In my last article, I reviewed the case of Gough Whitlam’s firing at the hands of the Queen’s Governor General Sir John Kerr during a dark day in November 1975 which mis-shaped the next 45 years of Australian history. Today I would like to tackle another chapter of the story.
I used to believe as many do, in a story called “the American Empire”. Over the last decade of research, that belief has changed a bit. The more I looked at the top down levers of world influence shaping past and present events that altered history, the hand of British Intelligence just kept slapping me squarely in the face at nearly every turn.
Who controlled the dodgy Steele dossier that put Russiagate into motion and nearly overthrew President Trump? British Intelligence.
How about the intelligence used to justify the bombing of Iraq? That was British Intelligence too.
How about the Clash of Civilizations strategy used to blow up the middle east over decades? That just so happened to be British Intelligence’s own Sir Bernard Lewis.
How about the CFR takeover over of American foreign policy during the 20th century? That is the British Roundtable Movement in America (created as Britain’s Chatham House in America in 1921).
Who did Kissinger brag that he briefed more than his own State Department at a May 10, 1981 Chatham House seminar? The British Foreign Office (1).
How about William Yandall Elliot who trained a generation of neocon strategists who took over American foreign policy after the murder of JFK? Well, he was a Rhodes Scholar and we know what they are zombified to do.
How about the financial empire running the world drug trade? Well HSBC is the proven leading agency of that game and the British Caymen islands is the known center of world offshore drug money laundering.
Who ushered in the Cold War? Churchill.
Where did the nouveaux riche oligarchs go after Putin kicked them out of Russia? Back to their handlers in London.
What about the creation of ‘too big to fail’ banks that took over the world over the past decades? That was launched by the City of London’s Big Bang of 1986
Who created Saudi Arabia and the state of Israel in the 20th century (as well as both nations’ intelligence agencies?) The British.
What was the nature of the Deep State that Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, FDR, and JFK combatted within their own nations?
What the heck was the American Revolution all about in the first place?
I could go on, but I think you get my point.
The Disrupted Post-WWII Potential
Franklin Roosevelt described his deep understanding of British operations in America, telling his son in 1943:
“You know, any number of times the men in the State Department have tried to conceal messages to me, delay them, hold them up somehow, just because some of those career diplomats over there aren’t in accord with what they know I think. They should be working for Winston. As a matter of fact, a lot of the time, they are [working for Churchill]. Stop to think of ’em: any number of ’em are convinced that the way for America to conduct its foreign policy is to find out what the British are doing and then copy that!” I was told… six years ago, to clean out that State Department. It’s like the British Foreign Office….”
Where the British Empire certainly adapted to the unstoppable post-WWII demands for political independence among its colonies, it is vital to keep in mind that no empire willfully dissolves or “gives its slaves freedom” without a higher evil agenda in mind. Freedom is fought for and not given by empires which never had a reason to seek humility or enlightenment required for freedom to be granted.
In the case of the post-war world, the deliverance of political freedom among the “former British Empire” was never accompanied by an ounce of economic freedom to give that liberation any meaning. Although it took a few years to iron out America’s anti-colonial impulses over the deaths of such figures as JFK, Malcolm X, MLK and RFK, eventually the rebellious republic was slowly converted into a dumb giant on behalf of the “British brains” controlling America’s Deep State from across the ocean.
The Case of Africa and the Crown Agents
Take the case of Africa as a quick example: Over 70% of the mineral control of African raw materials, mining, and refining are run by companies based in Britain or Commonwealth nations like Canada, South Africa or Australia managed by an international infrastructure of managers called “Crown Agents Ltd” (founded in 1833 as the administrative arm of the Empire and which still runs much of Africa’s health, and economic development policies to this day).
Crown Agents was originally set up as a non-profit with the mandate to manage British Empire holdings in Asia and Africa and its charter recognizes it as “an emanation of the Crown”. While it is “close to the monarchy” it is still outside governmental structures affording it to get its hands dirtier than other “official” branches of government (resulting in the occasional case of World Bank debarment as happened in 2011).
In 1996 Crown Agents was privatized as ‘Crown Agents for Overseas Government and Administration’ where it became active in Central and Eastern Europe with its greatest focus on Ukraine’s economic, energy and health management. The agency is partnered with the World Bank, UN and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and acts as a giant holding company with one shareholder called the Crown Agents Foundation based in Southwark London.
As outlined in the 2016 report New Colonialism: Britain’s Scramble for African Energy and Mineral Resources:
“101 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) — most of them British — have mining operations in 37 sub-Saharan African countries. They collectively control over $1 trillion worth of Africa’s most valuable resources. The UK government has used its power and influence to ensure that British mining companies have access to Africa’s raw materials. This was the case during the colonial period and is still the case today.”
As we can see by this most summary overview of the modern imperial looting operations of Africa, the spirit of Cecil Rhodes is alive and well. This will take on an additional meaning as we look at another aspect of Rhodes’ powerful legacy in the 20th century.
The British Takeover of American Intelligence
Although many falsely believe that Britain was replaced with an American Empire after WWII, the sad truth on closer inspection is that British assets embedded in America’s early deep state (often Rhodes Scholars and Fabian Society assets tied to the Council on Foreign Relations/Chatham House of America) were behind a purge of leaders loyal to FDR’s vision for the post-colonial world. These purges resulted in the dismantling of the OSS months after FDR died, and the formation of the CIA in 1947 as a new weapon to carry out coups, assassinations and subversions of leaders within America and abroad seeking economic independence from the British Empire. This history was outlined brilliantly by Cynthia Chung in her paper Secret Wars, Forgotten Betrayals, Global Tyranny: Who is Really in Charge of the U.S. Military.
The Five Eyes grew out of these British imperial operations which essentially followed the mandate set out by Cecil Rhodes in his 7th Will calling for a new global British Empire and recapturing of the lost colony. In his will, Rhodes asks:
“Why should we not form a secret society with but one object the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, and for the making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire…”
Later on in his will Rhodes stated: “Let us form the same kind of society, a Church for the extension of the British Empire. A society which should have its members in every part of the British Empire working with one object and one idea we should have its members placed at our universities and our schools and should watch the English youth passing through their hands just one perhaps in every thousand would have the mind and feelings for such an object, he should be tried in every way, he should be tested whether he is endurant, possessed of eloquence, disregardful of the petty details of life, and if found to be such, then elected and bound by oath to serve for the rest of his life in his Country. He should then be supported if without means by the Society and sent to that part of the Empire where it was felt he was needed.”
Among the four Anglo-Saxon members of the Five Eyes that have the Queen as the official head of state (Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), all feature irrational forms of government structured entirely around Deep State principles organized within two opposing forms of social organizing: democratic and oligarchical… with the true seat of power being oligarchical.
Because this peculiar self-contradictory form of government is so little understood today, and because its structure has made Britain’s globally extended empire so successful, a few words should be devoted to it now.
A House Divided Against Itself…
In the case of Westminster-modelled Parliamentary systems, Senates represent the House of Lords, while Houses of Commons (for the Commoners) represent the elected parts of government. A prime minister selected by the governing party is assumed to be that nation’s leader, but unlike republican forms of government, instead of the “buck stopping there” (at least legally speaking), it is precisely there that the true sphere of power only begins to be felt.
Here parliamentary/quasi-democratic systems projected for public consumption find themselves enshrined within a much more shadowy and Byzantine world of Governor Generals (acting as the heads of state) who give Royal Assents to all acts and wielding the infinite prerogative powers of the Queen (aka: the “Fount of All Honors”). In the British Imperial system, hereditary power is seen as the source of all authority for all aspects of government, military, and economic- whereas in republican forms of government that authority is seen as deriving from the consent of the governed.
Where rights are “granted by the sovereign” within hereditary governments, republican forms of government recognize correctly that rights are fundamentally “inalienable” to humanity (in principle though not always in practice as the troubled history of America can attest).
By being essentially the legal “cause” of all authority among every branch of the British official and unofficial corridors of power, an obvious absurdity strikes which the empire would prefer plebs not think too seriously about: The queen and her heirs cannot themselves be UNDER any law, since they “cause” the law. This means that the queen, her heirs and anyone whom she delegates authority to literally have “licenses to kill”. The queen cannot be taken to court and she has no need of a passport or even a drivers’ license… since these items are issued by her crown’s authority alone. Within the logic of British legal systems, she cannot be held legally accountable for anything which the Crown has done to anyone or any nation of the world.
Although much effort goes into portraying the Crown’s prerogative powers as merely symbolic, they cover nearly every branch of governance and have occasionally been used… although those British spheres of influence where they most apply are usually so self-regulating that they require very little input from such external influence to keep them in line.
These powers were first revealed publicly in 2003 and in an article titled ‘Mystery Lifted on the Prerogative Powers’, the London Guardian noted that these powers include (but are not limited to):
“Domestic Affair, the appointment and dismissal of ministers, the summoning, prorogation and dissolution of Parliament, Royal assent to bills, the appointment and regulation of the civil service, the commissioning of officers in the armed forces, directing the disposition of the armed forces in the UK (and other Commonwealth nations), appointment of Queen’s Counsel, Issue and withdrawal of passports, Prerogative of mercy. (Used to apply in capital punishment cases. Still used, eg to remedy errors in sentence calculation), granting honours, creation of corporations by Charter, foreign Affairs, the making of treaties, declaration of war, deployment of armed forces overseas, recognition of foreign states, and accreditation and reception of diplomats.”
When a 2009 bill was introduced into parliament proposing that these powers be limited, a Privy Council-led Justice Ministry review concluded that such limitations would ‘”dangerously weaken” the state’s ability to respond to a crisis’ and the bill was promptly killed.
Acting on Provincial levels, we find Lieutenant Governors who (in Canada) happen to be members of the Freemasonic Knights of St John of Jerusalem (patronized by the Queen herself).
All figures operating with these authorities within this strange Byzantine world are themselves a part of, or beholden to figures sworn into the Queen’s Privy Council- putting their allegiance under the total authority of the Queen and her heirs, rather than the people or nation in which that subject serves and lives. If this is hard to believe, then take the time to listen to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s oath upon entering the Privy Council to get a visceral taste of this medieval policy in action (every cabinet member, Prime Minister and opposition leader must take this oath if they are to be granted intelligence briefings from her majesty’s intelligence services.)
Take note that not even once does the welfare of the people or the nation arise in this oath.
Standing Defiant Against Natural Law
Despite these un-natural power structures, history has shown that from time to time, good leaders have found themselves in executive positions of high office. As rare as they are, such anomalies occurred in the cases of Canada’s Prime Ministers Wilfrid Laurier (1896-1911) and John Diefenbaker (1957-1963), Quebec Premiers Paul Sauvé (1959), Daniel Johnson Senior (1967-68), and Australia’s Gough Whitlam (1972-1975). Yet when these anomalies arise and such figures trespass beyond their acceptable sphere of action into policy territories reserved only for the governing elite, then more often then not a Rhodes Scholar-run coup occurs [Laurier 1911 (2), Diefenbaker 1963], an untimely death strikes [Sauvé 1959 and Johnson 1968] or a sacking by the Queen’s Governor General happens [Whitlam 1975].
In all aforementioned cases, Democratic institutions that are premised around the concept that all citizens are made equal and free in the image of a creator are never long tolerated within the cage of a system of oligarchism premised upon the belief that only one person is sovereign and her/his word is absolute law for all slaves, and minions of the ruling bloodline.
As Gough Whitlam discovered in 1975, the real British Empire is a nasty beast, and probably one which should have gone extinct a couple of centuries ago. Unfortunately, until this moment, history has been tainted by more than a few disruptions of progressive leaders who sacrificed their comfort, careers, and often their lives to resist this stubborn parasite which would rather suck its host dry than admit that the system of organization upon which it is based is an abomination to natural law and morality.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) Kissinger stated at that event: “The British were so matter-of-factly helpful that they became a participant in internal American deliberations, to a degree probably never practiced between sovereign nations… In my White House incarnation then, I kept the British Foreign Office better informed and more closely engaged than I did the American State Department… It was symptomatic”.
(2) After his 1911 coup coordinated by the early members of the Round Table Movement, the Ontario Orange Men and forces around Quebec’s Henri Bourassa, Wilfrid Laurier lamented the loss of Canada’s sovereignty saying: “Canada is now governed by a junta sitting at London, known as ‘The Round Table’, with ramifications in Toronto, in Winnipeg, in Victoria, with Tories and Grits receiving their ideas from London and insidiously forcing them on their respective parties.” [O.D. Skelton, The Life of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, p. 510]
Enough is never enough for extremists and now SJWs are on the hunt for the head of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowfing because of a tweet.
A total blockade of war-torn Syria is the desired effect of sweeping new sanctions imposed this week by the United States. The purpose is to prevent the Arab nation from achieving reconstruction and international normalization after suffering nearly a decade of war.
Washington’s objective is to make regime change in Damascus inevitable by making social conditions in the country as unbearable for the population as it possibly can.
With cruel Orwellian irony, the American sanctions implemented this week bear the words “Syria Civilian Protection Act”.
The U.S. legislation was passed by both parties in the Congress last year and signed off by President Donald Trump. Syria was already under American sanctions, but the latest round of restrictions aim to choke off all international investment and trade with the country.
It should be remarked too that the European Union renewed its own sanctions on Syria last month. Such partnering with the U.S. is a reprehensible sign of the EU’s political and moral bankruptcy.
Kelly Craft, America’s ambassador to the UN, informed the Security Council that the sanctions would prevent the Syrian government from “securing military victory”.
The move was denounced by Russia, China and Iran as “inhumane”. Syria’s envoy to the UN, Bashar al-Ja’afari, said the American plan for embargo showed a “new face of terrorism”.
Washington’s admission that the restrictions are aimed at preventing military victory are telling. It shows that the U.S. is livid from the failure of its regime-change campaign over the past decade in which Washington and other NATO powers covertly sponsored foreign aggression against Syria. That nefarious plot was defeated by the courage of the Syrian people and their armed forces, along with the crucial support of Russia, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Having failed on the battle field, Washington is now pursuing its criminal regime-change war objective through economic aggression.
All of this, it should be said, is in flagrant violation of international law and the UN Charter. The U.S. conduct is tantamount to the Nuremberg-standard designating crimes of state-sponsored terrorism.
The sanctions unveiled this week are but the opening of a new front for assault on Syria.
“We anticipate many more sanctions,” stated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who went on to say for risible propaganda effect, “and we will not stop until Assad and his regime stop their needless, brutal war against the Syrian people and the Syrian government agrees to a political solution to the conflict.”
The “political solution” that Pompeo is referring to is the one dictated by Washington which means Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stepping down, to be replaced by an American puppet regime.
It is notable that the new sanctions also target the Assad family, including the president’s wife, Asma, as well as the wider national economy. Pompeo vilified Asma al-Assad as a “notorious war profiteer”. Such personal attack on a foreign leader and his family shows a new low in Washington’s gutter tactics. It is no doubt a sign of the frustration and vindictiveness seething in the waning U.S. imperium that it is resorting to such sordid gouging.
The latest U.S. sanctions are a despicable act of barbarity by Washington. If there was any prevailing justice, Washington should be paying massive reparations to Syria for orchestrating a war of aggression. Not only the U.S., but all those other accomplices in the criminality: Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel.
However, the renewed aggression will backfire. America’s international image is descending rapidly into a cesspool of its own making. At a time of global pandemic from the coronavirus, Washington is seen as an unrelenting degenerate ramping up sanctions against several nations, including Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Russia and China, as well as Cuba and North Korea.
Whatever moral and political authority the U.S. may have had in the past, it is now squandering at a startling pace. The corrosive effect from this degeneracy on U.S. power and its financial privileges from the dollar as international reserve currency is very real and underway.
The attempts to block Syria’s reconstruction will only galvanize other nations to redouble their efforts to solidify an alternative to the U.S.-dominated financial system. Iran has vowed to ignore American sanctions on Syria. So too will Russia, China, Venezuela and others.
Washington failed to subjugate the Syrian nation despite inflicting unspeakable terrorism on it by enlisting jihadi gangs from all over the world to do its dirty work. The war’s death toll stands at near 400,000 with millions of more lives ruined through displacement. Reconstruction costs may run into trillions of dollars. But the new phase of American economic aggression will also fail. Because of international solidarity with Syria.
Washington’s tyranny is inadvertently creating a portal to a new global geopolitical realignment, one which will see the final demise of U.S. imperial power.
Conn M. HALLINAN
If the Trump administration follows through on its threat to re-start nuclear tests, it will complete the unraveling of more than 50 years of arms control agreements, taking the world back to the days when school children practiced “duck and cover,” and people built backyard bomb shelters.
It will certainly be the death knell for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, passed by the UN’S General Assembly in 1996. The Treaty has never gone into effect because, while 184 nations endorsed it, eight key countries have yet to sign on: the US, China, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Iran and North Korea.
Evan without ratification, the Treaty has had an effect. Many nuclear-armed countries, including the US, Britain, and Russia, stopped testing by the early 1990s. China and France stopped in 1996 and Indian and Pakistan in 1998. Only North Korea continues to test.
Halting the tests helped slow the push to make weapons smaller, lighter and more lethal, although over the years countries have learned how to design more dangerous weapons using computers and sub-critical tests. For instance, without actually testing any weapon, the US recently created a “super fuze” that makes its warheads far more capable of knocking out an opponent’s missile silos. Washington has also just deployed a highly destabilizing low-yield warhead that has yet to be detonated.
Nonetheless, the test ban did—and does—slow the development of nuclear weapons and retards their proliferation to other countries. Its demise will almost certainly open the gates for others—Saudi Arabia, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Turkey, and Brazil—to join the nuclear club.
“It would blow up any chance of avoiding a dangerous new nuclear arms race,” says Beatrice Fihn of the Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and “complete the erosion of the global arms control framework.”
While the Trump administration has accelerated withdrawal from nuclear agreements, including the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement, and START II, the erosion of treaties goes back almost 20 years.
At stake is a tapestry of agreements dating back to the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty that ended atmospheric testing. That first agreement was an important public health victory. A generation of “down winders” in Australia, the American Southwest, the South Pacific and Siberia are still paying the price for open-air testing.
The Partial Test Ban also broke ground for a host of other agreements.
The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) restricted the spread of nuclear weapons and banned nuclear-armed countries from threatening non-nuclear nations with weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately, key parts of the agreement have been ignored by the major nuclear powers, especially Article VI that requires nuclear disarmament, followed by general disarmament.
What followed the NPT were a series of treaties that slowly dismantled some of the tens of thousands of warheads with the capacity to quite literally destroy the planet. At one point, the US and Russia had more than 50,000 warheads between them.
The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty reduced the possibility of a first-strike attack against another nuclear power. The same year, the Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement (SALT I) put a limit on the number of long-range missiles. Two years later, SALT II cut back on the number of highly destabilizing multiple warheads on missiles and put ceilings on bombers and missiles.
The 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement banned land-based medium-range missiles in Europe that had put the continent on a hair-trigger. Four years later, START I cut the number of warheads in the Russian and American arsenals by 80 percent. That still left each side with 6,000 warheads and 1600 missiles and bombers. It would take 20 years to negotiate START II , which reduced both sides to 1550 deployed nuclear warheads and banished multiple warheads from land-based missiles.
All of this is on the verge of collapse. While Trump has been withdrawing from treaties, it was President George W. Bush’s abandonment of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 that tipped the first domino.
The death of the ABM agreement put the danger of a first-strike was back on the table and launched a new arms race, As the Obama administration began deploying ABMs in Europe, South Korea and Japan, the Russians began designing weapons to overcome them.
The ABM’s demise also led to the destruction of the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement (INF) that banned medium-range, ground-based missiles from Europe. The US claimed the Russians were violating the INF by deploying a cruise missile that could be fitted with a nuclear warhead. The Russians countered that the American ABM system, the Mark 41 Ageis Ashore, could be similarly configured. Moscow offered to let its cruise be examined, but NATO wasn’t interested.
The White House has made it clear that it will not renew the START II treaty unless it includes Chinese medium-range missiles, but that is a poison pill. The Chinese have about one fifth the number of warheads that Russia and the US have, and most of China’s potential opponents—India, Japan, and US bases in the region—are within medium range.
While Chinese and Russian medium-range missiles do not threaten the American homeland, US medium-range missiles in Asia and Europe could decimate both countries. In any case, how would such an agreement be configured? Would the US and Russia reduce their warhead stockpile to China’s 300 weapons, or would China increase its weapons levels to match Moscow and Washington? Both are unlikely.
If START II goes, so do the limits on warheads and launchers, and we are back to the height of the Cold War.
On many levels this makes no sense. Russia and the US have more than 12,000 warheads between them, more than enough to end civilization. Recent studies of the impact of a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan found it would have worldwide repercussions by altering rain patterns and disrupting agriculture. Imagine what a nuclear war involving China, Russia, and the US and its allies would do.
Partly this is a matter of simple greed.
The new program will cost in the range of $1.7 trillion, with the possibility of much more. Modernizing the “triad” will require new missiles, ships, bombers and warheads, all of which will enrich virtually every segment of the US arms industry.
But this is about more than a rich payday. There is a section of the US military and political class that would like to use nuclear weapons on a limited scale. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review explicitly reverses the Obama administration’s move away from nuclear weapons, reasserting their importance in US military doctrine.
That is what the recently deployed low yield warhead on the US’s Trident submarine is all about. The W76-2 packs a five-kiloton punch, or about one-third the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, a far cry from the standard nuclear warheads with yields of 100 kilotons to 475 kilotons.
The US rationale is that a small warhead will deter the Russians from using their low yield nuclear warheads against NATO, The Trump administration says the Russians have a plan to do exactly that, figuring the US would hesitate to risk an all-out nuclear exchange by replying in kind. There is, in fact, little proof such a plan exists, and Moscow denies it.
According to the Trump administration, China and Russia are also violating the ban on nuclear test by setting off low yield, hard to detect, warheads. No evidence has been produced to show this, and no serious scientist supports the charge. Modern seismic weapons detection is so efficient it can detect warheads that fail to go critical, so-called duds.
Bear baiting—and dragon drubbing in the case of China—is a tried and true mechanism for opening the arms spigot.
Some of this is about making arms manufactures and generals happy, but it is also about the fact that the last war the US won was Grenada. The US military lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, made of mess of Libya, Somalia and Syria, and is trying to extract itself from a stalemate in Yemen.
Just suppose some of those wars were fought with low-yield nukes? While it seems deranged—like using hand grenades to get rid of kitchen ants—some argue that if we don’t take the gloves off we will continue to lose wars or get bogged down in stalemates.
The Pentagon knows the Russians are not a conventional threat because the US and NATO vastly outnumber and out spend Moscow. China is more of a conventional challenge, but any major clash could go nuclear and no one wants that.
According to the Pentagon, the W76-2 may be used to respond “to significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” on the US or its allies’ “infrastructure,” including cyber war. That could include Iran.
Early in his term, President Trump asked why the US can’t use its nuclear weapons. If Washington successfully torpedoes START II and re-starts testing, he may get to do exactly that.
Statues commemorating colonizers, slavers and imperialists are toppling from their pedestals on both sides of the Atlantic in the wake of mass protests over the U.S. police killing of African-American man George Floyd. The surge in anti-racist public anger has widened to target other icons seen as glorifying racism and oppression of other peoples.
In recent days, the U.S. has seen statues dedicated to Christopher Columbus and Confederate leaders taken down or defaced.
The same angry public mood in Belgium, Norway and other European countries is calling for a reckoning with heritage sites that are seen as paying homage to colonialism and slavery. Several statues dedicated to Belgian King Leopold II have been vandalized owing to his legacy of genocide in the African Congo at the end of the 19th century.
The drive to remove these statues has been going on for decades. In 2000, antiwar protests in London targeted the figure of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square. It was defaced again last week with the slogan “racist” was daubed under the sculpture of the World War Two leader. The latest epithet refers to Churchill’s infamous racialist bigotry towards Asians and Jews, as well as his gung-ho imperialist predilections.
In August 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, American woman Heather Heyer was killed by a white supremacist driving a speeding car into a peaceful crowd who were demanding the removal of a statue to Robert E Lee, the Confederate general. Other Southern figures from the Civil War (1861-45) have also been slated for taking down owing to claims that they represent pro-slavery racism.
This movement has been renewed and expanded internationally since the brutal murder of George Floyd by a white cop in Minneapolis on May 25. The police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes as he pleaded for breath. The whole gruesome scene was recorded on the video of a bystander’s phone. Since then protests on both sides of the Atlantic have been calling for an end to racist policing and institutionalized inequality. But there seems to be a watershed moment that has galvanized past protests against numerous racist killings, primarily in the U.S. but also in European countries. The mass demonstrations also seem to have aggregated into calls for addressing wider social and multiracial grievances about economic injustice, poverty, war and the imperialist legacy of Western countries.
A backlash against removing controversial statues and other emblems uses the argument that the action is obliterating history.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned the removal of existing controversial statues. He said: “We cannot now try to edit or censor our past. We cannot pretend to have a different history. The statues in our cities and towns were put up by previous generations. They had different perspectives, different understandings of right and wrong. But those statues teach us about our past, with all its faults. To tear them down would be to lie about our history, and impoverish the education of generations to come.”
If a landmark to a slaver or colonizer is removed then how is the history of that epoch discussed, it is contended. However, that may sound like an oblique apology for having such figures displayed in public spaces.
U.S. President Donald Trump has vehemently opposed any removal of Confederate statues. This week he rebuffed proposals to rename contemporary military bases with Confederate titles, such as Fort Bragg, North Carolina, or Fort Hood, Texas.
Trump stated: “It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our Legendary Military Bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.”
The president has previously opposed removing statues of Confederate leaders with the following rationale typical of others like Britain’s Johnson who share the view of maintaining the status quo: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments…the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” wrote Trump back in 2017.
Advocates of taking down offending statues say the objects should not be destroyed but rather put in museums where they can be viewed with explanatory historical context of colonialism, imperialism or slavery. That seems a fair compromise.
For people of African descent and others of color, the public veneration of personages and symbols of slavery or colonial conquest is understandably repugnant. Indeed for many people regardless of their skin color, such glorification is also seen as repugnant. It may be an inevitable fact that victors write history. But it is not an inevitable fact that that dubious version of history must prevail in the form of icons adorning public spaces.
British and other Western state wealth was built largely on the backs of colonized peoples around the world. Why should key figures of that genocidal legacy be allowed to stand over public places with pomp and imperial majesty? In Britain, this includes public figures dedicated to Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Cecil Rhodes, Sir James Cook and many more.
A notable double standard prevails in the debate. While defenders of such monuments are animated by supposedly preserving history “warts and all”, they have had no such problem about the ransacking of hundreds of Soviet-era statues in EU members Poland and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Since those countries joined NATO and the EU, there has been a systematic erasure of public monuments dedicated to Soviet military leaders and Red Army soldiers. The silence from Washington and Western European capitals is tacit approval for such state-sponsored vandalism. Where is the outcry to “preserve history”?
There is none because the desecration of public Soviet landmarks is part of the toxic revisionist trend about World War Two and the erasure of the historic role of the Red Army in defeating European fascism.
The double standard is all the more appalling because there is no equivalence between Western figures of imperialist war and colonial crimes and the Soviet heroes who liberated Poland and Eastern Europe from the Third Reich’s tyranny.
Taking down Soviet figures is an act of cultural vandalism that is serving a wider geopolitical agenda of hostility towards Russia.
Taking down objectionable figures in Western states is an act of reparation in which these states are forced to account for genocidal histories that have for long been concealed by chauvinistic, supremacist arrogance.
J.G. Martinez D.
For many, the current situation has brought us lessons to learn. Quarantine, crisis, and collapse: all of these events bring consequences that impact like a ton of bricks. With the lack of decent jobs available (something that in Venezuela has been hard to find since somewhere around 2012) it has been normal to see an increase in crime. A young, uneducated population, will look for the means to provide for themselves in any manner they choose, including finding victims on social media. Add drug and alcohol addiction and things can go to hell in a hand-basket very quickly.
Editor’s Note: Every time we post about social media, we get a barrage of comments about how you, personally, don’t use it. I realize not everyone uses social media, but billions of people do. Some people must maintain profiles for work or business purposes. If this information isn’t applicable to you, personally, it might be helpful for someone you love, or this just might not be an article for you. – Daisy
A recent experience has made me realize my paranoia is justified.
Even though I know better, I can be unwary sometimes, but not without good cause. If we are not careful with what we share on social media it becomes inevitable that we will expose our entire lives to predators. There are criminals watching for our personal information. What these criminals find on social media can lead to very dangerous situations. I can not give you the details, but using my own experience, I can offer suggestions that you may find useful in certain situations.
In current times it is best not to brag. These days I believe it is the ghost-like man and his family who survive and thrive. While it may seem celebrities are living a superb life, we do not know what is truly going on. Leave the red carpet for the Kardashians. Personally, I’d prefer living on top of a mountain, filtering rainwater to drink, and watching my family asleep around the fire in our humble cottage. Free, happy, and healthy, knowing that I am not a slave to the system and neither is my family.
My advice? Be discreet.
Use social media only as a place to hang out and casually joke. Sharing sensitive info is never advised. My main motivation is to provide my readers with reliable information: real boots on the ground information. Sometimes, I get distracted and post comments that I should not. My recent experience has taught me there ARE people out there, some who are psychologically compromised, that believe things to be true that are not. Social media profiles may contain personal information which is surely being monitored by one or more of these lowlifes. Trust me: my intention is not to scare anyone. On the contrary, it is to make my readers aware of this. No matter if you are a senior lady without a dime or a wealthy, educated retired college teacher: someone is out there looking for this personal information. I limit my comments and mainly use Facebook due to my association with the Organic Prepper.
Some people I know, who are close to me, have had quite traumatic experiences with social media. They are not wealthy, they live in a decent place, drive not-so-old cars. Although with the levels Venezuela has been at for the last 20 years, I guess some lowlife could consider them wealthy enough. These people I know live in a frontier city; this means criminals usually know that after committing a crime there, once they cross the border, they will be relatively safe.
Social media for work only is best.
It is very important to know that all the information we post online is available to everyone, everywhere. Going completely offline is possible, but in a modern economy, is it really practical? How do we sell our products, if we are homesteaders, without belonging to a group or some online community? Sure, we could use the old-style phone calls, telemarketing style but it is highly time-consuming and maybe impractical compared to other methods, to achieve our goals.
Using social media ( Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) exclusively for our work is the best approach. Our personal lives do not need to be known by others. Especially those who may be looking for a way to take advantage of someone they have chosen as prey. Don´t post about your armory or your panic room, your pantry full of food, nor your score in the range on social media. These criminals will know you´re not a piece of cake, and take it on as a challenge. The last thing you want is to face a bad guy who knows you may be armed.
By the way, these guys are usually NOT the stereotypical lonely psycho you see in the movies. They often attack in packs: two, three, or even four against one person they have found worthy. One or two of them will come in close, the others will be nearby, just in case things get ugly. Even if you neutralize two of them, the remaining others will hunt you down, just because they can. They can´t afford to allow a civilian to face them and win. Many of them are linked to the “uniforms”, who provide them guns, ammo, and even transport and protection. Although, the “uniforms” sometimes are the perpetrators.
Ask yourself the following questions.
What important information might you be giving away on social media?
Do you really want your information online…forever? (once online, it stays online) None of this should be in any of your social media profiles.
Predators know that kids are a good source of information.
Kids talk. Especially to friendly adults. Predators know kids will feel “grown-up” if an adult speaks to them. Sadly, these criminals are only gathering information for an attack. When my older son was around 14 or 15, someone began asking him questions. My son quickly realized this thug had bad intentions and gave him fake information. But, do not underestimate these predators. They are smart, and most of them know when they are being lied to.
If you are able, download and save a photo of anyone who asks you for information that is suspicious.
In Venezuela, the upper-class neighborhoods and the poor neighborhoods are only separated by a few hundred meters. I am not saying that people living in poor neighborhoods are criminals, but the criminals are likely to live in those poor neighborhoods. So, if you are driving a shiny new car, every day, by the poor barrio, you will likely end up being targeted. If you are also sharing your personal information and your schedules and routines on social media, some of those criminals will be watching you.
This article does not go into how the social media companies themselves are using your information. That’s also a risk to your personal security and privacy.
Do you have any other tips for keeping your social media profile secure?
I hope this information has been useful in optimizing your OPSEC (operational security). We just never know who has been browsing social media for hours, gathering information needed to put together a portfolio of potential victims. One of those victims could be you.
Thanks for your comments, and your support to keep me writing!
Right now, as statues across America and beyond are being defaced and/or destroyed by Black Lives Matter protestors it is a good time to reflect on who the heroes on our monuments should be and ask ourselves if we even need any of these pieces of brass and concrete at all in the 21st century. Why does seemingly every country on Earth bother with using public space for the secular worship of dead political and military figures? What point do monuments even serve?
Regarding heroes it seems very evident that children have over time moved from having historical heroes to fantasy ones. It is hard to imagine, that in today’s America young people would be drawing Paul Revere on horseback with crayons when every soup can, backpack, and cartoon is overflowing with fictitious superheroes that have magic powers. In fact there is an omnipresent meme statement among Russians (which is very annoying to hear repeated ad nauseum daily as an American) that “America created superheroes because they have no real heroes of their own”.
My stock answer to this unavoidable template statement is that “America had heroes, but they’ve been replaced”. This happened actually not that long ago, at a time before the internet but years after televisions were in every American home. Back then there were real American heroes in TV programs, films and they even had toys. For my father’s generation there were people like Daniel Boone, Annie Oakley, Wild Bill and all those gents who died at the Alamo just a bit before it became part of America. The Founding Fathers back then were universally considered true heroes and men of the highest honor to which we should all aspire. Every boy knew and believed that little Georgie Washington accepted corporal punishment for ruining his father’s prized cherry tree, because he could not “tell a lie.” And there was some cool story about Ben Franklin taking a kite out to get hit by lighting “for science!”.
The key point is that even as recently as the youth of the Boomer generation, America had an absolutely solid idea of who its heroes were and despite what Russians believe these were mostly based on real people, with the exception of John Wayne movies and those, whose historical authenticity is up for debate like Molly Pitcher.
Now, America “has no heroes” before Spiderman and Batman because society has become fractured and there are no real Americans living or dead that work for today’s USA as well as Tony Stark. Even as this is being written the major memorials to the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln are under constant guard from vandals. Of all the people in U.S. history, with the exception of those tiny few who still somehow believe “the South shall rise again”, one would think that at least we could all agree on the man who saved the Union as our national hero. Lincoln’s primary intent wasn’t to end slavery but the fact is his presidency did end it. If the South would have won, the United States, either half of it, would have never become a superpower. You would think that Honest Abe would be the guy that we could all rally around. But no, his memorial is under as much threat as Columbus and the Confederates because the feelings of bourgeois Liberals are aching for the Black Americans they would never let in their houses.
On the surface this probably does not seem like such an important issue. How do stationary objects made of metal and/or cement really affect us? In a direct sense they don’t, they are inanimate, however they are a reflection of something that is intangeable this is somehow felt by us every day of our lives – political power. To illustrate this point we need to take a look at the history of a country where the monuments (and street/city names) have changed many times.
In Russia during the Tsars there seemed to be a church every 500 feet, during the Soviet Union they were knocked down and replaced by an omnipresent Lenins and the occasional Marx, who were exported to Eastern Europe after the USSR gained exclusive influence over that territory following the big victory in WWII. As soon as the Soviet Union started collapsing, so did all of the Soviet Union’s monuments in Eastern Europe. Which were quickly replaced with new “Democratic” ones and reflected the “horrors” of “Russian occupation”. If the U.S. ever falls from grace we are likely to see the Russians put up numerous memorials to the victims of the Marshall Plan and the “Yankee Yoke”.
Photo: If Communism had won the Cold War this monument would be in prestine condition and the fact that it is restored after vandalism means something.
We could go all over the world to find churches that became mosques and vice versa, and many statues falling during regime changes like Saddam Hussein’s famous monument that fell along with Bagdad. Interestingly enough one of the men who ripped it down now regrets this decision. In short, historically shifting monuments is a common phenomenon where political change is happening.
So, monuments in a way are a reflection of political and ideological power, if you can put your hero statues down on a territory, destroy the enemy monuments and not allow yours to be ripped down in return, it is essentially a signal of dominance. Like geopolitical dogs “marking” their territory, powerful ideologies need to put their stamp on things.
Photo: When power shifts so do the monuments. Saddam’s rule was over.
This is not to say that the Seattle Lenin Statue makes X number of square yards of Washington State a part of some new Communist entity, but it does mean there is enough ideological support for it to stay standing which certainly means something. If the statue were placed in hardcore Bible Belt territory I am sure Vova Lenin would have gotten atleast vandalized if not completely destroyed. But could one put up a statue of Robert E. Lee in Seattle? No absolutely not, meaning that in Seattle Lenin is stronger than Lee. Which means that the ideology that the Lenin statue reflects is vastly stronger than that of greatest gentleman general of the South.
Since there is virtually no resistance to the Confederates and Columbus falling and that the Founding Fathers are under threat of vandalism this means that the old American ideology is visibly losing and its days seem to be numbered. But the interesting thing is that they have no real replacements for these “outdated” heroes. Even the Ukrainian Nazis have Stevie Bandera to replace Lenin, Zhukov and Pushkin with, even if he actually never had any successes, at least he tried, kind of. And that is the true Maidan spirit – feeling like you are accomplishing something + Russophobia uber alles.
So as statues and monuments fall in America and beyond, even if those who are destroying them do not understand their own actions, we are seeing a war for ideological territory. Every Columbus and Founding Father down is a gain for the organizer generals of the other side. Although, so far no “heroes” have replaced the falling statues that will surely come in time. The main thing is to break the enemy first then deal with occupation. The Liberal talking point that statues have nothing to do with heritage is true. This is not about history, or ancestry or pride it is about projecting ideological power onto your enemies.
And for the Russians reading this, America’s made up heroes in colorful costumes will continue to dominate until the time when a solid majority of the country can agree on who the good guys are. As stated above America has heroes they were just forgotten, now they are officially being erased.
There is no equivalence between Western imperialists, colonizers and racists and Soviet war heroes. But there is a clear double standard in how demolishing the latter statues is somehow acceptable to Western governments. Because it fits a geopolitical agenda of rewriting the history of World War II to demean Russia.
(Click the image to enlarge)
Both Trump and the EU are turning on China for very similar reasons but with different timescales ahead of them. The West still struggles with what it requires from China and whether it wants to get rich and become a big spender, or become poorer and flood western markets with cheaper and cheaper goods. Expect more devaluation of the Yuan.
EU is “rebalancing this relationship” with China. EU ambassador to the UK João Vale de Almeida tells Chatham House. It’s not about “isolating” or “ganging up” on China, but it’s about addressing issues. We have different systems of values on human rights and other areas”.
A pretty remarkable statement to make and one which could only have come from a relatively obscure EU official, if it was based on solid support from the highest echelons of the EU in Brussels – who, in turn, would not go ahead with such a bellicose policy if they didn’t have the gilt-edged backing from France and Germany.
So, in a matter of weeks, where the EU was caught red-handed redacting its own internal report which slammed China over its COVID-19 role – and media coverage – now, we seem to be in the midst of the EU waking up to its own economy imploding and a political calamity to follow which could be the end of the EU as we know it.
The EU is starting to think about protectionism and is about to develop a new relation with China, which, we should assume means cutting less slack to Beijing on its goods, by jacking up tariffs.
In the U.S., analysts are also saying that the U.S.-China trade deal is dead in the water, chiefly due to corona crashing world oil prices, which knocked a big hold in the first phase of Trump’s deal which involved China buying huge chunks of oil and gas from the U.S. at higher prices. In reality, for most of this year China’s energy needs have also been dramatically reduced due to chaos and lockdowns which are corona-related. Trump got the first phase off to a good start by forcing China’s hand on agricultural goods which were floundering in many states which supported Trump, but the ‘art of the deal’ U.S. president is actually not very good at doing trade deals. The essence of a trade deal is its rigidity and sustainability. Trump’s barely lasted weeks. Foreign Policy, the high-brow international politics magazine, put it aptly.
“Amid the collapse in oil demand and prices unleashed by the pandemic, it is now all but certain that China will fail to meet its targets for energy purchases and expose the folly of Trump’s trade strategy” it says. “While Trump was right to address China’s problematic trade practices, the administration’s approach made little sense before the pandemic—and makes even less sense now”.
And many might argue that Trump’s determination to get a trade deal with China which helped blue collar families back home, was all about getting re-elected anyway, according to John Bolton’s bombshell book which reveals that the U.S. president right from the off was positioning the Chinese premier to help him (Trump) get re-elected. Trump believed all he needed to nail a second victory was a deal with China. Remarkable.
The toughening of both rhetoric and action now from Trump as the deal falls apart was inevitable. Almost like a petulant child, as it becomes clear that Beijing can’t keep its side of the bargain, Trump goes into self-preservation mode to deflect blame. Barely within a heartbeat, U.S. media announces news of sanctions against China on its reported concentration camps against Muslim groups, which, according to Bolton, he had secretly supported all along with Xi, which the former National Security chief claims was the “right thing to do” according to Trump.
Within seconds, almost, it’s as though if China cannot serve Trump with his specific needs, then it has to become and enemy to at least generate the requisite media traffic which continues to get Trump on the front pages. And this is what is playing out now. Already Beijing sees the game and is ready to play that role.
“We again urge the U.S. side to immediately correct its mistakes and stop using this Xinjiang-related law to harm China’s interests and interfere in China’s internal affairs,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Otherwise China will resolutely take countermeasures, and all the consequences arising there from must be fully borne by the United States.”
That sounded like a pretty lucid threat from China. Remarkably, Trump, despite the losses to business and the crippling effect on U.S. companies in China, is happy to get tough with China. There is, in fact, no limit in what he can do to get re-elected – even make friends with the Taliban, if that’s what it takes.
More remarkable is that the EU seems to be following his lead with their rationale why they should be tougher on China. Its own political survival beyond the next European elections in 2024.
With the catastrophic impact on the EU economy, many member states – not only Italy and Spain which were hit particularly hard – themselves are going to have to make tough decisions which resonate with angry voters over how to hold China accountable for the pandemic. The EU will be forced to follow this trend for its own survival as, for those member states where the political establishment save their own seats, scapegoats will be required. The Blame Game will make losers of the EU and its delusional ideas of being a super power.
Some political elites will blame Brussels and will have some success with this. And it’s as though EU chiefs are already ahead of the game, if one of its “ambassadors” in London can openly make a comment to the press which talks about a new relationship with China. Xi and his ministers will patiently wait for Trump to fall on his own sword in November, as the scandal mounts up and the pressure on the Republican party reaches fever pitch. For the EU though, there is a longer game at play, with higher stakes. But will Brussels make it to 2024 though?
Meanwhile over 1,000 members of his ship’s crew have been diagnosed with COVID.
Kelley Beaucar VLAHOS
A congressional aide confirmed to The Hill that the service will uphold its firing of Capt. Brett Crozier, who was removed from his post after a letter he wrote pleading for help with the outbreak leaked in the media.
The Navy will also place a hold on the promotion of Rear Adm. Stu Baker, the one-star commander of Carrier Strike Group 9 and the senior officer onboard the Roosevelt at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, the source said.
The hold on Baker is interesting since there was reportedly friction between the two men on the ship over how they should respond to the outbreak. Crozier’s breach was that, frustrated with what he believed was a lack of action and concern for the health of his crew, sent an unsecured transmission to top Navy officers in and outside of his chain of command to ask for immediate relief. He was relieved of duty after the email was published in The San Francisco Chronicle.
It is convenient for the brass that the news cycle and public attention have since turned to other pressing matters—reopening the country, police killings, protests. Luckily for the crew, out of the ultimately 1,273 sailors with COVID, one in five ended up being asymptomatic, a fact Crozier did not or could not know at the time of his actions.
President Donald Trump’s determination to launch a new series of campaign rallies across the American Heartland runs the enormous risk of further reviving COVID-19 and spreading it like wildfire in his core support areas. Such blow-black would prove fatal for his hopes of a reelection victory in November.
Trump has been both an ultra-conservative and nationalist president and an activist one: Until the COVID-19 virus hit, he was actually doing far better than his supercilious elitist critics on both Right and Left ever gave him credit for. But the onslaught of the pandemic has upended all his previous calculations.
What Trump needs to do to get reelected is follow the always overlooked but brilliantly successful example of America’s most underestimated president of the past century, Warren Gamaliel Harding.
The conditions under which Harding was elected a century ago are eerily familiar. The most deadly disease pandemic in U.S. history, the killer influenza, was still raging and ultimately took 600,000 lives – a comparable death toll to the U.S. Civil War and almost six times the death toll of World War I. Race riots were raging across America’s cities. Faith and trust in the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law had broken down. Scores of millions of people were out of work in the worst economic recession ever recorded to that point. It exploded in 1920 with terrifying rapidity. U.S. troops were also scattered all across the world on President Woodrow Wilson’s crazed efforts to police the entire world. They were even strung across vast regions of Siberia.
The Democrats promised a new golden age of international peace and understanding. They even had Franklin Roosevelt on their ticket as an exceptionally hard-working, charming and dynamic vice presidential candidate.
Against this supposedly formidable threat, Harding did – Nothing.
He stayed at home and ran a “front porch campaign” modeled on the last non-activist president William McKinley a quarter century before. He coined a new term “Normalcy” that the intellectuals from coast to coast sneered at. And he won, Harding’s margin of victory in 1920 was the greatest in modern American history to that point, He won a far greater mandate than any ever awarded to Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt or Wilson.
Far from being a lazy, ignorant mindless rubber stamp buffoon of a president, as 100 years of lying liberal U.S. Mainstream Media propaganda has claimed since, Harding was an exceptionally hardworking and effective Chief Executive. He brought in the nation’s foremost financier Andrew Mellon as Secretary of the Treasury and Mellon proved a stand out success in the post. Business confidence was restored in record time and the economy boomed. He quickly brought government spending under control. His secretary of state Charles Evans Hughes negotiated the most successful and biggest arms control agreement in history to that time, negotiating the Washington Navy Treaty. It was a vastly superior economic and foreign policy performance than Franklin Roosevelt ever managed until World War II bailed him out.
Harding restored law and order, He restored due process to the Department of Justice and ended Wilson’s Red Terror. He freed America’s leading Socialist, the beloved Eugene Debs, from harsh incarceration in Leavenworth federal penitentiary where Wilson had consigned him. Harding instead invited him to the White House for Christmas.
Wilson’s shameful racist imposition of anti-black segregation on the federal government and he also ended the non-constitutional Red Terror which destroyed far more lives than Senator Joe McCarthy ever dreamed of after World War II.
Harding also was the most outspoken opponent of segregation and lynching to occupy the presidency in the 76 years between Ulysses S Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. So outspoken was he on behalf of basic civil rights for African Americans that racist Southerners claimed (falsely) that he must have back grandparents or other antecedents himself, since why else, they argued could he bother caring for black people at all?
Harding died of overwork in 1923, and over worry and shame over the Teapot Dome oil scandal. Like another great and shamefully underestimated Chief Executive, Grant after the Civil War, his one mortal weakness was that he was a good and honest man. who took people at their word and actually believed they would always tell him the truth. But he laid the foundation for a decade of the greatest economic boom in the history of the world bringing more prosperity to more ordinary human beings than had ever been thought possible before.
So great was Harding’s achievement that two more vastly inferior presidents – the ultra-passive Calvin Coolidge, who suffered debilitating depression throughout his presidency over the death of his son, and the humorless, catastrophically rigid Herbert Hoover were both elected on his legacy.
Today, Trump should embrace Harding as his last best hope. After all, Harding, like Trump maintained high tariff barriers to protect U.S. industry and agriculture. Like Trump, he stood for upholding law and order and fair play for African-Americans. And like Trump, he could boast of an outstanding business and finance record in office.
Also like Trump, Harding was wary of getting involved in any more endless overseas wars. He sought to bring home the U.S. armies from around the globe that his predecessor had manically scattered them. Just as Trump despises and distrusts the United Nations, Harding felt the same way towards its predecessor, the League of Nations.
However, Trump is likely still to lose in November because he is clearly incapable of learning wise, canny old Warren Harding’s most fundamental lesson: He does not know how to shut up.
To an America devastated by the great flu pandemic, disgusted by the horrors of World War I and sick and tired of Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and their endless speechifying, Harding came across as the embodiment of decency, restraint, kindness and good sense. When he died in 1923, the mourning for him was the greatest outpouring of grief for any sitting president since the death of Lincoln. It was vastly greater than for the passing of either Theodore Roosevelt in 1920 or Woodrow Wilson a few months later in 1924.
If former vice president Joe Biden wins in November, he is likely to prove a brief serving and catastrophic president – too old , too infirm and too wedded to reviving the catastrophic – and anti-Russian – policies of his old boss and friend Barack Obama.
But Biden, of all people, has learned the political, campaigning lessons of Warren Harding well. It is he, not Trump, who is staying at home as the COVID-19 pandemic still rages. It is he who is quietly building a solid, and probably eventually commanding lead in the polls. It is he who is projecting the image of decency, caring and fatherly reassurance. And it is he who offers the mirage of “normalcy” a return to (supposedly) better and more reassuring times.
If Trump can grab those brand recognition motifs from Biden he can still win, and even win big. But if he did that, he would have to abandon the lifelong persona of “Trump” that has served him so well for so long. And that he cannot do.
So, it will be Biden who wears the false sheepskin of reassuring wise and successful old Warren Harding. But his appalling policies will still be those of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, to his own country and entire world’s eternal ruin.
Mexico’s oligarchs and establishment political parties have united in a secret alliance to try to remove left-wing President López Obrador from power, with help from the media, Washington, and Wall Street. Leaked documents lay out their devious strategy.
Some of the most powerful forces in Mexico are uniting in a campaign to try to topple the country’s first left-wing president in decades, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. And they apparently have support in Washington and on Wall Street.
Known popularly as AMLO, the Mexican leader is a progressive nationalist who campaigned on the promise to “end the dark night of neoliberalism.” He has since implemented a revolutionary vision he calls the “Fourth Transformation,” vowing to fight poverty, corruption, and drug violence — and has increasingly butted heads with his nation’s wealthy elites.
López Obrador has also posed a challenge to the US foreign-policy consensus. His government provided refuge to Bolivia’s elected socialist President Evo Morales and to members of Evo’s political party who were exiled after a Trump administration-backed military coup.
AMLO also held a historic meeting with Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel, and even stated Mexico would be willing to break the unilateral US blockade of Venezuela and sell the besieged Chavista government gasoline.
These policies have earned AMLO the wrath of oligarchs both inside and outside of his country. On June 18, the US government ratcheted up its pressure on Mexico, targeting companies and individuals with sanctions for allegedly providing water to Venezuela, as part of an oil-for-food humanitarian agreement.
The value of the Mexican peso immediately dropped by 2 percent following the Trump administration’s imposition of sanctions.
These opening salvos of Washington’s economic war on its southern neighbor came just days after López Obrador delivered a bombshell press conference, in which he revealed that the political parties that had dominated Mexican politics for the decades before him have secretly unified in a plot to try to oust the president, years before his democratic mandate ends in 2024.
The forces trying to remove AMLO from power include major media networks, massive corporations, sitting governors and mayors, former presidents, and influential business leaders. According to a leaked document, they call themselves the Broad Opposition Block (Bloque Opositor Amplio, or BOA).
And they say they have lobbyists in Washington, financial investors on Wall Street, and major news publications and journalists from both domestic and foreign media outlets on their team.
El pdte. @lopezobrador_ difundió un documento llegado a Palacio (cuyo origen y autenticidad desconocemos) que propone la conformación de un bloque opositor para arrebatar la presidencia en el 2021, en el que participan partidos, empresarios, medios, intelectuales, periodistas. pic.twitter.com/zfXSlGdUYP
— Jesús Ramírez Cuevas (@JesusRCuevas) June 9, 2020
In a press conference on June 9, the Mexican government published a leaked strategy document purportedly drafted by the Broad Opposition Block, titled “Let’s Rescue Mexico” (Rescatemos a México). The AMLO administration said it did not know the origin of the leak.
These pages consist of an executive summary of “Project BOA,” outlining what it calls a “plan of action” – a blueprint of concrete steps the opposition alliance will take to unseat AMLO.
One of the key points in the plan is the following: “Lobbying by the BOA in Washington (White House and Capital Hill) to stress the damage that the government of the [Fourth Transformation] is doing to North American investors.”
The lobbying strategy depends heavily on turning the US against AMLO: “More than comparing it with Venezuela,” the document reads, “BOA should highlight the very high mass migration of Mexicans toward the United States if the crisis of unemployment and insecurity gets worse.”
Then the BOA adds: “Repeat this narrative in the US and European media.”
The leaked pages say that BOA has the “international press (USA and Europe)” on its side, along with “foreign correspondents in Mexico.”
The document even names specific media outlets, along with individual journalists and social media influencers, who could help spread their anti-AMLO propaganda. On the list are some of the top news publications in Mexico: Nexos, Proceso, Reforma, El Universal, Milenio, El Financiero, and El Economista.
The list of sympathetic anti-AMLO media outlets and journalists in the BOA document
The “plan of action” makes it clear that this powerful opposition alliance seeks to use its extensive control over the media to obsessively blame AMLO for “unemployment, poverty, insecurity, and corruption” in Mexico.
BOA even states unambiguously in its plan that it will use “groups of social media networks, influencers, and analysts to insist on the destruction of the economy, of the democratic institutions, and the political authoritarianism of the government of the 4T” (using an acronym for the Fourth Transformation process).
This makes it especially ironic that the BOA document reluctantly acknowledges that the López Obrador “government has managed to mitigate the economic impact of the health crisis of coronavirus by giving large amounts of public money to the affected, through social programs.”
The leaked pages likewise admit that AMLO has an approval rating of more than 50 percent — lower than his peak at 86 percent support in the beginning of 2019 or his 72 percent at the end of the year, but still impressive for a region where US-backed leaders like Chile’s Sebastián Piñera or Colombia’s Iván Duque have routinely enjoyed approval ratings of 6 percent and 24 percent, respectively.
#ConferenciaPresidente. Presentan un documento confidencial de un presunto Bloque Opositor Amplio (BOA) para desplazar a Morena y al gobierno actual en las elecciones del 2021. pic.twitter.com/ffoGXoWuVH
— Jenaro Villamil (@jenarovillamil) June 9, 2020
With backing from the US government and utter dominance of media narratives, the Broad Opposition Block plan is to unite all of Mexico’s establishment political parties.
Together, these parties could potentially run candidates under the BOA umbrella, according to the document. Their goal would be, in the 2021 legislative elections, to end the majority that AMLO’s left-wing party Morena won in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies.
After that, BOA states clearly that it plans to block reforms in the Mexican legislature, and ultimately impeach President López Obrador by 2022 — at least two years before his term ends.
Quite revealing is that the “Let’s Rescue Mexico” document does not mention anything about average working-class Mexicans and their participation in the political process. Nor does it acknowledge the existence of labor unions or grassroots activist organizations, which make up the base of AMLO’s movement and his Morena party.
This is not surprising, considering the BOA alliance lists some of the most powerful figures in the Mexican ruling class.
All the major political parties are included: the right-wing National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, or PAN), the center-right Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI), the centrist Citizens’ Movement (Movimiento Ciudadano, or MC), and even AMLO’s former Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, or PRD).
BOA also includes the new political party México Libre, a vehicle for former right-wing President Felipe Calderón, a major ally of George W. Bush who declared a catastrophic “war on drugs” in Mexico, leading to tens of thousands of deaths.
Along with Calderón, BOA lists former President Vicente Fox, another right-wing US ally, as a coalition ally. Fox worked closely with the Bush administration during his term as president to isolate the leftist governments in Latin America, and even tried to undemocratically remove AMLO as mayor of Mexico City and ban him from running for president.
BOA also says it has support from the governors of 14 states in Mexico, along with opposition lawmakers in both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, judges from the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary (TEPJF), and officials from the National Electoral Institute (INE).
Wall Street investors and Mexican oligarchs back anti-AMLO alliance
Joining the entire Mexican political establishment in the Broad Opposition Block is a powerful financial oligarchy, both domestic and foreign.
Along with its “anti-4T lobbyists in Washington,” the leaked document says BOA has “Wall Street investment funds” behind it.
BOA adds that it is supported by “corporations linked to T-MEC,” using the Spanish acronym for the new “United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement” free-trade deal, known popularly as NAFTA 2.0.
Some of the richest capitalists in Mexico are associated with BOA. Named in the leaked document is the Mexican corporate behemoth FEMSA and oligarchs from its associated Monterrey Group, which the New York Times once described as a “a tightly knit family of wealthy and conservative businessmen.”
The BOA pages also point to Mexico’s powerful Business Coordinating Council (Consejo Coordinador Empresarial) and Employers Confederation of the Mexican Republic (Coparmex) as allies.
Opposition denies involvement in BOA, while turning up heat on AMLO
In the days after López Obrador’s press conference exposing the Broad Opposition Block, some of the prominent figures implicated in the alliance, such Felipe Calderón, denied involvement.
Some of these political and economic elites even claimed BOA doesn’t exist, seeking to cast doubt on the president’s scandalous revelation and accusing him of fabricating the scandal.
But their efforts are clearly part of a larger campaign by Mexican opposition groups to remove President Andrés Manuel López Obrador from power. As AMLO’s Fourth Transformation moves forward, their destabilization tactics have grown increasingly extreme.
López Obrador himself has warned of the radicalization of the right-wing opposition. As The Grayzone previously reported, the president made an ominous reference to the threat of a potential coup in November 2019.
Referencing Mexico’s former President Francisco Madero, a leader of the Mexican Revolution and fellow left-winger who was assassinated in 1913, AMLO tweeted, “How wrong the conservatives and their hawks are… Now is different… Another coup d’état won’t be allowed.”
¡Qué equivocados están los conservadores y sus halcones!
Pudieron cometer la felonía de derrocar y asesinar a Madero porque este hombre bueno, Apóstol de la Democracia, no supo, o las circunstancias no se lo permitieron, apoyarse en una base social que lo protegiera y respaldara
— Andrés Manuel (@lopezobrador_) November 2, 2019
The next part in this investigative series by The Grayzone will show how far-right forces in Mexico are pushing for a coup against AMLO.
Protesters are toppling slaveowner-statues from one end of the U.S. to the other. Given that slavery is nothing more than legalized kidnapping, the only surprise is that it’s taken them so long. No one would honor Jeffrey Epstein with a statue, so why honor generations of rapists and child molesters who came before him?
But there’s no point toppling slaveholders without toppling what slaveholders wrought, up to and including their greatest achievement of all – the U.S. Constitution. This is the document that not only governs life in the United States down to the tiniest legal detail, but, thanks to America’s global hegemony, undergirds the international system as well.
Yet the Constitution is a plan of government created by slaveholders for slaveholders in order to maintain their wealth and perpetuate their grip on power. Of the 55 delegates to the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787, twenty-five were slaveowners, which was more than enough to give them an effective veto over the proceedings as a whole. Slaveholders were economically predominant in six of the thirteen states – Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia – which was more than sufficient to stop the constitutional process in its tracks since Article VII stipulated that nine had to approve the new constitution before it could become law.
So the rest had no choice but to go along. Not everyone in America supported slavery. To the contrary, Massachusetts and New Hampshire had already banned it by 1787 while Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island had passed gradual abolition laws that were putting it on the road to extinction. But slaveowners were influential in swing states like New York and New Jersey, while they were so rich and powerful in the south – George Washington was worth better than half a billion dollars in today’s money – that New England abolitionists had no choice but to go along.
As a result, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a member of the Philadelphia convention, was able to reassure his fellow South Carolina plantation owners that the new constitution would render the south’s “peculiar institution” impregnable. “In short,” he said, “considering all circumstances, we have made the best terms for the security of this species of property it was in our power to make. We would have made better if we could; but on the whole, I do not think them bad.”
So strong was slavery’s position, in fact, that Abraham Lincoln conceded as late as 1861 that he had “no lawful right” to “interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists.” In the end, the only way abolitionists were able to get around this legal blockade was by launching an extra-constitutional civil war, a brutal four-year slog through blood and mire that ended up costing the life of one American in fifty, a level of carnage relative to population that was double that of the French Revolution of 1789-94.
This was the “covenant with death and an agreement with hell” that the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison denounced in 1854. As Albany Law School professor Paul Finkelman noted in a 2013 article, the Constitution included half a dozen or more provisions that rendered slavery untouchable. Article I guaranteed that the African slave trade would continue for more than twenty years – until 1808, to be exact. Article IV required northern states to return slaves trying to escape to freedom, while Articles I and IV contained separate clauses empowering Congress to put down slave rebellions. Article I prohibited taxes on slave-produced exports, while, in general, the document’s division of powers conceded vast areas of domestic policy, slavery first and foremost, to the states.
Three features were particularly important. One was a senate based on equal state representation. Since Congress controlled new states entering the Union, this allowed slave states to maintain a rough parity with the North that would allow them to veto any and all bills right up to the Civil War. A second was a notorious clause in Article I allowing southern states to count slaves as three-fifths of a person for purposes of congressional apportionment. The upshot was to give slave states as many as twenty-five extra seats in the House of Representatives, as well as up to twenty-five extra votes in the Electoral College. This is why Thomas Jefferson was able to triumph by eight electoral votes over John Adams of Massachusetts in the 1800 presidential race. It’s also why eleven of the fifteen presidents prior to Lincoln were slaveowners – because the South had stacked the deck. (Besides the two Adamses, John and John Quincy, the only exceptions were a couple of northern nonentities who were pro-slavery nonetheless – Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire and James Buchanan of Pennsylvania.)
The third major weapon in the slaveholders’ arsenal was Article V, which governs how the Constitution can be amended and which is so slanted to minority interests that it allows just over one-third of either house of Congress or one-fourth-plus of the states to veto any constitutional alteration, no matter how minor. So steep are the barriers to reform, Finkelman points out, that slavery conceivably be with U.S. still if Union forces hadn’t abolished it at gunpoint.
But what’s important in terms of today’s protesters is that while slavery may be gone, its legacy is not. Thanks to equal state representation, the Senate is even more lopsided than it was in the mid-nineteenth century and hardly less racist since blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately concentrated in the ten largest states that are outvoted four to one by the minority of Americans who live in the other forty. Article V still allows one-fourth-plus of the states – i.e. thirteen states representing as little as 4.4 percent of the population – to veto any constitutional reform. Since most of the small states tend to be lily-white bastions like Wyoming, the Dakotas, and Vermont, it’s not difficult to guess whose interests wind up being served.
Then there’s the three-fifths clause. To be sure, the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified three years after the Civil War, supposedly rendered it moot by declaring that congressional representation “shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state.” But the after-effects linger on. If it wasn’t for the three-fifths clause, we wouldn’t have the Electoral College since its entire purpose was to augment the power of the slave states over the presidency. But if it wasn’t for the Electoral College, we wouldn’t have Donald Trump, who won in 2016 by 306 electoral votes to 232 despite trailing by better than two percent in the popular vote.
So contrary to an endlessly reactionary Democratic Party, it wasn’t Russia that put Trump, but a superannuated constitution that people like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer revere.
Finally, there’s the police. As Finkelman points out, southern states pushed for a constitutional arrangement that granted them maximum local autonomy. They wanted a monopoly on local power so they could deal with both runaway slaves and poor white farmers for whom slavery was economically devastating. But the upshot centuries later are myriads of local police departments – nearly 18,000 in all – answerable to no one other than local politicians who are every bit as benighted as they are. They have a license to kill as a consequence because that’s the way slaveholders wanted at the time, an arrangement that no one’s been able to do a thing about since because America’s untouchable eighteenth-century constitution means that it’s all but set in stone.
So go ahead – topple all those status of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and other child-snatchers. But don’t forget to topple the plan of government they created. Slavery may be gone, but its ghost is with us still, which is why it’s time to exorcize it once and for all.
Last week, the world’s most populous nations, India and China, both nuclear armed, clashed in the high Himalayan region of Ladakh.
At least 20 Indian troops died and 12 were reportedly taken prisoner before a cease-fire went into effect. So far, there were no reports of Chinese casualties.
Ladakh is one of the world’s most remote, obscure and inhospitable places, a plateau averaging 4,200 meters altitude (about 14,000 feet) with frigid temperatures, scant oxygen, little rainfall, and howling winds. This bleak moonscape has long been called ‘Little Tibet’ because of its semi-nomadic ethnic Tibetan yak-herders. China has pretty much crushed the life out of Tibet’s ancient culture while India has helped preserve the Tibetan way of life.
China and India’s confrontation in airless Ladakh reminds me of the ‘bon mot’ about Ethiopia and Eritrea’s battle over the barren Ogaden desert region between them: ‘two bald men fighting over a comb.’
I’ve been over much of Ladakh by jeep, foot and even yak, and atop the world’s highest glacier, Siachen, that overlooks Ladakh. India and Pakistan have been fighting over Siachen for decades, making it the highest war in history and another crazy conflict. As a Pakistani officer told me, ‘we hate one another so much we will fight to prevent them from occupying our part of Hell.’
My book ‘War at the Top of the World’ (available through Amazon) is all about the conflict in the Himalayas and Kashmir between India, Pakistan and China.
So why are China and India at daggers drawn over the Galwan River Valley in Ladakh? Both are busy dealing with the coronavirus epidemic. Delhi and Beijing have conducted off and on diplomacy to ease Himalayan border tensions.
The clash in Ladakh was no accident but clearly a planned offensive act by China – and the biggest military operation since the two Asian giants went to war in the Himalayas in 1962, producing a serious defeat for India. China then said the war was a ‘serious message’ to India to restrain its ambitions in the region.
This time, it appears that the Chinese sent another ‘message’ to India. Part of this problem was due to the British Empire which never properly demarcated its Himalayan borders between the British Indian Raj and then independent Tibet. Some borders were never surveyed; others drawn with thick pens, leaving whole regions with unclear borders. But in those days no one cared about the vast emptiness at 14-17,000 feet. That is, until China moved in an occupied Tibet in 1950-1951, putting it on India’s northern border.
Since then, India and China have been uneasy rivals with both sides laying claims to parts of the Himalayas, Karakorams and the great rivers that course down from the Tibetan Plateau, providing water for much of Southeast Asia’s peoples.
Two recent issues have sparked the latest round of fighting – with threats of a much bigger war between Asia’s two giants. First, India’s new Hindu nationalist government under PM Narendra Modi has made no secret of its growing hostility to both China and its close ally, Pakistan, India’s longtime rival.
Modi’s revoking of Kashmir’s autonomous status and its division into two states has created major new tensions in the region. So have Modi’s plans to fashion a purely Hindu state in India, and China’s growing influence over Burma.
But a more important source of China’s anger has been growing efforts of the Trump administration to build a close military alliance with India to counter-balance China’s increasing military power.
Though seeming counter-intuitive to Trumps’ efforts to secure re-election by getting Beijing to buy more produce from American farmers, the Pentagon is preparing for a future war with China. Trump came close to facing military coup in recent weeks and is trying to avoid angering the Pentagon and Washington’s active and retired military establishment.
Meanwhile, the fiercely anti-Muslim White House has quietly allowed four million Hindu Indians to emigrate to the United States as a way of countering the growing number of Muslims in our nation. Trump even offered to mediate the intractable Kashmir dispute, a proposal scorned by all sides.
The timing of a Russia-India-China summit next week could not be more apt following a deadly skirmish in the disputed Himalayan region which resulted in dozens of military casualties.
The summit scheduled for June 22 of the RIC (Russia-India-China) group was initiated weeks ago by Moscow. It will be held by teleconference between the foreign ministers. The event predates the flare-up in dangerous tensions between New Delhi and Beijing.
At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed earlier this week in hand-to-hand fighting with Chinese forces. It was the deadliest incident in more than half a century since the two Asian powers fought a brief war in 1962 over similar border dispute. There are dozens of casualties also reported on the Chinese side, but Beijing has not officially confirmed numbers.
New Delhi and Beijing immediately expressed willingness at the highest level to deescalate the tensions. There is mutual recognition that further clashes could spin disastrously out of control between the nuclear-armed states.
However, the acrimony will not be easy to contain. Both sides have blamed the other for aggression following the bloody incident on Monday-Tuesday night. There is popular anger in both nations with Indian protesters burning images of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Reports say hundreds of soldiers were engaged in a pitched battle using rocks, clubs and knives after opposing units became involved in a brawl in the high-altitude Galwan Valley. Many soldiers were thrown to their deaths from treacherous slopes.
Indian and Chinese forces patrol the disputed 3,500-km Line of Actual Control between the two countries with competing territorial claims. A bilateral agreement stipulates that the rival units are unarmed in order to reduce risk of conflict.
Confrontations have increased in recent years with both sides accusing the other of encroachment. Following a border skirmish in May, Indian and Chinese army commanders negotiated a de-escalation deal earlier this month. Now both sides are accusing each other of bad faith.
The RIC summit may provide a path for New Delhi and Beijing to find a way out of escalation. One crucial factor is Russia’s respected standing with both powers. Russian President Vladimir Putin has cordial relations with both Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping. Moscow can be trusted to act as an honest broker to facilitate dialogue for resolving the long-running territorial dispute between India and China, a dispute which goes back to the legacy of the British Empire and the contested borders it bequeathed.
U.S. President Donald Trump has already offered to mediate between India and China. But that offer, made in May, was rebuffed at the time by New Delhi. It was perceived that Washington is not a credible broker, given its well-established alignment with India for strategic-military aims against China. Indian premier Modi may have felt the patronage of Washington would undermine his credibility as a strong leader in dealing with China on a one-to-one basis.
In any case, any pretensions of Trump acting as a mediator have been blown apart since his administration ratcheted up China-bashing over the Covid-19 pandemic. Trump and his aides have made incendiary claims blaming China for causing global spread of the disease and in particular huge economic damages and more than 112,000 deaths in the U.S. Beijing has dismissed Washington’s claims as a cynical cover-up of inherent failures on the part of the Trump administration.
The Cold War-like tensions between Washington and Beijing have also seen an increasing deployment of U.S. military forces in the Asia-Pacific region to counter what the Trump administration and Pentagon provocatively claims to be “Chinese aggression”.
Any involvement of the U.S. in the current India-China tensions can only make the already fraught situation even worse. Indeed, the Trump White House and anti-China hawks in Congress will try to exploit the tensions with a view to destabilize Beijing.
India should tread carefully to avoid being used by Washington as a proxy for its geopolitical confrontation with China.
In an editorial this week, China’s semi-official Global Times accused India of being misled by Washington as a “lever” for the latter’s own strategic goals.
If New Delhi and Beijing are genuinely motivated to find a negotiated settlement to their decades-old territorial dispute, they will have to work together to find a mutual compromise on defining a sovereign border, one that finally supplants the diffuse Line of Actual Control. The incoherence of the LAC is an-ever present source of contention and ultimately a tinderbox for war.
Russia is the only power with bona fides and credibility as an honest broker for resolving the India-China conflict.
New Delhi will have to decide if it wants to fully engage with the Eurasian multipolar vision of development espoused by China and Russia, among others, or will it allow Washington to interfere with its selfish imperialist agenda to the detriment of the entire region?
International Man: Recently, massive riots have broken out in many cities across the US.
Despite the unrest—and the economic damage from the shutdowns—the stock market continues to rally.
It seems that markets don’t reflect earnings, economic prosperity, or growth. What is going on here?
David Stockman: It’s quite simple. The Fed has unleashed the greatest torrent of liquidity ever, and it’s finding its way into a relentless, massive bid for risk assets.
Since the eve of the Lockdown Nation disaster on March 11, the Fed’s balance sheet has erupted from $4.3 trillion to nearly $7.2 trillion. That’s $32 billion per day—including weekends, Easter, and nationwide riot days.
Worse still, at their June meeting, the mad money printers domiciled in the Eccles Building promised to keep printing $120 billion per month to buy US Treasuries and other assets for an indefinite period. That should get us to a $10 trillion balance in less than two years’ time.
What this means, of course, is that honest price discovery in the canyons of Wall Street is deader than a doornail. We now have a putative capitalist economy in which the most important prices in all of capitalism—the prices of financial assets—are pegged, rigged, and manipulated by the central banking agents of the state.
The result, of course, is speculation and malinvestment on a biblical scale.
As to the former, we are now being treated to the preposterous spectacle of an IBO—or Initial Bankruptcy Offer—of the stock of bankrupt Hertz.
Hertz’s stock is worthless. It’s pinned under a pile of $20 billion of debt—senior debt securities, which are trading at 40 cents on the dollar—and a vastly overvalued fleet of vehicles.
All this is in a world in which airline and business travel has been crushed by more than 80% from trends and won’t be coming back any time soon—so long as Dr. Fauci and the Virus Patrol are stalking the land.
Yet the unhinged millennials—who idle their ample time and de minimis money on the Robinhood trading platform—have bid up Hertz’s post-chapter 11 stock price by more than 10X, thereby inducing a mainstream investment banking firm to propose underwriting a $1 billion stock offering in lieu of a debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan!
Never before has it been this crazy.
And, yet, the empty suit who sits in the top chair at the Fed keeps insisting this is all being done for Main Street and the workers, and as Powell said in his June presser, the Fed has no asset price target in mind at all; it just wants to keep financial markets functioning smoothly.
What hay wagon does this doofus think we fell off from?
Whether they intend it or not, their massive infusions of liquidity into the financial markets and relentless bid for financial assets funded with fiat credits has redounded to the top 1% and 10% who own 53% and 88% of equities, respectively, and it’s setting up the financial system for the third—and most spectacular—crash of this century, which, in turn, will wipe out what remains of middle-class wealth.
International Man: Over 40 million Americans are unemployed. Many small and medium-sized businesses will never reopen. Many must survive not only an extended lockdown but also the most severe riots in decades.
How are the riots and shutdown going to affect Main Street?
David Stockman: It’s a devastating combo and originates in the most senseless, destructive act of the state in modern times—if ever.
We are referring to the sweeping quarantine and lockdown orders that caused instant economic heart attacks in vast sectors of the US economy after mid-March.
There is no precedent in history for activity levels in huge industries like airline travel to plunge by more than 95% virtually overnight, or the restaurant sector, where Open Table reservations dropped by 80% versus prior year in a matter of days.
Not surprisingly, there have been nearly 50 million unemployment claims (counting the new federal benefit) in just 11 weeks—a figure which amounts to nearly 32% of the 158 million employed Americans as of February 2020.
Indeed, not even the bubble-blowing, crack-up boom antics of the Fed have ever created the kind of depressionary collapse now underway.
Yet its propagators—Dr. Fauci and the Virus Patrol at the CDC, NIAID, WHO, Big Pharma and the Bill Gates camarilla of foundations, think tanks, NGOs, and vaccine lobbies—have been peddling a Big Lie from day one.
Namely, that COVID-19 is the modern equivalent of the Black Plague and spreads its deathly pathogens on a random basis to all segments of the population—the young, the old, the healthy, the sick, and all variations in between—with equal alacrity.
That’s not even remotely true.
There are 104 million young people in the USA under 25 years of age, and as of the end of May, the mortality rate with COVID was, well, 0.12 per 100,000 population.
That is, all the schools, bars, gyms, restaurants, movie theaters where they congregate were shut down by orders of the governors and mayors, but it would take a million of these young people to generate just one death attributable to the COVID.
And we emphasize the with COVID part because the CDC changed its coding criteria at the beginning of the pandemic, and now they are coding as “COVID deaths” virtually everyone who dies in a hospital—even cases where someone arrives DOA at the emergency room after a traffic accident and tests positive for the coronavirus on a post-mortem basis.
By contrast, there are 6.5 million Americans with an age of 85 or over—representing 2% of the population—but they accounted for 33% of the CDC reported deaths of May 30, and that represented a mortality rate of 450 per 100,000.
So, the risk of death with COVID for what we call the Great Grandparents Nation is 3,750 times greater than for America’s School Age Nation.
Yet the mass quarantine orders amount to a one-size-fits-all attack on everyday economic and social life when the obvious thing to do was to keep the schools open and isolate, protect, support, and treat the grandparents and great grandparents.
In fact, if you take the entire population of 52 million persons 65 years and older, they account for fully 81% of all COVID deaths—with upwards of 50% of these fatalities attributable to residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. As a matter of reality, residents of the latter do not frequent bars, gyms, movie theaters, offices, bus stations, and factories, essential, nonessential, and otherwise.
The general population never should have been quarantined.
Even among the core of what we call the Parents and Workers Nation, the 83 million people between 35 and 54 years of age, the with COVID mortality rate is just 7.0 per 100,000. That is, for this group, the risk of death from contracting the coronavirus is not much higher than what is incurred in commuting to work and back, day in and day out.
In short, the whole Lockdown Nation fiasco was a mutant exercise in social engineering that will leave Main Street battered and bruised for years to come—long after the coronavirus completes its infection cycle and succumbs to the summertime sun in most parts of the nation.
And that gets us to the George Floyd uprising, which was overwhelmingly comprised of under-35-somethings breaking out of house arrest and mad as hell about their now dramatically reduced prospects in life—which weren’t all that compelling in the first place.
Just consider that the overwhelming share of leisure and hospitality industry workers are in the under-35 age cohort. Yet the 17 million jobs reported by the BLS in this sector as of February had plunged to hardly 8 million by the end of April.
Even worse, average hours declined, too, so what we had at the end of April was an industry which had shrunk back to October 1979 levels in terms of labor hours actually deployed and paychecks issued.
So, the authorities sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind, but on such a gigantic scale as to make the future fraught like never before.
There are 80 million persons aged 16–34 in the US, and during the long, hot summer ahead, an overwhelming share of them will be unemployed. It doesn’t take too much imagination to see that the current, so-called social justice uprising is just developing an explosive head of steam.
International Man: During the COVID lockdown, Trump and Democratic governors were at odds. We saw a similar dynamic occur with the recent riots.
How do you see this impacting the presidential election?
David Stockman: It will just exacerbate the red/blue divide like never before.
Trump will posture as the nation’s super sheriff and the Dems as the champions of a cavalcade of victims—some real, though mostly politically invented—who deserve help from the heavy hand of the state.
In other words, the upcoming campaign will be a contest between the Trumpian law-and-order form of big government and the liberal-progressive-socialist version of the leviathan state. And what’s going to get crushed by the clash is the Constitution, fiscal solvency, Federalism, free enterprise, and personal liberty.
The fact is, neither party’s agenda has any legitimate place in the halls of government. The identity politics and racialist agenda of the Dems is simply a brazen abuse of the democratic process for the purpose of winning and retaining the perks, pelfs, and powers of public office.
But the Donald’s law-and-order demagoguery is just as bad.
The solution to mismanaged riots in the blue state cities and juvenile stunts like the six-block Autonomous Zone in Seattle is Federalism. That is, law enforcement is a state and local function that should never have been elevated to the federal level in the first place.
We should get rid of the FBI, DEA, ATF, and the rest of the law enforcement alphabet of bureaucratic fiefdoms by repealing the War on Drugs and the rest of the nanny state statutes.
There is no reason whatsoever that legitimate law enforcement—protection of the lives and property of the citizenry—cannot be handled by the 17,000 law enforcement agencies operative at the state and local level.
And if they are not doing the job, well, that is the purpose of elections to remedy—not some Bully Boy tweeting from the Oval Office.
And if elections chronically fail in their purpose in certain deep Blue State jurisdictions, there is a solution to that, too, which does not require sending in the Feds from Washington. To wit, people and businesses will vote with their feet, and eventually, even the likes of Governor Cuomo and Bill De Blasio would get the message.
The rate at which events are accelerating makes prediction a fool’s game. But I’ll take a shot at it, since I’ve been called a heck of a lot worse than ‘fool’ in my life.
Since the rioting began after the death of George Floyd it’s been obvious to anyone with any experience in covering global politics that these have been a directed operation aimed at undermining the presidency of Donald Trump here in the U.S.
The formation of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in downtown Seattle is the latest in a series of provocations and escalations intended to goad Trump into invoking the Insurrection Act of 1878 and deploying the military to put down these riots endlessly promoted by a complicit media in the West as mostly ‘peaceful protests.’
They are anything but that.
This is a situation that, because of the subsidization of it by the Mayor, Jenny Durkan, and the Governor, Jay Inslee, that will persist just long enough to descend into violence and chaos. Note how I don’t use the word anarchy.
Because we’ve already seen a form of government form in the CHAZ, with a governing council, a constitution of sorts and decrees of white people paying reparations to black members of the community.
Raz Simone, like a latter day Issac Hayes – the Duke — from John Carpenter’s now prophetic Escape from New York, is passing out AR-15s and AK-47s to keep the peace of the gun. And in no time some pigs will become far more equal than others.
But, even if my worst predictions about the CHAZ do not come to pass, since it is very much a tactical operation in the grander strategy to undermine and delegitimize Trump, there will still likely be violence.
All we have to do is look at what happened in other so-called color revolutions that piggy-backed on legitimate protests against existing, corrupt governments.
This reminds me of the situation in Ukraine in 2014 where the protests on the Maidan plaza in Kiev turned violent when snipers began shooting from rooftops. And to this day there are questions as to who shot who and what actually happened.
But given that a peaceful stability in the CHAZ serves no one in power, on either side of the political divide, the likelihood of a similar provocation is very, very high.
The way I see this, the people in the CHAZ are pawns in a much larger game being played by the power elite many of them want to overthrow.
All it takes is one agent provocateur, one guy with a rifle and a narrative springs into being.
If there is one thing that is abundantly clear after four years of watching this escalation in the U.S. it is that there is nothing Trump’s enemies won’t do to make things worse.
Because, in the end, this is about far more than Trump. This is about moving the U.S. into a failed political and economic state. The economic destruction is already well underway thanks to the persistence of the COVID-19 insanity.
The new normal of face masks and social distancing highlight the sheer cowardice of the corporate managerial class and the complicity of the corporate leadership, as The Saker pointed out in a recent post. He asks the question that if money isn’t the object of this corporate ‘bowing to the mob’ what is at stake.
The answer, of course, is power:
Specifically, the U.S. deep state – at a major faction within that deep state – is clearly desperate to get rid of Trump (and *not* for the right reasons, of which there are plenty).
There are plenty of signs that illustrate that Trump is even losing control of the Executive, including Secretary Esper contradicting Trump on what is a key issue – restoring law and order – or the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea voicing support for BLM (I consider that these actions by top officials against their own Commander in Chief border on treason). Needless to say, the pro-Dems neo-libs at Slate immediately began dreaming about, and calling for, a military revolt against Trump.
And that new normal now separates Americans along yet another vector, one much subtler than wearing a MAGA hat or sporting a ‘Coexist’ bumper sticker on their hybrid.
And that’s exactly why I think there’s going to be some kind of Maidan-like event in the CHAZ if President Trump continues to refuse to take the bait and roll the tanks in, metaphorically, to break it up.
But, ultimately, this isn’t Trump’s job, it is the job of the local elected officials to provide services to protect the property and livelihoods of their constituents. But that’s not what’s on display in Seattle.
It isn’t on display in New York City either where Mayor Bill DeBlasio is doing everything he can to disarm and delegitimize his own police force and enflame tensions by allowing looters to run wild while enforcing social distancing rules against Hasidic Jews trying to worship in peace.
This is a movie whose ending I’ve seen before and I didn’t like it the previous times I watched it. What’s sad is that the people who’ve released this one are the same ones who released the previous ones.
It’s a tragedy which, frankly, as I’ve talked about ad nauseum. Trump has invited this onto himself because of his own weakness to confront his attackers while engaging in similar behavior against countries he doesn’t like – Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Venezuela.
No one in the international community will shed one tear if Trump is deposed in November or during his second term. Many of us Americans recognize his faults and what they’ve wrought but still understand that the alternative to him is the restoration of the worst parts of the Empire.
His only true accomplishment to date has been staying in power in a White House where his power has steadily eroded to the point of near irrelevancy. If he doesn’t make substantive moves to neutralize those behind the CHAZ he will be the one blamed when it explodes.
How about a bill withholding all federal funds from Yale University until it changes its name? The school’s namesake, Elihu Yale, was not only a slave owner, but a slave trader.
Quite a dilemma for the little snots who attend and teach there! It will be tremendously damaging to their brand. After all, true sublimity for a Social Justice Warrior is virtue signaling and advertising their high SAT scores at the same time.
Elihu Yale was certainly that: a slave trader, and a cruel man. Yale University bears his name because he was an early benefactor of the school.
Yale changed the name of Calhoun College in 2017, because its namesake, 19th century Yale alumnus John C. Calhoun, was pro-slavery. So why is Yale not jettisoning its name? Why the hypocrisy?
The answer, of course, is that “Yale” is a global brand of almost matchless prestige. In terms of branding — which is not the same as quality — Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge are among its only competitors. To surrender “Yale” would be a severe blow to the value of a Yale diploma, precisely because of the sense of elite identity Yale has accrued over the centuries.
So, how serious do the leftist Yalies — alumni, faculty, administrators, and students — take their moral commitment? They are very happy to strip other people of their problematic historical identities, in the name of moral purity. How do they justify not applying the same standards to themselves?
Surely it cannot be the case that they want other people to pay a price for historical identity, but don’t want to pay it themselves. Yale was founded as the “Collegiate School,” before changing its name to Yale in honor of a major donor. Why not switch back to Collegiate School? The answer is that to do that would be like Marilyn Monroe at the height of her fame choosing to revert to her birth name, Norma Jeane Baker. Not quite the same thing, is it?
It would mean a tremendous sacrifice for Yale University and its alumni, and a meaningful loss of identity and prestige. But how could they do otherwise, given their moral commitments, and given that Elihu Yale was a slave trader? So what if there might not be a Yale University if not for Elihu Yale? We must be morally perfect.
Of course I don’t believe at all that Yale should do this — but nor do I believe other places should jettison their history because of this contemporary moral panic. Yale lefties, of whom there are many, do not share this view. So what’s their excuse? A Yale by any other name is just as good, right? Right?
Yale’s leftists should put up or shut up. Ann Coulter is right to troll them hard. My guess is that all those campus crusaders would not at all be willing to surrender their identity as Yalies. These culture-war controversies are not about morality, but about power.
Joe Biden keeps trying to out-warmonger Donald Trump, and by Joe Biden I of course mean the team of handlers who are animating the dementia-ravaged corpse of the Biden campaign like a ventriloquist operating a wooden dummy.
In response to Trump suggesting an openness to scaling back his administration’s murderous Venezuela policy and meeting with President Nicolás Maduro, whoever runs Biden’s Twitter account for him seized upon the moment to assert that the former vice president will be doing no such thing if elected commander-in-chief.
“Trump talks tough on Venezuela, but admires thugs and dictators like Nicolas Maduro,” tweeted Biden Incorporated. “As President, I will stand with the Venezuelan people and for democracy.”
“Translation: if Trump retreats from his current policy of trying to sanction and suffocate Venezuelan into submission, Biden will make sure to revive it,” journalist Aaron Maté said in response.
“To be clear, Joe Biden is now attacking Donald Trump from the right on Venezuela,” said journalist Walker Bragman.
Trump talks tough on Venezuela, but admires thugs and dictators like Nicolas Maduro.
As President, I will stand with the Venezuelan people and for democracy. https://t.co/eUt28UxyXS
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 22, 2020
As FAIR.org’s Alan MacLeod accurately observed last year, this phrase “the Venezuelan people” is only ever invoked by the political/media class of the US-centralized empire for sloganeering purposes in support of US-led regime change interventionism in that nation, despite an overwhelming majority of Venezuelans opposing all US interventionism including sanctions.
This tactic of attacking Donald Trump for being insufficiently warlike is nothing new for Biden Inc, nor is it limited to Venezuela.
During the primary debates Biden attacked Trump for being insufficiently hawkish toward North Korea, claiming the president was wrong to meet with Kim Jong Un because it gives the leader “legitimacy”, whatever that means.
An April Biden campaign ad accused the president of being too soft on China by failing to force Beijing to allow US government officials into Wuhan to monitor the governing of a sovereign nation during a pandemic outbreak.
“Trump praised the Chinese 15 times in January and February as the coronavirus spread across the world,” says the ad’s narrator in an ominous voice. “Trump never got a CDC team on the ground in China. And the travel ban he brags about? Trump let in 40,000 travelers from China into America after he signed it. Not exactly airtight.”
I wouldn’t meet with Kim Jong Un without pre-conditions. By meeting with him, Donald Trump gave Kim Jong Un what he was looking for: legitimacy. I will work closely with our allies and hold China accountable for its lack of pressure on the Kim regime’s bad behavior. #DemDebate
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 15, 2020
Biden has attacked Trump’s partial troop withdrawal from Syria, using talking points from the so-called war on terror to absurdly claim during a primary debate that the president is putting America at risk of a terrorist strike from ISIS.
“We have ISIS that’s going to come here,” Biden said. “They are going to damage the United States of America. That’s why we got involved in the first place.”
And of course Biden & Co have been attacking Trump for being too soft on Russia, despite this administration’s many, many dangerously hawkish new cold war escalations against Moscow.
“We need a President who will stand up to the Kremlin, push back against Putin, and take immediate steps to ensure the security of our elections,” Biden’s Twitter account said last year.
This line of attack is so ubiquitous in the Biden campaign that it sometimes just takes the form of a vague, general swipe at Trump’s unwillingness to be more warlike, with an April tweet reading simply “Donald Trump says he’s a wartime president — it’s time for him to act like one.”
Donald Trump says he’s a wartime president — it’s time for him to act like one.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 18, 2020
Again, this is Donald Trump these people are talking about. The same president who imprisoned Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes, killed tens of thousands of Venezuelans with starvation sanctions, vetoed attempts to save Yemen from US-backed genocide, is working to foment civil war in Iran using starvation sanctions and CIA ops with the stated goal of effecting regime change, nearly started a full-scale war with Iran by assassinating its top general, occupied Syrian oil fields and implemented devastating sanctions with the goal of preventing Syria’s reconstruction, greatly increased the number of troops in the Middle East and elsewhere, greatly increased the number of bombs dropped per day from the previous administration, killing record numbers of civilians, and reduced military accountability for those airstrikes.
The second-to-last thing the world needs is political pressure placed on Donald fucking Trump to be more warlike. The very last thing the world needs is a US president who ends up being even more warlike than Trump.
America is a war machine on top of a police state on top of a mass media psyop. Only people who are willing to keep these psychopathic mechanisms in place are permitted to ascend to presidential candidacy. While all the news cameras focus on the relatively minor differences between presidents and presidential candidates, you can learn a lot more about America and what drives it by looking at their similarities.
As the U.S. continues its defunding of international organisations, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is next in line, as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared his country’s funding conditional upon “U.S. values”. The mismanagement of funds, particularly at UN institutions, is a well-known occurrence. However, the corruption existing at international institutions reflects the obscure, or non-existent process, of accountability, which capitalism encourages in order to maintain the monopoly over human rights rhetoric.
Under U.S. President Donald Trump, pointing out corruption is becoming a veneer under which the U.S. can manipulate the trajectory of human rights violations. The PAHO has not been singled out for its affiliation to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which Trump recently defunded, but for the organisation’s role in facilitating the Cuban revolutionary doctors’ internationalist approach to aiding countries during the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. has intensified its vilification of Cuban doctors – a source of pride for Cuba – as the country’s version of alleged forced labour. A briefing by the U.S. State Department describes Cuba as facilitating human trafficking. Cuban officials have rejected the U.S. insinuations, contrasting Trump’s mismanagement with the Cuban model of medical practice; the latter efficient enough to cater for both Cubans and countries abroad.
Fidel Castro envisaged healthcare as a human right – a view shared by Argentine revolutionary and medic Ernesto Che Guevara. In his early travels across Latin America in 1951, Che’s observations of medical practice and community relations led him to envisage a different system comprising of health awareness and preventive medicine. The Cuban Revolution eliminated all prestige associated with the medical profession, with the best doctors leaving Cuba for the U.S. Nevertheless, the model envisaged by Che, which brought medical practice to all parts of the island, has proved successful, to the point that Cuba’s healthcare system, despite the illegal blockade enforced by the U.S. on the island, managed to cater not only for the Cuban people’s needs, but also regionally and internationally.
Cuba’s healthcare system is intricately woven with its internationalist approach. Besides exposing the failings in a capitalist system that contributed to the death toll in Western countries, the world was also offered a glimpse into the Cuban medical model. The medical brigades reached out internationally, while in their country, Cubans benefited from rigorous checks and door to door medical visits, thus illustrating how community relations were integrated into the Cuban approach to medicine. The not-for profit model inspired by the Cuban revolution thrived despite U.S. efforts to destabilise Cuba economically and politically, partly due to the education system which is also based upon the revolutionary principles of internationalism.
It is worth noting that the UN, despite its role in destroying the environment through its promotion of wars and plunder, is now calling for recognition of the “interdependence between humanity and biodiversity”, which, as UNESCO Director General Azulay stated, “is so profound that the latter’s vulnerabilities are our own.”
In this regard, Cuba also sets an example. The plunder of natural resources was perpetually referenced by Fidel in his speeches, which regularly emphasised the consequences of war and capitalist economies. Despite the U.S. sanctions on the island, in 2019 Cuba was declared the most sustainably developed country by anthropologist Dr Jason Hickel.
U.S. threats, therefore, do have the potential to create the space for additional human rights violations, in particular when it comes to institutions that are dependent upon the same corruption to thrive. However, Pompeo’s posturing also puts the U.S. in stark contrast with Cuba and its commitment to humanity – a principle which, despite Fidel’s death, remains ingrained within the island’s political and education system.
Imagine believing that you know what is in the best interests of others, and worse, ones you have never even met, and worse still, believing you have a right to improve their situation in the manner and timeline you see fit. The belief that one has the right to save the world is termed ‘communal narcissism’. Therein lies the first problem with progressive imperialism.
The American left in the realm of foreign policy suffers from a type of prosocial communal narcissism, based in their own self-appraisal that their best intentions will be realized in the best outcomes for others, as the narcissist has themself defined it.
But the American left is significantly more dangerous and grotesque compared to standard justifications of imperialism, because it frames the discourse in such a way that it is blind to its own chauvinism, and believes itself to speak for the world.
What in other countries is viewed as quite ugly – believing oneself so enlightened and righteous that they can force others into their own image – has become a quintessential aspect of American culture post 1960’s.
We arrive then at our problem; the leftist approach has relied on soft-power tactics which require a lot more imagination, and yet also hubris, to justify. It is based overtly in telling other countries how to manage themselves as being both philosophically and categorically its proclaimed mandate.
It is the most overt form of imperialism, couched in the language of the left’s understanding of human rights and universalism. It rests gently on the ears and upon the conscience if left unexamined, but in actual fact it is far more malignant. Perhaps because they are so over-used, and perhaps here because they appear to be benign, because American society accepts these as just. But the specter of Dunning-Kruger will always rear its ugly head, and the expected outcomes will almost never materialize.
And in typical gas-lighting fashion, the failure of the subject nation to live up to the vision of the narcissist will be blamed upon the subject.
Most dangerously, soft-power tactics situate themselves outside of the founding principles of national self-determination and sovereignty that the UN was established upon in the post-war years, and yet exploits the various corrupt alphabet soup of organizations and agencies that operate under the UN’s umbrella.
Soft-power tactics were born out of a cultural shift within the U.S.., the development of media and later new media, as a form of propaganda and manufactured consent. The role of television media reporting on Vietnam left an American public taken aback by raw images of the terrorism and horror that is war.
Gone forever was the myth of purity of arms. And so a new myth, the myth of soft-power towards regime change, had to be built.
While soft-power tactics may at first appear to be less harmful to the target, because ‘military’ is not used, the socio-economic outcome of such an approach is the very definition of collective punishment and civilian targets, targets which if zeroed in on by the military would qualify as war crimes and crimes against humanity by any reasonable measure.
Enter the Save the World Generation of 1968
The ‘save the world’ generation in America that emerged from the utopian leanings of 1968, in part also out of opposition to the Vietnam War, came to define the left-wing version of American foreign policy.
The popular opposition to the war in Vietnam signaled the need for a new era in American foreign policy development. Richard Falk – the preeminent American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University – wrote for Foreign Policy Magazine in an article titled ‘What We Should Learn from Vietnam’ published in 1970 or ‘71:
“Where there is no formidable radical challenge on the domestic scene, as in India or Japan, the American preference is clearly for moderate democracy, indeed the kind of political orientation that the United States imposed upon Japan during the military occupation after World War II. However, where an Asian society is beset by struggle between a rightist incumbent regime and a leftist insurgent challenger, then American policy throws its support, sometimes strongly, to the counterrevolutionary side.
As a result, there has been virtually no disposition to question the American decision to support the repressive and reactionary Saigon regime provided that support could have led to victory in Vietnam at a reasonable cost.”
In establishing this as a problem, Falk proposes what he terms a ‘Fourth Position’, one which would end America’s pre-occupation with supporting counter-revolutionary forces in Asia.
We can extrapolate from Falk’s thesis an historical parallel: It was forward looking Gauls inspired by their Roman neighbors who established the infrastructure of roads which Roman legionaries would later march in on under Cesar.
Likewise, allow modernizing and technology oriented communist regimes to flourish in Asia as these would ultimately create the interface with which the U.S.. could pursue its interests in the region.
In Falk’s work we find the kernel of contemporary U.S.. foreign policy and the leftoid soft-power approach, and indeed almost predicts the Nixon-Mao meeting a year or two later.
By now, everyone is familiar with Nye and Ferguson’s ideas on soft-power. By the 1990’s, left-overs from the Cold War’s Radio Free Europe were transformed into more covert projects towards soft-power, outside of the more obvious Radio Liberty and the Atlantic Council’s array of projects. USAID and the NED combined with private philanthropy of the likes of George Soros to establish a ‘legal, peaceful’ mechanism by exploiting international law and the UN’s bodies, known now as the NGO industrial complex.
But what will confound and confuse future historians of the American empire is the mindset of the mainstream left which supports foreign interventionism.
So this is how we have to understand it. If the 70’s was the ‘We’ generation, the 80’s was the ‘Me’ generation – and in came a toxic combination of noble intentions for others taken from the 60’s and 70’s, alongside a particular mission-individualism that gives a person a sense that they are exceptional.
The result was the self-improvement craze of the 80’s and 90’s. And just as self-improvement for individuals becomes a collective norm that others must also be pressured to accept or face ridicule and shunning for being ‘backwards’, the contemporary psychology of human rights (soft power) imperialism is understood.
In short, it opposed American exceptionalism but promoted an exceptionalism of the enlightened community, almost always a liberal of the left, a model that everyone else must also follow.
Something appropriated from Marxism and Christianity, the left has substituted the idea that the nation should rule or that the nation has legitimacy, with the idea that the party with the right values and ideas should rule.
And here is where our final point rests. Alongside the communal narcissism of human rights imperialism which we see in the left’s preference for soft power, we also find this: a belief that just as they as individuals are evolving towards an ever greater enlightenment, so too is America.
This is probably the most complex and dynamic aspect of the problem of the American left’s psychology in foreign policy.
If nations shouldn’t rule others, perhaps they shouldn’t rule themselves, for in each nation are ‘others’ – minorities, historically oppressed identity groups, and so on. America shouldn’t rule them either, the belief goes, but the enlightened ideas which conveniently are determined by a enlightened yoga-practicing vegan community who happen to be American, should indeed rule.
They think this: Assad may not be a threat to his neighbors, but the fact that Syria is a nation and is ruled by a man who exemplifies numerous hetero cis-gendered patriarchal norms, probably means that the U.S.. (not acting as a nation but rather a ‘vehicle of values’) should use soft-power to support any method to remove him.
Other countries are viewed as static, unmoving, non-dynamic ‘regimes’. From the outside looking in, and being a poor cultural anthropologist, all societies appear monolithic and in contemporary parlance, that means ‘totalitarian’. Commonly held beliefs and customs among a foreign people are transformed into top-down mandated values that are imposed upon an unwilling population.
America has deep problems, the liberal soft power imperialist reckons, but the fact that America can overcome and indeed is overcoming them, means that other countries can overcome them too, if they emulate America.
This is perhaps the only way to get on board with something that otherwise would be a flagrant contradiction: America, land of deep problems, ought to be emulated.
It also means imposing American narratives on the rest of the world. If America had a particular problem of racism, land theft, and never ending foreign wars, then suddenly America is nevertheless ‘alright’ since it is in some dynamic process of changing this. Other countries, being governed by static and monolithic caricatures, must have their whole societies uprooted and their governments overthrown in order to overcome the same problems.
America therefore is the ‘expert’ at solving these problems for other countries, not because it has solved them, but because it has developed a model for resistance.
Never mind these are often not problems other countries have. To the hammer of American soft power, all the world is a human rights nail.
Now we see that the U.S.. can intervene everywhere in the world so long as it can paint that foreign land as having American problems. Yugoslavia, Syria, Libya – ethnic conflict, patriarchy, rape culture and a popular uprising (which CNN will color left) means a justified soft power intervention.
There is a saying, ‘All’s well that ends well’. By establishing a conflict thesis of American history, America – in the view of the left – can rectify its past wrongs by righting the same wrongs around the world.
Never mind that these past wrongs aren’t, by their own measure, solved in America. These left Americans see themselves not as Americans acting in America’s interests, but as enlightened people with a right to fix other country’s problems, whether or not those problems really exist and regardless of whether those lowly and unevolved people actually want it. After they are uplifted and re-educated, they will look back and thank us.
This in a nutshell is the mindset of the imperial progressive. This is the sort of thinking that has no place in an international community based on mutual respect and sovereignty.
President Trump made a sensible move by proposing re-inclusion of Russia in the G-7 association of nations that, as the BBC observes “is an organisation made up of the world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The group regards itself as ‘a community of values’, with freedom and human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and prosperity and sustainable development as its key principles.” It is only proper that Russia be involved again, but the relentlessly anti-Russia UK indicated that it would veto any such move. As is usual Trump had not spoken with supposed allies of the U.S. before making an important decision affecting international affairs, and this was yet another instance of his casual disregard for the conventions and purposes of diplomacy.
It was reasonable to suppose, however, that Trump’s attitude might have indicated Washington’s policy, in that it seemed to be intended to establish cordial relations and expand trade and generally cooperate with Russia. Not a bit of it, because on June 11 the U.S. Senate legislated further sanctions targeting involvement in construction of the Russia-Germany Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline – intensifying the sanctions regime approved by Trump in 2019. There was no consultation with either Russia or Germany, and the German Economy Minister, Peter Altmaier, stated bluntly that “The German government has long had the view that sanctions with extraterritorial effects are in conflict with international law and that they’re not a contribution to advancing international cooperation. This position hasn’t changed.”
That statement of German policy was made on the same day as a report in the New York Times that the U.S. intended to cut the number of its military personnel in Germany by 25 per cent. Washington did not consider it necessary to consult with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, or with the Secretary General of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, whose reaction was predictably servile, in stating he expected “ongoing dialogue.” German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said plaintively that “Neither the state department nor the Pentagon has been able to provide any information about this,” and that the matter “definitely need to be talked about”. Indeed it does, not least because, as noted by Deutsche Welle “an estimated 20 [U.S.] nuclear weapons are believed to be kept at Germany’s Büchel Air Base in western Germany.”
Nato achieves nothing in Europe – or anywhere else – by its presence, but Trump’s reasons for withdrawing troops from Germany have nothing to do with strategy, refinement of international relations or rethinking the relevance of Nato. It was petulant reaction to Germany’s failure to meet a military expenditure target. But as the Guardian noted, “Contrary to Trump’s repeated claims, Germany does not owe payments to Nato or the U.S., but falls short of a Nato target in which members commit 2% of their annual GDP to military spending by 2024.” As reported by Stars and Stripes, “The Pentagon, which appears to have been blindsided by Trump’s decision, has been mum on the issue. U.S. European Command also has declined to comment, referring questions to the National Security Council in Washington.”
There was no assessment in Washington of what Trump’s decision would cost, but it will be extremely expensive for the U.S. taxpayer, as it is far from easy to move 9,500 personnel and all their dependents, and reorganise the massive number of military facilities involved. The economic impact on communities in Germany where troops are based is going to be most severe, but this is the last thing that would cross the mind of Donald Trump.
It has long been known that Trump is an erratic, inconsistent, blustering ignoramus – but the fact remains that he directs the foreign policy of the United States, using others of similar characteristics to carry out his directives. John Bolton, his former national security adviser (a drum-thumping war hawk with a most unpleasant character) said in an interview that “I don’t think he’s fit for office. I don’t think he has the competence to carry out the job,” and he speaks for many people. But Trump will continue to strut the world stage and indulge in incoherent diatribes about every aspect of international affairs. His insulting comment about Bolton that he is “a disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war. Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped. What a dope!”, although generally accepted as being accurate, only added to the atmosphere of feverish turmoil that pervades Washington.
As the BBC reported, “President Trump has been a persistent critic of the Nato military bloc, calling on other members to boost their spending. Despite this the U.S. remains a member, but Mr Bolton says [in his book] that at a 2018 Nato summit Mr Trump had decided to quit. ‘We will walk out, and not defend those who have not [paid],’ the president said, according to Mr Bolton.” So what does that mean for U.S. policy concerning Europe? What does it mean for Russia, which is the focus for Nato’s increasingly aggressive deployment of military forces in Eastern Europe? Nobody knows, because the president of the United States twists and turns and leaps and ricochets, and the result has been confusion and incertitude.
Then on June 15 Stars and Stripes reported U.S. and Polish officials as saying that “negotiations for an American troop boost in Poland are still on track and the number of service members in that country could be larger than originally planned,” while the U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, tweeted that Polish President Andrzej Duda’s “vision for increased U.S. presence in Poland will be even greater than originally outlined” – but nobody else in Europe or in Nato appears to know anything about this significant policy change.
As stated by Nato, its “Enhanced Forward Presence” of troops and aircraft along Russia’s borders consists of “four multinational battle groups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. These battle groups, led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the United States respectively, are multinational, and combat-ready, demonstrating the strength of the transatlantic bond… [and] form part of the biggest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence in a generation.” But does Trump realise that he will be expanding the Forward Presence even more by transferring U.S. troops in Germany to Poland?
For the moment, his policy regarding Poland appears to be supportive, in that he invited Polish President Duda to visit Washington on June 24, when, according to the White House, the focus is to be “advancing our co-operation on defence, as well as trade, energy, and telecommunications security”. There cannot be many presidents who would fly off on a visit to a foreign country just four days before a national election, but Politico explained that it would be “a potential political boost for Duda, who . . . has been losing ground in recent opinion polls. Poland is one of the most pro-American countries in Europe, and one of the few where photos of a meeting with Trump could turn into an electoral advantage.”
It is evident that Trump is sending some sort of message to Europe and Russia about Poland, but as with much of his international policy it is decidedly mixed and can contribute only to existing and potentially dangerous confusion. His own campaign for re-election is gathering impetus, and for the sake of the world as a whole it must be hoped that the people of the United States also understand that mixed messages and confusion do not contribute to Making America Great Again.
Tech revolution threatens an unemployment crisis in China and developed world after gathering pace during pandemic
They have been compared to quantum leaps in humanity’s historic journey. But they are more like Grand Canyon-style jumps in our evolution.
During the past 200 years, technological revolutions have expanded the borders of globalization and have dragged millions of people out of poverty. Yet they have come at a price.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be no different.
Already the landscape is changing dramatically with China at the forefront of this brave, new world for some and a nightmare for others.
“China is using automation on a scale like no other country. From AI news anchors on [state-run television] to one-minute [health] clinics to robot-run factories, China is using artificial intelligence and robots to take over the entire spectrum of human capabilities,” Abishur Prakash, a geopolitical futurist at the Center for Innovating the Future, a strategy consulting firm, told Asia Times.
“This could transform politics in the country. It was city-jobs that drove urbanization in China. Now, however, if the blue-collar and white-collar jobs are both being automated, reverse urbanization may follow. This will create a new kind of economy for China, which in turn could change domestic politics, trade deals and foreign policy,” he said.
The “sheer scale” of Beijing’s ambitions are immense. Investment in science and technology research in the world’s second-largest economy was US$355.4 billion last year or 2.5% of GDP, official data revealed.
Only the United States spent more as China edged past Japan.
Moveover, funding looks certain to accelerate in 2020 with 3 trillion yuan, or $423 billion, earmarked for major projects in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Up to 17.5 trillion yuan, or $2.47 trillion, will be pumped into ramping up infrastructure spending in the high-tech sector during the next six years, the Shanghai Securities News reported in May.
Priority funding in the next 12 months will go to 5G base stations, EV charging outlets, big data centers, AI and the industrial internet, such as robotics.
Also, unlike previous rounds of traditional infrastructure investment on roads, bridges and high-speed rail networks, private companies will be heavily involved in the mix.
Still, the pace of change will generate a different set of problems, including the specter of unemployment.
“China has dealt with large-scale layoffs or economic downturns by creating a massive state-run construction force. But, now, the people that may lose their jobs to automation may be the educated, skilled class in cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai. What’s China’s plan for them?,” Prakash, the author of The Age of Killer Robots, said.
Since 2014, the nation’s automation industry has expanded by 28% with 650,000 robots going online in 2018.
Yet this has generated a backlash from the Chinese public. A study released to the media by Spanish university IE showed a rise in “robophobia” during the coronavirus crisis.
Before the pandemic infected more than nine million people worldwide, only 27% supported limited automation in China. That number has more than doubled to 59%, with the Chinese just behind the French as the most hostile to automation.
“The changing nature of work is generating fears about mass unemployment. These trends are straining the relationships among citizens, firms and governments across the globe,” the World Bank stated in a report, entitled the Changing Nature of Work, last year.
Even so, the benefits of the controversial Made in China 2025 digital program proved vital during the Covid-19 crisis.
Artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing and 5G “effectively improved the efficiency of the country’s efforts” in tackling the epidemic.
“It [was crucial] to monitoring virus tracking, prevention, control and treatment, [as well as] resource allocation,“ Qi Xiaoxia, the director-general of the Cyberspace Administration of China’s Bureau of International Cooperation, said in a commentary published on the World Economic Forum website in April.
Even basic models of service robots appeared to play their role in delivering meals and cleaning hospital corridors.
“Admittedly, the acceleration of automation may reduce certain jobs on an individual basis. Some people may suffer, which is the inevitable cost of technological transition and advancement … still, new jobs will be created to replace those that have been lost,” Jon Yuan Jiang, an assistant researcher at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, told Asia Times.
But concerns persist. In developed and developing economies, the fallout from the coronavirus catastrophe threatens to trigger economic pandemonium and ballooning unemployment across the globe.
The urban jobless numbers in China have been on the rise since the start of the year. For the upper echelons of the ruling Communist Party, unemployment is a notoriously sensitive subject.
Indeed, the Fourth Industrial Revolution risks adding to the upheaval.
“Already, it’s projected that 51 million jobs in Europe could disappear because of automation [with Covid-19 being a factor]. The point is, the appetite for automation is rising and it’s no longer limited to just entry-level jobs,” Prakash, of the Center for Innovating the Future, said.
“It’s no longer just about janitors or truck drivers or factory workers. Everyone could be on the chopping block because the pandemic has fundamentally changed how businesses operate. There are now huge geopolitical risks as automation takes off,” he added.
Possibly, a revolution against a revolution?
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
I’ve been at the Russia business for a while – since the days of Konstantin Chernenko in fact. As I’ve related elsewhere it was the summer of 1987 when I began to realise that things were really changing. Sometime around then I was invited to Massey College to debate with a Soviet diplomat the proposition that perestroyka meant the end of Marxism-Leninism; which, of course, it did. While I saw changes coming and was listened to seriously by my superiors in the Department of National Defence (DND) there were plenty of people who said that change was impossible. One senior guy from Foreign Affairs said his experience in Algeria showed him these regimes could never change and soon after he caused a paper to be produced that argued that the threat of nuclear war over Africa was very high. (!) The last words a local professor said to me was that change was impossible. I used to, when I gave presentations, ask the audience when they thought things were really changing in the USSR. Most of them would say when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Well, I would say, I realized it back then; just think how much farther along I am on the curve.
One of the half-witted theories floating around at the time was the recoil theory. The Soviets were pulling out of Eastern Europe so as to better bounce back and grab it later. Or something; never fully articulated – how could such a daft notion be? – yes, one can’t deny that they were pulling their tanks out but those cunning commies must be up to something. The idea was supported by a KGB defector who said that it was all a huge deception. There was a real outburst of excitement when a lot of tanks were moved out of the CFE area – see! They are cheating! the bounce back is beginning. This faded away when the satellite photos showed the tanks just pushed off the flatcars into the fields. The CFE Treaty requirements for cutting up a tank were very expensive; Moscow had no money so the tanks were sent out there to decay in the rain. (Which they did – one of my colleagues was an inspector and years later saw the sad rusted things). The necessity of pulling a lot of personnel out quickly meant that they were dumped wherever they could be – Norwegians, on one of our visits, worried that there were too many in the Kola Peninsula. And dumped they were – there were reports of officers and their families living in railway cars or even helicopters. Moscow wasn’t trying anything funny: the sudden withdrawals were just very difficult, especially with an economy that was collapsing. But it did what it promised it would do.
Change was happening and senior leadership at DND was open to it: I was given the chance to address the most senior group to make my pitch (1988?); I said that everything I saw indicated that Gorbachev would make a big arms reduction announcement soon. Which he did but, alas, one day too soon for publication of the paper the military intelligence people had written saying I was wrong. (Shortly before the Pentagon had put out a list of Soviet tank holdings which included a thousand or so useful T-10s; the naysayers scoffed at Gorbachev’s promise because, among other cuts, he was eliminating the now useless T-10s – an early case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t). With some opposition from Foreign Affairs, military to military talks were held (the first ever I believe) in 1989. As usual, being in the same business, the military got on well and the sole civilian lay low lest they turn on him. The talks continued and there were port visits as well.
But, there were still plenty of naysayers. For example, a man who is today a player in the ludicrously titled Integrity Initiative informed us that all Russians were natural liars. In the Soviet days he’d tried to buy some scarce item, was told there was none and seen it sold to another. Liars every one! No, not liars, a shortage economy: you don’t sell a rare item to some foreigner who can’t do anything for you in return. I’ll bet he’s still telling people they’re all liars. Another now-II guy revealed to me what a complete uncoordinated balls-up NATO’s Kosovo war was; he now sings war songs on behalf of NATO. Another, quite reasonable then, turned ferocious when he lost an argument with me on JRL. Another young guy who’s part of the II slate started out balanced but is now writing Russian horror comics. Now I have some sympathy with young people starting out – I very much doubt anyone today could have the career I had either in government or academia; Russia is the enemy and if you don’t sing that tune, or pretend to, the doors will probably close in your face. But that doesn’t mean that you have to mention the “Gerasimov Doctrine” as if it were anything but obvious projection onto Russia of what NATO actually does. But it’s true: I had a career in which nobody ever told me what the “correct answer” was – other than the good advice I got in August 1991 – and I don’t think you could today. Which is just another sign of the general loss of freedom and deterioration of the intellectual climate of the West.
The August Coup attempt gave many of these a (brief) second wind – I was one of the very few in the government who said it would be a failure; over at Foreign Affairs they were all ready to recognise the junta – almost with, I think, a sense of relief that things were returning to the tried and true.
When I came back from Moscow in 1996 I was invited to one of the regular meetings our intelligence people had with our southern neighbours. One of them said that, he knew he’d been saying this for years, but finally the signs were all there of… a military coup. (In fairness, the others didn’t think much of that. By the way, has there ever been a military coup in Russia? palace coups, certainly but no military ones). It was at that meeting when I realised that my three years there had given me a lot of on the ground experience – I’d been in grocery stores, watched the evolution of kiosks, seen the decaying Soviet Navy in Murmansk, talked to senior clergy, watched Mayor Luzhkov’s clean-up of the city, stayed in gigantic Intourist hotels in the provinces, flown, travelled by train and so on. Even met a shaman in Buryatia. A huge country and just a tiny bit seen by me but way more than most of the others. I had noticed this before on a visit to Stockholm to give a lecture. The USSR/Russia had been a far-off galaxy and, as the all-Russians-are-liars-guy showed, even some of those who’d actually visited hadn’t been very astute observers.
So the Russia-haters (Russia-fearers?) were active then too. The difference being that they didn’t have the complete influence that they now seem to have. They have persevered, over the years, shouting “Russia is the enemy!” and today they dominate. Maybe, as Planck suggests, we will just have to wait for time; they certainly can’t be argued with as this official statement shows:
Russia has generally followed international law and procedure in establishing the limits of its extended continental shelf. Russia could choose to unilaterally establish those limits if the procedures prove unfavourable and could utilize its military capabilities in an effort to deny access to disputed Arctic waters or resources. (My italics)
If forced to admit that Moscow is playing by the rules, they retort that it’s only to better break them tomorrow. They would pride themselves on having expanded NATO so as to be ready. They are the ones today who say – with no consciousness of irony – that “Russia maintains military presence close to NATO borders“.
Up to, say, 2005 nobody gave them much space because Russia was so obviously finished and dead but when Putin began to bring it back they got more attention. They joined forces with the America-first people: Russia’s contumacy could not be permitted in the post-Cold War triumphalism of the New American Century. But what really put these people in the driver’s seat was the Clinton campaign’s excusing its failure by blaming Russia, the compliant corporate media’s amplification of the story and the bogus collusion story from “all 17 intelligence agencies”. You’d think that, with COVID-19 and all the dud “bombshells“, they’d be quietly dropping it, but no: they’re still trying to find that bombshell.
And it’s so easy to be one of them. Just start with the latest unproven charge – Skripal and MH17 are back in the news – then accuse them of being behind something current – BLM, gillet jaunes – throw in a selection of other unproven accusations, election interference, don’t forget a piety about the “Rules-Based International Order”; and presto! another op-ed or output from a NATO churn outfit. You could probably program a computer to do it: an anti-Russian version of the PoMo Generator. Maybe like the people at II you can strike it rich by getting the government to top up your pension in return for a little easy fantasising. The danger is that they’re training up a new generation on this easy and remunerative behaviour and Planck’s change will be postponed another generation.
But Putin turned out to be a Russia-first man, a Russian patriot, determined not to bend the knee. Not the least of the fascinations, by the way, is that the Yeltsin years are now regarded by the Russia-haters as a time when Russia was “on the right path”. Not what they were saying at the time, of course: Russia was menacing its neighbours, throwing away democracy and just generally all-round bad during the Yeltsin years too. Putin has grown and grown to monstrous proportions in these people’s minds as this selection of magazine covers shows. His “playbook” is the One Ring To Rule Them All. He controls the world with his 25¢ Facebook warriors, sowing division in a division-free paradise. Even crazier than the recoil theory!
As for my former employer, we’ve stopped talking to the Russians; we’re maintaining “security and stability” by keeping Putin out of Latvia and honouring nazis in Ukraine. The naysayers won that one too.
Ten years ago, I wrote a piece arguing that, after periods of Russia being the West’s little brother and then the assertive enemy, we were coming to a time when Russia would be seen as another country with which to have normal relations. Well, that didn’t happen, The Russia-haters won the debate.
To sum up, a former head of GCHQ said at one of my presentations in the Putin era, “they just don’t share our values”. Russians would probably agree, but not in the way he meant.
The coronavirus shutdown has flattened multiple industries across America — everything from airlines and manufacturers to hospitals, retailers, oil and gas producers, and restaurants. Many of the 30 million small and large businesses in the country have reported a 30% reduction in revenues. Amid the carnage, one sector of the economy is thriving like never before in the history of the republic: the government.
Congress has already spent more than $2 trillion on phases one, two, three and 3 1/2 of coronavirus relief packages. The irresponsible bill from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would raise that spending total to $5 trillion, which is on top of the $4.71 trillion that Congress already authorized. We are getting very close to an unfathomable $10 trillion federal budget, which is more money in one single year, adjusted for inflation, than the nation devoted to fighting the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.
The problem is that the White House thinks that more debt spending by Uncle Sam will be a “stimulus” to the economy and will help President Donald Trump win reelection. The administration has put out the word that another $2 trillion, phase-four package with aid to states, payments to individuals and infrastructure spending — a “compromise” — is in the works. It is a prosperity-killing redistribution scheme, not an economic revival plan, Mr. President.
If Trump and the Republicans in Congress were to agree to another multitrillion-dollar spending plan, the government in 2020 would grow to its most substantial level and percentage of our economy in history. Do Republicans want that to be their legacy?
Including state and local expenditures, the government would, for the first time in the history of the United States, consume 52% of our $20.4 trillion gross domestic product. Government would be more significant than all of the output of every business and every private sector worker in America. Even the GOP “compromise” would push us close to the tipping point of government, more than 50% of GDP. It is nothing more than a road to financial ruin.
All we are doing here is “stimulating” the government and crowding out private spending and investment. Policies such as paying millions of people (more than 60% of workers, according to the Congressional Budget Office) more money to stay unemployed than to go back to work, and paying states more money to enable them to remain shut down, will inhibit the fast recovery we want in jobs and incomes, not stimulate it.
The offer of more federal money to Democratic mayors and governors enables them to keep their businesses shuttered and their commerce at a standstill because the feds will write them $50 billion checks.
One way to put the Washington spending blitz in historical perspective is to consider what happened during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Even at the height of what many at the time called Franklin Roosevelt’s “socialist New Deal,” government spending never eclipsed 20% of GDP. Pelosi has said that these times require a “Rooseveltian” response, but what we are doing now is 2 1/2 times the New Deal in size relative to the private economy.
The phase-four spending bill would bring total government spending to nearly $80,000 per U.S. household, or $20,000 more than the median per-household income in 2019 of roughly $60,000. If all this government spending were the magical solution to all our economic woes, we would all be feeling wealthy right now, but somehow, despite all the government “aid,” we are all feeling much poorer.
Last week, a coalition of conservative leaders and organizations under the banner of “Save Our Country” signed a letter asking the White House and Senate Republicans to “stop the madness of runaway spending.” The letter, signed by several dozen prominent conservatives such as economist Arthur Laffer, former Reagan Cabinet members Ed Meese and James C. Miller, and former Sen. Jim DeMint, argues that “runaway government spending is the new virus afflicting our economy. The best way to supercharge a jobs recovery would be to repeal the payroll tax so that every working American would receive a 7.5% raise in (their) paycheck immediately, and every small business would see a reduction in their payroll costs of an equal amount. This incentivizes hiring and work. The economy desperately needs more of both of these and less debt spending.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted out in response to the “stop the spending” letter that Republicans who want to stop government spending and debt lack compassion. But government spending isn’t compassionate. It is wasteful, inefficient and counterproductive. Let’s hope the Republicans rediscover their fiscal conservative credentials before they join Pelosi and Warren in their crusade to spend us into financial ruin.
Just when you thought the leaders of NATO could not push the limits of insanity any further, something like NATO 2030 is announced.
After helping blow up the Middle East and North Africa, dividing the Balkans into zones of war and tension, turning Ukraine upside down using armadas of neo Nazis, and encircling Russia with a ballistic missile shield, the leaders of this Cold War relic have decided that the best way to deal with instability of the world is… more NATO.
In a June 8th online event co-sponsored by the Atlantic Council, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the launch of a planning project to reform NATO called NATO 2030. Stoltenberg told his audience that in order to deal with Russia and China’s strategic partnership which is transforming the global balance of power, “we must resist the temptation of national solutions and we must live up to our values: freedom, democracy and the rule of law. To do this, we must stay strong militarily, be more united politically and take a broader approach globally.”
In the mind of Stoltenberg, this means expanding NATO’s membership into the Pacific with a high priority on the absorption of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea into NATO’s dysfunctional family. It also means extending NATO’s jurisdiction beyond a military alliance to include a wider political and environmental dimension (the war on climate change is apparently just as serious as the war on terrorism and should thus be incorporated into NATO’s operating system).
Analyzing China’s intentions through the most Hobbesian dark age lens on the market, Stoltenberg stated “they are investing heavily in modern military capabilities, including missiles that can reach all NATO allied countries. They are coming closer to us in cyberspace. We see them in the Arctic, in Africa… and they are working more and more together with Russia.”
In spite of NATO’s Cold War thinking, Russia and China have continuously presented olive branches to the west over the years- offering to cooperate on such matters as counter-terrorism, space exploration, asteroid defense, and global infrastructure projects in the Arctic and broader Belt and Road Initiative. In all instances, these offers have been met with a nearly unanimous cold shoulder by the western military industrial complex ruling NATO and the Atlantic alliance.
The Engine of War Heats Up
As Stoltenberg spoke these words, the 49th Baltic Operations running from June 1-16th were underway as the largest NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea featuring “30 ships and submarines, and 30 aircraft, conducting air defence, anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction and mine countermeasure operations.” In response Moscow reinforced its armored forces facing Europe.
Meanwhile in China’s backyard, three aircraft carriers all arrived in the Pacific (the USS Theodore Roosevelt, USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz) with a senate Armed Services Committee approval of $6 billion in funds for the Pacific Defense Initiative which Defense News stated will “send a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is deeply committed to defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific”. The committee also approved a U.S. Airforce operating location in the Indo-Pacific for F-35A jets in order to “prioritize the protection of the air bases that might be under attack from current or emerging cruise missiles and advanced hypersonic missiles, specifically from China.”
Another inflammatory precursor for confrontation came from a House Republican Study Committee report co-authored by Secretary of State Pompeo calling for sanctioning China’s leadership, listing Russia as a state sponsor of terror and authorizing the use of military force against anyone on a Foreign Terrorist Organization list. When one holds in mind that large sections of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard happen to be on this list, it is not hard to see how quickly nations doing business with Iran can be considered “state sponsors of terror”, justifying a use of military force from America.
With this level of explicit antagonism and duplicity, it is no wonder that China’s foreign ministry announced on June 10th that it would not participate in joint three-way arms talks between the USA and Russia. If America demonstrated a coherent intention to shift its foreign policy doctrine towards a genuine pro-cooperation perspective, then it is undoubtably the case that China would enthusiastically embrace such proposals. But until then, China is obviously unwilling to loose any part of its already small nuclear deterrent of 300 warheads (compared to Russia and the USA, who each own 6000).
The Resistance to the Warhawks
I have said it many times before, but there is currently not one but two opposing American military doctrines at war with each other and no assessment of American foreign policy is complete without a sensitivity to that fact.
On the one hand, there is the sociopathic doctrine which I outlined summarily above, but on the other hand, there exists a genuine intention to stop the “forever wars”, pull out of the Middle East, disengage with NATO and realign with a multipolar system of sovereign nation states.
This more positive America expressed itself in Trump’s June 7th counter-attack on former Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis who had fueled the American Maidan now unfolding by stating his belife that solutions can happen without the President. Trump had fired Mattis earlier over the Cold Warrior’s commitment to endless military enmeshment in Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq. In this Oval Office interview, the President called out the Military industrial complex which Mattis represents saying “The military-industrial complex is unbelievably powerful… You have no idea. Some legit, and some non-legit.”
Another aspect of Trump’s resistance to the neo-cons running the Pentagon and CIA is reflected in the June 11 joint U.S.-Iraq statement after the Strategic Dialogues summit of American and Iraqi delegates which committed to a continued reduction of troops in Iraq stating:
“Over the coming months, the U.S. would continue reducing forces from Iraq and discuss with the government of Iraq the status of remaining forces as both countries turn their focus towards developing a bilateral security relationship based on strong mutual interests”.
This statement coincides with Trump’s May 2020 call to accelerate U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan which has seen a fall from 12000 troops in February to under 9000 as of this writing.
Most enraging to the NATO-philes of London, Brussels and Washington was Trump’s surprising call to pull 9500 American troops out of Germany hours before Stoltenberg gave his loony NATO 2030 speech with Johann Wadephul (Deputy head of the CDU) saying “these plans demonstrate once again that the Trump administration neglects a central element of leadership: the involvement of alliance partners in the decision-making process”. In his next breath, Wadephul made his anti-Eurasian delusion transparent saying “Europe gains from the Alliance being unified. Only Russia and China gain from strife.”
Just a few months earlier, the President showed his disdain for the NATO bureaucracy by unilaterally pulling 3000 American military personnel out of the Trident Juncture exercise held annually every March.
In Defense of President Trump
In spite of all of his problems, Trump’s resistance to the dark age/neocon faction which has been running a virtually independent military-industrial-intelligence complex since FDR’s death in 1945 demonstrates a high degree of courage unseen in American presidents for many decades.
Most importantly, this flawed President represents a type of America which is genuinely compatible with the pro-nation state paradigm now being led by Russia and China.
Trump’s recent attempt to reform the G7 into a G11 (incorporating Russia, India, South Korea and Australia) is a nice step in that direction but his exclusion of China has made it an unworkable idea.
To solve this problem, American University in Moscow President Edward Lozansky stated in his recent Washington Times column that adding China to the list making it a G12 would be a saving grace to the idea and one of the best flanking maneuvers possible during this moment of crisis. Lozansky’s concept is so important that I wish to end with a larger citation from his article:
“Both Russia and China got the message a long time ago that they need to stay together to withstand the efforts to destroy them in sequence… The G-7 indeed is an obsolete group and it definitely needs a fresh blood. Therefore, a G-12 meeting in New York in late September during the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly would be a perfect place and timing since Mr. Trump had already announced that he is willing to hold a G-5 summit with the leaders of Russia, China, Britain and France — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — to discuss nuclear security issues. China so far is reluctant to join these talks, arguing that its smaller nuclear force is defensive and poses no threat. However, for the discussion in the G-12 format Mr. Putin might be able to convince his pal Xi to accept Mr. Trump’s invitation. This would be a huge achievement for the world’s peace and at the same time allow Mr. Trump to score lots of political points not only from his electoral base but from undecided and even from his opponents who want to save their families from nuclear holocaust.”
Unless world citizens who genuinely wish to avoid the danger of a nuclear holocaust learn how to embrace the idea of a G-12, and let the NATO/Cold War paradigm rot in the obsolete trash bin of history where it rightfully belongs, then I think it is safe to say that the future will not be something to look forward to.
For the next installment, we will take a look at the British Imperial origins of NATO and the American deep state in order to help shed greater light on the nature of the “two Americas” which I noted above, have been at war with each other since 1776.
The author can be reached at email@example.com
Due to the Black Lives Matter protests statues around the world of “racists” are being torn down, but why?
As America separates into two distinct substances – one nation dissolving into two – we should perhaps pay more attention to the psychology underlying this segmentation, and not just to its ‘politics’. Clearly, the latter is vital to understanding the U.S. Furthermore, these two U.S. psychic states of mind are playing out across the Middle East and beyond – not so much in a strategic way, but as the projection of inner psyche. This projection seeks to demonstrate its moral validation externally, in a way that cannot be done internally – for the balance of forces domestically is such that neither party can, as they would like, force the submission of the ‘other’ to their worldview; neither can prevail decisively.
Not even the November election will settle matters in any final way. It might, rather, sharpen the contest further.
What are the key vectors to this scission? It is firstly, that in the U.S., ‘facts’ are no longer tolerated as facts. Facts like ideology, have separated into two irreconcilable camps, each at each other’s throats. And, secondly, any authority or sourcing for what is asserted as fact, in today’s world, has long fled the scene. Today we deal only with one psychic ‘emotivism’ (in Alasdair Macintyre’s formulation), up and over, against, another. Much heat; no light.
Those who do not agree are called any number of pejorative names, but which essentially are meant to indicate that the other be a ‘barbarian’ in the old Roman sense: i.e. someone beneath relevance; beneath one’s attention; a ‘babbler’ (barbarian’s original meaning). And worse: these people lie, and would stoop to any illegitimate, seditionist (i.e. unconstitutional) means, to obtain their illicit ends. That is how both parties, broadly, see each other. Hyper-partisanship.
This is not really new – we knew it already. But what has this to do with the Mid-East and beyond? Its salience is that, in pursuit of validation for one or other of these psychic perspectives, one U.S. faction is prepared to force submission to the ‘rightness’ of America’s founding Christian Messianism – almost oblivious to potential consequence. To this end, a large part of the Middle East is being threatened with societal and economic collapse.
Clearly, reason or diplomacy will not avail. It will be dismissed as babbling. It is striking too, that some officials almost rejoice in the pain and starvation they may cause. Their language unveils the implicit strata of religion to these actions: They speak to ‘just retribution’. If it is America’s so-called ‘interest’ to collapse Hizbullah, Syria’s President Assad or Iran’s Revolutionary government, then the American interest too, is that these whole nations, their peoples, should suffer economic apocalypse. So be it: Merited.
As one American historian, Professor Vlahos, describes the situation in the U.S.: not only has America separated into two nations, it has, furthermore, divided into two separate religious sects, at odds with each other, yet both reflecting polar sides to America’s original religious impulse. One, (the party presently in office), sees national identity rooted in an American, golden, earlier age, upholding property, commerce and liberty as traditional inherited rights (signifiers of God’s Grace, in the Calvinist, Protestant meme).
The other (more in the apocalyptic vein), “looks to the future. They call themselves progressives; see the perfection and purity that lies ahead, and looks to the past as a deep and dark stain – as an imperfect, barbarous, primitive past that needs to be cast off – and a shining uplifting future needing to be sustained”. Both are existential and conflicting visions, Professor Vlahos says, “telling us how to live; defining good and evil, there is no place for compromise between them”.
The killing of George Floyd, however, has ignited an uneasy truce into flames. Floyd’s killing has become the iconic symbol – surpassing it specific content – to compare in the depth and intensity of the cultural animosities on both sides – to the Dreyfus affair in France between 1897–1899. In The Proud Tower, Barbara Tuchman writes that Dreyfus, a Jewish officer suspected of spying for the Germans, never a particularly notable personality to begin with, became an ‘abstraction’ to his supporters and detractors. She summarized:
“Each side fought for an idea, its idea of France: one the France of Counter-Revolution, the other the France of 1789, one for its last chance to arrest progressive social tendencies and restore the old values; the other to cleanse the honour of the Republic, and preserve it from the clutches of reaction”.
Will Collins writes in The American Conservative that “it is hard to think of a more apt comparison to the current moment. The language of existential conflict was mainstreamed on the American Right by the 2016 election. A now-infamous essay, “The Flight 93 Election,” compared voting for Donald Trump to a desperate attempt to retake a hijacked plane from the 9/11 terrorists. On the Left, the incremental liberalism of the Obama administration has given way to something more radical, a thoroughgoing critique of American institutions and history that suggests – and sometimes says outright – that revolutionary change is the only path forward”.
These two conflicted psychic images are defining not just America’s domestic arena, but global geo-politics, too. Acutely aware of these schisms, Americans are becoming easily agitated and angered by notions that China or Russia might wedge the void.
Unprecedented recent sanctions on the Syrian and Lebanese peoples (via the Caesar Act) similarly are the effusion of a stridently-held, yet contested missionary vision. These comprehensive sanctions are precisely intended to harm people – even to starve them, or precipitate them into civil war. That is what they are meant to do – U.S. Envoy to Syria, James Jeffrey, celebrated the fact that U.S. sanctions against Damascus have “contributed to the collapse” of the Syrian economy.
And this is the ‘good/evil’ temper of the moment. For such a dark fate is precisely what many conservative Americans would like to visit upon those fellow Americans who occupy Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (or now ‘Protest Zone’– i.e. CHAZ).
They would like the electricity, the water and the food cut-off. For this is America’s internal contradiction: These BLM protestors hate America’s Golden Age: they regard the latter as a “dark stain”, a barbarous primitive era that must be cast-off. The ‘party of the Golden Age’ would love to see the CHAZ occupiers’ starved into submission – only they can’t. It would spark internal U.S. turmoil, and a return of, most probably, violent protest.
But for the luckless people of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, being sanctioned into oblivion is no problem. They are ‘morally stained’ in both U.S. ‘visions’. One U.S. party cannot abide their rejection of America’s righteous ‘moral’ vision; and the other sees these nations to be residing in such barbarous, primitive and imperfect conditions, that state-overthrow becomes inevitable, and to be desired. (Most of Europe falls into this latter, hyper partisan category, too, if couched in a veneer of ‘liberalism’).
Looked at through this psychological lens, Israel and Palestinians fall into a different place. It is a case of Israeli ‘ordinary vice’: Most ‘golden age’ Americans of course, see Israel as walking a parallel path to their own. There is real empathy. But not so from the ‘awokened’ 20+ year-old, BLM-supporting, generation of Americans.
Their ‘woke’ ideology is radical. They view the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s as having unequivocally sold-out. No place for compromise now: America is both innately racist and oppressive. Its founding principles must be ripped out and replaced. BLM is waging this struggle against the U.S. founding principles, but the fight against U.S. empire, are one and the same, they say.
It is not clear whether the woke 20+ generation, in alliance with BLM, has succeeded in suborning the older, liberal generation of Democrat leaders, CEOs and senior police and military officers who lately have knelt before the altar of the BLM agenda – or if BLM simply is being used by the latter as a tool against Donald Trump. If the latter, it will not be the first time that the mainstream has co-opted a radical movement to use for its own ends, only subsequently to discover that that is they – the mainstream –were the dog ‘wagged’ by its radical ‘tail’. (The history of Salafism and its jihadists comes to mind, in this context.)
The question is mere quibble: What is undeniable is that wokeness is coursing through parts of Europe and America faster than the Coronavirus infection. Whilst Israelis love diversity politics, they are frightened by the liberal-BLM discourse of a coming struggle against racism and oppression.
Unless this ‘awokening’ butts up against an early ‘herd-immunity’ in Europe and America, this current will impact the region in ways that are not at this juncture foreseeable, but likely inevitable. Already Israelis are showing greater nervousness about annexation in the West Bank, and the Jordan Valley; and Gulf States led by the authoritarian UAE, are preparing to cast-off from the U.S. wharf, and pleading for a new berth in a safe Israeli harbour.
Are they sensing a change in the wind? Seeking safety? Will the region’s own 20+ generation assimilate the spirit of wokeness?
Twitter has censored a post by the president of the United States, this time for “a threat of harm against an identifiable group.” This despite the fact that this president routinely uses the popular social media platform to threaten to drop explosives on people in other countries without interference.
“We’ve placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our policy against abusive behavior, specifically, the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group,” Twitter stated on the platform. “Per our policies, this Tweet will remain on the service given its relevance to ongoing public conversation. Engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but not Like, Reply, or Retweet it.”
“There will never be an ‘Autonomous Zone’ in Washington, D.C., as long as I’m your President,” Trump’s censored tweet. “If they try they will be met with serious force!”
The post now shows up on the president’s timeline like this:
I’ve been writing all month about the brutal authoritarian crackdown America’s militarized police state has been inflicting upon US protesters who’ve been demonstrating against police brutality these last few weeks, so obviously I object to the threat of further force upon these same protesters by this same armed goon patrol. But Twitter did not censor Trump’s tweet because of any “threat of harm against an identifiable group.”
Know how I know? Because Twitter has been allowing Trump to make far more deadly threats throughout his entire administration.
Earlier this year, for example, Trump threatened to bomb 52 Iranian sites, “some at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture”, if the Islamic Republic responded militarily to his insane drone assassination of its top military leader. The president explicitly threatened that “those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
Or in April of 2018 when Trump used the platform to issue a threat that he actually followed through with, tweeting “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” Trump did indeed order airstrikes upon the Syrian government days later.
Or who could forget Trump repeatedly threatening North Korea with nuclear holocaust, tweeting “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
Twitter consistently allows its platform to be used to issue explicit threats of western imperialists against targets of western imperialism, like when it allowed Senator Marco Rubio to openly threaten to do to Maduro in Venezuela what the US and its allies did to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Gaddafi was brutally mutilated to death in 2011 by empire-backed insurgents under NATO air cover following a catastrophically devastating intervention that was launched on false humanitarian pretexts.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 24, 2019
These are all clearly “a threat of harm against an identifiable group.” But, because it’s a threat to inflict mass murder upon foreigners and not a threat to use teargas and batons on Americans, Twitter is fine with it.
This is openly built into Twitter’s terms of service; the social media giant waves these deadly threats through using the dismissive and carefully selected phrase “saber-rattling”, despite the fact that this president has followed through with such threats and has demonstrated an absolute willingness to use deadly military force.
“Presently, direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules,” Twitter says.
This deliberately crafted nonsensical distinction makes two things clear:
We’ve placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our policy against abusive behavior, specifically, the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group.https://t.co/AcmW6O6d4t
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) June 23, 2020
Twitter’s increasing censorship of Donald Trump will not hurt him politically, it will only inflame his support base who see themselves as the protectors of a president who is under constant attack by communists, Antifa, Satanists and pink-haired genderqueers who want to destroy statues of Jesus and then marry their sex toys in your local church. In fact the very last person in the world we should be worried about being censored is the man whose incredibly powerful office comes with its own built-in bully pulpit.
Rather, what we should be worried about is monopolistic and agenda-shaping Silicon Valley tech corporations enacting censorship with ever-increasing brazenness while demonstrating a clear and undeniable loyalty to the imperial war machine. The internet is playing a larger and larger role in the way people inform themselves about what’s going on in the world, and the lenses through which they perceive it are becoming more and more biased in favor of the bloodthirsty US power alliance.
Power is the ability to control what happens. Absolute power is the ability to control what people think about what happens. Our world does not widely understand this, and it is ruled by people who do. We’re going to have to change this if we’re to begin moving collectively toward health and harmony.
Fascists and their have, through history, been averse to the idea of communes. Communes always evoke in fascists their innate fear of popular uprisings against vicious statist governments. The popular musical “Les Miserables,” which is based on Victor Hugo’s eponymous novel about early 19th century France that saw the people rebel against resurgent royalists following the French Revolution, features a song about manning the barricades of a Parisian commune. The song, “Do You Hear the People Sing?”, includes the following lyrics:
“Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free.”
The Donald Trump administration, which is essentially a proto-fascist regime, reacted with an expected horror to the establishment of a barricaded Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or “CHAZ,” within six blocks of east Seattle during protests aimed at demanding an end to police brutality and other fascist law enforcement tactics.
Trump falsely claimed that Seattle’s traditional anti-war, anti-globalization, and counterculture district, was occupied by “antifa,” a non-existent organization that the far-right insists is made up of communists, anarchists, terrorists, and whatever bogeyman the right-wing decides top throw into the mix. In fact, “antifa” is a portmanteau of the words “anti,” meaning against, and fa, which is short for fascist.
The CHAZ in Seattle was declared by its residents, not outsider extremists as alleged by Trump and his allies, in the wake of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests after the police killing of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis. Trump vowed to take back control of CHAZ with federal troops if Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, both Democrats, failed to act. Such an action by Trump would have been illegal and unconstitutional on its face, but such threats have been part and parcel of Trump’s slide into fascist rule. In response to Trump’s idle threat, Durkan called the occupied area a large “block party” and told Trump to go back to his White House bunker. By June 12, Capitol Hill residential leaders were negotiating with the Seattle Police Department to permit them back into their vacated East Precinct district station, which lies in the heart of CHAZ.
The CHAZ almost immediately drew the ire of fascist vigilante gangs in the Pacific Northwest, where many such groups are often indistinguishable from police and sheriff departments. One right-wing vigilante drove his car through a group of protesters in the CHAZ and shot a protester at point-blank range. Fox News began altering its videos to show non-existent armed “antifa” gangs patrolling inside the CHAZ. Fox News’s propaganda was worthy of that spewed forth by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels’s diatribes against Socialists and Communists during the dying days of Germany’s Weimar Republic.
The fascist right in the United States, with Mr. Trump as their loudest spokesman, began linking the CHAZ and similar nascent autonomous protest zones in Nashville, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina to “anarchists,” “antifa,” and “Communists.” However, the autonomous zones in Seattle and those attempted in Nashville and Asheville were nothing more than large “block parties” reminiscent of the “teach-in” protests held on college campuses during anti-Vietnam War protests in the 1960s. However, it was part of a right-wing propaganda barrage to liken Seattle and other protest zones to the Paris Commune of 1871.
After the surrender of the French government to Prussian forces in 1871, members of the French National Guard and workers established a revolutionary workers’ government in Paris. All laws that perpetuated military control over Paris were abolished, making the Paris Commune not much different than the CHAZ zone’s expulsion of police who had subjected residents of the Seattle Capitol Hill neighborhood to pepper spray, flash bang grenade, and other “non-lethal” weaponry attacks. As seen with civil rights protests around the United States and the toppling of statues honoring the Confederacy, Christopher Columbus, and Jim Crow-era segregationist politicians, the Paris Commune destroyed the Vendôme Column, which honored the military victories of Emperor Napoleon I. When the French Army entered Paris to restore the control of the exiled French government in Versailles, the Paris communards erected barricades to defend the commune. After the French Army defeated the communards, many of the revolutionaries were arrested and sentenced to death. Others were deported to French colonies like New Caledonia.
Just as Trump and his Republican lackeys called the CHAZ protesters “anarchists” and “antifa,” the U.S. ambassador to France at the time of the Paris Commune, Elihu Washburne, referred to the communards as “brigands,” “scoundrels,” and “assassins.” Any time power is seized by the people from the right-wing elites, there is always a propaganda campaign to demonize left-wing activists in the worst possible terms. It was the case in 1871 in Paris and it is currently the case in Seattle in 2020.
Seattle’s CHAZ is negotiating with city authorities on not only the return of the police under certain prerequisites, including a no-use policy on chemical agents like pepper spray and tear gas on neighborhood residents and homeless people, but also on institutionalizing the CHAZ as a governing entity. This development makes the CHAZ more like the Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Established in 1971 on the grounds of a vacated military base, Copenhagen protesters upset with the high cost of housing established their own rent-free and police-free autonomous zone. One of the leaders of Freetown Christiania was Danish journalist Jacob Ludvigsen. He wrote: “The objective of Christiania is to create a self-governing society whereby each and every individual holds themselves responsible over the well-being of the entire community. Our society is to be economically self-sustaining and, as such, our aspiration is to be steadfast in our conviction that psychological and physical destitution can be averted.”
Although Denmark’s Social Democratic governments allowed Christiania to fend for itself, conservative control by Prime Minister and later NATO Secretary General Andres Fogh Rasmussen meant trouble for Christiania. In 2004, Denmark’s Conservative government declared Christiania’s “autonomy” to be illegal. In 2005, Christiania’s 1000 residents decided to ban hashish booths along “Pusher Street” in the enclave to forestall a government invasion. In 2007, Copenhagen police entered Christiania in force. Tear gas was used on the commune’s resistance forces. Rasmussen and his right-wingers, many of them the ideological descendants of Denmark’s pro-German government during the Nazi occupation, wanted to expel Christiania’s residents as “squatters” and turn the land over to developers for the building of expensive housing units. Lawyers for the government claimed that Christiania’s residents were only given the right to “borrow” the land, not own it, pursuant to a 1989 agreement. Currently, the government of Denmark, which has, in essence, has become Denmark, Incorporated, a capitalist contrivance masquerading as a social welfare state, has given Christiania’s residents the option of buying their properties. Meanwhile, the land development vultures continue to circle the autonomous village within a city.
History has not been kind to autonomous communes. Paris’s 1871 commune was brutally put down. Revolutionary Catalonia fell to the fascist forces of Generalissimo Francisco Franco in 1938. The Kowloon Walled City was demolished in 1993 and Free Derry, an Irish nationalist enclave in Northern Ireland ended with OPERATION MOTORMAN, a massive British armed forces invasion in 1972. Athens’s anti-austerity autonomous zone of Exarcheia is now largely a thing of the past, thanks to Greece’s right-wing government. The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES), a libertarian socialist collective government of Kurds, Arabs, Syriac-Assyrians, and Turkmen, in predominantly Kurdish areas of Syria, is under siege by Turkish, Syrian, and pro-Saudi jihadist forces.
A few environmentalist Zones to Defend or “ZADS” continue to exist in France and Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities or MAREZs continue to guard against Mexican federal government incursion in the rebellious Chiapas state. Christiania has suffered a slow burn to what will likely be its extinction and redevelopment as a community for Copenhagen’s wealthy elites. Seattle’s CHAZ has a rather trustworthy negotiating partner in the Seattle mayor and city council and perhaps it will continue to exist in some form. But with Trump, his supporters, and fascist armed vigilante gangs making ominous noises, CHAZ could go the way of the 1871 Paris Commune.
Black Americans are dying at almost three times the rate whites are, with Latinos and Native Americans also dying at elevated levels to the rest of the population.
The United States continues to lift emergency COVID-19 restrictions, even as infection rates continue to climb in many states. June 18 and 19 saw over 33,000 new cases each, among the highest daily totals since the pandemic began. Economically, the pressure for tens of millions has not been lifted at all and new data from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) shows that over 45.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the lockdown was announced. An untold number of businesses have permanently shuttered, with entire industries like tourism, sports, education and catering facing uncertain futures. Even the American Pyrotechnics Association requested a bailout, warning that cancellation of July 4 fireworks displays will create mass bankruptcies throughout the industry.
Yet one group that has fared exceptionally well is the world’s ultra-wealthy. Since the shutdown began on March 18, America’s billionaire class has seen their wealth grow by $584 billion, or 20 percent. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, again the world’s richest individual, has added nearly $44 billion to his fortune in the last three months, and is now worth an estimated $156.8 billion, according to the IPS. Some, like Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, have more than doubled their wealth.
How can you watch billionaires grow their wealth by $584,000,000,000 during a pandemic that throws 44 million Americans into unemployment and not think the system needs to fundamentally change?
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) June 18, 2020
Chuck Collins, the IPS’ Director the Program on Inequality and the Common Good, told MintPress that this orgy of accumulation cannot continue indefinitely:
These extreme levels of concentrated wealth among billionaires and the racial wealth divide are not sustainable. This gap is fueling economic volatility, a breakdown in civic life, and deep and legitimate anger at an economy rigged in favor of the wealthy.”
“The marker of centuries of injustice”
America’s minority communities have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, both medically and economically. Black Americans are dying at almost three times the rate whites are, with Latinos and Native Americans also dying at elevated levels to the rest of the population. This is due primarily down to structural and historic factors, rather than genetics, with centuries of injustice leading to a myriad of economic and medical inequalities making infection and death more likely for certain groups. Minorities disproportionately hold low-paid jobs that are impossible to do from home, leading to economic ruin for many. The IPS’ calculations find that the 640 American billionaires now have a combined wealth of $3.58 trillion — more than the entire collective wealth of 59 million Latinos in the U.S. ($3.49 trillion).
Perhaps even more startlingly, the 12 richest Americans share a combined wealth of $921 billion, equivalent to the home equity wealth of the entire black population — over 17 million households. “We are living in an intense moment in history — a time when major public policy failures and social inequality are revealing themselves after being obscured by a seemingly strong economy,” wrote the IPS.
“This disparity of wealth is the marker of centuries of injustice, running from the chattel slavery, Jim Crow, separate and unequal, predatory lending, and other forms of systematic discrimination in wealth-building opportunities. This history is reflected in real disparities of wealth in bank accounts, property ownership, and other measures of assets,” Collins told MintPress.
The rapidly expanding class and racial wealth gap, where working- and middle-class Americans were offered only a one-time conditional $1,200 check while the super-wealthy were given tens of billions in tax cuts under the CARES Act, coupled with the mass unemployment the coronavirus brought with it, provided the highly flammable backdrop of discontent. In May, the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd was the spark that engulfed the nation.
“Behind the anger in the streets at police abuse is the awareness that black, brown, and Native people are disproportionately disenfranchised, suffering, and dying in the pandemic. And behind that is the multi-generational racial wealth divide. White supremacy is the pre-existing condition to the intensity of the response,” Collins added.
Rapid measures are needed
The new IPS report lays out a checklist of eight major policy proposals designed to address the problem of rapidly expanding racial and economic inequality. “We cannot repeat these same mistakes. The program to speed our recovery from the pandemic economy must be designed to reduce the racial asset gap, not inflame it. Surging billionaire wealth contrasting with a worsening racial wealth divide undercuts the solidarity and unity required to overcome the health and economic challenges of this pandemic,” they wrote.
The proposals include four rapid measures:
The four longer-term policies to address the problem include:
The IPS also suggests that progressive taxation, including a millionaire surtax, a financial transaction tax, and tougher estate and wealth taxes on the super rich would improve the functioning and cohesion of society. A 10 percent surtax on the top 0.2 percent of the U.S.(those with incomes over $2 million per year), they calculate, would net around $636 billion over the next ten years. They also call for the shutting down of offshore tax havens, where an estimated $32 trillion is hidden globally.
While COVID-19 is often spoken about as if it is a thing of the past, the rate of infections is increasing in 23 states, some almost exponentially, sparking fears of the dreaded “second wave.” Given what happened during the previous shutdown, if another one is to occur, it will likely be the poorest and most vulnerable communities who suffer the most.
As of this month, the United States is deploying three of its aircraft carriers simultaneously to patrol the Pacific in what is designed to be a clear threat to China. Each carrier strike group comprises destroyers, aircraft and submarines. The U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers in total.
Rear Admiral Stephen Koehler, director of operations at Indo-Pacific Command, is quoted as saying of the unusual deployment. “Carriers and carrier strike groups writ large are phenomenal symbols of American naval power. I really am pretty fired up that we’ve got three of them at the moment.”
Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, admitted that the operations were provocative, albeit suggesting that the reality was somehow a propaganda coup for Beijing. She said: “The Chinese will definitely portray this as an example of U.S. provocations, and as evidence that the U.S. is a source of instability in the region.”
Forget about Chinese “portrayal”. It seems plainly factual that Washington is ramping up belligerence and instability in the Pacific.
The unprecedented muscle-flexing by the U.S. comes at a time when political relations between Washington and Beijing have descended into a new Cold War. President Donald Trump is whipping up his support base with renewed racist slurs against China over the coronavirus pandemic. At recent rallies in Oklahoma and Arizona, the president has referred to the “Kung Flu” and a “plague” sent from China.
Meanwhile, Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told an online conference last week that the Beijing government is a “rogue actor” threatening supposed democratic Western states. Pompeo urged European allies to stand with the U.S. against China’s “tyranny”.
For its part, Beijing slammed Pompeo for spreading “political virus” with a “deep-seated Cold War mentality”.
The anti-China hysteria in Washington has reached fever pitch. Part of that stems from the Trump administration’s necessity to scapegoat China for its own disastrous mismanagement of the coronavirus disease which has seen the death toll in the U.S. surpass 120,000, with no sign of easing up. That’s nearly a quarter of the world’s death toll, a grim tally which is likely to keep on mounting in coming weeks as Trump desperately pushes for reopening of business-as-usual.
Then there is the longer, underlying trend of strategic confrontation. It was under President Barack Obama in 2011 that the U.S. embarked on a “Pivot to Asia”, heralding the explicit focus on China as a perceived global target for American power.
The Trump administration has merely followed through on that strategic agenda of confrontation with China. Which tends to demonstrate the structural nature of U.S. political power, whereby presidents may come and go, but imperialist policy is set on a constant course of deep state planning.
Trump’s fiery personality has certainly added fuel to the anti-China drive with his hobby-horse on the trade war, accusing China of “raping” American industries and all sorts of other alleged skulduggery.
That was before the coronavirus pandemic brutally exposed the frailty of U.S. economic power and Trump’s so-called “Make America Great Again” delusion. Thus, a scapegoat had to be found for the “outrage” of exposing American hubris as an empty shell. Step up China, a ready-made propaganda target for U.S. imperialism.
A study this week by the China-based National Institute of South China Sea Studies claims that the Trump administration is deploying U.S. military power on an ever-increasing greater scale. During the two Obama administrations, the U.S. Navy carried out four “freedom of navigation” operations in the contested South China Sea. Under Trump, the number of such operations has reached 22, according to the institute.
What’s more disturbing, however, is the lines of communication between American and Chinese military commanders have apparently been drastically reduced since Trump took office in 2017.
That means with the massive buildup of U.S. military force around China in the South China Sea and Strait of Taiwan there is a serious risk of some incident or perceived trespass spiraling out of control. (We have yet to see a comparable buildup of Chinese navy off California or Virginia.) American and Chinese warships have already ran into dangerous near misses. But what makes the present situation all the more perilous is the vacuum in military-to-military communications plus the toxic tensions that the Trump administration has deliberately wound up with Beijing. Trust is at rock-bottom despite Trump’s past chummy words for Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Washington is not only insinuating that China is legally liable for “decimating the global economy”. The Trump administration is demanding that the European Union curtail its economic relations with China. All sorts of slander is thrown at Beijing, from posing as a national security risk with its telecoms technology, to undermining European national sovereignty because China is investing in infrastructure projects across the EU.
Given that the EU is China’s biggest trading partner, such demands by Washington are a direct assault on Beijing’s vital global interests.
Sailing a U.S. armada towards China is not some isolated maneuver – provocative that that is. It is evidently a configuration of hostility, ranging from political to economic to military. It’s classic imperialist power play by a decaying empire whose zero-sum mentality is a precursor for war.
John Bolton’s new memoir “The Room Where It Happened,” which came out two days ago in spite of White House attempts to block it, is the standard kiss and tell that senior American politicians and officials tend to write to make money for their retirement. There should be no question but that Bolton has done his best to cast the president in as bad a light as possible, which is easily done considering that communicating by twitter and through insults leaves a lot of room for second guessing about motive and intentions.
As required by law, Bolton’s book was reviewed for classified information starting in December, and when the process was finished it was started all over again, making clear that the tit for tat over the contents was essentially political and unrelated to national security. Having failed to stop the publication, the Trump Justice Department will now move to take away Bolton’s earnings from the book, a tactic that originated back in the 1970s with CIA whistleblower Frank Snepp’s “Decent Interval.” Critics of the security review process have noted that when a book says nice things about the government it is rarely interfered with no matter what classified information it might reveal, while a work that is unfriendly can expect to be hammered and delayed by the state secrets bureaucracy.
Why Donald Trump hired leading neoconservative John Bolton in the first place remains somewhat of a mystery, but the most plausible theory is that the number one GOP donor Sheldon Adelson demanded it. Adelson regards Bolton as something of a protégé and was particularly taken by Bolton’s enthusiasm for attacking Iran, something that the Las Vegas casino magnate and the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu both passionately desired.
After months of an apparently difficult tenure as National Security Advisor, John Bolton was finally fired from the White House on September 10, 2019, but the post mortem on why it took so long to remove him continued for some time afterwards, with the punditry and media trying to understand exactly what happened and why. Perhaps the most complete explanation for what occurred came from President Donald Trump himself shortly after the fact. He said, in some impromptu comments, that his national security advisor had “…made some very big mistakes when he talked about the Libyan model for Kim Jong Un. That was not a good statement to make. You just take a look at what happened with Gadhafi. That was not a good statement to make. And it set us back.”
Incredible as it may seem, Trump had a point in that Bolton was clearly suggesting that North Korea get rid of its nuclear weapons in exchange for economic benefits, but it was the wrong example to pick as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gave up his weapons and was then ousted and brutally killed in a rebel uprising that was supported by Washington. The Bolton analogy, which may have been deliberate attempt to sabotage any rapprochement, made impossible any agreement between Kim and Trump as Kim received the message loud and clear that he might suffer the same fate.
Subsequently, Bolton might have been behind media leaks that scuttled Trump’s plan to meet with Taliban representatives and that also, acting on behalf of Israel, undercut a presidential suggestion that he might meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Trump summed up his disagreements with Bolton by saying that the National Security Advisor “wasn’t getting along” with other administration officials, adding that “Frankly he wanted to do things — not necessarily tougher than me. John’s known as a tough guy. He’s so tough he got us into Iraq. That’s tough. But he’s somebody that I actually had a very good relationship with, but he wasn’t getting along with people in the administration who I consider very important. And you know John wasn’t in line with what we were doing. And actually in some cases he thought it was too tough, what we were doing. Mr. Tough Guy.”
Trump’s final comment on Bolton was that “I’m sure he’ll do whatever he can do to spin it his way,” a throw-away line that pretty much predicted the writing of the book. Bolton has many supporters among hardliners in the GOP and the media as well as among democracy promoting progressive Trump haters and it will be interesting to see what damage can be inflicted on the president’s reelection campaign.
Pre-publication reviews have focused on the takeaways from the book. The most damaging claim appears to be that Donald Trump asked the Chinese government to buy more agricultural products from the U.S. to help American farmers, which the president described as a key constituency for his reelection. Bolton claims that Trump specifically asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to buy American soybeans and other farm commodities and, as a possible quid pro quo, Trump intervened to reduce some financial penalties imposed on the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE for evading sanctions on Iran and North Korea.
Also concerning China, Bolton asserts that the president encouraged Xi to continue building concentration camps for the Muslim Uighurs, a religious and ethnic minority largely concentrated in the country’s Xinjiang region. The context of the alleged comment is not clear, nor is it easy to imagine how the subject even came up, so the claim might be regarded as exaggerated or even apocryphal. Bolton was not even present when the alleged conversation took place and only learned of it second hand.
Other claims made by Bolton include that Trump didn’t know that Britain was a nuclear power and that Finland is not part of Russia. The book also describes in some detail how Trump spent most of his time in White House intelligence briefings presenting his own views instead of listening to what analysts from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) offices had to say.
That Donald Trump was a poor student and is an intellectual lightweight has been noted by many observers. Combining that with his essential lack of curiosity about the world and its peoples means that he does not know much about foreigners and the places they live in. But it is both condescending and somewhat of a cheap trick by Bolton to pillory him for his ignorance.
The media’s vision of the most damaging charge, that Trump colluded with the Chinese, is, quite frankly ridiculous. Buying American agricultural products is in the interest of both farmers and the U.S. economy. Reducing penalties on a major Chinese company as a sweetener and to mitigate bilateral tensions is called diplomacy. Of course, anything a president does with a foreign country will potentially have an impact when reelection time rolls along, but it would be difficult to suggest that Trump did anything wrong.
The Bolton book has also been critiqued by some, including the New York Times, as the exposure of “a president who sees his office as an instrument to advance his own personal and political interests over those of the nation.” Bolton writes how “Throughout my West Wing tenure, Trump wanted to do what he wanted to do, based on what he knew and what he saw as his own best personal interests… I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations.”
Trump is, to be sure, a man who has subordinated the dignity of the office he holds to personal ambition, but he differs more in the pervasiveness of his actions than in the substance. Many other presidents have made many of the same calculations as Trump though they have been more restrained and careful about expressing them.
Finally, a number of editors who have read review copies of the book have observed how badly written and organized it is. If anyone is looking for a real indictment of Donald Trump and all his works, they will not find it in the Bolton book. Apart from the new information it provides, which seems little enough, it would appear to be a waste of $20 to possibly enrich an author who has been promoting and saying “more please” to America’s wars for the past 20 years.
1. The Dutch Government’s 279-page investigative findings on the “Crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17” were published in October 2015, and reported, on
page 84, (under 2.13.2 “Crew autopsy”) that “First Officer Team A … During the body scan of the First Officer’s body, over 120 objects (mostly metal fragments) were detected. The majority of the fragments were found in left side of the upper torso.” Then, it reported, on
page 85 (under 2.13.3) “the First Officer, from Team A, who was operating the aeroplane at the time of the crash.”
(Note that they buried this crucial information, instead of saying clearly that “The pilot’s upper left torso, immediately to the left of the area of the fuselage that had been shot out, had 120 objects that were mostly metal fragments.”) (Here is a closer picture of that side-panel on the left side of the fuselage, to the pilot’s immediate left, and here is that side-panel shown back on the airliner, so that one can see that this firing had to have been done from below, shooting upward into the pilot.)
This crucial physical finding, that the pilot’s corpse had been loaded with “over 120 objects (mostly metal fragments),” is entirely consistent with the side-panel’s having been shot through by bullets, which would have been coming from a Ukrainian military jet and aimed upward, directly at the pilot. That marksman had to have been highly proficient in order to hit the pilot so accurately with so many bullets.
Nothing else was found to be shot through with anything like such an intensity of “mostly metal fragments,” but only the pilot’s upper left torso. This, alone, is virtually conclusive proof that a Ukrainian military jet plane had fired directly at the pilot in order to bring down this civilian plane. (More will be cited here, in #2 below.)
All of this evidence was entirely buried and ignored by the Dutch Government, revealed deep in the report, and only in sub-clauses, instead of in any direct sentences.
Furthermore: “There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pockmarked with what almost looks like machine-gun fire, very very strong machine-gun fire.” This remarkable statement comes not from Haisenko, but from one of the first OSCE investigators who arrived at the scene of the disaster. Go to youtube.com and you will see it. [But, now, it has been removed. Here is the information on that video. That video was titled “OSCE monitor mentions bullet holes in MH17”.]
That evidence is consistent with the Dutch Government’s having found (but buried) that the pilot’s corpse had been riddled with “metal fragments.”
Instead, the Dutch Government is charging Russia as having fired a Buk missile at the airliner and thus brought it down.
2. As I reported on 8 March 2020, under the heading “Why do the U.S. and its allies hide these facts from the public?”:
The latest are document-dumps and accompanying detailed explanations and translations of the revealed documents, and are from Bonanza Media. That’s a Finland-based website. Their “Bonanza Leaks” on 24 February 2020 shows photos of the official transcriptions of the witnesses’ testimony to the official Joint Investigative Team (JIT) which the U.S-allied Dutch Government operates in order to convict Russia for the shoot-down of the MH17 Malaysian airliner on 17 July 2014 above the civil-war zone in Ukraine. It includes an accompanying video presentation of these documents, from a day earlier, on February 23rd, titled “Bonanza Media LeaksTalk”. That video includes this: “Australian police confirm that these are authentic documents” (in response to Bonanza Media’s having supplied Australian police with the photos), and “these are original documents,” which their video shows. Then, they showed their documents to the JIT’s own office in Netherlands, which refused to comment. One document, from the Director of the Military Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands, to the public prosecutor of the National Prosecutor’s Office on Counter Terrorism, P.O. Box 395, 3000 AJ Rotterdam, dated 21 September 2016, opens (this being the official Dutch translation, but the original Dutch being also shown), “Herewith, I am informing, pursuant to Section 38 of the Intelligence and Security Services Act 2002, of data that is possibly of importance for the criminal investigation into the crashing of flight MH17.” After stating the evidence they had accumulated from witnesses and from allied-Government intelligence agencies, this document closes: “On this basis MIVD [Dutch military intelligence agency] draws the conclusion that from these two Russian ground based air systems near Rostov na Dona [the only two Russian bases that possibly would have been associated with the shoot-down of the MH17] no missile launch took place on 17 July 2014.” More information about the Bonanza Leaks disclosures can be found from the investigative journalist John Helmer in Moscow, headlining on February 25th, “NATO Military Intelligence Agencies Repeatedly Reported in Secret There Was No Evidence of a Russian Buk Missile in Eastern Ukraine or Firing on MH17”.
As I have documented on many occasions, even the JIT’s [‘Joint Investigative Team’s’] own ‘case’ against Russia, regarding the MH17 shoot-down, is founded upon and cites ‘evidence’ which actually disproves Russia’s involvement, and proves that this downing was instead a Ukrainian Government operation. As I said at that link, “U.S. President Barack Obama had become desperate for something to happen that would persuade German Chancellor Angela Merkel to endorse added sanctions against Russia regarding Ukraine, but I had had no idea, until now, as to what direct involvement, if any, he had had in the actual setting-up of the MH17 shoot-down.” But he has hardly been alone in this effort. Not only Barack Obama but also now Donald Trump are implicated in it — Trump for his continuing Obama’s guilt in it and cover-ups about it.
The U.S. is a bipartisan dictatorship. Is that opinion? It is all documented, in the links. This (like the U.S. Government’s having been behind Ukraine’s downing of the MH17) is therefore still news instead of history; but it remains news only because it still remains hidden in the U.S. and its allied regimes; it is NOT “opinion.” It will remain news as long as the U.S.-and-allied blackout of the evidence remains in effect. And the U.S. dictatorship has long been not only domestic but international as well, a dictatorship over what it calls its ‘allies’ and even over some countries which claim to to be ‘neutral’.
Another example of this international dictatorship is that the supposedly U.N.-authorized and not U.S.-controlled OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons), which is really controlled by the U.S. Government, routinely lies when it needs to in order to protect the U.S. Government from being publicly revealed to have perpetrated an international war-crime.
Everything is consistent with the news-report that I initially published on the last day of 2018 and then updated on 9 January 2018, and which was titled “MH17 TURNABOUT: Ukraine’s Guilt Now PROVEN.” Among the proofs which were supplied there was that the evidence that the Dutch Government had supplied alleging to prove that a certain Buk missile and launcher, which they showed pictures of, was the specific system that had shot down the MH17, happened to display (though Ukraine seems not even to have noticed this) parts-numbers on them that happened to remain in Russia’s records ever since this equipment had been acquired by the Ukrainian state government in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) back in 1986 immediately after having been manufactured in the Russian state, and had remained consistently in Ukraine’s air force and maintained by the Russian manufacturer ever since, so that if this equipment had shot down the MH17, then Ukraine’s Air Force (now under the national Ukrainian Government) would have shot down the MH17; Russia’s Air Force wouldn’t. The Dutch Government simply ignored this evidence that Russia supplied to them after Holland had blamed that specific equipment-set for having done this shoot-down, but promptly then abandoned its allegation that this equipment had been the specific system that shot down the MH17. That article also included a “missing BBC report” in which the BBC’s reporter Olga Ivshina appeared to have been shocked when locals in the area of the shoot-down all told her of having seen no missile at the time, but instead two Ukrainian jets rising toward the airliner right before that airliner descended from the sky. I concluded my report by saying, “Now, which major news-media in The West will report these solidly documented facts? Isn’t it time, finally, that they should start doing that? Or, do they have no honor, at all?” It’s a damning case against not only the U.S.-allied governments but their ‘news’-media, which still hide all of this crucial evidence from their respective publics. All of them war against their own publics. My report linked to all of this evidence, so that readers can see it for themselves.
3. And, finally, there is now a new report, on June 22nd, from the great independent Australian and American (dual-citizen) investigative journalist John Helmer, who lives in Moscow, headlining “HOW THE DUTCH PROSECUTION AND THE JUDGE HAVE RIGGED THE OUTCOME OF THE MH17 TRIAL ON A CHARGE THAT REQUIRES NO PROOF”. It is the coup de grace, against the Dutch Government, and against the entire U.S.-allied team, which in the MH17 case consisted of not only Holland but also Australia and also Belgium and also (and most especially) Ukraine (which latter country’s Government had intentionally shot down the MH17 so as to blame against Russia (as they are doing) in order to supply to Barack Obama an argument that Angela Merkel could use in order to rally her own country in support of greatly hiked anti-Russian sanctions so that the IMF would follow through with the the next multi-billion-dollar loan to Ukraine, in order for Ukraine to continue paying its soldiers in Ukraine’s ongoing war against its rebelling and now independent former region of Ukraine, Donbas, which area directly borders on Russia in Ukraine’s far east.
In February 2014, Obama had overthrown in a violent coup Ukraine’s democratically elected neutralist Government, which had been elected in 2010 and received around 90% of the vote in Donbas; so, Donbas declared its independence from Ukraine, and Obama and the IMF and the entire U.S. team were demanding Ukraine to conquer Donbas, which conquest needed money that Ukraine didn’t have but had to borrow. Obama’s plan had originally included to turn Russia’s largest naval base, which was located in Crimea, into a U.S. naval base. That part of his plan failed.
After Ukraine shot down the MH17, it demanded, and got (on 7 August 2014), from its then-three partners in the JIT, including Holland, absolute veto-power over any ‘findings’ that the team would publish. Initially, the team’s allegation was that Donbas separatists had shot down the plane, mistaking it for a Ukrainian military plane that was about to bomb them. Then it switched to blaming Russian soldiers. Then the ‘investigation’ just dragged on for years, trying to find evidence which might persuade enough of the public so as not to become an embarrassment. And, finally, as Helmer reports, the Dutch Government has prepared a criminal charge against Russia that reverts back again to blaming Russia for its having been supporting the separatists whose villages were being bombed by Ukraine, but which, in order to be able to impose penalties against Russia, is based upon no “case law that would be relevant to the issue.” This is a last-ditch effort, but it will be able to work if the Dutch judge is corrupt enough to accept it.
If you don’t already know these facts, then you’ve been getting your ‘news’ from lying media (such as the Washington Post), which aim to eliminate the media (such as this one) that have been reporting (instead of ignoring, or outright denying) these facts. This report is thus American samizdat. You are here reading forbidden news. (It’s actually forbidden history, but if it was never before reported to you, then it still is news, to you.)
Sensible people with a modicum of historical perspective are raising the question that until recently they dared only whisper: Quo vadis United States of America?
We can delegate to specialists debate over the ultimate nature and causes of the current unrest in the United States. The focus here is not on that but on one of the more ominous characteristics of the crisis, whatever its origins might be judged to be. In the Capitol Hill neighbourhood of Seattle two weeks ago, for the first time since the Civil War in the 1860s, something purporting to be a competing government was established on U.S. territory. So far, the organized forces of society, the legitimate (should we say condescendingly, the “internationally recognized”?) government, have not reacted to that challenge in any way, other than to meekly submit to some of the usurpers’ most outrageous demands. Those demands have so far centered mainly on preliminary issues such as “defunding” local law and order forces and restricting the range of tools available to them to deal with lawlessness. The resulting demoralization and disorientation of the police force, engendered by the cowardly and politically short-sighted capitulation of city of Seattle and state of Washington political leaders, is bound to have grave consequences later on. At some time in the near future, the foolishly emboldened terrorists will have to be suppressed by those same policemen (perhaps even assisted by regular army troops) once the evils released from Pandora’s box multiply and the civil breakdown becomes extensive and intolerable.
The gift of prophecy would have been unnecessary, historical perspective being enough, to accurately foresee the gangrenous spread of the Capitol Hill model elsewhere in the country, once goon squads who were trained, poised, and waiting for the authorities to demonstrate their fecklessness got the message that they could engage in repercussion-free rampages. Predictably, new “liberated zones,” run by elements that would not be described inaccurately as terrorists, are now emerging elsewhere, in Portland, Atlanta, and Minneapolis. To drive the point home, the local Seattle warlord and his henchmen have put up highly provocative signs at exit points from their illegally seized domain: “You are entering the United States of America.”
This still is not an American replay of 1917 Russia, but it might be approaching Russia’s 1905. Or, to suggest a contemporary and perhaps more meaningful analogy, it may be a re-enactment of the initial stages of the Yugoslav dissolution process detonated in the early 1990s.
Minor technical differences being duly acknowledged (the Yugoslav collapse was induced with ethnic tensions as the principal driver, while in the U.S. that role is assigned to racial tensions), there still remain impressive broad analogies. In early 90s Yugoslavia, the federal government also was disunited in purpose and political program. Latent separatisms that had kept a low profile while the economy was good and, mostly by inertia, the centralist idea still enjoyed a measure of prestige, suddenly emerged as respectable options and began to attract adherents. Violence broke out at selected points in Yugoslavia (it is still unclear who selected them and according to what criteria), as if to test the will and capacity of bewildered government structures to protect citizens and impose order. Demands to reconfigure the Yugoslav federation, rather than to deal directly with the rising tide of disorder, were put forward by demagogic local leaders who seized the attention of a divided and confused public. It soon became clear that the demagogues’ goal was not to improve the federation but to seize parts of it and turn them into their own “independent” fiefdoms. With the growing irrelevance of the central authorities, international mediation, unmistakably favouring the centripetal forces, was imposed. The “death of Yugoslavia” (as someone famously put it) was assured, and those who directed the process were obviously keen that the decedent’s rigour mortis be as uncontrollably violent as possible.
Yugoslavia scarcely would have died if influential elements within the governing apparatus had not seen advantages for themselves in helping to undermine its vitality and cohesion. Whether or not they precisely envisaged the ultimate consequences of their conduct is an intriguing question, but for the moment it can be set aside. The destroyers from outside the system and their enablers from within the system worked in tandem because they saw their separate agendas converging at certain key points. Ultimately the enablers from within the system set in motion forces that undermined their own authority, and when the smoke had cleared they were unceremoniously swept aside.
Only someone cognitively dissonant or wilfully blind will fail to sense a disturbingly similar pattern playing itself out in post-corona America.
Here is an example that should ring alarm bells. In the already entrenched “autonomous zone” of Seattle a few days ago a murder occurred and another citizen was wounded in the shootout. But here’s the rub: “The shooting happened at about 3 am in the area near downtown known as the Chaz, short for ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’, police said in a statement on Twitter. Seattle’s police department claimed in a press release on Saturday morning that when officers responded to reports of gunshots inside the protest zone, they ‘were met by a violent crowd that prevented officers safe access to the victims’.”
The police were successfully prevented from performing one of their basic functions, in this case not mob control, but simply investigating a crime scene and assisting victims.
The hooligans then sent a clear message who is in charge: “Police were later informed that the protesters’ own medics transported the two gunshot wound victims to a hospital, the department said.”
City authorities put their tail between their legs and did nothing about it. Inhabitants of the former Yugoslavia would have no difficulty interpreting the portentous significance of this comparatively minor incident and drawing proper conclusions from it.
Should it come as a surprise, then, that police in Atlanta are now inventing pretexts not to come to work and that they are increasingly refusing to respond to emergency 911 calls? Their stated rationale, that they are acting in solidarity with one of their colleagues who is being criminally prosecuted for shooting a black man to death under controversial circumstances, sounds rather indeed. But their underlying concern is serious enough, and it is a symptom of the slow disintegration of the system. Policemen see the writing on the wall and know that standard rules for dealing with lawlessness have been suspended. They do not want to risk being exposed to criminal charges for making a politically incorrect decision in a tense situation. Quite sensibly, they prefer not to be cannon fodder in confrontational games between the various warring factions of the political elite.
The process of controlled demolition has started and it is in its initial stages. Unless firm and decisive steps are taken now to counteract it using methods more civilized and professional, and less inflammatory, than those applied to the Branch Davidians, the emerging trends will at every turn become more difficult to control and reverse. Police forces are by definition the first line of defense of a cohesive and orderly society. Their demoralization and withdrawal of social support for the proper execution of their task augurs ill for the body politic in question.
All that may be music for the ears of Professor Panarin, of course strictly in his capacity as a scholarly predictor of political trends (and here). Panarin, however, has the privilege of watching the unfolding of his increasingly fashionable ideas from a safe distance. The show is less fun to watch from ground zero.
This month, when protesters took to the streets of America to rage against ‘police brutality’ and ‘white supremacy’ following the death of George Floyd, millions of the participants unwittingly landed on the radar of location tracking companies. What happened to that information next may surprise some people.
Mapping technology is possibly the most revolutionary invention to come along since the Model T, yet you’ll never see or hear the invisible innovation sputtering down the street.
The groundbreaking technology, also known as ‘geofencing,’ makes it possible to track millions of people with pinpoint accuracy every minute of every day. For retailers, this massive amount of harvested data through smartphones is an invaluable source of information on consumer behavior, and there are a number of companies that now cater to that niche.
Foursquare, for example, is one of the heavyweights in the location technology industry. It works with some 150,000 app developers and many Fortune 100 companies. The problem with this new tracking technology, however, is that we are in the Wild West stage of its development; there are no formal rules governing its use. In fact, regulating what companies do with our personal information is so worrisome that Jeff Glueck, the CEO of Foursquare, floated the idea in a New York Times opinion piece that those working in the location data business “take a Hippocratic oath for data science…and hope that living by such an oath would curb abuses.”
It sounds like a grand idea, but nobody should hold their breath in expectation of it happening, especially now that the technology is being used in the political ream in the most consequential election year to come along in decades.
The political implications
As streets across the United States erupted this month with Black Lives Matter/Antifa protests following the death of George Floyd, tracking technology was given a golden opportunity for some raw beta testing.
Given the volatile nature of the protests, some may have thought that Silicon Valley was tracking protesters for the purpose of connecting them to criminal activities, like looting, physical assault and vandalism. After all, if smartphones can trace individuals legally shopping in Saks Fifth Avenue, for example, it should be equally capable of tracing looters inside of the same outlet.
Or perhaps the technology was used as a way of determining how many of the protesters had shown up at the events from other cities and states. After all, we saw such savvy techniques put to use at the peak of the Covid pandemic when college students crowded the beaches of Fort Lauderdale for the annual spring break revelry.
Tectonix GEO tweeted out a digitized map that showed the “secondary locations” of beachgoers after they departed Florida. It may have been very instructive had the same technology been applied after the Black Lives Matter protests dispersed to better understand the movement’s origins. But that is not what the tracking technology was used for.
Want to see the true potential impact of ignoring social distancing? Through a partnership with @xmodesocial, we analyzed secondary locations of anonymized mobile devices that were active at a single Ft. Lauderdale beach during spring break. This is where they went across the US: pic.twitter.com/3A3ePn9Vin
— Tectonix GEO (@TectonixGEO) March 25, 2020
Instead, the technology was used to sign up those individuals who protested the death of George Floyd to the Democratic Party. The Black Lives Matter/Antifa protests gave Democrat political strategists the ability to trace the participants of those events by their cellphone numbers and target them with messages about registering to vote, for example, or supporting other political activities.
The Collective, for example, a political group that works to elect African-Americans, began a campaign earlier this year to enlist Democratic voters while the main topic in the United States was impeaching the 45th POTUS not racism. In fact, Michael Bloomberg, the former Democratic presidential wannabe, donated $2million to the advocacy group in early March for the specific purpose of getting more blacks registered to vote. Some might call that curious timing.
“We never had the funding and the resources to really engage in these types of techniques before,” Quentin James, founder and president of the Collective, admitted to the Wall Street Journal this month.
This new political technology puts the protests and accompanying riots – coming as they did hot on the heels of Russiagate, impeachment and an economic shutdown due to a pandemic, all in a major election year – into a disturbing new light. Indeed, more cynical and conspiratorially minded observers might be tempted to believe that the nationwide protests were spurred on not for the purpose of protesting ‘police brutality’ or ‘white supremacy’, but rather to serve as a pretense for what was first and foremost a sophisticated vote-harvesting operation.
“Reaching those individuals is especially critical, groups say, since in-person voter registration drives were halted by the coronavirus,” reported the Wall Street Journal in an article that focused on Democrat voter harvesting during the protests. “Plus, with Americans staying home for the past few months to prevent the virus’s spread, organizations have little other recent data about people’s movements.”
The amount of damage BLM has done in the past few weeks is incalcuable. Not to mention the number of people who weren’t racist before and have become racist BECAUSE of them. https://t.co/4Ms1AHs4iI
— Brandon Straka (@BrandonStraka) June 21, 2020
It could also be added that the Democrat’s ability to spark public enthusiasm for their long list of colorless nominees, like Joe Biden, have been less than spectacular. Despite reports that Biden is leading Trump in the polls, the numbers were never reflected by an electrified electorate lining up for blocks to hear him speak. That can only be described as strange. In fact, as the Democratic frontrunner continues to shelter at home, giving the occasional bumbling television interview, Trump just managed to attract thousands of attendees to his first large-scale rally in months – and despite the purported threat of coronavirus lingering in the air.
Again, more cynical minds might be tempted to argue that since Democratic turnouts at both the ballot box and political rallies have been less than stellar, what better way of energizing the base and camouflaging voter indifference than through street protests that railed against the phantom threat of ‘systemic racism,’ which also serves the dual purpose of reaching out to thousands of new voters?
Whatever the case may be, this sort of ‘enrage and engage’ type of political strategy, where strategists are potentially able to scoop up millions of new supporters through their smartphone applications, is practically on par with opening up the southern border to illegal migrants who then vote left in the elections. It’s a grievous act that works against the best interests of the nation.
The most dangerous aspect of such scenarios is that the destructive nature of street protests and riots could be viewed by more ruthless individuals, of which there is no shortage in the world of politics, as a positive development as far as winning elections goes. A bit like a snake chewing on its tail out of hunger, a metaphor that aptly sums up the Democratic Party today.
A reader sends in a link to this nine-minute New Yorker documentary about a woke young couple raising their child to be gender-neutral. I had to stop watching it out of pity for this kid. These loons are going to screw him or her up terribly, and he or she will hate them:
So many on the left today have forgotten human nature. In his sizzling monologue last night, Tucker Carlson featured a can’t-make-this-stuff-up moment. I’ve cued the monologue clip to that moment:
Here’s the tweet it came from:
The person lamenting the absence of the cops is Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting DC delegate to Congress. Gosh, it’s almost like if you defund the police, you will have no one to protect you from the violent and the crazy.
After the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police, Ms. Albers, who is white, and many of her progressive neighbors have vowed to avoid calling law enforcement into their community. Doing so, they believed, would add to the pain that black residents of Minneapolis were feeling and could put them in danger.
Already, that commitment is being challenged. Two weeks ago, dozens of multicolored tents appeared in the neighborhood park. They were brought by homeless people who were displaced during the unrest that gripped the city. The multiracial group of roughly 300 new residents seems to grow larger and more entrenched every day. They do laundry, listen to music and strategize about how to find permanent housing. Some are hampered by mental illness, addiction or both.
Their presence has drawn heavy car traffic into the neighborhood, some from drug dealers. At least two residents have overdosed in the encampment and had to be taken away in ambulances.
“I’m not being judgmental,” said Carrie Nightshade, 44, who explained that she no longer felt comfortable letting her children, 12 and 9, play in the park by themselves. “It’s not personal. It’s just not safe.”
On Friday, she sat in a shared backyard with four other women who live in neighboring houses. The women, four of whom are white, had called a meeting to vent about the camp.
Angelina Roslik burst into tears, explaining that she had spent the past four years fleeing unstable housing conditions and was struggling more than she cared to admit with the chaos the camp had brought into the neighborhood. Linnea Borden said she had stopped walking her dog through the park because she was tired of being catcalled. “My emotions change every 30 seconds,” said Tria Houser, who is part Native American.
The women agreed to let any property damage, including to their own homes, go ignored and to request a block party permit from the city to limit car traffic. Rather than turn to law enforcement if they saw anyone in physical danger, they resolved to call the American Indian Movement — a national organization created in 1968 to address Native American grievances such as police brutality — which had been policing its own community locally for years.
Tobie Miller, Ms. Albers’s 34-year-old daughter, lives just a block away from her mother, but lately, she said, they have felt a world apart. Ms. Miller began a concerted effort last year to challenge her own privileges by taking a class on racial biases.
She worries that a lot of what has been written about the camp on community message boards has been influenced by racial profiling. To the extent that illegal activity is going on in the park, Ms. Miller does not blame the tent residents. “My feeling around it is those are symptoms of systemic oppression,” she said. “And that’s not on them.”
This progressive white dude was robbed at gunpoint by two black teenagers. He called the cops. But now he feels bad about it:
Two days after an initial conversation, his position had evolved. “Been thinking more about it,” he wrote in a text message. “I regret calling the police. It was my instinct but I wish it hadn’t been. I put those boys in danger of death by calling the cops.”
Read it all. Please do — it is a glimpse into the kind of America these progressives wants for us all. They are lunatics. Ideology has made them crazy and self-destructive. They want to hand our cities over to armed robbers and roving lunatics.
The Minneapolis City Council, all Democratic, has voted unanimously to defund the police. If you can sell your house and leave, now is the time. Or if not, it’s time to try to break away from the city and incorporate as an independent municipality, or join with a suburb. Cities run by progressives are going straight into the ditch.
The other night, Tucker Carlson mentioned that Donald Trump laughed about this kind of thing, and said something to the effect of let the progressive cities destroy themselves. Understandable, said Tucker, but inexcusable: no American president should talk this way. He’s right. Along those lines, no American should merely laugh this off. It came upon Minneapolis very fast. Do not take this lightly.
A puerile propaganda stunt pulled by U.S. negotiators in Vienna this week ahead of talks with Russian counterparts was both at insult to China and a reprehensible distraction from credible bilateral business with Moscow on the vital issue of strategic security.
Ahead of talks with Russian delegates, the Americans took a stealthy photo of the venue contriving to show Chinese flags sitting atop vacant tables.
U.S. envoy Marshall Billingslea then tried to twitter-shame China by declaring: “Vienna talks about to start. China is a no-show… We will proceed with Russia, notwithstanding.”
China had categorically stated several times over past weeks that it had no intention of attending the talks in Vienna which were designated anyway as bilateral discussions between Washington and Moscow on the future of arms control.
The Russian delegation was evidently blindsided by the PR stunt. Both China and Russia condemned the attempt by the American side to contrive Beijing as somehow derelict. China slammed it as “performance art”. While Russia published a photograph of the American and Russian delegates in discussions without any Chinese flags present.
The fiasco shows that the talks were really aimed at coaxing China into trilateral talks to satisfy Washington’s geopolitical agenda. In the weeks before the Vienna bilateral talks, U.S. envoy Billingslea had repeatedly called on China to attend in a trilateral format. Such wrangling is inappropriate and undermines diplomatic protocol with Moscow.
Beijing has consistently stated that it will not participate in arms control talks with the U.S. and Russia until both nuclear powers first substantially reduce their vastly greater arsenals. China’s stockpile of nuclear weapons is a mere fraction – some 5 per cent – of either the U.S. or Russia’s. Beijing maintains that Washington must proceed with its obligations for disarmament, along with Russia. Moscow has said it respects China’s position.
The Trump administration has let it be known that it wants to include China in arms control talks with Russia. In principle such comprehensive limitations may seem reasonable. Russia has said that other nuclear powers such as France and Britain should also be included. But what the U.S. side is angling for is not a comprehensive accord in principle; rather it is seeking to rope China into limitations for its own geopolitical agenda of rivalry with Beijing. If Washington is serious about finding a comprehensive treaty, then it should, as China points out, prioritize the scaling back of its own inordinate possession of nukes. The U.S. and Russia account for over 90 per cent of the world’s total nuclear arsenal.
What the propaganda stunt with Chinese flags by the U.S. side in Vienna shows is Washington’s petulance from not being able to cajole China into the talks format with Russia.
As it turned out, the U.S. and Russian sides agreed to hold a second round of talks to follow this week’s meeting.
Russia’s foreign ministry stated: “During the Vienna consultations, the sides agreed to conduct a meeting of experts on military doctrines and nuclear strategies, including the issues of use of nuclear weapons.”
The ministry added: “Russia is open to further dialogue on strategic stability, it seeks to build further relation with the U.S. in arms control, strictly on a parity basis and in reliance on the principle of mutual accounting of interests and concerns of the sides.”
The main issue going forward is the future of the New START treaty governing strategic nuclear weapons. That treaty is due to expire in February next year. Moscow has repeatedly called for an extension, but the Trump administration has demurred about its future, suggesting that it is willing to let it expire. After walking away from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty last year, the Trump administration appears to be conducting a policy of creating global instability and playing with fire by unleashing a new arms race.
Again, lurking behind this reckless brinkmanship is the U.S. objective of coercing Russia and China to acquiesce in its agenda of controlling both by turning bilateral agreements with Moscow into trilateral arrangements with Beijing. Russia has said it will not comply with this stealth conduct by Washington.
What the U.S. needs to do is honor its bilateral relations with Russia and get down to genuine mutual negotiations on strategic stability and arms control. The New START treaty is a test case for Washington’s commitment to its obligations for nuclear disarmament as agreed to from historic bilateral negotiations with Moscow.
The cheap stunt with China’s flags and distortion of the bilateral talks in Vienna with Russia does not inspire confidence in U.S. commitments or intentions. At least under the present administration.
It does not bode well for American credibility in pursuing bilateral talks with Russia on extending the New START treaty which expires in eight months. Indeed, it smacks of bad faith. Playing fast and loose with global security is deplorable.
For decades they covered up the U.S. massacre of civilians at No Gun Ri and elsewhere. This is why we never learn our lessons.
June 25th was the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers fought bravely in that war, and almost 37,000 were killed. But the media is ignoring perhaps the war’s most important lesson: the U.S. government has almost unlimited sway to hide its own war crimes.
During the Korean War, Americans were deluged with official pronouncements about how the U.S. military was taking all possible steps to protect innocent civilians. Because the evils of communism were self-evident, few questions arose about how the U.S. was thwarting Red aggression. When a U.S. Senate subcommittee appointed in 1953 by Sen. Joseph McCarthy investigated Korean War atrocities, the committee explicitly declared that, “war crimes were defined as those acts committed by enemy nations.”
The Pentagon promised an exhaustive investigation. In January 2001, the Pentagon released a 300-page report purportedly proving that the No Gun Ri killings were merely “an unfortunate tragedy” caused by trigger-happy soldiers frightened by approaching refugees.
In 2005, Sahr Conway-Lanz, a Harvard University doctoral student, discovered a letter in the National Archives from the U.S. ambassador to Korea, John Muccio, sent to Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk on the day the No Gun Ri massacre commenced. Muccio summarized a new policy from a meeting between U.S. military and South Korean officials: “If refugees do appear from north of U.S. lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will be shot.” The new policy was radioed to Army units around Korea on the morning the No Gun Ri massacre began. The U.S. military feared that North Korean troops might be hiding amidst the refugees. The Pentagon initially claimed that its investigators never saw Muccio’s letter but it was in the specific research file used for its report.
Conway-Lanz’s 2006 book Collateral Damage quoted an official U.S. Navy history of the first six months of the Korean War stating that the policy of strafing civilians was “wholly defensible.” An official Army history noted: “Eventually, it was decided to shoot anyone who moved at night.” A report for the aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge justified attacking civilians because the Army insisted that “groups of more than eight to ten people were to be considered troops, and were to be attacked.”
In 2007, the Army recited its original denial: “No policy purporting to authorize soldiers to shoot refugees was ever promulgated to soldiers in the field.” But the Associated Press exposed more dirt from the U.S. archives: “More than a dozen documents—in which high-ranking U.S. officers tell troops that refugees are ‘fair game,’ for example, and order them to ‘shoot all refugees coming across river’—were found by the AP in the investigators’ own archived files after the 2001 inquiry. None of those documents was disclosed in the Army’s 300-page public report.”
Slaughtering civilians en masse became routine procedure after the Chinese Army intervened in the Korean war in late 1950. U.S. Commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur spoke of turning North Korean-held territory into a “desert.” The U.S. military eventually “expanded its definition of a military target to any structure that could shelter enemy troops or supplies.” In a scoring method that foreshadowed the Vietnam war body counts, Air Force press releases touted the “square footage” of “enemy-held buildings” that it flattened. General Curtis LeMay summarized the achievements: “We burned down every town in North Korea… and some in South Korea, too.” A million civilians may have been killed during the war, and a South Korean government Truth and Reconciliation Commission uncovered many previously unreported atrocities.
The Pentagon strategy on Korean War atrocities succeeded because it left truth to the historians, not the policymakers. The facts about No Gun Ri finally slipped out—ten presidencies later. Even more damaging, the Rules of Engagement for killing Korean civilians were covered up until after four more U.S. wars. If U.S. policy for slaying Korean refugees had been exposed during that war, it might have curtailed similar killings in Vietnam (many of which were not revealed until decades after the war).
Former congressman and decorated Korean War veteran Pete McCloskey warned, “The government will always lie about embarrassing matters.” The same shenanigans permeate other U.S. wars. The secrecy and deceit surrounding U.S. military interventions has had catastrophic consequences in this century. The Bush administration exploited the 9/11 attacks to justify attacking Iraq in 2003, and it was not until 2016 that the U.S. government revealed documents exposing the Saudi government’s role in financing the hijackers (15 of 19 were Saudi citizens). The Pentagon covered up the vast majority of U.S. killings of Iraqi civilians until Bradley Manning and Wikileaks exposed them in 2010. There is likely reams of evidence of duplicity and intentional slaughter of civilians in U.S. government files on its endlessly confused and contradictory Syrian intervention.
When politicians or generals appear itching to pull the U.S. into another foreign war, remember that truth is routinely the first casualty. The blood of civilian victims of U.S. wars is the political version of disappearing ink. But the kinfolk and neighbors of those victims could pursue vengeance regardless of whether cover-ups con the American people.
On 19 June President Vladimir Putin published an article on the origins of World War II. He wanted to demonstrate, with some documents from the rich Russian archives, that the USSR, contrary to the west’s fake history, was far from being responsible for the outbreak of the Second World War. By fake history I mean that which is widely publicised, inter alia, by the European Parliament at Strasbourg and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The western reaction to Putin’s article has been furious, outraged, and quite simply, ridiculous. Here are a few examples which I have collected at random from Twitter.
“Russia will be remembered as an empire of cynical lies.”
“The Kremlin praises Stalin.”
“Putin veers into radical revisionism.”
“Of course it’s a piece of crude propaganda.”
These are the comments of know-nothings and haters who want to ride on the bandwagon of Russophobia and anti-Putinism prevalent in the West. It takes years, even decades to explore the various national archives on the origins and conduct of World War II. I have been working in those archives for more than thirty years. I do not say this to boast, but merely to emphasise that my life’s work has been devoted to the study of Soviet foreign policy and to the origins and conduct of the Second World War. I am now working on a new book-length manuscript, covering the period from 1930 to 1942, which at present amounts to 21 chapters and more than 1,200 pages of typescript. I still have a way to go before I am finished. Some critics will no doubt dismiss my work, using the timeless strategy of shooting the messenger in order to kill the message. You take your chances when you go up against orthodoxy and received ideas. That’s life.
Although I have written and continue to write a great deal on the subject of President Putin’s article, I will just stick to a few salient points in this column. They are based on material from Soviet, French, British, and US archives. I would add that the Soviet diplomatic papers are rich and not only explain Soviet foreign policy, but report on the politics, economics, and foreign policies of other states. There are extraordinary, detailed reports of conversations between Soviet diplomats and politicians, officials, diplomats, journalists, businessmen, and even Free Masons of the countries in which they were stationed. These foreign interlocutors spoke with remarkable candor about what was going on in their countries. A few prominent examples are Winston S. Churchill, Sir Robert Vansittart, Max Aitken (or Lord Beaverbrook), David Lloyd George, Léon Blum, Édouard Herriot, Georges Mandel, Joseph Paul-Boncour, and the less well-known Romanian foreign minister, Nicolae Titulescu.
I propose to offer a few fragments from my book manuscript. So let’s begin in December 1933, eleven months after Hitler came to power in Germany, the Soviet Politburo established the principles of a new policy of collective security and mutual assistance against Nazi Germany. The Soviet idea was to re-establish the World War I anti-German entente, composed, inter alia, of France, Britain, the United States, and even fascist Italy. Although not stated publicly, it was a policy of containment and preparation for war, should containment fail. The League of Nations became an important element of Soviet strategy to be strengthened and readied for use against Nazi Germany.
An improvement of Soviet relations with France began in 1932; with the United States, in 1933; and with Britain, in 1934. The circumstances were different of course in each country, but Soviet attempts to pursue collective security and mutual assistance against Hitlerite Germany were basically rejected in the United States in 1934, in France, initially also in 1934 (a more complex case), and in Britain, in early 1936.
The Soviet government also attempted to improve relations with Romania where the most important advocate of mutual assistance, was the foreign minister, Titulescu. He had a remarkable relationship with his Soviet counterpart, Maksim M. Litvinov, the able executor of Soviet foreign policy, and with the Soviet ambassador in Bucharest, Mikhail S. Ostrovsky. Titulescu trusted Ostrovsky more than he did his own colleagues. He (Titulescu) was squeezed out of office in August 1936; his cabinet colleagues thought he was “too pro-Soviet”. His departure marked the end of serious attempts at Soviet-Romanian mutual assistance.
In Romania, the most important advocate of mutual assistance was the foreign minister, Titulescu
In Czechoslovakia, Soviet diplomats also made progress. Their task was easier in Prague because Nazi Germany was an obvious threat to Czechoslovak independence. A pact of mutual assistance was concluded in May 1935, but was limited in scope and conditional on French intervention, first, in the event of Nazi aggression.
It may come as a surprise, but the Soviet government also attempted to improve relations with Poland, especially in 1932-1933. The Poles affected to be somewhat interested in Soviet overtures, but only as a ruse to enhance their value in negotiations with Hitlerite Germany for the conclusion in January 1934 of a non-aggression pact. Thereafter, the Poles rejected Soviet overtures for better relations. Poland became a determined opponent and spoiler of Soviet collective security and mutual assistance right up until August 1939. The Polish government served as an accomplice of Hitlerite Germany in 1938 during the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia and was widely criticised for it. Churchill referred to the Poles as “vultures”. Then Colonel Charles de Gaulle considered Poland to be a “nothing… playing a double game” (1936). A French diplomat, Roland de Margerie, compared the Poles during the Munich crisis to “ghouls who in former centuries crawled the battlefields to kill and rob the wounded….” Putin’s account of Polish policy during the 1930s is historically accurate and supported by archival evidence, and is not in the least “radical revisionism”… unless one considers Churchill a “revisionist”. I imagine President Putin a little like Sgt. Joe Friday, the fictional LA police detective, saying, “Just the facts… I just want to get the facts….”
Talks with the Soviet Union were opposed by the French general staff and the defence minister, Édouard Daladier.
In 1937 the Polish high command explained their position to French counterparts. The Poles saw themselves between potential enemies, Nazi Germany in the west and the Soviet Union in the east. According to a report from the French 2e Bureau, contacts with the Polish general staff indicated “a very clear accentuation of the Polish anti-Russian position.”
“From the Polish point of view,” the report noted, “the German danger vis-à-vis Poland is limited to some known territorial claims. The Russian danger on the other hand aims at the total destruction of the Polish state.” Readers should understand that there was at that time no such Soviet aim. On the contrary, Soviet policy, as Commissar Litvinov often said, was to improve relations with Poland and to draw it into an anti-Nazi entente. The Polish elite saw matters differently. Faced with the two dangers, the Polish general staff not only did not contemplate military cooperation with the USSR, but stated to the French that in the event of a Soviet “invasion” for whatever reason [meaning Red Army intervention to aid Czechoslovakia in the event of Nazi aggression], it “could be led to accept German military aid even if such collaboration should lead to Polish territorial losses.” From 1934 onward the crucial issue for effective Soviet military support for France and for Czechoslovakia was Red Army passage across parts of Poland and Romania to engage the enemy (since the USSR did not have a common frontier with Germany). Poland would never agree to it, although Romania, under Titulescu, was more receptive on condition of French and British guarantees. The Poles were essentially blackmailing the French: if you ally with the USSR, we’ll go with Nazi Germany. What will you do then? The French general staff got the message.
The Soviet side desired a consolidation of Franco-Soviet relations to face the Nazi danger and that the French general staff did not. The reasons were complicated based on domestic hostility toward the French communist party and the USSR, defeatism, fear of war and the spread of communism, admiration for fascism, and so on.
One of the more egregious examples of western bad faith toward the USSR was French. In May 1935 France and the USSR signed a mutual assistance pact which the French side had gutted of substance. This is a complicated story. In spite of the obstacles, Soviet diplomats and soldiers pursued a consolidation of the mutual assistance pact through the conduct of military staff conversations, that is, between the French and Soviet general staffs. There were some French politicians and ministers who wanted these discussions to proceed, but the French general staff and the defence minister, Édouard Daladier, opposed them. It was difficult to do so openly (because some cabinet members supported the staff talks), and so the generals and Daladier pursued a policy of stringing along their Soviet counterparts. Delay, delay, delay became the French strategy. Daladier was a defeatist. In 1936 he told colleagues that Germany would flatten Czechoslovakia’s defences in six hours, and therefore it was not worth a fight. Shocking, impossible, you might think, but the Soviet and French archival papers fit together like bricks in a mason’s well-built wall. There can be no question that the Soviet side desired a consolidation of Franco-Soviet relations to face the Nazi danger and that the French general staff did not. The reasons were complicated based on domestic hostility toward the French communist party and the USSR, defeatism, fear of war and the spread of communism, admiration for fascism, and so on.
Titulescu’s exclusion from office in August 1936 marked the failure of Soviet policy although the Soviet side continued to pursue mutual assistance against Nazi Germany until August 1939. One after the other, the United States, France, Italy, Britain declined better relations with the USSR. The smaller powers regarded these developments with dismay. Czechoslovakia and Romania looked to a strong France and would not go beyond French commitments to the USSR. France looked to Britain. The British were the key, if they were ready to march, ready to ally themselves with the USSR, everyone else would fall into line. Without the British – who would not march – everything fell apart.
Putin’s account of the Polish role in the Munich crisis is accurate and cannot be denied, at least based on the historical evidence.
In the autumn of 1936, all Soviet efforts for mutual assistance had failed, and the USSR found itself isolated. No one wanted to ally with Moscow against Nazi Germany; all the above mentioned European powers conducted negotiations with Berlin to lure the wolf away from their doors. Even the Czechoslovaks. The idea, both stated and unstated, was to turn Hitler’s ambitions eastward against the USSR. “A spirit of capitulation,” Litvinov warned Stalin in September 1936, “has arisen not only in France, but also in Czechoslovakia….” This is why the Soviet government continued its pursuit of mutual assistance. It did not on any account wish to find itself isolated in Europe, a real danger if France and Britain could conclude, as they sought to do, a deal with Hitler for security in Western Europe.
Putin’s account of the Polish role in the Munich crisis is accurate and cannot be denied, at least based on the historical evidence. The irony is of course that Poland was Hitlerite Germany’s accomplice in 1938, only to become its victim in 1939.
Putin’s brief account of the last chance alliance negotiations in 1939 between France, Britain and the USSR is also accurate. In some ways Soviet persistence in pursuit of an alliance against the Nazi menace is remarkable in spite of years of Anglo-French disinterest or opposition. Even during the summer of 1939 the British continued secret negotiations with the Germans for a last chance rapprochement when they were also negotiating at the same time with the Soviet Union. The news leaked out in the British papers in late July causing a scandal in London. Imagine the Soviet reaction as agreement was being reached for Anglo-Franco-Soviet alliance negotiations in Moscow.
In early August British and French military missions set out for Moscow on a slow chartered merchantman, the City of Exeter, making a top speed of thirteen knots. One Foreign Office official had proposed sending the missions in a fleet of fast British cruisers to make a point. The Foreign Secretary, Edward Lord Halifax, thought that idea was too provocative. So the French and British delegations set out on a lumbering merchantman and took five days to get to the USSR. They played shuffleboard to kill time. All the while, tick tock, the countdown to war was underway. Everyone knew it was approaching.
Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, Soviet commissar for war
Were the British and French governments serious about these last chance negotiations? The British chief negotiator, Admiral Sir Reginald Drax, had no written powers to conduct negotiations or sign an agreement with the Soviet side. The Foreign Office eventually sent out credentials by air mail. It is unknown whether Drax ever received them. His French counterpart, General Joseph Doumenc, had a vague letter of authority from the then président du Conseil, Daladier. He could negotiate, but not sign an agreement. Doumenc and Drax were relative nobodies. On the other hand, the Soviet delegation was headed by Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, commissar for war, and other senior Soviet officers. He had full plenipotentiary powers in so far as that was possible with Stalin. “All indications so far go to show,” advised the British ambassador in Moscow, “that Soviet military negotiators are really out for business.” In contrast, formal British instructions were to “go very slowly”, as President Putin correctly points out. When Drax met Foreign Secretary Halifax before leaving for Moscow, he asked about the “possibility of failure” in the negotiations. “There was a short but impressive silence,” according to Drax, “and the Foreign Secretary then remarked that on the whole it would be preferable to draw out the negotiations as long as possible.” Doumenc commented that he had been sent to Moscow with “empty hands”, les mains vides. They had nothing to offer their Soviet interlocutors. They could not deliver Polish cooperation, for Poland’s opposition to an agreement continued until the very end. Nor could they offer dynamic war plans to defeat Hitler: Britain could send two divisions to France at the outset of a European war. You can’t do much with two divisions. In contrast, the Red Army could immediately mobilize one hundred divisions, and Soviet forces were just then thrashing the Japanese in heavy fighting on the Manchurian frontier. “They are not serious,” Stalin concluded. The French and British governments appeared to think they could play Stalin for a dope. Oh, how wrong they were.
It is easy to criticise the Soviet side for agreeing to the non-aggression pact. It was the least attractive policy option, but what would you have done in Stalin’s boots? The Soviet side had pursued a policy of collective security and mutual assistance against Nazi Germany officially since December 1933. Démarche after démarche, attempt after attempt to achieve an anti-Nazi entente with the west had failed. The British and the French did not want it, preferring time after time to find some way forward with Herr Hitler. The deal at Munich, the betrayal of Czechoslovakia, made them unfit to criticise the non-aggression pact. As British historian, the late A.J.P. Taylor, put it sixty years ago, violent western reproaches against the USSR “came ill from the statesmen who went to Munich…. The Russians, in fact, did only what the Western statesmen had hoped to do; and Western bitterness was the bitterness of disappointment, mixed with anger that professions of Communism were no more sincere than their own professions of democracy [in dealing with Hitler].” In August 1939, the French ambassador in Moscow called it tit for tat.
The French and British governments appeared to think they could play Stalin for a dope. Oh, how wrong they were.
Even in August 1939, with war imminent, the French and British were not serious. You can only play someone for a fool for so long. Moreover, great powers will not opt for war with weak, dissembling allies. Given the circumstances, given the danger, Soviet long-suffering patience with their Anglo-French interlocutors finally ran out.
A Soviet-western alliance in the 1930s was not a pig in a poke, by the way, there were people in France and Britain who favoured an alliance with the USSR against the Axis and fought hard to obtain it. One Soviet diplomat called them “white crows” or rare birds. They reckoned that without the USSR and without the Red Army, they could not hope to defeat the Nazi Wehrmacht. They were right, as the actual unfolding of World War II would demonstrate. There were more than a few in France and Britain who favoured an alliance with the USSR, but they could not swing their governments. They were not numerous enough or influential enough for that.
Until the very end the Poles were incorrigible, played the fool’s game, blinded by their hatred of Russia, Soviet or otherwise. When it came to a choice between Germany and Russia, the Polish elite did not hesitate. The Russian was an “Asiatic”, a “barbarian”; the German at least was a civilised European. When Drax and Doumenc met Voroshilov for the last time in Moscow to plead for a continuation of negotiations, Voroshilov had this to say, according to the secret Soviet record of conversation: “At the time when we were discussing the organisation of a united front against aggression in Europe, the Polish press and individual political officials were declaring with particular vigour and without stop that they do not need any help at all from the side of the USSR. Romania remained quiet, but Poland conducted itself very strangely: it cried out to the entire world that Soviet troops would not pass across its territory [to face the common Nazi enemy], that it did not consider necessary any business with the Soviet Union, and so on. In these circumstances to calculate on the success of our negotiations, of course, was impossible.” Admiral Drax replied that he hoped in the future the circumstances would become more favourable. “We also hope so,” Voroshilov replied. In the end the circumstances did improve in 1941 when the grand alliance was organised under the fire of Nazi guns.
There is a last irony which I would like to underline. During the interwar years Stalin pursued a foreign policy intended to avoid Soviet isolation so that the West would/could not gang up on the USSR. In August 1939 he was faced with unattractive options: war with doubtful allies, and thus war alone against the Wehrmacht, or a deal, however ugly, or temporary it might be, with Hitlerite Germany to stay out of the war. Stalin’s choice proved ill-fated. In June 1941 he was to find himself isolated, facing a massive Nazi invasion. France was gone, beaten and humiliated in 1940. Britain was saved only by the English Channel and the Royal Air Force. It could offer little support to the Red Army and no troops to fight on the Soviet front. The Red Army had to fight against the Wehrmacht nearly alone for three years, exactly the situation which Stalin had always wanted to avoid. He got it anyway. Sometimes people forget that the past was once in the future. Life and death decisions are not as easy to make in the present as they are in hindsight.
The facts are the facts: nowhere in Europe did any government want to ally wholeheartedly with the USSR against the common foe. The small powers counted on Britain and France to stand firm, but they never did. The USSR was the ugly Cassandra, the truth-teller about the Nazi danger: almost everyone despised her and few would embrace her. Like it or not, the direct result was the non-aggression pact.
The facts will not stop western mainstream media, and the “experts” on Twitter from making various sorts of accusations against President Putin and the Russian Federation. It will not stop the Poles from denying their own sombre history during the 1930s. This is part of a dangerous US/NATO campaign of denigration and isolation against the Russian Federation and its president. The propaganda war over World War II will thus continue, archival evidence or not. As politicians go President Putin is not a bad historian. I share, more or less, his views on World War II, and hopefully will have a book manuscript to publish before too long, which demonstrates beyond a doubt where the responsibilities lay for the outbreak war in 1939.
So I tip my hat to President Putin for daring to challenge the west’s fake history and for braving the loud, potted indignation of western critics. His idea for better relations with the United States, Britain, and France is splendid although he must surely know that nothing is likely to come of it. When you have the great responsibility of trying to keep the peace, however, one does what one can even if it is only for the record.
In what Shadowproof’s Kevin Gosztola calls “a not-so-subtle effort to criminalize the journalism of an adversarial media organization that the United States has spent the last decade working to destroy,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been hit with another superseding indictment by the US Department of Justice.
Shadowproof, WSWS, and Consortium News all have solid and informative write-ups on this new development. The indictment adds no new charges, is riddled with inaccuracies, glaring plot holes, and amateurish errors, relies heavily on testimony from a literal convicted pedophile and diagnosed sociopath, and appears to be little more than a feeble attempt to legitimize the injection of the words “hacking” and “hackers” into the prosecutorial narrative.
To quote Assange’s partner Stella Morris, “They didn’t throw the book at Julian. They threw bits of paper found crumpled up in the discard pile.”
DOJ’s New WikiLeaks Indictment Has Significant, Convenient Plot Holes | Gizmodohttps://t.co/pJqk5ivMAL
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 26, 2020
The persecution of Julian Assange is a transparent and iron-fisted attempt by the US government to globally criminalize the publication of leaks which embarrass the US-centralized empire, thereby drawing a firm line which journalists all around the world know never to cross.
This is the inverted totalitarian oligarchic empire at its most overtly tyrannical. The imprisonment of Assange was the part of the movie where the villain finally reveals their true face for the monster they’ve always been, where it became clear to anyone paying attention that the US power alliance is as authoritarian and intolerant of real dissent as any tin pot dictator.
But this is the rarest form of imperial censorship. Normally, wherever possible, the power structures which dominate human civilization prefer to do so out of sight and out of mind, ideally having the inmates of the prison serve as their own wardens.
It’s incredible to see book after book churn out the same discredited Russiagate hype. When I talked to an editor at a major publisher about doing a book — you know, based on actual facts — they told me their friends would be mad at them if they published it, so that was it. https://t.co/OMTvfve9bl
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) June 25, 2020
Aaron Maté, who as my regular readers already know is one of my favorite journalists on the planet right now, has an interesting new post on Twitter which reads (emphasis my own): “It’s incredible to see book after book churn out the same discredited Russiagate hype. When I talked to an editor at a major publisher about doing a book — you know, based on actual facts — they told me their friends would be mad at them if they published it, so that was it.”
This is a perfect example of the soft tyranny which does most of the key oppression of speech in the empire today. There are no laws prohibiting the publication of Maté’s award-winning journalism on the subject of the mass psychological operation known as Russiagate. Nobody who published such a book would be tortured and facing a 170-year prison sentence like Julian Assange.
Yet the speech remains restricted. Major publishers won’t touch Maté’s work. You won’t see him as a guest panelist on MSNBC or CNN. Not because those platforms are forbidden from doing so, but because they don’t choose to. As former MSNBC host Krystal Ball explained last year, an attitude of conformity has been manufactured from the top down to ensure than those who rise to the top of the most influential platforms are the ones who know how to toe the establishment line without being told. People are hired from the same conformity-enforcing universities by executives who were selected by media-owning plutocrats based on their willingness to protect the status quo their plutocratic kingdoms are built upon, and only those who play ball within that system ever rise to major positions of influence.
Many journalists – either for self-serving reasons or due to genuine befuddlement – are completely misinterpreting Bernie’s media critique. The person who explained it most clearly was Noam Chomsky in this 90-second answer to an equally confused BBC host. This will clear it up: pic.twitter.com/AgznEp3LB1
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 13, 2019
I am reminded of a famous contentious interview between Noam Chomsky and British journalist Andrew Marr in which Chomsky derided the false image mainstream journalists have of themselves as “a crusading profession, adversarial, we stand up against power,” saying it’s almost impossible for a good journalist to do so in any meaningful way in the mass media.
“How can you know that I’m self-censoring? How can you know that journalists are-” Marr objected.
“I’m not saying you’re self-censoring,” Chomsky replied. “I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying. But what I’m saying is that if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.”
I am also reminded of a quote from the movie My Dinner with Andre:
“I think that New York is the new model for the new concentration camp, where the camp has been built by the inmates themselves, and the inmates are the guards, and they have this pride in this thing that they’ve built — they’ve built their own prison — and so they exist in a state of schizophrenia where they are both guards and prisoners. And as a result they no longer have — having been lobotomized — the capacity to leave the prison they’ve made or even to see it as a prison.”
Did you know that depending on what country you live in, so-called “free-range” eggs are often anything but?
In the USA, for example, all that is required for chickens to be considered “free range” is for them to have “access to the outdoors”. In practice what this means is that thousands of birds are crammed into tiny, unhygienic, multi-platform barns designed to fit as many animals as possible, and then a tiny door is opened on the far end of the barn leading to some small porch area which most of the chickens never even find their way to.
The USDA imposes no requirements that the chickens ever go outdoors, or even on what “outdoors” technically needs to look like, so in practice what you get is a bunch of “free range” hens never venturing anywhere near the door, and having no reason to try to do so.
This is exactly what the much-touted “free speech” of the western world looks like in practice when it comes to platforms with major influence. The door is technically open for The New York Times or CNN to elevate voices which dissent from the official imperial narrative about what’s going on in the world, but they choose not to, because a system has been designed which disincentivizes them from doing so.
Mass media outlets are the factory farms of speech. Nothing is free, humane, or organic about either such construct. A healthy world, which we will hopefully we one day see, will have neither.
President Trump laid out his rationale while hosting his Polish counterpart at the White House. President Andrzej Duda who is allied with the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) was on his third visit to the White House this week since Donald Trump took office. He is the first foreign leader to be received in Pennsylvania Avenue since the pandemic lockdown.
For such an honor, Trump readily explained that the purpose of his Polish embrace was to spite both Germany and Russia. He confirmed the planned removal of U.S. troops from German soil, which he announced last week, and said some of those units would be going to Poland.
“We’re going to be reducing our forces in Germany. Some will be coming home and some will be going to other places, but Poland would be one of those other places,” said Trump at a press briefing at the White House with Duda.
He said that would send “a very strong signal to Russia”.
The Kremlin responded that such a move would violate the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act. Moscow has previously protested deployment of U.S. troops in Poland on a rotational basis. Now the American forces seem to be setting up permanent bases.
Trump repeated his accusation that Germany was “delinquent” in its military spending on the NATO alliance.
“Poland is one of the few countries that are fulfilling their obligations under NATO, in particular their monetary obligations,” said Trump. “And they asked us if we would send some additional troops. They’re going to pay for that. They’ll be paying for the sending of additional troops, and we’’ll probably be moving them from Germany to Poland. We’re going to be reducing Germany very substantially.”
The American president was referring to an arbitrary spending target of 2 per cent of national economy for NATO members. Germany allocates about 1.3 per cent, although it has dramatically increased its military spending over the past two years. However, that is still not enough for Trump who has repeatedly chided Berlin for seeking protection from the U.S. while allegedly not paying its dues.
Poland is one of eight NATO members in the 30-nation military alliance that does meet the 2 per cent spending target, although in absolute monetary terms its annual military budget is only about a quarter of Germany’s ($50 billion).
Trump is also known to have a sour relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Her refusal in May to attend a proposed G7 summit in Washington was seen as a snub to Trump. Tellingly, his surprise move to pull U.S. troops out of Germany then followed that spat.
The initial White House report to withdraw some 9,5000 American soldiers stationed in Germany out of a total of 35,000 blindsided politicians in Berlin. The Pentagon also seemed to not have been consulted by Trump. The hasty move smacked of vindictiveness by Trump, intent on insulting the Germans. Certainly, the horrified reaction from the Berlin establishment showed that Trump had hit where it hurts.
Hosting the Polish president at the White House this week and moving ahead with the proposed U.S. troop relocation is further rubbing Germany’s nose by Trump. The two leaders signed a “defense cooperation agreement”.
“Today we are entering another stage, namely there is a possibility of further increase in American troops in our country,” Duda said.
It’s not clear exactly how many U.S. forces are heading to Poland. Reports indicate it could be about 2,000 troops as well as up to 30 F-16 fighter jets. That’s still a lot less than the number Trump is planning to pull out of Germany. Nevertheless, it is hugely symbolic.
Germany was traditionally the European base for U.S. forces since the end of World War Two. Poland, a former Warsaw Pact member, then joined the U.S.-led alliance in 1999 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Twenty years later, it is set to host U.S. troops in permanent bases. Trump’s cozying up to Warsaw is therefore grooming Poland as the new European base for American forces. (Whether the Pentagon buys into that in the long-term is another question.)
The Law and Justice (PiS) government in Poland together with President Duda have long appealed to Washington to station U.S. troops in their country. That appeal fits their intensely Russophobic narrative accusing Russia of “aggression”. Duda and PiS have set about rewriting the history of World War Two in which Nazi Germany is equated with the Soviet Union. The defeat of the Nazi Reich by the Red Army and liberation of Poland and other nations is furiously denied by the Warsaw government.
Trump has very much played into that discreditable narrative. In a speech delivered in Warsaw in July, 2017, Trump conflated Nazi occupation with claims of the Soviet Union’s “brutal campaign to demolish freedom”.
By sending U.S. troops and warplanes to bases in Poland which borders Russia’s territory of Kaliningrad, Trump is indulging Warsaw’s persecution complex about alleged Russian aggression. Last month, Poland officially declared Russia as its “biggest security threat”.
The added rationale for Trump’s troop maneuver appears to be his umbrage over Germany buying much of its energy supply from Russia instead of from the U.S. He pointedly linked the relocation of American troops from Germany to Poland with the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.
Trump said: “It sends a very strong signal to Russia, but I think a stronger signal sent to Russia is the fact that Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars to purchase energy from Russia through the pipeline.”
However, he added: “With all that being said, we expect to get along with Russia. We expect to get along with everybody.”
The Kremlin warned earlier this month against additional U.S. forces going to Poland. “Whatever military potentially ends up threatening us from Polish territory, the relevant Russian government structures will take comprehensive measures in response,” said deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov.
Trump is foolishly toying with strategic interests for short-term tactical gains and petty vanity. He is pandering to Polish reactionary politics to offend both Germany and Russia. But this president doesn’t have a clue about the monster of reactionary forces in Poland that he is fomenting. His instinctive money-grubbing rush for profit and petty score-settling is massively destabilizing European security. Yet, as he idiotically says, “we expect to get along with everybody”.
Now, that is really taking the…
Rex Tillerson was the only secretary of state to be fired; James ‘mad dog’ Mattis wrote a strongly worded resignation letter rebuking Trump foreign policy behaviour, and became the first ever Secretary of Defence to resign in protest; Michael Flynn resigned after being embroiled in the Mueller Report, misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his links with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak – and is rumoured to have told Trump “Iran, sir” when the new U.S. president called out “Mike, who are the bad guys in the Middle East?”.
And then there is John Bolton, a frustrated old man who believed he could redeem himself from draft dodging by starting a war with Iran. His golden moment with Trump which really made him look the fool he looks was probably his comment to the North Korean dictator about following the Libya model and what the U.S. did to Gaddafi when he fell out of line.
Bolton is probably the most unremarkable National Security Advisor America has ever had. Trump, to his credit, didn’t take his advice on key matters like Afghanistan, North Korea and, importantly, Iran where the U.S. president was minutes away from pressing the button and starting an all-out war in the Gulf.
What Bolton’s book tells us about the man is that he is a craven, self-serving individual who is only really interested in promoting himself. When the world needed Bolton the most, at the Mueller inquiry, he shied away from the cameras and the publicity and this is what Americans will remember him for.
The chronicles of his book are amusing, but of course are based on a revengeful, spiteful agenda of bringing Trump down, as, unlike others, Bolton chose to specifically publish months before the election, rather than in the weeks after it.
Trump not knowing that the UK was a nuclear power or where Finland was is quite funny, but not really shocking. Bolton of course paints a picture of Trump being a rambunctious cretin who could barely master the remote control on his own gorilla TV console, let alone understand the complexities of a trade agreement with even his most loyal sycophants like Mike Pompeo even writing in a memo that the president was “full of shit”.
All very amusing and which today is accumulating to become an aggregate source of satire probably for the next 30 years as America comes to terms with the fact that the U.S. president has the mental age of a demented primate and is tormented by torrents of insecurity and low self-esteem and can only visually grasp information if it is shaped so as to accentuate his enfeebled personality.
It really is all about Trump. And this is the darker side of the Bolton book which is worrying. Bolton doesn’t really reveal anything shocking, but merely confirms what we’re all really very worried about: Trump really is as self-obsessed like all mad dictators around the world.
And on that subject, the huge let down of the book is how Bolton confirms that the Democrats just stopped short of impeachment being successful if they would have gone the full nine yards and dug deeper. In reality the scandal of the Ukraine affair whereby Trump holds back aid in exchange for political favours was duplicated with other leaders around the world, like Erdogan in Turkey and in particular China. One of the reasons why Trump went to extraordinary lengths initially to speak up for the Chinese is a misunderstanding over whether Xi would help him secure a second term; when it became clear that the Chinese leader had no intention of doing that, and that, in fact, due to corona could barely keep his end of the bargain on the so-called ‘art of the deal’ Trump-China trade deal, then Donald threw a massive tantrum and hit China with sanctions over the very issue which he previously supported, Muslim concentration camps.
Bolton reveals that almost every single decision, no matter how small, were viewed through a tawdry prism of re-election at any cost – with a claim by him that Trump had ideas of running for three terms and was looking at how to re-write the constitution.
But the real stand-off between these two men came on Iran. Bolton obviously wanted a war with Iran after Tehran shot down a 130m dollar U.S. drone. Trump just saw body bags and a thwarted re-election and so the seeds of discourse were sown, which perhaps led to other decision of a similar vain. No one to this day in America can explain Trump pulling out of Afghanistan and making the Taliban – and enemy of 19 years – now a partner in “fighting terrorism”. Perhaps Trump is not merely stupid, which the book asserts quite vociferously, with numerous anecdotes of him failing to grasp simple facts that a high school kid could master, but actually losing his mind. Has dementia set in? The constant confusion in Afghanistan as Trump repeatedly confused the former President with the new one troubled Bolton.
Yet, a big part of painting a picture of Trump being a useful idiot is to promote Bolton as smart and noble, which the reader struggles to swallow in the end. Bolton was in the room where all this happened and didn’t have the balls to stand up to Trump on most of the stupid things Donald did as President. And that has to be a stain on Bolton’s character and something which tarnishes this kiss-and-tell tome. Most people who Trump hires are under-achievers, weak, sycophants who all have one thing in common: corrupt, like Trump himself. The king roach attracts a certain type of weak and delusional understudy whose chief performing skills are to lick boots and occasionally steal the limelight. Some master the art of staying in the job like Pompeo who my sources tell me has ambitions himself in the Oval Office. Read the book, but hold only contempt for Bolton, a fidgeting weasel of no great talent who really managed to achieve nothing while in office and who really should rename the book The room where I watched and did nothing.
The liberal rehabilitation of George W. Bush is now virtually complete, with his successor Barack Obama declaring this week that the 43rd president was committed to the rule of law, despite all evidence to the contrary. In an online fundraiser for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden Tuesday night, Obama stated that Bush “had a basic regard for the rule of law and the importance of our institutions of democracy.”
Obama, who ran for president in 2008 with promises to restore habeas corpus and uphold the rule of law, went on to claim that when Bush was president, “we cared about human rights” and were committed to “core principles around the rule of law and the universal dignity of people.”
Obama’s comments surely came as a shock to anyone who still has a functioning memory of the Bush years and hasn’t succumbed entirely to the effects of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Rather than being a champion of democratic principles, when Bush left office, he left behind a shameful legacy of upended human rights norms including due process and the legal prohibition against torture.
If 2008 Obama could speak today with 2020 Obama, he might remind himself that Bush had started a “dumb war” in Iraq in violation of the UN Charter, launched a warrantless surveillance program of Americans and that he had established a penal colony in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
As Obama himself said in said in 2013, during the Bush years, “we compromised our basic values – by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law.”
Bush’s ‘Rule of Law’
He dismissed provisions of the Geneva Conventions as “quaint” and offered legal rationales that justify torture in cases of “military necessity.”At the heart of Bush’s approach to the “rule of law” was the rejection of any independent court evaluation of its detentions. Without judicial review, the U.S. government didn’t need to present any evidence to show that a person actually had ties to Al Qaeda or was otherwise guilty of a crime. The Bush position also held that once designated as Al Qaeda members, individuals have no legal protections against torture.
U.S. sergeant interrogates a detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq who is chained to his cell wall in a distressing position. (U.S. Government)
Bush’s approach to the “war on terror” was in fact a steady descent into the “dark side,” as Vice President Dick Cheney had called it. A subsequent Senate investigation found that the torture program instituted by the Bush administration following 9/11 employed gruesome techniques such as near drowning, forcing detainees to stand on broken legs, threatening to kill or rape detainees’ family members, forced “rectal feeding” and “rectal hydration.” It also offered disturbing details on a medieval “black site” prison in Afghanistan known as the Salt Pit, where at least one detainee froze to death.
The brutal interrogation sessions lasted in many cases non-stop for days or weeks at a time, leading to effects such as “hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation,” and produced little to no useful information. CIA agents had illegally detained 26 of the 119 individuals in CIA custody, and the interrogation techniques used on detainees went beyond the methods that had been approved by the Bush Justice Department or CIA’s headquarters (guidelines that were likely overly permissive in the first place).
Calls for Accountability
When the Senate torture report was released in late 2014, it was met with calls for accountability from around the world. The United Nations, the European Union, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as numerous governments, all demanded that those responsible for the illegal torture program face justice. The U.S. was reminded that as a matter of international law, it was legally obligated to prosecute the perpetrators of the torture program.
Some of the strongest words came from the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism Ben Emmerson, who stated unequivocally that senior officials from the Bush administration who sanctioned crimes, as well as the CIA and U.S. government officials who carried them out, must be brought to justice. “It is now time to take action,” the UN rapporteur said.
Needless to say, no one was ever prosecuted by the Obama administration’s Justice Department. And now, Obama not only excuses these abuses, but he actually claims that Bush was committed to “the rule of law and the universal dignity of people.” A charitable explanation for Obama’s comments is that he was trying to draw a distinction between the Trump administration and every other president, and to draw this distinction, he made a clumsy attempt to draw an exaggerated contrast.
Obama’s Damaging Comments
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk with former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush after the unveiling of the Bushes’ official portraits at the White House, May 31, 2012. (White House, Chuck Kennedy)
But considering that 6-in-10 Americans now have a favorable view of Bush, almost twice as much as the 33 percent who gave him a favorable mark when he left office in 2009, it should be appreciated how impressionable Americans are and how damaging comments such as Obama’s can be. Much of Bush’s ascent to popularity has come from Democrats, 54 percent of whom now approve of the Bush presidency. Democrats’ change of heart appears to be primarily motivated by Bush’s opposition to Trump, which apparently has absolved him of his many failings while president.
This historic shift in attitudes was abetted by many liberals who have helped refurbish Bush’s image, including daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
To hear Barack Obama now making the claim that Bush was committed to the rule of law and human rights is just the latest betrayal of a Democratic Party that has systematically prevented a reckoning for the crimes of the 43rd president, a party that is clearly uninterested in truth or accountability, and is more than willing to rewrite history to advance its political goals.
Only time will tell how America is affected in the long term by this rewriting of history.
Future historians will scratch their heads when researching the annals and archives of the Donald Trump administration. Trump’s denial of basic facts about history, science, and even the weather will undoubtedly result in his administration and the subsequent fall-out from it being called the “Age of Unreason.” Trump and his administration often seize on erroneous information and turn them into, in what is in their minds, irrefutable facts. One example has been Trump’s insistence that the 1918 influenza occurred in 1917. Trump and his advisers discount the fact that the “1918 flu” is thus named because it was first detected in 1918, not in 1917.
Trump eschews facts as often as he is able. The 1918 flu, incorrectly called the “Spanish flu” was first detected in the United States on March 4, 1918. “Patient zero” was identified as Albert Gitchell, a U.S. Army cook at Camp Funston in Kansas.
Facts matter, except for a select group of fascist and proto-fascist leaders who include Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Colombian President Ivan Duque, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and a few other delusional presidents and prime ministers scattered around the globe.
Trump’s logic on the Covid-19 virus is as bizarre as his botching the time line of the 1918 flu. Trump repeatedly claimed the United States had more cases of Covid-19 because it was conducting more tests. Trump also admitted that he ordered less tests because that action would result in fewer cases. Of course, such a statement is that of a madman and is similar to someone claiming that if he or she was not tested for cancer, they would not contract cancer.
It is historical revisionism by Trump and his acolytes that presents the most danger for the United States and the world. George Orwell’s novel about a dystopian fascistic future, “1984,” introduced the quote, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” That fascist precept, a canon of fictional Oceania’s “Ministry of Truth,” is dominant in Trump’s administration and Republican Party, the latter having become a personal political vehicle for would-be dictator Trump.
Alteration of American history lies at the heart of Trump’s attempt to re-brand the Old Confederacy. Trump has held up politicians and generals of the Confederate States of America, over which the United States was ultimately victorious in the U.S. Civil War, as part of the “heritage” of America. “Heritage” is a word that has become synonymous with adulation of the Confederacy, Jim Crow-era racism, plantation system slavery, and esteem for Confederate leaders. In order to re-write history, Trump and his Republicans have acted to develop fictional stories about the past.
In Mississippi, the Republicans opposed to removing the Confederate battle flag from the state flag have incorrectly stated that the flag was designed by “an African-American Confederate soldier.” State senator Kathy Chism, a Republican supporter of Trump, wrote on Facebook about the black Confederate soldier, who she failed to identify, “I can only imagine how proud he was that his art, his flag design was chosen to represent our State and now we want to strip him of his pride, his hard work. I’m sure he put a lot of thought into this design.” Chism made up the entire claim.
First, there were no black soldiers who fought for the Confederacy. Second, the current Mississippi flag was designed in 1894 by one of her predecessors in the state Senate, Edward Scudder, a white man who wanted to honor the Confederacy. Scudder’s wife actually sewed the flag as both she and her husband were ardent supporters of the segregationist South. What better way to both honor the Confederacy and send a strong message to Mississippi’s large black population than to place the flag of a defeated secessionist and racist confederation of states on the flag of Mississippi!
Another disturbing alteration of history can be linked directly to the neo-fascist global movement of former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon. The neo-fascist catechism holds forth that Adolf Hitler and his Nazis were not far-right-wingers but represented “left-wing socialism.” This false historical narrative, pushed by officials in both the Trump and Bolsonaro administrations, reasons that because “National Socialism,” the political tenet of the Nazis, contain the word “socialism,” that makes Hitler and his Nazis “socialists.” Those who believe such codswallop refuse to recognize that Germany’s true Socialists and Communists were either executed by Hitler’s paramilitary forces or sent to the death camps, where few survived. To Hitler, socialism represented Bolshevik Marxism, Socialism, and Communism. There was absolutely nothing “leftist” about Hitler and his Nazis.
Trump and his supporters’ entire campaign to paint the news as “fake” and history, as we know it, as false is an Orwellian attempt to own the past, dictate the present, and control the future. Trump has given more than one “wink and nod” to an extreme fringe of right-wingers, who call themselves “Qanon,” who believe that even more far-out fantasies are true. One is that John F. Kennedy, Jr., the son of the 35th president who died along with his wife and sister-in-law in a 1999 plane crash, faked his own death in order to re-emerge one day to join Trump in battling an international pedophile ring. Several Qanon followers have emerged to join Trump on the Republican ballot in several states for the November 3 election. Qanon has a major outlet for their bizarre views on a cable “news” network, One America News Network, which is based in San Diego, California.
The FBI has deemed the Qanon poses a potential terrorist threat. A number of Qanon members have been arrested for, among other crimes, murder and attempted terrorism. Qanon is similar to a Nazi death cult. Its members not only believe that Covid-19 is a ruse concocted by some secretive global cabal – a belief that has been given succor by Trump – but, more dangerously, they freely throw around names of public figures who they believe should be “eliminated.”
Qanon and other right-wing extremist groups have made death threats against several public health officials around the country – all claimed to be part of some “deep state” – who have been at the forefront of crafting special health measures, including the wearing of masks and social distancing, to avoid the spread of Covid-19. Among those who have been targeted are Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease expert; Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health; and Dr. Amy Acton, the former public health director of Ohio. Acton was forced to resign as director after protesters, some spurred on by Qanon nonsense, showed up at her home.
Alternative history pervades the Trump administration. Trump’s Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, called the importation of slaves to the Americas from Africa “involuntary immigration.” He added that despite being sold into slavery, African slaves were merely “immigrants [who] made the choice to come to America.” Carson has not been alone in creating personal fantasies about history.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos cited historically black colleges and universities as being “real pioneers” of school choice, ignoring the fact that these schools of higher education were established out of necessity because segregation barred many African-Americans from attending white colleges and universities.
The attempt by Trump, Bolsonaro, and others to control the past, ensuring their control of the present and future, will depend on educators and the press being more vigilant than at any time in the past in spotting fake history, news, and science.
Ted Galen CARPENTER
Akey lesson from the coronavirus pandemic is that the United States needs to terminate unnecessary expenses and wasteful, unworkable policies. The cost alone entailed in dealing with the crisis—some $4 trillion and counting—makes such reforms imperative. The need to focus on core security challenges, especially Beijing’s increasingly worrisome behavior, reinforces that urgency on the international front.
One crucial change is to insist that the European allies not only take responsibility for their own defense instead of relying on the United States—a step that is long overdue—but also assume the lead role in dealing with Middle East issues. Geographic considerations alone should be sufficient incentive for a major policy shift. The Middle East is adjacent to Europe but thousands of miles from the American homeland. Washington should not be in charge of efforts to preserve stability, protect the oil flow, prevent human rights abuses, and confront the multitude of other problems that bedevil that region. Middle East developments have a direct impact to varying degrees on the wellbeing of European countries. The wave of refugees fleeing war-torn Middle East nations and flowing into Europe is an example of such relevance to the Continent.
The impact of adverse Middle East developments on the United States is far milder because of the greater distance and other factors. America’s minimal dependence on oil from that area (especially in a world now awash with oil supplies) gives this country more options than those available to European powers. Moreover, Washington’s track record in trying to manage Middle Eastern affairs to maintain stability is unimpressive. Even before the U.S.-created fiascos in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, America’s meddling had created more problems than it solved. The European powers, probably working through the European Union (EU), might not do a better job of addressing the region’s many challenges, but they could scarcely do worse.
Policy regarding Iran should be the first stage in transferring responsibility to the EU. Washington’s ultra-hostile stance toward Tehran has caused considerable suffering to the Iranian people, but Iran’s clerical government still shows few signs of capitulating. It’s increasingly evident that the EU and key individual European powers (especially Germany and France) are not in accord with the U.S. strategy. Dissension has become undeniable, especially over the past two years.
Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) constraining Tehran’s nuclear program generated noticeable push-back from the other signatories to the agreement. Not only Russia and China opposed the Trump administration’s move; Britain, France, and Germany did so as well. Even those long-standing U.S. allies refused to follow the United States in reimposing economic sanctions on Tehran. Indeed, they and other EU members endeavored to shield Iran from punitive U.S. measures.
Allied annoyance mounted in early 2019, when the Trump administration continued to press the European signatories to rescind their adherence to the JCPOA. Germany and the other countries bluntly refused. Washington exacerbated already serious transatlantic frictions in April 2019 when it eliminated some of the boycott waivers it had previously granted to firms in EU countries. Allied governments sharply criticized that step and other moves to tighten sanctions on Iran.
European leaders also resisted U.S. efforts to push for military measures against Iran after a series of mysterious attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman during May and June 2019. The Trump administration charged that Tehran was responsible for those attacks and that they posed a serious threat to international shipping. Administration officials, with National Security Adviser John Bolton taking the lead, sought to build a case for joint U.S.-NATO military retaliation against Iranian targets.
European leaders, though, adopted a more nuanced, cautious stance. They noted that the captain of one of the tankers disputed Washington’s thesis that damage to his ship was the result of an Iranian attack, and that evidence in the other cases was murky and inconclusive. Instead of responding favorably to U.S. pressure for a military response, the major European powers opted for a joint deployment of their naval assets to boost patrols in the Gulf. An unsettling aspect of that decision from Washington’s standpoint was that they did so not under NATO’s auspices or as subordinate players in a U.S.-led effort, but as an independent, ad hoc, European initiative. Once again, European governments were taking steps to put some distance between their policies toward Iran and those Trump administration leaders wanted to pursue.
Even the September 2019 drone attacks that severely damaged two major Saudi oil facilities did not stampede the European countries into embracing the use of military force against Iran. U.S. officials insisted that Iran was the source of the attack, although the evidence was only circumstantial. Once again, though, Washington’s allies opted for continued diplomacy with Tehran rather than risk plunging the Middle East into a wider war. There was growing clarity that the EU governments had their own policy agenda regarding Iran, and that agenda differed noticeably from the one Washington favored.
The resistance to America’s Iran policy continues to escalate. In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, which hit Iran especially hard, the Trump administration not only refused to ease the existing punitive economic measures, but imposed fresh sanctions in an effort to compel the Iranian regime to release some detained Americans. European leaders rejected that cruel policy and spurned Washington’s warnings to maintain a hard line toward Tehran. Instead, the EU provided a 20 million euro financial and medical aid package to assist Iran and continues to pressure Washington to change its overall sanctions policy.
The EU powers also have pursued a more balanced policy toward the longstanding regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Until recently, when a chill developed in Washington’s relations with Riyadh, the United States invariably supported the Saudi position on an array of issues relevant to that rivalry. In addition, Washington poured billions of dollars in weaponry into the Kingdom. U.S. support escalated significantly in the autumn of 2019 when the Trump administration stationed F-15s and Patriot missile batteries in Saudi Arabia.
An especially telling example of the U.S. bias regarding the Iranian-Saudi contest for regional preeminence was the decision to back a Saudi-led coalition’s war to prevent Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen from achieving victory. When that intervention began in the spring of 2015, Barack Obama’s administration not only supported the coalition diplomatically, it provided intelligence to Saudi military commanders and refueled coalition aircraft so that they could conduct bombing operations against Houthi forces. That support continued despite mounting evidence of coalition attacks on civilians and the commission of other war crimes, and the policy persisted during the Trump administration. International and domestic pressure, including passage of a congressional resolution opposing further U.S. involvement in the conflict, eventually caused the administration to back-pedal, ending the refueling assistance.
Some European powers, notably Britain and France, went along with Washington’s pro-Saudi policy regarding Yemen. But other EU players became increasingly critical of the coalition’s conduct and sought ways to bring an end to the fighting. They recognized that although Iran did provide some backing to the Houthis, the rebels were far from being Tehran’s puppets (Riyadh’s justification for its intervention) and that a more balanced, restrained policy by outside powers was appropriate.
Washington’s decades-long obsessive hostility toward Iran has produced toxic results. It’s apparent that the European allies increasingly chafe at that policy and want a change. Until now, the close U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia inhibited any chance of a meaningful policy change, despite European wishes for a more balanced stance toward Iran. But the Trump administration’s anger at Riyadh for its March 2020 decision to ramp up oil production—a move that devastated U.S. domestic energy companies—may create an opportunity for new policy options. Washington’s subsequent decision to withdraw its Patriot batteries from Saudi Arabia bracingly conveyed the new chill in U.S.-Saudi relations.
That development should impel administration policymakers to seize the chance for a lower U.S. profile in the chronically turbulent Middle East. Washington needs to offload to the EU and its leading powers primary responsibility regarding that region, beginning with policy toward Iran. The U.S. strategy of “maximum pressure” on that country and knee-jerk support for its equally repressive, duplicitous Saudi rival has produced few, if any, positive results over the past four decades. One partial exception was the JCPOA, but the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement places even that modest achievement in jeopardy.
As noted previously, the European nations have far more important interests at stake in the Middle East—including managing relations with Tehran—than does the United States. It’s time to reduce U.S. involvement in the region and adopt a new focus on more pressing geostrategic challenges elsewhere in the world. The EU powers already have shown discontent with Washington’s Iran policy and a desire to take the lead in adopting a softer, more measured approach. It would be wise for the United States to let its allies do so.
When the truth is censored, lies become imposed and enforced, by removing truth and leaving lies in its place. That’s what propaganda is. It depends on censorship. Only propagandists and their victims (suckers — the people who are fooled by propagandists) want there to be any censorship, at all. Wherever there are censors, there should be no trust; but, unfortunately, some individuals trust censors. Some individuals are fools: they invite being deceived. They want others to filter what they see and hear; they don’t do, themselves, whatever filtering that there will be; they trust others to do it for them. They allow others to police their minds. They are willing to be mental slaves.
The only exception to this condemnation of censorship is highly top-secret information during an outright military war in which one’s own country is authentically being invaded by an authentic enemy — not like Iraq ‘endangered’ America in 2003 (that invasion was based purely on propaganda), but instead endangers for real. Only if there is already authentically and demonstrably an invasion against one’s own country can censorship be justifiable, because the invader must be defeated. (In fact, the invasion of Iraq resulted from censoring out the proofs — such as this — that George W. Bush was lying. So: that’s what happens when censorship is being applied when the nation hasn’t been invaded — the public becomes fooled into supporting the invasion of a country that never even threatened to invade us.)
Polling shows that Americans want censorship, but that they think this should be done by the private sector, not by the government. For example, on 15 August 2018, Gallup headlined “Americans’ Views on News Content From Internet Companies” and reported that on the question “Would you favor or oppose internet companies excluding items from their news feeds for each of the following reasons,” the reason “Suspect a news item contains misinformation” got 80% who “Favor” and only 16% — only one-fifth as many — marking “Oppose.” And that’s to a question where the billionaires’ ‘news’-medium merely “suspects,” and not allegedly “knows,” that it’s “misinformation.” The trust that Americans place in their 600 billionaires is like a religion — it’s a secular theocracy, in which the aristocrats constitute the imams, rabbis, or College of Cardinals.
That same Gallup survey also found that by an overwhelming 88%, “users aren’t comfortable with major internet companies playing the role of news editor.” “Eighty-eight percent say that companies should disclose their methods for selecting items.” 88% trust what the editors say about what they are doing. Those editors are agents of billionaires. Why should the public trust them, at all? But, they do, by 88%. (However, the actual study, in its detailed presentation, showed — on page 16 — only that 88% believed that the editors should “disclose their methods” of excluding content, as opposed to “should be able to keep secret” those methods. But this amounts basically to the same thing: trust that the editors will be honest about that. The survey should therefore have included a third option: “I don’t trust the editors, at all.” Then, this 88% finding would have been more clearly meaningful. However, the 80% finding already showed that the American public do overwhelmingly trust the editors of the ‘news’-sites they use. That finding was clearly meaningful.)
The government-versus-private-sector concept is largely the product of many decades of propaganda. The private sector is overwhelmingly controlled by billionaires, who own and control (hire and fire, and promote and demote, at) the ‘news’-media, and whose corporations’ products and services advertise in them and thus fund them. Having America’s 600 billionaires control the information and viewpoints that the U.S. public get to see and hear is handing control of the Government over to billionaires, because it affects voters’ beliefs in precisely the ways that billionaires (both Republican ones and Democratic ones) want — which is always for the government to be more of the same and not for anything that would challenge or threaten the continuation of the existing profoundly unjust reality (which produced and ‘justifies’ their obscenely large wealth). Some billionaires fund the Democratic Party, and others of them fund the Republican Party, but on the many issues where the interests of billionaires are opposite to the interests of the public — and these are the most important issues in all of politics — the interests of the billionaires will become governmental policy, regardless of whether the Administration is Democratic or Republican. This has been proven to be so for the United States. The Government of the U.S.A. is a dictatorship, not a democracy. That’s proven: the idea that the U.S. Government is a democracy instead of an aristocracy is a lie, but for billionaires the myth that America is a democracy needs constantly to be propagandized to be true, so that the pubic will believe it and vote for their candidates. For example, America’s billionaires in 2016 chose the nominees of both political Parties — chose Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to “duke it out” in the final U.S. Presidential contest for that year. This is just a two-Party, one aristocracy, dictatorship, that’s all, no democracy, at all. It’s easy to achieve when the billionaires’ employees (and their other agents) — regardless whether in the public or the private sector — are censoring-out what no billionaire wants the public to know. Censorship has been the essential tool for every dictatorship throughout history, and so it is in the U.S.-and-allied countries today.
On June 10th, The Gray Zone, which is one of the most reliable news-reporting organizations, headlined “Wikipedia formally censors The Grayzone as regime-change advocates monopolize editing”, and reported that Wikipedia is controlled by proponents of the U.S. military-industrial complex, basically Wikipedia is controlled by agents of the 100 largest U.S. military contractors, the firms that make their sales to the U.S. Government and depend heavily (if not exclusively) upon sales to the U.S. military and to the militaries of America’s allied nations (whose governments are likewise markets for their weapons). That’s the core, it is the directorship of America’s military-industrial complex or “MIC.” It’s actually the controlling owners of those contractors. Wikipedia now has an official blacklist of prohibited sources, banned to link to — they are banned news-sites, and those banned sites especially include all newsmedia (especially online) that critically examine U.S. foreign policy and especially the Pentagon, the CIA, etcetera. However, unfortunately, that lengthy article at The Gray Zone didn’t get into who actually provides the bulk of the funding which supplies Wikipedia’s $100 million+ annual expenditures, but those donors are the philanthropies by U.S.-and-allied billionaires and multi-millionaires, mainly the beneficiaries of, and investors in, U.S.-based international corporations (whose interests are advanced by America’s MIC). Consequently, their blacklisting of anti-imperialistic and anti-MIC newsmedia such as The Gray Zone makes sense, though not sense for Wikipedia’s readers who are trusting that ‘internet encyclopedia’ to be truthful instead of heavily prejudiced in favor of U.S.-and-allied billionaires who want to take over the world even more than they’ve yet managed to do.
The mainstream ‘news’-media are increasingly into blacklisting, censoring out what they want the public not to know or understand — and the public want to be victimized this way, because they trust the victimizers. Censorship is the name of this game, and it is practiced by all of the billionaires’ media. Now the censorship-rules are being published, and the lists of approved and disapproved news-sites are being published; but often the sites that are on the banned list are far more accurate, and far more careful to report only truth, than are the sites that are approved by the mainstream censoring ‘authority’. It’s all, really, about policing the propaganda, not about real journalism, which never is very profitable, and which encounters huge opposition, because it is true, and because very wealthy and powerful individuals don’t want the public to know that it is true.
As far as the CIA-edited and written Wikipedia is concerned, its blacklist is similar to the ones that have been published by, for example, Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post. Bezos makes most of his money from selling, to the Pentagon and CIA, Amazon Web Services, not from selling to consumers; so, his mere $250 million purchase of that newspaper gives him clout where it’s the most needed in order for his broader business-plan to succeed — which it is doing.
Censorship is the way that any dictatorship, and no democracy, functions. Censorship is the death of democracy. Censorship makes sense only for billionaires (because it serves their aims), and for members of the public who want some ‘authority’ to tell them what to believe, and what not to believe. Censorship is a con-game. Billionaires control it, and it is a game that the public always loses. Yet the public want it. Such a public are mental slaves — controlled not by the whip, but by the propaganda. Their bodies aren’t being controlled; their minds are.
One of the great truth-tellers and investigative journalists is Sibel Edmonds, whose headline on 3 December 2011 was classic because it said everything: “US Media: Distorters of Reality & Gravediggers of Truth”. They’re in business for themselves and their bosses. Anybody who thinks that newsmedia get their money from reporting the truth doesn’t know anything about truth regarding politics or government. In a dictatorship like this, that’s not how things actually work. Things work by filtering out the truths that the billionaires don’t want the public to know. Things work by censorship. That’s the truth, but you won’t see it published in places such as the Washington Post or the New York Times. I submit all of my articles to all of the U.S.-and-allied ‘news’-media, and not only to the few (and far smaller) news-media that are honest, but only the honest few ever publishes any of them. The mainstream media have me on their blacklist. For example, here’s how Google threatened just one of my courageous publishers, who refused to buckle and was therefore forced to virtually end his site. Other sites that published me have had to shut down altogether, or else they buckled in order to continue receiving at least a little income. We have it easy — just think of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, etc. They are the real heroes. Of course, if you are reading this, you are reading American samizdat — and samizdat is never published in mainstream media, but only in blacklisted media.
However, none of this is to assert that mainstream media should never be cited by an honest journalist. For example, one of the commonest reader-comments I get is attacks because I don’t exclude mainstream media (such as Wikipedia, and such as the Washington Post) altogether, ban them from my sources. No source should ever be banned. An honest journalist will cite any statement that the journalist, on his or her own, has sound reason to believe to be exactly as it was represented as being. Occasionally, I cite a source and simultaneously take exception to it because the interpretation was slanted. I trust no source. When I find an accurate statement in places such as Wikipedia or the Washington Post, I may quote that, if the given passage isn’t part of an unacceptably false context. The idea that one should automatically believe or disbelieve any source is stupid. But it is common. It is prejudice. Dictators thrive upon the widespread prevalence of that.
Also, none of this is to assert that online search-engines shouldn’t customize search-findings to the searcher’s interests, what that person is interested in instead of uninterested in. Irrelevant search-findings are bad, not good. But when, for example, an Internet firm such as Google and Twitter excludes certain writers or sites, or removes the access that an ‘offender’ has to advertising-income, that Internet firm should itself be banned, by law, just as if an electical utility were to disconnect an address because that utility’s owners don’t like what that address’s occupants are doing. Laws should treat the Internet like public utilities. Although the billionaires-controlled U.S. Government excludes taking ownership of the firm (without compensating its stockholders) as being a possible penalty for regulatory violations, that penalty should be automatic in severe cases. But the U.S. Government is a dictatorship by the richest, so, that doesn’t happen. (Even in cases where there has clearly been theft from the public by a regulated utility, there has been no seizure of that utility, but, at most, attempts by the harmed consumers to purchase part of the crooked utility, which attempts become blocked in the courts, because that utility can always outspend those consumers to buy better and more lawyers for a longer time-period; so, there can’t be any effective accountability at all.) If the public didn’t stand for this, there would be a revolution. The public stands for it because they are fooled. So, there’s a vicious circle here. And that’s the problem.
The bottom line is that censorship is essential in order for the super-rich to be able to control the public.
He once apologized for donning Black Face make-up and giving racist offense. Canadian liberal premier Justin Trudeau now has the red-faced embarrassment of explaining why his country lost out to Ireland in obtaining a seat on the UN Security Council.
Trudeau’s government had spent twice ($1.74 million) as much as Ireland had in lobbying other UN member states to vote for its assignment to the Security Council. But it was Ireland – and another applicant Norway – which won the necessary two-thirds majority votes last week from the 193 UN member nations, beating out Canada.
The three nations were applying to take two places on the 10-seat non-permanent panel that augments the five-seat permanent Security Council. The latter comprises Russia, China, the U.S., France and Britain. The 10-seat panel has rotating two-year terms for which all UN member nations can apply. All 15 Security Council members have veto power over draft resolutions.
It is the fourth time that Ireland has been voted on to the Security Council over the past six decades: previously in 1961, 1981 and 2001. It will take up the new post in January 2021 and serve for two years.
The Irish government and media are celebrating the victory. Of course, there is a lot of self-indulgent congratulations claiming the result was acknowledgement of Ireland’s record for UN peacekeeping duties in various conflict zones, as well as the small nation’s outsized contribution to international development and humanitarian aid.
But what may have actually helped Ireland’s bid was that it was up against Canada. Since Justin Trudeau became prime minister in 2015, he has been proclaiming “liberal values” and a “feminist foreign policy”. When Canada lost its previous bid for the UN Security Council in 2010, the liberals “explained” that setback was due to the poor international image of the Conservative government of then premier Stephen Harper.
On election in 2015 Trudeau promised that “Canada was back” on the global stage for its presumed commitment to human rights and humanitarian values.
So what went wrong? Well, despite the flowery rhetoric, the reality of Canada’s foreign and domestic policies leaves a lot to be desired. In other words, Trudeau’s administration is seen as hypocritical and something of a “snowflake” – that is, superficial and weak when the going gets tough.
At least under the Harper government which had an odious servility to Washington’s foreign policy, people knew what they were getting. Under pseudo-Trudeau, there is the added contemptible dimension of deception and pretentiousness which translates into being unreliable and dilettante.
In many ways, Trudeau has made Ottawa just as servile to Washington, but with an added two-faced limpness. The UN Security Council debacle shows how Canada has lost international respect no matter who is in office.
U.S. President Trump wasn’t too far wrong when he called out Trudeau two years ago at a G7 summit for being “weak and dishonest”, by saying one thing to your face, while saying the opposite behind your back. The classic image was later seen at the NATO summit last December when Trudeau in an informal cocktail gathering was caught ridiculing and backstabbing Trump.
Despite his liberal disdain for Trump, Trudeau has shown a squirming deference to Washington’s diktat.
The detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada is perhaps the acme of Ottawa’s weak-kneed compliance. Meng was arrested in December 2018 in Vancouver and is awaiting an extradition trial to be sent to the U.S. The chief financial officer is accused by the Trump administration of violating sanctions against Iran. But almost everyone knows the real agenda is Washington’s geopolitical rivalry with Beijing and in particular America’s attempt to ostracize Huawei from the global telecoms market in favor of U.S. companies.
Trudeau has the power to intervene in the de facto hostage-taking debacle and to order Meng’s release. But he refuses to do so. He claims liberal values of “due legal process”. No, the reality is Trudeau is being a weak-kneed patsy for Washington’s aggression towards China.
There are many more illustrations of Trudeau double talk and double dealing. For someone who proclaims human rights, his Liberal government has done little to rectify the systemic injustices against Canada’s indigenous people who have suffered decades of discrimination, dispossession and destitution.
Despite all the effusive and emotive rhetoric about “humanitarian foreign policy”, that didn’t stop Trudeau’s government making multi-billionaire-dollar arms deals with Saudi Arabia, even after it emerged that the Canadian weapons were involved in brutal internal repression and detention of female activists. So much for “feminist foreign policy”!
Ottawa has also shown an unedifying obsequiousness to Washington’s hostility towards Russia, Iran and Venezuela.
When the chips are down the world has seen that Trudeau’s government is a willing pawn of American imperialism. Canada’s supposed “nice guy” image has long been discredited. One could say the same for the previous Conservative administration. But at least then we were spared all the sanctimonious and smug duplicity.
Ireland’s international image is lot overblown too. But it has slightly more integrity and independence than Canada, as seen for example in its outspoken spoken defense of Palestinian rights. Nevertheless, Ireland (and Norway’s) best attribute for winning election to the UN Security Council was that it wasn’t Canada. That was the luck of the Irish.
Foreign aid to Ukraine helped spur the Democrats’ effort to impeach and remove President Trump earlier this year. Ukraine was supposed to be on the verge of great progress until Trump pulled the rug out from under the heroic salvation effort by U.S. government bureaucrats. Unfortunately, Congress has devoted a hundred times more attention to the timing of aid to Ukraine than to its effectiveness. And most of the media coverage pretended that U.S. handouts abroad are as generous and uplifting as congressmen claim.
U.S. foreign aid has long fueled the poxes it promised to eradicate — especially kleptocracy, or government by thieves. A 2002 American Economic Review analysis concluded that “increases in [foreign] aid are associated with contemporaneous increases in corruption” and that “corruption is positively correlated with aid received from the United States.” Windfalls of foreign aid can make politicians more rapacious, which economists have dubbed the “voracity effect.”
Early in his presidency, George W. Bush promised to reform foreign aid, declaring, “I think it makes no sense to give aid money to countries that are corrupt.” Regardless, the Bush administration continued delivering billions of dollars in handouts to many of the world’s most corrupt regimes.
Barack Obama proclaimed at the United Nations in 2010 that the U.S. government was “leading a global effort to combat corruption.” The Los Angeles Times noted that Obama’s “aides said the United States in the past has often seemed to just throw money at problems,” while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that “a lot of these aid programs don’t work” and lamented their “heartbreaking” failures. But Obama promised during his 2008 campaign to double foreign-aid spending, which obliterated efforts to reform failed programs. In 2011, congressional Republicans sought to restrict foreign aid going to fraud-ridden foreign regimes. Secretary of State Clinton wailed that restricting handouts to nations that fail anti-corruption tests “has the potential to affect a staggering number of needy aid recipients.”
Regardless, the Obama administration continued pouring tens of billions of U.S. tax dollars into sinkholes such as Afghanistan, which even its president, Ashraf Ghani, admitted in 2016 was “one of the most corrupt countries on earth.” The governor of Kandahar denounced his own government officials and police officers as “looters and kidnappers.” John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), declared that “U.S. policies and practices unintentionally aided and abetted corruption” in Afghanistan.
Since the end of the Soviet Union, the United States has provided more than $6 billion in aid to Ukraine. At the House impeachment hearings late last year, a key anti-Trump witness was acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr. The Washington Post hailed Taylor as someone who “spent much of the 1990s telling Ukrainian politicians that nothing was more critical to their long-term prosperity than rooting out corruption and bolstering the rule of law, in his role as the head of U.S. development assistance for post-Soviet countries.” A New York Times editorial lauded Taylor and State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent as witnesses who “came across not as angry Democrats or Deep State conspirators, but as men who have devoted their lives to serving their country.”
Their testimony spurred Eric Rubin, president of the American Foreign Service Association, to bewail that “this is the most fraught time and the most difficult time for our members” since Sen. Joe McCarthy’s accusations of communism in the 1950s. A Washington Post headline echoed him: “The diplomatic corps has been wounded. The State Department needs to heal.” But not nearly as much as the foreigners supposedly rescued by U.S. bureaucrats.
The Wall Street Journal reported on October 31 that the International Monetary Fund, which has provided more than $20 billion in loans to Ukraine, “remains skeptical after a history of broken promises [from the Ukrainian government]. Kiev hasn’t successfully completed any of a series of IMF bailout packages over the past two decades, with systemic corruption at the heart of much of that failure.” The IMF concluded that Ukraine continued to be vexed by “shortcomings in the legal framework, pervasive corruption, and large parts of the economy dominated by inefficient state-owned enterprises or by oligarchs.” That last item is damning for U.S. benevolent pretensions. If a former Soviet republic cannot even terminate its government-owned boondoggles, then why was the U.S. government bankrolling them? While many members of Congress could not find Ukraine on a map, far fewer could have offered any coherent explanation of what U.S. aid bought in Ukraine.
Transparency International, which publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, shows that corruption surged in Ukraine in the late 1990s (after the United States decided to rescue that country) and remains at abysmal levels. Ukraine now ranks in the bottom tier on the list of most corrupt nations, with a worse rating than Egypt and Pakistan, two other major U.S. aid recipients notorious for corruption.
Actually, the best gauge of Ukrainian corruption is the near-total collapse of its citizens’ trust in government or in their own future. Since 1991, the nation has lost almost 20 percent of its population as citizens flee abroad like passengers leaping off a sinking ship. But as long as Kiev was not completely depopulated, U.S. bureaucrats could continue claiming to be on the verge of achieving great things.
The House impeachment hearings and much of the media gushed over those career U.S. government officials despite their strikeouts. It was akin to a congressional committee’s resurrecting Col. George Custer in 1877 and fawning as he offered personal insights in dealing with uprisings by Sioux Indians (while carefully avoiding awkward questions about the previous year at the Little Bighorn).
Foreign aid is virtue-signaling with other people’s money. As long the aid spawns press releases and photo opportunities for presidents and members of Congress and campaign donations from corporate and other beneficiaries, little else matters. Congress almost never conducts thorough investigations into the failure of aid programs despite their legendary pratfalls. As the Christian Science Monitor noted in 2010, AID “created an atmosphere of frantic urgency about the ‘burn rate’ — a measure of how quickly money is spent. Emphasis gets put on spending fast to make room for the next batch from Congress.” Martine van Bijlert of the nonprofit Afghanistan Analysts Network commented, “As long as you spend money and you can provide a paper trail, that’s a job well done. It’s a perverse system, and there seems to be no intention to change it.” The “burn rate” fixation produced endless absurdities, including collapsing school buildings, impassable roads, failed electrification projects, and phantom health clinics. SIGAR’s John Sopko “found a USAID lessons-learned report from 1980s on Afghan reconstruction but nobody at AID had read it.”
“Fail and repeat” was also AID’s motto in Iraq. After the 2003 invasion, AID and the Pentagon paired up to spend $60 billion to rebuild Iraq. As long as projects looked vaguely impressive at ribbon-cutting ceremonies, AID declared victory. Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), listed some of the agency’s farcical Iraq success claims at a 2011 hearing: “262,482 individuals reportedly benefited from medical supplies that were purchased to treat only 100 victims of a specific attack; 22 individuals attended a five-day mental-health course, yet 1.5 million were reported as beneficiaries; … and 280,000 were reported as benefitting from $14,246 spent to rehabilitate a morgue.” Ali Ghalib Baban, Iraq’s minister of planning, denied in 2009 that U.S. aid for relief and reconstruction had benefitted his country: “Maybe they spent it, but Iraq doesn’t feel it.” An analysis by the Center for Public Integrity noted that, according to top Iraqi officials, the biggest impact of U.S. aid was “more corruption and widespread money-laundering.”
After driving around the world, investment guru Jim Rogers declared, “Most foreign aid winds up with outside consultants, the local military, corrupt bureaucrats, the new NGO [nongovernmental organizations] administrators, and Mercedes dealers.” Mercedes-Benz automobiles became so popular among African government officials that a new Swahili word was coined: wabenzi — “men of the Mercedes-Benz.” After the Obama administration promised massive aid to Ukraine in 2014, Hunter Biden, the vice president’s son, jumped on the gravy train — as did legions of well-connected Washingtonians and other hustlers around the nation. Similar largesse ensures that there will never be a shortage of overpaid people and hired think tanks ready to write op-eds or letters to the editor of the Washington Post whooping up the moral greatness of foreign aid or some such hokum.
Bribing foreign politicians to encourage honest government makes as much sense as distributing free condoms to encourage abstinence. Rather than encouraging good governance practices, foreign aid is more likely to produce kleptocracies. As a Brookings Institution analysis observed, “The history of U.S. assistance is littered with tales of corrupt foreign officials using aid to line their own pockets, support military buildups, and pursue vanity projects.” Both U.S. politicians and U.S. bureaucrats are prone to want to continue the aid gravy train regardless of how foreign regimes waste the money or use it to repress their own citizens.
U.S. government leaders are far more concerned with buying influence than with safeguarding purity. Foreign aid is often little more than a bribe for a foreign regime to behave in ways that please the U.S. government. One large bribe naturally spawns hundreds or thousands of smaller bribes, and thereby corrupts an entire country. The impeachment of Trump was driven by the specific favor that Democrats claimed he had requested from the Ukrainian president, not from seeking favors per se.
When it comes to the failure of U.S. aid to Ukraine, almost all of Trump’s congressional critics are like the “dog that didn’t bark” in the Sherlock Holmes story. The real outrage is that Trump and prior presidents, with Congress cheering all the way, delivered so many U.S. tax dollars to Kiev that any reasonable person knew would be wasted.
Foreign aid will continue to be toxic as long as politicians continue to be politicians. There is no bureaucratic cure for the perverse incentives created by flooding foreign nations with U.S. tax dollars. If Washington truly wants to curtail foreign corruption, ending U.S. government handouts aid is the best first step. Counting on foreign aid to reduce corruption is like expecting whiskey to cure alcoholism.
Why do we tolerate the government violating our privacy? Because cellphones are useful, and their spying is completely imperceptible.