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Color revolutions -- Neoliberalism adaptation of Trotskyism idea of "permanent revolution" 

It is easy to mobilize large crowds with slogans which one cannot but characterize as crowd pleasers – for democracy, against corruption, etc.  Add to this money infusion from G7 embassies distributed as cash and the targeted government has real problems; when color revolution succeeds people soon realize that what really bothered them (lack of freedom, humiliation, poverty, social corruption, lack of prospects of a decent life) goes on with doubled intensity under a new neoliberal regime.

News Fifth column Recommended Links Russiagate -- a color revolution against Trump by neocons and DemoRats Coordinated set of leaks as a color revolution tool MSM as attack dogs of color revolution
Venezuella: another "bombs for oil" scenario after Lybia? Syria civil war Civil war in Ukraine Yemen war Looting pays dividends to empire War and Venture Capitalism
Methods used for destabilization of the society in color revolutions Bombing country with dollars Government snipers on rooftops false flag operation "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for color revolutions undermining government in developing and xUSSR countries Role of State Department and western embassies NGOs and think tanks as brain trust of color revolutions
Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Democracy as a universal opener for access to natural resources Hypocrisy and Pseudo-democracy "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism The World as the Grand Chessboard of the American empire
Control of the MSM during color revolution is like air superiority in the war Delegitimization of Ruling Party Parasitism on Human rights: children of Lieutenant Schmidt Human right activists or globalism fifth column The art of manufacturing of prisoners of consciousness Sect of fraudulent election witnesses
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Neoconservatism Media-Military-Industrial Complex The Deep State Compradors  
Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair NGOs as braintrust of color revolutions Hong Cong Color Revolution of 2014 EuroMaidan Russian Color Revolution of 2012 Ukrainian orange revolution
Frustrated underachievers Russian neoliberal compradors Net Hamsters as a part of fifth column Exploiting Revolutionary Romantics as polit-technology IntelliXencia: Corruption of Intelligentsia and it usage in fifth column in Russia Gene Sharp Recipes and Russian Experience
Elite Theory And the Revolt of the Elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy Two Party System as polyarchy Foreign Agents Registration Act Attack of Think Tanks Destruction by the USA of international law

Corporate Media: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few

Predator state The Real War on Reality Media as a weapon of mass deception Anatol Leiven on American Messianism  Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich
American Exceptionalism Non-Interventionism Hypocrisy of British ruling elite Politically Incorrect Humor Russian Fifth column Humor Etc
NOTE: Due to the size introduction was converted to a separate page. Introduction to color regulation strategy and tactic
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"The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, as charity, as historical necessity, or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone raised on traditional ethical concepts. But for the Christian who builds his life on the word of God, it merely confirms the fundamental perversity of evil."

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

[Jun 23, 2019] Is Democratic system theoretically sustainable?

Notable quotes:
"... "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy" - Alexis de Toqueville ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

bonefisher -> Livemike , 6 Mar 2012 06:52

Great post

The problem is that as De Toqueville realises (his quote below) most of the people commenting here are simply living a parasitic existence benefiting from state largesse - sucking the teat of a bloated and overburdened state caring not whether their sustenance is remotely sustainable and just voting for ever more

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy" - Alexis de Toqueville

[Jun 23, 2019] The 'Extradition Protest' appears to have a startling resemblance to the 'Umbrella Protests' backed by the CIA/NED

Notable quotes:
"... Keep a close watch on whether the organizers are shown to have studied in the US and if the most vociferous media are known to have had connections to the CIA/NED. ..."
Jun 23, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

chet380 , Jun 12, 2019 3:04:15 PM | 19

The 'Extradition Protest', with its thousands of protesters seemingly instantly mobilized, appears to have a startling resemblance to the 'Umbrella Protests' that were backed by the CIA/NED.

Keep a close watch on whether the organizers are shown to have studied in the US and if the most vociferous media are known to have had connections to the CIA/NED.

[Jun 23, 2019] Argentina s Economic Misery Could Bring Populism Back to the Country by Peter S. Goodman

Notable quotes:
"... Mr. Macri has slashed subsidies for electricity, fuel and transportation, causing prices to skyrocket, and recently prompting Ms. Genovesi, 48, to cut off her gas service, rendering her stove lifeless. Like most of her neighbors, she illegally taps into the power lines that run along the rutted dirt streets. ..."
"... "It's a neoliberal government," she says. "It's a government that does not favor the people." ..."
"... The tribulations playing out under the disintegrating roofs of the poor are a predictable dimension of Mr. Macri's turn away from left-wing populism. He vowed to shrink Argentina's monumental deficits by diminishing the largess of the state. The trouble is that Argentines have yet to collect on the other element the president promised: the economic revival that was supposed to follow the pain. ..."
"... But as Mr. Macri seeks re-election this year, Argentines increasingly lament that they are absorbing all strife and no progress. Even businesses that have benefited from his reforms complain that he has botched the execution, leaving the nation to confront the same concoction of misery that has plagued it for decades. The economy is contracting. Inflation is running above 50 percent, and joblessness is stuck above 9 percent ..."
"... Poverty afflicts a third of the population, and the figure is climbing. ..."
"... Mr. Macri sold his administration as an evolved form of governance for these times, a crucial dose of market forces tempered by social programs. ..."
"... In the most generous reading, the medicine has yet to take effect. But in the view of beleaguered Argentines, the country has merely slipped back into the rut that has framed national life for as long as most people can remember. ..."
"... "We live patching things up," said Roberto Nicoli, 62, who runs a silverware company outside the capital, Buenos Aires. "We never fix things. I always say, 'Whenever we start doing better, I will start getting ready for the next crisis.'" ..."
"... "When our president Cristina was here, they sent people to help us," she says. "Now, if there's problems, nobody helps us. Poor people feel abandoned." ..."
May 10, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

On the ragged streets of the shantytown across the road, where stinking outhouses sit alongside shacks fashioned from rusted sheets of tin, families have surrendered hopes that sewage lines will ever reach them.

They do not struggle to fashion an explanation for their declining fortunes: Since taking office more than three years ago, President Mauricio Macri has broken with the budget-busting populism that has dominated Argentina for much of the past century, embracing the grim arithmetic of economic orthodoxy.

Mr. Macri has slashed subsidies for electricity, fuel and transportation, causing prices to skyrocket, and recently prompting Ms. Genovesi, 48, to cut off her gas service, rendering her stove lifeless. Like most of her neighbors, she illegally taps into the power lines that run along the rutted dirt streets.

"It's a neoliberal government," she says. "It's a government that does not favor the people."

The tribulations playing out under the disintegrating roofs of the poor are a predictable dimension of Mr. Macri's turn away from left-wing populism. He vowed to shrink Argentina's monumental deficits by diminishing the largess of the state. The trouble is that Argentines have yet to collect on the other element the president promised: the economic revival that was supposed to follow the pain.

Mr. Macri's supporters heralded his 2015 election as a miraculous outbreak of normalcy in a country with a well-earned reputation for histrionics. He would cease the reckless spending that had brought Argentina infamy for defaulting on its debts eight times. Sober-minded austerity would win the trust of international financiers, bringing investment that would yield jobs and fresh opportunities.

But as Mr. Macri seeks re-election this year, Argentines increasingly lament that they are absorbing all strife and no progress. Even businesses that have benefited from his reforms complain that he has botched the execution, leaving the nation to confront the same concoction of misery that has plagued it for decades. The economy is contracting. Inflation is running above 50 percent, and joblessness is stuck above 9 percent.

Poverty afflicts a third of the population, and the figure is climbing.

Far beyond this country of 44 million people, Mr. Macri's tenure is testing ideas that will shape economic policy in an age of recrimination over widening inequality. His presidency was supposed to offer an escape from the wreckage of profligate spending while laying down an alternative path for countries grappling with the worldwide rise of populism. Now, his presidency threatens to become a gateway back to populism. The Argentine economy is contracting. Inflation is running above 50 percent, and joblessness is stuck above 9 percent. Poverty afflicts a third of the population. Credit Sarah Pabst for The New York Times

Image
The Argentine economy is contracting. Inflation is running above 50 percent, and joblessness is stuck above 9 percent. Poverty afflicts a third of the population. Credit Sarah Pabst for The New York Times

As the October election approaches, Mr. Macri is contending with the growing prospect of a challenge from the president he succeeded, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who faces a series of criminal indictments for corruption . Her unbridled spending helped deliver the crisis that Mr. Macri inherited. Her return would resonate as a rebuke of his market-oriented reforms while potentially yanking Argentina back to its accustomed preserve: left-wing populism, in uncomfortable proximity to insolvency.

The Argentine peso lost half of its value against the dollar last year, prompting the central bank to lift interest rates to a commerce-suffocating level above 60 percent. Argentina was forced to secure a $57 billion rescue from the International Monetary Fund , a profound indignity given that the fund is widely despised here for the austerity it imposed in the late 1990s, turning an economic downturn into a depression.

For Mr. Macri, time does not appear to be in abundant supply. The spending cuts he delivered hit the populace immediately. The promised benefits of his reforms -- a stable currency, tamer inflation, fresh investment and jobs -- could take years to materialize, leaving Argentines angry and yearning for the past.

In much of South America, left-wing governments have taken power in recent decades as an angry corrective to dogmatic prescriptions from Washington, where the Treasury and the I.M.F. have focused on the confidence of global investors as the key to development.

Left-wing populism has aimed to redistribute the gains from the wealthy to everyone else. It has aided the poor, while generating its own woes -- corruption and depression in Brazil , runaway inflation and financial ruin in Argentina. In Venezuela, uninhibited spending has turned the country with the world's largest proven oil reserves into a land where children starve .

Mr. Macri sold his administration as an evolved form of governance for these times, a crucial dose of market forces tempered by social programs.

In the most generous reading, the medicine has yet to take effect. But in the view of beleaguered Argentines, the country has merely slipped back into the rut that has framed national life for as long as most people can remember.

"We live patching things up," said Roberto Nicoli, 62, who runs a silverware company outside the capital, Buenos Aires. "We never fix things. I always say, 'Whenever we start doing better, I will start getting ready for the next crisis.'"

Cultivating wealth

... ... ...

In the beginning, there was Juan Domingo Perón, the charismatic Army general who was president from 1946 to 1955, and then again from 1973 to 1974. He employed an authoritarian hand and muscular state power to champion the poor. He and his wife, Eva Duarte -- widely known by her nickname, Evita -- would dominate political life long after they died, inspiring politicians across the ideological spectrum to claim their mantle.

Among the most ardent Peronists were Néstor Kirchner, the president from 2003 to 2007, and his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who took office in 2007, remaining until Mr. Macri was elected in 2015.

Their version of Peronism -- what became known as Kirchnerism -- was decidedly left-wing, disdaining global trade as a malevolent force. They expanded cash grants to the poor and imposed taxes on farm exports in a bid to keep Argentine food prices low.

As the country's farmers tell it, Kirchnerism is just a fancy term for the confiscation of their wealth and the scattering of the spoils to the unproductive masses. They point to Ms. Kirchner's 35 percent tax on soybean exports.

"We had a saying," Mr. Tropini says. "'For every three trucks that went to the port, one was for Cristina Kirchner.'"

reduction in export taxes.

"You could breathe finally," Mr. Tropini, the farmer, says.

He was free of the Kirchners, yet stuck with nature. Floods in 2016 wiped out more than half of his crops. A drought last year wreaked even more havoc.

"This harvest, this year," he says, "is a gift from God."

But if the heavens are now cooperating, and if the people running Buenos Aires represent change, Mr. Tropini is critical of Mr. Macri's failure to overcome the economic crisis.

A weaker currency makes Argentine soybeans more competitive, but it also increases the cost of the diesel fuel Mr. Tropini needs to run his machinery. High interest rates make it impossible for him to buy another combine, which would allow him to expand his farm.

In September, faced with a plunge in government revenues, Mr. Macri reinstated some export taxes .

... ... ...

What went wrong?

... ... ...

In the first years of Mr. Macri's administration, the government lifted controls on the value of the peso while relaxing export taxes. The masters of international finance delivered a surge of investment. The economy expanded by nearly 3 percent in 2017, and then accelerated in the first months of last year.

But as investors grew wary of Argentina's deficits, they fled, sending the peso plunging and inflation soaring. As the rout continued last year, the central bank mounted a futile effort to support the currency, selling its stash of dollars to try to halt the peso's descent. As the reserves dwindled, investors absorbed the spectacle of a government failing to restore order. The exodus of money intensified, and another potential default loomed, leading a chastened Mr. Macri to accept a rescue from the dreaded IMF.

Administration officials described the unraveling as akin to a natural disaster: unforeseeable and unavoidable. The drought hurt agriculture. Money was flowing out of developing countries as the Federal Reserve continued to lift interest rates in the United States, making the American dollar a more attractive investment.

But the impact of the Fed's tightening had been widely anticipated. Economists fault the government for mishaps and complacency that left the country especially vulnerable.

.... ... ...

Among the most consequential errors was the government's decision to include Argentina's central bank in a December 2017 announcement that it was raising its inflation target. The markets took that as a signal that the government was surrendering its war on inflation while opting for a traditional gambit: printing money rather than cutting spending.

... ... ...

The government insists that better days are ahead. The spending cuts have dropped the budget deficit to a manageable 3 percent of annual economic output. Argentina is again integrated into the global economy.

"We haven't improved, but the foundations of the economy and society are much healthier," said Miguel Braun, secretary of economic policy at the Treasury Ministry. "Argentina is in a better place to generate a couple of decades of growth."

... ... ...

Their television flashes dire warnings, like "Danger of Hyper Inflation." Throughout the neighborhood, people decry the sense that they have been forsaken by the government.

Trucks used to come to castrate male dogs to control the packs of feral animals running loose. Not anymore. Health programs for children are less accessible than they were before, they said.

Daisy Quiroz, 71, a retired maid, lives in a house that regularly floods in the rainy season.

"When our president Cristina was here, they sent people to help us," she says. "Now, if there's problems, nobody helps us. Poor people feel abandoned."

... ... ...

Daniel Politi contributed reporting from Buenos Aires. Peter S. Goodman is a London-based European economics correspondent. He was previously a national economic correspondent in New York. He has also worked at The Washington Post as a China correspondent, and was global editor in chief of the International Business Times. @ petersgoodman

[Jun 23, 2019] Iranian UN envoy condemns unlawful destabilizing measures by US

Jun 20, 2019 | www.rt.com

Iran's envoy to the United Nations has called on the international community to end "unlawful destabilizing measures" by the US, declaring that while Iran does not seek war, it "reserves the right to counter any hostile act."

Iranian envoy to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi has condemned continuing US provocations that culminated Thursday morning in the downing of an American surveillance drone by the Iranian air force over Hormozgan province.

The drone "had turned off its identification equipment and [was] engaged in a clear spying operation," Ravanchi confirmed in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, adding that the aircraft had ignored "repeated radio warnings" in order to enter Iranian airspace near the Strait of Hormuz.

[Jun 23, 2019] The Financial War Escalates

Notable quotes:
"... The build-up of riots against Hong Kong's proposed extradition treaty with the Mainland started months ago, supported and driven by commentary in the Land of the Free ..."
"... This happened before, in 2014. The Chinese leadership was certain the riots in Hong Kong reflected the work of American agencies. The following is an extract translated from a speech by Major-General Qiao Liang, a leading strategist for the Peoples' Liberation Army, addressing the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee in 2015: ..."
"... weakening yuan-dollar exchange rate will dissuade international portfolios from investing in China's projects, for which the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was established. China should respond to moves to undermine her currency, seeking to enhance the attractions of her investment opportunities to international investment funds by taking measures to support the yuan. If not, global investment funds will simply not come China's way. ..."
"... Besides attracting portfolio flows into the US, a rising dollar is also a threat to foreign governments and corporates who have borrowed dollars and then have to pay them back later. This was what mauled South-East Asian economies in the 1997 financial crisis. China as a state is not in this position, though some of her regional trading partners will have fallen into this trap again. ..."
"... It is clear from elsewhere in Qiao's speech that the Chinese understand America's motives and methods. Therefore, they will anticipate American actions to undermine the yuan. If the Americans succeed and with the yuan made unattractive, international portfolio money that is already invested in China will be sucked out, potentially crashing China's capital markets. ..."
"... Put another way, we face no less than a dangerous escalation of the financial war between America and China, with America trying to close off international finance to China. ..."
"... Through deploying similar monetary policies to the Americans, it might now occur to Beijing's central planners that they are at a severe disadvantage playing that game. The dollar and the yuan are both unbacked credit-based currencies bedevilled with debt. But if the dollar goes head-to-head against the yuan, the dollar will always destabilise the yuan. ..."
"... Meanwhile, Chinese inaction is likely to be encouraged by another factor: the escalation of US embargoes on Iranian oil, and the increasing possibility of a new Middle-East conflict with Iran. This is bound to have a bearing on Chinese-American relations. ..."
"... Meanwhile, China is securing her defences. Besides aligning with Russia and both being expected to vote at the UN against Israeli/American attempts to escalate tensions in the Gulf, Russia can be expected to covertly help Iran. Beijing is also securing a partnership to protect North Korea, with Xi visiting Pyongyang this week in order to head off American action in that direction. The whole Asian continent from Ukraine to the Bering Sea is now on a defensive footing. ..."
Jun 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

When you see a rash, you should look beyond the skin for a cause. It has been like this with Hong Kong over the last few weeks. On the surface we see impressively organised demonstrations to stop the executive from introducing extradition laws to China. We observe that university students and others not much older are running the demonstrations with military precision. The Mainland Chinese should be impressed.

They are unlikely to see it that way. The build-up of riots against Hong Kong's proposed extradition treaty with the Mainland started months ago, supported and driven by commentary in the Land of the Free . America is now coming out in the open as China's adversary, no longer just a trading partner worried by the trade imbalances. And Hong Kong is the pressure point.

This happened before, in 2014. The Chinese leadership was certain the riots in Hong Kong reflected the work of American agencies. The following is an extract translated from a speech by Major-General Qiao Liang, a leading strategist for the Peoples' Liberation Army, addressing the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee in 2015:

"Since the Diaoyu Islands conflict and the Huangyan Island conflict, incidents have kept popping up around China, including the confrontation over China's 981 oil rigs with Vietnam and Hong Kong's "Occupy Central" event. Can they still be viewed as simply accidental?

I accompanied General Liu Yazhou, the Political Commissar of the National Defence University, to visit Hong Kong in May 2014. At that time, we heard that the "Occupy Central" movement was being planned and could take place by end of the month. However, it didn't happen in May, June, July, or August.

What happened? What were they waiting for?

Let's look at another time table: the U.S. Federal Reserve's exit from the Quantitative Easing (QE) policy. The U.S. said it would stop QE at the beginning of 2014. But it stayed with the QE policy in April, May, June, July, and August. As long as it was in QE, it kept overprinting dollars and the dollar's price couldn't go up. Thus, Hong Kong's "Occupy Central" should not happen either.

At the end of September, the Federal Reserve announced the U.S. would exit from QE. The dollar started going up. Then Hong Kong's "Occupy Central" broke out in early October.

Actually, the Diaoyu Islands, Huangyan Island, the 981 rigs, and Hong Kong's "Occupy Central" movement were all bombs. The successful explosion of any one of them would lead to a regional crisis or a worsened investment environment around China. That would force the withdrawal of a large amount of investment from this region, which would then return to the U.S."

That America is stoking and organising discontent anew in Hong Kong is probably still China's view today. Clearly, the Chinese believed America covertly managed "Occupy Central" and therefore are at it again. Apart from what their spies tell them, the protests are too well organised and planned to be spontaneous. This time, the attack appears to have a better chance of success. The plan is coordinated with American pressure on Hong Kong's dollar peg in an attempt to destabilise it, principally through the threat to extend tariffs against China to Hong Kong. This second attempt to collapse Hong Kong is therefore more serious.

Hong Kong is critical, because through Shanghai Connect it is the only lawful channel for foreign investment flows into China. This is important to the Americans, because the US Treasury cannot afford to see global portfolio flows attracted into China at a time when they will be needed to invest in increasing quantities of US Treasury stock. Understand that, and you will have grasped a large part of the urgency behind America's attempt to destabilise Hong Kong.

Qiao Liang makes this point elsewhere in his aforementioned speech, claiming American tactics are the consequence of the ending of Bretton Woods:

"Without the restriction of gold, the US can print dollars at will. If they keep a large amount of dollars inside the US, it will certainly create inflation. If they export dollars to the world, the whole world is helping the US deal with its inflation. That's why inflation is not high in the US."

While one can take issue with his simplistic analysis, that is not the point. What matters is what the Chinese believe. Qiao concludes:

"By issuing debt, the US brings a large amount of dollars from overseas back to the US's three big markets: the commodity market, the Treasury Bills market, and the stock market. The US repeats this cycle to make money: printing money, exporting money overseas, and bringing money back. The US has become a financial empire."

Conceptually, Qiao was broadly correct. His error in these two statements was to not explain that ownership of dollars means they are deployed exclusively in America, but perhaps he was simplifying his argument for a non-technical audience. All dollars, despite foreign ownership, remain in the American economy as a combination of US Treasuries and T-bills, investment in US listed and unlisted securities, physical assets such as property and also deposits through correspondent banks held in New York.

It is not the dollars that flow, but their ownership that changes. Dollars are bought and sold for foreign currencies by central banks, sovereign wealth funds, commercial banks, insurance companies and pension funds. The currencies in which these entities invest matters, and investment decisions are obviously affected by currency prospects. It allows the US Treasury to attract these flows into the dollar by simply making other currencies less attractive. Foreign owners of foreign currencies can easily be spooked into the safe havens of the dollar and US Treasuries. This is the way foreigners are corralled into funding the budget deficit.

A weakening yuan-dollar exchange rate will dissuade international portfolios from investing in China's projects, for which the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was established. China should respond to moves to undermine her currency, seeking to enhance the attractions of her investment opportunities to international investment funds by taking measures to support the yuan. If not, global investment funds will simply not come China's way.

Besides attracting portfolio flows into the US, a rising dollar is also a threat to foreign governments and corporates who have borrowed dollars and then have to pay them back later. This was what mauled South-East Asian economies in the 1997 financial crisis. China as a state is not in this position, though some of her regional trading partners will have fallen into this trap again.

It is clear from elsewhere in Qiao's speech that the Chinese understand America's motives and methods. Therefore, they will anticipate American actions to undermine the yuan. If the Americans succeed and with the yuan made unattractive, international portfolio money that is already invested in China will be sucked out, potentially crashing China's capital markets.

With the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act going onto the US statute book, President Trump will be able to use the link to the Emergency Economic Powers Act to impose sanctions against trade, finance and technology. The concern in Hong Kong is personal wealth will now decamp and that Hong Kong property prices will implode.

The British involvement

America's strategy has included putting pressure on her allies to fall into line with her interests against China. All NATO members have been told not to buy Huawei equipment. Protective of the special relationship, the British have gone along with it. But Cheltenham's GCHQ (the UK's cyber monitoring agency) has at least given Huawei the opportunity to address the security issues that have been raised.

A greater problem is bound to arise, and that is the role of the City of London. In 2014, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, agreed a plan with the Chinese leadership for the City to work with Hong Kong to internationalise the yuan. The Chinese wanted to bypass New York for obvious reasons.

The request to meet Osborne went through Boris Johnson, at the time Mayor of London and leading a trade delegation to China on behalf of the City. Johnson is now odds-on favourite to become the next Prime Minister and if appointed will undoubtedly find himself in a difficult position. He will have to walk a very fine line between Britain's developing Chinese interests, her special relationship with America, his new friendship with Trump, and also the trade agreement with America which both Trump and Johnson are likely to prioritise following Brexit.

Depending on how Johnson acts, China may have to put her plans to internationalise the yuan on hold. The risk for China is that with her international financial plans threatened and the Americans determined to strengthen the dollar in order to undermine the yuan, she will not have access to the international portfolio flows she needs to help finance her infrastructure plans and her Made in China 2025 project.

Put another way, we face no less than a dangerous escalation of the financial war between America and China, with America trying to close off international finance to China.

China's policy predicament

In a tactical retreat, Hong Kong has put plans to introduce the new extradition legislation on hold. All it has achieved is to redirect demonstrators' demands towards Hong Kong's Chief Executive to resign, and the demonstrations continued.

The question now arises as to how the Chinese will proceed. So far, they have played their hand defensively in the financial war against America, but things are now coming to a head. Obviously, they will protect Hong Kong, but more importantly they must address capital flight through the Shanghai Connect. One option will be to suspend it, but that would undermine the trust fundamental to future inward portfolio flows. It would also be a huge setback for the international yuan. In any event, action must be taken to underwrite the yuan exchange rate.

One option would be to increase interest rates, but this will risk being read as a panic measure. In this context, an early and definite rise in interest rates would be better than a delay or a lesser adjustment to monetary policy. For the domestic economy, this would favour savers in an economy already savings-driven, but disadvantage exporters and many small and medium-size businesses. It would amount to a reversal of recent economic and monetary policies, which are intended to increase domestic consumption and reduce export surpluses.

The economic theories that the central planners in Beijing actually believe in will become centre-stage. China has adopted the global neo-Keynesian standard of economic planning and credit expansion. When the country moved rapidly from a peasant economy, credit was able to expand without the regular pitfalls of a credit cycle observed in an advanced economy being noticeable. This was because economic progress eclipsed the consequences of monetary inflation.

But China is no longer an economic green-field site, having become predominantly a modern economy. Consequently, she has moved from her pure mercantilist approach to running the economy to a more financial and monetary style of central planning.

Through deploying similar monetary policies to the Americans, it might now occur to Beijing's central planners that they are at a severe disadvantage playing that game. The dollar and the yuan are both unbacked credit-based currencies bedevilled with debt. But if the dollar goes head-to-head against the yuan, the dollar will always destabilise the yuan.

Supping from the Keynesian cup is China's principal weakness. She cannot afford to face down the dollar, and the Americans know it. For the Chinese, the path of least risk appears to be the one China has pursued successfully to date: do as little as possible to rock the boat, and let America make the mistakes. However, as I shall argue later, the time is coming for China to take the offensive.

Meanwhile, Chinese inaction is likely to be encouraged by another factor: the escalation of US embargoes on Iranian oil, and the increasing possibility of a new Middle-East conflict with Iran. This is bound to have a bearing on Chinese-American relations.

False flags and Iran

Last week, two oil tankers suffered an attack by parties unknown after leaving the Strait of Hormuz outward-bound. Predictably, the Americans and the Saudis blamed Iran, and Iran has denied involvement. The Americans, supported by the British, have been quick to point out that Iran had the motivation to attack and therefore was the guilty party. As a consequence of US sanctions, her economy is in a state of collapse and Iran needs higher oil prices. The US has been building up its Gulf fleet provocatively, increasing tensions. According to Al-Jazeera, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani warned last December that "If one day they (the US) want to prevent the export of Iran's oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf."

Perhaps that day is close. Tehran must be desperate, and she blames the Americans and Israelis for a false flag attack, an accusation that bases its credibility on previous incidents in the region and a suspicion that Israel backed by America wants an excuse to attack Iran. The Syrian bridge to Hezbollah threatens Israel to its North, so its involvement is logical, and it looks like a Mossad operation. By driving Iran into a corner, it is hard to see any other outcome than further escalation.

If America does get tied up in a new war in the Middle East, she will be fighting on two Asian fronts: militarily against Iran and financially against China. It could descend rapidly into a global crisis, which would not suit China's interests or anyone else's for that matter. However, an American attack against Iran could trigger the widespread flight of investment money to the safety of the dollar and US Treasuries.

If America achieves that objective before sending in the troops, she could then compromise on both Iran and on tariffs against China. Assuming Qiao Liang's analysis still has traction in Beijing, this is the way American strategy might be read by the Chinese war-gamers.

Meanwhile, China is securing her defences. Besides aligning with Russia and both being expected to vote at the UN against Israeli/American attempts to escalate tensions in the Gulf, Russia can be expected to covertly help Iran. Beijing is also securing a partnership to protect North Korea, with Xi visiting Pyongyang this week in order to head off American action in that direction. The whole Asian continent from Ukraine to the Bering Sea is now on a defensive footing.

How will it be resolved?

If the funding of the US deficit is the underling problem, then a continuation of China's longstanding policy of not reacting to America's financial aggression is no longer an option. A weaker yuan will be the outcome and a second Asian financial crisis involving China would be in the offing. It also means the progression of China's economy would become more dependent on domestic inflationary financing through the expansion of bank credit at a time when food prices, partially due to the outbreak of African swine fever, are rising as well.

There is bound to be an intense debate in the Chinese Politburo as to whether it is wise to abandon neo-Keynesian financing and revert to the previous understanding that debasing the currency and the inflation of food prices impoverishes the people and will inevitably lead to political destabilisation. The logic behind the state accumulating a hoard of gold, encouraging citizens to hoard it as well, and dominating international bullion markets was to protect the citizens from a paper money crisis. That paper money crisis now threatens the yuan more than the dollar.

It must be clear to the Chinese, who are no slouches when it comes to understanding political strategy, why America is taking a far more aggressive stance in their financial war. The absence of foreign buyers in the US Treasury market could turn out to be the most serious crisis for America since the end of Bretton Woods. The Deep State, driven in this case by the US Treasury, will not permit it to happen. For both China and America, these are desperate times.

There was always going to be a point in time when mundane chess moves end up threatening to check and then checkmate one or the other king. China now finds her king under serious threat and she must make a countermove. She cannot afford portfolio flows to reverse. The financing of her Made in China 2025 plan and the completion of the silk roads are vital to her long-term political stability.

China must therefore counter dollar strength by means other than simply raising interest rates. Inevitably, the solution points towards gold. Everyone knows, or at least suspects that China has accumulated significant undeclared reserves of gold bullion. The time has probably come for China to show her hand and declare her true gold reserves, or at least enough of them to exceed the official gold reserves of the US.

It is likely a declaration of this sort would drive the gold price significantly higher, amounting to a dollar devaluation. By denying gold is money, America has exposed itself to the risk of the dollar's reserve status being questioned in global markets, and this is China's trump card.

If Xi attends the Osaka G20 at the end of this month, the purpose would be less to talk to Trump, but more to talk to the other leaders to make it clear what the Americans are up to and to ensure they are aware of the consequences for the global monetary system when China takes positive action to protect her own currency and domestic capital markets.


Demeter55 , 4 hours ago link

China gives the US too much credit for "people organizing" skills. Credit where credit is due: the Hong Kong population is dynamic and driven. They are "incentivized" by Chinese policy itself.

I am Groot , 19 hours ago link

My next prediction is that Iranian oil leaving their country is blockaded. Especially oil going to China.

BennyBoy , 19 hours ago link

It's a war to secure global RESOURCES.. Fixed it.

iSage , 19 hours ago link

Word war, trade war, financial war, then kinetic war...how many times over history has this happened? 1939 Japan, ring a bell?? Oil embargo.

[Jun 22, 2019] A new policy issued by the United States Department of Defense, in conjunction with online platforms like Twitter and Facebook, will automatically enlist you to New Departement of Defence rule: Internet Users Who Call For Attacking Other Countries Will Now Be Enlisted In The Military Automatically

Highly recommended!
Jun 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

interlocutor , Jun 21, 2019 6:13:43 PM | 186

The Babylon Bee: Report: Internet Users Who Call For Attacking Other Countries Will Now Be Enlisted In The Military Automatically

https://babylonbee.com/img/articles/article-4404-1.jpg

U.S. -- A new policy issued by the United States Department of Defense, in conjunction with online platforms like Twitter and Facebook, will automatically enlist you to fight in a foreign war if you post your support for attacking another country.

People who bravely post about how the U.S. needs to invade some country in the Middle East or Asia or outer space will get a pop-up notice indicating they've been enlisted in the military. A recruiter will then show up at their house and whisk them away to fight in the foreign war they wanted to happen so badly.

"Frankly, recruitment numbers are down, and we needed some way to find people who are really enthusiastic about fighting wars," said a DOD official. "Then it hit us like a drone strike: there are plenty of people who argue vehemently for foreign intervention. It doesn't matter what war we're trying to create: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China---these people are always reliable supporters of any invasion abroad. So why not get them there on the frontlines?"

"After all, we want people who are passionate about occupying foreign lands, not grunts who are just there for the paycheck," he added.

Strangely, as soon as the policy was implemented, 99% of saber-rattling suddenly ceased.

Note: The Babylon Bee is the world's best satire site, totally inerrant in all its truth claims. We write satire about Christian stuff, political stuff, and everyday life.

The Babylon Bee was created ex nihilo on the eighth day of the creation week, exactly 6,000 years ago. We have been the premier news source through every major world event, from the Tower of Babel and the Exodus to the Reformation and the War of 1812. We focus on just the facts, leaving spin and bias to other news sites like CNN and Fox News.

If you would like to complain about something on our site, take it up with God.

Unlike other satire sites, everything we post is 100% verified by Snopes.com.

[Jun 22, 2019] Bolton Calls For Forceful Iranian Response To Continuing US Aggression

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "Iran cannot sit idly by as the American imperialist machine encroaches on their territory, threatens their sovereignty, and endangers their very way of life," said Bolton, warning that America's fanatical leadership, steadfast devotion to flexing their muscles in the region, and alleged access to nuclear weapons necessitated that Iran strike back with a vigorous show of force as soon -- and as hard -- as possible. ..."
"... "The only thing these Westerners understand is violence, so it's imperative that Iran sends a clear message that they won't be walked over. Let's not forget, the U.S. defied a diplomatically negotiated treaty for seemingly no reason at all -- these are dangerous radicals that cannot be reasoned with. ..."
Jun 22, 2019 | politics.theonion.com

Demanding that the Middle Eastern nation retaliate immediately in self-defense against the existential threat posed by America's military operations, National Security Adviser John Bolton called for a forceful Iranian response Friday to continuing United States aggression.

"Iran cannot sit idly by as the American imperialist machine encroaches on their territory, threatens their sovereignty, and endangers their very way of life," said Bolton, warning that America's fanatical leadership, steadfast devotion to flexing their muscles in the region, and alleged access to nuclear weapons necessitated that Iran strike back with a vigorous show of force as soon -- and as hard -- as possible.

"The only thing these Westerners understand is violence, so it's imperative that Iran sends a clear message that they won't be walked over. Let's not forget, the U.S. defied a diplomatically negotiated treaty for seemingly no reason at all -- these are dangerous radicals that cannot be reasoned with.

They've been given every opportunity to back down, but their goal is total domination of the region, and Iran won't stand for that."

At press time, Bolton said that the only option left on the table was for Iran to launch a full-fledged military strike against the Great Satan.

[Jun 22, 2019] Donald Trump likes to think of himself as a statesman, an author, an A-level negotiator but at heart, he's one thing: an insult comic

Add to this that he is in the pocket of Israel lobby and that helps to explain most of his actions.
Jun 16, 2019 | www.politico.com

President Donald Trump likes to think of himself as a statesman, an author, an A-level negotiator, but at heart, he's one thing: an insult comic.

Every day in D.C. is a roast, the insults and belittling nicknames wielded like tiny comedy bullets. And if you haven't seen enough of the fusillade on Twitter, all you need to do is turn on late night TV. Television comedy has a strange, symbiotic relationship with the real political world, something between a feedback loop and a funhouse mirror....

... ... ...

[Jun 22, 2019] I was shocked -- but not surprised -- to see visibly-pained CBS Pentagon flack David Martin on the boob tube this morning. Thank you, Vasili Arkhipov

Notable quotes:
"... Thank you, Vasili Arkhipov, for getting cold-feet, too! Madness, our nation is afflicted with madness. ..."
Jun 22, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Widowson , 21 June 2019 at 02:41 PM

I was shocked-- but not surprised-- to see visibly-pained CBS Pentagon flack David Martin on the boob tube this morning quoting an unnamed source that speculated that the reason Trump cancelled the bombing of Iran was that he got "cold-feet."

Thank you, Vasili Arkhipov, for getting cold-feet, too! Madness, our nation is afflicted with madness.

[Jun 22, 2019] Why a U.S.-Iran War Could End Up Being a Historic Disaster by Doug Bandow

Highly recommended!
The current conflict is about the US hegemony in the region, not anything else.
The analysis is really good. I especially like "The Trump administration is essentially a one-trick pony when it comes to foreign policy toward hostile states. The standard quo is to apply massive economic pressure and demand surrender"
That means that Doug Bandow proposals while good are completely unrealistic.
Notable quotes:
"... Sixteen years ago, the George W. Bush administration manipulated intelligence to scare the public into backing an aggressive war against Iraq. The smoking gun mushroom clouds that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice warned against didn’t exist, but the invasion long desired by neoconservatives and other hawks proceeded. Liberated Iraqis rejected U.S. plans to create an American puppet state on the Euphrates and the aftermath turned into a humanitarian and geopolitical catastrophe which continues to roil the Middle East. ..."
"... Now the Trump administration appears to be following the same well-worn path. The president has fixated on Iran, tearing up the nuclear accord with Tehran and declaring economic war on it—as well as anyone dealing with Iran. He is pushing America toward war even as he insists that he wants peace. How stupid does he believe we are? ..."
"... Washington did much to encourage a violent, extremist revolution in Tehran. The average Iranian could be forgiven for viewing America as a virulently hostile power determined to do his or her nation ill at almost every turn. ..."
"... The Shah was ousted in 1979. Following his departure the Reagan administration backed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein when he invaded Iran, triggering an eight-year war which killed at least half a million people. Washington reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers to protect revenue subsequently lent to Baghdad, provided Iraq with intelligence for military operations, and supplied components for chemical weapons employed against Iranian forces. In 1988 the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in international airspace. ..."
"... Economic sanctions were first imposed on Iran in 1979 and regularly expanded thereafter. Washington forged a close military partnership with Iran’s even more repressive rival, Saudi Arabia. In the immediate aftermath of its 2003 victory over Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration rejected Iran’s offer to negotiate; neoconservatives casually suggested that “real men” would conquer Tehran as well. Even the Obama administration threatened to take military action against Iran. ..."
"... Contrary to the common assumption in Washington that average Iranians would love the United States for attempting to destroy their nation’s economy, the latest round of sanctions apparently triggered a notable rise in anti-American sentiment. Nationalism trumped anti-clericalism. ..."
"... Iran also has no desire for war, which it would lose. However, Washington’s aggressive economic and military policies create pressure on Tehran to respond. Especially since administration policy—sanctions designed to crash the economy, military moves preparing for war — almost certainly have left hardliners, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who opposed negotiations with Washington, ascendant in Tehran. ..."
"... Europeans also point to Bush administration lies about Iraq and the fabricated 1964 Tonkin Gulf incident used to justify America’s entry into the Vietnam War. Even more important, the administration ostentatiously fomented the current crisis by trashing the JCPOA, launching economic war against Iran, threatening Tehran’s economic partners, and insisting on Iran’s submission. A cynic might reasonably conclude that the president and his aides hoped to trigger a violent Iranian response. ..."
"... Indeed, a newspaper owned by the Saudi royal family recently called for U.S. strikes on Iran. One or the reasons Al Qaeda launched the 9/11 attacks was to trigger an American military response against a Muslim nation. A U.S.-Iran war would be the mother of all Mideast conflagrations. ..."
"... In parallel, Washington should propose negotiations to lower tensions in other issues. But there truly should be no preconditions, requiring the president to consign the Pompeo list to a White House fireplace. In return for Iranian willingness to drop confrontational behavior in the region, the U.S. should offer to reciprocate—for instance, indicate a willingness to cut arms sales to the Saudis and Emiratis, end support for the Yemen war, and withdraw American forces from Syria and Iraq. ..."
"... Most important, American policymakers should play the long-game. Rather than try to crash the Islamic Republic and hope for the best, Washington should encourage Iran to open up, creating more opportunity and influence for a younger generation that desires a freer society. ..."
Jun 22, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

Sixteen years ago, the George W. Bush administration manipulated intelligence to scare the public into backing an aggressive war against Iraq. The smoking gun mushroom clouds that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice warned against didn’t exist, but the invasion long desired by neoconservatives and other hawks proceeded. Liberated Iraqis rejected U.S. plans to create an American puppet state on the Euphrates and the aftermath turned into a humanitarian and geopolitical catastrophe which continues to roil the Middle East.

Thousands of dead Americans, tens of thousands of wounded and maimed U.S. personnel, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, and millions of Iraqis displaced. There was the sectarian conflict, destruction of the historic Christian community, the creation of Al Qaeda in Iraq—which morphed into the far deadlier Islamic State—and the enhanced influence of Iran. The prime question was how could so many supposedly smart people be so stupid?

Now the Trump administration appears to be following the same well-worn path. The president has fixated on Iran, tearing up the nuclear accord with Tehran and declaring economic war on it—as well as anyone dealing with Iran. He is pushing America toward war even as he insists that he wants peace. How stupid does he believe we are?

The Iranian regime is malign. Nevertheless, despite being under almost constant siege it has survived longer than the U.S.-crafted dictatorship which preceded the Islamic Republic. And the latter did not arise in a vacuum. Washington did much to encourage a violent, extremist revolution in Tehran. The average Iranian could be forgiven for viewing America as a virulently hostile power determined to do his or her nation ill at almost every turn.

In 1953 the United States backed a coup against democratically selected prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh. Washington then aided the Shah in consolidating power, including the creation of the secret police, known as SAVAK. He forcibly modernized Iran’s still conservative Islamic society, while his corrupt and repressive rule united secular and religious Iranians against him.

The Shah was ousted in 1979. Following his departure the Reagan administration backed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein when he invaded Iran, triggering an eight-year war which killed at least half a million people. Washington reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers to protect revenue subsequently lent to Baghdad, provided Iraq with intelligence for military operations, and supplied components for chemical weapons employed against Iranian forces. In 1988 the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in international airspace.

Economic sanctions were first imposed on Iran in 1979 and regularly expanded thereafter. Washington forged a close military partnership with Iran’s even more repressive rival, Saudi Arabia. In the immediate aftermath of its 2003 victory over Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration rejected Iran’s offer to negotiate; neoconservatives casually suggested that “real men” would conquer Tehran as well. Even the Obama administration threatened to take military action against Iran.

As Henry Kissinger reportedly once said, even a paranoid can have enemies. Contrary to the common assumption in Washington that average Iranians would love the United States for attempting to destroy their nation’s economy, the latest round of sanctions apparently triggered a notable rise in anti-American sentiment. Nationalism trumped anti-clericalism.

The hostile relationship with Iran also has allowed Saudi Arabia, which routinely undercuts American interests and values, to gain a dangerous stranglehold over U.S. policy. To his credit President Barack Obama attempted to rebalance Washington’s Mideast policy. The result was the multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It provided for an intrusive inspection regime designed to discourage any future Iranian nuclear weapons program—which U.S. intelligence indicated had been inactive since 2003.

However, candidate Donald Trump had an intense and perverse desire to overturn every Obama policy. His tight embrace of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who ignored the advice of his security chiefs in denouncing the accord, and the Saudi royals, who Robert Gates once warned would fight Iran to the last American, also likely played an important role.

Last year the president withdrew from the accord and followed with a declaration of economic war. He then declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a military organization, to be a terrorist group. (Washington routinely uses the “terrorist” designation for purely political purposes.) Finally, there are reports, officially denied by Washington, that U.S. forces, allied with Islamist radicals—the kind of extremists responsible for most terrorist attacks on Americans—have been waging a covert war against Iranian smuggling operations.

The president claimed that he wanted to negotiate: “We aren’t looking for regime change,” he said. “We are looking for no nuclear weapons.” But that is what the JCPOA addressed. His policy is actually pushing Tehran to expand its nuclear program. Moreover, last year Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a speech that the Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian, who spent more than a year in Iranian prison, called “silly” and “completely divorced from reality.”

In a talk to an obsequious Heritage Foundation audience, Pompeo set forth the terms of Tehran’s surrender: Iran would be expected to abandon any pretense of maintaining an independent foreign policy and yield its deterrent missile capabilities, leaving it subservient to Saudi Arabia, with the latter’s U.S.-supplied and -trained military. Tehran could not even cooperate with other governments, such as Syria, at their request. The only thing missing from Pompeo’s remarks was insistence that Iran accept an American governor-general in residence.

The proposal was a nonstarter and looked like the infamous 1914 Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia, which was intended to be rejected and thereby justify war. After all, National Security Advisor John Bolton expressed his policy preference in a 2015 New York Times op-ed titled: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Whatever the president’s true intentions, Tehran can be forgiven for seeing Washington’s position as one of regime change, by war if necessary.

The administration apparently assumed that new, back-breaking sanctions would either force the regime to surrender at the conference table or collapse amid political and social conflict. Indeed, when asked if he really believed sanctions would change Tehran’s behavior, Pompeo answered that “what can change is, the people can change the government.” Both Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations have recently argued that the Islamic Republic is an exhausted regime, one that is perhaps on its way to extinction.

However, Rezaian says “there is nothing new” about Tehran’s difficult Iranian economic problems. “Assuming that this time around the Iranian people can compel their government to bend to America’s will seems—at least to anyone who has spent significant time in Iran in recent decades—fantastical,” he said. Gerecht enthusiasm for U.S. warmaking has led to mistakes in the past. He got Iraq wrong seventeen years ago when he wrote that “a war with Iraq might not shake up the Middle East much at all.

Today the administration is using a similar strategy against Russia, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. The citizens of these countries have not risen against their oppressors to establish a new, democratic, pro-American regime. Numerous observers wrongly predicted that the Castro regime would die after the end of Soviet subsidies and North Korea’s inevitable fall in the midst of a devastating famine. Moreover, regime collapse isn’t likely to yield a liberal, democratic republic when the most radical, authoritarian elites remain best-armed.

... ... ...

More important, Washington does not want to go to war with Iran, which is larger than Iraq, has three times the population, and is a real country. The regime, while unpopular with many Iranians, is much better rooted than Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Tehran possesses unconventional weapons, missiles, and allies which could spread chaos throughout the region. American forces in Syria and Iraq would be vulnerable, while Baghdad’s stability could be put at risk. If Americans liked the Iraq debacle, then they would love the chaos likely to result from attempting to violently destroy the Iranian state. David Frum, one of the most avid neoconservative advocates of the Iraq invasion, warned that war with Iran would repeat Iraqi blunders on “a much bigger sale, without allies, without justification, and without any plan at all for what comes next.”

Iran also has no desire for war, which it would lose. However, Washington’s aggressive economic and military policies create pressure on Tehran to respond. Especially since administration policy—sanctions designed to crash the economy, military moves preparing for war — almost certainly have left hardliners, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who opposed negotiations with Washington, ascendant in Tehran.

Carefully calibrated military action, such as tanker attacks, might be intended to show “resolve” to gain credibility. Washington policymakers constantly justify military action as necessary to demonstrate that they are willing to take military action. Doing so is even more important for a weaker power. Moreover, observed the Eurasia Group, Iranian security agencies “have a decades-long history of conducting attacks and other operations aimed precisely at undermining the diplomatic objectives of a country’s elected representatives.” If Iran is responsible, observed Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group, then administration policy perversely “is rendering Iran more aggressive, not less,” thereby making the Mideast more, not less dangerous

Of course, Tehran has denied any role in the attacks and there is good reason to question unsupported Trump administration claims of Iranian guilt. The president’s indifferent relationship to the truth alone raises serious questions. Europeans also point to Bush administration lies about Iraq and the fabricated 1964 Tonkin Gulf incident used to justify America’s entry into the Vietnam War. Even more important, the administration ostentatiously fomented the current crisis by trashing the JCPOA, launching economic war against Iran, threatening Tehran’s economic partners, and insisting on Iran’s submission. A cynic might reasonably conclude that the president and his aides hoped to trigger a violent Iranian response.

Other malicious actors also could be responsible for tanker attacks. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Israel, ISIS, and Al Qaeda all likely believe they would benefit from an American war on Tehran and might decide to speed the process along by fomenting an incident. Indeed, a newspaper owned by the Saudi royal family recently called for U.S. strikes on Iran. One or the reasons Al Qaeda launched the 9/11 attacks was to trigger an American military response against a Muslim nation. A U.S.-Iran war would be the mother of all Mideast conflagrations.

Rather than continue a military spiral upward, Washington should defuse Gulf tensions. The administration brought the Middle East to a boil. It can calm the waters. Washington should stand down its military, offering to host multilateral discussions with oil consuming nations, energy companies, and tanker operators over establishing shared naval security in sensitive waterways, including in the Middle East. Given America’s growing domestic energy production, the issue no longer should be considered Washington’s responsibility. Other wealthy industrialized states should do what is necessary for their economic security.

The administration also should make a serious proposal for talks. It won’t be easy. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared “negotiation has no benefit and carries harm.” He further argued that “negotiations are a tactic of this pressure,” which is the ultimate “strategic aim.” Even President Hassan Rouhani rejected contact without a change in U.S. policy. “Whenever they lift the unjust sanctions and fulfill their commitments and return to the negotiations table, which they left themselves, the door is not closed,” he said. In back channel discussions Iranians supposedly suggested that the U.S. reverse the latest sanctions, at least on oil sales, ending attempts to wreck Iran’s economy.

If the president seriously desires talks with Tehran, then he should demonstrate that he does not expect preemptive surrender. The administration should suspend its “maximum pressure” campaign and propose multilateral talks on tightening the nuclear agreement in return for additional American and allied concessions, such as further sanctions relief.

In parallel, Washington should propose negotiations to lower tensions in other issues. But there truly should be no preconditions, requiring the president to consign the Pompeo list to a White House fireplace. In return for Iranian willingness to drop confrontational behavior in the region, the U.S. should offer to reciprocate—for instance, indicate a willingness to cut arms sales to the Saudis and Emiratis, end support for the Yemen war, and withdraw American forces from Syria and Iraq. Tehran has far greater interest in neighborhood security than the United States, which Washington must respect if the latter seeks to effectively disarm Iran. The administration should invite the Europeans to join such an initiative, since they have an even greater reason to worry about Iranian missiles and more.

Most important, American policymakers should play the long-game. Rather than try to crash the Islamic Republic and hope for the best, Washington should encourage Iran to open up, creating more opportunity and influence for a younger generation that desires a freer society. That requires greater engagement, not isolation. Washington’s ultimate objective should be the liberal transformation of Iran, freeing an ancient civilization to regain its leading role in today’s world, which would have a huge impact on the region.

The Trump administration is essentially a one-trick pony when it comes to foreign policy toward hostile states. The standard quo is to apply massive economic pressure and demand surrender. This approach has failed in every case. Washington has caused enormous economic hardship, but no target regime has capitulated. In Iran, like North Korea, U.S. policy sharply raised tensions and the chances of conflict.

War would be a disaster. Instead, the administration must, explained James Fallows, “through bluff and patience, change the actions of a government whose motives he does not understand well, and over which his influence is limited.” Which requires the administration to adopt a new, more serious strategy toward Tehran, and quickly.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.

[Jun 22, 2019] As the available videos illustrate, this is the same crowd on rollpay we are used to witness in the Maidan, on jeans bermudas and t-shirts or bare chest, wearing police helmets and shields, with both, the US and Ukrainian flags waving in the sides and amongst the crowd of "protestors".

Jun 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Sasha , Jun 21, 2019 10:23:04 AM | 57

While everybody is entertained with the drone and events in the Persian Gulf, as it susally goes lately, a coup d´etat is in the works in Georgia, against the moderate, not so russophobic as the US/UK need, recently elected government who wants to restore mutual beneficcial relations with its neighbors..

So far the President of Georgian Parliament have resigned , on the outcome of events last night when in the middle of an Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy with the participation of a Russian representative.

As the available videos illustrate , this is the same crowd on rollpay we are used to witness in the Maidan, on jeans bermudas and t-shirts or bare chest, wearing police helmets and shields, with both, the US and Ukrainian flags waving in the sides and amongst the crowd of "protestors".
It is also reported that the handlers were all English speakers....

Most of injured resulting, according to Georgian Health Ministry, belong to police members.

[Jun 22, 2019] The Financial War Escalates

Jun 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

When you see a rash, you should look beyond the skin for a cause. It has been like this with Hong Kong over the last few weeks. On the surface we see impressively organised demonstrations to stop the executive from introducing extradition laws to China. We observe that university students and others not much older are running the demonstrations with military precision. The Mainland Chinese should be impressed.

They are unlikely to see it that way. The build-up of riots against Hong Kong's proposed extradition treaty with the Mainland started months ago, supported and driven by commentary in the Land of the Free . America is now coming out in the open as China's adversary, no longer just a trading partner worried by the trade imbalances. And Hong Kong is the pressure point.

This happened before, in 2014. The Chinese leadership was certain the riots in Hong Kong reflected the work of American agencies. The following is an extract translated from a speech by Major-General Qiao Liang, a leading strategist for the Peoples' Liberation Army, addressing the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee in 2015:

"Since the Diaoyu Islands conflict and the Huangyan Island conflict, incidents have kept popping up around China, including the confrontation over China's 981 oil rigs with Vietnam and Hong Kong's "Occupy Central" event. Can they still be viewed as simply accidental?

I accompanied General Liu Yazhou, the Political Commissar of the National Defence University, to visit Hong Kong in May 2014. At that time, we heard that the "Occupy Central" movement was being planned and could take place by end of the month. However, it didn't happen in May, June, July, or August.

What happened? What were they waiting for?

Let's look at another time table: the U.S. Federal Reserve's exit from the Quantitative Easing (QE) policy. The U.S. said it would stop QE at the beginning of 2014. But it stayed with the QE policy in April, May, June, July, and August. As long as it was in QE, it kept overprinting dollars and the dollar's price couldn't go up. Thus, Hong Kong's "Occupy Central" should not happen either.

At the end of September, the Federal Reserve announced the U.S. would exit from QE. The dollar started going up. Then Hong Kong's "Occupy Central" broke out in early October.

Actually, the Diaoyu Islands, Huangyan Island, the 981 rigs, and Hong Kong's "Occupy Central" movement were all bombs. The successful explosion of any one of them would lead to a regional crisis or a worsened investment environment around China. That would force the withdrawal of a large amount of investment from this region, which would then return to the U.S."

That America is stoking and organising discontent anew in Hong Kong is probably still China's view today. Clearly, the Chinese believed America covertly managed "Occupy Central" and therefore are at it again. Apart from what their spies tell them, the protests are too well organised and planned to be spontaneous. This time, the attack appears to have a better chance of success. The plan is coordinated with American pressure on Hong Kong's dollar peg in an attempt to destabilise it, principally through the threat to extend tariffs against China to Hong Kong. This second attempt to collapse Hong Kong is therefore more serious.

Hong Kong is critical, because through Shanghai Connect it is the only lawful channel for foreign investment flows into China. This is important to the Americans, because the US Treasury cannot afford to see global portfolio flows attracted into China at a time when they will be needed to invest in increasing quantities of US Treasury stock. Understand that, and you will have grasped a large part of the urgency behind America's attempt to destabilise Hong Kong.

Qiao Liang makes this point elsewhere in his aforementioned speech, claiming American tactics are the consequence of the ending of Bretton Woods:

"Without the restriction of gold, the US can print dollars at will. If they keep a large amount of dollars inside the US, it will certainly create inflation. If they export dollars to the world, the whole world is helping the US deal with its inflation. That's why inflation is not high in the US."

While one can take issue with his simplistic analysis, that is not the point. What matters is what the Chinese believe. Qiao concludes:

"By issuing debt, the US brings a large amount of dollars from overseas back to the US's three big markets: the commodity market, the Treasury Bills market, and the stock market. The US repeats this cycle to make money: printing money, exporting money overseas, and bringing money back. The US has become a financial empire."

Conceptually, Qiao was broadly correct. His error in these two statements was to not explain that ownership of dollars means they are deployed exclusively in America, but perhaps he was simplifying his argument for a non-technical audience. All dollars, despite foreign ownership, remain in the American economy as a combination of US Treasuries and T-bills, investment in US listed and unlisted securities, physical assets such as property and also deposits through correspondent banks held in New York.

It is not the dollars that flow, but their ownership that changes. Dollars are bought and sold for foreign currencies by central banks, sovereign wealth funds, commercial banks, insurance companies and pension funds. The currencies in which these entities invest matters, and investment decisions are obviously affected by currency prospects. It allows the US Treasury to attract these flows into the dollar by simply making other currencies less attractive. Foreign owners of foreign currencies can easily be spooked into the safe havens of the dollar and US Treasuries. This is the way foreigners are corralled into funding the budget deficit.

A weakening yuan-dollar exchange rate will dissuade international portfolios from investing in China's projects, for which the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was established. China should respond to moves to undermine her currency, seeking to enhance the attractions of her investment opportunities to international investment funds by taking measures to support the yuan. If not, global investment funds will simply not come China's way.

Besides attracting portfolio flows into the US, a rising dollar is also a threat to foreign governments and corporates who have borrowed dollars and then have to pay them back later. This was what mauled South-East Asian economies in the 1997 financial crisis. China as a state is not in this position, though some of her regional trading partners will have fallen into this trap again.

It is clear from elsewhere in Qiao's speech that the Chinese understand America's motives and methods. Therefore, they will anticipate American actions to undermine the yuan. If the Americans succeed and with the yuan made unattractive, international portfolio money that is already invested in China will be sucked out, potentially crashing China's capital markets.

With the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act going onto the US statute book, President Trump will be able to use the link to the Emergency Economic Powers Act to impose sanctions against trade, finance and technology. The concern in Hong Kong is personal wealth will now decamp and that Hong Kong property prices will implode.

The British involvement

America's strategy has included putting pressure on her allies to fall into line with her interests against China. All NATO members have been told not to buy Huawei equipment. Protective of the special relationship, the British have gone along with it. But Cheltenham's GCHQ (the UK's cyber monitoring agency) has at least given Huawei the opportunity to address the security issues that have been raised.

A greater problem is bound to arise, and that is the role of the City of London. In 2014, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, agreed a plan with the Chinese leadership for the City to work with Hong Kong to internationalise the yuan. The Chinese wanted to bypass New York for obvious reasons.

The request to meet Osborne went through Boris Johnson, at the time Mayor of London and leading a trade delegation to China on behalf of the City. Johnson is now odds-on favourite to become the next Prime Minister and if appointed will undoubtedly find himself in a difficult position. He will have to walk a very fine line between Britain's developing Chinese interests, her special relationship with America, his new friendship with Trump, and also the trade agreement with America which both Trump and Johnson are likely to prioritise following Brexit.

Depending on how Johnson acts, China may have to put her plans to internationalise the yuan on hold. The risk for China is that with her international financial plans threatened and the Americans determined to strengthen the dollar in order to undermine the yuan, she will not have access to the international portfolio flows she needs to help finance her infrastructure plans and her Made in China 2025 project.

Put another way, we face no less than a dangerous escalation of the financial war between America and China, with America trying to close off international finance to China.

China's policy predicament

In a tactical retreat, Hong Kong has put plans to introduce the new extradition legislation on hold. All it has achieved is to redirect demonstrators' demands towards Hong Kong's Chief Executive to resign, and the demonstrations continued.

The question now arises as to how the Chinese will proceed. So far, they have played their hand defensively in the financial war against America, but things are now coming to a head. Obviously, they will protect Hong Kong, but more importantly they must address capital flight through the Shanghai Connect. One option will be to suspend it, but that would undermine the trust fundamental to future inward portfolio flows. It would also be a huge setback for the international yuan. In any event, action must be taken to underwrite the yuan exchange rate.

One option would be to increase interest rates, but this will risk being read as a panic measure. In this context, an early and definite rise in interest rates would be better than a delay or a lesser adjustment to monetary policy. For the domestic economy, this would favour savers in an economy already savings-driven, but disadvantage exporters and many small and medium-size businesses. It would amount to a reversal of recent economic and monetary policies, which are intended to increase domestic consumption and reduce export surpluses.

The economic theories that the central planners in Beijing actually believe in will become centre-stage. China has adopted the global neo-Keynesian standard of economic planning and credit expansion. When the country moved rapidly from a peasant economy, credit was able to expand without the regular pitfalls of a credit cycle observed in an advanced economy being noticeable. This was because economic progress eclipsed the consequences of monetary inflation.

But China is no longer an economic green-field site, having become predominantly a modern economy. Consequently, she has moved from her pure mercantilist approach to running the economy to a more financial and monetary style of central planning.

Through deploying similar monetary policies to the Americans, it might now occur to Beijing's central planners that they are at a severe disadvantage playing that game. The dollar and the yuan are both unbacked credit-based currencies bedevilled with debt. But if the dollar goes head-to-head against the yuan, the dollar will always destabilise the yuan.

Supping from the Keynesian cup is China's principal weakness. She cannot afford to face down the dollar, and the Americans know it. For the Chinese, the path of least risk appears to be the one China has pursued successfully to date: do as little as possible to rock the boat, and let America make the mistakes. However, as I shall argue later, the time is coming for China to take the offensive.

Meanwhile, Chinese inaction is likely to be encouraged by another factor: the escalation of US embargoes on Iranian oil, and the increasing possibility of a new Middle-East conflict with Iran. This is bound to have a bearing on Chinese-American relations.

False flags and Iran

Last week, two oil tankers suffered an attack by parties unknown after leaving the Strait of Hormuz outward-bound. Predictably, the Americans and the Saudis blamed Iran, and Iran has denied involvement. The Americans, supported by the British, have been quick to point out that Iran had the motivation to attack and therefore was the guilty party. As a consequence of US sanctions, her economy is in a state of collapse and Iran needs higher oil prices. The US has been building up its Gulf fleet provocatively, increasing tensions. According to Al-Jazeera, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani warned last December that "If one day they (the US) want to prevent the export of Iran's oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf."

Perhaps that day is close. Tehran must be desperate, and she blames the Americans and Israelis for a false flag attack, an accusation that bases its credibility on previous incidents in the region and a suspicion that Israel backed by America wants an excuse to attack Iran. The Syrian bridge to Hezbollah threatens Israel to its North, so its involvement is logical, and it looks like a Mossad operation. By driving Iran into a corner, it is hard to see any other outcome than further escalation.

If America does get tied up in a new war in the Middle East, she will be fighting on two Asian fronts: militarily against Iran and financially against China. It could descend rapidly into a global crisis, which would not suit China's interests or anyone else's for that matter. However, an American attack against Iran could trigger the widespread flight of investment money to the safety of the dollar and US Treasuries.

If America achieves that objective before sending in the troops, she could then compromise on both Iran and on tariffs against China. Assuming Qiao Liang's analysis still has traction in Beijing, this is the way American strategy might be read by the Chinese war-gamers.

Meanwhile, China is securing her defences. Besides aligning with Russia and both being expected to vote at the UN against Israeli/American attempts to escalate tensions in the Gulf, Russia can be expected to covertly help Iran. Beijing is also securing a partnership to protect North Korea, with Xi visiting Pyongyang this week in order to head off American action in that direction. The whole Asian continent from Ukraine to the Bering Sea is now on a defensive footing.

How will it be resolved?

If the funding of the US deficit is the underling problem, then a continuation of China's longstanding policy of not reacting to America's financial aggression is no longer an option. A weaker yuan will be the outcome and a second Asian financial crisis involving China would be in the offing. It also means the progression of China's economy would become more dependent on domestic inflationary financing through the expansion of bank credit at a time when food prices, partially due to the outbreak of African swine fever, are rising as well.

There is bound to be an intense debate in the Chinese Politburo as to whether it is wise to abandon neo-Keynesian financing and revert to the previous understanding that debasing the currency and the inflation of food prices impoverishes the people and will inevitably lead to political destabilisation. The logic behind the state accumulating a hoard of gold, encouraging citizens to hoard it as well, and dominating international bullion markets was to protect the citizens from a paper money crisis. That paper money crisis now threatens the yuan more than the dollar.

It must be clear to the Chinese, who are no slouches when it comes to understanding political strategy, why America is taking a far more aggressive stance in their financial war. The absence of foreign buyers in the US Treasury market could turn out to be the most serious crisis for America since the end of Bretton Woods. The Deep State, driven in this case by the US Treasury, will not permit it to happen. For both China and America, these are desperate times.

There was always going to be a point in time when mundane chess moves end up threatening to check and then checkmate one or the other king. China now finds her king under serious threat and she must make a countermove. She cannot afford portfolio flows to reverse. The financing of her Made in China 2025 plan and the completion of the silk roads are vital to her long-term political stability.

China must therefore counter dollar strength by means other than simply raising interest rates. Inevitably, the solution points towards gold. Everyone knows, or at least suspects that China has accumulated significant undeclared reserves of gold bullion. The time has probably come for China to show her hand and declare her true gold reserves, or at least enough of them to exceed the official gold reserves of the US.

It is likely a declaration of this sort would drive the gold price significantly higher, amounting to a dollar devaluation. By denying gold is money, America has exposed itself to the risk of the dollar's reserve status being questioned in global markets, and this is China's trump card.

If Xi attends the Osaka G20 at the end of this month, the purpose would be less to talk to Trump, but more to talk to the other leaders to make it clear what the Americans are up to and to ensure they are aware of the consequences for the global monetary system when China takes positive action to protect her own currency and domestic capital markets.


Demeter55 , 4 hours ago link

China gives the US too much credit for "people organizing" skills.

Credit where credit is due: the Hong Kong population is dynamic and driven. They are "incentivized" by Chinese policy itself.

I am Groot , 19 hours ago link

My next prediction is that Iranian oil leaving their country is blockaded. Especially oil going to China.

BennyBoy , 19 hours ago link

It's a war to secure global RESOURCES..

Fixed it.

iSage , 19 hours ago link

Word war, trade war, financial war, then kinetic war...how many times over history has this happened? 1939 Japan, ring a bell?? Oil embargo.

[Jun 22, 2019] Why The Empire Is Failing The Horrid Hubris Of The Albright Doctrine by Doug Bandow

Highly recommended!
Bolton is just Albright of different sex. The same aggressive stupidity.
Notable quotes:
"... Albright typifies the arrogance and hawkishness of Washington blob... ..."
"... How to describe US foreign policy over the last couple of decades? Disastrous comes to mind. Arrogant and murderous also seem appropriate. ..."
"... Washington and Beijing appear to be a collision course on far more than trade. Yet the current administration appears convinced that doing more of the same will achieve different results, the best definition of insanity. ..."
"... Despite his sometimes abusive and incendiary rhetoric, the president has departed little from his predecessors' policies. For instance, American forces remain deployed in Afghanistan and Syria. Moreover, the Trump administration has increased its military and materiel deployments to Europe. Also, Washington has intensified economic sanctions on Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, and even penalized additional countries, namely Venezuela. ..."
"... "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." ..."
"... Even then her claim was implausible. America blundered into the Korean War and barely achieved a passable outcome. The Johnson administration infused Vietnam with dramatically outsize importance. For decades, Washington foolishly refused to engage the People's Republic of China. Washington-backed dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, and elsewhere fell ingloriously. An economic embargo against Cuba that continues today helped turn Fidel Castro into a global folk hero. Washington veered dangerously close to nuclear war with Moscow during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and again two decades later during military exercises in Europe. ..."
"... Perhaps the worst failing of U.S. foreign policy was ignoring the inevitable impact of foreign intervention. Americans would never passively accept another nation bombing, invading, and occupying their nation, or interfering in their political system. Even if outgunned, they would resist. Yet Washington has undertaken all of these practices, with little consideration of the impact on those most affected -- hence the rise of terrorism against the United States. Terrorism, horrid and awful though it is, became the weapon of choice of weaker peoples against intervention by the world's industrialized national states. ..."
"... Albright's assumption that members of The Blob were far-seeing was matched by her belief that the same people were entitled to make life-and-death decisions for the entire planet. ..."
"... The willingness to so callously sacrifice so many helps explain why "they" often hate us, usually meaning the U.S. government. This is also because "they" believe average Americans hate them. Understandably, it too often turns out, given the impact of the full range of American interventions -- imposing economic sanctions, bombing, invading, and occupying other nations, unleashing drone campaigns, underwriting tyrannical regimes, supporting governments which occupy and oppress other peoples, displaying ostentatious hypocrisy and bias, and more. ..."
"... At the 1999 Rambouillet conference Albright made demands of Yugoslavia that no independent, sovereign state could accept: that, for instance, it act like defeated and occupied territory by allowing the free transit of NATO forces. Washington expected the inevitable refusal, which was calculated to provide justification for launching an unprovoked, aggressive war against the Serb-dominated remnant of Yugoslavia. ..."
"... Alas, members of the Blob view Americans with little more respect. The ignorant masses should do what they are told. (Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster recently complained of public war-weariness from fighting in Afghanistan for no good reason for more than seventeen years.) Even more so, believed Albright, members of the military should cheerfully patrol the quasi-empire being established by Washington's far-sighted leaders. ..."
"... When asked in 2003 about the incident, she said "what I thought was that we had -- we were in a kind of a mode of thinking that we were never going to be able to use our military effectively again." ..."
"... For Albright, war is just another foreign policy tool. One could send a diplomatic note, impose economic sanctions, or unleash murder and mayhem. No reason to treat the latter as anything special. Joining the U.S. military means putting your life at the disposal of Albright and her peers in The Blob. ..."
Jun 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Doug Bandow via National Interest,

Albright typifies the arrogance and hawkishness of Washington blob...

How to describe US foreign policy over the last couple of decades? Disastrous comes to mind. Arrogant and murderous also seem appropriate.

Since 9/11, Washington has been extraordinarily active militarily -- invading two nations, bombing and droning several others, deploying special operations forces in yet more countries, and applying sanctions against many. Tragically, the threat of Islamist violence and terrorism only have metastasized. Although Al Qaeda lost its effectiveness in directly plotting attacks, it continues to inspire national offshoots. Moreover, while losing its physical "caliphate" the Islamic State added further terrorism to its portfolio.

Three successive administrations have ever more deeply ensnared the United States in the Middle East. War with Iran appears to be frighteningly possible. Ever-wealthier allies are ever-more dependent on America. Russia is actively hostile to the United States and Europe. Washington and Beijing appear to be a collision course on far more than trade. Yet the current administration appears convinced that doing more of the same will achieve different results, the best definition of insanity.

Despite his sometimes abusive and incendiary rhetoric, the president has departed little from his predecessors' policies. For instance, American forces remain deployed in Afghanistan and Syria. Moreover, the Trump administration has increased its military and materiel deployments to Europe. Also, Washington has intensified economic sanctions on Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, and even penalized additional countries, namely Venezuela.

U.S. foreign policy suffers from systematic flaws in the thinking of the informal policy collective which former Obama aide Ben Rhodes dismissed as "The Blob." Perhaps no official better articulated The Blob's defective precepts than Madeleine Albright, United Nations ambassador and Secretary of State.

First is overweening hubris. In 1998 Secretary of State Albright declared 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."

Even then her claim was implausible. America blundered into the Korean War and barely achieved a passable outcome. The Johnson administration infused Vietnam with dramatically outsize importance. For decades, Washington foolishly refused to engage the People's Republic of China. Washington-backed dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, and elsewhere fell ingloriously. An economic embargo against Cuba that continues today helped turn Fidel Castro into a global folk hero. Washington veered dangerously close to nuclear war with Moscow during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and again two decades later during military exercises in Europe.

U.S. officials rarely were prepared for events that occurred in the next week or month, let alone years later. Americans did no better than the French in Vietnam. Americans managed events in Africa no better than the British, French, and Portuguese colonial overlords. Washington made more than its share of bad, even awful decisions in dealing with other nations around the globe.

Perhaps the worst failing of U.S. foreign policy was ignoring the inevitable impact of foreign intervention. Americans would never passively accept another nation bombing, invading, and occupying their nation, or interfering in their political system. Even if outgunned, they would resist. Yet Washington has undertaken all of these practices, with little consideration of the impact on those most affected -- hence the rise of terrorism against the United States. Terrorism, horrid and awful though it is, became the weapon of choice of weaker peoples against intervention by the world's industrialized national states.

The U.S. record since September 11 has been uniquely counterproductive. Rather than minimize hostility toward America, Washington adopted a policy -- highlighted by launching new wars, killing more civilians, and ravaging additional societies -- guaranteed to create enemies, exacerbate radicalism, and spread terrorism. Blowback is everywhere. Among the worst examples: Iraqi insurgents mutated into ISIS, which wreaked military havoc throughout the Middle East and turned to terrorism.

Albright's assumption that members of The Blob were far-seeing was matched by her belief that the same people were entitled to make life-and-death decisions for the entire planet. When queried 1996 about her justification for sanctions against Iraq which had killed a half million babies -- notably, she did not dispute the accuracy of that estimate -- she responded that "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it." Exactly who "we" were she did not say. Most likely she meant those Americans admitted to the foreign policy priesthood, empowered to make foreign policy and take the practical steps necessary to enforce it. (She later stated of her reply: "I never should have made it. It was stupid." It was, but it reflected her mindset.)

In any normal country, such a claim would be shocking -- a few people sitting in another capital deciding who lived and died. Foreign elites, a world away from the hardship that they imposed, deciding the value of those dying versus the purported interests being promoted. Those paying the price had no voice in the decision, no way to hold their persecutors accountable.

The willingness to so callously sacrifice so many helps explain why "they" often hate us, usually meaning the U.S. government. This is also because "they" believe average Americans hate them. Understandably, it too often turns out, given the impact of the full range of American interventions -- imposing economic sanctions, bombing, invading, and occupying other nations, unleashing drone campaigns, underwriting tyrannical regimes, supporting governments which occupy and oppress other peoples, displaying ostentatious hypocrisy and bias, and more.

This mindset is reinforced by contempt toward even those being aided by Washington. Although American diplomats had termed the Kosovo Liberation Army as "terrorist," the Clinton Administration decided to use the growing insurgency as an opportunity to expand Washington's influence. At the 1999 Rambouillet conference Albright made demands of Yugoslavia that no independent, sovereign state could accept: that, for instance, it act like defeated and occupied territory by allowing the free transit of NATO forces. Washington expected the inevitable refusal, which was calculated to provide justification for launching an unprovoked, aggressive war against the Serb-dominated remnant of Yugoslavia.

However, initially the KLA, determined on independence, refused to sign Albright's agreement. She exploded. One of her officials anonymously complained: "Here is the greatest nation on earth pleading with some nothingballs to do something entirely in their own interest -- which is to say yes to an interim agreement -- and they stiff us." Someone described as "a close associate" observed: "She is so stung by what happened. She's angry at everyone -- the Serbs, the Albanians and NATO." For Albright, the determination of others to achieve their own goals, even at risk to their lives, was an insult to America and her.

Alas, members of the Blob view Americans with little more respect. The ignorant masses should do what they are told. (Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster recently complained of public war-weariness from fighting in Afghanistan for no good reason for more than seventeen years.) Even more so, believed Albright, members of the military should cheerfully patrol the quasi-empire being established by Washington's far-sighted leaders.

As Albright famously asked Colin Powell in 1992:

"What's the use of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?" To her, American military personnel apparently were but gambit pawns in a global chess game, to be sacrificed for the interest and convenience of those playing. No wonder then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell's reaction stated in his autobiography was: "I thought I would have an aneurysm."

When asked in 2003 about the incident, she said "what I thought was that we had -- we were in a kind of a mode of thinking that we were never going to be able to use our military effectively again." Although sixty-five years had passed, she admitted that "my mindset is Munich," a unique circumstance and threat without even plausible parallel today.

Such a philosophy explains a 1997 comment by a cabinet member, likely Albright, to General Hugh Shelton, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "Hugh, I know I shouldn't even be asking you this, but what we really need in order to go in and take out Saddam is a precipitous event -- something that would make us look good in the eyes of the world. Could you have one of our U-2s fly low enough -- and slow enough -- so as to guarantee that Saddam could shoot it down?" He responded sure, as soon as she qualified to fly the plane.

For Albright, war is just another foreign policy tool. One could send a diplomatic note, impose economic sanctions, or unleash murder and mayhem. No reason to treat the latter as anything special. Joining the U.S. military means putting your life at the disposal of Albright and her peers in The Blob.

Anyone of these comments could be dismissed as a careless aside. Taken together, however, they reflect an attitude dangerous for Americans and foreigners alike. Unfortunately, the vagaries of U.S. foreign policy suggest that this mindset is not limited to any one person. Any president serious about taking a new foreign-policy direction must do more than drain the swamp. He or she must sideline The Blob.

* * *

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .

[Jun 22, 2019] How Madeleine Albright Got the War the U.S. Wanted by Gregory Elich

Notable quotes:
"... Twenty years have passed since the U.S.-orchestrated NATO attack on Yugoslavia. As the United States readied its forces for war in 1999, it organized a peace conference that was ostensibly intended to resolve differences between the Yugoslav government and secessionist ethnic Albanians in Kosovo on the future status of the province. A different scenario was being played out behind the scenes, however. U.S. officials wanted war and deliberately set up the process to fail, which they planned to use as a pretext for war. ..."
"... U.S. mediators habitually referred to the Yugoslav delegation as "the Serbs," even though they constituted a minority of the members. The Americans persisted in trying to cast events in Kosovo as a simplistic binary relationship of Serb versus Albanian, disregarding the presence of other ethnic groups in the province, and ignoring the fact that while some ethnic Albanians favored separation, others wished to remain in multiethnic Yugoslavia. ..."
"... It is probable that the U.S. was also operating electronic listening equipment and that U.S. mediators knew everything the delegations were saying in private. ..."
"... "Madeleine Albright told us all the time: 'If the Yugoslav delegation does not accept what we offer, you will be bombed.'" Šainović added, "We agreed in Rambouillet to any form of autonomy for Kosovo," but sovereignty remained the red line. [viii] ..."
"... As the conference progressed, U.S. negotiators were faced with an alarming problem, in that the Yugoslav delegation had accepted all of the Contact Group's fundamental political principles for an agreement, balking only at a NATO presence in Kosovo. On the other hand, the secessionist delegation rejected the Contact Group's political principles. Something had to be done to reverse this pattern. ..."
"... Quite intentionally, U.S. mediators included provisions in the final version of the text that no sovereign nation could be expected to accept. Neoliberal economic interests are always front and center when U.S. officials are involved, and they surely were not unaware of Kosovo's abundant reserves of mineral resources, ripe for exploitation. The first point in Article 1 of the Economic Issues section of the text states: ..."
"... Western investors were favored with a provision stating that authorities shall "ensure the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital to Kosovo, including from international sources." [xiii] One may wonder what these stipulations had to do with peace negotiations, but then the talks had far more to do with U.S. interests than anything to do with the needs of the people in the region. ..."
"... Yugoslavia was required "to provide, at no cost, the use of all facilities and services required" by NATO. [xvii]Within six months, Yugoslavia would have to withdraw all of its military forces from Kosovo, other than a small number of border guards. [xviii] ..."
"... The plan granted NATO "unrestricted use of the entire electromagnetic spectrum" to "communicate." Although the document indicated NATO would make "reasonable efforts to coordinate," there were no constraints on its power. [xix] Yugoslav officials, "upon simple request," would be required to grant NATO "all telecommunication services, including broadcast services free of cost." [xx]NATO could take over any radio and television facilities and transmission wavelengths it chose, knocking local stations off the air. ..."
"... The plan did not restrict NATO's presence to Kosovo. It granted NATO, with its "vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia]." [xxi] NATO would be "granted the use of airports, roads, rails, and ports without payment of fees, duties, dues, tools, or charges." [xxii] ..."
"... Bombing Yugoslavia was meant to solidify the new role for NATO as an offensive military force, acting on behalf of U.S. imperial interests. Since that time, NATO has attacked Libya, and engaged in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a variety of nations in Africa. Despite NATO's claim that it is "committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes," the record shows otherwise. ..."
"... Gregory Elich is a Korea Policy Institute associate and on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute. He is a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, a columnist for Voice of the People , and one of the co-authors of Killing Democracy: CIA and Pentagon Operations in the Post-Soviet Period , published in the Russian language. He is also a member of the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific. His website is https://gregoryelich.org . Follow him on Twitter at @GregoryElich ..."
May 13, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

Region: Europe , USA Theme: History , US NATO War Agenda

Twenty years have passed since the U.S.-orchestrated NATO attack on Yugoslavia. As the United States readied its forces for war in 1999, it organized a peace conference that was ostensibly intended to resolve differences between the Yugoslav government and secessionist ethnic Albanians in Kosovo on the future status of the province. A different scenario was being played out behind the scenes, however. U.S. officials wanted war and deliberately set up the process to fail, which they planned to use as a pretext for war.

The talks opened on February 6, 1999, in Rambouillet, France. Officially, the negotiations were led by a Contact Group comprised of U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill , European Union envoy Wolfgang Petritsch , and Russian diplomat Boris Mayorsky . All decisions were supposed to be jointly agreed upon by all three members of the Contact Group. In actual practice, the U.S. ran the show all the way and routinely bypassed Petritsch and Mayorsky on essential matters.

Ibrahim Rugova , an ethnic Albanian activist who advocated nonviolence, was expected to play a major role in the Albanian secessionist delegation. Joining him at Rambouillet was Fehmi Agani , a fellow member of Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright regularly sidelined Rugova, however, preferring to rely on delegation members from the hardline Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which had routinely murdered Serbs, Roma, and Albanians in Kosovo who worked for the government or opposed separatism. Only a few months before the conference, KLA spokesman Bardhyl Mahmuti spelled out his organization's vision of a future Kosovo as separate and ethnically pure:

"The independence of Kosovo is the only solution We cannot live together. That is excluded." [i]

Rugova had at one time engaged in fairly productive talks with Yugoslav officials, and his willingness to negotiate was no doubt precisely the reason Albright relegated him to a background role. Yugoslav Minister of Information Milan Komnenić accompanied the Yugoslav delegation to Rambouillet. He recalls,

"With Rugova and Fehmi Agani it was possible to talk; they were flexible. In Rambouillet, [KLA leader Hashim] Thaçi appears instead of Rugova. A beast." [ii]

There was no love between Thaçi and Rugova, whose party members were the targets of threats and assassination attempts at the hands of the KLA. Rugova himself would survive an assassination attempt six years later.

The composition of the Yugoslav delegation reflected its position that many ethnic groups resided in Kosovo, and any agreement arrived at should take into account the interests of all parties. All of Kosovo's major ethnic groups were represented in the delegation. Faik Jashari , one of the Albanian members in the Yugoslav delegation, was president of the Kosovo Democratic Initiative and an official in the Provisional Executive Council, which was Yugoslavia's government in Kosovo. Jashari observed that Albright was startled when she saw the composition of the Yugoslav delegation, apparently because it went against the U.S. propaganda narrative. [iii] Throughout the talks, Albright displayed a dismissive attitude towards the delegation's Albanian, Roma, Egyptian, Goran, Turkish, and Slavic Muslim members.

U.S. mediators habitually referred to the Yugoslav delegation as "the Serbs," even though they constituted a minority of the members. The Americans persisted in trying to cast events in Kosovo as a simplistic binary relationship of Serb versus Albanian, disregarding the presence of other ethnic groups in the province, and ignoring the fact that while some ethnic Albanians favored separation, others wished to remain in multiethnic Yugoslavia.

After arriving at Rambouillet, the secessionist Albanian delegation informed U.S. diplomats that it did not want to meet with the Yugoslav side. Aside from a brief ceremonial meeting, there was no direct contact between the two groups. The Yugoslav and Albanian delegations were placed on two different floors to eliminate nearly all contact. U.S. mediators Richard Holbrooke and Christopher Hill ran from one delegation to the other, conveying notes and verbal messages between the two sides but mostly trying to coerce the Yugoslav delegation. [iv]

Luan Koka, a Roma member of the Yugoslav delegation, noted that the U.S. was operating an electronic jamming device.

"We knew exactly when Madeleine Albright was coming. Connections on our mobile phones were breaking up and going crazy." [v]

It is probable that the U.S. was also operating electronic listening equipment and that U.S. mediators knew everything the delegations were saying in private.

Albright, Jashari said, would not listen to anyone.

"She had her task, and she saw only that task. You couldn't say anything to her. She didn't want to talk with us and didn't want to listen to our arguments." [vi]

One day it was Koka's birthday, and the Yugoslav delegation wanted to encourage a more relaxed atmosphere with U.S. mediators, inviting them to a cocktail party to mark the occasion.

"It was a slightly more pleasant atmosphere, and I was singing," Koka recalled. "I remember Madeleine Albright saying: 'I really like partisan songs. But if you don't accept this, the bombs will fall.'" [vii]

According to delegation member Nikola Šainović ,

"Madeleine Albright told us all the time: 'If the Yugoslav delegation does not accept what we offer, you will be bombed.'" Šainović added, "We agreed in Rambouillet to any form of autonomy for Kosovo," but sovereignty remained the red line. [viii]

From the beginning of the conference, U.S. mediator Christopher Hill "decided that what we really needed was an Albanian approval of a document, and a Serb refusal. If both refused, there could be no further action by NATO or any other organization for that matter." [ix] It was not peace that the U.S. team was seeking, but war.

As the conference progressed, U.S. negotiators were faced with an alarming problem, in that the Yugoslav delegation had accepted all of the Contact Group's fundamental political principles for an agreement, balking only at a NATO presence in Kosovo. On the other hand, the secessionist delegation rejected the Contact Group's political principles. Something had to be done to reverse this pattern.

On the second day of the conference, U.S. officials presented the Yugoslav delegation with the framework text of a provisional agreement for peace and self-rule in Kosovo, but it was missing some of the annexes. The Yugoslavs requested a copy of the complete document. As delegation head Ratko Marković pointed out,

"Any objections to the text of the agreement could be made only after an insight into the text as a whole had been obtained."

Nearly one week passed before the group received one of the missing annexes. That came on the day the conference had originally been set to end. The deadline was extended, and two days later a second missing annex was provided to the Yugoslav delegation.[x]

When the Yugoslavs next met with the Contact Group, they were assured that all elements of the text had now been given to them. Several more days passed and at 7:00 PM on February 22, the penultimate day of the conference, the Contact Group presented three new annexes, which the Yugoslavs had never seen before. According to Marković, "Russian Ambassador Boris Mayorsky informed our delegation that Annexes 2 and 7 had not been discussed or approved by the Contact Group and that they were not the texts drafted by the Contact Group but by certain Contact Group members, while Annex 5 was discussed, but no decision was made on it at the Contact Group meeting." The Yugoslav delegation refused to accept the new annexes, as their introduction had violated the process whereby all proposals had to be agreed upon by the three Contact Group members. [xi]

At 9:30 AM on February 23, the final day of the conference, U.S. officials presented the full text of the proposal, containing yet more provisions that were being communicated for the first time. The accompanying note identified the package as the definitive text while adding that Russia did not support two of the articles. The letter demanded the Yugoslav delegation's decision by 1:00 PM that same day.[xii] There was barely time enough to carefully read the text, let alone negotiate. In essence, it was an ultimatum.

Quite intentionally, U.S. mediators included provisions in the final version of the text that no sovereign nation could be expected to accept. Neoliberal economic interests are always front and center when U.S. officials are involved, and they surely were not unaware of Kosovo's abundant reserves of mineral resources, ripe for exploitation. The first point in Article 1 of the Economic Issues section of the text states:

"The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles."

Western investors were favored with a provision stating that authorities shall "ensure the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital to Kosovo, including from international sources." [xiii] One may wonder what these stipulations had to do with peace negotiations, but then the talks had far more to do with U.S. interests than anything to do with the needs of the people in the region.

Twitter and the Smearing of Corbyn and Assange: A Research Note on the "Integrity Initiative"

The document called for a Western-led Joint Commission including local representatives to monitor and coordinate the implementation of the plan. However, if commission members failed to reach consensus on a matter, the Western-appointed Chair would have the power to impose his decision unilaterally. [xiv] Local representatives would serve as little more than window-dressing for Western dictate, as they could adopt no measure that went against the Chair's wishes.

The Chair of the Implementation Mission was authorized to "recommend" the "removal and appointment of officials and the curtailment of operations of existing institutions in Kosovo." If the Chair's command was not obeyed "in the time requested, the Joint Commission may decide to take the recommended action," and since the Chair had the authority to impose his will on the Joint Commission, there was no check on his power. He could remove elected and appointed officials at will and replace them with handpicked lackeys. The Chair was also authorized to order the "curtailment of operations of existing institutions." [xv]Any organization that failed to bend to U.S. demands could be shut down.

Chapter 7 of the plan called for the parties to "invite NATO to constitute and lead a military force" in Kosovo. [xvi]The choice of words was interesting. In language reminiscent of gangsters, Yugoslavia was told to "invite" NATO to take over the province of Kosovo or suffer the consequences.

Yugoslavia was required "to provide, at no cost, the use of all facilities and services required" by NATO. [xvii]Within six months, Yugoslavia would have to withdraw all of its military forces from Kosovo, other than a small number of border guards. [xviii]

The plan granted NATO "unrestricted use of the entire electromagnetic spectrum" to "communicate." Although the document indicated NATO would make "reasonable efforts to coordinate," there were no constraints on its power. [xix] Yugoslav officials, "upon simple request," would be required to grant NATO "all telecommunication services, including broadcast services free of cost." [xx]NATO could take over any radio and television facilities and transmission wavelengths it chose, knocking local stations off the air.

The plan did not restrict NATO's presence to Kosovo. It granted NATO, with its "vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia]." [xxi] NATO would be "granted the use of airports, roads, rails, and ports without payment of fees, duties, dues, tools, or charges." [xxii]

The agreement guaranteed that NATO would have "complete and unimpeded freedom of movement by ground, air, and water into and throughout Kosovo." Furthermore, NATO personnel could not be held "liable for any damages to public or private property." [xxiii] NATO as a whole would also be "immune from all legal process, whether civil, administrative, or criminal," regardless of its actions anywhere on the territory of Yugoslavia. [xxiv]Nor could NATO personnel be arrested, detained, or investigated. [xxv]

Acceptance of the plan would have brought NATO troops swarming throughout Yugoslavia and interfering in every institution.

There were several other objectionable elements in the plan, but one that stood out was the call for an "international" (meaning, Western-led) meeting to be held after three years "to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo."[xxvi] It was no mystery to the Yugoslav delegation what conclusion Western officials would arrive at in that meeting. The intent was clearly to redraw Yugoslavia's borders to further break apart the nation.

U.S. officials knew the Yugoslav delegation could not possibly accept such a plan.

"We deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept," Madeleine Albright confided to a group of journalists, "because they needed a little bombing." [xxvii]

At a meeting in Belgrade on March 5, the Yugoslav delegation issued a statement which declared:

"A great deceit was looming, orchestrated by the United States. They demanded that the agreement be signed, even though much of this agreement, that is, over 56 pages, had never been discussed, either within the Contact Group or during the negotiations." [xxviii]

Serbian President Milan Milutinović announced at a press conference that in Rambouillet the Yugoslav delegation had "proposed solutions meeting the demands of the Contact Group for broad autonomy within Serbia, advocating full equality of all national communities." But "agreement was not what they were after." Instead, Western officials engaged in "open aggression," and this was a game "about troops and troops alone." [xxix]

While U.S. officials were working assiduously to avoid a peaceful resolution, they needed the Albanians to agree to the plan so that they could accuse the Yugoslav delegation of being the stumbling block to peace. U.S. mainstream media could be counted on to unquestioningly repeat the government's line and overlook who the real architects of failure were. U.S. officials knew the media would act in their customary role as cheerleaders for war, which indeed, they did.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook revealed the nature of the message Western officials were conveying to the Albanian delegation when he said,

"We are certainly saying to the Kosovo Albanians that if you don't sign up to these texts, it's extremely difficult to see how NATO could then take action against Belgrade." [xxx]

Western officials were practically begging the secessionists to sign the plan. According to inside sources, the Americans assured the Albanian delegation that disarmament of the KLA would be merely symbolic and that it could keep the bulk of its weaponry so long as it was concealed. [xxxi]

Albright spent hours trying to convince Thaçi to change his mind, telling him:

"If you say yes and the Serbs say no, NATO will strike and go on striking until the Serb forces are out and NATO can go in. You will have security. And you will be able to govern yourselves." [xxxii]

That was a clear enough signal that the intent was to rip the province away from Yugoslavia and create an artificial state. Despite such assurances, Thaçi feared the wrath of fellow KLA members if he were to sign a document that did not explicitly call for separation. When U.S. negotiators asked Thaçi why he would not sign, he responded:

"If I agree to this, I will go home and they will kill me." [xxxiii]

This was not hyperbole. The KLA had threatened and murdered a great many Albanians who in its eyes fell short of full-throated support for its policy of violent secession and ethnic exclusion.

Even NATO Commander Wesley Clark , who flew in from Belgium, was unable to change Thaçi's mind. [xxxiv] U.S. officials were exasperated with the Albanian delegation, and its recalcitrance threatened to capsize plans for war.

"Rambouillet was supposed to be about putting the screws to Belgrade," a senior U.S. official said. "But it went off the rails because of the miscalculation we made about the Albanians." [xxxv]

On the last day at Rambouillet, it was agreed that the Albanian delegation would return to Kosovo for discussions with fellow KLA leaders on the need to sign the document. In the days that followed, Western officials paid repeated visits to Kosovo to encourage the Albanians to sign.

So-called "negotiations" reconvened in Paris on March 15. Upon its arrival, the Yugoslav delegation objected that it was "incomprehensible" that "no direct talks between the two delegations had been facilitated." In response to the Yugoslavs' proposal for modifications to the plan, the Contact Group informed them that no changes would be accepted. The document must be accepted as a whole. [xxxvi]

The Yugoslav position, delegation head Ratko Marković maintained, was that "first one needs to determine what is to be implemented, and only then to determine the methods of implementation." [xxxvii]The delegation asked the Americans what there was to talk about regarding implementation "when there was no agreement because the Albanians did not accept anything." U.S. officials responded that the Yugoslav delegation "cannot negotiate," adding that it would only be allowed to make grammatical changes to the text. [xxxviii]

From the U.S. perspective, the presence of the Yugoslav delegation in Paris was irrelevant other than to maintain the pretense that negotiations were taking place. Not permitted to negotiate, there was little the Yugoslavs could do but await the inevitable result, which soon came. The moment U.S. officials obtained the Albanian delegation's signatures to the plan on March 18, they aborted the Paris Conference. There was no reason to continue engaging with the Yugoslav delegation, as the U.S. had what it needed: a pretext for war.

On the day after the U.S. pulled the plug on the Paris talks, Milan Milutinović held a press conference in the Yugoslav embassy, condemning the Paris meeting as "a kind of show," which was meant "to deceive public opinion in the whole world." [xxxix]

While the United States and its NATO allies prepared for war, Yugoslavia was making last-ditch efforts to stave off attack, including reaching out to intermediaries. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos contacted Madeleine Albright and told her that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević had offered to engage in further negotiations. But Albright told him that the decision to bomb had already been made. "In fact," Pangalos reported, "she told me to 'desist, you're just being a nuisance.'" [xl] In a final act of desperation to save the people from bombing, Milutinović contacted Christopher Hill and made an extraordinary offer: Yugoslavia would join NATO if the United States would allow Yugoslavia to remain whole, including the province of Kosovo. Hill responded that this was not a topic for discussion and he would not talk about it. [xli]

Madeleine Albright got her war, which brought death, destruction, and misery to Yugoslavia. But NATO had a new role, and the United States further extended its hegemony over the Balkans.

In the years following the demise of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, NATO was intent on redefining its mission. The absence of the socialist bloc presented NATO not only with the need to construct a new rationale for existence but also with the opportunity to expand Western domination over other nations.

Bosnia offered the first opportunity for NATO to begin its transformation, as it took part in a war that presented no threat to member nations.

Bombing Yugoslavia was meant to solidify the new role for NATO as an offensive military force, acting on behalf of U.S. imperial interests. Since that time, NATO has attacked Libya, and engaged in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a variety of nations in Africa. Despite NATO's claim that it is "committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes," the record shows otherwise.

*

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Gregory Elich is a Korea Policy Institute associate and on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute. He is a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, a columnist for Voice of the People , and one of the co-authors of Killing Democracy: CIA and Pentagon Operations in the Post-Soviet Period , published in the Russian language. He is also a member of the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific. His website is https://gregoryelich.org . Follow him on Twitter at @GregoryElich

[Jun 22, 2019] The Myopia of Interventionists by Daniel Lariso

Feb 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Andrew Bacevich recalls Madeleine Albright's infamous statement about American indispensability, and notes how poorly it has held up over the last twenty-one years:

Back then, it was Albright's claim to American indispensability that stuck in my craw. Yet as a testimony to ruling class hubris, the assertion of indispensability pales in comparison to Albright's insistence that "we see further into the future."

In fact, from February 1998 down to the present, events have time and again caught Albright's "we" napping.

Albright's statement is even more damning for her and her fellow interventionists when we consider that the context of her remarks was a discussion of the supposed threat from Iraq. The full sentence went like this: "We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us." Albright was making a general claim about our supposed superiority to other nations when it came to looking into the future, but she was also specifically warning against a "danger" from Iraq that she claimed threatened "all of us." She answered one of Matt Lauer's questions with this assertion:

I think that we know what we have to do, and that is help enforce the UN Security Council resolutions, which demand that Saddam Hussein abide by those resolutions, and get rid of his weapons of mass destruction, and allow the inspectors to have unfettered and unconditional access.

Albright's rhetoric from 1998 is a grim reminder that policymakers from both parties accepted the existence of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" as a given and never seriously questioned a policy aimed at eliminating something that did not exist. American hawks couldn't see further in the future. They weren't even perceiving the present correctly, and tens of thousands of Americans and millions of Iraqis would suffer because they insisted that they saw something that wasn't there.

A little more than five years after she uttered these words, the same wild threat inflation that Albright was engaged in led to the invasion of Iraq, the greatest blunder and one of the worst crimes in the history of modern U.S. foreign policy . Not only did Albright and other later war supporters not see what was coming, but their deluded belief in being able to anticipate future threats caused them to buy into and promote a bogus case for a war that was completely unnecessary and should never have been fought.

[Jun 22, 2019] Tucker Carlson Tonight 6-21-19

Douglas Macgregor is right -- Trump have surrounded himself with neocons and now put himself against the wall. Wars destroy presidency -- George Bush II is not viewed favorable by the US people now, not is Obama with his Libya adventure.
With the amount of derivatives in the US financial system the rise of the price of oil above $100 can produce some interesting and unanticipated effects.
Notable quotes:
"... PRESIDENT TRUMP don't let them sucker you. ..."
"... The true American people, do never believe what this congress, house, and senate want they are cramming down your throats... ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.youtube.com
Carol Widerski , 2 days ago

Thanks Tucker, happy to hear you talking about this. PRESIDENT TRUMP don't let them sucker you.

Andrea Bandish , 1 day ago (edited)

The true American people, do never believe what this congress, house, and senate want they are cramming down your throats...

Again.. No More. Americans are tired of being lied to by our government, enough...

Look back of Cummings sit down on the floor "FLOOR RUG their sit in" of American people in congress a fool...

[Jun 21, 2019] America's Confrontation With Iran Goes Deeper Than Trump by Trita Parsi

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The real goal is domination of the Middle East -- and that's been a bipartisan US strategy for decades. ..."
"... By striking a compromise with a defiant non-democracy like Iran, which for the past 40 years has defined itself as the foremost opponent of American hegemony (liberal or otherwise), while signaling a desire to slowly dismantle American hegemony in the Middle East (in order to pivot to Asia), Obama introduced an unsustainable contradiction to US foreign policy. ..."
"... Excellent article, because it clearly exposes the central isssue - US hegemony. And that goes has implications way beyond Iran, particularly with respect to relations with China and Russia. Very similar geopolitical games are playing out in the South China Sea, around the Ukraine, and in Syria. ..."
"... This is not 1950 when the world economy was in collapse and the US was overwhelmingly the top dog. Other countries are nearly equal to the US. Hegemony is unsustainable in today's environment and one solution is a cooperative balance of power employing diplomacy, and unprecedented cooperation on questions of energy and security in order to solve global problems like climate change and the elimination of nuclear weapons. ..."
"... The new world order - as this 'confrontation' suggests, the USA, supported by the Saudis, their compatriots, and Israel. All renowned 'friends' of the USA. With friends like these who needs enemies. ..."
"... The "confrontation" goes way back to 1953, when the CIA overthrew Mohammed Mossadegh (for his "sin" of nationalizing Iranian oil) and labelled him a Communist. Everything that is adversarial in US-Iranian relations goes back to that criminal act. ..."
Jun 21, 2019 | www.thenation.com

The real goal is domination of the Middle East -- and that's been a bipartisan US strategy for decades.

... ... ...

...if war is the endgame of their escalation, what is the endgame of their war? Dominance -- perpetual dominance of the Middle East (and the globe as a whole) by the United States. That is and has been Washington's grand strategy, regardless of whether a Republican, a Democrat, or a reality-TV star has occupied the White House. America has, of course, often ensured this domination by supporting friendly dictatorships.

But there is also a liberal version of the strategy. Liberal hegemony, or primacy, dictates that the United States has the moral obligation and the strategic imperative to transform anti–status quo non-democracies into liberal (pliant) democracies. According to this grand strategy, the existence of such non-democracies is a threat to the United States and its hegemony.

America cannot coexist with them but must ultimately transform them. Military force is instrumental to this endeavor. As Max Boot wrote back in 2003, the pillars of liberal hegemony must be spread and sustained " at gunpoint if need be ."

While some advocates of liberal hegemony object to the more militaristic interpretation preferred by neoconservatives, the difference between liberal interventionism and neoconservatism is more a matter of nuance than core belief.

Neither can provide a solution to Washington's endless wars, because both operate within the paradigm of primacy, which itself is a root cause of the country's perpetual conflicts. As long as that paradigm remains the guiding principle of foreign policy, hawks like John Bolton, Tom Cotton, and Lindsey Graham -- and their Democratic fellow travelers, too -- will continue to steer America's engagement with the world, as it is their outlook that is compatible with primacy, not that of those on the progressive left or the libertarian right, who have advocated non-interventionism or negotiated settlements with those who challenge Pax Americana.

This is why the cards were stacked against the survival of the Iran nuclear deal even if Trump had not been elected. By striking a compromise with a defiant non-democracy like Iran, which for the past 40 years has defined itself as the foremost opponent of American hegemony (liberal or otherwise), while signaling a desire to slowly dismantle American hegemony in the Middle East (in order to pivot to Asia), Obama introduced an unsustainable contradiction to US foreign policy.

This contradiction has been particularly visible among Democrats who oppose Trump's Iran policy but who still cannot bring themselves to break with our seemingly endless confrontation with Iran. As long as such Democrats allow the debate to be defined by the diktat of US primacy, they will always be on the defensive, and their long-term impact on US-Iran relations will be marginal.

After all, the strategy of US primacy in the Middle East demands Iran's defeat...

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https://cdn.districtm.io/ids/index.html


Peter Unterweger says: June 21, 2019 at 9:15 pm

Excellent article, because it clearly exposes the central isssue - US hegemony. And that goes has implications way beyond Iran, particularly with respect to relations with China and Russia. Very similar geopolitical games are playing out in the South China Sea, around the Ukraine, and in Syria.

Liberals have to stop talking about "bad actors" (whenever they are linked with competing powers, e.g. Iran, N.Korea, etc.) but welcome them as "allies" when they are our faithful vassals (e.g. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.). Unfortunately, Obama appeared to understand this with respect to Iran, but totally ignored it with respect to the rest of the world.

Victor Sciamarelli says: June 21, 2019 at 1:57 pm

I completely agree with Trita Parsi's succinct description of the problem as, "Dominance -- perpetual dominance of the Middle East (and the globe as a whole) by the United States. That is and has been Washington's grand strategy, regardless of whether a Republican, a Democrat, or a reality-TV star has occupied the White House." However, why not offer alternative policies for debate?

Consider, for example, the idea of a "balance of power." It was for the same reason that the British fought Napoleon, the Crimean War, entered the first world war, and also why they were constantly engaged in diplomatic agreements in Europe. British policy demanded that they prevent the rise of a hegemon on the continent.

Napoleon was never a threat to the English mainland and neither were the Germans in 1914. Yet, they fought both because preventing a hegemon and maintaining a balance of power pre-empted other considerations.

I would suggest that regardless of events since 1918 such as: the decline of the British empire, Versailles, the world wide economic depression, the rise of fascism, the reaction to communism, or the rise of a non-European super power like the US, thinking about a modern, up to date form of the balance of power is useful.

Furthermore, we need an alternative policy because hegemony fails the world and the American people, and the world faces two existential threats: climate change and nuclear war.

Moreover, the US has been a superpower for so long that nobody remembers what it is like not to be a superpower. In addition, American elites seem unwilling or unable to grasp the real limits of military power.

In a world where the five permanent members of the UN security council are nuclear powers, and nuclear weapons are held by smaller nations, the major power centers of the world: Europe, Russia, China, and the US, have no choice but to cooperate with each other and with the countries of the ME.

The ME is a focal point for establishing cooperation because the world needs energy and the ME needs stability and development, but it requires leadership and motive.

This is not 1950 when the world economy was in collapse and the US was overwhelmingly the top dog. Other countries are nearly equal to the US. Hegemony is unsustainable in today's environment and one solution is a cooperative balance of power employing diplomacy, and unprecedented cooperation on questions of energy and security in order to solve global problems like climate change and the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Pauline Hartwig says: June 21, 2019 at 1:38 pm

The new world order - as this 'confrontation' suggests, the USA, supported by the Saudis, their compatriots, and Israel. All renowned 'friends' of the USA. With friends like these who needs enemies.

Gene Bell-Villada says: June 21, 2019 at 12:40 pm

The "confrontation" goes way back to 1953, when the CIA overthrew Mohammed Mossadegh (for his "sin" of nationalizing Iranian oil) and labelled him a Communist. Everything that is adversarial in US-Iranian relations goes back to that criminal act.

[Jun 21, 2019] Russia accuses U.S. of pushing Iran situation to brink of war RIA - Reuters

Highly recommended!
Did Putin called Trump about the attack ?
Full scale war might also complicate Trump chances for re-election.
Jun 21, 2019 | www.reuters.com

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called on Washington to weigh the possible consequences of conflict with Iran and said a report in the New York Times showed the situation was extremely dangerous.

U.S. President Donald Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, but called off the attacks at the last minute, the report said.

[Jun 20, 2019] The uprising in Hong Kong is regime change-motivated

Notable quotes:
"... I was one of the first to comment that the uprising in Hong Kong is regime change-motivated. The road to Beijing leads through Hong Kong. Venezuela, Iran, China are all simmering on the Neocon stove top. And then Russia will fall like a house of cards. ..."
"... Yes, paying off more than a couple thousands would be absurd, but that's not how the US State Department manufactures these "regime change" protests. Only a few thousand end up on the payroll and that is plenty to create the illusion of "grassroots" . The real magic happens in the corporate mass media studios and newsrooms where the few thousand is amplified into a hundreds of thousands and the protest is transformed through the wizardry of marketing into the gala event of the decade. ..."
"... Assuming the Hong Kong authorities can prevent the CIA death squad snipers from doing their part of shooting up cops and protesters to turn the event into a riot, the protests will eventually die out like they did last time. The protests alone, without the CIA inspired riots, are insufficient for "regime change" ..."
Jun 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Circe , Jun 20, 2019 6:28:14 PM | 161

I was one of the first to comment that the uprising in Hong Kong is regime change-motivated. The road to Beijing leads through Hong Kong. Venezuela, Iran, China are all simmering on the Neocon stove top. And then Russia will fall like a house of cards.

Let's not leave out the stealthy regime change through trumped up charges against Lula in Brazil.

So, no BRI, no SCO, no OBOR, no EAEU, absolutely no competition to Zionist Empire. That's the plan and Trump is front and center on it. Absolute domination c/o Trump.

There are stealth Zionists on this board, e.g. trashy referencing Mullahs and excusing Trump's cancellation of Iran deal as complicated . Sounds Zionist to me. If it takes the Ayatollah to pound Zionist/U.S. aggression into the ground, gimme 10 of them!!!

@139 Zach

I'll answer that: ZERO TOLERANCE.

It is an indignity on Bashar's part to have to allow Trump to save face with hundreds of U.S. cruise missiles raining on sovereign Syrian soil.

Once you allow for one strike, you're losing and Israel will get in on the action too whenever it feels like it. The rule must be to shoot down all intruders, manned and unmanned the second they breach sovereign space and not give an inch. Period!

NemesisCalling , Jun 20, 2019 7:22:10 PM | 177

@161 circe

Regime change in China? Lol. Through Hong Kong? Omg, Circe. Talk about a bridge too far. Calm yourself and get real! If Venezuela ain't falling to the !Zionists! I sincerely doubt that Hong Kong is going to be the vanguard which will topple Beijing.

Hilarious stuff, though.

William Gruff , Jun 20, 2019 7:37:22 PM | 182
NemesisCalling @175

Yes, paying off more than a couple thousands would be absurd, but that's not how the US State Department manufactures these "regime change" protests. Only a few thousand end up on the payroll and that is plenty to create the illusion of "grassroots" . The real magic happens in the corporate mass media studios and newsrooms where the few thousand is amplified into a hundreds of thousands and the protest is transformed through the wizardry of marketing into the gala event of the decade.

Assuming the Hong Kong authorities can prevent the CIA death squad snipers from doing their part of shooting up cops and protesters to turn the event into a riot, the protests will eventually die out like they did last time. The protests alone, without the CIA inspired riots, are insufficient for "regime change" .

[Jun 20, 2019] Using Democratic Institutions to Smash Democratic Aspirations (the Brazil Model) by Vijay Prashad

Notable quotes:
"... The second narrative -- further substantiated by recent reporting from The Intercept of collusion between the main judges in the case against Lula -- shows evidence of political persecution and a coordinated attempt to stop Lula from winning the presidential election and put a halt to the country's progressive social agenda. In this narrative, the corruption charges against Lula were manufactured in order to recover the right-wing's control of the government, despite a lack of evidence against him. ..."
"... Judge Sérgio Moro convicted Lula. He became a celebrity and is now the minister of justice in the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. It is clear that Bolsonaro won the election because Lula was not permitted to run. Moro's conviction delivered the presidency to Bolsonaro, who then rewarded Moro with the ministry appointment. ..."
"... Messages seemed to constantly be exchanged between the Moro and the Lava Jato team led by Dallagnol. These have now been revealed by The Intercept and scrutinized by a range of forensic and political analysts. It is clear that the judge and the prosecutor colluded to find Lula guilty and lock him away. ..."
"... The persecution of Lula is a story that is not merely about Lula, nor solely about Brazil. This is a test case for the way oligarchies and imperialism have sought to use the shell of democracy to undermine the democratic aspirations of the people. It is the methodology of democracy without democracy, a Potemkin Village of liberalism. ..."
Jun 20, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Clarity emerges around the political persecution of Lula, Brazil's former president. But what is still blurry for many is the actual case against him, writes Vijay Prashad.

Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

Brazil's former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has now been in prison since April 2018. More than 400 Brazilian lawyers have signed a statement that expresses alarm at what they see as procedural irregularities in the case against him. They call for the immediate release of Lula. The Asociación Americana de Juristas – a non-governmental organization with consultative status at the United Nations – has called Lula a political prisoner. Lula was convicted of corruption and money-laundering, despite a lack of solid evidence. Two lawsuits against him remain unfinished.

Now, more evidence emerges about the collusion of the lead judge and the lead investigator in the prosecution of Lula thanks to excellent reporting from The Intercept . The political motivations are now on the record: they, on behalf of the oligarchy, did not want Lula – who remains hugely popular – to be the 2018 presidential candidate of the Workers' Party (PT). Brazil's right-wing has begun a horrible campaign to malign the journalists of The Intercept , notably its editor Glenn Greenwald. Using the same tactics of hate, misogyny, and homophobia to defame their journalists, they hope, will distract from and delegitimise the damning evidence of their corrupt tactics.

Clarity now emerges around the political persecution of Lula. But what is still blurry for many is the actual case against him. The details of his case remain murky, with many who sympathise with Lula unsure of how to understand the corruption charges and his apparent conviction. This newsletter is dedicated to providing a primer on Lula and the case against him.

Who is Lula?

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (73 years old), a metalworker and trade union leader, helped found the PT, Brazil's main left party. He won two consecutive elections to govern Brazil from 2003 to 2010. At the close of his second term, Lula had an approval rating of 86 percent – the highest in the country's history. His poverty reduction programs – particularly his hunger alleviation schemes – earned his government praise from around the world, which is why some are calling for him to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Income redistribution through social programs such as Bolsa Família, Brasil sem Miseria, the expansion of credit, the increase in decent work, and the increase in the minimum wage lifted almost 30 million (out of 209 million) Brazilians out of poverty. The number of public university campuses more than doubled, leading to a 285 percent increase in Afro-Brazilians attending institutes of higher education. Brazil paid off its debts to the IMF and the government discovered a massive new oil reserve in the Santos Basin, off the coast of São Paulo. This oil will eventually change Brazil's strategic position in the world.

Why was Lula arrested?

There are two narratives that exist to answer this question. The first -- the official narrative, propagated by the bourgeoise -- is that Lula is in prison on charges of corruption and money laundering. His cases remain pending before the courts. Curitiba's Public Prosecutor's Office – led by Deltan Dallagnol – was in charge of an investigation around corruption allegations at Brazil's state energy firm, Petrobras. Because a car wash became part of the money laundering investigation, the Task Force was known as Lava Jato (Car Wash). The Task Force uncovered activity by contractors such as OAS and Odebrecht, who had – it turns out – remodelled an apartment on the coast and a farm in the interior that were supposedly owned by Lula. These firms, it was said by the Task Force, had gained concessions from Petrobras. The Task Force argued that Lula benefited from the contractors, who in turn benefitted from state largess. This was the allegation.

The second narrative -- further substantiated by recent reporting from The Intercept of collusion between the main judges in the case against Lula -- shows evidence of political persecution and a coordinated attempt to stop Lula from winning the presidential election and put a halt to the country's progressive social agenda. In this narrative, the corruption charges against Lula were manufactured in order to recover the right-wing's control of the government, despite a lack of evidence against him.

Lola Alvarez Bravo, "Unos Suben y Otros Bajan," 1940.

Is there evidence against Lula?

Actually, no. The prosecutors could not prove that Lula had ever owned the apartment or the farm. Nor could they prove any benefit to the contractors. Lula was convicted – bizarrely – of unspecified acts . Former OAS director Léo Pinheiro, who had been convicted of money laundering and corruption in 2014 and was to serve 16 years, gave evidence against Lula; for this evidence, his sentence was reduced. There was no material evidence against Lula.

Who convicted Lula?

Judge Sérgio Moro convicted Lula. He became a celebrity and is now the minister of justice in the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. It is clear that Bolsonaro won the election because Lula was not permitted to run. Moro's conviction delivered the presidency to Bolsonaro, who then rewarded Moro with the ministry appointment.

Moro not only tried Lula in his court, but also in the court of public opinion. The corporate media was on the side of the prosecution, and leaks from the court created an image of Lula as the enemy of the people. Bizarrely, the press often seemed to have information from the court before Lula's defence attorneys. When Lula's lawyers filed a habeas corpus petition to get him out of jail, the army's commander-in-chief sent the Supreme Court a message on Twitter to instructing them not to grant the petition. The petition was denied.

Should Lula have been allowed to run for president?

The Brazilian Code of Criminal Procedure says that one can only go to prison when their appeals run out. Article 5 of the Constitution notes,"No one shall be considered guilty before the issuance of a final and unappealable prison sentence." Why Lula went to jail in the first place requires an investigation. Judge Moro argued that it was because he was found guilty in the Appeal Court based on a plea bargain. This is murky. The UN's Human Rights Committee said that Lula should have been allowed to run for president last year because his appeals had not been exhausted. Not only did the judiciary and the prosecutors not allow Lula to run, but they also did not allow him to meet the press and so influence the election.

What has been the role of the United States in the Lava Jato investigation?

Odd how the US Department of Justice officials visited Judge Moro during the investigation, and how US Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said in 2017 that the U.S. justice officials had "informal communications" about the removal of Lula from the presidential race. On 6 March 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice said that it would transfer 80 percent of the fines it received from Petrobras to the Public Prosecutor's Office to set up an "anti-corruption investment fund." It is fair to say that this is a payment to the Lava Jato team for its work on removing Lula from the presidential race.

What was the real corruption in this case?

Messages seemed to constantly be exchanged between the Moro and the Lava Jato team led by Dallagnol. These have now been revealed by The Intercept and scrutinized by a range of forensic and political analysts. It is clear that the judge and the prosecutor colluded to find Lula guilty and lock him away. The first instance of corruption is this brazen collusion between two parts of the government. The second instance of corruption is the role of the United States in this case, and the pay-out to Dallagnol's department for services rendered.

The persecution of Lula is a story that is not merely about Lula, nor solely about Brazil. This is a test case for the way oligarchies and imperialism have sought to use the shell of democracy to undermine the democratic aspirations of the people. It is the methodology of democracy without democracy, a Potemkin Village of liberalism.

At Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, we are studying this phenomenon closely. You have already seen our dossier on the hybrid war against Venezuela and our dossier on lawfare in Brazil. The arrest of human rights defenders from Julian Assange to Ola Bini as well as the arrest of whistle-blowers from Chelsea Manning to David McBridge are part of this chilling effect against the sentinels of democracy.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/aoS_OWxpqa8?feature=oembed

We are taking seriously this evisceration of democracy. We are going to look at the role of money in elections (test case: India) and voter suppression, as well as the reduction of 'politics' to the festival of elections, the allowance of states to crush the basic institutions of civil society, and the role of immiseration in the defeat of the democratic spirit. We need a new theory of actually-existing democracy.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, journalist, commentator and a Marxist intellectual. He is the executive director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and the chief editor of LeftWord Books.

This article is from Tricontinental .

[Jun 20, 2019] Frustrated Donald Trump 'Chewed Out' Staff for Failed Venezuela Coup, Thought His Officials 'Got Played' Report

Jun 20, 2019 | www.newsweek.com

However, when virtually no one in the upper circles of power in Caracas ended up backing Guaidó, Trump thought that his national security adviser John Bolton and his director for Latin American policy, Mauricio Claver-Carone, "got played" by the opposition and key Maduro officials, The Post reported.

Two senior White House officials told The Post that the president "chewed out the staff" after the failure on April 30 to shift Maduro from power and that now Trump's administration has no fixed strategy to remove him.

Trump had "always thought of" Venezuela "as low-hanging fruit" on which he "could get a win and tout it as a major foreign policy victory," the former official said. "Five or six months later . . . it's not coming together," the unnamed official added.

However, this was rejected by National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis who described the official's claims as, "patently false."

[Jun 20, 2019] Brazil under Bolsonaro A Different Form of Hybrid War - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Centre for Research on Globalizatio

Notable quotes:
"... In layman's terms, American intelligence agencies meddled in Brazil's democracy by selectively leaking purported evidence of serious corruption by the then-ruling party, which predictably set into motion a self-sustaining inquisitional cycle that led to Rousseff's impeachment, Lula's imprisonment, and ultimately Bolsonaro's "dark horse" victory after he was presented to the people as the only non-corrupt candidate capable of restoring order out of the chaos that the socialists were blamed for causing. ..."
"... This externally triggered regime change was intended to create the domestic political conditions that were thought to make a Leftist revival impossible in the future and thereby indefinitely perpetuate the restoration of US influence in Brazil, with the Right's victory legitimized at the ballot after the majority of the population was successfully led by these foreign-manufactured events to conclude that Bolsonaro was the only person capable of changing the system. Upon entering office, he did exactly as he promised and began to push forward his controversial neoliberal reforms that provoked the latest strike. ..."
"... Bolsonaro and his US buddies obviously underestimated the Left's resilience and therefore weren't prepared for the massive pushback that this move provoked, but the public's anger last weekend was also fueled by The Intercept's leaked revelations that "Operation Car Wash's" top judge and the country's current Justice Minister colluded with prosecutors to convict Lula and therefore prevent him from running for President (which in turn greatly facilitated Bolsonaro's rise to power). ..."
"... It's important to point out that the conversation was leaked and not hacked, strongly suggesting dissident within the deepest ranks of the regime change movement for reasons that can only be speculated upon at this time but which nevertheless motivated the whistleblower to share the evidence in their possession with society in order to catalyze grassroots pressure against the government. ..."
"... It's therefore not an exaggeration to say that Brazil's long-running Hybrid War crisis never really went away, it just took a few months for it to change form and turn against its original initiators after they failed to close the Pandora's Box of regime change protest potential that they opened at the US' behest. Bolsonaro's rise to power was shady from the get-go and only made possibly by Lula's conviction and the consequent banning of the country's most popular political candidate from the presidential race ..."
"... Although some of the protesters are employing classic Color Revolution tactics during their anti-government demonstrations, this political technology isn't black and white because it could conceivably be used by anyone in pursuit of any end. ..."
Jun 20, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

Brazil's long-running Hybrid War crisis never really went away, it just took a few months for it to change form and turn against its original initiators after they failed to close the Pandora's Box of regime change protest potential that they opened at the US' behest.

The Bolsonaro government is coming under intense grassroots pressure as two crises continue to converge within the country and threaten to spiral out of the authorities' control. An estimated 45 million people just participated in a massive strike over the weekend against the proposed neoliberal pension reforms that would increase both the age of retirement and contributions for ordinary workers, which tens of millions of people feel is unfair but which the state says is needed in order to fix the failing system that it inherited as a result of its predecessors' corrupt mismanagement. Brazil has a history of seemingly irreconcilable political polarization between the Left and Right like all Latin American countries do, but this fault line was exacerbated to the fullest extent throughout the course of the long-running Hybrid War on Brazil , which was waged via the NSA-facilitated "Operation Car Wash" that served as a pretext for carrying out a preplanned pro-American regime change that represented the crowning achievement of Obama's " Operation Condor 2.0 " and made Trump's " Fortress America " hemispheric vision possible.

In layman's terms, American intelligence agencies meddled in Brazil's democracy by selectively leaking purported evidence of serious corruption by the then-ruling party, which predictably set into motion a self-sustaining inquisitional cycle that led to Rousseff's impeachment, Lula's imprisonment, and ultimately Bolsonaro's "dark horse" victory after he was presented to the people as the only non-corrupt candidate capable of restoring order out of the chaos that the socialists were blamed for causing.

This externally triggered regime change was intended to create the domestic political conditions that were thought to make a Leftist revival impossible in the future and thereby indefinitely perpetuate the restoration of US influence in Brazil, with the Right's victory legitimized at the ballot after the majority of the population was successfully led by these foreign-manufactured events to conclude that Bolsonaro was the only person capable of changing the system. Upon entering office, he did exactly as he promised and began to push forward his controversial neoliberal reforms that provoked the latest strike.

Venezuela: Preplanned Provocation by Washington,"The Indirect Adaptive Approach" to Regime Change

Bolsonaro and his US buddies obviously underestimated the Left's resilience and therefore weren't prepared for the massive pushback that this move provoked, but the public's anger last weekend was also fueled by The Intercept's leaked revelations that "Operation Car Wash's" top judge and the country's current Justice Minister colluded with prosecutors to convict Lula and therefore prevent him from running for President (which in turn greatly facilitated Bolsonaro's rise to power).

Many Brazilians had long suspected as much, but this was the first time that messages from a private Telegram group consisting of the regime change collaborators were made public to corroborate this theory. It's important to point out that the conversation was leaked and not hacked, strongly suggesting dissident within the deepest ranks of the regime change movement for reasons that can only be speculated upon at this time but which nevertheless motivated the whistleblower to share the evidence in their possession with society in order to catalyze grassroots pressure against the government.

It's therefore not an exaggeration to say that Brazil's long-running Hybrid War crisis never really went away, it just took a few months for it to change form and turn against its original initiators after they failed to close the Pandora's Box of regime change protest potential that they opened at the US' behest. Bolsonaro's rise to power was shady from the get-go and only made possibly by Lula's conviction and the consequent banning of the country's most popular political candidate from the presidential race, which has now been proven without any reasonable doubt to have been part of an actual conspiracy by some members of the permanent bureaucracy ("deep state") against him.

This throws into question the electoral legitimacy of Brazil's latest leader and therefore sets up the scenario of having every one of his political moves invalidated if he's ever removed from office on this pretext, including the controversial pension reform that he's trying to push through. Naturally, the labor crisis is merging with the political one and creating a critical mass of regime change unrest.

Although some of the protesters are employing classic Color Revolution tactics during their anti-government demonstrations, this political technology isn't black and white because it could conceivably be used by anyone in pursuit of any end. In this case, the nascent movement has the same regime change objective as its pro-American antecedent and is similarly relying on overwhelming popular support to legitimize its goals, albeit the defining difference in this Hybrid War is that it isn't tied to any foreign power (both in terms of its inception and development unlike "Operation Car Wash") except if one cynically traces its origin to the US' NSA meddling many years ago. In fact, what's happening in Brazil right now is nothing less than blowback against Bolsonaro after his conspiratorial US-backed rise to power and the consequent pension controversy that he's since caused. The protest organizers want to return the country to the pre-crisis status quo of being led by Lula and the Left, though they might also embrace some mild reforms to appeal to the moderate Right that arose in recent years if they ever end up succeeding in reversing the effects of the US' Hybrid War on Brazil.

*

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Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China's One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

[Jun 20, 2019] The Trump-Bolton Duo Is Just Like the Bush-Cheney Duo Warmongers Using Lies to Start Illegal Wars by Prof Rodrigue Tremblay

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... [Definition: A 'false flag operation' is a horrific, staged event -- blamed on a political enemy -- and used as pretext to start a war or to enact draconian laws in the name of national security]. ..."
"... " Definition of reverse projection: attributing to others what you are doing yourself as the reason for attacking them ." John McMurtry (1939- ), Canadian philosopher, (in 'The Moral Decoding of 9-11: Beyond the U.S. Criminal State', Journal of 9/11 Studies, Feb.2013). ..."
Jun 18, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca
[False flag operations:] "The powers-that-be understand that to create the appropriate atmosphere for war, it's necessary to create within the general populace a hatred, fear or mistrust of others regardless of whether those others belong to a certain group of people or to a religion or a nation." James Morcan (1978- ), New Zealander-born Australian writer.

[Definition: A 'false flag operation' is a horrific, staged event -- blamed on a political enemy -- and used as pretext to start a war or to enact draconian laws in the name of national security].

" Almost all wars begin with false flag operations ." Larry Chin (d. of b. unknown), North American author, (in 'False Flagging the World towards War. The CIA Weaponizes Hollywood', Dec. 27, 2014).

" Definition of reverse projection: attributing to others what you are doing yourself as the reason for attacking them ." John McMurtry (1939- ), Canadian philosopher, (in 'The Moral Decoding of 9-11: Beyond the U.S. Criminal State', Journal of 9/11 Studies, Feb.2013).

" That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true; but when those who are concerned in the government of a country, make it their study to sow discord, and cultivate prejudices between nations, it becomes the more unpardonable ." Thomas Paine (1737-1809), American Founding father, pamphleteer, (in 'The Rights of Man', c. 1792).

" I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, and we stole . It was like -- we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." Mike Pompeo (1963- ), former CIA director and now Secretary of State in the Trump administration, (in April 2019, while speaking at Texas A&M University.)

***

History repeats itself. Indeed, those who live by war are at it again. Their crime: starting illegal wars by committing false flag attacks and blaming other countries for their own criminal acts. On this, the Donald Trump-John Bolton duo is just like the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney duo. It is amazing that in an era of 24-hour news, this could still going on.

We recall that in 2002-2003, the latter duo, with the help of U.K.'s Tony Blair, lied their way into a war of aggression against Iraq, by pretending that Saddam Hussein had a massive stockpile of " weapons of mass destruction "and that he was ready to attack the United States proper. On October 6, 2002, George W. Bush scared Americans with his big Mushroom Cloud analogy. -- It was all bogus. -- It was a pure fabrication that the gullible (!) U.S. Congress, the corporate media, and most of the American public, swallowed hook, line and sinker.

John Pilger: On the Dangers of Nuclear War

Now, in 2019, a short sixteen years later, the same stratagem seems to being used to start another illegal war of aggression, this time against the country of Iran. The masters of deception are at it again. Their secret agents and those of their Israeli and Saudi allies, in the Middle East, seem to have just launched an unprovoked attack, in international waters, against a Japanese tanker, and they have rushed to the cameras to accuse Iran. They claim that the latter country used mines to attack the tanker.

This time, they were unlucky. -- The owner of the Japanese tanker , the Kokuka Courageous, immediately rebuked that "official" version. Yutaka Katada , president of the Kokuka Sangyo shipping company, declared that the attack came from a bombing from above the water. Indeed, Mr. Katada told reporters:

Source: The Washington Post

" The crew are saying it was hit with a flying object. They say something came flying toward them, then there was an explosion, then there was a hole in the vessel ."

His company issued a statement saying that " the hull (of the ship) has been breached above the waterline on the starboard side ", and it was not hit by a mine below the waterline, as the Trump administration has insinuated. -- [N. B.: There was also a less serious attack on a Norwegian ship, the Front Altair.]

Thus, this time the false flag makers have not succeeded. But, you can be sure that they will be back at it, sooner or later, just as they, and their well financed al-Qaeda allies, launched a few false flag "chemical" attacks in Syria, and blamed them on the Syrian Assad government.

Donald Trump has too much to gain personally from a nice little war to distract the media and the public from the Mueller report and from all his mounting political problems. In his case, he surely would benefit from a "wag-the-dog" scenario that John Bolton and his friends in the Middle East could easily invent. As a matter of fact, two weeks ago, warmonger John Bolton was coincidently in the Middle East, in the United Arab Emirates, just before the attacks!

Besides the Japanese ship owner's denial, it is important to point out that at the moment of the attack on the Japanese tanker, the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Shinzo Abe , was in Iran, having talks with the Iranian government about economic cooperation between the two countries about oil shipments. Since Iran is the victim of unilateral U. S. economic sanctions, to derail such an economic cooperation between Japan and Iran could have been the triggered motivation to launch a false flag operation. It did not work. But you can be sure that the responsible party will not be prosecuted.

Conclusion

We live in an era when people with low morals, sponsored by people with tons of money, can gain power and do a lot of damage. How our democracies can survive in such a context remains an open question.

International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book "The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles" , of the book "The New American Empire" , and the recent book, in French " La régression tranquille du Québec, 1980-2018 ". He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © Prof Rodrigue Tremblay , Global Research, 2019

[Jun 19, 2019] Mueller and Russiagate story: The Eternal Witch-hunt

Apr 12, 2019 | counterpunch.org

Mueller looks more and more like a man looking in a black room for a black cat that isn't there, and finding it.

[Jun 19, 2019] Trump has drained the swamp right into his administration

Notable quotes:
"... I suppose we deserve this but it doesn't do well for my blood pressure. ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

ken , Jun 19, 2019 3:57:37 PM | 23

..Trump HAS drained the swamp,,, right into his administration.

Look at what we in the US have to look forward to,,, tyrants on the left,,, tyrants on the right. I suppose we deserve this but it doesn't do well for my blood pressure.

[Jun 19, 2019] Investigation Nation Mueller, Russiagate, and Fake Politics by Jim Kavanagh

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... You might think the Democratic Party would be horrified at this result, which one conservative analyst calls: "one of the greatest self-defeating acts in history." You might think Democrats would now move quickly and decisively toward a strategy of offering a substantive political alternative, and abandon this awful own-goal Mueller/Russiagate tack that has already helped Trump immensely (and which they are not going to turn their way). That is obviously what would happen if the Democrats' main goal was to defeat Trump. But it isn't. ..."
"... As discussed above, the Democratic establishment's' main goal throughout this was not to "get" Trump, but to channel its own voters' disgust with him into support for some halcyon, liberal, status quo ante-Trump, and away from left demands for a radical change to the social, economic, and political conditions that produced him and his clueless establishment opponent in 2016. The Democrats' goal was, and is, not to defeat Trump, but to stave off the left. ..."
"... The Democrats' main goal in all this is not to impeach, or stop the re-election of, Donald Trump; it's to prevent the nomination and election of Bernie Sanders, or anyone like him. ..."
"... You mean the five million people who voted for Obama in 2012, in the 90% of counties that voted for Obama either in 2008 or 2012, but would not vote for Hillary in 2019, aren’t streaming back into—are indeed still streaming out of—the Democratic Party, despite all the Mueller investigation has done for them? Imagine that. ..."
"... What has Russiagate/The Mueller Investigation wrought? It’s either a shrewd political gambit sure to take down Trump, or it’s ridiculous political theater leading Democrats, and the country, over another cliff. Double-down or leave that table? ..."
Apr 12, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
So the Mueller investigation is over. The official "Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election" has been written, and is in the hands of Attorney General William Barr, who has issued a summary of its findings. On the core mandate of the investigation, given to Special Counsel Mueller by Rod Rosenstein as Acting Attorney General in May of 2017 -- to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump" -- the takeaway conclusion stated in the Mueller report, as quoted in the Barr summary, is that "[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.1"

In the footnote indicated at the end of that sentence, Barr further clarifies the comprehensive meaning of that conclusion, again quoting the Report's own words: "In assessing potential conspiracy charges, the Special Counsel also considered whether members of the Trump campaign 'coordinated' with Russian election interference activities. The Special Counsel defined 'coordination' as an 'agreement -- tacit or express -- between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference'."

Barr restates the point of the cited conclusion from the Mueller Report a number of times: "The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election the Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA [Internet Research Agency, the indicted Russian clickbait operation] in its efforts."

Thus, the Mueller investigation found no "conspiracy," no "coordination," -- i.e., no "collusion" -- "tacit or express" between the Trump campaign or any U.S. person and the Russian government. The Mueller investigation did not make, seal, or recommend any indictment for any U.S. person for any such crime.

This is as clear and forceful a repudiation as one can get of the "collusion" narrative that has been insistently shoved down our throats by the Democratic Party, its McResistance, its allied media, and its allied intelligence and national security agencies and officials. Whatever one wants to say about any other aspect of this investigation -- campaign finance violations, obstruction of justice, etc. -- they were not the main saga for the past two+ years as spun by the Russiagaters. The core narrative was that Donald Trump was some kind of Russian agent or asset, arguably guilty of treason and taking orders from his handler/blackmailer Vladimir Putin, who conspired with him to steal the 2016 election, and, furthermore, that Saint Mueller and his investigation team of patriotic FBI/CIA agents were going to find the goods that would have the Donald taken out of the White House in handcuffs for that.

Keith Olbermann's spectacular rant in January 2017 defined the core narrative and exemplified the Trump Derangement Syndrome that powered it: an emotional, visceral hatred of Donald Trump wrapped in the fantasy -- insisted upon as "elemental, existential fact" -- that he was "put in power by Vladimir Putin." A projection and deflection, I would say, of liberals' self-hatred for creating the conditions -- eight years of war and wealth transfer capped off by a despised and entitled candidate -- that allowed a vapid clown like Trump to be elected. It couldn't be our fault! It must have been Putin who arranged it!

Here's a highlight of Keith's delusional discourse. But, please watch the whole six-minute video below. They may have been a bit calmer, but this is the fundamental lunacy that was exuding from the rhetorical pores of Rachel, Chris, and Co. day after day for two+ years:

The military apparatus of this country is about to be handed over to scum, who are beholden to scum, Russian scum! As things are today January 20th will not be an inauguration but rather the end of the United States as an independent country. Donald John Trump is not a president; he is a puppet, put in power by Vladimir Putin. Those who ignore these elemental, existential facts -- Democrats or Republicans -- are traitors to this country. [Emphases in original. Really, watch it.]

https://www.youtube.com/embed/IAFxPXGDH4E

This -- Trump's secret, treasonous collusion with Putin, and not hush money or campaign finance violations or "obstruction of justice" or his obvious overall sleaziness -- was Russiagate.

Russiagate is Dead! Long Live Russiagate!

And it still is. Here's the demonstration in New York last Thursday, convened by the MoveOn/Maddow #Resistance, singing from "the hymnal" about how Trump is a "Russian whore" who is "busy blowing Vladimir":

https://www.youtube.com/embed/9YZ9kiJ88LM

This is delusional lunacy.

Here are the three lines of excuse and denial currently being fired off by diehard Russiagaters in their fighting retreat, and my responses to them.

1. The Mueller Report is irrelevant, anyhow. 'Cause either A) Per Congressional blowhard Adam Schiff: There already "is direct evidence" proving Trump-Russia collusion, dating from before the Mueller Investigation, so who cares what that doesn't find; or B) (My personal favorite) Per former prosecutor and CNN legal expert Renato Mariotti: Of course there is no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, and it's "your fault" for letting Trump fool you into thinking Mueller's job was to find it. (The Mueller "collusion" investigation was a red herring orchestrated/promoted by Trump! I cannot make this up.)

Mueller's report will almost certainly disappoint you, and it's not his fault. It's your fault for buying into Trump's false narrative that it is Mueller's' job to prove "collusion," a nearly impossible bar for any prosecutor to clear.

My piece in @TIME : https://t.co/VQ2WhhC996

-- Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) March 1, 2019

This is, of course, the weakest volley. It's absurd, patent bad faith, for Russiagaters to pretend that they knew, thought, or suggested the Mueller investigation was irrelevant. It is they who have been insisting that the integrity and super-sleuthiness of the "revered" Robert Mueller himself was the thing that would nail Donald Trump for Russian collusion. To now deny that any of that was important only acknowledges how thoroughly they have been fooling the American people and/or themselves for two years. Either Adam Schiff had the goods on Trump's traitorous Russian collusion two years ago, in which case he's got a lot of explaining to do about why he's been stringing us along with Mueller, or Schiff is just bluffing. Place your bets.

Russiagaters in 2017: YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT MUELLER KNOWS
Russiagaters in 2018: YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT MUELLER KNOWS
Russiagaters in 2019: Shut up Mueller, what would you know.

-- Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) March 22, 2019

2. The Mueller Report didn't exonerate Trump entirely. It was agnostic about whether Trump was guilty of "obstruction of justice," and there are probably many nasty things in the report that may not be provably criminal, but nonetheless demonstrate what a slimeball Trump is.

No, Russiagaters will not get away with denying that the core purpose of the Mueller investigation was to prove Trump's traitorous relation to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government, which helped him win the 2016 election. They will not get away with denying that, if the Mueller investigation failed to prove that, it failed in its main purpose, as they constantly defined and reinforced it, with table-pounding, hyperventilating, and -- a few days ago! -- disco-dancing to "the hymnal."

They will not get away with trying to appropriate, as if it were their point all along, what the left critics of Russiagate have been saying for two+ years -- that Donald Trump is a slimeball grifter whose culpability for politically substantive and probably legally actionable crimes and misdemeanors should not be hard to establish, without reverting to the absurd accusation that he's a Russian agent.

These are the left critics of Russiagate and Trump, whom Russiagaters deliberately excluded from all their media platforms, in order to make it seem that only right-wing Trump supporters could be skeptical of Russiagate -- the left critics Russiagaters then excoriated as "Trump enablers" and "Putin apologists" for speaking on the only media platforms that would host them. Among them, Glenn Greenwald and Aaron Maté (who just deservedly won the I.F. Stone prize for his Russiagate coverage) were the most prominent, but many others, including me, made this point week after week (Brian Becker, Dave Lindorff, Dan Kovalik, Daniel Lazare, Ted Rall, to name a few). As I put it in an essay last year: "There are a thousand reasons to criticize Donald Trump That Donald Trump is a Russian agent is not one of them. There are a number of very good justifications for seeking his impeachment That he is a Kremlin agent is not one of them."

So, it's a particularly slimy for Russiagaters to slip into the position that we Russiagate skeptics have been enunciating, and they have been excluding, for two years, without acknowledging that we were right and they were wrong and accounting for their effort to edit us out.

3. But we haven't seen the whole Mueller Report! Barr may be fooling us! Mueller's own team says so! You are now doing what you accused us of doing for two years -- abandoning proper skepticism about Republicans like Barr and even Mueller (Yup. He's a suspicious Republican now!), and assuming a final result we have not yet seen.

This is the one the Russiagaters like the most. Gotcha with your own logic!

Well, let's first of all thank those who are saying this for, again, recognizing that we Russiagate critics had the right attitude toward such an investigation: cautious skepticism as opposed to false certainty. And let's linger for a moment or more on how belated that recognition is and what its delay cost.

But let's also recognize that what's being expressed here is the last-minute hope on the part of the Russiagaters that the Mueller report actually does contain dispositive evidence of Trump's treasonous Russian collusion. Because, again, that is the core accusation that hopeful Russiagaters are still singing about, and nobody ever argued that evidence of other hijinks was unlikely.

Well, that hope can only be realized if one or both of the following are true: 1) Barr's quotes from the report exonerating Trump of collusion are complete fabrications, or 2) Mueller both wrote those words even though they contradict the substance of his own report and declined to indict a single U.S. person for such "collusion" even though he could have.

Sure, in the abstract, one or both of those conditions could be true. But there is no evidence, none, that either is. The New York Times (NYT) report that set everyone aflutter about the "concern" from "some members of Mr. Mueller's team" is anonymous, unspecified, and second-hand. Read it carefully: The NYT did not report what any member of Mueller's team said, but what "government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations" said. Those "officials and others interviewed [not members of the Mueller team itself] declined to flesh out" to the NYT what "some of the special counsel's investigators" were unhappy about. To that empty hearsay, the NYT appends the phrase "although the report is believed to examine Mr. Trump's efforts to thwart the investigation" -- suggesting, but not stating, that obstruction of justice issues are the reasons for the investigators' "vexation." The NYT cannot state, because it does not know, anything. It is reporting empty hearsay that is evidence of nothing, but is meant to keep hope alive.

"[T]he report is believed to examine" is a particularly strange locution. Is the NYT suggesting that the Mueller report might not have examined obstruction of justice possibilities? Or is it just getting tangled up in its attempt to suggest this or that? Hey, it could just as well be true that Barr's characterization of what the Mueller Report says about "obstruction of justice" is a misleading fabrication. Maybe Mueller actually exonerated Trump of that. If you mistrust Barr's version of what the Mueller Report says about collusion, why not equally mistrust what it says about obstruction of justice?

There is no evidence that Barr's summary is radically misleading about the core collusion conclusion of the Mueller Report. The walls are closing in, alright, on that story. The I'm just being as cautious now as you were before! line is the opposite of the reasonable skepticism is claims to be; it's Russiagaters clinging to a wish and a belief that something they want to be true is, despite the determinate lack of any evidence.

It's not just the words; it's the melody, and the desperation in the voices. The core Trump-blowing-Vladimir collusion song that #Resisters are still singing is a fantastical fiction and the people still singing it are the pathetic choir on the Russiagate Titanic. And while they're singing as they sink, Trump is escaping in the lifeboat they have provided him. The single most definite and undeniable effect of the Mueller investigation on American politics has been to hand Donald Trump a potent political weapon for his 2020 re-election campaign. A real bombshell.

It would be funny, if it weren't so funny:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/qjUvfZj-Fm0

But it's worse than that. The falsity of the Trump-as-a-Russian-agent narrative does not depend on any confidence in Mueller and his report or Barr and his summary. The truth is there was no Russiagate investigation, in the sense of a serious attempt to find out whether Donald Trump was taking orders from, or "coordinating" with, Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

No person in their right mind could believe that. Robert Mueller doesn't believe it. Nancy Pelosi doesn't believe it. Adam Schiff doesn't believe it. John Brennan, James Clapper, and the heads of intelligence agencies do not believe it. Not for a second. No knowledgeable international affairs journalist or academic who thinks about it for two minutes believes it. Sure, some politicians and media pundits did work themselves up into a state where they internalized and projected a belief in the narrative, but few of them really believed it. They were serving the Kool-Aid. Only the most gullible sectors of their target audience drank it.

With some exceptions, to be sure (Donald Trump among them), the people in the highest echelons of the state-media-academic apparatus are just not that stupid. And, most obvious and important, Vladimir Putin is not that stupid, and they know he is not. Vladimir Putin would never rely on Donald Trump to be his operative in a complex operation that required shrewdly playing and evading the US intelligence and media apparatuses. Nobody is that stupid. Thinking about it that way for a second dissipates the entire ridiculous idea. (Not to mention that Trump ended up enacting a number of policies -- many more than Obama! -- contrary to Russian interests.)

The obvious, which many people in the independent media and none in the mainstream media (because it is so obvious, and would have blown their game) have pointed out, is that any real investigation of Russiagate would have sought to talk with the principals who had direct knowledge of who is responsible for leaking the infamous DNC documents: Julian Assange and former British ambassador Craig Murray ("I know who leaked them. I've met the person who leaked them."). They were essentially two undisputed eyewitnesses to the crime Mueller was supposed to be investigating, and he made no effort to talk to either of them. Ipso facto, it was not really an investigation, not a project whole purpose was to find the truth about whatever the thing called "Russiagate" is supposed to be.

The Eternal Witch-hunt

It was a theater of discipline. Its purpose, which it achieved, was to discipline Trump, the Democratic electorate, and the media. Its method was fishing around in the muck of Washington consultants, lobbyists, and influence peddlers to generate indictments and plea bargains for crimes irrelevant to the core mandate. Not hard, in a carceral state where prosecutors can pin three felonies a day on anyone.

The US establishment, especially its national security arm, was genuinely shocked that their anointed candidate, Hillary, who was, as Glen Ford puts it "'all in' with the global military offensive" that Obama had run through Libya, Syria, and the coup in Ukraine, was defeated by a nitwit candidate who was making impermissibly non-aggressive noises about things like Russia and NATO, and who actually wanted to lose. For their part, the Democrats were horrified, and did not want to face the necessary reckoning about the complete failure of their candidate, and the best-of-all-possible-liberaloid-worlds strategy she personified.

So, "within 24 hours of her concession speech" Hillary's campaign team (Robby Mook and John Podesta) created a "script they would pitch to the press and the public" to explain why she lost. "Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument." A few months later, a coalition of congressional Democrats,, establishment Republicans, and intelligence/natsec professionals pressured Trump (who, we can now see clearly, is putty in the hands of the latter) to initiate a Special Counsel investigation. Its ostensible goal was to investigate Russian collusion, but its real goals were:

1) To discipline Trump, preventing any backpedaling on NATO/imperialist war-mongering against Russia or any other target. Frankly, I think this was unnecessary. Trump never had any depth of principle in his remarks about de-escalating with Russia and Syria. He was always a staunch American exceptionalist and Zionist. Nobody has forced him (that's a right-wing fantasy) to attack Syria, appoint John Bolton, recognize Israeli authority over Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, or threaten Iran and Venezuela. But the natsec deep state actors did (and do) not trust Trump's impulsiveness. They probably also thought it would be useful to "send a message" to Russia, which, in their arrogance, they think they can, but they cannot, "discipline," as I've discussed in a previous essay.

2) To discipline the media, making "Russian collusion," as Off-Guardian journalist Kit Knightly says, "a concept that keeps everyone in check." Thus, a Russophobia-related McCarthyite hysteria was engendered that defined any strong anti-interventionist or anti-establishment sentiment as Russian-sown "divisiveness" and "Putin apologetics." This discipline was eagerly accepted by the mainstream media, which joined in the related drive to demand new forms of censorship for independent and internet media. The epitome of this is the mainstream media's execrable, tacit and sometimes explicit acceptance of the US government's campaign to prosecute Julian Assange.

3) To discipline and corral the Democratic constituency. Establishment Dems riled up outraged progressives with deceptive implied promises to take Trump down based on the collusion fiction, which excused Hillary and diverted their attention from the real egregious failures and crimes that led their party to political ruin, and culminated in the election of Trump in the first place. This discipline also instituted a #Resistance to Trump that involved the party doing nothing substantively progressive in policy -- indeed, it allowed embracing Trump's most egregious militarism and promoting an alliance with, a positive reverence for, the most deceptive and reactionary institutions of the state.

Finally, incorporating point 2, perhaps the main point of this discipline -- indeed of the whole Mueller enterprise -- was to stigmatize the leftists and socialists in and around the party, who were questioning the collusion fiction and calling critical attention to the party's failures, as crypto-fascist "Trump enablers" or "Putin's useful idiots." It's all about fencing out the left and corralling the base.

Note the point regarding the deceptive implications about taking down Trump. Though they gave the opposite impression to rile up their constituents, Democratic Congressional leaders, for the reasons given above and others I laid out in a previous essay, did not think for a second they were going to impeach Trump. They were never really after impeaching Trump; they were and are after stringing along their dissatisfied progressive-minded voters. They, not Trump, were and are the target of the foolery.

We should recognize that Russiagate/The Mueller Investigation achieved all of these goals, and was therefore a great success. That's the case whatever part of the Mueller Report is summarized and released, and whoever interprets it. The whole report with all of the underlying evidence cannot legally be released to the public, and the Democrats know that. So, even if the House gets it, the public will only ever see portions doled out by various interested parties.

Thus, it will continue to be a great success. There will be endless leaks, and interpretations of leaks, and arguments about the interpretations of leaks based on speculation about what's still hidden. The Mueller Investigation has morphed into the Mueller Report, a hermeneutical exercise that will go on forever.
The Mueller Investigation never happened and will never end.

It wasn't an investigation. It was/is an act of political theater, staged in an ongoing dramatic festival where, increasingly, litigation substitutes for politics. Neither party has anything of real, lasting, positive political substance to offer, and each finds itself in power only because it conned the electorate into thinking it offered something new. That results in every politician being vulnerable, but to a politically vacuous opposition that can only mount its attacks on largely politically irrelevant, often impossible to adjudicate, legalistic or moralistic grounds. Prosecutorial inquiry becomes a substitute for substantive political challenge.

It's the template that was established by the Republicans against Bill Clinton, has been adapted by the Democrats for Trump and Russiagate, and will be ceaselessly repeated. What's coming next, already hinted at in William Barr's congressional testimony, will be an investigation of FISAGate -- an inquiry into whether the FISA warrants for spying on the Trump campaign and administration were obtained legally ("adequately predicated"). And/or UkraineGate, about the evidence "Ukrainian law enforcement officials believe they have of wrongdoing by American Democrats and their allies in Kiev, ranging from 2016 election interference to obstructing criminal probes," involving Tony Podesta (who worked right alongside Paul Manafort in Ukraine), Hillary Clinton's campaign, Joe Biden and his son, et. al. And/or CampaignGate, the lawsuit claiming that Hillary's national campaign illegally took $84 million of "straw man" contributions made to state Democratic campaigns. And/or CraigGate, involving powerful Democratic fixer and Obama White House Counsel, Gregory Craig, who has already been referred to federal prosecutors by Mueller, and whose law firm has already paid a $4.6 million-dollar fine for making false statement and failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act -- for work he did in Ukraine with -- who else? -- Paul Manafort.

There are Gates galore. If you haven't heard about any of these simmering scandals in the way you've heard incessantly about, you know, Paul Manafort, perhaps that's because they didn't fit into the "get Trump" theme of the Mueller Investigation/Russiagate political theater. Rest assured the Republicans have, and will likely make sure that you do. If you think the Republicans do not have at least as much of a chance to make a serious case with some of these as Mueller did with Trump, you are wrong. If you think the Republicans will pursue any of these investigations because they have the same principled concern as the Democrats about foreign collusion in US elections, or the legality of campaign contributions or surveillance warrants, you are right. They have none. Like the Democrats, they have zero concern for the ostensible issues of principle, and infinite enthusiasm for mounting "gotcha" political theater.

Neither party really wants, or knows how, to engage in a sustained, principled debate on substantive political issues -- things like universal-coverage, single-payer health insurance, a job guarantee, a radical reduction of the military budget, an end to imperialist intervention, increasing taxes on the wealthy and lowering them for working people, a break from the "overwhelming" and destructive influence of Zionism, to name a few of the policies the Democratic congressional leadership could have insisted on "investigating" over the last two years..

Instead, both parties' political campaigns rely on otherizing appeals based on superficial identity politics (white-affirmative on the one hand, POC-affirmative on the other) and, mainly, on bashing the other party for all the problems it ignored or exacerbated, and all the terrible policies it enacted, when it was in power -- and for the version of superficial, otherizing identity politics it supposedly based those policies on (the real determinants of class power remaining invisible). What both parties know how and will continue to do is mount hypocritical legalistic and moralistic "investigations" of illegal campaign contributions, support from foreign governments, teenage make-out sessions, personal-space violations, et. al., that they are just "shocked, shocked" about.

It's Investigation Nation. Fake politics in the simulacrum of a democratic polity. Indeed, someone, of some political perspicuity, might just notice, if only for a flash, that the people who do pretty well politically are often the ones who frankly don't give a crap about all that. Maybe because they're talking to people who don't give a crap about all that. But we wouldn't want to confuse ourselves thinking on that for too long.

Which brings us to the last point about Russiagate/The Mueller Investigation mentioned above. It may not (or may!) have been an intended goal, but it has been its most definite political effect: The Mueller Investigation has been a great political gift to Donald Trump. #Resisters and Russiagaters can wriggle around that all they want. They can insist that, once we get the whole Report, we'll turn the corner, the bombshell will explode, the walls will close in -- for real, this time. Sure.

But even they can't deny that's the case right now. Trump is saying the Mueller investigation was a political counterattack against the result of the election, masquerading as a disinterested judicial investigation; that it was based on a flimsy fiction and designed to dig around in every corner of his closets to find nasty and incriminating things that were entirely irrelevant to the ostensible mandate of the investigation and to any substantive, upfront political critique -- a "witchhunt," a "fishing expedition." And he is right. And too many people in the country know he's right. At this point, even most Russiagaters themselves know it -- though they don't care, and will never admit it.

So now Trump, who could have been attacked for two years politically on substance for betraying most of the promises that got him elected -- more aggressive war, more tax cuts for the wealthy, threatening Medicare and Social Security -- has instead been handed, by the Democrats, the strongest arrow he now has in his political quiver. As Matt Taibbi says: "Trump couldn't have asked for a juicier campaign issue, and an easier way to argue that 'elites' don't respect the democratic choices of flyover voters. It's hard to imagine what could look worse."

You might think the Democratic Party would be horrified at this result, which one conservative analyst calls: "one of the greatest self-defeating acts in history." You might think Democrats would now move quickly and decisively toward a strategy of offering a substantive political alternative, and abandon this awful own-goal Mueller/Russiagate tack that has already helped Trump immensely (and which they are not going to turn their way). That is obviously what would happen if the Democrats' main goal was to defeat Trump. But it isn't.

As discussed above, the Democratic establishment's' main goal throughout this was not to "get" Trump, but to channel its own voters' disgust with him into support for some halcyon, liberal, status quo ante-Trump, and away from left demands for a radical change to the social, economic, and political conditions that produced him and his clueless establishment opponent in 2016. The Democrats' goal was, and is, not to defeat Trump, but to stave off the left.

What they are doing with the Mueller Investigation/Russiagate is what they did in the primaries in 2016: Then, they deliberately promoted Trump as an opponent, while working assiduously to cheat their own leftist candidate; now, they gin up a fictional spy story whose inevitable collapse helps Trump, but on which they will double down, in order to continue branding "divisive" leftists who challenge any return to their version of status-quo normalcy as the Kremlin's "useful idiots."

The Democrats' main goal in all this is not to impeach, or stop the re-election of, Donald Trump; it's to prevent the nomination and election of Bernie Sanders, or anyone like him.

Russiagate Forever

Here's Tim Ryan's presidential campaign kickoff speech in Youngstown, Ohio, a poster city of late American capitalist deindustrialization, explaining to the voters what is causing the destruction of their lives and towns. After complaining that "We have politicians and leaders today that want to divide us. They want to put us in one box or the other. You know, you can't be for business and for labor," he elaborates:

Yup, it’s those Russians, you see, sowing division through certain “politicians and leaders,” who are preventing us from fixing our healthcare, education, economic and government systems. This—doubling down on Russiagate—is the centrist Democrats’ idea of a winning political appeal. I consider it utterly delusional.

I heard last week from a friend in Western Pennsylvania, not too far from Youngstown. She’s a good person who is trying to organize Democrats in the area to beat Trump in 2020, and, pleading for advice, she expressed her exasperation: “They’re leaving the party!”

You mean the five million people who voted for Obama in 2012, in the 90% of counties that voted for Obama either in 2008 or 2012, but would not vote for Hillary in 2019, aren’t streaming back into—are indeed still streaming out of—the Democratic Party, despite all the Mueller investigation has done for them? Imagine that.

What has Russiagate/The Mueller Investigation wrought? It’s either a shrewd political gambit sure to take down Trump, or it’s ridiculous political theater leading Democrats, and the country, over another cliff. Double-down or leave that table?

Place your bets.

[Jun 19, 2019] Bias bias the inclination to accuse people of bias by James Thompson

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Early in any psychology course, students are taught to be very cautious about accepting people's reports. A simple trick is to stage some sort of interruption to the lecture by confederates, and later ask the students to write down what they witnessed. Typically, they will misremember the events, sequences and even the number of people who staged the tableaux. Don't trust witnesses, is the message. ..."
"... The three assumptions -- lack of rationality, stubbornness, and costs -- imply that there is slim chance that people can ever learn or be educated out of their biases; ..."
"... So, are we as hopeless as some psychologists claim we are? In fact, probably not. Not all the initial claims have been substantiated. For example, it seems we are not as loss averse as previously claimed. Does our susceptibility to printed visual illusions show that we lack judgement in real life? ..."
"... Well the sad fact is that there's nobody in the position to protect "governments" from their own biases, and "scientists" from theirs ..."
"... Long ago a lawyer acquaintance, referring to a specific judge, told me that the judge seemed to "make shit up as he was going along". I have long held psychiatry fits that statement very well. ..."
"... Here we have a real scientist fighting the nonsense spreading from (neoclassical) economics into other realms of science/academia. ..."
"... Behavioral economics is a sideline by-product of neoclassical micro-economic theory. It tries to cope with experimental data that is inconsistent with that theory. ..."
"... Everything in neoclassical economics is a travesty. "Rational choice theory" and its application in "micro economics" is false from the ground up. It basically assumes that people are gobbling up resources without plan, meaning or relevant circumstances. Neoclassical micro economic theory is so false and illogical that I would not know where to start in a comment, so I should like to refer to a whole book about it: Keen, Steve: "Debunking economics". ..."
"... As the theory is totally wrong it is really not surprising that countless experiments show that people do not behave the way neoclassical theory predicts. How do economists react to this? Of course they assume that people are "irrational" because they do not behave according to their studied theory. (Why would you ever change your basic theory because of some tedious facts?) ..."
"... The title of the 1st ed. of Keen's book was "Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor of the Social Sciences" which was simply a perfect title. ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.unz.com

Early in any psychology course, students are taught to be very cautious about accepting people's reports. A simple trick is to stage some sort of interruption to the lecture by confederates, and later ask the students to write down what they witnessed. Typically, they will misremember the events, sequences and even the number of people who staged the tableaux. Don't trust witnesses, is the message.

Another approach is to show visual illusions, such as getting estimates of line lengths in the Muller-Lyer illusion, or studying simple line lengths under social pressure, as in the Asch experiment, or trying to solve the Peter Wason logic problems, or the puzzles set by Kahneman and Tversky. All these appear to show severe limitations of human judgment. Psychology is full of cautionary tales about the foibles of common folk.

As a consequence of this softening up, psychology students come to regard themselves and most people as fallible, malleable, unreliable, biased and generally irrational. No wonder psychologists feel superior to the average citizen, since they understand human limitations and, with their superior training, hope to rise above such lowly superstitions.

However, society still functions, people overcome errors and many things work well most of the time. Have psychologists, for one reason or another, misunderstood people, and been too quick to assume that they are incapable of rational thought?

Gerd Gigerenzer thinks so.

https://www.nowpublishers.com/article/OpenAccessDownload/RBE-0092

He is particularly interested in the economic consequences of apparent irrationality, and whether our presumed biases really result in us making bad economic decisions. If so, some argue we need a benign force, say a government, to protect us from our lack of capacity. Perhaps we need a tattoo on our forehead: Diminished Responsibility.

The argument leading from cognitive biases to governmental paternalism -- in short, the irrationality argument -- consists of three assumptions and one conclusion:

1. Lack of rationality. Experiments have shown that people's intuitions are systematically biased.

2. Stubbornness. Like visual illusions, biases are persistent and hardly corrigible by education.

3. Substantial costs. Biases may incur substantial welfare-relevant costs such as lower wealth, health, or happiness.

4. Biases justify governmental paternalism. To protect people from theirbiases, governments should "nudge" the public toward better behavior.

The three assumptions -- lack of rationality, stubbornness, and costs -- imply that there is slim chance that people can ever learn or be educated out of their biases; instead governments need to step in with a policy called libertarian paternalism (Thaler and Sunstein, 2003).

So, are we as hopeless as some psychologists claim we are? In fact, probably not. Not all the initial claims have been substantiated. For example, it seems we are not as loss averse as previously claimed. Does our susceptibility to printed visual illusions show that we lack judgement in real life?

In Shepard's (1990) words, "to fool a visual system that has a full binocular and freely mobile view of a well-illuminated scene is next to impossible" (p. 122). Thus, in psychology, the visual system is seen more as a genius than a fool in making intelligent inferences, and inferences, after all, are necessary for making sense of the images on the retina.

Most crucially, can people make probability judgements? Let us see. Try solving this one:

A disease has a base rate of .1, and a test is performed that has a hit rate of .9 (the conditional probability of a positive test given disease) and a false positive rate of .1 (the conditional probability of a positive test given no disease). What is the probability that a random person with a positive test result actually has the disease?

Most people fail this test, including 79% of gynaecologists giving breast screening tests. Some researchers have drawn the conclusion that people are fundamentally unable to deal with conditional probabilities. On the contrary, there is a way of laying out the problem such that most people have no difficulty with it. Watch what it looks like when presented as natural frequencies:

Among every 100 people, 10 are expected to have a disease. Among those 10, nine are expected to correctly test positive. Among the 90 people without the disease, nine are expected to falsely test positive. What proportion of those who test positive actually have the disease?

In this format the positive test result gives us 9 people with the disease and 9 people without the disease, so the chance that a positive test result shows a real disease is 50/50. Only 13% of gynaecologists fail this presentation.

Summing up the virtues of natural frequencies, Gigerenzer says:

When college students were given a 2-hour course in natural frequencies, the number of correct Bayesian inferences increased from 10% to 90%; most important, this 90% rate was maintained 3 months after training (Sedlmeier and Gigerenzer, 2001). Meta-analyses have also documented the "de-biasing" effect, and natural frequencies are now a technical term in evidence-based medicine (Akiet al., 2011; McDowell and Jacobs, 2017). These results are consistent with a long literature on techniques for successfully teaching statistical reasoning (e.g., Fonget al., 1986). In sum, humans can learn Bayesian inference quickly if the information is presented in natural frequencies.

If the problem is set out in a simple format, almost all of us can all do conditional probabilities.

I taught my medical students about the base rate screening problem in the late 1970s, based on: Robyn Dawes (1962) "A note on base rates and psychometric efficiency". Decades later, alarmed by the positive scan detection of an unexplained mass, I confided my fears to a psychiatrist friend. He did a quick differential diagnosis on bowel cancer, showing I had no relevant symptoms, and reminded me I had lectured him as a student on base rates decades before, so I ought to relax. Indeed, it was false positive.

Here are the relevant figures, set out in terms of natural frequencies

Every test has a false positive rate (every step is being taken to reduce these), and when screening is used for entire populations many patients have to undergo further investigations, sometimes including surgery.

Setting out frequencies in a logical sequence can often prevent misunderstandings. Say a man on trial for having murdered his spouse has previously physically abused her. Should his previous history of abuse not be raised in Court because only 1 woman in 2500 cases of abuse is murdered by her abuser? Of course, whatever a defence lawyer may argue and a Court may accept, this is back to front. OJ Simpson was not on trial for spousal abuse, but for the murder of his former partner. The relevant question is: what is the probability that a man murdered his partner, given that she has been murdered and that he previously battered her.

Accepting the figures used by the defence lawyer, if 1 in 2500 women are murdered every year by their abusive male partners, how many women are murdered by men who did not previously abuse them? Using government figures that 5 women in 100,000 are murdered every year then putting everything onto the same 100,000 population, the frequencies look like this:

So, 40 to 5, it is 8 times more probable that abused women are murdered by their abuser. A relevant issue to raise in Court about the past history of an accused man.

Are people's presumed biases costly, in the sense of making them vulnerable to exploitation, such that they can be turned into a money pump, or is it a case of "once bitten, twice shy"? In fact, there is no evidence that these apparently persistent logical errors actually result in people continually making costly errors. That presumption turns out to be a bias bias.

Gigerenzer goes on to show that people are in fact correct in their understanding of the randomness of short sequences of coin tosses, and Kahneman and Tversky wrong. Elegantly, he also shows that the "hot hand" of successful players in basketball is a real phenomenon, and not a stubborn illusion as claimed.

With equal elegance he disposes of a result I had depended upon since Slovic (1982), which is that people over-estimate the frequency of rare risks and under-estimate the frequency of common risks. This finding has led to the belief that people are no good at estimating risk. Who could doubt that a TV series about Chernobyl will lead citizens to have an exaggerated fear of nuclear power stations?

The original Slovic study was based on 39 college students, not exactly a fair sample of humanity. The conceit of psychologists knows no bounds. Gigerenzer looks at the data and shows that it is yet another example of regression to the mean. This is an apparent effect which arises whenever the predictor is less than perfect (the most common case), an unsystematic error effect, which is already evident when you calculate the correlation coefficient. Parental height and their children's heights are positively but not perfectly correlated at about r = 0.5. Predictions made in either direction will under-predict in either direction, simply because they are not perfect, and do not capture all the variation. Try drawing out the correlation as an ellipse to see the effect of regression, compared to the perfect case of the straight line of r= 1.0

What diminishes in the presence of noise is the variability of the estimates, both the estimates of the height of the sons based on that of their fathers, and vice versa. Regression toward the mean is a result of unsystematic, not systematic error (Stigler,1999).

Gigerenzer also looks at the supposed finding that people are over-confidence in predictions, and finds that it is another regression to the mean problem.

Gigerenzer then goes on to consider that old favourite, that most people think they are better than average, which supposedly cannot be the case, because average people are average.

Consider the finding that most drivers think they drive better than average. If better driving is interpreted as meaning fewer accidents, then most drivers' beliefs are actually true. The number of accidents per person has a skewed distribution, and an analysis of U.S. accident statistics showed that some 80% of drivers have fewer accidents than the average number of accidents (Mousavi and Gigerenzer, 2011)

Then he looks at the classical demonstration of framing, that is to say, the way people appear to be easily swayed by how the same facts are "framed" or presented to the person who has to make a decision.

A patient suffering from a serious heart disease considers high-risk surgery and asks a doctor about its prospects.

The doctor can frame the answer in two ways:

Positive Frame: Five years after surgery, 90% of patients are alive.
Negative Frame: Five years after surgery, 10% of patients are dead.

Should the patient listen to how the doctor frames the answer? Behavioral economists say no because both frames are logically equivalent (Kahneman, 2011). Nevertheless, people do listen. More are willing to agree to a medical procedure if the doctor uses positive framing (90% alive) than if negative framing is used (10% dead) (Moxeyet al., 2003). Framing effects challenge the assumption of stable preferences, leading to preference reversals. Thaler and Sunstein (2008) who presented the above surgery problem, concluded that "framing works because people tend to be somewhat mindless, passive decisionmakers" (p. 40)

Gigerenzer points out that in this particular example, subjects are having to make their judgements without knowing a key fact: how many survive without surgery. If you know that you have a datum which is more influential. These are the sorts of questions patients will often ask about, and discuss with other patients, or with several doctors. Furthermore, you don't have to spin a statistic. You could simply say: "Five years after surgery, 90% of patients are alive and 10% are dead".

Gigerenzer gives an explanation which is very relevant to current discussions about the meaning of intelligence, and about the power of intelligence tests:

In sum, the principle of logical equivalence or "description invariance" is a poor guide to understanding how human intelligence deals with an uncertain world where not everything is stated explicitly. It misses the very nature of intelligence, the ability to go beyond the information given (Bruner, 1973)

The key is to take uncertainty seriously, take heuristics seriously, and beware of the bias bias.

One important conclusion I draw from this entire paper is that the logical puzzles enjoyed by Kahneman, Tversky, Stanovich and others are rightly rejected by psychometricians as usually being poor indicators of real ability. They fail because they are designed to lead people up the garden path, and depend on idiosyncratic interpretations.

For more detail: http://www.unz.com/jthompson/the-tricky-question-of-rationality/

Critics of examinations of either intellectual ability or scholastic attainment are fond of claiming that the items are "arbitrary". Not really. Scholastic tests have to be close to the curriculum in question, but still need to a have question forms which are simple to understand so that the stress lies in how students formulate the answer, not in how they decipher the structure of the question.

Intellectual tests have to avoid particular curricula and restrict themselves to the common ground of what most people in a community understand. Questions have to be super-simple, so that the correct answer follows easily from the question, with minimal ambiguity. Furthermore, in the case of national scholastic tests, and particularly in the case of intelligence tests, legal authorities will pore over the test, looking at each item for suspected biases of a sexual, racial or socio-economic nature. Designing an intelligence test is a difficult and expensive matter. Many putative new tests of intelligence never even get to the legal hurdle, because they flounder on matters of reliability and validity, and reveal themselves to be little better than the current range of assessments.

In conclusion, both in psychology and behavioural economics, some researchers have probably been too keen to allege bias in cases where there are unsystematic errors, or no errors at all. The corrective is to learn about base rates, and to use natural frequencies as a guide to good decision-making.

Don't bother boosting your IQ. Boost your understanding of natural frequencies.


res , says: June 17, 2019 at 3:29 pm GMT

Good concrete advice. Perhaps even more useful for those who need to explain things like this to others than for those seeking to understand for themselves.
ThreeCranes , says: June 17, 2019 at 3:34 pm GMT
"intelligence deals with an uncertain world where not everything is stated explicitly. It misses the very nature of intelligence, the ability to go beyond the information given (Bruner, 1973)"

"The key is to take uncertainty seriously, take heuristics seriously, and beware of the bias bias."

Why I come to Unz.

Tom Welsh , says: June 18, 2019 at 8:36 am GMT
@Cortes Sounds fishy to me.

Actually I think this is an example of an increasingly common genre of malapropism, where the writer gropes for the right word, finds one that is similar, and settles for that. The worst of it is that readers intuitively understand what was intended, and then adopt the marginally incorrect usage themselves. That's perhaps how the world and his dog came to say "literally" when they mean "figuratively". Maybe a topic for a future article?

Biff , says: June 18, 2019 at 10:16 am GMT
In 2009 Google finished engineering a reverse search engine to find out what kind of searches people did most often. Seth Davidowitz and Steven Pinker wrote a very fascinating/entertaining book using the tool called Everybody Lies

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28512671-everybody-lies

Everybody Lies offers fascinating, surprising, and sometimes laugh-out-loud insights into everything from economics to ethics to sports to race to sex, gender, and more, all drawn from the world of big data. What percentage of white voters didn't vote for Barack Obama because he's black? Does where you go to school effect how successful you are in life? Do parents secretly favor boy children over girls? Do violent films affect the crime rate? Can you beat the stock market? How regularly do we lie about our sex lives, and who's more self-conscious about sex, men or women?

Investigating these questions and a host of others, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz offers revelations that can help us understand ourselves and our lives better. Drawing on studies and experiments on how we really live and think, he demonstrates in fascinating and often funny ways the extent to which all the world is indeed a lab. With conclusions ranging from strange-but-true to thought-provoking to disturbing, he explores the power of this digital truth serum and its deeper potential – revealing biases deeply embedded within us, information we can use to change our culture, and the questions we're afraid to ask that might be essential to our health – both emotional and physical. All of us are touched by big data every day, and its influence is multiplying. Everybody Lies challenges us to think differently about how we see it and the world.

dearieme , says: June 18, 2019 at 11:25 am GMT
I shall treat this posting (for which many thanks, doc) as an invitation to sing a much-loved song: everybody should read Gigerenzer's Reckoning with Risk. With great clarity it teaches what everyone ought to know about probability.

(It could also serve as a model for writing in English about technical subjects. Americans and Britons should study the English of this German – he knows how, you know.)

Inspired by "The original Slovic study was based on 39 college students" I shall also sing another favorite song. Much of Psychology is based on what small numbers of American undergraduates report they think they think.

Anon [410] • Disclaimer , says: June 18, 2019 at 3:47 pm GMT
" Gigerenzer points out that in this particular example, subjects are having to make their judgements without knowing a key fact: how many survive without surgery. "

This one reminds of the false dichotomy. The patient has additional options! Like changing diet, and behaviours such as exercise, elimination of occupational stress , etc.

The statistical outcomes for a person change when the person changes their circumstances/conditions.

Cortes , says: June 18, 2019 at 4:14 pm GMT
@Tom Welsh A disposition (conveyance) of an awkwardly shaped chunk out of a vast estate contained reference to "the slither of ground bounded on or towards the north east and extending two hundred and twenty four meters or thereby along a chain link fence " Not poor clients (either side) nor cheap lawyers. And who never erred?

Better than deliberately inserting "errors" to guarantee a stream of tidy up work (not unknown in the "professional" world) in future.

Tom Fix , says: June 18, 2019 at 4:25 pm GMT
Good article. 79% of gynaecologists fail a simple conditional probability test?! Many if not most medical research papers use advanced statistics. Medical doctors must read these papers to fully understand their field. So, if medical doctors don't fully understand them, they are not properly doing their job. Those papers use mathematical expressions, not English. Converting them to another form of English, instead of using the mathematical expressions isn't a solution.
SafeNow , says: June 18, 2019 at 5:49 pm GMT
Regarding witnesses: When that jet crashed into Rockaway several years ago, a high percentage of witnesses said that they saw smoke before the crash. But there was actually no smoke. The witnesses were adjusting what they saw to conform to their past experience of seeing movie and newsreel footage of planes smoking in the air before a crash. Children actually make very good witnesses.

Regarding the chart. Missing, up there in the vicinity of cancer and heart disease. The third-leading cause of death. 250,000 per year, according to a 2016 Hopkins study. Medical negligence.

Anon [724] • Disclaimer , says: June 18, 2019 at 9:48 pm GMT

1. Lack of rationality. Experiments have shown that people's intuitions are systematically biased.

2. Stubbornness. Like visual illusions, biases are persistent and hardly corrigible by education.

3. Substantial costs. Biases may incur substantial welfare-relevant costs such as lower wealth, health, or happiness.

4. Biases justify governmental paternalism. To protect people from theirbiases, governments should "nudge" the public toward better behavior.

Well the sad fact is that there's nobody in the position to protect "governments" from their own biases, and "scientists" from theirs.

So, behind the smoke of all words and rationalisations, the law is unchanged: everyone strives to gain and exert as much power as possible over as many others as possible. Most do that without writing papers to say it is right, others write papers, others books. Anyway, the fundamental law would stay as it is even if all this writing labour was spared, wouldn't it? But then another fundamental law, the law of framing all one's drives as moral and beneffective comes into play the papers and the books are useful, after all.

Curmudgeon , says: June 19, 2019 at 1:42 am GMT
An interesting article. However, I think that the only thing we have to know about how illogical psychiatry is this:

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) asked all members attending its convention to vote on whether they believed homosexuality to be a mental disorder. 5,854 psychiatrists voted to remove homosexuality from the DSM, and 3,810 to retain it.

The APA then compromised, removing homosexuality from the DSM but replacing it, in effect, with "sexual orientation disturbance" for people "in conflict with" their sexual orientation. Not until 1987 did homosexuality completely fall out of the DSM.

(source https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/hide-and-seek/201509/when-homosexuality-stopped-being-mental-disorder )

The article makes no mention of the fact that no "new science" was brought to support the resolution.

It appears that the psychiatrists were voting based on feelings rather than science. Since that time, the now 50+ genders have been accepted as "normal" by the APA. My family has had members in multiple generations suffering from mental illness. None were "cured". I know others with the same circumstances.

How does one conclude that being repulsed by the prime directive of every living organism – reproduce yourself – is "normal"? That is not to say these people are horrible or evil, just not normal. How can someone, who thinks (s)he is a cat be mentally ill, but a grown man thinking he is a female child is not?

Long ago a lawyer acquaintance, referring to a specific judge, told me that the judge seemed to "make shit up as he was going along". I have long held psychiatry fits that statement very well.

Paul2 , says: June 19, 2019 at 8:08 am GMT
Thank you for this article. I find the information about the interpretation of statistical data very interesting. My take on the background of the article is this:

Here we have a real scientist fighting the nonsense spreading from (neoclassical) economics into other realms of science/academia.

Behavioral economics is a sideline by-product of neoclassical micro-economic theory. It tries to cope with experimental data that is inconsistent with that theory.

Everything in neoclassical economics is a travesty. "Rational choice theory" and its application in "micro economics" is false from the ground up. It basically assumes that people are gobbling up resources without plan, meaning or relevant circumstances. Neoclassical micro economic theory is so false and illogical that I would not know where to start in a comment, so I should like to refer to a whole book about it:
Keen, Steve: "Debunking economics".

As the theory is totally wrong it is really not surprising that countless experiments show that people do not behave the way neoclassical theory predicts. How do economists react to this? Of course they assume that people are "irrational" because they do not behave according to their studied theory. (Why would you ever change your basic theory because of some tedious facts?)

We live in a strange world in which such people have control over university faculties, journals, famous prizes. But at least we have some scientists who defend their area of knowledge against the spreading nonsense produced by economists.

The title of the 1st ed. of Keen's book was "Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor of the Social Sciences" which was simply a perfect title.

Dieter Kief , says: June 19, 2019 at 8:22 am GMT
@Curmudgeon Could it be that you expect psychiatrists in the past to be as rational as you are now?

Would the result have been any different, if members of a 1973 convention of physicists or surgeons would have been asked?

[Jun 19, 2019] Trump MIGA bellicosity: the president said a fight would mean "the official end of Iran"

Neocon donors ask Trump for favors and he can't refuse... Trump foreign policy is a direct continuation of Bush II and Obama foreign policy and is dominated by neocons, who rule the State Department. Pomeo is a rabid neocon, to the right of Condoleezza Rice, Hillary and John Kerry. Actually anti-Iranian and pro-Israeli bias was clearly visible even during 2016 campaign, but few voters paid any attention. Now they should.
It is clear that Trump is the most pro-Israel President after Johnson.
Notable quotes:
"... In contrast, in the Middle East the president has been extraordinarily bellicose. In April, the Administration revoked waivers that allowed certain countries to buy oil from Iran without violating U.S. sanctions [ U.S. Won't Renew Sanction Exemptions For Countries Buying Iran's Oil , by Bill Chappell, NPR, April 22, 2019]. In early May, the president imposed new sanctions on Iranian metals, a direct threat to the regime's economic viability. ..."
"... The "maximum pressure campaign," as it has been called, puts Iran in the position of either accepting a humiliating surrender or striking out where it can [ Maximum pressure on Iran Means Maximum Risk of War , by Ilan Goldenberg, Foreign Policy, June 14, 2019]. ..."
"... Why Iran would do this is questionable, unless it's just a move of desperation. ..."
"... But did Iran actually do it? Washington has a credibility gap with the rest of the world and its own people thanks to the disaster of the Iraq War . There were, it turned out, no "Weapons of Mass Destruction." So now many Americans openly question whether Iran attacked these tankers. This includes some MSM reporters who trusted the "intelligence community" when it was attacking Trump but now want an "international investigation of the incident". [ Ben Rhodes, CNN, And Others Purposefully Fuel Pro-Iranian "False Flag Conspiracy Theories After Tanker Attacks , RedState, June 14, 2019] ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.unz.com

The most optimistic explanation: Trump intends to use immigration as an election issue in 2020. Yet his fecklessness in office will be as unappealing to many voters as the Democrats' extremism. [ Trump Is Vulnerable to Biden on Immigration , by Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, June 11, 2019] After all, Trump began his campaign vowing to solve the immigration problem almost exactly four years ago -- but essentially nothing has been done.

Instead, the president has been reduced to asking Mexico to solve our problem for us. He supposedly cut a deal with the Mexican government after threatening tariffs , but even that is in dispute. [ Mexico denies Trump's claim of secret concessions in deal , by Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, and Maria Verza, Associated Press, June 10, 2019] The president left powerful negotiating tools on the side, including, most importantly, a remittance tax . As in his dealings with Congress, the president insists on negotiating from weakness in his dealings with Mexico.

In contrast, in the Middle East the president has been extraordinarily bellicose. In April, the Administration revoked waivers that allowed certain countries to buy oil from Iran without violating U.S. sanctions [ U.S. Won't Renew Sanction Exemptions For Countries Buying Iran's Oil , by Bill Chappell, NPR, April 22, 2019]. In early May, the president imposed new sanctions on Iranian metals, a direct threat to the regime's economic viability. [ Trump sanctions Iranian metals, Tehran's largest non-petroleum-related sources of export revenue , by Amanda Macias, CNBC, May 8, 2019]

Later that month, the president said a fight would mean "the official end of Iran" [ Trump threatens Iran With 'Official End' by Kenneth Walsh, US News and World Report, May 20, 2019].

The "maximum pressure campaign," as it has been called, puts Iran in the position of either accepting a humiliating surrender or striking out where it can [ Maximum pressure on Iran Means Maximum Risk of War , by Ilan Goldenberg, Foreign Policy, June 14, 2019].

This has culminated in Iran's alleged attack on two tankers traveling in the Strait of Hormuz. [ Pompeo Says 'There's No Doubt' Iran Attacked 2 Tankers , by Daniella Cheslow, NPR, June 16, 2019] Congressman Adam Schiff, one of the president's most fervent opponents, agrees Iran is to blame [ Schiff agrees with Trump: 'No question' Iran attacked oil tankers , by Ronn Blitzer, Fox News, June 16, 2019], Senator Tom Cotton (who has a relatively strong immigration policy ) has gone so far as to call for direct military action. [ Senator Tom Cotton Calls For 'Retaliatory Military Strike,' Against Iran After Tanker Attacks, by Benjamin Fearnow, Newsweek, June 16, 2019]

Why Iran would do this is questionable, unless it's just a move of desperation.

But did Iran actually do it? Washington has a credibility gap with the rest of the world and its own people thanks to the disaster of the Iraq War . There were, it turned out, no "Weapons of Mass Destruction." So now many Americans openly question whether Iran attacked these tankers. This includes some MSM reporters who trusted the "intelligence community" when it was attacking Trump but now want an "international investigation of the incident". [ Ben Rhodes, CNN, And Others Purposefully Fuel Pro-Iranian "False Flag Conspiracy Theories After Tanker Attacks , RedState, June 14, 2019]

This is not the same country that re-elected George W. Bush in 2004. The trust in institutions is gone; America is war-weary.

And regardless of who did it, who cares? What American interest is at stake? The Iraq War made the region more unstable ; an Iran War would unleash sectarian warfare all over again. [ Attacking Iran Would Unleash Chaos on the Middle East , by Robert Gaines and Scott Horton, National Interest, June 15, 2019]

We can't even say it's "about the oil" -- the United States is now the world's biggest oil producer and may soon be the world's top exporter [ US will soon threaten to topple Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil exporter: IEA by Tom DiChristopher, CNBC, March 11, 2019]. Who cares about Iran's oil?

There is also a deeper fundamental question. Our country is crumbling. The border is non-existent; entire communities are being overrun. There's something perverse about even entertaining a dangerous and costly military intervention halfway around the world. It's akin to a Roman emperor declaring he will conquer India while barbarians are crossing the Rhine.

President Trump ran on a policy of non-intervention and promised it even after being elected. [ Trump lays out non-interventionist U.S. military policy , by Steve Holland, Reuters, December 6, 2016] He repeatedly pushed back against efforts to get more deeply involved in Syria. He must now resist efforts to get involved in Iran, especially from those who may hint it will win him re-election.

[Jun 18, 2019] Can the US launch a war without a Secratary of Defence in place? W>ell, they are not exactly planning to defend themselves.

Jun 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Norwegian , Jun 18, 2019 3:52:24 PM | 14

Purely euphemistic of course, though it actually did used to be called the Department of War.

Norwegian , Jun 18, 2019 3:52:24 PM | 15

It is unlikely that the U.S. would launch a war without a Secretary of Defense in place.

Well, they are not exactly planning to defend themselves.

[Jun 18, 2019] Have the neoliberal ruling elite gotten lazy or stupid

Notable quotes:
"... The Gulf of Credibility - I really cannot begin to fathom how stupid you would have to be to believe that Iran would attack a Japanese oil tanker at the very moment that the Japanese Prime Minister was sitting down to friendly, US-disapproved talks in https://t.co/P1wE1Y886i ..."
"... When the ruling elite wanted a war with Iraq they invented incubator babies and WMD programs that didn't exist. Their inventions were far fetched, but not unbelievable. However, the idea that the paranoid dictator Saddam was just going to hand over his most powerful weapons to religious fanatics that hated his guts, was laughably stupid. ..."
"... When the ruling elite wanted a war with Libya they invented a genocidal, Viagra-fueled, rape army. Their invention was far fetched, and bit lazy, but you could be forgiven for believing that the Mandarins believed it. ..."
"... This latest anti-Iran warmongering is just plain stupid. It's as if they don't really care if anyone believes the lies they are telling. For starters, look at the shameless liar who is telling these lies. ..."
"... Looking at this incident/narrative from any/every angle leaves one to conclude "false flag". ..."
"... As for the "most obvious culprit is usually responsible for the crime" that also happens to be "bazaar-level conspiracy theories involving a false-flag operation by Israel's Mossad". Because Mossad actually does that. ..."
"... If El Trumpo was going to drain the swamp, why did he take these cretins, Bolton, Pompeo, Haspel, Abrams into his cabinet? Is the tail, wagging the dog as usual? ..."
"... The elite are both lazy and stupid. Even the Orange Man will not be sucked into another Douma style false flag operation. The reasons why this is a basic false flag is obvious. If anybody reading about this doesn't understand the culprits responsible weren't Iranian, then they should be interviewed for mental competency. ..."
"... But Pompous Mike and Bolt-on Bolt-off need to be removed from any semblance of governmental authority. I could go on but this whole affair is making me tired...I'm going back to my swamp. ..."
Jun 14, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

gjohnsit on Fri, 06/14/2019 - 5:42pm

The Gulf of Credibility - I really cannot begin to fathom how stupid you would have to be to believe that Iran would attack a Japanese oil tanker at the very moment that the Japanese Prime Minister was sitting down to friendly, US-disapproved talks in https://t.co/P1wE1Y886i

-- Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) June 14, 2019

When the ruling elite wanted a war with Iraq they invented incubator babies and WMD programs that didn't exist. Their inventions were far fetched, but not unbelievable. However, the idea that the paranoid dictator Saddam was just going to hand over his most powerful weapons to religious fanatics that hated his guts, was laughably stupid.

When the ruling elite wanted a war with Libya they invented a genocidal, Viagra-fueled, rape army. Their invention was far fetched, and bit lazy, but you could be forgiven for believing that the Mandarins believed it.

This latest anti-Iran warmongering is just plain stupid. It's as if they don't really care if anyone believes the lies they are telling. For starters, look at the shameless liar who is telling these lies.

You mean "Mr. We Lied, We Cheated, We Stole"? What a disgraceful character... pic.twitter.com/pMtAgKaZcG

-- Brave New World (@ClubBayern) June 13, 2019

Then there are the many problems of their "proof".

Where is the video of the Iranians PLACING explosives & detonating them? Removal would be prudent by any Navy/CG. Also location of explosives is VERY high off waterline ...Weird. It's not a limpet mine, it's a demo charge. Had to be put on by fairly high boat w/ a long gaff/pole https://t.co/3qzB7TrrYv

-- Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) June 14, 2019

The distress call went out at 6 am. So, according to CENTCOM's analysis of this video, they're suggesting that 10 hours after the tanker was hit, the IRGC just casually pulled up to the tanker to remove unexploded limpet mine in broad daylight?!

-- Rosalind Rogers راز (@Rrogerian) June 14, 2019

BREAKING: Owner says Kokuka Courageous tanker crew saw "flying objects" before attack, suggesting ship wasn't damaged by mines.

-- The Associated Press (@AP) June 14, 2019

The Japanese company that owns the ship has refused to cooperate in this false flag mission.

But in remarks to Japanese media, the president of the company that owns the ship said the vessel wasn't damaged by a mine. "A mine doesn't damage a ship above sea level," said Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo, the owner and operator of the vessel. "We aren't sure exactly what hit, but it was something flying towards the ship," he said.

When the propaganda begins to fall apart and @realDonaldTrump tries to find another way to start a war to win an election. pic.twitter.com/r8Cp7BNQ7z

-- Bamboozll (@bamboozll) June 14, 2019

Looking at this incident/narrative from any/every angle leaves one to conclude "false flag".

Finally, there is the question of "why"?

What would Iran hope to accomplish by this? I found one establishment source that tried to rationalize.

Iran denied responsibility, with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif descending to bazaar-level conspiracy theories involving a false-flag operation by Israel's Mossad.

If you're not inclined to believe the Trump administration – and such skepticism is entirely reasonable – most detectives would still tell you that the most obvious culprit is usually responsible for the crime.

To those seeking logic behind the attacks, though, it may be hard to see why Iran would do this – but that assumes that the regime in Tehran is a rational actor.

The Gulf of Oman attacks are especially hard to explain: targeting Japanese shipping on the very day that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on a well-publicized peace mission would seem extraordinarily counterproductive, even for a regime with an almost fanatical commitment to self-harm.

Have you ever noticed that everyone that we want to start a war with is crazy? Regimes that stand solid for generations under hostile conditions are always run by maniacs. You'd think that insanity would prevent them from taking power in the first place, but that seems to only be true with our allies.

As for the "most obvious culprit is usually responsible for the crime" that also happens to be "bazaar-level conspiracy theories involving a false-flag operation by Israel's Mossad". Because Mossad actually does that.

Since the U.S.'s tightening of sanctions has squeezed Iranian oil exports, nobody else's should be allowed to pass through waters within reach of the IRGC.

The Iranians know that these threats, if repeated, can lose their power if not followed with action. The attacks on the tankers, then, can be explained as a demonstration that Khamenei's attack dogs have some teeth.

There is another rationale. If Iran does eventually agree to negotiate with the U.S., it will want to bring some bargaining chips to the table – something it can exchange for the removal of sanctions. In the negotiations over the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran was able to offer the suspension of its nuclear program. It doesn't have that particular chip now, although Tehran has recently threatened to crank up the centrifuges again.

Meanwhile, the regime may have calculated that the only way to secure some kind of negotiating position is blackmail: End the sanctions, or we take out some more tankers, and send oil prices surging.

This almost sounds logical, except for one thing: Iran tried that in 1988 and it didn't work. It only caused the one thing the U.S. was itching for: to kill some Iranians.
Do you think that they've forgotten? Or that the U.S. is less warlike? Oh wait. Iranians are crazy and can't be reasoned with, amirite?

US public radio @NPR does not mention it was Iranians who saved the crew. That's how terrible they are at journalism

-- boomerWithaLandline (@Irene34799239) June 14, 2019

The only real question is, why such a transparent lie? Has the ruling elite gotten lazy or stupid? Or do they think that we are that lazy and stupid? I have an alternative theory .

For the last two years, as you've probably noticed, the corporate media have been not so subtly alternating between manufacturing Russia hysteria and Nazi hysteria, and sometimes whipping up both at once. Thus, I've dubbed the new Official Enemy of Freedom "the Putin-Nazis." They don't really make any sense, rationally, but let's not get all hung up on that. Official enemies don't have to make sense. The important thing is, they're coming to get us, and to kill the Jews and destroy democracy and something about Stalin, if memory serves. Putin is their leader, of course. Trump is his diabolical puppet. Julian Assange is well, Goebbels, or something. Glenn Greenwald is also on the payroll, as are countless "useful idiots" like myself, whose job it is to sow division, discord, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-capitalism, anti-Hillaryism, collusion rejectionism, ontological skepticism, and any other horrible thing you can think of.

Their bullsh*t lies have gotten lazy and stupid because real effort isn't required to start a war and kill a lot of people.

WoodsDweller on Fri, 06/14/2019 - 6:18pm

I'm going to go with "desperate"

Something's happening to move up the time table, and it isn't the election, we're already in plenty of wars, another one won't help El Trumpo.

Sirena on Fri, 06/14/2019 - 6:31pm
Who is playing who?

That is the question, I ask thee? If El Trumpo was going to drain the swamp, why did he take these cretins, Bolton, Pompeo, Haspel, Abrams into his cabinet? Is the tail, wagging the dog as usual?

TheOtherMaven on Fri, 06/14/2019 - 6:31pm
All of the above

Lazy, stupid, and desperate.

Alligator Ed on Fri, 06/14/2019 - 6:33pm
The answer to your title is YES

The elite are both lazy and stupid. Even the Orange Man will not be sucked into another Douma style false flag operation. The reasons why this is a basic false flag is obvious. If anybody reading about this doesn't understand the culprits responsible weren't Iranian, then they should be interviewed for mental competency.

My money, the little that I have, is on either the Saudis or the Israelis; maybe even both.

But Pompous Mike and Bolt-on Bolt-off need to be removed from any semblance of governmental authority. I could go on but this whole affair is making me tired...I'm going back to my swamp.

[Jun 18, 2019] The people in the USA are as good as anywhere, but only as trained as their culture tells them to be. Perhaps the future holds some spark of brightness for the people.

Apr 18, 2019 | thesaker.is

Grieved on April 17, 2019 , · at 1:36 am EST/EDT

... ... ..

The US was always the way Orlov describes its future. It only ever belonged to those who could keep their heads above water. You go under, and you're gone forever, and very quickly forgotten. I don't recommend it as a social system, but that's the system.

But the people, within that system. the people are great people, with remarkable moral fiber, in situations they understand. Those who are breathing air and not water can rightfully enjoy the company of these others, even though many of those others might lately be breathing an air-water mixture – and perhaps even oneself.

It's a poignant thing, these United States. The people are as good as anywhere, but only as trained as their culture tells them to be. Perhaps the future holds some spark of brightness for the people. They were always a transcendent bunch, actually, in a culture founded on spiritual independence – despite all the overlay of consumerist crap. Somehow they uniquely evolved the means of ignoring that crap – playing the TV in the background, for example, while reading college studies – in order to live decent lives.

It's possible this long-remote karma of spiritual longing might still hold some embers. Perhaps the people of the US might rediscover the power of sincere prayer? The power of sincerity? Time alone will tell.

[Jun 18, 2019] How to manipulate financial markets by Igor Kuchma

Notable quotes:
"... The question that must be raised is who gains what from these incidents. Let's start from saying that even if Tehran had nothing to do with these attacks, it will still suffer the consequences. It is enough to recall the Gulf of Tonkin incident that took place in August 1964. Back then, a US-staged false flag initiated full-scale conflict in Southeast Asia. ..."
Jun 18, 2019 | www.asiatimes.com
There have always been people who have tried to gain power and control. The only distinction was the mechanism through which they planned to achieve it: brute force or something more original. For example, researchers manipulate data to attain the results they want, while traders try to manipulate and influence market prices by disseminating erroneous information. Some go even further by conducting so-called "false flag" and "fake news" operations.

However, it is a gradual process. First, the technique of misinformation is implemented – as you may remember, in 2016, the Internet was filled with fake news aimed at distorting public opinion and helping one of the candidates to become president of the United States of America. This year, intelligence agencies and non-government entities have decided to use similar ploys to influence oil prices.

According to Wikipedia, a false flag is "intentional misrepresentation or covert operation designed to deceive; the deception creates the appearance of a particular party, group, or nation being responsible for some activity, disguising the actual source of responsibility." Recently it became popular for countries to "organize attacks on themselves and make the attacks appear to be by enemy nations or terrorists, thus giving the nation that was supposedly attacked a pretext for domestic repression and foreign military or economic aggression."

Recently there were news report that two oil tankers had been damaged in a suspected attack in the waters between the United Arab Emirates and Iran as they were leaving the Persian Gulf. And predictably, the United States claimed that Iran was responsible for damaging the vessels in the Gulf of Oman. This was the second such incident in four weeks.

The question that must be raised is who gains what from these incidents. Let's start from saying that even if Tehran had nothing to do with these attacks, it will still suffer the consequences. It is enough to recall the Gulf of Tonkin incident that took place in August 1964. Back then, a US-staged false flag initiated full-scale conflict in Southeast Asia.

Iran has already accused the US of lying about a "torpedo attack" on an American-linked oil tanker. "The US and its regional allies must stop warmongering and put an end to mischievous plots and false-flag operations in the region," Iran's mission to the United Nations said .

As history has shown, the Americans won't back down. Does it mean that Iran is next on its target list for war? Only time will tell.

Nevertheless, without waiting for the results of an investigation, Brent prices spiked after the reports of the attacks on tankers leaving the Persian Gulf.

The Brent crude quote won 4.45% on Thursday, shortly after news of the attacks broke, but it has since slightly decreased, or, should we say, corrected. Without any doubt, someone managed to put up a really good million-dollar front.

[Jun 18, 2019] The American Cult of Bombing and Endless War

Notable quotes:
"... Its political benefit: minimizing the number of U.S. "boots on the ground" and so American casualties in the never-ending war on terror, as well as any public outcry about Washington's many conflicts. ..."
"... Its economic benefit: plenty of high-profit business for weapons makers for whom the president can now declare a national security emergency whenever he likes and so sell their warplanes and munitions to preferred dictatorships in the Middle East (no congressional approval required). ..."
"... Think of all this as a cult of bombing on a global scale. America's wars are increasingly waged from the air, not on the ground, a reality that makes the prospect of ending them ever more daunting. The question is: What's driving this process? ..."
"... In a bizarre fashion, you might even say that, in the twenty-first century, the bomb and missile count replaced the Vietnam-era body count as a metric of (false) progress . Using data supplied by the U.S. military, the Council on Foreign Relations estimated that the U.S. dropped at least 26,172 bombs in seven countries in 2016, the bulk of them in Iraq and Syria. Against Raqqa alone, ISIS's "capital," the U.S. and its allies dropped more than 20,000 bombs in 2017, reducing that provincial Syrian city to literal rubble . Combined with artillery fire, the bombing of Raqqa killed more than 1,600 civilians, according to Amnesty International . ..."
"... U.S. air campaigns today, deadly as they are, pale in comparison to past ones like the Tokyo firebombing of 1945, which killed more than 100,000 civilians; the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki later that year (roughly 250,000); the death toll against German civilians in World War II (at least 600,000); or civilians in the Vietnam War. (Estimates vary, but when napalm and the long-term effects of cluster munitions and defoliants like Agent Orange are added to conventional high-explosive bombs, the death toll in Southeast Asia may well have exceeded one million.) ..."
"... the U.S. may control the air, but that dominance simply hasn't led to ultimate success. In the case of Afghanistan, weapons like the Mother of All Bombs, or MOAB (the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. military's arsenal), have been celebrated as game changers even when they change nothing. (Indeed, the Taliban only continues to grow stronger , as does the branch of the Islamic State in Afghanistan.) As is often the case when it comes to U.S. air power, such destruction leads neither to victory, nor closure of any sort; only to yet more destruction. ..."
"... Just because U.S. warplanes and drones can strike almost anywhere on the globe with relative impunity doesn't mean that they should. Given the history of air power since World War II, ease of access should never be mistaken for efficacious results. ..."
"... Bombing alone will never be the key to victory. If that were true, the U.S. would have easily won in Korea and Vietnam, as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq. ..."
"... Despite total air supremacy, the recent Iraq War was a disaster even as the Afghan War staggers on into its 18th catastrophic year. ..."
"... No matter how much it's advertised as "precise," "discriminate," and "measured," bombing (or using missiles like the Tomahawk ) rarely is. The deaths of innocents are guaranteed. Air power and those deaths are joined at the hip, while such killings only generate anger and blowback, thereby prolonging the wars they are meant to end. ..."
"... A paradox emerges from almost 18 years of the war on terror: the imprecision of air power only leads to repetitious cycles of violence and, even when air strikes prove precise, there always turn out to be fresh targets, fresh terrorists, fresh insurgents to strike. ..."
"... Using air power to send political messages about resolve or seriousness rarely works. If it did, the U.S. would have swept to victory in Vietnam. In Lyndon Johnson's presidency, for instance, Operation Rolling Thunder (1965-1968), a graduated campaign of bombing, was meant to, but didn't, convince the North Vietnamese to give up their goal of expelling the foreign invaders -- us -- from South Vietnam. ..."
"... Air power is enormously expensive. Spending on aircraft, helicopters, and their munitions accounted for roughly half the cost of the Vietnam War. ..."
"... Aerial surveillance (as with drones), while useful, can also be misleading. Command of the high ground is not synonymous with god-like "total situational awareness ." ..."
"... Air power is inherently offensive. That means it's more consistent with imperial power projection than with national defense ..."
"... Despite the fantasies of those sending out the planes, air power often lengthens wars rather than shortening them. ..."
"... Air power, even of the shock-and-awe variety, loses its impact over time. The enemy, lacking it, nonetheless learns to adapt by developing countermeasures -- both active (like missiles) and passive (like camouflage and dispersion), even as those being bombed become more resilient and resolute. ..."
"... Pounding peasants from two miles up is not exactly an ideal way to occupy the moral high ground in war. ..."
"... all the happy talk about the techno-wonders of modern air power obscures its darker facets, especially its ability to lock America into what are effectively one-way wars with dead-end results. ..."
"... War's inherent nature -- its unpredictability, horrors, and tendency to outlast its original causes and goals -- isn't changed when the bombs and missiles are guided by GPS. Washington's enemies in its war on terror, moreover, have learned to adapt to air power in a grimly Darwinian fashion and have the advantage of fighting on their own turf. ..."
Jun 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by William Astore via TomDispatch.com,

The American Cult of Bombing and Endless War

From Syria to Yemen in the Middle East, Libya to Somalia in Africa, Afghanistan to Pakistan in South Asia, an American aerial curtain has descended across a huge swath of the planet. Its stated purpose: combatting terrorism. Its primary method: constant surveillance and bombing -- and yet more bombing.

Its political benefit: minimizing the number of U.S. "boots on the ground" and so American casualties in the never-ending war on terror, as well as any public outcry about Washington's many conflicts.

Its economic benefit: plenty of high-profit business for weapons makers for whom the president can now declare a national security emergency whenever he likes and so sell their warplanes and munitions to preferred dictatorships in the Middle East (no congressional approval required).

Its reality for various foreign peoples: a steady diet of " Made in USA " bombs and missiles bursting here, there, and everywhere.

Think of all this as a cult of bombing on a global scale. America's wars are increasingly waged from the air, not on the ground, a reality that makes the prospect of ending them ever more daunting. The question is: What's driving this process?

For many of America's decision-makers, air power has clearly become something of an abstraction. After all, except for the 9/11 attacks by those four hijacked commercial airliners, Americans haven't been the target of such strikes since World War II. On Washington's battlefields across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa, air power is always almost literally a one-way affair. There are no enemy air forces or significant air defenses. The skies are the exclusive property of the U.S. Air Force (and allied air forces), which means that we're no longer talking about "war" in the normal sense. No wonder Washington policymakers and military officials see it as our strong suit, our asymmetrical advantage , our way of settling scores with evildoers, real and imagined.

Bombs away!

In a bizarre fashion, you might even say that, in the twenty-first century, the bomb and missile count replaced the Vietnam-era body count as a metric of (false) progress . Using data supplied by the U.S. military, the Council on Foreign Relations estimated that the U.S. dropped at least 26,172 bombs in seven countries in 2016, the bulk of them in Iraq and Syria. Against Raqqa alone, ISIS's "capital," the U.S. and its allies dropped more than 20,000 bombs in 2017, reducing that provincial Syrian city to literal rubble . Combined with artillery fire, the bombing of Raqqa killed more than 1,600 civilians, according to Amnesty International .

Meanwhile, since Donald Trump has become president, after claiming that he would get us out of our various never-ending wars, U.S. bombing has surged, not only against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq but in Afghanistan as well. It has driven up the civilian death toll there even as "friendly" Afghan forces are sometimes mistaken for the enemy and killed , too. Air strikes from Somalia to Yemen have also been on the rise under Trump, while civilian casualties due to U.S. bombing continue to be underreported in the American media and downplayed by the Trump administration.

U.S. air campaigns today, deadly as they are, pale in comparison to past ones like the Tokyo firebombing of 1945, which killed more than 100,000 civilians; the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki later that year (roughly 250,000); the death toll against German civilians in World War II (at least 600,000); or civilians in the Vietnam War. (Estimates vary, but when napalm and the long-term effects of cluster munitions and defoliants like Agent Orange are added to conventional high-explosive bombs, the death toll in Southeast Asia may well have exceeded one million.) Today's air strikes are more limited than in those past campaigns and may be more accurate, but never confuse a 500-pound bomb with a surgeon's scalpel, even rhetorically. When " surgical " is applied to bombing in today's age of lasers, GPS, and other precision-guidance technologies, it only obscures the very real human carnage being produced by all these American-made bombs and missiles.

This country's propensity for believing that its ability to rain hellfire from the sky provides a winning methodology for its wars has proven to be a fantasy of our age. Whether in Korea in the early 1950s, Vietnam in the 1960s, or more recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, the U.S. may control the air, but that dominance simply hasn't led to ultimate success. In the case of Afghanistan, weapons like the Mother of All Bombs, or MOAB (the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. military's arsenal), have been celebrated as game changers even when they change nothing. (Indeed, the Taliban only continues to grow stronger , as does the branch of the Islamic State in Afghanistan.) As is often the case when it comes to U.S. air power, such destruction leads neither to victory, nor closure of any sort; only to yet more destruction.

Such results are contrary to the rationale for air power that I absorbed in a career spent in the U.S. Air Force. (I retired in 2005.) The fundamental tenets of air power that I learned, which are still taught today, speak of decisiveness. They promise that air power, defined as "flexible and versatile," will have "synergistic effects" with other military operations. When bombing is "concentrated," "persistent," and "executed" properly (meaning not micro-managed by know-nothing politicians), air power should be fundamental to ultimate victory. As we used to insist, putting bombs on target is really what it's all about. End of story -- and of thought.

Given the banality and vacuity of those official Air Force tenets, given the twenty-first-century history of air power gone to hell and back, and based on my own experience teaching such history and strategy in and outside the military, I'd like to offer some air power tenets of my own. These are the ones the Air Force didn't teach me, but that our leaders might consider before launching their next "decisive" air campaign.

Ten Cautionary Tenets About Air Power

1. Just because U.S. warplanes and drones can strike almost anywhere on the globe with relative impunity doesn't mean that they should. Given the history of air power since World War II, ease of access should never be mistaken for efficacious results.

2. Bombing alone will never be the key to victory. If that were true, the U.S. would have easily won in Korea and Vietnam, as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq. American air power pulverized both North Korea and Vietnam (not to speak of neighboring Laos and Cambodia ), yet the Korean War ended in a stalemate and the Vietnam War in defeat. (It tells you the world about such thinking that air power enthusiasts, reconsidering the Vietnam debacle, tend to argue the U.S. should have bombed even more -- lots more .) Despite total air supremacy, the recent Iraq War was a disaster even as the Afghan War staggers on into its 18th catastrophic year.

3. No matter how much it's advertised as "precise," "discriminate," and "measured," bombing (or using missiles like the Tomahawk ) rarely is. The deaths of innocents are guaranteed. Air power and those deaths are joined at the hip, while such killings only generate anger and blowback, thereby prolonging the wars they are meant to end.

Consider, for instance, the "decapitation" strikes launched against Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein and his top officials in the opening moments of the Bush administration's invasion of 2003. Despite the hype about that being the beginning of the most precise air campaign in all of history, 50 of those attacks, supposedly based on the best intelligence around, failed to take out Saddam or a single one of his targeted officials. They did, however, cause "dozens" of civilian deaths. Think of it as a monstrous repeat of the precision air attacks launched on Belgrade in 1999 against Slobodan Milosevic and his regime that hit the Chinese embassy instead, killing three journalists.

Here, then, is the question of the day: Why is it that, despite all the "precision" talk about it, air power so regularly proves at best a blunt instrument of destruction? As a start, intelligence is often faulty. Then bombs and missiles, even "smart" ones, do go astray. And even when U.S. forces actually kill high-value targets (HVTs), there are always more HVTs out there. A paradox emerges from almost 18 years of the war on terror: the imprecision of air power only leads to repetitious cycles of violence and, even when air strikes prove precise, there always turn out to be fresh targets, fresh terrorists, fresh insurgents to strike.

4. Using air power to send political messages about resolve or seriousness rarely works. If it did, the U.S. would have swept to victory in Vietnam. In Lyndon Johnson's presidency, for instance, Operation Rolling Thunder (1965-1968), a graduated campaign of bombing, was meant to, but didn't, convince the North Vietnamese to give up their goal of expelling the foreign invaders -- us -- from South Vietnam. Fast-forward to our era and consider recent signals sent to North Korea and Iran by the Trump administration via B-52 bomber deployments, among other military "messages." There's no evidence that either country modified its behavior significantly in the face of the menace of those baby-boomer-era airplanes.

5. Air power is enormously expensive. Spending on aircraft, helicopters, and their munitions accounted for roughly half the cost of the Vietnam War. Similarly, in the present moment, making operational and then maintaining Lockheed Martin's boondoggle of a jet fighter, the F-35, is expected to cost at least $1.45 trillion over its lifetime. The new B-21 stealth bomber will cost more than $100 billion simply to buy. Naval air wings on aircraft carriers cost billions each year to maintain and operate. These days, when the sky's the limit for the Pentagon budget, such costs may be (barely) tolerable. When the money finally begins to run out, however, the military will likely suffer a serious hangover from its wildly extravagant spending on air power.

6. Aerial surveillance (as with drones), while useful, can also be misleading. Command of the high ground is not synonymous with god-like "total situational awareness ." It can instead prove to be a kind of delusion, while war practiced in its spirit often becomes little more than an exercise in destruction. You simply can't negotiate a truce or take prisoners or foster other options when you're high above a potential battlefield and your main recourse is blowing up people and things.

7. Air power is inherently offensive. That means it's more consistent with imperial power projection than with national defense . As such, it fuels imperial ventures, while fostering the kind of " global reach, global power " thinking that has in these years had Air Force generals in its grip.

8. Despite the fantasies of those sending out the planes, air power often lengthens wars rather than shortening them. Consider Vietnam again. In the early 1960s, the Air Force argued that it alone could resolve that conflict at the lowest cost (mainly in American bodies). With enough bombs, napalm, and defoliants, victory was a sure thing and U.S. ground troops a kind of afterthought. (Initially, they were sent in mainly to protect the airfields from which those planes took off.) But bombing solved nothing and then the Army and the Marines decided that, if the Air Force couldn't win, they sure as hell could. The result was escalation and disaster that left in the dust the original vision of a war won quickly and on the cheap due to American air supremacy.

9. Air power, even of the shock-and-awe variety, loses its impact over time. The enemy, lacking it, nonetheless learns to adapt by developing countermeasures -- both active (like missiles) and passive (like camouflage and dispersion), even as those being bombed become more resilient and resolute.

10. Pounding peasants from two miles up is not exactly an ideal way to occupy the moral high ground in war.

The Road to Perdition

If I had to reduce these tenets to a single maxim, it would be this: all the happy talk about the techno-wonders of modern air power obscures its darker facets, especially its ability to lock America into what are effectively one-way wars with dead-end results.

For this reason, precision warfare is truly an oxymoron. War isn't precise. It's nasty, bloody, and murderous. War's inherent nature -- its unpredictability, horrors, and tendency to outlast its original causes and goals -- isn't changed when the bombs and missiles are guided by GPS. Washington's enemies in its war on terror, moreover, have learned to adapt to air power in a grimly Darwinian fashion and have the advantage of fighting on their own turf.

Who doesn't know the old riddle: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Here's a twenty-first-century air power variant on it: If foreign children die from American bombs but no U.S. media outlets report their deaths, will anyone grieve? Far too often, the answer here in the U.S. is no and so our wars go on into an endless future of global destruction.

In reality, this country might do better to simply ground its many fighter planes, bombers, and drones. Paradoxically, instead of gaining the high ground, they are keeping us on a low road to perdition.


Joiningupthedots , 11 minutes ago link

All off that may be true BUT.......

The myth of Tomahawk has already been dispelled

Countries with reasonable to excellent A2D2 are seriously avoided.

The solution is for Russia to sell equipment and training packages of A2D2 to any country that wants then at BE prices.

Thousands of decoys with spoof emitters and......

Planes take like 3 years to build and pilots take at least 5-6 years to train.

Do the math!

107cicero , 17 minutes ago link

From a marketing/profit perspective , BOMBS are the perfect product.

Insanely expensive, used once.

Rinse and repeat.

Theedrich , 1 hour ago link

In December of 2017, Daniel Ellsberg published a book, "The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner" . Among many other things, he revealed the actual Strangelovian nature of our military establishment. Most enlightening is his revelation that many in the high command of our nuclear triggers do not trust, or even have contempt for, civilian oversight and control of the military. They covertly regard the presidential leadership as naïve and inept, though it would be professional suicide to admit such an attitude openly.

Comes now 𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕹𝖊𝖜 𝖄𝖔𝖗𝖐 𝕿𝖎𝖒𝖊𝖘 with the revelation that the Pentagon's Cyber Command has attacked Russia's power grid with software "implants" designed to destroy that grid the instant a mouse click is given, thereby possibly initiating global war. Most alarmingly, the details of this secret action were kept from the President, lest he countermand the operation or leak it to the Russians.

So now we have a general staff that is conducting critical international military operations on its own, with no civilian input, permission or hindrances of any kind. A formula for national suicide, executed by a tiny junta of unelected officers who decide to play nuclear Russian roulette.

We seem to be ineluctably and irreversibly trapped in a state of national dementia.

He–Mene Mox Mox , 2 hours ago link

Just remember this: The U.S. had the technological advantage in Viet Nam, and blasted that country, along with Cambodia, and Laos, with 7.5 million tons of bombs, (more than the entire WWII campaign of 2.25 million tons), and the Vietnamese were still able to kick our *** out of the country by 1975.

Uskatex , 2 hours ago link

There is a 11th tenet: air force operations need airports or aircraft carriers, and these are very vulnerable to modern, high precision missiles. If the enemy has plenty of missiles, your fighters and bombers can be impeded to take off and land, or even be destroyed. Modern aircrafts need very sophisticated and working infrastructures to be operational.

In the case of a full war with Iran, I see all hostile bases and airports destroyed or damaged by Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian missiles. They have tens of thousand of them - it is 30 years they have been accumulating missiles in prevision of a possible forthcoming war.

Groundround , 44 minutes ago link

You are right. Also, there are many nations with subs and probably more countries have acquired nukes than are willing to admit. I strongly suspect Iran already has nukes. If North Korea has them, I see no reason that Iran wouldn't be even further ahead. They have been under threat of US attacks for my entire lifetime. Anyway, I would not put it past some other countries to hit US coastal cities and then deny any knowledge about who did it. There are many capable and many people have been made enemies by our foreign policy. Surely these people have treaties to help each other should be attack. And why would they make these treaties public and antagonize the US military further. I'm sure there are many well kept secrets out there. We must evolve, or the US and Israel could find it is us against the world.

Wantoknow , 3 hours ago link

War is hell. It has always been so. The failure here is that since World War II all US wars have been fatuously political. Actions have not been taken to win but to posture about moral greatness and the ability to force the enemy to deal without destroying his capacity to resist.

How can you say the US lost in Vietnam when the entire country could have been removed from the face of the Earth? Yes the price of such removal would have been very high but it could have been done. Do such considerations mean that if one withdraws one has lost?

The US won the war in the Pacific but it is now considered an excessive use of force that the US used nuclear weapons to conclude the war. Perhaps the US did not use enough force then to successfully conclude the Vietnam war? Perhaps, it failed to field the right kind of force?

The definition of lost is an interesting one. The practical answer is that the US did lose in many places because it was unwilling to pay the price of victory as publicly expressed. Yet it could have won if it paid the price.

So an interesting question for military types is to ask how to lower the price. What kind of weapons would have been needed to quickly sweep the enemy into oblivion in Vietnam let us say, given the limits of the war? Could the war have been won without ground troops and choppers but with half a million computer controlled drones armed with machine guns and grenades flying in swarms close to the ground?

The factories to produce those weapons could have been located in Thailand or Taiwan or Japan and the product shipped to Vietnam. Since only machines would be destroyed and the drones are obviously meant to substitute for ground troops then how about a million or two million of the drones in place of the half a million ground troops? Could the US, with anachronistic technology to be sure, have won the war for a price that would have been acceptable to the US?

The idea here is that one constructs an army, robot or otherwise, than can destroy the enemy it is going to fight at a price which is acceptable. This is actually a form of asymmetric warfare which requires a thorough understanding of the enemy and his capabilities. The US did not enter Vietnam with such an army but with one not meant to serve in Vietnam and whose losses would be deeply resented at home. The price of victory was too high.

But this does not mean that the US cannot win. It only means that the commitment to win in a poorly thought out war must be great enough to pay the price of victory. This may be a stupid thing to do but it does not mean that it cannot be done. One cannot assume that the US will never again show sufficient commitment to win.

wildfry , 5 hours ago link

Victory means you get to write your own ******** version of history.The most devastating civilian bombing campaign in human history is not even mentioned in this article. The US fire bombing of 30 major cities in Korea with the death toll estimated at between 1.2 million and 1.6 million. I bet most US citizens aren't even aware of this atrocity or that the military requested Truman to authorize the use of nuclear warheads which he, thankfully, declined to do.

herbivore , 5 hours ago link

What does the word "victory" mean? It means whatever the rulers want it to mean. In this case, "victory" is synonymous with prolongation and expansion of warmaking around the world. Victory does not mean an end to combat. In fact, victory, in the classic sense, means defeat, at least from the standpoint of those who profit from war. If someone were to come up with a cure for cancer, it would mean a huge defeat for the cancer industry. Millions would lose their jobs. CEO's would lose their fat pay packages. Therefore, we need to be clearheaded about this, and recognize that victory is not what you think it is.

sonoftx , 5 hours ago link

Talked with a guy recently. He is a pilot. He flies planes over Afghanistan. He is a private contractor.

The program began under the Air Force. It then was taken over by the Army. It is now a private contractor.

There are approx 400 pilots in country at a time with 3 rotations. He told me what he gets paid. $200,000 and up.

They go up with a NSA agent running the equipment in back. He state that the dumbass really does not know what the plane is capable of. They collect all video, audio, infrared, and more? (You have to sense when to stop asking questions)

I just wanted to know the logistics of the info gathered.

So, the info is gathered. The NSA officer then gets with the CIA and the State Dept to see what they can release to the end user. The end user is the SOCOM. After it has been through review then the info is released to SOCOM.

So with all of this info on "goatherders" we still cannot pinpoint and defeat the "enemy"? No. Too many avenues of profit and deceit and infighting. It will always be. May justice here and abroad win in the end.

Concentrate on the true enemies. It is not your black, or Jewish, or brown, or Muslim neighbor. It is the owners of the Fed, Dow chemical, the Rockefellers, McDonnel Douglas and on and on and on and on and on and on..............

ardent , 6 hours ago link

The ROAD to perdition passes through APARTHEID Israhell.

"It does not take a genius to figure out that the United States... has no vital interests at stake in places like Syria, Libya, Iran and Iraq. Who is driving the process and benefiting? Israel is clearly the intended beneficiary... " – Philip Giraldi, Former CIA officer.

Boogity , 6 hours ago link

As Dubya famously said they hate us for our freedoms not because we've been dropping bombs on 'em for a couple of decades.

HideTheWeenie , 6 hours ago link

Bombing and war tech looks pretty cool in movies and controlled demonstrations. On reality, it doesn't get you too far. Never has.

Boots on the ground is what wins wars and all the generals know that. So do our enemy combatants.

On the ground, your chances of dying are 5-10% of your chances of getting maimed or permanently disabled, which are pretty high.

Maybe that's why we're letting in all the illegals, so they can fight our next war(s).

[Jun 17, 2019] Averting a Disastrous War with Iran by Daniel Larison

Jun 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

There is a report that the Trump administration may be preparing an attack on Iran:

Diplomatic sources at the UN headquarters in New York revealed to Maariv that they are assessing the United States' plans to carry out a tactical assault on Iran in response to the tanker attack in the Persian Gulf on Thursday.

According to the officials, since Friday, the White House has been holding incessant discussions involving senior military commanders, Pentagon representatives and advisers to President Donald Trump.

The military action under consideration would be an aerial bombardment of an Iranian facility linked to its nuclear program, the officials further claimed.

If this report is true, that would mean that the worst of the Iran hawks in the administration are prevailing once again. The report goes on to say that "Trump himself was not enthusiastic about a military move against Iran, but lost his patience on the matter and would grant Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is pushing for action, what he wants." If that is true, that is an absurdly casual way to blunder into an unnecessary war. Trump should understand that if he takes the U.S. into a war against Iran, especially without Congressional authorization, it will consume the rest of his presidency and it should cost him his re-election. Starting an unnecessary war with Iran would go down as one of the dumbest, most reckless, illegal acts in the history of U.S. foreign policy.

Congress must make absolutely clear that the president does not have the authority to initiate hostilities against Iran. Both houses should pass a resolution this week saying as much, and they should block any funds that could be used to support such an action. There is no legal justification for attacking Iran, and if Trump approves an attack he would be violating the Constitution and should be impeached for it.

The risk of war with Iran is greater than it was six months ago, and it is much greater than it was two and a half years ago when Trump took office. The U.S. and Iran are in this dangerous position solely because of the determined efforts of Iran hawks in and around this administration to drive our country on a collision course with theirs. Those efforts accelerated significantly thirteen months ago with the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA and the reimposition of sanctions, and things have been getting steadily worse with each passing month. It is not too late to avert the collision, but it requires the U.S. to make a dramatic change in policy very soon. Since we know we can't count on the president to make the right decision, Congress and the public need to make him understand what the political price will be if he makes the wrong one.

[Jun 17, 2019] America's Legacy of Regime Change by Stephen Kinzer

Notable quotes:
"... For the United States, as for all warlike nations, military power has traditionally been the decisive factor determining whether it wins or loses its campaigns to capture or subdue other countries. World War II was the climax of that bloody history. ..."
"... It was not only the Dulles brothers, however, who brought the United States into the regime-change era in the early 1950s. Eisenhower himself was a fervent advocate of covert action. Officially his defense and security policy, which he called the "New Look," rested on two foundations, a smaller army and an increased nuclear arsenal. In reality, the "New Look" had a third foundation: covert action. Eisenhower may have been the last president to believe that no one would ever discover what he sent the CIA to do. With a soldier's commitment to keeping secrets, he never admitted that he had ordered covert regime-change operations, much less explained why he favored them. ..."
Jun 10, 2019 | www.fff.org

Covert Regime Change: America's Secret Cold War by Lindsey A. O'Rourke (Cornell University Press, 2018); 330 pages.

For most of history, seizing another country or territory was a straightforward proposition. You assembled an army and ordered it to invade. Combat determined the victor. The toll in death and suffering was usually horrific, but it was all done in the open. That is how Alexander overran Persia and how countless conquerors since have bent weaker nations to their will. Invasion is the old-fashioned way.

When the United States joined the race for empire at the end of the 19th century, that was the tactic it used. It sent a large expeditionary force to the Philippines to crush an independence movement, ultimately killing some 200,000 Filipinos. At the other end of the carnage spectrum, it seized Guam without the loss of a single life and Puerto Rico with few casualties. Every time, though, U.S. victory was the result of superior military power. In the few cases when the United States failed, as in its attempt to defend a client regime by suppressing Augusto Cesar Sandino's nationalist rebellion in Nicaragua during the 1920s and 30s, the failure was also the product of military confrontation. For the United States, as for all warlike nations, military power has traditionally been the decisive factor determining whether it wins or loses its campaigns to capture or subdue other countries. World War II was the climax of that bloody history.

After that war, however, something important changed. The United States no longer felt free to land troops on every foreign shore that was ruled by a government it disliked or considered threatening. Suddenly there was a new constraint: the Red Army. If American troops invaded a country and overthrew its government, the Soviets might respond in kind. Combat between American and Soviet forces could easily escalate into nuclear holocaust, so it had to be avoided at all costs. Yet during the Cold War, the United States remained determined to shape the world according to its liking -- perhaps more determined than ever. The United States needed a new weapon. The search led to covert action.

A news agency

During World War II the United States used a covert agency, the Office of Strategic Services, to carry out clandestine actions across Europe and Asia. As soon as the war ended, to the shock of many OSS agents, Harry Truman abolished it. He believed there was no need for such an agency during peacetime. In 1947 he changed his mind and signed the National Security Act, under which the Central Intelligence Agency was established. That marked the beginning of a new era. Covert action replaced overt action as the principal means of projecting American power around the world.

Truman later insisted that he had intended the CIA to serve as a kind of private global news service. "It was not intended as a 'Cloak & Dagger Outfit!'" he wrote. "It was intended merely as a center for keeping the President informed on what was going on in the world [not] to act as a spy organization. That was never the intention when it was organized." Nonetheless he did not hesitate to use the new CIA for covert action. Its first major campaign, aimed at influencing the 1948 Italian election to ensure that pro-American Christian Democrats would defeat their Communist rivals, was vast in scale and ultimately successful -- setting the pattern for CIA intervention in every Italian election for the next two decades. Yet Truman drew the line at covert action to overthrow governments.

The CIA's covert-action chief, Allen Dulles, twice proposed such projects. In both cases, the target he chose was a government that had inflicted harm on corporations that he and his brother, John Foster Dulles, had represented during their years as partners at the globally powerful Wall Street law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. In 1952 he proposed that the CIA overthrow President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, whose government was carrying out land reform that affected the interests of United Fruit. By one account, State Department officials "hit the roof" when they heard his proposal, and the diplomat David Bruce told him that the Department "disapproves of the entire deal." Then Dulles proposed an operation to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran, who had nationalized his country's oil industry. Secretary of State Dean Acheson flatly rejected it.

White House resistance to covert regime-change operations dissolved when Dwight Eisenhower succeeded Truman at the beginning of 1953. Part of the new administration's enthusiasm came from Allen Dulles, Washington's most relentless advocate of such operations, whom Eisenhower named to head the CIA. The fact that he named Dulles's brother as secretary of State ensured that covert operations would have all the necessary diplomatic cover from the State Department. During the Dulles brothers' long careers at Sullivan & Cromwell, they had not only learned the techniques of covert regime change but practiced them. They were masters at marshaling hidden power in the service of their corporate clients overseas. Now they could do the same with all the worldwide resources of the CIA.

It was not only the Dulles brothers, however, who brought the United States into the regime-change era in the early 1950s. Eisenhower himself was a fervent advocate of covert action. Officially his defense and security policy, which he called the "New Look," rested on two foundations, a smaller army and an increased nuclear arsenal. In reality, the "New Look" had a third foundation: covert action. Eisenhower may have been the last president to believe that no one would ever discover what he sent the CIA to do. With a soldier's commitment to keeping secrets, he never admitted that he had ordered covert regime-change operations, much less explained why he favored them. He would, however, have had at least two reasons.

Since Eisenhower had commanded Allied forces in Europe during World War II, he was aware of the role that covert operations such as breaking Nazi codes had played in the war victory -- something few other people knew at the time. That would have given him an appreciation for how important and effective such operations could be. His second reason was even more powerful. In Europe he had had the grim responsibility of sending thousands of young men out to die. That must have weighed on him. He saw covert action as a kind of peace project. After all, if the CIA could overthrow a government with the loss of just a few lives, wasn't that preferable to war? Like most Americans, Eisenhower saw a world of threats. He also understood that the threat of nuclear war made overt invasions all but unthinkable. Covert action was his answer. Within a year and a half of his inauguration, the CIA had deposed the governments of both Guatemala and Iran. It went on to other regime-change operations from Albania to Cuba to Indonesia. Successive presidents followed his lead.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States was once again free to launch direct military invasions. When it found a leader it didn't like -- such as Saddam Hussein or Muammar Qaddafi -- it deposed him not through covert action, but by returning to the approach it had used before World War II: the force of arms. Covert efforts to overthrow governments have hardly ceased, as any Iranian or Venezuelan could attest. The era when covert action was America's principal weapon in world affairs, however, is over. That makes this a good time to look back.

Metrics for covert action

Books about the Cold War heyday of covert action era are a mini-genre. Lindsey A. O'Rourke's contribution is especially valuable. Unlike many other books built around accounts of CIA plots, Covert Regime Change takes a scholarly and quantitative approach. It provides charts, graphs, and data sets. Meticulous analysis makes this not the quickest read of any book on the subject, but certainly one of the best informed. Chapters on the disastrous effort to overthrow communist rule in Eastern Europe, which cost the lives of hundreds of deceived partisans, and on the covert-action aspects of America's doomed campaign in Vietnam are especially trenchant.

O'Rourke identifies three kinds of covert operations that are aimed at securing perceived friends in power and keeping perceived enemies out: offensive operations to overthrow governments, preventive operations aimed at preserving the status quo, and hegemonic operations aimed at keeping a foreign nation subservient. From 1947 to 1989, by her count, the United States launched 64 covert regime-change operations, while using the overt tool -- war -- just six times. She traces the motivations behind these operations, the means by which they were carried out, and their effects. Her text is based on meticulous analysis of individual operations. Some other books about covert action are rip-roaring yarns. This one injects a dose of
rigorous analysis into a debate that is often based on emotion. That rigor lends credence to her conclusions:

Although these conclusions are not new, they have rarely if ever been presented as the result of such persuasive statistical evidence. Yet even this evidence seems unlikely to force a reassessment of covert action as a way to influence or depose governments. It is an American "addiction." The reasons are many and varied, but one of the simplest is that covert action seems so easy. Changing an unfriendly country's behavior through diplomacy is a long, complex, multi-faceted project. It takes careful thought and planning. Often it requires compromise. Sending the CIA to overthrow a "bad guy" is far more tempting. It's the cheap and easy way out. History shows that it often produces terrible results for both the target country and the United States. To a military and security elite as contemptuous of history as America's, however, that is no obstacle.

Although covert regime-change operations remain a major part of American foreign policy, they are not as effective as they once were. The first victims of CIA overthrows, Prime Minister Mossadegh and President Arbenz, did not understand the tools the CIA had at its disposal and so were easy targets. They were also democratic, meaning that they allowed open societies in which the press, political parties, and civic groups functioned freely -- making them easy for the CIA to penetrate. Later generations of leaders learned from their ignorance. They paid closer attention to their own security, and imposed tightly controlled regimes in which there were few independent power centers that the CIA could manipulate.

If Eisenhower could come back to life, he would see the havoc that his regime-change operations wreaked. After his overthrow of Mossadegh, Iran fell under royal dictatorship that lasted a quarter-century and was followed by decades of rule by repressive mullahs who have worked relentlessly to undermine American interests around the world. The operation he ordered in Guatemala led to a civil war that killed 200,000 people, turning a promising young democracy into a charnel house and inflicting a blow on Central America from which it has never recovered. His campaign against Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, which included the fabrication of a poison kit in a CIA laboratory, helped turn that country into one of the most violent places on Earth.

How would Eisenhower respond to the long-term disasters that followed his covert action victories? He might well have come up with a highly convincing way to excuse himself. It's now clear, he could argue, that covert action to overthrow governments usually has terrible long-term results -- but that was not clear in the 1950s. Eisenhower had no way of knowing that even covert regime-change operations that seem successful at the time could have devastating results decades later.

We today, however, do know that. The careful analysis that is at the center of Covert Regime Change makes clearer than ever that when America sets out to change the world covertly, it usually does more harm than good -- to itself as well as others. O'Rourke contributes to the growing body of literature that clearly explains this sad fact of geopolitics. The intellectual leadership for a national movement against regime-change operations -- overt or covert -- is coalescing. The next step is to take this growing body of knowledge into the political arena. Washington remains the province of those who believe not only that the United States should try to reconfigure the world into an immense American sphere of influence, but that that is an achievable goal. In the Beltway morass of pro-intervention think tanks, members of Congress, and op-ed columnists, America's role in the world is usually not up for debate. Now, as a presidential campaign unfolds and intriguing new currents surge through the American body politic, is an ideal moment for that debate to re-emerge. If it does, we may be surprised to see how many voters are ready to abandon the dogma of regime change and wonder, with George Washington, "Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?"

This article was originally published in the June 2019 edition of Future of Freedom .


This post was written by: Stephen Kinzer Stephen Kinzer is an author and newspaper reporter. He is a veteran New York Times correspondent who has reported from more than 50 countries on five continents. His books include "Overthrow" and "All the Shah's Men".

[Jun 16, 2019] When false information is specifically political in nature, part of our political identity, it becomes almost impossible to correct lies.

Jun 16, 2019 | www.politico.com

Leda Cosmides at the University of California, Santa Barbara, points to her work with her colleague John Tooby on the use of outrage to mobilize people: "The campaign was more about outrage than about policies," she says. And when a politician can create a sense of moral outrage, truth ceases to matter. People will go along with the emotion, support the cause and retrench into their own core group identities. The actual substance stops being of any relevance.

Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth University who studies false beliefs, has found that when false information is specifically political in nature, part of our political identity, it becomes almost impossible to correct lies.

... ... ...

As the 19th-century Scottish philosopher Alexander Bain put it, “The great master fallacy of the human mind is believing too much.” False beliefs, once established, are incredibly tricky to correct. A leader who lies constantly creates a new landscape, and a citizenry whose sense of reality may end up swaying far more than they think possible.

[Jun 16, 2019] Cult of the Irrelevant -- National Security Eggheads Academics

Jun 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

It also explains the rise of think tanks, which are more pliant than academics but provide similar marketing support. As Benjamin Friedman and I wrote in a 2015 article on the subject, think tanks undertake research with an operational mindset: that is, "the approach of a passenger riding shotgun who studies the map to find the ideal route, adjusts the engine if need be, and always accepts the destination without protest."

As former senator Olympia Snowe once put it, "you can find a think tank to buttress any view or position, and then you give it the aura of legitimacy and credibility by referring to their report." Or consider the view of Rory Stewart, now a member of parliament in the UK, but once an expert on Afghanistan who was consulted on the Afghan surge but opposed it:

It's like they're coming in and saying to you, "I'm going to drive my car off a cliff. Should I or should I not wear a seatbelt?" And you say, "I don't think you should drive your car off the cliff." And they say, "No, no, that bit's already been decided -- the question is whether to wear a seatbelt." And you say, "Well, you might as well wear a seatbelt." And then they say, "We've consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart, and he says "

Or look at how policymakers themselves define relevance. Stephen Krasner, an academic who became a policymaker, lamented the uselessness of much academic security studies literature because "[e]ven the most convincing empirical findings may be of no practical use because they do not include factors that policy makers can manipulate."

The explicit claim here is that for scholarship to be of any practical use, it must include factors that policymakers can manipulate. This reflects a strong bias toward action, even in relatively restrained presidencies.

To take two recent examples, the Obama administration blew past voluminous academic literature suggesting the Libya intervention was likely to disappoint. President Barack Obama himself asked the CIA to analyze success in arming insurgencies before making a decision over what to do in Syria. The CIA replied with a study showing that arming and financing insurgencies rarely works. Shortly thereafter, Obama launched a billion-dollar effort to arm and finance insurgents in Syria.

♦♦♦

As Desch tracks the influence of scholars on foreign policy across the 20th century, a pattern becomes clear: where scholars agree with policy, they are relevant. Where they do not, they are not.

In several of the cases Desch identifies where scholars disagreed with policy, they were right and the policymakers were tragically, awfully wrong. In the instances where scholars differed with policy at high levels, Desch blames their "unrealistic expectations" for causing "wartime social scientists to overlook the more modest, but real, contribution they actually made" to policy. But why would we want scholars to trim their sails in this way? And why should social scientists want to be junior partners in doomed enterprises?

Social scientists have produced reams of qualitative and historically focused research with direct relevance to policy. They publish blog posts, tweets, excerpts, op-eds, and video encapsulations of their work. The only thing left for them to do is to convey their findings via interpretive dance, and a plan for doing that is probably in the works already. In the meantime, it should be simultaneously heartening and discouraging for policy-inclined scholars to realize that It's Not Us, It's Them.

In a country as powerful and secure as the United States, elites can make policy built on shaky foundations. Eventually, the whole thing may collapse. Scholars should focus on pointing out these fundamental flaws -- and thinking about how they might help rebuild.

Justin Logan is director of programs and a research associate at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at Catholic University.


Oleg Gark June 11, 2019 at 9:03 pm

[Karl Rove] said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' [ ] 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do'.

Experts, shmexperts! Who needs realism when you're creating your own reality.

EliteCommInc. , says: June 12, 2019 at 3:56 am
I was thinking -- the academics involved in policy are in think tanks and then

"It also explains the rise of think tanks, which are more pliant than academics but provide similar marketing support."

but what I found intriguing is the assessment concerning most of the research being faulty or dead wrong in various ways.

Given that and the real world success of the think tank players who develop foreign policy Dr. Desch should consider the matter a wash --

Those on the field aren't scoring any big points. in fact they seem intend on handing the ball over to the opposing team repeatedly.

trying to predict and then replicate human behavior is a very dicey proposition.

enjoyed the reference to the ongoing debate quantative analysis verses qualitative.

EliteCommInc. , says: June 12, 2019 at 4:05 am
Sadly when the numbers quantative research ruled they could really be abusive in stating what the data meant.

Nowhere is this more evident than with crime stats.

polistra , says: June 12, 2019 at 8:23 am
Excellent article.

Another question occurs to me: Who are the executives or politicians trying to impress when they bring in captive consultants or scholars? Ordinary people (customers or voters) don't care. Customers just want a good product, and voters just want sane policies.

Competing leaders know the game and don't bother to listen.

So who's the audience for the "thinkers"?

JohnT , says: June 12, 2019 at 9:01 am
In so much of the world's leadership today it is not science that is being ignored and corrupted so much as rational thought and a personal insight mature enough to find indisputable the need for the opinion of others.
But, to this post's point, I once had a statistician with a doctorate in his profession casually state their numbers predicted Stalin would fail. In response, my thought was when in the history of the known galaxy did putting a soulless person in charge ever not fail? Compassion alone would predict that outcome.
Taras 77 , says: June 12, 2019 at 12:14 pm
The absolute most corrupting influence in current foreign policy discussion is the growth of the mis-named growth of "think" tanks. One can discern immediately the message when determining author and organization.

Moar war, russia, iran, et al are threats, moar military spending, support israel at all costs, etc, etc.

These 'think' tanks are extremely well funded by oligarchs and foreign money so the bottom line is directed towards pre-selected objectives. Even the state dept is getting into the act to atk pro-Iran activists.

Where is the level playing field?

Kouros , says: June 12, 2019 at 3:20 pm
While the academics might be deemed irrelevant when views differ, the government in-house analysts might even loose their jobs if their positions differ from those of the decision makers. I know I lost mine, and it wasn't even in foreign policy or national security
Christian J Chuba , says: June 13, 2019 at 7:13 am
It's the mentality of forever war that considers diversity subversive.

The purpose of Think Tanks and foreign policy experts (misnamed) is to rally the troops against our enemies list, not to improve our interaction with the rest of the world but to defeat them. To them, it is always WW2. Yemen must die because we can connect them to Iran; they are Dresden.

BTW I know the author was talking about actual experts. They have all been purged and dismissed as Arabist or enemy sympathizers. Track records don't matter, to them we are at war and will always be so.

C. L. H. Daniels , says: June 13, 2019 at 1:26 pm
President Barack Obama himself asked the CIA to analyze success in arming insurgencies before making a decision over what to do in Syria. The CIA replied with a study showing that arming and financing insurgencies rarely works. Shortly thereafter, Obama launched a billion-dollar effort to arm and finance insurgents in Syria.

*Silently screams in frustration*

And this is why I ended up ultimately disappointed with Obama. The man was utterly incapable of standing up to what passes for conventional wisdom inside the Beltway. "Hope and change," my butt. The hoped for change never did arrive in the end.

Say what you will about Trump, he surely doesn't give a flying fart about wisdom, conventional or otherwise. Instead of driving the car off a cliff, he just sets it on fire from the get go to save on gas.

Dr. Diprospan , says: June 14, 2019 at 4:06 pm
I liked the article.
A good reminder that if people did not heed the divine warning in Paradise,
but chose the disastrous advice of the serpent, then what can we expect
from modern politicians? Wrong, dangerous behavior seems to be inherent
in the human mentality, otherwise who would smelt metals, descend into mines,
discover America, study radiation?
Cult of the Irrelevant reminds me of the 80 and 20 statistical, empirical principle,
where out of 100 things, articles, words, recommendations, 20% are useful,
80% are useless. However for 20 useful percent to form, you need a statistical
pressure of 80 useless.
"Practice is the criterion of truth." Having eaten the forbidden apple, people were driven out of paradise, but instead they learned to distinguish between good and evil.
Without this property, it would be impossible to recognize "the effective treatments"significantly exaggerated by dishonest pharmacologists..

[Jun 15, 2019] U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia s Power Grid by David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth

Comments published by NYT draw a very sad picture of paranoid, brainwashed society. Very few critical comments (less then a dozen), while number of jingoistic and otherwise stupid comments is in the hundreds). This is very sad, if not tragic.
Petty CIA-controlled provocateurs from Grey Prostitute. Hacking national grid means war.. Bolton needs to be fired for jingoism and stupidity.
I am pretty sure that two of those warmongering neocons David E. Sanger Nicole Perlroth ( MadCow disease.
Do those two presstitutes and their handlers accurately calculated possible reaction from Moscow on such "revelations"?
From comments: "It is horrible to think that we have our of control counterintelligence agencies with their own agenda operating as independent forces capable of dragging the country into international conflict "
From comments: "Aggressive malware intrusions into foreign countries' sensitive (and sovereign) computer systems is now seen as a standard security procedure. "Gunboat diplomacy" is not an apt metaphor, as gunboats remained at discreet distances from borders. Our cyber policy is more akin to placing bombs in the public squares of foreign cities with threats to detonate. "
Notable quotes:
"... But in a public appearance on Tuesday, President Trump's national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the United States was now taking a broader view of potential digital targets as part of an effort "to say to Russia, or anybody else that's engaged in cyberoperations against us, 'You will pay a price.'" ..."
"... Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place "implants" -- software code that can be used for surveillance or attack -- inside the Russian grid. ..."
"... Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction -- and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister. ..."
"... The intent of the operations was described in different ways by several current and former national security officials. Some called it "signaling" Russia, a sort of digital shot across the bow. Others said the moves were intended to position the United States to respond if Mr. Putin became more aggressive. ..."
"... Already, such attacks figure in the military plans of many nations. In a previous post, General Nakasone had been deeply involved in designing an operation code-named Nitro Zeus that amounted to a war plan to unplug Iran if the United States entered into hostilities with the country. ..."
"... How Mr. Putin's government is reacting to the more aggressive American posture described by Mr. Bolton is still unclear. "It's 21st-century gunboat diplomacy," said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas, who has written extensively about the shifting legal basis for digital operations. "We're showing the adversary we can inflict serious costs without actually doing much. We used to park ships within sight of the shore. Now, perhaps, we get access to key systems like the electric grid." ..."
"... successful attack on Iranian centrifuges as one example ..."
"... Not willing to discuss it with the President but happy to chat about it with reporters..? ..."
"... This scenario sounds like something straight out of Dr, Strangelove. All sides and all actors need to realize that this is a no win game, with the very real possibility of serious harm to the lives and livelihoods of millions of people hanging in the balance. ..."
"... It's a macho power game that can easily escalate into unintended and out-of-control consequences. As with prior successful nuclear test ban negotiations & treaties we need to step back and consider what's truly in the long-term national interests of all concerned. The citizens of all the countries involved are not pawns to be played with like disposable chess pieces, in a power game with no real winners. ..."
"... This turn of events is truly disturbing, as it presents the seriousness, now, of how cyberwar is more likely a prelude to actual war ..."
"... Restated, the Commander In Chief is not briefed on military operations for fear of betrayal. I feel like I'm going nuts. Someone please tell me what is going on in this country! ..."
Jun 15, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

WASHINGTON -- The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia's electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.

In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia's grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow's disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.

Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue, after years of public warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. that Russia has inserted malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, or water supplies in any future conflict with the United States.

But it also carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow. Advertisement

The administration declined to describe specific actions it was taking under the new authorities, which were granted separately by the White House and Congress last year to United States Cyber Command, the arm of the Pentagon that runs the military's offensive and defensive operations in the online world.

But in a public appearance on Tuesday, President Trump's national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the United States was now taking a broader view of potential digital targets as part of an effort "to say to Russia, or anybody else that's engaged in cyberoperations against us, 'You will pay a price.'"

Power grids have been a low-intensity battleground for years. Since at least 2012, current and former officials say, the United States has put reconnaissance probes into the control systems of the Russian electric grid. But now the American strategy has shifted more toward offense, officials say, with the placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before. It is intended partly as a warning, and partly to be poised to conduct cyberstrikes if a major conflict broke out between Washington and Moscow.

The commander of United States Cyber Command, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, has been outspoken about the need to "defend forward" deep in an adversary's networks to demonstrate that the United States will respond to the barrage of online attacks aimed at it. President Trump's national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the United States was taking a broader view of potential digital targets as part of an effort to warn anybody "engaged in cyberoperations against us." Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Image
President Trump's national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the United States was taking a broader view of potential digital targets as part of an effort to warn anybody "engaged in cyberoperations against us." Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

"They don't fear us," he told the Senate a year ago during his confirmation hearings.

But finding ways to calibrate those responses so that they deter attacks without inciting a dangerous escalation has been the source of constant debate.

Mr. Trump issued new authorities to Cyber Command last summer, in a still-classified document known as National Security Presidential Memoranda 13, giving General Nakasone far more leeway to conduct offensive online operations without receiving presidential approval.

But the action inside the Russian electric grid appears to have been conducted under little-noticed new legal authorities, slipped into the military authorization bill passed by Congress last summer. The measure approved the routine conduct of "clandestine military activity" in cyberspace, to "deter, safeguard or defend against attacks or malicious cyberactivities against the United States."

Under the law, those actions can now be authorized by the defense secretary without special presidential approval.

"It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year," one senior intelligence official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity but declining to discuss any specific classified programs. "We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago."

The critical question -- impossible to know without access to the classified details of the operation -- is how deep into the Russian grid the United States has bored. Only then will it be clear whether it would be possible to plunge Russia into darkness or cripple its military -- a question that may not be answerable until the code is activated. Sign Up for On Politics With Lisa Lerer

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Both General Nakasone and Mr. Bolton, through spokesmen, declined to answer questions about the incursions into Russia's grid. Officials at the National Security Council also declined to comment but said they had no national security concerns about the details of The New York Times's reporting about the targeting of the Russian grid, perhaps an indication that some of the intrusions were intended to be noticed by the Russians.

Speaking on Tuesday at a conference sponsored by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bolton said: "We thought the response in cyberspace against electoral meddling was the highest priority last year, and so that's what we focused on. But we're now opening the aperture, broadening the areas we're prepared to act in."

He added, referring to nations targeted by American digital operations, "We will impose costs on you until you get the point." Gen. Paul Nakasone, the commander of United States Cyber Command, was given more leeway to conduct offensive online operations without obtaining presidential approval.

Gen. Paul Nakasone, the commander of United States Cyber Command, was given more leeway to conduct offensive online operations without obtaining presidential approval. Credit Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place "implants" -- software code that can be used for surveillance or attack -- inside the Russian grid.

Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction -- and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.

Because the new law defines the actions in cyberspace as akin to traditional military activity on the ground, in the air or at sea, no such briefing would be necessary, they added.

The intent of the operations was described in different ways by several current and former national security officials. Some called it "signaling" Russia, a sort of digital shot across the bow. Others said the moves were intended to position the United States to respond if Mr. Putin became more aggressive.

So far, there is no evidence that the United States has actually turned off the power in any of the efforts to establish what American officials call a "persistent presence" inside Russian networks, just as the Russians have not turned off power in the United States. But the placement of malicious code inside both systems revives the question of whether a nation's power grid -- or other critical infrastructure that keeps homes, factories, and hospitals running -- constitutes a legitimate target for online attack.

Already, such attacks figure in the military plans of many nations. In a previous post, General Nakasone had been deeply involved in designing an operation code-named Nitro Zeus that amounted to a war plan to unplug Iran if the United States entered into hostilities with the country.

How Mr. Putin's government is reacting to the more aggressive American posture described by Mr. Bolton is still unclear. "It's 21st-century gunboat diplomacy," said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas, who has written extensively about the shifting legal basis for digital operations. "We're showing the adversary we can inflict serious costs without actually doing much. We used to park ships within sight of the shore. Now, perhaps, we get access to key systems like the electric grid."

Russian intrusion on American infrastructure has been the background noise of superpower competition for more than a decade.

A successful Russian breach of the Pentagon's classified communications networks in 2008 prompted the creation of what has become Cyber Command. Under President Barack Obama, the attacks accelerated. But Mr. Obama was reluctant to respond to such aggression by Russia with counterattacks, partly for fear that the United States' infrastructure was more vulnerable than Moscow's and partly because intelligence officials worried that by responding in kind, the Pentagon would expose some of its best weaponry.

At the end of Mr. Obama's first term, government officials began uncovering a Russian hacking group, alternately known to private security researchers as Energetic Bear or Dragonfly. But the assumption was that the Russians were conducting surveillance, and would stop well short of actual disruption.

That assumption evaporated in 2014, two former officials said, when the same Russian hacking outfit compromised the software updates that reached into hundreds of systems that have access to the power switches.

"It was the first stage in long-term preparation for an attack," said John Hultquist, the director of intelligence analysis at FireEye, a security company that has tracked the group.

In December 2015, a Russian intelligence unit shut off power to hundreds of thousands of people in western Ukraine. The attack lasted only a few hours, but it was enough to sound alarms at the White House.

A team of American experts was dispatched to examine the damage, and concluded that one of the same Russian intelligence units that wreaked havoc in Ukraine had made significant inroads into the United States energy grid, according to officials and a homeland security advisory that was not published until December 2016. Advertisement

"That was the crossing of the Rubicon," said David J. Weinstein, who previously served at Cyber Command and is now chief security officer at Claroty, a security company that specializes in protecting critical infrastructure.

In late 2015, just as the breaches of the Democratic National Committee began, yet another Russian hacking unit began targeting critical American infrastructure, including the electricity grid and nuclear power plants. By 2016, the hackers were scrutinizing the systems that control the power switches at the plants. In 2012, the defense secretary at the time, Leon E. Panetta, was warned of Russia's online intrusions, but President Barack Obama was reluctant to respond to such aggression by Moscow with counterattacks. Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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In 2012, the defense secretary at the time, Leon E. Panetta, was warned of Russia's online intrusions, but President Barack Obama was reluctant to respond to such aggression by Moscow with counterattacks. Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

Until the last few months of the Obama administration, Cyber Command was largely limited to conducting surveillance operations inside Russia's networks. At a conference this year held by the Hewlett Foundation, Eric Rosenbach, a former chief of staff to the defense secretary and who is now at Harvard, cautioned that when it came to offensive operations "we don't do them that often." He added, "I can count on one hand, literally, the number of offensive operations that we did at the Department of Defense."

But after the election breaches and the power grid incursions, the Obama administration decided it had been too passive.

Mr. Obama secretly ordered some kind of message-sending action inside the Russian grid, the specifics of which have never become public. It is unclear whether much was accomplished.

"Offensive cyber is not this, like, magic cybernuke where you say, 'O.K., send in the aircraft and we drop the cybernuke over Russia tomorrow,'" Mr. Rosenbach said at the conference, declining to discuss specific operations.

After Mr. Trump's inauguration, Russian hackers kept escalating attacks.

Mr. Trump's initial cyberteam decided to be far more public in calling out Russian activity. In early 2018, it named Russia as the country responsible for " the most destructive cyberattack in human history ," which paralyzed much of Ukraine and affected American companies including Merck and FedEx.

When General Nakasone took over both Cyber Command and the N.S.A. a year ago, his staff was assessing Russian hackings on targets that included the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation , which runs a nuclear power plant near Burlington, Kan., as well as previously unreported attempts to infiltrate Nebraska Public Power District's Cooper Nuclear Station, near Brownville. The hackers got into communications networks, but never took over control systems.

In August, General Nakasone used the new authority granted to Cyber Command by the secret presidential directive to overwhelm the computer systems at Russia's Internet Research Agency -- the group at the heart of the hacking during the 2016 election in the United States. It was one of four operations his so-called Russia Small Group organized around the midterm elections. Officials have talked publicly about those, though they have provided few details.

But the recent actions by the United States against the Russian power grids, whether as signals or potential offensive weapons, appear to have been conducted under the new congressional authorities.

As it games out the 2020 elections, Cyber Command has looked at the possibility that Russia might try selective power blackouts in key states, some officials said. For that, they said, they need a deterrent.

In the past few months, Cyber Command's resolve has been tested. For the past year, energy companies in the United States and oil and gas operators across North America discovered their networks had been examined by the same Russian hackers who successfully dismantled the safety systems in 2017 at Petro Rabigh, a Saudi petrochemical plant and oil refinery.

The question now is whether placing the equivalent of land mines in a foreign power network is the right way to deter Russia. While it parallels Cold War nuclear strategy, it also enshrines power grids as a legitimate target.

"We might have to risk taking some broken bones of our own from a counterresponse, just to show the world we're not lying down and taking it," said Robert P. Silvers, a partner at the law firm Paul Hastings and former Obama administration official. "Sometimes you have to take a bloody nose to not take a bullet in the head down the road." David E. Sanger reported from Washington, and Nicole Perlroth from San Francisco


Bitsy Fort Collins, CO 6h ago Times Pick

See the Zero Days documentary, available on several streaming services, if you want to better understand this issue and its origins and early applications (successful attack on Iranian centrifuges as one example). This cat has been out of the bag for some time.
Dubliner Dublin 6h ago Times Pick
Not willing to discuss it with the President but happy to chat about it with reporters..? If the President didn't know about it he does now, so it's hardly a successful strategy. I would presume this is more a way to convince the public that something is being done. Whether there is reality behind it is a different issue.
Stan Chaz Brooklyn,New York 6h ago Times Pick
This scenario sounds like something straight out of Dr, Strangelove. All sides and all actors need to realize that this is a no win game, with the very real possibility of serious harm to the lives and livelihoods of millions of people hanging in the balance.

It's a macho power game that can easily escalate into unintended and out-of-control consequences. As with prior successful nuclear test ban negotiations & treaties we need to step back and consider what's truly in the long-term national interests of all concerned. The citizens of all the countries involved are not pawns to be played with like disposable chess pieces, in a power game with no real winners.

David Henderson Arlington, VA 6h ago Times Pick
On the cyber playing field, the U.S. has so far shown itself still in the minor leagues against other nations. If the U.S. is so bold as to reveal action against Russia's power grid, we'd be best advised to stock up on candles and batteries.
B. Rothman NYC 6h ago Times Pick
And here is yet another reason for the US to get off the use of public utilities alone for the production of electricity. A big goal for national security ought to be the decentralization of electrical production. Businesses and many individual households could do this and create a manufacturing boom at the same time. Too bad the guys in charge are so fixated on making energy money in way only.
newsmaned Carmel IN 6h ago Times Pick
What's most disturbing about this article is that Trump hasn't been told much about it, out of concern he could screw it up. It raises the question of how much the president is actually The President or just an obstacle to be managed while parts of the federal government are haring off on their own into uncharted waters.
TMah Salt Lake City 10h ago Times Pick
The US Military revealing that they have done this means that they believe that they have established superiority with this malware, and also the ability to re-establish it if needed. Else, why would they reveal it. If you think what a patchwork the controls on US Power systems, dams, and other key infrastructure are, Russia's must be in much worse shape. Their national systems are likely made up largely of outdated infrastructure, with controls that are a patchwork. Their economy is the size of Italy's, yet they funnel inordinate amounts of money to their armed forces, starving other areas. Their economy is based on petroleum and natural gas, using technology and expertise from European and American companies --just imagine what opportunities that provides.
Bruce1253 San Diego 10h ago Times Pick
We are extremely vulnerable here. The US power grid is made up of a series of local systems that are tied together with high voltage interconnects that allow power to be sent from one system to another to balance loads. Those interconnects are powered by a few, very few, specialized transformers.

These transformers are huge, expensive, and take a long time to build. Disruption of these transformers would have devastating consequences. Several years ago we got a taste of this in SoCal. There was a region wide power outage. The back up generators for business's promptly kicked in, no problem. The power outage lasted longer than their fuel supply, you could not drive to the gas station to get more fuel, all of SoCal was without power. One by one these businesses and other critical operations shutdown. Now try to imagine you life with no power at all for just a short time, say a week. . . .

Telly55 St Barbara 10h ago Times Pick
This turn of events is truly disturbing, as it presents the seriousness, now, of how cyberwar is more likely a prelude to actual war. But what it most alarming is that we have a President who cannot be trusted to honor the institutional frameworks around National Security and our own Intelligence Institutions and organization. It is the height of incredulity to know that his narcissism, coupled with his sense of authoritarian marriage to wealth and delusions of Royalty, is the weakest point, now, in our security as a nation. So--given these new developments: what about all those earlier attempt to create "back channels" with Russia???

Does Trump feign arrogance and disinterest in reading and keeping up on Security and Intelligence briefings--so that he can assimilate what he chooses to "hear/grasp" and then operate on such information as it might fit is grifter family's greed and faux aristocratic delusions? There is much to worry us--and it is worse than daily lies...

William Romp, Vermont | June 15

It is telling that the language of military "defense" has become indistinguishable from that of military offense. Aggressive malware intrusions into foreign countries' sensitive (and sovereign) computer systems is now seen as a standard security procedure. "Gunboat diplomacy" is not an apt metaphor, as gunboats remained at discreet distances from borders. Our cyber policy is more akin to placing bombs in the public squares of foreign cities with threats to detonate.

Absent in this discussion is the distinction between military targets of cyber warfare and civilian targets, if such distinctions remain. America prepares to unplug millions of Russian citizens, including the elderly and children, plus hospitals and other sensitive civilian infrastructure targets, in order to "inflict pain" (on foreign citizens) and "send a message" (to foreign politicians). The abandonment of moral principles formerly displayed by American institutions is striking.

The failure of leadership on all sides is even more striking. Having spent many months in Russia and China I can tell you (as can anyone who has travelled beyond the tourist destinations) that the people there hold largely positive feelings toward Americans and other foreigners. A small minority of xenophobes and racists dominate the leadership, as in America, and form foreign policies that are at odds with the citizenship, at odds with moral justice, and at odds with humanity.

Viv, .|10h ago

@William Romp

In the abstract, of course people hold positive views of their "enemy" nations. In practice, it is not at all true.

You don't need to travel to Russia to find Russians who have been victims of American xenophobia and bigotry. They're right there in America.

Americans has never really held to "moral" standards of war.

To this day you have people believing that dropping atomic bombs on civilians was the right thing to do because it "minimized" loss of life. This is absurd.

To this day you have people believing that it was okay to not only finance the mujahadeen in Afghanistan, but indoctrinate their children to be war fighters.

There's nothing to be proud about this "moral" leadership.

Tim Rutledge, California | June 15

Won't they just do the same to us? This is the strategy?

DaWill, 11 hours ago

"Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction - and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister."

Restated, the Commander In Chief is not briefed on military operations for fear of betrayal. I feel like I'm going nuts. Someone please tell me what is going on in this country!

Carlos Fiancé Oak Park, Il | June 15
I appreciate this article. The US media breathlessly report on Russia spending a few hundred thousand on Facebook, but rarely do they recount all the ways the US meddles with Russia, as well as a host of other countries. "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone", as Jesus (doubtfully) said.

Pete, CA|11h ago, @HonorB14U

Actually, everything you could think of in American 'technology' is the result of government, usually military, development projects. The internet and everything associated with it came out of DARPA. American advances in solid state integrated circuitry are the results of satellite, rocketry, i.e. military development.

Castanet, MD-DC-VA | June 15

Another theatre of war where Pandora's unintended consequences plays a major role. We hope the better angels will be able to keep the balance. And put the lid back on the box, and put the box away forever.

Norman, NYC|9h ago

@TMah

Outdated infrastructure is less vulnerable to cyberattacks. It's not connected to the internet. It's like the railroads in Atlas Shrugged. When the latest technology is left dysfunctional, you can go back to the manual controls.

If I was designing digital equipment that's so complicated it's essentially a black box and you can't understand what's going on inside, I'd design it with a fallback to simpler controls, even manual controls.

C.O., Germany|11h ago

For me it is really amazing that so many believe in the meddling of Russia in the US-election in 2016. I at least have never seen or read about concrete evidence that they did. What was apparent, however, was the misuse of social media like Facebook and Co in the election. They are open to everyone who can speak English, and everyone can use fake names. I am sure there were indeed waves of misinformation among voters in the US. But every reasonable person could have read American newspapers or watched American television to correct fake news if they pop up. In addition, I think that FoxNews, Trump's and Steve Bannon's disruptive and manipulative ideology and the massive campaign funds have been much more effective for Trump's victory. To blame it all on Russia is really too simple and in the end rather dangerous. To call for "persistent presence" inside Russian and its digital systems, as Bolton does, moreover shows that the US is not an innocent victim but up to the state of art. Frightening.

N. Smith, New York City|6h ago

It speaks volumes that Donald Trump was not informed and purposely kept out of the loop about these cyber operations against Russia's power grid.
But it's not surprising.

Especially when only a few days ago before walking it back, this President said that he'd have no problem taking advantage of any available information to undercut his opponent, obviously forgetting that Russia already took him up this invitation in the 2016 elections.

No doubt they're primed to do it again. Sooner or later Americans will come to the realization that Vladimir Putin is an ex-KGB operative who plans to restore Russia to its former Soviet glory. And the Cold War never ended.

Phil, Brooklyn | 4h ago

So your argument is that it's a good thing that the military is staging attacks against a nuclear power, basically without any oversight from any branch of government?

Paul, Virginia | June 15

The use of cyber attacks is another slippery road to actual shooting war. Some says that cyber warfare would deter or prevent nations from actually going to war with each other. This is wishful thinking for the national survival instinct would force a nation on the verge of being plunged into darkness and thus cyber defeat to resort to nuclear weapons or maximum conventional warfare which could easily lead to the use of nuclear weapons.
The world's leading powers should come together, discuss, and agree to a treaty outlawing the use of cyber attacks against other nations' power grids and other online systems essential for human welfare. The world cannot afford another arm race similar to the nuclear arm race after WW II that has since placed the survival of the human race on the vagaries of a few men.

Michael, Evanston, IL|June 15

@M. Casey Yes, and we have been doing it to them (and others) for some time. So it is a perfectly reasonable response to wonder if this won't simply escalate. And I hardly assume that this is a transparent process in which we will even know what is going on.

TPH, Colorado|11h ago

@David Henderson Actually, the US has been deeply involved in cyber-warfare for over nine years. In June 2010, the US attacked Iran with a cyber-attack and, together with Israel, completely took out the Iranian military nuclear facility in Natanz with the cyber-worm 'Stuxnet'. That attack destroyed over 1,000 nuclear centrifuges and pushed the Iranian nuclear program back by at least two years. The type of attacks on civilian power plants now being discussed would be a cakewalk in comparison. Nearly ten years of continuing development has taken place since -- not just in the US -- and the tech people working for and with the US government are some of the best in the world.

If the US has decided to start implanting the latest 2019 malware in the Russian power grid, they have a real reason for concern. It will be far more damaging and difficult to stop than anything the Russians have yet to develop.

[Jun 15, 2019] In Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen NSA Tool Wreaks Havoc by Nicole Perlroth and Scott Shane

The idea that NonPetya was developed using NSA exploit EternalBlu is most probably false
Notable quotes:
"... Some F.B.I. and Homeland Security officials, speaking privately, said more accountability at the N.S.A. was needed. A former F.B.I. official likened the situation to a government failing to lock up a warehouse of automatic weapons. ..."
"... "I disagree completely," said Tom Burt, the corporate vice president of consumer trust, insisting that cyberweapons could not be compared to pickup trucks. "These exploits are developed and kept secret by governments for the express purpose of using them as weapons or espionage tools. They're inherently dangerous. When someone takes that, they're not strapping a bomb to it. It's already a bomb." ..."
"... Brad Smith, Microsoft's president, has called for a "Digital Geneva Convention" to govern cyberspace, including a pledge by governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than keeping them secret to exploit for espionage or attacks. ..."
May 25, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

For nearly three weeks, Baltimore has struggled with a cyberattack by digital extortionists that has frozen thousands of computers, shut down email and disrupted real estate sales, water bills, health alerts and many other services.

But here is what frustrated city employees and residents do not know: A key component of the malware that cybercriminals used in the attack was developed at taxpayer expense a short drive down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at the National Security Agency, according to security experts briefed on the case.

Since 2017, when the N.S.A. lost control of the tool , EternalBlue, it has been picked up by state hackers in North Korea, Russia and, more recently, China, to cut a path of destruction around the world, leaving billions of dollars in damage. But over the past year, the cyberweapon has boomeranged back and is now showing up in the N.S.A.'s own backyard.

It is not just in Baltimore. Security experts say EternalBlue attacks have reached a high , and cybercriminals are zeroing in on vulnerable American towns and cities, from Pennsylvania to Texas, paralyzing local governments and driving up costs. Advertisement

The N.S.A. connection to the attacks on American cities has not been previously reported, in part because the agency has refused to discuss or even acknowledge the loss of its cyberweapon, dumped online in April 2017 by a still-unidentified group calling itself the Shadow Brokers . Years later, the agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation still do not know whether the Shadow Brokers are foreign spies or disgruntled insiders.

Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity expert at Johns Hopkins University, called the Shadow Brokers episode "the most destructive and costly N.S.A. breach in history," more damaging than the better-known leak in 2013 from Edward Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

"The government has refused to take responsibility, or even to answer the most basic questions," Mr. Rid said. "Congressional oversight appears to be failing. The American people deserve an answer."

The N.S.A. and F.B.I. declined to comment.

Since that leak, foreign intelligence agencies and rogue actors have used EternalBlue to spread malware that has paralyzed hospitals, airports, rail and shipping operators, A.T.M.s and factories that produce critical vaccines. Now the tool is hitting the United States where it is most vulnerable, in local governments with aging digital infrastructure and fewer resources to defend themselves.

On May 7, city workers in Baltimore had their computers frozen by hackers. Officials have refused to pay the $100,000 ransom. Credit .

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On May 7, city workers in Baltimore had their computers frozen by hackers. Officials have refused to pay the $100,000 ransom. Credit .

Before it leaked, EternalBlue was one of the most useful exploits in the N.S.A.'s cyberarsenal. According to three former N.S.A. operators who spoke on the condition of anonymity, analysts spent almost a year finding a flaw in Microsoft's software and writing the code to target it. Initially, they referred to it as EternalBluescreen because it often crashed computers -- a risk that could tip off their targets. But it went on to become a reliable tool used in countless intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism missions. Advertisement

EternalBlue was so valuable, former N.S.A. employees said, that the agency never seriously considered alerting Microsoft about the vulnerabilities, and held on to it for more than five years before the breach forced its hand.

The Baltimore attack , on May 7, was a classic ransomware assault. City workers' screens suddenly locked, and a message in flawed English demanded about $100,000 in Bitcoin to free their files: "We've watching you for days," said the message, obtained by The Baltimore Sun . "We won't talk more, all we know is MONEY! Hurry up!"

Today, Baltimore remains handicapped as city officials refuse to pay, though workarounds have restored some services. Without EternalBlue, the damage would not have been so vast, experts said. The tool exploits a vulnerability in unpatched software that allows hackers to spread their malware faster and farther than they otherwise could.

North Korea was the first nation to co-opt the tool, for an attack in 2017 -- called WannaCry -- that paralyzed the British health care system, German railroads and some 200,000 organizations around the world. Next was Russia, which used the weapon in an attack -- called NotPetya -- that was aimed at Ukraine but spread across major companies doing business in the country. The assault cost FedEx more than $400 million and Merck, the pharmaceutical giant, $670 million.

The damage didn't stop there. In the past year, the same Russian hackers who targeted the 2016 American presidential election used EternalBlue to compromise hotel Wi-Fi networks. Iranian hackers have used it to spread ransomware and hack airlines in the Middle East, according to researchers at the security firms Symantec and FireEye.

"It's incredible that a tool which was used by intelligence services is now publicly available and so widely used," said Vikram Thakur, Symantec's director of security response. Sign Up for The Daily Newsletter

Every Friday, get an exclusive look at how one of the week's biggest news stories on "The Daily" podcast came together.

One month before the Shadow Brokers began dumping the agency's tools online in 2017, the N.S.A. -- aware of the breach -- reached out to Microsoft and other tech companies to inform them of their software flaws. Microsoft released a patch, but hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide remain unprotected. Microsoft employees reviewing malware data at the company's offices in Redmond, Wash. EternalBlue exploits a flaw in unpatched Microsoft software.

Hackers seem to have found a sweet spot in Baltimore, Allentown, Pa., San Antonio and other local, American governments, where public employees oversee tangled networks that often use out-of-date software. Last July, the Department of Homeland Security issued a dire warning that state and local governments were getting hit by particularly destructive malware that now, security researchers say, has started relying on EternalBlue to spread.

Microsoft, which tracks the use of EternalBlue, would not name the cities and towns affected, citing customer privacy. But other experts briefed on the attacks in Baltimore, Allentown and San Antonio confirmed the hackers used EternalBlue. Security responders said they were seeing EternalBlue pop up in attacks almost every day.

Amit Serper, head of security research at Cybereason, said his firm had responded to EternalBlue attacks at three different American universities, and found vulnerable servers in major cities like Dallas, Los Angeles and New York.

The costs can be hard for local governments to bear. The Allentown attack, in February last year, disrupted city services for weeks and cost about $1 million to remedy -- plus another $420,000 a year for new defenses, said Matthew Leibert, the city's chief information officer.

He described the package of dangerous computer code that hit Allentown as "commodity malware," sold on the dark web and used by criminals who don't have specific targets in mind. "There are warehouses of kids overseas firing off phishing emails," Mr. Leibert said, like thugs shooting military-grade weapons at random targets. Advertisement

The malware that hit San Antonio last September infected a computer inside Bexar County sheriff's office and tried to spread across the network using EternalBlue, according to two people briefed on the attack.

This past week, researchers at the security firm Palo Alto Networks discovered that a Chinese state group, Emissary Panda, had hacked into Middle Eastern governments using EternalBlue.

"You can't hope that once the initial wave of attacks is over, it will go away," said Jen Miller-Osborn, a deputy director of threat intelligence at Palo Alto Networks. "We expect EternalBlue will be used almost forever, because if attackers find a system that isn't patched, it is so useful." Adm. Michael S. Rogers, who led the N.S.A. during the leak, has said the agency should not be blamed for the trail of damage. Credit Erin Schaff for The New York Times

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Until a decade or so ago, the most powerful cyberweapons belonged almost exclusively to intelligence agencies -- N.S.A. officials used the term "NOBUS," for "nobody but us," for vulnerabilities only the agency had the sophistication to exploit. But that advantage has hugely eroded, not only because of the leaks, but because anyone can grab a cyberweapon's code once it's used in the wild.

Some F.B.I. and Homeland Security officials, speaking privately, said more accountability at the N.S.A. was needed. A former F.B.I. official likened the situation to a government failing to lock up a warehouse of automatic weapons.

In an interview in March, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, who was director of the N.S.A. during the Shadow Brokers leak, suggested in unusually candid remarks that the agency should not be blamed for the long trail of damage. Advertisement

"If Toyota makes pickup trucks and someone takes a pickup truck, welds an explosive device onto the front, crashes it through a perimeter and into a crowd of people, is that Toyota's responsibility?" he asked. "The N.S.A. wrote an exploit that was never designed to do what was done."

At Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Wash., where thousands of security engineers have found themselves on the front lines of these attacks, executives reject that analogy.

"I disagree completely," said Tom Burt, the corporate vice president of consumer trust, insisting that cyberweapons could not be compared to pickup trucks. "These exploits are developed and kept secret by governments for the express purpose of using them as weapons or espionage tools. They're inherently dangerous. When someone takes that, they're not strapping a bomb to it. It's already a bomb."

Brad Smith, Microsoft's president, has called for a "Digital Geneva Convention" to govern cyberspace, including a pledge by governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than keeping them secret to exploit for espionage or attacks.

Last year, Microsoft, along with Google and Facebook, joined 50 countries in signing on to a similar call by French President Emmanuel Macron -- the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace -- to end "malicious cyber activities in peacetime."

Notably absent from the signatories were the world's most aggressive cyberactors: China, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia -- and the United States.

[Jun 15, 2019] Two filthy NYT neocons try to provoke Russia to attack the USA power grid

Looks like NYT provocation. Coordinated with whom? With Brennan and his cabal?
I wonder what will be reaction of Russian authorities and military intelligence on reading this stupid provocation. Hopefully they will not overreact.
Notable quotes:
"... I think they're revealing it because it may be for Russian ears, but not necessarily true or as good as stated. Misinformation abounds, especially when they're letting the press in. Mass destruction anyone? In Reply to Socrates ..."
"... While Obama and Trump are obviously different in some ways, this article reveals yet another continuity between their administrations. Burgeoning attacks on a foreign country's power grid, and little need for prior approval and oversight. ..."
"... Given the timing and the decision to talk about something so classified just now, I take this to be a threat aimed at Iran. "General Nakasone had been deeply involved in designing an operation code-named Nitro Zeus that amounted to a war plan to unplug Iran if the United States entered into hostilities with the country." The leak is an escalation, a threat. ..."
"... This will not end well. The unspoken assumption behind this issue is that the US assumes it must have dominance in all relations to other countries, and that moral outrage for such acts do not apply to us, because we are the "good guys" of course. ..."
"... It's always the big-mouth in the bar that starts the bar fight, then he sneaks out the side door while the rest of us get hit with beer bottles. ..."
"... What about attaching a price to the US's misdeeds, there are plenty of them, Iraq, and all the other US forced regime changes or attempted regime change as in Syria and Venezuela. ..."
"... Giving the military the authority to decide if and when a cyber attack occurs seems unconstitutional. And it seems very dangerous. Just because the actions originate on computer networks doesn't mean it's not violence against a foreign power. Even though everyone is dancing around the issue, a cyber attack is an act of war. Congress is supposed to make decisions on attacks by the military. It seems very Dr. Strangelove-like to me. Very risky giving a military commander the authority to start a war. ..."
"... Of course, the problem with all these "implants" and zero-day exploits is that once they are out there, they are readily deconstructed, repurposed, and turned back to bite us in new form, as has already happened on numerous occasions. ..."
"... To this day you have people believing that it was okay to not only finance the mujahadeen in Afghanistan, but indoctrinate their children to be war fighters. There's nothing to be proud about this "moral" leadership. ..."
"... Sure, the US can install malware deep inside Russia's grid. But that doesn't mean that the American cyberwar gambit is effective. And it doesn't mean that the US has the capacity to prevent Russia from using malware to inflict even deeper damage on the American grid. ..."
"... To understand exactly who is probably getting the better of who in this conflict, we need to ask ourselves what motivates Russia and America to fight this conflict. The answer doesn't bode well for Americans. Russia, which has been on the defensive since the fall of the USSR three decades ago, is fighting to protect its sovereignty against American encroachment. ..."
"... We could have mandated IPV6 with its better security model twenty years ago. We could encourage end-to-end encryption to secure networks. We could have directed the NSA and other security agencies to search out and fix bugs in software libraries instead of building backdoors that are now open to everyone. Instead everything gets converted to a weapon. Fear reigns supreme. Then we go to war and the merchants of death make huge profits ..."
"... The U.S. escalates cyber attacks on Russia's power grid. However, the Pentagon [and NSA] will not brief Trump because he might "countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials" as he did before with the Russians. Folks, we're running an unchecked cyber war against a global nuclear power without the involvement of POTUS who isn't interested, doesn't care, and is too busy complaining about CNN on Twitter. We are a banana republic and no one is minding the store ..."
"... I just don't get it. The New York Times publishing what surely must be classified information about a secret incursion by the U.S. government into the Russian power grid! And Julian Assange is criminally charged for doing the same thing? ..."
"... The US is certainly a very offensive country. The US Is considered The Exceptional World Leader. I don't know if the world can survive such leadership. The US is going to drown in its military superiority, and settle into a state of violent mediocrity with a poorly educated, somewhat unhealthy citizenry with loads of of weaponry, poor mental health and lots of drug addiction and a country with the world's highest rate of incarceration and lousy infrastructure. ..."
"... And for all of those who are blaming Russia, kindly remember how the U.S. started all this with the creation and deployment of Stuxnet against Iran. ..."
"... This reminds me of the Cold War. We were sold a bill of goods about Russia's capacity to harm us when, we the US was actually the aggressor, JFK sold this under the brand of "Missile Gap". The United States is, as usual, the aggressor here. The US Empire wants to control the world. Any independent nation will be considered a threat and not be tolerated. This demonization of Russia is an embarrassment and worse, is extremely dangerous, The Russian bear is not to be trifled with, despite American fantasies. ..."
"... The world needs a Cyber Geneva Convention. Immediately if not years ago. All the tunnel vision patriotic cheering in these comments is very alarming. Think about where Cyber War could go, what it could do, who it would harm. ..."
"... This is the path to the military itself becoming a danger to the state through ill-considered unilateral action. ..."
"... "Defend forward?" A new entry in the Newspeak dictionary... We are partying like it's 1984. ..."
"... "Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction..." So the commander of United States Cyber Command, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, decided to undertake an overt act of war and not tell his Commander in Chief because he thought he might disagree? If true, Trump should fire this guy tomorrow, if not court-martial him for insubordination. ..."
"... Something's wrong with this article. A newspaper is telling the world that the US is messing around with Russia's power grid? Shouldn't this be super confidential? Basically now Russians are allowed to re tagliate in any way for what the USA is doing. What would be the reaction of the US if the situation was reversed? A bunch of blackouts in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco and the Russians saying "we did it"? Our military would bomb them right away! ..."
"... GREAT ! A military junta within the Trump regime...what could go wrong. ..."
"... There is a real danger in deploying cyber-mines in adversary systems. All code can be broken and used in retaliation. Even so-called "encapsulated" code can be disassembled. STUXNET was disassembled and repurposed as ransom-ware. ..."
Jun 15, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

Bruce Rozenblit Kansas City, MO 11h ago

This is very disturbing and it threatens the security of the entire planet. Cyber warfare is cheap. As this technology continues to develop, no nation, no industry, no utility will be safe. Just as many nations want the bomb, many will want this capability and they don't have to spend much to have it. The economic and human costs of disrupting power flows could be huge. This isn't a video game. It is real warfare. We should be extremely cautious with the application of these cyber tools. Do we want to live in a world where nation states are actively trying to cripple any infrastructure they can get at? Talk about the war of all against all. It is also very troubling that organizations within our government can carry out these incursions without specific orders from the top of our command structures. We can't have the dept. of this or that conducting assaults on other nations on their own. Everyone can see where that aircraft carrier is, but no one can see that malware hiding in a water treatment center. These weapons cause us to lose our ability of command and control. That's the real danger here, loss of command and control. We already have president who has command but no control. We don't need a dozen agencies with the same problem.
alanore or 9h ago
@TMah

I think they're revealing it because it may be for Russian ears, but not necessarily true or as good as stated. Misinformation abounds, especially when they're letting the press in. Mass destruction anyone? In Reply to Socrates

Socrates Downtown Verona. NJ 8h ago
@Marcus Aurelius

"the action inside the Russian electric grid appears to have been conducted under little-noticed new legal authorities, slipped into the military authorization bill passed by Congress last summer. " That bipartisan bill, now law, is known as "H.R.5515 - The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019", was reluctantly signed by Donald Trump; he hated the law because it was named after an American patriot and hero that he hated.

JDM South Bend, IN June 15
While Obama and Trump are obviously different in some ways, this article reveals yet another continuity between their administrations. Burgeoning attacks on a foreign country's power grid, and little need for prior approval and oversight.
David G. Wisconsin 11h ago
How did we ever survive for half a century without putting our power grid on the internet? Get our power back off the internet, create some extra jobs to do what computers do now, raise prices a couple of percent to cover the new employees, and avoid the worry about hacking the grid. 2 Replies
Mark Thomason Clawson, MI 6h ago
Given the timing and the decision to talk about something so classified just now, I take this to be a threat aimed at Iran. "General Nakasone had been deeply involved in designing an operation code-named Nitro Zeus that amounted to a war plan to unplug Iran if the United States entered into hostilities with the country." The leak is an escalation, a threat.
William Wroblicka Northampton, MA 4h ago
It seems to be common knowledge that our country's electric grid has been infiltrated by the Russians. What I don't understand, given this situation, is why the compromised systems can't be purged of any malware that might be present and the security holes that allowed it to be installed in the first place patched.

Retail software companies (e.g., Microsoft) are finding security vulnerabilities in and releasing updates to their products all the time. What's so different about industrial software systems?

Scott Newton San Francisco , Ca 6h ago
This will not end well. The unspoken assumption behind this issue is that the US assumes it must have dominance in all relations to other countries, and that moral outrage for such acts do not apply to us, because we are the "good guys" of course. Almost anything that another country can be accused of (interfering in elections, cyber-espionage, stealing trade secrets and technology) is something almost surely done by the US first to others. I applaud the NYT for reporting this, but reporters should question the reasoning behind it a bit more. 1 Reply
itsmildeyes philadelphia 8h ago
It's always the big-mouth in the bar that starts the bar fight, then he sneaks out the side door while the rest of us get hit with beer bottles. Sure wish the bouncer had stopped DJT and his entourage at the door.
CK Rye 11h ago
@Socrates - But keep in mind: just any blue will NOT do. Reject Neoliberals without hesitation! In

Reply to Mauichuck

KC Okla 4h ago
They're what? My son graduated in 2002 and we've been at war or trying to start one ever since. Can we not do anything but build weapons of death and destruction and look for ways to put them to use? This war thing is getting out of control.
Lucy Cooke California 8h ago
@GV

What about attaching a price to the US's misdeeds, there are plenty of them, Iraq, and all the other US forced regime changes or attempted regime change as in Syria and Venezuela.

The US has wrecked lots of countries with its superior military and awesome financial clout. The US is going to drown in its military superiority, and settle into a state of violent mediocrity with a poorly educated, somewhat unhealthy citizenry with loads of of weaponry, poor mental health and lots of drug addiction and a country with the world's highest rate of incarceration and lousy infrastructure.

If the US would just drown quickly, before it destroys the livability of the world, perhaps Europe, Russia and China could cooperate enough to save the world.

Michael Chicago 11h ago
Giving the military the authority to decide if and when a cyber attack occurs seems unconstitutional. And it seems very dangerous. Just because the actions originate on computer networks doesn't mean it's not violence against a foreign power. Even though everyone is dancing around the issue, a cyber attack is an act of war. Congress is supposed to make decisions on attacks by the military. It seems very Dr. Strangelove-like to me. Very risky giving a military commander the authority to start a war. 1 Reply
LiorSamson Mass 6h ago
Of course, the problem with all these "implants" and zero-day exploits is that once they are out there, they are readily deconstructed, repurposed, and turned back to bite us in new form, as has already happened on numerous occasions.

Those of us in the cybersecurity community have been sounding the alarm for more than a decade, whether in professional papers, the general press, or in fictionalized accounts. With escalation, we are virtually inviting the Russians to mount counterattacks, the cost of which could be incalculable. Our natural gas transmission network may be even more vulnerable than our power grid, as an industry insider confessed to me prompting the writing of Gasline in 2013. Of course, now we have Trump on the trigger and...

Clearwater Oregon June 15
I can't wait until this US president is gone so that our future Executive branch can directly and positively (not out of self interest or hind-covering denial) get back to the the table with Russia and bring about real change on both sides. If we don't, one has to assume that all types of cold war warfare can lead to a thermonuclear exchange.

That has always been the potential endgame since 1948. Did you think that was no longer possible after 1991? You, like myself, were being naive. I think it's more possible now than ever before. For we have two authoritarians, each carrying a football named, Doom. 1 Reply

Viv . 11h ago
@William Romp In the abstract, of course people hold positive views of their "enemy" nations. In practice, it is not at all true. You don't need to travel to Russia to find Russians who have been victims of American xenophobia and bigotry. They're right there in America. Americans has never really held to "moral" standards of war. To this day you have people believing that dropping atomic bombs on civilians was the right thing to do because it "minimized" loss of life. This is absurd.

To this day you have people believing that it was okay to not only finance the mujahadeen in Afghanistan, but indoctrinate their children to be war fighters. There's nothing to be proud about this "moral" leadership. In Reply to Viv

Ted McGuire 3h ago
Sure, the US can install malware deep inside Russia's grid. But that doesn't mean that the American cyberwar gambit is effective. And it doesn't mean that the US has the capacity to prevent Russia from using malware to inflict even deeper damage on the American grid.

To understand exactly who is probably getting the better of who in this conflict, we need to ask ourselves what motivates Russia and America to fight this conflict. The answer doesn't bode well for Americans. Russia, which has been on the defensive since the fall of the USSR three decades ago, is fighting to protect its sovereignty against American encroachment.

The US, meanwhile, isn't fighting because it has to. America is fighting Russia simply to aggrandize its own power, and to expand its influence over world affairs. In my opinion, Russia is the power that has greater motivation to win this fight. For this reason, any American effort to defeat Russia by using cyberwarfare is likely to trigger a devastating Russian response. The US should quit while it's ahead. 1 Reply

rbitset Palo Alto 4h ago
Reagan talked about a missile shield, a Star Wars defense, that would make nuclear weapons obsolete. Almost 40 years later we know that was a pipe dream. But we can be safe in cyberspace. Many of the tools are there. A few more might need to be invented. What stands in the way? A U.S. government that wants, claims to need, to spy on everyone including its citizens stands in the way. Businesses that want to vacuum up and sell everyone's information stand in the way. Hardware companies that want to lease you a networked service instead of a stand alone device stand in the way.

We could have mandated IPV6 with its better security model twenty years ago. We could encourage end-to-end encryption to secure networks. We could have directed the NSA and other security agencies to search out and fix bugs in software libraries instead of building backdoors that are now open to everyone. Instead everything gets converted to a weapon. Fear reigns supreme. Then we go to war and the merchants of death make huge profits.

Bruce1253 San Diego 8h ago
@B. Rothman Micro grids would be helpful, yes, but what about large businesses? Say the ones who make the fuel for your home furnace, or that power the compressors for your natural gas? Or that power the giant freezers at the plant that makes your french fries? My point is that we are really interconnected, and vulnerable to attacks as described in this article. This is the kind of thing that gives the cyber security pro at you local utility nightmares. We are balanced on a ball. In Reply to Eric Peterson
Dave Madison. WI 11h ago
@M. Casey - Here we go with "timidity" and Obama. At the time, and in keeping with the strategy to withhold knowledge of our cyber reach into their systems, Obama's decision probably made sense. Such a thoughtful approach would have benefited us in the phony, "Weapons of Mass Destruction" war against Iraq, which cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. Such a thoughtful approach, which is anathema to chest-pounding chickenhawks, would have also been useful in Vietnam. And the Falklands. And Beirut. And Cuba and... In Reply to JM
Pelasgus Earth 5h ago
Electricity generation and reticulation worked perfectly satisfactorily before the internet, so why does it need to be connected to the internet? The obvious solution to attacks on systems is to cut the internet out of the equation. 2 Replies
Barbara SC 8h ago
@Bruce1253 I have lived through hurricanes that caused power outages for a week or more. Puerto Ricans can tell us just what it's like right now, given the damage they experienced recently. Our forebears lived without power for centuries. We would survive, but we wouldn't enjoy it. In Reply to Larry L
Mark Kinsler Lancaster, Ohio USA 2h ago
Some thoughts from an obsolete old power engineer:

(1) For the most part our power grid can be run by people at the substations and generating plants. There are always manual overrides--to wit: big levers with handles that actuate big switches. This is not a new development, for the systems were initially designed for manual operation. The digital relays were added later.

(2) The whole business makes power guys cringe, for they've been trained to keep the system going. But if necessary, every section of the power grid can be brought back to life by the employees.

(3) No public utility can operate reliably in a war or anywhere else that's lacking basic civil behavior. I'm surprised that cell phones have done so well in combat zones, for they rely on cables to link the towers.

JAS3rd Florida 11h ago
Overdue indeed. Unfortunately, if the U.S. doesn't do it, we would just disadvantage ourselves.
Aaron VanAlstine DuPont, WA 6h ago
The U.S. escalates cyber attacks on Russia's power grid. However, the Pentagon [and NSA] will not brief Trump because he might "countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials" as he did before with the Russians. Folks, we're running an unchecked cyber war against a global nuclear power without the involvement of POTUS who isn't interested, doesn't care, and is too busy complaining about CNN on Twitter. We are a banana republic and no one is minding the store
ldc Woodside, CA 7h ago
@Mark. Ok, but it is inconceivable that either the national security apparatus or his own advisors would have conspired to keep Obama in the dark because they didn't trust him. In Reply to Mark
Hardbop50 Ohio 4h ago
It's clear that most American, including many Times' readers don't understand Putin's strategy toward the U.S. and other democracies of western Europe. The real danger is his attack on our political system and democratic values. While an aggressive cyber defense and hardening of targets is important, cyber operations also need to undermine Russians' confidence in Putin and his government. There are plenty of ways to spread fake news and paranoia in Russia social and political media. The sanctions are our best "weapon". They hurt Russian economy and threaten wealthy oligarchs. If they didn't, why would Putin try so hard to squash them. Unfortunately, the President fails to enforce or expand them. Any guesses why he undermines sanctions?
Mike Ransmil San Bernardino June 15
that's not nice of the US.---disrupting Russia's power [grid]. They will not be happy about this. Donald can expect a phone call from Vladimir, expressing his displeasure!
Eugene NYC 6h ago
The problem, as usual is management. It is not possible underestimate management. Those of us on Long Island were without power after Sandy. In portions of The Rockaways, some 20' or more above sea level, National Grid turned off the power for 15 days. So we know what it is like to have no power. Having solar cells on the roof is no solution because LIPA / PSEG-LI REQUIRES the system to shut down if grid power drops!

But the real question must be, why is the electrical grid vulnerable? Do the control systems use PCs, or rock solid IBM z/OS architecture? Has any z/OS system ever been compromised? Why aren't individual electric systems designed to operate off the regional and therefore national grid in the event of a failure? And whatever happened to synchronous encrypted communication over secure leased lines? These problems are not difficult to solve. They only require a desire. Mr. Cuomo, are you listening?

Ross Stuart NYC 7h ago
I just don't get it. The New York Times publishing what surely must be classified information about a secret incursion by the U.S. government into the Russian power grid! And Julian Assange is criminally charged for doing the same thing? 2 Replies
Doremus Jessup On the move 8h ago
George Orwell would have a great time with all this.
Lucy Cooke California 11h ago
The US is certainly a very offensive country. The US Is considered The Exceptional World Leader. I don't know if the world can survive such leadership. The US is going to drown in its military superiority, and settle into a state of violent mediocrity with a poorly educated, somewhat unhealthy citizenry with loads of of weaponry, poor mental health and lots of drug addiction and a country with the world's highest rate of incarceration and lousy infrastructure.

If the US would just drown quickly, before it destroys the livability of the world, perhaps Europe, Russia and China could cooperate enough to save the world. Or, if enough citizens vote for Senator Bernie Sanders for President, the US could refresh its world leadership with a sane, even wise foreign policy and provide citizens with quality education for all, health care for all, better infrastructure, and, mostly, A FUTURE TO BELIEVE IN. 1 Reply

Mike Iker Mill Valley, CA 7h ago
It's been pointed out for years that our much higher level of internet control of our systems makes us more vulnerable to cyber attacks that Russia or China or Iran and certainly N. Korea. If this story is getting out, and based on the thesis that nothing happens by accident in the political world, the source must think that our defenses are strong enough to more than offset our inherent vulnerabilities. I hope that's true.
Roger Alaska June 15
The fact that we have implanted code is well-known, or at least should be. To say there has been only a handful of offensive operations is either purposely deceitful or shows the lack of access by the person quoted.
Lauren SW Virginia 6h ago
"Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction -- and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister." Sigh.... our prez. Our number one threat to National Security.
Charles M Saint John, NB, Canada 11h ago
@HonorB14U Always? Who went first into space? If you were a trained technical person in control systems you'd know the names of lots of Russians who made fundamental break-throughs in understanding - more Russian names than I can recall American names. In Reply to HonorB14U
free range upstate 6h ago
This mutual insanity results from the disease people all around the world suffer from: the nation-state. Nation-states, in their modern form only four hundred years old, have taken the world hostage through feverish calls to nationalism and patriotism, deliberately confusing in our minds cultural identity with the nation-state. But cultural identity is not dependent on the nation-state! Either we find a way to free our cultural identities from those in power or, if and when this insane posturing leads to war, we pay the ultimate price of losing our lives.
Woof NY 11h ago
@jrinsc Re to freeze Russian oligarchs out of their ill-gotten assets. London is where Russian oligarchs store their assets See link below No US government has taken on the "City" (UK equivalent of Wall Street) on that issue https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/10/11/londons-financial-flows-are-polluted-by-laundered-money 16 Replies
Lawrence Colorado 4h ago
Upgrading the grid to be more resilient to hacking and also to better accommodate wind and solar would be a significant, smart, long term investment. It would improve something we all use that really needs improving. It would help reduce our carbon footprint. It would generate good jobs here in America. So instead the GOP spent a trillion dollars on tax breaks for very wealthy people which the corporate kind used mostly for stock buy backs.
Doug Karo Durham, NH 8h ago
If both countries didn't have stable geniuses in charge, I would be pretty worried. If the stability of one of the leaders was not the case, I would be even more worried.
Ron Vermont 11h ago
So all these attacks we're trading have all gone through proper quality control procedures to make sure they don't disrupt anything by accident? Not likely. And with the UK, China, North Korea and others all doing the same, both the large controlling computers and the small embedded control system components are going to start failing due to all the malware they're being asked to hold. Malware will attack expecting it is attacking clean manufacturer supplied software/firmware, but if someone else has already modified it, how will these systems react? This seems like a mutual game of Russian Roulette. Any time an opponent makes a mistake something will break somewhere.
maureen f. Albuquerque, NM 11h ago
The scariest thing about this escalation is that nobody really knows which country--the U.S., Russia, or China--has the best cyber-weapons and cyber-defenses until the cyber-war actually begins. And for all of those who are blaming Russia, kindly remember how the U.S. started all this with the creation and deployment of Stuxnet against Iran. 2 Replies
RL Groves Amherst, MA 2h ago
This reminds me of the Cold War. We were sold a bill of goods about Russia's capacity to harm us when, we the US was actually the aggressor, JFK sold this under the brand of "Missile Gap". The United States is, as usual, the aggressor here. The US Empire wants to control the world. Any independent nation will be considered a threat and not be tolerated. This demonization of Russia is an embarrassment and worse, is extremely dangerous, The Russian bear is not to be trifled with, despite American fantasies.
Floyd New Mexico 4h ago
Why would information of such intelligence operations be publically announced as it has? Baffling. 1 Reply
Ned OSJL 11h ago
The world needs a Cyber Geneva Convention. Immediately if not years ago. All the tunnel vision patriotic cheering in these comments is very alarming. Think about where Cyber War could go, what it could do, who it would harm.
Saba Albany June 15
@M Congress should be at the helm of formulating an overall policy. The power to make war has moved from Congress to the President, and some Presidents have had an attitude of leave it up to the generals. So, the departments have gained power in some cases. Rightfully, Congress should create defensive and offensive policy which the President should endorse and the Cabinet should carry out. In Reply to TJ
J. von Hettlingen Switzerland 6h ago
John Bolton has a long history as a Russia hawk. It seems he's now in involved in ramping up cyber attacks on Russia's power grid, sending the message "You will pay a price" for cyberoperations – like election interference – against the US. ...
James San Clemente, CA 8h ago
I can understand why the U.S. would want to have this capability and to let the Russians know about it for the purposes of deterrence, but still, the news fills me with dread. The U.S. power infrastructure is far from perfect, but as anyone who has lived and worked in Russia knows, their system is much less reliable and far more prone to breakdowns. In addition, for anyone who watched the recent HBO series "Chernobyl," the idea of messing with the power grid in Russia is a little alarming. Russia still operates several RBMK reactors, and although there are repeated assurances that they are safe now, I wouldn't want to put that theory to the test by fiddling with the system. I'm sure our guys are all well aware of this, but, just sayin'...
Joseph Los Angeles 7h ago
And we'd be the first to complain if they did this to us. How about if humans finally stopped behaving like vindictive petulant 8 year olds. We're all stuck on this rock, so get along!
JohnW13 California June 15
Perhaps the most disturbing reveal in this article is that Trump has delegated an undisclosed amount of authority to engage in offensive military action by launching a cyber attack, potentially amounting to an act of war, without direct presidential oversight and approval. Trump issued "National Security Presidential Memoranda 13, giving General Nakasone far more leeway to conduct offensive online operations without receiving presidential approval." 9 Replies
Eric Peterson Napa, CA. 8h ago
@B. Rothman Individual decentralization of your home or business or a factory when the grid power goes out would be a wise move for many. This would most likely be solar or wind and possibly a generator as well, all backed by a battery. The interesting part comes in when your system is connected with the power companies grid. Will it be interactive? If it is then if the power company is hacked you are also hacked. If your system only comes on when the grid power goes off you would not be connected to the power companies grid communication and therefor you would not be hacked. An independent distributed system would keep your power on. Only used when the grid power was off. You would not be able to send excess power to the grid or get paid for excess power from solar or wind. Think military base or critical infrastructure. If all critical systems are isolated they stand alone and cannot be taken down by cyber war fare. This is a redundant system but it does keep the power on when everything else goes down. The only way I can see around this is to be connected to the power grid on a two way communication that is secured and verified to be hack free at all times. Not likely in this day of cyber war. It may be possible to shut down communication to the grid as soon as power goes down, thus isolating the location from any further attack or control by the outside. Then get conformation that it was not an attack, just an ordinary power outage and then reconnect. Simple. In Reply to Eric Peterson
Jo Williams Keizer 11h ago
Power grids as legitimate targets. Affecting hospitals, schools, civilian homes. After 9/11 there was discussion as to whether the Geneva Conventions on war should be modified, and also discussions on designating captured terrorists as POWs or....enemy combatants. A follow up article on how these ...agreements on war....might cover cyber attacks, would be helpful. Shutting off the power to a hospital- or all the hospitals, doctor's offices, clinics in a major city- how many die? Nuclear power plants as targets? If its war, call it war. At least we possible victims will know we aren't just disposable pawns in cyber gamesmanship.
Michael Pittsburgh June 15
Until recently I would be concerned if our military was acting independently of presidential direction or oversight and if the president or presidential advisors were not kept informed of initiatives our military and security forces were undertaking against other nations. Now I am thankful for it. As for the U.S. embedding malware and other malicious software in Russian, Chinese, North Korean, Iranian, Saudi, Israeli, and other potentially hostile nation infrastructure systems, we should be prepared to send them all back to campfires and candles at a moment's notice.
Nick Wright Halifax, NS 6h ago
The article reveals that the military is withholding information from the president about actions it's taking against another country, because it doesn't trust him. Predictably in the current political climate, everyone focuses on what it says about President Trump and fails to consider what it says about the military; i.e., that it feels it has a mandate to decide, at its own discretion, what military action against other nations is in the country's best interests. The military didn't trust President Obama either -- to the extraordinary extent of public insubordination by its top leadership.

How do we know that it obeyed his directive not to wage cyberwarfare against Russia, or any other country? We now have no reason to believe that it did. It doesn't matter that the military distrusts the current and previous president for different reasons. It will defy a strong, competent president as easily as it will sideline a weak, incompetent president. This is the path to the military itself becoming a danger to the state through ill-considered unilateral action.

Meredith New York 8h ago
@Andrzej Warminski...they'd call it 'un-American' to freeze US oligarchs out of ill gotten assets. Russia has its oligarchs, we have ours. Ours get protection for spiraling profits and power by mega donations to the lawmakers we elect, and our own Supreme Court legalized this Constitutional 1st A -Free Speech. This obvious collusion of big money and politics is avoided in our news media, famous for it's 1st Amendment protections from censorship. Russia has it's state media, and we have ours. FOX news functions as the GOP state media, consulting with Trump, and broadcasting his messages daily. Then social media further amplifies this across the country. 16 Replies
R. Fenwick U.S. South 11h ago
@David G. Generally increased use of the internet in any industry is a way to cut labor costs. In the pre-internet days, grid workers were likely paid more in today's dollars and jobs were more plentiful. In Reply to R. Fenwick
Doug Marcum Oxford, Ohio 7h ago
"Defend forward?" A new entry in the Newspeak dictionary... We are partying like it's 1984.
B. Honest Puyallup WA 7h ago
@JohnW13 It bothers me the Most that Mr Bolton is in the line of command there, for some ungodly reason. He is the type that would have flown drones, himself, to do a false flag attack like that. That they were above waterline is telling. I wonder what Iran found when they took whatever it was that attached itself to that tanker. I am sure that will be interesting indeed. 9 Replies
Lawrence Linn Phoenix 4h ago
"Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction..." So the commander of United States Cyber Command, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, decided to undertake an overt act of war and not tell his Commander in Chief because he thought he might disagree? If true, Trump should fire this guy tomorrow, if not court-martial him for insubordination.
AR San Francisco 8h ago
The Chinese! The Russians! They started it! Anyone who believes fairy tales from the Pentagon or Washington about this is a fool. Let's see at the end of the 'Cold War' Washington promised not expand NATO if the Russians et al handed over much of their nukes. They handed them over and Clinton, etc. marched NATO right up to the Russian border. George Kennan warned it was the greatest strategic error post WWII.

Who knows what nasty things Washington is really up to. Like the mysterious Venezuelan blackouts right at the height of their coup operation. Washington's unending saber-rattling and war mongering can never be trusted. What a horrifying thought that they would cut off heat and power to millions of Russian people in the winter. It will be ordinary people who pay the price on all sides.

Chris Rurally Isolated 1h ago
I have found that nobody listens to my critique of technology by which I state that 1) we no longer possess the skills that technology does for us, 2) our division of labor has become so extreme due to technological advancements that nobody really knows how to do anything but their one job, shopping and driving, and 3) should we lose power, we lose petroleum too, and without both we lose our society in just a few days. Food goes bad immediately, water pressure drops in cities precipitously, and people can't go to work, school or entertainment -- they can't do anything but wait for the power to come back on. But they don't wait, they loot, they attack, they scavenge, they make trouble. Anybody with a personal supply of food and water are targets. None of this is hyperbole or paranoia, yet those who make such slanders are driven by fearsome possibilities they NEVER want to face. Power outages would be akin to full-scale bombing of whole cities. The Defense Department knows this, but the citizenry does not.
Luca F Philadlphia 7h ago
Something's wrong with this article. A newspaper is telling the world that the US is messing around with Russia's power grid? Shouldn't this be super confidential? Basically now Russians are allowed to re tagliate in any way for what the USA is doing. What would be the reaction of the US if the situation was reversed? A bunch of blackouts in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco and the Russians saying "we did it"? Our military would bomb them right away!
Larry L Dallas, TX 8h ago
@Bruce1253, fragmented systems are inherently more resilient because one system going down does not mean everything else goes down. But having fragmented CONTROLS over INTERCONNECTED systems is more problematic. Lack of coordination will mean that if a problem occurs, there will be lack of oversight and will not be able to react quickly enough to contain the situation. As someone else also mentioned: old pre-Internet systems are actually far more secure because they are off the grid. Attempts by companies to make things more efficient (and profitable) actually makes them less secure. 9 Replies
polymath British Columbia 11h ago
"As Washington's strategy shifts to offense ..." What does the word "Washington" mean? It *used* to mean the U.S. gov't -- when it used to speak with more or less one voice. But it doesn't speak with one voice anymore. So, what does it mean now?
Bubba CA 2h ago
Here's the thing - if electricity goes out for any protracted time in the U.S., people will die. Many people, and quickly. The fragile veneer of social cohesion will be the first, and fatal, casualty.
dsbarclay Toronto 7h ago
If you are going to start covert operations that attack Russia's essential power grid, why brag about it? American geeks conducting cyber war can't keep a secret is one answer. Its certainly the wrong thing to do; it gives Putin more ammunition in his propaganda war against the West, and ensures he remain the 'savior' of mother Russia for the people.
HANK Newark, DE 8h ago
GREAT ! A military junta within the Trump regime...what could go wrong. I'm sure these attacks are devastating to Russian citizens, but how will it compare when the Russians are finally successful with similar attacks on us? They've already shown us what happens when they blow up and election.
Debbie Atlanta 6h ago
This brings to mind the devastating power outage in Venezuela recently. Maduro blamed the US for cyberattacking the grid. And others blamed the failing system itself. We may never know but the effects seen there are a sample of what could happen anywhere in the world with this new technology. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2019/03/09/could-venezuelas-power-outage-really-be-a-cyber-attack /
Lucy Cooke California 8h ago
@GV and, I suppose the way the game is played, Putin, and any other leader of a country who has suffered because of the US actions, and that list is long, should attach a price to our misdeeds. The word "price" always reminds me of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright saying, when asked about the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to US sanctions, "The price was worth it". With the US has The Exceptional World Leader, the world may not survive in a livable state. We need more Nelson Mandelas and Mikhail Gorbachevs. GV, do you know much Russian history? Putin's misdeeds are so minor compared to the killing of hundreds of thousands and wrecking of countries by the US... Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia 14 Replies
Vic Malen Offshore 2h ago
What is wrong with this law system? Open demand on attacking energy sources which could lead to casualties, property and environmental damage is an international criminal case and such officials must be investigated and charged immediately to avoid subsequent collateral effects.
Angelsea Maryland 4h ago
There is a real danger in deploying cyber-mines in adversary systems. All code can be broken and used in retaliation. Even so-called "encapsulated" code can be disassembled. STUXNET was disassembled and repurposed as ransom-ware. To be effective in Internet-connected systems, any attack-code must emulate "normal" behavior. To do this, publicly available programming code, such as, Java, Perl, etc., is used as components of the attack-code. Once the encapsulation of the code is broken, and it will be, the code can be reverse-engineered, defended against, and repurposed to use against us. CYBERCOM, tread lightly.
Socrates Downtown Verona. NJ 7h ago
@TMah Russian hackers are generally superior to American hackers. This won't end well. 9 Replies
markd michigan 8h ago
Is it just me or shouldn't this kind of program be, you know, black? Eyes only, top secret. The US would have a lot more to lose than Russia if we lost the East Coast for a few weeks. We don't stockpile transformers which are the backbones of the grid so if Russia overloaded a few thousand of them we'd be down for months. We shouldn't "overbound our steps" as Stan Laurel used to say. 1 Reply
Righty America 8h ago
@Bruce1253 exactly. We experienced the giant blackout of 2003. You really can't imagine how damaging this can be until you experience it. We lived somewhat near the interstate and hundreds of people had to pull off at our exit - they were low on gas, and there was no way to get gas. In the city, we know someone who was stuck in a subway under the East River for hours not even knowing what had happened, then had to crawl through dirty tunnels to get up to the streets. These are just the relatively minor things that happen in the first few hours. People were generally helpful, but I can't imagine that lasting over a few days. we don't need to be tested like this. We need to be protected. 9 Replies
Old Maywood Arlington, VA 8h ago
Think on this for just a bit... These authorities were delegated downwards and the plans are largely being kept from Trump because the military and other national security authorities don't trust him not to tell Russia about them. That's right, the military does not trust Trump not to tell Russia or "put Russia first." The good news is that as long as this story stays in the newspapers and not on TV, Trump will never know about it.
AR San Francisco 11h ago
Yes but is a useful narrative created by the Clinton campaign to justify their electoral debacle. It also serves as a useful tool to seek to deligitimize Trump (like the Republicans with Whitewater and 'birther' angles-- both parties equally rotten liars). What is most dangerous is the Democrats resurrection of McCarthyite and jingoistic denunciations of 'foreign' influences (like BLM), and calls for greater and greater censorship of the media and social media. While that seems attractive when applied to rightists, they are fools not to understand it will be enforced against the left first and foremost. In Reply to Dan K
Ed Watters San Francisco 2h ago
Yeah, and I'm pretty certain that Venezuela's accusations of US online attack on their power grid has merit.
sonnel Isla Vista, CA 7h ago
Oh great, American politicians who think power originates in the plug on the wall making decisions about things that neither their IQ nor their training allow them to understand. I can hear our President saying, "we just turned off power to the bad guys' houses and crime dens". Meanwhile, our top leaders will never report how many die in the hospitals or accidents that their messing with the power grids in other countries have caused. Just like... bombing Iraq. Collateral damage: out of sight, out of mind.
Marcus Aurelius Terra Incognita 11h ago
@Socrates As usual, the article read in its entirety tells a different story about what the President's involvement actually was and why presidential briefing wasn't required. "Mr. Trump issued new authorities to Cyber Command last summer, in a still-classified document known as National Security Presidential Memoranda 13, giving General Nakasone far more leeway to conduct offensive online operations without receiving presidential approval." And as to what the -- again, as usual, "anonymous") officials purportedly aside: "Because the new law defines the actions in cyberspace as akin to traditional military activity on the ground, in the air or at sea, no such briefing would be necessary, they added." In Reply to Mauichuck
Blank Venice 8h ago
@jrinsc Wisely our military and intelligence 'leaders' restrict information flow to Individual-1. He is very Kirkland Russian asset. Remember that he passed Top Secret information to Russians in the Oval Office as a Russian press entourage looked on. 16 Replies
A Goldstein Portland 8h ago
This is a new definition of war in the 21st century, cyber-war, and I suspect that most Americans, especially Trump supporters are nearly clueless about what is at stake. With Putin and other authoritarian rulers, we must put on display our capabilities in more than nuclear warheads and naval powers. I trust the U.S. intelligence agencies and military much more than the executive branch of government. This is not my preference but it reflects the unprecedented time in which we are living.
Frank Raleigh, NC 7h ago
From yesterdays article on US doing trying to start a war with Iran. That was regarding oil tankers that were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. Your editorial on that yesterday stated that we need to stay on top of this tanker violence because of: "American objectives in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere across the region." Those tankers are not American and the serial lying about the middle east and Russia and of course Venezuela are pathetic. All of this combined with climate change, world population growth and a news media that is only doing the "Manufacturing Consent" thing for the corporations including military industrial complex can only lead to world disaster. It is existential. Russia has been interfering with our military recently and that is another horrid example of why Donald Trump is the worst president we have ever had. A very dangerous man who surrounds himself with the most ignorant, hysterical, people who support the military industrial complex over anything else. Billions and billions of money is given to the military by the congress whenever they ask. We do not look for peace; we look to support the MIC at all costs and those COSTS ARE VERY, VERY HIGH AND GLOOMY. Attacking Russian power plants? Faking news for Venezuela and Iran? "American objectives in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere across the region?" Wake up folks. It's up to you; no one else can save us!
Susan Anderson Boston 8h ago
@jrinsc And, of course, Trump and Senate Republicans will reverse the freezing, as has been done in the past. 16 Replies
Raven Earth 2h ago
Imagine a world where one country tried to tell every other country in the world who to be friends with, who to trade with, who their rulers should be, what products they should buy and from whom, what laws they should pass, what meetings they should attend, how to live, etc, etc. And imagine this same world where the people who lived in this bully of a country thought they and their country had the God-given right to tell other people in other countries how to live. Sounds like some future dystopian hellscape, right? Surprise! It's not. This is 'Murica! in the 21st century on planet Earth.
Leslie Amherst 7h ago
How can we aggress in this manner and then be so indignant when it is done to us?? I hate this!! I don't want to be a citizen of a country that attacks others. I want peace! Defense is understandable; attack is not.
Aram Hollman Arlington, MA 2h ago
The newer and more digital a system is, the more vulnerable it is to hacking. The older and less digital it is, the less vulnerable. That probably makes us more vulnerable than Russia, but our somewhat obsolete infrastructure (the one we need to spend $1 trillion on) may be less vulnerable than expected due to its obsolescence. The inherent immorality of going after power plants, refineries, and other non-military targets is that the effects target civilians. The fact that one nation may have done so (Russia, to Ukraine's electricity during a winter) does not justify another nation doing the same.
J Denver 7h ago
This entire notification is a message for one person... Trump. This is the intelligence agencies using their newfound powers that lack White House oversight, to signal to the White House that the intelligence agencies are DEEP inside Russia's systems and that they will know if Trump shows up inside those systems during the next election cycle. They can't stop Russia from waging cyber war... and they can't stop Trump from welcoming help from or siding with Russia... but they can send a message that they will know if this administration "goes there"... again...
ebmem Memphis, TN 4h ago
@Stan Chaz MAD [mutual assured destruction] between Russia and the United States prevented nuclear devastation because both sides knew they couldn't win. We are in a different universe now. Russia, with its poor economy one fifth of the US is no longer a superpower, although it is rebuilding its network of client states [with some like Cuba and Venezuela dying on the vine, and other former satellites like Ukraine and Georgia resisting their reacquisition by Russia.] China is also a growing player, expanding its wealth an political and economic strength. Various quasi stateless terrorist groups can damage the US and not experience appropriate retaliation because they have no official governments or homelands to hold accountable. In Reply to Ron
LibertyLover California 8h ago
@David Henderson I would suggest going back and reading some of the material Edward Snowden revealed about the NSA. Those capabilities will be oriented toward this objective now rather than just conventional espionage. The expertise is second to none. For that matter, read the DOJ indictment of the 12 GRU officers who hacked the DNC. The amount of detail described there will make you understand their capabilities. It's as if they were in the room with them. 7 Replies
Bob M Whitestone, NY 7h ago
This is very concerning on why the Trump administration would disclose this to the public. What's their motive? More concerning is that Trump in his infinite wisdom had the idea of setting up a joint cyber security task force with none other than Russia. Weird.
Loyd Collins Laurens,SC 7h ago
@Telly55 And this from the article. Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction -- and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister. 4 Replies
WeHadAllBetterPayAttentionNow Southwest 11h ago
I am not so sure I believe much in this. Bragging about such a program would be counterproductive. Meanwhile, our Republican president and Senate continue to deny Russian interference in our elections and do nothing about it.
Chris San Francisco 7h ago
Anyone who thinks that our military is not constantly fighting our enemies doesn't know anything about the military. Some version of this kind of thing has been ongoing throughout history. They are very good at it, often the best in the world. That the US officials would reveal this information can be nothing but part of a strategy related to global objectives, including but not limited to Russia. The revelation itself can be considered a kind of weapon, though, of course, the general public is not privy to it's purpose. I trust the competence of our military almost completely, but I do not trust their ability to set national policy. They control some enormous hammers, and there are many things in the world that could look like a nail. The erosion of civilian oversight described in this article is terrifying. Unfortunately we're all getting used to that.
Dan K Louisville, CO 11h ago
@C.O. I would suggest that you read the Mueller Report. In Reply to Dan K
stan continople brooklyn 8h ago
If I was Russia, I'd demonstrate my prowess by making the NYC subway system run on time. That would cause absolute panic.
chambolle Bainbridge Island 7h ago
All of which begs the question, why on earth do we spend about $750 billion a year on military hardware and personnel, when our adversaries have learned to do as much damage as they want without firing a shell, torpedo or missile? And, it would appear -- and one would hope -- so can we. It cost Russia next to nothing to commence the unraveling of America's political system - a few hackers sitting in cubicles, each with a laptop and an internet connection accomplished that, with the help of Fox News, facebook, instagram, you tube and, above all, an uneducated, bible-thumping American populace uninterested in facts and seemingly incapable of rational thought.
Mike LaFleur Minneapolis, MN 7h ago
To whom it may concern: This article would be far more credible if it listed the names of the companies that make and sell the vulnerable power plant operating systems, transmission line management systems, and the power distribution systems. Which systems are vulnerable? Emerson's? ABB's? Siemens? Who's switch gear is vulnerable? Are they infiltrating the operating systems, the sensors, communications, the actuators, or maybe even the metering? Even the US electric grid is, for the most part, very unsophisticated. Grid operators have very limited visibility into what is happening on the grid. In most of the US, when there is a power outage, linemen are dispatched in trucks to visually look for downed wires with their eyes!!! No computers needed. Combine the fact that Trump shows no interest in fighting election interference with the improbability of vast penetration into the electric grid and all you have left is a paper tiger named John Bolton. This article is likely fake news. Mike
dominic KL 7h ago
I don't quite understand this, if US know that Russia is illegally hacking in to US power grids you either remove the malware or lodge a complaint with with the UN or whatever international authorities involved. If you hack back then you are no better then Russia.
Stuart Alaska 8h ago
@tim k If there was no such thing as global warming your point would be a cogent one. Unfortunately, we can't ignore that fact. 14 Replies
george coastline 7h ago
HOW TO WIN AN ELECTION WITHOUT STEALING ANY EMAILS 1 Restrict early voting in key swing states 2 Pass laws discouraging absentee ballots in those same states 3 On election day, turn off the power in the core of every large city where democrats usually win by large margins, heavily suppressing turnout 4 Count the ballots: Trump wins the state and is re-elected President.
HonorB14U Michigan 7h ago
America decides our wins and losses; not Russia! We decide how much we lose and what success we win on.
Michael Feeley Honolulu 4h ago
Maybe we could do something really useful and sabotage Facebook and Twitter. Now there's an idea that would improve the quality of life.
Michael Tyndall San Francisco 11h ago
My concern with US cyber warfare is the possibility the same code is turned around and used against us or our allies (I think we still have those outside outside our favored Sunni and right wing autocracies). The possibility of boomerang cyber mischief isn't confined to governments either. Remember the stolen NSA hacking tools that ended up on the dark web? Those have been turned against municipal governments and individuals in the form of ransom ware. Perhaps we can limit such risks by forming the most sophisticated cyber weapons as binary tools. Ones where the full capability isn't effective without two secret parts, only one part of which is installed in an adversary's infrastructure. But once fully deployed, there's still the risk the weapon is identified, preserved, and later redeployed against us. I think there are also ways for our adversaries to guard against erasure protocols within cyber weapons. Lastly, we still don't know if our president is a Russian asset. Maybe he just really likes murderous kleptocrats and autocrats like Putin, Kim, MBS, MBZ, and Duterte. Maybe he just has to talk privately with no one else from our side listening. Either way, none of our current top secrets or foreign intelligence assets may be safe while he's in office, or even after he leaves (unless he's in jail).
B. Honest Puyallup WA 8h ago
@maureen f. Israel released Stuxnet, just a minor correction there. That is actually more problem than had we done it, Israel is more unstable than we are, and that says something. In Reply to B. Honest
Jim Georgia 6h ago
What was published here is not classified and if you read the article, you will know that administration officials had no problem with the publication of this work. Assange, on the other hand, definitely published stolen classified information and may have solicited and facilitated its acquisition -- a crime. In Reply to Jim
Alex E elmont, ny 7h ago
I thought that Trump is a stooge of Putin, so, he won't take any action against Russia. This is the misinformation NY Times and other fake news have been telling Americans and the world. Now by releasing this classified information they are jeopardizing American National security. No wonder they are called enemies of the people. 2 Replies
Andy Salt Lake City, Utah 7h ago
Escalating attacks? Or informing Russia of their weaknesses? Cyber assault is inherently centered around stealth. Sounds to me like Trump is intentionally tipping our hand. A submarine isn't much use if you teach your enemy how to find it. The description presented here more closely resembles a joint exercise. However, the US is the only one providing intelligence. Surprise, surprise. Unilaterally providing intelligence to Putin no less.
J Darby Woodinville, WA 7h ago
Good news, I hope we're hitting the cyber bullies as hard or harder than they're hitting us. And it's wise to let trump in on as little as possible.
pb calif 8h ago
This sounds like a coverup story for Trump and the GOP. If it were true, it would have been classified. Gimme a break! Vote them out!
Jomo San Diego 8h ago
Just think what will happen when Russia plants malware into all our self-driving cars.
Mark Conway Naples FL 4h ago
I don't understand why Trump allows such threatening behavior toward one of his closest allies. Isn't he in control of his own government?
Frank Seattle 6h ago
US taxpayers still paying for government officials to create new malware that will eventually be turned against US taxpayers. Thanks "public servants".
Mary Lake Worth FL 7h ago
@M Trump has made unpresented changes much like a fascist dictator, which he wants to be. It's just a wing and a prayer that our government hasn't ceased to function effectively, due to long-standing norms and those who would resist his worst impulses. All Russia would need is another cosy private meeting with Trump to have him bragging about this new secret weapon to deliver all this for Comrad Putin to use on us. Flattery is the way to his heart and there goes everything that should be kept under wraps for security. 8 Replies
md green Topanga, Ca. 8h ago
@GV Couldn't agree more! And it would make the Straits of Hormuz attach a much different issue. What's it going to take to get this oil addicted country to switch to renewables? I guess we'll find out. 14 Replies
Rebel in Disguise TO, Canada 8h ago
This doesn't bode well for Putin's next job performance appraisal of the POTUS he worked so hard to put into power. Trump's been kept in the dark by Americans who aren't subservient to Putin.
New World NYC 8h ago
I keep 14 days worth of water, food, and candles in my apt. I live on the 12th floor and twice a week I use the stairs to get up to my apt. I also keep a shotgun and cash
David Oak Lawn 4h ago
You see how Donald Trump's Iran claims were eaten up by the mainstream media. Now you see how Trump is playing both sides. He claims he wants to be lenient with Russia (which is a fool's errand) but his administration is getting tougher with Russia. Trump is easy to manipulate because he is so beholden to so many interests. Sorry to say it, but this makes him an attractive candidate to powerful interests.
Tim Nelson Seattle 8h ago
The best defense is a good offense, and a vital part of this American offensive capability is to keep the details out of the hands of this president. I have long waited to hear of how we are actively and effectively responding to Russian aggression, but in this age of Trump I have feared his ability to undermine any steps on our part. Of course he is beholden to the regime that got him elected. It is essential to counter the aggression of authoritarian regimes like Putin's and just as important to rid America in 2020 of the authoritarian menace that is Donald Trump.
TTC USA 2h ago
I thought America was the country that always played by the rules, and we're upset because we've been taken advantage of for too long. But apparently we're attacking another nation's power grid. Hypocrites we are. It's better if we're just honest with ourselves. Admit that we spin facts to feed our narrative, to justify the damage we cause to other nations. Next nation to justify going to war with? China. Cause only we can be #1.
uga muga miami fl 4h ago
Finally something presidential about Trump. They say there's a lot of symbolism to the presidency and this piece reflects an instance where he's president in name only.
K. H. Boston 8h ago
GOOD! About time we started punching back. Russia is mistaken if it thinks it can wantonly interfere in other countries (Salisbury, 2016, etc.) without repercussion. Good job boys.
Duane McPherson Groveland, NY 7h ago
Well, if the US decides to engage in some covert cyber-warfare then we should be safe, because the NSA has some really powerful hacking tools. So I'm sleeping easy tonight. Oh, wait, you say those tools got misplaced and lost? Never mind then, just buy some candles for light and a Coleman stove to cook on. You'll be fine; it'll be fun, just like camping out. In your own kitchen.
T OC 4h ago
It is time to go on the offensive in this Cold War. We've been on the losing defensive side of this way too long.
shiningstars122 CT 11h ago
Its obvious that we need to protect our online infrastructure in ways we have never done before, which a majority of the US economy uses. If this is not the case I get nervous if we start kicking the hornets next and we are not fully prepared for the response. As a consumer I am very wary of buying and using " smart" products in my home. It is obvious that the private sector has not even fortified their own firewalls to protect themselves. Do you think that Alexsa or that new refrigerator will have the level of encryption and protection guess against even the most basic cyber attack. I think a parallel approach is to fortify our own network in ways that have not occurred before, but sadly too much of these illegal breaches are based on human error and when it comes to that one you will never be fully secure. It is clear the rules of engagement for cyber warfare need to be discussed and treaties need to be put in play to protect civilians, who sadly in warfare always pay the highest prices when our maligned leaders, like the one currently holding office, go off the deep end.
Easy Goer Louisiana 8h ago
@Bruce1253 Agree. However, imagine your life without any power, for good? Everyone involved, whether they be American, Russian, Chinese, Korean, etc. is playing a deadly chess game, and humanity are the pawns. 9 Replies
steve CT 7h ago
So now we are going to attack other countries power grids , to hurt citizens like it seems we did to Venezuela to try and install our puppet Gaido, because we want to control their oil the largest in the world. We did not like their election of President Maduro so we tried to overthrow him because he wasn't willing to be controlled, like the 73% of dictators around the world that are our allies that we sell arms too. We have never cared about other countries elections, I also wonder if our elections are rigged, with our electronic machines supplied by questionable corporations. Now we are blaming the Russian government for what a troll farm company did in Russia buying election ads for clickbait so they could profit. This sounds like the 1950's red scare. Russia should be our friend just like Iran, except we ally with countries like Saudi Arabia the largest financier of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and that spreads Wahhabism. This is all so our Military Industrial Complex can profit needing ever larger weapons systems. Peace is not profitable it seems for our Oligarchy.
Robert Richardson Halifax June 15
If the US is openly pursuing this course, and succeeds, I would expect Putin to hit back in kind, by shutting down the power grids of America's less prepared allies. Like Canada, where our aging power grid is already struggling, without being attacked. 1 Reply
PE Seattle 11h ago
I'm not sure we want to perpetuate this tactic as fair game in war. Do we want our power grid hacked? This puts regular people at risk of have no electricity, no heat, no AC. Our war is not with regular people. Our war is with oligarchs.
Marc Chicago 7h ago
"Under the law, those actions [cyber espionage against U.S. adversaries] can now be authorized by the defense secretary without special presidential approval." Because Donny would pick up the phone to tattle to his BFF Vlad.
New World NYC 4h ago
One day we're all gonna wake up and look at our bank statements, 401Ks and our Etrade accounts and see a $0.00 balance. Then what ?
stefanie santa fe nm 7h ago
I thought the stable genius did not reveal what he was doing in terms of attacking another country. And if his good bro, Putin, said nothing was going on, why is the US attacking Russia? (sarcasm).
John Grillo Edgewater, MD 8h ago
What an absurd, clearly unprecedented, and highly dangerous state this country is in when the Commander-in-Chief, as reported herein, cannot be trusted by our own military and intelligence leaders with probably compartmentalized, top secret classified information about our cyber warfare capabilities and plans against Russia for fear that he could very well compromise the operation. Isn't this yet another reason why Trump should be removed from office by impeachment? What his own Administration's national security people are saying is that their leader cannot be trusted with the most sensitive information held by the government. If this Fake President is a threat to the nation on a scale of that profound magnitude, he cannot and must not be allowed to remain in office. Congress, are you listening???
C. Gregory California 2h ago
"Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail..." Um, isn't it normal procedure to brief the president of the United States about major changes in military strategy like this? I mean, the president is supposedly "commander in chief." How about Congress, or at least the relevant Congressional committees? Are they being kept in the loop? Or are Bolton and Co. just winging it on their own? If so, that's quite disturbing.
rjh NY 4h ago
So if a Russian nuclear plant has a meltdown or other catastrophe, will they be justified in wondering if the US caused it? Also, the malware against Iran spread to other countries even thought that was not intended to do so.
saucier Pittsburgh 7h ago
Wasn't their just an excellent show on HBO that shows what happens when you mess with controlling power? No, not Game of Thrones. Chernobyl. Nuclear comprises 20% of Russia's electricity generation. Do we really want our fingerprints all over the crime scene should something go wrong? Can't we mess with computer controlled vodka distillation instead?
Norman McDougall Canada 8h ago
Let me understand this. The same USA that is outraged by Russian election hacking is simultaneously conducting cyber-attacks on Russian infrastructure? This situation would be merely ironic if it weren't so callously hypocritical.
just Robert North Carolina 8h ago
It would be nice to think that the self proclaimed 'genius Trump knows something about the cyber war we are fighting or at least trust the experts on the front lines of this war. As it is he looks into Putin's eyes and declares him without sin and denies that Russia used cyber space to hack our 2016 elections and even declares that this information can be used to help his campaign. He prevaricates a little, but we heard you the first time, Mr.Trump. Our intelligence agencies may be planting these bugs in the Russian electric grid, but what we need is a leader who has the intelligence and wisdom to guide its use.
larry dc 8h ago
So CyberCommand doesn't brief the President because (1) they don't think the law requires them to do so, (2) and they don't trust him with important information? This is deeply disturbing on multiple fronts.
Larry L Dallas, TX 7h ago
@Barbara, in the past, before urbanism, it was possible to survive because you could live off the land. This is not a possibility in the middle of NYC, DC or SF. 9 Replies
joshbarnes Honolulu, HI 8h ago
It will all end in tears, I know it.

[Jun 15, 2019] Game On Pompeo Blames Iran, Calls Attacks 'Threat to International Peace'

Notable quotes:
"... A few years ago, Sheldon Adelson wanted the US to drop a nuke on Iran. Video below. What Sheldon wants, Trump the errand-boy delivers. The fact that the US public is overwhelmingly against a war with Iran is completely irrelevant. ..."
"... Probably a 50/50 chance it was an American-Saudi-Israel false flag. ..."
"... Just like how the Reichstag Fire took place and by pure happenstance, the Nazis had the Enabling Act all ready to go. ..."
"... If I was a betting man I'd put my money on the "actual" culprits being Mossad, CIA, MI6 or any combination of the three. The Neocons and Zionists in Washington are traitors to our Constitutional Republic! Don't let them drag us into another foreign war for Israel! ..."
"... Remember the USS Liberty! Never Forget! ..."
"... This updated post from "Moon of Alabama" is definitely worth reading: "Today's Attacks On Ships In The Gulf Of Oman Are Not In Iran's Interest – Or Are They? (Updated)": https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/06/todays-attacks-on-ships-in-the-gulf-of-oman-are-not-in-irans-interest.html#more ..."
"... Maybe Colin Powell can come out of retirement and deliver the US/neocon presentation at the UN Security Council: https://www.youtube.com/embed/Rp6WuTSTyS8 ..."
"... The only person whom I can recall endlessly deceiving on this is Benjamin Netanyahu, whom I recall making speech after speech claiming that Iran was just about to have nuclear weapons. He's been doing that for over a decade now. ..."
"... As for incentives/disincentives, Mossad doesn't have much disincentive. If they are caught, they and their friends in the USA will scream 'Fake News!'. ..."
"... Who wants war? Saudis to prop up oil prices and get Iran in trouble? Pompeo because he wants to bring on the Rapture and the return of JC? Donald Trump so he can be a "wartime president" stir up his base and please the military contractor donors? Netanyahu to distract from his corruption charges and weaken Iranian Islamists? Some really stupid underground hardliners in Iran? ..."
"... I forgot one more who wants war: Bolton because he is an immoral idiot who wants to strut. ..."
Jun 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Clyde Schechter, says: June 14, 2019 at 4:58 pm

Back in the 1960's as the Cuban missile crisis was brewing, JFK conferred with then French president Charles DeGaulle and offered to show him the reconnaissance pictures showing the Russian missiles in Cuba. DeGaulle is said to have replied "No, I do not need to see pictures. The word of the President of the United States is enough."

It's impossible to imagine anyone saying that today, unless they still believe in the tooth fairy.

David Harrell , says: June 14, 2019 at 9:50 pm
It very well could an act by a state that according to an elite Army warfare college, is "known to disregard international law to accomplish mission" and also a "wildcard. Ruthless and cunning. Has capability to target U.S. forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act."

What state? See "U.S. troops would enforce peace under Army study," Washington Times, September 10, 2001.

Janwaar Bibi , says: June 14, 2019 at 11:11 pm
A few years ago, Sheldon Adelson wanted the US to drop a nuke on Iran. Video below. What Sheldon wants, Trump the errand-boy delivers. The fact that the US public is overwhelmingly against a war with Iran is completely irrelevant.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/6sCW4IasWXc

Sydney , says: June 15, 2019 at 3:02 pm
Yes, Iran is to be blamed! Absolutely true, US President himself said so!

Let's look at some facts and then deductions. So, the US drone was following the Iranian boat. Iranians saw the drone, fired at it and missed. Regardless, they continued their "journey" to the tanker, all the while their supreme leader was trying to persuade Abe to help Iran.

Tump: It was Iran the terrorist nation, not leaders but the nation. Not long ago Trump lauded Iranians as very nice people. If the drone was there, why don't we see the beginning of the boat's journey and then where that boat with the mine went? According to Mr Pompeo and Mr Bolton, the nation of terrorists is not only evil but stupid too. Yet no other actor in the region has the sophistication to perform such an act (that is stupid act) – according to Mr.Pompeo. Hm who else, I wonder would be interested in bringing down Iran? I can't think even of one such actor.

Lily Sandoz , says: June 15, 2019 at 3:08 pm
Lest we forget. Gen. Wesley Clark's revelation. This was first revealed to General Wesley Clark in 1991 by neo-con Paul Wolfowitz. The seven countries which were to be invaded and blessed with regime change were Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, and the big prize, Iran with its wealth of resources and potential market of over 70 million persons.This same plan was revealed again to General Clark during a visit to the Pentagon ten days after 9-11, the event that presented the neo-cons, and no doubt others behind the scenes, with their Pearl Harbor, their justification to proceed with the plan, somewhat conveniently. You can see Clark say it in person on YouTube if you don't believe it.
grumpy realist , says: June 13, 2019 at 5:26 pm
The only thing missing is a bunch of Iranian passports "just accidentally found" near the ships with a big floating arrow pointing towards them, just in case we're clueless. If we get dragged into a bunfight with Iran because of this we deserve all the opprobrium anyone hurls at us–if only for our outright stupidity.
cdugga , says: June 13, 2019 at 5:35 pm
Who exactly wants the US to go to war with Iran? Iran?
Whitehead , says: June 13, 2019 at 5:52 pm
""This assessment is based on intelligence [I think we already know what the Saudis and Israelis want us to think], the weapons used [which were what again?], the level of expertise needed to execute the operation [more than what was needed to prove the existence of fake WMDs], recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping ['Iranian attacks' according to who, exactly?], and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication [so sophisticated there's no evidence they did it]," the Secretary said, without taking questions [or citing proof]"

He doesn't even bother with a Colin Powell style PowerPoint to convince us he believes any of the horsesh!t he's peddling. Real contempt for the American public.

Chris in Appalachia , says: June 13, 2019 at 5:57 pm
Probably a 50/50 chance it was an American-Saudi-Israel false flag.
Marky Mark , says: June 13, 2019 at 6:02 pm
It's always something maritime
USS Maine
The Maddox
Lusitania

Not a lot of witnesses, but heavy on consequences

mark_be , says: June 13, 2019 at 6:02 pm
Let's quote that fellow with the little moustache, shortly before he ordered the invasion of Poland: "I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn't matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth." To think that the only obstacle between peace and war is a president too stupid to understand that he brought this on himself.
EarlyBird , says: June 13, 2019 at 6:20 pm
It's very sad that I trust the word of the Ayatollah Khameni more than the President of the United States or any of his spokesman. The proxy which had the weapons, level of expertise needed to execute the operation, resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication is called the Central Intelligence Agency.
Kirt Higdon , says: June 13, 2019 at 6:32 pm
Reeks of false flag pretense by the neo-cons for war! Betting the US, Saudis or Israelis are responsible for this – perhaps all of them.
Sid Finster , says: June 13, 2019 at 6:37 pm
How utterly convenient! Abe is meeting with the Iranian leadership, what better time to attack Japanese tankers (what better time for Saudi Arabia, Israel and the neocons, that is)? Not 24 hours go by after the supposed attack and Pompeo already knows who did it and has a response ready. Why, it's almost like his mind were already made up! (But when it comes to, say, that Saudi prince who chops up journalists, it seems that we can never ever ever really know what happened!)

Just like how the Reichstag Fire took place and by pure happenstance, the Nazis had the Enabling Act all ready to go.

Sarcasm aside, everyone knows that Pompeo is lying, looking for an excuse to escalate tensions. The question is whether anyone will do anything about it.

Whine Merchant , says: June 13, 2019 at 6:44 pm
Jarred says that Bibi swears it wasn't Mossad, and Pompeo knows the pecking order in the White House, so he parrots the party line.
JEinCA , says: June 13, 2019 at 6:51 pm
If I was a betting man I'd put my money on the "actual" culprits being Mossad, CIA, MI6 or any combination of the three. The Neocons and Zionists in Washington are traitors to our Constitutional Republic! Don't let them drag us into another foreign war for Israel!

Remember the USS Liberty! Never Forget!

Gene Smolko , says: June 13, 2019 at 7:05 pm
Anyone believe this warmongering liar?
Krishnan Venkatram , says: June 13, 2019 at 7:09 pm
It is not unreasonable to smell a Bolton/MEK sized rat in this
dstraws , says: June 13, 2019 at 7:27 pm
And so it begins. An unwarranted accusation by a war-hawk, surprise.. surprise.
Myron K Hudson , says: June 13, 2019 at 7:28 pm
This is stupid and reckless enough to be the work of Saudi Arabia. Or Bolton and Pompeo.
Kurt Gayle , says: June 13, 2019 at 8:42 pm
Jason Ditz, the News Editor at Antiwar.com reports: "Pompeo's declaration of Iran's guilt was based chiefly on similar incidents happening in mid-May. John Bolton and Pompeo blamed Iran then, and since this was the same sort of thing, they blame Iran now. The problem is, they have offered no evidence Iran was responsible for the first incidents, let alone today's, and are just tying them all together. Pompeo rattled off a list of things to blame Iran for, including multiple incidents that were done by Yemen's Houthis, a rocket fired in Iraq that was never convincingly blamed on anyone, and an Afghanistan bombing that clearly was nothing to do with Iran at all."

Jason Ditz goes on to report: "The big questions are, as always, motive. Iran has no conceivable reason to attack such ships. In this case, one of the ships is even Japanese-owned. Japan is a very important trading partner of Iran, and Japan's prime minister Abe Shinzo is visiting Iran right now, trying to reduce tensions. Abe has also declared Iran to have no intention to make nuclear arms. This would be a preposterous move for Iran to even consider. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif declared that 'suspicious doesn't begin to describe' what happened, noting that the attacks were timed to when Japanese PM Abe Shinzo was meeting with Iran's Supreme Leader. Abe's meeting was also a subject of Pompeo's comments, as Pompeo falsely accused Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of having refused the meeting with Abe. In reality, the meeting took place, and Khamenei simply rejected a proposal to trade messages with President Trump. Pompeo went on to declare the attack on a Japanese ship during Abe's Iran visit as an Iranian 'insult to Japan.' This all rests on the US assumption of Iran's guilt, and as Zarif points out, makes the attack look suspiciously like it might have been carried out for the benefit of the anti-Iran narrative. "

https://news.antiwar.com/2019/06/13/two-tankers-attacked-in-gulf-of-oman/

Janwaar Bibi , says: June 13, 2019 at 9:01 pm
I read somewhere that the Iranians used weapons of mass destruction given to them by Saddam to attack the USS Maine in the Gulf of Tonkin, taking American lives on American soil.
Myx , says: June 13, 2019 at 9:15 pm
What was that headline in the Onion? "An attack on Japanese oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman is an attack on America itself?"
Inspector General , says: June 13, 2019 at 9:20 pm
Odd that just yesterday I watched the video entitled, "Debunking a Century of War Lies."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw0-ASR4sr8

I had forgotten that basically all wars are "protected by a bodyguard of lies," according to the video. Most poignant to me was the Iraqi woman pleading to Congress about Sadam Hussein's destruction of incubators, which George HW Bush later referenced as the "babies strewn about the floor like firewood." Except it was all fabricated by a PR firm!

Ken T , says: June 13, 2019 at 9:52 pm
cui bono ?

Is anyone really that delusional to believe that Iran is going to attack a Japanese tanker while the Japanese PM is meeting with the Ayatollah? The ONLY explanation that makes sense is that it was planned in the White House by Pompeo and Bolton. Whether it was with or without Trump's knowledge and approval is irrelevant. P & B have been openly salivating for any excuse to start a war with Iran, and Trump has given them free rein. It is a war crime, and all three are guilty.

PAX , says: June 14, 2019 at 12:09 am
The USS Liberty is spot on. That was our Versailles Treaty and Johnson ceded much of our foreign policy and intelligence to Israel – we capitulated and have continued to capitulate to Israel. Things are looking grim and look like a repeat of Iraq. What can stop this momentum to war?
Iron Felix , says: June 14, 2019 at 12:10 am
Well, it seems that just about 100% of those who comment here have this figured out. Once these things were a bit more sophisticated, but now the Empire doesn't seem to care if its schemes are blatantly transparent.

Abe has been closely consulting with Trump and the Iranians as a go-between to create the conditions which can allow Trump to save face now that Bolton's and Pompeo's campaign against Iran is a big fat failure.

It is clear who hopes to gain by this little stunt, which will not go anywhere. Abe is certainly not going to be fooled by any of this. Don't expect the WaPo or the NYT to expose this obvious false flag.

Jiyushugi , says: June 14, 2019 at 12:47 am
What a shame that more Americans haven't read 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich', by William L. Shirer ..
Daath , says: June 14, 2019 at 2:08 am
Iran is a rather divided country, and some groups regard USA with as much hatred and suspicion as the neocons hold towards them. The responsible party might have been IRGC, intending to raise tensions enough to make their government's current fence-straddling act unviable and force them to scrap the JCPA.

I'd try to avoid the logic that it must have been Saudis/Israel/USA, because if it was Iran, the likes of Bolton would somehow be in the right. They're not. So far, Iran hasn't been the one responsible for the vast majority of provocations, and even if it elements on their side were did this, the chickenhawks running USA's national security won't bother to secure proof before escalating. It's not a secret that they want war and aren't particularly picky about how they get it.

Brian Villanueva , says: June 14, 2019 at 2:15 am
Saudi Arabia. The other agencies speculated here are off the mark: Israel would fear getting caught, CIA leaks like a sieve, MI6 has no incentive. But the Saudis? They have the combination of economic incentives, religious hatred, technical knowledge, advanced (American) weaponry, and who-gives-a-crap-if-we-get-caught attitude.
Deacon Blue , says: June 14, 2019 at 3:19 am
In these matters, I know who NOT to believe.
HenionJD , says: June 14, 2019 at 7:14 am
And I have a bridge to sell y'all.
Kent , says: June 14, 2019 at 8:50 am
Results:

1. US attacks Iran on false pretenses and the world knows it.

2. Iran destroys shipping through the Straits of Hormuz.

3. Gasoline goes to $10/gallon, if you can find it.

4. The world's economy collapses, with international debt collapse and a global run on banks.

5. Unemployment goes to 25% and prices go through the roof as the dollar collapses in value and the US can't afford to import Chinese products.

6. Bernie Sanders is elected president, and the US becomes a democratic socialist state.

Way to go there Donnie.

Kurt Gayle , says: June 14, 2019 at 8:52 am
This updated post from "Moon of Alabama" is definitely worth reading: "Today's Attacks On Ships In The Gulf Of Oman Are Not In Iran's Interest – Or Are They? (Updated)": https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/06/todays-attacks-on-ships-in-the-gulf-of-oman-are-not-in-irans-interest.html#more
Sam , says: June 14, 2019 at 8:53 am
Given Iran's history of endless deception in their nuclear weapons development program, might all these suggestions of these attacks being an American fabrication be a bit premature? How about even a tiny bit of objectivity? Or did Larsen write all these comments? (:
TheSnark , says: June 14, 2019 at 9:02 am
I have a question about the video footage supposedly showing Iranians removing a mine from a tanker. The quality of the picture is no better than that we saw back in the 1965 Tonkin Gulf incident, when N Vietnamese boats allegedly attacked a US Navy ship. But that was 54 years ago. In video technology today 1080p is a standard resolution, 4k is pretty common. Why is the US Navy still showing something that looks like it came from my Dad's 8mm home movie set-up?
Kurt Gayle , says: June 14, 2019 at 9:55 am
Maybe Colin Powell can come out of retirement and deliver the US/neocon presentation at the UN Security Council: https://www.youtube.com/embed/Rp6WuTSTyS8
FJR - Atlanta , says: June 14, 2019 at 9:58 am
Even Jesse Smollett isn't buying this.
Sid Finster , says: June 14, 2019 at 10:23 am
Sam wrote:

"Given Iran's history of endless deception in their nuclear weapons development program, might all these suggestions of these attacks being an American fabrication be a bit premature? How about even a tiny bit of objectivity? Or did Larsen write all these comments? (:"

What "history of endless deception"? Every third party has confirmed that Iran has complied strictly with the JCPOA.

The United States, on the other hand, has a long track record of blatant lies to get the wars it seeks ..

Sid Finster , says: June 14, 2019 at 10:24 am
@The Snark:

To quote myself, sorry "how utterly convenient!" Haven't we been reading a lot about deepfakes lately?

Mark B. , says: June 14, 2019 at 10:46 am
@ Kent

Exactly what I am hoping for IF the US attacks Iran. All depends on the Iranian capabilities to cripple the flow of oil from the ME. So I say: Go Iran, make us pay! And don't forget to throw some missiles on the royal Saudi palace and Riyad. Make that a few dozen. Or hundred.

Barry , says: June 14, 2019 at 11:00 am
Sam

"Given Iran's history of endless deception in their nuclear weapons development program, might all these suggestions of these attacks being an American fabrication be a bit premature? How about even a tiny bit of objectivity? Or did Larsen write all these comments? (:"

The only person whom I can recall endlessly deceiving on this is Benjamin Netanyahu, whom I recall making speech after speech claiming that Iran was just about to have nuclear weapons. He's been doing that for over a decade now.

As for incentives/disincentives, Mossad doesn't have much disincentive. If they are caught, they and their friends in the USA will scream 'Fake News!'.

Mr. Bone Saw has got to be extremely cocky now.

And both of them could reasonably expect that if they succeed in triggering a US-Iran war, that even later exposure wouldn't matter.

Kurt Gayle , says: June 14, 2019 at 11:02 am
Yesterday (June 13th) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a Democratic candidate for President in 2020, was interviewed by the Washington Post's Robert Costa. Here (at 23:58-28:06) is a brief excerpt of Rep. Gabbard's excellent views on US Iran policy:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/W0KGWFA_idU

Zgler , says: June 14, 2019 at 11:41 am
Who wants war? Saudis to prop up oil prices and get Iran in trouble? Pompeo because he wants to bring on the Rapture and the return of JC? Donald Trump so he can be a "wartime president" stir up his base and please the military contractor donors? Netanyahu to distract from his corruption charges and weaken Iranian Islamists? Some really stupid underground hardliners in Iran?

There are some plausible choices but none of them is the Iranian government.

Zgler , says: June 14, 2019 at 11:43 am
I forgot one more who wants war: Bolton because he is an immoral idiot who wants to strut.
DennisW , says: June 14, 2019 at 11:52 am
I frankly just don't believe anything coming form the US government anymore, especially warmongering neo-cons in charge of foreign policy, the Pentagon, and Deep State actors.

What on earth would Iran have to gain from attacking a Japanese oil tanker while their leader is meeting with the Japanese PM? More likely a false-flag CIA operation.

JeffK , says: June 14, 2019 at 12:00 pm
@TheSnark
June 14, 2019 at 9:02 am

"I have a question about the video footage supposedly showing Iranians removing a mine from a tanker. The quality of the picture is no better than that we saw back in the 1965 Tonkin Gulf incident, when N Vietnamese boats allegedly attacked a US Navy ship. But that was 54 years ago. In video technology today 1080p is a standard resolution, 4k is pretty common. Why is the US Navy still showing something that looks like it came from my Dad's 8mm home movie set-up?"

100%. When I heard on the news this morning that there was video showing Iranians, I thought "They have them". Then I saw the video. Now I call BS.

The Dean , says: June 14, 2019 at 12:22 pm
Are these the same guys that provided the irrefutable "evidence" of weapons of mass destruction in Iran?
I am sure that since the Mossad provides us with intelligence in that area of the world, they are completely objective, and have the best interest of the American military at heart.
Taras 77 , says: June 14, 2019 at 12:26 pm
@Snark: I tend to agree that the video raises more questions: -what would be the purpose of a mine above the water line?
-why does it take a group of 10-20 people milling about on the bow to remove a mine?
-does 10-20 people really indicate a clandestine effort to remove a mine, more like a clusterf____?

As OffGuardian remarked, does the deep state (cia,mi6,mossad) really think we are that stupid?

Sydney , says: June 14, 2019 at 1:06 pm
Why would Iranians attack their own interests? Because they are "evil". Let's see: Front Altair is owned by John Frederiksen, the owner of the Frontline Tanker company, who moved Iranian oil for nearly 40 years including during the "tanker war" with Iraq siding with Iran. Mr Federiksen was called Khomeini's blood life.
What about the Japanese tanker? While the Supreme Leader of Iran was working on Abe to help Iran?
Who's evil, who's stupid?
balconesfault , says: June 14, 2019 at 1:21 pm
James Fallows
@JamesFallows
Here is the problem with running the kind of govt the US has recently:

When you ask people to *believe* you, or give your "assessments" the benefit of the doubt, there is no reason that they should.

Kurt Gayle , says: June 14, 2019 at 2:06 pm
"Outrage on Capitol Hill over 'completely unacceptable' US-funded scheme to shape Iran debate," The Independent, Wednesday, June 12, 2019:

"United States officials say they are outraged by a government-funded troll campaign that has targeted American citizens critical of the administration's hardline Iran policy and accused critics of being loyal to the Tehran regime. State Department officials admitted to Congressional staff in a closed-door meeting on Monday that a project they had funded to counter Iranian propaganda had gone off the rails. Critics in Washington have gone further, saying that the programme resembled the type of troll farms used by autocratic regimes abroad. 'It's completely unacceptable that American taxpayer dollars supported a project that attacked Americans and others who are critical of the Trump administration's policy of escalation and conflict with Iran,' a senior Congressional aide told The Independent, on condition of anonymity. 'This is something that happens in authoritarian regimes, not democracies'."

The Independent article by Negar Mortazavi and Borzou Baragahi continues: "One woman behind the harassment campaign, a longtime Iranian-American activist, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State Department over the years to promote 'freedom of expression and free access to information.' The campaign relentlessly attacked critics of the Iran policy on social media, including Twitter and Telegram messaging app, accusing them without evidence of being paid operatives of the regime in Tehran. A spokeswoman for the State Department told reporters on Monday that funding for the 'Iran Disinformation Project' had been suspended and is under review after it was reported that it went beyond the scope of its mandate by veering from countering propaganda from Iran to smearing domestic critics of White House policy. State Department officials disclosed to lawmakers they had granted $1.5 million for Iran Disinfo, which repeatedly targeted, harassed and smeared critics of Trump's tough stance against Iran on social media.

The Independent article noted: "Among those targeted were American activists, scholars, and journalists who challenged the Trump administration's 'maximum pressure campaign' against Iran. The revelation that US taxpayer money was being used to attack administration critics has now sparked a flurry of queries. 'There are still so many unanswered questions here,' Congresswoman Ilhan Omar wrote on Twitter. 'What rules are in place to prevent state-funded organisation from smearing American citizens? If there wasn't public outcry, would the Administration have suspended funding for Iran Disinfo?' Cold War-era US rules barring the use of government-funded propaganda against American citizens have been flouted for decades State Department officials speaking at the closed-door meeting admitted the project was out of bounds, according to Congressional staffers speaking to The Independent on condition of anonymity. Both Democratic and Republican Congressional staffers were highly critical of the project and questioned whether US officials should continue to work with the contractor, E-Collaborative for Civic Education. The State Department spokeswoman declined to outline steps to prevent such an operation in the future E-Collaborative for Civic Education, co-founded by Iranian American activist Mariam Memarsadeghi, is a long-time State Department contractor "

Foundation for Defence of Democracies and MEK involved in creating fake articles. The Independent continues:

"Congressional officials also confirmed to The Independent that one individual working for the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, an influential Washington organisation with hawkish views on Iran, is part of the E-Collaborative for Civic Education's Iran Disinformation Project Over the weekend, The Intercept revealed that a purported Iranian activist, who had published dozens of articles on Iran in prominent outlets such as Forbes and The Hill, does not exist and is a fake persona run by a team of operatives connected to a bizarre Iranian political cult. The "Heshmat Alavi" persona had a strong presence on Twitter and harassed Iranian journalists, academics, and activists who are critical of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organisation, a one-time armed guerilla group now holed up in Albania. There is no known link between the Iran Disinfo programme and the fake persona. At least one was cited by the Trump administration as proof against the effectiveness of the Obama-era nuclear deal. Some of the MEK articles were also picked up by US government funded Voice of America's Persian-language service "

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/us-iran-congress-meeting-money-trump-conflict-a8954191.html

Kolya Krassotkin , says: June 14, 2019 at 2:06 pm
Let's not forget the lies our great-grandparents were told to inveigle us into WWI: "German troops are raping Belgian nuns" and "German troops are using Belgian babies for bayonet practice."

100 years from now a future historian, (probably Russian or Chinese), writing about the collapse of the US, will chronicle how the Americans gullibly believed the war propagandists asserting that Iran fired on oil tankers, which belonged to it trading partner, with the same sense of disbelief we now feel upon reading of the crazy assertions made about German troops.

Un Citoyen , says: June 14, 2019 at 3:10 pm
The Japanese ship's captain came out today and said that there was no way the ship was hit by a mine as US claimed, it was hit above sea level and sailors saw something hitting the vessel, like a torpedo.

Why on earth would Iran want to bomb a Japanese ship in the middle of a visit by the Japanese PM?

This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

The US under the rule of the neocons in the Trump admin, the Pence-Pompeo-Bolton trifecta, is a menace and a danger to the whole world. From Iran to Venezuela, Ukraine to North Korea, China to Russia, there isn't a country these neocon stooges don't want to pick a quarrel with. America has become the greatest threat to world peace.

pax , says: June 14, 2019 at 3:13 pm
Sam – When was the last time Iran invaded another country? Why is Israel pushing so hard for us to fight yet another war on their behalf. As Ron Paul said – if they want to fight Iran – let them, but we must stand aside as they duke it out. Israel has created enough Gold Star mothers in the US. Time to do their own fighting. Larsen and Giraldi make a lot of sense.

[Jun 15, 2019] The queen of RussiaGate is going to be asking questions at the debates

MadCow disease of neoliberal MSM is spreading...
Jun 15, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

snoopydawg on Tue, 06/11/2019 - 5:01pm

@skod

So a flaming Russia conspiracist is going to moderate the first Democratic presidential debates. What a joke https://t.co/6QWPrS2cZk

-- Michael Tracey (@mtracey) June 11, 2019

Pluto's Republic on Tue, 06/11/2019 - 5:25pm
Scenes we'd like to see:

@snoopydawg

Anyone want to bet that she will ask someone a question about what they will do to keep Russia from interfering with the election again?

I would love to see that. All answers will be the wrong answer.

[Jun 13, 2019] A loyal servant of empire -- Crowdstrike CEO -- is well-rewarded for his role in creating Russiagate hysteria by Caitlin Johnstone

Notable quotes:
"... Never mind that to this day the DNC servers have not been examined by the FBI, nor indeed were they examined by the Special Counsel of Robert " Iraq has WMD " Mueller, preferring instead to go with the analyses of this extremely shady outfit with extensive and well-documented ties with the oligarchic leaders of the US-centralized empire. ..."
"... When the Romanian REAL Guccifer got Podesta password (password) by phishing, exposing his pizza and walnut sauce perversions, the US had him jailed. When WikiLeaks made a DNC dump, CrowdStrike concocted Guccifer 2.0, then more leaks Fancy Bear, and more leaks Cozy Bear. All these CrowdStrike fabrications used CIA Vault 7 fingerprints to frame Russia. It is time to execute our ruling demonic warlords. ..."
Jun 13, 2019 | caitlinjohnstone.com

A new article by Forbes reports that the CEO of Crowdstrike, the extremely shady cybersecurity corporation which was foundational in the construction of the official CIA/CNN Russian hacking narrative, is now a billionaire. George Kurtz ascended to the billionaire rankings on the back of soaring stocks immediately after the company went public, carried no doubt on the winds of the international fame it gained from its central protagonistic role in the most well-known hacking news story of all time.

A loyal servant of empire well-rewarded. Never mind that US government insiders like Hillary Clinton had been prepping for escalations against Russia well in advance of the 2016 elections, and that their preexisting agendas to shove a geostrategic obstacle off the world stage benefitted from the hacking narrative as much as George Kurtz did.

Never mind that Crowdstrike is tied to the NATO narrative management firm known as the Atlantic Council, which receives funding from the US government, the EU, NATO, Gulf states and powerful international oligarchs. Never mind either that Crowdstrike was financed with a whopping $100 million from Google , which has had a cozy relationship with US intelligence agencies since its very inception .

Never mind that to this day the DNC servers have not been examined by the FBI, nor indeed were they examined by the Special Counsel of Robert " Iraq has WMD " Mueller, preferring instead to go with the analyses of this extremely shady outfit with extensive and well-documented ties with the oligarchic leaders of the US-centralized empire.

Also never mind that the Crowdstrike analyst who led forensics on those DNC servers had in fact worked for and was promoted by Robert Mueller while the two were in the FBI.

The CEO of the Atlantic Council-tied Crowdstrike, which formed the foundation of the official CIA/CNN Russian hacking narrative, is now a billionaire. I'm telling you, the real underlying currency of this world is narrative and the ability to control it. https://t.co/XsBCvkIDzJ -- Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) June 12, 2019
As I never tire of saying, the real underlying currency in our world is not gold, nor bureaucratic fiat, nor even raw military might.

The real underlying currency of our world is narrative, and the ability to control it.

As soon as you really grok this dynamic, you start noticing it everywhere.

George Kurtz is one clear example today of narrative control's central role in the maintenance and expansion of existing power structures, as well as an illustration of how the empire is wired to reward those who advance pro-empire narratives and punish those who damage them...

... ... ...

Joseph Olson / June 13, 2019
When the Romanian REAL Guccifer got Podesta password (password) by phishing, exposing his pizza and walnut sauce perversions, the US had him jailed. When WikiLeaks made a DNC dump, CrowdStrike concocted Guccifer 2.0, then more leaks Fancy Bear, and more leaks Cozy Bear. All these CrowdStrike fabrications used CIA Vault 7 fingerprints to frame Russia. It is time to execute our ruling demonic warlords.

[Jun 13, 2019] DOJ Investigating CIA Role In Russiagate

Notable quotes:
"... All of these interactions reek of entrapment . Mr. Papadopoulos now says, "I believe Australian and UK intelligence were involved in an active operation to target Trump and his associates." Like Mr. Halper and Mr. Mifsud, Mr. Downer had ties to the CIA , MI6 and (surprise!) the Clintons . ..."
"... Given the deep intelligence backgrounds of these folks, it's difficult to believe that former DOJ/ FBI officials such as Peter Strzok or even James Comey and Andrew McCabe on their own devised the plan to deploy them . ..."
"... Interestingly, Haspel was the CIA's station chief in London during the Russiagate investigation - where the majority of the espionage against the Trump campaign aides took place ..."
"... One of the CIA officers Durham wants to question works at the agency's counterintelligence mission center - one potential conduit between the CIA and the FBI through which the agencies might have passed information during the Trump-Russia investigation. Another senior analyst Durham wants to talk to was involved in the CIA's assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election. ..."
Jun 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The Department of Justice will interview senior CIA personnel as part of a sweeping investigation into the origins of 'Russiagate,' according to the New York Times , citing anonymous sources briefed on the matter.

The interview plans are the latest sign the Justice Department will take a critical look at the C.I.A.'s work on Russia's election interference . Investigators want to talk with at least one senior counterintelligence official and a senior C.I.A. analyst , the people said. Both officials were involved in the agency's work on understanding the Russian campaign to sabotage the election in 2016. - New York Times

The Times notes that while the DOJ probe is not a criminal inquiry, CIA employees are nervous, according to former officials, while senior agency officials have questioned why the CIA's analytical work should be within the purview of John H. Durham - the US Attorney for Connecticut appointed by Attorney General William Barr to oversee the review.

John H. Durham

Justice Department officials have given only broad clues about the review but did note that it is focused on the period leading up to the 2016 vote . Mr. Barr has been interested in how the C.I.A. drew its conclusions about Russia's election sabotage , particularly the judgment that Mr. Putin ordered that operatives help Mr. Trump by discrediting his opponent, Hillary Clinton, according to current and former American officials.

Mr. Barr wants to know more about the C.I.A. sources who helped inform its understanding of the details of the Russian interference campaign , an official has said. He also wants to better understand the intelligence that flowed from the C.I.A. to the F.B.I. in the summer of 2016 . - New York Times

And why should the CIA be nervous? Fox News commentator Monica Crowley laid it out in an April Op-Ed in the Washington Times :

The Obama Department of Justice and FBI targeting of two low-level Trump aides, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, was carried out in the spring of 2016 because they wanted to spy on the Trump campaign but needed a way in. They enlisted an American academic and shadowy FBI informant named Stefan Halper to repeatedly sidle up to both Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Page. But complementing his work for the FBI , Mr. Halper had a side gig as an intelligence operative with longstanding ties to the CIA and British intelligence MI6 .

Another foreign professor, Joseph Mifsud , who played an important early part in targeting Papadopoulos, also had abiding ties to the CIA , MI6 and the British foreign secretary.

A third operative, Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, targeted Mr. Papadopoulos in a London bar. It was Mr. Downer's "tip" to the FBI that provided the justification for the start of Russia counterintelligence investigation, complete with fraudulently-obtained FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.

All of these interactions reek of entrapment . Mr. Papadopoulos now says, "I believe Australian and UK intelligence were involved in an active operation to target Trump and his associates." Like Mr. Halper and Mr. Mifsud, Mr. Downer had ties to the CIA , MI6 and (surprise!) the Clintons .

Given the deep intelligence backgrounds of these folks, it's difficult to believe that former DOJ/ FBI officials such as Peter Strzok or even James Comey and Andrew McCabe on their own devised the plan to deploy them .

***

It should also be noted that Papadopoulos has suggested Stefan Halper's fake assistant 'Azra Turk' is CIA, not FBI as widely reported, and that what happened to him " was clearly a CIA operation. "

https://video.foxnews.com/v/video-embed.html?video_id=6036810752001

According to the Times , CIA director Gina Haspel has told senior officials that the agency will cooperate - up to a point, as "critical pieces of intelligence whose disclosure could jeopardize sources, reveal collection methods or disclose information provided by allies" will not be shared.

Interestingly, Haspel was the CIA's station chief in London during the Russiagate investigation - where the majority of the espionage against the Trump campaign aides took place .

The Justice Department has not submitted formal written requests to talk to the C.I.A. officers, but law enforcement officials have told intelligence officials that Mr. Durham will seek the interviews, two of the people said. Communications officers for both the C.I.A. and the Justice Department declined to comment.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has previously interviewed several of the C.I.A. officers the Justice Department is seeking to talk to, according to a person familiar with the matter. The committee found no problems with their work or the origins of the Russia inquiry. - New York Times

One of the CIA officers Durham wants to question works at the agency's counterintelligence mission center - one potential conduit between the CIA and the FBI through which the agencies might have passed information during the Trump-Russia investigation. Another senior analyst Durham wants to talk to was involved in the CIA's assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The ties between the efforts by the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. to examine Russia's election interference are broader. In the summer of 2016, the intelligence community formed a task force housed at the C.I.A. to investigate Russian interference. The group shared intelligence with F.B.I. investigators who opened the bureau's Russia inquiry in an effort to determine whether any Americans were working with the Russians on their interference during the election. - New York Times

Of note - the CIA focuses on foreign intelligence and is not supposed to investigate Americans . Instead, the agency is required to pass domestic issues which arise during investigations to the FBI.


glenlloyd , 2 hours ago link

Yes, we know the CIA is not supposed to investigate US citizens, but we also know that they do a lot of things they're not supposed to, and a lot of that stuff is never found out.

We also know that Obama did a lot of things he wasn't supposed to, but that never seems to alarm any of the Demonrats. Funny think how now that he's gone ACA is all of a sudden unconstitutional.

When I think of the whole Russia thing and where it started and who perpetrated it etc I just feel like how can things get so out of control?

One good thing is that we know no lie lives forever, so at some point in time it will all come out.

Surftown , 3 hours ago link

Haspel worked for the Dept of Fabrication in London, now in charge of Dept of Coverups- w Horowitz.

SmilinJackAbbott , 4 hours ago link

This insubordinate bitch is disobeying a direct order from The President to fully cooperate with AG Barr & Durham including handing over sources & methods. I don't think she gets who the boss is here. Her fingerprints are all over this **** as Brennan's dirty deeds doer in London. Fire her sorry azz yesterday then investigate her.

TheRapture , 3 hours ago link

It wasn't just the Democrats. The plot was undoubtedly created and run by the CIA (likely Brennan) and FBI, with some degree of involved by the NSA, who were communicating with the DNC and Hillary. Most senior leaders of the Democratic must have known at the outset that Russia Gate was a fraud, or more accurately, false flag. Yet almost all the Dem leadership supported Russia Gate at least by giving lip service to "Russian interference in our elections."

Why? Why would the Dems be so stupid? Because they thought the intel establishment was invincible. The CIA and FBI always get what they want, and if you cross them, to quote Chuck Schumer, "they can get you back a hundred ways from Tuesday". And because the DNC, Hillary and Democratic Party leadership stand not for reform but rather the status quo, the Democrats had nothing to officer except idiotic "identity politics", which is really the only thing Hillary ever stood for. The Dems just couldn't admit to themselves or their base that voters could possible prefer a crazy corrupt bullshitter over the politically correct Hillary. The Dems had to look for exculpation-- Russia Gate served that purpose.

chinooky47 , 5 hours ago link

I say if the Brits where involved in this illegal spying then maybe their methods and sources should be exposed...sounds like dirty laundry anyway. This whole mess is beyond belief and it sure looks like espionage against Trump from the highest parts of our government....Treason anybody!

GIG61 , 6 hours ago link

When the head of Veteran Intelligence Professionals For Sanity's Ray McGovern says this story has real teeth in it now I'm paying attention. https://consortiumnews.com/2019/06/13/ray-mcgovern-doj-bloodhounds-on-the-scent-of-john-brennan/

He is a Green and thinks Donald Trump is the worst President we've ever had due to his environmental polices. They said the whole Russia Gate narrative was ******** from the start. They urged Trump not