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Disaster capitalism

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In her groundbreaking book The Shock Doctrine The Rise of Disaster Capitalism  Naomi Klein  has shown how From Chile in 1973 to Iraq today, neoliberals have repeatedly harnessed terrible shocks and violence to implement their radical policies or neoliberalization and debt enslavement of the weaker countries. This concept is closely related to the concepts of Military-Industrial Complex and Predator state. Amazon review of the book states:

Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine advances a truly unnerving argument: historically, while people were reeling from natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implemented policies that would never have passed during less muddled times. As Klein demonstrates, this reprehensible game of bait-and-switch isn't just some relic from the bad old days. It's alive and well in contemporary society, and coming soon to a disaster area near you.

"At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq'' civil war, a new law is unveiled that will allow Shell and BP to claim the country's vast oil reserves… Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly outsources the running of the 'War on Terror' to Halliburton and Blackwater… After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts… New Orleans residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be re-opened." Klein not only kicks butt, she names names, notably economist Milton Friedman and his radical Chicago School of the 1950s and 60s which she notes "produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today." Stand up and take a bow, Donald Rumsfeld.

There's little doubt Klein's book--which arrived to enormous attention and fanfare thanks to her previous missive, the best-selling No Logo, will stir the ire of the right and corporate America. It's also true that Klein's assertions are coherent, comprehensively researched and footnoted, and she makes a very credible case. Even if the world isn't going to hell in a hand-basket just yet, it's nice to know a sharp customer like Klein is bearing witness to the backroom machinations of government and industry in times of turmoil. --Kim Hughes 

Publishers Weekly review adds to this:

The neo-liberal economic policies—privatization, free trade, slashed social spending—that the Chicago School and the economist Milton Friedman have foisted on the world are catastrophic in two senses, argues this vigorous polemic. Because their results are disastrous—depressions, mass poverty, private corporations looting public wealth, by the author's accounting—their means must be cataclysmic, dependent on political upheavals and natural disasters as coercive pretexts for free-market reforms the public would normally reject. Journalist Klein (No Logo) chronicles decades of such disasters, including the Chicago School makeovers launched by South American coups; the corrupt sale of Russia's state economy to oligarchs following the collapse of the Soviet Union; the privatization of New Orleans's public schools after Katrina; and the seizure of wrecked fishing villages by resort developers after the Asian tsunami. Klein's economic and political analyses are not always meticulous. Likening free-market shock therapies to electroshock torture, she conflates every misdeed of right-wing dictatorships with their economic programs and paints a too simplistic picture of the Iraq conflict as a struggle over American-imposed neo-liberalism. Still, much of her critique hits home, as she demonstrates how free-market ideologues welcome, and provoke, the collapse of other people's economies. The result is a powerful populist indictment of economic orthodoxy. 

Selected Amazon reviews

Steve Koss VINE VOICE on September 25, 2007

A Stunning and Well-Researched Indictment of Friedmanian Neoliberalism
 

Naomi Klein's THE SHOCK DOCTRINE is a stunning indictment of American corporatism and institutionalized globalization, on a par with such groundbreaking works as Harrington's THE OTHER AMERICA and Chomsky's HEGEMONY OR SURVIVAL. Comprehensive in its breadth and remarkable for its well-researched depth, Klein's book is a highly readable but disturbing look at how the neoliberal economic tenets of Milton Friedman have been implemented across the world over the last thirty-plus years.

The author's thesis is simply stated: that neoliberal economic programs have repeatedly been implemented without the consent of the governed by creating and/or taking advantage of various forms of national shock therapy. Ms. Klein asserts that in country after country, Friedman and his Chicago School followers have foisted their tripartite economic prescription - privatization, deregulation, and cutbacks in social welfare spending - on an unsuspecting populace through decidedly non-democratic means. In the early years, the primary vehicle was dictatorial military force and accompanying fear of arrest, torture, disappearance, or death. Over time, new organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank were employed instead, using or creating impossible debt burdens to force governments to accept privatization of state-owned industries and services, complete removal of trade barriers and tariffs, forced acceptance of private foreign investment, and widespread layoffs. In more recent years, terrroism and its response as well as natural disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis have wiped clean enough of the slate to impose these Friedmanite policies on people too shocked and focused on recovering to realize what was happening until it was too late.

According to Ms. Klein's thesis, these revolutionary economic programs were the "medicine" deemed necessary by neoliberal, anti-Keynesian economists to bring underdeveloped countries into the global trading community. Ms. Klein argues her case in convincing detail a long chronological line of historical cases. Each chapter in her book surveys one such situation, from Chile under Pinochet and Argentina under military junta through Nicaragua and Honduras, Bolivia under Goni, post-apartheid South Africa, post-Solidarity Poland, Russia under Yeltsin, China since Tiananmen, reconstruction of Iraq after the U.S. invasion, Sri Lanka after the tsunami, Israel after 9/11, and New Orleans post-Katrina. Along the way, she lets various neoliberal economists and Chicago School practitioners speak for themselves - we hear their "shock therapy" views in their own words. As just one example, this arrogant and self-righteous proclamation from the late Professor Friedman: "Only a crisis - actual or perceived - producs real change...our basic function, to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."

What the author makes inescapably clear is that the world economic order has been largely remade in Milton Friedman's image in the last few decades by adopting programs that would never have been democratically accepted by the common people. Military coups, violence and force, wars, induced hyperinflation, terrorism, preemptive war, climate disasters - these have been the disruptive vehicles that allowed such drastic economic packages to be imposed. Nearly always, they are developed in secrecy and implemented too rapidly for citizens to respond. The end results, as Ms.Klein again makes clear, are massive (and too often, continuing) unemployment, large price increases for essential goods, closing of factories, enormous increases in people living in poverty, explosive concentration of wealth among a small elite, and extraordinary opportunity for rapacious capitalism from American and European corporations.

Ms. Klein argues that from its humble beginnings as an economic philosophy, the neoliberal program has evolved (or perhaps devolved) into a form of corporatism. Particularly in America, government under mostly Republican adminstrations has hollowed itself out, using private sector contractors for nearly every conceivable task. Companies ranging from Lockheed and Halliburton to ChoicePoint, Blackwater, CH2M Hill, and DynCorp exist almost entirely to secure lucrative government contracts to perform work formerly done by government. They now operate in a world the author describes as "disaster capitalism," waiting and salivating over the profits to be made in the next slate-wiping war or disaster, regardless of the human cost. In an ominous closing discussion, Ms. Klein describes the privatization of government in wealthy Atlanta suburbs, a further step in self-serving and preemptive corporatism guaranteed to hollow out whatever is left of major American cities if it becomes a widespread practice.

THE SHOCK DOCTRINE is truly a head-shaking read. One can only marvel at the imperiousness of past (mostly) American governmental behavior, the grievous callousness of it all, the massive human despair and suffering created for no other reason than economic imperialism, and the nauseating greed of (mostly Republican) politicians, former political operatives, and corporate executives who prey like pack wolves on people's powerlessness and insecurity. Reading this book, one can no longer ask the question, "Why do they hate us?" The answer is obvious, and no amount of hyperventilation from Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, or Fox News can erase the facts and consequences of behavior that we as a country have implicitly or explicitly endorsed.

THE SHOCK DOCTRINE proves itself as shaming of modern American governmental policy as Dee Brown's epic of 19th Century America, BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE. It is an essential read for intelligent citizens who want to understand the roots of globalization and its blowback effects on our lives.

Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 11, 2007

Format: Hardcover
**FYI** Please note to the best of my knowledge I am NOT related to Naomi Klein.**

If you wonder what happened to the middle class, why poverty is on the rise and what the economies in a democracracy, dictatorship and "communism" have in common, you'll find lots of food for thought in Naomi Klein's THE SHOCK DOCTRINE. Tracing the rise of the "Chicago Boys" laissez-faire economic beliefs, their impact on South America, China, Russia, Poland and South Africa and how it impacted their form of government, Klein makes a compelling argument for the flaws in Milton Friedman's economic science.

Naomi Klein's book looks at the conflict between Milton Friedman's "laissez-faire" approach to business and government where business is largely unregulated running itself and government is little more than a bare bones system. According to Klein, Friedman believed that the economic theories he espoused would be perfect and that any problems with it would be due to outside forces interferring with his free market world. His approach was in complete contrast to Keynes who believed that the prime mission of politicians and economists was to prevent unemployment and avoid a depression or recession by regulating the market place. People like John Kenneth Galbraith (heir to Keynes' mantle)believed part of the purpose of economic regulation was to keep our captalist system fair and prevent a small group of businesses from dominating the market. Galbraith also believed in bills like the Glass-Steagall act which created a firewall between Wall Street and various banking institutions (which former President Clinton helped to eliminate). The net result would be to prevent recreating disasters like the Great Depression and 1929 stock market crash (the current version of which contributed to part of the economic mess we're in today).

It's the conflict between these two economic philosphies that allows our economic world to thrive. You'll have to decide for yourself how accurately she reflects each man's philosphy based on what you know about each respective philosphy but I found, for the most part, that the book gave a pretty accurate summation of the benefits and issues at the core of each, as well as which classes benefit the most.

Klein suggests that "disaster capitalism", i.e., introducing radical changes in terms of economic and government policy when a country is in "shock" (taking advantage of the fact that massed resistence is unlikely to that change), is allowing the rise of unchecked multi-national corporations that take advantage of and damage our society in the process. She suggests that Friedman's beliefs that the market will manage itself and that free market capitalism undermined the Soviet Union is an idealized and naive belief. The impact for good and bad is that a business functions like a plant. If it receives too much sunlight and water, it will overgrow and strangle out everything else in the economic ecosystem. The net result would cause the system to become unbalanced with human suffering and economic disaster as the result if left unchecked. She traces a parallel path between the rise of Friedman's economic philosphy and the rise of human rights violations, rise and fall of various governments throughout the world and the opportunism of the business world to exploit it.

She ties all of this together looking at the economic policies and beliefs that are reshaping American society--for good and bad--into a different society where the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to expand and one where the free market society is being radically retooled. The result is a society where the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer. The pressured middle class continues to shrink. This undermines the foundation of our economic growth. This book will probably divide those along the more extreme political lines but has the ring of truth nevertheless.

Klein crafts a fascinating book. Although some of her observations might be a bit of a stretch and her arguments occasionally flawed, she provides compelling evidence to support her thesis and connects the dots of events that might otherwise appear to be unrelated. Whether or not you agree with Klein or are outraged by her evidence, you'll find plenty of food for thought in her book.

Justin M. Feldman on October 27, 2007

An important read with some shortcomings

Naomi Klein has written this book about the rise of what she calls "disaster capitalism": the global imposition/adoption of Chicago School (neoliberal) economics since the early 1970s. This is a particularly important book because, while many have written about the same topic, I have never seen it treated in a form that is both holistic (ie. a global history) and accessible (ie. largely free from the academic jargon of economics and social theory). The book does suffer from some problems however.

Klein's main thesis is problematic. She writes that the idea of economic shock therapy arose out of the same logic as Electric Convulsive Therapy (ECT). This idea is to create or exploit a destructive event in order to create regression, passivity, and a 'blank slate' on which to build a new order. In supporting this thesis, Klein uses all of Part I of her book to write about psychological torture and the CIA's mind control experiments. She attempts to develop a 'poetics of torture' that links the individual violence of ECT to the structural violence that occurs when neoliberalism is imposed as a governing strategy. Klein is no poet however, and the metaphor seems to die pretty early on in the book. She does thankfully offer a more implicit thesis that she invokes more regularly and supports more thoroughly: free markets did not develop through freedom, but through authoritarian or technocratic interventions.

Secondly, Klein treats capitalism as if it were only 35 years old. Her book however is thematically similar to the work of another woman who wrote on the same issues a century before: Rosa Luxemburg. By only going as far back as the rise of Keynsianism and developmentalism, Klein makes it seem as though neoliberalism is a radical historical exception. Yet it seems that, since the industrial revolution, it is Keynsianism that itself was the historical exception.

This book is mostly comprised of what are essentially case studies. Each case study could certainly be expanded into its own 600-page book, so simplification was necessary. I think that it is also necessary for the author to explicitly admit the complexity of any situation beyond just the power of market forces, which act strongly and ubiquitously but never alone. I think she does admit the shortcomings of her case studies for Israel/Palestine, South Africa, and Iraq (her best and most personally-involved ones), but not for the rest.

All in all, this book is worth a read and is a good introduction to one of the most powerful forces of our times. I just hope that it inspires people to read some other books that illuminate more of the complexities in regards to the theory and practice of neoliberalism in our communities, countries, and worlds.

 I particularly recommend David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism.

ByBrian F. "Nurse Ratched"on April 7, 2015

How shocking! (pun intended)

I have always been a bit of a history buff and have prided myself on knowing a lot of the history involving the US. Recently, I had an enlightening revelation; one which I think I always knew, but had never heard it articulated. Each of us looks at our place in the world in different ways. Some see the world sociologically, some see it economically and some see it politically. Obviously these three "slants" affect our interpretations, and I totally get that there is obvious cross-over. Within each of these areas there is a continuum and people line up (usually) to one side of center or the other. Until I read Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, I had not realized just where I aligned. Obviously I was aware that my views tend to be colored with the politics of the world in which I find myself. Having studied some sociology I knew and could interpret things with that lens, as well. What I knew about economics, however, had never given me (that I know of) a different vantage point on history. Until now.

I read through a number of the one star reviews, as is my habit. I like to see what folks have to say who may not be a fan of leftist thought. Let's face it: There's thought (so-called "critical thinking") and then there's blind adherence to ideology. This seems to happen on a lot of levels and is a view shared by many with otherwise opposing world-views. Still, when I read the same old, re-hashed, regurgitated and repeated stuff.... maintaining the status quo, I have to cringe. When I read many of the one star "reviews", I saw a lot of this. One individual who offered quotes from founding father John Adams (among others) rightly pointed out that facts are annoying things. When Ms. Klein put words to paper, she obviously knew this might be an issue. She quotes not only people but documents in support of the argument at hand. Those who oppose her expose on idealogical grounds have often (not always) done so without having given the courtesy of reading the book. Of course, this happens all the time here, on Amazon. Those that have read the book seem to conveniently forget the documents and contemporary quotes of the individuals involved. Unfortunate.

So here's my synopsis (working from memory - I read the book a while ago): Free Market economy, imagined and theorized by Milton Friedman of the Chicago school (University of Chicago, school of economics) in the 50s got it's first real opportunity to prove its mettle in 1970 with Pinochet's coup in Chile. Adherents and followers saw "successes" and shortfalls with this first real-world experiment. The entire southern cone of South American nations experienced similar things, all of which Ms. Klein links through personnel involved to Friedman. They got the okay from Kissinger and the ball got rolling. After South America, then Poland, the USSR/Russia, South Africa, China, and a string of other economies fell into the Friedman fold. He was an advisor!

"Shock and Awe" is followed extremely closely by already laid plans being nearly instantly enacted in order to push through laws and edicts which stood no chance of being passed "democratically". Privatization is the mantra. Donald Rumsfeld was a HUGE Chicago school adherent/supporter who took the idea of privatization to the limit while Secretary of Defense under Bush II, cutting public sector jobs from the DOD with abandon. Iraq's "green zone" was a classic example of a nearly completely privatized entity. A country within a country. Katrina was dealt with in nearly the same manner.

I'll never look at history the same way again. My eyes have been opened. For those of you who will decry my review as leftist praise for a leftist writer... if you're in the 2% and are benefitting, financially, from all this privatization... I can understand you defending it. For ANYONE else, if you defend Laissez Faire / Free Market / or "Trickle Down" economics, you have my sympathy because you are supporting the means of your own suppression. Good Luck!

Pocketson February 20, 2015

Be Ready to be Shocked

This book explains how the CIA bankrolled and encouraged the exploitation and political overthrow of many countries around the world in the '60's, 70's and 80's including Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Iran, Nicaragua and many others. It helps one understand how the Neocons evolved into what their basic philosophy remains today. Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winning economist, played a major role in this evolution and remained unapologetic about the misery that resulted from his economic model of creating change through shock. This book is very thorough and detailed in its presentation and reads like an exciting novel even though it is a factual reporting of real events.


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[Apr 10, 2018] Ukraine is a debilitated state, created under Soviet auspices, hampered by a difficult Soviet inheritance, and hollowed out by its own predatory elites during two decades of misrule. But it is also a nation that is too big and independent for Russia to swallow up

Apr 10, 2018 | www.foreignaffairs.com

Ukraine is a debilitated state, created under Soviet auspices, hampered by a difficult Soviet inheritance, and hollowed out by its own predatory elites during two decades of misrule. But it is also a nation that is too big and independent for Russia to swallow up. Russia, meanwhile, is a damaged yet still formidable great power whose rulers cannot be intimidated into allowing Ukraine to enter the Western orbit. Hence the standoff. No external power or aid package can solve Ukraine's problems or compensate for its inherent vulnerabilities vis-à-vis Russia. Nor would sending lethal weaponry to Ukraine's brave but ragtag volunteer fighters and corrupt state structures improve the situation; in fact, it would send it spiraling further downward, by failing to balance Russian predominance while giving Moscow a pretext to escalate the conflict even more. Rather, the way forward must begin with a recognition of some banal facts and some difficult bargaining.

Russia's seizure of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine do not challenge the entire post-1945 international order. The forward positions the Soviet Union occupied in the heart of Europe as a result of defeating Nazi Germany were voluntarily relinquished in the early 1990s, and they are not going to be reoccupied. But nor should every detail of the post–Cold War settlement worked out in 1989–91 be considered eternal and inviolate. That settlement emerged during an anomalous time. Russia was flat on its back but would not remain prostrate forever, and when it recovered, some sort of pushback was to be expected.

Something similar happened following the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, many of the provisions of which were not enforced. Even if France, the United Kingdom, and the United States had been willing and able to enforce the peace, their efforts would not have worked, because the treaty had been imposed during a temporary anomaly, the simultaneous collapse of German and Russian power, and would inevitably have been challenged when that power returned.

Territorial revisionism ensued after World War II as well, of course, and continued sporadically for decades. Since 1991, there have been some negotiated revisions: Hong Kong and Macao underwent peaceful reabsorption into China. Yugoslavia was broken up in violence and war, leading to the independence of its six federal units and eventually Kosovo, as well. Unrecognized statelets such as Nagorno-Karabakh, part of Azerbaijan; Transnistria, a sliver of Moldova; Abkhazia and South Ossetia, disputed units of Georgia; and now Donetsk and Luhansk, parts of Ukraine -- each entails a story of Stalinist border-making.

The European Union cannot resolve this latest standoff, nor can the United Nations. The United States has indeed put together "coalitions of the willing" to legitimize some of its recent interventions, but it is not going to go to war over Ukraine or start bombing Russia, and the wherewithal and will for indefinite sanctions against Russia are lacking. Distasteful as it might sound, Washington faces the prospect of trying to work out some negotiated larger territorial settlement.

Such negotiations would have to acknowledge that Russia is a great power with leverage, but they would not need to involve the formal acceptance of some special Russian sphere of interest in its so-called near abroad. The chief goals would be, first, to exchange international recognition of Russia's annexation of Crimea for an end to all the frozen conflicts in which Russia is an accomplice and, second, to disincentivize such behavior in the future. Russia should have to pay monetary compensation for Crimea. There could be some federal solutions, referendums, even land swaps and population transfers (which in many cases have already taken place). Sanctions on Russia would remain in place until a settlement was mutually agreed on, and new sanctions could be levied if Russia were to reject negotiations or were deemed to be conducting them in bad faith. Recognition of the new status of Crimea would occur in stages, over an extended period.

It would be a huge challenge to devise incentives that were politically plausible in the West while at the same time powerful enough for Russia to agree to a just settlement -- and for Ukraine to be willing to take part. But the search for a settlement would be an opportunity as well as a headache.

NATO expansion can be judged to have been a strategic error -- not because it angered Russia but because it weakened NATO as a military alliance. Russia's elites would likely have become revanchist even without NATO's advance, because they believe, nearly universally, that the United States took advantage of Russia in 1991 and has denied the country its rightful place as an equal in international diplomacy ever since. But NATO expansion's critics have not offered much in the way of practicable alternatives. Would it really have been appropriate, for example, to deny the requests of all the countries east of Germany to join the alliance?

Then as now, the only real alternative was the creation of an entirely new trans-European security architecture, one that fully transcended its Cold War counterpart. This was an oft-expressed Russian wish, but in the early 1990s, there was neither the imagination nor the incentives in Washington for such a heavy lift. Whether there is such capacity in Washington today remains to be seen. But even if comprehensive new security arrangements are unlikely anytime soon, Washington could still undertake much useful groundwork.

Critics might object on the grounds that the sanctions are actually biting, reinforced by the oil price free fall -- so why offer even minimal concessions to Putin now? The answer is because neither the sanctions, nor the oil price collapse, nor the two in conjunction have altered Russia's behavior, diminished its potential as a spoiler, or afforded Ukraine a chance to recover.

Whether they acknowledge it or not, Western opponents of a negotiated settlement are really opting for another long-term, open-ended attempt to contain Russia and hope for regime change -- a policy likely to last until the end of Putin's life and possibly well beyond. The costs of such an approach are likely to be quite high, and other global issues will continue to demand attention and resources. And all the while, Ukraine would effectively remain crippled, Europe's economy would suffer, and Russia would grow ever more embittered and difficult to handle. All of that might occur no matter what. But if negotiations hold out a chance of somehow averting such an outcome, they are worth a try. And the attempt would hold few costs, because failed negotiations would only solidify the case for containment in Europe and in the United States.

It is ultimately up to Russia's leaders to take meaningful steps to integrate their country into the existing world order, one that they can vex but not fully overturn. To the extent that the Ukraine debacle has brought this reality into sharper focus, it might actually have been useful in helping Putin to see some light, and the same goes for the collapse of oil prices and the accompanying unavoidable devaluation of the ruble. After the nadir of 1998, smart policy choices in Moscow, together with some lucky outside breaks, helped Russia transform a crisis into a breakthrough, with real and impressive steps forward. That history could replay itself -- but whether it will remains the prerogative of one person alone.

[Apr 09, 2018] When Military Leaders Have Reckless Disregard for the Truth by Bruce Fein

Highly recommended!
Apr 09, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
To borrow from the British definition of an ambassador, United States military leaders are honest soldiers promoted in rank to champion war with reckless disregard for the truth. This practice persists despite the catastrophic waste of lives and money because the untruths are never punished. Congress needs to correct this problem forthwith.

General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, exemplifies the phenomenon. As reported in The Washington Post , Dunford recently voiced optimism about defeating the Afghan Taliban in the seventeenth year of a trillion-dollar war that has multiplied safe havens for international terrorists, the opposite of the war's original mission. While not under oath, Dunford insisted, "This is not another year of the same thing we've been doing for 17 years. This is a fundamentally different approach [T]he right people at the right level with the right training [are in place] "

There, the general recklessly disregarded the truth. He followed the instruction of General William Westmoreland who stated at the National Press Club on November 21, 1967 that the Vietnam War had come to a point "where the end begins to come into view." The 1968 Tet Offensive was then around the corner, which would provoke Westmoreland to ask for 200,000 more American troops. The Pentagon Papers and Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty have meticulously documented the military's reckless disregard for the truth throughout the Vietnam War.

Any fool can understand that continuing our 17-year-old war in Afghanistan is a fool's errand. The nation is artificial. Among other things, its disputed border with Pakistan, the Durand Line, was drawn in 1896 between the British Raj and Afghan Amir Abdur Rahmen Khair. Afghanistan's population splinters along tribal, ethnic, and sectarian lines, including Pushtans, Uzbeks, Hazara, Tajiks, Turkmen, and Balochi. Its government is riddled with nepotism, corruption, ineptitude, and lawlessness. Election fraud and political sclerosis are endemic. Opium production and trafficking replenish the Taliban's coffers.

The Afghan National Army (ANA) is a paper tiger. Desertion and attrition rates are alarming. Disloyalty is widespread. American weapons are sold to the Taliban or captured. ANA soldiers will not risk that last full measure of devotion for an illegitimate, unrepresentative, decrepit government.

The Taliban also has a safe haven in Pakistan. A staggering portion -- maybe up to 90 percent -- of United States assistance to Afghanistan is embezzled, diverted, or wasted. John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), related to Chatham House in London that "SIGAR was finding waste, fraud, and abuse nearly everywhere we looked in Afghanistan -- from the $488 million worth of aircraft that couldn't fly, to the navy the U.S. bought for a landlocked country, to the buildings the U.S. paid for that literally melted in the rain ."

"The Taliban are getting stronger, the government is on the retreat, they are losing ground to the Taliban day by day," Abdul Jabbar Qahraman, a retired Afghan general who was the Afghan government's military envoy to Helmand Province until 2016, told the New York Times last summer. ISIS has now joined the Taliban and al-Qaeda in fighting the United States. Secretary of Defense General James Mattis conceded to Congress last June that "we are not winning in Afghanistan right now," but added polyannaishly, "And we will correct this as soon as possible." Only two months earlier, the Defense Department insisted that dropping the Mother of All Bombs on Afghanistan would reverse the losing trend.

Upton Sinclair sermonized: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Thus do military leaders deceive themselves about futile wars to extract more spending, to maintain their professional reputations and public stature, and to avoid the embarrassment of explaining to Congress and the American people that astronomical sums have been wasted and tens of thousands of American soldiers have died or were crippled in vain.

To deter such self-deception, Congress should enact a statute requiring the retirement without pension of any general or admiral who materially misleads legislators or the public about prospective or ongoing wars with reckless disregard for the truth. That sanction might have prompted General Dunford to acknowledge the grim truth about Afghanistan: that the United States is clueless about how to win that war.

Bruce Fein was associate deputy attorney general under President Reagan and is the founding partner of Fein & DelValle PLLC.

[Apr 01, 2018] Is a New War Against Russia in Ukraine Unfolding Before Our Eyes by by John McMurtry

This is definitely cancer stage of neoliberalism, but I doubt that there is connection between Skripal poisoning and Ukraine.
Also why the USA served as the catalyst for coming nationalists to power in 2014 the process started long ago with Yushchenko and to a certain extent is typical for all post Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan and Belorussia. they all try to distance themselves from Russia to prove their sovereignty. The low intensity warfare in Donetsk is the only differentiator, but even this remind attempt of Georgia to subdue South Ossetia in the past and Karabah conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Still the author is definitely a brilliant writer and thinker he describes geopolitical tensions really well
Notable quotes:
"... has to have such a war-drum distraction to survive. ..."
"... Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee of the UN General Assembly ..."
Apr 01, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's government, and the silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding by all NATO-member governments, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.

This time the big-lie pretext is about the alleged poisoning by the Kremlin/Putin of a double-agent, usually a stock move in the espionage entertainments, but here with no evidence of the claimed origin of the lethal nerve-agent, but rather expert denial within British defence and weapons research itself, with devious political word games to get around the absence of any corroborated evidence in familiar denuciations of Russia full of aggression and hate. Not even a death is recorded while US-led nd UK-armed ally forces are still mass-murdering poor civilian Yeminis, drone-murdering endless targets and civilians abroad, continuing on unblamed for the ongoing NATO-executed eco-genocides of Iraq and Libya societies, and on the 19-years anniversary of the mass bombing of, once again a society, Yugoslavia, with the most evolved social infrastructures of health, education, housing and life security in the region.

What this latest war pretext for US and NATO-backed aggression is really about is justifying more war in the Ukraine now that the massive war preparations along all of Russia's Western borders following the self-declared Nazi-led and proven US- orchestrated and commanded mass-murder coup d'etat in February 2014 . As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's government, and the silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding by all NATO-member governments, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.

This time the big-lie pretext is about the alleged poisoning by the Kremlin/Putin of a double-agent traitor, usually a stock move in the espionage entertainments. Yet here there is no confirmed evidence whatever of the claimed origin of the lethal nerve-agent, but rather expert denial within British defence and weapons research itself that is silence in the press, with devious political word games crafted to get around the absence of any corroborated facts in the familiar denuciations of Russia full of team aggression and hate. Not even a death is recorded while US-led nd UK-armed ally forces are still mass-murdering poor civilian Yeminis, drone-murdering endless targets and civilians abroad, continuing on unblamed for the ongoing NATO-executed eco-genocides of Iraq and Libya societies, and on the 19-years anniversary of the mass bombing of Yugoslavia -- once again a socialist society with the most evolved social infrastructures of health, education, housing and life security in the region.

What this latest war pretext for US and NATO-backed aggression is really about is justifying more war in Ukraine now that the massive war preparations along all of Russia's Western borders following the self-declared Nazi-led and proven US- orchestrated and commanded mass-murder coup d'etat in February 2014 . As always, this US-directed mass murder was reverse-blamed on the ever shifting Enemy face -- Russia's allied but duly elected government of the Ukraine. It was only after this violent-coup Nazi-led and US directed overthrow of the elected government of the very resource-rich Ukraine -- "the breadbasket of Europe" and sitting on newly discovered rich fossil fuel deposits -- that Russia annexed its traditional territory of the Crimea next to Eastern Ukraine, the latter after the violent coup put under the rule of a US-Nazi-led government until its people fought back with Russia assistance for the now NATO-targeted zones of the new Donetsk and Lugansk republics.

What is new now is that we are about to enter yet another NATO-member war build-up against the cornerstone of Western ideology, the designated Enemy Russia. As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day US-led NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's UK government, and silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding in NATO-member states, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.

Cui Bono?

The UK and the US followed by Canada and some of the EU have by expulsion of Russia diplomats prepared the diplomatic way for war in the Ukraine to seize back these lost coup-territories, and it will be in the name of "freedom", "human rights" and "the rules of civilised nations". But there is much officially suppressed colour to the warring parties political conflict which reveals who the truly heinous suppressor of human rights is. Under mass media and corporate-state cover, the US-UK-NATO axis about to make war in Ukraine is doing so under the factually absurd but non-stop pretext of "Russia aggression" constructed out of the double-agent poisoning affair, with the guilty agents and poison having no proof but the ever louder UK-led and NATO-state assertion of it in unison. Yet there is a clear answer to the cui bono question -- which party does all this benefit? Clearly once the question is posed, as opposed to completely gagged in the corporate press, Theresa May's slow-motion collapsing Tory government -- now even challenged for its fraudulent Brexit referendum protecting the big London banks from EU regulation -- has to have such a war-drum distraction to survive. The old war of aggression pattern reverse-blamed on the official enemy unwinds yet again.

It is revealing in this context how Canada's government has no such ruler need of war -- unless it be its Ukraine-descendent Foreign Minister up front and the very powerful and widely Nazi-sympathizing Ukraine Liberal vote bank and leadership brought to Canada after 1945 to overwhelm the preceding active socialist Ukrainian community in Canada. Canada's government -- not its people -- is in any case used to being a puppet regime in foreign affairs as a twice-colonized rule by big business (why the NDP is not allowed to govern unless so subjugated).

The Human Rights Question

In light of all of this suppressed factual background and motive for more war in Ukraine which is unspeakable in the official news, interaction with the United Nations is of revealing interest. While it has been the cover for US-led NATO executed genocidal wars of aggression in the past as in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Korea, the pretexts of 'human rights', 'responsibility to protect' and 'stopping communist aggression', which are in fact always been the spectacular opposite on the ground in terms of diseased, mass-murdered and destituted bodies, these pretexts may not sell well when the background facts are no longer suppressed from public view.

It is worthwhile recalling how Science for Peace leadership used to be against but has since Afghanistan collaborated with these false-pretext wars in sustaining their illusions and thus the war crimes and crimes against proceeding underneath them.

The NATO-executed Ukraine war now being orchestrated is especially revealing in its actual record of 'protecting human rights' through 'international law' and 'norms of civilised nations'. Completely buried in official records is a United Nations resolution n on Ukraine that the US and Canada repudiated on November 20 2015 after the US-led bloody coup d'etat in Ukraine was in full motion of claiming all the vast tracts of land and resources that were Russia-speaking territory in the past.

The resolution was straightforwardly against "Nazi symbols and regalia" as well as "holocaust denial". The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for a resolution to enable measures against "the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that facilitate the escalation of modern forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance". A total of 126 member-states of the UN voted for it for the second time. Over 100 countries voted for a similar resolution in 2014 including "denial of the holocaust and glorification of the Nazi movement, former members of the Waffen SS organization, including the installation of memorials to them, and post-coup attempts to desecrate or destroy the monuments to those who fought against Nazism in Ukraine during World War II".

How could any civilised state vote against these United Nations Resolutions for human rights as Canada and the US have done and stood by ever since? Well instituted group hatred of the officially designated enemy can justify anything whatsoever, and does so right into next NATO-executed orgy of war crime and crimes against humanity, again inside Europe itself flaunting reverse-blame lies and slogans as red meat for psychotically trained masses. It is not by accident that Canada's Foreign Minister is in this near century-old Nazi loyalist vs Russia-speaking conflict was before her appointment the "proud "granddaughter of a leading Nazi war propagandist during its occupation of Poland and Ukraine described as a "fighter for freedom".

Yet on the other hand, we must not lose ourselves in ad hominem responsibility. Crystina Freeland, her Canada name, is interestingly propagandist in itself from her birth -- Christian Free Land -- but not observed in the corporate press. Minister Freeland is only a symptom of something far deeper and more systemically murderous and evil in state-executed unlimited greed and immiserization of innocent millions of people masked as 'human rights' , 'freedom' and 'rule of law' . Her more sinister double in the US is also a renamed person of the region, Victoria Nuland (read New Land) who orchestrated the whole 2014 mass-murder coup in Ukraine and now tub-thumps on public television for the 'need to teach Putin and Russia a hard lesson', aka another war attack by US-led NATO on Russia's borders.

The difference now is that the absurd pretext and geostrategic mechanisms now in motion beforehand can be seen in front of our eyes -- that is, if we can still see through the engineered prism of the US-UK led NATO war machine. This alone will stop it.

John McMurtry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada whose work is translated from Latin America to Japan. His most recent book is The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure .

[Mar 29, 2018] Germany - if I remember correctly - was instrumental on behalf of her client state Croatia in persuading the US to acquise in the destruction of Yugoslavia.

Mar 29, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Posted by: ashley albanese | Mar 28, 2018 6:47:49 PM | 33

Germany - if I remember correctly - was instrumental on behalf of her client state Croatia in persuading the U S to acquise in the destruction of Yugoslavia.
Many could see at the time that this would unravel all the balances put into place after the travail of World War 2 . So it is proving to be . The German peoples' for whatever reasons have a history of 'overeach'. On one hand the Germans are now - after millennium - within settled borders but the political and economic wisdom and patience still seems lacking .

ashley albanese | Mar 28, 2018 6:47:49 PM | 33

[Mar 27, 2018] Within a week after Brennan's 'routine' visit in April 2014 to the Ukraine the Ukrainian army launched a civil war. That was within 2 weeks of the CIA instigated coup an the end of February 2014

Mar 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

JR , Next New Comment March 27, 2018 at 6:24 am GMT

Within a week after Brennan's 'routine' visit in April 2014 to the Ukraine the Ukrainian army launched a civil war. That was within 2 weeks of the CIA instigated coup an the end of February 2014.

[Mar 23, 2018] In a way Ukraine stepped on the same rake twice: once in 1991 and the second time in 2014. That's unforgivable

Looks like the rules of neoliberal game for Ukraine are as following: Ukraine should be ready for fight Russia till the last Ukrainian, serving as cannon fodder for EU geopolitical interests in Eurasia; (2) As a "debt slave" Ukraine should allow the transfer of ownership of all strategic assets and commodities to EU corporations for pennies on dollar independently of how Donbass situation is resolved; (3) Ukraine should buy EU products, no matter how poor they are and local production should be be iether eliminated ("Baltics style deindustrialization"), or outsourced to transnational corporations with Ukrainian as a cheap labor force (wage slaves).
Notable quotes:
"... And the Ukraine made a massive mistake. Their situation is completely different to Poland after USSR fell. ..."
Mar 22, 2018 | www.unz.com

likbez , March 23, 2018 at 3:20 am GMT

@polskijoe

And the Ukraine made a massive mistake. Their situation is completely different to Poland after USSR fell.

Very true. Poland was the first Eastern European country which adopted neoliberal model and thus served to a certain extent as "photo model" of neoliberalism for the rest of Eastern Europe and xUSSR space. So standard of living did not drop too low. The country was somewhat supported by EU and by the USA.

Ukraine was royally raped economically in 1991-2000. Probably as bad as Russia, may be even worse.

In 2014 Ukrainians were lured by unrealistic dream of getting Western European standard of living as a gift for breaking with Russia. As well as the resentment toward kleptocrat Yanukovich (which actually was pretty typical neoliberal politician; not much worse then Poroshenko )

Now they start to understand that the EU will devour the corpse to the bones and they are stuck at the Central African level poverty of $2 a day or so (on average), but this is too late.

A very typical story, a very typical outcome. Neoliberalism is a cancer. As Russian prime minister quipped about economic rape of Russia by local and Western neoliberals in 1991-2000: "We strived to get the best [economic] outcome, but it turned out like we got even worse then average. As always." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Chernomyrdin )

So in a way they stepped on the same rake twice: once in 1991 and the second time in 2014. That's unforgivable.

[Mar 21, 2018] Washington's Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen

Highly recommended!
Mar 21, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

March 20 marks a major anniversary. You'd be forgiven for not knowing it. Fifteen years after we invaded Iraq, few in the US are addressing our legacy there. But it's worth recalling we shattered that country.

We made it a terrorist hotspot, as expected. US and British intelligence, in the months preceding the invasion, expected Bush's planned assault would invigorate Al-Qaeda. The group " would see an opportunity to accelerate its operational tempo and increase terrorist attacks," particularly " in the US and UK ," assessments warned. Due course for the War on Terror.

Follow-up reports confirmed these predictions. "The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement," Washington analysts explained in 2006.

Fawaz Gerges lists two groups this milieu produced: Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), "a creature of the 2003 US-led invasion," and ISIS, "an extension of AQI."

There were good reasons for anyone -- not just jihadists -- to resent US involvement. Consider sectarianism. "The most serious sectarian and ethnic tensions in Iraq's modern history followed the 2003 US-led occupation," Sami Ramadani affirmed . Nabil Al-Tikriti concurs , citing US policies that "led to a progressive, incessant increase in sectarian tensions." The Shia death squads " organized by U.S. operatives" were one such decision.

The extent to which these squads succeeded is, in part, what scholars debate when they tally the war deaths. Low estimates, like Iraq Body Count's, put civilians killed at just over 200,000. One research team determined some "half million deaths in Iraq could be attributable to the war." Physicians for Social Responsibility concluded "that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq," plus 300,000 more in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Iraqis surviving the inferno confronted a range of nightmares. The UN " reported that over 4.4 million Iraqis were internally displaced, and an additional 264,100 were refugees abroad," for example. US forces dealt with Iraqi prisoners -- 70-90% of whom were " arrested by mistake " -- by "arranging naked detainees in a pile and then jumping on them;" "breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees;" and "forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves," to list some of the ways we imparted , with the approval of top Bush administration officials, democratic principles.

Then there are the generations of future Iraqis in bomb-battered cities: Fallujah, Basra. In the former, "the reported increases in cancer and infant mortality are alarmingly high" -- perhaps " worse than Hiroshima " -- while "birth defects reached in 2010 unprecedented numbers." In the same vein, "a pattern of increase in congenital birth defects" plagues Basra, and "many suspect that pollution created by the bombardment of Iraqi cities has caused the current birth defect crisis in that country."

This bombardment began decades before 2003, it's crucial to clarify. We can recall UN Under-Secretary-General Martti Ahtisaari's mission to Baghdad after Operation Desert Storm. He and his team were familiar with the literature on the bombings, he wrote in March 1991, "fully conversant with media reports regarding the situation in Iraq," but realized upon arrival "that nothing that we had seen or read had quite prepared us for the particular form of devastation" -- "near-apocalyptic" -- "which has now befallen the country," condemning it "to a pre-industrial age" for the foreseeable future. This was the scale of ruin when the UN Security Council imposed sanctions. The measures were "at every turn shaped by the United States," whose "consistent policy " was "to inflict the most extreme economic damage possible on Iraq."

The policy was, in this respect, a ripping success. The UN estimated in 1995 that the sanctions had murdered over a half-million children -- " worth it ," Madeleine Albright said -- one factor prompting two successive UN Humanitarian Coordinators in Iraq to resign. Denis Halliday thought the sanctions "criminally flawed and genocidal;" Hans von Sponeck agreed , citing evidence of "conscious violation of human rights and humanitarian law on the part of governments represented in the Security Council, first and foremost those of the United States and the United Kingdom."

Eliminating hundreds of thousands of starving children was just the prequel to the occupation -- "the biggest cultural disaster since the descendants of Genghis Khan destroyed Baghdad in 1258," in one writer's judgment . But try to find more than a handful of commentators reflecting on any of these issues on this dark anniversary. Instead, silence shows the deep US capacity for forgetting.

Nick Alexandrov lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He can be reached at: nicholas.alexandrov@gmail.com

[Mar 21, 2018] How They Sold the Iraq War by Jeffrey St. Clair

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam's regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon. ..."
"... This charade wouldn't have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: "Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception." ..."
"... During the Vietnam War, TV images of maimed GIs and napalmed villages suburbanized opposition to the war and helped hasten the U.S. withdrawal. The Bush gang meant to turn the Vietnam phenomenon on its head by using TV as a force to propel the U.S.A. into a war that no one really wanted. ..."
"... When the Pentagon needed a heroic story, the press obliged. Jessica Lynch became the war's first instant celebrity. Here was a neo-gothic tale of a steely young woman wounded in a fierce battle, captured and tortured by ruthless enemies, and dramatically saved from certain death by a team of selfless rescuers, knights in camo and night-vision goggles. ..."
"... Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post's editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings "a quirk of war." ..."
"... The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn't object, it encouraged Saddam. ..."
"... Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC's firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. ..."
Mar 20, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

The war on Iraq won't be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold. It was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as "weapons of mass destruction" and "rogue state" were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us.

To understand the Iraq war you don't need to consult generals, but the spin doctors and PR flacks who stage-managed the countdown to war from the murky corridors of Washington where politics, corporate spin and psy-ops spooks cohabit.

Consider the picaresque journey of Tony Blair's plagiarized dossier on Iraq, from a grad student's website to a cut-and-paste job in the prime minister's bombastic speech to the House of Commons. Blair, stubborn and verbose, paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush, who looted whole passages from Blair's speech for his own clumsy presentations, has skated freely through the tempest. Why?

Unlike Blair, the Bush team never wanted to present a legal case for war. They had no interest in making any of their allegations about Iraq hold up to a standard of proof. The real effort was aimed at amping up the mood for war by using the psychology of fear.

Facts were never important to the Bush team. They were disposable nuggets that could be discarded at will and replaced by whatever new rationale that played favorably with their polls and focus groups. The war was about weapons of mass destruction one week, al-Qaeda the next. When neither allegation could be substantiated on the ground, the fall back position became the mass graves (many from the Iran/Iraq war where the U.S.A. backed Iraq) proving that Saddam was an evil thug who deserved to be toppled. The motto of the Bush PR machine was: Move on. Don't explain. Say anything to conceal the perfidy behind the real motives for war. Never look back. Accuse the questioners of harboring unpatriotic sensibilities. Eventually, even the cagey Wolfowitz admitted that the official case for war was made mainly to make the invasion palatable, not to justify it.

The Bush claque of neocon hawks viewed the Iraq war as a product and, just like a new pair of Nikes, it required a roll-out campaign to soften up the consumers. The same techniques (and often the same PR gurus) that have been used to hawk cigarettes, SUVs and nuclear waste dumps were deployed to retail the Iraq war. To peddle the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell and company recruited public relations gurus into top-level jobs at the Pentagon and the State Department. These spinmeisters soon had more say over how the rationale for war on Iraq should be presented than intelligence agencies and career diplomats. If the intelligence didn't fit the script, it was shaded, retooled or junked.

Take Charlotte Beers whom Powell picked as undersecretary of state in the post-9/11 world. Beers wasn't a diplomat. She wasn't even a politician. She was a grand diva of spin, known on the business and gossip pages as "the queen of Madison Avenue." On the strength of two advertising campaigns, one for Uncle Ben's Rice and another for Head and Shoulder's dandruff shampoo, Beers rocketed to the top of the heap in the PR world, heading two giant PR houses: Ogilvy and Mathers as well as J. Walter Thompson.

At the State Department Beers, who had met Powell in 1995 when they both served on the board of Gulf Airstream, worked at, in Powell's words, "the branding of U.S. foreign policy." She extracted more than $500 million from Congress for her Brand America campaign, which largely focused on beaming U.S. propaganda into the Muslim world, much of it directed at teens.

"Public diplomacy is a vital new arm in what will combat terrorism over time," said Beers. "All of a sudden we are in this position of redefining who America is, not only for ourselves, but for the outside world." Note the rapt attention Beers pays to the manipulation of perception, as opposed, say, to alterations of U.S. policy.

Old-fashioned diplomacy involves direct communication between representatives of nations, a conversational give and take, often fraught with deception (see April Glaspie), but an exchange nonetheless. Public diplomacy, as defined by Beers, is something else entirely. It's a one-way street, a unilateral broadcast of American propaganda directly to the public, domestic and international, a kind of informational carpet-bombing.

The themes of her campaigns were as simplistic and flimsy as a Bush press conference. The American incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq were all about bringing the balm of "freedom" to oppressed peoples. Hence, the title of the U.S. war: Operation Iraqi Freedom, where cruise missiles were depicted as instruments of liberation. Bush himself distilled the Beers equation to its bizarre essence: "This war is about peace."

Beers quietly resigned her post a few weeks before the first volley of tomahawk missiles battered Baghdad. From her point of view, the war itself was already won, the fireworks of shock and awe were all after play.

Over at the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld drafted Victoria "Torie" Clarke as his director of public affairs. Clarke knew the ropes inside the Beltway. Before becoming Rumsfeld's mouthpiece, she had commanded one of the world's great parlors for powerbrokers: Hill and Knowlton's D.C. office.

Almost immediately upon taking up her new gig, Clarke convened regular meetings with a select group of Washington's top private PR specialists and lobbyists to develop a marketing plan for the Pentagon's forthcoming terror wars. The group was filled with heavy-hitters and was strikingly bipartisan in composition. She called it the Rumsfeld Group and it included PR executive Sheila Tate, columnist Rich Lowry, and Republican political consultant Rich Galen.

The brain trust also boasted top Democratic fixer Tommy Boggs, brother of NPR's Cokie Roberts and son of the late Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana. At the very time Boggs was conferring with top Pentagon brass on how to frame the war on terror, he was also working feverishly for the royal family of Saudi Arabia. In 2002 alone, the Saudis paid his Qorvis PR firm $20.2 million to protect its interests in Washington. In the wake of hostile press coverage following the exposure of Saudi links to the 9/11 hijackers, the royal family needed all the well-placed help it could buy. They seem to have gotten their money's worth. Boggs' felicitous influence-peddling may help to explain why the references to Saudi funding of al-Qaeda were dropped from the recent congressional report on the investigation into intelligence failures and 9/11.

According to the trade publication PR Week, the Rumsfeld Group sent "messaging advice" to the Pentagon. The group told Clarke and Rumsfeld that in order to get the American public to buy into the war on terrorism, they needed to suggest a link to nation states, not just nebulous groups such as al-Qaeda. In other words, there needed to be a fixed target for the military campaigns, some distant place to drop cruise missiles and cluster bombs. They suggested the notion (already embedded in Rumsfeld's mind) of playing up the notion of so-called rogue states as the real masters of terrorism. Thus was born the Axis of Evil, which, of course, wasn't an "axis" at all, since two of the states, Iran and Iraq, hated each other, and neither had anything at all to do with the third, North Korea.

Tens of millions in federal money were poured into private public relations and media firms working to craft and broadcast the Bush dictat that Saddam had to be taken out before the Iraqi dictator blew up the world by dropping chemical and nuclear bombs from long-range drones. Many of these PR executives and image consultants were old friends of the high priests in the Bush inner sanctum. Indeed, they were veterans, like Cheney and Powell, of the previous war against Iraq, another engagement that was more spin than combat .

At the top of the list was John Rendon, head of the D.C. firm, the Rendon Group. Rendon is one of Washington's heaviest hitters, a Beltway fixer who never let political affiliation stand in the way of an assignment. Rendon served as a media consultant for Michael Dukakis and Jimmy Carter, as well as Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Whenever the Pentagon wanted to go to war, he offered his services at a price. During Desert Storm, Rendon pulled in $100,000 a month from the Kuwaiti royal family. He followed this up with a $23 million contract from the CIA to produce anti-Saddam propaganda in the region.

As part of this CIA project, Rendon created and named the Iraqi National Congress and tapped his friend Ahmed Chalabi, the shady financier, to head the organization.

Shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon handed the Rendon Group another big assignment: public relations for the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. Rendon was also deeply involved in the planning and public relations for the pre-emptive war on Iraq, though both Rendon and the Pentagon refuse to disclose the details of the group's work there.

But it's not hard to detect the manipulative hand of Rendon behind many of the Iraq war's signature events, including the toppling of the Saddam statue (by U.S. troops and Chalabi associates) and videotape of jubilant Iraqis waving American flags as the Third Infantry rolled by them. Rendon had pulled off the same stunt in the first Gulf War, handing out American flags to Kuwaitis and herding the media to the orchestrated demonstration. "Where do you think they got those American flags?" clucked Rendon in 1991. "That was my assignment."

The Rendon Group may also have had played a role in pushing the phony intelligence that has now come back to haunt the Bush administration. In December of 2002, Robert Dreyfuss reported that the inner circle of the Bush White House preferred the intelligence coming from Chalabi and his associates to that being proffered by analysts at the CIA.

So Rendon and his circle represented a new kind of off-the-shelf PSYOPs , the privatization of official propaganda. "I am not a national security strategist or a military tactician," said Rendon. "I am a politician, and a person who uses communication to meet public policy or corporate policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager."

What exactly, is perception management? The Pentagon defines it this way: "actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives and objective reasoning." In other words, lying about the intentions of the U.S. government. In a rare display of public frankness, the Pentagon actually let slip its plan (developed by Rendon) to establish a high-level den inside the Department Defense for perception management. They called it the Office of Strategic Influence and among its many missions was to plant false stories in the press.

Nothing stirs the corporate media into outbursts of pious outrage like an official government memo bragging about how the media are manipulated for political objectives. So the New York Times and Washington Post threw indignant fits about the Office of Strategic Influence; the Pentagon shut down the operation, and the press gloated with satisfaction on its victory. Yet, Rumsfeld told the Pentagon press corps that while he was killing the office, the same devious work would continue. "You can have the corpse," said Rumsfeld. "You can have the name. But I'm going to keep doing every single thing that needs to be done. And I have."

At a diplomatic level, despite the hired guns and the planted stories, this image war was lost. It failed to convince even America's most fervent allies and dependent client states that Iraq posed much of a threat. It failed to win the blessing of the U.N. and even NATO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington. At the end of the day, the vaunted coalition of the willing consisted of Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, and a cohort of former Soviet bloc nations. Even so, the citizens of the nations that cast their lot with the U.S.A. overwhelmingly opposed the war.

Domestically, it was a different story. A population traumatized by terror threats and shattered economy became easy prey for the saturation bombing of the Bush message that Iraq was a terrorist state linked to al-Qaeda that was only minutes away from launching attacks on America with weapons of mass destruction.

Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam's regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon.

Of course, the closest Saddam came to possessing a nuke was a rusting gas centrifuge buried for 13 years in the garden of Mahdi Obeidi, a retired Iraqi scientist. Iraq didn't have any functional chemical or biological weapons. In fact, it didn't even possess any SCUD missiles, despite erroneous reports fed by Pentagon PR flacks alleging that it had fired SCUDs into Kuwait.

This charade wouldn't have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: "Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception."

During the Vietnam War, TV images of maimed GIs and napalmed villages suburbanized opposition to the war and helped hasten the U.S. withdrawal. The Bush gang meant to turn the Vietnam phenomenon on its head by using TV as a force to propel the U.S.A. into a war that no one really wanted.

What the Pentagon sought was a new kind of living room war, where instead of photos of mangled soldiers and dead Iraqi kids, they could control the images Americans viewed and to a large extent the content of the stories. By embedding reporters inside selected divisions, Clarke believed the Pentagon could count on the reporters to build relationships with the troops and to feel dependent on them for their own safety. It worked, naturally. One reporter for a national network trembled on camera that the U.S. Army functioned as "our protectors." The late David Bloom of NBC confessed on the air that he was willing to do "anything and everything they can ask of us."

When the Pentagon needed a heroic story, the press obliged. Jessica Lynch became the war's first instant celebrity. Here was a neo-gothic tale of a steely young woman wounded in a fierce battle, captured and tortured by ruthless enemies, and dramatically saved from certain death by a team of selfless rescuers, knights in camo and night-vision goggles. Of course, nearly every detail of her heroic adventure proved to be as fictive and maudlin as any made-for-TV-movie. But the ordeal of Private Lynch, which dominated the news for more than a week, served its purpose: to distract attention from a stalled campaign that was beginning to look at lot riskier than the American public had been hoodwinked into believing.

The Lynch story was fed to the eager press by a Pentagon operation called Combat Camera, the Army network of photographers, videographers and editors that sends 800 photos and 25 video clips a day to the media. The editors at Combat Camera carefully culled the footage to present the Pentagon's montage of the war, eliding such unsettling images as collateral damage, cluster bombs, dead children and U.S. soldiers, napalm strikes and disgruntled troops.

"A lot of our imagery will have a big impact on world opinion," predicted Lt. Jane Larogue, director of Combat Camera in Iraq. She was right. But as the hot war turned into an even hotter occupation, the Pentagon, despite airy rhetoric from occupation supremo Paul Bremer about installing democratic institutions such as a free press, moved to tighten its monopoly on the flow images out of Iraq. First, it tried to shut down Al Jazeera, the Arab news channel. Then the Pentagon intimated that it would like to see all foreign TV news crews banished from Baghdad.

Few newspapers fanned the hysteria about the threat posed by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction as sedulously as did the Washington Post. In the months leading up to the war, the Post's pro-war op-eds outnumbered the anti-war columns by a 3-to-1 margin.

Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post's editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings "a quirk of war."

The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn't object, it encouraged Saddam. Anything to punish Iran was the message coming from the White House. Donald Rumsfeld himself was sent as President Ronald Reagan's personal envoy to Baghdad. Rumsfeld conveyed the bold message than an Iraq defeat would be viewed as a "strategic setback for the United States." This sleazy alliance was sealed with a handshake caught on videotape. When CNN reporter Jamie McIntyre replayed the footage for Rumsfeld in the spring of 2003, the secretary of defense snapped, "Where'd you get that? Iraqi television?"

The current crop of Iraq hawks also saw Saddam much differently then. Take the writer Laura Mylroie, sometime colleague of the New York Times' Judy Miller, who persists in peddling the ludicrous conspiracy that Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

How times have changed! In 1987, Mylroie felt downright cuddly toward Saddam. She wrote an article for the New Republic titled "Back Iraq: Time for a U.S. Tilt in the Mideast," arguing that the U.S. should publicly embrace Saddam's secular regime as a bulwark against the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. The co-author of this mesmerizing weave of wonkery was none other than Daniel Pipes, perhaps the nation's most bellicose Islamophobe. "The American weapons that Iraq could make good use of include remotely scatterable and anti-personnel mines and counterartillery radar," wrote Mylroie and Pipes. "The United States might also consider upgrading intelligence it is supplying Baghdad."

In the rollout for the war, Mylroie seemed to be everywhere hawking the invasion of Iraq. She would often appear on two or three different networks in the same day. How did the reporter manage this feat? She had help in the form of Eleana Benador, the media placement guru who runs Benador Associates. Born in Peru, Benador parlayed her skills as a linguist into a lucrative career as media relations whiz for the Washington foreign policy elite. She also oversees the Middle East Forum, a fanatically pro-Zionist white paper mill. Her clients include some of the nation's most fervid hawks, including Michael Ledeen, Charles Krauthammer, Al Haig, Max Boot, Daniel Pipes, Richard Perle, and Judy Miller. During the Iraq war, Benador's assignment was to embed this squadron of pro-war zealots into the national media, on talk shows, and op-ed pages.

Benador not only got them the gigs, she also crafted the theme and made sure they all stayed on message. "There are some things, you just have to state them in a different way, in a slightly different way," said Benador. "If not, people get scared." Scared of intentions of their own government.

It could have been different. All of the holes in the Bush administration's gossamer case for war were right there for the mainstream press to expose. Instead, the U.S. press, just like the oil companies, sought to commercialize the Iraq war and profit from the invasions. They didn't want to deal with uncomfortable facts or present voices of dissent.

Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC's firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. The network's executives blamed the cancellation on sagging ratings. In fact, during its run Donahue's show attracted more viewers than any other program on the network. The real reason for the pre-emptive strike on Donahue was spelled out in an internal memo from anxious executives at NBC. Donahue, the memo said, offered "a difficult face for NBC in a time of war. He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives."

The memo warned that Donahue's show risked tarring MSNBC as an unpatriotic network, "a home for liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." So, with scarcely a second thought, the honchos at MSNBC gave Donahue the boot and hoisted the battle flag.

It's war that sells.

There's a helluva caveat, of course. Once you buy it, the merchants of war accept no returns.

This essay is adapted from Grand Theft Pentagon.

[Mar 06, 2018] The Empire shall go for the Russia's internal problems and try to capitalize on that. Ukraine was taken down using that approach. Oh, wait, not only Ukraine but all those who didn't tow the line.

Notable quotes:
"... Politically the situation we see in Ukraine is that the ordinary people don't really care about the politics they are genuinely concerned about bread and butter it is quite sad actually that the US is treating the Ukraine as a pawn and a quite cheap one at that in its game with Russia ..."
Mar 06, 2018 | www.unz.com

likbez , March 6, 2018 at 4:00 am GMT

Some weak points of the article:

1. There is some mystery in this Putin "bragging" about new formidable weapons. This is not his style. Why now? Why do it when sanctions are in place and can be easily be tightened as the result? Looks like in order to make such a statement Putin should have intelligence information about a real threat of attack from the USA, or some large scale provocation in Syria or Ukraine. Only in this case his statement makes some sense. As a open warning: do not do it. Otherwise this is just an open invitation for the new, more destructive and expensive stage in nuclear arms race. The scenario that Russia should try to avoid.

2. Also the rule is: if your adversary is making a mistake, you should not try to stop him. If missile defense systems and aircraft carriers are useless why not to allow the USA to put another 100 billion dollars into it ? Something does not compute here. BTW both remain perfectly viable as the first strike weapons (you never know what those tubes contain and they can hold cruise missiles as well). The fact that they will perish is just part of the cost of the whole operation.

3. Russia has way too many problems, both economic and political. So each dollar put into military technology is stolen from the civilian sector and makes sanctions more effective. So succumbing to the arm race is like self-sanctions.

4. After 2012 it is clear that the way the USA will try to undermine Russia is most probably via political interference during the next election, in which there will be a power vacuum as Putin finishes his last term, and there is no Putin II. The problem of the leader succession is a well-known Achilles' spot of Russia. In 2012 the "collective West" achieved pretty significant success in staging color revolution in Russia using pro-West (aka Zapadniki) and comprador sector in Moscow as the fifth column. The political situation in Moscow will always favor pro-European forces, as this city has a huge concentration of employees of foreign companies, professionals and entrepreneurs who depend on the West and earn money from the West (compradors) . Efforts to put in power a classic neoliberal like Macron in France will be multiplied for elections in 2024. I do not see, why they can't be more successful then in 2012.

5. While weakened by the recent McCarthyism campaign in the USA, Russian comprador sector and neoliberals are still a very powerful political force and control a significant part of media and oligarch money. Russian constitution was written by the USA. And scars from the economic rape of Russia in 90th still did not fully heal. In other words, pro-Western forces in Russia are powerful enough to serve as a base to stage another color revolution. Probably along with crashing oil prices before the elections again, or some other nasty trick. In this case you do not need any missiles. As long as Russia is a neoliberal country Putin and his policies remain a political anomaly. And Putin himself a maverick. There will be no another Putin, but there can well be another Gorbachov, or, worse, Yeltsin. The same is true for China, but at least China has political control of the Communist Party and state ownership of the financial sector. The latter is not true for Russia and is a huge political risk. While neoliberalism entered the stage of decline there is no viable alternatives on the horizon.

6. Loss of Ukraine was/is a huge geopolitical defeat of Putin (and Russia as a country) which can't be compensated any bragging about new weapon systems. It was and still is a geopolitical knockdown.

7. Hopes about "some sensible conversation on the new world order may start between key geopolitical players" are naïve. The US elite is hell-bent on world superiority as this is a pre-condition of the existence of the dollar as the primary world currency. This situation will not probably change until the end of cheap oil, which might take another twenty years or more.

8. If time is working against the USA, why not to sit quiet and try not to anger aging hegemon as China supposedly does (having also advantage of host of "offshored" manufacturing from the USA and having the USA as debtor).

9. The level of brain drain from Russia actually is a huge limiting factor, which makes a claim about cruising missile with a nuclear reactor as a part of propulsion engine highly suspect.

10. The network of intelligence agencies around Russia (which now include Estonia and Ukraine) probably represents much more serious threat then the "first strike" capability of the USA, if such thing can ever exist.

11. "Collective West" can easily tighten sanction expanding them on more technological sectors, thus damaging Russia economic growth. So bragging about new weapons is bad diplomacy when the opponent is much stronger economically and politically.

12. China has less than 300 nuclear weapons and still is regarded as a formidable nuclear power, probably spending 20 times less money in this area.

13. The claim that "The Kinzhal effectively removes any non-suicidal surface force thousands of miles away from Russia's shores and renders its capabilities irrelevant" is highly questionable. The idea of the first strike includes the elimination of the possibility of launching most (or all) Kinzhal missiles carriers, as a necessary part required for the success of the operation. Any losses of forward deployed units are acceptable in such a huge game.

peterAUS , March 6, 2018 at 4:26 am GMT
@iffen

Just a pre-empt, tiring if you say you don't understand Ukraine, etc. then twenty comments; dem Jews.

No rain, too much rain, dem Jews.

Well, you did utter the trigger word.

Guess your family believes religiously in the eternal victimhood and in the right of Jewish people to demand special treatment from "others"– "because of Holocaust." -- This is over. After the fraternization of the Kagans' clan (via Nuland-Kagan) with neo-Nazi in Ukraine and after Israeli's support for ISIS, Jewish pretenses on superior morality (and similar fantastic inventions) have become unrealistic.

Yahweh, help us.

peterAUS , March 6, 2018 at 4:43 am GMT
@likbez

Putin should have intelligence information about a real threat of attack from the USA, or some large scale provocation in Syria or Ukraine.

I'd go for Ukraine.

Something does not compute here.

Well, "if we can't have it it's not good." Sour grapes.

Russia has way too many problems, both economic and political. So each dollar put into military technology is stolen from the civilian sector and makes sanctions more effective. So succumbing to the arm race is like self-sanctions.

Agree.

In other words, pro-Western forces in Russia are powerful enough to serve as a base to stage another color revolution. In this case you do not need any missiles.

...While neoliberalism entered the stage of decline there is no viable alternatives on the horizon.

Agree.

Loss of Ukraine was/is a huge geopolitical defeat of Putin (and Russia as a country) which can't be compensated any bragging about new weapon systems. It was and still is a geopolitical knockdown.

Agree. But, perhaps that's not true. In any case, the resident "Team Russia" will now explain that. As victory, of course.

Hopes about "some sensible conversation on the new world order may start between key geopolitical players" are naïve. The US elite is hell-bent on world superiority as this is a pre-condition of the existence of the dollar as the primary world currency.

Agree.

If time is working against the US, why not to sit quiet and try not to anger aging hegemon as China supposedly does (having also advantage of host of "offshored" manufacturing from the USA and having the USA as debtor).

and

The level of brain drain from Russia actually is a huge limiting factor, which makes a claim about cruising missile with a nuclear reactor as a part of propulsion engine highly suspect.

and

"Collective West" can easily tighten sanction expanding them on more technological sectors, thus damaging Russia economic growth. So bragging about new weapons is bad diplomacy when the opponent is much stronger economically and politically.

"Team Russia" coming up. You are about to see the light. Somehow.

peterAUS , Next New Comment March 6, 2018 at 5:48 pm GMT
@Sergey Krieger

Putin and those around him would better do concentrate on internal issues or eventually issues will concentrate on them.

Agree.

This obsession with high tech is actually puzzling. Not only that, but, overall, which "military" is better. "Whose father/older brother is stronger" kid talk.

The Empire shall go for the Russia's internal problems and try to capitalize on that. Ukraine was taken down using that approach. Oh, wait, not only Ukraine but all those who didn't tow the line. Thinking that, somehow, a conventional war, only, will settle the issue is not only delusional but stupid. Why would The Empire do that? No reason whatsoever.

It will try to do exactly what's been doing since '91. Internal dissent.

So, while Russian elites will keep building high tech weaponry (remember USSR), The Empire will keep working on getting all those "unhappy" with Putin regime onboard and using them for weakening the regime.

If the regime in Moscow can't, or doesn't want to see it, well, it doesn't deserve that position. True, weapons industry is good for making money and stashing most of it offshore. Not sharing that wealth, though, with general population is not that smart, just, they simply can't help it. That's the way of the world there. Czars and serfs.

The problem is, of course, they can't step down even if they wanted to. Nobody wants kangaroo courts and hanging. Or public murder broadcast live on Internet. Conundrum.

FB , March 6, 2018 at 2:06 pm GMT
@likbez

You make some interesting observations and your comment is thought-provoking

However I think the intent of the article was to explore some of the technical issues of what we saw on March 1 not so much the political dimension and certainly your approach is to try to get an overall wide angle picture that gets every possible Russia issue into the frame

which by necessity means you give up some resolution or granularity if you will compared to a more tightly focused article

You start with an initial premise of why announce these weapons now and question the wisdom the simple answer may be technical related these weapons may be already mature technically and now is the time to show them ?

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

A couple more points you mention sanctions quite a bit but we have seen that Russia is able to carry on just fine sanctions or not

The key indicator there is that sanctions are having a much bigger blowback on the US itself i.e. the US is losing Europe

Germany has been quite vocal about US going a step too far in trying to dictate energy policy which is key to German industrial export economy and besides they may finally be finding their sea legs after years of subservience to an increasingly unhinged country that is heading for the cliff

The Germans are going to get Nordstream 2 because they want it. It is actually more important to Germany than to Russia Russia has been supplying energy to Europe for many decades going back to Soviet times but is just now starting to feed the biggest energy consumer in the world China

Other, smaller EU countries notably Italy have become quite vocal about Russia sanctions hurting them we saw just now an election in Italy where the ruling claque were turfed

So it seems that the days of US dictating the politics to its European vassals may be over the kind of friction they are making with sanctions and their increasing hysteria is only hastening this process of vassals breaking off

The other issue is Ukraine you bring to this the the typical US perspective of 'losing' a country this again goes back to the vassal game

The US gained all of Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union but did Russia lose anything sensible people will say the lost they burden of empire long after it had ceased being profitable as with the British previously

Ukraine is historically something of an artificial country the original Kievan Rus [Rurivik dynasty] was the original Russia it fell apart after the Mongol invasions but the Russian and Ukrainian language and people are mostly indistinguishable other than the Galician Catholic minority

For several hundred years the peoples of the Ukraine [ie even then it was more than a single national people] were under rule by the Poles and Lithuania while the new Russian empire based in Moscow gained strength and eventually took over 300 years ago

There are and have always been Ukrainian nationalists that do not like Russia but they are in the minority the best way to think of Ukraine is similar to Scotland even the Irish are more distant from the English than Ukrainians from Russians

Politically the situation we see in Ukraine is that the ordinary people don't really care about the politics they are genuinely concerned about bread and butter it is quite sad actually that the US is treating the Ukraine as a pawn and a quite cheap one at that in its game with Russia

I don't believe the Russians look at the situation that way there is real fraternity among many Russians and Ukrainians that goes to a fundamental level again similar to Scotland where the country is divided on the issue of the English

So unless the EU and US are prepared to do a full Marshall plan to drag Ukraine into a reasonable living standard then this 'win' will turn out to be something of a chimera

Heck the polls even in eastern Europe are trending against the post Cold War direction with about half the people now questioning if the new boss is really better than the old boss

And finally if you are going to do a wide angle shot like this then get the crazy cousin into the picture also ie the US and its failing Ponzi economy that is bound to collapse just on the principles of mathematics

China and Russia are working to bury the source of all US strength the petrodollar this is literally kryptonite the US is quite simply toast once the petrodollar sinks

China is the world's biggest economy and biggest energy buyer Russia is the world's biggest energy seller other nations too that are not so strong and have felt the body blows of US economic warfare such as Iran, Venezuela and other will gladly join in

It's starting to feel like US has used up all its chips and all its markers

The entire developing world wants real prosperity not economic colonialism and corporate plunder

These are some large and powerful currents that have to be taken into account if one is going to take a wide angle shot of geopolitics

AP , Next New Comment March 6, 2018 at 6:53 pm GMT
@FB

Ukraine is historically something of an artificial country the original Kievan Rus [Rurivik dynasty] was the original Russia it fell apart after the Mongol invasions

Relationship of Kievan Rus to modern Russia and Ukraine is somewhat analogous to the relationship of Charlemagne's Frankish Empire to modern France or Germany. Although both Germany and France would have to be in the same linguistic family for the analogy to be more accurate.

For several hundred years the peoples of the Ukraine [ie even then it was more than a single national people] were under rule by the Poles and Lithuania

Correct. This meant not only political separation but largescale settlement (about 10% of the population were Polish settlers – these were absorbed by the natives, so most Ukrainians have some Polish roots), centuries of schooling, etc. And this was enough to lead to a different culture, language, identity.

eventually took over 300 years ago

The eastern half of Ukraine was linked to Moscow in the 1650s (so indeed about 300 years), but the western half in the 1770s (so 200 years) and Galicia not until 1939.

but the Russian and Ukrainian language and people are mostly indistinguishable

Incorrect. Ukrainian is about as close to Russian as it is to Polish (Ukrainian grammar and pronunciation is closer to Russian, but Ukrainian vocabulary actually has more words in common with Polish than with Russian). The Scandinavian languages are closer to each other Russian is to Ukrainian. The catch is that in everyday life about half of Ukrainians, and most urban Ukrainians other than people in Lviv, use Russian rather than Ukrainian. Kiev is a Russian-speaking city (and Dublin an English-speaking one).

the best way to think of Ukraine is similar to Scotland

Anatol Lieven correctly observed that Ukraine's relationship to Russia is somewhere between that of Scotland and that of Ireland, to England. Viewing it as Scotland is too positive, as Ireland too negative. Given that Scotland itself nearly separated, it is natural to see Ukraine as separate.

[Mar 03, 2018] Shocking EU Reforms Ukraine's public debt doubles in 4 years, while personal incomes halve

Mar 03, 2018 | www.fort-russ.com

The Ukrainian economy is in a catastrophic state after four years of "euro-reforms," said ​​Viktor Medvedchuk, head of the public movement "Ukrainian Choice – People's Right." "At the end of 2013. Ukraine's state and publicly guaranteed debt was 40% of GDP, and by the end of 2017 it had more than doubled, exceeding 80% of GDP. In 2013, Ukraine's GDP per capita was more than $ 4,075, and in 2016 decreased to $ 2221.

The average monthly salary in 2017 as a whole for the country was $ 267 (in 2013 it exceeded $ 408), pensions are also 2.3 times lower than before the euro reform. Today, it is slightly more than $ 48, while in 2013 it was almost $ 112, " Medvedchuk said.

[Mar 02, 2018] >US Approves Sale of Anti-Tank Missiles to Ukraine by Jason Ditz

Mar 02, 2018 | news.antiwar.com

$47 million sale targeted at neighboring Russia

Posted on March 1, 2018 Categories News Tags Pentagon , Russia , Ukraine

With Ukrainian officials continuing to talk up their hostility with neighboring Russia, the Pentagon announced on Thursday that approval has been granted for the sale of Javelin anti-tank systems to Ukraine.

The sale, estimated at a $47 million deal for Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, would involve 37 Javelin Command Launch Units and 210 missiles . The Poroshenko government says it will be used to "protect Ukrainian soldiers."

Russia is protesting the sale, however, arguing that the sale of the missiles would encourage Ukraine to resume the use of force against Eastern Ukraine's ethnic Russian rebels, with the idea that they would deploy the missiles against any rebel tanks, and also against any Russian tanks that might join the fight.

Pentagon officials downplayed the issue, saying they don't believe the Javelin missiles will materially change the military balance of power in the region. Despite obvious offensive uses for such missiles, the US is trying to spin this as another "defensive" sale to Ukraine.

[Mar 02, 2018] Review 'Breaking Point' Finds Fake News and Real Violence in Ukraine

So Europeans, both Russians and Ukrainians are dying again for the USA geopolitical goals.
Mar 02, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

The first line of the Ukrainian national anthem is "Ukraine has not yet died," one interviewee says in "Breaking Point," a fierce documentary about that country and its recent clashes with Russia. For a land often perched on the edge of ruin, she says, mere survival is something to celebrate.

Directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and Oles Sanin, the film starts with a rundown of a history that has repeated itself for centuries -- invaders have long prized Ukraine for its resources and geography, and modern times are no exception.

... ... ...

The filmmakers supply terrifying footage: At civilian rallies, we see nightstick beatings and bloody riots. During military battles, bullets whiz by and explosions shake the cameras. Nerve-racking scenes follow Ukraine's extraordinarily bold volunteer soldiers.

[Feb 28, 2018] Barring black swan events, the Ukraine is meta-stable and can muddle along indefinitely

Feb 28, 2018 | www.unz.com

p

Pavlo , February 28, 2018 at 4:34 am GMT

the government makes a show of it.

there has been dramatic improvement in number of soldiers, usability of equipment

That is the show.

The Ukrainian army's battlefield performance after February 2015 has not improved, nor will the odds ever again be as favourable as they were in Mid-2014. Kiev has assembled an army suitable for skirmishing and the occasional terrorist attack, nothing more strenuous. Building an army capable of winning the war would entail discipline and sacrifice, and the effort would be for nothing since the RF forces would move in and crush Kiev's army if it were ever on the point of victory.

Kiev is content with the status quo – it's far from ideal for them but it's not so bad as to justify the risks involved in a new offensive (this will never happen). Barring black swan events, the Ukraine is meta-stable and can muddle along indefinitely, so long as Moscow does not pull its finger out of its backside and resolve the situation properly.

likbez , February 28, 2018 at 10:52 am GMT
@Pavlo

Kiev is content with the status quo – it's far from ideal for them but it's not so bad as to justify the risks involved in a new offensive (this will never happen). Barring black swan events, the Ukraine is meta-stable and can muddle along indefinitely, so long as Moscow does not pull its finger out of its backside and resolve the situation properly.

Two consideration:

1. Ukraine decides very little. Government was outsourced to Washington, DC. If creation of tension with Russia is necessary, they will launch offensive.
2. Nationalist movements, especially far-right, have their own often destructive dynamics and can do things that are illogical and/or highly harmful for the country. They also are ready to fight and die for their ideas. In this sense Poroshenko is a hostage of Galician far right "revolutionaries. "

[Feb 27, 2018] Syria vs Ukraine

Looks like Poroshenko is playing with fire. the longer Donetsk and Lugansk republics exists as a separate political entities the more difficult and costly will be to bring them back. Each year matters in this respect. After, say, ten year probably no compromise could ever emerge, unless Russia is weakened and /or dissolved into smaller statelets (the permanent problem for Russia is change of leadership, so 2024 will be a very important year, as Putin does not have any realistic successor who can continue his policies. So iether Russian "economic nationalists" (to borrow Bannon's term) or Pro-European faction will come to power. In both cases foreign policies change. Or the US economy crash again and military budget will be drastically cut, leaving no money for foreign military adventure and the protection of neoliberal empire. Direct attach might elicit Russian response and as such is highly risky (especially in view of Russia being pissed by the USA all the time now and might want to make Ukraine, as a US client, a boy for beating) , but periodic skirmishes just run this territory into wasteland that Syria regions now are. They also drive population out.
Notable quotes:
"... IMO the emerging partition is likely to last a long time. Syria is only 80 years old as a state and a prolonged de facto partition as opposed to wartime occupation can easily become more or less perm ..."
"... If the Kurds of Afrin throw themselves on the mercy of the Syrian government in Damascus then Kurdish autonomy is squashed in that enclave. And, when it is all said and done, isn't that what Erdogan really wants? ..."
Feb 27, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

turcopolier , 25 February 2018 at 11:06 PM

TTG et al

You don't understand what I mean. IMO the emerging partition is likely to last a long time. Syria is only 80 years old as a state and a prolonged de facto partition as opposed to wartime occupation can easily become more or less permanent as was the case with Turkey's acquisition of Hatay. pl

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 26 February 2018 at 12:30 AM
I certainly don't dispute that Turkey is invading Afrin. And I agree with you that if things continue to stand as they are now then that invasion will continue until all of Afrin has been overrun.

But to simply extrapolate from what has happened into the future suggests that circumstances won't change or - if they do - that Erdogan will continue on like some wind-up automaton.

If the Kurds of Afrin throw themselves on the mercy of the Syrian government in Damascus then Kurdish autonomy is squashed in that enclave. And, when it is all said and done, isn't that what Erdogan really wants?

If the Kurds are too stupid or too proud to play that card then, yeah, sure, you and I both agree that they will be ground into the dirt.

But if they do supplicate to Assad then the situation changes.

You (I assume) believe that in that circumstance Erdogan will continue to grind on with this invasion regardless.

I believe he will beat his chest and then go home.

One of us will be wrong, and one of us will be right.

[Feb 25, 2018] I were in the US or EU leadership, I'd make sure that Ukraine is not my friend, simply for the sake of self-preservation.

Neither EU nor the USA want to be Ukrainian friends. They want Ukrainian market and resources. That's it.
Feb 25, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anon Disclaimer , February 26, 2018 at 12:20 am GMT

Anon from TN

Somehow in numerous statements in this thread, mostly boiling down to "mine is more Russian than yours", the key issues were missed. I am not even talking about obvious trolls trying to denigrate Putin's foreign policy feats. He achieved a lot more with a relatively weak hand than the US with a much stronger one, both in Syria and in Ukraine.

Admittedly, Ukraine does not count: only Americans, who have no history and don't know the history of other countries, could have stepped into that particular pile of s Ukraine brings ruin to anyone it supports. At the beginning of the eighteens century Ukrainian Hetman Mazepa betrayed Russia and joined the Swedes. Peter the Great decimated Swedes in the battle near Poltava. That was the end of Sweden as a great European power. Western Ukrainians fought for Austro-Hungarian Empire in WWI. Where is that Empire now? Then "independent" Ukraine supported Germans. Well, they lost WWI. Then Ukrainians served Hitler in WWII. USSR smeared Nazi Germany over he wall. Then Ukrainians were "holier then thou" supporters of the Soviet Union. Where is it now? So, if I were in the US or EU leadership, I'd make sure that Ukraine is not my friend, simply for the sake of self-preservation.

Syria is a totally different story. The Empire, on behalf of Israel and Saudis, tried to break it up into a bunch of powerless Bantustans. The plan seemed to be close to bearing fruit until Putin threw a wrench into the works. With ridiculously small ground and air force he turned the tide of the war. The Empire was frustrated. Hence the hysterics.

Anyway, IMHO Putin's Russia has two major weaknesses. One is the profusion of oligarchs who stole their riches from the state and hid the loot offshore. He does not seem inclined to tackle them, likely honoring the deal he made in 2000. "Protected" appear to include even such notorious figures as Chubais (if you ask Russians, ~90% would say that oligarchs should be stripped of their wealth, tried, and imprisoned; but as many or more would say that Chubais should be publicly hanged). The other weakness is that it remains a one-man show, i.e., the absence of credible state institutions and an obvious successor. The rest is chaff.

Jake , February 26, 2018 at 12:50 am GMT
"what we see is that western democracies are run by gangs of oligarchs and bureaucrats who have almost nothing in common with the people they are supposed to represent."

ABSOLUTELY TRUE!

Robert Dunn , Website February 26, 2018 at 1:06 am GMT
I'm like so totally sure the CIA will not be interfering with their election.
Kiza , February 26, 2018 at 1:36 am GMT
@utu

Just for a moment I will take you seriously, although you sometimes write truly silly stuff, and respond.

Yes, the AngloZionist would prefer to turn and absorb the Russian and Chinese elite, but only as low subordinates. This is what they have been doing in other conquered countries – generating a mix of the new and compliant part of the old elite with a greater proportion of the new elite. The Russian neo-Liberals are ready and waiting for the job, looking down on their compatriots as cattle (the same word as goyim, what an amazing coincidence!?). Read what this Felix writes about the Russians. This gang turned Russia into killing fields in 1917 and will gladly do it again given half a chance by their foreign masters.

The masters are underwriting the full-time writing of puppets such as Karlin. Karlin is the Russian Elliot Higgins , interpreting data without a faintest idea of solid data analysis, a paid full-time hack drawing the right conclusions for the empire. Perhaps he sees himself as a minister in the Russian puppet government after the successful regime change.

Therefore, this group of regular trolls (about 10 nicks) on all Saker's writings are aiming to be that future new Russian servant elite when Russia would be absorbed. They are truly the last thing that Russian people need.

As I said above, I have seen it all before, it is deja vu all over again (Yogi Bear).

[Feb 25, 2018] Poland vs Ukraine

Actually life in Ukraine was not that bad in 2010-2014. Hopefully "After-Maydan" deterioration might be temporary, although without new markets for Ukrainian industrial goods recovery is almost impossible. Also the level of foreign debt is now much higher, so they dig a deeper hole for themselves to climb out. Other probable scenario is bankruptcy. See also Bill Black Once a Poster Child for Austerity, Latvia Becomes a Hotbed of Corruption naked capitalism
Feb 25, 2018 | www.unz.com

Dmitry , Next New Comment February 25, 2018 at 7:15 pm GMT

@Felix Keverich

Poland's level of GDP per capita is 6 times bigger than Ukraine's. They started out around the same level in 1991 and were supposed to follow the same playbook. To the extent that their paths diverged can be explained by Ukrainian corruption and incompetence.

Poland received hundreds of billions of dollars in EU subsidies and transfers. Not a fair comparison. Even still today they are receiving this transfer of wealth from net contributor countries in the EU (there's another good reason EU became unpopular in net contributor countries like the UK and the Netherlands):

https://msp.gov.pl/en/polish-economy/economic-news/4015,Poland-to-get-nearly-EUR-106-bln-from-2014-2020-EU-budget-pool-expected-impact-o.html

Felix Keverich , Next New Comment February 25, 2018 at 8:16 pm GMT
@Dmitry

Energy subsidies from Russia to the Ukraine are estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars since 1991. The Ukraine has been well subsidized since independence. What they have been desperately lacking is governance.

[Feb 25, 2018] The neoliberal "methodology" for "showing economic success" is propaganda masquerading as "science". So they sell Latvia as a poster child of austerity, true neoliberal market miracle. In reality it is a hot bed of curruption and deindustrialization

Latvia now is a typical neoliberal debt slave and flourishing sex trafficking market. Not that different from other Baltic states, Ukraine, Moldavia and generally all xUSSR space.
Feb 25, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

YankeeFrank , February 25, 2018 at 7:38 am

Bill mentions the brain drain from Latvia, but I seem to recall a quite massive general emigration from the country during austerity, which also helped to "reduce unemployment" as well. The neoliberal "methodology" for "showing economic success" is moral and economic bankruptcy masquerading as "science". And wow. So we have Latvia to thank for the coming nuclear holocaust as well. A true neoliberal market miracle.

Lambert's two principles of neoliberalism are once again brought to mind:

#1 Because markets.

#2 Go die.

Skip Intro , February 25, 2018 at 11:03 am

All those 'excess' workers who left were helping keep wages low in the EU
In the sense that Latvia's future productivity is sacrificed for short-term benefits on the books, it starts to look like another asset-stripping scheme, and the costs are borne by workers in the EU.

The Rev Kev , February 25, 2018 at 8:40 am

This is not the first time that Latvia has appeared on NC ( https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/01/latvias-economic-disaster-as-a-neoliberal-success-story-a-model-for-europe-and-the-us.html ) and probably won't be the last. What is it about neoliberalism that that seems to have corruption as part of its DNA?

Latvia already has one of the highest levels of poverty and income inequality in the EU and its population has dropped by about a fifth in the past 18 years which is a bit of a record considering that there was no war, that is, unless you count the neoliberal war on people. Some moved to the capital Riga but most bailed out of the country altogether and are not coming back. You can find whole blocks of empty buildings in some towns.
But don't worry. The Latvians are on the case. The head of the Latvian Central Bank detained for extortion and the Latvian Ministry of Defense both blame, you guessed it, Russia!

Lambert's two principles of neoliberalism may have to be updated. He already has
#1 Because markets.
#2 Go die.

He may have to modify the second one to say
#2 Go die or get the hell outta Dodge.

DJG , February 25, 2018 at 9:11 am

Now I may be prejudiced because the Gs came from deepest darkest Lithuania–and we're talking out in the endless woods in a village along a lake.

When people talk about population decline in Latvia, you are talking about part of the corruption. The native Latvians wanted a way of getting rid of the Russian population, many of whom are considered immigrants. So dropping 20 percent of the population means throwing out the Russians. When your "population policy " is based on something like that, you can image what the country's economic policies are like.

In contrast–although Lithuania, too, has lost some 10 – 15 percent of its population since restored independence–the Lithuanians came to terms, imperfect terms, with their smaller Polish and Russian minorities. Nevertheless, the Lithuanians didn't go whole-hog free-market fundamentalism. And when a recent president was found to be corrupt, they impeached him and threw him out.

So you have different models for how to survive as a Baltic State. Latvia has made a mess of its "model."

edmondo , February 25, 2018 at 10:53 am

"Now of course that's still in a land where they had really severely repressed wages for the working class and for middle class, and continued to tolerate a fair degree of unemployment and underemployment for folks, as well. So, yeah it works really well for the oligarchs. And they do employ people. The unemployment rate drops, but the country invariably becomes extremely corrupt."

Was he still talking about Latvia or did he switch over to the USA?

Altandmain , February 25, 2018 at 12:15 pm

There is a strong correlation between inequality and corruption.

Furthermore, in the medium term there is a causal relationship:
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1331677X.2016.1169701

This would suggest that inflicting austerity on a population, which worsens inequality, will set the precedent for corruption in the future.

Massinissa , February 25, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Half a decade ago when Latvia was considered a success story for neoliberal austerity, one animator made this great satire video making fun of how farcical it was to consider it such.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IRUBJ8qraY

Eustache De Saint Pierre , February 25, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Latvia also being part of that running sore which involves according to the US state department's last global estimate, about 800,000 to a million victims per annum of people trafficking. Of which around 80% are female, with a not stated amount being children, used for both labour & sexual purposes.

I suppose that it comes as little surprise that the 2 main flows of these commodities is from East to West & South to North.

[Feb 24, 2018] How to Solve the Ukraine Crisis Peacekeepers

An interesting discussion with two polar views on the situation. There is no good guys in the story anyway. Nether the USA, or Russia, or Ukrainian nationalists, or separatists qualify. Truth probably lies somewhere in between. The debate itself reminds the current political debate in the USA between neoliberals/globalists and "economic nationalists"/isolationalists : the two sides do not hear other and their positions are irreconcilable. Each has its own set of grievances. Its own version of history. And its own vision of the desirable future.
Independence by itself meant huge stimulus to Western Ukrainian nationalists (who historically lived a long time under Hapsburg empire). So their political ascendance were given and Maydan was just the culmination point of a long process (actually encouraged by EU members such as Germany, Poland , Baltic republics and Sweden)
The USA clearly tried to secure it geopolitical interests via forcefully turning Ukraine to the West. Despite the fact that it was not completely ready for such a move yet; although were slowly moving in this direction since independence. Germany (and EU in general) played the same fatal role of "accelerator" as well. They wanted new markets for their goods and also have geopolitical interests in weakening Russia (which did happened; Ukraine was the biggest strategic defeat of Putin). The Nazi Lebensraum was, after all, about Ukraine.
But the process of "separation" from Russia was pretty much under way since independence and proceeded at a brisk pace under Yanukovich too, who actually supported Ukrainian nationalists during his term (especially Svoboda, hoping to create something like the USA two party systems: nationalists vs Party of Regions). And it was Yanukovich government which prepared and intended to sign the association agreement with the EU. Then Yanukovich hesitated to sign it and at this point was doomed as pro-Western forces has already their own dynamics and financial support from abroad. With the financial. organizational and political support support of the USA and EU were able to depose him. Large (for Ukraine political scene) amount of money was injected, protesters bused from Western Ukraine, and eventually yet another color revolution (the first was so called Orange revolution which brought to power Yushchenko government) took care of Yanukovich regime. The problem is that this "alternative" political course and a new vision of Ukrainian future proved to be a minefield. Also the association agreement with EU was very unfair to Ukrainian economic interests and essentially downgraded the status of Ukraine to the status of neo-colony openly promoting deindustrialization like in Baltic Republics.
Some unrealistic dreams about benefits of Ukraine association with EU were pretty widespread and become a political factor in the success of the Maydan. nobody understood that by trying to balance between Russia and the West Yanukovich postponed the day of reckoning and kept economics expanding. Everybody hated corrupt Yanukovich although some members of his cabinet were pretty competent technocrats. Nobody calculated losses from the separation of economic ties with Russia and having a hostile Russia as a neighbor. Hopes that EU will open its market for Ukrainian agricultural goods and to Ukrainian gastarbeiters proved to be exaggerated. To say nothing about the danger (or even mere possibility) of civil war as the result of Maydan. All those dreams about improving the standard of living via association with EU were buried after the Maydan very soon. The currency dropped around 300% after 2014 from 8.5 to 27 grivna per dollar. Markets in Russia are almost completely lost.
Ukrainian nationalists decided that the success of Maydan gave them carte blanche on neo-colonization of Eastern Ukraine as well as the suppression of Russian language and culture. They miscalculated. This policy was similar to "Polinization of Western Ukraine" by Poles and it faced growing resistance. Lugansk and Donetsk republic are direct results of this resistance (not without Russia help). In other words this policy backfired, and now those regions represent a Gordian knot for both the USA, EU, Russia and Ukraine. For Poroshenko government to agree on federalization (which Minsk accords presuppose) means to lose face politically (Why to organize Maydan in such cases, if the net result is a huge drop of the standard of living, loss of Crimea, and federalization of Ukraine?), and they prefer military solution to the problem. The USA under Trump administration are only happy to sell weapons to them (as well as coal to replace lost coal from Donetsk region). And nuclear fuel to electrical stations inread of Russia. Meanwhile economics is not improving and that also represents a political threat to Poroshenko, making push for the military solution more probable.
Notable quotes:
"... Any agreement, however -- at least as far as the U.S. State Department is concerned -- would require that Russia must make the first move to ease tensions. ..."
"... Secretary Tillerson has made it abundantly clear that Russia must take the first steps to de-escalate violence and resolve this conflict by fully implementing the Minsk Accords." ..."
"... Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for ..."
"... . You can follow him on Twitter: ..."
"... This country is screwed, alas. Peacekeepers will not change much, but they could help stop shellings and thus help regular people who suffer the most. ..."
"... Strelkov came into Donbass on April 12, 2014 and the acting president Turchinov announced ATO (Anti terrorist operation) on April 7. The people of Donbass protested peacefully for months and no one wanted to talk with them. They sent tanks and jets instead. ..."
"... "And yes, his self-promotion as the "governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals." ..."
"... Indeed, that is why there is a civil war in Ukraine. "Red Cross officially declares Ukraine civil war" https://www.thelocal.ch/201... ..."
Feb 23, 2018 | nationalinterest.org

Any agreement, however -- at least as far as the U.S. State Department is concerned -- would require that Russia must make the first move to ease tensions. However, it is unclear is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or anyone in his department truly speaks for the Trump Administration.

"It's important to be clear about U.S. policy towards the conflict: Crimea is Ukraine. The Donbas is Ukraine. We will never accept trading one region of Ukraine for another. We will never make a deal about Ukraine without Ukraine," John J. Sullivan, deputy secretary of state, said during a speech in at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Diplomatic Academy in Kiev on Feb. 21 . "To advance these fundamental goals, Secretary Tillerson appointed Ambassador Kurt Volker as Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations in July of last year. And his mandate is to break the deadlock with Russia over Ukraine. Secretary Tillerson has made it abundantly clear that Russia must take the first steps to de-escalate violence and resolve this conflict by fully implementing the Minsk Accords."

Time will tell if any progress will be made in solving the Donbas situation.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest . You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar .


Joe Stevens , February 22, 2018 2:20 AM

If that's the case, then America needs to pull it's own illegal occupation forces out of eastern Syria ASAP too! Eastern Syria is Syria. Eastern Syria is NOT part of Kurdistan! What a bunch of hypocrites.

Vic , February 22, 2018 7:11 AM

"One potential approach -- which as been proposed by U.S. special representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker -- is where peacekeepers would be deployed in phases while Ukraine implements some of the measures it agreed to under the Minsk agreements."

-That could work, here is the Minsk 2 agreement for those that don't know, https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...

It stipulates that Ukraine should complete a number of things, and by the end of it Donbass will be returned to Ukraine. If you add phased peacekeepers to this it could work, the peacekeepers would start between Donbass and Ukraine, and then move into Donbass and get more control the more of the Minsk 2 agreement Ukraine completed.

The peacekeepers could not be NATO or Russian troops for each side to agree obviously

VadimKharichkov , February 22, 2018 5:08 AM

Europe and the US have nothing of value to offer to Ukraine because there's little to exchange it for. There is no economy and too few natural resources to fight for. Thus, Ukraine will remain a suitcase without a handle despite wet dreams of its ultra-nationalists (should be represented in the troll section of this thread).

It will remain useless as an economical ally to Russia in the upcoming years because Ukraine is divided within itself.

The only thing it will be good for, is to serve as an example for everybody on how foolish it is to overthrow democratically elected governments for the sake of fairy tales.

The conflict there will be frozen for decades, as it was frozen in Moldova and Georgia. Without Russian and European investments, there will be no economical development in Ukraine.

This country is screwed, alas. Peacekeepers will not change much, but they could help stop shellings and thus help regular people who suffer the most.

Jorge Martinho VadimKharichkov , February 22, 2018 6:13 AM

Vadim, if Ukraine is not important, why do you spend so much of your precious time writing about it? Why does Russia keep financing the war in Donbass if its so uninteresting to invest in Ukraine? Why did Russia steal Ukrainian gas in the Azov Sea? Or why does it steal ukrainian coal in Donbass? Where did the machinery from the Donbass factories go, Vadim?

Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 7:02 AM

"Or why does it steal ukrainian coal in Donbass?"

-The coal belongs to the people of Donbass, not Ukraine, and Ukraine itself banned buying gas from these territories in hope that it will cause more misery to the civilians living there, just like Ukraine stole their pensions and their social welfare in hope for causing maximal suffering.

Jorge Martinho Vic , February 22, 2018 9:09 AM

The Donbass is internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. Second Ukraine is not obliged to pay for the Russian occupation of its territory. The occupation force is responsible for everything that happens inside that territory, even the payment or not of pensions.

Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 10:06 AM

That is a pure lie, the conflict between Donbass and Ukraine is a civil war. Russia is not occupying those territories. And Donbass will return to Ukraine if they can follow thru on the Minsk 2 agreement like they agreed to, but never will of course, because the hyper-corrupt Ukrainian government need the legitimacy and distraction that war brings both domestically to avoid coup and internationally as an excuse.

"Red Cross officially declares Ukraine civil war" https://www.thelocal.ch/201...

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 1:56 PM

Strelkov, referring to the war he helped start in Donbas: "In the beginning, nobody there wanted to fight."

Pro-Russian agitators like Pavel Gubarev tried to illegally take over government buildings in E Ukraine, and also tried to organize protests, but they had little support from the local population. The local population was cynical about Kiev, but they certainly weren't interested in starting a civil war. That is why Strelkov and other Russians had to start the war.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 2:48 PM

"but they certainly weren't interested in starting a civil war. That is why Strelkov and other Russians had to start the war."

-Nobody wanted a war of course, that is one reason why the Kiev government became so dependent on volunteer n4zists, they were the only one that was eager and willing to kill their brothers at the whims of the unconstitutional coup regime. The average Ukrainian soldiers didn't want to fight and a lot of the Donbass fighters came from defected Ukrainian soldiers.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 5:55 PM

Again, all I have to do is point to Strelkov: "In the beginning, nobody there wanted to fight."

"I dream of a Russia in its natural borders," he says. "At least those of 1939." He claims to have been the one who convinced Putin to intervene militarily in Ukraine, at a time, he says, when the Kremlin was still debating the proper approach to the country."

"I was the one who pulled the trigger for war," Strelkov boasts."

http://www.spiegel.de/inter...

Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:17 AM

Doesn't matter at all what some commanders "boasts" , the war was started when the unconstitutional and unelected government of Ukraine sent its army to crush the rebels.

brylcream Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 3:20 AM

Strelkov came into Donbass on April 12, 2014 and the acting president Turchinov announced ATO (Anti terrorist operation) on April 7.
The people of Donbass protested peacefully for months and no one wanted to talk with them. They sent tanks and jets instead.

"and also tried to organize protests, but they had little support from the local population. "

This is a blatant lie.

Alex Robeson brylcream , February 23, 2018 7:18 AM

Strelkov took Slavyansk on April 12 - that's not when he arrived. As for the ATO, yes, it was announced on April 7, after armed separatists stormed regional government buildings in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov, raised Russian flags, and said they would hold an independence referendum. What would Russia do if Karelia was taken over by pro-Finnish separatists? And keep in mind, when the ATO was announced, Turchynov promised amnesty for separatists who laid down arms.

No, the "people" of Donbass did not protest peacefully (Gubarev and others were not representative of the people of Donbass). Gubarev and others repeatedly tried to seize buildings and declare self-rule/independence. But polls during that time clearly showed that people did not want independence, even if they were unhappy about Yanukovych being ousted from the presidency. Public opinion did not really shift towards independence until after the fire of Odessa and Mariupol, when Donbass regions were under separatist control and influenced by Russian propaganda.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 2:46 PM

"Strelkov, referring to the war he helped start in Donbas: "In the beginning, nobody there wanted to fight.""

-The civil war was started when the unelected and unconstitutional coup government sent the army to kill the rebels in Donbass for just wanting their language rights protected.

"Pro-Russian agitators like Pavel Gubarev tried to illegally take over government buildings in E Ukraine,"

-Pavel is a Ukrainian, and it is pretty far fetched to call it illegal to resist to an illegal unconstitutional coup government.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 2:58 PM

I have not seen any proof that there was a coordinated coup to remove Yanukovych. On Feb 21st, Western powers got what they wanted when Yanukovych agreed to form a coalition government with Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, and Tyahnybok (OK, maybe Tyahnbok wasn't they're first choice) and have early elections. Yanukovych fled because the security forces abandoned him. They most likely abandoned him because the Feb 21st agreement called for investigation into violence on the Maidan, and they thought they would be blamed for everything.

I never said Gubarev wasn't Ukrainian. But he was clearly a pro-Russian agitator. And yes, his self-promotion as the "governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals.

brylcream Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 3:35 AM

Yanukovich was in Donetsk when they broke their constitution in the Rada, when they didn't have enough votes to impeach him.

"And yes, his self-promotion as the "governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals."

Really?
https://www.youtube.com/wat...

Alex Robeson brylcream , February 23, 2018 7:50 AM

He was in Kharkiv, but not on an official visit. He was fleeing. And sorry, but protests attended by a few thousand people do not mean that Gubarev had widespread support.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 3:14 PM

""governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals."

-It is worth to point out that there was no democratic support for the coup in Kiev however. Which I guess is why there was a coup in the first place.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 4:20 PM

You still haven't offered any proof for your claim of a coup in Kiev.

brylcream Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 3:37 AM

Check the Ukrainian constitution, Article 111. There is described how a president could be impeached.

Alex Robeson brylcream , February 23, 2018 7:33 AM

That's not a coup. It's an unconstitutional removal of a president who abandoned his post. What were they supposed to do - live with a power vacuum?

Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 3:09 PM

"And yes, his self-promotion as the "governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals."

-Hardly illegal, quite the opposite, more like it was a duty to resist an unconstitutional coup government. And while I have not found a opinion poll on rebel controlled areas, the closes I found suggest that the rebels has a very high support among the Donbass population.

"An opinion poll that was taken on the day of the referendum and the day before by a correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Washington Post, and five other media outlets found that of those people who intended to vote, 94.8% would vote for independence. The poll did not claim to have scientific precision, but was carried out to get a basis from which to judge the outcome of the referendum, given that independent observers were not present to monitor it. Even with those who said they would not vote counted in, a 65.6% majority supported separation from Ukraine"
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/...

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 5:52 PM

You should probably try reading the actual article, instead of quoting Wikipedia. The journalists polled 186 people, and of those 110 supported independence. That's a tiny and insignificant sample size. People voting for independence had been going through a war started by pro-Russian separatists, they were under the martial law of pro-Russian separatists, and their only news was Russian propaganda telling them that Kiev was all Nazis who wanted to exterminate Russia. Also, as you no doubt saw while reading Wikipedia, polls taken before Strelkov and the others started the war showed that the locals were not supportive of independence.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:22 AM

" them that Kiev was all Nazis who wanted to exterminate Russia"

-Pretty close to the truth actually, Kiev certainly did and are doing everything they can do exterminate the local civilians in Donbas, but stealing their pensions, cutting of social pay, hindering and stoping food, medicine and water.

Actually I mentioned that in my comment, there are no opinion polls but the closes we get is the opinion polls from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Washington Post, which shows a massive support for the rebels. Which is no surprise as we are talking about an illegal unconstitutional pro-nazi government seizing power.

"tthe locals were not supportive of independence.

-The support for rebels are as all sources show quite high, of course nobody wanted the war, but that was forced on them by the unelected coup government. If Ukraine had just language right of the Donbass people there would have been no war.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 23, 2018 8:14 AM

No, Kiev was not filled with Nazis. Russia engaged in fearmongering to get Crimeans to vote for independence. And what happened? The Ukrainian Army in Crimea resisted all provocations to start a war. Kiev thought that the international community would come to its aid. Remember the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2014? Svoboda and Right Sector barely had any public support at all. The lie that Kiev was filled with Nazis was just that - a lie.

Again, your Frankfurter Allgemeine poll was less than 200 people who happened to be willing to talk to Western journalists. Only 110 of them said they wanted independence, and this was after living under martial law and Russian propaganda for months. There were plenty of actual scientific polls conducted in April before the "referendum" which showed that there was no support for secession - at most, people wanted decentralisation.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 3:05 PM

Well, depends on what you mean with proof I suppose, is an American marxist oligarchs admitting they spent millions to training demonstrators to subvert Ukrainian democracy proof?
Is the fact that 100% of NATO controlled media support the Ukrainian opposition proof?
Is that fact that USA leaders went down to Ukraine and gave out cookies to the undemocratic opposition and held speeches encouraging them to overthrow their government proof?
Is leaked phone calls from USA telling Ukraine which leaders should be installed(which later were installed) proof?
Is Obama openly admitting they handled the "transition of power" in Ukraine proof?
Is the fact that the fascist and ultra-nationalist groups used used to overthrow the democratic government of Ukraine(OUN) known CIA assets proof? I mean, basically, it was the most blatant coup in world history. But if you literally want the USA government to totally in details describe and admit to every detail you will just have to wait a few years or decades until it is released in a FOI report like the fact that USA created ISIS.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 4:38 PM

- I'm assuming you mean the $5 billion the US invested over 20+ years? Russia invested $40 billion in the same time frame - 8x as much as the US (see Sergey Glazyev's March 24, 2014 interview with National Review). Financial investments in democratic institutions are not proof of a coup, but nice try.

- NATO controlled media? There's no such thing.

- Why is it such a big deal with Nuland giving out cookies?

- John McCain didn't encourage them to "overthrow their government". When did he say that? He said "We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe."

- Did you know that government officials from European countries and the EU also encouraged the protesters?

- Nuland and the US were clearly operating to keep the opposition united, and yes, they pushed their interests by encouraging Yatsenyuk to take the lead. But Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, and Tyahnybok were already established as opposition politicians in general, and had been accepted by the Maidan protesters before the US arrived on the scene. And besides, the Feb 21st agreement was what the US wanted - it would have placed those three figures in a coalition government with Yanukovych, followed by early elections. All of that considered, the fact that they emerged as leaders after Yanukovych left is really not surprising.

- Obama admitted what everyone knew - the US had entered into the crisis on the side of the EU to push Yanukovych to listen to the protesters. Russia, of course, was pushing Yanukovych to crack down. I remember when RT and Sputnik tried to twist it to mean Obama was claiming the US was behind a coup - it was the most blatant spin/propaganda I've ever seen. Go back and watch Obama's interview with Fareed Zakaria.

- You'll have to provide at least an ounce of proof that ultranationalist, far-right, or neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine are "CIA assets". Otherwise you're just another baseless conspiracy theorist.

- Yes, the US and USSR (Russia) have engaged in regime changes in the past. There's zero proof though, that there was a coup in Ukraine.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:27 AM

lol, yes, that is what is called a coup. Not only a coup but the most blatant coup in history I would say, I can only imagine if Russia funded trained and funded demonstrators Mexico, Russian leaders went to Mexico handing out cookies and giving support to the demonstrators, and ordering the opposition which leaders should be installed after the coup and so forth,and then afterwards openly admitting it did it.Hilarious. But I guess you are paid troll, and even when FYI releases information where USA planned the entire thing in detail, like it has with its creation of ISIS and al-qaeda you will deny it still.

Here is the head of Stratfor by the way, the "Shadow CIA" saying the exact same thing, xD

"Head of Stratfor, 'Private CIA,' Says Overthrow of Yanukovych Was 'The Most Blatant Coup in History'"
http://www.washingtonsblog....

Alex Robeson Vic , February 23, 2018 9:01 AM

Watch the video of Obama's interview ( https://www.youtube.com/wat... - he clearly states "Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine." In other words, he openly admits to helping form the February 21st "Agreement on settlement of political crisis in Ukraine". Obviously he's not talking about the Rada removing Yanukovych from office.

Nuland's conversation backs this up. It shows the Obama administration was helping Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, and Tyahnybok stay united. Yanukovych was individually offering them posts in his government. The US was pushing them to resist those offers. This culminated in the February 21st agreement, where the US and EU got additional concessions from Yanukovych - a coalition government with those three leaders, early elections, and investigations of the violence on Maidan.

As for the head of Stratfor, George Friedman went on to write an article in which he said that his quote was completely taken out of context ( http://www.businessinsider.... .

You think handing out cookies means people are funding coups. I'll have to remember that when giving cookies to my children.

Jorge Martinho Vic , February 22, 2018 2:34 PM

Civil wars dont involve foreign powers invading another country...

Duendao Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 7:21 PM

So what is doing the US in syria?

Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 2:43 PM

Indeed, that is why there is a civil war in Ukraine. "Red Cross officially declares Ukraine civil war" https://www.thelocal.ch/201...

Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 7:01 AM

Russia does not steal anything, the Crimean people voted to join Russia and that is their democratic right.

"With two studies out of the way, both Western-based, it seems without question that the vast majority of Crimeans do not feel they were duped into voting for annexation, and that life with Russia will be better for them and their families than life with Ukraine. A year ago this week, 83% of Crimeans went to the polling stations and almost 97% expressed support for reunification with their former Soviet parent."
https://www.forbes.com/site...

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 1:48 PM

Crimea was a coup, initiated on February 27, 2014 when armed/masked militants (Spetsnaz?) stormed the Crimean parliamentary building, raised the Russian flag over the building, and barricaded themselves inside. During this occupation, an emergency parliamentary session was called. It is unknown how many MPs participated - a number have said they were not there, even though they were claimed to have been there. But in that emergency session, the Crimean PM (Anatolii Mohyliov) was illegally removed and replaced with an unpopular pro-Russian MP (Sergey Aksyonov). Aksyonov immediately called for the independence referendum. Just to emphasize, all of this happened while the parliamentary building was under armed occupation from unknown pro-Russian forces (most likely Spetsnaz), and against the will of the current Crimean and Ukrainian governments. Interestingly, just the day before (February 26), the Crimean government had told pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters outside the building that there would be no effort to seek independence from Ukraine.

It was, without doubt, a coup.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:28 AM

Derp, there is quite literally a source right above you debunking your lies and linking to several USA and Germany opinion polls verifying that the result of the referendum was reflective of the democratic will of the Crimean people.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 23, 2018 9:03 AM

I didn't dispute the poll. What I said is that before the referendum Russia instigated a coup, suppressed protests, and created a sense of fear in Crimea that drove people to think Kiev was filled with Nazis. Of course they voted to join Russia after that.

BlackRoseML Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 1:27 PM

Isn't that what happened throughout Ukraine when "protestors" (more accurately thugs) took over the Regional Administration buildings and occupied them? Well, before the coup in Kiev, numerous government buildings in other regions were occupied.

You said that it was a big propaganda exercise to portray being pro-Ukraine as being pro-Nazi. Then why was the Euromaidan far right? Why were the most prominent activists and leaders of the "revolution" associated with Svodoba and Right Sector? Why were there thugs destroying monuments to Lenin? Why were many activists extolling Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych?

The people on the Maidan behaved like far-right lunatics and brigands. No wonder why there it isn't difficult to conceive of them as Nazis.

If I were a woman in Crimea, I would be grateful that I am not living under the jackboot of the Maidan thugs.

[Feb 24, 2018] As Washington's efforts to recapture and return Russia to vassalage have failed it has resorted to a growing series of provocations and conflicts

Notable quotes:
"... Nevertheless, the US retains its political clients in the Baltic , the Balkans and Eastern and Central European regimes. However, these clients are unruly and often eager to confront a nuclear-armed Russia, confident that the US-NATO will intervene, in spite of the probability of being vaporized in a nuclear Armageddon. ..."
"... Despite President Trump's campaign promises to 'pull-back', the US has re-entered Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in a big way. The Trump shift from global containment and realism to 'rollback and aggression' against Russia and China has failed to secure a positive response from past and present allies. ..."
"... China has increased economic ties with the EU. Russia and the EU share strategic gas and oil trade ties. Domestically, the US military budget deepens the fiscal deficit and drastically threatens social spending. This creates a scenario of increasing US isolation with its futile aggression against a dynamic and changing world. ..."
Feb 24, 2018 | www.unz.com

Russia has reduced and challenged the US pursuit of a uni-polar global empire following the recovery of its sovereignty and economic growth after the disaster of the 1990's. With the ascent of President Putin, the US-EU empire lost their biggest and most lucrative client and source of naked pillage.

Nevertheless, the US retains its political clients in the Baltic , the Balkans and Eastern and Central European regimes. However, these clients are unruly and often eager to confront a nuclear-armed Russia, confident that the US-NATO will intervene, in spite of the probability of being vaporized in a nuclear Armageddon.

Washington's efforts to recapture and return Russia to vassalage have failed. Out of frustration Washington has resorted to a growing series of failed provocations and conflicts between the US and the EU, within the US between Trump and the Democrats; and among the warlords controlling the Trump cabinet.

Germany has continued lucrative trade ties with Russia, despite US sanctions, underscoring the decline of US power to dictate policy to the European Union. The Democratic Party and the ultra-militaristic Clinton faction remains pathologically nostalgic for a return to the 1990's Golden Age of Pillage (before Putin). Clinton's faction is fixated on the politics of revanchism . As a result, they vigorously fought against candidate Donald Trump's campaign promises to pursue a new realistic understanding with Russia. The Russia-Gate Investigation is not merely a domestic electoral squabble led by hysterical 'liberals.' What is a stake is nothing less than a profound conflict over the remaking of the US global map. Trump recognized and accepted the re-emergence of Russia as a global power to be 'contained', while the Democrats campaigned to roll-back reality, overthrow Putin and return to the robber baron orgies of the Clinton years. As a result of this ongoing strategic conflict, Washington is unable to develop a coherent global strategy, which in turn has further weakened US influence in the EU in Europe and elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the intense Democratic onslaught against Trump's initial foreign policy pronouncements regarding Russia succeeded in destroying his 'pivot to realism' and facilitated the rise of a fanatical militaristic faction within his cabinet, which have intensified the anti-Russia policies of the Clintonite Democrats. In less than a year, all of Trump's realist advisers and cabinet members have been purged and replaced by militarists. Their hard core confrontational anti-Russia policy has become the platform for launching a global military strategy based on vast increases in military spending, demands that the EU nations increase their military budgets, and open opposition to an EU-centered military alliance, such as the one recently proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Despite President Trump's campaign promises to 'pull-back', the US has re-entered Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in a big way. The Trump shift from global containment and realism to 'rollback and aggression' against Russia and China has failed to secure a positive response from past and present allies.

China has increased economic ties with the EU. Russia and the EU share strategic gas and oil trade ties. Domestically, the US military budget deepens the fiscal deficit and drastically threatens social spending. This creates a scenario of increasing US isolation with its futile aggression against a dynamic and changing world.

[Feb 23, 2018] Russia loses the E. Ukraine as a buffer.

Feb 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Les | Dec 31, 2016 12:09:53 PM | 4

Kissinger reportedly working on a deal with Russia: Crimea for East Ukraine.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/henry-kissinger-russia-trump-crimea-advises-latest-ukraine-a7497646.html

[Feb 23, 2018] American Meddling in the Ukraine by Publius Tacitus

Ukraine is now now a pawn in a big geopolitical games. With USA EU (Germany) and Russia pulling the country in different directions. But the victory of Ukrainian nationalists is not surprising and is not solely based on the US interferences (althouth the USA did lot in this direction) pursuit its geopolitical game against Russia. It repeats the story of Baltic Republics, albeit with a significant time delay. There should be some social group that secure independence of the country and Ukrainian nationalists happen to be such a group. That's why Yanukovich supported them and Svoboda party (with predictable results).
Notable quotes:
"... The ideological fissures that are growing in the United States are beginning to resemble the warring camps that characterize the Ukrainian political world. The divide in Ukraine pits groups who are described as "right wing" and many are ideological descendants of real Nazis and Nazi sympathizers against groups with a strong affinity to Russia. This kind of gap cannot be bridged through conventional negotiations. ..."
"... The US support, both overt and covert, for Ukrainian politicians is grounded in an anti-Soviet (now anti-Russian) ideology. We have convinced ourselves that Russia is hell bent on world domination. Therefore we must do whatever is necessary to stop Russia, which includes uncritical, blind support for elements in Ukraine that also detest the Russians. But in doing so we have closed our eyes to the filthy underbelly of the virulent anti-Semitism that lurks in western Ukraine. ..."
"... US meddling in the Ukraine is astonishing in its breadth. It ranges from the fact that the wife of former President Viktor Yuschenko was an American citizen and former senior official in the US State Department. Do you think there would be no complaints if Melania Trump was born in Russia and had served in the Russian Foreign Ministry? Yet, most Americans are happily ignorant of such facts. ..."
"... I wouldn´t put to much stress on Bandera having been a bad guy. His enemies were no better. They just won the war and the victors write history. ..."
Feb 23, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

The ideological fissures that are growing in the United States are beginning to resemble the warring camps that characterize the Ukrainian political world. The divide in Ukraine pits groups who are described as "right wing" and many are ideological descendants of real Nazis and Nazi sympathizers against groups with a strong affinity to Russia. This kind of gap cannot be bridged through conventional negotiations.

Who is the United States government and media supporting? The Nazis . You think I'm joking. Here are the facts, but we must go back to World War II :

When World War II began a large part of western Ukraine welcomed the German soldiers as liberators from the recently enforced Soviet rule and openly collaborated with the Germans. IThe Soviet leader, Stalin, imposed policies that caused the deaths of almost 7 million Ukrainians in the 1930s--an era known as the Holomodor).

Ukrainian divisions, regiments and battalions were formed, such as SS Galizien, Nachtigal and Roland, and served under German leadership. In the first few weeks of the war, more than 80 thousand people from the Galizien region volunteered for the SS Galizien, which later known for its extreme cruelty towards Polish, Jewish and Russian people on the territory of Ukraine.

Members of these military groups came mostly from the organization of Ukrainian nationalists ka the OUN, which was founded in 1929. It's leader was Stepan Bandera, known then and today for his extreme anti-semitic and anti-communist views.

CIA documents just recently declassified show strong ties between US intelligence and Ukrainian nationalists since 1946.

Jump ahead now to the April 2014 "uprising" of anti-Russian forces in the Ukraine (Maidan 2). The US was firmly on the side of the protesters, who ultimately succeeded in ousting the elected President. And who were helping lead this effort?

Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council is Andriy Parubiy. Parubiy was the founder of the Social National Party of Ukraine, a fascist party styled on Hitler's Nazis, with membership restricted to ethnic Ukrainians.

The Social National Party would go on to become Svoboda, the far-right nationalist party whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok was one of the three most high profile leaders of the Euromaidan protests. . . .

Overseeing the armed forces alongside Parubiy as the Deputy Secretary of National Security is Dmytro Yarosh , the leader of the Right Sector – a group of hardline nationalist streetfighters, who previously boasted they were ready for armed struggle to free Ukraine.

The US support, both overt and covert, for Ukrainian politicians is grounded in an anti-Soviet (now anti-Russian) ideology. We have convinced ourselves that Russia is hell bent on world domination. Therefore we must do whatever is necessary to stop Russia, which includes uncritical, blind support for elements in Ukraine that also detest the Russians. But in doing so we have closed our eyes to the filthy underbelly of the virulent anti-Semitism that lurks in western Ukraine.

US meddling in the Ukraine is astonishing in its breadth. It ranges from the fact that the wife of former President Viktor Yuschenko was an American citizen and former senior official in the US State Department. Do you think there would be no complaints if Melania Trump was born in Russia and had served in the Russian Foreign Ministry? Yet, most Americans are happily ignorant of such facts.

But Viktor Yuschenko is not an American who speaks a foreign language. He is very much a Ukrainian nationalist and steeped in the anti-Semitism that dominates the ideology of western Ukraine. During the final months of his Presidency, Yuschenko made the following declaration:

In conclusion I would like to say something that is long awaited by the Ukrainian patriots for many years I have signed a decree for the unbroken spirit and standing for the idea of fighting for independent Ukraine. I declare Stepan Bandera a national hero of Ukraine.

Without hesitation or shame, Yuschenko endorsed the legacy of Bandera, who had happily aligned with the Nazis in pursuit of his own nationalist goals. Those goals, however, did not include Jews. And here is the ultimate irony--Bandera was born in Austria, not the Ukraine. So much for ideological consistency.

US interference was not confined to serendipitous relationships, such as the Yuschenko marriage. It also included the open and active funding of certain political groups and media outlets. The US State Department sent money through a variety of outlets. One of these was the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening aka CEPPS. This is :

a USAID program with other National Endowment for Democracy-affiliated groups: the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. In 2010, the reported disbursement for CEPPS in Ukraine was nearly $5 million.

The program's efforts are described on the USAID website as providing "training for political party activists and locally elected officials to improve communication with civic groups and citizens, and the development of NGO-led advocacy campaigns on electoral and political process issues."

Anyone prepared to argue that it would be okay for Russia, through its Foreign Ministry, to contribute several million dollars for training party activists in the United States?

What we do not know is how much money was being spent on covert activities directed and managed by the CIA. During the political upheaval in April 2014 (Maidan 2), there was this news item:

Over the weekend, CIA director John Brennan travelled to Kiev, nobody knows exactly why, but some speculate that he intends to open US intelligence resources to Ukrainian leaders about real-time Russian military maneuvers. The US has, thus far, refrained from sharing such knowledge because Moscow is believed to have penetrated much of Ukraine's communications systems – and Washington isn't about to hand over its surveillance secrets to the Russians.

Do you think Americans would be outraged if the head of Russia's version of the CIA, the SVR or FSB, traveled quietly to the United States to meet with Donald Trump prior to his election? I think that would qualify as meddling.

Count me as one of the people who is outraged by the hypocrisy and stupidity now on display in the United States. I am not talking about Trump. I am referring to the Republicans and Democrats and pundits and media mouthpieces who are fuming about Russian citizens writing on Facebook as one of the worst catastrophies since Pearl Harbor or 9-11.

There clearly is meddling going on in America's political landscape. But it ain't the Russian Government. No. There are foreign and domestic forces aligned who are keen on portraying Russia as a threat to world order that must be opposed by more defense spending and tougher sanctions. That is the propaganda that dominates the media in the United States these days. And that is truly dangerous to our nation's safety and freedom.

Posted at 01:24 PM in Publius Tacitus , Russiagate | Permalink


james , 23 February 2018 at 02:11 PM

good post pt.. thanks... i never knew ''the wife of former President Viktor Yuschenko was an American citizen and former senior official in the US State Department.'' that is informative.. i recall following this closely back in 2014.. the hypocrisy on display in the usa at present is truly amazing and frightening at the same time.. it appears that the public can be cowed very easily..
Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , 23 February 2018 at 02:29 PM
good points well made.

On the twitters, you would be accused of "whatabouttism" - which is the crime of excusing Putin's diabolism by pointing out American interference with the internal politics an elections of other nations. A CIA guy recently said the US only interferes to 'promote democracy' - tell that to Australia, Vietnam, Mexico, Chile, Congo, Russia, Ukraine...it's a long long list.

An independent Ukraine was also a project of German foreign policy after the Brest-Litowsk Treaty (the equivalent of the Versailles Treaty, only aimed at Russia) SO I have o wonder how much of the enthusiasm for Vicky Nuland's Israel friendly Nazi state-let (oh what irony!) is a product of Germany wanting to reassert itself in the east, using NATO solidarity as a fig leaf. Maybe they will make Ukraine import a lot o Africans "refugees" so that Soros' project of creating a brown Europe will be advanced in the Slavic sphere as well as the west.

Adrestia , 23 February 2018 at 02:39 PM
It's not only the US. The EU borg are also meddling. In my country we had a referendum about Ukraine. The population voted "Against" on the question: "Are you for or against the Approval Act of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine?"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Ukraine%E2%80%93European_Union_Association_Agreement_referendum,_2016

This was the only referendum that was done since it was implemented in 2015. A second one is being organized on the Intelligence and Security Services which has controversial parts with regard to access to internet traffic.

This referendum will take place on March 21, 2018 and will probably be voted against because of the controversial elements (in part because there is still living memory of our Eastern neighbors in the second world war)

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_op_de_inlichtingen-_en_veiligheidsdiensten_2017

These 2 will probably be the last. Our house of representatives have voted yesterday to end the referendum law (with a majority vote of 76 out of 150 representatives!)

So much for democracy. The reason stated that the referendum was controversial (probably because they voted against the EU borg). Interesting is that the proposal was done by the party that wanted the referendum as a principal point. This will almost certainly ensure that the little respect left for traditional parties is gone and they will not be able to get a majority next elections.

The liberal party - who provides the prime-minister - EU leader Hans van Baalen and Belgian ex-prime minister Guy Verhostad held a controversial speech on the Maidan square in support of the protesters that the EU will support them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIL1FWCIlu8

Tom , 23 February 2018 at 03:22 PM
I wouldn´t put to much stress on Bandera having been a bad guy. His enemies were no better. They just won the war and the victors write history. The deeper problem of Ukraine is the fact that in the East of the country (and maybe even the majority of the country) Bandera is indeed regarded as a villain. But in the West he is a hero to this day. Even in Soviet times people from Western Ukraine were regarded as "fascists" by much of the rest of the country. No wonder as there were anti soviet partisans until late in the fifties.

Even in the nineties anybody who travelled in Ukraine could feel the tension between East and West. The Russians were certainly aware of it and mindful not to rip the country apart they cut the Ukrainians an enormous amount of slack. Of course they supported "their" candidates and shoveled money into their insatiable throats. Only to be disappointed time and again. "Prorussian" Kutshma turned into a Ukrainian "patriot" (such is the logic of statehood) and the same thing happened with Yanukovich. People forget that he would have signed an association agreement with Europe had Europe not refused because he was insufficiently "democratic". Really the West should have been content with things as they were. But the West wanted it all. They wanted Ukraine firmly in the "Western" camp. Thereby they ripped the country apart. As a good friend of mine who has studied in Kiev in Soviet times remarked: to ask Ukraine to choose between East and West is like asking a child in divorce proceedings who it liked more: daddy or mummy?
Really the West (not only the US -the Eu is also guilty) is to blame. It is long past time to get down from the high horse and stop spreading chaos and mayhem in the name of democracy,

Jony Kanuck , 23 February 2018 at 03:27 PM
Publius,
An informative column.
The coup & later developments soured me on the MSMedia. I'm an initiate into modern Russian history: NATO in the Ukraine = WW3!

Some additional history:
A Ukrainian nation did not exist until after WW1; one piece was Russian, another Polish and another Austrian. The Holodomor is exaggerated for political purposes; the actual number dead from famine appears to be 'only' 2M. It wasn't Soviet bloody mindedness, it was Soviet agricultural mismanagement; collectivizing agriculture drops production. They did this right before the great drought of the 1930s - remember the dustbowl. There was a famine in Kazakestan at the same time; 1.5M died. The Nazis raised 5 SS divisions out of the Ukraine. As the Germans were pushed back they ran night drops of ordnance into the Ukraine as long as they could. The Soviets had to carry on divisional level counter insurgency until 1956. After the war, Gehlen, Nazi intelligence czar, kept himself out of jail by turning over his files, routes & agents to the US. He also stoked anti Soviet paranoia. The Brits ended up with a whole Ukr SS division that they didn't want, so they gave it to Canada. Which is why Canada has such cranky policy around the Ukraine!

bluetonga , 23 February 2018 at 03:28 PM
A very interesting conversation between Victoria Nulland and ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, caught at picking the future rulers of liberated Ukraine :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QxZ8t3V_bk

This is not meddling. This is a defensive (preemptive?) action against Russian agression.

Publius Tacitus -> Tom... , 23 February 2018 at 03:31 PM
Tom,
I'm sure you'd like us to ignore Bandera. I bet he liked children and dogs. Just like Hitler. Bandera was a genuine bad guy. There is no rehabilitating that scourge on society. Nice try though.
Publius Tacitus -> bluetonga... , 23 February 2018 at 03:36 PM
I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that your final comment is sarcasm. When you have two senior US Government officials who will and will not constitute a foreign government, you have gone beyond meddling. It is worse.
VietnamVet , 23 February 2018 at 03:57 PM
PT

The media is hysterical. Today, Putin's Facebook Bot Collaborator contacted the Kremlin before his mercenaries attacked Americans in Syria. I've never seen such an intense barrage of propaganda before in my life. America is fracturing apart like Ukraine. This is no coincidence. In both countries, oligarchs have seized power, the rule of law abandoned and there is a rush of corruption. A World War is near. The realists are gone. The Moguls are pushing Donald Trump pull the trigger. Either in Syria with an assault to destroy Hezbollah (Iran) for good or American trainers going over the top of trenches in Donbass in a centennial attack of the dead.

The Twisted Genius , 23 February 2018 at 03:59 PM
Publius Tacitus,

Hallelujah and jubilation! We're in full agreement on this subject. What we did to Ukraine is shameful in every way. A remember a video of a pallet of money being unloaded from a USG place at Kiev during Maidan 2. That's in addition to Nuland's bag of cookies. I always thought that one of the objectives of our meddling in Ukraine was to make Sevastopol into a NATO naval base. I would definitely want to see a full account of what support we provided to the nazi thugs of Svoboda and Pravy Sektor. We have a long history of meddling, at least twice as long as the Soviet Union/Russia. But that does not mean we should stop investigating the Russian interference in our 2016 election. Just stop hyperventilating over it. It no more deserves risking a war than our continuing mutual espionage.

TimmyB , 23 February 2018 at 04:08 PM
Our leaders are the biggest hypocrites on the planet. The Ukraine was almost evenly divided between pro-Western and pro-Russian sides. Our government, rather than waiting for an election, assisted an armed rebellion against the elected pro-Russian government. Among the groups our government allied with in this endeavor were out and out Nazis.

As a result of this rebellion, the Russian majority in Crimea overwhelming voted to leave the Ukraine and rejoin Russia, which they had been part of for over 150-years. While our government continues to provide military aid to Israel, which used force of arms take over the West Bank, it imposed sanctions against Russia when the people of Crimea voted to join their former countrymen. Mind boggling.

[Feb 20, 2018] Russia's Election Meddling Worse Than a Crime; a Blunder by Robert W. Merry

Feb 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Ukraine is crucial in this Russian sense of territorial imperative. It's a tragically split country, with part tilting toward the West and part facing eastward toward Russia. That makes for a delicate political and geopolitical situation, but for centuries that delicate political and geopolitical situation has been overseen by Russia. Now the West wants to end that. Upending a duly elected (though corrupt) Ukrainian president was part of the plan. Getting Ukraine into NATO is the endgame.

Note that the Ukrainian revolution occurred in 2014, which just happened to be the year, according to the U.S. indictments, that Russia initiated its grand program to influence America's 2016 elections. Kennan was right: Russia inevitably would react badly to the NATO encirclement policy, and then America's anti-Russian cadres would cite that as evidence that the encirclement was necessary all along. That's precisely what's happening now.

Which brings us to the fifth and final fundamental reality surrounding the revelation of Russia's grand effort to influence the U.S. election. It was an incredible blunder. Given all that's happened in U.S.-Russian relations this century, there probably wasn't much prospect that those relations could ever be normalized, much less made cordial. But that is now utterly impossible.

Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of seeking better relations with Russia. After getting elected he repeatedly asserted in his first news conference that it would be "positive," "good," or "great" if "we could get along with Russia." Unlike most of America's elites, he vowed to seek Moscow's cooperation on global issues, accepted some U.S. share of blame for the two countries' sour relations, and acknowledged "the right of all nations to put their interests first."

This suggested a possible dramatic turn in U.S.-Russian relations -- an end to the encirclement push, curtailment of the hostile rhetoric, a pullback on economic sanctions, and serious efforts to work with Russia on such nettlesome matters as Syria and Ukraine. That was largely put on hold with the narrative of Russian meddling in the U.S. election and vague allegations of campaign "collusion" with Russia on behalf of Trump's presidential ambitions.

It doesn't appear likely that investigators will turn up any evidence of collusion that rises to any kind of criminality. But it doesn't matter now, in terms of U.S.-Russian relations, because these indictments will cement the anti-Russian sentiment of Americans for the foreseeable future. No overtures of the kind envisioned by Trump will be possible for any president for a long time. It won't matter that every nation does it or that America in particular has done it or that the West's aggressive encirclement contributed to the Russian actions. The U.S.-Russian hostility is set. Where it leads is impossible to predict, but it won't be good. It could be tragic.

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington, D.C., journalist and publishing executive, is editor of The American Conservative . His latest book, President McKinley: Architect of the American Century , was released in September.

[Feb 20, 2018] Russophobia is a futile bid to conceal US, European demise by Finian Cunningham

Highly recommended!
This is an old method to unite the nation against external enemy. Carnage (with so much oil and gas) needs to be destroyed. And it's working only partially with the major divisions between Trump and Hillary supporters remaining open and unaffected by Russiagate witch hunt.
Notable quotes:
"... It is an age-old statecraft technique to seek unity within a state by depicting an external enemy or threat. Russia is the bête noire again, as it was during the Cold War years as part of the Soviet Union. ..."
"... Russophobia -- "blame it all on Russia" -- is a short-term, futile ploy to stave off the day of reckoning when furious and informed Western citizens will demand democratic restitution for their legitimate grievances. ..."
"... The dominant "official" narrative, from the US to Europe, is that "malicious" Russia is "sowing division;""eroding democratic institutions;" and "undermining public trust" in systems of governance, credibility of established political parties, and the news media. ..."
"... A particularly instructive presentation of this trope was given in a recent commentary by Texan Republican Representative Will Hurd. In his piece headlined, "Russia is our adversary" , he claims: "Russia is eroding our democracy by exploiting the nation's divisions. To save it, Americans need to begin working together." ..."
"... He contends: "When the public loses trust in the media, the Russians are winning. When the press is hyper-critical of Congress the Russians are winning. When Congress and the general public disagree the Russians are winning. When there is friction between Congress and the executive branch [the president] resulting in further erosion of trust in our democratic institutions, the Russians are winning." ..."
"... The endless, criminal wars that the US and its European NATO allies have been waging across the planet over the past two decades is one cogent reason why the public has lost faith in grandiose official claims about respecting democracy and international law. ..."
"... The US and European media have shown reprehensible dereliction of duty to inform the public accurately about their governments' warmongering intrigues. Take the example of Syria. When does the average Western citizen ever read in the corporate Western media about how the US and its NATO allies have covertly ransacked that country through weaponizing terrorist proxies? ..."
"... The destabilizing impact on societies from oppressive economic conditions is a far more plausible cause for grievance than outlandish claims made by the political class about alleged "Russian interference". ..."
"... Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV. ..."
Feb 20, 2018 | www.rt.com

Russophobia - "blame it all on Russia" - is a short-term, futile ploy to stave off the day of reckoning when furious and informed Western citizens will demand democratic restitution for their legitimate grievances

It is an age-old statecraft technique to seek unity within a state by depicting an external enemy or threat. Russia is the bête noire again, as it was during the Cold War years as part of the Soviet Union.

But the truth is Western states are challenged by internal problems. Ironically, by denying their own internal democratic challenges, Western authorities are only hastening their institutional demise.

Russophobia -- "blame it all on Russia" -- is a short-term, futile ploy to stave off the day of reckoning when furious and informed Western citizens will demand democratic restitution for their legitimate grievances.

The dominant "official" narrative, from the US to Europe, is that "malicious" Russia is "sowing division;""eroding democratic institutions;" and "undermining public trust" in systems of governance, credibility of established political parties, and the news media.

This narrative has shifted up a gear since the election of Donald Trump to the White House in 2016, with accusations that the Kremlin somehow ran "influence operations" to help get him into office. This outlandish yarn defies common sense. It is also running out of thread to keep spinning.

Paradoxically, even though President Trump has rightly rebuffed such dubious claims of "Russiagate" interference as "fake news", he has at other times undermined himself by subscribing to the notion that Moscow is projecting a campaign of "subversion against the US and its European allies." See for example the National Security Strategy he signed off in December.

Pathetically, it's become indoctrinated belief among the Western political class that "devious Russians" are out to "collapse" Western democracies by "weaponizing disinformation" and spreading "fake news" through Russia-based news outlets like RT and Sputnik.

Totalitarian-like, there seems no room for intelligent dissent among political or media figures.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has chimed in to accuse Moscow of "sowing division;" Dutch state intelligence claim Russia destabilized the US presidential election; the European Union commissioner for security, Sir Julian King, casually lampoons Russian news media as "Kremlin-orchestrated disinformation" to destabilize the 28-nation bloc; CIA chief Mike Pompeo recently warned that Russia is stepping up its efforts to tarnish the Congressional mid-term elections later this year.

On and on goes the narrative that Western states are essentially victims of a nefarious Russian assault to bring about collapse.

A particularly instructive presentation of this trope was given in a recent commentary by Texan Republican Representative Will Hurd. In his piece headlined, "Russia is our adversary" , he claims: "Russia is eroding our democracy by exploiting the nation's divisions. To save it, Americans need to begin working together."

Congressman Hurd asserts: "Russia has one simple goal: to erode trust in our democratic institutions It has weaponized disinformation to achieve this goal for decades in Eastern and Central Europe; in 2016, Western Europe and America were aggressively targeted as well."

Lamentably, all these claims above are made with scant, or no, verifiable evidence. It is simply a Big Lie technique of relentless repetition transforming itself into "fact" .

It's instructive to follow Congressman Hurd's thought-process a bit further.

He contends: "When the public loses trust in the media, the Russians are winning. When the press is hyper-critical of Congress the Russians are winning. When Congress and the general public disagree the Russians are winning. When there is friction between Congress and the executive branch [the president] resulting in further erosion of trust in our democratic institutions, the Russians are winning."

As a putative solution, Representative Hurd calls for "a national counter-disinformation strategy" against Russian "influence operations" , adding, "Americans must stop contributing to a corrosive political environment".

The latter is a chilling advocacy of uniformity tantamount to a police state whereby any dissent or criticism is a "thought-crime."

It is, however, such anti-democratic and paranoid thinking by Western politicians -- aided and abetted by dutiful media -- that is killing democracy from within, not some supposed foreign enemy.

There is evidently a foreboding sense of demise in authority and legitimacy among Western states, even if the real cause for the demise is ignored or denied. Systems of governance, politicians of all stripes, and institutions like the established media and intelligence services are increasingly held in contempt and distrust by the public.

Whose fault is that loss of political and moral authority? Western governments and institutions need to take a look in the mirror.

The endless, criminal wars that the US and its European NATO allies have been waging across the planet over the past two decades is one cogent reason why the public has lost faith in grandiose official claims about respecting democracy and international law.

The US and European media have shown reprehensible dereliction of duty to inform the public accurately about their governments' warmongering intrigues. Take the example of Syria. When does the average Western citizen ever read in the corporate Western media about how the US and its NATO allies have covertly ransacked that country through weaponizing terrorist proxies?

How then can properly informed citizens be expected to have respect for such criminal government policies and the complicit news media covering up for their crimes?

Western public disaffection with governments, politicians and media surely stems also from the grotesque gulf in social inequality and poverty among citizens from slavish adherence to economic policies that enrich the wealthy while consigning the vast majority to unrelenting austerity.

The destabilizing impact on societies from oppressive economic conditions is a far more plausible cause for grievance than outlandish claims made by the political class about alleged "Russian interference".

Yet the Western media indulge this fantastical "Russiagate" escapism instead of campaigning on real social problems facing ordinary citizens. No wonder such media are then viewed with disdain and distrust. Adding insult to injury, these media want the public to believe Russia is the enemy?

Instead of acknowledging and addressing real threats to citizens: economic insecurity, eroding education and health services, lost career opportunities for future generations, the looming dangers of ecological adversity, wars prompted by Western governments trashing international and diplomacy, and so on -- the Western public is insultingly plied with corny tales of Russia's "malign influence" and "assault on democracy."

Just think of the disproportionate amount of media attention and public resources wasted on the Russiagate scandal over the past year. And now gradually emerging is the real scandal that the American FBI probably colluded with the Obama administration to corrupt the democratic process against Trump.

Again, is there any wonder the public has sheer contempt and distrust for "authorities" that have been lying through their teeth and playing them for fools?

The collapsing state of Western democracies has got nothing to do with Russia. The Russophobia of blaming Russia for the demise of Western institutions is an attempt at scapegoating for the very real problems facing governments and institutions like the news media. Those problems are inherent and wholly owned by these governments owing to chronic anti-democratic functioning, as well as systematic violation of international law in their pursuit of criminal wars and other subterfuges for regime-change objectives.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

[Feb 17, 2018] Imperialism with a human face International Socialist Review

Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The 700 Club ..."
"... Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean ..."
"... The Bottom Billion ..."
"... The Shock Doctrine ..."
"... Huffington Post, ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... New York Daily News ..."
"... International Socialist Review (ISR) ..."
"... Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politicsw of Containment ..."
"... The Forging of the American Empire ..."
"... The Uses of Haiti ..."
"... Haiti in the New World Order ..."
"... The Prophet and the Power ..."
"... Socialist Worker ..."
"... Haiti in the New World Order ..."
"... The Rainy Season ..."
"... Haiti's Predatory Republic ..."
"... Damming the Flood ..."
"... Dollars and Sense ..."
"... Damming the Flood ..."
"... Socialist Worker ..."
"... Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean ..."
"... Haiti Analysis ..."
"... Socialist Worker ..."
"... The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It ..."
"... Huffington Post ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... Democracy Now! ..."
"... Socialist Worker ..."
"... Socialist Worker, ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... Los Angeles Times ..."
"... Washington Times ..."
"... Washington Examiner ..."
"... Washington Times ..."
"... To See the Dawn ..."
Feb 17, 2018 | isreview.org

Haiti after the quake

By Ashley Smith Issue #70 : Features

THE EARTHQUAKE that shook Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince on January 12 is one of the worst disasters in human history. The quake flattened houses, hotels, and government buildings, including the National Palace and UN headquarters. By some estimates, 60 percent of Port-au-Prince's buildings collapsed. Even more damage struck some of the smaller towns near the capital like Leogane and Jacmel. At least 230,000 people were left dead, 300,000 in need of medical attention, 1.5 million homeless, and over 2 million bereft of food and water.

The Obama administration reacted immediately. "I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives," Obama told the nation in a speech he delivered the day after the quake. "The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble, and to deliver the humanitarian relief -- the food, water, and medicine -- that Haitians will need in the coming days. In that effort, our government, especially USAID and the Departments of State and Defense are working closely together and with our partners in Haiti, the region, and around the world." 1

This seemed a far cry from the reaction of the Bush administration to Hurricane Katrina, where tens of thousands of the city's poor, mostly Black, residents were left stranded and without help as Bush sent troops and Blackwater paramilitaries to police the city. The lack of a prompt humanitarian response prompted rap artist Kanye West to famously state, "George Bush doesn't care about Black people."

Yet while Obama said all the right things, the gap between his words and deeds has been immense. When all is said and done, the Haitian relief effort looks eerily like a replay of Katrina, only on a larger scale. A month into the disaster, the U.S. and UN were managing to feed only 1 million people, leaving more than a million people without relief aid. 2 Instead of mobilizing to provide water, food, and housing for the victims, the U.S. focused on occupying the country with 20,000 U.S. troops and surrounding it with a flotilla of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships.

This military effort actually impeded the delivery of urgent aid. In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Haiti: Obama's Katrina," three doctors who volunteered to provide emergency services wrote, "Four years ago the initial medical response to Hurricane Katrina was ill equipped, understaffed, poorly coordinated and delayed. Criticism of the paltry federal efforts was immediate and fierce. Unfortunately, the response to the latest international disaster in Haiti has been no better, compounding the catastrophe." After they describe the horrific conditions in Haiti's hospitals, the doctors continue, "The U.S. response to the earthquake should be considered an embarrassment. Our operation received virtually no support from any branch of the U.S. government, including the State Department . Later, as we were leaving Haiti, we were appalled to see warehouse-size quantities of unused medicines, food and other supplies at the airport, surrounded by hundreds of U.S. and international soldiers standing around aimlessly." 3

The U.S. government and media have covered up these realities with puff pieces about the supposed success of U.S. relief efforts. They have also wrongly portrayed this catastrophe as simply a natural disaster, ignoring the historical and social causes of Haiti's poverty -- principally the imperialist stranglehold over the nation -- that exacerbated the impact of the earthquake.

If the military flotilla is not there to deliver aid, why is it there? The Obama administration has used the cover of humanitarian aid to occupy the country in pursuit of several goals. First and foremost, after disastrous wars that have discredited U.S. interventionism, Obama hopes through the operation in Haiti to win back domestic support for military intervention. What better means to do that than to present a military invasion and occupation as a humanitarian relief effort?

With a flotilla of ships surrounding the country, the U.S. also aims to repatriate desperate Haitians and prevent a wave of refugees reaching Florida. Through this assertion of power, the U.S. aims also to reassert its dominance in the Caribbean and Latin America over regional rivals like Venezuela and international ones like China. Finally, the U.S. intends to impose a traditional neoliberal economic program on Haiti itself in the interest of U.S. multinational corporations and the Haitian ruling class.

Not just a natural disaster
Most of the media reported the earthquake as a natural disaster. While this is no doubt true, that is only part of the story. Certainly, there was talk of Haiti being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with over 80 percent of its population making about $2 a day. Media acknowledged that the Haitian state was completely unprepared and unable to respond to the crisis not only in Port-au-Prince, but throughout the country. However, the reason for these conditions -- the historical context -- is left out. The story of Haiti's poverty is merely an excuse to further justify why Haiti needs help from the United States, even though the "help" Haiti has received from the U.S. and other world powers is precisely the reason for Haiti's extreme poverty.

Some conservative commentators blamed Haitians for their situation. Pat Robertson on The 700 Club claimed that the disaster was the result of a pact that Haitians made with the devil during their revolution from 1791 to 1804. The devil was merely taking his revenge on Haitians more than 200 years later. 4 In a more polite, but no less racist manner, David Brooks argued that the root cause of the social problems in Haiti was their "progress-resistant" culture. He claimed,

There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10. We're all supposed to politely respect each other's cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them. 5

These are extreme versions of a dominant media story that essentially blames the victims of the earthquake. None of this answers the real questions. Why are the majority of Haitians so poor? Why according to the mayor of Port-au-Prince, were 60 percent of the buildings unsafe in normal conditions? Why is there no building regulation in a city that sits on a fault line? Why was the Haitian state so weak and disorganized before and after the earthquake? To answer these questions, we must delve into Haiti's history.

European slavery, revolution, and U.S. domination
The answer lies in Haiti's history of European conquest, slavery, resistance, and U.S. imperial domination. At every step, instead of aiding the Haitian majority, the U.S. has manipulated the country's politics and exploited its poverty in pursuit of profit, and used it as a pawn in its competition with regional and international rivals. In doing so the U.S. has reduced Haiti to abject poverty and incapacitated its government to manage the society and the current crisis. This history, a second and unnatural fault line, interacted with the natural one to make the earthquake so devastating.

Columbus set off the first tremors when he landed on the island he called Hispaniola in 1492. He proceeded to enslave the Taino natives, whose population was estimated to be more than half a million. The combination of European disease, massacre, and brutal exploitation led to the genocide of the native population. Spain ceded the western section of the island in 1697 to France, which renamed it San Domingue. Spain remained in control of the eastern section of the island, Santo Domingo, which would become the Dominican Republic. French merchants and planters turned their colony into a vast slave plantation and slaves from Africa replaced Indians and white indentured servants. The colony was a killing field where slaves were literally worked to death -- half the African slaves who arrived died within a few years. But it was an enormously profitable one. San Domingue was the richest colony in the new world; the slave plantations produced half of the world's coffee, 40 percent of its sugar, as well as a host of other commodities. 6

In 1791, Toussaint L'Ouverture, a literate freed slave, led the world's first successful slave revolution. Toussaint defeated the three great empires of the age -- France, Spain, and England -- which all attempted to defeat the great slave army. During the struggle, the French managed to kidnap Toussaint and jail him in France, where he died. His second-in-command, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, led the final victory and established the new nation of Haiti in 1804.

Haiti's very existence was a threat to all the empires and their colonies. They all lived off profits from plantation slavery. So the great powers quarantined the country, attempting to prevent the spread of slave revolution. France finally recognized Haiti in 1824, but on the condition that it pay reparations to France for the loss of its property -- its slaves. In today's terms this sum amounted to $21 billion. Thus France shackled Haiti with debt at its birth that it did not finish repaying until 1947, fundamentally distorting the nation's development. 7

Under the eagle
The U.S. was one of the last powers to recognize Haiti, finally doing so in 1862. It became interested in Haiti not to help it, but instead to plunder it. In the late nineteenth century the U.S. became an imperialist power, extending its talons to snatch control of the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific from potential rivals like Spain, Britain, and Germany. The U.S. launched its imperial conquest under the guise of liberating Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines from Spain. Puerto Rico and the Philippines became U.S. colonies -- U.S. marines killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to conquer the island -- while Cuba became a colony in all but name. The U.S. then policed the Caribbean as if it were an American lake. The number of occupations and invasions over the following decades is too many to list.

A leader of this conquest was Major General Smedley Butler, who became one of the most decorated marines in history. After he turned against U.S. imperialism later in life, he summed up his experience:

I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps . And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism . I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909–1912 . I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. 8

The U.S. saw Haiti as one of the key sites to establish client governments to protect U.S. interests in the Caribbean. 9 In 1915 the U.S. used the pretext of political turmoil in Haiti to invade the country and occupy it until 1934. The U.S. plundered the island, forced it to repay its debts to the U.S., and established involuntary corvee gang labor to build roads. United States corporations, hoping to take advantage of Haiti's cheap labor, gained control of 266,000 acres of Haitian land, displacing thousands of Haitian peasants. Haitians rose up against this exploitation in a mass liberation movement, the Cacos Rebellion, led by Charlemagne Peralte. The U.S. slaughtered thousands of resistance fighters, crucifying Peralte in Port-au-Prince.

The U.S. also established one of the most reactionary institutions in Haitian society, the Haitian National Army. The U.S. designed that army not to fight foreign wars but to repress the country's peasant masses.

The neoliberal "plan of death"
While the U.S. ended its occupation of Haiti -- prompted in part by a renewed wave of protests and strikes by workers and students -- it continued to intervene in the country's politics and economics with devastating consequences. From 1957 to 1986, the U.S. supported the father-son dictatorship of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. The Duvaliers' dictatorship maintained power through the army and a vast network of death squads called the Tonton Macoutes. The U.S. backed them as a counterweight to Fidel Castro who had aligned Cuba with Russia in the Cold War struggle for Latin America and the Caribbean. Most observers believe that Papa Doc Duvalier's Macoutes killed tens of thousands. 10 The Duvaliers' economic vision for Haiti -- one that has continued to motivate U.S. plans for Haiti -- was to establish Haiti as low-tax, low-wage, non-union offshore assembly site for U.S. corporations.

Though half of Haitians lived in dire poverty, Haiti until the mid–1980s was self-sufficient in the production of rice, its most important staple. All this changed with the imposition of neoliberal policies, pushed by the United States, that required Haiti to slash tariffs, privatize state-owned industries, and cut the state's agricultural budget. Haitian activists would come to call it a "plan of death."

President Reagan pushed this plan as part of his Caribbean Basin Initiative that aimed to open up the area to U.S. corporations and U.S. agricultural products. Baby Doc opened up the Haitian market to a wave of U.S. agribusiness exports like rice and wheat, which are heavily subsidized. The Haitian peasants were simply unable to compete with these cheap, subsidized imports, and Haiti's rural economy gradually collapsed. Hundreds of thousands of peasants abandoned the countryside for the cities to seek some kind of employment. Deprived of their livelihood, peasants turned to cutting down trees to make charcoal for cooking fuel, leading to the massive deforestation of the country, and the further destruction of Haiti's already depleted soil. 11 As a result, Port-au-Prince, which had been a small town of 50,000 in the 1950s, exploded in size to nearly 800,000 in the 1980s and well over 2 million today. 12

Reagan and Baby Doc claimed that they would absorb these dislocated peasants into an enlarged sweatshop industry. But the various factories in the export processing zones only created about 60,000 jobs. As a result, the masses in Port-au-Prince gathered in slums, left to survive on remittances from relatives who had fled abroad and income scraped together in a highly unstable informal economy.

Finally, the U.S. tried to subject Haiti to the same tourist industry that swept the rest of the Caribbean. Baby Doc cut deals with Club Med and various hotel chains to offer the country's beaches for tourism. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton first came to Haiti on their honeymoon as part of the jet set that Baby Doc welcomed into the swank resorts on the island. It would not be the last time the Clintons played around in Haiti.

Baby Doc took out $1.9 billion in loans from the U.S., other powers, and international financial institutions to bankroll this neoliberal "reform" of the country. 13 Meanwhile, Haitians suffered a calamitous drop in their standard of living; during the 1980s, absolute poverty increased by 60 percent -- from 50 to 80 percent of the population. 14 The dictator and his family joined the American and Haitian ruling class to party and profit at the expense of Haitian peasants, workers, and the urban poor.

Killing social reform
Peasants, workers, and the urban poor rose up against Baby Doc in opposition to this social catastrophe in a tremendous social movement called Lavalas (the Creole word for a cleansing flood). A young Catholic priest and advocate of liberation theology, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, became the spokesperson of the struggle. In 1986, Lavalas succeeded in driving Baby Doc from power. The U.S. whisked him away into exile in France along with $505 million stolen from the country. 15 Duvalier left behind a shattered country, shackled again with the odious debt accrued by a dictator to finance the neoliberal disaster.

Under pressure from the movement -- but also to stem the tide of impoverished Haitian refugees pouring out of the country -- the U.S. and Haitian governments finally agreed to hold elections in 1990. The U.S. spent $36 million to try to get their candidate, a former World Bank employee, elected. He received only 14 percent of the vote. Aristide defeated fourteen rivals, winning two-thirds of the vote, on a platform of extensive popular social reforms. The U.S. and the Haitian ruling class literally saw red. They thought that, in the words of a U.S. embassy official in Port-au-Prince, a "Marxist maniac" had been elected to the Haitian government. 16 President George Bush Sr. backed a military coup against Aristide in 1991 and tacitly backed the brutal regime that ruled Haiti from 1991 to 1994.

The military massacred thousands of Lavalas activists and drove 38,000 more out of the country. Bush Sr. and his successor President Bill Clinton repatriated most of these refugees and jailed others in Krome Detention Center in Florida and Guantánamo in Cuba. After an international outcry, the U.S. opted for a face-saving intervention to restore Aristide to power in 1994, but on the condition that he agree to the neoliberal plan of death. Aristide signed on to the deal but resisted its full implementation during his remaining two years in office. He did abolish the Haitian military in 1995 -- a great victory for the movement -- and implemented some reforms, but it was far from what he had promised during the struggle against Duvalier. "The author of a text entitled 'Capitalism is a Mortal Sin,'" wrote Paul Farmer at the time,

now meets regularly with representatives of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and AID [U.S. Agency for International Development]. He was once the priest of the poor; now he's president of a beleaguered nation, run into the ground by a vicious military and business elite and by their friends abroad. Aristide finds himself most indebted to the very people and institutions he once denounced from the pulpit. 17

Aristide's Lavalas ally and successor, René Préval, implemented much of the U.S. neoliberal agenda during his term from 1996 to 2000. 18

Aristide would again run for and win the presidency in 2000, to the great irritation of Clinton and then-President George W. Bush. In his second term, Aristide implemented reforms such as raising the minimum wage and building schools. He also began to demand that France refund the $21 billion that it forced Haiti to pay from 1824 to 1947. 19 At the same time, however, Aristide backed new sweatshop developments in Ounaminthe and agreed to other neoliberal measures. 20 But the U.S. was not appeased and France was outraged.

Another coup and U.S. occupation
The U.S., France, and Canada used the pretext of charges that Aristide manipulated the parliamentary elections, something they usually tolerate with their own allies, to justify a destabilization campaign against Aristide and yet another coup. Bush, of course, had no ground to stand on as he himself had stolen the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Nevertheless, the U.S., Canada, and France imposed economic sanctions, mounted a vast propaganda campaign against Aristide, backed the ruling-class political opposition in the Group of 184, and aided the right-wing death squads. Finally, in 2004, as the death squads swept through the country, the U.S. kidnapped Aristide, whisked him out of the country to temporary exile in the Central African Republic and to final exile in South Africa. Thus, on the two hundredth anniversary of its declaration of independence, Haiti was occupied by the U.S., yet again.

Soon the U.S. delegated the occupation to the UN and its 9,000 mostly Brazilian troops, who continue to patrol the country to this day. This UN force, MINUSTAH, protected the U.S.-installed puppet regime headed up Gérard Latortue who they brought out of retirement from Boca Raton, Florida. The coup regime was utterly corrupt and brutal. With its death squad allies, the regime conducted a terror against the remnants of the social movements and Aristide's party, Fanmi Lavalas. The combination of death squad and UN repression killed an estimated 3,000 people. 21 The UN troops either joined the slaughter or stood aside while repression swept the island. 22

While the U.S. and UN allowed elections in 2006, they banned Aristide's party, the most popular party in the country. Aristide's former ally, René Préval, again won the presidency, but by this time he had become a servant for the U.S. political and economic agenda in Haiti. For example, Préval banned Fanmi Lavalas from running in elections and refused to sign a bill passed in the parliament to raise the minimum wage. 23 In fact, the real power was no longer in the hands of the Haitian government. The U.S.- backed UN occupation rules the country in colonial style, dictating policy to the Haitian government.

The occupation has completely failed to develop the country. It has done nothing to improve living conditions for Haitians, to rebuild the country's ravaged infrastructure, or to reforest the countryside. Before the earthquake, two rounds of natural disasters swept Haiti and exposed the U.S. and UN's callous neglect of the country. Hurricanes hit in 2004 and 2008, killing thousands. 24 The pattern of impoverishment, deforestation, and degradation of the country's infrastructure, which has accelerated in recent years, has rendered natural disasters in Haiti far more devastating than anywhere else. In what is perhaps the worst exposure of the result of U.S. and UN refusal to improve conditions in Haiti, the food crisis in Haiti spiraled out of control on their watch. Even before the food crisis in 2008, the urban poor were reduced to eating mud cakes flavored with salt as a regular meal. When capitalists speculated on the international food market, they drove up the prices of Haiti's imported staples, especially rice. In response Haitians rioted, only to be repressed by the UN troops. 25

Imposing a new plan of death on Haiti
During the UN occupation, the U.S. imposed the same neoliberal economic plan on Haiti in the interests of multinational capital and the Haitian ruling class. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Bill Clinton as special envoy to Haiti in 2009 and tasked him with revitalizing the country's economy. Clinton developed a new version of the plan of death along with Oxford economics professor and former research director for the World Bank, Paul Collier. Collier outlined their program in his paper, "Haiti: From natural catastrophe to economic security." 26 It advocated investment in the tourist industry, redevelopment of the sweatshop industry in cities, export-oriented mango plantations in the countryside, and construction of infrastructure to service that development.

As Polly Pattullo documents in Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean , the tourist industry is largely controlled by U.S. multinational corporations. She quotes one critic of the tourist industry who argues, "When a third world economy uses tourism as a development strategy, it becomes enmeshed in a global system over which it has little control. The international tourism industry is a product of metropolitan capitalist enterprise. The superior entrepreneurial skills, resources and commercial power of metropolitan companies enable them to dominate many third world tourist destinations." 27

Clinton has orchestrated a plan for turning the north of Haiti into a tourist playground, as far away as possible from the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince. He lured Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines into investing $55 million to build a pier along the coastline of Labadee, which it has leased until 2050. From there, Haiti's tourist industry hopes to lead expeditions to the mountaintop fortress Citadelle and the Palace of Sans-Souci, both built by Henri Christophe, one of the leaders of Haiti's slave revolution. 28

For the cities, Collier promotes sweatshop development. Without a hint of shame, he notes, "Due to its poverty and relatively unregulated labor market, Haiti has labor costs that are fully competitive with China, which is the global benchmark. Haitian labor is not only cheap it is of good quality. Indeed, because the garments industry used to be much larger than it is currently, there is a substantial pool of experienced labor." 29 Given the abolition of tariffs on many Haitian exports to the U.S., Haiti is primed, according to Collier, for a new sweatshop boom.

But this is no sustainable development plan in the interests of Haitian workers. At best, Collier promises 150,000 or so jobs. As anthropologist Mark Shuller argues, "subcontracted, low-wage factory work does not contribute much to the economy besides jobs. Being exempt from taxes, it does not contribute to the financing of Haiti's social services." 30 Moreover these jobs themselves do not even pay enough to support life -- they pay for transport and lunch at about $1.60 a day. The U.S. will want to keep these wages low, since that is the profitable basis for the investment.

For the peasant majority in the country, Clinton and Collier advocate the construction of vast new mango plantations. According to them, such new plantations will both create an export crop and aid the reforestation of the country. While it may create jobs for poor peasants, such plantations will not rebuild the agricultural infrastructure of the country so that it can return to the self-sufficient food system it had before the 1980s. As TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson told Democracy Now! , "That isn't the kind of investment that Haiti needs. It needs capital investment. It needs investment so that it can be self-sufficient. It needs investment so that it can feed itself." 31 Such self-sufficiency runs against the grain of U.S. policy to control the international food market with its subsidized crops.

Collier finally argues for investment in infrastructure -- airports, seaports, and roads -- not so much to meet people's needs as to service these new investments in tourism, sweatshops, and plantations. As a result, Collier's plan will actually increase infrastructural inequities; businesses will get what they need to export their products, while the Haitian masses' infrastructural needs, like navigable roads, will be left unaddressed. Even worse, Collier advocates increased privatization of Haiti's infrastructure, especially the port and the electrical system.

It is not incidental that Collier is also the author of The Bottom Billion , 32 a book that calls for outside intervention by wealthy nations such as the United States into what he calls "post-conflict" poor nations, combining targeted aid and economic restructuring under long-term military occupation. In a modern recasting of the old colonialist "civilizing mission," this is meant to lift these nations out of a vicious cycle of violence and poverty.

On his whirlwind tour of the country in 2009, Bill Clinton promised investors that Haiti was open for business with Aristide and Lavalas out of the way and the U.S. and UN in effective control of the country. "Your political risk in Haiti" he declared at a press conference "is lower than it has ever been in my lifetime." 33

Failing to deliver relief to victims
In the aftermath of the earthquake, the press has cooperated with the Obama administration in giving the impression that the U.S. military has been busy delivering aid to desperate Haitians. The facts don't bear this out. To begin with, Obama's promise of $100 million in aid to the country is a pittance -- less than the winnings of a Kentucky couple in a recent Powerball lottery. 34 It is a paltry amount compared to the hundreds of billions that the U.S. shelled out to American banks and the $3 trillion the U.S. will have expended on the Iraq War alone.

There were early warning signs that this humanitarian mission was not all it was cracked up to be. Obama's decision to appoint former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to oversee the collection of donations through the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund displays incredible callousness toward the Haitian masses. Clinton imposed the plan of death on Lavalas. Bush let New Orleans get washed out to sea and backed the 2004 coup that overthrew Aristide. Appointing Bush is like putting Nero in charge of the fire department.

Aid was slow to arrive, and what did turn up was inadequate. Amid a crisis where the first forty-eight hours are decisive in saving people's lives, the U.S. and UN failed to come anywhere near addressing the needs of the 3 million people impacted by the earthquake. Every minute that aid was delayed meant more people died from starvation, dehydration, injury, and disease. It also meant that the hospitals and doctors desperately trying to help the victims were left stranded without the basics to heal the injured.

As Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health, speaking from Port-au-Prince's main hospital just as heavily-armed U.S. troops were arriving, told Democracy Now! ,

In terms of supplies, in terms of surgeons, in terms of aid relief, the response has been incredibly slow. There are teams of surgeons that have been sent to places that were, quote, "more secure," that have ten or twenty doctors and ten patients. We have a thousand people on this campus that are triaged and ready for surgery, but we only have four working ORs without anesthesia and without pain medications. And we're still struggling to get ourselves up to twenty-four-hour care. 35

In the week after the quake, Partners in Health estimated as many as 20,000 Haitians were dying daily from lack of surgery. 36

The U.S. and UN used all sorts of technical alibis to justify the delay in meeting people's needs. They complained that the damage done to Haiti's airport, seaport, and roads impeded delivery of doctors, nurses, food, water, and rescue teams. Such claims are unconvincing. Clearly the means exist to deliver aid quickly to a country only 700 miles away from Miami, Florida, and only 156 miles from a fully functional international airport in the Dominican Republic. Other countries had no difficulty sending planes of aid and volunteers. China, from half way around the world, got a plane of aid to Haiti earlier than the United States. Iceland sent a rescue team within forty-eight hours of the quake. Cuba sent dozens of doctors to join the several hundred doctors already working the country.

This failure of the U.S. to respond produced a chorus of denunciations from relief experts. One official from the Italian government, Guido Bertolaso, who was acclaimed for his successful handling of the April 2009 earthquake in Italy, denounced the U.S. effort as a "pathetic failure." He declared, "The Americans are extraordinary but when you are facing a situation in chaos they tend to confuse military intervention with emergency aid, which cannot be entrusted to armed forces. It's truly a powerful show of force but it's completely out of touch with reality." 37

Guns over aid
As with Katrina, Obama prioritized the deployment of the U.S. military over provision of aid. He sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Haiti right away to get President Préval to secure emergency powers. "The decree would give the government an enormous amount of authority, which in practice they would delegate to us," she stated. 38 The U.S. has taken effective control of Haiti. It has secured control of the airport and seaport and deployed 20,000 U.S. troops to bolster the enlarged UN force of 12,500 already in the country. Thus, for the fourth time since 1915, Haiti is under a U.S. occupation.

How did the U.S. justify the fact that six days into the relief effort only a trickle of aid had gotten through to those who needed it? The U.S. government claimed that aid could not be delivered properly until security was first established. When asked why the U.S. hadn't used its C-130 transport planes to drop supplies in Port-au-Prince, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, "Air drops will simply lead to riots." 39 However, precisely the opposite is the case; people will riot because they lack food and water.

In lockstep, the corporate media's coverage shifted from its initial sympathy with victims of the disaster to churning out scare stories. "Marauding looters emptied wrecked shops and tens of thousands of survivors waited desperately for food and medical care," Reuters claimed. "Hundreds of scavengers and looters swarmed over wrecked stores in downtown Port-au-Prince, seizing goods and fighting among themselves." 40

These scare stories in turn became an excuse for not delivering aid. Writer Nelson Valdes reported,

The United Nations and the U.S. authorities on the ground are telling those who directly want to deliver help not to do so because they might be attacked by "hungry mobs." Two cargo planes from Doctors Without Borders have been forced to land in the Dominican Republic because the shipments have to be accompanied within Port-au-Prince by U.S. military escorts, according to the U.S. command. 41
The scare stories led relief workers and military personnel to treat Haitians in a dehumanizing fashion. Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman reported an incident where an aid helicopter refused to distribute food on the ground and instead dropped it on people. An angry Haitian compared the incident to "throwing bones to dogs." 42

Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), because of their close relation with the U.S., have adopted a paranoid obsession with security to the detriment of providing relief. Ecologist and human rights activist Sasha Kramer reported on Counterpunch,

One friend showed me the map used by all of the larger NGOs where Port-au-Prince is divided into security zones, yellow, orange, red. Red zones are restricted, in the orange zones all of the car windows must be rolled up and they cannot be visited past certain times of the day. Even in the yellow zone aid workers are often not permitted to walk through the streets and spend much of their time riding through the city from one office to another in organizational vehicles. The creation of these security zones has been like the building of a wall, a wall reinforced by language barriers and fear rather than iron rods, a wall that, unlike many of the buildings in Port-au-Prince, did not crumble during the earthquake. Fear, much like violence, is self-perpetuating. When aid workers enter communities radiating fear it is offensive, the perceived disinterest in communicating with the poor majority is offensive, driving through impoverished communities with windows rolled up and armed security guards is offensive . Despite the good intentions of the many aid workers swarming around the UN base, much of the aid coming through the larger organizations is still blocked in storage, waiting for the required UN and U.S. military escorts that are seen as essential for distribution, meanwhile people in the camps are suffering and their tolerance is waning. 43

Yet this disastrous "beware of the Haitian people" line is simply not borne out by reports coming from Haiti. "There are no security issues," argues Dr. Lyon:

I've been with my Haitian colleagues. I'm staying at a friend's house in Port-au-Prince. We're working for the Ministry of Public Health for the direction of this hospital as volunteers. But I'm living and moving with friends. We've been circulating throughout the city until 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning every night, evacuating patients, moving materials. There's no UN guards. There's no U.S. military presence. There's no Haitian police presence. And there's also no violence. There is no insecurity. 44

As the real nature of the U.S. operation became clear, an array of forces criticized the U.S. for imposing an occupation, not supplying relief. Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez rightly declared on his weekly television show, "Marines armed as if they were going to war. There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals -- that's what the United States should send. They are occupying Haiti undercover." 45

Impeding relief
The U.S. occupation actually prevented relief efforts. Once the U.S. was in charge of the airport it prioritized military flights over relief flights. Jarry Emmanuel, the air logistics officer for the World Food Program, complained, "There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti. But most of those flights are for the United States military. Their priorities are to secure the country." 46

Hillary Clinton herself brought relief missions to a halt when she flew into Port-au-Prince to seize emergency powers from Préval. The U.S. military shut the airport down for three hours, preventing the desperately needed delivery of aid. Outraged, Alain Joyandet, the French Cooperation Minister, called on the UN to investigate America's dominant role in the relief effort and protested: "This is about helping Haiti, not occupying it." 47

The chorus of complaints further escalated not only from governments but also from aid organizations. Richard Seymour reports that,

Since the arrival of the troops, however, several aid missions have been prevented from arriving at the airport in Port-au-Prince that the U.S. has commandeered. France and the Caribbean Community have both made their complaints public, as has Médecins Sans Frontières [MSF] on five separate occasions. UN World Food Program flights were also turned away on two consecutive days. Benoit Leduc, MSF's operations manager in Port-au-Prince, complained that U.S. military flights were being prioritized over aid flights. 48

The U.S. military has even turned back masses of health care workers who wanted to volunteer to provide needed medical care in Haiti. The National Nurses Union organized an emergency conference call to mobilize thousands of nurses to go to Haiti. More than 1,800 nurses called in and they proceeded to recruit 11,000 others to the project. Initially the U.S. military said that it would accept them, but then, inexplicably, they reversed themselves and told them that the U.S. had plenty of military personnel to address the health care disaster in Haiti. Nothing could be further from the truth. 49

The U.S. military, Florida's state government, and the Obama administration also colluded in one of the worst examples of the callous treatment of Haitian victims. They refused to allow landing of planes loaded with injured people in desperate need of medical treatment. The Obama administration and Florida's governor were locked in a battle over who would pay for the cost of the medical care. So for five days, the U.S. let injured people suffer in Haiti because budget battles mattered more than people's lives. 50

Al Jazeera captured the nature of the U.S. and UN military occupation in a January 17 report:

Most Haitians here have seen little humanitarian aid so far. What they have seen is guns, and lots of them. Armored personnel carriers cruise the streets. UN soldiers aren't here to help pull people out of the rubble. They're here, they say, to enforce the law. This is what much of the UN presence actually looks like on the streets of Port-au-Prince: men in uniform, racing around in vehicles, carrying guns. At the entrance to the city's airport where most of the aid is coming in, there is anger and frustration. Much-needed supplies of water and food are inside, and Haitians are locked out. "These weapons they bring," [an unidentified Haitian says], "they are instruments of death. We don't want them; we don't need them. We are a traumatized people. What we want from the international community is technical help. Action, not words." 51

Problems with the NGOs
Haiti has approximately 10,000 NGOs operating within its borders, one of the highest numbers per capita in the world. The international NGOs are unaccountable to either the Haitian state or Haitian population. So the aid funneled through them further weakens what little hold Haitians have on their own society. These NGOs have taken deep hold in Haiti at the very same time that the conditions in the country have gone from bad to apocalyptic.

Amid this crisis, some of the NGOs and their employees have tried valiantly to fill the vacuum left by the U.S. and UN. But most of them did not have real forces inside the country to respond to the disaster. The Red Cross, for example, only had 15 employees on the ground, but has received the bulk of donated money -- more than $200 million -- from people around the world. Add to this the reluctance of the big NGOs to act without "security," as mentioned above.

Moreover, as the British medical journal The Lancet argues, many of the international NGOs are engaged in a fierce battle for funds and have allowed that competition to distort their provision of food, water, medical aid, and services amidst the crisis. After calling aid an "industry in its own right," the Lancet noted that NGOs are

jostling for position, each claiming that they are doing the most for earthquake survivors. Some agencies even claim that they are "spearheading" the relief effort. In fact, as we only too clearly see, the situation in Haiti is chaotic, devastating, and anything but coordinated. Polluted by the internal power politics and the unsavory characteristics seen in many big corporations, large aid agencies can be obsessed with raising money through their own appeal efforts. Media coverage as an end in itself is too often an aim of their activities. Marketing and branding have too high a profile. Perhaps worst of all, relief efforts in the field are sometimes competitive with little collaboration between agencies, including smaller, grass-roots charities that may have better networks in affected countries and so are well placed to immediately implement emergency relief. 52

Repatriating and jailing refugees
As Haitians' needs continued unmet, the U.S. occupation devolved into policing the disaster, including preventing the flight of refugees from Haiti. It is true that activists finally compelled Obama to grant Haitians Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Obama's decision delayed the deportation of 30,000 Haitians and will make TPS available to 100,000 to 200,000 more. These provisions, however, have strict limitations.

First of all, the U.S. plans to exclude victims of the earthquake, offering TPS only to those who arrived in the U.S. without legal documents before January 12. Those who quality must prove they are indigent and at the very same time pay $470 in application fees. 53 Those Haitians who are granted TPS will only be allowed to stay in the U.S. for eighteen months before they must return to Haiti. If they do qualify for the program they will become known to the authorities and thus make themselves more vulnerable to repatriation. Moreover, given the scale of destruction in Port-au-Prince, there is no way that the city or country will be in better condition in a year and a half. So if the U.S. enforces this eighteen-month limitation, it will return Haitians to an ongoing disaster area.

To enforce the bar on Haitians coming to the U.S., a flotilla of military vessels has surrounded the country. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano tried to spin this in humanitarian terms. "At this moment of tragedy in Haiti," she lectured, "it is tempting for people suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake to seek refuge elsewhere, but attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation." 54 In a far more blunt statement of the actual policy, Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Chris O'Neil, in charge of Operation Vigilant Sentry declared, "The goal is to interdict them at sea and repatriate them." 55

The U.S. made sure to broadcast this threat to Haitians. A U.S. Air Force transport plane spends hours in the air above Haiti every day, not ferrying food and water, but broadcasting a radio statement in Creole from Haiti's ambassador to the U.S., Raymond Joseph. "I'll be honest with you," Joseph says, according to a transcript on the State Department's Web site. "If you think you will reach the U.S. and all the doors will be wide open to you, that's not at all the case. And they will intercept you right on the water, and send you back home where you came from." 56

To prepare for the eventuality that some Haitians may get through the military cordon around Haiti, Obama, like Bush and Clinton before him, has prepared jail space to incarcerate refugees at Krome Detention Center in Florida and at the U.S. military base in Guantánamo, Cuba. 57

Asserting who's boss in Latin America
Days after the quake, the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation posted an article detailing what it considered should be Washington's aims in occupying Haiti. The U.S. military presence, they argued, in addition to preventing "any large scale movements by Haitians to take to the sea to try to enter the U.S. illegally," also "offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti's long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region." At the same time, it argues, the U.S. military presence could "interrupt the nightly flights of cocaine to Haiti and the Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and counter the ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to destabilize the island of Hispaniola." There is no evidence of Venezuelan cocaine flights or efforts to "destabilize" Haiti, but the point is clear: The U.S. sees Haiti as part of an effort to assert more control over the region and contain "unfriendly" regimes. 58

The military response to Haiti's crisis cannot be separated from Washington's regional interests. As Greg Gandin writes in the Nation ,

In recent years, Washington has experienced a fast erosion of its influence in South America, driven by the rise of Brazil, the region's left turn, the growing influence of China and Venezuela's use of oil revenue to promote a multipolar diplomacy. Broad social movements have challenged efforts by US- and Canadian-based companies to expand extractive industries like mining, biofuels, petroleum and logging. 59

Faced with such regional and international competition, the U.S. under Bush and now Obama is angling to launch a counteroffensive. The U.S. tried to topple Chávez in 2002, it succeeded in overthrowing Aristide in 2004, and last year backed the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras. As Grandin reports, the U.S. is actively promoting the right-wing opposition to the various reform socialist governments in the region. It is backing up this political initiative with an expansion of its military bases in the region, particularly in Colombia. "In late October," Grandin writes, "the United States and Colombia signed an agreement granting the Pentagon use of seven military bases, along with an unlimited number of as yet unspecified 'facilities and locations.' They add to Washington's already considerable military presence in Colombia, as well as Central America and the Caribbean." 60 Haiti is thus a stepping-stone for further U.S. interventions in the region.

"Shock doctrine" for Haiti
For Haiti itself, the U.S. is preparing to impose its old neoliberal plan at gunpoint. In The Shock Doctrine , Naomi Klein documents how the U.S. and other imperial powers take advantage of natural and economic disasters to impose free-market plans for the benefit of the American and native capitalists. The U.S., other powers, the IMF, and World Bank had their shock doctrine for Haiti immediately on hand. Hillary Clinton declared, "We have a plan. It was a legitimate plan, it was done in conjunction with other international donors, with the United Nations." 61 This is the Collier Plan, the same old plan of sweatshops, plantations, and tourism.

The U.S., a few other imperial powers, a few lesser countries, and the UN convened a meeting on January 26 in Montreal to profess their concern and promises to aid Haiti. The fourteen so-called "Friends of Haiti" made sure to include the Haitian prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, to at least give the illusion of respect for the country's sovereignty. But outside a protest organized by Haiti Action Montreal opposed the meeting with signs demanding "medical relief not guns," "grants not loans," and "reconstruction for people not profit."

In the Guardian , Gary Younge criticized the summit for failing to produce any solutions to the crisis in Haiti. "Even as corpses remained under the earthquake's rubble," he wrote, "and the government operated out of a police station, the assembled 'friends' would not commit to canceling Haiti's $1 billion debt. Instead they agreed to a 10-year plan with no details, and a commitment to meet again -- when the bodies have been buried along with coverage of the country -- sometime in the future." 62

By contrast, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and his Latin American and Caribbean allies assembled in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) announced their opposition to America's shock doctrine. They denounced Washington's neoliberal plans, called for relief not troops and for the cancellation of Haiti's debt. Venezuela itself immediately cancelled Haiti's debt and began sending shiploads of relief offering over $100 million in humanitarian aid with no strings attached. 63

No such humanitarian motives animate the U.S., its capitalist corporations, and the international financial institutions. These vultures began circling above Haiti almost immediately. The Street, an investment Web site, published an article misleadingly entitled, "An opportunity to heal Haiti," that lays out how U.S. corporations can cash in on the catastrophe. "Here are some companies," they write, "that could potentially benefit: General Electric (GE), Caterpillar (CAT), Deere (DE), Fluor (FLR), Jacobs Engineering (JEC)." 64 The Rand Corporation's James Dobbins wrote in the New York Times, "This disaster is an opportunity to accelerate oft-delayed reforms." 65

Over the last few years, the U.S. has been trying to give a facelift to the international financial institution that it uses to impose its plans in Haiti. As Jim Lobe reports,

Last June, 1.2 billion dollars in Haiti's external debt, including that owed to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), was cancelled after the Préval government completed a three-year Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. Over half of that debt had been incurred by Haiti's dictatorships, notably the Duvalier dynasty that ruled the country from 1957 to 1986. But the cancellation covered debt incurred by Haiti only through 2004. In the last five years, the country has received new loans -- some of them to help it recover from the floods and other hurricane damage -- totaling another 1.05 billion dollars. 66

In other words, the U.S. and the financial institutions exchanged the old debts for new so-called "legitimate loans," trapping Haiti yet again in debt. Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet call this "a typical odious debt-laundering maneuver." 67

In the wake of the crisis, the bankers were at Haiti's door yet again, ready, incredibly, to loan Haiti money with the usual conditions. The IMF offered Haiti a new loan of $100 million with the usual strings attached. As the Nation 's Richard Kim writes,

The new loan was made through the IMF's extended credit facility, to which Haiti already has $165 million in debt. Debt relief activists tell me that these loans came with conditions, including raising prices for electricity, refusing pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum wage, and keeping inflation low. They say that the new loans would impose these same conditions. In other words, in the face of this latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage to compel neoliberal reforms. 68

Debt cancellation activists like Jubilee pushed back against the IMF and scored a victory over it. "On Jan. 21," Lobe reports,

the World Bank announced a waiver of Haiti's pending debt payment for five years and said it would explore ways that the remaining debt could be cancelled. The IDB [Inter-American Development Bank] has said it is engaged in a similar effort and will present alternatives for reducing or canceling the debt to its board of governors. On Jan. 27, the IMF, which lacks the authority to provide outright grants, announced that it would give Haiti a 102 million-dollar loan at zero-percent interest and that would not be subject to any of the Fund's usual performance conditions. 69

The pressure even forced the U.S. to call for all new monies extended to Haiti to be in the form of grants, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called for debt relief in the run up to the G-7 conference in February. 70

While activists can claim these concessions by the U.S. and the international financial institutions as victories that open up the possibility for even more progress in demanding full cancellation of Haiti's debt and all third world debt, no one should look at this situation through rose-colored glasses. The U.S. is using this promise -- and it is just a promise at this point -- to cover up its determination to implement the Collier Plan for tourism, sweatshops, and mango plantations to exploit Haiti's desperately poor workers and peasants. In fact, the U.S. does not need to use the leverage of debt to force Haiti to agree to the plan; it has secured colonial rule over the country and can impose its plans directly at gunpoint.

Resistance and solidarity
The left has a responsibility to cut through the propaganda of the Obama administration and the mainstream media. The U.S. is not engaged in humanitarian relief, but old-fashioned imperialism in Haiti. Humanitarianism has long been one of the means the U.S. uses to provide a cover story for its military actions abroad. But whether it was saving the Cuban people from Spanish brutality, sending the marines into Mogadishu in 1993 to feed starving Somalis, or overthrowing the Taliban to "liberate women," the real aims and practical results of these interventions diverged radically from their alleged noble intentions.

Humanitarian military intervention was heavily promoted in the 1990s during the latter part of the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration -- in particular during the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Its purpose was to reestablish the legitimacy of U.S. military intervention in the wake of the U.S. defeat in Vietnam, as part of a policy intended to erase what was known as the "Vietnam syndrome." It is being revived again in the wake of the unpopularity of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and weariness toward the "war on terror," for similar reasons. The U.S. hopes that it can re-legitimize its military as a force for good so that it can lay the groundwork for more U.S. interventions in the region and around the world.

Even if the U.S. gets away with its new plans for Haiti, it will inevitably breed resistance in the population and throughout the region where through bitter experience workers and peasants have learned to oppose U.S. designs on their countries. In Haiti, workers and peasants will find their way to organize in the countryside on the plantations, in the sweatshops, and in the shantytowns.

Already Haitian organizations have come out against the U.S. agenda. A statement issued on January 27 from the Coordinating Committee of Progressive Organizations announced:

We must declare our anger and indignation at the exploitation of the situation in Haiti to justify a new invasion by 20,000 U.S. Marines. We condemn what threatens to become a new military occupation by U.S. troops, the third in our history. It is clearly part of a strategy to remilitarize the Caribbean Basin in the context of the imperialist response to the growing rebellion of the peoples of our continent against neo-liberal globalization. And it exists also within a framework of pre-emptive warfare designed to confront the eventual social explosion of a people crushed by poverty and facing despair. We condemn the model imposed by the U.S. government and the military response to a tragic humanitarian crisis. The occupation of the Toussaint L'Ouverture international airport and other elements of the national infrastructure have deprived the Haitian people of part of the contribution made by Caricom, by Venezuela, and by some European countries. We condemn this conduct, and refuse absolutely to allow our country to become another military base. 71

The Haitian left has thus already started building opposition to the U.S. occupation and the Collier Plan. Every year since the U.S. coup in 2004, activists have marched on February 28 in Port-au-Prince against the UN occupation and to demand the end of Aristide's exile. Workers' organizations just last year protested in the thousands for an increase in the minimum wage that Préval opposed. Lavalas activists had protested before the earthquake against their exclusion from the scheduled parliamentary elections. Now amid crisis and occupation, Préval, who has proved to be a puppet for the U.S. agenda, thus losing what little political support he had, has cancelled those elections. No doubt Préval's behavior will provoke political opposition from below against his government's collaboration with the United States.
Outside Haiti, the left must build solidarity with that struggle and make several demands on the Obama administration. First, Obama must immediately end the military occupation of Haiti, and instead flood the country with doctors, nurses, food, water, and construction machinery. Second, the U.S. must also stop its enforcement of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's exile and the ban on his party, Fanmi Lavalas, from participating in elections. Haitians, not the U.S., should have the right to determine their government.

Third, the left must demand that the U.S., other countries, and international financial institutions cancel Haiti's debt, so that the aid money headed to Haiti will go to food and reconstruction, not debt repayment. More than that -- France, the U.S., and Canada, the three countries that have most interfered with Haiti's sovereignty -- should pay reparations for the damage they have done. France can start by repaying the $21 billion dollars that it extracted from Haiti from 1824 to 1947. Fourth, leftists must agitate for Obama to indefinitely extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the U.S. -- and open the borders to any Haitians who flee the country. Finally, the left must direct all its funds to Haitian grass-roots organizations to provide relief and help rebuild resistance to the U.S. plan for Haiti.

Only through agitating for these demands can we stop the U.S. from imposing at gunpoint its shock doctrine for Haiti. In this struggle, the left must educate wider and wider layers of people, already suspicious of U.S. motives after Hurricane Katrina, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, that the U.S. state never engages in military actions for humanitarian motives. As the great American revolutionary journalist John Reed declared, "Uncle Sam never gives anybody something for nothing. He comes along with a sack stuffed with hay in one hand and a whip in the other. Anyone who accepts Uncle Sam's promises at their face value will find that they must be paid for in sweat and blood." 72


  1. "President Obama on U.S. rescue efforts in Haiti, www.America.gov .
  2. Bill Quigley, "Haiti: still starving 23 days later," Huffington Post, posted February 4, 2010.
  3. Soumitra Eachempati, Dean Lorich, and David Helfet, "Haiti: Obama's Katrina," Wall Street Journal , January 26, 2010.
  4. Rich Schapiro, "Rev. Pat Robertson says ancient Haitians' 'pact with the devil' caused earthquake," New York Daily News , January 13, 2010.
  5. David Brooks, "The underlying tragedy," New York Times , January 14, 2010.
  6. For an overview of the French colony and the slave revolution see Ashley Smith, "The Black Jacobins," International Socialist Review (ISR) 63, January–February 2009.
  7. Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politicsw of Containment (New York: Verso Books, 2007), 12.
  8. Quoted in Sidney Lens, The Forging of the American Empire (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2003), 270.
  9. For an overview of the history of U.S. imperialism in Haiti see Helen Scott, "Haiti under siege," ISR 35, May-June 2004.
  10. Paul Farmer, The Uses of Haiti (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1994), 108.
  11. Alex Dupuy, Haiti in the New World Order (New York: Westview Press, 1996), 37.
  12. For an analysis of Baby Doc's neoliberal plans see chapter 2 of Alex Dupuy, The Prophet and the Power (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007).
  13. Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet, "Debt is Haiti's real curse," Socialist Worker , January 20, 2010.
  14. Regan Boychuck, "The vultures circle Haiti at every opportunity, natural or man-made," Znet, February 3, 2010.
  15. Dupuy, Haiti in the New World Order , 31.
  16. Quoted in Amy Wilentz, The Rainy Season (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), 137.
  17. Quoted in Ashley Smith, "The new occupation of Haiti: Aristide's rise and fall," ISR 35, May–June, 2004.
  18. For an analysis of Lavalas after Aristide's restoration see chapter 5 of Robert Fatton, Haiti's Predatory Republic (Boulder: Lynne Reiner Publishers, 2002).
  19. For a perhaps overly generous portrait of Aristide in his second term see chapters 6 and 7 of Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood .
  20. Clara James, "Haiti free trade zone," Dollars and Sense , November/December 2002.
  21. Hallward, Damming the Flood , 155.
  22. See Bill Quigley, "Haiti human rights report," www.ijdh.org/pdf/QuigleyReport.pdf .
  23. Mo Woong, "Haiti's minimum wage battle," Caribbean News Net, August 25, 2009.
  24. See Ashley Smith "Natural and unnatural disasters," Socialist Worker , September 23, 2008.
  25. Mark Shuller, "Haiti's food riots," ISR 59, May–June 2008.
  26. Paul Collier, "Haiti: From natural catastrophe to economic security," FOCALPoint, Volume 8, Issue 2, March 2009.
  27. Quoted in Polly Pattullo, Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2005), 20.
  28. Jacqueline Charles, "Royal Caribbean boosts Haiti tourism push," Miami Herald , September 26, 2009.
  29. Collier, "Haiti from natural catastrophe to economic security."
  30. Mark Shuller, "Haiti needs new development approaches, not more of the same," Haiti Analysis , June 18, 2009.
  31. Quoted in Ashley Smith "Catastrophe in Haiti," Socialist Worker , January 14, 2010.
  32. Jacqueline Charles, "Bill Clinton on trade mission on Haiti," Miami Herald , October 1, 2009.
  33. Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
  34. Bill Quigley, "Too little too late for Haiti? Six sobering points," Huffington Post , January 15, 2010.
  35. "With foreign aid still at a trickle," Democracy Now! , January 20, 2010.
  36. Marc Lacey "The nightmare in Haiti: untreated illness and injury," New York Times , January 21, 2010.
  37. Quoted in Nick Allen "West urged to write off Haiti's $1 billion debt," Telegraph.co.uk , January 25, 2010.
  38. Mark Lander, "In show of support, Clinton goes to Haiti," New York Times , January 17, 2010.
  39. "U.S. military begins aid drops in Haiti," CBS News, January 18, 2010.
  40. Andrew Cawthorne and Catherine Bremer, "U.S., U.N. boost Haiti aid security as looters swarm," Reuters, January 19, 2010.
  41. Nelson P. Valdés, "Class and race fear: The rescue operation's priorities in Haiti," Counterpunch, January 18, 2010.
  42. Quoted in Lenora Daniels, "We are Haitians. We are like people like anybody else," Common Dreams, January 31, 2010.
  43. Sasha Kramer, "Fear slows aid efforts in Haiti: Letter from Port-au-Prince," Counterpunch, January 27, 2010.
  44. "Doctor: Misinformation and racism have slowed the recovery effort," Democracy Now! , January 19, 2010.
  45. "Chávez says U.S. occupying Haiti in name of aid," Reuters, January 17, 2010.
  46. Rory Carroll, "U.S. accused of annexing airport," Guardian (UK), January 17, 2010.
  47. Quoted in Giles Whittell, Martin Fletcher, and Jacqui Goddard, "Haiti has a leader in charge, but not in control," The Times (UK), January 19, 2010.
  48. Richard Seymour, "The humanitarian myth," Socialist Worker , January 25, 2010.
  49. "Union nurses respond to Haiti," Socialist Worker, January 27, 2010.
  50. Shaila Dewan, "U.S. suspends Haitian airlift in cost dispute," New York Times , January 30, 2010.
  51. The Al Jazeera report is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=0F5TwEK24sA .
  52. "The growth of aid and the decline of humanitarianism," Lancet , Volume 375, Issue 9711, January 23, 2010; 253.
  53. James C. McKinley Jr., "Vows to move fast for Haitian immigrants in the U.S.," New York Times , January 21, 2010.
  54. Richard Fausset, "U.S. to change illegal immigrants status," Los Angeles Times , January 16, 2010.
  55. "U.S. to repatriate most Haitian refugees, Washington Times , January 19, 2010.
  56. Curt Anderson, "U.S. prepares for Haitian refugees," Washington Examiner , January 19, 2010.
  57. Tom Eley, "Washington shuts door to Haitian refugees" Global Research, February 8, 2010.
  58. Jim Roberts, " Things to remember while helping Haiti ," The Foundry .
  59. Greg Grandin, "Muscling Latin America," Nation, January 21, 2010.
  60. Ibid.
  61. Nicholas Kralev, "Clinton says plan exists for Haiti," Washington Times , January 26, 2010.
  62. Gary Younge, "The West owes Haiti a big bailout," Guardian (UK), January 31, 2010.
  63. Magbana, "Venezuela cancels Haiti's debt," January 26, 2010.
  64. Quoted in Isabel McDonald, "New Haiti: Same old corporate interests," Nation, January 29, 2010.
  65. James Dobbins, "Skip the graft," New York Times , January 17, 2010.
  66. Jim Lobe, "Haiti: U.S. lawmakers call for debt cancellation," IPS, February 4, 2010.
  67. Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet, "Debt is Haiti's real curse."
  68. Richard Kim, "IMF to Haiti: freeze public wages," Nation , January 15, 2010.
  69. Lobe, "Haiti: U.S. lawmakers call for debt cancellation."
  70. Ibid.
  71. Haiti After the Catastrophe, " What Are the Perspectives? Statement by the Coordinating Committee of the Progressive Organizations ."
  72. Quoted in John Riddell ed., To See the Dawn (New York: Pathfinder, 1993), 136.

[Feb 17, 2018] Iran is already being attacked from West and East in the North

Feb 17, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Posted by: ninel | Feb 11, 2018 3:59:15 PM

Here is an interesting article that points to the new American strategy with respect to Iran and central Asia. Iran is already being attacked from West and East in the North. And central Asia is next. This might force Iran to pull back some forces from Syria and Iraq.

No end to the wars.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/02/06/us-isis-nexus-afghanistan-becomes-hot-topic.html

[Feb 15, 2018] If America Wasn't America, the United States Would Be Bombing It by Darius Shahtahmasebi

Notable quotes:
"... Reprinted with permission from The Anti-Media . ..."
Feb 15, 2018 | ronpaulinstitute.org

February 13, 2018

On January 8, 2018, former government advisor Edward Luttwak wrote an opinion piece for Foreign Policy titled "It's Time to Bomb North Korea."

Luttwak's thesis is relatively straightforward. There is a government out there that may very soon acquire nuclear-weapons capabilities, and this country cannot be trusted to responsibly handle such a stockpile. The responsibility to protect the world from a rogue nation cannot be argued with, and we understandably have a duty to ensure the future of humanity.

However, there is one rogue nation that continues to hold the world ransom with its nuclear weapons supply. It is decimating non-compliant states left, right, and center. This country must be stopped dead in its tracks before anyone turns to the issue of North Korea.

In August of 1945, this rogue nation dropped two atomic bombs on civilian targets, not military targets, completely obliterating between 135,000 and 300,000 Japanese civilians in just these two acts alone. Prior to this event, this country killed even more civilians in the infamous firebombing of Tokyo and other areas of Japan, dropping close to 500,000 cylinders of napalm and petroleum jelly on some of Japan's most densely populated areas.

Recently, historians have become more open to the possibility that dropping the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not actually necessary to end World War II. This has also been confirmed by those who actually took part in it. As the Nation explained:

Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, stated in a public address at the Washington Monument two months after the bombings that 'the atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan ' Adm. William "Bull" Halsey Jr., Commander of the US Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946 that 'the first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment . It was a mistake to ever drop it . [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it
A few months' prior, this rogue country's invasion of the Japanese island of Okinawa also claimed at least one quarter of Okinawa's population. The Okinawan people have been protesting this country's military presence ever since. The most recent ongoing protest has lasted well over 5,000 days in a row.

This nation's bloodlust continued well after the end of World War II. Barely half a decade later, this country bombed North Korea into complete oblivion, destroying over 8,700 factories, 5,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals, 600,000 homes, and eventually killing off as much as 20 percent of the country's population. As the Asia Pacific Journal has noted, the assaulting country dropped so many bombs that they eventually ran out of targets to hit, turning to bomb the irrigation systems, instead:

By the fall of 1952, there were no effective targets left for US planes to hit. Every significant town, city and industrial area in North Korea had already been bombed. In the spring of 1953, the Air Force targeted irrigation dams on the Yalu River, both to destroy the North Korean rice crop and to pressure the Chinese, who would have to supply more food aid to the North. Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans."
This was just the beginning. Having successfully destroyed the future North Korean state, this country moved on to the rest of East Asia and Indo-China, too. As Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi has explained :
We [this loose cannon of a nation] dumped 20 million gallons of toxic herbicide on Vietnam from the air, just to make the shooting easier without all those trees, an insane plan to win 'hearts and minds' that has left about a million still disabled from defects and disease – including about 100,000 children, even decades later, little kids with misshapen heads, webbed hands and fused eyelids writhing on cots, our real American legacy, well out of view, of course.
This mass murder led to the deaths of between 1.5 million and 3.8 million people, according to the Washington Post. More bombs were dropped on Vietnam than were unleashed during the entire conflict in World War II . While this was going on, this same country was also secretly bombing Laos and Cambodia, too, where there are over 80 million unexploded bombs still killing people to this day.

This country also decided to bomb Yugoslavia , Panama , and Grenada before invading Iraq in the early 1990s. Having successfully bombed Iraqi infrastructure, this country then punished Iraq's entire civilian population with brutal sanctions. At the time, the U.N. estimated that approximately 1.7 million Iraqis had died as a result, including 500,000 to 600,000 children . Some years later, a prominent medical journal attempted to absolve the cause of this infamous history by refuting the statistics involved despite the fact that, when interviewed during the sanctions-era, Bill Clinton's secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, intimated that to this rogue government, the deaths of half a million children were "worth it" as the "price" Iraq needed to pay. In other words, whether half a million children died or not was irrelevant to this bloodthirsty nation, which barely blinked while carrying out this murderous policy.

This almighty superpower then invaded Iraq again in 2003 and plunged the entire region into chaos . At the end of May 2017, the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) released a study concluding that the death toll from this violent nation's 2003 invasion of Iraq had led to over one million deaths and that at least one-third of them were caused directly by the invading force.

Not to mention this country also invaded Afghanistan prior to the invasion of Iraq (even though the militants plaguing Afghanistan were originally trained and financed by this warmongering nation). It then went on to bomb Yemen, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and the Philippines .

Libya famously had one of the highest standards of living in the region. It had state-assisted healthcare, education, transport, and affordable housing. It is now a lawless war-zone rife with extremism where slaves are openly traded like commodities amid the power vacuum created as a direct result of the 2011 invasion.

In 2017, the commander-in-chief of this violent nation took the monumental death and destruction to a new a level by removing the restrictions on delivering airstrikes, which resulted in thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths. Before that, in the first six months of 2017, this country dropped over 20,650 bombs , a monumental increase from the year that preceded it.

Despite these statistics, all of the above conquests are mere child's play to this nation. The real prize lies in some of the more defiant and more powerful states, which this country has already unleashed a containment strategy upon. This country has deployed its own troops all across the border with Russia even though it promised in the early 1990s it would do no such thing. It also has a specific policy of containing Russia's close ally, China, all the while threatening China's borders with talks of direct strikes on North Korea (again, remember it already did so in the 1950s).

This country also elected a president who not only believes it is okay to embrace this rampantly violent militarism but who openly calls other countries "shitholes" – the very same term that aptly describes the way this country has treated the rest of the world for decades on end. This same president also reportedly once asked three times in a meeting , "If we have nuclear weapons, why don't we use them?" and shortly after proposed a policy to remove the constraints protecting the world from his dangerous supply of advanced nuclear weaponry.

When it isn't directly bombing a country, it is also arming radical insurgent groups , creating instability, and directly overthrowing governments through its covert operatives on the ground.

If we have any empathy for humanity, it is clear that this country must be stopped. It cannot continue to act like this to the detriment of the rest of the planet and the safety and security of the rest of us. This country openly talks about using its nuclear weapons, has used them before, and has continued to use all manner of weapons unabated in the years since while threatening to expand the use of these weapons to other countries.

Seriously, if North Korea seems like a threat, imagine how the rest of the world feels while watching one country violently take on the rest of the planet single-handedly, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake and promising nothing less than a nuclear holocaust in the years to come.

There is only one country that has done and that continues to do the very things North Korea is being accused of doing.

Take as much time as you need for that to resonate.

Reprinted with permission from The Anti-Media .

[Feb 11, 2018] What We've Learned in Year 1 of Russiagate

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The new weapons for Ukraine coincides with an increase in US troop deployments in the Baltic region on Russia's border, prompting Russia to accuse the United States of violating the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, and position nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in response. ..."
Feb 11, 2018 | www.thenation.com

One consequence of the Trump-Russia fixation is the overshadowing of the far-right agenda that Trump and his Republican allies are carrying out, including, inexorably, policies that undermine the narrative of Trump-Russian collusion. But as that narrative is also used as a cudgel against Trump's presidency, it is worth asking if some of those policies are now even a direct result.

In December, Trump authorized the sale of new weapons to Ukraine for its fight against Russian-backed separatists. President Obama had rejected the arms shipments, "fearing that it would only escalate the bloodshed," as The New York Times noted in 2015. Trump had also opposed such a move during the campaign, but was swayed by lobbying from advisers and congressional neoconservatives . "Overall," observed Andrew Weiss , a Russia expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "I see this discussion [on Trump-Russia] as fitting within a broader effort by people within the national security bureaucracy to box Trump in on Ukraine."

The new weapons for Ukraine coincides with an increase in US troop deployments in the Baltic region on Russia's border, prompting Russia to accuse the United States of violating the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, and position nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in response.

[Feb 11, 2018] Justice department's No 3 official to take Walmart's top legal job

Feb 11, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Revolving door in action

Brand attracted interest because of her potential to assume a key role in the Trump-Russia investigation. The official overseeing the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, has been repeatedly criticized by Trump. If Rosenstein had been fired or quit, oversight would have fallen to Brand. That job would now fall to the solicitor general, Noel Francisco.

"She felt this was an opportunity she couldn't turn down," her friend and former colleague Jamie Gorelick said. Walmart sought Brand to be head of global corporate governance at the retail giant, a position Gorelick said has legal and policy responsibilities that will cater to her strengths.
"It really seems to have her name on it," Gorelick said.

[Feb 06, 2018] The War That Never Ends (for the U.S. Military High Command), by Danny Sjursen - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... On Strategy : A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, ..."
"... In his own work, Summers marginalized all Vietnamese actors (as would so many later military historians), failed to adequately deal with the potential consequences, nuclear or otherwise, of the sorts of escalation he advocated, and didn't even bother to ask whether Vietnam was a core national security interest of the United States. ..."
"... A more sophisticated Clausewitzian analysis came from current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a highly acclaimed 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty ..."
"... McMaster is a genuine scholar and a gifted writer, but he still suggested that the Joint Chiefs should have advocated for a more aggressive offensive strategy -- a full ground invasion of the North or unrelenting carpet-bombing of that country. In this sense, he was just another "go-big" Clausewitzian who, as historian Ronald Spector pointed out recently, ignored Vietnamese views and failed to acknowledge -- an observation of historian Edward Miller -- that "the Vietnam War was a Vietnamese war." ..."
"... The Army and Vietnam ..."
"... Foreign Affairs ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... A Better War : The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... The Daily Show with Jon Stewart ..."
"... Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife : Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... David Petraeus and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, co-authors in 2006 of FM 3-24, the first ( New York Times ..."
"... On Strategy ..."
"... Dereliction of Duty ..."
"... The Army and Vietnam ..."
"... Most of the generals leading the war on terror just missed service in the Vietnam War. They graduated from various colleges or West Point in the years immediately following the withdrawal of most U.S. ground troops or thereafter: Petraeus in 1974 , future Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal in 1976 , and present National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in 1984 . Secretary of Defense Mattis finished ROTC and graduated from Central Washington University in 1971 , while Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly enlisted at the tail end of the Vietnam War, receiving his commission in 1976 . ..."
"... Petraeus, Mattis, McMaster, and the others entered service when military prestige had reached a nadir or was just rebounding. And those reading lists taught the young officers where to lay the blame for that -- on civilians in Washington (or in the nation's streets) or on a military high command too weak to assert its authority effectively. They would serve in Vietnam's shadow, the shadow of defeat, and the conclusions they would draw from it would only lead to twenty-first-century disasters ..."
"... Meanwhile, President Trump's hearts-and-minds faction consists of officers who have spent three administrations expanding COIN-influenced missions to approximately 70% of the world's nations. Furthermore, they've recently fought for and been granted a new "mini-surge" in Afghanistan intended to -- in disturbingly Vietnam-esque language -- "break the deadlock ," "reverse the decline," and "end the stalemate " there. Never mind that neither 100,000 U.S. troops (when I was there in 2011) nor 16 full years of combat could, in the term of the trade, "stabilize" Afghanistan. The can-do, revisionist believers atop the national security state have convinced Trump that -- despite his original instincts -- 4,000 or 5,000 (or 6,000 or 7,000) more troops (and yet more drones , planes , and other equipment) will do the trick. This represents tragedy bordering on farce. ..."
"... The hearts and minders and Clausewitzians atop the military establishment since 9/11 are never likely to stop citing their versions of the Vietnam War as the key to victory today; that is, they will never stop focusing on a war that was always unwinnable and never worth fighting. None of today's acclaimed military personalities seems willing to consider that Washington couldn't have won in Vietnam because, as former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak (who flew 269 combat missions over that country) noted in the recent Ken Burns documentary series, "we were fighting on the wrong side." ..."
"... Today's leaders don't even pretend that the post-9/11 wars will ever end. In an interview last June, Petraeus -- still considered a sagacious guru of the Defense establishment -- disturbingly described the Afghan conflict as " generational ." ..."
"... Vietnam lost in the end. Its greedy corrupt elites are now puppets of US. They allow open prostitution in Ho Chi Minh city. They allow Vietnamese women to be a bunch of hookers again. ..."
"... "America tends to gain from commerce what it thinks it will get by warfare. Not so much the other way around" Rather like 20th century Germany, don't you think? ..."
"... The Vietnam war killed the draft. The draft is involuntary servitude, slavery in a sense. For ordinary Americans this was the only positive thing to come from the war. ..."
"... Ultimately, the victory of WW2 due to sheer weight of industrial productivity ramp and hence massive output of planes, tanks, submarines, etc. made defense a large part of the US economy. Since that time, too many entrenched interests just never want the military to downsize. Hence, the US has to keep invented new demand for a product that otherwise would not have such demand, but keeps some major entrenched interests powerful. ..."
"... The BIGGEST lesson to come out of the illegal and immoral War against Vietnam is that the draft was impeding the MIC's effort to sell Americans on the idea of supporting endless war. ..."
"... The same generals who let 911 happen and started the Iraq war still run the show. All of them should have faced a firing squad for that, but instead, the grossly incompetent General Kelly runs the White House and the grossly incompetent Mattis runs the military. ..."
"... The warhawk imperialists – some of them Clausewtizians and most COINdinistas – rule everything. No matter how many lives are lost, no matter how much money is wasted, they demand we remain on the same path of playing world hegemon. George Washington fought the British Empire for our freedom, so our subsequent leaders, starting most importantly with Lincoln, could remake the country into the British Empire 2.0. ..."
"... No; it's psychotic, psychopathic mayhem and mass-murder. Lemma: At any crime-scene, there are one or more perpetrators, possibly accessories, apologists and/or 'idle' bystanders. It is incumbent upon *all* witnesses to attempt to a) restrain malefactors and where possible b) rescue victims from harm. *All* present and not in active resistance to the crime attract proportional guilt. Addendum: Any person profiting from crime also makes him/herself an accessory, like all residents in the 'illegitimate entity' and/or the puppet executives, manufacturers of the means and their enablers = the whole MIC[*] plus all their dependents, say. ..."
"... The US rogue regime = US-M/I/C/4a†-plex, with dog-wagging-tail, its illegitimate sprog the Zionist/Israeli rogue regime + Js = I/J/Z-plex, all components rife with corruption. ..."
"... Save the BS for your fellow geezer drunks at the VFW lounge. Vietnam featured a complete collapse of the conscripted US military, rampant drug use, fragging, insubordination, faked injuries, disintegration of the chain of command, mass murder of civilians, and finally TOTAL DEFEAT after turning tail and running following the negotiation of a charitable "decent interval" allowing the yanks to save some face. Pathetic. ..."
"... Wars fought to make countries like Vietnam open to big corporations to move American jobs there. Corporate money backed by the fist of the Marines has worked all their lives, all their parents' lives, and all the modern history of America. "Why not now?", the sheep ask. ..."
"... According to Bobbie McNamara, American efforts resulted in the murder of over 4 million Vietnamese and the maiming of millions of others .MOSTLY CIVILIANS. ..."
"... If the war mongers had had an all-volunteer army like the one they have today, they could have and would have kept the Vietnam War going indefinitely. But, since they didn't, draftees and their parents wised-up to the Pentagon's money-making scam and put a stop to it by refusing to participate. ..."
"... Very rich families and corporatists started their own think tanks after World War II. This is when the looting began for RAND. These are the bastards Eisenhower was afraid of. Abe Lincoln feared the large corporations born of business profiteering during the U.S. Civil War -- the military industrial complex of the day -- easily constituted the greatest threat to the American republic. ..."
"... Remember that Eisenhower's definition of the complex included among the bastards, not only the military defense industry corporations, but also right alongside them the news media and the university and private research establishments. ..."
"... That war was a cluster fuck and a crime against humanity. It's only purpose was to make a few rich men richer. The murder and destruction in the MENA is just more of the same. ..."
Feb 05, 2018 | www.unz.com

Vietnam: it's always there. Looming in the past, informing American futures.

A 50-year-old war, once labeled the longest in our history, is still alive and well and still being refought by one group of Americans: the military high command. And almost half a century later, they're still losing it and blaming others for doing so.

Of course, the U.S. military and Washington policymakers lost the war in Vietnam in the previous century and perhaps it's well that they did. The United States really had no business intervening in that anti-colonial civil war in the first place, supporting a South Vietnamese government of questionable legitimacy, and stifling promised nationwide elections on both sides of that country's artificial border. In doing so, Washington presented an easy villain for a North Vietnamese-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) insurgency, a group known to Americans in those years as the Vietcong.

More than two decades of involvement and, at the war's peak, half a million American troops never altered the basic weakness of the U.S.-backed regime in Saigon. Despite millions of Asian deaths and 58,000 American ones, South Vietnam's military could not, in the end, hold the line without American support and finally collapsed under the weight of a conventional North Vietnamese invasion in April 1975.

There's just one thing. Though a majority of historians (known in academia as the "orthodox" school) subscribe to the basic contours of the above narrative, the vast majority of senior American military officers do not. Instead, they're still refighting the Vietnam War to a far cheerier outcome through the books they read, the scholarship they publish, and (most disturbingly) the policies they continue to pursue in the Greater Middle East.

The Big Re-Write

In 1986, future general, Iraq-Afghan War commander, and CIA director David Petraeus penned an article for the military journal Parameters that summarized his Princeton doctoral dissertation on the Vietnam War. It was a piece commensurate with then-Major Petraeus's impressive intellect, except for its disastrous conclusions on the lessons of that war. Though he did observe that Vietnam had "cost the military dearly" and that "the frustrations of Vietnam are deeply etched in the minds of those who lead the services," his real fear was that the war had left the military unprepared to wage what were then called "low-intensity conflicts" and are now known as counterinsurgencies. His takeaway: what the country needed wasn't less Vietnams but better-fought ones. The next time, he concluded fatefully, the military should do a far better job of implementing counterinsurgency forces, equipment, tactics, and doctrine to win such wars.

Two decades later, when the next Vietnam-like quagmire did indeed present itself in Iraq, he and a whole generation of COINdinistas (like-minded officers devoted to his favored counterinsurgency approach to modern warfare) embraced those very conclusions to win the war on terror. The names of some of them -- H.R. McMaster and James Mattis, for instance -- should ring a bell or two these days. In Iraq and later in Afghanistan, Petraeus and his acolytes would get their chance to translate theory into practice. Americans -- and much of the rest of the planet -- still live with the results.

Like Petraeus, an entire generation of senior military leaders, commissioned in the years after the Vietnam War and now atop the defense behemoth, remain fixated on that ancient conflict. After all these decades, such "thinking" generals and "soldier-scholars" continue to draw all the wrong lessons from what, thanks in part to them, has now become America's second longest war.

Rival Schools

Historian Gary Hess identifies two main schools of revisionist thinking.

Both schools, however, agreed on something basic: that the U.S. military should have won in Vietnam.

The danger presented by either school is clear enough in the twenty-first century. Senior commanders, some now serving in key national security positions, fixated on Vietnam, have translated that conflict's supposed lessons into what now passes for military strategy in Washington. The result has been an ever-expanding war on terror campaign waged ceaselessly from South Asia to West Africa, which has essentially turned out to be perpetual war based on the can-do belief that counterinsurgency and advise-and-assist missions should have worked in Vietnam and can work now.

The Go-Big Option

The leading voice of the Clausewitzian school was U.S. Army Colonel and Korean War/Vietnam War vet Harry Summers, whose 1982 book, On Strategy : A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, became an instant classic within the military. It's easy enough to understand why. Summers argued that civilian policymakers -- not the military rank-and-file -- had lost the war by focusing hopelessly on the insurgency in South Vietnam rather than on the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. More troops, more aggressiveness, even full-scale invasions of communist safe havens in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam, would have led to victory.

Summers had a deep emotional investment in his topic. Later , he would argue that the source of post-war pessimistic analyses of the conflict lay in "draft dodgers and war evaders still [struggling] with their consciences." In his own work, Summers marginalized all Vietnamese actors (as would so many later military historians), failed to adequately deal with the potential consequences, nuclear or otherwise, of the sorts of escalation he advocated, and didn't even bother to ask whether Vietnam was a core national security interest of the United States.

Perhaps he would have done well to reconsider a famous post-war encounter he had with a North Vietnamese officer, a Colonel Tu, whom he assured that "you know you never beat us on the battlefield." "That may be so," replied his former enemy, "but it is also irrelevant."

Whatever its limitations, his work remains influential in military circles to this day. (I was assigned the book as a West Point cadet!)

A more sophisticated Clausewitzian analysis came from current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a highly acclaimed 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty . He argued that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were derelict in failing to give President Lyndon Johnson an honest appraisal of what it would take to win, which meant that "the nation went to war without the benefit of effective military advice." He concluded that the war was lost not in the field or by the media or even on antiwar college campuses, but in Washington, D.C., through a failure of nerve by the Pentagon's generals, which led civilian officials to opt for a deficient strategy.

McMaster is a genuine scholar and a gifted writer, but he still suggested that the Joint Chiefs should have advocated for a more aggressive offensive strategy -- a full ground invasion of the North or unrelenting carpet-bombing of that country. In this sense, he was just another "go-big" Clausewitzian who, as historian Ronald Spector pointed out recently, ignored Vietnamese views and failed to acknowledge -- an observation of historian Edward Miller -- that "the Vietnam War was a Vietnamese war."

COIN: A Small (Forever) War

Another Vietnam veteran, retired Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Krepinevich, fired the opening salvo for the hearts-and-minders. In The Army and Vietnam , published in 1986, he argued that the NLF, not the North Vietnamese Army, was the enemy's chief center of gravity and that the American military's failure to emphasize counterinsurgency principles over conventional concepts of war sealed its fate. While such arguments were, in reality, no more impressive than those of the Clausewitzians, they have remained popular with military audiences, as historian Dale Andrade points out , because they offer a "simple explanation for the defeat in Vietnam."

Krepinevich would write an influential 2005 Foreign Affairs piece , "How to Win in Iraq," in which he applied his Vietnam conclusions to a new strategy of prolonged counterinsurgency in the Middle East, quickly winning over the New York Times 's resident conservative columnist, David Brooks, and generating "discussion in the Pentagon, CIA, American Embassy in Baghdad, and the office of the vice president."

In 1999, retired army officer and Vietnam veteran Lewis Sorley penned the definitive hearts-and-minds tract, A Better War : The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam . Sorley boldly asserted that, by the spring of 1970, "the fighting wasn't over, but the war was won." According to his comforting tale, the real explanation for failure lay with the "big-war" strategy of U.S. commander General William Westmoreland. The counterinsurgency strategy of his successor, General Creighton Abrams -- Sorley's knight in shining armor -- was (or at least should have been) a war winner.

Critics noted that Sorley overemphasized the marginal differences between the two generals' strategies and produced a remarkably counterfactual work. It didn't matter, however. By 2005, just as the situation in Iraq, a country then locked in a sectarian civil war amid an American occupation, went from bad to worse, Sorley's book found its way into the hands of the head of U.S. Central Command, General John Abizaid, and State Department counselor Philip Zelikow. By then, according to the Washington Post 's David Ignatius, it could also "be found on the bookshelves of senior military officers in Baghdad."

Another influential hearts-and-minds devotee was Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl. (He even made it onto The Daily Show with Jon Stewart .) His Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife : Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam followed Krepinevich in claiming that "if [Creighton] Abrams had gotten the call to lead the American effort at the start of the war, America might very well have won it." In 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker "so liked [Nagl's] book that he made it required reading for all four-star generals," while the Iraq War commander of that moment, General George Casey, gave Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a copy during a visit to Baghdad.

David Petraeus and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, co-authors in 2006 of FM 3-24, the first ( New York Times -reviewed ) military field manual for counterinsurgency since Vietnam, must also be considered among the pantheon of hearts-and-minders. Nagl wrote a foreword for their manual, while Krepinevich provided a glowing back-cover endorsement .

Such revisionist interpretations would prove tragic in Iraq and Afghanistan, once they had filtered down to the entire officer corps.

Reading All the Wrong Books

In 2009, when former West Point history professor Colonel Gregory Daddis was deployed to Iraq as the command historian for the Multinational Corps -- the military's primary tactical headquarters -- he noted that corps commander Lieutenant General Charles Jacoby had assigned a professional reading list to his principal subordinates. To his disappointment, Daddis also discovered that the only Vietnam War book included was Sorley's A Better War . This should have surprised no one, since his argument -- that American soldiers in Vietnam were denied an impending victory by civilian policymakers, a liberal media, and antiwar protestors -- was still resonant among the officer corps in year six of the Iraq quagmire. It wasn't the military's fault!

Officers have long distributed professional reading lists for subordinates, intellectual guideposts to the complex challenges ahead. Indeed, there's much to be admired in the concept, but also potential dangers in such lists as they inevitably influence the thinking of an entire generation of future leaders. In the case of Vietnam, the perils are obvious. The generals have been assigning and reading problematic books for years, works that were essentially meant to reinforce professional pride in the midst of a series of unsuccessful and unending wars.

Just after 9/11, for instance, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers -- who spoke at my West Point graduation -- included Summers's On Strategy on his list. A few years later, then-Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker added McMaster's Dereliction of Duty . The trend continues today. Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller has kept McMaster and added Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger (he of the illegal bombing of both Laos and Cambodia and war criminal fame). Current Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley kept Kissinger and added good old Lewis Sorley. To top it all off, Secretary of Defense Mattis has included yet another Kissinger book and, in a different list , Krepinevich's The Army and Vietnam .

Just as important as which books made the lists is what's missing from them: none of these senior commanders include newer scholarship , novels , or journalistic accounts which might raise thorny, uncomfortable questions about whether the Vietnam War was winnable, necessary, or advisable, or incorporate local voices that might highlight the limits of American influence and power.

Serving in the Shadow of Vietnam

Most of the generals leading the war on terror just missed service in the Vietnam War. They graduated from various colleges or West Point in the years immediately following the withdrawal of most U.S. ground troops or thereafter: Petraeus in 1974 , future Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal in 1976 , and present National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in 1984 . Secretary of Defense Mattis finished ROTC and graduated from Central Washington University in 1971 , while Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly enlisted at the tail end of the Vietnam War, receiving his commission in 1976 .

In other words, the generation of officers now overseeing the still-spreading war on terror entered military service at the end of or after the tragic war in Southeast Asia. That meant they narrowly escaped combat duty in the bloodiest American conflict since World War II and so the professional credibility that went with it. They were mentored and taught by academy tactical officers, ROTC instructors, and commanders who had cut their teeth on that conflict. Vietnam literally dominated the discourse of their era -- and it's never ended.

Petraeus, Mattis, McMaster, and the others entered service when military prestige had reached a nadir or was just rebounding. And those reading lists taught the young officers where to lay the blame for that -- on civilians in Washington (or in the nation's streets) or on a military high command too weak to assert its authority effectively. They would serve in Vietnam's shadow, the shadow of defeat, and the conclusions they would draw from it would only lead to twenty-first-century disasters .

From Vietnam to the War on Terror to Generational War

All of this misremembering, all of those Vietnam "lessons" inform the U.S. military's ongoing "surges" and "advise-and-assist" approaches to its wars in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Representatives of both Vietnam revisionist schools now guide the development of the Trump administration's version of global strategy. President Trump's in-house Clausewitzians clamor for -- and receive -- ever more delegated authority to do their damnedest and what retired General (and Vietnam vet) Edward Meyer called for back in 1983: "a freer hand in waging war than they had in Vietnam." In other words, more bombs, more troops, and carte blanche to escalate such conflicts to their hearts' content.

Meanwhile, President Trump's hearts-and-minds faction consists of officers who have spent three administrations expanding COIN-influenced missions to approximately 70% of the world's nations. Furthermore, they've recently fought for and been granted a new "mini-surge" in Afghanistan intended to -- in disturbingly Vietnam-esque language -- "break the deadlock ," "reverse the decline," and "end the stalemate " there. Never mind that neither 100,000 U.S. troops (when I was there in 2011) nor 16 full years of combat could, in the term of the trade, "stabilize" Afghanistan. The can-do, revisionist believers atop the national security state have convinced Trump that -- despite his original instincts -- 4,000 or 5,000 (or 6,000 or 7,000) more troops (and yet more drones , planes , and other equipment) will do the trick. This represents tragedy bordering on farce.

The hearts and minders and Clausewitzians atop the military establishment since 9/11 are never likely to stop citing their versions of the Vietnam War as the key to victory today; that is, they will never stop focusing on a war that was always unwinnable and never worth fighting. None of today's acclaimed military personalities seems willing to consider that Washington couldn't have won in Vietnam because, as former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak (who flew 269 combat missions over that country) noted in the recent Ken Burns documentary series, "we were fighting on the wrong side."

Today's leaders don't even pretend that the post-9/11 wars will ever end. In an interview last June, Petraeus -- still considered a sagacious guru of the Defense establishment -- disturbingly described the Afghan conflict as " generational ." Eerily enough, to cite a Vietnam-era precedent, General Creighton Abrams predicted something similar. speaking to the White House as the war in Southeast Asia was winding down. Even as President Richard Nixon slowly withdrew U.S. forces, handing over their duties to the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) -- a process known then as "Vietnamization" -- the general warned that, despite ARVN improvements, continued U.S. support "would be required indefinitely to maintain an effective force." Vietnam, too, had its "generational" side (until, of course, it didn't).

It's not that our generals don't read. They do. They just doggedly continue to read the wrong books.

In 1986, General Petraeus ended his influential Parameters article with a quote from historian George Herring: "Each historical situation is unique and the use of analogy is at best misleading, at worst, dangerous." When it comes to Vietnam and a cohort of officers shaped in its shadow (and even now convinced it could have been won), "dangerous" hardly describes the results. They've helped bring us generational war and, for today's young soldiers, ceaseless tragedy.

Major Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular , is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his new podcast Fortress on a Hill .

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


The Alarmist , January 29, 2018 at 9:35 am GMT

The book that needs to be written is the one that explores the question, "Does this war need to be fought by us?"

The guys running the show now were mid-grade officers when I served in the '80s. They know we already were waging a war on terror, but it was a quiet one, e.g "low-intensity conflict," the kind that doesn't pump up budgets or put lots of ribbons and badges on the chests of more than a few of them, much less punch the ticket for promotion.

The problem here is one of governance: Civilians who should be reigning in and questioning the military leadership (including the senior civilian leadership at DoD and apparently State) when it wants to take us on yet another foreign adventure seem instead to be be captive to them, because the spoils of war accrue to their benefit via procurement in their districts.

Vietnam and the GWOT are merely symptoms of a bigger problem.

The Alarmist , January 29, 2018 at 1:24 pm GMT
@The Alarmist

BTW, re Vietnam: Vietnam went through its Communist phase, but in a rather short time came back to pseudo-capitalism, much like China, so aside from nearly 60k US troops and a few million Viets killed and 20 years of lost time, what did we gain from fighting there?

America tends to gain from commerce what it thinks it will get by warfare. Not so much the other way around.

Anon Disclaimer , January 29, 2018 at 1:33 pm GMT
Didn't US realize that it can win any war with bribes and trade?

Vietnam lost in the end. Its greedy corrupt elites are now puppets of US. They allow open prostitution in Ho Chi Minh city. They allow Vietnamese women to be a bunch of hookers again.

And Vietnam even has homo parades because it comes with more gibs and bribes.

US won. It just spread the money around.

Carlton Meyer , Website January 29, 2018 at 2:22 pm GMT
They established a myth that we almost won in Vietnam but the politicians wouldn't let us finish the job, claiming we never lost a battle in Vietnam. That is false, so I posted a list of 104 "Lost Battles of the Vietnam War" that squashed this myth.

http://www.g2mil.com/lost_vietnam.htm

Carlton Meyer , Website January 30, 2018 at 5:39 am GMT
The entire conflict can be understood in this two minute video clip:
Grandpa Charlie , January 30, 2018 at 6:39 am GMT
A great article by Sjursen, with major implications for what's happening now, and several excellent comments. Thank you.
dearieme , January 30, 2018 at 5:24 pm GMT
@The Alarmist

"America tends to gain from commerce what it thinks it will get by warfare. Not so much the other way around" Rather like 20th century Germany, don't you think?

Sandmich , January 30, 2018 at 8:21 pm GMT
@Carlton Meyer

Thanks for that link. I agree, whitewashing those tragedies is a grave disservice to our soldiers who had to fight in those conditions (how are we supposed to learn from our mistakes if we can't even come to terms with what we did wrong?).

Sean , January 30, 2018 at 9:54 pm GMT
No the JCS initially said SE Asia was strategically a backwater and not worth the concentrating of America's limited resources. But military high command were operating within longstanding army protocols of subordinating the military to civilian policymakers. It was the CIA's job to say whether the war could be won and they were always skeptical.

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/97unclass/vietnam.html

That skepticism was not what any politician wanted to hear so they listened to a civilian adviser.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/David-Milne-13964/americas-rasputin/

America's Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War makes clear who was responsible for pressing for escalation and bombing in Vietnam, who was the optimist, and who continued to insisted after it had finished that the war had stabilized a domino.

CK , January 30, 2018 at 9:55 pm GMT
If one's fundamental image of the world is as a place full of Quislings, McCains and assorted dual nationals; then it follows that one will be militarily a Coindinista. If only third world citizens were like American pols and stayed bought, but they aren't and they don't. If one's fundamental image is that it is a world full of nationalists, patriots and Churchills: then the bomb them back to non-existence; then it follows that one is a Summer's soldier.

Unfortunately, if one wishes to debate other nuanced alternatives to this dichotomy; the enemy gets to shoot first. A policeman walks a beat in his city because he is paid to do it, the "world's indispensable policeman" is unnecessary to the rest of the world but inevitable to himself.

George Taylor , January 31, 2018 at 12:49 am GMT
@The Alarmist

America tends to gain from commerce what it thinks it will get by warfare. Not so much the other way around.

Because we are here to help the Vietnamese because inside every go*k is an American trying to get out

anon Disclaimer , February 2, 2018 at 5:17 am GMT
The Vietnam war killed the draft. The draft is involuntary servitude, slavery in a sense. For ordinary Americans this was the only positive thing to come from the war.
WorkingClass , February 2, 2018 at 6:26 am GMT
Blah blah blah. That war was a cluster fuck and a crime against humanity. It's only purpose was to make a few rich men richer. The murder and destruction in the MENA is just more of the same.
Singh , February 3, 2018 at 4:43 pm GMT
It's also weird that the idea of Vietnam War as a missionary conflict is never discussed. The colonial Vietnam & later South Vietnam government gave preference to christians in governmental positions, bureaucracy & had a monopoly on education. The prevailing narrative in the west, is that somehow christianity is better & that people flock to it due to this, just like their ancestors did. Mosmaiorum.org/persecution_list.html

For example, the anti Buddhist discriminatory laws in Korea are never discussed, neither is the flooding of Japan with bibles post ww2. In the present age you have missionaries following closely behind the USA army & organizations like the US council on religious freedom being headed by missionaries sic. soul vultures.

From that pov, if white nationalists cannot control the predatory instincts of 'their' people nor disavow them by becoming Pagan; then, they deserve their fate & should expect no support from outsiders. As others have remarked, tariffs & protectionism help accrue capital as do socially conservative views. The pushing of free trade & social liberalism on 2nd/3rd world countries is akin to kicking the ladder. It's probably in everyone's interest for the Protestant west to collapse under Afro-Islamic demographic pressure so the great clean up can begin. Tldr yes state power leads to liberalism & liberal views but, if you view that as the legacy of your people, fuck your people.

EliteCommInc. , February 5, 2018 at 6:04 am GMT
Well Major,

we are deeply at odds. We did not lose the Vietnam conflict. I am confident that billions of dollars have been spent drilling that myth into the minds of well everyone. I remember being a young poli-sci student in KS. And as I listened to the lecture on Vietnam, did the reading my conclusion was so distant from his as to cause me no small amount of turmoil. The contention that we lost Vietnam is so counter to the data -- it makes the Twilight Zone look like Gilligan's Island, the twists on reality are directionless -- but conclude we lost, when nothing could be further from the truth.

I have another theory, the reason that Vietnam remains etched in the psyche is because the analysis was political as opposed to what actually occurred. This kind of hyperventilated self flagellating recriminations will distort truth. Perception over reality -- then becomes self fulling history.
_________________

But to the point. The US has lost two wars: The war of 1812 and in my view, the Iraq conflict -- no direct fault of those on the ground doing the fighting. And we may lose the Afghanistan gambit. It's a loss because it fell apart during our occupation. The guerrilla warfare (asymmetrics) was not the issues for that failure. The failure was in

1. unjustifiable cause
2. poor implementation
3. under resourced
4. an inability to maintain order among communities -- (1-3)
5. and just a lot of bad decisions

Trying compare Vietnam to Iraq is like trying compare a stone to water in similarity. You might be able to some generic references and very tiny specifics, but overall: the environment politically and strategically, just never mesh. We didn't invade Vietnam. They had a functioning government. There were clear lines of who was who based on borders (I am not ignoring the insurgency -- Vietcong, etc.

It was the cold war and unlike Iraq there were not six varying countries throwing a myriad of combatants into the fray with varying agendas and varying religious convictions. Even the physical environment demanded a different strategy, insurgents or no insurgents.

One has to plan for insurgent warfare as invading any country is bound to have those who get the best defense is one of stealth when your foe is as large a target as the US was in Iraq. But for all of the complaints about Counter-Insurgency the one that no one seems willing to state is the simplest. Don't invade countries for which there is no clean or clear motive to do so. It's that simple. There was never a need to invade Iraq, if anything we should have readjusted our dynamic and began a process of easing sanctions for their aide in countering terrorism.

There was no reason to invade Afghanistan -- even to distribute more bikinis and advance killing children in the womb. We wanted twenty guys and instead we stirred a hornet's nest . . . ok well, more than one.

Vietnam really was an act of selflessness, we wanted to shore up a small republic seeking a different course to communism. It bolstered our own ideas against the grand schema of the Soviet Union, rightly or wrongly. Now you are not the only one who has a gripe with counterinsurgency.

And I think it's a debate/discussion worth having, and while it may be useful to examine COIN as to Vietnam strategically -- I think it can be done minus the incorrect and yet incessant sack cloth and ashes built on mountains of liberal psychological faux trauma as if the trauma of war is somehow unique to Vietnam,. It is not. As you know war is a nasty filthy business, best left alone. But on occasion one gets pushed into a fight as did S. Vietnam and when that screw is turned -- well history is replete of the consequences, the waste, the blood, the brokenness . . . The tragedy of war does not mean one loses a war.

Kweli , February 5, 2018 at 6:17 am GMT
@Anon

How true! If only the US had recognized the power of man's baser instincts and did what the US does best -- continue selling its culture of consumerism and hedonism, Vietnam would have arrived at the point much sooner and with virtually no loss of life.

Thomm , February 5, 2018 at 7:32 am GMT
Ultimately, the victory of WW2 due to sheer weight of industrial productivity ramp and hence massive output of planes, tanks, submarines, etc. made defense a large part of the US economy. Since that time, too many entrenched interests just never want the military to downsize. Hence, the US has to keep invented new demand for a product that otherwise would not have such demand, but keeps some major entrenched interests powerful.

I mean, the Korean war started just 5 years after WW2 ended. They could barely wait for a new crop of boys to turn 18 and become cannon fodder. 50,000 in Korea right after the 300,000 in WW2.

When casualties became politically incorrect (after VietNam), the focus shifted towards lengthy 'nation building', that was not meant to succeed, but just to cost a lot for a long time. In theory, the Iraq War could have worked, IF the true objective was the installation of a moderate regime in Iraq, coupled with no extended US occupation. But that was not the true objective after all, so it did not work.

Greg Bacon , Website February 5, 2018 at 12:08 pm GMT
The BIGGEST lesson to come out of the illegal and immoral War against Vietnam is that the draft was impeding the MIC's effort to sell Americans on the idea of supporting endless war.

Get rid of the draft and there will be no protests hell raised back home by people of draft age–and their families and friends–who don't want to get drafted to fight wars so colonels can become generals; Wall Street can make a killing on the killing and so the Pentagon can try out its new 'gee-whiz' weapons in the field on actual people.

The next biggest lesson was that the media must be tamed and brought under control with embedding, so they'll push the Pentagon's and Wall Street message of duty, honor, Mom and apple pie onto gullible Americans, who now damn near get orgasmic when they see a multi-billion dollar killing machine–the B-2–fly over the upcoming gladiator battle in the newest billion dollar coliseum and go into the State-mandated 'Two Minutes Hate' whenever they see or hear the word Muslim or Islam.

For the record, I did my time in the US Army with the 82nd Airborne.

Wyatt Pendleton , Website February 5, 2018 at 12:49 pm GMT
So America worships Ares/Mars and doesn't expect the god of War to want to eat them too? There shall be wars and rumors of wars .I so look forward to watching this love of war spread itself from sea to shining sea.
n230099 , February 5, 2018 at 12:50 pm GMT
Until the young wise up and realize that the military operations in other countries have nothing to do with the freedoms we have here and that they're being used as fodder for the investments that the MIC has in the companies that make the tools of war, we will keep having this nonsense. The kids need to wise up. The government has at its disposal all it needs to 'win' if it wants to. But if you 'win' , the sales and manufacturing of the goodies is curtailed. They'd rather send the kids into the meat grinder all pumped up thinking they're 'preserving freedom' LOL!
augusto , Website February 5, 2018 at 1:25 pm GMT
@CK

Nice, thank U. I´d never before had figured out, never outlined such a precise conceptual sight of the two still remaining American mindsets on HOW to win.
Yes, cause for them Amerika must obviously must always win. So there are two viewpoints, that in plain clear English we citizens of the shitholin´ countries wherever -- express as follows:

augusto , Website February 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm GMT
@Singh

Yes, you say tariffs and proteccionism help accrue capital.

Have you got any objection against a large, populous but still poor country (like Nigeria, Indonesia, India or Brazil) sticking to higher (though not sky high) tariffs and protectionism to raise their production, their income and their living standards?

That was PRECISELY HOW the US, Uk, Germany and the Meiji era Japan, not to mention China from 1949 to Chu enLai) acted and because of it rose the heights of the present status and well being societies.

Yes, you naive repeater, let´s us first protect ourselves from the globalist wolves and THEN, we can sit down and talk but from a firm solid position, not the other way round. cut the frack! We southern people are fed up with that northern hemispheric sales talk – it ´s so convenient to you – but the web exists and times change.

another fred , February 5, 2018 at 2:18 pm GMT

It's not that our generals don't read. They do. They just doggedly continue to read the wrong books.

It's not just the generals. The whole idea of the state is to control the uncontrollable in order to continue "growing". That's why we conducted Vietnam as we did and why we conduct operations as we do all over the world. Rather than Total War that produces winners and losers we are trying to keep a lid on behavioral sinks and modify behavior so that economic "growth" can continue.

I am not advocating Total War, but I am predicting that horrible war is coming.

How many dead men will it take
To build a dike that will not break?

DESERT FOX , February 5, 2018 at 2:20 pm GMT
The Zionists have been the root cause of every war that America has been in since WWI and right on through the wars in the Mideast and the wars in the Mideast were perpetrated by the Israeli and Zionist controlled deep state attack on 911.

America is under Zionist control and if anyone doubts this, just remember Israel did the attack on 911 and got away with and every thinking American knows that Zionist Israel did the attack which killed 3000 Americans, that is control.

Don Bacon , Website February 5, 2018 at 2:41 pm GMT
. . .supporting a South Vietnamese government of questionable legitimacy

Actually the US created the "Republic of Vietnam" within Vietnam, which was rather unusual, and then fought Vietnam. The US grabbed a Christian out of a New Jersey seminary (Ngo Dinh Diem) to run the Buddhist "country," that didn't help. More recently the US has overthrown governments (Iraq and Afghanistan) and then fought the natives. Whatever, it doesn't work. The citizens (AKA dissidents, insurgents, terrorists, etc.) so effected don't want US troops in their countries, and who can blame them.

Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 2:41 pm GMT
Why do credulous Americans read anti-war books written by war criminals? Only brainwashed people support the troops. Most Americans hated soldiers after Vietnam. They had seen soldiers raping wives and daughters, burning houses and huts and crops and wiping out entire villages. They knew that men who agree to kill for a paycheck do other bad things like raping and looting and then writing books about it later.

The cons put a stop to all those "incorrect" ideas American slaves had developed by ramping up the propaganda in the 1980s. Movies kicked in and "learned" the zombies about the wonderfulness of war and killing and how American soldiers kill with love in their hearts and the tragedy of the boy baby killers left behind – probably by "communists in the US Government."

jacques sheete , February 5, 2018 at 3:01 pm GMT

The United States really had no business intervening

That's a, maybe "the," key concept. The US has always had enough internal problems of its own to deal with and it should always have tended to its own interest first. Damned know-it-all, brainless busybodies!

jacques sheete , February 5, 2018 at 3:08 pm GMT
@n230099

The kids need to wise up.

I suspect most of them would wise up if their elders did so first, and would teach 'em. One of the most annoying sights to me is to see some ancient fart wearing some sign that he's a vet. Even though I was once a sucker too, I always make it a point to remind them that we had no business in whatever war they happen to be glorifying and still wallowing in. How old does one have to be to get a clue?

Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 3:31 pm GMT
Nothing quite says freedom like heavily armed soldiers on the streets demanding papers. Soon the US will have the same situation, with the "freedom loving" Americans willingly surrendering all their freedoms for "safety." Today the US government spies on everyone's communications, conducts over 80,000 SWAT raids a year, locks over 2 million people in actual slavery, and lets the cops execute people on the street. Nothing quite says Freedom when cops can execute poor people without any repercussions. Nothing quite says Freedom when opiate casualties in one year exceed the American total in Vietnam. Nothing quite says zombie when Americans can't see the war that is being waged on them right now.
Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 3:59 pm GMT
@Greg Bacon

Is that true? The Military simply harvested the poors out of the hills, the South and other rural areas the same way they would have drafted 'em. All the kids respond once the Government offers them a way out of potential starvation and hopeless poverty. That's just a better way to draft people, although they won't call it that.

Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 4:07 pm GMT
The same generals who let 911 happen and started the Iraq war still run the show. All of them should have faced a firing squad for that, but instead, the grossly incompetent General Kelly runs the White House and the grossly incompetent Mattis runs the military.
Jake , February 5, 2018 at 4:08 pm GMT
"The danger presented by either school is clear enough in the twenty-first century."

Apparently it is not close to clear. The warhawk imperialists – some of them Clausewtizians and most COINdinistas – rule everything. No matter how many lives are lost, no matter how much money is wasted, they demand we remain on the same path of playing world hegemon. George Washington fought the British Empire for our freedom, so our subsequent leaders, starting most importantly with Lincoln, could remake the country into the British Empire 2.0.

Jake , February 5, 2018 at 4:20 pm GMT
@George Taylor

"Because we are here to help the Vietnamese because inside every go*k is an American trying to get out." Replace 'Vietnamese' with 'Middle Easterners' and 'gook' with 'Arab' or 'Moslem,' and you have the Neocon position. Replace 'Vietnamese' with 'the world' and replace 'gook' with 'dark skinned non-Christian' and place the word "liberal' before 'American,' and you have the Liberal/Leftist position.

anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 4:25 pm GMT
As a youth during that time it seemed like a strange idea that they were pushing. How could Vietnamese be invading Vietnam? They already live there. The Americans had to travel thousands of miles to prevent this. Years later I realize my youthful intuition was right; Vietnamese can't invade Vietnam. This North-South dichotomy was just a made up propaganda tool. The South was an artificial concoction set up by the West to divide someone else's country. This question of how could we have won is absurd nonsense. What would 'winning' have looked like? The South would just have been a multi-billion millstone around our neck.
skrik , February 5, 2018 at 4:42 pm GMT

The can-do, revisionist believers atop the national security state have convinced Trump that -- despite his original instincts -- 4,000 or 5,000 (or 6,000 or 7,000) more troops (and yet more drones, planes, and other equipment) will do the trick. This represents tragedy bordering on farce.

No; it's psychotic, psychopathic mayhem and mass-murder. Lemma: At any crime-scene, there are one or more perpetrators, possibly accessories, apologists and/or 'idle' bystanders. It is incumbent upon *all* witnesses to attempt to a) restrain malefactors and where possible b) rescue victims from harm. *All* present and not in active resistance to the crime attract proportional guilt. Addendum: Any person profiting from crime also makes him/herself an accessory, like all residents in the 'illegitimate entity' and/or the puppet executives, manufacturers of the means and their enablers = the whole MIC[*] plus all their dependents, say.

[*] The US rogue regime = US-M/I/C/4a†-plex, with dog-wagging-tail, its illegitimate sprog the Zionist/Israeli rogue regime + Js = I/J/Z-plex, all components rife with corruption.

a = academic = econ, psy, leg et al.; 4 = MSM+PFBCs, † = churches

add a few significant stragglers like $ = banksters & ¿ = spies

=====

It's a lot, and here I point for emphasis to all the citizens of the two named entities; silence is acquiescence. Take a look at the result, not 'just' in Afghanistan but Libya, Syria etc., the WC7in5 [fortunately not yet Iran]; wherever the US/Zs deploy their 'hammers.'

In the fewest words: The US/Zs including their 'ordinary people' are all true monsters, with the only exception being the actively objecting few.

Not so BTW, from the above [but not only] I conclude that there can be no 'god' – for surely, any such would strike all the US/Z villains down.

Again a 'special case' for emphasis, the intellectuals and academics who really should know better but where again, silence is acquiescence.

*Guilty, your honour; may they all hang by the neck until dead!* rgds

Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 4:44 pm GMT
American sheep can't see war even though they are in one. What better weapon than to have a group of writers spreading disinformation and colorful propaganda that revolves around discrediting the other propaganda with falsehoods and romanticization of the war that came before. Let's have yet another debate about the thing that happened half a century ago because driving the flock in circles gets them no where closer to resistance.

Meanwhile the real war. If the financial crisis wasn't a terrorist attack because the press never told you, what will you believe? If more men and women die in one year because of opiates than in the entire Vietnam effort, will the real owners tell you in their newspapers that they do it because they want to win?

Alden , February 5, 2018 at 5:08 pm GMT
@n230099

I think the kids are more pumped up with college tuition, VA health , a chance to learn a civilian applicable skill , citizenship and something to do other than competing with illegal Indios for low wages.

nsa , February 5, 2018 at 6:19 pm GMT
@EliteCommInc.

Save the BS for your fellow geezer drunks at the VFW lounge. Vietnam featured a complete collapse of the conscripted US military, rampant drug use, fragging, insubordination, faked injuries, disintegration of the chain of command, mass murder of civilians, and finally TOTAL DEFEAT after turning tail and running following the negotiation of a charitable "decent interval" allowing the yanks to save some face. Pathetic.

anarchyst , February 5, 2018 at 6:36 pm GMT
@EliteCommInc.

The Vietnam war was not a "civil-war" but was an INVASION by the North Vietnamese communists, who were not amenable to letting people decide for themselves what political system they chose to live under. They wanted "the whole pie". The South Vietnamese and American military fought courageously, with one hand tied behind their backs, as they were not permitted to attack the supply lines, logistics and staging areas of the North Vietnamese communists. The American news media played a large part in the sympathetic attitudes they had towards the communists, taking every chance to denigrate American and South Vietnamese troops, a prime example was communist sympathizer Walter Cronkite reporting that the 1968 "Tet offensive" was a "major loss" for Americans and south Vietnamese, despite it being a total slaughter of North Vietnamese communists and the Viet Cong. In fact, the Viet Cong operating in the South were almost all totally decimated.

Yes, the final result of the Vietnam war was communist control, BUT, it was not due to the efforts of South Vietnamese and American troops. The Vietnamese "boat people" who risked life and limb to escape that communist "paradise" have a totally different story to tell, but which had been rarely reported. Ken Burns is a communist sympathizer whose "documentary" on the Vietnam war was so one-sided, even the communists admitted that his whole premise on the Vietnam war was one-sided and false. Communist sympathizer Ken Burns inadvertently "let it slip" that "re-education" by the communists was not a "six month deal" (as he claimed) in which those in positions of power in South Vietnam would be "re-educated", but were actually prisons, in which "enemies of the (communist) state were to be interned for as long as 20 years. It is interesting to note that the communists could not exert the same harsh level of control as was the case in the North, to the people in the South.

Norcal , February 5, 2018 at 7:41 pm GMT
@Carlton Meyer

So much for The Domino Theory". This clip from "The Fog Of War". Thanks

EliteCommInc. , February 5, 2018 at 8:19 pm GMT
@anarchyst

Apparently unfamiliar with my long and detailed discussions here and at TAC about the Vietnam War. I don't think you will find a single suggestion in mt two or more years of discussion on Vietnam , that it was a civil war -- it was not. In every way, the North Vietnamese were the aggressors. And if anyone looking at the political issues and objectives of what happened in Vietnam – those who protested got nearly every aspect about Vietnam wrong, nearly every contention they make was predicated on the incorrect information, except one.

war is a nasty filthy affair in which a lot hoes wrong – because that is part and parcel to the nature of war so many moving pieces on so many potential unpredictable planes. The entire enterprise is best avoided, but sometimes as in the case of S. Vietnam, you are left little choice but to defend yourself. Boys and girls afraid to fight screaming "Give peace a chance" at the defenders like pushing a drowning men under the waves and telling him all he need do is swim.

You are preaching to the choir and the preacher.

I am going to avoid rehashing the conflict, I think the data sets are on my side in tons. But I think the authors intentions are to really dismantle the cadre and their advocacy of COIN. Given that the current President has reneged on his campaign agenda to avoid needless wars violating the territory of others to regime change. The issue of counter insurgency is relevant. Because it looks like we are in for more than we bargained for. No doubt, SAS, the French Legionaries, CIA and a spec ops contingents are pre-prepping for insurgencies of our own.

A brief look suggests that the only effective response to counter insurgency is intelligence and brutal response. though intended to suggest finesse, in the end -- it's root them out and destroy them. I think this is one those the cure is worse than the illness, because without indigenous support for your political and strategic goals in country -- brutal reprisals eventually reignite acts of terror as a means of self defense.

EliteCommInc. , February 5, 2018 at 8:31 pm GMT
For those who are not familiar with COIN here are some articles, those from TAC include lengthy discussions which you may find interesting. http://ready4itall.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Counterinsurgency-Warfare-Theory-and-Practice.pdf https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG595.pdf https://www.fs.blog/2017/06/counterinsurgency/ http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/coin-is-a-proven-failure/ https://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/counterinsurgency/ http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/revenge-of-the-coin-doctrine/ http://www.theamericanconservative.com/2012/06/15/the-cnas-annual-confab-aloof-and-irrelevant-as-ever/ http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/savior-general-petraeus-gave-us-the-wrong-bible/ http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/petraeuss-coin-gets-flipped/
bluedog , February 5, 2018 at 8:51 pm GMT
@anarchyst

What are you a troll playing the same old broken record spewing forth the same old line, for there was a vote coming up by the Geneva Accord, to decide just what kind of government the two Vietnam's wanted, a vote that would'nt go the way we wanted thus the false flag to get us involved.

FDR had made a deal with Ho that if they would rise up and drive out the Japs that Vietnam could choose their own destiny, colonialism was dead he said, well until that little man in the to big a house got into office and then once again America's word wasn't worth a mouth full of warm spit and its never changed

EliteCommInc. , February 5, 2018 at 8:56 pm GMT
A thorough review and discussion about Mr. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick film concerning our defense of South Vietnam. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-best-way-to-honor-a-vet-is-with-the-truth/
Auntie Analogue , February 5, 2018 at 9:04 pm GMT
Today's officer corps would spare us all a great deal of cost, blood and grief and we Americans would all do much better if the cadets', midshipmen's, officer candidates' and officer corps' reading list began with the Bernard Fall book Rue Sans Joie .
Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 9:10 pm GMT
@EliteCommInc.

Rand? American Conservative? Tom's Dispatch? All fake news for the sheep, i.e COIN. If people want change, they have to refuse to cooperate. That means no voting. Voting means you agree with the basic trends and just want to tweak the system. All of us have gotten cheated by the Government all of our lives. Destruction of schools so people can't learn. Wars fought to make countries like Vietnam open to big corporations to move American jobs there. Corporate money backed by the fist of the Marines has worked all their lives, all their parents' lives, and all the modern history of America. "Why not now?", the sheep ask.

wayfarer , February 5, 2018 at 10:48 pm GMT

Vietnam War U.S. Military Fatal Casualty Statistics

source: https://www.archives.gov/research/military/vietnam-war/casualty-statistics

nsa , February 5, 2018 at 11:22 pm GMT
The religious aspect of the Vietnamese CIVIL WAR is overlooked by the senile VFW geezers posting here. The patriots were mostly Buddhists the quislings were mostly Catholics (inherited from the French). In between perving little kids, American Cardinals and Bishops demanded even more war and Vietnamese blood. The bloodthirsty homo, Cardinal Spellman, would even visit the troops in person and exhort them to create more carnage and mayhem. According to Bobbie McNamara, American efforts resulted in the murder of over 4 million Vietnamese and the maiming of millions of others .MOSTLY CIVILIANS. The role of the vile bloodthirsty Homo Cult of the Seven Hills has been mostly overlooked.
ElitecommInc. , February 5, 2018 at 11:52 pm GMT
@Anonymous

Note, I list of sites is not definitive. There are articles critical and article supportive of COIN. Some articles are just descriptive of what COIN means. COIN has been a subject of a good deal of debate for a very long time. Most articles are from TAC because that is the site I most frequently read and comment. And as Dr. Unz will tell you, they invite a host of articles by a host of authors -- with varying view points.

About Rand, they are one of the most noteable contributors to government policy via research and while one may not appreciate their advocacy, it's not a bad idea to read what they are presenting on issues, in this case COIN. Even considering broad definitions of fake news -- it is unlikely that Rand would be included as such an outlet.

One of the advances launched in the late sixties -- forward was that Vietnam was a MIC windfall and in fact manufactured by the MIC.

I don't think there is much evidence of that. Pres Johnson and most of the leadership actually saw it as a case for democracy against the Chinese, the Soviets -- etc. You are not going to be able to escape the private sector profiting from war. Sure had democracy and capitalism actually won the day , I don't think there is any question money would have been made -- capitalism is a very healthy system -- if operated minus manipulation/unfair dealings. But that is not unique. One does business where business is. but cold war strategic aims made money for lots of people -- that doesn't deny that there was actually a system of proxy engagements for democracy and communism.

ElitecommInc. , February 6, 2018 at 12:29 am GMT
@nsa

I am not a member of the VFW. I don't drink and have never been drunk. There was drug use how prevalent it was is unclear. not enough to prevent mission readiness, it appears.

A lot has been made of fragging, but if you can find the numbers -- The evidence is very sparse that this practice was anywhere close to a staple. Here's an estimate 800 such incidents attempted. But given that there are only about 13 confirms that estimations is suspect. Some 3 million service members service in Vietnam that's a percentage of 0.026666666666% attempted. The actual number of men who died as the result of fragging 0.0005% and i used the highest number of fifteen actuals.

There were tragic incidents of mass killings, but those two were rare. The next series of complaints are hard to quantify -- but suffice it to say, whatever the complaints -- when push came to shove the US service member repeatedly got the job done. And contrary to your comments, the process of the US withdrawal is well documented. More than anything, they secured a line of defense, and the situation at home was the most pressing. There is no evidence that the US ran from the battle field.

OI think the evidence is clear that we should maintained support via air and sea power to ensure the victory was maintained on behalf of the S. Vietnamese who fought and died to defend their country. kudos to the Aussie's for their loyal support.

Carroll Price , February 6, 2018 at 1:12 am GMT
If the war mongers had had an all-volunteer army like the one they have today, they could have and would have kept the Vietnam War going indefinitely. But, since they didn't, draftees and their parents wised-up to the Pentagon's money-making scam and put a stop to it by refusing to participate.
Art , February 6, 2018 at 1:18 am GMT
Westmoreland and McNamara are awaiting Kissinger in hell. Think Peace -- Art
p.s. Every US general supports Israel – how sick is that?
Carroll Price , February 6, 2018 at 1:26 am GMT
@Thomm

Money's made fighting wars not winning them. 1945 was the last time the US made the mistake of winning a war, and may not have made that one had Russia not been on the verge of invading and occupying Japan, thus forcing the US into bringing the war to a close.

Anonymous Disclaimer , February 6, 2018 at 1:53 am GMT
@ElitecommInc.

Very rich families and corporatists started their own think tanks after World War II. This is when the looting began for RAND. These are the bastards Eisenhower was afraid of. Abe Lincoln feared the large corporations born of business profiteering during the U.S. Civil War -- the military industrial complex of the day -- easily constituted the greatest threat to the American republic.

Remember that Eisenhower's definition of the complex included among the bastards, not only the military defense industry corporations, but also right alongside them the news media and the university and private research establishments.

Tom Jefferson thought periodic revolution against wealth and authority was desirable to keep these bastards in check. Which implies that he figured they would inevitably get us by the throat down on the floor from time to time.

EliteCommInc. , February 6, 2018 at 2:11 am GMT
Sounds like a good reason to know what they are advocating. And Pres Eisenhower was talking about --

raytheon
GD/EB
Hughes
etc, ect

Here's a list of the MIC many were not around during the Eisenhower years -- but Rand was but a single player among many.

https://www.militaryindustrialcomplex.com/companies.asp

JVC , February 6, 2018 at 2:20 am GMT
@EliteCommInc.

I don't think that you understand at all the history of the USG involvement in VietNam–an act of selflessness??? What a crock.

The entire foreign policy of the united states has been controlled by the military/industrial/security/espionage etc etc complex since, at least, the end of WWII. that group doesn't really care about victory–on going conflict somewhere is the only goal. Personally, I doubt that the USG has ever committed a selfless act in it's entire history. VietNam was just one stop in a long line of USG aggression.

EnriiqueCardovaa , February 6, 2018 at 3:01 am GMT
Danny Sjursen says:

Of course, the U.S. military and Washington policymakers lost the war in Vietnam in the previous century and perhaps it's well that they did.

LOL.. True enough. Yet an assortment of "Church of Rambo" true believers in civilian life, including several here on Unz, continue to insist that that the US never lost the war, hell, never even lost a battle -- claims all debunked by credible historians and military men who fought there.

the vast majority of senior American military officers do not. Instead, they're still refighting the Vietnam War to a far cheerier outcome through the books they read, the scholarship they publish, and (most disturbingly) the policies they continue to pursue in the Greater Middle East.

The weakness of the piece is that you don't say exactly which Vietnam approach today's generals are following. Are they doing the "big battalions" approach of Westmoreland's "search and destroy"? Are they doing the "Expanding Inkblot" of Marine General Krulak, Sorley's "Better war", or John Paul Vann's "Hearts and Minds"?? You say these are all things from Vietnam but exactly which one is in place, and why is it losing?

jacques sheete , February 6, 2018 at 3:02 am GMT
@WorkingClass

Blah blah blah. That war was a cluster fuck and a crime against humanity. It's only purpose was to make a few rich men richer. The murder and destruction in the MENA is just more of the same.

Amen to that.

EnriiqueCardovaa , February 6, 2018 at 3:09 am GMT
Danny Sjursen says:

Two decades later, when the next Vietnam-like quagmire did indeed present itself in Iraq, he and a whole generation of COINdinistas (like-minded officers devoted to his favored counterinsurgency approach to modern warfare) embraced those very conclusions to win the war on terror.

Again questionable. Petraeus had the correct approach to counter the previous "lets just invade and beat Saddam" approach of Rumsfeld. Rummy's "lean force" package backed by almost unlimited air power was enough to win the conventional struggle but was woefully short of the numbers needed for occupation and pacification. Same thing happened to Hitler in the Balkans. Initial smooth success, grinding guerrilla attrition for years afterward.

Both schools, however, agreed on something basic: that the U.S. military should have won in Vietnam.

"Winning" by 1972 did not contemplate victorious US troops marching into Hanoi, or total abandonment of the field by PAVN/VC but a better final political settlement enabling the southern regime to survive, and/or a "decent interval" for the US to save face.

n 1999, retired army officer and Vietnam veteran Lewis Sorley penned the definitive hearts-and-minds tract, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam. Sorley boldly asserted that, by the spring of 1970, "the fighting wasn't over, but the war was won." According to his comforting tale, the real explanation for failure lay with the "big-war" strategy of U.S. commander General William Westmoreland. The counterinsurgency strategy of his successor, General Creighton Abrams -- Sorley's knight in shining armor -- was (or at least should have been) a war winner.

You are misrepresenting Sorley's full argument somewhat. Sorley did not envision or claim that there would have been any sweeping US victory with US troops marching into Hanoi, or that the VC/NVA would flee and abandon the struggle. A big part of his argument is for "a better war" – that is- the end game of which inevitably would be a BETTER NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT. Sorley knew quite well that the VC would not disappear (their political apparatus was still in place) and that the NVA would not simply pack up and return north. Sorley's book "A Better War" contemplates a BETTER FINAL POLITICAL SETTLEMENT as part of the bottom line, not US troops marching triumphantly into downtown Hanoi, as PAVN armies scurried away into the jungle.

EnriiqueCardovaa , February 6, 2018 at 3:15 am GMT
To his disappointment, Daddis also discovered that the only Vietnam War book included was Sorley's A Better War. This should have surprised no one, since his argument – that American soldiers in Vietnam were denied an impending victory by civilian policymakers, a liberal media, and antiwar protestors – was still resonant among the officer corps in year six of the Iraq quagmire. It wasn't the military's fault!

Keep in mind that Daddis wrote a book on the Vietnam War called 'No Sure Victory' in which he pins US failure on not being versed ENOUGH on hearts and minds counterinsurgency war, hence the reliance on massive and unworkable statistical and reporting systems of "progress."

"The army's unpreparedness for counterinsurgency in the early 1960s surely encouraged this confusion. Conventional officers had little experience in developing a counterinsurgency reporting system and applying it within a larger strategic context.. So it was for the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Insufficiently versed in the mysteries of counterinsurgency, officers turned to statistics to assist them in measuring and reporting progress and effectiveness. Statistics, though, bred more statistics, and the MACV headquarters soon became awash in a flood of numbers, facts, and figures."
–Daddis, No Sure Victory

but also potential dangers in such lists as they inevitably influence the thinking of an entire generation of future leaders. In the case of Vietnam, the perils are obvious. The generals have been assigning and reading problematic books for years, works that were essentially meant to reinforce professional pride in the midst of a series of unsuccessful and unending wars.

You are barking up the wrong tree somewhat. Daddis laments reading list limitations as far as Iraq, but the reading list did not make any difference given 3 issues:

(a) the decision to go to war in Iraq, when it was not necessary

(b) the woefully inadequate number of troops provided the commanders for conquest and occupation and

(c) the cavalier, careless nature of planning for postwar Iraq.

What was or was not on the reading list is of limited impact given these 3 big realities the civilian leadership saddled commanders with.

[Feb 05, 2018] EU Imposes Anti-Union Law On Greece

Feb 05, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Posted by: nottheonly1 | Feb 4, 2018 3:53:08 PM | 17

Speaking about Europe and the advancement of neo-liberal policies by the hands of unelected officials, this news is not boding well:

EU Imposes Anti-Union Law On Greece

The question is, how much longer will European workers remain peaceful dissenters to 'laws' that resemble the prohibition of Unions in NS-Germany? A number of member states are threatening their own exit from the EU, although for entirely different reasons. But more "Exit"-Nations will weaken neo-liberal EU to the much desirable breaking point.

As it stands, EU/NATO policies are the biggest threat to European citizens.

[Jan 30, 2018] The Unseen Wars of America the Empire The American Conservative

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Like the Romans, we have become an empire, committed to fighting for scores of nations, with troops on every continent and forces in combat operations of which the American people are only vaguely aware. "I didn't know there were 1,000 troops in Niger," said Senator Lindsey Graham when four Green Berets were killed there. "We don't know exactly where we're at in the world, militarily, and what we're doing." ..."
"... Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, ..."
"... . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com. ..."
Jan 30, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Unseen Wars of America the Empire By Patrick J. Buchanan January 30, 2018, 12:01 AM

Forward Operating Base Torkham, in Nangahar Province, Afghanistan (army.mil) If Turkey is not bluffing, U.S. troops in Manbij, Syria, could be under fire by week's end, and NATO engulfed in the worst crisis in its history.

Turkish President Erdogan said Friday his forces will cleanse Manbij of Kurdish fighters, alongside whom U.S. troops are embedded.

Erdogan's foreign minister demanded concrete steps by the United States to end its support of the Kurds, who control the Syrian border with Turkey east of the Euphrates all the way to Iraq.

If the Turks attack Manbij, America will face a choice: stand by our Kurdish allies and resist the Turks, or abandon the Kurds.

Should the U.S. let the Turks drive the Kurds out of Manbij and the entire Syrian border area, as Erdogan threatens, American credibility would suffer a blow from which it would not soon recover.

But to stand with the Kurds and oppose Erdogan's forces could mean a crackup of NATO and a loss of U.S. bases inside Turkey, including the air base at Incirlik.

Turkey also sits astride the Dardanelles entrance to the Black Sea. NATO's loss would thus be a triumph for Vladimir Putin, who gave Ankara the green light to cleanse the Kurds from Afrin.

Yet Syria is but one of many challenges facing U.S. foreign policy.

The Winter Olympics in South Korea may have taken the menace of a North Korean ICBM out of the news, but no one believes that threat is behind us.

Last week, China charged that the USS Hopper, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, a reef in the South China Sea claimed by Beijing, though it is far closer to Luzon in the Philippines. The destroyer, says China, was chased off by one of her frigates. If we continue to contest China's territorial claims with our warships, a clash is inevitable.

In a similar incident Monday, a Russian military jet came within five feet of a U.S. Navy EP-3 Orion surveillance jet in international airspace over the Black Sea, forcing the Navy plane to end its mission.

U.S. relations with Cold War ally Pakistan are at rock bottom. In his first tweet of 2018, President Trump charged Pakistan with being a false friend.

"The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools," Trump declared. "They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

As for America's longest war in Afghanistan, now in its 17th year, the end is nowhere on the horizon. A week ago, the International Hotel in Kabul was attacked and held for 13 hours by Taliban gunmen who killed 40. Midweek, a Save the Children facility in Jalalabad was attacked by ISIS, creating panic among aid workers across the country.

Saturday, an ambulance exploded in Kabul, killing 103 people and wounding 235. Monday, Islamic State militants attacked Afghan soldiers guarding a military academy in Kabul. With the fighting season two months off, U.S. troops will not soon be departing. If Pakistan is indeed providing sanctuary for the terrorists of the Haqqani network, how does this war end successfully for the United States? Last week, in a friendly fire incident, the U.S.-led coalition killed 10 Iraqi soldiers. The Iraq war began 15 years ago.

Yet another war, where the humanitarian crisis rivals Syria, continues on the Arabian Peninsula. There, a Saudi air, sea, and land blockade that threatens the Yemeni people with starvation has failed to dislodge Houthi rebels who seized the capital Sanaa three years ago. This weekend brought news that secessionist rebels, backed by the United Arab Emirates, seized power in Yemen's southern port of Aden from the Saudi-backed Hadi regime fighting the Houthis. These rebels seek to split the country, as it was before 1990.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE appear to be backing different horses in this tribal-civil-sectarian war into which America has been drawn. There are other wars -- Somalia, Libya, Ukraine -- where the U.S. is taking sides, sending arms, training troops, flying missions.

Like the Romans, we have become an empire, committed to fighting for scores of nations, with troops on every continent and forces in combat operations of which the American people are only vaguely aware. "I didn't know there were 1,000 troops in Niger," said Senator Lindsey Graham when four Green Berets were killed there. "We don't know exactly where we're at in the world, militarily, and what we're doing."

No, we don't, Senator. As in all empires, power is passing to the generals. And what causes the greatest angst today in the imperial city? Fear that a four-page memo worked up in the House Judiciary Committee may discredit Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia-gate.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

[Jan 29, 2018] Yi it Bulut "I am sorry for the Greeks. They have been left with nothing." Defend Democracy Press

Notable quotes:
"... The plundering of Greece is so huge that the Greek people don't realize it. Tsipras doesn't wear a tie. He was going to stop imperialism. But Tsipras works for them. Do you remember? There was a finance minister who rode around on a motorcycle. An academic. They got rid of him. I mentioned that on this programme in the past. They will sack that Greek finance minister and then Greece will sign the agreement with the INF. I said it. When they had got rid of the finance minister they brought an Englishman and the Englishman became a minister of the Greek government and they signed. We said that on our programme here before it happened. ..."
"... The imperialist model hasn't changed. Countries get into debt. They sink into crisis. The property of the people is transferred and after that they simply change the government. The same thing happened in Turkey in 2001. They sent Kemal Derviş to Turkey to put things in order for the imperialists. They appointed him Roman governor in Turkey. But fortunately Devlet Bahçeli was found to spoil their game for them," ..."
"... Erdoğan's advisor stated, and continued: "I feel sorry for the Greeks. They ..."
Jan 29, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press

Yiğit Bulut: "I am sorry for the Greeks. They have been left with nothing." 13/11/2017

Greece will be in a "non-functional condition" until 2020, predicts the advisor to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Yiğit Bulut, who characterizes the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as a "tool of the imperialists".

Speaking on the state television programme "Deep Analysis" he gave the example of Greece to show the consequences of imperialism for global political developments.

"They sold off everything. The banks have passed into the hands of the Germans. They have been left with nothing. People in Greece wait for products from Germany and Italy. There is a film about 300 Spartans who fall heroically in battle. Those 300 of Leonidas should come back to Greece now, because nothing has remained standing.

The plundering of Greece is so huge that the Greek people don't realize it. Tsipras doesn't wear a tie. He was going to stop imperialism. But Tsipras works for them. Do you remember? There was a finance minister who rode around on a motorcycle. An academic. They got rid of him. I mentioned that on this programme in the past. They will sack that Greek finance minister and then Greece will sign the agreement with the INF. I said it. When they had got rid of the finance minister they brought an Englishman and the Englishman became a minister of the Greek government and they signed. We said that on our programme here before it happened.

The imperialist model hasn't changed. Countries get into debt. They sink into crisis. The property of the people is transferred and after that they simply change the government. The same thing happened in Turkey in 2001. They sent Kemal Derviş to Turkey to put things in order for the imperialists. They appointed him Roman governor in Turkey. But fortunately Devlet Bahçeli was found to spoil their game for them," Erdoğan's advisor stated, and continued: "I feel sorry for the Greeks. They are victims of imperialism."

The above declaration by the Turkish official was made to the Turkish state television. It was translated for DDP from the Greek sites that reproduced it, under the headline "Erdogan's advisor makes provocative declarations".

Read also: Prepare for the Trade Wars

Turkey still occupies a large part of Cyprus after having invaded the island in 1974 and expelled more than 200,000 Greeks from their homes. It has territorial claims on Greek Aegean islands and deploys the world's largest fleet of landing craft some miles from them. The Turkish National Assembly has voted a resolution threatening Greece with war in the event of use by Athens of its right to expand Greek territorial waters to 12 miles. It is only natural that Greeks do not much appreciate a Turkish official speaking of their country in this way. It is indeed a "provocation" from the point of view of rules of diplomatic behavior, given that Mr. Erdogan is preparing his visit to Greece.

Of course Greeks know only too well that the description of the Turkish official is quite close to the truth. It is probable that the advisor of the Turkish President does not so much have the intention of provoking Greeks as influencing Turkish politics by showing his public opinion what happens to a country that surrenders to "Western Imperialism".

There is a deep irony to Turkey depicting, as it does here, the EU, Germany, the Eurozone, NATO and big finance destroying a member-state of the EU, and using this argument rhetorically!

D.K.

Also read Dijsselbloem Speaks: The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

[Jan 28, 2018] Cought in geopolitical war Ukraine became a pawn in bigger games

Jan 28, 2018 | www.unz.com

Remember how the USA ignited the Ukraine to punish the Russians for their thwarting of the planned US attack on Syria? Well, the very same Ukraine has recently passed a law abolishing the "anti-terrorist operation" in the Donbass and declaring the Donbass "occupied territory". Under Ukie law, Russia is now officially an "aggressor state". This means that the Ukronazis have now basically rejected the Minsk Agreements and are in a quasi-open state of war with Russia. The chances of a full-scale Ukronazi attack on the Donbass are now even higher then before, especially before or during the soccer World Cup in Moscow this summer (remember Saakashvili?). Having been ridiculed (again) with their Border Security Force in Syria, the US Americans will now seek a place to take revenge on the evil Russkies and this place will most likely be the Ukraine. And we can always count the Israelis to find a pretext to continue to murder Palestinians and bomb Syria. As for the Saudis, they appear to be temporarily busy fighting each other. So unless the Empire does something really crazy, the only place it can lash out with little to lose (for itself) is the eastern Ukraine. The Novorussians understand that. May God help them.


Paranam Kid , January 26, 2018 at 5:58 am GMT

Saker, interesting analysis. 1 tiny point of criticism:

Remember how the USA ignited the Ukraine to punish the Russians for their thwarting of the planned US attack on Syria?

If I am not mistaken the CIA fomented "Orange revolution" in Ukraine was in 2014, whereas Russia stepped into the Syrian war in 2015. So in the quoted sentence, it seems you got the sequence of events back to front.

bliss_porsena , January 28, 2018 at 10:14 am GMT
Ha-ha! Goddam Russkies scorched the Amero-ISIS arse and now Russo-Turks are gaslighting the Kurds and their ten 'Murican lilypads. It's time for a diversionary Great Patriotic Ukrainian War, just as soon as Porko sobers up.
Seamus Padraig , January 28, 2018 at 11:53 am GMT
@Biff

You're both wrong. The Orange Revolution occurred in 2005: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Revolution

What occurred in 2014 was the Maidan psy-op. As far as I recall, the only thing significant that happened in Ukraine in 2010 was the election of Yanukovych.

Michael Kenny , January 28, 2018 at 2:04 pm GMT
In an article about Syria, Russia is omnipresent and the article ends by talking about Ukraine. Nothing could better illustrate the fact that Putin has painted himself into a corner in both places. He is irreversibly bogged down in Syria and any deal he makes with the Kurds will just bog him down even more. Putin is a sitting duck. The US can lower the boom on him at any time by relaunching the war and there's nothing he can do about it. And, of course, the author makes clear that all this is "about" Ukraine. Syria is a proxy war. But in Ukraine also, Putin has painted himself into a corner. He can't go forward, he can't go backwards and he can't stay where he is!
bluedog , January 28, 2018 at 3:23 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny

Looks to me like he has done very well, the Ukraine is a basket case, surviving on little more than borrowed money(I see on the QT that they are back to having to buy coal from Russia AGAIN) and sooner rather than later there will be another coup as they find that even the EU don';t want them.Syria why does he need to make a deal with the Kurd's for they are not his problem,if anyone makes a deal with the Kurd's it will have be Syria,as far as that little chunk we carved out just what good is it landlocked with no access to a water port,as normal your trolling along with the mighty U.S. which is little more than a paper tiger with its involvement in Afghanistan Africa and other places of interest as it tries to save what can't be saved,the EMPIRE

EliteCommInc. , January 28, 2018 at 4:40 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny

I am not sure there is any evidence that Pres Putin needs t do anything.

He has no intention of raking the Ukraine. Not an issue. He's responding the consequences of a western incited violent revolution that spun out of control -- and is protecting "ethnic Russians" a dynamic that plagues Europe and Asia.

In Syria he is not launching a campaign of conquest but supporting. Anyone who thinks Russia is caught in a vice is sorely mistaken. I can see from the comments that misunderstanding the motivations of pothers remains in play and that is not encouraging.

Yo be clear, I have full faith of US might. we can bring a formidable amount of force on any situation -- it's frightening, just how formidable we are. The question remains

first should we
second how long we need to sustain it
third tested against multiple adversaries (of our own making) in multiple locations
fourth tested against other modern states who themselves have engaged in tech superior forces
fifth the strategic advantages -- short verses long term

Just because one can -- doesn't . . .

Nor am I ignoring that we have allies willing to take on Russia, but when push comes to shove . . . who knows. I think we are the ones getting played and as for trapped -- and bogged down --

goodness gracious.

[Jan 27, 2018] Ukraine, Syria, Russiagate, the Media, and the Risk of Nuclear War by Robert Roth

Notable quotes:
"... London Review of Books, ..."
"... at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack ..."
"... Return to Moscow ..."
"... The demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia is where the neocons and the liberal interventionists most significantly come together. The U.S. media's approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda. For instance, the full story of the infamous Magnitsky case cannot be told in the West, nor can the objective reality of the Ukrane coup in 2014 . The American people and the West in general are carefully shielded from hearing the "other side of the story." Indeed to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a "Putin apologist" or "Kremlin stooge." ..."
Jan 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

The claim of Russian meddling in the US election has brought US-Russia relations to what may be an all-time low, substantially contributing to the near-universal demonization of Russian president Vladimir Putin and of Russia itself in virtually all major media, with little or no discussion of the supposed evidence for the claim. A stellar exception is the London Review of Books, which published a critically important essay by Rutgers University professor Jackson Lears in the January 4, 2018 issue. Titled "What We Don't Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking," the article is an excellent overview and analysis of many of the issues the title suggests.

The claim of Russian meddling in the election remains to this day evidence-free, although you would never know that from the treatment of the topic in the mainstream media. As Professor Lears observes:

Like any orthodoxy worth its salt, the religion of the Russian hack depends not on evidence but on ex cathedra pronouncements on the part of authoritative institutions and their overlords. Its scriptural foundation is a confused and largely fact-free 'assessment' produced last January by a small number of 'hand-picked' analysts – as James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, described them – from the CIA, the FBI and the NSA. The claims of the last were made with only 'moderate' confidence. The label Intelligence Community Assessment creates a misleading impression of unanimity, given that only three of the 16 US intelligence agencies contributed to the report. And indeed the assessment itself contained this crucial admission: 'Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation and precedents.' Yet the assessment has passed into the media imagination as if it were unassailable fact, allowing journalists to assume what has yet to be proved. In doing so they serve as mouthpieces for the intelligence agencies, or at least for those 'hand-picked' analysts.

But although Professor Lears refers to the reports of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity in his discussion of "Russian hacking," it seems clear there must have been a leak, not a hack, because "the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack ." ("Was the 'Russian Hack' An Inside Job?", July 25, 2017, https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/25/was-the-russian-hack-an-inside-job/ .)

In any case, definitive claims about who was responsible (assuming, purely arguendo , it was a hack) face the fact that, according to Ray McGovern and William S. Binney, two members of VIPS,

On March 31, 2017, WikiLeaks released original CIA documents [the "Vault 7" trove of CIA documents ] -- ignored by mainstream media -- showing that the agency had created a program allowing it to break into computers and servers and make it look like others did it by leaving telltale signs like Cyrillic markings, for example. ("Trumped-up Claims Against Trump," May 17, 2017, http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-trump-russia-phony-20170517-story.html ).

McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years; Binney worked for NSA for 36 years, was the agency's technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting, and created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.

In other words, as Russian president Vladimir Putin has explained,

today's technology is such that the final address can be masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one will be able to understand the origin of that address. And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual [so] that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack. (Valdimir Putin's televised interview on NBC (June 4, 2017), by NBC News' Megyn Kelly, text published on the website of the President of Russia, June 5, 2017.) [9]

Demonization of Putin and Russia

The demonization of Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russia itself is just part, albeit the most dangerous part, of a disinformation campaign flowing from the mainstream media. I don't propose to present a full treatment of the subject here. But in broad outline, it's my understanding that when the Cold War ended in 1991, Russian president Boris Yeltsin accepted the advice of Western neoliberal planners and dismantled much of the Russian "safety net," with the result that the Russian economy tanked and millions of people faced terrific hardship.

Vladimir Putin has been attempting to repair that situation, and his initial success is part of the reason for his popularity in Russia. That understanding comes from a number of articles I've read over the years, but primarily from Tony Kevin's book Return to Moscow , mentioned above. I'm hardly an expert on internal Russian politics. But I've read many of the extensive public statements Mr. Putin has made since 2007, and with my primary concern being his role in international relations and with respect to the control of Russia's nuclear arsenal, he strikes me as a statesman. [10] . Yet as investigative journalist Robert Parry observes,

The demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia is where the neocons and the liberal interventionists most significantly come together. The U.S. media's approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda. For instance, the full story of the infamous Magnitsky case cannot be told in the West, nor can the objective reality of the Ukrane coup in 2014 . The American people and the West in general are carefully shielded from hearing the "other side of the story." Indeed to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a "Putin apologist" or "Kremlin stooge."

Western journalists now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many "liberals" who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the U.S. intelligence community feeds us, even if we're told to accept the assertions on faith. [11] .

One result is a needless heightening of the dangers and risks outlined in this article.

[Jan 22, 2018] German Imperialism as a tool of the "Kingdom of Money" by Thomas Fazi

Ukraine after EuroMaydan is a de-facto EU colony.
Notable quotes:
"... By Thomas Fazi 4 December 2017 ..."
"... For Germany, the idea of Europeanism has provided the country's elites with the perfect alibi to conceal their hegemonic project behind the ideological veil of 'European integration' ..."
"... "That may sound absurd given that today's Germany is a successful democracy without a trace of national-socialism – and that no one would actually associate Merkel with Nazism. But further reflection on the word 'Reich', or empire, may not be entirely out of place. The term refers to a dominion, with a central power exerting control over many different peoples. According to this definition, would it be wrong to speak of a German Reich in the economic realm?" ..."
"... More recently, an article in Politico Europe ..."
"... Even though the power exercised by Europe's 'colonial masters' is now openly acknowledged by the mainstream press, it is however commonplace to ascribe Germany's dominant position as an accident of history: according to this narrative, we are in the presence of an 'accidental empire', one that is not the result of a general plan but that emerged almost by chance – even against ..."
"... Germany (and France) have been the main beneficiaries of the sovereign bailouts of periphery countries , which essentially amounted to a covert bailout of German (and French) banks, as most of the funds were channelled back to the creditor countries' banks, which were heavily exposed to the banks (and to a lesser degree the governments) of periphery countries. German policy, Helen Thompson wrote , overwhelmingly 'served the interests of the German banks'. ..."
"... This is a telling example of how Germany's policies (and the EU's policies more in general), while nominally ordoliberal – i.e., based upon minimal government intervention and a strict rules-based regime – are in reality based on extensive state intervention on behalf of German capital, at both the domestic and European level. ..."
"... German authorities have also been more than happy to go along with – or to encourage – the European institutions' 'exercise of unrestrained executive power and the more or less complete abandonment of strict, rules-based frameworks' – Storey is here referring in particular to the ECB's use of its currency-issuing monopoly to force member states to follows its precepts – 'to maintain the profitability of German banks, German hegemony within the Eurozone, or even the survival of the Eurozone itself'. ..."
"... Germany (and France) are also the main beneficiaries of the ongoing process of 'mezzogiornification' of periphery countries – often compounded by troika -forced privatisations –, which in recent years has allowed German and French firms to take over a huge number of businesses (or stakes therewithin) in periphery countries, often at bargain prices. A well-publicised case is that of the 14 Greek regional airports taken over by the German airport operator Fraport. ..."
"... France's corporate offensive in Italy is another good example: in the last five years, French companies have engaged in 177 Italian takeovers, for a total value of $41.8 billion, six times Italy's purchases in France over the same period. This is leading to an increased 'centralisation' of European capital, characterised by a gradual concentration of capital and production in Germany and other core countries – in the logistical and distribution sectors, for example – and more in general to an increasingly imbalanced relationship between the stronger and weaker countries of the union. ..."
"... In short, the European Union should indeed be viewed a transnational capitalist project, but one that is subordinated to a clear state-centred hierarchy of power, with Germany in the dominant position. In this sense, the national elites in periphery countries that have supported Germany's hegemonic project (and continue to do so, first and foremost through their support to European integration) can thus be likened to the comprador bourgeoisie ..."
"... Exportnationalismus' ..."
"... Modell Deutschland ..."
"... Even more worryingly, Germany is not simply aiming at expanding its economic control over the European continent; it is also taking steps for greater European military 'cooperation' – under the German aegis, of course. As a recent article in Foreign Policy ..."
"... In other words, Germany already effectively controls the armies of four countries. And the initiative, Foreign Policy ..."
Jan 21, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press
Originally from: Germany's dystopian plans for Europe: from fantasy to reality? By Thomas Fazi 4 December 2017

For Germany, the idea of Europeanism has provided the country's elites with the perfect alibi to conceal their hegemonic project behind the ideological veil of 'European integration'

After Emmanuel Macron's election in France, many (including myself) claimed that this signalled a revival of the Franco-German alliance and a renewed impetus for Europe's process of top-down economic and political integration – a fact that was claimed by most commentators and politicians, beholden as they are to the Europeanist narrative, to be an unambiguously positive development.

Among the allegedly 'overdue' reforms that were said to be on the table was the creation of a pseudo-'fiscal union' backed by a (meagre) 'euro budget', along with the creation of a 'European finance minister', the centre-points of Macron's plans to 're-found the EU' – a proposal that raises a number of very worrying issues from both political and economic standpoints, which I have discussed at length elsewhere .

The integrationists' (unwarranted) optimism, however, was short-lived. The result of the German elections, which saw the surge of two rabidly anti-integrationist parties, the right-wing FDP and extreme right AfD; the recent collapse of coalition talks between Merkel's CDU, the FDP and the Greens, which most likely means an interim government for weeks if not months, possibly leading to new elections (which polls show would bring roughly the same result as the September election); and the growing restlessness in Germany towards the 13-year-long rule of Macron's partner in reform Angela Merkel, means that any plans that Merkel and Macron may have sketched out behind the scenes to further integrate policies at the European level are now, almost certainly, dead in the water. Thus, even the sorry excuse for a fiscal union proposed by Macron is now off the table, according to most commentators.

At this point, the German government's most likely course in terms of European policy – the one that has the best chance of garnering cross-party support, regardless of the outcome of the coalition talks (or of new elections) – is the 'minimalist' approach set in stone by the country's infamous and now-former finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, in a 'non-paper' published shortly before his resignation.

The main pillar of Schäuble's proposal – a long-time obsession of his – consists in giving the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which would go on to become a 'European Monetary Fund', the power to monitor (and, ideally, enforce) compliance with the Fiscal Compact. This echoes Schäuble's previous calls for the creation of a European budget commissioner with the power to reject national budgets – a supranational fiscal enforcer.

The aim is all too clear: to further erode what little sovereignty and autonomy member states have left, particularly in the area of fiscal policy, and to facilitate the imposition of neoliberal 'structural reforms' – flexibilisation of labour markets, reduction of collective bargaining rights, etc. – on reluctant countries.

To this end, the German authorities even want to make the receipt of EU cohesion funds conditional on the implementation of such reforms , tightening the existing arrangements even further. Moreover, as noted by Simon Wren-Lewis , the political conflict of interest of having an institution lending within the eurozone would end up imposing severe austerity bias on the recovering country.

Until recently, these proposals failed to materialise due, among other reasons, to France's opposition to any further overt reductions of national sovereignty in the area of budgetary policy; Macron, however, staunchly rejects France's traditional souverainiste stance, embracing instead what he calls 'European sovereignty', and thus represents the perfect ally for Germany's plans.

Another proposal that goes in the same direction is the German Council for Economic Experts' plan to curtail banks' sovereign bond holdings. Ostensibly aimed at 'severing the link between banks and government' and 'ensuring long-term debt sustainability', it calls for: (i) removing the exemption from risk-weighting for sovereign exposures, which essentially means that government bonds would no longer be considered a risk-free asset for banks (as they are now under Basel rules), but would be 'weighted' according to the 'sovereign default risk' of the country in question (as determined by credit rating agencies); (ii) putting a cap on the overall risk-weighted sovereign exposure of banks; and (iii) introducing an automatic 'sovereign insolvency mechanism' that would essentially extend to sovereigns the bail-in rule introduced for banks by the banking union, meaning that if a country requires financial assistance from the ESM, for whichever reason, it will have to lengthen its sovereign bond maturities (reducing the market value of those bonds and causing severe losses for all bondholders) and, if necessary, impose a nominal 'haircut' on private creditors.

As noted by the German economist Peter Bofinger , the only member of the German Council of Economic Experts to vote against the sovereign bail-in plan, this would almost certainly ignite a 2012-style self-fulfilling sovereign debt crisis, as periphery countries' bond yields would quickly rise to unsustainable levels, making it increasingly hard for governments to roll over maturing debt at reasonable prices and eventually forcing them to turn to the ESM for help, which would entail even heavier losses for their banks and an even heavier dose of austerity.

It would essentially amount to a return to the pre-2012 status quo, with governments once again subject to the supposed 'discipline' of the markets, particularly in the context of a likely tapering of the ECB's quantitative easing (QE) program. The aim of this proposal is the same as that of Schäuble's 'European Monetary Fund': to force member states to implement permanent austerity.

Read also: Lack of Credible Leftist Alternatives is fueling national movements. Catalonia wants independence from the small Madrid Empire, but inside Brussels Great Empire

Of course, national sovereignty in a number of areas – most notably fiscal policy – has already been severely eroded by the complex system of new laws, rules and agreements introduced in recent years, including but not limited to the six-pack, two-pack, Fiscal Compact, European Semester and Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure (MIP).

As a result of this new post-Maastricht system of European economic governance, the European Union has effectively become a sovereign power with the authority to impose budgetary rules and structural reforms on member states outside democratic procedures and without democratic control.

The EU's embedded quasi-constitutionalism and inherent (structural) democratic deficit has thus evolved into an even more anti-democratic form of 'authoritarian constitutionalism' that is breaking away with elements of formal democracy as well, leading some observers to suggest that the EU 'may easily become the postdemocratic prototype and even a pre-dictatorial governance structure against national sovereignty and democracies'.

To give an example, with the launch of the European Semester, the EU's key tool for economic policy guidance and surveillance, an area that has historically been a bastion of national sovereignty – old-age pensions – has now fallen under the purview of supranational monitoring as well. Countries are now expected to (and face sanctions if they don't): (i) increase the retirement age and link it with life expectancy; (ii) reduce early retirement schemes, improve the employability of older workers and promote lifelong learning; (iii) support complementary private savings to enhance retirement incomes; and (iv) avoid adopting pension-related measures that undermine the long term sustainability and adequacy of public finances.

This has led to the introduction in various countries of several types of automatic stabilizing mechanisms (ASMs) in pension systems, which change the policy default so that benefits or contributions adjust automatically to adverse demographic and economic conditions without direct intervention by politicians. Similar 'automatic correction mechanisms' in relation to fiscal policy can be found in the Fiscal Compact.

The aim of all these 'automatic mechanisms' is clearly to put the economy on 'autopilot', thus removing any element of democratic discussion and/or decision-making at either the European or national level. These changes have already transformed European states into 'semi-sovereign' entities, at best. In this sense, the proposals currently under discussion would mark the definitive transformation of European states from semi-sovereign to de facto (and increasingly de jure ) non-sovereign entities.

Regardless of the lip service paid by national and European officials to the need for further reductions of national sovereignty to go hand in hand with a greater 'democratisation' of the euro area, the reforms currently on the table can, in fact, be considered the final stage in the thirty-year-long war on democracy and national sovereignty waged by the European elites, aimed at constraining the ability of popular-democratic powers to influence economic policy, thus enabling the imposition of neoliberal policies that would not have otherwise been politically feasible.

In this sense, the European economic and monetary integration process should be viewed, to a large degree, as a class-based and inherently neoliberal project pursued by all national capitals as well as transnational (financial) capital. However, to grasp the processes of restructuring under way in Europe, we need to go beyond the simplistic capital/labour dichotomy that underlies many critical analyses of the EU and eurozone, which view EU/EMU policies as the expression of a unitary and coherent transnational (post-national) European capitalist class.

The process underway can only be understood through the lens of the geopolitical-economic tensions and conflicts between leading capitalist states and regional blocs, and the conflicting interests between the different financial/industrial capital fractions located in those states, which have always characterised the European economy. In particular, it means looking at Germany's historic struggle for economic hegemony over the European continent.

It is no secret that Germany is today the leading economic and political power in Europe, just as it is no secret that nothing gets done in Europe without Germany's seal of approval. In fact, it is commonplace to come across references to Germany's 'new empire'. A controversial Der Spiegel editorial from a few years back event went as far as arguing that it is not out place to talk of the rise of a 'Fourth Reich':

"That may sound absurd given that today's Germany is a successful democracy without a trace of national-socialism – and that no one would actually associate Merkel with Nazism. But further reflection on the word 'Reich', or empire, may not be entirely out of place. The term refers to a dominion, with a central power exerting control over many different peoples. According to this definition, would it be wrong to speak of a German Reich in the economic realm?"

More recently, an article in Politico Europe – co-owned by the German media magnate Axel Springer AG – candidly explained why 'Greece is de facto a German colony'. It noted how, despite Tsipras' pleas for debt relief, the Greek leader 'has little choice but to heed the wishes of his "colonial" masters', i.e., the Germans.

This is because public debt in the eurozone is used as a political tool – a disciplining tool – to get governments to implement socially harmful policies (and to get citizens to accept these policies by portraying them as inevitable), which explains why Germany continues to refuse to seriously consider any form of debt relief for Greece, despite the various commitments and promises to that end made in recent years: debt is the chain that keeps Greece (and other member states) from straying 'off course'.

Read also: Boris Johnson: Why not a preemptive strike on Korea?

Even though the power exercised by Europe's 'colonial masters' is now openly acknowledged by the mainstream press, it is however commonplace to ascribe Germany's dominant position as an accident of history: according to this narrative, we are in the presence of an 'accidental empire', one that is not the result of a general plan but that emerged almost by chance – even against Germany's wishes – as a result of the euro's design faults, which have allowed Germany and its satellites to pursue a neo-mercantilist strategy and thus accumulate huge current account surpluses.

Now, it is certainly true that the euro's design – strongly influenced by Germany – inevitably benefits export-led economies such as Germany over more internal demand-oriented economies, such as those of southern Europe. However, there is ample evidence to support the argument that Germany, far from having accidently stumbled upon European dominance, has been actively and consciously pursuing an expansionary and imperialist strategy in – and through – the European Union for decades.

Even if we limit our analysis to Germany's post-crisis policies (though there is much that could be said about Germany's post-reunification policies and subsequent offshoring of production to Eastern Europe in the 1990s), it would be very naïve to view Germany's inflexibility – on austerity, for example – as a simple case of ideological stubbornness, considering the extent to which the policies in question have benefited Germany (and to a lesser extent France).

Germany (and France) have been the main beneficiaries of the sovereign bailouts of periphery countries , which essentially amounted to a covert bailout of German (and French) banks, as most of the funds were channelled back to the creditor countries' banks, which were heavily exposed to the banks (and to a lesser degree the governments) of periphery countries. German policy, Helen Thompson wrote , overwhelmingly 'served the interests of the German banks'.

This is a telling example of how Germany's policies (and the EU's policies more in general), while nominally ordoliberal – i.e., based upon minimal government intervention and a strict rules-based regime – are in reality based on extensive state intervention on behalf of German capital, at both the domestic and European level.

As Andy Storey notes, not only did the German government, throughout the crisis, show a blatant disregard for ordoliberalism's non-interference of public institutions in the workings of the market, by engaging in a massive Keynesian-style programme in the aftermath of the financial crisis and pushing through bailout programmes that largely absolved German banks from their responsibility for reckless lending to Greece and other countries; German authorities have also been more than happy to go along with – or to encourage – the European institutions' 'exercise of unrestrained executive power and the more or less complete abandonment of strict, rules-based frameworks' – Storey is here referring in particular to the ECB's use of its currency-issuing monopoly to force member states to follows its precepts – 'to maintain the profitability of German banks, German hegemony within the Eurozone, or even the survival of the Eurozone itself'.

Germany (and France) are also the main beneficiaries of the ongoing process of 'mezzogiornification' of periphery countries – often compounded by troika -forced privatisations –, which in recent years has allowed German and French firms to take over a huge number of businesses (or stakes therewithin) in periphery countries, often at bargain prices. A well-publicised case is that of the 14 Greek regional airports taken over by the German airport operator Fraport.

France's corporate offensive in Italy is another good example: in the last five years, French companies have engaged in 177 Italian takeovers, for a total value of $41.8 billion, six times Italy's purchases in France over the same period. This is leading to an increased 'centralisation' of European capital, characterised by a gradual concentration of capital and production in Germany and other core countries – in the logistical and distribution sectors, for example – and more in general to an increasingly imbalanced relationship between the stronger and weaker countries of the union.

These transformations cannot simply be described as processes without a subject: while there are undoubtedly structural reasons involved – countries with better developed economies of scale, such as Germany and France, were bound to benefit more than others from the reduction in tariffs and barriers associated with the introduction of the single currency – we also have to acknowledge that there are loci of economic-politic power that are actively driving and shaping these imperialist processes, which must be viewed through the lens of the unresolved inter-capitalist struggle between core-based and periphery-based capital.

From this perspective, the dichotomy that is often raised in European public discourse between nationalism and Europeanism is deeply flawed. The two, in fact, often go hand in hand. In Germany's case, for example, Europeanism has provided the country's elites with the perfect alibi to conceal their hegemonic project behind the ideological veil of 'European integration'. Ironically, the European Union – allegedly created as an antidote to the vicious nationalisms of the twentieth century – has been the tool through which Germany has been able to achieve the 'new European order' that Nazi ideologues had theorised in the 1930s and early 1940s.

In short, the European Union should indeed be viewed a transnational capitalist project, but one that is subordinated to a clear state-centred hierarchy of power, with Germany in the dominant position. In this sense, the national elites in periphery countries that have supported Germany's hegemonic project (and continue to do so, first and foremost through their support to European integration) can thus be likened to the comprador bourgeoisie of the old colonial system – sections of a country's elite and middle class allied with foreign interests in exchange for a subordinated role within the dominant hierarchy of power.

From this point of view, the likely revival of the Franco-German bloc is a very worrying development, since it heralds a consolidation of the German-led European imperialist bloc – and a further 'Germanification' of the continent. This development cannot be understood independently of the momentous shifts that are taking place in global political economy – namely the organic crisis of neoliberal globalisation, which is leading to increased tensions between the various fractions of international capital, most notably between the US and Germany.

Trump's repeated criticisms of Germany's beggar-thy-neighbour mercantilist policies should be understood in this light. The same goes for Angela Merkel's recent call – much celebrated by the mainstream press – for a stronger Europe to counter Trump's unilateralism. Merkel's aim is not, of course, that of making 'Europe' stronger, but rather of strengthening Germany's dominant position vis-à-vis the other world powers (the US but also China) through the consolidation of Germany's control of the European continental economy, in the context of an intensification of global inter-capitalist competition.

This has now become an imperative for Germany, especially since Trump has dared to openly challenge the self-justifying ideology which sustains Germany's mercantilism – a particular form of economic nationalism that Hans Kundnani has dubbed ' Exportnationalismus' , founded upon the belief that Germany's massive trade surplus is uniquely the result of Germany's manufacturing excellence ( Modell Deutschland ) rather than, in fact, the result of unfair trade practices.

This is why, if Germany wants to maintain its hegemonic position on the continent, it must break with the US and tighten the bolts of the European workhouse. To this end, it needs to seize control of the most coveted institution of them all – the ECB –, which hitherto has never been under direct German control (though the Bundesbank exercises considerable influence over it, as is well known). Indeed, many commentators openly acknowledge that Merkel now has her eyes on the ECB's presidency. This would effectively put Germany directly at the helm of European economic policy.

Even more worryingly, Germany is not simply aiming at expanding its economic control over the European continent; it is also taking steps for greater European military 'cooperation' – under the German aegis, of course. As a recent article in Foreign Policy revealed , 'Germany is quietly building a European army under its command'.

This year Germany and two of its European allies, the Czech Republic and Romania, announced the integration of their armed forces, under the control of the Bundeswehr. In doing so, the will follow in the footsteps of two Dutch brigades, one of which has already joined the Bundeswehr's Rapid Response Forces Division and another that has been integrated into the Bundeswehr's 1st Armored Division.

In other words, Germany already effectively controls the armies of four countries. And the initiative, Foreign Policy notes, 'is likely to grow'. This is not surprising: if Germany ('the EU') wants to become truly autonomous from the US, it needs to acquire military sovereignty, which it currently lacks.

Europe is thus at a crossroads: the choice that left-wing and popular forces, and periphery countries more generally, face is between (a) accepting Europe's transition to a fully post-democratic, hyper-competitive, German-led continental system, in which member states (except for those at the helm of the project) will be deprived of all sovereignty and autonomy, in exchange for a formal democratic façade at the supranational level, and its workers subject to ever-growing levels of exploitation; or (b) regaining national sovereignty and autonomy at the national level, with all the short-term risks that such a strategy entails, as the only way to restore democracy, popular sovereignty and socioeconomic dignity. In short, the choice is between European post-democracy or post-European democracy.

There is no third way. Especially in view of the growing tensions between Germany, the US and China, periphery countries should ask themselves if they want to be simple pawns in this 'New Great Game' or if they want to take their destinies into their own hands.

-- -

Some portions of this article previously appeared in this article published by Green European Journal. Thomas Fazi is the co-author (with William Mitchell) of Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto, 2017).

[Jan 21, 2018] Poeoshenko failed to imagine the situation a Russia in which Putin was no longer around and the hawks, with plenty of stored up grievances, were in power. The Russians have their neocons too and if they came out on top we'd be worse off than now. Failing to resolve the Donbass crisis now might create much worse situation in the future

Notable quotes:
"... Imagine a Russia in which Putin was no longer around and the hawks, with plenty of stored up grievances, were in power. The Russians have their neocons too and if they came out on top we'd be worse off than now ..."
"... The European elites wish to see Europe as a world power. Unrealistic, perhaps, but say that entity did become a dominant force. They complain about the lack of democratic control in the States, but that's nothing to the lack of democratic control in Europe. And we've already seen what the Europeans, including us, are capable of when it comes to predatory foreign intervention. Give the Europeans enough things that go bang and we could be yearning for the good old days. ..."
Jan 21, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

English Outsider -> Babak Makkinejad... 21 January 2018 at 11:18 AM


Babak - "The only sensible thing to do is to cut and run; in my opinion. Just work through the implications as US cuts and run in the Levant, in the Persian Gulf, in South Korea."

As you point out, that could have unexpected effects. We saw what happened when a previous dominant power - Great Britain, though by no means as overwhelmingly dominant and not at all so at the end - effectively cut and ran after the Second World War. It ended up more of a mess than it started out as.

Even in an ideal world, a world in which the current style of Great Power politics was universally abandoned, the sudden withdrawal of the US would cause instability and chaos. The disengagement would have to be gradual.

But there is no such ideal world as that and there will not be. Therefore the sudden withdrawal of the US would leave a power vacuum that others would fill.

What others? Imagine a Russia in which Putin was no longer around and the hawks, with plenty of stored up grievances, were in power. The Russians have their neocons too and if they came out on top we'd be worse off than now .

The European elites wish to see Europe as a world power. Unrealistic, perhaps, but say that entity did become a dominant force. They complain about the lack of democratic control in the States, but that's nothing to the lack of democratic control in Europe. And we've already seen what the Europeans, including us, are capable of when it comes to predatory foreign intervention. Give the Europeans enough things that go bang and we could be yearning for the good old days.

I'm one of those that still hope that the non-interventionist policy that was voted for in America in 2016 will be carried through. But if that is indeed Trump's intention then there is more in his way than local political or administrative difficulties. To engineer such a transition would require great care. It's no good if the US just steps back and worse comes forward to take its place.

It's not overly idealistic, or even that unrealistic, to hope for a world in which defense forces (AND defensive alliances) are used for the proper purpose of defence and not for expensive and destructive enterprises dreamed up by some bubble elite. That's part of what Trump 2016 was about. But getting to such a world would require a considerably more careful transition than we've seen in similar circumstances in the past.

[Jan 21, 2018] Syria - Turks Attack Afrin, U.S. Strategy Fails, Kurds Again Chose The Losing Side

There are some analogies here with the recent Poroshenko government desire to take Donbass area back by military force.
Notable quotes:
"... How will this breakup of Syrian national territory affect the situation between the Donbass region and the Ukraine junta? ..."
"... True and very sad. The Syrians have been caught in the crossfire since the beginning. We have theorized over the various causes of the war, but, in the end, when the superpowers are hanging around, Syrians are the first row of pieces to be sacrificed. ..."
"... The Afrin war plays several roles. It will demonize and demoralize further the 'independentist' Kurds, awake the nationalist Turkish feeling by displaying military power that has been damaged by the coup, boost the Islamist flame among the rural Turks so the Turks can forget about their grudge over the EU and the declining buying power. ..."
"... All the actors are tributaries flowing into the main river, and all moving in the same general direction, because the river is actually the tide of history. All players are advancing to meet their inevitable destinie ..."
Jan 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

BRF , Jan 21, 2018 10:28:49 AM | 17

Let me see if I understand all this? The Erdogan Turks fully back the terrorists in Syria aiming to dislodge the Assad Syrian government. The USA et al fully backs the same.

The USA also backs the PKK/YPG Kurd faction in Syria as a means to at least break up Syrian national territory, as originally in their plans, even if they do remove the Assad government as originally planned.

Erdogan has wanted to expand Turkey's national boundaries at the expense of Syria's. This latest encroachment, as with Euphrates Shield, accomplishes this goal especially if they can subsume their terrorist proxies occupied areas in Idlib Province as the USA has by using their newest Kurd proxies in eastern Syria. Erdogan need only create some new proxy (Turkmen?) and go after the terrorists and Kurds in western Syria. No doubt with American help.

Erdogan and the USA disagree only on what future the Kurdish people will play in the eastern territories of Syria and Turkey. So what will be the necessary accommodation between them?

If a Kurdish state is declared and backed by NATO and a UN resolution what if anything can Syria and her allies do about it as war is simply out of the question.

How will this breakup of Syrian national territory affect the situation between the Donbass region and the Ukraine junta?

NemesisCalling , Jan 21, 2018 1:41:54 PM | 37
This would not be some devious plot by Turks/US to prolong the war in Syria and give cover to send more troops in ... troops that never leave? The whole thing seems a bit too ... convenient.

Posted by: GoraDiva | Jan 21, 2018 1:22:57 PM | 35

@35 E

True and very sad. The Syrians have been caught in the crossfire since the beginning. We have theorized over the various causes of the war, but, in the end, when the superpowers are hanging around, Syrians are the first row of pieces to be sacrificed.

And I would never put my faith in any international community ruling after Syria. We are in uncharted territory, I believe. Dance with the one you came with and if you have to stand on Putin's toes to keep up, then hold him close.

"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." -- Thucydides

Can we got off this stupid ride, yet?

William Rood , Jan 21, 2018 2:03:05 PM | 41
"These oilfields seem to be the big prize and one of the main reasons the US wants to hold onto this corner of Syria."

Posted by: financial matters | Jan 21, 2018 10:37:30 AM | 18

The goal of the MIC and Deep State is just to keep the chaos going as long as possible to sell arms and benefit careers. However, Trump has been enticed to go along with it by the promise that the US will "take their oil."

Don Wiscacho , Jan 21, 2018 3:21:35 PM | 47

@ William Rood re: Kurds who can't speak Arabic

You may be correct that those Kurds aren't Syrian, but not necessarily so. The areas of Syria that have actually had Kurdish, or for instance Armenian, majorities have enjoyed a large measure of de facto autonomy, which has only increased in the last 20 years. So while nominally required to use Arabic in schools, if the school is staffed with Kurdish teachers and administrators with Kurdish students, there is little to stop them from simply teaching in Kurdish. Or Armenian, or Aramaic, etc.

Frank , Jan 21, 2018 5:13:08 PM | 56
We had wrongly predicted that Turkish threats against the Kurdish held north-west area of Afrin were empty:
Maybe not. Maybe your first analysis was correct. If the Kurdish militias do fight, it will take many weeks, and lead to substantial Turkish losses. So it is really too early to say that Erdogan will attempt to conquer Afrin no matter the cost, and too early to say that the US will not put effective pressure on Erdogan, or offer him some sort of deal.

So far, Erdogan has upped the ante, but he hasn't gone all in.

virgile , Jan 21, 2018 6:03:49 PM | 60
Erdogan is obsessed by keeping power and winning his re election in 2018 or 2019 . To get that, he needs to neutralize the Turkish Kurds who don't vote for him. Sunni conservative Kurds worship Erdogan for his promotion of Sunni Islam. For them Islam is the unifying factor of Turks especially Sunni Islam. They all vote for the AKP.

Erdogan has emasculated the burgeoning liberal Kurdish party, the HDP, by demonizing the liberal Kurds and throwing its leader in prison just to get more votes in the previous parliamentary election that he reran to win with a very small margin.

For the next election, he is very worried about the growth of other centrist parties, the weakness of his ally the MHP, a nationalist party archi-enemy of the Kurds and about the insatisfaction of the Turks with the deteriorating relation with the EU and the fall of the lira.

The Afrin war plays several roles. It will demonize and demoralize further the 'independentist' Kurds, awake the nationalist Turkish feeling by displaying military power that has been damaged by the coup, boost the Islamist flame among the rural Turks so the Turks can forget about their grudge over the EU and the declining buying power.

The question is will he win fast enough not to create the impression of failure and a quagmire that would reflect negatively on his voters? And what will be the aftermath of Afrin? early elections?

Grieved , Jan 21, 2018 6:52:02 PM | 66
I agree with everyone!

It's a multiple win-win, a great demonstration of congruent interests all doing their own thing. Lots of things remain to play out. But there are no downsides to this situation, no matter who holds what piece of Syrian territory for what temporary short time.

All the actors are tributaries flowing into the main river, and all moving in the same general direction, because the river is actually the tide of history. All players are advancing to meet their inevitable destinies: Turkey moves closer to Russia, and closer, despite much bad blood, to restoring the friendship between itself and Syria (over time); the Kurds get their final lesson about the perfidious US and settle into their lands in Syria, as Syrians; Dr. Assad gets his entire country back for his people (over time); terrorists die; the US is further marginalized and its generals scream mayhem, in words only.

Great update, b - thanks!

[Jan 21, 2018] MoA - Sundry - Shutdown, Ukraine, Omidyar And Syria

Jan 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

The Ukrainian Parliament has practically declared the Minsk agreements null and void and decided to militarily "liberate" Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea from the will of the people living there. Just in time the neo-nazi fanatics of the Azov Battalion received a U.S. military delegation and U.S. arms.

The 2015 Minsk II agreement ( full text ) demanded that the Ukraine creates a new law for the administration of these regions:

Without delays, but no later than 30 days from the date of signing of this document, a resolution has to be approved by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, indicating the territory which falls under the special regime in accordance with the law "On temporary Order of Local Self-Governance in Particular Districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts," based in the line set up by the Minsk Memorandum as of Sept. 19, 2014.

Russia is not a party of the agreement. But when the resolution by the Ukrainian parliament was not forthcoming western propaganda falsely blamed Russia for "not fulfilling the Minsk agreement" and the west has since bound the sanctions on Russia to this fake conclusion.

The National Bank of Ukraine announced that an independent accountant found that PrivatBank, then owned by the coup financier and billionaire Ihor Kolomoyskiy , was plundered of $5.5 billion shortly before it went bankrupt and nationalized by the coup government. In connection with that an IMF loan of $1.8 billion to the Ukraine allegedly went directly into Kolomoyskiy's pockets. How much of this stolen money was paid to U.S. politicians?

While the anti-Trump politicians and media still fret about "Russian influence" on U.S. social media everyone seems to have forgotten that in early 2016 the Ukraine set up a massive troll farm and a Ministry of Truth. Back then even the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine disliked that . If every troll tweeting in Russian or with Cyrillic letters in its name is under the direct command of Vladimir Putin where then are those Ukrainians trolls?

les7 , Jan 20, 2018 1:57:19 PM | 18

@15
You ask "How much more is there to come...?"

The last round in Ukraine erupted while the winter games finished in Sochi. I see the empire positioning things to repeat the treatment during FIFA. Ukraine is being primed and the clock is set to create incidents that will force Russia's hand.

This potential very public shaming of Russia is what is restraining Russia from responding to many of the US and Israeli (and Turkish?) provocations in Syria. Perhaps they are hoping their present silence will gain them some grace for that showcase event.

Personally, I doubt it.

And should some incidents happen during the FIFA world cup events, we will see the real Putin - which might be for the best in the long run.

frances , Jan 20, 2018 6:11:22 PM | 42
re:?The Ukrainian Parliament has practically declared the Minsk agreements null and void and decided to militarily "liberate" Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea from the will of the people living there. Just in time the neo-nazi fanatics of the Azov Battalion received a U.S. military delegation..."
And also just in time Russia is voting on legalizing militias in Africa and elsewhere; just in time for Spring in the Ukraine?
http://russiafeed.com/russia-legalize-private-military-contractors-get-leg-africa/
Eugene , Jan 20, 2018 5:20:49 PM | 39
I'm curious about Ukraine & its neo-nazi's. How do the Israelis who work there, knowing the past-present? After all, mention the word nazi in their presence, and they go out of their collective minds attacking the source. Or maybe there's some sort of collusion taking place?

[Jan 20, 2018] Ukraine President given power to wage war in the separatist republics and Crimea.

Jan 20, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Posted by: CarlD | Jan 19, 2018 11:49:05 AM | 57

addwnsum to 56

https://www.rt.com/news/416305-ukraine-donbass-law-war-moscow/

Ukraine President given power to wage war in the separatist republics and Crimea.

[Jan 12, 2018] How the BBC shapes the news.

Jan 12, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

English Outsider | Jan 10, 2018 1:41:48 PM | 30

I'm in the UK as well and now find it quite alarming how the BBC shapes the news.

Recently on Radio 4 I listened to the BBC talking of a terrorist group related to or derived from Al Qaeda merely as "rebels", and giving the impression that their actions were part of a legitimate insurgency. That's not how 9/11 was described.

It's all too like the BBC's Ukraine reporting, in which the neo-Nazi component was played down and the indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas in Donetsk and Lugansk spoken of as legitimate warfare.

Crazy. And not only the PR. All those journalists and expensive editors and more admin staff than you can shake a stick at, and there's more fact to be got on some one man and a dog Russian news outlet. I heard recently of an old BBC hand describing the way the BBC changed after David Kelly. What with that and what with the material we now see put out by the BBC, I reckon that as far as foreign news goes we've got ourselves our very own Pravda on the Thames.

[Jan 06, 2018] Selling Out Argentina's Future -- Again by lan Cibils

Notable quotes:
"... desendeudamiento ..."
"... desendedudamiento ..."
"... Source: Ministry of Finance, Argentina. ..."
"... World Economic Outlook ..."
"... The grand history of Latin America: borrow billions of $$$ from U.S. banks, hand the money to the wealthy who immediately deposit it right back in American banks, and let the poor pay back the principal and interest. Hmmm . seems more and more the way this country is going. ..."
"... The fixed exchange rate under Kirchner was totally unsustainable. One difference between Macri's neoliberalism and his predecessors is Macri is allowing much more of a floating currency than in the pre 2001 time period (We can debate how much it is actually is floating and clearly a lot of this debt issuance is for currency stabilization that I personally don't approve of). ..."
"... Brazil's recent neoliberal turn was frustrating for a variety of reasons, but being a big, diverse economy, they've got more sovereignty than their neighbors. However, the business and political elites in Brazil decided to hammer through austerity (spending cuts and interest rate hikes) because they WANTED to, not because external forces made them do it. ..."
Jan 05, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

by lan Cibils and Mariano Arana, Political Economy Department, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Originally published at Triple Crisis

In Argentina's 2015 presidential run-off election, the neoliberal right-wing coalition "Cambiemos" (literally, "lets change"), headed by Mauricio Macri, defeated the populist Kirchnerista candidate by just two percentage points. Macri's triumph heralded a return to the neoliberal policies of the 1990s and ended twelve years of heterodox economic policies that prioritized income redistribution and the internal market. The ruling coalition also performed well in the October 2017 mid-term elections and has since begun implementing a draconian set of fiscal, labor, and social security reforms.

One of the hallmarks of the Cambiemos government so far has been a fast and furious return to international credit markets and a very substantial increase in new public debt. Indeed, since Macri came to power in 2015, Argentina has issued debt worth more than $100 billion. This marks a clear contrast to the Kirchner administrations, during which the emphasis was debt reduction.

The Kirchner Years: Debt Reduction?

Both Néstor and Cristina Kirchner pointed to desendeudamiento -- debt reduction -- as one of the great successes of their administrations. To what extent was debt reduced during the twelve years of Kirchnerismo?

Figure 1 shows the evolution of Argentina's public debt stock and the debt/GDP ratio between 2004-2017. One can see that there was a substantial reduction in the debt to GDP ratio between 2004-2011 -- the first two Kirchner terms -- due primarily to: a) the 2005 and 2010 debt restructuring offers, b) a deliberate policy of desendedudamiento (debt cancellation), and c) high growth rates. Indeed, debt/GDP dropped from 118.1% in 2004 to 38.9% in 2011. One can also see that the actual stock of public debt fell after the 2005 debt restructuring process, and then remained relatively stable until 2010. In 2011, it began a slow upward trend, due to the re-appearance of the foreign exchange constraint once the commodity bubble burst and capital flight increased.

Figure 1: Public Debt Stock (millions of dollars) and Debt/GDP ratio

Source: Ministry of Finance, Argentina.

An additional, fundamental change occurred during the first two Kirchner administrations: the change in currency composition of Argentina's public debt. Indeed, as Figure 2 shows, peso-denominated public debt reached 41% of total debt after the 2005 debt-restructuring process. Between 2005 and 2012 it remained relatively stable, and then, after 2012, dollar-denominated public debt began to grow again although never reaching pre-2005 debt-restructuring levels. The currency composition change is key, since it reduces considerably the pressure on the external accounts.

Figure 2: Currency Composition of Argentina's Public Debt (as a % GDP)

Source: Ministry of Finance, Argentina.

Fast and Furious

Since Macri became president in December 2015, there has been a dramatic change in official public debt strategy, radically reversing the process of debt reduction of the previous decade. As shown in Figure 1, there was a substantial jump in the stock of public debt in 2016, and it has continued to grow in 2017.The result to date has been a substantial increase in the stock of Argentina's dollar-denominated public debt, as well as an increase of the debt service to GDP ratio. New debt has been used to cover the trade deficit, pay off the vulture funds, finance capital flight, and meet debt service payments. All of this has resulted in growing concerns about Argentina's future economic sustainability, not to mention any possibility of promoting economic development objectives.

Upon taking office, the Macri Administration rapidly implemented a series of policies to liberalize financial flows and imports, and a 40% devaluation of the Argentine peso. [1] In this context, it also went on a debt rampage, increasing dollar denominated debt considerably. Between December 2015 and September 2017, Argentina's new debt amounts to the equivalent of $103.59 billion. [2] This includes new debt issued by the Treasury (80%), provincial governments (11%), and the private sector (9%). While Argentina's debt had been increasing slowly since 2011, the jump experienced in 2016 was unlike any other in Argentina's history.

If the increase in debt is alarming, the destination of those funds is also cause of concern. Data from Argentina's Central Bank (Banco Central de la República Argentina or BCRA) show that during the first eight months of 2017, net foreign asset accumulation of the private non-banking sector totaled $13.32 million, 33% more than all of 2016, which itself was 17% more than all of 2015. This means that since December 2015, Argentina has dollarized assets by approximately $25.29 billion.

According to the BCRA, during the same period there was a net outflow of capital due to debt interest payments, profits and dividends of $8.231 billion. Additionally, the net outflow due to tourism and travel is calculated at roughly $13.43 billion between December 2015 and August 2017.

In sum, the dramatic increase in dollar-denominated debt during the two first Macri years served to finance capital flight, tourism, profit remittances, and debt service, all to the tune of roughly $50 billion.

Where is This Headed?

Argentina's experience since the 1976 military coup until the crash of 2001 has shown how damaging is the combination of unfavorable external conditions and the destruction of the local productive structure. The post-crisis policies of the successive Kirchner administrations reversed the debt-dependent and deindustrializing policies of the preceding decades. However, since Macri took office in December 2015, Argentina has once again turned to debt-dependent framework of the 1990s. Not only has public debt grown in absolute terms, but the weight of dollar-denominated debt in total debt has also increased. Despite significant doubts regarding the sustainability of the current situation, the government has expressed intentions of continuing to issue new debt until 2020.

What are the main factors that call debt-sustainability into question? First, capital flight, which, as we have said above, is increasing, is compensated with new dollar-denominated public debt. Second, Argentina's trade balance turned negative in 2015 and has remained so since, with a total accumulated trade deficit between 2015 and the second quarter of 2017 of $6.53 billion. Import dynamics proved impervious to the 2016 recession, therefore it is expected that the deficit will either persist as is or increase if there are no drastic changes. Furthermore, in the 2018 national budget bill sent to Congress, Treasury Secretary Nicolás Dujovne projects that the growth rate of imports will exceed that of exports until at least 2021, increasing the current trade deficit by 68%.

Finally, according to the IMF's World Economic Outlook (October 2017), growth rate projections for industrialized countries increase prospects of a US Federal Reserve interest rate increase. This would make Argentina's new debt issues more expensive, increasing the burden of future debt service and increasing capital flight from Argentina (in what is generally referred to as the "flight to safety").

The factors outlined above generate credible and troublesome doubts about the sustainability of the economic policies implemented by the Macri administration. While there are no signs of a major crisis in the short term (that is, before the 2019 presidential elections), there are good reasons to doubt that the current level of debt accumulation can be sustained to the end of a potential second Macri term (2023). In other words, there are good reasons to believe that Argentines will once again have to exercise their well-developed ability to navigate through yet another profound debt crisis. This is not solely the authors' opinion. In early November 2017 Standard & Poor's placed Argentina in a list of the five most fragile economies. [3] It looks like, once again, storm clouds are on the horizon.

Jim Haygood , January 5, 2018 at 11:02 am

'What are the main factors that call debt sustainability into question? First, capital flight.'

Capital flees Argentina whenever the opportunity arises because successive governments -- whether leftist or conservative -- refuse to control inflation and maintain a stable currency.

Since 2001, the Argentine peso has slid from one-to-one with the US dollar to about 19 to the dollar today. With Argentine inflation running in the low to mid twenties (according to INDEC and Price Stats), the peso can be expected to carry on weakening against the dollar indefinitely.

A hundred years during which the peso has lopped off thirteen (13) zeros owing to chronic inflation shows that Argentina is politically and culturally incapable of responsibly managing its own currency.

Argentines know this. Unfortunately, only the richer ones have assets they can move to safety outside the country. The hand-to-mouth poor will continue being ravaged by inflation, not to mention the large quantities of counterfeit pesos in circulation.

Letting Argentines play with fiat currency is like handing out loaded pistols to rowdy 5-year-olds. In both these sad cases, adult supervision is urgently needed.

Jon S , January 5, 2018 at 11:21 am

The grand history of Latin America: borrow billions of $$$ from U.S. banks, hand the money to the wealthy who immediately deposit it right back in American banks, and let the poor pay back the principal and interest. Hmmm . seems more and more the way this country is going.

Tim Smyth , January 5, 2018 at 11:53 am

The fixed exchange rate under Kirchner was totally unsustainable. One difference between Macri's neoliberalism and his predecessors is Macri is allowing much more of a floating currency than in the pre 2001 time period (We can debate how much it is actually is floating and clearly a lot of this debt issuance is for currency stabilization that I personally don't approve of).

Anonimo2 , January 5, 2018 at 1:05 pm

And who are the adults? Let me guess, bankers and bondholders?

Joel , January 5, 2018 at 2:12 pm

I'm not an expert in this at all, but in Peru, you could hold bank accounts in either national currency or dollars. The national currency accounts spared you currency exchange fees and also had higher interest rates. Most people who could hedged their bets by putting money in both accounts.

It seems like a happy medium between abandoning national currencies and letting savers get ravaged? No?

Wukchumni , January 5, 2018 at 11:14 am

While not as spectacular of a return as Bitcoin, but impressive nonetheless, the escape route for an Argentinean @ the turn of the century was the golden rule, an ounce of all that glitters was 300 pesos then and now around 25,000 pesos, a most excellent 'troy' horse.

MisterMr , January 5, 2018 at 11:31 am

So, is austerity good or is austerity bad? And in what conditions?

I'm for expansionary government expense (and direct government ownership of some industries, such as with an NHS) balanced by taxes on high incomes.

So in my view the problem happens when the government lowers taxes on the rich, as seems likely in this case.
On the other hand taxes on the rich are likely to cause capital flight.

a different chris , January 5, 2018 at 12:41 pm

So why did Macri get elected to do this? Yeah he didn't win by much, but he won.

>The hand-to-mouth poor will continue being ravaged by inflation

Which is freaking weird. Argentina has cropland. They have energy sources (and I won't bore everybody ok, I will with the observation that the Industrial Age is generously a 300/8000 year ratio part of human history).

And doesn't the below need some unpacking?:

>only the richer ones have assets they can move to safety outside the country

What are these assets? Why are said assets mobile? How did they come to "own" them? What percentage of the population is encompassed by "the richer ones" phrasing?

nonsense factory , January 5, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Question: why doesn't MMT thinking work for countries like Argentina?

As wikipedia notes:

"The key insight of MMT is that "monetarily sovereign government is the monopoly supplier of its currency and can issue currency of any denomination in physical or non-physical forms. As such the government has an unlimited capacity to pay for the things it wishes to purchase and to fulfill promised future payments, and has an unlimited ability to provide funds to the other sectors. Thus, insolvency and bankruptcy of this government is not possible. It can always pay."

Is this a general flaw in MMT? Does MMT only apply to dominant nation-states like the U.S., who can use foreign military and financial pressures to protect the currency, aka the petrodollar? Is the petrodollar a true 'fiat currency' or is it somehow based on control of commodities (especially oil)? Is there something peculiar about Argentina and other countries facing currency devaluation that MMT doesn't handle well? Any ideas on this?

JohnnyGL , January 5, 2018 at 6:21 pm

That wikipedia write up isn't wrong, but it could be better. Probably need to hammer home the point that the sovereign can always pay IN THE CURRENCY THAT IT ISSUES.

Most of the MMT related conversations on this site, and the posts that are written up on the subject are mostly about explaining how there are constraints that many people THINK exist in the USA, but don't actually exist, at least in economic terms (political constraints notwithstanding). A country cannot be forced to default on a currency it issues. If the USA had significant debts in EUR or JPY, then it'd be a very different conversation.

External constraints are a big deal for most countries, especially developing countries that depend on exports of primary commodities. Chile, for instance, is constrained by balance of payments problems when the price of copper declines. Also, developed countries that are relatively smaller have much more limited sovereignty. The Swiss Central Bank has to follow what the ECB does, to a large degree.

On the other hand, there's episodes where some countries have found room for maneuver when they give up their sovereign currency. I didn't expect that Ecuador's economy would perform quite as well as it has in recent years. But, they've shown that you can find ways to get creative to compensate for loss of monetary sovereignty. Of course, the fiscal constraints are real since Ecuador can't print USD.

Brazil's recent neoliberal turn was frustrating for a variety of reasons, but being a big, diverse economy, they've got more sovereignty than their neighbors. However, the business and political elites in Brazil decided to hammer through austerity (spending cuts and interest rate hikes) because they WANTED to, not because external forces made them do it.

No doubt an MMT prescription for Argentina would advice them to lay off the $ denominated debt and stick to pesos as much as possible. I'd imagine Stephanie Kelton or any of the UMKC crew would advise curtailing imports or doing some import substitution in order to take pressure off balance of payments issues. They'd also take a look at what was driving inflation domestically and try to find ways to relieve it with a targeted approach, instead of risking recession and unemployment. Neoliberal/Washington Consensus type economists would say hike interest rates, cut government spending in order to curtail demand. They'd argue that the private sector will make the best decisions about where to reign in spending to reduce inflation.

[Jan 05, 2018] Kissinger reportedly working on a deal with Russia: Crimea for East Ukraine.

Jan 05, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kissinger reportedly working on a deal with Russia: Crimea for East Ukraine.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/henry-kissinger-russia-trump-crimea-advises-latest-ukraine-a7497646.html

You think Russia loses the E. Ukraine as a buffer.

[Jan 03, 2018] When Putin Talks on Ukraine, It Is Worth Listening

Notable quotes:
"... Originally from: ..."
"... Ukraine. Putin's remarks on the state of affairs in Ukraine are, of course, wholly at odds with what Washington puts out on the subject. But they are not at odds with reality: Washington is. ..."
"... Those terms remain Putin's point of reference. They appear to remain the European Union's, too. Washington, which the Europeans and Russia excluded from the Minsk talks for the wisest of reasons, does not seem to have a point of reference, busy as it is pretending there is progress on the corruption front and that Kiev is not dependent on a frightening collection of militias, many of them led by neo–Nazi fanatics. ..."
"... These groups still present the threat of a massacre in the eastern provinces, as Putin reminded his audience. He spoke with notable ease of Russian assistance in those regions, suggesting this can end when they are capable of self-defense. ..."
Jan 03, 2018 | russia-insider.com
Originally from: When Putin Talks, It Is Worth Listening

Ukraine. Putin's remarks on the state of affairs in Ukraine are, of course, wholly at odds with what Washington puts out on the subject. But they are not at odds with reality: Washington is. As Putin calmly noted, the number-one obstacle to a settlement in Ukraine is, as it has been for three years come next February, the profoundly corrupt government installed in Kiev after the American-cultivated coup in 2014.

I say three years next February because it was then the settlement framework known as Minsk II (for the city where it was negotiated and signed) was put in place.

Those terms remain Putin's point of reference. They appear to remain the European Union's, too. Washington, which the Europeans and Russia excluded from the Minsk talks for the wisest of reasons, does not seem to have a point of reference, busy as it is pretending there is progress on the corruption front and that Kiev is not dependent on a frightening collection of militias, many of them led by neo–Nazi fanatics.

These groups still present the threat of a massacre in the eastern provinces, as Putin reminded his audience. He spoke with notable ease of Russian assistance in those regions, suggesting this can end when they are capable of self-defense.

We would do well to understand where the force of inertia lies in Ukraine. This was Putin's topic. A settlement in Ukraine remains possible via the framework fixed three years ago. Let us not forget this. Moscow has not deviated from Minsk II -- another point worth noting. The spoilers are in Kiev, and behind them are those in Washington, which continues to encourage the irresponsible behavior of the Poroshenko government and other Ukrainian elites.

[Jan 02, 2018] Neocon warmongers should be treated as rapists by Andrew J. Bacevich

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... What's puzzling is why that capacity for outrage and demand for accountability doesn't extend to our now well-established penchant for waging war across much of the planet. ..."
"... Compare their culpability to that of the high-ranking officials who have presided over or promoted this country's various military misadventures of the present century. Those wars have, of course, resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and will ultimately cost American taxpayers many trillions of dollars. Nor have those costly military efforts eliminated "terrorism," as President George W. Bush promised back when today's G.I.s were still in diapers. ..."
"... Bush told us that, through war, the United States would spread freedom and democracy. Instead, our wars have sown disorder and instability, creating failing or failed states across the Greater Middle East and Africa. In their wake have sprung up ever more, not fewer, jihadist groups, while acts of terror are soaring globally. These are indisputable facts. ..."
"... For starters, there is no "new strategy." Trump's generals, apparently with a nod from their putative boss, are merely modifying the old "strategy," which was itself an outgrowth of previous strategies tried, found wanting, and eventually discarded before being rebranded and eventually recycled. ..."
"... Thus far, Trump's interventionism has been a fragment of what the Hillary campaign promised. ..."
"... This is the center of a world empire. It maintains a gigantic military which virtually never stops fighting wars, none of them having anything to do with defense. It has created an intelligence monstrosity which makes old outfits like Stazi seem almost quaint, and it spies on everyone. Indeed, it maintains seventeen national security establishments, as though you can never have too much of a good thing. And some of these guys, too, are engaged full-time in forms of covert war, from fomenting trouble in other lands and interfering in elections to overthrowing governments. ..."
"... It's unlikely that the USA would be remaining in Afghanistan if its goals were not being attained. So the author has merely shown that the stated goals cannot be the real goals. What then are the real goals? I propose two: 1) establish a permanent military presence on a Russian border; 2) finance it with the heroin trade. Given other actions of the Empire around the globe, the first goal is obvious. The bombing of mud huts containing competitors' drug labs, conjoined with the fact that we do not destroy the actual poppy fields (obvious green targets in an immense ocean of brown) make this goal rather obvious as well. The rest of the article is simply more evidence that the Empire does not include mere human tragedy in its profit calculation. ..."
"... Andrew Bacevich calls for a Weinstein moment without realizing that it already happened more than ten years ago. The 2006 midterm elections were the first Weinstein moment, which saw the American people deliver a huge outpouring of antiwar sentiment that inflicted significant congressional losses on the neocon Republicans of George W. Bush. ..."
Dec 22, 2017 | www.unz.com

What makes a Harvey Weinstein moment? The now-disgraced Hollywood mogul is hardly the first powerful man to stand accused of having abused women. The Harveys who preceded Harvey himself are legion, their prominence matching or exceeding his own and the misdeeds with which they were charged at least as reprehensible.

In the relatively recent past, a roster of prominent offenders would include Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, and, of course, Donald Trump. Throw in various jocks, maestros, senior military officers, members of the professoriate and you end up with quite a list. Yet in virtually all such cases, the alleged transgressions were treated as instances of individual misconduct, egregious perhaps but possessing at best transitory political resonance.

All that, though, was pre-Harvey. As far as male sexual hijinks are concerned, we might compare Weinstein's epic fall from grace to the stock market crash of 1929: one week it's the anything-goes Roaring Twenties, the next we're smack dab in a Great Depression.

How profound is the change? Up here in Massachusetts where I live, we've spent the past year marking John F. Kennedy's 100th birthday. If Kennedy were still around to join in the festivities, it would be as a Class A sex offender. Rarely in American history has the cultural landscape shifted so quickly or so radically.

In our post-Harvey world, men charged with sexual misconduct are guilty until proven innocent, all crimes are capital offenses, and there exists no statute of limitations. Once a largely empty corporate slogan, "zero tolerance" has become a battle cry.

All of this serves as a reminder that, on some matters at least, the American people retain an admirable capacity for outrage. We can distinguish between the tolerable and the intolerable. And we can demand accountability of powerful individuals and institutions.

Everything They Need to Win (Again!)

What's puzzling is why that capacity for outrage and demand for accountability doesn't extend to our now well-established penchant for waging war across much of the planet.

In no way would I wish to minimize the pain, suffering, and humiliation of the women preyed upon by the various reprobates now getting their belated comeuppance. But to judge from published accounts, the women (and in some cases, men) abused by Weinstein, Louis C.K., Mark Halperin, Leon Wieseltier, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, my West Point classmate Judge Roy Moore, and their compadres at least managed to survive their encounters. None of the perpetrators are charged with having committed murder. No one died.

Compare their culpability to that of the high-ranking officials who have presided over or promoted this country's various military misadventures of the present century. Those wars have, of course, resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and will ultimately cost American taxpayers many trillions of dollars. Nor have those costly military efforts eliminated "terrorism," as President George W. Bush promised back when today's G.I.s were still in diapers.

Bush told us that, through war, the United States would spread freedom and democracy. Instead, our wars have sown disorder and instability, creating failing or failed states across the Greater Middle East and Africa. In their wake have sprung up ever more, not fewer, jihadist groups, while acts of terror are soaring globally. These are indisputable facts.

It discomfits me to reiterate this mournful litany of truths. I feel a bit like the doctor telling the lifelong smoker with stage-four lung cancer that an addiction to cigarettes is adversely affecting his health. His mute response: I know and I don't care. Nothing the doc says is going to budge the smoker from his habit. You go through the motions, but wonder why.

In a similar fashion, war has become a habit to which the United States is addicted. Except for the terminally distracted, most of us know that. We also know -- we cannot not know -- that, in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. forces have been unable to accomplish their assigned mission, despite more than 16 years of fighting in the former and more than a decade in the latter.

It's not exactly a good news story, to put it mildly. So forgive me for saying it ( yet again ), but most of us simply don't care, which means that we continue to allow a free hand to those who preside over those wars, while treating with respect the views of pundits and media personalities who persist in promoting them. What's past doesn't count; we prefer to sustain the pretense that tomorrow is pregnant with possibilities. Victory lies just around the corner.

By way of example, consider a recent article in U.S. News and World Report. The headline: "Victory or Failure in Afghanistan: 2018 Will Be the Deciding Year." The title suggests a balance absent from the text that follows, which reads like a Pentagon press release. Here in its entirety is the nut graf (my own emphasis added):

"Armed with a new strategy and renewed support from old allies, the Trump administration now believes it has everything it needs to win the war in Afghanistan. Top military advisers all the way up to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis say they can accomplish what two previous administrations and multiple troop surges could not: the defeat of the Taliban by Western-backed local forces, a negotiated peace and the establishment of a popularly supported government in Kabul capable of keeping the country from once again becoming a haven to any terrorist group."

Now if you buy this, you'll believe that Harvey Weinstein has learned his lesson and can be trusted to interview young actresses while wearing his bathrobe.

For starters, there is no "new strategy." Trump's generals, apparently with a nod from their putative boss, are merely modifying the old "strategy," which was itself an outgrowth of previous strategies tried, found wanting, and eventually discarded before being rebranded and eventually recycled.

Short of using nuclear weapons, U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan over the past decade and a half have experimented with just about every approach imaginable: invasion, regime change, occupation, nation-building, pacification, decapitation, counterterrorism, and counterinsurgency, not to mention various surges , differing in scope and duration. We have had a big troop presence and a smaller one, more bombing and less, restrictive rules of engagement and permissive ones. In the military equivalent of throwing in the kitchen sink, a U.S. Special Operations Command four-engine prop plane recently deposited the largest non-nuclear weapon in the American arsenal on a cave complex in eastern Afghanistan. Although that MOAB made a big boom, no offer of enemy surrender materialized.

$65 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars. And under the circumstances, consider that a mere down payment.

According to General John Nicholson, our 17th commander in Kabul since 2001, the efforts devised and implemented by his many predecessors have resulted in a "stalemate" -- a generous interpretation given that the Taliban presently controls more territory than it has held since the U.S. invasion. Officers no less capable than Nicholson himself, David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal among them, didn't get it done. Nicholson's argument: trust me.

In essence, the "new strategy" devised by Trump's generals, Secretary of Defense Mattis and Nicholson among them, amounts to this: persist a tad longer with a tad more. A modest uptick in the number of U.S. and allied troops on the ground will provide more trainers, advisers, and motivators to work with and accompany their Afghan counterparts in the field. The Mattis/Nicholson plan also envisions an increasing number of air strikes, signaled by the recent use of B-52s to attack illicit Taliban " drug labs ," a scenario that Stanley Kubrick himself would have been hard-pressed to imagine.

Notwithstanding the novelty of using strategic bombers to destroy mud huts, there's not a lot new here. Dating back to 2001, coalition forces have already dropped tens of thousands of bombs in Afghanistan. Almost as soon as the Taliban were ousted from Kabul, coalition efforts to create effective Afghan security forces commenced. So, too, did attempts to reduce the production of the opium that has funded the Taliban insurgency, alas with essentially no effect whatsoever . What Trump's generals want a gullible public (and astonishingly gullible and inattentive members of Congress) to believe is that this time they've somehow devised a formula for getting it right.

Turning the Corner

With his trademark capacity to intuit success, President Trump already sees clear evidence of progress. "We're not fighting anymore to just walk around," he remarked in his Thanksgiving message to the troops. "We're fighting to win. And you people [have] turned it around over the last three to four months like nobody has seen." The president, we may note, has yet to visit Afghanistan.

I'm guessing that the commander-in-chief is oblivious to the fact that, in U.S. military circles, the term winning has acquired notable elasticity. Trump may think that it implies vanquishing the enemy -- white flags and surrender ceremonies on the U.S.S. Missouri . General Nicholson knows better. "Winning," the field commander says , "means delivering a negotiated settlement that reduces the level of violence and protecting the homeland." (Take that definition at face value and we can belatedly move Vietnam into the win column!)

Should we be surprised that Trump's generals, unconsciously imitating General William Westmoreland a half-century ago, claim once again to detect light at the end of the tunnel? Not at all. Mattis and Nicholson (along with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster) are following the Harvey Weinstein playbook: keep doing it until they make you stop. Indeed, with what can only be described as chutzpah, Nicholson himself recently announced that we have " turned the corner " in Afghanistan. In doing so, of course, he is counting on Americans not to recall the various war managers, military and civilian alike, who have made identical claims going back years now, among them Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in 2012 .

From on high, assurances of progress; in the field, results that, year after year, come nowhere near what's promised; on the homefront, an astonishingly credulous public. The war in Afghanistan has long since settled into a melancholy and seemingly permanent rhythm.

The fact is that the individuals entrusted by President Trump to direct U.S. policy believe with iron certainty that difficult political problems will yield to armed might properly employed. That proposition is one to which generals like Mattis and Nicholson have devoted a considerable part of their lives, not just in Afghanistan but across much of the Islamic world. They are no more likely to question the validity of that proposition than the Pope is to entertain second thoughts about the divinity of Jesus Christ.

In Afghanistan, their entire worldview -- not to mention the status and clout of the officer corps they represent -- is at stake. No matter how long the war there lasts, no matter how many " generations " it takes, no matter how much blood is shed to no purpose, and no matter how much money is wasted, they will never admit to failure -- nor will any of the militarists-in-mufti cheering them on from the sidelines in Washington, Donald Trump not the least among them.

Meanwhile, the great majority of the American people, their attention directed elsewhere -- it's the season for holiday shopping, after all -- remain studiously indifferent to the charade being played out before their eyes.

It took a succession of high-profile scandals before Americans truly woke up to the plague of sexual harassment and assault. How long will it take before the public concludes that they have had enough of wars that don't work? Here's hoping it's before our president, in a moment of ill temper, unleashes " fire and fury " on the world.

Andrew J. Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular , is the author, most recently, of America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History .

anonymous , Disclaimer December 11, 2017 at 3:31 am GMT

It's astonishing to see people make the claim that "victory" is possible in Afghanistan. Could they actually believe this or are they lying in order to drag this out even longer and keep the money pit working overtime? These are individuals that are highly placed and so should know better. It's not really a war but an occupation with the native insurgents fighting to oust the foreign occupier. The US has tried every trick there is in trying to tamp down the insurgency. They know what we're trying to do and can thwart us at every step. The US lost even as it began it's invasion there but didn't know it yet in the wake of it's initial success in scattering the Taliban, not even a real army and not even a real state. They live there and we don't; they can resist for the next thirty years or fifty years. When does the multi-billion bill come due and how will we pay it?
Issac , December 12, 2017 at 4:07 am GMT
"How long will it take before the public concludes that they have had enough of wars that don't work?"

It already happened, but Progressives like you failed to note that Republican voters subbed the Bush clan and their various associates for Trump in the Primary season, precisely because he called the Iraq and Afghan wars mistakes. The Americans suffer under a two party establishment that is clearly antagonistic to their interests. As a part of that regime, a dutiful Progressive toad, you continue to peddle the lie that it was the war-weary White Americans who celebrated those wars. In reality, any such support was ginned up from tools like you who wrote puff pieces for their Neocon Progressive masters.

Thus far, Trump's interventionism has been a fragment of what the Hillary campaign promised. Might you count that among your lucky stars? Fat chance. You cretinous Progressive filth have no such spine upon which to base an independent thought. You trot out the same old tiresome tropes week after week fulfilling your designated propagandist duty and then you skulk back to your den of iniquity to prepare another salvo of agitprop. What a miserable existence.

USAMNESIA , December 14, 2017 at 3:32 am GMT
This is the center of a world empire. It maintains a gigantic military which virtually never stops fighting wars, none of them having anything to do with defense. It has created an intelligence monstrosity which makes old outfits like Stazi seem almost quaint, and it spies on everyone. Indeed, it maintains seventeen national security establishments, as though you can never have too much of a good thing. And some of these guys, too, are engaged full-time in forms of covert war, from fomenting trouble in other lands and interfering in elections to overthrowing governments.

Obama ended up killing more people than any dictator or demagogue of this generation on earth you care to name, several hundred thousand of them in his eight years. And he found new ways to kill, too, as by creating the world's first industrial-scale extrajudicial killing operation. Here he signs off on "kill lists," placed in his Oval Office in-box, to murder people he has never seen, people who enjoy no legal rights or protections. His signed orders are carried out by uniformed thugs working at computer screens in secure basements where they proceed to play computer games with real live humans as their targets, again killing or maiming people they have never seen.

If you ever have wondered where all the enabling workers came from in places like Stalin's Gulag or Hitler's concentration camps, well, here is your answer. American itself produces platoons of such people. You could find them working at Guantanamo and in the far-flung string of secret torture facilities the CIA ran for years, and you could find them in places like Fallujah or Samarra or Abu Ghraib, at the CIA's basement game arcade killing centers, and even all over the streets of America dressed as police who shoot unarmed people every day, sometimes in the back.

https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/john-chuckman-essay-of-wizards-and-washington-and-the-dreary-unrelenting-reality-of-american-politics-a-raw-and-sometimes-darkly-comic-survey-of-americas-treacherous-political-terrain/

nsa , December 18, 2017 at 5:36 am GMT
ZOG has now asserted the right to kill anyone, anywhere, anytime, for any reason. No trial, no hearing, no witnesses, no defense, no nothing. Is this actually legal? Any constitutional lawyers out there care to comment? Has ZOG now achieved the status of an all-powerful all-knowing deity with the power of life and death over all living things?
Waiting too , December 18, 2017 at 10:36 am GMT
It's unlikely that the USA would be remaining in Afghanistan if its goals were not being attained. So the author has merely shown that the stated goals cannot be the real goals. What then are the real goals? I propose two: 1) establish a permanent military presence on a Russian border; 2) finance it with the heroin trade. Given other actions of the Empire around the globe, the first goal is obvious. The bombing of mud huts containing competitors' drug labs, conjoined with the fact that we do not destroy the actual poppy fields (obvious green targets in an immense ocean of brown) make this goal rather obvious as well. The rest of the article is simply more evidence that the Empire does not include mere human tragedy in its profit calculation.
War for Blair Mountain , December 18, 2017 at 1:09 pm GMT
5.6 TRILLION $$$$$$ FOR GULF WAR 1 AND GULF WAR 2

The Native Born White American Working Class Teenage Male Population used as CANNON FODDER for Congressman Steven Solarz's and Donald Trump's very precious Jewish only Israel .

WAR IS A RACKET!!!! don't you think?

DESERT FOX , December 18, 2017 at 1:43 pm GMT
Israel and the deep state did the attack on 911 and thus set the table for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya and Syria and the Zionist neocons who control every facet of the U.S. gov and the MSM and the MIC and the FED ie the BANKS set in motion the blood sacrifice for their Zionist god SATAN, that is what they have done.

The Zionist warmongers and Satanists will destroy America.

Michael Kenny , December 18, 2017 at 2:17 pm GMT
It's not so much that America is addicted to war as that the American "business model" makes permanent war inevitable. US global dominance rests on economic domination, in particular, the dollar as world reserve currency. That has allowed the US economy to survive in spite of being hollowed out, financialised and burdened with enormous sovereign debt. Economic dominance derives from political dominance, which, in its turn, flows from military dominance. For that military dominance to be credible, not only must the US have the biggest and best military forces on the planet, it must show itself willing to use those forces to maintain its dominance by actually using them from time to time, in particular, to unequivocally beat off any challenge to its dominance (Putin!). It also, of course, must win, or, more correctly, be able to present the outcome credibly as a win. Failure to maintain military dominance will undermine the position of the dollar, sending its value through the floor. A low dollar means cheap exports (Boeing will sell more planes than Airbus!), but it also means that imports (oil, outsourced goods) will be dear. At that point the hollowed out nature of the US economy will cut in, probably provoking a Soviet-style implosion of the US economy and society and ruining anyone who has holdings denominated in dollars. I call that the Gorbachev conundrum. Gorby believed in the Soviet Union and wanted to reform it. But the Soviet system had become so rigid as to be unreformable. He pulled a threat and the whole system unravelled. But if he hadn't pulled the thread, the whole system would have unravelled anyway. It was a choice between hard landing and harder landing. Similarly, US leaders have to continue down the only road open to them: permanent war. As Thomas Jefferson said of slavery, it's like holding a wolf by the ears. You don't like it but you don't dare let go!
TG , December 18, 2017 at 2:36 pm GMT
"How long will it take before the public concludes that they have had enough of wars that don't work?" Answer: Never.

In Alabama when people would rant about how toxic Roy Moore was, I would politely point out that his opponent for Senate was OK with spending trillions of dollars fighting pointless winless wars on the other side of the planet just so politically connected defense contractors can make a buck, and ask if that should be an issue too? The response, predictably, was as if I was an alien from the planet Skyron in the galaxy of Andromeda.

We are sheep. We are outraged at these sexual transgressions because the corporate press tells us to be outraged. We are not outraged at these stupid foreign wars, because the corporate press does not tell us to be outraged. It's all mass effect, and the comfort of being in a herd and all expressing the same feelings.

Intelligent Dasein , Website December 18, 2017 at 2:37 pm GMT
Andrew Bacevich is wrong about a couple of things in this article.

First, he says that the American public is both apathetic and credulous. I agree that we have largely become apathetic towards these imperial wars, but I disagree that we have become credulous. In fact, these two states of mind exclude one another; you cannot be both apathetic and credulous with respect to the same object at the same time. The credulity charge is easy to dismiss because virtually no one today believes anything that comes out of Washington or its mouthpieces in the legacy media. The apathy charge is on point but it needs qualification. The smarter, more informed Americans have seen that their efforts to change the course of American policy have been to no avail, and they've given up in frustration and disgust. The less smart, less informed Americans are constrained by the necessity of getting on with their meager lives; they are an apolitical mass that possesses neither the understanding nor the capacity to make any difference on the policy front whatsoever.

Second, Andrew Bacevich calls for a Weinstein moment without realizing that it already happened more than ten years ago. The 2006 midterm elections were the first Weinstein moment, which saw the American people deliver a huge outpouring of antiwar sentiment that inflicted significant congressional losses on the neocon Republicans of George W. Bush. An echo of that groundswell happened again in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected to office on an explicitly antiwar platform. But Obama turned out to be one of the most pro-war presidents ever, and thus an angry electorate made one final push in the same direction by attempting to clean house with Donald Trump. Now that Donald has shown every sign of having cucked out to the war lobby, we seem to be left with no electoral solutions.

The only thing that's going to work is for the American Imperium to be handed a much-deserved military and financial defeat. The one encouraging fact is that if the top ten percent of our political and financial elite were planed off by a foreign power, the American people would give as few damns about that as they currently do about our imperial wars.

Ilyana_Rozumova , December 18, 2017 at 3:04 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny

Very good but some little errors. Concerning Russia and China, Russia vent all or nothing. China was much smarter. First they allowed self employment, than small business and long time after they started to sell state enterprises,

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 18, 2017 at 3:17 pm GMT
If Tom's Dispatch continues to be successful, Americans will continue to be asleep.

Masterful propaganda. War, according to our favorite spooks, is necessary to win, but otherwise reprehensible.

Sex is otherwise necessary for human life but Harvey Weinstein is ugly. Hold tightly to your cognitive dissonance, because you're expected to remember John F Kennedy who got it on, but is the expendable martyr you should care about, not that other guy

Let's review: terror attacks are wins. Superior or effective anti-war propaganda comes from the military
itself. They really don't want war, but really they do.

nebulafox , December 18, 2017 at 4:00 pm GMT
@anonymous

We're trying to make Afghanistan not Afghanistan: aka, trying to be a miracle worker. We can throw as much money as we like at that place, and it isn't going to happen, least of all with troops on nine month shifts.

Let Iran and Pakistan squabble over it. Good riddance.

nebulafox , December 18, 2017 at 4:08 pm GMT
@Waiting too

1) doesn't really make much sense, given that Poland and the Baltic States would be more than happy to take all US forces in Europe to give us a presence near Russia in a part of the world that would be far easier to justify to the American public-and to the international community. Afghanistan? Who exactly is Russia going to mess with? Iran is their-for now, longer term, the two have conflicting agendas in the region, but don't expect the geniuses in the Beltway to pick up on that opportunity-ally, and unlike the USSR, the Russians don't want to get involved in the India-Pakistan conflict. Russia's current tilt toward China makes a strategic marriage with India of the kind that you found in the Cold War impossible, but they obviously don't want to tilt toward the basketcase known as Pakistan. The only reason that Russia would want to get involved with Afghanistan beyond having a more preferable status than having American troops there is power projection among ex-Soviet states, and there are far more effective ways to do than muddle about with Afghanistan.

2, on the other hand, given Iran-Contra who knows? The first generation of the Taliban pretty much wiped the heroin trade out as offensive to Islamic sensibilities, but the newer generations have no such qualms.

I think you give America's rulers far too much credit. The truth is probably far scarier: the morons who work in the Beltway honestly believe their own propaganda-that we can make Afghanistan into some magical Western democracy if we throw enough money at it-and combine that with the usual bureaucratic inertia.

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 18, 2017 at 4:28 pm GMT
@Waiting too

Another bonus is that Afghan heroin seeps into Russia and wreaks havoc in the regions bordering Afghanistan -- krokodil and all that.

Art , December 18, 2017 at 4:45 pm GMT
According to General John Nicholson, our 17th commander in Kabul since 2001,

We have been killing these people for 17 years. Now our generals say that if we indiscriminately kill enough men, women, and children who get in the way of our B52s, that they will see the light and make peace. How totally wonderful.

My solution is to gage the Lindsey Grahams for a year.

What will do more good for peace – B52s or shutting up Graham's elk?

Think Peace -- Art

MarkinLA , December 18, 2017 at 5:59 pm GMT
I remember when Trump said he knew more than the generals and was viciously attacked for it. It turns out he did know more than the generals just by knowing it was a waste. Trump was pushed by politics to defer to the generals who always have an answer when it comes to a war – more men, more weapons, more time.
Sollipsist , December 18, 2017 at 6:20 pm GMT
@Intelligent Dasein

"The less smart, less informed Americans are constrained by the necessity of getting on with their meager lives; they are an apolitical mass that possesses neither the understanding nor the capacity to make any difference on the policy front whatsoever."

I wonder if any Abolitionists criticized the slaves for failing to revolt? Probably not; I'm guessing they were mostly convinced that the negro required intervention from outside, whether due to their nature or from overwhelming circumstance.

If the enslaved American public is liberated, I hope we'll know what to do with ourselves afterwards. It'd be a shame to simply end up in another kind of bondage, resentful and subject to whatever oppressive system replaces the current outrage. Perhaps the next one will more persuasively convince us that we're important and essential?

peterAUS , December 18, 2017 at 6:46 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny

Agree.
Very good post, IMHO.

That phrase "a choice between hard landing and harder landing" is good and can be easily applied to USA today.

Interesting times.

peterAUS , December 18, 2017 at 6:47 pm GMT
@TG

Agree.
This is well written, IMHO:

We are sheep. We are outraged at these sexual transgressions because the corporate press tells us to be outraged. We are not outraged at these stupid foreign wars, because the corporate press does not tell us to be outraged. It's all mass effect, and the comfort of being in a herd and all expressing the same feelings.

Sowhat , December 18, 2017 at 7:29 pm GMT
Thank you, Andrew J. Bacevich, for your words of wisdom and thank you, Mr. Unz, for this post.
This corporation needs to be dissolved. I've read about "the inertia" of Federal Government that has morphed into a cash cow for a century of wasted tax dollars funding the MIIC, now the MIIC. Does our existence have to end in financial ruin or, worse yet, some foreign entity creating havoc on our soil?
The Founders NEVER intended that the US of A become a meddler in other Sovereignty's internal affairs or the destroyer of Nation States that do not espoused our "doctrine." Anyone without poop for brains knows that this is about Imperialism and greed, fueled by money and an insatiable luster for MORE.
This should be easier to change than it appears. Is there no will? After all, it Is our Master's money that lubricates the machinery. So, we continue to provide the lubrication for our Masters like a bunch of imbeciles that allow them to survail our words and movements. Somebody please explain our stupidity.
Delinquent Snail , December 18, 2017 at 8:57 pm GMT
@nebulafox

If americans would just go all in and commit genocide. That would lead to victory.

No afgans, no enemy.

joe webb , December 18, 2017 at 8:58 pm GMT
the folks in the US are sick of the wars, contrary to Bacevich. They simply will vote come next election accordingly. They register their disgust in all the polls.

This article is not very useful. More punditry puff.

No comments on the Next War for Israel being cooked up by the new crop of neocon youngsters, I guess, and Trump who will trump, trump, trump into the next War for the Jews.

How about some political science on Iran, Syria, Hisbollah, Hamas and the US, Arabia, Judenstaat axis of evil?

Joe Webb

Jim Christian , December 18, 2017 at 9:07 pm GMT
Hey Bacevich? When you link to WashPost and NYTimes to make your points, you don't. They block access if you've already read links to those two papers three times each and can no longer, for the month, read there. When folks link to papers that won't let you read, it makes one wonder why.
Simply Simon , December 18, 2017 at 10:26 pm GMT
I believe Americans are damned sick and tired of the stupid, needless war in Afghanistan. But then they should have been sick and tired of stupid , needless wars like Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, and probably most of them were. But it's easy to be complacent when someone else's son is doing the fighting and dying And it's easy to be complacent when your stomach is full and you have plenty of booze and pain killers available. There will be a day of reckoning when the next big economic bust arrives and which may make the Great Depression paltry by comparison. America is a far different place then it was in the 1930s when our population was 140 million. Americans were not so soft and the conveniences we now take for granted not available. When the supermarkets run out of food, watch out. There may not even be any soup lines to stand in.
Joe Franklin , December 18, 2017 at 11:21 pm GMT

In truth, U.S. commanders have quietly shelved any expectations of achieving an actual victory -- traditionally defined as "imposing your will on the enemy" -- in favor of a more modest conception of success.

Your assumptions are wrong about the US goal of the invasion of Afghanistan. Afghanistan and Iraq were not invaded to establish democracy or impose American will whatever that is. Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded to establish a temporary military staging ground for a US invasion of Iran, the designated regional enemy of Israel. As long as the current regime in Iran remains, the US will remain in Iraq and Afghanistan.

... ... ...

Druid , December 19, 2017 at 12:41 am GMT
@Waiting too

And minerals! Eric Prince himself recently tried to sell the idea of having his private militias do the fighting in Afghanistan for the US and finance it by mining said country's minerals, thus making himself even richer.

anno nimus , December 19, 2017 at 1:53 am GMT
"i can live without a friend, but not without an enemy."
Cloak And Dagger , December 19, 2017 at 5:03 am GMT
@SolontoCroesus

I was onboard with Mr. Bacevich, until I got to this:

Almost as soon as the Taliban were ousted from Kabul, coalition efforts to create effective Afghan security forces commenced. So, too, did attempts to reduce the production of the opium that has funded the Taliban insurgency

What utter rubbish! The Taliban was instrumental in shutting down the poppy production until the CIA came along and restarted it to fund their black ops.

http://www.sfaw.org/newswire/2017/03/28/a-conspiracy-theory-that-became-a-conspiracy-fact-the-cia-afghanistans-poppy-fields-and-americas-growing-heroin-epidemic/

We have the reverse Midas touch. Everything we touch (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, etc., etc.) turns to shit. We supposedly attack countries to liberate them from their tyrants who are supposedly killing their own people, and end up killing more people than all of them put together. And, oh yes, we have our favorite tyrants (Saudis, Israelis) whom we provide with horrible weapons (like cluster bombs) to help them kill people we hate.

Mr. Bacevich is right about the lack of outrage about our wars, but the current Weinstein explosion consists of hordes of mostly American female victims, mostly white, a (very) few jews, and a few men, who have the stage to complain about their oppressors. What would be the counterpart of that w.r.t. the wars? Millions of brown victims in far away lands that most of us couldn't even find on a map? How likely is that to happen?

So yes, no outrage, and none likely. The last 17 years have proven that.

Joe Wong , December 20, 2017 at 2:25 pm GMT
@anonymous

You don't know the American has been paying everything through monopoly money printed through the thin air since WWI, i.e. a keystroke on the Federal Reserve's computer? No wonder the Americans have been waging reckless wars all over the world on the fabricated phantom WMD allegations as humanitarian intervention relentlessly.

Romans did not stop waging reckless wars until their empire collapsed; the British imitates the Romans and the American is born out of the British, hence the Americans will no stop waging reckless wars until their empire collapsed like the Romans.

[Dec 31, 2017] How America Spreads Global Chaos by Nicolas J.S. Davies

Highly recommended!
Essentially CIA dictates the US foreign policy. The tail is wagging the dog. The current Russophobia hysteria mean additional billions for CIA and FBI. As simple as that.
The article contain some important observation about self-sustaining nature of the US militarism. It is able to create new threats and new insurgencies almost at will via CIA activities.
The key problem is that wars are highly profitable for important part of the ruling elite, especially representing finance and military industrial complex. Also now part of the US ruling elite now consists of "colonial administrators" which are directly interested in maintaining and expanding the US empire. This is trap from which nation might not be able to escape.
Notable quotes:
"... The U.S. government may pretend to respect a "rules-based" global order, but the only rule Washington seems to follow is "might makes right" -- and the CIA has long served as a chief instigator and enforcer, writes Nicolas J.S. Davies. ..."
"... Once the CIA went to work in Vietnam to undermine the 1954 Geneva Accords and the planned reunification of North and South through a free and fair election in 1956, the die was cast. ..."
"... No U.S. president could extricate the U.S. from Vietnam without exposing the limits of what U.S. military force could achieve, betraying widely held national myths and the powerful interests that sustained and profited from them. ..."
"... The critical "lesson of Vietnam" was summed up by Richard Barnet in his 1972 book Roots of War . "At the very moment that the number one nation has perfected the science of killing," Barnet wrote, "It has become an impractical means of political domination." ..."
"... Even the senior officer corps of the U.S. military saw it that way, since many of them had survived the horrors of Vietnam as junior officers. The CIA could still wreak havoc in Latin America and elsewhere, but the full destructive force of the U.S. military was not unleashed again until the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the First Gulf War in 1991. ..."
"... Half a century after Vietnam, we have tragically come full circle. With the CIA's politicized intelligence running wild in Washington and its covert operations spreading violence and chaos across every continent, President Trump faces the same pressures to maintain his own and his country's credibility as Johnson and Nixon did. ..."
"... Trump is facing these questions, not just in one country, Vietnam, but in dozens of countries across the world, and the interests perpetuating and fueling this cycle of crisis and war have only become more entrenched over time, as President Eisenhower warned that they would, despite the end of the Cold War and, until now, the lack of any actual military threat to the United States. ..."
"... U.S. Air Force Colonel Fletcher Prouty was the chief of special operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1955 to 1964, managing the global military support system for the CIA in Vietnam and around the world. Fletcher Prouty's book, The Secret Team: The CIA and its Allies in Control of the United States and the World , was suppressed when it was first published in 1973. Thousands of copies disappeared from bookstores and libraries, and a mysterious Army Colonel bought the entire shipment of 3,500 copies the publisher sent to Australia. But Prouty's book was republished in 2011, and it is a timely account of the role of the CIA in U.S. policy. ..."
"... The main purpose of the CIA, as Prouty saw it, is to create such pretexts for war. ..."
"... The CIA is a hybrid of an intelligence service that gathers and analyzes foreign intelligence and a clandestine service that conducts covert operations. Both functions are essential to creating pretexts for war, and that is what they have done for 70 years. ..."
"... Prouty described how the CIA infiltrated the U.S. military, the State Department, the National Security Council and other government institutions, covertly placing its officers in critical positions to ensure that its plans are approved and that it has access to whatever forces, weapons, equipment, ammunition and other resources it needs to carry them out. ..."
"... Many retired intelligence officers, such as Ray McGovern and the members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), saw the merging of clandestine operations with intelligence analysis in one agency as corrupting the objective analysis they tried to provide to policymakers. They formed VIPS in 2003 in response to the fabrication of politicized intelligence that provided false pretexts for the U.S. to invade and destroy Iraq. ..."
"... But Fletcher Prouty was even more disturbed by the way that the CIA uses clandestine operations to trigger coups, wars and chaos. The civil and proxy war in Syria is a perfect example of what Prouty meant ..."
"... The role of U.S. "counterterrorism" operations in fueling armed resistance and terrorism, and the absence of any plan to reduce the asymmetric violence unleashed by the "global war on terror," would be no surprise to Fletcher Prouty. As he explained, such clandestine operations always take on a life of their own that is unrelated, and often counter-productive, to any rational U.S. policy objective. ..."
"... This is a textbook CIA operation on the same model as Vietnam in the late 1950s and early 60s. The CIA uses U.S. special forces and training missions to launch covert and proxy military operations that drive local populations into armed resistance groups, and then uses the presence of those armed resistance groups to justify ever-escalating U.S. military involvement. This is Vietnam redux on a continental scale. ..."
"... China is already too big and powerful for the U.S. to apply what is known as the Ledeen doctrine named for neoconservative theorist and intelligence operative Michael Ledeen who suggested that every 10 years or so, the United States "pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business." ..."
"... As long as the CIA and the U.S. military keep plunging the scapegoats for our failed policies into economic crisis, violence and chaos, the United States and the United Kingdom can remain the safe havens of the world's wealth, islands of privilege and excess amidst the storms they unleash on others. ..."
"... But if that is the only "significant national objective" driving these policies, it is surely about time for the 99 percent of Americans who reap no benefit from these murderous schemes to stop the CIA and its allies before they completely wreck the already damaged and fragile world in which we all must live, Americans and foreigners alike. ..."
"... Douglas Valentine has probably studied the CIA in more depth than any other American journalist, beginning with his book on The Phoenix Program in Vietnam. He has written a new book titled The CIA as Organized Crime : How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World, in which he brings Fletcher Prouty's analysis right up to the present day, describing the CIA's role in our current wars and the many ways it infiltrates, manipulates and controls U.S. policy. ..."
"... In Venezuela, the CIA and the right-wing opposition are following the same strategy that President Nixon ordered the CIA to inflict on Chile, to "make the economy scream" in preparation for the 1973 coup. ..."
"... The U.S. willingness to scrap the Agreed Framework in 2003, the breakdown of the Six Party Talks in 2009 and the U.S. refusal to acknowledge that its own military actions and threats create legitimate defense concerns for North Korea have driven the North Koreans into a corner from which they see a credible nuclear deterrent as their only chance to avoid mass destruction. ..."
"... Obama's charm offensive invigorated old and new military alliances with the U.K., France and the Arab monarchies, and he quietly ran up the most expensive military budge t of any president since World War Two. ..."
"... Throughout history, serial aggression has nearly always provoked increasingly united opposition, as peace-loving countries and people have reluctantly summoned the courage to stand up to an aggressor. France under Napoleon and Hitler's Germany also regarded themselves as exceptional, and in their own ways they were. But in the end, their belief in their exceptionalism led them on to defeat and destruction. ..."
Oct 30, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

The U.S. government may pretend to respect a "rules-based" global order, but the only rule Washington seems to follow is "might makes right" -- and the CIA has long served as a chief instigator and enforcer, writes Nicolas J.S. Davies.

As the recent PBS documentary on the American War in Vietnam acknowledged, few American officials ever believed that the United States could win the war, neither those advising Johnson as he committed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, nor those advising Nixon as he escalated a brutal aerial bombardment that had already killed millions of people.

As conversations tape-recorded in the White House reveal, and as other writers have documented, the reasons for wading into the Big Muddy, as Pete Seeger satirized it , and then pushing on regardless, all came down to "credibility": the domestic political credibility of the politicians involved and America's international credibility as a military power.

Once the CIA went to work in Vietnam to undermine the 1954 Geneva Accords and the planned reunification of North and South through a free and fair election in 1956, the die was cast. The CIA's support for the repressive Diem regime and its successors ensured an ever-escalating war, as the South rose in rebellion, supported by the North. No U.S. president could extricate the U.S. from Vietnam without exposing the limits of what U.S. military force could achieve, betraying widely held national myths and the powerful interests that sustained and profited from them.

The critical "lesson of Vietnam" was summed up by Richard Barnet in his 1972 book Roots of War . "At the very moment that the number one nation has perfected the science of killing," Barnet wrote, "It has become an impractical means of political domination."

Even the senior officer corps of the U.S. military saw it that way, since many of them had survived the horrors of Vietnam as junior officers. The CIA could still wreak havoc in Latin America and elsewhere, but the full destructive force of the U.S. military was not unleashed again until the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the First Gulf War in 1991.

Half a century after Vietnam, we have tragically come full circle. With the CIA's politicized intelligence running wild in Washington and its covert operations spreading violence and chaos across every continent, President Trump faces the same pressures to maintain his own and his country's credibility as Johnson and Nixon did. His predictable response has been to escalate ongoing wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and West Africa, and to threaten new ones against North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.

Trump is facing these questions, not just in one country, Vietnam, but in dozens of countries across the world, and the interests perpetuating and fueling this cycle of crisis and war have only become more entrenched over time, as President Eisenhower warned that they would, despite the end of the Cold War and, until now, the lack of any actual military threat to the United States.

Ironically but predictably, the U.S.'s aggressive and illegal war policy has finally provoked a real military threat to the U.S., albeit one that has emerged only in response to U.S. war plans. As I explained in a recent article , North Korea's discovery in 2016 of a U.S. plan to assassinate its president, Kim Jong Un, and launch a Second Korean War has triggered a crash program to develop long-range ballistic missiles that could give North Korea a viable nuclear deterrent and prevent a U.S. attack. But the North Koreans will not feel safe from attack until their leaders and ours are sure that their missiles can deliver a nuclear strike against the U.S. mainland.

The CIA's Pretexts for War

U.S. Air Force Colonel Fletcher Prouty was the chief of special operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1955 to 1964, managing the global military support system for the CIA in Vietnam and around the world. Fletcher Prouty's book, The Secret Team: The CIA and its Allies in Control of the United States and the World , was suppressed when it was first published in 1973. Thousands of copies disappeared from bookstores and libraries, and a mysterious Army Colonel bought the entire shipment of 3,500 copies the publisher sent to Australia. But Prouty's book was republished in 2011, and it is a timely account of the role of the CIA in U.S. policy.

Prouty surprisingly described the role of the CIA as a response by powerful people and interests to the abolition of the U.S. Department of War and the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947. Once the role of the U.S. military was redefined as one of defense, in line with the United Nations Charter's prohibition against the threat or use of military force in 1945 and similar moves by other military powers, it would require some kind of crisis or threat to justify using military force in the future, both legally and politically. The main purpose of the CIA, as Prouty saw it, is to create such pretexts for war.

The CIA is a hybrid of an intelligence service that gathers and analyzes foreign intelligence and a clandestine service that conducts covert operations. Both functions are essential to creating pretexts for war, and that is what they have done for 70 years.

Prouty described how the CIA infiltrated the U.S. military, the State Department, the National Security Council and other government institutions, covertly placing its officers in critical positions to ensure that its plans are approved and that it has access to whatever forces, weapons, equipment, ammunition and other resources it needs to carry them out.

Many retired intelligence officers, such as Ray McGovern and the members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), saw the merging of clandestine operations with intelligence analysis in one agency as corrupting the objective analysis they tried to provide to policymakers. They formed VIPS in 2003 in response to the fabrication of politicized intelligence that provided false pretexts for the U.S. to invade and destroy Iraq.

CIA in Syria and Africa

But Fletcher Prouty was even more disturbed by the way that the CIA uses clandestine operations to trigger coups, wars and chaos. The civil and proxy war in Syria is a perfect example of what Prouty meant. In late 2011, after destroying Libya and aiding in the torture-murder of Muammar Gaddafi, the CIA and its allies began flying fighters and weapons from Libya to Turkey and infiltrating them into Syria. Then, working with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Croatia and other allies, this operation poured thousands of tons of weapons across Syria's borders to ignite and fuel a full-scale civil war.

Once these covert operations were under way, they ran wild until they had unleashed a savage Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria (Jabhat al-Nusra, now rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), spawned the even more savage "Islamic State," triggered the heaviest and probably the deadliest U.S. bombing campaign since Vietnam and drawn Russia, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Hezbollah, Kurdish militias and almost every state or armed group in the Middle East into the chaos of Syria's civil war.

Meanwhile, as Al Qaeda and Islamic State have expanded their operations across Africa, the U.N. has published a report titled Journey to Extremism in Africa: Drivers, Incentives and the Tipping Point for Recruitment , based on 500 interviews with African militants. This study has found that the kind of special operations and training missions the CIA and AFRICOM are conducting and supporting in Africa are in fact the critical "tipping point" that drives Africans to join militant groups like Al Qaeda, Al-Shabab and Boko Haram.

The report found that government action, such as the killing or detention of friends or family, was the "tipping point" that drove 71 percent of African militants interviewed to join armed groups, and that this was a more important factor than religious ideology.

The conclusions of Journey to Extremism in Africa confirm the findings of other similar studies. The Center for Civilians in Conflict interviewed 250 civilians who joined armed groups in Bosnia, Somalia, Gaza and Libya for its 2015 study, The People's Perspectives : Civilian Involvement in Armed Conflict . The study found that the most common motivation for civilians to join armed groups was simply to protect themselves or their families.

The role of U.S. "counterterrorism" operations in fueling armed resistance and terrorism, and the absence of any plan to reduce the asymmetric violence unleashed by the "global war on terror," would be no surprise to Fletcher Prouty. As he explained, such clandestine operations always take on a life of their own that is unrelated, and often counter-productive, to any rational U.S. policy objective.

"The more intimate one becomes with this activity," Prouty wrote, "The more one begins to realize that such operations are rarely, if ever, initiated from an intent to become involved in pursuit of some national objective in the first place."

The U.S. justifies the deployment of 6,000 U.S. special forces and military trainers to 53 of the 54 countries in Africa as a response to terrorism. But the U.N.'s Journey to Extremism in Africa study makes it clear that the U.S. militarization of Africa is in fact the "tipping point" that is driving Africans across the continent to join armed resistance groups in the first place.

This is a textbook CIA operation on the same model as Vietnam in the late 1950s and early 60s. The CIA uses U.S. special forces and training missions to launch covert and proxy military operations that drive local populations into armed resistance groups, and then uses the presence of those armed resistance groups to justify ever-escalating U.S. military involvement. This is Vietnam redux on a continental scale.

Taking on China

What seems to really be driving the CIA's militarization of U.S. policy in Africa is China's growing influence on the continent. As Steve Bannon put it in an interview with the Economist in August, "Let's go screw up One Belt One Road."

China is already too big and powerful for the U.S. to apply what is known as the Ledeen doctrine named for neoconservative theorist and intelligence operative Michael Ledeen who suggested that every 10 years or so, the United States "pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business."

China is too powerful and armed with nuclear weapons. So, in this case, the CIA's job would be to spread violence and chaos to disrupt Chinese trade and investment, and to make African governments increasingly dependent on U.S. military aid to fight the militant groups spawned and endlessly regenerated by U.S.-led "counterterrorism" operations.

Neither Ledeen nor Bannon pretend that such policies are designed to build more prosperous or viable societies in the Middle East or Africa, let alone to benefit their people. They both know very well what Richard Barnet already understood 45 years ago, that America's unprecedented investment in weapons, war and CIA covert operations are only good for one thing: to kill people and destroy infrastructure, reducing cities to rubble, societies to chaos and the desperate survivors to poverty and displacement.

As long as the CIA and the U.S. military keep plunging the scapegoats for our failed policies into economic crisis, violence and chaos, the United States and the United Kingdom can remain the safe havens of the world's wealth, islands of privilege and excess amidst the storms they unleash on others.

But if that is the only "significant national objective" driving these policies, it is surely about time for the 99 percent of Americans who reap no benefit from these murderous schemes to stop the CIA and its allies before they completely wreck the already damaged and fragile world in which we all must live, Americans and foreigners alike.

Douglas Valentine has probably studied the CIA in more depth than any other American journalist, beginning with his book on The Phoenix Program in Vietnam. He has written a new book titled The CIA as Organized Crime : How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World, in which he brings Fletcher Prouty's analysis right up to the present day, describing the CIA's role in our current wars and the many ways it infiltrates, manipulates and controls U.S. policy.

The Three Scapegoats

In Trump's speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he named North Korea, Iran and Venezuela as his prime targets for destabilization, economic warfare and, ultimately, the overthrow of their governments, whether by coup d'etat or the mass destruction of their civilian population and infrastructure. But Trump's choice of scapegoats for America's failures was obviously not based on a rational reassessment of foreign policy priorities by the new administration. It was only a tired rehashing of the CIA's unfinished business with two-thirds of Bush's "axis of evil" and Bush White House official Elliott Abrams' failed 2002 coup in Caracas, now laced with explicit and illegal threats of aggression.

How Trump and the CIA plan to sacrifice their three scapegoats for America's failures remains to be seen. This is not 2001, when the world stood silent at the U.S. bombardment and invasion of Afghanistan after September 11th. It is more like 2003, when the U.S. destruction of Iraq split the Atlantic alliance and alienated most of the world. It is certainly not 2011, after Obama's global charm offensive had rebuilt U.S. alliances and provided cover for French President Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Cameron, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Arab royals to destroy Libya, once ranked by the U.N. as the most developed country in Africa , now mired in intractable chaos.

In 2017, a U.S. attack on any one of Trump's scapegoats would isolate the United States from many of its allies and undermine its standing in the world in far-reaching ways that might be more permanent and harder to repair than the invasion and destruction of Iraq.

In Venezuela, the CIA and the right-wing opposition are following the same strategy that President Nixon ordered the CIA to inflict on Chile, to "make the economy scream" in preparation for the 1973 coup. But the solid victory of Venezuela's ruling Socialist Party in recent nationwide gubernatorial elections, despite a long and deep economic crisis, reveals little public support for the CIA's puppets in Venezuela.

The CIA has successfully discredited the Venezuelan government through economic warfare, increasingly violent right-wing street protests and a global propaganda campaign. But the CIA has stupidly hitched its wagon to an extreme right-wing, upper-class opposition that has no credibility with most of the Venezuelan public, who still turn out for the Socialists at the polls. A CIA coup or U.S. military intervention would meet fierce public resistance and damage U.S. relations all over Latin America.

Boxing In North Korea

A U.S. aerial bombardment or "preemptive strike" on North Korea could quickly escalate into a war between the U.S. and China, which has reiterated its commitment to North Korea's defense if North Korea is attacked. We do not know exactly what was in the U.S. war plan discovered by North Korea, so neither can we know how North Korea and China could respond if the U.S. pressed ahead with it.

Most analysts have long concluded that any U.S. attack on North Korea would be met with a North Korean artillery and missile barrage that would inflict unacceptable civilian casualties on Seoul, a metropolitan area of 26 million people, three times the population of New York City. Seoul is only 35 miles from the frontier with North Korea, placing it within range of a huge array of North Korean weapons. What was already a no-win calculus is now compounded by the possibility that North Korea could respond with nuclear weapons, turning any prospect of a U.S. attack into an even worse nightmare.

U.S. mismanagement of its relations with North Korea should be an object lesson for its relations with Iran, graphically demonstrating the advantages of diplomacy, talks and agreements over threats of war. Under the Agreed Framework signed in 1994, North Korea stopped work on two much larger nuclear reactors than the small experimental one operating at Yongbyong since 1986, which only produces 6 kg of plutonium per year, enough for one nuclear bomb.

The lesson of Bush's Iraq invasion in 2003 after Saddam Hussein had complied with demands that he destroy Iraq's stockpiles of chemical weapons and shut down a nascent nuclear program was not lost on North Korea. Not only did the invasion lay waste to large sections of Iraq with hundreds of thousands of dead but Hussein himself was hunted down and condemned to death by hanging.

Still, after North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon in 2006, even its small experimental reactor was shut down as a result of the "Six Party Talks" in 2007, all the fuel rods were removed and placed under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the cooling tower of the reactor was demolished in 2008.

But then, as relations deteriorated, North Korea conducted a second nuclear weapon test and again began reprocessing spent fuel rods to recover plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.

North Korea has now conducted six nuclear weapons tests. The explosions in the first five tests increased gradually up to 15-25 kilotons, about the yield of the bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but estimates for the yield of the 2017 test range from 110 to 250 kilotons , comparable to a small hydrogen bomb.

The even greater danger in a new war in Korea is that the U.S. could unleash part of its arsenal of 4,000 more powerful weapons (100 to 1,200 kilotons), which could kill millions of people and devastate and poison the region, or even the world, for years to come.

The U.S. willingness to scrap the Agreed Framework in 2003, the breakdown of the Six Party Talks in 2009 and the U.S. refusal to acknowledge that its own military actions and threats create legitimate defense concerns for North Korea have driven the North Koreans into a corner from which they see a credible nuclear deterrent as their only chance to avoid mass destruction.

China has proposed a reasonable framework for diplomacy to address the concerns of both sides, but the U.S. insists on maintaining its propaganda narratives that all the fault lies with North Korea and that it has some kind of "military solution" to the crisis.

This may be the most dangerous idea we have heard from U.S. policymakers since the end of the Cold War, but it is the logical culmination of a systematic normalization of deviant and illegal U.S. war-making that has already cost millions of lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. As historian Gabriel Kolko wrote in Century of War in 1994, "options and decisions that are intrinsically dangerous and irrational become not merely plausible but the only form of reasoning about war and diplomacy that is possible in official circles."

Demonizing Iran

The idea that Iran has ever had a nuclear weapons program is seriously contested by the IAEA, which has examined every allegation presented by the CIA and other Western "intelligence" agencies as well as Israel. Former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei revealed many details of this wild goose chase in his 2011 memoir, Age of Deception : Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times .

When the CIA and its partners reluctantly acknowledged the IAEA's conclusions in a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), ElBaradei issued a press release confirming that, "the agency has no concrete evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program or undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran."

Since 2007, the IAEA has resolved all its outstanding concerns with Iran. It has verified that dual-use technologies that Iran imported before 2003 were in fact used for other purposes, and it has exposed the mysterious "laptop documents" that appeared to show Iranian plans for a nuclear weapon as forgeries. Gareth Porter thoroughly explored all these questions and allegations and the history of mistrust that fueled them in his 2014 book, Manufactured Crisis : the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare , which I highly recommend.

But, in the parallel Bizarro world of U.S. politics, hopelessly poisoned by the CIA's endless disinformation campaigns, Hillary Clinton could repeatedly take false credit for disarming Iran during her presidential campaign, and neither Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump nor any corporate media interviewer dared to challenge her claims.

"When President Obama took office, Iran was racing toward a nuclear bomb," Clinton fantasized in a prominent foreign policy speech on June 2, 2016, claiming that her brutal sanctions policy "brought Iran to the table."

In fact, as Trita Parsi documented in his 2012 book, A Single Roll of the Dice : Obama's Diplomacy With Iran , the Iranians were ready, not just to "come to the table," but to sign a comprehensive agreement based on a U.S. proposal brokered by Turkey and Brazil in 2010. But, in a classic case of "tail wags dog," the U.S. then rejected its own proposal because it would have undercut support for tighter sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. In other words, Clinton's sanctions policy did not "bring Iran to the table", but prevented the U.S. from coming to the table itself.

As a senior State Department official told Trita Parsi, the real problem with U.S. diplomacy with Iran when Clinton was at the State Department was that the U.S. would not take "Yes" for an answer. Trump's ham-fisted decertification of Iran's compliance with the JCPOA is right out of Clinton's playbook, and it demonstrates that the CIA is still determined to use Iran as a scapegoat for America's failures in the Middle East.

The spurious claim that Iran is the world's greatest sponsor of terrorism is another CIA canard reinforced by endless repetition. It is true that Iran supports and supplies weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas, which are both listed as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government. But they are mainly defensive resistance groups that defend Lebanon and Gaza respectively against invasions and attacks by Israel.

Shifting attention away from Al Qaeda, Islamic State, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and other groups that actually commit terrorist crimes around the world might just seem like a case of the CIA "taking its eyes off the ball," if it wasn't so transparently timed to frame Iran with new accusations now that the manufactured crisis of the nuclear scare has run its course.

What the Future Holds

Barack Obama's most consequential international achievement may have been the triumph of symbolism over substance behind which he expanded and escalated the so-called "war on terror," with a vast expansion of covert operations and proxy wars that eventually triggered the heaviest U.S. aerial bombardments since Vietnam in Iraq and Syria.

Obama's charm offensive invigorated old and new military alliances with the U.K., France and the Arab monarchies, and he quietly ran up the most expensive military budget of any president since World War Two.

But Obama's expansion of the "war on terror" under cover of his deceptive global public relations campaign created many more problems than it solved, and Trump and his advisers are woefully ill-equipped to solve any of them. Trump's expressed desire to place America first and to resist foreign entanglements is hopelessly at odds with his aggressive, bullying approach to every foreign policy problem.

If the U.S. could threaten and fight its way to a resolution of any of its international problems, it would have done so already. That is exactly what it has been trying to do since the 1990s, behind both the swagger and bluster of Bush and Trump and the deceptive charm of Clinton and Obama: a "good cop – bad cop" routine that should no longer fool anyone anywhere.

But as Lyndon Johnson found as he waded deeper and deeper into the Big Muddy in Vietnam, lying to the public about unwinnable wars does not make them any more winnable. It just gets more people killed and makes it harder and harder to ever tell the public the truth.

In unwinnable wars based on lies, the "credibility" problem only gets more complicated, as new lies require new scapegoats and convoluted narratives to explain away graveyards filled by old lies. Obama's cynical global charm offensive bought the "war on terror" another eight years, but that only allowed the CIA to drag the U.S. into more trouble and spread its chaos to more places around the world.

Meanwhile, Russian President Putin is winning hearts and minds in capitals around the world by calling for a recommitment to the rule of international law , which prohibits the threat or use of military force except in self-defense. Every new U.S. threat or act of aggression will only make Putin's case more persuasive, not least to important U.S. allies like South Korea, Germany and other members of the European Union, whose complicity in U.S. aggression has until now helped to give it a false veneer of political legitimacy.

Throughout history, serial aggression has nearly always provoked increasingly united opposition, as peace-loving countries and people have reluctantly summoned the courage to stand up to an aggressor. France under Napoleon and Hitler's Germany also regarded themselves as exceptional, and in their own ways they were. But in the end, their belief in their exceptionalism led them on to defeat and destruction.

Americans had better hope that we are not so exceptional, and that the world will find a diplomatic rather than a military "solution" to its American problem. Our chances of survival would improve a great deal if American officials and politicians would finally start to act like something other than putty in the hands of the CIA

Nicolas J. S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq . He also wrote the chapters on "Obama at War" in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama's First Term as a Progressive Leader .

[Dec 29, 2017] Will War Cancel Trump's Triumphs by Pat Buchanan

Dec 29, 2017 | www.unz.com

But it is in the realm of foreign policy where the real perils seem to lie. President Trump has been persuaded by his national security team to send Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, for use against the tanks and armor of pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Should Petro Poroshenko's Kiev regime reignite the war in his breakaway provinces bordering Russia, Vladimir Putin is less likely to let him crush the rebels than to intervene with superior forces and rout the Ukrainian army.

Trump's choice then? Accept defeat and humiliation for our "ally" -- or escalate and widen the conflict with Russia.

Putin's interest in the Donbass, a part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union for centuries, is obvious.

What, exactly, is ours -- to justify a showdown with Moscow?

In this city there is also a powerful propaganda push to have this country tear up the nuclear deal John Kerry negotiated with Iran, and confront the Iranians in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Persian Gulf.

... ... ...

The Korean War finished Truman. Vietnam finished LBJ. Reagan said putting Marines into Lebanon was his worst mistake. Iraq cost Bush II both houses of Congress and his party the presidency in 2008.

Should Trump become a war president, he'll likely become a one-term president.

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

[Dec 26, 2017] Are sanctions pushing Russians to rally around the flag Not exactly

Notable quotes:
"... There is an ongoing conflict between Russia and the West concerning EU and NATO expansion into the former USSR. Russia's resisting this expansion, and the West is trying to bully Russia into accepting it. ..."
"... The Atlantic Alliance's support for the 2014 Maidan revolution in Ukraine was all about pulling that country into the EU and NATO. The West's involvement in this revolt amounted to an aggressive move by the West against Russia. In return, Russia annexed Crimea, and triggered an anti-Ukrainian revolt in Donbass. ..."
"... The West's response to this was to impose economic sanctions on Russia, in an effort to destroy that country's economy. The goal was to force Russia to submit to the West's mandate, and to permanently forgo its vital national interests in Ukraine ..."
"... Sanctions are there because Russia. is an ally of Syria , and Israel wants Syria destroyed. The sanctions are a means to punish Russia for being Syria's friend, and also to remove Russian influence from that area of the world. Their base at Tarterus. ..."
"... For all it is worth , currently the Russians have more of a legitimate justification to attack the USA and Israel , than Japan did when they attacked Pearl Harbor, because of sanctions slapped on them since they would not leave China, and then moved into Vietnam after being allowed to by Vichy France. ..."
"... Quite obvious sanctions are not hurting Russia as they were Japan otherwise it would be a nasty scene right now. But still not advisable to poke that bear further. ..."
Dec 26, 2017 | www.washingtonpost.com

AMR56 6/18/2017 10:52 AM EDT

There is an ongoing conflict between Russia and the West concerning EU and NATO expansion into the former USSR. Russia's resisting this expansion, and the West is trying to bully Russia into accepting it.

The Atlantic Alliance's support for the 2014 Maidan revolution in Ukraine was all about pulling that country into the EU and NATO. The West's involvement in this revolt amounted to an aggressive move by the West against Russia. In return, Russia annexed Crimea, and triggered an anti-Ukrainian revolt in Donbass.

The West's response to this was to impose economic sanctions on Russia, in an effort to destroy that country's economy. The goal was to force Russia to submit to the West's mandate, and to permanently forgo its vital national interests in Ukraine.

The first round of sanctions has obviously failed to have its effect. That's why the US Senate is now attempting a new, harsher round of sanctions in an effort to force Russia to submit to the West's mandate. ... more See More Like Share

MyFreeAdvice 6/16/2017 9:08 AM EDT
The new sanctions on Russia is all about giving an advantage to US LNG producers. First shipment of LNG to Poland from US, ever, was done just last week. It is all a game for the benefit of the big business while emotionally victimizing the common person in the US.
Alex Bes 6/16/2017 7:31 AM EDT [Edited]
Timoty Frai made a lot of research and did a lot of conclusions. Unfortunately he did not understand the only fact: we Russians has a little bit different mentality. Sanctions could not make us gave up if we believe that we are on a right side )))

For example: Imagine if someone say to you: "If you will not let me hurt your baby I will reject you as a customer!" Will you let him hurt your baby??? Most of the Russians won't!

Christopher Perrien 6/15/2017 9:06 AM EDT [Edited]
Sanctions are there because Russia. is an ally of Syria , and Israel wants Syria destroyed. The sanctions are a means to punish Russia for being Syria's friend, and also to remove Russian influence from that area of the world. Their base at Tarterus.

For all it is worth , currently the Russians have more of a legitimate justification to attack the USA and Israel , than Japan did when they attacked Pearl Harbor, because of sanctions slapped on them since they would not leave China, and then moved into Vietnam after being allowed to by Vichy France.

Quite obvious sanctions are not hurting Russia as they were Japan otherwise it would be a nasty scene right now. But still not advisable to poke that bear further.

Manuel Angst 6/15/2017 9:49 AM EDT
"... punish Russia for being Syria's friend"

Propping up the biggest butcher of Syrian people is hardly "being Syria's friend".

... more See More Like Nedlog and Manuel Angst 2

Revealer 6/15/2017 6:42 PM EDT
Must I remind you that many thousands of Americans living in both Southern and Northern states of American considered Abraham Lincoln a butcher of American people and a tyrant doing the U.S. civil war. In fact he outraged so many who thought of him that way he was assassinated because of a belief that he was a tyrant and a butcher of American people. Many people at the time remembered Gen. Sherman's military march through the South that burned everything in sight and believe it or not killed many civilians. Be careful who you call a butcher. ... more See More Like
Don Brook 6/15/2017 8:47 AM EDT
Putin's disciple Trump may well decide to invade some small country as a way of shoring up his own declining approval. ... more See More Like Share
Tebteb27 6/15/2017 8:54 AM EDT
You are a type locality example of the slow digression into destructive ignorance that we currently face as a nation. God help us. ... more See More Like
Ed Chen 6/15/2017 9:10 AM EDT
That is the best vision of how the leftist (the same word "liberal") propaganda screw the minds of the people like Don Brook, to bring this nation to a dangerous situation of clash with each other over nothing, but the pain could be great. Are sanctions pushing Russians to 'rally around the flag'? Not exactly. - The Washington Post
Bob Twou 6/15/2017 8:37 AM EDT
The sanctions have strengthen Russia's domestic economy and has turn the corner
despite low energy prices. Sanctions are never an effective tool for international relations, look at Cuba. lol
Russian are an educated people, they are not stupid which the Establishment media wants us to believe. Time to talk, isn't that what diplomacy is all about? ... more See More Like Share Erugo 1
altR 6/15/2017 8:58 AM EDT
You are also correct, sanctions are the biggest waste of time. They are only for the political elite to fake resolve

[Dec 25, 2017] Ukraine loses gas dispute to Russia; ordered to pay $2 billion to Gazprom by by Alexander Mercouris

Notable quotes:
"... By contrast the reduction in the gas price Naftogaz refers to from $485/tcm to $352 tcm which Naftogaz makes much of in its statement appears to apply only to gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom in the second quarter of 2014 and still sets the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom higher than was demanded by Ukraine during this period. ..."
"... Ukraine recently borrowed $3 billion on the international financial markets at very high interest almost certainly in order to pay the $3 billion the High Court in London has ordered it to pay Russia. Whilst the $2 billion is technically a debt owed by Naftogaz not Ukraine and its non-payment would does not place Ukraine in a state of sovereign default, Gazprom is in a position to enforce the debt against Naftogaz's assets (including gas it buys) in the European Economic Area. It is difficult to see how Naftogaz and Ukraine can avoid payment of this debt. ..."
"... Has Ukraine actually gained anything from its long running gas dispute with Russia? ..."
Dec 25, 2017 | theduran.com

On Friday 21st December 2017 the Stockholm Arbitration Court made a ruling in the legal dispute between Ukraine's state owned gas monopoly Naftogaz and Russia's largely state owned gas monopoly Gazprom.

In the hours after the decision – which like all decisions of the Stockholm Arbitration Court – is not published, Naftogaz claimed victory in a short statement. However over the course of the hours which followed Gazprom provided details of the decision which suggests that the truth is the diametric opposite.

The Duran recommends using WP Engine >>

Here is how the Financial Times reports the competing claims

Both Ukraine's Naftogaz and Russia's Gazprom both on Friday claimed victory as a Stockholm arbitration tribunal issued the final award ruling in the first of two cases in a three-year legal battle between the state-controlled energy companies, where total claims stand at some $80bn.

An emailed statement from the Ukrainian company was titled:

"Naftogaz wins the gas sales arbitration case against Gazprom on all issues in dispute."

Start your own website here >>

The Stockholm arbitration tribunal -- in its final award ruling in a dispute over gas supplies from prior years -- had, according to Naftogaz, struck down Gazprom's claim to receive $56bn for gas contracted but not supplied through controversial "take-or-pay" clauses. They were included in a supply contract Ukraine signed in 2009 after Gazprom dented supplies to the EU by cutting all flow amid a price dispute -- including transit through the country's vast pipeline systems. In a tweet Ukraine's foreign minister

Pavlo Klimkin wrote: "The victory of Naftogaz in the Stockholm arbitration: It's not a knockout, but three knockdowns with obvious advantage."

But later Gazprom countered that arbitors "acknowledged the main points of the contract were in effect and upheld the majority of Gazprom's demands for payment for gas supplies", worth over $2bn. A Naftogaz official responded that the company never refused to pay for gas supplied, but challenged price and conditions.

Given the tribunal does not make its decisions public, doubt loomed over which side was the ultimate winner. Anticipation also grew over the second and final tribunal award expected early next year over disputes both have concerning past gas transit obligations.

Friday's final Stockholm arbitration ruling follows a preliminary decision from last May after which both sides were given time to settle monetary claims outside of the tribunal but failed to reach agreement.

Here is the full Naftogaz statement:

"Today, the Tribunal at the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has completely rejected Gazprom take-or-pay claims to Naftogaz amounting to USD 56 billion for 2009-2017.

Gazprom said that in a separate decision on May 31 of this year, the tribunal denied Naftogaz's application to review prices from May 2011 to April 2014, ordered it to pay $14bn for gas supplies during that period, and said that the take-or-pay conditions applied for the duration of the contract. Gazprom claimed that Naftogaz would have to pay it $2.18bn plus interest of 0.03 per cent for every day the payments were late, and then pay for 5bn cm of gas annually starting next year.

When the different sides give opposite accounts of the same decision it obviously becomes difficult to say what the real decision actually is. However Gazprom says that the court upheld (1) the main provisions of the contract; (2) the contract's take-or-pay provisions, these being a particularly contentious issue in the contract; and (3) that Naftogaz has been ordered to pay Gazprom $2 billion, presumably immediately, with interest for every day the amount is unpaid.

By contrast the reduction in the gas price Naftogaz refers to from $485/tcm to $352 tcm which Naftogaz makes much of in its statement appears to apply only to gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom in the second quarter of 2014 and still sets the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom higher than was demanded by Ukraine during this period.

The key point here is that Russia agreed to reduce the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by an agreement Russia's President Putin reached with Ukraine's President Yanukovich in December 2013. After the Maidan coup the new Ukrainian government went back on the agreement causing the Russians to demand payment of the original price. However over the course of 2014, as energy prices began first to slide and then crashed, and as it became clear that Ukraine was simply not paying for its gas, Russia again reduced the price of the gas Ukraine had to pay.

What seems to have happened is that the Stockholm Arbitration Court decided to smooth out the price of gas payable by Ukraine throughout 2014, which is the sort of thing arbitration tribunals are regularly known to do, whilst leaving the essentials of the contract unchanged.

If so then this is not a victory by Ukraine but a clearcut defeat, which Naftogaz and the Ukrainian government have tried to spin into a victory by citing the reduction in the gas price in the second quarter of 2014 and the reduction in future gas import volumes, neither of which were contentious issues. By contrast it is clear that Ukraine and Naftogaz must pay the full contractual price and abide by the contract's take-or-pay provisions for the whole of the period of the contract prior to the second quarter of 2014.

What this means in terms of hard cash is that Ukraine must now pay Russia a further $2 billion on top of the $3 billion it was recently ordered to pay by the High Court in London. Just as it is holding back on paying the $3 billion it was ordered to pay by the High Court until the appeal process in London is finished, so it will try to hold off paying the $2 billion it has just been ordered to pay to Gazprom until the final decision of the Stockholm Arbitration Court (thus the brave talk of Naftogaz's claims of "up to $16 billion transit contract arbitration against Gazprom") but thereafter payment of the $2 billion will fall due. I say this because the claim Gazprom owes Naftogaz "up to" $16 billion in transit fees looks like it has been plucked out of the air.

What this means is that over the course of 2018 Ukraine will have to pay Russia $5 billion ($3 billion awarded by the High Court in London and $2 billion awarded by the Stockholm Arbitration Court). Since the $2 billion awarded by the Stockholm Arbitration Court is technically an arbitration award, Gazprom will need to convert it into a court Judgment before it can enforce it, but that is merely a formality. At that point this debt will become not merely due but legally enforceable as well.

Ukraine recently borrowed $3 billion on the international financial markets at very high interest almost certainly in order to pay the $3 billion the High Court in London has ordered it to pay Russia. Whilst the $2 billion is technically a debt owed by Naftogaz not Ukraine and its non-payment would does not place Ukraine in a state of sovereign default, Gazprom is in a position to enforce the debt against Naftogaz's assets (including gas it buys) in the European Economic Area. It is difficult to see how Naftogaz and Ukraine can avoid payment of this debt.

Has Ukraine actually gained anything from its long running gas dispute with Russia?

Naftogaz brags that Ukraine has saved up to $75 billion because it is no longer buying gas from Russia. However this begs the question of whether the gas Ukraine is now importing from Europe really is significantly cheaper than the gas Ukraine was buying from Russia? This is debatable and with energy prices rising it is likely to become even less likely over time.

[Dec 24, 2017] Donald Trump Prepares to Escalate Confrontation with Russia over Ukraine by Doug Bandow

Notable quotes:
"... With over 10,000 dead, the conflict in Ukraine is a humanitarian travesty but of minimal security consequence to America and Europe. Indeed, Kiev's status never was key to Europe's status. An integral part of the Soviet Union and before that the Russian Empire, Ukraine turned into an unexpected bonus for the allies by seceding from the Soviet Union, greatly diminishing the latter's population and territory. Russia's seizure of Crimea and battle in the Donbass destabilized an already semi-failed state, but did not materially alter the European balance of power. Or demonstrate anything other than Moscow's brutal yet limited ambitions. ..."
"... At the same time, transferring lethal arms would divide the U.S. from European nations, many of which oppose further confrontation with Russia, especially over Ukraine. Brussels already bridled at Congress' new sanctions legislation, which passed without consulting the Europeans and targeted European firms. If Moscow responds with escalation, Washington may find no one behind it. ..."
"... Also noteworthy is the fragility of the Ukrainian state. Kiev's self-inflicted wounds are a more important cause than Russian pressure. The government is hobbled by divisions between East and West, violent neo-fascist forces, bitter political factionalism, economic failure, and pervasive corruption. The recent specter of former Georgian President and Ukrainian Governor Mikheil Saakashvili clambering across rooftops, escaping arrest, and railing against President Petro Poroshenko epitomized Ukraine's problems. Kiev, to put it mildly, is not a reliable military partner against its nuclear-armed neighbor. ..."
"... Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire (Xulon). ..."
Dec 24, 2017 | nationalinterest.org

Most Americans were told Donald Trump won the presidential election last year. But his policy toward Russia looks suspiciously like what a President Hillary Clinton would have pursued. Exhibit A is the apparent decision to arm Ukraine against Russia in the proxy conflict in the Donbass. This dunderheaded move will simply encourage Moscow to retaliate not only in Ukraine but against U.S. interests elsewhere around the globe.

With over 10,000 dead, the conflict in Ukraine is a humanitarian travesty but of minimal security consequence to America and Europe. Indeed, Kiev's status never was key to Europe's status. An integral part of the Soviet Union and before that the Russian Empire, Ukraine turned into an unexpected bonus for the allies by seceding from the Soviet Union, greatly diminishing the latter's population and territory. Russia's seizure of Crimea and battle in the Donbass destabilized an already semi-failed state, but did not materially alter the European balance of power. Or demonstrate anything other than Moscow's brutal yet limited ambitions.

In fact, present allied policy makes continuation of the current conflict almost inevitable. Newly released documents demonstrate that Soviet officials reasonably believed that releasing their Warsaw Pact captives would not lead to NATO's expansion to Russia's border. Well, well. Look what actually happened -- the very dramatic increase in tensions that George F. Kennan predicted would occur. For Russia sees geographical space and buffer states as critical for its security, and none are more important than Ukraine.

Expanding NATO, disregarding Moscow's historic interests in the Balkans, dismantling onetime Slavic ally Serbia, aiding "color revolutions" that brought anti-Russian governments to power along its border, announcing the intention of inducting both Georgia and Ukraine into the alliance created to confront Moscow, and finally ostentatiously backing a street revolution against a corrupt but elected leader friendly to Russia -- going to far as to discuss who should rule after his planned ouster -- could not help but be viewed as hostile in Moscow. One can easily imagine how Washington would react to similar events in Canada or Mexico.

Russia's response was unjustified but efficient and, most important, limited. Moscow grabbed Crimea, the only part of Ukraine with a majority of Russian-speakers (who probably favored joining Russia, though the subsequent referendum occurred in what was occupied Crimea). Moscow further backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine, perhaps in hopes of grabbing territory or merely bleeding Kiev.

Some Western responses were near hysteria, imagining a blitzkrieg attack on Ukraine, conquering the country. The Baltic States saw themselves as the next targets. Poland remembered its twentieth century conflicts with Moscow. At least one observer added Finland to Moscow's potential target list. Others worried about intimidation of allied states, borders being withdrawn, and challenges to the European order. Some afflicted with war fever feared an attempt to reconstitute the Soviet Union and perhaps roll west from there.

None of which happened.

Perhaps President Vladimir Putin secretly was an Adolf Hitler-wannabe but was dissuaded by the U.S. and NATO response. However, economic sanctions and military deployments were modest. Assistance to Ukraine did not include lethal military aid. Most likely, Putin never intended to start World War III.

Instead, he opportunistically took advantage of the opportunity to snatch Crimea, the territory with the closest identification with Moscow, simultaneously safeguarding the latter's major Black Sea base, and create a frozen conflict in the Donbass, effectively preventing Ukraine's entry into NATO. Russia's activity there also gives him an opportunity to create additional trouble for the U.S.

Moscow's policy is unpleasant for America and Europe, but only prevents the allies from doing that which is not in their interest: inducting a security black hole into NATO. Even before 2014, Ukraine was a political and economic mess. While independent it mattered little for Western security, in NATO it would bring along all of its disputes and potential conflicts with Russia, a touchy, nationalistic nuclear power.

What State Department called "enhanced defensive capabilities," which require congressional approval, aren't likely to raise the price of the conflict enough to force Russia to back down. The Putin regime has far more at stake in preserving its gains than the U.S. does in reversing them. Moscow also is better able to escalate and is likely to consistently outbid the West: Putin's advantages include greater interests, geographic closeness, and popular support. For Ukraine more weapons would at most mean more fighting, with little additional advantage.

Indeed, the plan to arm Kiev with weapons, especially if anti-tank missiles are included, as news reports indicate, would risk turning the Donbass conflict from cool to warm--and perhaps more. Ukraine already joins Russia in failing to implement the Minsk Agreement. Kiev would not only be better armed, but might believe that it enjoyed an implicit guarantee from Washington, which in turn would have more at stake and thus be less inclined to abandon its new "investment." Then what if Moscow escalated? In 2014 the Putin government deployed Russian military units to counter Ukrainian gains. Would Washington do likewise in response to Moscow?

At the same time, transferring lethal arms would divide the U.S. from European nations, many of which oppose further confrontation with Russia, especially over Ukraine. Brussels already bridled at Congress' new sanctions legislation, which passed without consulting the Europeans and targeted European firms. If Moscow responds with escalation, Washington may find no one behind it.

Providing lethal weapons would almost certainly encourage the Ukrainians to press for even heavier arms and escalate the fighting, as well as discourage them from negotiating a settlement. U.S. officials refer to the weapons as defensive, but their capabilities are not so easily compartmentalized. Said Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the "ability to stop armored vehicles would be essential for them to protect themselves." True, but the ability to disable tanks is useful on offense as well as defense. There has been little movement in the battle line over the last couple of years. New U.S. weapons aren't necessary to preserve the status quo. Rather, they would most help Ukraine press harder for a military solution.

Does Kiev want to accept a compromise peace or fight on? Obama Pentagon official Michael Carpenter said providing weapons "will be a huge boost of support to Ukraine." Moscow is not concerned about Kiev's military potential. Russia is concerned that the U.S. and Europe say they intend to induct Ukraine into NATO. The closer the military ties grow between America and Ukraine, the greater Moscow's incentive to keep the conflict going. Russia also has opportunities to retaliate against American interests elsewhere. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said: "The United States crossed the line in a sense" and "may lead to new victims in a country that is neighboring us." America, he added, was an "accomplice in fueling war."

That might be just talk, but Russia can provide aid, sell arms, offer political backing, and give economic assistance in ways that hamper U.S. activities. Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela all provide opportunities for Russian mischief. Moscow could refuse to back additional sanctions on Pyongyang or even provide the latter with S-400 anti-aircraft missiles.

Although limited resources constrain Moscow, politics encourages a tough response. Putin is running for reelection but has lost support because of the Russian Federation's economic weakness. Nationalism remains one of his strongest issues; an assault by America on Russian interests would offer him a means to rally public support.

Also noteworthy is the fragility of the Ukrainian state. Kiev's self-inflicted wounds are a more important cause than Russian pressure. The government is hobbled by divisions between East and West, violent neo-fascist forces, bitter political factionalism, economic failure, and pervasive corruption. The recent specter of former Georgian President and Ukrainian Governor Mikheil Saakashvili clambering across rooftops, escaping arrest, and railing against President Petro Poroshenko epitomized Ukraine's problems. Kiev, to put it mildly, is not a reliable military partner against its nuclear-armed neighbor.

A better approach would be to negotiate for Russian de-escalation by offering to take NATO membership for Ukraine (and Georgia) off the table. In fact, expanding the alliance is not in America's interest: the U.S., not, say, Luxembourg, is the country expected to back up NATO's defense promises. And neither Kiev nor Tbilisi warrants the risk of war with a great power, especially one armed with nukes. Eliminating that possibility would reduce Moscow's incentive to maintain a frozen conflict in the Donbass. Backing away also would create the possibility of reversing military build-ups by both sides elsewhere, especially around Poland and the Baltic States.

Washington and Moscow have no core security interests in conflict with each other, especially in Ukraine. Instead of turning a peripheral security issue into a potential military clash with Moscow, Washington should seek to trade military disengagement from Ukraine for Russian acceptance of that nation's territorial integrity. Moscow might not agree, but the Trump administration won't know unless it makes the offer. Right now, it doesn't seem to care to even try. Quite the contrary.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire (Xulon).

[Dec 23, 2017] IMF demands that the price of gas be raised for Ukrainians

Dec 23, 2017 | rusnewstoday24.ru

As reported by the permanent representative of the International Monetary Fund in the Ukraine, Jost Longman, the Kiev authorities should increase Ukrainian gas tariffs to the level of import parity. Longman argues that an increase in gas prices will have a positive effect on the development of the free market and will teach the Ukrainians to use natural gas economically. "In the end, the final goal is the implementation of a free gas market. On the way to this, it is important to continue to adjust the price of gas in accordance with the price of imports", said Longman. "One price for all types of consumer also eliminates the space for corruptio," he added.

[Dec 23, 2017] The State Department has approved the delivery to the Ukrainian army of modified 50 calibre Barrett sniper rifles, "Model M107A"

Dec 23, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile , December 21, 2017 at 10:55 am

Oh look at what I just got given me!

https://icdn.lenta.ru/images/2017/12/21/12/20171221122514922/brief_f8fe6380f3186e74c06a46d665607174.jpg

The state Department has approved the delivery to the Ukrainian army of modified 50 calibre Barrett sniper rifles, "Model M107A"

It may be related to the Model 82A1®/M107®, but the M107A1 is far from a simple evolution. Driven by the demands of combat, every component was re-engineered to be lighter yet stronger. Designed to be used with a suppressor, this rifle allows you to combine signature reduction capabilities with the flawless reliability of the original Barrett M107, but with a weight reduction of 5 pounds. Advanced design and manufacturing make the M107A1 more precise than ever.

See: BarrrrettM107A1

[Dec 23, 2017] He Died for Our Debt, Not Our Sins by Michael Hudson

Notable quotes:
"... Interview with Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is J is for Junk Economics . Cross-posted from Hudson's site . ..."
"... And Forgive them their Debts: Credit and Redemption ..."
"... And Forgive them their Debts: Credit and Redemption ..."
"... the Dems are now doing the age-old distraction of diverting the discussion to sex rather than economics. I thought just the political right does that ..."
"... I am highly skeptical of the tune Amazing Grace ..."
Dec 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

December 23, 2017 Interview with Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is J is for Junk Economics . Cross-posted from Hudson's site .

As many people turn towards their Christian and Jewish faiths this Christmas and Hanukkah in an attempt to make sense of the year that was, at least one economist says we have been reading the bible in an anachronistic way.


In fact he has written an entire book on the topic. In And Forgive them their Debts: Credit and Redemption (available this spring on Amazon), Professor Michael Hudson makes the argument that far from being about sex, the bible is actually about economics, and debt in particular.

The Ten Commandments Were About Debt

People tend to think of the Commandment 'do not covet your neighbour's wife' in purely sexual terms but actually, the economist says it refers specifically to creditors who would force the wives and daughters of debtors into sex slavery as collateral for unpaid debt.

"This goes all the way back to Sumer in the third millennium," he said.

Similarly, the Commandment 'thou shalt not steal' refers to usury and exploitation by threat for debts owing.

But the rulers of classical antiquity who cancelled their subjects' debts tended to be overthrown with disturbing frequency – from the Greek 'tyrants' of the 7th century BC who overthrew the aristocracies of Sparta and Corinth, to Sparta's Kings Agis and Cleomenes in the 3rd century BC who sought to cancel Spartan debts, to Roman politicians advocating debt relief and land redistribution, Julius Caesar among them.

Jesus Died for Our Debt

Professor Hudson says Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for his activism.

What Would Jesus Do?

To understand how to fix today's economy, Hudson says that the Bible's answers were practical for their time.

And Forgive them their Debts: Credit and Redemption will be available for purchase just in time for Easter on Amazon.

Patrick Donnelly , December 23, 2017 at 6:32 am

Reckless lending is a valid concept and has been put into law by Judges and almost unbelievably, lawmakers as well, in some jurisdictions.

The debt is void.

Tricking a borrower into overcommittment is worse and that is what happened in Ireland during the 80s onwards. The Prime ministers of different parties over that time had unlimited overdrafts with several banks, most notably the AIB. A conspiracy that meant only a very few were fully aware of the final result: bondholders would be reimbursed, with the scam being paid for by those who made money and also those who lost money in the asset Ponzi that was always the end.

Emigration was also the intended end, which worked quite well.

Steven , December 23, 2017 at 8:35 am

With you right up to that last sentence. Why couldn't the simple banker theft, the 'free lunch', have been "the intended end"? Critics of the status quo IMHO often attribute way too much intelligence and foresight to the powers that be. There is such a thing as intelligent self-interest (greed). Germany's Bismark and Hudson's ancient rulers understood it. The West's ruling class apparently doesn't.

AbateMagicThinking but Not money , December 23, 2017 at 9:21 am

No more IMHOs please! It starts to read like Uriah Heap. No more humility. Just state your case.

Pip Pip

flora , December 23, 2017 at 10:48 am

an aside: It's important to distinguish sentences of opinion from sentences of claimed fact, imo. ;) Opinion is just that, and can't be called out for malice or falsity. Incorrect statements of fact can be so called out. This is an important distinction in written comments. It's important for the reputation of the publication itself, and why LTEs insist on this distinction being made in the letters.

Uriah Heep's "umbleness" was a mask covering his scheming; a very different thing from making a simple written distinction between opinion and fact.

flora , December 23, 2017 at 11:09 am

adding:
There's always 'IMNSHO', but that's more typing. :)

St Jacques , December 23, 2017 at 3:33 pm

I only ever make true statements, OK !!!

Trouble is that the next day I have a headache and everything looks yellow.

Blue Pilgrim , December 23, 2017 at 9:57 am

'Lead us not into temptation' -- odious debt and liar loans, sounds like.

Robert McGregor , December 23, 2017 at 11:56 am

> "Reckless lending is a valid concept and has been put into law by Judges and almost unbelievably, lawmakers as well, in some jurisdictions.

The debt is void.

Tricking a borrower into overcommittment . . ."

Take your average 21 year-old today or 40 years ago! Put him in the US and . . .

1) Expose him through the MSM to relentless advertising and propaganda that he should spend, spend, spend!
2) Don't teach him in school about personal finance and debt.
3) Give him a credit card.

What do you expect will happen? Through trickery the bankers have rigged a very profitable system for themselves. It is not a good system where a young person has to have way-above-knowledge-and-discipline in order to protect themselves from credit racketeers. That's why there is the ancient wisdom of the "Debt Jubilee"

Kurtismayfield , December 23, 2017 at 12:32 pm

I blame credit card debt on the banks themselves.. they should know when to cut someone off, they are tracking your every move these days.

nilavar , December 23, 2017 at 1:59 pm

Right on!

if only, all the LENDERS and the Banks (Banksters!) had followed the the cardinal rules(of Finance) of FIDUCIARY DUTY & DUE DILIGENCE, we wouldn't have 2008 crisis.

Banksters were bailed out and the 'DEBT' became the new money, world wise!

Now we have 2008 x10 (Mother of all Bubbles!) crisis at our door step!

Happy Holidays!

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , December 23, 2017 at 3:55 pm

The article doesn't distinguish "whose debts?"

When Citi takes too much debt they get Jubilee, when John Q. Public does, they get bankruptcy.

So let's not say "we should bring back Jubliee", we already have it, to the tune of tens of trillions of dollars. Jubliee for billionaires and bankers, just not for you and me.

It's similar to the debate over "Socialism", Bernie gets trashed for even daring to mention the word. But if "socialism" is loosely defined as direct transfers of assets from the State, we have massive socialism in this country already. For Big Wall St, Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Military, Big Incarceration, Big Surveillance. But propose it for Big Citizen and you will get shouted down and shamed as some kind of pinko.

Alopex , December 23, 2017 at 2:20 pm

At a major bank in the late 80s, I heard the Controller describe the ideal credit card customer: the one with account just below the credit limit who makes the minimum monthly payment a few days late.

Kathleen Smith , December 23, 2017 at 8:07 am

I agree with all that Michael Hudson has to say -- only problem is that the bankers have been so effective in dividing and conquering the genernal public that they can't see who the real enemy is. We have middle class people hating those that have been set up and abused by a corrupt banking establishment that many in this country actually blame the victims. Question is how is this all going to end? and what can we do to stop the world take over by a corrupt banking elite?

JEHR , December 23, 2017 at 11:57 am

I have come to believe (from my reading) that the bankers have successfully used algorithms to speed up computing in order to make a profit no matter what the markets are doing. The AI of their machines does not have an ethical basis or empathy for those who lose money. The financialization of the economy is part of the role that AI performs in the profiteering of the bankers and other financial institutions. That I suppose is the first step to using AI algorithms to achieve the goal of the banker: to always and forever make a profit. Watch AI move into other areas for the same profitable purpose.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , December 23, 2017 at 3:43 pm

It's much bigger, and much worse, than you describe:
https://thebaffler.com/salvos/oculus-grift-shivani

Arizona Slim , December 23, 2017 at 8:12 am

How is this all going to end? Well, it's going to end because of people like us. We're questioning the current way of the world, and that's the first step in changing it.

nilavar , December 23, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Any DEBT which cannot be paid, will NEVER get paid (Hello Greece!) will be resolved by default and or Bankptcy as shown in history!

2008 was just a walk in the park!

Sam Adams , December 23, 2017 at 8:25 am

I love the irony: "And Forgive them their Debts: Credit and Redemption will be available for purchase just in time for Easter on Amazon."
Bravo

Carla , December 23, 2017 at 2:28 pm

If only Michael Hudson would decline to feed the Amazon beast!

Karen , December 23, 2017 at 9:09 am

What a fascinating analysis, thank you!

Henry Moon Pie , December 23, 2017 at 9:13 am

It's best to be cautious when making any kind of assertion about "the Bible says " or "Jesus believed ." The Hebrew bible is an amalgam of many different, often conflicting theological and moral points of view. The Gospels reflect that diversity of thought with some non-Semitic strains added as well.

The Ten Commandments provide a good example of this. The reason given for honoring the Sabbath in Exodus 20:

for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day

but in Deuteronomy (i.e. the "Second Law" in Deuteronomy 5), it's

You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out thence with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm

.

The Exodus version's rationale is drawn completely from awe for YHWH and his creation, but the Deuteronomist asks the Sabbath observers to think empathetically by remembering their ancestors' (mythical) enslavement.

Another example is the Deuteronomist's amendment of the law of debt slavery. The Exodus version did limit debt slavery to 7 years (Exodus 21:2), but D goes further:

And when you send a male slave[b] out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today.

Prophets like Micah and Amos took the D point of view even further, issuing prophecies of condemnation for the rich and compassion for the poor, but the compiler of Proverbs, while extolling moderation, offers a perspective respectful toward the rich and powerful as long as they behave decently.

These differences persist into the time when the Gospels were written. Luke-Acts clearly reflects the D/Prophetic strain. While Matthew's Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) contains only blessings, Luke 6 includes curses:

But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation.

25 "Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger.

"Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26 "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

Where did the historical Jesus line up in this millennia-old debate? There's not that much firm evidence either way. Dominic Crossan, relying on gospels outside the canon, tries to make a case for a revolutionary Jesus, but a strong argument can also be made that Jesus didn't care much about earthly politics and socio-economic issues because he believed the end of the world was near.

Jim Haygood , December 23, 2017 at 9:26 am

After the next recession (which I have penciled in for 2019-2020), US fiscal deficits will rise to the $1.5 to 2 trillion level and stay there. Should Trump serve two terms, federal debt will reach $30 trillion, and by then will constitute 130 to 150% of GDP.

At this point Amerisclerosis sets in, growth being impossible as debt service paralyzes any former dynamism in the corrupt and petrified imperial empire.

The Washington DC regime has two ways of defaulting: outright (hard) default, or soft default via inflating away the principal. Naturally politicians will prefer the latter, as it may permit milking a few more years out of their hollowed-out Potemkin economy.

WWJD -- what would Jesus do? Long gold, short bitcoin ought to be a pretty good "set and forget" trade whilst awaiting the Second Coming, though it may be a bit early yet.

nilavar , December 23, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Japan's DEBT to GDP ratio is over 300% but it is still here!

'Japanification' to the rescue!

DEBT and QEs to infinity! There are over 8-9 Trillions of Global Sovereign bonds with NRP!

The Rev Kev , December 23, 2017 at 6:43 pm

What would Jesus do? We know exactly what Jesus would do! Remember him clearing out the money-lenders from the temple? There is your answer right there. Today he would go into the central banks, kick a** and take names after clearing them out. The big banks would then find themselves under the gun without federal backup which mean that they could be shrunk small enough to drown in a bath tub.

ChiGal in Carolina , December 23, 2017 at 9:30 am

I seem to recall in one of the mainstream Protestant churches I went to as a child, when we recited the Lord's prayer we DID say " and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors".

In another, we said, "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespassed against us". That might've been the Winnetka Congregational Church–oh, that property owning legacy of our founding fathers!

Not really up on my biblical exegesis this morning (it's B.C. here: Before Coffee), but don't we "sin" against God? As opposed to our fellow mortals, I mean.

marieann , December 23, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Yes, I remember it was said that way also, not in the catholic church I went to but Protestant ones.
I just googled it and there are versions that speak about debt.

I find this article very interesting.
Being non religious now I could get behind a Socialist religious figure

Dan Lynch , December 23, 2017 at 9:43 am

I like Hudson and agree with much of his philosophy, but I don't think his book will change many minds because religion has nothing to do with logic.
.
If you want to make a moral or economic case for debt forgiveness, fine, but if you start talking about what Jesus really believed then you're wading into religion and most religious people's minds are already made up on that subject, so I don't think this tactic is a useful approach.
.
As one of my right wing friends said in response to Hudson's article, "liberation theology has already been debunked." Well, in my friend's mind it has been debunked so that's all that matters.
.
In my mind all religion is bunk so I am not going to defend Hudson's theology.
.
Ditto with the recent debate over Steve Keen's "theses." Just leave religion out of economics, OK?

jsn , December 23, 2017 at 10:10 am

We are all born in ignorance, religion is what we call earlier concatenations of human perception and memory that sustained societies across generations. The current religion, the one we call science, has exploded the human population to a mass the ecosphere cannot long support. Science, for all its knowledge has failed to provide anything remotely approaching a sustainable society or the politics that might create one. Science provides no wisdom, only knowledge.

It's a long game: minds that are are made up; minds yet to be will form around the ideas presented them.

An argument can be made we no longer have enough time.

mpalomar , December 23, 2017 at 10:55 am

Interesting points. Yet if science provides knowledge how can it be possible that it does not lead to wisdom. Philosophy, wisdom, religion and science are all bundled or linked, science being the latest iteration. Is it possible that there is such a clear, distinct division between wisdom and knowledge? Wisdom must be a product of knowledge as it is hard to imagine wisdom that does not conform to knowledge.

It is a long game but our individual lives are played out on a different time reference. Keynes of course famously acknowledged this, regarding the useless task of economists if they do not recognize the human time frame in their theories and calculations.

Civilization's tragic but expedient go-to-move is the ever prevalent dismissive shrug of complicity elite consensus employs to excuse the generational destruction visited by poverty and war because the march of history must proceed at a desultory stroll in relation to the span of a human life.

It does appear we no longer have time and probably never have.

jsn , December 23, 2017 at 1:02 pm

For some time I've wondered if life itself isn't just an exhilarating acceleration of entropy with consciousness being a kind of waste heat.

It denies us free will, but when you look at how we treat one another at scale and the curves for population and energy use it's hard to avoid the comparison to bacteria in a petri dish.

But I still cling to free will understanding it might be an illusion!

Jamie , December 23, 2017 at 11:27 am

Who is the "we" you refer to? Religion is simply codified superstition. It is a parasitic excrescence of stable societies, not the cause of their stability. Without the science you deplore you would not be able to criticize science for not achieving the sustainability you claim to value. Sustainability was not a thing until the science of ecology made it so. If you think you can make an argument that we don't have enough time to be rational, go ahead and make it. But "hurry up and abandon science because we only have time for superstition before the world ends" does not sound like a promising argument to me. By the way, if you attempt the argument I suggest you start by distinguishing science from technology and the ability and knowledge to do something from the political decisions to do (or not do) what science tells us is in our power. The same science that gave us the green revolution and the ability to support a huge global population has also given us birth control and the ability to adjust the size of our population to any value we choose. It is not science's fault if we make poor choices.

jsn , December 23, 2017 at 12:45 pm

What did you know when you were born? There are embedded assumptions about me in almost every line you wrote.

I don't deplore science, I'm just humble about what it can achieve. It has no agency, only people do. People made science so science can hardly be better than people, which gets us back to the problem of how to get people to sustain the ecology necessary for the species.

Why are you proposing to abandon science? I didn't. I simply said that it will not cause us to change our collective agency, it can't, it only has agency through us.

Additionally, there is decent science on cognitive bias that suggests, as the reader I was responding to did, that rational arguments don't change minds. I accept that science. Ipso facto, as you finished "It's not science's fault we make poor choices", with which I completely agree. It won't be science's success on the outside chance we make some good ones. That is my point: it is a political issue not a scientific one.

The religions you call superstition, while incorporating a great deal about the material world that science has proven (within a certain tolerance) false, also include a great deal about human psychology integrated into time scales significantly longer than any individual human life.

I chose a poor metaphor in "the current religion, the one we call science" that sidetracked my intent, but science can no more solve our problems for us than god.

jsn , December 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Second to last para should have read:

The religions you call superstition, while incorporating a great deal about the material world that science has proven (within a certain tolerance) false, also include a great deal about human psychology integrated into time scales and societies significantly larger than any individual human life that are both true and wise.

mpalomar , December 23, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Perhaps scientific hypothesis is codified superstition. An indefatigable and self perfecting method for discerning the universe, here on earth employed by a cognitively limited and imperfect biological organism.

As an atheist of sorts, the definition that religion, "is a parasitic excrescence of stable societies" strikes me more a definition of economics, particularly the capitalist incantation and that science operating without parameters of elements of religion and philosophy, would be useless, impossible or possibly fatally employed, without the admittedly meager ethical constraints applied currently.

jsn , December 23, 2017 at 1:05 pm

It has for a long time seemed to me that only "true believers" could have the confidence to throw out the entire body of something as ancient, vast and polyvalent as "religion".

jrs , December 23, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Maybe socialism really truly was the best shot at an belief system for how humans should live in the modern world.

While science is part of our knowledge of the world and it is necessary for this level of biosphere destruction, and certainly it's technologies are part of our life, I don't think it really informs the current VALUE system that much. I think the current value system is informed almost entirely by brutal capitalism, the ideology of mammon and wealth makes right period.

makedoanmend , December 23, 2017 at 2:25 pm

Science and religion are not equivalent, and I have yet to come across a scientist who claimed it to be so.

Religion is a belief system and has been useful system of inquiry to many people in present and past history. There may be some scientists who promote some sort of technophilia future but they are in the company with many non-scientists.

Many people often conflate those who hype Technological fixes for all social ills with strictly scientific enquiry. Technological fantasies and science are not equivalent.

Science is, at its basis, a method of inquiry based upon continual observations, collection of data and the experimental method. Scientific inquiry does not rest upon predicated truths but rather that ultimate truths are not known. Every law or theory, after rigorous testing, becomes the basic dogma for future hypotheses and new experimental endeavours. The scientific method is itself tested by using laws and theories to predict future events; Newtonian physics being a case in point. When theories lose their ability to predict future events with accuracy they are either modified or discarded. Sometimes, we just have to live with seeming contradictory conditions as between differences in Newtonian and quantum physics; yet Newtonian physics theories and practices are still valid at the scales in which we Homo sapiens operate. They are not based upon belief but upon practice.

Nor does science try and engineer social structures – such as controlling populations. That is not the role of science or scientists. Science merely records the data and tries to predict the consequences of changing weather patterns, farming practices or population dynamics. However, these models are very complex. The job of scientist is to try and convey the information but scientists, like all the rest of us, operate in a political world.

And for those who are believers in a religion, I wish you a most happy holiday and success in your spiritual endeavours.

Thuto , December 23, 2017 at 6:36 pm

"And for those who are believers in a religion " Thank you for this statement, it's representative of true humility at work. While you do not state your religious belief system (or if indeed you have any), you're not dismissive of beliefs that others might hold as "codified superstition" (as one commentor does above). Deriding those who may believe that there's some intelligent consciousness that underpins life in the universe as superstitious is to suffer from a type of hubris. Live and let live, and this applies as well to religious fundamentalists of all stripes who've made it their mission in life to "save" others. In matters of faith (or lack thereof), one must always keep their own counsel in my view.

jrs , December 23, 2017 at 12:13 pm

I don't know if it's going to convince anyone, but it's not just a religious question but a historical one, only people spend their whole lives studying this stuff (how to interpret the Bible based on the culture and language of the time etc.), so while I like Hudson I think he may be out of his depth here.

Davidh J. , December 23, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Hudson's been studying this for a long time.

Lol. Fat fingers: spelled my name wrong: David J.

nilavar , December 23, 2017 at 2:17 pm

What about DEBT in far Easter religions – Hinduism. Buddhism, Janism, Shinto etc?

Hinduism (1. 3Billions+) is at least 4-5 thousand years old!

Norb , December 23, 2017 at 12:34 pm

What is the nature of Political Power? In order to rule society, public sentiment must be controlled and directed in a certain trajectory. Political and Spiritual power are dependent and cannot be separated. When they are, failure ensues.

The contemporary world is in the midst of a spiritual/religious crisis. The human mind and soul need an anchor in order to deal with the chaos inherent in the universe. What is human history other than one long chain of events illustrating humanities efforts to deal with this predicament.

Belief in a righteous cause, rooted in actual experience of daily life is what all religions are based on. Humanity is characterized by being builders and myth makers. When the myths fail to provide plausible explanations for life's struggles, societal collapse or new possibilities- new myths- must be undertaken. At the very least, a reinterpretation. Building cannot occur without a viable supporting myth.

It seems to me that humanity needs to reexamine spirituality more than ever- not abandon it. The world cannot be left to fools and charlatans.

freedeomny , December 23, 2017 at 9:44 am

Jesus as social activist .I like it!

Karen , December 23, 2017 at 9:55 am

I credit the Catholic church with developing my social conscience–back in the 1970s, when most pastors were old white men. It was a message delivered clearly and repeatedly.

Despite all of the other disappointments and hypocrisies we have seen in the years since, I do think that the church leaders I knew were sincere in this regard. In fact, I have always viewed this as the important contrast vis a vis Protestantism.

Though I am no theologian, so probably don't know what I'm talking about

diptherio , December 23, 2017 at 10:40 am

My mother attends a United Methodist church whose minister is an ex-Catholic nun, who decided she wanted to deliver sermons rather than receive them. While not real big on organized religion myself, I have been impressed by how much work they put into actually helping people. They built a whole facility in their basement for homeless people to come in a couple times a week, take a shower, shave, and get re-upped on toothpaste and whatnot. They definitely seem to take the "whatsoever you do unto the least of these, you do to me" line much more seriously than the congregations and leadership of other United Methodist churches Mom's attended, so maybe there is something to your thoughts on Catholic/Protestant differences in this area although, I have a feeling that things might be way different in, for instance, AME churches down South.

cnchal , December 23, 2017 at 9:58 am

. . . the attempt of society to cope with the fact that debts grow faster than the ability to pay ," . . .

Debt is the ultimate self licking ice cream cone. To pay off a debt and the interest implies that society as a whole is required to take on ever greater debt. From the ephor's (thank you knowbuddhau) perspective a perfect system.

knowbuddhau , December 23, 2017 at 12:45 pm

You're welcome. Still a bit mindblown by that.

ISTM a SLICC is a perpetual motion machine. Creditors can turn people into them with debt + interest. It's like some kind of special purpose vessel you can get in, but can't disembark, and it never gets you to the yonder shore like they promised. All you can do is row yourself to death.

I kinda think Jesus was working on more than one level. I think he had an insight that threatened the PTB of his time with disintermediation from between people and the divine.

The way I see it, the Gospel as I've understood it never got out. The most threatening idea was safely encapsulated in the personage and later cult of Jesus the Superfreak. I've always understood it to be the breaking of this taboo that made him such a threat to the PTB.

If we're all related to divinity as offspring to parent, then we all share in divinity. No one is any more divine than anyone else. A lot hinges on the article in a specific phrase.

Did he say, "I am *a* son of god," or did he say "I am THE son of god?" According to Alan Watts, the Greek article is indefinite. The whole idea of a special lineage exceptionally favored by the cosmic PTB (and of course innocently promulgated by its beneficiaries) obviously comes straight outta our primate past. As applied to modern human affairs, it's absurd.

No, I think he said, we're all worthy.

Before this, the only way I thought of Jesus in relation to money was, of course, overturning the tables in the temples. I am in all ya'll's virtual debt. ;-)

Help Me , December 23, 2017 at 10:03 am

End games, potential outcomes, so many possibilities.
Questions many would like to see answered:
What do the accumulators do with all that wealth?
When they acquire more than they can possibly spend, why acquire?
How much acquisition is to seek power over others?
What has happened in the past to acquirors and other power-seekers?
Will this current phantasm end in a Jubilee?

jrs , December 23, 2017 at 12:40 pm

I believe at a certain point wealth acquisition is all about power over others, if only more people clearly saw it that way.

One wants money to meet: basic needs, then a few consumer toys and a tiny bit of security, a little more security (get a 401k), then leisure and autonomy (win the lottery and quit your job!). Normal non-rich people can relate to these impulses, as they are basic human drives from survival to self-actualization. Though normal non-rich people's best collective shot at them would be socialism where there would be more economic security, and more autonomy, and more leisure FOR ALL.

But beyond a certain point money is ultimately about a sadistic drive for power over others. People need to see rich people for the sadistic f's they are and their hoarding of money proves it. They won't give it up because they have a sadistic drive to rule over others.

Carolinian , December 23, 2017 at 10:04 am

Great stuff. We lapsed Baptists remember one Biblical precept–apparently not mistranslated–from our Sunday school lessons: "money is the root of all evil." Per Hudson it might be interesting to speculate how many other of the world's historic sins boil down to money–slavery, racism (competition between underclass groups), antisemitism. In A Distant Mirror Barbara Tuchman wrote that the French medieval kings would declare a personal debt jubilee from war debts by encouraging the masses to launch a pogrom. No more creditors meant no more debt. During the pre WW 2 Nazi period Hitler said that the Jews were free to leave as long as they left their possessions behind.

Of course in current times autocrats no longer have to reconcile their behavior with traditional religion since it is widely in decline. Instead they invent new religious beliefs, based on failed economic theories.

JEHR , December 23, 2017 at 12:03 pm

See here .

Carolinian , December 23, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Yes, I know. In fact that's the standard comebacker for defenders of the Prosperity Gospel .they don't love money. Rather they, like Lucy in Peanuts, just want what's coming to them.

I'd say the short form versus the long form is a distinction without a difference. See Michael Hudson above.

lyman alpha blob , December 23, 2017 at 10:22 am

Never much enjoyed going to church as a kid but I did have to go frequently and absorbed a lot whether I liked it or not. Every so often we would go to a service out of town and they would recite the lord's prayer with 'forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us'. It always sounded off to me and didn't exactly roll of the tongue. Our church used 'debt' and 'debtors' which in retrospect I'm quite grateful for.

diptherio , December 23, 2017 at 10:44 am

We always used the "trespass" version, growing up, so I thought for a long time that this was all to do with how to handle people in your front yard, or hunting on your acreage without permission.

EyeRound , December 23, 2017 at 11:35 am

Yes, indeed. This made me think:

If the (older) European cultures confounded "debt" with some notion of "sin" as with the German word "Schuld," then the newer American version is to confound "debt" with "real estate."

Hudson also has plenty of insights regarding the reciprocity between banks and land ownership.

So here's another question, the upshot of these 2 thoughts: could it be that Americans know, subliminally, that owning land is sinful?

jrs , December 23, 2017 at 12:53 pm

perhaps it is, or perhaps merely owning land more than meets one's own needs is sinful (being a landlord – ie a rentier), but certainly humans lived most of their time on earth without land ownership at all.

Darius , December 23, 2017 at 10:59 am

Debts is the King James Version Lord's Prayer. We say "debts" in my church.

Hudson's approach is appealing. It would be more useful if he cited chapter and verse. Perhaps the book does.

Synoia , December 23, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Debts is most certainly NOT in the King James version of the Lord's prayer.

It is "trespass." We recited the Laord's prayer at school once a day from age 5 to 18. It sort of sticks after a few recitations.

I can also go to a Church of England service, and automatically say the refrains after the Vicar start them.

The programming is both interesting and a little frightening.

Steven Bailey , December 23, 2017 at 10:54 am

Puerto Rico really needs a "debt jubilee"! for Christmas.

flora , December 23, 2017 at 11:00 am

Great post. Thank you.

To file in the category of "the more things change ":

Last year's prez primaries were very much about the current neoliberal economic system enriching the .01% and the growing indebtedness and despair of the 99%, imo. And now we see the Dem estab pushing, imo, a sex hysteria as the greatest destructive force that needs to be addressed, while ignoring the destructive force of neoliberal economics and debt and deaths from despair. The notion of sin is again transferred from economics to sex.

Robert McGregor , December 23, 2017 at 12:13 pm

> @flora "And now we see the Dem estab pushing, imo, a sex hysteria as the greatest destructive force that needs to be addressed, while ignoring the destructive force of neoliberal economics . . . "

Amazing the Dems are now doing the age-old distraction of diverting the discussion to sex rather than economics. I thought just the political right does that! Ancient creditors changed the discussion from "economic unfairness" to "sexual sins." Modern US Republicans changed it from "economic unfairness" to social issues like abortion, and sexuality. So why are the Dems doing the same? Yves Smith has talked about the #METOO hysteria being a rich women's movement. The news is about movie star women being wronged. Maybe it's just a "Maslow hierarchy" sort of thing. When you are a millionaire movie star–or an affluent pundit–then you can worry about being sexually harassed in your past. If you're a waitress, your economic survival is foremost in your thinking. Economic class determines taste and worry.

Mark P. , December 23, 2017 at 1:18 pm

the Dems are now doing the age-old distraction of diverting the discussion to sex rather than economics. I thought just the political right does that

The Dems are the political right. The Reps are the far right.

Rates , December 23, 2017 at 11:05 am

I don't think the rich has any objection to debt forgiveness. They already own almost everything anyway. Heck, once debt forgiveness happens, they'll take more debt and then ask for another round of forgiveness. A couple of rounds like that and they'll really own everything. Hurrah!!!

Foreclosure though for everyone will I think wipe out the rich as well since they sure have debts up the wazoo.

Ian , December 23, 2017 at 12:13 pm

This is the key. Debt forgiveness for the right people, the rich.

jrs , December 23, 2017 at 12:56 pm

well it might not be sufficient, probably also need wealth re-distribution from a tiny minority to the great majority.

lyle , December 23, 2017 at 12:11 pm

BTW what is the reading in the oldest greek gospels, and for comparison if avaiable the Syriac gospels of the Nestorian churches (Syriac was a much closer language to Aramaic than greek)
Likewise the reading in the Hebrew language version versus the Septuigant? I maintain that even if you belive god inspired the original texts sinful humans translated it and in the old days copied it. So the version we have today may or may not be close to the original.

DJG , December 23, 2017 at 12:26 pm

I realize that this is an excerpt from the book, but the idea that sin and debt are equated in the Bible is off. There is no mention here of hamartia, a Greek term that was used for sin.

To quote Wikipedia:
"Hamartia is also used in Christian theology because of it