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American Exceptionalism as the USA version of nationalism

News Who Rules America Recommended books Recommended Links Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Economic costs of American Exceptionalism American imperialism: the attempt to secure global hegemony
Narcissism as Key American Value Neoliberalism as secular religion, "idolatry of money NeoMcCartyism Russiagate: Special Prosecutor Mueller and his fishing expedition Neoconservatism Antirussian hysteria as a method of suppressing of dissent against neoliberalism and militarism What's the Matter with Kansas
Cultural imperialism Technological imperialism Andrew Bacevich on the American militarism Anti-Americanism Industrial Espionage Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State Diplomacy by deception
National Security State Corporatism Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization Fighting Russophobia Fifth Column of Globalization Understanding Mayberry Machiavellians (Rovism) The History of Media-Military-Industrial Complex Concept
Big Uncle is Watching You Nation under attack meme Antirussian hysteria as a method of suppressing of dissent against neoliberalism and militarism National Socialism and Military Keysianism Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Authoritarian Corporatism Terrorism as a smokesreen for National Security State implementation
Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite William Browder, MI6, economic rape of Russia, and Magnitsky Act Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? American Exceptionalism as Civil Religion Fighting Neo-Theocracy Inside democratization hypocrisy fair The Unlikely History of American Exceptionalism Walter A. McDougall
Quotes Mark Twain Quotes Niccolo Machiavelli Reinhold Niebuhr Propaganda Quotes Politically Incorrect Humor Etc

Introduction


I call it a tribal phenomena. A tribe can be a religion, a nation, a gender, a race, or any group which is different from the group you identify with. It is not confined to religion.

And it seems to be an inherent trait in the human species that was one aspect of our evolution. Only when we learn that it is better to cooperate with each other rather than kill each other will we be free from this deadly disease which may, in the end, destroy us all.

sheridan44 comment in The Guardian

[American exceptionalism] is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.

Zbigniew Brzezinski

According to George Soros, the events of 9/11 renewed a "distorted view" of American supremacy that "postulates that because we are stronger than others, we must know better and we must have right on our side."  In other words 9/11 was important step to the transformation of the USA in the "National Security State" with the permanent regime of Total surveillance" over the population. The next step were events of 2008, which signified crisis of neoliberalism as an ideology. Neoliberalism now can mostly be propagated by brute force, via military intervention or some form of coup d'état (aka color revolutions) much like Trotskyites planned to propagate socialism to other countries via Permanent Revolution.  With  "Democracy promotion" instead of "liberation of proletariat".

Rise of American exeptionalism is also connected with the reaction to neoliberalism with its redistribution of wealth up by most of US population. Actually this is global phenomenon: neoliberalism gives strong impulse to the rise of neofascism in many countries, not only in the USA. As William I. Robinson noted in his article  Global Capitalism Crisis of Humanity and the Specter of 21st Century Fascism  

Yet another response [ to globalization] is that I term 21st century fascism.5   The ultra-right is an insurgent force in many countries. In broad strokes, this project seeks to fuse reactionary political power with transnational capital and to organise a mass base among historically privileged sectors of the global working class – such as white workers in the North and middle layers in the South – that are now experiencing heightened insecurity and the specter of downward mobility. It involves militarism, extreme masculinisation, homophobia, racism and racist mobilisations, including the search for scapegoats, such as immigrant workers and, in the West, Muslims.

Twenty-first century fascism evokes mystifying ideologies, often involving race/culture supremacy and xenophobia, embracing an idealised and mythical past. Neo-fascist culture normalises and glamorises warfare and social violence, indeed, generates a fascination with domination that is portrayed even as heroic.

American exceptionalism is unique in many ways as it does not include mass mobilization (see Inverted Totalitarism). "Go shopping" famously recommended George W Bush after 9/11. It should probably be more correctly called US-specific version of far right nationalism. The latter is  a milder variant of  one that existed in 30th of the last century in national-socialist countries of Europe, such as Italy and Spain, which does not necessarily employ physical violence against political opponents.  

The sad fact is that the America of today is even more arrogant than the America  in the days of Manifest Destiny and gunboat diplomacy. Indeed, the dissolution of the USSR cemented the national myth of superiority. The establishment of unparalleled industrial might, military victories in two world wars and on both sides of the globe, and the staggering economic defeat of Communism in the Cold War all have combined to cement America’s presumption of  chapters in a long history of escalating national illusions of pre-eminence and blind national egoism. The dominant view about the USA from most countries is that it has a split paranoid personality,  a “Jekyll and Hyde” America, “a democracy inside, an empire outside.” American policy makers, with their pretensions of global superiority after collapse of the USSR and with ever-increasing power of their military machine moved steadily toward making the whole globe a US preserve.  Despite its vulgarity and borderline obsession with pornography (or may be because of that) the US culture made inroad all over the globe, and even in Europe and Russia despite rich cultural traditions of both. While the blatant American imperialism of the turn of the last century is now only a memory, today the nations face policies evidence more insidious brands of imperialism: cultural imperialism, economic imperialism,  the imperialism of neoliberal ideology and forced globalization on the US terms.  All are spread by the same national arrogance, the same cock-sure certainly that we are right.  Many nations fear the United States practices a contemporary brand of “soft imperialism,” enslaving nations with IMF debt meachisms under  the auspice of economic globalization.  Converting  the Third World in debt slaves or simply exploit it. In spite of such fears, and despite the setbacks, Americans remain convinced that eventually all nations are destined to fall into step and adopt “the American way.” All the while, the US politicians decry the rigid fundamentalism of our enemies while we remain utterly blind to our own.

Americans have been, and are today, exposed almost from birth to a particularly virulent strain of nationalism unlike that found in other modern nations. The resulting affliction stems from an unswerving faith in national superiority and uniqueness that is deeply ingrained in the American mind. Historically, these notions of superiority sprang from myths of the visions of chosen-ness, and high destiny; from the myth of frontier self-sufficiency; and finally from the perceived universality of American ideology and dominance of US culture and English language over the globe. While in some of us, nationalist feelings are not that pronounced, few of us are immune, and that is especially visible in times of anger, or fear. In spite of, and perhaps because of, our many strengths, practically all of us as Americans share this particularly prideful, unlovely, and potentially fatal weakness. In one form or another and to some degree or another, we carry national pride across the invisible boundary that separates benign patriotism from malignant far right nationalism. Hillary candidacy demonstrates that this process went too far and became really  malignant:

Still, Americans are sure that they, like Woodrow Wilson, have seen “visions that other nations have not seen,” and that, accordingly, the United States’ mission has always been to become the “light of the world.”28 Indeed, from the very beginning, the American national identity was built on audacious visions of chosen-ness, destiny, and mission. Ronald Reagan was not the first nor the last in a long line of entrenched American visionaries to proclaim American exceptionalism, with its missionary implications of the Puritan “city on the hill,” no longer a stationary beacon, but an active force, the “leader of the free world” directing its forces against “empires of evil.”29

With such visions comes a warning: “the adoption of political and social values … as a framework for national identification is possible only if these values are based on some source of apparent ultimate truth which confers on them absolute validity — if they can claim universality.”30 If Americans unflinchingly believe that theirs is the single principle of Absolute Truth representing the universal interests of humankind, then any opposition will appear either criminal or inhuman.31 As Arthur Schlesinger Jr. puts it, “Those who are convinced that they have a monopoly on Truth always feel that they are saving the world when they slaughter heretics. Their object remains the making of the world over in the image of their dogmatic ideology — their goal is a monolithic world, organized on the principle of the infallibility of a single creed.”32 If Americans are so egotistical as to believe that their nation with its gleaming lamp of Ultimate Truth is the envy of the world, then they will perceive no wrong in trying to make the world over in America’s image, by whatever means. However, the world is a very complex and diverse place, and Ultimate Truth is a highly elusive and unstable substance. Thus, these are not only very arrogant ideas; they are also very dangerous ideas.

The way in which American elite as a whole relates with the rest of the world demonstrates a strong nationalistic (as in cultural nationalism) and chauvinistic point of view. That means that mass media presents events only from the particular  point of view, that militarism is always encouraged and defended. With the considerable part of brainwashed lemmings (aka American public) believing that their nation, or culture, is superior to all others.

This view involves a unique mixture of prejudice, xenophobia and inter-group and in-group violence, with the latter directed at suppression of dissent. Indeed, the United States’ inflated sense of eminence create additional, non-economic stimulus for the country elite to act in  fundamentally ethnocentric ways, and to to strive for unilateral rule of the world using military supremacy as door opener to resources of other nations.  And first of all oil.

The other key support of American exeptionalism are large financial institutions, which depend on the success of the US "financial imperialism". We can view imperialism as ethnocentrism in action. And "financial imperialism" is very similar to "old-style" European imperialism, where  European nations discovered new lands and imposed capitalism, their system of law and culture on the native peoples usually through violence. Like old colonies were forced to abandon their way of life and adopt a “superior” lifestyle and became resource base of metropolia, financial imperialism impose debt on other nations keeping them in a kind of debt slavery with the same result: they also became resource base for metropolia. 

American exceptionalism might also have religious overtones as "citi on the hill" metaphor implies.  It is not thus accidental that the first deep analyses of American exceptionalism was done by Niebuhr from the religious positions in his famous book The Irony of American History. Niebuhr as a theologian came to conclusion that it represents a sin that inevitably lead to the false allure of simple solutions and lack of appreciation of limits of power. In his opinion "Messianic consciousness" which constitute the core of American exceptionalism, was partially inherited form religious dogmas of early religious sects which came to colonize America.  Those views were later enhanced and developed further by Professor Bacevich. See more details exposition of his views on the subject in the page New American Militarism

Any unbiased analysis of the nationalist activities leads to a disappointing conclusion: nationalists can behave as compradors: as enthusiastic servants of a foreign occupier of their own territory. In this case international banking cartel. Ukraine is one example, Serbia and Georgia are other but very similar examples. In the same way the USA can be viewed as a country occupied by financial oligarchy with most of its citizents converted into "debt slaves".

The policy which oppose exceptionalism is often called Noninterventionism

Noninterventionism is a rather clunky and unappealing label for a set of very appealing ideas: that the U.S. should mind its own business, act with restraint, respect other nations, refrain from unnecessary violence, and pursue peace. If future administrations took just a few of these as guiding principles for the conduct of foreign policy, America and the world would both be better off.

There were several important thinkers who contributed to understand of this complex and multifaceted, like any type of nationalism,  phenomena. We will discuss (in breif) just four thinkers that made significant impact in understanding of this very complex concept. Among them: 

  1. Niebuhr
  2. Michael Ignatieff
  3. Anatol Lieven
  4. Andrew Basevich

American neo-conservatism  is a closely related phenomenon. In this case the key point is that the pre-eminence of the USA as the sole superpower needs to be maintained at all costs and with wide use of military force. Among prominent neocons we can name Hillary Clinton and most of republican candidates for the presidency in the 2016 presidential race. That means that American exeptionalism is an establishment view, the view of the US elite, not some anomaly.  

Niebuhr's contribution to understanding of American exeptionalism

In his brilliant foreword to Niebuhr's book The Irony of American History Bacevich noted:

In Niebuhr's view, America's rise to power derived less from divine favor than from good fortune combines with a fierce determination to convert that good fortune in wealth and power. The good fortune cane in the form of vast landscape, rich in resources, ripe for exploitation, and apparently insulated from the bloody cockpit of [European] power politics. The determination found expression in a strategy of commercial and territorial expansionism that proved staggeringly successful, evidence not of superior virtue but of shrewdness punctuated with a considerable capacity for ruthlessness.

In describing America's rise to power Niebuhr does not shrink from using words like "hegemony" and "imperialism". His point is not to tag the United States with responsibility for all the world's evils. Rather, it is to suggest that it does not differ from other great powers as much as Americans may imagine.

...Niebuhr has little patience for those who portray the United States as acting on God's behalf. "All men are naturally inclined to obscure the morally ambiguous element in this political cause by investing it with religious sanctity," he once observed. " This is why religion is more frequently a source of confusion then of light in the political realm.". In the United States, he continued "The tendency to equate our political [goals] with our Christian convictions cause politics to generate idolatry."

Michael Ignatieff contribution to understanding of American exeptionalism

In the introduction to American Exceptionalism and Human Rights Michael Ignatieff identifies three main types of exceptionalism:

I would add to it

The contributors to American Exceptionalism and Human Rights use Ignatieff's essay as a starting point to discuss specific types of exceptionalism -- America's approach to capital punishment and to free speech, for example -- or to explore the social, cultural, and institutional roots of exceptionalism.

Anatol Lieven contribution

The second important contribution to to the studies of American exceptionalism is Anatol Lieven.  He correctly linked American exceptionalism with far right nationalism which Wikipedia defined as

Far-right politics or extreme-right politics are right-wing politics to the right of the mainstream centre right on the traditional left-right spectrum. They often involve a focus on tradition as opposed to policies and customs that are regarded as reflective of modernism. They tend to include disregard or disdain for egalitarianism, if not overt support for social inequality and social hierarchy, elements of social conservatism and opposition to most forms of liberalism and socialism

 "America keeps a fine house," Anatol Lieven writes in his probably best book on the American Exceptionalism (America Right or Wrong An Anatomy of American Nationalism ) "but in its cellar there lives a demon, whose name is nationalism."  In a way US neocons, who commanded key position in Bush II and Barack Obama administrations  are not that different from Israeli Likud Party. 

While neocons definitely played an important role in shaping the US policy immediately after 9/11, the origins of aggressive U.S. foreign policy since 9/11 also reflect controversial character of the US national identity, which according to Anatol Lieven embraces two contradictory features.

Both of those tendencies are much older then 9/11. The first aggressive, expansionist war by the US was the war of 1812. See American Loyalists, The Most Important War You Probably Know Nothing About - By James Traub Foreign Policy

The War of 1812 matters because it was America’s first war of choice. The United States did not have to declare war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812, to survive as a nation and indeed President James Madison did not want to. The newly founded United States was growing westward but the “war hawks” in Congress pressed for a conflict with America’s former colonial masters in the hopes of gaining even more territory to the north. The term “hawk” was coined in the run-up to the War of 1812 and the hawks of U.S. foreign policy have been with us ever since.

The War of 1812 was America’s first neocon war. With an audacity that would become familiar, the war hawks appealed to a combination of personal pride — the British navy was forcibly conscripting Americans — and the prospect of material gain — the absorption of British Canada — wrapped up in love of country. No one said the conquest of Canada would be a “cakewalk,” but the hawks were confident the Americans would be greeted as liberators.

These two mutually-excusive impulses caused wild oscillations of the US foreign policy, especially in the Middle East and influenced the nature of U.S. support for Israel. Due to those oscillations those two contradictory impulses are undermining the U.S. foreign policy credibility in the eyes of the worlds and complicates reaching important national objectives.

Some attribute the term “American Exceptionalism” to Alexis de Tocqueville — though he never penned the phrase. In reality this term originated by German Marxists who were trying to explain weakness of worker movement in the USA. The idiom was popularized by neo-conservative pundits (aka former Trotskyites) soon after WWII.

In reality the term "American Exceptionalism is nothing but a disguised, more "politically correct" reference to America's Janus-faced nationalism. It has some mystical components like long vanished under the hill of financial oligarchy the "American dream" and its German-style refrain "God bless America". What is interesting about "God bless America" is that most founding fathers were Deists, profoundly critical of organized religions and they sought to separate personal -- what many of them described as mythologies -- from government. They were profoundly respectful of personal religious belief, but saw government as necessarily secular if freedom was to prevail. Not until the religious revivals of the 1820s through the 1860s can you find many identifying religion as a component of American exceptionalism.

As Martin Woollacott aptly noted in his review of Anatol Lieven book America, Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism ( Guardian):

He cuts through the conformist political rhetoric of America, the obfuscating special language of the "American dream", or the "American exception", which infects even foreign accounts. Even to use the word "nationalism" to describe an American phenomenon is, as he notes, not normal. Americans are not "nationalist", they are "patriotic". It is a patriotism which too often leaves no room for the patriotism of others, combining a theoretical care for all humanity with, in practice, an "indifference verging on contempt" for the interests and hopes of non-Americans. Nothing could be more distant from "the decent respect to the opinions of mankind" recommended to Americans in the early years of their independent existence

Lieven first paints a picture of an in some ways admirable American "civic nationalism", based on respect for the rule of law, constitutionality, democracy, and social (but not economic) equality, and a desire to spread these values in the world. But because this nationalism unrealistically holds that such "American" values can be exported at will, it blinds Americans to the different nature of other societies, sustaining the mistaken idea that if only particular rulers or classes can be displaced, "democracy" will prevail - a "decapitation" theory which contributed to the decision to attack Saddam. The American campaign to democratize other societies, Lieven says, harshly but fairly, "combines sloppiness of intellect and meanness of spirit". But, while in part mythic and not entirely rational, this side of American nationalism is of some value not only to the United States, but to the world as a whole.

...The result, Lieven argues, is that instead of the mature nationalism of a satisfied and dominant state, American nationalism is more akin to that of late developing and insecure states such as Wilhelmine Germany and Tsarist Russia.

"While America keeps a splendid and welcoming house," Lieven writes in his preface, "it also keeps a family of demons in its cellar.

His book supports Mark Twain quite to the effect that we are blessed with three things in this country, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and, thirdly, the common sense to practice neither one!

He also points at the very important side effect of Exceptionalism: "America's hypocrisy," (see for example Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair). An outstanding level of hypocrisy in the US foreign policy also is corroborated by other scholars, among them James Hillman in his recent book "A Terrible Love of War" in which he characterizes hypocrisy as quintessentially American (although British are strong competitors). Now after Snowden, Libya, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, etc we might be appear to be entering an new stage on which "The era of easy hypocrisy is over."

The regime of easy hypocrisy means that America position itself as a blessed nation created by God and (here’s the rub) therefore privileged in what actions it can take around the world and the nation that can safely ignore international norms, which are created only for suckers. It is above the international law.

We create our own reality

The source of the term, which implicitly stresses that the USA stands outside international norms and treaties and can act as it please, is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, The New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush (later attributed to Karl Rove[1]):

The aide 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."[2]

This is pretty precise definition of the idea of introduced by Nazi idea of “decisionism” in which action is seen as a value in itself. Decisionism is a defining feature of any totalitarian state. By extension if you find decisionism exists in particular state, it is rational to expect other F-features of such states. Umberto Eco has listed fourteen attributes along with two major features: irrationalism and decisionism. Eco has them listed as attributes 2 and 3.

The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.

3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action's sake.

Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering's fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play ("When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun") to the frequent use of such expressions as "degenerate intellectuals," "eggheads," "effete snobs," and "universities are nests of reds." The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.

Eternal Fascism:
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt

http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

Fascism has an irrational element that rejects modern thought because it conflicts with traditional beliefs of the Christian religion and because fascism views communist ideology as a child of the Age of Reason and Jewish intellectuals. The Nazis were well aware that Karl Marx was a German Jew. Evolution is seen as modernist and is rejected in favor of Christian creationism. This debate is repeating itself today in American society with Christian fundamentalism attempting to gain control of state education.

Very closely related to irrationalism is “decisionism” in which action is seen as a value in itself. This is an existential element in fascism that elevates action over thought. Action is a sign of unambiguous power, and thought is associated with weakness and indecision. Carl Schmitt, a Nazi Law constitutional jurist, wrote that a decision is “(an actual historical event) and not within that of a norm (an ahistoric and transcendent idea).” The a priori is overshadowed by the posteriori. Actions over abstract principles, Fact over Idea, Power over pure thought, Certainty over ambiguity are the values and ideological norms that are primary in a totalitarian state.

After fleeing Germany, Marcuse wrote in 1934 a critique of German fascist society and attempted to identify those beliefs and philosophical themes found within fascist ideology. Marcuse believed that the seeds of fascism could be found in the Capitalist Democratic Liberal State, which over time mutate as Monopoly Capitalism gain control of the State as in the case of Germany. The evolution of Capitalism is also the concealed dialectic of Fascism. Those mutated liberal democratic ideas and values are betrayed by a totalitarianism based on action and force.

Using Germany as his example of a fascist society Marcuse writes:

And within the political sphere all relationships are oriented in turn toward the most extreme “crisis,” toward the decision about the “state of emergency,” of war and peace. The true possessor of power is defined as beyond all legality and legitimacy: “Sovereign is he who decides on the state of emergency.” (Carl Schmitt, Politische Theologie,1922).

Sovereignty is founded on the factual power to make this decision (decisionism). The basic political relationship is the “friend-enemy relationship.” Its crisis is war, which proceeds until the enemy has been physically annihilated.

There is no social relationship that does not in a crisis turn into a political relationship. Behind all economic, social, religious, and cultural relations stands total politicization. There is no sphere of private or public life, no legal or rational court of appeal that could oppose it.
Negations, page 36.

From what social idea in Capitalistic Liberalism did this decisionism evolve? It is none other than the economic hero, the free independent entrepreneur of industrial capitalism.The idea of the charismatic, authoritarian leader is already preformed in the liberalist celebration of the gifted economic leader, the “born” executive. Negations, page 18.

The total-authoritarian state is born out of the Liberal state and the former concept of the economic leader is transformed into a Fuhrer. We can see this mutation of the concept of the “born” executive into the leader-state (Fuhrerstaat) in George Bush’s speech and actions.

An uneducated but privileged man, George Bush, has merged the idea of the CEO with that of the State Leader. But society has also made this same concatenation of ideas. He is a president of action and seen as a “strong” president. He is doer and not a thinker and his followers are proud of this persona. His opponents are “feminine” and members of the “reality based community.” Consequently, the Bush administration has attempted to engineer the executive branch to be the strongest in American history by claiming “inherent” presidential powers. It is precisely the concept of “state of emergency” that Bush has used to grab more and more state power in the name of security.

He has instituted the hyper-surveillance of Americas with the Patriot act, which is based on the same justification Nazi Law used to empower the Fuhrer. A Bush lawyer and advisor, John Yoo, wrote, Just two weeks after the September 11 attacks, a secret memo to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales’ office concluded that President Bush had the power to deploy military force “preemptively” against any terrorist groups or countries that supported them—regardless of whether they had any connection to the attacks on the World Trade Towers or the Pentagon. The memo, written by Justice Department lawyer John Yoo, argues that there are effectively “no limits” on the president’s authority to wage war—a sweeping assertion of executive power that some constitutional scholars say goes considerably beyond any that had previously been articulated by the department. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6732484/site/newsweek/

Carl Schmitt, a Nazi Law constitutional jurist in Hitler’s Third Reich, wrote a similar justification of power for the State Leader using the concept of the “exception” in his work “Political Theology,” Hence, the thundering opening of his treatise: 'The sovereign is he who decides on the exception.' It is a disturbingly 'realistic' view of politics, which, in the manner of Hobbes, subordinates de jure authority to de facto power: autoritas, non veritas facit legem. (The law is made by the one who has authority (i.e. power) and not the one who possesses the truth (the legitimate sovereign).)

The problem of the exception, for the constitutional jurist Schmitt, can only be resolved within the framework of a decision (an actual historical event) and not within that of a norm (an ahistoric and transcendent idea). Moreover, the legal act which decides what constitutes an exception is 'a decision in the true sense of the word', because a general norm, an ordinary legal prescription, 'can never encompass a total exception'. If so, then, 'the decision that a real exception exists cannot be derived entirely from this norm.' The problem of the exception, in other words, demarcates the limit of the rule of law and opens up that trans-legal space, that no-man's land of existential exigency, which is bereft of legal authority and where the decision of the sovereign abrogates the anomaly of the legal void. …against the legal positivism of his times, Schmitt seems to be arguing that not law but the sovereign, not the legal text but the political will, is the supreme authority in a state. States are not legal entities but historical polities; they are engaged in a constant battle for survival where any moment of their existence may constitute an exception, it may engender a political crisis that cannot be remedied by the application of the rule of law. From the existential priority of the sovereign over the legitimacy of the norm, it would also follow that according to Schmitt, law is subservient to politics and not autonomous of it. The Sovereignty of the Political Carl Schmitt and the Nemesis of Liberalism http://www.algonet.se/~pmanzoor/CarlSchmitt.htm

When the Bush administration argues that increased presidential power is needed to fight terrorism by suspending or overriding the constitutional protections against search and seizures, they are arguing the principles of Nazi constitutional law. Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday vigorously defended the Bush administration's use of secret domestic spying and efforts to expand presidential powers, saying "it's not an accident that we haven't been hit in four years." Talking to reporters aboard his government plane as he flew from Islamabad, Pakistan to Muscat, Oman on an overseas mission, Cheney said a contraction in the power of the presidency since the Vietnam and Watergate era must be reversed. "I believe in a strong, robust executive authority and I think that the world we live in demands it. And to some extent, that we have an obligation as the administration to pass on the offices we hold to our successors in as good of shape as we found them," he said.

http://www.breitbart.com/news/2005/12/20/D8EK28B82.htmlAgainst these ever expanding powers of the State stand the once traditional individual freedoms upheld by the Liberal Democratic State. The theologian and philosopher of the Age of Reason, Immanuel Kant wrote…Human right must be kept sacred, no matter how great the sacrifice it costs the ruling powers. One cannot go only halfway and contrive a pragmatically conditioned right….All politics, rather, must bend the knee before sacred human right…

"Faith-based community" vs. Reality-based community

The same idea from slightly different angle is reflected in term "Faith-based community" vs. Reality-based community ( Wikipedia )

Reality-based community is a popular term among liberal political commentators in the United States. In the fall of 2004, the phrase "proud member of the reality-based community" was first used to suggest the commentator's opinions are based more on observation than on faith, assumption, or ideology. The term has been defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from judicious study of discernible reality." Some commentators have gone as far as to suggest that there is an overarching conflict in society between the reality-based community and the "faith-based community" as a whole. It can be seen as an example of political framing.

The source of the term is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush:

The aide 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."[1]

Commentators who use this term generally oppose former President Bush's policies and by using this term imply that Bush's policies (and, by extension, those of the conservative movement generally) were (or are) out of touch with reality. Others use the term to draw a contrast with the perceived arrogance of the Bush Administration's unilateral policies, in accordance with the aide's quote. Its popularity has prompted some conservative commentators to use the term ironically, to accuse the left-leaning "reality-based community" of ignoring reality[2].

Imperial Outreach

The Republican Party — and more particularly the neo-con wing of the party — is particularly susceptible to imperial outreach. This imperial mentality is well exemplified by Fox News reporting.

For example, Matt Lewis, a conservative political Pundit on MSNBC attacked Barack Obama for saying “Any world order that elevates one nation above another will fall flat.” In response Lewis stated:

“I think that goes against the idea of American exceptionalism…most Americans believe that America was gifted by God and is a blessed nation and therefore we are better.”

For any conservative the concept of “American Exceptionalism” is rather bemusing. America is not more democratic, more free, more enterprising, more tolerant, or more anything else be it Canada, New Zealand or for that matter Australia. America is just a bigger country and due to its size, human resources and industrial potential it the leading Western country and the owner of world reserve currency, after Great Britain became financially exhausted after WWII. That means that American Exceptionalism is simply a politically correct work for a combustible mixture of nationalism (with Christian messianism component similar to Crusades with "democracy" instead Jesus) and Jingoism. In a very deep sense this is negation of the idea "all men are created equal" and as such is anti-American ;-).

America is a blessed nation as everybody in the country is an immigrant, the nation that at some point of time was freer and more prosperous than many others, but as a great Nazarene once said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”

Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS

sample:

BILL MOYERS:

Here is one of those neon sentences. Quote,

"The pursuit of freedom, as defined in an age of consumerism, has induced a condition of dependence on imported goods, on imported oil, and on credit. The chief desire of the American people," you write, "is that nothing should disrupt their access to these goods, that oil, and that credit. The chief aim of the U.S. government is to satisfy that desire, which it does in part of through the distribution of largesse here at home, and in part through the pursuit of imperial ambitions abroad."

In other words, you're saying that our foreign policy is the result of a dependence on consumer goods and credit.

ANDREW BACEVICH:

Our foreign policy is not something simply concocted by people in Washington D.C. and imposed on us. Our foreign policy is something that is concocted in Washington D.C., but it reflects the perceptions of our political elite about what we want, we the people want. And what we want, by and large - I mean, one could point to many individual exceptions - but, what we want, by and large is, we want this continuing flow of very cheap consumer goods.

We want to be able to pump gas into our cars regardless of how big they may happen to be, in order to be able to drive wherever we want to be able to drive. And we want to be able to do these things without having to think about whether or not the book's balanced at the end of the month, or the end of the fiscal year. And therefore, we want this unending line of credit.

Anti-Americanism as blowback of American exeptionalism

Quite logically the imperial actions is a source of widespread Anti-Americanism. As Ian Tyrrell noted in What is American exceptionalism

It is also important to realize that there is a “negative” version of exceptionalism, i.e. that the US has been exceptionally bad, racist, violent. While this is less a part of the common myths about American history, the attempt to compensate for American exceptionalism by emphasizing unique American evils is equally distorting. We need to think more about this matter, especially when we deal with racial divisions and gender prejudice. Is the US experience a variant on wider racial and gender patterns? While social history has provided new perspectives on the role of women, African Americans, and ethnics in the making of American history, has that new history discredited or qualified ideas of American exceptionalism?

The actual term “American exceptionalism” was originally coined by German Marxists who wished to explain why the US seemed to have by-passed the rise of socialism and Marxism. (Actually the US had much class conflict, some Marxist parties and theorists, and a lively socialist movement, though the latter was not on the scale of, say, France and Germany.) But exceptionalism is much more than about class conflict.

Some historians prefer the terms “differences” or “uniqueness?” Are these suitable substitutes? Whatever the terminology, the implications of American difference/uniqueness have long been debated. Some have said the difference was temporary, and eventually the US would be like other countries. Others have argued that American “specialness” stems from its political, intellectual, and even religious heritage, and is enduring.

Conclusions

Skeptic view on American Exceptionalism is valuable for different reasons some of which were listed by Stephen M. Walt in his The Myth of American Exceptionalism (Foreign Policy, November 2011)

The only thing wrong with this self-congratulatory portrait of America's global role is that it is mostly a myth. Although the United States possesses certain unique qualities -- from high levels of religiosity to a political culture that privileges individual freedom -- the conduct of U.S. foreign policy has been determined primarily by its relative power and by the inherently competitive nature of international politics. By focusing on their supposedly exceptional qualities, Americans blind themselves to the ways that they are a lot like everyone else.

This unchallenged faith in American exceptionalism makes it harder for Americans to understand why others are less enthusiastic about U.S. dominance, often alarmed by U.S. policies, and frequently irritated by what they see as U.S. hypocrisy, whether the subject is possession of nuclear weapons, conformity with international law, or America's tendency to condemn the conduct of others while ignoring its own failings. Ironically, U.S. foreign policy would probably be more effective if Americans were less convinced of their own unique virtues and less eager to proclaim them.

What we need, in short, is a more realistic and critical assessment of America's true character and contributions. In that spirit, I offer here the Top 5 Myths about American Exceptionalism.

Myth 1: There Is Something Exceptional About American Exceptionalism.

Whenever American leaders refer to the "unique" responsibilities of the United States, they are saying that it is different from other powers and that these differences require them to take on special burdens.

Yet there is nothing unusual about such lofty declarations; indeed, those who make them are treading a well-worn path. Most great powers have considered themselves superior to their rivals and have believed that they were advancing some greater good when they imposed their preferences on others. The British thought they were bearing the "white man's burden," while French colonialists invoked la mission civilisatrice to justify their empire. Portugal, whose imperial activities were hardly distinguished, believed it was promoting a certain missão civilizadora. Even many of the officials of the former Soviet Union genuinely believed they were leading the world toward a socialist utopia despite the many cruelties that communist rule inflicted. Of course, the United States has by far the better claim to virtue than Stalin or his successors, but Obama was right to remind us that all countries prize their own particular qualities.

So when Americans proclaim they are exceptional and indispensable, they are simply the latest nation to sing a familiar old song. Among great powers, thinking you're special is the norm, not the exception.

Myth 2: The United States Behaves Better Than Other Nations Do.

Declarations of American exceptionalism rest on the belief that the United States is a uniquely virtuous nation, one that loves peace, nurtures liberty, respects human rights, and embraces the rule of law. Americans like to think their country behaves much better than other states do, and certainly better than other great powers.

If only it were true. The United States may not have been as brutal as the worst states in world history, but a dispassionate look at the historical record belies most claims about America's moral superiority.

For starters, the United States has been one of the most expansionist powers in modern history. It began as 13 small colonies clinging to the Eastern Seaboard, but eventually expanded across North America, seizing Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California from Mexico in 1846. Along the way, it eliminated most of the native population and confined the survivors to impoverished reservations. By the mid-19th century, it had pushed Britain out of the Pacific Northwest and consolidated its hegemony over the Western Hemisphere.

The United States has fought numerous wars since then -- starting several of them -- and its wartime conduct has hardly been a model of restraint. The 1899-1902 conquest of the Philippines killed some 200,000 to 400,000 Filipinos, most of them civilians, and the United States and its allies did not hesitate to dispatch some 305,000 German and 330,000 Japanese civilians through aerial bombing during World War II, mostly through deliberate campaigns against enemy cities. No wonder Gen. Curtis LeMay, who directed the bombing campaign against Japan, told an aide, "If the U.S. lost the war, we would be prosecuted as war criminals." The United States dropped more than 6 million tons of bombs during the Indochina war, including tons of napalm and lethal defoliants like Agent Orange, and it is directly responsible for the deaths of many of the roughly 1 million civilians who died in that war.

More recently, the U.S.-backed Contra war in Nicaragua killed some 30,000 Nicaraguans, a percentage of their population equivalent to 2 million dead Americans. U.S. military action has led directly or indirectly to the deaths of 250,000 Muslims over the past three decades (and that's a low-end estimate, not counting the deaths resulting from the sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s), including the more than 100,000 people who died following the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. U.S. drones and Special Forces are going after suspected terrorists in at least five countries at present and have killed an unknown number of innocent civilians in the process. Some of these actions may have been necessary to make Americans more prosperous and secure. But while Americans would undoubtedly regard such acts as indefensible if some foreign country were doing them to us, hardly any U.S. politicians have questioned these policies. Instead, Americans still wonder, "Why do they hate us?"

The United States talks a good game on human rights and international law, but it has refused to sign most human rights treaties, is not a party to the International Criminal Court, and has been all too willing to cozy up to dictators -- remember our friend Hosni Mubarak? -- with abysmal human rights records. If that were not enough, the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the George W. Bush administration's reliance on waterboarding, extraordinary rendition, and preventive detention should shake America's belief that it consistently acts in a morally superior fashion. Obama's decision to retain many of these policies suggests they were not a temporary aberration.

The United States never conquered a vast overseas empire or caused millions to die through tyrannical blunders like China's Great Leap Forward or Stalin's forced collectivization. And given the vast power at its disposal for much of the past century, Washington could certainly have done much worse. But the record is clear: U.S. leaders have done what they thought they had to do when confronted by external dangers, and they paid scant attention to moral principles along the way. The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans; too bad it's not true.

Myth 3: America's Success Is Due to Its Special Genius.

The United States has enjoyed remarkable success, and Americans tend to portray their rise to world power as a direct result of the political foresight of the Founding Fathers, the virtues of the U.S. Constitution, the priority placed on individual liberty, and the creativity and hard work of the American people. In this narrative, the United States enjoys an exceptional global position today because it is, well, exceptional.

There is more than a grain of truth to this version of American history. It's not an accident that immigrants came to America in droves in search of economic opportunity, and the "melting pot" myth facilitated the assimilation of each wave of new Americans. America's scientific and technological achievements are fully deserving of praise and owe something to the openness and vitality of the American political order.

But America's past success is due as much to good luck as to any uniquely American virtues. The new nation was lucky that the continent was lavishly endowed with natural resources and traversed by navigable rivers. It was lucky to have been founded far from the other great powers and even luckier that the native population was less advanced and highly susceptible to European diseases. Americans were fortunate that the European great powers were at war for much of the republic's early history, which greatly facilitated its expansion across the continent, and its global primacy was ensured after the other great powers fought two devastating world wars. This account of America's rise does not deny that the United States did many things right, but it also acknowledges that America's present position owes as much to good fortune as to any special genius or "manifest destiny."

Myth 4: The United States Is Responsible for Most of the Good in the World.

Americans are fond of giving themselves credit for positive international developments. President Bill Clinton believed the United States was "indispensable to the forging of stable political relations," and the late Harvard University political scientist Samuel P. Huntington thought U.S. primacy was central "to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world." Journalist Michael Hirsh has gone even further, writing in his book At War With Ourselves that America's global role is "the greatest gift the world has received in many, many centuries, possibly all of recorded history." Scholarly works such as Tony Smith's America's Mission and G. John Ikenberry's Liberal Leviathan emphasize America's contribution to the spread of democracy and its promotion of a supposedly liberal world order. Given all the high-fives American leaders have given themselves, it is hardly surprising that most Americans see their country as an overwhelmingly positive force in world affairs.

Once again, there is something to this line of argument, just not enough to make it entirely accurate. The United States has made undeniable contributions to peace and stability in the world over the past century, including the Marshall Plan, the creation and management of the Bretton Woods system, its rhetorical support for the core principles of democracy and human rights, and its mostly stabilizing military presence in Europe and the Far East. But the belief that all good things flow from Washington's wisdom overstates the U.S. contribution by a wide margin.

For starters, though Americans watching Saving Private Ryan or Patton may conclude that the United States played the central role in vanquishing Nazi Germany, most of the fighting was in Eastern Europe and the main burden of defeating Hitler's war machine was borne by the Soviet Union. Similarly, though the Marshall Plan and NATO played important roles in Europe's post-World War II success, Europeans deserve at least as much credit for rebuilding their economies, constructing a novel economic and political union, and moving beyond four centuries of sometimes bitter rivalry. Americans also tend to think they won the Cold War all by themselves, a view that ignores the contributions of other anti-Soviet adversaries and the courageous dissidents whose resistance to communist rule produced the "velvet revolutions" of 1989.

Moreover, as Godfrey Hodgson recently noted in his sympathetic but clear-eyed book, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, the spread of liberal ideals is a global phenomenon with roots in the Enlightenment, and European philosophers and political leaders did much to advance the democratic ideal. Similarly, the abolition of slavery and the long effort to improve the status of women owe more to Britain and other democracies than to the United States, where progress in both areas trailed many other countries. Nor can the United States claim a global leadership role today on gay rights, criminal justice, or economic equality -- Europe's got those areas covered.

Finally, any honest accounting of the past half-century must acknowledge the downside of American primacy. The United States has been the major producer of greenhouse gases for most of the last hundred years and thus a principal cause of the adverse changes that are altering the global environment. The United States stood on the wrong side of the long struggle against apartheid in South Africa and backed plenty of unsavory dictatorships -- including Saddam Hussein's -- when short-term strategic interests dictated. Americans may be justly proud of their role in creating and defending Israel and in combating global anti-Semitism, but its one-sided policies have also prolonged Palestinian statelessness and sustained Israel's brutal occupation.

Bottom line: Americans take too much credit for global progress and accept too little blame for areas where U.S. policy has in fact been counterproductive. Americans are blind to their weak spots, and in ways that have real-world consequences. Remember when Pentagon planners thought U.S. troops would be greeted in Baghdad with flowers and parades? They mostly got RPGs and IEDs instead.

Myth 5: God Is on Our Side.

A crucial component of American exceptionalism is the belief that the United States has a divinely ordained mission to lead the rest of the world. Ronald Reagan told audiences that there was "some divine plan" that had placed America here, and once quoted Pope Pius XII saying, "Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind." Bush offered a similar view in 2004, saying, "We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom." The same idea was expressed, albeit less nobly, in Otto von Bismarck's alleged quip that "God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States."

Confidence is a valuable commodity for any country. But when a nation starts to think it enjoys the mandate of heaven and becomes convinced that it cannot fail or be led astray by scoundrels or incompetents, then reality is likely to deliver a swift rebuke. Ancient Athens, Napoleonic France, imperial Japan, and countless other countries have succumbed to this sort of hubris, and nearly always with catastrophic results.

Despite America's many successes, the country is hardly immune from setbacks, follies, and boneheaded blunders. If you have any doubts about that, just reflect on how a decade of ill-advised tax cuts, two costly and unsuccessful wars, and a financial meltdown driven mostly by greed and corruption have managed to squander the privileged position the United States enjoyed at the end of the 20th century. Instead of assuming that God is on their side, perhaps Americans should heed Abraham Lincoln's admonition that our greatest concern should be "whether we are on God's side."

Given the many challenges Americans now face, from persistent unemployment to the burden of winding down two deadly wars, it's unsurprising that they find the idea of their own exceptionalism comforting -- and that their aspiring political leaders have been proclaiming it with increasing fervor. Such patriotism has its benefits, but not when it leads to a basic misunderstanding of America's role in the world. This is exactly how bad decisions get made.

America has its own special qualities, as all countries do, but it is still a state embedded in a competitive global system. It is far stronger and richer than most, and its geopolitical position is remarkably favorable. These advantages give the United States a wider range of choice in its conduct of foreign affairs, but they don't ensure that its choices will be good ones. Far from being a unique state whose behavior is radically different from that of other great powers, the United States has behaved like all the rest, pursuing its own self-interest first and foremost, seeking to improve its relative position over time, and devoting relatively little blood or treasure to purely idealistic pursuits. Yet, just like past great powers, it has convinced itself that it is different, and better, than everyone else.

International politics is a contact sport, and even powerful states must compromise their political principles for the sake of security and prosperity. Nationalism is also a powerful force, and it inevitably highlights the country's virtues and sugarcoats its less savory aspects.

But if Americans want to be truly exceptional, they might start by viewing the whole idea of "American exceptionalism" with a much more skeptical eye.


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[Aug 22, 2019] Trump Doesn t Know How to Negotiate by Daniel Larison

Highly recommended!
The problem with Trump is that everything in him is second rate. Even bulling. and many americans were aware of that and voted for him just because that thought that Hillary was worse. Much worse.
Actually Madeleine (not so bright) Albright was of the same mold... Gangster style bulling and extortion as the only Modus operandi
And Daniel Larison is correct: when Trump faces strong backlash he just declare the partner in negotiation "terrible" and walks out and try to justify his defeat ex post facto.
Notable quotes:
"... As we have seen, Trump's bullying, maximalist approach does not work with other governments, and this approach cannot work because the president sees everything as a zero-sum game and winning requires the other side's capitulation. ..."
"... The result is that no government gives Trump anything and instead all of them retaliate in whatever way is available to them. He can't agree to a mutually beneficial compromise because he rejects the idea that the other side might come away with something. Because every existing agreement negotiated in the past has required some compromise on our government's part, he condemns all of them as "terrible" because they did not result in the other party's surrender. ..."
"... he is so clueless about international relations and diplomacy that he still thinks it can get him what he wants. The reality is that all of his foreign policy initiatives are failing or have already failed, and the costs for ordinary people in the targeted countries and here at home keep going up. ..."
"... "Temperamentally, the president is unprepared for diplomacy and negotiations with sovereign states," said D'Antonio. "He doesn't know how to practice the give-and-take that would produce bilateral or multilateral achievements and he takes things so personally that he considers those with a different point of view to be enemies. He is offended when others decline to be bullied and angered by those who counter his proposals with their own ideas." ..."
"... The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it. Now the U.S. and many other countries around the world are paying the price. ..."
"... "Trump has always been a lousy negotiator." ..."
"... But, but, but... he is very good in breaking up negotiated treaties, and breaking up negotiation itself. ..."
Aug 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Michael Hirsh reminds us that Trump has always been a lousy negotiator:

Michael D'Antonio, a Trump biographer who interviewed him many times, agrees with Lapidus that there is no discernible difference in the way Trump negotiates today, as president, compared to his career in business. "His style involves a hostile attitude and a bullying method designed to wring every possible concession out of the other side while maximizing his own gain," D'Antonio said. "As he explained to me, he's not interested in 'win-win' deals, only in 'I win' outcomes. When I asked if he ever left anything on the table as a sign of goodwill so that he might do business with the same party in the future he said no, and pointed out that there are many people in the world he can work with, one at a time."

As we have seen, Trump's bullying, maximalist approach does not work with other governments, and this approach cannot work because the president sees everything as a zero-sum game and winning requires the other side's capitulation.

The result is that no government gives Trump anything and instead all of them retaliate in whatever way is available to them. He can't agree to a mutually beneficial compromise because he rejects the idea that the other side might come away with something. Because every existing agreement negotiated in the past has required some compromise on our government's part, he condemns all of them as "terrible" because they did not result in the other party's surrender.

He seems particularly obsessed with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) because the trade-off inherent in any agreement made with Iran was that they would regain access to frozen assets, and he ignorantly equates this with "giving" them money. The fact that the JCPOA heavily favored the U.S. and the rest of the P5+1 doesn't interest Trump. Iran was allowed to come away with something at the end, and even the little bit they were able to get is far too much for him. This is one reason he has been so closely aligned with Iran hawks over the last four years, and it helps explain why he endorses absurd, unrealistic demands and "maximum pressure" of collective punishment. He is doing more or less the same thing he has always done, and he is so clueless about international relations and diplomacy that he still thinks it can get him what he wants. The reality is that all of his foreign policy initiatives are failing or have already failed, and the costs for ordinary people in the targeted countries and here at home keep going up.

Here is another relevant point from the article:

"Temperamentally, the president is unprepared for diplomacy and negotiations with sovereign states," said D'Antonio. "He doesn't know how to practice the give-and-take that would produce bilateral or multilateral achievements and he takes things so personally that he considers those with a different point of view to be enemies. He is offended when others decline to be bullied and angered by those who counter his proposals with their own ideas."

The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it. Now the U.S. and many other countries around the world are paying the price.


JSC2397 8 hours ago

Pulling off that "greatest trick" was amazing easy, actually: all Trump and his creatures had to do was go on the assumption that most Americans will readily believe what they see on television. Especially when it jibes with their prejudices.
david 8 hours ago
"Trump has always been a lousy negotiator."

But, but, but... he is very good in breaking up negotiated treaties, and breaking up negotiation itself.

Martin Ranger 6 hours ago
"The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it."

While I agree with pretty much all of the article, let us not forget that a majority of Americans was not, in fact, fooled.

Zsuzsi Kruska 6 hours ago
He can negotiate, but the thugs in Wash. don't want to. They are doing everything they can to start a war somewhere.
me 5 hours ago
Americans are certainly paying a price Benjamin Franklin warned about. But as for other countries, theirs is due strictly to their own doing, for relying excessively on the goodwill of America and turning a blind-eye to our imperialism. Quite frankly, up to now, US allies have been enablers.
Gary Rosenberg 5 hours ago
Add to that, " When someone hits me, I hit them back ten times harder."
This is not what we teach our children. It is a miserable way to live, or to run a country. No wonder the President is longer referred to as "the leader of the free world." He gave up that title. These are sad days.
d_hochberg 3 hours ago
Yes, he is utterly incompetent on his main selling point, his supposed skill at negotiating. It is very inconvenient having Trump as our standard-bearer.
Alan Vanneman 3 hours ago
"The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it."

Actually, the people who voted for Trump and who support him now love him for being a bully. That's what they want. They want a Tony Soprano as their president, a guy who will go out and beat up all the people they hate. They don't want "negotiation". They want a guy who has a baseball bat and knows how to use it. What's "interesting" is that despite all of Trump's appeals to violence, and his willingness to support violence (for example, Saudi Arabia), he largely shrinks from it himself. We've seen far fewer Tomahawks than one might have expected, particularly considering the great press he received the first time around. Will we continue to be lucky? I hope so, but it's hard to be optimistic.

[Aug 22, 2019] The US Can't 'Get' Iran to 'Shut Down' Its Nuclear Program

That's how polls distort public opinion and promote militarism...
Aug 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
survey shows that most Americans don't want war with Iran. Only 18% of all American adults favor military action against Iran, and even among Republicans that number is just 25%. 78% favor economic and diplomatic efforts. That's fine as far as it goes, and it shows that there is very little support for a new war at this time. The framing of the question is the bigger problem and makes the results from the poll much less useful.

The poll asks, "What do you think the United States should do to get Iran to shut down its nuclear program -- take military action against Iran, or rely mainly on economic and diplomatic efforts?" The question assumes that it is within our government's power to "get Iran to shut down its nuclear program," when the experience of the last twenty years tells us that it is not. The nuclear negotiations that produced the JCPOA show beyond any doubt that there are limits to what Iran is willing to concede on this point. It is good that most Americans prefer non-military options to pursue this fantastical goal, but the assumption that Iran will one day "shut down" its nuclear program is completely unrealistic. On the contrary, the more pressure that the U.S. puts on Iran in an attempt to force such a shutdown, the more inclined Iran's government is to build up its program.

If Iran's nuclear program remains peaceful, there is no need for them to shut it down. The long-term goal of the JCPOA has been to demonstrate to the satisfaction of all parties that Iran's nuclear program is and will remain peaceful, and then at that point Iran will be treated like any other member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The U.S. doesn't need to do anything to "get" Iran to do this because the goal of shutting down the program is a foolish and impossible one. Perceiving Iran's possession of a peaceful nuclear program as a problem to be solved is one of the reasons why our debate over Iran policy is so warped and biased in favor of coercive measures. The idea that Iran has to "shut down" a program that it is legally entitled to have under the NPT is bizarre, but it is obviously a common view here in the U.S.

The question is misleading in another way, since it suggests that military action could be effective in forcing Iran to "shut down" the program. In reality, attacking Iran's nuclear facilities would at most set back the program, but it would give the Iranian government a strong incentive to develop and build a deterrent that would discourage the U.S. from launching more attacks in the future. Attacking a country when it doesn't have nuclear weapons is a good way to encourage them to acquire those weapons as quickly as possible.

That makes the results to the follow-up question all the more dispiriting. The poll also asks, "Suppose U.S. economic and diplomatic efforts do not work. If that happens, do you think the United States should -- or should not -- take military action against Iran?" Once again, the question assumes that getting Iran to "shut down" its nuclear program is both a legitimate and realistic goal. If non-military measures "do not work," there is additional support for military action from a depressing 42% of those who initially favored "economic and diplomatic efforts." Put them together with the initial supporters of military action, and you have a narrow majority of all American adults that thinks the U.S. should take military action:

The 42% of those who favor military action if nonmilitary efforts fail translates to 35% of all U.S. adults. Combining that group with the 18% who favor military action outright means a slim majority of Americans, 53%, would support military action against Iran if diplomatic and economic efforts are unsuccessful.

There is a disturbingly high level of support for launching an illegal attack on another country for something it is legally permitted to have. The assumption that "economic and diplomatic efforts" will be "unsuccessful" if they don't force Iran to abandon its nuclear program helps to push respondents to give that answer, but they wouldn't endorse a military option if they hadn't been led to think that Iran's nuclear program is an intolerable danger. That is partly because of the bad framing of the questions, but it is also a product of decades of relentless propagandizing about a supposed threat from Iran's nuclear program that is completely divorced from reality. We need better poll questions on this subject, but we also need better, more informed debate about Iran and we have to stamp out the threat inflation that poisons and distorts the public's perceptions of threats from other states.

[Aug 19, 2019] Rest assured "The Great War" did not mean "The Splendid war"

Aug 19, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

It was the World's largest war at that time and surpassed WW II in many statistics, although probably not "tonnage of bombs dropped". That latter was WW II, not surpassed until the Gulf War when USAF used up all it's old arsenal (the better to let more contracts, my dear).
To be fair, military aviation was in its infancy then. The slaughter on the Western front broke England's Social Structure and paved the way for the destruction of the British Empire. Four other empire's died as a consequence of WW I (German, Austrian, Russian, and Turkish)
Note: "Kaiser" derives from "Caesar" which was an Imperial title of the late Roman Empire besides being Gaius Julius Caesar's family name). Promises made to both Arabs and Jews by the two-faced British Foreign Office paved the way for today's Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
It was a shattering event which tend to occur at 100 year intervals. The one previous was the Napoleonic Wars. I forget the one before that. War of the Spanish succession? And coincidentally, we are now living a hundred years later in the Middle east Forever war, which I fully expect to have similar consequences. The rights and civil liberties of free Americans are already a casualty.

The Great War set the stage for the Great Depression. I think a similar depression occurred after the War of 1812 (Napoleonic War in Europe). I'd have to consult a history text to see about others, but our 1970's economic travails were mirrored after the Civil war and the dot com bust is eerily similar to the Depression of 1890.

There is a theory that wars and revolutions occur at two cycles of approximately 100 and 170 years based on temperature and rainfall cycles. Every 500 years they coincide in a 5-3 resonance and whole civilizations fall or are transformed. Toynbee's 1000 year cycles can be seen as two such resonances. Following his analysis, the first crisis turns the civilization inwards and autocratic. The second breaks it entirely. Religions change too. I forget how. My Toynbee is packed away. does anyone here know what were the religious changes? Interestingly, the next 500 year supercycle fell in 2000 AD, so we are now in the first major crisis of Western Technical Civilization? (my name for the Renaissance and beyond, usually prosaically called "Modern"). this should turn WTC inward and autocratic, eventually dying in the next event around 2500 AD which should entire the collapse of civilization and a great folk-wandering sparked by environmental collapse. (loss of Eurasian pasture in the case of 500AD, turning steppe peoples westward (China was having a civilization peak, no way were the Huns turning east. In fact, they were expelled from China.

Ain't history fun? unless you are living it.

[Aug 19, 2019] There Once Was a President Who Hated War. American elites used to see war as a tragic necessity. Now they're completely addicted to it by Stephen M. Walt

Notable quotes:
"... Stephen M. Walt ..."
"... Steven A. Cook ..."
"... Jeffrey Lewis ..."
Aug 18, 2019 | foreignpolicy.com
A statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his dog Fala are seen at the FDR Memorial September 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt is often hailed as one of the United States' greatest presidents. FDR gave Americans hope during the Great Depression, created key institutions like Social Security that remain broadly popular today, led the country to victory in World War II, and created a broad political coalition that endured for decades. He made mistakes -- as all presidents do -- but it's no wonder he's still regarded with reverence.

On Aug. 14, 1936 -- 83 years ago -- FDR gave a speech at Chautauqua in upstate New York, fulfilling a promise he had made at his inauguration in 1933. It is a remarkable speech, where FDR lays out his thoughts on the proper American approach to international affairs. He explains his "good neighbor" policy toward Latin America, along with his belief that although a more liberal international trade may not prevent war, "without a more liberal international trade, war is a natural sequence."

For me, the most remarkable feature of this speech is Roosevelt's blunt, vivid, and passionate denunciation of war, expressed with a candor that is almost entirely absent from political discourse today. After making it clear that "we are not isolationists, except insofar as we seek to isolate ourselves completely from war," he acknowledges that "so long as war exists on Earth, there will be some danger that even the nation which most ardently desires peace may be drawn into war."

But then he goes on:

"I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line -- the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war."

Roosevelt then reminds his listeners that war can result from many causes (including, in a passage that surely speaks to us today, "political fanaticisms in which are intertwined race hatreds"). He hopes to preserve U.S. neutrality should conflict erupt elsewhere and warns against the few selfish men who would seek to embroil the country in war solely to reap war profits. To make sure the country does not foolishly choose profits over peace, he calls for the "meditation, the prayer, and the positive support of the people of America who go along with us in seeking peace."

Yet, for all that, FDR leaves no doubt that the American people will defend themselves and their interests if war is forced on them. In his closing paragraph, he declares: "If there are remoter nations that wish us not good but ill, they know that we are strong; they know that we can and will defend ourselves and defend our neighborhood." And it is precisely what Roosevelt ultimately did.

Seriously, can you think of a recent U.S. president who spoke of war and peace in similar terms, with equal passion and frankness?

Bill Clinton was no militarist, but he was so worried about being labeled a dove that he kept boosting defense spending, firing off cruise missiles without thinking, and blindly assuming that exporting democracy, expanding trade, and issuing open-ended security guarantees would suffice to bring peace around the world. And when he had a golden opportunity to broker a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace, he whiffed.

By contrast, George W. Bush was a swaggering frat boy who brought wars to several places and peace nowhere. He liked to pose in a nifty flight suit and give high-minded, tough-talking speeches, but the unnecessary wars he launched killed hundreds of thousands of people and severely damaged America's global position.

Barack Obama may have agonized over every targeted killing and major military decision, but he also ramped up the drone war, sent additional troops to Afghanistan to no good purpose, helped turn Libya into a failed state, and tacitly backed the Saudi-led war in Yemen. And when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (!), his acceptance speech focused as much on defending America's role in the world -- including its widespread use of military force -- as it did on extolling the virtues of peace and the measures that must be taken to advance it.

Ironically, though Donald Trump loves military parades, flybys, and the other visible trappings of military power, he seems rather leery of war. Like former Vice President Dick Cheney, who sought and received five separate deferments from the draft during Vietnam, Trump (or his father) apparently saw military service as something that only less fortunate people ought to participate in. As president, he does seem to recognize that starting some new war could hurt him politically, even as his more hawkish advisors keep pushing him in that direction. And we've yet to hear him extolling the virtues of peace as candidly as Roosevelt did in 1936.

Look, you don't have to tell a realist like me that we live in an imperfect world and that perpetual peace is a pipe dream. But the difficulty of the task is precisely why it merits serious attention. Yet instead of embracing peace as a virtue, U.S. politicians go to great lengths to show how tough they are and how ready they are to send Americans into harm's way in order to take out some alleged enemy. But how often do they talk about trying to understand the complex origins of most contemporary conflicts? How often do they try to empathize with the United States' adversaries, not in order to agree with them but so as to understand their position and to figure out a way to change their behavior without resorting to threats, coercion, or violence? How often do prominent politicians say, as Roosevelt did, that they "hate war"?

As I've said before , the U.S. disinterest in peace isn't just morally dubious; it's strategically myopic.

The United States should not shrink from fighting if such fighting is forced on it, but it should be the country's last resort rather than its first impulse. The United States is remarkably secure from most external dangers, and apart from political malfeasance at home (see: the Trump administration), the only thing that could really screw things up in the short term is a big war. War is bad for business (unless you're Boeing or Lockheed Martin), and it tends to elevate people who are good at manipulating violence but not so good at building up institutions, communities, or companies. When you're already on top of the world, encouraging the use of force isn't prudent; it's dumb. Peace, in short, is almost always in America's strategic interest.

Which makes it even more surprising that the word has mostly vanished from Americans' strategic vocabulary, and here I think two big factors are responsible. First, fewer politicians (and especially presidents) have "seen war" in the way that Roosevelt had. Harry Truman did, and so did Dwight D. Eisenhower (obviously), John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush. Needless to say, none of the post-Cold War presidents ever saw war in the same way.

Equally important, both the political class and the public have been imbibing an intoxicating brew of militarist rhetoric, imagery, and argument for decades. Americans cheer the troops at baseball games, wave giddily at thunderous aerial flybys, and finance all of their military adventures by borrowing money so that no one has to make obvious sacrifices now.

In Roosevelt's era, Americans were still reluctant to "go abroad in search of monsters to destroy," but they fought with unexpected ferocity when attacked. They were slow to anger but united in response. The situation today is the exact opposite -- they are quick on the trigger provided that none of them have to do very much once the bullets are flying. Instead of seeing war as a tragic necessity that is to be avoided if at all possible, Americans regard it as a rather sanitary "policy option" that takes place in countries most of them cannot locate and is conducted primarily by drones, aircraft, and volunteers. Americans fight all the time but without clear purpose or firm resolve. As one would expect, they usually lose, although others often pay a much larger price than they do.

There are faint signs that this situation is changing, after nearly 25 years of mostly failed adventures abroad. The foreign-policy elite may have acquired a certain addiction to war , but longtime addicts sometimes decide to turn their lives around and kick the habit. As noted above, Trump hasn't started any new wars yet, and his various Democratic challengers aren't pushing for more war either. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Tulsi Gabbard have pretty fair ( but not perfect ) records on this broad issue, and each has been vocal in opposing U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Pete Buttigieg wants the United States to rely less on military force in some places (but not others), Kamala Harris has been mostly silent on the issue, and the other leading candidates have more mixed records. Don't forget that Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War, and both Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar lean in more hawkish directions.

I'm waiting for one of them to start talking openly and intelligently about peace. What is needed to promote it, and how can the United States use its still considerable power to keep itself out of war and to help others escape its destructive clutches? If any of the 2020 candidates decide to tackle this issue head-on, they might start by reading what a great president once said, 83 years ago.

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University. View
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Tags: Peace , U.S. Foreign Policy , United States , Voice , War

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[Aug 17, 2019] Debunking the Putin Panic by Stephen F. Cohen

Highly recommended!
Aug 17, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

STEPHEN COHEN: I'm not aware that Russia attacked Georgia. The European Commission, if you're talking about the 2008 war, the European Commission, investigating what happened, found that Georgia, which was backed by the United States, fighting with an American-built army under the control of the, shall we say, slightly unpredictable Georgian president then, Saakashvili, that he began the war by firing on Russian enclaves. And the Kremlin, which by the way was not occupied by Putin, but by Michael McFaul and Obama's best friend and reset partner then-president Dmitry Medvedev, did what any Kremlin leader, what any leader in any country would have had to do: it reacted. It sent troops across the border through the tunnel, and drove the Georgian forces out of what essentially were kind of Russian protectorate areas of Georgia.

So that- Russia didn't begin that war. And it didn't begin the one in Ukraine, either. We did that by [continents], the overthrow of the Ukrainian president in [20]14 after President Obama told Putin that he would not permit that to happen. And I think it happened within 36 hours. The Russians, like them or not, feel that they have been lied to and betrayed. They use this word, predatl'stvo, betrayal, about American policy toward Russia ever since 1991, when it wasn't just President George Bush, all the documents have been published by the National Security Archive in Washington, all the leaders of the main Western powers promised the Soviet Union that under Gorbachev, if Gorbachev would allow a reunited Germany to be NATO, NATO would not, in the famous expression, move two inches to the east.

Now NATO is sitting on Russia's borders from the Baltic to Ukraine. So Russians aren't fools, and they're good-hearted, but they become resentful. They're worried about being attacked by the United States. In fact, you read and hear in the Russian media daily, we are under attack by the United States. And this is a lot more real and meaningful than this crap that is being put out that Russia somehow attacked us in 2016. I must have been sleeping. I didn't see Pearl Harbor or 9/11 and 2016. This is reckless, dangerous, warmongering talk. It needs to stop. Russia has a better case for saying they've been attacked by us since 1991. We put our military alliance on the front door. Maybe it's not an attack, but it looks like one, feels like one. Could be one.


Disturbed Voter , July 30, 2018 at 6:32 am

Real politik. Don't bring a knife to a gun fight. Don't start fights in the first place. The idea that American leadership is any better than mid-Victorian imperialism, is laughable.

Jerri-Lynn Scofield , July 30, 2018 at 8:15 am

Here's the RNN link to part one: The Russia "National Security Crisis" is a U.S. Creation .

integer , July 30, 2018 at 7:12 am

AARON MATE: We hear, often, talk of Putin possibly being the richest person in the world as a result of his entanglement with the very corruption of Russia you're speaking about

Few appear to be aware that Bill Browder is single-handedly responsible for starting, and spreading, the rumor that Putin's net worth is $200 billion (for those who are unfamiliar with Browder, I highly recommend watching Andrei Nekrasov's documentary titled " The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes "). Browder appears to have first started this rumor early in 2015 , and has repeated it ad nauseam since then, including in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017 . While Browder has always framed the $200 billion figure as his own estimate, that subtle qualifier has had little effect on the media's willingness to accept it as fact.

Interestingly, during the press conference at the Helsinki Summit, Putin claimed Browder sent $400 million of ill-gotten gains to the Clinton campaign. Putin retracted the statement and claimed to have misspoke a week or so later, however by that time the $400 million figure had been cited by numerous media outlets around the world. I think it is at least possible that Putin purposely exaggerated the amount of money in question as a kind of tit-for-tat response to Browder having started the rumor about his net worth being $200 billion.

Blue Pilgrim , July 30, 2018 at 11:39 am

The stories I saw said there was a mistranslation -- but that the figure should have $400 thousand and not $400 million. Maybe Putin misspoke, but the $400,000 number is still significant, albeit far more reasonable.

Putin never was on the Forbes list of billionaires, btw, and his campaign finance statement comes to far less. It never seems to occur to rabid capitalists or crooks that not everyone is like them, placing such importance on vast fortunes, or want to be dishonest, greedy, or power hungry. Putin is only 'well off' and that seems to satisfy him just fine as he gets on with other interests, values, and goals.

integer , July 30, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Yes, $400,000 is the revised/correct figure. My having written that "Putin retracted the statement" was not the best choice of phrase. Also, the figure was corrected the day after it was made, not "a week or so later" as I wrote in my previous comment. From the Russia Insider link:

Browder's criminal group used many tax evasion methods, including offshore companies. They siphoned shares and funds from Russia worth over 1.5 billion dollars. By the way, $400,000 was transferred to the US Democratic Party's accounts from these funds. The Russian president asked us to correct his statement from yesterday. During the briefing, he said it was $400,000,000, not $400,000. Either way, it's still a significant amount of money.

JohnnyGL , July 30, 2018 at 2:54 pm

I hadn't heard about the revision/edit to the $400M, thanks!

Seems crazy to think how much Russo-phobia seems to have been ginned up by one tax-dodging hedgie with an axe to grind.

Procopius , July 31, 2018 at 1:11 am

There's something weird about the anti-Putin hysteria. Somehow, many, many people have come to believe they must demonstrate their membership in the tribe by accepting completely unsupported assertions that go against common sense.

Eureka Springs , July 30, 2018 at 7:58 am

In a sane world we the people would be furious with the Clinton campaign, especially the D party but the R's as well, our media (again), and our intel/police State (again). Holding them all accountable while making sure this tsunami of deception and lies never happens again.

It's amazing even in time of the internetz those of us who really dig can only come up with a few sane voices. It's much worse now in terms of the numbers of sane voices than it was in the run up to Iraq 2.

CenterOfGravity , July 30, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Regardless of broad access to far more information in the digital age, never under estimate the self-preservation instinct of American exceptionalist mythology. There is an inverse relationship between the decline of US global primacy and increasingly desperate quest for adventurism. Like any case of addiction, looking outward for blame/salvation is imperative in order to prevent the mirror of self-reflection/realization from turning back onto ourselves.

integer , July 30, 2018 at 9:28 am

we're not to believe we're not supposed to believe we're supposed to believe

Believe whatever you want, however your comment gives the impression that you came to this article because you felt the need to push back against anything that does not conform to the liberal international order's narrative on Putin and Russia, rather than "with an eagerness to counterbalance the media's portrayal of Putin". WRT to whataboutism, I like Greenwald's definition of the term :

"Whataboutism": the term used to bar inquiry into whether someone adheres to the moral and behavioral standards they seek to impose on everyone else. That's its functional definition.

Rojo , July 30, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Invoking "whataboutism" is a liberal team-Dem tell.

Amfortas the Hippie , July 30, 2018 at 2:20 pm

aye. I've never seen it used by anyone aside from the worst Hill Trolls.
Indeed, when it was first thrown at me, I endeavored to look it up, and found that all references to it were from Hillaryites attempting to diss apostates and heretics.

Jonathan Holland Becnel , July 30, 2018 at 8:22 pm

Eh, probably

John Oliver, whos been completely sucking lately with TDS, did a semi decent segment on Whataboutism.

Eureka Springs , July 30, 2018 at 9:52 am

The degree of consistency and or lack of hypocrisy based on words and actions separates US from Russia to an astonishing level. That is Russia's largest threat to US, our deceivers. The propaganda tables have turned and we are deceiving ourselves to points of collective insanity and warmongering with a great nuclear power while we are at it. Warmongering is who we are and what we do.

Does Russia have a GITMO, torture Chelsea Manning, openly say they want to kill Snowden and Assange? Is Russia building up arsenals on our borders while maintaining hundreds of foreign bases and conducting several wars at any given moment while constantly threatening to foment more wars? Is Russia dropping another trillion on nuclear arsenals? Is Russia forcing us to maintain such an anti democratic system and an even worse, an entirely hackable electronic voting system?

You ready to destroy the world, including your own, rather than look in the mirror?

rkka , July 30, 2018 at 9:52 am

You're talking about extending Russian military power into Europe when the military spending of NATO Europe alone exceeds Russia's by almost 5-1 (more like 12-1 when one includes the US and Canada), have about triple the number of soldiers than Russia has, and when the Russian ground forces are numerically smaller than they have been in at least 200 years?

" to put their self-interests above those of their constituents and employees, why can't we apply this same lens to Putin and his oligarchs?"

The oligarchs got their start under Yeltsin and his FreeMarketDemocraticReformers, whose policies were so catastrophic that deaths were exceeding births by almost a million a year by the late '90s, with no end in sight. Central to Yeltsin's governance was the corrupt privatization, by which means the Seven Bankers came to control the Russian economy and Russian politics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semibankirschina

Central to Putin's popularity are the measures he took to curb oligarchic predation in 2003-2005. Because of this, Russia's debt:GDP ratio went from 1.0 to about 0.2, and Russia's demographic recovery began while Western analysis were still predicting the death of Russia.

So Putin is the anti-oligarch in Russian domestic politics.

Blue Pilgrim , July 30, 2018 at 12:17 pm

"While it's true that power corrupts"

I know of many people who sacrifice their own interests for those of their children (over whom they have virtually absolute power), family member and friends. I know of others who dedicate their lives to justice, peace, the well being of their nation, the world, and other people -- people who find far greater meaning and satisfaction in this than in accumulating power or money. Other people have their own goals, such as producing art, inventing interesting things, reading and learning, and don't care two hoots about power or money as long as their immediate needs are met.

I'm cynical enough about humans without thinking the worst of everyone and every group or culture. Not everyone thinks only of nails and wants to be hammers, or are sociopaths. There are times when people are more or less forced into taking power, or getting more money, even if they don't want it, because they want to change things for the better or need to defend themselves.
There are people who get guns and learn how to use them only because they feel a need for defending themselves and family but who don't like guns and don't want to shoot anyone or anything.

There are many people who do not want to be controlled and bossed around, but neither want to boss around anyone else. The world is full of such people. If they are threatened and attacked, however, expect defensive reactions. Same as for most animals which are not predators, and even predators will generally not attack other animals if they are not hungry or threatened -- but that does not mean they are not competent or can be dangerous.

Capitalism is not only inherently predatory, but is inherently expansive without limits, with unlimited ambition for profits and control. It's intrinsically very competitive and imperialist. Capitalism is also a thing which was exported to Russia, starting soon after the Russian Revolution, which was immediately attacked and invaded by the West, and especially after the fall of the Soviet Union. Soviet Russia had it's own problems, which it met with varying degrees of success, but were quite different from the aggressive capitalism and imperialism of the US and Europe.

Not every culture and person are the same.

BenX , July 30, 2018 at 3:28 pm

The pro-Putin propaganda is pretty interesting to witness, and of course not everything Cohen says is skewed pro-Putin – that's what provides credibility. But "Putin kills everybody" is something NOBODY says (except Cohen, twice in one interview) – Putin is actually pretty selective of those he decides to have killed. But of course, he doesn't kill anyone, personally – therefore he's an innocent lamb, accidentally running Russia as a dictator.

rkka , July 31, 2018 at 9:11 am

The most recent dictator in Russian history was Boris Yeltsin, who turned tanks on his legislature while it was in the legal and constitutional process of impeaching him, and whose policies were so catastrophic for Russians (who were dying off at the rate of 900k/yr) that he had to steal his re-election because he had a 5% approval rating.

But he did as the US gvt told him, so I guess that makes him a Democrat.

Under Putin Russia recovered from being helpless, bankrupt & dying, but Russia has an independent foreign policy, so that makes Putin a dictator.

Plenue , July 30, 2018 at 3:54 pm

"Does any sane person believe that there will ever be a Putin-signed contract provided as evidence? Does any sane person believe that Putin actually needs to "approve" a contract rather than signaling to his oligarch/mafia hierarchy that he's unhappy about a newspaper or journalist's reporting?"

Why do you think Putin even needs, or feels a need, to have journalists killed in the first place? I see no evidence to support this basic assumption.

The idea of Russia poised to attack Europe is interesting, in light of the fact that they've cut their military spending by 20%. And even before that the budgets of France, Germany, and the UK combined well exceeded that of Russia, to say nothing of the rest of NATO or the US.

Putin's record speaks for itself. This again points to the absurdity of claiming he's had reporters killed: he doesn't need to. He has a vast amount of genuine public support because he's salvaged the country and pieced it back together after the pillaging of the Yeltsin years. That he himself is a corrupt oligarch I have no particular doubt of. But if he just wanted to enrich himself, he's had a very funny way of going about it. Pray tell, what are these 'other interpretations'?

"The US foreign policy has been disastrous for millions of people since world war 2. But Cohen's arguments that Russia isn't as bad as the US is just a bunch of whattaboutism."

What countries has the Russian Federation destroyed?

witters , July 31, 2018 at 1:30 am

Here is a fascinating essay ["Are We Reading Russia Right?"] by Nicolai N. Petro who currently holds the Silvia-Chandley Professorship of Peace Studies and Nonviolence at the University of Rhode Island. His books include, Ukraine
in Crisis (Routledge, 2017), Crafting Democracy (Cornell, 2004), The Rebirth of Russian Democracy (Harvard, 1995), and Russian Foreign Policy, co-authored with Alvin Z. Rubinstein (Longman, 1997). A graduate of the University of Virginia, he is the recipient of Fulbright awards to Russia and to Ukraine, as well as fellowships from the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in Washington,
D.C., and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. As a Council on Foreign Relations Fellow, he served as special assistant for policy toward the Soviet Union in the U.S. Department of State from 1989 to 1990. In addition to scholarly publications
on Russia and Ukraine, he has written for Asia Times, American Interest, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian (UK), The Nation, New York Times, and Wilson Quarterly. His writings have appeared frequently on the web sites of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and The National Interest.

I warn you – it is terrifying!

http://npetro.net/resources/Petro-FF+Spring+2018.pdf

Carolinian , July 30, 2018 at 8:55 am

Thanks for so much for this. Great stuff. Cohen says the emperor has no clothes so naturally the empire doesn't want him on television. I believe he has been on CNN one or two times and I saw him once on the PBS Newshour where the interviewer asked skeptical questions with a pained and skeptical look. He seems to be the only prominent person willing to stand up and call bs on the Russia hate. There are plenty of pundits and commentators who do that but not many Princeton professors.

Thye Rev Kev , July 30, 2018 at 9:04 am

It has been said in recent years that the greatest failure of American foreign policy was the invasion of Iraq. I think that they are wrong. The greatest failure, in my opinion, is to push both China and Russia together into a semi-official pact against American ambitions. In the same way that the US was able to split China from the USSR back in the seventies, the best option was for America to split Russia from China and help incorporate them into the western system. The waters for that idea have been so fouled by the Russia hysteria, if not dementia, that that is no longer a possibility. I just wish that the US would stop sowing dragon's teeth – it never ends well.

NotTimothyGeithner , July 30, 2018 at 9:45 am

The best option, but the "American exceptionalists" went nuts. Also, the usual play book of stoking fears of the "yellow menace" would have been too on the nose. Americans might not buy it, and there was a whole cottage industry of "the rising China threat" except the potential consumer market place and slave labor factories stopped that from happening.

Bringing Russia into the West effectively means Europe, and I think that creates a similar dynamic to a Russian/Chinese pact. The basic problem with the EU is its led by a relatively weak but very German power which makes the EU relatively weak or controllable as long as the German electorate is relatively sedate. I think they still need the international structures run by the U.S. to maintain their dominance. What Russia and the pre-Erdogan Turkey (which was never going to be admitted to the EU) presented was significant upsets to the existing EU order with major balances to Germany which I always believed would make the EU potentially more dynamic. Every decision wouldn't require a pilgrimage to Berlin. The British were always disinterested. The French had made arrangements with Germany, and Italy is still Italy. Putting Russia or Turkey (pre-Erdogan) would have disrupted this arrangement.

John Wright , July 30, 2018 at 11:11 am

>which is oddly not easy to locate on its site

It appeared to me that Aaron Mate knew he was dealing with a weak hand by the end of the interview.

When Mate stated "it's widely held that Putin is responsible for the killing of journalists and opposition activists who oppose him."

There are many widely held beliefs in the world, and that does not make them true.

For example, It was widely held, and still may be believed by some, that Saddam Hussein was involved in the events of 9/11.

It is widely believed that humans are not responsible, in any part, for climate change.

Mate may have been embarrassed when he saw the final version and as a courtesy to him, the interview was made more difficult to find.

pretzelattack , July 30, 2018 at 11:35 am

iirc he didn't say it was true.

Elizabeth Burton , July 30, 2018 at 7:18 pm

The Crimea voted to be annexed by Russia by a clear majority. The US overran Hawaii with total disregard for the wishes of the native population. Your comparison is invalid.

vato , July 31, 2018 at 3:37 am

"Putin's finger prints are all over the Balkan fiasco".How is that with Putin only becoming president in 2000 and the Nato bombing started way beforehand. It's ridiculous to think that Putin had any major influence at that time as govenor or director of the domestic intelligence service on what was going during the bombing of NATO on Belgrad. Even Gerhard Schroeder, then chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, admitted in an interview in 2014 with a major German Newspaper (Die Zeit) that this invasion of Nato was a fault and against international law!

Can you concrete what you mean by "fingerprints" or is this just another platitudes?

ewmayer , July 31, 2018 at 6:05 pm

"Somebody called it Trump derangement syndrome."

I believe that the full and proper name of the psychiatric disorder in question is Putin-Trump Derangement Syndrome [PTDS].

Symptoms include:

o Eager and uncritical ingestion and social-media regurgitation of even the most patently absurd MSM propaganda. For example, the meme that releasing factual information about actual election-meddling (as Wikileaks did about the Dem-establishment's rigging of its own nomination process in 2016) is a grave threat to American Democracy™;

o Recent-onset veneration of the intelligence agencies, whose stock in trade is spying on and lying to the American people, spreading disinformation, election rigging, torture and assassination and its agents, such as liar and perjurer Clapper and torturer Brennan;

o Rehabilitation of horrid unindicted GOP war criminals like G.W. Bush as alleged examples of "norms-respecting Republican patriots";

o Smearing of anyone who dares question the MSM-stoked hysteria as an America-hating Russian stooge.

[Aug 17, 2019] Putin-Trump Derangement Syndrome (PTDS)

Highly recommended!
Aug 17, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

ewmayer , July 31, 2018 at 6:05 pm

"Somebody called it Trump derangement syndrome."

I believe that the full and proper name of the psychiatric disorder in question is Putin-Trump Derangement Syndrome [PTDS].

Symptoms include:

[Aug 16, 2019] Two key questions facing the nation is the unchecked power of MIC and financial oligarchy. Unless they are tamed the USA will follow the road of the USSR sooner or later

Notable quotes:
"... The election will be waged, like the primaries, around race-baiting. Biden will be the first victim. The other white candidates are running scared & becoming more shrill in their denunciations of whites in general by the hour. ..."
Aug 16, 2019 | www.unz.com

swamped , says: August 16, 2019 at 8:20 am GMT

"the Great Arsenal of Democracy was looted by" the military-industrial complex Arsenal & it's unending wars & nothing short of nuclear annihilation is going to change that. There is no Democrat who is willing to bet their chance at the presidency on pulling it down.

And the American public, by and large, is put to sleep by lengthy discussions of the intricacies of trade policy.

The election will be waged, like the primaries, around race-baiting. Biden will be the first victim. The other white candidates are running scared & becoming more shrill in their denunciations of whites in general by the hour.

There's no telling where it all may lead but it's becoming clearer day by day that the hostility will outlast the primaries & the general election will be a very ugly affair. There's no turning back to the soothing center now, it will be an us-vs.-them type election & hopefully, Pat Buchanan, still America's shrewdest pundit, will keep us fully apprised.

[Aug 06, 2019] The Military-Industrial Jobs Scam naked capitalism

Aug 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. This is a very important post, documenting how despite defense contractor claims to the contrary, increased military spending has been accompanied by job losses in the US. This should come as no surprise. Military contracting is an exercise in pork, and regularly flagrantly disregards national security. A classic example: US uniforms and boots are made in China.

Another example of the benefits of military pork going outside the US was the use of contractors during the war in Iraq. From a 2007 Vanity Fair story:

In one place the job of laundering soldiers' uniforms, for example, might be performed by a company working directly for KBR. But in another a subcontractor will have sub-subcontracted the work to someone else, and sometimes even sub-sub-sub-subcontracted it. "I've come across examples where you get down four or five levels," says a government auditor who spoke on condition of anonymity. "There's the U.S. prime, the subcontractor from the Middle East, then a sub-subcontractor from Pakistan, then a shell corporation with a box number in Michigan, and finally the Iraqis who're actually doing the work -- for next to nothing."

This system has created great difficulties for anyone attempting to oversee the process on behalf of American taxpayers. It has also substantially increased the overall costs of the war by creating the conditions for obscene markups between contract levels. "There is an enormous need to get a closer handle on the detail in the field," says the auditor. "If you go ask one of the inspectors general, 'Tell me about the subcontracts,' they can't tell you anything. It's a black hole. What this means for oversight, and basic issues of fairness, is that there is none."

On top of that, inflating the number of people tasked to an activity was routine, and the article has first hand accounts from individuals who tried opposing the practice.

In other words, the contracting fraud results in US taxpayers paying way more than it would have cost for US personnel to do the work with the added insult that the tasks were performed by locals for a pittance.

By Nia Harris, a Research Associate at the Center for International Policy, Cassandra Stimpson, a Research Associate at the Center for International Policy and Ben Freeman, Director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy and Co-Chair of its Sustainable Defense Task Force. Originally published at TomDispatch

A Marilyn has once again seduced a president. This time, though, it's not a movie star ; it's Marillyn Hewson, the head of Lockheed Martin, the nation's top defense contractor and the largest weapons producer in the world. In the last month, Donald Trump and Hewson have seemed inseparable. They " saved " jobs at a helicopter plant. They took the stage together at a Lockheed subsidiary in Milwaukee. The president vetoed three bills that would have blocked the arms sales of Lockheed (and other companies) to Saudi Arabia. Recently, the president's daughter Ivanka even toured a Lockheed space facility with Hewson.

On July 15th, the official White House Twitter account tweeted a video of the Lockheed CEO extolling the virtues of the company's THAAD missile defense system, claiming that it "supports 25,000 American workers." Not only was Hewson promoting her company's product, but she was making her pitch -- with the weapon in the background -- on the White House lawn. Twitter immediately burst with outrage over the White House posting an ad for a private company, with some calling it "unethical" and "likely unlawful."

None of this, however, was really out of the ordinary as the Trump administration has stopped at nothing to push the argument that job creation is justification enough for supporting weapons manufacturers to the hilt. Even before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, he was already insisting that military spending was a great jobs creator. He's only doubled down on this assertion during his presidency. Recently, overriding congressional objections, he even declared a national "emergency" to force through part of an arms sale to Saudi Arabia that he had once claimed would create more than a million jobs. While this claim has been thoroughly debunked , the most essential part of his argument -- that more money flowing to defense contractors will create significant numbers of new jobs -- is considered truth personified by many in the defense industry, especially Marillyn Hewson.

The facts tell a different story.

Lockheed Locks Down Taxpayer Dollars, While Cutting American Jobs

To test Trump's and Hewson's argument, we asked a simple question: When contractors receive more taxpayer money, do they generally create more jobs? To answer it, we analyzed the reports of major defense contractors filed annually with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC ). Among other things, these reveal the total number of people employed by a firm and the salary of its chief executive officer. We then compared those figures to the federal tax dollars each company received, according to the Federal Procurement Data System, which measures the "dollars obligated," or funds, the government awards company by company.

We focused on the top five Pentagon defense contractors, the very heartland of the military-industrial complex, for the years 2012 to 2018. As it happened, 2012 was a pivotal year because the Budget Control Act (BCA) first went into effect then, establishing caps on how much money could be spent by Congress and mandating cuts to defense spending through 2021. Those caps were never fully adhered to. Ultimately, in fact, the Pentagon will receive significantly more money in the BCA decade than in the prior one, a period when the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were at their heights.

In 2012, concerned that those caps on defense spending would cut into their bottom lines, the five top contractors went on the political offensive, making future jobs their weapon of choice. After the Budget Control Act passed, the Aerospace Industries Association -- the leading trade group of the weapons-makers -- warned that more than one million jobs would be at risk if Pentagon spending were cut significantly. To emphasize the point, Lockheed sent layoff notices to 123,000 employees just before the BCA was implemented and only days before the 2012 election. Those layoffs never actually happened, but the fear of lost jobs would prove real indeed and would last.

Consider it mission accomplished, since Pentagon spending was actually higher in 2018 than in 2012 and Lockheed received a sizeable chunk of that cash infusion. From 2012 to 2018, among government contractors, that company would, in fact, be the top recipient of taxpayer dollars every single year, those funds reaching their zenith in 2017, as it raked in more than $50.6 billion federal dollars. By contrast, in 2012, when Lockheed was threatening its employees with mass layoffs , the firm received nearly $37 billion .

So what did Lockheed do with those additional $13 billion taxpayer dollars? It would be reasonable to assume that it used some of that windfall (like those of previous years) to invest in growing its workforce. If you came to that conclusion, however, you would be sorely mistaken. From 2012 to 2018, overall employment at Lockheed actually fell from 120,000 to 105,000 , according to the firm's filings with the SEC and the company itself reported a slightly larger reduction of 16,350 jobs in the U.S. In other words, in the last six years Lockheed dramatically reduced its U.S. workforce, even as it hired more employees abroad and received more taxpayer dollars.

So where is all that additional taxpayer money actually going, if not job creation? At least part of the answer is contractor profits and soaring CEO salaries. In those six years, Lockheed's stock price rose from $82 at the beginning of 2012 to $305 at the end of 2018, a nearly four-fold increase. In 2018 , the company also reported a 9% ($590 million) rise in its profits, the best in the industry. And in those same years, the salary of its CEO increased by $1.4 million, again according to its SEC filings .

In short, since 2012 the number of taxpayer dollars going to Lockheed has expanded by billions, the value of its stock has nearly quadrupled, and its CEO's salary went up 32%, even as it cut 14% of its American work force. Yet Lockheed continues to use job creation, as well as its employees' present jobs, as political pawns to get yet more taxpayer money. The president himself has bought into the ruse in his race to funnel ever more money to the Pentagon and promote arms deals to countries like Saudi Arabia, even over the nearly unified objections of an otherwise incredibly divided Congress.

Lockheed Is the Norm, Not the Exception

Despite being this country's and the world's top weapons maker, Lockheed isn't the exception but the norm. From 2012 to 2018, the unemployment rate in the U.S. plummeted from roughly 8% to 4%, with more than 13 million new jobs added to the economy. Yet, in those same years, three of the five top defense contractors slashed jobs. In 2018, the Pentagon committed approximately $118 billion in federal money to those firms, including Lockheed -- nearly half of all the money it spent on contractors. This was almost $12 billion more than they had received in 2012 . Yet, cumulatively, those companies lost jobs and now employ a total of 6,900 fewer employees than they did in 2012, according to their SEC filings .

In addition to the reductions at Lockheed, Boeing slashed 21,400 jobs and Raytheon cut 800 employees from its payroll. Only General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman added jobs -- 13,400 and 16,900 employees, respectively -- making that total figure look modestly better. However, even those "gains" can't qualify as job creation in the normal sense, since they resulted almost entirely from the fact that each of those companies bought another Pentagon contractor and added its employees to its own payroll. CSRA, which General Dynamics acquired in 2018, had 18,500 employees before the merger, while Orbital ATK, which General Dynamics acquired last year, had 13,900 employees. Subtract these 32,400 jobs from the corporate totals and job losses at the firms become staggering.

In addition, those employment figures include all company employees, even those now working outside the U.S. Lockheed is the only top five Pentagon contractor that provides information on the percentage of its employees in the U.S., so if the other firms are shipping jobs overseas, as Lockheed has done and as Raytheon is planning to do, far more than 6,900 full-time jobs in the U.S. have been lost in the last six years.

Where, then, did all that job-creation money really go? Just as at Lockheed, at least part of the answer is that the money went to the bottom-line and to top executives. According to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, a consulting firm that provides annual analyses of the defense industry, "the aerospace and defense (A&D) sector scored record revenues and profits in 2018" with an "operating profit of $81 billion, surpassing the previous record set in 2017." According to the report, Pentagon contractors were at the forefront of these profit gains. For example, Lockheed's profit improvement was $590 million, followed closely by General Dynamics at $562 million. As employment shrank, CEO salaries at some of these firms only grew. In addition to compensation for Lockheed's CEO jumping from $4.2 million in 2012 to $5.6 million in 2018, compensation for the CEO of General Dynamics increased from $6.9 million in 2012 to a whopping $20.7 million in 2018.

Perpetuating the Same Old Story

This is hardly the first time that these companies have extolled their ability to create jobs while cutting them. As Ben Freeman previously documented for the Project On Government Oversight, these very same firms cut almost 10% of their workforce in the six years before the BCA came into effect, even as taxpayer dollars heading their way annually jumped by nearly 25% from $91 billion to $113 billion.

Just as then, the contractors and their advocates -- and there are many of them, given that the weapons-making outfits spend more than $100 million on lobbying yearly, donate tens of millions of dollars to the campaigns of members of Congress every election season, and give millions to think tanks annually -- will rush to defend such job losses. They will, for instance, note that defense spending leads to job growth among the subcontractors used by the major weapons firms. Yet research has repeatedly shown that, even with this supposed "multiplier effect," defense spending produces fewer jobs than just about anything else the government puts our money into. In fact, it's about 50% less effective at creating jobs than if taxpayers were simply allowed to keep their money and use it as they wished.

As Brown University's Costs of War project has reported , "$1 billion in military spending creates approximately 11,200 jobs, compared with 26,700 in education, 16,800 in clean energy, and 17,200 in health care." Military spending actually proved to be the worst job creator of any federal government spending option those researchers analyzed. Similarly, according to a report by Heidi Garrett-Peltier of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, for every $1 million of spending on defense, 6.9 jobs are created both directly in defense industries and in the supply chain. Spending the same amount in the fields of wind or solar energy, she notes, leads to 8.4 or 9.5 jobs, respectively. As for the education sector, the same amount of money produced 19.2 jobs in primary and secondary education and 11.2 jobs in higher education. In other words, not only are the green energy and education areas vital to the future of the country, they are also genuine job-creating machines. Yet, the government gives more taxpayer dollars to the defense industry than all these other government functions combined .

You don't, however, have to turn to critics of defense spending to make the case. Reports from the industry's own trade association show that it has been shedding jobs. According to an Aerospace Industries Association analysis , it supported approximately 300,000 fewer jobs in 2018 than it had reported supporting just three years earlier.

If the nation's top defense contractor and the industry as a whole have been shedding jobs, how have they been able to consistently and effectively perpetuate the myth that they are engines of job creation? To explain this, add to their army of lobbyists, their treasure trove of campaign contributions, and those think tanks on the take, the famed revolving door that sends retired government officials into the world of the weapons makers and those working for them to Washington.

While there has always been a cozy relationship between the Pentagon and the defense industry, the lines between contractors and the government have blurred far more radically in the Trump years. Mark Esper, the newly minted secretary of defense, for example, previously worked as Raytheon's top lobbyist in Washington. Spinning the other way, the present head of the Aerospace Industries Association, Eric Fanning , had been both secretary of the Army and acting secretary of the Air Force. In fact, since 2008, as the Project On Government Oversight's Mandy Smithberger found , "at least 380 high-ranking Department of Defense officials and military officers shifted into the private sector to become lobbyists, board members, executives, or consultants for defense contractors."

Whatever the spin, whether of that revolving door or of the defense industry's publicists, the bottom line couldn't be clearer: if job creation is your metric of choice, Pentagon contractors are a bad taxpayer investment. So whenever Marillyn Hewson or any other CEO in the military-industrial complex claims that spending yet more taxpayer dollars on defense contractors will give a jobs break to Americans, just remember their track record so far: ever more dollars invested means ever fewer Americans employed.


JBird4049 , August 5, 2019 at 1:01 am

I seem to recall reading repeatedly that half of the American combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were private contractors hired by such upstanding companies like Blackwater as well as much, or perhaps mostly, were the staffing in such as cooks, janitors, even drivers. Workers doing gig work in a war zone.

The American government got to use statistical legerdemain to cut the number of Americans fighting, dying, and being injured, which means that the official numbers of American military casualties is a lie, but it played well in the "news" stories sound bites.

The funds to pay for the hidden forces were used to pay the inflated contracts with the money often going more to companies' profits than in paying the workers. Sometimes, as in the case of the "retired" combat veterans, the pay was very, very good, but too often it was chump pay especially as the wounded did not qualify for the benefits of the military such as long term medical care or disability payments. This last bit also reduces the long term costs of the wars for the government as any help that they might get would be something like Social Security.

There are probably a fair number of disabled Americans wasting away from their unofficial military service without any of the support, problematic as it is sometimes, that the military veterans get. Then there are the lack of survivors benefits.

And yes, many people took those jobs because they were none to be had that paid the bills, but the companies made bank.

sd , August 5, 2019 at 3:01 am

To be clear, it wasn't combat troops. It was logistics support which was contracted out to Halliburton under LOGCAP. Halliburton in turn used a subsidiary and subbed it out further. USAID and various "reconstruction" contracts further inflated the number of contractors.

The significance of participating in the "Coalition" of nations was that their citizens would not be considered mercenaries under UN agreements. Hence everyone jumping on board for a piece of the pie.

JCC , August 5, 2019 at 9:39 am

True, the vast majority were logistical support personnel. I was one of them, IT services.

The layers were 3 to 5 deep, everything from laundry services and kitchen people from Pakistan and electricians and carpenters from the Philippines. KBR made bank while paying these people squat. And not only was KBR/Haliburton getting rich over over there, they failed to deliver on many of the services they were paid to provide.

Oh the stories I could tell. I learned the true meaning of War Profiteering courtesy of companies like KBR.

The Rev Kev , August 5, 2019 at 9:56 am

Then I suppose that the contents of this old 2010 article would be no surprise to you-

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/jun/09/arianna-huffington/halliburton-kbr-and-iraq-war-contracting-history-s/

JCC , August 5, 2019 at 10:49 am

I thought about doing a list of just what I saw, including the illegal billed for "force protection" mentioned in this article:

In April 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil fraud case against KBR over the issue of using private security forces in Iraq to protect its workers and subcontractors. Private security wasn't allowed under the LOGCAP contract because the U.S. military was supposed to provide protection.

Not only did Haliburton/KBR bill for it, they never provided it, at least not at the largest post there, Balad Air Base.

This article is a decent summary of the big picture, on the ground level it looked a lot worse, including costing some their lives as a direct result of incompetence and worse.

Oh , August 5, 2019 at 6:49 pm

A small biz without Cheney connections would have been nailed to the wall with the management going to prison for a crime like this.

David in Santa Cruz , August 5, 2019 at 1:20 am

This used to be called the "self-licking ice cream cone." These people have no morals, and don't care about anyone but themselves. They are merchants of death.

Off The Street , August 5, 2019 at 10:39 am

That sweet tooth got extended once the perps could brag about drinking your milkshake . Strange how they didn't get any cavities but the rest of the populace did.

skippy , August 5, 2019 at 4:05 am

Sniff I remember all the Bush Jr years of buddies getting sweetheart contracts and doing nada besides shuffling some papers .

Joe Well , August 5, 2019 at 10:14 am

>>A classic example: US uniforms and boots are made in China.

New Balance, the sneaker company with a small but significant US manufacturing capability, has been protesting this vociferously for years.

After the most recent presidential election, one of their executives told a trade publication that they were still optimistic for the future (what else were they supposed to say?) and said specifically that they were hopeful that the new administration would enforce Made-in-USA rules more forcefully (which they had been saying like a mantra forever).

And you can probably guess what happened. There was a Twitter storm of people burning New Balance sneakers. The Intercept columnist Sean King put New Balance on a list of companies to boycott.

And that is how this particular scam-laden military empire perpetuates itself: with a fake opposition stuffed with scams of its own. How much do you wanna bet that the current holders of said military contracts were astroturfing this opposition?

shinola , August 5, 2019 at 10:14 am

From the article:
As Brown University's Costs of War project has reported, "$1 billion in military spending creates approximately 11,200 jobs, compared with 26,700 in education "
This implies that a job in the MIC sector making WMD pays nearly 2.4x more than a job educating our children. What's wrong with this picture?

Trump throws billion$ more into the "defense" budget than was requested. MIC related stock prices seem to be doing rather well. Mr. President, what's in your portfolio?

Eugene , August 5, 2019 at 12:23 pm

At least we get to voice our concerns – free speech – guaranteed so far, but that's all. One day, the Ponzi will collapse, probably sooner than we think. And who will get blamed? None other then the POTUS, but he'll escape any legal hassle's because he'll be diagnosed with the dreaded "DEMENTIA". Where have we heard that before.

[Aug 06, 2019] The Declining Empire Of Chaos Is Going Nuts Over Iran

Notable quotes:
"... Tensions were then focused on Syria , where a mercenary army of at least 200,000 men, armed and trained by the US, UK, Israel, France, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, almost managed to completely topple the country. ..."
"... As the Americans, British, French and Israelis conducted their bombing missions in Syria, the danger of a deliberate attack on Russian positions always remained, something that would have had devastating consequences for the region and beyond. It is no secret that US military planners have repeatedly argued for a direct conflict with Moscow in a contained regional theater. (Clinton called for the downing of Russian jets over Syria, and former US officials claimed that some Russians had to " pay a little price ".) ..."
"... Trump's dramatic U-turn following his historic meeting with Kim Jong-un (a public relations/photo opportunity) began to paint a fairly comical and unreliable picture of US power, revealing to the world the new US president's strategy. The president threatens to nuke a country, but only as a negotiating tactic to bring his opponent to the negotiating table and thereby clinch a deal. He then presents himself to his domestic audience as the "great" deal-maker. ..."
"... With Iran, the recent target of the US administration, the bargaining method is the same, though with decidedly different results. In the cases of Ukraine and North Korea, the two most powerful lobbies in Washington, the Israeli and Saudi lobbies, have had little to say. Of course the neocons and the arms lobbyists are always gunning for war, but these two powerful state-backed lobbies were notably silent with regard to these countries, less towards Syria obviously. As distinguished political scientist John J. Mearsheimer has repeatedly explained , the Israel and Saudi lobbies have unlimited funds for corrupting Democrats and Republicans in order to push their foreign-policy goals. ..."
"... These two lobbies (together with their neocon allies) have for years been pushing to have a few hundred thousand young Americans sent to Iran to sacrifice themselves for the purposes of destroying Iran and her people. Such geopolitical games are played at the cost of US taxpayers, the lives of their children sent to war, and the lives of the people of the Middle East, who have been devastated by decades of conflict. ..."
"... The reasons vary with each case, and I have previously explained extensively why the possibilities for conflict are unthinkable. With Ukraine, a conflict on European soil between Russia and NATO was unthinkable , bringing to mind the type of devastation that was seen during the Second World War. Good sense prevailed, and even NATO somewhat refused to fully arm the Ukrainian army with weapons that would have given them an overwhelming advantage over the Donbass militias. ..."
"... In Syria, any involvement with ground troops would have been collective suicide, given the overwhelming air power deployed in the country by Russia. Recall that since the Second World War, the US has never fought a war in an airspace that was seriously contested (in Vietnam, US air losses were only elevated because of Sino-Soviet help), allowing for ground troops to receive air cover and protection . A ground assault in Syria would have therefore been catastrophic without the requisite control of Syria's skies. ..."
"... Because a war with Iran would be difficult to de-escalate, we can conclude that the possibility of war being waged against the country is unlikely if not impossible. The level of damage the belligerents would inflict on each other would make any diplomatic resolution of the conflict difficult. While the powerful Israeli and Saudi lobbies in the US may be beating the war drums, an indication of what would happen if war followed can be seen in Yemen. Egypt and the UAE were forced to withdraw from the coalition fighting the Houthis after the UAE suffered considerable damage from legitimate retaliatory missile strikes from the Yemen's Army Missile Forces. ..."
"... An open war against Iran continues to be a red line that the ruling financial elites in the US, Israelis and Saudis don't want to cross, having so much at stake. ..."
"... With an election looming, Trump cannot risk triggering a new conflict and betraying one of his most important electoral promises. The Western elite does not seem to have any intention of destroying the petrodollar-based world economy with which it generates its own profits and controls global finance. ..."
"... Even if we consider the possibility of Netanyahu and Bin Salman being mentally unstable, someone within the royal palace in Riyadh or the government in Tel Aviv would have counseled them on the political and personal consequences of an attack on Iran. ..."
Aug 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

In 2014 we were almost at the point of no return in Ukraine following the coup d'etat supported and funded by NATO and involving extremist right-wing Ukrainian nationalists. The conflict in the Donbass risked escalating into a conflict between NATO and the Russian Federation, every day in the summer and autumn of 2014 threatening to be doomsday. Rather than respond to the understandable impulse to send Russian troops into Ukraine to defend the population of Donbass, Putin had the presense of mind to pursue the less direct and more sensible strategy of supporting the material capacity of the residents of Donbass to resist the depredations of the Ukrainian army and their neo-Nazi Banderite thugs. Meanwhile, Europe's inept leaders initially egged on Ukraine's destabilization, only to get cold feet after reflecting on the possibility of having a conflict between Moscow and Washington fought on European soil.

With the resistance in Donbass managing to successfully hold back Ukrainian assaults, the conflict began to freeze, almost to the point of a complete ceasefire, even as Ukrainian provocations continue to this day.

Tensions were then focused on Syria , where a mercenary army of at least 200,000 men, armed and trained by the US, UK, Israel, France, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, almost managed to completely topple the country. Russian intervention in 2015 managed to save the country with no time to spare, destroying large numbers of terrorists and reorganizing the Syrian armed forces and training and equipping them with the necessary means to beat back the jihadi waves. The Russians also ensured control of the skies through their network of Pantsir-S1, Pantsir-S2, S-300 and S-400 air-defence systems, together with their impressive jamming (Krasukha-4), command and control information management system (Strelets C4ISR System) and electronic-warfare technologies (1RL257 Krasukha-4).

As the Americans, British, French and Israelis conducted their bombing missions in Syria, the danger of a deliberate attack on Russian positions always remained, something that would have had devastating consequences for the region and beyond. It is no secret that US military planners have repeatedly argued for a direct conflict with Moscow in a contained regional theater. (Clinton called for the downing of Russian jets over Syria, and former US officials claimed that some Russians had to " pay a little price ".)

Since Trump became president, the rhetoric of war has soared considerably, even as the awareness remains that any new conflict would sink Trump's chances of re-election. Despite this, Trump's bombings in Syria were real and potentially very harmful to the Syrian state. Nevertheless, they were foiled by Russia's electronic-warfare capability, which was able to send veering away from their intended target more than 70% of the latest-generation missiles launched by the British, French, Americans and Israelis.

One of the most terrifying moments for the future of humanity came a few months later when Trump started hurling threats and abuses at Kim Jong-un , threatening to reduce Pyongyang to ashes. Trump, moreover, delivered his fiery threats in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

Trump's dramatic U-turn following his historic meeting with Kim Jong-un (a public relations/photo opportunity) began to paint a fairly comical and unreliable picture of US power, revealing to the world the new US president's strategy. The president threatens to nuke a country, but only as a negotiating tactic to bring his opponent to the negotiating table and thereby clinch a deal. He then presents himself to his domestic audience as the "great" deal-maker.

With Iran, the recent target of the US administration, the bargaining method is the same, though with decidedly different results. In the cases of Ukraine and North Korea, the two most powerful lobbies in Washington, the Israeli and Saudi lobbies, have had little to say. Of course the neocons and the arms lobbyists are always gunning for war, but these two powerful state-backed lobbies were notably silent with regard to these countries, less towards Syria obviously. As distinguished political scientist John J. Mearsheimer has repeatedly explained , the Israel and Saudi lobbies have unlimited funds for corrupting Democrats and Republicans in order to push their foreign-policy goals.

The difference between the case of Iran and the aforementioned cases of Ukraine, Syria and North Korea is precisely the direct involvement of these two lobbies in the decision-making process underway in the US.

These two lobbies (together with their neocon allies) have for years been pushing to have a few hundred thousand young Americans sent to Iran to sacrifice themselves for the purposes of destroying Iran and her people. Such geopolitical games are played at the cost of US taxpayers, the lives of their children sent to war, and the lives of the people of the Middle East, who have been devastated by decades of conflict.

What readers can be assured of is that in the cases of Ukraine, Syria, North Korea and Iran, the US is unable to militarily impose its geopolitical or economic will.

The reasons vary with each case, and I have previously explained extensively why the possibilities for conflict are unthinkable. With Ukraine, a conflict on European soil between Russia and NATO was unthinkable , bringing to mind the type of devastation that was seen during the Second World War. Good sense prevailed, and even NATO somewhat refused to fully arm the Ukrainian army with weapons that would have given them an overwhelming advantage over the Donbass militias.

In Syria, any involvement with ground troops would have been collective suicide, given the overwhelming air power deployed in the country by Russia. Recall that since the Second World War, the US has never fought a war in an airspace that was seriously contested (in Vietnam, US air losses were only elevated because of Sino-Soviet help), allowing for ground troops to receive air cover and protection . A ground assault in Syria would have therefore been catastrophic without the requisite control of Syria's skies.

In North Korea, the country's tactical and strategic nuclear and conventional deterrence discourages any missile attack. Any overland attack is out of the question, given the high number of active as well as reserve personnel in the DPRK army. If the US struggled to control a completely defeated Iraq in 2003, how much more difficult would be to deal with a country with a resilient population that is indisposed to bowing to the US? The 2003 Iraq campaign would really be a "cakewalk" in comparison. Another reason why a missile attack on North Korea is impossible is because of the conventional power that Pyongyang possesses in the form of tens of thousands of missiles and artillery pieces that could easily reduce Seoul to rubble in a matter of minutes. This would then lead to a war between the US and the DPRK being fought on the Korean Peninsula. Moon Jae-in, like Merkel and Sarkozy in the case of Ukraine, did everything in his power to prevent such a devastating conflict.

Concerning tensions between the US and Iran and the resulting threats of war, these should be taken as bluster and bluff. America's European allies are heavily involved in Iran and depend on the Middle East for their oil and gas imports. A US war against Iran would have devastating consequences for the world economy, with the Europeans seeing their imports halved or reduced. As Professor Chossudovsky of the strategic think tank Global Research has so ably argued , an attack on Iran is unsustainable, as the oil sectors of the UAE and Saudi Arabia would be hit and shut down. Exports would instantly end after the pipelines going West are bombed by the Houthis and the Strait of Hormuz closed. The economies of these two countries would implode and their ruling class wiped out by internal revolts. The state of Israel as well as US bases in the region would see themselves overwhelmed with missiles coming from Syria, Lebanon, the Golan Heights and Iran. The Tel Aviv government would last a few hours before capitulating under the pressure of its own citizens, who, like the Europeans, are unused to suffering war at home.

Because a war with Iran would be difficult to de-escalate, we can conclude that the possibility of war being waged against the country is unlikely if not impossible. The level of damage the belligerents would inflict on each other would make any diplomatic resolution of the conflict difficult. While the powerful Israeli and Saudi lobbies in the US may be beating the war drums, an indication of what would happen if war followed can be seen in Yemen. Egypt and the UAE were forced to withdraw from the coalition fighting the Houthis after the UAE suffered considerable damage from legitimate retaliatory missile strikes from the Yemen's Army Missile Forces.

An open war against Iran continues to be a red line that the ruling financial elites in the US, Israelis and Saudis don't want to cross, having so much at stake.

With an election looming, Trump cannot risk triggering a new conflict and betraying one of his most important electoral promises. The Western elite does not seem to have any intention of destroying the petrodollar-based world economy with which it generates its own profits and controls global finance. And finally, US military planners do not intend to suffer a humiliating defeat in Iran that would reveal the extent to which US military power is based on propaganda built over the years through Hollywood movies and wars successfully executed against relatively defenceless countries. Even if we consider the possibility of Netanyahu and Bin Salman being mentally unstable, someone within the royal palace in Riyadh or the government in Tel Aviv would have counseled them on the political and personal consequences of an attack on Iran.

It is telling that Washington, London, Tel Aviv and Riyadh have to resort to numerous but ultimately useless provocations against Iran, as they can only rely on hybrid attacks in order to economically isolate it from the rest of the world.

Paradoxically, this strategy has had devastating consequences for the role of the US dollar as a reserve currency together with the SWIFT system. In today's multipolar environment, acting in such an imperious manner leads to the acceleration of de-dollarization as a way of circumventing sanctions and bans imposed by the US.

A reserve currency is used to facilitate transactions. If the disadvantages come to exceed the benefits, it will progressively be used less and less, until it is replaced by a basket of currencies that more closely reflect the multipolar geopolitical reality.

The warmongers in Washington are exasperated by their continuing inability to curb the resilience and resistance of the people in Venezuela, Iran, Syria, North Korea and Donbass, countries and regions understood by the healthy part of the globe as representing the axis of resistance to US Imperialism.


Batman11 , 14 minutes ago link

A multi-polar world became a uni-polar world with the fall of the Berlin Wall and Francis Fukuyama said it was the end of history.

That didn't last long, did it?

The US came up with a great plan for an open, globalised world.

China went from almost nothing to become a global superpower.

It was a great plan for China, which is now the problem for the US.

Batman11 , 24 minutes ago link

The cry of US elites can be heard across the world.

Mummy.

What's gone wrong?

I am used to always getting my own way.

Thought.Adjuster , 55 minutes ago link

If Folks would just accept a unipolar World, we could all live together in peace.

ZeroPorridge , 6 minutes ago link

Monopoly means utter slavery.

Like in a living body, each cells on their own, grouped by function, none really being the boss of the rest.

uhland62 , 1 hour ago link

America must always threaten someone with war. Syria, Iran, Venezuela, China, Russia, so many to choose from.

Conflicts must never be resolved; they must always kept simmering, so a hot war can be triggered quickly. All Presidents are turned in the first three months after sworn in.

Jazzman , 1 hour ago link

Without required air superiority they are what? Say it! Say it loud!

Dude-dude , 49 minutes ago link

It's what happens as empires mature. Governance becomes bloated, corrupt and inept (often leading to wars). Maturity time has become significantly reduced due to the rate of information technology advance. America is five years away from going insolvent according to most models and forecasts. All new debt after 2024 will be used to pay the interest on existing debts and liabilities. There is simply no stopping it. The US already pays close to 500 billion in annual interest on debts and liabilities. Factor in a 600 billion or 700 billion dollar annual military budget, and unrestrained deficit spending clocking in at over a trillion, and, well, it isn't going to work for long. Considering most new well paying jobs are government jobs... The end is either full socialism / fascism (folks still don't get how similar these are), a currency crisis and panic, depression and institutional deterioration. The only good news to libertarians I guess - if you can call it good - is that the blotted government along with the crony corporations will mostly and eventually collapse. Libertarian governance might not be a choice by an electorate, it might simply become fact in the aftermath.

-- ALIEN -- , 3 hours ago link

As the falling EROEI of oil gets worse; countries will collapse... It's all downhill from here

...what few are left.

Lokiban , 3 hours ago link

I guess Trump eventually will understand this lesson in politics that friendship, mutual respect and helping each other accomplishes way way more then threatening countries to be bombed back into the stoneage.
Noone likes to do a cutthroat deal enforced upon them by thuggery. Trump's got to learn that you can't run politics like you do your bussinesses, it's not working unles that was his plan all this time, to destroy America.

NumbersUsa , 3 hours ago link

"The Israel and Saudi lobbies have unlimited funds for corrupting Democrats and Republicans in order to push their foreign-policy goals.

These two lobbies (together with their neocon allies) have for years been pushing to have a few hundred thousand young Americans sent to Iran to sacrifice themselves for the purposes of destroying Iran and her people. Such geopolitical games are played at the cost of US taxpayers, the lives of their children sent to war, and the lives of the people of the Middle East, who have been devastated by decades of conflict."

Excellent and Factual points! Thank You!

Scaliger , 3 hours ago link

https://www.jta.org/2019/07/01/united-states/the-israel-projects-ceo-is-leaving-amid-advocacy-groups-fundraising-difficulties

Minamoto , 3 hours ago link

America is increasingly looking like Ancient Rome towards the end. It is overstretched, nearly insolvent, fewer allies want to be allies, it's population is sick, physically and mentally. Obesity, diabetes, drug use/addiction make it impossible for the Pentagon to meet recruitment goal. Mental illness causes daily mass killing. The education system is so broken/broke that there is little real education being done. Americans are among the most ignorant, least educated and least educate-able people in the developed world.

Militarily, the USA can bomb but that's about it... defeats upon defeats over the past two decades demonstrate the US military is a paper tiger of astonishing incompetence.

Boeing can't make planes anymore. Lockheed is not much better. Parts of the F-35 are made by Chinese subsidiaries. The most recently built aircraft carrier cannot launch fighter jets.

-- ALIEN -- , 3 hours ago link

We gots NASCAR, big trucks, free TV, fast food, and endless ****.

Go 'Merica!

Justin Case , 2 hours ago link

Recent estimates indicate that more than 550,000 people experience homelessness in the US on any given night, with about two-thirds ending up in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, and one-third finding their way to unsheltered locations like parks, vehicles, and metro stations. According to the Urban Institute, about 25% of homeless people have jobs.

I find that it is difficult for me to wrap my head around pain and suffering on such an immense scale. Americans often think of the homeless as drug-addicted men that don't want to work, but the truth is that about a quarter of the homeless population is made up of children.

foxenburg , 2 hours ago link

Seriously, why would Iran want to hijack a German ship? Iran took the UK one in retaliation for the Brits seizing the one at Gibraltar. Had that not happened, no Brit ships in the Persian Gulf would have been touched. This is all a carefully engineered USA provocation designed to, inter alia, increase tension in the Persian Gulf, put more nails in coffin of JCPOA...and most importantly give UK an excuse, as remaining signatory, to call for the original UN sanctions on Iran to be snapped-back.

terrific , 4 hours ago link

Federico, let me explain it simply: the U.S. is allied with Israel, and Iran hates Israel. Why, I don't know (nor do I care), but that's why the U.S. needs to keep Iran in check.

Grouchy-Bear , 4 hours ago link

You are confused...

Israel hates Iran and it is Israel that needs to be kept in check...

CatInTheHat , 4 hours ago link

Yet CONGRESS just passed the largest defense bill in history. The WAR industry is bankrupting us financially spiritually and morally.

A war is coming. But upon whom this time (or STILL?), because with President Bolton and Vice President Adelson in power, China Iran or Russia or maybe all three, are open options.

Ofelas , 4 hours ago link

Interview with a Russian I saw 2 years ago "USA wants to create local conflicts on foreign shores, ...on our borders, we will not allow that to happen and make the war international" I will translate: Russia will not be pulled in to some stupid small war draining their resources while the US sits comfortable, they will throw their missiles around - no escape from nuclear winter.

libtears , 3 hours ago link

Us pays more in interest than defense spending now. You'll need to factor that into your predictions

UBrexitUPay4it , 3 hours ago link

If spending has reached the limit now, during peacetime....what will happen during a protracted war? Even if it stays conventional, it would appear that a huge war effort, comparable to WWII, just won't be possible. The US seems to be in a pre-war Britain position, but there isn't a friendly giant across the water to bail them out with both cash and resources.

Either things become insane in fairly short order, or wiser heads will prevail and the US will step back from the brink. Do we have any wiser heads at the moment?

I keep seeing John Bolton's moustache, Andi am not filled with confidence.

[Aug 06, 2019] Congress Spending Surge is National Suicide by Ron Paul

Aug 06, 2019 | www.unz.com

With a national debt approaching $23 trillion and a trillion dollar deficit for this year alone, Congress last week decided to double down on suicidal spending, passing a two year budget that has the United States careening toward catastrophe. While we cannot say precisely when the economic crash will occur, we do know that it is coming. And last week Congress pounded down on the accelerator.

We are told that the US economy is experiencing unprecedented growth, while at the same time the Fed is behaving as it does when we are in recession by cutting rates and dodging insults from the President because it's not cutting fast enough. This is not economic policy – it's schizophrenia!

But that's only the beginning.

Take what they call "national defense" spending. This is the misnomer they use to try and convince us that pumping trillions into the military-industrial complex will make us safe and free. Nothing could be further from the truth: probably ninety percent of the "defense" budget is aggressive militarism and welfare for the rich.

Under this budget deal the military budget would increase to nearly $1.4 trillion for two years. Of course that's only a fraction of real military spending, which is, all told, well over one trillion dollars per year.

What do we get for this money? Are we safer? Not at all. We are more vulnerable than ever. We spend billions fighting "terrorism" in Africa while terrorism has actually increased since the creation of the US Africa Command – "AFRICOM" – in 2007. Meanwhile we continue to spend to maintain our illegal military occupation of a large section of Syria – which benefits terrorist groups seeking to overthrow Assad.

We're sending thousands more troops to the Middle East including basing US troops in Saudi Arabia for the first time since 2003. Back then, even neocon Paul Wolfowitz praised our departure from Saudi Arabia because, as he rightly stated, US troops on Saudi soil was a great recruiting tool for al-Qaeda.

Now we've pulled out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty so that we can deploy once-forbidden missiles on China's front door. A new arms race with China will mean a new boon for our new Defense Secretary's former colleagues at Raytheon!

[Aug 05, 2019] Don t Underestimate Iran s Ability to Fight a Bloody War

Aug 05, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Don't Underestimate Iran's Ability to Fight a Bloody War They already proved themselves against Iraq during the 1980s -- and they're far stronger today. By Pouya Alimagham August 6, 2019

Circa 1980's; an Iranian soldier wearing gas mask during Iran-Iraq War. Iraq used chemical weapons against military and civilian targets throughout the eight year war. Declassified reports indicate that Saddam Hussein had international assistance in obtaining the weapons, including from the U.S. and U.K, and the CIA assisted in targeting. (Creative Commons/Wikipedia) On July 29, President Trump tweeted: "Just remember, Iranians never won a war, but never lost a negotiation." In just 12 words, Trump leveled a multi-layered, ahistorical insult against both his predecessor, Barack Obama, and Iran.

More importantly, the remarks betray a dangerously ignorant understanding of Iran that could result in another careless Middle East war of choice.

The tweet invokes a clichéd, colonial-era stereotype that Iranians, like other Middle Eastern peoples, are wily swindlers -- rapacious, greedy bazaar merchants who aim to take advantage of honest and unsuspecting Westerners. Trump is hardly the first American leader to dabble in such denigrating stereotypes. Wendy Sherman, a senior State Department official and former lead negotiator who helped forge the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, infamously quipped that Iranians could not be trusted because they have "deception in their DNA."

The president deployed the stereotype of Iranian cunning to imply that they tricked a naïve president, Barack Obama, into signing a flawed nuclear deal. According to the world's foremost nuclear security experts , however, the accord was ensuring Iran's compliance, thereby preventing a nuclear weapons program -- that is, until Trump subverted the agreement in 2018.

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More importantly, Trump's words underscore the idea that Iranians are cowardly and militarily ineffectual, but make up for such unflattering character flaws by swindling their foes during negotiations to achieve victory.

Iran's last war, however, should dispel any notion of cowardice and military weakness -- a history President Trump and anti-Iran hawks like National Security Adviser John Bolton must face with clear eyes if the United States is to avoid another needless, catastrophic war in the Middle East.

Iraq Invades Iran

In the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Iran faced one of its most vulnerable moments in modern times. During the revolutionary upheaval, many arms depots were raided and weapons were distributed to volunteers ready to deliver the monarchy its coup de grace .

After the watershed moment, the Revolutionary Council feared that, given the Anglo-American coup in 1953 through the Iranian military, Iran's generals could not be trusted. The subsequent purge resulted in the decimation of the country's military leadership. Moreover, political infighting between revolutionary factions also led to unrest. To make matters worse, militant students were fearful that the U.S. was planning to undermine the revolution through a coup -- as it did the nationalist government of Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953 -- so they resolved to ward off any such attempts. Consequently, they seized the U.S. embassy and held its personnel hostage. The international community responded by isolating Iran for its blatant disregard for international norms.

Capitalizing on Iran's internal post-revolutionary chaos, military disarray, and international isolation, Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of his neighboring rival on September 22, 1980. Shortly after, Iran's internal power struggle between the various revolutionary factions erupted into open warfare.

So devastating was the power struggle that many of the leading personalities of the Iranian Revolution died in assassinations and bomb blasts, including Iran's president and prime minister. Thus, the Iranian state was forced to fight on two battlefronts -- internally against its challengers and externally against Iraqi invaders. The government did not, however, collapse under the weight of its domestic rivals and foreign aggressors. In fact, the war enlivened Charles Tilly's timeless words: "War makes states."

Iranian Resilience

The Iranian state harnessed a powerful ideology that intertwined nationalism with Islamic revolutionary zeal in order to prompt Iranians to close rank behind it, marshaling hundreds of thousands of soldiers to liberate Iranian territory occupied by the Iraqi military. By May 24, 1982, and after tens of thousands of deaths, Iran freed the border city of Khorramshahr after a brutal two-year siege.

Soon after Khorramshahr's liberation, the invading Iraqis were on the defensive, and Saddam's wartime financiers, namely Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, offered Iran a multi-billion dollar reparations package to end the war. Iran's leader refused, declaring that the only way the war would end was with Saddam Hussein's bloody demise. He then spearheaded the conflict onto Iraqi soil for the first time. Time captured the moment by phrasing the counter-invasion as " Iran on the march ."

Iran Versus the World

Iraq enjoyed the support of the United States, Soviet Union, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and the Arab League -- with the exception of Syria and Libya -- and even used chemical weapons on Iranian troops. Yet Iran persisted despite such horrible odds, and hundreds of thousands continued to go to the battlefront knowing it was possible that they, too, could fall victim to Iraq's horrific chemical weapons.

The violence dragged on for eight bitter years, making it the longest conventional war of the 20th century -- with an Iranian death toll estimated between half a million to a million. To put that staggering number into perspective, the conservative estimate exceeds the total American loss of life in World War II.

The war's conclusion was a failure in Iranian eyes, as it did not end in Saddam Hussein's overthrow and Iraqis and the region would continue to suffer at his hands. Two years later, he refused to demobilize his million-man army to a jobless future in a war-ravaged economy, and instead dispatched them across Iraq's border again -- this time to Kuwait.

Yet neither did Iran lose the war. In fact, it was the first conflict since the two 19th-century wars with Czarist Russia in which Iran did not lose any territory. Above all, the country survived a genocidal conflict -- and survival was its own victory.

Iran Today

Today, Iran's population is more than double what it was in 1980 -- estimated at roughly 83 million . After lacking military support from abroad during the Iran-Iraq War, Iran now has extensive domestic weapons manufacturing capabilities. Also unlike 1980, it has more allies in the region. In other words, if Iran fought so stubbornly under such dire circumstances during the '80s, it will only fight more effectively today. It has already proven itself militarily by coordinating the fight alongside the U.S. to defeat ISIS in Iraq while simultaneously working with Russia to help the Syrian government win an unrelenting civil war.

The Iranian military budget may be a fraction of America's, but the Trump administration -- especially anti-Iran hawks John Bolton and Mike Pompeo -- should consider this history and current reality objectively. If they don't, if they continue to underestimate Iran the same way the Bush administration did with a far weaker Iraq in 2003, they risk another war of choice. Indeed, on the eve of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney infamously stated : "I think it will go relatively quickly weeks rather than months." To be sure, history has been unkind to his rosy assessment.

Thinking a war with Iran will be over before it begins -- or that it will, as Senator Tom Cotton boasted , not require more than "two strikes, the first strike and the last strike" -- is the first step towards another needless, ruinous war.

Pouya Alimagham is a historian of the modern Middle East at Massachusetts Institute of Technology , and author of the forthcoming Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings (Cambridge University Press). Follow him on Twitter @iPouya .

[Aug 03, 2019] Democratic Party under Clinton and Obama was converted into the party of war and neocolonialism

Aug 03, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

nottheonly1 , Aug 2 2019 19:08 utc | 9

While I am aware of Eric Zuesse being somewhat controversial to some people, I do concur with his assessment of the party that should be stripped of the 'Democratic' prefix. There is nothing democratic in this organization and its members are either willful stooges, or the most gullible people on earth - responsible for heinous crimes against humanity under the cover of 'humanitarian aid'.

To even consider to allow this organization to continue in its deception of the American electorate, shows the deepest infiltration of foreign influence, for whom this deception is not only natural, but also compulsive. You may have guessed it, it's not the Russians.

The Democratic Party's AIPAC Candidates

However, an article by the Strategic Culture Organization, linked to on MOA yesterday

The 'Special Relationship' is collapsing , goes even further. It makes obvious the unholy filth that has been plaguing humanity for a very long time. And while some may find it questionable, it turns out that the Queen does appear to be the longest sitting Fascist in the history of mankind.

Sometimes it is necessary to connect the dots beyond personal beliefs in regards to the real conspiracy against working people all over the world.

[Aug 03, 2019] Democratic party now is a war party. As such it does not need to win the elections to stay in power

Aug 03, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Emma Peele , August 2, 2019 at 16:05

Pro war democrats are now using the Russian ruse to go after anti war candidates like Gabbard.

It's despicable to even insinuate Gabbard is working for Putin or had any other rationale for going to Syria than seeking peace.

This alone proved Harris unfit for the presidency.

Her awful record speaks for itself.

[Aug 03, 2019] Russian General recently remarked specific to electronic countermeasures/jammers that the more complex they are, the easier they are to confound or defeat.

Aug 03, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Aug 3 2019 11:27 utc | 76

@ # 41 > "With the USAF and the military as a whole, increasing amounts of money are thrown at ever increasingly complex weapons systems yet performance in all sectors deteriorates while the ability to recruit also degrades. The problems are widely written..."

Indeed, Ruskie General recently remarked specific to electronic countermeasures/jammers that the more complex they are, the easier they are to confound or defeat.

The general principle operates in all realms.

I did make a note of the guy's name...but it is obvious, isn't it? I mean one has only to look...

[Aug 02, 2019] A lot of US debt is "invested" in bombing sand piles for Prince bin Salman.

Aug 02, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

ilsm -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 23, 2019 at 04:05 AM

A lot of US debt is "invested" in bombing sand piles for Prince bin Salman.

The budget deal raises the pentagon's budget from $733 to 738B the 733B the glut that got through the House.

The total US G debt is pretty close to the sum of pentagon largesse since 1947.

RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to ilsm... , July 23, 2019 at 04:22 AM
According to Tim Taylor we should save some of that sand. Maybe sand will be the next oil for funding ME dictators.

Hey, everyone loves a parade and what's a parade without tanks? If gives us something in common with the commies. On the one hand, this is a paranoid world and on the other hand, people love to see stuff get blown up. Battling against empire is an uphill battle with a long historical track record of failures so obscure that mostly no one has even ever heard of them. I guess if someone is committed to fighting a losing battle then they might as well go for losing big.

mulp -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 24, 2019 at 05:50 AM
"According to Tim Taylor we should save some of that sand. Maybe sand will be the next oil for funding ME dictators"

Wrong kind of sand. Not sure why, but water borne sand is jagged, but wind borne sand is smooth.

RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to mulp ... , July 24, 2019 at 09:52 AM
[Good to know. Thanks. Do you think that finite (made from desert sand) will eventually be formulated to last long enough for general construction use?]

https://materialdistrict.com/article/finite-concrete-desert-sand/

Finite: a more sustainable alternative to concrete made from desert sand


26 March 2018

Sand is worldwide in high demand and heavily used in many industries, especially construction. With deserts full of it, one can easily be fooled into thinking that sand is an almost infinite resource. However, desert sand has little use; the grains are too smooth and fine to bind together, so it is not suitable for the making of for instance concrete. The start-up Finite, founded by researchers from Imperial College London, created a material composite made with desert sand that serves as a more sustainable alternative to concrete.

The supply of construction-grade sand is dwindling worldwide. This type of sand is stripped from beaches and riverbeds, but because of the heavy use, the supply is diminishing rapidly. Desert sand, on the other hand, is plentiful. This sand is not used in construction, as its grains are too smooth and fine to bind together for building materials.

The newly developed composite makes use of desert sand and "other abundant fine powders that traditionally have no use". According to the inventors, Finite can be turned into structures that have the same strength as housing bricks and residential concrete.

The material is more environmentally friendly than concrete, with a concrete footprint that is less than half that of concrete. Unlike concrete, which must be either downcycled or sent to the landfill at the end of its life, the new material can easily be reused as it can be remoulded for multiple lifecycle uses. The material can be coloured using natural dyes.

Finite can be used in desert areas, made with local sand rather than imported concrete. For now, the material is only suitable for temporary constructions, after which the material can be reused or left to decompose. For permanent structures, the material still has to pass rounds of testing and regulations...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to ilsm... , July 23, 2019 at 05:59 AM
As ice melts, Greenland could become big sand
exporter: study https://reut.rs/2Gmryx1

Alister Doyle - February 11, 2019

OSLO (Reuters) - Greenland could start to export sand in a rare positive spinoff from global warming that is melting the island's vast ice sheet and washing large amounts of sediment into the sea, scientists said on Monday.

Mining of sand and gravel, widely used in the construction industry, could boost the economy for Greenland's 56,000 population who have wide powers of self-rule within Denmark but rely heavily on subsidies from Copenhagen.

By mining sand, "Greenland could benefit from the challenges brought by climate change," a team of scientists in Denmark and the United States wrote in the journal Nature Sustainability.

The study, headlined "Promises and perils of sand exploitation in Greenland", said the Arctic island would have to assess risks of coastal mining, especially to fisheries.

Rising global temperatures are melting the Greenland ice sheet, which locks up enough water to raise global sea levels by about seven meters (23 ft) if it ever all thawed, and carrying ever more sand and gravel into coastal fjords.

"You can think of it (the melting ice) as a tap that pours out sediment to the coast," said lead author Mette Bendixen, a researcher at the University of Colorado's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

Worldwide demand for sand totaled about 9.55 billion tonnes in 2017 with a market value of $99.5 billion and is projected to reach almost $481 billion in 2100, driven by rising demand and likely shortages, the study said.

That meant a rare opportunity for the island. ...


RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , July 23, 2019 at 09:56 AM
"As you be muche the worse. and I cast awaie.
An yll wynde, that blowth no man to good, men saie.
Wel (quoth he) euery wind blowth not down the corn
I hope (I saie) good hap [luck] be not all out worn." - John Heywood - 1546
Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 24, 2019 at 03:57 AM
Hmmm. "It's an Ille Wynde
that blows no Bodye Goode?"
RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , July 24, 2019 at 05:03 AM
Mister Sandman brings dream to Greenland.
RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 24, 2019 at 05:06 AM
Mister Sandman is moving into Frosty the Snowman's old digs in uptown Nuuk.
anne , July 23, 2019 at 04:11 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/22/opinion/biden-sanders-health-care.html

July 22, 2019

Biden and Sanders, Behaving Badly
A bad-faith debate over health care coverage.
By Paul Krugman

Health care was a key factor in Democrats' victory in the 2018 midterm elections, and it should be a big plus in 2020 as well. The shared Democratic position -- that every legal resident should have access to affordable care, regardless of income or health status -- is immensely popular. The de facto Republican position -- that we should go back to a situation in which those whose jobs don't come with health benefits, or who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, can't get insurance -- is so unpopular that G.O.P. candidates consistently lie about their own proposals.

But right now, two of the major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, are having an ugly argument about health care that could hurt the party's chances. There are real, important differences between the two men's policy proposals, and it's fine to point that out. What's not fine is the name-calling and false assertions. Both men are behaving badly. And for their party's sake, and their country's, they need to stop it.

Let's back up. There are, broadly speaking, two ways a country can try to achieve universal health insurance. One is single-payer: The government simply pays the bills. The other retains a role for private insurance but relies on a combination of regulations and subsidies to ensure that everyone gets covered.

We don't have to speculate about how these systems would work in practice, because every advanced country except the U.S. has some form of universal coverage. Some, like Canada and Britain, use single-payer (in Britain the government also operates the hospitals and pays the doctors). Others, like Switzerland and the Netherlands, have a large role for private insurers.

The clean little secret of health care is that both approaches work when countries try to make them work. In fact, we can see both systems at work right here in America.

More than 100 million Americans are covered by Medicare or Medicaid, which are both single-payer programs; despite Ronald Reagan's ominous warnings back in 1961, neither destroyed American freedom. Since 2014, millions more have been covered by the Affordable Care Act, which was underfunded and has been subject to extensive Republican sabotage; nonetheless, states like California that have tried to make the act work have experienced huge declines in the number of residents without insurance.

Which brings us back to the Democratic quarrel.

Sanders, of course, has made Medicare for All his signature proposal. Could such a plan work? Absolutely. But there are two valid criticisms of his proposal.

First, it would have to be paid for with higher taxes. While many people would find the increased tax burden offset by lower premiums, the required tax increases would be daunting. And while Sanders has in fact proposed a number of new taxes, independent estimates say that the revenue they'd generate would fall far short of what his plan would cost.

Second, the Sanders plan would require that roughly 180 million Americans give up their current private insurance and replace it with something different. Persuading them that this would be an improvement, even if true, would be a tall order. Indeed, there's good reason to believe that eliminating the option of retaining private insurance would be an electoral loser. (Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, take heed.)

On the other side, Biden is proposing to build on Obamacare. That can sound like tinkering at the edges. But his actual plan is much bigger and better than is widely realized, with large increases in funding, a public option, and more. It would, arguably, bring the A.C.A. close to the standards of successful European systems.

That said, the Biden plan would preserve the crazy-quilt, Rube Goldberg aspects of our current system, which impose a lot of unnecessary costs and make it too easy for people to fall through the cracks.

So there's plenty of room for a good-faith Sanders-Biden argument. Unfortunately, that's not the argument they're having.

Instead, Sanders is arguing that only single-payer can purge "corporate greed" from the system -- an assertion belied by European experience -- and broadly hinting that Biden is in the pocket of corporate interests. That's a criticism you can level about some of Biden's past policy positions, like his advocacy of the 2005 bankruptcy law. But it's not a fair criticism of a health plan that's actually pretty good, and which most people would have considered radical just a few years ago.

For his part, Biden is declaring that the Sanders plan would undermine Medicare. In fact, it would enhance current recipients' benefits. And it's a bad sign that Biden, who poses as Obamacare's great defender, is using a G.O.P. scare tactic familiar from the utterly dishonest campaign against the A.C.A. No Democrat should be stooping to that level.

Unfortunately, Biden and Sanders will be appearing on different nights during the next Democratic debates. So it will be up to other candidates, or the moderators, to put them on the spot. It's time for both men to stop poisoning their own party's well.

ilsm -> anne... , July 23, 2019 at 04:18 AM
It may get ugly if Sanders points to the elephant in the room......

US remains, and Obamacare did nothing to alter it, the only "developed" country where establishments that finance the health of human beings are run as profit generating businesses.

ilsm -> ilsm... , July 23, 2019 at 01:47 PM
The established democrats are against any progress, as they diss Bernie they are done with me.
mulp -> ilsm... , July 24, 2019 at 06:41 AM
Medicare is a bad model for health care because its based on a piece work production system, ie, payment only for doing medical work, and no payment for preventing preventable medical treatment.

For example, prescribing opiates repeatedly was paid for each and every time, but working to not prescribe opiates is not.

And now getting people off it opiate addiction is paid for, but not working with patients to prevent addiction to opiates.

Thanks to Nixon, a number of very good HMOs were created and required to be options in employer benefit programs, in NH, this resulted in half of all NH residents picking the HMO Mathew Thornton health plan over BCBS which in 1970 covered 80% of NH residents. The HMO only had clinics covering only 60-70% of the population while BCBS paid almost any doctor in the four state region.

MTHP was extremely well liked. It provided great health care. Doctors ran it, not bean counters. Doctors didn't need to invent diseases to get paid for spending time with patients.

But Bernie has stated that HMOs are bad because they seek to not provide medical treatments, as if health care is about making patients suffer both illnesses and then the treatments.

HMOs operate on the Deming model. Design the system for high quality so less work is required, thus lower cost to deliver the best outcome, whether a qualty car, walkman, TV, health.

JohnH -> anne... , July 23, 2019 at 07:46 AM
Coming from Krugman, with a view of how he trashed Bernie's plan on behalf of Hillary in 2016, this is pretty rich.

I guess it's up to Krugman to decide when it's OK to behave badly

And then he attacks Bernie's plan: people won't want to pay more in taxes to fund Medicare for All. Nowhere is it mentioned that the taxes would be in lieu of insurance premiums and as we all know (!!!) people are just delighted to pay those insurance companies because, you know it's better to be ripped off by private enterprise than to pay taxes for real insurance coverage with no deductibles and co-pays!!!

Krugman just can't seem to wean himself of those industry talking points

Christopher H. said in reply to anne... , July 23, 2019 at 07:58 AM
Krugman has gone back to his 2016 ways. It is really sad. I'm surprised Kurt and EMike haven't joined him yet. There's still time.

"It's time for both men to stop poisoning their own party's well."

You need to turn out your base to win, not soft-peddle to win in purple and red states.

Hillary tried EMike's and the centrists' strat and she lost.

If Biden is the nominee, there's a chance he could lose, but then Krugman was never serious about beating Trump despite his overheated rhetoric.

Julio -> anne... , July 23, 2019 at 10:27 AM
"And while Sanders has in fact proposed a number of new taxes, independent estimates say that the revenue they'd generate would fall far short of what his plan would cost."

Mealy-mouthed way of saying that Sanders is lying.

JohnH -> anne... , July 23, 2019 at 01:11 PM
It seems that Krugman is programmed to object strenuously to anything that does not preserve the inefficient, Rube Goldberg health insurance system were have in place today. And here I thought that economists were all about efficiency!!!

I guess industry talking points override efficiency!!!

anne , July 23, 2019 at 04:13 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/18/opinion/2020-trump-economy.html

July 18, 2019

Deficit Man and the 2020 Election
The Trump bump probably peaked too early.
By Paul Krugman

I've seen a number of people suggest that the 2020 election will be a sort of test: Can a sufficiently terrible president lose an election despite a good economy? And that is, in fact, the test we'd be running if the election were tomorrow.

On one side, Donald Trump wastes no opportunity to remind us how awful he is. His latest foray into overt racism delights his base but repels everyone else. On the other side, he presides over an economy in which unemployment is very low and real G.D.P. grew 3.2 percent over the past year.

But the election won't be tomorrow, it will be an exhausting 15 months from now. Trump's character won't change, except possibly for the worse. But the economy might look significantly different.

So let's talk about the Trump economy.

The first thing you need to know is that the Trump tax cut caused a huge rise in the budget deficit, which the administration expects to hit $1 trillion this year, up from less than $600 billion in 2016. This tidal wave of red ink is even more extraordinary than it looks, because it has taken place despite falling unemployment, which usually leads to a falling deficit.

Strange to say, none of the Republicans who warned of a debt apocalypse under President Barack Obama have protested the Trump deficits. (Should we put Paul Ryan's face on milk cartons?) For that matter, even the centrists who obsessed over federal debt during the Obama years have been pretty quiet. Clearly, deficits only matter when there's a Democrat in the White House.

Oh, and the imminent fiscal crisis people like Erskine Bowles used to warn about keeps not happening: Long-term interest rates remain very low.

Now, the evidence on the effects of deficit spending is clear: It gives the economy a short-run boost, even when we're already close to full employment. If anything, the growth bump under Trump has been smaller than you might have expected given the deficit surge, perhaps because the tax cut was so badly designed, perhaps because Trump's trade wars have deterred business spending.

For now, however, Deficit Man is beating Tariff Man. As I said, we've seen good growth over the past year.

But the tax cut was supposed to be more than a short-run Keynesian stimulus. It was sold as something that would greatly improve the economy's long-run performance; in particular, lower corporate tax rates were supposed to lead to a huge boom in business investment that would, among other things, lead to sharply higher wages. And this big rise in long-run growth would supposedly create a boom in tax revenues, offsetting the upfront cost of tax cuts.

None of this is happening. Corporations are getting to keep a lot more of their profits, but they've been using the money to buy back their own stock, not raise investment. Wages are rising, but not at an extraordinary pace, and many Americans don't feel that they're sharing in the benefits of a growing economy.

And this is probably as good as it gets.

I'm not forecasting a recession. It could happen, and we're very badly positioned to respond if it does, but the more likely story is just a slowdown as the effects of the deficit splurge wear off. In fact, if you believe the "nowcasters" (economists who try to get an early read on the economy from partial data), that slowdown is already happening. For example, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York believes that the economy's growth was down to 1.5 percent in the second quarter.

And it's hard to see where another economic bump can come from. With Democrats controlling the House, there won't be another big tax cut. The Fed may cut interest rates, but those cuts are already priced into long-term interest rates, which are what matter for spending, and the economy seems to be slowing anyway.

Which brings us back to the 2020 election.

Political scientists have carried out many studies of the electoral impact of the economy, and as far as I know they all agree that what matters is the trend, not the level. The unemployment rate was still over 7 percent when Ronald Reagan won his 1984 landslide; it was 7.7 percent when Obama won in 2012. In both cases, however, things were clearly getting better.

That's probably not going to be the story next year. If we don't have a recession, unemployment will still be low. But economic growth will probably be meh at best -- which means, if past experience is any guide, that the economy won't give Trump much of a boost, that it will be more or less a neutral factor.

And on the other hand, Trump's awfulness will remain.

Republicans will, of course, portray the Democratic nominee -- whoever she or he may be -- as a radical socialist poised to throw the border open to hordes of brown-skinned rapists. And one has to admit that this strategy might work, although it failed last year in the midterms. To be honest, I'm more worried about the effects of sexism if the nominee is a woman -- not just the sexism of voters, but that of the news media, which still holds women to different standards.

But as far as the economy goes, the odds are that Trump's deficit-fueled bump came too soon to do him much political good.

ilsm -> anne... , July 23, 2019 at 04:21 AM
There remains time for democrats to preside over a new debt ceiling crisis...... anything to oust Trump!

Cover will be provided by the, 30 months too long, Mueller circus.

Christopher H. said in reply to anne... , July 23, 2019 at 09:12 AM
Krugman was predicting overheating in 2016. It would be nice if he admitted when he was wrong.

He's very dismissive of monetary policy and the Fed here. Maybe the Fed has been overly tight?

Maybe Trump's jawboning on the Fed pushed it to stop tightening?

You won't get honest objective answers from Krugman. He's much like the Republicans who are always lying.

mulp -> Christopher H.... , July 24, 2019 at 06:48 AM
Right, zero inflation, just housing prices going up 10% per year.

Hey, you are getting richer as the house you can't buy because your savings and income isn't rising faster than 10% per year so you can finally go into debt and then do cash out refis so you have a constant 80% debt in rising "wealth".

Constantly increasing debt on constantly incressing "wealth" is not inflation.

Just keep saying "there is no inflation, just higher living costs".

Christopher H. said in reply to mulp ... , July 24, 2019 at 08:15 AM
asset appreciation isn't *inflation*

inflation is all prices going up like in the 1970s.

This is why I skip your comments

kurt -> mulp ... , July 25, 2019 at 04:12 PM
You are correct in that housing should be included in CPI. It is now most families biggest cost and housing insecurity is a thing.
Christopher H. said in reply to kurt... , July 27, 2019 at 10:00 AM
Dean Baker disagrees with you and I'd take his opinion over yours and mulps any time of the day. He called the housing bubble.

My guess is that you have no idea but just wanted to try to troll me.

http://cepr.net/images/stories/reports/inflation-housing-2018-06.pdf

Measuring the Inflation Rate:
Is Housing Different?

anne , July 23, 2019 at 04:20 AM
http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/the-aging-crisis-is-actually-just-a-labor-crisis-for-the-wealthy

July 22, 2019

The "Aging Crisis" Is Actually Just a Labor Crisis for the Wealthy
By Dean Baker

The New York Times told us * last week that China is running out of people. That might seem an odd concern for a country with a population of more than 1.4 billion, but you can read it for yourself:

"Driving this regression in women's status is a looming aging crisis, and the relaxing of the draconian 'one-child' birth restrictions that contributed to the graying population. The Communist Party now wants to try to stimulate a baby boom."

What exactly is supposed to be China's "aging crisis?" China has had a low birth rate for the last four decades, as the government consciously tried to slow the country's population growth. As a result, it does have an aging population and a declining ratio of workers to retirees, but this raises the obvious question, "So what?"

We see endless news articles and columns implying that the prospect of a declining number of workers supporting a growing population of retirees is some sort of crisis. The people making such assertions really need some knowledge of demographics.

The United States and other wealthy countries have been seeing drops in the ratio of workers to retirees for many decades. In the U.S. case, we went from having 5.1 workers for every Social Security retiree in 1960 to just 2.8 workers for each retiree today.

We pay higher taxes for Social Security and Medicare today than we did in 1960 (Medicare did not yet exist), but few would say that current tax rates are a crisis. If China has to see equivalent increases in taxes in the next decade or two to support its retirees, it is hard to see it as a major problem.

Reporters and media commentators like to report on taxes as the biggest concern for working people, but as economists like to point out, the main factor determining living standards is what goes into workers' paychecks, not what the government takes out in taxes.

The Social Security payroll tax rose by 6.4 percentage points between 1960 and 1990. The Medicare tax rose by 2.95 percentage points, for a total increase in federal payroll taxes of 9.35 percentage points.

In spite of this large increase in payroll taxes over this period, workers enjoyed considerably higher after-tax wages in 1990 than in 1960. This was true because real wages rose, especially in the first part of this period (1960 to 1973), when real wages for the typical worker rose at a 2.2 percent annual rate.

The story is even more dramatic in China. Real wages have risen just over 7.0 percent annually over the last decade. Suppose wage growth slows to 5.0 percent over the next two decades. Suppose the country has to raise taxes on workers by 20 percentage points over this period to cover the cost of its aging population. In that case, after taxes, wages would still be more than twice as high as they are today. What is the problem?

The basic story is that if an economy maintains a healthy rate of productivity growth, which allows for healthy real wage growth, then the demographic changes are a relatively small matter. This doesn't mean that society will not face some problems in adjusting for the needs of an aging population ― the U.S. faced many problems associated with the care and education of the Baby Boomers when we were children ― but these problems are far from insoluble.

If simple arithmetic shows that the people shortage story is nonsense, then why does it continually appear in the media? The most obvious explanation is that the concerns over a smaller workforce fall into the well-known "it's hard to get good help" problem.

This is the standard refrain of rich people, employers and major media outlets. A smaller labor market could present employers with a world where workers have more bargaining power and can therefore demand wage increases that are equal to, possibly even greater than, the rate of productivity growth.

As workers move from lower-paying to higher-paying ― and therefore higher productivity ― jobs, it will be harder to get people to work at many of the lowest-paying jobs, such as domestic workers, valets in restaurants, and other jobs that primarily involve providing services to the wealthy.

That probably does look like a crisis to a small segment of the population. The wealthy may really have some cause to be concerned about the prospect of a declining population and workforce. The rest of us, not so much.

* https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/16/world/asia/china-women-discrimination.html

mulp -> anne... , July 24, 2019 at 06:57 AM
The workers in fast food serve primarily the wealthy???

The workers in dollar stores serve primarily the wealthy?

The workers serving the wealthy are primarily middle class, whether food service, retail, child care, etc.

The problem for China is providing opportunity for the young entrepreneurs. Without an abundant eager labor force, the old established businesses will dominate and slow change. Thhey won't be challenged to do better.

Joe , July 23, 2019 at 04:31 AM
Modern money theory and its challenges - VoxEU
---------

Some misperceptions.

MMT is not modern, it is standard generational practice.
Given the nearly unlimited history of humans doing MMT some rules have emerged:
1) MMTs generally last anywhere from three days to three months.
2) The exception to rule 1 is war time where MMT hangs around with price controls.
3) We have a legal issue. This is the first time we have done a good old MMT using double accounting money, we usually do it by repricing gold or exiting the gold market.

I am not sure we have the brains in DC to pull this off without a nightmare result, due to MMT becoming a tribal slogan with no real definition attached.

im1dc , July 23, 2019 at 04:52 AM
The 'Bond Market' agrees with S. Warren, to a point...

S. Warren does not have a friend in Bond World yet they agree...interesting

https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/454198-the-bond-market-agrees-with-elizabeth-warren-up-to-a-point

"The bond market agrees with Elizabeth Warren, up to a point"

By Desmond Lachman, Opinion Contributor...07/23/19...07:30 AM EDT

'The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill'

"Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is not known for her enthusiasm for the financial markets in general and for the bond market in particular. But there seems to be one important point on which Warren and the world's bond markets currently agree: both the U.S. and the rest of the world could soon be heading for a nasty economic recession.

In a recent article, Warren warned that the odds of another economic downturn were high and growing. In her view, this is due to the precarious state of our economy, which is built on an excessive amount of household and corporate debt. That makes the U.S. economy particularly vulnerable to a number of serious shocks that she now sees on the horizon and that she thinks "could cause our economy's shaky foundation to crumble."

By its nature, the bond market does not spell out the reasons why it prices bonds in any particular manner. But we can infer the bond market's economic outlook from market bond prices.

One indication that the government bond markets now seem to be sharing Warren's gloomy economic prognosis is the fact that long-term U.S. Treasury bond rates have declined to significantly below the Federal Reserve's short-term policy rate. This so-called yield curve inversion implies that the U.S. Treasury bond market is expecting that the U.S. economy will soon go into a recession that will keep interest rates low for a long time.

A more dramatic indication of sovereign bond market pessimism is the fact that a record US$13 trillion of global sovereign bonds, and around one half of all European sovereign bonds, now offer negative interest rates."...

RC (Ron) Weakley , July 23, 2019 at 04:54 AM
RE: Acknowledging and pricing macroeconomic uncertainties

Lars Peter Hansen, Thomas Sargent 22 July 2019


False pretences of knowledge about complicated economic situations have become all too common in public policy debates. While we do know some things, we don't know everything. We believe that prudent decision-making should acknowledge what we don't know. Decision makers should strive to quantify dimensions of their ignorance and adjust their decisions accordingly. This essay describes a tractable approach for acknowledging, characterizing, and responding to the limited understandings discovered by researchers' efforts to interpret existing evidence by using theories and statistical methods available at any particular moment.

An economic model tells how chance, occurrences, and purposeful decisions influence future outcomes. Economic researchers use formal statistical models to describe and interpret data and to formulate policy advice for government and private decision makers. Whether they acknowledge it explicitly or not, real world decision makers also use models or 'views' about how their decisions affect future outcomes. Because they ignore some forces and oversimplify others, all models are just approximations to reality, some better than others depending on the purposes to which they are put. Furthermore, at any time, we can choose among multiple models and are unsure how much credibility to assign to each of them.

Data can surely help us assess the credibility of alternative models, but the real world is so complicated and data are so limited that data can only tell us so much. Therefore, economic modellers and decision makers require ways to express their opinions about the plausibility and usefulness of alternative models for the problem at hand. Because data are only partially informative about a model's plausibility, a decision-maker's purpose as well as his or her 'subjective beliefs' play important roles too. The more complex the situation, the bigger the challenge of confronting uncertainty.

Economists and other scholars have created theoretical foundations for uncertainty. For instance, both John Maynard Keynes (1921) and Frank Knight (1921) wrote on the subject, but mostly in literary ways that are challenging to interpret and to make operational so that they can be applied in quantitative work. The eminent statistician Abraham Wald (1950) introduced a theoretic framework for making decisions under uncertainty. Leonard J. Savage (1954) constructed a complete axiomatic approach to Bayesian decision theory by including subjective probabilities that are entirely in the mind of a decision maker. Itzhak Gilboa and David Schmeidler (1989) extended this approach in ways that acknowledged that a decision maker might not have a unique subjective probability distribution. Recent research in control theory and in dynamic decision theory provides useful practical tools for assessing and coping with various sources of uncertainty. We have worked on these topics for a number of years. Along with others, we have used mathematics and statistics to construct operational quantitative tools that shed light on how financial markets and the macroeconomy work and how alternative fiscal and monetary policies affect them.

In a recent paper (Hansen and Sargent 2019), we propose ways to categorise and respond to the multiple forms of uncertainty that confront decision makers and model builders. Thus, we distinguish among (1) uncertainty within a model; (2) uncertainty across a set of available known models; and (3) uncertainty about each model. We refer to (1) as risk – uncertainty about future outcomes that is described by a single known probability distribution. (This is the type of uncertainty assumed up until now in most work in theoretical and applied finance and macroeconomics.) We call uncertainty of type (2) ambiguity and represent it as being unsure about what weights or probabilities to attach to the available models. We call (3) model misspecification and represent it by surrounding each available model with a vast cloud statistical models with unknown forms that nevertheless fit the available data nearly as well as does an available model.

The models that we economists build and use are highly stylised

*

[These guys both need a new stylist.

Just how certain can they be about uncertainty? If uncertainty were quantifiable then how uncertain would it be? Uncertainty is a lot more than just confidence intervals on statistical data sets. Operators and relationships among interdependent variables are often uncertain while data is just distributed within variance. The past may not be a reliable indicator of the future. I will take Keynes on uncertainty and stay out of the deep end of the pool.]

[Jul 30, 2019] Empires in decline tend to behave badly

Notable quotes:
"... Aggressive wars abroad pollute the domestic political discourse and breed hypernationalism, racism and xenophobia. The 18 or so years of war following the 9/11 attacks have seen this ostensible republic sink to new lows of behavior. ..."
Jul 30, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"Empires in decline tend to behave badly. Indeed, whether British, French or Russian, the twilight years of imperialism often brought brutal repression of subjects abroad, the suppression of civil liberties at home and general varieties of brutality toward foreigners, be they refugees or migrants.

Aggressive wars abroad pollute the domestic political discourse and breed hypernationalism, racism and xenophobia. The 18 or so years of war following the 9/11 attacks have seen this ostensible republic sink to new lows of behavior.

Aggressive wars of choice have ushered in rampant torture, atrocities in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition, drone assassinations, warrantless wiretapping, mass surveillance of the citizenry...

It's all connected. The empire -- all empires -- eventually come home."

Maj. Danny Sjursen, An American Tragedy: Empire at Home and Abroad

[Jul 30, 2019] The New Quincy Institute Seeks Warmongering Monsters to Destroy The American Conservative

Jul 30, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The New Quincy Institute Seeks Warmongering Monsters to Destroy Andrew Bacevich on his new left-right group, which is going hammer and tongs against the establishment on foreign policy. By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos July 30, 2019

Andrew J. Bacevich participates in a panel discussion at the U.S. Naval War College in 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christian S. Eskelund/Released) For the last month, the foreign policy establishment has been abuzz over the new kid on the block: the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft , named for John Quincy Adams. Adams, along with our first president George Washington, warned of foreign entanglements and the urge to go abroad in "search of monsters to destroy," lest America's fundamental policy "insensibly change from liberty to force . She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit ."

Those in the foreign policy Blob have had different reactions to the "upstart" think tank. These are the preeminent organizations that stand imperious in size and square footage, but have lacked greatly in wisdom and clarity over the last 20 years. Quincy will stand apart from them in two significant ways: it is drawing its intellectual and political firepower from both the anti-war Left and the realist and restraint Right. And it is poised to support a new "responsible statecraft," one that challenges the conditions of endless war, including persistent American militarism here and abroad, the military industrial complex, and a doctrine that worships primacy and a liberal world order over peace and the sovereignty of other nations.

Quincy, which is rolling out its statement of principles this week (its official launch will be in the fall), is the brainchild of Trita Parsi, former head of the National Iranian-American Council, who saw an opening to bring together Left and Right academics, activists, and media disenchanted by both sides' pro-war proclivities. Together with Vietnam veteran and former Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich (also a longtime TAC contributor), the Carnegie Endowment's Suzanne DiMaggio, Columbia University's Stephen Wertheim, and investigative journalist Eli Clifton, the group wants to serve as a counterweight to both liberal interventionists like the Brookings Institution and Council on Foreign Relations, and the war hawks and neoconservatives of the Heritage Foundation and Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

They've already taken hits from both sides of the establishment, dismissed brusquely as naive , or worse, isolationist (that swipe from neoconservative Bill Kristol, whose now-defunct Weekly Standard once ran a manifesto headlined "The Case for American Empire" ). The fact that Quincy will be funded by both George Soros on the Left and the Charles Koch Foundation on the Right has brought some rebuke from unfriendlies and even some friendlies. The former hate on one or the other powerful billionaire, while the latter are wary of Soros' intentions (he's has long been a financial supporter of "soft-power" democracy movements overseas, some of which have encouraged revolution and regime change).

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But Quincy's timing couldn't be more perfect. With a president in the White House who has promised to draw down U.S. involvement overseas (with the exception of his Iran policy, he has so far held to much of that pledge), and national conservatives coming around to TAC's long-held worldview on realism and restraint (and an increasing willingness to reach across the aisle to work with like-minded groups and individuals), Quincy appears poised to make some noise in Washington.

According to the group's new statement of principles , "responsible statecraft" 1) serves the public interest, 2) engages the world, 3) builds a peaceful world, 4) abhors war, and 5) is democratic.

Andrew Bacevich and Trita Parsi expanded on this further in a recent Q&A with TAC.

(Full disclosure: the author is on Quincy's steering committee and TAC also receives funding from the Charles Koch Foundation.)

TAC : Quincy's principles -- and thus it's name -- are rooted in the mission of "responsible statecraft." Can you give me a sense of what that means in practical terms, and why you settled on this phrasing for the institute?

AB: With the end of the Cold War, policy elites succumbed to an extraordinary bout of hubris, perhaps best expressed in the claim that history had designated the United States as its "indispensable nation." Hubris bred recklessness and irresponsibility, with the Iraq war of 2003 as Exhibit A. We see "responsible statecraft" as the necessary antidote. Its abiding qualities are realism, restraint, prudence, and vigorous engagement. While the QI is not anti-military, we are wary of war except when all other alternatives have been exhausted. We are acutely conscious of war's tendency to produce unintended consequences and to exact unexpectedly high costs.

TAC : Quincy is a trans-partisan effort that is bringing together Left and Right for common cause. Is it a challenge?

AB: It seems apparent to us that the myriad foreign policy failures and disappointments of the past couple of decades have induced among both progressives and at least some conservatives a growing disenchantment with the trajectory of U.S. policy. Out of that disenchantment comes the potential for a Left-Right coalition to challenge the status quo. The QI hopes to build on that potential.

TAC : Two of the principles take direct aim at the current foreign policy status quo: responsible statecraft abhors war, and responsible statecraft is democratic (calling out a closed system in which Americans have had little input into the wars waged in their names). How much of what Quincy aims to do involves upending conventional norms, particularly those bred and defended by the Washington "Blob"?

AB: In a fundamental sense, the purpose of the QI is to educate the American people and their leaders regarding the Blob's shortcomings, exposing the deficiencies of old ideas and proposing new ones to take their place.

TAC: That said, how much blowback do you anticipate from the Washington establishment, particularly those think tanks and individuals whose careers and very existence depend on the wheels of militarism forever turning?

AB : Plenty. Proponents of the status quo are entrenched and well-funded. Breaking old habits -- for example, the practice of scattering U.S. military bases around the world -- will not come easily.

TAC : There has been much ado about your two primary funders -- Charles Koch and George Soros. What do you say to critics who suggest you will be tied to/limited by their agendas?

AB: Our funding sources are not confined to Koch and Soros and we will continue to broaden our support base. It's not for me to speak for Koch or Soros. But my guess is they decided to support the QI because they support our principles. They too believe in policies based on realism, restraint, prudence, and vigorous engagement.

TAC : Better yet, how did you convince these two men to fund something together?

TP: It is important to recognize that they have collaborated in the past before, for instance on criminal justice reform. This is, however, the first time they've come together to be founding funders of a new entity. I cannot speak for them, but I think they both recognize that there currently is a conceptual deficit in our foreign policy. U.S. elite consensus on foreign policy has collapsed and the void that has been created begs to be filled. But it has to be filled with new ideas, not just a repackaging of old ideas. And those new ideas cannot simply follow the old political alignments. Transpartisan collaboration is necessary in order to create a new consensus. Koch and Soros are showing tremendous leadership in that regard.

TAC : The last refuge of a scorned hawk is to call his critics "isolationist." It would seem as though your statement of principles takes this on directly. How else does Quincy take this often-used invective into account?

AB : We will demonstrate through our own actions that the charge is false.

TAC : Critics (including James Traub, in his own piece on Quincy ) say that Washington leaders, once in office, are "mugged by reality," suggesting that the idea of rolling back military interventions and avoiding others sounds good on paper but presidents like Barack Obama had no choice, that this is all about protecting interests and hard-nosed realism. The alternative is a bit naive. How do you respond?

AB: Choices are available if our leaders have the creativity to recognize them and the gumption to pursue them. Obama's patient and resolute pursuit of the Iran nuclear deal affirms this possibility. The QI will expose the "we have no choice" argument as false. We will identify and promote choice, thereby freeing U.S. policy from outmoded habits and stale routines.

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is e xecutive editor at . Follow her on Twitter @Vlahos_at_TAC

[Jul 28, 2019] Antisemitism prejudices projection on Russians

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "You have no evidence for the so-called Russian IO. It is a fabrication." In fact, Putin rejects the claim many times publicly saying that Russia does not meddle in foreign elections as a matter of policy. Maybe I'm gullible, but I find his disclaimer pretty convincing.... ..."
"... Is there an unseen connection between the Democrat leadership and the Intel agencies??? And --if there is-- does that mean we are headed for a one-party system??? ..."
"... The Russians trying to rig the elections meme was a fallback for the failure of the “trump is a russianstooge" meme. ..."
Jul 28, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Andrei Martyanov (aka SmoothieX12) -> catherine... , 27 July 2019 at 11:30 PM
Here are some insights into the minds of many movers and shakers in Russiagate:

Key US officials behind the Russia investigation have made no secret of their animus towards Russia.

"I do always hate the Russians," Lisa Page, a senior FBI lawyer on the Russia probe, testified to Congress in July 2018. "It is my opinion that with respect to Western ideals and who it is and what it is we stand for as Americans, Russia poses the most dangerous threat to that way of life."

As he opened the FBI's probe of the Trump campaign's ties to Russians in July 2016, FBI agent Peter Strzok texted Page: "fuck the cheating motherfucking Russians Bastards. I hate them I think they're probably the worst. Fucking conniving cheating savages."

Speaking to NBC News in May 2017, former director of national intelligence James Clapper explained why US officials saw interactions between the Trump camp and Russian nationals as a cause for alarm: "The Russians," Clapper said, "almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique. So we were concerned."

In a May interview with Lawfare, former FBI general counsel Jim Baker, who helped oversee the Russia probe, explained the origins of the investigation as follows: "It was about Russia, period, full stop. When the [George] Papadopoulos information comes across our radar screen, it's coming across in the sense that we were always looking at Russia. we've been thinking about Russia as a threat actor for decades and decades."

https://www.thenation.com/article/questions-mueller-russiagate/

It was always about Russians no matter what they do or don't do. Large strata of US so called "elite" is obsessed with Russia. Not even China.

plantman , 27 July 2019 at 12:55 PM

I believe Larry Johnson is right when he says:

"You have no evidence for the so-called Russian IO. It is a fabrication." In fact, Putin rejects the claim many times publicly saying that Russia does not meddle in foreign elections as a matter of policy. Maybe I'm gullible, but I find his disclaimer pretty convincing....

My question for Larry Johnson requires some speculation on his part: How did the claims of "Russia meddling" which began with the DNC and Hillary campaign, take root at the FBI, CIA and NSA???

Is there an unseen connection between the Democrat leadership and the Intel agencies??? And --if there is-- does that mean we are headed for a one-party system???

Walrus , 27 July 2019 at 12:55 PM
The Russians trying to rig the elections meme was a fallback for the failure of the “trump is a russianstooge" meme.

[Jul 27, 2019] The Tyranny Of The Police-State Disguised As Law-And-Order

Jul 27, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America's expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $15 billion a month (or $20 million an hour) -- and that's just what the government spends on foreign wars. The U.S. military empire's determination to police the rest of the world has resulted in more than 1.3 million U.S. troops being stationed at roughly 1000 military bases in over 150 countries around the world. That doesn't include the number of private contractors pulling in hefty salaries at taxpayer expense. In Afghanistan, for example, private contractors outnumber U.S. troops three to one .

No matter how we might differ about the role of the U.S. military in foreign affairs, surely we can agree that America's war spending and commitment to policing the rest of the world are bankrupting the nation and spreading our troops dangerously thin.

All of the imperial powers amassed by Barack Obama and George W. Bush -- to kill American citizens without due process, to detain suspects indefinitely, to strip Americans of their citizenship rights, to carry out mass surveillance on Americans without probable cause, to suspend laws during wartime, to disregard laws with which they might disagree, to conduct secret wars and convene secret courts, to sanction torture, to sidestep the legislatures and courts with executive orders and signing statements, to direct the military to operate beyond the reach of the law, to operate a shadow government, and to act as a dictator and a tyrant, above the law and beyond any real accountability -- were inherited by Donald Trump. These presidential powers -- acquired through the use of executive orders, decrees, memorandums, proclamations, national security directives and legislative signing statements and which can be activated by any sitting president -- enable past, president and future presidents to operate above the law and beyond the reach of the Constitution.

Yet no matter how we might differ about how success or failure of past or present presidential administrations, surely we can agree that the president should not be empowered to act as an imperial dictator with permanent powers.

Increasingly, at home, we're facing an unbelievable show of force by government agents. For example, with alarming regularity , unarmed men, women, children and even pets are being gunned down by twitchy, hyper-sensitive, easily-spooked police officers who shoot first and ask questions later, and all the government does is shrug and promise to do better. Just recently, in fact, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals cleared a cop who aimed for a family's dog (who showed no signs of aggression), missed, and instead shot a 10-year-old lying on the ground . Indeed, there are countless incidents that happen every day in which Americans are shot, stripped, searched, choked, beaten and tasered by police for little more than daring to frown, smile, question, or challenge an order. Growing numbers of unarmed people are being shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something -- anything -- that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer's mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

No matter how we might differ about where to draw that blue line of allegiance to the police state, surely we can agree that police shouldn't go around terrorizing and shooting innocent, unarmed children and adults or be absolved of wrongdoing for doing so .

Nor can we turn a blind eye to the transformation of America's penal system from one aimed at protecting society from dangerous criminals to a profit-driven system that dehumanizes and strips prisoners of every vestige of their humanity. For example, in Illinois, as part of a "training exercise" for incoming cadets, prison guards armed with batons and shields rounded up 200 handcuffed female inmates, marched them to the gymnasium, then forced them to strip naked (including removing their tampons and pads), " bend over and spread open their vaginal and anal cavities ," while male prison guards promenaded past or stood staring. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the entire dehumanizing, demoralizing mass body cavity strip search -- orchestrated not for security purposes but as an exercise in humiliation -- was legal. Be warned, however: this treatment will not be limited to those behind bars. In our present carceral state, there is no difference between the treatment meted out to a law-abiding citizen and a convicted felon: both are equally suspect and treated as criminals, without any of the special rights and privileges reserved for the governing elite. In a carceral state, there are only two kinds of people: the prisoners and the prison guards.

No matter how we might differ about where to draw the line when it comes to prisoners' rights, surely we can agree that no one -- woman, man or child -- should be subjected to such degrading treatment in the name of law and order .

In Washington, DC, in contravention of longstanding laws that restrict the government's ability to deploy the military on American soil, the Pentagon has embarked on a secret mission of "undetermined duration" that involves flying Black Hawk helicopters over the nation's capital , backed by active-duty and reserve soldiers. In addition to the increasing militarization of the police -- a de facto standing army -- this military exercise further acclimates the nation to the sight and sounds of military personnel on American soil and the imposition of martial law.

No matter how we might differ about the deference due to those in uniform, whether military or law enforcement, surely we can agree that America's Founders had good reason to warn against the menace of a national police force -- a.k.a. a standing army -- vested with the power to completely disregard the Constitution.

We labor today under the weight of countless tyrannies, large and small, disguised as "the better good," marketed as benevolence, enforced with armed police, and carried out by an elite class of government officials who are largely insulated from the ill effects of their actions. For example, in Pennsylvania, a school district is threatening to place children in foster care if parents don't pay their overdue school lunch bills . In Florida, a resident was fined $100,000 for a dirty swimming pool and overgrown grass at a house she no longer owned. In Kentucky, government bureaucrats sent a cease-and-desist letter to a church ministry, warning that the group is breaking the law by handing out free used eyeglasses to the homeless . These petty tyrannies inflicted on an overtaxed, overregulated, and underrepresented populace are what happens when bureaucrats run the show, and the rule of law becomes little more than a cattle prod for forcing the citizenry to march in lockstep with the government.

No matter how we might differ about the extent to which the government has the final say in how it flexes it power and exerts its authority, surely we can agree that the tyranny of the Nanny State -- disguised as "the better good," marketed as benevolence, enforced with armed police, and inflicted on all those who do not belong to the elite ruling class that gets to call the shots -- should not be allowed to pave over the Constitution.

At its core, this is not a debate about politics, or constitutionalism, or even tyranny disguised as law-and-order. This is a condemnation of the monsters with human faces that have infiltrated our government.

For too long now, the American people have rationalized turning a blind eye to all manner of government wrongdoing -- asset forfeiture schemes, corruption, surveillance, endless wars, SWAT team raids, militarized police, profit-driven private prisons, and so on -- because they were the so-called lesser of two evils.

Yet the unavoidable truth is that the government has become almost indistinguishable from the evil it claims to be fighting, whether that evil takes the form of terrorism , torture, drug trafficking , sex trafficking , murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity.

No matter how you rationalize it, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

So how do you fight back?

How do you fight injustice? How do you push back against tyranny? How do you vanquish evil?

You don't fight it by hiding your head in the sand.

We have ignored the warning signs all around us for too long.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People , the government has ripped the Constitution to shreds and left us powerless in the face of its power grabs, greed and brutality.

What we are grappling with today is a government that is cutting great roads through the very foundations of freedom in order to get after its modern devils. Yet the government can only go as far as "we the people" allow.

Therein lies the problem.

The consequences of this failure to do our due diligence in asking the right questions, demanding satisfactory answers, and holding our government officials accountable to respecting our rights and abiding by the rule of law has pushed us to the brink of a nearly intolerable state of affairs.

Intolerable, at least, to those who remember what it was like to live in a place where freedom, due process and representative government actually meant something. Having allowed the government to expand and exceed our reach, we now find ourselves on the losing end of a tug-of-war over control of our country and our lives.

The hour grows late in terms of restoring the balance of power and reclaiming our freedoms, but it may not be too late. The time to act is now, using all methods of nonviolent resistance available to us.

"Don't sit around waiting for the two corrupted established parties to restore the Constitution or the Republic," Naomi Wolf once warned. Waiting and watching will get us nowhere fast.

If you're watching, you're not doing.

Easily mesmerized by the government's political theater -- the endless congressional hearings and investigations that go nowhere, the president's reality show antics, the warring factions, the electoral drama -- we have become a society of watchers rather than activists who are distracted by even the clumsiest government attempts at sleight-of-hand.

It's time for good men and women to do something. And soon.

Wake up and take a good, hard look around you. Start by recognizing evil and injustice and tyranny for what they are. Stop being apathetic. Stop being neutral. Stop being accomplices. Stop being distracted by the political theater staged by the Deep State: they want you watching the show while they manipulate things behind the scenes. Refuse to play politics with your principles. Don't settle for the lesser of two evils.

As British statesman Edmund Burke warned, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing."


SgtShaftoe , 13 hours ago link

With all respect John, The constitution allows the president to deploy soldiers on US soil (bypassing Posse Comitatus) during limited times of insurgency, foreign invasion, war. Everything is in order at the moment. The treasonous companies and actors will be brought to justice. The pedos, and the corrupt Intelligence apparatus is the target.

-- ALIEN -- , 14 hours ago link

The Energy Return on Energy Invested of OIL is falling, hence the debt to pretend everything is still normal.

The rising police state is to control the Sheeple as we become much poorer.

Schooey , 14 hours ago link

Sadly, this (the police state) is one issue that I think Trump has no clue about. Why would he? Somebody needs to get in his ear on this issue.

At the same time lawlessness, driven by the media (purposefully), increases. And increases the need for policing. The game is so ******* obvious. Stop the (((media))) and half the problem is solved.

hoytmonger , 13 hours ago link

Trump is an authoritarian, he prefers the police state and would rather it be more like Israel.

"Take the firearms first, and then go to court... I like taking the guns early."

Schooey , 14 hours ago link

"The national debt is the result of the federal government borrowing money to cover years and years of budget deficits." Right now, the U.S. government is operating in the negative on every front: it's spending far more than what it makes (and takes from the American taxpayers) and it is borrowing heavily ( from foreign governments and Social Security ) to keep the government operating and keep funding its endless wars abroad ." Trillions.

jutah , 14 hours ago link

Since religious zealots are the root cause for the rise of fascism and totalitarian communism- which are reactions from the oppressions of religious authorities supported by secret societies, it is necessary that they must fall and be broken before any real meaningful change can take place. I will defend the right to free speech and the 2nd to my last breath, but when they come to burn down your houses of worship and throw you in the ovens again, we will continue to do nothing. Just as good people did before. We will be your pawns no longer, we're not doing your dirty work anymore. We will not continue to be your slaves that you exploit for your twisted beliefs. History will repeat itself and you will burn and we will watch. This needs to happen before the world has a chance to try again. But the real damage to you zionists will be the spreading of the truth. As enough people finally understand that you offer nothing but the dark con of man and reject your lies and oppression whole heartedly

Commodore 1488 , 14 hours ago link

Our leaders are in Israel, and they don't care how bad it collapses here. They will have us worse than Detroit and laugh.

HyperboreanWind , 14 hours ago link

The Promised Land For Organized Crime

https://archive.org/details/youtube-TB2nM9SI7EU

https://archive.org/details/youtube-tZOfDE2Y4lE

[Jul 22, 2019] War Profiteers And The Demise Of The US Military-Industrial Complex

Jul 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Dmitry Orlov via Club Orlov blog,

Within the vast bureaucratic sprawl of the Pentagon there is a group in charge of monitoring the general state of the military-industrial complex and its continued ability to fulfill the requirements of the national defense strategy. Office for acquisition and sustainment and office for industrial policy spends some $100,000 a year producing an Annual Report to Congress. It is available to the general public. It is even available to the general public in Russia, and Russian experts had a really good time poring over it.

In fact, it filled them with optimism. You see, Russia wants peace but the US seems to want war and keeps making threatening gestures against a longish list of countries that refuse to do its bidding or simply don't share its "universal values." But now it turns out that threats (and the increasingly toothless economic sanctions) are pretty much all that the US is still capable of dishing out -- this in spite of absolutely astronomical levels of defense spending.

Let's see what the US military-industrial complex looks like through a Russian lens.

It is important to note that the report's authors were not aiming to force legislators to finance some specific project. This makes it more valuable than numerous other sources, whose authors' main objective was to belly up to the federal feeding trough, and which therefore tend to be light on facts and heavy on hype. No doubt, politics still played a part in how various details are portrayed, but there seems to be a limit to the number of problems its authors can airbrush out of the picture and still do a reasonable job in analyzing the situation and in formulating their recommendations.

What knocked Russian analysis over with a feather is the fact that these INDPOL experts (who, like the rest of the US DOD, love acronyms) evaluate the US military-industrial complex from a market-based perspective! You see, the Russian military-industrial complex is fully owned by the Russian government and works exclusively in its interests; anything else would be considered treason. But the US military-industrial complex is evaluated based on its profitability! According to INDPOL, it must not only produce products for the military but also acquire market share in the global weapons trade and, perhaps most importantly, maximize profitability for private investors. By this standard, it is doing well: for 2017 the gross margin (EBITDA) for US defense contractors ranged from 15 to 17%, and some subcontractors - Transdigm, for example - managed to deliver no less than 42-45%. "Ah!" cry the Russian experts, "We've found the problem! The Americans have legalized war profiteering !" (This, by the way, is but one of many instances of something called systemic corruption, which is rife in the US.)

It would be one thing if each defense contractor simply took its cut off the top, but instead there is an entire food chain of defense contractors, all of which are legally required, no less, to maximize profits for their shareholders. More than 28,000 companies are involved, but the actual first-tier defense contractors with which the Pentagon places 2/3 of all defense contracts are just the Big Six: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynmics, BAE Systems and Boeing. All the other companies are organized into a pyramid of subcontractors with five levels of hierarchy, and at each level they do their best to milk the tier above them.

The insistence on market-based methods and the requirement of maximizing profitability turns out to be incompatible with defense spending on a very basic level: defense spending is intermittent and cyclical, with long fallow intervals between major orders. This has forced even the Big Six to make cuts to their defense-directed departments in favor of expanding civilian production. Also, in spite of the huge size of the US defense budget, it is of finite size (there being just one planet to blow up), as is the global weapons market. Since, in a market economy, every company faces the choice of grow or get bought out, this has precipitated scores of mergers and acquisitions, resulting in a highly consolidated marketplace with a few major players in each space.

As a result, in most spaces, of which the report's authors discuss 17, including the Navy, land forces, air force, electronics, nuclear weapons, space technology and so on, at least a third of the time the Pentagon has a choice of exactly one contractor for any given contract, causing quality and timeliness to suffer and driving up prices.

In a number of cases, in spite of its industrial and financial might, the Pentagon has encountered insoluble problems. Specifically, it turns out that the US has only one shipyard left that is capable of building nuclear aircraft carriers (at all, that is; the USS Gerald Ford is not exactly a success). That is Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport, Virginia. In theory, it could work on three ships in parallel, but two of the slips are permanently occupied by existing aircraft carriers that require maintenance. This is not a unique case: the number of shipyards capable of building nuclear submarines, destroyers and other types of vessels is also exactly one. Thus, in case of a protracted conflict with a serious adversary in which a significant portion of the US Navy has been sunk, ships will be impossible to replace within any reasonable amount of time.

The situation is somewhat better with regard to aircraft manufacturing. The plants that exist can produce 40 planes a month and could produce 130 a month if pressed. On the other hand, the situation with tanks and artillery is absolutely dismal. According to this report, the US has completely lost the competency for building the new generation of tanks. It is no longer even a question of missing plant and equipment; in the US, a second generation of engineers who have never designed a tank is currently going into retirement. Their replacements have no one to learn from and only know about modern tanks from movies and video games. As far as artillery, there is just one remaining production line in the US that can produce barrels larger than 40mm; it is fully booked up and would be unable to ramp up production in case of war. The contractor is unwilling to expand production without the Pentagon guaranteeing at least 45% utilization, since that would be unprofitable.

The situation is similar for the entire list of areas; it is better for dual-use technologies that can be sourced from civilian companies and significantly worse for highly specialized ones. Unit cost for every type of military equipment goes up year after year while the volumes being acquired continuously trend lower -- sometimes all the way to zero. Over the past 15 years the US hasn't acquired a single new tank. They keep modernizing the old ones, but at a rate that's no higher than 100 a year.

Because of all these tendencies and trends, the defense industry continues to lose not only qualified personnel but also the very ability to perform the work. INDPOL experts estimate that the deficit in machine tools has reached 27%. Over the past quarter-century the US has stopped manufacturing a wide variety of manufacturing equipment. Only half of these tools can be imported from allies or friendly nations; for the rest, there is just one source: China. They analyzed the supply chains for 600 of the most important types of weapons and found that a third of them have breaks in them while another third have completely broken down. In the Pentagon's five-tier subcontractor pyramid, component manufacturers are almost always relegated to the bottommost tier, and the notices they issue when they terminate production or shut down completely tend to drown in the Pentagon's bureaucratic swamp.

The end result of all this is that theoretically the Pentagon is still capable of doing small production runs of weapons to compensate for ongoing losses in localized, low-intensity conflicts during a general time of peace, but even today this is at the extreme end of its capabilities. In case of a serious conflict with any well-armed nation, all it will be able to rely on is the existing stockpile of ordnance and spare parts, which will be quickly depleted.

A similar situation prevails in the area of rare earth elements and other materials for producing electronics. At the moment, the accumulated stockpile of these supplies needed for producing missiles and space technology -- most importantly, satellites -- is sufficient for five years at the current rate of use.

The report specifically calls out the dire situation in the area of strategic nuclear weapons. Almost all the technology for communications, targeting, trajectory calculations and arming of the ICBM warheads was developed in the 1960s and 70s. To this day, data is loaded from 5-inch floppy diskettes, which were last mass-produced 15 years ago. There are no replacements for them and the people who designed them are busy pushing up daisies. The choice is between buying tiny production runs of all the consumables at an extravagant expense and developing from scratch the entire land-based strategic triad component at the cost of three annual Pentagon budgets.

There are lots of specific problems in each area described in the report, but the main one is loss of competence among technical and engineering staff caused by a low level of orders for replacements or for new product development. The situation is such that promising new theoretical developments coming out of research centers such as DARPA cannot be realized given the present set of technical competencies. For a number of key specializations there are fewer than three dozen trained, experienced specialists.

This situation is expected to continue to deteriorate, with the number of personnel employed in the defense sector declining 11-16% over the next decade, mainly due to a shortage of young candidates qualified to replace those who are retiring. A specific example: development work on the F-35 is nearing completion and there won't be a need to develop a new jet fighter until 2035-2040; in the meantime, the personnel who were involved in its development will be idled and their level of competence will deteriorate.

Although at the moment the US still leads the world in defense spending ($610 billion of $1.7 trillion in 2017, which is roughly 36% of all the military spending on the planet) the US economy is no longer able to support the entire technology pyramid even in a time of relative peace and prosperity. On paper the US still looks like a leader in military technology, but the foundations of its military supremacy have eroded. Results of this are plainly visible:

All of this points to the fact that the US is no longer much a military power at all. This is good news for at least the following four reasons.

First, the US is by far the most belligerent country on Earth, having invaded scores of nations and continuing to occupy many of them. The fact that it can't fight any more means that opportunities for peace are bound to increase.

Second, once the news sinks in that the Pentagon is nothing more than a flush toilet for public funds its funding will be cut off and the population of the US might see the money that is currently fattening up war profiteers being spent on some roads and bridges, although it's looking far more likely that it will all go into paying interest expense on federal debt (while supplies last).

Third, US politicians will lose the ability to keep the populace in a state of permanent anxiety about "national security." In fact, the US has "natural security" -- two oceans -- and doesn't need much national defense at all (provided it keeps to itself and doesn't try to make trouble for others). The Canadians aren't going to invade, and while the southern border does need some guarding, that can be taken care of at the state/county level by some good ol' boys using weapons and ammo they already happen to have on hand. Once this $1.7 trillion "national defense" monkey is off their backs, ordinary American citizens will be able to work less, play more and feel less aggressive, anxious, depressed and paranoid.

Last but not least, it will be wonderful to see the war profiteers reduced to scraping under sofa cushions for loose change. All that the US military has been able to produce for a long time now is misery, the technical term for which is "humanitarian disaster." Look at the aftermath of US military involvement in Serbia/Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, and what do you see? You see misery -- both for the locals and for US citizens who lost their family members, had their limbs blown off, or are now suffering from PTSD or brain injury. It would be only fair if that misery were to circle back to those who had profited from it.

Tags War Conflict

[Jul 21, 2019] Merchants of Death business uber alles" as the new interpretation of "Drain the Swamp" election time slogan by Trump administration

"Drain the swamp" now means good times for Raytheon.
Jul 21, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

rwe2late , 1 hour ago link

Draining the swamp means hiring the lobbyists

- Orwell

...err, I meant Trump.

War is Peace

- well, now that's Orwell

(and many others in government and elsewhere)

Klassenfeind , 2 hours ago link

The Donald Trump Administration is looking more and more like George W. Bush's Administration: a dumb clueless idiot surrounded by neocons.

Remember Donald Rumsfeld , Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice, John Bolton , George Tenet, Henry Paulson, Paul Wolfowitz , and **** Cheney from the George W Bush Administration?

Tell me Trumptards, what's so "different this time" about Donald Trump hiring Bolton, Pompeo, Mattis/Shanahan/Esper, Haley, Haspel and Mnuchin?

[Jul 20, 2019] New US Pentagon Chief Vested Interest in War Conflict

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "President Trump's Cabinet is already rife with corruption, stocked full of former lobbyists and other private industry power players who don't seem to mind leveraging their government positions to enrich themselves personally. Esper should fit right in," ..."
"... The linkage between officials in US government, the Pentagon and private manufacturers is a notorious example of "revolving door". It is not unusual, or even remarkable, that individuals go from one sector to another and vice versa. That crony relationship is fundamental to the functioning of the "military-industrial complex" which dominates the entire American economy and the fiscal budget ($730 billion annually – half the total discretionary public spend by federal government). ..."
"... Raytheon is a $25 billion company whose business is all about selling missile-defense systems. Its products have been deployed in dozens of countries, including in the Middle East, as well as Japan, Romania and, as of next year, Poland. It is in Raytheon's vital vested interest to capitalize on alleged security threats from Iran, Russia, China and North Korea in order to sell "defense" systems to nations that then perceive a "threat" and need to be "protected". ..."
"... It is a certainty that Esper shares the same worldview, not just for engrained ideological reasons, but also because of his own personal motives for self-aggrandizement as a former employee of Raytheon and quite possibly as a future board member when he retires from the Pentagon. ..."
"... It is also about how US foreign policy and military decisions are formulated and executed, including decisions on matters of conflict and ultimately war. The insidiousness is almost farcical, if the implications weren't so disturbing, worthy of satire from the genre of Dr Strangelove or Catch 22. ..."
"... During senate hearings this week, Esper openly revealed his dubious quality of thinking and the kind of policies he will pursue as Pentagon chief. He told credulous senators that Russia was to blame for the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. That equates to more Raytheon profits from selling defense systems in Europe. ..."
"... It is ludicrous how blatant a so-called democratic nation (the self-declared "leader of the free world") is in actuality an oligarchic corporate state whose international relations are conducted on the basis of making obscene profits from conflict and war. ..."
Jul 20, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

Mark Esper is expected to be confirmed in coming days as the new US Secretary of Defense. His appointment is awaiting final Congressional approval after customary hearings this week before senators. The 55-year-old nominee put forward by President Trump was previously a decorated Lieutenant Colonel and has served in government office during the GW Bush administration.

But what stands out as his most conspicuous past occupation is working for seven years as a senior lobbyist for Raytheon, the US' third biggest military manufacturing company. The firm specializes in missile-defense systems, including the Patriot, Iron Dome and the Aegis Ashore system (the latter in partnership with Lockheed Martin).

As Defense Secretary, Esper will be the most senior civilian executive member of the US government, next to the president, on overseeing military policy, including decisions about declaring war and deployment of American armed forces around the globe. His military counterpart at the Pentagon is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, currently held by Marine General Joseph Dunford who is expected to be replaced soon by General Mark Milley (also in the process of senate hearings).

Esper's confirmation hearings this week were pretty much a rubber-stamp procedure, receiving lame questioning from senators about his credentials and viewpoints. The only exception was Senator Elizabeth Warren, who slammed the potential "conflict of interest" due to his past lobbying service for Raytheon. She said it "smacks of corruption". Other than her solitary objection, Esper was treated with kid gloves by other senators and his appointment is expected to be whistled through by next week. During hearings, the former lobbyist even pointedly refused to recuse himself of any matters involving Raytheon if he becomes the defense boss.

As Rolling Stone magazine quipped on Esper's nomination, "it is as swampy as you'd expect".

"President Trump's Cabinet is already rife with corruption, stocked full of former lobbyists and other private industry power players who don't seem to mind leveraging their government positions to enrich themselves personally. Esper should fit right in," wrote Rolling Stone.

The linkage between officials in US government, the Pentagon and private manufacturers is a notorious example of "revolving door". It is not unusual, or even remarkable, that individuals go from one sector to another and vice versa. That crony relationship is fundamental to the functioning of the "military-industrial complex" which dominates the entire American economy and the fiscal budget ($730 billion annually – half the total discretionary public spend by federal government).

Nevertheless, Esper is a particularly brazen embodiment of the revolving-door's seamless connection.

Raytheon is a $25 billion company whose business is all about selling missile-defense systems. Its products have been deployed in dozens of countries, including in the Middle East, as well as Japan, Romania and, as of next year, Poland. It is in Raytheon's vital vested interest to capitalize on alleged security threats from Iran, Russia, China and North Korea in order to sell "defense" systems to nations that then perceive a "threat" and need to be "protected".

It is a certainty that Esper shares the same worldview, not just for engrained ideological reasons, but also because of his own personal motives for self-aggrandizement as a former employee of Raytheon and quite possibly as a future board member when he retires from the Pentagon. The issue is not just merely about corruption and ethics, huge that those concerns are.

It is also about how US foreign policy and military decisions are formulated and executed, including decisions on matters of conflict and ultimately war. The insidiousness is almost farcical, if the implications weren't so disturbing, worthy of satire from the genre of Dr Strangelove or Catch 22.

How is Esper's advice to the president about tensions with Russia, Iran, China or North Korea, or any other alleged adversary, supposed to be independent, credible or objective? Esper is a de facto lobbyist for the military-industrial complex sitting in the Oval Office and Situation Room. Tensions, conflict and war are meat and potatoes to this person.

During senate hearings this week, Esper openly revealed his dubious quality of thinking and the kind of policies he will pursue as Pentagon chief. He told credulous senators that Russia was to blame for the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. That equates to more Raytheon profits from selling defense systems in Europe. Also, in a clumsy inadvertent admission he advised that the US needs to get out of the INF in order to develop medium-range missiles to "counter China". The latter admission explains the cynical purpose for why the Trump administration unilaterally ditched the INF earlier this year. It is not about alleged Russian breaches of the treaty; the real reason is for the US to obtain a freer hand to confront China.

It is ludicrous how blatant a so-called democratic nation (the self-declared "leader of the free world") is in actuality an oligarchic corporate state whose international relations are conducted on the basis of making obscene profits from conflict and war.

Little wonder then than bilateral relations between the US and Russia are in such dire condition. Trump's soon-to-be top military advisor Mark Esper is not going to make bilateral relations any better, that's for sure.

Also at a precarious time of possible war with Iran, the last person Trump should consult is someone whose corporate cronies are craving for more weapons sales. The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Tags: Esper INF Treaty Pentagon US

[Jul 20, 2019] The Decline of Our Nation's Generals by Andrew Bacevich

Jul 20, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

... ... ...

The clichés poured forth from Milley's lips with all the practiced smarminess of a car salesman promoting a new line of pickup trucks. But what does this mean in practice, Senator James Inhofe, Senate Armed Services Committee chair, wanted to know? What is General Milley's top priority?

"The very number one for me," Milley replied, "is the modernization, recapitalization of the nation's nuclear triad."

Now pause here for a moment. The triad -- the claim that the safety and security of the United States requires a nuclear strike force consisting of long-range bombers and long-range land-based missiles and missile-firing submarines -- represented fresh thinking some 60 years ago. That was when ICBMs and Polaris submarines were entering service to complement Strategic Air Command's fleet of B47s and B52s. If indeed "the fundamental character of war is changing rapidly," how can it be that Milley's conception of originality is to field glitzier versions of weapons dating back to when he was born? To make such a claim is on a par with arguing that what the U.S. Army needed in 1940 was more horses and the U.S. Navy more battleships.

It is small wonder that so few observers pay serious attention to what senior military officers have to say. What they say is mostly drivel.

Andrew Bacevich is TAC 's writer-at-large and a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.


TomG 17 hours ago

"What they say is mostly drivel."

Pathetic, expensive, immoral, divisive, destructive drivel with no end in sight...

JohnT 17 hours ago
Wow! Finally! No retreat to the comfort of broad generalization like "the eilites" but rather a well considered, on target consideration of one of the individuals in a position of power and responsibility sufficient to make the absolutely necessary changes our remarkable nation's health demands. Thank you!
And, if the general can't make use of well a intended and considered constructive critique he is not the experienced, compassionate adult the task requires.
SteveM 15 hours ago
It is small wonder that so few observers pay serious attention to what senior military officers have to say. What they say is mostly drivel.


Professor Bacevich has this one exactly backwards. Notice that when the sanctified Pentagon Generals make their fear-monger saturated pronouncements there is zero pushback from either the Politicos or the lapdog MSM. It is not that they are not listening. It's that they fully concur because they are intimidated by anyone wearing Stars on their shoulders.

They accept the "drivel" of the Pentagon Brass by default. BTW, which also includes the includes the updated National Defense Strategy which has the U.S. playing belligerent Global Cop in perpetuity and wasting taxpayer dollars out the wazoo.

If anything, the Congress and MSM should be paying more serious attention to the obsolete and unaffordable pronouncements of the Generals and start questioning their own instinctive deference to Pentagon authority which permits the warped, fully militarized and largely failed U.S. foreign policy to continue as is.

interguru 15 hours ago
I am not the first person to note that the US is displaying more and more symptoms of a dying empire. To name a few; a broken political system, crony capitalism, a bloated military, use of mercenaries, and unpayable debt.

The other day, while watching some general being interviewed, I noticed another symptom. He, and other contemporary generals, have so many ribbons and metals on their chest that they could be melted down for ore. I found a site that lets me compare our beribboned commanders with those of yesteryear.

Civil War generals had few or no ribbons. World War I's General of the Armies Pershing displays two rows of narrow ribbons. By World War II General Eisenhower showed three ribbon rows. In 1950 General Bradley showed 6 rows ( you can see a detailed picture here ).

The pictures of today's generals and officers are bedazzling. Just one example, The page describing William J. Gainey, USA, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, JCS ( not even a general ), shows a picture with at least 8 rows of ribbons, with a list 24 lines long describing 56 awards after accounting for multiple awards.

As our military officers watch the country fall apart, at least they can fondle their decorations.

baldwin 15 hours ago
The role of the generals and admirals is to advise. They can not make the politicians listen.
Sid Finster 14 hours ago
The absolute last thing this country needs is celebrity generals, or even generals who hold power in the shadows as a sort of eminence grise.
Kent 14 hours ago
Andrew J Bacevich does more for the long-term military strength and international standing of the USA than much of the military and political leadership of this country. A true patriot.
bbkingfish 14 hours ago
Wow. That photograph of Gen. Milley illustrates the author's case beautifully. Worth a thousand words.
marku52 13 hours ago
That was amazing. "War is changing rapidly" coupled with "Most important: updating a 60 year old weapon system"

Not a single world about figuring out why every war since Gulf 1 has been an abject failure? Or the threat of our defense manufacturing infrastructure being sold by Wall Street to China? Not a word?

The man can really talk out of both sides of his mouth, can't he? Should do great on Capitol Hill...

Taras77 13 hours ago
Not sure how we got to this pathetic stage but my guess is that some of the pomposity is directly related to the armies of press following the generals around in Iraq, e.g. petraeus, et al
As a snarky comment, what in the world is with all of these "impressive" ribbons to the top of these generals' shoulders-from what I understand, about 70-80% of them are meaningless, only a few are for combat, valor, some are for merit, but are more or less automatic. Talk about grade creep, how about ribbon creep.
Ike had about one or two rows, all meaningful awards. Marshall had maybe one row, meaningful awards to a very competent general.

Those generals that came out of Iraq and Afghan were mostly mouth pieces for the press and the politicians, i.e. drivel. None of them could win a meaningful engagement without bombing the heck out of civilians and associated cities. In a word, pathetic.

Thomas Cass 12 hours ago
Unless politicians feel pressure to act on military matters in a way that honors their or their constituents' lived experiences, how are they to be incentivized to ask the right questions? Some flavor of draft to increase stakeholders among the citizenry, or a service requirement for government office, might realize the serious attention for which Mr. Bacevich protests here, and drive the selection of better leaders.
James B 11 hours ago
To me for, both the nation and the military, we need to have an update of the high tech weapon systems that the General talks about but we also need to have a reassessment of how we fight wars. The wars the US won are (in my mind) the Revolution and WWII. I think the Civil war was "lost" because although the US defeated the Confederacy it did not reunite the nation. WWI was said to be the war to end all wars - - that didn't happen. No question that both Korea and Vietnam were not won, despite the heroism of those fighting there - - those wars were handled by Washington politics. MacAuthor could have won Korea but was fired. The whole Vietnam was was managed by politics. Now to the middle east. Afghanistan is another example of political warfare as is Iraq and potentially Iran. I believe that a war can be partly won by high tech missiles, bombs, etc. but cannot be actually won except by occupying the ground. We did this in Europe with the troops giving out cigarettes and candy as they patrolled. That made them human to the previous "enemy". Our professional volunteer army doesn't have the manpower to do this. I believe we need to have a secondary low-tech army of drafted men and women who can be trained quickly to be able to follow commands, to use a rifle with accuracy, and to be able to reduce civilian conflict without violent response. The high tech folk require extended training, the low tech force is able to move in and actually win the war. How would this help the nation? It would force people to live and work with a diverse population and realize that we can be a single nation of people of different backgrounds and ethnicity. The "fly over land" people really aren't a bunch of idiot racist red-necks. The coastals are not (all) anxious to destroy America.
Kent James B 11 hours ago
The US didn't just win in WWII because we occupied the ground. We won because we showed the German people that we were happy to fire bomb entire ancient cities and indiscriminately kill their women and children without a second thought.

And we were the good ones to surrender to. The Russians were happy to kill them all, with the exception of a few pretty blonds who would henceforth bear strong Russian boys.

You can't win a war without utterly defeating an entire population. Which is why we can't win our wars. None of these people have done anything to really harm us. And the American people still have enough dignity to not just slaughter these people for no reason. We're not entirely evil, yet.

Steve Naidamast 10 hours ago
I have always wondered what such people mean when they say that the character of warfare is changing and the US has to adopt to such changes.

War is about 2 things; killing and destruction. That in a nutshell is the character of war. Anything else may describe the complexities of tactics and strategies or the causes of such conflicts but the actual features of any conflict are always the same.

The only thing that does change is the types of weapon systems used. The stupidity that has led militaries to use them hasn't changed since the dawn of time...

[Jul 20, 2019] House orders Pentagon to say if it weaponized ticks and released them by John M. Donnelly

Notable quotes:
"... If the answer is yes, then the IG must provide the House and Senate Armed Services committees with a report on the experiments' scope and "whether any ticks or insects used in such experiments were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design." The amendment is an attempt to confirm or deny reports that Pentagon researchers -- at places such as Fort Detrick in Maryland and Plum Island in New York -- implanted diseases into insects to learn about the effects of biological weapons and also looked into using such insects to disseminate biological agents. ..."
"... A book called "Bitten," published this year, makes the case that the Defense Department research occurred and hints at a possible connection between the experiments and the spread of maladies such as Lyme disease, which is borne by ticks. ..."
"... Between 300,000 and 427,000 new cases of Lyme disease occur each year, with further growth expected in the years ahead, said Smith, a founding co-chairman of the Congressional Lyme Disease Caucus, which advocates for greater awareness of the disease and for more funding for research into a cure. ..."
"... Pat Smith, president of the Lyme Disease Association, said in an interview Monday that she is hopeful the IG report could provide information that could save lives. ..."
"... "We need to find out: is there anything in this research that was supposedly done that can help us to find information that is germane to patient health and combating the spread of the disease," she said. ..."
Jul 15, 2019 | www.rollcall.com

The House quietly voted last week to require the Pentagon inspector general to tell Congress whether the department experimented with weaponizing disease-carrying insects and whether they were released into the public realm -- either accidentally or on purpose.

The unusual proposal took the form of an amendment that was adopted by voice vote July 11 during House debate on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, which lawmakers passed the following day.

The amendment, by New Jersey Republican Christopher H. Smith , says the inspector general "shall conduct a review of whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975."

If the answer is yes, then the IG must provide the House and Senate Armed Services committees with a report on the experiments' scope and "whether any ticks or insects used in such experiments were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design." The amendment is an attempt to confirm or deny reports that Pentagon researchers -- at places such as Fort Detrick in Maryland and Plum Island in New York -- implanted diseases into insects to learn about the effects of biological weapons and also looked into using such insects to disseminate biological agents.

President Richard Nixon banned U.S. government research into biological weapons in 1969, but research into protecting U.S. military personnel from such agents may have continued, Smith said in an interview Monday.

A book called "Bitten," published this year, makes the case that the Defense Department research occurred and hints at a possible connection between the experiments and the spread of maladies such as Lyme disease, which is borne by ticks.

To Smith and other advocates of the Pentagon IG report, studying the past may provide data that can help stem the spread of Lyme disease in the future.

Between 300,000 and 427,000 new cases of Lyme disease occur each year, with further growth expected in the years ahead, said Smith, a founding co-chairman of the Congressional Lyme Disease Caucus, which advocates for greater awareness of the disease and for more funding for research into a cure.

"We need answers and we need them now," Smith said.

Smith's amendment was co-sponsored by Minnesota Democrat Collin C. Peterson , who is the House caucus's other leader, and by Maryland Republican Andy Harris .

Pat Smith, president of the Lyme Disease Association, said in an interview Monday that she is hopeful the IG report could provide information that could save lives.

"We need to find out: is there anything in this research that was supposedly done that can help us to find information that is germane to patient health and combating the spread of the disease," she said.

It remains to be seen whether Congress will send President Donald Trump a defense authorization bill with the weaponized ticks amendment. The Senate has passed its version without any similar provision, and now House and Senate negotiators must reconcile the two bills.

[Jul 06, 2019] Many critics will blame Putin for betraying Assad, but I think he is merely showing that he is a master negotiator who recognizes the importance of 'good' relations with Turkey, and knows he will not get everything he wants in Syria

Notable quotes:
"... Buying S400 and losing F35 is a win win. ..."
"... Trump administration currently sees Turkey is essentially as a lever in relation to Iran. He suspects Erdo & Trump have a deal since the G20 whereby S-400 sanctions may be held in abeyance, in return for Turkey's acquiescence to, or even assistance with the maximum pressure campaign. ..."
"... Erdogan is still in the regime-changers' sights, under siege in all areas and consequently in a very weak position. I think those forecasting a full-scale defection into Russia's orbit misunderstand the realities of the maximum pressure campaign on Turkey itself and much further it can be pushed if need be. IMO it is more likely NATO will eventually welcome the reluctant black sheep back into the fold. ..."
"... Turkey is going to get their $4.3 billion dollars back at about the same time that Iran gets all of its money back, and Venezuela gets its gold back from the Bank of England - that is to say, never. As soon as Turkey asks for its money back, the US govt will impose sanctions on Turkey and that will be that. ..."
"... Any energy corridor that goes from the Persian Gulf to Europe has to pass through Turkey and also has to pass through either Syria or Iraq. The fact that Syria and Iraq are now effectively in Russia's sphere of influence makes a Turkish-Russian alliance make all the more sense. ..."
"... Reports from several months ago indicate the S-400 was cheaper than the Patriot, more mobile, and Russia was willing to share the technology and the US wasn't. Could be the S-400 being a better deal value factored in there somewhere. Putin? He's a businessman too. ..."
Jul 06, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

plantman , 06 July 2019 at 11:30 AM

What is most interesting to me, is that the Russian air force is actually pounding Turkey's militant allies on the ground in Idlib, but both men (Erdogan and Putin) are still strengthening their ties thru Turkstream, Russian tourism and building of a nuclear power plant. Diplomacy seems to have surpassed conditions on the ground in Syria.

Also, Iran's leaders feel slightly betrayed by Putin's deference to Erdogan. They must believe (as I do) that Putin has agreed to allow Turkey to occupy parts of Syria following the war.

Turkey has been very consistent on this issue from the very beginning...and it has plans to resettle parts of N Syria with the nearly 3 million refugees it is housing in S Turkey.

Many critics will blame Putin for betraying Assad, but I think he is merely showing that he is a master negotiator who recognizes the importance of 'good' relations with Turkey, and knows he will not get everything he wants in Syria. Compromise with Turkey opens up a path to ending the war and for pressuring US-Turkey relations which continue to worsen as Washington continues to support a de facto Kurdistan in E Syria.

Sbin , 06 July 2019 at 12:50 PM

Buying S400 and losing F35 is a win win.

Letting a committee design an aicraft instead of aerospace engineers is a bad idea. Pentagon should cut their loss much like with the Zumwalt program.

Barbara Ann , 06 July 2019 at 12:50 PM

M K Bhadrakumar is a great source for following the frenetic pace of developments in Eurasian geopolitics and he covered this very topic yesterday (see link).

His view of where the Trump administration currently sees Turkey is essentially as a lever in relation to Iran. He suspects Erdo & Trump have a deal since the G20 whereby S-400 sanctions may be held in abeyance, in return for Turkey's acquiescence to, or even assistance with the maximum pressure campaign.

Whilst S-400 delivery is contrary to US/NATO wishes/policy, it makes sense to me that it gets treated as a second order issue in this context. Turkey also wants Iran out of Syria, but if pushed even further into a corner Turkey could make life difficult for the US on Iran and therefore even potentially endanger Trump's re-election chances.

Erdogan is still in the regime-changers' sights, under siege in all areas and consequently in a very weak position. I think those forecasting a full-scale defection into Russia's orbit misunderstand the realities of the maximum pressure campaign on Turkey itself and much further it can be pushed if need be. IMO it is more likely NATO will eventually welcome the reluctant black sheep back into the fold.

The slippery Sultan has pushed it to the limit, but the anti-Iran coalition now needs him - at least in the short term. My guess is he gets to keep his shiny new AD system.

Where Turkey chooses to put it is a very interesting question; facing its ancient enemy in the West, or perhaps sited to cover the Cyprus EEZ and its oil?

https://indianpunchline.com/trump-outflanks-iran-to-the-west-and-east/

JJackson , 06 July 2019 at 12:53 PM

Re. 2 and possibly 5.

Does anyone understand the F35 deal between the participating partner nations.
Wikipedia say Turkey is a level 3 partner which cost it $4.3 billion and that sales are handled via the Pentagon.

Who decides if a partner in the project can be denied the right to buy their product? What I did not see is what F35 components were produced in Turkey and if they stopped exports what redundancy their was in the system.

Can Turkey say fine I will take my $4.3 billion back as the Russians and Chinese have both made me very attractive offers?

JamesT -> JJackson... , 06 July 2019 at 05:03 PM

Turkey is going to get their $4.3 billion dollars back at about the same time that Iran gets all of its money back, and Venezuela gets its gold back from the Bank of England - that is to say, never. As soon as Turkey asks for its money back, the US govt will impose sanctions on Turkey and that will be that.

Eugene Owens , 06 July 2019 at 01:14 PM

Regarding #1 and #2: S-400 is already in Algeria. And it will be in India by next year.

Reuters claims that Trump's good buddy King Salman signed a deal with Russia to buy S-400s.

Reuters also reported that Qatar was considering an S-400 purchase. So why is Pom-Pom only jumping on Turkey's back and not castigating the Saudis, Qataris, Algeriens, and Indians about the S-400? Keeping F-35 stealth capability from snooping by S-400s is the stated reason we don't want Turkey to have the S-400.

But when carrier based F35s are flying in the eastern Med, that stealth capability could be snooped on by the Algerien systems (or by Russian "field service reps" in Algeria with those systems). Ditto for the F35s in Italy. Could Israeli F35 stealth already be jeopardized by Russian system at Khmeimim AB in Syria?

#3 Idiots. But they are being used by Trump. He puts them up to it, so that he can pull back at the last minute and be Mr World Peace.

#4: State owned Rossiya TV lampooned Trump's Fourth of July celebration. Called it фигня (pronounced as 'fignya' and translates as bullshit). They mocked the tanks on display, said "the paint on these vehicles is peeling off. They have no cannons, and the optics were pasted on with adhesive tape" . Host Yevgeny Popov called the President "our Donald Trump" . Co-host Olga Skabeeva calls the parade "Putin's America" .

#5: See #3

#6 & 7: I was hoping #6 would stall #7, but I have serious doubts.

JamesT -> Eugene Owens... , 06 July 2019 at 04:44 PM

Eugene,

Is the S-400 in Algeria already? I have found reports that it was scheduled to be delivered in 2015 - but I can't find any reports on it actually being delivered. I don't think the Russians would have sold it to anyone other than Belarus and China until they had the S-500 ready to go.

Eugene Owens -> JamesT ... , 06 July 2019 at 09:48 PM

James -

Wiki says yes but their references to it are speculative.

Besides those there is a Business Insider article, German Edition, which claims Algeria has the S-400. It was dated last November.

Plus there is a report on Sputnik re S-400 in Algeria. But that is based on a MENAdefense.net article, which has photos (irrefutable they claim??) of several S-400 launchers in Algeria. Plus BAZ-64022 truck-tractors which are used with the S-400 and NOT the S-300. So maybe they do and are trying to hide the fact in order to avoid sanctions? Or maybe they have upgraded their S-300 PMU-2s to the PMU-3, which is a close match to the S-400. Or perhaps it is all propaganda?

Walrus , 06 July 2019 at 01:33 PM

Regarding the F35 and the S400, the obvious thing to do is to let them have both and swap information. We get S400 info and Russia gets F35 data.......except erdo will try and screw both of us.

The Twisted Genius , 06 July 2019 at 03:58 PM

I believe Putin's goal is to transform Turkey from a NATO state into an integral part of Russia's near abroad to eventually secure a guaranteed access to the Mediterranean and beyond and have a reliable buffer between Russia and Middle East. It's ensuring peace of mind, not rebuilding an empire.

JamesT -> The Twisted Genius ... , 06 July 2019 at 04:58 PM

TTG,

I think Putin's goal is more about forming a partnership with Turkey to build an energy corridor through Turkey to Europe. Control of this corridor, or at least membership in the alliance that controls this corridor, is a big deal from a geopolitical standpoint.

Thus Russia and Turkey can form something along the lines of an "OPEC on steroids" - Turkey can control who gets to pipe hydrocarbons to Europe and Russia can provide protection to those who wish to join their alliance (as they have already done for Syria).

Any energy corridor that goes from the Persian Gulf to Europe has to pass through Turkey and also has to pass through either Syria or Iraq. The fact that Syria and Iraq are now effectively in Russia's sphere of influence makes a Turkish-Russian alliance make all the more sense.

What Turkey has to gain from such an arrangement is not only transit fees for the hydrocarbons, but also a chance to develop their economy - if Turkey is at the head of the line for receipt of hydrocarbons to Europe, they are at the head of the line for building industry and businesses which use those hydrocarbons as inputs (eg refineries, plastics, aluminum, chemical production).

CK -> The Twisted Genius ... , 06 July 2019 at 05:09 PM

Access to the Med is already guaranteed by treaty just as is access to the Black Sea. Access beyond the Med is controlled at the Suez and the pillars of Hercules.

Eugene Owens -> CK... , 06 July 2019 at 10:01 PM

CK -

Guaranteed during peacetime. During any hostilities you can throw that treaty out the window.

Which is why TTG is correct that Putin's goal is to get Turkey out of NATO. And he may doublecross Assad by blessing Turkey's permanent occupation (or annexation) of those four districts of northern Aleppo Province (i.e. Afrin, Azaz, al-Bab, & Jarabulus). As payment for getting out of NATO.

Lars , 06 July 2019 at 05:52 PM

Until you fix the problem with, according to a poll, 56% of American parents not wanting Arabic numerals taught to their children. I suspect that an equal number would not be able to find any of the mentioned places on a map.

Where those with crystal balls find certainty, I find something much less. We do know that containment polices can work very well, but any involvement in the world's longest contested area is not worth the cost, nor the risk. The US has already spent a fortune, with very little to show for it.

Maybe it is all about learning?

Mark Logan , 06 July 2019 at 05:52 PM

Reports from several months ago indicate the S-400 was cheaper than the Patriot, more mobile, and Russia was willing to share the technology and the US wasn't. Could be the S-400 being a better deal value factored in there somewhere. Putin? He's a businessman too.

Yosemite Sam Bolton is probably being told to go out there and do his thing, and suffering from whip-lash when Trump yanks the carpet out from under them without apology. The poor dear must be like...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWYFxekoAsM

[Jul 06, 2019] US is a Classic Empire and Is Becoming a Repressive Police State at Home by DAVE LINDORFF

Notable quotes:
"... The US today is a global empire. Our country's military, ballooning to some 2.1 million in uniform at a time that there is really no significant war underway. US military spending, greater in constant dollars than at any time since WWII, represents 34% of all global military spending, and the US military budget, depending on how one counts it, is larger than the next largest eight-to-ten countries' military budgets combined. ..."
"... And remember -- US empire and militarism is and has always been supported by both political parties. ..."
"... only 32% of Americans say they are "proud" (forget "extremely proud"!) of America's vaunted political system. In a close second for popular disgust, only 37% said they are "proud" of the US health care system. ..."
"... In my view, my country has become the world's leading "rogue" nation, dismissive of all international laws and codes of conduct, actively attacking many countries on its own authority, without the support of UN Security Council resolutions, exonerating war crimes committed by its soldiers, and committed to the first use of nuclear weapons, both as a first strike against major power rivals like Russia and China, and against non-nuclear nations like Iran, and equally dismissive of all efforts, large and small, to respond to the crisis of catastrophic global heating. ..."
Jul 05, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

... ... ...

The US today is a global empire. Our country's military, ballooning to some 2.1 million in uniform at a time that there is really no significant war underway. US military spending, greater in constant dollars than at any time since WWII, represents 34% of all global military spending, and the US military budget, depending on how one counts it, is larger than the next largest eight-to-ten countries' military budgets combined.

To show how ridiculously huge the US military is, consider that at $220 billion for fiscal year 2020, the US budget for Veterans Affairs alone (that's the agency that provides assistance of all kinds, including medical, to those who served in the military, not counting career soldiers who receive a pension that is counted separately) this one military budget line item is larger than the entire military budget of China, and is more than three times as large as the entire military budget of Russia, considered by many to be our primary "adversary"!

And remember -- US empire and militarism is and has always been supported by both political parties.

... ... ...

I read that a recent Gallup Organization poll shows a significant drop in the percentage of US Americans who are "extremely proud" of their country. True, 45% still say they are "proud" of America, but normally that is how many say they are "extremely proud" to be Americans. That's a significant fall-off. Even among normally super-patriotic Republicans the percentage of those saying they are "extremely proud" this July 4 of this country was down to 76%, a 10% drop from 2003, and close to the 68% low point reached at one point during the Obama administration.

The main cause of the loss of patriotic ardor appears to be dismay or disgust with the US political system. According to the poll, only 32% of Americans say they are "proud" (forget "extremely proud"!) of America's vaunted political system. In a close second for popular disgust, only 37% said they are "proud" of the US health care system.

So I guess I'm in pretty good company. I won't be oohing and aaahing at the local fireworks display this year. It's basically a glorification of US war-making anyhow, and there's nothing at all to be proud of in that regard, particularly with the US in the midst of a $1.5-trillion upgrade of its nuclear arsenal, threatening war with Iran, pulling out of a Reagan-era treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and embarking in a new arms race both in space and in virtually unstoppable hypersonic cruise missiles.

In my view, my country has become the world's leading "rogue" nation, dismissive of all international laws and codes of conduct, actively attacking many countries on its own authority, without the support of UN Security Council resolutions, exonerating war crimes committed by its soldiers, and committed to the first use of nuclear weapons, both as a first strike against major power rivals like Russia and China, and against non-nuclear nations like Iran, and equally dismissive of all efforts, large and small, to respond to the crisis of catastrophic global heating. [

At home, the US legal system has become a supine supporter of virtually unlimited executive power, of unchecked police power, and of repressive actions against the supposedly constitutionally protected free press.

It's tempting to hope that the decline noted by Gallup in the percent of Americans expressing "extreme pride" and even of "pride" in the US, but support for the US among the country's citizens still remains shamefully high in the face of all these negatives.

Anyhow, count me among those who won't be celebrating today's July 4 national holiday.

Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: DAVE LINDORFF

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening! , an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

[Jul 06, 2019] Peace though procurement malpractice

Notable quotes:
"... The current batch of military hardware is so much garbage that when the President wants to use the "superb" pieces of crap (F35 and the new boats are prime examples) a general will have to become the sacrificial lamb and give the president the news that this stuff is for show only. ..."
Jul 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

cnchal, July 5, 2019 at 5:38 am

Peace though procurement malpractice. The current batch of military hardware is so much garbage that when the President wants to use the "superb" pieces of crap (F35 and the new boats are prime examples) a general will have to become the sacrificial lamb and give the president the news that this stuff is for show only.

[Jul 04, 2019] The role of having world reserve currency in the unleashing the USA militarism

Jul 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

J. Gutierrez, July 2, 2019 at 5:49 pm GMT 600 Words @Commentator Mike

Hey Mike,

There is an article on here by Michael Hudson, an economist who wrote about U.S. control of the World Bank and IMF since 1948. He claims that the U.S. wages war because it gets other countries to unwittingly finance them and the trade deficit. After WWII the U.S. forced European countries to pay their war debt, by selling corporate assets, reducing barriers and reduce their social programs. They had 3/4 of the world gold reserves because of those loans during the war. Korea and Vietnam reduced their gold reserves to 10 billion by the late 60's and were forced to get out off the Gold Standard. The French Banks that had a big presense in Indochina sending their dollars to the French Central Bank and they were trading dollars for gold. Nixon stopped it.

The dollar gave U.S. the means to have other countries finance their trade deficit, all their wars and the military buildup. By ending the Gold backed dollar they forced the countries that had U.S. debt dollars to purchase U.S. Treasury Bonds. As the U.S. debt grew so did the dollars being held by those countries and the purchase of Treasury Bonds. The U.S. does not allow countries holding those dollars to buy US property or buy Corporations and risk being acused of commiting an act of war. So they are forced to buy U.S. debt while the US uses its dollars to buy other countries resources with those worthless dollars.

The U.S. forces countries that default on their loans to pay penalties and huge interest payments while the U.S. debt goes un checked and growing without the threat of being in default...

[Jul 04, 2019] The armed forces are just a bunch of heavily entrenched welfare recipients who get uniforms, guns, bombs etc. , and are always angling for more money

Jul 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

onebornfree says: Website July 2, 2019 at 3:49 pm GMT 100 Words @Your connection is not secure

Your connection is not secure says: "Wake up people. The military works for the evil masters. They don't really want war of course, they want peace – particularly between your ears."

It's all about welfare- welfare specifically for the military industrial complex , that is.

The armed forces are just a bunch of heavily entrenched welfare recipients who get uniforms, guns, bombs etc. , and are always angling for more money so that they to get more uniforms, guns, bombs etc., to be happily provided by the "private" inc. sycophants, otherwise collectively known as "weapons manufacturers".

Welfare/warfare, don't you just love it?

Regards, onebornfree

Pancho Perico , says: July 2, 2019 at 4:12 pm GMT

Council on Foreign Relations Tulsi Gabbard U.S. President? You have to be very gullible, to say the least, to believe that she is going to end America's endless wars.

Jacques Sheete , says: July 2, 2019 at 4:12 pm GMT
@Realist

Yes, indeed. The Deep State will only be beaten by force.

I vote for rotting from within. Not as dramatic as force, but more effective and long lasting. I'll enjoy the show when they start, Cronus-like, knocking one another off though.

[Jul 04, 2019] Bush Sr. and his CIA drug dealing

Jul 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

J. Gutierrez says: July 2, 2019 at 9:36 pm GMT 500 Words @Harold Smith

With all due respect Mr. Smith things have really gone down hill after Bush Sr. I'm talking about direct attacks on the rights of American citizens. Bush Sr. (R) with his CIA drug dealing with the help of Noriega. He purchased weapons with the proceeds to arm terrorist guerrilla groups in Nicaragua. Bill Clinton (D) helped Bush Sr. as governor of Arkansas by covering up any investigation targeting the operation and laundering their money through a state owned bank. Bush Jr. (R) secured lands in Afghanistan in order to restart athe heroine trade by growing poppy fields to process and ship back to the US. Obama (R) made sure the Mexican drug cartels were well armed in order to launch a drug war that supported the Merida Initiative, which allowed armed DEA, CIA and Mercenaries into Mexican territory. Trump (R) will be the clean up hitter that will usher in the dollar collapse.

Mr. Smith do you really believe it is a coincidence that Rep 8 yrs, Dem 8yrs, Rep 8yrs, Dem 8yrs, Rep 3 yrs are voted in? Please sir, don't fool yourself because in the next election I will bet money the orange fool will be president for another 4 years unless the owners don't want him there. But we can safely say that history tells us he will. All I'm saying that people like you, waiting for someone to throw you a rope because you've fallen into deep water are waiting on a rescue boat that doesn't care if you drown.

Your best bet for change was thrown away when Dr. Ron Paul failed to be nominated. Us dumb asses in Mexico didn't need another election fraud this time around! The people started YouTube channels that reported the "real" news (Chapucero – Quesadillas de Verdades – Charro Politico – Sin Censura, etc.). Those channels made a big difference, countering the negative reporting by Mexican and US MSM that the Presidential Candidate for MORENA as "Leftist", "Communist", "Socialist", "Like Hugo Chavez", "Dangerous", etc.

With all of the US propaganda, Mexican propaganda, the negative MSM and Elite financing, Mexicans knew they had to get out and vote in record numbers and they did! Otherwise a close election was seen as another loss and the end of Mexico as a country. People were ready to fight and die if necessary. They had seen the Energy Reforms forced down our throat by the corrupt PRI/PAN parties (Mex version o DEM/REP), with the help of Hillary Clinton and the US State Department. They drafting the changes needed to the Mexican Constitution to allow a vote. Totally against the Law in Mexico and I'm sure the laws of the US.

There is a saying that goes something like, "If you're not ready to die for Freedom, take it out of your Vocabulary"!

We were!!!

[Jul 04, 2019] any and all individuals who conspired to defraud the United States into illegal war of aggression should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law

Wars are necessary for the maintaining and expanding the US controlled neoliberal empire. Wars is the health of military industrial complex.
The Deep State will bury any candidate who will try to change the USA forign policy. Looks what happened to Trump. He got Russiagate just for vey modest proposal of detente with Russia (of course not only for that, but still...)
Notable quotes:
"... The first is "The War Fraud Accountability Act of 2020″ Retroactive to 2002, it states that any and all individuals who conspired to defraud the United States into illegal war of aggression should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Moreover, any and all assets owned by these individuals shall be made forfeit . to pay down the cost of the wars they lied us into. ..."
Jul 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

alexander says: July 2, 2019 at 8:57 pm GMT 400 Words

Those are interesting proposals but wishful thinking: wars are necessary for Electing Tulsi Gabbard as our next Commander in Chief will not solve our biggest problems alone.

Her candidacy, I believe , must be augmented by two new laws which should be demanded by the taxpayer and enforced by her administration on "day one".

The first is "The War Fraud Accountability Act of 2020″ Retroactive to 2002, it states that any and all individuals who conspired to defraud the United States into illegal war of aggression should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Moreover, any and all assets owned by these individuals shall be made forfeit . to pay down the cost of the wars they lied us into.

If they lied us into war .they pay for it NOT the US taxpayer.

The second is " The Terror Fraud Accountability Act of 2020″ also retroactive to 2001, it states that any and all individuals found to have engaged in plotting, planning, or staging "false terror events" will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Moreover, any and all of the assets owned by these individuals shall be made forfeit to pay down the cost of our War on Terror.

Americans should not have to sacrifice one cent of their tax dollars to pay for their own defrauding by "staged" or "phony" terror events.

I believe that were Tulsi to be elected, she should set up two new task forces designed especially for these reasons, Try to think of them as the " Office of Special Plans" IN REVERSO.!.

Moreover she should hold weekly press briefings to notify the taxpayer of her progress, and also how much of our 23 trillion in losses , FROM THEIR LIES, she has been able to recoup.

Getting these two initiatives up and running is the most potent force the taxpayers have in cleaning out the fraud and larceny in DC, .ending our illegal wars overseas .. and (finally)holding our "establishment elite " accountable for "LYING US INTO THEM"

It is way overdue for the American Taxpayer to take back control of our government from those who ALMOST BANKRUPTED OUR ENTIRE NATION BY LYING US INTO ILLEGAL WARS.

It is not enough any more just to complain or "kvetch" about our problems .put on your thinking caps .and start coming up with solutions and initiatives .start fighting for your freedom, your finances and your future.

Elect the leaders YOU WANT and tell them exactly what you want them to do!

Tulsi has promised us all "SERVICE OVER SELF"

There you go !

I say that means not only ENDING our ILLEGAL, CRIMINAL WARS .but GETTING AS MUCH OF OUR MONEY BACK from those who lied us into them !

ACCOUNTABILITY FOR WAR FRAUD it is $23,000,000,000,000.00. in "heinous debt" .overdue!

OORAH !

[Jun 30, 2019] First Democratic debate Demagogy on social issues, silence on war by Patrick Martin

This is WSWS with their outdated dreams of "working class dictatorship" but some points and observation are very apt and to the point.
Notable quotes:
"... The fraud of a "progressive" Democratic Party and presidential candidate was summed up in the near-universal declaration of the media that Senator Kamala Harris had emerged as the clear winner, part of a coordinated effort to promote her candidacy ..."
"... Harris climbed to the Senate by serving for years in the Bay Area of California as a law-and-order district attorney and state attorney general, defending police killers and bankers engaged in foreclosure fraud, including Trump's current treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin. A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she has been among the most rabid of Democrats in attacking Trump as a stooge of Russian President Putin. In Thursday's debate, her main foray into foreign policy was to denounce Trump for being soft on Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. ..."
"... She is being promoted most enthusiastically by those sections of the ruling class, whose views are promoted by the New York Times ..."
"... The Obama administration also deported more immigrants than any other, a fact that was raised in a question to Vice President Biden, who confined himself to empty declarations of sympathy for the victims of Trump's persecution, while denying any comparison between Trump and Obama. ..."
"... If these ladies and gentlemen decide not to engage on foreign policy, the reason is clear: the Democrats know that the American people are adamantly opposed to new military interventions. They therefore seek to conceal the preparations of American imperialism for major wars, whether regional conflicts with Iran, North Korea or Venezuela, or conflicts with nuclear-armed global rivals like China and Russia. ..."
"... On the first night, Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, asked to name the greatest global security threat, replied, "The greatest threat that we face is the fact we are at a greater risk of nuclear war today than ever before in history." This remarkable declaration was passed over in silence by the moderators and the other candidates, and the subject was not raised on the second night at all, including by Bernie Sanders. ..."
Jun 29, 2019 | www.wsws.org

Four hours of nationally televised debates Wednesday and Thursday among 20 Democratic presidential candidates demonstrated the gigantic disconnect between the claims of this pro-war, pro-corporate party to be driven by concerns for the well-being of working people and the reality of poverty and oppression in America, for which the Democratic Party is no less responsible than the Republicans.

The stage-managed spectacle mounted by NBC marked the formal beginning of an electoral process dominated by big money and thoroughly manipulated by the corporate-controlled media.

The attempt to contain the growing left-wing opposition in the working class and channel it behind the second oldest capitalist party in the world necessarily assumed the form of lies and demagogy. For the most part, the vying politicians, all of them in the top 10 percent on the income ladder, made promises to provide healthcare, jobs, decent schools, tuition-free college and a clean environment for all, knowing full well they had no intention of carrying them out.

No one -- neither the millionaire media talking heads asking the questions nor the candidates -- dared to mention the fact that that Democratic Party has just voted to give Trump an additional $4.9 billion to round up, detain and torture hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including children, in the growing network of concentration camps being set up within the US. Facts, as they say, are stubborn things, and this one demonstrates the complicity of the Democratic Party in the fascistic policies of the Trump administration.

The second night of the debate featured the front-runners, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Biden has a long record of reactionary politics, including in the Obama administration. Sanders is continuing in this election his role in 2016 of channeling growing support for socialism into the framework of a right-wing party.

The fraud of a "progressive" Democratic Party and presidential candidate was summed up in the near-universal declaration of the media that Senator Kamala Harris had emerged as the clear winner, part of a coordinated effort to promote her candidacy. The African-American senator was lauded for attacking Biden for statements boasting of his ability in the past to collaborate with segregationist senators and his past opposition to busing for school integration.

It was Harris who adopted the most transparently bogus posture of left-radicalism in Thursday night's debate, repeatedly declaring her agreement with Bernie Sanders and raising her hand, along with Sanders, to support the abolition of private health insurance in favor of a single-payer system. By Friday morning, however, she had reversed that stand, claiming she had "misheard" the question and declaring her support for the continuation of private insurance.

Harris climbed to the Senate by serving for years in the Bay Area of California as a law-and-order district attorney and state attorney general, defending police killers and bankers engaged in foreclosure fraud, including Trump's current treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin. A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she has been among the most rabid of Democrats in attacking Trump as a stooge of Russian President Putin. In Thursday's debate, her main foray into foreign policy was to denounce Trump for being soft on Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

She is being promoted most enthusiastically by those sections of the ruling class, whose views are promoted by the New York Times , who want the Democratic campaign to be dominated by racial and gender politics so as to mobilize the party's wealthy upper-middle class base and divert and divide the mass working class anger over social inequality.

Many of the candidates fondly recalled the Obama administration. But those eight years saw the greatest transfer of wealth from working people to the super-rich in American history. The pace was set by the initial $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, which was expanded to uncounted trillions in the course of 2009, combined with the bailout of the auto companies at the expense of the autoworkers, who suffered massive cuts in benefits and a 50 percent cut in pay for new hires, rubber-stamped by the United Auto Workers.

The Obama administration also deported more immigrants than any other, a fact that was raised in a question to Vice President Biden, who confined himself to empty declarations of sympathy for the victims of Trump's persecution, while denying any comparison between Trump and Obama.

Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado attacked Biden for claiming credit for a bipartisan budget deal in 2011 with Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. Far from a genuine compromise, he said, the deal "was a complete victory for the Tea Party. It extended the Bush tax cuts permanently," as well as putting in place major cuts in social spending which continue to this day. Bennet neglected to mention that he had voted for the deal himself when it passed the Senate by a huge majority.

It was remarkable, under conditions where President Trump himself declared that the United States was only 10 minutes away from launching a major assault on Iran earlier this month, that the 20 Democratic candidates spent almost no time discussing foreign policy.

In the course of four hours, there were only a few minutes devoted to the world outside the United States. The silence on the rest of the world cannot be dismissed as mere parochialism.

Many of the Democratic presidential candidates are deeply implicated in either the policy-making or combat operations of US imperialism. The 20 candidates include two who were deployed as military officers to Iraq and Afghanistan, Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard; Biden, vice president for eight years and the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and five senators who are members of high-profile national security committees: Harris and Bennet on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand on the Armed Services Committee, and Cory Booker on the Foreign Relations Committee.

If these ladies and gentlemen decide not to engage on foreign policy, the reason is clear: the Democrats know that the American people are adamantly opposed to new military interventions. They therefore seek to conceal the preparations of American imperialism for major wars, whether regional conflicts with Iran, North Korea or Venezuela, or conflicts with nuclear-armed global rivals like China and Russia.

In the handful of comments that were made on foreign policy, the Democratic candidates struck a belligerent note. On Wednesday, four of the ten candidates declared the main global threat to the United States to be China, while New York Mayor Bill de Blasio opted for Russia. Many candidates referred to the need to combat Russian interference in the US election -- recycling the phony claims that Russian "meddling" helped Trump into the White House in 2016.

On the first night, Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, asked to name the greatest global security threat, replied, "The greatest threat that we face is the fact we are at a greater risk of nuclear war today than ever before in history." This remarkable declaration was passed over in silence by the moderators and the other candidates, and the subject was not raised on the second night at all, including by Bernie Sanders.

[Jun 30, 2019] Eisenhower called it the 'military-industrial complex.' It's vastly bigger now.

Notable quotes:
"... Daniel Wirls is professor of politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and author of several books, including " Irrational Security: The Politics of Defense from Reagan to Obama " (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) . https://outline.com/DGG3zD Read & annotate articles ..."
Jun 26, 2019 | Washington Post

When two giant Pentagon contractors -- Raytheon and United Technologies -- proposed to merge into Raytheon Technologies, it hit the headlines. President Trump said he was "a little bit concerned" that the merger would dampen competition in the defense industry. Coincidentally, Congress was at the same time debating the administration's request for substantial increases in military spending -- particularly in weapons procurement and research and development.

We used to call the nexus of private interests and national defense the "military-industrial complex." But that Cold War term no longer fits. "Industrial" does not capture the breadth of the activities involved. And "military" fails to describe the range of government policies and interests implicated. Over the past two decades we've seen transformations that include new government reliance on private security firms, revolutions in digital technology, a post-9/11 surge in the number of veterans, and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). What we have now could be called a "National Security Corporate Complex."

Here are four things you need to know about this transformation.

1. President Dwight Eisenhower coined the term, and it stuck

In the heyday of the Cold War, with corporate giants bending metal for the Pentagon in its titanic competition with the Soviet Union, President Dwight Eisenhower coined the phrase as part of a famous warning about the unprecedented "conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry."

Eisenhower was concerned about the potential influence of industry over government policy and budgets. Since then, analysts and pundits have used the term to suggest that arms manufacturers unduly influence lawmakers in voting on the size and nature of military spending, including decisions about war and peace.

2. 9/11 changed the business of national security

Before September 11, 2001 and the resulting military actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, the Department of Energy (DOE) was the only executive branch department other than the Pentagon with major military contracts. DOE was involved because it built and dismantled nuclear warheads.

We can see how, post-9/11, more agencies got involved in national security contracting. I used federal contracting data to measure the changes from 1981 to 2018.

As you can see, much of the jump in post-9/11 spending comes from the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in late 2002 and early 2003 . Before DHS was created, some of that contracting was already being done by the agencies brought together to form the new department, particularly the Coast Guard. But the scope and amount of DHS contracting increased dramatically -- averaging nearly $14 billion a year from 2005 onward.

But two other departments also expanded their contracting substantially after 9/11. In the 1990s, the State Department had an average of under $700 million in contracts per year in national security related matters. From 2009 onward, that average jumped to $8.4 billion a year.

But the most stunning increases in both overall budgets and contracting came from VA. Few Americans would guess that from 2001 to 2011, VA budget grew faster than the Pentagon's -- 271 percent compared to 240 percent -- even if the Pentagon includes its extra spending for the wars. Part of VA's growth came in contracting. In the 1990s, VA had contracted out under $2.4 billion in work per year in the 1990s. From 2009 onward, VA contracted out nearly $20 billion of work each year.

3. Defense contracting extends far beyond the purchase of weapons

As national security contracting has ramped up across government agencies, we've also seen a change in the focus of these contracts. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a great deal of media attention focused on contracts with private security firms like Blackwater and logistics firms like Halliburton. Such "privatization" of military force continues, but it is only part of the story.

The government also expanded its outsourcing of military and veterans' health care. Three of the top 15 Pentagon contractors were health care corporations, including two that were in the top five for VA.

National security departments further expanded their contracting in information technology, for tasks ranging from the prosaic, like bookkeeping, to the exotic, including cyberwarfare and artificial intelligence. That work went both to traditional arms-making giants such as Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, and also enterprises such as Booz Allen Hamilton and SAIC that specialize in such work.

[ The Senate and the intelligence community rebuked Trump on national security. Here's why that matters -- a lot. ]

4. A web of bigger contractors with broader reach

As a result of the government's expanded spending on national security, many corporations now have sizable contracts with more than one federal agency. Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics -- and perhaps the new Raytheon Technologies -- have become diversified "Walmarts of war," as some researchers call them, delivering a wide range of goods and services to various parts of the federal government. The Pentagon's top contractor, Lockheed Martin, has been a major contractor for VA and DHS. General Dynamics was fourth among Pentagon contractors, second for DHS, and third for the Department of State.

Large IT specialists also contract across departments. Booz Allen Hamilton, for example, was the government's 14th largest contractor in 2018, ranking 19th for the Pentagon, 7th for VA, and 32nd for DHS. Engineering giant Fluor Corporation was in the top 15 for Defense, DOE, and DHS. Other examples include CACI, Jacobs Engineering, and Leidos Holdings. And of course, several health care companies do business with VA and Pentagon.

What does all this mean?

Some observers argue that the general decline in overall military spending and weapons procurement after the peak of the recent wars -- before the Trump administration increased that spending -- meant the U.S. no longer had to worry about the influence of a military-industrial complex.

But focusing narrowly on weapons procurement misses the bigger picture. Since 9/11, an increasingly diverse array of firms have a significant stake in federal national security spending. Those funds now flow from a large portion of the federal government and into many sectors of the U.S. economy. If anything, Eisenhower's complex has become more complex and potentially influential.

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Daniel Wirls is professor of politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and author of several books, including " Irrational Security: The Politics of Defense from Reagan to Obama " (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) .

https://outline.com/DGG3zD Read & annotate articles

[Jun 29, 2019] The Forever War Is So Normalized That Opposing It Is Isolationism by Caitlin Johnstone

Notable quotes:
"... More importantly, Ryan's campaign using the word "isolationism" to describe the simple common sense impulse to withdraw from a costly, deadly military occupation which isn't accomplishing anything highlights an increasingly common tactic of tarring anything other than endless military expansionism as strange and aberrant instead of normal and good. ..."
"... Under our current Orwellian doublespeak paradigm where forever war is the new normal, the opposite of war is no longer peace, but isolationism. This removal of a desirable opposite of war from the establishment-authorised lexicon causes war to always be the desirable option. ..."
"... A few months after Bush's address, Antiwar 's Rich Rubino wrote an article titled " Non-Interventionism is Not Isolationism ", explaining the difference between a nation which withdraws entirely from the world and a nation which simply resists the temptation to use military aggression except in self defense. ..."
"... "Isolationism dictates that a country should have no relations with the rest of the world," Rubino explained. "In its purest form this would mean that ambassadors would not be shared with other nations, communications with foreign governments would be mainly perfunctory, and commercial relations would be non-existent." ..."
"... "A non-interventionist supports commercial relations," Rubino contrasted. "In fact, in terms of trade, many non-interventionists share libertarian proclivities and would unilaterally obliterate all tariffs and custom duties, and would be open to trade with all willing nations. In addition, non-interventionists welcome cultural exchanges and the exchange of ambassadors with all willing nations." ..."
"... "A non-interventionist believes that the U.S. should not intercede in conflicts between other nations or conflicts within nations," wrote Rubino. "In recent history, non-interventionists have proved prophetic in warning of the dangers of the U.S. entangling itself in alliances. The U.S. has suffered deleterious effects and effectuated enmity among other governments, citizenries, and non-state actors as a result of its overseas interventions. The U.S. interventions in both Iran and Iraq have led to cataclysmic consequences." ..."
"... Calling an aversion to endless military violence "isolationism" is the same as calling an aversion to mugging people "agoraphobia". ..."
"... Another dishonest label you'll get thrown at you when debating the forever war is "pacifism". "Some wars are bad, but I'm not a pacifist; sometimes war is necessary," supporters of a given interventionist military action will tell you. They'll say this while defending Trump's potentially catastrophic Iran warmongering or promoting a moronic regime change invasion of Syria, or defending disastrous US military interventions in the past like Iraq. ..."
"... All Wars Are Evil. Period. "Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy." – Henry Kissinger ..."
"... Can you imagine Jesus firing a machine gun at a group of people? Can you picture Jesus in an F-16 lobbing missiles at innocents? ..."
"... instead of getting us out of Syria, Trump got us further in. Trump is driving us to ww3. ..."
"... funny how people, fresh from the broken promises "build that wall" etc, quickly forget all that and begin IMMEDIATELY projecting trustworthiness on yet ANOTHER candidate. I'Il vote for Tulsi when she says no more Israeli wars for America. ..."
"... if there's even a small chance Tulsi can get us out of the forever wars i will be compelled to vote for her, as Trump clearly has no intention on doing so. yes, it is that important ..."
"... As for this next election? Is Ron Paul running as an independent? No? Well then, 'fool me once...' Don't get me wrong: I hope Gabbard is genuine and she's absolutely right to push non-interventionism...but the rest of her platform sucks. There's also the fact that she's a CFR member ..."
"... Just as they did with Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Pat Buchanan, the MSM and the swamp have already effectively buried Gabbard. It's unlikely that she'll make the next debate cut as the DNC and MSM will toss her out. ..."
"... All the MSM is talking about post-debates, even on Faux Noise, is Harris's race-baiting of old senile Biden. ..."
Jun 29, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

After getting curb stomped on the debate stage by Tulsi Gabbard, the campaign for Tim "Who the fuck is Tim Ryan?" Ryan posted a statement decrying the Hawaii congresswoman's desire to end a pointless 18-year military occupation as "isolationism".

"While making a point as to why America can't cede its international leadership and retreat from around the world, Tim was interrupted by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard," the statement reads.

"When he tried to answer her, she contorted a factual point Tim was making  --  about the Taliban being complicit in the 9/11 attacks by providing training, bases and refuge for Al Qaeda and its leaders. The characterization that Tim Ryan doesn't know who is responsible for the attacks on 9/11 is simply unfair reporting. Further, we continue to reject Gabbard's isolationism and her misguided beliefs on foreign policy . We refuse to be lectured by someone who thinks it's ok to dine with murderous dictators like Syria's Bashar Al-Assad who used chemical weapons on his own people."

Ryan's campaign is lying. During an exchange that was explicitly about the Taliban in Afghanistan, Ryan plainly said "When we weren't in there, they started flying planes into our buildings." At best, Ryan can argue that when he said "they" he had suddenly shifted from talking about the Taliban to talking about Al Qaeda without bothering to say so, in which case he obviously can't legitimately claim that Gabbard "contorted" anything he had said. At worst, he was simply unaware at the time of the very clear distinction between the Afghan military and political body called the Taliban and the multinational extremist organization called Al Qaeda.

More importantly, Ryan's campaign using the word "isolationism" to describe the simple common sense impulse to withdraw from a costly, deadly military occupation which isn't accomplishing anything highlights an increasingly common tactic of tarring anything other than endless military expansionism as strange and aberrant instead of normal and good.

Under our current Orwellian doublespeak paradigm where forever war is the new normal, the opposite of war is no longer peace, but isolationism. This removal of a desirable opposite of war from the establishment-authorised lexicon causes war to always be the desirable option.

This is entirely by design. This bit of word magic has been employed for a long time to tar any idea which deviates from the neoconservative agenda of total global unipolarity via violent imperialism as something freakish and dangerous. In his farewell address to the nation , war criminal George W Bush said the following:

"In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led."

A few months after Bush's address, Antiwar 's Rich Rubino wrote an article titled " Non-Interventionism is Not Isolationism ", explaining the difference between a nation which withdraws entirely from the world and a nation which simply resists the temptation to use military aggression except in self defense.

"Isolationism dictates that a country should have no relations with the rest of the world," Rubino explained. "In its purest form this would mean that ambassadors would not be shared with other nations, communications with foreign governments would be mainly perfunctory, and commercial relations would be non-existent."

"A non-interventionist supports commercial relations," Rubino contrasted. "In fact, in terms of trade, many non-interventionists share libertarian proclivities and would unilaterally obliterate all tariffs and custom duties, and would be open to trade with all willing nations. In addition, non-interventionists welcome cultural exchanges and the exchange of ambassadors with all willing nations."

"A non-interventionist believes that the U.S. should not intercede in conflicts between other nations or conflicts within nations," wrote Rubino. "In recent history, non-interventionists have proved prophetic in warning of the dangers of the U.S. entangling itself in alliances. The U.S. has suffered deleterious effects and effectuated enmity among other governments, citizenries, and non-state actors as a result of its overseas interventions. The U.S. interventions in both Iran and Iraq have led to cataclysmic consequences."

Calling an aversion to endless military violence "isolationism" is the same as calling an aversion to mugging people "agoraphobia". Yet you'll see this ridiculous label applied to both Gabbard and Trump, neither of whom are isolationists by any stretch of the imagination, or even proper non-interventionists. Gabbard supports most US military alliances and continues to voice full support for the bogus "war on terror" implemented by the Bush administration which serves no purpose other than to facilitate endless military expansionism; Trump is openly pushing regime change interventionism in both Venezuela and Iran while declining to make good on his promises to withdraw the US military from Syria and Afghanistan.

Another dishonest label you'll get thrown at you when debating the forever war is "pacifism". "Some wars are bad, but I'm not a pacifist; sometimes war is necessary," supporters of a given interventionist military action will tell you. They'll say this while defending Trump's potentially catastrophic Iran warmongering or promoting a moronic regime change invasion of Syria, or defending disastrous US military interventions in the past like Iraq.

This is bullshit for a couple of reasons. Firstly, virtually no one is a pure pacifist who opposes war under any and all possible circumstances; anyone who claims that they can't imagine any possible scenario in which they'd support using some kind of coordinated violence either hasn't imagined very hard or is fooling themselves. If your loved ones were going to be raped, tortured and killed by hostile forces unless an opposing group took up arms to defend them, for example, you would support that. Hell, you would probably join in. Secondly, equating opposition to US-led regime change interventionism, which is literally always disastrous and literally never helpful, is not even a tiny bit remotely like opposing all war under any possible circumstance.

Another common distortion you'll see is the specious argument that a given opponent of US interventionism "isn't anti-war" because they don't oppose all war under any and all circumstances. This tweet by The Intercept 's Mehdi Hasan is a perfect example, claiming that Gabbard is not anti-war because she supports Syria's sovereign right to defend itself with the help of its allies from the violent extremist factions which overran the country with western backing. Again, virtually no one is opposed to all war under any and all circumstances; if a coalition of foreign governments had helped flood Hasan's own country of Britain with extremist militias who'd been murdering their way across the UK with the ultimate goal of toppling London, both Tulsi Gabbard and Hasan would support fighting back against those militias.

The label "anti-war" can for these reasons be a little misleading. The term anti-interventionist or non-interventionist comes closest to describing the value system of most people who oppose the warmongering of the western empire, because they understand that calls for military interventionism which go mainstream in today's environment are almost universally based on imperialist agendas grabbing at power, profit, and global hegemony. The label "isolationist" comes nowhere close.

It all comes down to sovereignty. An anti-interventionist believes that a country has the right to defend itself, but it doesn't have the right to conquer, capture, infiltrate or overthrow other nations whether covertly or overtly. At the "end" of colonialism we all agreed we were done with that, except that the nationless manipulators have found far trickier ways to seize a country's will and resources without actually planting a flag there. We need to get clearer on these distinctions and get louder about defending them as the only sane, coherent way to run foreign policy.

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Vitor , 31 minutes ago link

It's like someone being labeled anti-social for stopping to bully and pick up fights.

Aussiekiwi , 49 minutes ago link

"If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led."

Fascinating belief, has he been to Libya lately, perhaps attended an open air slave Market in a country that was very developed before the US decided to 'free' it.

Quivering Lip , 57 minutes ago link

Until Tulsi pimp slapped that Ryan guy I never heard of him. I would imagine I'll never here about him in another 2 months.

Toshie , 1 hour ago link

yeah , keep at it US Govt ;- keep fighting those wars overseas on behalf the 5th foreign column.

Keep wasting precious lives ,and the country's wealth while foreign rising powers like China are laughing all the way to the bank.

may you live in interesting times !

onasip123 , 1 hour ago link

War forever and ever, Amen.

Dr Anon , 1 hour ago link

When we weren't there, they flew planes into our buildings?

Excuse me mutant, but I believe we paid Israel our jewtax that year like all the others and they still flew planes into our buildings. And then danced in the streets about it. Sick people.

thisguyoverhere , 1 hour ago link

All Wars Are Evil. Period. "Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy." – Henry Kissinger

Picture if you will Jesus. Seriously? Can you imagine Jesus firing a machine gun at a group of people? Can you picture Jesus in an F-16 lobbing missiles at innocents?

Do you see Jesus piloting a drone and killing Muslims, other non-believers, or anyone for that matter? Can you picture Jesus as a sniper?

Impossible.

Dougs Decks , 2 hours ago link

Soooo,,, If my favorite evening activity, is to sit on the front porch steps, while the dog and the cats run around, with my shotgun leaning up next to me,,, Is that Isolationist, or Protectionist,,,

Brazen Heist II , 2 hours ago link

You know the system is completely broken when they want to silence/kill/smear anybody talking sense and peace.

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

and isis are referred to as freedom fighters

Herdee , 2 hours ago link

The CIA and MI6 staged all the fake chemical incidents in Syria as well as the recent one in England. False Flags.

ardent , 2 hours ago link

What America needs is to get rid of all those Jewish Zionist Neocons leading us into those forever wars.

ALL MidEast terrorism and warmongering are for APARTHEID Israhell.

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

instead of getting us out of Syria, Trump got us further in. Trump is driving us to ww3. we can't do **** if we're glazed over in a nuclear holocaust. maybe Tulsi is lying through her teeth, but i am so pissed Trump went full neocon

Wild Bill Steamcock , 2 hours ago link

"Won't Get Fooled Again"- The Who

JD Rock , 2 hours ago link

funny how people, fresh from the broken promises "build that wall" etc, quickly forget all that and begin IMMEDIATELY projecting trustworthiness on yet ANOTHER candidate. I'Il vote for Tulsi when she says no more Israeli wars for America.

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

she did slam Netanyahu

WillyGroper , 2 hours ago link

saying & doing are different animals. she's powerless. more hope n chains.

KnightsofNee , 2 hours ago link

www.tulsigabbard.org

If you read her positions on various issues, a quick survey shows that she supports the New Green Deal, more gun control (ban on assault rifles, etc.), Medicare for all. Stopped reading at that point.

White Nat , 2 hours ago link

We refuse to be lectured by someone who thinks it's ok to dine with murderous dictators like Syria's Bashar Al-Assad who used chemical weapons on his own people.

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. ~ Joseph Goebbels

New_Meat , 2 hours ago link

- Edward Bernays, relative of Sigmund Fraud, propagandist for Woodrow Wilson.

Back then, being a "propagandist" held no stigma nor antipathy.

fify

Debt Slave , 1 hour ago link

The better educated among us know exactly as to who Goebblels was referring to. Even a dullard should be able to figure out who benefits from all of our Middle East adventures.

LOL123 , 3 hours ago link

"Under our current Orwellian doublespeak paradigm where forever war is the new normal, the opposite of war is no longer peace, but isolationism. "

Under military might WAS the old world order... Under the new world order the strength is in cyber warfare .

If under technology the profiteers can control the masses through crowd control ( which they can-" Department of Defense has developed a non-lethal crowd control device called the Active Denial System (ADS) . The ADS works by firing a high-powered beam of 95 GHz waves at a target that is, millimeter wavelengths. Anyone caught in the beam will feel like their skin is burning.) your spending power ( they can through e- commetce and digital banking) and isolation cells called homes ( they can through directed microwaves from GWEN stations).... We already are isolated and exposed at the same time.

That war is an exceptable means of engagement as a solution to world power is a confirmation of the psychological warfare imposed on us since the creation of our Nation.

Either we reel it in and back now or we destroy ourselves from within.

"

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

Abraham Lincoln

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

if there's even a small chance Tulsi can get us out of the forever wars i will be compelled to vote for her, as Trump clearly has no intention on doing so. yes, it is that important

metachron , 2 hours ago link

Idiot, Tulsi is a sovereign nationalist on the left. You have just never seen one before. If you were truly anti-globalist you'd would realize left and right are invented to divide us. The politics are global and national, so wake the **** up

Hurricane Baby , 3 hours ago link

Actually, I don't see where a few decades of US isolationism would be all that bad.

Fred box , 3 hours ago link

""War Is the U.S. Racket!"" They are not good at it, there "great at it". My entire life 63yrs,they been fighting someone or something. When times where rough in the 1800s,Hell! they fought themselves(Civil War. As I said b4 No one seems to ask, Where does the gold go of the vanquished foe? Truly Is A Well Practiced Racket.

Malleus Maleficarum , 3 hours ago link

Good article with several salient points, thought I would ask "what's wrong with a little isolationism?" Peace through internal strength is desirable, but good fences make good neighbors and charity begins at home!

The gradual twisting of language really is one of most insidious tactics employed by the NWO Luciferians. I think we'd all like to see the traitorous Neocons gone for good. Better yet, strip them of their American citizenship and ill-gotten wealth and banish them to Israel. Let them earn their citizenship serving in a front-line IDF rifle company.

As for this next election? Is Ron Paul running as an independent? No? Well then, 'fool me once...' Don't get me wrong: I hope Gabbard is genuine and she's absolutely right to push non-interventionism...but the rest of her platform sucks. There's also the fact that she's a CFR member and avowed gun-grabber, to boot. Two HUGE red flags!

She almost strikes me as a half-assed 'Manchurian Candidate.' So, if she's elected (a big 'if' at this point) I ask myself 'what happens after the next (probably nuclear) false flag?' How quickly will she disavow her present stance on non-interventionism? How quickly and viciously will the 2nd Amendment be raped? Besides, I'm not foolish enough to believe that one person can turn the SS Deep State away from it's final disastrous course.

dunlin , 2 hours ago link

What's cfr? Duck duck gives lots of law firms.

tardpill , 2 hours ago link

council on foreign relations

tardpill , 2 hours ago link

the whos who of globalist satanists..

Sinophile , 32 minutes ago link

Mal, she is NOT a CFR member. You are misinformed.

Justapleb , 3 hours ago link

These word games were already in use looong ago. Tulsi Gabbard is using Obama's line about fighting the wrong war. She would have taken out Al Qaeda, captured Bin Laden, and put a dog leash on him. So that she could make a green economy, a new century of virtue signalling tyranny. No thanks.

Smi1ey , 3 hours ago link

Great article.

Go Tusli!

Go Caitlin!

I am Groot , 3 hours ago link

You beat me to that. Thanks for saving my breath.

Rule #1 All politcians lie

Rule #2 See Rule #1

Boogity , 3 hours ago link

Just as they did with Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Pat Buchanan, the MSM and the swamp have already effectively buried Gabbard. It's unlikely that she'll make the next debate cut as the DNC and MSM will toss her out.

All the MSM is talking about post-debates, even on Faux Noise, is Harris's race-baiting of old senile Biden.

I went to some of the so-called liberal websites and blogs and the only mention of Gabbard is in the context of her being a Putin stooge. This combined with the fact that virtually all establishment Republicans are eager to fight any war for Israel clearly shows that it will take something other than the ballot box to end Uncle Scam's endless wars.

[Jun 28, 2019] Bolton Gets Ready to Kill New START by Daniel Larison

Jun 27, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
If Bolton gets his way, New START is not long for this world :

At the same time, the administration has signaled in recent days that it plans to let the New Start treaty, negotiated by Barack Obama, expire in February 2021 rather than renew it for another five years. John R. Bolton, the president's national security adviser, who met with his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, in Jerusalem this week, said before leaving Washington that "there's no decision, but I think it's unlikely" the treaty would be renewed.

Mr. Bolton, a longtime skeptic of arms control agreements, said that New Start was flawed because it did not cover short-range tactical nuclear weapons or new Russian delivery systems. "So to extend for five years and not take these new delivery system threats into account would be malpractice," he told The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative outlet.

Like all of his complaints about arms control agreements, Bolton's criticisms of New START are made in bad faith. Opponents of New START have long pretended that they oppose the treaty because it did not cover everything imaginable, including tactical nuclear weapons, but this has always been an excuse for them to reject a treaty that they have never wanted ratified in the first place. If the concern about negotiating a treaty that covered tactical nuclear weapons were genuine, the smart thing to do would be to extend New START and then begin negotiations for a more comprehensive arms control agreement. Faulting New START for failing to include things that are by definition not going to be included in a strategic arms reduction treaty gives the game away. This is what die-hard opponents of the treaty have been doing for almost ten years, and they do it because they want to dismantle the last vestiges of arms control. The proposal to include China as part of a new treaty is another tell that the Trump administration just wants the treaty to die.

The article concludes:

Some experts suspect talk of a three-way accord is merely a feint to get rid of the New Start treaty. "If a trilateral deal is meant as a substitute or prerequisite for extending New Start, it is a poison pill, no ifs, ands or buts," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "If the president is seeking a trilateral deal as a follow-on to New Start, that's a different thing."

Knowing Bolton, it has to be a poison pill. Just as Bolton is ideologically opposed to making any deal with Iran, he is ideologically opposed to any arms control agreement that places limits on the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The "flaws" he identifies aren't really flaws that he wants to fix (and they may not be flaws at all), but excuses for trashing the agreement. He will make noises about how the current deal or treaty doesn't go far enough, but the truth is that he doesn't want any agreements to exist. In Bolton's worldview, nonproliferation and arms control agreements either give the other government too much or hamper the U.S. too much, and so he wants to destroy them all. He has had a lot of success at killing agreements and treaties that have been in the U.S. interest. Bolton has had a hand in blowing up the Agreed Framework with North Korea, abandoning the ABM Treaty, killing the INF Treaty, and reneging on the JCPOA. Unless the president can be persuaded to ignore or fire Bolton, New START will be his next victim.

If New START dies, it will be a loss for both the U.S. and Russia, it will make the world less secure, and it will make U.S.-Russian relations even worse. The stability that these treaties have provided has been important for U.S. security for almost fifty years. New START is the last of the treaties that constrain the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, and when it is gone there will be nothing to replace it for a long time. The collapse of arms control almost certainly means that the top two nuclear weapons states will expand their arsenals and put us back on the path of an insane and unwinnable arms race. Killing New START is irrational and purely destructive, and it needs to be opposed.


Taras77 a day ago

bolton is opposed to any treaty, to any agreement, whereby the other side can expect to obtain equally favorable terms-he wants the other side on their knees permanently without any expectation of compromise by the empire.
Sid Finster a day ago
I wonder how long it will take for Trump to finally figure out that Bolton and Pompeo regard him as expendable.

Whether Trump wins or loses in 2020 will not matter, as long as the neocons get what they want.

Tony 9 hours ago
John Bolton will not be satisfied until he has got us all killed.
He is an extremely dangerous man.

[Jun 28, 2019] What we should be talking about is not how to make North Korea disarm, but how to ensure the unconditional security of North Korea and how to make any country, including North Korea feel safe and protected by international law that is strictly honoured by all members of the international community

Jun 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jun 28, 2019 1:50:32 PM | 190

I'm about halfway through Putin's financial Times interview and suggest it be read by all. There is much to be gleaned from it with a view to the 2020 Election Cycle and candidate's positions. Just consider the following very small excerpt and its implications for policy formulation by candidates:

"What we should be talking about is not how to make North Korea disarm, but how to ensure the unconditional security of North Korea and how to make any country, including North Korea feel safe and protected by international law that is strictly honoured by all members of the international community . This is what we should be thinking about." [My Emphasis]

Putin's insights into Trump's 2016 election strategy, IMO, is very enlightening and essential reading as the conditions that contributed to Trump's victory have worsened under his tenure and can be used against him if wisely pursued.

[Jun 27, 2019] 2020 Democrats Must Address Our Addiction to Military Spending by Katrina vanden Heuvel

Notable quotes:
"... This month, the House Armed Services Committee advanced a $733 billion defense budget on a mostly party-line vote ..."
Jun 25, 2019 | www.thenation.com
As they take the stage for the first Democratic debates of the 2020 presidential campaign, the 20 participating candidates should be ready for one frequently asked question: How will you pay for it? Democrats often pledge to finance their most ambitious plans -- Medicare for All, debt-free college, a Green New Deal -- with tax increases on the wealthy and corporations. That is both sensible and fair. But candidates hoping to distinguish themselves in the limited time they will be allotted should also consider taking a stand against the United States' bloated defense budget.

This month, the House Armed Services Committee advanced a $733 billion defense budget on a mostly party-line vote. According to Defense News , the lack of Republican support for the bill illustrated "the stark divide in defense policy between the two parties." Yet that divide is far narrower than you might think. The bill's price tag is just $17 billion less than the $750 billion that President Trump requested ; it still was, as Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) boasted, the "largest" defense budget in history. There remains a near-universal commitment in both parties to massive defense spending -- a case of Washington bipartisanship that the country would be better off without.

A timely new report from the Center for International Policy's Sustainable Defense Task Force offers an alternative path forward. In the report, "A Sustainable Defense: More Security, Less Spending," the nonpartisan group of military and budget experts outlines a strategy that it says would save $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years without harming national-security interests. In fact, through a sober reassessment of the biggest threats to the United States in the 21st century, including climate change and cyberattacks, the proposal would keep the country safer than an outdated approach that relies on perpetual spending increases.

Read the full text of Katrina's column here .

[Jun 27, 2019] Trump has filled his White House with CFR Neocon chickenhawks

And probably, if we just impeach the Walrus of Death nothing will change . Its a freight train to war. It moves slowly at first but its hell to try and stop.
Jun 27, 2019 | www.unz.com

This awesome demonstration of American resolve was meant to be punishment for the vicious slaughter of an expensive U.S. military drone, which was peacefully invading Iranian airspace, and not at all attempting to provoke the Iranians into blowing it out of the sky with a missile so the U.S. military could "retaliate."

The military-industrial complex would never dream of doing anything like that, not even to further the destabilization and restructuring of the Greater Middle East that they've been systematically carrying out the since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, which more on that in just a moment.

[Jun 27, 2019] Thirty years of endless war have created a veritable cult of militarism within the American ruling elite, whose guiding assumption seems to be that wars can be waged without drastic global consequences, including for the United States itself."

Notable quotes:
"... A significant military attack against Iran will NOT go unanswered and if the Iranian Military destroys a US warship and kills hundreds of sailors it would unleash another major war in the Middle East igniting the entire region and possibly leading to a world war. ..."
"... "While Trump's foreign policy team -- headed by National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- 'unanimously' supported the attack, General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 'cautioned about the possible repercussions of a strike, warning that it could endanger American forces,' the Times wrote." ..."
Jun 27, 2019 | www.wsws.org

Charlotte Ruse3 days ago

"Thirty years of endless war have created a veritable cult of militarism within the American ruling elite, whose guiding assumption seems to be that wars can be waged without drastic global consequences, including for the United States itself."

The military/security surveillance state is a trillion dollar enterprise that instigates conflicts to expand its profits. Militarism works hand-in-hand with the neoliberal corporatists who deploy the military to secure natural resources, wage slaves, and geostrategic hegemony. It should be noted, that the US imperialist agenda left unhindered after the dissolution of the Soviet Union only intensified.

However, in order for the US ruling class to achieve the "ultimate goal" of unilateral hegemony in the Middle East the military must confront Iran a powerful sizable country with economic and political ties to China and Russia. This is the dilemma confronting the warmongering psychopaths
who are influenced by Israel and Saudi Arabia.

A significant military attack against Iran will NOT go unanswered and if the Iranian Military destroys a US warship and kills hundreds of sailors it would unleash another major war in the Middle East igniting the entire region and possibly leading to a world war.

What should traumatize the US population and awaken them from their hypnotic warmongering stupur created by propaganda proliferated on FOX, MSNBC, and CNN is that the United States came within minutes of launching a war whose military consequences it had NOT seriously examined.

erroll -> jet16853 days ago • edited
Some people have speculated that if the U.S. does attack Iran then Iran will launch missiles at Saudi Arabia's oil fields which will then send oil prices skyrocketing to $130 dollars a barrel.