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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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[Aug 20, 2019] When, If Ever, Can We Lay This Burden Down by Pat Buchanan

Pat lost its touch with reality " Around the world, America is involved in quarrels, clashes and confrontations with almost too many nations to count." That's what empires do. Why he can't understand this simple fact?
Aug 20, 2019 | www.unz.com
Pat Buchanan 800 Words 30 Comments Reply

Friday, President Donald Trump met in New Jersey with his national security advisers and envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is negotiating with the Taliban to bring about peace, and a U.S. withdrawal from America's longest war.

U.S. troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, in a war that has cost 2,400 American lives.

Following the meeting, Trump tweeted, "Many on the opposite sides of this 19 year war, and us, are looking to make a deal -- if possible!"

Some, however, want no deal; they are fighting for absolute power.

Saturday, a wedding in Kabul with a thousand guests was hit by a suicide bomber who, igniting his vest, massacred 63 people and wounded 200 in one of the greatest atrocities of the war. ISIS claimed responsibility.

Monday, 10 bombs exploded in restaurants and public squares in the eastern city of Jalalabad, wounding 66.

Trump is pressing Khalilzad to negotiate drawdowns of U.S. troop levels from the present 14,000, and to bring about a near-term end to U.S. involvement in a war that began after we overthrew the old Taliban regime for giving sanctuary to Osama bin Laden.

Is it too soon to ask: What have we gained from our longest war? Was all the blood and treasure invested worth it? And what does the future hold?

If the Taliban could not be defeated by an Afghan army, built up by the U.S. for a decade and backed by 100,000 U.S. troops in 2010-2011, then are the Taliban likely to give up the struggle when the U.S. is drawing down the last 14,000 troops and heading home?

The Taliban control more of the country than they have at any time since being overthrown in 2001. And time now seems to be on their side.

Why have they persevered, and prevailed in parts of the country?

Motivated by a fanatic faith, tribalism and nationalism, they have shown a willingness to die for a cause that seems more compelling to them than what the U.S.-backed Afghan government has on offer.

They also have the guerrillas' advantage of being able to attack at times and places of their own choosing, without the government's burden of having to defend towns and cities.

Will these Taliban, who have lost many battles but not the war, retire from the field and abide by democratic elections once the Americans go home? Why should they?

The probability: When the Americans depart, the war breaks out anew, and the Taliban ultimately prevail.

And Afghanistan is but one of the clashes and conflicts in which America is engaged.

Severe U.S. sanctions on Venezuela have failed to bring down the Nicholas Maduro regime in Caracas but have contributed to the immiseration of that people, 10% of whom have left the country. Trump now says he is considering a quarantine or blockade to force Maduro out.

Eight years after we helped to overthrow Col. Moammar Gadhafi, Libya is still mired in civil war, with its capital, Tripoli, under siege.

Yemen, among the world's humanitarian disasters, has seen the UAE break with its Saudi interventionist allies, and secessionists split off southern Yemen from the Houthi-dominated north. Yet, still, Congress has been unable to force the Trump administration to end all support of the Saudi war.

Two thousand U.S. troops remain in Syria. The northern unit is deployed between our Syrian Kurd allies and the Turkish army. In the south, they are positioned to prevent Iran and Iranian-backed militias from creating a secure land bridge from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut.

In our confrontation with Iran, we have few allies.

The Brits released the Iranian tanker they seized at Gibraltar, which had been carrying oil to Syria. But when the Americans sought to prevent its departure, a Gibraltar court ruled against the United States.

Iran presents no clear or present danger to U.S. vital interests, but the Saudis and Israelis see Iran as a mortal enemy, and want the U.S. military rid them of the menace.

Hong Kong protesters wave American flags and seek U.S. support of their demands for greater autonomy and freedom in their clash with their Beijing-backed authorities. The Taiwanese want us to support them and sell them the weapons to maintain their independence. The Philippines wants us to take their side in the dispute with China over tiny islets in the South China Sea.

We are still committed to go to war to defend South Korea. And the North has lately test-fired a series of ballistic missiles, none of which could hit the USA, but all of which could hit South Korea.

Around the world, America is involved in quarrels, clashes and confrontations with almost too many nations to count.

In how many of these are U.S. vital interests imperiled? And in how many are we facing potential wars on behalf of other nations, while they hold our coat and egg us on?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever."

Copyright 2019 Creators.com.

[Aug 18, 2019] Can Ukraine gradually put Western Ukrainian nationalists in it proper place

It's very sad that Ukraine is just a pawn in dirty geopolitical games of the USA, the EU and Russia.
Notable quotes:
"... In 3-5 years we could have an interesting scenario in Ukraine with land (its main wealth) owned by foreign investors and a large % of population with Russian or Polish and other EU passports. As always with ideology, the result is the exact opposite of what that ideology claims: the dictatorship of proletariat impoverished and killed proletariat, Nazis dramatically shrunk German lebensraum, liberals obsession with ' liberty and universal brotherhood ' is leading to censorship, suppression and group hostilities. But here we are and the ideological idiocy that Maidan-Ukrainians embraced might not be reversible. This is not good for anybody. ..."
"... For Ukraine these are all irreversible losses, but from Western perspective, these are little victories: Russia was forced to spend more. As the West does not give a hoot about Ukraine, the US and its vassals can freely celebrate these victories. ..."
"... So, it all depends on the point of view. The West never cared about aborigines, so their point of view does not come into its calculations. ..."
"... Currently prevailing mood in Russia is that Ukraine, whoever is the power there, gets nothing, nada, zilch. ..."
"... But Ukrainian authorities worked pretty hard to achieve it, and now Ukraine has to live with this new reality. It won’t be pretty. The US was simply following its standard policy: leave a pile of shit, declare victory, and leave, waiting for someone else to clean up. ..."
"... Now there is only one way Russia would clean up: if the EU pays full price for it. As this is unlikely, the aborigines are going to bear the brunt of the consequences. ..."
Aug 18, 2019 | www.unz.com

Beckow , says: Next New Comment August 18, 2019 at 7:33 pm GMT

@Kiza

miscalculation that the rotten West will help them instead of use them to create a festering sore on Russian border for just a few billion dollars in loans.

A possibly a fatal miscalculation for Ukraine, but there is also an ideology involved. In Maidan-Ukrainians case that ideology is Ukrainian nationalism combined with a servile Western worship of almost cargo-cult level. An odd combination that has led to odd result.

West wanted Zelensky to win, the question is why. Tactically, Zelensky neutralized large Russia-leaning block of voters: the 70% vote would have gone somewhere and they were not going to vote for Poroshenko or Tymoshenko. So that misdirection was successful. But what was the point?

Let's look at what Zelensky is actually doing (not the throw-away comedy and rhetoric): he is trying to allow sale of Ukrainian land to foreign investors. My guess is that he will push it through and that will his main legacy. Buying up Ukrainian arable land has been a wet dream for many in the West since 1991. Zelensky could deliver on it, and then move on.

In 3-5 years we could have an interesting scenario in Ukraine with land (its main wealth) owned by foreign investors and a large % of population with Russian or Polish and other EU passports. As always with ideology, the result is the exact opposite of what that ideology claims: the dictatorship of proletariat impoverished and killed proletariat, Nazis dramatically shrunk German lebensraum, liberals obsession with ' liberty and universal brotherhood ' is leading to censorship, suppression and group hostilities. But here we are and the ideological idiocy that Maidan-Ukrainians embraced might not be reversible. This is not good for anybody.

AnonFromTN , says: Next New Comment August 18, 2019 at 9:39 pm GMT

Why does the Saker think that Ze had any choice? He is a puppet, a stuffed shirt brought to ”power” by Kolomoisky and allied oligarchs. The only goal was to chase Porky and allied thieves from the trough to be able to steal more.

Now, the people of Ukraine had choice. But they blew it again, like many times before: each Ukrainian “president” is worse than his predecessor. As the saying goes, “fool me once, shame on you…” Ukrainians let themselves be fooled six times already, so there is no doubt where the shame goes.

It was said that the nationalism is the last resort of a scoundrel. But it isn’t the only one. Nationalism, stupid unrealistic dreams to feed sheeple, fairy tales about aggression, and the war create perfect smokescreen for blatant thievery. It continues unabated, ever since 1991.

Russia does need to make its choice. But it is complicated by the role of Russian thieves (polite word is oligarchs) in current Russian state. Putin kicked some out. The remaining ones have enough brains to figure that they need a strong state to protect them, lest their loot be stolen by Western thieves. So, they are a step ahead of Ukrainian thieves who did not tumble even to this simple realization. But no more than one step ahead.

The economic reality is that Russian state does not have the resources to restore Ukraine, even if sane forces come to power there. So, Ukraine would likely keep festering, losing millions of working age people (like today), possibly losing chunks of territory (as the joke has it, whoever remains in Ukraine pays off the debt). The problems of that huge Somalia can only be solved by concerted effort of many European countries and Russia. This is not on the cards, at least not until Ukies create yet another Chernobyl. Then the EU might decide to send its US overlords to Hell and pay Russia to take the hand grenade away from the monkey. I don’t think Putin will live long enough to see that happen.

Beckow , says: Next New Comment August 18, 2019 at 11:04 pm GMT
@AnonFromTN

…EU might decide to send its US overlords to Hell and pay Russia to take the hand grenade away from the monkey.

How would EU go against its overlord? Even if EU would try, the existential nihilism in Kiev will prevent compromise. Ideologues can’t admit that their ‘idea’ didn’t work, they prefer destroying everything around. West is also at this point incapable of admitting an error – they literally can’t do it, the lying has to go on. That means that even groundwork for any possible compromise can’t be put in place. This is all the way down with fireworks and it won’t be pretty.

There is such a thing as a catastrophic error and the last 5 years in Ukraine comes pretty close to it. That is not really fixable. The monkey night as well use the grenade.

AnonFromTN says: August 18, 2019 at 9:56 pm GMT • 100 Words
@Beckow

Minsk agreement was an incredibly generous deal, if Poroshenko had half a brain he would had jumped on it and today Donbas would be a remote backwater with autonomy.

That would be true if Porky was interested in Ukraine. As it is, his only interest and loyalty was and is his personal loot. To keep stealing, he (and allied thieves) needed the smokescreen of war, fairy tales of “aggression”, and pipe dreams of “greater Ukraine” for the sheeple. He succeeded in his thievery for five years. Now another gang of thieves pushed his gang from the trough. End of story.

annamaria says: August 18, 2019 at 11:47 pm GMT • 100 Words

@Bardon Kaldian

Are you a teenager unaware of the history of the Maidan regime-change “revolution?”
Here are two most influential Ukranian parties-participants in the “revolution:”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svoboda_(political_party)

The Svoboda Party was founded in 1991 as the Social-National Party of Ukraine … It is widely considered a fascist..party….

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

Time has described it [the Right Sector Party] as a “radical right-wing group … a coalition of militant ultra-nationalists” with an ideology that “borders on fascism”.

Die Welt, The New York Times, and Le Monde Diplomatique have described some of Right Sector’s constituent groups as radical right-wing, neofascist, or neo-Nazi…

https://www.globalresearch.ca/conspiring-neo-nazi-parties-washington-eu-role-kiev-coup/5684545

AnonFromTN says: August 19, 2019 at 12:56 am GMT • 300 Words

@Beckow

You are a pessimist (or a fatalist). I agree that EU is shamefully subservient to the US, but when some of their core interests are at stake, even slavish EU can show some teeth. Just think of Nord Stream-2: the US is jumping out of its skin to damage this project, but Germany stands remarkably firm.

From Western point of view, Ukie provocation was not a complete failure (even though it’s a catastrophic failure from Ukrainian point of view): Russia had to spend a lot to develop the production of military things it used to import from Ukraine, like ships, ship engines, helicopter engines, spaceship control systems, etc.

Now that it acquired the capability to produce these things, there will be no going back regardless who rules Ukraine: it’s industries that used to export to Russia are doomed. These include such giants as Nikolaev shipbuilding plant, Motor Sich in Zaparozie, Antonov aircraft building plant in Kiev, etc. The same goes for transit.

It is not just natural gas transit everybody talks about. Russia used to transport ammonia to Odessa, where it was partially exported and partially converted into fertilizers. The plant that used to do that is dead.

Ukraine tried to sell it for $5 billion under Yanuk and got no takers, about a year ago it tried to sell it for 10% of that price, and got no takers again.

There also used to be substantial Russian payments for transport via the railway going across Eastern Ukraine.

Russia built an alternative bypassing Ukraine, so they might as well dismantle the rails on their route.

For Ukraine these are all irreversible losses, but from Western perspective, these are little victories: Russia was forced to spend more. As the West does not give a hoot about Ukraine, the US and its vassals can freely celebrate these victories.

So, it all depends on the point of view. The West never cared about aborigines, so their point of view does not come into its calculations.

AnonFromTN says: August 19, 2019 at 1:13 am GMT • 100 Words

@Andrei Martyanov

That’s true, when it comes to resources, there are always alternatives how to spend them.

Currently prevailing mood in Russia is that Ukraine, whoever is the power there, gets nothing, nada, zilch.

Considering how closely Ukrainians are related to Russians, this feat wasn’t easy.

But Ukrainian authorities worked pretty hard to achieve it, and now Ukraine has to live with this new reality. It won’t be pretty. The US was simply following its standard policy: leave a pile of shit, declare victory, and leave, waiting for someone else to clean up.

Now there is only one way Russia would clean up: if the EU pays full price for it. As this is unlikely, the aborigines are going to bear the brunt of the consequences.

[Aug 18, 2019] Ukie nationalism vs Otto von Bismarck by The Saker

Saker is naive and badly educated. It is stupid to call Ukraine an oligarchy. All countries on Earth are oligarchies. The real question is which group of oligarchs is in power. In case of Ukraine those are privatization sharks, the worst kind of neoliberal financial scum. Often real criminals.
Otto von Bismarck created a powerful German state which exists to this day. While vassal of the USA it is still a state now. And Merkel role in EuroMaidan definitely reminds Drang nach Osten in neoliberal packaging. Neocolonialism in its pure form
Ukraine is just a pawn in a bigger geopolitical game of the USA and EU against Russia. That explains in the current state of Ukrainian economics and the level of Ukrainian population sufferings. Ukrainian nationalist paradoxically served as the fifth column for the neoliberal oligarchy. The phenomenon similar to the US nationalists role under Trump.
At the same time despite dismally low standard of living Ukrainian population is showing great resilience in the current hardships and infrastructure while completely worn out still works. But Ukraine is now completely Latin-Americanized, which was the goal of the USA from the very beginning for all Soviet space. Ukraine now is a debt slave of the West which is completely opposite to any nationalist movement goals.
According to Wikipedia just 5% of population lives of less than $5.50 a day. That's baloney. In reality the percentage is probably two-three times times higher (average monthly pension is typically less then $1500 grivna which is less then $60) so most of pensioners live on less then $2 a day. 8 million of the approximately 12 million of Ukrainian pensioners were receiving the minimum pension of 1312 (around $50) while medium pension amounted to 1886 UAH (Pensions in Ukraine - Wikipedia) And 12 million is 28% of Ukrainian population (around 42-43 million total down from 45.55 before EuroMaydan ). It is declining around 200 persons daily. On average there are 462,052 births and 662,571 deaths in Ukraine per year.
While pensioners are definitely starving the situation at least stabilized with grivna around 25 per dollar (something like 300% after the EuroMaydan). So Nuland advantures cost dearly for average Ukrainian.
Notable quotes:
"... These guys are a minority, a pretty small one even, but they have enough muscle and even firepower to threaten any nominal Ukrainian leader. ..."
Aug 18, 2019 | www.unz.com

As I have indicated in a recent article , the Ukraine is not a democracy but an oligarchy : ever since 1991 the most prosperous Soviet republic was mercilessly plundered by an entire class (in the Marxist sense of the word) of oligarchs whose biggest fear has always been that the same "horror" (from their point of view) which befell Russia with Putin, would eventually arrive at the Ukraine.

Here we need to make something clear: this is NOT, repeat, NOT about nationality or nationalism. The Ukrainian oligarchs are just like any other oligarchs: their loyalty is to their money and nothing else. If you want to characterize these oligarchs, you could think of them as culturally "post-Soviet" meaning that they don't care about nationality, and even though their prime language is Russian, they don't give a damn about Russia or Russians (or anybody else, for that matter!). Since many of them are Jews, they have a network of supporters/accomplices in Israel of course, but also in the West and even in Russia. In truth, these guys are the ultimate "internationalists" in their own, toxic, kind of way.

Some fine specimens of "ochlocrats"

The other significant force in the Ukraine is the West Ukrainian (Galician) Nazi death-squads and mobs. Their power is not a democracy either, but an ochlocracy . These guys are a minority, a pretty small one even, but they have enough muscle and even firepower to threaten any nominal Ukrainian leader.


Korenchkin , says: August 15, 2019 at 7:42 am GMT

Can you stop with the Ukronazi crap, what kind of Nazi Government has a Jewish PM and Jewish President ?
Azov guys dying in Donbass and the street thugs in Kiev are just cannon fodder, they don't run shit

The majority of Ukranians don't want to be in this conflict, I don't see the point in demonizing all of them because of some fascist larpers

Malla , says: August 15, 2019 at 12:44 pm GMT
People need to move on from the past and stop all that hating others for some past deeds. Polish or Western Ukrainian hatred for Russians, Russian hatred for Germans, Chinese & Korean hatred for the Japanese, Indian hatred for the British or the Chinese, Black South African hatred for Afrikaners. All these are counter productive for the people and are emotions which can be whipped up by the elites to have commoners die like cannon fodder at worst or to take away attention towards a past historic enemy to hide their own corruption/ incompetence at best.
People need to see things from the other side as well.

As far as the Satanic Zio elite pigs, they will use any ideology as long as it serves them. Democracy, Communism, anti-Communism, Islamic fundamentalism, anti-Islam, Jingoistic Nationalism, Anti-Nationalism/One Worldism, feminism, Hindutva, Buddhist fundamentalism (Sri Lanka BBS and the secret Zionist hand), Neo-Conservatism, Leftism, Colonialism, anti-Colonialism as long it suits them. They use them and discard them away when needed. But this seems to be the most extreme case ever. For the first time the Zio elites are using National Socialism as an ideology to serve them. The ideology which was probably the greatest enemy and threat to the Zio elites, in human history. Freakin crazy!!!

Mr. Hack , says: August 15, 2019 at 2:39 pm GMT
More grist for Saker's suckers. The Galicians (and Ukro-Nazi Jews) are behind everything. In Saker's simplistic mind the Galicians have infiltrated all of Ukrainian society and run the whole show, when in fact this is just a bunch of nonsense. Well, at least Saker is putting to use his favorite Ukrainian pejorative do I really need to repeat it again, ad nauseum?
Colin Wright , says: Website August 15, 2019 at 4:38 pm GMT
' Russia will always remain the reality check on their delusions. This was as true in the distant 13th century as it is nowadays '

It's nit-picking, but you might want to edit that sentence slightly.

In the thirteenth century, both the Ukrainians and the Russians faced more dire threats than each other.

Colin Wright , says: Website August 15, 2019 at 4:53 pm GMT
@Mr. Hack ' Ukro-Nazi Jews '

You have to admit that's an impressive combination.

Adûnâi , says: August 15, 2019 at 6:17 pm GMT
"The other significant force in the Ukraine is the West Ukrainian (Galician) Nazi death-squads and mobs."

Where are death camps for the Jews? Where are racial laws that expel non-Ukrainians? Where is the propaganda of eugenics and healthy lifestyle? Where are construction projects bringing in jobs, and state-subsidized recreation tours?

Ukraine is a Jew-driven shithole that has nothing to do with National Socialism. They don't even honour the sacrifice of the SS Galizien.

"but what they are genuinely fantasizing about is the territory, and only the territory. As for the 2 million-plus virulently anti-Nazi people currently living on these lands, they simply want them either dead or expelled)."

A lie. Currently, more than a half of those "expelled" have migrated inside Ukraine. A stark contrast to Croatia where the Serbs were driven out of the country, and their land given to Croats.

Again, Ukraine is suicidal and full of civic nationalism, nothing about it is blood-based.

"They and their Polish supporters want Russia to break apart in numerous small state-lets which they (or, in their delusional dreams, the Chinese) could dominate."

Why do you consider this as a negative for the Russian people? The current Russian state is in its death throes as much as the US and France – the ethnic Russians are dying out, fleeing and being replaced. Any alternative might prove out more hopeful.

"In contrast, the LDNR forces seem to be doing pretty well, and their morale appears to be as strong as ever (which is unsurprising since their military ethos is based in 1000 years of Russian military history)."

I have to remind you that the Donbass was colonized far more recently than Ukraine – in the 18-19th centuries. What "ancient" traditions?

"but Novorussia also is a never healing wound in the side of Nazi-occupied Ukraine"

The Donbass has never been part of Novorussia which is to the west, from Dniepropetrovsk to Odessa. Admittedly, Novorussia's colonists were mostly from Ukraine – it is clearly seen on the language maps.

"The problem with this slogan is that there is simply no way the (relatively small) Galician population can ever succeed in permanently defeating their much bigger (and, frankly, much smarter) Jewish, Polish or Russian neighbors."

Khmelnitsky managed to do just that – 100k dead Jews. And he's on the Ukrainian currency. Too bad modern "Nazi" Ukrainians have elected a Jew President. This is not the Khmelnitsky uprising, this is Kiev under the Khazar Khaganate before Oleg came from the North.

AP , says: August 15, 2019 at 10:45 pm GMT
It's a of nonsense as usual. This piece is quickly refuted:

ever since 1991 the most prosperous Soviet republic

People who spread this myth are ignorant or liars. It's a common one, though.

In 1990 Ukraine's per capita GDP was $1570.

Russia's was $3485.
Belarus was $2124.

So in Soviet times, Ukraine was the poorest of the three Slavic Soviet Republics. It still is, the position hasn't changed. It's just fallen further behind.

::::::::

Everything else is just as nonsensical, I won't even bother to detail it, most of the commenters here are as dumb/ignorant/dishonest (take your pick) as the author pretends to be.

Curmudgeon , says: August 15, 2019 at 11:15 pm GMT
I don't know where Saker sources his history. Lenin had nothing to do with the creation of Ukraine.

I live in Western Canada, where Ukrainians come starting in the late 19th century. I'm not referring to the primarily German speaking Mennonites that left South Central Ukraine, in the 1870s, fleeing religious persecution. By WWI, more than 200,000 were in Western Canada from all parts of Ukraine. They considered themselves Ukrainians, not Russians, or Galicians. They were, and to a great extent, still are Ukrainian nationalists. There continues to be friction with Polish and German local populations, although prior to the "rebirth" of Ukraine, it had largely subsided. Recent Russian immigrants are shunned as much as the "Poles" and "Germans". Politically, they are generally left of center, and have been since their arrival, although in recent decades more have become "conservative" (whatever that means these days). A long ago former Russian Jewish co-worker who was a late 60s "escapee" from the USSR, told me that he would never vote for one of our political parties, because there were "too many Ukrainians" in the party. I asked a "Ukrainian" friend, who I had known since grade school, what that meant. His explanation was that there had always been tensions between Jews and Ukrainians, for centuries, because of what Ukrainians believed was exploitation by the Jews. Other "Ukrainians" and "Jews" have confirmed this.

The reality is, that most people in most countries just want to live their lives in peace, with a job good enough to provide a decent home and food for the family. That 70% of Ukrainians want that is not surprising, it's normal. That doesn't mean they aren't nationalists, and it doesn't mean they are Nazis. However screwed up they are in trying to do so, Ukrainians are struggling to retain their identity and culture. IMO, they are up against internationalist forces from all sides, and none are interested in letting that happen.

Beckow , says: August 16, 2019 at 1:22 am GMT
@Curmudgeon The Nazi name-calling is over the top, and not just with regard to Ukraine or Galicia. Historical grievances or revisions are not 'Nazism'. Too many people look at Ukraine and over-interpret the nostalgia for Bandera or simple national self-assertion.

But I think Saker is right about where this is going. Russian side has local dominance and that will not change. The only game in town for the last 5 years has been to see if the Western squeeze of Russia will work faster than the Russian squeeze of Ukraine. By now it is obvious that it won't.

Kiev has made some fatal mistakes. E.g. Minsk agreement was an incredibly generous deal, if Poroshenko had half a brain he would had jumped on it and today Donbas would be a remote backwater with autonomy . So? The state would be intact, taxes would be paid, passports centrally issued, etc The eastern European dynamic is that any population always ends up disliking its immediate rulers – how long before local leaders in Donbas would be challenged by some younger corruption fighters.

The whole Maidan thing was also terribly mismanaged – at its core it was about getting the best potential deal for Ukraine with EU (and Russia). In the middle of the negotiation suddenly Maidanistas decided that symbols are more important than reality and basically folded in front of EU. Consequently Russia walked. Thus Kiev got justa bout the worst possible combination on non-EU and deep hostility with Russia. Smarter guys would had handled it much better, playing both sides against each other – raising the stakes.

And let's not even get started on Crimea, while Ukies ate stale cookies, they lost overnight their most valuable possession – they couldn't anticipate it? Being able to anticipate is a key to intelligence and in playing any game.

So we can talk about what or who is driving modern Ukraine, oligarchs, Galicians, Jews, Kiev thugs, Canadians – it doesn't matter, what matters is that they are incompetent. From Yushenko to Zelensky they are amateurs driven by emotion and greed. There is no state-forming force, there is no true Ukrainian nationalism that would play up Ukraine's strengths and manage its weaknesses. Saker is basically right – they are in a no-win cul-de-sac, at this point any move will make their situation worse. Their best (only?) hope is a collapse of Russia. Now, how likely is that?

bevin , says: August 16, 2019 at 1:33 am GMT
@Korenchkin " what kind of Nazi Government has a Jewish PM and Jewish President ?"
Israel.
Felix Keverich , says: August 16, 2019 at 8:23 am GMT
@peterAUS This is not a real nation. There is no such thing as "genuine Ukrainian nationalists".

AP doesn't count – the dude lives in Canada! So Galician nutters is all you get.

Korenchkin , says: August 16, 2019 at 1:14 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich Autism of this degree does not pop out of nowhere
You had Cossacks and Mercenaries from the Ukraine joining up with the Poles, Swedes, Napoleon, Germans and others. Calling diaspora nationalists stupid is all fine and dandy but the constant bickering between people in current Ukraine and in Russia stinks of divide and conquer (which is what Ukraine vs Russia conflicts always were)

Calling them stupid and calling their ethnicity fake(which they make an actual effort to preserve, such as it is) stinks of hypocrisy when so many Great Russians were willing to tear their country, religion and people apart in 1917 and join up with the Bolsheviks in the rape and pillaging

You'd probably get far more progress calling them a branch of Russian civilization, you can cite Belarus and Siberian Ukraine as examples
It's easy to dogpile on some poor Hohol since they will always be on the defensive, but it's much harder to understand him and admit your own faults while not backing down from your standpoint that you are both one people

Serbs often made the same mistakes with Montenegro, and the result is the modern day shitfest where both it and Ukraine are run by hostile US puppets

peter mcloughlin , says: August 16, 2019 at 3:58 pm GMT
The Saker is correct that reality and pragmatism are essential 'when trying to figure out what is going on and what might happen next.' It is a hard calculation to make in a world increasingly chaotic and dark. The Minsk Accord is probably the only glimmer of light for Ukraine, but then all the lights – across the world – are going out.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/
Andrei Martyanov , says: Website August 16, 2019 at 5:36 pm GMT
@Curmudgeon

However screwed up they are in trying to do so, Ukrainians are struggling to retain their identity and culture. IMO, they are up against internationalist forces from all sides, and none are interested in letting that happen.

What you posted is called a generic "to be against everything bad, for everything good". Living in a world of unicorns and having rainbows as result of bowel movement is, of course, a worthy aspiration but reality with Ukraine is a teeny-weeny bit more complicated than mere attempts to "retain their identity and culture". I'll give you a hint, vast swaths of Ukrainian population (including in the East Ukraine) believe, as an example, that Ukrainian civilization precedes a Sumerian one. Many, very many, also still believe that valiant Ukrainian Armed Forces still fight, for the 5th year in a row, mighty Russian Army in the East. We are talking here about down right mental breakdown on a national level, granted, as I always say, modern Ukraine did happen, that is coalesced, as a political nation.

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website August 16, 2019 at 5:58 pm GMT
@Beckow

There is no state-forming force, there is no true Ukrainian nationalism that would play up Ukraine's strengths and manage its weaknesses

There is one–modern Ukraine is a "anti-Russia" project, that is also a foundation of its state ideology and, I may add, mythology.

mejohnr1 , says: August 16, 2019 at 7:37 pm GMT

In the thirteenth century, both the Ukrainians and the Russians faced more dire threats than each other.

In the 13th century there were no Ukrainians or Ukraine. There was Russia though, Rus'. Imagine a US state becoming independent today, from the rest of the US.. like Ohio.. and people are going to say "the first man on the moon was an Ohioan (Armstrong), not an American. Sorry, doesn't work like that..

Commentator Mike , says: August 18, 2019 at 8:10 am GMT
@Colin Wright

' Ukro-Nazi Jews '

You have to admit that's an impressive combination.

Yes, but it wasn't the Saker who invented it; it does seem to reflect what's going on there. My only criticism is that he has given more prominence to the Nazis than the Jews, unless we consider "oligarchs" as a synonym for Jews.

Bardon Kaldian , says: August 18, 2019 at 8:39 am GMT
When I see words like "Nazis" in relation to Ukrainians, I know that article is sh!t & not worth reading.
Commentator Mike , says: August 18, 2019 at 8:42 am GMT
@peterAUS

why he writes like that/we have such posts here?

Like you have said in the past he is taking the Russian side. I think it's a fairly good analysis of the situation if you go beyond his propagandistic terminology and what he leaves unsaid. Russia really doesn't want to engage directly in the conflict but its best policy would be to bide its time and to encourage more pro-Russian separatism in Odessa and all other regions along the coast so as to eventually cut off Ukraine from access to the sea altogether. That would serve Russian interests best and strengthen its position against NATO, the EU, and the rump Ukraine, for whatever is to follow. It's a shame for any real Ukranian nationalists but then they should have been smarter than to join all those colour revolutions on Maidan organised by the CIA, Soros, Jewish oligarchs, etc.

That's a frozen conflict for now. Let's have another article on UR about the latest from the US sponsored colour revolution in Hong Kong and what are the best measures that PR China can take to quell the riots. And it's about time they took back Formosa, but it won't be as easy as the Russian takeover of Crimea, unless they can send a million Red Army guards there disguised as tourists to stage a silent putsch.

Tom Welsh , says: August 18, 2019 at 10:38 am GMT
"As I have indicated in a recent article, the Ukraine is not a democracy but an oligarchy "

Like the USA, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India

None of those countries have ever been democracies in any sense of the word.

Robjil , says: August 18, 2019 at 11:24 am GMT
@Bardon Kaldian Neonazis is a good term for the people used in the Ukrainian ZUS coup. That is the people that was used to gain control of Ukraine for ZUS.

This coup in Ukraine, woke me up.

V. Nuland's war cry to bless the coup was "F–k The EU"

She used Neonazis to take over Ukraine.

Wait. She is Jewish. I guess the 6 million story must be bogus. She admitted it, since if the 6 million story was real. She would have a great fear of a tidal wave of anti-S'ism overcoming her and her people. She had no fear. Thus, the 6 million story was proved to be false by V. Nuland. Thanks V. Nuland for freeing the world of that nightmarish propaganda that has saddled humanity for seventy odd years.

Secondly, she told the world the reality of J. Supremacism by stating " F..k the EU". The world thought that ZUS loved the EU as its sister in world domination. I guess not. Would V. Nuland ever say "F..k Israel"? I think not.

Thanks V. Nuland. A new Queen Esther or Queen Victoria.

Robjil , says: August 18, 2019 at 11:37 am GMT
@Tom Welsh Yes, ZUS ukraine is being run just like the rest of us in the west.

The little people are considered "deplorable" and treated that way.

At least, ZUS ukraine is not be over run by people fleeing ZUS wars and coups.

I guess since ZUS ukraine is not in good shape for these fleeing people.

ZUS ukraine is in the same shape as the nations that the fleeing people come from.

So there is no reason for them to go to ZUS ukraine.

GMC , says: August 18, 2019 at 12:09 pm GMT
Yep, agree with Saker – I lived there before , during and now after the Maidan and he's spot on with most of everything – he has been, since the beginning. Zelinsky has a dozen or more bosses and he has Zero experience in what he's doing. . Zionist Bankers and their arms dealers, Nato, Banderas gang,Washington, US Navy, Monsanto/Bayer, Royal Dutch {shell oil }, Dupont, Lilly Pharma, Cargill, and the list could go on. He'll be lucky if he isn't in Diapers by the time his term is up, otherwise he will be rich. I see that Poroshanster is being called out for taking 8 billion bucks out of Ukie-Ville. I wonder how much Trump and his family will end up stealing?. Thanks Unz Review.
Kiza , says: August 18, 2019 at 1:10 pm GMT
@Beckow

Thus Kiev got justa bout the worst possible combination on non-EU and deep hostility with Russia. Smarter guys would had handled it much better, playing both sides against each other – raising the stakes.

As usual, you nailed it Beckow.
Also, Saker often misunderstands things but he is right that Ukraine is in a one way street mainly because of the out-of-this-World miscalculation that the rotten West will somehow help them instead of use them to create a festering sore on Russian border for just a few billion dollars in loans. It is the rest of Ukraine, excluding Donbas, that will have to pay off these war loans already stolen by the oligarchs.

Anon [424] Disclaimer , says: August 18, 2019 at 1:56 pm GMT

https://www.youtube.com/embed/d2xCLqQnnjs?feature=oembed

Bill Jones , says: August 18, 2019 at 2:23 pm GMT
@Commentator Mike I recall that at the time of the Zionist coup (We do remember Ms Noodleman's : "fuck the EU" don't we?) Ukrainian Nazi's were a leading force in kicking things off.
Skeptikal , says: August 18, 2019 at 2:43 pm GMT
@Mr. Hack "In Saker's simplistic mind the Galicians have infiltrated all of Ukrainian society and run the whole show, "

This was not what I read.
The Saker said that oligarchs and Nazi militia groups have enough power to impose their will and their agenda on the rest of the population.

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website August 18, 2019 at 3:22 pm GMT
@Bardon Kaldian

When I see words like "Nazis" in relation to Ukrainians, I know that article is sh!t & not worth reading.

This is because you don't know what Raguli(stan) is and you cannot possibly know, because there are no "books" written yet which would encapsulate this whole phenomenon. Of course, Ukies have no relation to Fichte and Volkskrieg. Other than that you will find an attentive audience among local ignoramuses.

[Aug 17, 2019] Candidates Must Commit to Immediate US Withdrawal From Afghanistan by Marjorie Cohn

Aug 15, 2019 | truthout.org
In July 30, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported that the Afghan government and international military forces, primarily the United States , caused most of the civilian deaths in Afghanistan during the first six months of 2019. That's more killings than those perpetrated in the same time period by the Taliban and ISIS combined.

Aerial operations were responsible for 519 civilian casualties (356 deaths and 156 injuries), including 150 children (89 deaths and 61 injuries). That constitutes a 39 percent increase in overall civilian casualties from aerial attacks. Eighty-three percent of civilian casualties from aerial operations were carried out by the international forces.

The targeting of civilians amounts to war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

... ... ...

Team Trump's deadly actions are a continuation of the Bush and Obama administrations' commission of the most heinous crimes in Afghanistan. On April 12, the ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber found a "reasonable basis" to believe that the parties to the Afghan conflict, including the U.S. military and the CIA, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, most of them occurring between 2005 and 2015. They include "the war crimes of torture and cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape and other forms of sexual violence pursuant to a policy approved by the U.S. authorities."

The chamber, however, refused to open a formal investigation into those crimes, as recommended by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. In concluding that "an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice," the chamber questioned the feasibility of such a probe. An investigation would be "very wide in scope and encompasses a high number of alleged incidents having occurred over a long time period," the chamber wrote. It noted the extreme difficulty in gauging "the prospects of securing meaningful cooperation from relevant authorities for the future" and found "the current circumstances of the situation in Afghanistan are such as to make the prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution extremely limited."

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a member of the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

[Aug 15, 2019] Ukraine prepares gas facilities for possible transit supply cut, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld

Aug 15, 2019 | economictimes.indiatimes.com

KIEV: Ukraine 's gas transport company Ukrtransgaz has upgraded several gas pumping stations so it can provide gas to eastern and southern regions of the country if there is a disruption in supply from Russia, the company said on Wednesday.

More than a third of Russia's gas exports to the European Union cross Ukraine, providing Kiev with valuable transit income.

Ukraine traditionally uses some of the gas pumped by Russia to European consumers for its own needs in eastern and central regions and then compensates for this by deliveries from gas storage located in the west of the country.

But the Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement is due to expire in January and Ukrainian energy authorities are worried that Moscow could stop gas supplies through Ukraine, leaving some Ukrainian regions without gas in winter.

"As of today, Ukrtransgaz has implemented all the necessary technical and regulatory solutions to create a reliable reverse scheme and it is ready for regular operation and can be activated immediately if necessary," Uktransgaz said in a statement.

It said Ukraine had already reversed gas flows in 2009 when Russian gas giant Gazprom halted gas supplies to Ukrainian consumers because of a price dispute.

Last month, Russian energy minister and several sources said Russia wanted to strike a short-term deal with Kiev on gas transit to Europe when the current 10-year agreement expires to buy time to complete pipelines that will bypass Ukraine.

But Kiev and its European allies want guarantees that Ukraine will remain a transit route for Russian gas to Europe.

In January, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic floated a proposal for the two countries to agree a new 10-year transit contract, with a guaranteed minimum yearly transit volume of 60 bcm and 30 bcm of additional flexibility.

Ukraine's energy firm Naftogaz said last month Kiev was still counting on Sefcovic's proposal.

The potential for problems with the transit agreement, which brings Kiev around $3 billion revenue per year, prompted Ukraine to increase its winter gas reserves by 18% compared with last year to 20 billion cubic meters (bcm).

Naftogaz said this week Ukraine had stored 16.6 bcm of gas by Aug. 10, up from 13.38 bcm at the same time last year.

Ukraine consumed 32.3 bcm of gas in 2018, 10.6 bcm of which was imported from European markets outside Russia.

Relations between Kiev and Moscow plummeted after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014.

Ukraine halted its own purchases of Russian gas in 2015.

[Aug 13, 2019] Application of IMF policy in Argentina has brought what is in effect an economic collapse and astonishing poverty. While this was happening over the months, business news writers were applauding Argentinian austerity reforms

Aug 13, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , August 13, 2019 at 07:02 AM

Application of IMF policy in Argentina has brought what is in effect an economic collapse and astonishing poverty. While this was happening over the months, business news writers were applauding Argentinian austerity reforms. The data (as I repeatedly showed on Economist's View) were bad to grim, but business reporting found no problem.

[Aug 12, 2019] Argentine president suffers crushing defeat in key primaries ahead of general election

Is this the end of the neoliberal counterrevolution in Argentina ? Moor did its duty moor has to go -- Macri converted Argentina into the Debt slave again and now to get out of this situation is nest to impossible.
Aug 12, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , August 12, 2019 at 05:52 AM

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-08-12/Argentine-president-suffers-crushing-defeat-in-key-primaries--J5Ov4caLvi/index.html

August 12, 2019

Argentine president suffers crushing defeat in key primaries ahead of general election

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri suffered a crushing defeat as people voted in party primaries on Sunday ahead of October's general election.

Given that all of the recession-hit South American country's major parties have already chosen their presidential candidates, the primaries effectively served as a nationwide pre-election opinion poll.

Center-left nominee Alberto Fernandez led by around 15 points after partial results were revealed. Center-right Pro-business Macri admitted it had been "a bad election."
The first round of the presidential election will be held on October 27, with a run-off – if needed – set for November 24.

With 87 percent of polling station results counted, Fernandez had polled 47.5 percent with Macri on a little more than 32 percent and centrist former finance minister Roberto Lavagna a distant third on just 8.3 percent.

Macri had been hoping to earn a second mandate, but his chances appear all but over.

If Fernandez was to register the same result in October, he would be president as Argentina's electoral law requires a candidate to gain 45 percent for outright victory, or 40 percent and a lead of at least 10 points over the nearest challenger.

Inflation and poverty

"We've had a bad election and that forces us to redouble our efforts from tomorrow," said Macri, whose popularity has plunged since last year's currency crisis and the much-criticized 56 billion U.S.-dollar bail-out loan he secured from the International Monetary Fund.

"It hurts that we haven't had the support we'd hoped for," he added.

Argentina is currently in a recession and posted 22 percent inflation for the first half of the year – one of the highest rates in the world. Poverty now affects 32 percent of the population.

Backed by the IMF, Macri has initiated an austerity plan that is deeply unpopular among ordinary Argentines, who have seen their spending power plummet.

The peso lost half of its value against the dollar last year. The Buenos Aires stock exchange actually shot up eight percent on Friday amid expectation that Macri would do well in Sunday's vote.

anne -> anne... , August 12, 2019 at 06:22 AM
IMF loan of $56 billion:

Then;

Austerity,

Inflation rate 22% from January to June 2019,

Poverty rate 32%,

Peso lost 50% in value in 2018.

anne -> anne... , August 12, 2019 at 07:03 AM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=onpw

August 4, 2014

Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico, 1992-2018

(Percent change)


https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=onpx

August 4, 2014

Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico, 1992-2018

(Indexed to 1992)

anne , August 12, 2019 at 04:01 PM
An important task now is to understand why the IMF assistance to Argentina proved damaging to the economy from the beginning; the data showed the damage being done. However, there was almost no mention of the problems that developed outside Argentina and there was surprise when the failure of the economy was reflected in the serious vote against the current president.

Of course, Joseph Stiglitz watched the same sort of problems unfold in Argentina almost 20 years ago and was severely criticized for discussing them. How did the problems recur so readily now? Why is IMF national assistance seemingly so dangerous economically?

[Aug 05, 2019] The war in Afghanistan has reached new levels of insanity as a UN report shows US forces are killing more civilians than ISIS and Taliban combined

Aug 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Matt Agorist via TheFreeThoughtProject.com,

The war in Afghanistan has reached new levels of insanity as a UN report shows US forces are killing more civilians than ISIS and Taliban combined.

For the last several decades, the US government has openly funded, supported, and armed various terrorist networks throughout the world to forward an agenda of destabilization and proxy war. It is not a secret, nor a conspiracy theory -- America arms bad guys . The situation has gotten so overtly corrupt that the government admitted in May the Pentagon asked Congress for funding to reimburse terrorists for their transportation and other expenses. Seriously. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. A new report from the United Nations shows the US and its allies in Afghanistan have killed more innocent men, women, and children than the group they claim are the bad guys, the Taliban.

The now 18-year-old quagmire in Afghanistan is raising serious questions and once again, it appears that the civilians are taking the brunt of the hit -- not the ostensible enemy.

According to a report in the NY Times:

In the first six months of the year, the conflict killed nearly 1,400 civilians and wounded about 2,400 more. Afghan forces and their allies caused 52 percent of the civilian deaths compared with 39 percent attributable to militants -- mostly the Taliban, but also the Islamic State. The figures do not total 100 percent because responsibility for some deaths could not be definitively established.

The higher civilian death toll caused by Afghan and American forces comes from their greater reliance on airstrikes, which are particularly deadly for civilians. The United Nations said airstrikes resulted in 363 civilian deaths and 156 civilian injuries.

"While the number of injured decreased, the number of civilians killed more than doubled in comparison to the first six months of 2018, highlighting the lethal character of this tactic," the United Nations report said, referring to airstrikes.

Naturally, the US military calls this report by the UN anti-American propaganda.

"We assess and investigate all credible allegations of noncombatant casualties in this complex environment, whereas others intentionally target public areas, use civilians as human shields and attempt to hide the truth through lies and propaganda," Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for the United States military, said.

The line between the ostensible "good guys" and the "bad guys" has gotten so blurred that the good guys are now openly supporting the bad while simultaneously killing more innocent people than the bad ones. It's a story straight out of The Onion, but in real life.

While the idea of the US government paying to support terrorists or killing more civilians than terrorists may seem like a crazed notion it has become so overt in recent years that legislation was specifically introduced for the sole purpose of banning the the flow of money to terrorist organizations.

However, given the insidious history of the American empire and its creation and fostering of terrorist regimes across the globe, it should come as no surprise that the overwhelming majority of politicians would refuse to sign on to a law that requires them to 'Stop Arming Terrorists.' And, in 2017, that is exactly what happened.

The text of the bill was quite simple and contained no hidden agendas. It merely stated that it prohibits the use of federal agency funds to provide covered assistance to: (1) Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or any individual or group that is affiliated with, associated with, cooperating with, or adherents to such groups; or (2) the government of any country that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) determines has, within the most recent 12 months, provided covered assistance to such a group or individual.

The only thing the bill did was prohibit the US government from giving money and weapons to people who want to murder Americans and who do murder innocent men, women, and children across the globe. It is quite possibly the simplest and most rational bill ever proposed by Congress. Given its rational and humanitarian nature, one would think that representatives would have been lining up to show their support. However, one would be wrong and in the five months after it was proposed, just 13 members of Congress signed on as co-sponsors.

Not only is the United States refusing to stop arming terrorists, but now they are becoming more violent than the terrorists they claim to fight. At what point do the American people wake up to this insanity?

Sadly, it appears that the American people couldn't care less about innocent men women and children being slaughtered with their tax dollars on the other side of the planet. They only seem to pay attention to the area when one of these people -- whose seen their children blown to a fine red mist by a US drone strike -- acts out in a retaliatory way. But instead of understanding that this is blowback caused by US foreign policy, Boobus Americanus thinks these people simply "hate our freedom."

Terrorism is necessary for the state. War, is the health of the state.

Without the constant fear mongering about an enemy who 'hates our freedom', Americans begin questioning things. They challenge the status quo and inevitably desire more freedom. However, when they are told that boogeymen want to kill them, they become immediately complacent and blinded by their fear.

While these boogeymen were once mostly mythical, since 9/11, they have been funded and supported by the US to the point that they now pose a very real threat to innocent people everywhere. As the horrific attacks earlier this year in Sri Lanka illustrate, terrorists are organizing and spreading.

Terrorists groups have been exposed inside the UK as well for having ties to the British government who allowed them to freely travel and train with ISIS-linked groups because those groups were in opposition to Muammar Gaddafi, who the West wanted to snub out.

It's a vicious cycle of creating terrorists, killing innocence, and stoking war. And, unless something radical happens, it shows no signs of ever reversing.

The radical change that is necessary to shift this paradigm back to peace is for people to wake up to the reality that no matter which puppet is in the White House, the status quo remains unchanged.

Trump is proving that he can lie to get into power and his supporters ignore it. If you doubt this fact, look at what Trump did by calling out Saudi Arabia for their role in 9/11 and their support for terror worldwide prior to getting elected. He now supports these terrorists and his constituency couldn't care less.

This madness has to stop. Humanity has to stop being fooled by rhetoric read from teleprompters by puppets doing the bidding of their masters. If Americans aren't shaken out of this stupor by the idea that the US military and its allies are now killing more innocent people than the Taliban and ISIS -- combined -- perhaps


herbivore , 15 minutes ago link

But we love them anyway. They are our heroes, bravely fighting for our freedoms in Afghanistan. Unless we kill the Afghanis over there, they'll come here to kill us. Sure, sometimes our boys kill innocents, but come on, we all know there are no innocent Muslims. Even if they're kids, they'll eventually grow up to be terrorists so better to kill them sooner than later. USA! USA! Woof! Woof!

Blankone , 25 minutes ago link

What kind of person, really, joins the US military today?

It was shown long ago that the Iraq war was based upon lies. Killing civilians, bombing hospitals, air attacks on weddings, stabbing captured and unconscious enemy in the throat (and getting away with it), clearly there is no threat to the US to justify the killing ...

But the actual killers are getting a bit of a surprise. Women are being promoted past them and over them. The PC rules are ruining the boys club and even their language is monitored. The officers don't give a damn other than progressing to full colonel at least, retiring with a nice pension and then working for high pay for the private defense companies. The killers think they will be admired, but they are just tools and may even be pushed out.

ChaoKrungThep , 19 minutes ago link

Yep. No rape fun, no genocide, can't even bayonet a pregnant girl without the CO gettin' pissed. I'm joining the circus.

bismillah , 31 minutes ago link

Interestingly, through all the US bombing and killing, the population of Afghanistan has increased from about 19 million in 2001 to about 37 million today, nearly doubling during the senseless US attacks on their culture and people.

Fantasy Free Economics , 34 minutes ago link

Sometimes much can be learned by asking simple questions. Why? Simple questions most often have answers. Complex questions emerge because folks can't bear to hear the answers to the simple ones. A simple question that would be good to ask now is. Why are we fighting in Afghanistan? http://quillian.net/blog/your-punishment-for-believing-lies/

artistant , 38 minutes ago link

ALL wars are EVIL. Period .

[Aug 04, 2019] PODCAST The IMF and World Bank Partners In Backwardness, # 407 by Bonnie Faulkner

Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street bankers funded all those 'anti colonial movements' in the first place. They wanted to deal with some corrupt brown black politician over an honest White/Japanese colonial officer. ..."
"... What many people do not know is that the after the damage done by the Great Depression (the total Wall Street take over of the US Economy and the looting of independent of American business with the help of the private 'Federal' reserve ), The British Government put restrictions on trade in between the British Empire and USA to protect the economies of Britain and all of her colonies from the Wall Street pigs. ..."
Aug 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

The IMF and World Bank: Partners In Backwardness, # 407 with Michael Hudson Guns & Butter / Bonnie Faulkner June 22, 2019 9 Comments Reply Listen ॥ ■ ► RSS

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Michael Hudson discusses his seminal work of 1972, Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire, a critique of how the US exploits foreign economies through IMF and World bank debt; difference between the IMF and World Bank; World Bank dysfunctional from the outset; loans made in foreign currency only; policy to provide loans for countries to devote their land to export plantation crops; US food and monetary imperialism; U.S. agricultural protectionism built into the postwar global system; promotion of dependency on the US as food supplier; food blackmail; perpetration of world poverty preferred; no encouragement of land reform; privatization of the public domain; America aided, not foreign economies; exploitation of mineral deposits; bribery; foreign nations politically controlled at the top; veto power for US only.


Malla , says: June 25, 2019 at 5:30 am GMT

This was planned decades ago. That is why Wall Street bankers funded all those 'anti colonial movements' in the first place. They wanted to deal with some corrupt brown black politician over an honest White/Japanese colonial officer.

From the book: The New Unhappy Lords
https://ia800500.us.archive.org/23/items/TheNewUnhappyLords/TheNewUnhappyLords.pdf

"As far as is known "America's" anti-British policy was first given concrete expression in the brief that General Marshall took with him to the Quebec Conference in 1943.
This was to the effect that the greatest single obstacle to the expansion of America's export-capitalism after the war would be not the Soviet Union but the British Empire. What this meant, in practical terms, was that as soon as the enemies in the field had been disposed of would come the turn of the British Empire to be progressively destroyed and that means to this end would be shaped even while hostilities raged. The moment they were over the campaign could begin in real earnest, the signal for which was to be Truman's abrupt dropping of Lend-Lease to an ally whose economy had been so closely geared to war production that many markets for her goods had been systematically referred to U.S producers.
The British Empire was not the only ally marked down for liquidation. The Dutch Empire in the East Indies and the French Empire in Indo-China and Africa were also high on the list "

What many people do not know is that the after the damage done by the Great Depression (the total Wall Street take over of the US Economy and the looting of independent of American business with the help of the private 'Federal' reserve ), The British Government put restrictions on trade in between the British Empire and USA to protect the economies of Britain and all of her colonies from the Wall Street pigs.

In Page 22 of the book we read

"However, as has happened time and again throughout history, the money-lenders had tended to overplay their hand. The six million German unemployed who were the victims of the "Great Depression" resulted in a formidable revolt against the Money Power -- the revolt of Adolf Hitler. There was also a rebellion, although of a much milder kind, in Great Britain and the British nations overseas, whose representatives met in Ottawa in 1932 to hammer out a system of Imperial Preferences calculated to insulate the British world against Wall St. amok-runs. These Preferences, as we shall see, incurred the unrelenting hostility of the New York Money Power and the only reason why a show-down was not forced was the far more serious threat to the international financial system implicit in the econo­mic doctrines of the Third Reich."

In other words, the Wall street greedy pigs after devouring American industry came to the conclusion that they faced a major threat from Third Reich Germany (the barter system used by the regime) as well as to a lesser extent from the British Empire (and other Empires). Hence the war to destroy Third Reich Germany, Japanese Empire and Italy and then after the war the eventual slow destruction of the European Empires, especially the British Empire. And hence we suddenly see 'independence movements' sprouting all over the world and succeeding. Even before the war we had 'independence movements' and 'communist movements' all around the world thanks to their pet 'Soviet Russia's' agents going all around and 'radicalisng the masses', all with the blessings of Wall Street Banker pigs.

J. Gutierrez , says: June 27, 2019 at 9:26 pm GMT
@Malla Hi Malla,

I'm curious do you live in Britain? I would bet you do because of your relentless protection of the British Empire. The British Empire has been working on Economic World Domination since Cecil Rhodes established the Round Table groups. I agree with a comment you made about British citizens not being responsible for their government's tretment of countries in the colonial era. The same can be said about the American citizen if you place all the blame on the political class and Wall Street. But then we have to take into consideration the benefits that the English and American citizen receive from their government's crimminal dealings. As long as they live better than anyone else in the world, they will not protest against the hand that feed them.

This artilce (audio) uncovers the reason why America and Britian along with their Anglo Saxon partners Canada and Australia control other country's economies. Creating poverty in other countries keeps the Anglo Saxon countries ecomomically superiour at the expense of the poor throughout the world. If American and British citizens stopped their government's continued assault on third world countries the immigration crisis would end.

America and England have been dominant over other countries with the help of their Jewish partners for a long time Malla. As you commented to me, they have married into prominent British Society. I'm sorry Malla, but there is a Mexican saying "Tanta culpa tiene el que mata la vaca que el que detiene la pata". Translation: "The person that holds the cows feet is as guilty as the one that kills it". Meaning when you unknowingly participate in a crime you are just as responsible as the one commiting it.

It's hard for decent Americans and British people to see themselves as perpitrators of such horrible injustices because most of them are very warm and loving Christian people I'm sure. But so are the people of the countries their government target. Until people stop looking at the problems we are all facing as a Christian/Muslim – White/Black – High IQ/Low IQ problem, things will only get worse. The real problem as I see it is a Social Class problem as we can see by this article. The Elites have no problem helping Blacks and other races as long as they are the Rich Elites. The lower class people can starve white, black, brown, etc. it doesn't matter just another day in the life of a parasite.

The problem as I see it, can only be solved by the "White" people that are socially below the Elites in power and take it away from them. The reason why I say that is because history tells us that when the Social underclass revolts against the oppressor government as so many have in Latin America, the U.S. send their military to help the crimminal leaders and the people are murdered. The problem needs to be stopped at the source or else nothing can change. We can talk about the Jews till we're bloe in face, but it is clear as to who is responsible

J. Gutierrez , says: June 27, 2019 at 9:42 pm GMT
@Malla I am so surprised there are only 2 comments on this article! This is the most important information on this site I like your comments Malla, you're a very smart Lady me I'm just a Rebel that hates bullies with a passion! Some of my comments are very rough around the edges depending on the level of racism and ignorance the commentator writes. But, always respectful to the opposite sex. Thanks for engaging Have a nice day.
Rita , says: July 3, 2019 at 5:52 pm GMT
Very impressive interview. Indeed, it is shocking when all piracy strategies are put together the brilliante way Professor Hudson does. A lecture for everybody.
Jon Baptist , says: July 6, 2019 at 7:15 pm GMT
@J. Gutierrez

We can talk about the Jews till we're bloe in face, but it is clear as to who is responsible

Who do you think is behind British and American Imperialism? As per Ron Unz's findings, who was behind Bolshevism? Regarding social and political control, there is always a Zionist element. Look at the World Bank, the CFR, the Chabad Lubavitch presence behind Netanyahu, Putin and Trump. Look at media, music and education. What about the Warburgs both in the United States and in Nazi Germany. https://www.onjewishmatters.com/archives/18428

John Ruskin was the mentor of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University. Cecil Rhodes was a member of the "Society of the Elect" along with Rothschild. ( See pg. 311 http://www.carrollquigley.net/pdf/The_Anglo-American_Establishment.pdf ) Rothschild proud founder of the state of israel. Below are photos of John Ruskin's grave. Why is there a Swastika placed between 1819 and 1900? Also, why is there a Menorah on his headstone? "The seven branch menorah was used in the ancient temple of Jerusalem The menorah is part of the coat of arms of the modern State of Israel." – https://www.judaicawebstore.com/7-branched-menorahs-C918.aspx

[MORE] https://images.findagrave.com/photos/2002/285/6300_1034517077.jpg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIA4EkvpLtc
Malla , says: July 6, 2019 at 9:46 pm GMT
@J. Gutierrez

I'm curious do you live in Britain? I would bet you do because of your relentless protection of the British Empire.

Nope in India. The European Empires had their good sides and bad sides.

Malla , says: July 6, 2019 at 9:53 pm GMT
@J. Gutierrez

Creating poverty in other countries keeps the Anglo Saxon countries ecomomically superiour at the expense of the poor throughout the world. If American and British citizens stopped their government's continued assault on third world countries the immigration crisis would end.

I disagree completely. In most brown black countries, the people themselves exploit each other and cause all the screw ups. Most people here in India (poor or rich) cheat, swindle and ruthlessly exploit others. Of course you have the IMF gang hovering around for their loot but they are not the main factor in many third world countries.

Tsigantes , says: July 9, 2019 at 6:31 pm GMT
Absolutely outstanding!

Thank you Bonnie for asking the perfect questions and thank you Michael for your ever incisive and brilliantly clear answers. Together this interview is the perfect Predatory Economics 101 for ordinary people, i.e. the Bonnie & Michael course

I write this from Athens Greece in 2019, 3 days after our US educated (Harvard & Stanford) oligarchical class has just been voted back into power with a parliamentary majority in bone-headed but fully deserved reaction to Tsipras the fake left traitor. Very sad and very silly since Greece is a 100% captive colony of EU / Washington. The only upside is that with the Trotskyists out Greeks will be able to keep our icons and our Orthodoxy, something we shall need more than ever.

[Aug 03, 2019] "The objective is to gain financial control of global resources and make trade 'partners' pay interest, licensing fees and high prices for products in which the United States enjoys monopoly pricing 'rights' for intellectual property.

Aug 03, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

ben , Aug 3 2019 1:05 utc | 40

karlof1 , Aug 3 2019 1:17 utc | 41

Passer by @36--

One of Neoliberalism's assets as Hudson explains is "Intellectual Property" which is another rent-seeking economic segment and part of Trump's Unilateral Pirate Ship. I think you'll benefit from this Hudson paper detailing Cold War 2.0:

"The objective is to gain financial control of global resources and make trade 'partners' pay interest, licensing fees and high prices for products in which the United States enjoys monopoly pricing 'rights' for intellectual property. A trade war thus aims to make other countries dependent on U.S.-controlled food, oil, banking and finance, or high-technology goods whose disruption will cause austerity and suffering until the trade 'partner' surrenders."

The Empire's dilemma is it's made education costs so high it can't get the domestic talent it requires to continue its rapidly diminishing technological superiority, thus the need for "more allies to bypass Huawei"--note the word usage, "bypass", not compete with or surpass, the connotation being its removal as a rival, thus continuing dependency on US-based tech.

Not entirely unrelated is my comment to vk at 8 above. The Outlaw US Empire is most certainly classified as a Complex Society that tries to solve its problems with ever more complex solutions that eventually lead to negative returns that further complicate the problem. (Listen to the podcast here by Joseph Tainter, author of The Collapse Of Complex Societies , where you can also download a pdf copy!) With the USAF and the military as a whole, increasing amounts of money are thrown at ever increasingly complex weapons systems yet performance in all sectors deteriorates while the ability to recruit also degrades. The problems are widely written about and are often cited here. And as we see with Iran and other examples, elegant simplicity can defeat multilayered complexity. But Imperial policy makers continue to double-down which further increases the complexity of the situation. Ouch!!

[Aug 01, 2019] In Oct it will be 18 full years in Afghanistan. The US is not a learning organization.

Aug 01, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

ilsm -> im1dc... , August 01, 2019 at 04:22 AM

In Oct it will be 18 full years in Afghanistan. The US is not a learning organization.

If you trust the media, you trust the hugely funded propaganda machine that makes Goebbels look stone age primitive.

I am a bit sensitive this week, I am finishing Gloria Emerson's "Winner and Losers" scratching a lot of scars from Vietnam. Not easy reading if you changed your mind once the blither was exposed.

Somewhere over Delong's it was recommended and amazon had a hardcover for $1.56........

Bottomline from Winners and Losers: The blither is reminiscent and much of the news topics the same.

[Jul 29, 2019] Peace in Ukraine by Stephen F. Cohen

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... His electorally repudiated predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, backed by supporters in Washington, thwarted almost every preceding opportunity for negotiations both with the Donbass rebels and with Moscow, ..."
"... But the struggle for peace has just begun, with powerful forces arrayed against it in Ukraine, Moscow, and Washington. In Ukraine, well-armed ultra-nationalist -- some would say quasi-fascist -- detachments are terrorizing supporters of Zelensky's initiative, including a Kiev television station that proposed broadcasting a dialogue between Russian and Ukrainian citizens. ..."
"... Which brings us to Washington and in particular to President Donald Trump and his would-be opponent in 2020, former vice president Joseph Biden. Kiev's government, thus now Zelensky, is heavily dependent on billions of dollars of aid from the International Monetary Fund, which Washington largely controls. Former president Barack Obama and Biden, his "point man" for Ukraine, used this financial leverage to exercise semi-colonial influence over Poroshenko, generally making things worse, including the incipient Ukrainian civil war. Their hope was, of course, to sever Ukraine's centuries-long ties to Russia and even bring it eventually into the US-led NATO sphere of influence. ..."
"... Biden, however, has a special problem -- and obligation. As an implementer, and presumably architect, of Obama's disastrous policy in Ukraine, and currently the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Biden should be asked about his past and present thinking regarding Ukraine. The much-ballyhooed ongoing "debates" are an opportunity to ask the question -- and of other candidates as well. Presidential debates are supposed to elicit and clarify the views of candidates on domestic and foreign policy. And among the latter, few, if any, are more important than Ukraine, which remains the epicenter of this new and more dangerous Cold War. ..."
Jul 29, 2019 | www.thenation.com

The election of Ukraine's new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who won decisively throughout most of the country, represents the possibility of peace with Russia, if it -- and he -- are given a chance. His electorally repudiated predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, backed by supporters in Washington, thwarted almost every preceding opportunity for negotiations both with the Donbass rebels and with Moscow, notably provisions associated with the European-sponsored Minsk Accords. Zelensky, on the other hand, has made peace (along with corruption) his top priority and indeed spoke directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, on July 11. The nearly six-year war having become a political, diplomatic, and financial drain on his leadership, Putin welcomed the overture.

But the struggle for peace has just begun, with powerful forces arrayed against it in Ukraine, Moscow, and Washington. In Ukraine, well-armed ultra-nationalist -- some would say quasi-fascist -- detachments are terrorizing supporters of Zelensky's initiative, including a Kiev television station that proposed broadcasting a dialogue between Russian and Ukrainian citizens. (Washington has previously had some shameful episodes of collusion with these Ukrainian neo-Nazis .) As for Putin, who does not fully control the Donbass rebels or its leaders, he "can never be seen at home," as I pointed out more than two years ago , "as 'selling out' Russia's 'brethren' anywhere in southeast Ukraine." Indeed, his own implacable nationalists have made this a litmus test of his leadership.

Which brings us to Washington and in particular to President Donald Trump and his would-be opponent in 2020, former vice president Joseph Biden. Kiev's government, thus now Zelensky, is heavily dependent on billions of dollars of aid from the International Monetary Fund, which Washington largely controls. Former president Barack Obama and Biden, his "point man" for Ukraine, used this financial leverage to exercise semi-colonial influence over Poroshenko, generally making things worse, including the incipient Ukrainian civil war. Their hope was, of course, to sever Ukraine's centuries-long ties to Russia and even bring it eventually into the US-led NATO sphere of influence.

Our hope should be that Trump breaks with that long-standing bipartisan policy, as he did with policy toward North Korea, and puts America squarely on the side of peace in Ukraine. (For now, Zelensky has set aside Moscow's professed irreversible "reunification" with Crimea, as should Washington.) A new US policy must include recognition, previously lacking, that the citizens of war-ravaged Donbass are not primarily "Putin's stooges" but people with their own legitimate interests and preferences, even if they favor Russia. Here too Zelensky is embarking on a new course. Poroshenko waged an "anti-terrorist" war against Donbass: the new president is reaching out to its citizens even though most of them were unable to vote in the election.

Biden, however, has a special problem -- and obligation. As an implementer, and presumably architect, of Obama's disastrous policy in Ukraine, and currently the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Biden should be asked about his past and present thinking regarding Ukraine. The much-ballyhooed ongoing "debates" are an opportunity to ask the question -- and of other candidates as well. Presidential debates are supposed to elicit and clarify the views of candidates on domestic and foreign policy. And among the latter, few, if any, are more important than Ukraine, which remains the epicenter of this new and more dangerous Cold War.

This commentary is based on Stephen F. Cohen's most recent weekly discussion with the host of The John Batchelor Show . Now in their sixth year, previous installments are at TheNation.com .

[Jul 05, 2019] How Christine Lagarde, Clinton and Nuland Funded a Massive Ukrainian Ponzi Scheme

Notable quotes:
"... Kolomoisky is the man who controls the recently elected Jewish president Zelensky -- a comedian. ..."
"... Let's not forget that Theresa May is the one who has worked assiduously on trying to overcome the results of the British referendum. She does not believe in democracy. ..."
"... This man most certainly made a substantial offshore payment to Largarde or her companies or her lawyers. That is how it works everywhere. ..."
Jul 05, 2019 | www.unz.com

Alfred , July 5, 2019 at 7:38 am GMT 200 Words

Christine Lagarde is a convicted criminal

Christine Lagarde: IMF chief convicted over payout

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38369822

She robbed the French taxpayer of some 404 billion Euros. The fact that she is not in prison while protesters are being injured weekly by the French police tells you a lot about why these people are protesting.

Since then, she has continued with her corrupt behaviour by greatly enriching the Ukrainian/Israeli oligarch Kolomoisky -- who robbed his own bank.

How Christine Lagarde, Clinton and Nuland Funded a Massive Ukrainian Ponzi Scheme

https://russia-insider.com/en/how-christine-lagarde-clinton-and-nuland-funded-massive-ukrainian-ponzi-scheme/ri27390

Kolomoisky is the man who controls the recently elected Jewish president Zelensky -- a comedian.

I think the writer pays too much to the attire of May and Lagarde -- The pearls, the tweed and gingham suits -- when their corruption is totally 21st century. Let's not forget that Theresa May is the one who has worked assiduously on trying to overcome the results of the British referendum. She does not believe in democracy. Replies: @Logan , @George F. Held

Paul , says: Next New Comment July 5, 2019 at 10:43 am GMT

@Paul

One of the functions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is imposing austerity measures on the people of poor countries seeking bailouts, so perhaps choosing a corporate lawyer to run it is fitting.

Alfred , says: Next New Comment July 5, 2019 at 3:05 pm GMT
@Logan ness tampering. After a high-profile case against public prosecutor Éric de Montgolfier, he was sentenced in 1995 by the Court of Appeals of Douai to 2 years in prison, including 8 months non-suspended and 3 years of deprivation of his civic rights.

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

This man most certainly made a substantial offshore payment to Largarde or her companies or her lawyers. That is how it works everywhere.

Do you think they cannot close down all the secretive island tax-havens tomorrow if they really wished to do so?

Heavens, they have cut Iran from SWIFT but they have never done anything about the BVI etc.

[Jul 05, 2019] The World Bank and IMF 2019 by Michael Hudson and Bonnie Faulkner

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The purpose of a military conquest is to take control of foreign economies, to take control of their land and impose tribute. The genius of the World Bank was to recognize that it's not necessary to occupy a country in order to impose tribute, or to take over its industry, agriculture and land. Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering. As long as other countries play an artificial economic game that U.S. diplomacy can control, finance is able to achieve today what used to require bombing and loss of life by soldiers ..."
"... It was set up basically by the United States in 1944, along with its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their purpose was to create an international order like a funnel to make other countries economically dependent on the United States ..."
"... American diplomats insisted on the ability to veto any action by the World Bank or IMF. The aim of this veto power was to make sure that any policy was, in Donald Trump's words, to put America first. "We've got to win and they've got to lose." ..."
"... The World Bank was set up from the outset as a branch of the military, of the Defense Department. John J. McCloy (Assistant Secretary of War, 1941-45), was the first full-time president ..."
"... Many countries had two rates: one for goods and services, which was set normally by the market, and then a different exchange rate that was managed for capital movements. That was because countries were trying to prevent capital flight. They didn't want their wealthy classes or foreign investors to make a run on their own currency – an ever-present threat in Latin America. ..."
"... The IMF and the World Bank backed the cosmopolitan classes, the wealthy. Instead of letting countries control their capital outflows and prevent capital flight, the IMF's job is to protect the richest One Percent and foreign investors from balance-of-payments problems ..."
"... The IMF enables its wealthy constituency to move their money out of the country without taking a foreign-exchange loss ..."
"... Wall Street speculators have sold the local currency short to make a killing, George-Soros style. ..."
"... When the debtor-country currency collapses, the debts that these Latin American countries owe are in dollars, and now have to pay much more in their own currency to carry and pay off these debts. ..."
"... Local currency is thrown onto the foreign-exchange market for dollars, lowering the exchange rate. That increases import prices, raising a price umbrella for domestic products. ..."
"... Instead, the IMF says just the opposite: It acts to prevent any move by other countries to bring the debt volume within the ability to be paid. It uses debt leverage as a way to control the monetary lifeline of financially defeated debtor countries. ..."
"... This control by the U.S. financial system and its diplomacy has been built into the world system by the IMF and the World Bank claiming to be international instead of an expression of specifically U.S. New Cold War nationalism. ..."
"... The same thing happened in Greece a few years ago, when almost all of Greece's foreign debt was owed to Greek millionaires holding their money in Switzerland ..."
"... The IMF could have seized this money to pay off the bondholders. Instead, it made the Greek economy pay. It found that it was worth wrecking the Greek economy, forcing emigration and wiping out Greek industry so that French and German bondholding banks would not have to take a loss. That is what makes the IMF so vicious an institution. ..."
"... America was able to grab all of Iran's foreign exchange just by the banks interfering. The CIA has bragged that it can do the same thing with Russia. If Russia does something that U.S. diplomats don't like, the U.S. can use the SWIFT bank payment system to exclude Russia from it, so the Russian banks and the Russian people and industry won't be able to make payments to each other. ..."
"... You can't create the money, especially if you're running a balance of payments deficit and if U.S. foreign policy forces you into deficit by having someone like George Soros make a run on your currency. Look at the Asia crisis in 1997. Wall Street funds bet against foreign currencies, driving them way down, and then used the money to pick up industry cheap in Korea and other Asian countries. ..."
"... This was also done to Russia's ruble. The only country that avoided this was Malaysia, under Mohamed Mahathir, by using capital controls. Malaysia is an object lesson in how to prevent a currency flight. ..."
"... Client kleptocracies take their money and run, moving it abroad to hard currency areas such as the United States, or at least keeping it in dollars in offshore banking centers instead of reinvesting it to help the country catch up by becoming independent agriculturally, in energy, finance and other sectors. ..."
"... But in shaping the World Trade Organization's rules, the United States said that all countries had to promote free trade and could not have government support, except for countries that already had it. We're the only country that had it. That's what's called "grandfathering". ..."
Jul 05, 2019 | www.unz.com

"The purpose of a military conquest is to take control of foreign economies, to take control of their land and impose tribute. The genius of the World Bank was to recognize that it's not necessary to occupy a country in order to impose tribute, or to take over its industry, agriculture and land. Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering. As long as other countries play an artificial economic game that U.S. diplomacy can control, finance is able to achieve today what used to require bombing and loss of life by soldiers."

I'm Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter: Dr. Michael Hudson. Today's show: The IMF and World Bank: Partners In Backwardness . Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is President of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trend, a Wall Street Financial Analyst, and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

His most recent books include " and Forgive them Their Debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year "; Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy , and J Is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception . He is also author of Trade, Development and Foreign Debt , among many other books.

We return today to a discussion of Dr. Hudson's seminal 1972 book, Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire , a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank, with a special emphasis on food imperialism.

... ... ...

Bonnie Faulkner : In your seminal work form 1972, Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire , you write: "The development lending of the World Bank has been dysfunctional from the outset." When was the World Bank set up and by whom?

Michael Hudson : It was set up basically by the United States in 1944, along with its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their purpose was to create an international order like a funnel to make other countries economically dependent on the United States. To make sure that no other country or group of countries – even all the rest of the world – could not dictate U.S. policy. American diplomats insisted on the ability to veto any action by the World Bank or IMF. The aim of this veto power was to make sure that any policy was, in Donald Trump's words, to put America first. "We've got to win and they've got to lose."

The World Bank was set up from the outset as a branch of the military, of the Defense Department. John J. McCloy (Assistant Secretary of War, 1941-45), was the first full-time president. He later became Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (1953-60). McNamara was Secretary of Defense (1961-68), Paul Wolfowitz was Deputy and Under Secretary of Defense (1989-2005), and Robert Zoellick was Deputy Secretary of State. So I think you can look at the World Bank as the soft shoe of American diplomacy.

Bonnie Faulkner : What is the difference between the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the IMF? Is there a difference?

Michael Hudson : Yes, there is. The World Bank was supposed to make loans for what they call international development. "Development" was their euphemism for dependency on U.S. exports and finance. This dependency entailed agricultural backwardness – opposing land reform, family farming to produce domestic food crops, and also monetary backwardness in basing their monetary system on the dollar.

The World Bank was supposed to provide infrastructure loans that other countries would go into debt to pay American engineering firms, to build up their export sectors and their plantation sectors by public investment roads and port development for imports and exports. Essentially, the Bank financed long- investments in the foreign trade sector, in a way that was a natural continuation of European colonialism.

In 1941, for example, C. L. R. James wrote an article on "Imperialism in Africa" pointing out the fiasco of European railroad investment in Africa: "Railways must serve flourishing industrial areas, or densely populated agricult5ural regions, or they must open up new land along which a thriving population develops and provides the railways with traffic. Except in the mining regions of South Africa, all these conditions are absent. Yet railways were needed, for the benefit of European investors and heavy industry." That is why, James explained "only governments can afford to operate them," while being burdened with heavy interest obligations. [1] What was "developed" was Africa's mining and plantation export sector, not its domestic economies. The World Bank followed this pattern of "development" lending without apology.

The IMF was in charge of short-term foreign currency loans. Its aim was to prevent countries from imposing capital controls to protect their balance of payments. Many countries had a dual exchange rate: one for trade in goods and services, the other rate for capital movements. The function of the IMF and World Bank was essentially to make other countries borrow in dollars, not in their own currencies, and to make sure that if they could not pay their dollar-denominated debts, they had to impose austerity on the domestic economy – while subsidizing their import and export sectors and protecting foreign investors, creditors and client oligarchies from loss.

The IMF developed a junk-economics model pretending that any country can pay any amount of debt to the creditors if it just impoverishes its labor enough. So when countries were unable to pay their debt service, the IMF tells them to raise their interest rates to bring on a depression – austerity – and break up the labor unions. That is euphemized as "rationalizing labor markets." The rationalizing is essentially to disable labor unions and the public sector. The aim – and effect – is to prevent countries from essentially following the line of development that had made the United States rich – by public subsidy and protection of domestic agriculture, public subsidy and protection of industry and an active government sector promoting a New Deal democracy. The IMF was essentially promoting and forcing other countries to balance their trade deficits by letting American and other investors buy control of their commanding heights, mainly their infrastructure monopolies, and to subsidize their capital flight.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Now, Michael, when you began speaking about the IMF and monetary controls, you mentioned that there were two exchange rates of currency in countries. What were you referring to?

MICHAEL HUDSON : When I went to work on Wall Street in the '60s, I was balance-of-payments economist for Chase Manhattan, and we used the IMF's monthly International Financial Statistics every month. At the top of each country's statistics would be the exchange-rate figures. Many countries had two rates: one for goods and services, which was set normally by the market, and then a different exchange rate that was managed for capital movements. That was because countries were trying to prevent capital flight. They didn't want their wealthy classes or foreign investors to make a run on their own currency – an ever-present threat in Latin America.

The IMF and the World Bank backed the cosmopolitan classes, the wealthy. Instead of letting countries control their capital outflows and prevent capital flight, the IMF's job is to protect the richest One Percent and foreign investors from balance-of-payments problems.

The World Bank and American diplomacy have steered them into a chronic currency crisis. The IMF enables its wealthy constituency to move their money out of the country without taking a foreign-exchange loss. It makes loans to support capital flight out of domestic currencies into the dollar or other hard currencies. The IMF calls this a "stabilization" program. It is never effective in helping the debtor economy pay foreign debts out of growth. Instead, the IMF uses currency depreciation and sell-offs of public infrastructure and other assets to foreign investors after the flight capital has left and currency collapses. Wall Street speculators have sold the local currency short to make a killing, George-Soros style.

When the debtor-country currency collapses, the debts that these Latin American countries owe are in dollars, and now have to pay much more in their own currency to carry and pay off these debts. We're talking about enormous penalty rates in domestic currency for these countries to pay foreign-currency debts – basically taking on to finance a non-development policy and to subsidize capital flight when that policy "fails" to achieve its pretended objective of growth.

All hyperinflations of Latin America – Chile early on, like Germany after World War I – come from trying to pay foreign debts beyond the ability to be paid. Local currency is thrown onto the foreign-exchange market for dollars, lowering the exchange rate. That increases import prices, raising a price umbrella for domestic products.

A really functional and progressive international monetary fund that would try to help countries develop would say: "Okay, banks and we (the IMF) have made bad loans that the country can't pay. And the World Bank has given it bad advice, distorting its domestic development to serve foreign customers rather than its own growth. So we're going to write down the loans to the ability to be paid." That's what happened in 1931, when the world finally stopped German reparations payments and Inter-Ally debts to the United States stemming from World War I.

Instead, the IMF says just the opposite: It acts to prevent any move by other countries to bring the debt volume within the ability to be paid. It uses debt leverage as a way to control the monetary lifeline of financially defeated debtor countries. So if they do something that U.S. diplomats don't approve of, it can pull the plug financially, encouraging a run on their currency if they act independently of the United States instead of falling in line. This control by the U.S. financial system and its diplomacy has been built into the world system by the IMF and the World Bank claiming to be international instead of an expression of specifically U.S. New Cold War nationalism.

BONNIE FAULKNER : How do exchange rates contribute to capital flight?

MICHAEL HUDSON : It's not the exchange rate that contributes. Suppose that you're a millionaire, and you see that your country is unable to balance its trade under existing production patterns. The money that the government has under control is pesos, escudos, cruzeiros or some other currency, not dollars or euros. You see that your currency is going to go down relative to the dollar, so you want to get our money out of the country to preserve your purchasing power.

This has long been institutionalized. By 1990, for instance, Latin American countries had defaulted so much in the wake of the Mexico defaults in 1982 that I was hired by Scudder Stevens, to help start a Third World Bond Fund (called a "sovereign high-yield fund"). At the time, Argentina and Brazil were running such serious balance-of-payments deficits that they were having to pay 45 percent per year interest, in dollars, on their dollar debt. Mexico, was paying 22.5 percent on its tesobonos .

Scudders' salesmen went around to the United States and tried to sell shares in the proposed fund, but no Americans would buy it, despite the enormous yields. They sent their salesmen to Europe and got a similar reaction. They had lost their shirts on Third World bonds and couldn't see how these countries could pay.

Merrill Lynch was the fund's underwriter. Its office in Brazil and in Argentina proved much more successful in selling investments in Scudder's these offshore fund established in the Dutch West Indies. It was an offshore fund, so Americans were not able to buy it. But Brazilian and Argentinian rich families close to the central bank and the president became the major buyers. We realized that they were buying these funds because they knew that their government was indeed going to pay their stipulated interest charges. In effect, the bonds were owed ultimately to themselves. So these Yankee dollar bonds were being bought by Brazilians and other Latin Americans as a vehicle to move their money out of their soft local currency (which was going down), to buy bonds denominated in hard dollars.

BONNIE FAULKNER : If wealthy families from these countries bought these bonds denominated in dollars, knowing that they were going to be paid off, who was going to pay them off? The country that was going broke?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Well, countries don't pay; the taxpayers pay, and in the end, labor pays. The IMF certainly doesn't want to make its wealthy client oligarchies pay. It wants to squeeze ore economic surplus out of the labor force. So countries are told that the way they can afford to pay their enormously growing dollar-denominated debt is to lower wages even more.

Currency depreciation is an effective way to do this, because what is devalued is basically labor's wages. Other elements of exports have a common world price: energy, raw materials, capital goods, and credit under the dollar-centered international monetary system that the IMF seeks to maintain as a financial strait jacket.

According to the IMF's ideological models, there's no limit to how far you can lower wages by enough to make labor competitive in producing exports. The IMF and World Bank thus use junk economics to pretend that the way to pay debts owed to the wealthiest creditors and investors is to lower wages and impose regressive excise taxes, to impose special taxes on necessities that labor needs, from food to energy and basic services supplied by public infrastructure.

BONNIE FAULKNER: So you're saying that labor ultimately has to pay off these junk bonds?

MICHAEL HUDSON: That is the basic aim of IMF. I discuss its fallacies in my Trade Development and Foreign Debt , which is the academic sister volume to Super Imperialism . These two books show that the World Bank and IMF were viciously anti-labor from the very outset, working with domestic elites whose fortunes are tied to and loyal to the United States.

BONNIE FAULKNER : With regard to these junk bonds, who was it or what entity

MICHAEL HUDSON : They weren't junk bonds. They were called that because they were high-interest bonds, but they weren't really junk because they actually were paid. Everybody thought they were junk because no American would have paid 45 percent interest. Any country that really was self-reliant and was promoting its own economic interest would have said, "You banks and the IMF have made bad loans, and you've made them under false pretenses – a trade theory that imposes austerity instead of leading to prosperity. We're not going to pay." They would have seized the capital flight of their comprador elites and said that these dollar bonds were a rip-off by the corrupt ruling class.

The same thing happened in Greece a few years ago, when almost all of Greece's foreign debt was owed to Greek millionaires holding their money in Switzerland. The details were published in the "Legarde List." But the IMF said, in effect that its loyalty was to the Greek millionaires who ha their money in Switzerland. The IMF could have seized this money to pay off the bondholders. Instead, it made the Greek economy pay. It found that it was worth wrecking the Greek economy, forcing emigration and wiping out Greek industry so that French and German bondholding banks would not have to take a loss. That is what makes the IMF so vicious an institution.

BONNIE FAULKNER : So these loans to foreign countries that were regarded as junk bonds really weren't junk, because they were going to be paid. What group was it that jacked up these interest rates to 45 percent?

MICHAEL HUDSON : The market did. American banks, stock brokers and other investors looked at the balance of payments of these countries and could not see any reasonable way that they could pay their debts, so they were not going to buy their bonds. No country subject to democratic politics would have paid debts under these conditions. But the IMF, U.S. and Eurozone diplomacy overrode democratic choice.

Investors didn't believe that the IMF and the World Bank had such a strangle hold over Latin American, Asian, and African countries that they could make the countries act in the interest of the United States and the cosmopolitan finance capital, instead of in their own national interest. They didn't believe that countries would commit financial suicide just to pay their wealthy One Percent.

They were wrong, of course. Countries were quite willing to commit economic suicide if their governments were dictatorships propped up by the United States. That's why the CIA has assassination teams and actively supports these countries to prevent any party coming to power that would act in their national interest instead of in the interest of a world division of labor and production along the lines that the U.S. planners want for the world. Under the banner of what they call a free market, you have the World Bank and the IMF engage in central planning of a distinctly anti-labor policy. Instead of calling them Third World bonds or junk bonds, you should call them anti-labor bonds, because they have become a lever to impose austerity throughout the world.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Well, that makes a lot of sense, Michael, and answers a lot of the questions I've put together to ask you. What about Puerto Rico writing down debt? I thought such debts couldn't be written down.

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's what they all said, but the bonds were trading at about 45 cents on the dollar, the risk of their not being paid. The Wall Street Journal on June 17, reported that unsecured suppliers and creditors of Puerto Rico, would only get nine cents on the dollar. The secured bond holders would get maybe 65 cents on the dollar.

The terms are being written down because it's obvious that Puerto Rico can't pay, and that trying to do so is driving the population to move out of Puerto Rico to the United States. If you don't want Puerto Ricans to act the same way Greeks did and leave Greece when their industry and economy was shut down, then you're going to have to provide stability or else you're going to have half of Puerto Rico living in Florida.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Who wrote down the Puerto Rican debt?

MICHAEL HUDSON : A committee was appointed, and it calculated how much Puerto Rico can afford to pay out of its taxes. Puerto Rico is a U.S. dependency, that is, an economic colony of the United States. It does not have domestic self-reliance. It's the antithesis of democracy, so it's never been in charge of its own economic policy and essentially has to do whatever the United States tells it to do. There was a reaction after the hurricane and insufficient U.S. support to protect the island and the enormous waste and corruption involved in the U.S. aid. The U.S. response was simply: "We won you fair and square in the Spanish-American war and you're an occupied country, and we're going to keep you that way." Obviously this is causing a political resentment.

BONNIE FAULKNER : You've already touched on this, but why has the World Bank traditionally been headed by a U.S. secretary of defense?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Its job is to do in the financial sphere what, in the past, was done by military force. The purpose of a military conquest is to take control of foreign economies, to take control of their land and impose tribute. The genius of the World Bank was to recognize that it's not necessary to occupy a country in order to impose tribute, or to take over its industry, agriculture and land. Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering. As long as other countries play an artificial economic game that U.S. diplomacy can control, finance is able to achieve today what used to require bombing and loss of life by soldiers.

In this case the loss of life occurs in the debtor countries. Population growth shrinks, suicides go up. The World Bank engages in economic warfare that is just as destructive as military warfare. At the end of the Yeltsin period Russia's President Putin said that American neoliberalism destroyed more of Russia's population than did World War II. Such neoliberalism, which basically is the doctrine of American supremacy and foreign dependency, is the policy of the World Bank and IMF.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Why has World Bank policy since its inception been to provide loans for countries to devote their land to export crops instead of giving priority to feeding themselves? And if this is the case, why do countries want these loans?

MICHAEL HUDSON : One constant of American foreign policy is to make other countries dependent on American grain exports and food exports. The aim is to buttress America's agricultural trade surplus. So the first thing that the World Bank has done is not to make any domestic currency loans to help food producers. Its lending has steered client countries to produce tropical export crops, mainly plantation crops that cannot be grown in the United States. Focusing on export crops leads client countries to become dependent on American farmers – and political sanctions.

In the 1950s, right after the Chinese revolution, the United States tried to prevent China from succeeding by imposing grain export controls to starve China into submission by putting sanctions on exports. Canada was the country that broke these export controls and helped feed China.

The idea is that if you can make other countries export plantation crops, the oversupply will drive down prices for cocoa and other tropical products, and they won't feed themselves. So instead of backing family farms like the American agricultural policy does, the World Bank backed plantation agriculture. In Chile, which has the highest natural supply of fertilizer in the world from its guano deposits, exports guano instead of using it domestically. It also has the most unequal land distribution, blocking it from growing its own grain or food crops. It's completely dependent on the United States for this, and it pays by exporting copper, guano and other natural resources.

The idea is to create interdependency – one-sided dependency on the U.S. economy. The United States has always aimed at being self-sufficient in its own essentials, so that no other country can pull the plug on our economy and say, "We're going to starve you by not feeding you." Americans can feed themselves. Other countries can't say, "We're going to let you freeze in the dark by not sending you oil," because America's independent in energy. But America can use the oil control to make other countries freeze in the dark, and it can starve other countries by food-export sanctions.

So the idea is to give the United States control of the key interconnections of other economies, without letting any country control something that is vital to the working of the American economy.

There's a double standard here. The United States tells other countries: "Don't do as we do. Do as we say." The only way it can enforce this is by interfering in the politics of these countries, as it has interfered in Latin America, always pushing the right wing. For instance, when Hillary's State Department overthrew the Honduras reformer who wanted to undertake land reform and feed the Hondurans, she said: "This person has to go." That's why there are so many Hondurans trying to get into the United States now, because they can't live in their own country.

The effect of American coups is the same in Syria and Iraq. They force an exodus of people who no longer can make a living under the brutal dictatorships supported by the United States to enforce this international dependency system.

BONNIE FAULKNER : So when I asked you why countries would want these loans, I guess you're saying that they wouldn't, and that's why the U.S. finds it necessary to control them politically.

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's a concise way of putting it Bonnie.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Why are World Bank loans only in foreign currency, not in the domestic currency of the country to which it is lending?

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's a good point. A basic principle should be to avoid borrowing in a foreign currency. A country can always pay the loans in its own currency, but there's no way that it can print dollars or euros to pay loans denominated in these foreign currencies.

Making the dollar central forces other countries to interface with the U.S. banking system. So if a country decides to go its own way, as Iran did in 1953 when it wanted to take over its oil from British Petroleum (or Anglo Iranian Oil, as it was called back then), the United States can interfere and overthrow it. The idea is to be able to use the banking system's interconnections to stop payments from being made.

After America installed the Shah's dictatorship, they were overthrown by Khomeini, and Iran had run up a U.S. dollar debt under the Shah. It had plenty of dollars. I think Chase Manhattan was its paying agent. So when its quarterly or annual debt payment came due, Iran told Chase to draw on its accounts and pay the bondholders. But Chase took orders from the State Department or the Defense Department, I don't know which, and refused to pay. When the payment was not made, America and its allies claimed that Iran was in default. They demanded the entire debt to be paid, as per the agreement that the Shah's puppet government had signed. America simply grabbed the deposits that Iran had in the United States. This is the money that was finally returned to Iran without interest under the agreement of 2016.

America was able to grab all of Iran's foreign exchange just by the banks interfering. The CIA has bragged that it can do the same thing with Russia. If Russia does something that U.S. diplomats don't like, the U.S. can use the SWIFT bank payment system to exclude Russia from it, so the Russian banks and the Russian people and industry won't be able to make payments to each other.

This prompted Russia to create its own bank-transfer system, and is leading China, Russia, India and Pakistan to draft plans to de-dollarize.

BONNIE FAULKNER : I was going to ask you, why would loans in a country's domestic currency be preferable to the country taking out a loan in a foreign currency? I guess you've explained that if they took out a loan in a domestic currency, they would be able to repay it.

MICHAEL HUDSON : Yes.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Whereas a loan in a foreign currency would cripple them.

MICHAEL HUDSON : Yes. You can't create the money, especially if you're running a balance of payments deficit and if U.S. foreign policy forces you into deficit by having someone like George Soros make a run on your currency. Look at the Asia crisis in 1997. Wall Street funds bet against foreign currencies, driving them way down, and then used the money to pick up industry cheap in Korea and other Asian countries.

This was also done to Russia's ruble. The only country that avoided this was Malaysia, under Mohamed Mahathir, by using capital controls. Malaysia is an object lesson in how to prevent a currency flight.

But for Latin America and other countries, much of their foreign debt is held by their own ruling class. Even though it's denominated in dollars, Americans don't own most of this debt. It's their own ruling class. The IMF and World Bank dictate tax policy to Latin America – to un-tax wealth and shift the burden onto labor. Client kleptocracies take their money and run, moving it abroad to hard currency areas such as the United States, or at least keeping it in dollars in offshore banking centers instead of reinvesting it to help the country catch up by becoming independent agriculturally, in energy, finance and other sectors.

BONNIE FAULKNER : You say that: "While U.S. agricultural protectionism has been built into the postwar global system at its inception, foreign protectionism is to be nipped in the bud." How has U.S. agricultural protectionism been built into the postwar global system?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Under Franklin Roosevelt the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 called for price supports for crops so that farmers could earn enough to invest in equipment and seeds. The Agriculture Department was a wonderful department in spurring new seed varieties, agricultural extension services, marketing and banking services. It provided public support so that productivity in American agriculture from the 1930s to '50s was higher over a prolonged period than that of any other sector in history.

But in shaping the World Trade Organization's rules, the United States said that all countries had to promote free trade and could not have government support, except for countries that already had it. We're the only country that had it. That's what's called "grandfathering". The Americans said: "We already have this program on the books, so we can keep it. But no other country can succeed in agriculture in the way that we have done. You must keep your agriculture backward, except for the plantation crops and growing crops that we can't grow in the United States." That's what's so evil about the World Bank's development plan.

BONNIE FAULKNER : According to your book: "Domestic currency is needed to provide price supports and agricultural extension services such as have made U.S. agriculture so productive." Why can't infrastructure costs be subsidized to keep down the economy's overall cost structure if IMF loans are made in foreign currency?

MICHAEL HUDSON : If you're a farmer in Brazil, Argentina or Chile, you're doing business in domestic currency. It doesn't help if somebody gives you dollars, because your expenses are in domestic currency. So if the World Bank and the IMF can prevent countries from providing domestic currency support, that means they're not able to give price supports or provide government marketing services for their agriculture.

America is a mixed economy. Our government has always subsidized capital formation in agriculture and industry, but it insists that other countries are socialist or communist if they do what the United States is doing and use their government to support the economy. So it's a double standard. Nobody calls America a socialist country for supporting its farmers, but other countries are called socialist and are overthrown if they attempt land reform or attempt to feed themselves.

This is what the Catholic Church's Liberation Theology was all about. They backed land reform and agricultural self-sufficiency in food, realizing that if you're going to support population growth, you have to support the means to feed it. That's why the United States focused its assassination teams on priests and nuns in Guatemala and Central America for trying to promote domestic self-sufficiency.

BONNIE FAULKNER : If a country takes out an IMF loan, they're obviously going to take it out in dollars. Why can't they take the dollars and convert them into domestic currency to support local infrastructure costs?

MICHAEL HUDSON : You don't need a dollar loan to do that. Now were getting in to MMT. Any country can create its own currency. There's no reason to borrow in dollars to create your own currency. You can print it yourself or create it on your computers.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Well, exactly. So why don't these countries simply print up their own domestic currency?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Their leaders don't want to be assassinated. More immediately, if you look at the people in charge of foreign central banks, almost all have been educated in the United States and essentially brainwashed. It's the mentality of foreign central bankers. The people who are promoted are those who feel personally loyal to the United States, because they that that's how to get ahead. Essentially, they're opportunists working against the interests of their own country. You won't have socialist central bankers as long as central banks are dominated by the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements.

BONNIE FAULKNER : So we're back to the main point: The control is by political means, and they control the politics and the power structure in these countries so that they don't rebel.

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's right. When you have a dysfunctional economic theory that is destructive instead of productive, this is never an accident. It is always a result of junk economics and dependency economics being sponsored. I've talked to people at the U.S. Treasury and asked why they all end up following the United States. Treasury officials have told me: "We simply buy them off. They do it for the money." So you don't need to kill them. All you need to do is find people corrupt enough and opportunist enough to see where the money is, and you buy them off.

BONNIE FAULKNER : You write that "by following U.S. advice, countries have left themselves open to food blackmail." What is food blackmail?

MICHAEL HUDSON : If you pursue a foreign policy that we don't like -- for instance, if you trade with Iran, which we're trying to smash up to grab its oil -- we'll impose financial sanctions against you. We won't sell you food, and you can starve. And because you've followed World Bank advice and not grown your own food, you will starve, because you're dependent on us, the United States and our Free World Ó allies. Canada will no longer follow its own policy independently of the United States, as it did with China in the 1950s when it sold it grain. Europe also is falling in line with U.S. policy.

BONNIE FAULKNER : You write that: "World Bank administrators demand that loan recipients pursue a policy of economic dependency above all on the United States as food supplier." Was this done to support U.S. agriculture? Obviously it is, but were there other reasons as well?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Certainly the agricultural lobby was critical in all of this, and I'm not sure at what point this became thoroughly conscious. I knew some of the World Bank planners, and they had no anticipation that this dependency would be the result. They believed the free-trade junk economics that's taught in the schools' economics departments and for which Nobel prizes are awarded.

When we're dealing with economic planners, we're dealing with tunnel-visioned people. They stayed in the discipline despite its unreality because they sort of think that abstractly it makes sense. There's something autistic about most economists, which is why the French had their non-autistic economic site for many years. The mentality at work is that every country should produce what it's best at – not realizing that nations also need to be self-sufficient in essentials, because we're in a real world of economic and military warfare.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Why does the World Bank prefer to perpetrate world poverty instead of adequate overseas capacity to feed the peoples of developing countries?

MICHAEL HUDSON : World poverty is viewed as solution , not a problem. The World Bank thinks of poverty as low-priced labor, creating a competitive advantage for countries that produce labor-intensive goods. So poverty and austerity for the World Bank and IMF is an economic solution that's built into their models. I discuss these in my Trade, Development and Foreign Debt book. Poverty is to them the solution, because it means low-priced labor, and that means higher profits for the companies bought out by U.S., British, and European investors. So poverty is part of the class war: profits versus poverty.

BONNIE FAULKNER : In general, what is U.S. food imperialism? How would you characterize it?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Its aim is to make America the producer of essential foods and other countries producing inessential plantation crops, while remaining dependent on the United States for grain, soy beans and basic food crops.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Does World Bank lending encourage land reform in former colonies?

MICHAEL HUDSON : No. If there is land reform, the CIA sends its assassination teams in and you have mass murder, as you had in Guatemala, Ecuador, Central America and Columbia. The World Bank is absolutely committed against land reform. When the Forgash Plan for a World Bank for Economic Acceleration was proposed in the 1950s to emphasize land reform and local-currency loans, a Chase Manhattan economist to whom the plan was submitted warned that every country that had land reform turned out to be anti-American. That killed any alternative to the World Bank.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Does the World Bank insist on client governments privatizing their public domain? If so, why, and what is the effect?

MICHAEL HUDSON : It does indeed insist on privatization, pretending that this is efficient. But what it privatizes are natural monopolies – the electrical system, the water system and other basic needs. Foreigners take over, essentially finance them with foreign debt, build the foreign debt that they build into the cost structure, and raise the cost of living and doing business in these countries, thereby crippling them economically. The effect is to prevent them from competing with the United States and its European allies.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Would you say then that it is mainly America that has been aided, not foreign economies that borrow from the World Bank?

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's why the United States is the only country with veto power in the IMF and World Bank – to make sure that what you just described is exactly what happens.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Why do World Bank programs accelerate the exploitation of mineral deposits for use by other nations?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Most World Bank loans are for transportation, roads, harbor development and other infrastructure needed to export minerals and plantation crops. The World Bank doesn't make loans for projects that help the country develop in its own currency. By making only foreign currency loans, in dollars or maybe euros now, the World Bank says that its clients have to repay by generating foreign currency. The only way they can repay the dollars spent on American engineering firms that have built their infrastructure is to export – to earn enough dollars to pay back for the money that the World Bank or IMF have lent.

This is what John Perkins' book about being an economic hit man for the World Bank is all about. He realized that his job was to get countries to borrow dollars to build huge projects that could only be paid for by the country exporting more – which required breaking its labor unions and lowering wages so that it could be competitive in the race to the bottom that the World Bank and IMF encourage.

BONNIE FAULKNER : You also point out in Super Imperialism that mineral resources represent diminishing assets, so these countries that are exporting mineral resources are being depleted while the importing countries aren't.

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's right. They'll end up like Canada. The end result is going to be a big hole in the ground. You've dug up all your minerals, and in the end you have a hole in the ground and a lot of the refuse and pollution – the mining slag and what Marx called the excrements of production.

This is not a sustainable development. The World Bank only promotes the U.S. pursuit of sustainable development. So naturally, they call their "Development," but their focus is on the United States, not the World Bank's client countries.

BONNIE FAULKNER : When Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire was originally published in 1972, how was it received?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Very positively. It enabled my career to take off. I received a phone call a month later by someone from the Bank of Montreal saying they had just made $240 million on the last paragraph of my book. They asked what it would cost to have me come up and give a lecture. I began lecturing once a month at $3,500 a day, moving up to $6,500 a day, and became the highest-paid per diem economist on Wall Street for a few years.

I was immediately hired by the Hudson Institute to explain Super Imperialism to the Defense Department. Herman Kahn said I showed how U.S. imperialism ran rings around European imperialism. They gave the Institute an $85,000 grant to have me go to the White House in Washington to explain how American imperialism worked. The Americans used it as a how-to-do-it book.

The socialists, whom I expected to have a response, decided to talk about other than economic topics. So, much to my surprise, it became a how-to-do-it book for imperialists. It was translated by, I think, the nephew of the Emperor of Japan into Japanese. He then wrote me that the United States opposed the book being translated into Japanese. It later was translated. It was received very positively in China, where I think it has sold more copies than in any other country. It was translated into Spanish, and most recently it was translated into German, and German officials have asked me to come and discuss it with them. So the book has been accepted all over the world as an explanation of how the system works.

BONNIE FAULKNER : In closing, do you really think that the U.S. government officials and others didn't understand how their own system worked?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Many might not have understood in 1944 that this would be the consequence. But by the time 50 years went by, you had an organization called "Fifty Years Is Enough." And by that time everybody should have understood. By the time Joe Stiglitz became the World Bank's chief economist, there was no excuse for not understanding how the system worked. He was amazed to find that indeed it didn't work as advertised, and resigned. But he should have known at the very beginning what it was all about. If he didn't understand how it was until he actually went to work there, you can understand how hard it is for most academics to get through the vocabulary of junk economics, the patter-talk of free trade and free markets to understand how exploitative and destructive the system is.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Michael Hudson, thank you very much.

MICHAEL HUDSON : It's always good to be here, Bonnie. I'm glad you ask questions like these.

I've been speaking with Dr. Michael Hudson. Today's show has been: The IMF and World Bank: Partners in Backwardness. Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trend, a Wall Street financial analyst and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His 1972 book, Super Imperialism : The Economic Strategy of American Empire , a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank, the subject of today's broadcast, is posted in PDF format on his website at michael-hudson.com. He is also author of Trade, Development and Foreign Debt , which is the academic sister volume to Super Imperialism. Dr. Hudson acts as an economic advisor to governments worldwide on finance and tax law. Visit his website at michael-hudson.com.

Guns and Butter is produced by Bonnie Faulkner, Yarrow Mahko and Tony Rango. Visit us at gunsandbutter.org to listen to past programs, comment on shows, or join our email list to receive our newsletter that includes recent shows and updates. Email us at faulkner@gunsandbutter.org . Follow us on Twitter at #gandbradio.

[Jun 23, 2019] Debt: The first 5000 years

Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 06:18

@Sonofrex
For starters, try reading David Graeber's 'Debt: The first 5000 years' for a comprehensive account on concepts of money, property, debt and obligation from an anthropological perspective which soundly buries your cherished assumptions and beliefs about the primacy of private property and it's conflation with freedom. Perhaps one of the most compelling book I've read in recent times.

For a review:

http://thenewinquiry.com/blogs/zunguzungu/david-graebers-debt-my-first-5000-words/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cultivating wealth

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

reduction in export taxes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

What went wrong?

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

.... ... ...

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

... ... ...

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

[Jun 22, 2019] A case of shark calling barracuda a piranha.

Jun 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Insufferably Insouciant , 15 hours ago link

"The Communist Party of China has used its access to U.S. consumer and capital markets for a predatory economic strategy... "

... which is a threat to our monopoly on such activity.

Have they no sense of irony?

DEDA CVETKO , 16 hours ago link

"The Communist Party of China has used its access to U.S. consumer and capital markets for a predatory economic strategy... "

A case of shark calling barracuda a piranha.

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

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

Authored by William Astore via TomDispatch.com,

The American Cult of Bombing and Endless War

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bombs away!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Cautionary Tenets About Air Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Road to Perdition

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

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

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

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


Joiningupthedots , 11 minutes ago link

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

The myth of Tomahawk has already been dispelled

Countries with reasonable to excellent A2D2 are seriously avoided.

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

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

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

Do the math!

107cicero , 17 minutes ago link

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

Insanely expensive, used once.

Rinse and repeat.

Theedrich , 1 hour ago link

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

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

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

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

He–Mene Mox Mox , 2 hours ago link

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

Uskatex , 2 hours ago link

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

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

Groundround , 44 minutes ago link

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

Wantoknow , 3 hours ago link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wildfry , 5 hours ago link

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

herbivore , 5 hours ago link

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

sonoftx , 5 hours ago link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ardent , 6 hours ago link

The ROAD to perdition passes through APARTHEID Israhell.

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

Boogity , 6 hours ago link

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

HideTheWeenie , 6 hours ago link

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

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

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

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

[Jun 15, 2019] WATCH US economist urges covert violence to provoke war with Iran

Notable quotes:
"... The appeasers would include the US who fully supported Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran, who provided him with chemical weapons and logistical help in using those weapons, which killed around 50,000 Iranian troops and Kurdish civilians. The same appeasers armed and funded the Taliban (Mujahideen) against the Soviets. The US are the single largest force for terrorism the World has ever seen. ..."
Jun 14, 2019 | off-guardian.org

WATCH: US economist urges covert violence to provoke war with Iran "I mean look people, Iranian submarines periodically go down – someday one of them might not come up." Admin

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

Many believe war with the Islamic Republic of Iran has been the dream of some hardcore neocons in Washington since at least 2001. Back in 2012 former employee of the IMF and current economist for the World Bank, Patrick Clawson , provided fuel for this belief when he was videoed obliquely advocating using covert violence so that the US president "can get to war with Iran."

In a startlingly frank speech, Clawson makes it clear he believes (and apparently approves) that the US has a history of seeking war for profit, and of using provocations to goad its perceived enemies into starting such wars. Clawson highlights in particular the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in 1861 , which, he says, was deliberately engineered by president Lincoln in pursuit of an excuse to launch a war on the Southern secessionist states.

In light of the recent alleged attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, timed to coincide with the visit of the Japanese prime minister to Iran, and in light of Secretary of State Capone Pompeo's precipitate and predictable claim the attacks were likely perpetrated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, this is an apposite time to recall this telling little incident.

Below see the transcript of Mr Clawson's remarks

Transcript

"I frankly think that crisis initiation is really tough and it's very hard for me to see how the United States president can get us to war with Iran which leads me to conclude that if in fact compromise is not coming that the traditional way of America gets to war is what would be best for US interests

Some people might think that mr. Roosevelt wanted to get us in to the World War two as David mentioned. You may recall we had to wait for Pearl Harbor.

Some people might think mr. Wilson wanted to get us into World War One. You may recall he had to wait for the Lusitania episode

Some people might think that mr. Johnson wanted to send troops to Vietnam. You may recall they had to wait for the Gulf of Tonkin episode.

We didn't go to war with Spain until the USS Maine exploded, and may I point out that mr. Lincoln did not feel he could call off the federal army until Fort Sumter was attacked which is why he ordered the commander at Fort Sumter to do exactly that thing which the South Carolinians had said would cause an attack.

So if in fact the Iranians aren't going to compromise it would be best if somebody else started the war

But I would just like to suggest that one can combine other means of pressure with sanctions. I mentioned that explosion on August 17th. We could step up the pressure. I mean look people, Iranian submarines periodically go down – someday one of them
might not come up.

Who would know why?

We can do a variety of things if we wish to increase the pressure. I'm not advocating that but I'm just suggesting that a it's this is not a either-or proposition of, you know, it's just sanctions has to be has to succeed or other things.


DunGroanin

Always follow the money they made lots instantly from the firework display, it aint rocket science!

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-06-14/senators-switched-key-votes-bill-gulf-arms-ban-hours-after-tanker-attacks

mark
What do you expect from a Zionist Front like WINEP? They've been inciting wars for Israel for decades. "Getting the stupid goys to fight Israel's wars for decades."
Jen
If Patrick Clawson is typical of the kind of economist employed at the IMF and then promoted to a leading position at the World Bank, I dread to think of the calibre of people who also applied for his job in the past and were rejected. His speech is so garbled and full of unconscious slip-ups.
andyoldlabour
The US has convinced itself of its own so called "exceptionalism", where they can say anything out in the open, reveal their greatest desires, their unholy plans. There must be some "good" Americans who can stop this madness, or have they all become inflicted/infected with some hate virus?
Milton
Interesting that this Israeli-First traitor Clawson mentions Lincoln and Ft. Sumter. He finally admits what genuine historians of the Civil War long knew: Lincoln was a warmonger and tyrant, not an emancipator. The Civil war was fought to eliminate true freedom and equality in this country and it has been downhill ever since. The working class and soldier-class in America today are slaves in every sense of the word. Slaves to Zion. No wonder the certified warmonger and racist Lincoln is worshiped equally by Left and Right today, whilst genuine American patriots like Robert E. Lee have their legacy torn down. Lincoln was the proto-Neocon. Tom Dilorenzo summed up the real Lincoln when he wrote in Lincoln Unmasked:

"Imagine that California seceded from the union and an American president responded with the carpet bombing of Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco that destroyed 90 percent of those cities. Such was the case with General Sherman's bombardment of Atlanta; a naval blockade; a blocking off of virtually all trade; the eviction of thousands of residents from their homes (as occurred in Atlanta in 1864); the destruction of most industries and farms; massive looting of private property by a marauding army; and the killing of one out of four males of military age while maiming for life more than double that number. Would such an American president be considered a 'great statesman' or a war criminal? The answer is obvious.

A statesman would have recognized the state's right to secede, as enshrined in the Tenth Amendment, among other places, and then worked diligently to persuade the seceded state that a reunion was in its best interest. Agreat statesman, or even a modest one, would not have impulsively plunged the entire nation into a bloody war.

Lincoln's warmongering belligerence and his invasion of all the Southern states in response to Fort Sumter (where no one was harmed or killed) caused the upper South -- Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas -- to secede after originally voting to remain in the Union. He refused to meet with Confederate commissioners to discuss peace and even declined a meeting with Napoleon III of France, who offered to broker a peace agreement. No genuine statesman would have behaved in such a way.

After Fort Sumter, Lincoln thanked naval commander Gustavus Fox for assisting him in manipulating the South Carolinians into firing at Fort Sumter. A great statesman does not manipulate his own people into starting one of the bloodiest wars in human history."

mathias alexand
Here's a man who holds a press conference to announce a secret plan. Only in America.
Gezzah Potts
False flags here, false flags there, false flags everywhere. All too further the aims of the 'masters of the universe'. We know who was responsible for the tanker attacks. Who are the 3 countries absolutely desperate to take Iran down and install a completely pliant puppet regime answerable to Washington, Tel Aviv and to a lesser extent Riyadh. And creatures like Clawson, and all the other vermin can only see $$$$. Thats all they care about. Opening up more markets to further enrich themselves. I echo the other commenters also. The evil men stoop to for greed, power and control. Psychopaths.
harry law
The Foreign Office issued a statement saying: "It is almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – attacked the two tankers on 13 June. No other state or non-state actor could plausibly have been responsible."
Unbelievable, The UK vassal will use this to as one more reason to evade their responsibilities in implementing the JCPOA.
William HBonney
A Riyadh/Tel Aviv conspiracy. Genius!
Gezzah Potts
Er . just a rough guess Bill going on the belligerent foaming at the mouth by people in those places along with the likes of Bolton and Pompeo. In fact, you can probably go all the way back to about 1980 or so.
mark
I think the real giveaway was when all three rogue states openly stated their intention of doing this 1,000 times over the past 10 years. That was the crucial clue Sherlock Holmes was looking for.
Wilmers31
And who funds the Washington Institute? Last time I looked the International Crisis Group existed thanks to Soros and is usually treated like a serious organisation.

Many Europeans are not in love with the idea of war with Iran, just to achieve obedience to the US. 90 million people is bigger than Germany.

wardropper
These are the shysters, the spivs and the con men of bygone times. They are the ones who lurked at street corners, waiting for someone to come along who was gullible enough to buy the Moon from them.
But, for some reason, they are all in politics today.
Now how could that be?

Only because there are people whom it currently suits to use shysters, spivs and con men in order to create enough chaos for us to want to give up and just let those people have their way.

I agree with Rhys below. There is no more disgusting example of sub-humanity to be found on earth than these warmongers.
To deal with them, however, we will have to realize that their "philosophy", if you can call it that, runs very deep. It didn't just enter their heads last week.
They are reared and trained in it.

It will be a tough battle.

wardropper
I should add that, in bygone times, the police and the law were usually able to deal with the shysters, spivs and con men, since their lack of conscience often gave them away.
The modern version, however, which has moved into politics, was shrewd enough to use a few decades of bribery and threats in order to build around itself a nice little shell, through which the law simply cannot penetrate, except on special occasions, mainly for show.
Rhys Jaggar
There is a big cabal of warmongers who stoke the fuel but never see action. I find those people more disgusting than anyone on earth.

Draft dodgers, academics, 'historians' etc etc.

Ball-less pricks is what I call them .

mark
All fully paid up members of the Bill Clinton Light Infantry.
andyoldlabour
The appeasers would include the US who fully supported Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran, who provided him with chemical weapons and logistical help in using those weapons, which killed around 50,000 Iranian troops and Kurdish civilians.
The same appeasers armed and funded the Taliban (Mujahideen) against the Soviets.
The US are the single largest force for terrorism the World has ever seen.
William HBonney
The easiest, and perhaps best metric by which to judge a country, is 'do people aspire to live there? '.

I see you admire the Soviet Union, but at its dissolution, people were queuing to leave. And yet the US, and the UK, according to you, iniquitous places of tyranny, are oversubscribed. Could it be, that for all your implied erudition, you are merely a bellend?

BigB
Well, even as a pacifist: if that is his sentiment – I hope he has sons or daughters in the military stationed in CENTCOM in Qatar. I bet he hasn't, though.
Rhisiart Gwilym
He should be right there on the frontline himself. That would straighten the disgusting creep's ideas out about the 'usefulness' of deliberately provoking war

[Jun 10, 2019] FAA's Boeing-biased Officials: Recuse Yourselves or Resign by Ralph Nader

Notable quotes:
"... The FAA has a clearly established pro-Boeing bias and will likely allow Boeing to unground the 737 MAX. We must demand that the two top FAA officials resign or recuse themselves from taking any more steps that might endanger the flying public. The two Boeing-indentured men are Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell and Associate FAA Administrator for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami. ..."
"... The FAA has long been known for its non-regulatory, waiver-driven, de-regulatory traditions. It has a hard time saying NO to the aircraft manufacturers and the airlines. After the aircraft hijackings directing flights to Cuba in the 1960s and 1970s, the FAA let the airlines say NO to installing hardened cockpit doors and stronger latches in their planes. These security measures would have prevented the hijackers from invading the cockpits of the aircrafts on September 11, 2001. The airlines did not want to spend the $3000 per plane. Absent the 9/11 hijackings, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney might not have gone to war in Afghanistan. ..."
"... Boeing has about 5,000 orders for the 737 MAX. It has delivered less than 400 to the world's airlines. From its CEO, Dennis Muilenburg to its swarms of Washington lobbyists, law firms, and public relations outfits, Boeing is used to getting its way. ..."
"... Right now, the Boeing/FAA strategy is to make sure Elwell and his FAA quickly decide that the MAX is safe for takeoff by delaying or stonewalling Congressional and other investigations. ..."
"... Time is not on the side of the 737 MAX 8. A comprehensive review of the 737 MAX's problems is a non-starter for Boeing. Boeing's flawed software and instructions that have kept pilots and airlines in the dark have already been exposed. New whistleblowers and more revelations will emerge. More time may also result in the Justice Department's operating grand jury issuing some indictments. More time would let the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led by Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) dig into the failure of accountability and serial criminal negligence of Boeing and its FAA accomplices. Chairman DeFazio knows the history of the FAA's regulatory capture. ..."
"... The FAA and its Boeing pals are using the "trade secret" claims to censor records sought by the House Committee. When it comes to investigating life or death airline hazards and crashes, Congress is capable of handling so-called trade secrets. This is all the more reason why the terminally prejudiced Elwell and Bahrami should step aside and let their successors take a fresh look at the Boeing investigations. That effort would include opening up the certification process for the entire Boeing MAX as a "new plane." ..."
Jun 10, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

The Boeing-driven FAA is rushing to unground the notorious prone-to-stall Boeing 737 MAX (that killed 346 innocents in two crashes) before several official investigations are completed. Troubling revelations might keep these planes grounded worldwide.

The FAA has a clearly established pro-Boeing bias and will likely allow Boeing to unground the 737 MAX. We must demand that the two top FAA officials resign or recuse themselves from taking any more steps that might endanger the flying public. The two Boeing-indentured men are Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell and Associate FAA Administrator for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami.

Immediately after the crashes, Elwell resisted grounding and echoed Boeing claims that the Boeing 737 MAX was a safe plane despite the deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Ali Bahrami is known for aggressively pushing the FAA through 2018 to further abdicate its regulatory duties by delegating more safety inspections to Boeing. Bahrami's actions benefit Boeing and are supported by the company's toadies in the Congress. Elwell and Bahrami have both acquired much experience by going through the well-known revolving door between the industry and the FAA. They are likely to leave the FAA once again for lucrative positions in the aerospace lobbying or business world. With such prospects, they do not have much 'skin in the game' for their pending decision.

The FAA has long been known for its non-regulatory, waiver-driven, de-regulatory traditions. It has a hard time saying NO to the aircraft manufacturers and the airlines. After the aircraft hijackings directing flights to Cuba in the 1960s and 1970s, the FAA let the airlines say NO to installing hardened cockpit doors and stronger latches in their planes. These security measures would have prevented the hijackers from invading the cockpits of the aircrafts on September 11, 2001. The airlines did not want to spend the $3000 per plane. Absent the 9/11 hijackings, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney might not have gone to war in Afghanistan.

The FAA's historic "tombstone" mentality (slowly reacting after the crashes) is well known. For example, in the 1990s the FAA had a delayed reaction to numerous fatal crashes caused by antiquated de-icing rules. The FAA was also slow to act on ground-proximity warning requirements for commuter airlines and flammability reduction rules for aircraft cabin materials.

That's the tradition that Elwell and Bahrami inherited and have worsened. They did not even wait for Boeing to deliver its reworked software before announcing in April that simulator training would not be necessary for the pilots. This judgment was contrary to the experience of seasoned pilots such as Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. Simulator training would delay ungrounding and cost the profitable airlines money.

Boeing has about 5,000 orders for the 737 MAX. It has delivered less than 400 to the world's airlines. From its CEO, Dennis Muilenburg to its swarms of Washington lobbyists, law firms, and public relations outfits, Boeing is used to getting its way. Its grip on Congress – where 300 members take campaign cash from Boeing – is legendary. Boeing pays little in federal and Washington state taxes. It fumbles contracts with NASA and the Department of Defense but remains the federal government's big vendor for lack of competitive alternatives in a highly concentrated industry.

Right now, the Boeing/FAA strategy is to make sure Elwell and his FAA quickly decide that the MAX is safe for takeoff by delaying or stonewalling Congressional and other investigations.

The compliant Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, under Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), strangely has not scheduled anymore hearings. The Senate confirmation of Stephen Dickson to replace acting chief Elwell is also on a slow track. A new boss at the FAA might wish to take some time to review the whole process.

Time is not on the side of the 737 MAX 8. A comprehensive review of the 737 MAX's problems is a non-starter for Boeing. Boeing's flawed software and instructions that have kept pilots and airlines in the dark have already been exposed. New whistleblowers and more revelations will emerge. More time may also result in the Justice Department's operating grand jury issuing some indictments. More time would let the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led by Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) dig into the failure of accountability and serial criminal negligence of Boeing and its FAA accomplices. Chairman DeFazio knows the history of the FAA's regulatory capture.

Not surprising on June 4, 2019, DeFazio sent a stinging letter to FAA's Elwell and his corporatist superior, Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, about the FAA's intolerable delays in sending requested documents to the Committee. DeFazio's letter says: "To say we are disappointed and a bit bewildered at the ongoing delays to appropriately respond to our records requests would be an understatement."

The FAA and its Boeing pals are using the "trade secret" claims to censor records sought by the House Committee. When it comes to investigating life or death airline hazards and crashes, Congress is capable of handling so-called trade secrets. This is all the more reason why the terminally prejudiced Elwell and Bahrami should step aside and let their successors take a fresh look at the Boeing investigations. That effort would include opening up the certification process for the entire Boeing MAX as a "new plane."

The Boeing-biased Elwell and Bahrami have refused to even raise in public proceedings the question: "After eight or more Boeing 737 iterations, at what point does the Boeing MAX 8 become a new plane?" Many, including Cong. David Price (D-NC), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the FAA's budget, have already questioned the limited certification process.

Heavier engines on the old 737 fuselage changed the MAX's aerodynamics and made it prone-to-stall. It is time for the FAA's leadership to change before the 737 MAX flies with vulnerable, glitch-prone software "fixes".

Notwithstanding the previous Boeing 737 series' record of safety in the U.S. during the past decade – (one fatality), Boeing's bosses, have now disregarded warnings by its own engineers. Boeing executives do not get one, two, three or anymore crashes attributed to their ignoring long-known aerodynamic engineering practices.

The Boeing 737 MAX must never be allowed to fly again, given the structural design defects built deeply into its system.

[May 28, 2019] Russia does not want to "control" Germany with Nord Stream, it wants to make money. And Germany wants cheap gas. Strictly business

Notable quotes:
"... They will be the ones to blackmail Europe and Germany if Europe becomes dependent on LNG from the U.S. So everything U.S. administrations are yelling at others is just projection, one knows immediately that it is in fact what the U.S. is doing under the veil or will be doing when the need/opportunity will arise. ..."
"... Trump is not an aberration, it is just how the U.S. always behaved, but now it is in the open, for all to see, the crassness and the bullying. ..."
"... Germany is the linchpin of the world and the U.S. (and others) is becoming hysterical at the possibility of not keeping the Germans down any longer… ..."
"... American Jewish intellectuals have really jumped the shark since the Iraq War. The most outlandish, slandering statements are stuffed into their essays and they trash whole peoples at the slightest “offence” to their worldview. ..."
May 28, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

GaryH May 23, 2019 at 9:32 am

If Daenerys Targaryen had announced her desire to use her last dragon to torch Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the Neocons would have lionized her as the womanly exemplar of democracy and wise foreign policy that produces peace and justice for all.

Neocons are very much the evil they call us to battle.

SteveM , , May 23, 2019 at 10:54 am

Re: MarkVA comment

I had to rub my eyes with incredulity when I read that.

If Russia wants to weaken Ukraine, why did it ever build a pipeline through it in the first place? Russia didn't stop using the Ukraine pipeline intially for political reasons. It was because Ukraine was stealing gas meant for pass-through to other European countries and it wasn't paying its bills. Don't pay your utility bills and see what happens.

Russia does not want to "control" Germany with Nord Stream, it wants to make money. And Germany wants cheap gas. Strictly business.

And how can Russia control Germany with Nord Stream when it knows that the first time it shuts off gas for political reasons would be the last. Because Russia knows that Germany will find alternative suppliers and never come back. The Russians ain't stupid.

Russia wants bilateral trade with Europe without the Global Cop Gorilla perpetually in the background arrogant calling the shots.

The final reconciliation of Europe and Russia should have occurred 25 years but didn't because the ham-fisted United States threw up the fear-monger barriers. And that was because its National Security States wants an existential "enemy" to justify its massive costs.

The sooner Europe ejects the U.S. War Machine from its territories the better. Better for Europe, better for Russia and better for the American taxpayers.

Kouros , says: May 23, 2019 at 11:32 am

I am with SteveM here. And I was shocked to see MarkVA’s comment. Mark has proved to be a respectable commentator, especially on Rod’s Blog, with very astute and sensible observations. It seems that tribalism is clouding his judgment when observing the world outside the U.S.

It is well known that the Soviets and the Russians always keep their end of the bargain and they know if they don’t do so they will end up loosing and being vilified. Whereas the U.S. always breaks its agreements, it is not thrust worthy (not agreement capable). Imagine depending on such an economic partner?!

They will be the ones to blackmail Europe and Germany if Europe becomes dependent on LNG from the U.S. So everything U.S. administrations are yelling at others is just projection, one knows immediately that it is in fact what the U.S. is doing under the veil or will be doing when the need/opportunity will arise.

Trump is not an aberration, it is just how the U.S. always behaved, but now it is in the open, for all to see, the crassness and the bullying.

Germany is the linchpin of the world and the U.S. (and others) is becoming hysterical at the possibility of not keeping the Germans down any longer… And Germany is moving ahead. It just sacrificed West Bank, and declared the BDS movement illegal as a soap to Israelis, to burnish its credentials with those blackmailers, so that it will become free to re-orient its politics and strategic configuration as it needs and wants.

fabian, May 23, 2019 at 2:33 pm

Gas? Where is the problem? Russian gas is cheaper that’s it. Furthermore, there is another pipeline that’s going to bring gas from the Mediterranean to Europe and another from Qatar.

And if all else fails and Russia flexes its muscles (which ones by the way) do you think that the over-indebted America will not sell its gas to the Germans?

And yes, it’s not a good strategy to be too dependent on America. It quickly takes the goods away when its interests are at stake.

Tiktaalik, May 24, 2019 at 5:14 pm

@MarkVA

>>The Nord Stream I and II gas pipe lines (aka Molotov-Ribbentrop Gas Lines), a Gazprom initiative, has everything to do with weakening Ukraine and increasing German energy dependence on Russia;

How could NS increase German energy dependence on Russia? It will be the very same gas which at the moment flows through the Ukraine.

Surely, NS would decrease anybody’s dependence from the Ukraine. So what?

Tiktaalik, May 24, 2019 at 5:18 pm

@MarkVA

>>Oh, and some lesser European countries were partitioned by the important European countries. So yes, Europe was quite busy spreading joy and happiness all around:

It’s a bit rich when it’s coming from an American. You’re still in Plymouth, right?

Kouros, May 24, 2019 at 11:35 pm

@MarkVA (May 23, 2019 at 8:12 pm )

That was a hit with the posting on Ukraine…

To bad it wasn’t accompanied by the Recognition of the US administration that the Golan Heights, taken from Syria by Israel after a war, against all worlds dictum, now belongs to Israel.

At least in Crimea, which by administrative fiat was moved within USSR from Russia to Ukraine in the 1950s, there was a referendum.

And for me, US is Devil Incarnate since it put a target of nuclear missiles on my mother country. May the curse of a 1000 hells be upon it.

Josep, May 25, 2019 at 5:05 am

Reading sites like Russia Insider gave me the notion that Germany would be better off as allies with Russia than with the USA. After all, Russia and Germany:

* are on the metric system
* have languages that use grammatical gender
* share the same 220-volt “Schuko” power plugs and sockets
* implement Civil Law, and most importantly
* aren’t separated by a whole ocean.

American Jewish intellectuals have really jumped the shark since the Iraq War. The most outlandish, slandering statements are stuffed into their essays and they trash whole peoples at the slightest “offence” to their worldview.

There are strong anti-German currents in American culture and politics, going back to at least WW1 and also manifest today (no other treaty ally is treated with such dismissive hostility by the Trump administration as Germany). But they are regarded as completely normal and rarely get critical attention, whereas German anti-Americanism is treated as a pathology or some kind of sacrilege…the German-American relationship (calling it “friendship” is a lie) is profoundly asymmetrical.

Agreed in both counts. The casual anti-white racism thrown about by the likes of such people (let’s not forget Davids Medienkritik, Little Green Footballs, Grouchy Old Cripple and Dissident Frogman) is a lot scarier than any jumpscare I’ve encountered. And in the case of German_reader’s comment, It’d be interesting to consider how Trump reconciles his hostility towards Germany with his own German heritage.

At one point in the Iraq War, the German news outlet Der Spiegel had readers rate their opinion of president Bush on their website on a scale of 1 (most favorable) to, if I recall correctly, 6 (least favorable). After seeing public opinion of Bush in Germany overwhelmingly “least favorable”, users of FreeRepublic went to this poll and attempted to gerrymander the results by selecting “most favorable”, deleting their site cookies, and repeating so as to make it look like more people in Germany supported Bush than opposed. This was called “freeping”.

[May 20, 2019] We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.

May 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Nemesiscalling , May 19, 2019 5:18:09 PM | 6

Sasha , May 19, 2019 5:26:49 PM | 7

On the alleged Arendt´s banality of evil, well, some more evil than others, if not because o of their clearly over the top ambitions:

Interesting comment linking some sources and articles on US military strategy from decades ago , some of which I am not able to get to anymore, as the article at ICH numbered 3011:

"First published From Parameters, Summer 1997, pp. 4-14: US Army War College: "There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing."

"Excerpts From Pentagon's Plan: 'Prevent the Re-Emergence of a New Rival':

"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union.

This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.

There are three additional aspects to this objective: First, the U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests.

Second, in the non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. Finally, we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role. An effective reconstitution capability is important here, since it implies that a potential rival could not hope to quickly or easily gain a predominant military position in the world."

... access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil"


[May 19, 2019] The US objective is to sustain US tech prominence by stifling Chinese plans to advance its economy.

May 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Don Bacon , May 17, 2019 3:24:47 PM | link

The US objective is to sustain US tech prominence by stifling Chinese plans to advance its economy. Of course China will never agree to that.
from CFR..

The Chinese government has launched "Made in China 2025," a state-led industrial policy that seeks to make China dominant in global high-tech manufacturing. The program aims to use government subsidies, mobilize state-owned enterprises, and pursue intellectual property acquisition to catch up with -- and then surpass -- Western technological prowess in advanced industries.
For the United States and other major industrialized democracies, however, these tactics not only undermine Beijing's stated adherence to international trade rules but also pose a security risk. . . here

[May 18, 2019] Are there any articles on how dependent Apple and Boeing are on Chinese components?

Boeing and Hollywood are two week stops that China can hit with impunity.
Notable quotes:
"... China has outspent the US on R&D since 2009 and now invests three times as much each year. ..."
"... The issue with these chips highlights just how ridiculous the American position is. The chips referred to are Intel processors they use in servers and qualcomm (arm core) processors in cell phones. Funny thing is, these processors are not even made in the US, and their replacement isn't that much of an issue, not for a company with the resources Huawei possesses. ..."
"... For government and other high security uses China has options like the MIPs based Loongson but that wouldn't work in the commercial environment so hopelessly devoted to x86 and windows. Probably the best solution would be to make an x86 analog like AMD markets, and it wouldn't take that long to do. ..."
"... The United States attacked China's largest telecom equipment maker Huawei. If China decides to retaliate, it could target chip giants like Qualcomm and Broadcom, which rely heavily on it for revenue, or tech giant Apple, which depends on them for iPhone manufacturing. ..."
"... Huawei's competitors Nokia and Ericsson would stand to win from the above ban as the United States and its allies would resort to them for 5G deployment. Nokia's and Ericsson's stocks rose more than 4% and 2% in early trading on May 16. . . here ..."
"... Chip fab is the only remaining significant technological lead that America retains anymore, but the raw engineering brainpower behind that industry in the US is mostly imported from China anyway. The Chinese have no shortage of brilliant engineers, they just have not really had the need to do without Intel and AMD before. Now they do. ..."
"... Within a year or so China will be producing chips as good as America's. Another year after that and America will be eclipsed in that industry. No longer will people be looking for "Intel Inside!" stickers on products but rather "Huawei Inside!" . ..."
"... What doesn't seem to be clear, or else ignored/excused here -- China is today just as globalist as the US and in fact the multinational corporations in control of both countries are inextricably linked, especially in the high tech sector currently under the intense MoA thread microscope. ..."
"... By our standards exploitation of workers in China is a grim picture , which compares with the grim blue collar conditions in the US, the equal and opposite result of the globalist equation wrt offshoring factory jobs endemic to capitalist production. ..."
"... MoA China "experts" should study the reality of globalization after removing the rose colored glasses if you wish to be considered analysts instead of merely wishful thinkers/cheerleaders of groupthink delusion. ..."
May 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

S , May 18, 2019 8:47:15 AM | link

@William Gruff #75: China is already producing world-class ARM chips. HiSilicon 's latest Kirin processors are on par with Qualcomm's Snapdragon and Samsung's Exynos processors. Apple's A-series is ahead of them all, but what does it matter if Apple's rising prices and falling quality are going to kill Apple anyway?

Schmoe , May 17, 2019 6:45:23 PM | link

Per Reuters, Huawei spends $11b on US components, and its ability to withstand this hit will vary by segment: "Huawei being unable to manufacture network servers, for example, because they can't get key U.S. components would mean they also stop buying parts from other countries altogether," said an executive at a Huawei chip supplier.

"They can relatively better manage component sourcing for mobile phones because they have their own component businesses for smartphones. But server and network, it's a different story," the executive said.

Are there any articles on how dependent Apple and Boeing are on Chinese components? This strategy seems incredibly short-sighted.

Godfree Roberts , May 17, 2019 7:30:34 PM | link
China has outspent the US on R&D since 2009 and now invests three times as much each year. That's why it's ahead technologically and scientifically.

By 2028, if current ratios hold, China will also outspend the US on defense. Won't that be interesting?

oglalla , May 17, 2019 7:34:09 PM | link
Remember the "Asian pivot"? Did Huawei and other critical tech companies start making independent chips back then? Or before? When were the tariffs planned? Speculation, anyone?
Indrid Cold , May 17, 2019 8:15:00 PM | link
The issue with these chips highlights just how ridiculous the American position is. The chips referred to are Intel processors they use in servers and qualcomm (arm core) processors in cell phones. Funny thing is, these processors are not even made in the US, and their replacement isn't that much of an issue, not for a company with the resources Huawei possesses.

Huawei already has its own arm based soc's it uses in it's high end phones and they can replace processors in it's low end phones with lesser versions of these.

The Intel processors will be tougher to do for the commercial market because of software compatibility issues.

For government and other high security uses China has options like the MIPs based Loongson but that wouldn't work in the commercial environment so hopelessly devoted to x86 and windows. Probably the best solution would be to make an x86 analog like AMD markets, and it wouldn't take that long to do.

Don Bacon , May 17, 2019 10:59:03 PM | link
from Market Realist. . .

The United States attacked China's largest telecom equipment maker Huawei. If China decides to retaliate, it could target chip giants like Qualcomm and Broadcom, which rely heavily on it for revenue, or tech giant Apple, which depends on them for iPhone manufacturing.

Huawei uses Qualcomm's modems in its high-end smartphones and has been in settlement talks with the chip supplier over a licensing dispute. Tensions between the United States and Huawei could delay this licensing settlement, sending Qualcomm's stock down 4.4% on May 16.

Huawei's competitors Nokia and Ericsson would stand to win from the above ban as the United States and its allies would resort to them for 5G deployment. Nokia's and Ericsson's stocks rose more than 4% and 2% in early trading on May 16. . . here

William Gruff , May 18, 2019 8:11:03 AM | link
"Soon U.S. chip companies will have lost all their sales to the second largest smartphone producer of the world. That loss will not be just temporarily, it will become permanent." --b

This is a crucial and important development. So long as China is just developing their domestic chip designs as an academic exercise they will forever trail behind the market leaders by at least one technological iteration. Why try so hard with chip designs that will only ever just be used in college degree theses papers and proof of concept models? Real innovation comes from scratching an itch; from fulfilling an actual need. Chip fab is the only remaining significant technological lead that America retains anymore, but the raw engineering brainpower behind that industry in the US is mostly imported from China anyway. The Chinese have no shortage of brilliant engineers, they just have not really had the need to do without Intel and AMD before. Now they do.

In the short term the transition will be painful for China. The first few iterations of their replacement chip designs will be buggy and not have the features of chips they could have bought for cheaper from the US. They will also have problems ramping up capacity to meet their needs. Typical growing pains, in other words. In the long term, though, this will be seen as the point at which the end started for America's chip tech dominance. Within a year or so China will be producing chips as good as America's. Another year after that and America will be eclipsed in that industry. No longer will people be looking for "Intel Inside!" stickers on products but rather "Huawei Inside!" .

donkeytale , May 18, 2019 9:57:42 AM | link
Isnt it clear the US is globalist? Uhhm, well, yes, it's only been clear for the prior 75 years at least. In fact Lenin laid it all out during WWI so one could say it's been clear for 100 years.

What doesn't seem to be clear, or else ignored/excused here -- China is today just as globalist as the US and in fact the multinational corporations in control of both countries are inextricably linked, especially in the high tech sector currently under the intense MoA thread microscope.

Why aren't Huawei making making more smartphone chips in production? Because so many Chinese component manufacturers are still heavily invested in churning out product for Apple. These companies employ millions in "relatively high paying" factory jobs and account for a large slice of Chinese export income and stock market capitalization. These corporate oligarchs supported by the Chinese government retain a vested interest in the status quo.

This is not to minimize Huawei or Chinese growing ability to compete at the design and innovation level as well as production, it is simply rightsizing the perspective to fit the reality. Huawei production is growing worldwide but this doesn't mean Apple or Samsung will evaporate or fall by the wayside and the Chinese need Apple and its markets too . In fact, Huawei is now willing for the first time to sell microchips to third party cell phone producers including Apple. Successful capitalist growth for China depends on increasing production into new products, technologies and markets not replacing current platforms with new. The product cycle will take care of itself in time anyway.

By our standards exploitation of workers in China is a grim picture , which compares with the grim blue collar conditions in the US, the equal and opposite result of the globalist equation wrt offshoring factory jobs endemic to capitalist production.

China is still in the industrial growth phase of its capitalist development, although beginning to transition to the higher phase for sure. Of course.

MoA China "experts" should study the reality of globalization after removing the rose colored glasses if you wish to be considered analysts instead of merely wishful thinkers/cheerleaders of groupthink delusion.

[May 18, 2019] Trump might get into deeper problem with China that he anticipated: if China assume that US is not desirable partner then can replicate many of key US technological areas and deprive US companies of revenue.

Trump calculation is probably that neoliberalism in China already corrupted Communist Party enough for US being able to destabilize the country buy depriving it of export revenue. And it is true that influence neoliberal Fifth column in china exists and can compete with Communist Party for power. If Trump timing is correct China will be crushed. If this in incorrect the USA might be crushed. This is a very high stake game as Trump burn bridges way too easily (being reckless and arrogant all his life). Bulling as a negotiating tactics might be OK for New York real estate market is not that good in negotiating with countries such as China.
Both countries are neoliberal countries but Chinese have more flexibility as remnants of Communist Party control remain in place. But the same remnants are also a bog danger, as China might find itself in the position of the USSR when the US crushed oil price and deprived it of much of its export revenue. In this case Communist Party will be blamed for social disruptions and might lose power due tot he power of Chine Fifth column of nouveau riche like happened in the USSR (opposition was supported by huge cash injections from the USA). I hope they study the USSR experience very carefully and will not repeat Gorbachov mistakes (although it is difficult, as it is very difficult to find a more stupid politician then Gorbachov, unless we assume that he was a traitor). Also the level of nationalism in China is much higher and that might help. In any case this uncharted territory for both China and the USA.
The Trump administration seems to have the illusion that if you raise the stakes high enough, other countries will cave to US demands. There might also be an element of creating foreign adversary in order to unite the domestic front. If Chinese will hold their position tight despite the pain, Trump might lose the election in 2020 as he will be unable to protect the economy for more then a year and the first signs of reception nullify his changes, as he will be blames for it.
Notable quotes:
"... This article titled 'Face' by Walrus over at SST is well worth a read alongside b's piece. https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2019/05/face-by-walrus.html ..."
"... Both these articles give a very clear picture of what the drunken louts 'Team Trump' are up against in their so called trade war. Very much like a drunken spectator climbing into the ring thinking he can take on a professional boxer. ..."
"... The US attack on China did not start with Trump. This is what Obama's military "Pivot to Asia" was about, as was the TPP, which explicitly was designed to develop an economic alliance that left China out. Capitalist trade wars are also not new, as are hot wars. They are part of capitalism. ..."
"... "Intellectual property" is a laughable assertion, an audacious attempt by the US to corner all human advances and claim them as the property of US capitalists, to be only used for their profits. As if! ..."
"... What an appalling ruling elite in the USA. Blamers and punishers. Never take any responsibility for their murderous acts ..."
"... The U.S. talks about pressuring China until they give in. China talks about a solution that respects the dignity of each party. ..."
"... I had the sudden realisation that US politics is essentially monarchist in its nature, for all the complicated legal and constitutional structures that have been built around it over the past 240+ years. US politics and culture are fixated on one individual with extreme powers; the superhero obsession in Hollywood is one symptom of that. ..."
"... In a way the US now resembles the Ottoman empire during that empire's Sultanate of Women period (late 1500s to mid-1700s) when sultans' power was dominated by their mothers, viziers and sometimes the janissaries who became a hereditary class during that period. ..."
"... Idolatry is universal. People always gravitate towards Alpha personalities. ..."
"... In looking into US culture and why it gives rise the type of leadership it has, I think it may be the belief in exceptionalism. Exceptionalism may also carry with it the belief that all other peoples want to be like them and all they (Americans) have to do is free those peoples from the nasty dictators ruling over them. ..."
"... Patrick Armstrong in one of his articles has said that in his dealings with US officials as Canadian ambassador or diplomat, is that American officials genuinely believed that all they had to do was overthrow the evil dictator and the people would welcome Americans or willingly join the US system. ..."
"... But, at the same time, on another level, Americans understand that the president is a puppet and must obey orders, or have his brains blown out in bright daylight, in the town square. ..."
"... We hold both these views simultaneously, hence, as Orwell called it, Doublethink. ..."
"... The British court said, no patent, no copyright and no monopoly can last longer than 7 years. that was 1787-89, and it explains the for a short time clause in the USA constitution. ..."
"... I don't think the US sees the world's nations as commanded by their senior politician. Far from it, but to keep the US public locked in a child's mentality, the govt and its MSM present every political event/action/reaction as between personalities. Can't have reason and logic breaking out among the minions can we? ..."
"... China's "competitive advantages" are too big for a confederation of micro-countries in the Pacific to overcome. ..."
"... b said;" the U.S. economic system is based on greed and not on the welfare of its citizens." Bingo! Jrabbit @ 52 said;"US foreign policy has been remarkably consistent for over 20 years." Maybe the last 100 yrs.? Demonize countries people and rulers, and take their stuff, but why not? We are, don't ya' know, the exceptional nation, doing gods work. Manifest Destiny, isn't it great? ..."
"... Smacking down China is a strategic priority for the Deep State. ..."
"... the neocons in the US believes it is now or never to defend the USA unique position as world power. They believe, that if they don't fight now, they will have lost. I say, they already have. ..."
"... Trust the UnitedSnake to blame the Chinese for reneging on an agreement ! Fact is, Trump's team Add in last minute conditions that are totally unacceptable to China. Chinese commentators are fuming at the audacity of the demands. 'WTF, Do they think we'r their gawd damned 51st state ?' ..."
"... Typical UnitedSnake's 'negotiation' tactics, designed to fail ! Thats how Clinton justity his bombing of ex Yugo, by blaming Belgrade for the breakdown of negotiation ,to justify its 78 days of aerial arsons against Yugo. ..."
May 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

jared , May 17, 2019 4:55:50 PM | link

This article titled 'Face' by Walrus over at SST is well worth a read alongside b's piece. https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2019/05/face-by-walrus.html

Also this Sputnik Article https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201905161075055767-china-us-trade-war/

Both these articles give a very clear picture of what the drunken louts 'Team Trump' are up against in their so called trade war. Very much like a drunken spectator climbing into the ring thinking he can take on a professional boxer.

@ Peter AU 1 | May 17, 2019 4:33:54 PM | 1 5 Trump

Trump wants improved trade conditions for improved economic climate in the U.S. But there are others in the admin who want something else.

But still: "backup chips it has independently developed" That's a good one Mr Moon.

wagelaborer , May 17, 2019 5:05:18 PM | link

The US attack on China did not start with Trump. This is what Obama's military "Pivot to Asia" was about, as was the TPP, which explicitly was designed to develop an economic alliance that left China out. Capitalist trade wars are also not new, as are hot wars. They are part of capitalism.

"Intellectual property" is a laughable assertion, an audacious attempt by the US to corner all human advances and claim them as the property of US capitalists, to be only used for their profits. As if!

https://wagelaborer.blogspot.com/2019/01/intellectual-property-and-war-on-china.html

uncle tungsten , May 17, 2019 5:12:28 PM | link
What an appalling ruling elite in the USA. Blamers and punishers. Never take any responsibility for their murderous acts. Rise up people, these are dangerous, stupid leaders and elites.
dh-mtl , May 17, 2019 5:13:10 PM | link
B says: Whatever face is at the top is only representing the layers below.

Yes, this is the case when complex governmental systems are functioning properly. In this case power is distributed throughout the system, based on the role each individual within the system. People must have a collaborative culture for complex systems to function properly.

People of an authoritarian nature hate complex systems and distributed power, as such systems limit the freedom of action of the authoritarian leader. The corollary to this is that systems must be kept simple to accommodate authoritarian leaders. And simple systems are much less powerful and effective than complex systems.

My observation is that, in the U.S., authoritarianism is the dominant culture, as opposed to a collaborative culture of the Chinese that is implied by B's comment.

Indeed we see many signs in these negotiations that the U.S. is operating based on a culture of authoritarianism, whereas China is operating based on a culture of collaboration. Among the signs:

  1. The tendency that B. noted of Americans to assign all power to the leader. (This is not the first time, and in fact it is a common mistake of the U.S. and one of the reasons that their regime change efforts almost never achieve a result that is favorable for the U.S.)
  2. The U.S. talks about winning and losing. China talks equity.
  3. The U.S. talks about pressuring China until they give in. China talks about a solution that respects the dignity of each party.

The principle behind negotiations for people of a collaborative culture is 'Win-Win or No-Deal'. For Authoritarians, Win-Win is a compromise, and compromise is the equivalent of a loss. My conclusion is that there is only a very low probability that the U.S. and China will successfully negotiate a trade deal. The cultures of the authoritarian Americans and the collaborative Chinese are too divergent. China will only accept Win-Win and the U.S. cannot accept Win-Win.

Winston2 , May 17, 2019 5:18:30 PM | link
Classic US empire strategy. Build up a supplier and when they start to be serious a competitor take them down. Asian Tiger crisis,forcing occupied Japan into the Plaza Accord etc. They left it too long with China, way too long. China has not recycled its trade dollars surplus into USTs since 2014. No replacement suppliers like Vietnam or Indonesia etc will do either, no more vendor finance for the US.

It will have to live within its means, no wonder the neocohens are going insane. We are watching the death of the $ as GRC first hand.

uncle tungsten , May 17, 2019 5:19:11 PM | link
@jared | May 17, 2019 4:55:50 PM | 18

NO jared, Trump is in charge, fully responsible and yet totally irresponsible. He hires and fires, he barks the orders, Trump is not captive. You may desperately wish to believe that but NO, Trump wants it like this and NO dissent.

This is Henry Kissinger's plan implemented by Trump. A war criminal implementing a sociopath war criminal's plan. Trump is a killer and an oligarchs stooge and he like the rewards.

See the fabulous Aaron Mate discussion previously linked in the last thread.

james , May 17, 2019 5:32:57 PM | link
thanks b... ditto peter au recommendation @16 on the article from walrus on face..
Jen , May 17, 2019 5:47:54 PM | link
I'd be curious to know what other MoA barflies think of the US tendency to personalize other countries' governments and political systems and reduce them all to monarchies of one sort or another, and what this says about the American psychology generally. So much of the US slather and accusations against Russia and China and what those nations are supposedly doing look like psychological projection of the US' own sins and malevolent behaviour.

I was in hospital nearly 20 years ago for a major operation and some of my recuperation there was spent watching a few old "Star Trek: Next Generation" episodes. Watching those shows, I was struck by how much "power" the Star Trek captain Jean-Luc Picard appeared to wield. Every one of his subordinates deferred to his decisions and very few challenged him.

I know this is an old TV show with scripts that emphasise individual action over collective action and delineating a whole culture on board the Starship fleet (this is a long time before "Game of Thrones") but I had the sudden realisation that US politics is essentially monarchist in its nature, for all the complicated legal and constitutional structures that have been built around it over the past 240+ years. US politics and culture are fixated on one individual with extreme powers; the superhero obsession in Hollywood is one symptom of that.

In a way the US now resembles the Ottoman empire during that empire's Sultanate of Women period (late 1500s to mid-1700s) when sultans' power was dominated by their mothers, viziers and sometimes the janissaries who became a hereditary class during that period.

Don Bacon , May 17, 2019 5:55:00 PM | link
@ dh-mtl 21
You provided an excellent analysis of two very different kinds of people, westerners and Asians (Chinese). Americans who believe that Chinese are pretty much like them, and respond to people, to pressures and and to situations in the same way, are badly mistaken.

I would add another: Westerners want instant results and quick profits whereas Chinese take the long view. Heck, they've been around for five thousand years so why not.

Lochearn , May 17, 2019 5:56:05 PM | link
I'm glad you raise the issue of increased prices for US consumers, b. I have been looking in vain for a mention of this even in alternative media. Nobody appears to be talking about it.

If I can go off track for a moment the events surrounding Boeing are highly significant and a parallel to what is happening generally in the US. Here is a something I wrote for naked capitalism but did not send - Yves is too fierce and I don't trust her. A bit like a feminine Colonel what's his name Laing...

Because of the prestige of Boeing Wall Street left its dimantling until quite late - 1997. GE and Ford had already produced their versions of the 737 Max in the 1960s with the Corvair and the Pinto respectively as finance people started to take over the running of US companies. There is something very sad in watching a once magnificent company reduced by bankers to a shadow of its former self.

dh , May 17, 2019 5:59:06 PM | link
There has been a trade imbalance for quite a while but it didn't seem to matter much. The Chinese raised their standard of living, Americans got cheap stuff, surplus dollars went into treasuries to fund the deficit. It all worked pretty well until Trump and MAGA. Somehow he thinks he'll bring the jobs back but no Americans are going to make sneakers and circuit boards for $2 an hour.
Ian , May 17, 2019 6:21:30 PM | link
@Jen | May 17, 2019 5:47:54 PM | 25:

Idolatry is universal. People always gravitate towards Alpha personalities.

dh | May 17, 2019 5:59:06 PM | 28:

Trump knows those manufacturing jobs aren't coming back and automation is the future. He's just parroting what his base wants to hear for votes.

Peter AU 1 , May 17, 2019 6:23:01 PM | link
Jen 25

I have just replied to Karlof1 in I think the previous thread and I link into this. In looking into US culture and why it gives rise the type of leadership it has, I think it may be the belief in exceptionalism. Exceptionalism may also carry with it the belief that all other peoples want to be like them and all they (Americans) have to do is free those peoples from the nasty dictators ruling over them.

Patrick Armstrong in one of his articles has said that in his dealings with US officials as Canadian ambassador or diplomat, is that American officials genuinely believed that all they had to do was overthrow the evil dictator and the people would welcome Americans or willingly join the US system.

OutOfThinAir , May 17, 2019 6:29:02 PM | link
All the economic momentum is in Eurasia, centering on China, India, and Russia. China is spearheading this drive and re-assuming its historical status as the richest land in the world. Instead of resisting, Washington should be working with projects like the BRI that help enrich everyone. (Indeed, why doesn't Washington announce a BRI for North/South America, perhaps a Yellow Brick Road? But that's an aside...)

And concerns about Chinese spying through their companies should be equaled with internal reflection about the practice in the United States. Perhaps it would be wise for both countries to develop and practice international standards that respect human rights in an Everything's Connected world.

Given how the US and China frequently treat "different" people with disdain, that's a lot to ask. But no country or people is spotless regarding abusing human rights and some wisdom with power would be welcome from both governments.

wagelaborer , May 17, 2019 6:33:45 PM | link
Jen @25. Americans are good at Doublethink.

You point out that our entertainment industry focuses its plots on strong leaders, and Good Guys vs Bad Guys, and we definitely internalize that, especially when our overlords want to demonize another country, and use our entertainment-induced perspective as a shortcut.

They tell us that the leader of the targeted country is a Bad Guy and we must kill the people in order to save them. And Americans nod and comply. Except for the 5% that prefers peace, and they argue that the leader is not a Bad Guy, so we shouldn't kill the people to save them.
No American ever thinks to argue international law or basic morality, we just argue about the plot lines.

But, at the same time, on another level, Americans understand that the president is a puppet and must obey orders, or have his brains blown out in bright daylight, in the town square.

We hold both these views simultaneously, hence, as Orwell called it, Doublethink.

snake , May 17, 2019 6:37:51 PM | link
China has succeeded because it does not honor copyright and patent monopolies. Western civilization is failing because it imposes the feudal monopoly by rule of law system.. The state will make sure a few fat cats are lords and the masses are their slaves.
---

The investment and salary classes have been screwing me since I was born. Now its time for all of us to feel the pain. And create a world that can benefit all of us. https://dedona.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/donald-trump-and-the-politics-of-resentment-john-michael-greer/ so @ 8 <== I agree..

---

It is almost asking the change of China's political system." <= no its not, the struggle today is freedom, human rights and the right to self determination not socialism vs capitalism.. it the struggle today is capitalism vs monopolism.. because monopolism aims to make every single human being alive its slave to a very few monopoly powered corporate giants.. China is a clear example of what can be if the masses are allowed to compete without the shackles of copyrights, patents and other thin air monopolies.

Some aspects of China's trade behavior can and should be criticized.

Why? Because of that "intellectual property" stuff? Japan basically built itself from the ground up in the post-war through allowed and unallowed intellectual property theft. Canon and Nikon, for example, essentially fac-similed Leica during that period; after the transition to digital, they erased their theft past, but it doesn't change the objective truth both wouldn't exist without stealing technology from a defeated country (Germany). It did the same with missile reentrance technology it stole from the USSR after the Cold War.

< Technology is a product of the human mind.. copyright and patents are thefts of the products of the human mind.. and human mind assets do not belong to anyone, to any country.. Instead, copyright and patents (intellectual property) are and should be in the public domain (but the scum that write the laws have created from thin air; rights which do not exist, and given the rights they fabricated to their feudal lords and the corporations owned by such lords. So the lawmaking scum have made it possible for a few (feudal lords) to establish and maintain a monopoly in the good life, over the masses in the world. .. Just as in the in England, France and Switzerland, where only the rich, corrupt politicians, and criminal few hung out and traded copyright and patent monopolies in the coffee houses, (much like stocks and bonds are traded today, monopoly trading was a game between fat cats (today's the fat cats are wall street barons), ..monopolies allow rich and wealth to support their royal life styles at the price of enslaving the masses to poverty. Luckily a court in England, threaten by an angry crowd of the masses, denied the wealthy their perpetual lifetime patents and copyright demands, no longer could the fat cats squeeze ownership of an intellectual creation from its creator, convert it to intangible property, and use the intellectual property to monopolize the world.

The British court said, no patent, no copyright and no monopoly can last longer than 7 years. that was 1787-89, and it explains the for a short time clause in the USA constitution.

frances , May 17, 2019 6:42:04 PM | link
I don't think the US sees the world's nations as commanded by their senior politician. Far from it, but to keep the US public locked in a child's mentality, the govt and its MSM present every political event/action/reaction as between personalities. Can't have reason and logic breaking out among the minions can we?

As for Trump being in charge, I rather doubt it, no US president has been "in charge" of any thing except possibly what is for lunch since Washington. Too many policies Trump began, such as negotiations with NK, have been trashed by his "teams" who I believe are actually his minders put in place by the Deep State.

Is Trump a great guy? A NY developer by their very nature is not a great guy. But I do think he wants to be seen as a great president. To do that he has to pull off some deals that will be remembered which is why he wanted the deal with NK, that Pompeo blew up.

I also think that the govt is preparing for the time when the dollar is no longer the reserve currency. And to do that you need to pull manufacturing back from abroad (from China), seize critical assets (from Venezuela),break any and all treaties that require you to spend money you won't have (making NATO (pay as you go).

All things the govt is doing, admittedly with the most horrific management team since Taft's. But they are moving on all fronts to circle the wagons of US commerce.

They know what is coming, some of them may see war as the way to bilk a few more trillions out of the treasury, but I don't think the military will let them. For they know that if they go up against a nation that Russia and China support and botch it, that R&C will go for the throat and that, more so than the currency crash would be the end of the US.

These moves we see are very serious because the end game is for the continued existence (or death)of the US. And many of these tactical moves are very high risk because they hasten the end of the dollar. I give the dollar five years more, tops. Then it will be just one in a basket of currencies until the yuan makes its way to the top.

And where that strange UN Agenda 21 fits in this I don't know, its plan for the US is for drastically reduced population (70% loss, from what?)the remaining population in mega cities and truly vast areas of no go set aside for the "environment." It reads like a National Parks program on crack with a side of Hunger Games.

The next five years are going to be really critical and I personally think the US will only make it by the skin of its teeth.

Peter AU 1 , May 17, 2019 6:54:13 PM | link
@ Jen. Another thought. The era in which the current state of America was conceived. British colonies in a war of separation or independence against the British. Europe and Britain at that time mostly ruled by hereditary monarchs nobles and lords ect.

Americans which I take it at that time would have been mostly British ancestry had done away with hereditary monarchs and so forth. It would have been somewhat exceptional at the time. In the targeting of the leader of a nation as the source of all evil, I wonder if that relates back to doing away with hereditary leadership especially monarch.

the grand chessboard. checkmate the king.

Don Bacon , May 17, 2019 6:55:25 PM | link
President Trump has declared a national emergency due a threat to the US from "the ability of foreign adversaries to create and exploit vulnerabilities in information and communications technology or services, with potentially catastrophic effects, and thereby constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," so various actions and prohibitions have been stipulated here .
Lord H , May 17, 2019 7:07:00 PM | link
I particularly like this line: "where the propaganda weakens and journalism sneaks in"
jared , May 17, 2019 7:37:06 PM | link
UncleT

I dont mean to make excuses for Trump.
It all happens on his watch.

We will have other/better option soon - hopefully not too late.

Michael Droy , May 17, 2019 8:09:49 PM | link
I think war reporting rules are in place with China, and Trade war has started. Every month that passes without a crisis is a success for China right now as it over takes US in GDP, tech, and trade links.

Key issues are bringing Europe in - the Huawei ban extended to Europe is battlefield #1, Northstream (gas link to Russia) is #2.

First get Europe on board, the US can up things a lot further. If Trump gets this right, he can delay outright defeat by China under well beyond his 8 years are up. (Bush or Obama early on could have won, or could have found a peaceful solution).

lysias , May 17, 2019 8:15:14 PM | link
A president doesn't have to obey the orders of the powers that be just because they threaten to kill him otherwise. A brave president would defy them to do their worst. If they went ahead and killed him, he would still have accomplished something important. By exposing the nature of the system, he would have robbed it of its legitimacy and brought a revolution much closer.
Jackrabbit , May 17, 2019 8:32:10 PM | link
You've all been trained very well to ignore the class warfare. China's "peaceful rise" was convenient when it enriched the Western elite.

But when China makes a play for equal footing, the must be smacked down. In each case (rise, smack-down) ordinary people (like yourselves) get f*cked. Kissinger's NWO? It's for the children.... No, not YOUR children. Welcome to the rabbithole.

bevin , May 17, 2019 8:32:54 PM | link
vk@13

Best example of a country stealing foreign inventions and protecting its 'uneconomical' industries with tariffs is the USA. It was notorious that in the C19th American publishers pirated authors and musicians from Europe, particularly of course from Britain where the intellectual properties of Dickens and his contemporaries laid the basis for many an American publishing fortune.

Among the primary victims were American authors who couldn't compete against stolen imports.

dltravers , May 17, 2019 8:55:12 PM | link
I am not so sure the conclusions of the article are correct. Tariffs on Chinese factories will force production to other countries in the area like Vietnam where costs are not going to be much higher than China.

Granted, the US may be pissed off that Huawei is placing back doors in their systems but I suspect that they are only copying what the US has done for years with US companies like Microsoft.

My daughter managed 5 factories located in China of a clothing manufacture based in the US some years ago. She said there was constant chaos as the workers were continually on strike. Bad air, dangerous machines, poor wages. few bathrooms, bad water, childcare is chaining you child to a fence for the day, and the like. Her boss flew to China and asked for the cheapest costs possible. They showed him a factory full of little children cranking out production. He left crying his eyes out. He was a cold hearted bastard but even that was too much for him to see.

I viewed first hand the destruction trade agreements like NAFTA caused to good union wages and benefits in the US. Hell, that is what got Trump elected. It is tough to watch your children go into the same profession and make 50% less in wages and fringes 30 years later.

Intellectual property and patents? No so sure about that, the views here are new to me. I always supported them but I guess I need to dig deeper on that one.

In the net I think China is the loser, fewer jobs, higher food costs, their markets are down 30%, ours are peaking and are seen as a safe haven for money. Export numbers for China are dropping as is the trade balance.

At this point it is not a trade war but a re balancing of markets IMHO. If it was a real trade war things would be far worse. Middle supplier countries will be hurt, US farmers, some markets win some lose. If it was business as usual then it would be business as usual. Trump is stirring the pot and what the endgame is is anyone's guess. Did anyone really believe China would just bend over and accept any demands from the US?

All that being said China can easily wait it out and hope Trump loses and the policy is reversed which I am sure his policies will be reversed if anyone else gets elected.

Zachary Smith , May 17, 2019 9:19:41 PM | link
@ jared 4:47:32 PM #17

Your link about Boeing is a good one. Today at Naked Capitalism was a story about a possible 'payback' link between Huawei and Boeing. China has the option of causing a great deal of pain to both the US and Boeing in retaliation.

They could declare the recertified 737-MAX to be unsafe, so much so they're cancelling all orders and forbidding any landings in or overflights of China. If Canada hadn't screwed up so badly, the local Bombardier airplane might have been substituted for the 737. But Canada did goof in a major way.

Cyril , May 17, 2019 9:24:52 PM | link
@ponderer | May 17, 2019 4:27:02 PM | 15

There is no way that the US could subsidize the growth of a larger population base forever.

China sends vast amounts of manufactured goods to the United States; the US pays for all this with dollars it can effortlessly print. So who is subsidizing whom?

Cyril , May 17, 2019 9:26:38 PM | link
A minor thing compared to the trade war, but possibly of interest to sports fans.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been very popular in China, but its profitable Chinese operations may become a casualty of the trade war. Presumably it fears this: the NBA is looking to hire someone who can talk to the Chinese government :

The National Basketball Association Inc. is hiring its first head of government and public affairs in China as it seeks to protect its most important international market at a time of high tension in the U.S.-China relationship.
Jackrabbit , May 17, 2019 9:35:47 PM | link
What I don't like about Chas Freeman's article is his tone-deafness. He has been around government enough to know better. Smacking down China is a strategic priority for the Deep State. But Chas says:
There is no longer an orderly policy process in Washington to coordinate, moderate, or control policy formulation or implementation. Instead, a populist president has effectively declared open season on China.
It's a bit disturbing to see people here read Kissinger's 2014 Op-Ed (finally) but say nothing about Chas Freeman's assertion that it's all made up by a "populist" President.

<> <> <> <> <> <> <>

If the above hurt your feeling please feel free to retreat to your happy place. We'd all be better off.

Don Bacon , May 17, 2019 11:06:15 PM | link
Many trade war articles here
dltravers , May 17, 2019 11:13:06 PM | link
Jackrabbit at @ 58

Not happy, just learned to live with it. I think I get your point. The policy really means little, the underlying issues will never change.
Been in the rabbit hole for a really long time. If more people jump in maybe things will really start to change.

vk , May 18, 2019 12:01:02 AM | link
@ Posted by: dltravers | May 17, 2019 8:55:12 PM | 53
I am not so sure the conclusions of the article are correct. Tariffs on Chinese factories will force production to other countries in the area like Vietnam where costs are not going to be much higher than China.

First of all, this is not a new phenomenon: low wages, low technology industries are already being transferred to India and SE-Asia. The Chinese know this and there are innumerous articles on the internet you can find about it.

But even if this process accelerates, that won't solve the manufacturing problem of the USA: it will continue to be abroad. Besides, China's "competitive advantages" are too big for a confederation of micro-countries in the Pacific to overcome. It has a socialist economy (centrally planified economy, under the hegemony of the working class); it has 1.5 billion people that will only peak in 2030; it is decades ahead in built infrastructure; it has a huge scale economy advantage (e.g. infrastructure projects that are required to reach a certain desired productive level, which are profitable in China, may not be profitable in e.g. Malaysia simply because it is too small); its financial sector is not dominant over production. But then, I repeat: even if the USA nukes China, manufacturing still won't go back to American soil.

America's problem is a secular fall of its profit rates, not manufacturing capacity: it can import whatever and how much products it needs simply because it can print world money (Dollar system).

ben , May 18, 2019 12:18:53 AM | link
b said;" the U.S. economic system is based on greed and not on the welfare of its citizens." Bingo! Jrabbit @ 52 said;"US foreign policy has been remarkably consistent for over 20 years." Maybe the last 100 yrs.? Demonize countries people and rulers, and take their stuff, but why not? We are, don't ya' know, the exceptional nation, doing gods work. Manifest Destiny, isn't it great?
Zachary Smith , May 18, 2019 1:31:30 AM | link
I know next to nothing about the "Huawei" business, so a new article about it is something to grab at. Pretty cut and dried, huh? Hauwei is pure evil, and no 'ifs' or 'buts' about it.

But who is this guy. A couple of quick searches turned up some more of his output.

'It's now or never': The untold story of the dramatic, Canadian-led rescue of Syria's White Helmets

How Israel became a defender of the Syrian people

Just another neocon hack peddling BS, so I'm back to square one.

Ian , May 18, 2019 4:30:33 AM | link
dltravers | May 17, 2019 8:55:12 PM | 54:

China will wait it out until Trump is out of office. The Chinese leadership is pretty smart and had at least three years to prepare for the worst case scenario. Once Chinese industries as a whole follow Huawei's footsteps (i.e. Plan B), there will be no turning back. They'll set off Plan B once they see Trump winning 2020.

dh | May 18, 2019 12:06:33 AM | 67:

Ugh...I almost leap for joy until I read the URL.

padre , May 18, 2019 5:06:23 AM | link
Are we to asume from "Some aspects of China's trade behavior can and should be criticized" that the United States are shining example of trade (and all other) policies,all others to follow?
S , May 18, 2019 6:02:26 AM | link
@Indrid Cold #46:
For government and other high security uses China has options like the mips based Loongson but that wouldn't work in the commercial environment so hopelessly devoted to x86 and windows. Probably the best solution would be to make an x86 analog like amd markets, and it wouldn't take that long to do.

Chinese-Taiwanese joint venture Zhaoxin has been making x86 processors since 2013, based on VIA Technologies' x86 license. These processors are manufactured by Taiwanese TSMC, but may switch to Chinese SMIC once it launches its 14nm process later this year.

William Gruff , May 18, 2019 7:43:24 AM | link
"Whatever face is at the top is only representing the layers below." --b

The truth of this is also why so many in America hate Trump so much. He is too perfect a reflection of what America truly stands for. Trump accurately represents America, from America's bloated, over-inflated sense of self-importance and worth to America's pussy-grabbing foreign policy. Trump-hate is really self-hate.

Delusional American Russiagater Trump Derangement Syndrome victims will protest, but such people are incapable of taking a good hard look at themselves.

Hmm... "delusional" and "American" are redundant adjectives here. I should be more careful with my writing style.

snake , May 18, 2019 7:55:24 AM | link
Mr. Gruff you have it almost correct, Americans and the USA are not one in the same and they never have been.
I still don't think you guys get it.. The 7 article constitution of the USA apportions the power to rule between two branches and separates the masses from their personal political powers and their human rights. Its result is not a democracy, but a few people rule republic. 100% of the authority to rule (operate and make decisions) is vested in one person (Art. II, rule and decide: President w/VP backup), subject only to the powers distributed to the two bodied legislative structure ( Art. I, pass law and raise money: 450 house+100 senate persons). Critical to understand => one person makes all decisions, and directs the day to day government. Article III thru VII defines the judiciary and clarifies various situations. (525 popularly elected + 2 electoral college appointed <=paid governors) vs. 350,000,000 powerless governed persons entitled only to 3 votes/voter [Senator(1), House members(2)] and allowed one vote/voter for each President(1) and VP(1) <=but both Art. II persons are appointed by the electoral college).

The USA is about delivering to the ownership of a very few, all of the assets, all of the power, and all of the services once possessed by the many. The demand for all of the possessions of the many, to be delivered to the few, has expanded over time from 13 colony America to earth and now space. No one but the few are entitled to anything and the USA and other governments are there to be sure of it. But how is 'total possession vested in the few' to be maintained? By rule of law!

But what law would transfer everyone's possessions into the ownership of a few? Ah, the laws of monopoly.. so rule of law, from thin air , generates=> monopoly powers and rights of ownership.. Examples of laws that bear monopoly powers and that transfer ownership rights are copyright laws, patent laws, as they convert monopoly powers that once the many shared (via governments) now belong to the few. The transfer is called privatization. Oil is controlled for the benefit of the private few by ownership laws and right to produce contracts. All in all the function of t he USA has been to make a few very wealthy at the expense of the many.

The trade issues, sanctions, wars, tariffs, race wars, oil wars, religious wars etc. are about which people are going to be the few. Until the form and function of governments are determined by the masses from the bottom, instead of by the few from the top, nothing will ever change. The masses will suffer or prosper according to which government is the winner.

therevolutionwas , May 18, 2019 8:08:39 AM | link
US factories moved to China because the US economy is based on greed?!! US government greed for the company's money maybe. US factories moved to China because it was cheaper to produce products there and then pay the expense to ship them all the way back. The US has one of the highest federal tax rates on earth, and add in high state taxes for an unacceptable situation. US fiat paper money is the base problem.
Mark2 , May 18, 2019 8:24:01 AM | link
William Gruff @ 72 & snake 71
I was just about to say the very same thing ! Delusions of grandeur ! And now major self-harm systems ! But are these degenerates above the law ? They are after all genocidal mass murder's! String um up I say or shall we fry um ?
Right now the brain dead American public are like something out of -- - - 'The invasion of the body snatchers ' film
Joanna , May 18, 2019 9:30:24 AM | link
@58, JackRabitt, Smacking down China is a strategic priority for the Deep State.

the first time I got some type of glimpse of the average American Mind on China, as it filtered down from "the deep state" to the more fearfully ill-informed quarters of society no doubt, was in the post 9/11 universe. The person or persons pushing the meme, may have been a bit confused by all the conspiracy theories about 9/11 unfolding at the time.

Anyway, Chinese troops he/she/they asserted readers were close to the Mexican border approaching, advancing swiftly.

In hindsight, maybe accidentally, although I doubt, Trump combines the elements of that narrative perfectly. And it is not my intention to argue right or wrong here. But apparently down at the border there is this "invasion" on the other hand there's also the Yellow Peril.

DontBelieveEitherPropaganda , May 18, 2019 9:58:41 AM | link
Well, the chinese system of power has always been the thoughest to understand for any outsider. It has been this way, but in the last years it seems the so called age of information has lead to erode the curtains of this complex mechanism. At least for those who want to look behind those curtains, and not use them to project their propaganda.. ;)

And it is a good sign that while Xi tired to establish himself in such a unique position of power like Mao, and openly tried to put himself into the historic succession of the old emperors (like Mao did too), that the will of the people and party still tips the scale of power. It means the chinese confucian tradition and its consequences for a ruler even today still matter. Even though they are anyway lost on someone who is not of Asian origin.

What to westerners look like a dictator, is of a different nature as one can even imagine with western eyes. Every ruler has to strive for balance, for harmony, which in turns makes hearing of the peoples popular will be a necessity.

Even though many Chinese say, they like any other people only strive for what they need most ;) (like harmony and compromise). Though many also say, that the chinese will always choose stability and security over freedom. And i guess that is what many from the western world dont get about China, and also about the Putinists. I say let them and every one else have their choice. Just like i say let the US do theirs, and reap what they seeded.

For those able to read German check out the Books of Peter Scholl-Latour on China. The most telling and authorative books from a journalist who has reported first had for over 60 years, and has always defended and honored his own perspective; While the western so called reporters were trapt in their professional delusion of pro-NATO propaganda, and while the SDS praised the culture revolution as a democratic means, when whole china was terrorized and millions slaugtherd.

Hard to walk that middle ground, while being attacked from ideological drones from both sides i guess..

Anyway, the neocons in the US believes it is now or never to defend the USA unique position as world power. They believe, that if they don't fight now, they will have lost. I say, they already have.

Short of pulling a Hitler on China, meaning a total annihilation of the Chinese people, there is nothing they can do. And even Bolton will have a hard time trying to push through a clear cut genocide ;)

We will see China rise. Those who feared of this will see that china will not be half as bad as thought, and those who gloirfy china and put them into a good (vs bad US) black-wide scheme will learn of the faults of the Chinese power and its projection (Like its own believe of supremacy, of racism (a reason why china in the cold war was pretty unsuccessful in Africa, where most knew who deeply racist Chinese treated their fellows as workers, guest students,..).

All in all, what we need is a true and functional global community of nations and people, where goverments truely work together to balance out the stronger world powers. And with the pressure of Chinas rise and its strugle with the US, we may finally have a better chance for this to at least partially succed. I hope.. ;) Or of course it nuclear winter time. We will see.

daffyDuct , May 18, 2019 10:30:54 AM | link
vk @ 13

China now, Japan in the 1980s - it's "deja vu all over again!"

"AFTER ITS DEFEAT in World War II, Japan was content to take foreign inventions -- the transistor, the laser, the videotape player -- and convert them into products that it could market around the world. Japan acquired much of its base of Western technology, most of it American, perfectly legally through licensing, careful study of scientific papers and patents, and imitation. But when the U.S. wasn't willing to share, some Japanese companies simply copied with little regard for patents and other intellectual property rights that the courts have only recently begun to define in many areas of high technology.

The U.S., confident of its technical superiority, ''sold out to the Japanese,'' says G. Steven Burrill, head of the high-technology consulting group at Arthur Young, a Big Eight accounting firm. ''We let them share our brain.''

Now, belatedly awake to the recognition that Japan has been eating their breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime snack, American companies are stirring. IBM vs. Fujitsu over computer software, Honeywell vs. Minolta over automatic focusing, Corning Glass vs. Sumitomo Electric over fiber optics -- these are only the latest, best-publicized complaints that Japan has stolen American technology.

Even as those legal battles are fought out, the copycat cliche is becoming obsolete. A series of studies financed by the U.S. government since 1984 warn that Japan has caught up with the U.S. or passed it in the development of integrated circuits, fiber optics, computer hardware engineering, and advanced materials like polymers. It is pressing hard in some areas of biotechnology, and lags primarily in computer software.

Already there are signs that the Japanese, buoyed by their new prowess, have assumed the arrogance of the U.S. along with its technology."

"A MEASURE of Japan's progress can be found in the number of patent filings in the U.S., Japan's most important export market. ..."

"THE FACT that Americans now worry about their access to Japanese technology is an acknowledgment of Japan's new scientific competence. When the Japanese were known primarily as copycats, the flow of technology was essentially in one direction. It was also cheap. Aaron Gellman, president of a consulting firm, says that for years U.S. firms licensed technology to the Japanese without asking for a grant-back, the right to use any improvements they made. Says Gellman: ''This was very arrogant and implied that no one could improve on our technology.''"

"U.S. scientists and companies have failed to take advantage of opportunities to tap Japanese academic research. ''What's wrong here is pure laziness,'' says Martin Anderson, an analyst with the MAC Group, a consulting firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts."

http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1987/12/21/69996/index.htm

denk , May 18, 2019 10:39:59 AM | link
Trust the UnitedSnake to blame the Chinese for reneging on an agreement ! Fact is, Trump's team Add in last minute conditions that are totally unacceptable to China. Chinese commentators are fuming at the audacity of the demands. 'WTF, Do they think we'r their gawd damned 51st state ?'

Typical UnitedSnake's 'negotiation' tactics, designed to fail ! Thats how Clinton justity his bombing of ex Yugo, by blaming Belgrade for the breakdown of negotiation ,to justify its 78 days of aerial arsons against Yugo.

denk , May 18, 2019 10:49:38 AM | link
How the UnitedSnake destroyed Toshiba and took over its crown jewel chip tech,... Toshiba was severely punished for breaking fukus sanction on USSR, by selling state of art milling machine to the Soviets. the unitedsnake slapped a heavy fine, demanded the resignation of Toshiba CEO, imposed a ten years ban on Toshiba products, FORCED the Japs to share their latest chip tech with Merikkans. Toshiba never recovered from that disaster.
vk , May 18, 2019 10:52:22 AM | link
Time to discard any illusions about the US ,source: Global Times Published: 2019/5/17 22:49:35
JOHN CHUCKMAN , May 18, 2019 10:59:52 AM | link
An excellent summary of many aspects of a serious and deteriorating situation. In the end, China has a lot of brainpower to apply to situations like this.They are used to speaking and writing one of the world's most difficult languages. They are used to playing Go, one of the world's most difficult board games. And their national endowment of analytical skills immensely surpasses that of the United States.

They are said to have eight times as many students in math and science and engineering in their universities. Xi himself is very bright, having earned degrees in difficult subjects at demanding universities, and he is calm and very forward-thinking. Just consider that magnificent long-term Silk Road Project. When I think of Trump with his constant mock-heroic poses and foot-high signatures on every silly memo and his gang of noisy, pompous thugs in top appointments, I can't help thinking I know how this will turn out in the end.

vk , May 18, 2019 11:11:09 AM | link
China's yuan slide risks trolling Trump It's good to remember that would not be the first time. After the first round of tariffs, China devalued the Renminbi and it basically wiped out the tariffs . In fact, it didn't even need to devalue that much: 1 Renminbi is now US$ 0.14 -- just a little over the Government max upwards band of 1:7.
denk , May 18, 2019 11:24:04 AM | link
In 2013, the CEO of French hi tech co Alstom was arrested by FBI, while changing flight at New York. His 'crime', breaking MERIKKAN anti corruption
law by bribing govn officials in INDONESIA ! Such is the LONG arm of merikkan extra territorial jurisdiction, rings a bell ... Ms meng ?

Just like Toshiba, the French paid a very heavy price. The CEO went to jail, Allstom, the crown jewel of French industry, was FORCED to sell off its core business to its main rival, GE. !

What did Ian Fleming's fundamental law of probability says.... ONCE IS HAPPENSTENCE, TWIC IS COINCIDENCE...

Noirette , May 18, 2019 11:39:25 AM | link
US MegaCos. outsourced and 'globalised' with the blessing, nay encouragement! of the Pol. Class. Cheaper labor and lax environmental rules, in comparison with 'home' (US, W countries, etc.) is a mantra. That is of course good enough, and one can track, say, sh*t-clothes factories transiting from Bangladesh, to China, to Malaysia, to Mexico, etc.

Other motives, the first is lack of responsibility and involvement which allows domineering and rapacious behavior. Foreign co. implant can just leave, relocate, if whatever. A random /racist term/ exploited worker in the 3rd world is not voting in US elections.

Deadly industrial pollution is outsourced, and energy use etc. at home while not curtailed or significantly diminished is not as high as one might see under condition of the industries returning home - a sort of 'greener' environment can be touted.

The PTB simply cannot grasp why some US citizens, who live high on the hog, house, 2 cars, 3 kids, endless dirt cheap consumer goods, etc. produced by 'slaves' abroad, complain. If the 'stuff' was produced at home, it would cost much more, the pay would be going to 'low-level' US labor -- in a more closed economic circuit there would be more 'equality' as things stand today in the US - *not* claiming it's a general rule.

Trump had some confused? thoughts about turning the present situation around, and relocating industrial - some extractive - manufacturing - jobs back home, say 1960s, with decent pay, to ppl who would then vote for him.

The stumbling block is that profits to shareholders, oligarchs, chief CEO's, asset trippers, usurers, Mafia types, Banks and other Fin, and Politicians who in the US are highly paid lackeys, etc. is set to diminish, as 'the pie' can no longer be grown much to accomodate all these grifters. Due to energy constraints, disruption of climate change, etc.

denk , May 18, 2019 11:56:20 AM | link
Brit and Dutch spooks now concur with Trump the charlatan's claim of Huawei security risk ! Trust the Brits to doublecross the Chinese, after they've been given the huawei source codes to examine and declared it free of bugs. As for the Dutch , they seems to be the goto guys these days, whenever the 5liars need some loyal poodles to corroborate their B.S., cue the M17 'investigation'.

hehehehe

[May 14, 2019] Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War. The Role of Osama bin Laden and Zbigniew Brzezinski - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Ce

May 14, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War. The Role of Osama bin Laden and Zbigniew Brzezinski Part II By Janelle Velina Global Research, May 08, 2019 Region: Asia Theme: History , Intelligence , US NATO War Agenda In-depth Report: AFGHANISTAN

Read Part I from the link below.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War

By Janelle Velina , April 30, 2019

Below is the second half and conclusion of "Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War". While the previous sections examined the economic roots of imperialism, as well as the historical context of the Cold War within which to situate the Mujahideen, the following explores the anatomy of proxy warfare and media disinformation campaigns which were at the heart of destabilizing Afghanistan. These were also a large part of why there was little to no opposition to the Mujahideen from the Western 'left', whose continued dysfunctionality cannot be talked about without discussing Zbigniew Brzezinski. We also take a look at what led to the Soviet Union's demise and how that significantly affected the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and many other parts of the world. The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for four decades now, and it will reach its 40th year on July 3, 2019. The original "moderate rebel"

One of the key players in the anti-Soviet, U.S.-led regime change project against Afghanistan was Osama bin Laden , a Saudi-born millionaire who came from a wealthy, powerful family that owns a Saudi construction company and has had close ties to the Saudi royal family. Before becoming known as America's "boogeyman", Osama bin Laden was put in charge of fundraising for the Mujahideen insurgents, creating numerous charities and foundations in the process and working in coordination with Saudi intelligence (who acted as liaisons between the fighters and the CIA). Journalist Robert Fisk even gave bin Laden a glowing review, calling him a " peace warrior " and a philanthropist in a 1993 report for the Independent . Bin Laden also provided recruitment for the Mujahideen and is believed to have also received security training from the CIA. And in 1989, the same year that Soviet troops withdrew, he founded the terrorist organization Al Qaeda with a number of fighters he had recruited to the Mujahideen. Although the PDPA had already been overthrown, and the Soviet Union was dissolved, he still maintained his relationship with the CIA and NATO, working with them from the mid-to-late 1990s to provide support for the secessionist Bosnian paramilitaries and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the destruction and dismantling of Yugoslavia.

The United States would eventually turn Bin Laden into a scapegoat after the 2001 terrorist attacks, while still maintaining ties to his family and providing arms, training, and funding to Al Qaeda and its affiliates (rebranded as "moderate rebels" by the Western media) in its more recent regime change project against Syria, which started in 2011. The Mujahideen not only gave birth to Al Qaeda, but it would set a precedent for the United States' regime-change operations in later years against the anti-imperialist governments of Libya and Syria.

Reagan entertains Mujahideen fighters in the White House.

With the end to the cycle of World Wars (for the time being, at least), it has become increasingly common for the United States to use local paramilitaries, terrorist groups, and/or the armed forces of comprador regimes to fight against nations targeted by U.S. capital interests. Why the use of proxy forces? They are, as Whitney Webb describes , "a politically safe tool for projecting the U.S.' geopolitical will abroad." Using proxy warfare as a kind of power projection tool is, first and foremost, cost-effective, since paid local mercenaries or terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda will bear the burden of combat and casualties rather than American troops in places like Libya and Syria. For example, it costs much less to pay local paramilitaries, gangs, crime syndicates, terrorist groups, and other reactionary forces to perform the same military operations as U.S. troops. Additionally, with the advent of nuclear weapons it became much more perilous for global superpowers to come into direct combat with one another -- if the Soviet Union and the United States had done so, there existed the threat of "mutually assured destruction", the strong possibility of instantaneous and catastrophic damage to the populations and the economic and living standards of both sides, something neither side was willing to risk, even if it was U.S. imperialism's ultimate goal to destroy the Soviet Union. And so, the U.S. was willing to use any other means necessary to weaken the Soviet Union and safeguard its profits, which included eliminating the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan even if it had neither the intent nor the means of launching a military offensive on American soil. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union had the means of producing a considerably large supply of modern weapons, including nuclear deterrents, to counter the credible threat posed by the United States. To strike the Soviet Union with nuclear missiles would have been a great challenge for the United States, since it would have resulted in overwhelming retaliation by the Soviet Union. To maneuver this problem, to assure the destruction of the Soviet Union while protecting the U.S. from similar destruction, the CIA relied on more unconventional methods not previously thought of as being part of traditional warfare, such as funding proxy forces while wielding economic and cultural influence over the American domestic sphere and the international scene. Furthermore, proxy warfare enables control of public opinion, thus allowing the U.S. government to escape public scrutiny and questions about legal authorization for war. With opposition from the general public essentially under control, consent for U.S.-led wars does not need to be obtained, especially when the U.S. military is running them from " behind the scenes " and its involvement looks less obvious. Indeed, the protests against the war on Vietnam in the United States and other Western countries saw mass turnouts.

And while the U.S.-led aggression in Vietnam did involve proxy warfare to a lesser degree, it was still mostly fought with American "boots-on-the-ground", much like the 2001 renewed U.S.-led aggression against Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In contrast, the U.S. assault on Afghanistan that began in 1979 saw little to no protest. The Mujahideen even garnered support from large portions of the Western left who joined the chorus of voices in the Western mainstream media in demonizing the PDPA -- a relentless imperialist propaganda campaign that would be repeated in later years during the U.S. wars on Libya and Syria, with the difference being that social media had not yet gained prominence at the time of the initial assault on Afghanistan. This leads to the next question: why recruit some of the most reactionary social forces abroad, many of whom represent complete backwardness?

In Afghanistan, such forces proved useful in the mission to topple the modernizing government of the PDPA, especially when their anti-modernity aspirations intersected with U.S. foreign policy; these ultra-conservative forces continue to be deployed by the United States today. In fact, the long war on Afghanistan shares many striking similarities with the long war on Syria, with the common theme of U.S. imperialism collaborating with violent Sunni extremists to topple the secular, nationalist and anti-imperialist governments of these two former 'Soviet bloc' countries. And much like the PDPA, the current and long-time government of the Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party in Syria has made many strides towards achieving national liberation and economic development, which have included: taking land from aristocratic families (a majority of whom were Sunni Muslims while Shia Muslims, but especially Alawites, traditionally belonged to the lower classes and were treated as second class citizens in pre-Ba'athist Syria) and redistributing and nationalizing it, making use of Syria's oil and gas reserves to modernize the country and benefit its population, and upholding women's rights as an important part of the Ba'athist pillars.

Some of these aristocratic landlords, just like their Afghan counterparts, would react violently and join the Muslim Brotherhood who, with CIA-backing, carried out acts of terrorism and other atrocities in Hama as they made a failed attempt to topple the government of Hafez al Assad in 1982.

The connection between the two is further solidified by the fact that it was the Mujahideen from which Al Qaeda emerged; both are inspired by Wahhabist ideology, and one of their chief financiers is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (as well as Israel, a regional imperial power and a key ally of the United States). In either case, these Wahhabi-inspired forces were vehemently opposed to modernization and development, and would much rather keep large sections of the population impoverished, as they sought to replace the PDPA and the Ba'athists with Sunni fundamentalist, anti-Shia, theological autocracies -- Saudi-style regimes, in other words.

These reactionary forces are useful tools in the CIA's anti-communist projects and destabilization campaigns against independent nationalist governments, considering that the groups' anti-modernity stance is a motivating factor in their efforts to sabotage economic development, which is conducive to ensuring a favourable climate for U.S. capital interests. It also helps that these groups already saw the nationalist governments of the PDPA and the Syrian Ba'ath party as their 'archenemy', and would thus fight them to the death and resort to acts of terrorism against the respective civilian populations.

Zbigniew Brzezinski stated in a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in response to the following question:

Q: 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?

Once again, he makes it clear that the religious extremism of the Mujahideen fighters was not an issue for Washington because the real political value lay in eliminating the PDPA and putting an end to Soviet influence in the Greater Middle East, which would give the U.S. the opportunity to easily access and steal the country's wealth. And in order to justify the U.S. imperialist intervention in Afghanistan, as well as to obscure the true nature of the Mujahideen fighters, the intervention needed to be accompanied by a rigorous mass media campaign. The Reagan administration -- knowing full well that American mainstream media has international influence -- continued the war that the Carter administration started and saw it as an opportunity to "step up" its domestic propaganda war, considering that the American general public was still largely critical of the Vietnam War at the time.

As part of the aggressive imperialist propaganda campaign, anyone who dared to publicly criticize the Mujahideen was subjected to character assassination and was pejoratively labelled a "Stalinist" or a "Soviet apologist", which are akin to labels such as "Russian agent" or "Assadist" being used as insults today against those who speak out against the U.S.-backed terrorism in Syria. There were also careful rebranding strategies made specifically for Osama bin Laden and the Mujahideen mercenaries, who were hailed as "revolutionary freedom fighters" and given a romantic, exoticized "holy warrior" makeover in Western media; hence the title of this section. The Mujahideen mercenaries were even given a dedication title card at the end of the Hollywood movie Rambo III which read, "This film is dedicated to the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan"; the film itself added to the constructed romantic image as it portrayed the Mujahideen fighters as heroes, while the Soviet Union and the PDPA were portrayed as the cartoonish villains. The Rambo film franchise is well known for its depiction of the Vietnamese as "savages" and as the aggressors in the U.S. war on Vietnam, which is a blatant reversal of the truth .

The Hollywood blockbuster franchise would be used to make the Mujahideen more palatable to Western audiences, as this unabashed, blatantly anti-Soviet propaganda for U.S. imperialism attracted millions of viewers with one of the largest movie marketing campaigns of the time. Although formulaic, the films are easily consumable because they appeal to emotion and, as Michael Parenti states in Dirty Truths , "The entertainment industry does not merely give the people what they want: it is busy shaping those wants," (p. 111). Rambo III may not have been critically acclaimed , but it was still the second most commercially successful film in the Rambo series, grossing a total of $189,015,611 at the box office . Producing war propaganda films is nothing new and has been a long staple of the Hollywood industry, which serves capitalist and imperialist interests. But, since the blockbuster movie is one of the most widely available and distributed forms of media, repackaging the Mujahideen into a popular film franchise was easily one of the best ways (albeit cynical) to justify the war, maintaining the American constructed narrative and reinforcing the demonization campaign against Soviet Russia and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Now, outside of the cinema, CBS News went as far as to air fake battle footage meant to help perpetuate the myth that the Mujahideen mercenaries were "freedom fighters"; American journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, although decidedly biased against the Soviet Union and its allies, documented this ruse in which the news channel participated. In terms of proxy warfare, these were just some of the ways used to distract from the fact that it was a U.S.-led war.

The dedication title card as it originally appeared at the end of the film Rambo III.

In Afghanistan, proxy forces provided a convenient cover because they drew attention away from the fact that U.S. imperialism was the root cause of the conflict. The insurgents also helped to demonize the targets of U.S. foreign policy, the PDPA and the Soviet Union, all the while doing the majority of the physical combat in place of the American military. In general, drawing attention away from the fact that it has been the United States "pulling the strings" all along, using proxy forces helps Washington to maintain plausible deniability in regard to its relationship with such groups. If any one of these insurgents becomes a liability, as what had happened with the Taliban, they can just as easily be disposed of and replaced by more competent patsies, while U.S. foreign policy goes unquestioned. Criminal gangs and paramilitary forces are thus ideal and convenient tools for U.S. foreign policy. With the rule of warlords and the instability (namely damage to infrastructure, de-industrialization, and societal collapse) that followed after the toppling of the PDPA, Afghanistan's standard of living dropped rapidly, leading to forced mass migrations and making the country all the more vulnerable to a more direct U.S. military intervention -- which eventually did happen in 2001.

Zbigniew Brzezinski: godfather of colour revolutions and proxy wars, architect of the Mujahideen

The late Brzezinski was a key figure in U.S. foreign policy and a highly influential figure in the Council on Foreign Relations. Although the Polish-American diplomat and political scientist was no longer the National Security Advisor under Ronald Reagan's presidency, he still continued to play a prominent role in enforcing U.S. foreign policy goals in upholding Washington's global monopoly. The liberal Cold War ideologue's signature strategy consisted of using the CIA to destabilize and force regime-change onto countries whose governments actively resisted against Washington. Such is the legacy of Brzezinski, whose strategy of funding the most reactionary anti-government forces to foment chaos and instability while promoting them as "freedom fighters" is now a longstanding staple of U.S. imperialism.

How were the aggressive propaganda campaigns which promoted the Mujahideen mercenaries as "freedom fighters" able to garner support for the aggression against the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan from so many on the Western left who had previously opposed the war on Vietnam? It was the through the CIA's use of 'soft-power' schemes, because leftist opinion also needed to be controlled and manipulated in the process of carrying out U.S. foreign and public policy. Brzezinski mastered the art of targeting intelligentsia and impressionable young people in order to make them supportive of U.S. foreign policy, misleading a significant number of people into supporting U.S.-led wars.

The CIA invested money into programs that used university campus, anti-Soviet "radical leftist activists" and academics (as well as artists and writers) to help spread imperialist propaganda dressed up in vaguely "leftist"-sounding language and given a more "hip", "humanitarian", "social justice", "free thinker" appeal. Western, but especially American, academia has since continued to teach the post-modernist "oppression theory" or "privilege theory" to students, which is anti-Marxist and anti-scientific at its core. More importantly, this post-modernist infiltration was meant to distract from class struggle, to help divert any form of solidarity away from anti-imperialist struggles, and to foster virulent animosity towards the Soviet Union among students and anyone with 'leftist' leanings. Hence the phenomenon of identity politics that continues to plague the Western left today, whose strength was effectively neutered by the 1970s. Not only that, but as Gowans mentions in his book, Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea's Struggle for Freedom :

"U.S. universities recruit talented individuals from abroad, instill in them the U.S. imperialist ideology and values, and equip them with academic credentials which conduce to their landing important political positions at home. In this way, U.S. imperial goals indirectly structure the political decision-making of other countries." (pp. 52-53)

And so we have agencies and think-tanks such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which has scholarly appeal and actively interferes in elections abroad -- namely, in countries that are targets of U.S. foreign policy. Founded in 1983 by Reagan and directed by the CIA, the agency also assists in mobilizing coups and paid "dissidents" in U.S.-led regime change projects, such as the 2002 failed attempt against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, as well as helping to create aggressive media campaigns that demonize targeted nations. Another instance of this "soft power" tactic of mobilizing U.S.-backed "dissidents" in targeted nations are the number of Sunni Islamic fundamentalist madrassas (schools) sponsored by the CIA and set up by Wahhabi missionaries from Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan -- which started to appear in increasing numbers during the 1980s, reaching over 39,000 during the decade. Afghanistan's public education institutions were largely secular prior to the fall of Kabul in 1992; these madrassas were the direct, ideological and intellectual antitheses to the existing institutions of education. The madrassas acted as centres for cult-like brainwashing and were essentially CIA covert psychological operations (psy-ops) intended to inspire divisiveness and demobilize younger generations of Afghans in the face of imperial onslaught so that they would not unite with the wider PDPA-led nationalist resistance to imperialism.

The NED's founding members were comprised of Cold War ideologues which included Brzezinski himself, as well as Trotskyists who provided an endless supply of slurs against the Soviet Union. It was chiefly under this agency, and with direction provided by Brzezinski, that America produced artists, "activists", academics, and writers who presented themselves as "radical leftists" and slandered the Soviet Union and countries that were aligned with it -- which was all part of the process of toppling them and subjugating them to U.S. free market fundamentalism. With Brzezinski having mastered the art of encouraging postmodernism and identity politics among the Western left in order to weaken it, the United States not only had military and economic might on its side but also highly sophisticated ideological instruments to help give it the upper hand in propaganda wars.

These "soft power" schemes are highly effective in masking the brutality of U.S. imperialism, as well as concealing the exploitation of impoverished nations. Marketing the Mujahideen mercenaries as "peace warriors" while demonizing the PDPA and referring to the Soviet assistance as an "invasion" or "aggression" marked the beginning of the regular use of "humanitarian" pretexts for imperialist interventions. The Cold War era onslaught against Afghanistan can thus be seen as the template for the NATO-led regime change projects against Yugoslavia, Libya, and Syria, which not only involved the use of U.S.-backed proxy forces but also "humanitarian" pretexts being presented in the aggressive propaganda campaigns against the targeted countries. It was not until 2002, however, that then-American UN representative Samantha Powers, as well as several U.S.-allied representatives, would push the United Nations to officially adopt the "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) doctrine into the Charter -- which was in direct contradiction to the law that recognizes the violation of a nation's sovereignty as a crime. The R2P doctrine was born out of the illegal 78-day NATO air-bombing of Yugoslavia from March 24 to June 10, 1999. And although plans to dismantle Yugoslavia go as far back as 1984, it was not until much of the 1990s that NATO would begin openly intervening -- with more naked aggression -- starting with the funding and support for secessionist paramilitary forces in Bosnia between 1994-1995. It then sealed the 1999 destruction of Yugoslavia with with the balkanization of the Serbian province of Kosovo . In addition to the use of terrorist and paramilitary groups as proxy forces which received CIA-training and funding, another key feature of this "humanitarian" intervention was the ongoing demonization campaigns against the Serbs, who were at the centre of a vicious Western media propaganda war. Some of the most egregious parts of these demonization campaigns -- which were tantamount to slander and libel -- were the claims that the Serbs were " committing genocide " against ethnic Albanians. The NATO bombing campaign was illegal since it was given no UN Security Council approval or support.

Once again, Brzezinski was not the National Security Advisor during the U.S.-led campaign against Yugoslavia. However, he still continued to wield influence as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a private organization and Wall Street think tank. The Council on Foreign Relations is intertwined with highly influential NGOs who are essentially propaganda mouthpieces for U.S. foreign policy, such as Human Rights Watch, which has fabricated stories of atrocities allegedly committed by countries targeted by U.S. imperialism. Clearly, unmitigated U.S. imperial aggression did not end with the destruction of the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, nor with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The post-Cold War years were a continuation of U.S. imperialism's scramble for more spheres of influence and global domination; it was also a scramble for what was left of the former 'Soviet bloc' and Warsaw Pact. The dismantling of Yugoslavia was, figuratively speaking, the 'final nail in the coffin' of whatever 'Soviet influence' was left in Eastern Europe.

The demise of the Soviet Union and the "Afghan trap" question

Image on the right: Left to right: former Afghan President Babrak Karmal, and former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Karmal took office at around the same time (December 1979) the PDPA requested that Moscow intervene to assist the besieged Afghanistan.

The sabotage and subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union meant that only one global hegemon remained, and that was the United States. Up until 1989, the Soviet Union had been the barrier that was keeping the United States from launching a more robust military intervention in Afghanistan, as well as in Central and West Asia. While pulling out did not immediately cause the defeat of Kabul as the PDPA government forces continued to struggle for another three years, Mikhail Gorbachev's decision to withdraw Soviet troops arguably had a detrimental impact on Afghanistan for many years to come. Although there was no Soviet military assistance in the last three years of Najibullah's presidency, Afghanistan continued to receive aid from the USSR, and some Soviet military advisers (however limited in their capacity) still remained; despite the extreme difficulties, and combined with the nation's still-relatively high morale, this did at least help to keep the government from being overthrown immediately. This defied U.S. expectations as the CIA and the George H.W. Bush administration had believed that the government of Najibullah would fall as soon as Soviet troops were withdrawn. But what really hurt the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan's army was when the Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991; almost as soon as the dissolution happened and Boris Yeltsin (with U.S. backing) took over as Russia's president, the aid stopped coming and the government forces became unable to hold out for much longer. The U.S. aggression was left unchecked, and to this day Afghanistan has not seen geopolitical stability and has since been a largely impoverished 'failed state', serving as a training ground for terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. It continues to be an anarchic battleground between rival warlords which include the ousted Taliban and the U.S. puppet government that replaced them.

But, as was already mentioned above, the "Afghan trap" did not, in and of itself, cause the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In that same interview with Le Nouvel Observateur , Brzezinski had this to say in response to the question about setting the "trap":

Q: 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.

Likewise with Cuba and Syria, the USSR had a well-established alliance with the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, one of mutual aid and partnership. Answering Kabul's explicit request for assistance was a deliberate and conscious choice made by Moscow, and it just so happened that the majority of Afghans welcomed it. For any errors that Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary at the time, may have made (which do deserve a fair amount of criticism, but are not the focus of this article), the 1979 decision to intervene on behalf of Afghanistan against U.S. imperialism was not one of them. It is true that both the Soviet and the U.S. interventions were military interventions, but the key difference is that the U.S. was backing reactionary forces for the purposes of establishing colonial domination and was in clear violation of Afghan sovereignty. Consider, too, that Afghanistan had only deposed of its king in 1973, just six years before the conflict began. The country may have moved quickly to industrialize and modernize, but it wasn't much time to fully develop its military defenses by 1979.

Image below: Mikhail Gorbachev accepts the Nobel Peace Prize from George H.W. Bush on October 15, 1990. Many Russians saw this gesture as a betrayal, while the West celebrated it, because he was being awarded for his capitulation to U.S. imperialism in foreign and economic policy.

United States War Crimes. A Historical Review

Other than that, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Soviet Union imploded due to an accumulating number of factors: namely, the gradual steps that U.S. foreign policy had taken over the years to cripple the Soviet economy, especially after the deaths of Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov. How Gorbachev responded during the U.S.-led onslaught against Afghanistan certainly helped to exacerbate the conditions that led to the dissolution. After the deaths of Brezhnev and Andropov, the Soviet Union's economy became disorganized and was being liberalized during much of the 1980s. Not only that, but the Reagan administration escalated the arms race, which intensified after they had scrapped the 'detente' that was previously made in the mid-1970s. Even prior to Reagan's hardline, bombastic rhetoric and escalation against the USSR, the Soviet Union was already beginning to show signs of strain from the arms race during the late-1970s. However, in spite of the economic strains, during the height of the war the organized joint operations between the Soviet army and the Afghan army saw a significant amount of success in pushing back against the Mujahideen with many of the jihadist leaders either being killed or fleeing to Pakistan. Therefore, it is erroneous to say that intervening in Afghanistan on behalf of the Afghan people "did the Soviet Union in."

In a misguided and ultimately failed attempt to spur economic growth rates, Gorbachev moved to end the Cold War by withdrawing military support from allies and pledging cooperation with the United States who promised "peace". When he embraced Neoliberalism and allowed for the USSR to be opened to the U.S.-dominated world capitalist economy, the Soviet economy imploded and the effects were felt by its allies. It was a capitulation to U.S. imperialism, in other words; and it led to disastrous results not only in Afghanistan, but in several other countries as well. These include: the destruction of Yugoslavia, both wars on Iraq, and the 2011 NATO invasion of Libya. Also, Warsaw Pact members in Eastern Europe were no longer able to effectively fight back against U.S.-backed colour revolutions; some of them would eventually be absorbed as NATO members, such as Czechoslovakia which was dissolved and divided into two states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Without Soviet Russia to keep it in check, the United States was able to launch an unrestrained series of aggressions for nearly two decades. Because of his decision to withdraw from the arms race altogether, in a vain attempt to transform the Soviet Union into a social democracy akin to those of the Nordic countries, Gorbachev had deprived the Russian army of combat effectiveness by making significant cuts to its defense budget, which is partly why they were forced to evacuate. Not only that, but these diplomatic and military concessions with the United States gave them no benefit in return, hence the economic crisis in Russia during the Yeltsin years. Suffice to say, the Gorbachev-Yeltsin years are not remembered fondly in Russia and many regard Gorbachev as a traitor and Western agent who helped to bring the Soviet Union to its collapse. In more recent years, efforts are being made to assess the actions taken by Gorbachev with regards to Afghanistan; this includes going against and revising the resolution put forth by him which suggested that the USSR intervention was "shameful".

In short, Afghanistan did not cause the Soviet Union's demise even if it required large military spending. More accurately: it was Gorbachev's impulsive decision to quickly discard the planned economy in favour of a market economy in order to appease the United States, who made the false promise that NATO would not expand eastward. If there was a real "trap", it was this and Gorbachev played right into the hands of U.S. imperialism; and so, the Soviet Union received its devastating blow from the United States in the end -- not from a small, minor nation such as Afghanistan which continues to suffer the most from the effects of these past events. For many years, but especially since the end of WWII, the United States made ceaseless efforts to undermine the USSR, adding stress upon stress onto its economy, in addition to the psychological warfare waged through the anti-Soviet propaganda and military threats against it and its allies. Despite any advances made in the past, the Soviet Union's economy was still not as large as that of the United States. And so, in order to keep pace with NATO, the Soviet Union did not have much of a choice but to spend a large percentage of its GDP on its military and on helping to defend its allies, which included national liberation movements in the Third World, because of the very real and significant threat that U.S. imperialism posed. If it had not spent any money militarily, its demise would most likely have happened much sooner. But eventually, these mounting efforts by U.S. imperialism created a circumstance where its leadership under Gorbachev made a lapse in judgment, reacting impulsively and carelessly rather than acting with resilience in spite of the onslaught.

It should also be taken into account that WWII had a profound impact on Soviet leadership -- from Joseph Stalin to Gorbachev -- because even though the Red Army was victorious in defeating the Nazis, the widespread destruction had still placed the Soviet economy under an incredible amount of stress and it needed time to recover. Meanwhile, the convenient geographical location of the United States kept it from suffering the same casualties and infrastructural damage seen across Europe and Asia as a result of the Second World War, which enabled its economy to recover much faster and gave it enough time to eventually develop the U.S. Dollar as the international currency and assert dominance over the world economy. Plus, the U.S. had accumulated two-thirds of the world's gold reserves by 1944 to help back the Dollar; and even if it lost a large amount of the gold, it would still be able to maintain Dollar supremacy by developing the fiat system to back the currency. Because of the destruction seen during WWII, it is understandable that the Soviet Union wanted to avoid another world war, which is why it also made several attempts at achieving some kind of diplomacy with the United States (before Gorbachev outright capitulated). At the same time, it also understood that maintaining its military defenses was important because of the threat of a nuclear war from the United States, which would be much more catastrophic than the Nazis' military assaults against the Soviet Union since Hitler did not have a nuclear arsenal. This was part of a feat that U.S. imperialism was able to accomplish that ultimately overshadowed British, French, German, and Japanese imperialism, which Brzezinski reveals in his book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives : an unparalleled military establishment that, by far, had the most effective global reach which allowed the U.S. to "project forces over long distances", helping it to assert its global domination and impose its "political will". And what makes the American Empire distinct from the Japanese Empire, British Empire, and other European empires is that one of the bases for its ideology is the socially constructed international hierarchy of nations, and not races as was the case with the other aforementioned empires. This constructed international hierarchy of nations is more effective because it means not only greater expansionism, but also the greater ability to exercise global primacy and supremacy. More specific to Central Asia and the Middle East, the Wahhabist and Salafist groups propped up by the CIA were always intended to nurture sectarianism and discord in order to counter a mass, broad-based united front of nations against imperialism -- an example of divide-and-conquer, which is an age-old tradition of empire, except this time with Neoliberal characteristics.

Therefore, the Mujahideen against Afghanistan should not be thought of simply as "the Afghan trap", but rather as the U.S. subjugation and plundering of West and Central Asia and an important milestone (albeit a cynical one) in shaping its foreign policy with regards to the region for many years to come. If one thing has remained a constant in U.S. foreign policy towards West and Central Asia, it is its strategic partnership with the oil autocracy of Saudi Arabia, which acts as the United States' steward in safeguarding the profits of American petroleum corporations and actively assists Western powers in crushing secular Arab and Central Asian nationalist resistance against imperialism. The Saudi monarchy would again be called on by the U.S. government in 2011 in Syria to assist in the repeated formula of funding and arming so-called "moderate rebels" in the efforts to destabilize the country. Once again, the ultimate goal in this more recent imperial venture is to contain Russia.

Cold War 2.0? American Supremacy marches on

The present-day anti-Russia hysteria is reminiscent of the anti-Soviet propaganda of the Cold War era; while anti-communism is not the central theme today, one thing remains the same: the fact that the U.S. Empire is (once again) facing a formidable challenge to its position in the world. After the Yeltsin years were over, and under Vladimir Putin, Russia's economy eventually recovered and moved towards a more dirigiste economy; and on top of that, it moved away from the NATO fold, which triggered the old antagonistic relationship with the United States. Russia has also decided to follow the global trend of taking the step towards reducing reliance on the U.S. dollar , which is no doubt a source of annoyance to the U.S. capitalist class. It seems that a third world war in the near future is becoming more likely as the U.S. inches closer to a direct military confrontation against Russia and, more recently, China. History does appear to be repeating itself. When the government of Bashar al Assad called on Moscow for assistance in fighting against the NATO-backed terrorists, it certainly was reminiscent of when the PDPA had done the same many years before. Thus far, the Syrian Arab Republic has continued to withstand the destabilization efforts carried out by the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups and Kurdish militias at the behest of the United States, and has not collapsed as Libya, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan did.

But what often gets overlooked is the repeated Brzezinskist formula of funding highly reactionary forces and promoting them as "revolutionaries" to Western audiences in order to fight governments that defy the global dictatorship of the United States and refuse to allow the West to exploit their natural resources and labour power. As Karl Marx once said , "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past." Such a phenomenon is no accident or a mere mistake. The geopolitical instability that followed after the overthrow of the PDPA ensures that no sound, united, and formidable opposition against U.S. imperialism will emerge for an indefinite number of years; and it seems that Libya, where the Brzezinskist-style of regime change also saw success and which is now a hotbed for the slave trade, is on the same path as Afghanistan. This is all a part of what Lenin calls moribund capitalism when he discussed the economic essence of imperialism; and by that, he meant that imperialism carries the contradictions of capitalism to the extreme limit . American global monopoly had grown out of U.S. foreign policy, and it should go without saying that the American Empire cannot tolerate losing its Dollar Supremacy, especially when the global rate of profit is falling. And if too many nations reject U.S. efforts to infiltrate their markets and force foreign finance capital exports onto their economies in order to gain a monopoly over the resources, as well as to exploit the labour of their working people, it would surely spell a sharp decline in American Dollar hegemony. The fact that the United States was willing to go as far as to back mercenaries to attack the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and fight the Soviet Union, as well as to spend billions of dollars on a highly elaborate but effective propaganda campaign, shows a sign of desperation of the American Empire in maintaining its global hegemony.

Since the end of World War II the United States has been, and is by and large still, the overwhelming world-dominating power. It is true that the American Empire is in decline, in light of increasing trends towards "de-Dollarization," as well as the rise of China and Russia which pose as challenges to U.S. interests. Naturally, Washington will desperately try to cling on to its number one position in the world by accelerating the growth of its global monopolies -- whether it is through placing wholly unnecessary tariffs against competitors such as China, or threatening to completely cut Venezuelan and Iranian oil out of the global market -- even if it means an increasing drive towards World War III. The current global economic order which Washington elites have been instrumental in shaping over the past several decades reflects the interests of the global capitalist class to such an extent that the working class is threatened with yet another world war despite the unimaginable carnage witnessed during the first two.

When we look back at these historical events to help make sense of the present, we see how powerful mass media can be and how it is used as a tool of U.S. foreign policy to manipulate and control public opinion. Foreign policy is about the economic relationships between countries. Key to understanding how U.S. imperialism functions is in its foreign policy and how it carries it out -- which adds up to plundering from relatively small or poorer nations more than a share of wealth and resources that can be normally produced in common commercial exchanges, forcing them to be indebted; and if any of them resist, then they will almost certainly be subjected to military threats.

With the great wealth that allowed it to build a military that can "project forces over long distances," the United States is in a unique position in history, to say the least. However, as we have seen above, the now four decade-long war on Afghanistan was not only fought on a military front considering the psy-ops and the propaganda involved. If anything, the Soviet Union lost on the propaganda front in the end.

From Afghanistan we learn not only of the origins of Al Qaeda, to which the boom in the opioid-addiction epidemic has ties, or why today we have the phenomenon of an anti-Russia Western "left" that parrots imperialist propaganda and seems very eager to see that piece of Cold War history repeat itself in Syria. We also learn that we cannot de-link the events of the 2001 direct U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and what followed from those of 1979; Afghanistan's colonial-feudal past, its break from that with the 1978 Saur Revolution, and the U.S.-led Mujahideen are all as much of a part of its history (and the Greater Middle East, by extension) as the events of 2001. It cannot be stressed enough that it is those historical conditions, particularly as they relate to U.S. foreign policy, that helped to shape the ongoing conflict today.

Obviously, we cannot undo the past. It is not in the interests of the working class anywhere, in the Global South or in the Global North, to see a third world war happen, as such a war would have catastrophic consequences for everyone -- in fact, it could potentially destroy all of humanity. Building a new and revitalized anti-war movement in the imperialist nations is a given, but it also requires a more sophisticated understanding of U.S. foreign policy. Without historical context, Western mass media will continue to go unchallenged, weaning audiences on a steady diet of "moderate rebels" propaganda and effectively silencing the victims of imperialism. It is necessary to unite workers across the whole world according to their shared interests in order to effectively fight and defeat imperialism and to establish a just, egalitarian, and sustainable world under socialism. Teaching the working class everywhere the real history of such conflicts as the one in Afghanistan is an important part of developing the revolutionary consciousness necessary to build a strong global revolutionary movement against imperialism.

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Originally published by LLCO.org on March 30, 2019. For the full-length article and bibliography, click here .

Janelle Velina is a Toronto-based political analyst, writer, and an editor and frequent contributor for New-Power.org and LLCO.org . She also has a blog at geopoliticaloutlook.blogspot.com .

All images in this article are from the author; featured image: Brzezinski visits Osama bin Laden and other Mujahideen fighters during training. The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © Janelle Velina , Global Research, 2019

[Apr 28, 2019] As a Russian, I feel disgust at our leaders who squandered all of Russia's historic influence on the Ukraine and gave up

That completely wrong. You can't prevent the "march of history" even if you understand that it is directed against you. The collapse of the USSR put in motion forces for the revolution of the results of WWII. And EuroMaydan like previously Baltic states "Maidans" were the direct result of this dissolution and changed balance of power in Europe with EU now being the dominant force and the USA dominant geopolitical force.
Still it is true that Ukraine EuroMaydan was the major Putin's defeat and the major victory of the US neocons in general and Obama as the President in particular. It might well be that this was inevitable as the trajectory of post-soviet republic is reliable move toward anti-Russian stance as a side effect of obtaining the independence, but still this was a defeat. It was actually Yanukovich who encouraged and helped to organized and finance far right forces and the Party in Ukraine. such a pro-Russian President as fame news media in the USA and GB like to describe him
Poroshenko was the USA SOB. The USA allowed Zelensky to run for office, and allowed him to win. Zelensky is most probably another USA SOB, although only time will tell. Comedians are usually are people with very high IQ who see the absurdity of the current life in Ukraine and Poroshenko regime more clearly then others. The question is whether he will be allowed to do something about it by the USA and EU, who control Ukraine both politically and financially. Biden story of dismissal of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine (who tried to procedure the firm Biden son got money from ) with ease tells us something about the nature of the current governance of Ukraine: is is not even a vassal state -- it is a colony.
Nuland success in pushing Ukrainian nationalists to arm uprising against Yanukovich (pissing EU which signed a treaty with Yanukovich about holding elections, which he would certanly lose, a day before) also can be explained that at this point the USA controlled vital centers of Ukrainian political power including intelligence agencies, several oligarchs (Poroshenko is one; Timoshenko is another) and, especially, media. In Ukraine Western NGO have the status of diplomatic missions (with corresponding immunity), so in no way such a country can be independent in any meaningful sense of this word.
But craziness, aggressiveness and recklessness of the US neocons, who now practice old imperial "might makes right" mode of operation, gives the world some hope. They most probably will burn the USA geological power it acquired after the dissolution of the USSR sooner then many expect. Like look at Bolton and Pompeo recent actions.
Notable quotes:
"... "For better or for worse, Putin has put an end to oligarch rule in Russia. Members of Putin's inner circle may be immensely rich, but they know to whom they owe their wealth. By imprisoning Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Putin sent a clear message to the all-powerful oligarchs that controlled Russia during former president Boris Yeltsin's time: stay out of politics." ..."
Apr 28, 2019 | www.unz.com

Felix Keverich , says: April 25, 2019 at 7:27 am GMT

The main feeling about the entire topic of the Ukraine is one of total disgust, a gradual and painful realization of the fact that our so-called "brothers" are brothers only in the sense of the biblical Cain and the acceptance that there is nobody to talk to in Kiev.

Russia likes to fashion itself as a "great power". A real great power should have been able to insert itself in Ukrainian politics, regardless of any brotherly feelings – you know, like US did.

As a Russian, I feel disgust at our leaders who squandered all of Russia's historic influence on the Ukraine and gave up – poor neo-Soviet dinosaurs got completely outmaneuvered.

aleksandar , says: April 28, 2019 at 7:49 am GMT
@Kiza Read
Try to understand
Read it again
Try to understand
Read it again
Try to understand
"For better or for worse, Putin has put an end to oligarch rule in Russia. Members of Putin's inner circle may be immensely rich, but they know to whom they owe their wealth. By imprisoning Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Putin sent a clear message to the all-powerful oligarchs that controlled Russia during former president Boris Yeltsin's time: stay out of politics."

Vladimir Golstein, professor of Slavic studies at Brown University. He was born in Moscow and emigrated to the United States in 1979.

[Apr 28, 2019] Will Poroshenko be jailed for corruption, or the USA will be able to prevent this

There are several crimes for which Poroshenko can be investigated and the USA can do nothing about: one is Odessa massacre which supposedly was financed by Poroshenko. And Kolomysky was also involved so it remain to be seen if this issues will be raised. Also the power of far right forces in Ukraine is such that just raising this question might be equal to treason in the eyes of Ukrainian nationalists. Because such powerful figures as Avakov and Parubiy were also involved.
Notable quotes:
"... Ukrainians don’t give a shit about the Poro regime, and are perfectly willing to see it incarcerated. Nor do NatsBatalions really crave to be seen as puppets of DC, Kolo, or Israel, or Brussels. Your take is really simplistic here. ..."
Apr 28, 2019 | www.unz.com

AmRusDebate , says: April 25, 2019 at 12:04 pm GMT

Kolomoisky. Kolomoisky! Kolomoisky!

you are in fantasy land....

... ... ...

The West is concerned with protecting Poro. Based on WSJ editorials, obsequious legations to manlet Macron. None of that means jack shit.

DC will have to exercise real power to prevent a cleaning of the house. Word are words. Rumors are rumors. Z. will act within his mandate and limits placed by rabid opposition. He will act in keeping with rational need to not fight a US-backed congress, to get shot in the streets for things too radical. Majority of Ukrainians will be happy to see Poro in prison. DC can keep this from happening not with words, but with bullets. Strana can claim what it wants, its claims are patent garbage.

Ukrainians don’t give a shit about the Poro regime, and are perfectly willing to see it incarcerated. Nor do NatsBatalions really crave to be seen as puppets of DC, Kolo, or Israel, or Brussels. Your take is really simplistic here.

... ... ...

Z. does have a party. The elections for the Ukranian Parliament is in September. His party, as a matter of fact, is leading in opinion polls.
https://ria.ru/20190416/1552741067.html And it is doing so together with the party of Boiko.

Logically then, given enough time/space Z. should be in a position to pursue necessary policies end of the year.


peter mcloughlin , says: April 25, 2019 at 1:34 pm GMT

‘The truth is nobody knows what will happen next…There are just too many parameters to consider, and the real balance of power following this election has not manifested itself yet’, as The Saker forebodingly warns. The pattern of history suggests the continent is heading for another world war. https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/
The course of events in Europe and globally predict things will only get worse. Like The Saker, ‘I also very much hope that I am wrong.’
Matthiew , says: April 25, 2019 at 1:42 pm GMT
A good article by Adam Garrie

“Russia and Ukraine can finally agree on something. Friendly relations with Israel”

https://eurasiafuture.com/2019/04/21/russia-and-ukraine-can-finally-agree-on-something-friendly-relations-with-israel/

Digital Samizdat , says: April 28, 2019 at 6:31 pm GMT
Am I the only one here who sees a fundamental inconsistency between the following two statements?

Thus, Poroshenko with his immense wealth and his connections can still be a useful tool for the Empire’s control of the Ukraine.

And:

I tend to believe that Poroshenko has outlived his usefulness for the AngloZionists because he became an overnight political corpse.

So which is it, Saker? Is Porky still useful to the AZs or not?

This reminds me of the old joke about economists who can never venture a prediction without saying “one the hand … but on the other hand …”

[Apr 28, 2019] Ukraine vs the USA

Apr 28, 2019 | www.unz.com

MarkinPNW , says: April 24, 2019 at 7:14 pm GMT

A clown beat a high profile member of the established political class, due most likely to the voters being disgusted by said political class? Uhmm, where have we seen this before?

[Apr 24, 2019] The Colossal Failure in Afghanistan

Apr 18, 2019 | viableopposition.blogspot.com

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction or SIGAR just released the third edition of its High-Risk List to the 116th Congress of the United States and the Secretaries of both State and Defense. In this report, SIGAR identifies the most serious threats to the American government's $132 billion reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. This information is of particular interest and importance given that negotiations are currently underway to end the United States' involvement in Afghanistan, involvement that began on October 7, 2001, making this the longest military engagement in American history.
The report opens with this rather sobering summary of the past, present and future in Afghanistan:
" The $132 billion appropriated since 2002 for Afghanistan's reconstruction has been used to train and equip Afghan security forces, strengthen government institutions, promote the rule of law, protect women's rights, improve health and education, and stimulate economic development, among other objectives.
Yet the gains from our nation's investment in Afghanistan's reconstruction face multiple threats: continued insecurity, endemic corruption, weak Afghan institutions, the insidious impact of the narcotics trade, and inadequate coordination and oversight by donors.
While an equitable and sustainable peace agreement in Afghanistan could end much of the violence that presents the greatest threat to the reconstruction effort, a peace agreement may bring its own set of challenges to sustaining the gains that the United States, its Coalition partners, and the Afghan government have achieved over that time ." (my bold)
Here is a listing of the eight current high risk areas:
1.) Widespread Insecurity - whether a peace plan is put into place or not, Afghanistan is likely to continue to experience multiple violent extremist organizations. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces require annual funding of between $4 billion and $5 billion to remain viable.
2.) Underdeveloped Civil Policing Capability - The United States has spent more effort reconstructing the Afghan National Army than on the Afghan National Police meaning that there is no strategy for a competent civil police force backed by rule of law. Sustaining a national police force will require significant foreign funding.
3.) Endemic Corruption - Corruption is endemic and forms a significant threat to the Afghan government. This means that reconstruction programs will continue to be subverted and are likely to fail. Here is a graphic from Transparency International showing where Afghanistan lies on the global spectrum when it comes to corruption:

Afghanistan has the world's 9th lowest corruption score as shown on this list:

4.) Sluggish Economic Growth - Afghanistan's legal economy is sluggish and there are numerous barriers to further economic growth.
5.) Illicit Narcotics Trade - Afghanistan remains the world's largest producer of opium poppies and had the two highest years of cultivation in 2017 and 2018. Funds from the illicit drug trade fund the Taliban, corrupt members of the Afghan government, military and police and also employ 600,000 Afghanis.
6.) Threats to Women's Rights - More than $1 billion has been spent since 2002 to advance the status of women in Afghanistan but gains made so far are fragile, particularly in rural areas, and are likely to be unprotected should the Taliban be part of a peace settlement.
7.) Challenge of Reintegration - The social, economic and political reintegration of tens of thousands of former fighters back into Afghan society will be difficult, particularly in light of the nation's weak economy and political uncertainty and distrust.
8.) Restricted Oversight - If a peace settlement includes reductions in foreign personnel providing oversight on foreign funded programs, problems in the nation will only increase thanks to high levels of corruption.
Let's look at some examples of where U.S. tax dollars have been spent in Afghanistan. Since 2001, an estimated $780 billion has been appropriated for Afghanistan including war funding, diplomatic and consular programs, military and embassy construction projects etcetera. Of this $738 billion or 95 percent of the total was obligated by the Department of Defense. Reconstruction costs make up 15 percent of total U.S. funds obligated for Afghanistan since 2001 and are broken down as follows:
1.) Security - $83.1 billion (63 percent of the total) to build up Afghan military and police. In fiscal 2019, 82 percent of the funds appropriated for Afghanistan reconstruction were spent on assisting the security sector. The "success" of this program can be put into perspective with this map showing the areas of Afghanistan that are under control of the Taliban, the original target of Operation Enduring Freedom:

2.) Governance and Economic Development - $33.9 billion (26 percent of the total). In fiscal 2018, only 12 percent of the funds appropriated for Afghanistan reconstruction were spent on improving the nation's economy.
3.) Counternarcotics Programs - $8.9 billion (7 percent of the total).
The remaining 4 percent of reconstruction funds have been spent to support civilian operations, humanitarian initiatives and in combating society-wide corruption.
Let's close by looking at a few quotes from the report that show just how dire the situation in Afghanistan still is nearly 18 years after Operation Enduring Freedom began and how unlikely a peace settlement is likely to change the situation on the ground:
1.) Failure to successfully reintegrate an estimated 60,000 Taliban fighters and their families, and other illegal armed groups, could undermine the successful implementation of any peace agreement.
2.) The opium trade plays a significant role in the Afghan economy and it is difficult to see how a peace accord between the Afghan government and the insurgency would translate into the collapse or contraction of the illicit drug trade. The country requires a growing economy or favorable economic conditions to provide farmers and former insurgents with legitimate employment and a reliable income to replace opium poppy cultivation. The Afghan government also needs to pursue major drug traffickers, which it has not done consistently or successfully. According to the Department of Justice, "certain influential people are above the law."
3.) Effective policing will require a force that gives citizens the presumption of innocence rather than anticipating and taking preemptive offensive operations against perceived threats. U.S. agencies, such as the Justice Department, currently lack the personnel numbers and para-military strength to accompany Afghan National Police trainees into high-threat districts.
4.) In a post-settlement environment, depending on the terms of an agreement, there may also be the challenge of integrating former Taliban fighters into the national security forces and society. These issues could become more acute should international financial and military support decline sharply before, during, or after peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Let's close this sobering view of Afghanistan's future with an excerpt from the prepared remarks given by the the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John F. Sopko that accompanied the release of the report:
" If the U.S. reduces its presence in Afghanistan but feels compelled to provide significant financial support for reconstruction, there may be little choice but to provide a greater proportion of funding as on-budget assistance. But if that road is taken, assistance should be conditioned on an independent finding that adequate monitoring mechanisms and internal controls for the Afghan ministry or multilateral trust fund in question are in place.
If those conditions are lacking and assistance is provided anyway, we may as well set the cash ablaze on the streets of Kabul for all the good it will do.
I urge Congress to not just think about how much money should be given, but also to think about how that money will be provided and monitored. If the need for oversight is ignored or sidelined, both the American taxpayer and the Afghan people will suffer, even with a successful peace agreement." (my bold)
At the very least, it appears that 18 years of war has accomplished almost nothing when it comes to meaningful and permanent changes in Afghanistan despite the spending of hundreds of billions of hard-earned taxpayers' dollars.

[Apr 20, 2019] As Trump is just a marionette of neocons and Israel lobby: Russia has only expect harsher and harsher sanctions

Apr 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

STEPHEN COHEN: But the point here is that Russia has been torn between East and the West forever. Its best policy, in its own best interest, is to straddle East and West, not to be of the East or the West, but it's impossible in this world today. And U.S.-led Western policy since the end of the Soviet Union, and particularly since Putin came to power in 2000, has persuaded the Russian ruling elite that Russia can not count any longer, economically, politically, militarily, on being part of the West. It has to go elsewhere. So all this talk about wanting to win Russia to an American position that's anti-Iranian and anti-Chinese is conceived in disaster and will end in disaster. They should think of some other foreign policy.

False Solace , April 19, 2019 at 12:36 pm

...Haven't these people learned anything from the implosion of their pathetic Russiagate hysteria? The Russophobes won't be happy until we're at war with a nuclear power and the nukes are about to land.

Here are things Trump has actually done, as opposed to red-limned fantasies drawn from the fever-dreams of Putin haters:

Unilaterally abandoned 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty
Expelled 60 diplomats and closed 3 Russian diplomatic annexes
Bombed Syria, a Russian ally, with Russian troops in country
Sold arms to Ukraine, which is actively at war with Russia
Threatened Germany to cancel a new Russian pipeline through the Baltic (effort failed)
Even more sanctions against Russia and Russian nationals
Stationed missile defense systems on the Russian border in violation of arms treaties
Massive military exercises in Europe on the Russian border
Stationed troops in Poland
Negotiating with Poland to build a permanent US military base in Poland

All this has certainly made the world safer. /s

[Apr 19, 2019] The USA> creation of political Islam and supporting islamist fighters in Afhanistan created preconditions for the 9/11

So the USA helped to re-install medieval treatment of woman in Afghanistan and then called it progress toward human rights...
Notable quotes:
"... But, yes, 'somebody did something'. You don't need a conspiracy theory, because a conspiracy is a secret agreement to commit a crime, and this crime is right out in the open. Millions of people killed for fun and profit. Not that there weren't other conspiracies as well. ..."
Apr 18, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Behind the Omar Outrage Suppressed History of 9-11 By Max Blumenthal

Trump's demagogic ploy with the freshman lawmaker raises the more serious question of who and what led to the "Day of Planes," writes Max Blumenthal.

... ... ...

To effectively puncture Trump's demagogic ploys, the discussion of 9/11 must move beyond a superficial defense of Omar and into an exploration of a critical history that has been suppressed. This history begins at least 20 years before the attacks occurred, when "some people did something." Many of those people served at the highest levels of U.S. government, and the things they did led to the establishment of Al Qaeda as an international network – and ultimately, to 9/11 itself.

Taliban 'Unimportant'

Back in 1979, some people initiated a multi-billion-dollar covert operation to trap the Red Army in Afghanistan and bleed the Soviet Union at its soft underbelly. They put heavy weapons in the hands of Islamist warlords such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, dispatched Salafi clerics such as "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman to the battlefield, and printed millions of dollars worth of textbooks for Afghan children that contained math equations encouraging them to commit acts of violent martyrdom against Soviet soldiers. They did anything they could to wreak havoc on the Soviet-backed government in Kabul.

These people were so hellbent on smashing the Soviet Union that they made common cause with the Islamist dictatorship of Pakistan's Zia-ul-Haq and the House of Saud. With direct assistance from the intelligence services of these U.S. allies, Osama bin Laden, the scion of Saudi wealth, set up his Services Bureau on the Afghan border as a waystation for foreign Islamist fighters.

These people even channeled funding to bin Laden so he could build training camps along the Afghan-Pakistan border for the so-called freedom fighters of the mujahideen. And they kept watch over a ratline that shepherded young Muslim men from the West to the front lines of the Afghan proxy war, using them as cannon fodder for a cold-blooded, imperial operation marketed by the Wahhabi clergy in Saudi Arabia as a holy obligation.

These people were in the CIA, USAID, and the National Security Council. Others, with names like Charlie Wilson, Jesse Helms, Jack Murtha, and Joe Biden, held seats on both sides of the aisle in Congress.

When they finally got what they wanted, dislodging a secular government that had provided Afghan women with unprecedented access to education, their proxies plunged Afghanistan into a war of the warlords that saw half of Kabul turned to rubble, paving the way for the rise of the Taliban. And these people remained totally unrepentant about the monster they had created.

"Can you imagine what the world would be like today if there was still a Soviet Union?" remarked Zbigniew Bzezinski, the former NSC director who sold President Jimmy Carter on the Afghan proxy war. "So yes, compared to the Soviet Union, and to its collapse, the Taliban were unimportant."

To some in Washington, the Taliban were a historical footnote. To others, they were allies of convenience. As a top State Department diplomat commented to journalist Ahmed Rashid in February 1997, "The Taliban will probably develop like Saudi Arabia. There be [the Saudi-owned oil company] Aramco, pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that."

CIA Cover-ups and Blowback

Back in the U.S., some people fueled the blowback from the Afghan proxy war. The Blind Sheikh was given a special entry visa by the CIA as payback for the services he provided in Afghanistan, allowing him to take over the al-Kifah Center in New York City, which had functioned as the de facto U.S. arm of Al Qaeda's Services Bureau. Under his watch and with help from bin Laden, some people and lots of aid were shuttled to the front lines of U.S. proxy wars in Bosnia and Chechnya while the Clinton administration generally looked the other way.

Though the Blind Sheikh was eventually convicted in a terror plot contrived by a paid informant for the FBI, some people in federal law enforcement had been reluctant to indict him. "There was a whole issue about [Abdel-Rahman] being given a visa to come into this country and what the circumstances were around that," one of his defense lawyers, Abdeed Jabara told me. "The issue related to how much the government was involved with the jihadist enterprise when it suited their purposes in Afghanistan and whether or not they were afraid there would be exposure of that. Because there's no question that the jihadists were using the Americans and the Americans were using the jihadists. There's a symbiotic relationship."

During the 1995 trial of members of the Blind Sheikh's New York-based cell, another defense lawyer, Roger Stavis, referred to his clients before the jury as "Team America," emphasizing the role they had played as proxy fighters for the U.S. in Afghanistan. When Stavis attempted to summon to the witness stand a jihadist operative named Ali Abdelsauod Mohammed who had trained his clients in firearms and combat, some people ordered Mohammed to refuse his subpoena. Those people, according to journalist Peter Lance, were federal prosecutors Andrew McCarthy and Patrick Fitzgerald.

The government lawyers were apparently fretting that Mohammed would be exposed as an active asset of both the CIA and FBI, and as a former Army sergeant who had spirited training manuals out of Fort Bragg while stationed there during the 1980s. So Mohammed remained a free man, helping Al Qaeda plan attacks on American consular facilities in Tanzania and Kenya while the "Day of the Planes" plot began to take form.

In early 2000, some people gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to prepare the most daring Al Qaeda operation to date. Two figures at the meeting, Saudi citizens named Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar, were on their way to the United States. While in Kuala Lumpur, the duo's hotel room was broken into by CIA agents, their passports were photographed, and their communications were recorded. And yet the pair of Al Qaeda operatives was able to travel together with multiple-entry visas on a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Los Angeles. That's because for some reason, some people from the CIA failed to notify any people at the FBI about the terror summit that had just taken place. The "Day of Planes" plot was moving forward without a kink.

In Los Angeles, some people met Hazmi and Midhar at the airport, provided the two non-English speakers with a personal caretaker and rented them apartments, where neighbors said they were routinely visited each night by unknown figures in expensive cars with darkened windows. Those people were Saudi Arabian intelligence agents named Omar Bayoumi and Khaled al-Thumairy.

Crawford , Texas

It was not until August 2001 that Midhar was placed on a terrorist watch list. That month, some people met at a ranch in Crawford, Texas, and reviewed a classified document headlined, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the US." The bulletin was a page-and-a-half long, with detailed intelligence on the "Day of Planes" plot provided by Ali Mohammed, the Al Qaeda-FBI-CIA triple agent now registered as "John Doe" and disappeared somewhere in the federal prison system. Those people reviewed the document for a few minutes before their boss, President George W. Bush, moved on to other matters.

According to The Washington Post , Bush exhibited an "expansive mood" that day, taking in a round of golf. "We are going to be struck soon, many Americans are going to die, and it could be in the U.S.," CIA counterterrorism chief Cofer Black warned days later. Bush did not meet with his cabinet heads again to discuss terrorism until Sept. 4.

A week later, on Sept. 11, some people did something.

They hijacked four civilian airliners and changed the course of American history with little more than box cutter blades in their hands. Fifteen of those 19 people, including Hazmi and Midhar, were citizens of Saudi Arabia. They were products of a Wahhabi school system and a politically stultifying society that had thrived under the protection of a special relationship with the U.S. Indeed, the U.S. had showered theocratic allies like Saudi Arabia with aid and weapons while threatening secular Arab states that resisted its hegemony with sanctions and invasion. The Saudis were the favorite Muslims of America's national security elite not because they were moderate, which they absolutely were not, but because they were useful.

In the days after 9/11, the FBI organized several flights to evacuate prominent Saudi families from the U.S., including relatives of Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, Islamophobia erupted across the country, with even mainstream personalities such as TV news anchor Dan Rather taking to the airwaves to claim without evidence that Arab-Americans had celebrated the 9/11 attacks.

Unable to find a single operational Al Qaeda cell in the country, the FBI turned to an army of paid snitches to haul in mentally unstable Muslims, dupes and idlers like the Lackawanna 6 in manufactured plots. Desperate for a high-profile bust to reinforce the "war on terror" narrative, the bureau hounded Palestinian Muslim activists and persecuted prominent Islamic charities like the Holy Land Foundation, sending its directors to prison for decades for the crime of sending aid to NGOs in the occupied Gaza Strip.

As America's national security state cracked down on Muslim civil society at home, it turned to fanatical Islamist proxies abroad to bring down secular and politically independent Arab states. In Libya, the U.S. and UK helped arm the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a longtime affiliate of Al Qaeda, using it as a proxy to depose and murder Muammar Gaddafi. As that country transformed from a stable, prosperous state into an Afghanistan-style playground for rival militias, including a chapter of the Islamic State, the Obama administration moved to do the same to Damascus.

In Syria, the CIA armed an outfit of supposedly "moderate rebels" called the Free Syrian Army that turned out to be nothing more than a political front and weapons farm for an array of extremist insurgent factions including Al Qaeda's local affiliate and the Islamic State. The latter two groups were, of course, products of the sectarian chaos of Iraq, which had been ruled by a secular government until the U.S. came knocking after 9/11.

The blowback from Iraq, Libya and Syria arrived in the form of the worst refugee crises the world has experienced since World War II. And then came the bloodiest terror attack to hit the UK in history – in Manchester. There, the son of a Libyan Islamic Fighting Group member, who traveled to Libya and Syria on an MI6 ratline, slaughtered concert-goers with a nail bomb.

Cataclysmic social disruptions like these were like steroids for right-wing Islamophobes, electrifying Trump's victorious 2016 presidential campaign, a wing of the Brexit "Leave" campaign in the UK, and far-right parties across Europe. But as I explain in "The Management of Savagery," these terrifying trends were byproducts of decisions undertaken by national security elites more closely aligned with the political center – figures who today attempt to position themselves as leaders of the anti-Trump resistance.

Which people did which things to drag us into the political nightmare we're living through? For those willing to cut through the campaign season bluster, Ilhan Omar's comments dare us to name names.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of books including best-selling " Republican Gomorrah ," " Goliath ," " The Fifty One Day War " and " The Management of Savagery ," published in March 2019 by Verso. He has also produced numerous print articles for an array of publications, many video reports and several documentaries including " Killing Gaza " and " Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie ." Blumenthal founded the Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America's state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions. 36 comments for "Behind the Omar Outrage: Suppressed History of 9/11"


Jeff Harrison , April 19, 2019 at 11:24

The US doesn't seem to have the ability to see ourselves as others see us. This explains why we don't understand why other countries/peoples react badly towards us. This will get worse as we move into a more imperialistic mode. We continue to use the anachronistic phrase "leader of the free world" all the while missing out on the fact that the rest of the world has, in essence, become free and they, for the most part, don't want us leading them.

bill haymes , April 19, 2019 at 05:20

everyone who has not examined ALL THE EVIDENCE of 9/11 WITH AN OPEN MIND is imo simply whistling in the wind

Anarcissie , April 19, 2019 at 11:12

I suppose, then, that that would mean going back to the earliest days of the 20th century, when the British leadership, considering that its future navy, a main pillar of its empire, would have to be fueled with oil instead of coal, and that there was a lot of oil in the Middle East, began its imperial projects there, which of course involved wars, police, spies, economic blackmail, and other tools of empire. The US seized or wangled or inherited the imperial system from the British and thus acquired the associated regional, ethnic, and religious hostilities as well. Since the Arabs and other Muslims were weak compared with the Great Powers, resistance meant terrorism and guerrilla warfare on one side and massive intervention and the support of local strongmen, Mafia bosses, dictators, and so on on the other.

After 9/11. mentioning this important fact became 'justifying bin Laden' or 'spitting on the graves of the dead' so you couldn't talk about it.

But, yes, 'somebody did something'. You don't need a conspiracy theory, because a conspiracy is a secret agreement to commit a crime, and this crime is right out in the open. Millions of people killed for fun and profit. Not that there weren't other conspiracies as well.

Abe , April 18, 2019 at 23:23

Behind the Omar Outrage: Suppressed History of the pro-Israel Lobby

Max Blumenthal's article and his 2019 book, The Management of Savagery: How America's National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump (2019), is an impressive exercise in burying the leads.

Blumenthal does chronicle a decades-long panoply of active measures by numerous pro-Israel Lobby figures, groups and think tanks. Yet he fails to explicitly recognize the connection between pro-Israel Lobby efforts and the covert operations and overt invasions of America's national security state.

Julian Assange of Wikileaks was more explicit. Assange named the "country that has interfered in U.S. elections, has endangered Americans living or working overseas and has corrupted America's legislative and executive branches. It has exploited that corruption to initiate legislation favorable to itself, has promoted unnecessary and unwinnable wars and has stolen American technology and military secrets. Its ready access to the mainstream media to spread its own propaganda provides it with cover for its actions and it accomplishes all that and more through the agency of a powerful and well-funded domestic lobby [ ] That country is, of course, Israel."

frank scott , April 18, 2019 at 22:55

i really like her and support her but if she just had the good sense to have simply said "some people did something terrible" none of the present chapter of "islamophobia" would be acted out..no matter how much we think we know about the real truth(?) what happened that day did not blow up the white house, congress or the ruling class of america but nearly three thousand pretty ordinary folks yes, just like what "we" do repeatedly, but nevertheless, and considering the overwhelming mind fuck that went on with replaying the tragedy on tv for days so that millions across the nation were put in shock, we need to be just a little more considerate and possibly understanding both about how many people might feel and how some people might use any opportunity to perform this second rate islamophobia, which is a tiny fractional form of the original monstrous behavior that has destroyed nations, governments and millions of people in the islamic world..that is islamophobia, not the reactionary crap that passes for it which should be as understandable – under the circumstances – as terrorism!

Zhu , April 18, 2019 at 22:32

It should have been obvious that our government had made enemies around the world & that some would attempt revenge some day. Instead, we all thought that what we did to other people could never happen to us.

Joe Tedesky , April 18, 2019 at 21:41

This is a must read for the skeptics who doubt any questioning of the official 9/11 Commission Report. This investigative reporting by Max Blumenthal is another good reason to read the Consortium.

hetro , April 18, 2019 at 17:18

Max Blumenthal's emphasis on "somebody did something" in echo to Ilhan Omar's comments, plus his emphasis on what has been "suppressed," will hopefully lead on to further disclosures of what took place for the 9/11 event.

Anyone who watches the Omar video will see she is mainly emphasizing a disgraceful demonizing of Muslims in general. Additionally, what has brought on all the hatred to her, she did not speak with the "quasi-theological understanding" that demands the official narrative, with hushed tones, while speaking of the event:

Max Blumenthal above:

". . . by reinforcing the quasi-theological understanding of 9/11 that leaves anti-Muslim narratives unchallenged. "The memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence," insisted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi."

It would be a fine thing for CN, despite Mr. Parry's former reservations, to open up enquiry into further discussion of what has been "suppressed"–or at the very least to the very serious questions that have not yet been answered on that horrible day.

OlyaPola , April 18, 2019 at 14:17

"Trump's demagogic ploy with the freshman lawmaker raises the more serious question of who and what led to the "Day of Planes," writes Max Blumenthal."

All processes of suppression tend to spread that which is being suppresed facilitating de-suppression of much that is being suppressed leaving a residual.

Framing and access to sources may continue the lack of perception of this residual and hence facilitate misrepresentation through ommission.

"Back in 1979, some people initiated a multi-billion-dollar covert operation to trap the Red Army in Afghanistan and bleed the Soviet Union at its soft underbelly."

Restriction of frame is a tool of obfuscation and choice of point of initiation a tool of misrepresentation.

During the early 1970's due to internal factors primarily but not wholly in the period of 1964 to 1970, the Politburo of the Soviet Union agreed detente on the bases of spheres of influence with the United States of America facilitating the creation of a greater assay of and reliance upon the US dollar fiat currency, further butressed by commodity arrangements including but not restricted to the petro-dollar, in part to underpin the United States of America economic recovery including recovering their control over their perceived threats within their sphere of influence, particularly but not exclusively Japan.

In reaction/attempt at circumvention in 1973 Mitsui-Mitsubishi representing the zaibatsu sought to jointly develop the Trans-Siberian railway, the port of Nahodka and other industrial options including in Japan primarily in Northern Honshu and in Hokkaido with the Soviet Union but this project was terminated by the Politburo, the reason given being potential threats from China after confrontation including on the Amur and the need to build BAM (Baikal-Amur Railway) to the north of the Trans-Siberian Railway – the projects rejected were ancestor of the present OBOR project with differing participants re-explored from 1993 onwards.

These opportunities and trajectories in the 1970's were explained to the Politburo in the 1970's but rejected by the Politburo.

The Soviet Union was invited into Afghanistan by the Afghani government and hence never "invaded" Afghanistan.

The Politburo accepted the invitation of the Afghani government despite the advice of those practiced in strategic evaluation – the illusion that the Politburo was practiced in strategic evaluation endured in an ideological half-life post August 1968 but increasingly was ignored in practice.

During the 1970's there was an oscillating aspect of contrariness and attempt to regain perceived control in many of the decision of the Politburo led by the man who loved medals and awards Mr. Brezhnev.

Consequently the Politburo and the Soviet Union was complicit in facilitating opportunities for " Back in 1979, some people initiated a multi-billion-dollar covert operation to trap the Red Army in Afghanistan and bleed the Soviet Union at its soft underbelly."

However the targets of these operations were not restricted to the Soviet Union but included as part of an ongoing "strategy" "to underpin the United States of America economic recovery/maintainence including recovering/maintaining their control over their perceived threats within their sphere of influence, particularly but not exclusively Japan." and the location of these efforts were chosen the middle of Central Asia in reaction to experiences in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Israel post 1973.

The above are necessarily thumbnails in confirmation and extension of the not widely perceived causation/facilitation/ history/trajectories/time horizons which may aid perception, as may testing the hypotheses that Ms. Omar is being attacked for challenging myth irrespective of which myth she attempts to challenge.

[Apr 19, 2019] US creation of political Islam and supporting islamist fighters in Afhanistan created preconditions for the 9/11

Notable quotes:
"... But, yes, 'somebody did something'. You don't need a conspiracy theory, because a conspiracy is a secret agreement to commit a crime, and this crime is right out in the open. Millions of people killed for fun and profit. Not that there weren't other conspiracies as well. ..."
Apr 18, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Behind the Omar Outrage Suppressed History of 9-11 By Max Blumenthal

Trump's demagogic ploy with the freshman lawmaker raises the more serious question of who and what led to the "Day of Planes," writes Max Blumenthal.

... ... ...

To effectively puncture Trump's demagogic ploys, the discussion of 9/11 must move beyond a superficial defense of Omar and into an exploration of a critical history that has been suppressed. This history begins at least 20 years before the attacks occurred, when "some people did something." Many of those people served at the highest levels of U.S. government, and the things they did led to the establishment of Al Qaeda as an international network – and ultimately, to 9/11 itself.

Taliban 'Unimportant'

Back in 1979, some people initiated a multi-billion-dollar covert operation to trap the Red Army in Afghanistan and bleed the Soviet Union at its soft underbelly. They put heavy weapons in the hands of Islamist warlords such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, dispatched Salafi clerics such as "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman to the battlefield, and printed millions of dollars worth of textbooks for Afghan children that contained math equations encouraging them to commit acts of violent martyrdom against Soviet soldiers. They did anything they could to wreak havoc on the Soviet-backed government in Kabul.

These people were so hellbent on smashing the Soviet Union that they made common cause with the Islamist dictatorship of Pakistan's Zia-ul-Haq and the House of Saud. With direct assistance from the intelligence services of these U.S. allies, Osama bin Laden, the scion of Saudi wealth, set up his Services Bureau on the Afghan border as a waystation for foreign Islamist fighters.

These people even channeled funding to bin Laden so he could build training camps along the Afghan-Pakistan border for the so-called freedom fighters of the mujahideen. And they kept watch over a ratline that shepherded young Muslim men from the West to the front lines of the Afghan proxy war, using them as cannon fodder for a cold-blooded, imperial operation marketed by the Wahhabi clergy in Saudi Arabia as a holy obligation.

These people were in the CIA, USAID, and the National Security Council. Others, with names like Charlie Wilson, Jesse Helms, Jack Murtha, and Joe Biden, held seats on both sides of the aisle in Congress.

When they finally got what they wanted, dislodging a secular government that had provided Afghan women with unprecedented access to education, their proxies plunged Afghanistan into a war of the warlords that saw half of Kabul turned to rubble, paving the way for the rise of the Taliban. And these people remained totally unrepentant about the monster they had created.

"Can you imagine what the world would be like today if there was still a Soviet Union?" remarked Zbigniew Bzezinski, the former NSC director who sold President Jimmy Carter on the Afghan proxy war. "So yes, compared to the Soviet Union, and to its collapse, the Taliban were unimportant."

To some in Washington, the Taliban were a historical footnote. To others, they were allies of convenience. As a top State Department diplomat commented to journalist Ahmed Rashid in February 1997, "The Taliban will probably develop like Saudi Arabia. There be [the Saudi-owned oil company] Aramco, pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that."

CIA Cover-ups and Blowback

Back in the U.S., some people fueled the blowback from the Afghan proxy war. The Blind Sheikh was given a special entry visa by the CIA as payback for the services he provided in Afghanistan, allowing him to take over the al-Kifah Center in New York City, which had functioned as the de facto U.S. arm of Al Qaeda's Services Bureau. Under his watch and with help from bin Laden, some people and lots of aid were shuttled to the front lines of U.S. proxy wars in Bosnia and Chechnya while the Clinton administration generally looked the other way.

Though the Blind Sheikh was eventually convicted in a terror plot contrived by a paid informant for the FBI, some people in federal law enforcement had been reluctant to indict him. "There was a whole issue about [Abdel-Rahman] being given a visa to come into this country and what the circumstances were around that," one of his defense lawyers, Abdeed Jabara told me. "The issue related to how much the government was involved with the jihadist enterprise when it suited their purposes in Afghanistan and whether or not they were afraid there would be exposure of that. Because there's no question that the jihadists were using the Americans and the Americans were using the jihadists. There's a symbiotic relationship."

During the 1995 trial of members of the Blind Sheikh's New York-based cell, another defense lawyer, Roger Stavis, referred to his clients before the jury as "Team America," emphasizing the role they had played as proxy fighters for the U.S. in Afghanistan. When Stavis attempted to summon to the witness stand a jihadist operative named Ali Abdelsauod Mohammed who had trained his clients in firearms and combat, some people ordered Mohammed to refuse his subpoena. Those people, according to journalist Peter Lance, were federal prosecutors Andrew McCarthy and Patrick Fitzgerald.

The government lawyers were apparently fretting that Mohammed would be exposed as an active asset of both the CIA and FBI, and as a former Army sergeant who had spirited training manuals out of Fort Bragg while stationed there during the 1980s. So Mohammed remained a free man, helping Al Qaeda plan attacks on American consular facilities in Tanzania and Kenya while the "Day of the Planes" plot began to take form.

In early 2000, some people gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to prepare the most daring Al Qaeda operation to date. Two figures at the meeting, Saudi citizens named Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar, were on their way to the United States. While in Kuala Lumpur, the duo's hotel room was broken into by CIA agents, their passports were photographed, and their communications were recorded. And yet the pair of Al Qaeda operatives was able to travel together with multiple-entry visas on a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Los Angeles. That's because for some reason, some people from the CIA failed to notify any people at the FBI about the terror summit that had just taken place. The "Day of Planes" plot was moving forward without a kink.

In Los Angeles, some people met Hazmi and Midhar at the airport, provided the two non-English speakers with a personal caretaker and rented them apartments, where neighbors said they were routinely visited each night by unknown figures in expensive cars with darkened windows. Those people were Saudi Arabian intelligence agents named Omar Bayoumi and Khaled al-Thumairy.

Crawford , Texas

It was not until August 2001 that Midhar was placed on a terrorist watch list. That month, some people met at a ranch in Crawford, Texas, and reviewed a classified document headlined, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the US." The bulletin was a page-and-a-half long, with detailed intelligence on the "Day of Planes" plot provided by Ali Mohammed, the Al Qaeda-FBI-CIA triple agent now registered as "John Doe" and disappeared somewhere in the federal prison system. Those people reviewed the document for a few minutes before their boss, President George W. Bush, moved on to other matters.

According to The Washington Post , Bush exhibited an "expansive mood" that day, taking in a round of golf. "We are going to be struck soon, many Americans are going to die, and it could be in the U.S.," CIA counterterrorism chief Cofer Black warned days later. Bush did not meet with his cabinet heads again to discuss terrorism until Sept. 4.

A week later, on Sept. 11, some people did something.

They hijacked four civilian airliners and changed the course of American history with little more than box cutter blades in their hands. Fifteen of those 19 people, including Hazmi and Midhar, were citizens of Saudi Arabia. They were products of a Wahhabi school system and a politically stultifying society that had thrived under the protection of a special relationship with the U.S. Indeed, the U.S. had showered theocratic allies like Saudi Arabia with aid and weapons while threatening secular Arab states that resisted its hegemony with sanctions and invasion. The Saudis were the favorite Muslims of America's national security elite not because they were moderate, which they absolutely were not, but because they were useful.

In the days after 9/11, the FBI organized several flights to evacuate prominent Saudi families from the U.S., including relatives of Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, Islamophobia erupted across the country, with even mainstream personalities such as TV news anchor Dan Rather taking to the airwaves to claim without evidence that Arab-Americans had celebrated the 9/11 attacks.

Unable to find a single operational Al Qaeda cell in the country, the FBI turned to an army of paid snitches to haul in mentally unstable Muslims, dupes and idlers like the Lackawanna 6 in manufactured plots. Desperate for a high-profile bust to reinforce the "war on terror" narrative, the bureau hounded Palestinian Muslim activists and persecuted prominent Islamic charities like the Holy Land Foundation, sending its directors to prison for decades for the crime of sending aid to NGOs in the occupied Gaza Strip.

As America's national security state cracked down on Muslim civil society at home, it turned to fanatical Islamist proxies abroad to bring down secular and politically independent Arab states. In Libya, the U.S. and UK helped arm the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a longtime affiliate of Al Qaeda, using it as a proxy to depose and murder Muammar Gaddafi. As that country transformed from a stable, prosperous state into an Afghanistan-style playground for rival militias, including a chapter of the Islamic State, the Obama administration moved to do the same to Damascus.

In Syria, the CIA armed an outfit of supposedly "moderate rebels" called the Free Syrian Army that turned out to be nothing more than a political front and weapons farm for an array of extremist insurgent factions including Al Qaeda's local affiliate and the Islamic State. The latter two groups were, of course, products of the sectarian chaos of Iraq, which had been ruled by a secular government until the U.S. came knocking after 9/11.

The blowback from Iraq, Libya and Syria arrived in the form of the worst refugee crises the world has experienced since World War II. And then came the bloodiest terror attack to hit the UK in history – in Manchester. There, the son of a Libyan Islamic Fighting Group member, who traveled to Libya and Syria on an MI6 ratline, slaughtered concert-goers with a nail bomb.

Cataclysmic social disruptions like these were like steroids for right-wing Islamophobes, electrifying Trump's victorious 2016 presidential campaign, a wing of the Brexit "Leave" campaign in the UK, and far-right parties across Europe. But as I explain in "The Management of Savagery," these terrifying trends were byproducts of decisions undertaken by national security elites more closely aligned with the political center – figures who today attempt to position themselves as leaders of the anti-Trump resistance.

Which people did which things to drag us into the political nightmare we're living through? For those willing to cut through the campaign season bluster, Ilhan Omar's comments dare us to name names.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of books including best-selling " Republican Gomorrah ," " Goliath ," " The Fifty One Day War " and " The Management of Savagery ," published in March 2019 by Verso. He has also produced numerous print articles for an array of publications, many video reports and several documentaries including " Killing Gaza " and " Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie ." Blumenthal founded the Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America's state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions. 36 comments for "Behind the Omar Outrage: Suppressed History of 9/11"


Jeff Harrison , April 19, 2019 at 11:24

The US doesn't seem to have the ability to see ourselves as others see us. This explains why we don't understand why other countries/peoples react badly towards us. This will get worse as we move into a more imperialistic mode. We continue to use the anachronistic phrase "leader of the free world" all the while missing out on the fact that the rest of the world has, in essence, become free and they, for the most part, don't want us leading them.

bill haymes , April 19, 2019 at 05:20

everyone who has not examined ALL THE EVIDENCE of 9/11 WITH AN OPEN MIND is imo simply whistling in the wind

Anarcissie , April 19, 2019 at 11:12

I suppose, then, that that would mean going back to the earliest days of the 20th century, when the British leadership, considering that its future navy, a main pillar of its empire, would have to be fueled with oil instead of coal, and that there was a lot of oil in the Middle East, began its imperial projects there, which of course involved wars, police, spies, economic blackmail, and other tools of empire. The US seized or wangled or inherited the imperial system from the British and thus acquired the associated regional, ethnic, and religious hostilities as well. Since the Arabs and other Muslims were weak compared with the Great Powers, resistance meant terrorism and guerrilla warfare on one side and massive intervention and the support of local strongmen, Mafia bosses, dictators, and so on on the other.

After 9/11. mentioning this important fact became 'justifying bin Laden' or 'spitting on the graves of the dead' so you couldn't talk about it.

But, yes, 'somebody did something'. You don't need a conspiracy theory, because a conspiracy is a secret agreement to commit a crime, and this crime is right out in the open. Millions of people killed for fun and profit. Not that there weren't other conspiracies as well.

Abe , April 18, 2019 at 23:23

Behind the Omar Outrage: Suppressed History of the pro-Israel Lobby

Max Blumenthal's article and his 2019 book, The Management of Savagery: How America's National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump (2019), is an impressive exercise in burying the leads.

Blumenthal does chronicle a decades-long panoply of active measures by numerous pro-Israel Lobby figures, groups and think tanks. Yet he fails to explicitly recognize the connection between pro-Israel Lobby efforts and the covert operations and overt invasions of America's national security state.

Julian Assange of Wikileaks was more explicit. Assange named the "country that has interfered in U.S. elections, has endangered Americans living or working overseas and has corrupted America's legislative and executive branches. It has exploited that corruption to initiate legislation favorable to itself, has promoted unnecessary and unwinnable wars and has stolen American technology and military secrets. Its ready access to the mainstream media to spread its own propaganda provides it with cover for its actions and it accomplishes all that and more through the agency of a powerful and well-funded domestic lobby [ ] That country is, of course, Israel."

frank scott , April 18, 2019 at 22:55

i really like her and support her but if she just had the good sense to have simply said "some people did something terrible" none of the present chapter of "islamophobia" would be acted out..no matter how much we think we know about the real truth(?) what happened that day did not blow up the white house, congress or the ruling class of america but nearly three thousand pretty ordinary folks yes, just like what "we" do repeatedly, but nevertheless, and considering the overwhelming mind fuck that went on with replaying the tragedy on tv for days so that millions across the nation were put in shock, we need to be just a little more considerate and possibly understanding both about how many people might feel and how some people might use any opportunity to perform this second rate islamophobia, which is a tiny fractional form of the original monstrous behavior that has destroyed nations, governments and millions of people in the islamic world..that is islamophobia, not the reactionary crap that passes for it which should be as understandable – under the circumstances – as terrorism!

Zhu , April 18, 2019 at 22:32

It should have been obvious that our government had made enemies around the world & that some would attempt revenge some day. Instead, we all thought that what we did to other people could never happen to us.

Joe Tedesky , April 18, 2019 at 21:41

This is a must read for the skeptics who doubt any questioning of the official 9/11 Commission Report. This investigative reporting by Max Blumenthal is another good reason to read the Consortium.

hetro , April 18, 2019 at 17:18

Max Blumenthal's emphasis on "somebody did something" in echo to Ilhan Omar's comments, plus his emphasis on what has been "suppressed," will hopefully lead on to further disclosures of what took place for the 9/11 event.

Anyone who watches the Omar video will see she is mainly emphasizing a disgraceful demonizing of Muslims in general. Additionally, what has brought on all the hatred to her, she did not speak with the "quasi-theological understanding" that demands the official narrative, with hushed tones, while speaking of the event:

Max Blumenthal above:

". . . by reinforcing the quasi-theological understanding of 9/11 that leaves anti-Muslim narratives unchallenged. "The memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence," insisted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi."

It would be a fine thing for CN, despite Mr. Parry's former reservations, to open up enquiry into further discussion of what has been "suppressed"–or at the very least to the very serious questions that have not yet been answered on that horrible day.

OlyaPola , April 18, 2019 at 14:17

"Trump's demagogic ploy with the freshman lawmaker raises the more serious question of who and what led to the "Day of Planes," writes Max Blumenthal."

All processes of suppression tend to spread that which is being suppresed facilitating de-suppression of much that is being suppressed leaving a residual.

Framing and access to sources may continue the lack of perception of this residual and hence facilitate misrepresentation through ommission.

"Back in 1979, some people initiated a multi-billion-dollar covert operation to trap the Red Army in Afghanistan and bleed the Soviet Union at its soft underbelly."

Restriction of frame is a tool of obfuscation and choice of point of initiation a tool of misrepresentation.

During the early 1970's due to internal factors primarily but not wholly in the period of 1964 to 1970, the Politburo of the Soviet Union agreed detente on the bases of spheres of influence with the United States of America facilitating the creation of a greater assay of and reliance upon the US dollar fiat currency, further butressed by commodity arrangements including but not restricted to the petro-dollar, in part to underpin the United States of America economic recovery including recovering their control over their perceived threats within their sphere of influence, particularly but not exclusively Japan.

In reaction/attempt at circumvention in 1973 Mitsui-Mitsubishi representing the zaibatsu sought to jointly develop the Trans-Siberian railway, the port of Nahodka and other industrial options including in Japan primarily in Northern Honshu and in Hokkaido with the Soviet Union but this project was terminated by the Politburo, the reason given being potential threats from China after confrontation including on the Amur and the need to build BAM (Baikal-Amur Railway) to the north of the Trans-Siberian Railway – the projects rejected were ancestor of the present OBOR project with differing participants re-explored from 1993 onwards.

These opportunities and trajectories in the 1970's were explained to the Politburo in the 1970's but rejected by the Politburo.

The Soviet Union was invited into Afghanistan by the Afghani government and hence never "invaded" Afghanistan.

The Politburo accepted the invitation of the Afghani government despite the advice of those practiced in strategic evaluation – the illusion that the Politburo was practiced in strategic evaluation endured in an ideological half-life post August 1968 but increasingly was ignored in practice.

During the 1970's there was an oscillating aspect of contrariness and attempt to regain perceived control in many of the decision of the Politburo led by the man who loved medals and awards Mr. Brezhnev.

Consequently the Politburo and the Soviet Union was complicit in facilitating opportunities for " Back in 1979, some people initiated a multi-billion-dollar covert operation to trap the Red Army in Afghanistan and bleed the Soviet Union at its soft underbelly."

However the targets of these operations were not restricted to the Soviet Union but included as part of an ongoing "strategy" "to underpin the United States of America economic recovery/maintainence including recovering/maintaining their control over their perceived threats within their sphere of influence, particularly but not exclusively Japan." and the location of these efforts were chosen the middle of Central Asia in reaction to experiences in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Israel post 1973.

The above are necessarily thumbnails in confirmation and extension of the not widely perceived causation/facilitation/ history/trajectories/time horizons which may aid perception, as may testing the hypotheses that Ms. Omar is being attacked for challenging myth irrespective of which myth she attempts to challenge.

[Apr 13, 2019] Trump Puts America Last by Daniel Larison

Money quote (from comments): This GOP/Israel connection stinks to high heaven. Anyone who studied or remembers our problem with Communist spies back in the '50s has got to be hearing alarm bells ringing in their ears. Worries about Soviet spying and Russian meddling pale in comparison to what's now going on in plain sight with Israel.
Notable quotes:
"... As usual, Trump made the announcement of recognizing Israel's claim to the Golan Heights without any consultation with any of the relevant administration officials: ..."
"... After more than two years of watching Trump's impulsive and reckless "governing" style, it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that he makes these decisions without advance warning. There is no evidence that Trump ever thinks anything through, and so he probably sees no reason to tell anyone in advance what he is going to do. ..."
"... Trump almost never bothers consulting with the people who will be responsible for carrying out his policies ..."
"... There is absolutely no upside for the United States in endorsing illegal Israeli claims to the Golan Heights. It is a cynical political stunt intended to boost Netanyahu and Likud's fortunes in the upcoming election, and it is also a cynical stunt aimed at shoring up Trump's support from Republican "pro-Israel" voters and donors. ..."
"... Once again, Trump has put narrow political ambitions and the interests of a foreign government ahead of the interests of the United States. That seems to be the inevitable result of electing a narcissist who conducts foreign policy based on which leaders flatter and praise him. ..."
"... Bolton is usually the culprit responsible any destructive and foolish policy decision over the last year, and his baleful influence continues to grow. We can also see the harmful effects of the administration's Iran obsession at work. In the end, the Syria "withdrawal" hasn't happened and apparently isn't going to, but Trump nonetheless gives Israel whatever it wants in exchange for nothing so that they will be "reassured" of our unthinking support. ..."
"... I wonder what Mr. Kagan has to say now about "authoritarian" regimes?! ..."
"... Trump is making one hell of a mess for the next president to clean up. ..."
"... The decision to leave the INF treaty was taken in a similar way and with a total disregard for the consequences. The leaders of the European NATO countries have shown utter spinelessness in going along with it. ..."
"... I am shocked and horrified by what I've seen under Trump. I am deeply disappointed that so few Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter) have stood up to him on foreign policy, and I will never vote Republican again. This GOP/Israel connection stinks to high heaven. Anyone who studied or remembers our problem with Communist spies back in the '50s has got to be hearing alarm bells ringing in their ears. Worries about Soviet spying and Russian meddling pale in comparison to what's now going on in plain sight with Israel. ..."
"... To be fair, it ain't just Team R that has the sloppy crush on Israel. Team D is just as bad, even if they don't gush quite so publicly. In fact, episodes such as this one are useful in a way, as they make it hard to pretend that this is just a one-off, a misguided decision that we have to go along with to appease a powerful friend. ..."
"... Nevertheless, Israel should be very concerned about Northern Syria. If war breaks out and the US is forced to go to war with its own NATO ally as a result, Israel should prepare to kiss its alliance with the US goodbye. ..."
"... Many (rightfully or not) will blame Israel due to its connections to neoconservatism and Saudi jingoism, and consequently we may end up seeing BOTH parties becoming unfriendly to Israel over the subsequent generation. ..."
"... All of this could be prevented if President Trump would just tell Saudi Arabia to STOP the nonsense. But no. He's too focused on MIC profits. He's not America First. And quite frankly, I'm starting to think Benjamin Netanyahu is not Israel-first either, because if he were he'd be warning Trump about the mess he's going to end up getting America, Israel, and much of Europe and the Middle East into. ..."
Mar 20, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

As usual, Trump made the announcement of recognizing Israel's claim to the Golan Heights without any consultation with any of the relevant administration officials:

President Donald Trump's tweet on Thursday recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory surprised members of his own Middle East peace team, the State Department, and Israeli officials.

U.S. diplomats and White House aides had believed the Golan Heights issue would be front and center at next week's meetings between Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. But they were unprepared for any presidential announcement this week.

No formal U.S. process or executive committees were initiated to review the policy before Trump's decision, and the diplomats responsible for implementing the policy were left in the dark.

Even the Israelis, who have advocated for this move for years, were stunned at the timing of Trump's message.

After more than two years of watching Trump's impulsive and reckless "governing" style, it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that he makes these decisions without advance warning. There is no evidence that Trump ever thinks anything through, and so he probably sees no reason to tell anyone in advance what he is going to do.

Trump almost never bothers consulting with the people who will be responsible for carrying out his policies and dealing with the international fallout, and that is probably why so many of his policy decisions end up being exceptionally poor ones. The substance of most of Trump's foreign policy decisions was never likely to be good, but the lack of an organized policy process on major decisions makes those decisions even more haphazard and chaotic than they would otherwise be.

There is absolutely no upside for the United States in endorsing illegal Israeli claims to the Golan Heights. It is a cynical political stunt intended to boost Netanyahu and Likud's fortunes in the upcoming election, and it is also a cynical stunt aimed at shoring up Trump's support from Republican "pro-Israel" voters and donors.

Whatever short-term benefit Israel gains from it, the U.S. gains nothing and stands to lose quite a bit in terms of our international standing.

There has been no consideration of the costs and problems this will create for the U.S. in its relations with other regional states and beyond because Trump couldn't care less about the long-term effects that his decisions have on the country.

Once again, Trump has put narrow political ambitions and the interests of a foreign government ahead of the interests of the United States. That seems to be the inevitable result of electing a narcissist who conducts foreign policy based on which leaders flatter and praise him.

Trump's bad decision can be traced back to Bolton's visit to Israel earlier this year:

Administration officials said that National Security Advisor John Bolton was instrumental to the decision, after visiting Israel in January to assure officials there that the United States would not abandon them in Syria despite Trump's sudden withdrawal of troops from the battlefield.

Nervous Israeli officials saw an opportunity. "It was an ask," one Israeli source said, "because of the timing -- it suddenly became a relevant issue about Iran."

Bolton is usually the culprit responsible any destructive and foolish policy decision over the last year, and his baleful influence continues to grow. We can also see the harmful effects of the administration's Iran obsession at work. In the end, the Syria "withdrawal" hasn't happened and apparently isn't going to, but Trump nonetheless gives Israel whatever it wants in exchange for nothing so that they will be "reassured" of our unthinking support.


SF Bay March 21, 2019 at 10:28 pm

Well, of course Trump puts America last. There is one and only one person he is interested in -- himself. As you say this is his narcissistic personality at work.

My never ending question is always, "Why does any Republican with a conscience remain silent? Are they really all this shallow and self absorbed? Is there nothing Trump does that will finally force them to put country before party and their own ambition?"

It's a really sad state of events that has put this country on the road to ruin.

Kouros , , March 21, 2019 at 11:39 pm
I wonder what Mr. Kagan has to say now about "authoritarian" regimes?!
Trump 2016 , , March 22, 2019 at 1:45 am
Trump is making one hell of a mess for the next president to clean up. Straightening out all this stupidity will take years. Here's hoping that Trump gets to watch his foreign policy decisions tossed out and reversed from federal prison.
Grumpy Old Man , , March 22, 2019 at 3:29 am
He ought to recognize Russia's seizure of Crimea. Why not? Кто кого?
Tony , , March 22, 2019 at 8:50 am
The decision to leave the INF treaty was taken in a similar way and with a total disregard for the consequences. The leaders of the European NATO countries have shown utter spinelessness in going along with it.

The administration says that a Russian missile violates the treaty but it will not tell us what the range of the missile is. Nor will it allow its weapons inspectors to go and look at it.

The reason is clear: Fear that the weapons inspectors' findings would contradict the administration's claims.

Some Perspective , , March 22, 2019 at 9:08 am
I voted Republican ever since I started voting. I voted for Bush I, Dole, Dubya, and McCain. I couldn't vote for either Obama or Romney, but I voted for Trump because of Hillary Clinton.

I am shocked and horrified by what I've seen under Trump. I am deeply disappointed that so few Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter) have stood up to him on foreign policy, and I will never vote Republican again. This GOP/Israel connection stinks to high heaven. Anyone who studied or remembers our problem with Communist spies back in the '50s has got to be hearing alarm bells ringing in their ears. Worries about Soviet spying and Russian meddling pale in comparison to what's now going on in plain sight with Israel.

We're losing our country. We're losing America.

Sid Finster , , March 22, 2019 at 10:22 am
To be fair, it ain't just Team R that has the sloppy crush on Israel. Team D is just as bad, even if they don't gush quite so publicly. In fact, episodes such as this one are useful in a way, as they make it hard to pretend that this is just a one-off, a misguided decision that we have to go along with to appease a powerful friend.

Europoliticians tell that last one a lot. "We really don't want to but the Americans twisted our arms ZOMG Special Relationship so sorry ZOMG!" Only with a lot more Eurobureaucratese.

G-Pol , , March 22, 2019 at 11:15 am
I agree with the article's premise, but not because of this move regarding Israel.

Personally, I believe this move will have little impact on the outcome of the crisis in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and the other Arab monarchies are too focused on containing Iran and Turkey to give a crap about what Israel does. The only Arab states that I can see objecting to this move are Syria (obviously) and the others who were already allied with Iran and/or Turkey to begin with.

Right now, the REAL center of attention in the region should be Northern Syria. THAT's where the next major war likely will begin. In that area, Saudi Arabia and to a lesser extent Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are the ones doing the major escalations, while Israel has virtually no role at all aside from sideline cheer-leading. And of course, Trump is doing nothing to stop what could become the next July Crisis. What's "America First" about that?

Nevertheless, Israel should be very concerned about Northern Syria. If war breaks out and the US is forced to go to war with its own NATO ally as a result, Israel should prepare to kiss its alliance with the US goodbye.

There is no way our international reputation will come out of this war unscathed, and odds are we'll be in a far worse position diplomatically than we were at any point in our history, even during the Iraq war. When that happens, the American people will be out to assign blame. Many (rightfully or not) will blame Israel due to its connections to neoconservatism and Saudi jingoism, and consequently we may end up seeing BOTH parties becoming unfriendly to Israel over the subsequent generation.

All of this could be prevented if President Trump would just tell Saudi Arabia to STOP the nonsense. But no. He's too focused on MIC profits. He's not America First. And quite frankly, I'm starting to think Benjamin Netanyahu is not Israel-first either, because if he were he'd be warning Trump about the mess he's going to end up getting America, Israel, and much of Europe and the Middle East into.

[Apr 12, 2019] Italy How to Ruin a Country in Three Decades naked capitalism

Apr 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

April 11, 2019 by Yves Smith By Servaas Storm, a Dutch economist and author who works on macroeconomics, technological progress, income distribution & economic growth, finance, development and structural change, and climate change. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

While Brexit and Trump have been making the headlines, the Italian economy has been sliding into a technical recession (again). Both the OECD and the European Central Bank (ECB) have lowered the growth forecasts for Italy to negative numbers, and in what analysts see as a precautionary move, the ECB is reviving its sovereign bond buying programme, which it had started to unwind just five months earlier.

"Don't underestimate the impact of the Italian recession," is what French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told Bloomberg News (Horobin 2019). "We talk a lot about Brexit, but we don't talk much about an Italian recession that will have a significant impact on growth in Europe and can impact France, because it's one of our most important trading partners." More important than trade, however, and what Le Maire is not stating, is that French banks are holding around €385 billion of Italian debt, derivatives, credit commitments and guarantees on their balance sheets, while German banks are holding €126 billion of Italian debt (as of the third quarter of 2018, according to the Bank for International Settlements).

In light of these exposures to Italian debt, it is no wonder that Le Maire, along with the European Commission, is worried by Italy's third recession in a decade -- as well as by the growing anti-euro rhetoric and posturing of Italy's coalition government, comprised by the Five-Star Movement (M5S) and the Lega. The knowledge that Italy is too big to fail is fuelling the audacity of Italy's coalition government in its attempt to reclaim fiscal policy space by openly flouting the budgetary rules of the E.U.'s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

The result is a catch-22. The more the European Commission tries to bring the Italian government into line, the more it will feed the anti-establishment and anti-euro forces in Italy. On the other hand, the more the European Commission gives in to the demands of the Italian government, the more it will fritter away its credibility as the guardian of the EMU's Stability and Growth Pact. This stalemate is not going away as long as Italy's economy remains paralyzed.

A Crisis of the Post-Maastricht Treaty Order of Italian Capitalism

It is therefore vital to understand the true origins of Italy's economic crisis in order to find pathways out of Italy's permanent stagnation. In a new paper , I provide an evidence-based pathology of Italy's recession -- which, I argue, must be regarded as a crisis of the post-Maastricht Treaty order of Italian capitalism, as Thomas Fazi (2018) calls it. Until the early 1990s, Italy enjoyed decades of relatively robust economic growth, during which it managed to catch up with other Eurozone nations in income (per person) (Figure 1). In 1960, Italy's per capita GDP (at constant 2010 prices) was 85% of French per capita GDP and 74% of (weighted average) per capita GDP in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands (the Euro-4 economies). By the mid-1990s, Italy had almost caught up with France (Italian GDP per person equalled 97% of French per capita income) and also with the Euro-4 (Italian GDP per capita was 94% of per capita GDP in the Euro-4).
Figure 1

Three decades of catching up, 25 years of falling behind: real GDP per person in Italy relative to France/Euro-4, 1960-2018

Source : author's calculation based on AMECO data.

But then a very steady decline began (see Figure 1), erasing decades of (income) convergence. The income gap between Italy and France is now (as of 2018) 18 percentage points, which is more than what it was in 1960; Italian GDP per capita is 76% of per capita GDP in the Euro-4 economies. Beginning in the early to mid-1990s, Italy's economy began to stumble and then fall behind, as all major indicators -- income per person, labour productivity, investment, export market shares, etc. -- began a very steady decline.

It is not a coincidence that the sudden reversal of Italy's economic fortunes occurred after Italy's adoption of the "legal and policy superstructure" imposed by the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, which cleared the road for the establishment of the EMU in 1999 and the introduction of the common currency in 2002. Italy, as I show in the paper, has been the star pupil in the Eurozone class -- the one economy that committed itself most strongly and consistently to the fiscal austerity and structural reforms that form the essence of the EMU macroeconomic rulebook (Costantini 2017, 2018). Italy kept closer to the rules than France and Germany and paid heavily for this: The permanent fiscal consolidation, the persistent wage restraint and the overvalued exchange rate killed Italian aggregate demand -- and the demand shortage asphyxiated the growth of output, productivity, jobs and incomes. Italy's stasis is an object lesson for all Eurozone economies, but -- paraphrasing G.B. Shaw -- as a warning, not as an example.

Perpetual Fiscal Austerity

Italy did more than most other Eurozone members in terms of self-imposed austerity and structural reform in order to satisfy the conditions of EMU (Halevi 2019). This is clear when comparing Italy's fiscal policy post-1992 to that of France and Germany. Various Italian governments ran continuous primary budget surpluses (defined as public expenditure excluding interest payments on public debt, minus public revenue), averaging 3% of GDP per year during 1995-2008. French governments, in contrast, ran primary deficits of 0.1% of GDP each year on average during the same period, while German governments managed to generate a primary surplus of 0.7% on average per year during those same 14 years. Italy's permanent primary surpluses during 1995-2008 would have reduced its public debt-to-GDP ratio by around 40 percentage points -- from 117% in 1994 to 77% in 2008 (while keeping all other factors constant). But slow (nominal) growth relative to high (nominal) interest rates pushed up the debt ratio by 23 percentage points and washed away more than half of the public debt-to-GDP reductions of 40 percentage points achieved by austerity. Could it be true that Italy's permanent austerity, intended to lower the debt ratio by running permanent primary surpluses, backfired because it slowed down economic growth?

Italy's governments (including the left-of-centre Renzi coalition) continued to run significant primary budget surpluses (of more than 1.3% of GDP on average per year) during the crisis period of 2008-2018. Showing permanent fiscal discipline was a top priority, as Prime Minister Mario Monti admitted in a 2012 interview with CNN, even if that meant "destroying domestic demand" and pushing the economy into decline. Italy's almost "Swabian" commitment to fiscal discipline stands in some contrast to the French (" laissez aller ") attitudes: The French government ran primary deficits at an average of 2% of GDP during 2008-2018 and allowed its public debt-to-GDP ratio to rise to almost 100% in 2018. The cumulative fiscal stimulus thus provided by the French state amounted to €461 billion (in constant 2010 prices), whereas the cumulative fiscal drain on Italian domestic demand was €227 billion. The Italian budget cuts show up in non-trivial declines in its public expenditure on social expenditure per person, which is now (as of 2018) around 70% of public social spending per capita in Germany and France. One doesn't dare speculate what the "Gilets Jaunes" (yellow vest) protests in France would have looked like if France had put through an Italian-style fiscal consolidation post-2008.

Permanent Real Wage Restraint

When Italy signed the Maastricht Treaty, its high rates of inflation and unemployment were regarded as major problems. Inflation was blamed on the "excessive" power of labour unions and an "excessively" centralized wage bargaining system, which resulted in strong wage-push inflation and a profit squeeze -- as wage growth tended to exceed labour productivity growth, which lowered the profit share. Seen this way, the blame for Italy's high unemployment could be shifted onto its "rigid" labour markets and too strongly protected "worker aristocracy." Bringing down inflation and restoring profitability required wage moderation, which in turn could only be achieved by a radical deregulation of labour markets, or what is euphemistically called, "structural reforms."

Italy does not have a statutory minimum wage (unlike France) and also does not have a generous unemployment benefit system (in terms of unemployment insurance replacement rates and duration, and entitlement conditions) compared with the E.U. average. Employment protection for regular employees in Italy is roughly at the same level as job protection in France and Germany. Italy's structural labour market reforms involved drastically reducing employment protection for temporary workers, and as a result, the share of temporary workers in total Italian employment increased from 10% during 1991-1993 to 18.5% in 2017. Between 1992 and 2008, total (net) employment in Italy increased by 2.4 million new jobs, of which almost three-quarters (73%) were fixed-term jobs. In France, by comparison, (net) employment grew by 3.6 million jobs during 1992-2008, of which 84% were regular (permanent) jobs and only 16% were temporary positions.

In addition, the bargaining power of unions was reduced by the abandoning of the target of full employment in favour of public debt reduction (Costantini 2017) and by a much more restrictive (anti-inflation) central bank policy and the fixed exchange rate. As a result, real wage growth per employee, which averaged 3.2% per year during 1960-1992, was lowered to a mere 0.1% per year during the period 1992-1999 and to 0.6% per annum during 1999-2008. Within the E.U., Italy's turnaround was remarkable: From 1992 through 2008, the growth of Italian real wages per worker (0.35% per year) was only half the real wage growth in the Euro-4 (0.7% per annum) and it was even lower compared to real wage growth in France (0.9% per year). Interestingly, from 1992 through2008, Italian real wage growth per employee was slightly lower than (already stingy) German real wage growth (0.4% per year). To see the long-run picture, Figure 2 plots the ratio of the real wage of an Italian worker to the real wage of the average French, German and Euro-4 worker from 1960 through2018. In the early 1960s, the average wage of Italian workers was about 85% of the French wage, and this ratio increased to 92% in 1990-1991. Starting in 1992, the Italian real wage began a steady decline in terms of the average French wage -- and in 2018, the average Italian employee earned only 75% of the wage earned by her/his French comrade. The wage gap between Italy and France is bigger today than it was in the 1960s. The same pattern holds when one compares Italian wages to German and/or Euro-4 wages.
Figure 2

Three decades of catching up, 25 years of falling behind: real wage per employee in Italy relative to France / Germany / Euro-4, 1960-2018

Source : author's calculation based on AMECO data.

Italy's wage moderation proved an effective strategy to kill three (not just two) birds with only one stone. First, wage restraint helped to bring down inflation -- to 3.4% on average per year from 1992 through 1999 (from 9.6% on average per annum from 1960-1992) and further down to 2.5% per year from 1999 through 2008 and 1.1% from 2008 through 2018. Italy is no longer prone, in a structural sense, to high and accelerating inflation. Second, wage restraint increased the labour intensity of Italy's GDP growth -- and thus reduced unemployment. Italy's unemployment rate peaked in the mid-1990s at more than 11%, but labour market deregulation and wage restraint successfully brought down unemployment to 6.1% in 2007 and 6.7% in 2008 -- which was lower than the unemployment rates of France (which equaled 8% in 2007 and 7.4% in 2008) and Germany (where unemployment was 8.5% in 2007 and 7.4% in 2008). Finally, as intended, wage moderation led to a substantial increase in the profit share of Italy's GDP: The profit share rose by more than 5.5 percentage points, from 36% in 1991 to about 41.5% from 2000 through 2002, after which it stabilized around 40% until 2008. During the 1990s, the recovery of the profit share was considerably stronger in Italy than in France, and comparable to what happened in Germany -- notwithstanding the fact that Italy's profit share was already relatively high to begin with.

Italy's structural reforms of the 1990s paid off handsomely in terms of a higher profit share, in other words, and Italy's profit share remained substantially higher than that of France and Germany. With lowered inflation, effective wage restraint, declining unemployment, public indebtedness on the decline and the profit share considerably raised, Italy appeared to be set for a long period of strong growth. It did not happen. The operation was carried out successfully, but the patient died. According to the coroner's post-mortem, the cause of death was a structural lack of aggregate demand.

The Suffocation of Italian Aggregate Demand after 1992

By keeping close to the EMU rulebook, Italian economic policy created a chronic shortage of (domestic) demand. Domestic demand growth per Italian averaged 0.25% per year from 1992 through2018 -- a sharp decline compared to the domestic demand growth (of 3.3% per year) recorded from 1960 through1992 and also much below domestic demand growth (of 1.1% per person per year) in the Euro-4 countries. Italy's real export growth (per person) also declined, from 6.6% on average per year from 1960 through 1992 to 3% per year from 1992 through 2018. Average annual export growth (per person) was 4.4% in the Euro-4 countries from 1992 through 2018. Italy's chronic demand shortage reduced capacity utilization (especially in manufacturing) and this, in turn, lowered the profit rate. According to my estimates, capacity utilization in Italian manufacturing declined by a staggering 30 percentage points relative to capacity utilization in French manufacturing between 1992 and 2015.

The utilization rate of Italian manufacturing relative to German manufacturing declined from 110% in 1995 to 76% in 2008, and sunk further to 63% in 2015 -- a decline by a stunning 47 percentage points. Lower capacity utilization reduced the rate of profit in Italian manufacturing by 3 to 4 percentage points relative to French and German profit rates. This must have considerably depressed Italian manufacturing investment and growth. Let me emphasize the fact that Italy's profit rate declined even when the share of profits in income increased. This means that Italy's strategy of fiscal austerity and wage restraint proved to be counterproductive, because it failed to improve the profit rate: The drop in demand and capacity utilization had a bigger (negative) impact on firm profitability than the increase in the profit share.

As I argue in the paper, this condition of chronic demand shortage was created, in particular, by ( a ) perpetual fiscal austerity, ( b ) permanent real wage restraint, and ( c ) a lack of technological competitiveness which, in combination with an unfavourable (euro) exchange rate, reduces the ability of Italian firms to maintain their export market shares in the face of increasing competition of low-wage countries (China in particular). These three factors are depressing demand; reducing capacity utilization and lowering firm profitability; and hurting investment, innovation, and productivity growth. They are hence locking the country into a state of permanent decline, characterized by the impoverishment of the productive matrix of the Italian economy and the quality composition of its trade flows (Simonazzi et al. 2013).

Italy's manufacturing sector is not "technology intensive" and suffers from stagnating productivity. As Figures 3 and 4 illustrate, the cost competitiveness of Italian manufacturers vis-à-vis the Euro-4 countries depends on low wages and not on superior productivity performance. Whereas industrial workers in France and Germany were earning €35 per hour (in constant 2010 prices) in 2015, and their colleagues in Belgium and the Netherlands earned even more, Italian workers in manufacturing were bringing home only €23 per hour (in constant 2010 prices) -- or one-third less (see Figure 3). But at the same time, industrial labour productivity per hour of work is considerably higher in France and Germany (at €53 per hour in constant 2010 prices) than in Italy, where it is around €33 per hour (Figure 4). Italian manufacturers are thus taking the low road, while firms in the Euro-4 countries are travelling on the high road. Or in other words, compared with German and French manufacturers, Italian firms suffer from a lack of technological strength, which in Germany is based on high productivity, innovative efforts and high product quality. True, Italian firms do stand out for their high relative quality in more traditional, lower-tech export products such as footwear, textiles, and other non-metallic mineral products. But they have been steadily losing ground in export markets of more dynamic products characterized by higher levels of R&D and technology intensity, such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and communications equipment (Bugamelli et al. 2018).

Locked into a Position of Structural Weakness

For two reasons, this specialization in low- and low-medium technology activities locks the country into a quasi-permanent position of structural weakness. The first is that the exchange-rate elasticity of export demand is larger for traditional exports than for medium- and high-tech exports. As a result, the appreciation of the euro did hurt Italian exporters of traditional products harder than German and French firms exporting more "dynamic" goods and services. Thus, the overvalued euro penalizes Italian export growth more than it damages export growth in the Euro-4 economies.

The second factor is that Italian firms are operating in global markets which are more strongly exposed to the growing competition of low-wage countries and China in particular. In 1999, 67% of Italy's exports consisted of (traditional) products exposed to medium to high competition from Chinese firms -- compared to a similar exposure to Chinese competition of 45% of exports in France and 50% of exports in Germany (Bugamelli et al . 2018). The share of Italy's exports in world imports declined from 4.5% in 1999 to 2.9% in 2016 -- and the market share loss was heavily concentrated in more traditional market segments characterized by high exposure to Chinese competition (Bugamelli et al. 2018). As Chinese and other developing economy firms continue to expand their production capabilities and to upscale, competitive pressures will mount in medium- and medium-high tech segments as well. Italian firms have difficulties facing competition from low-wage countries: They are generally too small to wield any pricing power, too often single-product producers unable to diversify market risks, and too dependent on foreign markets, because their home market is in the doldrums.
Figure 3

Real wage per hour of work in manufacturing: Italy versus the Euro-4 countries, 1970-2015 (euro's, constant 2010 prices)

Source : author's calculation based on EU-KLEMS (Jäger 2017).

Figure 4 Manufacturing labour productivity per hour of work: Italy versus the Euro-4 countries, 1970-2015 (euro's, constant 2010 prices)

Source : author's calculation based on EU-KLEMS (Jäger 2017).

Italy's Permanent Crisis Is a Warning for the Eurozone

There are rational ways to get the Italian economy out of the current paralysis -- none of them easy, and all of them founded on a long-term strategy of "walking on two legs": (a) reviving domestic (and export) demand, and (b) diversifying and upgrading the productive structure and innovative capabilities and strengthening the technological competitiveness of Italy's exports (to get away from direct wage-cost competition with China). This means that both austerity and real wage growth suppression must stop. Instead, the Italian government should gear up for providing unambiguous directional thrust to the economy by means of higher public investment (in public infrastructure and "greening" and decarbonizing energy and transportation systems) and novel industrial policies to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and stronger technological competitiveness.

There is no dearth of constructive proposals by Italian economists to help their economy out of the current mess -- including Guarascio and Simonazzi (2016), Lucchese et al. (2016), Pianta et al. (2016), Mazzucato (2013), Dosi (2016), and Celi et al. (2018). These proposals all centre on creating a self-reinforcing process of investment-led and innovation-driven growth, orchestrated by an "entrepreneurial state" and founded on relatively regulated and co-ordinated firm-worker relationships, rather than on deregulated labour markets and hyper-flexible employment relations. These proposals might work well.

The same cannot be said, however, of the "one-leg" fiscal stimulus proposed by the M5S-Lega coalition government, the aim of which is a short-run revival of domestic demand by means of higher public (consumption) spending. None of the proposed spending will help solving Italy's structural problems. What is completely lacking is any longer-term directional thrust, or the second leg of a viable strategy -- which the neoliberal Lega will be unwilling to provide and the "progressive-in-name-only" M5S seems incapable of devising (Fazio 2018). Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

More importantly, any rational "two-leg" developmental strategy will be incompatible with sticking to the EMU macroeconomic rulebook and keeping financial markets calm, which are supposed to act as the disciplinarian of Eurozone sovereigns (Costantini 2018; Halevi 2019). This is clear from what happened when the M5S-Lega government came up with an expansionary Draft Budgetary Plan (DBP) for 2019. The total impact of the one-leg fiscal stimulus initially proposed in the 2019 DBP amounted to an estimated 1.2% of GDP in 2019, 1.4% in 2020 and 1.3% in 2021 -- and even this minute budgetary expansion triggered strong negative responses from the European Commission and increases in Italian bond yields.

Blanchard et al. (2018, p. 2) formalize this status quo in a mechanical debt-dynamics model and conclude that the 2019 DBP risks triggering "unmanageable spreads and serious crisis, including involuntary exit from the Eurozone." Blanchard et al . (2018, p. 16) argue for a fiscally neutral budget, which they think would lead to lower interest rates and "probably" (in their words) to higher growth and employment. Equations, graphs and technocratic econospeak are competently used to turn what in fact constitutes a very modest transgression of the EMU rulebook into a low-probability- catastrophic event -- which everyone would want to avoid (see Costantini 2018). What is tragic is that the 2019 DBP does not come close to what would be needed for a rational strategy. All the sound and fury is for nothing.

Worse still is the fact that maintaining Italy's status quo, which is what a fiscally neutral budget would mean, carries a real, but unrecognized low-probability, high-impact risk: a breakdown of political and social stability in the country. Continued stagnation will feed the resentment and anti-establishment, anti-euro forces in Italy. This will destabilize not just Italy, but the entire Eurozone. Italy's crisis thus constitutes a warning to the Eurozone as a whole: Continued austerity and real wage restraint, in combination with the de-democratization of macroeconomic policymaking, make for a "dangerous game" (Costantini 2018) -- a game which risks further empowering anti-establishment forces elsewhere in the Eurozone as well.

This is like opening Pandora's box. No one can tell where this will end. Economists (including Italians) carry an enormous responsibility in all this, both because they are much to blame for the chaos and because they fail to continue to unite behind rational strategic solutions to resolve the Italian crisis. "Perhaps," John Maynard Keynes wrote, "it is historically true that no order of society ever perishes save by its own hand" (Keynes 1919). Rational economists have to prove Keynes' verdict wrong, starting in Italy -- if only because the Brexit mess appears to be beyond redemption.

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Italy: How to Ruin a Country in Three Decades | <img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" />

Yikes , April 11, 2019 at 10:15 am

Article seems to ignore why Germany is holding so much Italian Debt, which to my reading is Germany wanted to create a captured market and kill off export competition with the foundation of a currency union at the exchange rates set and provision of easy credit for German goods, with the long term goal of creating a 4th Reich by means of capital slavery. Like climate change, many Italian intellectual elite knew this was going to happen, but that it would enrich them at the cost to both the old capital elite and working classes, with the bill falling due long after they had passed away.

DJG , April 11, 2019 at 11:55 am

When people talk about Italy being unstable: From the post, which describes the stability of austerity >

Italy kept closer to the rules than France and Germany and paid heavily for this: The permanent fiscal consolidation, the persistent wage restraint and the overvalued exchange rate killed Italian aggregate demand -- and the demand shortage asphyxiated the growth of output, productivity, jobs and incomes. Italy's stasis is an object lesson for all Eurozone economies, but -- paraphrasing G.B. Shaw -- as a warning, not as an example.

And people wonder why the Movimento Cinque Stelle arose? Or why Matteo Salvini, Trump imitator, now has so much influence?

All of the graphs show that the average person in Italy has been made poorer because of EU policies and the euro. The remarkable thing is that Italians still want to remain in the EU and in the euro because these supranational structures keep the Italian state in line. Yet job creation is stalled. There is a considerable brain drain. The Mezzogiorno is gradually losing population–emptying out because the economic prospects are so dire.

And the left is in collapse because of years of Renzi's Blairism / Clintonism.

This is all according to plan.

[Apr 10, 2019] Money-love [ , philochr matia] has always been extreme because wealth is addictive

Notable quotes:
"... "They're only up in arms if they believe that there is an alternative." ..."
"... "Evil essentially is predatory and destructive behavior. Socrates said that it ultimately is ignorance, because nobody would set out intentionally to do it. But in that case, evil would be an educational system that imposes ignorance and tunnel vision, distracting attention from understanding how economic society actually works in destructive ways." ..."
"... MH: It's becoming a second Gilded Age. An abrupt change of direction in economic trends occurred after Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected in 1979/80. The result has been to invert what the 19th-century economists understood to be a free market -- that is, a market free from a privileged hereditary class living on unearned income in the form of land rent, monopoly rent and financial extraction. ..."
"... JS: I was in my first few years of college when Thatcher came in in 1979, and when Reagan was elected in 1980. I asked my economics professors what was going on, but I could not find a single professor to coherently describe the U-turn that was occurring. It certainly wasn't in Paul Samuelson's textbook that we were given. ..."
"... Neoliberalism actually started with Carter in the late 1970's, and it was Volcker's monetary assault that helped lose him the election (and of course the Iran hostage crisis). ..."
"... The outcomes were not so predetermined and could have been Carter-Callaghan rather than the Reagan-Thatcher duo that did so much to force the world along the neoliberal path, and bring us "New" Neoliberal Labour (that Thatcher actually stated was her greatest achievement) ..."
"... I think evil takes on a life of its own. Over the course of civilization it gets standardized. But what I see happening right now is a bunch of apoplectic, frantic "oligarchs" with egg on their face begging us all to help them change. ..."
"... I don't wish to mount a defense of the Republican Elite; the system did pressure towards money-love. However, there were counter balancing features. Money was vital, but so was virtue. Honour, courage, dignity were ..."
"... A Roman aristocrat had to perform the minimum set required military campaigns. Only intellectual freaks such as Cicero could climb the hierarchy without making somekind of significant military achievement. ..."
"... Caesar won the Laural crown (?) through genuine acts of bravery. Roman aristocrats risked their lives & died in war. And their troops knew it. ..."
"... Systems of Survival ..."
"... Money addiction -- I have trouble reconciling that concept with the short-term biases of the wealthy and their seeming lack of interest in economic growth. They aren't happy with a bigger slice of pie from a bigger pie. They want grow their slice from the pie relative to everyone else -- even if the pie grows smaller. Money as power, and an insatiable lust for power is more consistent with the actions of the oligarchs. ..."
"... "That leaves the question facing us today: Is the American oligarchy and state as rapacious as that of Rome?" -- I'm not sure this post really answered that opening question. I believe the American oligarchy, while continuing in the long tradition of oligarchic depredation, is much more rapacious than that of Rome and much more dangerous as the world rushes toward collapse. After the fossil fuels are gone there are no more. The Climate is already lurching into chaos and may have already crossed a point of no near-term return to the relatively mild and stable climate immediately preceding the Anthropocene. ..."
Apr 08, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

hemeantwell , April 5, 2019 at 9:44 am

Money-love [φιλοχρηματία, philochrêmatia] has always been extreme because wealth is addictive

From what I've been able to glean regarding Roman society, wealth acquisition was strongly driven by the demands of a political order that was relatively unstructured and unstable, depending on imperial whims, favoritism, influence purchasing. In the eyes of a pleb it might look like elites were just whooping it up -- and that was certainly true -- but their fun had a systemic driver to it. To be sure you're in favor, or that your coalition is holding up, you need sesterces.

That's what the Romans told their provinces. Everything they did was always to preserve "good order," meaning open opportunities for their own wealth grabbing. They never said they were out to destroy and loot other societies.

This is largely true, but I was gobsmacked to find Caesar, in his Commentary on the Gallic Wars, serving up an extended quote of a Gallic "state" leader exhorting his followers to fight Caesar in order to escape slavery. Caesar even allows the guy to distinguish between earlier conflicts, in which another state would invade, plunder, and then leave, from conflicts with the Romans, in which the state would be occupied forever and its people enslaved. Brunt cites Caesar as boasting the wars gained 1,000,000 slaves, a figure he regards as inflated, but he also notes that other writers of the time didn't strongly dispute it.

hemeantwell , April 5, 2019 at 3:05 pm

I've got it on Kindle, so why not let Caesar report Critognatus' speech:

The Cimbri, after laying Gaul waste, and inflicting great calamities, at length departed from our country, and sought other lands; they left us our rights, laws, lands, and liberty.

But what other motive or wish have the Romans, than, induced by envy, to settle in the lands and states of those whom they have learned by fame to be noble and powerful in war, and impose on them perpetual slavery?

For they never have carried on wars on any other terms.

Carolinian , April 5, 2019 at 9:45 am

There's little logic for neoliberalism beyond a faith that short-term greed is the best way to optimize long-term growth.

Or as George H.W. Bush said: Voodoo economics. But he didn't stick to that position very long once Reagan took him on board.

Thanks again to NC for the great series. However this non economics person will very humbly repeat my objection that while money equals power, power doesn't necessarily have to be about money. I recently read a book about the history of the Plains indians and for them power was represented by horses–a kind of wealth to be sure–but also by bravery and skill at violence. So perhaps what we are really talking about is not economic systems and theories but this will to dominate that causes power to corrupt and creates the mindset that "too much is never enough." In other words the problem is really all about psychology with economics as a subbranch. A future era of better psychologists may produce better economists. Or here's hoping.

rod , April 5, 2019 at 11:29 am

"They're only up in arms if they believe that there is an alternative."

"Evil essentially is predatory and destructive behavior. Socrates said that it ultimately is ignorance, because nobody would set out intentionally to do it. But in that case, evil would be an educational system that imposes ignorance and tunnel vision, distracting attention from understanding how economic society actually works in destructive ways."

"If we don't go for it then somebody will and we'll lose out" was the frustrating bottom line for an iron worker I was speaking with about the proposal to drop a new NFL tax payer subsidized practice facility into our already development gridlocked area. Every point I made to him circled right back to this justification.

He just couldn't conceive of an alternative and I wasn't prepared enough to offer him others.

Because nowadays we must consider the economic tradeoff on everything–just like we are told.

which brings up that sweet definition of evil by MH–within the context of JS's question about enabling Climate Change

Watt4Bob , April 5, 2019 at 11:40 am

As soon as that guy becomes more concerned about feeding his kids, and less concerned about football stadiums, it's possible he'll be much more focused, more understanding, and willing to listen to your opinion.

georgieboy , April 5, 2019 at 11:47 am

MH: It's becoming a second Gilded Age. An abrupt change of direction in economic trends occurred after Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected in 1979/80. The result has been to invert what the 19th-century economists understood to be a free market -- that is, a market free from a privileged hereditary class living on unearned income in the form of land rent, monopoly rent and financial extraction.

JS: I was in my first few years of college when Thatcher came in in 1979, and when Reagan was elected in 1980. I asked my economics professors what was going on, but I could not find a single professor to coherently describe the U-turn that was occurring. It certainly wasn't in Paul Samuelson's textbook that we were given.

This interview with Mr. Hudson has been a fascinating education. Thank you, Yves.

That said, there is a tendency, at least in the tone of the interview, to ascribe a kind of insuperable power to top-down manipulation and control by the oligarchies of which Hudson speaks. My sense is that, instead, sometimes the mass of people want to be so free of one perceived set of problems that they support stepping into another -- as in the early 1980s.

MMT and "intelligent jubilee" (i.e., the opposite of what Geithner/Obama/Benanke did) supporters -- of which I am one -- might do well to consider what preceded the so-called Reagan revolution:

Rising inflation and unemployment in the 1970s were perceived to becoming inescapable in the US political landscape of the time.

The bad news about life in the Soviet Union was leaking out faster and faster in the late 1970s, once the American media lionized the cause of refuseniks like Natan Sharansky during the Carter years. (Remember Peter Jennings covering the trials and persecution of sweet, innocent, Natan Sharansky -- the wolf who dropped his sheep's clothing once he arrived in Israel?) Sometimes bad guys provoke important news about other, more powerful, bad guys.

Thousands of American workers came home from Moscow after Carter cancelled US participation in the 1980 Olympics -- with shocking tales of just how crappy the Russians had it.

Reagan beat Carter and Anderson 51-41-7 in 1980, and Reagan then whooped Mondale 59-41 in the 1984 popular vote. Job growth had picked up, the American media was generally happy to lead cheers for the US while pummeling the nasty Soviets. It felt like the Bear that is misfortune had been satisfied with catching the Russkis.

The old joke points out that we humans instinctively know we can't outrun the Bear; the natural tendency is to therefore sometimes focus on outrunning our neighbors, so the Bear is satisfied to get them. Our ancestors were selected for that feature.

As 'hemeantwell' noted, the fact that Caesar brought home lots of slaves casts a broader light (than Mr. Hudson's interview) on for whom Caesar's revolution was intended. How might MMT advocates wrestle with the push and pull of similar 'social identity' competitions when the Bear is seen to be coming?

JEHR , April 5, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Is it possible that the bear is just as frightened of the eagle as the eagle is of the bear?

deplorado , April 5, 2019 at 6:30 pm

The bear was frightened, I can tell you, I lived behind the Iron Curtain.

But there was a lot of talk about peace. A lot. Like – everywhere. And it was not fake. People looked on Americans with genuine interest and a bit of trepidation, and of course (what proved unhealthful) desire to emulate. And they wanted to be friends and learn from them. Look at C-SPAN videos of 1989, 1990 – for example one of Soviet banking officials at a seminar with US bankers – and you will see genuine, practically childlike belief that what the US experts and and banking practitioners were saying was gospel.

Btw I don't know whether the same talk of peace was present in the US at the time. What continually strikes me is how talk of peace is utterly absent in MSM now, has been for the last 20 years that I have observed.

Lots of common sense things are absent from MSM.

JEHR , April 5, 2019 at 12:13 pm

It's so beneficial to have Mr. Hudson and others who have studied ancient history from the point of view of how money and indebtedness works to share all this learning with us. How little is the difference between ancient oligarchs and modern ones! We think our civilization is so wonderful and enlightened when it is just another part of the old system of inequality playing itself out over and over again. I too wonder how long the wheel of fortune will take to complete this particular circuit, but with climate change skulking so near, it may not be long.

Roger Boyd , April 5, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Neoliberalism actually started with Carter in the late 1970's, and it was Volcker's monetary assault that helped lose him the election (and of course the Iran hostage crisis). The same in the UK, with the Labour government bringing in the IMF and fighting with the unions in the later 1970s to cause the "winter of discontent" that brought in Thatcher (and without the Falklands War Thatcher would have been out after one term). Labour could have called an earlier election and probably won, but decided not to in a huge tactical mistake.

The outcomes were not so predetermined and could have been Carter-Callaghan rather than the Reagan-Thatcher duo that did so much to force the world along the neoliberal path, and bring us "New" Neoliberal Labour (that Thatcher actually stated was her greatest achievement)

https://www.salon.com/2011/02/08/lind_reaganism_carter/

eg , April 5, 2019 at 4:17 pm

My only quibble would be to point out that you are referring to the neoliberal implementation -- it's tenets are rather older, dating back at least to the 1938 Walter Lippmann Colloquium.

icancho , April 6, 2019 at 2:20 pm

And well before that, as demonstrated clearly in Quinn Slobodian's recent "Globalists".

This stimulating book considers the historical development of the nexus of ideas and policy initiatives that fall under the umbrella term 'neoliberalism' -- the political-economic structures and processes that have given us expanding 'globalizing financialization', legal trade agreements that constrain national sovereignty, massively increasing asset and income disparities, and the consequent precariousness and stress -- even misery -- afflicting most of us.

Though neoliberalism's origin is commonly associated with the Mont Pèlerin Society, founded in 1947, and prominently with the figures of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, and more recently with Milton Friedman and the "Chicago Boys", Slobodian demonstrates that neoliberalism's roots reach much deeper -- into the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire -- indeed of all traditional off-shore empires -- following WW1, and in subsequent decolonization and the rise of new nations with aspirations of their own. In large part, neoliberal order, with its international trade deals, was a response to the "problem" posed by the demands of these diverse new nations to join the 'developed' world on an equal footing with their erstwhile colonial overlords, and to take sovereign control of their own resources.

So, contrary to conventional understanding, neoliberalism did not spring fully-formed, post-WW2, from the foreheads of Walter Lippman, von Mises, or Hayek; indeed, the cast of characters playing their parts in this developing drama is a rather large one, and their origins, interconnections, and contributions are many and diverse, and often surprising.

Scott1 , April 5, 2019 at 2:42 pm

Mankind survived the collapse of Rome. Barbarism was ascendent in the West. Civilization rose again. This time the collapse will result in barbarism at the best.

The world problem is Climate Change. Climate change is a product of overpopulation & portable energy as that which creates Climate change.

The US Treasury creates currency when Congress Votes a Bill that requires it. What is required is an MMT principled Fund that pays for renewables, energy capture, nuclear power and those new machines that suck CO2 out of the air & turn it into clean hydrocarbon fuels. The machine has been invented by Carbon Engineering. Takes up 30 acres. Hundreds of thousands are needed to stabilize CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Methane was never factored in very well into the 1970s understanding of what was then called Ecology. Now we know that the Methane being released by fracking and permafrost melting is already happening and will keep happening and accelerating so that there will be a Methane Bubble Melt. 10 to 15 years and all the Methane will melt.

I see what was expected to happen to earth with a population of 9 billion as happening at 7.5 billon or exactly where we are now. The expectation was that 9 billion was sustainable. 13 billion was said to be sustainable for 3 weeks.

Coral reefs are dying. Insects are dying. Diatoms are the bottom of the food chain in the oceans. They are dependent on coral reefs. Birds depend on insects and their populations are dwindling.

I consider MMT, the work of conceptual art that allows currency to be generated by bills passed by governments, or a World government, as a Last Chance Concept.

"The civilized work for what they want, while the barbarians steal what they want." In my civilization I am paid to do work. Concepts are made real as money is given out for what is not yet real. The young want to have families and the old want the world they helped build and make safe survive. Such compulsions are innate and often ethical. It is simply unethical to leave the world worse than you found it.

Idea to idea to real & Ideal is ideal. The American philosophy is ethical eclectic pragmatism. Climate Change is not just to be fought because it will get hotter but because the food chain will collapse. Other than from the MMT Funding for what it will take to possibly protect the food chain, what have we?

Thanks

Susan the other` , April 5, 2019 at 3:00 pm

I think evil takes on a life of its own. Over the course of civilization it gets standardized. But what I see happening right now is a bunch of apoplectic, frantic "oligarchs" with egg on their face begging us all to help them change.

And none of us feel much warmth toward them. Somehow in the late 70s we the people, the laborers, small farmers, and mom & pops and small business got blamed for everything that went wrong. And austerity was force-fed to us. What went wrong was actually military hubris. Now there's an example of non-productive interest inflating away the empire. If the money had been used rationally we'd have created an equal, balanced society and encouraged others by our example. Humans have always chosen the things that work best. Somewhere, mid-century we freaked out and decided that we needed to control oil and growth but we were literally overtaken by our own successes – big agriculture, population growth and ponzi economics. The thing we have to do now is bring this mess back down to Earth. Requiring a fundamental change.

To change everything and turn it around. No more little tweaks of denial. Instead of the once successful "industrial" capitalism, what we must have now is environmental capitalism. Value and share the gains of preserving the planet. It sounds like a full reversion to a time before money, which is the symbol of material exploitation.

And it just so happens we still have the instinct for cooperation. The gains can be distributed to everyone. We just must find ways that preserve rather than destroy the planet. Same idea, different god. There are plenty of jobs to go around. We have good science and technology. We're not total idiots, yet. It only takes a minority of people to see the light and everything will change. I do think we are already there, except for the shouting, as they say.

Summer , April 5, 2019 at 4:59 pm

But those holding and near the levers of power are really sick and deluded individuals. And we have to understand this about the nukes (post 1945): They exist in case the USA loses a big war or doesn't get its way. Yes, that is the level of depravity that has developed.

flora , April 5, 2019 at 5:41 pm

Thanks so much for this series of posts on the ancient world and its comparison to today. I once read Seneca's "Letters from a Stoic" and was surprised to see/realize the considerable apparent overlap between stoicism – which was itself the continuation of an earlier tradition – and the early Christian church.

There is much in this series of posts to ponder.

The Rev Kev , April 6, 2019 at 12:00 am

A great article this with lots to chew on. What he says rings true from what I have read. After the second Punic war, Roman veterans found that the wealthy had seized their small farm holdings while they were gone and incorporated them into their own estates. These were to become the great Latifundium. Meanwhile, the dispossessed Romans veterans made their way to Rome and joined the plebs there. Over time, as the Roman army could not recruit these same type of landed men as the smaller holdings were being eliminated, the Romans had to resort to a professional standing body which no longer owed their allegiance to Rome but to whatever Roman general paid them – with disastrous results. Caesar was not the first here and the name Sulla also comes to mind. By the end of the empire the Romans were resorting to paying barbarian tribes to fight for them which worked, until it didn't. So in short, the greed of the wealthy in Rome destroyed the very thing that had made Rome so successful and resilient.

animalogic , April 6, 2019 at 8:09 am

I don't wish to mount a defense of the Republican Elite; the system did pressure towards money-love. However, there were counter balancing features. Money was vital, but so was virtue. Honour, courage, dignity were required.

A Roman aristocrat had to perform the minimum set required military campaigns. Only intellectual freaks such as Cicero could climb the hierarchy without making somekind of significant military achievement.

Caesar won the Laural crown (?) through genuine acts of bravery. Roman aristocrats risked their lives & died in war. And their troops knew it.

Other factors also tended to mitigate against the oligarchic instinct. For instance, Senators were legally barred from trade or money lending (& yes, they often got around such bans. ) Sumptuary laws were tried (& failed).

It should also be remembered that for all the economic polarisation, Roman citizenship was highly valued. The Roman's won the 2nd Punic , essentially because Hannibal fundamentally miscalculated -- Roman allies, Latins etc did not go over to Hannibal in hordes. They stayed loyal.

Mel , April 6, 2019 at 10:19 am

In Systems of Survival , Jane Jacobs meditated on different power structures. Some required virtus , steadfastness, etc., others, notably money power didn't.

Somebody, somewhere, wrote about alchemy's response to money, in seeking the Philosopher's Stone. That would be a chemical that could be transformed into anything in a chemical reaction, rather as money could in the market. I thought it was in Graeber's Debt , but it's not showing up there.

Amfortas the hippie , April 7, 2019 at 8:16 am

Philosopher's Stone= the Replicator Tech in Star Trek. costless production of basic needs. add in warp drive(=unlimited expansion, limited time-cost), and the inherent human traits that cause all the problems(ie: greed, etc) are overcome without having to fix/eliminate them just give them somewhere to go.(this is why i'm all for asteroid mining)

Mel , April 7, 2019 at 9:00 am

Boz Scaggs explained how money's unlimited shape-shifting power makes it infinitely attractive:

If you can be
Anyone you want to be,
Why'd you want to be
Someone else?

Jeremy Grimm , April 6, 2019 at 1:42 am

Several things trouble me about this post. People believe there is no alternative -- I disagree with that view. I'd restate the assertion as great efforts are and have been made to convince people there is no alternative. You don't need to be my age to learn a little about tax rates in the Eisenhower years. The economy did all right then. My impression talking with young people isn't that they believe there is no alternative, instead they have no idea how to make things change for the better, and neither do us old farts. Our democracy is broken. It no longer cares for the public good.

Money addiction -- I have trouble reconciling that concept with the short-term biases of the wealthy and their seeming lack of interest in economic growth. They aren't happy with a bigger slice of pie from a bigger pie. They want grow their slice from the pie relative to everyone else -- even if the pie grows smaller. Money as power, and an insatiable lust for power is more consistent with the actions of the oligarchs.

I think the concept of growth which shows up in several parts of the post needs some adjustment. Growth is tied to the consumption of fossil fuels as is increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Fossil fuels are nearing points of declining and unstable production. Unless growth can be decoupled from fossil fuels all the imperial control of what fossil fuels remain will do little but extend our time at the expense of others as we all race toward a point of collapse.

Some of the discussion of Neoliberalism confuses me. -- Neoliberalism is not the same as laissez-faire or neoclassical economics.

"That leaves the question facing us today: Is the American oligarchy and state as rapacious as that of Rome?" -- I'm not sure this post really answered that opening question. I believe the American oligarchy, while continuing in the long tradition of oligarchic depredation, is much more rapacious than that of Rome and much more dangerous as the world rushes toward collapse. After the fossil fuels are gone there are no more. The Climate is already lurching into chaos and may have already crossed a point of no near-term return to the relatively mild and stable climate immediately preceding the Anthropocene.

Thermonuclear weapons scattered in many hands adds existential danger to the threats posed by the American oligarchy and Power Elite structures and their insane lust for power.

Other than these quibbles, this is a remarkable series of posts presenting what to me is a very new view of the ancient world. It offers a much better understanding of the ancient world and some of its key literature and early writings. Time to order some books [I still haven't ordered a copy of "Forgive Them Their Debts" and now have to add a copy of this most recent book.]

McWatt , April 6, 2019 at 7:18 am

Had lunch with one of the "Chicago Boys" that Hudson describes as the source of economics current woes.

After that lunch, which was a discussion of many of Michael's themes, I completely agree with his assessment of what they have wrought. While the Chicago Boys may profess to have Mill and Ricardo as hero's, as Hudson does, Mills and Ricardo's theories are obliterated by the way the Chicago Boys have completely fallen in love with Ayn Rand's philosophy. Everyone is on their own. The rich are rich because they are naturally better at stuff than those who are not. They hate government regulation, they view government as the creator of problems, they have no compunction for watching the population sink into debt and penury. After all "it's their own look out".

Funny, when you read things abstractly on a wonderful site like Naked Capitalism, but then witness this terrible philosophy first hand, suddenly things are not so abstract. Michael's right.

[Apr 09, 2019] The ruthless neo-colonialists of 21st century

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The destruction of Syria and Libya created massive refugee flows which have proved that the European Union was totally unprepared to deal with such a major issue. On top of that, the latest years, we have witnessed a rapid rise of various terrorist attacks in Western soil, also as a result of the devastating wars in Syria and Libya. ..."
"... Whenever they wanted to blame someone for some serious terrorist attacks, they had a scapegoat ready for them, even if they had evidence that Libya was not behind these attacks. When Gaddafi falsely admitted that he had weapons of mass destruction in order to gain some relief from the Western sanctions, they presented him as a responsible leader who, was ready to cooperate. Of course, his last role was to play again the 'bad guy' who had to be removed. ..."
"... Despite the rise of Donald Trump in power, the neoliberal forces will push further for the expansion of the neoliberal doctrine in the rival field of the Sino-Russian alliance. ..."
"... We see, however, that the Western alliances are entering a period of severe crisis. The US has failed to control the situation in Middle East and Libya. The ruthless neo-colonialists will not hesitate to confront Russia and China directly, if they see that they continue to lose control in the global geopolitical arena. The accumulation of military presence of NATO next to the Russian borders, as well as, the accumulation of military presence of the US in Asia-Pacific, show that this is an undeniable fact. ..."
Apr 09, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

The start of current decade revealed the most ruthless face of a global neo-colonialism. From Syria and Libya to Europe and Latin America, the old colonial powers of the West tried to rebound against an oncoming rival bloc led by Russia and China, which starts to threaten their global domination.

Inside a multi-polar, complex terrain of geopolitical games, the big players start to abandon the old-fashioned, inefficient direct wars. They use today other, various methods like brutal proxy wars , economic wars, financial and constitutional coups, provocative operations, 'color revolutions', etc. In this highly complex and unstable situation, when even traditional allies turn against each other as the global balances change rapidly, the forces unleashed are absolutely destructive. Inevitably, the results are more than evident.

Proxy Wars - Syria/Libya

After the US invasion in Iraq, the gates of hell had opened in the Middle East. Obama continued the Bush legacy of US endless interventions, but he had to change tactics because a direct war would be inefficient, costly and extremely unpopular to the American people and the rest of the world.
The result, however, appeared to be equally (if not more) devastating with the failed US invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US had lost total control of the armed groups directly linked with the ISIS terrorists, failed to topple Assad, and, moreover, instead of eliminating the Russian and Iranian influence in the region, actually managed to increase it. As a result, the US and its allies failed to secure their geopolitical interests around the various pipeline games.

In addition, the US sees Turkey, one of its most important ally, changing direction dangerously, away from the Western bloc. Probably the strongest indication for this, is that Turkey, Iran and Russia decided very recently to proceed in an agreement on Syria without the presence of the US.

Yet, the list of US failures does not end here. The destruction of Syria and Libya created massive refugee flows which have proved that the European Union was totally unprepared to deal with such a major issue. On top of that, the latest years, we have witnessed a rapid rise of various terrorist attacks in Western soil, also as a result of the devastating wars in Syria and Libya.

Evidence from WikiLeaks has shown that the old colonial powers have started a new round of ruthless competition on Libya's resources. The usual story propagated by the Western media, about another tyrant who had to be removed, has now completely collapsed. They don't care neither to topple an 'authoritarian' regime, nor to spread Democracy. All they care about is to secure each country's resources for their big companies.
The Gaddafi case is quite interesting because it shows that the Western hypocrites were using him according to their interests .

Whenever they wanted to blame someone for some serious terrorist attacks, they had a scapegoat ready for them, even if they had evidence that Libya was not behind these attacks. When Gaddafi falsely admitted that he had weapons of mass destruction in order to gain some relief from the Western sanctions, they presented him as a responsible leader who, was ready to cooperate. Of course, his last role was to play again the 'bad guy' who had to be removed.

Economic Wars, Financial Coups – Greece/Eurozone

It would be unthinkable for the neo-colonialists to conduct proxy wars inside European soil, especially against countries which belong to Western institutions like NATO, EU, eurozone, etc. The wave of the US-made major economic crisis hit Greece and Europe at the start of the decade, almost simultaneously with the eruption of the Arab Spring revolutionary wave and the subsequent disaster in Middle East and Libya.

Greece was the easy victim for the global neoliberal dictatorship to impose catastrophic measures in favor of the plutocracy. The Greek experiment enters its seventh year and the plan is to be used as a model for the whole eurozone. Greece has become also the model for the looting of public property, as happened in the past with the East Germany and the Treuhand Operation after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

While Greece was the major victim of an economic war, Germany used its economic power and control of the European Central Bank to impose unprecedented austerity, sado-monetarism and neoliberal destruction through silent financial coups in Ireland , Italy and Cyprus . The Greek political establishment collapsed with the rise of SYRIZA in power, and the ECB was forced to proceed in an open financial coup against Greece when the current PM, Alexis Tsipras, decided to conduct a referendum on the catastrophic measures imposed by the ECB, IMF and the European Commission, through which the Greek people clearly rejected these measures, despite the propaganda of terror inside and outside Greece. Due to the direct threat from Mario Draghi and the ECB, who actually threatened to cut liquidity sinking Greece into a financial chaos, Tsipras finally forced to retreat, signing another catastrophic memorandum.

Through similar financial and political pressure, the Brussels bureaufascists and the German sado-monetarists along with the IMF economic hitmen, imposed neoliberal disaster to other eurozone countries like Portugal, Spain etc. It is remarkable that even the second eurozone economy, France, rushed to impose anti-labor measures midst terrorist attacks, succumbing to a - pre-designed by the elites - neo-Feudalism, under the 'Socialist' François Hollande, despite the intense protests in many French cities.

Germany would never let the United States to lead the neo-colonization in Europe, as it tries (again) to become a major power with its own sphere of influence, expanding throughout eurozone and beyond. As the situation in Europe becomes more and more critical with the ongoing economic and refugee crisis and the rise of the Far-Right and the nationalists, the economic war mostly between the US and the German big capital, creates an even more complicated situation.

The decline of the US-German relations has been exposed initially with the NSA interceptions scandal , yet, progressively, the big picture came on surface, revealing a transatlantic economic war between banking and corporate giants. In times of huge multilevel crises, the big capital always intensifies its efforts to eliminate competitors too. As a consequence, the US has seen another key ally, Germany, trying to gain a certain degree of independence in order to form its own agenda, separate from the US interests.

Note that, both Germany and Turkey are medium powers that, historically, always trying to expand and create their own spheres of influence, seeking independence from the traditional big powers.

Economic Wars, Constitutional Coups, Provocative Operations – Argentina/Brazil/Venezuela

A wave of neoliberal onslaught shakes currently Latin America. While in Argentina, Mauricio Macri allegedly took the power normally, the constitutional coup against Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, as well as, the usual actions of the Right opposition in Venezuela against Nicolás Maduro with the help of the US finger, are far more obvious.
The special weight of these three countries in Latin America is extremely important for the US imperialism to regain ground in the global geopolitical arena. Especially the last ten to fifteen years, each of them developed increasingly autonomous policies away from the US close custody, under Leftist governments, and this was something that alarmed the US imperialism components.

Brazil appears to be the most important among the three, not only due to its size, but also as a member of the BRICS, the team of fast growing economies who threaten the US and generally the Western global dominance. The constitutional coup against Rousseff was rather a sloppy action and reveals the anxiety of the US establishment to regain control through puppet regimes. This is a well-known situation from the past through which the establishment attempts to secure absolute dominance in the US backyard.

The importance of Venezuela due to its oil reserves is also significant. When Maduro tried to approach Russia in order to strengthen the economic cooperation between the two countries, he must had set the alarm for the neocons in the US. Venezuela could find an alternative in Russia and BRICS, in order to breathe from the multiple economic war that was set off by the US. It is characteristic that the economic war against Russia by the US and the Saudis, by keeping the oil prices in historically low levels, had significant impact on the Venezuelan economy too. It is also known that the US organizations are funding the opposition since Chávez era, in order to proceed in provocative operations that could overthrow the Leftist governments.

The case of Venezuela is really interesting. The US imperialists were fiercely trying to overthrow the Leftist governments since Chávez administration. They found now a weaker president, Nicolás Maduro - who certainly does not have the strength and personality of Hugo Chávez - to achieve their goal.

The Western media mouthpieces are doing their job, which is propaganda as usual. The recipe is known. You present the half truth, with a big overdose of exaggeration. The establishment parrots are demonizing Socialism , but they won't ever tell you about the money that the US is spending, feeding the Right-Wing groups and opposition to proceed in provocative operations, in order to create instability. They won't tell you about the financial war conducted through the oil prices, manipulated by the Saudis, the close US ally.

Regarding Argentina, former president, Cristina Kirchner, had also made some important moves towards the stronger cooperation with Russia, which was something unacceptable for Washington's hawks. Not only for geopolitical reasons, but also because Argentina could escape from the vulture funds that sucking its blood since its default. This would give the country an alternative to the neoliberal monopoly of destruction. The US big banks and corporations would never accept such a perspective because the debt-enslaved Argentina is a golden opportunity for a new round of huge profits. It's happening right now in eurozone's debt colony, Greece.

'Color Revolutions' - Ukraine

The events in Ukraine have shown that, the big capital has no hesitation to ally even with the neo-nazis, in order to impose the new world order. This is not something new of course. The connection of Hitler with the German economic oligarchs, but also with other major Western companies, before and during the WWII, is well known.

The most terrifying of all however, is not that the West has silenced in front of the decrees of the new Ukrainian leadership, through which is targeting the minorities, but the fact that the West allied with the neo-nazis, while according to some information has also funded their actions as well as other extreme nationalist groups during the riots in Kiev.

Plenty of indications show that US organizations have 'put their finger' on Ukraine. A video , for example, concerning the situation in Ukraine has been directed by Ben Moses (creator of the movie "Good Morning, Vietnam"), who is connected with American government executives and organizations like National Endowment for Democracy, funded by the US Congress. This video shows a beautiful young female Ukrainian who characterizes the government of the country as "dictatorship" and praise some protesters with the neo-nazi symbols of the fascist Ukranian party Svoboda on them.

The same organizations are behind 'color revolutions' elsewhere, as well as, provocative operations against Leftist governments in Venezuela and other countries.

Ukraine is the perfect place to provoke Putin and tight the noose around Russia. Of course the huge hypocrisy of the West can also be identified in the case of Crimea. While in other cases, the Western officials were 'screaming' for the right of self-determination (like Kosovo, for example), after they destroyed Yugoslavia in a bloodbath, they can't recognize the will of the majority of Crimeans to join Russia.

The war will become wilder

The Western neo-colonial powers are trying to counterattack against the geopolitical upgrade of Russia and the Chinese economic expansionism.

Despite the rise of Donald Trump in power, the neoliberal forces will push further for the expansion of the neoliberal doctrine in the rival field of the Sino-Russian alliance. Besides, Trump has already shown his hostile feelings against China, despite his friendly approach to Russia and Putin.

We see, however, that the Western alliances are entering a period of severe crisis. The US has failed to control the situation in Middle East and Libya. The ruthless neo-colonialists will not hesitate to confront Russia and China directly, if they see that they continue to lose control in the global geopolitical arena. The accumulation of military presence of NATO next to the Russian borders, as well as, the accumulation of military presence of the US in Asia-Pacific, show that this is an undeniable fact.

[Apr 09, 2019] The USA increased trade surplus with Ukraine to $1.13 Billion. Considering Ukraine is impoverished and living on handout that's quite an achievement.

Apr 09, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

For its part, the United States insists on running Ukraine, appointing a special envoy – Kurt Volker – to preserve its feeling of international importance after it was pointedly left out of the Normandy Format; Meddlers R Us; we don't need no steenking invitations.

A glance over trade statistics suggests this was a wise choice for the Exceptional Nation – the year before the Glorious Maidan, Revolution of Dignity, the USA did around $3 Billion worth of trade with Ukraine, selling it $1.92 Billion worth of goods and services, and buying $1.03 Billion worth of goods and services from it, posting an American trade surplus of $888 Million. Last year the USA did around $4 Billion worth of trade with Ukraine, selling it $2.46 Billion in goods and services, and buying $1.35 Billion worth of goods and services from it, handsomely increasing the American trade surplus to $1.13 Billion. Considering Ukraine is impoverished and living on handouts, while the per-capita GDP has fallen by more than 6% despite the country having lost about 3 million people (Ukraine's population today is almost exactly what it was in 1960), that's quite an achievement.

[Apr 08, 2019] The Delphic Oracle Was Their Davos, by Michael Hudson and John Siman - The Unz Review

Apr 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

Note: Michael Hudson published and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure, and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year in November of last year. It is the first volume in what will be a trilogy on the long history of the tyranny of debt. I have interviewed him extensively as he writes the second volume, The Collapse of Antiquity.

John Siman : Michael, in the first volume of your history of debt -- "

ORDER IT NOW

and forgive them their debts , dealing with the Bronze Age Near East, Judaism and early Christianity -- you showed how over thousands of years, going back to the invention of interest-bearing loans in Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC, many kings from a variety of Mesopotamian civilizations proclaimed Clean Slate debt cancellations on a more or less regular basis. And you showed that these royal proclamations of debt amnesty rescued the lower classes from debt bondage, maintaining a workable economic balance over many centuries. Because these kings were so powerful -- and, let's say, enlightened -- they were able to prevent the social and economic polarization that is inevitable when there is no check on an oligarchic creditor class extracting exponentially increasing interest from debtors.

But now, as you write the second volume, your theme gets turned upside down. You are showing how the Greeks and the Romans learned about interest-bearing debt from their contacts with Middle Eastern civilizations, but tragically failed to institute programs of Clean Slate debt amnesty. Their failure has been a kind of albatross around the neck of Western economies ever since.

So I'd like to start this conversation in the late 500s BC, because we can see at that time the beginnings of both the Athenian democracy and the Roman Republic, plus of two more important civilizations. First was the Athens of Cleisthenes, who had led the overthrow the "tyrant" Hippias and became the father of Athenian democracy. Second, there was the Roman Republic of Lucius Junius Brutus, who overthrew the last of Rome's legendary kings, the "tyrant" Tarquinius Superbus.Third was the Persian civilization of Cyrus the Great. He was a "divine king," in many ways in the ancient tradition of Hammurabi. Fourth were the post-exilic Jews of Ezra and Nehemiah, who returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt the Temple and redacted the Bible. They were the inventors of the Jubilee years of Clean Slate debt forgiveness, even though they depicted the teaching as coming from Moses.

So, beginning with the late 500s BC, to what extent was the notion of Clean Slate debt amnesty remembered, and to what extent was it rejected?

Michael Hudson : Every kind of reform, from Mesopotamia to Greece, was put forth as if it simply restored the way things were in the beginning. There was no concept of linear progress in Antiquity. They thought that there was only one way to do things, so any reform must be the way the world was meant to be in the very beginning. All reformers would say that in the beginning everybody must have been equal. Their reform was aimed at restoring this state of affairs.

That's why, when Plutarch and even the Spartan kings in the third century BC talked about canceling debts and promoting equality, they said that they were simply restoring the original system that Lycurgus had created. But there was no sign that Lycurgus had really done these things. It was made up. Lycurgus was a legendary figure. So was Moses in the Jewish tradition. When the Bible was redacted and put together after the return from Babylon, they put debt cancellation and land redistribution -- the Jubilee Year -- right in the center of Mosaic Law. So it seemed that this was not an innovation, but what Moses said in the beginning. They created a Moses figure much like the Greeks created a Lycurgus figure. They said that this is how things were meant to be. This is how it was in the beginning -- and it just happened to be their own program.

This was a projection backwards: a retrojection. Felix Jacoby wrote that Athenian history was that way, basically party pamphleteering projecting their ideal program back to Solon or to whomever one might choose as a good guy to model. Writers would then say that this original good guy supported the program that they were proposing in their epoch. This was the ancient analogy to "Constitutional Originalism" in the United States as a frame for right-wing policies.

JS : So, ever since the 500s BC, the surefire way to critique the status quo has been to say you are trying to go back to the Garden of Eden or to some other pristine Saturnian Golden Age.

MH : Yes, you want to say that the unfair world around you isn't what was meant, so this couldn't have been the original plan, because the past had to be a successful takeoff. So the program that reformers always turned out to be what the Founding Fathers meant.

JS : That's veryinspirational!

MH : The key is to appear as a conservative, not a radical. You accuse the existing status quo as being the beneficiaries of the radicals who have distorted the original Fair Plan that you're trying to restore.

JS : So in the 500s BC we have Cyrus -- and his inscription on the Cyrus Cylinder -- boasting that he freed the Babylonians from their tax debt and bonds, and we have the post-exilic Jews proclaiming d'ror [דְּרֹ֛ור] in Leviticus 25, proclaiming "liberty throughout the land." We also have the reforms of Cleisthenes in Athens, isonomia [ἰσονομία, literally, equality under the law], a genuine attempt at democracy. But let's start with Rome. What do you want to say about the nova libertas , the "new liberty" proclaimed in Rome after the last king was expelled and the Republic was founded? Didn't Brutus and his wellborn friends boast that they were the institutors of true liberty?

MH : Liberty for them was the liberty to destroy that of the population at large. Instead of cancelling debts and restoring land tenure to the population, the oligarchy created the Senate that protected the right of creditors to enslave labor and seize public as well as private lands (just as had occurred in Athens before Solon). Instead of restoring a status quo ante of free cultivators -- free of debt and tax obligations, as Sumerian amargi and Babylonian misharum and andurarum meant -- the Roman oligarchy accused anyone of supporting debtor rights and opposing its land grabs of "seeking kingship." Such men were murdered, century after century.

Rome was turned into an oligarchy, an autocracy of the senatorial families. Their "liberty" was an early example of Orwellian Doublethink. It was to destroy everybody else's liberty so they could grab whatever they could, enslave the debtors and create the polarized society that Rome became.

JS : OK, but this program worked. The Republic grew and grew and conquered everyone else for century after century. Then the Principate became the supreme power in the Western world for several more centuries.

MH : It worked by looting and stripping other societies. That can only continue as long as there is some society to loot and destroy. Once there were no more kingdoms for Rome to destroy, it collapsed from within. It was basically a looting economy. And it didn't do more than the British colonialists did: It only scratched the surface. It didn't put in place the means of production that would create enough money for them to grow productively. Essentially, Rome was a financial rentier state .

Rentiers don't create production. They live off existing production, they don't create it. That's why the classical economists said they were supporting industrial capitalists, not British landlords, not monopolists and not predatory banks.

JS : This has all been forgotten, both in the United States and in England --

MH : Let's say, expurgated from the curriculum.

JS : Worse than forgotten!

MH : That's why you don't have any history of economic thought taught anymore in the United States. Because then you'd see that Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and the "Ricardian socialists" and indeed most of the 19th century had a completely opposite idea of what constituted a free market.

JS : Opposite? How so?

MH : Opposite from the neoliberal idea that freedom means freedom for the wealthy to indebt and destroy the economy. Opposite from the liberty of Brutus to overthrow the Roman kings and establish an autocratic oligarchy.

JS : So do we want to see the Roman kings as defenders of the people -- defending them from predatory oligarchs?

MH : Yes, especially Servius Tullius. There was a great flowering of Rome, making it attractive to immigrants by making the city livable for newcomers. They did this because at that time, in the 6th century BC, all societies had a shortage of labor. Labor was the factor of production in short supply, not land. Not even in Athens was land in short supply in the 6th and 5th centuries. You needed labor, and so you had to make it attractive for immigrants to join your society instead of having your people run away, as they would in a society run by creditors reducing clients to bondage.

JS : So you are writing about how Roman liberty was actually the liberty of oligarchic creditors from populist pressures for debt forgiveness. What of the d'ror of Leviticus 25 -- the liberty of the postexilic Jews? Did they actually proclaim years of Jubilee in which debts were forgiven and bondservants were returned to their families?

MH : After the Babylonian Jews returned to Jerusalem, I'm sure that they said that it was time for the land to be returned to its original owners -- and their families, by the way, were the original owners who were exiled in the Babylonian Captivity. I rely largely on Baruch Levine for this idea of the ge'ullah [גְּאֻלָּה], saying give us back our ancestral lands. [See thecolloquium Levine and Hudson co-edited on Land and Urbanization in the Ancient Near East , and their preceding volume on ancient privatization.] There must have been some kind of settlement along those lines. Unfortunately, the Judaic lands did not keep their records on on clay tablets that could be thrown out and recovered thousands of years later. We don't have any record of their economic history after the Return.

JS : Now I've brought along the transcriptions of several Egyptian papyri for you to look at. I also want to show you a papyrus in Aramaic from Judæa. It's not direct evidence that the post-exilic Jews were having Jubilee years, but it's indirect evidence, because it says that a particular debt has to be paid, even during a time of general debt amnesty, even if it falls due in a shmita [שמיטה], a sabbath year. So it sounds like the Jews were finding loopholes --

MH : It certainly sounds like it! Babylonian creditors tried a similar ploy, but this was disallowed. (We have court records confirming the realm's misharum acts.)

JS : In the Mosaic commandments to forgive debt, can we infer that there was some sort of program of debt forgiveness in place already in place in postexilic Jerusalem?

MH : Yes, but it ended with Rabbi Hillel and the Prozbul clause. Debtors had to sign this clause at the end of their debt contracts saying that they waived their rights under the Jubilee year in order to get a loan. That was why Jesus fought against the Pharisees and the rabbinical leadership. That's what Luke 4 is all about [ And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord" = the Jubilee year.] Luke also pointed out that the Pharisees loved money!

JS : Let me ask you about Egypt here. Unfortunately, as you said, the postexilic Jews did not leave us any clay tablets and almost no papyri, but we do have loads of papyri concerning the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt. So from, say, 300 B.C. to the death of Cleopatra, we have official evidence that the Egyptian kings proclaimed debt amnesties. Maybe one of the reasons, or perhaps the main reason for this, is because they were so powerful, like the Mesopotamian kings. So even though the Ptolemaic kings were biologically and genetically Macedonian Greek -- married to their sisters, too -- they aspired to rule in the ancient Egyptian pharaonic tradition of We Are God-Kings and We Own Everything in the Kingdom.

MH : Certainly the Hellenistic kings had the ancient pharaonic Sed festivals, which go back thousands of years and were a kind of jubilee. The Egyptians had regular debt cancellations, because under the pharaohs the debts that would have been cancelled were basically tax debts. They were owed to the crown, so he was cancelling debts owed to himself ultimately. And we see this thousands of years later in the trilingual stone, the Rosetta Stone, which the priests wrote for that young boy who was Ptolemy V. They explained to him that this is how Egypt always had done it, and to act as a pharaoh, he had to do the same.

JS : And I think it is worth pointing out here that the same verb-plus-noun combination for forgiving debts that the priests used in Greek on the Rosetta Stone is also used by Matthew in the Lord's Prayer [ἀφῆκεν/ἄφες ὀφειλήματα, aphēken/aphes opheilēmata]. It shows up in lots of papyri. The same Greek verb and noun, again and again and again.

But let's go back to the Greeks of the 500s BC. They are a couple of hundred years out of their Dark Age, so their society has been reconstituted after the demographic wipeout. It's been reconstituted, but without Near Eastern-style "divine kingship" and its Clean Slate proclamations. Just the opposite. Socrates had conversations with the rhapsodes who had memorized and recited the Iliad . Even in their great epic, the Greeks' legendary king of kings Agamemnon comes across as a kind of narcissistic loser. How would you describe Greek kingship, especially the so-called tyrants?

MH : There never really were Greek kings of the type found throughout the Bronze Age Near East and surviving into the first millennium in Assyria and even in Persia. The Greek polities that emerged from their Dark Age were run by what shrewd Classicists call mafiosi , something like the post-Soviet kleptocrats. They formed closed political monopolies reducing local populations to clientage and dependency. In one polity after another they were overthrown and exiled, mainly by aristocratic reformers from the elite families (often secondary branches, as was Solon). Later oligarchic writers called them "tyrants" as an invective, much as the word rex -- king -- became an invective in oligarchic Rome.

These tyrant-reformers consolidated their power by redistributing land from the leading families (or in Sparta, land conquered from Messenia, along with its population reduced to helotage) to the citizen-army at large all over Greece – except in Athens. That was one of the most reactionary cities in the 7th century, as shown by what is known about the laws of Draco. After some abortive coups in the seventh century, Solon was appointed in 594 to avoid the kind of revolution that had led reformer "tyrants" to overthrow narrow aristocracies in neighboring Megara and Corinth. Solon decreed a half-way reform, abolishing debt slavery (but not the debtor's obligation to work off debts with his own labor), and did not redistribute Athenian land from the city's elites.

Athens was one of the last to reform but then because it was such a badly polarized autocratic society, it swung -- like Newton's Third Law of Motion: every action has an equal and opposite reaction -- it swung to become the most democratic of all the Greek polities.

Some historians in the past speculated that Solon might somehow have been influenced by Judaic law or other Near Eastern practice, but this is not realistic. I think Solon was simply a pragmatist responding to widespread demands that he do what the reformers -- the so-called tyrants -- were doing throughout Greece. He didn't redistribute the land like they did, but he at least ended outright debt slavery. Free debtors (mainly cultivators on the land) were being seized and sold outside of Athens to slave dealers. Solon also tried to recover some of the land that wealthy families had grabbed. At least, that's what he wrote in his poems describing his actions.

So to answer your question, I think debt cancellations were not a diffusionist policy from the East, but a spontaneous pragmatic response such as was being widely advocated as far west as Rome with its Secession of the Plebs a century later -- followed by much of Greece in the 4th century BC, and Sparta's kings in the late 3rd century BC.

Poorer Athenians were so angry with Solon for being not revolutionary enough that he went into exile for 10 years. The real creators of Athenian democracy were Peisistratos [died 528/7 BC], his sons, also called tyrants, and then Cleisthenes in 507. He was a member of the wealthy but outcast family, the Alcmaeonidae, who had been expelled in the 7th century. Solon had allowed them to return, and they were backed by Delphi (to which the family contributed heavily). Cleisthenes fought against the other oligarchic families and restructured Athenian politics on the basis of locality instead of clan membership. Servius Tullius is credited for enacting much the same reform in Rome. Lewis Henry Morgan's Ancient Society [1877] described this restructuring of voting districts as the great watershed creation of western-style democracy.

JS : Let me go back now to the way Athens and the other poleis emerged from the Dark Age.

MH : Judging from the art and pottery, Greece didn't begin to recover until the 8th century BC.

JS : So we're talking about the 700s BC. As Greece was learning from the Near Eastern civilizations, everything from mythology to the alphabet to weights and measures --

MH : And commercial practices, credit practices.

JS : Yes, all this came from the Near East, including the practice of charging interest. But what about Clean Slate debt amnesty? I want to argue logically here -- not from any hard historical evidence, but only deductively -- that the Greeks would have wanted the concept of Clean Slate debt forgiveness, they would have wanted to learn this too from the Near East, but they could not do it because they were always going to lack a Hammurabi-style "divine king."

MH : I think you miss the whole point of how Western civilization evolved here. First of all, who "wanted" Near Eastern kingship? Certainly not the emerging oligarchies. The ruling elites wanted to use interest-bearing debt to enrich themselves – by obtaining control over the labor power of debtors.

Second, I don't think the Greeks and Italians knew about Near Eastern royal proclamations, except as an alien practice much further East than Asia Minor. Falling into debt was a disaster for the poor, but a means for their Western patrons to gain power, land and wealth. There is no record of anyone suggesting that they should be in the Near East. The connection between the Near East and Greece or Italy was via traders. If you're a Phoenician or Syrian merchant with the Aegean or Italy, you're going to set up a temple as an intermediary, typically on an island. Such temples became the cosmopolitan meeting places where you had the oligarchs of the leading families of Greek cities visiting each other as part of a Pan-Hellenic group. You could say that Delphi was the "Davos" of its day.

It was through these trading centers that culture diffused – via the wealthiest families who travelled and established relationships with other leading families. Finance and trade have always been cosmopolitan. These families learned about debt obligations and contracts from the Near East, and ended up reducing much of their local populations to clientage, without kings to overrule them. That would have been the last thing they wanted.

JS : So absent Hammurabi-style "divine kingship," is debt bondage and brutal polarization almost inevitably going to happen in any society that adopts interest-bearing debt?

MH : We see a balance of forces in the ancient Near East, thanks to the fact that its rulers had authority to cancel debt and restore land that wealthy individuals had taken from smallholders. These kings were powerful enough to prevent the rise of oligarchies that would reduce the population to debt peonage and bondage (and in the process, deprive the palace of revenue and corvée labor, and even the military service of debtors owing their labor to their private creditors). We don't have any similar protection in today's Western Civilization. That's what separates Western Civilization from the earlier Near Eastern stage. Modern financialized civilization has stripped away the power to prevent a land-grabbing creditor oligarchy from controlling society and its laws.

So you could characterize Western Civilization is being decadent. It's reducing populations to austerity on a road to debt peonage. Today's new oligarchy calls this a "free market," but it is the opposite of freedom. You can think of the Greek and Roman decontextualization of Near Eastern economic regulations as if the IMF had been put in charge of Greece and Rome, poisoning its legal and political philosophy at the outset. So Western Civilization may be just a vast detour. That's what my forthcoming book, The Collapse of Antiquity, is all about. That will be the second volume in my trilogy on the history of debt.

JS : So are we just a vast detour?

MH : We have to restore a balanced economy where the oligarchy is controlled, so as to prevent the financial sector from impoverishing society, imposing austerity and reducing the population to clientage and debt serfdom.

JS : How do you do that without a Hammurabi-style "divine kingship"?

MH : You need civil law to do what Near Eastern kings once did. You need a body of civil law with a strong democratic government acting to shape markets in society's overall long-term interest, not that of the One Percent obtaining wealth by impoverishing the 99 Percent. You need civil law that protects the population from an oligarchy whose business plan is to accumulate wealth in ways that impoverish the economy at large. This requires a body of civil law that would cancel debts when they grow too large for the population to pay. That probably requires public banking and credit – in other words, deprivatization of banking that has become dysfunctional.

All this requires a mixed economy, such as the Bronze Age Near Eastern economies were. The palace, temples, private sector and entrepreneurs acted as checks and balances on each other. Western Civilization isn't a mixed economy. Socialism was an attempt to create a mixed economy, but the oligarchs fought back. What they call a "free market" is an unmixed monolithic, centrally planned financialized economy with freedom for the oligarchy to impoverish the rest of society. That was achieved by landlordism monopolizing the land in feudal Europe, and it is done by finance today.

Part 2: Mixed Economies Today, Compared to Those of Antiquity

John Siman : Could you define what you mean by a mixed economy ?

Michael Hudson : There are many degrees of how "mixed" an economy will be -- meaning in practice, how active its government sector will be in regulating markets, prices and credit, and investing in public infrastructure.

In the 20 th century's Progressive Era a century ago, a "mixed economy" meant keeping natural monopolies in the public sector: transportation, the post office, education, health care, and so forth. The aim was to save the economy from monopoly rent by a either direct public ownership or government regulation to prevent price gouging by monopolies.

The kind of "mixed economy" envisioned by Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and other classical 19 th century free market economists aimed at saving the economy from land rent paid to Europe's hereditary landlord class. Either the government would tax away the land's rent, or would nationalize it by taking land out of the hands of landlords. The idea was to free markets from economic rent ("unearned income") in general, including monopoly rents, and also to subsidize basic needs to create a price-competitive national economy.

Long before that, in the Bronze Age -- which I describe in and forgive them their debts -- the palace reversed the buildup of personal and agrarian debts by annulling them on a more or less regular basis. This freed the economy from the overgrowth of debt that tended to build up chronically from the mathematical dynamics of compound interest, and from crop failures or other normal "market" phenomenon.

In all these cases a mixed economy was designed to maintain stability and avoid exploitation that otherwise would lead to economic polarization.

JS: So a mixed economy is still a market economy?

MH : Yes. All these degrees of "mixed economy" were market economies. But their markets were regulated and subordinated to broad social and political objectives rather than to personal rent-seeking or creditor gains. Their economic philosophy was long-term, not short-term, and aimed at preventing economic imbalance from debt and land monopoly.

Today's "mixed economy" usually means an active public sector undertaking investment in infrastructure and controlling money and credit, and shaping the context of laws within which the economy operates. This is best understood by contrasting it to what neoliberals call a "pure" or "market" economy – including what the Trump administration accuses China of when it proposes countervailing tariffs to shape the U.S. and international market in a way that favors American corporations and banks.

So it is necessary to clear the terminological slate before going into more detail. Every economy is a "market economy" of some sort or another. What is at issue is how large a role governments will play -- specifically, how much it will regulate, how much it will tax, how much it will invest directly into the economy's infrastructure and other means of production or act as a creditor and regulator of the monetary and banking system.

JS: What can we learn from the mixed economies of the Ancient Near East? Why were they so prosperous and also stable for so long?

MH : The Bronze Age mixed economies of Sumer, Babylonia, Egypt and their Near Eastern neighbors were subject to "divine kingship," that is, the ability of kings to intervene to keep restoring an economy free of personal and rural debt, so as to maintain a situation where the citizenry on the land was able to serve in the military, provide corvée labor to create basic infrastructure, and pay fees or taxes to the palace and temples.

Mesopotamian rulers proclaimed Clean Slates to keep restoring an idealized status quo ante of free labor (free from debt bondage). Babylonian rulers had a more realistic view of the economy than today's mainstream economists. They recognized that economies tended to polarize between wealthy creditors and debtors if what today are called "market forces" are not overridden -- especially the "market forces" of debt, personal liberty or bondage, and land rent. The task of Bronze Age rulers in their kind of mixed economy was to act from "above" the market so as to prevent creditors from reducing the king's subjects (who were their military defense force) to bondage from appropriating their land tenure rights. By protecting debtors, strong rulers also prevented creditors from becoming an oligarchic power in opposition to themselves.

JS: What kind of economic theories and economic models are the critics of mixed economies trying to advance?

MH : Opponents of a mixed economy have developed an "equilibrium theory" claiming to show that markets come to a natural, fair and stable balance without any government "interference." Their promise is that if governments will refrain from regulating prices and credit, from investing and from providing public services, economies will settle naturally at a highly efficient level. This level will be stable, unless "destabilized" by government "interference." Instead of viewing public investment as saving the economy from monopoly rent and debt peonage, the government itself is described as a "rent seeker" exploiting and impoverishing the economy.

JS: But is this sort of economic theory legitimate, or just a libertarian-sounding camouflage for neoliberal pillage?

MH : It's Orwellian Doublethink. Today's neoliberal theory justifies oligarchies breaking free of public control to appropriate the economic surplus by indebting economies to skim off the economic surplus as interest and then foreclose on personal landholdings and public property, overthrowing "mixed economies" to create a "pure oligarchy." Their idea of a free market is one free for creditors and monopolists to deny economic freedom to the rest of the population. The political extension of this approach in antiquity was to unseat kings and civic regimes, to concentrate power in the hands of an increasingly predatory class reducing the economy to bondage, impoverishing it, and ultimately leaving it to be conquered by outsiders. That is what happened to Rome in Late Antiquity.

Advocates of strong government have a diametrically opposite mathematical model. Ever since the Bronze Age, they recognized that the "natural" tendency of economies is to polarize between a wealthy creditor and land-owning class and the rest of society. Bronze Age rulers recognized that debts tend to grow faster than the ability to pay (that is, faster than the economy). Babylonian rulers recognized that if rulers did not intervene to cancel personal debts (mainly agrarian debts by cultivators) when crops failed, when military action interfered, or simply when debts built up over time, then creditors would end up taking the crop surplus and even the labor services of debtors as interest, and finally foreclosing on the land. This would have deprived the palatial economy of land and labor contributions. And by enriching an independent class of creditors (on their way to becoming large landowners) outside of the palace, financial wealth would express itself in economic and even military power. An incipient financial and landholding oligarchy would mount its own military and political campaign to unseat rulers and dismantle the mixed palatial/private economy to create one that was owned and controlled by oligarchies.

The result in Classical Antiquity was economic polarization leading to austerity and bondage, grinding the economy to a halt. That is the tendency of economies in "unmixed" economies where the public sector is privatized and economic regulation is dismantled. Land and credit was monopolized and smallholders became dependent clients and ultimately were replaced by slaves.

Mixed economies by the late 19 th century aimed at minimizing market prices for real estate and monopoly goods, and for credit. The economic aim was to minimize the cost of living and doing business so as to make economies more productive. This was called "socialism" as the natural outgrowth of industrial capitalism protecting itself from the most burdensome legacies of feudalism: an absentee landlord class, and a banking class whose money-lending was not productive but predatory.

JS: So mixed economies require strong and ultimately good governments.

MH : Any "mixed" economy has some basic economic theory of what the proper role of government is. At the very least, as in the 20 th century, this included the limitation of monopoly rents. The neoclassical (that is, anti-classical) reaction was to formulate a euphemistic theory of consumer "demand" -- as if American consumers "demand" to pay high prices for pharmaceuticals and health care. Likewise in the case of housing prices for renters or, for owner-occupied housing, mortgage charges: Do renters and home buyers really "demand" to pay higher and higher rents and larger and larger mortgages? Or are they compelled to pay out of need, paying whatever their suppliers demand ( e.g ., as in "Your money or your life/health").

So to answer your question, a mixed economy is one in which governments and society at large realize that economies need to be regulated and monopolies (headed by credit and land ownership) kept out of the hands of private rent-seekers in order to keep the economy free and efficient.

JS : Has there ever been a civil society that effectively implemented a mixed economy since, say, 500 BC?

MH : All successful economies have been mixed economies. And the more "mixed" they are, the more successful, stable and long-lasting they have been as a result of their mutual public/private checks and balances.

America was a mixed economy in the late 19th century. It became the world's most successful industrial economy because it didn't have an absentee landlord class like Europe did (except for the railroad octopus), and it enacted protective tariffs to endow a domestic manufacturing class to catch up with and overtake England.

JS : Other countries?

MH : Germany began to be a mixed economy in the decades leading up to World War I. But it had a mentally retarded king whom they didn't know how to restrain, given their cultural faith in royalty. China is of course the most successful recent mixed economy.

JS : Isn't it pretty brutal in China for most of the population?

MH : Most of the population does not find it brutal there. It was brutal under colonialism and later still, under Mao's Cultural Revolution. But now, most people in China seem to want to get rich. That's why you're having a consolidation period of trying to get rid of the local corruption, especially in the rural areas. You're seeing a consolidation period that requires clamping down on a lot of people who became successful through shady operations.

JS : So how would you describe an ideal society without a Hammurabi-style "divine kingship"? An ideal mixed economy?

MH : The credit system would be public. That way, public banks could create credit for socially productive purposes -- and could cancel the occasional overgrowth of debts without causing private creditors to lose and protest. The public sector also would own and operate the natural infrastructure monopolies. That was the basic principle of classical economics from Adam Smith to Marx, even for erstwhile libertarians such as Henry George. Everybody in the 19th century expected a mixed economy with governments playing a growing role, replacing absentee landlords, bankers and monopolists with public collection of economic rent, public control of the credit system and provider of basic needs.

JS : How extensive should the public sector be?

MH : A classical public sector would include the natural monopolies that otherwise would engage in price gouging, especially the credit and banking system. These sectors should be public in character. For one thing, only a public bank can write down the debts -- like student debts today -- without hurting an independent oligarchic financial class. If student debts and mortgage debts were owed to public banks, they could be written down in keeping with the reasonable ability to be paid. Also, public banks wouldn't make junk mortgage loans to NINJA borrowers, as did Citibank and the other crooked banks. A public bank wouldn't make predatory corporate raiding and takeover loans, or finance and speculate in derivative gambles.

Most of all, when the debt overhead becomes too large -- when a large corporation that is essential to the economy can't pay its debts -- public banks can write down the debt so that the company isn't forced into bankruptcy and sold to an American vulture fund or other vulture fund. It can keep operating. In China the government provides this essential service of public banks.

The key public concern throughout history has been to prevent debt from crippling society. That aim is what Babylonian and other third-millennium and second-millennium Near Eastern rulers recognized clearly enough, with their mathematical models. To make an ideal society you need the government to control the basic utilities -- land, finance, mineral wealth, natural resources and infrastructure monopolies (including the Internet today), pharmaceuticals and health care so their basic services can be supplied at the lowest price.

All this was spelled out in the 19 th century by business school analysts in the United States. Simon Patten [1852-1922] who said that public investment is the "fourth factor of production." But its aim isn't to make a profit for itself. Rather, it's to lower the cost of living and of doing business, by providing basic needs either on a subsidized basis or for free. The aim was to create a low-cost society without a rentier class siphoning off unearned income and making this economic rent a hereditary burden on the economy at large. You want to prevent unearned income.

To do that, you need a concept to define economic rent as unearned and hence unnecessary income. A well-managed economy would do what Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Marx and Veblen recommended: It would prevent a hereditary rentier class living off unearned income and increasing society's economic overhead. It's okay to make a profit, but not to make extractive monopoly rent, land rent or financial usury rent.

JS : Will human beings ever create such a society?

MH : If they don't, we're going to have a new Dark Age.

JS : That's one thing that especially surprises me about the United States. Is it not clear to educated people here that our ruling class is fundamentally extractive and exploitative?

MH : A lot of these educated people are part of the ruling class, and simply taking their money and running. They are disinvesting, not investing in industry. They're saying, "The financial rentier game is ending, so let's sell everything and maybe buy a farm in New Zealand to go to when there is a big war." So the financial elite is quite aware that they are getting rich by running the economy into the ground, and that this must end at the point where they've taken everything and left a debt-ridden shell behind.

JS : I guess this gets back to what you were saying: The history of economics has been expurgated from the curriculum.

MH : Once you strip away economic history and the history of economic thought, you wipe out memory of the vocabulary that people have used to criticize rent seeking and other unproductive activity. You then are in a position to redefine words and ideals along the lines that euphemize predatory and parasitic activities as if they are productive and desirable, even natural. You can rewrite history to suppress the idea that all this is the opposite of what Adam Smith and the classicaleconomists down through Marx advocated.

Today's neoliberal wasteland is basically a reaction against the 19 th century reformers, against the logic of classical British political economy. The hatred of Marx is ultimately the hatred of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, because neoliberals realize that Smith and Mill and Ricardo were all leading to Marx. He was the culmination of their free market views -- a market free from rentiers and monopolists.

That was the immediate aim of socialism in the late 19 th century. The logic of classical political economy was leading to a socialist mixed economy. In order to fight Marxism, you have to fight classical economics and erase memory of how civilization has dealt with (or failed to deal with) the debt and rent-extracting problems through the ages. The history of economic thought and the original free-market economics has to be suppressed. Today's choice is therefore between socialism or barbarism, as Rosa Luxemburg said.

JS : Let's consider barbarism: When I observe the neoliberal ruling class -- the people who control the finance sector and the managerial class on Wall Street -- I often wonder if they're historically exceptional because they've gone beyond simple greed and lust for wealth. They now seek above all some barbaric and sadistic pleasure in the financial destruction and humiliation of other people. Or is this historically normal?

MH : The financial class has always lived in the short run, and you can make short-term money much quicker by asset stripping and being predatory can by being productive. Moses Finley wrote that there was not a single productive loan in all of Antiquity. That was quite an overstatement, but he was making the point that there were no productive financial markets in Antiquity. Almost all manufacturing, industry, and agriculture was self-financed. So the reader of Finley likely infers that we modern people have progressed in a fundamental way beyond Antiquity. They were characterized by the homo politicus , greedy for status. We have evolved into homo œconomicus , savvy enough to live in stable safety and comfort.

We are supposedly the beneficiaries of the revolution of industrial capitalism, as if all the predatory, polarizing, usurious lending that you had from feudal times (and before that, from Antiquity), was replaced by productive lending that finances means of production and actual economic growth.

But in reality, modern banks don't lend money for production. They say, "That's the job of the stock market." Banks only lend if there's collateral to grab. They lend against assets in place. So the result of more bank lending is to increase the price of the assets that banks lend against -- on credit! This way of "wealth creation" via asset-price inflation is the opposite of real substantive progress. It enriches the narrow class of asset holders at the top of the economic pyramid.

JS : What about the stock market?

MH : The stock market no longer primarily provides money for capital investment. It has become a vehicle for bondholders and corporate raiders to borrow from banks and private funds to buy corporate stockholders, take the companies private, downsize them, break them up or strip their assets, and borrow more to buy back their stocks to create asset-price gains without increasing the economy's tangible real asset base. So the financial sector, except for a brief period in the late 19th century, especially in Germany, has rarely financed productive growth. Financial engineering has replaced industrial engineering, just as in Antiquity creditors were asset strippers.

The one productive activity that the financial sector engaged in from the Bronze Age onward was to finance foreign trade. The original interest-bearing debt was owed by merchants to reimburse their silent partners, typically the palace or the temples, and in time wealthy individuals. But apart from financing trade – in products that were already produced – you've rarely had finance increase the means of production or economic growth. It's almost always been to extract income. The income that finance extracts is at the expense of the rest of society. So the richer the financial sector is, the more austerity is imposed on the non-financial sector.

JS : That's pretty depressing.

MH : When I did the show with Jimmy Dore [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSvcB55R8jM ], he saw that the most important dynamic to understand is that debts grow more rapidly than the economy at large. The rate of interest is higher than the rate of growth. It may not be higher than the profit rate, but it's higher than the rate of growth. So every society that has interest-bearing debt is going to end up deeper and deeper in debt. At a certain point the creditors are paid at the expense of production and investment -- and soon enough they foreclose.

JS : And then?

MH : Then you have debt deflation. That is the norm. Austerity. It is not an anomaly, but the essence. The Babylonians knew this, and they tried to avoid debt deflation by wiping out the predatory personal debts, not the business debts that were commercial and productive. Only the non-commercial debts were wiped out.

JS : How could Modern Monetary Theory be used now, effectively?

MH : The main way is to say that governments don't have to borrow at interest from existing financial "savers," mainly the One Percent. The government can do what America did during the Civil War: print greenbacks. (The MMT version is the Trillion-dollar platinum coin.) The Treasury can provide the money needed by the economy. It does that by running a budget deficit and spending money into the economy. If you don't do that, if you do what Bill Clinton did in the last years of his presidency and run a budget surplus, then you force the economy to depend on banks for credit.

The problem is that bank credit is essentially predatory and extractive. The same thing happens in Europe. The Eurozone governments cannot run a budget deficit of more than 3 percent, so the government is unable to spend enough money to invest in public infrastructure or anything else. As a result, the Eurozone economy is subject to debt deflation, which is exacerbated by people having to borrow from the banks at high interest rates that far exceeds the rate of growth. So Europe is suffering an even more serious debt deflation than the United States.

JS : Is any of this going to change, either in Europe or here?

MH : Not until there's a crash. Not until it gets serious enough that people realize that there has to be an alternative. Right now Margaret Thatcher and the neoliberals have won. She said there was no alternative, and as long as people believe There Is No Alternative, they're not going to realize that it doesn't have to be this way, and that you don't need a private banking sector. A public banking sector would be much more efficient.

JS : How would you sum up Wall Street right now? Is it entirely predatory? Entirely parasitical? What are Wall Street's essential functions now?

MH : Number one, to run a casino. By far the largest volume at stake is betting on whether interest rates, foreign exchange rates or stock prices will go up or down. So the financial system has turned into a gambling casino. Its second aim is to load the economy down with as much debt as possible. Debt is the banking system's "product," and the GDP counts its "carried interest" penalties and late fees, its short-term trading gains as "financial services" counted as part of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The aim is to get as much of these financial returns as possible, and finally to foreclose on as much property of defaulting debtors as possible. The business plan -- as I learned at Chase Manhattan years ago -- is to transfer all economic growth into the hands of financial investors, the One Percent. The financial business plan is to create a set of laws and mount a campaign of regulatory capture so that all the growth in the economy accrues to the One Percent, not the 99 Percent. That means that as the One Percent's rentier income grows, the 99 Percent gets less and less each year, until finally it emigrates or dies off, or is put into a for-profit prison, which looks like a growth industry today.

JS : Is there a single good thing that Wall Street does? Is there anything good that comes out of Wall Street?

MH: You have to look at it as a system. You can't segregate a particular action from the overall economy. If the overall system aims at making money in predatory ways at somebody else's expense, then it is a zero-sum game. That is essentially a short-run business model. And politically, it involves opposing a mixed economy. At least, the "old fashioned" socialist mixed economy in which governments subordinate short-term gain-seeking to long-term objectives uplifting the entire economy.

As the Greek philosophers recognized, wealthy people define their power by their ability to injure the rest of society, so as to lord it over them. That was the Greek philosophy of money-lust [πλεονεξία, pleonexia ] and hubris [ὕβρις] -- not merely arrogance, but behavior that was injurious to others.

Rentier income is injurious to society at large. Rentiers define a "free market" as one in which they are free to deny economic freedom to their customers, employees and other victims. The rentier model is to enrich the oligarchy to a point where it is able to capture the government.

Part 3: The Inherent Financial Instability in Western Civilization's DNA

John Siman : It seems that unless there's a Hammurabi-style "divine king" or some elected civic regulatory authority, oligarchies will arise and exploit their societies as much as they can, while trying to prevent the victimized economy from defending itself.

Michael Hudson : Near Eastern rulers kept credit and land ownership subordinate to the aim of maintaining overall growth and balance. They prevented creditors from turning citizens into indebted clients obliged to work off their debts instead of serving in the military, providing corvée labor and paying crop rents or other fees to the palatial sector.

JS : So looking at history going back to 2000 or 3000 BC, once we no longer have the powerful Near Eastern "divine kings," there seems not to have been a stable and free economy. Debts kept mounting up to cause political revolts. In Rome, this started with the Secession of the Plebs in 494 BC, a century after Solon's debt cancellation resolved a similar Athenian crisis.

MH : Near Eastern debt cancellations continued into the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Empires in the first millennium BC, and also into the Persian Empire. Debt amnesties and laws protecting debtors prevented the debt slavery that is found in Greece and Rome. What modern language would call the Near Eastern "economic model" recognized that economies tended to become unbalanced, largely as a result of buildup of debt and various arrears on payments. Economic survival in fact required an ethic of growth and rights for the citizenry (who manned the army) to be self-supporting without running into debt and losing their economic liberty and personal freedom. Instead of the West's ultimate drastic solution of banning interest, rulers cancelled the buildup of personal debts to restore an idealized order "as it was in the beginning."

This ideology has always needed to be sanctified by religion or at least by democratic ideology in order to prevent the predatory privatization of land, credit, and ultimately the government. Greek philosophy warned against monetary greed [πλεονεξία, pleonexia ] and money-love [φιλοχρηματία, philochrêmatia ] from Sparta's mythical lawgiver Lycurgus to Solon's poems describing his debt cancellation in 594 and the subsequent philosophy of Plato and Socrates, as well as the plays of Aristophanes. The Delphic Oracle warned that money-love was the only thing that could destroy Sparta [Diodorus Siculus 7.5]. That indeed happened after 404 BC when the war with Athens ended and foreign tribute poured into Sparta's almost un-monetized regulated economy.

The problem, as famously described in The Republic and handed down in Stoic philosophy, was how to prevent a wealthy class from becoming wealth-addicted, hubristic and injurious to society. The 7 th -century "tyrants" were followed by Solon in Athens in banning luxuries and public shows of wealth, most notoriously at funerals for one's ancestors. Socrates went barefoot [ἀνυπόδητος, anupodêtos ] to show his contempt for wealth, and hence his freedom from its inherent personality defects. Yet despite this universal ideal of avoiding extremes, oligarchic rule became economically polarizing and destructive, writing laws to make its creditor claims and the loss of land by smallholders irreversible. That was the opposite of Near Eastern Clean Slates and their offshoot, Judaism's Jubilee Year.

JS : So despite the ideals of their philosophy, Greek political systems had no function like that of Hammurabi-like kings -- or philosopher-kings for that matter -- empowered to hold financial oligarchies in check. This state of affairs led philosophers to develop an economic tradition of lamentation instead. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Livy and Plutarch bemoaned the behavior of the money-loving oligarchy. But they did not develop a program to rectify matters. The best they could do was to inspire and educate individuals -- most of whom were their wealthy students and readers. As you said, they bequeathed a legacy of Stoicism. Seeing that the problem was not going to be solved in their lifetimes, they produced a beautiful body of literature praising philosophical virtue.

MH : The University of Chicago, where I was an undergraduate in the 1950s, focused on Greek philosophy. We read Plato's Republic , but they skipped over the discussion of wealth-addiction. They talked about philosopher-kings without explaining that Socrates' point was that rulers must not own land and other wealth, so as not to have the egotistical tunnel vision that characterized creditors monopolizing control over land and labor.

JS : In Book 8 of the Republic , Socrates condemns oligarchies as being characterized by an insatiable greed [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ] for money and specifically criticizes them for allowing polarization between the super-rich [ὑπέρπλουτοι, hyper-ploutoi ] and the poor [πένητες, penêtes ], who are made utterly resourceless [ἄποροι, aporoi ].

MH : One needs to know the context of Greek economic history in order to understand The Republic 's main concern. Popular demands for land redistribution and debt cancellation were resisted with increasing violence. Yet few histories of Classical Antiquity focus on this financial dimension of the distribution of land, money and wealth.

Socrates said that if you let the wealthiest landowners and creditors become the government, they're probably going to be wealth-addicted and turn the government into a vehicle to help them exploit the rest of society. There was no idea at Chicago of this central argument made by Socrates about rulers falling subject to wealth-addiction. The word "oligarchy" never came up in my undergraduate training, and the "free market" business school's Ayn Rand philosophy of selfishness is as opposite from Greek philosophy as it is from Judeo-Christian religion.

JS : The word "oligarchy" comes up a lot in book 8 of Plato's Republic . Here are 3 passages:

1. At Stephanus page 550c "And what kind of a regime," said he, "do you understand by oligarchy [ὀλιγαρχία]?" "That based on a property qualification," said I, "wherein the rich [πλούσιοι] hold office [550d] and the poor man [πένης, penês ] is excluded.

2. at 552a "Consider now whether this polity [ i.e . oligarchy] is not the first that admits that which is the greatest of all such evils." "What?" "The allowing a man to sell all his possessions, which another is permitted to acquire, and after selling them to go on living in the city, but as no part of it, neither a money-maker, nor a craftsman, nor a knight, nor a foot-soldier, but classified only as a pauper [πένης, penês ] and a dependent [ἄπορος, aporos ]." [552b] "This is the first," he said. "There certainly is no prohibition of that sort of thing in oligarchical states. Otherwise some of their citizens would not be excessively rich [ὑπέρπλουτοι, hyper-ploutoi ], and others out and out paupers [πένητες, penêtes ]."

3 at 555b: "Then," said I, "is not the transition from oligarchy to democracy effected in some such way as this -- by the insatiate greed [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ] for that which oligarchy set before itself as the good, the attainment of the greatest possible wealth?"

MH : By contrast, look where Antiquity ended up by the 2 nd century BC. Rome physically devastated Athens, Sparta, Corinth and the rest of Greece. By the Mithridatic Wars (88-63 BC) their temples were looted and their cities driven into unpayably high debt to Roman tax collectors and Italian moneylenders. Subsequent Western civilization developed not from the democracy in Athens but from oligarchies supported by Rome. Democratic states were physically destroyed, blocking civic regulatory power and imposing pro-creditor legal principles making foreclosures and forced land sales irreversible.

JS: It seems that Greek and Roman Antiquity could not solve the problem of economic polarization. That makes me want to ask about our own country: To what extent does America resemble Rome under the emperors?

MH: Wealthy families have always tried to break "free" from central political power -- free to destroy the freedom of people they get into debt and take their land and property. Successful societies maintain balance. That requires public power to check and reverse the excesses of personal wealth seeking, especially debt secured by the debtor's labor and land or other means of self-support. Balanced societies need the power to reverse the tendency of debts to grow faster than the ability to be paid. That tendency runs like a red thread through Greek and Roman history.

This overgrowth of debt is also destabilizing today's U.S. and other financialized economies. Banking and financial interests have broken free of tax liability since 1980, and are enriching themselves not by helping the overall economy grow and raising living standards, but just the opposite: by getting the bulk of society into debt to themselves.

This financial class is also indebting governments and taking payment in the form of privatizing the public domain. (Greece is a conspicuous recent example.) This road to privatization, deregulation and un-taxing of wealth really took off with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan cheerleading the anti-classical philosophy of Frederick von Hayek and the anti-classical economics of Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys.

Something much like this happened in Rome. Arnold Toynbee described its oligarchic land grab that endowed its ruling aristocracy with unprecedented wealth as Hannibal's Revenge. That was the main legacy of Rome's Punic Wars with Carthage ending around 200 BC. Rome's wealthy families who had contributed their jewelry and money to the war effort, made their power grab and said that what originally appeared to be patriotic contributions should be viewed as having been a loan. The Roman treasury was bare, so the government (controlled by these wealthy families) gave them public land, the ager publicus that otherwise would have been used to settle war veterans and other needy.

Once you inherit wealth, you tend to think that it's naturally yours, not part of society's patrimony for mutual aid. You see society in terms of yourself, not yourself as part of society. You become selfish and increasingly predatory as the economy shrinks as a result of your indebting it and monopolizing its land and property. You see yourself as exceptional, and justify this by thinking of yourself as what Donald Trump would call "a winner," not subject to the rules of "losers," that is, the rest of society. That's a major theme in Greek philosophy from Socrates andPlato and Aristotle through the Stoics. They saw an inherent danger posed by an increasingly wealthy landholding and creditor ruling class atop an indebted population at large. If you let such a class emerge independently of social regulation and checks on personal egotism and hubris, the economic and political system becomes predatory. Yet that has been the history of Western civilization.

Lacking a tradition of subordinating debt and land foreclosure from smallholders, the Greek and Italian states that emerged in the 7 th century BC took a different political course from the Near East. Subsequent Western civilization lacked a regime of oversight to alleviate debt problems and keep the means of self-support broadly distributed.

The social democratic movements that flowered from the late 19 th century until the 1980s sought to re-create such regulatory mechanisms, as in Teddy Roosevelt's trust busting, the income tax, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, postwar British social democracy. But these moves to reverse economic inequality and polarization are now being rolled back, causing austerity, debt deflation and the concentration of wealth at the top of the economic pyramid. As oligarchies take over government, they lorded it over the rest of society much like feudal lords who emerged from the wreckage of the Roman Empire in the West.

The tendency is for political power to reflect wealth. Rome's constitution weighted voting power in proportion to one's landholdings, minimizing the voting power of the non-wealthy. Today's private funding of political campaigns in the United States is more indirect in shifting political power to the Donor Class, away from the Voting Class. The effect is to turn governments to serve a financial and property-owning class instead of prosperity for the economy at large. We thus are in a position much like that of Rome in 509 BC, when the kings were overthrown by an oligarchy claiming to "free" their society from any power able to control the wealthy. The call for "free markets" today is for deregulation of rentier wealth, turning the economy into a free-for-all.

Classical Greece and Italy had a fatal flaw: From their inception they had no tradition of a mixed public/private economy such as characterized in the Near East, whose palatial economy and temples produced the main economic surplus and infrastructure. Lacking royal overrides, the West never developed policies to prevent a creditor oligarchy from reducing the indebted population to debt bondage, and foreclosing on the land of smallholders. Advocates of debt amnesties were accused of "seeking kingship" in Rome, or aspiring to "tyranny"(in Greece).

JS: It seems to me that you're saying this economic failure is Antiquity's original sin as well as fatal flaw. We have inherited a great philosophic and literary tradition from them analyzing and lamenting this failure, but without a viable program to set it right.

MH: That insight unfortunately has been stripped out of the curriculum of classical studies, just as the economics discipline sidesteps the phenomenon of wealth addiction. If you take an economics course, the first thing you're taught in price theory is diminishing marginal utility: The more of anything you have, the less you need it or enjoy it. You can't enjoy consuming it beyond a point. But Socrates and Aristophanes emphasized, accumulating money is not like eating bananas, chocolate or any other consumable commodity. Money is different because, as Socrates said, it is addictive, and soon becomes an insatiable desire [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ].

JS: Yes, I understand! Bananas are fundamentally different from money because you can get sick of bananas, but you can never have too much money! In your forthcoming book, The Collapse of Antiquity , you quote what Aristophanes says in his play Plutus (the god of wealth and money). The old man Chremylus -- his name is based on the Greek word for money, chrêmata [χρήματα] -- Chremylus and his slave perform a duet in praise of Plutus as the prime cause of everything in the world, reciting a long list. The point is that money is a singular special thing: "O Money-god, people never get sick of your gifts. They get tired of everything else; they get tired of love and bread, of music and honors, of treats and military advancement, of lentil soup, etc., etc. But they never get tired of money. If a man has thirteen talents of silver -- 13 million dollars, say -- he wants sixteen; and if he gets sixteen, he will want forty, and so forth, and he will complain of being short of cash the whole time."

MH: Socrates's problem was to figure out a way to have government that did not serve the wealthy acting in socially destructive ways. Given that his student Platowas an aristocrat and that Plato's students in the Academy werearistocratsas well, how can you have a government run by philosopher-kings? Socrates's solution was not practical at that time: Rulers should not have money or property. But all governments were based on the property qualification, so his proposal for philosopher-kings lacking wealth was utopian. And like Plato and other Greek aristocrats, they disapproved of debt cancellations, accusing these of being promoted by populist leaders seeking to become tyrants.

JS: Looking over the broad sweep of Roman history, your book describes how, century after century, oligarchs were whacking every energetic popular advocate whose policies threatened their monopoly of political power, and their economic power as creditors and privatizers of the public domain, Rome's ager publicus , for themselves.

I brought with me on the train Cæsar's Gallic War . What do you think of Cæsar and how historians have interpreted his role?

MH: The late 1 st century BC was a bloodbath for two generations before Cæsar was killed by oligarchic senators. I think his career exemplifies what Aristotle said of aristocracies turning into democracies: He sought to take the majority of citizens into their own camp to oppose the aristocratic monopolies of landholding, the courts and political power.

Cæsar sought to ameliorate the oligarchic Senate's worst abuses that were stifling Rome's economy and even much of the aristocracy. Mommsen is the most famous historian describing how rigidly and unyieldingly the Senate opposed democratic attempts to achieve a role in policy-making for the population at large, or to defend the debtors losing their land to creditors, who were running the government for their own personal benefit. He described how Sulla strengthened the oligarchy against Marius, and Pompey backed the Senate against Caesar. But competition for the consulship and other offices was basically just a personal struggle among rival individuals, not rival concrete political programs. Roman politics was autocratic from the very start of the Republic when the aristocracy overthrew the kings in 509 BC. Roman politics during the entire Republic was a fight by the oligarchy against democracy and the populace as a whole.

The patricians used violence to "free" themselves from any public authority able to check their own monopoly of power, money and land acquisition by expropriating smallholders and grabbing the public domain being captured from neighboring peoples. Roman history from one century to the next is a narrative of killing advocates of redistributing public land to the people instead of letting it be grabbed by the patricians, or who called for a debt cancellation or even just an amelioration of the cruel debts laws.

On the one hand, Mommsen idolized Cæsar as if he were a kind of revolutionary democrat. But given the oligarchy's total monopoly on political power and force, Mommsen recognized that under these conditions there could not be any political solution to Rome's economic polarization and impoverishment. There could only be anarchy or a dictatorship. So Caesar's role was that of a Dictator -- vastly outnumbered by his opposition.

A generation before Caesar, Sulla seized power militarily, bringing his army to conquer Rome and making himself Dictator in 82 BC. He drew up a list of his populist opponents to be murdered and their estates confiscated by their killers. He was followed by Pompey, who could have become a dictator but didn't have much political sense, so Caesar emerged victorious. Unlike Sulla or Pompey, he sought a more reformist policy to check the senatorial corruption and self-dealing.

The oligarchic Senate's only "political program" was opposition to "kingship" or any such power able to check its land grabbing and corruption. The oligarchs assassinated him, as they had killed Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus in 133 and 121, the praetor Asellio who sought to alleviate the population's debt burden in 88 by trying to enforce pro-creditor laws, and of course the populist advocates of debt cancellation such as Catiline and his supporters. Would-be reformers were assassinated from the very start of the Republic after the aristocracy overthrew Rome's kings.

JS: If Caesar had been successful, what kind of ruler might he have been?

MH: In many ways he was like the reformer-tyrants of the 7 th and 6 th centuries in Corinth, Megara and other Greek cities. They all were members of the ruling elite. He tried to check the oligarchy's worst excesses and land grabs, and like Catiline, Marius and the Gracchi brothers before him, to ameliorate the problems faced by debtors. But by his time the poorer Romans already had lost their land, so the major debts were owed by wealthier landowners. His bankruptcy law only benefited the well-to-do who had bought land on credit and could not pay their moneylenders as Rome's long Civil War disrupted the economy. The poor already had been ground down. They supported him mainly for his moves toward democratizing politics at the expense of the Senate.

JS: After his assassination we get Caesar's heir Octavian, who becomes Augustus. So we have the official end of the Republic and the beginning of a long line of emperors, the Principate. Yet despite the Senate's authority being permanently diminished, there is continued widening of economic polarization. Why couldn't the Emperors save Rome?

MH: Here's an analogy for you: Just as nineteenth-century industrial reformers thought that capitalism's political role was to reform the economy by stripping away the legacy of feudalism -- a hereditary landed aristocracy and predatory financial system based mainly on usury -- what occurred was not an evolution of industrial capitalism into socialism. Instead, industrial capitalism turned into finance capitalism. In Rome you had the end of the senatorial oligarchy followed not by a powerful, debt-forgiving central authority (as Mommsen believed that Caesar was moving toward, and as many Romans hoped that he was moving towards), but to an even more polarized imperial garrison state.

JS: That's indeed what happened. The emperors who ruled in the centuries after Cæsar insisted on being deified -- they were officially "divine," according to their own propaganda. Didn't any of them have the potential power to reverse the Roman economy's ever-widening polarization of the, like the Near Eastern "divine kings" from the third millennium BC into the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian and even the Persian Empire in the first millennium?

MH: The inertia of Rome's status quo and vested interests among patrician nobility was so strong that emperors didn't have that much power. Most of all, they didn't have a conceptual intellectual framework for changing the economy's basic structure as economic life became de-urbanized and shifted to self-sufficient quasi-feudal manor estates. Debt amnesties and protection of small self-sufficient tax-paying landholders as the military base was achieved only in the Eastern Roman Empire, in Byzantium under the 9 th – and 10 th -century emperors (as I've described in my history of debt cancellations in and forgive them their debts ).

The Byzantine emperors were able to do what Western Roman emperors could not. They reversed the expropriation of smallholders and annulled their debts in order to keep a free tax-paying citizenry able to serve in the army and provide public labor duties. But by the 11 th and 12 th centuries, Byzantium's prosperity enabled its oligarchy to create private armies of their own to fight against centralized authority able to prevent their grabbing of land and labor.

It seems that Rome's late kings did something like this. That is what attracted immigrants to Rome and fueled its takeoff. But with prosperity came rising power of patrician families, who moved to unseat the kings. Their rule was followed by a depression and walkouts by the bulk of the population to try and force better policy. But that could no be achieved without democratic voting power, so faith was put in personal leader -- subject to patrician violence to abort any real economic democracy.

In Byzantium's case, the tax-avoiding oligarchy weakened the imperial economy to the point where the Crusaders were able to loot and destroy Constantinople. Islamic invaders were then able to pick up the pieces.

The most relevant point of studying history today should be how the economic conflict between creditors and debtors affected the distribution of land and money. Indeed, the tendency of a wealthy overclass to pursue self-destructive policies that impoverish society should be what economic theory is all about. We'll discuss this in Part 4.

Part 4: A New "Reality Economics" Curriculum is Needed

John Siman: I want to spell out the implications of the points that Socrates brought up, and with which you and I agree. That leaves the question facing us today: Is the American oligarchy and state as rapacious as that of Rome? Or is it universally the nature of oligarchy in any historical setting to be rapacious? And if so, where is it all leading?

Michael Hudson : If Antiquity had followed the "free market" policies of modern neoliberal economics, the Near East, Greece and Rome would never have gained momentum. Any such "free market" avoiding mutual aid and permitting a wealthy class to emerge and enslave the bulk of the population by getting it into debt and taking its land would have shrunk, or been conquered from without or by revolution from within. That's why the revolutions of the 7 th century BC, led to reformers subsequently called "tyrants" in Greece (and "kings" in Rome) were necessary to attract populations rather than reduce them to bondage.

So of course it is hard for mainstream economists to acknowledge that Classical Antiquity fell because it failed to regulate and tax the wealthy financial and landowning classes, and failed to respond to popular demands to cancel personal debts and redistribute the land that had been monopolized by the wealthy.

The wealth of the Greek and Roman oligarchies was the ancient counterpart to today's Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector, and their extractive and predatory behavior is what destroyed Antiquity. The perpetuation of this problem even today, two thousand years later, should establish that the debt/credit dynamic and polarization of wealth is a central problem of Western civilization.

JS : So what were -- and are -- the political and social dynamic at work?

MH : The key is the concept of wealth addiction and how it leads to hubris -- arrogance that seeks to increase power in ways that hurt other people. Hubris is not merely over-reaching; it is socially injurious. The wealthy or power injure other people knowingly, to establish their power and status.

That is what Aristophanes meant when his characters say that wealth is not like bananas or lentil soup. Wealth has no object but itself . Wealth is status -- and also political control. The creditor's wealth is the debtor's liability. The key to its dynamic is not production and consumption, but assets and liabilities -- the economy's balance sheet. Wealth and status in the sense of who/whom. It seeks to increase without limit, and Socrates and Aristotle found the major example to be creditors charging interest for lending "barren" money. Interest had to be paid out of the debtor's own product, income or finally, forfeiture of property; creditors did not provide means of making interest to pay off the loan.

This is the opposite of Austrian School theories that interest is a bargain to share the gains to be made from the loan "fairly" between creditor and debtor. It also is the opposite of neoclassical price theory. The economics taught in universities today is based on a price theory that does not even touch on this point. The liberty that oligarchs claim is the right to indebt the rest of society and then demand full payment or forfeiture of the debtor's collateral. This leads to massive expropriations, as did the Junk Mortgage foreclosures after 2008 when President Obama failed to write down debts to realistic market values for real estate financed on loans far beyond the buyer's ability to pay. The result was 10 million foreclosures.

Yet today's mainstream economics treats the normal tendency to polarize between creditors and debtors, the wealthy and the have-nots, as an anomaly. It has been the norm for the last five thousand years, but economics sidesteps actual empirical history as if it is an anomaly in the fictional parallel universe created by the mainstream's unrealistic assumptions. Instead of being a science, such economics is science fiction.It trains students in cognitive dissonance that distracts them from understanding Classical Antiquity and the driving dynamics of Western civilization.

JS: This gets us back to the question of whether universities should just be shut down and started up all over again.

MH: You don't shut them down, you create a new group of universities with a different curriculum. The path of least resistance is to house this more functional curriculum in new institutions. That's what America's Republican and pro-industrial leaders recognized after the Civil War ended in 1865. They didn't shut down Harvard and Yale and Princeton and the Christian free-trade Anglophile colleges. They created state colleges funded by land grants, such as Cornell in upstate New York, and business schools such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, endowed by industrialists to providing an economic logic for the state's steel-making and related industrial protectionism. The result was an alternative economics to describe how America should develop as what they saw as a new civilization, free of the vestiges of Europe's feudal privileges, absentee ownership and colonialist mentality.

The Republicans and industrialists saw that America's prestige colleges had been founded long before the Civil War, basically as religious colleges to train the clergy. They taught British free trade theory, serving the New England commercial and banking interests and Southern plantation owners. But free trade kept the United States dependent on England. My book America's Protectionist Takeoff describes how the American School of Political Economy, led by Henry Carey and E. Peshine Smith (William Seward's law partner), developed an alternative to what was being taught in the religious colleges.

This led to a new view of the history of Western civilization and America's role in fighting against entrenched privilege. William Draper's Intellectual Development of Europe , and Andrew Dixon White's History of the Warfare of Science with Theology saw the United States as breaking free from the feudal aristocracies that were a product of the way in which antiquity collapsed, economically and culturally.

JS : So business schools were originally progressive!

MH : Surprising as it may seem, the answer is Yes, to the extent that they described the global economy as tending to polarize under free trade and an absence of government protectionism, not to become more equal. They incorporated technology, energy-use and the environmental consequences of trade patterns into economic theory, such as soil depletion resulting from plantation monocultures. Mainstream economics fought against such analysis because it advocated markets "free" for polluters, "free" for nations to pursue policies that made them poorer and dependent on foreign credit.

JS : So this is how the Wharton School's first professor of economics, Simon Patten, one of the founders of American sociology, fits into this anti- rentier tradition! That is such a revelation to me! They developed an analysis of technology's effects on the economy, of monopoly pricing and economic rent as unearned income that increases the cost of living and cost of production. They explained the benefits of public infrastructure investment. Today that is called "socialism," but it was industrial capitalists who took the lead in urging such public investment, so as to lower their cost of doing business.

MH : The first U.S. business schools in the late 19 th century described rentiers as unproductive. That is why today's neoliberals are trying to rewrite the history of Institutionalism in a way that expurgates the Americans who wanted the government to provide public infrastructure to make America a low-cost economy, undersell England and other countries, and evolve into the industrial giant it became by the 1920s.

JS : That was Simon Patten's teaching at the Wharton School -- government-subsidized public infrastructure as the fourth factor of production.

MH : Yes. America's ruling political class tried to make the United States a dominant economy instead of a rentier economy of landlords and financial manipulators.

JS : How did the robber barons fit into this story?

MH : Not as industrialists or manufacturers, but as monopolists opposed by the industrial interests. It was Teddy Roosevelt's trust-busting and the Republicans that enacted the Sherman antitrust act. Its spirit was continued by Franklin Roosevelt.

JS :Is today's economy a second age of robber barons?

MH : It's becoming a second Gilded Age. An abrupt change of direction in economic trends occurred after Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected in 1979/80. The result has been to invert what the 19 th -century economists understood to be a free market -- that is, a market free from a privileged hereditary class living on unearned income in the form of land rent, monopoly rent and financial extraction.

JS : I was in my first few years of college when Thatcher came in in 1979, and when Reagan was elected in 1980. I asked my economics professors what was going on, but I could not find a single professor to coherently describe the U-turn that was occurring. It certainly wasn't in Paul Samuelson's textbook that we were given.

MH : There's little logic for neoliberalism beyond a faith that short-term greed is the best way to optimize long-term growth. It is natural for the wealthiest classes to have this faith. Neoliberalism doesn't look at the economy as a social system, and it excludes as "externalities" concerns with the environment, debt dependency and economic polarization. It only asks how to make a short-term hit-and-run gain, regardless of whether this is done in a way that has a positive or negative overall social effect. Realistic economic logic is social in scope, and distinguishes between earned and unearned income. That is why economists such as Simon Patten and Thorstein Veblen decided to start afresh and create the discipline of sociology, to go beyond narrow individualistic economics being taught.

Today's mathematical economics is based on circular reasoning that treats all that has happened as having been inevitable. It is all survival of the fittest, so it seems that there is no alternative. This policy conclusion is built into economic methodology. If we weren't the fittest, we wouldn't have survived, so by definition (that is, circular reasoning), any alternative is less than fit.

Regarding the fact that you had to read Samuelson when you were in college, he was famous for his Factor Price Equalization Theorem claiming to prove mathematically that everybody and every nation tends naturally to become more and more equal (if government stands aside). He denied that the tendency of the global economy is to polarize, not equalize. The political essence of this equilibrium theory is its claim that economies tend to settle in a stable balance. In reality they polarize and then collapse if they do not reverse their polarizing financial and productivity and wealth dynamics are.

The starting point of economic theorizing should explain the dynamic that lead economics to polarize and collapse. That is the lesson of studying antiquity that we have discussed in our earlier talks. Writers in classical antiquity, like Bronze Age Near Eastern rulers before them and the Biblical prophets, recognized that a rentier economy tends to destroy the economy's productivity and widespread prosperity, and ultimately its survival. In today's world the Finance, Insurance,and Real Estate [FIRE] sector and monopolies are destroying the rest of the economy, using financial wealth to take over the government and disable its ability to prevent their operating in corrosive and predatory ways.

JS : Why aren't more people up in arms?

MH : They're only up in arms if they believe that there is an alternative. As long as the vested interests can suppress any idea that there is an alternative, that matters don't have to be this way, people just get depressed. In our third interview you spoke about Socrates and the Stoics producing a philosophy of lamentation and resignation. By his day there seemed no solution except to denounce wealth. When matters got much worse in the Roman Empire, wealth was abhorred. That became the message of Christianity.

What is needed is to define the scope of the alternative that you want. How can the economy grow when households, business, and government have to pay more and more of their revenue to the financial sector, which then turns around and lends its interest and related income out to indebt the economy even more? The effect is to extract even more income. Rising government debt and tax cuts for the rentiers lead to the privatization of public infrastructure and natural monopolies. Higher prices are charged for tolls to pay for public healthcare, education, roads and other services that were expected to be provided for free a century ago. Financialized privatization thus creates a high-rent, high-cost economy -- the opposite of industrial capitalism evolving into socialism to finally free society from rentier income.

JS: Wouldn't that be based on the insatiable desire [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ] for money and the super-rich [ὑπέρπλουτοι, hyper-ploutoi ] oligarchs in Book 8 of Plato's Republic ? So we get back to my question: Is the behavior of the super-rich a constant in human nature?

MH: Money-love [φιλοχρηματία, philochrêmatia ] has always been extreme because wealth is addictive. But their dynamic of credit -- other peoples' debts -- increasing at compound interest is mathematized and the economy is put on automatic pilot to self-destruct. Its business plan to "create wealth" by making financial gains at somebody else's expense, without limit. This kind of financial wealth is a zero-sum activity. The wealth of the creditor class, the One Percent, is achieved by indebting the 99 Percent.

JS: Why is it a zero-sum activity?

MH: A zero-sum activity is when one party's gain is another's loss. Instead of income paid to creditors being reinvested in means of production to help the economy grow, it's spent on buying more assets. The most wasteful examples are corporate stock buyback programs and financial raids. And the largest effect of financialization occurs as loans and Quantitative Easing simply bid up the price of real estate, stocks, bonds and other assets. The effect is to put housing and a retirement income further out of range of people who have to live by working for wages and salaries instead of living off absentee ownership, interest and financial asset-price gains.

JS: Why is this being done instead of investing in the economy to help the population live a better and more prosperous life?

MH: The tax and regulatory system is set up to make financial gains or create monopoly privileges. That is quicker and more certain, especially in an economy shrinking as a result of financialization and the austerity it imposes. It's hard to make profits by investing in a shrinking economy suffering from debt deflation and a squeeze on family budgets to pay for health care, education and other basic needs.

JS: So it becomes more about extraction. Let's come back to Global Climate Change and rising sea levels as a foundation of American foreign policy.

MH: Since the 19th century, American policy has been based on the recognition that GDP growth reflects rising energy use per capita. Rising productivity is almost identical with the curve of energy use per worker. That was the basic premise of E. Peshine Smith in 1853, and subsequent writers, whom I describe in America's Protectionist Takeoff: 1918-1914 . The policy conclusion is that if you can control the source of energy -- which remains mainly oil and coal -- then you can control global GDP growth. That is why Dick Cheney invaded Iraq: to grab its oil. It is why Trump announced his intention to topple Venezuela and take its oil.

If other nations are obliged to buy their oil from the United States or its companies, then it's in a monopoly position to turn off their electricity (like the United States did to Venezuela) and hurt their economies if they don't acquiesce in a world system that lets American financial firms come in and buy out their most productive monopolies and privatize theirpublic domain. That's why America's foreign policy is to monopolize the world's oil, gas and coal in order to have a stranglehold on the rate of growth of other countries by being able to deny them energy. It's like denying countries food in order to starve them out. The aim isto exploit Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America what Rome exploited its Empire.

JS: Would you be comfortable using words like evil to describe what's going on now?

MH : Evil essentially is predatory and destructive behavior. Socrates said that it ultimately is ignorance, because nobody would set out intentionally to do it. But in that case, evil would be an educational system that imposes ignorance and tunnel vision, distracting attention from understanding how economic society actually works in destructive ways. On that logic, post-classical neoliberal economics and the Chicago Boys are evil because their ideology breeds ignorance and leads its believers to act in ways that are injurious to society, preventing personal fulfillment through economic growth. Evil is a policy that makes most of society poorer, simply in order to enrich an increasingly wealth-addictive rentier layer at the top. Werner Sombart described the bourgeoisie as floating like a globules of fat on top of a soup.

JS: This is now happening on a path that follows an exponential extreme. I guess global warming makes it particularly evil. We're not simply talking about taking advantage of other people within a society, we're talking about destruction of the planet and its environment.

MH: Economists dismiss this as an "externality," that is, outside the scope of their models. So these models are deliberately ignorant. You could say that this makes them evil.

JS: That is what I've suspected since we started the Iraq War in 2003.

MH: America's military buildup, its anti-environmental policy and global wars are part of the same symbiotic strategy. The reason why America will not be part of a real effort to mitigate global warming is that its policy is still based on grabbing the oil resources of the Near East, Venezuela, and everywhere else that it can. Also, the oil industry is the most tax-exempt and politically powerful sector. If it also happens to be the primary cause of global warming, that is viewed as just collateral damage to America's attempt to control the world by controlling the oil supply. In that sense the environmental impasse is a byproduct of American imperialism.

JS: What's hopeful in the United States right now? What is a possible good outcome?

MH: T he precondition would be for people to realize that there is an alternative. Starting with wiping out of student debts, they can realize that the overall debt overhead can be wiped out without hurting the economy -- and indeed, rescuing it from the financial rentier class inasmuch as all debts on the liabilities side of the balance sheet have their counterpart on the asset side as the savings of today's financial oligarchy, which is doing to the U.S. economy what Rome's Senate did to the ancient world.

JS: How can people proceed from here?

MH: Understanding must come first. Once you have to have a sense of history, you realize that there is an alternative. You also see what happens when a creditor oligarchy gets strong enough to prevent any public power from writing down debts and to prevent attempts to tax it.

You have to do to America today what the Republicans did after the Civil War: You have to have a new university curriculum dealing with economic history, the history of economic thought and the real world's long-term development.

JS: And what would be the premise for such economic history?

MH: T he starting point is to realize that civilization began in the ancient Near East, and made a turn to oppose a strong public regulatory sector in Classical Greece and Rome. The long-term tension is the eternal fight by the oligarchy of creditors and large land owners to reduce the rest of society to serfdom, and to oppose strong rulers empowered to act in the economy's long-term interest by creating checks against this polarization.

JS : So how much longer does this go on -- for months, for years, for decades?

MH : It always goes on longer than you think it will. Inertia has a great elastic self-reinforcing power. Polarization will widen until people believe that there is an alternative and decide to fight for it. Two things are required for this to happen: First, a large proportion of people need to see that the economy is impoverishing them, and that the existing picture of what is happening is misleading. Instead of wealth trickling down, it is defying gravity and sucking income up from the base of the economic pyramid. People are having to work harder just to stay in place, until their life style breaks down.

Second, people must realize that it doesn't have to be this way. There is an alternative

JS : Right now most people think that government regulation and progressive taxation will make things worse, and that the wealthy are job creators, not job destroyers. They think that the system needs to be bolstered, not replaced, because the alternative is "socialism" -- that is, what the Soviets did, not what Franklin Roosevelt was doing. But today bailing out the banks and giving subsidies to new employers is said to be for our own good.

MH : That's what the Romans told their provinces. Everything they did was always to preserve "good o