difficult but not impossible, and it could only have been carried out successfully by a government of real competence, energy and expertise. There was no chance of this being done with Boris Johnson and his crew zig-zagging and blundering so spectacularly that their antics would provide rich material for a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera, except that there is nothing funny about the unnecessary deaths of so many people. Nor is there any sign that they have learned from their mistakes. As one German statesman asked despairingly of a general during the First World War who wanted to press on with some calamitous offensive: “Where does the incompetence end and the crime begin?”
It is a tragedy of our age that society has been locked in a zero-sum operating system for so long that many people living in the west cannot even imagine a world order designed in any other way… even if that zero sum system can ultimately do nothing but kill everyone holding onto it.
Is this statement too cynical?
It is a provable fact that if one chooses to organize their society around the concept that all players of a “great game” must exist in a finite world of tension as all zero-sum systems presume, then we find ourselves in a relatively deterministic trajectory to hell.
You see, this world of tension which game masters require in today’s world are generated by increasing rates of scarcity (food, fuel, resources, space, etc). As this scarcity increases due to population increases tied to heavy doses of arson, it naturally follows that war, famine, and other conflict will rise across all categories of divisions (ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender, racial etc). Showcasing this ugly misanthropic philosophy during a December 21, 1981 People Magazine Interview, Prince Philip described the necessity of reducing the world population stating:
“We’re in for a major disaster if it isn’t curbed-not just for the natural world, but for the human world. The more people there are, the more resources they’ll consume, the more pollution they’ll create, the more fighting they will do. We have no option. If it isn’t controlled voluntarily, it will be controlled involuntarily by an increase in disease, starvation, and war.”
When such a system is imposed upon a world possessing atomic weapons, as occurred in the wake of FDR’s death and the sabotage of the great president’s anti-colonial vision, the predictably increased rates of conflict, starvation and ignorance can only spill over into a global war if nuclear superpowers chose to disobey the limits and “norms” of this game at any time.
Perhaps some utopian theoreticians sitting in their ivory towers at Oxford, Cambridge or the many Randian think tanks peppering foreign policy landscape believed that this game could be won if only all nation states relinquished their sovereignty to a global government… but that hasn’t really happened, has it?
Instead of the relinquishing of sovereignty, the past decade has seen a vast rise of nationalism across all corners of the earth which have been given new life by the rise of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and broader multipolar alliance. While these impulses have taken on many shapes and forms, they are united in the common belief that nation states must not become a thing of the past but rather must become determining forces of the world’s economic and political destinies.
The Case of the Bi-Polar USA
Unfortunately, within the USA itself where nationalism has seen an explosive rise in popularity under President Trump, the old uni-polar geopolitical paradigm has continued to hold tight under such neocon carryovers as Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Esper, CIA director Gina Haspel and the large caste of Deep State characters still operating among the highest positions of influence on both sides of the aisle.
While I genuinely believe that Trump would much rather work with both Russia, China and other nations of the multipolar alliance in lieu of blowing up the world, these aforementioned neocons think otherwise evidenced by Pompeo’s October 6 speech in Japan. In this speech, Pompeo attempted to rally other Pacific nations to an anti-Chinese security complex known as the Quad (USA, Australia, Japan and India). With his typically self-righteous tone, Pompeo stated that “this is not a rivalry between the United States and China. This is for the soul of the world”. Earlier Pompeo stated “If the free world doesn’t change Communist China, Communist China will change us.”
Pompeo’s efforts to break China’s neighbours away from the Belt and Road Initiative have accelerated relentlessly in recent months, with territorial tensions between China and Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei being used by the USA to enflame conflict whenever possible. It is no secret that the USA has many financial and military tentacles stretching deep into all of those Pacific nations listed.
Where resistance to this anti-China tension is found, CIA-funded “democracy movements” have been used as in the current case of Thailand, or outright threats and sanctions as in the case of Cambodia where over 24 Chinese companies have been sanctioned for the crime of building infrastructure in a nation which the USA wishes to control.
Pompeo’s delusional efforts to consolidate a Pacific Military bloc among the QUAD states floundered fairly quickly as no joint military agreement was generated creating no foundation upon which a larger alliance could be built.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi accurately called out this regressive agenda on October 13 saying:
“In essence [the Indo-Pacific Strategy] aims to build a so-called Indo-Pacific NATO underpinned by the quadrilateral mechanism involving the United States, Japan, India and Australia. What it pursues is to trumpet the Cold War mentality and to stir up confrontation among different groups and blocs and to stoke geopolitical competition. What it maintains is the dominance and hegemonic system of the United States. In this sense, this strategy is itself an underlying security risk. If it is forced forward it will wind back the clock of history.”
China Responds with Class
China’s response to this pompous threat to peace was classy to say the least with Wang Yi teaming up with Yang Jiechi (Director of China’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission) who jointly embarked on simultaneous foreign tours that demonstrated the superior world view of “right-makes-might” diplomacy. Where Wang Yi focused his efforts on Southeast Asia with visits to the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand and Singapore, Yang Jiechi embarked on a four-legged tour of Sri Lanka, the UAE, Algeria and Serbia.
While COVID assistance was a unifying theme throughout all meetings, concrete economic development driven by the Belt and Road Initiative was relentlessly advanced by both diplomats. In all bilateral agreements reached over this past week, opportunities for cooperation and development were created with a focus on diminishing the points of tension which geopolticians require in order for their perverse “game” to function.
In Malaysia, the $10 billion, 640 Km East Coast Rail link was advanced that will be completed with China’s financial and technical help by 2026 providing a key gateway in the BRI, as well as two major industrial parks that will service high tech products to China and beyond over the coming decades.
After meeting with Wang Yi on October 9, Indonesia’s Special Presidential Envoy announced that “Indonesia is willing to sign cooperation documents on the Belt and Road Initiative and Global Maritime Fulcrum at an early date, enlarge its cooperation with China on trade and investment, actively put in place currency swap arrangements and settlements in local currency, step up the joint efforts in human resources and disaster mitigation, and learn from China’s fight against poverty.”
In Cambodia, a major Free Trade Agreement was begun which will end tariffs on hundreds of products and create new markets for both nations. On the BRI, the New International Land-Sea Trade corridor and Lancang-Mekong Cooperation plans were advanced.
In the Philippines, Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Locsin discussed Duterte’s synergistic Build Build Build program which reflects the sort of long term infrastructure orientation characteristic of the BRI which are both complete breaks with the decades-long practices of usurious IMF loans which have created development bottlenecks across the entire developing sector.
In Thailand Wang Yi met with the Thai Prime Minister where the two accelerated the building of the 252 km Bangkok-Korat high speed rail line which will then connect to Laos and thence to China’s Kunmin Province providing a vital artery for the New Silk Road.
In the past few years, the USA has been able to do little to counter China’s lucrative offers while at best offering cash under the rubric of the Lower Mekong Initiative established under the Hillary-Obama administration in preparation for the Asia Pivot encirclement of China that was unleashed in 2012. This was done as part of a desperate effort to keep China’s neighbors loyal to the USA and was meant to re-enforce Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership which Trump thankfully destroyed during his first minutes in office.
Yang Jiechi’s Four-Legged Tour
In Sri Lanka, a $90 million grant was offered by China which will be devoted to medical resources, water supplies and education and which the Chinese embassy website stated “will contribute to the well being of Sri Lankans in a post-COVID era”. Another $989 million loan was delivered for the completion of a massive expressway stretching from Central Sri Lanka’s tea growing district to the Port of Hambanota. While this port is repeatedly used by detractors of the BRI like Pompeo as proof of the “Chinese debt trap”, recent studies have proven otherwise.
In the UAE, the Chinese delegation released a press release after meeting with Prince Zayed al-Nahyan stating: “Under the strategic guidance of President Xi and the Abu Dhabi crown prince, China will enrich the connotation of its comprehensive strategic partnership with UAE, cement the political trust and support, promote alignment of development strategies, and advance high-quality joint construction of the Belt and Road.”
In Algeria, Yang offered China’s full support for the New Economic Revival Plan which parallels the Philippines’ Build Build Build strategy by focusing on long term industrial growth rather than IMF-demands for privatization and austerity that have kept North Africa and other nations backward for years.
Finally in Serbia which is a vital component of the BRI, the Chinese delegation gave its full support to the Belgrade-Budapest railway, and other long term investments centered on transport, energy and soft infrastructure, including the expansion of the Chinese-owned Smederevo Steel Plant which employs over 12 000 Serbians and which was saved from bankruptcy by China in 2016. By the end of the trip, Prime Minister Brnabic announced: “Serbia strongly supports China both bilaterally and multilaterally, including President Xi Jinping’s Access and Roads Initiative and the 17+1 Cooperation Mechanism, in the context of which most of Serbia’s infrastructure and strategy projects will be realized”
The Spirit of Win-Win Must Not Be Sabotaged
Overall, the spirit of the growing New Silk Road is fast moving from a simple east-south trade route towards a global program stretching across all of Africa, to the Middle East, to the High Arctic and Latin America. While this program is driven by a longer view of the past and future than most westerners realize, it is quickly becoming evident that it is the only game in town with a future worth living in.
While China has committed to the enlightened idea that human society is more than a “sum of parts”, the Cold Warriors of the west have chosen to hold onto obsolete notions of human nature that suppose we live in a world of “each vs. all”. These obsolete notions are premised on the bestial idea that our species is destined to do little more than fight for diminishing returns of scraps in a closed -system struggle for survival where only a small technocratic elite of game masters calling themselves “alphas” control the levers of production and consumption from above.
Thus far, President Trump has distinguished himself from other dark age war hawks in his administration by promoting a foreign policy outlook centered on economic development. This has been seen in his recent victories in achieving economic normalization between Serbia and Kosovo, and endorsing the Alaska-Canada railway last month. With the elections just around the corner and the war hawks flying in full force, it is clear that these piecemeal projects, though sane and welcomed are still not nearly enough to break the USA away from its course of war with China and towards a new age of win-win cooperation required for the ultimate survival of our species.
The author can be reached at email@example.com
Bolivia has reversed the US-backed coup which saw its leftist president Evo Morales ousted from the lithium-rich nation after a landslide victory last year. Another landslide victory for a previous member of Morales’ cabinet named Luis Arce has restored power to the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party after a year of rule by the coup regime.
Contrary to what a recent Guardian headline asserts this was not a “stunning comeback” for MAS but a widely anticipated repudiation of the false claims that were spun by western narrative managers that Morales had rigged the election last year in a dictatorial assault upon democracy. Two landslide victories in as many years is neither “stunning” nor a “comeback”, it’s just the people decisively making their will known two times.
Bolivia is still not in the clear; the US-centralized empire still has plenty of other avenues of attack through which to sabotage the will of the Bolivian people, and we may be certain that we will see them rolled out in the coming years if that empire still stands. But people are right to celebrate the fact that its preferred and primary avenue of attack has been thwarted.
don’t forget that the election in bolivia was a concession by the fascist coupists after the socialist movement, backed by the mass of the population, threatened a civil war. it was a victory won from below, which many sacrificed their lives for. they will forever be remembered
— (@zei_squirrel) October 19, 2020
Which is a good illustration of why imperialists pour so much energy into using propaganda to manipulate what people think and do. If you can’t manipulate people into supporting your actions, they’ll just wind up undoing all your handiwork. A coup was undone yesterday in Bolivia, a coup was undone in Venezuela in 2002, and coups will continue to be undone every time the people have the power to enact their will and can’t be propagandized or brutalized away from using it.
The great elephant in the room, around which so much of the behavior of establishment power revolves, is that there are many more ordinary human beings than there are sociopathic dominators trying to exploit them. This fact rarely enters the minds of the rank-and-file citizenry, but for the manipulators responsible for engineering the continuation and expansion of the imperialist oligarchic status quo, it is always at the center of their attention.
The powerful fear the people. Always have, always will. They are at all times acutely aware that there’s not actually anything stopping the public from using the power of their numbers to take back everything their rulers stole from them and doing whatever they like to their former oppressors. We’re like a giant the size of a mountain who is in an abusive relationship with a tiny little man; we might not think too much about how we could squash him like an insect whenever we like, but he most certainly does.
Congrats to Bolivia in returning to a government for the people.
Condolences to all the journalists working for billionaires in the USA who have to try to spin democracy as “authoritarianism” in the next few years.
— Existential Comics (@existentialcoms) October 19, 2020
And that’s why the manipulators responsible for keeping the empire running work all day every day ensuring the people never awaken to their true power. That they never realize they’re being worked like slaves to support the obscene planet-destroying excesses of plutocrats while struggling just to survive. That they never realize their value and resources are being funneled into a war machine which murders people just like themselves on the other side of the world to ensure geostrategic domination which benefits nobody but the most powerful. So we don’t realize what they are doing, and realize that we have every ability to stop them.
They do not pour vast fortunes into manufacturing the consent of the governed because it’s fun for them. They don’t buy up narrative control in the form of media outlets, think tanks, NGOs, political influence and advertising in collaboration with opaque government agencies because they’ve got nothing better to do. They work so hard to manufacture consent because they need it.
So don’t give them your consent. Refuse to be propagandized. Refuse to let your countrymen be propagandized. Work to awaken people to their lies. Work to awaken people to their true power.
I am indebted to Bryan MacDonald for this brilliant neologism: Russophrenia – a condition where the sufferer believes Russia is both about to collapse, and take over the world.
An early example comes from 1992 when the then-Lithuanian Defence Minister called Russia a country “with vague prospects” while at the same time asserting that “in about two years’ time [it] will present a great danger to Europe” (FBIS 22 May 92 p 69). Vague prospects but great danger. Given the vague demographic prospects of his own country, it was a rather ironic assertion given that Lithuania’s future would appear to be a few nursing homes surrounded by forest. But he said it in the days of the full EU/NATO cargo cult. In 2014 U.S. President Obama immortalised this in an interview:
But I do think it’s important to keep perspective. Russia doesn’t make anything. Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking. And so we have to respond with resolve in what are effectively regional challenges that Russia presents.
Wrong on all counts: all he did was display how poorly advised he was.
Russia, Russia ever failing: will fail in 1992, finished in 2001, failed in 2006, failed in 2008, failing in 2010, failed in 2015. Russia’s failing economy, isolation, ancient weapons, instability; a gas station masquerading as a country. Doomed to fail in Syria and losing influence even in its neighbourhood in 2020.
A country with GDP comparable to that of Australia cannot afford to be a superpower, fight a protracted war in Syria, fight in the Ukraine and develop its own stealth fighter and other equipment to match the United States.
In 2016 Stratfor, predicting the world of 2025, thought it unlikely that the Russian Federation will survive in its current form. And neither will Putin. He was only a petty dictator with a Swiss bank account in 2000; a Lt. Col. Kije in 2001; another Brezhnev in 2003; facing his biggest crisis in December 2011, under dire threat and losing his leverage in January 2015; weak and terrified in July 2015; overextending his reach in May 2016; losing his shine in June 2017; losing his grip in October 2018; losing their trust in June 2019; losing control in September 2019; his house of cards was wobbling and he was the symbol of Russia’s humiliation in August 2019. His political demise was near in January 2020; more crises and coronavirus could topple him in April, another biggest crisis in May; losing popular support in June; running out of tricks in August; holed up in isolation, another gravest crisis in October. Soon gone. Russia’s economy won’t last much longer either: smaller than Spain’s or California’s in 2014; in tatters and facing a slow and steady decline in 2015; surprisingly small in 2017; about the size of Belgium plus the Netherlands and smaller than Texas’ in 2018; headed for trouble in 2019. Weak energy prices its Achilles heel in 2020. And on and on: really weak in 2006; its three biggest problems in 2013; Russia is not strong. And Putin is even weaker in 2015. Don’t fear Russia, marginalize it because it’s weak and has a rapidly aging and shrinking population in 2018. Still weak in 2019 and Paul Gregory tells us that’s it’s weak but with nukes in 2020.
Occasionally – very occasionally – someone, more acute than most, wonders How Did A Weak Russia Ever Become A Great Power Again? or why with less money than Canada and fewer people than Nigeria, it “runs the world now”. But the explanations are facile: too much butter spent on guns or a passing situation:
In the emerging post-Cold War-era Russia, no matter how poor it is in many key areas, can be #2 in the world for many years to come. Only when China rises in the next 20 years or a new kind of President emerges in the United States will that change. Until then Vladimir Putin can play his games to his heart’s content.
Of course all of these headscratchers assume that the exchange rate of the ruble is the true measure of Russia’s economy; which is a pretty silly and misleading idea.
* * *
But at the same time Russia is an enormous, dangerous, existential threat functioning with enormous effectiveness in all dimensions.
Far from having the deceptively weak military of 2015, it is developing the world’s most powerful nuclear weapon in 2018 and in future wars the U.S. will have nowhere to hide. The next January we’re told that it and China are building Super-EMP bombs for ‘Blackout Warfare’. Russia has imposed aerial denial zones and fields eye-watering EW capabilities; it has “black hole” submarines, a generational lead in tanks, an unstoppable carrier-killer missile and devastating air defence. It’s working on a new missile threat to the U.S. homeland. General Breedlove, former NATO Supreme Commander who did much to poke the bear, gives us a particularly striking example: he now fears that a war “would leave Europe helpless, cut off from reinforcements, and at the mercy of the Russian Federation.” The British army would be wiped out in an afternoon, NATO would lose quickly in the Baltics – NATO’s totally outmatched. The Russian threat is unlike anything seen since the 1990s. The worry is that Nato has under-reacted.
Putin was the world’s most powerful man and, linking up with China, could soon become more powerful than the U.S. in 2018. He was wielding Russia’s formidable military and powerful economic policies in 2019. And never forget Russia’s major hacking threat and deadly malware. Its interference and influence in Western voting is stupendous: the 2016 U.S. election; Brexit; Canada; France; the European Union; Germany; Catalonia; Netherlands; Sweden; Italy; EU in particular and Europe in general; Mexico: Newsweek gives a helpful list. And, long before Putin: “100 years of Russian electoral interference“. As a covert influence actor and purveyor of disinformation and misinformation Russia is the primary threat in the U.S. election.
During two decades as Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin has rarely concealed his contempt for Western-style democracy and the rule of law. The poisoning of Russian political activist Alexey Navalny, amid a widening Russia-supported crackdown on opposition leaders in Belarus, indicates the lengths to which Putin and his cronies will go to silence their enemies and maintain power.
* * *
So, on the one hand Russia is a failing country, with a trivial economy, a greatly over-rated military led by someone who is always facing a catastrophe at home. Nothing to worry about there: presently weak and future uncertain. On the other hand, Russia has a tremendously powerful military, an economy that does whatever its ever-young autocratic permanent ruler wants it to. Its propaganda power is immense and unbeatable, the background determinant of the world’s action. Russophrenia.
And, out of the blue, COVID gives him another opportunity to bamboozle the helpless West and undermine its precious Rules-Based International Order. Somehow. See if you can make sense of this incoherence:
This should worry the West once the pandemic has passed. Not because Russia poses a serious long-term threat to our interests; it doesn’t, although Putin would prefer us to think that his shrivelled realm does. But because Russia is not the only authoritarian state seeking to learn lessons from the current crisis which could be used in a future conflict.
Russophrenics are unaffected by reality. Russia’s success? Forget maleficence and try competence. Its military is designed to defend the country, not rule the world: a less expensive and attainable aim. Its economy – thanks to Western sanctions – has made it probably the only autarky in the world. Election interference is a falsehood designed to damage Trump and exculpate Clinton which has been picked up by Washington’s puppies. But don’t bother with mere evidence; As the author of this New Yorker piece explains:
Such externally guided operations exist, but to exaggerate their prevalence and potency ends up eroding the idea of genuine bottom-up protest—in a way that, ironically, is entirely congenial to Putin’s conspiratorial world view.
Or as the Washington Post memorably put it: “Especially clever is planting tales of supposedly far-reaching influence operations that either don’t actually exist or are having little impact.”
Scott Adams understands the process perfectly:
Absence of evidence is evidence.
Pretty crazy isn’t it? And getting crazier. All this would be funny if it were Ruritania ranting at the Duchy of Strackenz. But it isn’t: it’s the country with the most destructive military in the world and a proven record of using it ad libitum that is sinking into this insanity. And that’s not good for any of us.
We saw last week how Big Tech — Twitter and Facebook — tried to control the political Narrative by making it impossible, or at least difficult, to spread the New York Post‘s scoop about Hunter Biden’s hard drive. Notice that the Biden campaign has not denied that what’s reportedly on that hard drive is true. The media have been running interference for Team Biden by focusing on how the Post obtained that information.
Here’s another jaw-dropping move by the media controllers to restrict the Narrative. You might have heard that Amazon has refused to add a new documentary, What Killed Michael Brown?, to its streaming service. The documentary was written by and stars the conservative black scholar Shelby Steele, and was directed by his son Eli Steele. In it, the elder Steele examines the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson a few years back, and its place in the larger story of race in America.
Your title doesn’t meet Prime Video’s content quality expectations. Why not? What could possibly be so offensive about this movie that Amazon Prime, which streams some real junk, won’t let it onto the platform? I e-mailed the film’s producers and asked for a press screener (which I encourage all media to do by clicking here).
After 15 minutes, it was perfectly obvious why Amazon wouldn’t let this movie show: they do not want any criticism of the progressive narrative about Michael Brown, and about race in America in general. There is only one acceptable narrative — and black men like Shelby and Eli Steele who challenge it must be silenced.
J.d. Vance Remarks On A New Direction For Pro-worker, Pro-family Conservatism, Tac Gala, 5-2019
It’s hard to overstate the power of What Killed Michael Brown? It’s not a bombastic polemic, in the style of Michael Moore. Eli Steele is a cool, careful filmmaker. Its power is in its understatedness, its reasonableness — and, of course, in the truth bombs that Shelby Steele drops throughout the whole thing. This film is so dangerous that Amazon doesn’t want people to see it. Why is Amazon so afraid of a gentle 74-year-old black professor?
He observes in the film’s opening minutes that in 2014, the year Michael Brown died in Ferguson, over 700 black men were shot and killed in Chicago, by other black men. Nobody in Black Lives Matter cared much about those black lives, nor did the national media. It’s only when a black life is taken by a white police officer that they care. Late in the movie, Steele observes that more and more black children are dying from drive-by shootings in their neighborhoods. Activists barely noticed. Observes Steele, “There was no power for blacks, or innocence for whites, to be had from these innocent deaths.”
What explains this? “We human beings never use race except as a means to power,” Steele says. His thesis is that “racism” did not kill Michael Brown, but rather that Michael Brown became the sort of thuggish young man who threw his life away because of cultural forces of disintegration emerging from 1960s liberalism — and that is something we cannot bring ourselves to face.
Steele reflects on his 1960s past as a self-described “black militant” working in LBJ’s War on Poverty. He worked for three years with the black poor in East St. Louis. Young Steele was optimistic then about what the government could do for the black poor who had been held back for so long by racism. What he learned was that the antipoverty programs were not really about advancing black people in the name of social justice. Rather, he says, “Taking advantage of white guilt was the focus of justice.”
Steele explains the concept of “poetic truth.” It’s not the objective facts about a person or an event, but what others believe those facts to mean. Poetic truth is a synonym for “myth” — a story that may or may not have basis in fact, but which we use to explain what the world means, who we are, and how we are supposed to react. With poetic truth, says Steele, “you don’t think so much as step into that meaning.”
Poetic truth always distorts objective truth, and can be used to gain power. That, says Steele, is exactly how black activists and their allies have used and abused the Michael Brown narrative. He explains what is well established truth (according to the US Department of Justice’s investigation): that Michael Brown died after attacking Officer Wilson and trying to take his gun. Michael Brown was in no way an innocent victim of police brutality. But, says Steele, “poetic truth set the stage for a power grab.”
I had forgotten the role that Obama Attorney General Eric Holder played in this drama. Steele is quite harsh on him. The DOJ under Holder proved that the Michael Brown victim narrative was entirely false — but as Steele shows, Holder inserted himself into the Ferguson situation in a racialized, politicized way, and turned the town in which a bully was shot trying to assault a cop into a symbol of America’s 400 years of racist oppression. Says Steele, “Holder made Ferguson pay the price for a racist murder that was neither racist nor a murder.”
If Michael Brown is a victim, then he is the victim not of a racist cop, but of the toxic culture of 1960s liberalism, which, in Steele’s words, “focused far more on assuaging white guilt than on black development.” Steele talks about how federal social engineers destroyed working-class black homes, and the equity that was in them, to build massive housing projects that dispossessed and ghettoized black people in lawless hives. Moreover, this kind of liberalism conveyed to blacks that they didn’t have to take responsibility for their own lives and fate, but rather had to depend on how much they could extract from guilty white people. “The poetic truth of black victimization became their identity,” he says. Liberalism consigned blacks to “invisibilization,” to “permanent victimhood.”
“The faithlessness in black authority is what gave us the world that Michael Brown grew up in,” Steele says.
And further: “Modern liberalism does not like human complexity in its victims. It wants the lines of responsibility to be clear and simple, and always to point to the white world.” Liberalism wants blacks to give up before even trying, by convincing them that no matter how hard they work, they can never get ahead. Though Steele condemns the police killing of George Floyd as a “murder,” he casts a gimlet eye on the violent protests that followed, saying that Floyd’s murder was “less a tragedy and more an opportunity” for cynics seeking to advance their grip on power.
Steele profiles contemporary black neighborhood activists, including a pastor on Chicago’s poor and violent South Side, who are trying to return a sense of agency and responsibility to communities decimated by the moral collapse of institutions of black authority: the family, the school, and the community. Here are two of them you meet in the movie:
In these people, Steele sees a contemporary version of his late father, a black man raised in deep poverty and segregation, with only a third grade education, but who raised himself and his family up by virtue of his self-discipline and hard work. He calls the Black Lives Matter movement a “bad faith movement” that wants to dismantle America, by contrast to the Civil Rights Movement, which wanted blacks to be part of America.
Why is that message so threatening to Amazon? Maybe Shelby Steele has it wrong. Maybe he’s blind to things that others see. Fine — release the movie and let people make up their own minds. Stop this liberal paternalism that doesn’t trust people to think for themselves. The fact is, a lot of people, including black people, will watch What Killed Michael Brown? and hear an authentic American voice, the voice of common sense and bedrock American values. It won’t be good for the Victim Industrial Complex. Hence Amazon’s desire to control the narrative.
In 1989, the black critic Stanley Crouch — who died last month — published a searing essay in The Village Voice about Spike Lee and his new film Do The Right Thing. He denounced the film as “Afro-fascist chic.” Excerpt:
One must always face the razor’s edge of the fact that race as it applies to American identity has a complex relationship to the grace, grime, and gore of democracy, and that an essential aspect of democracy, of a free society’s exchange of ideas, is that we will inevitably be inspired, dismayed, and disgusted by the good, mediocre, and insipid ideas that freedom allows. The burden of democracy is that you will not only get a Thurgood Marshall but an Alton Maddox, a Martin Luther King and an Al Sharpton — the brilliant, the hysteric, the hustling. And in terms of film opening up to more and more black people, there is no doubt that most will follow trends and appeal to the spiritual peanut galleries of society as long as there is money to be made, while a few will say something of importance, not only to American society but to the contemporary world. Few in this country have ever wanted to be artists, have wished to challenge or equal the best on a national and international basis. Most want no more than a good job and — in our time of the rock-and-roll elevation of the brutish, the superficial, and the adolescent — pop stardom. Those who believe that such American tendencies will fall before the revelations of the sword of the Negro soul are naïve.
That naïveté, like an intellectual jack-in-the-box bumpkin, periodically popped up through the Black Filmmaker Foundation’s ceremonies. There was much talk of “controlling our images,” a term suggestive of the worst political aspects of black nationalism, one far more dangerous if taken in certain directions than, say, expanding our images. Such “control” without attendant intelligence and moral courage of the sort we saw so little of during the Brawley farce or rarely hear when Louis Farrakhan is discussed, will make little difference, since the problems Afro-Americans presently face extend far beyond the unarguable persistence of a declining racism. Intellectual cowardice, opportunism, and the itch for riches by almost any means necessary define the demons within the black community. The demons are presently symbolized by those black college teachers so intimidated by career threats that they don’t protest students bringing Louis Farrakhan on campus, by men like Vernon Mason who sold out a good reputation in a cynical bid for political power by pimping real victims of racism in order to smoke-screen Tawana Brawley’s lies, by the crack dealers who have wrought unprecedented horrors, and by Afro-fascist race-baiters like Public Enemy who perform on the soundtrack to Do the Right Thing.
In more than a few ways, Do the Right Thing fits the description Susan Sontag gave fascism in her discussion of Leni Riefenstahl, “Fascinating Fascism.” Sontag says fascist aesthetics “endorse two seemingly opposite states, egomania and servitude. The relations of domination and enslavement take the form of a characteristic pageantry: the massing of groups of people; the turning of people into things; the multiplication or replication of things; and the grouping of people/things around an all-powerful, hypnotic leader-figure or force.”
In Do the Right Thing, the egomania and the servitude, the massing of people into things, and the irresistible force are all part of blackness. That blackness has the same purpose Sontag recognized in the work of Riefenstahl: it exists to overcome “the dissolution of alienation in ecstatic feelings of community.” Lee’s vision of blackness connects to what Sontag realized was “a romantic ideal… expressed in such diverse modes of cultural dissidence and propaganda for new forms of community as the youth/rock culture, primal therapy, anti-psychiatry, Third World camp following, and belief in the occult.”
Notice the difference Crouch draws between controlling the images, and expanding them. That’s precisely what’s going on here with Amazon’s actions towards the Steeles’ film. And, the poetic truth that Shelby Steele so powerfully illuminates and dismantles in What Killed Michael Brown? is a baldfaced lie about race and America that promises to deliver its believers from alienation — both its black believers and its white believers (who are so desperate for absolution from racial guilt that they will accept anything). As I write in Live Not By Lies:
A totalitarian state is one that aspires to nothing less than defining and controlling reality. Truth is whatever the rulers decide it is. As Arendt has written, wherever totalitarianism has ruled, “[I]t has begun to destroy the essence of man.”
When Shelby Steele, in this extraordinarily important, even urgent film, exposes the lies of Michael Brown’s death, and of the left-wing race narrative, and concludes that “liberalism wants your very soul” — this is exactly what he is talking about. No wonder Amazon, as one of this culture’s controllers, will not permit any challenge to its monopoly on reality. Shelby and Eli Steele are two of the bravest men in America, and I mean that.
UPDATE: A reader points out that you can buy a DVD or Blu-ray version of What Killed Michael Brown? here. I hope you will. Not only will you support these filmmakers and their worthy project, but you will own a movie that you can show to your kids and to your friends, and talk about these issues. Shelby and Eli Steele put a lot on the line to tell this story; we should stand with them by buying their work and telling others about it. This really is a first-rate documentary.
The President of the United States has the power to fire off thousands of nuclear weapons and destroy the world. As succinctly explained by William Perry and Tom Collina in the New York Times, “Mr. Trump has the absolute authority to start a nuclear war. Within minutes, the president could unleash the equivalent of more than 10,000 Hiroshima bombs. He does not need a second opinion. The defense secretary has no say. Congress has no role.”
This is the Trump who contracted the Covid 19 virus and on October 2 was taken to hospital where he was drugged to the eyeballs, referred to the infliction as “a blessing from God”, and declared “I’m a perfect physical specimen.” He then was flown to a massive election rally in Florida on October 12, joining his supporters in shoulder-rubbing maskless happiness and announced “Now they say I’m immune. I feel so powerful. I’ll walk in there. I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women, just give you a big fat kiss.”
The mental instability evident in these and many other utterances of that “perfect physical specimen” is disturbing. And the fact that it exists in a man who could destroy the world is terrifying.
The immediacy of nuclear danger is evident in Trump’s attitude to the presidential election itself. As the Financial Times noted, he “has refused to commit himself to a peaceful transfer of power if he were to lose on November 3, citing unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud. He told one rightwing group, the Proud Boys, to ‘stand back and standby’ during last month’s presidential debate.” His ‘Proud Boys’ supporters constitute one of the armed and deeply bigoted militias that have recently surfaced in the U.S., and nobody knows how they will react in the event of a Trump defeat. It is of some concern that “Facebook has taken down at least 6,500 pages and groups linked to more than 300 U.S. militias [emphasis added] after it announced in mid-August that it was culling groups that host ‘discussions of potential violence’ on its platform, including ‘when they use veiled language and symbols’.”
If Trump refuses to stand down and get out of the White House in January in the event of a Biden victory, what happens to the nuclear football that is carried by the military aide who is always the president’s closest shadow? Would Trump insist on retaining possession of the case containing the essentials required for ordering nuclear war? Would the military officer carrying the football obey such an order? What would the rifle-toting ‘Proud Boys’ or other armed militias do about it?
Trump told CNN that “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if this election is rigged” and on October 7 tweeted “This will be the most corrupt Election in American History!” but did not elaborate on what he might do if in his own judgement he lost the election by alleged fraud. The interregnum, the period between announcement of the result and the Inauguration of the 46th President on January 20, will be fraught with uncertainty because Trump will still be in a position of power — power to issue executive orders that do not require Congressional approval and, above all, the power to commit his country to war.
Given Trump’s mental condition and likely reaction to electoral defeat, the immediate future looks dark indeed, but the one certain thing is that Trump will not lift a finger to help the poor and unemployed who are struggling against the effects of the pandemic. It is recorded that in 2019 there were 34 million Americans living in poverty. There were countless millions of children actually going hungry in the world’s richest country and their lives have got immeasurably worse since the virus struck, but the bankers haven’t been suffering, any more than suppliers of nuclear weapons and associated gadgetry.
On October 14 the New York Times reported that the bank Goldman Sachs “had a significantly more profitable quarter than expected, lifted by continued strength in the trading of stocks and bonds and gains from certain investments. The bank reported earnings of $3.62 billion, far higher than Wall Street analysts had projected, and revenue of $10.78 billion for the third quarter.” Just along the road, JPMorgan Chase enjoyed third-quarter profits of $9.44 billion which was a mighty increase on its $4.76 billion last quarter and even better than the $9.08 billion it raked in the same quarter a year ago.
This year in the United States, while children starve and banks are making vast profits, the nuclear arms’ industry is being given $28.9 billion for “modernisation” of its vast assets, including $7 billion for command, control and communications, $4.4 billion for Columbus Class nuclear submarines, and $2.8 billion for B-21 long range strike bombers. What is ignored by the war boys is that the $4.4 billion committed to nuclear submarines could, for example, build 40 hospitals each with 120 beds and all associated facilities.
So Trump is assured of much support from the money kings, and great approval from the military of which he is Commander-in-Chief. He behaves erratically to the point of psychosis, but has many millions of supporters who chant adulatory slogans in the middle of his unhinged diatribes.
Mitt Romney is a longtime Republican who was the party’s selection to run for president against Barack Obama in 2012. Now a Senator, he is ferociously opposed to such humanitarian schemes as Social Security and Medicare, insisting that even the poorest of the poor should pay for medical attention. He is committed to increasing military spending and opposes reform of the financial sector of the economy. In short, he is a card-carrying, ultra-rightwing authoritarian near-copy of President Trump.
But Romney has realised what is happening in America and unlike other Republicans who have similar sentiments has spoken out against its current state. On October 13 he tweeted that the country “has moved away from spirited debate to a vile, vituperative, hate-filled morass, that is unbecoming of any free nation. The world is watching America with abject horror.” He now admits that Trump has spent four years confronting and insulting fellow-Americans as well as nations that have even mildly opposed his disjointed foreign policy.
America is suffering from instability in the White House and carnage on its streets. While poverty is rife and the pandemic is killing thousands in the richest country in the world its nuclear weapons are under jurisdiction of an unhinged egotistical sociopath. Given Trump’s public pronouncements it is likely he will not accept defeat in the November 3 election. The country will then descend even further into what Romney calls a “hate-filled morass” — but the main international anxiety concerns control of nuclear weapons. Is this unstable man in the White House going to be allowed to continue to wield his present authority to start a nuclear war?
It is not surprising that the world is “watching America with abject horror”, and it must be hoped that there is planning proceeding in world capitals concerning the range of Trump intentions.
“Treason doth never prosper; what is the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”
– Sir John Harrington.
As Shakespeare would state in his play Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” like a fish that rots from head to tail, so do corrupt government systems rot from top to bottom.
This is a reference to the ruling system of Denmark and not just the foul murder that King Claudius has committed against his brother, Hamlet’s father. This is showcased in the play by reference to the economy of Denmark being in a state of shambles and that the Danish people are ready to revolt since they are on the verge of starving. King Claudius has only been king for a couple of months, and thus this state of affairs, though he inflames, did not originate with him.
Thus, during our time of great upheaval we should ask ourselves; what constitutes the persisting “ruling system,” of the United States, and where do the injustices in its state of affairs truly originate from?
The tragedy of Hamlet does not just lie in the action (or lack of action) of one man, but rather, it is contained in the choices and actions of all its main characters. Each character fails to see the longer term consequences of their own actions, which leads not only to their ruin but towards the ultimate collapse of Denmark. The characters are so caught up in their antagonism against one another that they fail to foresee that their very own destruction is intertwined with the other.
This is a reflection of a failing system.
A system that, though it believes itself to be fighting tooth and nail for its very survival, is only digging a deeper grave. A system that is incapable of generating any real solutions to the problems it faces.
The only way out of this is to address that very fact. The most important issue that will decide the fate of the country is what sort of changes are going to occur in the political and intelligence apparatus, such that a continuation of this tyrannical treason is finally stopped in its tracks and unable to sow further discord and chaos.
When the Matter of “Truth” Becomes a Threat to “National Security”
When the matter of truth is depicted as a possible threat to those that govern a country, you no longer have a democratic state. True, not everything can be disclosed to the public in real time, but we are sitting on a mountain of classified intelligence material that goes back more than 60 years.
How much time needs to elapse before the American people have the right to know the truth behind what their government agencies have been doing within their own country and abroad in the name of the “free” world?
From this recognition, the whole matter of declassifying material around the Russigate scandal in real time, and not highly redacted 50 years from now, is essential to addressing this festering putrefaction that has been bubbling over since the heinous assassination of President Kennedy on Nov. 22nd, 1963 and to which we are still waiting for full disclosure of classified papers 57 years later.
If the American people really want to finally see who is standing behind that curtain in Oz, now is the time.
These intelligence bureaus need to be reviewed for what kind of method and standard they are upholding in collecting their “intelligence,” that has supposedly justified the Mueller investigation and the never-ending Flynn investigation which have provided zero conclusive evidence to back up their allegations and which have massively infringed on the elected government’s ability to make the changes that they had committed to the American people.
Just like the Iraq and Libya war that was based off of cooked British intelligence (refer here and here), Russiagate appears to have also had its impetus from our friends over at MI6 as well. It is no surprise that Sir Richard Dearlove, who was then MI6 chief (1999-2004) and who oversaw and stood by the fraudulent intelligence on Iraq stating they bought uranium from Niger to build a nuclear weapon, is the very same Sir Richard Dearlove who promoted the Christopher Steele dossier as something “credible” to American intelligence.
In other words, the same man who is largely responsible for encouraging the illegal invasion of Iraq, which set off the never-ending wars on “terror,” that was justified with cooked British intelligence is also responsible for encouraging the Russian spook witch-hunt that has been occurring within the U.S. for the last four years…over more cooked British intelligence, and the FBI and CIA are knowingly complicit in this.
Neither the American people, nor the world as a whole, can afford to suffer any more of the so-called “mistaken” intelligence bumblings. It is time that these intelligence bureaus are held accountable for at best criminal negligence, at worst, treason against their own country.
When Great Figures of Hope Are Targeted as Threats to “National Security”
The Family Jewels report, which was an investigation conducted by the CIA to investigate itself, was spurred by the Watergate Scandal and the CIA’s unconstitutional role in the whole affair. This investigation by the CIA reviewed its own conduct from the 1950s to mid-1970s.
The Family Jewels report was only partially declassified in June 25, 2007 (30 years later). Along with the release of the redacted report included a six-page summary with the following introduction:
“The Central Intelligence Agency violated its charter for 25 years until revelations of illegal wiretapping, domestic surveillance, assassination plots, and human experimentation led to official investigations and reforms in the 1970s.” [emphasis added]
Despite this acknowledged violation of its charter for 25 years, which is pretty much since its inception, the details of this information were kept classified for 30 years from not just the public but major governmental bodies and it was left to the agency itself to judge how best to “reform” its ways.
On Dec. 22, 1974, The New York Times published an article by Seymour Hersh exposing illegal operations conducted by the CIA, dubbed the “family jewels”. This included, covert action programs involving assassination attempts on foreign leaders and covert attempts to subvert foreign governments, which were reported for the first time. In addition, the article discussed efforts by intelligence agencies to collect information on the political activities of U.S. citizens.
Largely as a reaction to Hersh’s findings, the creation of the Church Committee was approved on January 27, 1975, by a vote of 82 to 4 in the Senate.
The Church Committee also published an interim report titled “Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders”, which investigated alleged attempts to assassinate foreign leaders, including Patrice Lumumba of Zaire, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, Ngo Dinh Diem of Vietnam, Gen. René Schneider of Chile and Fidel Castro of Cuba. President Ford attempted to withhold the report from the public, but failed and reluctantly issued Executive Order 11905 after pressure from the public and the Church Committee.
Executive Order 11905 is a United States Presidential Executive Order signed on February 18, 1976, by a very reluctant President Ford in an attempt to reform the United States Intelligence Community, improve oversight on foreign intelligence activities, and ban political assassination.
The attempt is now regarded as a failure and was largely undone by President Reagan who issued Executive Order 12333, which extended the powers and responsibilities of U.S. intelligence agencies and directed leaders of the U.S. federal agencies to co-operate fully with the CIA, which was the original arrangement that CIA have full authority over clandestine operations (for more information on this refer to my papers here and here).
In addition, the Church Committee produced seven case studies on covert operations, but only the one on Chile was released, titled “Covert Action in Chile: 1963–1973“. The rest were kept secret at the CIA’s request.
Among the most shocking revelation of the Church Committee was the discovery of Operation SHAMROCK, in which the major telecommunications companies shared their traffic with the NSA from 1945 to the early 1970s. The information gathered in this operation fed directly into the NSA Watch List. It was found out during the committee investigations that Senator Frank Church, who was overseeing the committee, was among the prominent names under surveillance on this NSA Watch List.
In 1975, the Church Committee decided to unilaterally declassify the particulars of this operation, against the objections of President Ford’s administration (refer here and here for more information).
The Church Committee’s reports constitute the most extensive review of intelligence activities ever made available to the public. Much of the contents were classified, but over 50,000 pages were declassified under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.
President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22nd, 1963. Two days before his assassination a hate-Kennedy handbill (see picture) was circulated in Dallas accusing the president of treasonous activities including being a communist sympathizer.
On March 1st, 1967 New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison arrested and charged Clay Shaw with conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy, with the help of David Ferrie and others. After a little over a one month long trial, Shaw was found not guilty on March 1st, 1969.
David Ferrie, a controller of Lee Harvey Oswald, was going to be a key witness and would have provided the ”smoking gun” evidence linking himself to Clay Shaw, was likely murdered on Feb. 22nd, 1967, less than a week after news of Garrison’s investigation broke in the media.
According to Garrison’s team findings, there was reason to believe that the CIA was involved in the orchestrations of President Kennedy’s assassination but access to classified material (which was nearly everything concerning the case) was necessary to continue such an investigation.
Though Garrison’s team lacked direct evidence, they were able to collect an immense amount of circumstantial evidence, which should have given the justification for access to classified material for further investigation. Instead the case was thrown out of court prematurely and is now treated as if it were a circus. [Refer to Garrison’s book for further details and Oliver Stone’s excellently researched movie JFK]
To date, it is the only trial to be brought forward concerning the assassination of President Kennedy.
The Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) was created in 1994 by the Congress enacted President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which mandated that all assassination-related material be housed in a single collection within the National Archives and Records Administration. In July 1998, a staff report released by the ARRB emphasized shortcomings in the original autopsy.
The ARRB wrote, “One of the many tragedies of the assassination of President Kennedy has been the incompleteness of the autopsy record and the suspicion caused by the shroud of secrecy that has surrounded the records that do exist.” [emphasis added]
The staff report for the Assassinations Records Review Board contended that brain photographs in the Kennedy records are not of Kennedy’s brain and show much less damage than Kennedy sustained.
The Washington Post reported:
“Asked about the lunchroom episode [where he was overheard stating his notes of the autopsy went missing] in a May 1996 deposition, Finck said he did not remember it. He was also vague about how many notes he took during the autopsy but confirmed that “after the autopsy I also wrote notes” and that he turned over whatever notes he had to the chief autopsy physician, James J. Humes.
It has long been known that Humes destroyed some original autopsy papers in a fireplace at his home on Nov. 24, 1963. He told the Warren Commission that what he burned was an original draft of his autopsy report. Under persistent questioning at a February 1996 deposition by the Review Board, Humes said he destroyed the draft and his “original notes.”
…Shown official autopsy photographs of Kennedy from the National Archives, [Saundra K.] Spencer [who worked in “the White House lab”] said they were not the ones she helped process and were printed on different paper. She said “there was no blood or opening cavities” and the wounds were much smaller in the pictures… [than what she had] worked on…
John T. Stringer, who said he was the only one to take photos during the autopsy itself, said some of those were missing as well. He said that pictures he took of Kennedy’s brain at a “supplementary autopsy” were different from the official set that was shown to him.” [emphasis added]
This not only shows that evidence tampering did indeed occur, as even the Warren Commission acknowledges, but this puts into question the reliability of the entire assassination record of John F. Kennedy and to what degree evidence tampering and forgery have occurred in these records.
We would also do well to remember the numerous crimes that the FBI and CIA have been guilty of committing upon the American people such as during the period of McCarthyism. That the FBI’s COINTELPRO has been implicated in covert operations against members of the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960s. That FBI director J. Edgar Hoover made no secret of his hostility towards Dr. King and his ludicrous belief that King was influenced by communists, despite having no evidence to that effect.
King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968 and the civil rights movement took a major blow.
In November 1975, as the Church Committee was completing its investigation, the Department of Justice formed a Task Force to examine the FBI’s program of harassment directed at Dr. King, including the FBI’s security investigations of him, his assassination and the FBI conducted criminal investigation that followed. One aspect of the Task force study was to determine “whether any action taken in relation to Dr. King by the FBI before the assassination had, or might have had, an effect, direct or indirect, on that event.”
In its report, the Task Force criticized the FBI not for the opening, but for the protracted continuation of, its security investigation of Dr. King:
“We think the security investigation which included both physical and technical surveillance, should have been terminated … in 1963. That it was intensified and augmented by a COINTELPRO type campaign against Dr. King was unwarranted; the COINTELPRO type campaign, moreover, was ultra vires and very probably … felonious.”
In 1999, King Family v. Jowers civil suit in Memphis, Tennessee occurred, the full transcript of the trial can be found here. The jury found that Lloyd Jowers and unnamed others, including those in high ranking positions within government agencies, participated in a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. King.
During the four week trial, it was pointed out that the rifle allegedly used to assassinate King did not have a scope that was sighted, which meant you could not have hit the broad side of a barn with that rifle, thus it could not have been the murder weapon.
This was only remarked on over 30 years after King was murdered and showed the level of incompetence, or more likely, evidence tampering that was committed from previous investigations conducted by the FBI.
The case of JFK and MLK are among the highest profile assassination cases in American history, and it has been shown in both cases that evidence tampering has indeed occurred, despite being in the center of the public eye. What are we then to expect as the standard of investigation for all the other cases of malfeasance? What expectation can we have that justice is ever upheld?
With a history of such blatant misconduct, it is clear that the present demand to declassify the Russiagate papers now, and not 50 years later, needs to occur if we are to address the level of criminality that is going on behind the scenes and which will determine the fate of the country.
The American People Deserve to Know
Today we see the continuation of the over seven decades’ long ruse, the targeting of individuals as Russian agents without any basis, in order to remove them from the political arena. The present effort to declassify the Russiagate papers and exonerate Michael Flynn, so that he may freely speak of the intelligence he knows, is not a threat to national security, it is a threat to those who have committed treason against their country.
On Oct. 6th, 2020, President Trump ordered the declassification of the Russia Probe documents along with the classified documents on the findings concerning the Hillary Clinton emails. The release of these documents threatens to expose the entrapment of the Trump campaign by the Clinton campaign with help of the U.S. intelligence agencies.
The Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released some of these documents recently, including former CIA Director John Brennan’s handwritten notes for a meeting with former President Obama, the notes revealing that Hillary Clinton approved a plan to “vilify Donald Trump by stirring up scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”
Trey Gowdy, who was Chair of the House Oversight Committee from June 13th, 2017 – Jan. 3rd, 2019, has stated in an interview on Oct. 7th, 2020 that he has never seen these documents. Devin Nunes, who was Chair of the House Intelligence Committee from Jan. 3rd, 2015 – Jan. 3rd, 2019, has also said in a recent interview that he has never seen these documents.
And yet, both the FBI and CIA were aware and had access to these documents and sat on them for four years, withholding their release from several government-led investigations that were looking into the Russiagate scandal and who were requesting relevant material that was in the possession of both intelligence bureaus. Do these intelligence bureaus sound like they are working for the “national security” of the American people?
The truth must finally be brought to light, or the country will rot from its head to tail.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Thirteen members of an anti-government group bent on igniting a civil war are charged in a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who the group targeted in a possible commando raid on the state capitol, according to newly unsealed court records.
“Authorities said Thursday that the Wolverine Watchmen group planned on storming either the capitol or Whitmer’s vacation home as part of a broader mission to instigate a civil war.”
Half of the country does not believe the FBI. Is it possible that the militia story is another contrived, anti-Trump, smear job by elements within the FBI? If the FBI headquarters can run a coup against the president, can Michigan FBI agents phony-up some charges against fringe characters with sketchy criminal information?
It would not be the first time. Back on March 29, 2010, the Department of Justice announced the following:
“Michigan residents, along with two residents of Ohio and a resident of Indiana, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade and FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena announced today.”
The 2010 Michigan militia group called themselves the “Hutarees.” The case did not end well for the FBI. Charges were dropped. Others from the Hutarees faced lesser charges. Some of the Hutarees ended up suing the government over the investigation and prosecution. It seems the FBI went too far on too little.
“Militia” is a news media certified code-word for Trump-supporter. FBI-doubters know the bureau launched a sophisticated operation against the Trump campaign, Trump transition, and finally the Trump administration. Even the New York Times admits it. It was a soft coup. The entire criminal conspiracy is being documented now in movies.
The FBI’s reputation has been destroyed through blatant politicization. Here are the corrupt political police: Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Clinesmith, Pientka, Brower, Baker, et al. That is a collection of various dirty cops, oath-breakers, coup-plotters, and persons “lacking candor” in FBI parlance. Those are just some of the FBI “headliners” — no Justice Department names on that list.
Current FBI Director Christopher Wray hardly engenders confidence as a strong leader bent on cleaning house and reforming a corrupt agency that attempted a soft coup against the presidency. Wray is all about damage control and institutional preservation. When it comes to honesty, Wray does not have a tough act to follow. That is why he is comfortable making the demonstrably false claim that Antifa is more of an ideology than a group.
Now we are dealing with reports of the “Wolverine Watchmen.” Here is the interesting part of one of the news reports where we should pay close attention. (It is also the operational part of the FBI’s activities wherein things have a tendency to legally fall apart):
“Members of the group bought weapons, conducted surveillance and held training and planning meetings, but they were foiled in part because the FBI infiltrated the group with informants, according to a criminal complaint. Six were charged with federal kidnapping offenses, and at least seven others face state charges.” [Emphasis added]
Also pay attention to this excerpt from the news report:
“The FBI used confidential informants as part of the investigation and has paid one of them more than $14,000 and paid $8,600 to another, according to the affidavit.”
While the anti-Trump media codeword “militia” is used to describe the alleged plotters — video evidence from Twitter and YouTube reveals that one of the leaders is an anarchist, certainly not a “right wing Trumpster.”
This is a video of Brandon Caserta, one of the ringleaders of the group of men arrested for a plot where the group planned to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Caserta has an anarchist flag behind him and in YouTube videos trashes police. He’s not a Republican, he’s an anarchist. pic.twitter.com/J1vE2qGYL7
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 8, 2020
Likewise, more questions are raised about the plotters, their affiliations, and motives with this news report:
“One of alleged plotters, 23-year-old Daniel Harris, attended a Black Lives Matter protest in June, telling the Oakland County Times he was upset about the killing of George Floyd and police violence.”
Perhaps the FBI’s case is 100% true? Perhaps the kidnapping story is legitimate? Perhaps this is not a piece of agitation propaganda? Would a governor cooperate or be complicit in the phony smear? Would the news media blow the anti-Trump dog whistle and blame the president for a kidnapping that never actually happened?
Of course, the presumption of innocence is foundational to our system of justice. Comey’s living legacy, and the permanent institutional stain on the FBI more generally, is that we cannot take the Bureau’s claims as truthful. We used to give due credence to sworn Special Agents of the FBI. No more.
At the explicit level, today’s geo-political struggle is about the U.S. maintaining its primacy of power – with financial power being a subset to this political power. Carl Schmitt, whose thoughts had such influence on Leo Strauss and U.S. thinking generally, advocated that those who have power should ‘use it, or lose it’. The prime object of politics therefore being to preserve one’s ‘social existence’.
But at the underside, Tech de-coupling from China is one implicit aspect to such a strategy (camouflaged beneath the catch-phrase of recovering ‘stolen’ U.S. jobs and intellectual property): The prize that America truly seeks is to seize for itself over the coming decades, all global standards in leading-edge technology, and to deny them to China.
Such standards might seem obscure, but they are a crucial element of modern technology. If the cold war was dominated by a race to build the most nuclear weapons, today’s contest between the U.S. and China — as well as vis à vis the EU — will at least partly be played out through a struggle to control the bureaucratic rule-setting that lies behind the most important industries of the age. And those standards are up for grabs.
China has long been strategically positioning itself to fight this ‘war’ of tech standards (i.e. China Standards 2035, a blueprint for cyber and data governance).
The same argument is true for supply-chains which are now at the centre of a tug-of-war that has major implications for geopolitics. Dis-entangling the rhizome of supply chains built-up through decades of globalism is difficult and onerous: The multinational companies which sell into the Chinese market may have little choice but to try to stay put. However, if de-coupling as a key U.S. foreign policy persists, then products ranging from computer servers, to Apple iPhones, could end up having two separate supply chains — one for the Chinese market, and one for much of the rest of the world. It will be more costly and less efficient, but this is the way that politics is pushing (at least for now).
So where are we in this de-coupling struggle? Until now, it is a mixed bag. The U.S. has focussed on de-coupling in certain leading-edge technologies (that also have dual civil-defence potential). But Washington and Beijing have stayed clear of financial de-coupling (so far) – as Wall Street does not want to lose a $5 trillion two-way financial trade.
Some years back, when travelling across Europe, passengers commonly had to exit one train on reaching the frontier, and cross to a different train and carriages, beyond the border. This still exists. The railways were operating on entirely different gauge rail tracks. We have not reached that point in Tech. But the future is likely to become more complex – and costly – should Europe, the U.S. and China adopt different protocols for 5G. The latter, with its low latency, enables diverse strands of data to be mined, and modelled, in near real time (a game-changing factor for missile targeting and aerial defence systems, where every millisecond counts).
It is possible then, that 5G may be divided into two competing stacks to reflect different U.S. and Chinese standards? For outsiders to compete, they may find it necessary to manufacture separate equipment for these different protocols. Some measure of division is also possible in semiconductors, artificial intelligence and other areas where U.S.-China rivalry is intense. For now, Russia and Iranian infrastructure is fully compatible with China. The West is not yet a ‘separate gauge’; it can still work with Iran and Russia, but dual-functionality in the tech sphere nevertheless will cost — and probably require careful legal workabouts, to avoid legal or regulatory sanction.
And just to be clear, the battle for influence over Tech standards is separate to the ‘Regulatory War’ in which the Data, AI and the Regulatory eco-spheres are being ‘Balkanised’. Europe is almost non-existent in the Cloud analytics sphere, but is trying to catch-up quick. It must. China is so far ahead that Europe has little choice but to bulldoze (strong arm) its way into this space i.e. by ‘regulating’ U.S. Cloud business (already under U.S. anti-trust threat), toward Europe.
Cloud companies provide their clients with data storage, but also with sophisticated tools for analysing, modelling, and understanding the vast data sets found in the cloud. The sheer size of modern data sets has sparked an explosion of new techniques for extracting information from them. These new techniques are made possible by ongoing advances in computer processing power and speed, as well as by aggregating computer power to improve performance (known as High-Performance Computing, or HPC).
Many of these techniques (‘data mining’, ‘machine learning’, or AI) refer to the process of extracting information from raw data. Machine learning refers to the use of specific algorithms to identify patterns in raw data and represent the data as a model. Such models can then be used to make inferences about new data sets or guide decision-making. The term ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) usually refers to a network of connected computing and physical devices that can automatically generate and transmit data about physical systems. The ‘nervous system’ serving such ‘body messaging’ will be 5G.
The EU is already regulating Big Data; it intends to regulate the U.S. Cloud platforms; and is looking at setting EU protocols for algorithms (to reflect EU social objectives and ‘liberal values’).
All those companies that are dependent on Cloud analytics and machine training, therefore, will be affected by this Regulatory fragmentation into distinct spheres. Companies, of course, need these capabilities to run robotics and complex mechanical systems effectively – and to reduce costs. Analytics has been responsible for huge productivity gains. Accenture estimate that analytics alone could generate as much as $425 billion in added-value, by 2025, for the oil and gas industry.
It was the U.S. that triggered this round of de-coupling, but the consequence to that initial decision is that it has prompted China to respond with its own de-coupling from the U.S. at the leading-edge of Tech. China’s intent now is not simply to refine and improve on existing technology, but to leapfrog existing knowledge into a new tech realm (such as by discovering and using new materials that overcome present limits to microprocessor evolution).
They may just succeed – over next the three years or so – given the huge resources China is diverting to this task (i.e. with microprocessors). This could alter the whole tech calculus – awarding China primacy over most key areas of cutting-edge technology. States will not easily be able ignore this fact – whether or not they profess to ‘like’ China, or not.
Which brings us to the second ‘underside’ to this geopolitical struggle. So far, both the U.S. and China have kept finance largely separate to the main de-coupling. But a substantive change may be underway: The U.S. and several other states are toying with Central Bank digital currencies, and FinTech internet platforms are beginning to displace traditional banking institutions. Pepe Escobar notes:
Donald Trump is mulling restrictions on Ant’s Alipay and other Chinese digital payment platforms like Tencent Holdings…and, as with Huawei, Trump’s team is alleging Ant’s digital payment platforms threaten U.S. national security. More likely is that Trump is concerned Ant threatens the global banking advantage the U.S. has long taken for granted.
Team Trump is not alone. U.S. hedge fund manager Kyle Bass of Hayman Capital argues Ant and Tencent are “clear and present dangers to U.S. national security that now threaten us more than any other issue.”
Bass estimates that the Chinese Communist Party is pushing its yuan digital payment system on an estimated 62% of the world’s population in ways that threaten Washington’s influence. What started as a mere online payment service has since veered sharply into a financial services juggernaut. It’s becoming a powerhouse in loans, insurance policies, mutual funds, travel booking and all the cross-platform synergies for sales and economies of scale.
At the moment, well over 90% of Alipay users are using the app for more than just payments. This is “effectively creating a closed-loop ecosystem where there is no need for money to leave the wallet ecosystem,” says analyst Harshita Rawat of Bernstein Research.
Rawat notes that Ant has “used its payment service as a user acquisition engine for building broader financial services features.” That includes finding ways to cross-pollinate Ant’s ambitions to be China’s financial services mall with Alibaba’s dominant online bazaar…
Given that many Chinese already downloaded the Alipay app, CEO Eric Jing is angling to export its model overseas. It’s collaborating with nine start-ups around the region, including GCash in the Philippines and Paytm in India. Ant plans to use the proceeds from its share listing to accelerate the pivot overseas.
The point here is two-fold: China is setting the scene to challenge a fiat dollar, at a sensitive moment of dollar weakness. And secondly, China is placing ‘facts on the ground’ — shaping standards from the bottom up, through widespread overseas adoption of its technology.
Just as Alipay has made huge inroads across Asia, China’s ‘Smart Cities’ project diffuses Chinese standards, precisely because they incorporate so many technologies: Facial recognition systems, big data analysis, 5G telecoms and AI cameras. All represent technologies for which standards remain up for grabs. Thus ‘smart cities’, which automate multiple municipal functions, additionally helps China’s standards drive.
According to research by RWR Advisory, a Washington-based consultancy, Chinese companies have done 116 deals to install ‘smart city’ and ‘safe city’ packages around the world since 2013, with 70 of these taking place in countries that also participate in the Belt and Road Initiative. The main difference between ‘smart’ and ‘safe’ city equipment is that the latter is intended primarily to survey and monitor the population, while the former is primarily aimed at automating municipal functions while also incorporating surveillance functions. Cities in western and southern Europe together have signed up to a total of 25 such ‘smart’ and ‘safe’ projects.
Mark Warner, Democratic Vice-Chair of the U.S. Senate intelligence committee, sees the threat from China in stark terms: Beijing intends to control the next generation of digital infrastructure, he says, and, as it does so, to impose principles ‘that are antithetical to U.S. values’. “Over the last 10 to 15 years, [the U.S.] leadership role has eroded and our leverage to establish standards and protocols reflecting our values has diminished,” Warner laments: “As a result others, but mostly China, have stepped into the void to advance standards and values that advantage the Chinese Communist party”.
All signs point to China wielding more influence over global technological standards. Yet equally certain is that the backlash from Washington is building. Should the U.S. become more confrontational, it could lead China to accelerate a move towards parallel alternatives. This could ultimately result in a bifurcated arena on industrial standards.
In 2020, The Trump administration has dramatically increased the number of Freedom of Navigation missions.
Over the past two years, the United States has dramatically increased the number of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and destroyers sent into the South China Sea as a freedom of navigation show of force missions to remind the Chinese government that the U.S. considers the Western Pacific and the South China Sea as a part of the oceans of America and its allies. Additionally, in 2020, the Trump administration ratcheted up tensions with China over Taiwan by sending to Taiwan the highest-ranking U.S. officials in over forty years. The Chinese government has responded with the largest naval exercises in its history and sending flights of 18 aircraft to the edge of Taiwan’s air defense zone.
U.S. Pressure on China through Actions in Taiwan
China considers Taiwan as a renegade province that will be eventually subsumed by China. In 1979, while President Jimmy Carter severed formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan and formally recognized the People’s Republic of China, the U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which is the basis for Washington’s relationship with Taipei. It includes the provision of selling military weapons for Taiwan’s self-defense. The law does not require the United States to defend Taiwan if China attacks, but it also doesn’t rule it out—a policy known as strategic ambiguity.
To the anger of the Chinese government, the Trump administration has increased contact with Taiwan in a variety of ways. After the 2016 election, President Trump spoke by phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in what is believed to be the first time a U.S. president or president-elect has spoken directly with a Taiwanese leader since at least 1979.
Additionally, over the past two months, the United States has ramped up its confrontation with China by high level official visits to Taiwan. For the first time in over 40 years, a cabinet level U.S. official visited Taiwan when Health and Human Services Secretary Azar went to Taiwan in August 2020, a visit that some consider a Trump administration’s jab at China for not being forthcoming with information on the Corona virus. Most recently, on September 17, Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs Keith Krach visited Taiwan for a three-day visit, the most senior State Department official to go to Taiwan in four decades.
In response to Under-Secretary of State Krach’s visit, on September 18, the Chinese government flew 18 military aircraft to the edge of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. One day later on September 19, the Chinese government sent a 19 aircraft armada consisting of 12 J-16 fighters, two J-10 fighters, two J-11 fighters, two H-6 bombers and one Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft with some crossing the Taiwan Strait midline and others flying into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone off its southwest coast. Taiwan government scrambled F-16 fighters and deployed its air defense missile system.
Ahead of Krach’s arrival in Taiwan, on September 16, Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, had lunch with Taiwan’s top official in New York, a meeting she called historic and a further step in the Trump administration’s campaign to strengthen relations with Taiwan. In mid-August, the de facto US ambassador to Taiwan Brent Christensen became the first American official to participate in commemorations of Chinese attacks on the Taiwanese island of Quemoy.
Taiwan is one of the top importers of U.S. weapons. The United States has sold military equipment to Taiwan since 1979. President Barack Obama signed off on two major weapons deals totaling about $12 billion. President George W. Bush approved nine arms packages, worth approximately $5 billion, during his first term. President Trump has announced two major military sales to Taiwan. The first, approved in June 2017, was worth $1.4 billion and included advanced missiles and torpedoes. It also provided technical support for an early-warning radar system. In October 2018, a second arms package, worth an estimated $330 million, was approved. Also, in 2018, the United States unveiled $250 million worth of upgrades to its de facto embassy in Taipei despite Chinese objections.
On October 13, 2020, Reuters reported that the United States plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems, including mines, cruise missiles and drones, to Taiwan as the Trump administration increases pressure on China.
The U.S. Congress is also involved in the administration’s support for Taiwan that is designed to increase tensions with China. On October 1, 2020, 50 U.S. senators of both parties sent U.S. Trade Negotiator Robert Lighthizer a letter urging him to begin the formal process of negotiating a trade pact with Taiwan. Such a move would likely anger Beijing, which sees certain partnerships with Taiwan as an affront to China’s sovereignty.
The U.S. military In the Pacific
Besides pressure on China through its actions with Taiwan, in the past six months, the confrontation and competition between the U.S. and Chinese navies has increased dramatically. In response to increased U.S. military operations in the Western Pacific, China has increased its pressure on issues in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In the Pacific region, the U.S. has a very large presence: 121 military bases in Japan; 83 bases in South Korea; 4 bases in Guam; 5 bases in Oahu, Hawaii including Headquarters of Indo-Pacific Command; one of largest training area in the U.S. on Big Island, Hawaii; a missile test range on Kauai, Hawaii; a Missile test range on Kwajelein, Marshall Islands; 1 base in Northern Marianas, Saipan & Tinian; 1 base in Australia; and defense agreements with the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia & Palau through the Compact of Free Association which covers a huge area of the Pacific larger than the land mass of the continental United States.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific command is responsible for U.S. military operations on over 52 percent of the earth’s surface, in 36 nations with more than half the world’s population and 3,200 different languages and for 5 of 7 U.S. collective defense treaties. The Indo-Pacific command has 375,000 U.S. military and civilian personnel. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Fleet has 200 ships, including five aircraft carrier strike groups, 1,100 aircraft, and 130,000 sailors and civilians. The U.S, Marine Corps Forces in the Pacific has two Marine Expeditionary Forces, 86,000 personnel and 640 aircraft. The U.S. Pacific Air Force has 46,000 airmen and civilians and 420 aircraft. The U.S. Army Pacific has 106,000 personnel in one corps and two divisions, 300 aircraft and five watercraft. There are 1,200 Special Operations personnel assigned to the Indo-Pacific Command.
The U.S. conducts many land and sea exercises in the Pacific region. One of the most confrontational exercises is the Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) which are designed to challenge “excessive coastal state claims over the world’s oceans as reflected in the UN Law of the Sea Convention.” The Department of Defense guidelines state that the U.S. “will exercise and assert its rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea on a worldwide basis in a manner that is consistent with the balance of interests.”
The U.S. Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea challenge China’s construction of military bases on disputed atolls. Over the past seven years, since 2013, the Chinese government, in order to project power across the South China Sea shipping route through which trillions of dollars of global trade flows each year, has built military fortifications on more than 3,000 dredged-up acres across seven atolls that now house long-range sensor arrays, port facilities, runways, helipads and reinforced bunkers for fuel and weapons. These reefs are named in English Fiery Cross, Subi, Mischief, McKennan, Johnson South, Gaven and Cuarteron. They are the only Chinese military bases outside of mainland China with the exception of one Chinese military base built in Dijbouti on the Horn of Africa and the entrance to the Red Sea. Dijbouti now has military bases from the U.S., France, UK, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and China.
In 2015 the Obama administration authorized two Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) and three FONOPs were authorized in 2016.
In spring 2017, the Trump administration stopped FONOPs in the South China Sea hoping China might increase its pressure on North Korea to stop missile tests. But by summer 2017, the U.S. restarted them with six FONOPs in 2017 and five operations in 2018. A record number of U.S FONOPs in South China Sea with a total of nine Freedom of Navigation operations were conducted in 2019.
In 2020, The Trump administration has dramatically increased the number of Freedom of Navigation missions. The first FONOP of 2020 was on January 25 with the littoral combat ship USS Montgomery sailing past Chinese claims in the Spratly Islands. During that operation, China responded by sending two fighter-bombers to fly close to the USS Montgomery.
In April 2020, in two consecutive days on FONOP missions, the guided-missile destroyer USS Barry sailed through the Paracel Islands and the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill navigated through the Spratly Island chain in the South China Sea.
In early July 2020, the U.S. sent two aircraft carrier strike groups, the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups, to conduct dual carrier operations in the South China Sea. A carrier strike group is composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, an aircraft carrier, at least one cruiser, a destroyer squadron of at least two destroyers or frigates, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft. A carrier strike group can also include submarines, attached logistics ships and a supply ship.
RIMPAC 2020 Photo by U.S. Navy
In another major naval show of force exercise in the Pacific, in August 2020 the United States held its Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval war practice, traditionally the world’s largest maritime war maneuver with 25,000 personnel, 200 ships from 25 countries. This year COVID19 concerns reduced RIMPAC to 20 ships and naval forces from ten countries, South Korea, Canada, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, New Zealand, Brunei, France and the United States. The month-long war practice was reduced from one month to two weeks.
Following the RIMPAC naval war practice, in September, 2020, the U.S. and three other nations, Australia, Japan and South Korea conducted naval operations off Guam to “strengthen our shared commitments to regional stability and a free and open Indo Pacific through integrated training and cooperation.”
Those exercises were followed in mid-September by joint U.S. military maneuvers off Guam and the Marianas named Valiant Shield. America’s largest warships, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Regan, assault ship USS America and amphibious warfare vessels USS New Orleans and USS Germantown with 100 aircraft and 11,000 troops practiced defending the U.S. territory of Guam as China declared it is “militarily and morally ready for war” in response to U.S. increased naval presence in the region. Valiant Shield is held every other year, with 11,000 personnel from all forces –U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps– and conducts a live-fire missile exercises involving surface, air, and subsurface launched ordnance.
Earlier in the year in March 2020, while conducting operations in the Western Pacific, the US aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt had a massive COVID19 outbreak in which over 1,000 sailors tested positive out of the crew of 4,900. COVID left the carrier with such reduced manning to render it out of commission and its captain relieved of command due to his public appeal to the Pentagon for assistance in handling the COVID outbreak. Over 4000 sailors were quarantined off the ship in hotels on Guam and on military bases on the island. The USS Theodore Roosevelt was ported in Guam for two months until the Navy returned her to her homeport of San Diego in May.
China’s Response to U.S. Actions
The Chinese navy did not allow the U.S. war practice in the Western Pacific and South China Sea to go unanswered. In April 2020, the Chinese government sent the aircraft carrier Liaoning and its strike group of five warships including two destroyers, two frigates and a combat support ship through the 155-mile wide Miyako Strait between the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako and east of Taiwan. The strait is an international waterway. Taiwan’s navy sent ships to monitor the strike group as it passed.
In response to the Chinese carrier group’s passing near Taiwan, the United States had the U.S. Air Force engage in its own show of force at Andersen Air Force Base on the island of Guam by having bombers including B-52 bombers conduct an “elephant walk,” a close formation of aircraft before takeoff which “showcases their commitment to ensure regional stability throughout the Indo-Pacific.”
The Chinese navy also held naval exercises in July in response to the U.S increasing its freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.
And, at the same time in mid-August, as the U.S. was conducting the RIMPAC war exercises off Hawai’i, China had its own show-of-force naval maneuvers, the most comprehensive and wide-reaching naval practice in four maritime areas, the Yellow Sea, Bohai Gulf, East China Sea and the South China Sea.
China now has the largest navy in the world with 350 ships and submarines compared to the 293 ships in the U.S. Navy. However, the U.S. has the largest tonnage with 11 aircraft carriers compared to two aircraft carriers in China with a third on the way. The first, the Liaoning, was commissioned in 2012, while the second, the Shandong, was commissioned in December 2019.
The U.S. military is concerned about the increasing power and reach of the Chinese military. U.S. Department of Defense’s 200 page 2020 annual report to Congress on Chinese military power states: “The PRC has marshalled the resources, technology, and political will over the past two decades to strengthen and modernize the PLA in nearly every respect…and China is already ahead of the United States in certain areas such as:
Shipbuilding: The PRC has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants. In comparison, the U.S. Navy’s battle force is approximately 293 ships as of early 2020.
Land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles: The PRC has more than 1,250 ground launched ballistic missiles (GLBMs) and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The United States currently fields one type of conventional GLBM with a range of 70 to 300 kilometers and no GLCMs.
Integrated air defense systems: The PRC has one of the world’s largest forces of advanced long range surface-to-air systems—including Russian-built S-400s, S-300s, and domestically produced systems—that constitute part of its robust and redundant integrated air defense system architecture.
The DOD report also predicts that China will increase the number of military logistics locations outside the country: “Beyond its current base in Djibouti, the PRC is very likely already considering and planning for additional overseas military logistics facilities to support naval, air, and ground forces. The PRC has likely considered locations for PLA military logistics facilities in Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola, and Tajikistan.”
As a part of its massive economic “One Belt One Road” project, China has increased acquisitions of overseas civilian ports to build a global network of ports and logistics terminals in strategic locations throughout the European Union, Latin America, Africa and the Indian Ocean. COSCO Shipping Holdings Co. is the world’s third-biggest container line and has investments in 61 port terminals around the world. Another Chinese State related corporation, China Merchants, manages 36 ports in 18 countries.
In 2015, the Pakistani government leased its massive, deep-water port of Gwadar to the Chinese Overseas Port Holding Company for 43 years, until 2059. Gwadar port is connected to China by road and railway as a key element of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. This port allows Chinese goods to bypass by road the maritime choke point between the Malay Peninsula and the island of Sumatra that could be closed off by the Indian Navy. Gwadar is considered a possible future base for the Chinese Navy.
Over the past ten years, Chinese companies have acquired stakes in 13 ports in Europe, including in Greece, Spain and Belgium, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Those ports handle about 10 percent of Europe’s shipping container capacity.
In 2015, the city of Darwin, Australia leased its port for 99 years to the Shangdong Landbridge Group. Also in 2015, the Chinese state-run Shanghai International Port Group Co. won a contract for management of one port in Haifa, Israel for 25 years beginning in 2021. In October 2020 the same company is bidding on management of a second port facility in Haifa which the U.S. government is pressuring Israel to decline as the U.S. Navy uses that port.
In 2016, COSCO acquired control of the Piraeus Port Authority S.A., the publicly listed company created by the Greek state to oversee the port, winning a bid to operate and develop the port for 40 years in exchange for an annual fee of 2 percent of the port’s gross revenue and more than $550 million in new investments in port facilities. In 2018, China’s largest shipping company, Cosco Shipping Holdings Co., bought out control of a major US trade terminal in the port of Long Beach, California.
In 2017 Chinese companies announced plans to buy or invest in nine overseas ports in projects valued at $20 Billion.
U.S. Military Land Exercises
Added to the U.S. naval war practice in the Pacific are land military exercises. Defender 2020 Pacific, the U.S. Army’s major exercise in the Indo-Pacific theater, began in August, 2020 with joint forces deploying to Guam and the Pacific island of Palau focusing on a South China Sea scenario in a “demonstration of assurance to our allies and partners in the region.” Defender Pacific 20 is a joint exercise that demonstrates “strategic readiness by deploying combat credible forces across the Indo-Pacific Theater of operations contributing to a free and open Pacific.”
According to Defense News, the Defender 2020 exercise was designed to counter China, characterized in the National Defense Strategy as a long-term, strategic competitor of the United States. The NDS lays out a world where great power competition rather than counterterrorism will drive the Defense Department’s decision-making and force structure.
In a second part of Defense 2020, in early September 2020, the U.S. Army’s First Corps and the 7th Infantry Division sent their tactical operations centers to provide command and control of joint forcible entry exercises across Alaska and into the Aleutian Islands.
Additionally, the Indo-Pacific Command is expanding its Pacific Pathways exercises conducted throughout the calendar year. The plan is to extend the time U.S. Army units are in host countries. The U.S. Army has 85,000 permanently stationed troops in the Indo-Pacific region but is also practicing rapid deployment from the continental United States to the Pacific.
President of Small Island Nation of Palau wants U.S. military installations
The U.S. is responsible for the defense of Palau and its surrounding sea area the size of Spain under a Compact of Free Association agreement that gives Palau’s 20,000 citizens the right to travel to, live and work in the U.S. The current compact expires in 2024 and is being renegotiated this year. Palau is one of just four remaining Pacific nations that recognize Taiwan, after Solomon Islands and Kiribati switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing last year.
North and South Korea
In June 2018, after his first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Trump unilaterally suspended large-scale field training with South Korea seemingly agreeing with North Korea’s view of such drills as “provocative” and a drain of money.
The United States and South Korea continue to conduct computerized simulations, the latest being the annual joint military exercises August 18-28, 2020. The combined command post training focused on computerized simulations aimed at preparing the two militaries for various battle scenarios, such as a surprise North Korean attack. A coronavirus outbreak forced the scaling back of an already low-key training program. North Korea considers the computer drills as training as invasion rehearsals and has threatened to abandon stalled nuclear talks if Washington persists with what it perceives as “hostile policies” toward Pyongyang. The U.S. and South Korean militaries canceled their springtime drills following a COVID-19 outbreak in the southern city of Daegu.
The 2020 exercises provided the second of three assessments of South Korea’s readiness to take over wartime operational control of South Korean forces. The United States agreed to hand over control on the conditions that South Korea has secured key military capabilities to lead the combined defense posture and effectively counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, and that there is a security environment conducive to a transfer.
However, retired Army General Vincent Brooks, the former U.S. military commander in South Korea said on October 2 when speaking at the Atlantic Council virtual conference on Korea that continuing to halt large-scale military exercises “is no longer relevant” as a negotiating tool with North Korea as a lever for denuclearization talks. He said that the two year pause of major training exercises between South Korean and U.S. forces “didn’t seem to yield the diplomatic traction” to move forward negotiations on North Korean nuclear weapons and missile programs.
In other recent regional events, in a meeting in Tokyo on October 6, 2020 of the Quad grouping of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced China’s “exploitation, corruption, and coercion. He spoke of increasing regional frustration about China’s lack of transparency over the coronavirus outbreak and increased assertiveness toward its neighbors. Other Quad members were more reluctant to criticize China due to strong economic ties. They continue to characterize the Quad as a “consultative security mechanism between like-minded democracies.”
South Korea is not included in the Quad. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said, “We don’t think anything that automatically shuts out, and is exclusive of, the interests of others is a good idea. If that’s a structured alliance, we will certainly think very hard whether it serves our security interests.” The U.S. and South Korea are at loggerheads about the cost of maintaining 28,500 U.S. military in South Korea.
October 10 North Korea celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party. The nighttime military parade showcased North Korea’s largest ICBM, which was mounted on an 11-axel launch vehicle that was also seen for the first time. The military parade was followed 24 hours later by a mass entertainment event for tens of thousands on October 11. In his speech for the celebrations, Chairman Kim Jung Un did not berate South Korea or the United States but instead spoke of the typhoons, floods and the COVID virus around the world, although North Korea claims to have had no cases. The North has not restarted its testing of ICBM’s, the last test on November 28, 2017 almost three years ago, and North Korea’s last nuclear weapons test was three years ago on September 3, 2017.
Eric S. MARGOLIS
Forty-seven years ago, Egypt and Syria launched a massive surprise attack on Israeli forces dug into fortifications along the Suez Canal and Golan Heights. The ‘limited’ Arab objective was to recapture both strategic areas that had been seized from the two Arab states in Israel’s victorious 1967 War.
Re-armed with modern – but by no means top drawer – Soviet weapons, Egypt and Syria sought to drive the Israelis back, then wait for the great powers to impose a truce. It was a badly flawed strategy, which assured the heavily armed Israelis would control the military initiative with their superiority in air power and armor.
At first, the Arab surprise attack caught Israel flat-footed. Israeli reserve armored forces were still in storage when Egyptian and Syrian armor and infantry stormed across the 1967 cease-fire lines.
Warnings of the impending assault from the most important Israeli spy, Ashraf Marwan – amazingly the son-in law of the late Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser – were ignored or shrugged off in Israel which was still filled with hubris over its lopsided, US-assisted victory in the 1967 War.
This was the first big mystery of the 1973 War. Was Marwan really a Mossad spy or a double agent, as Egypt later claimed, disinforming Israel on the time of the Arab offensive? Marwan later fell to his death – or was pushed – from a London apartment.
Syria’s armor drove into the Golan Heights from their starting positions on the plains east of Golan and the Mount Hermon massif.
The opening Arab assault was a remarkable success. I walked much of the Suez Canal soon after the war and was awed that Egypt’s military engineers had managed to get so many tanks and men across the wide canal under enemy fire.
Equally amazing was Egyptian infantry using highly effective new Soviet Sagger anti-tank missiles and air defense units employing SAM-6 anti-aircraft missiles to blunt Israeli counter attacks. Hundreds of Israeli US-supplied M40 and M60 tanks and 20% of Israel’s formidable air force were destroyed.
Most of Israel’s 15 Bar Lev forts built to defend the Suez Canal were stormed. As a connoisseur of modern fortification, I was fascinated to explore the fallen Israeli forts. Syria inflicted heavy casualties on Israeli armor defending the Golan Heights and on its forts.
The second big mystery of the war concerns the savage fight for Golan. Syrian armor and mechanized divisions had managed to claw their way to the top of the Golan Heights, from where they looked down on Galilee and most of northern Israel. We don’t know whether Syria intended to drive into Galilee, formerly a heavily Arab area, or try to defend the Golan ridgeline. But orders went out from Syrian HQ to halt the Syrian offensive when the downhill road to Galilee and Jordan River bridges were wide open. Why did the Syrians halt their advance when victory was in their grasp?
The answer remains a mystery. But the best assumption is that Soviet spy satellites saw Israel move 13 Jericho missiles out of caves at two airbases and affix their 20-kiloton nuclear warheads. Moscow immediately warned Washington and its Arab allies, both of whom feared an imminent Israeli nuclear strike against targets that included Damascus and Cairo.
So, both Egypt and Syria halted their advances. Israeli forces, bolstered by the arrival of powerful reserve armored divisions, seized the initiative and went on to achieve a brilliant victory that included crossing the Canal and encircling Egypt’s III Corps. The fighting ended after Israel failed to seize Suez and towns on the way to Damascus. Threats of Soviet intervention and America’s resupply of almost all of Israel’s lost weapons brought the 1973 War to a close.
Egypt regained Sinai – Syria and the Palestinians got nothing. The US sank ever deeper into the turbulent affairs of the Arab world. After a bad scare, Israel triumphed as the Mideast’s premier military power.
As people give up on the state, politics flow out of the system and into the streets.
As the elections fall upon us, most people are focused on who wins, Republicans or Democrats. That is an important question, since a Democratic victory would bring a serious assault on freedom of thought and expression. What you see on campuses is what the cultural Marxists want to force on society as a whole. “Cancel” is the new synonym for “liquidate.”
There is nonetheless a more portentous question facing our country: do politics stay within the banks of the political system or do they overflow those banks and inundate daily life? The answer to that question may lead to another: do we remain the United States or will the astonishing disintegration of the Soviet Union be followed by the even more astonishing disintegration of our own country?
Why are we faced with these questions? Because all around the world the state is in decline. The decline is steeper in some places than in others, but it is occurring almost everywhere. Why? Because many of the elites that run states have disconnected themselves from the rest of the country. Their culture and values are hostile to the beliefs of their non-elite countrymen. They suck money and power out of the rest of the country and use them solely for their own benefit. And they care about only one thing: remaining the elite. These behaviors generate a growing crisis of legitimacy for the state the elite controls. People come to see the state as a racket.
When people give up on the state, politics flow out of the system and into the streets. We have seen that this summer, coming from the Left. Even with Mr. Trump as President, the state’s response has been supine. Monuments to people’s ancestors and heroes are torn down. Everything “politically incorrect” is renamed. The Right watches angrily as business and political “leaders” grovel in the dirt before cultural Marxism. Their legitimacy becomes as thin as their courage.
At what point does the Right give up on the state? That is likely to depend on what happens to the economy. Will it recover quickly in a V-shaped or “swoosh” fashion or will we find ourselves in a second Great Depression? The elite is doing its best to create the latter by keeping people so terrified of the coronavirus that even though businesses re-open, no customers come. The elite’s goal is to defeat President Trump, and they calculate their usual grasp on the levers of power and money will save them amidst a general economic collapse. That may be optimistic.
If the Left continues to move politics into the streets, the Right will at some point do the same. That will come sooner if much of the Right is unemployed. A second term for President Trump will to some extent act as a safety valve for the Right. But it will also push the alt-left to become more violent. With the police in major cities neutered by the politicians, the Right will counter, if only to defend itself and its symbols. At that point, ol’ man river overflows his banks and everyone is caught up in the flood.
The flood may take the shape of Fourth Generation war, war fought by people who are not soldiers and whose primary loyalty is to something other than the state. Race would be one such loyalty, religion another, region or local state (e.g., Ohio or Alabama) a third. Ideology would motivate many, and lots of young men would fight for lack of anything better to do. Places such as Libya and Syria would be re-created on American soil.
It is bizarre that we even have to think about this scenario. But the Left’s violence and the state’s weak response to it means such a disaster is conceivable. The state arose to establish and maintain order, safety of persons and property. A state that fails to do so will fall. If its people are fortunate, a new state that can do the job will arise quickly, although it may be an authoritarian state.
As the Chinese say, with millennia of bitter experience, better 100 years of tyranny than one day of anarchy. No conservative can want disorder, much less state failure. The Left, if it has any remaining grasp on reality, should know it will lose a war with the Right and lose it quickly. Its strength is in cities, and cities cannot feed themselves. As Mao said, take the countryside and the cities will fall.
It is not too late for Left and Right to accept the need to live with each other and work out ways to do so. A renewed federalism is the most promising, with some states politically and culturally left, others right. Anyone who did not like it where he was could move.
In the meantime, let me offer a morsel of advice to the Left: it is time to stop baby from playing with matches and dynamite.
People living in the western world are in the greatest fight for the future of pluralist and republican forms of governance since the rise and fall of fascism 75 years ago. As then, society had to be built up from a war. Today’s war has been an economic war of the oligarchs against the republic, and it increasingly appears that the coronavirus pandemic is being used, on the political end, as a massive coup against pluralist society. We are being confronted with this ‘great reset’, alluding to post-war construction. But for a whole generation people have already been living under an ever-increasing austerity regimen. This is a regimen that can only be explained as some toxic combination of the systemic inevitabilities of a consumer-driven society on the foundation of planned obsolescence, and the never-ending greed and lust for power which defines whole sections of the sociopathic oligarchy.
Recently we saw UK PM Boris Johnson stand in front of a ‘Build Back Better’ sign, speaking to the need for a ‘great reset’. ‘Build Back Better’ happens to be Joe Biden’s campaign slogan, which raises many other questions for another time. But, to what extent are the handlers who manage ‘Joe Biden’, and those managing ‘Boris Johnson’ working the same script?
The more pertinent question is to ask: in whose interest is this ‘great reset’ being carried out? Certainly it cannot be left to those who have built their careers upon the theory and practice of austerity. Certainly it cannot be left to those who have built their careers as puppets of a morally decaying oligarchy.
What Johnson calls the ‘Great Reset’, Biden calls the ‘Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution & Environmental Justice’. Certainly the coming economy cannot be left to Boris Johnson or Joe Biden.
How is it that now Boris Johnson speaks publicly of a ‘great reset’, whereas just months ago when those outside the ruling media paradigm used this phrase, it was censured by corporate Atlanticist media as being conspiratorial in nature? This is an excellent question posed by Neil Clark.
And so we have by now all read numerous articles in the official press talking about how economic life after coronavirus will never be the same as it was before. Atlanticist press has even run numerous opinion articles talking about how this may cut against globalization – a fair point, and one which many thinking people by and large agree with.
Yet they have set aside any substantive discussion about what exists in lieu of globalization, and what the economy looks like in various parts of the world if it is not globalized. We have consistently spoken of multipolarity, a term that in decades past was utilized frequently in western vectors, in the sphere of geopolitics and international relations. Now there is some strange ban on the term, and so we are now bereft of a language with which to have an honest discussion about the post-globalization paradigm.
Technocracy or Pluralism? A Fight Against the Newspeak
Until now, we have only been given a steady diet of distancing, of lockdown provisions, quarantining, track and trace, and we have forgotten entirely about the fact that all of this was only supposed to be a two or three-week long exercise to flatten the curve. And now the truth is emerging that what is being planned is a new proposal being disguised as a ‘great reset’.
One of the large problems in discussing the ‘great reset’ is that a false dichotomy has arisen around it. Either one wants things to be how they were before and without changes to the status quo, or they promote this ‘great reset’. Unfortunately, Clark in his RT article falls into this false dichotomy, and perhaps only for expedience sake in discussing some other point, he does not challenge the inherent problems in ‘how things were before’. In truth, we would be surprised if Clark did not appreciate what we are going to propose.
What we propose is that we must oppose their ‘new normal’ ‘great reset’, while also understanding the inherent problems of what had been normalized up until Covid.
The way things were before was also a tremendous problem, and yet now it only seems better in comparison to the police state-like provisions we’ve encountered throughout the course of politicizing the spectre of this ‘pandemic’.
Oddly this politicization is based in positive cases (and not hospitalizations) ostensibly linked to the novel coronavirus. Strangely, we are told to ‘listen to the consensus science’ even as these very institutions consist of politically arrived at appointments. Certainly science is not about consensus, but about challenging assumptions, repeatability and a lively debate between disagreeing scientists with relatively equal qualifications. As Kuhn explains in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, science is always evolving, and by definition potentially overturns consensus paradigms. This is a debate we have not seen, and this fact by itself represents an illiberal cancer growing on an already defective pluralist society – ironically, all flying under the banner of liberalism.
Decisions that a society decides to take should be driven by reason, prudence, and justice. What is or isn’t scientific plays a role, but cannot be the deciding factor. Science clearly says that we may eliminate cross-walk injuries by banning street-crossing or by banning driving, but what policy makers must do is account for the need to have both cars and crossing the street, in deciding how – if it’s even possible – to reduce or eliminate such injuries. Science is only one part of this equation.
But isn’t economics also a science? Is sociology not a science? What about psychology and psychiatry – as in the known effects of social isolation and, say, suicide prevention? What about housing and urban planning? The great sociologist Emile Durkheim explains how these are sciences – they adopt and apply the scientific method in their work. Universities have been awarding doctoral degrees in these sciences for a century or more, do these expert opinions not count when managing a public catastrophe?
It is, and always has been, a political and politicized position to listen to some scientists, and not others.
And so what of our term ‘reset’? Indeed, it is itself misleading, and we would propose it is intentionally so if we understand Orwell’s critique of the use of language – newspeak – in technocratic oligarchies.
A ‘reset’ textually refers to going back to something once known, erasing defects or contradictions which arose along the way, which carries with it the familiar, and something we had previously all agreed to. A ‘reset’ by definition means going back to how things were before – not just recently, but before at some point farther back. Its definition is literally contrary to how Boris Johnson means it in his shocking public statement at the start of October.
The term ‘reset’ was therefore arrived with extraordinary planning and thoughtfulness, with the intent to persuade [manipulate] the public. It simultaneously straddles two unique concepts, and bundles them together at once into a single term in a manner that reduces nuance and complexity and therefore also reduces thinking. It does so while appealing to the implicit notion of the term that it relates to a past consensus agreement.
If understood as we are told to understand it, we must hold two mutually contradictory notions at the same time – we are incongruously told that this reset must effectively restore society to how it was at some point before because things can never be how they were at any time before. Only within the paradigm of this vicious newspeak could anything ever have the public thinking that such a textual construction makes any bit of sense.
What are Our Real Options? Whose Reset?
Those who understand that this ‘reset’ is not a reset but rather a whole new proposal on the entire organization of society, but being done through oligarchical methods and without the sort of mandate required in a society governed by laws and not men, are – as we have said – reluctant to admit that a great change is indeed necessary.
Rather, we must understand that the underlying catastrophic economic mechanisms which are forcing this great change exist independently of the coronavirus, and exist independently of the particular changes which the oligarchs promoting their version of a ‘reset’ (read: new proposals) would like to see.
You see, the people and the oligarchs are locked into a single system together. In the long-term, it seems as if the oligarchs are looking for solutions to change that fact, and effect a final solution that grants them an entirely break-away civilization. But at this moment, that is not the case. Yet this system cannot carry forward as it has been, and the Coronavirus presents a reason at once both mysterious in its timing and also profound in its implications, to push forward a new proposal.
We believe that technology is quickly arriving at a point where the vast majority of human beings will be considered redundant. If the technocracy wants to create a walled civilization, and leave the rest of humanity to manage their own lives along some agrarian, mediaeval mode of production, there may indeed be benefits to those who live along agrarian lines. But based in what we know about psychopathy, and the tendency of that among those who govern, such an amicable solution is likely not in the cards.
That is why the anti-lockdown protests are so critically important to endorse. This is precisely because the lockdown measures are used to ban mass public demonstrations, a critical part of pushing public policy in the direction of the interests of the general public. A whole part of the left has been compromised, and rolled out to fight imaginary fascists, by which they mean anyone with conventional social views which predate May of 1968. All the while the actual plutocrats unleash a new system of oligarchical control which, for most, has not been hitherto contemplated except by relatively obscure political scientists, futurists, and science fiction authors.
Certainly the consumerist economic system (sometimes called ‘capitalism’ by the left), which is based in both globalized supply chains but also planned obsolescence, is no longer feasible. In truth, this relied upon a third-world to be a source of both raw materials and cheaper labor. The plus here is that this ‘developing world’ has largely now developed. But that means they will be needing their own raw materials, and their own middle-classes have driven up their own cost of labor. Globalization was based in some world before development, where the real dynamic is best explained as imperialism, and so it makes sense that this system is a relic of the past, and indeed ought to be.
It increasingly appears that the ‘Coronavirus pandemic’, was secondary to the foregone economic crisis which we were told accompanied it. Rather, it seems that the former came into being to explain-away the latter.
Another world is possible, but it is one which citizens fight for. In the U.S., England, Scotland, Ireland, and Germany, there have already been rather large anti-lockdown demonstrations. These, as we have explained, are not just against lockdown but are positively pushing to assert the right to public and political association, to public and political speech, and the redressing of grievances. This is a fundamental right for citizens in any republic where there is any sort of check on the oligarchy.
We have written on the kind of world that is possible, in our piece from April 2020 titled: “Coronavirus Shutdown: The End of Globalization and Planned Obsolescence – Enter Multipolarity”. That lays out what is possible, and what the problems of pre-corona system were, in economic terms more than political. Here we discuss the problems of globalization-based supply chain security in a multipolar world, and the larger problem of planned obsolescence, especially in light of 3D printing, automation, and the internet of things.
We posed the philosophical question as to whether it is justified to have a goods-production system based upon both the guaranteed re-sale of the same type of goods due to planned obsolescence and the ‘work guarantees’ that came with it. In short, do we live to work or to we work to live? And with the 4th industrial revolution looming, we posed the question of what will happen after human workers are no longer required.
Pluralist society is the compromise outcome of a ceasefire in the class war between the oligarchy and the various other classes that compromise the people, at large. Largely idealized and romantic ideas that form the basis of the liberal-democratic ideology (as well as classical fascism) are used to explain how it is the oligarchy that is so very committed to that arrangement of pluralism, and that this very arrangement is the product of their benevolence, and not the truth: that it was the fight put up by common people to fight for a more just future. No doubt there have been benevolent oligarchs who really believed in the liberal ideology, of which fascism is one of its more radical products. But the view that the class struggle can be acculturated or legislated into non-existence is similar to believing that the law of gravity can be ruled unlawful in a court.
Perhaps we have forgotten what it takes, and perhaps things just have not gotten bad enough. Decreases in testosterone levels in the population may be leading to a dangerous moment where vigorous defiance to injustice is much less possible. Critical now is to avoid any artificial means to opiate ourselves into thinking things are better than they are, whether by way of anti-depressants or other self-medication. Only with a clear assessment of the real situation on the ground can we forge the necessary strategy.
The great political crisis now is that a pandemic is being used to justify an end-run around constitutional rights, an end-run around pluralist society, and so the vehicle – the mechanism – that the general public might use to fight for their version of a ‘reset’ is on the verge of disappearing.
In many ways this means that now is the final moment. We ask – whose great reset, ours or theirs?
In a solid new article titled “Facebook and Twitter Cross a Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor” on the cross-platform silencing of The New York Post’s publication of Hunter Biden’s emails, The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald writes the following:
That is always how it will work: it is exclusively the voices on the fringes and the margins, the dissidents, those who reside outside of the factions of power who will be subjected to this silencing. Mainstream political and media voices, and the U.S. Government and its allies, will be fully free to spread conspiracy theories and disinformation without ever being subjected to these illusory “rules.”
Censorship power, like the tech giants who now wield it, is an instrument of status quo preservation. The promise of the internet from the start was that it would be a tool of liberation, of egalitarianism, by permitting those without money and power to compete on fair terms in the information war with the most powerful governments and corporations.
But just as is true of allowing the internet to be converted into a tool of coercion and mass surveillance, nothing guts that promise, that potential, like empowering corporate overloads and unaccountable monopolists to regulate and suppress what can be heard.
Facebook and Twitter Cross a Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censorhttps://t.co/CR3wDPsCvs
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 15, 2020
Greenwald is correct. The increasingly iron-fisted internet censorship we’ve seen rolled out over the last four years has consistently targeted groups that are oppositional to the status quo with which monopolistic Silicon Valley megacorporations like Twitter, Facebook and Google have aligned themselves.
Monopolistic corporations, historically, do everything they can to maintain their power. Once you’ve reached a certain level of power and influence, this means agreeing to collaborate with existing power structures, like when Google, Facebook and Twitter were called before the Senate Judiciary Committee and instructed to come up with a strategy “to prevent the fomenting of discord”.
“We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America,” the social media giants were told by think tanker and former FBI agent Clint Watts, who added, “Stopping the false information artillery barrage landing on social media users comes only when those outlets distributing bogus stories are silenced — silence the guns and the barrage will end.”
Friendly reminder that last year representatives of Google/Youtube, Facebook and Twitter were instructed on the floor of the US Senate that it is their responsibility to “quell information rebellions” so as to “prevent the fomenting of discord.”https://t.co/X4Hc56fH0k
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) August 6, 2018
Obviously a violent uprising is something that any sane person would hope to avoid, but when you’re talking about “information rebellions” with vague terms like “discord” and “division” you’re not limiting yourself to the prevention of violence. You’re talking about controlling the flow of information to prevent people from using the power of their numbers to collectively take direct action against the ruling power establishment in any way.
As Greenwald noted, the internet was initially hailed as a tool of the people for democratizing the flow of information instead of allowing that flow to be controlled entirely by the media-owning class, and for the moment it is still far more democratic than it was back before the public had any access to media platforms of their own. People with an ear to the ground understood the potential political ramifications of a new paradigm in which ordinary people can circulate ideas and information without the permission of the establishment political/media class.
The problem came in when the corporations which were elevated to the top of this new paradigm began collaborating more and more brazenly with ruling power structures, to the point where they’re now just openly working with US government agencies to determine what information to censor. They have every incentive to do this as talk of antitrust cases and reinterpreting Section 230 heats up; they know the odds of their monopolies being torn apart go down the more favorable they make themselves to the government powers that would enforce them.
This is a major, major problem for humanity as a species, because we will never be able to make real changes to the systemic problems which are driving us toward disaster as long as establishment power is controlling our ability to interact with each other.
To Those Cheering on Censorship: pic.twitter.com/9bt0t2chE3
— Richard Medhurst (@richimedhurst) October 16, 2020
Establishment power will keep advancing its own interests at all cost, even if it means pushing us into nuclear war or climate collapse. The only way to end their destructive rule is for a critical mass of the public to rise up and use the power of their numbers to force real change. People will not rise up and use the power of their numbers to force real change as long as they are being successfully propagandized not to by the ruling power establishment. People will continue to be successfully propagandized as long as a critical mass are prevented from viewing ideas and information which contradict establishment-friendly narratives.
It really is that simple. If internet censorship of dissident voices continues to tighten, it will lose any potential to exist as a tool of the people which can be used to advance real change, and will instead exist only as a tool for the powerful which enables them to dispense propaganda narratives at a much faster rate than they previously could. With the added bonus of sweeping surveillance powers.
The establishment pushes censorship for the same reason cult leaders and abusive partners work to isolate their victims: they don’t want people sharing ideas and information with each other about their abuser, because that can lead to their victims escaping from the abuse. We will never escape from the abuse as long as we are successfully prevented from sharing ideas and information with each other about our abusers to awaken a critical mass.
Remember Alex Jones? Big Texan, voice like a fleet of helicopters, talked about Satan a lot? How often do you notice him these days? I used to see his face around all the time, but ever since his coordinated deplatforming across multiple online platforms I often forget he even exists. I have no idea what he’s even up to these days; he could be a hemp-wearing hippie now for all I know.
Maybe you’re happy to not see Jones himself around anymore, but think about what kind of power these monopolistic platforms have for a second. They can completely disappear someone from public attention at a whim. That’s how thoroughly they’ve come to dominate political discourse, and that’s just too powerful a weapon for a small group of oligarchs to wield.
“If you don’t like power companies burning coal, go make your own grid.” https://t.co/jxoqJBVO3G
— Alice 🪓 (@AliceFromQueens) October 15, 2020
It’s hard to know what to do about this problem. The common argument that is often made sincerely by libertarians and insincerely by liberals is that monopolistic social media platforms which censor speech can be fought by free market competition — that developers can just start new platforms which people will flock to as safe havens from authoritarian regulations. This is a path fraught with obstacles, as Ars Technica explained following a House Judiciary Subcommittee antitrust investigation, because these giant platforms have been actively making competition next to impossible.
Of course people are free to start more fringe alternative social media platforms that won’t be censored. They’re free to dig a hole in the ground and yell into it without censorship, too. In both cases, nobody will hear them; a critical mass of people will never be reached with healthy new ideas and unauthorized information. In order to be allowed to grow to a size where a critical mass could be influenced, they’d be forced to collaborate with existing power structures and implement censorship in the same way Facebook, Twitter and Google are doing.
Moreover, there’s nothing the establishment narrative managers would like better than for dissident voices to quarantine themselves onto obscure fringe platforms where they can’t infect the mainstream herd with wrongthink. A mass exodus of all dissident voices from all mainstream platforms wouldn’t cause problems for the establishment, it would solve problems for the establishment.
So I don’t see competition resolving this problem any time soon. I think it’s going to have to be faced directly, in the same way all the other arms of establishment oppression must be faced directly. I think we need to stand as close to the mainstream spotlight as we can, draw as much attention as possible to the dangers of internet censorship by monopolistic oligarchs, and hopefully drum up some support for legal action against these corporations which benefits ordinary human beings.
Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix. Our goal is to attempt to add context, and now we have capabilities to do that. https://t.co/ZLUw3YD887
— jack (@jack) October 16, 2020
Basic public pressure helps too. Twitter has announced a rollback of its decision on the New York Post article, opting to attach a disinfo disclaimer instead of blocking to URL. This is still a paternalistic authoritarian intervention into information sharing, but it does show that censorship decisions can be swayed by public outcry. The establishment can only advance ugly policies if people aren’t shining a big bright light on what they’re doing and calling lots of attention to it; they risk losing the ability to manufacture consent if they are too brazenly forceful in their authoritarianism.
Like the rest of our struggle, we’ll either win this battle or we won’t. But we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure humanity comes out on top, because there are very dark days ahead of us if we fail. There are some battles which we can afford to lose because the cost outweighs the benefit and it won’t affect the outcome of the war, but this is not one of those battles.
Apparently, according to UN researchers our world is going to become “an uninhabitable hell for millions of people” due to big names in business and politics not taking action to stop Climate Change. The fact that the UN expects massive numbers of individuals to voluntarily act against their best interests means they are either completely disingenuous about their climate change hysteria or so vastly naive about the way human beings function that the organization needs to be disbanded forthwith. So, since the global government just told us yet again that we are going to die one would think they should have some good answers for the “crisis”… and yet they don’t. So let’s try to find some actually viable solutions while breaking down the weakness of the UN’s current offers.
In advance, it is important to note that the climate “debate” has been fought by journalists, pundits and “concerned” celebrities, who all claim to have science and scientists on their side. If there is a clear truth of what faces us it has been lost in the tweets years ago. So for this strategy session, for the sake of argument, we will assume that climate change is 100% true just as it appears in Greta Thunberg’s nightmares. This is not because it is actually real (or fake) but because the UN considers it to be Gospel and their actions should reflect that belief.
How could taxation possibly solve this problem?
Besides begging and guilt tripping people of importance into voluntary action, one big push by the UN to solve the climate problem is through carbon taxes. To a simpleton living a sheltered existence this makes perfect sense – penalty fees are a deterrent that makes them not park their car illegally, so it will surely make the Chinese go green closing down their factories with no blowback for minimum wage America. It is so deeply naive to believe that taxation will save the environment that it is hard to put into words just how mental the idea is.
So assuming that we can actually measure cubic meters of carbon emissions accurately and get industrial nations to pay their carbon taxes, just how exactly does this reduce demand? Alcohol is taxed in many European countries. Perhaps due to the price some people drink less than they normally would, but taxing alcohol hasn’t killed demand for it, meaning it is still produced in big volumes taxed or untaxed. Applying a carbon tax to a nation will not make demand go down, just prices rise to compensate i.e. they will still be polluting at the same level. The only difference is that the citizens of that country and those who buy their exports will be forced to pay a percentage to a massive international bureaucracy that will somehow save the environment with the cash. The world economy has a roughly 80 trillion dollar estimated value, even if used efficiently what can UN programs paid for by a few billion in carbon taxes actually do to stop the pollutive juggernaut?
Image: Globalization and big box stores are not the problems but a lack of taxation on them according to the UN.
Furthermore, setting the precedent for international taxation is not a particularly great option (especially in the questionable hands of the World Bank) considering how much of tax money is squandered, stolen or misused on a national level, with politicians seeming to always need more. Soulless technocrats dream up soulless technocratic solutions, let’s keep “tax and spend” schemes out of “global government”.
Why is personal (national) responsibility never an option?
As an organization that functions as a worldwide overseer of sorts, logically, the UN cannot simply say “deal with your problems on your own”. This would undermine the justification for their existence, but it certainly would work better than a constant vague stream of doomsaying that rebrands itself every 10 years or so.
The UN believes there will be massive food and water shortages that will lead to a migrant crisis by 2050. This is interesting verbiage as it puts the destiny of the potentially starving people in the hands of the West as a “migrant crisis”. One would think that the UN could come up with some custom plans of action for certain poorer countries to adapt before it is too late, but that would be giving the Global South agency which is a big Liberal “no-no”. The West will always see Brown and Black people as irresponsible children that need Western Parent #1 to look over them.
Why is the nuclear option never on the table?
Yes, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were scary events but nuclear power can meet all of our energy needs. If you really want our air to be from coal and fossil fuels and yet live a comfortable high-tech life you will have to grow up, understand that wind and solar will always play a supplemental role and order an atomic reactor from the Russians.
There is an irrational hippy fear of nuclear power along with an emotional approach to the realities of energy that have put this type of energy in the rear view mirror when it should still be on the horizon. Accepting the risk of a possible once-in-a-generation Fukushima for thousands of years of glutinous electricity usage that does not pollute the air is worth it.
Perhaps the real problem the UN has with nuclear power is that uppity nations like North Korea and Iran can use it for non-energy related purposes.
Why is the “new normal” not taken into consideration as a plan for the future?
It is uncertain what the future will look like but the Covid-19 Pandemic has opened our eyes to the fact that going to work at an office like it is 1950 is pointless and wasteful and that delivery services are killing the need for big box stores.
The UN cannot kill the human desire to have nice things, but we can have nice things ordered online and delivered to us vastly reducing how much global energy is put into transport. In the pre-internet world, trucks brought things to a big store, people drove to the store and drove back home. Now a truck can drive directly to many consumers on one tank of gas thanks to the power of modern computing and organization of deliveries.
It remains to be seen if animals/nature are really benefiting as much from the pandemic as advertised, but fossil fuel consumption is down and working from home has gone mainstream. The “new normal” is part of the UN lexicon but it doesn’t seem to be seen as an alternative to carbon taxes.
Why are property rights never part of environmentalism?
One major downside to Globalism is highlighted by the “peached meme” that shows how peaches were grown in Argentina, packed in Thailand and sold for consumption in America. For those who may not know, peaches can and do grow very well in the U.S. further underscoring this madness.
But then again if an average does try to do some gardening or raise chickens on their own land they face the real chance of being arrested. The UN should really push for people to have the right to at least garden if not raise livestock. Subsistence/supplemental level farming creates far less pollution per square foot and reduces demand to have modified potatoes shipped in from distant lands.
The more people make locally the less needs to be shipped in. The UN should stand firm on the idea that we have the right to farm or produce things on our own territory, which we cannot completely trash because we have to live there. The European villages of old may have been a bit messy but they were certainly better for us and the planet than the Walmart lifestyle.
So if we are really going to die, then…
Well the UN is sure we are going to live in a nightmare by 2050 and yet the general consensus on how to “save the planet” starts with carbon taxes and ends with depopulation. Both of which are horribly naive pessimistic non-answers, when there is so much that could be done. It almost seems like environmental issues are being used as an excuse to push for certain policies that would otherwise never see the light of day.
“The U.S. has established itself as the mortal enemy of all people’s government, all scientific-socialist mobilization of consciousness everywhere on the globe, all anti-imperialist activity on earth.”
– George Jackson
One of the founding myths of the contemporary Western European and American world is that fascism was defeated in WWII by liberal democracies, and particularly by the United States. With the subsequent Nuremburg trials and the patient construction of a liberal world order, a bulwark was erected—in fits and starts, and with the constant threat of regression—against fascism and its evil twin in the East. American culture industries have rehearsed this narrative ad nauseum, brewing it into a saccharine ideological Kool-Aid and piping it into every household, shack and street corner with a TV or smartphone, tirelessly juxtaposing the supreme evil of Nazism to the freedom and prosperity of liberal democracy.
The material record suggests, however, that this narrative is actually based on a false antagonism, and that a paradigm shift is necessary in order to understand the history of actually existing liberalism and fascism. The latter, as we shall see, far from being eradicated at the end of WWII, was actually repurposed, or rather redeployed, to serve its primary historical function: to destroy godless communism and its threat to the capitalist civilizing mission. Since the colonial projects of Hitler and Mussolini had become so brazen and erratic, as they shifted from playing more or less by the liberal rules of the game to openly breaking them and then running amok, it was understood that the best way to construct the fascist international was to do so under liberal cover, meaning through clandestine operations that maintained a liberal façade. While this probably sounds like hyperbole to those whose understanding of history has been formatted by bourgeois social science, which focuses almost exclusively on visible government and the aforementioned liberal cover, the history of the invisible government of the national security apparatus suggests that fascism, far from being defeated in WWII, was successfully internationalized.
The Architects of the Fascist International
When the United States entered WWII, the future head of the CIA, Allen Dulles, bemoaned that his country was fighting the wrong enemy. The Nazis, as he explained, were pro-capitalist Aryan Christians, whereas the true enemy was godless communism and its resolute anti-capitalism. After all, the U.S. had, only some 20 years prior, been part of a massive military intervention in the U.S.S.R., when fourteen capitalist countries sought—in the words of Winston Churchill—to “strangle the Bolshevik baby in its crib.” Dulles understood, like many of his colleagues in the U.S. government, that what would later become known as the Cold War was actually the old war, as Michael Parenti has convincingly argued: the one they had been fighting against communism since its inception.
Towards the end of WWII, General Karl Wolff, formerly Himmler’s right-hand man, went to see Allen Dulles in Zurich, where he was working for the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor organization to the CIA. Wolff knew that the war was lost, and he wanted to avoid being brought to justice. Dulles, for his part, wanted the Nazis in Italy under Wolff’s command to lay down their arms against the allies and help the Americans in their fight against communism. Wolff, who was the highest-ranking SS officer to survive the war, offered Dulles the promise of developing, with his Nazi team, an intelligence network against Stalin. It was agreed that the general who had played a central role in overseeing the Nazi’s genocidal machine, and who expressed his “special joy” when he secured freight trains to send 5,000 Jews a day to Treblinka, would be protected by the future director of the CIA, who helped him avoid the Nuremberg trials.
Wolff was very far from being the only senior Nazi official protected and rehabilitated by the OSS-CIA. The case of Reinhard Gehlen is particularly telling. This general in the Third Reich had been in charge of Fremde Heere Ost, the Nazi intelligence service directed against the Soviets. After the war, he was recruited by the OSS-CIA and met with all of the major architects of the postwar National Security State: Allen Dulles, William Donovan, Frank Wisner, President Truman. He was then appointed to head the first German intelligence service after the war, and he proceeded to employ many of his Nazi collaborators. The Gehlen Organization, as it was known, would become the nucleus of the German intelligence service. It is unclear how many war criminals this decorated Nazi hired, but Eric Lichtblau estimates that some four thousand Nazi agents were integrated into the network overseen by the American spy agency. With an annual funding of half a million dollars from the CIA in the early years after the war, Gehlen and his strong men were able to act with impunity. Yvonnick Denoël explained this turnaround with remarkable clarity: “It is hard to understand that, as early as 1945, the army and the US intelligence services recruited without qualms former Nazi criminals. The equation was, however, very simple at the time: the United States had just defeated the Nazis with the help of the Soviets. They henceforth planned to defeat the Soviets with the help of former Nazis.”
The situation was similar in Italy because Dulles’ agreement with Wolff was part of a larger undertaking, called Operation Sunrise, which mobilized Nazis and fascists to end the Second World War in Italy (and begin the Third World War across the globe). Dulles worked hand in hand with the Agency’s future chief counterintelligence officer, James Angleton, who was then stationed by the OSS in Italy. These two men, who would become two of the most powerful political actors of the twentieth century, showed what they were capable of in this close collaboration between the American intelligence services, the Nazis and the fascists. Angleton, on his end, recruited fascists to end the war in Italy so as to minimize the power of the communists. Valerio Borghese was one of his key contacts because this hardline fascist in Mussolini’s regime was ready to serve the Americans in the anti-communist struggle, and he became one of the international figureheads for postwar fascism. Angleton had directly saved him from the hands of the communists, and the man known as the Black Prince was given the opportunity to continue the war against the radical Left under a new boss: the CIA.
Once the war was over, Senior U.S. intelligence officials, including Dulles, Wisner and Carmel Offie, “worked to ensure that denazification only had a limited scope,” according to Frédéric Charpier: “Generals, senior officials, policemen, industrialists, lawyers, economists, diplomats, scholars and real war criminals were spared and put back in their positions.” The man in charge of the Marshall Plan in Germany, for instance, was a former adviser to Hermann Göring, the commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe (air force). Dulles drafted a list of high functionaries of the Nazi state to be protected and passed off as opponents to Hitler. The OSS-CIA proceeded to rebuild the administrative states in Germany and Italy with their anti-communist allies.
Eric Lichtblau estimates that more than 10,000 Nazis were able to immigrate to the United States in the post-war period (at least 700 official members of the Nazi party had been allowed into the U.S. in the 1930s, while Jewish refugees were being turned away). In addition to a few hundred German spies and thousands of SS personnel, Operation Paperclip, which began in May 1945, brought at least 1,600 Nazi scientists to the U.S. with their families. This undertaking was aimed at recovering the great minds of the Nazi war machine and putting their research on rockets, aviation, biological and chemical weapons, and so forth, in the service of the American empire. The Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency was set up specifically to recruit Nazis and find them positions in research centers, the government, the army, the intelligence services or universities (at least 14 universities participated, including Cornell, Yale and MIT).
Although the program officially excluded ardent Nazis, at least at the beginning, in actual fact it allowed for the immigration of chemists from IG Farben (which had supplied the deadly gases used in mass exterminations), scientists who had used slaves in concentration camps to make weapons, and doctors who had participated in hideous experiments on Jews, Roma, communists, homosexuals and other prisoners of war. These scientists, who were described by an official in the State Department opposed to Paperclip as “Hitler’s angels of death,” were received with open arms in the land of the free. They were given comfortable accommodations, a laboratory with assistants and the promise of citizenship if their work bore fruit. They went on to conduct research that has been used in the manufacturing of ballistic missiles, sarin gas cluster bombs, and the weaponization of the bubonic plague.
The CIA also collaborated with MI6 to set up secret anti-communist armies in every country in Western Europe. On the pretext of a potential invasion by the Red Army, the idea was to train and equip networks of illegal stay-behind soldiers, who would remain behind enemy lines if the Russians moved westward. They would thus be activated in the newly occupied territory and charged with missions of exfiltration, espionage, sabotage, propaganda, subversion and combat. The two agencies worked with NATO and the intelligence services of many Western European countries to build this vast sub-rosa organization, establish numerous weapons and ammunition caches, and equip their soldiers of the shadows with everything they needed. To do this, they recruited Nazis, fascists, collaborationists and other anti-communist members of the extreme Right. The numbers vary according to the country, but they are estimated between a few dozen and several hundred, or even a few thousand, per country. According to a report from the television program Retour aux sources, there were 50 stay-behind network units in Norway, 150 in Germany, more than 600 in Italy and 3,000 in France.
These trained militants would later be mobilized to commit or coordinate terrorist attacks against the civilian population, which were then blamed on the communists in order to justify ‘law and order’ crackdowns. According to the official numbers in Italy, where this strategy of tension was particularly intense, there were 14,591 politically motivated acts of violence between 1969 and 1987, which killed 491 people and injured 1,181. Vincenzo Vinciguerra, a member of the far-right group Ordine Nuovo and the perpetrator of the bombing near Peteano in 1972, explained that the fascist “Avanguardia Nazionale, like Ordine Nuovo, were being mobilized into the battle as part of an anti-Communist strategy originating not with organizations deviant from the institutions of power, but from the state itself, and specifically from within the ambit of the state’s relations within the Atlantic Alliance.” An Italian parliamentary commission that undertook an investigation of the stay-behind armies in Italy, reached the following conclusion in 2000: “Those massacres, those bombs, those military actions had been organized or promoted or supported by men inside Italian state institutions and, as has been discovered more recently, by men linked to the structures of United States intelligence.”
The U.S. National Security State was also involved in overseeing ratlines that exfiltrated fascists from Europe and allowed them to resettle in safe havens around the world, in exchange for doing its dirty work. The case of Klaus Barbie is but one among thousands, but it speaks volumes regarding the internal functioning of this process. Known in France as ‘the butcher of Lyon,’ he was head of the Gestapo office there for two years, including the time when Himmler gave the order to deport at least 22,000 Jews from France. This specialist in ‘enhanced interrogation tactics,’ known for torturing to death the coordinator of the French Resistance, Jean Moulin, organized the first roundup of the General Union of Jews in France in February 1943 and the massacre of 41 Jewish refugee children in Izieu in April 1944. Before arriving in Lyon, he had led savage death squads, which had killed more than a million people on the Eastern Front according to Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. But after the war, the man whom these same authors describe as third on the most-wanted list of SS criminals was working for the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) of the U.S. Army. He was hired to help build the stay-behind armies by recruiting other Nazis, and to spy on French intelligence services in the French and American controlled regions in Germany.
When France learned what was happening and demanded Barbie’s extradition, John McCloy, the U.S. High Commissioner of Germany, refused by claiming that the allegations were based on hearsay. Nevertheless, it ultimately proved too expensive, symbolically, to keep a butcher like Barbie in Europe, so he was sent to Latin America in 1951, where he was able to continue his illustrious career. Settling in Bolivia, he worked for the security forces of the military dictatorship of General René Barrientos and for the Ministry of the Interior and the counter-insurgency wing of the Bolivian Army under the dictatorship of Hugo Banzer, before actively participating in the Cocaine Coup in 1980 and becoming the director of security forces under General Meza. Throughout his career, he maintained close relationships with his saviors in the U.S. National Security State, playing a central role in Operation Condor, the counter-insurgency project that brought together Latin American dictatorships, with the support of the United States, to violently crush any attempt at egalitarian uprisings from below. He also helped develop the drug empire in Bolivia, including organizing gangs of narco-mercenaries whom he named Los novios de la muerte, whose uniforms resembled those of the SS. He traveled freely in the 1960s and 1970s, visiting the U.S. at least seven times, and he most likely played a role in the manhunt organized by the Agency to kill Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
The same basic pattern of integrating fascists into the global war against communism is readily identifiable in Japan, whose system of government prior to and during the war has been described by Herbert P. Bix as “Emperor-system fascism.” Tessa Morris-Suzuki has convincingly demonstrated the continuity of intelligence services by detailing how the U.S. National Security State oversaw and managed the KATO organization. This private intelligence network, very much like the Gehlen organization, was stocked with former leading members of the military and intelligence services, including the Imperial Army’s Chief of Intelligence (Arisue Seizō), who shared with his American handler (Charles Willoughby) a deep admiration for Mussolini. The U.S. occupation forces also cultivated tight relationships with senior officials in Japan’s wartime civilian intelligence community (most notably Ogata Taketora). This remarkable continuity between prewar and postwar Japan has led Morris-Suzuki and other scholars to map Japanese history in terms of a transwar regime, meaning one that continued from before to after the war. This concept also allows us to make sense of what was happening above ground in the realm of the visible government. For the sake of concision, suffice it to cite the remarkable case of the man known as the “Devil of Shōwa” for his brutal rule of Manchukuo (the Japanese colony in Northeast China): Nobusuke Kishi. A great admirer of Nazi Germany, Kishi was appointed Minister of Munitions by Prime Minister Hideki Tojo in 1941, in order to prepare Japan for a total war against the U.S., and he was the one who signed the official declaration of war against America. After serving a brief prison term as a war criminal in the postwar era, he was rehabilitated by the CIA, along with his cell mate, the kingpin of organized crime Yoshio Kodama. Kishi, with the support and generous financial backing of his handlers, took over the Liberal Party, made it into a rightwing club of former leaders of imperial Japan, and rose to become Prime Minister. “The [CIA] money flowed for at least fifteen years, under four American presidents,” writes Tim Wiener, “and it helped consolidate one-party rule in Japan for the rest of the cold war.”
U.S. national security services have also established a global educational network to train pro-capitalist combatants—sometimes under the leadership of experienced Nazis and fascists—in the tried-and-true techniques of repression, torture and destabilization, as well as propaganda and psychological warfare. The famous School of the Americas was established in 1946 with the explicit goal of training a new generation of anti-communist warriors worldwide. According to some, this school has the distinction of having educated the greatest number of dictators in world history. Whatever the case may be, it is part of a much larger institutional network. It is worth mentioning, for example, the educational contributions of the Public Safety Program: “For about twenty-five years,” writes former CIA officer John Stockwell, “the CIA, […] trained and organized police and paramilitary officers from around the world in techniques of population control, repression, and torture. Schools were set up in the United States, Panama, and Asia, from which tens of thousands graduated. In some cases, former Nazi officers from Hitler’s Third Reich were used as instructors.”
Fascism Goes Global under Liberal Cover
The American imperium has thus played a central role in the construction of a fascist international by protecting right-wing militants and enlisting them in the Third World War against ‘communism,’ an elastic label extended to any political orientation that entered into conflict with the interests of the capitalist ruling class. This international expansion of fascist modes of governance has led to a proliferation of concentration camps, terrorist and torture campaigns, dirty wars, dictatorial regimes, vigilante groups and organized crime networks around the world. The examples could be enumerated ad nauseum, but I will curtail them in the interests of space and simply invoke the testimony of Victor Marchetti, who was a senior CIA official from 1955 to 1969: “We were supporting every half-assed dictator, military junta, oligarchy that existed in the Third World, as long as they promised to somehow maintain the status quo, which would of course be beneficial to U.S. geopolitical interests, military interests, big business interests, and other special interests.”
The record of U.S. foreign policy since WWII is probably the best measure of its unique contribution to the internationalization of fascism. Under the banner of democracy and freedom, the United States has, according to William Blum:
+ Endeavored to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments.
+ Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
+ Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
+ Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
+ Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
The Association for Responsible Dissent, composed of 14 former CIA officers, calculated that their agency was responsible for killing a minimum of 6 million people in 3,000 major operations and 10,000 minor operations between 1947 and 1987. These are direct murders, so the numbers do not account for premature deaths under the fascist-backed capitalist world system due to mass incarceration, torture, malnutrition, lack of drinkable water, exploitation, oppression, social degradation, ecological illness or curable disease (in 2017, according to the U.N., 6.3 million children and young adolescents died from avoidable causes linked to the socio-economic and ecological inequalities of the Capitalocene, which amounts to one child dying every 5 seconds).
To establish itself as the global military hegemon and international guard dog of capitalism, the U.S. government and National Security State have relied on the help of the significant number of Nazis and fascists it integrated into its global network of repression, including the 1,600 Nazis brought into the U.S. through Operation Paperclip, the 4,000 or so integrated into the Gehlen organization, the tens or even hundreds of thousands that were reintegrated into the ‘postwar’—or rather transwar—regimes in fascist countries, the large number who were given free passage to Empire’s backyard—Latin America—and elsewhere, as well as the thousands or tens of thousands integrated into NATO’s secret stay-behind armies. This global network of seasoned anti-communist assassins has also been used to train armies of terrorists around the world to participate in dirty wars, coups d’état, destabilization efforts, sabotage, and terror campaigns.
All of this has been done under the cover of a liberal democracy, and with the assistance of its powerful culture industries. The true legacy of WWII, far from being that of a liberal world order that had defeated fascism, is that of a veritable fascist international developed under liberal cover in order to try and destroy those who had actually fought and won the war against fascism: the communists.
The main ideological conflict in the world used to be between capitalism versus communism. After the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, that became replaced by the ideological conflict being between imperialism and anti-imperialism. With the expansion of America’s NATO military alliance against Russia, after 1991 — after the communist dictatorship there had ended — to include as new members all of the Soviet Union’s former Warsaw Pact allies in Europe, and with America’s aim now being to bring into NATO the former Soviet allies to the south of Russia, such as Azerbaijan and Georgia, American imperialism is viewed in Russia increasingly as an existential threat, which it certainly is.
The basic difference between the U.S. Government and its allies, on the one hand, and between Russia and China and their allies, on the other, is the same difference in either case: whereas the U.S. and its allies require other Governments to follow their instructions, and consider their own instructions to be moral demands (and thereby binding, actually commands instead of mere suggestions), Russia and China and their allies reject — on principle — any country’s dictating to another. They don’t consider it to be moral, at all, but instead profoundly immoral — they consider it to be imperialistic, dictatorial, bullying, hostile toward international democracy — and they simply won’t accept it; they reject it morally, outright. Iran, too, feels that way about the matter. So, too, do many other countries. That’s the basic difference: the imperialists versus the anti-imperialists.
In other words: the U.S. and its allies consider imperialism — the supposed right of a nation to command another nation — to be something that should be within the bounds of, and accepted by, international law. The U.S. Empire doesn’t call itself an “Empire,” but it is one, and its empire is therefore called instead “the Washington Consensus”, which is a “consensus” in hostility against whatever countries the U.S. Government wants to become regime-changed — to turn into an American colony. The “Washington Consensus” is actually an imposed ‘consensus’. It is a consensus against nations that disobey that ‘consensus’.
The very concept of the “Washington Consensus” was created in 1989 when Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the communist Soviet Union, was unwilling to apply the amount of force that might hold the Soviet Union together, and the anti-communist Revolutions of 1989 in the Soviet Union and in China made clear that communism was about to end in at least the Soviet sphere, and that consequently the American rationale for the Cold War — anti-communism — would soon end. So, America, having perpetrated many ‘anti-communist’ (but actually anti-independence, and in some cases even boldly anti-democracy) coups in Thailand 1948, Syria 1949, Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Chile 1973, and many other lands, needed a changed ideological excuse, in order to continue building-out its Empire (not yet called “the Washington Consensus”); so, the “Washington Consensus” became, itself, the new excuse. This ‘consensus’ of the U.S. and its allies consists in the imposition of “libertarian” or “neo-liberal” economic policies, as being an international obligation for countries in the “developing world” to accept and apply (often called “austerity,” because it is austerity for the masses of that underdeveloped country’s citizens, so that foreign investors can reap the profits from it). This ‘consensus’ became the new ideological excuse to extend the American Empire. However, as the appeal of “neo-liberalism” began to wane (as a result of its increasingly bad international reputation), a new excuse was increasingly needed. “R2P,” or “Responsibility to Protect” the residents in other lands, became introduced, especially after around the year 2000, as the new, ‘humanitarian’, excuse for America and its vassal nations (‘allies’) to apply sanctions against, and even to invade and occupy, countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Venezuela — countries that, ‘just by coincidence’, happened to reject the Washington Consensus. This new excuse for America’s spending approximately half of the entire world’s annual military costs was more clearly putting forward the Washington Consensus as constituting the ‘real’ United Nations — the one that had a military force (and that didn’t have Russia, China, or any other recalcitrant nation, on any “Security Council”). The U.S. regime champions R2P as being a ‘humanitarian’ motivation behind such sanctions, coups, and invasions, for ‘regime-change’ against recalcitrant countries, such as Iraq, Syria, and Venezuela. The American anti-‘communist’ organization, Human Rights Watch, and the British anti-‘communist’ organization Amnesty International, now became especially prominent, as public endorsers of R2P. Often, however, subversion by the U.S. succeeded at conquest, without there even being any need to apply sanctions (or worse). R2P isn’t necessary for those types of operations — subversion. An example is Brazil, in regard to the ending of any functional democracy in Brazil and the imprisonment of the popular democratically elected President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (“Lula”) and replacement of him by a far-right regime. The U.S. regime, prominently including Joe Biden, did it, so as to extract from Brazil’s poor the money to pay to foreign investors to buy and strip that nation, in accord with the dictates of the IMF and the rest of the Washington ‘consensus’. By the time of 19 July 2017, the U.S. Justice Department publicly admitted “It is hard to imagine a better cooperative relationship in recent history than that of the United States Department of Justice and the Brazilian prosecutors” who had rigged the ‘evidence’ that got President Lula thrown into prison. A remarkable article at Brazil Wire — which has been copied many times to the web archives — “Hidden History: The U.S. ‘War On Corruption’ In Brazil”, documents (with 77 links) U.S. subversion, which had regained U.S. control of that country, by means of a coup that was a cooperative effort by the aristocracies of both the United States and Brazil. Subsequently, on 15 June 2019, The Intercept bannered “Glenn Greenwald Explains the Political Earthquake in Brazil Caused by Our Ongoing Exposés” and linked to, and described, how the anonymously supplied evidence that they had published had laid bare the rigging of the case against Lula that had transformed Brazil from being a budding democracy, into its present fascist regime — again into being a country that U.S.-and-allied billionaires can exploit virtually without limit.
The U.S. regime’s emphasis upon ‘corruption’ had been central to the ‘justification’ of ousting Lula. This is an example of another excuse that the U.S. and its allies employ in order to ‘justify’ their imperialism: it’s America’s global ‘anti-corruption’ campaign. Agents of U.S. billionaires had actually established Transparency International at the very same time as they did the Washington Consensus, as a means to rig the corruption-rankings of countries, so that the World Bank would be able to ‘justify’ charging higher interest rates to countries that America’s aristocracy aim to conquer (regardless of whether that conquest was by subversion — such as in Brazil — or else by sanctions, or by coup, or by military invasion).
Consequently, the American Empire started, on 26 July 1945, in order to ‘conquer communism’ (U.S. President Harry S. Truman, on that date, got sucker-punched into that support of imperialism, and he remained so); and, then, after 24 February 1990, that ideological excuse morphed into the “Washington Consensus” imposition of “libertarian” or “neo-liberal” economic policies; and, then, it morphed yet again, into ‘responsibility to protect’ (or, as one of its champions put it, ‘Sovereignty is an anachronistic concept’ and should therefore be ignored); and, then, the alleged motivation came increasingly to rely upon ‘anti-corruption’. Regardless of the excuse, however, the actual intention has remained unchanged, ever since the Cold War started on 26 July 1945. Basically, America would impose its own world-government, and only the excuses for it were changing, over time — new paint on an old building — and, “To hell with the UN!” Billionaires’ greed was never being presented as the motivation behind their empire (just as the aristocracy’s greed has been behind every empire). But, after the time of Ronald Reagan’s election to the U.S. Presidency in 1980, the idea that “Greed is good” has been advocated by some U.S. officials; and some Americans even use that idea (such as “capitalism”) in order to argue for the Washington Consensus.
The U.S. and its allies believe that the English Empire is okay; the U.S. Empire is okay; the Spanish Empire was okay; the Italian Empire was okay, the French Empire was okay, the Dutch Empire was okay, the Portuguese Empire was okay; the German Empire was okay; the Russian Empire was okay; the Japanese Empire was okay; the Chinese Empire was okay, and so forth. And, this imperialism-accepting view of morality is profoundly contrary to the morality of today’s Russia, China, and their allies, all of which believe, instead, that imperialism by any nation is evil, because each nation’s Government is sovereign over its own land, and because national sovereignty consists in the right of each nation’s Government to rule over all of the internal matters within its own land-area. No national government, or alliance of national governments, should be able to dictate anything of the internal affairs in any other country. This is democracy between nations; it is international democracy. Democracy (or not) within a nation is no valid concern of international law, but is inevitably and entirely a matter of national law: the nation’s Constitution, and the entire national legal system. Foreigners should not be dictating that. To do so is international dictatorship.
Though all nations share a view that international matters require international agreements and international laws which are based upon international agreements, and therefore they all share the view that an international government, of some sort, is required, in order to enforce international agreements, the imperialistic countries believe themselves actually to be such international governments, or else that they are being ruled by such an international government (“the Empire,” “the Washington Consensus,” or whatever they might call it). The anti-imperialist countries believe that that’s not true, and that imperialism is what leads to interference in the internal affairs within other countries, and thereby produces wars, which are especially evil wars — ones that are of the aggressive type, aiming to expand the attacking nation’s control, to extend over additional lands. That’s international theft. Russia, China, and their allies, refuse to accept it.
Whereas anti-imperialist countries believe that any violation of a nation’s sovereignty — other than in response to an invasion from that country — is evil, pro-imperialist countries believe that it’s good, if one country agrees to be ruled by another country. (In the view of pro-imperialists, the agreement of one country to be ruled by another is alleged to be sometimes voluntary, and not to be the result of invasion and conquest or other means of external control — it’s alleged to be a ‘voluntary’ empire. Normally, the imperial country demands each of its ‘allies’, or vassal-nations, to say that their ‘alliance’ is ‘voluntary’. This myth is part of the imperial system.)
What politically divides the world today is precisely this difference: imperialism versus anti-imperialism — NOT capitalism versus socialism. (In fact, some countries, such as the Scandinavian ones, blend capitalism with socialism, and maintain higher levels of democracy than do the more ideologically rigid and more purely capitalistic countries such as the United States do.) So, there isn’t (and there never really was) any necessary correlation between democracy on the one hand, and capitalism versus socialism on the other: it was a figment of U.S.-allied propagandists’ imaginations — a lie — to suggest that capitalism goes with democracy. Nazi Germany was capitalist; fascist Italy was capitalist; imperialist Japan was capitalist, but they all were dictatorships, not, at all, democracies. For example: the Italian dictator Mussolini — the founder of fascism — said that fascism is “corporationism,” and he rejected both socialism and democracy. You can read here Mussolini’s essay on “Capitalism and the Corporatist State”, in which he was defining “fascism,” or his synonym for it, “corporationism,” and what he said in that essay describes the U.S. and its allied Governments today, as they actually are: today’s U.S. and its allied Governments are “corporationist” or “fascist,” as Mussolini described that, in 1933. Earlier, in 1914, Mussolini had said that “I shout it loudly: anti-war propaganda is a propaganda of cowardice.” He said that every nation seeks to expand, and that there is nothing wrong with this: “Imperialism is the eternal and immutable law of life. At bottom it is but the need, the desire, and the will for expansion, which every living, healthy individual or people has in itself.” He wasn’t similar to America’s leader in the 1930s, but he was similar to most American leaders of today. (For example, Barack Obama — though silk-tongued, unlike the less-deceptive and more forthright Mussolini — said repeatedly that every nation except America is “dispensable”: only America is not.) On 2 October 1935, Mussolini announced his war on Ethiopia, as providing a way for Ethiopians to share in Italy’s glory: “For many months the wheel of destiny, under the impulse of our calm determination, has been moving toward its goal; now its rhythm is faster and can no longer be stopped. Here is not just an army marching toward a military objective, but a whole people, forty-four million souls, against whom the blackest of all injustices has been committed – that of denying them a place in the sun.”
Basically, what Truman started on 26 July 1945 was America’s becoming, itself, a fascist nation. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was deeply anti-fascist, and had hoped to start the UN as the international democratic federal republic of nations, but Truman shaped what the UN became instead, which is a mere talking-forum that can do only what there exists virtual unanimity to do. So, effectively, “international law” has become, and now is, whatever the U.S. regime wants to do. Tin-pot invading dictators can be prosecuted, but America’s invading dictators (who lead vastly more mass-murdering and destructions of nations than the tin-pot ones do) can’t. FDR and the allies (especially Russia, which wasn’t even a democracy) defeated the fascists, but Truman (largely by mistake, instead of by intention) led the fascist resurgence and post-WW-II victory.
First, this difference, between the U.S. and the countries that it attacks, will be exemplified here in the case of U.S. versus China, and then it will be exemplified in the case of U.S. versus Russia. In each instance, the example applies also with regard to each of those two countries’ allies:
On October 9th, America’s Public Radio International (PRI) bannered “Biden says he’ll make China quit coal. Can he deliver?”, and sub-headed “China is on a coal spree, financing and providing technical expertise to roughly 60 new coal-fired power plants outside its borders.” But China (unlike the United States) is actually committing itself to reduce, instead of to expand, its usage of coal, and that fact is simply omitted from the PRI article, because PRI (like all of America’s major news-media) is an agency of U.S. Government propaganda — indoctrination. How, then, can their article claim “China is on a coal spree?” Is it simply a lie? No. The article isn’t about that (China’s domestic coal-usage). It is strictly about China’s building coal plants in other countries, because this is the issue that provides U.S. propagandists an opportunity to present the Chinese Government as being in need of regime-change. That’s essential, in order to maintain public support for the U.S. Government’s anti-China sanctions and other hostile policies toward China. It’s propaganda, for sanctions, subversion, and maybe later a coup, or even an outright U.S.-and-allied invasion, against China.
As regards China’s domestic usage of coal, an article was published, on September 30th, in the significantly less propagandistic (because not so beholden to the U.S. or any Government) Asia Times, headlined “China’s carbon neutral pledge – pipe dream or reality?”, which sub-headlined “Xi’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2060 clashes with China’s geopolitical interests,” and that article noted how extraordinarily dependent, upon coal, China — a coal-rich nation — is, and has been while its economy has been growing at a breakneck pace. This article also noted: “The U.S., the world’s largest economy, and second largest carbon dioxide emitter, for its part, is the only major world power that has not announced plans to go carbon neutral.” That fact, of course — America’s refusal to go carbon-neutral, and its 4 November 2019 abandonment of the 2016 Paris climate agreement, which both China and Russia remain committed to — somewhat punctures the U.S. Government’s case against China as being a global-warming villain. The U.S. doesn’t even have plans to restrict its CO2-emissions.
Furthermore, this news-article opened:
China is trying to spearhead a new climate change agenda that has the potential to dramatically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by next decade and beyond and help the world’s second largest economy and most populous nation become a global climate change leader.
Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping surprised his listeners at the virtual UN General Assembly in New York when he announced that China would be carbon neutral before 2060, and ensured that its greenhouse gas emissions would peak in the next decade.
This is a severe contrast to the U.S. Government. Nothing was said about it in the PRI article.
The PRI article deals with this problem for U.S. propagandists by falsely insinuating (which is the way that propaganda usually works) that the Chinese Government’s publicly announced plans are not to be taken seriously but are only communist propaganda:
Inside China, those overseas coal plants are often portrayed as benevolent. Jingjing Zhang, one of China’s top environmental lawyers, said that “from the Chinese government perspective, it is a way of giving. ‘We are helping the developing world … helping those countries have a better economy.’”
And if its smoke-spewing projects drive up the world’s temperatures?
“The argument from China’s government,” Zhang said, “is that it’s not the Chinese government’s responsibility. It is the host government’s responsibility.”
Actually, that view, which is expressed by China’s Government, is a basic operating principle of that Government’s foreign policies. It isn’t just propaganda; it is, instead, ideology — it is China’s, Russia’s, Iran’s, and many other countries’, ideology: anti-imperialism (versus America’s imperialism, America’s moralistic ‘regime change’ con, like “Saddam’s WMD”). Just as imperialism has become America’s ideology, anti-imperialism is the ideology of the countries that the U.S. propaganda-media attack.
The anti-imperialist ideology (supporting international democracy among and between nations — rejection of international dictatorship — instead of supporting international conquest and occupation or control over nations) was stated privately by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the closing years of World War II — he blamed both of the two World Wars on imperialism, and was passionately committed to ending imperialism, by means of the United Nations. That’s an institution he actually invented, and even named (but all of this was done privately, not publicly, because he wanted buy-in from both Stalin and Churchill, and the latter, Churchill, argued ferociously with him against it, because Churchill was — and had always been — a champion of continuing, and even expanding, the British Empire). But FDR died on 12 April 1945, just before the UN would be organized. And his immediate successor, Harry S. Truman, shaped the UN so as for imperialism to be able to continue, in order for America to become the world’s first global empire, by means of sanctions, coups, and outright invasions, in order for the U.S. Government to be able to spread its influence and control. After WW II, America developed the biggest empire the world has ever had.
FDR’s concept of international law was that only a democratic global federation of nations, which he planned to be the “United Nations,” would, or even could, be the source for international law, because, otherwise, the history that had produced the two world wars — contending and competing gangs of nations, imposing their ‘laws’ upon their conquests, and trying to expand their empire — would continue. And that ancient system, of empires, has been continuing, despite what had been FDR’s hopes and plans. The UN that was created, was designed by Truman’s people, not by FDR’s.
I have written elsewhere about how crucial this difference of moral viewpoints is between Putin and the U.S. Government, which also explains why the U.S. and its allies also want to regime-change him and grab Russia. In terms of domestic policies, Putin is determined that the State not be controlled by the nation’s billionaires; and this, too, is a principle that the U.S. Government and its allies cannot tolerate. (The Washington Consensus instead endorses it, in principle, as part of “the free market.”) The U.S. and its allies refuse to accept any nation’s leader who is unalterably opposed either to being controlled from abroad, or to being controlled by his/her own nation’s billionaires. FDR refused for America to be controlled by America’s, or by any country’s, billionaires.
FDR was correct; Churchill was wrong; but Truman sided with Churchill (who got backed up by General Eisenhower, who seems to have clinched Truman’s decision because Ike was an American). And, on 24 February 1990, G.H.W. Bush made the equally fateful decision to continue Truman’s Cold War. And all the rest is history. Truman and G.H.W. Bush shaped it. We are living in it. It did trillions of dollars worth of good for the investors in corporations such as Lockheed and Exxon. That decision, by the U.S. Government, has been the choice of the people, America’s international billionaires, who, behind the scenes, have controlled the U.S. Government after FDR died, on 12 April 1945. It’s the new America: the imperial America. And it’s done not only by America’s Presidents, but by almost all members of the U.S. Congress. For a typical example of this: the 2017 “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”, against Russia and against Iran, passed by 419 to 3 in the U.S. House, and then 98 to 2 in the U.S. Senate. Imperialism is just about the only issue on which there is virtual unanimity in today’s Washington. It is truly bipartisan, there. Both of the billionaires’ Parties are war Parties. This is especially remarkable for a country that no country even threatens to invade (much less has invaded, since 7 December 1941). Its military Department is called the “Defense Department,” instead of the “Aggression Department.” Is that name dishonest? Should it be changed, to something more honest? Maybe it should be changed back, again, to being called the “War Department.” But, unlike when was called that, it now is 100% the Aggression Department. So, shouldn’t it be called that, now? Shouldn’t a spade be called a “spade,” instead of just “a gardening tool”? If it’s the Aggression Department, why don’t they call it that?
Washington’s Middle East interventions have perfect success rate with one big exception Bashar al-Assad’s Syria. Watch the video and read more in the Editorial article.
Marcello Ferrada de Noli has studied Sweden’s response to the virus and advises countries elsewhere to reject the neoliberal model and survive instead.
Marcello FERRADA DE NOLI
The elderly have comprised the vast majority of Covid-19 fatalities in Sweden, either dying in care homes or their own residence, often alone.
By mid-May 2020, only 13 percent of the care home victims had received treatment at Swedish hospitals. In August 2020, only five percent of the Covid-19 patients admitted for treatment at Swedish hospitals came from care home facilities.
Sweden has by far the highest proportion of deaths among confirmed Corona cases in the Nordic countries. Let’s look into the possible reasons.
International comparisons of the Covid-19 situation may help to assess the efficacy of the different strategies used by developed countries’ health authorities.
Such strategies may have been assimilated by some countries formerly known as “Third World” because of continued economic dependency; the praxis of attributing superior technical know-how in matters of public health to countries seen as more economically developed still exists in some governing circles.
For this reason, populations in Latin America and Africa and other regions have been ruthlessly targeted with propaganda by developed countries promoting their epidemiological methods.
In Europe, Italy was the first country to apply the “lockdown” approach. At the start of the “second wave” it had one of the lowest incidences of new Covid-19 cases.
The model presented as alternative is “herd immunity,” most associated with Sweden’s neoliberal interpretation of it.
The idea here is to prioritize the economy: no closing factories, schools, or restaurants. Sweden’s Public Health Agency’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell said, “if we close the schools we would lose 25 percent of the labour force” (parents would have to stay at home).
He has also stated, “herd immunity is the one thing which eventually will stop the spread of this virus.” In the words of Johan Giesecke, the agency’s senior adviser, herd immunity strategy would consist of “letting the virus pass through the population.”
In response to the international criticism that ensued, the Swedish government tried to distance itself from the term but in practice the strategy has not changed.
Sweden’s ambassador to the U.S. declared that “Stockholm could reach herd immunity by May.” However, five months’ later this has not been achieved, and Sweden’s economy has suffered just as much, if not more, than its neighbors who used lockdown measures.
The epidemiological indicators I present below expose the flawed, not to say macabre, effects of the Swedish exporting model.
The message to other nations is: Don’t buy it. Survive instead.
Case Fatality Rate in Sweden & Nordic
Neighbors: Denmark, Finland, Norway
Based on current international data, I have carried out a comparison of mortality indicators among Nordic countries that applied forms of lockdown, and Sweden.
There certainly are multiple models for such international epidemiological comparisons. However, I start with the simple method to determine whether there is a statistical significance in the reported differences regarding total number, number per capita, etc.
(As we know, not all differences in mortality rates are epidemiologically/statistically significant, although they can appear as such in media reports).
Results found through comparisons between the number of Covid-19 deaths in Sweden (n = 5,883) and ditto the total numbers in Denmark, Finland and Norway (n = 1,284), give a significant overrepresentation of the Swedish deaths (X2 = 3023.3239, p = <0.00001). The difference is thus highly statistically significant.
Another method is the Case Fatality Rate (hereinafter referred to as CFR). CFR intends to estimate the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases. It shows the proportion of those who were ill and who eventually died; the World Health Organization considers it “a measure of severity among detected cases.”
Among more than 200 countries included in the international tables on Coronavirus, Sweden is currently ranked 14th out of the 15 countries with the highest Covid-19 death rate per 1 M population.
However, when CFR is taken into account, Sweden increases to sixth place in that group, illustrating the significance of the CFR method. This ranking position has remained rather even for Sweden. My calculation (as of Oct. 7 , 2020) indicates the same results established in a research paper from May 2020.
Regarding the comparison among the said Nordic countries, I have used two CFR calculation models. One is the usual CFR, which only needs the death toll and the number of reported Covid-19 patients.
The second consists of a more refined method, also recently described by the WHO, which in addition requires the number of cases that have recovered from the disease.
With the first method, the current CFR calculation results in: Denmark 2.18, Finland 3.16, Norway 1.8, and Sweden 6.11 percent.
Table 1: Case Fatality Ratio in Denmark, Finland, Norway & Sweden
|Covid-19 confirmed cases||Covid-19 deaths||CFR in percent
(Data for the CFR calculation: Worldometer, Oct. 6, 2020.)
Furthermore, according to the WHO, the CFR result may be underestimated when delays in reporting deaths occur, which is the case for Sweden, as demonstrated by a recent article authored by nine Swedish researchers.
So, even if Sweden’s above-mentioned CFR appears definitely higher than that of neighboring countries, it could be even higher when considering the bias mentioned by WHO.
The second CFR model consists of a calculation which also includes the number of recovered cases. The question is, could that calculation accurately be applied in the international comparison that includes Sweden?
The answer would be no. At least not officially. This is because Sweden does not report data regarding such cases internationally. Why not? Because in the first place – according to the explanation given by Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) – they do not even keep a record of the total number of the country’s recovered cases.
This was the reply I received from the statistic coordinator at Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsens Statisksamordnade), who emailed me on Oct. 6, 2020: “Socialstyrelsen does not have an estimate of the overall number of recovered cases of Covid-19.”
However, there are two findings that would help to approximately estimate Sweden’s missing (or unreported) number of recovered cases.
First is the percentage of cases confirmed world-wide that have recovered, which is 75 percent, thus providing a 75 percent average.
The second finding shows that the number of recovered from confirmed cases in the Nordic countries neighboring Sweden also gives an average of 75 percent.
Table 2: Covid-19 recovered cases, percent of confirmed cases
|Covid-19 confirmed cases||Recovered cases||Percent|
Therefore, I would estimate the number of recovered cases in Sweden to be 75 percent of the total confirmed cases in the country (n= 96,145), which gives n= 72,109.
Table 3: Case Fatality Ratio in Denmark, Finland, Norway & Sweden
|Covid-19 cases||Covid-19 deaths||Recovered cases||Recovered + death cases||Case Fatality Ratio||Case Fatality Rate in %|
(*Estimated Sweden’s recovered cases would be 75 percent of confirmed cases.)
Sweden’s High Covid-19 CFR
In Sweden, most of the Covid-19 victims were 70 years or older. By June 2020, half of those individuals (n=2036) were known to be living in nursing homes, with a further number (n= 1062) in the home-care system, or in residences where many victims lived alone.
Only 13 percent of the care home victims had received treatment at Swedish hospitals by mid-May. By August, Covid-19 care-home residents made up only a 5 percent of such patients treated at hospitals.
While in Denmark, half of Covid-19 patients over 70 were admitted to intensive care, and in Norway 30 percent were admitted, in Sweden only 21 percent of the same age group received access.
Health authorities in Sweden issued a directive stipulating certain groups of patients should be left out of intensive care. These included: those over 80 years of age, those over 70 years of age with one significant illness and those between 60 and 70 years of age with at least two organ diseases including heart, lung and kidney.
Ensuing, in May 2020, Karolinska Hospital reported that only 80 percent of IVA places at Karolinska Hospital were occupied. This prompted Swedish TV to broadcast it as “very positive,” while Aftonbladet wondered whether “we are making it better than in other countries.” Meanwhile scores of Swedish elderly had been denied treatment at those intensive care facilities.
In its definition, epidemiology strives to identify both the risk factors that can lead to the morbidity/mortality of the disease and the population groups that are particularly exposed.
As an explanation for Sweden’s disproportionate Covid-19 mortality among the elderly, the Swedish Public Health Agency’s General Director Johan Carlson declared that chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has no responsibility in “what has happened in elderly care” in Sweden, which [instead] “is a consequence of a neglected structure and preparedness.”
Thus, the elderly were a known risk group, including for the spread of the virus. Why then was that “structural” problem not taken into account in the architecture of the Swedish Covid-19 strategy from the beginning?
For example, why was the national directive on nursing homes (from April 1, 2020) so delayed? A few weeks later, it became known that nursing homes in 81 percent of Sweden’s municipalities “had confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19.”
Are Sweden’s Mortality Statistics Comparable?
Swedish epidemiologists would try to explain that Covid-19 mortality statistics for Sweden are difficult or not accurate, for international comparisons because the number of actual individuals with the disease should be estimated higher that the confirmed cases, like in the case of Infection Mortality Rate (IMR).
But then, why has Sweden’s testing for Covid-19 been the lowest among its Nordic neighboring countries, and also low in comparison with European countries? Is Covid-19 testing in Sweden incompatible with other countries?
Nevertheless, regarding testing, logic’s answer is simple: Reducing the number of tests means fewer opportunities to detect those with the disease. Which is not the same as assuming that those diseased individuals do not exist.
Indeed they do exist, and they are contagious. However, the ‘gain’ here about this is that we had a smaller number of new cases to report. Hence, a real public health problem is turned into a tool to cover a flawed epidemiological strategy.
What Do We Need?
By adopting a Swedish public-health model you may be serving a political establishment whose remits are greed, corporate economic power and adherence to its own interpretation of what democracy should mean.
For what is democracy in the context of this debate? Who shall ultimately decide the domestic strategy of a problem threatening the life of every single citizen of a country?
Democratic decisions are built on the participation of all, and in the interests of all, ensuring all voices are heard. In my experience, this is not the case in Sweden.
The findings of this work were refused publication by Swedish mainstream newspapers. They prefer, instead, to control discourse, permitting only mild criticism, which serves the authorities in the current Covid-19 debate.
This new Ikea-wrapped neoliberal concept of democracy, should not be unpacked by countries in Latin-America, Africa and other latitudes. There, a dignified formula for democracy should preclude the Swedish praxis of how – without the participation of the demos (Greek for “people”), those in power exercise the kratos (“rule”) to politically benefit themselves.
The Indicter via consortiumnews.com