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IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement

Beware of Americans bearing loans

Finance is war. Finance is the new kind of warfare, using finance and forced sell-offs in a new kind of battlefield

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Introduction

IMF is not the agency to help other countries with the economic development. Under neoliberalism (and that means since 80th) it became the major instrument for redistributing wealth up and enslaving countries with debt that can't be repaid.  As a tool for the redistribution it works extremely  efficiently both on local level (producing local oligarchs) and on international level -- ensuring prosperity of G7 and USA in particular.

The U.S. economy has benefited immensely from its ability to extract tribute from other nations, including the U.S. financial community's probable engineering of crises in developing nations in order to scoop up devalued assets on the cheap.  One of the most important instruments of this extraction, plunder of weaker nations, is IMF.

The standard IMF policy is to approach countries in financial crises with the same rather crude recipies that favour large Wall Street banks. In this case IMF staff acts like like vulture fund managers  rather than economists. They try to force a country with a fiscal deficit to reduce government spending, privatage industries and take on additional debt. Reducing government spending reduces aggregate demand, which in turn reduces government income, and make the deficit worse. So the country need to take more loads, inflicting more pain on the population. The reason that the IMF does this, is that it is meant to "restore confidence in the markets". But once a crisis starts, foreign investors tend to bail out anyway, so all it buys the country is a small breathing space before default.  Country is better off introducing strict capital controls and accepting the fact that speculative foreign investors are gone. It should not allow them to enter the market in the first place and focus on growth.

The other thing is the immense level of hypocrisy of the US administrations that control IMF, which forced policies on emerging markets, which it would never accept itself.

In fact, the IMF more or less took instructions from the US Treasury during the 1990s, and certainly my sense at the time was that some  IMF staffers were very frustrated at the policies that the US government forced them to follow. The point though, is that while the US government was battling the balanced budget amendment at home, on the reasonable grounds that it limited their freedom to manage demand, they were essentially enforcing a balanced budgets on the emerging markets via IMF condition for loans. They are forcing central banks to focus only on inflation. They are forcing emerging markets to open their markets, while protecting US farmers from imports.

The economic restructuring programs imposed on poor countries has benefited U.S. and other foreign investors while creating a small but powerful class of wealthy individuals (fifth column of neoliberalisation) in China, Mexico, South Korea, Ukraine, Russia, etc.

Unsustainable level of debt creates the potentially catastrophic financial situation for those countries that take IMF loads.

Debt that can't be paid back, won't be paid back. That simple idea is the key to debt enslavement of people and nations.  One of the key mechanisms is ensuring that loads to state were looted by local oligarchy, turning being eye to money laundering or, as was the case in post 1991 Russia, actively supporting money laundering as the way to decimate former opponent and drive it into vassal status.

There is a strong alliance of Western governments and local oligarchs in this dirty game with IMF serving as an enforcer of debt slavery enabling buying countries assets by transnational for penny on a dollar.     Corrupt officials burden taxpayers with unsustainable amounts of debt for unproductive, grossly overpriced projects.

The TPP and TTIP are integral initiatives in this effort of extending financial obligations, debt, and control.

This is why these corporatists and statists hate gold and silver, by the way. And why it is at the focal point of a currency war. It provides a counterweight to their monetary power. It speaks unpleasant truths. It is a safe haven and alternative, along with other attempts to supplant the IMF and the World Bank, for the rest of the world. So when you say, the Philippines deserved it, Iceland deserved it, Ireland deserved it, Africa deserves it, Jefferson County deserved it, Detroit deserved it, and now Greece deserves it, just keep in mind that some day soon they will be saying that you deserve it, because you stood by and did nothing.

Because when they are done with all the others, for whom do you think they come next? If you wish to see injustice stopped, if you wish to live up to the pledge of 'never again,' then you must stand for your fellows who are vulnerable. The economic hitmen have honed their skills among the poor and relatively defenseless, and have been coming closer to home in search of new hunting grounds and fatter spoils.

You may also find some information about the contemporary applications of these methods in The IMF's 'Tough Choices' On Greece by Jamie Galbraith.

The basic mechanism of debt enslavement

The whole mechanism of debt enslavement is polished to perfection on developing countries.

  1. Questionable projects. Often peddled by IMF. Sometimes by EU. Sometimes of home origin. In case of Greece it was basically spending big on arms   http://www.analyzegreece.gr/interviews/item/145-frank-slijper-an-insane-level-of-military-spending-led-greece-to-massive-debts-for-weapons-does-not-need The US is the major supplier of Greek arms, with the Americans supplying 42 per cent of its arms,  Germany supplying 22.7 per cent, and France 12.5 per cent of Greece's arms purchases.
  2. The country elite takes large loans for those projects or takes loans to placate the population who is sliding into neoliberal poverty/unemployment swamp of poverty and unemployment in order to survive politically.
  3. Part of the money is immediately stolen by local neoliberal oligarchy (which profess "greed is good" religion with probably more enthusiasm then their counterparts) and quickly repatriated to Western banks.
  4. The rest is partially wasted due to various factors including mismanagement, nepotism, the fact that equipment and often materials were bought from the country that gave the loan at inflated prices.
  5. The net result of the project is growth of the debt.
  6. Bank crisis
  7. Conversion of private loans into state debt (according to standard neoliberalism mechanism of wealth redistribution "appropriate gains, shift losses to public")
  8. Austerity regime is enforced which guarantees that this condition is a permanent one.
  9. The country became a cheap supplier of the raw materials and workforce to G7.

 

 Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Here are some relevant Amazon reviews of the book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man  that discusses IMF policies since 1980th.

gordon macgregoron May 2, 2015

IMF forced lending to poor countries of sums far in excess of their needs ...

Absolutely fascinating, pulling back the veil of the inner workings of the IMF as it does. Confirms a lot of things people have long suspected and been shouted down for voicing.

Shows the IMF as an organization bent on capturing the resources of countries around the world via various highly unethical means. e.g forced lending to poor countries of sums far in excess of their needs or means, for inappropriate purposes, leading to big profits for Western firms, the beggaring of the recipient nations, and forced capture of natural resources by large corporations. Surprising that the IMF has not been subject to deep investigation by the UN after this expose.

johnnyjohnnyon April 25, 2015

learn what's going on. read this book. gives a clue to MONSANTO's model of world domination

truly a remarkable book that has been proven with events and facts that have come out since the book was written back in the day.

the model of economic control, back in the good ole days when the International Monetary Fund & U.S. congressionally funded loans to third world countries was the way to pull the strings, and get our largest corporations huge projects that third worlders didn't need and couldn't pay for...but brought the bucks home.

if you ever had a suspicion about recent wars, the billion$ they brought to large contractors, and the reason for those interventions, go back to the early days of this model of international control from someone who was there. and yes, halliburton (aka Kellogg Brown and Root back then) was involved.

James Kenney on April 1, 2015

Should I simply take him at his own word, that he is a liar?

This is a very believable book on a topic of vital importance to the world today: the extent to which "economic development aid" is designed not to benefit the target country, but to ensnare it into the global culture as a debtor nation with assets never designed to be profitable, but merely to serve as an "economic gateway drug".

Somehow, though, while the book is eminently readable, and a bit unnerving, I just couldn't shake off a feeling that I was being "had", by Mr. John Perkins. Look at the number of reviews here! Clearly, this book touched a nerve...but if the author is as unscrupulous as he claims to be (or to have been, since he also claims to have experienced a remarkable conversion, like Paul on the road to Damascus), a fundamental question arises: why should we believe him?

This question is even more essential, since many of us who would even read such a book believe in our hearts that, yes, American capitalism, aided by the IMF, and the World Bank, is seeking to enslave the world. Of course! It's almost a given, an article of faith. No wonder the rest of the world hates us!

I too felt the lure of Perkins' mesmerizing description of an unspoken conspiracy to take over the world by bankrupting it. Certainly, the events of 2008 and 2009 showed the moral bankruptcy of the Big Banks and those who cynically packaged sliced and diced debt into impossible to understand financial instruments, then peddled them to school boards and public pension plans.

Now that I come to review the book, though, I almost feel as if I should wash my hands first. Just picking it up, seeing its jaunty cover, remembering its schmaltzy "spy coming in from the cold" ending, I feel...taken in. I don't know why I feel that way, but the feeling is definitely there. There is something exploitive about this book, as if the author had not changed his skin, only his target: as if now, instead of ensnaring struggling nations, he is ensnaring readers all too willing to believe the worst about ourselves and the economic system in which we too are ensnared.

Even the title sounds phony. Perkins may well be right, he may well be telling it like it is, he may have become a champion bravely taking on a system he helped create, a modern David fighting an economic Goliath. Heavens knows, after stories of regulators sniffing cocaine off a toaster oven with those they are supposed to be regulating, nothing seems unbelievable, and in a sense this book sounds almost inevitable, natural, and important.

It may be. But one of the things I was taught as a historian, is to consider your sources, and the chief question is, how credible are they? When a self-proclaimed liar, swindler and cheat tells me the "system is rigged", should I believe him? Or should I simply take him at his own word, that he is a liar?

I gave this ugly tale 4 stars simply for readability. Fact or fiction, it is certainly that: readable.

DH Koester on March 24, 2015

Truth Enslaves

Well, well, well---another piece to the puzzle as to what constitutes the United States of America!

Besides the curse of blood-stained hands from endless wars of aggression there is another sinister side to this country's quest for empire and world domination--the enslavement of countries and peoples through cleverly devised debt imposition--the same method our government uses on its own people. This debt imposition on foreign countries serves to enrich foreign rulers and US corporations while impoverishing the common people.

Perkins was one of the people--a cog in the wheel --that made it all possible and when his conscience finally got the better of him he wrote a book about it.
Students will not read about these economic hit men ion any American textbook. Nor will they, as adults, read about it in any periodical or hear about it on any newscast. Politicians will not tell them about it nor will their religious leaders. Yet there is this book by John Perkins describing the process in detail. But those in power--those responsible for this immoral conduct--will allow it to be published and made available to the public without fear of reprisal or consequences--just as they have the countless other books that have spoken truth to power detailing corruption, war-making and deceit by those in the highest offices.

Why?? Because the average citizen in this country doesn't care one iota about anything that he perceives as not directly affecting the welfare of himself or his family. That plus the fact that very few people will ever hear of or read this book. People don't read any more--they are plugged into their machines of instant gratification and get the bulk of what they think is news from inane sources such as the Letterman show. Even if some do read it, they will soon forget and move on--continuing with their mundane lives completely oblivious to the world that is suffering and burning outside their doors.

And me?? I know the truth--but even those who know the truth, they are powerless. There is nothing that can be done to stop the insanity. It is like death---Death eventually smiles at us all and the best a man can do is smile back.

I give this book 5 Stars not because it was particularly well written but because it informs in a world desperately in need of being informed. Read it if you will but with the understanding and full knowledge that the truth shall not set you free.

"And There I Was" by DH Koester

David Lupo "David Lupo" on February 21, 2015

Do you wonder why the world hates us? Read this book.

When I was in college, I took another course after Sociology 101, called Social Issues. It was a great course, eye-opening, but sad, because I learned about how skewed the world really is today. There were discussions on the Ford Pinto death-trap story, and stories about how grocery stores sell third-rate products at high prices, to keep the poor poor. There were other stories about how the corporation wields great power over the average citizen. I went to college in the 80s, long after we were told lies about the Great Oil Shortage in the 70s, when oil companies made a killing.

The book by John Perkins gives the historical background of how our government, working with the corporation has done some nasty things in recent decades to places around the globe. Economic Hit Men, and those in league with them have played national leaders against their people for the great financial gain that the US reaps. The corporation not only wields great power over the US citizen; it seeks this same control in the world. John Perkins highlights how this has played out in his corporate life, to the people that he knew.

I also notice that despite the harm he caused as an EHM, he escapes any sort of punishment, since he is spilling the beans on how the game is played, and has been played across the globe. That was a drawback. But today he is trying to do better things for the good of humanity, and that has to count for something.

White Rabbiton January 7, 2015

soft-minded lola granola platitudes

This book can be summarized in one sentence: America "forces" loans on third world countries based on inflated projections of resulting economic growth, that we know the recipient country will never be able to repay.

we then leverage their debt to strong-arm collateral benefits such as construction and service contracts (for the industry they got loans to build) or use their land for military bases, thereby increasing and securing our growing empire.

Perkins says this on every page of his 220 page book.

there is NO analysis or explanation of why development is automatically bad, and preserving rain forests and shaman lifestyles is automatically good, and even if it is good, why it is our problem, as a sovereign nation, to devote our resources to preserving other peoples' lifestyles. i am not asserting that industrial development is automatically "good," but there is simply no thoughtful analysis of the issues at all. Nor is there any nuts-and-bolts explanations of how he structured the economic deals that are supposedly so wicked.

There is just a lot of soft-minded liberal clap-trap about "using less oil; reading a book instead of going shopping; "dreaming" the world into existence; and -- you guessed it -- "shapeshifting." While I doubt any reader of a non-fiction book without pictures with "economic" in the title thinks that industrial development is an unmitigated boon, there have always been significant discrepancies in wealth throughout history, in every culture, country, and time, and there has always been tension (& disruption) in "progress" in any form.

Perhaps there are reasons for this besides the greed and evil of white european males, especially since the "haves" have not always been white or European (and sometimes not even male). Even (or especially) in underdeveloped countries, there are LOTS of people who would prefer medicine and basic sanitation to relying on shamanistic rain dances when their children are sick.

There are compelling and undeniable reasons why manual workers get paid less than highly specialized ones, and simply reiterating Marx's Communist Manifesto is not convincing to any thinking person, or to anyone who clawed their way out of those countries that tried to implement his pipe dream. Reminds me of the rebels' kvetching in Monty Python's Life of Brian: "Well, except for the roads, and the aqueducts, and education, and bread, and medicine, and peace, and security, what else have the Romans done for us?"

 A. Kumaron January 1, 2015

Read it to get a general idea of aid programs but discard personal anecdotes as fiction

The book is clearly a combination of fact and fiction. The facts are based on the well known criticisms of the IMF and World Bank and how they have destroyed various countries. The fiction part is where the author speaks of personal experiences.

Two points give away the fact that the book is semi-fiction. The first is that the author has only used criticisms that were already made on the internet at the time of publication of the book. The second is that the author subconsciously projects his political biases based on his country's Republican vs. Democrat politics and selectively attacks Republicans while letting off the Democrats. Thus, Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes are villains while Jimmy Carter is a hero and American interference in foreign economies during the Clinton era is completely missing from the book. This despite the fact that the era of globalization and the creation of WTO and foisting the American agenda through WTO happened during the Clinton regime and Jimmy Carter started the Iran-Iraq war. Clinton was also responsible for the war on Yugoslavia which lasted all through the 1990s.

The author's list of heroes is also selective and are Communists from Latin America. He is also selective in his list of villains. Bechtel and Halliburton come in for criticism just like on the internet. And just like on the internet, there is no criticism of defense contractors whose executives support the Democratic Party. So you won't see much criticism of Raytheon or Northrop Grumman.

Most of the criticism of the aid programs was well known especially in Latin America and India. In 2000, the combination of the Seattle protests against WTO and the fact that the internet was new made the information become popular. The author seems to have picked up on that data and written a book. There is also a touch of self-delusion that it is the White man's burden to save the world. Whether it is Indonesia or Panama, there is always a character in the book who appeals to the White hero and says he will show him a side of the country that only the locals have access to and that the Whites must somehow fix it. In no country do the locals lack self-respect that they will actually indulge in such behavior.

That said, writing a first person account is an innovative idea and the author is not wrong in highlighting the true nature of aid programs. The book is successful in conveying the general idea that aid programs exist to help the American corporations. The public needs to know this sort of information and the author has done a good job at it.

Margaret M. Pratton December 14, 2014

It's amazing he's still alive to tell his tale

It's amazing he's still alive to tell his tale! John Perkins is quite frank about how he became an 'economic hit man', producing inflated optimistic economic data to persuade leaders in foreign countries to invest in building up their infrastructure (think dams, etc.) through loans they will never be able to pay back, how US industries profit through this, and his own complicity for quite a few years.

And then his slow change of heart when he began to face the actual effect of his contribution to the downward spiral of these countries. It's a real eye-opener. And yes, it does matter who's President.

Malcolm McIntyre, on October 16, 2014

Groundbreaking, although naive on the role of conspiracy

BOOK REVIEW: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins

“Economic hit men are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars [through the perversion of foreign aid funds … using] fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalisation.”

This book is a decade old and the activities that Perkins exposes have become widely known since 2004, for which his work shares much of the credit. It remains a valuable primer for anyone seeking to understand current international events; and will reward greatly even those already aware of the casual criminality of the U.S.’s political, financial and business elites.

Perkins’ career as an economic hit man (EHM) began in 1971 and ended in 1980, after his conscience prevailed. It was sandwiched between a Peace Corps stint in the jungles of South America and a post-EHM career which included establishing a successful alternative energy company. He wrote the passage at the head of this review in 1982, but was persuaded not to go ahead with the book at that time. Four more delays were occasioned by threats or bribes.

So, how does an Economic Hit Man operate? “We are an elite group of men and women who utilize international financial organisations to foment conditions that make other nations subservient to the corporatocracy running our biggest corporations, our government, and our banks. Like our counterparts in the Mafia, EHMs provide favors. These take the form of loans to develop infrastructure – electric generating plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks.

“A condition of such loans is that engineering and construction companies from our own country must build all these projects. In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston, or San Francisco.

“Despite the fact that the money is returned almost immediately to corporations that are members of the corporatocracy (the creditor), the recipient country is required to pay it all back, principal plus interest. If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years. When this happens, then like the Mafia we demand our pound of flesh.

“This often includes one or more of the following: control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases, or access to precious resources such as oil or the Panama Canal. Of course, the debtor still owes us the money – and another country is added to our global empire.”

Perkins is not anti-American, but rather one of the diminishing remnant of Americans who believe the U.S. Constitution still means something. “The longer version [of why he finally wrote the book] relates to my dedication to the country where I was raised, to my love of the ideals expressed by our Founding Fathers, to my deep commitment to the American republic that today promises ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ for all people, everywhere, and to my determination after 9/11 not to sit idly by any longer while EHMs turn that republic into a global empire.”

Having finally got around to reading Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, I will certainly be following up with his 2008 The Secret History of the American Empire: The Truth About Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and How to Change the World and 2011’s Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man reveals why the global economy imploded – and how to fix it. One area of interest will be whether his understanding of conspiracy – or, more accurately in terms of Confessions, lack of conspiracy – has changed.

“Some would blame our current problems on an organised conspiracy. I wish it were so simple. Members of a conspiracy can be rooted out and brought to justice,” he says in the preface. “This system, however, is fuelled by something far more dangerous than conspiracy. It is driven not by a small band of men but by a concept that has become accepted as gospel: the idea that all economic growth benefits humankind and that the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits.”

This idea of the concept of benefit for humankind driving the agenda is a somewhat naïve construction. The reality is that there is a relatively small band of psychopathic men (more women in the gang these days and they are no prettier) driving the agenda. The “benefit for mankind” schtick is merely one of the concepts used in their propaganda.

“The corporatocracy is not a conspiracy, but its members do endorse common values and goals,” Perkins says, adding shortly after: “People like me are paid outrageously high salaries to do the system’s bidding. If we falter, a more malicious form of hit man, the jackal, steps to the plate. And if the jackal fails, then the job falls to the military.”

The United States has 40,000 troops in Germany and 50,000 in Japan – they are still occupied countries, more than half a century after World War 2. The U.S. has more than 600 overseas bases. Wikipedia can usually be relied upon in simple matters such as this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_deployments although not in more sensitive matters which attract hasbara and intelligence operatives to the editing function. Also worth a read are http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-worldwide-network-of-us-military-bases/5564 and http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/sep/14/ron-paul/ron-paul-says-us-has-military-personnel-130-nation/

Other than the EHM books mentioned so far, Perkins has written several about spiritual/indigenous matters, based on his experiences before and after his Hit Man service. They are listed at his web site http://www.johnperkins.org/books/

I found out more than I really wanted to know.

CWOK: Ex-Navy, on October 15, 2014

Dubious " Confessions "...

I just finished reading, " Confessions of an Economic Hit Man ", by John Perkins, in which the author recounts his alleged career as an ` Economic Hit Man ` (He uses the abbreviation ` EHM `) for a major corporation, exploiting the resources and people of under-developed countries for the financial gain of his company, with the support, or at least acquiescence, of the US Government, from the early 1970's until after the SEP 11 2001, when he finally wrote a book which includes descriptions about alleged ' black 'operations that occurred all over the world, including: Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, Panama, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, & Colombia.

To be clear, I am NOT making a judgment as to the ultimate truth regarding all of the historical events referenced in Perkins's book, or all the allegations surrounding them.

However, I myself have experience in Investigative and Intelligence Work, and so my focus is Perkins's representation that he has First-Hand Knowledge of these historical events himself, and how this representation affects his own credibility:

* Perkins asserts that the Central Intelligence Agency was responsible for the deaths of at least two Latin-American leaders, " ...in a series of CIA Assassinations... (p. 161), during the Reagan-Bush Administrations of the 1980's.

Yet his source for this claim is John Dean's 1973 Watergate testimony, despite the fact that this testimony occurred BEFORE either Reagan or Bush took office (George H.W. Bush did serve under then President Nixon, but did not become head of the CIA until after Nixon left office, and Perkins presents ZERO evidence that Bush himself was ever involved in any such plot.)

Moreover, Perkins does not state anywhere in " Confessions " that he ever had any direct contact with the CIA at any time at all, & so what First-Hand Knowledge of the CIA's activities could Perkins possibly have?

* Perkins repeatedly-and frustratingly-makes vague, unattributed, & unverifiable statements such as:

 " ...The EHM presence was very strong in Baghdad during the 1980's... "

* Yet despite both the gravity, and the number, of Perkins's claims, he still provides ZERO documentation of his own to corroborate any of them (merely a copy of his professional resume from the 1970's).

Of the MANY books and accounts that I have read involving the topic of international intrigue, this is the ONLY one with such a glaring omission.

Perkins instead lists his sources as previously written books and articles from news magazines, which he appears to have had no personal involvement with himself.

* Perhaps most telling of all, Perkins states how early on in his career as an EHM, he felt guilty about the ` Corrupt ` system that he was a part of.

Yet despite this supposed guilt, he STAYED in that ` Corrupt ` system, AND accepted all the benefits that came with it; Money, Women, Perks, Etc., AND stayed silent about it, for 30 years!

Perkins states his reasons/justifications/rationalizations/excuses as to why he STAYED in that ` Corrupt ` system, AND accepted all the benefits that came with it; Money, Women, Perks, Etc., AND stayed silent about it, for 30 years.

But, regardless, he nevertheless STAYED in that ` Corrupt ` system, AND accepted all the benefits that came with it; Money, Women, Perks, Etc., AND stayed silent about it, for 30 years!

This becomes all the more troubling because, according to Perkins's own statistics, 24,000 people die each day due to hunger (P. 192)!

IF this is true, then Perkins himself took all that blood-money, for all those years, while knowingly and silently acquiescing to the deaths of BILLIONS of people!!!

Therefore, based on my own professional experience in Investigative and Intelligence Work, it is my opinion that Perkins has NOT established that he is credible.

Until he does so, I regard Perkins's book not as a true autobiography, but rather an historical novel, in which Perkins uses some actual events as the bare bones, on which he adds a LOT of fiction.

MCK

Amazon Customer, on September 11, 2014

Americorp and the dictatorship kept us illiterate and very poor. We also lost many young lives fighting this ...

I am from Nicaragua and breathed and lived the consequences of the acts of these Economic Hit Men. We had a dictatorship put in place by the US, Inc.on my country for more than 40 years.

'Americorp" had the full access to our resources, one of them gold, we never saw the benefits of this gold. Americorp and the dictatorship kept us illiterate and very poor. We also lost many young lives fighting this dictatorship because it refused to give us the choice of electing who we wanted to lead us. It was until 1979 when the USA finally gave up supporting the dictatorship, not because of our lost of lives but because the dictator became an embarrassment to US, Inc. just like Noriega, Saddam, etc.

Very true though is the fact that the opposition was mostly supported by the USSR and Cuba.

 Also very true is that the Sandinistas did not believe in property rights and believe everything belongs to the State. we went from Satan's arms to the Devil's bed.

Sucks being a poor underdeveloped nation with vultures waiting to pounce around you and tear out your eyes. Love the American People, hate its foreign policy which they are mostly kept blinded by propaganda.

Prissyon July 7, 2014

The Ugly Truth of Corporate America and Government's incestuous plan for Globalization

I've meant to read this book for years...the irony is I downloaded on Kindle while in Latin America and read it all the way through. I always suspected (from my own experience spending time on the Hill, knowing journalists, bankers, etc) this stuff went on. But Perkins fills in all the missing pieces.

I'm literally sick that I have a degree in American criminal justice and this book goes against everything I was taught of how "this country" operates. It may have come as a shock to have the dirty details to me, but my Latin American friends have known these empire building ways all along, because they've lived with it all of their lives.

I hope one thing people take away from this book are Perkins suggestions to begin at the grass roots level (school boards, county commissioners, etc) to change the way we do business and speak out when you know the truth. This is the raw, ugly truth, dear readers. I'm still attempting to digest what I know in my heart of hearts is that I have been fighting corruption of those who sugar coat it and when its pointed out, will do everything they can to disparage your credibility, no matter how impeccable it is or how well you present it. Hiring a private company to get around government checks and balances (not that there are that many) only makes sense from a globalists point of view.

Don't sit there-DO something, anything...I know- I sat out of the fray for a long time, it IS easier. But that's the coward's way out and the founding father's were anything but that. Remember, we are supposed to be the home of the brave. Are you right or left? I'd rather be active, accurate and correct...

Case of Greece

Greece story is another classic of neoliberal debt enslavement: first corrupt neoliberal government (in case of Greece successive governments) got loans that were partially stolen, partially wasted, enriching top 1% of the country and improving living conditions of the top 20%.  Then those loans from private banks were converted into public debt by attempt to save insolvent banks. And when the next wave of crisis occurred due to Greece inability to service those (now state) loans without drastic reduction of standard of living of most of the population IMF acts as enforcer. It now essentially dictates what should be done in Greece economy. No matter if previous recommendation  led to disastrous consequences. 

European neoliberal elite headed by Merkel is threatening to expel Greece from the Euro zone, scaring voters. It is very important to understand that anti-crisis policies have two main approaches – cyclical and counter-cyclical. The neo-liberals response is always "only wellbeing of banks matters"

Neoliberals key postulate is that the "invisible hand" of the market works better than government regulation, then the government should allow the market to work independently. The only think government should do is to balance the budget by slashing spending synchronously with falling revenues. Which led in cas of Greece to 60% unemployment among young people.

In other word "the invisible hand" does not work and instead country is sliding in real debt slavery when load became permagreen and interest will be paid forever.  Forecasts of neoliberal institutions such as IMF that austerity will allow Greece to pay debts, were not justified.

Countercyclical stabilization policy is based on the opposite basis: with the reduction of budget revenues not need to cut spending in order to reduce the current deficit, but rather to increase them, thereby increasing the tax base, and along with receiving political support from the population. This should be done considering all the risks carefully assessing the consequences. The trouble is that in specific Greek terms it also doesn't work very well.

Even of part of the debt was written off by the creditors, if you can't grow the real economy, the budget crisis will be renewed. But the Greek industry was killed by accession to the EU. It was decided by EU brass that the specialization of southern Europe within Europe United should be the services sector. If this was somehow forgotten that in services industries (primarily tourism) tax collection is much lower than in industry and agriculture. Demands of the "Troika" to increase taxes on the tourism industry will lead to the withdrawal of this sector into the shadows, or to the ruin of a vast number of small and medium enterprises. If you go with the demands of Brussels and reduce subsidies to agriculture (and this was one of the main requirements of the latest Memorandum of the Troika) the destruction of the economy will be complete.

And while the entire Greek economy is suffering from a terrible level of unemployment, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the borders are open, so Greeks can compete for low paid jobs in Germany. In other words, Greece has to spend money on the education of engineers, scientists and other high-demand in the EU professionals, but to find word they need  have to go to Germany and most end working as janitors and other low paid jobs. Greece which spend a lot of public money to train those professionals will be left our, and all the benefits from this  get more developed countries. This is actually explicit policy of the EU, which consider Southern countries to be EU "village".

Increase of exports in the current circumstances is a very difficult undertaking. It is impossible to increase export to Russia where there is some space for Greek products, as the EU has declared sanctions. That means that he crisis is expanding, and within the framework imposed on Greece anti-crisis policy  there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Cuts in public expenditure will inevitably lead to a reduction in domestic demand for the products of national industry and national agriculture. Besides falling living standards, the reduction of pensions and salaries in the public sector will be a big hit for the most vulnerable part of the population: two-thirds of Greek pensioners are already living below the poverty line.

Five months of fruitless negotiations, a new government understood that Greek people will not forgive the capitulation to EU demands.  Another "cannibalistic" austerity program. So it  announced the referendum on the adoption of the requirements of the Troika, shifting the responsibility for making decisions to ordinary Greeks. Still not very clear whether the Cabinet is really to declare a default, or this  is only a means of pressure on the Troika. In the end, in politics the most important things is to remain in power and if Greeks vote Yes to EU demands that the end of the current government.  What will happen to the country next is unclear. Probably the parties that brought the country to the current collapse (PASOK and New democracy) will return to power helped by Brussels neoliberals, who can throw a bone to them in a form of some minor compromises, compromise to which they would never agree with the current government, which is considered to be "hostile" by neoliberal stooges which now want the regime change in Greece.

But the mere decision to go the referendum caused in shakeup and hysteria in all centers of neoliberal power such as Brussels, Berlin and Washington. However, we cannot exclude that such a reaction is a mean to increase the pressure on Tsipras.

As Neil Irwin's in his at The Upshot  column (NYT, June 28, 2015) noted
Greek leaders think the offer on the table from European governments and the International Monetary Fund is lousy, requiring still more pension cuts and tax increases in a depressed economy, and intend to throw to voters the question of whether to accept it.

spartacus, July 1, 2015 at 1:26 pm

I think things are a little more complicated than that. According to the preliminary report of the commission set up by the Greek government to look into the origins of this debt, it appears that a big chunk of it is a consequence of the government stepping in to recapitalize troubled banks. Then the report also mentions excessive and unjustified military spending, loss of tax revenues due to illicit capital outflows. The report can be accessed via this link:

http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/en/Enimerosi/Grafeio-Typou/Deltia-Typou/?press=f660f87e-9410-414c-9476-a4bb016e6c48

The problem is that after so much austerity the debt now stands at 177% of GDP, higher than ever, because GDP took a little bit of a nosedive. The Troika recipe for success was crap.

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/greece/gdp

The “lazy Greek” line is just that. A line peddled by the MSM in order to demonize the Greek people, as opposed to the “hard working” Germans. If you look at the OECD statistic provided by the following link, you will see that, in reality, the exact opposite is true.

http://stats.oecd.org/index.aspx?DataSetCode=ANHRS

This is not about lavish lifestyle. Is about starvation, homelessness and suicide.

http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/1/e005619

kirill says:

July 1, 2015 at 2:28 pm

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-real-causes-of-the-catastrophic-crisis-in-greece-and-the-left/5365013

Greece was screwed over by foremost the Germans. The whole German shtick of pretending to have “fed Greece” is grotesque obscenity.

Wikipedia on Greek government-debt crisis

Greek government-debt crisis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Charges of hypocrisy

Hypocrisy has been alleged on multiple bases. "Germany is coming across like a know-it-all in the debate over aid for Greece", commented Der Spiegel, while its own government did not achieve a budget surplus during the era of 1970 to 2011, although a budget surplus indeed was achieved by Germany in all three subsequent years (2012–2014). A Bloomberg editorial, which also concluded that "Europe's taxpayers have provided as much financial support to Germany as they have to Greece", described the German role and posture in the Greek crisis thus:

In the millions of words written about Europe's debt crisis, Germany is typically cast as the responsible adult and Greece as the profligate child. Prudent Germany, the narrative goes, is loath to bail out freeloading Greece, which borrowed more than it could afford and now must suffer the consequences. [… But] irresponsible borrowers can't exist without irresponsible lenders. Germany's banks were Greece's enablers.

German economic historian Albrecht Ritschl describes his country as "king when it comes to debt. Calculated based on the amount of losses compared to economic performance, Germany was the biggest debt transgressor of the 20th century." Despite calling for the Greeks to adhere to fiscal responsibility, and although Germany's tax revenues are at a record high, with the interest it has to pay on new debt at close to zero, Germany still missed its own cost-cutting targets in 2011, and also fell behind on its goals for 2012.

There have been widespread accusations that Greeks are lazy, but analysis of OECD data shows that the average Greek worker puts in 50% more hours per year than a typical German counterpart, and the average retirement age of a Greek is, at 61.7 years, older than that of a German.

US economist Mark Weisbrot has also noted that while the eurozone giant's post-crisis recovery has been touted as an example of an economy of a country that "made the short-term sacrifices necessary for long-term success", Germany did not apply to its economy the harsh pro-cyclical austerity measures that are being imposed on countries like Greece,[151] In addition, he noted that Germany did not lay off hundreds of thousands of its workers despite a decline in output in its economy but reduced the number of working hours to keep them employed, at the same time as Greece and other countries were pressured to adopt measures to make it easier for employers to lay off workers. Weisbrot concludes that the German recovery provides no evidence that the problems created by the use of a single currency in the eurozone can be solved by imposing "self-destructive" pro-cyclical policies as has been done in Greece and elsewhere.

Arms sales are another fountainhead for allegations of hypocrisy. Dimitris Papadimoulis, a Greek MP with the Coalition of the Radical Left party:

If there is one country that has benefited from the huge amounts Greece spends on defence it is Germany. Just under 15% of Germany's total arms exports are made to Greece, its biggest market in Europe. Greece has paid over €2bn for submarines that proved to be faulty and which it doesn't even need. It owes another €1bn as part of the deal. That's three times the amount Athens was asked to make in additional pension cuts to secure its latest EU aid package. […] Well after the economic crisis had begun, Germany and France were trying to seal lucrative weapons deals even as they were pushing us to make deep cuts in areas like health. […] There's a level of hypocrisy here that is hard to miss. Corruption in Greece is frequently singled out as a cause for waste but at the same time companies like Ferrostaal and Siemens are pioneers in the practice. A big part of our defence spending is bound up with bribes, black money that funds the [mainstream] political class in a nation where governments have got away with it by long playing on peoples' fears.

Thus allegations of hypocrisy could be made towards both sides: Germany complains of Greek corruption, yet the arms sales meant that the trade with Greece became synonymous with high-level bribery and corruption; former defence minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos was gaoled in April 2012 ahead of his trial on charges of accepting an €8m bribe from Germany company Ferrostaal. In 2000, the current German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, was forced to resign after personally accepting a "donation" (100,000 Deutsche Mark, in cash) from a fugitive weapons dealer, Karlheinz Schreiber.

Another is German complaints about tax evasion by moneyed Greeks. "Germans stashing cash in Switzerland to avoid tax could sleep easy" after summer 2011, when "the German government […] initialled a beggar-thy-neighbour deal that undermine[d] years of diplomatic work to penetrate Switzerland's globally corrosive banking secrecy." Nevertheless, Germans with Swiss bank accounts were so worried, so intent on avoiding paying tax, that some took to cross-dressing, wearing incontinence diapers, and other ruses to try and smuggle their money over the Swiss–German border and so avoid paying their dues to the German taxman. Aside from these unusual tax-evasion techniques, Germany has a history of massive tax evasion: a 1993 ZEW estimate of levels of income-tax avoidance in West Germany in the early 1980s was forced to conclude that "tax loss [in the FDR] exceeds estimates for other countries by orders of magnitude." (The study even excluded the wealthiest 2% of the population, where tax evasion is at its worst). A 2011 study noted that, since the 1990s, the "effective average tax rates for the German super rich have fallen by about a third, with major reductions occurring in the wake of the personal income tax reform of 2001–2005."

Alleged pursuit of national self-interest[edit]

Listen to many European leaders—especially, but by no means only, the Germans—and you'd think that their continent's troubles are a simple morality tale of debt and punishment: Governments borrowed too much, now they're paying the price, and fiscal austerity is the only answer.

"An Impeccable Disaster"
Paul Krugman, 5 November 2013

Since the euro came into circulation in 2002—a time when the country was suffering slow growth and high unemployment—Germany's export performance, coupled with sustained pressure for moderate wage increases (German wages increased more slowly than those of any other eurozone nation) and rapidly rising wage increases elsewhere, provided its exporters with a competitive advantage that resulted in German domination of trade and capital flows within the currency bloc. As noted by Paul De Grauwe in his leading text on monetary union, however, one must "hav[e] homogenous preferences about inflation in order to have a smoothly functioning monetary union." Thus Germany broke what the Levy Economics Institute has called "the golden rule of a monetary union" when it jettisoned a common inflation rate.

The violation of this golden rule led to dire imbalances within the eurozone, though they suited Germany well: the country's total export trade value nearly tripled between 2000 and 2007, and though a significant proportion of this is accounted for by trade with China, Germany's trade surplus with the rest of the EU grew from €46.4 bn to €126.5 bn during those seven years. Germany's bilateral trade surpluses with the peripheral countries are especially revealing: between 2000 and 2007, Greece's annual trade deficit with Germany nearly doubled, from €3 bn to €5.5 bn; Italy's more than doubled, from €9.6 bn to €19.6 bn; Spain's well over doubled, from €11 bn to €27.2 bn; and Portugal's more than quadrupled, from €1 bn to €4.2 bn. German banks played an important role in supplying the credit that drove wage increases in peripheral eurozone countries like Greece, which in turn produced this divergence in competitiveness and trade surpluses between Germany and these same eurozone members.

Germans see their government finances and trade competitiveness as an example to be followed by Greece, Portugal and other troubled countries in Europe, but the problem is more than simply a question of southern European countries emulating Germany. Dealing with debt via domestic austerity and a move toward trade surpluses is very difficult without the option of devaluing your currency, and Greece cannot devalue because it is chained to the euro. Roberto Perotti of Bocconi University has also shown that on the rare occasions when austerity and expansion coincide, the coincidence is almost always attributable to rising exports associated with currency depreciation. As can be seen from the case of China and the US, however, where China has had the yuan pegged to the dollar, it is possible to have an effective devaluation in situations where formal devaluation cannot occur, and that is by having the inflation rates of two countries diverge. If inflation in Germany is higher than in Greece and other struggling countries, then the real effective exchange rate will move in the strugglers' favour despite the shared currency. Trade between the two can then rebalance, aiding recovery, as Greek products become cheaper. Paul Krugman estimated that Spain and other peripherals would need to reduce their 2012 price-levels relative to Germany by around 20 percent to become competitive again:

If Germany had 4 percent inflation, they could do that over 5 years with stable prices in the periphery—which would imply an overall eurozone inflation rate of something like 3 percent. But if Germany is going to have only 1 percent inflation, we're talking about massive deflation in the periphery, which is both hard (probably impossible) as a macroeconomic proposition, and would greatly magnify the debt burden. This is a recipe for failure, and collapse.

This view, that German deficits are a crucial factor in assisting eurozone recovery, is shared by leading economics commentators,[171] by the OECD, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Standard & Poor's, the European Commission, and the IMF. The Americans, too, asked Germany, repeatedly and heatedly, to loosen fiscal policy, though without success.[181] This failure led to the US taking a more high-powered tack: for the first time, the Treasury Department, in its semi-annual currency report for October 2013, singled out Germany as the leading obstacle to economic recovery in Europe.

Therefore, it is argued, the problem is Germany continuing to shut off this adjustment mechanism. "The counterpart to Germany living within its means is that others are living beyond their means", agreed Philip Whyte, senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform. "So if Germany is worried about the fact that other countries are sinking further into debt, it should be worried about the size of its trade surpluses, but it isn't."

This chorus of criticism, however, germinates in the very poorest of soil because, in October 2012, Germany chose to legislate against the very possibility of stimulus spending, "by passing a balanced budget law that requires the government to run near-zero structural deficits indefinitely." OECD projections of relative export prices—a measure of competitiveness—showed Germany beating all euro zone members except for crisis-hit Spain and Ireland for 2012, with the lead only widening in subsequent years.

Even with such policies, Greece and other countries would have faced years of hard times, but at least there would be some hope of recovery. During 2012, it seemed as though the status quo was beginning to change as France began to challenge German policy, and even Christine Lagarde called for Greece to at least be given more time to meet bailout targets. Further criticism mounted in 2013: a leaked version of a text from French president Francois Hollande's Socialist Party openly attacked "German austerity" and the "egoistic intransigence of Mrs Merkel"; Manuel Barroso warned that austerity had "reached its limits"; EU employment chief Laszlo Andor called for a radical change in EU crisis strategy—"If there is no growth, I don't see how countries can cut their debt levels"—and criticised what he described as the German practice of "wage dumping" within the eurozone to gain larger export surpluses; and Heiner Flassbeck (a former German vice finance minister) and economist Costas Lapavitsas charged that the euro had "allowed Germany to 'beggar its neighbours', while also providing the mechanisms and the ideology for imposing austerity on the continent".

Battered by criticism, the European Commission finally decided that "something more" was needed in addition to austerity policies for peripheral countries like Greece. "Something more" was announced to be structural reforms—things like making it easier for companies to sack workers—but such reforms have been there from the very beginning, leading Dani Rodrik to dismiss the EC's idea as "merely old wine in a new bottle." Indeed, Rodrik noted that with demand gutted by austerity, all structural reforms have achieved, and would continue to achieve, is pumping up unemployment (further reducing demand), since fired workers are not going to be re-employed elsewhere. Rodrik suggested the ECB might like to try out a higher inflation target, and that Germany might like to allow increased demand, higher inflation, and to accept its banks taking losses on their reckless lending to Greece. That, however, "assumes that Germans can embrace a different narrative about the nature of the crisis. And that means that German leaders must portray the crisis not as a morality play pitting lazy, profligate southerners against hard-working, frugal northerners, but as a crisis of interdependence in an economic (and nascent political) union. Germans must play as big a role in resolving the crisis as they did in instigating it." Paul Krugman described talk of structural reform as "an excuse for not facing up to the reality of macroeconomic disaster, and a way to avoid discussing the responsibility of Germany and the ECB, in particular, to help end this disaster." Furthermore, as Financial Times analyst Wolfgang Munchau observed, "Austerity and reform are the opposite of each other. If you are serious about structural reform, it will cost you upfront money." Claims that Germany had, by mid-2012, given Greece the equivalent of 29 times the aid given to West Germany under the Marshall Plan after World War II completely ignores the fact that aid was just a small part of Marshall Plan assistance to Germany, with another crucial part of the assistance being the writing off of a majority of Germany's debt.

Artificially low exchange rate[edit]

Though Germany claims its public finances are "the envy of the world", the country is merely continuing what has been called its "free-riding" of the euro crisis, which "consists in using the euro as a mechanism for maintaining a weak exchange rate while shifting the costs of doing so to its neighbors." With eurozone adjustment locked out by Germany, economic hardship elsewhere in the currency block actually suited its export-oriented economy for an extended period, because it caused the euro to depreciate, making German exports cheaper and so more competitive.[201] The weakness of the euro, caused by the economy misery of peripheral countries, has been providing Germany with a large and artificial export advantage to the extent that, if Germany left the euro, the concomitant surge in the value of the reintroduced Deutsche Mark, which would produce "disastrous" effects on German exports as they suddenly became dramatically more expensive, would play the lead role in imposing a cost on Germany of perhaps 20–25% GDP during the first year alone after its euro exit. November 2013 saw the European Commission open an in-depth inquiry into German's surplus, which hit a new record in spring 2015. As the German current accounts surplus looked set to smash all previous records again in Spring 2015, one commentator noted that Germany was "now the biggest single violator of the eurozone stability rules. It would face punitive sanctions if EU treaty law was enforced." 2015 is "the fifth consecutive year that Germany's surplus has been above 6pc of GDP," it was pointed out. "The EU's Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure states that the Commission should launch infringement proceedings if this occurs for three years in a row, unless there is a clear reason not to."

Advocacy of internal devaluation for peripheral economies[edit]

The version of adjustment offered by Germany and its allies is that austerity will lead to an internal devaluation, i.e. deflation, which would enable Greece gradually to regain competitiveness. "Yet this proposed solution is a complete non-starter", in the opinion of one UK economist. "If austerity succeeds in delivering deflation, then the growth of nominal GDP will be depressed; most likely it will turn negative. In that case, the burden of debt will increase." A February 2013 research note by the Economics Research team at Goldman Sachs again noted that the years of recession being endured by Greece "exacerbate the fiscal difficulties as the denominator of the debt-to-GDP ratio diminishes", i.e. reducing the debt burden by imposing austerity is, aside from anything else, utterly futile.[210] "Higher growth has always been the best way out the debt (absolute and relative) burden. However, growth prospects for the near and medium-term future are quite weak. During the Great Depression, Heinrich Brüning, the German Chancellor (1930–32), thought that a strong currency and a balanced budget were the ways out of crisis. Cruel austerity measures such as cuts in wages, pensions and social benefits followed. Over the years crises deepened". The austerity program applied to Greece has been "self-defeating", with the country's debt now expected to balloon to 192% of GDP by 2014. After years of the situation being pointed out, in June 2013, with the Greek debt burden galloping towards the "staggering" heights previously predicted by anyone who knew what they were talking about, and with her own organization admitting its program for Greece had failed seriously on multiple primary objectives and that it had bent its rules when "rescuing" Greece; and having claimed in the past that Greece's debt was sustainable—Christine Lagarde felt able to admit publicly that perhaps Greece just might, after all, need to have its debt written off in a meaningful way. In its Global Economic Outlook and Strategy of September 2013, Citi pointed out that Greece "lack[s] the ability to stabilise […] debt/GDP ratios in coming years by fiscal policy alone",:7 and that "large debt relief" is probably "the only viable option" if Greek fiscal sustainability is to re-materialise;:18 predicted no return to growth until 2016;:8 and predicted that the debt burden would soar to over 200% of GDP by 2015 and carry on rising through at least 2017.:9 Unfortunately, German Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle had just a few months prior already spoken out again against any debt relief for Greece, claiming that "structural reforms" (i.e. "old wine in a new bottle", see Rodrik et al. above) were the way to go and—astonishingly—that "debt sustainability will continue to be assured".[219]

Strictly in terms of reducing wages relative to Germany, Greece had been making 'progress': private-sector wages fell 5.4% in the third quarter of 2011 from a year earlier and 12% since their peak in the first quarter of 2010. The second economic adjustment programme for Greece called for a further labour cost reduction in the private sector of 15% during 2012–2014.

German views on inflation as a solution[edit]

The question then is whether Germany would accept the price of inflation for the benefit of keeping the eurozone together. On the upside, inflation, at least to start with, would make Germans happy as their wages rose in keeping with inflation. Regardless of these positives, as soon as the monetary policy of the ECB—which has been catering to German desires for low inflation[224] so doggedly that Martin Wolf describes it as "a reincarnated Bundesbank"—began to look like it might stoke inflation in Germany, Merkel moved to counteract, cementing the impossibility of a recovery for struggling countries.

All of this has resulted in increased anti-German sentiment within peripheral countries like Greece and Spain.[227] German historian Arnulf Baring, who opposed the euro, wrote in his 1997 book Scheitert Deutschland? (Does Germany fail?): "They (populistic media and politicians) will say that we finance lazy slackers, sitting in coffee shops on southern beaches", and "[t]he fiscal union will end in a giant blackmail manoeuvre […] When we Germans will demand fiscal discipline, other countries will blame this fiscal discipline and therefore us for their financial difficulties. Besides, although they initially agreed on the terms, they will consider us as some kind of economic police. Consequently, we risk again becoming the most hated people in Europe." Anti-German animus is perhaps inflamed by the fact that, as one German historian noted, "during much of the 20th century, the situation was radically different: after the first world war and again after the second world war, Germany was the world's largest debtor, and in both cases owed its economic recovery to large-scale debt relief." When Horst Reichenbach arrived in Athens towards the end of 2011 to head a new European Union task force, the Greek media instantly dubbed him "Third Reichenbach"; in Spain in May 2012, businessmen made unflattering comparisons with Berlin's domination of Europe in WWII, and top officials "mutter about how today's European Union consists of a 'German Union plus the rest'". Almost four million German tourists—more than any other EU country—visit Greece annually, but they comprised most of the 50,000 cancelled bookings in the ten days after the 6 May 2012 Greek elections, a figure The Observer called "extraordinary". The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises estimates that German visits for 2012 will decrease by about 25%. Such is the ill-feeling, historic claims on Germany from WWII have been reopened, including "a huge, never-repaid loan the nation was forced to make under Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1945."

Analysis of the Greek rescue[edit]

Unbalanced scales.svg The neutrality of this section is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (June 2015)

One estimate is that Greece actually subscribed to €156bn worth of new debt in order to get €206bn worth of old debt to be written off, meaning the write-down of €110bn by the banks and others is more than double the true figure of €50bn that was truly written off. Taxpayers are now liable for more than 80% of Greece's debt. One journalist for Der Spiegel noted that the second bailout was not "geared to the requirements of the people of Greece but to the needs of the international financial markets, meaning the banks. How else can one explain the fact that around a quarter of the package won't even arrive in Athens but will flow directly to the country's international creditors?" He accused the banks of "cleverly manipulating the fear that a Greek bankruptcy would trigger a fatal chain reaction" in order to get paid. According to Robert Reich, in the background of the Greek bailouts and debt restructuring lurks Wall Street. While US banks are owed only about €5bn by Greece, they have more significant exposure to the situation via German and French banks, who were significantly exposed to Greek debt. Massively reducing the liabilities of German and French banks with regards to Greece thus also serves to protect US banks.

Creditors of Greece 2011 and 2015

According to Der Spiegel "more than 80 percent of the rescue package is going to creditors—that is to say, to banks outside of Greece and to the ECB. The billions of taxpayer euros are not saving Greece. They're saving the banks." One study found that the public debt of Greece to foreign governments, including debt to the EU/IMF loan facility and debt through the eurosystem, increased by €130 bn, from €47.8 bn to €180.5 billion, between January 2010 and September 2011. The combined exposure of foreign banks to Greek entities—public and private—was around 80bn euros by mid-February 2012. In 2009 they were in for well over 200bn. The Economist noted that, during 2012 alone, "private-sector bondholders reduced their nominal claims by more than 50%. But the deal did not include the hefty holdings of Greek bonds at the European Central Bank (ECB), and it was sweetened with funds borrowed from official rescuers. For two years those rescuers had pretended Greece was solvent, and provided official loans to pay off bondholders in full. So more than 70% of the debts are now owed to 'official' creditors", i.e. European taxpayers and the IMF. With regard to Germany in particular, a Bloomberg editorial noted that, before its banks reduced its exposure to Greece, "they stood to lose a ton of money if Greece left the euro. Now any losses will be shared with the taxpayers of the entire euro area."


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Old News ;-)

[Feb 11, 2019] Beware Proposed E-Commerce Rules naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Chakravarthi Raghavan, Editor-emeritus of South-North Development Monitor SUNS, is based in Geneva and has been monitoring and reporting on the WTO and its predecessor GATT since 1978; he is author of several books on trade issues; and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, is Senior Adviser with the Khazanah Research Institute, and was . an economics professor and United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development. Originally published at Inter Press Service ..."
"... Data governance infrastructure ..."
"... Enterprise competition ..."
"... Consumer protection ..."
"... Trade facilitation ..."
"... Describing what these TNCs are trying to push through as "digital colonialism" seems apt. In contrast to traditional colonialism, characterized as it was by massive investments in manpower and other resources required to conquer far-flung overseas territories, the marginal cost of adding one more overseas territory to a digital colonizers empire is miniscule compared to what old-school colonizers had to pony up to expand their list of colonies. ..."
"... Add to this weak regulatory firewalls in developing countries and market saturation in developed nations, it's obvious why these TNCs are determined to push through an international policy framework that advances their drive to uncover new pockets of growth in the developing world. It's also telling that they're aggressively pursuing this end before developing countries can mount a cohesive defense of their digital sovereignty. "Beware Proposed E-commerce Rules" indeed ..."
Feb 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Beware Proposed E-Commerce Rules Posted on February 10, 2019 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield By Chakravarthi Raghavan, Editor-emeritus of South-North Development Monitor SUNS, is based in Geneva and has been monitoring and reporting on the WTO and its predecessor GATT since 1978; he is author of several books on trade issues; and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, is Senior Adviser with the Khazanah Research Institute, and was . an economics professor and United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development. Originally published at Inter Press Service

In Davos in late January, several powerful governments and their allies announced their intention to launch new negotiations on e-commerce. Unusually, the intention is to launch the plurilateral negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO), an ostensibly multilateral organization, setting problematic precedents for the future of multilateral negotiations.

Any resulting WTO agreement, especially one to make e-commerce tax- and tariff-free, will require amendments to its existing goods agreements, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreements. If it is not an unconditional agreement in the WTO, it will violate WTO 'most favoured nation' (MFN) principles.

This will be worse than the old, and ostensibly extinct 'Green Room' processes -- of a few major powers negotiating among themselves, and then imposing their deal on the rest of the membership. Thus, the proposed e-commerce rules may be 'WTO illegal' -- unless legitimized by the amendment processes and procedures in Article X of the WTO treaty.

Any effort to 'smuggle' it into the WTO, e.g., by including it in Annex IV to the WTO treaty (Plurilateral Trade Agreements), will need, after requisite notice, a consensus decision at Ministerial Conference (Art X:9 of treaty) . It may still be illegal since the subjects are already covered by agreements in Annexes 1A, 1B and 1C of the WTO treaty.

Consolidating Power of the Giants

Powerful technology transnational corporations (TNCs) are trying to rewrite international rules to advance their business interests by: gaining access to new foreign markets, securing free access to others' data, accelerating deregulation, casualizing labour markets, and minimizing tax liabilities.

While digital technology and trade, including electronic or e-commerce, can accelerate development and create jobs, if appropriate policies and arrangements are in place, e-commerce rhetoric exaggerates opportunities for developing country, especially small and medium enterprises. Instead, the negotiations are intended to diminish the right of national authorities to require 'local presence', a prerequisite for the consumer and public to sue a supplier.

The e-commerce proposals are expected to strengthen the dominant TNCs, enabling them to further dominate digital trade as the reform proposals are likely to strengthen their discretionary powers while limiting public oversight over corporate behaviour in the digital economy.

Developing Countries Must Be Vigilant

If digital commerce grows without developing countries first increasing value captured from production -- by improving productive capacities in developing countries, closing the digital divide by improving infrastructure and interconnectivity, and protecting privacy and data -- they will have to open their economies even more to foreign imports.

Further digital liberalization without needed investments to improve productive capacities, will destroy some jobs, casualize others, squeeze existing enterprises and limit future development. Such threats, due to accelerated digital liberalization, will increase if the fast-changing digital economic space is shaped by new regulations influenced by TNCs.

Diverting business through e-commerce platforms will not only reduce domestic market shares, as existing digital trade is currently dominated by a few TNCs from the United States and China, but also reduce sales tax revenue which governments increasingly rely upon with the earlier shift from direct to indirect taxation.

Developing countries must quickly organize themselves to advance their own agenda for developmental digitization. Meanwhile, concerned civil society organizations and others are proposing new approaches to issues such as data governance, anti-trust regulation, smaller enterprises, jobs, taxation, consumer protection, and trade facilitation.

New Approach Needed

A development-focused and jobs-enhancing digitization strategy is needed instead. Effective national policies require sufficient policy space, stakeholder participation and regional consultation, but the initiative seeks to limit that space. Developing countries should have the policy space to drive their developmental digitization agendas. Development partners, especially donors, should support, not drive this agenda.

Developmental digitization will require investment in countries' technical, legal and economic infrastructure, and policies to: bridge the digital divide; develop domestic digital platforms, businesses and capacities to use data in the public interest; strategically promote national enterprises, e.g., through national data use frameworks; ensure digitization conducive to full employment policies; advance the public interest, consumer protection, healthy competition and sustainable development.

Pro-active Measures Needed

Following decades of economic liberalization and growing inequality, and the increasing clout of digital platforms, international institutions should support developmental digitization for national progress, rather than digital liberalization. Developing country governments must be vigilant about such e-commerce negotiations, and instead undertake pro-active measures such as:

Data governance infrastructure : Developing countries must be vigilant of the dangers of digital colonialism and the digital divide. Most people do not properly value data, while governments too easily allow data transfers to big data corporations without adequate protection for their citizens. TNC rights to free data flows should be challenged.

Enterprise competition : Developing countries still need to promote national enterprises, including through pro-active policies. International rules have enabled wealth transfers from the global South to TNCs holding well protected patents. National systems of innovation can only succeed if intellectual property monopolies are weakened. Strengthening property rights enhances TNC powers at the expense of developing country enterprises.

Employment : Developmental digitization must create decent jobs and livelihoods. Labour's share of value created has declining in favour of capital, which has influenced rule-making to its advantage.

Taxation: The new e-commerce proposals seek to ban not only appropriate taxation, but also national presence requirements where they operate to avoid taxes at the expense of competitors paying taxes in compliance with the law. Tax rules allowing digital TNCs to reduce taxable income or shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions should be addressed.

Consumer protection : Strong policies for consumer protection are needed as the proposals would put privacy and data protection at risk. Besides citizens' rights to privacy, consumers must have rights to data protection and against TNC and other abuse of human rights.

Competition : Digital platforms must be better regulated at both national and international level. Policies are needed to weaken digital economic monopolies and to support citizens, consumers and workers in relating to major digital TNCs.

Trade facilitation : Recent trade facilitation in developing countries, largely funded by donors, has focused on facilitating imports, rather than supply side constraints. Recent support for digital liberalization similarly encourages developing countries to import more instead of developing needed new infrastructure to close digital divides.

Urgent Measures Needed

'E-commerce' has become the new front for further economic liberalization and extension of property rights by removing tariffs (on IT products), liberalizing imports of various services, stronger IP protection, ending technology transfer requirements, and liberalizing government procurement.

Developing countries must instead develop their own developmental digitization agendas, let alone simply copy, or worse, promote e-commerce rules developed by TNCs to open markets, secure data, as well as constrain regulatory and developmental governments.


Thuto , February 10, 2019 at 6:13 am

Describing what these TNCs are trying to push through as "digital colonialism" seems apt. In contrast to traditional colonialism, characterized as it was by massive investments in manpower and other resources required to conquer far-flung overseas territories, the marginal cost of adding one more overseas territory to a digital colonizers empire is miniscule compared to what old-school colonizers had to pony up to expand their list of colonies.

Add to this weak regulatory firewalls in developing countries and market saturation in developed nations, it's obvious why these TNCs are determined to push through an international policy framework that advances their drive to uncover new pockets of growth in the developing world. It's also telling that they're aggressively pursuing this end before developing countries can mount a cohesive defense of their digital sovereignty. "Beware Proposed E-commerce Rules" indeed

jfleni , February 10, 2019 at 9:23 am

It is still cold in davos, all the more reason to feel carefully, and be very sure that the P-crats are not slipping you "a mickey" in the butt, because they always repeat always do it!

Synoia , February 10, 2019 at 1:23 pm

In Davos in late January, several powerful governments and their allies announced their intention to launch new negotiations on e-commerce.

Why the complete lack of agency? Who are these countries?

If it is not an unconditional agreement in the WTO, it will violate WTO 'most favoured nation' (MFN) principles.

Will it be an Exceptional agreement, by Exceptional Countries?

It may still be illegal since the subjects are already covered by agreements in Annexes 1A, 1B and 1C of the WTO treaty.

Ah, a process of meticulous and unbinding legality, but of law-abidingness, not a trace.

C.Raghavan , February 11, 2019 at 11:42 am

The comment, and questions posed aren't clear. The announcement (widely reported in media) was made to media at Davos after a breakfast meeting, and almost immediately it appeared on WTO website as a "communication" from the members at the breakfast meeting. Beyond "intention" to negotiate, everything else was vague – whether it be issues to be negotiated, where and how etc.

raghavan

Rory , February 10, 2019 at 2:16 pm

Why does this make me think of MERS and how the finance industry diverted at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in transaction recording fees away from local government real estate offices? If popular government is to remain meaningful it had better have in place effective means of enforcing its tax entitlements and the will to do it.

[Feb 09, 2019] New York Times admission of Afghanistan fiasco provokes human rights imperialist backlash by Bill Van Auken

Notable quotes:
"... Now the Times acknowledges: "The price tag, which includes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and increased spending on veterans' care, will reach $5.9 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2019, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University. Since nearly all of that money has been borrowed, the total cost with interest will be substantially higher More than 2.7 million Americans have fought in the war since 2001. Nearly 7,000 service members-and nearly 8,000 private contractors-have been killed. More than 53,700 people returned home bearing physical wounds, and numberless more carry psychological injuries. More than one million Americans who served in a theater of the war on terror receive some level of disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs." ..."
"... Kagan has a great deal invested in the Afghanistan war. He and his wife Kimberly served as civilian advisers to top generals who directed the war and elaborated the failed strategies of counterinsurgency (COIN). He has been a vociferous supporter of every US war and every escalation, arguing most recently for the US military to confront Russian- and Iranian-backed forces in Syria. ..."
"... A leading figure in the Democratic Party, Smeal is no Jane-come-lately to the filthy campaign to promote the war in Afghanistan as a "humanitarian" exercise in promoting the rights of women ..."
"... Aside from costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghan women, the US war has left women, like the entire population, under worse conditions than when it began. Two-thirds of Afghan girls do not attend school, 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate, and 70-80 percent face forced marriage, many before the age of 16. ..."
"... The attempt by the likes of Smeal and leading elements within the Democratic Party to cloak the bloodbath in Afghanistan as a crusade to "liberate" women and promote "democracy" is itself a criminal act. ..."
"... Afghanistan is a shitshow due to elite meddling. This editorial was nothing more than virtue-signaling to those that still hate war. But the anti-war movement is effectively dead anyway. There are anti-war people, but no anti-war movement. That's the crowd that the New York Times was appealing to. This is a stunt; nothing more. ..."
"... It was USA imperialism (under Carter and Brzezinski) which first had made Afghanistan a hell for women, but colonial feminists do not care for the facts. ..."
"... That is very true. "Death by a thousand cuts" was Brzezinski's scheme to destroy the Soviet Union in Central Asia. A few years ago, he was interviewed by a journalist from PRC who asked if he had any regrets with all the destruction and death it caused. Brzezinski said, "None". ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | wsws.org

An editorial published by the New York Times on February 4 titled "End the War in Afghanistan" has provoked a backlash from prominent supporters of the decades-long US "war on terrorism" and the fraud of "humanitarian intervention."

The Times editorial was a damning self-indictment by the US political establishment's newspaper of record, which has supported every US act of military aggression, from the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the US wars for regime change in Libya and Syria beginning in 2011.

The editorial presents the "war on terror" as an unmitigated fiasco, dating it from September 14, 2001, when "Congress wrote what would prove to be one of the largest blank checks in the country's history," i.e., the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, which is still invoked to legitimize US interventions from Syria to Somalia, Yemen and, of course, Afghanistan.

On the day that this "blank check" was written, the Times published a column titled "No Middle Ground," which stated "the Bush administration today gave the nations of the world a stark choice: stand with us against terrorism, deny safe havens to terrorists or face the certain prospect of death and destruction. The marble halls of Washington resounded with talk of war."

It continued, "The nation is rallying around its young, largely untried leader-as his rising approval ratings and the proliferation of flags across the country vividly demonstrate "

This war propaganda was sustained by the Times, which sold the invasion of Afghanistan as retribution for 9/11 and then promoted the illegal and unprovoked war against Iraq by legitimizing and embellishing the lies about "weapons of mass destruction."

With the first deployment of US ground troops in Afghanistan, the Times editorialized on October 20, 2001: "Now the nation's soldiers are going into battle in a distant and treacherous land, facing a determined and resourceful enemy. As they go, they should know that the nation supports their cause and yearns for their success."

Now the Times acknowledges: "The price tag, which includes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and increased spending on veterans' care, will reach $5.9 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2019, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University. Since nearly all of that money has been borrowed, the total cost with interest will be substantially higher More than 2.7 million Americans have fought in the war since 2001. Nearly 7,000 service members-and nearly 8,000 private contractors-have been killed. More than 53,700 people returned home bearing physical wounds, and numberless more carry psychological injuries. More than one million Americans who served in a theater of the war on terror receive some level of disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs."

The massive loss of life, destruction of social infrastructure and vast human suffering inflicted by these wars on civilian populations are at best an afterthought for the Times. Conservative estimates place the number killed by the US war in Afghanistan at 175,000. With the number of indirect fatalities caused by the war, the toll likely rises to a million. In Iraq, the death toll was even higher.

What does the Times conclude from this bloody record? "The failure of American leaders-civilians and generals through three administrations, from the Pentagon to the State Department to Congress and the White House-to develop and pursue a strategy to end the war ought to be studied for generations. Likewise, all Americans-the news media included-need to be prepared to examine the national credulity or passivity that's led to the longest conflict in modern American history."

What a cowardly and cynical evasion! Three administrations, those of Bush, Obama and Trump, have committed war crimes over the course of more than 17 years, including launching wars of aggression-the principal charge leveled against the Nazis at Nuremberg-the slaughter of civilians and torture. These crimes should not be "studied for generations," but punished.

As for the attempt to lump the news media together with "all Americans" as being guilty of "credulity" and "passivity," this is a slander against the American people and a deliberate cover-up of the crimes carried out by the corporate media, with the Times at their head, in disseminating outright lies and war propaganda. The Times editors should be "prepared to examine" the fact that journalistic agents of the Nazi regime who carried out a similar function in Germany were tried and punished at Nuremberg.

The Times editorial supporting a US withdrawal reflects the conclusions being drawn by increasing sections of the ruling establishment, including the Trump administration, which has opened up negotiations with the Taliban. It is bound up with the shift in strategy by US imperialism and the Pentagon toward the preparation for "great power" confrontations with nuclear-armed Russia and China.

The Times ' call for an Afghanistan withdrawal has provoked a heated rebuke by defenders of the "war on terrorism" and "humanitarian intervention," who have denounced the newspaper for defeatism. Such a withdrawal, a letter published by the Times on February 8 argued, would "accelerate and expand the war," "allow another extremist-terrorist phenomenon to emerge," and "result in the deaths and abuse of thousands of women."

The signatories of the letter include Frederick Kagan, David Sedney and Eleanor Smeal.

Kagan has a great deal invested in the Afghanistan war. He and his wife Kimberly served as civilian advisers to top generals who directed the war and elaborated the failed strategies of counterinsurgency (COIN). He has been a vociferous supporter of every US war and every escalation, arguing most recently for the US military to confront Russian- and Iranian-backed forces in Syria.

Likewise Sedney, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense responsible for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, now working at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Married to a top lobbyist for Chevron who worked extensively in Central Asia, he has his own interests in the continuation of US military operations in the region.

Smeal is the president of the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMD) and a former president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), who is widely described as one of "the major leaders of the modern-day American feminist movement."

A leading figure in the Democratic Party, Smeal is no Jane-come-lately to the filthy campaign to promote the war in Afghanistan as a "humanitarian" exercise in promoting the rights of women. In 2001, Smeal and her FMD circulated a petition thanking the Bush administration for its commitment to promoting the rights of women in Afghanistan. After the bombing began on October 7, she declared, "We have real momentum now in the drive to restore the rights of women." A few days later, she and representatives of other feminist organizations showed up at the White House to solidarize themselves with the US war.

Urging on the conquest of Afghanistan, she wrote, "I should hope our government doesn't retreat. We'll help rip those burqas off, I hope. This is a unique time in history. If you're going to end terrorism, you've got to end the ideology of gender apartheid."

Aside from costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghan women, the US war has left women, like the entire population, under worse conditions than when it began. Two-thirds of Afghan girls do not attend school, 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate, and 70-80 percent face forced marriage, many before the age of 16.

Recent reports suggest that the maternal death rate may be higher than it was before the war began, surpassed only by South Sudan. While USAID has poured some $280 million into its Promote program, supposedly to advance the conditions of Afghan women, it has done nothing but line the pockets of corrupt officials of the US-backed puppet regime in Kabul.

The attempt by the likes of Smeal and leading elements within the Democratic Party to cloak the bloodbath in Afghanistan as a crusade to "liberate" women and promote "democracy" is itself a criminal act.

On October 9, two days after Washington launched its now 17-year-long war on Afghanistan and amid a furor of jingoistic and militarist propaganda from the US government and the corporate media, the World Socialist Web Site editorial board posted a column titled "Why we oppose the war in Afghanistan." It rejected the claim that this was a "war for justice and the security of the American people against terrorism" and insisted that "the present action by the United States is an imperialist war" in which Washington aimed to "establish a new political framework within which it will exert hegemonic control" over not only Afghanistan, but over the broader region of Central Asia, "home to the second largest deposit of proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world."

The WSWS stated at the time: "Despite a relentless media campaign to whip up chauvinism and militarism, the mood of the American people is not one of gung-ho support for the war. At most, it is a passive acceptance that war is the only means to fight terrorism, a mood that owes a great deal to the efforts of a thoroughly dishonest media which serves as an arm of the state. Beneath the reluctant endorsement of military action is a profound sense of unease and skepticism. Tens of millions sense that nothing good can come of this latest eruption of American militarism.

"The United States stands at a turning point. The government admits it has embarked on a war of indefinite scale and duration. What is taking place is the militarization of American society under conditions of a deepening social crisis.

"The war will profoundly affect the conditions of the American and international working class. Imperialism threatens mankind at the beginning of the twenty-first century with a repetition on a more horrific scale of the tragedies of the twentieth. More than ever, imperialism and its depredations raise the necessity for the international unity of the working class and the struggle for socialism."

These warnings and this perspective have been borne out entirely by the criminal and tragic events of the last 17 years, even as the likes of the New York Times find themselves compelled to admit the bankruptcy of their entire record on Afghanistan, and their erstwhile "liberal" allies struggle to salvage some shred of the filthy banner of "human rights imperialism."


Charlotte Ruse12 hours ago

"The failure of American leaders -- civilians and generals through three administrations, from the Pentagon to the State Department to Congress and the White House -- to develop and pursue a strategy to end the war ought to be studied for generations. Likewise, all Americans -- the news media included -- need to be prepared to examine the national credulity or passivity that's led to the longest conflict in modern American history."

What the New York Times should propose is a Nuremberg-style trial for the war criminals responsible for the genocide of millions, the devastation of of the Middle East and Africa, and the looting of the US Treasury by war profiteers and the political duopoly.

If these criminals are NOT held accountable for their actions NOTHING will be learned and the violence, death and destruction will continue.

"The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law, acted as Head of State or responsible government official, does not relieve him from responsibility under international law."

Serenity Charlotte Ruse3 hours ago
Gore Vidal rightly named America as the United States of Amnesia. They NEVER learn from their own history and they are never told about what their terrorist government does in their name.
Pete LaPlace13 hours ago
Eleanor Smeal's comment about "ripping off those burqas" in Afghanistan reminds me of Louisiana congressman John Cooksey's post-9/11 suggestion that police should pull over and question anyone with ''a diaper on his head''. Both use religious intolerance to increase the power of the state.
solerso15 hours ago
"A leading figure in the Democratic Party, Smeal is no Jane-come-lately to the filthy campaign to promote the war in Afghanistan as a "humanitarian" exercise in promoting the rights of women."

wouldn't it be more correctly "Janey comes lately" ..as in "Johnny come lately"..?

The completely insane fraud of waging imperialist war for "women rights" has been , unfortunately, extensively documented..the US occupation has strengthened not weakened the Taliban

"The WSWS stated at the time: "Despite a relentless media campaign to whip up chauvinism and militarism, the mood of the American people is not one of gung-ho support for the war. "

Not really in agreement with this statement although, everything has changed in almost 20 years.....

ben franklin [pre death] solerso2 hours ago
There are always elements that are gung ho for war. And I'll agree that the number was abnormally high for Afghanistan. But I do think the majority still reluctantly agreed to the war as a necessary measure to fight "terrorism" as the more-than-likely-to-be-a-false-flag 9/11 event was very fresh in everyone's mind.
Master Oroko16 hours ago
Afghanistan is a shitshow due to elite meddling. This editorial was nothing more than virtue-signaling to those that still hate war. But the anti-war movement is effectively dead anyway. There are anti-war people, but no anti-war movement. That's the crowd that the New York Times was appealing to. This is a stunt; nothing more.

What's more interesting is that the liberal elites will probably do their best to continue on with the war. But either way, the USA will likely lose. In fact, it's already lost the war. The Taliban have won this one. That the elitists can't see that shows just how far gone they are.

Carolyn Zaremba Master Orokoan hour ago
The British failed in Afghanistan, too, remember.
лидия20 hours ago
Prof Bomb Libya Cole started his career of "progressive" imperialist by backing USA aggression against Afghanistan.
лидия20 hours ago
It was USA imperialism (under Carter and Brzezinski) which first had made Afghanistan a hell for women, but colonial feminists do not care for the facts.
konnections лидия3 hours ago
That is very true. "Death by a thousand cuts" was Brzezinski's scheme to destroy the Soviet Union in Central Asia. A few years ago, he was interviewed by a journalist from PRC who asked if he had any regrets with all the destruction and death it caused. Brzezinski said, "None".
Robert Montgomery лидия9 hours ago
Exactly. I believe the current term is "post-colonial feminists." Kinda takes the edge off the "colonialism."
Charlotte Ruse лидия9 hours ago
Good point!!

[Feb 09, 2019] NYT neoliberal presstitutes ignore Afghan war and concentrate of rumors about Trump

"I take it as a given that President Trump is an incompetent nitwit, precisely as his critics charge. Yet his oft-repeated characterization of those wars as profoundly misguided has more than a little merit." As many have said, Trump is the symptom, not the disease.
Notable quotes:
"... Still, I find myself wondering: If a proposed troop drawdown in Afghanistan qualifies as a "mistake," as O'Hanlon contends, then what term best describes a war that has cost something like a trillion dollars, killed and maimed tens of thousands, and produced a protracted stalemate? ..."
"... Disaster? Debacle? Catastrophe? Humiliation? ..."
"... And, if recent press reports prove true, with U.S. government officials accepting Taliban promises of good behavior as a basis for calling it quits, then this longest war in our history will not have provided much of a return on investment. Given the disparity between the U.S. aims announced back in 2001 and the results actually achieved, defeat might be an apt characterization. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

From: Lost in TrumpWorld by Andrew J. Bacevich

I don't wish to imply that political leaders and media outlets ignore our wars altogether. That would be unfair. Yet in TrumpWorld, while the president's performance in office receives intensive and persistent coverage day in, day out, the attention given to America's wars has been sparse and perfunctory, when not positively bizarre.

As a case in point, consider the op-ed that recently appeared in the New York Times (just as actual peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban seemed to be progressing ), making the case for prolonging the U.S. war in Afghanistan, while chiding President Trump for considering a reduction in the number of U.S. troops currently stationed there. Any such move, warned Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, would be a "mistake" of the first order.

The ongoing Afghan War dates from a time when some of today's recruits were still in diapers. Yet O'Hanlon counsels patience: a bit more time and things just might work out. This is more or less comparable to those who suggested back in the 1950s that African Americans might show a bit more patience in their struggle for equality: Hey, what's the rush?

I don't pretend to know what persuaded the editors of the Times that O'Hanlon's call to make America's longest war even longer qualifies as something readers of the nation's most influential newspaper just now need to ponder. Yet I do know this: the dearth of critical attention to the costs and consequences of our various post-9/11 wars is nothing short of shameful, a charge to which politicians and journalists alike should plead equally guilty.

I take it as a given that President Trump is an incompetent nitwit, precisely as his critics charge. Yet his oft-repeated characterization of those wars as profoundly misguided has more than a little merit. Even more striking than Trump's critique is the fact that so few members of the national security establishment are willing to examine it seriously. As a consequence, the wars persist, devoid of purpose.

Still, I find myself wondering: If a proposed troop drawdown in Afghanistan qualifies as a "mistake," as O'Hanlon contends, then what term best describes a war that has cost something like a trillion dollars, killed and maimed tens of thousands, and produced a protracted stalemate?

Disaster? Debacle? Catastrophe? Humiliation?

And, if recent press reports prove true, with U.S. government officials accepting Taliban promises of good behavior as a basis for calling it quits, then this longest war in our history will not have provided much of a return on investment. Given the disparity between the U.S. aims announced back in 2001 and the results actually achieved, defeat might be an apt characterization.

Yet the fault is not Trump's. The fault belongs to those who have allowed their immersion in the dank precincts of TrumpWorld to preclude serious reexamination of misguided and reckless policies that predate the president by at least 15 years.


fnn , says: February 5, 2019 at 8:05 pm GMT

You have to compare Trump with the alternative. The D's /progs make war on free speech, attack the presumption of innocence, want essentially uncontrolled mass immigration and relentlessly push in the direction of war with Russia. Add their cynical Russiagate hoax-witch hunt for further illustration
of the danger they present. As many have said, Trump is the symptom, not the disease.
Cassander , says: February 7, 2019 at 2:46 am GMT
"I take it as a given that President Trump is an incompetent nitwit, precisely as his critics charge. Yet his oft-repeated characterization of those wars as profoundly misguided has more than a little merit."

I'm with Bacevich on the insanity of Endless War, but I question why he has to denigrate Trump in his lead in. The cynical side of me believes that Bacevich thinks he has to be a Trump-hater if he is to be listened to.

Hey Andrew sir Democracy is messy. But DJT is on your team and the MSM/Liberal progs/Neocons aren't. Worth reflecting on

Al Moanee , says: February 7, 2019 at 3:31 am GMT
@fnn "As many have said, Trump is the symptom, not the disease"

Actually, Trump is the microbe not the virus. He's the opportunistic microbe that attaches itself to a sick and diseased body-politic. As to symptoms, they are borne by society at-large and now manifest themselves in the majority of Americans who one way or the other are "Lost in TrumpWorld"

[Feb 09, 2019] Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer

Feb 09, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... , February 07, 2019 at 06:37 AM

http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

October, 2016

Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer
By Dean Baker

The Old Technology and Inequality Scam: The Story of Patents and Copyrights

One of the amazing lines often repeated by people in policy debates is that, as a result of technology, we are seeing income redistributed from people who work for a living to the people who own the technology. While the redistribution part of the story may be mostly true, the problem is that the technology does not determine who "owns" the technology. The people who write the laws determine who owns the technology.

Specifically, patents and copyrights give their holders monopolies on technology or creative work for their duration. If we are concerned that money is going from ordinary workers to people who hold patents and copyrights, then one policy we may want to consider is shortening and weakening these monopolies. But policy has gone sharply in the opposite direction over the last four decades, as a wide variety of measures have been put into law that make these protections longer and stronger. Thus, the redistribution from people who work to people who own the technology should not be surprising -- that was the purpose of the policy.

If stronger rules on patents and copyrights produced economic dividends in the form of more innovation and more creative output, then this upward redistribution might be justified. But the evidence doesn't indicate there has been any noticeable growth dividend associated with this upward redistribution. In fact, stronger patent protection seems to be associated with slower growth.

Before directly considering the case, it is worth thinking for a minute about what the world might look like if we had alternative mechanisms to patents and copyrights, so that the items now subject to these monopolies could be sold in a free market just like paper cups and shovels.

The biggest impact would be in prescription drugs. The breakthrough drugs for cancer, hepatitis C, and other diseases, which now sell for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, would instead sell for a few hundred dollars. No one would have to struggle to get their insurer to pay for drugs or scrape together the money from friends and family. Almost every drug would be well within an affordable price range for a middle-class family, and covering the cost for poorer families could be easily managed by governments and aid agencies.

The same would be the case with various medical tests and treatments. Doctors would not have to struggle with a decision about whether to prescribe an expensive scan, which might be the best way to detect a cancerous growth or other health issue, or to rely on cheaper but less reliable technology. In the absence of patent protection even the most cutting edge scans would be reasonably priced.

Health care is not the only area that would be transformed by a free market in technology and creative work. Imagine that all the textbooks needed by college students could be downloaded at no cost over the web and printed out for the price of the paper. Suppose that a vast amount of new books, recorded music, and movies was freely available on the web.

People or companies who create and innovate deserve to be compensated, but there is little reason to believe that the current system of patent and copyright monopolies is the best way to support their work. It's not surprising that the people who benefit from the current system are reluctant to have the efficiency of patents and copyrights become a topic for public debate, but those who are serious about inequality have no choice. These forms of property claims have been important drivers of inequality in the last four decades.

The explicit assumption behind the steps over the last four decades to increase the strength and duration of patent and copyright protection is that the higher prices resulting from increased protection will be more than offset by an increased incentive for innovation and creative work. Patent and copyright protection should be understood as being like very large tariffs. These protections can often the raise the price of protected items by several multiples of the free market price, making them comparable to tariffs of several hundred or even several thousand percent. The resulting economic distortions are comparable to what they would be if we imposed tariffs of this magnitude.

The justification for granting these monopoly protections is that the increased innovation and creative work that is produced as a result of these incentives exceeds the economic costs from patent and copyright monopolies. However, there is remarkably little evidence to support this assumption. While the cost of patent and copyright protection in higher prices is apparent, even if not well-measured, there is little evidence of a substantial payoff in the form of a more rapid pace of innovation or more and better creative work....

Tom aka Rusty said in reply to anne... , February 07, 2019 at 08:26 AM
Baker is so repetitive he is hardly worth reading.
anne -> anne... , February 07, 2019 at 06:39 AM
http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/progressive-taxes-only-go-so-far-pre-tax-income-is-the-problem

February 4, 2019

Progressive Taxes Only Go So Far. Pre-Tax Income Is the Problem
By Dean Baker

In recent weeks, there have been several bold calls for large increases in progressive taxation. First we had Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), often referred to as AOC, proposing a top marginal tax rate on income over $10 million. This sent right-wing talking heads into a frenzy, leading many to show they don't know the difference between a marginal tax rate and an average tax rate. (AOC's 70 percent rate would only apply to an individual's income above $10 million.)

More recently, we had Senator Elizabeth Warren propose a wealth tax that would apply to people with assets of more than $50 million. This tax could have Jeff Bezos sending more than $3 billion a year to the Treasury.

Given the enormous increase in inequality over the last four decades, and the reduction in the progressivity of the tax code, it is reasonable to put forward plans to make the system more progressive. But, the bigger source of the rise in inequality has been a growth in the inequality of before-tax income, not the reduction in high–end tax rates. This suggests that it may be best to look at the factors that have led to the rise in inequality in market incomes, rather than just using progressive taxes to take back some of the gains of the very rich.

There have been many changes in rules and institutional structures that have allowed the rich to get so much richer. (This is the topic of my free book Rigged.) Just to take the most obvious -- government-granted patent and copyright monopolies have been made longer and stronger over the last four decades. Many items that were not even patentable 40 years ago, such as life forms and business methods, now bring in tens or hundreds of billions of dollars to their owners.

If the importance of these monopolies for inequality is not clear, ask yourself how rich Bill Gates would be if there were no patents or copyrights on Microsoft software. (Anyone could copy Windows into a computer and not pay him a penny.) Many other billionaires get their fortune from copyrights in software and entertainment or patents in pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and other areas.

The government also has rules for corporate governance that allow CEOs to rip off the companies for which they work. CEO pay typically runs close to $20 million a year, even as returns to shareholders lag. It would be hard to argue that today's CEOs, who get 200 to 300 times the pay of ordinary workers, are doing a better job for their companies than CEOs in the 1960s and 1970s who only got 20 to 30 times the pay of ordinary workers.

Another source of inequality is the financial sector. The government has aided these fortunes in many ways, most obviously with the bailout of the big banks a decade ago. It also has deliberately structured the industry in ways that facilitate massive fortunes in financial engineering.

There is no reason to design an economy in such a way as to ensure that most of the gains from growth flow upward. Unfortunately, that has largely been the direction of policy over the last four decades.

We can ignore the inequities built into the way we have structured the economy and just try to tax the big winners, as is being proposed. However, there are two major problems with this route, one practical and one political.

The practical problem is that the rich are not stupid. They will look to find ways to avoid or evade the various progressive taxes being proposed. Both AOC and Warren have relied on advice from some top economists in describing their tax proposals, but even the best–designed tax can be gamed. (Is it worth $3 billion a year for Jeff Bezos to remain a US citizen? As a non-citizen he wouldn't pay the wealth tax.)

Gaming the tax system will mean that we will collect considerably less revenue than a static projection would imply. It also will lead to the growth of the tax gaming industry. From an economic standpoint, this is a complete waste. We will have people designing clever ways to try to hide income and wealth, and in some cases getting very rich themselves in the process.

The political problem with going the tax route is that people attach a certain legitimacy to the idea that income gained through the market is somehow rightfully gained, as opposed to say, income from a government transfer program, like food stamps. The rich will be able to win support from many non-rich by claiming that the government has taken away what they have fairly earned.

By contrast, it is much harder for a drug company billionaire to cry foul because a drug developed with public funds, and selling at generic prices, has destroyed the market for his $100,000–a–year cancer drug. In the same vein, CEOs might have a hard time getting sympathy for the complaint that new rules of corporate governance make it easier to shareholders to bring their pay down to earth.

It is great that the rise in inequality seems likely to be a major topic in the 2020 presidential campaign. However, it is important that we think carefully about how best to reverse it.

Fred C. Dobbs , February 07, 2019 at 06:36 AM
Ocasio-Cortez to unveil
Green New Deal to address climate change
https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2019/02/07/democrats-seek-green-new-deal-address-climate-change/Dw5vKODzgZag4T6jIDHAbO/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

Matthew Daly - Associated Press - February 7, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Democrats including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York are calling for a Green New Deal intended to transform the U.S. economy to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy.

The freshman lawmaker and veteran Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts are teaming up on the plan, which aims to eliminate the U.S. carbon footprint by 2030.

A joint resolution drafted by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey sets a goal to meet ''100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,'' including dramatic increases in wind and solar power.

A news conference at the Capitol is set for Thursday, the day they introduce the resolution.

While setting lofty goals, the plan does not explicitly call for eliminating the use of fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas, a nod to pragmatism that may disappoint some of Ocasio-Cortez's strongest supporters.

Even so, their Green New Deal goes far beyond the Clean Power Plan proposed by President Barack Obama. President Donald Trump has scrapped Obama's plan, which imposed emissions limits on coal-fired power plants, as a job-killer.

The Democrats are likely to meet resistance to their proposal in Congress, especially in the Republican-controlled Senate. Trump, who has expressed doubts about climate change, also is likely to oppose it.

The resolution marks the first time Ocasio-Cortez and other lawmakers have attached legislative language onto the Green New Deal, a concept that until now has been largely undefined other than as a call for urgent action to head off catastrophic climate change and create jobs.

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls have embraced the idea of a Green New Deal without saying exactly what it means.

Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement that the plan will create ''unprecedented levels of prosperity and wealth for all while ensuring economic and environmental justice and security.'' She calls for a ''World War II-scale mobilization'' that includes high-quality education and health care, clean air and water and safe, affordable housing.

Answering critics who call the plan unrealistic, Ocasio-Cortez says that when President John F. Kennedy wanted to go to the moon by the end of the 1960s, ''people said it was impossible.'' She also cites Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and the interstate highway system begun under Dwight D. Eisenhower as examples of American know-how and capability.

While focusing on renewable energy, Ocasio-Cortez said the plan would include existing nuclear power plants but block new nuclear plants. Nuclear power does not emit greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.

The resolution does not include a price tag, but some Republicans predict it would cost in the trillions of dollars. They denounced the plan at House hearings on climate change on Wednesday.

The Green New Deal would be paid for ''the same way we paid for the original New Deal, World War II, the bank bailouts, tax cuts for the rich and decades of war -- with public money appropriated by Congress,'' Ocasio-Cortez said.

Government can take an equity stake in Green New Deal projects ''so the public gets a return on its investment,'' she said.

Joe , February 07, 2019 at 07:16 AM
https://www.wirepoints.com/moodys-to-pritzker-new-taxes-could-threaten-to-increase-the-outflow-of-illinois-residents/

New Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker got a warning of sorts from Moody's ahead of the governor's first budget address. The rating agency's most recent report* highlighted the usual crises Pritzker must tackle: ballooning pension debts and chronic budget deficits. Moody's rates Illinois just one notch above junk largely due to the state's finances and malgovernance.

Moody's says new revenue likely will be required to achieve stability, as you'd expect, because rating agencies love higher taxes. But for the first time, the agency has included outmigration among its top-three credit concerns. That matters because Pritzker's number one prescription to "fix" Illinois is tax hikes, something that's sure to accelerate Illinois' out-migration trend and further erode the state's tax base.

---------------

Moody's is politely explaining that they are 180 deg out of cycle, the negotiation has been finished, in the past.

Is the new gov confused or is he consciously doing the crawl back step? Whatever, the gov will be confused no longer, he is clearly in crawl back stage, the next chapter in bankruptcy.

It is now all about deciding which industry stays and which goes; a re-agglomeration, the second step of the Hicksonian jump, shift expectations operator; you have to move stuff around according to the agreement.

[Feb 07, 2019] Venezuela's central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt

Feb 07, 2019 | www.unz.com

kauchai, February 7, 2019 at 1:51 am GMT

" Second, Venezuela's central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt. This meant that if Venezuela defaulted (or was forced into default by U.S. banks refusing to make timely payment on its foreign debt), bondholders and U.S. oil majors would be in a legal position to take possession of Venezuelan oil assets."

Solid proof that it was the empire who invented the practice of "debt trap" and is still flourishing with it.

hunor, February 7, 2019 at 6:24 am GMT

Thank you ! Made it very clear. Perfect reflection of the " Values of Western Civilization ".

Reaching to grab the whole universe, with no holds barred . And never show of any interest for the " truth". They are not even pretending anymore , awakening will be very painful for some.

Reuben Kaspate, February 7, 2019 at 2:38 pm GMT • 100 Words

Why would the U. S. based White-Protestant aristocracy care a hoot about the Brown-Catholic elites in the far off land? They don't! The comprador aristocracy in question isn't what it seems It's the same group that plagues the Americans.

The rootless louts, whose only raison d'ê·tre is to milk everything in sight and then retire to coastal cities, i.e. San Francisco, if you are a homosexual or New York City and State, if you are somewhat religious.

Poor Venezuelans don't stand a chance against the shysters!

[Feb 05, 2019] CIA Was Aiding Afghan Jihadists Before the Soviet Invasion - Antiwar.com Original

Feb 05, 2019 | original.antiwar.com

CIA Was Aiding Afghan Jihadists Before the Soviet Invasion

by Nauman Sadiq Posted on February 05, 2019 February 1, 2019 Originally, there were four parties involved in the Afghan conflict which are mainly responsible for the debacle in the Af-Pak region. Firstly, the former Soviet Union which invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Secondly, Pakistan's security agencies which nurtured the Afghan jihadists on the behest of Washington.

Thirdly, Saudi Arabia and the rest of oil-rich Gulf states which generously funded the jihadists to promote their Wahhabi-Salafi ideology. And last but not the least, the Western capitals which funded, provided weapons and internationally legitimized the erstwhile "freedom fighters" to use them against a competing ideology, global communism, which posed a threat to the Western corporate interests all over the world.

Regarding the objectives of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, the then American envoy to Kabul, Adolph "Spike" Dubs, was assassinated on Feb. 14, 1979, the same day that Iranian revolutionaries stormed the US embassy in Tehran.

According to recently declassified documents of the White House, CIA and State Department, as reported by Tim Weiner for The Washington Post , the CIA was aiding Afghan jihadists before the Soviets invaded in 1979.

President Jimmy Carter signed the CIA directive to arm the Afghan jihadists in July 1979, whereas the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December the same year. That the CIA was arming the Afghan jihadists six months before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan has been proven by the State Department's declassified documents; fact of the matter, however, is that the nexus between the CIA, Pakistan's security agencies and the Gulf states to train and arm the Afghan jihadists against the former Soviet Union was formed several years before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Historically, Pakistan's military first used the Islamists of Jamaat-e-Islami during the Bangladesh war of liberation in the late 1960s against the Bangladeshi nationalist Mukti Bahini liberation movement of Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman – the father of current prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, and the founder of Bangladesh, which was then a province of Pakistan and known as East Pakistan before the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

Jamaat-e-Islami is a far-right Islamist movement in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh – analogous to the Muslim Brotherhood political party in Egypt and Turkey – several of whose leaders have recently been hanged by the Bangladeshi nationalist government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed for committing massacres of Bangladeshi civilians on behalf of Pakistan's military during the late 1960s.

Then, during the 1970s, Pakistan's then-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto began aiding the Afghan Islamists against Sardar Daud's government, who had toppled his first cousin King Zahir Shah in a palace coup in 1973 and had proclaimed himself the president of Afghanistan.

Sardar Daud was a Pashtun nationalist and laid claim to Pakistan's northwestern Pashtun-majority province. Pakistan's security establishment was wary of his irredentist claims and used Islamists to weaken his rule in Afghanistan. He was eventually assassinated in 1978 as a result of the Saur Revolution led by the Afghan communists.

Pakistan's support to the Islamists with the Saudi petrodollars and Washington's blessings, however, kindled the fires of Islamic insurgencies in the entire region comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Soviet Central Asian States.

The former Soviet Union was wary that its forty-million Muslims were susceptible to radicalism, because Islamic radicalism was infiltrating across the border into the Central Asian States from Afghanistan. Therefore, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 in support of the Afghan communists to forestall the likelihood of Islamic insurgencies spreading to the Central Asian States bordering Afghanistan.

Even the American President Donald Trump recently admitted : "The reason Russia invaded Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia; they were right to be there." Incidentally, Trump also implied the reason why Soviet Union collapsed was due to the economic burden of the Soviet-Afghan War, as he was making a point about the withdrawal of American forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

Notwithstanding, in the Soviet-Afghan War between the capitalist and communist blocs, Saudi Arabia and the rest of Gulf's petro-monarchies took the side of the capitalist bloc because the former Soviet Union and Central Asian states produce more energy and consume less. Thus, the Soviet-led bloc was a net exporter of energy whereas the Western capitalist bloc was a net importer.

It suited the economic interests of the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to maintain and strengthen a supplier-consumer relationship with the Western capitalist bloc. Now, the BRICS countries are equally hungry for the Middle East's energy, but it's a recent development. During the Cold War, an alliance with the industrialized Western nations suited the economic interests of the Gulf countries.

Regarding the motives of the belligerents involved, the Americans wanted to take revenge for their defeat at the hands of communists in Vietnam, the Gulf countries had forged close economic ties with the Western bloc and Pakistan was dependent on the Western military aid, hence it didn't have a choice but to toe Washington's policy in Afghanistan.

In the end, the Soviet-Afghan War proved to be a "bear trap" and the former Soviet Union was eventually defeated and was subsequently dissolved in December 1991. It did not collapse because of the Afghan Jihad but that was an important factor contributing to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Regardless, more than twenty years before the declassification of the State Department documents as mentioned in the aforementioned Washington Post report, in the 1998 interview to the alternative news outlet The CounterPunch Magazine , former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, confessed that the president signed the directive to provide secret aid to the Afghan jihadists in July 1979, whereas the Soviet Army invaded Afghanistan six months later in December 1979.

Here is a poignant excerpt from the interview: The interviewer puts the question: "And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic jihadists, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?" Brzezinski replies: "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"

Despite the crass insensitivity, one must give credit to Zbigniew Brzezinski that at least he had the courage to speak the unembellished truth. It's worth noting, however, that the aforementioned interview was recorded in 1998. After the 9/11 terror attack, no Western policymaker can now dare to be as blunt and forthright as Brzezinski.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.

Read more by Nauman Sadiq

[Feb 05, 2019] Refusal to hand over Venezuelan gold means end of Britain as a financial center Prof. Wolff -- RT Business News

Feb 05, 2019 | www.rt.com

The freezing of Venezuelan gold by the Bank of England is a signal to all countries out of step with US interests to withdraw their money, according to economist and co-founder of Democracy at Work, Professor Richard Wolff. He told RT America that Britain and its central bank have shown themselves to be "under the thumb of the United States."

"That is a signal to every country that has or may have difficulties with the US, [that they had] better get their money out of England and out of London because it's not the safe place as it once was," he said.

[Feb 04, 2019] US Sanctions as a Tool To Perpetuate Neocolonialism - Antiwar.com Original

Feb 04, 2019 | original.antiwar.com

US Sanctions as a Tool To Perpetuate Neocolonialism

by Nauman Sadiq Posted on February 02, 2019 January 31, 2019 It's an evident fact that neocolonial powers are ruled by behemoth corporations whose wealth is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars, far more than the total GDP of many developing nations. The status of these multinational corporations as dominant players in international politics gets official imprimatur when the Western governments endorse the congressional lobbying practice of so-called "special interest" groups, which is a euphemism for corporate interests.

Since the Western governments are nothing but the mouthpiece of business interests on international political and economic forums, therefore any national or international entity which hinders or opposes the agenda of corporate interests is either coerced into accepting their demands or gets sidelined.

In 2013, the Manmohan Singh's government of India had certain objections to further opening up to the Western businesses. The Business Roundtable, which is an informal congregation of major US businesses and together holds a net wealth of $6 trillion, held a meeting with the representatives of the Indian government and literally coerced it into accepting unfair demands of the Western corporations.

The developing economies, such as India and Pakistan, are always hungry for foreign direct investment (FDI) to sustain economic growth, and this investment mostly comes from the Western corporations. When the Business Roundtables or the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) form pressure groups and engage in "collective bargaining" activities, the nascent and fragile developing economies don't have a choice but to toe their line.

State sovereignty, that sovereign nation states are at liberty to pursue independent policies, particularly economic and trade policies, is a myth. Just like the ruling elites of the developing countries which maintain a stranglehold and monopoly over domestic politics; similarly, the neocolonial powers and multinational corporations control international politics and the global economic order.

Any state in the international arena which dares to transgress the trade and economic policies laid down by neocolonial powers and multinational corporations becomes an international pariah like Castro's Cuba, Mugabe's Zimbabwe; or more recently, Maduro's Venezuela.

Venezuela has one of the largest known oil reserves in the world. Even though the mainstream media's pundits hold the socialist policies of President Nicolas Maduro responsible for economic mismanagement in Venezuela, fact of the matter is that hyperinflation in its economy is the effect of US sanctions against Venezuela which have been put in place since the time of late President Hugo Chavez.

Another case in point is Iran which was cut off from the global economic system from 2006 to 2015, and then again after May last year when President Donald Trump annulled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because of Iran's supposed nuclear ambitions. Good for Iran that it also has one of the largest oil and gas resources, otherwise it would have been insolvent by now.

Such is the power of Washington-led global financial system, especially the banking sector, and the significance of petrodollar, because the global oil transactions are pegged in the US dollars all over the world, and all the major oil bourses are also located in the Western financial districts.

The crippling "third party" economic sanctions on Iran from 2006 to 2015 have brought to the fore the enormous power that the Western financial institutions and the petrodollar as a global reserve currency wields over the global financial system.

It bears mentioning that the Iranian nuclear negotiations were as much about Iran's nuclear program as they were about its ballistic missile program, which is an equally dangerous conventional threat to Israel and the Gulf's petro-monarchies, just across the Persian Gulf.

Despite the sanctions being unfair, Iran felt the heat so much that it remained engaged in negotiations throughout the nearly decade-long period of sanctions, and such was the crippling effect of those "third party" sanctions on Iran's economy that had it not been for its massive oil and gas reserves, and some Russian, Chinese and Turkish help in illicitly buying Iranian oil, it could have defaulted due to the sanctions.

Notwithstanding, after the brutal assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and the clear hand of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the murder, certain naïve political commentators of the mainstream media came up with a ludicrous suggestion that Washington should impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia.

As in the case of aforementioned Iran sanctions, sanctioning Saudi Arabia also seems plausible; however, there is a caveat: Iran is only a single oil-rich state which has 160 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day (mbpd) of crude oil.

On the other hand, the Persian Gulf's petro-monarchies are actually three oil-rich states. Saudi Arabia with its 266 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 10 mbpd of daily crude oil production, and UAE and Kuwait with 100 billion barrels of proven reserves, each, and 3 mbpd of daily crude oil production, each. Together, the share of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) amounts to 466 billion barrels, almost one-third of the world's 1477 billion barrels of total proven oil reserves.

Therefore, although imposing economic sanctions on the Gulf states might sound like a good idea on paper, the relationship between the Gulf's petro-monarchies and the industrialized world is that of a consumer-supplier relationship. The Gulf states are the suppliers of energy and the industrialized world is its consumer, hence the Western powers cannot sanction their energy suppliers and largest investors.

If anything, the Gulf's petro-monarchies had "sanctioned" the Western powers in the past by imposing the oil embargo in 1973 after the Arab-Israel War. The 1973 Arab oil embargo against the West lasted only for a short span of six months during which the price of oil quadrupled, but Washington became so paranoid after the embargo that it put in place a ban on the export of crude oil outside the US borders, and began keeping sixty-day stock of reserve fuel for strategic and military needs.

Recently, some very upbeat rumors about the shale revolution have been circulating in the media. However, the shale revolution is primarily a natural gas revolution. It has increased the probable recoverable resources of natural gas by 30%. The shale oil, on the other hand, refers to two starkly different kinds of energy resources: firstly, the solid kerogen – though substantial resources of kerogen have been found in the US Green River formations, the cost of extracting liquid crude from solid kerogen is so high that it is economically unviable for at least a hundred years; secondly, the tight oil which is blocked by shale – it is a viable energy resource but the reserves are so limited, roughly 4 billion barrels in Texas and North Dakota, that it will run out in a few years.

More than the size of oil reserves, it is about per barrel extraction cost, which determines the profits for the multinational oil companies. And in this regard, the Persian Gulf's crude oil is the most profitable. Further, regarding the supposed US energy independence after the purported shale revolution, the US produced 11 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the first quarter of 2014, which was more than the output of Saudi Arabia and Russia, each of which produces around 10 million bpd. But the US still imported 7.5 million bpd during the same period, which was more than the oil imports of France and Britain put together. More than the total volume of oil production, the volume which an oil-producing country exports determines its place in the hierarchy of petroleum and the Gulf's petro-monarchies constitute the top tier of that pyramid.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.

[Feb 03, 2019] As US Freezes, This Is Where Europeans Can't Afford To Heat Their Homes

Feb 03, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

While the US Midwest suffers with Arctic temperatures, winter tightens its icy stranglehold on Europe, where a considerable number of people are struggling to keep their homes warm.

Statista's Niall McCarthy reports that, according to new data released by Eurostat , eight percent of the EU population couldn't afford to adequately heat their homes in 2017. That still represents an improvement on recent years, particularly 2012 when it peaked at 11 percent.

You will find more infographics at Statista

Among member states , the largest share of people who could not afford to properly heat their home was recorded in Bulgaria at 36.5 percent. It was followed by Lithuania (28.9 percent) and Greece (25.7 percent). The lowest figures were recorded in Luxembourg (1.9 percent), Finland (2.0 percent) and Sweden (2.1 percent).

[Feb 02, 2019] According to the recipes devised by Reagan: why the methods which successfully destroyed the USSR do not work with modern Russia? by Alexey Makurin

Highly recommended!
Slightly edited Goggle translation...
Dominance in technology still represent pretty powerful lever used to damage and possibly subdue Russia. King of technological imperialism.
Notable quotes:
"... As a result, the Soviet and post-Soviet elites adopted the rules established by Washington: they became intermediaries between Western corporations and the wealth of their countries. Russia paid for this deal with the destruction of its industry and the emergence of oligarchs, enriched by mediation. But there were wins. The country has developed large national corporations that have become prominent players on the global map. The same "Gazprom". Over time, Russia has its own ambitions to expand the volume and list of exported goods. ..."
"... In response, 5 years ago, the US led an attack on it, declaring sanctions. ..."
"... - Full and unconditional surrender of Russia in the economy. The West wants through its representatives to manage Russian companies, without intermediaries to enter the Russian domestic market and get the fattest pieces. ..."
"... In addition, in the eighties the USSR lost to the West ideologically. Our society has accumulated a great fatigue from ascetic "socialism" and international expansion with ideological background. The Western model of life and economy began to seem more attractive. ..."
"... -- In the late eighties the Soviet Union accumulated external debts, in full working printing press in order to Supplement the budget and ensure the salary of the people. The planned economy was unable to provide the country with basic goods. And today, private business is able to buy anything and anywhere. Agriculture not only feeds the country on its own, but also has become a major exporter of grain, poultry and pork. The financial system is arranged very rationally: the state debt is minimized and plays a purely technical role, budget revenues exceed expenditures. ..."
"... And from this point of view, the country is again at a crossroads. In 2019, we can see a new wave of the global economic crisis. The first signs of this were already evident at the end of last year, when commodity prices fell sharply and the shares of American companies fell in price. If these trends continue, Russia will not receive easing of sanctions. So, we need to act and strongly non-trivial. ..."
"... It is already clear with whom we can develop further: with the leading Asian countries. At the same time, expanding commodity expansion in foreign markets, it is important to move to a new mercantilism: sell excess, buy only the most necessary, and produce everything else within the country. ..."
www.aif.ru

Article from the newspaper: weekly "Arguments and Facts" № 1-2 09/01/2019

Is the scenario of suffocation of the USSR, carried out by the US 30 years ago, similar to the events that are happening now, and what Russia needs to fear most? "AiF" asked these questions to the Director of the Institute of new society, economist Vasily Koltashov.

How the world has changed

Alexey Makurin," AIF": Looking at the events taking place in recent years, you catch yourself thinking that all this has already happened. The current strategy of suffocation of Russia by America one in one copies the same strategy of times of Reagan. In the eighties, the United States also hampered the construction of a gas pipeline from Siberia to Europe. The fall in oil prices also drained our budget, and defense spending grew. And the army was involved in the conflict in the southern country: Afghanistan. The West deliberately repeats the plan that brought him victory in the cold war?

Vasily Koltashov: it's more of a coincidence. But even if there is some scenario, the game this time is some stupid. In the days of Reagan and Bush senior Americans were more rational, thinner. And now, in everything they do, there is an element of hysteria caused by the need to respond to the complex state of their own Affairs. Compared with the eighties in the us huge public debt and huge bubbles in the stock market, threatening investors ruin. The imbalances that have accumulated in the economy are blocking the development of industrial production. Much other than agriculture and raw material extraction is often expensive and uncompetitive. These problems provoke a conflict not only with Russia, but also with China, with other Eurasian centers of capitalism, which took shape in recent decades.

30 years ago, Western countries revived and developed after the crisis of the seventies. The orbit of influence of the USA included Pakistan, Turkey, China. Now Trump has stopped financing Pakistan. In Turkey, there was an attempt of a coup d'état in which Ankara accused Washington. The Americans are waging a trade war against the Chinese. These and other countries that do not find a common language with the United States, are increasingly trading among themselves. The American press writes about the" Eastern Entente", implying the Eurasian powers.

Increasingly, there are disputes and conflicts between Americans and their European allies, which was unthinkable before. In such a situation, a plan to weaken Russia, similar to the scenario of Reagan advisors, can no longer work.

-- What did the West want, putting pressure on the USSR in the eighties?

- I think the West did not seek to destroy the Soviet Union, but just tried to solved a more utilitarian problem: acquiring new markets for their products. At that time, neoliberal globalization became the main mechanism of economic growth, it was important for the West to draw countries into its orbit, which were previously somehow isolated from the world market. They bought the Russian nomenklatura like they buy local elites in Latin America and tried to concert Russia into Latin American country. They almost succeeded.

How did Ronald Reagan scare the USSR by joking on August 11, 1984?

-- What about Reagan's "evil Empire"statement?

-- It was preparation for the beginning of negotiations from a position of strength. Behind this ideological rhetoric was another meaning: if you continue to maintain its planned economy, closed to free trade, we will begin to destroy it, and if you agree to our terms, we will offer you a deal.

As a result, the Soviet and post-Soviet elites adopted the rules established by Washington: they became intermediaries between Western corporations and the wealth of their countries. Russia paid for this deal with the destruction of its industry and the emergence of oligarchs, enriched by mediation. But there were wins. The country has developed large national corporations that have become prominent players on the global map. The same "Gazprom". Over time, Russia has its own ambitions to expand the volume and list of exported goods.

In response, 5 years ago, the US led an attack on it, declaring sanctions.

- What is their purpose in the current situation?

- Full and unconditional surrender of Russia in the economy. The West wants through its representatives to manage Russian companies, without intermediaries to enter the Russian domestic market and get the fattest pieces.

How Russia has changed

- This time Russia does not give up and attacks itself, as is happening in the same Syria. What changed?

- The country and enterprises are now run by people with a market view of the world who know the value of the wealth they dispose of. It was for Gorbachev that Soviet factories were an abstraction, he did not understand their true value. His concessions to the US and Europe were completely irrational from a commercial point of view. It's impossible now.

In addition, in the eighties the USSR lost to the West ideologically. Our society has accumulated a great fatigue from ascetic "socialism" and international expansion with ideological background. The Western model of life and economy began to seem more attractive. The war in Afghanistan was declared meaningless. And now the Syrian conflict, Russia does not solve a particular ideological goals. The military plays the role of guards of its economic interests. Without any doubt, it would be more difficult for our government to agree with OPEC on limiting oil production, if not for the successes in Syria. This agreement in 2017-2018 allowed to raise oil prices and helped to resume economic growth in Russia.

-- Was it possible for the Soviet leadership to influence world oil prices?

- The USSR, too, nothing prevented to sit down at the negotiating table with OPEC. But that wouldn't change the situation. Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters were then loyal allies of the United States. The West then concentrated all the world's capital, he put the OPEC countries conditions: create comfortable prices for us, and we will invest in your economy.

And today, Saudi capital seeks to play an independent role, Riyadh's relations with Washington have become cooler, and with Moscow, on the contrary, warmer. And the US itself is increasingly supplying hydrocarbons for export: it is predicted that in 2019 they will come out on top in the world for oil production. But this leadership is provided to Americans by expensive shale oil, the extraction of which becomes unprofitable at prices below $ 40 per barrel. So, for the US, very low oil prices are now also unprofitable.

On the other hand, the dependence of the Russian budget on oil and gas today is also higher than 30-35 years ago, when the country had a more powerful industry. This is an additional risk.

-- What new qualities acquired by the Russian economy allow it to successfully withstand Western pressure?

-- In the late eighties the Soviet Union accumulated external debts, in full working printing press in order to Supplement the budget and ensure the salary of the people. The planned economy was unable to provide the country with basic goods. And today, private business is able to buy anything and anywhere. Agriculture not only feeds the country on its own, but also has become a major exporter of grain, poultry and pork. The financial system is arranged very rationally: the state debt is minimized and plays a purely technical role, budget revenues exceed expenditures.

Where the main threats

-- But aren't the military expenditures, which have to be made in the conditions of confrontation with the United States, too high? Will it not be possible that the new arms race will be too much for the country?

- Financing of the defense industry to the detriment of consumer and other civil industries usually occurs in the planned mobilization system, where all the resources of the country are concentrated by the state. And in a market economy, such imbalances appear only during the war, when budget distortions arise and private companies begin to focus more on military orders than on grass-roots demand. There is no such thing in Russia now, although the government's attention to defense capability is growing along with the pressure of the US and its allies.

- Where does the main danger come from in such a situation?

-- Not exactly from the USA. The main threat to Russia is low effective demand within the country. The weakness of the ruble, the low rate of economic growth -- all this is a consequence of the poverty of the mass buyer.

And from this point of view, the country is again at a crossroads. In 2019, we can see a new wave of the global economic crisis. The first signs of this were already evident at the end of last year, when commodity prices fell sharply and the shares of American companies fell in price. If these trends continue, Russia will not receive easing of sanctions. So, we need to act and strongly non-trivial.

With whom will trade? Expert on how Russia can live under sanctions

It is already clear with whom we can develop further: with the leading Asian countries. At the same time, expanding commodity expansion in foreign markets, it is important to move to a new mercantilism: sell excess, buy only the most necessary, and produce everything else within the country. This is a traditional trade on the "method of cat Matroskin", which existed for thousands of years: "To buy something you need, you must first sell something unnecessary." All need to produce themselves.

And it is important to support the Russian buyer. This may be a preferential mortgage loan at 3-5% per annum, which will stimulate demand for housing and the sectors of the economy that are associated with construction. This may be an increase in the number of school teachers, doctors and kindergarten workers. We need an hourly wage to let people know what their time is worth. It is extremely important to have a tax-free minimum income (at least 50 thousand rubles per month). It is necessary to interest migrant workers to live in Russia and leave money in our country, which will help to create new jobs. We need to directly give people money and encourage all kinds of entrepreneurship, release the economic energy of society.

[Feb 02, 2019] Former AOL exec Jean Case faults tech giants for trying to 'own the world'

Notable quotes:
"... Big tech companies have bullied competitors and outrun ethical standards in an effort to "own the world," Jean Case, the CEO of the Case Foundation and a former senior executive at AOL, told Yahoo Finance this week. "Many of those big companies are crowding out new innovations of young upstarts. That's not healthy," she said, in response to a question about Google and Facebook. ..."
Feb 02, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Big tech companies have bullied competitors and outrun ethical standards in an effort to "own the world," Jean Case, the CEO of the Case Foundation and a former senior executive at AOL, told Yahoo Finance this week. "Many of those big companies are crowding out new innovations of young upstarts. That's not healthy," she said, in response to a question about Google and Facebook.

"On the technology side, look, things have changed so fast," Case said. "I think we just haven't kept pace with some of the ethics policies and frameworks that we need to put around this stuff...used by millions of millions before thought is given to implications."

Case made the comments in a conversation that aired on Yahoo Finance on Thursday at 5 p.m. EST in an episode of " Influencers with Andy Serwer ," a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment. In addition to her comments on big tech, Case explained why a woman can be elected president, what National Geographic has done to thrive amid media industry tumult, and how it felt at AOL in the heady early days of the internet.

... ... ...

[Feb 02, 2019] The US has a secret weapon in the trade war

Technological superiority is a weapon and the USA know how to use it.
Notable quotes:
"... Made in China 2025 is the Chinese government's 10-year plan to update the country's 10 high-tech manufacturing industries, which include information technology, robotics, aerospace, rail transport, and new-energy vehicles, among others. ..."
"... Without U.S. semis, China will not be able to process the technology necessary to push forward the Made in China 2025 program. "American chips in many ways form the backbone of China's tech economy," Shah said. ..."
"... The Trump Administration's tariffs on Chinese goods were intended to severely disrupt the Chinese tech-advancement initiative. But Shah says that making U.S. chips more expensive for China could have consequences for the U.S. as well. ..."
"... "Over 50% of Chinese semiconductor consumption is supplied by U.S. firms In 2017, China consumed $138bn in integrated circuits (ICs), of which it only produced $18.5bn domestically, implying China imported $120bn of semis in 2017, up from $98bn in 2016 and $73bn in 2012." ..."
"... If the two leaders are unable to come to some sort of trade resolution at the meeting, U.S. tariffs on over $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will increase from 10% to 25% on January 1, 2019. ..."
"... While US has the upper hand on semis, a trade embargo on semis will (1) slows down China's move towards achieving Made in China 2025, (2) at the same time give China the impetus to rush ahead will all resources available to achieve the originally omitted goal of being self-sufficient in tech skills and technology, and (3) seriously hurt companies like Intel, AMD, Micron, and Qualcom as a huge percentage of their businesses are with China, and with that portion of their business gone, all these companies will end up in a loss and without the needed financial resources to invest into new technology in the near future. ..."
Nov 30, 2018 | www.yahoo.com

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.html?screen_name=heidi_chung&show_screen_name=false&show_count=false

Heidi Chung Reporter , Yahoo Finance November 28, 2018

As trade tensions run hot between the U.S. and China, President Trump might have one key advantage in the trade war, according to Nomura.

Analyst Romit Shah explained that China's dependence on U.S.-made advanced microchips could give Trump the upper hand.

"We believe that as China-U.S. tensions escalate, U.S. semiconductors give Washington a strong hand because the core components of Made in China 2025 (AI, smart factories, 5G, bigdata and full self-driving electric vehicles) can't happen without advanced microchips from the U.S.," Shah said in a note to clients.

BEIJING, CHINA – NOVEMBER 9, 2017: US President Donald Trump (L) and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands at a press conference following their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Artyom Ivanov/TASS (Photo by Artyom Ivanov\TASS via Getty Images)

Made in China 2025 is the Chinese government's 10-year plan to update the country's 10 high-tech manufacturing industries, which include information technology, robotics, aerospace, rail transport, and new-energy vehicles, among others.

One of Made in China 2025's main goals is to become semiconductor self sufficient. China hopes that at least 40% of the semiconductors used in China will be made locally by 2020, and at least 70% by 2025. "Made in China 2025 made abundantly clear China's commitment to semiconductor self-sufficiency. Made in China 2025 will upgrade multiple facets of the Chinese economy," Shah said.

According to Nomura's estimates, China is currently about 3 to 5 years behind the U.S. in dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chip production. However, Shah explained that if the trade war persists, the consequences could set Chinese chip production behind by 5 to 15 years.

Without U.S. semis, China will not be able to process the technology necessary to push forward the Made in China 2025 program. "American chips in many ways form the backbone of China's tech economy," Shah said.

Consequences for U.S.

The Trump Administration's tariffs on Chinese goods were intended to severely disrupt the Chinese tech-advancement initiative. But Shah says that making U.S. chips more expensive for China could have consequences for the U.S. as well.

One concern centers around intellectual property theft. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has been working hard to punish China for allegedly attempting to commit espionage. For example, the DOJ believes China was attempting to spy on the U.S. through Huawei and asked U.S. allies to drop the Chinese tech equipment maker.

However, while many U.S. chipmakers, such as Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD ), Qualcomm ( QCOM ) and Micron ( MU ), expressed gratitude that the DOJ was intervening to prevent intellectual property theft, the companies are also concerned that it could spark retaliation from their Chinese business partners and result in loss of access to the Chinese market. "Joint ventures, IP sharing agreements and manufacturing partnerships are the price of admission into China, and thus far, companies are playing ball," Shah explained.

Shah essentially calls the Chinese tariffs a double-edged sword. While tariffs will hurt the Chinese if they can't have access to freely source U.S. chips, it could also hurt U.S. chipmakers if they lose their business in China. According to Shah's research, "Over 50% of Chinese semiconductor consumption is supplied by U.S. firms In 2017, China consumed $138bn in integrated circuits (ICs), of which it only produced $18.5bn domestically, implying China imported $120bn of semis in 2017, up from $98bn in 2016 and $73bn in 2012."

Trump and China's President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Thursday for a two-day meeting. If the two leaders are unable to come to some sort of trade resolution at the meeting, U.S. tariffs on over $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will increase from 10% to 25% on January 1, 2019.

"China could source equipment from Europe and Japan; however, we believe there are certain mission-critical tools that can only be purchased from the U.S. We believe that U.S.-China trade is the biggest theme for U.S. semis and equipment stocks in 2019. Made in China 2025 can't happen without U.S. semis, and U.S. semis can't grow without China. We hope this backdrop drives resolution," Shah said.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung .

R

[Jan 25, 2019] Re-Colonisation

Jan 25, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

January 25, 2019 For Thierry Meyssan, one of the consequences of the successive ends of the bipolar and unipolar world is the re-establishment of colonial projects. One after the other, the French, Turkish and English have publicly declared the return of their colonial ambitions. We still need to know what form they will adopt in the 21st century.
by Thierry Meyssan
Part 3 - The British Empire
As for the United Kingdom, it has been hesitating for two years about its future after the Brexit.
A little after the arrival of Donald Trump at the White House, Prime Minister Theresa May went to the United States. Speaking to the representatives of the Republican Party, she proposed re-establishing the Anglo-Saxon leadership of the rest of the world. But President Trump has been elected to liquidate these imperial dreams, not to share them.
Disappointed, Theresa May then travelled to China in order to propose that President Xi Jinping share control of international exchanges. The City, she said, was ready to ensure the convertibility of Western currencies into Yuan. But President Xi had not been elected to do business with an heiress of the power which had dismantled his country and imposed on the Chinese their opium war.
Theresa May tried a third version with the Commonwealth. Some of the ex-colonies of the Crown, like India, are today enjoying powerful growth and could become precious commercial partners. Symbolically, the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Charles, was raised to the Presidency of this association. Mrs. May announced that we are on our way to a Global Britain.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph on 30 December 2018, the British Minister for Defence, Gavin Williamson, published his analysis of the situation. Since the fiasco of the Suez Canal in 1956, the United Kingdom has implemented a policy of decolonisation, and has withdrawn its troops from the rest of the world. Today, it conserves permanent military bases only in Gibraltar, Cyprus, Diego Garcia and the "Falklands", to give these islands their imperial title.
For the last 63 years, London has been oriented towards the European Union, invented by Winston Churchill, but to which, initially, he never imagined that England would belong. The Brexit "tears this policy to shreds". From now on, "the United Kingdom is back as a global power".
London is planning to open two permanent military bases. The first will probably be in Asia (Singapore or Brunei), and the second in Latin America - most likely in Guyana, in order to participate in the new stage of the Rumsfeld-Cebrowski strategy of the destruction of those regions of the world which are not connected to globalisation. After the "African Great Lakes", the "Greater Middle East", it's time for the "Caribbean Basin". The war will probably start with an invasion of Venezuela by Colombia (pro-US), Brazil (pro-Israëli) and Guyana (pro-British).

[Jan 22, 2019] War with Russia From Putin Ukraine to Trump Russiagate

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Professor Cohen is indeed a patriot of the highest order. The American and "Globalists" elites, particularly the dysfunctional United Kingdom, are engaging in a war of nerves with Russia. This war, which could turn nuclear for reasons discussed in this important book, is of no benefit to any person or nation. ..."
Jan 22, 2019 | www.amazon.com

P. Philips 5.0 out of 5 stars December 6, 2018

"In a Time of Universal Deceit -- Telling the Truth Is a Revolutionary Act"

"In a Time of Universal Deceit -- Telling the Truth Is a Revolutionary Act" is a well known quotation (but probably not of George Orwell). And in telling the truth about Russia and that the current "war of nerves" is not in the interests of either the American People or national security, Professor Cohen in this book has in fact done a revolutionary act.

Like a denizen of Plato's cave, or being in the film the Matrix, most people have no idea what the truth is. And the questions raised by Professor Cohen are a great service in the cause of the truth. As Professor Cohen writes in his introduction To His Readers:

"My scholarly work -- my biography of Nikolai Bukharin and essays collected in Rethinking the Soviet Experience and Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives, for example -- has always been controversial because it has been what scholars term "revisionist" -- reconsiderations, based on new research and perspectives, of prevailing interpretations of Soviet and post-Soviet Russian history. But the "controversy" surrounding me since 2014, mostly in reaction to the contents of this book, has been different -- inspired by usually vacuous, defamatory assaults on me as "Putin's No. 1 American Apologist," "Best Friend," and the like. I never respond specifically to these slurs because they offer no truly substantive criticism of my arguments, only ad hominem attacks. Instead, I argue, as readers will see in the first section, that I am a patriot of American national security, that the orthodox policies my assailants promote are gravely endangering our security, and that therefore we -- I and others they assail -- are patriotic heretics. Here too readers can judge."

Cohen, Stephen F.. War with Russia (Kindle Locations 131-139). Hot Books. Kindle Edition.

Professor Cohen is indeed a patriot of the highest order. The American and "Globalists" elites, particularly the dysfunctional United Kingdom, are engaging in a war of nerves with Russia. This war, which could turn nuclear for reasons discussed in this important book, is of no benefit to any person or nation.

Indeed, with the hysteria on "climate change" isn't it odd that other than Professor Cohen's voice, there are no prominent figures warning of the devastation that nuclear war would bring?

If you are a viewer of one of the legacy media outlets, be it Cable Television networks, with the exception of Tucker Carlson on Fox who has Professor Cohen as a frequent guest, or newspapers such as The New York Times, you have been exposed to falsehoods by remarkably ignorant individuals; ignorant of history, of the true nature of Russia (which defeated the Nazis in Europe at a loss of millions of lives) and most important, of actual military experience. America is neither an invincible or exceptional nation. And for those familiar with terminology of ancient history, it appears the so-called elites are suffering from hubris.

I cannot recommend Professor Cohen's work with sufficient superlatives; his arguments are erudite, clearly stated, supported by the facts and ultimately irrefutable. If enough people find Professor Cohen's work and raise their voices to their oblivious politicians and profiteers from war to stop further confrontation between Russia and America, then this book has served a noble purpose.

If nothing else, educate yourself by reading this work to discover what the *truth* is. And the truth is something sacred.

America and the world owe Professor Cohen a great debt. "Blessed are the peace makers..."

jn 5.0 out of 5 stars January 18, 2019

This book examines the senseless and dangerous demonizing of Russia and Putin

This is a compelling book that documents and examines the senseless and dangerous demonizing of Russia and Putin. Unfortunately, the elites in Washington and mass media are not likely to read this book. Their minds are closed. I read this book because I was hoping for an explanation about the cause of the new cold war with Russia. Although the root cause of the new cold war is beyond the scope of this book, the book documents baseless accusations that grew in frequency and intensity until all opposition was silenced. The book documents the dangerous triumph of group think.

skeptic

"On my planet, the evidence linking Putin to the assassination of Litvinecko, Nemtsov, and Politkovskaya and the attempt on the Skripals is strong and consistent with spending his formative years in the KGB. The naive view from Cohen's planet is presented on p 6 and 170."

Ukrainian history. That's evident to any attentive reader. I just want to state that Ukrainian EuroMaydan was a color revolution which exploited the anger of population against the corrupt neoliberal government of Yanukovich (with Biden as the best friend, and Paul Manafort as the election advisor) to install even more neoliberal and more corrupt government of Poroshenko and cut Ukraine from Russia. The process that was probably inevitable in the long run (so called Baltic path), but that was forcefully accelerated. Everything was taken from the Gene Sharp textbook. And Ukrainians suffered greatly as a result, with the standard of living dropping to around $2 a day level -- essentially Central Africa level.

The fact is that the EU acted as a predator trying to get into Ukraine markets and displace Russia. While the USA neocons (Nuland and Co) staged the coup using Ukrainian nationalists as a ram, ignoring the fact that Yanukovich would be voted out in six months anyway (his popularity was in single digits, like popularity of Poroshenko those days ;-). The fact that Obama administration desperately wanted to weaken Russia at the expense of Ukrainians eludes you. I would blame Nuland for the loss of Crimea and the civil war in Donbass.

Poor Ukrainians again became the victim of geopolitical games by big powers. No that they are completely blameless, but still...

It looks like you inhabit a very cold populated exclusively with neocons planet called "Russiagate." So Professor Cohen really lives on another planet. And probably you should drink less American exceptionalism Kool-Aid.

[Jan 22, 2019] The US managed the overthrow of the Afghanistan government seventeen years ago, then creating a puppet government with a feckless army to fight the Afghan resistance while assassinating many of the Afghan leaders who fought to regain their country, and now the US is ready to "address legitimate concerns" of all Afghan sides?

Jan 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Don Bacon , Jan 21, 2019 8:21:20 PM | link

ISLAMABAD -- U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Saturday that Washington was ready to "address legitimate concerns" of all Afghan sides in order to restore peace in Afghanistan. Since being appointed in September, Khalilzad has met with all sides, including the Taliban, Afghan officials and Pakistan's political and military leadership in efforts aimed at finding a negotiated end to America's longest war in neighboring Afghanistan.//

The US managed the overthrow of the Afghanistan government seventeen years ago, then creating a puppet government with a feckless army to fight the Afghan resistance while assassinating many of the Afghan leaders who fought to regain their country, and now the US is ready to "address legitimate concerns" of all Afghan sides?

Well the Afghan officials are US puppets, so rule them out of legitimate concerns (as the Taliban has done). Pakistan? They fully support the Taliban's return to government, so that's a "legitimate concern" as is the Taliban's return to power.

Anything less ain't gonna work, that's obvious. Khalilzad was appointed in September to achieve results in six months, which is soon. So get with it, Zalmay. Get the US troops out of there as the Taliban demands in your "peace" talks.

Zachary Smith , Jan 21, 2019 9:15:51 PM | link

[T]he units have also operated unconstrained by battlefield rules designed to protect civilians, conducting night raids, torture and killings with near impunity, in a covert campaign that some Afghan and American officials say is undermining the wider American effort to strengthen Afghan institutions.

The "special forces" and the people trained by them don't follow rules. This has been going on for a long time.

FREE OF OVERSIGHT, U.S. MILITARY TRAINS FOREIGN TROOPS By Dana Priest July 12, 1998

The Clinton administration has enforced a near-total ban on the supply and sale of U.S. military equipment and training for the Colombian military because of its deep involvement in drug-related corruption and its record of killing politicians, human rights activists and civilians living in areas controlled by guerrilla groups.

The piece goes on to say that Special Forces were immune from this ban on training a foreign military to kill politicians, human rights activists and civilians" . It names dozens of nations where this was happening.

Of course not all US Special Forces are wild and lawless. Unfortunately the ones who do behave are at risk of being killed themselves.

Green Beret killed by strangulation reportedly turned down illegal money from Navy SEALs

The Green Beret was murdered because he was NOT dishonest.

The Pentagon is belatedly cracking down. Or at least pretending to.

Pentagon ready to 'admit problem' of rampant Special Forces crimes – report

Whenever you have a combination of lousy leadership and "Special Forces", there is going to be a problem. Australia has recently made the news in that regard.

The Abuse Scandal Rocking Australia's Special Operations Forces

Individually, each claim is staggering: apparent execution of detainees; reported use of so-called drop weapons, planted to cover up unlawful killings; confirmed reports of commandos flying a Nazi flag on a combat patrol; alleged "blooding" of rookies, initiation rites in which newcomers were pressured to execute unarmed men. In one particularly sadistic case, a prosthetic limb was allegedly pilfered from the corpse of a dead Afghan, only to be repatriated and repurposed as a novelty binge-drinking implement.

At some point a Special Forces person is going to shrug and say "so what?" He or she knows they can double or triple their pay with Blackwater-type mercenary forces. So except for taking minimal precautions against going on trial, they can do as they please.

Don Bacon , Jan 21, 2019 9:16:09 PM | link
The base attack took place in Maidan Wardak Province, where US Special Forces troops were evicted five years ago for atrocities.

In 2013 President Hamid Karzai demanded the withdrawal of all U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) from Wardak province after charges that U.S. special forces stationed in Wardak province engaged in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed May 12, 2012 between the U.S. military and the Afghan Defence Ministry was trumpeted by the Obama administration as giving the Afghan government control over such operations.

But a little-noticed provision of the agreement defined the "special operations" covered by the agreement as those operations that are "approved by the Afghan Operational Coordination Group (OCG) and conducted by Afghan Forces with support from U.S. Forces in accordance with Afghan laws."

That meant that the SOF was still free to carry out other raids without consultation with the Afghan government, until Karzai threw them out. But not the CIA.

Glenn Brown , Jan 21, 2019 9:27:10 PM | link
@ 30 Pft

The idea that the US isn't REALLY trying to win wars strikes me as more of a rationalization of failure than a real explanation. The US is an economically declining power that is trying to use its military dominance to maintain, and ideally increase its power. So wouldn't it be in the US's best interests if Afghanistan or Iraq (for example) were completely controlled by US controlled puppet governments, and US controlled corporations were making huge profits by exploiting those countries mineral and human resources? Wouldn't that be far more profitable than the mere creation of chaos?
Part of the reason I tend to find your ideas less than plausible, Pft, is that you always seem to vastly exaggerate the competence and power of the US or transnational elites you suspect are controlling everything. So I don't think the US's wars are either "fake" or "forever". Instead they are failures. And they can't last forever, because the corrupt system that generates them needs some successes, and soon, in order to continue to survive.

[Jan 22, 2019] Latin America Here's how neoliberal economists wreak havoc on the global poor while protecting the financial elite by Vijay Prashad

Notable quotes:
"... November 14, 2018 ..."
"... This article was produced by Globetrotter , a project of the Independent Media Institute. ..."
www.defenddemocracy.press
Thanks to the IMF, the pockets of the forgotten from Argentina to Mexico will suffer so that finance is left intact.

November 14, 2018

On December 1, Mexico will have a new president -- Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He will take over the presidency from the lackluster Enrique Peña Nieto, whose administration is marinated in corruption. Peña Nieto's legal office has already asked the Supreme Court to shield his officials from prosecution for corruption. The elite will protect itself. López Obrador will not be able to properly exorcize the corrupt from the Mexican state, let alone from Mexican society. Corrupt weeds grow on the soil of capitalism, the loam of profit and greed as well as of rents from government contracts.

López Obrador comes to the presidency as a man of the left, but the space for maneuvering that he has for a left agenda is minimal. Mexico's economy, through geography and trade agreements, is fused with that of the United States. More than 80 percent of Mexico's exports go to its neighbor to the north, while Mexico's financial sector is almost entirely at the mercy of Northern banks.

Already, López Obrador has had to deal with the leash from Northern banks that sits tightly around Mexico's throat. On October 28, after the election, López Obrador canceled the project to build a new airport for Mexico City. This new airport -- at a cost of US$13.4 billion -- is seen as far too expensive (Istanbul has just inaugurated a new airport, far bigger, for almost US$2 billion less). The peso fell, the Mexican stock market fell, Fitch downgraded Mexico to "negative," and international investors frowned.

Then, in early November, legislators from López Obrador's party -- Morena -- proposed laws to limit bank fees. Mexico's stock market collapsed. It was the worst single-day loss of the BMV stock index in seven years. The bankers sent López Obrador a message: don't rock the boat.

Hastily, López Obrador's choice for the finance ministry -- Carlos Urzúa -- scolded the legislators and winked to the banks. Urzúa, an economist, has spent years consulting for the World Bank and other such agencies. It is hard to find an economist these days who has not put his fingers into a consultancy for either the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The economics profession has slid almost wholesale into the pocket of international agencies that are committed to a very asphyxiating version of public policy -- one that goes by the name of neoliberalism. It is a policy framework that favors multinational corporations over workers, one that seeks to control inflation rather than find ways to improve the livelihood of people. Finance is the religion, while Money is God.

Read also: Trump's Plan Makes Nuclear War More Likely

López Obrador and Urzúa do not have the political power to challenge the order of things.

IMF Comes to Mexico City

Just a month before López Obrador takes office, the IMF sent a team to Mexico. This team came to do a study based on the IMF charter's Article IV. Its report set limits on what López Obrador's government can do. There is the usual verbal concern expressed for inequality and poverty, but this is just window-dressing. Nothing in the IMF staff statement indicated a policy that would tackle Mexico's grave problems of poverty and inequality.

What the report details instead is a caution that López Obrador must not try to invest funds in infrastructure that benefits the Mexican people -- investment, for instance, in the sclerotic oil industry (Pemex). Mexico, an oil exporting state, imports oil because it has limited refining capacity. López Obrador has said he wants Mexico to properly develop the state-run oil firm Pemex. But the IMF staff statement says that "further improvements of Pemex's financial situation are a prerequisite before new investments in refining can be contemplated." López Obrador will be forced to make drastic cuts in Pemex and to continue to drain the exchequer to import oil. No structural change is going to be possible here without a negative IMF report, which would further encourage an investment strike into Mexico.

Someone should encourage the IMF to stop sending staff teams into countries like Mexico. Each report is identical to the previous one. Nothing seems to be learned by these teams. Years ago, a senior IMF economist told me that when he arrived in a Central Asian country he knew nothing of that country, he got to see nothing of it when he was there and he knew virtually nothing when he drafted the Article IV review. All he did in the country was sit in one air-conditioned room after another, listen to canned reports from nervous finance ministry officials and then develop the report based on the IMF's same old recipe -- make cuts, target welfare, privatize and make sure that the banks are happy.

Read also: Brexit: Here's how top economists are reacting to Britain's shocking vote

Latitude for creative policy making is simply not available. The IMF comes to town to tell new governments to behave. López Obrador and his cabinet will have to listen. Any deviation from the IMF recipe will make investors flee and foreign investment dry up. It is so easy these days to suffocate a country.

IMF Comes to Buenos Aires

For the past two decades, the IMF had found it difficult to dictate terms in Latin America. From 2002 to 2007, left-leaning governments governed most of the region, where economic activity was helped along by high commodity prices (including oil prices) and high remittance payments.

Even Mexico's conservative President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) had to lean into the prevailing winds of Bolivarianism. In 2011, at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Calderón championed integration of Latin America -- something that is least to be expected from a Mexican head of government, because Mexico is firmly integrated into the United States.

The world financial crisis from 2007 hit Latin America hard. Calderón went to Davos the next year and said that Latin America would be insulated from the crisis. Far from it, Mexico had already begun to suffer job loss as the economy of its main trade partner -- the United States -- contracted. An IMF study found that Latin America lost 40 percent of its wealth in 2008. Public finances contracted, and public investments declined. Inflation led to higher poverty rates and to social instability.

A quick summary: Why did Latin America's economies suffer a crisis after 2007? It was not because of the left-leaning governments and their policies. It was because of the over-leveraged financial system, only one of whose asset bubbles -- U.S. housing prices -- collapsed. Deep integration into and reliance upon the U.S.-dominated financial system, and poor diversification of their economies from the U.S. market, meant that as the U.S. banks contracted, Latin America felt the pain. Over 80 percent of Argentina's private debt was in dollars in 2002, while only a quarter of Argentina's economy was geared toward exports. This was the fuel that was fated to burst into flame. It is this dollar reliance that could not be corrected.

Read also: BRICS: Superpowers in Traditional Medicine

The exported economic problem had a political impact. It weakened the left-leaning governments, even as these governments tried to ameliorate the crisis. Many of these governments -- from Argentina to Brazil -- lost elections, while social turmoil struck others -- from Venezuela to Nicaragua. It is in this context that the International Monetary Fund returned to Latin America with a vengeance.

After two decades of relative absence, the IMF has now returned to Argentina (on which please see this dossier from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research). Its Article IV staff statement from December last year pointed to the problems of high borrowing in foreign currency, a problem that was recognized in 2001-2002. But the power of international finance -- centered at Wall Street and the City of London -- prevented any easy pivot out of this problem. It was easier to demand cuts from the already meager incomes of ordinary people.

In 1994, Mexico suffered from what became known as the "tequila crisis," as the peso collapsed when international capital fled the country. The government would not place capital controls to protect the peso against currency speculators. The "tequila effect" then spread to South America. No one was prepared to stand up to the dollar and the speculators. From the forests of Chiapas, Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas spoke out in favor of the pockets of the forgotten, the people who did not cause the crisis but who would bear the cost of these financial shenanigans. Once more, with help from the IMF, the pockets of the forgotten from Argentina to Mexico will suffer so that finance is left intact.

This article was produced by Globetrotter , a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Published at https://www.alternet.org/2018/11/international-monetary-fund-flexes-its-muscles-latin-america/

[Jan 21, 2019] Control of money and control of information are two keys to the making other states vassals. The American military and CIA have provided most of the overt and covert 'muscle' for that control system.political power

Jan 21, 2019 | www.unz.com

Robert Snefjella , says: January 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm GMT

The MSM and its allies in the controlled alternative media, and the global private-interest financial, investment and banking system, are a tag-team, indispensable to each other. Control of money and control of information. The first narrowly concentrates wealth and thus power and influence. The second through agenda-driven selection, lies, censorship, spin, misdirection and so on – disinformation – controls people's sense of what is real and possible, thus dis-empowering them.

The American military and CIA have provided most of the overt and covert 'muscle' for that control system.

The combined effort of narrowly controlled and narrowly advantaging globe straddling finance, media, and muscle has facilitated the development of a near global Empire. In common with traditional Empires this new Empire had totalitarian ambitions: but since its reach was global, this is really a first attempt at global totalitarian control.

Russia under Putin – leaving aside China – has developed enough strength to attempt alternative modes of communication and finance and development, not as adjuncts or subordinates to the Empire's efforts in those regards. And their military is antidote and opposition to the totalitarian project.

The forgoing is pretty obvious stuff, but I think that the Saker's concluding paragraph provides a limiting summary of how the issue can play out.

"But fundamentally the Russian people need to decide. Do they really want to live in a
western-style capitalist society (with all the russophobic politics and the adoption
of the terminally degenerate "culture" such a choice implies), or do they want a
"social society" (to use Putin's own words) – meaning a society in which social and economic
justice and the good of the country are placed above corporate and personal profits.

You could say that this is a battle of greed vs ethics."

This is a simplistic way of looking at the choices available. We are all caught up in transitional culture processes, no matter where we live. The conjunction of the cornucopia of new technology and unprecedented environmental and social challenges is everywhere at play, leading who knows where?

What the Russian people have been given, and this is near singular on Earth, is a protected and enhanced opportunity of developing a culture in which honest national discourse is a predominant feature. This is in complete contrast to the predominant 'fake news' system of discourse control that is in place in so many countries. And full and honest discourse will create its own original cultural developments.

The Russian adoption of more honest discourse is already having global influence. An example is Russia Today, which far from perfect and all that, still provides an enormous advance over the extremely controlled western mass media, and a powerful foe to 'fake news'.

Perhaps the most visible exemplar of rationale discourse has been Putin himself, with for example his marathon annual Q and A with the Russian people, or his articulate well considered sallies on many issues

And with that – if Russia can use unfettered reason writ large as a prime ingredient of cultural and political development, as a basic developmental 'steering tool' – then the simple dichotomy of "western-style capitalist society" vs "a society in which social and economic justice and the good of the country are placed above corporate and personal profits" , as much as I'm sympathetic to the latter, seems to me to be a limiting way of expressing the range of potential beneficent possibilities.

[Jan 21, 2019] Chaos is very profitable for extracting resources and supplying and controlling the world narcotic business

By walking out of the JCPOA and sanctioning Iran, the Trump administration gave Iran's mullahs every reason to subvert US on the ground.
Creation by CIA of "Afghan death squads" like in LA might not work as intended
Jan 21, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
ADKC , Jan 21, 2019 2:57:44 PM | link
< large U.S. surges.>

The Soviet war in Afghanistan lasted nine years. But it was largely successful in building a stable government and the Soviets left a mostly competent Afghan military behind. Three years later Russia ended its financial support for the Afghan government. Only that gave the guerrilla the chance to destroy the state.

After 18 years in Afghanistan the U.S. military seems still unable to create and train competent local forces.

The $8 billion spent on the Afghan airforce have resulted in a mostly incapable force that depends on U.S. contractors to keep its birds flying. This was the result of unreasonable decisions:

Aviation experts have criticized a decision to phase out the old workhorses of the Afghan forces -- Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters -- for American-made UH-60 Black Hawks.

Mr. Michel, the retired general, said the Mi-17 was "the perfect helicopter" for Afghanistan because it can carry more troops and supplies than the Black Hawk and is less complicated to fly.

"Let's be candid," he said of the switch. "That was largely done for political reasons."

The U.S. military built an Afghan force in its own image:

American trainers have built an Afghan Army that relies heavily on air power that the air force might not be able to provide for years, said John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction.

Why the U.S. military, which since Vietnam proved inept at fighting local guerrilla, believed that its ways of fighting suits an Afghan force is inexplicable. If the Taliban manage to win without an airforce why should the Afghan military need one?

The only 'effective' Afghan units are the CIA controlled brigades which are known for the very worst atrocities on the civilian population:

As Mr. Khan was driven away for questioning, he watched his home go up in flames. Within were the bodies of two of his brothers and of his sister-in-law Khanzari, who was shot three times in the head. Villagers who rushed to the home found the burned body of her 3-year-old daughter, Marina, in a corner of a torched bedroom.

The men who raided the family's home that March night, in the district of Nader Shah Kot, were members of an Afghan strike force trained and overseen by the Central Intelligence Agency in a parallel mission to the United States military's, but with looser rules of engagement.

... ... ...

that the two most effective and ruthless forces, in Khost and Nangarhar Provinces, are still sponsored mainly by the C.I.A.

This conflict between militarized CIA proxy forces and forces trained by the U.S. military played out in every recent war the U.S. waged. In Iraq CIA sponsored Shia units clashed with Pentagon sponsored Sunni militia. In Syria this CIA trained 'rebels' ended up shooting at U.S. military trained 'rebels' and vice versa. In Afghanistan the rogue force under CIA control is some 3.000 to 10,000 strong. It large alienates the same population the Afghan military tries to protect.

Unity of command is an important condition for successful military campaigns. As the military works in one direction while the CIA pulls in another one, the campaign in Afghanistan continues to fail.

A similar split can be seen in Afghanistan's political field. The CIA is notorious for bribing Afghan politicians, while the military launches anti-corruption campaigns. The political system installed by such competing forces is unsustainable.

The last Afghan election with the top candidates being the Pashto Ashraf Ghani and the Tajik Abdullah Abdullah, was marred in irregularities. The uncertain outcome led the U.S. to fudge the results by making Ghani president and Abudullah his 'chief executive'. Both are now again competing against each other in the elections that are to be held later this year. They will be as irregular as all elections in Afghanistan are. The disputed outcome might well lead to new clashes between ethnic groups.

This upcoming conflict will further weaken the Afghan state. Why hasn't anything be done to prevent it?

@1 @3

While appearing weak, incompetent and clueless the US implements chaos exactly as intended. It works in Congo, it works in Libya, it works in South America and it works in Afghanistan. Chaos is very profitable for extracting resources and supplying and controlling the world narcotic business.


Eugene , Jan 21, 2019 3:00:07 PM | link

uncle tungsten , Jan 21, 2019 3:02:50 PM | link
The USA goal is an incompetent state, a permanent war and the destruction of any stable Afghan government that could make relations with neighboring states. Permanent conflict prevents unity and transnational trade through the region. Same goes for the Baluchistan rebels in the south.

Isolate Iran is all and no strategic care or thinking about anything else.

The USA will fight until the last Afghani civilian is killed.

[Jan 11, 2019] The ticking time bomb is because a large part of young people working now are working on non – permanent contracts that don t pay benefits. These people won t have any pension at all and there are a lot of them

Naomi Klein's book "Shock Doctrine", encapsulated by this post as "global elites used periods of crisis around the world to force damaging neoliberal policies derived from the Chicago School and Washington Consensus upon unhappy populations that suffered greatly as a result."
Notable quotes:
"... Eventually, Poland emerged as the major US agent of influence within the EU (along with GB) with the adamant anti-Russian stance. Which taking into account the real state of Polish manufacturing deprived of the major market is very questionable. Later by joining sanctions, they lost Russian agricultural market (including all apple market in which they have a prominent position). ..."
"... Gowan's book, Global Gamble, is also good on the details of shock therapy in the former Warsaw Pact nations. One key problem was that shock therapy partly rested on he assumption that western European buyers would want to invest in modernizing plant and equipment in industries they acquired, but it quickly turned out that the German and other western buyers were really interested only in acquiring new MARKETS for their own products. ..."
"... I remember a couple of paragraphs about Poland in my Economics 101 course, some 20 years ago. Was it in in Mankiw's book? or Lipsey-Chrystal? I do not remember anymore. One of those vicious neoliberal propaganda mouthpieces, anyway. The textbook pitched Poland's success story against Russia's abject failure, claiming that the former had dismantled and shut down all its inefficient state-run companies, while the latter still kept its unprofitable heavy industry on life support. ..."
"... Somehow neoclassical economists always distort history into a cartoonish parody that confirms their models. ..."
"... If you looked carefully, you could still find older books, barely touched, that touted Albania as a neoliberal success story along the same lines as Poland. Albania almost collapsed in civil war in 1998. ..."
"... The author's criticism doesn't really address Klein's central points at all, which would be that the crisis was used as leverage to ram through otherwise politically unpalatable change, and that a great deal of the constraint forcing that was provided by actors both undemocratic and external. He seems to be of the school that regards such niceties as beside the point, as long as various macroaggregates eventually rose. ..."
"... Any discussion of the Polish economy that completely ignores this massive level of economic outmigration, and it's continued rise among the young, misses a great deal. In a vibrant economy, it seems unlikely that so many educated Poles would find, for example, lower tier jobs in Britain to be their best path forward. ..."
"... Out-migration is a huge factor in eastern and central Europe and without it, the picture would look entirely different. The Baltics, Bulgaria and Romania are even more affected. ..."
"... Inter-war Poland is celebrated a lot in Poland these days, conveniently ignoring the facts it was really a totalitarian state – when Czechoslovakia was Muniched in 1938, Poles (and Hugarians) were quick to grab bits of territory right after that. ..."
"... Poland has taken around a million Ukrainians over the past ten years so while many Poles are emigrating to Europe, they are being replaced by Ukrainians, who are ethnically and linguistically fairly similar to Poles. ..."
Jan 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The argument largely seems to hold for the original poster boy example in Chile with the Pinochet coup against the socialist Allende regime. A military coup replaced a democratically government. Whiole Chlle was experiencing a serious inflation, it was not in a full-blown economic collapse. The coup was supported by US leaders Nixon and Kissinger, who saw themselves preventing the emergence of pro-Soviet regime resembling Castro's Cuba. Thousands were killed, and a sweeping set of laisssez faire policies were imposed with the active participation of "Chicago Boys" associated with Milton Friedman. In fact, aside from bringing down inflation these rreforms did not initially improve economic performance, even as foreign capital flowed in, especially into the copper industry, although the core of that industry remained nationalized. After several years the Chicago Boys were sent away and more moderate policies, including a reimposition of controls on foreign capital flows, the economy did grow quite rapidly. But this left a deeply unequal income distribution in place, which would largely remain the case even after Pinochet was removed from power and parliamentary democracy returned.

This scenario was argued to happen in many other narions, especially those in the former Sovit bloc as the soviet Union disintegrated and its successor states and the former members of the Soviet bloc in the CMEA and Warsaw Pact also moved to some sort of market capitalism imposed from outside with policies funded by the IMF and following the Washington Consensus. Although he has since expressed regret for this role in this, a key player linking what was done in several Latin American nations and what went down after 1989 in Eastern and Central Europe was Jeffrey Sachs. Klein's discussion especially of what went down in Russia also looks pretty sound by and large, wtthout dragging through the details, although in these cases the political shift was from dictatorships run by Communist parties dominated out of Moscow to at least somewhat more democratic governments, although not in all of the former Soviet republics such as in Central Asia and with many of these later backsliding towards more authoritarian governments later. In Russia and in many oothers large numbers of people were thrown into poverty from which they have not recovered. Klein has also extended this argument to other nations, including South Africa after the end of apartheid.

likbez

The level of the naivety of Barkley Rosser is astounding.

Poland was a political project, the showcase for the neoliberal project in Eastern Europe and the USSR. EU was pressed to provide large subsidies, and that marionette complied. The commenter ilpalazzo (above) is right that there has been " a tremendous development in real estate and infrastructure mostly funded by the EU that has been a serious engine of growth." Like in Baltics and Ukraine, German, French, Swedish and other Western buyers were most interested in opening market for their products and getting rid of local and xUSSR competitors (and this supported and promoted Russophobia). With very few exceptions. University education system also was partially destroyed, but still fared better than most manufacturing industries.

I remember talking to one of the Polish professors of economics when I was in Poland around 1992. He said that no matter how things will develop, the Polish economy will never be allowed to fail as the USA is interested in propelling it at all costs. That means that there was no CIA activity to undermine the financial system, deindustrialize the country, and possibly to partition the county like it was in Russia with Harvard mafia (Summers, Shleifer, etc.)

Still, they lost quite a bit of manufacturing: for example all shipbuilding, which is ironic as Lech Wałęsa and Solidarity emerged in this industry.

Eventually, Poland emerged as the major US agent of influence within the EU (along with GB) with the adamant anti-Russian stance. Which taking into account the real state of Polish manufacturing deprived of the major market is very questionable. Later by joining sanctions, they lost Russian agricultural market (including all apple market in which they have a prominent position).

But they have a large gas pipeline on their territory, so I suspect that like Ukraine they make a lot of money via transit fees simply due to geographic. So they parochially live off rent -- that why they bark so much at North Stream 2.

Polish elite is a real horror show, almost beyond redemption, and not only in economics. I do not remember, but I think it was Churchill who said " Poland is a greedy hyena of Europe." This is as true now as it was before WWII.

Now they are propelled by cheap labor from Ukraine, which they helped to destroy (along with Sweden and Germany)

ilpalazzo , , January 10, 2019 at 3:04 pm

My post seem to have vanished into oblivion so I'm pasting from the clipboard.

I am a Pole and have been a daily reader here since 2008. I hope a better versed compatriot will come out of the closet and give a better picture (I know there are a few).

Let's just say the shock was pretty bad. In terms of amount of human suffering the worst was dissolving state owned farms. Hundreds of thousands of people were just let go without any help, although many farms were profitable and others could be restructured or converted into collectives etc. I live in a small town where there was a huge state farm and I can see former employees started to recover and get by just recently judging by the looks of their dwellings.

Most of the manufacturing and heavy industry was sold off and extinguished. We used to have pretty decent capital producing capabilities like tooling etc. Not a trace of that now. There is a lot being manufactured now here but mostly simple components for german industry to assemble.

Pension system was thoroughly looted by you know who and is a ticking time bomb. Most of it was quasi privatized – that is managed by western companies but still part of the state system. There were supposed to be individual saving accounts managed by sophisticated investment specialists but the money ended up invested in state bonds, issued to subsidize it. Managing fee 7 – 10 percent charge on every payment into the system, regardless of performance, anyone? It was a heist of the century.

The ticking time bomb is because a large part of young people working now are working on non – permanent contracts that don't pay benefits. These people won't have any pension at all and there are a lot of them.

Healthcare is single payer fund but heavily underfunded. Private practice and hospitals are allowed and skim most profitable procedures leaving the rest to public fund. There are unrealistic limits on number of procedures so if you need to see a specialist in July or later prepare to pay cash or wait till January.

Municipal service companies, at least the most lucrative ones have ben sold off to foreign investment funds. A few of our cities' municipal companies, like central heating or energy have been sold off to german municipal companies (!). State telecom has been sold off to french state telecom (and one of the biggest and most famous fortunes made).

Local printed press is 90% german corps owned.

This is a map of state rail company railways in 1988 and 2009 . It has been a meme here for some time. It is true. Cancelled lines are the subsidized ones workers relied on to get to job. I closely know a thousand years old town that had rail built in 1860 by germans and liquidated right in 1990. The populace is now halved, all young emigrated, businesses dead. There have been a huge investment in freeways and other kind of roads so every one has to own a car to get to her job. Most cars are used 10+ year old german imports. Polish car mechanic and body shops are the best in the world specialists of german automotive produce.

I live in a small contry town that was a home to a wealthy aristocrat. There is a beautiful baroque palace and huge park, the complex is literally a third part of town. After the war it was nationalized, there were sporting facilities built in the park for locals and school pupils to use. The palace was re-purposed as medical facility and office complex for state farm management. In the nineties the whole thing was given back to aristocrat descendants – a shady bunch hiding in Argentina AFAIR. They couldn't afford to keep it so they sold it to a nouveau – riche real estate developer. He fenced the whole thing off and refurbished into a sort of conference complex – it is underway and still not clear what's gonna happen with it. The effect is that a third of my town that used to be public space is fenced off and off limits now.

To conclude, there has been a tremendous development in real estate and infrastructure mostly funded by the EU that has been a serious engine of growth. Lot of people got mortgage and financed homes or flats and there has been a whole industry created around it. A few crown jewel companies (copper mining, petroleum and other chemistry) are state owned. But most of the sophisticated furnishings used in real estate are german made (there is german made nat gas furnace in 95% of newly built homes) etc. Two million young people emigrated to work mostly to UK and Ireland. I'd lived in Dublin for a year in 2003 and there were Chinese people as salespersons in groceries and seven – elevens everywhere, now there are Poles instead.

Recommended reading about the transformation years dealing is this book:

https://monthlyreview.org/product/from_solidarity_to_sellout/

The author is Kalecki's pupil.

Darthbobber , , January 10, 2019 at 5:21 pm

Thanks for this. Gowan's book, Global Gamble, is also good on the details of shock therapy in the former Warsaw Pact nations. One key problem was that shock therapy partly rested on he assumption that western European buyers would want to invest in modernizing plant and equipment in industries they acquired, but it quickly turned out that the German and other western buyers were really interested only in acquiring new MARKETS for their own products.

And in agriculture, they both insisted on the elimination of subsidies within the eastern nations, and proceeded to use the area as a dumping ground for their own (often subsidized) agricultural surpluses.

JTMcPhee , , January 10, 2019 at 6:51 pm

All this gets back, in my minuscule view, to failure to have a decent answer to one little question:

What kind of political economy do "we, the mopes" want to live within?

And related to that, what steps can and must "we, the mopes" take to get to that hopefully wiser, more decent, more homeostatic and sustainable, political economy?

And it likely doesn't matter for us old folks (obligatory blast at Boomers as cause of all problems and distresses, dismissing the roots and branches of "civilization," current patterns of consumption, and millennia of Progress), given what is "baked in" and the current distribution of weatlhandpower. But maybe "we, the mopes" can at least go down fighting. Gilets Jaunes, 150 million Indians, all that

But without an answer to the first question, though, not much chance of "better," is there? Except maybe locally, for the tiny set of us mopes who know how to do community and commensalism and some other "C" words

"We, the mopes" could make some important and effective changes. Enough of us, and soon enough, to avoid or mitigate the Jackpot?

Unna , , January 10, 2019 at 4:09 pm

Thanks very much for this. Very graphic. So, if you would, could you explain who the Law and Justice Party is, and why they won the election, and what exactly are they doing to make themselves popular? Are they in fact enacting certain social programs that we can read about or are they primarily relying on something else, like mainly Catholic traditionalism, for their political power?

disc_writes , , January 10, 2019 at 4:33 pm

I remember a couple of paragraphs about Poland in my Economics 101 course, some 20 years ago. Was it in in Mankiw's book? or Lipsey-Chrystal? I do not remember anymore. One of those vicious neoliberal propaganda mouthpieces, anyway. The textbook pitched Poland's success story against Russia's abject failure, claiming that the former had dismantled and shut down all its inefficient state-run companies, while the latter still kept its unprofitable heavy industry on life support.

It is unsurprising to read that Poland followed a more nuanced approach. Somehow neoclassical economists always distort history into a cartoonish parody that confirms their models.

That was in the early 2000s. The university was then brand new and was still filling the shelves of the library. If you looked carefully, you could still find older books, barely touched, that touted Albania as a neoliberal success story along the same lines as Poland. Albania almost collapsed in civil war in 1998.

todde , , January 10, 2019 at 5:08 pm

Yellow Vests knock out 60% of traffic cameras

smart move. Or at least I would say so.

Darthbobber , , January 10, 2019 at 5:08 pm

Klein at least provided footnotes, and sources for her claims. Which are conspicuously absent from this piece.

The World Bank, (World Development Indicators, 2006), one of Klein's sources, has a nationwide poverty rate only for 1993, and has it at 23% at that point, or between 2.3 times and more than 4 time the most common estimate he cites under the ancient regime.

The same source has unemployment averaging 19.9% in 1990-92, and 19% in 2000-2004.

As to the later poverty rate, Klein's source is Przemyslaw Wielgosz, then editor of the Polish edition of le Monde Diplomatique, who gives this: " Poles living below the 'social minimum' (defined as a living standard of £130 (192,4 EUR) per person and £297 (440,4 EUR) for a three person family per month) affecting 15% of the population in 1989 to 47% in 1996, and 59% in 2003." but whence he obtains these figures he does not say. Given that it falls in a period when unemployment was pushing 20% for a prolonged period, and that both the EU's subsidies and outmigration to the EU as an escape valve only start to kick in in 2003, the figure seems not wildly implausible.

The author's criticism doesn't really address Klein's central points at all, which would be that the crisis was used as leverage to ram through otherwise politically unpalatable change, and that a great deal of the constraint forcing that was provided by actors both undemocratic and external. He seems to be of the school that regards such niceties as beside the point, as long as various macroaggregates eventually rose.

The contrast between what was done, and what Solidarnosc had claimed to be all about when in opposition is incredibly striking, basically the difference between libertarian Communism and uber Dirigisme style capitalism.

Darthbobber , January 10, 2019 at 10:27 am

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migrations_from_Poland_since_EU_accession

Any discussion of the Polish economy that completely ignores this massive level of economic outmigration, and it's continued rise among the young, misses a great deal. In a vibrant economy, it seems unlikely that so many educated Poles would find, for example, lower tier jobs in Britain to be their best path forward.

Yes, your unemployment and poverty rates are lower if a significant fraction of the population works elsewhere in the EU, and reatriates the money. Though the pattern may cause a few other problems. (while many nations like to export their unemployment, not everybody wants to import it.)

upstater , January 10, 2019 at 11:28 am

You beat me to the punch

Out-migration is a huge factor in eastern and central Europe and without it, the picture would look entirely different. The Baltics, Bulgaria and Romania are even more affected.

vlade , January 10, 2019 at 2:01 pm

The migration from Poland does not have only economic reasons. A lot of Poles migrate because they find the polish society (especially small towns and rural) very stiffling.

A friend of mine left Poland the moment she got her MSc – literally, the same day she was on a bus to Germany. She's now a sucessfull woman, director level at a large consultancy. Yet her father calls her "old spinster" (this is the polite version), as she wasn't maried by 30, and she basically avoids going to Poland.

She says she could never be as sucessfull in Poland, being a woman, and not being keen on marrying. I've heard similar stories from young Poles, not just women.

Inter-war Poland is celebrated a lot in Poland these days, conveniently ignoring the facts it was really a totalitarian state – when Czechoslovakia was Muniched in 1938, Poles (and Hugarians) were quick to grab bits of territory right after that.

Kasia, January 10, 2019 at 5:17 pm

Poland has taken around a million Ukrainians over the past ten years so while many Poles are emigrating to Europe, they are being replaced by Ukrainians, who are ethnically and linguistically fairly similar to Poles.

So Poland is proof that nationalist, populist policies can indeed work. Poland has had to taken rough measures with our judicial system and media to ensure globalist forces do not undermine our successes. No one, I mean no one, in Poland mouths the words, "diversity is our strength". Internationalist, liberal minded people who are so susceptible to globalist propaganda, are generally the ones leaving the nation. Indigenous Western Europeans who are suffering the joys of cultural enrichment and vibrant diversity are starting to buy property in Eastern Europe - more Hungary than Poland - but as the globalists push even more multiculturalism and continue to impoverish indigenous Europeans, Eastern Europe will become a shining beacon on the hill free of many of the evils of globalisation.

[Jan 04, 2019] There's only one thing necessary to maintain the respect and affection of DC's ruling political and media class: affirm standard precepts of US imperialism militarism

Jan 04, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , January 02, 2019 at 07:05 AM

https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1080434469167906816

Glenn Greenwald‏ @ggreenwald

There's only one thing necessary to maintain the respect and affection of DC's ruling political and media class: affirm standard precepts of US imperialism & militarism. You can work for Trump, or cheer menacing authoritarians, and you'll still be revered as long as you do that:

Nikki Haley @NikkiHaley

Congratulations to Brazil's new President Bolsonaro. It's great to have another U.S.-friendly leader in South America, who will join the fight against dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba, and who clearly understands the danger of China's expanding influence in the region.

4:03 AM - 2 Jan 2019

[Dec 16, 2018] Trump Models His War on Bank Regulators on Bill Clinton and W's Disastrous Wars by Bill Black

Notable quotes:
"... By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The idea that examiners should not criticize any bank misconduct, predation, or 'unsafe and unsound practice' that does not constitute a felony is obviously insane. ..."
"... The trade association complaint that examiners dare to criticize non-felonious bank conduct – and the WSJ ..."
"... I have more than a passing acquaintance with banking, banking regulation, and banking's rectitude (such an old fashioned word) in the importance for Main Street's survival, and for the country's as a whole survival as a trusted pivot point in world finance , or for the survival of the whole American project. I know this sounds like an over-the-top assertion on my part, however I believe it true. ..."
"... Obama et al confusing "banking" with sound banking is too ironic, imo. ..."
"... It was actually worse than this. The very deliberate strategy was to indoctrinate employees of federal regulatory agencies to see the companies they regulated not as "partners" but as "customers" to be served. This theme is repeated again and again in Bush era agency reports. Elizabeth Warren was viciously attacked early in the Obama Administration for calling for a new "watchdog" agency to protect consumers. The idea that a federal agency would dedicate itself to protecting citizens first was portrayed as dangerously radical by industry. ..."
"... Models on Clinton and Bush. What's not to like? Why isn't msm and dem elites showing him the love when he's following their long term policies? And we might assume these would be hills policies if she had been pushed over the line. A little thought realizes that in spite of the pearl clutching they far prefer him to Bernie. ..."
Dec 14, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives

The Wall Street Journal published an article on December 12, 2018 that should warn us of coming disaster: "Banks Get Kinder, Gentler Treatment Under Trump." The last time a regulatory head lamented that regulators were not "kinder and gentler" promptly ushered in the Enron-era fraud epidemic. President Bush made Harvey Pitt his Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair in August 2001 and, in one of his early major addresses, he spoke on October 22, 2001 to a group of accounting leaders.

Pitt, as a private counsel, represented all the top tier audit firms, and they had successfully pushed Bush to appoint him to run the SEC. The second sentence of Pitt's speech bemoaned the fact that the SEC had not been "a kinder and gentler place for accountants." He concluded his first paragraph with the statement that the SEC and the auditors needed to work "in partnership." He soon reiterated that point: "We view the accounting profession as our partner" and amped it up by calling accountants the SEC's "critical partner."

Pitt expanded on that point: "I am committed to the principle that government is and must be a service industry." That, of course, would not be controversial if he meant a service agency (not "industry") for the public. Pitt, however, meant that the SEC should be a "service industry" for the auditors and corporations.

Pitt then turned to pronouncing the SEC to be the guilty party in the "partnership." He claimed that the SEC had terrorized accountants. He then stated that he had ordered the SEC to end this fictional terror campaign.

[A]ccountants became afraid to talk to the SEC, and the SEC appeared to be unwilling to listen to the profession. Those days are ended.

This prompted Pitt to ratchet even higher his "partnership" language.

I speak for the entire Commission when I say that we want to have a continuing dialogue, and partnership, with the accounting profession,

Recall that Pitt spoke on October 22, 2001. Here are the relevant excerpts from the NY Times' Enron timeline :

Oct. 16 – Enron announces $638 million in third-quarter losses and a $1.2 billion reduction in shareholder equity stemming from writeoffs related to failed broadband and water trading ventures as well as unwinding of so-called Raptors, or fragile entities backed by falling Enron stock created to hedge inflated asset values and keep hundreds of millions of dollars in debt off the energy company's books.

Oct. 19 – Securities and Exchange Commission launches inquiry into Enron finances.

Oct. 22 – Enron acknowledges SEC inquiry into a possible conflict of interest related to the company's dealings with Fastow's partnerships.

Oct. 23 – Lay professes confidence in Fastow to analysts.

Oct. 24 – Fastow ousted.

The key fact is that even as Enron was obviously spiraling toward imminent collapse (it filed for bankruptcy on December 2) – and the SEC knew it – Pitt offered no warning in his speech. The auditors and the corporate CEOs and CFOs were not the SEC's 'partners.' Thousands of CEOs and CFOs were filing false financial statements – with 'clean' opinions from the then 'Big 5' auditors. Pitt was blind to the 'accounting control fraud' epidemic that was raging at the time he spoke to the accountants. Thousands of his putative auditor 'partners' were getting rich by blessing fraudulent financial statements and harming the investors that the SEC is actually supposed to serve.

Tom Frank aptly characterized the Bush appointees that completed the destruction of effective financial regulation as "The Wrecking Crew." It is important, however, to understand that Bush largely adopted and intensified Clinton's war against effective regulation. Clinton and Bush led the unremitting bipartisan assault on regulation for 16 years. That produced the criminogenic environment that produced the three largest financial fraud epidemics in history that hyper-inflated the real estate bubble and drove the Great Financial Crisis (GFC). President Trump has renewed the Clinton/Bush war on regulation and he has appointed banking regulatory leaders that have consciously modeled their assault on regulation on Bush and Clinton's 'Wrecking Crews.'

Bill Clinton's euphemism for his war on effective regulation was "Reinventing Government." Clinton appointed VP Al Gore to lead the assault. (Clinton and Gore are "New Democrat" leaders – the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party.) Gore decided he needed to choose an anti-regulator to conduct the day-to-day leadership. We know from Bob Stone's memoir the sole substantive advice he gave Gore in their first meeting that caused Gore to appoint him as that leader. "Do not 'waste one second going after waste, fraud, and abuse.'" Elite insider fraud is, historically, the leading cause of bank losses and failures, so Stone's advice was sure to lead to devastating financial crises. It is telling that it was the fact that Stone gave obviously idiotic advice to Gore that led him to select Stone as the field commander of Clinton and Gore's war on effective regulation.

Stone convinced the Clinton-Gore administration to embrace the defining element of crony capitalism as its signature mantra for its war on effective regulation. Stone and his troops ordered us to refer to the banks, not the American people, as our "customers." Peters' foreword to Stone's book admits the action, but is clueless about the impact.

Bob Stone's insistence on using the word "customer" was mocked by some -- but made an enormous difference over the course of time. In general, he changed the vocabulary of public service from 'procedure first' to 'service first.'"

That is a lie. We did not 'mock' the demand that we treat the banks rather than the American people as our "customer" – we openly protested the outrageous order that we embrace and encourage crony capitalism. Crony capitalism's core principle – which is unprincipled – is that the government should treat elite CEOs as their 'customers' or 'partners.' A number of us publicly expressed our rage at the corrupt order to treat CEOs as our customers. The corrupt order caused me to leave the government.

Our purpose as regulators is to serve the people of the United States – not bank CEOs. It was disgusting and dishonest for Peters to claim that our objection to crony capitalism represented our (fictional) disdain for serving the public. Many S&L regulators risked their careers by taking on elite S&L frauds and their powerful political fixers. Many of us paid a heavy personal price because we acted to protect the public from these elite frauds. Our efforts prevented the S&L debacle from causing a GFC – precisely because we recognized the critical need to spend most of our time preventing and prosecuting the elite frauds that Stone wanted us to ignore..

Trump's wrecking crew is devoted to recreating Clinton and Bush's disastrous crony capitalism war on regulation that produced the GFC. In a June 8, 2018 article , the Wall Street Journal mocked Trump's appointment of Joseph Otting as Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The illustration that introduces the article bears the motto: "IN BANKS WE TRUST."

Otting, channeling his inner Pitt, declared his employees guilty of systematic misconduct and embraced crony capitalism through Pitt's favorite phrase – "partnership."

I think it is more of a partnership with the banks as opposed to a dictatorial perspective under the prior administration.

Otting, while he was in the industry, compared the OCC under President Obama to a fictional interstellar terrorist. Obama appointed federal banking regulators that were pale imitation of Ed Gray, Joe Selby, and Mike Patriarca – the leaders of the S&L reregulation. The idea that Obama's banking regulators were akin to 'terrorists' is farcical.

The WSJ's December 12, 2018 article reported that Otting had also used Bob Stone's favorite term to embrace crony capitalism.

Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting has also changed the tone from the top at his agency, calling banks his "customers."

There are many terrible role models Trump could copy as his model of how to destroy banking regulation and produce the next GFC, but Otting descended into unintentional self-parody when he channeled word-for-word the most incompetent and dishonest members of Clinton and Bush's wrecking crews.

The same article reported a trade association's statement that demonstrates the type of outrageous reaction that crony capitalism inevitably breeds within industry.

Banks are suffering from "examiner criticisms that do not deal with any violation of law," said Greg Baer, CEO of the Bank Policy Institute ."

The article presented no response to this statement so I will explain why it is absurd. First, "banks" do not "suffer" from "examiner criticism." Banks gain from examiner criticism. Effective regulators (and whistleblowers) are the only people who routinely 'speak truth to power.' Auditors, credit rating agencies, and attorneys routinely 'bless' the worst CEO abuses that harm banks while enriching the CEO. The bank CEO cannot fire the examiner, so the examiners' expert advice is the only truly "independent" advice the bank's board of directors receives. That makes the examiners' criticisms invaluable to the bank. CEOs hate our advice because we are the only 'control' (other than the episodic whistleblower) that is willing and competent to criticize the CEO.

The idea that examiners should not criticize any bank misconduct, predation, or 'unsafe and unsound practice' that does not constitute a felony is obviously insane. While "violations of law" (felonies) are obviously of importance to us in almost all cases, our greatest expertise is in identifying – and stopping – "unsafe and unsound practices" because such practices, like fraud, are leading causes of bank losses and failures.

Third, repeated "unsafe and unsound practices" are a leading indicator of likely elite insider bank fraud and other "violations of law."

The trade association complaint that examiners dare to criticize non-felonious bank conduct – and the WSJ reporters' failure to point out the absurdity of that complaint – demonstrate that the banking industry's goal remains the destruction of effective banking regulation. Trump's wrecking crew is using the Clinton and Bush playbook to restore fully crony capitalism. He has greatly accelerated the onset of the next GFC.


Chauncey Gardiner , December 14, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Thank you for this, Bill Black. IMO the long-term de-regulatory policies under successive administrations cited here, together with their neutering the rule of law by overturning the Glass-Steagall Act; de-funding and failing to enforce antitrust, fraud and securities laws; financial repression of the majority; hidden financial markets subsidies; and other policies are just part of an organized, long-term systemic effort to enable, organize and subsidize massive control and securities fraud; theft of and disinvestment in publicly owned resources and services; environmental damage; and transfers of social costs that enable the organizers to in turn gain a hugely disproportionate share of the nation's wealth and nearly absolute political control under their "Citizens United" political framework.

Not to diminish, but among other things the current president provides nearly daily entertainment, diversion and spectacle in our Brave New World that serves to obfuscate what has occurred and is happening.

RBHoughton , December 14, 2018 at 9:41 pm

I'm with you Chauncey. I believe the rot really got started with creative accounting in early 1970s. That's when accountants of every flavor lost themselves and were soon followed by the lawyers. Sauce for the goose.

Banks and Insurers and many industrial concerns have become too big. We could avoid all the regulatory problems by placing a maximum size on commercial endeavour.

chuck roast , December 14, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Sameo-sameo

A number of years ago I did both the primary capital program and environmental (NEPA) review for major capital projects in a Federal Region. Hundreds of millions of dollars were at stake. A local agency wanted us (the Feds) to approve pushing up many of their projects using a so-called Public Private Partnership (PPP). This required the local agency to borrow many millions from Wall Street while at the same time privatizing many of their here-to-fore public operations. And of course there was an added benefit of instituting a non-union shop.

To this end I was required to sit down with the local agency head (he actually wore white shoes), his staff and several representatives of Goldman-Sachs. After the meeting ended, I opined to the agency staff that Goldman-Sachs was "bullshit" and so were their projects.

Shortly thereafter I was removed to a less high-profile Region with projects that were not all that griftable, and there was no danger of me having to review a PPP.

Oh, and I denied, denied, denied saying "bullshit."

flora , December 14, 2018 at 10:08 pm

Thank you, NC, for featuring these posts by Bill Black.

I have more than a passing acquaintance with banking, banking regulation, and banking's rectitude (such an old fashioned word) in the importance for Main Street's survival, and for the country's as a whole survival as a trusted pivot point in world finance , or for the survival of the whole American project. I know this sounds like an over-the-top assertion on my part, however I believe it true.

Main Street also knows the importance of sound banking. Sound banking is not a 'poker chip' to be used for games. Sound banking is key to the American experiment in self-determination, as it has been called.

Politicians who 'don't get this" have lost touch with the entire American enterprise, imo. And, no, the neoliberal promise that nation-states no longer matter doesn't make this point moot.

flora , December 14, 2018 at 10:47 pm

adding: US founding father Alexander Hambleton did understand the importance of sound banking, and so Obama et al confusing "banking" with sound banking is too ironic, imo.

Tim , December 15, 2018 at 8:29 am

It was actually worse than this. The very deliberate strategy was to indoctrinate employees of federal regulatory agencies to see the companies they regulated not as "partners" but as "customers" to be served. This theme is repeated again and again in Bush era agency reports. Elizabeth Warren was viciously attacked early in the Obama Administration for calling for a new "watchdog" agency to protect consumers. The idea that a federal agency would dedicate itself to protecting citizens first was portrayed as dangerously radical by industry.

John k , December 15, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Models on Clinton and Bush. What's not to like? Why isn't msm and dem elites showing him the love when he's following their long term policies?
And we might assume these would be hills policies if she had been pushed over the line. A little thought realizes that in spite of the pearl clutching they far prefer him to Bernie.

[Dec 16, 2018] One of the CIA's main allies in carrying out this policy, recruiting tens of thousands of Islamist fighters worldwide to go and fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, was a young Saudi billionaire, Osama bin Laden, the future leader of Al Qaeda. Hensman endorses the US policy in Afghanistan, while remaining silent on the CIA-Al Qaeda alliance, and presents it as part of a liberation struggle against Soviet imperialism.

Notable quotes:
"... From the Shadows ..."
Dec 16, 2018 | www.wsws.org

After the Soviet-backed People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) took power in 1978, the Pentagon began arming the Islamist opposition to the PDPA. US officials, reeling from their defeat in Vietnam, devised a policy of "sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire" in Afghanistan, as CIA official Robert Gates wrote in his 1996 memoir From the Shadows . When the Kremlin invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, in a reactionary attempt to strengthen the PDPA regime in Kabul and stabilize the PDPA's relations with the Afghan rural elites, Washington used Afghanistan as a battleground to bleed the Soviet army.

One of the CIA's main allies in carrying out this policy, recruiting tens of thousands of Islamist fighters worldwide to go and fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, was a young Saudi billionaire, Osama bin Laden, the future leader of Al Qaeda. Hensman endorses the US policy in Afghanistan, while remaining silent on the CIA-Al Qaeda alliance, and presents it as part of a liberation struggle against Soviet imperialism.

She writes, "A PDPA coup in 1978 faced tribal revolts that developed into a full-scale uprising by December 1979, when the Russians invaded and occupied Afghanistan. The military campaign that followed resembled the US campaign in Vietnam in its brutality to civilians The war had reached a stalemate in the mid-1980s when Reagan, who was already supporting the mujahideen, agreed to supply them with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. These weapons turned the tide against the Russians..."

Hensman's defense of the US role in the Soviet-Afghan war, and her silence on CIA-backed Islamist terror networks, are reactionary. She hides the bloody character of the CIA-backed Islamist proxy wars, both in 1979–1992 in Afghanistan and in 1979–1982 in Syria. It is the descendants of these same forces, who are fighting today's Syrian war, that Hensman hails as a "democratic revolution."

nurmina day ago

And then there's Brzezinski, with his murderous legacy that contains a curious thread linking the Mujahideen "freedom fighters" to 9/11. As was written in the recently republished article on the Bush family fortune and the Holocaust, "the only constant is the defense of the power and privilege of the ruling oligarchy by whatever means are required."
---
Brzezinski acknowledged in an interview with the French news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur in January 1998 that he initiated a policy in which the CIA covertly began arming the mujahedeen in July 1978 -- six months before Soviet troops intervened in Afghanistan -- with the explicit aim of dragging the Soviet Union into a debilitating war.

Asked, given the catastrophe unleashed upon Afghanistan and the subsequent growth of Islamist terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, whether he regretted the policy he championed in Afghanistan, Brzezinski replied:

"Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire."

Asked specifically whether he regretted the CIA's collaboration with and arming of Islamist extremists, including Al Qaeda, in fomenting the war in Afghanistan, Brzezinski responded contemptuously: "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"

Kind of a funny aside: to find the Z-bigz quote I wanted, I put "Brzezinski on Afghanistan" into duckduckgo, and the wsws obituary was third from the top.

[Dec 08, 2018] Anyone who knows anything about history is that the rich were always better off than the poor, in fact the very definition of rich and poor. In this respect it never mattered if a society was capitalistic, communistic, or a theocracy,

Notable quotes:
"... Capitalism never was benign, Chrustjow worked as a miner in a commercially exploited mine, where there was little regard for safety, he abhorred capitalism. ..."
Dec 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

jilles dykstra , says: December 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm GMT

@Bill Jones Interesting to read how these idealists agree with Christian Gerondeau, 'Le CO2 est bon pour la planete, Climat, la grande manipulation', Paris 2017

Gerondeau explains how many deaths reducing CO2 emissions will cause in poor countries, simply as an example how electricity for cooking will remain too expensive for them, so cooking is done on smoky fires in confined spaces.

" to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history." " To intentionally impoverish the world. To what end, I wonder ?

Anyone who knows anything about history is that the rich were always better off than the poor, in fact the very definition of rich and poor.
In this respect it never mattered if a society was capitalistic, communistic, or a theocracy, as Tibet was.

These idealistic idiots do not understand how they created the problem they now intend to solve with creating an even bigger problem, their example is the EU, the EU is following this policy for more than twelve years now, since 2005, when the EU grabbed power through the rejected EU 'consitution'.

Capitalism is no more than deciding between consumption and investment, Robinson Crusoë invested in a fishing net by temporarily reducing consumption, he did not go fishing, but made a fishing net, expecting that his investment would make it possible to eat more fish.

Capitalism never was benign, Chrustjow worked as a miner in a commercially exploited mine, where there was little regard for safety, he abhorred capitalism.

Dutch 17th century capitalistic commerce to the far Indies, east and west, was not benign. Typically a ship left Amsterdam, near the Schreierstoren, trans 'the tower for the crying', wives, mothers and girl friends, with 300 men aboard, and returned with 100. Most of those who died were common sailors, captain and officers had a far lower mortality, mainly better food.

Our East Indies commerce also was not much fun for the people in the East, in the Banda Sea Islands massacre some 30.000 people were killed, for a monopoly on pepper, if I remember correctly.

But, as the earth developed economically, there came room for also poor people getting lives beginning to look as worth living. Engels in 1844, hope the year is right, described the conditions of working people in GB, this resulted in Das Kapital.

This room for a better life for also the poor was not given by the capitalistic system

In their struggle for a better world for anyone the idealists wanted globalisation, level playing field, anyone should be welcome anywhere, slogans like this.
Globaliation, however, is the end of the nation state, the very institution in which it was possible to provide a better life. Anyone following me until here now can see the dilemma, the end of the nation state was also the end of protection by that state against unbridled capitalism.

As the idealists cannot give up their globalisation religion they must, as those who cannot give up the biblical creation story, find an ideological way out of their dilemma. My conclusion now is 'in order to save our globalisation religion we try to destroy economic growth, by making energy very expensive, in the hope of destroying capitalism'.

Alas, better, luckily, capitalism cannot be destroyed, those who invented the first furnaces for more or less mass producing iron, they were capitalists. They saw clearly how cheap iron would bring economic growth, the plow.

In the country where the CO2 madness has struck most, my country, the Netherlands, the realisation of the poverty that drastically reducing CO2 emissions will cause, has begun. If there really is madness, I wonder.

I indeed see madness, green leftists unable to make a simple multipiclation calculations about costs, but maybe mainly political opportunism. Our dictator, Rutte, is now so hated that he needs a job outside the Netherlands, in order to qualify, either at Brussels or in New York, with the UN, has to howl with the wolves.

At the same time, we have a gas production problem,, earthquakes in the NE, houses damaged, never any decision made to solve the problem, either stop gas production, or strenghten the houses, both expensive solutions.

So, in my suspicious ideas, Rutte now tries to improve himself, at the same time solving a problem: within, say ten years, the Netherlands functions without gas, and remains prosperous; the idea he tries to sell to us. In a few years time it will emerge that we cannot have both, prosperous, and zero emission, but the time horizon for a politician is said to be five years.

[Dec 08, 2018] Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games

Highly recommended!
You can read online at epdf.tips
Dec 08, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Richard , Dec 7, 2018 2:50:07 PM | link

Came across this book which gives some excellent background to where we're at today:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Postmodern-Imperialism-Geopolitics-Great-Games/dp/098335393X

There may be a pdf available if you search.

"The game motif is useful as a metaphor for the broader rivalry between nations and economic systems with the rise of imperialism and the pursuit of world power. This game has gone through two major transformations since the days of Russian-British rivalry, with the rise first of Communism and then of Islam as world forces opposing imperialism. The main themes of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games include:

This work brings these elements together in historical perspective with an understanding from the Arab/ Muslim world's point of view, as it is the main focus of all the "Great Games"."

Jay Dyer discusses the book here, its strengths and weaknesses:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcmrBD4Ez2c

[Dec 03, 2018] Neoliberal myth: Austerity is caused by incompetent governments unable to balance their budgets

In reality this is mostly neocolonial way of dealing with countries. Allowing local oligarchy to steal as much loaned by foreign states money as they can and converting the country into the debt slave. Look at Greece and Ukraine for two prominent examples.
The position of OneCommentator is a typical position of defenders and propagandists of neoliberalism
IMF is part of "Washington Consensus" with the direct goal of converting countries into debt slaves of industrialized West. It did not work well with Acia counties, but it is great success in some countries in Europe and most of Africa and Latin America (with Argentina as the most recent example)
Notable quotes:
"... As central banks such as the FED and the ECB operate with insatiable greed and cannot be audited or regulated by any government body anywhere in the world, due to their charters having been set up that way, then bankers are free to meet secretly and plot depressions so as to gain full control over sovereign nations and manipulate markets so that their "chums and agents" in business can buy up assets and land in depressed economies – while possible wars could also make corporations and banks more money as well! ..."
Dec 03, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
OneCommentator -> petercs , 8 Jun 2013 11:46
@petercs -

..."neoliberal", concept behind the word, has nothing to do with liberal or liberty or freedom..

Wrong. Traditional liberalism supported both social and economic freedoms. That included support for most of the civil rights and freedoms we enjoy today AND free trade and free investments. It used to be that liberals were practically unpopular with right wing (traditional conservative for example) parties but more or less on the same side as left wing parties, mainly because of their social positions. More recently the left wing parties became more and more unhappy with the economic freedoms promoted by liberals while the right wing parties embraced both the economic and social freedoms to a certain degree.

So, the leftists found themselves in a bind practically having reversed roles which the the conservatives as far as support for liberalism goes. So, typically, they're using propaganda to cover their current reactionary tendencies and coins a new name for liberals: neoliberals which, they say, are not the same as liberals (who are their friends since liberal means freedom lover and they like to use that word a lot).

"austerity" is the financial sectors' solution to its survival after it sucked most the value out of the economy and broke it.

Austerity is caused by incompetent governments unable to balance their budgets. They had 60 years to do it properly after ww2 and the reconstruction that followed but many of them never did it. So now it is very simple: governments ran out of money and nobody wants to lend them more. That's it, they hit the wall and there is nothing left on the bottom if the purse.
OneCommentator , 8 Jun 2013 10:49

The IMF exists to lend money to governments, so it's comic that it wags its finger at governments that run up debt.

It is a bit more complicated than that. Developed countries like Greece are supposed to run more or less balanced budgets over longer periods. Sure, they need to borrow money on a regular basis and may that is supposed to be done by issuing bonds or other forms of government debt that investors buy on the open market. For such governments the IMF is supposed to just fill in in a minor way not to provide the bulk of all the loans needed on a temporary basis. Because of incompetent governments Greece is practically bankrupt hence it is not going to be able to pay back most of the existing debts and definitely not newer debts. So practically the IMF is not, ending money to them, it is giving them the money. So, I would say that they have a good reason to wag its finger.

Malakia123 , 8 Jun 2013 11:15

LOGIC 101: Introductory Course of Study

If private, stockholder-held central banks such as the FED and the FED-backed ECB were not orchestrating this depression, and anybody who believed they were was a "wacko-nutcase conspiracy theorist", then why do they keep repeating the same mistakes of forcing un-payable bailout loans, collapsing banks, wiping out people's savings and then imposing austerity on those nations year after year – when it is clearly a failed policy?

Possible Answers :

1. Bank presidents are all ex-hippies who got hooked on LSD in the 70's and have not yet recovered fully as their brains are still fried!

2. Central bankers have been recruited from insane asylums in both Europe and America in government-sponsored programs to see whether blithering idiots are capable of running large, international financial institutions.

3. All catastrophic events in the banking/business world, such as the derivative and housing crash of 2008, the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and The Great Depression of 1929-40 were totally random events that just occurred out of nowhere and central banks were caught off guard – leaving them no option but to play with their willies for years on end until a major war suddenly happened to pull the whole world out of "bad times"!

4. As central banks such as the FED and the ECB operate with insatiable greed and cannot be audited or regulated by any government body anywhere in the world, due to their charters having been set up that way, then bankers are free to meet secretly and plot depressions so as to gain full control over sovereign nations and manipulate markets so that their "chums and agents" in business can buy up assets and land in depressed economies – while possible wars could also make corporations and banks more money as well!


Please choose one of the possible answers from above and write a short 500 word essay on whether it may or may not true – using well-defined logical arguments. I expect your answers in by Friday of this week as I would like to get pissed out of my mind at the pub on Saturday night!

petercs , 8 Jun 2013 10:44

The neoliberal idea is that the cultivation itself should be conducted privately as well. They see "austerity" as a way of forcing that agenda.

..."neoliberal", concept behind the word, has nothing to do with liberal or liberty or freedom...it is a PR spin concept that names slavery with a a word that sounds like the opposite...if "they" called it neoslavery it just wouldn't sell in the market for political concepts.

..."austerity" is the financial sectors' solution to its survival after it sucked most the value out of the economy and broke it. To mend it was a case of preservation of the elite and the devil take the hindmost, that's most of us.

...and even Labour, the party of trade unionism, has adopted austerity to drive its policy.

...we need a Peoples' Party to stand for the revaluation of labour so we get paid for our effort rather than the distortion, the rich xxx poor divide, of neoslavery austerity.

[Nov 30, 2018] America Is Headed For Military Defeat in Afghanistan

Notable quotes:
"... other year of the war ..."
"... Enough Afghans either support the Taliban or hate the occupation, and managed, through assorted conventional and unconventional operations, to fight on the ground. And "on the ground" is all that really matters. This war may well have been ill-advised and unwinnable from the start. ..."
"... There's no shame in defeat. But there is shame, and perfidy, in avoiding or covering up the truth. It's what the whole military-political establishment did after Vietnam, and, I fear, it's what they're doing again. ..."
Nov 30, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

about:blank

America Is Headed For Military Defeat in Afghanistan It is time to acknowledge this is more than political. We can lose on the battlefield, and it's happening right now. By Danny Sjursen November 30, 2018

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Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, sprint across a field to load onto a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter during a mission in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 4, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan / released) There's a prevailing maxim, both inside the armed forces and around the Beltway, that goes something like this: "The U.S. can never be militarily defeated in any war," certainly not by some third world country. Heck, I used to believe that myself. That's why, in regard to Afghanistan, we've been told that while America could lose the war due to political factors (such as the lack of grit among "soft" liberals or defeatists), the military could never and will never lose on the battlefield.

That entire maxim is about to be turned on its head. Get ready, because we're about to lose this war militarily.

Consider this: the U.S. military has advised, assisted, battled, and bombed in Afghanistan for 17-plus years. Ground troop levels have fluctuated from lows of some 10,000 to upwards of 100,000 servicemen and women. None of that has achieved more than a tie, a bloody stalemate. Now, in the 18th year of this conflict, the Kabul-Washington coalition's military is outright losing.

Let's begin with the broader measures. The Taliban controls or contests more districts -- some 44 percent -- than at any time since the 2001 invasion. Total combatant and civilian casualties are forecasted to top 20,000 this year -- another dreadful broken record. What's more, Afghan military casualties are frankly unsustainable: the Taliban are killing more than the government can recruit. The death rates are staggering, numbering 5,500 fatalities in 2015, 6,700 in 2016, and an estimate (the number is newly classified) of "about 10,000" in 2017. Well, some might ask, what about American airpower -- can't that help stem the Taliban tide? Hardly. In 2018, as security deteriorated and the Taliban made substantial gains, the U.S. actually dropped more bombs than in any other year of the war . It appears that nothing stands in the way of impending military defeat.

Then there are the very recent events on the ground -- and these are telling. Insider attacks in which Afghan "allies" turn their guns on American advisors are back on the rise, most recently in an attack that wounded a U.S. Army general and threatened the top U.S. commander in the country. And while troop numbers are way down from the high in 2011, American troops deaths are rising. Over the Thanksgiving season alone, a U.S. Army Ranger was killed in a friendly fire incident and three other troopers died in a roadside bomb attack. And in what was perhaps only a (still disturbing) case of misunderstood optics, the top U.S. commander, General Miller, was filmed carrying his own M4 rifle around Afghanistan. That's a long way from the days when then-General Petraeus (well protected by soldiers, of course) walked around the markets of Baghdad in a soft cap and without body armor.

More importantly, the Afghan army and police are getting hammered in larger and larger attacks and taking unsustainable casualties. Some 26 Afghan security forces were killed on Thanksgiving, 22 policemen died in an attack on Sunday, and on Tuesday 30 civilians were killed in Helmand province. And these were only the high-profile attacks, dwarfed by the countless other countrywide incidents. All this proves that no matter how hard the U.S. military worked, or how many years it committed to building an Afghan army in its own image, and no matter how much air and logistical support that army received, the Afghan Security Forces cannot win. The sooner Washington accepts this truth over the more comforting lie, the fewer of our adulated American soldiers will have to die. Who is honestly ready to be the last to die for a mistake, or at least a hopeless cause?

Now, admittedly, this author is asking for trouble -- and fierce rebuttals -- from both peers and superiors still serving on active duty. And that's understandable. The old maxim of military invincibility soothes these men, mollifies their sense of personal loss, whether of personal friends or years away from home, in wars to which they've now dedicated their entire adult lives. Questioning whether there even is a military solution in Afghanistan, or, more specifically, predicting a military defeat, serves only to upend their mental framework surrounding the war.

Still, sober strategy and basic honesty demands a true assessment of the military situation in America's longest war. The Pentagon loves metrics, data, and stats. Well, as demonstrated daily on the ground in Afghanistan, all the security (read: military) metrics point towards impending defeat. At best, the Afghan army, with ample U.S. advisory detachments and air support, can hold on to the northernmost and westernmost provinces of the country, while a Taliban coalition overruns the south and east. This will be messy, ugly, and discomfiting for military and civilian leaders alike. But unless Washington is prepared to redeploy 100,000 soldiers to Afghanistan (again) -- and still only manage a tie, by the way -- it is also all but inevitable.

America's Disastrous Occupation of Afghanistan Turns 17 The War in Afghanistan is Enabling Pedophilia

The United States military did all it was asked during more than 17 years of warfare in Afghanistan. It raided, it bombed, it built, it surged, it advised, it everything. Still, none of that was sufficient. Enough Afghans either support the Taliban or hate the occupation, and managed, through assorted conventional and unconventional operations, to fight on the ground. And "on the ground" is all that really matters. This war may well have been ill-advised and unwinnable from the start.

There's no shame in defeat. But there is shame, and perfidy, in avoiding or covering up the truth. It's what the whole military-political establishment did after Vietnam, and, I fear, it's what they're doing again.

Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army officer and a regular contributor to Unz. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet .

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

[Nov 25, 2018] Let s recap what Obama s coup in Ukraine has led to shall we?

Highly recommended!
CIA democrats of which Obama is a prominent example (and Hillary is another one) are are Werewolfs, very dangerous political beasts, probably more dangerous to the world then Republicans like George W Bush. But in case of Ukraine, it was easily pushed into Baltic orbit, because it has all the preconditions for that. So Nuland has an relatively easy, albeit dirty task. Also all this probably that "in five years we will be living like French" was pretty effective. Now the population faces consequences of its own stupidity. This is just neoliberal business as usual or neocolonialism.
Notable quotes:
"... populists on the right ..."
"... hired members of Ukraine's two racist-fascist, or nazi, political parties ..."
"... Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment ..."
"... @snoopydawg ..."
"... @snoopydawg ..."
"... @gulfgal98 ..."
"... @gulfgal98 ..."
Nov 25, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

Let's recap what Obama's coup in Ukraine has led to shall we? Maybe installing and blatantly backing Neo Nazis in Ukraine might have something to do with the rise of " populists on the right " that is spreading through Europe and this country, Hillary.

America's criminal 'news' media never even reported the coup, nor that in 2011 the Obama regime began planning for a coup in Ukraine . And that by 1 March 2013 they started organizing it inside the U.S. Embassy there . And that they hired members of Ukraine's two racist-fascist, or nazi, political parties , Right Sector and Svoboda (which latter had been called the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine until the CIA advised them to change it to Freedom Party, or "Svoboda" instead). And that in February 2014 they did it (and here's the 4 February 2014 phone call instructing the U.S. Ambassador whom to place in charge of the new regime when the coup will be completed), under the cover of authentic anti-corruption demonstrations that the Embassy organized on the Maidan Square in Kiev, demonstrations that the criminal U.S. 'news' media misrepresented as 'democracy demonstrations ,' though Ukraine already had democracy (but still lots of corruption, even more than today's U.S. does, and the pontificating Obama said he was trying to end Ukraine's corruption -- which instead actually soared after his coup there).

But wait there's more .... Remember that caravan of refugees making their way through Mexico? Guess where a number of them came from? Honduras. Yep. Another coup that happened during Obama's and Hillary's tenure.

Hard choices: Hillary Clinton admits role in Honduran coup aftermath

In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a review of Henry Kissinger's latest book, "World Order ," to lay out her vision for "sustaining America's leadership in the world." In the midst of numerous global crises, she called for return to a foreign policy with purpose, strategy and pragmatism. She also highlighted some of these policy choices in her memoir "Hard Choices" and how they contributed to the challenges that Barack Obama's administration now faces.
**
The chapter on Latin America, particularly the section on Honduras, a major source of the child migrants currently pouring into the United States, has gone largely unnoticed. In letters to Clinton and her successor, John Kerry, more than 100 members of Congress have repeatedly warned about the deteriorating security situation in Honduras, especially since the 2009 military coup that ousted the country's democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. As Honduran scholar Dana Frank points out in Foreign Affairs, the U.S.-backed post-coup government "rewarded coup loyalists with top ministries," opening the door for further "violence and anarchy."

The homicide rate in Honduras, already the highest in the world, increased by 50 percent from 2008 to 2011; political repression, the murder of opposition political candidates, peasant organizers and LGBT activists increased and continue to this day. Femicides skyrocketed. The violence and insecurity were exacerbated by a generalized institutional collapse. Drug-related violence has worsened amid allegations of rampant corruption in Honduras' police and government. While the gangs are responsible for much of the violence, Honduran security forces have engaged in a wave of killings and other human rights crimes with impunity.

Despite this, however, both under Clinton and Kerry, the State Department's response to the violence and military and police impunity has largely been silence, along with continued U.S. aid to Honduran security forces. In "Hard Choices," Clinton describes her role in the aftermath of the coup that brought about this dire situation. Her firsthand account is significant both for the confession of an important truth and for a crucial false testimony.

First, the confession: Clinton admits that she used the power of her office to make sure that Zelaya would not return to office. "In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico," Clinton writes. "We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot."

Clinton's position on Latin America in her bid for the presidency is another example of how the far right exerts disproportionate influence on US foreign policy in the hemisphere. up 24 users have voted. --

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment


aliasalias on Fri, 11/23/2018 - 6:16pm

Count on Wikileaks for the unvarnished truth

@snoopydawg @snoopydawg Obama, Hillary and the rest of that administration knew it was a coup because that was the goal.

"..4. (C) In our view, none of the above arguments has any substantive validity under the Honduran constitution. Some are outright false. Others are mere supposition or ex-post rationalizations of a patently illegal act. Essentially: --
the military had no authority to remove Zelaya from the country;
-- Congress has no constitutional authority to remove a Honduran president;
-- Congress and the judiciary removed Zelaya on the basis of a hasty, ad-hoc, extralegal, secret, 48-hour process;
-- the purported "resignation" letter was a fabrication and was not even the basis for Congress's action of June 28; and
-- Zelaya's arrest and forced removal from the country violated multiple constitutional guarantees, including the prohibition on expatriation, presumption of innocence and right to due process. "
https://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/09TEGUCIGALPA645_a.html

gulfgal98 on Fri, 11/23/2018 - 5:45am
How un-self aware is Hillary?

That evil woman thinks she has the right to preach to others about how to handle the very fallout from the horrific disasters that she HERself created? Hillary, look in the mirror, you evil woman.

From the Guardian article that snoopy linked above comes this not so shocking but arrogant statement by the evil queen herself.

Clinton said rightwing populists in the west met "a psychological as much as political yearning to be told what to do, and where to go, and how to live and have their press basically stifled and so be given one version of reality.

" The whole American system was designed so that you would eliminate the threat from a strong, authoritarian king or other leader and maybe people are just tired of it. They don't want that much responsibility and freedom. They want to be told what to do and where to go and how to live and only given one version of reality.

"I don't know why at this moment that is so attractive to people, but it's a serious threat to our freedom and our democratic institutions, and it goes very deep and very far and we've got to do a better job of shining a light on it and trying to combat it."

This arrogance of looking down on the populace is very part and parcel of the neoliberal attitude of the ruling class takes to the rest of us peons. They created this unreality for the American people and have suppressed our right to know what is really happening in the world. Obama destroyed the Occupy Movement with violent police attacks and kettling. And then disgustingly, Clinton comes out with her hubristic victim blaming.

The Clintons are nearly single handedly responsible for much of the destruction of the American middle class and the repression of poor and black people under Bill and the violent destruction of many countries under Hillary. And yet neither Clinton is willing to own up for all the human misery that they have caused wherever they go. Unfortunately, the one place they refuse to go is just away forever.

gulfgal98 on Fri, 11/23/2018 - 6:26am
Twitter is not too kind to Hillary, just a sampling

@gulfgal98

Apparently Hillary Clinton's 2020 platform will consist of two things:

1. We need to stop all these fucking brown people who sneak into our countries and ruin things for the nice, white population.

2. Bernie Sanders is a racist.

Well, that's one more than last time. #Progress https://t.co/H5jb5l5ZNK

-- "Angry Jon Snow" Graziano (@jvgraz) November 22, 2018

The belief that HRC & her circle are principled & progressive is just as fictitious as the belief that they lost to a reality TV host because of stolen emails, social media trolls, & a (fictitious) conspiracy between the reality TV host & the Kremlin: https://t.co/iyTC1M6uws

-- Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) November 22, 2018

Bombing a nation into smithereens like a real neocon, then refusing to help its people fleeing from the terror she created -like a real neocon.

Hillary Clinton, a progressive who gets things done -you know, like the neocon she really is. https://t.co/IQWFy4Rn3O

-- Amir (@AmirAminiMD) November 22, 2018

Clinton says Europe should make clear that "we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge & support." Isn't this the attitude we denounce Trump for? Speaking of irony, Clinton's regime wars in Libya & Syria (& Iraq, indirectly) fueled the migration she wants to stop. https://t.co/CIkkGRRKNd

-- Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) November 22, 2018

This ego-maniac sees the world's problems - which she had a huge hand in creating - only through the lens of her electability. Apparently, the only problems the world has are the one's that keep her from sitting in the Oval Office. Everything else is fine. She is deplorable.

-- Tom Hillgardner (@Tom4CongressNY6) November 22, 2018

Ah yes, Trump only won because the Democrats weren't harsh enough on immigration https://t.co/0ULBP23O4S

-- Abby Martin (@AbbyMartin) November 22, 2018

Hillary Clinton & Tony Blair now say migration issues "lit the flame" of RW populism in Europe and they must crack down.

Neither admits THEIR disastrous war & destabilization policy, neoliberal economics (incl sanctions) drive millions to flee https://t.co/8HUY2i25Sy pic.twitter.com/MaRiRkPjRM

-- Joanne Leon (@joanneleon) November 22, 2018

That evil woman thinks she has the right to preach to others about how to handle the very fallout from the horrific disasters that she HERself created? Hillary, look in the mirror, you evil woman.

From the Guardian article that snoopy linked above comes this not so shocking but arrogant statement by the evil queen herself.

Clinton said rightwing populists in the west met "a psychological as much as political yearning to be told what to do, and where to go, and how to live and have their press basically stifled and so be given one version of reality.

" The whole American system was designed so that you would eliminate the threat from a strong, authoritarian king or other leader and maybe people are just tired of it. They don't want that much responsibility and freedom. They want to be told what to do and where to go and how to live and only given one version of reality.

"I don't know why at this moment that is so attractive to people, but it's a serious threat to our freedom and our democratic institutions, and it goes very deep and very far and we've got to do a better job of shining a light on it and trying to combat it."

This arrogance of looking down on the populace is very part and parcel of the neoliberal attitude of the ruling class takes to the rest of us peons. They created this unreality for the American people and have suppressed our right to know what is really happening in the world. Obama destroyed the Occupy Movement with violent police attacks and kettling. And then disgustingly, Clinton comes out with her hubristic victim blaming.

The Clintons are nearly single handedly responsible for much of the destruction of the American middle class and the repression of poor and black people under Bill and the violent destruction of many countries under Hillary. And yet neither Clinton is willing to own up for all the human misery that they have caused wherever they go. Unfortunately, the one place they refuse to go is just away forever.

The Aspie Corner on Fri, 11/23/2018 - 6:46am
And amazingly, should she run, the 'left' will back her anyway.

@gulfgal98 Because they just HAVE to get a rich, far-right, patriarchal white woman elected at any cost for the sake of 'making history'. If these idiots really wanted to make history, they'd work like hell to put someone in charge who actually had the balls to hang the pigs and their collaborators for their crimes.

#5

Apparently Hillary Clinton's 2020 platform will consist of two things:

1. We need to stop all these fucking brown people who sneak into our countries and ruin things for the nice, white population.

2. Bernie Sanders is a racist.

Well, that's one more than last time. #Progress https://t.co/H5jb5l5ZNK

-- "Angry Jon Snow" Graziano (@jvgraz) November 22, 2018

The belief that HRC & her circle are principled & progressive is just as fictitious as the belief that they lost to a reality TV host because of stolen emails, social media trolls, & a (fictitious) conspiracy between the reality TV host & the Kremlin: https://t.co/iyTC1M6uws

-- Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) November 22, 2018

Bombing a nation into smithereens like a real neocon, then refusing to help its people fleeing from the terror she created -like a real neocon.

Hillary Clinton, a progressive who gets things done -you know, like the neocon she really is. https://t.co/IQWFy4Rn3O

-- Amir (@AmirAminiMD) November 22, 2018

Clinton says Europe should make clear that "we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge & support." Isn't this the attitude we denounce Trump for? Speaking of irony, Clinton's regime wars in Libya & Syria (& Iraq, indirectly) fueled the migration she wants to stop. https://t.co/CIkkGRRKNd

-- Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) November 22, 2018

This ego-maniac sees the world's problems - which she had a huge hand in creating - only through the lens of her electability. Apparently, the only problems the world has are the one's that keep her from sitting in the Oval Office. Everything else is fine. She is deplorable.

-- Tom Hillgardner (@Tom4CongressNY6) November 22, 2018

Ah yes, Trump only won because the Democrats weren't harsh enough on immigration https://t.co/0ULBP23O4S

-- Abby Martin (@AbbyMartin) November 22, 2018

Hillary Clinton & Tony Blair now say migration issues "lit the flame" of RW populism in Europe and they must crack down.

Neither admits THEIR disastrous war & destabilization policy, neoliberal economics (incl sanctions) drive millions to flee https://t.co/8HUY2i25Sy pic.twitter.com/MaRiRkPjRM

-- Joanne Leon (@joanneleon) November 22, 2018

[Nov 25, 2018] >How the US Creates 'Shthole' Countries

Notable quotes:
"... Essays on Palestine. ..."
Nov 25, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

November 19, 2018 • 104 Comments

A new collection of essays, edited by former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, clearly shows that it is the U.S. that is largely responsible for the poverty and suffering in these very nations, says Robert Fantina.

By Robert Fantina

In two years, the world has become accustomed to being shocked by the words and actions of United States President Donald Trump. In January of this year, he again showed his lack of diplomacy, tack and common decency, when he referred to many poorer countries as "sh*ithole countries", asking, "Why do we want all these people from sh*thole countries coming here?" Former member of the House of Representatives Cynthia McKinney, in the new book she has edited, How the US Creates 'Sh*thole' Countries , (Clarity Press) has gathered a collection of essays, including one of her own, that clearly shows that it is the U.S. that is largely responsible for the poverty and suffering in these very nations.

The first series of essays describes U.S. foreign policy, and its true motives. In the essay, The End of Washington's 'Wars on the Cheap' , The Saker sums up U.S. foreign policy as follows: "Here's the template for typical Empire action: find some weak country, subvert it, accuse it of human right violations, slap economic sanctions, trigger riots and intervene militarily in 'defense' of 'democracy', 'freedom' and 'self-determination' (or some other combo of equally pious and meaningless concepts)." The hypocrisy of such a policy is obvious. A weak and vulnerable nation is victimized by a far more powerful one. The U.S. has done this countless times in its history, and there appears to be no appetite in the government to change.

This introduction and explanation of U.S. foreign policy is followed by essays on some, but certainly not all, of the countries that have been victimized by the United States, usually following this template. As McKinney says in her essay, Somalia: Is Somalia the U.S. Template for All of Africa , " while mouthing freedom, democracy, and liberty, the United States has denied these very aspirations to others, especially when it inconvenienced the US or its allies. In Mozambique and Angola, the US stood with Portugal until it was the Portuguese people, themselves, who threw off their government and voted in a socialist government that vowed to free Portugal of its colonies."

In the essay, How the U.S. Perpetuates the Palestinian Tragedy', Sami Al-Arian writes:

" It might be understandable, if detestable, for Israel and its Zionist defenders to circulate false characterizations of history and myths to advance their political agenda. But it is incomprehensible, indeed reprehensible, for those who claim to advocate the rule of law, believe in the principle of self-determination, and call for freedom and justice to fall for this propaganda or to become its willing accomplices. In following much of American political leaders' rhetoric or media coverage of the conflict, one is struck by the lack of historical context, the deliberate disregard of empirical facts, and the contempt for established legal constructs and precedents."

The U.S. leads in these distortions, with its officials proclaiming, each time that Israel bombs Gaza, that "Israel has a right to defend itself". There is hardly mention of the brutal, illegal occupation and blockade; never a discussion of the fact that Palestine has no army, navy or air force, and Israel's military is one of the world's most powerful thanks to the U.S. It is never stated that international law allows an occupied people to resist the occupation in any way possible, including armed struggle. The countless United Nations resolutions condemning Israeli actions in Palestine are ignored by U.S. officials.

Once again, U.S. hypocrisy is on very public display.

The third section of this informative book describes the United States' mostly-successful efforts to camouflage its vile intentions and international crimes. Christopher Black, in his essay Western Imperialism and the Use of Propaganda", clearly articulates how this is done:

" The primary concern they [U.S. government officials] have, in order to preserve their control, is for the preservation of the new feudal mythology that they have created: that the world is a dangerous place, that they are the protectors, that the danger is omnipresent, eternal, and omnidirectional, comes from without, and comes from within. The mythology is constructed and presented through all media; journals, films, television, radio, music, advertising, books, the internet in all its variety. All available information systems are used to create and maintain scenarios and dramas to convince the people that they, the protectors, are the good and all others are the bad. We are bombarded with this message incessantly."

Our memories are short, indeed, if we have forgotten both President George W. Bush and his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, telling the world from the United Nations the blatant lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, threatening civilization. We are not paying attention if we are unaware of the many innuendos given of the 'dangers' of all Muslims. Yes, the government fosters fear, proclaiming subtly and not so subtly that there is danger everywhere, and it is the role of the mighty United States to protect the world, whether or not such protection is wanted or needed.

Lastly, the U.S. Itself can be described as a 'sh*thole' country. Its many violations of international law, and crimes against humanity, are summarized by Richard Falk, in his essay The Sh*thole Phenomenon at Home and Abroad:

" This kind of nationalist pride covered up and blindsided crimes of the greatest severity that were being committed from the time of the earliest settlements: genocide against native Americans, reliance on the barbarism of slavery to facilitate profitable cotton production and the supposedly genteel life style of the Southern plantations. This unflattering national picture should be enlarged to include the exploitation of the resources and good will of peoples throughout Latin America, who, once freed from Spanish colonial rule, quickly found themselves victimized by American gunboat diplomacy that paved the way for American investors or joined in crushing those bold and brave enough to engage in national resistance against the abuse of their homelands."

The final essay is the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights on his Mission to the United States of America, authored by Philip Alston. While Trump decries "sh*thole" countries, the conditions that the U.S. put those countries in are not unknown in the U.S. A few facts from Alston's report will suffice:

The U.S.'s " immense wealth and expertise stand in shocking contrast with the conditions in which vast numbers of its citizens live. About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty. It has the highest youth poverty rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the highest infant mortality rates among comparable OECD States. Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, eradicable tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent, and it has the world's highest incarceration rate, one of the lowest levels of voter registrations in among OECD countries and the highest obesity levels in the developed world." " The United States has the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries. The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in December 2017 overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality." " For almost five decades the overall policy response has been neglectful at best, but the policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship."

The information in these essays is all rigorously documented with extensive footnotes. The writing is clear and the facts are presented in a concise manner that is highly beneficial for the average reader or academic.

For anyone who questions U.S. policies, at home or abroad, and who has perhaps become more aware of such issues since Trump's election,

How the US Creates 'Sh*thole' Countries is an indispensable read.

Robert Fantina is a journalist and the author of Essays on Palestine.

[Nov 25, 2018] Felix Keverich

Nov 25, 2018 | www.unz.com

says: November 24, 2018 at 5:38 pm GMT 100 Words @Big Bill They fought that it was Russia, that was holding them back, and by separating they could quickly achieve Western European standard of living. The first guy to become president of independent Ukraine promised people that they were going to "live like France" .in 5 years (!). lol

So their plan was something like this:

step 1: Separate from Russia.

step 2:

step 3: France

Lately, they began to think that the Ukraine's path to prosperity goes through EU membership, hence popular support for Euromaidan, and you know the results Phanar Phantom


Felix Keverich , says: November 24, 2018 at 5:53 pm GMT

@FB

You're full of shit what the heck do you know about industry you useless little fart ? are you an industrial engineer do you have any technical qualifications whatsoever or do you just pull buzzwords like 'marketable skills' out your wazoo, as needed ?

Your industries are worth ZERO, if you're unable to sell your products, and the Ukraine struggled to sell its manufactured goods after 1991. Its traditional customer – Russia began to import Western goods.

You sound like Martyanov. lol It doesn't take any "special qualification" to figure out that Soviet-era factories were churning out worthless crap – there is a reason why that system fell apart, you know.

Now, off to ignore list with you.

FB , says: November 24, 2018 at 6:25 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich Thanks for confirming that you have zero credentials in any technical field yet you are somehow posing as someone qualified to talk about industry

Glad you are blocking me you little worm the Ostrich response do you cover your eyes and ears when your teacher or parent [or caregiver, since you are obviously retarded] says something that is true but which you don't want to hear ?

As for Soviet era factories churning out 'worthless crap' that would include the world's best rocket engines, decades ahead of the west's technology ?

What a worthless little shrimp

Sergey Krieger , says: November 24, 2018 at 6:46 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich Liberast opinion. People with this views destroyed the country, caused massive displacement and demographic and social catastrophes. People with your views should not be allowed to the levers of power for the distance of avangard shot. If to follow your logic USA and China must dismantle and sell as scrap metal their MIC as they both clearly cannot compete with Russian MIC. National manufacturing of everything is not about competition. It is about souverenity in everything and national capability to provide own population both with goods and means to make a living via manufacturing of everything needed. Current situation with so much of everything made in China is an abomination that hurts too much people around the globe. People with your views in Russia should be purged and preferably executed for crimes against former Soviet people.
Sergey Krieger , says: November 24, 2018 at 6:56 pm GMT
I find it strange that shamir who professes communist views is paying so much attention to this basically religious spat about power and money. Wasn't it once th as t that religion is opium for masses. It is here to keep population down so that it is easily fleeced by thieves. The only value for Russia in orthodoxy at the moment is that the country completely devote of ideology as per constitution there must be something to hold people together and give some meaning to their existence.

[Nov 22, 2018] Ukraine, where it's already snowing, isn't ready for winter

Nov 22, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Warren November 20, 2018 at 11:37 am

Vesti News
Published on 19 Nov 2018
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Since Monday, we've been watching Poroshenko's panic. On the one hand, he was throwing rude tantrums because his project to create a "new Church of Ukraine" didn't go as planned. He only managed to create a branch of the Constantinople Patriarchate in Kiev, which is not the division-building thing Poroshenko dreamed of. On the other hand, Ukraine, where it's already snowing, isn't ready for winter.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/8D6e7YZf1lA

Jen November 20, 2018 at 1:35 pm
My suspicion then that Poroshenko must have intended for this new Church of Ukraine to be subservient to Kiev so that all its properties could be declared state properties and the Church's wealth could be Kiev's (and Poroshenko's) for the taking only increased when I saw this report. Interesting too that Poroshenko only now, near the end of his Presidency, is selling off the assets he should have sold off at the start of his Presidency in compliance with Ukrainian law.
Mark Chapman November 20, 2018 at 5:35 pm
Gee; who could ever have imagined such a thing would happen? Russia should handle any emerging crisis very carefully, because Kiev will want to find a way to blame all Ukraine's problems on Russia, as usual. Russia might win quite a few allies if it boxes clever.

No need to write Poroshenko's epitaph just yet; he's only sold off a ratty old shipyard that likely was not making him any money anyway. That's not a bellwether of panic; not yet. But he is almost certain to lose to Tymoshenko, and she will be a double whammy for Ukraine because she has no more idea how to solve the problem than does Poroshenko, is steadfastly loyal to the west although it has done nothing since the glorious Maidan but mess Ukraine up even more than it already was, with the added bonus that she will probably usher in a circuses-but-no-bread distraction of gunning for Poroshenko and his government, using the premise that they are to blame for Ukraine's disintegration. That's broadly true, but Tymoshenko has no plan at all for what comes after Ukrainians' fury is sated.

[Nov 22, 2018] Ukraine is actually ruled by a small group of tycoons; according to the European Council on Foreign Relations (which wants Ukraine to succeed as a western satellite, so you can bet anything negative about it will be soft-pedaled), the 50 5ichest Ukrainians pre-maidan controlled 45% of national GDP.

Nov 22, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman November 19, 2018 at 5:08 pm

"On Nov.14, just a day before the decision to cut assistance, the European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding resolution saying Moldova has become a "state captured by oligarchic interests" that exert their influence over most parts of Moldova's society. The country is actually ruled by a small group of tycoons."

Ukraine is actually ruled by a small group of tycoons; according to the European Council on Foreign Relations (which wants Ukraine to succeed as a western satellite, so you can bet anything negative about it will be soft-pedaled), the 50 5ichest Ukrainians pre-maidan controlled 45% of national GDP.

https://www.ecfr.eu/publications/summary/survival_of_the_richest_how_oligarchs_block_reform_in_ukraine6091

Anyone want to present the case that the situation has improved since its oligarchic president took power, and used it to continuously enrich himself and his family, maintaining his status as a wealthy businessman even as he takes the odd moment out now and again to see how the country's doing? I thought not.

http://uacrisis.org/54793-top-5-ukrainian-oligarchs

Last year, after the country has had quite a generous spell to throw off the shackles of its oligarchy, the top FIVE Ukrainian oligarchs alone control 13% of the nation's GDP – Rinat Akhmetov, Ihor Kolomoyskiy, Victor Pinchuk, Petro Poroshenko and Dmytro Firtash. Waiting in the wings to take over the helm, Yulia Tymoshenko, once known as 'the Gas Princess", and another oligarch who has been rich since she was very young, whose past performance suggests Ukraine is in for another round of nest-feathering and struggle for financial gain among its wealthy citizens, with not a toss given for the rest.

Think we'll see the EU cut them off from funding any time soon? Me, either.

[Nov 20, 2018] A Finance Magnates analysis reports that one of the swindles alone has brought in over a billion dollars and employs 5,000 people. And a new scam, described below, may help what is predicted to be "the next major driver of the Israeli economy."

Nov 20, 2018 | www.unz.com

ChuckOrloski , says: November 17, 2018 at 1:13 pm GMT

Very important, with "Eyes Wide Open," Alison Weir, below!

https://israelpalestinenews.org/is-israel-turning-a-blind-eye-as-israeli-scammers-swindle-victims-in-france-us-elsewhere/

renfro , says: November 17, 2018 at 5:53 pm GMT
@ChuckOrloski Not surprising to anyone who understands that stealing ,especially from 'others' is a first choice career of Jews/Israelis.
I have always suspected that the 9 billion of stolen Iraq funds were stolen by the Jews who were embedded in the US occupation administration and sent to Israel. Israel was so broke in 2001 they asked the Us for economic aid then suddenly in 2004 by some miracle they were rolling in surplus money again.

Investigations reveal a pattern of Israeli officials stone-walling efforts to stop the perpetrators of massive financial swindles in various countries, from Europe to the US to the Philippines While some Israeli reporters work to expose the scams, a new one is already underway

By Alison Weir

[MORE]
French and Israeli media report that a group largely made up of Israelis scammed 3,000 French citizens out of approximately $20 million. Most of the stolen money is in Israel, but Israeli authorities are reportedly failing to cooperate with France in prosecuting the scammers and retrieving the money.
This is the latest of numerous examples of Israeli officials stone-walling international efforts against the perpetrators of massive financial swindles around the world, according to Israeli investigative journalists and others. These scams have brought estimated billions into the Israeli economy, propping up a regime widely condemned for human rights abuses and ethnic cleansing against indigenous Palestinians. Together, the stories paint a picture of a government that seems to be turning a blind eye to -- and even protecting -- scammers.

A Finance Magnates analysis reports that one of the swindles alone has brought in over a billion dollars and employs 5,000 people. And a new scam, described below, may help what is predicted to be "the next major driver of the Israeli economy."

A former IRS expert on international crime notes that "fraudulent industries are often major economic drivers, and that can translate into political clout."
Some Israeli journalists have been working to expose the situation in Israeli newspapers, publishing exposés like "As Israel turns blind eye to vast binary options fraud, French investigators step in" and "Are French Jewish criminals using Israel as a get-out-of-jail card?" (Short answer: yes.)

Victimizing French business owners & churches

The victims of the recent scam against French citizens included churches and the owners of small businesses -- delicatessens, car repair shops, hair salons, plumbers, etc. Some lost their life savings and describe being threatened and intimidated by the scammers.

[Nov 16, 2018] Food scarcity and malnutrition of children under the age of 5, places the Ukraine in percentage terms lower than Pakistan, Ethiopia, Libya, Iraq

Nov 16, 2018 | thesaker.is

PeterP on November 12, 2018 , · at 9:06 pm EST/EDT

Food scarcity and malnutrition of children under the age of 5, places the Ukraine in percentage terms lower than Pakistan, Ethiopia, Libya, Iraq .the Ukraine welcomes the Cookie Monster (stats National Geographic)

[Nov 16, 2018] The Meaning Of A Multipolar World

Nov 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

The Meaning Of A Multipolar World

by Tyler Durden Fri, 11/16/2018 - 00:05 4 SHARES Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Saker Blog,

Right now, we live in a monopolar world.

Here is how U.S. President Barack Obama proudly, even imperially, described it when delivering the Commencement address to America's future generals, at West Point Military Academy, on 28 May 2014 :

The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation . [Every other nation is therefore 'dispensable'; we therefore now have "Amerika, Amerika über alles, über alles in der Welt".] That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come. America must always lead on the world stage. If we don't, no one else will...

Russia's aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China's economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us. [He was here telling these future U.S. military leaders that they are to fight for the U.S. aristocracy, to help them defeat any nation that resists.] ...

In Ukraine, Russia's recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe. But this isn't the Cold War. Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away. [He was proud of the U.S. Government's effectiveness at propaganda, just as Hitler was proud of the German Government's propaganda-effectiveness under Joseph Goebbels.] Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions; Europe and the G7 joined us to impose sanctions; NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies; the IMF is helping to stabilize Ukraine's economy; OSCE monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine.

Actually, his - Obama's - regime, had conquered Ukraine in February 2014 by a very bloody coup , and installed a racist-fascist anti-Russian Government there next door to Russia, a stooge-regime to this day, which instituted a racial-cleansing campaign to eliminate enough pro-Russia voters so as to be able to hold onto power there. It has destroyed Ukraine and so alienated the regions of Ukraine that had voted more than 75% for the democratically elected Ukrainian President whom Obama overthrew, so that those pro-Russia regions quit Ukraine. What remains of Ukraine after the U.S. conquest is a nazi mess and a destroyed nation in hock to Western taxpayers and banks .

Furthermore, Obama insisted upon (to use Bush's term about Saddam Hussein) "regime-change" in Syria. Twice in one day the Secretary General of the U.N. asserted that only the Syrian people have any right to do that, no outside nation has any right to impose it. Obama ignored him and kept on trying. Obama actually protected Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate against bombing by Syria's Government and by Syria's ally Russia, while the U.S. bombed Syria's army , which was trying to prevent those jihadists from overthrowing the Government. Obama bombed Libya in order to "regime-change" Muammar Gaddafi, and he bombed Syria in order to "regime-change" Bashar al-Assad; and, so, while the "U.S. Drops Bombs; EU Gets Refugees & Blame. This Is Insane." And Obama's successor Trump continues Obama's policies in this regard. And, of course, the U.S. and its ally UK invaded Iraq in 2003, likewise on the basis of lies to the effect that Iraq was the aggressor . (Even Germany called Poland the aggressor when invading Poland in 1939.)

No other nation regularly invades other nations that never had invaded it. This is international aggression. It is the international crime of "War of Aggression" ; and the only nations which do it nowadays are America and its allies, such as the Sauds, Israel, France, and UK, which often join in America's aggressions (or, in the case of the Sauds' invasion of Yemen, the ally initiates an invasion, which the U.S. then joins). America's generals are taught this aggression, and not only by Obama. Ever since at least George W. Bush, it has been solid U.S. policy. (Bush even kicked out the U.N.'s weapons-inspectors, so as to bomb Iraq in 2003.)

In other words: a mono-polar world is a world in which one nation stands above international law, and that nation's participation in an invasion immunizes also each of its allies who join in the invasion, protecting it too from prosecution, so that a mono-polar world is one in which the United Nations can't even possibly impose international law impartially, but can impose it only against nations that aren't allied with the mono-polar power, which in this case is the United States. Furthermore, because the U.S. regime reigns supreme over the entire world, as it does, any nations -- such as Russia, China, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Ecuador -- that the U.S. regime (which has itself been scientifically proven to be a dictatorship ) chooses to treat as an enemy, is especially disadvantaged internationally. Russia and China, however, are among the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and therefore possess a degree of international protection that America's other chosen enemies do not. And the people who choose which nations to identify as America's 'enemies' are America's super-rich and not the entire American population, because the U.S. Government is controlled by the super-rich and not by the public .

So, that's the existing mono-polar world: it is a world that's controlled by one nation, and this one nation is, in turn, controlled by its aristocracy, its super-rich .

If one of the five permanent members of the Security Council would table at the U.N. a proposal to eliminate the immunity that the U.S. regime has, from investigation and prosecution for any future War of Aggression that it might perpetrate, then, of course, the U.S. and any of its allies on the Security Council would veto that, but if the proposing nation would then constantly call to the international public's attention that the U.S. and its allies had blocked passage of such a crucially needed "procedure to amend the UN charter" , and that this fact means that the U.S. and its allies constitute fascist regimes as was understood and applied against Germany's fascist regime, at the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1945, then possibly some members of the U.S.-led gang (the NATO portion of it, at least) would quit that gang, and the U.S. global dictatorship might end, so that there would then become a multi-polar world, in which democracy could actually thrive.

Democracy can only shrivel in a mono-polar world, because all other nations then are simply vassal nations, which accept Obama's often-repeated dictum that all other nations are "dispensable" and that only the U.S. is not. Even the UK would actually gain in freedom, and in democracy, by breaking away from the U.S., because it would no longer be under the U.S. thumb -- the thumb of the global aggressor-nation.

Only one global poll has ever been taken of the question "Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?" and it found that, overwhelmingly, by a three-to-one ratio above the second-most-often named country, the United States was identified as being precisely that, the top threat to world-peace . But then, a few years later, another (though less-comprehensive) poll was taken on a similar question, and it produced similar results . Apparently, despite the effectiveness of America's propagandists, people in other lands recognize quite well that today's America is a more successful and longer-reigning version of Hitler's Germany. Although modern America's propaganda-operation is far more sophisticated than Nazi Germany's was, it's not entirely successful. America's invasions are now too common, all based on lies, just like Hitler's were.

On November 9th, Russian Television headlined "'Very insulting': Trump bashes Macron's idea of European army for protection from Russia, China & US" and reported that "US President Donald Trump has unloaded on his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, calling the French president's idea of a 'real European army,' independent from Washington, an insult." On the one hand, Trump constantly criticizes France and other European nations for allegedly not paying enough for America's NATO military alliance, but he now is denigrating France for proposing to other NATO members a decreasing reliance upon NATO, and increasing reliance, instead, upon the Permanent Structured Cooperation (or PESCO) European military alliance , which was begun on 11 December 2017, and which currently has "25 EU Member States participating: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden." Those are the European nations that are now on the path to eventually quitting NATO.

Once NATO is ended, the U.S. regime will find far more difficult any invasions such as of Iraq 2003, Libya 2011, Syria 2012-, Yemen 2016-, and maybe even such as America's bloody coup that overthrew the democratically elected Government of Ukraine and installed a racist-fascist or nazi anti-Russian regime there in 2014 . All of these U.S. invasions (and coup) brought to Europe millions of refugees and enormously increased burdens upon European taxpayers. Plus, America's economic sanctions against both Russia and Iran have hurt European companies (and the U.S. does almost no business with either country, so is immune to that, also). Consequently, today's America is clearly Europe's actual main enemy. The continuation of NATO is actually toxic to the peoples of Europe. Communism and the Soviet Union and its NATO-mirroring Warsaw Pact military alliance, all ended peacefully in 1991, but the U.S. regime has secretly continued the Cold War, now against Russia , and is increasingly focusing its "regime-change" propaganda against Russia's popular democratic leader, Vladimir Putin, even though this U.S. aggression against Russia could mean a world-annihilating nuclear war.

On November 11th, RT bannered "'Good for multipolar world': Putin positive on Macron's 'European army' plan bashed by Trump (VIDEO)" , and opened:

Europe's desire to create its own army and stop relying on Washington for defense is not only understandable, but would be "positive" for the multipolar world, Vladimir Putin said days after Donald Trump ripped into it.

" Europe is a powerful economic union and it is only natural that they want to be independent and sovereign in the field of defense and security," Putin told RT in Paris where world leader gathered to mark the centenary of the end of WWI.

He also described the potential creation of a European army "a positive process," adding that it would "strengthen the multipolar world." The Russian leader even expressed his support to French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently championed this idea by saying that Russia's stance on the issue "is aligned with that of France" to some extent.

Macron recently revived the ambitious plans of creating a combined EU military force by saying that it is essential for the security of Europe. He also said that the EU must become independent from its key ally on the other side of the Atlantic, provoking an angry reaction from Washington.

Once NATO has shrunk to include only the pro-aggression and outright nazi European nations, such as Ukraine (after the U.S. gang accepts Ukraine into NATO, as it almost certainly then would do), the EU will have a degree of freedom and of democracy that it can only dream of today, and there will then be a multi-polar world, in which the leaders of the U.S. will no longer enjoy the type of immunity from investigation and possible prosecution, for their invasions, that they do today. The result of this will, however, be catastrophic for the top 100 U.S. 'defense' contractors , such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Raytheon, because then all of those firms' foreign sales except to the Sauds, Israel and a few other feudal and fascist regimes, will greatly decline. Donald Trump is doing everything he can to keep the Sauds to the agreements he reached with them back in 2017 to buy $404 billion of U.S. weaponry over the following 10 years . If, in addition, those firms lose some of their European sales, then the U.S. economic boom thus far in Trump's Presidency will be seriously endangered. So, the U.S. regime, which is run by the owners of its 'defense'-contractors , will do all it can to prevent this from happening.

* * *

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 , and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity .

[Nov 06, 2018] US-British Threats Against Russia Have a Long History by T.J. Coles – Matthew Alford

Notable quotes:
"... Union Jackboot: What Your Media and Professors Don't Tell You About British Foreign Policy ..."
"... There seems to be a consensus that we need a strong military because Russia is on the rise. What do you think about that rationale? ..."
"... What about military threats? ..."
"... So we've extended NATO to pretty much the Russian border? But there's a hard border there. Everyone knows we're never going to attack Russia, both for reasons of morality and self-preservation. So maybe this situation is safer than you imply. ..."
"... Brexit White Paper ..."
"... T. J. Coles is a postdoctoral researcher at Plymouth University's Cognition Institute and the author of several books. ..."
"... Matthew Alford teaches at Bath University in the UK and has also written several books. Their latest is ..."
"... The Rise and Fall of the British Empire ..."
"... Bolshevism and Imperial Sedition ..."
"... Power without Responsibility ..."
"... Russian Roulette: A Deadly Game: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global Plot ..."
"... Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community ..."
"... Vision for 2020 ..."
"... Russian Nuclear Weapons: Past, Present, and Future ..."
"... The New Atlanticist ..."
"... The United Kingdom's relations with Russia ..."
Nov 06, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

In their new book Union Jackboot: What Your Media and Professors Don't Tell You About British Foreign Policy (Até Books), doctors T.J. Coles and Matthew Alford debate the rationale of Anglo-American policy towards Russia.

Alford: There seems to be a consensus that we need a strong military because Russia is on the rise. What do you think about that rationale?

Coles: There's no consensus, except among European and American elites. Europe and America are not the world.

There are a lot of issues to consider with regards to Russia. Is it a threat? If so to whom? What kind of threat is Russia? So let's consider these questions carefully. As far as the British establishment is concerned, Russia is an ideological threat because it is a major power with a substantial population. It's also self-reliant where oil and gas is concerned, unlike Britain. So there's lots of potential for Russian political ideology to undermine Britain's status. In fact, there are European Council on Foreign Relations papers saying that Putin's Russia presents an "ideological alternative" to the EU. [i] And that's dangerous.

Britain, or more accurately its policymaking elites, have considered Russia a significant enemy for over a century. Under the Tsar, the so-called Great Game was a battle for strategic resources, trading routes, and so on. The historian Lawrence James calls this period the first Cold War, which went "hot" with the Crimean War (1853-56). [ii] Britain had a mixed relationship with the Tsars because, on the one hand, theirs' were repressive regimes and Britain tended to favour repressive regimes, hence their brief alliance with Russia's enemy, the Ottomans. On the other hand, Russia was a strategic threat to Britain's imperial interests, and thus the Crimean War (1853-56).

When the Bolsheviks took over Russia, beginning 1917, the relationship became much less ambiguous – Russians, and especially Bolsheviks, were clearly the enemy. Their ideology posed a threat internally. So Winston Churchill, who began as a Liberal and became a Conservative, considered the Labour Party, which was formed in 1900, as basically a front for Bolsheviks. [iii] That shows the level of paranoia among elites. The Labour Party, at least at the beginning, was a genuine, working man's political organisation – women couldn't vote then, remember. So by associating this progressive, grassroots party representing the working classes as an ideological ally or even puppet of the brutal Bolshevik regime, the Tories had an excuse to undermine the power of organised, working people. So you had the Zinoviev letter in 1924, which we now know was a literal conspiracy between the secret services and elements of the Tory party to fabricate a link between Labour and Moscow. And it famously cost Labour the general election, since the right-wing, privately-owned media ran with the story as though it was real. It's an early example of fake news. [iv]

That's the ideological threat that Russia has posed, historically. But where there's a threat, there's an opportunity. The British elites exploited the "threat" then and as they do today by associating organised labour with evil Bolshevism and, in doing so, alienate the lower classes from their own political interests. Suddenly, we've all got to be scared of Russia, just like in 1917. And let's not forget that Britain used chemical weapons – M-Devices, which induced vomiting – against the Bolsheviks. Chemical weapons were "the right medicine for the Bolshevist," in Churchill's words. This was in 1919, as part of the Allied invasion of Russia in support of the White Army. [v]

So if we're talking about the historical balance of forces and cause and effect, Britain not Russia initiated the use of chemical weapons against others. But this history is typically inverted to say that Russia poses a threat to the West, hence all the talk about Novichok, the Skripals, and Dawn Sturgess, the civilian who supposedly came into contact with Novichok and died in hospital a few days later.

The next question: What sort of threat is Russia? According to the US Army War College, since the collapse of the Soviet Union and since pro-US, pro-"free market" President Boris Yeltsin resigned in 1999, Russia has pursued so-called economic nationalism. And the US doesn't like this because markets suddenly get closed and taxes are raised against US corporations. [vi] That's the real threat. But you can't tell the public that: that we hate Russia because they aren't doing what we say. If you look through the military documents, you can find almost nothing about security threats against the US in terms of Russian expansion, except in the sense that "security" means operational freedom. You can find references to Russia's nuclear weapons, though, which are described as defensive, designed "to counter US forces and weapons systems." [vii] Try finding that on the BBC. I should mention that even "defensive" nukes can be launched accidentally.

The real goal with regards to Russia is maintaining US economic hegemony and the culture of open "free markets" that goes with it, while at the same time being protectionist in real life. (US protectionism didn't start under Trump, by the way.) Liberal media like the New York Times run sarcastic articles about Russian state oil and gas being a front for Putin and his cronies. And yes, that may be true. But what threat is Russia to the US if it has a corrupt government? The threat is closing its markets to the US. The US is committed to what its military calls Full Spectrum Dominance. So the world needs to be run in a US-led neoliberal order, in the words of the US military, "to protect US interests and investment." [viii] But this cannot be done if you have "economic nationalism," like China had until the "reforms" of the '70s and '80s, and still has today to some extent. Russia and China aren't military threats. The global population on the whole knows this, even though the domestic US and British media say the opposite.

Alford: What about military threats?

Coles: The best sources you can get are the US military records. Straight from the horse's mouth. The military plans for war and defence. They have contingencies for when political situations change. So they know what they're talking about. There's a massive divide between reality, as understood from the military records, and media and political rhetoric. Assessments by the US Army War College, for instance, said years ago that any moves by NATO to support a Western-backed government in Ukraine would provoke Russia into annexing Crimea. They don't talk about Russia spontaneously invading Ukraine and annexing it, which is the image we get from the media. The documents talk about Russia reacting to NATO provocation. [ix]

If you look at a map, you see Russia surrounded by hostile NATO forces. The media don't discuss this dangerous and provocative situation, except the occasional mention of, say, US-British-Polish war-gaming on the border with Russia. When they do mention it, they say it's for "containment," the containment of Russia. But to contain something, the given thing has to be expanding. But the US military – like the annual threat assessments to Congress – say that Russia's not expanding, except when provoked. So at the moment as part of its NATO mission, the UK is training Polish and Ukrainian armed forces, has deployed troops in Poland and Estonia, and is conducting military exercises with them. [x]

Imagine if Scotland ceded from the UK and the Russians were on our border conducting military exercises, supposedly to deter a British invasion of Scotland. That's what we're doing in Ukraine. Britain's moves are extremely dangerous. In the 1980s, the UK as part of NATO conducted the exercise, Operation Able Archer, which envisaged troop build-ups between NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries. Now-declassified records show that the Russians briefly mistook this exercise for a real-world scenario. That could have escalated into nuclear war. This is very serious. [xi]

But the biggest player is the USA. It's using the threat of force and a global architecture of hi-tech militarism to shape a neoliberal order. Britain is slavishly following its lead. I doubt that Britain would position forces near Russia were it not for the USA. Successive US administrations have or are building a missile system in Europe and Turkey. They say it's to deter Iran from firing Scud missiles at Europe. But it's pointed at Russia. It's a radar system based in Romania and Turkey, with a battery of Patriot missiles based in Poland. The stationing of missiles there provoked Russia into moving its mobile nuclear weapons up to the border in its Kaliningrad exclave, as it warned it would do in 2008. [xii] Try to find any coverage of that in the media, except for a few articles in the print media here or there. If Western media were interested in survival, there would be regular headlines: "NATO provoking Russia."

But the situation in Ukraine is really the tipping point. Consider the equivalent. Imagine if Russia was conducting military exercises with Canada or Mexico, and building bases there. How would the US react? It would be considered an extreme threat, a violation of the UN Charter, which prohibits threats against sovereign states.

Alford: So we've extended NATO to pretty much the Russian border? But there's a hard border there. Everyone knows we're never going to attack Russia, both for reasons of morality and self-preservation. So maybe this situation is safer than you imply.

Coles: There's no morality involved. States are abstract, amorphous entities comprised of dominant minorities and subjugated majorities who are conditioned to believe that they are relatively free and prosperous. The elites of those states act both in their self-interests – career, peer-pressure, kickbacks, and so on – and in the interests of their class, which is of course tied to international relations because their class thrives on profiting from resource exploitation. So you can't talk about morality in this context. Only individuals can behave morally. The state is made up of individuals, of course, but they're acting against the interests of the majority. As we speak, they are acting immorally – or at least amorally – but creating the geopolitical conditions that imperil each and every one of us.

As for invasion, we're not going to invade Russia. This isn't 1918. Russia has nuclear weapons and can deter an invasion. But that's not the point. Do we want to de-escalate an already tense geopolitical situation or make it worse to the point where an accident happens? So while it's not about invading Russia directly, the issue is about attacking what are called Russia's "national interests." Russia's "national interests" are the same as the elites' of the UK. National interest doesn't mean the interests of the public. It means the interests of the policymaking establishment and the corporations. For example, the Theresa May government sacrificed its own credibility to ensure that its Brexit White Paper (2018) appeased both the interests of the food and manufacturing industries that want a soft Brexit – easy trade with the EU – and the financial services sector which wants a hard Brexit – freedom from EU regulation. Everyone else be damned. That's the "national interest."

So for its real "national interest," Russia wants to keep Ukraine in its sphere of influence because its oil and gas to Europe pass through Ukraine. About 80% of Russia's export economy is in the oil and gas sector. It's already had serious political tensions with Ukraine, which on several occasions hasn't paid its energy bills, so Russia has cut supplies. If Europe can bump Ukraine into its own sphere of influence it has more leverage over Russia. This is practically admitted in Parliamentary discussions by Foreign Office ministers, and so forth. [xiii] Again, omitted by the media. Also, remember that plenty of ethnic Russians live in eastern Ukraine. In addition, Russia has a naval base in Crimea. That's not to excuse its illegal action in annexing Ukraine, it's to highlight the realpolitik missing in the media's coverage of the situation.

T. J. Coles is a postdoctoral researcher at Plymouth University's Cognition Institute and the author of several books.

Matthew Alford teaches at Bath University in the UK and has also written several books. Their latest is Union Jackboot (Até Books).

SOURCES

[i] Mark Leonard and Nicu Popescu (2007) 'A Power Audit of EU-Russia Relations' European Council on Foreign Relations, Policy Paper, p. 1 http://www.ecfr.eu/page/-/ECFR-02_A_POWER_AUDIT_OF_EU-RUSSIA_RELATIONS.pdf .

[ii] 'Anglo-Russian relations were severely strained; what was in effect a cold war lasted from the late 1820s to the beginning of the next century'. The Crimean War seems to have set a precedent for today. James writes:

[It] was an imperial war, the only one fought by Britain against a European power during the nineteenth century, although some would have regarded Russia as essentially an Asiatic power. No territory was at stake; the war was undertaken solely to guarantee British naval supremacy in the Mediterranean and, indirectly, to forestall any threat to India which might have followed Russia replacing Britain as the dominant power in the Middle East.

Lawrence James (1997) The Rise and Fall of the British Empire London: Abacus, pp. 180-82.

[iii] Churchill said in 1920:

All these strikes and rumours of strikes and threats of strikes and loss and suffering caused by them; all this talk of revolution and "direct action" have deeply offended most of the British people. There is a growing feeling that a considerable section of organized Labour is trying to tyrannize over the whole public and to bully them into submission, not by argument, not by recognized political measures, but by brute force

But if we can do little for Russia [under the Bolsheviks], we can do much for Britain. We do not want any of these experiments here

Whether it is the Irish murder gang or the Egyptian vengeance society, or the seditious extremists in India, or the arch-traitors we have at home, they will feel the weight of the British arm.

Winston Churchill (1920) Bolshevism and Imperial Sedition . Speech to United Wards Club. London: The International Churchill Society https://winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/1915-1929-nadir-and-recovery/bolshevism-and-imperial-sedition/ .

[iv] The fake letter says:

A settlement of relations between the two countries [UK and Russia] will assist in the revolutionising of the international and British proletariat, [and] make it possible for us to extend and develop the propaganda and ideas of Leninism in England and the colonies.

It also says that 'British workmen' have 'inclinations to compromise' and that rapprochement will eventually lead to domestic '[a]rmed warfare'. It was leaked by the services to the Conservative party and then to the media. Richard Norton-Taylor (1999) 'Zinoviev letter was dirty trick by MI6' Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/politics/1999/feb/04/uk.politicalnews6 and Louise Jury (1999) 'Official Zinoviev letter was forged' Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/official-zinoviev-letter-was-forged-1068600.html . For media coverage at the time, see James Curran and Jean Seaton (1997) Power without Responsibility London: Routledge, p. 52.

[v] Paul F. Walker (2017) 'A Century of Chemical Warfare: Building a World Free of Chemical Weapons' Conference: One Hundred Years of Chemical Warfare: Research, Deployment, Consequences pp. 379-400 and Giles Milton (2013) Russian Roulette: A Deadly Game: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global Plot London: Hodder, eBook.

[vi] 'The Russian Federation has shown repeatedly that common values play almost no role in its consideration of its trading partners', meaning the US and EU. 'It often builds relationships with countries that most openly thwart Western values of free markets and democracy', notably Iran and Venezuela. 'In this regard, the Russian Federation behaves like "Russia Incorporated." It uses its re-nationalized industries to further its wealth and influence, the latter often at the expense of the EU and the U.S.'. Colonel Richard J. Anderson (2008) 'A History of President Putin's Campaign to Re-Nationalize Industry and the Implications for Russian Reform and Foreign Policy' Senior Service College, US Army War College, Pennsylvania: Carlisle Barracks, p. 52.

[vii] Daniel R. Coats (2017) Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Washington, DC: Office of the Director of

National Intelligence, pp. 18-19 https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/Newsroom/Testimonies/SSCI%20Unclassified%20SFR%20-%20Final.pdf .

[viii] US Space Command (1997) Vision for 2020 Colorado: Peterson Air Force Base https://ia802705.us.archive.org/10/items/pdfy-j6U3MFw1cGmC-yob/U.S.%20Space%20Command%20Vision%20For%202020.pdf .

[ix] The document also says: 'a replay of the West-sponsored coup against pro-Russian elites could result in a split, or indeed multiple splits, of the failed Ukraine, which would open a door for NATO intervention'.Pavel K. Baev (2011) 'Russia's security relations with the United States: Futures planned and unplanned' in Stephen J. Blank (ed.) Russian Nuclear Weapons: Past, Present, and Future Strategic Studies Institute Pennsylvania: Carlisle Barracks, p. 170, www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB1087.pdf.

[x] Forces Network (2016) 'British troops to deploy to Poland' https://www.forces.net/news/tri-service/british-troops-deploy-poland .

[xi] For example, Nate Jones, Thomas Blanton and Christian F. Ostermann (2016) 'Able Archer 83: The Secret History' Nuclear Proliferation International History Project Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/able-archer-83-the-secret-history .

[xii] It was reported in the ultra-right, neo-con press at the time that:

[Russian] President Dmitri Medvedev announced in his first state-of-the-nation address plans to deploy the short-range SS-26 ("Iskander") missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad if the U.S. goes ahead with its European Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). Medvedev told parliament that the deployment would "neutralize" U.S. plans for a missile defense shield based in Poland and the Czech Republic [now in Romania), which the U.S. claims as vital in defending against missile attacks from 'rogue states' such as Iran.

Neil Leslie (2008) 'The Kaliningrad Missile Crisis' The New Atlanticist , available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/the-kaliningrad-missile-crisis.

[xiii] For example, a Parliamentary inquiry into British-Russian relations says of the newly-imposed US-British ally in Ukraine:

President Poroshenko's Government is more openly committed to economic reform and anti-corruption than any previous Ukrainian Administration. The reform agenda has made considerable progress and has enjoyed some successes including police reform, liberalisation of the energy market and the launch of an online platform for government procurement

The annexation of Crimea also resulted in a ban on importing products from Crimea, on investing in or providing services linked to tourism and on exporting certain goods for use in the transport, telecoms and energy sectors.

House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (2017) The United Kingdom's relations with Russia Seventh report of session 2016-17, HC 120 London: Stationary Office, pp. 28, 31 https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmfaff/120/120.pdf

[Nov 04, 2018] The U.S. Cannot Win Militarily In Afghanistan, Says Top Commander In Shocking Interview

Nov 04, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Historians of the now seventeen-year old U.S. war in Afghanistan will take note of this past week when the newly-appointed American general in charge of US and NATO operations in the country made a bombshell, historic admission. He conceded that the United States cannot win in Afghanistan .

Speaking to NBC News last week, Gen. Austin Scott Miller made his first public statements after taking charge of American operations, and shocked with his frank assessment that that the Afghan war cannot be won militarily and peace will only be achieved through direct engagement and negotiations with the Taliban -- the very terror group which US forces sought to defeat when it first invaded in 2001.

"This is not going to be won militarily," Gen. Miller said. "This is going to a political solution."

Gen. Austin Scott Miller, the U.S. commander of resolute support, via EPA/NBC

Miller explained to NBC :

My assessment is the Taliban also realizes they cannot win militarily. So if you realize you can't win militarily at some point, fighting is just, people start asking why. So you do not necessarily wait us out, but I think now is the time to start working through the political piece of this conflict.

He gave the interview from the Resolute Support headquarters building in Kabul. "We are more in an offensive mindset and don't wait for the Taliban to come and hit [us]," he said. "So that was an adjustment that we made early on. We needed to because of the amount of casualties that were being absorbed."

Starting last summer it was revealed that US State Department officials began meeting with Taliban leaders in Qatar to discuss local and regional ceasefires and an end to the war . It was reported at the time that the request of the Taliban, the US-backed Afghan government was not invited; however, there doesn't appear to have been any significant fruit out of the talks as the Taliban now controls more territory than ever before in recent years .

Such controversial and shaky negotiations come as in total the United States has spent well over $840 billion fighting the Taliban insurgency while also paying for relief and reconstruction in a seventeen-year long war that has become more expensive, in current dollars, than the Marshall Plan , which was the reconstruction effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.

Even the New York Times recently chronicled the flat out deception of official Pentagon statements vs. the reality in terms of the massive spending that has gone into the now-approaching two decade long "endless war" which began in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

Via NYT report

As of September of this year the situation was as bleak as it's ever been after over a decade-and-a-half of America's longest running war, per the NYT's numbers :

But since 2017, the Taliban have held more Afghan territory than at any time since the American invasion . In just one week last month, the insurgents killed 200 Afghan police officers and soldiers, overrunning two major Afghan bases and the city of Ghazni.

The American military says the Afghan government effectively "controls or influences" 56 percent of the country. But that assessment relies on statistical sleight of hand . In many districts, the Afghan government controls only the district headquarters and military barracks, while the Taliban control the rest .

For this reason Gen. Miller spoke to NBC of an optimal "political outcome" instead of "winning" -- the latter being a term rarely if ever used by Pentagon and officials and congressional leaders over the past years.

Miller told NBC : "I naturally feel compelled to try to set the conditions for a political outcome. So, pressure from that standpoint, yes. I don't want everyone to think this is forever."

And ending on a bleak note in terms of the "save face" and "cut and run" nature of the U.S. future engagement in Afghanistan, Gen. Miller concluded, "This is my last assignment as a soldier in Afghanistan. I don't think they'll send me back here in another grade. When I leave this time I'd like to see peace and some level of unity as we go forward."

Interestingly, the top US and NATO commander can now only speak in remotely hopeful terms of "some level of unity" -- perhaps just enough to make a swift exit at least. Tags War Conflict Politics

play_arrow Reply Report

God is The Son , 3 minutes ago link

There not going to come out as say, where here because we want BOMB IRAN a few years down the track and maintain US Military deployment for Israel's long-term interests. Israel are suspected of committing 9/11 attacks, if you think about it long term policy of expansion, getting ride of its surrounding threats it's all makes sense. scraficing 3000 americans for Israel's longterm policy's seems to be the pill they were willing to swallow.

R19 , 5 minutes ago link

We spent a lot of money, killed people, and protected and served the **** out of a lot. That is the win that the elite are looking for.

God is The Son , 6 minutes ago link

Prorably remain there because of Zionist Influence in order to get IRAN sooner or later.

veritas semper vinces , 10 minutes ago link

US already lost the war there too.

The Talibans control the country.

US is trying to shift the blame on Russia, as the Talibans went to Moscow for peace talks.

And with Pakistan aligning with Russia/China and Iran ( Pakistan being the main supply route for the US army in Afghanistan), the US army is practically f*cked.

So, this is a face saving movement.

cheoll , 14 minutes ago link

Israhell wants the US bogged down in the Middle East

in order to destroy it, so Apartheid Israhell can become

the regional superpower .

veritas semper vinces , 21 minutes ago link

I just published a caricature of top US generals, including Mattis.

A lot of work , but worth it.

next : Soros, Adelson, Rockefeller and Rothschild.

This is going to take 3-4 days.


https://veritassempervincitscaricaturesdrawings.wordpress.com/

Bricker , 22 minutes ago link

This aint going over well with Trump. not W-W-W-winning?

Tirion , 33 minutes ago link

Good to know that Trump is not prepared to continue to protect Deep State opium production at the taxpayers' expense. I hope he's planning to withdraw US armed forces from all foreign soil.

JuliaS , 26 minutes ago link

Based on what? What did he stop? Which wars did he pull out out of?

Military was a huge contributor to his votes. He's not going to lift a finger. He would have started by pardoning Snowden, or closing Gitmo - something Obama lied about when making campaign promises. Where, here is your chance, Donald. Do at least one single thing that shows you as anything other that a MIC puppet. Just one thing! Anything!

Bombing Syria? Yep. Blind eye to Saudi crimes in Yemen? Yep. Dancing to Zionist demands? Yep.

Trade wars? Oh sure, those things never lead to military conflict either!

Push , 31 minutes ago link

The only reason we were in Afghanistan in the first place was to protect the heroin trade from acquisition by the Taliban. It's time to pull out and let the British protect their poppy fields if they want em that badly.

Push , 28 minutes ago link

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

Push , 19 minutes ago link

Notice that Rivera says the Marines just had a visit from Prince Charles. If you want to know more about why we have so much heroin in America now and who benefits.. read Dope Inc.

navy62802 , 42 minutes ago link

Stunning NeoCon victory ... almost 20 years later. This is why I am frightened that John Bolton still has a voice in government.

algol_dog , 47 minutes ago link

It's not about winning. It's about perpetuating a never ending need for defensive tax dollars.

Tirion , 21 minutes ago link

Not tax dollars, Deep State dollars from the sale of opium to fund black projects.

[Nov 01, 2018] Ukraine s depopulation crisis by Jason Melanovski

This is the net result of neoliberalism enforced debt slavery for the country. And there is no chances for Ukrainians to climb back from this debt hole.
Notable quotes:
"... Ukraine's SSS has acknowledged that so far this year, the population has already decreased by 122,000. ..."
"... While the country's low birth rate of approximately 1 birth for 1.5 deaths is a contributing factor to the country's depopulation, emigration is by far the biggest factor. ..."
"... Between 2002 and 2017, an estimated 6.3 million Ukrainians emigrated with no plans to return. ..."
"... Through 2015 and 2017, as a result of the ongoing war in the Donbass region and the plunging value of the Ukrainian hryvnia, migration increased notably: 507,000 people went to Poland; 147,000 to Italy; 122,000 to the Czech Republic; 23,000 to the United States; and 365,000 to Russia or Belarus. ..."
"... The easing of visa-free travel by the European Union (EU) in September 2017 only increased the flow of Ukrainians to countries such as Poland, which is facing its own demographic crisis and in need of workers. In 2018 alone, more than 3 million Ukrainians applied for passports that would allow them to work in Poland. Poland is the only EU country that allows Ukrainians to obtain seasonal work visas with just a passport. Ukrainians have received 81.7% of all work visas issued in Poland this year. ..."
"... Between 1 and 2 million Ukrainian workers now reside in Poland, where they are often forced to take jobs "under the table," are easily exploited by employers, and work in dangerous conditions. Many Ukrainian laborers are recruited to Poland by scam offers of employment, only to then find themselves stranded and forced to work for whatever wage they can get. ..."
"... While Russia is constantly demonized in the Ukrainian and Western press as the eternal enemy of Ukraine, 2 million Ukrainian citizens now live or work in Russia. According to Olga Kirilova, between 2014 and 2017, 312,000 Ukrainians were granted Russian citizenship and Ukrainians make up the vast majority of immigrants to Russia. ..."
"... The migration of Ukrainian workers abroad has reached such a level that remittances from migrants now constitute 3 to 4 percent of the country's GDP. They exceed the amount of foreign investment in Ukraine. Nonetheless, such transfers are not nearly enough to make up for the negative impact of the currency's falling value, inflation, and the disappearance of skilled workers. ..."
"... The Ukrainian ruling class acknowledges that the country is in serious trouble. "One of the main risks of the current scenario is the continuation of the outflow of labor from Ukraine, which will create a further increase in the imbalance between demand and supply in the labor market," noted a report from the country's national bank. ..."
"... The Corrupt, extreme right wing government of Poroshenko, that has driven large proportions of the Ukrainian population into poverty and despair has only been able to take power and remain I office thanks to US imperialism and Angela Merkel's scheming and regime change program. ..."
"... Popular support for the "maidan" in the Ukraine was based on misleading and dishonest claims by pro EU and Pro US opportunistic political operators that such "regime change" would lead to total integration with Europe and open borders.... ..."
"... One of the most horrific consequences of the dismantling of the Soviet Union was the explosion of sex trafficking and very large numbers of Ukrainian women were caught up in this horrific exploitation and continue to be. ..."
"... Oh the benefits of US installed dictatorships. ..."
"... "Welcome to Europe, Ukraine. Here are your rubber gloves and toilet cleaning brush. Oh, you're a young woman? The red light district is three blocks that way". ..."
"... In Baltic states after being "freed from communism and Soviet occupation" the population decline is also very prominent, the same reasons as in Ukraine too. ..."
Nov 01, 2018 | www.wsws.org

As fascist far-right nationalist groups regularly parade through the country demanding "Ukraine for Ukrainians," Ukraine faces a massive depopulation crisis. Millions of people of all ethnicities are leaving the country, fleeing poverty and war.

Since the restoration of capitalism in 1991, the overall population of Ukraine has declined from just over 52 million to approximately 42 million today, a decrease of nearly 20 percent. If the separatist-controlled provinces of the Donbass region and Crimea are excluded, it is estimated that just 35 million people now live in the area controlled by the government of Petro Porosehnko.

Ukrainian governments, including the current one, have been loath to carry out an official census, as it is widely believed that the population estimates reported by the country's State Statistics Service (SSS) are inflated by including deceased individuals. One aim of this is to rig elections. An official country-wide census has not been held since 2001. In late 2015, the Poroshenko government postponed the 2016 census until 2020.

Despite the lack of reliable official numbers, all independent reports point to a sharp reduction in the population. According to Ukraine's Institute of Demography at the Academy of Sciences, by 2050 only 32 million people will live in the country. The World Health Organization has estimated that the population of the country will drop even further, to just 30 million people.

Ukraine's SSS has acknowledged that so far this year, the population has already decreased by 122,000.

Such data are a testament to the monumental failure of capitalism to provide a standard of living that matches, much less exceeds, that which existed during the Soviet period over 25 years ago.

While the country's low birth rate of approximately 1 birth for 1.5 deaths is a contributing factor to the country's depopulation, emigration is by far the biggest factor.

Between 2002 and 2017, an estimated 6.3 million Ukrainians emigrated with no plans to return.

Facing poor employment prospects, deteriorating social and medical services, marauding far-right gangs, and the ever-present prospect of a full-scale war with Russia, Ukrainian workers are fleeing the country in great numbers, either permanently or as temporary labor migrants.

According to a report from the Center for Economic Strategy (CES), almost 4 million people, or up to 16% of the working-age population, are labor migrants. Despite having Ukrainian citizenship and still technically living in Ukraine, they actually reside and work elsewhere. Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has put the number of Ukrainian migrant workers even higher, at 5 million.

Through 2015 and 2017, as a result of the ongoing war in the Donbass region and the plunging value of the Ukrainian hryvnia, migration increased notably: 507,000 people went to Poland; 147,000 to Italy; 122,000 to the Czech Republic; 23,000 to the United States; and 365,000 to Russia or Belarus.

The easing of visa-free travel by the European Union (EU) in September 2017 only increased the flow of Ukrainians to countries such as Poland, which is facing its own demographic crisis and in need of workers. In 2018 alone, more than 3 million Ukrainians applied for passports that would allow them to work in Poland. Poland is the only EU country that allows Ukrainians to obtain seasonal work visas with just a passport. Ukrainians have received 81.7% of all work visas issued in Poland this year.

Between 1 and 2 million Ukrainian workers now reside in Poland, where they are often forced to take jobs "under the table," are easily exploited by employers, and work in dangerous conditions. Many Ukrainian laborers are recruited to Poland by scam offers of employment, only to then find themselves stranded and forced to work for whatever wage they can get.

While migrant workers in Poland are constantly subjected to anti-immigrant rhetoric from the right-wing PiS government in Warsaw, the Polish state classifies Ukrainian laborers as "refugees" in order to comply with EU quotas and reject refugees from Syria and elsewhere.

According to polls of Ukrainian migrants in Poland, over half are planning to move to Germany if the labor market there is ever open to them.

While Russia is constantly demonized in the Ukrainian and Western press as the eternal enemy of Ukraine, 2 million Ukrainian citizens now live or work in Russia. According to Olga Kirilova, between 2014 and 2017, 312,000 Ukrainians were granted Russian citizenship and Ukrainians make up the vast majority of immigrants to Russia.

The dearth of a working-age population in Ukraine is putting further strain on an already struggling pension system. According to Ukraine's SSS, as a result of widespread labor migration, only 17.8 million out of 42 million Ukrainians are economically active and paying into the pension system.

The migration of Ukrainian workers abroad has reached such a level that remittances from migrants now constitute 3 to 4 percent of the country's GDP. They exceed the amount of foreign investment in Ukraine. Nonetheless, such transfers are not nearly enough to make up for the negative impact of the currency's falling value, inflation, and the disappearance of skilled workers.

The Ukrainian ruling class acknowledges that the country is in serious trouble. "One of the main risks of the current scenario is the continuation of the outflow of labor from Ukraine, which will create a further increase in the imbalance between demand and supply in the labor market," noted a report from the country's national bank.

However, the government can do nothing to slow the mass emigration, as it is thoroughly under the control of international finance capital and committed to implementing the austerity programs demanded by Western states and banks.

Despite assurances from the Poroshenko regime that the economy will improve, the emigration and emptying of the country shows no signs of slowing.


John Upton • 5 hours ago

The Corrupt, extreme right wing government of Poroshenko, that has driven large proportions of the Ukrainian population into poverty and despair has only been able to take power and remain I office thanks to US imperialism and Angela Merkel's scheming and regime change program.

Without the working class intervening the only ones remaining in Ukraine will be those unable to leave and those that have their noses in the trough.

Kalen7 hours ago
Another excellent report of decaying of artificial entity of Ukraine (and capitalism specializes in collapsing societies) that never even existed before 1992 in European history and was resurrected ( from brief self declared by Bandera racist state status in 1941) and funded by Germany, Canada and US only to nurture their Fascist and actual Nazi traditions starting from Doncov to Bandera terror of hundreds of thousands dead 1941-1948 of OUN-B, UPA and Ukrainian SS, all against Russia, as Ukrainian "Country" was and is used as a Trojan horse to push Putin to submit to the west even more than he does now.

Pain and suffering of Ukrainian people is enormous as only 5% of population of Ukrainian Nazi thugs terrorist nation like like Hitler street thugs in 1932-1934. It is tragedy that capitalism instigated, exasperated and augmented and should be a lesson for the left what nationalism does, divides working class that was rendered powerless in Ukraine as Ukrainian industry tied to Russia collapsed and forces massive migration and de-cohesion of communities, divisions of working class and eradication of any real leftist leadership via murder, intimidation and exile.

Just a note. All that anti Russia hoopla after 2014 and ensuing NATO belligerence and warmongering and sanctions all were focused on so called annexation of Crimea to Russia which was nothing but reunification of land under control of Russia since 1754.

I was shocked watching an episode of Columbo, crime series in 1970s when one of characters proudly referred to California joining in US 1845 as annexation from Mexico, with no shame or condemnation like hinting that it was international aggression of US as Alta California was never part of US before that.

Well, it was before 1984 and Orwellian newspeak.

Note that Crimea remained autonomous region, not a part of Russia but part of Russian Federation.

solerso8 hours ago
Popular support for the "maidan" in the Ukraine was based on misleading and dishonest claims by pro EU and Pro US opportunistic political operators that such "regime change" would lead to total integration with Europe and open borders.... That would have allowed (so the misconception went) Ukrainians to flee the country much more openly with less red tape and hassle at the borders. So, far from being politically or ideologically supportive of Europe or the US or opportunist/nationalist Ukrainian politicians, the vast majority of Ukrainians only wanted to be allowed to flee, as they experience it, a social shipwreck
Charles8 hours ago
One of the most horrific consequences of the dismantling of the Soviet Union was the explosion of sex trafficking and very large numbers of Ukrainian women were caught up in this horrific exploitation and continue to be.
John Upton • 9 hours ago
Victoria Newland and Geoffrey Pyatt, both US officials, were recorded at the time of the right wing and fascist led coup that overthrew Russian backed Yanakovic, boasting that Washington had poured $5 billion into Ukraine ensuring that their man, an ex World Bank executive, was elected.

Since then the most rabid anti working class/ anti Russian governments have ruled the roost. Only those unable to flee this hell- hole and those whose snout is in the trough will soon be left there. Oh the benefits of US installed dictatorships.

Warren Duzak13 hours ago
In addition to emigration, Ukraine's decreasing population is a result of a higher infant mortality rate than surrounding countries. High infant mortality rates always indicate economic and social stress.
According to The World Bank 2017 figures for infant mortality in that region, the rate per 1,000 births in Ukraine is 7.5 compared to the following rates in surrounding countries:
Poland - 4.0
Romania - 6.6
Russia - 6.5
Belarus - 2.8
Hungary -3.8
Slovak Republic - 4.6
Only poor Moldova is higher at 13.3
Terry Lawrence15 hours ago
Kinda shot themselves in the foot with their "Revolution of Dignity" fascist coup. "Welcome to Europe, Ukraine. Here are your rubber gloves and toilet cleaning brush. Oh, you're a young woman? The red light district is three blocks that way".

Life in Crimea must be looking pretty good to them now.

Richard Mod • 16 hours ago
including the deceased in the population statistics brings to mind Gogol's "Dead Souls"!
erika16 hours ago
This is an important update on developments in the Ukraine.
Raycomeau17 hours ago
The puppet of the USA, Poroshenko , needs to go, and the USA should get the hell out of the Ukraine plus NATO has no business being on the borders of Russia. This is all the fault of the USA, And, the current immigration problem world wide is because the USA bombs countries eviscerating them yet the USA refuses to admit refugees which are fleeing from the USA wars.
Terry Lawrence Raycomeau5 hours ago
NATO has no business even existing, Ray.
manchegauche18 hours ago
Very illuminating article - great topic to choose. NIce one
лидия19 hours ago
In Baltic states after being "freed from communism and Soviet occupation" the population decline is also very prominent, the same reasons as in Ukraine too.
Human6 лидия5 hours ago
These same right-wing, fascist Ukrainian Banderovitzes love to yell and scream about the bogus "Holodomor" hoax (which has been debunked by serious scholars such as Pers Anders Rudling, and others, as well as Thottle). They falsely claim that the USSR tried to "depopulate" Ukrainians, when they are the ones who have depopulated Ukraine.

They are such shameless, low down, dirty liars.

[Oct 27, 2018] Trump Came This Close to Getting Afghanistan Right by Daniel L. Davis

Trump may have his own views, but he has no own foreign policy. He is a neocon's marionette.
Notable quotes:
"... Instead Bush, and later Obama, transitioned the military mission -- without consultation from Congress -- into a nation-building effort that was doomed from the start. Candidate Donald Trump spoke of a different approach to the Middle East and railed against nation-building abroad. His instincts on Afghanistan have been consistent and correct from very early on. Had it not been for the relentless pressure of several key officials, the war might already have come to end. ..."
"... Woodward wrote ..."
"... Trump defers to the Pentagon because he doesn't really care. He says he wants to get out of Afghanistan (and I support that) but getting out isn't going to make him any money, or get him any votes. So why bother with it, especially when he can lie to his base and tell them we are already out, and they'll believe him? ..."
"... Trump is the kind of person who likes to "talk the talk" but when comes right down to it, he going to sadly, "walk the walk" that the Washington establishment tells him to walk. ..."
"... The treasonous MIC and those top generals do not care about the nation and ordinary Americans. They care only about their profits, careers and their own egos. ..."
"... There is no war they don't like – Middle East, checked, Ukraine, yes, South China Sea, sure, Korea, definitely. It is so sad that Trump turns out to be such a weak and impotent president, contrary to what the supporters claim. ..."
Oct 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
In a routine dating back to 2004, U.S. officials regularly claim that the latest strategy in Afghanistan is working -- or as General David Petraeus said in 2012 , the war had "turned a corner." It hadn't and it still hasn't. In fact, evidence overwhelmingly affirms that the newest "new" strategy will be no more effective than those that came before it. It is time to stop losing U.S. lives while pretending that victory is just around the corner. It is time to end the war in Afghanistan.

Last week, one of the most brazen insider attacks of the war took place in Kandahar when one of the Afghanistan governor's bodyguards turned rogue, killing three high-profile Afghan leaders and wounding the senior U.S. field commander, Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley. Miraculously, the new commander, General Scott Miller, escaped harm. But in 2018, eight Americans have been killed in Afghanistan, bringing the American death toll to 2,351 .

On October 7, 2001, President George W. Bush addressed the nation as combat operations in Afghanistan began. He emphasized that the American "mission is defined. The objectives are clear. [Our] goal is just." Those objectives, he explained , were "targeted actions" that were "designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime."

By the summer of 2002, those objectives were fully met as the Taliban organization was wholly destroyed and al-Qaeda severely degraded. As of 2009, there were reportedly as few as 100 stragglers scattered impotently throughout Afghanistan. The military mission should therefore have ended and combat forces redeployed.

Instead Bush, and later Obama, transitioned the military mission -- without consultation from Congress -- into a nation-building effort that was doomed from the start. Candidate Donald Trump spoke of a different approach to the Middle East and railed against nation-building abroad. His instincts on Afghanistan have been consistent and correct from very early on. Had it not been for the relentless pressure of several key officials, the war might already have come to end.

After a December 2015 insider attack, Trump tweeted : "A suicide bomber has just killed U.S. troops in Afghanistan. When will our leaders get tough and smart. We are being led to slaughter!" According to Bob Woodward's book Fear , Trump brought that same passion against the futility of the Afghan war into the White House.

Woodward wrote that at an August 2017 meeting on Afghanistan, Trump told his generals that the war had been "a disaster," and chided them for "wanting to add even more troops to something I don't believe in."

Woodward claims that Trump then told the top brass, "I was against this from the beginning. He folded his arms. 'I want to get out,' the president said. 'And you're telling me the answer is to get deeper in.'" Under pressure -- from the likes of Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Senator Lindsey Graham -- Trump eventually gave in.

America's Disastrous Occupation of Afghanistan Turns 17 Time to Talk to the Taliban

Events have since proven that Trump would have done the country a favor by resisting that pressure and sticking to his instincts to end the war. The violence keeps up at a record pace, civilian casualties continue to set all-time highs , and Afghan troops struggle mightily with battle losses. The president was right in August 2017 and his instincts remain solid today.

The longer Trump continues to defer to the establishment thinking that produced 17 consecutive years of military failure, the longer that failure will afflict us, the more casualties we will suffer unnecessarily, and the more money we will pour down the drain.

It is time for Trump to remember that it is futile to try to win the unwinnable and finally end America's longest war.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after 21 years, including four combat deployments, two of which were in Afghanistan.


One Guy October 25, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Trump defers to the Pentagon because he doesn't really care. He says he wants to get out of Afghanistan (and I support that) but getting out isn't going to make him any money, or get him any votes. So why bother with it, especially when he can lie to his base and tell them we are already out, and they'll believe him?
Fred Bowman , says: October 25, 2018 at 3:10 pm
Trump is the kind of person who likes to "talk the talk" but when comes right down to it, he going to sadly, "walk the walk" that the Washington establishment tells him to walk.
david , says: October 25, 2018 at 3:45 pm
The treasonous MIC and those top generals do not care about the nation and ordinary Americans. They care only about their profits, careers and their own egos.

There is no war they don't like – Middle East, checked, Ukraine, yes, South China Sea, sure, Korea, definitely. It is so sad that Trump turns out to be such a weak and impotent president, contrary to what the supporters claim.

SDS , says: October 25, 2018 at 3:48 pm
I think a lot of us could have tolerated the asinine antics if he had stuck to his campaign positions on this and other things . God; what might have been .
One Guy , says: October 25, 2018 at 4:13 pm
SDS, you are correct. I've often thought that Trump could have forged a majority coalition by doing things the People really wanted, or at least didn't hate: nominating another Gorsuch, cutting the size of government, appointing competent people, getting out of the Middle East, no tariffs, less racism, getting concession from businesses that benefited from the tax cut, following emoluments rules, etc. etc.
JeffK , says: October 25, 2018 at 4:37 pm
@SDS
October 25, 2018 at 3:48 pm

"I think a lot of us could have tolerated the asinine antics if he had stuck to his campaign positions on this and other things . God; what might have been ."

First, sorry you fell for The Con. I understand. Maybe. Second, the real question is, "What are you going to do about it?". Vote Republican Nov 6? Why would you do that? Hope against all hope? Dementia? Gluttony for punishment? BTW. HRC is not on the ballot this time, and will never be again.

EliteCommInc. , says: October 25, 2018 at 6:49 pm
Unless we intend to invade en mass, and scour the country from one end to the other to defeat any and all opponents, the mission in Afghanistan will remain what it is. "new wine (of sorts) in old wineskins.

If we are going to remake a country -- we had better remake it. I am not sure i have ever said this before but the entire affair

was unnecessary and unwise from the start.

kalendjay , says: October 25, 2018 at 6:52 pm
We hear Pakistan is now desperate for IMF aid. That the One belt One Road initiative there by China has already put the country in the position of having to stand down its creditor, China. Partly with the help of Japanese finance, Iran and India are out to squeeze Islamabad out of world trade.

The Pakis are headed into a new dark age, so don't expect the Russians to bark wildly and chase down this car. With any luck, they and China will revive the Northern Alliance, make a garrison of Kabul, and eventually Xi and Vladi will have their own escalating civil war over control over Central Asia.

I'd say January 2019 is a good time to begin a quick US withdrawal, just as long as we pull out of the IMF and not give another red American cent to the region, save a green zone around Kabul with economically productive areas.

I would argue that although this would seem like an American loss, it will put our Progressive yappers to shame. What human values would they stand up and defend now, among the IndoPak Caravan? Maybe then we'll really focus on our own border and wage the good fight where it is needed -- the Culture War.

Balderdash , says: October 26, 2018 at 3:06 am
Obama had intended to leave. The military insisted on vict'ry and another Surge. He gave them their Surge and their time to do it. They failed, made things worse and prevented Obama from leaving. They're still playing. Trump's just the latest Oval Office 'sucker'.
Sid Finster , says: October 26, 2018 at 10:02 am
One more example of how Trump is weak, stupid, ill-informed and easily manipulated.
Scob , says: October 26, 2018 at 10:50 am
Afghanistan borders Iran, do you really need to say more?

[Oct 20, 2018] According to Global Wealth Report by the personal wealth of the population Ukraine is in the 123rd place (out of 140 countries ranked).

Oct 20, 2018 | www.unz.com

AP says: October 18, 2018 at 9:58 pm GMT 100 Words @Gerard2

This months gas tariff for "Ukrainians" increases by 24%!!

The context is that Ukrainian consumers have the lowest gas rate in Europe. Moldovan households pay more for gas than do Ukrainian ones. Even with a 24% price increase Ukraine will still have the cheapest gas in Europe for its consumers:

https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Natural_gas_price_statistics

AP says: October 19, 2018 at 12:46 am GMT @Gerard2

The price increase will go past 40% in May

Which will make gas prices for Ukrainian consumers more or less tied with those in Moldova as the cheapest in Europe.

For whatever reason IMF wanted Ukrainian consumers not be subsidized as much as they have been.

AnonFromTN , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:51 pm GMT

@Anon According to Global Wealth Report ( https://www.credit-suisse.com/corporate/en/articles/news-and-expertise/global-wealth-report-2018-us-and-china-in-the-lead-201810.html ), by the personal wealth of the population Ukraine is in the 123rd place (out of 140 countries ranked).
By this measure Ukraine is behind Nepal, Cameroon, Kenia, Bangladesh, and Lesotho, just ahead of Zambia. But there are 135 people in Ukraine with personal wealth greater than $50 million.

A huge line for free food at the charity kitchen in Kiev can be seen here: http://rusvesna.su/news/1539952343 (those who read Russian can find details in the accompanying news item).

I guess all of this is a great achievement of Maidan. Ukies, please comment.

[Oct 19, 2018] For the $TRILLIONS hoovered up by Deep State and their war profiteering minions, we could have put every Afghan male of military age through Harvard Business School.

Oct 19, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

b , Oct 18, 2018 9:28:57 AM | link

The governor General Abdul Raziq, the police chief and the intelligence chief of Kandahar have all been killed today. Bodyguards turned their guns on them. Two U.S. soldiers were wounded. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan was present but not hurt.

Raziq was a brut, thief, killer, drug baron and the CIA's man in Kandahar.

In 2011 Matthieu Atkins portrait him: Our Man in Kandahar
Abdul Raziq and his men have received millions of dollars' worth of U.S. training and equipment to help in the fight against the Taliban. But is our ally -- long alleged to be involved in corruption and drug smuggling -- also guilty of mass murder?


Anton Worter , Oct 18, 2018 10:05:07 AM | link

b

Been there. Done that. Kandahar is beautiful.

The United States, specifically Cheney and Petraeus and Rodham, imposed the Imperial Executor form of Federalist government upon a people who were a well-organized heirarchical society while William the Conqueror was still head chopping Anglo-Saxons in bear skins.

Cheny wrote the Afghan petroleum and strategic resources laws *in English* at the beginning of the 2001 invasion. The US imposed a new flag, a new pledge of allegiance, a new national song and even a new national currency on the Afghan people, then imposed the first imperial caesar, Karzai.

You break it, you own it!

For the $TRILLIONS hoovered up by Deep State and their war profiteering minions, we could have put every Afghan male of military age through Harvard Business School.

On to Tehran!! Lu,lu,lu,lu,lu!

Anton Worter , Oct 18, 2018 2:36:09 PM | link
12

Cheney, Petraeus and Rodham ALSO created the Federal Republican Guard ANA and ANP, goombahs, renegade hijackers and shakedown artists who, like those same ANA/ANP 'personal guards' mentioned in b's article, assassinated the governor and the others. And umm, yes, I've been on the muzzle end of those ANA/ANP thugs in an attempted kidnapping, so been there, done that.

AFA Russ' defense of William the Conqueror as some 'high point' of a Western Civilization of Red Haired Yettis, they were still head-chopping each other in England while Afghanistan ruled from East Persia to Western India, an advanced civilization far more ancient than Anglo-Saxon bearskin cave dwelling knuckle draggers, at the time.

Of course, now today we have the White Scientocratic Triumphal Exceptionalist Civilization and its Miracle of the Two Planes and Three Towers to prove it, even if Johnny and Jillian can't read, write or do their ciphers.

[Sep 16, 2018] Ending the Secrecy of the Student Debt Crisis

Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes.
Notable quotes:
"... Because of the loans' disgracefully high interest rates, my family and I have paid more or less the equivalent of my debt itself in the years since I graduated, making monthly payments in good faith -- even in times of unemployment and extreme duress -- to lenders like Citigroup, a bank that was among the largest recipients of federal bailout money in 2008 and that eventually sold off my debt to other lenders. This ruinous struggle has been essentially meaningless: I now owe more than what I started out owing, not unlike my parents with their mortgage . ..."
"... By Daniela Senderowicz. Originally published in Yes! Magazine ..."
"... Activists are building meaningful connections among borrowers to counter the taboo of admitting they can't pay their bills. ..."
"... Gamblers and reality TV stars can claim bankruptcy protections when in financial trouble, but 44 million student loan borrowers can't. Unemployed, underpaid, destitute, sick, or struggling borrowers simply aren't able to start anew. ..."
"... With a default rate approaching 40 percent , one would expect armies of distressed borrowers marching in the streets demanding relief from a system that has singled out their financial anguish. Distressed student debtors, however, seem to be terror-struck about coming forward to a society that, they say, ostracizes them for their inability to keep up with their finances. ..."
"... When we spoke to several student borrowers, almost none were willing to share their names. "I can't tell anyone how much I'm struggling," says a 39-year-old Oregon physician who went into student loan default after his wife's illness drained their finances. He is terrified of losing his patients and reputation if he speaks out about his financial problems. ..."
"... Debtors are isolated, anxious, and in the worst cases have taken their own lives . Simone confirms that she has "worked with debtors who were suicidal or had psychological breakdowns requiring psychiatric hospitalization." ..."
"... "Alienation impacts mental health issues," says New York mental health counselor Harriet Fraad. "As long as they blame themselves within the system, they're lost." ..."
"... A recent manifesto by activist and recent graduate Eli Campbell calls for radical unity among borrowers. "Young people live in constant fear that they'll never be able to pay off their debt. We're not buying houses or able to afford the hallmarks of the American dream," he explains. ..."
"... Do a little research on car selling and you will see the pressures on the dealer sales force to suck the vast majority of buyers into long term debt. Car loans are now five or six years, routinely. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This article describes how the stigma of struggling to pay student debt is a burden in and of itself. I wish this article had explained how little it take to trigger an escalation into default interest rates and how punitive they are. The piece also stresses the value of activism as a form of psychological relief, by connecting stressed student debt borrowers with people similarly afflicted.

But the bigger issue is the way indebtedness is demonized in a society that makes it pretty much impossible to avoid borrowing. One reader recounted how many (as in how few) weeks of after tax wages it took to buy a car in the 1960s versus now. Dealers don't want to talk to buyers who want to pay in full at the time of purchase. And if you don't have installment credit or a mortgage, the consumer credit agencies ding you!

It goes without saying that the sense of shame is harder to endure due to how shallow most people's social networks are, which is another product of neoliberalism.

In keeping, the New York Times today ran an op-ed by one of its editors on how student debtors are also victims of the crisis, reprinted from a longer piece in The Baffler (hat tip Dan K). Key sections :

Because of the loans' disgracefully high interest rates, my family and I have paid more or less the equivalent of my debt itself in the years since I graduated, making monthly payments in good faith -- even in times of unemployment and extreme duress -- to lenders like Citigroup, a bank that was among the largest recipients of federal bailout money in 2008 and that eventually sold off my debt to other lenders. This ruinous struggle has been essentially meaningless: I now owe more than what I started out owing, not unlike my parents with their mortgage .

Many people have and will continue to condemn me personally for my tremendous but unexceptional student debt, and the ways in which it has made the recession's effects linger for my family. I've spent quite a lot of time in the past decade accepting this blame. The recession may have compounded my family's economic insecurity, but I also made the conscious decision to take out loans for a college I couldn't afford in order to become a journalist, a profession with minimal financial returns. The amount of debt I owe in student loans -- about $100,000 -- is more than I make in a given year. I am ashamed and embarrassed by this, but as I grow older, I think it is time that those profiting from this country's broken economic system share some of my guilt

[At my commencement in 2009] Mrs. Clinton then echoed a fantasy of boundless opportunity that had helped guide the country into economic collapse, deceiving many of the parents in attendance, including my own, into borrowing toward a future that they couldn't work hard enough to afford. "There is no problem we face here in America or around the world that will not yield to human effort," she said. "Our challenges are ones that summon the best of us, and we will make the world better tomorrow than it is today." At the time, I wondered if this was accurate. I now know how wrong she was.

By Daniela Senderowicz. Originally published in Yes! Magazine

Activists are building meaningful connections among borrowers to counter the taboo of admitting they can't pay their bills.

Gamblers and reality TV stars can claim bankruptcy protections when in financial trouble, but 44 million student loan borrowers can't. Unemployed, underpaid, destitute, sick, or struggling borrowers simply aren't able to start anew.

With a default rate approaching 40 percent , one would expect armies of distressed borrowers marching in the streets demanding relief from a system that has singled out their financial anguish. Distressed student debtors, however, seem to be terror-struck about coming forward to a society that, they say, ostracizes them for their inability to keep up with their finances.

When we spoke to several student borrowers, almost none were willing to share their names. "I can't tell anyone how much I'm struggling," says a 39-year-old Oregon physician who went into student loan default after his wife's illness drained their finances. He is terrified of losing his patients and reputation if he speaks out about his financial problems.

"If I shared this with anyone they will look down upon me as some kind of fool," explains a North Carolina psychologist who is now beyond retirement age. He explains that his student debt balance soared after losing a well-paying position during the financial crisis, and that he is struggling to pay it back.

Financial shame alienates struggling borrowers. Debtors blame themselves and self-loathe when they can't make their payments, explains Colette Simone, a Michigan psychologist. "There is so much fear of sharing the reality of their financial situation and the devastation it is causing in every facet of their lives," she says. "The consequences of coming forward can result in social pushback and possible job -- related complications, which only deepen their suffering."

Debtors are isolated, anxious, and in the worst cases have taken their own lives . Simone confirms that she has "worked with debtors who were suicidal or had psychological breakdowns requiring psychiatric hospitalization."

With an average debt of just over $37,000 per borrower for the class of 2016 , and given that incomes have been flat since the 1970s , it's not surprising that borrowers are struggling to pay. Student loans have a squeaky-clean reputation, and society tends to view them as a noble symbol of the taxpayers' generosity to the working poor. Fear of facing society's ostracism for failure to pay them back has left borrowers alienated and trapped in a lending system that is engulfing them in debt bondage.

"Alienation impacts mental health issues," says New York mental health counselor Harriet Fraad. "As long as they blame themselves within the system, they're lost."

Student debtors can counter despair by fighting back through activism and political engagement, she says. "Connection is the antidote to alienation, and engaging in activism, along with therapy, is a way to recovery."

Despite the fear of coming forward, some activists are building a social movement in which meaningful connections among borrowers can counter the taboo of openly admitting financial ruin.

Student Loan Justice, a national grassroots lobby group, is attempting to build this movement by pushing for robust legislation to return bankruptcy protections to borrowers. The group has active chapters in almost every state, with members directly lobbying their local representatives to sign on as co-sponsors to HR 2366. Activists are building a supportive community for struggling borrowers through political agitation, local engagement, storytelling, and by spreading a courageous message of hope that may embolden traumatized borrowers to come forward and unite.

Julie Margetaa Morgan , a fellow at The Roosevelt Institute, recently noted that student debt servicers like Navient have a powerful influence on lawmakers. "Student loan borrowers may not have millions to spend on lobbying, but they have something equally, if not more, powerful: millions of voices," she says.

A recent manifesto by activist and recent graduate Eli Campbell calls for radical unity among borrowers. "Young people live in constant fear that they'll never be able to pay off their debt. We're not buying houses or able to afford the hallmarks of the American dream," he explains.

In his call for a unified national boycott of student loan payments, inevitably leading to a mass default on this debt, Campbell hopes to expose this crisis and instigate radical change. In a recent interview he explained that the conditions for borrowers are so bad already that debtors may not join the boycott willingly. Instead, participation may simply happen by default given the lack of proper work opportunities that lead to borrowers' inability to pay.

While a large-scale default may not happen through willful and supportive collective action, ending the secrecy of the crisis through massive national attention may destigmatize the shame of financial defeat and finally bring debtors out of the isolation that causes them so much despair.

Activists are calling for a significant conversation about the commodification of educating our youth, shifting our focus toward investing into the promise of the young and able, rather than the guarantee of their perpetual debt bondage. In calling for collective action they soothe the hurt of so many alienated debtors, breaking the taboos that allow them to say, "Me, too" and admit openly that in this financial climate we all need each other to move forward.


Jane , September 16, 2018 at 4:15 am

How much are the interest rates on student loans there in the USA? Here in India its 11.5% if you want to finance studies abroad. 8.5 for some select institutions.

JVR , September 16, 2018 at 5:36 am

I wonder if the media's obsession with "millenials" isn't primarily a way to try to divide people with shared interests, above all around the topics of student debt and the job market and to make the problems seem like they have shallower roots than they really do. The individuals mentioned here are older than that 24-37 age cohort, one of them much older.

Epistrophy , September 16, 2018 at 6:42 am

Dealers don't want to talk to buyers who want to pay in full at the time of purchase.

Yes Yes. Car manufacturers are actually finance houses selling products manufactured by subcontractors – such is the state of American industry – but their dream is to move to a SaaS model where ownership, of anything, becomes a relic of the past (except for the overlords and oligarchs).

This could not be possible without government corruption and revolving-door regulation. Maybe these PAYG vehicles will contain built-in body scanners too; for our own security, of course.

In his call for a unified national boycott of student loan payments, inevitably leading to a mass default on this debt, Campbell hopes to expose this crisis and instigate radical change.

Default, or radical change, would bring the economy to it's knees. But when there is another economic downturn, this is going to happen anyway. Terrible situation; negative real interest rates destroying the pensions of the elderly, student loan servitude destroying the youth and the middle class being squeezed to oblivion. What can be done to fix it, I ask?

Yet they are doing God's work, are they? Well, this is not a God I choose to worship.

JTMcPhee , September 16, 2018 at 8:33 am

Well good for you. How many cars, of what age, have you bought, for your anecdote to rate as anything vaguely resembling the wide reality, and how does your personal financial situation let you just write checks for $30 or $70,000?

Do a little research on car selling and you will see the pressures on the dealer sales force to suck the vast majority of buyers into long term debt. Car loans are now five or six years, routinely.

And one wonders what the investment is in trying to impeach the points of this report, wth such an unlikely and atypical claim.

UserFriendly , September 16, 2018 at 6:57 am

NYT ran the same story , interesting they edited out his total debt and major though.

JTMcPhee , September 16, 2018 at 8:39 am

Maybe a little traction, then, for the notion, and increasingly the inescapable reality, of #juststoppaying on those "remember Joe Biden" virtually non-dischargeable, often fraudulently induced, "student loan" debt shackles?

[Sep 07, 2018] Al Qaeda and the "War on Terrorism" by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Notable quotes:
"... Foreign Affairs, ..."
"... According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, [on] 24 December 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. ..."
"... We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire. ..."
"... What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War? ..."
Sep 07, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

The alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorists attacks, Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, was recruited during the Soviet-Afghan war, "ironically under the auspices of the CIA, to fight Soviet invaders".(Hugh Davies, "`Informers' point the finger at bin Laden; Washington on alert for suicide bombers." The Daily Telegraph, London, 24 August 1998).

In 1979 the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA was launched in Afghanistan:

"With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI, who wanted to turn the Afghan Jihad into a global war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and 1992. Tens of thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs. Eventually, more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghan jihad." (Ahmed Rashid, "The Taliban: Exporting Extremism", Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999).

This project of the US intelligence apparatus was conducted with the active support of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), which was entrusted in channelling covert military aid to the Islamic brigades and financing, in liason with the CIA, the madrassahs and Mujahideen training camps.

U.S. government support to the Mujahideen was presented to world public opinion as a "necessary response" to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in support of the pro-Communist government of Babrak Kamal.

The CIA's military-intelligence operation in Afghanistan, which consisted in creating the "Islamic brigades", was launched prior rather than in response to the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan. In fact, Washington's intent was to deliberately trigger a civil war, which has lasted for more than 25 years. (photo: CIA and ISI agents)

The CIA's role in laying the foundations of Al Qaeda is confirmed in an 1998 interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, who at the time was National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter:

Brzezinski: According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, [on] 24 December 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the President in which I explained to him that in my opinion, this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

Question: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

Brzezinski: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Question:When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything today?

Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War? ( "The CIA's Intervention in Afghanistan, Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser", Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998, published in English, Centre for Research on Globalisation, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html , 5 October 2001, italics added.)

Consistent with Brzezinski's account, a "Militant Islamic Network" was created by the CIA.

The "Islamic Jihad" (or holy war against the Soviets) became an integral part of the CIA's intelligence ploy. It was supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia, with a significant part of the funding generated from the Golden Crescent drug trade:

"In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 166 [which] authorize[d] stepped-up covert military aid to the Mujahideen, and it made clear that the secret Afghan war had a new goal: to defeat Soviet troops in Afghanistan through covert action and encourage a Soviet withdrawal. The new covert U.S. assistance began with a dramatic increase in arms supplies -- a steady rise to 65,000 tons annually by 1987 as well as a "ceaseless stream" of CIA and Pentagon specialists who travelled to the secret headquarters of Pakistan's ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. There, the CIA specialists met with Pakistani intelligence officers to help plan operations for the Afghan rebels."(Steve Coll, The Washington Post, July 19, 1992.)

[Sep 06, 2018] The US Military is Winning. No, Really, It Is! by Nick Turse

Notable quotes:
"... Nick Turse is the managing editor of ..."
"... a fellow at the Nation Institute, and a contributing writer for the ..."
"... His latest book is ..."
"... . He is also the author of the award-winning ..."
"... His website is NickTurse.com. ..."
Sep 06, 2018 | www.unz.com

The Taliban says that in order to end "this long war" the "lone option is to end the occupation of Afghanistan and nothing more."

In June, the 17th American nominated to take command of the war, Lieutenant General Scott Miller, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee where Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) grilled him on what he would do differently in order to bring the conflict to a conclusion. "I cannot guarantee you a timeline or an end date," was Miller's confident reply .

Did the senators then send him packing? Hardly. He was, in fact, easily confirmed and starts work this month. Nor is there any chance Congress will use its power of the purse to end the war. The 2019 budget request for U.S. operations in Afghanistan -- topping out at $46.3 billion -- will certainly be approved.

#Winning

All of this seeming futility brings us back to the Vietnam War, Kissinger, and that magic number, 4,000,000,029,057 -- as well as the question of what an American military victory would look like today. It might surprise you, but it turns out that winning wars is still possible and, perhaps even more surprising, the U.S. military seems to be doing just that.

Let me explain.

In Vietnam, that military aimed to " out-guerrilla the guerrilla ." It never did and the United States suffered a crushing defeat. Henry Kissinger -- who presided over the last years of that conflict as national security advisor and then secretary of state -- provided his own concise take on one of the core tenets of asymmetric warfare: "The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose." Perhaps because that eternally well-regarded but hapless statesman articulated it, that formula was bound -- like so much else he touched -- to crash and burn .

In this century, the United States has found a way to turn Kissinger's martial maxim on its head and so rewrite the axioms of armed conflict. This redefinition can be proved by a simple equation:

0 + 1,000,000,000,000 + 17 +17 + 23,744 + 3,000,000,000,000 + 5 + 5,200 + 74 = 4,000,000,029,057

Expressed differently, the United States has not won a major conflict since 1945; has a trillion-dollar national security budget; has had 17 military commanders in the last 17 years in Afghanistan, a country plagued by 23,744 " security incidents " (the most ever recorded) in 2017 alone; has spent around $3 trillion , primarily on that war and the rest of the war on terror, including the ongoing conflict in Iraq, which then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld swore , in 2002, would be over in only "five days or five weeks or five months," but where approximately 5,000 U.S. troops remain today; and yet 74% of the American people still express high confidence in the U.S. military.

Let the math and the implications wash over you for a moment. Such a calculus definitively disproves the notion that "the conventional army loses if it does not win." It also helps answer the question of victory in the war on terror. It turns out that the U.S. military, whose budget and influence in Washington have only grown in these years, now wins simply by not losing -- a multi-trillion-dollar conventional army held to the standards of success once applied only to under-armed, under-funded guerilla groups.

Unlike in the Vietnam War years, three presidents and the Pentagon, unbothered by fiscal constraints, substantive congressional opposition, or a significant antiwar movement, have been effectively pursuing this strategy, which requires nothing more than a steady supply of troops, contractors, and other assorted camp followers; an endless parade of Senate-sanctioned commanders; and an annual outlay of hundreds of billions of dollars. By these standards, Donald Trump's open-ended, timetable-free "Strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia" may prove to be the winningest war plan ever. As he described it:

"From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge."

Think about that for a moment. Victory's definition begins with "attacking our enemies" and ends with the prevention of possible terror attacks. Let me reiterate: "victory" is defined as "attacking our enemies." Under President Trump's strategy, it seems, every time the U.S. bombs or shells or shoots at a member of one of those 20-plus terror groups in Afghanistan, the U.S. is winning or, perhaps, has won. And this strategy is not specifically Afghan-centric. It can easily be applied to American warzones in the Middle East and Africa -- anywhere, really.

Decades after the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military has finally solved the conundrum of how to "out-guerrilla the guerrilla." And it couldn't have been simpler. You just adopt the same definition of victory. As a result, a conventional army -- at least the U.S. military -- now loses only if it stops fighting. So long as unaccountable commanders wage benchmark-free wars without congressional constraint, the United States simply cannot lose. You can't argue with the math. Call it the rule of 4,000,000,029,057.

That calculus and that sum also prove, quite clearly, that America's beleaguered commander-in-chief has gotten a raw deal on his victory parade. With apologies to the American Legion, the U.S. military is now -- under the new rules of warfare -- triumphant and deserves the type of celebration proposed by President Trump. After almost two decades of warfare, the armed forces have lowered the bar for victory to the level of their enemy, the Taliban. What was once the mark of failure for a conventional army is now the benchmark for success. It's a remarkable feat and deserving, at the very least, of furious flag-waving, ticker tape , and all the age-old trappings of victory.

Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch , a fellow at the Nation Institute, and a contributing writer for the Intercept. His latest book is Next Time They'll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan . He is also the author of the award-winning Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam . His website is NickTurse.com.


Sin City Milla , says: September 6, 2018 at 5:23 am GMT

Military conquests are the most ephemeral. Colonisation lasts longer. A mere century or two in the case of Europeans. But even 900 years was not sufficient for Greeks to remove the military n cultural threat posed by the Semites n Iranians of Southwest Asia, from Alexander's conquest in 323 BC till the Muslim "reconquista" of 632 AD. Only demographic "conquest" works in the end. If your women are not out-reproducing their women, then your military will fail spectacularly n quickly, as what had once been your population transforms into theirs. At that point, far from victory parades, you get to see statues to your former heros torn down, n the highest "patriotism" becomes enthusiastically opening the gates to what had once been your people's deadliest enemies.
Haxo Angmark , says: Website September 6, 2018 at 6:41 am GMT
the GWOT has 3 components:

1. keep Israhell on the map.
2. keep oil-producers taking dollars and only dollars for their oil
3. keep the CIA's poppy fields in Afghanistan in full production

on 1: ongoing victory, Israhell is still there
on2: Iraq and Libya back on the petrodollar, Iran pending
on3: ongoing victory, CIA drug ops proceeding normally

in ZOG-ruled 'Murka, every day is a day of new victories.

Anonymous , [317] Disclaimer says: September 6, 2018 at 11:18 am GMT
Mr. Turse is a comic. What a beautiful summary of the situation.
See a group, Imagine a possible threat, if both occur, bingo group =converts to =>terrorist
and each member converts to a subliminal threat. Imagine the psychology that can be applied to that bit of information to produce next day propaganda. Let us not forget the real media that displays the propaganda is owned by just 6 entities; global access to knowledge and real truth is gated and directed by search engine magic these two facts are IMO a real global threat to humanity.

Win by not losing/ In such a scenario increasing numbers in a terror group or increasing numbers of, or broadening the global distribution of terror groups produces more terror fodder. The competent imagination derives its threats from terror fodder ( fodder fits any size imagination).

When ever it is needed, proof of any non self-inflicted terrorism can be conjured from the imagination. As Mr Turse says proof of terrorism can be found in the definition, proof of victory can be found in the attack (as Mr. Turse so adequately expressed), and both are recorded in the history of terrorism, which can be found in the daily media presentations and the MSM annual report "Dollars Spent Chasing Terrorist from the Imagination". a joint publication of the Internationally linked intelligence services and the global college of paranoia producing propaganda.

victory is found in the attack because dollars start to flow; the more dollars the greater the victory.

But how much of this would be possible if the reserve currency were no longer the dollar? What will happen when Russia, China, Iran and others produce a new reserve currency or displace existing reserve currencies by assigning exchange value to the currency of each nation? The issuer of reserve currency measures its money supply by the checks he writes [their checks never bounce], everyone else measures their currency by the amount of the reserve currency they are able to keep in the bank ( to prevent their checks from bouncing].

Justsaying , says: September 6, 2018 at 11:22 am GMT
@Sean Because although Health and Education Keynesianisn would work as well as the Military variant, it also leads to an organised population mobilising for social change. And while wars do end eventually, social spending seems to increase over time without limit. I was almost sold on that explanation to my honest question, until the phrase

wars do end eventually

Would wars "ending eventually", not render the MIC obsolete? Is it not the MIC that thrives on perpetual wars with seemingly endless supplies of cash to fund their wars? Even in periods of relative calm (if ever, since WWII that is), is it not the constant threat of war that keeps the military monstrosity grinding away?

RVBlake , says: September 6, 2018 at 11:45 am GMT
74% of Americans express high confidence in their military? I wonder if 74% of Americans are even aware that we're at war. I read somewhere that U.S. generals now define victory as getting the Taliban to the bargaining table.
Tom Walsh , says: September 6, 2018 at 12:46 pm GMT
"out-guerrilla the guerrilla." was coined by Col. David Hackworth as out "G" ing the G and was shown to work in the Delta. Read his book "About Face" or "Steel my soldiers hearts"
Kjell Holmsten , says: September 6, 2018 at 1:39 pm GMT
Elites, read Bolsheviks or Freemasons win no war, they do not win over diseases, crime, idiot bla, bla. They are making money on them and they always turn to both sides. To the criminal gangsters, to the associations of the sick, to the losers in war, they can win in 20 years, etc. etc. This article is foam, foam. The Elites are trying to do everything and nobody understands anything, so the elite wins – the banker always has his blood money.
Carroll Price , says: September 6, 2018 at 1:42 pm GMT

the United States has not won a major conflict since 1945; has a trillion-dollar national security budget; has had 17 military commanders in the last 17 years in Afghanistan, a country plagued by 23,744 "security incidents" (the most ever recorded) in 2017 alone; has spent around $3 trillion, primarily on that war and the rest of the war on terror, including the ongoing conflict in Iraq, which then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld swore, in 2002, would be over in only "five days or five weeks or five months," but where approximately 5,000 U.S. troops remain today; and yet 74% of the American people still express high confidence in the U.S. military.

Let me correct that 1st sentence for you: the United States has not REPEATED THE MISTAKE OF WINNING a major conflict since 1945.

Why? Because as they quickly discovered, WW2 was the best thing that ever happened to the US economy, and that lots more money is made fighting wars than winning one, as proven by the above quoted figures.

Agent76 , says: September 6, 2018 at 2:54 pm GMT
September 17, 2014 US Pursues *134** Wars Around the World

The US is now involved in *134* wars or none, depending on your definition of war.

http://www.thedailybell.com/news-analysis/35654/US-Pursues-134-Wars-Around-the-World/

December 24, 2013 The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases

The US Military has bases in *63* countries. According to Gelman, who examined 2005 official Pentagon data, the US is thought to own a total of *737* bases in foreign lands.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-worldwide-network-of-us-military-bases/5564

ChuckOrloski , says: September 6, 2018 at 2:57 pm GMT
Hi Nick Turse,
Given OBL and Afghanistan Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11 terror attacks, it appears likely that the W. Bush regime launched war upon the Taliban exclusively for geopolitical interests, minerals, i.e., lithium, and construction of natural gas pipelines directed southeast to the subcontinent, India.
Fyi, approximately seven years ago, I saw a U.S. Veterans informational map which identified the Neo-"Grunts" military bases as within close proximity to pipeline construction.
Consequently, for me, I see US military's incessant stay in "the graveyard of Empires" as a stilted profit & loss (P&L) "'victory," but of course there's no (!) dividend for dumb goyim American citizens, but voila, oodles for global energy companies, untouchable Military-Industrial-$ecurity Complex, & killing "Poppy Fields," including Moneychanger pharmaceutical-opioid trade!
In short, the incredible cost for U.S. military's GWOT & advanced targeting of Russia is diabolically placed upon future generations of American taxpayers who, at the moment-of-their birth, are in debt, & the Mom and Pop' "victory" is incarnate in a 'guvmint CHIP card.
ZUSA wars "victory" is in the pockets of P&L-benefactors, and on Sunday afternoons, one can feel the "bern" when fighter jets flyover NFL stadiums!
Thanks for the education, Mr. Turse!
onusians , says: September 6, 2018 at 3:48 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra It did not in the civilised societies of north and western Europe. The nordic " model " is dead , and it has been a bad example to the world . Sweden has 10 million people , Norway 4 , Danmark 6 . These little countries can not be a valid model for anyone .

Like Toynbee said nordics are kind of a failed egoistic subcivilization of the germans , english of russians , with which they never had the courage to integrate . They seem to be happy in their autistic cold world , pretending to be a showroom for the UN perverts .

Thim , says: September 6, 2018 at 5:40 pm GMT
As to Vietnam the author is just clueless. Where was the so called crushing defeat? When we Americans pulled out in 1971 to 1972 the NVA was still stymied and impotent. Our so called allies hated us totally and the feeling was mutual. We actually had no allies in Vietnam except the savage yard tribes. But yes after we pulled out the South collapsed fast as we knew they would. They got exactly what they deserved. But it was a South Vietnamese defeat. By 1975 our armies were long gone. Repeat, there were no American divisions, battallions or platoons to lose. We were gone.

We still do not know exactly what Kissinger got from the Chinese at Paris in 1971-2, but he and Nixon seemed happy enough, and we pulled out and ceded Vietnam. We do know this was the exact time China began to cooperate with us in the Cold War against the Bolsheviks. Specifically, we know the Chinese allowed our B-52′s, loaded with nukes, to overfly, all along the Soviet border, and this continued to 1987, when the game was already up.

[Sep 03, 2018] Michael Hudson: Argentina's New $50 Billion IMF Loan Is Designed to Replay its 2001 Crisis

Notable quotes:
"... Alberto Nisman and Argentina's History of Assassinations and Suspicious Suicides ..."
"... Whether the crusading prosecutor's death is found to be a suicide or homicide, many Argentines probably won't believe it. The past has taught them to always look for the sinister explanation. ..."
"... Decades after the military murdered thousands, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo warn that the current era of alternative facts poses a new threat ..."
"... They'll gain the world but lose their souls They'll gain the world but lose their souls ..."
"... Don't believe politicians and thieves They want our people on their bended knees Pirates and robbers, liars and thieves You come like the wolf but dressed like the sheep ..."
"... If you go to Lagos what you find, vampires If you go to Kinshasa what you find, vampires If you go to Darfur what you find, vampires If you go to Malabo what you find, vampires ..."
"... Lies and theft Guns and debt Life and death IMF ..."
"... When the bank man comes to your door Better know you'll always be poor Bank loans and policies They can't make our people free ..."
"... You live on the blood of my people Everyone knows you've come to steal You come like the thieves in the night The whole world is ready to fight ..."
Jul 25, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on July 25, 2018 by Yves Smith

Yves here. In this Real News Network interview, Micheal Hudson explains why IMF "programs" inevitably hurt workers.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/N5ZHD9-zdkQ?rel=0&showinfo=0

SHARMINI PERIES: It's The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

For several months now. Argentines have been taking to the streets to protest against neoliberal austerity measures of President Mauricio Macri. The most recent such protest took place on July 9 on Argentine's Independence Day. There has also been three general strikes thus far. In the two years since he took office, President Macri has laid off as many as 76,000 public sector workers, and slashed gas and water and electricity subsidies, leading to a tenfold increase in prices, in some cases.

Now, the government argues that all of this is necessary in order to stem inflation, and the decline of the currency's value. Last month, Macri received the backing of the International Monetary Fund. The IMF agreed to provide Argentina with a $50 billion loan, one of the largest in IMF history. In exchange, the Macri government will deepen the austerity measures already in place.

Joining me now to analyze Argentina's economic situation and its new IMF loan is Michael Hudson. Michael is a distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri Kansas City. Welcome back, Michael.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Good to be back, Sharmini.

SHARMINI PERIES: Michael, why is it that Argentina needs such a huge credit line from the IMF?

MICHAEL HUDSON: For precisely the reason that you explained. The neoliberal policy has its aim rolling back any of the wage increases in employment that Mrs. Kirschner, the former president, implied, as part of the class war. So in order to shrink the economy, you have to basically cut back business, cut back employment. And so the purpose of the IMF loan was to enable the wealthy Argentinians, the oligarchy that's run the country for a century, to get all its money out and run. So like almost all IMF loans, the purpose is to subsidize capital flight out of Argentina so that the wealthy Argentinians can take their money and run before the currency collapses.

The aim of the loan is to indebt Argentina so much that its currency will continue to go down and down and down, essentially wrecking the economy. That's what the IMF does. That's its business plan. It makes a loan to subsidize capital flight, emptying out the economy of cash, leading the currency to collapse, as it is recently collapsed. As soon as the $50 billion was expended, or wasted, in letting wealthy Argentinians take their pesos, convert them into dollars, move them offshore to the United States, to England, to the Dutch West Indies, and offshore banking centers. Then they let the currency collapse so that the IMF model, which it's announced for the last 50 years, the model is if you can depreciate a currency what you're really lowering is the price of labor. Because raw materials and capital have an international price. But when a currency goes down it makes imports much more expensive, and that causes a price umbrella over the cost of living; that labor has to pay the equivalent international price for grain, for food, for oil and gas, for everything else.

And so what Macri has done is they agree with the IMF to wage class war with a vengeance, devaluation, leaving Argentina so hopelessly indebted that it can't possibly repay the IMF loan. So what we're seeing is a replay of what happened in 2001.

SHARMINI PERIES: Exactly. I was going to ask you, now, that was only 17 years ago, Michael. Argentinians do have memory here. They know what happened. They experienced it as well. Now, that was back in 2001 during the economic crisis when unemployment had increased so dramatically. That country went through a series of presidents and went through a series of crises. And we saw images of, you know, very similar to what we had seen in, in Greece not too long ago. Now, tell us more about that history. What exactly happened during that crisis, and then eventually how did Nestor Kirschner relieve the economy and come out of that crisis?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, the IMF staff said, don't make the loan. There's no possible way Argentina can pay the loan. It's all going to be made to the oligarchy for capital flight. You're giving the IMF money for crooks, and you're expecting the Argentine people to have to pay. So Argentina very quickly was left totally broke, as the IMF intended it to be. And so although it was 17 years ago, for the last 17 years the IMF has had a slogan: No more Argentinas. In other words, they said, we're never going to make the loan that is only given to oligarchs for capital flight to steal. It's as if you make a loan to the Ukraine, or to the Russian kleptocrats, or to the Greek banks to move offshore.

And yet here, here again, we're having a replay of what happened was, after Mrs. Kirschner came in, it was obvious to the [inaudible] to everybody, as it had been to the IMF staff, many of whom had resigned, that Argentina couldn't pay. So about 80 percent of Argentines' bondholders agreed to write down the debt to something that could be paid. They said, OK, you know, either it's a total default because they can't pay anything, or we'll write it down very substantially to what could be paid. Because the IMF really made a completely incompetent- not incompetent, directly corrupt insider deal. Well, unfortunately, the oligarchy had a fatal clause put in the original bond issue, saying they would agree to U.S. arbitration and to U.S. law if there was any dispute.

Well, after the old Argentine bonds depreciated in price, the bonds that were not renegotiated as part of the 80 percent, you had vulture funds buy them out. Especially Paul Singer, the Republican campaign donor who tends to buy politicians, along with foreign government bonds. And sued, and said, we want 100 percent on the dollar, not, you know, the 40 cents on the dollar or whatever they'd settled. And the case went to a senile, dying judge, Griesa in New York City, who said, well, there was something that's about a clause that said investors have to be treated separately. And Argentina said, well, that's fine, we'll pay the other 20 percent [inaudible] the 80 percent of all agreed to. The majority rules. And Griesa said, no, no, you have to pay the 80 percent all the money that the 20 percent demands. That's symmetry, because only if you let the hedge funds win can you go bankrupt again, wreck the government, and bring in oligarchy.

And so that ruling caused absolute turmoil. The United States State Department set out to support the oligarchy by doing everything it could to destabilize Argentina. And the Argentine people said, well, we'd better vote in a government that's supported by the United States. Maybe it will be nice to us. I don't know why foreign countries think that way, but they thought maybe if they voted the neoliberal that the United States would agree to forgive some of its debt. Well, that's not what neoliberals do. The neoliberal did just what you said at the beginning of the program; announced that he was going to cut employment, lower, stop inflation by making the working class bail, bear all of the costs, and would borrow- actually, it was the largest loan in IMF history, the $50 billion to enable the Argentine wealthy class to move its money offshore, leaving the economy a bankrupt shell. That's what the IMF does.

SHARMINI PERIES: Right. So let's imagine you are given the opportunity to resolve this issue. How would you be advising the Argentine government in terms of what can they do to stabilize the economy, given the circumstances they're facing right now?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Very simple. I'd say this debt is an odious debt. There is no way that Argentina can pay. The clause that bankrupted us was put in as a result of tens of thousands of professors, labor leaders, [land] people being assassinated. The United States financed an assassination team throughout Latin America after Pinochet in Chile to have basically a proxy government, and the Argentine loan that said we will, we will follow U.S. rules, not Argentine rules, basically should disqualify that debt from having to be paid. And it should say the IMF debt is an odious debt. It was given under fraudulent purposes solely for purposes of capital flight. We will not pay.

SHARMINI PERIES: Now, Michael, just one last question. Did you want to add something to what you were saying?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, once it doesn't pay the foreign debt, its balance of payments will be, will be there. The problem is that the creditors have always used violence in order to get their way. I don't see how the Argentina situation can be solved without violence, because the creditors are using police force, covert assassination. They're just as bad as the dirty war that had that mass assassination period in the late, into the early '90s. There's obviously going to be not only the demonstrations that you showed, but an outright war, because it's broken out in Argentina more drastically than anywhere else right now in Latin America, except in Venezuela.

SHARMINI PERIES: Michael, at the moment, the Fed is gradually increasing interest rates and the dollar is gaining in value. This is sucking the financial capital not only in Argentina but in many places around the world. Also, you know, they're going to be soon in crisis as well. What is, what can the developing economies do?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Here's the problem. When the United States raises interest rates, that causes foreign money to flow, flow into the dollar, because the rest of the world, Europe and other areas, are keeping low interest rates. So as money goes into the dollar, to take advantage of the rising interest rates, the dollar rises. Now, that makes it necessary for Argentina or any other country, third world country, to pay more and more pesos in order to buy the dollars to pay that foreign debt. Because Argentina and third world countries have violated the prime rule of credit. And that is never to denominate a debt in another currency that you can't pay. And all of a sudden, the dollar debts become much more expensive in peso terms, and as a result, all throughout the world right now you're having a collapse of bond prices of third world debt. Argentine bonds, Chilean bonds, African bonds, near Eastern bonds. Third world debt bonds are plunging, because the investors realize that the countries can't pay. The game looks like it may be over.

The good side of this is that Argentina now can join with other third world countries and say we are going to redenominate the debts in our own currency, or we just won't pay, or we will do what the world did in 1931 and announce a moratorium on intergovernmental debts. Now, that was done on German reparations and the World War I inter-ally debts. Something like that. Some international conference to declare a moratorium and say, what is the amount that actually can be paid? And to write down third world debts to the amount that should be paid.

Because the principle that countries have to say is that no country should be obliged to sacrifice its own economy, its own employment, and its own independence to pay foreign creditors. Every country has a right to put its own citizens first and its own economy first before foreign creditors, especially when the loans are made under false pretenses, as the IMF has made pretending to stabilize the currency instead of subsidizing capital flight to destabilize the currency.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Michael. I thank you so much. And we'll continue this conversation. There's so much more to discuss, and so many countries here in this situation for that discussion as well. I thank you so much for joining us today.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Thanks. I think it's going to get worse, so we'll have a lot to discuss.

SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.


tawal , July 25, 2018 at 3:12 am

Why does the IMF have a US dollar credit line at the US FED, and Argentina does not; countries like Canada do, as do companies like Harley Davidson. Why the discrimination?

vlade , July 25, 2018 at 3:26 am

I'd really like your source on HD having a line with Fed .

tawal , July 25, 2018 at 10:05 am

Here's one: http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/2010/12/article/harley-davidson-loaned-2-3-billion-from-fed/

I recall Bloomberg doing quite an expose, when the FED databases were forced to be released.

Disturbed Voter , July 25, 2018 at 7:00 am

"The IMF was originally laid out as a part of the Bretton Woods system exchange agreement in 1944. During the Great Depression, countries sharply raised barriers to trade in an attempt to improve their failing economies. This led to the devaluation of national currencies and a decline in world trade."

IMF is an anachronism, a perpetual organization seeking new reasons for its continued existence.

And like all Western post WW II institutions, is part of the Cold War. Of course any actions by US connected entities in Latin America/Caribbean are part of the Monroe Doctrine ;-(

Thuto , July 25, 2018 at 7:55 am

Gas prices in Egypt have just been raised by 75% as part of the austerity measures attached to the $12bn loan granted by the IMF. Regular folk barely have two pennies to rub together and have been battered by this and other measures ostensibly designed to "lift the economy and lure back investors (as per the IMF rationale behind these crushing loan conditions). I wonder if the same sleight of hand outlined by Prof Hudson applies here (I.e. whether this is an IMF subsidised capital flight scheme designed to aid the Egyptian oligarchy in repatriating its loot) and whether we should cast a suspicious eye towards the oligarchs in any country the IMF extends a loan to.

michael hudson , July 25, 2018 at 8:33 am

That's my point, of course.

The Rev Kev , July 25, 2018 at 9:02 am

This puts me in mind of a blog that I came across sometime ago at http://ferfal.blogspot.com/ which has relevance here. Yeah, he tries to flog a lot of survival gear and the like but this site came out of his experiences in the first crash in Argentina in 2001. If you are prepared to dig deep into his files you will find all sorts of stories about what life was like in Argentina and it was awful and desperate. Probably the best place to start is at http://ferfal.blogspot.com/search/label/Argentine%20Collapse

Alejandro , July 25, 2018 at 10:52 am

From your link, this jumped out, as agnotological apologetics:

" Right now with President Mauricio Macri there's hope, but the change the country needs will take decades "

He didn't make much of an effort to clarify, who holds this "hope" nor what "change the country needs". OTOH Michael Hudson, in his last two interviews on NC, did. He (Feral) also seems oblivious to the neoliberal projects role in Latin America, and in Argentina's 2001 crises.

And this:

"Anyway, that's what happened in Argentina and this is why in spite of the good president we now have we need another 10 or 20 years for an entire generation of people to know something other than populism and corruption as a way of life."

Again, oblivious to the neoliberal projects role in Latin America, and in Argentina's 2001 crises. Who benefits from austerity, and how?

Bud-in PA , July 25, 2018 at 9:48 am

"As soon as the $50 billion was expended, or wasted, in letting wealthy Argentinians take their pesos, convert them into dollars, move them offshore to the United States, to England, to the Dutch West Indies, and offshore banking centers"

Not sure I understand this. Who is converting the Oligarch pesos to dollars? Crooks in the Argentine government?

Synoia , July 25, 2018 at 10:35 am

The Argentinian Banks, and their US correspondent Banks. The US is one of the largest safe havens for foreign "hot money" in the world.

"Free flow" of Capital is a key feature of "Free Trade."

Mel , July 25, 2018 at 10:39 am

As I understand it, it's the Oligarchs' butlers and footmen in the Argentine government that do it. If the Argentine government has a policy of pegging the peso at some set number of pesos per dollar, then the government is obliged to hand over this many dollars in exchange for that many pesos. That's what a peg is. One way to get the dollars would be through a loan which the IMF would "reluctantly" give them, conditional on a few crushing social policies.
Like I said before, this so much resembles a leveraged buy-out.

Ba Wang Long , July 25, 2018 at 11:51 am

Could someone please explain the mechanisms by which the $50B loan leaves the country. Exactly how do the elites get their hands on this money and then get it out of the country?

Mel , July 25, 2018 at 1:10 pm

If you haven't already read it, check Prof. Hudson's previous article . It describes more about the methods.
Of course, if you have, then I'm not helping.

HotFlash , July 25, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Ah yes! As they taught us back in accounting classes, it is easy to cook the books, the hard part is getting the cash out.

I heard this excellent podcast from Democracy at Work earlier this week wherein Michael Hudson explains it very clearly.

Synoia , July 25, 2018 at 5:59 pm

They convert their liquid cash into Dollars. Then wire it to Banks outside the Argentine, and invest, (typically buy property). In addition, they take out loans against their Argentinian assets or property, and convert those pesos into dollars, and export those dollars as well.

All legal and above board.

When the peso collapses, they repatriate some of their dollars, and pay of the now deflated loans.

Jim Haygood , July 25, 2018 at 12:42 pm

'The Argentine loan that said we will, we will follow U.S. rules, not Argentine rules, basically should disqualify that debt from having to be paid.'

Most foreign currency bonds floated by developing economies specify New York or London legal jurisdiction because of (1) well-developed case law; (2) creditors don't trust the objectivity of courts in borrower countries.

If all developing country debt were considered "odious" merely because of New York or English legal jurisdiction, lending to developing countries would stop cold.

'I don't see how the Argentina situation can be solved without violence, because the creditors are using police force, covert assassination.'

Cite one -- just one -- link showing "covert assassination" occurring in Argentina. The Dirty War of the 1970s and early 1980s doesn't count. You can't keep waving the bloody shirt of military dictatorship in South America more than thirty years after it ended.

JTMcPhee , July 25, 2018 at 1:33 pm

I'm sure there is a nice polite clear unassailable explanation for what happened in this instance:

" Alberto Nisman and Argentina's History of Assassinations and Suspicious Suicides

Whether the crusading prosecutor's death is found to be a suicide or homicide, many Argentines probably won't believe it. The past has taught them to always look for the sinister explanation. "

https://www.propublica.org/article/alberto-nisman-argentinas-history-of-assassinations-and-suspicious-suicides

And maybe creditors like to have their loan docs choose US/NY courts and law as the basis for dispute resolution because both are stacked in favor of creditors? Home court "white shoe lawyer" advantage? No history of support for the great creditor scams of the past? the word "jackal" has no meaning? There was no reason for that guy to write a sequel to "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man"?

Really, there's no need for the "bloody shirt," now is there, given current right-wing dictators supported by "us," what the Empire and Banksters and the rest are doing in and to central and South America, now is there? But it's a great distraction, I'll grant, and might even work as impeachment for some folks

Plenue , July 25, 2018 at 7:09 pm

I'm shocked that Haygood would confidently talk about something he doesn't understand. Shocked!

Roberto , July 25, 2018 at 6:18 pm

Further, from a previous MH article here

"No country should be obliged to pay its bondholders if the price of paying means austerity, unemployment, shrinking population, emigration, rising suicide rates, abolition of public health standards, and selloffs of the public domain to monopolists."

These sorts of rules would put a dead stop to foreign loans.

JTMcPhee , July 25, 2018 at 7:59 pm

Something always bothers me about the "bondholder" sanctity meme. Bonds are "investments," right? And there are RISKS associated with investments, right? And there's supposed to be a "risk premium" built into the "price" of the bond, right?

At least Investopedia and other sources say so, basically that these are NOT God-sanctioned absolute-right deals where the bondholder takes priority over everyone else in the world, right? https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/05/bondrisks.asp

And bonds are sort of contracts, subject to the rules and defenses that apply in contract disputes, albeit specialized rules, right? Impossibility and stuff? Fraud?

So why are the rest of us, like where "the government" is dumb or corrupt (CalPERS?)enough to "obligate" the wealth and future of a country by "selling bonds" to "investors," as security for "loans" that get siphoned off by corruption and stupidity, dumb enough to usually just roll over and accept that we have to live like serfs to "pay off the bonds?" Especially when the same scam has been pulled by the same set of Banksters over and over?

And yes, in the financialized westernized world, we mopes are tied to the "paying for progress [some definition of same] by borrowing," aren't we?

Interesting that the hated Sharia Law, the banking and investment part of it, kind of makes those allegedly risk-free kinds of fee- and profit- and reacketeer-generating "deals" not only unlawful, but against the will of G_D? https://shariabanking.com/

We could do better, couldn't we?

knowbuddhau , July 25, 2018 at 7:03 pm

Who are you to say when?

How telling. Was only 7 years ago that the torture-murderer of mothers and nuns, the Blonde Angel of Death himself, Alfredo Ignacio Astiz, was sentenced to life in prison. Per Wikipedia:

Astiz, a specialist in the infiltration of human rights organizations, was implicated in the December 1977 kidnapping of twelve human rights activists, including Azucena Villaflor and two other founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, and two French nationals, Léonie Duquet and Alice Domon, who were Catholic nuns. None of the twelve was seen alive again outside detention and all were believed killed, rumored to be among the bodies washed up on beaches south of Buenos Aires in late 1977.

To this day, torturers and murderers hold public offices. But I'm sure that's all in the past. Anyone who still talks about the US-sponsored 16 years of Dirty War, from 1967-1983, is a bloody shirt-waving fool, amirite Jim?

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNN) [2 March 1998] -- Argentina's "dirty war" ended 15 years ago, but it is an ugly episode that cannot be buried and refuses to be silenced.

Aging mothers and grandmothers march each week as the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, carrying banners and chanting, "We will not be stopped. We will not be broken. We have held on for 20 years."

They demand to know the whereabouts of sons and daughters and husbands and wives who were detained by the ruling military junta between 1976 and 1983, and then disappeared.

The junta seized power in Argentina in March 1976 and began a systematic campaign to wipe out left-wing terrorism. But the terror it spread exceeded anything the leftists ever dreamed of, claiming the lives of dissidents as well as innocent civilians.

More than 9,000 people disappeared during the dirty war, and some human rights groups say as many as 30,000 may have been tortured and killed.

"We only want to know where our sons and daughters are -- alive or dead," says one woman. "We are anguished because we don't know whether they are sick or hungry or cold. We don't know anything. We are desperate, desperate because we don't know who to turn to.

"Consulates, embassies, government ministries, churches. Every place is closed to us. Everywhere they shut us out. We beg you to help us. We beg you."

40 years later, the mothers of Argentina's 'disappeared' refuse to be silent [Guardian 28 April 2017]

Decades after the military murdered thousands, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo warn that the current era of alternative facts poses a new threat

Torturers and murderers hold public office, thanks to an amnesty. But I'm sure no one today, in the whole of Argentina, would ever consider what well, actually has long been standard operating procedure in Argentina.

ChrisAtRU , July 25, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Nation State Debtor's Prison the beatings will continue

Chauncey Gardiner , July 25, 2018 at 4:55 pm

While not precisely on point, reminds me of a monologue to music titled "FMI", the Portuguese abbreviation for IMF, by Portuguese poet Mario Branco. Salient lyrics (English translation) of IMF:

"It's 'Monetary Internationalism' The IMF doesn't exist The IMF is a mask."

"There can't exist a reason for so much suffering."

ChrisAtRU , July 25, 2018 at 5:37 pm

Thievery Corporation were far more brutal in their Fela-Kuti-inspired "Vampires"

Lyrics (abridged):

They'll gain the world but lose their souls
They'll gain the world but lose their souls

Don't believe politicians and thieves
They want our people on their bended knees
Pirates and robbers, liars and thieves
You come like the wolf but dressed like the sheep

If you go to Lagos what you find, vampires
If you go to Kinshasa what you find, vampires
If you go to Darfur what you find, vampires
If you go to Malabo what you find, vampires

Lies and theft
Guns and debt
Life and death
IMF

When the bank man comes to your door
Better know you'll always be poor
Bank loans and policies
They can't make our people free

You live on the blood of my people
Everyone knows you've come to steal
You come like the thieves in the night
The whole world is ready to fight

knowbuddhau , July 25, 2018 at 5:44 pm

This:

The clause that bankrupted us was put in as a result of tens of thousands of professors, labor leaders, [land] people being assassinated. The United States financed an assassination team throughout Latin America after Pinochet in Chile to have basically a proxy government, and the Argentine loan that said we will, we will follow U.S. rules, not Argentine rules, basically should disqualify that debt from having to be paid. And it should say the IMF debt is an odious debt. It was given under fraudulent purposes solely for purposes of capital flight. We will not pay.

And this:

The problem is that the creditors have always used violence in order to get their way.

Are why I so love Michael Hudson. There's the blood so studiously avoided in the desanguinated language of "economics." Its absence is the tell-tale of the kind of disembodiment described by Nancy Krieger (h/t Lambert ).

Embodiment, in other words, is literal. The
ecosocial premise is that clues to current and
changing population patterns of health, includ-
ing social disparities in health, are to be found
chiefly in the dynamic social, material, and
ecological contexts into which we are born,
develop, interact, and endeavour to live mean-
ingful lives. The contrast is to pervasive aetiolo-
gical hypotheses concerned mainly with
decontextualised and disembodied ''behaviours''
and ''exposures'' interacting with equally decon-
textualised and disembodied ''genes.'' The dis-
tinction is more than simply between
''determinants'' and ''mechanisms.'' Consider,
for example, contending -- and longstanding --
claims about racism compared with ''race'' as
causes of racial/ethnic disparities in health.

An embodied approach promotes testing hypoth-
eses to ascertain if the observed disparities are a
biological expression of racial discrimination,
past and present; by contrast, a disembodied
and decontextualised approach promulgates
research focused on detrimental genes and/or
''lifestyles.'' The vastly different implications
of these approaches for generating epidemiolo-
gical knowledge and informing policy underscore
the utility of clarifying the significance of
''embodiment'' for epidemiological inquiry.
[Footnotes omitted, emphasis added.]

Ah yes, but talking about our ideas about the problem, or talking about the talking about the problem, is so much better for catapulting the propaganda.

Also, if it looks, walks, and bankrupts Argentina over and over exactly like an Economic Hit Job aka mass murder and looting under the color of law by the Suits in broad g.d. daylight, then yes. Yes it is.

Scott1 , July 25, 2018 at 9:30 pm

In the '70s at the best universities Ecology Classes were instituted and the young well off students were told first, that the climate was being altered as a result of human activities.
Nixon was told by the CIA that overpopulation was the main treat to future US Security.

The Vatican quashed that way of looking at it. Gopsay policies are all the same as Vatican policies.
Loyalty to the nation of their birth for a rich person & their wealthy families was thrown out the window.
The jetsetter class now buys the best deal far as taxes and protections.

Their goal is to eliminate any harm to them or their families from "Forces beyond their control." If the leaders of the world are going to co-operate with them, those leaders will be paid. For the majority who are born to labor and become labor those things done by bankers and their leaders become for them "Forces beyond their control."

The rich know that overpopulation is already the fact at 7.5 billion. They will bond together on the tarmacs hanging around their jets for little talks as took place between Bill Clinton and Lauretta Lynch.
"All those people that don't like how we get rich, who are taking up space we want, well, let them starve. The science says there are too many of them anyway."
(Wasn't a discussion of how to engineer revolts wonderful to crush, but is used as illustrative of how jet setters get around to meetings that lead to this or that policy of the day.)

This is the essence of "Scientific Socialism". Current Trump Administration policies will cause the withdrawal of US lands devoted to agriculture. What was for Stalin destruction of the Kulaks and collectivization starvation of Armenians, or Peasants, or the Intellogemtsia, or all those ambivalent about who is in power and are therefore Counter-Revolutionaries, starving them all leaves only the ignorant, cowed, or lucky alive.

Creating the conditions for civil wars is a great thing for the banks and their loyal patrons, the war materiel`s industries. The people rebel and oligarchs at the top have them killed.

Trotsky made the point that the weapons in the arsenals are the peoples. Somehow soldiers and police in nation after nation don't see it that way. In the US the police are made soldiers in the drug war. Keeping the peace is not their primary job. No pot smoking peaceniks are to be hired so the ranks are securely filled by thugs and incompetents made special by law. They shoot Black people at the drop of a hat. They shoot the poor driven crazy pretty often as well.

Somebody wondered why in the US Blues & Reds or Democrats, the Leftists silo and don't talk civilly to each other. Trump supporters show and shoot guns or as in Charlottesville Virginia run as many people as possible over and are obviously willing to kill other Americans. In Weimar Germany the "Scientific Socialists" had their uniformed enforcers.

Dictators have their own organizations exultant at the opportunity to be rewarded for beating and killing the people who object to the destruction of civilization. Spectaculars in stadiums, like Trump's to come Military Parade become more common as if such is civilization when it is more indicative of a break down of civilization itself.

I have no means to remove myself and my wife from the roiling clouds of more murder in the streets. I'll be "collapsing in place" as described by Lambert Strether. These things and the ideologies behind them happening are not accidental of "Forces Beyond My Control".

Thanks

Chauncey Gardiner , July 25, 2018 at 10:18 pm

The true purposes of the IMF loan are questionable to me.

1.) Over the past few years, we have seen market rigging by large transnational banks in both the LIBOR and foreign exchange markets. This raises the question of whether there was covert market manipulation to rapidly drop the Argentine peso and coerce the Argentine government to borrow funds from the IMF to defend the peso in order to assure that nation was able to pay for necessary imports?

2.) Was this debt undertaken to facilitate capital flight for a small, wealthy segment of the Argentine population without the consent of or benefit to the people of Argentina, or for some other unstated reason?

If either of these is true, this debt can legitimately be considered as "odious debt" by the people of Argentina and potentially repudiated.

It also appears to me that there is a high probability that the austerity measures likely to be imposed under this $50 billion loan to Argentina by the IMF could violate the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Not an attorney, nor knowledgeable about international law. Just my opinion as an ordinary citizen based on my reading of the post and Wikipedia.

[Aug 31, 2018] Exposing the Giants- The Global Power Elite by Prof. Peter Phillips

Notable quotes:
"... Developing the tradition charted by C. Wright Mills in his 1956 classic The Power Elite , in his latest book, Professor Peter Phillips starts by reviewing the transition from the nation state power elites described by authors such as Mills to a transnational power elite centralized on the control of global capital. ..."
Aug 31, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

Developing the tradition charted by C. Wright Mills in his 1956 classic The Power Elite , in his latest book, Professor Peter Phillips starts by reviewing the transition from the nation state power elites described by authors such as Mills to a transnational power elite centralized on the control of global capital.

Thus, in his just-released study Giants: The Global Power Elite , Phillips, a professor of political sociology at Sonoma State University in the USA, identifies the world's top seventeen asset management firms, such as BlackRock and J.P Morgan Chase, each with more than one trillion dollars of investment capital under management, as the 'Giants' of world capitalism. The seventeen firms collectively manage more than $US41.1 trillion in a self-invested network of interlocking capital that spans the globe.

This $41 trillion represents the wealth invested for profit by thousands of millionaires, billionaires and corporations. The seventeen Giants operate in nearly every country in the world and are 'the central institutions of the financial capital that powers the global economic system'. They invest in anything considered profitable, ranging from 'agricultural lands on which indigenous farmers are replaced by power elite investors' to public assets (such as energy and water utilities) to war.

In addition, Phillips identifies the most important networks of the Global Power Elite and the individuals therein. He names 389 individuals (a small number of whom are women and a token number of whom are from countries other than the United States and the wealthier countries of Western Europe) at the core of the policy planning nongovernmental networks that manage, facilitate and defend the continued concentration of global capital. The Global Power Elite perform two key uniting functions, he argues: they provide ideological justifications for their shared interests (promulgated through their corporate media), and define the parameters of action for transnational governmental organizations and capitalist nation-states.

More precisely, Phillips identifies the 199 directors of the seventeen global financial Giants and offers short biographies and public information on their individual net wealth. These individuals are closely interconnected through numerous networks of association including the World Economic Forum, the International Monetary Conference, university affiliations, various policy councils, social clubs, and cultural enterprises. For a taste of one of these clubs, see this account of The Links in New York. As Phillips observes: 'It is certainly safe to conclude they all know each other personally or know of each other in the shared context of their positions of power.'

The Giants, Phillips documents, invest in each other but also in many hundreds of investment management firms, many of which are near-Giants. This results in tens of trillions of dollars coordinated in a single vast network of global capital controlled by a very small number of people. 'Their constant objective is to find enough safe investment opportunities for a return on capital that allows for continued growth. Inadequate capital-placement opportunities lead to dangerous speculative investments, buying up of public assets, and permanent war spending.'

Because the directors of these seventeen asset management firms represent the central core of international capital, 'Individuals can retire or pass away, and other similar people will move into their place, making the overall structure a self-perpetuating network of global capital control. As such, these 199 people share a common goal of maximum return on investments for themselves and their clients, and they may seek to achieve returns by any means necessary – legal or not . the institutional and structural arrangements within the money management systems of global capital relentlessly seek ways to achieve maximum return on investment, and the conditions for manipulations – legal or not – are always present.'

Like some researchers before him, Phillips identifies the importance of those transnational institutions that serve a unifying function. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G20, G7, World Trade Organization (WTO), World Economic Forum (WEF), Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group , Bank for International Settlements, Group of 30 (G30), the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Monetary Conference serve as institutional mechanisms for consensus building within the transnational capitalist class, and power elite policy formulation and implementation. 'These international institutions serve the interests of the global financial Giants by supporting policies and regulations that seek to protect the free, unrestricted flow of capital and debt collection worldwide.'

But within this network of transnational institutions, Phillips identifies two very important global elite policy-planning organizations: the Group of Thirty (which has 32 members) and the extended executive committee of the Trilateral Commission (which has 55 members). These nonprofit corporations, which each have a research and support staff, formulate elite policy and issue instructions for their implementation by the transnational governmental institutions like the G7, G20, IMF, WTO, and World Bank. Elite policies are also implemented following instruction of the relevant agent, including governments, in the context. These agents then do as they are instructed. Thus, these 85 members (because two overlap) of the Group of Thirty and the Trilateral Commission comprise a central group of facilitators of global capitalism, ensuring that 'global capital remains safe, secure, and growing'.

So, while many of the major international institutions are controlled by nation-state representatives and central bankers (with proportional power exercised by dominant financial supporters such as the United States and European Union countries), Phillips is more concerned with the transnational policy groups that are nongovernmental because these organizations 'help to unite TCC power elites as a class' and the individuals involved in these organizations facilitate world capitalism. 'They serve as policy elites who seek the continued growth of capital in the world.'

Developing this list of 199 directors of the largest money management firms in the world, Phillips argues, is an important step toward understanding how capitalism works globally today. These global power elite directors make the decisions regarding the investment of trillions of dollars. Supposedly in competition, the concentrated wealth they share requires them to cooperate for their greater good by identifying investment opportunities and shared risk agreements, and working collectively for political arrangements that create advantages for their profit-generating system as a whole.

Their fundamental priority is to secure an average return on investment of 3 to 10 percent, or even more. The nature of any investment is less important than what it yields: continuous returns that support growth in the overall market. Hence, capital investment in tobacco products, weapons of war, toxic chemicals, pollution, and other socially destructive goods and services are judged purely by their profitability. Concern for the social and environmental costs of the investment are non-existent. In other words, inflicting death and destruction are fine because they are profitable.

So what is the global elite's purpose? In a few sentences Phillips characterizes it thus: The elite is largely united in support of the US/NATO military empire that prosecutes a repressive war against resisting groups – typically labeled 'terrorists' – around the world. The real purpose of 'the war on terror' is defense of transnational globalization, the unimpeded flow of financial capital around the world, dollar hegemony and access to oil; it has nothing to do with repressing terrorism which it generates, perpetuates and finances to provide cover for its real agenda. This is why the United States has a long history of CIA and military interventions around the world ostensibly in defense of 'national interests'.

Giants: The Global Power Elite

Wealth and Power

An interesting point that emerges for me from reading Phillips thoughtful analysis is that there is a clear distinction between those individuals and families who have wealth and those individuals who have (sometimes significantly) less wealth (which, nevertheless, is still considerable) but, through their positions and connections, wield a great deal of power. As Phillips explains this distinction, 'the sociology of elites is more important than particular elite individuals and their families'. Just 199 individuals decide how more than $40 trillion will be invested. And this is his central point. Let me briefly elaborate.

There are some really wealthy families in the world, notably including the families Rothschild (France and the United Kingdom), Rockefeller (USA), Goldman-Sachs (USA), Warburgs (Germany), Lehmann (USA), Lazards (France), Kuhn Loebs (USA), Israel Moses Seifs (Italy), Al-Saud (Saudi Arabia), Walton (USA), Koch (USA), Mars (USA), Cargill-MacMillan (USA) and Cox (USA). However, not all of these families overtly seek power to shape the world as they wish.

Similarly, the world's extremely wealthy individuals such as Jeff Bezos (USA), Bill Gates (USA), Warren Buffett (USA), Bernard Arnault (France), Carlos Slim Helu (Mexico) and Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (France) are not necessarily connected in such a way that they exercise enormous power. In fact, they may have little interest in power as such, despite their obvious interest in wealth.

In essence, some individuals and families are content to simply take advantage of how capitalism and its ancilliary governmental and transnational instruments function while others are more politically engaged in seeking to manipulate major institutions to achieve outcomes that not only maximize their own profit and hence wealth but also shape the world itself.

So if you look at the list of 199 individuals that Phillips identifies at the centre of global capital, it does not include names such as Bezos, Gates, Buffett, Koch, Walton or even Rothschild, Rockefeller or Windsor (the Queen of England) despite their well-known and extraordinary wealth. As an aside, many of these names are also missing from the lists compiled by groups such as Forbes and Bloomberg , but their absence from these lists is for a very different reason given the penchant for many really wealthy individuals and families to avoid certain types of publicity and their power to ensure that they do.

In contrast to the names just listed, in Phillips' analysis names like Laurence (Larry) Fink (Chairman and CEO of BlackRock), James (Jamie) Dimon (Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase) and John McFarlane (Chairman of Barclays Bank), while not as wealthy as those listed immediately above, wield far more power because of their positions and connections within the global elite network of 199 individuals.

Predictably then, Phillips observes, these three individuals have similar lifestyles and ideological orientations. They believe capitalism is beneficial for the world and while inequality and poverty are important issues, they believe that capital growth will eventually solve these problems. They are relatively non-expressive about environmental issues, but recognize that investment opportunities may change in response to climate 'modifications'. As millionaires they own multiple homes. They attended elite universities and rose quickly in international finance to reach their current status as giants of the global power elite. 'The institutions they manage have been shown to engage in illegal collusions with others, but the regulatory fines by governments are essentially seen as just part of doing business.'

In short, as I would characterize this description: They are devoid of a legal or moral framework to guide their actions, whether in relation to business, fellow human beings, war or the environment and climate. They are obviously typical of the elite.

Any apparent concern for people, such as that expressed by Fink and Dimon in response to the racist violence in Charlottesville, USA in August 2017, is simply designed to promote 'stability' or more precisely, a stable (that is, profitable) investment and consumer climate.

The lack of concern for people and issues that might concern many of us is also evident from a consideration of the agenda at elite gatherings. Consider the International Monetary Conference. Founded in 1956, it is a private yearly meeting of the top few hundred bankers in the world. The American Bankers Association (ABA) serves as the secretariat for the conference. But, as Phillips notes: 'Nothing on the agenda seems to address the socioeconomic consequences of investments to determine the impacts on people and the environment.' A casual perusal of the agenda at any elite gathering reveals that this comment applies equally to any elite forum. See, for example, the agenda of the recent WEF meeting in Davos . Any talk of 'concern' is misleading rhetoric.

Hence, in the words of Phillips: The 199 directors of the global Giants are 'a very select set of people. They all know each other personally or know of each other. At least 69 have attended the annual World Economic Forum, where they often serve on panels or give public presentations. They mostly attended the same elite universities, and interact in upperclass social setting[s] in the major cities of the world. They all are wealthy and have significant stock holdings in one or more of the financial Giants. They are all deeply invested in the importance of maintaining capital growth in the world. Some are sensitive to environmental and social justice issues, but they seem to be unable to link these issues to global capital concentration.'

Of course, the global elite cannot manage the world system alone: the elite requires agents to perform many of the functions necessary to control national societies and the individuals within them. 'The interests of the Global Power Elite and the TCC are fully recognized by major institutions in society. Governments, intelligence services, policymakers, universities, police forces, military, and corporate media all work in support of their vital interests.'

In other words, to elaborate Phillips' point and extend it a little, through their economic power, the Giants control all of the instruments through which their policies are implemented. Whether it be governments, national military forces, 'military contractors' or mercenaries (with at least $200 billion spent on private security globally, the industry currently employs some fifteen million people worldwide) used both in 'foreign' wars but also likely deployed in future for domestic control, key 'intelligence' agencies, legal systems and police forces, major nongovernment organizations, or the academic, educational, 'public relations propaganda', corporate media, medical, psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries, all instruments are fully responsive to elite control and are designed to misinform, deceive, disempower, intimidate, repress, imprison (in a jail or psychiatric ward), exploit and/or kill (depending on the constituency) the rest of us, as is readily evident.

Defending Elite Power

Phillips observes that the power elite continually worries about rebellion by the 'unruly exploited masses' against their structure of concentrated wealth. This is why the US military empire has long played the role of defender of global capitalism. As a result, the United States has more than 800 military bases (with some scholars suggesting 1,000) in 70 countries and territories. In comparison, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia have about 30 foreign bases. In addition, US military forces are now deployed in 70 percent of the world's nations with US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) having troops in 147 countries, an increase of 80 percent since 2010. These forces conduct counterterrorism strikes regularly, including drone assassinations and kill/capture raids.

'The US military empire stands on hundreds of years of colonial exploitation and continues to support repressive, exploitative governments that cooperate with global capital's imperial agenda. Governments that accept external capital investment, whereby a small segment of a country's elite benefits, do so knowing that capital inevitably requires a return on investment that entails using up resources and people for economic gain. The whole system continues wealth concentration for elites and expanded wretched inequality for the masses .

'Understanding permanent war as an economic relief valve for surplus capital is a vital part of comprehending capitalism in the world today. War provides investment opportunity for the Giants and TCC elites and a guaranteed return on capital. War also serves a repressive function of keeping the suffering masses of humanity afraid and compliant.'

As Phillips elaborates: This is why defense of global capital is the prime reason that NATO countries now account for 85 percent of the world's military spending; the United States spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined.

In essence, 'the Global Power Elite uses NATO and the US military empire for its worldwide security. This is part of an expanding strategy of US military domination around the world, whereby the US/ NATO military empire, advised by the power elite's Atlantic Council , operates in service to the Transnational Corporate Class for the protection of international capital everywhere in the world'.

This entails 'further pauperization of the bottom half of the world's population and an unrelenting downward spiral of wages for 80 percent of the world. The world is facing economic crisis, and the neoliberal solution is to spend less on human needs and more on security. It is a world of financial institutions run amok, where the answer to economic collapse is to print more money through quantitative easing, flooding the population with trillions of new inflation-producing dollars. It is a world of permanent war, whereby spending for destruction requires further spending to rebuild, a cycle that profits the Giants and global networks of economic power. It is a world of drone killings, extrajudicial assassinations, death, and destruction, at home and abroad.'

Where is this all heading?

So what are the implications of this state of affairs? Phillips responds unequivocally: 'This concentration of protected wealth leads to a crisis of humanity, whereby poverty, war, starvation, mass alienation, media propaganda, and environmental devastation are reaching a species-level threat. We realize that humankind is in danger of possible extinction'.

He goes on to state that the Global Power Elite is probably the only entity 'capable of correcting this condition without major civil unrest, war, and chaos' and elaborates an important aim of his book: to raise awareness of the importance of systemic change and the redistribution of wealth among both the book's general readers but also the elite, 'in the hope that they can begin the process of saving humanity.' The book's postscript is a 'A Letter to the Global Power Elite', co-signed by Phillips and 90 others, beseeching the elite to act accordingly.

'It is no longer acceptable for you to believe that you can manage capitalism to grow its way out of the gross inequalities we all now face. The environment cannot accept more pollution and waste, and civil unrest is everywhere inevitable at some point. Humanity needs you to step up and insure that trickle-down becomes a river of resources that reaches every child, every family, and all human beings. We urge you to use your power and make the needed changes for humanity's survival.'

But he also emphasizes that nonviolent social movements, using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a moral code, can accelerate the process of redistributing wealth by pressuring the elite into action.

Conclusion

Peter Phillips has written an important book. For those of us interested in understanding elite control of the world, this book is a vital addition to the bookshelf. And like any good book, as you will see from my comments both above and below, it raised more questions for me even while it answered many.

As I read Phillips' insightful and candid account of elite behavior in this regard, I am reminded, yet again, that the global power elite is extraordinarily violent and utterly insane: content to kill people in vast numbers (whether through starvation or military violence) and destroy the biosphere for profit, with zero sense of humanity's now limited future. See 'The Global Elite is Insane Revisited' and 'Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival' with more detailed explanations for the violence and insanity here: 'Why Violence?' and 'Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice' .

For this reason I do not share his faith in moral appeals to the elite, as articulated in the letter in his postscript. It is fine to make the appeal but history offers no evidence to suggest that there will be any significant response. The death and destruction inflicted by elites is highly profitable, centuries-old and ongoing. It will take powerful, strategically-focused nonviolent campaigns (or societal collapse) to compel the necessary changes in elite behavior. Hence, I fully endorse his call for nonviolent social movements to compel elite action where we cannot make the necessary changes without their involvement. See 'A Nonviolent Strategy to End Violence and Avert Human Extinction' and Nonviolent Campaign Strategy .

I would also encourage independent action, in one or more of several ways, by those individuals and communities powerful enough to do so. This includes nurturing more powerful individuals by making 'My Promise to Children' , participating in 'The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth' and signing the online pledge of 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World' .

Fundamentally, Giants: The Global Power Elite is a call to action. Professor Peter Phillips is highly aware of our predicament – politically, socially, economically, environmentally and climatically – and the critical role played by the global power elite in generating that predicament.

If we cannot persuade the global power elite to respond sensibly to that predicament, or nonviolently compel it to do so, humanity's time on Earth is indeed limited.

*

Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of 'Why Violence?' His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here . He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

[Aug 28, 2018] South Africa is cursed with neo-liberal trickle-down baloney stifling radical economic change by Kevin Humphrey

Notable quotes:
"... There is consensus between commentators who have studied the effects of neo-liberalism that it has become all pervasive and is the key to ensuring that the rich remain rich, while the poor and the merely well to do continue on a perpetual hamster's wheel, going nowhere and never improving their lot in life while they serve their masters. ..."
"... Monbiot says of this largely anonymous scourge: "Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulations should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous, a reward for utility and a genera-tor of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve." ..."
"... Senior cadres co-opted Unfortunately, history shows that some key senior cadres of the ANC were all too keen to be coopted into the neo-liberal fold and any attempts to put forward radical measures that would bring something fresh to the table to address the massive inequalities of the past were and continue to be kept off the table and we are still endlessly fed the neo-liberal trickle-down baloney. ..."
medium.com

SA is cursed with neo-liberal trickle-down baloney stifling radical economic change Kevin Humphrey, The New Age, Johannesburg, 1 December 2016

South Africa's massive inequalities are abundantly obvious to even the most casual observer. When the ANC won the elections in 1994, it came armed with a left-wing pedigree second to none, having fought a protracted liberation war in alliance with progressive forces which drew in organised labour and civic groupings.

At the dawn of democracy the tight knit tripartite alliance also carried in its wake a patchwork of disparate groupings who, while clearly supportive of efforts to rid the country of apartheid, could best be described as liberal. It was these groupings that first began the clamour of opposition to all left-wing, radical or revolutionary ideas that has by now become the constant backdrop to all conversations about the state of our country, the economy, the education system, the health services, everything. Thus was the new South Africa introduced to its own version of a curse that had befallen all countries that gained independence from oppressors, neo-colonialism.

By the time South Africa was liberated, neo-colonialism, which as always sought to buy off the libera-tors with the political kingdom while keep-ing control of the economic kingdom, had perfected itself into what has become an era where neo-liberalism reigns supreme. But what exactly is neo-liberalism? George Monbiot says: "Neo-liberalism sees competi-tion as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that 'the market' delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning."

Never improving

There is consensus between commentators who have studied the effects of neo-liberalism that it has become all pervasive and is the key to ensuring that the rich remain rich, while the poor and the merely well to do continue on a perpetual hamster's wheel, going nowhere and never improving their lot in life while they serve their masters.

Monbiot says of this largely anonymous scourge: "Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulations should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous, a reward for utility and a genera-tor of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve."

Nelson Mandela

South Africa's sad slide into neo-liberalism was given impetus at Davos in 1992 where Nelson Mandela had this to say to the assembled super rich: "We visualise a mixed economy, in which the private sector would play a central and critical role to ensure the creation of wealth and jobs. Future economic policy will also have to address such questions as security of investments and the right to repatriate earnings, realistic exchange rates, the rate of inflation and the fiscus."

Further insight into this pivotal moment was provided by Anthony Sampson, Mandela's official biographer who wrote: "It was not until February 1992, when Mandela went to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he finally turned against nationalisation. He was lionised by the world's bankers and industrialists at lunches and dinners."

This is not to cast any aspersions on Mandela, he had to make these decisions at the time to protect our democratic transition. But these utterances should have been accom-panied by a behind the scenes interrogation of all the ANC's thoughts on how to proceed in terms of the economy delivering socialist orientated solutions without falling into the minefield of neo-liberal traps that lay in wait for our emerging country.

Senior cadres co-opted Unfortunately, history shows that some key senior cadres of the ANC were all too keen to be coopted into the neo-liberal fold and any attempts to put forward radical measures that would bring something fresh to the table to address the massive inequalities of the past were and continue to be kept off the table and we are still endlessly fed the neo-liberal trickle-down baloney.

Now no one dares to express any type of radical approach to our economic woes unless it is some loony populist. Debate around these important issues is largely missing and the level of commentary on all important national questions is shockingly shallow.

Anti-labour, anti-socialist, anti-poor, anti-black The status quo as set by the largely white-owned media revolves around key neo-liberal slogans mas-querading as commentary that is anti-labour, anti-socialist and anti-poor, which sadly translates within our own context as anti-black and therefore repugnantly racist.

We live in a country where the black, over-whelmingly poor majority of our citizens have voted for a much revered liberation movement that is constantly under attack from within and without by people who do not have their best interests at heart and are brilliant at manipulating outcomes to suit themselves on a global scale.

Kevin Humphrey is associate executive editor of The New Age

[Aug 27, 2018] The brutal neoliberal experiment has ended for the boiled frog Greece - what we should be expecting next

This is Ukrainian future, unless the government neoliberal policies change...
Notable quotes:
"... The fact that Brussels euroclowns celebrated in triumph the exit of Greece from the memorandum agreement, should be taken only as a huge farce. ..."
"... Greece entered the bailout program with national debt at 120% of GDP. Now, the debt remains close to 180% of GDP! Unemployment remains at record levels. Public property has been sold-off for pennies to foreign 'investors'. Labor rights almost vanished, the situation resembles the Middle Ages. Social state and benefits severely damaged. This is the Troika 'success story'. ..."
"... This contradiction could be explained by the fact that the neoliberal regime apparatus wants to send a warning sign to Tsipras administration not to take any action without permission. It is more than certain that the tight scrutiny will be continued and Tsipras must prove to the Western neocolonialists that he will not even think to implement any anti-austerity policies. ..."
"... Without a bailout program, Greece will be left alone now to swim with the bloodthirsty sharks of the global financial mafia in the wild sea of the supposedly 'free markets'. ..."
"... Either way, the debt colony will deliver to the predators every single asset that has been left untouched. ..."
Aug 27, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

The fact that Brussels euroclowns celebrated in triumph the exit of Greece from the memorandum agreement, should be taken only as a huge farce.

The Troika (ECB, European Commission, IMF) bailout program has officially ended and the result is a scenery of disaster. If you still believe that this program has been implemented to save the Greek economy and not the Franco-German banks , take a look at the situation today.

Greece entered the bailout program with national debt at 120% of GDP. Now, the debt remains close to 180% of GDP! Unemployment remains at record levels. Public property has been sold-off for pennies to foreign 'investors'. Labor rights almost vanished, the situation resembles the Middle Ages. Social state and benefits severely damaged. This is the Troika 'success story'.

So, in reality, the experiment was indeed successful for the goals of the international capitalist predators who transformed the country into a debt colony. For more than eight years, they boiled the frog slowly with the help of Troika, and now it's impossible to escape from the hot water.

While the clowns in Brussels had to present a 'success story' to cover their huge failure and slow down the centrifugal forces against eurozone's existence and unity, the mainstream media didn't exactly celebrate. Most of the headlines were quite moderate and even alarming for the future of the Greek economy.

This contradiction could be explained by the fact that the neoliberal regime apparatus wants to send a warning sign to Tsipras administration not to take any action without permission. It is more than certain that the tight scrutiny will be continued and Tsipras must prove to the Western neocolonialists that he will not even think to implement any anti-austerity policies.

It is worth to mention that most of the neutral/pessimistic headlines came from the Anglo-American mainstream media. This could be also considered another indication about the level of deterioration in the relations between the Anglo-American axis and the Brussels-Berlin axis, inside the Western camp.

Without a bailout program, Greece will be left alone now to swim with the bloodthirsty sharks of the global financial mafia in the wild sea of the supposedly 'free markets'. The fear of the Greek government in front of such a perspective became quite evident when Greece 'decided' to expel two Russian diplomats in order to take a small gift by Standard and Poor's .

Greece will have to give much more to the Western neoliberal predators. Otherwise, the rating agencies will be ordered to attack again and force the ruined Greek economy into another round of disastrous bailouts.

Either way, the debt colony will deliver to the predators every single asset that has been left untouched.

[Aug 26, 2018] "Creating Wealth" through debt- the West's Finance-Capitalist road by Michael Hudson

Notable quotes:
"... This financial dynamic has hijacked industrial capitalism. It is leading economies to polarize and ultimately collapse under the weight of their debt burden. That is the inherent dynamic of finance capitalism. The debt overhead leads to a financial crisis that becomes an opportunity to impose emergency rule to replace democratic lawmaking. So contrary to Hayek's anti-government "free enterprise" warnings, "slippery slope" to totalitarianism is not by socialist reforms limiting the rentier class's extraction of economic rent and interest, but just the opposite: the failure of society to check the rentier extraction of income vesting a hereditary autocracy whose financial and rent-seeking business plan impoverishes the economy at large. ..."
May 05, 2018 | www.newcoldwar.org

Originally appeared in Counterpunch

Text of Michael Hudson's speech on debt and the world economy, presented at Peking University's School of Marxist Studies, May 5-6, 2018.


Volumes II and III of Marx's Capital describe how debt grows exponentially, burdening the economy with carrying charges. This overhead is subjecting today's Western finance-capitalist economies to austerity, shrinking living standards and capital investment while increasing their cost of living and doing business. That is the main reason why they are losing their export markets and becoming de-industrialized.

What policies are best suited for China to avoid this neo-rentier disease while raising living standards in a fair and efficient low-cost economy? The most pressing policy challenge is to keep down the cost of housing. Rising housing prices mean larger and larger debts extracting interest out of the economy. The strongest way to prevent this is to tax away the rise in land prices, collecting the rental value for the government instead of letting it be pledged to the banks as mortgage interest.

The same logic applies to public collection of natural resource and monopoly rents. Failure to tax them away will enable banks to create debt against these rents, building financial and other rentier charges into the pricing of basic needs.

U.S. and European business schools are part of the problem, not part of the solution. They teach the tactics of asset stripping and how to replace industrial engineering with financial engineering, as if financialization creates wealth faster than the debt burden. Having rapidly pulled ahead over the past three decades, China must remain free of rentier ideology that imagines wealth to be created by debt-leveraged inflation of real-estate and financial asset prices.

Western capitalism has not turned out the way that Marx expected. He was optimistic in forecasting that industrial capitalists would gain control of government to free economies from unnecessary costs of production in the form of rent and interest that increase the cost of living (and hence, the break-even wage level). Along with most other economists of his day, he expected rentier income and the ownership of land, natural resources and banking to be taken out of the hands of the hereditary aristocracies that had held them since Europe's feudal epoch. Socialism was seen as the logical extension of classical political economy, whose main policy was to abolish rent paid to landlords and interest paid to banks and bondholders.

A century ago there was an almost universal belief in mixed economies. Governments were expected to tax away land rent and natural resource rent, regulate monopolies to bring prices in line with actual cost value, and create basic infrastructure with money created by their own treasury or central bank. Socializing land rent was the core of Physiocracy and the economics of Adam Smith, whose logic was refined by Alfred Marshall, Simon Patten and other bourgeois economists of the late 19th century. That was the path that European and American capitalism seemed to be following in the decades leading up to World War I. That logic sought to use the government to support industry instead of the landlord and financial classes.

China is progressing along this "mixed economy" road to socialism, but Western economies are suffering from a resurgence of the pre-capitalist rentier classes. Their slogan of "small government" means a shift in planning to finance, real estate and monopolies. This economic philosophy is reversing the logic of industrial capitalism, replacing public investment and subsidy with privatization and rent extraction. The Western economies' tax shift favoring finance and real estate is a case in point. It reverses John Stuart Mill's "Ricardian socialism" based on public collection of the land's rental value and the "unearned increment" of rising land prices.

Defining economic rent as the unnecessary margin of prices over intrinsic cost value, classical economists through Marx described rentiers as being economically parasitic, not productive. Rentiers do not "earn" their land rent, interest or monopoly rent, because it has no basis in real cost-value (ultimately reducible to labor costs). The political, fiscal and regulatory reforms that followed from this value and rent theory were an important factor leading to Marx's value theory and historical materialism. The political thrust of this theory explains why it is no longer being taught.

By the late 19th century the rentiers fought back, sponsoring reaction against the socialist implications of classical value and rent theory. In America, John Bates Clark denied that economic rent was unearned. He redefined it as payment for the landlords' labor and enterprise, not as accruing "in their sleep," as J. S. Mill had characterized it. Interest was depicted as payment for the "service" of lending productively, not as exploitation. Everyone's income and wealth was held to represent payment for their contribution to production. The thrust of this approach was epitomized by Milton Friedman's Chicago School claim that "there is no such thing as a free lunch" – in contrast to classical economics saying that feudalism's legacy of privatized land ownership, bank credit and monopolies was all about how to get a free lunch, by exploitation.

The other major reaction against classical and Marxist theory was English and Austrian "utility" theory. Focusing on consumer psychology instead of production costs, it claimed that there is no difference between value and price. A price is whatever consumers "choose" to pay for commodities, based on the "utility" that these provide – defined by circular reasoning as being equal to the price they pay. Producers are assumed to invest and produce goods to "satisfy consumer demand," as if consumers are the driving force of economies, not capitalists, property owners or financial managers.

Using junk-psychology, interest was portrayed as what bankers or bondholders "abstain" from consuming, lending their self-denial of spending to "impatient" consumers and "credit-worthy" entrepreneurs. This view opposed the idea of interest as a predatory charge levied by hereditary wealth and the privatized monopoly right to create bank credit. Marx quipped that in this view, the Rothschilds must be Europe's most self-depriving and abstaining family, not as suffering from wealth-addiction.

These theories that all income is earned and that consumers (the bourgeois term for wage-earners) instead of capitalists determine economic policy were a reaction against the classical value and rent theory that paved the way for Marx's analysis. After analyzing industrial business cycles in terms of under-consumption or over-production in Volume I of Capital, Volume III dealt with the precapitalist financial problem inherited from feudalism and the earlier "ancient" mode of production: the tendency of an economy's debts to grow by the "purely mathematical law" of compound interest.

Any rate of interest may be thought of as a doubling time. What doubles is not real growth, but the parasitic financial burden on this growth. The more the debt burden grows, the less income is left for spending on goods and services. More than any of his contemporaries, Marx emphasized the tendency for debt to grow exponentially, at compound interest, extracting more and more income from the economy at large as debts double and redouble, beyond the ability of debtors to pay. This slows investment in new means of production, because it shrinks domestic markets for output.

Marx explained that the credit system is external to the means of production. It existed in ancient times, feudal Europe, and has survived industrial capitalism to exist even in socialist economies. At issue in all these economic systems is how to prevent the growth of debt and its interest charge from shrinking economies. Marx believed that the natural thrust of industrial capitalism was to replace private banking and money creation with public money and credit. He distinguished interest-bearing debt under industrial capitalism as, for the first time, a means of financing capital investment. It thus was potentially productive by funding capital to produce a profit that was sufficient to pay off the debt.

Industrial banking was expected to finance industrial capital formation, as was occurring in Germany in Marx's day. Marx's examples of industrial balance sheets accordingly assumed debt. In contrast to Ricardo's analysis of capitalism's Armageddon resulting from rising land-rent, Marx expected capitalism to free itself from political dominance by the landlord class, as well as from the precapitalist legacy of usury.

This kind of classical free market viewed capitalism's historical role as being to free the economy from the overhead of unproductive "usury" debt, along with the problem of absentee landownership and private ownership of monopolies – what Lenin called the economy's "commanding heights" in the form of basic infrastructure. Governments would make industries competitive by providing basic needs freely or at least at much lower public prices than privatized economies could match.

This reform program of industrial capitalism was beginning to occur in Germany and the United States, but Marx recognized that such evolution would not be smooth and automatic. Managing economies in the interest of the wage earners who formed the majority of the population would require revolution where reactionary interests fought to prevent society from going beyond the "bourgeois socialism" that stopped short of nationalizing the land, monopolies and banking.

World War I untracked even this path of "bourgeois socialism." Rentier forces fought to prevent reform, and banks focused on lending against collateral already in place, not on financing new means of production. The result of this return to pre-industrial bank credit is that some 80 percent of bank lending in the United States and Britain now takes the form of real estate mortgages. The effect is to turn the land's rental yield into interest.

That rent-into-interest transformation gives bankers a strong motive to oppose taxing land rent, knowing that they will end up with whatever the tax collector relinquishes. Most of the remaining bank lending is concentrated in loans for corporate takeovers, mergers and acquisitions, and consumer loans. Corporate capital investment in today's West is not financed by bank credit, but almost entirely out of retained corporate earnings, and secondarily out of stock issues.

The stock market itself has become extractive. Corporate earnings are used for stock buybacks and higher dividend payouts, not for new tangible investment. This financial strategy was made explicit by Harvard Business School Professor Michael Jensen, who advocated that salaries and bonuses for corporate managers should be based on how much they can increase the price of their companies' stock, not on how much they increased or production and/or business size. Some 92 percent of corporate profits in recent years have been spent on stock buyback programs and dividend payouts. That leaves only about 8 percent available to be re-invested in new means of production and hiring. Corporate America's financial managers are turning financialized companies into debt-ridden corporate shells.

A major advantage of a government as chief banker and credit creator is that when debts come to outstrip the means to pay, the government can write down the debt. That is how China's banks have operated. It is a prerequisite for saving companies from bankruptcy and preventing their ownership from being transferred to foreigners, raiders or vultures.

Classical tax and banking policies were expected to streamline industrial economies, lowering their cost structures as governments replaced landlords as owner of the land and natural resources (as in China today) and creating their own money and credit. But despite Marx's understanding that this would have been the most logical way for industrial capitalism to evolve, finance capitalism has failed to fund capital formation. Finance capitalism has hijacked industrial capitalism, and neoliberalism is its anti-classical ideology.

The result of today's alliance of the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector with natural resource and infrastructure monopolies has been to reverse that the 20th century's reforms promoting progressive taxation of wealth and income. Industrial capitalism in the West has been detoured along the road to rent-extracting privatization, austerity and debt serfdom.

The result is a double-crisis: austerity stemming from debt deflation, while public health, communications, information technology, transportation and other basic infrastructure are privatized by corporate monopolies that raise prices charged to labor and industry. The debt crisis spans government debt (state and local as well as national), corporate debt, real estate mortgage debt and personal debt, causing austerity that shrinks the "real" economy as its assets and income are stripped away to service the exponentially growing debt overhead. The economy polarizes as income and wealth ownership are shifted to the neo-rentier alliance headed by the financial sector.

This veritable counter-revolution has inverted the classical concept of free markets. Instead of advocating a public role to lower the cost structure of business and labor, the neoliberal ideal excludes public infrastructure and government ownership of natural monopolies, not to speak of industrial production. Led by bank lobbyists, neoliberalism even opposes public regulation of finance and monopolies to keep their prices in line with socially necessary cost of production.

To defend this economic counter-revolution, the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures now used throughout the world were inspired by opposition to progressive taxation and public ownership of land and banks. These statistical measures depicting finance, insurance and real estate as the leaders of wealth creation, not the creators merely of debt and rentier overhead.

What is China's "Real" GDP and "real wealth creation"?

Rejection of classical value theory's focus on economic rent – the excess of market price over intrinsic labor cost – underlies the post-classical concept of GDP. Classical rent theory warned against the FIRE sector siphoning off nominal growth in wealth and income. The economics of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, J.S. Mill and Marx share in common the view that this rentier revenue should be treated as an overhead charge and, as such, subtracted from national income and product because it is not production-related. Being extraneous to the production process, this rentier overhead is responsible for today's debt deflation and economically extractive privatization that is imposing austerity and shrinking markets from North America to Europe.

The West's debt crisis is aggravated by privatizing monopolies (on credit) that historically have belonged to the public sector. Instead of recognizing the virtues of a mixed economy, Frederick Hayek and his followers from Ayn Rand to Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, the Chicago School and libertarian Republicans have claimed that any public ownership or regulation is, ipso facto, a step toward totalitarian politics.

Following this ideology, Alan Greenspan aborted economic regulation and decriminalized financial fraud. He believed that in principle, the massive bank fraud, junk-mortgage lending and corporate raiding that led up to the 2008 crisis was more efficient than regulating such activities or prosecuting fraudsters.

This is the neoliberal ideology taught in U.S. and European business schools. It assumes that whatever increases financial wealth most quickly is the most efficient for society as a whole. It also assumes that bankers will find honest dealing to be more in their economic self-interest than fraud, because customers would shun fraudulent bankers. But along with the mathematics of compound interest, the inherent dynamic of finance capitalism is to establish a monopoly and capture government regulatory agencies, the justice system, central bank and Treasury to prevent any alternative policy and the prosecution of fraud.

The aim is to get rich by purely financial means – by increasing stock-market prices, not by tangible capital formation. That is the opposite of the industrial logic of expanding the economy and its markets. Instead of creating a more productive economy and raising living standards, finance capitalism is imposing austerity by diverting wage income and also corporate income to pay rising debt service, health insurance and payments to privatized monopolies. Progressive income and wealth taxation has been reversed, siphoning off wages to subsidize privatization by the rentier class.

This combination of debt overgrowth and regressive fiscal policy has produced two results. First, combining debt deflation with fiscal deflation leaves only about a third of wage income available to be spent on the products of labor. Paying interest, rents and taxes – and monopoly prices – shrinks the domestic market for goods and services.

Second, adding debt service, monopoly prices and a tax shift to the cost of living and doing business renders neo-rentier economies high-cost. That is why the U.S. economy has been deindustrialized and its Midwest turned into a Rust Belt.

How Marx's economic schema explains the West's neo-rentier problem

In Volume I of Capital, Marx described the dynamics and "law of motion" of industrial capitalism and its periodic crises. The basic internal contradiction that capitalism has to solve is the inability of wage earners to be paid enough to buy the commodities they produce. This has been called overproduction or underconsumption, but Marx believed that the problem was in principle only temporary, not permanent.

Volumes II and III of Marx's Capital described a pre-capitalist form of crisis, independent of the industrial economy: Debt grows exponentially, burdening the economy and finally bringing its expansion to an end with a financial crash. That descent into bankruptcy, foreclosure and the transfer of property from debtors to creditors is the dynamic of Western finance capitalism. Subjecting economies to austerity, economic shrinkage, emigration, shorter life spans and hence depopulation, it is at the root of the 2008 debt legacy and the fate of the Baltic states, Ireland, Greece and the rest of southern Europe, as it was earlier the financial dynamic of Third World countries in the 1960s through 1990s under IMF austerity programs. When public policy is turned over to creditors, they use their power for is asset stripping, insisting that all debts must be paid without regard for how this destroys the economy at large.

China has managed to avoid this dynamic. But to the extent that it sends its students to study in U.S. and European business schools, they are taught the tactics of asset stripping instead of capital formation – how to be extractive, not productive. They are taught that privatization is more desirable than public ownership, and that financialization creates wealth faster than it creates a debt burden. The product of such education therefore is not knowledge but ignorance and a distortion of good policy analysis. Baltic austerity is applauded as the "Baltic Miracle," not as demographic collapse and economic shrinkage.

The experience of post-Soviet economies when neoliberals were given a free hand after 1991 provides an object lesson. Much the same fate has befallen Greece, along with the rising indebtedness of other economies to foreign bondholders and to their own rentier class operating out of capital-flight centers. Economies are obliged to suspend democratic government policy in favor of emergency creditor control.

The slow economic crash and debt deflation of these economies is depicted as a result of "market choice." It turns out to be a "choice" for economic stagnation. All this is rationalized by the economic theory taught in Western economics departments and business schools. Such education is an indoctrination in stupidity – the kind of tunnel vision that Thorstein Veblen called the "trained incapacity" to understand how economies really work.

Most private fortunes in the West have stemmed from housing and other real estate financed by debt. Until the 2008 crisis the magnitude of this property wealth was expanded largely by asset-price inflation, aggravated by the reluctance of governments to do what Adams Smith, John Stuart Mill, Alfred Marshall and nearly all 19th-century classical economists recommended: to keep land rent out of private hands, and to make the rise in land's rental value serve as the tax base.

Failure to tax the land leaves its rental value "free" to be pledged as interest to banks – which make larger and larger loans by lending against rising debt ratios. This "easy credit" raises the price of obtaining home ownership. Sellers celebrate the result as "wealth creation," and the mainstream media depict the middle class as growing richer by higher prices for the homes its members have bought. But the debt-financed rise in housing prices ultimately creates wealth mainly for banks and their bondholders.

Americans now have to pay up to 43 percent of their income for mortgage debt service, federally guaranteed. This imposes such high costs for home ownership that it is pricing the products of U.S. labor out of world markets. The pretense is that using bank credit (that is, homebuyers' mortgage debt) to inflate the price of housing makes U.S. workers and the middle class prosperous by enabling them to sell their homes to a new generation of buyers at higher and higher prices each generation. This certainly does not make the buyers more prosperous. It diverts their income away from buying the products of labor to pay interest to banks for housing prices inflated on bank credit.

Consumer spending throughout most of the world aims above all at achieving status. In the West this status rests largely on one's home and neighborhood, its schools, transportation and other public investment. Land-price gains resulting from public investment in transportation, parks and schools, other urban amenities and infrastructure, and from re-zoning land use. In the West this rising rental value is turned into a cost, falling on homebuyers, who must borrow more from the banks. The result is that public spending ultimately enriches the banks – at the tax collector's expense.

Debt is the great threat to modern China's development. Burdening economies with a rentier overhead imposes the quasi-feudal charges from which classical 19th-century economists hoped to free industrial capitalism. The best protection against this rentier burden is simple: first, tax away the land's rising rental valuation to prevent it from being paid out for bank loans; and second, keep control of banks in public hands. Credit is necessary, but should be directed productively and debts written down when paying them threatens to create financial Armageddon.

Marx's views on the broad dynamics of economic history

Plato and Aristotle described a grand pattern of history. In their minds, this pattern was eternally recurrent. Looking over three centuries of Greek experience, Aristotle found a perpetual triangular sequence of democracy turning into oligarchy, whose members made themselves into a hereditary aristocracy – and then some families sought to take the demos into their own camp by sponsoring democracy, which in turn led to wealthy families replacing it with an oligarchy, and so on.

The medieval Islamic philosopher Ibn Khaldun saw history as a rise and fall. Societies rose to prosperity and power when leaders mobilized the ethic of mutual aid to gain broad support as a communal spirit raised all members. But prosperity tended to breed selfishness, especially in ruling dynasties, which Ibn Khaldun thought had a life cycle of only about 120 years. By the 19th century, Scottish Enlightenment philosophers elaborated this rise-and-fall theory, applying it to regimes whose success bred arrogance and oligarchy.

Marx saw the long sweep of history as following a steady upward secular trend, from the ancient slavery-and-usury mode of production through feudalism to industrial capitalism. And not only Marx but nearly all 19th-century classical economists assumed that socialism in one form or another would be the stage following industrial capitalism in this upward technological and economic trajectory.

Instead, Western industrial capitalism turned into finance capitalism. In Aristotelian terms the shift was from proto-democracy to oligarchy. Instead of freeing industrial capitalism from landlords, natural resource owners and monopolists, Western banks and bondholders joined forces with them, seeing them as major customers for as much interest-bearing credit as would absorb the economic rent that governments would refrain from taxing. Their success has enabled banks and bondholders to replace landlords as the major rentier class. Antithetical to socialism, this retrogression towards feudal rentier privilege let real estate, financial interests and monopolists exploit the economy by creating an expanding debt wedge.

Marx's Theories of Surplus Value (German Mehrwert), his history of classical political economy, poked fun at David Ricardo's warning of economic Armageddon if economies let landlords siphon off of all industrial profits to pay land rent. Profits and hence capital investment would grind to a halt. But as matters have turned out, Ricardo's rentier Armageddon is being created by his own banking class. Corporate profits are being devoured by interest payments for corporate takeover debts and related financial charges to reward bondholders and raiders, and by financial engineering using stock buybacks and higher dividend payouts to create "capital" gains at the expense of tangible capital formation. Profits also are reduced by firms having to pay higher wages to cover the cost of debt-financed housing, education and other basic expenses for workers.

This financial dynamic has hijacked industrial capitalism. It is leading economies to polarize and ultimately collapse under the weight of their debt burden. That is the inherent dynamic of finance capitalism. The debt overhead leads to a financial crisis that becomes an opportunity to impose emergency rule to replace democratic lawmaking. So contrary to Hayek's anti-government "free enterprise" warnings, "slippery slope" to totalitarianism is not by socialist reforms limiting the rentier class's extraction of economic rent and interest, but just the opposite: the failure of society to check the rentier extraction of income vesting a hereditary autocracy whose financial and rent-seeking business plan impoverishes the economy at large.

Greece's debt crisis has all but abolished its democracy as foreign creditors have taken control, superseding the authority of elected officials. From New York City's bankruptcy to Puerto Rico's insolvency and Third World debtors subjected to IMF "austerity programs," national bankruptcies shift control to centralized financial planners in what Naomi Klein has called Crisis Capitalism. Planning ends up centralized not in the hands of elected government but in financial centers, which become the de facto government.

England and America set their economic path on this road under Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan by 1980. They were followed by even more pro-financial privatization leaders in Tony Blair's New Labour Party and Bill Clinton's New Democrats seeking to roll back a century of classical reforms and policies that gradually were moving capitalism toward socialism. Instead, these countries are suffering a rollback to neofeudalism, whose neo-rentiereconomic and political ideology has become mainstream throughout the West. Despite seeing that this policy has led to North America and Europe losing their former economic lead, the financial power elite is simply taking its money and running.

So we are brought back to the question of what this means for China's educational policy and also how it depicts economic statistics to distinguish between wealth and overhead. The great advantage of such a distinction is to help steer economic growth along productive lines favoring tangible capital formation instead of policies to get rich by taking on more and more debt and by prying property away from the public domain.

If China's main social objective is to increase real output to raise living standards for its population – while minimizing unproductive overhead and economic inequality – then it is time to consider developing its own accounting format to trace its progress (or shortcomings) along these lines. Measuring how its income and wealth are being obtained would track how the economy is moving closer toward what Marx called socialism.

Of special importance, such an accounting format would revive Marx's classical distinction between earned and unearned income. Its statistics would show how much of the rise in wealth (and expenditure) in China – or any other nation – is a result of new tangible capital formation as compared to higher rents, lending and interest, or the stock market.

These statistics would isolate income and fortunes obtained by zero-sum transfer payments such as the rising rental value of land sites, natural resources and basic infrastructure monopolies. National accounts also would trace overhead charges for interest and related financial charges, as well as the economy's evolving credit and debt structure. That would enable China to measure the economic effects of the banking privileges and other property rights given to some people.

That is not the aim of Western national income statistics. In fact, applying the accounting structure described above would track how Western economies are polarizing as a result of their higher economic rent and interest payments crowding out spending on actual goods and services. This kind of contrast would help explain global trends in pricing and competitiveness. Distinguishing the FIRE sector from the rest of the economy would enable China to compare its economic cost trends and overhead relative to those of other nations. I believe that these statistics would show that its progress toward socialism also will explain the remarkable economic advantage it has obtained. If China does indeed make this change, it will help people both in and out of China see even more clearly what your government is doing on behalf of the majority of its people. This may help other governments – including my own – learn from your example and praise it instead of fearing it.

[Aug 23, 2018] The Greece Bailout s Legacy of Immiseration by James K. Galbraith

Aug 20, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press

The Greece Bailout's Legacy of Immiseration | by James K. Galbraith 22/08/2018

Note from the author : As friends have quickly pointed out, the situation is even worse than described here. Quarterly reviews by the troika will continue. The German Bundestag will still vote on any debt deferrals, and -- as I do stress -- the crushing austerity will continue indefinitely. A nightmare.

2010 to 2018 will go down in Greek history as an epic period of colonization; of asset stripping and privatization; of unfunded health and education; of bankruptcies, foreclosures, homelessness, and impoverishment; of unemployment, emigration, and suicide. These were the years of the three memoranda, or "financial-assistance programs" accompanied by "structural reforms," enacted supposedly to promote Greek "recovery" from the slump and credit crunch of 2010. They were, in fact, a fraud perpetrated on Greece and Europe, a jumble of bad policies based on crude morality tales that catered to right-wing politics to cover up unpayable debts.

This was a bailout? The word reeks of indulgence and implied disapproval. As it was often said, "The Greeks had their party and now they must pay." Yes, there was a party -- for oligarchs with ships and London homes and Swiss bank accounts, for the military, for engineering and construction and armaments companies from Germany and France and the United States. And yes, there was a bailout. It came from Europe's taxpayers, and went to the troubled banks of France and Germany. Greece was merely the pass-through, and the Greeks who paid dearly with their livelihoods were just the patsies in the deal. The third "memorandum of understanding" expires today.

With Greece's completion of a three-year, 61.9-billion-euro eurozone emergency-loan package, it can once again borrow at market rates. The expiration of the memorandum also ends, for now, the direct control by Europe's "troika" -- the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank -- over the Greek government. But its conditions, constraints, and consequences will endure. Read also: Conference of the modern Left in Iceland: learning from each other

Back in 2010, Greece, along with Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy, was definitely in trouble. The Great Financial Crisis crashed into all of Europe, but it hit the weaker countries hardest -- and Greece was the weakest of them all. Its economy shrunk by a quarter, and youth unemployment rose to roughly 50 percent. The memorandum was, for all concerned, the easy way out. It started a game of "extend and pretend" on the Greek debt, based on optimistic forecasts and on policies of reform that had no basis in the reality of Greek economic conditions.

The policies came from the IMF -- its standard repertory of austerity and "reform." But its staff and directors knew from the beginning that these measures would not suffice. IMF executive directors from Australia, Switzerland, Brazil, and China voiced objections. Channels were therefore bypassed, objections ignored. The Fund was nearly out of work and money because of the failures of its programs -- and the relative success of countries that ignored them -- all over the world. And its managing director at the time wished to be the next president of France. So Greece, which is to say its creditors -- especially French and German banks -- received the largest loan in IMF history (relative to its ownership share). And that 289-billion-euro loan came largely from U.S. taxpayers.

In Athens, teams of functionaries from the Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission came to Greece, where they stayed in fancy hotels at Greek expense and were escorted by uniformed police from ministry to ministry to dictate policy in detail. (Such a nice gig, in a warm and sunny place, so close to the sea.) In 2015, they were lodged for a time in a four-star hotel, deprived of their convoys, and given protection by elite forces dressed in plain clothes. They didn't like that at all, and their bosses, Mario Draghi and Christine Lagarde, complained loudly on their behalf.

Read also: Berlin goes on with self-defeating policies. Now they encourage Scotland to secede!

And what of the policies? Public assets were to be dumped en masse at fire-sale prices, but only if they were already profitable. (Regional airports making losses, for example, stayed with the state.) Dutch dairies and German drug companies were taken care of. Labor markets were deregulated while collective bargaining was wiped out -- an unethical experiment on an untenable premise. Neither German nor Chinese industry was moving to Greece even if the Greeks worked for free. The value-added tax was raised, pensions were cut, and hundreds of thousands of civil servants were sacked. Ministries lost cleaning ladies, who set up camp, bless them, in front of the Ministry of Finance. The Greeks rebelled in 2015, as they were right to do. But the European Central Bank held the high card: It could shut the banks and confiscate deposits, forcing Greece out of the euro and perhaps out of the European Union. The government, undermined from within, capitulated. The third memorandum was signed, and Syriza, the left-wing coalition that had swept into power in January, by that July had become the model prisoner of the European elites.

The irony is that in 2012 Greece's debts were already postponed, so that from late 2015 to 2022 there would be a grace period with relatively few major payments due. Now there is a primary-budget surplus and the markets need not be tested. So the memorandum can end, but austerity will not; the debt still looms in the long term, so the commitment to surplus extends for more than 40 years. In any event, the Greeks' will to resistance appears to have been broken, so it seems safe enough to leave them alone. For now.

But the damage done extends far beyond Greece. The cynicism and brutality of what happened there is for everyone to see. The fact that Europe imposed a policy of privation on one of its weakest members -- not for its own sake, and not with any expectation of economic success, but to intimidate the Italians and the French, as the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble conceded to the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis privately in 2015 -- was not lost on British voters who chose Brexit in 2016. The Greek debacle helped to turn the French left against Europe, and fueled the inchoate coalition now in power in Italy. The German and east European far right is surely not motivated by sympathy -- on the contrary, they despise the Greeks. But they do resent the supposed "solidarity" -- a fiction if ever there was one -- that Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and her allies invoked to sell their parliaments and voters on the idea of the Greek loans.

Read also: The IMF wants to appoint Prime Ministers. They want a Greek Macron in Athens

Europe is therefore rotting Hat both ends. Its economy must remain unified, but it is coming apart at its political seams. It needs institutions and policies of social stabilization, financial reform, and full employment -- a dramatic change in ideas and action at the continental level to thwart the rising tide of nationalist reaction. There is therefore a growing sense, among those who are watching closely, that a major democratic reform -- a New Deal for Europe -- is the only way to hold it together in the long run.

* James K. Galbraith is author of Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe . In 2015 he served as an informal assistant to the finance minister of Greece.

;

[Aug 23, 2018] The War Piece to End All War Pieces Or How to Fight a War of Ultimate Repetitiousness by Tom Engelhardt

Notable quotes:
"... Here, for instance, is what I wrote about our Afghan War in 2008, almost seven years after it began, when the U.S. Air Force took out a bridal party, including the bride herself and at least 26 other women and children en route to an Afghan wedding. And that would be just one of eight U.S. wedding strikes I toted up by the end of 2013 in three countries, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, that killed almost 300 potential revelers. "We have become a nation of wedding crashers," I wrote, "the uninvited guests who arrived under false pretenses, tore up the place, offered nary an apology, and refused to go home." ..."
"... Thought of another way, the U.S. military is now heading into record territory in Afghanistan. In the mid-1970s, the rare American who had heard of that country knew it only as a stop on the hippie trail . If you had then told anyone here that, by 2018, the U.S. would have been at war there for 27 years ( 1979-1989 and 2001-2018), he or she would have laughed in your face. And yet here we are, approaching the mark for one of Europe's longest, most brutal struggles, the Thirty Years' War of the seventeenth century. Imagine that. ..."
"... raison d'être ..."
"... Afganistan is the graveyard of poor empires. It's the playground of the rich American empire, a place to test weapons, test men, gain battle experience, get promotions, and generally keep the military-industrial complex in top health. If it didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. ..."
"... As shown in this article there is a very interesting connection between growing wealth inequality in the United States and American wars: https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/07/how-american-wars-lead-to-increased.html ..."
"... it's not a war; it's an occupation. More cops get killed/wounded in USA proper then military personnel in that "war". 2017, 46 U.S. police officers were killed by felons in the line of duty; 17 military personnel in Afghanistan. ..."
"... Yes , the US military industrial complex is rich and in top health as you say , but what I see is that the health of the US as a whole , physical and mental , is going down in the last 50 years . Maybe the metastasis of the " healthy " military cancer are killing the American host . ..."
Aug 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

Fair warning. Stop reading right now if you want, because I'm going to repeat myself. What choice do I have, since my subject is the Afghan War (America's second Afghan War, no less)? I began writing about that war in October 2001, almost 17 years ago, just after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. That was how I inadvertently launched the unnamed listserv that would, a year later, become TomDispatch . Given the website's continuing focus on America's forever wars (a phrase I first used in 2010 ), what choice have I had but to write about Afghanistan ever since?

So think of this as the war piece to end all war pieces. And let the repetition begin!

Here, for instance, is what I wrote about our Afghan War in 2008, almost seven years after it began, when the U.S. Air Force took out a bridal party, including the bride herself and at least 26 other women and children en route to an Afghan wedding. And that would be just one of eight U.S. wedding strikes I toted up by the end of 2013 in three countries, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, that killed almost 300 potential revelers. "We have become a nation of wedding crashers," I wrote, "the uninvited guests who arrived under false pretenses, tore up the place, offered nary an apology, and refused to go home."

Here's what I wrote about Afghanistan in 2009, while considering the metrics of "a war gone to hell": "While Americans argue feverishly and angrily over what kind of money, if any, to put into health care, or decaying infrastructure, or other key places of need, until recently just about no one in the mainstream raised a peep about the fact that, for nearly eight years (not to say much of the last three decades), we've been pouring billions of dollars, American military know-how, and American lives into a black hole in Afghanistan that is, at least in significant part, of our own creation."

Here's what I wrote in 2010, thinking about how "forever war" had entered the bloodstream of the twenty-first-century U.S. military (in a passage in which you'll notice a name that became more familiar in the Trump era): "And let's not leave out the Army's incessant planning for the distant future embodied in a recently published report, 'Operating Concept, 2016-2028,' overseen by Brigadier General H.R. McMaster, a senior adviser to Gen. David Petraeus. It opts to ditch 'Buck Rogers' visions of futuristic war, and instead to imagine counterinsurgency operations, grimly referred to as 'wars of exhaustion,' in one, two, many Afghanistans to the distant horizon."

Here's what I wrote in 2012, when Afghanistan had superseded Vietnam as the longest war in American history: "Washington has gotten itself into a situation on the Eurasian mainland so vexing and perplexing that Vietnam has finally been left in the dust. In fact, if you hadn't noticed -- and weirdly enough no one has -- that former war finally seems to have all but vanished."

Here's what I wrote in 2015, thinking about the American taxpayer dollars that had, in the preceding years, gone into Afghan "roads to nowhere, ghost soldiers, and a $43 million gas station" built in the middle of nowhere, rather than into this country: "Clearly, Washington had gone to war like a drunk on a bender, while the domestic infrastructure began to fray. At $109 billion by 2014, the American reconstruction program in Afghanistan was already, in today's dollars, larger than the Marshall Plan (which helped put all of devastated Western Europe back on its feet after World War II) and still the country was a shambles."

And here's what I wrote last year thinking about the nature of our never-ending war there: "Right now, Washington is whistling past the graveyard. In Afghanistan and Pakistan the question is no longer whether the U.S. is in command, but whether it can get out in time. If not, the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, the Indians, who exactly will ride to our rescue? Perhaps it would be more prudent to stop hanging out in graveyards. They are, after all, meant for burials, not resurrections."

And that's just to dip a toe into my writings on America's all-time most never-ending war.

What Happened After History Ended

... ... ...

In reality, when it comes to America's spreading wars , especially the one in Afghanistan, history didn't end at all. It just stumbled onto some graveyard version of a Möbius strip. In contrast to the past empires that found they ultimately couldn't defeat Afghanistan's insurgent tribal warriors, the U.S. has -- as Bush administration officials suspected at the time -- proven unique. Just not in the way they imagined.

Their dreams couldn't have been more ambitious. As they launched the invasion of Afghanistan, they were already looking past the triumph to come to Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the glories that would follow once his regime had been "decapitated," once U.S. forces, the most technologically advanced ever, were stationed for an eternity in the heart of the oil heartlands of the Greater Middle East. Not that anyone remembers anymore, but Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and the rest of that crew of geopolitical dreamers wanted it all.

What they got was no less unique in history: a great power at the seeming height of its strength and glory, with destructive capabilities beyond imagining and a military unmatched on the planet, unable to score a single decisive victory across an increasingly large swath of the planet or impose its will, however brutally, on seemingly far weaker, less well-armed opponents. They could not conquer, subdue, control, pacify, or win the hearts and minds or anything else of enemies who often fought their trillion-dollar foe using weaponry valued at the price of a pizza . Talk about bleeding wounds!

A War of Abysmal Repetition

Thought of another way, the U.S. military is now heading into record territory in Afghanistan. In the mid-1970s, the rare American who had heard of that country knew it only as a stop on the hippie trail . If you had then told anyone here that, by 2018, the U.S. would have been at war there for 27 years ( 1979-1989 and 2001-2018), he or she would have laughed in your face. And yet here we are, approaching the mark for one of Europe's longest, most brutal struggles, the Thirty Years' War of the seventeenth century. Imagine that.

... ... ...

Almost 17 years and, coincidentally enough, 17 U.S. commanders later, think of it as a war of abysmal repetition. Just about everything in the U.S. manual of military tactics has evidently been tried (including dropping "the mother of all bombs," the largest non-nuclear munition in that military's arsenal), often time and again, and nothing has even faintly done the trick -- to which the Pentagon's response is invariably a version of the classic misquoted movie line, "Play it again, Sam."

And yet, amid all that repetition, people are still dying ; Afghans and others are being uprooted and displaced across Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and deep into Africa; wars and terror outfits are spreading. And here's a simple enough fact that's worth repeating: the endless, painfully ignored failure of the U.S. military (and civilian) effort in Afghanistan is where it all began and where it seems never to end.

A Victory for Whom?

Every now and then, there's the odd bit of news that reminds you we don't have to be in a world of repetition. Every now and then, you see something and wonder whether it might not represent a new development, one that possibly could lead out of (or far deeper into) the graveyard of empires.

As a start, though it's been easy to forget in these years, other countries are affected by the ongoing disaster of a war in Afghanistan. Think, for instance, of Pakistan (with a newly elected, somewhat Trumpian president who has been a critic of America's Afghan War and of U.S. drone strikes in his country), Iran, China, and Russia. So here's something I can't remember seeing in the news before: the military intelligence chiefs of those four countries all met recently in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, officially to discuss the growth of Islamic State-branded insurgents in Afghanistan. But who knows what was really being discussed? And the same applies to the visit of Iran's armed forces chief of staff to Pakistan in July and the return visit of that country's chief of staff to Iran in early August. I can't tell you what's going on, only that these are not the typically repetitive stories of the last 17 years.

And hard as it might be to believe, even when it comes to U.S. policy, there's been the odd headline that might pass for new. Take the recent private, direct talks with the Taliban in Qatar's capital, Doha, initiated by the Trump administration and seemingly ongoing. They might -- or might not -- represent something new , as might President Trump himself, who, as far as anyone can tell, doesn't think that Afghanistan is " the right war ." He has, from time to time, even indicated that he might be in favor of ending the American role, of " getting the hell out of there," as he reportedly told Senator Rand Paul, and that's unique in itself (though he and his advisers seem to be raring to go when it comes to what could be the next Afghanistan: Iran ).

But should the man who would never want to be known as the president who lost the longest war in American history try to follow through on a withdrawal plan, he's likely to have a few problems on his hands. Above all, the Pentagon and the country's field commanders seem to be hooked on America's " infinite " wars. They exhibit not the slightest urge to stop them. The Afghan War and the others that have flowed from it represent both their raison d'être and their meal ticket. They represent the only thing the U.S. military knows how to do in this century. And one thing is guaranteed: if they don't agree with the president on a withdrawal strategy, they have the power and ability to make a man who would do anything to avoid marring his own image as a winnner look worse than you could possibly imagine. Despite that military's supposedly apolitical role in this country's affairs, its leaders are uniquely capable of blocking any attempt to end the Afghan War.

And with that in mind, almost 17 years later, don't think that victory is out of the question either. Every day that the U.S. military stays in Afghanistan is indeed a victory for well, not George W. Bush, or Barack Obama, and certainly not Donald Trump, but the now long-dead Osama bin Laden. The calculation couldn't be simpler. Thanks to his " precision" weaponry -- those 19 suicidal hijackers in commercial jets -- the nearly 17 years of wars he's sparked across much of the Muslim world cost a man from one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest families a mere $400,000 to $500,000 . They've cost American taxpayers, minimally, $5.6 trillion dollars with no end in sight. And every day the Afghan War and the others that have followed from it continue is but another triumphant day for him and his followers.

A sad footnote to this history of extreme repetition: I wish this essay, as its title suggests, were indeed the war piece to end all war pieces. Unfortunately, it's a reasonable bet that, in August 2019, or August 2020, not to speak of August 2021, I'll be repeating all of this yet again.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture . He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com . His sixth and latest book is A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books).


Anonymous , [142] Disclaimer says: August 16, 2018 at 2:54 pm GMT

Afganistan is the graveyard of poor empires. It's the playground of the rich American empire, a place to test weapons, test men, gain battle experience, get promotions, and generally keep the military-industrial complex in top health. If it didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. All very human. If America wasn't doing it, somebody else would.

Life is a killer.

MarkU , says: August 16, 2018 at 3:06 pm GMT

Its all about pipelines, rare-earth elements and drug money for CIA black ops.

15 years of American efforts to suppress opium growing and the heroin trade in that country (at historic lows, by the way, when the U.S. invaded in 2001).

And many record harvests after the US invasion.

' In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way ' Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Sally Snyder , says: August 16, 2018 at 5:05 pm GMT

As shown in this article there is a very interesting connection between growing wealth inequality in the United States and American wars: https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/07/how-american-wars-lead-to-increased.html

Unless Washington shifts from a program of funding wars by deficit financing to funding wars through direct taxation, wars being fought by the United States will continue to contribute to America's growing income inequality.

mijj , says: August 17, 2018 at 4:14 am GMT

fyi: Forever War was a 1974 Sci-Fi book inspired by the Vietnam war.

Colin Wright , says: Website August 17, 2018 at 9:32 pm GMT

To leave Afghanistan we would have to admit defeat. We don't want to admit defeat. Therefore, we don't leave.

Deschutes , says: August 18, 2018 at 4:53 pm GMT

About the only thing I take away from this insufferably droll, repetitive piece on America at war forever, is how powerless the both the writer and the reader are. All we can do is read these depressing articles which remind us of a war we can do absolutely nothing about. Very shitty and depressing, just like USA!

peterAUS , says: August 19, 2018 at 1:56 am GMT
@Anonymous

Pretty much. Besides, it's not a war; it's an occupation. More cops get killed/wounded in USA proper then military personnel in that "war". 2017, 46 U.S. police officers were killed by felons in the line of duty; 17 military personnel in Afghanistan.

The article's point/issue is simply overblown. That's why people don't pay attention to it.

skrik , says: August 19, 2018 at 7:29 am GMT
@peterAUS

Besides, it's not a war; it's an occupation

BS; it's an alien invasion = Nuremberg-class war crime.

More cops get killed/wounded in USA proper

This looks very much like the "tu quoque" or the appeal to hypocrisy fallacy plus 'oranges vs. apples.' What the good US-burghers do in their own country is entirely their business, and IF it looks like they act like antediluvian neanderthal savages [a direct result of their risible 'education' + night & day TV, perhaps] THEN tough luck for the cops. It probably doesn't help that the US-cops are just as much free with the lead as their oppressed subjects. And don't think that the same sort of savagery won't impact someone near you; a quick glance into abc.net.au/news/justin reveals horrendous 'social situations,' like bodies in barrels, say, or aggravated home invasions, etc., also caused by defective education plus importing 'cheap' labour.

That's why people don't pay attention to it

More BS; the sheeple ignore US/Z aggression everywhere it occurs because the corrupt&venal MSM+PFBCs [= publicly financed broadcasters, like the AusBC] sell the powerless population pups = the sheeple get actively, deliberately brainwashed [cf. Lügenpresse ]. Apologists for [here terrorist] criminals make themselves accessories = assign themselves guilt and should be punished after being tried & found so guilty.

blackswan , says: August 21, 2018 at 5:02 pm GMT

" The U.S. has spent 25 trillion since the Vietnam War, what do they have to show for it? " Jack Ma Ali Baba
" The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept the majority of people from ever questioning the inequity of a private for profit fraudulent banking system where most people drudge along, paying heavey taxes for which they get nothing in return." Gore Vidal

Biff , says: August 23, 2018 at 4:37 am GMT

Tom, you have to get over tying Osama bin Laden to 9/11. Who organized that event, I do not know, but cave dwelling Arabs it was not.

cui bono does include Osama's ilk, but many others as well, and there HAD to be insiders in the U.S. government to pull it off.

Yukon Tom , says: August 23, 2018 at 5:06 am GMT

(War) "It's something we do all the time because we're good at it. And we're good at it because we're used to it. And we're used to it because we do it all the time." Sergeant Michael Dunne played by Paul Gross in Passchendaele the Movie

I'm not sure, but I don't think we are good at it anymore. But it appears to me that the Russians, Iranians, Syrians and Houthi's are and that really scares us. But it does make a lot of money for some people, careers for others and the MSM loves it for the ratings and avoiding telling the truth.

Realist , says: August 23, 2018 at 8:11 am GMT

Your opening photo is of two of the dumbest son-of-a-bitches to ever hold the office of President of The United States. Indicative of the shit slide this country is on.

The Alarmist , says: August 23, 2018 at 9:07 am GMT

"Afghans and others are being uprooted and displaced across Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and deep into Africa ."

So the strategy is to depopulate the country of its indigenous peoples until "we" outnumber them? Never mind the damage these re-settled folks are doing to Western Europe, not to mention other places.

Winning!

blood drunk , says: August 23, 2018 at 9:16 am GMT
@Anonymous

.generally keep the military-industrial complex in top health

Yes , the US military industrial complex is rich and in top health as you say , but what I see is that the health of the US as a whole , physical and mental , is going down in the last 50 years . Maybe the metastasis of the " healthy " military cancer are killing the American host .

The same happened to most of the empires , got drunk on blood and fell .

[Aug 19, 2018] Ukrainian external debt reached 83 percent of the GDP

Notable quotes:
"... In this version of 21st century slavery, all these disadvantages have been eliminated! Slaves stay in their homecountry: there is no need to bring them from there, no need to live amongst them and to feed them! Slaves are forced to work hard in the hope of paying off their debt, so they are motivated and hardworking. And most importantly, no civil war in the USA! ..."
Aug 19, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile,

This year, the Ukraine Prime Minister Groisman said that the external debt is 83% of the GDP. And by the end of the year, having been pressurized by the IMF, it will reach 90%. In order to service its external debts, the Ukraine spends $4.8 billion a year.

This is real slavery - only a new, improved version of it. From the 17th to the 19 centuries, slavery in [the North American British colonies and then - ME] the United States had a number of serious deficiencies: slaves had to be brought all the way from Africa; slaves were not extremely industrious; Americans themselves had to live amongst the slaves; and, most unpleasantly, all this led to civil war in the United States.

In this version of 21st century slavery, all these disadvantages have been eliminated! Slaves stay in their homecountry: there is no need to bring them from there, no need to live amongst them and to feed them! Slaves are forced to work hard in the hope of paying off their debt, so they are motivated and hardworking. And most importantly, no civil war in the USA!

Draw your own conclusions.

[Aug 19, 2018] New Interests Join The Clash About North-East Syria

Notable quotes:
"... Turkey fell into the same deep state bankers financial trap, that Spain Greece Italy fell for. Bail out a vunrable country then pull the rug out ! You own them ! So I would slightly disagree with it being entirely of there own making. I blame the Rothchild family. ..."
Aug 19, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

... ... ...

At the beginning of the year one U.S. dollar cost 3.5 lira. At the beginning of August it cost 4.80 lira. It then went up to 7.00 lira/$ and at Friday's closing it was down again at 6.00 TL/$. But Monday morning lira will again lose more of its value:

Turkey's credit rating was cut further into junk Friday by S&P Global Ratings and Moody's Investors Service, which said the volatile lira and wide current-account deficit may undermine the Middle East's largest economy.

S&P reduced Turkey's foreign-currency rating to four notches below investment grade at B+ from BB-, on par with Argentina, Greece and Fiji. Moody's lowered its grade to Ba3 from Ba2, three notches below investment grade. The ratings companies said the weak currency, runaway inflation and current-account deficit are Turkey's key vulnerabilities .

Turkey's crisis is homemade . The current spat with the United States only exaggerates it. For years Turkey borrowed large amounts of money from abroad and invested it into local infrastructure instead of producing exportable products. Its current account deficit this year will again be some $50 to $60 billion. International banks and other foreign lenders now demand interests rates above 20% from Turkish lenders because the chance of losing the lent money is high.

After the 17% crash on August 13 down to 7 TL/$ the Turkish Central Bank used some one-time measures to support the currency without raising its interest rate. The Turkish president Erdogan is ideologically adverse to interests and keeps the bank from doing what it must do to cool the Turkish economy and to stabilize the currency.

Erdogan asked Russia for help but received nothing but good advice. He also called in favors. When in June 2017 Saudi Arabia's clown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) tried to take over Qatar and to steal its juicy $350 billion sovereign wealth fund, the emir of Qatar called on Turkey for help. Erdogan sent the Turkish army and air force. His troops protected Qatar from a Saudi invasion.

With the lira in trouble the emir flew to Ankara and promised a new $15 billion investment into Turkey. Additionally some mysterious cargo was unloaded from his plane. That saved the lira for a few days. But Turkey's structural problems are unsolved. Erdogan is no longer trusted and his son in law, who he made finance minister, lacks the necessary qualification for the job. Thus :

"We forecast a recession next year," S&P said. "Inflation will peak at 22 percent over the next four months, before subsiding to below 20 percent by mid-2019."

The Qatari move came a few days before its arch enemy Saudi Arabia also moved into the area. On Friday the U.S. announced that Saudi Arabia would support the U.S. occupied north-east Syria with 100 million dollar . The Wahhabi Saudis are now financing the secular Kurdish terror organization PKK/YPG, the local U.S. proxy in north-east Syria.

If the Saudi clown prince MbS wants to take revenge on Turkey's Erdogan for messing up his plans for Qatar, he now has his chance.

Posted by b on August 18, 2018 at 03:56 PM | Permalink


Mark2 , Aug 18, 2018 5:12:42 PM | 4

One refinement to add to 'b's outstanding post (how the hell does he do it, miraculous !) as far as I can see Turkey fell into the same deep state bankers financial trap, that Spain Greece Italy fell for. Bail out a vunrable country then pull the rug out ! You own them ! So I would slightly disagree with it being entirely of there own making. I blame the Rothchild family.
Fastfreddy , Aug 18, 2018 5:32:52 PM | 5
Moody's and S&P ratings agencies are fraudulent institutions. For having AAA rated billions worth of junk mortgages, they should have been indicted and prosecuted.
Lochearn , Aug 18, 2018 5:44:06 PM | 6
Excellent analysis again, b. You surpass yourself. There is something you talk about that has always intrigued me

"For years Turkey borrowed large amounts of money from abroad and invested it into local infrastructure instead of producing exportable products."

There is a parallel here with Spain. From entry into the Euro in 1999 the floodgates of credit opened. Bankers, politicians and builders were involved in creating vast swathes of speculative urbanization; two airports were built which now stand empty, a formula 1 track hosted five races before closing, a phantom theme park; huge, almost empty accommodation complexes, and the list goes on. The ghost airport in Ciudad Real, which cost £1.2 million euros, was sold off to Chinese buyers for a mere 10,000 euros. The "Cajas", the regional banks, were all bailed out by the government.

Apart from local corruption, which is nothing new, I think there must have been a deliberate strategy on the part of EU elites not to finance industrial projects that would generate export currency, and hence compete with EU industrial powers such as Germany (I once read Spanish academic paper arguing this but have not managed to track it down). When the same happens in Turkey, obviously not an EU country, you have to wonder whether is it part of a transatlantic banker strategy: corrupt national elites finance corrupt local elites to build ghost infrastructures as cheap and shoddy as you can get, the banks that financed it get bailed out if it all crashes. What's not to like?

telescope , Aug 18, 2018 5:50:52 PM | 7
Turks can't avoid Greek-style crisis now. The solution calls for a violent swing in trade balance from huge deficit to sizable surplus, somewhere in a range of $100B. That can't happen unless people of Turkey are warehoused in slave-labor-condition factories that can be competitive enough to displace Asian players. That entails bone-crushing fall in living standards.
All in all, 20 percent decline in GDP is now all but certainty. The longer Erdogan tries to avoid the harsh medicine, the deeper this cancer goes. He should either bow to IMF, or to exit NATO, join BRICS and ask for loans from that grouping.
Of course, Turkish military can say bye-bye to its present size. It's unsustainable. Financial crunch will reduce Turkish armed forces to less than half of their present size.
And if Erdogan wants to keep his soldiers well-equipped for half the price - which he should - he'll have to switch to much more reasonably priced Russian weaponry. Once he does that, even Russia may contribute $10B to his bailout kitty.
Otherwise, Erdogan is a dead man. The economic hurricane barreling his way is only gathering strength with every passing day. And all he is doing is unfurling umbrellas and increasing the volume of music.
Mark2 , Aug 18, 2018 6:29:19 PM | 12
That list of infrastructure @ Lochern mentions looks geared toward the holiday industry which in the past has been a major income for Turkey ! Worth at the time perhaps investing in. Very popular with Eurapians but very popular with Russians. My wild guess would be---- some dodgey ploy by the west to drive a wedge between Russia and Turky, devideding and ruling both! By meens of conflict and bank debt .The gains would be numerous long term and short term. But as already mentioned may back fire and bring Russia and Turkey closer. I hope so.
Pft , Aug 18, 2018 6:30:54 PM | 13
Much of Turkeys external debt is private and not government . Their BIS controlled central bank kept interest rates high. This forced Turkish banks to take out loans in USD or Euro which had lower interest rates to meet loan demands in the private corporate sector , which they made at higher interest rates after exchanging for Lira. More profitable. The assumption was there would be a relatively stable exchange rate. So there was risk.

That risk made them vulnerable fx attack by the globalist banking cartel. When Erdogan took over more control from the TCB last month to reduce interest rates and reduce demand for foreign loans this was seen as an act of war. The independence of the central bank must be defended. Trumps additional tarrif increases, mild as they were were simply a symbolic barking of orders to take Turkey down

Looking at the broader picture. Since the 2008 financial blowout there has been "carry trade" fueled by zero-cost liquidity pumped into the global system by quantitative easing, which was then shipped to high-interest emerging markets such as Brazil, Turkey and other countries.

With the beginning of the Fed's "tapering" of QE and rising interest rates since 2015, the whole financial system has triggered a "reverse carry trade" where dollars flow out of emerging markets back to safer havens. This is what you are seeing in Turkey, Argentina, Russia, Brazil, etc.

The last 10 years are a replay of the decade running up to the 1997/1998 crisis. While the 1985 'Plaza Accord' dollar devaluation was not exactly QE, it had the same intent and results – a flood of cheap money and dollar debt, and therefore growing global dependence on the dollar and vulnerability to US monetary and economic policy

Some say countries like Turkey should know better, but countries have little control over their monetary policy under the global and independent central banking system forced on them. Go against this system and you will be hit with sanctions , subject to regime change or will be invaded

So call it a homegrown crisis if thats the reality you choose to live in. Who am I to say otherwise?

CDWaller , Aug 18, 2018 6:52:06 PM | 15
These rating agencies are the same ones that rated junk mortgage bonds AA. They are for sale to highest bidder or since they haven't been prosecuted for their criminal behavior, vulnerable to threats from the same political machine that turned a blind eye in 2008.
Turkey may have homegrown economic problems as you have pointed out but they certainly have even more problems with a vindictive and extremely corrupt Uncle Sam who ruthlessly punish any and all independent actions.
dh-mtl , Aug 18, 2018 7:26:48 PM | 17
Another excellent blog B. I agree with many of the above commenters that the breadth and depth of the analysis on MOA is truly amazing.

Pft@13. Good analysis as well.

However, I would expect that Turkey will not be another Greece. Rather I expect Turkey to get help from its friends to stabilize its economic position, resist U.S. sanctions and avoid an IMF bail-out.

With the support of Qatar, and I would expect China as well, I would expect Turkey to protect its banks. However, it is also possible that they will let some private Turkish companies, with dollar denominated debts, default. Such defaults, combined with the pressure that declining dollar liquidity is already putting on other emerging markets and Italy, would be destabilizing for the Western financial system. Sooner or later, and I suspect sooner, the FED will be required to start printing money again, which will reverse the dollar's recent strength and relieve the pressure on Turkey.

At the end of the day, however, I expect that this episode will be another step in the direction of de-dollarization and will further reduce the ability of the U.S. to use economic sanctions to bully its adversaries.

Mark2 , Aug 18, 2018 8:03:33 PM | 18
A strange paradox of life !
Owe your bank 1000 the bank manager will make you bankrupt, owe the bank a million and he'll invite you home for dinner ! More to lose !
By this token I'd like to think, the more country's that refuse there debt, the less power the west will have ! The less credibility and the less fear and influence they can inflict .
If the west wants to weaponise banking so be it ! Bring it on. Let's pull the rug out from under the banks/Rothchilds.
Feet ! Natural justice !
ben , Aug 18, 2018 8:19:12 PM | 19
Pft @ 13 said:"Some say countries like Turkey should know better, but countries have little control over their monetary policy under the global and independent central banking system forced on them. Go against this system and you will be hit with sanctions , subject to regime change or will be invaded."

CDWaller @ 15 said:"These rating agencies are the same ones that rated junk mortgage bonds AA. They are for sale to highest bidder or since they haven't been prosecuted for their criminal behavior, vulnerable to threats from the same political machine that turned a blind eye in 2008."


The usual suspects described perfectly.

[Aug 15, 2018] Talking Turkey: In essence this is an emerging market financial crisis, much like the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis

Notable quotes:
"... So why should you care? Why does that matter to you or me? Well, like most emerging market financial crisis there is the danger of contagion . ..."
"... Turkey's economy is four times the size of Greece, and roughly equal in size to Lehman Brothers circa 2008. ..."
"... Turkey's other borders face six nations: Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Armenia, and Nakhchivan, a territory affiliated with Azerbaijan. Five of those are involved in ongoing armed conflicts or outright war. ..."
"... NATO has long outlived its' usefulness. Cancel its' stipend and bring our soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen and women home! Put them to work here. Fighting fires. ..."
"... NATO only seems to be useful to the hegemony that supports it. Peace is not it's mission. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

gjohnsit on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 3:46pm

By now you've probably heard that Turkey is having a financial crisis, and Trump appears to be pouring gasoline on it.
But you may not understand what is happening, or you may not know why it's important.
So let's do a quick recap .

Turkey's currency fell to a new record low today. Year to date it's lost almost half its value, leading some investors and lenders inside and outside of Turkey to lose confidence in the Turkish economy.
...
"Ninety percent of external public and private sector debt is denominated in foreign currencies," he said.

Here's the problem. Because of the country's falling currency, that debt just got a lot more expensive.
A Turkish business now effectively owes twice as much as it did at the beginning of the year. "You are indebted in the U.S. dollar or euro, but your revenue is in your local currency," explained Lale Akoner, a market strategist with Bank of New York Mellon's Asset Management business. She said Turkey's private sector currently owes around $240 billion in foreign debt.

In essence this is an emerging market financial crisis, much like the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis.

This is all about hot money that has been washing around in a world of artificially low interest rates, and now, finally, an external shock happened. As it always happens .

The bid-ask spread, or the difference between the price dealers are willing to buy and sell the lira at, has widened beyond the gap seen at the depth of the global financial crisis in 2008, following Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s collapse.

So why should you care? Why does that matter to you or me? Well, like most emerging market financial crisis there is the danger of contagion .

The turmoil follows a similar currency crash in Argentina that led to a rescue by the International Monetary Fund. In recent days, the Russian ruble, Indian rupee and South African rand have also tumbled dramatically.

Investors are waiting for the next domino to fall. They're on the lookout for signs of a repeat of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis that began when the Thai baht imploded.

A minor currency devaluation of the Thai baht in 1997 eventually led to 20% of the world's population being thrust into poverty. It led to Russia defaulting in 1998, LTCM requiring a Federal Reserve bailout, and eventually Argentina defaulting in 2001.

Turkey's economy is four times the size of Greece, and roughly equal in size to Lehman Brothers circa 2008.

The markets want Turkey to run to the IMF for a loan, but that would require a huge interest rate hike and austerity measures that would thrust Turkey into a long depression. However, that isn't the biggest obstacle .

The second is that Erdogan would have to bury his hatchet with the United States, which remains the IMF's largest shareholder. Without U.S. support, Turkey has no chance of securing an IMF bailout program.

There is another danger, a political one and not so much an economic one, that could have dramatic implications.
If Erdogan isn't overthrown, or humbled, then there is an ironclad certainty that Turkey will leave NATO and the West.

Turkey, unlike Argentina, does not seem poised to turn to the International Monetary Fund in order to stave off financial collapse, nor to mend relations with Washington.

If anything, the Turkish President looks to be doubling down in challenging the US and the global financial markets -- two formidable opponents.
...
Turkey would probably no longer view the US as a reliable partner and strategic ally. Whoever ends up leading the country, a wounded Turkey would most likely seek to shift the center of gravity away from the West and toward Russia, Iran and Eurasia.

It would make Turkey less in tune with US and European objectives in the Middle East, meaning Turkey would seek to assert a more independent security and defense policy.

Erdogan has warned Trump that Turkey would "seek new friends" , although Russia and China haven't yet stepped up to the plate to bat for him.
Russia, Iran and China do have a common interest when in comes to undermining the petrodollar . Pulling Turkey into their sphere of influence would be a coup.

Turkey lies at a historic, strategic crossroad. The bridge between the peaceful West and the war-ridden dictatorships of the East that the West likes to bomb.

On its Western flank, Turkey borders Greece and Bulgaria, Western-facing members of the European Union. A few years ago, Turkey -- a member of NATO -- was preparing the join Europe as a full member.

Turkey's other borders face six nations: Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Armenia, and Nakhchivan, a territory affiliated with Azerbaijan. Five of those are involved in ongoing armed conflicts or outright war.

Losing Turkey would be a huge setback for NATO, the MIC, and the permanent war machine.

QMS on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 4:59pm

IMF = Poison

more struggling economies are starting to get it. Trade wealth for the rulers (IMF supporters) to be paid by the rest of us. Fight back. Squeeze the bankers balls. Can't have our resources, now way, no how, without a fight.

enhydra lutris on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 6:26pm
Can the BRICS get by without Brazil, perhaps by pulling

in a flailing Turkey? Weren't there some outside potential takers encouraging China when it floated its currency proposal?

Nastarana on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 8:41pm
NATO has long outlived its' usefulness. Cancel its' stipend and bring our soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen and women home! Put them to work here. Fighting fires.

Patrolling our shores for drug running and toxic dumping. Teaching school, 10 kids per class maximum. Refurbishing buildings and housing stock. Post Cold War, an military alliance with Turkey makes no sense.

QMS on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 9:22pm
NATO only seems to be useful to the hegemony that supports it. Peace is not it's mission.

[Aug 15, 2018] While the west is gradually leaning toward dumping Ukraine and hoping Russia will solve the financial problems it faces, Russia might decline this offer

Ukraine has huge problems because far right nationalists while hate corruption, do not control economics and oligarchs who control it do not intent to share their profits with the population, who is on the edge of starvation.
Breaking economic ties with Russia helped to relegate Ukraine to semi-colonial status as without cooperation with Russian industries and access to Russian market (which they know very well) many Ukrainian manufacturing industries are less viable..
Ukraine was already converted into debt-slave, and it is extremely difficult to climb out of this hole without default. At the same time it serves are powerful anti-Russian force in the region and as such will be semi-supported by both the USA and EU. for example attacks on Ukrainian currency probably will be avoided.
This is a variant of " don't cry for me Argentina" situation.
Notable quotes:
"... Notably that while the west is gradually leaning toward dumping Ukraine and hoping Russia will solve the problem, the warning signs are there that Russia has no intention of bailing out an exhausted Ukraine, and that this time it is going to be allowed to fail all the way down. The west should be warned that nobody is riding to the rescue and pouring their resources into stabilizing Ukraine – if the west cannot do it, the alternative is collapse and draining emergency work to keep the population from starvation. Prosperity is an impossible dream now, and the people – I think – would be pretty happy to be back where they were before the glorious Maidan. ..."
"... Interestingly, something that was not touched upon in the 'Necessary' section was the elimination of the oligarchy in Kiev and other major cities. I will declare frankly that I have no idea how this might be achieved – as discussed before several times, the Ukrainian oligarchs control something in the order of 70% of Ukrainian GDP, and are not about to gift any of it back to the Ukrainian state. ..."
"... You'll know there's no more money in Ukraine when the oligarchs leave, and I see no sign of that so far, while it is evident they intend to be a big part of any future rebuilding. They've already successfully stolen most of the IMF money, and plainly think an even bigger payday is still in the offing. ..."
"... Eventually, if the USA is unsuccessful in forcing the outbreak of another world war, the west will get around to either asking Russia to help, or trying to dump Ukraine on Russia. ..."
"... Whatever happens, the dream of Ukrainian nationalists to forge a great and powerful ... nation of Ukraine is always going to remain that – a dream. They're happy enough at present scampering about in the ruins and glorying in their imagination of great power, but they are kings of the dungheap without any clue of nation-building. ..."
"... The few who both hated Russia and honestly aspired to a Great Ukraine – free of corruption and able to pay its way through judicious management of its undeniable resources and casting off the peasant mentality – have no influence, and operate at the pleasure of the power-brokers; they are allowed to dabble at anti-corruption until their probing becomes uncomfortable, and then they are discredited and fired, if not charged with the crimes they say they are investigating. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Cortes August 10, 2018 at 9:02 pm

Last post time, but a goodie (I think):

http://thesaker.is/whats-destructive-constructive-and-necessary-in-ukrainian-politics/

No intention to comment- read for yourselves.

Mark Chapman August 11, 2018 at 6:41 am
That is indeed an interesting piece – generally speaking, we most enjoy writing with which we agree, and I mostly agree with it and feel the ring of familiarity, because some of it is what we have been saying here for a couple of years. Notably that while the west is gradually leaning toward dumping Ukraine and hoping Russia will solve the problem, the warning signs are there that Russia has no intention of bailing out an exhausted Ukraine, and that this time it is going to be allowed to fail all the way down. The west should be warned that nobody is riding to the rescue and pouring their resources into stabilizing Ukraine – if the west cannot do it, the alternative is collapse and draining emergency work to keep the population from starvation. Prosperity is an impossible dream now, and the people – I think – would be pretty happy to be back where they were before the glorious Maidan.

Interestingly, something that was not touched upon in the 'Necessary' section was the elimination of the oligarchy in Kiev and other major cities. I will declare frankly that I have no idea how this might be achieved – as discussed before several times, the Ukrainian oligarchs control something in the order of 70% of Ukrainian GDP, and are not about to gift any of it back to the Ukrainian state.

But for so long as Ukraine continues to elect one oligarch after another to the office of President, the oligarch of the moment will be far more occupied with increasing his/her personal wealth and power, and settling scores with rivals, than with governance and accountability. At the same time, there is no use hoping the President will be a poor man or woman, because they generally do not have the worldly education to grasp the problem and envision solutions while being simultaneously beset from all sides by the oligarchy, seeking to retain its power and influence.

You'll know there's no more money in Ukraine when the oligarchs leave, and I see no sign of that so far, while it is evident they intend to be a big part of any future rebuilding. They've already successfully stolen most of the IMF money, and plainly think an even bigger payday is still in the offing.

The United States has largely forgotten Ukraine, as it was only ever a pretext for a full-court press against Russia anyway, and it now has enough Russophobia sustainment in its ditzy population to press forward without the need to invoke sympathy for Ukraine. Europe is still quite interested in a resolution, but only because of its fear that it is going to get stuck with the booby prize, and be made to assume responsibility for getting Ukraine on its feet somehow, perhaps even absorbing it. Eventually, if the USA is unsuccessful in forcing the outbreak of another world war, the west will get around to either asking Russia to help, or trying to dump Ukraine on Russia.

Whatever happens, the dream of Ukrainian nationalists to forge a great and powerful ... nation of Ukraine is always going to remain that – a dream. They're happy enough at present scampering about in the ruins and glorying in their imagination of great power, but they are kings of the dungheap without any clue of nation-building.

The few who both hated Russia and honestly aspired to a Great Ukraine – free of corruption and able to pay its way through judicious management of its undeniable resources and casting off the peasant mentality – have no influence, and operate at the pleasure of the power-brokers; they are allowed to dabble at anti-corruption until their probing becomes uncomfortable, and then they are discredited and fired, if not charged with the crimes they say they are investigating.

Patient Observer August 11, 2018 at 8:17 am
Well said. Presumably, the Donbass will pull away from Ukraine and vote to joint Russia and Russia will approve for any number of reasons but certainly including humanitarian, ethnic/cultural connections and military considerations. Other regions such as Odessa could jump aboard as well.

There may be a mass exodus from what is left – the grifter to the West and those seeking a better life to the east. The Nazis will remain behind and may serve some purpose such as providing a pool of mercenaries for CIA projects.

I, for one, do not think the Donbass will be an overwhelming economic burden in the long run. The population has shown resolve and resilience. Given leadership and material aid, they can rebuild fairly quickly I think.

[Aug 15, 2018] Ukraine has more or less lost its case before the WTO, in which it wept that Russia s unfair imposition of an embargo on its railway cars and rolling stock constituted a violation which cost Ukraine $3.2 Billion in annual sales

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 1, 2018 at 5:27 pm

Oh, dear; Ukraine has more or less lost its case before the WTO, in which it wept that Russia's unfair imposition of an embargo on its railway cars and rolling stock constituted a violation which caused a former $3.2 Billion in annual sales – more than it realizes from transit fees for carrying Russian gas to Europe – to collapse to $150 Million. The WTO bought the Russian rationale that Russian inspectors going to Ukraine to ensure the product conformed to Russian standards would be in fear of their lives.

But the WTO ruled that the security situation was such that Russian inspectors sent to check that Ukraine's exports complied with Russian standards would have been risking their lives, and Russia was therefore justified in not sending them to Ukraine.

"The panel fully agreed with Russia's position and recognized that there was no systematic restriction of imports of Ukrainian equipment by Russia," Russia's Ministry of Trade and Economy said in a statement.

The WTO did go on to say Russia could have carried out the inspections outside Ukraine, but therein lies a sandbag to the head that Ukraine probably spotted already – if Russian inspectors found shoddy work or any other reason to refuse the offered goods, to say nothing of the probability that no contracting position between the two countries even exists any more, then Ukraine would be out the sale plus whatever costs it incurred to ship the goods outside Ukraine.

https://m.investing.com/news/economy-news/wto-ruling-derails-bulk-of-ukrainian-trade-dispute-against-russia-1551279?ampMode=1

Gosh! Is Ukraine's Russophobia beginning to blow up in its face?

[Aug 13, 2018] Imperialism Is Alive and Kicking A Marxist Analysis of Neoliberal Capitalism by C.J. Polychroniou

Highly recommended!
Marxism provides one of the best analysis of capitalism; problems start when Marxists propose alternatives.
Notable quotes:
"... Such demand-compression occurs above all through the imposition of an income deflation on the petty producers, and on the working population in general, in the Third World. This was done in the colonial period through two means: one, "deindustrialization" or the displacement of local craft production by imports of manufactures from the capitalist sector; and two, the "drain of surplus" where a part of the taxes extracted from petty producers was simply taken away in the form of exported goods without any quid pro quo ..."
"... I mean by the term "imperialism" the arrangement that the capitalist system sets up for imposing income deflation on the working population of the Third World for countering the threat of inflation that would otherwise erode the value of money in the metropolis and make the system unviable. "Imperialism" in this sense characterizes both the colonial and the contemporary periods. ..."
"... The fact that the diffusion of capitalism to the Third World has proceeded by leaps and bounds of late, with its domestic corporate-financial oligarchy getting integrated into globalized finance capital, and the fact that workers in the metropolis have also been facing an income squeeze under globalization, are important new developments; but they do not negate the basic tendency of the system to impose income deflation upon the working population of the Third World, a tendency that remains at the very core of the system. ..."
"... any state activism, other than for promoting its own exclusive and direct interest, is anathema for finance capital, which is why, not surprisingly, "sound finance" and "fiscal responsibility" are back in vogue today, when finance capital, now globalized, is in ascendancy. Imperialism is thus a specifically capitalist way of obtaining the commodities it requires for itself, but which are produced outside its own domain. ..."
"... dirigiste regimes ..."
"... With the reassertion of the dominance of finance, in the guise now of an international ..."
"... Contemporary imperialism therefore is the imperialism of international finance capital which is served by nation-states (for any nation-state that defies the will of international finance capital runs the risk of capital flight from, and hence the insolvency of, its economy). The US, being the leading capitalist state, plays the leading role in promoting and protecting the interests of international finance capital. But talking about a specific US imperialism, or a German or British or French imperialism obscures this basic fact. ..."
"... Indeed, a good deal of discussion about whether the world is heading toward multi-polarity or the persistence of US dominance misses the point that the chief actor in today's world is international or globalized finance capital, and not US or German or British finance capital. ..."
"... US military intervention all over the world, in order to acquire a proper meaning has to be located within the broader setting of the imperialism of international finance capital. ..."
"... absolute immiserization ..."
Aug 13, 2018 | truthout.org

C.J. Polychroniou: How do you define imperialism and what imperialist tendencies do you detect as inherent in the brutal expansion of the logic of capitalism in the neoliberal global era?

Prabhat Patnaik: The capitalist sector of the world, which began by being located, and continues largely to be located, in the temperate region, requires as its raw materials and means of consumption a whole range of primary commodities which are not available or producible, either at all or in adequate quantities, within its own borders. These commodities have to be obtained from the tropical and sub-tropical region within which almost the whole of the Third World is located; and the bulk of them (leaving aside minerals) are produced by a set of petty producers (peasants). What is more, they are subject to "increasing supply price," in the sense that as demand for them increases in the capitalist sector, larger quantities of them can be obtained, if at all, only at higher prices, thanks to the fixed size of the tropical land mass.

This means an ex ante tendency toward accelerating inflation as capital accumulation proceeds, undermining the value of money under capitalism and hence the viability of the system as a whole. To prevent this, the system requires that with an increase in demand from the capitalist sector, as capital accumulation proceeds, there must be a compression of demand elsewhere for these commodities, so that the net demand does not increase, and increasing supply price does not get a chance to manifest itself at all.

Such demand-compression occurs above all through the imposition of an income deflation on the petty producers, and on the working population in general, in the Third World. This was done in the colonial period through two means: one, "deindustrialization" or the displacement of local craft production by imports of manufactures from the capitalist sector; and two, the "drain of surplus" where a part of the taxes extracted from petty producers was simply taken away in the form of exported goods without any quid pro quo . The income of the working population of the Third World, and hence its demand, was thus kept down; and metropolitan capitalism's demand for such commodities was met without any inflationary threat to the value of money. Exactly a similar process of income deflation is imposed now upon the working population of the Third World by the neoliberal policies of globalization.

I mean by the term "imperialism" the arrangement that the capitalist system sets up for imposing income deflation on the working population of the Third World for countering the threat of inflation that would otherwise erode the value of money in the metropolis and make the system unviable. "Imperialism" in this sense characterizes both the colonial and the contemporary periods.

We recognize the need for a reserve army of labor to ward off the threat to the value of money arising from wage demands of workers. Ironically, however, we do not recognize the parallel and even more pressing need of the system (owing to increasing supply price) for the imposition of income deflation on the working population of the Third World for warding off a similar threat.

The fact that the diffusion of capitalism to the Third World has proceeded by leaps and bounds of late, with its domestic corporate-financial oligarchy getting integrated into globalized finance capital, and the fact that workers in the metropolis have also been facing an income squeeze under globalization, are important new developments; but they do not negate the basic tendency of the system to impose income deflation upon the working population of the Third World, a tendency that remains at the very core of the system.

Those who argue that imperialism is no longer a relevant analytic construct point to the multifaceted aspects of today's global economic exchanges and to a highly complex process involved in the distribution of value which, simply put, cannot be reduced to imperialism. How do you respond to this line of thinking?

Capitalism today is of course much more complex, with an enormous financial superstructure. But that paradoxically makes inflation even more threatening. The value of this vast array of financial assets would collapse in the event of inflation, bringing down this superstructure, which incidentally is the reason for the current policy obsession with "inflation targeting." This mak