You’ve probably already seen the footage of a white police officer named Derek Chauvin cheerfully suffocating a black man named George Floyd to death with his knee while Floyd pleaded for his life. This went viral around the same time as another viral video where a white woman in Central Park called New York police on a black man who posed no threat to her while making sure to inform the police that he was black, and just weeks after video footage surfaced of a black man named Ahmaud Arbery being shot to death by a white former cop and his son while out for a jog.
So race is on everyone’s mind, and rightly so. And whether we’re honest with ourselves or we throw a bunch of verbiage at it to try and compartmentalize away from it, white people are all aware when we watch George Floyd being torturously murdered that there’s no way it could have been us on the business end of that knee. Not because of our impeccable manners or our sparkling personality, but because our skin is a certain color.
And whether we choose to directly acknowledge this reality or not, we’re going to experience discomfort on some level. And mainly what I want to say here is, that’s okay.
It can be tempting to try and distance ourselves from this discomfort by making it about individuals: that individual cop was a bad, bad man and I would never do such a thing, and I didn’t, so I have no accountability here. And of course it’s true that you were not personally directly responsible for George Floyd’s actual murder, but white people who urgently advance that truism are only ever doing so to avoid confronting the more uncomfortable reality that they live in and benefit from a society which guarantees that they will never be on the receiving end of such brutality.
White people have a lot of unprocessed feelings about racism, their role in it and the extent to which they’ve benefited from it, both in America and here in Australia, where the bright sun on my pale skin is a constant reminder to me that I am an alien on stolen land. Those unprocessed feelings will probably express themselves in angry vituperative comments on this essay by white people who are afraid of simply feeling their feelings and getting real with themselves, because this is uncomfortable, confrontational stuff.
“Identity politics!” is an objection I often get when I try to talk about the reality of racial power dynamics in our society, probably because I have a lot of readers who follow me because of my criticisms of the Democratic Party which often cynically exploits race and racism to advance political agendas.
But this isn’t identity politics; it’s not about politics at all. This is about healing, and being real with ourselves.
“Bah, white guilt!” is another common objection. “You just want us to feel guilty! How does white people feeling all guilty help fix racism??”
They always talk about guilt. Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt. I never brought guilt up, but that’s what they argue against. Which is of course very telling.
Obviously guilt in and of itself is not the objective here. Nobody’s claiming that the world’s racial wounds would be healed if white people just went around feeling guilty all the time; that’s a vapid strawman that is advanced by white people who don’t want to viscerally grapple with the reality of the advantages their whiteness brings them.
But also, why such a fearful, defensive response to the possibility of experiencing guilt? Why treat guilt like it’s made of molten lava? Guilt is just a feeling; it won’t hurt you. You just feel it, listen to what it has to say, and then once it’s been felt all the way through it subsides. There’s no need to fear it, and it’s not legitimate to reject ideas on the basis that they might cause you to experience it.
It’s not about guilt, it’s about consciousness and curiosity. Consciousness of the way racial power dynamics play out in our own lives, and curiosity about the experience of other races in our society.
White people are averse to emotionally processing the reality of their privilege for the same reason rich people aggressively insist they worked hard for every penny they have even though they know they received way more opportunities and advantages than the average person ever sees. Life is hard and abrasive for everyone, even for white people and even for rich people, so acknowledging you’ve received a head start in some way over other people can be one more thing in your mind telling you you’re deficient, in addition to your father’s voice and your first love rejecting you and all the other painful inadequacy stories you’ve got circling through your consciousness.
White privilege doesn’t mean white people don’t suffer or that some white people don’t have it harder overall than some black people. All it means is that having white skin is an advantage, and that all other factors being equal a white person will have an easier time in our society than a person of color. And that this is because our society has been shaped by white supremacy for many generations, leaving many remaining effects.
Healing can’t happen without consciousness. Healing our society’s racial wounds won’t happen as long as white people are compartmentalizing away from the reality that our lives have been easier than they would otherwise have been if we’d been born a different race, and that this is because our ancestors killed, enslaved, exploited and oppressed people who didn’t look like them for many generations before we got here. That while we didn’t personally cause this dynamic, we are interwoven into its tapestry and we have risen above others because of it.
And to be honest, if you really determine to get real with yourself and make your white privilege conscious, you will experience guilt at some point. It’s an inescapable part of the journey if you’re being really sincere and getting really curious about what life is like for people of different races in our society. And that’s okay. Guilt is not dangerous; you just feel through it and continue on your journey. It’s not the final destination in the journey, but it’s a river that you will cross along the way.
There are all sorts of conscious and unconscious ways that white people defensively protect a racist system, even when they don’t think of themselves as racist. You can witness these dynamics in a more overt form by simply scrolling through the comments on any of the videos linked here, full of white people arguing in various ways that this isn’t the atrocious thing that people are making it out to be. (Hint: if the only time you talk about racism is to yell at people that something isn’t racist, then you’re protecting racism.) They can happen in much subtler ways as well, throughout all aspects of our life, and it’s only by making them conscious and feeling the feelings that brings up until they are fully felt that these subconscious white supremacy-supporting mental habits can be noticed and uprooted.
My ancestors came to Australia as prisoners, and some almost certainly would have played some role in the genocide against the people who’d been living here for more than 65,000 years before them. And now I live in a society that is dominated by whiteness, and I’ve benefited from that. I’ve never had cause to fear for my life in the presence of a police officer, in fact I’ve never hesitated to call them if I’ve needed their help. I had an easy youth because my parents came from the race that has been favored by generations of white supremacist policies in Australia. Media I consumed growing up consistently featured people who were the same color as me, consistently feeding me through my formative years the message that I can accomplish anything I want in life. I’ve gotten jobs because I understand the subtleties of white culture enough to know how to speak and dress for different interviews, and because I had many white contacts (it’s not what you know, it’s who you know). There are people who pay attention to my words today who wouldn’t give them as much respect if they appeared next to a profile picture with dark skin. There are many other advantages I’ve had that I can’t even know about, since I’ve never lived a day in brown skin.
This is a reality I need to feel into and make conscious if I’m to play my part in our society’s healing of its racial woundedness. And yeah it can bring up uncomfortable emotions. Being white is weird, man. If we live in Australia or North America we’re acutely aware that we’re disconnected from our ancestral roots, but if we go to visit Europe that feels weird and not at all like home too. We walk through the land surrounded by the ghosts of its previous inhabitants, aware that they had a deep connection to it and that we do not. We’re always reaching for culture because we sense intuitively that that’s something people are meant to have, but everything we grasp fails to satisfy in any meaningful way. We’re aware on some level that we have it better than other races, but we also know that life has been cruel and abrasive to us too, and we don’t know how to solve all the problems which white supremacy has caused.
And if we’re honest with ourselves, it brings up a lot of feels. And it’s okay that it does. It’s good that it does. These feelings need to be felt. Really diving down the rabbit hole of racism and our role in it will move mountains inside you that you didn’t even know were there, and there will be some deep, deep emotions underneath them which will bring burning shame, and big tears. Those tears need to come out though. They’re what’s standing between you and true healing.
And when you have processed through that journey, you will no longer have in you the defensiveness about your own white privilege, and any parts of you which were unconsciously defending and protecting white supremacy in that way will have been purged from your system. And you will be in that respect a much more real and authentic human being, with a much more real and authentic relationship with the world. And the world will feel much more like home to you.
The Trump administration’s scapegoating of China over its own disastrous mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic has relied on baseless conspiracy theory, unscientific claims and hyperbole. This week the president’s National Security Advisor went further by comparing the virus outbreak to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
In a U.S. media interview, Robert O’Brien repeated baseless claims that China was guilty of a “cover up” in responding to the disease. And he likened it to the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union where the authorities were also accused of concealing the initial severity of the accident.
O’Brien added: “They unleashed a virus on the world that’s destroyed trillions of dollars in American economic wealth that we’re having to spend to keep our economy alive, to keep Americans afloat during this virus.”
It is a transparent attempt to make China liable for reparations.
The politicization of the coronavirus global pandemic by the Trump administration is unprecedented. It’s not just a feckless, demagogic administration engaging in delusion, denial and China-bashing. A growing bipartisan consensus in Washington is blaming China for having responsibility for spreading a communicable disease. This is in spite of the public record on the timeline of the pandemic and the early response from China and the World Health Organization to alert the rest of the world to potential consequences.
But Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have taken the anti-China rhetoric to reckless extreme by leveling unsubstantiated claims that the Chinese government weaponized a virus to inflict damage on the U.S.
This unhinged logic is a dangerous slippery slope towards conflict. By comparing the coronavirus pandemic to Chernobyl, the Trump administration is gas-lighting the American public into viewing China as the source of their woes and all the terrible fallout from the disease. With over 100,000 dead Americans in four months – the world’s leader in this grim toll – and with 40 million American’s unemployed, the Trump administration is cynically seeking to turn public anger against China as a deflection from its own criminal incompetence.
The image of Chernobyl is a handy, if specious, mechanism by which to incite American anger even more against China.
Ironically, this gross distortion of events is willfully propagated by an American president who has made a signature cause against “fake news media”. Trump this week signed an executive order clamping down on social media platforms which he accuses, with some validity, of censoring certain viewpoints such as his claims about voter fraud using mail-in ballots.
Yet these U.S.-owned social media platforms do not “fact check” when it comes to Trump’s much more dubious and incendiary allegations against China. The president and his men have been freely vilifying China for allegedly unleashing the virus, weaponizing the pandemic and wreaking havoc and suffering across the U.S. – without any “checks” by his favored Twitter platform flagging such slanderous nonsense.
It should be disturbing too that Trump’s top National Security Advisor is so bereft of judgement and facts that he makes such an absurd comparison between the biological pandemic and an industrial accident. If this so-called security expert can be so imprudent with facts then it is appalling to consider how other important global issues, such as nuclear arms controls, will be likewise distorted and politicized for self-serving purpose.
Since Robert O’Brien took over the National Security Council from John Bolton at the end of last year it has taken on a noticeably more hawkish stance towards China in what seems to be a career-furthering choice of direction. His Neo-imperialist and “American exceptionalism” views set out in his over-rated book, While America Slept, show O’Brien to be an empty vessel intellectually and having a thoroughly propagandized mind.
Going nuclear over the pandemic is a sure sign that the Trump administration is desperate to replace rational argument with reckless rhetoric. Because it does not have a rational argument.
On May 19th, an implicit international political warning was issued, but it wasn’t issued between countries; it was issued between allied versus opposed factions within each of two countries: U.S. and Ukraine. In the United States, it’s a Republican Party warning to the Democratic Party: a warning by Trump, against Biden and against Obama. It’s saying: “We’ve got the goods on you, and we’re not releasing it yet. But here’s a sample. So, let’s deal.”
It’s a warning that comes from the current President of Ukraine, Volodmyr Zelenskiy, and that places into an exceptionally bad light his immediate predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, as having been a mere vassal of Trump’s immediate predecessor, Obama.
The Ukrainian pro-Zelenskiy, anti-Poroshenko, and pro-Trump, faction, are warning the U.S. Democratic Party, which backed Poroshenko. This warning comes via an online pro-Zelenskiy Ukrainian TV station, InTimeUkraineTV, and it was issued in a 32-minute 19 May 2020 youtube:
One can hear there, first, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, tell Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko how to run his country so that the IMF would continue to guarantee (back up by U.S.-and-allied taxpayers) the investments by U.S.-and-allied private investors in Ukrainian Government debt (bonds). The alternative that Poroshenko faced was always that those investors would lose whatever they had invested, and that Poroshenko would then no longer be protected by the U.S. Government and by its allied governments.
These are only selected excerpts, and they constitute also a warning that unless the pro-Poroshenko and pro-Obama people soon start cooperating with the pro-Zelenskiy and pro-Trump people, portions from U.S.-Ukraine diplomatic phone-conversations which were recorded that are even more incriminating against the Poroshenko-Obama people will likewise be made public. In that sense, it’s like blackmail, but it is currently only political — instead of also legal — jeopardy.
Here are some of the noteworthy revelations in this, the first such release:
The U.S. officials, agents for U.S. President Barack Obama, are shown, in early 2016, not negotiating with, but instructing, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, who, at 17:00- 22:50, requests Biden to “increase the pressure” in order to get the (extremist anti-Russian) parliamentary factions of Tymoshenko, Lyashko, and Samopomich, to back the U.S.-demanded bills (proposed laws) that are in Ukraine’s parliament. At 19:20, Biden mentions the American Natalie “Jaresko [on her] facebook page talking about wanting to consider being Prime Minister with the technocratic government.” Michael Bloomberg’s blog (Bloomberg News) had headlined, on 22 March 2016, “Ukraine’s Jaresko Says She’d Be Willing to Head New Cabinet”, and reported that neither President Poroshenko nor the (secretly Obama-appointed — see video here of that secret U.S. appointment of Ukraine’s Prime Minister, and the transcript and explanation of it here) then-current (that U.S.-appointed) Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, would speak publicly regarding the initiative by the American Natalie Jaresko to become (the American-appointed) Yatsenyuk’s successor. Poroshenko’s reply to Biden was to “promise [you] to receive my proposal about the technocratic government of Jaresko.” Bloomberg’s employees reported there that the IMF wanted her to become Yatsenyuk’s successor so that “The reforms will be more radical, and it means more political risks, more possible conflicts with parliament” (because — though Bloomberg hid this — protecting the investors in Ukrainian Government bonds would require yet more impoverishment of the Ukrainian public). As Poroshenko told Biden at 20:00, “the reason of the political crisis is that the three fractions [factions, or political parties] from Samopomich, Tymoshenko and Lyashko, go out from [leave] the coalition, and we [are] left together with the [U.S.-appointed] Prime Minister in a minority. I invite Samopomich and propose them to either to support Jaresko or to propose his [its] leader as a [the] next Prime Minister.” So, although Poroshenko had not publicly endorsed Jaresko’s bid to become the next Prime Minister to replace the current American-appointed one, he did confirm privately to Biden that he supported either her or Samopomich’s pick to fill that spot. But Poroshenko went on to say that Samopomich would cooperate but only this one time, and Poroshenko then explained to Biden, “This is not possible under our Constitution; they should sign up personally their membership in coalition,” which they refused to do. The vassal, Poroshenko, was here explaining to the emperor, Obama (through the emperor’s messenger, Biden), the difficulties that were blocking the IMF’s forced enserfment of the Ukrainian people. (22:15:) “Without Samopomich, with the rejection of Tymoshenko and Lyashko, we don’t have [enough] for your ask [of] 226” votes (a governing majority — which would enable Ukraine’s public to become yet-more exploited directly, and U.S.-and-allied publics to become more exploited indirectly because the downside financial risks of those international debts would then be transferred onto them). (22:40:) “I asked to contact [your] Ambassador maybe to increase the pressure and to support Jaresko’s candidacy by Samopomich.” (23:23:) “Our U.S. partners give grants to Samopomich and give him [it] significant financial support.” Poroshenko was telling Obama (via Biden) “maybe to increase the pressure,” if he wants to get Ukraine’s elected politicians to cooperate. He was saying: They don’t want to lose their seats, but maybe more money from U.S. taxpayers might persuade them to take the risk of losing their seats (via sufficiently high bribes and/or threats).
Whether InTimeUkraineTV, or any other Zelenskiy front, has these recordings going all the way back to the coup that handed control of Ukraine’s Government over to the United States Government, is not known, but the prior evidence suggests that it almost certainly is the case.
Whether or not there are already ongoing negotiations between the Trump team and the Obama team regarding how America will be run (or how America’s ‘elections’ will be run), is even less certain. What has not been disclosed from those recordings is a weapon.
It is rare in life to experience a sustained ray of light shine upon the shadow creatures that have so long perverted recent history. At times, a bit of light has shone upon these creatures, but never for very long.
From 1869-1872, the world got to see these creatures exposed when the first international criminal case occurred between Britain and the USA known as the Alabama Claims affair. The outcome of this case found Britain guilty of militarily supplying the Confederate South during the Civil War which nearly saw the dissolution of the Union between 1861-1865. While many supporters of Lincoln knew that vast Confederate operations in British Canada were vital in executing the war (and also guiding Lincoln’s 1865 assassination), international distractions and corruption from within America resulted in little more than a $15 million slap on the wrist while all sins were deemed forgotten and the shadow creatures went promptly back to work.
In 1934, the light shone again upon the shadow creatures when General Smedley Butler blew the whistle on a fascist coup plot led by the top echelons of the Anglo-American banking establishment against Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His exposure to Congress and the media again shed light onto the dark creatures crawling around inside of America’s soul and saved the republic from an early slide into fascism which certainly would have found itself allied with fascist forces of Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and Britain during the course of the war that was yet to occur. While FDR survived his 1933 assassination attempt, 1934 coup attempt and prolonged war with Wall Street and the City of London, the light was kept focused upon the shadow creatures for a number of years… but then he died before accomplishing his grand vision. His allies like Harry Hopkins, Henry Wallace, Dexter White, Sumner Wells and others who shared his anti-colonial vision to internationalize the new deal were targeted for destruction under the new FBI-led fascism of the Cold War age and the shadow creatures again took power.
JFK, Malcolm X, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. did their best to shine light upon the darkness and right the wrongs of this imperial impulse within America’s deep state (that really never left with the United Empire Loyalists in 1776)… but their candles were also snuffed out.
The common thread among the great American leaders of the 19th and 20th centuries mentioned above was their devout commitment to the principles enshrined in the American constitution, and the internationalization of those principles in the form of anti-colonial programs for rail and industrial development for all peoples. This traditionally American concept of a global system was premised upon certain principles of “open system economics”, “win-win cooperation”, interconnectivity with a focus on rail and the defense of national sovereignty. The British System of governance on the other hand was premised upon closed system, zero-sum thinking, monetarist, and antithetical to national sovereignty.
Beautifully describing this clash between two paradigms, Henry Carey who would become Lincoln’s leading economic advisor and champion of the spread of the American System globally stated in his Harmony of Interests (1851):
“Two systems are before the world; the one looks to increasing the proportion of persons and of capital engaged in trade and transportation, and therefore to diminishing the proportion engaged in producing commodities with which to trade, with necessarily diminished return to the labor of all; while the other looks to increasing the proportion engaged in the work of production, and diminishing that engaged in trade and transportation, with increased return to all, giving to the laborer good wages, and to the owner of capital good profits… One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other in increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace. One is the English system; the other we may be proud to call the American system, for it is the only one ever devised the tendency of which was that of elevating while equalizing the condition of man throughout the world.”
Russiagate: more than just another scandal
Today, as the world finds itself again caught between two opposing systems (multipolar vs unipolar), the light has found itself cast upon America’s shadow creatures as the scheme known as Russiagate which promised to undo the 2016 election and accelerate America’s war with Russia (and China) has lost those remnants of viability it once enjoyed.
In recent weeks, Richard Grenell (acting director of National Intelligence) put more water on the fires of the Russiagate myth by forcing the release of thousands of pages of testimonies and side evidence of 53 people including many high level Deep State operatives embedded within the Obama state department, cabinet and Five Eyes intelligence apparatus. Upon inspection, many of these testimonies revealed that leading players of the effort to overthrow Trump admitted to Congress that they knew of no collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia although continued to lie to the media for years that such collusion did exist. These testimonies and side evidence also revealed that Trump’s allies like Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and George Papadopolous were targeted for entrapment by the FBI and CIA. Emails from the FBI’s Counterintelligence head Bill Priestap were especially candid asking “what is our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
The released evidence also revealed that Comey’s FBI not only held a meeting with Obama and a team of officials in the Oval Office on January 6, 2020 to discuss entrapment procedures targeting Flynn, but Comey’s Assistant Deputy Director of the FBI Peter Strzok proceeded to command the FBI to keep the ‘Operation Razor’ investigation on Flynn open even though the department had publicly committed to dropping the operation on January 5 finding no evidence of Russian collusion after 3 months of surveillance. This extension gave Comey time to arrange the “casual meeting” between his agents Strzok and Bill Priestap in Flynn’s office on January 26, 2016 in order to discuss the content of Flynn’s discussion with the Russian Ambassador Kislyak wherein the General bit the bait and told the lie that he relayed his discussion to the Vice President.
All original notes of the meeting supposedly compiled by the two agents interviewing Flynn were promptly lost and replaced with heavily edited commentaries by Strzok’s love interest Lisa Page who were both later caught red handed admitting to be the “resistance” committed to bringing down Trump from within Washington. Other evidence made public in recent weeks revealed that three dozen Obama officials and intelligence operatives made “unmasking requests” to the FBI-riddled Justice Department in order to make Flynn’s name public in the recorded transcripts with the Russian Ambassador.
All in all, Attorney General Barr’s decision to drop all charges against Flynn (and hopefully Roger Stone who was similarly targeted) makes a lot of sense.
A Word on the Steele Dossier
Three years of investigations including the incredible Horrowitz report of December 2019 have demonstrated startling abuses of power from the FBI, and deep seated connections between the FBI and CIA with the DNC, Hillary Campaign, Perkins Coie (the DNC law firm) and MI6’s Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS. Steele’s dodgy dossier itself was funded by the Hillary Campaign and the DNC via the law firm Perkins Coie which also gave funds to Steele’s American partner Fusion GPS on whose board sit figures such as the husband of Obama’s senior policy advisor Shailagh Murray, and the wife of the DOJ’s 4th highest official Bruce Ohr.
The fact that the blatant lies were compiled on the DNC/Clinton dime by British intelligence and then distributed to leading FBI-connected media mouthpieces like the NY Times, Mother Jones, Washington Post and Buzzfeed was not a coincidence and neither was the role of Steele’s former boss Richard Dearlove who also acts as advisor to Steele’s Orbis enterprise.
While running MI6, Sir Dearlove not only gave the world the dodgy “yellowcake” dossier in 2002 which justified the destruction of Iraq but was the figure who advised Steele to give the dossier to the UK government in the Autumn of 2016 and then send it to officials in the USA. It was in this manner that the dossier made its way into the hands of James Comey and James Clapper who leaked it’s existence via a memo to the National Endowment of Democracy’s David Kramer and Buzzfeed.
This dossier was not only was instrumental in justifying the FISA warrants used to surveil the Trump Campaign- giving rise to the Robert Mueller witch hunt that contaminated three years of American history and did irreparable damage to U.S.-Russian relations, but also induced the late Cold Warrior John McCain to call for the activation of NATO’s article 5 threatening to put America on a war footing with Russia.
There is no such thing as “former MI6”.
Steele is such an ugly figure in this story that a few additional words should be said on the man who had served as the head of MI6’s Moscow bureau recruiting and handling oligarchs and other spies during the dark days of the 1990s. After this stint, Steele acted as case officer of the anti-Kremlin journalist (and Boris Berezovsky employee) Alexander Litvinenko who turned out more useful dead than alive in 2006 with Steele being the first to lay the blame on Putin. Later, Steele acted as advisor to Victoria Nuland during the State Department-led overthrow of Ukraine’s government in February 2014. Very little that has been destructive during the past few years have been untouched by Steele as Newsweek even revealed that Steele’s firm Orbis (which was used to compile the dossier along with Fusion GPS and on whose board sits Sir Dearlove) had direct connections with another Russian defector… Sergey Skripal.
Upon his release from prison, George Papadopoulos had the wits to review his own experience as a target of this entrapment operation producing a book of extremely high value entitled Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump. In this book, Papadopoulos diligently reconstructs his experience with British and Italian intelligence networks centered around Sir Dearlove’s close friend and associate Stefan Halper who crafted an elaborate web of intrigue that was later used to entrap the hapless consultant into lying to the FBI.
In spite of these and other revelations of the injustices and abuse of power of the shadow creatures embedded within the heart of America, the myth of Russia’s takeover has continued in the psyche of dumbed down liberals who only knew how to shape their image of reality from MSNBC.
This is Not a Liberal vs Conservative Problem
What has become ever more apparent amidst this ongoing drama, is that this “deep state” is not categorizable as a creature of the left, as many Trump supporters foolishly do. In fact, many of the most psychotic participants of this process find themselves among the so called “right” of America professing their public loyalty to Donald Trump while promulgating the myth of Russia’s enemy image (and obstruction of the true role of British Intelligence).
Key figures among this group who have played and continue to play a dangerous role as right-wing gatekeepers of the Empire include Trump’s former Advisor Steve Bannon who has lied repeatedly of Russian interference into the Trump Campaign (even testifying that Roger Stone served as the agent between Trump and Julian Assange), and also current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo has not only led a mission to destroy Julian Assange for over two years accusing him of being a stooge of Putin, but has also withheld vital information delivered to him by former NSA whistleblower Bill Binney with whom he met in October 2017 at the request of Trump. In this meeting, Binney presented the results of forensic studies he conducted of the DNC emails published on Wikileaks revealing that they were not subject to a hack but rather an internal download from within the DNC itself onto a thumb drive. In his affidavit to the Stone case, Binney restated the argument he delivered to Pompeo earlier saying: “Wikileaks did not receive stolen data from the Russian government. Intrinsic metadata in the publicly available files on Wikileaks demonstrates that the files acquired by Wikileaks were delivered in a medium such as a thumb drive”. Had Pompeo made these findings known in 2017, the entire Russiagate affair could easily have been put to bed much earlier.
Even Crowdstrike’s CEO Shawn Henry was revealed to have admitted in the newly released testimonies that his private firm (contracted by the FBI to have sole control over the DNC servers), could find no evidence of a hack.
Both Pompeo and Bannon are among the loudest of the droves of neocon sociopaths promoting war with Russia and China while projecting the weak image of their support of the confused and beleaguered President who has been labelled such a threat by those orchestrators of Russia gate for the simple fact of his 1) support of nationalism and industry within America and 2) his long-held support for positive relations with Russia and China.
If it were not for Russia and China’s vital alliance, then no multipolar alternative to the collapsing western financial system would exist and any hope for salvation for the Middle East, Africa, Asia or even the western alliance would be nil by this point in time. Trump’s very existence as an American force representing a tendency to avoid war, defend national sovereignty and collaborate with other nation states on building big projects around the world and in outer space, is itself an intolerable threat to the global empire which presided over the deaths of eight American presidents, and orchestrated every major war of the 19th-20th centuries.
This is the same empire that is currently putting every ounce of energy into the effort to convince Trump that he has no choice but to take a hard line approach to China amidst the current coronavirus hysteria in order to win the upcoming elections, going so far as to condemn Xi Jinping as complicit in the spread of covid-19 and pulling America out of the Open Skies Treaty earlier this week. When one traces back the origins of the anti-China line now promulgated by Pompeo, and Bannon (and unfortunately adopted by Trump as of this week), we find ourselves right back onto the porch of British Intelligence’s own sophist Niall Ferguson. Another driving force behind the origins of the “make-China-pay-the-USA-for-causing-the-pandemic” formula is none other than Britain’s neocon Henry Jackson Society whose founding principles were signed by sir Richard Dearlove!
Trump’s decision to play such a dangerous game in order to “win elections” is beyond folly since no one in their right mind should even assume that a 2020 U.S. election will even occur under chaotic conditions of martial law which today’s multifaceted crisis threatens to usher onto the world.
While the light shines ever more upon the shadow creatures within America, the time to act appropriately upon that exposed darkness is running out and only a strong commitment by the patriotic forces in America and other western nations to ally with Russia, and China in order to bring a new Multipolar system into being can put America back onto the tracks which such leaders as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F Kennedy had envisioned.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us consider why the Donald Trump White House is currently considering detonating a nuclear weapon. It would be the first “test” of a nuke since 1992 and is clearly intended to send a message that those weapons sitting around in storage will be available for use. The testing is in response to alleged development of low-yield tactical nuclear devices by Beijing and Moscow, a claim that is unsupported by any evidence and which is likely a contrivance designed to suggest that there is strong leadership coming out of Washington at a time when the Administration has been faulted for its multiple failures in combatting the coronavirus.
The Pentagon and national security agencies directed by the White House have also been discussing the viability of engaging in war with those same two global competitors Russia and China, either individually or even simultaneously. Yes, it is true that many countries wargame certain scenarios that are unlikely ever to occur, but there is nevertheless a certain consistency in the bellicosity that comes like an endless stream out of the Trump White House.
Relations with both Moscow and Beijing are the worst they have been since the end of the Cold War. A recent interview with U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey revealed that American troops are staying in Syria not to confront ISIS but rather in hopes that Russia will be drawn into a “quagmire.” Meanwhile the U.S. government’s repeated attempts to demonize China for the coronavirus suggest that tension with that country will increase considerably as U.S. elections draw nearer. Both China and Russia have already been accused of planning to interfere in November’s presidential polling.
The Administration policy of intimidation and threats directed against foreign nations over their domestic and international policies has borne bitter fruit, but no one seems capable of halting the slide led by Secretary of State Pompeo and the president into an autocracy that depends on expressions and demonstrations of military power for its survival. Washington recently rejected global calls to suspend all sanctions and aggressive actions while the world struggles with coronavirus. It was the only country to do so, leading to derision from friend and foe alike and emphasizing the isolation of the Trump leadership on the world stage.
Recently the United States was threatening to intercept four Iranian flagged oil tankers that were making their way to Venezuela. The U.S., which has waged economic warfare against both countries by sanctioning oil exports and seriously degrading the standards of living of ordinary citizens, is now seeking to use military resources to enforce its completely illegal rules globally. If Trump wants to light a fire, attacking Iranian ships in international waters to enforce U.S. unilaterally imposed sanctions is a sure way to go about it. Starving Iranians and Venezuelans is in no one’s interest, not even the poohbahs who are in charge in Washington, but they seem to be oblivious to the fact that taking “action” has consequences.
The irony is, of course, that Donald Trump was elected president on a “peace candidate” margin of difference after he pledged that he would be ending “stupid” wars in Asia. Unfortunately, his assurances were little more than copies of the similar pledges made by his two predecessors, both of whom embraced business as usual for America the Exceptional early in their terms of office. Electing three faux peace candidates in a row also revealed that while you cannot fool all the people all the time you can fool most of them frequently enough to wind up in Washington.
And there is other cleverness afoot in an effort to make COVID-19 go away. Pompeo has just announced that the United States will unilaterally withdraw from the so-called Open Skies Treaty which was signed in 1992. Thirty-two signatories were, by its terms, allowed to conduct unarmed confidence building surveillance flights over each others’ territories to ensure that no one was planning a military offensive.
It is the third international security arrangement that Trump has discarded since he took office and the pretext, as in the previous cases, is that the other side is “cheating,” that Russia in particular has blocked overflights of strategic regions and military exercises while also using its flights to collect sensitive information on the United States to plan potential attacks.
America’s NATO allies, also signatories on the treaty, were not informed in advance regarding the White House’s intentions and are reported to be angry because they have found the Treaty a useful tool in maintaining mutually beneficial relations with Russia. Some Democrats and former intelligence official in the U.S. have declared the decision “insane”, both because it ignores the interests of America’s closest allies and because it further damages the prospect for establishing a reasonable modus vivendi with Moscow.
Previously Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) shortly after taking office in 2018 under pressure from his principal donor Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who is a persistent advocate for Israel. His wife Miriam has declared that there should be a new entry to the Hebrew Bible entitled the “Book of Trump.” Iran was in compliance with the agreement and it was beneficial for the United States as it would have denied Tehran the infrastructure needed to produce a nuclear weapon, but Adelson was in favor of attacking Iran, going so far as to recommend that nuclear weapons be used against it.
Trump also subsequently left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, using the same unsubstantiated argument being put forward by Administration hawks currently that Russia was not fully compliant with its terms.
This latest withdrawal suggests that there will be another departure if Trump is reelected. The New START Treaty, the only remaining nuclear-arms-control agreement between the United States and Russia, is set to expire in February 2021. New START was negotiated by the Obama administration, which would render it a prime target for rejection by Trump. It sets a cap on the number of nuclear missile warheads deployed by the United States and Russia, which is certainly to everyone’s benefit, but apparently the White House does not agree.
The trend is clear. Trump and his advisers, most notably Pompeo, are opposed to any international bodies on principle, most particularly if they are not completely supportive of U.S. policies and positions or are able to limit the White House’s freedom of action, up to an including the use of nuclear weapons. Recently Trump has cut off all funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) in spite of the globally significant coronavirus crisis. Last year, Trump cut off funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) refugee program to punish the Palestinians and express his support for the Israelis. Now, the president is clearly opposed to any attempts at arms control and is seeking to dismantle the existing international framework.
“Trump hasn’t started any new wars” say the more cogent of his supporters. That may be true, but he has attacked Syria twice based on phony intelligence and has committed a war crime by assassinating a senior Iranian government official. And he sure has worked hard to elevate constant insults and threats into a major component of U.S. foreign policy while also taking away the international instruments set up to minimize the risks of war. And it will only get worse over the next five months as the White House works desperately to shift the focus away from the fallout from the mishandled coronavirus and towards foreign enemies who will be blamed for everything going wrong in America.
A successor to the Trump administration will have to rebuild the credibility of the Department of Justice and the effectiveness of such regulatory agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Finance Protection Agency. It will have to rebuild the intelligence community, which has been heavily politicized, and the Department of State, which has been hallowed out. Now, you can add the field of arms control and disarmament to the list of reclamation projects because of the hostile and counterproductive acts of the Trump administration.
Every U.S. president since Dwight David Eisenhower has understood the importance of arms control and disarmament, which serves to highlight the ignorance and inexperience of Donald Trump and his key advisers regarding disarmament issues. Over the past two years, the Trump administration has scuttled the Iran nuclear accord, which brought a measure of predictability to the volatile Middle East, and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which destroyed more missiles that any treaty in history. Now, the Trump administration has walked away from the Open Skies Treaty, which was particularly important to the Baltic states and the East Europeans for monitoring Russian troop movements on their borders.
The treaty itself was first suggested by President Eisenhower in the 1950s as a way to improve the strategic dialogue between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was ultimately negotiated by President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Trump administration’s claim that the treaty permits surveys of civilian targets in the United States that pose “an unacceptable risk to our national security” is particularly ludicrous. Information on U.S. infrastructure is publicly available to anyone from Google Earth as well as commercial imagery.
The U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty is particularly important as it constitutes another gratuitous setback to the transatlantic security dialogue and as a signal that the United States has no interest in any disarmament dialogue with Russia, including the need for extending the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (New START), the last remaining arms control agreement with Russia. The New START limits the United States and Russia to 1,550 deployed nuclear missiles each, but the Obama administration had to bow to Republicans to accept a $1.7 trillion nuclear modernization program in order to support the treaty. And such neoconservatives as Senators Ted Cruz (R/TX) and Tom Cotton (R/AK) are supportive of the Trump administration’s commitment to long-term nuclear modernization that has no place for arms control measures.
For the past several years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has tried to engage the United States in an arms control dialogue to include a pledge to no-first-use of nuclear weapons; no militarization of outer space; and the creation of nuclear-free zones. The Trump administration has turned its back on all of the Russian initiatives, and the recent creation of a Space Force is one more deterrent to a conciliatory dialogue. Such a dialogue was the central key to improving relations between Washington and Moscow during the worst days of the Cold War.
Meanwhile, opeds in the New York Times and the Washington Post have defended the Trump administration’s latest salvo against arms control and disarmament, and even suggested that withdrawal from the Open Skies agreement is a “hopeful” sign for Russian-American relations. Writing in the Post on May 22, David Ignatius, who typically supports administration positions on defense policy, argues that Trump himself favors “more engagement” with Moscow and that the withdrawal from the international treaty is in fact a “tactical tilt toward Russia.” Ignatius bases that view on the expectation that Trump really wants to draw the Chinese into the disarmament dialogue and, furthermore, that Russia shares that goal. It is far more likely, in my estimation, that Beijing currently has no interest in being drawn into a three-way dialogue on arms control and that U.S. emphasis on including China in any new strategic arms treaty is in fact a “poison pill” to kill the current strategic arms agreement that expires this winter.
The Times oped, moreover, would have you believe that so-called Russian abuses of the Open Skies accord are actually undermining American security. Tim Morrison, a Russian hard-liner who formerly served on Trump’s National Security Council, argues that Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and its “invasion” of Syria justify scuttling an agreement that didn’t provide advance warning of such “military adventures.” He fails to mention that satellites designed to provide such intelligence are not affected by the Open Skies Treaty. Morrison fails to mention that the real value of the treaty was providing assurance to our European NATO allies regarding Russian troop movements on their borders. (Morrison also should have mentioned that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad invited the Soviet deployment, which hardly counts as an “invasion.”
President John F. Kennedy ignored the Pentagon’s opposition to the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, and even President Ronald Reagan ignored the opposition of Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger and Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle to complete the INF Treaty in 1987. There are no genuine arms control specialists in the Trump administration, which is staffed by loyalists and anti-Russian hardliners such as Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and the newly appointed arms negotiator Marshall Billingslea. Once upon a time, the United States had an Arms Control and Disarmament Agency that served as a lobby for disarmament, but President Bill Clinton bowed to right-wing pressure in 1997 and killed the independence of the agency by folding it into the Department of State. Thus, the rebuilding task for U.S. national security policy will be difficult and time-consuming.
Just like in 2016 when WikiLeaks revealed that the DNC was feeding Hillary Clinton debate questions, 2020 will be no different with the Democrats employing every dirty trick in the book to oust Donald Trump from office.
Following on the backs of Russiagate, Impeachment, and now mass-media hysteria over Coronavirus, which of course has dealt Trump a major blow with regards to his hopes for reelection in November, is there anyone still not convinced that the Democrat machine is prepared to do absolutely anything to win in November?
Liberals are painfully aware that if Trump wins another four years in office all of their pet projects – like open borders, senseless wars and warped cultural experiments – will be put on the back burner indefinitely. Desperate time call for desperate measures, like demanding mail-in ballots for the presidential election.
If ever there was a fool-proof way that Joe Biden could actually defeat Trump in November this is it. Michigan and Nevada, for example, two battleground states, have begun organizing mail-in voting amid the Covid-19 scare, and the Republicans smell a trap. They have reason to be wary.
Organizing mail-in voting lacks procedural oversight, which, incidentally, has proven incapable of guaranteeing the validity of electronic voting on the best of days. As such, mail-in voting in November would be an unmitigated disaster. Not only is it impossible to ensure a system of checks and balances, skepticism over such a primitive form of vote-tallying makes it inevitable that Republican voters would never accept the results from such a contest. The importance of a reliable form of voting is not just about fairness; it is paramount to preventing the outbreak of violence on the streets.
Would the Democrats resort to cheating their way into the White House? Recent history suggests they would. Russiagate, for example, which the Mueller Report proved to be a total sham, did a wonderful job of concealing a number of Democrat wrongdoings, including sidelining Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton, as well as feeding the latter the questions to a CNN town hall debate. It is hard to overestimate the media-generated wrath that would befall the Republicans had they been guilty of such shenanigans.
The Democrats are trying to Rig the 2020 Election, plain and simple! https://t.co/jlDhzGRnqa
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2020
To get an idea exactly how low the Democrats will go to win the White House in November, a recent article in The Nation summed it up nicely, albeit wickedly.
“I would vote for Joe Biden if he boiled babies and ate them,” opined one obvious Trump detester Katha Pollitt. It was a lame and lamentable choice of metaphor not least due to the Democrat’s ultra-liberal position on abortion. More to the point, however, the punch-line of Pollitt’s ‘joke’ is that many Democrats, many suffering the late stages of TDS, would be happy to commit any criminal act if it meant winning back the throne.
Last week, for example, a former Judge of Elections in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to vote-rigging on behalf of Democrat candidates in judiciary races in 2014, 2015, and 2016. The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced charges against Domenick DeMuro, 73, for stuffing the ballot box for Democratic candidates in exchange for cash payment by a political consultant.
This is not to say that there aren’t many Republicans who would gladly cheat in the elections if they believed they could get away with it. These sorts of individuals exist regardless of political affiliation. Yet presently it is primarily the Democratic states that are demanding mail-in voting as a means for “protecting the health of their citizens” amid the coronavirus outbreak. This makes one wonder if nationwide virus-related lockdowns will predominantly occur in major election years. But I digress.
The important takeaway here is that November elections, due to the extreme off-the-chart emotions they are generating, demand more, not less transparency. Mail-in ballots will fortify the notion that the entire process was rigged in favor of the Democrats. Thus, in the event that Joe Biden, should he remain the Democratic Party’s prime choice, emerge victorious in November, this result will not sit well with Trump supporters.
The same thing could be said in the event of a Trump victory, especially since the mainstream media is suggesting that Biden, and despite remaining holed up in his basement where he regularly delivers shot-to-the-foot utterances, is outpacing the presidential incumbent by a wide margin. Liberals were able to content themselves with a simple case of public wailing and teeth gnashing in the aftermath of Trump’s shock victory in 2016; it is doubtful they will be able to control themselves so well in 2020 under similar results.
Either way, the outcome of the 2020 presidential election promises to ignite a veritable powder keg of pent-up emotions on both sides. No need to enflame the situation with shady voting practices.
President Donald Trump’s May 6 veto of a Senate resolution that would have required him to seek congressional approval for any further military confrontations with Iran demonstrates that, despite his occasional feints toward scaling back foreign intervention, Trump is as much a warmonger as anyone else in Washington. Worse still, his explanation for his veto indicates that he believes presidents have unlimited authority to launch wars, contrary to clear constitutional language.
“The question of whether United States forces should be engaged in armed conflict against Iran should only be made following a full briefing to Congress and the American public of the issues at stake, a public debate in Congress, and a congressional vote as contemplated by the Constitution,” reads the resolution. It directs Trump to remove U.S. troops from any hostilities with Iran within 30 days and not to order any further attacks “unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or a specific authorization for use of military force.” It does, however, reserve to Trump the right to respond to an “imminent attack.”
In short, the measure simply restates the Constitution’s war requirements, to wit: (1) The United States may not engage in offensive military action absent a congressional declaration of war (the resolution actually weakens this a bit, allowing for a generic “authorization”), and (2) the president is in charge of prosecuting a war once Congress declares it.
But to Trump, who swore an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution,” it is “a very insulting resolution,” as he put it in a statement explaining his veto. As far as he is concerned, it was a purely political move “by Democrats as part of a strategy to win an election on November 3 by dividing the Republican Party.” Moreover, “The few Republicans who voted for it played right into their hands.”
That argument has more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese.
To begin with, the senator who introduced it, Virginia’s Tim Kaine, while a liberal Democrat, has consistently pushed for similar measures since joining the Senate in 2013, at which time the Democrat Barack Obama was president.
Next, the resolution wasn’t just dreamed up out of the blue. It was occasioned by Trump’s assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January, which precipitated retaliatory strikes on U.S. forces in Iraq. As the resolution explains, Congress wanted to assert its constitutional prerogative in order to ensure that American lives were not put unnecessarily at risk.
As to Republican votes helping Democrats, if voting to uphold the Constitution plays into the opposing party’s hands, so be it. Principle should always — if you’ll pardon the expression — trump politics.
In a statement following the veto, Kaine said, “Last year, in President Trump’s State of the Union remarks, he said: ‘Great nations do not fight endless wars.’ But instead of following through on his word, President Trump vetoed legislation that would help avoid unnecessary war in the Middle East.”
Apparently, Trump isn’t as keen on making America great again as his rhetoric suggests. In fact, the remainder of his veto statement indicates quite the opposite. He demands, and believes he already has, unrestrained authority to take military action whenever and wherever he pleases.
Trump claims that the resolution was “based on misunderstandings of facts and law.” The only allegedly incorrect fact he mentions is the existence of open hostilities between the United States and Iran, but that’s merely a reflection of the time when the measure was drafted. Besides, the two countries are still not exactly at peace with each other, thanks in part to the president.
Trump is the one who is clearly mistaken regarding the law. He insists, as he did in January, that the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was sufficient justification for killing Soleimani, but as the American Conservative’s Daniel Larison opined, “There is no honest reading of that resolution that supports this interpretation.” In addition, he claims that he derives his war-making power from Article II of the Constitution, yet that article specifically states that “the president shall be commander in chief of the [armed forces] when called into the actual service of the United States.” (Emphasis added.) And who gets to call them into service? According to Article I, Congress does, by declaring war.
Trump doubles down on this unsupportable assertion in his next paragraph:
The resolution implies that the President’s constitutional authority to use military force is limited to defense of the United States and its forces against imminent attack. That is incorrect. We live in a hostile world of evolving threats, and the Constitution recognizes that the President must be able to anticipate our adversaries’ next moves and take swift and decisive action in response. That’s what I did!
“The president talks about Congress’ assertion of its constitutional authority as if they were guilty of lèse-majesté,” observed Larison. “Americans have allowed presidents to wage illegal wars so often and for so long that it was probably just a matter of time before one of them took for granted that his war powers were effectively unlimited. A president who didn’t want to be able to start a war on his own would have no objection to the resolution passed by Congress.”
Of course, Congress doesn’t help matters any by letting presidents get away with such shenanigans. Only eight Republicans were willing to set partisanship aside to vote for the resolution, and the Senate was unable to muster the votes to override Trump’s veto. Occasionally Congress makes noises about withholding funding for certain military adventures, but little ever comes of it. No president has ever been impeached for engaging in unconstitutional wars.
“Many members of Congress, what they want to do is hide under their desk, let the president just do whatever the president wants, and then they think they can escape accountability for the consequences of war,” Kaine told CBS’ Face the Nation in January.
Kaine’s resolution, however, would not have changed the situation much even if Trump had signed it. It was, the New York Times noted, “mostly symbolic and not legally binding.” That an ultimately meaningless restatement of the fundamental law of the land should be so difficult to get on the books is a testament to how far the U.S. government has strayed from the Founders’ intentions.
Another one bites the dust. In less two years, President Donald Trump has now binned three major arms-control treaties – quite a record for undermining decades of international security architecture. First there was the nuclear accord with Iran (2018), then the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (2019), and now the Open Skies Treaty.
There is growing concern that the Trump administration will let the last-remaining arms-control treaty fall – the New START (2010) which limits strategic nuclear missiles held by the U.S. and Russia. If it goes, then the world is facing an arms race not seen since the Cold War. It will be open season for nukes.
Into the malign mix are the current heightened tensions between the U.S., NATO, Russia and China. Confrontation could spin out of control with catastrophic consequences for the planet. There is a grim sense that risk of nuclear conflagration is greater than at any time since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis more than half a century ago.
There is strong suspicion that the Trump administration is deliberately playing the mad man as a negotiating tactic. It’s an unconscionable and extremely dangerous gamble with world security, but this would seem to be Trump’s diabolical art of the deal.
What the U.S. president wants is to tie China into arms-control treaties along with Russia. China’s nuclear arsenal is a mere fraction of either the U.S.’s or Russia’s – reckoned at one-twentieth of their combined stockpile. Beijing has stated over and over that it will not enter into arms limitations with the U.S. or Russia until the two nuclear superpowers first make drastic reductions in their number of warheads. That seems reasonable. The onus is on Washington and Moscow to first demonstrate progress on disarmament, as they are obliged to do under the 1970-founded Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Trump has repeatedly indicated possible extension of the New START with Russia, but only if China is brought into a trilateral deal. He therefore seems to be using the threat of an arms race as a way to lever Russia and China into a trilateral accord. But New START is a bilateral treaty between Washington and Moscow. By pushing the trilateral idea to include China, Trump is trying to rewrite the deal with Russia out of Washington’s desire to control Beijing.
Trump is affecting to show that he is prepared to throw away America’s signature – and jeopardize global security – in order to force China to the negotiating table on Washington’s terms.
When the Trump administration walked away from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty last year, it accused Russia of breaching that accord. Moscow denied those claims as unfounded. It later emerged that the real reason for Washington rescinding the 1987 treaty was its desire to deploy short and medium-range missiles against China in its rivalry over Asia-Pacific.
In ditching the INF, the Trump administration is destabilizing European security and putting pressure on Moscow over potential threats from the return of U.S. short and medium-range missiles to European territory.
The ratcheting up of insecurity and the specter of an arms race is Trump’s calculated tactic for bringing China into arms limitations along with Russia. The scrapping of the INF and the threatened abandonment of the New START are all part of the same negotiating ploy. This is not just serial loosening of arms controls for its own sake, but rather as a way to lever both Russia and China. Perhaps, the Trump administration is calculating that it can unnerve Moscow so that the latter will in turn put pressure on Beijing to accept Trump’s “grand bargain”.
The announcement on quitting the Open Skies Treaty (OST) appears to fit into this game plan. The treaty was signed in 1992 and became effective in 2002 with some 35 member nations as signatories, most of them European states. The treaty allows for reconnaissance flights over territories to build trust.
Like the INF treaty, the Trump administration is using alleged violations of the OST by Russia as a pretext to jettison another arms-control accord. Again, the real objective is to create insecurity and latent threats in order to apply pressure on Moscow for concessions. The ultimate prize for the Trump administration and Washington state planners is to maneuver China into trilateral arms control.
When Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal of the Open Skies Treaty, it was done with noticeable ambiguity.
“Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty. So until they adhere, we will pull out, but there’s a very good chance we’ll make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together,” said Trump said at a press briefing last week.
His Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also dropped hints at deal-making with Russia while declaring an end to U.S. participation in the OST.
It seems more than coincidence that in the same week, Trump’s envoy on arms control, Marshall Billingslea, made a pointed offer to Moscow of extending the New START – but only if China were brought into a trilateral nuclear limitation treaty.
“We intend to establish a new arms-control regime now precisely to prevent a full-blown arms race. It’s for all of these reasons that President Trump has expressed his strong desire to see China included in future nuclear arms-control agreements,” Billingslea is quoted as saying during a virtual conference at the Hudson Institute. “A three-way arms-control agreement will provide the best way to avoid an unpredictable three-way arms race.”
It might be asked: what is wrong with seeking a trilateral accord on nuclear weapons involving the U.S., Russia and China? Surely, a grand bargain like that might be deemed as making progress towards general nuclear disarmament.
But such rationale is putting the horse before the cart. The U.S. and Russia must first significantly reduce their arsenals as they are obligated to do. Moreover, arms controls and disarmament is all about trust and integrity. Washington is destroying trust and integrity by deliberately creating insecurity in order to achieve its geopolitical objective of controlling China. How can Trump build trust and do a genuine deal when he is doing all he can to kill any trust in a genuine commitment to obtaining international security and peace?
Is it the Chinese who were at ground zero when the Covid-19 pandemic started? Or is it America’s inability to show leadership in handling the crisis now?
The Democrat Party’s GOTV (Get Out the Vote) program relies on labor unions and the NGO sector. Those who organized these directly as this writer has, or those who have been on the receiving end of it, will understand how this zeal, backed by the force of law under the auspices of Contact Tracers/Compliance Officers, will change the electoral outcome.
Contact Tracers are Compliance Officers Backed by Police and Operating under Governor’s Orders
Contact Tracers are based on public sector workers in the area of public health, or NGO’s that rely on funding from DNC backed philanthropy and state budgets. They all rely on their relationship to the DNC to exist.
Among the first NGO’s to receive grants to carry out Contact Tracing work is PIH – Partners In Health. This group, funded by the Clinton Foundation, worked in Rwanda and Haiti and may have been involved in unspeakable crimes. Chelsea Clinton sits on the governing board, and other prominent backers and allies include Rahm Emanuel, Epstein, and Gates.
An investigative report by Raul Diego for Mint Press gives a comprehensive outline of just how Contact Tracers as a type of Compliance Officers from PIH, will work. From his journalism, we see components of the program and how they are meant to dovetail as part of the coming 2020 electoral strategy.
Clinton tweeted in mid-May, urging other governors in the country to follow California governor Newsom’s order for mail-in ballots.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 8, 2020
Contact tracers as part of the NGO Industrial Complex, as a private-charter variation of the public sector, only less accountable, will become a new layer of society invested in preserving their work by voting to maintain their budget.
Because Contact Tracers can enter the homes and because some voting polls may also be closed, we can see where Contact Tracers will ‘assist’ voters in their homes with their mail-in ballots. We can predict that in Democrat voting households there will be a disproportionate increase in ballots that actually wind up being counted.
While there has been focus on HR 6666 that adds financing for Contact Tracers, there are ways these can be financed (as they already are) anyway. The ‘bailouts’ at the end of March included massive provisions for the NGO sector dealing in areas of civil society ranging from immigration to public education and healthcare.
These were the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
At-home methods of electronic voting and mail-in that do away with exit-poll cross-checks, is the preferred general strategy the Democrat Party will use to steal the election.
Polls showing Biden ahead should be discounted prima facie, as these are the polls before that intentionally projected Hillary Clinton despite unpublished polls used by the campaigns to the contrary. Both campaigns had a clear understanding that Trump had a very strong chance of winning on that decisive night. This is why ‘insurance policies’ were openly discussed by team Clinton as the election approached.
The fake polls will be used to show that Biden had a strong chance of winning all along. That’s pertinent to the strategy to oust Trump by way of coup tactics.
The strategy to remove Trump is designed to work as follows:
Suppress voter turnout by Party identification. To limit voter turn-out by precinct based on party affiliation, and to increase voter turnout in other areas. The inclusion of Contact Tracers and the ‘Compliance Officer-like’ powers they will be granted in short-time for the election, will be among the game-changers.
Cancelling In-Person voting. Towards 1., for Contact Tracers to ‘quarantine’ likely Trump voters not as individual households but by ‘infected precinct’. The presence of the Covid-19 ‘disease’ in a precinct, will be determined by Contact Tracers’ data (from both apps and human agents). The governor will be able to declare that elections should be online, by mail, or using greatly limited polls. These Contact Tracers will be able to use ‘voluntary’ apps to narrow down alleged infection rates by block, neighborhood, precinct/county. That these apps aren’t ‘voluntary’ however is explained in this report.
Contact Tracers to Police In-Person Polls. To have Contact Tracers work as Compliance Officers under the governor’s instructions at polls, which will slow-down voting and suppress the vote, close polls early or limit exit polling in line with social distancing norms. As was done in the Democrat primaries, counter-intuitive decisions were made to close down polls to ‘limit exposure’. This had the effect of forcing would-be voters to travel greater distances, if they were still motivated, only to find long-lines. Some of these polls closed before those in line were able to vote. Those who maintained their right to vote, because they had been in line on time, were either told that due to the pandemic they did not have that right, or given provisional ballots – which are counted mostly just in the instance of a re-count.
Contact Tracers blur line between work and campaign visits. To have Contact Tracers work as GOTV ‘volunteers’ on off-hours and weekends, both on telephone and in person in door-knock efforts for the Biden campaign. Critical here is that in areas where movement is limited, Contact Tracers as essential workers will not have to abide by such limitations. Or, in their capacity as Contract Tracers, they will also leave election literature at locations they visit. This may seem illegal, but this is what NGO and union employees do regularly. This strategy simply increases the size of the army and having the advantage of the freedom of movement in what will prove to be a highly unusual election.
To give Republican households a health and safety visit on Election Day. To have Contact Tracers focus on Republican homes, and bog the family down on election day with a health and safety check which could also involve the terrifying visit by CPS and the possibility of a mandatory Covid-19 test and possibly children being removed from an infectious environment.
Weaponize the second wave of Coronavirus. To make sure that overall there is a ‘second wave’ of Coronavirus that is treated similarly as the ‘first wave’ which we have only now begun to emerge from. A Digital Trends article from April 11th depicts a Bill Gates ‘super-worried’ about a second wave of coronavirus’.
Governors declare State of Emergency. This can be done in such a way that, using Contact Tracers’ data, can decide which targeted parts of a state – by county – to shut down. Expect that universities, and colleges will be shut down. Bernie Sanders and the Squad will use their popularity among college students to promote an alternate reality. We will have many youth mobilized to work both in social media and as campaign workers. From this fertile soil of youth, we will find many new Contact Tracer job openings created as we approach November. This May 11th article shows that universities have already started offering Contact Tracing courses.
We can therefore expect the strategy to take shape by state this way – by comparing the A). Electoral College map of 2016 to the B). breakdown of Dem and Rep governors by state in 2020. Recall the outcome of the 2016 Electoral College:
The Center for Politics affirms the following points to consider:
“Following the 2019 elections, Republicans retain a narrow 26-24 edge in governorships.”
We should be looking at the governorships by state because of the authority they have in establishing the rules when there is a state of emergency.
The governors declare states of emergency. In addition, they claim other powers as well which have not been challenged yet in federal courts.
The precedent for cancelling primary elections or changing how general elections will be done ( e-voting from home or mail-in) – was already seen for New York and California respectively.
Those who may be thinking that states are opening up and that this is not a subject in play come November, have not understood the meaning of Dr. Fauci and Bill Gates that the coronavirus will return again this coming Fall.
As we have mentioned, the tracing apps that will make voter suppression through Contact Tracers using the coronavirus pretext more easy to pull-off are nominally voluntary, but does that mean citizens will really have a choice?
Voluntary Tracing May Not be Voluntary
People generally interact not with government who indeed may not ‘mandate’ the use of such an app, but rather revolve in dealings with private businesses.
What is voluntary for you will also voluntary for businesses to mandate for customers and employees to enter the premises. Most employees are at-will, and businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone.
This is already in effect the Jacinda Ardern dictatorship of New Zealand. NZ is proving to be an effective test ground which most closely mirrors the Wuhan protocols of covid-19 containment through Contact Tracing and movement suppression, except that unlike China, this is never-ending.
Unless there is tremendous pushback from Trump and his activist base, we should assume moving forward that by November 2020 when most U.S. citizens will have a Contact Tracing app on their smart phone, the election will be stolen. There are 251 million smart phone owners in the U.S.
What’s also voluntary? That your smart phone comes with an OS, and the OS makers (Android, iOS) can voluntarily place a contact tracer in the next update.
The Philosophical Problem
Whether one wants one side to win or the other isn’t as much a question of who behaves most fairly, but on what outcomes we wish to see. For those who want to see a Bourbonesque ‘restorationist’ move to Clinton-Bush-Obama-era ‘norms’, they will go for Biden. For those who see in Trump a type of Napoleonic ‘revolutionist’ against the Ancien Regime who contained and corralled the Jacobinist forces of Occupy into a new type of system, their option is clear.
We must End Quarantine, not create ‘Jobs’ in ‘Contact Tracing’
The grass-roots Republican efforts, tacitly endorsed by the Trump campaign, to mobilize against the quarantine, are a step in the right direction. In Michigan we saw an armed ‘militia’/open-carry grouping backed by over four thousand citizens who converged on the state capitol. In Wisconsin it resulted in mass protests and such pressure that the Supreme Court in that state was forced to reign in the caprice of an autocrat governor. In California we saw a mass mobilization of thousands demanding access to the beach, and more.
These moves for citizens to push against quarantine are popular and also radical. It is odd that the progressive left, some thinking themselves ‘revolutionaries’, only defer to the institutional power of the billionaire class like Bill Gates, and institutions like the WHO and the CDC. They ignore the tools available within their own Marxian analysis, that regulatory capture by big pharma, and sinister elites with misanthropist capital-accumulating platforms, should render these institutions illegitimate.
So here we find the amazing part – that those who wanted to restore the greatness of America are the revolutionists, and those who utilize the naiveté and rage of the revolutionary left are restorationists.
This coming election will be the most unusual in American history, and if the above outlined problems are not addressed, could result in a chain of extra-legal, extra-parliamentary grass-roots violence.
Reach the author at FindMeFlores@gmail.com
Here is a quotation that might sound familiar: “I’m the commander, I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.” It is understandable when people say they think these words were spoken by Donald Trump, but in fact they were said by George W. Bush and published in the Washington Post in November 2002, a year after Bush invaded Afghanistan and four months before he took his country to war against Iraq.
Bush was the worst U.S. president in memory until the advent of Trump, and they have a great deal in common, including bigotry, egotism, spitefulness and stupidity.
The pandemic has provided a vehicle for Trump and the obsessively aggressive military-industrial complex in Washington to confront China. It all adds to profits, with the bonus of steering public attention away from Trump’s pathetic mismanagement of the country’s reaction to the shattering effects of the Covid-19 virus. As The Hill noted on May 22, “Trump and members of his administration including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly attacked China, accusing it of hiding early information about the coronavirus. Tensions have flared further as U.S. states and hospitals continue to seek personal protective equipment from China and the global race for a coronavirus vaccine raises the prospects that some countries will be left behind.” But the U.S. will not leave some countries behind in its increasing challenges to China which recently included Pompeo hyping tension by fulsomely congratulating Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on her inauguration on May 20.
The status of Taiwan is a sensitive international matter because when the corrupt Kuomintang party lost the Chinese civil war in 1949 it fled to the island and set up a rival government whose legitimacy is not recognised by China. The United States has supported Taiwan against China since the 1950s, following the war in Korea, and in this era of reinvigorated Cold War against China and Russia, the intensity of support has gathered pace.
The energetic proclamations of pro-Taiwan sentiments by Washington accomplish nothing positive. They are intended to exacerbate tension, and this was achieved by Pompeo declaring that the Taiwanese president’s “courage and vision in leading Taiwan’s vibrant democracy is an inspiration to the region and the world.” His words were read out with much flourish at President Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration ceremony, and China’s reaction was highly critical, as Trump, Pompeo and the rest of them knew and intended it would be. The aim of the statement was purely to upset and annoy China, and this mission was accomplished by increasing tension and distrust.
Adding to the provocation, the Pentagon announced on inauguration day that it had approved a $180 million sale of heavyweight naval torpedoes to Taiwan in order to serve “U.S. national, economic, and security interests.” Provision of these weapons “will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.” No it won’t: it will further ramp-up tension, add to instability, and contribute nothing to economic progress, except in the U.S. military-industrial complex.
Washington’s policies don’t only involve aggravation of China. At this time of global crisis, when the U.S. should be demonstrating politically impartial leadership to the world, the Trump administration has chosen to insult allies such as Europe, saying, for example, in justification for deliberately failing to notify European Union leaders before he announced U.S.-Europe travel restrictions, that “When they raise taxes on us, they don’t consult us. I think that’s probably one in the same.” Of course it’s not, but that doesn’t matter to the man who
was reported as proclaiming “when somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be.” Just like his predecessor Bush in 2002.
And this total authority allows him to ignore the pandemic and to repeal or otherwise nullify international treaties, which action adds nothing to world security.
On May 21 the U.S. announced its intention “to withdraw from the 35-nation Open Skies treaty allowing unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, the latest move by the administration of President Donald Trump to pull the country out of a major global treaty.”
There is no doubt that Open Skies makes a contribution to international trust, and this is presumably what Washington abhors. The Arms Control Association (ACA) records that “The treaty entered into force on January 1, 2002, and currently 34 states are party to the treaty . . . All of a state-party’s territory can be overflown. No territory can be declared off-limits by the host nation.”
The ACA notes that “satellites can provide the same, and even more detailed information” as reconnaissance aircraft, but points out that “not all of the 34 treaty states-parties have such capabilities. The treaty is also aimed at building confidence and familiarity among states-parties through their participation in the overflights.” Forget “confidence and familiarity”, because these words are anathema to Pompeo and Trump whose international watchwords are distrust and dissociation.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko was forthright in commenting that “Our position is absolutely clear and is invariable: The withdrawal of the U.S. from this treaty will come as yet another blow to the system of military security in Europe, which is already weakened by the previous moves by the administration.” In objecting to Trump’s unilateral decision to quit the treaty, Russia was joined by many other countries, and the governments of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden said the pact “is a crucial element of the confidence-building framework that was created over the past decades in order to improve transparency and security across the Euro-Atlantic area. We will continue to implement the Open Skies Treaty, which has a clear added value for our conventional arms control architecture and cooperative security. We reaffirm that this treaty remains functioning and useful.”
At a time when the Washington Administration should be cooperating to the fullest with all other nations in order to reduce and overcome the pandemic which is exacting such a human toll around the world it chooses to confront two most important countries by taking action that is flagrantly provocative and not intended to contribute in the slightest to solving the world’s most dangerous problem. The pretentious panjandrum in the White House is full of self-importance and convinced that he doesn’t have to justify any of his actions. He is revving up tension around the world, energetically aided by the venomous Pompeo and the profit-hungry military-industrial complex. The future is dark, and not just because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Amidst the global chaos and confusion unleashed by COVID-19, the need for a new global security and financial architecture is becoming clearer every day. Banks tremble upon the precipice of the greatest financial meltdown in history while radical forces of the Anglo-American elite knowing only how to think in terms of “balance of power” geopolitics gear up for war with Russia and China.
The scale of chaos and death threatening humanity via the two-fold crises of economic collapse and war is beyond intolerable for anyone endowed with a brain and even a partially functioning conscience.
Since this crisis is caused in so many ways by geopolitical doctrines which presume that mankind is merely a selfish animal fighting over diminishing returns within closed systems, no solution can be found which is tainted with those very poisons killing the patient. It is for this very reason that all policy concepts which fall outside the box of “balance of power” thinking are so vitally important at this moment of history.
Sadly, since very few people who follow geopolitics with passion pay much attention to the importance of space diplomacy as a domain of “open system” cooperation for humanity, many of the exciting developments centering around the Artemis project have largely fallen “over the radar” so to speak.
The Artemis Accords in Brief
To be brief: On May 15, NASA released a new framework of 10 principles of diplomacy, resource development and safety designed to guide international cooperation in space exploration and development over the coming decades. Dubbed the Artemis Accords, this new protocol puts meat onto the bones of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty signed by 109 UN members but which has never evolved beyond the vaguest of generalities.
Upon announcing the accords, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stated optimistically:
“It’s a new dawn for space exploration! Today I’m honored to announce the Artemis Accords Agreements- establishing a shared vision and set of principles for all international partners that join in humanity’s return to the moon. We go, together!”
The pre-amble of the Artemis Accords, which is part of the broader Artemis Program signed into law by President Trump in 2017 stated the following:
“While NASA is leading the Artemis program, international partnerships will play a key role in achieving a sustainable and robust presence on the Moon while preparing to conduct a historic mission to Mars.”
The 10 accords deal with: 1) the primacy of peaceful purposes, 2) transparency, 3) interoperability of technologies, 4) emergency assistance between nations, 5) registration of space objects, 6) release and sharing of scientific data among nations, 7) protecting heritage sites such as the Apollo 11 site, 8) the development of space resources within the lunar regolith, 9) De-confliction of activities, and 10) orbital debris and space craft disposal.
These accords follow off of the earlier April 6, 2020 Executive Order signed by President Trump calling for an accelerated push towards lunar, mars and asteroid resource development. Three days after the Executive Order, the first of three phone calls were held between Presidents Trump and Putin which included lengthy discussion on space cooperation.
12 days after the last of the three calls, both presidents published a Joint Declaration on the 75th Anniversary of the Meeting on the Elbe on April 25 which is not unconnected to the developments on space diplomacy outlined here.
Thus far, the important and uncharacteristic nature of America’s Artemis Accords is its focus on openness to international participation, and open system economics.
Outer space, being intrinsically open and composed almost entirely of undiscovered processes is thus open to creative thought and unbounded potential for growth and discoveries. Imperialists who chose to put humanity’s causal nexus on such material conditions as genes or geography (rather than ideas and intentions), obviously hate this sort of thinking.
A Fresh Chance at Russia-U.S. Collaboration
While the western mainstream media has promoted the narrative that this policy has nothing to do with Russian cooperation, the reality is the opposite. One day after the May 15 accord, Russia Business Today published an article titled ‘Roscosmos Ready for Negotiations with NASA on Moon Exploration Projects’. In this article, Sergei Savalyev (deputy director general for Roscosmos on International Cooperation) stated:
“Ambitious projects connected to Moon colonization could become a serious factor for the interaction of the two countries in difficult times”.
Referring to the disturbing spread of misinformation promoting American “unwillingness to cooperate” with Russia, NASA’s spokesman Michael Gold stated:
“I think it’s unfortunate that there were a lot of media leaks that did not properly describe what the Artemis Accords were, so I’m surprised for some of those reactions… As we look at the Russian cooperation on Artemis, I expect a great deal of it. It may center around the gateway.”
In opposition to mainstream media narratives, Russia has not only has been asked to join the accords but has already begun cooperation on the Artemis program through its participation in the Lunar Gateway Project which will see Japan, Europe, the USA and Russia co-create the world’s first lunar orbiting space station. Before this, Roscosmos and NASA had already signed a joint statement to collaborate on deep space exploration on September 27, 2017 stating:
“This joint statement reflects the common vision for human exploration that NASA and Roscosmos share. Both agencies, as well as other International Space Station partners, see the gateway as a strategic component of human space exploration architecture that warrants additional study. NASA has already engaged industry partners in gateway concept studies. Roscosmos and other space station partner agencies are preparing to do the same.”
On a practical level, Russia supplies America with RD-180 and RD-181 rocket engines for American launch vehicles and plays a cooperative role with America not only on the International Space Station (ISS) but also getting American astronauts to the ISS since Obama killed the manned shuttle program in 2011.
Flanking the War Hawks and Playing the China Card
Several weeks before the July 2011 death of America’s manned shuttle program, Congress had passed the Wolf Act outlawing all American-China collaboration on space science and technology under the narrative that “China’s cyber-espionage was a threat to American democracy”.
This anti-China ban had the opposite effect than that anticipated by the geopolitical warmongers, as China was suddenly forced to rely on their own creative powers and leapt ahead of the space race landing the first robot on the moon in 40 years in 2013, followed by their historic landing on the far side of the moon with the January 3, 2019 Jade Rabbit and will soon have its own space station by 2021 named the “Harmony of the Heavens”. All three nations (Russia, China and the USA) have made space exploration, lunar development, asteroid defense and Mars colonization high priorities.
With Russia having signed a joint lunar cooperation treaty with China’s space agency in September 2019, Russia’s joining the Artemis Program (and hopeful signing of the Accords) puts all three nations into a very interesting conjunction of skills, and common interests which pose the greatest prospects for the long-term survival of the human species.
With this spirit of cooperation needed to avoid a new world war, I would like to end with a parting word from Presidents Trump and Putin’s joint Declaration of April 25:
“The ‘Spirit of the Elbe’ is an example of how our countries can put aside differences, build trust, and cooperate in pursuit of a greater cause. As we work today to confront the most important challenges of the 21st century, we pay tribute to the valor and courage of all those who fought together to defeat fascism. Their heroic feat will never be forgotten.”
The author can be reached at email@example.com
What do you call a crisis that kills a hundred thousand Americans? It all depends on who does the dying.
At first, it seemed like it was mostly white people infected and/or killed by the coronavirus.
As the scale of the coronavirus pandemic dawned on Americans during the month of March, most of the media attention was given to white people like Tom Hanks, while the danger of coronavirus to black people went largely underreported by American media. It was around this time when both the media and the White House decreed it a national emergency.
The early cases that made the news and caught everybody’s attention were mainly wealthy white people who’d traveled to the West Coast from Asia and the East Coast from Europe.
Trump’s official national emergency declaration came on March 11, and most of the country shut down or at least went partway toward that outcome. The economy crashed and millions of Americans were laid off, but saving lives was, after all, the number one consideration.
Trump put medical doctors on TV daily, the media was freaking out about refrigerated trucks carrying bodies away from New York hospitals, and doctors and nurses were our new national heroes.
And then came April 7, 2020.
I remember that week vividly; it was as if a light switch had been flipped, and I commented on it on the air at the time (and many times since).
April 7 was the day that America learned that the majority of the people who were dying from COVID-19 were either elderly, black or Hispanic. Not so many white guys, after all.
Exactly one month earlier, on March 7, Trump had played golf at his club in West Palm Beach, met with Brazilian strongman Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago, and visited the CDC headquarters in Atlanta. Over the previous week, U.S. deaths had risen from single digits to more than 20.
During the following month, all hell broke loose in the United States and around the world. Italy and Spain were melting down, as was the U.S. economy; cases were exploding in New York. The nation was united in the hope that the disease could be stopped dead in its tracks.
Then came April 7, when the New York Times ran a front-page story with the headline: “Black Americans Face Alarming Rates of Coronavirus Infection in Some States.” Across the American media landscape, similar headlines appeared at other outlets, and the story was heavily reported on cable news and the network news that night.
American conservatives responded with a collective, “What the hell?!?”
Rush Limbaugh declared soon after that “with the coronavirus, I have been waiting for the racial component.” And here it was. “The coronavirus now hits African Americans harder—harder than illegal aliens, harder than women. It hits African Americans harder than anybody, disproportionate representation.”
Claiming that he knew this was coming as if he were some sort of a medical savant, Limbaugh said, “But now these—here’s Fauxcahontas, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris demanding the federal government release daily race and ethnicity data on coronavirus testing, patients, and their health outcomes. So they want a database to prove we are not caring enough about African Americans…”
It didn’t take a medical savant, of course. African Americans die disproportionately from everything, from heart disease to strokes to cancer to childbirth. It’s a symptom of a racially rigged economy and a health care system that only responds to money, which America has conspired to keep from African Americans for more than 400 years. Of course they’re going to die more frequently from coronavirus.
But the New York Times and the Washington Post simultaneously publishing front-page articles about that disparity with regard to COVID-19, both on April 7, echoed across the right-wing media landscape like a Fourth of July fireworks display.
Tucker Carlson, the only primetime Fox News host who’d previously expressed serious concerns about the death toll, changed his tune the same day, as documented by Media Matters for America.
Now, he said, “we can begin to consider how to improve the lives of the rest, the countless Americans who have been grievously hurt by this, by our response to this. How do we get 17 million of our most vulnerable citizens back to work? That’s our task.”
White people were out of work, and black people were most of the casualties, outside of the extremely elderly. And those white people need their jobs back!
Brit Hume joined Carlson’s show and, using his gravitas as a “real news guy,” intoned, “The disease turned out not to be quite as dangerous as we thought.”
Left unsaid was the issue of whom it was not “quite as dangerous” to, but Limbaugh listeners and Fox viewers are anything but unsophisticated when it comes to hearing dog-whistles on behalf of white supremacy.
More than 12,000 Americans had died from coronavirus by April 7, but once we knew that most of the non-elderly victims were black, things were suddenly very, very different. Now it was time to quit talking about people dying and start talking about white people getting back to work!
It took less than a week for Trump to get the memo, presumably through Fox and Stephen Miller. On April 12, he retweeted a call to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci and declared, in another tweet, that he had the sole authority to open the United States back up, and that he’d be announcing a specific plan to do just that “shortly.”
On April 13, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce published a policy paper titled “Implementing a National Return to Work Plan.”
Unspoken but big on the agenda of corporate America was the desire to get the states to rescind their stay-home-from-work orders so that companies could cut their unemployment tax losses.
When people file unemployment claims, those claims are ultimately paid for by the companies themselves, and with a high number of claims, a company will see a substantial future increase in their unemployment insurance premiums/taxes. If the “stay home” orders were repealed, workers could no longer, in most states, file for or keep receiving unemployment compensation.
On April 14, Freedomworks, the billionaire-founded and -funded group that animated the Tea Party against Obamacare a decade earlier, published an op-ed on their website calling for an “economic recovery” program including an end to the capital gains tax and a new law to “shield” businesses from lawsuits.
Three days after that, Freedomworks and the House Freedom Caucus issued a joint statement declaring that “it’s time to re-open the economy.”
Freedomworks published their “#ReopenAmerica Rally Planning Guide” encouraging conservatives to show up “[i]n-person” at their state capitols and governors’ mansions, and, for signage, to “Keep it short: ‘I’m essential,’ ‘Let me work,’ ‘Let Me Feed My Family’” and to “Keep them homemade.”
One of the first #OpenTheCountry rallies to get widespread national attention was April 18 in New Hampshire. Over the next several weeks, rallies had metastasized across the nation, from Oregon to Arizona, Delaware, North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois and elsewhere.
One that drew particularly high levels of media attention, complete with swastikas, Confederate flags and assault rifles, was directed against the governor of Michigan, rising Democratic star Gretchen Whitmer.
When Rachel Maddow began reporting on meatpacking plants that had become epicenters of mass infection, the conservative Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court pointed out that the virus flare wasn’t coming from the “regular folks” of the surrounding community. Although the majority of the meat plant workers were Hispanic and the majority of the surrounding communities were white, her defenders suggested it was just a slip of the tongue.
Nonetheless, the conservative meme was now well established.
About a third of the people the virus killed were old folks in nursing homes. Which, right-wing commentators said, could be a good thing for the economy because they’re just “useless eaters” who are spending our Medicaid and Social Security money and are on death’s door anyway.
For example, Texas’s Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick told Fox News, “Let’s get back to living… And those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves.”
A conservative town commissioner in Antioch, California, noted that losing “many elderly [people]… would reduce burdens in our defunct Social Security System” and “free up housing.” He added, “We would lose a large portion of the people with immune and other health complications. I know it would be loved ones as well. But that would once again reduce our impact on medical, jobs, and housing.”
It came to Trump’s attention that the biggest outbreaks were happening in prisons and meatpacking plants, places with few white people (and the few whites in them were largely poor and thus seen as disposable). Trump’s response to this was to issue an executive order using the Defense Production Act (which he had hesitated to use to order the production of testing or PPE equipment) on April 28 to order the largely Hispanic and black workforce back into the slaughterhouses and meat processing plants.
African Americans were dying in our cities, Hispanics were dying in meatpacking plants, the elderly were dying in nursing homes.
But the death toll among white people, particularly affluent white people who were less likely to be obese, have hypertension or struggle with diabetes, was relatively low. And those who came through the infection were presumed to be immune to subsequent bouts, so we could issue them “COVID Passports” and give them hiring priority.
The only thing Republicans had overlooked in their master plan to help out the master race was the very real consequence of Reaganomics across the states of the former Confederacy.
Southern states had fought against any sort of state- or federally-funded health care plans since Reconstruction, claiming libertarian ideology while, in fact, their animus was directed at people of color.
Caught in those crosshairs, however, just as had been the case prior to the Civil War, were poor whites.
Many of the same political and economic factors that put African Americans at risk for the past two centuries were also used against poor whites.
In the 1930s when Huey Long was Louisiana’s senator and governor, he explicitly reached out to impoverished white people.
As the Encyclopedia Britannica notes, “Always the champion of poor whites, he effected a free-textbook law, launched a massive and very useful program of road and bridge building, expanded state university facilities, and erected a state hospital where free treatment for all was intended. He was opposed to excessive privileges for the rich, and he financed his improvements with increased inheritance and income taxes as well as a severance tax on oil…”
Long’s “every man a king” stump speech was particularly intolerable to Louisiana’s wealthy oligarchs, opening as it did with the line, “Is that a right of life, when the young children of this country are being reared into a sphere which is more owned by 12 men than it is by 120 million people?”
In 1935 Long was assassinated, and it wasn’t until 1965 that President Lyndon Johnson would try to get any aid to poor Southern whites with Medicaid and food stamps; that, too, was offensive to the conservative white political structure in the South.
As a result, poor whites in the South are likely to suffer from the diseases and lack of access to health care that make African Americans throughout the country so vulnerable to COVID-19.
And, over the past 40 years, Reaganism has encouraged the spread of deep white poverty from red state to red state. White obesity, diabetes and hypertension are, therefore, overrepresented in poor rural areas as far away as Nebraska and Iowa.
Today, Trump, Fox and his followers think COVID-19 just kills the elderly, blacks and Hispanics—and they seem comfortable with the needless deaths of people they think are different from themselves.
As it spreads into rural white America, however, they’re about to learn otherwise.
Economy for All via counterpunch.org
In April 2015, the Obama Administration removed Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism – a move in line with the diplomacy pursued following the release of the Cuban Five anti-terror agents from U.S. jails in 2014.
Five years later under U.S. President Donald Trump, Cuba is back on the U.S. terror sponsor list, joining Iran, North Korea, Syria and Sudan. The U.S. State Department notes, “Cuban’s refusal to productively engage with the Colombian government demonstrates that is not cooperating with U.S. work to support Colombia’s efforts to secure a just and lasting peace, security and opportunity for its people.”
In other words, Cuba’s diplomatic efforts in the region are clashing with the U.S. plan to maintain its terror ties with the Colombian government – described in 2002 by the former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell as meeting “Washington’s human rights standards.” Powell’s statement preceded a surge of right-wing paramilitary violence against civilians, including killings and forced disappearances. The Colombian army was also involved in false positive killings of civilians – a directive which sought to terrorise the population by increasing the statistics of people killed by government forces. The extrajudicial killings were mostly reported as “enemy combatants killed in action”. Between 2002 and 2010, Colombia’s armed forces executed 10,000 civilians out of a total of 16,724 people which the government claimed were mostly guerrillas.
Given that Colombia meets U.S. standards for state terror, it is no surprise that Cuba, which promotes internationalism and solidarity, is once again a prime target for U.S. imperialism.
Last month, the Cuban embassy in the U.S. was subjected to an armed attack. Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel denounced the terror attack and demanded a thorough investigation from the U.S. government. Bruno Rodriguez, Cuba’s Foreign Minister, has equated the U.S. response with the hostile diplomacy suffered in the past. “From the U.S. government we have only received silence, a silence that we know well, one that has accompanied violence against Cuba by groups based in U.S. territory for years.”
It was due to the U.S. collusion with anti-revolutionary Cuban dissidents in Miami that the Cuban Five were tasked with protecting the nation from terror attacks and sabotage. CIA operatives worked with known terrorists such as Luis Posada Carilles and Orlando Bosch, both of whom were involved in terror attacks against Cuba, notably the bombing of Cubana Airlines in October 1976.
Cuba, meanwhile, has pursued its revolutionary goals which run contrary to the U.S. aims for the country and the region. It has maintained its principles – outlined by Fidel – to never instigate any attack against any country in the world. Cuba has repeatedly asserted the principles of internationalist solidarity and remains steadfastly opposed to any form of intervention against any nation.
The same cannot be said for the U.S. – the country which has explicitly portrayed the correlation between humanitarian and financial aid, and human rights violations. While funding right-wing groups to destabilise socialist countries, the U.S. destabilises Cuba not only by maintaining the illegal blockade. To drive a wedge in diplomatic relations, Cuba is back on a list which the U.S. itself should be leading in prime position.
The false designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terror is also a direct means of incitement against the island, at a time when Cuba is a leading nation in efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19. Revolutionary principles and terror motives cannot be part of the same agenda. Cuba does not promote violence – hence the U.S. has no grounds upon which to discredit the revolutionary nation.
Former U.S. vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden should be named as an alleged perpetrator in a criminal investigation in Ukraine over the firing of the country’s prosecutor general, a judge has ruled, reports Joe Lauria.
Joe Biden should be named as an alleged perpetrator in a criminal investigation in Ukraine over the firing of former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, a Ukrainian judge has ruled.
Shokin has alleged that Biden was illegally behind his dismissal in 2016 by threatening to withhold a $1 billion IMF loan to Ukraine if Shokin wasn’t dismissed.
Last month District Court Judge S. V. Vovk in Kiev ruled that police must list Biden as an alleged perpetrator of a crime against Shokin, according to a report on the website Just the News. The possible crime cited is “unlawful interference in Shokin’s work as Ukraine’s chief prosecutor,” the website said, according to an English translation of the investigative judge’s order obtained by the site.
The district court had earlier ruled that there was sufficient evidence in Shokin’s criminal complaint to investigate Biden, but the police had withheld Biden’s name, listing him only as an unnamed American.
Shokin first alleged last year in a deposition that Biden had pressured then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Shokin because he was conducting an investigation into Burisma Holdings, the gas company on whose board Biden’s son Hunter was installed shortly after the fall of President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.
Biden had been appointed the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine, according to a recorded conversation between then Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffry Pyatt. Nuland and Pyatt discussed how to “midwife” a new Ukrainian government before the democratically-elected Yanukovych was overthrown. Nuland said Biden would help “glue” it all together.
As booty from the U.S.-backed coup, the sitting vice president’s son, Hunter, within weeks got his seat on Burisma, in what can be seen as a transparently neocolonial maneuver to take over a country and install one’s own people. But Biden’s son wasn’t the only one.
A family friend of then Secretary of State John Kerry also joined Burisma’s board. U.S. agricultural giant Monsanto got a Ukrainian contract soon after the overthrow. And the first, post-coup Ukrainian finance minister was an American citizen, a former State Department official, who was given Ukrainian citizenship the day before she took up the post. Shokin has alleged, in the same vein, that the U.S. was running the country’s prosecutors’ office.
Biden’s Public Admission
After Shokin, the prosecutor general at the time, began looking into possible corruption at Burisma, Biden openly admitted at a 2018 conference that as vice president he withheld a $1 billion IMF credit line to Ukraine until the government fired the prosecutor. As Biden says himself, it took only six hours for it to happen.
Biden says the U.S. sought Shokin’s ouster because he was corrupt. But Shokin is citing a letter from the U.S. State Department in summer 2015 that “praised his anti-corruption plan as Ukraine’s chief prosecutor,” according to Just the News. Biden’s own words at the Council on Foreign Relations event would indicate Poroshenko’s reluctance to fire Shokin, who told the website he has evidence to show the government was satisfied with his work.
An attempt by President Donald Trump last year to get the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Biden while implying military aid could be withheld led ultimately to Trump’s impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate acquitted him.
News of Biden being ordered named in the criminal investigation came days after a member of the Ukrainian parliament released new audio recordings of Biden-Poroshenko conversations that show Biden dangling the IMF loan to get Shokin dismissed. Zelensky said the recordings would be investigated by police as they may be “perceived, qualified as treason.” Poroshenko branded the leaked audio “fabricated” and a spokesman for Biden claimed to The Washington Post the tapes were “heavily edited … and it’s still a nothingburger that landed with a thud.”
(Biden and Poroshenko in English begins at 6:15)
The likes of Evelyn Farkas and The Washington Post (The WaPo or WaPo for short), continue to hustle the Russigate hoax, despite the presence of fact based second guessing, that has been very much censored by U.S. mass media. Farkas served a period in the Obama administration as a “deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia”. Over that time and thereafter, she has made a series of subjectively inaccurate and negative claims about Russian government actions, in a way which also happens to be an affront to mainstream thinking Russians and others with a sense of fairness in covering that country.
For that reason, it was disappointing (but not so surprising) to watch what Dmitriy Simes (of the realist leaning National Interest), said in a one-sided CNN and PBS aired Russia bashing discussion with Farkas and Christiane Amanpour this past January. In that segment, Simes offered no opposition to what Farkas and Amanpour have pushed relative to Russia. That airing further substantiates my contention of a managed U.S. foreign policy realism with unofficially understood limits.
Farkas’ May 18 WaPo op-ed “Russia is interfering in our elections again. And Trump supporters are emulating Russian tactics.” is the same old, same old. She’s by no means alone in repeatedly stating faulty innuendo about Russia. The manner of her ongoing bravado is worthy of rebuke.
On May 13 and 18, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, specifically called out Farkas, to substantiate her put mildly suspect and unchallenged claims stated on CNN, MSNBC, The WaPo, et al. (On May 13, Carlson does such at the 5:25 mark of this hyperlinked video. In reply to Farkas’ May 18 WaPo, piece, Carlson calls her out again at the 33:19 mark of this hyperlinked video.)
Within American mass media circles, Carlson stands out in not readily accepting the notion that the Russian government meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. This was evident when he interacted with Trey Gowdy on May 11. Gowdy was unable to substantiate his contention (stated by some others) that the Russian government had intervened in the 2016 U.S. presidential election for the purpose of sowing discord. Likewise, there has been no successful counter to a recent follow-up, reaffirming no conclusive proof of a Russian government hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails, which were then supposedly used by the Kremlin to demonically troll the U.S.
The May 8 Fox Business segment between Lou Dobbs and John Solomon, presents the Steele Dossier’s anti-Trump content as bogus Russian Intel information received by Christopher Steele, who then forwarded the material over to the FBI. Where’s the proof that Steele had actually received the information from Russian Intel? Based on what has been presented, it’s not off the wall to believe that the claim of Russian government meddling in the 2016 U.S. vote, more closely resembles a crackpot conspiracy theory than a grave national threat.
Solomon is in line with the U.S. Republican Party establishment which (grudgingly or otherwise) accept Trump. For these folks, debunking the belief of a Trump-Russia collusion is a paramount interest, unlike clearing Russia of wrongdoing. This mindset rightfully ridicules Adam Schiff for saying that he has proof of a Trump-Russia collusion against Hillary Clinton, while accepting the assertion of Russian government U.S. election meddling, without any conclusive proof given.
Solomon, Gowdy, Sean Hannity, et al, suggestively pass off the Steele Dossier as a Russian government effort to discredit Trump. Even if some, most, or all of Steele’s sources are Russian, the question arises of what kind? Russia has a diversity of views. Those not liking Putin are likely to dislike Trump. It seems quite possible that Steele was too trusting of the information he received.
Awhile back, Solomon (as well as some others) noted flaws in the Steele Dossier. One of them is the mention of a Russian Consulate in Miami, which doesn’t exist. Steele has never had the reputation of being especially friendly towards Russia. During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Trump advocated closer U.S.-Russian relations – something that irked neocon, neolib and flat out anti-Russian leaning ranks. With this in mind, it’s not unreasonable to believe that the Steele Dossier is made up crapola done with the intent to discredit Trump.
Why would the Russian government choose to dis Trump, who at the time of the 2016 U.S. election process, had represented a potentially better option to Russia when compared to Hillary Clinton? During this period, Clinton was noticeably more provocative towards the Russian government than Trump. Recall that a number of Trump supporters expressed a difference of opinion on him regarding Russia.
This last point leads to the belief that some of the Republicans were lax in initially contesting the effort to cast Trump as a Russian dupe. This laxness relates to the predominating anti-Russian bias in U.S. mass media and body politic. Since being in office, Trump’s Russia-related policies (arming the Kiev regime and bombing Russian allied Syrian government positions) have calmed the Russia-unfriendly slant in the Republican establishment.
Donald Trump was impeached last winter for one technical violation of the law and a host of made-up ones. The technical violation was his move to block $391 million in Ukrainian military aid.
It was a violation because it because it interfered with Congress’s exclusive spending powers. But it was purely technical because presidents traditionally have wide latitude in determining how expenditures are made. Back in 1801, Thomas Jefferson’s treasury secretary, Albert Gallatin, argued that the executive branch should be allowed “a reasonable discretion” while, 160 years later, John F. Kennedy had no scruples about unilaterally moving more than $1 million – a lot of money in those days – from one budget account to another to pay for a pet project known as the Peace Corps. No one thought much of it at the time, so Trump’s decision to hold up an appropriation in 2019 doesn’t seem like a big deal.
And it wasn’t, as the December 18 articles of impeachment made clear. Rather than dwelling on the blockage itself, they quickly moved on to the real question at hand, which is why it occurred. The answer, of course, was to pressure newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into why a notorious oligarch named Mykola Zlochevsky had given Joe Biden’s son Hunter a lucrative no-show job and why the then-vice president had then pushed for the firing of a prosecutor looking into Zlochevsky’s company, Burisma Holdings.
Since any such investigation would have reflected poorly on Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, Democrats charged that Trump was seeking to “obtain an improper personal political benefit” by “enlist[ing] a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.” After welcoming Russian interference in 2016, he was now angling for Ukrainian interference in 2020 – or so they maintained. But the charge never made sense for one all-important reason: however much Trump might benefit, the public had a legitimate interest in learning why Biden had allowed his son to enter into an obviously corrupt relationship at a time when he was supposedly serving as Obama’s point man in rooting out Ukrainian corruption.
It’s as if 1920s Chicago crime buster Eliot Ness had looked the other way while a close relative took a job with Al Capone. So while Democrats made a big show of moral indignation, Senate Republicans were unmoved with the partial exception of notorious featherbrain Mitt Romney, and Trump was acquitted.
But now let’s take a look at Schiff’s sins and see how they compare. Back in 2017, he was the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and therefore the man Democrats counted on to lead the charge that Trump had colluded with the Kremlin in order to steal the election. He did so with gusto. Quoting from a dossier prepared by ex-British MI6 agent Christopher Steele, he regaled a March 2017 committee hearing with tales of how Russia bribed Trump adviser Carter Page by offering him a hefty slice of a Russian natural-gas company known as Rosneft and of how Russian agents boosted Trump’s political fortunes by hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails and passing them on to WikiLeaks. Conceivably, such acts could have been purely coincidental, Schiff acknowledged.
“But it is also possible,” he went on, “maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected, and not unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt U.S. persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere. We simply don’t know, not yet, and we owe it to the country to find out.”
Hours later, he assured MSNBC that the evidence of collusion was “more than circumstantial.” Nine months after that, he informed CNN’s Jake Tapper that the case was no longer in doubt: “The Russians offered help, the campaign accepted help, the Russians gave help, and the president made full use of that help.” In February 2018, he told reporters: “There is certainly an abundance of non-public information that we’ve gathered in the investigation. And I think some of that non-public evidence is evidence on the issue of collusion and some … on the issue of obstruction.”
The press lapped it up. But now, thanks to the May 7 release of 57 transcripts of secret testimony – transcripts, by the way, that Schiff bottled up for months – we have a better idea of what such “non-public information” amounts to. The answer: nothing. A parade of high-level witnesses told the intelligence committee that either they didn’t know about collusion or lacked evidence even to venture an opinion. Not one offered the contrary view that collusion was true.
“I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting [or] conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election,” testified ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch told the committee that no one in the FBI or CIA had informed her that collusion had taken place. Sally Yates, acting attorney general during the Obama-Trump transition, was similarly noncommittal. So were Obama speechwriter Ben Rhodes and former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. David Kramer, a prominent neocon who helped spread word of the Steele dossier in top intelligence circles, was downright apologetic: “I’m not in a position to really say one way or the other, sir. I’m sorry.”
But rather than admit that the investigation had turned up nothing, Schiff lied that it had – not once but repeatedly.
Let that sink in for a moment. Collusion dominated the headlines from the moment Buzzfeed published the Steele dossier on Jan. 10, 2017, to the release of the Muller report on Apr. 18, 2019. That’s more than two years, a period in which newspapers and TV were filled with Russia, Russia, Russia and little else. Thanks to the uproar, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein secretly discussed using the Twenty-fifth Amendment to force Trump out of office, while an endless parade of newscasters and commentators assured viewers that the president’s days were numbered because “the walls are closing in.”
Schiff’s only response was to egg it on to greater and greater heights. Even when Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller issued his no-collusion verdict – “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” his report said – Schiff insisted that there was still “ample evidence of collusion in plain sight.”
“I use that word very carefully,” he said, “because I also distinguish time and time again between collusion, that is acts of corruption that may or may not be criminal, and proof of a criminal conspiracy. And that is a distinction that Bob Mueller made within the first few pages of his report. In fact, every act that I’ve pointed to as evidence of collusion has now been borne out by the report.”
So Trump colluded with the Kremlin, but in a non-criminal way? Even if Mueller got Schiff in a headlock and screamed in his ear, “No collusion, no collusion,” the committee chairman would presumably reply: “See? He said it – collusion.”
The man is an unscrupulous liar, in other words, someone who will say anything to gain attention and fatten his war chest, which is why contributions flowing to his re-election campaign have risen from under $1 million a year to $10.5 million since the Russia furor began. The man talks endlessly about the Constitution, patriotism, his father’s heroic service in the military, and so on. But the only thing Adam Schiff really cares about is himself.
Trump’s sins are manifold. But with unerring accuracy, Schiff managed to zero in on the one sin that didn’t take place. Considering that the $391 million was destined for ultra-right military units whose members sport neo-Nazi regalia and SS symbols as they battle pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukraine, Schiff’s crimes are just as bad, if not worse. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the next candidate for impeachment, the congressman from Hollywood – Adam Schiff!
An Iraqi-American takes stock of how the Right supported regime change and warns of falling into the trap again.
As a Christian and an American citizen of Iraqi heritage, I want to address a point raised in John Burtka’s recent article defending First Things. Namely, the impact of the War in Iraq on Christians in the country and conservatism in America.
“We do not know what we need to know until we ask the right questions, and we can identify the right questions only by subjecting our own ideas about the world to the test of public controversy,” wrote Christopher Lasch. For me, men like John Henry Newman, Christopher Dawson, Christopher Lasch, and others like them, are models of a life open to intellectual change, to growth, soul-searching. Thinkers willing to learn and change. I do not mean vacillating between opinions, but being willing to self-correct.
I was a confused little girl after we came to America. Missing home, missing the sense of a whole self, torn between the civilization I left behind and the civilization I entered into—who I was and what I was becoming. Always plagued by the desire to understand what it means to be, I concluded that the only way to survive this internal disunity was to reject my Iraqi heritage.
President Clinton’s years in office only cemented my view that the Republicans were the good and moral people. The years I had spent assimilating to the American Evangelical Republican scene culminated in 2000. That year I worked on the ground in California to help George W. Bush get elected. I even shook his hand at a rally. As a listener of Hugh Hewitt and a reader of National Review and The Weekly Standard, I had high hopes. Our man was in office. The vestiges of my heritage made me pro-life and pro-family, and the Republican party claimed these principles. In a contest between Al Gore and George W. Bush, it was a no-brainer.
Quietly and gradually I retreated from the Republican Party and the conservatism on offer. Many American conservatives—natural and naturalized—did the same. Officially I became an independent voter. Yet I never stopped being conservative. Intellectually I turned in on myself. Around that time, I also went through serious life changes. The years passed, but the internal disquiet remained. After years of searching for a sound understanding of what it means to be, a sound understanding of the world around me, I converted to Catholicism. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, and it opened up for me treasures of knowledge. By the light of reason and faith I was intent to rethink everything. I knew I needed to go back to first principles and rebuild from there. It took years, and I am still at it.
Some of those I now disagree with are my friends and acquaintances, I love them even when I think they were, and are, wrong. Some have not fully grasped how influential they were, they have not come to terms with the fact that their ideas killed people, as John Burtka wrote, “their policies have killed, yes, literally killed.” They are wonderful people, but their ideas destroyed many of the people I know and love. People who would never have set foot on American soil had their world not turned upside down.
As a woman seeking holiness, I strive hard to suppress the rage—nay, the righteous anger—I feel at this piece from Fred Barnes. It is a denigration of an entire people. Some individuals are contemptible, but cannot the same be said of us? Do we not also have tyrants and knaves in our midst? Are we not also filled with corruption?
Grateful? Imagine a nation invading us, plundering us, destroying our corrupt leaders (and we have many), uprooting us, creating absolute chaos, instigating internal strife, and telling us we should be grateful for the “greatest act of benevolence one country has ever done for another.” And they would remind us that we should be grateful they destroyed our tyrant.
Are we surprised by the cost of human lives, of flesh and blood, men, women, and children? Could this devastation not have been foreseen? Only those that did not count the cost or turned a blind eye can be surprised at the decimation of Iraq’s Christians. Pope John Paul II certainly warned against it.
And after all that, Sohrab Ahmari writes on April 14, 2018 in Commentary Magazine, “The Christian Case for Invading Syria.” After all that carnage from which we continue to reap consequences, someone has the chutzpah to propose a “Christian” case to decimate yet another country in the Middle East, bringing about the complete liquidation of Christians in the region. The rise of American Christians against their Eastern brethren is grievous.
My friends, can you look me in the eye and tell me that it was a good thing to invade Iraq? Can you look me in the eye and say, “I’m sorry for the collateral damage done to Iraqi Christians, but what we did overall was a good thing? After all, we did depose a tyrant.”
You need not marvel that Donald Trump became president. The American people have judged and they have rejected these ideas. Is it not right then to ask afresh what conservatism means, what went wrong and how we can right it? Should we not be about the business of testing ideas and looking for ways to help our countrymen? The American people do not want billions of dollars squandered on wars. They want money spent on infrastructure, they want jobs, they want to be heard. My principle is to stand with them, to help them, to bring the light of Christ to them.
Conservatism per se does not change, on principle it does not throw the baby out with the bathwater. In order to learn the lessons of the Iraq War, we need to distinguish the baby from the bathwater—that is the struggle.
This past Sunday, April 17th, a dispute between Iran and the U.S. occurred over the U.S.’ decision to increase its military presence in Caribbean and Eastern Pacific waters, with the purported reason being a counter-narcotics campaign.
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this past Sunday, that the real purpose for this move by the U.S. is to “intervene and create disruption in the transfer of Iran’s fuel to Venezuela.” In the same letter, Zarif expressed concern over “the United States’ intention to consider dangerous, unlawful and provocative measures against Iranian oil tankers engaged in perfectly lawful international commerce with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”
The Iranian deployment consists of five tankers carrying around $45.5million of gasoline and related products, as part of a wider deal between Iran and Venezuela. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on both nations’ oil exports.
For the first time since 1962, Iran has requested IMF assistance due to severe shortages created by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Iran requesting an emergency loan of $5 billion. However, the request is currently being blocked by the U.S., which accounts for slightly more than 16.5% of IMF’s voting shares and has an effective veto over decisions.
Iran is presently experiencing a critical shortage of medicines and equipment amid the pandemic, and yet is prohibited from purchasing medicines and supplies because of the banking sanctions.
It is clear that these manoeuvres against Iran are not on behalf of anyone’s “security” but rather an attempt to force Iran to finally bend the knee and be reduced to a state of complete dependence.
Iran has fought a long fight to claim its independence from western powers.
However, what if I were to tell you that once there was a time when Iran and the U.S. had good relations and that the U.S. was in fact the leading promoter and supporter of Iran’s sovereignty?
Almost out of a Shakespearean play of tragedy and betrayal, the relationship was jeopardised by a third player. As identified by John Perkins, in his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the first ever U.S. coup against a foreign country was the overthrow of Iran’s nationalist Prime Minister Mosaddegh in 1953. However, what is often left out…is that it was a British authored and designed operation.
In order for us to understand how and why the U.S. was dragged into such an affair, our story starts 150 years ago…
Dieu et mon droit
It all started in 1872, with Nasir al-Din Shah having granted to the British Baron Julius de Reuter, rights to Iran’s entire economic estate. Reuter not only controlled Iran’s industry, farming, and rail transportation, but also held the right to issue currency and to set up a national bank, called the Imperial Bank of Persia, which was under direct British control.
In 1901, Muzzaffar al-Din Shah negotiated what became known as the D’Arcy Contract, granting William Knox D’Arcy, a millionaire London socialite, the special and exclusive privilege to basically own and manage the natural gas and petroleum of Iran for a term of 60 years.
In May 26th 1908 D’Arcy struck pay-dirt in Iran, discovering a huge oil field in Masjed-Soleiman. Britain immediately set up APOC in 1908, purchasing the rights to the black gold from D’Arcy. Six years later, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill gave the order to purchase 51% of APOC, effectively nationalizing the company. This was to ensure the free flow of oil to the British navy. It was the first company to extract petroleum from Iran.
Iran received only 16% of the royalties on the oil.
Britain continued to pursue total control of Iran, not through colonial occupation, but rather through economic “agreements”. In the midst of carving up the empire’s new “jewels” of the Middle East from the Sykes-Picot fraud on the Arabian people and the illegal British occupation of Palestine, the notorious Anglo-Persian Agreement of Aug 19, 1919 was also signed, with London effectively turning Iran into a de facto protectorate run by British “advisors”. Britain had succeeded in becoming the masters of Iran’s natural resources through this agreement.
Iran received almost nothing in return, not even oil from APOC for domestic consumption, but rather had to import it from the Soviet Union!
On Nov 28th 1932 Reza Shah announced that he would be cancelling the British concession to APOC. The British Navy was heavily dependent on cheap Iranian oil and thus Britain refused to acquiesce. A compromise was reached in 1933 through bilateral negotiations and the British managed to extend their concession up until 1993! Iran had succeeded in getting the British to pay a higher price but it still did not control its own oil.
The American Relationship
Despite claiming a neutral stance for Iran during WWII, word had gotten out that Reza Shah was apparently sympathetic to the cause of Hitler. The argument was thus used that a pro-German Iran could become a launching pad for an attack against the Soviet Union, justifying British and Soviet entry into the country on Aug 25th 1941 for what would be a several years’ occupation. On Sept 16th Reza was forced by the British to abdicate and go into exile transferring power to his 22 year old son, Mohammad Reza Shah.
Mohammad Reza Shah was not happy with the joint occupation and sought an American military presence as a mediator to British and Soviet interests. The Shah sent a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Aug 25th 1941 asking him to:
“be good enough to interest yourself in this incident…I beg Your Excellency to take efficacious and urgent humanitarian steps to put an end to these acts of aggression.”
In response to this plea, Roosevelt sent Gen. Patrick Hurley as his special representative to Iran to help prepare what was to become the Iran Declaration, finally adopted at the Tehran Conference where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill would agree to guarantee the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Iran.
The Iran Declaration was used to finally end the foreign occupation of Iran after WWII, despite some resistance, and would play a crucial role in Iran’s future fight for sovereignty. The Iran Declaration thus proved itself to be more than just words, and this would certainly never have happened if not for FDR.
As part of Hurley’s report to FDR, he wrote some biting words on the present system of British imperialism, “The imperialism of Germany, Japan, Italy, France… will, we hope, end or be radically revised by this war [WWII]. British imperialism seems to have acquired a new life. . . What appears to be a new life… is the result of the infusion, into its emaciated form, of the blood of productivity and liberty from a free nation [Iran] through Lend-Lease.”
Roosevelt sent a copy of the Hurley report to Churchill with his thoughts on the matter: “The enclosed memorandum was sent to me… I rather like his general approach to the care and education of what used to be called ‘backward countries’…the point of all this is that I do not want the United States to acquire a ‘zone of influence,’ or any other nation for that matter [in Iran].”
Churchill was less than enthusiastic on the Hurley-FDR vision. He was particularly irked by Hurley’s notion that British imperialism were in conflict with democracy.
FDR died only a few months later, and with his interment, Hurley’s plans for American support for a sovereign and democratic Iran as a model for the rest of the Middle East were relegated to the dust bins of time and forgotten by much of the world.
Following WWII, nationalistic sentiments were on the rise including in the Middle East, the most notable being Iran. However, following the death of FDR the British were free to disingenuously respond to Iran’s request for better economic conditions by offering what was called the “Supplemental Agreement”, in May 1949. This entailed a better payment in royalties but still denied Iran any oversight over accounts or any other form of control over Iranian oil.
In the late 1940s, a new political force emerged in Iran called the National Front led by Mohammad Mosaddegh. Their campaign was centered on the demand to nationalize the AIOC and the people of Iran were in accord, electing Mosaddegh into the Majlis (parliament) in 1949.
Mosaddegh lost no time, and quickly became the head of the Majlis Oil Committee which was tasked to study the British “Supplemental Agreement”. When it came time to put it to a vote on Nov 25th 1950, the committee delivered a resounding “no” to the British proposition.
Less than four months later, the Majlis voted on March 15th 1951 for nationalization of the AIOC, and it was renamed as the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Less than two months later, Mosaddegh became Prime Minister of Iran on April 28th 1951.
The British were left empty handed.
Twice the British tried to argue their case before the international community, once in May 1951 at The Hague and again in October at the UN Security Council. Both attempts were to lose to Mosaddegh’s defense. Mosaddegh had earned a Ph.D. in law from the Neuchatel Law School in Switzerland in 1914.
This was anything but a formal victory. It was to set a precedent in the international community that a country’s right to national sovereignty would be favored over Britain’s imperial “claims”, which were exposed during these two very public trials as amounting to nothing more than the threats and bribes of pirates.
At the UN Security Council, Mosaddegh responded to Britain’s imperial ambitions over Iran with these eloquent words:
“My countrymen lack the bare necessities of existence…Our greatest natural asset is oil. This should be the source of work and food for the population of Iran. Its exploitation should properly be our national industry, and the revenue from it should go to improve our conditions of life. As now organized, however, the petroleum industry has contributed practically nothing to the well-being of the people or to the technical progress or industrial development of my country…if we are to tolerate a situation in which the Iranian plays the part of a mere manual worker in the oil fields…and if foreign exploiters continue to appropriate practically all of the income, then our people will remain forever in a state of poverty and misery. These are the reasons that have prompted the Iranian parliament… to vote unanimously in favor of nationalizing the oil industry.”
A British coup
The British were fuming over Mosaddegh’s high profile humiliation of the British Empire’s claim to Iran’s oil. Mosaddegh would have to be deposed, however, this could not look like a British retaliation.
During Averell Harrimann’s visit to Tehran in July 1951, in an attempt to salvage the broken British-Iranian relationship, Mosaddegh is reported to have said,
“You do not know how crafty they are. You do not know how evil they are. You do not know how they sully everything they touch.”
As coup rumours circulated and reports were rife of British contact being sought with Iranian military officers, Mosaddegh severed diplomatic relations with the UK on Oct 16th 1952. The British were further humiliated and had to leave the country taking their agents with them.
It was at this point that Churchill “invited” his lap dog, de facto president Truman, to participate in his vision for regime change in Iran. In November 1952, NSC 136 and 136/I were written into record, Truman had agreed to promote direct intervention in Iran through covert operations and even military force. A detailed plan was approved on Jan 8th 1953 which was 12 days before Eisenhower was inaugurated.
The management of this covert operation was under the treasonous Dulles brothers, who would use the very same technique when JFK first entered office in setting him up with the Bay of Pigs fiasco, however, JFK managed to publicly expose Allan Dulles in this scheme and fired him. Dulles had been the Director of the CIA for 8 years up until that point, and was Deputy Director of the CIA for two years prior. Refer to my paper on this for further details.
A preliminary meeting in Washington saw representatives of the Near East and Africa Division (NEA) with British Intelligence. The key personalities were Christopher Montague Woodhouse who had been station chief for British Intelligence in Tehran and on the American side Kermit Roosevelt (son of Teddy Roosevelt) acting as NEA Division Chief. It was the British who would propose a joint political action to remove Prime Minister Mosaddegh according to CIA documents, which were in part leaked by the New York Times on April 16th 2000. The final plan was codenamed TPAJAX.
Appendix B, aka “London Draft of the TPAJAX Operational Plan” was black propaganda aimed at hammering out these themes 1) Mosaddegh favors the Tudeh Party and the USSR 2) Mosaddegh is an enemy of Islam since he associates with Tudeh.
The aim of such tactics was to drive a wedge between Mosaddegh and his National Front on the one side and his clerical allies, especially Kashani on the other. Demonstrations against Mosaddegh in the streets were to provide the pretext for bought MPs to hold a vote against him, if he refused to step down the plan was to have Fazlollah Zahedi, leader of the opposition, to arrest him. Zahedi, as laid out in Appendix B was selected by the British to replace Mosaddegh as Prime Minister after the coup.
Chief of Staff Gen. Taghi Riahi found out about the coup plans and alerted Mosaddegh in time. When the chief of the Imperial Guards, Col. Nasiri went to Mosaddegh’s house the evening before the planned coup day (Aug 16th) to arrest him, Nasiri himself was taken as prisoner by the pro- Mosaddegh military. Zahedi managed to flee.
The coup attempt had failed and the word spread fast, crowds flooded the streets supporting Mosaddegh and denouncing the Shah. The Shah left the country quickly.
The CIA informed of the fiasco alerted Kermit Roosevelt that he should leave Iran immediately. But Kermit believed the coup could still work and would make a second attempt three days later. British Intelligence and CIA orchestrated demonstrations set to the streets on Aug 19th. The royal decrees signed by the Shah for the deposal of Mosaddegh to be replaced by Zahedi were made public in the press that very day with the radio news announcing: that Zahedi was Prime Minister, that Mosaddegh had been ousted and that the Shah would return soon.
Military units were dispatched to Mosaddegh’s home. As his house was being destroyed by gunfire and tanks, Mosaddegh managed to escape. It is said he later turned himself in to the authorities.
After a ten-week period in a military prison, Mosaddegh was tried on charges of treason, because he had allegedly mobilized for a rebellion and had contradicted the Shah. In fact, the accused treason was a nationalistic response to a foreign led coup.
Mosaddegh was promptly found guilty and sentenced to death, later lessened to three years in prison, followed by house arrest.
Mosaddegh’s response to the kangaroo court proceedings was,
“My only crime is that I nationalized the oil industry and removed from this land the network of colonialism and the political and economic influence of the greatest empire [the British Empire] on Earth.”
Members of his government were also arrested, as were the leading military who remained loyal to him. Six hundred of the 6, 000 of these men were executed.
Even after Mosaddegh had passed away, on March 5th, 1967, his enemies were fearful of his influence. Mosaddegh had requested that upon his death, he be buried in the public graveyard beside the victims of the political violence that occurred on the 21st July 1952 from British-backed Ahmad Qavam who ordered soldiers to shoot at Mosaddegh nationalists during a demonstration, resulting in a blood bath. Not wanting his grave to become the site of political manifestations, a public funeral for Mosaddegh was denied and his body was quietly buried underneath the floorboards of a room in his house.
Part 2 will cover U.S.-Iran relations from the period of 1953 to present day.
Donald Trump has finally won a war. It’s a war he’s uniquely suited to fight, a propaganda war, and he’s successfully waged it on China through his command of Western media.
Stating this doesn’t imply any kind of judgment on my part as to whether he should or should not have waged this war with China. He has and he has emerged victorious, thanks to his reframing the threat from COVID-19 as an evil Chinese plot to kill millions of people.
Now, I’m convinced that the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 were a plot by evil people to kill millions of people and usher in a bleak, authoritarian nightmare they’ve had legislation and action plans written to execute for years. I’m just not convinced it was China that was wholly behind it.
In fact, my fundamental problem with Trump’s China propaganda war vis-à-vis COVID-19 is that it lets the real culprits for how it unfolded around the world off the hook. But, ultimately, that’s a different discussion.
Today’s discussion is about where things stand between the U.S. and China and what’s on tap for the future. Why do I think Trump has won his war against China?
Simple, the numbers.
A recent poll by Bloomberg found that 78% of Americans are willing to spend more for products made in “Not China” than in “China.” Moreover, that poll goes onto say that 40% of Americans now say they won’t buy anything at all from China.
I can tell you that more people I talk with personally here in the U.S. are at this point. I’m not one of them. While, personally, I’d prefer my food, clothing and basic necessities be made as close to home as possible it has nothing to do with antipathy with China or Chinese people.
To me that’s just wise, defensive living. In times of crisis, basic necessities should have supply chains as short as possible. Honestly, I would say the same thing about stuff made in California or Idaho. But economic reality is that Idaho is better at growing potatoes and California almonds than Florida is and therefore those supply chains aren’t likely to change much.
That doesn’t mean, however, my wife isn’t growing potatoes this year or that I’ll miss them if my local Winn-Dixie is out of them because the truck was late or the harvest poor.
It’s called comparative advantage and it is the basis for all productive economic interactions. And in some areas of the economic sphere China is superior to the U.S. currently, and until the dynamic changes people will complain about “Made in China” but they will still buy what they need, especially in a country with 40+ million people out of work being acutely price-sensitive.
But that said the poll numbers found by Bloomberg will rise over the next couple of years because things will get that desperate here in the U.S. and people want to work and be willing to work for less.
That can only happen, however, if the barriers to local commerce are lifted. And that lies at the feet of government at all levels, which are, by definition, funded by the private sector. Like it or not, folks, government has no money of its own. Everything it has it has after taking it through taxes.
Trump is clearly pursuing policies to decouple the U.S. and China’s economy to as great an extent as possible to help the U.S. economy regain its domestic productive capacity. And he’s been very systematic about it. This propaganda war and his attacks on China over their handling of COVID-19 are just the next stage of this.
He began the process with his tax cut plan which cut corporate taxes as well as small business and self-employment taxes, reversing decades of ruinous policy designed to destroy the American middle class and offshore U.S. productive capacity. He’s quietly been slashing federal department budgets and staff and lifting mandates on states.
That process is slow, very slow, during normal operations.
But that wasn’t nearly enough and now he’s faced with the next task, which is to cut taxes again and incentivize the onshoring of manufacturing. His Chief Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow floated that idea last week. Republicans in Congress didn’t like it. And one has to wonder why?
It’s not like the current budget looks anything like what tax receipts are going to total this year or next. The deficit will be above World War II levels. More likely they would rather dole out checks of funny money than not collect the money in the first place. That way the power continues to flow through D.C. rather than go back to the people themselves.
But to change the direction of a now floundering U.S. it is going to take more than that and Trump’s willingness to use his broader powers under the auspice of the COVID-19 national emergency to cut government regulation and red tape is the next step forward on this path.
Never let a crisis go to waste right? Well, the Democrats are pushing for a China-esque total surveillance state and Green New Deal all rolled into one $3 trillion monstrosity, which, if passed, would only make the U.S. even more uncompetitive and hasten its demise.
Trump is finally doing the same thing, by going in the complete opposite direction.
The key to reversing China’s comparative advantages over the U.S. is removing the barriers to commerce which make local production unattractive. It’s that simple. And with oil prices now very low and low for a long time to come, Trump is now fighting lower shipping costs from overseas.
The U.S. maintains an extravagant government at not only the federal level but state and local as well. The American people can follow Trump blaming China all they want, but China is the symptom, government is the disease.
To solve this problem they have to look at themselves and admit this addiction to government itself is the barrier to them getting back to productive, happy lives.
I generally lay that blame for this extravagance at the feet of the cozy relationship between the Federal Reserve and the Treasury department creating money like crazy and allowing Congress and Presidents for two generations now to bribe voters with handouts from our future.
That future is now here.
And as individuals we have to face that.
I’ve said for a long time that anywhere from 20-40% of U.S. GDP is a phantasm born of fake money. It is waste and sloth within a system designed to hollow out the middle class and roll wealth up to an international oligarch class. Remove it and you get a better sense of what GDP and the cost basis for production truly is.
The same thing goes for China, by the way. Strip out the financialization and how much real economy is left?
That oligarch class just pulled the plug on that portion of the U.S. economy and I have no doubt that China had a hand in helping that along. It would be in their strategic interest to do so.
Thanks to Trump’s ham-fisted propaganda the American people now get this in the broadest terms.
And he’s willing to do both great and terrible things to change the dynamic. This much he has shown in spades. This war with China he’s waging has only just begun. He has the American people on his side, now he just has to convince the chattering class in D.C. that the old way of doing things is over.
When Germany’s Social Democrats – the junior governing coalition partner – renewed long-standing calls for withdrawing U.S. nuclear bombs from the country, the backlash from Washington was fast and furious.
Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Berlin, wrote an oped for German media slamming the move as “undermining” NATO’s nuclear deterrence in Europe. Grenell, who is also the acting U.S. Director of National Intelligence, was scathing, reiterating President Trump’s vituperative claims that Germany was not pulling its weight in NATO commitments.
Grenell has been the bane of many German politicians of all stripes over what they view as his high-handed interference in the country’s internal affairs, with one former Social Democrat leader likening him to a “colonial officer”.
Then came the intervention from the American ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, who mischievously proffered that if Germany didn’t want to station U.S. nuclear warheads, then Poland would provide an alternative site for the weapons. Given the history of bad blood between Germany and Poland, not to mention the incendiary provocation to Russia, Mosbacher’s suggestion is ludicrous. Nevertheless it illustrates the strenuous pushback by Washington to the renewed calls for removing U.S. nuclear weapons from German soil.
There are believed to be some 20 B-61-3/4 nuclear bombs stored at the Bucher airbase in western Germany under U.S. command. In the event of a nuclear war, the bombs would be fitted to German aircraft flown by Luftwaffe pilots and activated by American secret codes. The arrangement is part of a wider historical NATO nuclear-sharing agreement in Europe dating back to the Cold War, which sees U.S.-commanded bombs assigned also to Belgium, Netherlands and Italy.
German citizens have long called for the removal of the U.S. bombs from their territory, fearing that the weapons increase instability and the danger of war with Russia. In 2010, the German parliament (Bundestag) voted for the Berlin government to work towards Washington’s removal of the bombs.
However, successive German governments have ignored the parliamentary vote. Most recently, earlier this month, Berlin vowed it would continue to uphold the NATO nuclear-sharing agreement.
It must have come as considerable alarm to Washington when the Social Democrats – junior partner to Angel Merkel’s Christian Democrats – recently reinvigorated calls for the U.S. to withdraw its nuclear arsenal.
Rolf Mützenich, the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats is quoted as saying: “It is time Germany ruled out them [U.S. nuclear weapons] being stationed here in future.
He added: “Nuclear arms on German soil do not strengthen our security, quite the contrary.”
Having its nuclear weapons on European territory is a crucial element of Washington’s control over NATO and European foreign policy. In particular, the bombs allow the U.S. to project power at Russia. But more importantly, the strategic value stems from Washington being able to impose a scaremongering agenda in order to divide Europe from conducting normal relations with Moscow. That has long been the real purpose of the U.S.-dominated NATO alliance. “To keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in and the Germans down,” remarked one of its founders.
But there is also a more contemporary factor – multi-billion-dollar profits for the U.S. military industry.
There has been a long-running political fight in Berlin over the upgrade of Germany’s air force. The Luftwaffe’s aging fleet of Tornados dating from the early 1980s are due to be replaced by 2025. German officials have been mulling whether to replace the Tornados with European-made Eurofighter Typhoons or U.S.-made F-35s and F-18s. Sometimes Berlin seems to favor the Eurofighter, and then at other times the American option.
The Airbus consortium involved in manufacturing the Eurofighter is a joint venture between several European governments, including Germany’s. Apart from lucrative revenue from aircraft sales, there are also follow-on benefits from employment and service maintenance contracts.
Boeing, the maker of the F-18 fighter bomber, has been hit with devastating financial losses over the past year due to deadly crashes involving its civilian Max-8 airliner. There is thus a lot at stake for the company – a flagship of American manufacturing – depending on the decision by Germany on what aircraft it will purchase for upgrading its fleet of Tornados.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer reportedly informed her American counterpart Mark Esper in April that Berlin had finally made the decision to buy at least 45 F-18s.
Kramp-Karrenbauer is also head of the Christian Democrat party, having taken over the leadership from Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2018. She is a keen advocate of Germany remaining part of the NATO nuclear-sharing agreement, which means retaining U.S. nuclear bombs on German territory. Kramp-Karrenbauer has emphasized that any German aircraft upgrade must “seamlessly” fill the dual role of the aging Tornadoes to operate in conventional and nuclear warfare.
If a future Berlin government were to achieve the removal of American nuclear weapons from Germany that would obviate the need for nuclear-capable warplanes. The F-18 and F-35 are easily certifiable by Washington to carry the U.S. B-61 bombs whereas the Eurofighter is not certified and it would face long-drawn-out delay to gain American authorization, if it eventually did, which is not certain. The Americans have openly said that the Eurofighter would be disadvantaged compared with the F-35 or F-18 in acquiring authorization to operate with U.S.-made nuclear bombs.
However, if Germany were no longer part of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and its aircraft no longer providing delivery capability, the Eurofighter option would become even more attractive especially given the advantage for European industries and jobs.
This would explain why the recent German debate calling for removal of U.S. nuclear weapons has sparked such a fierce reaction from Washington. It’s not just about American dominance over Europe through its historic NATO nuclear pact. In addition, there are billions of dollars at stake for the makers of American warplanes. That’s why Washington is pressuring Berlin to keep its nuclear weapons. It’s part and parcel of selling more U.S. warplanes.
The point I am trying to make here is a simple and obvious one, or would be in a society not burdened with a two-pronged ideology of extreme militarism and extreme individualism. It is this: In feeding the military-industrial complex so richly at this time, we are starving ourselves of many vital things and weakening ourselves as a society, perhaps to the point of suicide. We are in effect sacrificing our future on the altar of American imperialism, which like some dark god of the past, is ever hungry and can be assuaged only by human life.
The coronavirus plague now sweeping the globe – sickening millions, killing hundreds of thousands, bringing normal life for the world’s masses to an unprecedented and indefinite halt – puts into sharper relief than ever before the distinction between what we refer to reflexively as “national security” and the safety and security of real human beings. The ability to grasp that distinction at this moment is the difference between sanity and insanity.
Right now, as at least 40 of the nation’s states still fail to test their populations at the benchmark rate set by the World Health Organization, the Pentagon continues to chew through its bloated $700 billion-plus budget, larger than the next 10 countries combined. At a time when states still scramble to locate and pay for basic protective equipment for doctors and nurses, when every level of government here in the so-called “richest country in the world” is trying to square the circle of escalating costs and radically diminished revenues, the great American war machine grinds on, fighting its forever wars and extending its intimidating presence into every continent. A quarter-million American troops and mercenaries are now deployed in at least 177 countries and territories, at last count. It’s easier to list the places not housing U.S. forces; those would be, by and large, the nations our military, intelligence and diplomatic services are attempting to subvert, sanction or otherwise bludgeon into proper submission to the geopolitical and economic agenda of the global leviathan.
What exactly are these soldiers doing in Australia, Norway, the Philippines, Mali, Bahrain, etc.? Who knows? Defense Department bureaucrats feel as much need to explain and justify the stationing of their legions as did the Roman emperors. It all falls under the convenient, no-questions-allowed rubric of “national defense.” The exorbitant spending on high-tech weapons against low-tech terrorists, or whomever this week’s existential threat is – this too is largely unaccountable. It is managed by the fourth and most efficient branch of government, the revolving-door lobbyists employed by weapons makers, whom I hope and pray are maintaining proper social distancing as they perform their essential work of channeling corporate largesse to the campaign funds of key congressional committee members.
What we do know is what our ubiquitous military is not fighting: the only enemy that matters at the moment, the novel coronavirus, the real red menace. No amount of gunboat diplomacy with oil-rich nations, or support for Saudi Arabia’s murderous and endless war in impoverished Yemen, will bring us one minute closer to a vaccine or useful treatment against COVID-19, the microscopic invader that within a couple of months since its arrival in the U.S. has produced as large a death toll as the Korean and Vietnam wars combined. No rattling of sabers against China or Russia, no chest-thumping assertions made to a bemused world of American greatness or exceptionalism will bring to heel a contagion that, thanks to the current administration’s total lack of preparedness and tardy and inept response, has overcome our feeble public health defenses and made America the world’s epicenter of illness and death. Nor, obviously, do the plans in place to “update” our already planet-destroying nuclear capability protect us one bit from the catastrophic destruction – physical, psychological, cultural and economic – already wrought by these invisible specks of protein and genetic material. No, the $5 trillion and change we have spent this century on devastating and pointless warfare has only moved us closer to bankruptcy, financial and moral, while undermining COVID-19 prevention, treatment and research efforts, as well as related social support.
The raw numbers of the pandemic – with the U.S., representing just over 4 percent of the world’s population, accounting for 32 percent of total cases, 41 percent of active cases and 29 percent of deaths as I write this – serve as an irrefutable index of bad decisions made, of skewed priorities and sheer failure. The wave of suffering and fear that has come upon us has produced altruism and insight among some, but it has also triggered much misplaced rage and denial on the part of the MAGA crowd. The aggression, confusion and willed stupidity we see on display these days among militant “reopeners” is to some extent a karmic rebound of our geopolitics, an increasingly fascistic domestic belligerence that echoes the arrogant, bullying, me-first-and-only face our nation has long presented to the larger world.
That old radical pacifist America-hater, Dwight D. Eisenhower, famously wrote that “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” In the same letter, he also presciently noted, “The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: … two fine, fully equipped hospitals.”
Which is just the sort of thing that could come in handy about now. Along, of course, with the ability to test the minimum of 900,000 people per day that Harvard researchers claim is necessary to reopen the economy with any margin of safety. That number is almost three times the country’s current daily testing rate, which is still limited, after all these weeks, by supply issues, including shortages of swabs. (Which in itself is symptomatic of an industrial plant so corrupted by military spending and Defense Department procurement practices that it can readily produce complex and deadly weapons, but not modified Q-Tips.) It’s hard to imagine such a crisis affecting the Pentagon, with its rich legacy of $500 hammers and $600 toilet seats. However, the swabs are intended not to take lives but to save them, a goal that many on the Right seem to find unseemly and unmanly. This includes the president and vice president, with their selfish, macho refusal to protect the health of others and send a positive message to the citizenry by wearing a mask.
I think I understand their reticence. Once you start treating human life – all human life – as just a tiny bit precious and maybe a hint sacred, where will it end? With a questioning, perhaps, of our current concept of national greatness, based as it is on the concrete reality of perpetual war. And maybe, too, of a healthcare non-system designed around private profit, which withholds its benefits from those who are most susceptible to disease and most likely to spread it to others. In his grandiose way, the president declares his commitment to quickly (i.e., before the November election) develop a vaccine against the killer virus, likening this effort to the Manhattan Project in its urgency and budgetary priority. But the Manhattan Project took place during a real war, and this is just the moral equivalent of war – which is to say, it is driven by compassion rather than hatred and xenophobia. And so whatever resources end up being pledged to this seemingly humanitarian medical initiative – which will undoubtedly be tainted by the capitalist imperatives of Big Pharma – they will still be dwarfed by the monies allocated to the direct descendant of the Manhattan Project, the Strangelovian nuclear war-fighting capability that for 75 years has kept us all in a man-made climate of demoralizing terror.
In his Riverside Church speech of 1967, Martin Luther King stated that “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Perhaps we have passed that point already, maybe long ago, judging by the complacency with which our society accepts a bellicose status quo in a time when nothing is normal. American companies continue to supply the smart bombs that Saudi pilots dumbly – or perhaps quite intentionally – drop on Yemeni children. Vindictive, senseless sanctions continue to be levied against Iran, a nation hard hit by the epidemic, as well as Venezuela, an oil-exporting nation in “our backyard” that cannot be allowed to function as a sovereign state, lest the example spread. American boots remain planted in myriad places the American public cannot pronounce or find on a map. The Pentagon pledges to build hundreds or thousands of hypersonic missiles, their newest toy, triggering yet another dangerous, futile and ruinously expensive arms race. Trump sputters on about his Space Force, declaring that “We must have American dominance in space” – a far cry from “We came in peace for all mankind,” the words left, however sincerely, on the surface of the moon by the Apollo astronauts half a century ago. The Cold War and its ideological rivalry is a generation past now, and not even lip service is paid anymore to peace and humanity, ideas fit only for wimps and losers in the Darwinian struggle of all against all that is life in the MAGA Republic.
The inhuman language of domination, power and control emanates endlessly from the top these days, from the lips of a deranged and dangerous president and the leadership of the Republican Party, which has completed its metamorphosis into right-wing death cult. But the context has changed, and so, subtly and inevitably, has the language’s meaning. Blustering about our arsenal and striking power at a time when we have failed so spectacularly to protect ourselves from a primitive microbe signals weakness, not strength. It reveals a thought structure so ingrown and ossified that it can no longer recognize its own situation or adapt to changing circumstances.
When I see photos of the militia types milling around state capitols, unmasked and brandishing AR-15 rifles while denouncing the emergency measures designed to keep them and their families alive, I wonder: Do these people mean to shoot the virus dead, Rambo style? There’s something strangely poignant beneath the reopeners’ ugly, threatening posturing. Paunchy and paranoid, born victims, they swagger childishly and flaunt their phallic weapons because, like all of us, they are afraid. But unable to honestly acknowledge their own fear, they mask it with anger and suspicion and hostility aimed at straw-man enemies. Dimly aware of their own isolation, vulnerability and powerlessness in a culture of exaggerated self-reliance, torn social safety nets, toxic masculinity and Fox TV, they come together in illusory and transient communities cemented by shared anti-social attitudes and excess testosterone.
These sad-sack right-to-deathers are a disturbing reflection of larger forces. Only in America would we have the Blue Angels – shining symbol of the military behemoth that spreads so much death and destruction worldwide while consuming half or more of the federal government’s discretionary spending – salute the lifesaving labor of the frontline healthcare workers who have gotten so little tangible support from Washington. Spectacle we do well; it’s planning, cooperation, mutual aid and shared sacrifice for the common good we find more challenging. A shallow patriotism comes easily to Americans, but real solidarity does not.
This is a terrible moment we’re going through, but also one of unwonted clarity. We must choose – in our thinking, our behavior, our policy and budgetary decisions – between life and death, between saving actual lives and projecting brute, abstract force. If we continue to pretend that things haven’t shifted fundamentally, that out of a crippled and traumatized economy we can extract both new missiles and new medical treatments, then we have learned nothing from this experience and have not earned a livable post-virus future.
Making America Great Again proved an effective campaign slogan, a sadly popular invitation to collective self-delusion and the unleashing of pent-up hatreds. The question we can no longer avoid is whether we can make America good for once. If it’s still possible at this late date, it will begin with a reconsideration of the muddled and mystified concepts of national security and national defense, and a plan for moving as a society from a passive acceptance of the sickness that is war to an active pursuit of healing and of peace.
They want to meet me not because I’m Mike from Kansas, because I represent the greatest nation in the history of civilization.
I want everyone to be reminded that America remains the world’s leading light of humanitarian goodness as well amidst this global pandemic.
…no greater privilege and no greater honour than serving as the commander in chief of the greatest military in the history of the world.
One of the curiosities about the United States is that, on the one hand, Americans are forever boasting about how powerful, how democratic and altogether wonderful their country is while, on the other hand, they are receptive to assertions that this mightiness and excellence is on the brink of disappearing. It’s a very peculiar state of affairs probably best left to psychiatrists to ponder. We laypeople are left wondering: has there ever been so frightened a superpower? So mighty and all about to be lost.
Three years of Trump have destroyed its alliances
The United States is the principal member of NATO – “the greatest alliance the world has ever known“. Its flacks sang its praises on its 70th birthday: greatest ever said Poland’s President, essential for world peace, stronger than ever and so on. And yet, a mere three years of President Trump has put it at the gates of death if not already killed it. “The Atlantic alliance as we know it is dead“. Or perhaps not dead quite yet: “an erosion of the foundations of the political system that defines — and protects — the modern world“; “The result could be nothing less than the fracturing of the Western alliance“.
It is not my purpose to discuss whether Trump is trying to kill the alliances – indeed, I suspect that he may be. The point is the assertion, apparently to be taken with a straight face, that this 70-year old alliance, the keystone of an interlocking system of alliances and relations centred on the United States, can be fatally weakened so quickly by one man. Even if that man be President of the principal member.
Three years of Trump have destroyed its democracy
The United States in 2016 was “the greatest democracy in the world” but just a bit of Trump and it’s fading fast. “Trump is a Frankenstein’s monster of past presidents’ worst attributes” chides someone worrying that Trump will destroy the presidency (but fortunately we have “esteemed former FBI director Robert Mueller” to redress the balance). Some now-forgotten statements were evidence of candidate Trump’s anti-American values. “On Inauguration Day, the president seemed poised to destroy American democracy” and the author lists people and institutions preventing him from doing so; some haven’t worn well: James Comey (Russia!), GCHQ (Russia!), Russiagate reporters (Russia!), the intelligence community (Russia!), Susan Rice (Russia!), Adam Schiff (Russia!). In fact, a little bit of Trump has ruined lots of things: “A List Of Everything Donald Trump Has Ruined This Year, From Retweets To The Solar Eclipse“. But, as the Russia story sinks, COVID-19 rises to give Trump the chance to express his inner fascist.
The American political system is more than two centuries old; it has gone through a lot; it has had many mediocre presidents and survived them. But, apparently, Trump is just too much. Again we see the “greatest” weakened quickly and easily.
Its elections are at the mercy of foreign enemies
To many non-Americans, its electoral system – registration, voting machines, Electoral College – is pretty arcane. Especially since they learned of the epistemological problems of “hanging chads“. But to Americans it’s theirs and they’re used to it. But suddenly, it’s at jeopardy in some undefined way. Did the Russians actually change the result of the vote? No evidence that it did. Hard to say. No evidence they changed votes but they tried to interfere. No, it’s “undeniable” that they affected it. How did they affect it? Mueller showed how (another one that isn’t wearing well). By “sowing confusion” or “discord” or something. But maybe they did swing it: “targeted cyberattacks by hackers and trolls were decisive“. Somebody thinks Putin thinks they did. Anyway, Trump is his “puppet” and is doing Putin’s bidding. “Mueller Exposes Putin’s Hold Over U.S. President Trump“.
Next time it will be worse. “Putin helped Trump in 2016. What is he planning for 2020?” “Facebook: Russian trolls are back. And they’re here to meddle with 2020“. “Putin developing fake videos to foment 2020 election chaos: ‘It’s going to destroy lives’“. But not alone, this time: “Chinese Regime Bigger Threat to U.S. Elections Than Russia, Barr Says“. The Russian sowing machine is joined by the Chinese one. Poor Americans: duped so easily by so little – Putin weaponises everything: information, culture, vaccines and many more. How can an electorate bamboozled by Putin’s weaponisation of Pokemon Go and mesmerised by cute puppies, even though they come from the country that is “#1 in Education Rankings”, possibly be expected to exercise their franchise? Don’t ask someone in the line at Starbucks – Putin’s unwitting agents are everywhere. Childrens’ cartoons are one of his weapons to take over America minds.
American democracy, so strong, so long, so flimsy.
Freedom of speech is under attack
“But saying what you like is more accepted in the United States than anywhere else, according to recent research. Americans take great pride in the First Amendment and often argue that it gives free speech greater protection than in any other democracy. The now-crumbling Russiagate nonsense spawned an entire industry warning about Russian “disinformation”. Not only were the cunning Russians creeping into our elections, but they were creeping into our brains too. Perhaps the weirdest example of how stunningly powerful Russian disinformation was supposed to be is shown in the intelligence report on the supposed Russian involvement in the election: nearly half the space was devoted to a four-year old rant about RT. RT? Its budget is a mere fraction of the West’s media outlets and there is nothing to suggest it has much of an audience. It is, in fact, Americans talking about America in America; sure it’s propaganda but it’s a tiny baby next to the BBC, CNN and so on. Nonetheless: “Deeply divided and in the grip of partisan passions, U.S. society is slipping into a quagmire of Russian disinformation in which the Putin regime will find it very easy to create reality and destroy facts.” “The Threat of Fake News to Our Democracy” “China Launches a Fake News Campaign to Blame the U.S. for Coronavirus” “Cyber Warfare: The Threat From Nation States”
Something has to be done about the threat – “Existential threat“. Have to stop it on social media. Discussors in the NYT suggest how. Disinterested people like the Atlantic Council must take charge to help social media use “community standards”. So goodbye to the idea of an informed citizenry free to hear all points of view; the only way to defend freedom against this mighty Russian assault is to become subjects told what they may and may not see. It is striking that in the Cold War the Soviets blocked Western media but the West didn’t bother to block the Soviets. The present reversal tells you a lot about who’s more truthful, doesn’t it?
So little old RT blew up one of the great prides of American democracy that had survived wars and all sorts of crises. And so quickly, too
And finally we come to the “greatest military in the history of the world” aka “the best-trained, best-equipped and strongest military the world has ever known“. The USA spends far more than any other country – about a third of the world total in fact. It has 800 (or is it a thousand?) bases around the world; operates more fleet aircraft carriers than everybody else. Never lost a war (well Vietnam but, insisted Obama, “you won every major battle of that war. Every single one.”) The USA is the “ultimate military superpower“; it believes itself capable of “full-spectrum dominance“. The United States itself is as securely protected by geography as can be imagined – barring nuclear weapons, no power can or could threaten it. It is as secure as can be.
But so weak. A little decision by an agency few have heard of means Chinese dominance of future high technology. Space cyberwarfare? You can pretty well forget about that particular “spectrum”. Its military edge has “eroded to a dangerous degree” “in every domain of warfare”. “Our military is becoming outdated.” Could lose, would lose against China, could lose against Iran, or Russia, the military is in crisis, “no longer clearly superior“.
And so the world’s mightiest military is consumed with fear and doubt.
* * *
What are we outside observers to make of this alternating boasting and fearfulness?
I’m well aware of the motives. Saying that Trump is destroying everything and must be removed shows the demented state of politics of the USA; as Russiagate falls apart, they have to shout louder. Ranting about RT prevents admitting that the truthful part of the propaganda divide is on the other side. Shutting down discussion makes it easier to lie and cheat and steal. Shrieking that the USA is about to lose its military dominance is shilling for the weapons makers who pay you. All that is obvious.
But that’s not what fascinates me. A truly confident country would laugh at the suggestion that it’s on the edge of the precipice; a country that thinks it is, is not confident in itself. The “American Dream” has gone adrift in food stamps, opioids, prisons, the gig economy, super-rich. Recall Obama’s winning slogan “Hope and Change”; recall Sanders’ speeches about those left out of The Dream; recall Trump’s winning slogan: “Make America Great Again“. All these point to a gut knowledge of coming doom that cannot be eased by boasting.
The co-existence of blustering and tremulousness not only reveals an apprehension of failure but, in a country with the destructive power of the USA, it is frightening for the rest of us.
A Military Spouse’s Perspective on Fighting This Pandemic
“When he first came home, it was tough.” So Aleha, the wife of an airman in Colorado, told me. She was describing her family’s life since her husband, who lives with chronic depression, completed a partial hospitalization program and, in March, along with other members of his unit, entered a pandemic lockdown. He was now spending full days at home with her and their four children, which offered needed family time and rest from the daily rigors of training. Yet the military’s pandemic lockdown had its challenges as well. Aside from weekly online sessions with his therapist (the third the military had assigned him in so many weeks), Aleha was left to provide her husband with needed emotional support, while homeschooling their older children and caring for their toddler.
Her husband, like the other 1.3 million active-duty service members in the United States, faces what most of the rest of the country is facing: orders to stay at home and distance themselves from those outside their households to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 82,000 Americans and more than 295,000 people worldwide.
Yet there’s something distinctive about what members of the American military (whose suicide rates now surpass civilian ones) face: the stress posed by the threat of the most literal “front-line service” in these times of endless war and pandemic. They find themselves in uniform in an era of more frequent deployments and longer training days. Even in pre-pandemic times, they needed the support of psychiatrists and therapists like me and of their military community, including commanders whose default approach to mental-health problems has often been to coach them on what not to say to avoid being medically disqualified from duty.
Troops and their families have needed access to supportive social groups, including religious ones, antidepressants and other mood medications, and off-base mental-health providers who can counsel them in a more unbiased way. In many cases, they also need access to inpatient facilities for when the going gets really rough.
In the past months, daily life for our troops and their families has been transformed in previously almost unimaginable ways. For example, many new recruits are now quarantined when they arrive at military bases. Physical training is staggered and conducted in smaller groups. Given bans on movement, military spouses and kids scheduled to relocate (a common enough phenomenon in such a life) or families with a member deployed elsewhere in the world are living in striking states of isolation and uncertainty. They are increasingly unsure when they will see loved ones again or where they will live or study in the months to come. How starkly Covid-19 restrictions can affect already vulnerable members of the military was highlighted by the suicides of two students at the U.S. Air Force Academy last month. Those deaths came after that school’s leadership decided to place the 1,000 seniors still on campus in single rooms, the equivalent of solitary confinement, for weeks on end to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
It’s striking how little effort our military’s high command has put into understanding the effects of national crises on the health of military families. After all, though it’s seldom mentioned, such spouses and other family members have been subject to the same job losses, homeschooling issues, and lack of childcare as other Americans amid a spreading pandemic — and all of this has only been heightened by the loss of local social connections due to frequent moves.
In addition, as in the society at large, within military communities inequalities abound. The government has deemed both my husband, a naval officer, and Aleha’s husband “essential workers.” That means my husband must go into the Pentagon a few days a month right now to handle mysterious — to me, at least — matters related to our country’s nuclear arsenal. In return for this modest risk to his own and our family’s health, my “essential” husband is otherwise able to watch our kids almost full time while I pursue my work as a mental-health therapist from home. Our privilege in rank and pay places me in a very different position from the spouses of enlisted troops.
Social Distancing in a Mental-Health Crisis
Despite that position of privilege, given my work, I have a strong sense of how this national crisis has deepened existing social inequalities. In 2011, along with Catherine Lutz and Neta Crawford, I co-founded the Costs of War Project, a nonpartisan, multidisciplinary team of academic, health care, and legal experts who continue to analyze the costs of the U.S. decision to respond to the 9/11 attacks with full-scale military action, including the opportunities missed to invest in critical domestic areas like health care. I’m also a therapist who specializes in trauma-focused care for military veterans and their families, refugees, and immigrants to the United States, many of whom have been affected by armed conflicts in their homelands.
In addition, as a Navy spouse and mother of two young children who has completed four military-related moves in the course of my husband’s career as a submariner, I know what social isolation and uncertainty can feel like and how they can affect the human psyche. I’m aware as well that, as the Covid-19 crisis drags on and more troops fall ill, my spouse could be sent back to sea or to one of the many increasingly Covid-19-destabilized places where our military has a presence or is fighting what are increasingly pandemic wars.
And believe me, when you’re alone during a spouse’s deployment, even in the best of times, which these aren’t, the shit can hit the fan remarkably fast. In 2017, for instance, while my husband was at sea and out of contact, I contracted a nasty, vaccine-resistant version of the flu. I was single-parenting two toddlers and found myself Ubering with my children to the ER at three in the morning because I had a fast-rising fever that made walking, let alone lifting a baby, difficult.
A neighbor, the divorced wife of a Navy veteran, left Campbell’s soup on our doorstep but shied away from taking my children long enough for me to get care. This was at a moment when my husband’s ship commander (who could only be described as a “toxic leader”) threatened spouses who frequented anything but command-sanctioned Family Readiness Groups, formed to support troops during deployments. This made it that much less likely that wives like me in that military community would establish friendships strong enough to lead someone to take a chance on helping a sick friend.
If an experience as fleeting and minor as mine felt as trying as it did, then what have the family members of the crew of the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, more than 1,000 of whom tested positive for Covid-19 recently, experienced in their moments of need? During my own mini-drama with the flu, I continued to receive emails from the command’s volunteer ombudsperson, herself the wife of an enlisted sailor, reminding me of my “essential role” in national security. Spouses like me were not to even think about writing our husbands concerning our own problems, including illnesses, lest we distress them and so endanger national security. I wonder if the spouses of the infected crew members of the Roosevelt felt similarly “protected” by a naval leadership that refuses to disclose significant information about the well-being of their loved ones, even as they no doubt struggle with the spread of this virus, too.
In our gender- and class-stratified society, you are usually deemed “essential” only when those in power feel they truly need you. The rest of us non-essentials are seldom sufficiently protected, valued, or seen, and in truth that turns out to be the reality for most essentials as well. (If you don’t believe me, just check out the conditions in any meat-processing plant still open in your state.)
It’s no secret anymore that one casualty of our national “war” against this pandemic is a mental-health crisis on a staggering scale. Among therapists like myself, it’s widely known that being in a community where you feel you’re a contributor offers genuine protection when it comes to suicidal urges. Among people I know who work in low-paid staff jobs where social distancing is impossible, the difference between feeling depressed and hopeless and having the energy to get to the next day is often the conviction that you’re appreciated by coworkers and those you are helping.
One way of getting recognition for your struggles at work and elsewhere today is through group therapy and support. I’ve seen this firsthand at the community mental health clinic where I work, while also dealing with veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Speaking in face-to-face groups gives you the opportunity to feel supported even as you support others. And in the social-distancing era of Covid-19, because so much communication is nonverbal and Zoom therapy captures only talking heads, such methods may be losing their power.
This makes military spouses, as well as janitors, medical aides, nurses, doctors, and care workers of every sort who must encounter people with health crises on a daily basis, so vital to our current struggle against this virus. They provide medical help, of course, but also deeply needed support at a moment when social distancing has placed on pause many other outlets for it.
The Essential, the Vulnerable, and the Unseen
Much ink has been spilled recently on the heroic nature of such care workers, and for good reason. They’re up against an invisible pathogen and a president who empowers his supporters to shun the advice of medical professionals and scientists — including his own. A recent image of a masked retired surgeon with a homemade sign (“You have no ‘right’ to put us all at risk. Go home!”) standing in front of a car to register his disagreement with last month’s (largely white) anti-lockdown pro-Trump protests in Richmond, Virginia, catches the essence of this conflict.
I recently spoke with a young woman of color who cried when she saw that very image, because a family member of hers is a cafeteria worker in a military hospital ward treating Covid-19 patients. “People don’t realize how their protests affect my family,” she told me, explaining that they could be susceptible to any wave of Covid-19 infection resulting from such thoughtless protests. Yet none of her family members had either the knowledge, money, or connections to get the best health care, if infected. In an age of growing division between hospitals with ample funding, supplies, and staffing, and those where doctors, driven by a manufactured scarcity, are making arbitrary and discriminatory decisions about who deserves life-saving care, I understand her anguish.
As anti-poverty activist Liz Theoharis has pointed out, many of the tasks most vital to stemming this epidemic are going to be performed by low-paid workers with the least access to decent housing in which to socially distance themselves and to the money and social connections that would link them to the best medical advice. How can this country care for those the powers-that-be deem “essential,” like doctors and military personnel, when we don’t care for those who care for them? Similarly, you would have to include not just therapists like me, who find ourselves supporting an ever-more-isolated, stir-crazy, and stressed-out populace, but also the staff members and janitors who help us and clean our offices.
In the military, you would also have to include spouses homeschooling their kids (including those with special needs) while working or struggling to figure out how to pay their bills. Caring for all such people is important not just because the value of a human being should be absolute, whether you’re essential or not, but because, in this pandemic world of ours, devaluing anyone’s life will have consequences for us all.
The Costs of War, Pandemic-Version
In a recent op-ed, Costs of War Project co-directors Catherine Lutz and Neta Crawford argued that, no matter what President Trump says, we’re not in a “war” against the coronavirus. War did, however, play a crucial role in getting us into this mess.
Congress has allocated an average of $230 billion annually to waging our hopeless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while only a microscopic fraction of such moneys have been going into health care and education at home. Costs of War Project economist Heidi Garrett-Peltier showed that, had this country invested the same amount of money in health care rather than its forever wars, twice the number of jobs would have been created and that’s no small thing at a moment when the U.S. faces a dire shortage of doctors — more than 9,000 health-care workers have already been infected by Covid-19 — and physicians are being called out of retirement in order to serve.
If there’s one thing the Costs of War Project has made clear, it’s this: war is about the destruction of the very institutions it purports to protect. At a time when health care, education, and other social services, including food aid, are so badly needed, why is the military still being funded at astronomical levels, while other agencies are gutted?
My husband and I sometimes argue about the designation “essential” worker. How can he be called “essential” when we spend most of our days together on our Maryland farm as he collects his Department of Defense salary? He always reminds me that redundancy in government allows us to function under the worst of circumstances. If, for instance, Pentagon officials responsible for dealing with threats to our nuclear arsenal were to fall ill en masse or be killed in a sudden attack, others would be available to take their place.
Yet the obvious corollary to that argument has certainly not been applied to our health care infrastructure in these years and we’re paying for that today. If the president had not gutted the Department of Health and Human Services, perhaps there would have been enough people to ensure that our federal stockpiles of ventilators were properly maintained in preparation for a crisis we knew was coming. If the pandemic task force created under President Obama hadn’t been disbanded, perhaps we would have been better prepared for the spread of Covid-19. And if so much of our money hadn’t gone into the military-industrial complex, perhaps there would have been enough health-care workers to weather this crisis better.
As this invisible pathogen spreads across much of the world, what families like mine worry about is that our nation’s ever-expanding global conflicts will only continue to grow in scope and intensity, threatening food and medical supply chains. Then, in the worst of times, with our military infrastructure in increasing disarray, many more families, including possibly mine, could once again be called into armed conflict.
The Global War on Terror or GWOT was declared in the wake of 9/11 by President George W. Bush. It basically committed the United States to work to eliminate all “terrorist” groups worldwide, whether or not the countries being targeted agreed that they were beset by terrorists and whether or not they welcomed U.S. “help.” The GWOT was promoted with brain-dead expressions like “there’s a new sheriff in town” which, after the destruction of large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia, later morphed into the matrix of the God-awful belief that something called “American Exceptionalism” existed.
With a national election lurking on the horizon we will no doubt be hearing more about Exceptionalism from various candidates seeking to support the premise that the United States can interfere in every country on the planet because it is, as the expression goes, exceptional. That is generally how Donald Trump and hardline Republicans see the world, that sovereignty exercised by foreign governments is and should be limited by the reach of the U.S. military. Surrounding a competitor with military bases and warships is a concept that many in Washington are currently trying to sell regarding a suitable response to the Chinese economic and political challenge.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo puts it another way, that the U.S. is a “force for good,” but it was former Secretary Madeleine Albright who expressed the fantasy best, stating that “…if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.” She also said that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children through U.S. imposed sanctions was “…a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.” That is the basic credo of the liberal interventionists. Either way, the U.S. gets to make the decisions over life and death, which, since the GWOT began, have destroyed or otherwise compromised the lives of millions of people, mostly concentrated in Asia.
One aspect of the American heavy footprint that is little noted is the ruin of many formerly functioning countries that it brings with it. Iraq and Libya might have been dictatorships before the U.S. intervened, but they gave their people a higher standard of living and more security than has been the case ever since. Libya, destroyed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, had the highest standard of living in Africa. Iraq is currently one of the world’s most corrupt countries, so corrupt that there have been massive street demonstrations recently against the government’s inability to do anything good for the its own people. Electricity and water supplies are, for example, less reliable than before the U.S. intervened seventeen years ago.
Add Afghanistan to the “most corrupt” list after 19 years of American tutelage and one comes up with a perfect trifecta of countries that have been ruined. In a more rational world, one might have hoped that at least one American politician might have stood up and admitted that we have screwed up royally and it is beyond time to close the overseas bases and bring our troops home. Well, actually one did so in explicit terms, but that was Tulsi Gabbard and she was marginalized as soon as she started her run. Alluding to how Washington’s gift to the world has been corruption would be to implicitly deny American Exceptionalism, which is a no-no.
The failures of the American foreign policy since George W. Bush have been accredited to the so-called neoconservatives, who successfully hijacked the Bush presidency. Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Scooter Libby and the merry crowd at the American Enterprise Institute had a major ally in Vice President Dick Cheney and were pretty much able to run wild, creating a casus belli for invading Iraq that was largely fabricated and which was completely against actual U.S. interests in the region. Apparently no one ever told Wolfie that Iraq was the Arab bulwark against Iranian ambitions and that Tehran would be the only major beneficiary in taking down Saddam Hussein. Since Iraq, the chameleonlike neocons have had a prominent voice in the mainstream media and have also played major roles in the shaping the foreign and national security policies of the presidencies that have followed George W. Bush.
Ironically, neocons mostly were critics of Donald Trump the candidate because he talked “nonsense” about ending “useless wars” but they have been trickling back into his administration since he has made it clear that he is not about to end anything and might in fact be planning to attack Iran and maybe even Venezuela. The thought of new wars, particularly against Israel’s enemy Iran, makes neocons salivate.
The disastrous American occupation of Iraq from 2003-2004 was mismanaged by something called the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which might have been the most corrupt quasi-government body to be seen in recent history. At least $20 billion that belonged to the Iraqi people was wasted, together with hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Exactly how many billions of additional dollars were squandered, stolen, given away, or simply lost will never be known because the deliberate decision by the CPA not to meter oil exports means that no one will ever know how much revenue was generated during 2003 and 2004.
Some of the corruption grew out of the misguided neoconservative agenda for Iraq, which meant that a serious reconstruction effort came second to doling out the spoils to the war’s most fervent supporters. The CPA brought in scores of bright, young true believers who were nearly universally unqualified. Many were recruited through the Heritage Foundation or American Enterprise Institute websites, where they had posted their résumés. They were paid six-figure salaries out of Iraqi funds, and most served in 90-day rotations before returning home with their war stories. One such volunteer was former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer’s older brother Michael who, though utterly unqualified, was named director of private-sector development for all of Iraq.
The $20 billion disbursed during the 15-month proconsulship of the CPA came from frozen and seized Iraqi assets held in the U.S. Most of the money was in the form of cash, flown into Iraq on C-130s in huge plastic shrink-wrapped pallets holding 40 “cashpaks,” each cashpak having $1.6 million in $100 bills. Twelve billion dollars moved that way between May 2003 and June 2004, drawn from the Iraqi accounts administered by the New York Federal Reserve Bank. The $100 bills weighed an estimated 363 tons.
Once in Iraq, there was virtually no accountability over how the money was spent. There was also considerable money “off the books,” including as much as $4 billion from illegal oil exports. Thus, the country was awash in unaccountable cash. British sources report that the CPA contracts that were not handed out to cronies were sold to the highest bidder, with bribes as high as $300,000 being demanded for particularly lucrative reconstruction contracts. The contracts were especially attractive because no work or results were necessarily expected in return.
Many of its staff, like Michael Fleischer, were selected for their political affiliations rather than their knowledge of the jobs they were supposed to perform and many of them were not surprisingly neocons. One of them has now resurfaced in a top Pentagon position. She is Simone Ledeen, daughter of leading neoconservative Michael Ledeen. Unable to communicate in Arabic and with no relevant experience or appropriate educational training, she nevertheless became in 2003 a senior advisor for northern Iraq at the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad.
Simone has now been appointed deputy assistant secretary of defense (DASD) for the Middle East, which is the principal position for shaping Pentagon policy for that region. Post 9/11, Ledeen’s leading neocon father Michael was the source of the expressions “creative destruction” and “total war” as relating to the Muslim Middle East, where “civilian lives cannot be the total war’s first priority … The purpose of total war is to permanently force your will onto another people.” He is also a noted Iranophobe, blaming numerous terrorist acts on that country even when such claims were ridiculous. He might also have been involved in the generation in Italy of the fabricated Iraq Niger uranium documents that contributed greatly to the march to war with Saddam.
Apparently Simone’s gene pool makes her qualified to lead the Pentagon into the Middle East, where she no doubt has views that make her compatible with the Trump/Pompeo current spin on the Iranian threat. The neocon Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) gushed “Simone Ledeen has worked at the Pentagon & Treasury and at a major bank. Exactly what we should want for such a position.” Of course, FDD, the leading advocate of war with Iran, also wants someone who will green light destroying the Persians.
Ledeen, a Brandeis graduate with an MBA from an Italian university, worked in and out of government in various advisory capacities before joining Standard Chartered Bank. One of her more interesting roles was as an advisor to General Michael Flynn in Afghanistan at a time when Flynn was collaborating with her father on a book that eventually came out in 2016 entitled The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and its Allies. The book asserts that there is a global war going on in which “We face a working coalition that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua.” The book predictably claims that Iran is at the center of what is an anti-American alliance.
The extent to which Simone has absorbed her father’s views and agrees with them can, of course, be questioned, but her appointment is yet another indication, together with the jobs previously given to John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Elliot Abrams, that the Trump Administration is intent on pursuing a hardline aggressive policy in the Middle East and elsewhere. It is also an unfortunate indication that the neoconservatives, pronounced dead after the election of Trump, are back and resuming their drive to obtain the positions of power that will permit endless war, starting with Iran.
Just three years ago, Americans had a neutral view of China (and nine years ago it was strongly favorable). Today, the same polls show that 66 percent of Americans dislike the country.
As the U.S. military turns its attention from the Middle East to conflict with Russia and China, American war planners are advising that the United States greatly expand its own online “psychological operations” against Beijing.
A new report from the Financial Times details how top brass in Washington are strategizing a new Cold War with China, describing it less as World War III and more as “kicking each other under the table.” Last week, General Richard Clarke, head of Special Operations Command, said that the “kill-capture missions” the military conducted in Afghanistan were inappropriate for this new conflict, and Special Operations must move towards cyber influence campaigns instead.
Military analyst David Maxwell, a former Special Ops soldier himself, advocated for a widespread culture war, which would include the Pentagon commissioning what he called “Taiwanese Tom Clancy” novels, intended to demonize China and demoralize its citizens, arguing that Washington should “weaponize” China’s one-child policy by bombarding Chinese people with stories of the wartime deaths of their only children, and therefore, their bloodline.
A not dissimilar tactic was used during the first Cold War against the Soviet Union, where the CIA sponsored a huge network of artists, writers and thinkers to promote liberal and social-democratic critiques of the U.S.S.R., unbeknownst to the public, and, sometimes, even the artists themselves.
In the space of only a few months, the Trump administration has gone from praising China’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to blaming them for the outbreak, even suggesting they pay reparations for their alleged negligence. Just three years ago, Americans had a neutral view of China (and nine years ago it was strongly favorable). Today, the same polls show that 66 percent of Americans dislike China, with only 26 percent holding a positive opinion of the country. Over four-in-five people essentially support a full-scale economic war with Beijing, something the president threatened to enact last week.
The corporate press is certainly doing their part as well, constantly framing China as an authoritarian threat to the United States, rather than a neutral force or even a potential ally, leading to a surge in anti-Chinese racist attacks at home.
Retooling for an intercontinental war
Although analysts have long warned that the United States gets its “ass handed to it” in hot war simulations with China or even Russia, it is not clear whether this is a sober assessment or a self-serving attempt to increase military spending. In 2002, the U.S. conducted a war game trial invasion of Iraq, where it was catastrophically defeated by Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper, commanding Iraqi forces, leading to the whole experiment being nixed halfway through. Yet the subsequent invasion was carried out without massive loss of American lives.
The recently published Pentagon budget request for 2021 makes clear that the United States is retooling for a potential intercontinental war with China and/or Russia. It asks for $705 billion to “shift focus from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a greater emphasis on the types of weapons that could be used to confront nuclear giants like Russia and China,” noting that it requires “more advanced high-end weapon systems, which provide increased standoff, enhanced lethality and autonomous targeting for employment against near-peer threats in a more contested environment.” The military has recently received the first batch of low-yield nuclear warheads that experts agree blurs the line between conventional and nuclear conflict, making an all out example of the latter far more likely.
There has been no meaningful pushback from the Democrats. Indeed, Joe Biden’s team has suggested that the United States’ entire industrial policy should revolve around “competing with China” and that their “top priority” is dealing with the supposed threat Beijing poses. The former vice-president has also attacked Trump from the right on China, trying to present him as a tool of Beijing, bringing to mind how Clinton portrayed him in 2016 as a Kremlin asset. (Green Party presidential frontrunner Howie Hawkins has promised to cut the military budget by 75 percent and to unilaterally disarm).
Nevertheless, voices raising concern about a new arms race are few and far between. Veteran deproliferation activist Andrew Feinstein is one exception, saying:
“Our governments spend over 1.75 trillion dollars every year on wars, on weapons, on conflict…If we could deploy that sort of resource to address the coronavirus crisis that we’re currently living through, imagine what else we could be doing. Imagine how we could be fighting the climate crisis, how we could be addressing global poverty, inequality. Our priority should never be war; our priorities need to be public health, the environment, and human well being.”
However, if the government is going to launch a new psychological war against China, it is unlikely antiwar voices like Feinstein’s will feature much in the mainstream press.
Across the globe, as scientists and doctors are working a breakneck speed to develop safe vaccines and therapies for the Covid-19 virus, modern-day magicians and voodoo purveyors are pushing all forms of quackery to swindle and sway an unsuspecting public. The most notorious wizard of woo is Donald Trump, who, on February 28, said of Covid-19, “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
Trump, like all the snake oil salesmen and carnival barkers who have preceded him, was dead wrong in his magical prognostication. As of May 16, there were 4,564, 286 cases of Covid-19, with the United States leading all other nations with 1,443,397 of the cases. Worldwide there were 308,211 deaths attributed to the virus, with the United States, again, topping the mortality list at 87,568 cases. Some U.S. government scientists believe that the U.S. death totals were manipulated to show a lower number of fatalities by not counting infected individuals who died in their homes.
There has always been a conflict between scientists and magicians. But that conflict largely began dissipating during the age of the Renaissance. The one major difference between science and magic is that science exists, and magic does not. However, for the weak-minded who do not accept reason and logic, magic is as real as unicorns, elves, and leprechauns. For those on the far-right of politics, elves and unicorns are replaced by secretive cabals who they believe run the world. These are often personified as bankers, Jews, and even reptilian extraterrestrials.
At the front lines in the current battle against both Covid-19 and the believers in miraculous but bogus cures are the public health officials. These officials, all outstanding professionals in their respective fields of medicine and science, have been demonized by those like Trump and his supporters, as well as by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his own brand of anti-science street performers and roadway bullies. Added to this menagerie of science and medicine disbelievers are far-right militias and goon squads who have not only threatened public health officers but U.S. state governors and other regional and local officials around the world.
In what amounts to a dystopian reality, where science and medicine is discarded in favor of dubious, dangerous, and potentially lethal Covid “cures” and “treatments,” including hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin antibiotic, household bleach and disinfectants, cannabis, heartburn medication, liquor, zinc and Vitamin C supplements, mouthwash, ultraviolet and sun light, aspirin, lemon juice, mangos, bananas, garlic, onions, bittergourd, turmeric, fennel tea, avocado and mint tea, and even more bizarre remedies, including volcanic ash, hamala herb incense, cocaine, chloroform, salt mineral solutions, cow and camel urine, and herbal concoctions from Sri Lanka, Brazil, Madagascar, Iran, India, and the Philippines, and Venezuela. These and other so-called remedies are in the realm of voodoo, alchemy, wizardry, and magic. Yet, in a world where the human DNA has been mapped, organs are successfully transplanted, and vaccines have, heretofore, been developed for such scourges as polio, smallpox, rubella, typhus, cholera, and other diseases, leaders like Trump, Bolsonaro, and others have not only disputed medical expertise but have moved to fire national public health officials.
Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 (it remains unknown where it first appeared, with evidence suggesting it was either Wuhan, China; the French Alpine region; or northern Italy), Trump emasculated America’s pandemic response capability. In 2018, Trump abolished the National Security Council’s Global Health Security and Biodefense unit at the White House, which was headed by pandemic expert, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer. That same year, Trump also fired White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, who had overseen national preparedness for a pandemic.
Also in 2018, the Trump administration slashed the budget for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) office maintained at the U.S. embassy in Beijing and which liaised with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the biosecurity level 4 facility at which Trump and his fellow conspiracy theorists have falsely suggested the Covid-19 virus was developed as a bio-weapon. Also cut from the U.S. government’s public health presence in the Chinese capital in 2018 was a U.S. Department of Agriculture specialist who monitored animal diseases. Covid-19 is a zoonotic virus that is believed to have been transmitted from bats via the pangolin lizard, to humans.
In April 2020, Trump fired Dr. Rick Bright, the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the government’s top expert on Covid vaccine development. Bright disputed the effectiveness and safety of Trump’s magical cure of hydroxychloroquine. It was a battle between science and magic, and magic won.
Making matters even worse, Trump ordered the firing of the acting Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, Christi Grimm, who identified critical shortages of Covid-19 test kits, protective gear for health workers, and ventilators. Trump also froze U.S. government contributions to the World Health Organization (WHO) and authorized their re-direction to evangelical Christian medical charities like Samaritans’ Purse, whose commitment to actual public health concerns is dubious, at best.
After the outbreak of Covid-19, Trump threatened to fire Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. In late April, Trump re-tweeted a call for the firing of the long-serving director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci joined a list of other public health officials who had been subjected to death threats from Trump’s far-right, rabid gun-loving, and vigilante-prone supporters. Joining Fauci on the list of those receiving death threats were Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health; Brett Peppin, the environmental health director for Boone County, northwest of Indianapolis; Dr. Adi Pour, the Douglas County, Nebraska health director; Pennsylvania health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine; Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health Dr. Kathleen Toomey; and Dr. Michael Osterholm, the University of Minnesota’s Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.
Other Trump supporters, egged on by Trump’s opposition to state governors’ lockdown orders to stem the Covid spread, threatened the lives of Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel of Michigan, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf or those of their families. All the governors but DeWine are Democrats. Trump has supported the far-right anti-lockdown groups associated with the various would-be assassins.
Development of a Covid-19 vaccine will similarly bring out the anti-science lunatics who are known as “anti-vaxxers.” Some of these individuals, whose anti-vaccination beliefs are based on dodgy research by unqualified individuals, are also prone to committing violent acts. For example, Colorado Democratic state Representative Kyle Mullica, author of a legislative bill on childhood vaccinations. Mullica received e-mails that threatened to burn his house down, with him and his family in it, as well as hanging and dismembering him. Mullica’s Republican co-sponsor, Representative Matt Soper, was also on the receiving end of threats from what he called “bullies and thugs.” Instead of being viewed as saviors of children and adults who would have succumbed to polio, vaccine developers Drs. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin are viewed by anti-vaxxers, many of whom also add anti-Semitism to their repertoires, as diabolical scientists.
In Brazil, Bolsonaro, nicknamed the “Tropical Trump” by supporters and opponents, alike, scoffed at the public health dangers posed by Covid-19 and suggested repeatedly that it was nothing more than a common cold. Bolsonaro publicly broke social distancing restrictions imposed by state governors and, like Trump, criticized lockdowns. Bolsonaro also fired, in quick succession, two health ministers, Dr. Luiz Henrique Mandetta and Dr. Nelson Teich, both of whom disagreed with Bolsonaro’s stances on opposing lockdowns and supporting the use of hydroxychloroquine as a remedy. In fact, as with the root cause of the friction between Trump and Fauci, most Brazilians had a better opinion of both health ministers than they did of Bolsonaro.
Also facing right-wing threats is Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam. The threats against Tam are also tinged with anti-Asian racism since she was born in Hong Kong. Scotland’s Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, required police protection after she received death threats. Similarly, Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann and his family received death threats amid his handling of the pandemic.
The war between science and “magical woo” has not been limited to the United States and Brazil. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has also questioned the threat of Covid and actually said that health care workers in his country who died after catching the virus were “lucky” because they “died for the country.”
It is almost inconceivable that scientists today are dealing with the same sort of ignorance that Muhammad ibn Zakariyā Rāzī, Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Servetus, Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Charles Darwin, and Gerard Domagk faced in their eras. The prestigious medical journal “The Lancet,” published an editorial that called Trump’s response to Covid-19 as being “obsessed with magic bullets — vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear,” as well as “inconsistent and incoherent.” The editorial also called for Trump’s defeat in the November election. Indeed, the world is re-entering the era of magic and voodoo.
Chinese General Qiao Liang argues, ‘If we have to dance with the wolves, we should not dance to the rhythm of the United States’
In 1999, Qiao Liang, then a senior air force colonel in the People’s Liberation Army, and Wang Xiangsui, another senior colonel, caused a tremendous uproar with the publication of Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America.
Unrestricted Warfare was essentially the PLA’s manual for asymmetric warfare: an updating of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. At the time of original publication, with China still a long way from its current geopolitical and geo-economic clout, the book was conceived as laying out a defensive approach, far from the sensationalist “destroy America” added to the title for US publication in 2004.
Now the book is available in a new edition and Qiao Liang, as a retired general and director of the Council for Research on National Security, has resurfaced in a quite revealing interview originally published in the current edition of the Hong Kong-based magazine Zijing (Bauhinia).
General Qiao is not a Politburo member entitled to dictate official policy. But some analysts I talked with agree that the key points he makes in a personal capacity are quite revealing of PLA thinking. Let’s review some of the highlights.
Dancing with wolves
The bulk of his argument concentrates on the shortcomings of US manufacturing: “How can the US today want to wage war against the biggest manufacturing power in the world while its own industry is hollowed out?”
General Qiao dismisses the possibility that Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and other Asian nations may replace China’s cheap workforce: “Think about which of these countries has more skilled workers than China. What quantity of medium and high level human resources was produced in China in these past 30 years? Which country is educating over 100 million students at secondary and university levels? The energy of all these people is still far from being liberated for China’s economic development.”
He acknowledges US military power even in times of epidemic and economic difficulties is always capable of “interfering directly or indirectly in the Taiwan straits question” and finding an excuse to “block and sanction China and exclude it from the West.” He adds that, “as a producing country, we still cannot satisfy our manufacturing industry with our own resources and rely on our own markets to consume our products.”
In consequence, he argues, it’s a “good thing” for China to engage in the cause of reunification, “but it’s always a bad thing if it’s done at the wrong time. We can only act at the right time. We cannot allow our generation to commit the sin of interrupting the process of the Chinese nation’s renaissance.”
General Qiao counsels, “Don’t think that only territorial sovereignty is linked to the fundamental interests of a nation. Other kinds of sovereignty – economic, financial, defense, food, resources, biological and cultural sovereignty – are all linked to the interests and survival of nations and are components of national sovereignty.”
In a graphic formulation, General Qiao thinks that, “if we have to dance with the wolves, we should not dance to the rhythm of the US. We should have our own rhythm, and even try to break their rhythm, to minimize its influence. If American power is brandishing its stick, it’s because it has fallen into a trap.”
In a nutshell, for General Qiao, “China first of all must show proof of strategic determination to solve the Taiwan question, and then strategic patience. Of course, the premise is that we should develop and maintain our strategic force to solve the Taiwan question by force at any moment.”
Gloves are off
Now compare General Qiao’s analysis with the by now obvious geopolitical and geo-economic fact that Beijing will respond tit for tat to any hybrid war tactics deployed by the United States government. The gloves are definitely off.
The gold standard expression has come in a no-holds barred Global Times editorial: “We must be clear that coping with US suppression will be the key focus of China’s national strategy. We should enhance cooperation with most countries. The US is expected to contain China’s international front lines, and we must knock out this US plot and make China-US rivalry a process of US self-isolation.”
So for all practical purposes, Beijing has now publicly unveiled its strategy to counteract US President Donald Trump’s “We could cut off the whole relationship” kind of assertions.
A toxic racism-meets-anti-communism matrix is responsible for the predominant anti-Chinese sentiment across the US, encompassing at least 66% of the whole population. Trump instinctively seized it – and repackaged it as his re-election campaign theme, fully approved by Steve Bannon.
The strategic objective is to go after China across the full spectrum. The tactical objective is to forge an anti-China front across the West: another instance of encirclement, hybrid war-style, focused on economic war.
This will imply a concerted offensive, trying to enforce embargoes and trying to block regional markets to Chinese companies. Lawfare will be the norm. Even freezing Chinese assets in the US is not a far-fetched proposition anymore.
Every possible Silk Road branch-out – on the energy front, ports, the Health Silk Road, digital interconnection – will be strategically targeted. Those who were dreaming that Covid-19 could be the ideal pretext for a new Yalta – uniting Trump, Xi and Putin – may rest in peace.
“Containment” will go into overdrive. A neat example is Admiral Philip Davidson – head of the Indo-Pacific Command – asking for $20 billion for a “robust military cordon” from California to Japan and down the Pacific Rim, complete with “highly survivable, precision-strike networks” along the Pacific Rim and “forward-based, rotational joint forces” to counteract the “renewed threat we face from great power competition.”
Davidson argues that, “without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China and Russia will be emboldened to take action in the region to supplant US interests.”
Watch People’s Congress
From the point of view of large swathes of the Global South, the current, extremely dangerous incandescence, or New Cold War, is mostly interpreted as the progressive ending of the Western coalition’s hegemony over the whole planet.
Still, scores of nations are being asked, bluntly, by the hegemon to position themselves once again in a “you’re with us or against us” global war on terror imperative.
At the annual session of the National People’s Congress, starting this Friday, we will see how China will be dealing with its top priority: to reorganize domestically after the pandemic.
For the first time in 35 years, Beijing will be forced to relinquish its economic growth targets. This also means that the objective of doubling GDP and per capita income by 2020 compared with 2010 will also be postponed.
What we should expect is absolute emphasis on domestic spending – and social stability – over a struggle to become a global leader, even if that’s not totally overlooked.
After all, President Xi Jinping made it clear earlier this week that a “Covid-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available,” won’t be subjected to Big Pharma logic, but “will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.” The Global South is paying attention.
Internally, Beijing will boost support for state-owned enterprises that are strong in innovation and risk-taking. China always defies predictions by Western “experts.” For instance, exports rose 3.5% in April, when the experts were forecasting a decline of 15.7%. The trade surplus was $45.3 billion, when experts were forecasting only $6.3 billion.
Beijing seems to identify clearly the extending gap between a West, especially the US, that’s plunging into de facto New Great Depression territory with a China that’s about to rekindle economic growth. The center of gravity of global economic power keeps moving, inexorably, toward Asia.
Hybrid war? Bring it on.
Anyone who has paid attention to history knows that political change requires some sort of catalyst to happen. So one could logically expect that the Covid-19 Pandemic would be the perfect excuse for politicians to take action. However, it takes time for the chemical reaction to start working its magic and only now are we starting to see some major actions being taken by Congress for our “benefit”.
Patriot Act 2: the Revenge of Unconstitutionality
Interestingly enough, the Patriot Act is on its way to being reauthorized and naturally expanded while the nation is conveniently on lockdown. Very often the American Right will scream to the YouTube hills that the Constitution is being ripped in half by every move the other side makes. This over exaggeration has a “boy who cried wolf” effect making it seem cliché every time journalists/pundits rage over something being “unconstitutional”. But this time dear friends, Congress is actually defecating on constitutional principles and Right Wing pundits are not over inflating this issue.
The new updated Patriot Act (as it stands today) will allow the government to collect Americans’ web-browsing data without a warrant. The expression “we have sunk to a new low” seems like the appropriate response to such cowardly madness.
So if this Patriot Act update pack goes through, then the 4th Amendment has essentially faded off into the sunset probably never to be seen again. If the government can dive into your personal data without a warrant then what is the point of having warrants at all or privacy? This is more proof that the principles of the Enlightenment are being (or have been) forgotten as only an intellectual minority understands how just how fundamental maintaining a system of warrant issuance is as the only means the government should have to “spy” on an individual. It seems obvious to say, but shouldn’t one be put under the government’s scrutiny for taking actions that rouse enough suspicion for a neutral judge to “okay” a warrant? This seems like a great policy, but then again I was born in the Cold War when American principles were still discussed, kind of understood and seemed to matter.
Like any ideology or religion if we all universally forget the ideas of the Constitution then they will no longer become valid. The 4th Amendment is starting to look like Thor – something cool that people used to believe in long ago that has become a cartoon empty version of itself in Hollywood movies.
It also needs to be stated just how weak the logic of expanding the Patriot Act is under pandemic conditions. The original project was put in place to in theory prevent another 9/11 type event from happening. Essentially, mass surveillance was offered as a solution to preventing terrorism on U.S. soil. Since the Coronavirus (as of now) is officially a natural phenomenon, then how could surveillance possibly help? When Patriot Act 1.0 came into being the “ticking time bomb” argument was made that the government needs to be able to act quickly and have no barriers in their fight against terrorism or else we are doomed to another set of planes hitting buildings. This logic is weak but it makes some sense, but how can mass surveillance stop a natural phenomenon? If there was total spying or zero spying on the American people would it really affect the appearance of a new plague?
Unless there is an alternative theory to the origin of Covid-19 in Congress that they are keeping from us, then no amount government overreach can prevent this type of pandemic from happening again. How can knowledge of our browser history prevent Corona 2.0? It can’t, it won’t, but that means nothing, we have a crisis and that is all that is needed for action.
When in doubt, debt your way out
The Coronavirus Plague has damaged economies all over the world. It has been a major punch in the face to American financial stability and the stimulus money sent to Americans is a logical response. Many people have lost their jobs or face abnormal hardships. Everyone pays taxes so in times of trouble we should expect to get our money’s worth from the state. Now drafting a 347,000 word $3 trillion Congressional spending spree is not something we should expect as a solution to the Corona Crisis especially when one-third of it is going to go state and local governments to compensate for their inefficiency, not the American masses. Obviously this is all designed to bail out those lovely Democrat initiatives that cost lots of taxpayer money yet yield little for society, because if they were so important they would remain “essential” and funded even when the coffers look bare.
It is unclear whether this titanic bill that approaches the annual spending of the United States (which gets the nation further and further into debt as is) will actually go through, but it is the perfect example of the exploitation of a crisis for one’s own gain.
Pelosi and crew are surely going to try to use the current catalyst to save all their programs and keep America on the track that they have routed it on. If the idea really were to help the American people then why not just take the $3 trillion and give every American roughly $9,000. That would help everyone, both MAGA hat wearing factory workers and interpretive dance LGBT activists alike. If the mission really were to provide a solution it could be done in a page or two of text so everyone could understand it, make sense of it and get the help they need. But this is not the objective. This proposal is gargantuan in size so that way everyone can get their piece of the corruption pie in the fine print and keep the pet projects of the Democrats afloat by saving bankrupt but loyal state and local governments.
Stay tuned, the late night horror show will continue.
There is certainly going to be more and more disgusting exploitation of this crisis in the next few weeks/months. The Covid-19 iron is still glowing and everyone is going to strike while they can. New corrupt plans are probably being discussed over brandy as you read this because the economy has and will continue to suffer from this unprecedented event that we are all living through.
Sadly, our last line of defense is the strange real estate billionaire who happens to head the executive branch at the moment. Vetoes can be overridden, but Trump needs to send a signal that his answers to the crisis are the ones that are going to happen. He can manipulate the Mainstream Media to get what he wants, and his light being shone onto a topic can be game changing. Sadly, thus far Trump has been focused more on #Obamagate than either of the two issues presented in this piece, meaning that his ego issues could allow the 4th Amendment to die right in front of our faces. In contrast however, at some point he will probably fight the $3 trillion spending bill because Pelosi is involved in it and she is a bad lady so maybe there is some hope.
The possibility that Trump will not chicken out this time, and rather will challenge the Security State looms large since he felt personally under attack.
Seldom mentioned among the motives behind the persistent drumming on alleged Russian interference was an over-arching need to help the Security State hide their tracks.
The need for a scapegoat to blame for Hillary Clinton’s snatching defeat out of the jaws victory also played a role; as did the need for the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex (MICIMATT) to keep front and center in the minds of Americans the alleged multifaceted threat coming from an “aggressive” Russia. (Recall that John McCain called the, now disproven, “Russian hacking” of the DNC emails an “act of war.”)
But that was then. This is now.
Though the corporate media is trying to bury it, the Russiagate narrative has in the past few weeks finally collapsed with the revelation that CrowdStrike had no evidence Russia took anything from the DNC servers and that the FBI set a perjury trap for Gen. Michael Flynn. There was already the previous government finding that there was no collusion between Trump and Russia and the indictment of a Russian troll farm that supposedly was destroying American democracy with $100,000 in Facebook ads was dropped after the St. Petersburg defendants sought discovery.
All that’s left is to discover how this all happened.
Attorney General William Barr, and U.S. Attorney John Durham, whom Barr commissioned to investigate this whole sordid mess seem intent on getting to the bottom of it. The possibility that Trump will not chicken out this time, and rather will challenge the Security State looms large since he felt personally under attack.
Writing on the Wall
Given the diffident attitude the Security State plotters adopted regarding hiding their tracks, Durham’s challenge, with subpoena power, is not as formidable as were he, for example, investigating a Mafia family.
Plus, former NSA Director Adm. Michael S. Rogers reportedly is cooperating. The handwriting is on the wall. It remains to be seen what kind of role in the scandal Barack Obama may have played.
But former directors James Comey, James Clapper, and John Brennan, captains of Obama’s Security State, can take little solace from Barr’s remarks Monday to a reporter who asked about Trump’s recent claims that top officials of the Obama administration, including the former president had committed crimes. Barr replied:
“As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man. Our concerns over potential criminality is focused on others.”
In a more ominous vein, Barr gratuitously added that law enforcement and intelligence officials were involved in “a false and utterly baseless Russian collusion narrative against the president. It was a grave injustice, and it was unprecedented in American history.”
Meanwhile, the corporate media have all been singing from the same sheet since Trump had the audacity a week ago to coin yet another “-gate” — this time “Obamagate.” Leading the apoplectic reaction in corporate media, Saturday’s Washington Post offered a pot-calling-the-kettle-black pronouncement by its editorial board entitled “The absurd cynicism of ‘Obamagate”?
The outrage voiced by the Post called to mind disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok’s indignant response to criticism of the FBI by candidate Trump, in a Oct. 20, 2016 text exchange with FBI attorney Lisa Page:
Strzok: I am riled up. Trump is a f***ing idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer.
Strzok – I CAN’T PULL AWAY, WHAT THE F**K HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY …
Page– I don’t know. But we’ll get it back. We’re America. We rock.
Strzok– Donald just said “bad hombres”
Strzok– Trump just said what the FBI did is disgraceful.
Less vitriolic, but incisive commentary came from widely respected author and lawyer Glenn Greenwald on May 14, four days after Trump coined “Obamagate”: (See “System Update with Glenn Greenwald – The Sham Prosecution of Michael Flynn”).
For a shorter, equally instructive video of Greenwald on the broader issue of Russia-gate, see this clip from a March 2019 Democracy Now!-sponsored debate he had with David Cay Johnston titled, “As Mueller Finds No Collusion, Did Press Overhype Russiagate? Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston”:
(entire debate is worth listening to). I found one of the comments below the Democracy Now! video as big as a bummer as the commentator did:
“I think this is one of the most depressing parts about the whole situation. In their dogmatic pushing for this false narrative, the Russiagaters might have guaranteed Trump a second term. They have done more damage to our democracy than Russia ever has done and will do.” (From “Clamity2007”)
In any case, Johnston, undaunted by his embarrassment at the hands of Greenwald, is still at it, and so is the avuncular Frank Rich — both of them some 20 years older than Greenwald and set in their evidence-impoverished, media-indoctrinated ways.
Deranged by Trump
Sadly, as is apparently the case with Covid:19, older people seem particularly susceptible to what has been called Trump Derangement Syndrome—the notion that Trump is uniquely evil, while, for instance, George W. Bush, who illegally invaded Iraq—what Nuremberg termed the worst war crime, the crime of aggression—was not.
Johnston now has his own website: DCReport.org. A piece dated May 8, bears the title “How Barr Is Advancing Trump’s Quest to Become President For Life.”
Adducing “evidence” of this purported effort by Barr, Johnston indicates that he does not like what Barr’s Justice Department did in moving to drop the charges against Gen. Michael Flynn. He does not like it, not one bit! Here are some additional gems from Johnston’s latest:
“— Flynn and his company were on Putin’s payroll
– Flynn made himself susceptible to blackmail by taking Russian money and lying about it.”
Johnston drivels on:
“Trump denies the Russians helped him become president. But America’s intelligence agencies, the bi-partisan chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the 418-page Mueller report and emails from none other than Donald Trump Jr. all make clear the Kremlin helped Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. The only issue on which the facts are not complete was whether Trump was a passive beneficiary or he knowingly worked with the Kremlin, whether obliquely or hand-in-glove.
Just weeks after assuming office Trump held an unannounced meeting in the Oval Office with Russia’s foreign minister and Russian ambassador and a “photographer” for the Kremlin-owned Tass news agency. The Russians revealed the meeting. They also disclosed that Trump gave them “sources and methods” intelligence, which is closely guarded to protect human and technological assets.
This latest abuse of power to protect a criminal crony who was on Vladimir Putin’s payroll and a secret foreign agent is more than an impeachable offense. Trump, Barr and Shea also sent a clear message: Team Trump harbors no regard for the rule of law, the foundation of our liberties and democratic freedoms.”
Frank Rich Not Immune
David Cay Johnston enjoys the company of other erstwhile respected pundits, notably Frank Rich. In younger days, both wrote for The New York Times, where, sadly, writers of all ages are showing acute susceptibility to the syndrome.
In a New York magazine article by Frank Rich performsing what he passes off as analysis of the recent statement of President Donald Trump about Obamagate. Read it and lament over what has become of yet another formerly respectable journalist.
“Obamagate’, in Trump’s brilliant coinage, is a conspiracy so vast, a crime so dastardly, that it should guarantee his reelection as soon as he figures out how to tell voters exactly what it is. As best as I can glean from his spokespeople on the Rupert Murdoch payroll — at Fox News, the New York Post, and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal — it was a coup that involved both installing Trump in the White House so that he could preside over the most corrupt and incompetent administration in American history and propelling a beloved national hero, the Kremlin sycophant and former Obama official Michael Flynn, to prison. For a moment, it seemed that at least that second goal might be thwarted by Bill Barr’s effort to hand Flynn a Get Out of Jail Free card. But thanks to the deep-state intervention of a U.S. district judge in Washington this week, Flynn may end up behind bars after all. Obamagate Accomplished!”
Has Rich lost it? Is this dismissive gibberish meant to be facetious, sarcastic? Is it a pedantic attempt at reductio ad absurdum? — like Saturday’s Washington Post editorial board pronouncement of “ The absurd cynicism of ‘Obamagate’”.
Does Rich keep up with the news, or is he now filing from Joe Biden’s basement? Is Consortium News included in his diet of reading? Quick. Someone tell Rich that “Russia-Trump collusion” and the far-fetched charges that the Russian Internet Research Agency helped Trump become president — as well as the tall tale that Russia “hacked” the DNC emails — have all collapsed.
My father, for many years a professor at Fordham Law School, used to speak jocularly of another all-too-familiar syndrome he nonetheless took seriously: he called it “the age of statutory senility.” As Chancellor of the Board of Regents, he resigned well before he reached that age, offering his own example to superannuated Board colleagues (to no avail).
These days, I think he would probably consider 70 the age of “statutory senility”, especially were he able to read the blather of once respected journalists — like Frank Rich, whose work he used to enjoy. Let’s make sure someone is working on a vaccine for the Trump Syndrome.
The musical ‘West Side Story’ was produced over sixty years ago, and the lyrics by Stephen Sondheim still strike a chord, most notably in the song ‘America’ in which Puerto Ricans look at both social sides of their New York district. One outstanding scene is when the female chorus sings “Life is all right in America”, to which the males riposte is “If you’re a White in America” — and so it has been for many non-whites since the slaves began to arrive before the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
In spite of the Declaration that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” black people continued in slavery until 1865, when, at least notionally, they were granted freedom. But their status remained most definitely that of inequality for a very long time, and many would contend that much discrimination continues to this day — none more strongly, at the moment, than the family of Mr Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was shot dead by two white men on February 23. And there is widespread feeling in the world and even in the U.S. that racism is regrettably prevalent in America.
Of course, there have been dedicated U.S. citizens over the years who have tried hard to eradicate one of the most foul characteristics of mankind. Not the least of these was President Lyndon Johnson whose sentiments were, to put it kindly, ambivalent. He referred to blacks as “niggers,” yet pushed through the 1964 Civil Rights Act, saying at the signing that “We believe that all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty. Yet millions are being deprived of those blessings. Not because of their own failures, but because of the colour of their skin.” It’s probable that he genuinely believed what he said, but in his day and age it was common for white people to use the word ‘nigger’ — and in many circles in the U.S., especially in the South, the word continues to be used.
Which brings us to the State of Georgia, where the black mayor of the town of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, had imposed limitations on movement in the area because of the spread of Covid-19, and was assailed by a tweet message reading “Nigger, just shut up and RE-OPEN ATLANTA!” (It is notable that most of the mainstream media refrained from reprinting or even referring to the word “nigger” as such, and ABC News, for example, reported that the mayor was “addressed by a racial slur,” although CNN was courageous enough to describe it as “the N-word.”)
Arbery was not killed in Atlanta but near his home in the town of Brunswick which has a population of 16,765 of whom 9,400, or 56 percent, are black. (6,300 whites.) Georgia is now solidly Republican, having ditched the Democrats in 1964 after approval of the Civil Rights Act by Democrat President Johnson (although voters supported Georgia-born Jimmy Carter and, very narrowly, Bill Clinton in their presidential campaigns). It might be wondered why the Republicans are to the fore in such a region, but the racial composition of the state as a whole is given as white 59.04% and black 31.46%, so not only is it unsurprising that the place is in Republican hands but also disturbing that of 305 COVID-19 patients in eight Georgia hospitals, 247 were black — more than 80%, as found in a study carried out by the Washington-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Understandably, Georgia State has “stopped reporting COVID-19 deaths by race” but it couldn’t stop the growing concern, locally and nation-wide, about the attempted cover up of the circumstances in which Ahmaud Arbery met his death. The two white men involved are Travis McMichael, 34, and his father, former policeman Gregory McMichael, 64.
The New York Times published a timeline of the shooting, and it is intriguing to examine the sequence of events. It all began just after one o’clock on the afternoon of Sunday February 23, when Arbery was jogging in the suburb of Satilla Shores and was shot. There was an investigation of the death by the police department, following which it was reported in the media that at the crime scene the police “encountered a former colleague with the victim’s blood on his hands. They took down his version of events and let him and his adult son, who had fired the shots, go home. Later that day, Wanda Cooper, the mother of the 25-year-old victim, Ahmaud Arbery, received a call from a police investigator. She recounted later that the investigator said her son had been involved in a burglary and was killed by ‘the homeowner,’ an inaccurate version of what had happened.”
The word “inaccurate” is not appropriate. The mother of the dead man was told a lie by a public official who had investigated a shooting on the streets of an American town. But the media weren’t interested enough to follow up, and the family of Mr Arbery were just ordinary people and thus of no interest to the media or the authorities.
Nothing whatever was done, and on April 1 a local newspaper, the Brunswick News, carried details of the police investigation, informing the public that the police report was based almost entirely on the responding policemen’s interview with Gregory McMichael. The records claimed that after the McMichaels pursued Mr. Arbery, Travis McMichael and Mr. Arbery “started fighting over the shotgun, at which point Travis fired a shot and then a second later there was a second shot.”
Gregory McMichael (who was armed with a .357 magnum handgun) told the police that he thought Mr. Arbery looked like a man suspected in several break-ins in the area. The Brunswick News, citing documents obtained through a public records request, noted that there had been just one burglary in the neighborhood since January: the theft of a handgun from an unlocked truck parked outside Travis McMichael’s house. As the New York Times reported, “the case was taken over by George E. Barnhill, the Waycross district attorney, who advised the police that there was insufficient cause to arrest Mr. Arbery’s pursuers. He argued that they had acted legally under Georgia’s citizen arrest and self-defense laws.”
The whole affair would have been forgotten had it not been for the surfacing of a most disturbing video — over two months after the killing.
On May 5 Georgia’s WGIG local radio station released the video on social media then swiftly removed it, but another station, WGAC, then posted it on Facebook. The video, “taken from inside a vehicle, shows Mr. Arbery running when he comes upon a white truck, with one man standing next to its open driver’s-side door and another in the bed of the pickup. Mr. Arbery runs around the truck and disappears briefly from view. Then the man standing outside the truck tussles with him, and three gunshots are heard.” It is quite obvious what happened. And Gregory and Travis McMichael have at last been charged with murder.
But what will happen now?
It would be unwise to predict that justice will be done. But one thing is certain: it is only too often extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous to be a black in America.
On May 13th the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the Bill Gates-advocated stay-at-home order, previously ordered by globalist quisling, Governor Tony Evers. After hearing oral arguments on May 5th, the court in its wisdom has made a tremendous ruling that will go far in its implications, perhaps even worldwide. This is one small step for Wisconsinites, but one giant step for all American people. In this analysis we will look at the broader implications for similar possibilities in other states, but also its connection to the upcoming election.
This ruling reaches even farther than Wisconsin, and also farther than the Coronavirus pandemic, because it establishes that the Wisconsin Supreme Court is not friendly towards Democrat Governor Tony Evers.
Democrats are pushing medical tyranny and lockdown as the basis for ultimately eliminating the 2020 election, by closing polls and using online voting. Because the U.S. system gives great authority to the state governors in determining the election rules and the handling and counting of ballots, causing a partisan control over outcomes, the presence of Evers otherwise threatens Trump’s legitimate chances in Wisconsin.
Democrats are pushing for online voting through apps that would be developed by the same Silicon Valley and Google-connected firms that allowed Pete Buttigieg and his SHADOW app to ‘steal’ the Iowa primary from populist Bernie Sanders.
The Iowa outcome showed a red-flag triggering divergence between the reported vote and the exit polling – indicating that there was either tremendous error or that Buttigieg’s team was able to steal the election from Sanders’ team.
In the proposed online voting system that Democrats are pushing for 2020, citizens would almost necessarily have to use a Google Chrome compatible app, given the near monopoly that Google has. This raises a separate but related issue of monopoly practices in the information age, something Bill Gates himself profited from immensely. Just as PC’s come bundled with Windows, many also come bundled with Google’s Chrome internet browser.
Electronic voting would represent a further step away from constitutional rule and the norms of a democratic republic.
Electronic voting has already proved a disaster, and while almost the same as online voting in that respect and for the same reasons, in-person voting still made possible the exit poll. Exit polls were able to give an indication whether the reported vote and the exit poll diverged, which is how election oversight could determine if there was an error or fraud. Online voting eliminates that possibility of detection, opening up the door for more blatantly stolen elections.
Recall that Wisconsin went to Trump in 2016, and in 2019 Democrat Evers was elected governor.
The court’s ruling gives a strong sign as to how they might view Evers attempts to nullify the 2020 presidential election in the state of Wisconsin.
Even this ruling alone shows that lockdown orders are unconstitutional, and therefore illegal.
The Associated Press, in a rare moment of honesty, accurately reported that the ruling;
“essentially reopens the state, lifting caps on the size of gatherings, allowing people to travel as they please and allowing shuttered businesses to reopen, including bars and restaurants,”
They could have just as easily written that the ruling ‘essentially jeopardizes children, first responders, and health-care workers and places public health in jeopardy’, not because this is true, but because the AP has historically written about similar matters in just that way.
The blatantly illegal, unconstitutional and tyrannical order was issued by Health Secretary Andrea Palm, and in this major reversal, the court found she had far exceeded her authority to do so.
In writing the majority opinion, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack put into the record that:
“Rule-making exists precisely to ensure that kind of controlling, subjective judgement asserted by one unelected official, Palm, is not imposed in Wisconsin,”
The decision however does allow schools to remain closed, but places these decisions in local governments which can create their own restrictions.
The AP reported that Evers reacted angrily in a conference call Wednesday night, saying the state has been doing well in the fight against the coronavirus. He predicted the court ruling will lead more counties to adopt their own restrictions, leading to a confusing patchwork of ordinances that will allow infection to spread.
But the narrow focus on a ‘fight’ against the coronavirus by an arbitrary numbers system has struck many as confusing the issue. The real issue is public health in general, and a critical component of this involves both being outdoors and being able to engage in the economy. For every 1% rise of unemployment in the U.S., 37,000 people die for indirect reasons resulting from that rise.
Governor Evers was elected by the efforts of organized labor and community groups who had, at the time, good cause to oppose the pro-corporate policies and anti-union policies of former Governor Walker. At issue, however, is that Wisconsinites have fared no better in his replacement. Working class supporters of Walker also had some strong justifications for supporting his anti-union policies.
For decades, labor unions have ceased being the fighting organizations of working people in the face of globalist elites, and instead have become career vehicles for demagogues who have a rotating-door relationship with DNC appointments and corrupt NGOs.
Evers then predictably betrayed the labor union rank-and-file who worked for his election, while labor union bureaucrats received kick-backs and comfy appointments in various the inflated state agencies.
Despite this fact, and yet predictably so, the Nurses union filed an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court against the petitioners. At first glance one might wrongly be led to believe that this is because nurses see there is a wide-scale pandemic, and are against a premature opening.
But in examining the fact that as of April 26th there was only 361 cases and almost 5,000 empty beds in Wisconsin, it appears that the union is using the veil of its connection to healthcare to back a partisan commitment supporting the DNC towards medical tyranny.
Imagining he still has credibility among working and middle-class Wisconsinites in the face of his unconstitutional Covid-19 response, Evers began to accuse the Supreme Court of fomenting “chaos”.
“Today, Republican legislators convinced four members of the state Supreme Court to throw the state into chaos,” Evers said. “They have provided no plan. There’s no question among anybody that people are going to get sick. Republicans own that chaos”, the AP reported.
“They have provided no plan. There’s no question among anybody that people are going to get sick. Republicans own that chaos.” He added, “In the meantime, we’re going to have 72 counties doing their own thing.”
“I can’t believe there’s a state in the nation with this type of chaos.”
The use of the term “chaos” appears to be part of a top-down DNC corporate talking point. It was used over the weekend of May 9th for the first time in a publicized way surrounding the present imposed health ‘crisis’ by Barack Obama, in a leaked call with supporters, which was the subject of its own scandal.
At the same time, Melinda Gates gave a series of interviews on corporate fake news media. In these interviews, more notable for her wearing of an upside-down cross, she also used the term “chaos” in describing the internal workings of the Trump administration’s policy and task force on the novel coronavirus.
Evers’ primary issue seems to be with local governance and community-based regulations. He prefers that Wisconsin be centrally run, as a microcosm that reflects his worldview of a single one-world government justified by the medical tyranny of a Covid-19 dictatorship.
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ruling therefore represents a small victory that is much larger in scope than we might realize at present. It sets an example of how other state supreme courts might rule, especially if in the opinions of the Wisconsin ruling are references to broader constitutional issues outside of the narrower interpretations of laws and past rulings specific to Wisconsin.
This also has an internationalist perspective, showing both workers and small business owners alike what is possible with militant activism. Recall that for its part, neighboring Michigan was the site of militant action some weeks ago, where an armed pro-constitution group stormed the capitol building.
This underscores the importance of the 2nd Amendment in defending constitutional order. An important factor moving forward will require a more deep understanding between citizens of larger urban centers of mega-cities and those of smaller and medium towns and cities.
American politics is chiefly local, where broader national discussions on abstract ideology and federal policy mask the local reality of politics. Both Democrats and Republicans play a game at the federal level which has the effect of pitting Americans against each other based on an artificially created national discourse.
The outcome of the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling shows the way forward, and in no small way was a sober response to the real mood of the moment for most Americans not under the DNC spell.
Contact the author: FindMeFlores@gmail.com
Its constant abuses, of which Michael Flynn is only the latest, show what a failed Progressive Era institution it really is.
William S. SMITH
Fittingly, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was founded by a grandnephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte, during the Progressive Era. Bonaparte was a Harvard-educated crusader. As the FBI’s official history states, “Many progressives, including (Teddy) Roosevelt, believed that the federal government’s guiding hand was necessary to foster justice in an industrial society.”
Progressives viewed the Constitution as a malleable document, a take-it-or-leave-it kind of thing. The FBI inherited that mindset of civil liberties being optional. In their early years, with the passage of the Espionage and Sedition Acts during World War I, the FBI came into its own by launching a massive domestic surveillance campaign and prosecuting war dissenters. Thousands of Americans were arrested, prosecuted, and jailed simply for voicing opposition.
One could write a long history of FBI abuses and failures, from Latin America to Martin Luther King to Japanese internment. But just consider a handful of their more recent cases. The FBI needlessly killed women and children at Waco and Ruby Ridge. Anyone who has lived anywhere near Boston knows of the Bureau’s staggering corruption during gangster Whitey Bulger’s reign of terror. The abuses in Boston were so terrific that radio host Howie Carr declared that the FBI initials really stood for “Famous But Incompetent.” And then there’s Richard Jewell, the hero security guard who was almost railroaded by zealous FBI agents looking for a scalp after they failed to solve the Atlanta terrorist bombing.
But it was 9/11 that really sealed the FBI’s ignominious track record. The lavishly funded agency charged with preventing terrorism somehow missed the attacks, despite their awareness of numerous Saudi nationals taking flying lessons around the country. Immediately after 9/11, the nation was gripped by the anthrax scare, and once again the FBI’s inability to solve the case caused them to try to railroad an innocent man, Stephen Hatfill.
With 9/11, the FBI also began targeting troubled Americans by handing them bomb materials, arresting them, and then holding a press conference to tell the country that they had prevented a major terrorist attack—a fake attack that they themselves had planned.
9/11 also opened the floodgates to domestic surveillance and all the FISA abuses that most recently led to the prosecution of Michael Flynn. I am no fan of Flynn and his hawkish anti-Islamic views, but the way he was framed and then prosecuted really does shock the conscience. After Jewell, Hatfill, Flynn, and so many others, it’s time to ask whether the culture of the FBI has become similar to that of Stalin’s secret police, i.e. “show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.”
I am no anti-law enforcement libertarian. In a previous career, I had the privilege to work with agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and they were some of the bravest people I have ever met. And while the DEA can be overly aggressive (just ask anyone who has been subjected to federal asset forfeiture), it is inconceivable that its agents would plot a coup d’état against the president of the United States. The DEA sees their job as catching drug criminals; they stay in their lane.
For the FBI, merely catching bad guys is too mundane. As one can tell from the sanctimonious James Comey, the culture at the Bureau holds grander aspirations. Comey’s book is titled A Higher Loyalty, as if the FBI reports only to the Almighty. They see themselves as progressive guardians of the American Way, intervening whenever and wherever they see democracy in danger. No healthy republic should have a national police force with this kind of culture. There are no doubt many brave and patriotic FBI agents, but there is also no doubt they have been very badly led.
This savior complex led them to aggressively pursue the Russiagate hoax. Their chasing of ghosts should make it clear that the FBI does not stay in their lane. While the nation’s elite colleges and tech companies are crawling with Chinese spies who are literally stealing our best ideas, the chief of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Section, Peter Strzok, spent his days trying to frame junior aides in the Trump campaign.
Some conservatives have called for FBI Director Christopher Wray to be fired. This would accomplish nothing, as the problem is not one man but an entire culture. One possible solution is to break up the FBI into four or five agencies, with one responsible for counterintelligence, one for counterterrorism, one for complex white-collar crime, one for cybercrimes, and so on. Smaller agencies with more distinctive missions would not see themselves as national saviors and could be held accountable for their effectiveness at very specific jobs. It would also allow federal agents to develop genuine expertise rather than, as the FBI regularly does, shifting agents constantly from terrorism cases to the war on drugs to cybercrime to whatever the political class’s latest crime du jour might be.
Such a reform would not end every abuse of federal law enforcement, and all these agencies would need to be kept on a short leash for the sake of civil liberties. It would, however, diminish the ostentatious pretension of the current FBI that they are the existential guardians of the republic. In a republic, the people and their elected leaders are the protectors of their liberties. No one else.
In 1996 a task force, led by Richard Perle, produced a policy document titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” for Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then in his first term as Prime Minister of Israel, as a how-to manual on approaching regime change in the Middle East and for the destruction of the Oslo Accords.
The “Clean Break” policy document outlined these goals: 1) Ending Yasser Arafat’s and the Palestinian Authority’s political influence, by blaming them for acts of Palestinian terrorism 2) Inducing the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. 3) Launching war against Syria after Saddam’s regime is disposed of 4) Followed by military action against Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
“Clean Break” was also in direct opposition to the Oslo Accords, to which Netanyahu was very much itching to obliterate. The Oslo II Accord was signed just the year before, on September 28th 1995, in Taba, Egypt.
During the Oslo Accord peace process, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu accused Rabin’s government of being “removed from Jewish tradition…and Jewish values.” Rallies organised by the Likud and other right-wing fundamentalist groups featured depictions of Rabin in a Nazi SS uniform or in the crosshairs of a gun. In July 1995, Netanyahu went so far as to lead a mock funeral procession for Rabin, featuring a coffin and hangman’s noose.
The Oslo Accords was the initiation of a process which was to lead to a peace treaty based on the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and at fulfilling the “right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.” If such a peace treaty were to occur, with the United States backing, it would have prevented much of the mayhem that has occurred since. However, the central person to ensuring this process, Yitzak Rabin, was assassinated just a month and a half after the signing of the Oslo II Accord, on November 4th, 1995. Netanyahu became prime minister of Israel seven months later. “Clean Break” was produced the following year.
On November 6th, 2000 in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, who was the chief negotiator of the Oslo peace accords, warned those Israelis who argued that it were impossible to make peace with the Palestinians:
“Zionism was founded in order to save Jews from persecution and anti-Semitism, and not in order to offer them a Jewish Sparta or – God forbid – a new Massada.”
On Oct. 5, 2003, for the first time in 30 years, Israel launched bombing raids against Syria, targeting a purported “Palestinian terrorist camp” inside Syrian territory. Washington stood by and did nothing to prevent further escalation.
“Clean Break” was officially launched in March 2003 with the war against Iraq, under the pretence of “The War on Terror”. The real agenda was a western backed list of regime changes in the Middle East to fit the plans of the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Israel. However, the affair is much more complicated than that with each player holding their own “idea” of what the “plan” is. Before we can fully appreciate such a scope, we must first understand what was Sykes-Picot and how did it shape today’s world mayhem.
WWI was to officially start July 28th 1914, almost immediately following the Balkan wars (1912-1913) which had greatly weakened the Ottoman Empire. Never one to miss an opportunity when smelling fresh blood, the British were very keen on acquiring what they saw as strategic territories for the taking under the justification of being in war-time, which in the language of geopolitics translates to “the right to plunder anything one can get their hands on”.
The brilliance of Britain’s plan to garner these new territories was not to fight the Ottoman Empire directly but rather, to invoke an internal rebellion from within. These Arab territories would be encouraged by Britain to rebel for their independence from the Ottoman Empire and that Britain would support them in this cause. These Arab territories were thus led to believe that they were fighting for their own freedom when, in fact, they were fighting for British and secondarily French colonial interests.
In order for all Arab leaders to sign on to the idea of rebelling against the Ottoman Sultan, there needed to be a viable leader that was Arab, for they certainly would not agree to rebel at the behest of Britain. Lord Kitchener, the butcher of Sudan, was to be at the helm of this operation as Britain’s Minister of War. Kitchener’s choice for Arab leadership was the scion of the Hashemite dynasty, Hussein ibn Ali, known as the Sherif of Mecca who ruled the region of Hejaz under the Ottoman Sultan. Hardinge of the British India Office disagreed with this choice and wanted Wahhabite Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud instead, however, Lord Kitchener overruled this stating that their intelligence revealed that more Arabs would follow Hussein.
Since the Young Turk Revolution which seized power of the Ottoman government in 1908, Hussein was very aware that his dynasty was in no way guaranteed and thus he was open to Britain’s invitation to crown him King of the Arab kingdom.
Kitchener wrote to one of Hussein’s sons, Abdallah, as reassurance of Britain’s support: “If the Arab nation assist England in this war that has been forced upon us by Turkey, England will guarantee that no internal intervention take place in Arabia, and will give Arabs every assistance against foreign aggression.”
Sir Henry McMahon who was the British High Commissioner to Egypt, would have several correspondences with Sherif Hussein between July 1915 to March 1916 to convince Hussein to lead the rebellion for the “independence” of the Arab states.
However, in a private letter to India’s Viceroy Charles Hardinge sent on December 4th, 1915, McMahon expressed a rather different view of what the future of Arabia would be, contrary to what he had led Sherif Hussein to believe:
“[I do not take] the idea of a future strong united independent Arab State … too seriously … the conditions of Arabia do not and will not for a very long time to come, lend themselves to such a thing.”
Such a view meant that Arabia would be subject to Britain’s heavy handed “advising” in all its affairs, whether it sought it or not.
In the meantime, Sherif Hussein was receiving dispatches issued by the British Cairo office to the effect that the Arabs of Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia (Iraq) would be given independence guaranteed by Britain, if they rose up against the Ottoman Empire.
The French were understandably suspicious of Britain’s plans for these Arab territories. The French viewed Palestine, Lebanon and Syria as intrinsically belonging to France, based on French conquests during the Crusades and their “protection” of the Catholic populations in the region. Hussein was adamant that Beirut and Aleppo were to be given independence and completely rejected French presence in Arabia. Britain was also not content to give the French all the concessions they demanded as their “intrinsic” colonial rights.
Enter Sykes and Picot.
Sykes-Picot: the Gentlemen’s Etiquette on Backstabbing
Francois Georges Picot was sent to negotiate with the British on November 23rd, 1915. He was chosen for this role due to his policy outlook of the “Syrian party” in France, which asserted that Syria and Palestine (which they considered a single country) were French property, for historical, economic, and cultural reasons. Approximately six months later, the top secret terms of the agreement were signed on May 16th, 1916. The map showcases the agreed upon ‘carving up’ of these Arab territories, to be the new jewels of Britain and France.
Notice Palestine is marked as an international zone in yellow. Palestine was recognised as something neither country was willing to forfeit to the other. And thus, according to the gentlemen’s etiquette, meant that one would simply have to take it while the other wasn’t looking, which is exactly what happened.
In 1916, Sir Mark Sykes created the Arab Bureau whose headquarters would be in Cairo, Egypt (which was under British rule), as a branch of British Intelligence and under the direction of Lord Kitchener. Among the notable members of the Arab Bureau was T.E. Lawrence, better known as “Lawrence of Arabia”. The raison d’être of the Arab Bureau was to exact British control over Arabia via British Egypt.
The Arab revolt, led under the façade of King Hussein, was launched in Hejaz in early June 1916, however, the hundreds of thousands of Arabs the British were expecting to defect from the Ottoman army and join the revolt…did not show up. Instead, British aircraft and ships were deployed, along with Muslim troops from British Egypt and elsewhere in the Empire. As the revolt continued to show its weaknesses and lack of support by the Arabs themselves, to such a point that Britain was starting to despair of its success, T.E. Lawrence (who was known as “the man with the gold”), organised a confederation of Bedouin tribal chiefs to fight alongside the British forces in the Palestine and Syria campaigns.
In 1917, War Minister Lloyd George ordered troops from British Egypt to invade Palestine, expressing his wish to General Allenby that Jerusalem be taken by Christmas. Obligingly, on December 11th 1917, Allenby walked into Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate and declared martial law over the city (see picture). Allenby explained to Picot, that Jerusalem would remain under British military administration, for some time.
The British India Office invaded Mesopotamia and took Baghdad on March 11th, 1917. The southern province of Basra, largely Shi’ite, was to be British, while the ancient capital of Baghdad was to be under some form of British protectorate.
After the British conquests of Palestine and Mesopotamia, Syria would be taken by September 1918 by British led forces and Damascus would ultimately, after a bit of squabbling, be left under French control or “advisory”.
The final settlement for allocation of territories was established in 1920 with the Treaty of Sevres which stipulated that Syria and Lebanon were to go to France, and that Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Palestine would be under British control with Arabia (Hejaz) being officially “independent” but ruled by British puppet monarchs. Britain was also granted continued influence over Egypt, Cyprus and the Persian Gulf coast.
Faisal, the son of Hussein ibn Ali and who had been under the “tutelage” of T.E. Lawrence this whole time, was proclaimed King of Iraq, after his failed attempt as King over Greater Syria before the French chased him out with their military, recognising that he represented British interests.
As for Persia (Iran), the British established their control through the infamous Anglo-Persian Agreement of 1919, with Ahmed Shah.
In 1926 the Mosul Treaty was signed where Iraq got nominal control over the oil region and the interests were divvied up among British (52.5%), French (21.25%) and American (21.25%) oil companies.
As far as central Arabia was concerned, Hussein laid claim to the title Caliph in 1924, which his rival Wahhabite Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud rejected and declared war, defeating the Hashemites. Hussein abdicated and ibn Saud, the favourite of the British India Office, was proclaimed King of Hejaz and Najd in 1926, which led to the founding of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Fate of Palestine
While the British were promising Arab rule and independence to the Hashemite Hussein and his sons, the British were simultaneously promising a homeland in Palestine to the Jews. In the Balfour Declaration of November 2nd, 1917 the following was declared:
“His majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…”
Britain received the mandate over Palestine from the League of Nations in July 1922.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s violent confrontations between Jews and Arabs took place in Palestine costing hundreds of lives. In 1936 a major Arab revolt occurred over 7 months, until diplomatic efforts involving other Arab countries led to a ceasefire. In 1937, a British Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by William Peel concluded that Palestine had two distinct societies with irreconcilable political demands, thus making it necessary to partition the land.
The Arab Higher Committee refused Peel’s “prescription” and the revolt broke out again. This time, Britain responded with a devastatingly heavy hand. Roughly 5,000 Arabs were killed by the British armed forces and police. Following the riots, the British mandate government dissolved the Arab Higher Committee and declared it an illegal body.
In response to the revolt, the British government issued the White Paper of 1939, which stated that Palestine should be a bi-national state, inhabited by both Arabs and Jews. Due to the international unpopularity of the mandate including within Britain itself, it was organised such that the United Nations would take responsibility for the British initiative and adopted the resolution to partition Palestine on November 29th, 1947. Britain would announce its termination of its Mandate for Palestine on May 15th, 1948 after the State of Israel declared its independence on May 14th, 1948.
A New Strategy for Securing Whose Realm?
Despite what its title would have you believe, “Clean Break” is neither a “new strategy” nor meant for “securing” anything. It is also not the brainchild of fanatical neo-conservatives: Dick Cheney and Richard Perle, nor even that of crazed end-of-days fundamentalist Benjamin Netanyahu, but rather has the very distinct and lingering odour of the British Empire.
“Clean Break” is a continuation of Britain’s geopolitical game, and just as it used France during the Sykes-Picot days it is using the United States and Israel. The role Israel has found itself playing in the Middle East could not exist if it were not for over 30 years of direct British occupation in Palestine and its direct responsibility for the construction of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which set a course for destruction and endless war in this region long before Israel ever existed.
It was also Britain who officially launched operation “Clean Break” by directly and fraudulently instigating an illegal war against Iraq to which the Chilcot Inquiry, aka Iraq Inquiry, released 7 years later, attests to. This was done by the dubious reporting by British Intelligence setting the pretext for the U.S.’ ultimate invasion into Iraq based off of fraudulent and forged evidence provided by GCHQ, unleashing the “War on Terror”, aka “Clean Break” outline for regime change in the Middle East.
In addition, the Libyan invasion in 2011 was also found to be unlawfully instigated by Britain. In a report published by the British Foreign Affairs Committee in September 2016, it was concluded that it was “the UK and France in March 2011 which led the international community to support an intervention in Libya to protect civilians from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi”. The report concluded that the Libyan intervention was based on false pretence provided by British Intelligence and recklessly promoted by the British government.
Therefore, though the U.S. and Israeli military have done a good job at stealing the show, and though they certainly believe themselves to be the head of the show, the reality is that this age of empire is distinctly British and anyone who plays into this game will ultimately be playing for said interests, whether they are aware of it or not.
First, the bottom line: If you don’t solve the biology, the economy won’t recover. That is where we are now. A sealed-off, ‘exceptionalist’ mindset has brought about – surprise; surprise – an exceptionalist outcome. We have both a deluge of avoidable deaths, and clearly, a staggering amount of possibly avoidable economic damage (albeit some of which was destined to occur soon, anyway).
It is the worst of both worlds. Initially, dilatory in mitigating the pandemic for fear of damaging the economy, political leaders (particularly the in the Anglo-sphere) have implemented (half) measures late (once the virus brush-fire had already got a grip on dry tinder) and now are panicked at the soaring costs associated with their initial errors – and so are pushing to try to ‘open’ as early as they dare.
But the biology is not solved, and the tension of trying to point in opposite directions simultaneously is igniting a separate, raging political brushfire.
In the American war between ‘Blue and Red’, some states are enforcing a return to work (threatening harsh penalties on absentees), while others are mandating exactly the opposite: compulsory ‘stay at home’ orders. This absurdity reaches a peak, as one example, in the small American town of Bristol, half of which lies in Tennessee and the other in Virginia, where the two states abut each other. One half of its citizens are ‘bustling’ in an opened economy, and the others are hibernating in lockdown. No wonder people are losing confidence in the wisdom of their leaders.
Now ‘the other shoe’ has dropped – political war. ‘Half patriots’ see ‘Blue’ deliberately keeping the economy in lockdown – to damage Red’s November prospects. But also, they view the Coronavirus as a synthetic globalist agenda contrived, and exaggerated, in order to steal away the peoples’ liberties. And into this fetid brew, the Blue candidate presumptive, and the former U.S. President, inter alia, are explicitly being ‘dropped’, unmasked as ‘Half Traitors’ (for their role in Obamagate).
And, as domestic tempers flare, sealed-bubble thinking requires there to be diversions – with foreigners to blame – lest the Blues begin to score politically, by pointing at the late Trump Administration response to the Covid-19 crisis.
So relations with China are condemned to drop off a cliff. Pending are the Uyghur Human Rights Act, and the Covid-19 Accountability Act – both awaiting passage into law. The latter, if passed, would allow Trump sixty days to certify that China has fully accounted to an independent body, such as the UN, for the circumstances in which the virus arose; has closed all its highest-risk wet markets; and has released all Hong Kong ‘democracy activists’, recently arrested.
Failure to do so, would authorize Trump to impose sanctions such as an asset freeze, travel bans, visa revocations, and to restrict Chinese businesses’ access to the U.S. banking system and capital markets. But neither of these two acts – inflammatory though they be – are as incendiary as Washington’s slow ‘walk-back’ of its commitment to a ‘One China’ stance in respect to Taiwan. This is ‘the’ red line. China is already angry, and may not ‘bend to accommodate the U.S. wind’, for much longer.
That is not the end to it, however. Times are uncertain. The American public mood is fickle. So the further tools to ensure success in November require Trump to show that he is the better ‘friend to Israel’ than was Obama (by allowing (even encouraging) annexation of much of the West Bank); and that he is just as tough on Russia as was Obama: “My job is to make [Syria] a quagmire for the Russians”, U.S. Envoy, James Jeffries, explained last week. Similarly, it requires making Iraq a quagmire for Iran (thus, undoing Obama’s mistake of leaving Iraq ‘too soon’) – and to go with ‘snap-back’ UNSC sanctions on Iran (so Brian Hook says), so that Iran may hurt so badly that it will be desperate to accede to a new nuclear accord – one, much better, than was Obama’s.
Well, all in all, isn’t this a recipé for turmoil, push back and further economic anemia (as global economic roots are hauled out from their soil, and tugged apart)? Yes – clearly. This coming U.S. election is viewed by both Red and Blue as existential. Perhaps the most portent in America’s history.
Are all these threats ‘real’? Probably not – but China blamed for the virus, and pushed over the cliff edge; and the West Bank and Jordan Valley annexation are. Both play to U.S. domestic electoral interests.
Yet, Israeli commentator Gideon Levy in Haaretz, writing about Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands, positions all these such seemingly dark events, in a very different light: Isn’t Annexation – albeit “an outrageous punishment for the occupied” – nonetheless somehow something that “would also put an end to the lies, and require everyone to look the truth straight in the eye. And the truth is that the occupation is here to stay, there were never any intentions to do otherwise”. Annexation, Levy writes, “is shaping up as the only way out of the deadlock, the only possible shake-up that could end this status quo of despair, we’ve gotten stuck in, which can no longer lead anywhere good.”
“It’s precisely the sworn opponent of annexation, Shaul Arieli, who has best described its advantages”, Levy opines counter-intuitively. “In a recent article (Haaretz, Hebrew edition, April 24), Arieli noted how the Palestinian Authority would collapse; the Oslo Accords would be cancelled; Israel’s image would sustain damage, and another cycle of bloodshed would be liable to erupt. These are real dangers that you cannot take lightly; but he [Arieli] says: “The step of annexation would deal a great blow to the balancing points in the current situation, and upset their fragile equilibrium””.
Let Israel annex. Expose the sham peace process. That process “has already created an irreversible situation … for, without the [settlers’] removal [and that will never happen], the Palestinians will be left with nothing but Bantustans: Neither a state nor even a joke of a state”, Levy writes. “Better to look truth in the eye”.
Yet, isn’t this what precisely – in its separate way – the Coronavirus is doing, in respect to wider geo-politics – by cascading diverse fragilities, and upsetting brittle equilibriums, such as that of the European Union?
Coronavirus is, as it were, becoming the ‘Annexation pivot’ for global politics. America’s “outrageous punishments” inflicted on Palestinians, on Syria, on Iran, on Russia, on China … etc? Isn’t this ‘it’? The same as argued by Levy, albeit in an annexation context?
The pretence that the U.S. and the global economy is about to snap back, as soon as virus mitigation is lifted; the pretence that Covid-19 is either a fake (just another ‘flu); or, is ‘over’; the pretence that U.S. and Europe have competent and resilient political and economic structures – and the pretence that once Covid is over, we will all return to a world, just as it was?
Gideon Levy suggests, “we have to stop fearing it [Annexation]”. No, it is both – Annexation and the Coronavirus. And even say ‘yes’ to them. Probability strategist Nassim Taleb thinks similarly: Coronavirus is an opportunity. “Do a total reset professionally, economically, and personally. Treat this thing as if it were here to stay, and make sure you can do with it”.
These are shaping up as the only way out of our multiple deadlocks. But they do, however, impose on us the need to be able to look Truth straight in the eye. And our processes of thinking have been so long cooked in the intellectual oven of rationalism, that the stuff of them has dried hard; lost savour, life, and truth, and has become little more than yet another dish of egotism.
Carl Jung tells the story of the ‘golden scarab’. It is the story of a young woman patient who was proving to be psychologically inaccessible. The analytical process had become obstructed by what Jung describes as a state of psychic one-sidedness that manifested in the form of a domineering rationality. Always she knew better. “Her education had provided her with a weapon ideally suited to this purpose, namely a highly-polished, Cartesian rationalism”. When Jung’s attempts to sweeten her rationalism proved unproductive, Jung was left hoping “that something unexpected and irrational would turn up, something that would burst the intellectual retort into which she had sealed herself”.
“I was sitting opposite her one day” Jung wrote, “with my back to the window… She had dreamed the night before that someone had given her a golden scarab, a costly piece of jewellery. But while she was telling me this dream, I heard something tapping on the window… an insect… it was a scarabaeid beetle, whose gold-green colour resembled gold… I handed the beetle to my patient with the words: ‘Here is your scarab’”.
Jung relates that, with the shock of extraneous sudden intrusion from nowhere, “her natural being could burst through the armour [of her sealed rationality, and] transformation could, at last, begin”.
Not just Jung’s patients, but civilisations too, become stuck in their particular intellectual retort. When Aristophanes’ The Frogs was performed at the Great Dionysia in 405 BC, it was already evident to all that Athenian civilisation was degenerate. The Frogs, for all its knock-about comedy, is sombre in reflection upon Athens’ bleak future. Its theme was that since all the three great Athenian poets were then dead, the sole remedy for saving Athens was to send Dionysius down to the underworld to bring back with him the greatest of these poets. But when Dionysius duly arrived there, the ‘shade of Euripides’ asks of him, for what purpose would he want to bring back a poet?
Dionysius instantly retorts, “to save Athens, of course”.
Why? Because the most important role of these playwrights was always to challenge, and expose, the false myths by which we all live. To burst the bubble – and to offer an understanding of our suffering and human experience – in such a way as to make it not only intelligible, but also – in reaching down to deeper layers of accumulated human experience held in the psyche – allow us to imagine the ‘impossible’ as solution.
With Euripides, unfortunately, still inhabiting the otherworld, we must rely on the less amiable Coronavirus to shock, and frighten us out from our intellectual retort – and to make the alchemical marriage (i.e. make whole) the severed parts to our over-cooked psyches.
Academia does not really have a reputation for being riddled with violence and sudden unexplained deaths. Yet at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, two young pioneering researchers from the same obscure field of study met with mysterious ends.
Outside of academic circles, Dr. James Taylor and Dr. Bing Liu were relative unknowns. Inside of the scientific community, however, the two had achieved something like rock-star status. And now, within a period of 30 days, both young men are dead at a time when their talents are needed most.
James Taylor, 1979-2020
Let’s first consider the life and work of James Taylor, who passed away on April 2 at the age of 40. Anyone hoping to learn details about the cause of death of this remarkable man will be disappointed; to date, no information has been made available to the public.
“The cause of James’ death is not yet known, and given how overwhelmed the medical profession is in Baltimore, we may never know,” stated the website of Galaxy Project, using the coronavirus as an excuse for not being able to dig deeper into the death of a colleague. “Given how quickly this overtook him it is very unlikely to have been COVID-19.”
Until any additional information is forthcoming with regards to the cause of death, it seems reasonable to ask whether Taylor was involved in any projects or activities that may have made him a potential target of foul play. A cursory look at his Twitter page indicates there were some impassioned discussions just prior to his premature passing that warrant consideration. Before jumping into those discussions, however, a few words about his professional background are necessary.
According to his obituary on the Johns Hopkins University website, Taylor was “a trailblazer in computational biology and genomics research,” who made a significant contribution as a “scientist, teacher, and colleague.”
Taylor’s breakout moment in the scientific community, however, came with the creation of Galaxy, a cloud-based system that has been described as “the first comprehensive data analysis resource in Life Sciences.” According to its website, Galaxy provides an open platform that aims to make computational biology accessible to scientists, mostly those who are involved in genomics research, a major field of study when it comes to the development of drugs and vaccines.
And it is on this particular point that Taylor became engaged in debate just days before his death. On March 19, the researcher asked a seemingly innocuous question on his Twitter page: “Can we talk about genomic data sharing for #covid19 #SARSCoV2 research?”
— James Taylor (@jxtx) March 19, 2020
Judging by the feedback, the question proved to be a loaded one. Taylor’s question revealed the frustration being felt by other research groups, like NCBI and Nextstrain, which were attempting to retrieve the genomic characteristics of Covid-19 but were running into hurdles. Taylor’s colleagues, Anton Nekrutenko and Sergei Kosakovsky Pond, expressed similar concerns regarding those roadblocks one month earlier in a paper entitled, ‘No more business as usual: agile and effective responses to emerging pathogen threats require open data and open analytics.’
“The current state of much of the Wuhan pneumonia virus (COVID-19) research shows a regrettable lack of data sharing and considerable analytical obfuscation,” Nekrutenko and Kosakovsky Pond wrote. “This impedes global research cooperation, which is essential for tackling public health emergencies, and requires unimpeded access to data, analysis tools, and computational infrastructure.”
Here is proof of something that many people have long suspected about the world of academia: it is ruthless and self-serving just as much as any profit-seeking corporation. Not only are academics fiercely protective of their work, which is perfectly understandable, they are also not blind to the potential for financial gain that comes from their labors. But I digress.
— Björn Grüning (@bjoerngruening) March 26, 2020
Judging by his social media activity, it seems that James Taylor’s main beef was with GISAID, a German-based platform that stands for Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data. This private and public organization, which also partners with the governments of Singapore and the United States, has acquired much of the genome data for many diseases, including that of Covid-19, information that would be critical in the development of drugs and vaccines.
In a follow-up tweet, Taylor complained that GISAID “has much more data…but onerous restrictions on data use and sharing, in particular does not allow sharing any sequence data.” This was followed by the comment that GISAID’s restrictions on using its data are “a real impediment to rapid, collaborative data analysis including our efforts to make transparent, reusable and reproducible analysis pipelines for outbreak analysis.”
At the same time Taylor was chastising GISAID for supposedly not sharing its sequence data on Covid-19, GISAID was boasting on its website about its transparency. So where is the truth? Judging by the comments on James Taylor’s Twitter feed, it would seem GISAID was not completely forthcoming with its data.
Dave O’Connor, for example, a virologist at the University of Washington (Madison), remarked on Taylor’s Twitter thread, “I doubt if many people, if any, people who contributed data to GISAID did so with the intention of it being siloed.”
Dr. Melissa A. Wilson, a prominent evolutionary and computational biologist from Arizona State University, also expressed dismay at the failure to share critical genome data that could assist in helping researchers discover a cure for Covid-19.
In her tweet, dated March 23, Wilson directed a question to Taylor, asking: “Where are we storing data so it is accessible?”
US needs this kind of effort. ASU + other institutions have tests, but:
Can collect answers here: https://t.co/P7eAAMNyFd
Will happily amplify other efforts. https://t.co/lfdhACLVw9
— Melissa A. Wilson (@sexchrlab) March 23, 2020
At this point the reader may be asking, ‘Ok, so what. What significance is there to a group of researchers having trouble getting access to the genome structure of the coronavirus?’ The problem is that it could mean the difference between being able to develop a vaccine for the disease and not.
Here it should be mentioned that on October 18, 2019, Johns Hopkins University, together with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, hosted Event 201, a high-level exercise that imagined how the public and private sector would coordinate in the event of a pandemic. The event so closely mirrored the outbreak of Covid-19 just two months later that Johns Hopkins released a statement denying that it had made a “prediction” about the pandemic.
Moreover, on the question of producing vaccines to fight against Covid-19, Johns Hopkins appears to be an ardent supporter.
“I would imagine we are going to get a massive vaccination program going in place,” revealed Andrew Pekosz, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Professor, in an interview with Bloomberg. “The vaccines that are currently in the lead…are ones that are going to be given by injection.
“It looks like vaccines are going to be the game changer here…”
The question that must be asked is whether James Taylor was somehow working at cross-purposes to other organizations that are, for example, in the race to develop a vaccine against Covid-19. Or, alternatively, did the 40-year-old renowned researcher die a natural death at the very moment the quest for a vaccine against the coronavirus had become the central focus for researchers, pharmaceutical companies and his very alma mater?
Dr. Bing Liu, 1982-2020
On May 2, Liu, a 37-year-old assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPSM), was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds at his townhouse in an upscale suburban neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Another victim, identified as Hao Gu, was found dead in his car near Liu’s home with what police say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Just four days after the double murder, Ross Township Police said they believe the apparent murder-suicide was the result of a “lengthy dispute regarding an intimate partner.”
“We have found zero evidence that this tragic event has anything to do with employment at the University of Pittsburgh, any work being conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and the current health crisis affecting the United States and the world,” said Detective Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp.
What makes this case particularly compelling is that, according to a homage page on the UPSM website, “Bing was on the verge of making very significant findings toward understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie SARS-CoV-2 infection and the cellular basis of the following complications.”
The other remarkable detail is how closely aligned Bing Liu and James Taylor’s academic resumes were. Both academics were involved in the obscure field of computational systems biology, as well as machine-learning techniques to better predict the behavior of biological species.
The lives of the two academics crossed paths due to their mutual affiliation with the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, also located in Pittsburgh. There, Liu worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of computer science, while Taylor delivered seminars there on his Galaxy program. If by chance Taylor was unfamiliar with Liu’s prolific body of academic work that would probably have changed after Liu’s purportedly breakthrough research on the Covid-19 was released. That magical moment was not to be, of course, due to Liu’s premature and very tragic death.
With regards to the purported murder-suicide, the details are sketchy. First, the mainstream media is portraying the murder as the result of a “lengthy dispute regarding an intimate partner.” Yet local media reported that Liu and his wife had no children and mostly kept to themselves. Of course that doesn’t mean that the two men were not competing for the affections of some other woman. However, with the married Liu on the verge of making a major breakthrough on the coronavirus front, it would seem that he would have very little time for any ‘extracurricular activities.’
In any case, it remains unclear how the two men knew each other, while a possible motive for the murder also remains a mystery, the Post-Gazette reported. Neighbors did not report hearing any gunshots at the time of the killings.
Finally, there are problems with the choice of murder weapon, in this case a firearm. Since both Liu and his alleged killer were not U.S. citizens, this opens up the question as to how Hao Gu was able to acquire a firearm. It is illegal – although certainly not impossible – for non-citizens to purchase firearms in the United States.
So what we are left with, at a time when the world is desperately searching for a way to combat Covid-19, is the legacy of two trailblazing researchers who were both working towards ways of better understanding the disease. Although we may never know the true story behind each man’s untimely death, the likelihood of two renowned researchers – with almost identical professional backgrounds – dying a month apart at a time when both were making headway against the pandemic must certainly rank far less than the chances of someone actually succumbing to Covid-19. The deaths of Bing Liu and James Taylor deserve far greater scrutiny by the mainstream media.
If Donald Trump wants to get re-elected as President of the U.S. he’s going to have to take out former President Barack Obama. At this point Obama is the person who most stands in his path for a second term.
Former Vice President Joe Biden may well wind up being the nominee but that’s only because he is Obama’s stand in since Obama can’t run for a third term thanks to the only part of the U.S. Constitution anyone seems to give a damn about anymore.
But, make no mistake, the current flap about the unmasking of Trump’s first (and short-lived) National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn is all about Trump finally going on the offensive after more than three years of fighting rear-guard actions just to stay in power.
Obama was the ring leader in the operation to spy on Trump and anyone with half a brain knows it. The unmasking of the unmaskers in the Obama administration is to tarnish his legacy and dishearten any centrist voters who may be tiring of Trump’s mistakes and the worsening economic collapse engineered by the shutdown of the economy during the peak of the COVID-19 hysteria.
This is why it is imperative for Trump to take Obama out of this election cycle as quickly as possible.
With Hillary finally bending the knee to Obama when she publicly endorsed Biden that was the signal that she’s acknowledging she’s lost the fight for control over the Democratic Party, which she and her husband have ruled with a closed fist for decades.
Now Obama is free and clear to begin campaigning openly on Biden’s behalf. And don’t for a second think that the trial balloons of his wife Michelle being Biden’s running mate are the fanciful wishes of hopeless Democrats. Michelle is absolutely one of the top candidates for that job.
Because with Trump surviving everything thrown at him to this point the only chance Biden has this fall is his second coming as the Left’s political messiah. Take nothing away from Obama, he is an excellent campaigner.
With Michelle as his running mate that puts Obama right where he needs to be, hounding Trump on all the issues that are supposed to be weaknesses for him – the economy, COVID-19 deaths, unemployment, etc.
So, the timing of Trump having his acting ODNI Director Richard Grenell pick a public spat with the hapless Head of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff and get the transcripts of the impeachment interviews released to the public isn’t coincidence, folks. These transcripts confirm that Obama’s inner circle all lied through their teeth in the media for years about the RussiaGate collusion story.
This comes on the heels of Trump’s somewhat cleaned up Dept. of Justice dropping the case against Flynn which then opens up the opportunity to resurrect the timeline of events which led up to his firing and indictment by the very people now revealed as bald-faced liars and conspirators.
Trump then goes directly to the people and coins the term of the year, “Obamagate.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2020
He’s telling the entire world who his target is. He knows that if he loses this election any chance of reforming any part of the D.C. swamp vanishes as Biden steps aside for health reasons after sweeping everything under the rug and Obama rules the White House from the shadows as First Lady.
And it’s clear that this is the real reason behind the Democratic governors defying their people and Trump on opening up their cities and states. They are purposefully trying to destroy the country to regain control over it.
These people are vandals.
But Trump’s biggest obstacle at this point isn’t the Democrat-controlled House or the Media, it is the Republicans in the Senate who have proven repeatedly to be spineless when it comes to anything substantive.
You can see the maneuvering and horse trading already. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is already trying to downplay the magnitude of this scandal, which makes Watergate look like the raid on the dean’s office in Animal House.
Obama is guilty of the highest crimes a President can be guilty of, utilizing Federal law enforcement and intelligence services to spy on a political opponent during an election. This is after eight years of ruinous wars, coups both successful and not, drone-striking U.S. citizens and generally carrying on like the vandal he is.
Thankfully Rand Paul (R-Ky) has been activated by Trump to go after Graham directly and force him to back peddle. Paul is already calling for hearings in the Senate, using his Chairmanship of the Government Oversight Committee to end run around Light in the Loafers Lindsey.
The FBI is now going after people like Richard Burr (R-NC), head of the Senate Intelligence Committee for potential insider trading violations. This is a pure power play to make sure Burr doesn’t let this die in committee.
If this tweet isn’t clear enough that Trump wants Obama’s head on a platter and he’s now willing to go scorched earth on him and anyone trying to protect Obama to get it I don’t know what is.
If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama. He knew EVERYTHING. Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2020
Things are spiraling out of control in D.C. quickly. A reader noted to me recently that one of Trump’s strengths is that he thrives in chaos, that he’s most comfortable stirring the pot and getting everyone around him ‘on tilt’ as the poker players say.
That’s what he’s doing now with #Obamagate. He’s doing what he does best, forcing his opponents to ab react to him and leaving them vulnerable to his next attack. He’s in pure campaign mode now, which we haven’t seen in four years.
But this time he’s campaigning with a lot more resources at his disposal especially if he has them all nailed. Trump wouldn’t be going after Obama if he didn’t have proof of Obama’s guilt. He’s a limbic creature but he’s not random.
Obama’s people will spin this as desperation over the mishandling of COVID-19, but it won’t matter. With a Justice Dept. that looks ready to get to work for the first time in decades, Trump just well be ready to finally do something right.
The answer to 1776 is not 1984 and if anything needs to be protested it would be any efforts by the government to make elections “go digital”. Ironically such a move would actually be the way that the Chinese and Russians could actually get the guy they want in the Oval Office.
LAST YEAR, A GOVERNMENT COMMISSION CALLED FOR THE US TO ADOPT AN AI-DRIVEN MASS SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM FAR BEYOND THAT USED IN ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN ORDER TO ENSURE AMERICAN HEGEMONY IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. NOW, MANY OF THE “OBSTACLES” THEY HAD CITED AS PREVENTING ITS IMPLEMENTATION ARE RAPIDLY BEING REMOVED UNDER THE GUISE OF COMBATING THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.
Last year, a U.S. government body dedicated to examining how artificial intelligence can “address the national security and defense needs of the United States” discussed in detail the “structural” changes that the American economy and society must undergo in order to ensure a technological advantage over China, according to a recent document acquired through a FOIA request. This document suggests that the U.S. follow China’s lead and even surpass them in many aspects related to AI-driven technologies, particularly their use of mass surveillance. This perspective clearly clashes with the public rhetoric of prominent U.S. government officials and politicians on China, who have labeled the Chinese government’s technology investments and export of its surveillance systems and other technologies as a major “threat” to Americans’ “way of life.”
In addition, many of the steps for the implementation of such a program in the U.S., as laid out in this newly available document, are currently being promoted and implemented as part of the government’s response to the current coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. This likely due to the fact that many members of this same body have considerable overlap with the taskforces and advisors currently guiding the government’s plans to “re-open the economy” and efforts to use technology to respond to the current crisis.
The FOIA document, obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), was produced by a little-known U.S. government organization called the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI). It was created by the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its official purpose is “to consider the methods and means necessary to advance the development of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and associated technologies to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.”
The NSCAI is a key part of the government’s response to what is often referred to as the coming “fourth industrial revolution,” which has been described as “a revolution characterized by discontinuous technological development in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), big data, fifth-generation telecommunications networking (5G), nanotechnology and biotechnology, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and quantum computing.”
However, their main focus is ensuring that “the United States … maintain a technological advantage in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other associated technologies related to national security and defense.” The vice-chair of NSCAI, Robert Work – former Deputy Secretary of Defense and senior fellow at the hawkish Center for a New American Security (CNAS), described the commission’s purpose as determining “how the U.S. national security apparatus should approach artificial intelligence, including a focus on how the government can work with industry to compete with China’s ‘civil-military fusion’ concept.”
The recently released NSCAI document is a May 2019 presentation entitled “Chinese Tech Landscape Overview.” Throughout the presentation, the NSCAI promotes the overhaul of the U.S. economy and way of life as necessary for allowing the U.S. to ensure it holds a considerable technological advantage over China, as losing this advantage is currently deemed a major “national security” issue by the U.S. national security apparatus. This concern about maintaining a technological advantage can be seen in several other U.S. military documents and think tank reports, several of which have warned that the U.S.’ technological advantage is quickly eroding.
The U.S. government and establishment media outlets often blame alleged Chinese espionage or the Chinese government’s more explicit partnerships with private technology companies in support of their claim that the U.S. is losing this advantage over China. For instance, Chris Darby, the current CEO of the CIA’s In-Q-Tel, who is also on the NSCAI, told CBS News last year that China is the U.S.’ main competitor in terms of technology and that U.S. privacy laws were hampering the U.S.’ capacity to counter China in this regard, stating that:
“[D]ata is the new oil. And China is just awash with data. And they don’t have the same restraints that we do around collecting it and using it, because of the privacy difference between our countries. This notion that they have the largest labeled data set in the world is going to be a huge strength for them.”
In another example, Michael Dempsey – former acting Director of National Intelligence and currently a government-funded fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations – argued in The Hill that:
“It’s quite clear, though, that China is determined to erase our technological advantage, and is committing hundreds of billions of dollars to this effort. In particular, China is determined to be a world leader in such areas as artificial intelligence, high performance computing, and synthetic biology. These are the industries that will shape life on the planet and the military balance of power for the next several decades.”
In fact, the national security apparatus of the United States is so concerned about losing a technological edge over China that the Pentagon recently decided to join forces directly with the U.S. intelligence community in order “to get in front of Chinese advances in artificial intelligence.” This union resulted in the creation of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), which ties together “the military’s efforts with those of the Intelligence Community, allowing them to combine efforts in a breakneck push to move government’s AI initiatives forward.” It also coordinates with other government agencies, industry, academics, and U.S. allies. Robert Work, who subsequently became the NSCAI vice-chair, said at the time that JAIC’s creation was a “welcome first step in response to Chinese, and to a lesser extent, Russian, plans to dominate these technologies.”
Similar concerns about “losing” technological advantage to China have also been voiced by the NSCAI chairman, Eric Schmidt, the former head of Alphabet – Google’s parent company, who argued in February in the New York Times that Silicon Valley could soon lose “the technology wars” to China if the U.S. government doesn’t take action. Thus, the three main groups represented within the NSCAI – the intelligence community, the Pentagon and Silicon Valley – all view China’s advancements in AI as a major national security threat (and in Silicon Valley’s case, threat to their bottom lines and market shares) that must be tackled quickly.
TARGETING CHINA’S “ADOPTION ADVANTAGE”
In the May 2019 “Chinese Tech Landscape Overview” presentation, the NSCAI discusses that, while the U.S. still leads in the “creation” stage of AI and related technologies, it lags behind China in the “adoption” stage due to “structural factors.” It says that “creation”, followed by “adoption” and “iteration” are the three phases of the “life cycle of new tech” and asserts that failing to dominate in the “adoption” stage will allow China to “leapfrog” the U.S. and dominate AI for the foreseeable future.
The presentation also argues that, in order to “leapfrog” competitors in emerging markets, what is needed is not “individual brilliance” but instead specific “structural conditions that exist within certain markets.” It cites several case studies where China is considered to be “leapfrogging” the U.S. due to major differences in these “structural factors.” Thus, the insinuation of the document (though not directly stated) is that the U.S. must alter the “structural factors” that are currently responsible for its lagging behind China in the “adoption” phase of AI-driven technologies.
Chief among the troublesome “structural factors” highlighted in this presentation are so-called “legacy systems” that are common in the U.S. but much less so in China. The NSCAI document states that examples of “legacy systems” include a financial system that still utilizes cash and card payments, individual car ownership and even receiving medical attention from a human doctor. It states that, while these “legacy systems” in the US are “good enough,” too many “good enough” systems “hinder the adoption of new things,” specifically AI-driven systems.
Another structural factor deemed by the NSCAI to be an obstacle to the U.S.’ ability to maintain a technological advantage over China is the “scale of the consumer market,” arguing that “extreme urban density = on-demand service adoption.” In other words, extreme urbanization results in more people using online or mobile-based “on-demand” services, ranging from ride-sharing to online shopping. It also cites the use of mass surveillance on China’s “huge population base” is an example of how China’s “scale of consumer market” advantage allowing “China to leap ahead” in the fields of related technologies, like facial recognition.
In addition to the alleged shortcomings of the U.S.’ “legacy systems” and lack of “extreme urban density,” the NSCAI also calls for more “explicit government support and involvement” as a means to speed up the adoption of these systems in the U.S. This includes the government lending its stores of data on civilians to train AI, specifically citing facial recognition databases, and mandating that cities be “re-architected around AVs [autonomous vehicles],” among others. Other examples given include the government investing large amounts of money in AI start-ups and adding tech behemoths to a national, public-private AI taskforce focused on smart city-implementation (among other things).
With regards to the latter, the document says “this level of public-private cooperation” in China is “outwardly embraced” by the parties involved, with this “serving as a stark contrast to the controversy around Silicon Valley selling to the U.S. government.” Examples of such controversy, from the NSCAI’s perspective, likely include Google employees petitioning to end the Google-Pentagon “Project Maven,” which uses Google’s AI software to analyze footage captured by drones. Google eventually chose not to renew its Maven contract as a result of the controversy, even though top Google executives viewed the project as a “golden opportunity” to collaborate more closely with the military and intelligence communities.
The document also defines another aspect of government support as the “clearing of regulatory barriers.” This term is used in the document specifically with respect to U.S. privacy laws, despite the fact that the U.S. national security state has long violated these laws with near complete impunity. However, the document seems to suggest that privacy laws in the U.S. should be altered so that what the U.S. government has done “in secret” with private citizen data can be done more openly and more extensively. The NSCAI document also discusses the removal of “regulatory barriers” in order to speed up the adoption of self-driving cars, even though autonomous driving technology has resulted in several deadly and horrific car accidents and presents other safety concerns.
Also discussed is how China’s “adoption advantage” will “allow it to leapfrog the U.S.” in several new fields, including “AI medical diagnosis” and “smart cities.” It then asserts that “the future will be decided at the intersection of private enterprise and policy leaders between China and the U.S.” If this coordination over the global AI market does not occur, the document warns that “we [the U.S.] risk being left out of the discussions where norms around AI are set for the rest of our lifetimes.”
The presentation also dwells considerably on how “the main battleground [in technology] are not the domestic Chinese and US markets,” but what it refers to as the NBU (next billion users) markets, where it states that “Chinese players will aggressively challenge Silicon Valley.” In order to challenge them more successfully, the presentation argues that, “just like we [view] the market of teenagers as a harbinger for new trends, we should look at China.”
The document also expresses concerns about China exporting AI more extensively and intensively than the U.S., saying that China is “already crossing borders” by helping to build facial databases in Zimbabwe and selling image recognition and smart city systems to Malaysia. If allowed to become “the unambiguous leader in AI,” it says that “China could end up writing much of the rulebook of international norms around the deployment of AI” and that it would “broaden China’s sphere of influence amongst an international community that increasingly looks to the pragmatic authoritarianism of China and Singapore as an alternative to Western liberal democracy.”
WHAT WILL REPLACE THE US’ “LEGACY SYSTEMS”?
Given that the document makes it quite clear that “legacy systems” in the U.S. are impeding its ability to prevent China from “leapfrogging” ahead in AI and then dominating it for the foreseeable future, it is also important to examine what the document suggests should replace these “legacy systems” in the U.S.
As previously mentioned, one “legacy system” cited early on in the presentation is the main means of payment for most Americans, cash and credit/debit cards. The presentation asserts, in contrast to these “legacy systems” that the best and most advanced system is moving entirely to smartphone-based digital wallets.
It notes specifically the main mobile wallet provider in India, PayTM, is majority owned by Chinese companies. It quotes an article, which states that “a big break came [in 2016] when India canceled 86% of currency in circulation in an effort to cut corruption and bring more people into the tax net by forcing them to use less cash.” At the time, claims that India’s 2016 “currency reform” would be used as a stepping stone towards a cashless society were dismissed by some as “conspiracy theory.” However, last year, a committee convened by India’s central bank (and led by an Indian tech oligarch who also created India’s massive civilian biometric database) resulted in the Indian government’s “Cashless India” program.
Regarding India’s 2016 “currency reform,” the NSCAI document then asserts that “this would be unfathomable in the West. And unsurprisingly, when 86% of the cash got cancelled and nobody had a credit card, mobile wallets in India exploded, laying the groundwork for a far more advanced payments ecosystem in India than the US.” However, it has become increasingly less unfathomable in light of the current coronavirus crisis, which has seen efforts to reduce the amount of cash used because paper bills may carry the virus as well as efforts to introduce a Federal Reserve-backed “digital dollar.”
In addition, the NSCAI document from last May calls for the end of in-person shopping and promotes moving towards all shopping being performed online. It argues that “American companies have a lot to gain by adopting ideas from Chinese companies” by shifting towards exclusive e-commerce purchasing options. It states that only shopping online provides a “great experience” and also adds that “when buying online is literally the only way to get what you want, consumers go online.”
Another “legacy system” that the NSCAI seeks to overhaul is car ownership, as it promotes autonomous, or self-driving vehicles and further asserts that “fleet ownership > individual ownership.” It specifically points to a need for “a centralized ride-sharing network,” which it says “is needed to coordinate cars to achieve near 100% utilization rates.” However, it warns against ride-sharing networks that “need a human operator paired with each vehicle” and also asserts that “fleet ownership makes more sense” than individual car ownership. It also specifically calls for these fleets to not only be composed of self-driving cars, but electric cars and cites reports that China “has the world’s most aggressive electric vehicle goals….and seek[s] the lead in an emerging industry.”
The document states that China leads in ride-sharing today even though ride-sharing was pioneered first in the U.S. It asserts once again that the U.S. “legacy system” of individual car ownership and lack of “extreme urban density” are responsible for China’s dominance in this area. It also predicts that China will “achieve mass autonomous [vehicle] adoption before the U.S.,” largely because “the lack of mass car ownership [in China] leads to far more consumer receptiveness to AVs [autonomous vehicles].” It then notes that “earlier mass adoption leads to a virtuous cycle that allows Chinese core self-driving tech to accelerate beyond [its] Western counterparts.”
In addition to their vision for a future financial system and future self-driving transport system, the NSCAI has a similarly dystopian vision for surveillance. The document calls mass surveillance “one of the ‘first-and-best customers’ for AI” and “a killer application for deep learning.” It also states that “having streets carpeted with cameras is good infrastructure.”
It then discusses how “an entire generation of AI unicorn” companies are “collecting the bulk of their early revenue from government security contracts” and praises the use of AI in facilitating policing activities. For instance, it lauds reports that “police are making convictions based on phone calls monitored with iFlyTek’s voice-recognition technology” and that “police departments are using [AI] facial recognition tech to assist in everything from catching traffic law violators to resolving murder cases.”
On the point of facial recognition technology specifically, the NSCAI document asserts that China has “leapt ahead” of the US on facial recognition, even though “breakthroughs in using machine learning for image recognition initially occurred in the US.” It claims that China’s advantage in this instance is because they have government-implemented mass surveillance (“clearing of regulatory barriers”), enormous government-provided stores of data (“explicit government support”) combined with private sector databases on a huge population base (“scale of consumer market”). As a consequence of this, the NSCAI argues, China is also set to leap ahead of the U.S. in both image/facial recognition and biometrics.
The document also points to another glaring difference between the U.S. and its rival, stating that: “In the press and politics of America and Europe, Al is painted as something to be feared that is eroding privacy and stealing jobs. Conversely, China views it as both a tool for solving major macroeconomic challenges in order to sustain their economic miracle, and an opportunity to take technological leadership on the global stage.”
The NSCAI document also touches on the area of healthcare, calling for the implementation of a system that seems to be becoming reality thanks to the current coronavirus crisis. In discussing the use of AI in healthcare (almost a year before the current crisis began), it states that “China could lead the world in this sector” and “this could lead to them exporting their tech and setting international norms.” One reason for this is also that China has “far too few doctors for the population” and calls having enough doctors for in-person visits a “legacy system.” It also cited U.S. regulatory measures such as “HIPPA compliance and FDA approval” as obstacles that don’t constrain Chinese authorities.
More troubling, it argues that “the potential impact of government supplied data is even more significant in biology and healthcare,” and says it is likely that “the Chinese government [will] require every single citizen to have their DNA sequenced and stored in government databases, something nearly impossible to imagine in places as privacy conscious as the U.S. and Europe.” It continues by saying that “the Chinese apparatus is well-equipped to take advantage” and calls these civilian DNA databases a “logical next step.”
WHO ARE THE NSCAI?
Given the sweeping changes to the U.S. that the NSCAI promoted in this presentation last May, it becomes important to examine who makes up the commission and to consider their influence over U.S. policy on these matters, particularly during the current crisis. As previously mentioned, the chairman of the NSCAI is Eric Schmidt, the former head of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) who has also invested heavily in Israeli intelligence-linked tech companies including the controversial start-up “incubator” Team8. In addition, the committee’s vice-chair is Robert Work, is not only a former top Pentagon official, but is currently working with the think tank CNAS, which is run by John McCain’s long-time foreign policy adviser and Joe Biden’s former national security adviser.
Other members of the NSCAI are as follows:
As can be seen in the list above, there is a considerable amount of overlap between the NSCAI and the companies currently advising the White House on “re-opening” the economy (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Lockheed Martin, Oracle) and one NSCAI member, Oracle’s Safra Katz, is on the White House’s “economic revival” taskforce. Also, there is also overlap between the NSCAI and the companies that are intimately involved in the implementation of the “contact tracing” “coronavirus surveillance system,” a mass surveillance system promoted by the Jared Kushner-led, private-sector coronavirus task force. That surveillance system is set to be constructed by companies with deep ties to Google and the U.S. national security state, and both Google and Apple, who create the operating systems for the vast majority of smartphones used in the U.S., have said they will now build that surveillance system directly into their smartphone operating systems.
Also notable is the fact that In-Q-Tel and the U.S. intelligence community has considerable representation on the NSCAI and that they also boast close ties with Google, Palantir and other Silicon Valley giants, having been early investors in those companies. Both Google and Palantir, as well as Amazon (also on the NSCAI) are also major contractors for U.S. intelligence agencies. In-Q-Tel’s involvement on the NSCAI is also significant because they have been heavily promoting mass surveillance of consumer electronic devices for use in pandemics for the past several years. Much of that push has come from In-Q-Tel’s current Executive Vice President Tara O’Toole, who was previously the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and also co-authored several controversial biowarfare/pandemic simulations, such as Dark Winter.
In addition, since at least January, the U.S. intelligence community and the Pentagon have been at the forefront of developing the U.S. government’s still-classified “9/11-style” response plans for the coronavirus crisis, alongside the National Security Council. Few news organizations have noted that these classified response plans, which are set to be triggered if and when the U.S. reaches a certain number of coronavirus cases, has been created largely by elements of the national security state (i.e. the NSC, Pentagon, and intelligence), as opposed to civilian agencies or those focused on public health issues.
Furthermore, it has been reported that the U.S. intelligence community as well as U.S. military intelligence knew by at least January (though recent reports have said as early as last November) that the coronavirus crisis would reach “pandemic proportions” by March. The American public were not warned, but elite members of the business and political classes were apparently informed, given the record numbers of CEO resignations in January and several high-profile insider trading allegations that preceded the current crisis by a matter of weeks.
Perhaps even more disconcerting is the added fact that the U.S. government not only participated in the eerily prescient pandemic simulation last October known as Event 201, it also led a series of pandemic response simulations last year. Crimson Contagion was a series of four simulations that involved 19 U.S. federal agencies, including intelligence and the military, as well as 12 different states and a host of private sector companies that simulated a devastating pandemic influenza outbreak that had originated in China. It was led by the current HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Robert Kadlec, who is a former lobbyist for military and intelligence contractors and a Bush-era homeland security “bioterrorism” advisor.
In addition, both Kadlec and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, which was intimately involved in Event 201, have direct ties to the controversial June 2001 biowarfare exercise “Dark Winter,” which predicted the 2001 anthrax attacks that transpired just months later in disturbing ways. Though efforts by media and government were made to blame the anthrax attacks on a foreign source, the anthrax was later found to have originated at a U.S. bioweapons lab and the FBI investigation into the case has been widely regarded as a cover-up, including by the FBI’s once-lead investigator on that case.
Given the above, it is worth asking if those who share the NSCAI’s vision saw the coronavirus pandemic early on as an opportunity to make the “structural changes” it had deemed essential to countering China’s lead in the mass adoption of AI-driven technologies, especially considering that many of the changes in the May 2019 document are now quickly taking place under the guise of combatting the coronavirus crisis.
THE NSCAI’S VISION TAKES SHAPE
Though the May 2019 NSCAI document was authored nearly a year ago, the coronavirus crisis has resulted in the implementation of many of the changes and the removal of many of the “structural” obstacles that the commission argued needed to be drastically altered in order to ensure a technological advantage over China in the field of AI. The aforementioned move away from cash, which is taking place not just in the U.S. but internationally, is just one example of many.
For instance, earlier this week CNN reported that grocery stores are now considering banning in-person shopping and that the U.S. Department of Labor has recommended that retailers nationwide start “‘using a drive-through window or offering curbside pick-up’ to protect workers for exposure to coronavirus.” In addition, last week, the state of Florida approved an online-purchase plan for low income families using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Other reports have argued that social distancing inside grocery stores is ineffective and endangering people’s lives. As previously mentioned, the May 2019 NSCAI document argues that moving away from in-person shopping is necessary to mitigate China’s “adoption advantage” and also argued that “when buying online is literally the only way to get what you want, consumers go online.”
Reports have also argued that these changes in shopping will last far beyond coronavirus, such as an article by Business Insider entitled “The coronavirus pandemic is pushing more people online and will forever change how Americans shop for groceries, experts say.” Those cited in the piece argue that this shift away from in-person shopping will be “permanent” and also states that “More people are trying these services than otherwise would have without this catalyst and gives online players a greater chance to acquire and keep a new customer base.” A similar article in Yahoo! News argues that, thanks to the current crisis, “our dependence on online shopping will only rise because no one wants to catch a virus at a shop.”
In addition, the push towards the mass use of self-driving cars has also gotten a boost thanks to coronavirus, with driverless cars now making on-demand deliveries in California. Two companies, one Chinese-owned and the other backed by Japan’s SoftBank, have since been approved to have their self-driving cars used on California roads and that approval was expedited due to the coronavirus crisis. The CPO of Nuro Inc., the SoftBank-backed company, was quoted in Bloomberg as saying that “The Covid-19 pandemic has expedited the public need for contactless delivery services. Our R2 fleet is custom-designed to change the very nature of driving and the movement of goods by allowing people to remain safely at home while their groceries, medicines, and packages are brought to them.” Notably, the May 2019 NSCAI document references the inter-connected web of SoftBank-backed companies, particularly those backed by its largely Saudi-funded “Vision Fund,” as forming “the connective tissue for a global federation of tech companies” set to dominate AI.
California isn’t the only state to start using self-driving cars, as the Mayo Clinic of Florida is now also using them. “Using artificial intelligence enables us to protect staff from exposure to this contagious virus by using cutting-edge autonomous vehicle technology and frees up staff time that can be dedicated to direct treatment and care for patients,” Kent Thielen, M.D., CEO of Mayo Clinic in Florida stated in a recent press release cited by Mic.
Like the changes to in-person shopping in the age of coronavirus, other reports assert that self-driving vehicles are here to stay. One report published by Mashable is entitled “It took a coronavirus outbreak for self-driving cars to become more appealing,” and opens by stating “Suddenly, a future full of self-driving cars isn’t just a sci-fi pipe dream. What used to be considered a scary, uncertain technology for many Americans looks more like an effective tool to protect ourselves from a fast-spreading, infectious disease.” It further argues that this is hardly a “fleeting shift” in driving habits and one tech CEO cited in the piece, Anuja Sonalker of Steer Tech, claims that “There has been a distinct warming up to human-less, contactless technology. Humans are biohazards, machines are not.”
Another focus of the NSCAI presentation, AI medicine, has also seen its star rise in recent weeks. For instance, several reports have touted how AI-driven drug discovery platforms have been able to identify potential treatments for coronavirus. Microsoft, whose research lab director is on the NSCAI, recently put $20 million into its “AI for health” program to speed up the use of AI in analyzing coronavirus data. In addition, “telemedicine”– a form of remote medical care – has also become widely adopted due to the coronavirus crisis.
Several other AI-driven technologies have similarly become more widely adopted thanks to coronavirus, including the use of mass surveillance for “contact tracing” as well as facial recognition technology and biometrics. A recent Wall Street Journal report stated that the government is seriously considering both contact tracing via phone geolocation data and facial recognition technology in order to track those who might have coronavirus. In addition, private businesses – like grocery stores and restaurants – are using sensors and facial recognition to see how many people and which people are entering their stores.
As far as biometrics go, university researchers are now working to determine if “smartphones and biometric wearables already contain the data we need to know if we have become infected with the novel coronavirus.” Those efforts seek to detect coronavirus infections early by analyzing “sleep schedules, oxygen levels, activity levels and heart rate” based on smartphone apps like FitBit and smartwatches. In countries outside the U.S., biometric IDs are being touted as a way to track those who have and lack immunity to coronavirus.
In addition, one report in The Edge argued that the current crisis is changing what types of biometrics should be used, asserting that a shift towards thermal scanning and facial recognition is necessary:
“At this critical juncture of the crisis, any integrated facial recognition and thermal scanning solution must be implemented easily, rapidly and in a cost-effective manner. Workers returning to offices or factories must not have to scramble to learn a new process or fumble with declaration forms. They must feel safe and healthy for them to work productively. They just have to look at the camera and smile. Cameras and thermal scanners, supported by a cloud-based solution and the appropriate software protocols, will do the rest.”
Also benefiting from the coronavirus crisis is the concept of “smart cities,” with Forbes recently writing that “Smart cities can help us combat the coronavirus pandemic.” That article states that “Governments and local authorities are using smart city technology, sensors and data to trace the contacts of people infected with the coronavirus. At the same time, smart cities are also helping in efforts to determine whether social distancing rules are being followed.”
That article in Forbes also contains the following passage:
“…[T]he use of masses of connected sensors makes it clear that the coronavirus pandemic is–intentionally or not–being used as a testbed for new surveillance technologies that may threaten privacy and civil liberties. So aside from being a global health crisis, the coronavirus has effectively become an experiment in how to monitor and control people at scale.”
Another report in The Guardian states that “If one of the government takeaways from coronavirus is that ‘smart cities’ including Songdo or Shenzhen are safer cities from a public health perspective, then we can expect greater efforts to digitally capture and record our behaviour in urban areas – and fiercer debates over the power such surveillance hands to corporations and states.” There have also been reports that assert that typical cities are “woefully unprepared” to face pandemics compared to “smart cities.”
Yet, beyond many of the NSCAI’s specific concerns regarding mass AI adoption being conveniently resolved by the current crisis, there has also been a concerted effort to change the public’s perception of AI in general. As previously mentioned, the NSCAI had pointed out last year that:
“In the press and politics of America and Europe, Al is painted as something to be feared that is eroding privacy and stealing jobs. Conversely, China views it as both a tool for solving major macroeconomic challenges in order to sustain their economic miracle, and an opportunity to take technological leadership on the global stage.”
Now, less than a year later, the coronavirus crisis has helped spawn a slew of headlines in just the last few weeks that paint AI very differently, including “How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Fight Coronavirus,” “How AI May Prevent the Next Coronavirus Outbreak,” “AI Becomes an Ally in the Fight Against COVID-19,” “Coronavirus: AI steps up in battle against COVID-19,” and “Here’s How AI Can Help Africa Fight the Coronavirus,” among numerous others.
It is indeed striking how the coronavirus crisis has seemingly fulfilled the NSCAI’s entire wishlist and removed many of the obstacles to the mass adoption of AI technologies in the United States. Like major crises of the past, the national security state appears to be using the chaos and fear to promote and implement initiatives that would be normally rejected by Americans and, if history is any indicator, these new changes will remain long after the coronavirus crisis fades from the news cycle. It is essential that these so-called “solutions” be recognized for what they are and that we consider what type of world they will end up creating – an authoritarian technocracy. We ignore the rapid advance of these NSCAI-promoted initiatives and the phasing out of so-called “legacy systems” (and with them, many long-cherished freedoms) at our own peril.
Question Everything, Come To Your Own Conclusions.
U.S. Army Field Manual 6-22, titled “Leadership Development,” states that the ability to show empathy toward others is a key factor in exhibiting Army leadership qualities. Donald Trump, who is ordering all 1000 graduating U.S. Army cadets at West Point back to campus on June 13 from sheltering at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, does not possess the leadership skills that have been drilled into each of the new Army Second Lieutenants who will be present for Trump’s commencement address. In fact, Trump’s overly-acquiescent Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, had to issue a waiver for the cadets to travel because he had previously banned military personnel from travel until June 30.
The Army Field Manual states that “The capacity for empathy is an important attribute for leaders to possess. Empathy can allow leaders to understand how their actions will make others feel and react. Empathy can help leaders to understand those that they deal with including other Soldiers, Army Civilians, local populace, and even enemy forces. Being able to see from another’s viewpoint enables a leader to understand those around them better.” During Trump’s scheduled commencement speech, which will be full of his usual right-wing vitriol, will be directed at a class of non-political newly-minted Army officers. None of what Trump says will comply with the Army’s leadership training.
On May 8, Trump visited Washington, DC’s World War II Memorial to honor the veterans of World War II on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day. Trump, traveling by motorcade from a White House rife with Covid-19 cases, including inside the presidential private quarters and his Secret Service protective detail, refused to wear a mask, thus putting at risk World War II veterans, including some between the ages of 96 and 100, to being infected with the highly-contagious virus. Esper, a coward of the first degree, hid behind the veterans while also refusing to wear a mask.
Trump’s designated “blond bimbo” and PR flack masquerading as a White House Press Secretary, former CNN blathering head Kayleigh McEnany, placed the onus for being exposed to the virus on the elderly veterans, stating, “They made the choice to come here.” McEnany, whose idea of personal sacrifice is not being able to dine at Washington’s chic restaurants during the pandemic, was absolutely galling in her airy dismissal of the virus threat posed by her draft-dodging boss to veterans of Monte Cassino, Omaha Beach, Anzio, and the Ardennes.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, like Trump and Bolsonaro, gave the impression that Covid-19 was a bad case of influenza and even bragged about shaking hands with people, including coronavirus patients, because of his role as a politician. That was before March 27, when Johnson entered self-isolation after he tested positive for the coronavirus. Johnson was later admitted to the intensive care unit of a National Health Service (NHS) hospital. Johnson, who mocked the seriousness of Covid-19 and the NHS, became a bit more empathetic after he nearly died from the virus and was saved by NHS medical personnel. Johnson and his fiancée gave their newly-born son the middle name of Nicholas in honor of the two NHS doctors, Drs. Nicholas Hart and Nicholas Price, who helped save his life. Johnson’s token empathy for coronavirus sufferers is in marked contrast to that of Trump and the even more despicable Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has done everything possible to set the worst possible example in encouraging Brazilians to ignore public health restrictions.
Trump’s vile lack of empathy for those whose lives have been disrupted by Covid-19 stands in sharp contrast to another American president. In April 1980, while facing a tough re-election campaign, Carter paid a visit to Brooke Army Medical Center near San Antonio, Texas to visit injured U.S. servicemen who had taken part in a failed mission to rescue U.S. embassy hostages in Iran. Four of the military men had been horribly burned during the mission and were in the Army’s special unit for burn victims. Carter had no problem donning a white hospital gown and a mask in order to talk with the burn victims at their bedsides. Moreover, Carter did not want the press to be aware of his visit, something that shocked his campaign advisers.
Carter displayed more empathy in a single day in 1980 spent with the injured military personnel than Trump has in his entire life. And Carter had no problem suiting up in hospital personal protective gear to protect the servicemen from an infection. In fact, Carter should not even be mentioned in the same sentence as the selfish and self-aggrandizing Trump. One is a Christian, who, at the age of 95, continues to practice his faith daily. The other is a false Christian who is supported by an array of self-professed charlatan television evangelists who, like Trump, only know the religion of fraud, grifting, skimming, and fakery.
One U.S. president, who knew a thing or two about leadership U.S. Army-style was Dwight D. Eisenhower. One of Eisenhower’s principles was not claiming to know everything. Trump, on the other hand, believes he knows everything. Eisenhower wrote in his book, “At Ease: Stories I Tell My Friends,” “Always try to associate yourself with and learn as much as you can from those who know more than you do, who do better than you, who see more clearly than you.” Just an ounce of that advice might have prevented the United States from catapulting to a Covid-19 death rate of well over 100,000 in the next few months.
Some historians have argued that Warren Harding, who died in office, ranked at the very bottom of the list of U.S. presidents, especially when it comes to integrity. That was perhaps the case until Trump was elected. Harding, a newspaper publisher, had empathy for others, a trait not found in Trump. Harding was also a humble man, who once said, “I am a man of limited talents from a small town.”
Some historians argue that Ronald Reagan, who brought all sorts of right-wingers into his administration, helped bring about the Trump administration nearly two decades later. While some of that is certainly true, Reagan did possess the quality of empathy. That was on display in 1985 in his memorable and soothing speech made after the loss of the crew of the Challenger space shuttle. Reagan had a habit of writing personal checks for as much as $4000 and $5000 dollars to people who were in financial need. He also never wanted his monetary gifts made public, telling one of his aides, “I was poor myself.” The only other recent president, who matched Reagan’s empathy by sending those in need personal checks, was Barack Obama.
During Britain’s “darkest hour” that followed the fall of France in 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill would often disappear from his secure location in the Cabinet War Room bunkers under the streets of London to mingle with ordinary Londoners in various neighborhoods in the British capital. Churchill placed as much interest in what the common folk thought as he did in the opinions of his political and military advisers. The reason was that Churchill, like other successful leaders, had empathy.
Empathetic leaders are not merely found in the history of the United States and Europe. For every selfish and uncaring Bolsonaro, Latin America has produced scores of empathetic leaders, people who understood poverty and the needs of their citizens: Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Jose “Pepe” Mujica of Uruguay, Joao Goulart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Nestor and Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, Salvador Allende of Chile, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and others.
Empathy. Carter, Eisenhower, Reagan, Harding, and Churchill, as well as other U.S. and world leaders had it. Trump never has and never will experience empathy and thousands of Americans and others have died and are dying because of it.
Who cares what the Neocons think? They have no moral authority to police the bounds of allowable opinion
John A. BURTKA IV
The banner of principled conservatism is now being carried by the architects of American carnage. By “principled conservatives” all they mean is that they are conservatives who oppose the Republican president. If they have principles—foreign policy interventionism and neoliberal economics—they are bad ones. After The Weekly Standard closed its doors, Bill Kristol and his gang moved on to start new web publications like The Bulwark and The Dispatch. From their new perches, they attempt to police the boundaries of allowable opinion in American politics. We should not let them.
On a personal level, most of these neoconservatives turned Never-Trumpers are very nice people. I’ve known many of them for years. They are serious about their faith, family, and country, and treat others with respect. But politics isn’t about being nice, it’s about the real impact of policy on people’s lives—both at home and abroad. By any measurable standard, their careers are failures. Their policies have killed, yes, literally killed, hundreds of thousands, and they should not be taken seriously.
Their latest attempt to play the part of moral traffic cop came last week when the Bulwark published a hit piece on Rusty Reno & First Things. The catalyst for the article was a series of tweets that Rusty published on Twitter about how people who wear masks are cowards. He made a mistake, and I myself told Rusty he came off like an ass, even though many conservatives actually agree with his broader point about the culture of fear that is developing around the virus. But as The Bulwark acknowledged, their story was not actually about Rusty’s tweets. Rusty’s tweets were simply an excuse to take a scalp. Their real contention is that Rusty has soiled First Things by embracing “Trumpism.” In other words, Rusty is the latest victim of TDS, Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Look, I don’t agree with everything Trump says or tweets. No one does! He says a lot of crazy shit, much of it’s true. But the cure can’t be worse than the disease, as people say. And I’m not talking about the pandemic, but about those who lose their minds in response to passing comments on Twitter. Yes, we all have a moral responsibility to “tame the tongue.” It is, as St. James put it, “…a restless evil. Full of deadly poison.” But after dustups like these, critics at The Bulwark have a way of making themselves look like the ones who need to go to the corner for a time out. SAD!
What exactly is this “Trumpism” that The Bulwark decries? Their chief exemplar is the “Against the Dead Consensus” manifesto that First Things published in March of 2019. In it, the signatories, make their case for, GASP, “common good conservatism,” which defenders of warmed over Reagansim describe as “ill thought out—little more than inchoate mush.- mushy highlights?
Man the ramparts. Lock the doors. Here comes the BAD ORANGE MAN with his “infected” magazine. Be watchful, Trumpism comes like a thief in the night!
Let’s be honest. The manifesto is nothing more than Catholic Social Teaching with a populist veneer. It’s goal is to push conservatism in a “pro-worker, pro-family” direction. After decades of conservatives sucking up to the Military Industrial Complex and Big Business, this is a breath of fresh air. But not if you’re an editor at The Bulwark.
Why is that? Because they cannot stand the thought that neoconservative ideology has been thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the American people. They miss patting themselves on the back in the Rose Garden on sunny afternoons while the Christian population of Iraq was being decimated, collapsing by over 1 million people, since the beginning of the war. They long for the days when they can be back in power—preferably in a Joe Biden administration—to lecture purportedly “backwards” Arabs on how to practice gratitude. As Kristol’s former colleague, Fred Barnes once put , “I’d like to see one other thing in Iraq, an outbreak of gratitude for the greatest act of benevolence one country has ever done for another. A grateful Iraqi heart would be a sign of a new Iraqi attitude and a signal of sure success.”
Behold the power of positivity! With a little bit of elbow grease and a “can-do” attitude, there will be a thousand George Washingtons blooming in every corner of the Fertile Crescent.
As their fearless leader once said in his second inaugural: “I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes.”
Well, we’ve seen with our eyes. Today, Bush is a nice old man who passes out candy and paints pictures. But his presidency was an unequivocal catastrophe. Trump was right, “The worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country: going into the Middle East, by President Bush.”
That’s why Trump is president and the Bush-era neocons have been sidelined. If that was the price for exorcising the idealistic infection of Bushism, then so be it. Two years later, I stand by my obituary in the Washington Post, “The Weekly Standard is gone. But the future of conservatism is bright.”
So President Trump, the self-declared business genius, wants to cut off the whole relationship with China and “save America $500 billion a year”. That’s what he told Fox News this week in an interview referring to the US trade deficit with China. The fault of the chronic US trade deficit with China (and much of the world), like that of the Covid-19 crisis in America, is classic 3-D Trump: dissembling, distracting and dealing in guilt-projection.
Trump is a simpleton, a narcissistic buffoon and a demagogue whose unhinged megalomaniac rantings are an incendiary incitement to war. Like all demagogues he has the knack for making complex problems sound as if they can be easily fixed – by scapegoating others.
He rails against trade “supply chains” coming from China supposedly costing Americans $500 billion a year in trade deficit. As if corporate America gave away its manufacturing base to China like a gift. American capitalists like Trump’s daughter and retail-fashion owner Ivanka took their businesses to China to avail of cheap labor and to export back to the US at huge profit.
Cutting off China’s exports to the US will hit American consumers with crippling price inflation which will impoverish them even more in their low-wage, job-insecure dependency on cheap goods. Just like when Trump’s earlier tariff war with Beijing resulted in US farmers getting clobbered from reprisal curbs on their exports of soybean and corn to China. The president has a unique way of hurting Americans whom he claims to champion.
Unfortunately, Trump’s confrontational demagoguery towards China appears to be working to his benefit, at least on the short-term. Pew Research Center surveys that anti-China sentiment among Americans is at an all-time high. Ever since Trump entered the White House, he has taken public hostility towards China to ever-higher levels, with his toxic talk about how America is being “cheated” and “ripped-off”.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, however, Trump’s rhetoric is going off the charts with irrationality and intemperance. He is blaming China for record deaths and economic destruction of America with unfounded accusations of Beijing “covering up” the outbreak of the disease and thus, allegedly, deceiving the US into crisis. “They could have stopped it at source,” he claims with irresponsible innuendo.
Trump has caricatured the crisis as the “worse attack since Pearl Harbor”. This is reckless, incendiary claptrap. But, deplorably, it seems to be galvanizing Americans into viewing China as an enemy.
In his interview with Fox, Trump ramped up the animus and got personal. With regard to China’s President Xi Jinping, Trump said: “I don’t want to speak to him.”
The smear campaign to demonize China is being laid on with a grease gun. Trump and his knuckle-dragging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accuse China of cover-up and releasing the virus from a laboratory. Trump has even implied this was done to wreck his re-election as president in November. The irony of it: Trump-the-Russiagate-victim, now playing the Chinagate card.
Washington politicians want to cancel American debt obligations to China which holds about $1 trillion in US treasury bonds. This is simply America self-licensing itself for grand larceny.
US senators are pushing to impose economic sanctions on China if it does not satisfy their demands for it to prove innocence over the fabricated allegations about cover-up. Given the high-handed American arrogance not to mention meat-headed stupidity of its politicians, China’s “guilt” is a foregone conclusion. Then what? War?
The Trump administration is threatening to with-hold over half a trillion dollars in federal pension-fund investments in China’s stock market. More chicanery under the guise of scapegoating; and further war moves. Just who is cheating and ripping off whom here?
And it’s not just the Trump administration knuckle-draggers who are wielding the clubs. The supposedly more liberal Democrats are also ramping up the anti-China rhetoric in a bid to out-do Trump in jingoistic China-bashing. The New York Times, often opposed to Trump, has leaned into his demagogic demonization of China by hyping up baseless claims from the FBI that Chinese hackers are stealing US research into vaccines for Covid-19. That inevitably insinuates China is harming America’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. Yet more cause for war.
American belligerence towards China has a sinister bipartisan front – as it always has.
So-called liberals and Democrats blame the Republican president for mismanaging the Covid-19 pandemic. They are correct in this. America’s shocking death toll from the disease is unprecedented. It exposes the immense failure of US society, its economy and government. But this isn’t entirely Trump’s fault. He is but the uncouth face of a failed system that has been cratering over many decades from its hyper consumer-capitalism dystopia. Rather than dealing with that reality, the Democrats and corporate media will join in Trump’s cynical campaign to scapegoat China for all of America’s deep-seated ills.
The only redemption for the US is a deep and honest dive into the corruption of its political ruling class and their system of oligarchic enrichment, their obscene militarism, and tyranny of “national security” suppression of democracy.
To avoid that kind of democratic reckoning, Trump and all the other Washington wastrels and sociopaths will do everything they can to distract with slanderous incitement against China, no matter how ridiculous and no matter how reckless.
Cutting off the whole relationship with China? Trump is delusional and dangerous. He and the whole American political class are willing to jeopardize world security, even to the point of starting a war, as long as that conceals their corrupt rule.
China involved in pandemic cover-up? That’s the most audacious American guilt-projection since the “War on Terror”.
Sadly, though, Americans seem so brainwashed and misinformed, the ruling charlatans may get away with murder, just like they’re accustomed to do.
“I am with Joe Biden all the way- let’s get this country back to where it was before the orange man started destroying it!!!”, reads a viral tweet by tennis legend Martina Navratilova that was going around recently.
This idea that Obama’s vice president will restore normality to a nation that has been ruined by a highly abnormal president has been a very common sentiment among Democrats for a long time now, and it’s silly for a number of reasons.
Firstly, wanting America to go back to how it was before Trump is wanting the conditions which gave rise to Trump. This is like landing at the bottom of a well and wishing you could go back in time to a few moments earlier when you were merely falling down the well. Wanting the same status quo austerity, exploitation, oppression and warmongering that made people so angry they wanted an obnoxious demagogue to come knock over the whole apple cart in the first place is just rewinding the same horror movie to the scene right before the scene that’s scaring you.
Secondly, this fabled “return to normality” that Biden is supposedly offering is literally impossible, since normality never actually left. Normality never left, because Donald Trump is a very normal US president.
Don’t yell at me, it’s true. This is something people who love Trump and people who hate him will be equally vehemently averse to hearing, but it’s just a fact: Donald Trump is a normal US president. If hearing this upsets you your gripe isn’t with me, it’s with reality.
To be clear, this is not a good thing. Trump has kept the bloodthirsty imperialism, corporate cronyism, Orwellian oppression, neoliberal exploitation and police militarization that holds the US empire together ticking along in basically the same way as his predecessors, in some ways more egregiously and in some ways less so. For all the evils he’s helped inflict on our world he still hasn’t done anything as bad as the two wars Bush launched during his first term, or arguably even Obama’s destruction of Libya and attempted destruction of Syria during his.
Trump hasn’t even matched Obama’s deportation numbers, but he has imprisoned Julian Assange, re-started the Cold War, 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, occupied Syrian oil fields 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. To name just a few of the ways Trump has continued and expanded upon the depravity of his predecessors just as they did theirs.
Trump is a very normal president, the media just yell about this president a lot more than usual because he puts an ugly face on the horrific normal that was already there. Sure he makes rude tweets and says dumb things and has made a mess of the pandemic response, but by and large when you strip away the narrative overlay Trump has been a reliable establishment lapdog advancing more or less all the same status quo imperialist and oligarchic agendas as the presidents who came before him. There are just a lot of establishment loyalists with a vested interest in spinning the ugliness his oafishness is exposing as caused by and unique to him.
So when they say “Biden 2020, for a return to normal”, all they’re really saying is “Biden 2020, for a depravity you can sleep through”.
“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. We can’t say exactly what ‘normal’ is; it will still definitely involve military expansionism, mass murder, ecocide, omnicidal cold war escalations, crushing austerity and economic, social and racial injustice. But by golly, it’ll feel normal.”
“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. Nothing will fundamentally change, but the media will stop screaming in your face all the time about how freakishly abnormal this particular presidency is.”
“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. No, not a return to sanity, peace, prosperity, democracy and equanimity in America; America never had those things, so there’s no returning to them. We just mean we’ll return to making it easier for you not to think about that.”
“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. To when you were able to sleep comfortably through the violence, insanity and depraved psychopathy of the status quo instead of having it unpleasantly drawn to your attention by rude tweets.”
“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. A return to the days where a competent president makes important decisions in accordance with the will of the electorate. That’s right, a return to a fictional fantasy land where you can live in your imagination.”
“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. A return to the days when you could happily pretend that freakish, murderous madness spanning the entire planet is normal.”
“Biden or Trump 2020, for a return to normal. Because ‘normal’ never bloody left.”
Trump is normal. Trump is normal. Trump. Is. Normal. Trump is the thing that normal is.
And that’s precisely the problem.
It isn’t Trump’s abnormality that makes him truly heinous, it’s his normality. It’s his perpetuation of a status quo which is brutal, corrupt, and utterly fascistic. And which got there long before he did.
This is what your government is, America. This is what it’s always been. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, don’t just try to put a nicer mask on it so you can go back to sleep. Change it. Change your normal. Create a new normal.
Trump is everything America is. As one reader recently put it, “Trump didn’t make things the way they are, he is the personification of the situation. If the United States was a suit, then it was tailor made for Trump.”
Trump is normal. If you don’t like your normal, America, then push for real change, not cosmetic change. It’s not going to come from any president. It’s going to have to come from you.
It is far from clear how the world will eventually transition from the current Covid-19 pandemic. There are both deep apprehensions and yet also hopeful signs of progress towards a better future.
The World Health Organization this week warns that the viral disease may not be eradicated and could become a permanent threat to human health in the same way that the HIV disease presents.
In any case, global deaths from Covid-19 are bound to increase beyond the current level of 300,000, thereby wreaking further havoc on national economies and societies.
The economic devastation from the pandemic is global in scope but Western economies seem particularly hardest hit. The United States and Europe are grimly looking at abysmal falls in their economies which are being described as the worst since the Great Depression during the 1930s. There is little doubt that the pandemic is bringing about epochal change in the world.
A recent analysis by the Economist Intelligence Unit predicts that the geopolitical balance of economic power will pivot decisively from West to East following the pandemic.
The EIU comments: “It will act as an accelerant of existing geopolitical trends, in particular the growing rivalry between the U.S. and China and the shift in the economic balance of power from West to East.”
The escalation of provocative accusations from the Trump administration against China blaming the latter for the pandemic are baseless and reckless. But such vilification speaks of the sharper antagonism being expressed by the U.S. towards China, an antagonism that has been simmering for years before the latest crisis emerged. The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified American hostility towards Beijing precisely because the crisis has exposed the frailty of U.S. global power and the underlying shift that was already underway away from a U.S.-dominated world order. In short, Washington is lashing out from a fearful realization of its own feelings of insecurity as the world’s presumed “exceptional power”.
In a world confronted by existential threats the emphasis must be on multilateral cooperation and mutual partnership. The story of an invisible pathogen moving swiftly and seamlessly across borders, rendering trillion-dollar security systems futile, demonstrates the imperative of global cooperation.
President Trump’s so-called ‘America First’ policy, and more generally American unipolar conceit that has been around for decades, is being exposed for the dangerous fallacy that it is. Trump’s abandoning of the World Health Organization on the basis of slanderous claims relating to China epitomizes the redundancy of the U.S. model for global power. The abject failings of the U.S. to contain the Covid-19 pandemic stem from not only its baleful foreign policies but also from the bankruptcy of its capitalist economy and monetization of public health infrastructure in particular.
As evolutionary epidemiologist Rob Wallace eloquently put it in a recent interview: “Pandemics are mirrors. They tell a society its status.”
With extraordinarily high death tolls, the U.S. (80,000) and Britain (40,000) demonstrate their socio-economic systems are far from a healthy status. The Anglo-American model of capitalism is a failure. Parts of Europe have done better in handling the pandemic due to wider social democracy, but still the adherence to neoliberal capitalism had done much to exacerbate the damage from the disease in the European Union, as Italy and Spain attest.
China and Eurasia more generally appear to have shown greater fortitude and resilience in managing the pandemic. The death tolls are much less compared with Western nations, despite widespread infection from Covid-19. Part of that success is stronger state intervention and public health services. This is not to claim that China, Russia and others are paragons of economic progress to be emulated by the rest of the world. But one thing to their immense credit is the consistent advocacy of multilateralism and mutual partnership which leaders of these countries have made over many years. Such advocacy is in stark contrast to the zero-sum Cold War mentality of the U.S. and its European allies (minions), which seeks to demarcate the world into spheres of influence under Washington’s hegemony and Western private capital.
There are clear signs that the erstwhile U.S.-dominated global order is actually one of disorder where destructive, predatory relations and endless wars have prevailed. A pandemic disease has merely exposed the sociopathic disorder of U.S.-dominated global capitalism.
As the threat of pandemics seem to be increasing every decade, according to this international study by Rob Wallace and his colleagues, it is high time for a new global arrangement and vision of cooperation among nations.
It seems entirely appropriate that this present pandemic is shifting the global balance of economic power from West to East in a way that facilitates a transition to a more viable world. A successful, peaceful transition is far from a foregone conclusion. But it is possible.
Hawk Elliot Abrams, reborn as a U.S. envoy, is at the spear point of recent aggressive moves in Venezuela.
As we await answers on who funded the plot to use a handful of mercenaries and ex-Green Berets to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, it’s worth taking a closer look at the man behind regime change policy, the special envoy on Venezuela, Elliott Abrams.
Called the “neocon zombie” by officials at the State Department, Abrams is known as an operator who doesn’t let anything stand in his way. He has a long history of pursuing disastrous policies in government.
A little background on Abrams: when he served as Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for human rights, he concealed a massacre of a thousand men, women, and children by U.S.-funded death squads in El Salvador. He was also involved in the Iran Contra scandal, helping to secure covert funding for Contra rebels in Nicaragua in violation of laws passed by Congress. In 1991, he pled guilty to lying to Congress about the America’s role in those two fiascos—twice.
Under President George W. Bush, Abrams promoted regime change in Iraq.
Abrams was initially blocked from joining the Trump administration on account of a Never Trump op-ed he’d penned. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo succeeded in bringing him onboard last year, despite his history of support for disastrous regime change policies.
It’s no surprise that with Abrams at the helm, U.S. rhetoric and actions towards Venezuela are constantly “escalating,” Dr. Alejandro Velasco, associate professor of Modern Latin America at New York University, said an interview with TAC.
Meanwhile, Abrams announced the “Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela,” which calls on Maduro’s government to embrace a power-sharing deal. The plan doesn’t explain how Venezuelan leaders with bounties on their heads are supposed to come to the table and negotiate with Juan Guaido, whom the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Abrams has also said that the U.S. does not support a coup.
A few days after recommending a power-sharing arrangement, and 18 years after the U.S. backed a putsch against Hugo Chavez, Abrams warned that if Maduro resisted the organization of a “transitional government,” his departure would be far more “dangerous and abrupt.” To many, Abrams’ aggressive rhetoric against Maduro made it sound like the U.S. was “effectively threatening him with another assassination attempt,” like the one Washington had “tacitly supported” in 2018.
Two weeks after Abrams’ warning, Operation Gideon began. Jordan Goudreau, an American citizen, former Green Beret, and three-time Bronze Star recipient for bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Javier Nieto, a retired Venezuelan military captain, posted a video from an undisclosed location saying they had launched an attack that was meant to begin a rebellion that would lead to Maduro’s arrest and the installation of Juan Guaido.
In a public relations coup for Maduro, the plot was quickly foiled. Given that American citizens were involved and have produced a contract allegedly signed by Guaido, the incident has severely harmed the reputations of both the U.S. and the Venezuelan opposition.
Both President Trump and Pompeo have denied that the U.S. had any “direct” involvement with Goudreau’s plot.
However, the Trump administration has given billions of dollars from USAID to Venezuela, and that money is largely untraceable due to concerns about outing supporters of Guaido.
“With all the cash and arms sloshing around in Venezuela,” it is not hard to imagine how U.S. funding could inadvertently wind up supporting something like this, said Velasco.
There are other signs that the U.S. may have been more involved in the plot than they are saying publicly.
For one, American mercenaries don’t carry passports identifying themselves as American nor do they return to the U.S. where they can be brought up on charges for their work, said Sean McFate, professor of war and strategy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the National Defense University.
In order to sell weapons or training to another nation, it is necessary to receive permission from the State Department. It’s unclear whether Goudreau and his band did so. But Goudreau’s social media posts look like a pretty “clear cut” violation of the International Convention Against the Recruitment, Financing and Training of Mercenaries and the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) said Peter Singer, a senior fellow at New America.
We know that months before the fated coup, the CIA met with Goudreau in Jamaica and allegedly warned him off the project. According to the AP, Goudreau is now under investigation for arms trafficking. Members of Congress have asked the State Department what they knew of Goudreau’s plans. Given the illegal nature of the supposedly unauthorized project, it’s very strange that the ringleader is at present in Florida, talking to the press and posting on social media.
Besides that warning, it seems no one in government tried to stop this calamitous operation.
And it’s not just regime change. Last year, Abrams advocated granting special immigration status for the 70,000 Venezuelans residing illegally in the U.S. as a way to “pressure Maduro” even though Trump ran on the promise to severely limit the number of people granted Temporary Protected Status.
It was in pursuit of special status for Venezuelans that Abrams showed himself to be “incredibly pompous, bull-headed, and willing to destroy anyone who opposes him, in a personal way, including by trashing their reputations in the media,” another senior State Department official told TAC. Abrams is not above hiding policy options he doesn’t like and offering only those he favors to Pompeo to present to Trump, sources said.
Abrams ultimately prevailed and Venezuelans received refugee status from the Trump administration, despite the fact that it betrayed Trump’s campaign promises.
According to Velasco, there are some people in the administration who believe that Venezuelans are the “new Cubans”—that they will become a solid, loyal Republican vote in the swing state of Florida if they’re granted special status. They also believe that Venezuelan expats want to see the U.S. remove Maduro. There are “many Cold Warriors” who believe all it will take is a “little push” for Venezuelans to rise up and take out Maduro, said Velasco.
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on whether Abrams is pursuing a military confrontation in Venezuela.
“Cold Warrior” beliefs are dangerous. While “Operation Gideon” was especially clownish, had it been more sophisticated, it could have easily sparked a world war. The Russians, Iranians, and Chinese are all operating in Venezuela.
That specter is even more concerning now that Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov has said that Russian special services are on standby to help Venezuela’s investigation of the mercenaries.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to dominate the news and life of the American Republic. With currently no end in sight it is not paranoid to wonder if and how the pandemic will affect the presidential elections coming up in November. Two World Wars, The Civil War, The Great Depression and the Spanish Flu were not enough to stop voting for some congressmen and the top executive of the United States as planned. Now for the first time there are rumors moving about that there could be a major delay for voting nationwide. On a state level delays have happened a few times in history but there is no precedent for this happening on a national scale. This lack of precedent in dealing with this sort of situation could create room for certain “opportunities” that will be mostly detrimental to the future of America.
Manchurian vs. Muscovite Candidates in 2020
Even without the Covid-19 issue Trump was, and could be again, bogged down by accusations of ties to Russia or working in Russian interests in the run up to election night. This naive “the Russians are coming” narrative was very effectively sold onto the Democrats so much so that they all started to actually believe their own absurdity. In fact the Department of Homeland Security and Trump’s eternal antagonists in the FBI have put together a document titled “Possible Russian Tactics Ahead of 2020 US Election”. And when big government agencies write “possible” they mean “confirmed” especially when that is the desired reality that they want. The stage is being set for Russiagate 2.0. It sort of worked to a degree the first time so why not try it again?
Now that Trump has experienced a delegitimization campaign via accusations from the Democrats the simplest defense would be to in turn accuse his opponent Biden and every other Democrat he has ever spoken to of being servants of China. Reason cannot triumph over madness, only more madness will do the trick.
Mainstream News Media loves to draw charts and connections between politicians and Russia based on the fact that some people, at some time have spoken to each other and gone to the same cocktail parties – guilt by association. Furthermore for the racist MSM, all Russians count as being agents of Putin/The Kremlin. No Russian businessman every works in his own interests, somehow they are all hive minded agents. This means that Trump is very free to throw the same guilt by association tactics at the Democrats for their contact with any person even remotely connected to China. If you draw enough red lines on pretty graphics connecting people, that is good enough to get a conviction nowadays. Trump is very likely to use any connections between the Democrats and China benign or validly suspicious to his advantage. Fighting fire with fire actually works when running for office.
In fact, this election cycle could very well cement a new wedge issue for American politics – whom our traitors serve, Russia or China? Or maybe more simply who is the big enemy, Russia or China? It will be very refreshing to finally get a new wedge issue, guns and abortion have gotten very repetitive.
There is a certain danger in going into an election with both sides accusing the other of being traitors – it utterly delegitimize the elections and could delegitimize the American establishment, killing the Golden Goose of Stability that continues to lay eggs. Will lobbing accusations of treason in Washington definitely cause a collapse of the system – probably not, but it does knock on the door of that possibility which is unacceptably dangerous. If we convince the American people and establishment that the elections are completely controlled by foreign powers that is bound to have an impact.
Trump Must Go!?
The presidential inauguration happening in January, 72-78 days after election night, seems like a very good amount of padding, even for “Democracy” in a pre-internet world, but the Coronavirus is holding put. In theory Trump would have to step down if his time runs out during an electoral delay and the Presidency would go down the line of succession until it hits a viable candidate. But what if Trump feels that something is afoot and maybe leaving without an election is not in his or America’s best interests?
Of the U.S. presidents there is some debate as to whom among them is the most hated during their time in office by the other side. Lincoln made just a few enemies down south, Hoover got blamed for the economy collapsing, but the hatred for Trump is also top tier. If a delay happened during Reagan’s rule there would be no ramifications. The old actor staying in power two more months or so would be quickly forgotten, but Trump’s enemies despise him and will use any excuse to make sure he goes away forever.
The elections being put off for months opens the door to the very worst of dynamics, one half of the population chanting “he must go” while the other half chants “he must stay”. These situations are what lead to Color Revolutions succeeding in poor weak nations. The elections must happen on time to completely eliminate any possibility of this situation arising.
E-Democracy is the Worst Answer to the Problem
The American electoral system with its Gerrymandering, Hanging Chads, Buttigieg’s “Shadow” over the Iowa Caucus, and Sanders’ mysteriously candidacy denial in 2016 has problems to say the least. The voting system we Americans “enjoy” is far from perfect, but the scary possible answer to America being locked down on election night is a form of “Electronic Democracy”, which due to its intangible and vulnerable nature would be manipulable on a scale not even Boss Hogg could dream of.
The answer to 1776 is not 1984 and if anything needs to be protested it would be any efforts by the government to make elections “go digital”. Ironically such a move would actually be the way that the Chinese and Russians could actually get the guy they want in the Oval Office.
The American electoral system could benefit from standardization, or at least fixing many of the problems on a state level, but any electronic “solution” will be a massive step in the wrong direction.
Vote Now Do Not Delay
Although it technically risks lives, it is critical for real American security to get the election done on time. Any delay will open up lots of opportunities for something to ruin America’s long-term stability which is worth the cost of a potential handful of Covid casualties. The rhetoric between the Democrats and Republicans is dangerous with its growing narrative that America is being taken over foreign influence. Trump needs to either be re-elected or leave on time as to not spark some sort of need to overthrow him, or just revolt against him “holding onto power by delaying”. Furthermore, Electronic Democracy is a nightmarish farce that should not come to pass as it would actually make the quality of American elections go from problem ridden to worthless. The potential human losses that could be inflicted by voting on time are worth it.
Some weeks ago, the world woke up to the fact that World War III had just started without anyone being invaded or shots fired. It began when American President Donald J. Trump declared himself to be a “war president” in the fight against the coronavirus, an assertion that now has been followed by a claim that the disease is actually “…really the worst attack we’ve ever had. This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. There’s never been an attack like this,” Pearl Harbor was, of course, the Japanese sneak attack that brought the U.S. into World War II. Invoking the spirit of the war fought by America’s Greatest Generation in the Second World War, Trump has called upon “The people of our country should think of themselves as warriors.”
Fortunately for the U.S. military industrial complex, fighting COVID 19 has apparently not diminished the White House’s zeal to take on other, perhaps better armed and more serious traditional opponents. But of perhaps more interest is the different kind of conflict that has been initiated by the White House in attacking the United States Congress, which has been demonstrating the temerity to deny to the Chief Executive the inherent right to start a war against whomever he feels deserves a bit of “Made in U.S.A.” shock and awe.
This war fought in Capitol Hill in Washington is perhaps more significant than what is going on with coronavirus as its outcome will decide whether post 9/11 executive authority includes a president being able to attack another country that does not directly threaten the United States. Current legislation based on the War Powers Act of 1973 permits a president to respond to an imminent threat without the consent of congress, but the action thus initiated has to be terminated within 60 days. Any conflict lasting longer than that requires a declaration of war by Congress, as is stated in the Constitution of the United States of America.
Trump’s dissent relates to two attempts by Congress to specifically rein in U.S. involvement in the Saudi Arabian aggression against Yemen and also to preempt a possible attempt to attack Iran. On the Yemen resolution (S.J. Res 7), approved last March, the Senate voted 54-46 in favor followed by the House passing the same resolution by a vote of 248 to 177. The Iran resolution (S.J. Res 68), which had bipartisan support through a 55-45 vote in the Senate in February and a 227-186 vote in the House in March, finally reached the president’s desk last Wednesday. Both resolutions were immediately vetoed by the president.
The two resolutions would have limited Trump’s ability to continue an armed conflict or go to war without the specific authorization of Congress. In characteristic fashion, Trump called the latest iteration on Iran “very insulting,” and also criticized its Republican supporters Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, accusing them of helping the Democrats in the lead up to November’s election. In an official statement explaining his veto, Trump stated that “The resolution implies that the President’s constitutional authority to use military force is limited to defense of the United States and its forces against imminent attack. That is incorrect. We live in a hostile world of evolving threats, and the Constitution recognizes that the President must be able to anticipate our adversaries’ next moves and take swift and decisive action in response.”
To be sure, President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton contrived to attack Libya even though it in no way threatened the U.S. To do so, the mission was initially framed as humanitarian in nature and NATO was subsequently involved in it so it could be framed as a collective action against a country that posed a potential security threat to the Mediterranean region. President George H. W. Bush and his son George W. likewise were careful to get United Nations authorization for the use of force in the two wars against Iraq and the latter also relied on 2002’s blanket Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) which permitted military action against the perpetrators of 9/11. The AUMF was later expanded to de facto include all “terrorist” groups. Most of those justifications were, of course, nonsense, frequently little more than contrivances based on fabricated intelligence to permit wars of aggression.
Donald Trump’s viewpoint on the authority of the president is somewhat less fastidious, though he has also cited the AUMF. He is currently involved in a litigation going to the Supreme Court over his claim of “temporary absolute immunity” regarding an admittedly politically motivated suit by the Manhattan district attorney to obtain his tax records. He has similarly embraced the idea that he, as commander in chief of the armed forces, can use them as a resource to conduct his foreign policy, an idea possibly put into his head by his belligerent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Conceding that he has that power would grant him de facto authority to intervene anywhere in the world any time based on any pretext. It also ignores the original War Powers Act and Article I Section 8 of the Constitution which gives the sole authority for declaring war to Congress.
Given his propensity to seek military solutions and his belief that he has the absolute authority to do so, Trump has not hesitated to attack Syria several times in spite of there being no imminent treat and his act of war/war crime assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq in January nearly ignited an armed conflict with Iran. Indeed, though Trump has been engaged in “maximum pressure” economic warfare against Iran for the past two years, he and his administration frequently claim that it is only being done to modify Iranian bad behavior.
As there is no chance that Congress will overturn Trump’s veto in an election year in which the Republicans will be counting heads and circling their wagons, we the American people are stuck with a president who believes that he has the authority to use military force as he sees fit. And “as he sees fit” is the danger as “restraint” is not exactly Donald Trump’s middle name. And one has to also recognize that there is another political reality at play. When things are going badly domestically, as with the coronavirus, a war can serve as a great distraction and a demonstration of strong leadership. Let us hope that no one puts that idea into Donald Trump’s head.
A Fresno, California waffle restaurant dared to open its doors for business this weekend to the delight of a long line of customers, who waited up to two hours for the “privilege” of willingly spending their money in a business happy to serve them breakfast on Mother’s Day. This freedom of voluntary transaction is the core of what we used to call our free society. But in an America paralyzed by fear – ramped up by a mainstream media that churns out propaganda at a level unparalleled in history – no one is allowed to enjoy themselves.
Thankfully everyone carries a smartphone these days and can record and upload the frequent violations of our Constitutional liberties. In the case of the waffle restaurant, thanks to a cell phone video we saw the police show up in force and try to push through the crowd waiting outside. An elderly man who was next in line to enter was indignant, complaining that he had been waiting two hours to eat at the restaurant and was not about to step aside while the police shut down the place. The police proceeded to violently handcuff and arrest the man, dragging him off while his wife followed sadly behind him to the police car.
It is hard not to be disgusted by government enforcers who would brutally drag an elderly man away from a restaurant for the “crime” of wanting to take his wife out for breakfast on Mother’s Day. A virus far more deadly than the coronavirus is spreading from Washington down to the local city hall. Tin pot dictators are ruling by decree while federal, state, and local legislators largely stand by and watch as the US Constitution they swore to protect goes up in smoke.
Politicians with perfect haircuts issue “executive orders” that anyone cutting hair for mere private citizens must be arrested. In Texas a brave salon owner willingly went to jail for the “crime” of re-opening her business in defiance of “executive orders.” To add insult to injury, Governor Greg Abbott very quickly condemned the one week jail sentence of salon owner Shelley Luther – but the officers who arrested her were only carrying out Abbott’s own orders!
First we were told we had to shut down the country to “flatten the curve” so that hospitals were not overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. When most hospitals were nowhere near overwhelmed, and in fact were laying off thousands of healthcare workers because there were no patients, they moved the goalposts and said we cannot have our freedom back until a vaccine was available to force on us or the virus completely disappeared – neither of which is likely to happen anytime soon.
Many politicians clearly see the creeping totalitarianism but lack the courage to speak out. Thankfully, patriots like Shelley Luther are demonstrating the courage our political leaders lack.
When Patrick Henry famously said “give me liberty or give me death” in 1775, he didn’t add under his breath “unless a virus shows up.” If we wish to reclaim our freedoms we will have to fight – peacefully – for them. As Thomas Paine wrote in 1776, “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
Western Liberalism is not only bankrupt: It bankrupts. Nowhere is this clearer than in the hysterical panic with which Republicans and Democrats alike in the United States are printing limitless sums of theoretical money to pump demand into a structurally wildly distorted and dying economic system in utterly futile efforts to fend off a looming super-Depression and world economic crisis.
Yet as becomes more clear every day, far from maintaining the current global structure, created by U.S. bankers and diplomats and dictated to the rest of the world back in 1944, all these efforts are just accelerating the disintegration of the Old Order.
There is a supreme irony to this, for the most important creator of the Old World Economic and Financial Order – the one that is now disintegrating as we watch – was none other than the patron saint of liberalism – a man who has become a non-person in the United States in the past 40 year “Age of Reagan” (as I explain in my 2015 book “Cycles of Change“) – legendary 32nd President of the United States President Franklin Roosevelt.
It is fascinating to watch Democratic Party leaders today as they desperately try to conjure up the great appeal and success of the only man ever to win four U.S. presidential held up Roosevelt’s leadership through World War II as a model of leadership for today.
That should be entirely true, But neither current (and sinking fast) putative party nominee Joe Biden nor his always-collapses-at-the-crucial-moment Senator Bernie Sanders haven’t a clue what they are talking about.
Two factors were central to Franklin Roosevelt’s extraordinary success as a war leader – and Sanders and Biden are both pathetically blind to both of them:
The first was Roosevelt’s unhesitating and consistent support for his allies, especially the unprecedented flow of Lend Lease aid in food, trucks and other equipment to the Soviet Union which was carrying the main burden of the combat war against Nazi Germany almost single-handedly.
The second was the remarkable fiscal prudence and caution Roosevelt showed throughout his presidency, especially in his creation of the landmark Social Security program.
Roosevelt was vastly more cautious and even cynical in developing this program to give financial support for the first time in history to aging Americans.
Although the landmark congressional legislation was passed in 1935 and became law on August 14 of that year as part of the so-called “Second New Deal,” financial contributions out of the pay checks of all legally working Americans only started to be withdrawn in 1937. Even then, it was still another three years before the first U.S. citizen ever to receive a check from Social Security picked it up: That was 76-year-old Ida Fuller of Vermont on January 17, 1940. Her first check came to the generous sum of $41.30.
From 1935, when the legislation was passed to vast popular acclaim, it was another six years at the height of the Great Depression, when more Americans were starving and dying of poverty and related hardships than ever before or since in the nation’s history before a single individual actually got any benefit from it.
The actuarial calculations on which Roosevelt designed Social Security were even more cynical and ruthless.
Social Security was to be paid to retirees after the age of 65. But at the time, the median age of Americans was 61. Only a tiny privileged minority survived to the age of 65 or beyond.
Roosevelt practiced exceptional caution to keep the U.S. economy and currency stable during the New Deal and the Great Depression. Contrary to popular (Republican) myth, he was adamantly opposed to bankrupting the country either in his own time or in that of his grandchildren. “It is almost dishonest to build up an accumulated deficit for the Congress of the United States to meet in 1980,” he famously said. “We can’t do that. We can’t sell the United States short in 1980 any more than in 1935.”
Roosevelt’s exceptional caution contrasts with the wild spending both Republicans and Democrats from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump have been practicing, driving their country into final bankruptcy during the current coronavirus crisis.
Comments financial analyst and former London merchant banker Martin Hutchinson in his May 4 “Bear’s Lair” column, “the CBO (Congressional Budget Office)’s estimate of budget deficits of 18% of GDP in 2020 and 10% of GDP in 2021 are truly frightening. …they bring the likely bankruptcy of the U.S. government much closer than seemed likely previously, probably to around 2030.”
Indeed, given the terrifying vulnerability of the U.S. financial system to the collapse of the $2 trillion junk bond market used to financial the collapsing fracking energy sector, projecting a meltdown U.S. financial crisis a balmy ten years ahead seems wildly optimistic.
In fact, the road from Franklin Roosevelt’s cautious callousness in designing Social Security so that it would not pay a penny to those who needed it for another five years (until, indeed, the Great Depression was already over!) to the “spend endlessly, spend now” crazed panic of both Republicans and Democrats is a very clear one:
It is the road of palliative Western liberalism, open borders and global Free Trade: It is a road that inevitably leads to ever huger debt burdens, ever-declining standards of living and inevitable ruin.
By contrast, the extremely fiscally cautious, highly conservative financial policies that Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to follow get no respect from the spendthrift, zero interest rate maniacs on Wall Street. Yet it is Russia that is currently in a far stronger position to ride out the global financial as well as pandemic crises than the United States.
In statecraft and economics as in architecture, the most important issue is not how high you build but how well you build and how deep you build – How good your foundations are.
The storm of pandemic is already heralding the storm of financial crisis. That crisis can indeed be solved, but only by abandoning the old shibboleths, the old false gods that, as Dostoyevsky predicted at the very beginning of our modern industrialized, interconnected Age, would inevitably bring us to our ruin, unless reined in and reversed in time.