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Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
and Alliance of Transnational Elites

Neoliberalism is inseparable from imperialism and globalization

Who Rules America > Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism

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Fifth Column of Globalization Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries US Department of Imperial Expansion Diplomacy by deception Democracy as a universal opener for access to natural resources American imperialism: the attempt to secure global hegemony
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Introduction

All U.S. schoolchildren should be taught, as part of their basic civics education, by conscientious elementary, middle school and high school teachers, that they live in an imperialist country. The term itself ought to be popularized. This is what politicians like Obama actually refer to, elliptically, when they call the U.S. “exceptional.

Gary Leupp, The U.S. Versus ISIS

Looks like the USA successfully managed to recreate Imperial Rome on a new level, neoliberalism level. See Empires Then and Now - PaulCraig

The idea financial imperialism is simple. Instead of old-fashion military occupation of the country, take over the countries in crisis, if necessary remove their democratically elected governments from power by claiming that election are falsified and/or official are corrupted, and/or the government is authoritarian (unlike the puppets they want to install). They use the installed puppets to mandate austerity, burden the country with debt  and facilitate condition under which most of which will be stolen and repatriated to the West.

But neoliberals take this old idea to a new level -- the crisis can be manufactured. The scheme looks like the following (see IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement discussion of Greece for more information):

After installation of a puppet government, it is relatively easy to use Fifth column based government to protect foreign financial interests. Now you can recoup the costs and enjoy the profits. Much cheaper and more humane then bombing the country and killing a couple of hundred thousand people to achieve the same goals (Iraq variant) or by arming and training  jihadists (using Saudi and Gulf monarchies money) and tribal elements to depose the government (Libya and Syria variants) who kill as much, if nor more. 

A classic recent examples were Yeltsin's government in Russia, Yushchenko regime in Ukraine,  Poroshenko-Yatsenyuk duo in Ukraine and sequence of neoliberal governments in Greece. 

In other words neoliberalism is inseparable from imperialism and globalization (Neoliberalism A Critical Reader Alfredo Saad-Filho, Deborah Johnston, p. 2)

In the conventional (or mainstream) discourse, imperialism is either absent or, more recently, proudly presented as the ‘AmericanBurden': to civilize the world and bring to all the benediction of the Holy Trinity, the green-faced Lord Dollar and its deputies and occasional rivals. Holy Euro and Saint Yen. New converts win a refurbished international airport, one brand-new branch of McDonald’s, two luxury hotels, 3,000 NGOs and one US military base.

This offer cannot be refused - or else.2 In turn, globalisation is generally presented as an inescapable, inexorable and benevolent process leading to greater competition, welfare improvements and the spread of democracy around the world. In reality, however, the so-called process of globalisation - to the extent that it actually exists (see Saad-Rlho 2003) - is merely the international face of neoliberalism: a world-wide strategy of accumulation and social discipline that doubles up as tin imperialist project, spearheaded by the alliance between the US ruling class and locally dominant capitalist coalitions.

This ambitious power project centered on neoliberalism at home and imperial globalism abroad is implemented by diverse social and economic political alliances in each country, but the interests of local finance and the US ruling class, itself dominated by finance, are normally hegemonic.

...the United States, the United Kingdom and east and south-east Asia respectively, neoliberalism is a particular organisation of capitalism, which has evolved to protect capital(ism) and to reduce the power of labour. This is achieved by means of social, economic and political transformations imposed by internal forces as well as external pressure. The internal forces include the coalition between financial interests, leading industrialists, traders and exporters, media barons, big landowners, local political chieftains, the top echelons of the civil service and the military, and their intellectual and political proxies. These groups are closely connected with ‘global’ ideologies emanating from the centre, and they tend to adapt swiftly to the demands beamed from the metropolis. Their efforts have led to a significant worldwide shift in powerrelations away from the majority. Corporate power has increased, while finance hits acquired unrivalled influence, and the political spectrum has shifted towards the right. Left parties and mass organisations have imploded, while trade unions have been muzzled or disabled by unemployment. Forms of external pressure have included the diffusion of Western culture and ideology, foreign support for state and civil society institutions peddling neolibcral values, the shameless use of foreign aid, debt relief and balance of payments support to promote the neoliberal programme, and diplomatic pressure, political unrest and military intervention when necessary.

...the ruling economic and political forces in the European Union have instrumentalised the process of integration to ensure the hegemony of neoliberalism. This account is complemented by the segmentation of Eastern Europe into countries that are being drawn into a Western European-style neoliberalism and others that are following Russia’s business oligarchy model.

In sum, neoliberalism is everywhere both the outcome and the arena of social conflicts. It sets the political and economic agenda, limits the possible outcomes, biases expectations, and imposes urgent tasks on those challenging its assumptions, methods and consequences.

In the meantime, neoliberal theory has not remained static. In order to deal with the most powerful criticisms leveled against neoliberalism, that it has increased poverty and social dislocation around the world, neoliberal theory has attempted to present the ogre in a more favorable light. In spite of the substantial resources invested in this ideologically inspired make-over, these amendments have remained unconvincing, not least because the heart of the neoliberal project has remained unchanged. This is discussed in Chapter 15 for poverty and distribution, while Chapter 21 unpicks the agenda of the ‘Third Way', viewed by many as ‘neoliberalism with a human face’.

Neoliberalism offered a finance-friendly solution to the problems of capital accumulation at the end of a relatively long cycle of prosperity. Chapters 1. 22 and 30 show that neoliberalism imposed discipline upon a restless working class through contractionary fiscal and monetary policies and wide-ranging initiatives to curtail social rights, under the guise of anti-inflation and productivity-enhancing measures. Neoliberalism also rationalised the transfer of state capacity to allocate resources inter-temporally (the balance between investment and consumption) and inter-sectorally (the distribution of investment, employment and output) towards an increasingly internationally integrated (and US-led) financial sector. In doing so, neoliberalism facilitated a gigantic transfer of resources to the local rich and the United States, as is shown by Chapters 11 and 15.

The “elephant in the room” is peak oil (plato oil to be more correct) and the plato of food production. Without "cheap oil" extraction growing, it is more difficult to sustain both  population growth and rising standard of living simultaneously. It became the situation of iether/or.

So the future it does not look pretty. As soon as "cheap oil"  escape the current plato,  Western financial system gets into trouble: private banks based fractional reserve banking requires economy expansion for survival.  Essentially they add positive feedback loop to the economy, greatly increasing the instability.  That connection was discovered by Hyman Minsky. Minsky explored a form of instability that is embedded in neoliberal/financialized economies resulting from the use of fiat currency and fractional reserve banking. he argued that such an economy automatically generates bubbles, bursting of which result in periodic deep economic crisis. Which are not an exception, but a feature of neoliberal capitalism (aka "supercapitalism", or "casino capitalism).  

When Minsky crisis hits  some, less important, banks will implode and strategically important need to be saved by government at a great expense for taxpayers. The western elite is well aware of this possibility and will steal, loot and pillage as fast as they can to prolong the agony...  Neoliberal expansion and conversion of other countries into debt slaves thus serves as a substitute for economic growth.

What actually is devalued in austerity programs imposed on indebted nations via currency depreciation is the price of local labor (along with standard of living of the most population). So austerity programs caused a huge drop in the standard of living of population. For example after EuroMaydan color revolution the standard of living in Ukraine dropped to the level of the most poor countries of Africa  (less then $2 a day for the majority of population).

This is a pretty instructive example.   It qlso cur domestic consumption of fuels and minerals, consumer goods, and food.  As wages are sticky and it is difficult to reduced them directly (via high unemployment, leading to falling wages). But the currency depreciation can do the same trick even more effectively. For example since February 22 coup d'état, grivna, the Ukrainian currency depreciated from 8 to 28 grivna to dollar, or approximately 350%.

This is how war of creditors against debtor countries turns into a class war. But to impose such neoliberal reforms, foreign pressure is necessary to bypass domestic, democratically elected Parliaments. Not every country’s voters can be expected to be as passive in acting against their own interests as those of Latvia and Ireland. The financial capital objective is to bypass parliament by demanding a “consensus” (facilitated by a huge foreign debt) to put foreign creditors first, above the national economy. This is the essence of the status of debt slave country. Civil war it a perfect tool to accelerate this process. 

Buying natural monopolies in transportation, communications, and the land from the public domain for pennies on the dollar now can be called "rescue package", not the road to debt peonage and a financial neo-feudalism that is a grim reality of "debt slave" countries, where populations are indentured laborers of international capital. Let me state it very simply : "the borrower [debtor] is SERVANT to the lender" ( Wikipedia ):

An indentured servant or indentured laborer is an employee (indenturee) within a system of unfree labor who is bound by a signed or forced contract (indenture) to work for a particular employer for a fixed time. The contract often lets the employer sell the labor of an indenturee to a third party. Indenturees usually enter into an indenture for a specific payment or other benefit, or to meet a legal obligation, such as debt bondage.

The whole point of creating debt is to gain control of and rule over such countries.  Prof. Hudson's article Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011) illustrates this point admirably.

At the same time then comes to bailing out bankers who overplayed with derivatives, all rules are ignored – in order to serve the “higher justice” of saving banks and their high-finance counterparties from taking a loss. This is quite a contrast compared to IMF policy toward labor and “taxpayers.” The class war is back in business – with a vengeance, and bankers are the winners this time around.

Classic, textbook example of neocolonialism was rape of Russia in 1991-1999. See Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia

Henry C K Liu Views

One of the most interesting analysis of this new phenomena was provided by Henry C K Liu in his series of articles SUPER CAPITALISM, SUPER IMPERIALISM


PART 1: A Structural Link

Robert B Reich, former US Secretary of Labor and resident neo-liberal in the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1997, wrote in the September 14, 2007 edition of The Wall Street Journal an opinion piece, "CEOs Deserve Their Pay", as part of an orchestrated campaign to promote his new book: Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Afred A Knopf).

Reich is a former Harvard professor and the former Maurice B Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He is currently a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California (Berkley) and a regular liberal gadfly in the unabashed supply-side Larry Kudlow TV show that celebrates the merits of capitalism.

Reich's Supercapitalism brings to mind Michael Hudson's Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1972-2003). While Reich, a liberal turned neo-liberal, sees "supercapitalism" as the natural evolution of insatiable shareholder appetite for gain, a polite euphemism for greed, that cannot or should not be reined in by regulation, Hudson, a Marxist heterodox economist, sees "super imperialism" as the structural outcome of post-World War II superpower geopolitics, with state interests overwhelming free market forces, making regulation irrelevant. While Hudson is critical of "super imperialism" and thinks that it should be resisted by the weaker trading partners of the US, Reich gives the impression of being ambivalent about the inevitability, if not the benignity, of "supercapitalism".

The structural link between capitalism and imperialism was first observed by John Atkinson Hobson (1858-1940), an English economist, who wrote in 1902 an insightful analysis of the economic basis of imperialism. Hobson provided a humanist critique of neoclassical economics, rejecting exclusively materialistic definitions of value. With Albert Frederick Mummery (1855-1895), the great British mountaineer who was killed in 1895 by an avalanche while reconnoitering Nanga Parbat, an 8,000-meter Himalayan peak, Hobson wrote The Physiology of Industry (1889), which argued that an industrial economy requires government intervention to maintain stability, and developed the theory of over-saving that was given a glowing tribute by John Maynard Keynes three decades later.

The need for governmental intervention to stabilize an expanding national industrial economy was the rationale for political imperialism. On the other side of the coin, protectionism was a governmental counter-intervention on the part of weak trading partners for resisting imperialist expansion of the dominant power. Historically, the processes of globalization have always been the result of active state policy and action, as opposed to the mere passive surrender of state sovereignty to market forces. Market forces cannot operate in a vacuum. They are governed by man-made rules. Globalized markets require the acceptance by local authorities of established rules of the dominant economy. Currency monopoly of course is the most fundamental trade restraint by one single dominant government.

Adam Smith published Wealth of Nations in 1776, the year of US independence. By the time the constitution was framed 11 years later, the US founding fathers were deeply influenced by Smith's ideas, which constituted a reasoned abhorrence of trade monopoly and government policy in restricting trade. What Smith abhorred most was a policy known as mercantilism, which was practiced by all the major powers of the time. It is necessary to bear in mind that Smith's notion of the limitation of government action was exclusively related to mercantilist issues of trade restraint. Smith never advocated government tolerance of trade restraint, whether by big business monopolies or by other governments in the name of open markets.

A central aim of mercantilism was to ensure that a nation's exports remained higher in value than its imports, the surplus in that era being paid only in specie money (gold-backed as opposed to fiat money). This trade surplus in gold permitted the surplus country, such as England, to invest in more factories at home to manufacture more for export, thus bringing home more gold. The importing regions, such as the American colonies, not only found the gold reserves backing their currency depleted, causing free-fall devaluation (not unlike that faced today by many emerging-economy currencies), but also wanting in surplus capital for building factories to produce for domestic consumption and export. So despite plentiful iron ore in America, only pig iron was exported to England in return for English finished iron goods. The situation was similar to today's oil producing countries where despite plentiful crude oil, refined petrochemical products such as gasoline and heating oil have to be imported.

In 1795, when the newly independent Americans began finally to wake up to their disadvantaged trade relationship and began to raise European (mostly French and Dutch) capital to start a manufacturing industry, England decreed the Iron Act, forbidding the manufacture of iron goods in its American colonies, which caused great dissatisfaction among the prospering colonials.

Smith favored an opposite government policy toward promoting domestic economic production and free foreign trade for the weaker traders, a policy that came to be known as "laissez faire" (because the English, having nothing to do with such heretical ideas, refuse to give it an English name). Laissez faire, notwithstanding its literal meaning of "leave alone", meant nothing of the sort. It meant an activist government policy to counteract mercantilism. Neo-liberal free-market economists are just bad historians, among their other defective characteristics, when they propagandize "laissez faire" as no government interference in trade affairs.

Friedrich List, in his National System of Political Economy (1841), asserts that political economy as espoused in England, far from being a valid science universally, was merely British national opinion, suited only to English historical conditions. List's institutional school of economics asserts that the doctrine of free trade was devised to keep England rich and powerful at the expense of its trading partners and it must be fought with protective tariffs and other protective devices of economic nationalism by the weaker countries.

Henry Clay's "American system" was a national system of political economy. US neo-imperialism in the post WWII period disingenuously promotes neo-liberal free-trade against governmental protectionism to keep the US rich and powerful at the expense of its trading partners. Before the October Revolution of 1917, many national liberation movements in European colonies and semi-colonies around the world were influenced by List's economic nationalism. The 1911 Nationalist Revolution in China, led by Sun Yat-sen, was heavily influenced by Lincoln's political ideas - government of the people, by the people and for the people - and the economic nationalism of List, until after the October Revolution when Sun realized that the Soviet model was the correct path to national revival.

Hobson's magnum opus, Imperialism, (1902), argues that imperialistic expansion is driven not by state hubris, known in US history as "manifest destiny", but by an innate quest for new markets and investment opportunities overseas for excess capital formed by over-saving at home for the benefit of the home state. Over-saving during the industrial age came from Richardo's theory of the iron law of wages, according to which wages were kept perpetually at subsistence levels as a result of uneven market power between capital and labor. Today, job outsourcing that returns as low-price imports contributes to the iron law of wages in the US domestic economy. (See my article Organization of Labor Exporting Countries [OLEC]).

Hobson's analysis of the phenology (study of life cycles) of capitalism was drawn upon by Lenin to formulate a theory of imperialism as an advanced stage of capitalism:

"Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capitalism is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed." (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, 1916, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Chapter 7).

Lenin was also influenced by Rosa Luxemberg, who three year earlier had written her major work, The Accumulation of Capital: A Contribution to an Economic Explanation of Imperialism (Die Akkumulation des Kapitals: Ein Beitrag zur ökonomischen Erklärung des Imperialismus), 1913). Luxemberg, together with Karl Liebknecht a founding leader of the Spartacist League (Spartakusbund), a radical Marxist revolutionary movement that later renamed itself the Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, or KPD), was murdered on January 15, 1919 by members of the Freikorps, rightwing militarists who were the forerunners of the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA) led by Ernst Rohm.

The congenital association between capitalism and imperialism requires practically all truly anti-imperialist movements the world over to be also anti-capitalist. To this day, most nationalist capitalists in emerging economies are unwitting neo-compradors for super imperialism. Neo-liberalism, in its attempts to break down all national boundaries to facilitate global trade denominated in fiat dollars, is the ideology of super imperialism.

Hudson, the American heterodox economist, historian of ancient economies and post-WW II international balance-of-payments specialist, advanced in his 1972 book the notion of 20th century super imperialism. Hudson updated Hobson's idea of 19th century imperialism of state industrial policy seeking new markets to invest home-grown excess capital. To Hudson, super imperialism is a state financial strategy to export debt denominated in the state's fiat currency as capital to the new financial colonies to finance the global expansion of a superpower empire.

No necessity, or even intention, was entertained by the superpower of ever having to pay off these paper debts after the US dollar was taken off gold in 1971.

Monetary Imperialism and Dollar Hegemony

Super imperialism transformed into monetary imperialism after the 1973 Middle East oil crisis with the creation of the petrodollar and two decades later emerged as dollar hegemony through financial globalization after 1993. As described in my 2002 AToL article, Dollar hegemony has to go, a geopolitical phenomenon emerged after the 1973 oil crisis in which the US dollar, a fiat currency since 1971, continues to serve as the primary reserve currency for  international trade because oil continues to be denominated in fiat dollars as a result of superpower geopolitics, leading to dollar hegemony in 1993 with the globalization of deregulated financial markets.

Three causal developments allowed dollar hegemony to emerge over a span of two decades after 1973 and finally take hold in 1993. US fiscal deficits from overseas spending since the 1950s caused a massive drain in US gold holdings, forcing the US in 1971 to abandon the 1945 Bretton Woods regime of fixed exchange rate based on a gold-backed dollar. Under that international financial architecture, cross-border flow of funds was not considered necessary or desirable for promoting international trade or domestic development. The collapse of the 1945 Bretton Woods regime in 1971 was the initial development toward dollar hegemony.

The second development was the denomination of oil in dollars after the 1973 Middle East oil crisis. The emergence of petrodollars was the price the US, still only one of two contending superpowers in 1973, extracted from defenseless oil-producing nations for allowing them to nationalize the Western-owned oil industry on their soil. As long as oil transactions are denominated in fiat dollars, the US essentially controls all the oil in the world financially regardless of specific ownership, reducing all oil producing nations to the status of commodity agents of dollar hegemony.

The third development was the global deregulation of financial markets after the Cold War, making cross-border flow of funds routine, and a general relaxation of capital and foreign exchange control by most governments involved in international trade. This neo-liberal trade regime brought into existence a foreign exchange market in which free-floating exchange rates made computerized speculative attacks on weak currencies a regular occurrence. These three developments permitted the emergence of dollar hegemony after 1994 and helped the US win the Cold War with financial power derived from fiat money.

Dollar hegemony advanced super imperialism one stage further from the financial to the monetary front. Industrial imperialism sought to achieve a trade surplus by exporting manufactured good to the colonies for gold to fund investment for more productive plants at home. Super imperialism sought to extract real wealth from the colonies by paying for it with fiat dollars to sustain a balance of payments out of an imbalance in the exchange of commodities. Monetary imperialism under dollar hegemony exports debt denominated in fiat dollars through a permissive trade deficit with the new colonies, only to re-import the debt back to the US as capital account surplus to finance the US debt bubble.

The circular recycling of dollar-denominated debt was made operative by the dollar, a fiat currency that only the US can print at will, continuing as the world's prime reserve currency for international trade and finance, backed by US geopolitical superpower. Dollars are accepted universally because oil is denominated in dollars and everyone needs oil and thus needs dollars to buy oil. Any nation that seeks to denominate key commodities, such as oil, in currencies other than the dollar will soon find itself invaded by the sole superpower. Thus the war on Iraq is not about oil, as former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan suggested recently. It is about keeping oil denominated in dollars to protect dollar hegemony. The difference is subtle but of essential importance.

Since 1993, central banks of all trading nations around the world, with the exception of the US Federal Reserve, have been forced to hold more dollar reserves than they otherwise need to ward off the potential of sudden speculative attacks on their currencies in unregulated global financial markets. Thus "dollar hegemony" prevents the exporting nations, such as the Asian Tigers, from spending domestically the dollars they earn from the US trade deficit and forces them to fund the US capital account surplus, shipping real wealth to the US in exchange for the privilege of financing further growth of the US debt economy.

Not only do these exporting nations have to compete by keeping their domestic wages down and by prostituting their environment, the dollars that they earn cannot be spent at home without causing a monetary crisis in their own currencies because the dollars they earn have to be exchanged into local currencies before they can be spent domestically, causing an excessive rise in their domestic money supply which in turn causes domestic inflation-pushed bubbles. While the trade-surplus nations are forced to lend their export earnings back to the US, these same nations are starved for capital, as global capital denominated in dollars will only invest in their export sectors to earn more dollars. The domestic sector with local currency earnings remains of little interest to global capital denominated in dollars. As a result, domestic development stagnates for lack of capital.

Dollar hegemony permits the US to transform itself from a competitor in world markets to earn hard money, to a fiat-money-making monopoly with fiat dollars that only it can print at will. Every other trading nation has to exchange low-wage goods for dollars that the US alone can print freely and that can be spent only in the dollar economy without monetary penalty.

The victimization of Japan and China

Japan is a classic victim of monetary imperialism. In 1990, as a result of Japanese export prowess, the Industrial Bank of Japan was the largest bank in the world, with a market capitalization of $57 billion. The top nine of the 10 largest banks then were all Japanese, trailed by Canadian Alliance in 10th place. No US bank made the top-10 list. By 2001, the effects of dollar hegemony have pushed Citigroup into first place with a market capitalization of $260 billion. Seven of the top 10 largest financial institutions in the world in 2001 were US-based, with descending ranking in market capitalization: Citigroup ($260 billion), AIG ($209 billion), HSBC (British-$110 billion), Berkshire Hathaway ($100 billion), Bank of America ($99 billion), Fanny Mae ($80 billion), Wells Fargo ($74 billion), JP Morgan Chase ($72 billion), RBS (British-$70 billion) and UBS (Swiss-$67 billion). No Japanese bank survived on the list.

China is a neoclassic case of dollar hegemony victimization even though its domestic financial markets are still not open and the yuan is still not freely convertible. With over $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves earned at a previously lower fixed exchange rate of 8.2 to a dollar set in 1985, now growing at the rate of $1 billion a day at a narrow-range floating exchange rate of around 7.5 since July 2005, China cannot spend much of it dollar holdings on domestic development without domestic inflation caused by excessive expansion of its yuan money supply. The Chinese economy is overheating because the bulk of its surplus revenue is in dollars from exports that cannot be spent inside China without monetary penalty. Chinese wages are too low to absorb sudden expansion of yuan money supply to develop the domestic economy. And with over $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, equal to its annual GDP, China cannot even divest from the dollar without having the market effect of a falling dollar moving against its remaining holdings.

The People's Bank of China announced on July 20, 2005 that effective immediately the yuan exchange rate would go up by 2.1% to 8.11 yuan to the US dollar and that China would drop the dollar peg to its currency. In its place, China would move to a "managed float" of the yuan, pegging the currency's exchange value to an undisclosed basket of currencies linked to its global trade. In an effort to limit the amount of volatility, China would not allow the currency to fluctuate by more than 0.3% in any one trading day. Linking the yuan to a basket of currencies means China's currency is relatively free from market forces acting on the dollar, shifting to market forces acting on a basket of currencies of China's key trading partners. The basket is composed of the euro, yen and other Asian currencies as well as the dollar. Though the precise composition of the basket was not disclosed, it can nevertheless be deduced by China's trade volume with key trading partners and by mathematical calculation from the set-daily exchange rate.

Thus China is trapped in a trade regime operating on an international monetary architecture in which it must continue to export real wealth in the form of underpaid labor and polluted environment in exchange for dollars that it must reinvest in the US. Ironically, the recent rise of anti-trade sentiment in US domestic politics offers China a convenient, opportune escape from dollar hegemony to reduce its dependence on export to concentrate on domestic development. Chinese domestic special interest groups in the export sector would otherwise oppose any policy to slow the growth in export if not for the rise of US protectionism which causes shot-term pain for China but long-term benefit in China's need to restructure its economy toward domestic development. Further trade surplus denominated in dollar is of no advantage to China.

Emerging markets are new colonies of monetary imperialism

Even as the domestic US economy declined after the onset of globalization in the early 1990s, US dominance in global finance has continued to this day on account of dollar hegemony. It should not be surprising that the nation that can print at will the world's reserve currency for international trade should come up on top in deregulated global financial markets. The so-called emerging markets around the world are the new colonies of monetary imperialism in a global neo-liberal trading regime operating under dollar hegemony geopolitically dominated by the US as the world's sole remaining superpower.

Denial of corporate social responsibility

In Supercapitalism, Reich identifies corporate social responsibility as a diversion from economic efficiency and an un-capitalistic illusion. Of course the late Milton Friedman had asserted that the only social responsibility of corporations is to maximize profit, rather than to generate economic well-being and balanced growth through fair profits. There is ample evidence to suggest that a single-minded quest for maximizing global corporate profit can lead to domestic economic decline in even the world's sole remaining superpower. The US public is encouraged to blame such decline on the misbehaving trading partners of the US rather than US trade policy that permits US transnational corporation to exploit workers in all trading nations, including those in the US. It is a policy that devalues work by over-rewarding financial manipulation.

Yet to Reich, the US corporate income tax is regressive and inequitable and should be abolished so that after-tax corporate profit can be even further enhanced. This pro-profit position is at odds with even rising US Republican sentiment against transnational corporations and their global trade strategies. Reich also thinks the concept of corporate criminal liability is based on an "anthropomorphic fallacy" that ends up hurting innocent people. Reich sees as inevitable an evolutionary path towards an allegedly perfect new world of a super-energetic capitalism responding to the dictate of all-powerful consumer preference through market democracy.

Reich argues that corporations cannot be expected to be more "socially responsible" than their shareholders or even their consumers, and he implies that consumer preference and behavior are the proper and effective police forces that supersede the need for market regulation. He sees corporations, while viewed by law as "legal persons", as merely value-neutral institutional respondents of consumer preferences in global markets. Reich claims that corporate policies, strategies and behavior in market capitalism are effectively governed by consumer preferences and need no regulation by government. This is essentially the ideology of neo-liberalism.

Yet US transnational corporations derive profit from global operations serving global consumers to maximize return on global capital. These transnational corporations will seek to shift production to where labor is cheapest and environmental standards are lowest and to market their products where prices are highest and consumer purchasing power the strongest. Often, these corporations find it more profitable to sell products they themselves do not make, controlling only design and marketing, leaving the dirty side of manufacturing to others with underdeveloped market power. This means if the US wants a trade surplus under the current terms of trade, it must lower it wages. The decoupling of consumers from producers weakens the conventional effects of market pressure on corporate social responsibility. Transnational corporations have no home community loyalty. Consumers generally do not care about sweat shop conditions overseas while overseas workers do not care about product safety on goods they produce but cannot afford to buy. Products may be made in China, but they are not made by China, but by US transnational corporations which are responsible for the quality and safety of their products.

Further, it is well recognized that corporations routinely and effectively manipulate consumer preference and market acceptance often through if not false, at least misleading advertising, not for the benefit of consumers, but to maximize return on faceless capital raised from global capital markets. The subliminal emphasis by the corporate culture on addictive acquisition of material things, coupled with a structural deprivation of adequate income to satisfy the manipulated desires, has made consumers less satisfied than in previous times of less material abundance. Corporations have been allowed to imbed consumption-urging messages into every aspect of modern life. The result is a disposable culture with packaged waste, an obesity crisis for all age groups, skyrocketing consumer debt, the privatization of public utilities that demand the same fee for basic services from rich and poor alike, causing a sharp disparity in affordability. It is a phenomenon described by Karl Marx as "Fetishism of Commodities".

Marx's concept of Fetishism of Commodities

Marx wrote in Das Kapital:[1]

The relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labor is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labor. This is the reason why the products of labor become commodities, social things whose qualities are at the same time perceptible and imperceptible by the senses … The existence of the things qua commodities, and the value relation between the products of labor which stamps them as commodities, have absolutely no connection with their physical properties and with the material relations arising therefrom. It is a definite social relation between men that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to find an analogy, we must have recourse to the mist-enveloped regions of the religious world. In that world, the productions of the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, and entering into relation both with one another and the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men's hands. This I call the Fetishism which attaches itself to the products of labor, as soon as they are produced as commodities, and which is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities. This Fetishism of Commodities has its origin … in the peculiar social character of the labor that produces them.
Marx asserts that "the mystical character of commodities does not originate in their use-value" (Section 1, p 71). Market value is derived from social relations, not from use-value which is a material phenomenon. Thus Marx critiques the Marginal Utility Theory by pointing out that market value is affected by social relationships. For example, the marginal utility of door locks is a function of the burglary rate in a neighborhood which in turn is a function of the unemployment rate. Unregulated free markets are a regime of uninhibited price gouging by monopolies and cartels.

Thus the nature of money cannot be adequately explained even in terms of the material-technical properties of gold, but only in terms of the factors behind man's desire and need for gold. Similarly, it is not possible to fully understand the price of capital from the technical nature of the means of production, but only from the social institution of private ownership and the terms of exchange imposed by uneven market power. Market capitalism is a social institution based on the fetishism of commodities.

Democracy threatened by the corporate state

While Reich is on target in warning about the danger to democracy posed by the corporate state, and in claiming that only people can be citizens, and only citizens should participate in democratic decision making, he misses the point that transnational corporations have transcended national boundaries. Yet in each community that these transnational corporations operate, they have the congenital incentive, the financial means and the legal mandate to manipulate the fetishism of commodities even in distant lands.

Moreover, representative democracy as practiced in the US is increasingly manipulated by corporate lobbying funded from high-profit-driven corporate financial resources derived from foreign sources controlled by management. Corporate governance is notoriously abusive of minority shareholder rights on the part of management. Notwithstanding Reich's rationalization of excessive CEO compensation, CEOs as a class are the most vocal proponents of corporate statehood. Modern corporations are securely insulated from any serious threats from consumer revolt. Inter-corporate competition presents only superficial and trivial choices for consumers. Motorists have never been offered any real choice on gasoline by oil companies or alternatives on the gasoline-guzzling internal combustion engine by car-makers.

High pay for CEOs

Reich asserts in his Wall Street Journal piece that modern CEOs in finance capitalism nowadays deserve their high pay because they have to be superstars, unlike their bureaucrat-like predecessors during industrial capitalism. Notwithstanding that one would expect a former labor secretary to argue that workers deserve higher pay, the challenge to corporate leadership in market capitalism has always been and will always remain management's ruthless pursuit of market leadership power, a euphemism for monopoly, by skirting the rule of law and regulations, framing legislative regimes through political lobbying, pushing down wages and worker benefits, increasing productivity by downsizing in an expanding market and manipulating consumer attitude through advertising. At the end of the day, the bottom line for corporate profit is a factor of lowering wage and benefit levels.

Reich seems to have forgotten that the captains of industry of 19th century free-wheeling capitalism were all superstars who evoked public admiration by manipulating the awed public into accepting the Horatio Alger myth of success through hard work, honesty and fairness. The derogatory term "robber barons" was first coined by protest pamphlets circulated by victimized Kansas farmers against ruthless railroad tycoons during the Great Depression.

The manipulation of the public will by moneyed interests is the most problematic vulnerability of US economic and political democracy. In an era when class warfare has taken on new sophistication, the accusation of resorting to class warfare argument is widely used to silence legitimate socio-economic protests. The US media is essentially owned by the moneyed interests. The decline of unionism in the US has been largely the result of anti-labor propaganda campaigns funded by corporations and government policies influenced by corporate lobbyists. The infiltration of organized crime was exploited to fan public anti-union sentiments while widespread corporate white collar crimes were dismissed as mere anomalies. (See Capitalism's bad apples: It's the barrel that's rotten)

Superman capitalism

As promoted by his permissive opinion piece, a more apt title for Reich's new book would be Superman Capitalism, in praise of the super-heroic qualities of successful corporate CEOs who deserve superstar pay. This view goes beyond even fascist superman ideology. The compensation of corporate CEOs in Nazi Germany never reached such obscene levels as those in US corporate land today.

Reich argues that CEOs deserve their super-high compensation, which has increased 600% in two decades, because corporate profits have also risen 600% in the same period. The former secretary of labor did not point out that wages rose only 30% in the same period. The profit/wage disparity is a growing cancer in the US-dominated global economy, causing over-production resulting from stagnant demand caused by inadequate wages. A true spokesman for labor would point out that enlightened modern management recognizes that the performance of a corporation is the sum total of effective team work between management and labor.

System analysis has long shown that collective effort on the part of the entire work force is indispensable to success in any complex organism. Further, a healthy consumer market depends on a balance between corporate earnings and worker earnings. Reich's point would be valid if US wages had risen by the same multiple as CEO pay and corporate profit, but he apparently thought that it would be poor etiquette to raise embarrassing issues as a guest writer in an innately anti-labor journal of Wall Street. Even then, unless real growth also rose 600% in two decades, the rise in corporate earning may be just an inflation bubble.

An introduction to economic populism

To be fair, Reich did address the income gap issue eight months earlier in another article, "An Introduction to Economic Populism" in the Jan-Feb, 2007 issue of The American Prospect, a magazine that bills itself as devoted to "liberal ideas". In that article, Reich relates a "philosophical" discussion he had with fellow neo-liberal cabinet member Robert Rubin, then treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, on two "simple questions".

The first question was: Suppose a proposed policy will increase the incomes of some people without decreasing the incomes of any others. Of course Reich must know that it is a question of welfare economics long ago answered by the "pareto optimum", which asserts that resources are optimally distributed when an individual cannot move into a better position without putting someone else into a worse position. In an unjust society, the pareto optimum will perpetuate injustice in the name of optimum resource allocation. "Should it be implemented? Bob and I agreed it should," writes Reich. Not exactly an earth-shaking liberal position. Rather, it is a classic neo-liberal posture.

And the second question: But suppose the people whose incomes will rise are already wealthier than everyone else. Although no one will lose ground, inequality will widen. Should it still be implemented? "I won't tell you where he and I came out on that second question," writes Reich without explaining why. He allows that "we agreed that people who don't share in such gains feel relatively poorer. Widening inequality also further tips the balance of political power in favor of the wealthy."

Of course, clear thinking would have left the second question mute because it would have invalidated the first question, as the real income of those whose nominal income has not fallen has indeed fallen relative to those whose nominal income has risen. In a macro monetary sense, it is not possible to raise the nominal income of some without lowering the real income of others. All incomes must rise together proportionally or inequality in after-inflation real income will increase.

Inequality only a new worry?

But for the sake of argument, let's go along with Reich's parable on welfare economics and financial equality. That conversation occurred a decade ago. Reich says in his January 2007 article that "inequality is far more worrisome now", as if it had not been or that the policies he and his colleagues in the Clinton administration, as evidenced by their answer to their own first question, did not cause the now "more worrisome" inequality. "The incomes of the bottom 90% of Americans have increased about 2% in real terms since then, while that of the top 1% has increased over 50%," Reich wrote in the matter of fact tone of an innocent bystander.

It is surprising that a former labor secretary would err even on the record on worker income. The US Internal Revenue Service reports that while incomes have been rising since 2002, the average income in 2005 was $55,238, nearly 1% less than in 2000 after adjusting for inflation. Hourly wage costs (including mandatory welfare contributions and benefits) grew more slowly than hourly productivity from 1993 to late 1997, the years of Reich's tenure as labor secretary. Corporate profit rose until 1997 before declining, meaning what should have gone to workers from productivity improvements went instead to corporate profits. And corporate profit declined after 1997 because of the Asian financial crisis, which reduced offshore income for all transnational companies, while domestic purchasing power remained weak because of sub-par worker income growth.

The break in trends in wages occurred when the unemployment rate sank to 5%, below the 6% threshold of NAIRU (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) as job creation was robust from 1993 onwards. The "reserve army of labor" in the war against inflation disappeared after the 1997 Asian crisis when the Federal Reserve injected liquidity into the US banking system to launch the debt bubble. According to NAIRU, when more than 94% of the labor force is employed, the war on wage-pushed inflation will be on the defensive. Yet while US inflation was held down by low-price imports from low-wage economies, US domestic wages fell behind productivity growth from 1993 onward. US wages could have risen without inflationary effects but did not because of the threat of further outsourcing of US jobs overseas. This caused corporate profit to rise at the expense of labor income during the low-inflation debt bubble years.

Income inequality in the US today has reached extremes not seen since the 1920s, but the trend started three decades earlier. More than $1 trillion a year in relative income is now being shifted annually from roughly 90,000,000 middle and working class families to the wealthiest households and corporations via corporate profits earned from low-wage workers overseas. This is why nearly 60% of Republicans polled support more taxes on the rich.

Carter the granddaddy of deregulation

The policies and practices responsible for today's widening income gap date back to the 1977-1981 period of the Carter administration which is justly known as the administration of deregulation. Carter's deregulation was done in the name of populism but the results were largely anti-populist. Starting with Carter, policies and practices by both corporations and government underwent a fundamental shift to restructure the US economy with an overhaul of job markets. This was achieved through widespread de-unionization, breakup of industry-wide collective bargaining which enabled management to exploit a new international division of labor at the expense of domestic workers.

The frontal assault on worker collective bargaining power was accompanied by a realigning of the progressive federal tax structure to cut taxes on the rich, a brutal neo-liberal global free-trade offensive by transnational corporations and anti-labor government trade policies. The cost shifting of health care and pension plans from corporations to workers was condoned by government policy. A wave of government-assisted compression of wages and overtime pay narrowed the wage gap between the lowest and highest paid workers (which will occur when lower-paid workers receive a relatively larger wage increase than the higher-paid workers with all workers receiving lower pay increases than managers). There was a recurring diversion of inflation-driven social security fund surpluses to the US fiscal budget to offset recurring inflation-adjusted federal deficits. This was accompanied by wholesale anti-trust deregulation and privatization of public sectors; and most egregious of all, financial market deregulation.

Carter deregulated the US oil industry four years after the 1973 oil crisis in the name of national security. His Democratic challenger, Senator Ted Kennedy, advocated outright nationalization. The Carter administration also deregulated the airlines, favoring profitable hub traffic at the expense of traffic to smaller cities. Air fares fell but service fell further. Delays became routine, frequently tripling door-to-door travel time. What consumers save in airfare, they pay dearly in time lost in delay and in in-flight discomfort. The Carter administration also deregulated trucking, which caused the Teamsters Union to support Ronald Reagan in exchange for a promise to delay trucking deregulation.

Railroads were also deregulated by Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 which eased regulations on rates, line abandonment, and mergers to allow the industry to compete with truck and barge transportation that had caused a financial and physical deterioration of the national rail network railroads. Four years later, Congress followed up with the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 which provided the railroads with greater pricing freedom, streamlined merger timetables, expedited the line abandonment process, and allowed confidential contracts with shippers. Although railroads, like other modes of transportation, must purchase and maintain their own rolling stock and locomotives, they must also, unlike competing modes, construct and maintain their own roadbed, tracks, terminals, and related facilities. Highway construction and maintenance are paid for by gasoline taxes. In the regulated environment, recovering these fixed costs hindered profitability for the rail industry.

After deregulation, the railroads sought to enhance their financial situation and improve their operational efficiency with a mix of strategies to reduce cost and maximize profit, rather than providing needed service to passengers around the nation. These strategies included network rationalization by shedding unprofitable capacity, raising equipment and operational efficiencies by new work rules that reduced safety margins and union power, using differential pricing to favor big shippers, and pursuing consolidation, reducing the number of rail companies from 65 to 5 today. The consequence was a significant increase of market power for the merged rail companies, decreasing transportation options for consumers and increasing rates for remote, less dense areas.

In the agricultural sector, rail network rationalization has forced shippers to truck their bulk commodity products greater distances to mainline elevators, resulting in greater pressure on and damage to rural road systems. For inter-modal shippers, profit-based network rationalization has meant reduced access - physically and economically - to Container on Flat Car (COFC) and Trailer on Flat Car (TOFC) facilities and services. Rail deregulation, as is true with most transportation and communication deregulation, produces sector sub-optimization with dubious benefits for the national economy by distorting distributional balance, causing congestion and inefficient use of land, network and lines.

Carter's Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) approach to radio and television regulation began in the mid-1970s as a search for relatively minor "regulatory underbrush" that could be cleared away for more efficient and cost-effective administration of the important rules that would remain. Congress largely went along with this updating trend, and initiated a few deregulatory moves of its own to make regulation more effective and responsive to contemporary conditions.

Reagan's anti-government fixation

The Reagan administration under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Mark Fowler in 1981 shifted deregulation to a fundamental and ideologically-driven reappraisal of regulations away from long-held principles central to national broadcasting policy appropriate for a democratic society. The result was removal of many longstanding rules to permit an overall reduction in FCC oversight of station ownership concentration and network operations. Congress grew increasingly wary of the pace of deregulation, however, and began to slow the pace of FCC deregulation by the late 1980s.

Specific deregulatory moves included (a) extending television licenses to five years from three in 1981; (b) expanding the number of television stations any single entity could own from seven in 1981 to 12 in 1985, with further changes in 1995; (c) abolishing guidelines for minimal amounts of non-entertainment programming in 1985; (d) elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987; (e) dropping, in 1985, FCC license guidelines for how much advertising could be carried; (f) leaving technical standards increasingly in the hands of licensees rather than FCC mandates; and (g) deregulation of television's competition, especially cable which went through several regulatory changes in the decade after 1983.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act eliminated the 40-station ownership cap on radio stations. Since then, the radio industry has experienced unprecedented consolidation. In June 2003, the FCC voted to overhaul limits on media ownership. Despite having held only one hearing on the complex issue of media consolidation over a 20-month review period, the FCC, in a party-line vote, voted 3-2 to overhaul limits on media concentration. The rule would (1) increase the aggregate television ownership cap to enable one company to own stations reaching 45% of our nation's homes (from 35%), (2) lift the ban on newspaper-television cross-ownership, and (3) allow a single company to own three television stations in large media markets and two in medium ones. In the largest markets, the rule would allow a single company to own up to three television stations, eight radio stations, the cable television system, cable television stations, and a daily newspaper. A wide range of public-interest groups filed an appeal with the Third Circuit, which stayed the effective date of the new rules.

According to a BIA Financial Network report released in July 2006, a total of 88 television stations had been sold in the first six months of 2006, generating a transaction value of $15.7 billion. In 2005, the same period saw the sale of just 21 stations at a value of $244 million, with total year transactions of $2.86 billion.

Congress passed a law in 2004 that forbids any network to own a group of stations that reaches more than 39% of the national television audience. That is lower than the 45% limit set in 2003, but more than the original cap of 35% set in 1996 under the Clinton administration - leading public interest groups to argue that the proposed limits lead to a stifling of local voices.

Newspaper-television cross-ownership remains a contentious issue. Currently prohibited, it refers to the "common ownership of a full-service broadcast station and a daily newspaper when the broadcast station's area of coverage (or "contour") encompasses the newspaper's city of publication".

Capping of local radio and television ownership is another issue. While the original rule prohibited it, currently a company can own at least one television and one radio station in a market. In larger markets, "a single entity may own additional radio stations depending on the number of other independently owned media outlets in the market".

Most broadcasters and newspaper publishers are lobbying to ease or end restrictions on cross-ownership; they say it has to be the future of the news business. It allows newsgathering costs to be spread across platforms, and delivers multiple revenue streams in turn. Their argument is also tied to a rapidly changing media consumption market, and to the diversity of opinions available to the consumer with the rise of the Internet and other digital platforms.

The arguments against relaxing media ownership regulations are put forth by consumer unions and other interest groups on the ground that consolidation in any form inevitably leads to a lack of diversity of opinion. Cross-ownership limits the choices for consumers, inhibits localism and gives excessive media power to one entity.

Professional and workers' guilds of the communication industry (the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of TV and Radio Artists among others) would like the FCC to keep in mind the independent voice, and want a quarter of all prime-time programming to come from independent producers. The Children's Media Policy Coalition suggested that the FCC limit local broadcasters to a single license per market, so that there is enough original programming for children. Other interest groups like the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters are worried about what impact the rules might have on station ownership by minorities.

Deregulatory proponents see station licensees not as "public trustees" of the public airwaves requiring the provision of a wide variety of services to many different listening groups. Instead, broadcasting has been increasingly seen as just another business operating in a commercial marketplace which did not need its management decisions questioned by government overseers, even though they are granted permission to use public airways. Opponents argue that deregulation violates a key mandate of the Communications Act of 1934 which requires licensees to operate in the public interest. Deregulation allows broadcasters to seek profits with little public service programming.

Clinton and telecommunications deregulation

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first major overhaul of US telecommunications law in nearly 62 years, amending the Communications Act of 1934, and leading to media consolidation. It was approved by Congress on January 3, 1996 and signed into law on February 8, 1996 by President Clinton, a Democrat whom some have labeled as the best president the Republicans ever had. The act claimed to foster competition, but instead it continued the historic industry consolidation begun by Reagan, whose actions reduced the number of major media companies from around 50 in 1983 to 10 in 1996 and 6 in 2005.

Regulation Q

The Carter administration increased the power of the Federal Reserve through the Depository Institutions and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA) of 1980 which was a necessary first step in ending the New Deal restrictions placed upon financial institutions, such as Regulation Q put in place by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and other restrictions on banks and financial institutions. The populist Regulation Q imposed limits and ceilings on bank and savings-and-loan (S&L) interest rates to provide funds for low-risk home mortgages. But with financial market deregulation, Regulation Q created incentives for US banks to do business outside the reach of US law, launching finance globalization. London came to dominate this offshore dollar business.

The populist Regulation Q, which regulated for several decades limits and ceilings on bank and S&L interest to serve the home mortgage sector, was phased out completely in March 1986. Banks were allowed to pay interest on checking account - the NOW accounts - to lure depositors back from the money markets. The traditional interest-rate advantage of the S&Ls was removed, to provide a "level playing field", forcing them to take the same risks as commercial banks to survive. Congress also lifted restrictions on S&Ls' commercial lending, which promptly got the whole industry into trouble that would soon required an unprecedented government bailout of depositors, with tax money. But the developers who made billions from easy credit were allowed to keep their profits. State usury laws were unilaterally suspended by an act of Congress in a flagrant intrusion on state rights. Carter, the well-intentioned populist, left a legacy of anti-populist policies. To this day, Greenspan continues to argue disingenuously that subprime mortgages helped the poor toward home ownership, instead of generating obscene profit for the debt securitization industry.

The party of Lincoln taken over by corporate interests

During the Reagan administration, corporate lobbying and electoral strategies allowed the corporate elite to wrest control of the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, from conservative populists. In the late 1980s, supply-side economics was promoted to allow corporate interests to dominate US politics at the expense of labor by arguing that the only way labor can prosper is to let capital achieve high returns, notwithstanding the contradiction that high returns on capital must come from low wages.

New legislation and laws, executive orders, federal government rule-making, federal agency decisions, and think-tank propaganda, etc, subsequently followed the new political landscape, assisting the implementation of new corporate policies and practices emerging from corporate headquarters rather than from the shop floor. Economists and analysts who challenged this voodoo theory were largely shut out of the media. Workers by the million were persuaded to abandon their institutional collective defender to fend for themselves individually in the name of freedom. It was a freedom to see their job security eroded and wages and benefits fall with no recourse.

Note
1. Das Kapital, Volume One, Part I: Commodities and Money, Chapter One: Commodities, Section I.

Next: PART 2: Global war on labor

Henry C K Liu is chairman of a New York-based private investment group. His website is at http://www.henryckliu.com.

Copyright 2007, Henry C K Liu

Super Imperialism - New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance [Paperback]

William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Hudson is a Wall Street economist who used to work at the Chase Manhattan Bank.

In Part One, he describes the rise of the American empire.

Part Two describes its institutions: the US-controlled World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, which all benefit the USA. The US has the sole veto power in all three.

Part Three describes what Herman Kahn called `the greatest rip-off ever achieved', the way the US's ruling class levies us all to pay for its aggressive wars, just as the Roman Empire levied tribute to pay for its constant wars. Similarly Britain, Germany and Japan all pay for the US's military bases in their countries.

In 1945, as in 1918, Britain led Europe's capitulation to the USA's debt demands. The British ruling class chose dependency on the US ruling class. The USA insisted that Britain ended the sterling bloc, accepted IMF controls, did not impose exchange controls, and did not devalue. As Hudson writes, "The Anglo-American Loan Agreement spelled the end of Britain as a Great Power."

The 1945-51 Labour government's huge spending on unnecessary imperial, counter-revolutionary wars robbed our industry of investment. This excessive military spending meant that we had constantly to borrow from the IMF, increasing our dependence on the USA. Now Britain is the USA's Trojan horse in Europe, against Britain's interests.

Hudson immodestly claims that his analysis supersedes Lenin. He says that the US national government's interests, not the private interests of the capitalist class, drive the system. He claims that the US government subordinates `the interests of its national bourgeoisie to the autonomous interests of the national government'. But is the US government really independent of the capitalist class? How `autonomous' are these interests?...

Joshua Malle (Seattle, WA USA)

Difficult and rewarding, Hudson is the real deal, May 24, 2006

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This review is from: Super Imperialism - New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominanc (Paperback)

Super-Imperialism is better viewed as a radical alternative to common undergraduate textbooks such as Joan Edelman Spero's, "The Politics of International Economic Relations" than as an update to the theories of Lenin or Hobson. (His background and prose style are similar to Spero's and his book covers similar ground.)

It has three sections, each which could have been a separate book.

The 2003 Edition has a new introduction and two new chapters at the end. The rest of the book has occasional new material, but does not appear to have been extensively re-written.

It's a difficult and rewarding book. The difficulty lies partly in the subject matter itself, partly in Hudson's convoluted prose and partly in the numerous typographical errors that mar the 2003 Pluto Press edition.

The book is rewarding because it's honest. Readers educated in the U.S. will initially regard Hudson's account with some skepticism. We can't help it; We've been systematically miseducated by pro-U.S. polemics presented in an "objective" tone.

In contrast Hudson is a strident critic of the U.S. management of the global economy. But so is any reasonably objective person who is apprized of the facts. I much prefer an author who honestly tells you the real story as he understands it to one who conceals the awful truth behind an ostensibly impartial facade. But a "revisionist" has to work twice as hard to make his case, and that is why the book contains the detailed explication of what reviewer Myers calls the "intricacies of events and negotiations that gave rise to the present order."

I think an open-minded reader will be won over by Hudson's thoughtful use of contemporaneous sources (e.g. government publications and articles in the business press) and also biographical sources to illuminate how key decision makers understood the alternatives, and their motives for pursuing the policies that they did when forging the post-war economic order. As he places these choices in context it quickly becomes evident that the motives on the U.S. side have been consistently aggressive and that U.S. policy makers have all along viewed multilateral economic institutions as instruments of national policy--to the world's detriment.

Hudson also has a keen sense of the painfully narrow horizon of human foresight. The historical sections sometimes read like a conspiracy theory in which the conspirators are not very smart. E.g., Franklin Roosevelt's stubborn insistence that World War I debts be repaid prolonged the Great Depression; When J. M. Keynes was negotiating Bretton Woods for the newly elected Labour government, he got them a terrible deal; The U.S. transition to "super-imperialism" which is the main story of the book (chapters 11 through 14) was originally an unintended consequence of the huge budget and trade deficits caused by the Vietnam War.

If you are interested in "globalization" this book is an important piece of the puzzle, but it really only covers up through 1973, and it spends more time on the relationship between the U.S. and Europe than on "North-South" relations. Having said that, Ch. 8 "The Imperialism of U.S. Foreign Aid" is very good, esp. how foreign aid benefits the U.S. balance of payments and the harmful effects of U.S. agricultural exports. China is hardly mentioned.

If you are an economics student and you sense that they aren't telling you the whole story, or just a thoughtful citizen who wants to sharpen your conceptual tools for understanding and resisting the strategies of U.S. imperialism, this book is for you.

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Salty Saltillo (from the road, USA)

An awkward argument with moments of brilliance, November 3, 2004

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Hudson's historical argument in this book is both brilliant and sometimes a bit rough.

Hudson has always had a great talent for interpreting and sketching out for weaker minds like us what the US government's abandonment of the gold-standard really means. When Hudson came forward with his thesis in the mid 1970's, his thesis was outrageous among orthodox economists: to suggest that the US should be worried about the long-term consequences of running balance of payments deficits year after year, decade after decade was crazy leftist nonsense in the 1970s. As long as people continue to need the US markets more than the US needs any other one country's markets (and people still have faith in the good credit of the US government) there is no reason US could not run balance of payment deficits forever, according to the conventional wisdom.

What amazes me is that now, after having done exactly what Hudson warned the US government not to do in the 1970s, many otherwise relatively orthodox economists are beginning to worry about this. Hudson may be on the more "sky-is-falling" end of things, but his analysis was right on the nail in 1972 and is still there today: worst case scenario - massive recession and massive devaluation of the dollar (by massive I mean, unprecedented). Former US Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin was quoted in March 16, 2006 WSJ as saying that "The probabilities are extremely high that if we don't address these imbalances, then at some point, and it could be years down the road, we'll pay a very big price." We are in a limbo world where no one really knows how this problem is going to play out, but Hudson should be credited for being one of the first, and longest-running, advocates for addressing this problem. Too bad it has taken so many decades for people to recognize what he has been telling us all along about balance of payments deficits.

The rest of the argument Hudson makes in this book is a bit tough to follow, though. Essentially, Hudson attempts to show how the US has, during this century but especially since WWII, systematically sought to manipulate all of the great economic institution-building opportunities following WWII to advance the interests of the US over other countries. Coming off the gold standard and running up a balance of payments deficit was just one of many ways in which this occurred. The US largely succeeded. The GATT (now WTO), World Bank, IMF, all bear American "fingerprints".

I agree that the mega-institutions of the contemporary world economic and political machine are largely the unilateral creation of the US, imposed on the other great nations at a time when the other nations were particularly vulnerable to US force of will and not particular inclined to be heterodox visionaries. I also agree that the US in general has probably used as much leverage as it could in negotiating all of the defining institutions in which it had any hand in constructing.

And yet, how could it have been any different? National governments pursue their self-interest and the interest of their citizens, often at the expense of other national governments and their citizens. The nation-state system is set up to work that way. But is the problem really one of US bad behavior, as Hudson suggests? Isn't the problem really structural? In the nation-state world, wherein the world is divided up into pseudo-autonomous political monopolies, each individually endowed with particular strengths and weaknesses, and all pitted against each other in a laissez-faire system where the only things that keep nation-states from raping and killing each other to oblivion are, good faith and the fact that the balance of power among the nation-states is enough to keep each monopoly contained in its behavior towards the other monopolies, what sort of behavior could we have expected from the US, a nation-state that, at a series of pivotal moments in 20th century history, found itself with "golden opportunities" to take advantage of other nations' weaknesses and advance its own power? Would the French, or the Brits, or the Japanese, or the Italians, or the Germans, or the Russians have behaved any different if they found themselves holding all the cards in 1945 instead of the US?

My point is, the facts Hudson lays out are correct -- there clearly is a problem in the way in which our current world order has been put together and the US is at the middle of that problem. The conclusions Hudson draws from those facts do not go deep enough in understanding what those facts mean, however.

It isn't that the Americans behave or behaved "bad" by the standard of good behavior implicit in the nation-state system, it is that the nation-state system itself to a certain extent reflects 19th century laissez-faire values of autonomy and individuality that pit nation-states against each other in a world where each is out to improve its lot through trade and, when possible and tolerable, violence.

The system itself breaks down when one player becomes too powerful. To blame the US for the systemic problem of massive power imbalances between nation states is simply pushing any hope for correction in the wrong direction.

Samuel Brittan: The wrong kind of Third Way

FT.com / Columnists / Samuel Brittan - The wrong kind of Third Way: When a book entitled Supercapitalism: the Battle for Democracy in an Age of Big Business (Icon Books) landed on my desk I took it for just another of the many anti-capitalist diatribes so beloved by publishers. Its author was Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labour who parted company from the Clinton administration on the grounds that it was not interventionist enough. But I was glad I persevered. For it turned out to be one of the most interesting books on political economy to appear for a long time.

During the postwar decades up to the early 1970s, the Bretton Woods system of semi-fixed exchange rates worked, after a fashion; and countries seemed able to combine full employment with low inflation and historically rapid growth and diminishing income differences. Reich calls them a "not quite golden age". It was "not quite" because of the treatment of women and minorities and the prevailing conformist and authoritarian atmosphere.

It has been succeeded by what Reich calls supercapitalism, in which the cult of the bottom line has replaced the cosy oligopolies of postwar decades, once-dominant companies shrink or disappear, new ones spring up overnight and the financial sector is (or was until recently) in the driving seat. He rightly dismisses many of the popular scapegoats – or heroes – of the process. The changeover began well before Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher could influence anything. Free-market economists have been preaching essentially the same message since the 18th century. It is extremely unlikely that there has been a radical change in the psychology or morality of business operators. His own candidate is the technologies that have empowered consumers and investors to get ever better deals.

Unfortunately, many of these same consumers have lost in their capacity as citizens. He cites the failure of the political process even to attempt to correct the increasing skewness of US income distribution. In later pronouncements he has attributed the subprime loan disaster in part to the failure of supercapitalism to raise the incomes of the mass of wage earners who have been impelled to resort to borrowing as a substitute. Moreover, Congress has performed abysmally in correcting market failures in environmental and other areas. He has a non-partisan explanation: the staggering increase in business lobbying expenditures affecting Democrats as well as Republicans, as a result of which the political process, far from correcting the distortions of unbridled capitalism, has made them worse.

But for me the novel point of the book is his utter dismissal of the prevailing idea of appealing to the "social responsibility" of business to improve matters. This is a notion that particularly appeals to soft centre politicians such as David Cameron's Conservatives in Britain as a new kind of Third Way. Reich argues that it is the job of the democratic political process by laws, taxes and other interventions to harmonise the pursuit of money-making with the public good. "The job of the businessman is to make profits." He is completely unabashed by the charge that he sounds like Milton Friedman and indeed quotes the late Chicago professor approvingly several times. He argues that the so-called stakeholders who insist on being consulted before legislation is drafted are increasingly companies whose interests might be affected. One result is the "corruption of knowledge". We should beware of claims that a company is doing something for the public good. Corporate executives may donate some of their shareholders' money to a genuinely good cause or forbear from polluting the atmosphere to forestall a greater legal or fiscal burden. But in that case such actions are likely to be limited and temporary, "extending only insofar as the conditions that made such voluntary action pay off continue".

Similarly we should beware of a politician who blames a company for doing something that is legal. Such words are all too often a cover "for taking no action to change the rules of the game". Above all, "corporations are not people. They are legal fictions, nothing more than bundles of contractual agreements ... A company cannot know right from wrong ... Only people know right from wrong and only people act." One example of the "anthropomorphic fallacy" is when companies are held criminally liable for the misdeeds of their executives. Not only are the genuinely guilty let off too lightly but many innocent people get hurt. For instance, "the vast majority of Andersen employees had nothing to do with Enron but lost their jobs nonetheless".

I have two reservations. One is that I cannot share Reich's confidence that a revived and effective "democracy" would be a cure-all. You only have to see where democratic pressures are driving US energy policy. Second, there is a danger that the Friedman-Reich position could inadvertently give sustenance to the "I was only doing my job" defence for evil actions. You do not have to hold shares in a company selling arms to Saudi Arabia, or work for it. But do not deceive yourself that such individual gestures can be a substitute for a change in policy.

Supercapitalism The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life by Robert B. Reich

Amazon.com

The Balance of Capitalism and Democracy, September 17, 2007

By Izaak VanGaalen (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)

This review is from: Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Hardcover)

According to Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, there was a time when capitalism and democracy where almost perfectly balanced. This was the period of 1945 to 1975, which he calls the "Not Quite Golden Age." During this period there was a three-way social contract among big business, big labor, and big government. Each made sure that they as well as the other two received a fair share of the pie. Unions recieved their wages and benefits, business their profits, and regulatory agencies had their power. It was also a time when the gap between the rich and the poor was the narrowest in our history. It was not quite the golden age because women and minorities were still second class citizens, but at least there was hope.

Fast forward to 2007, capitalism is thriving and democracy is sputtering. Why has capitlism become supercapitalism and democracy become enfeebled? Reich explains that it was a combination of things: deregulation, globe spanning computer networks, better transportation, etc. The changes were mainly a result of technological breakthroughs; unlike many leftists, he is not conspiratorial thinker. The winner of this great transformation was the consumer/investor and the loser was the citizen/wage earner. The consumer has more choices than ever before and at reasonable prices. The investor has unprecedented opportunities to make profits. The citzen, however, is not doing well. The average citizen does not have much voice - other than voting - in the body politic. And on the wage earner has been stagnating for many years. The most salient illustration of this trend is Walmart. Walmart delivers the goods at low prices, but the trade-off is low wages for their employees. We justify this dilemma, as Reich nicely puts it, because "The awkward truth is that most of us are of two minds."

As a left-leaning author, Reich makes some startling pronouncements. One, stop treating corporations as human beings. They are neither moral or immoral, they are merely "bundles of contracts." I couldn't agree more. Stop expecting corporations to be socially responsible, see them for what they are: profit-seeking organizations. Any socially responsible action is a ruse to bolster the bottom line anyway. Don't even encourage them to be socially responsible because it will wrongly lead us to believe that they are solving problems when they are not. Corporations play by the rules that they are given and it is up to citizens and their elected representatives to change the rules.

This is no easy task in the age of supercapitalism. There are currently 38,000 registered lobbyists in Washington DC in a virtual arms race of spending with each other to buy favors from our so-called representatives. The only way citizens can compete with this is not by hiring more lobbyists but advocating through new media outlets such as the internet and cable tv. This, according to Reich, is currently to most effective way to make government more responsive.

The question that remains, after reading this book, is will consumers be willing to sacrifice their low prices to achieve their goals as citizens. If the answer is yes, we can possibly rebalance the equation between democracy and capitalism; if not, we are left to the not so tender mercies of supercapitalism.

Robert Reich makes a compelling argument that supercapitalism has robbed democracy of much of its power. Supercapitalism by the definition presented in the book is simple--the consumer is king and prices ALWAYS go down. What Reich looks at is the cost of low prices to companies, society, the individual and its impact on the workings of democracy. So how is democracy compromised? Reich also points out that the rise of different lobbying groups, the cost of politics and globalization as contributing to this process. This isn't a surprise. It has just become more pronounced with time.

It's not due to some large conspiracy or any hidden political agenda as much as it is driven by consumption. Ultimately Reich argues that it robs the common citizen of any control over democracy. It's not surprising that this is a highly charged issue because the economics of what benefits society (or "the common good" as Reich calls it)often gets tangled up in the web of politics. Reich also points out that the cost of supercompetitiveness, constantly falling prices is a loss to the economic and social health of America. Reich points out that everyone wants to get the lowest price possible but he also suggests that we must balance that with our desire to have decent wages and benefits. He also points out that the move towards regulation was initiated by government and that corporations went along because it kept out competition and guaranteed a top and bottom for prices allowing companies to get a profit without fear of cutting prices so low that it would put them out of business.

I should point out that this is an oversimplification of Reich's points but it does capture some of the concepts. He also makes some suggestions that would help keep the free market afloat without undermining democracy and allowing consumers to still benefit from competitive pricing. Since this is economics we are discussing politics is mixed in and might color whether or not you agree with his points.

Reich's style is breezy for a book that looks at economics, democracy and the erosion of wages, benefits. Reich comes across as fair balanced and thoughtful even as he sells his take on what is undermining American society. Ultimately it's a worthwhile book to read simply because it opens up dialogue on the social cost of constantly lowering prices and how it impacts those who live next door to us

Aftershock The Next Economy and America's Future by Robert B. Reich

Amazon.com

Every middle class American should read this book. Many observations about income disparities have been written up lately but Reich pulls the important points together in a powerful and accessible way.

Reich's main thesis is that the current transition the US economy is under is misunderstood. Many of the policy elite (Geithner, Volcker) have repeated the familiar claim that Americans are living beyond their means. Personally I don't discount that completely but Reich's insight goes much deeper and rings truer:

"The problem was not that American spent beyond their means but that their means had not kept up with what the larger economy could and should have been able to provide them."

"We cannot have a sustained recovery until we address it. ... Until this transformation is made, our economy will continue to experience phantom recoveries and speculative bubbles, each more distressing than the one before."

Anyone looking at the unemployment data since WWII has to wonder why the unemployment component of the last three recessions is so prolonged. Instead of a sharp trend up, there are long slopes of delayed returns to peak employment. (Google "calculated risk blog" and look at Dec. 2010 articles.) I believe Reich has demonstrated the main culprit this. To be clear, he is not describing the detailed mechanics of what triggered the Great Recession. (Nouriel Roubini has a good book that I would recommend for more on the financial fraud, leverage and credit risks involved - Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance. ) But Reich is taking a long term view and exposes a dysfunctional trait of the US economy that no one can afford to ignore. It is this weakness that will delay the current recovery and continue to create greater risks in the future.

Reich draws the parallels between the Great Depression and the Great Recession, particularly the imbalance of wealth concentrated in fewer hands and middle class workers with less income to convert into consumer demand. One of the fascinating devices he found to do this was the writings of Marriner Eccles (Fed chair between '34 to '48):

"As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth - not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced - to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation's economic machinery. Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped."

Reich also shares a couple of powerful and disturbing graphs that show how the middle class has been squeezed and also how since the late 70s, hourly wages have not only not kept up with the rise in productivity but have remained essentially flat.

Another driving theme Reich presents is the "basic bargain" and he evokes Henry Ford, the man that took mass production to new heights and paid his workers well:

"[Henry] Ford understood the basic economic bargain that lay at the heart of a modern, highly productive economy. Workers are also consumers. Their earnings are continuously recycled to buy the goods and services other workers produce. But if earnings are inadequate and this basic bargain is broken, an economy produces more goods and services than its people are capable of purchasing."

I was concerned early in the book that Reich would leave out some of the important complexities of the topic but he covered related finances, politics and even consumer/voter psychology in a succinct yet informative way. His summary of changes to the labor market in the last 30+ years was very good.

His ideas for correcting this were interesting if perhaps difficult to implement politically. My take away however was that this is a strong indicator of how bad he thinks the situation really is. Many Americans may be yearning to return to "normal". Reich is the first to thoroughly convince me that it is not going to happen.

This is a very quick read of 144 pages and is well worth the time.

Finance is a form of imperial warfare

As Michael Hudson aptly noted in Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011)

Finance is a form of warfare. Like military conquest, its aim is to gain control of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute. This involves dictating laws to its subjects, and concentrating social as well as economic planning in centralized hands. This is what now is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attacked may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight.

This attack is being mounted not by nation states as such, but by a cosmopolitan financial class. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.

Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance and protect finance capital and "the miracle of compound interest" that keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow, until they eat into the economic substance and do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.

Simon Johnson, former IMF Chief Economist, is coming out in May's 2009 edition of The Atlantic with a fascinating, highly provocative piece, on the collusion between the US' "financial oligarchy" and the US government and how its persistence will contribute to prolonging the economic crisis. Here is the summary (hat tip to Global Conditions):

One thing you learn rather quickly when working at the International Monetary Fund is that no one is ever very happy to see you (…)

The reason, of course, is that the IMF specializes in telling its clients what they don't want to hear.(…)

No, the real concern of the fund's senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis. (…)

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason-the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit-and, most of the time, genteel-oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders (…)

Many IMF programs "go off track" (a euphemism) precisely because the government can't stay tough on erstwhile cronies, and the consequences are massive inflation or other disasters. A program "goes back on track" once the government prevails or powerful oligarchs sort out among themselves who will govern-and thus win or lose-under the IMF-supported plan. (…)

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (…).

(…) elite business interests-financiers, in the case of the U.S.-played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better-in a "buck stops somewhere else" sort of way-on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for "safety and soundness" were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies-lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership-had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector's profits-such as Brooksley Born's now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998-were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

(…) the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital-a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. (…)

One channel of influence was, of course, the flow of individuals between Wall Street and Washington. Robert Rubin, once the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, served in Washington as Treasury secretary under Clinton, and later became chairman of Citigroup's executive committee. Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs during the long boom, became Treasury secretary under George W.Bush. John Snow, Paulson's predecessor, left to become chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, a large private-equity firm that also counts Dan Quayle among its executives. Alan Greenspan, after leaving the Federal Reserve, became a consultant to Pimco, perhaps the biggest player in international bond markets.

A whole generation of policy makers has been mesmerized by Wall Street, always and utterly convinced that whatever the banks said was true (…).

By now, the princes of the financial world have of course been stripped naked as leaders and strategists-at least in the eyes of most Americans. But as the months have rolled by, financial elites have continued to assume that their position as the economy's favored children is safe, despite the wreckage they have caused (…)

Throughout the crisis, the government has taken extreme care not to upset the interests of the financial institutions, or to question the basic outlines of the system that got us here. In September 2008, Henry Paulson asked Congress for $700 billion to buy toxic assets from banks, with no strings attached and no judicial review of his purchase decisions. Many observers suspected that the purpose was to overpay for those assets and thereby take the problem off the banks' hands-indeed, that is the only way that buying toxic assets would have helped anything. Perhaps because there was no way to make such a blatant subsidy politically acceptable, that plan was shelved.

Instead, the money was used to recapitalize banks, buying shares in them on terms that were grossly favorable to the banks themselves. As the crisis has deepened and financial institutions have needed more help, the government has gotten more and more creative in figuring out ways to provide banks with subsidies that are too complex for the general public to understand (…)

The challenges the United States faces are familiar territory to the people at the IMF. If you hid the name of the country and just showed them the numbers, there is no doubt what old IMF hands would say: nationalize troubled banks and break them up as necessary (…)

In some ways, of course, the government has already taken control of the banking system. It has essentially guaranteed the liabilities of the biggest banks, and it is their only plausible source of capital today.

Ideally, big banks should be sold in medium-size pieces, divided regionally or by type of business. Where this proves impractical-since we'll want to sell the banks quickly-they could be sold whole, but with the requirement of being broken up within a short time. Banks that remain in private hands should also be subject to size limitations.

This may seem like a crude and arbitrary step, but it is the best way to limit the power of individual institutions in a sector that is essential to the economy as a whole. Of course, some people will complain about the "efficiency costs" of a more fragmented banking system, and these costs are real. But so are the costs when a bank that is too big to fail-a financial weapon of mass self-destruction-explodes. Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation (…)

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. (…)

(…) Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine".

The nature of financial oligarchy is such that the government's capacity to take control of an entire financial system, and to clean, slice it up and re-privatize it impartially is almost non-existent. Instead we have growing, potentially corrupt, collusion between financial elites and government officials which is hall mark of corporatism in this more modern form on neoliberalism.

The Great Deception

In 1998 Mark Curtis wrote The Great Deception: Anglo-American Power and World Order, a work whose stated goal was to shed light on various myths of Anglo-American power in the post-Cold War era.

Curtis attempts to demonstrate how the United Kingdom remained a key partner of the United States' effort to enforce their hegemony in the world. He analyzes what he refers to as a special relationship between the two countries and concludes that quite serious consequences exist for both states.

Trade for life

Trade for Life: Making Trade Work for Poor People is a work published in 2001. It is a strong critique of the function of international organizations, especially the World Trade Organization (WTO). Curtis analyzes the decisions taken by the WTO in developing states and concludes that these decisions were seldom without bias against the poor countries; he claims that certain of these decisions, notably certain structural adjustments, caused their intended benefactors more harm than good. Further, Curtis regrets that some rules are lacking when their need is called for, noting the relative lack of regulation checking the growth of power of multinational companies. A partner of Christian Aid in Zimbabwe has said that "the manner in which the WTO functions, is like placing an adult against a child in a boxing ring, like Manchester United against a local Zimbabwean team.

The WTO judges all countries on the same level, while they are not the same. The WTO must help create a situation where countries are more equal." This is a quotation that Mark Curtis recycles throughout his book.

Curtis concludes by saying that market forces can be used in a different, more egalitarian, manner than the one currently employed by the WTO. He believes that it could benefit developing nations if this goal was pursued.

His book was edited by ChristianAid while Mark Curtis was "Policy and Politics" Director and is freely available.

Web of Deceit

In 2003 Mark Curtis published Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World. This book has been his most successful to date. It offers a new academic approach to the role of the United Kingdom in the post 1945 world until the current the War on Terrorism. It further criticizes the foreign policy of Tony Blair. Curtis, defending the idea that Britain is a rogue state, describes various relations the United Kingdom undertook with repressive regimes and how he thinks these actions made the world less just.

Moreover, the book analyzes various recent actions of the British Army in the world, describing not only what he characterizes as the immorality of the War in Iraq, but also of the War in Afghanistan, and the Kosovo War. Curtis denounces equally strongly Britain's alliances with states he categorizes as repressive, such as Israel, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, he details and criticizes the non-intervention of Britain in the Rwandan Genocide.

Curtis draws most of his research from recently declassified documents by the British secret service. He notably claims to demonstrate the role and complicity of the British in the massacre of millions of Indonesians in 1965, the toppling of the governments of Iran and British Guyana, and what he describes as repressive colonial policies in the former colonies of Kenya, Oman, and Malaysia.

Unpeople

In 2004, Mark Curtis published Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human Rights Abuses. This book followed a similar line of thought begun in Web of Deceit. Unpeople is based on various declassified documents from the British secret service.

Among the declassified secret service reports, Curtis asserts that the United Kingdom had given aid to Saddam Hussein in 1963 in order that he rised to power in Iraq; he further posits that the Western Powers, notably the UK, performed various arms deals with the Iraqi government while the Iraqi government was involved in the brutal aggression against the Kurdish community. Curtis asserts that these documents further indict the British government in their role played in the Vietnam War, the coup d'État against Idi Amin in 1971, the coup d'État against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, and coups in Indonesia and Guyana.

Mark Curtis estimates that approximately ten million deaths throughout the world since 1945 have been caused by the United Kingdom's foreign policy.

Alliance of transnational elites

From Amazon review of Blowback The Costs and Consequences of American Empire Chalmers Johnson

But Johnson is relying on the idea that "America" is a unitary entity, so that the hollowing out of industry hurts "America", not specific social groups within the country. In reality, US foreign policymakers work to advance the interests not of "America", but of those same business elites that have benefited from turning Asia into the world's sweatshop and undermining the unions that built their strength on American industry. American economic imperialism is not a failed conspiracy against the people of Asia, but an alliance between American elites and their Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, and Chinese counterparts - against the potential power of the working majority in all those countries.

But it's more complex than that, too, since the US seeks to prevent the emergence of an independent military challenge (especially China, but also Japan) to its Asia hegemony while seeking to expand the power of American commercial interests in the region, even as it tries to keep Asian elites happy enough with the status quo to prevent their rebellion against it.

In other words, the US system in Asia is more complicated than Johnson conveys, and defending America's mythical "national interests" will never address its fundamental injustices.

While Johnson seems to have abundant sympathy for the people of Asia, his nationalist framework prevents his from proposing the only real challenge to American hegemony: a popular anti-imperialist movement that crosses the barriers of nation-states.

Imperialism 101 by Micjael Parenti

Imperialism 101 By Michael Parenti

By Michael Parenti

24 June, 2011
Michaelparenti.org

Imperialism has been the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries, carving up whole continents while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations. Yet, it is seldom accorded any serious attention by our academics, media commentators, and political leaders. When not ignored outright, the subject of imperialism has been sanitized, so that empires become "commonwealths," and colonies become "territories" or "dominions" (or, as in the case of Puerto Rico, "commonwealths" too). Imperialist military interventions become matters of "national defense," "national security," and maintaining "stability" in one or another region. In this book I want to look at imperialism for what it really is.

Across the Entire Globe

By "imperialism" I mean the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.The earliest victims of Western European imperialism were other Europeans. Some 800 years ago, Ireland became the first colony of what later became known as the British empire. A part of Ireland still remains under British occupation. Other early Caucasian victims included the Eastern Europeans. The people Charlemagne worked to death in his mines in the early part of the ninth century were Slavs. So frequent and prolonged was the enslavement of Eastern Europeans that "Slav" became synonymous with servitude. Indeed, the word "slave" derives from "Slav." Eastern Europe was an early source of capital accumulation, having become wholly dependent upon Western manufactures by the seventeenth century.

A particularly pernicious example of intra-European imperialism was the Nazi aggression during World War II, which gave the German business cartels and the Nazi state an opportunity to plunder the resources and exploit the labor of occupied Europe, including the slave labor of concentration camps.

The preponderant thrust of the European, North American, and Japanese imperial powers has been directed against Africa, Asia, and Latin America. By the nineteenth century, they saw the Third World as not only a source of raw materials and slaves but a market for manufactured goods. By the twentieth century, the industrial nations were exporting not only goods but capital, in the form of machinery, technology, investments, and loans. To say that we have entered the stage of capital export and investment is not to imply that the plunder of natural resources has ceased. If anything, the despoliation has accelerated.

Of the various notions about imperialism circulating today in the United States, the dominant view is that it does not exist. Imperialism is not recognized as a legitimate concept, certainly not in regard to the United States. One may speak of "Soviet imperialism" or "nineteenth-century British imperialism" but not of U.S. imperialism. A graduate student in political science at most universities in this country would not be granted the opportunity to research U.S. imperialism, on the grounds that such an undertaking would not be scholarly. While many people throughout the world charge the United States with being an imperialist power, in this country persons who talk of U.S. imperialism are usually judged to be mouthing ideological blather.

The Dynamic of Capital Expansion

Imperialism is older than capitalism. The Persian, Macedonian, Roman, and Mongol empires all existed centuries before the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. Emperors and conquistadors were interested mostly in plunder and tribute, gold and glory. Capitalist imperialism differs from these earlier forms in the way it systematically accumulates capital through the organized exploitation of labor and the penetration of overseas markets. Capitalist imperialism invests in other countries, transforming and dominating their economies, cultures, and political life, integrating their financial and productive structures into an international system of capital accumulation.A central imperative of capitalism is expansion. Investors will not put their money into business ventures unless they can extract more than they invest. Increased earnings come only with a growth in the enterprise. The capitalist ceaselessly searches for ways of making more money in order to make still more money. One must always invest to realize profits, gathering as much strength as possible in the face of competing forces and unpredictable markets.

Given its expansionist nature, capitalism has little inclination to stay home. Almost 150 years ago, Marx and Engels described a bourgeoisie that "chases over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere. . . . It creates a world after its own image." The expansionists destroy whole societies. Self-sufficient peoples are forcibly transformed into disfranchised wage workers. Indigenous communities and folk cultures are replaced by mass-market, mass-media, consumer societies. Cooperative lands are supplanted by agribusiness factory farms, villages by desolate shanty towns, autonomous regions by centralized autocracies.

Consider one of a thousand such instances. A few years ago the Los Angeles Times carried a special report on the rainforests of Borneo in the South Pacific. By their own testimony, the people there lived contented lives. They hunted, fished, and raised food in their jungle orchards and groves. But their entire way of life was ruthlessly wiped out by a few giant companies that destroyed the rainforest in order to harvest the hardwood for quick profits. Their lands were turned into ecological disaster areas and they themselves were transformed into disfranchised shantytown dwellers, forced to work for subsistence wages-when fortunate enough to find employment.

North American and European corporations have acquired control of more than three-fourths of the known mineral resources of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But the pursuit of natural resources is not the only reason for capitalist overseas expansion. There is the additional need to cut production costs and maximize profits by investing in countries with cheaper labor markets. U.S. corporate foreign investment grew 84 percent from 1985 to 1990, the most dramatic increase being in cheap-labor countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, and Singapore.

Because of low wages, low taxes, nonexistent work benefits, weak labor unions, and nonexistent occupational and environmental protections, U.S. corporate profit rates in the Third World are 50 percent greater than in developed countries. Citibank, one of the largest U.S. firms, earns about 75 percent of its profits from overseas operations. While profit margins at home sometimes have had a sluggish growth, earnings abroad have continued to rise dramatically, fostering the development of what has become known as the multinational or transnational corporation. Today some four hundred transnational companies control about 80 percent of the capital assets of the global free market and are extending their grasp into the ex-communist countries of Eastern Europe.

Transnationals have developed a global production line. General Motors has factories that produce cars, trucks and a wide range of auto components in Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Spain, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Nigeria, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea and a dozen other countries. Such "multiple sourcing" enables GM to ride out strikes in one country by stepping up production in another, playing workers of various nations against each other in order to discourage wage and benefit demands and undermine labor union strategies.

Not Necessary, Just Compelling

Some writers question whether imperialism is a necessary condition for capitalism, pointing out that most Western capital is invested in Western nations, not in the Third World. If corporations lost all their Third World investments, they argue, many of them could still survive on their European and North American markets. In response, one should note that capitalism might be able to survive without imperialism-but it shows no inclination to do so. It manifests no desire to discard its enormously profitable Third World enterprises. Imperialism may not be a necessary condition for investor survival but it seems to be an inherent tendency and a natural outgrowth of advanced capitalism. Imperial relations may not be the only way to pursue profits, but they are the most lucrative way.Whether imperialism is necessary for capitalism is really not the question. Many things that are not absolutely necessary are still highly desirable, therefore strongly preferred and vigorously pursued. Overseas investors find the Third World's cheap labor, vital natural resources, and various other highly profitable conditions to be compellingly attractive. Superprofits may not be necessary for capitalism's survival but survival is not all that capitalists are interested in. Superprofits are strongly preferred to more modest earnings. That there may be no necessity between capitalism and imperialism does not mean there is no compelling linkage.

The same is true of other social dynamics. For instance, wealth does not necessarily have to lead to luxurious living. A higher portion of an owning class's riches could be used for investment rather personal consumption. The very wealthy could survive on more modest sums but that is not how most of them prefer to live. Throughout history, wealthy classes generally have shown a preference for getting the best of everything. After all, the whole purpose of getting rich off other people's labor is to live well, avoiding all forms of thankless toil and drudgery, enjoying superior opportunities for lavish life-styles, medical care, education, travel, recreation, security, leisure, and opportunities for power and prestige. While none of these things are really "necessary," they are fervently clung to by those who possess them-as witnessed by the violent measures endorsed by advantaged classes whenever they feel the threat of an equalizing or leveling democratic force.

Myths of Underdevelopment

The impoverished lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America are known to us as the "Third World," to distinguish them from the "First World" of industrialized Europe and North America and the now largely defunct "Second World" of communist states. Third World poverty, called "underdevelopment," is treated by most Western observers as an original historic condition. We are asked to believe that it always existed, that poor countries are poor because their lands have always been infertile or their people unproductive. In fact, the lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America have long produced great treasures of foods, minerals and other natural resources. That is why the Europeans went through all the trouble to steal and plunder them. One does not go to poor places for self-enrichment. The Third World is rich. Only its people are poor-and it is because of the pillage they have endured.

The process of expropriating the natural resources of the Third World began centuries ago and continues to this day. First, the colonizers extracted gold, silver, furs, silks, and spices, then flax, hemp, timber, molasses, sugar, rum, rubber, tobacco, calico, cocoa, coffee, cotton, copper, coal, palm oil, tin, iron, ivory, ebony, and later on, oil, zinc, manganese, mercury, platinum, cobalt, bauxite, aluminum, and uranium. Not to be overlooked is that most hellish of all expropriations: the abduction of millions of human beings into slave labor.

Through the centuries of colonization, many self-serving imperialist theories have been spun. I was taught in school that people in tropical lands are slothful and do not work as hard as we denizens of the temperate zone. In fact, the inhabitants of warm climates have performed remarkably productive feats, building magnificent civilizations well before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages. And today they often work long, hard hours for meager sums. Yet the early stereotype of the "lazy native" is still with us. In every capitalist society, the poor-both domestic and overseas-regularly are blamed for their own condition.

We hear that Third World peoples are culturally retarded in their attitudes, customs, and technical abilities. It is a convenient notion embraced by those who want to depict Western investments as a rescue operation designed to help backward peoples help themselves. This myth of "cultural backwardness" goes back to ancient times, when conquerors used it to justify enslaving indigenous peoples. It was used by European colonizers over the last five centuries for the same purpose.

What cultural supremacy could by claimed by the Europeans of yore? From the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries Europe was "ahead" in a variety of things, such as the number of hangings, murders, and other violent crimes; instances of venereal disease, smallpox, typhoid, tuberculosis, plagues, and other bodily afflictions; social inequality and poverty (both urban and rural); mistreatment of women and children; and frequency of famines, slavery, prostitution, piracy, religious massacres, and inquisitional torture. Those who claim the West has been the most advanced civilization should keep such "achievements" in mind.

More seriously, we might note that Europe enjoyed a telling advantage in navigation and armaments. Muskets and cannon, Gatling guns and gunboats, and today missiles, helicopter gunships, and fighter bombers have been the deciding factors when West meets East and North meets South. Superior firepower, not superior culture, has brought the Europeans and Euro-North Americans to positions of supremacy that today are still maintained by force, though not by force alone.

It was said that colonized peoples were biologically backward and less evolved than their colonizers. Their "savagery" and "lower" level of cultural evolution were emblematic of their inferior genetic evolution. But were they culturally inferior? In many parts of what is now considered the Third World, people developed impressive skills in architecture, horticulture, crafts, hunting, fishing, midwifery, medicine, and other such things. Their social customs were often far more gracious and humane and less autocratic and repressive than anything found in Europe at that time. Of course we must not romanticize these indigenous societies, some of which had a number of cruel and unusual practices of their own. But generally, their peoples enjoyed healthier, happier lives, with more leisure time, than did most of Europe's inhabitants.

Other theories enjoy wide currency. We hear that Third World poverty is due to overpopulation, too many people having too many children to feed. Actually, over the last several centuries, many Third World lands have been less densely populated than certain parts of Europe. India has fewer people per acre-but more poverty-than Holland, Wales, England, Japan, Italy, and a few other industrial countries. Furthermore, it is the industrialized nations of the First World, not the poor ones of the Third, that devour some 80 percent of the world's resources and pose the greatest threat to the planet's ecology.

This is not to deny that overpopulation is a real problem for the planet's ecosphere. Limiting population growth in all nations would help the global environment but it would not solve the problems of the poor-because overpopulation in itself is not the cause of poverty but one of its effects. The poor tend to have large families because children are a source of family labor and income and a support during old age.

Frances Moore Lappe and Rachel Schurman found that of seventy Third World countries, there were six-China, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Chile, Burma, and Cuba-and the state of Kerala in India that had managed to lower their birth rates by one third. They enjoyed neither dramatic industrial expansion nor high per capita incomes nor extensive family planning programs. The factors they had in common were public education and health care, a reduction of economic inequality, improvements in women's rights, food subsidies, and in some cases land reform. In other words, fertility rates were lowered not by capitalist investments and economic growth as such but by socio-economic betterment, even of a modest scale, accompanied by the emergence of women's rights.

Artificially Converted to Poverty

What is called "underdevelopment" is a set of social relations that has been forcefully imposed on countries. With the advent of the Western colonizers, the peoples of the Third World were actually set back in their development sometimes for centuries. British imperialism in India provides an instructive example. In 1810, India was exporting more textiles to England than England was exporting to India. By 1830, the trade flow was reversed. The British had put up prohibitive tariff barriers to shut out Indian finished goods and were dumping their commodities in India, a practice backed by British gunboats and military force. Within a matter of years, the great textile centers of Dacca and Madras were turned into ghost towns. The Indians were sent back to the land to raise the cotton used in British textile factories. In effect, India was reduced to being a cow milked by British financiers. By 1850, India's debt had grown to 53 million pounds. From 1850 to 1900, its per capita income dropped by almost two-thirds. The value of the raw materials and commodities the Indians were obliged to send to Britain during most of the nineteenth century amounted yearly to more than the total income of the sixty million Indian agricultural and industrial workers. The massive poverty we associate with India was not that country's original historical condition. British imperialism did two things: first, it ended India's development, then it forcibly underdeveloped that country.

Similar bleeding processes occurred throughout the Third World. The enormous wealth extracted should remind us that there originally were few really poor nations. Countries like Brazil, Indonesia, Chile, Bolivia, Zaire, Mexico, Malaysia, and the Philippines were and sometimes still are rich in resources. Some lands have been so thoroughly plundered as to be desolate in all respects. However, most of the Third World is not "underdeveloped" but overexploited. Western colonization and investments have created a lower rather than a higher living standard.

Referring to what the English colonizers did to the Irish, Frederick Engels wrote in 1856: "How often have the Irish started out to achieve something, and every time they have been crushed politically and industrially. By consistent oppression they have been artificially converted into an utterly impoverished nation." So with most of the Third World. The Mayan Indians in Guatemala had a more nutritious and varied diet and better conditions of health in the early 16th century before the Europeans arrived than they have today. They had more craftspeople, architects, artisans, and horticulturists than today. What is called underdevelopment is not an original historical condition but a product of imperialism's superexploitation. Underdevelopment is itself a development.

Imperialism has created what I have termed "maldevelopment": modern office buildings and luxury hotels in the capital city instead of housing for the poor, cosmetic surgery clinics for the affluent instead of hospitals for workers, cash export crops for agribusiness instead of food for local markets, highways that go from the mines and latifundios to the refineries and ports instead of roads in the back country for those who might hope to see a doctor or a teacher.

Wealth is transferred from Third World peoples to the economic elites of Europe and North America (and more recently Japan) by direct plunder, by the expropriation of natural resources, the imposition of ruinous taxes and land rents, the payment of poverty wages, and the forced importation of finished goods at highly inflated prices. The colonized country is denied the freedom of trade and the opportunity to develop its own natural resources, markets, and industrial capacity. Self-sustenance and self-employment gives way to wage labor. From 1970 to 1980, the number of wage workers in the Third World grew from 72 million to 120 million, and the rate is accelerating.

Hundreds of millions of Third World peoples now live in destitution in remote villages and congested urban slums, suffering hunger, disease, and illiteracy, often because the land they once tilled is now controlled by agribusiness firms who use it for mining or for commercial export crops such as coffee, sugar, and beef, instead of growing beans, rice, and corn for home consumption. A study of twenty of the poorest countries, compiled from official statistics, found that the number of people living in what is called "absolute poverty" or rockbottom destitution, the poorest of the poor, is rising 70,000 a day and should reach 1.5 billion by the year 2000 (San Francisco Examiner, June 8, 1994).

Imperialism forces millions of children around the world to live nightmarish lives, their mental and physical health severely damaged by endless exploitation. A documentary film on the Discovery Channel (April 24, 1994) reported that in countries like Russia, Thailand, and the Philippines, large numbers of minors are sold into prostitution to help their desperate families survive. In countries like Mexico, India, Colombia, and Egypt, children are dragooned into health-shattering, dawn-to-dusk labor on farms and in factories and mines for pennies an hour, with no opportunity for play, schooling, or medical care.

In India, 55 million children are pressed into the work force. Tens of thousands labor in glass factories in temperatures as high as 100 degrees. In one plant, four-year-olds toil from 5 o'clock in the morning until the dead of night, inhaling fumes and contracting emphysema, tuberculosis, and other respiratory diseases. In the Philippines and Malaysia corporations have lobbied to drop age restrictions for labor recruitment. The pursuit of profit becomes a pursuit of evil.

Development Theory

When we say a country is "underdeveloped," we are implying that it is backward and retarded in some way, that its people have shown little capacity to achieve and evolve. The negative connotations of "underdeveloped" has caused the United Nations, the Wall Street Journal, and parties of various political persuasion to refer to Third World countries as "developing" nations, a term somewhat less insulting than "underdeveloped" but equally misleading. I prefer to use "Third World" because "developing" seems to be just a euphemistic way of saying "underdeveloped but belatedly starting to do something about it." It still implies that poverty was an original historic condition and not something imposed by the imperialists. It also falsely suggests that these countries are developing when actually their economic conditions are usually worsening.The dominant theory of the last half century, enunciated repeatedly by writers like Barbara Ward and W. W. Rostow and afforded wide currency in the United States and other parts of the Western world, maintains that it is up to the rich nations of the North to help uplift the "backward" nations of the South, bringing them technology and teaching them proper work habits. This is an updated version of "the White man's burden," a favorite imperialist fantasy.

According to the development scenario, with the introduction of Western investments, the backward economic sectors of the poor nations will release their workers, who then will find more productive employment in the modern sector at higher wages. As capital accumulates, business will reinvest its profits, thus creating still more products, jobs, buying power, and markets. Eventually a more prosperous economy evolves.

This "development theory" or "modernization theory," as it is sometimes called, bears little relation to reality. What has emerged in the Third World is an intensely exploitive form of dependent capitalism. Economic conditions have worsened drastically with the growth of transnational corporate investment. The problem is not poor lands or unproductive populations but foreign exploitation and class inequality. Investors go into a country not to uplift it but to enrich themselves.

People in these countries do not need to be taught how to farm. They need the land and the implements to farm. They do not need to be taught how to fish. They need the boats and the nets and access to shore frontage, bays, and oceans. They need industrial plants to cease dumping toxic effusions into the waters. They do not need to be convinced that they should use hygienic standards. They do not need a Peace Corps Volunteer to tell them to boil their water, especially when they cannot afford fuel or have no access to firewood. They need the conditions that will allow them to have clean drinking water and clean clothes and homes. They do not need advice about balanced diets from North Americans. They usually know what foods best serve their nutritional requirements. They need to be given back their land and labor so that they might work for themselves and grow food for their own consumption.

The legacy of imperial domination is not only misery and strife, but an economic structure dominated by a network of international corporations which themselves are beholden to parent companies based in North America, Europe and Japan. If there is any harmonization or integration, it occurs among the global investor classes, not among the indigenous economies of these countries. Third World economies remain fragmented and unintegrated both between each other and within themselves, both in the flow of capital and goods and in technology and organization. In sum, what we have is a world economy that has little to do with the economic needs of the world's people.

Neoimperialism: Skimming the Cream

Sometimes imperial domination is explained as arising from an innate desire for domination and expansion, a "territorial imperative." In fact, territorial imperialism is no longer the prevailing mode. Compared to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the European powers carved up the world among themselves, today there is almost no colonial dominion left. Colonel Blimp is dead and buried, replaced by men in business suits. Rather than being directly colonized by the imperial power, the weaker countries have been granted the trappings of sovereignty-while Western finance capital retains control of the lion's share of their profitable resources. This relationship has gone under various names: "informal empire," "colonialism without colonies," "neocolonialism," and "neoimperialism. "U.S. political and business leaders were among the earliest practitioners of this new kind of empire, most notably in Cuba at the beginning of the twentieth century. Having forcibly wrested the island from Spain in the war of 1898, they eventually gave Cuba its formal independence. The Cubans now had their own government, constitution, flag, currency, and security force. But major foreign policy decisions remained in U.S. hands as did the island's wealth, including its sugar, tobacco, and tourist industries, and major imports and exports.

Historically U.S. capitalist interests have been less interested in acquiring more colonies than in acquiring more wealth, preferring to make off with the treasure of other nations without bothering to own and administer the nations themselves. Under neoimperialism, the flag stays home, while the dollar goes everywhere - frequently assisted by the sword.

After World War II, European powers like Britain and France adopted a strategy of neoimperialism. Left financially depleted by years of warfare, and facing intensified popular resistance from within the Third World itself, they reluctantly decided that indirect economic hegemony was less costly and politically more expedient than outright colonial rule. They discovered that the removal of a conspicuously intrusive colonial rule made it more difficult for nationalist elements within the previously colonized countries to mobilize anti-imperialist sentiments.

Though the newly established government might be far from completely independent, it usually enjoyed more legitimacy in the eyes of its populace than a colonial administration controlled by the imperial power. Furthermore, under neoimperialism the native government takes up the costs of administering the country while the imperialist interests are free to concentrate on accumulating capital-which is all they really want to do.

After years of colonialism, the Third World country finds it extremely difficult to extricate itself from the unequal relationship with its former colonizer and impossible to depart from the global capitalist sphere. Those countries that try to make a break are subjected to punishing economic and military treatment by one or another major power, nowadays usually the United States.

The leaders of the new nations may voice revolutionary slogans, yet they find themselves locked into the global capitalist orbit, cooperating perforce with the First World nations for investment, trade, and aid. So we witnessed the curious phenomenon of leaders of newly independent Third World nations denouncing imperialism as the source of their countries' ills, while dissidents in these countries denounced these same leaders as collaborators of imperialism.

In many instances a comprador class emerged or was installed as a first condition for independence. A comprador class is one that cooperates in turning its own country into a client state for foreign interests. A client state is one that is open to investments on terms that are decidedly favorable to the foreign investors. In a client state, corporate investors enjoy direct subsidies and land grants, access to raw materials and cheap labor, light or nonexistent taxes, few effective labor unions, no minimum wage or child labor or occupational safety laws, and no consumer or environmental protections to speak of. The protective laws that do exist go largely unenforced.

In all, the Third World is something of a capitalist paradise, offering life as it was in Europe and the United States during the nineteenth century, with a rate of profit vastly higher than what might be earned today in a country with strong economic regulations. The comprador class is well recompensed for its cooperation. Its leaders enjoy opportunities to line their pockets with the foreign aid sent by the U.S. government. Stability is assured with the establishment of security forces, armed and trained by the United States in the latest technologies of terror and repression. Still, neoimperialism carries risks. The achievement of de jure independence eventually fosters expectations of de facto independence. The forms of self rule incite a desire for the fruits of self rule. Sometimes a national leader emerges who is a patriot and reformer rather than a comprador collaborator. Therefore, the changeover from colonialism to neocolonialism is not without risks for the imperialists and represents a net gain for popular forces in the world.

Chapter 1 of Against Empire by Michael Parenti

Michael Parenti is an internationally known award-winning author and lecturer. He is one of the nation's leading progressive political analysts. His highly informative and entertaining books and talks have reached a wide range of audiences in North America and abroad. http://www.michaelparenti.org/


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[Jun 23, 2019] Provoking Iran Could Start A War And Crash The Entire World Economy

Jun 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Provoking Iran Could Start A War And Crash The Entire World Economy

by Tyler Durden Sun, 06/23/2019 - 15:25 2 SHARES Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Tensions in the Persian Gulf are reaching a point of no return . In recent weeks, six oil tankers have been subjected to Israeli sabotage disguised to look like Iranian attacks to induce the United States to take military action against the Islamic Republic. Some days ago Iran rightfully shot out of the sky a US Drone. In Yemen, the Houthis have finally started responding with cruise and ballistic missiles to the Saudis' indiscriminate attacks, causing damage to the Saudi international airport of Abha, as well as blocking, through explosive drones , Saudi oil transportation from east to west through one of the largest pipelines in the world.

As if the political and military situation at this time were not tense and complex enough, the two most important power groups in the United States, the Fed and the military-industrial complex, both face problems that threaten to diminish Washington's status as a world superpower .

The Fed could find itself defending the role of the US dollar as the world reserve currency during any conflict in the Persian Gulf that would see the cost of oil rise to $300 a barrel , threatening trillions of dollars in derivatives and toppling the global economy.

The military-industrial complex would in turn be involved in a war that it would struggle to contain and even win, destroying the United States' image of invincibility and inflicting a mortal blow on its ability to project power to the four corners of the world.

Just look at how surprised US officials were about Iran's capabilities to shot down an advanced US Drone:

"Iran's ability to target and destroy the high-altitude American drone, which was developed to evade the very surface-to-air missiles used to bring it down, surprised some Defense Department officials, who interpreted it as a show of how difficult Tehran can make things for the United States as it deploys more troops and steps up surveillance in the region."

The Fed and the defense of the dollar

The US dollar-based economy has a huge debt problem caused by post-2008 economic policies. All central banks have lowered interest rates to zero or even negative, thus continuing to feed otherwise dying economies.

The central bank of central banks, the Bank for International Settlements, an entity hardly known to most people, has stated in writing that "the outstanding notional amount of derivative contracts is 542 trillion dollars." The total combined GDP of all the countries of the world is around 75 trillion dollars.

With the dimensions of the problem thus understood, it is important to look at how Deutsche Bank (DB), one of the largest financial institutions in the world, is dealing with this. The German bank alone has assets worth about 40 trillion dollars in derivatives, or more than half of annual global GDP.

Their solution, not at all innovative or effective, has been to create yet another bad bank into which to pour at least 50 billion dollars of long-term assets, which are clearly toxic.

Reuters explains :

"The bad bank would house or sell assets valued at up to 50 billion euros ($56 billion) – after adjusting for risk – and comprising mainly long-dated derivatives.

The measures are part of a significant restructuring of the investment bank, a major source of revenue for Germany's largest lender, which has struggled to generate sustainable profits since the 2008 financial crisis."

Thus, not only has Deutsche Bank accumulated tens of billions of dollars in unsuccessful options and securities, it seeks to obtain a profit that has been elusive since 2008, the year of the financial crisis. Deutsche Bank is full of toxic bonds and inflated debts kept alive through the flow of quantitative easing (QE) money from the European Central Bank, the Fed and the Japanese Central Bank. Without QE, the entire Western world economy would have fallen into recession with a chain of bubbles bursting, such as in public and private debt.

If the economy was recovering, as we are told by soi-disant financial experts, the central-bank rates would rise. Instead, rates have plummeted for about a decade, to the extent of becoming negative loans.

If the Western financial trend is undoubtedly heading towards an economic abyss as a result of the monetary policies employed after 2008 to keep a dying economy alive, what is the rescue plan for the US dollar, its status as a global-reserve currency, and by extension of US hegemony? Simply put, there is no rescue plan.

There could not be one because the next financial crisis will undoubtedly wipe out the US dollar as a global reserve currency, ending US hegemony financed by unlimited spending power. All countries possessing a modicum of foresight are in the process of de-dollarizing their economies and are converting strategic reserves from US or US-dollar government bonds to primary commodities like gold.

The military-industrial complex and the harsh reality in Iran

In this economic situation that offers no escape, the immediate geopolitical effect is a surge of war threats in strategic locations like the Persian Gulf. The risk of a war of aggression against Iran by the Saudi-Israeli-US axis would have little chance of success, but it would probably succeed in permanently devastating the global economy as a result of a surge in oil prices.

The risk of war on Iran by this triad seems to be the typical ploy of the bad loser who, rather than admit defeat, would rather pull the rug out from under everyone's feet in order to bring everybody down with him. Tankers being hit and then blamed on Iran with no evidence are a prime example of how to create the plausible justification for bombing Tehran.

Upon closer examination, it becomes apparent that the actions of Bolton and Pompeo seem to be aligned in prolonging the United States' unipolar moment, continuing to issue diktats to other countries and failing to recognize the multipolar reality we live in. Their policies and actions are accelerating the dispersal of power away from the US and towards other great powers like Russia and China, both of which also have enormous influence in the Persian Gulf.

The threat of causing a conflict in the Persian Gulf, and thereby making the price of oil soar to $300 a barrel, will not save US hegemony but will rather end up accelerating the inevitable end of the US dollar as a global reserve currency.

Trump is in danger of being crushed between a Fed that sees the US dollar's role as the world's reserve currency collapse, and the need for the Fed to blame someone not linked to the real causes of the collapse, that is to say, the monetary policies adopted through QE to prolong the post-crisis economic agony of 2008.

At the same time, with Trump as president, the neocon-Israeli-Saudi supporters see a unique opportunity to strike Iran, a desire that has remained unchanged for 40 years.

As foolish as it may seem, a war on Iran could be the perfect option that satisfies all power groups in the United States. The hawks would finally have their war against Tehran, the world economy would sink, and the blame would fall entirely on Trump. The Donald, as a result, would lose any chance of being re-elected so it makes sense for him to call off possible strikes as he did after the US drone was shot out of the sky.

While unable to live up to his electoral promises, Trump seems to be aware that the path laid out for him in the event of an attack on Iran would lead to his political destruction and probably to a conflict that is militarily unsustainable for the US and especially its Saudi and Israeli allies. It would also be the catalyst for the collapse of the world economy.

In trying to pressure Iran into new negotiations, Trump runs the risk of putting too much pressure on Tehran and giving too much of a free hand to the provocations of Pompeo and Bolton that could end up triggering a war in the Strait of Hormuz.

Putin and Xi Jinping prepare for the worst

Our current geopolitical environment requires the careful and considered attention of relevant heads of state. The repeated meetings between Putin and Xi Jinping indicate that Russia and China are actively preparing for any eventuality. The closer we get to economic collapse, the more tensions and chaos increase around the world thanks to the actions of Washington and her close allies.

Xi Jinping and Putin, who have inherited this chaotic situation, have met at least a dozen times over the last six months , more recently meeting at least three times over two months. The pressing need is to coordinate and prepare for what will inevitably happen, once again trying to limit and contain the damage by a United States that is completely out of control and becoming a danger to all, allies and enemies alike.

As Putin just recently said:

"The degeneration of the universalistic model of globalization and its transformation into a parody, caricature of itself, where the common international rules are replaced by administrative and judicial laws of a country or group of countries.

The fragmentation of global economic space with a policy of unbridled economic selfishness and an imposed collapse. But this is the road to infinite conflict, trade wars and perhaps not just commercial ones. Figuratively, this is the road to the final struggle of all against all.

It is necessary to draft a more stable and fair development model. These agreements should not only be written clearly, but should be observed by all participants.

However, I am convinced that talking about a world economic order such as this will remain a pious desire unless we return to the center of the discussion, that is to say, notions like sovereignty, the unconditional right of each country to its own path to development and, let me add, responsibility in the universal sustainable development, not just its own."

The spokesman of the Chancellery of the People's Republic of China, Hua Chun Ying, echoed this sentiment:

"The American leaders say that 'the era of the commercial surrender of their country has come to an end', but what is over is their economic intimidation of the world and their hegemony.

The United States must again respect international law, not arrogate to itself extraterritorial rights and mandates, must learn to respect its peers in safeguarding transparent and non-discriminatory diplomatic and commercial relations. China and the United States have negotiated other disputes in the past with good results and the doors of dialogue are open as long as they are based on mutual respect and benefits.

But as long as these new trade disputes persist, China informs the government of the United States of America and the whole world that it will immediately impose duties on each other, unilaterally on 128 products from the United States of America.

Also, we think we will stop buying US public debt. It's all, good night!"

I wonder if Europeans will understand all this before the impending disaster. I doubt it.

[Jun 23, 2019] Iran Goes for Maximum Counter-Pressure by Pepe Escobar

Derivatives exposure is Achilles spot of the USA in this conflict
Jun 23, 2019 | www.unz.com
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Sooner or later the US "maximum pressure" on Iran would inevitably be met by "maximum counter-pressure". Sparks are ominously bound to fly.

For the past few days, intelligence circles across Eurasia had been prodding Tehran to consider a quite straightforward scenario. There would be no need to shut down the Strait of Hormuz if Quds Force commander, General Qasem Soleimani, the ultimate Pentagon bête noire, explained in detail, on global media, that Washington simply does not have the military capacity to keep the Strait open.

As I previously reported , shutting down the Strait of Hormuz

would destroy the American economy by detonating the $1.2 quadrillion derivatives market; and that would collapse the world banking system, crushing the world's $80 trillion GDP and causing an unprecedented depression.

Soleimani should also state bluntly that Iran may in fact shut down the Strait of Hormuz if the nation is prevented from exporting essential two million barrels of oil a day, mostly to Asia. Exports, which before illegal US sanctions and de facto blockade would normally reach 2.5 million barrels a day, now may be down to only 400,000.

Soleimani's intervention would align with consistent signs already coming from the IRGC. The Persian Gulf is being described as an imminent "shooting gallery." Brigadier General Hossein Salami stressed that Iran's ballistic missiles are capable of hitting "carriers in the sea" with pinpoint precision. The whole northern border of the Persian Gulf, on Iranian territory, is lined up with anti-ship missiles – as I confirmed with IRGC-related sources.

We'll let you know when it's closed

Then, it happened.

Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, went straight to the point ; "If the Islamic Republic of Iran were determined to prevent export of oil from the Persian Gulf, that determination would be realized in full and announced in public, in view of the power of the country and its Armed Forces."

The facts are stark. Tehran simply won't accept all-out economic war lying down – prevented to export the oil that protects its economic survival. The Strait of Hormuz question has been officially addressed. Now it's time for the derivatives.

Presenting detailed derivatives analysis plus military analysis to global media would force the media pack, mostly Western, to go to Warren Buffett to see if it is true. And it is true. Soleimani, according to this scenario, should say as much and recommend that the media go talk to Warren Buffett.

The extent of a possible derivatives crisis is an uber-taboo theme for the Washington consensus institutions. According to one of my American banking sources, the most accurate figure – $1.2 quadrillion – comes from a Swiss banker, off the record. He should know; the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) – the central bank of central banks – is in Basle.

The key point is it doesn't matter how the Strait of Hormuz is blocked.

It could be a false flag. Or it could be because the Iranian government feels it's going to be attacked and then sinks a cargo ship or two. What matters is the final result; any blocking of the energy flow will lead the price of oil to reach $200 a barrel, $500 or even, according to some Goldman Sachs projections, $1,000.

Another US banking source explains; "The key in the analysis is what is called notional. They are so far out of the money that they are said to mean nothing. But in a crisis the notional can become real. For example, if I buy a call for a million barrels of oil at $300 a barrel, my cost will not be very great as it is thought to be inconceivable that the price will go that high. That is notional. But if the Strait is closed, that can become a stupendous figure."

BIS will only commit, officially, to indicate the total notional amount outstanding for contracts in derivatives markers is an estimated $542.4 trillion. But this is just an estimate.

The banking source adds, "Even here it is the notional that has meaning. Huge amounts are interest rate derivatives. Most are notional but if oil goes to a thousand dollars a barrel, then this will affect interest rates if 45% of the world's GDP is oil. This is what is called in business a contingent liability."

Goldman Sachs has projected a feasible, possible $1,000 a barrel a few weeks after the Strait of Hormuz being shut down. This figure, times 100 million barrels of oil produced per day, leads us to 45% of the $80 trillion global GDP. It's self-evident the world economy would collapse based on just that alone.

War dogs barking mad

As much as 30% of the world's oil supply transits the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Wily Persian Gulf traders – who know better – are virtually unanimous; if Tehran was really responsible for the Gulf of Oman tanker incident, oil prices would be going through the roof by now. They aren't.

Iran's territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz amount to 12 nautical miles (22 km). Since 1959, Iran recognizes only non-military naval transit.

Since 1972, Oman's territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz also amount to 12 nautical miles. At its narrowest, the width of the Strait is 21 nautical miles (39 km). That means, crucially, that half of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, and the other half in Oman's. There are no "international waters".

And that adds to Tehran now openly saying that Iran may decide to close the Strait of Hormuz publicly – and not by stealth.

Iran's indirect, asymmetric warfare response to any US adventure will be very painful. Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran once again reconfirmed, "even a limited strike will be met by a major and disproportionate response." And that means gloves off, big time; anything from really blowing up tankers to, in Marandi's words, "Saudi and UAE oil facilities in flames".

Hezbollah will launch tens of thousands of missiles against Israel. As

Hezbollah's secretary-general Hasan Nasrallah has been stressing in his speeches, "war on Iran will not remain within that country's borders, rather it will mean that the entire [Middle East] region will be set ablaze. All of the American forces and interests in the region will be wiped out, and with them the conspirators, first among them Israel and the Saudi ruling family."

It's quite enlightening to pay close attention to what this Israel intel op is saying . The dogs of war though are barking mad .

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jetted to CENTCOM in Tampa to discuss "regional security concerns and ongoing operations" with – skeptical – generals, a euphemism for "maxim pressure" eventually leading to war on Iran.

Iranian diplomacy, discreetly, has already informed the EU – and the Swiss – about their ability to crash the entire world economy. But still that was not enough to remove US sanctions.

War zone in effect

As it stands in Trumpland, former CIA Mike "We lied, We cheated, We stole" Pompeo – America's "top diplomat" – is virtually running the Pentagon. "Acting" secretary Shanahan performed self-immolation. Pompeo continues to actively sell the notion the "intelligence community is convinced" Iran is responsible for the Gulf of Oman tanker incident. Washington is ablaze with rumors of an ominous double bill in the near future; Pompeo as head of the Pentagon and Psycho John Bolton as Secretary of State. That would spell out War.

Yet even before sparks start to fly, Iran could declare that the Persian Gulf is in a state of war; declare that the Strait of Hormuz is a war zone; and then ban all "hostile" military and civilian traffic in its half of the Strait. Without firing a single shot, no shipping company on the planet would have oil tankers transiting the Persian Gulf.


Justsaying , says: June 23, 2019 at 5:23 am GMT

American government arrogance under the control of sickos has not shied away from the belief that destroying countries that do not cave in to Washington's demand of "surrender or perish" -- an ultimatum made in Israel. Indeed it regards that despicable policy as an entitlement – to protect the "international community". Iran may well be the nation that will do away with the nations of turbaned lapdogs and absolute monarchs who have been kept in power by the dozens of US military bases in the area. Maybe a serious jolt of the global economy is long overdue, to bring the Washington dogs of perpetual war to come to their senses.

Was Iran succumbing to the JCPOA provisions and abiding by them not sufficient capitulation for the insane leaders in Washington?

Realist , says: June 23, 2019 at 9:55 am GMT
@joeshittheragman

I hope we don't go into another stupid war. Bring all our troops home from all around the world. Just protect this Republic. We're not the policemen of the world.

The Deep State would never allow that to happen.

alexander , says: June 23, 2019 at 10:56 am GMT
@joeshittheragman It astonishes me that people are still using the phrase "policemen of the world" to define US behavior.

The last time I recall The US even remotely acting as the "worlds's policeman" was in 1991, when we pushed Saddam out of Kuwait.

The Iraq 2003 "debacle", the Libya"shit show" and the Syria" fiasco" have all proven, over time, to be acts of wanton carnage and illegal aggression, . not "police work".

The United States, under Neocon tutelage , is no "policeman" .not by any stretch

It is more like a humongous version of "Bernie Madoff meets Son of Sam."

We have become a grotesque, misshapen empire .of lies fraud .,illegal war, .mass murder ..and heinous f#cking debt.

Policeman ?!? Hahaha.ha ..

RoatanBill , says: June 23, 2019 at 12:32 pm GMT
You have to hand it to the Iranians for basically announcing their intentions to destroy the US economy via the derivatives market that the US financial industry largely produced. Kill them with their own weapon.

A show down between the US and some entity is inevitable. Be it Iran, China or Russia, the US will be over extended and their very expensive weaponry will, I believe, come up wanting on all counts. The MIC has been scamming the country for decades. The military brass is just bluster. When it comes down to an actual confrontation, the US military will come up short as BS won't cut it.

Yes, they will destroy lots of stuff and kill lots of people but then their toys will run out and then what? Missiles will take out the aircraft carriers and the world will see that the emperor is naked.

Sean , says: June 23, 2019 at 12:39 pm GMT
@Parisian Guy America is backed by brute military force. That is why India has stopped buying Iranian oil, and sent ships to the Gulf to back America

http://www.aei.org/publication/iran-the-contrast-between-sovereignty-and-moral-legitimacy/

In June of 2014, as the forces of the Islamic State swept toward Baghdad, President Barack Obama began to recommit American military forces to Iraq. He also observed that "Iran can play a constructive role, if it sends the same message to the Iraqi government that we're sending, which is that Iraq only holds together if it is inclusive." In an instantly famous article by Atlantic magazine correspondent and White House amanuensis Jeffrey Goldberg, Obama indicated that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states had to learn to "share" the Middle East with Iran.

In imagining a kind of strategic partnership with Tehran, Obama is recycling a deeply held belief of late-Cold War "realists" like former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. "For U.S. strategy, Iran should be viewed as a potential natural partner in the region, as it was until 1979," when Shah Reza Pahlavi was toppled in the Khomeini revolution." "Envisioning 2030: U.S. Strategy for a Post-Western World," foresaw that "a post-Mullah dominated government shedding Shia political ideology could easily return to being a net contributor to stability by 2030

https://en.mehrnews.com/news/143606/Mearsheimer-S-Arabia-a-threat-not-Iran
"The truth is that it is the United States that is a direct threat to Iran, not the other way around. The Trump administration, with much prompting from Israel and Saudi Arabia, has its gunsights on Iran. The aim is regime change.

America does not seem to think the Iranian regieme can do anything except bluster as they are slowly smothered.

eah , says: June 23, 2019 at 1:07 pm GMT
@Parisian Guy I can't buy the derivatives stuff.

Famous last words -- review what Bernanke said just before subprime exploded: 2007 -- Bernanke: Subprime Mortgage Woes Won't Seriously Hurt Economy -- that said, I have no idea what will happen if Iran decides to interfere with shipping in the straits -- or how likely that is.

The biggest long-term threat to the US is the end of the petrodollar scheme -- due to its unmatched worldwide political and military hegemony, and 'safe haven' status, the dollar has largely been insulated from the consequences of what are in reality staggering, almost structural (at this point) US deficits -- but that can't and won't go on forever.

Jason Liu , says: June 23, 2019 at 1:13 pm GMT
Russia and China need to set up global deterrence against interventionism by western democracies.
eah , says: June 23, 2019 at 1:37 pm GMT
In 2018, U.S. net imports (imports minus exports) of petroleum from foreign countries averaged about 2.34 million barrels per day, equal to about 11% of U.S. petroleum consumption. This was the lowest percentage since 1957.

In reality, the US is today far less dependent on imported oil than most people probably imagine, and therefore far less vulnerable to any import supply issue.

DESERT FOX , says: June 23, 2019 at 2:07 pm GMT
Israel and the zio/US has interfered in Iran since the 1953 CIA/Mossad coup and at intervals ever since then and have brought this problem on by the zio/US and Israeli meddling in the affairs of Iran and an all out war via illegal sanctions which in fact are a form of war.

Iran has not started a war in over 300 years and is not the problem , the problem is the warmongers in the zio/US and Israel and will not end as long as the warmongers remain in power.

A good start to ending these problems would be to abolish the CIA!

Mike P , says: June 23, 2019 at 3:05 pm GMT
@MLK Yes, the sanctions on Iran are having an effect, and the recent Iranian actions acknowledge this; but that does not mean Iran is weak. Iran is telling the U.S. that it is NOT Venezuela or North Korea. Kim is all bark, but no bite; Trump was quite right to call him "little rocket man." Even he, with his singular lack of style and grace, is not doing this to the Iranian leadership.

The economic sanctions against Iran already constitute acts of war. The Iranians have just demonstrated that they can disrupt oil flow from the Middle East in retaliation, and not just in the Street of Hormuz. In addition, they have now shown that they can take down American aircraft, stealth or not, with precision. This means Iran is able and willing to strike back and escalate as it sees fit, both economically and militarily. If the U.S. don't relent, Iran WILL send the oil prices through the roof, and it will humiliate the U.S. on the world stage if they are stupid enough to go to war over it.

The Iranian messages are simple, clear, and consistent. Compare this to the confused cacophony that emerges from the clown troupe in Washington, and you can easily tell which side has been caught unawares by recent events.

This is a watershed moment for Trump – he will either assert himself, return to reason, and keep the peace; or he will stay aboard the sinking ship. No good options for him personally, of course; his choices are impeachment, assassination, or staying in office while presiding over the final act of the U.S. empire.

Johnny Walker Read , says: June 23, 2019 at 4:06 pm GMT
@Zumbuddi Let us never forget the "babies thrown from incubators" propaganda to help get it all started.

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

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website June 23, 2019 at 4:40 pm GMT
@Agent76

The US is committed to conflict not only most obviously against Iran, but also with Russia.

US, or rather a bunch of lunatics infesting Trump's Admin, might be committed, but it absolutely doesn't mean that the US has resources for that. In fact, US doesn't have resources to fight Iran, let alone Russia. By now most of it is nothing more than chest-thumping and posturing. Today Bolton's statement is a further proof of that.

denk , says: June 23, 2019 at 4:47 pm GMT

Instead, Bush saw that situation, within the unique moment of US no longer constrained by a rival superpower, as an opportunity to exert US global dominance.

The much derided Chomsky

There were once two gangsters in town, the USA and USSR, there's relative peace cuz each was constrained by the rival's threat.
NOW that the USSR is gone, the remaining gangster
is running amok with total impunity.

Now I dunno if the USSR was a 'gangster' ,
as for uncle scam, .. needs no introduction I presume ?

anon [356] Disclaimer , says: June 23, 2019 at 7:34 pm GMT
@peterAUS More to this downing .

"Iran's ability to target and destroy the high-altitude American drone, which was developed to evade the very surface-to-air missiles used to bring it down, surprised some Defense Department officials, who interpreted it as a show of how difficult Tehran can make things for the United States as it deploys more troops and steps up surveillance in the region.– "

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/20/world/middleeast/iran-us-drone.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

The Alarmist , says: June 23, 2019 at 8:49 pm GMT
@Wally It's all cashflow and OPM, on the hope of hitting the big-time when prices spike. A giant house of cards waiting to implode, and that is before one takes into account all the hugely negative externalities associated with fracking that give it any hope of profitability, which would vapourise if the costs of the externalities were charged to the operators.

https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/will-fracking-industry-debts-set-off-financial-tremors/

https://energypolicy.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/CGEPReserveBaseLendingAndTheO

anon [770] Disclaimer , says: June 23, 2019 at 9:04 pm GMT
@Curmudgeon Fact:

According to preliminary data for 2018, oil demand surpassed 20 mmb/d for the first time since 2007 and will be just shy of the 2005 peak (20,524 mb/d versus 20,802 mb/d in 2005).

U.S. Oil Demand Recovers | CSIS | January 29, 2019
https://www.csis.org/analysis/us-oil-demand-recovers

Fact:


Source: https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/global_oil.php

Cyrano , says: June 23, 2019 at 9:25 pm GMT
It's really tragic to see two brotherly ideologies Capitalism and Islam (both want to rule the world) go at each other throats in this manner. After all, they have fought shoulder to shoulder a holly jihad against socialism in such far flung places as Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria.

I think that based on this latest conflict, people can see what a principled country US is. People used to think that US hates only socialist revolutions. Until Iran's Islamic revolution came along – and US was against it too. So, it's safe to say that US are against ANY revolutions – be they Socialist or Islamic. I guess we can call them contra-revolutionaries.

Simply Simon , says: June 23, 2019 at 9:38 pm GMT
At least 95% of the American people do not want war with Iran. For that matter the same percentage did not want war with Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam or Korea. But the powers that be do not ask the American people if they want to go to war, they just do it based on the authority they assume is theirs. Meanwhile, our elected representatives who do have the authority to start or prevent wars turn a deaf ear to their constituents because the voices they hear in protest are weak or muted. Let's face it, the wars since WWII have affected only a relatively minor segment of our population. A hell of a lot more people die in traffic accidents than on the battlefield so what's to get excited about. Keeping a large standing army, navy and air force is good for the economy, the troops have to be provided the latest best of everything and as for the troops themselves for many it's not a bad way to make a living with a retirement and health care system better than many jobs in the civilian sector. So my message to the American people is if you really do not want war with Iran you had better speak up louder than you are now.
anon [356] Disclaimer , says: June 23, 2019 at 9:40 pm GMT
CAN IRAN ENTER ITO NEGOTIATION WITH IRAN? IT CANT. BECAUSE ISRAEL WITH NO FOOT IN THE DOOR OF THE HELL IS WAGING THE WAR AND GETTING US PUNISHED .

UC Berkeley journalism professor Sandy Tolan, Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2002– [Richard] Perle, in the same 1998 article, told Forward that a coalition of pro-Israeli groups was 'at the forefront with the legislation with regard to Iran. One can only speculate what it might accomplish if it decided to focus its attention on Saddam Hussein.' Now, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has joined the call against Tehran, arguing in a November interview with the Times of London that the U.S. should shift its focus to Iran 'the day after' the Iraq war ends

[Hide MORE]
-- -- -
They want to foment revolution in Iran and use that to isolate and possibly attack Syria in [Lebanon's] Bekaa Valley, and force Syria out," says former Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Edward S. Walker, now president of the Middle East Institute. http://prospect.org/article/just-beginning
03/14/03
--

in 2003 Morris Amitay and fellow neocon Michael Ledeen founded the Coalition for Democracy in Iran, an advocacy group pushing for regime change in Iran . According to the website, it will be un-American,immoral and unproductive to engage with any segment of the regime .
During a may 2003 conference at the AEI on the future of Iran,Amitay sharply criticized the U.S State Department's efforts to engage the Islamic Republic ,claimed the criticism of Newt Gingrich did not go far enough . Amiaty was introduced by M Ledeen as the "Godfather" of AIPAC Amitay admitted that direct action against Iran would be difficult before 2004 election.

Nostalgia for the last shah's son, Reza Pahlavi ? has again risen," says Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA officer who, like Ledeen and Perle, is ensconced at the AEI. "We must be prepared, however, to take the battle more directly to the mullahs," says Gerecht, adding that the United States must consider strikes at both Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and allies in Lebanon. "In fact, we have only two meaningful options: Confront clerical Iran and its proxies militarily or ring it with an oil embargo." http://prospect.org/article/just-beginning March 14,2003

"Neoconservatives in the Bush Administration have long targeted Iran. Richard Perle, former Defense Policy Board member, and David Frum, of the neo-com Weekly Standard, co-authored "An End to Evil," which calls for the overthrow of the "terrorist mullahs of Iran." Michael Ladeen of the influential American Enterprise Institute argues that "Tehran is a city just waiting for us." http://www.counterpunch.org/2004/05/26/the-oil-connection/

According to the 2016 documentary Zero Days by director Alex Gibney, Israel's incessant public threats to attack Iran coupled with intense secret demands for cyber warfare targeting Iran were the catalyst for massive new US black budget spending

NSA Director (1999-2005) and CIA Director (2006-2009) Michael Hayden claimed in Zero Days that the goal of any Israeli air attack against Iran's nuclear facilities would be to drag the United States into war.
"Our belief was that if they [Israel] went on their own, knowing the limitations No, they're a very good air force, alright? But it's small and the distances are great, and the targets dispersed and hardened, alright? If they would have attempted a raid on a military plane, we would have been assuming that they were assuming we would finish that which they started. In other words, there would be many of us in government thinking that the purpose of the raid wasn't to destroy the Iranian nuclear system, but the purpose of the raid was to put us [the United States] at war with Iran." https://original.antiwar.com/smith-grant/2018/11/06/israel-and-the-trillion-dollar-2005-2018-us-intelligence-budget

KA , says: June 23, 2019 at 9:47 pm GMT
Emergence of ISIS is linked to US efforts to weaken Iran

-In "The Redirection", written in 2008(!) – years before the 2011 uprising, Seymour Hersh wrote of plans to use extremists in Syria.
Excerpts:
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
Nasr compared the current situation to the period in which Al Qaeda first emerged. In the nineteen-eighties and the early nineties, the Saudi government offered to subsidize the covert American C.I.A. proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Hundreds of young Saudis were sent into the border areas of Pakistan, where they set up religious schools, training bases, and recruiting facilities. Then, as now, many of the operatives who were paid with Saudi money were Salafis. Among them, of course, were Osama bin Laden and his associates, who founded Al Qaeda, in 1988.
This time, "

Monty Ahwazi , says: June 23, 2019 at 10:00 pm GMT
@Simply Simon In the old days, the orders for the US government were coming down from the Tri-Lateral Commission and the 6-7 major companies. Rockefeller took the TLC underground ground with himself. The oil companies continue asking the US government for protecting the ME/NA resources. Then Neocons replaced the TLC which their focus was twofold.
1. Destabilize the regions for protecting Israel
2. Control the resources militarily
3. Keep the Chinese out and cut their access to the resources
Guess what, Chinese have penetrated the regions constructively and quietly. America with its unjustified fucking wars is being hated even more than 1953.
Monty Ahwazi , says: June 23, 2019 at 10:26 pm GMT
@KA Very true! Unfortunately the presidents were misinformed or uninformed about the proxies created by the CIA. The first created to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan manned and financed by the Saudis, recruited by Mossad and intelligence was provided by the CIA. Sound really really good to the Americans since it was free of charge with no loss of life! Then during the Iraq war its neighbor Syria was getting destabilized so the CIA replicated Al-Qaeda and formed a new gang which called themselves ISIS. The function of ISIS was to overthrow Al-Bashar of Syria. The secondary mission for both groups was to bug Iran from its western and eastern front.
Manning both of these groups with Sunnis was the biggest mistake that KSA, Mossad and the CIA made. See the Sunnis are not fighters without sophisticated weapons from the West. On the other Shiites can fight with a sword and empty handed if they have to. They remind me of VC's in Vietnam. The Shiites decimated the ISIS and most of AlQaeda now the US is trying to get credit for that but they know better now. So my recommendation to the US is please don't aggravate the Shiites otherwise they will embarrass us just the VC's
Avery , says: June 23, 2019 at 10:48 pm GMT
@Monty Ahwazi { All insurance companies will drop their coverage of the oil tankers immediately.}

During the Iran-Iraq war, US re-flagged Kuwaiti tankers and ran them under US flag and protection through the straight.
Same thing can be done again.

And if insurance companies drop coverage, US Treasury will provide the coverage: some US insurance company will be "convinced" by US Gov to provide the coverage and US Treasury will guarantee _any_ losses incurred by the insurance company or companies.
US can always add to the national debt ( .i.e. print more dollars).

So, no: declaration won't do.
Only destroying stuff works.

{You guys sitting here and making up these nonsensical policies}

Nobody is making policy here: we are not a government.
We are exchanging opinions.

btw: where are you sitting?
Are your personal opinions considered 'policy', because you are ..what?

RobinG , says: June 23, 2019 at 11:01 pm GMT
@anon That was buried deep in the article. (Thanks for posting link.) Next lines, the NYT is skeptical of US claims. Too bad this isn't first pararaphs!)

Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, the Air Force commander for the Central Command region in the Middle East, said the attack could have endangered "innocent civilians," even though officials at Central Command continued to assert that the drone was over international waters. He said that the closest that the drone got to the Iranian coast was 21 miles.

Late Thursday, the Defense Department released additional imagery in an email to support its case that the drone never entered Iranian airspace. But the department incorrectly called the flight path of the drone the location of the shooting down and offered little context for an image that appeared to be the drone exploding in midair.

It was the latest attempt by the Pentagon to try to prove that Iran has been the aggressor in a series of international incidents.

RobinG , says: June 23, 2019 at 11:16 pm GMT
@Zumbuddi Thank you. If the US were a real [HONEST] policeman, they would have stopped Kuwait from stealing Iraqi oil. But no, Bush was a dirty cop, on the take.
Robjil , says: June 24, 2019 at 12:09 am GMT
@dearieme Read "JFK and the Unspeakable" by James W. Douglass. JFK was getting us out of Vietnam. In his time, there was not massive amounts of US troops in Vietnam, only advisors. JFK planned to get all the troops out after he was re-elected.

It was during Johnson's presidency that the Vietnam war became a huge war for the US. Johnson set up the Gulf of Tonkin false flag on August 2 1964. This started the huge draft of young men for Vietnam war that dragged on till the early 1970s.

Johnson also allowed Israel to do a false flag on the US on June 8 1967. Israel attacked the USS Liberty. 34 servicemen killed and 174 injured. Israel wanted to kill them all and blame it on Egypt, so US would nuke Egypt. Lovely nation is little Israel. The song " Love is all you need" by the Beatles was released on June 7 1967. Summer of Love, Hippies in San Francisco, all planned to get Americans into drugs and forget about what Israel is doing in the Middle East. It worked, nobody noticed what Israel did since we have a "free" 500 Zion BC press in the US in 1967 and we still do these days.

Pft , says: June 24, 2019 at 12:12 am GMT
Iran is pretty self sufficient with minimal foreign debt. Their Central Bank is under their control and works for the people. They should just hunker down and hope Trumps crew is out of a job after the elections next year

If the US strikes they can block the straits. However, the US would probably knock out the refineries so that will hurt

They shot down the drone because it was collecting intelligence on targets the US plans to strike. Thats defensive not provocative

If the US wants to go at Iran they will manufacture something. People are so dumbed down they can made to believe anything, as events 18 years ago and since have proven

Hopefully this is just distraction to cover up some nefarious plan to loot the working class some more. Or maybe getting the straits closed is part of the plan. Who knows?

renfro , says: June 24, 2019 at 12:46 am GMT
this might be the real story

https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2019/06/22/why-trump-didnt-bomb-iran-449575

THE TICK TOCKS WHY TRUMP DIDN'T BOMB IRAN NYT'S PETER BAKER, MAGGIE HABERMAN and THOMAS GIBBONS-NEFF:

"Urged to Launch an Attack, Trump Listened to the Skeptics Who Said It Would Be a Costly Mistake": "He heard from his generals and his diplomats. Lawmakers weighed in and so did his advisers. But among the voices that rang powerfully for President Trump was that of one of his favorite Fox News hosts: Tucker Carlson.
"While national security advisers were urging a military strike against Iran, Mr. Carlson in recent days had told Mr. Trump that responding to Tehran's provocations with force was crazy. The hawks did not have the president's best interests at heart, he said. And if Mr. Trump got into a war with Iran, he could kiss his chances of re-election goodbye.

"The 150-dead casualty estimate came not from a general but from a lawyer, according to the official. The estimate was developed by Pentagon lawyers drafting worst-case scenarios that, the official said, did not account for whether the strike was carried out during daytime, when more people might be present at the targets, or in the dark hours before sunrise, as the military planned.
"That estimate was passed to the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, without being cleared with [Patrick] Shanahan or General [Joseph] Dunford. It was then conveyed to the president by the White House lawyers, at which point Mr. Trump changed his mind and called off the strike." NYT NYT A1
"That estimate was passed to the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, without being cleared with [Patrick] Shanahan or General [Joseph] Dunford. It was then conveyed to the president by the White House lawyers, at which point Mr. Trump changed his mind and called off the strike." NYT NYT A1

Iris , says: June 24, 2019 at 12:48 am GMT

Saddam was given plenty of time, and plenty of resolutions to pack up his troops and go home

.

Saddam was given the assurance by US ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie, that the USA supported his retaliatory action against Kuwait. Same usual trap and deliberate provocation; all the rest is obfuscation.

Thorfinnsson , says: June 24, 2019 at 12:52 am GMT
@AnonFromTN The loss of two American aircraft carriers appears to be the assumption you are making to guarantee an Iranian victory.

Such a loss is by no means assured.

The idea that American willpower will collapse in the event of the loss of two capital ships is your second assumption, and it's both a fanciful and dangerous assumption.

I'm not myself terribly impressed by American military power, but comparing naval combat to counterinsurgency operations is absurd.

Your economic assumptions appear to come from the permabear school. Actual economies and governments don't work that way. A major reduction in global supplies will result in compulsory conservation, rationing, price controls, etc. This was done in recent memory in the 1970s in both North America and Western Europe, when you were still behind the Iron Curtain and perhaps not aware.

Thorfinnsson , says: June 24, 2019 at 12:53 am GMT
@peterAUS Do you have any actual numbers?

Does anyone?

anon [284] Disclaimer , says: June 24, 2019 at 12:57 am GMT
@alexander Saddam was given plenty of time, and plenty of resolutions to pack up his troops and go home."

Efforts by Egypt to arrive an Arab initiated solution was ignored and dismissed by USA

Initial Saudi effort to find a face saving exit by Saddam was met with resistance and then a manufactured satellite image of Saddam massing his soldiers for invasion of Saudi was widely disseminated by US.

Saddam crimes was no less or more egregious than what Israel was enjoying with US dollars and with US support and with impunity ( It was still occupying Pastien and Parts of Syria and Lebanon )

It was Levy the Israeli FM who threatened that his country would attack Iraq if US did not.

War against Saddam was orchestrated by Jewish members of Thatcher and by Democrats of USA ) Solarz – NY Senator was one of the guys and the AIPAC whose president Mr. Dine confessed the crimes )

neprof , says: June 24, 2019 at 1:06 am GMT
@Robjil

Read "JFK and the Unspeakable" by James W. Douglass.

Should be required reading by all Americans.

anon [284] Disclaimer , says: June 24, 2019 at 1:08 am GMT
@alexander UN has been abused by USA taking the advantage of the collapse of Soviet . (This is what Wolf0owitz told Wesley Clarke in 1992 in Feb : This was the time we can and we should take care of these countries Iran Iraq Syria Libya and Yemen while Russia is still weakened and unable to help its erstwhile vassals states) .

USA had no right to ask Saddam to leave . Subsequent behaviors of USA has proved it.
Israel also in addition has no right to exist .

If correction had to come from Iran Hezbollah and Syria- then so be it. That news would be best thing that would happen to humanity within last 200 yrs .

KA , says: June 24, 2019 at 1:11 am GMT
@Robjil Wolfowitz has been trying to kill Saddam and dismember Iraq from 1979.

The rat got his hand the Cookie jar after Soviet collapsed.

( Ref- Sunshine Warrior NYT )

John Noughty , says: June 24, 2019 at 1:14 am GMT
@Jim Christian I hope you're right.
RobinG , says: June 24, 2019 at 1:16 am GMT
@alexander You're begging for a big "So What?"

There are UN resolutions about all kinds of things. Israel comes first to mind, of course. UN resolutions do not obligate military action.

anon [400] Disclaimer , says: June 24, 2019 at 1:20 am GMT
@Iris but -- but -- but (sputters Alexander the otherwise sage commenter), The UN -- that's the U-nited Nations!! fer pete's ache, Agreed!! ( Agreed is Diplomatese for: "Please stop twisting my arm; Please stop bankrupting my country; Please stop threatening to tell my wife -- ).

in other words, the UN is a toy and a ploy for someone like G H W Bush salivating at the once in a lifetime opportunity to exert world dominance -- 'scuse me: "Create a New World Order" -- in the context of a power vacuum / dissolution of the Soviet Empire, previously the only counterbalance to US superpower status.

No doubt the UN was got on board. It acted like the paid-for- judge and show-trial in a case the prosecutor had already rigged.
imho, what is more significant, and what it takes years to unearth, is the decision making and back-room dealing that came BEFORE the UN was induced to stamp its imprimatur.

Tony Blair endorsed Bush the Lesser's war on Iraq. Does that grant it legitimacy, or in any way explain why US waged that war?

peterAUS , says: June 24, 2019 at 1:23 am GMT
@Thorfinnsson

Do you have any actual numbers?

I don't care about numbers.
50 (proper) sea mines backed up by 20 air/land-sea missiles do the job. Block the Hormuz.
I am sure the regime in Tehran has that number.

Does anyone?

Don't think so.
Mines in particular.
While missiles could be tricky to produce even smart sea mines are not.
A lot of explosive-check.
A couple of sensors (acoustic/magnetic)-check.
A couple of hardened micro controller boards-check.
That's it.

In this very game there are, really, only two elements that interest me:
Tactical nukes.
Selective draft.

What hehe really interests me is the escalation from "tactical" to "strategic".

AnonFromTN , says: June 24, 2019 at 1:32 am GMT
@Thorfinnsson Let me make this clear: there won't be Iranian victory. Iran will pay a hefty price. There will be the defeat of the Empire, though, a major climb down. The worst (for the Empire) part would be that the whole world would see that the king has no clothes. Then the backlash against the Empire (hated by 6/7th of the Earth population) starts, and that would be extremely painful for everyone in the US, guilty and innocent alike (myself included).

Compulsory rationing and price controls were possible when the governments actually governed. When the whole governments and legislatures are full of corporations' marionettes, as is the case now in the US and EU, these measures are impossible. Profiteers will have their day. They will crush Western economies and therefore themselves, but never underestimate the blinding force of greed. The same greedy bastards are supplying the US military with airplanes that have trouble flying and with ships costing untold billions that break down in the Panama canal, of all places. The same greedy scum destroyed the US industry and moved all production to China, in effect spelling the doom of the only country that could have protected their loot from other thieves. That's the problem with greed: it makes people incredibly shortsighted.

Sergey Krieger , says: June 24, 2019 at 1:39 am GMT
@joeshittheragman You are parasites on the world neck. That's why your troops are all over the place.
anon [356] Disclaimer , says: June 24, 2019 at 1:48 am GMT
@alexander Is it true . possibly but so what ?

So what? That nice lessons are being imparted slowly to the Israeli slave USA.

USA does what other countries are accused of before invading . USA throws out any qualms any morality any legality . It uses UN . Right now it is illegally supplying arms to Saudi to Israel and to the rebels in Syria. These are the reasons US have gone to wars against other countries for. Now some countries are standing up and saying – those days are gone , you can't attack any country anymore just because someone has been raped or someone has been distributing Viagra.

alexander , says: June 24, 2019 at 1:48 am GMT
@RobinG I think you are right.

And so did George Bush Senior.

As a matter of fact, the whole world began to ask, you are willing to launch your military to eject Saddam from Kuwait Bravo! ..Now what are willing to do about Israels illegal seizure of Palestinian territory in the West bank .It is more or less the exact same crime, Isn't it?

George Bush Senior was the last US President in American History to withhold all loans to Israel, until it ceased and desisted from illegal settlement activity in the Palestinian Territories.

Many believe it was his willingness to hold Israel to the same standard as everyone else, which cost him his second term.

What do you think , Robin?

By-tor , says: June 24, 2019 at 2:02 am GMT
@Thorfinnsson Iran shot down a US Navy RQ-4A intel drone that cost $250: A model that is marketed as being hard to shoot down since it has an 11 mile high altitude ceiling and a long operational range. That a coastal AA missile battery knocked it down with one shot answers several questions.

[Jun 23, 2019] Are Starvation Sanctions Worse Than Overt Warfare

Jun 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Starvation sanctions kill people.

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have reportedly already died as a result of this administration's relentless assault on their economy; those human beings are no less dead than they would have been if the US had killed them by dropping cluster bombs on Caracas. Yet these deaths have received virtually no mainstream media coverage, and Americans, while they strongly oppose attacking Iran militarily , have had very little to say about Trump's attacks on the nation's economy. The economy which people use to feed their children, to care for their elderly and their sick.

I'm titling this essay "Starvation Sanctions Are Worse Than Overt Warfare", and I mean it. I am not saying that starvation sanctions are more destructive or deadly than overt military force in and of themselves; what I am saying is that the overall effect is worse, because there's no public accountability for them and because they deliberately target civilians.

If the US were to launch a barrage of Tomahawk missiles into an Iranian suburb with the goal of killing civilians, there'd be international outrage and the cohesion of the US-centralized power alliance would take a major hit. Virtually everyone would recognize this as an unforgivable war crime. Yet America will be able to kill the same number of civilians with the same deliberate intention of inflicting deadly force, and it would suffer essentially no consequences at all. There's no public or international pressure holding that form of violence at bay, because it's invisible and poorly understood.

It reminds me of the way financial abuse gets overlooked and under-appreciated in our society. Financial abuse can be more painful and imprisoning than physical or psychological abuse (and I speak from experience), especially if you have children, yet you don't generally see movies and TV shows getting made about it. In a society where people have been made to depend on money for survival, limiting or cutting off their access to it is the same as any other violent attack upon their personal sovereignty, and can easily be just as destructive. But as a society we haven't yet learned to see and understand this violence, so it doesn't attract interest and attention. That lack of interest and attention enables the empire to launch deadly campaigns targeting civilian populations unnoticed, without any public accountability. It's great that more people are starting to understand the cost of war, to the extent that we're even seeing US presidential candidates make opposing it central to their platforms, but this is happening at a time when overt warfare is becoming more obsolete and replaced with something subtler and more sinister. We must as a society evolve our understanding of what starvation sanctions are and what they do, and stop seeing them as in any way superior or preferable to overt warfare.

The fact that people generally oppose senseless military violence but are unable to see and comprehend a slow, boa constrictor-like act of slaughter via economic strangulation is why these siege warfare tactics have become the weapon of choice for the US-centralized empire. It is a more gradual way of murdering people than overt warfare, but when you control all the resources and have an underlying power structure which maintains itself amid the comings and goings of your officially elected government, you're in no hurry. The absence of any public accountability makes the need for patience a very worthwhile trade-off.

So you see this siege warfare strategy employed everywhere by the US-centralized empire:

The US-centralized power alliance is so powerful in its ability to hurt nations with financial influence that in 1990 when Yemen voted against a UN Security Council Resolution authorizing the attack against Iran, a senior US diplomat was caught on a hot mic telling the Yemeni ambassador, "That will be the most expensive 'no' vote you ever cast." According to German author Thomas Pogge , "The US stopped $70 million in aid to Yemen; other Western countries, the IMF, and World Bank followed suit. Saudi Arabia expelled some 800,000 Yemeni workers, many of whom had lived there for years and were sending urgently needed money to their families."

That's real power. Not the ability to destroy a nation with bombs and missiles, but the ability to destroy it without firing a shot.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/RM0uvgHKZe8

It's no wonder, then, that the drivers of this empire work so hard to continue growing and expanding it. The oligarchs and their allies in opaque government agencies no doubt envision a world where all noncompliant nations like Iran, Russia and China have been absorbed into the blob of empire and war becomes obsolete, not because anyone has become any less violent, but because their economic control will be so complete that they can obliterate entire populations just by cutting them off from the world economy whenever any of them become disobedient.

This is the only reason Iran is being targeted right now. That's why you'll never hear a factually and logically sound argument defending Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal; there is none. There was no problem with the JCPOA other than the fact that it barred America from inflicting economic warfare upon Iran, which it needed for the purpose of toppling the nation's government so that it can be absorbed into the blob of the US-centralized empire.

And all the innocent human beings who die of starvation and disease? They don't matter. Imperial violence only matters if there are consequences for it. The price of shoring up the total hegemony of the empire will have been worth it .

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

Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 06:18

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

For a review:

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

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

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

bonefisher -> Livemike , 6 Mar 2012 06:52

Great post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cultivating wealth

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

reduction in export taxes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

What went wrong?

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

.... ... ...

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

... ... ...

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

Jun 20, 2019 | www.rt.com

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

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

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

[Jun 23, 2019] The Financial War Escalates

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happened? What were they waiting for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The British involvement

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

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

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

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

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

China's policy predicament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

False flags and Iran

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

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

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

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

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

How will it be resolved?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Demeter55 , 4 hours ago link

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

I am Groot , 19 hours ago link

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

BennyBoy , 19 hours ago link

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

iSage , 19 hours ago link

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

[Jun 22, 2019] The USA MSM uses Bolton and Pompeo bellicosity as clickbait to generate revenue for their business at the expense of whats best for the nation

Notable quotes:
"... Russia, China and the Europeans all want Iran to remain in JCPOA and Putin is worried about Iran acting irrationally. ..."
"... Asians all worried about the security of oil flows to Asia. Japan especially dependent on Middle East oil flows, even if they've moved out of Iranian purchases. ..."
"... The IRGC knuckle dragger in charge at Hormuz will get a medal or two, and a promotion. The U.S. is waging a total economic war on Iran. It cuts off all its exports and imports. Iran is fighting back by all means. It has no other choice. Iran now implements a "strategy of tension" that is designed to put "maximum pressure" on Trump. The tanker attacks, the mortars on U.S. troops in Iraq, the Houthi strikes an Saudi desalination plants and the shoot down of that drone are all part of that Iranian strategy. ..."
"... High Iranian officials, including its president, have multiple times announced: "If we can sell no sell oil than none of our neighbors in the gulf will be able to sell their oil." They mean that and they have the plans and means to achieve that. ..."
"... These strikes will continue, and will become stronger. I most cases Iran will have plausible deniability. That is easy to create when CentCom and the White House are know to lie left and right as they do. ..."
"... It is Trump, not Iran, who killed JCPOA. It is Trump, not Iran, who will be blamed for that war. ..."
"... Exactly! There's one striking characteristic of the "resistance" leaders, including Khamenei, Syrian President Assad, and Hezbollah's Nasrallah, and that is that they are reliable: they do what they say they are going to do. They have integrity, that quality so clearly absent from all US and Western European leaders, all beholden to their Ziodonors to assure reelection. ..."
"... Additionally, any standoff missile attack or "March of the B52s" will be met with immediate regional attacks on US (Saudi and Israeli) assets, military personnel and civilians that will destabilize the entire region and destroy the global economy. Not the best scenario for a reelection bid, is it? I'm with b. There is no knuckle dragger at Hormuz, only competent officers carrying out their orders. ..."
"... How blame is apportioned will matter little to Iran if it miscalculates one iota. Yes it cannot sit idle until it is strangled by economic sanctions. But neither can it escalate beyond the destruction of civil and military hardware alone. One dead American is all the neocons need. A counter strike would then be inevitable and the uncontrollable escalation they are counting on the likely result. ..."
"... Col. Lang has described here the catastrophic consequences for America's enemies when they have doubted its resolve. And the sure route to galvanizing that resolve is for Iran to escalate into targeting US forces. ..."
"... The only way this ends without a war which would be catastrophic for both sides is if Trump realizes the reality of the situation he is in and ditches the neocons right now. Iran has got its message across and must now desist to allow Trump breathing room to de-escalate. Let us pray that Suleimani and the Iranian leadership are men enough to understand that holding the moral high ground confers no advantage in warfare. ..."
"... Privately, phone calls to China and Russia begging for assurances of support ..."
"... This is delusional thinking. The Iranians realized a long time ago not to rely on other countries for assistance. Every Iranian knows not to trust Russians from history. China might be the only hope, not for support, but to convince that this war is as much about them. ..."
"... The Chinese should close Adelson's Macau casinos for health and safety violations. Zionist donors for Trump's election campaign are driving this. Adelson's boy Bolton needs removing before anything positive can happen, Tucker Carlson needs some help with his campaign to oust him. ..."
"... Could you explain how the concept that economic sanctions are a belligerent act of war is anti-American? This is a historical concept that you, as a teacher and student of military history, are well aware of. The Iranians are using the means that they have available to respond to these acts of war. ..."
"... They are not equipped to confront the US military directly, so they are using tactics to place pressure on the US in other areas, primarily by threatening the global economy by plausibly deniable acts against shipping in the Persian Gulf. This is a masterstroke right out of the pages of Sun Tze's Art of War. ..."
"... Trump has painted himself into a corner. He can offer sanctions relief if he wants to negotiate, or he can attack, and we can hope that the US military learned some of the lessons taught by Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper in the Millennium Challenge 2002. ..."
"... The neocons are playing out provocations until Congress is forced to vote on War just before election. The provocations will continue -- Israel's Rational Institute & expert game theorists have done this so many times they're just going through the motions. Iranians have watched that game play out before and, perhaps, know how to handle provocations in a disruptive manner. ..."
"... Hook repeated, emphasized & repeated again that "finance is the basis of war," and US / Trump strategy is to "not to bankrupt Iran," but to "deny Iran access to financial ability to fund Hezbollah, Hamas, and other of the #1 state sponsor of terror's proxies." ..."
"... The congressmen questioning Hook nodded sagely. None of them so much as hinted at the fact that the USA is so deep in debt it can never pay its way out. ..."
"... --One of the expectations of the JCPOA was that with sanctions lifted, Iran would enter into the mainstream economy, trading with states throughout the world. This normalization of commerce would constrain Iran from taking actions that would jeopardize its trade relationships. Why does Trump & the zioncons not wish Iran's commercial normalization to take place? Is it because Israel cannot stand the competition? ..."
"... -- by what right USA violates UN Charter demands that internal affairs of a member state must not be interfered with. Congressmen crowned themselves with laurel as they proclaimed that "the people of Iran are not our enemy; it is the government; we act on behalf of the Iranian people, especially Iranian women." ..."
"... Trump thinks that he can f*** Iran and sit it out? Not gonna happen. ..."
"... He gets that he cannot be an LBJ or a Harry Truman with the Albatross of an unwinnable war hung around his neck. ..."
"... But, I am afraid the chosen true believers on his staff do not believe nor care that Iran has prepared a massive disproportionate non-nuclear response that will destroy the global economy. ..."
"... John Bolton and Mike Pompeo have other agendas than the President's re-election and what is in the USA's national interests. We are not out of the woods. ..."
"... The IRGC knuckle dragger at Hormuz wisely and prudently targeted the unmanned drone and not the manned P8 aircraft. ..."
"... No, this action was appropriate in the face of our policy of maximum pressure to starve out the Iranian people and force a regime change. ..."
"... I applaud Trump's decision not to engage in a shooting war. The way he got to that decision was messy, but the final decision was right. Those calling him weak for not engaging in a war of choice are craven fools. Chief among those is Bolton. ..."
"... Trump should throw his ass and his mustache out of the WH before the sun goes down. Trump brought this situation upon himself with his pulling out of the JCPOA and initiating his "war" of maximum pressure. It is he who can deflate this crisis, not Kamenei. ..."
"... This is all one big PsyOp imo. The US has no popular support for an attack on Iran, internally or externally. We are going to attack, but want to make it seem like they showed restraint and have been left with no choice. ..."
"... And this nonsense about Iran allowing the US to make some window dressing attack on innocuous targets to save face/ All I can say is Iranians are not Arabs. ..."
"... PS -- C Span ramped up an orgy of war hysteria over Trump's threat, then stand-down over Iran's shoot-down of an un-manned drone. The public was, as usual, confined to a narrow frame of reference and range of responses: "Trump was a coward," vs. "Trump was wise." Congressmen who were interviewed emphasized that "no American was killed." ..."
"... No one mentioned that Lyndon Johnson called back flights sent to rescue crewmen on the USS Liberty when Israel attacked the ship, strafed the wounded and those in life boats. ..."
"... Everyone remembers the shootdown of Iranian Air flight 655 on July 3, 1988 by the guided missile cruiser Vincennes, under the command of the late Captain Will Rogers, in which 290 people were killed. President Reagan said America will never apologize. President Clinton ultimately paid the Iranians $130 million. ..."
"... Tucker Carlson seems like the only realist in the MSM. https://youtu.be/Rf2cS4g0pes ..."
"... It is no secret that the Neocons and the Israeli zionists (I am repeating myself here) do want a war between Iran and the United States. First, there were a few tanker attacks which were brushed off by Trump. Then this, which was more difficult to brush off. Is it possible that the drone actually went to Iranian airspace but GPS coordinates were spoofed (by insiders on the American side) so that Trump (and the administration) believed that it stayed in international airspace? ..."
"... Sorry. Here's the ink to Tucker on the Iran war brink. https://youtu.be/3PQW2tMMn2A ..."
"... Why did Donald Trump hire neocons Bolton & Pompeo as well as torturer Gina Haspel? Couldn't he find people who shared his views (at least what he said during the last campaign) that our ME regime change wars were a disaster that we shouldn't repeat? ..."
"... As Tucker noted in his segment yesterday Bolton & the neocons have been plotting a war with Iran for some time. They don't care if it sinks Trump's presidency. They have no loyalty to him only condescension. ..."
"... Yet as Tucker notes in his segment yesterday the neocons are "bureaucratic tapeworms" that some how manage to survive failure after failure with the same regime change prescriptions. Trump better wise up like right now or he can kiss his re-election goodbye. ..."
Jun 22, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

David Solomon , 21 June 2019 at 12:54 PM

Colonel Lang,

I am not now nor have I ever been a fan of Trump. However, if he does not start a war, he will end (in my mind, at least) as a vast improvement over his immediate predecessors.

Robert C said in reply to David Solomon... , 21 June 2019 at 08:56 PM
Wait a minute. Obama blew it with Libya. However,
-he reached a good deal with Iran
-he didn't bomb Syria when the crossed his "red line" and managed to make it look like the R controlled Senate made the decision .
-He didn't kiss Bibi's ring.
ted richard said in reply to David Solomon... , 21 June 2019 at 09:38 PM
look at a decent map of this area. the us naval base in Bahrain and air base Qatar are an Iranian missiles equivalent of firing from lower Manhattan to hit something in Hoboken.

The USA military assets within the Persian gulf have if war breaks out checked into the hotel California.

It is a logistical nightmare for the Pentagon to protect and resupply in the event of serious hostilities. Trump surely has been told by real us military professionals the giant hairball he takes on if he gets into a war with Iran and what it means for us servicemen station there and throughout the larger middle east.

it is unfortunate that the usa media uses fools like bolton and pompeo as clickbait to generate revenue fore their business at the expense of whats best for the nation but there it is... the msm has an agenda which is not at all in the service of the nation.

Harper , 21 June 2019 at 01:28 PM
Yes, a grown up has the right to change a decision. Now, ball is in Khomeini court. Abe asked him to release some Iranian-American prisoners. If Khomeini wants to lower threshold of conflict, he can do this gesture without losing any face. Humanitarian action.

Russia, China and the Europeans all want Iran to remain in JCPOA and Putin is worried about Iran acting irrationally.

See what kind of other pressure comes down on Iranians. Asians all worried about the security of oil flows to Asia. Japan especially dependent on Middle East oil flows, even if they've moved out of Iranian purchases. US more able to go it alone with extensive domestic and other sources.

blue peacock , 21 June 2019 at 01:36 PM
Col. Lang,

Khamenei should call Trump and setup a media spectacle of a summit in Switzerland. They can agree on the same deal as before but as long as the headline says "Iran agrees to not build nukes", Trump will be happy and Khamenei will be his new best pal.

The same playbook as KJU where nothing tangible is likely to happen except that KJU has stopped nuke & missile tests that create media hysteria among the Never Trumpers.

IMO, the ball hasn't left Trump's court. How long is he going to tolerate the neocons in his inner circle who are likely to keep coming up with another casus belli? Can he find some distance from being Bibi's lapdog? How long is he going to allow his conflicted son-in-law to meddle in the Middle East?

Trump must calculate the potential of where escalation leads and what a full on war with Iran and its allies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon means for his re-election campaign. Bernie is banging the table hard against any military action in Iran. The probability that 50,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania & Wisconsin changes sides the next election would be rather high in the event of an unpredictable full-scale war.

Christian J Chuba , 21 June 2019 at 01:56 PM
I hope Khamenei takes any offer Trump makes for direct talks. Trump is heavily influenced by the last person he meets.

I get that Khamenei doesn't want to meet on the premise that the JCPOA is flawed and must be changed but if he can get an audience on the basis of airing mutual grievances in an unfiltered environment, it would be an opportunity. Currently, the only people Trump talks to are Neocon loons. They are innumerable but the FDD seems to be the center of gravity.

I must say that Clifford May does sport quite the impressive beard, who wouldn't think that he's an expert on anything he talks about http://www.vipfaq.com/nested/c/l/Clifford_May-1.jpg

robt willmann , 21 June 2019 at 02:04 PM
In an interview with NBC News and Chuck Todd, Trump reiterates his position about a response being proportionate--

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/trump-says-he-did-not-given-final-approval-iran-strikes-n1020386

Widowson , 21 June 2019 at 02:41 PM
I was shocked-- but not surprised-- to see visibly-pained CBS Pentagon flack David Martin on the boob tube this morning quoting an unnamed source that speculated that the reason Trump cancelled the bombing of Iran was that he got "cold-feet." Thank you, Vasili Arkhipov, for getting cold-feet, too! Madness, our nation is afflicted with madness.
b , 21 June 2019 at 02:47 PM
The IRGC knuckle dragger in charge at Hormuz will get a medal or two, and a promotion. The U.S. is waging a total economic war on Iran. It cuts off all its exports and imports. Iran is fighting back by all means. It has no other choice. Iran now implements a "strategy of tension" that is designed to put "maximum pressure" on Trump. The tanker attacks, the mortars on U.S. troops in Iraq, the Houthi strikes an Saudi desalination plants and the shoot down of that drone are all part of that Iranian strategy.

High Iranian officials, including its president, have multiple times announced: "If we can sell no sell oil than none of our neighbors in the gulf will be able to sell their oil." They mean that and they have the plans and means to achieve that.

These strikes will continue, and will become stronger. I most cases Iran will have plausible deniability. That is easy to create when CentCom and the White House are know to lie left and right as they do.

Trump has two choices.

He can pull back on the sanctions and other U.S. violations of JCPOA, or he can start a full war against Iran that will drown his presidency, put the world economy into a depression ($300/bl oil) and kill many U.S. soldiers.

It is Trump, not Iran, who killed JCPOA. It is Trump, not Iran, who will be blamed for that war.

frankie p said in reply to b ... , 21 June 2019 at 07:05 PM

Exactly! There's one striking characteristic of the "resistance" leaders, including Khamenei, Syrian President Assad, and Hezbollah's Nasrallah, and that is that they are reliable: they do what they say they are going to do. They have integrity, that quality so clearly absent from all US and Western European leaders, all beholden to their Ziodonors to assure reelection.

The Iranians will NOT contact Trump to arrange a meeting. The Iranians will NOT meet with Trump because the JCPOA is flawed. The Iranians will NOT meet with Trump after a brief suspension in sanctions to ask for permanent sanctions relief. The Iranians WILL meet with Trump when he lifts most or all of the sanctions in good faith and rejoins the JCPOA. Is it just a coincidence that the two ships attacked last week were carrying petrochemicals, just days after Trump and the US placed sanctions on the largest Iranian petrochemical producer? What is it about "If we cannot ship oil/petrochemicals, nobody can." that people don't understand?

Additionally, any standoff missile attack or "March of the B52s" will be met with immediate regional attacks on US (Saudi and Israeli) assets, military personnel and civilians that will destabilize the entire region and destroy the global economy. Not the best scenario for a reelection bid, is it? I'm with b. There is no knuckle dragger at Hormuz, only competent officers carrying out their orders.

Frankie P

Barbara Ann said in reply to b ... , 21 June 2019 at 07:46 PM
b

How blame is apportioned will matter little to Iran if it miscalculates one iota. Yes it cannot sit idle until it is strangled by economic sanctions. But neither can it escalate beyond the destruction of civil and military hardware alone. One dead American is all the neocons need. A counter strike would then be inevitable and the uncontrollable escalation they are counting on the likely result.

Col. Lang has described here the catastrophic consequences for America's enemies when they have doubted its resolve. And the sure route to galvanizing that resolve is for Iran to escalate into targeting US forces.

The only way this ends without a war which would be catastrophic for both sides is if Trump realizes the reality of the situation he is in and ditches the neocons right now. Iran has got its message across and must now desist to allow Trump breathing room to de-escalate. Let us pray that Suleimani and the Iranian leadership are men enough to understand that holding the moral high ground confers no advantage in warfare.

Fred -> b ... , 22 June 2019 at 11:06 AM
b,

Only two choices? That doesn't sound very realistic in the terms of actual options. How about leaving the sanctions in place? What prevents that?

Eric Newhill , 21 June 2019 at 03:32 PM
Publicly, much chest thumping over how Iran has the cowardly Great Satan on the run like a beaten dog. Privately, phone calls to China and Russia begging for assurances of support and attempted offers of negotiations with Trump complete with wildly unrealistic demands.
eakens said in reply to Eric Newhill... , 21 June 2019 at 06:57 PM
This is delusional thinking. The Iranians realized a long time ago not to rely on other countries for assistance. Every Iranian knows not to trust Russians from history. China might be the only hope, not for support, but to convince that this war is as much about them.
LondonBob said in reply to Jack... , 22 June 2019 at 04:19 AM
The Chinese should close Adelson's Macau casinos for health and safety violations. Zionist donors for Trump's election campaign are driving this. Adelson's boy Bolton needs removing before anything positive can happen, Tucker Carlson needs some help with his campaign to oust him.
turcopolier , 21 June 2019 at 05:44 PM
b

Your usual deeply bigoted anti-Americanism.

frankie p said in reply to turcopolier ... , 21 June 2019 at 07:23 PM
Could you explain how the concept that economic sanctions are a belligerent act of war is anti-American? This is a historical concept that you, as a teacher and student of military history, are well aware of. The Iranians are using the means that they have available to respond to these acts of war.

They are not equipped to confront the US military directly, so they are using tactics to place pressure on the US in other areas, primarily by threatening the global economy by plausibly deniable acts against shipping in the Persian Gulf. This is a masterstroke right out of the pages of Sun Tze's Art of War.

Trump has painted himself into a corner. He can offer sanctions relief if he wants to negotiate, or he can attack, and we can hope that the US military learned some of the lessons taught by Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper in the Millennium Challenge 2002.

Artemesia said in reply to turcopolier ... , 21 June 2019 at 07:28 PM
At the risk of ---
I think b is on to something.

The neocons are playing out provocations until Congress is forced to vote on War just before election. The provocations will continue -- Israel's Rational Institute & expert game theorists have done this so many times they're just going through the motions. Iranians have watched that game play out before and, perhaps, know how to handle provocations in a disruptive manner.

Did you listen to Foreign Affairs subcommittee questioning State Department undersecretary Brian Hook? https://www.c-span.org/video/?461811-1/house-foreign-affairs-subcommittee-hearing-iran-policy

Hook repeated, emphasized & repeated again that "finance is the basis of war," and US / Trump strategy is to "not to bankrupt Iran," but to "deny Iran access to financial ability to fund Hezbollah, Hamas, and other of the #1 state sponsor of terror's proxies."

The congressmen questioning Hook nodded sagely. None of them so much as hinted at the fact that the USA is so deep in debt it can never pay its way out. Nor was any congressman sage enough, or moral enough, or consistent enough, to question:

-- International policy pundits & think tankers opine that the greatest guarantee of peace is economic stability. US is deliberately seeking to destabilize Iran economically. To what end?

--One of the expectations of the JCPOA was that with sanctions lifted, Iran would enter into the mainstream economy, trading with states throughout the world. This normalization of commerce would constrain Iran from taking actions that would jeopardize its trade relationships. Why does Trump & the zioncons not wish Iran's commercial normalization to take place? Is it because Israel cannot stand the competition?

-- by what right USA violates UN Charter demands that internal affairs of a member state must not be interfered with. Congressmen crowned themselves with laurel as they proclaimed that "the people of Iran are not our enemy; it is the government; we act on behalf of the Iranian people, especially Iranian women."

When I visited Iran in 2008, "Iranian women" spoke with us and asked if we could please provide several days' warning before bombing Iran so that they could shelter their children. Iranian women are some of the toughest you'll meet.

-- what casus belli legitimizes aggression against Iran? Does the USA no longer subscribe to Just War theory? Several years ago I heard Notre Dame's Mary Ellen O'Connell discuss Just War theory with respect to Iran -- https://elibrary.law.psu.edu/jlia/vol2/iss2/6/. US claims to uphold "universal values" ring hollow if such basic steps in framing policy are ignored.

b -> turcopolier ... , 22 June 2019 at 12:10 AM
I deal in facts, not in 'deeply bigoted anti-Americanism'. Interesting that you do not want to recognize those facts. They are right before your eyes. Just I give it a day or two until the next 'incident' happens.

Trump thinks that he can f*** Iran and sit it out? Not gonna happen.

turcopolier -> b ... , 22 June 2019 at 09:39 AM
All

The question has been raised of my denigration of b. He has a long history on SST He is an excellent military analyst but the long and so far as I can remember unbroken record of interpreting EVERY situation as demonstrating the demonic nature of the US causes me to discount anything he writes on other than military subjects narrowly defined. IMO b's hostility to the US is a permanent burden that he carries.

Eric Newhill said in reply to turcopolier ... , 22 June 2019 at 10:54 AM
Sir,

Also, B's minions, who follow him around, have absorbed his anti-US attitude so completely it's like a religion to them.

Charlie Wilson -> turcopolier ... , 22 June 2019 at 01:40 AM
b is a hater, colonel. And his English sucks too!

Charlie

Eugene Owens said in reply to turcopolier ... , 22 June 2019 at 01:56 AM
Agree regarding b's anti America stance. Yet b's prediction that the guy in charge at Hormuz will get a medal and promotion is correct IMO.

Ditto for his prediction that Iranian attacks will continue with some measure of deniability.

VietnamVet , 21 June 2019 at 07:13 PM
Colonel,

The NYT report that Donald Trump ordered the attack and then pulled back is in Jimmy Carter's "been there done that" territory. Although a New Yorker and he never had to sit in a gasoline line, Donald Trump, personally and legally, cannot be a one term President. He is a political savant.

He gets that he cannot be an LBJ or a Harry Truman with the Albatross of an unwinnable war hung around his neck.

My assumption is that someone in the chain of command after the surveillance drone was shot down triggered a preplanned strike package that was stopped once it got to the President for approval. Once again global media moguls strike back at the nationalist President with Fake News.

But, I am afraid the chosen true believers on his staff do not believe nor care that Iran has prepared a massive disproportionate non-nuclear response that will destroy the global economy.

John Bolton and Mike Pompeo have other agendas than the President's re-election and what is in the USA's national interests. We are not out of the woods.

ex-PFC Chuck , 21 June 2019 at 07:14 PM
Do we know for sure Trump is the one who initially ordered the strike? Or did someone down the line interpret the rules of engagement (do I presume correctly that some such would be in place at the present time?) to allow him or her to order it?
turcopolier -> ex-PFC Chuck... , 22 June 2019 at 09:35 AM
All

In a situation of this degree of geo-political gravity, nobody in the chain of command below the CinC would have had the authority or temerity to attempt to order this strike package.

Neither Pompeo nor Bolton is in the chain of command and attempts by them to order such attacks would have been rejected by the military. BTW if Trump aborted the strikes only 10 minutes out from the targets he was cutting it too close. Communications can always fail.

The Twisted Genius , 21 June 2019 at 07:31 PM
The IRGC knuckle dragger at Hormuz wisely and prudently targeted the unmanned drone and not the manned P8 aircraft. Since it was the Iranians who recovered the wreckage, it will be hard for the US to maintain the drone was well outside Iranian airspace.

No, this action was appropriate in the face of our policy of maximum pressure to starve out the Iranian people and force a regime change.

I applaud Trump's decision not to engage in a shooting war. The way he got to that decision was messy, but the final decision was right. Those calling him weak for not engaging in a war of choice are craven fools. Chief among those is Bolton.

Trump should throw his ass and his mustache out of the WH before the sun goes down. Trump brought this situation upon himself with his pulling out of the JCPOA and initiating his "war" of maximum pressure. It is he who can deflate this crisis, not Kamenei.

eakens said in reply to The Twisted Genius ... , 22 June 2019 at 12:02 PM
This is all one big PsyOp imo. The US has no popular support for an attack on Iran, internally or externally. We are going to attack, but want to make it seem like they showed restraint and have been left with no choice.

I don't foresee the Iranians talking to Trump unless and until the US walks back its sanctions, or Trump himself goes and sits down with the Ayatollah.

And this nonsense about Iran allowing the US to make some window dressing attack on innocuous targets to save face/ All I can say is Iranians are not Arabs.

Artemesia , 21 June 2019 at 07:32 PM
PS -- C Span ramped up an orgy of war hysteria over Trump's threat, then stand-down over Iran's shoot-down of an un-manned drone. The public was, as usual, confined to a narrow frame of reference and range of responses: "Trump was a coward," vs. "Trump was wise." Congressmen who were interviewed emphasized that "no American was killed."

No one mentioned that Lyndon Johnson called back flights sent to rescue crewmen on the USS Liberty when Israel attacked the ship, strafed the wounded and those in life boats.

SAC Brat said in reply to Harlan Easley ... , 22 June 2019 at 01:13 PM
This seems like Professional Wrestling theater where you have the wrestlers hamming it up for the drama and you wonder what the script is. We only get to see what the camera frames.
NarcoRepublican , 21 June 2019 at 09:17 PM
I am thankful that our military acknowledges that our President is the Commander-in-Chief. He commanded, they obeyed. As for all the pundits on all sides, their lack of perspective or even understanding of history leaves me terrified. There seems to be no understanding of how Iran is capable of retaliation. An example:

Everyone remembers the shootdown of Iranian Air flight 655 on July 3, 1988 by the guided missile cruiser Vincennes, under the command of the late Captain Will Rogers, in which 290 people were killed. President Reagan said America will never apologize. President Clinton ultimately paid the Iranians $130 million.

Few remember what happened next -- some 8 months later, in March, 1989, Capt. Roger's spouse Sharon, was in her van stopped at a traffic light in San Diego. A pipe bomb went off under the back of the van. It was small -- she was unhurt, fortunately, but definitely shaken up, and the van did catch fire. Despite an intensive investigation, the FBI has never solved this case.

Never let us become so blind and arrogant in our strength that we are unable to conceive retaliation by those weaker.

blue peacock , 22 June 2019 at 01:47 AM
Tucker Carlson seems like the only realist in the MSM. https://youtu.be/Rf2cS4g0pes
ancientarcher , 22 June 2019 at 02:07 AM
Has anyone considered the possibility that the drone was sent there to be shot down by the Iranians?

It is no secret that the Neocons and the Israeli zionists (I am repeating myself here) do want a war between Iran and the United States. First, there were a few tanker attacks which were brushed off by Trump. Then this, which was more difficult to brush off. Is it possible that the drone actually went to Iranian airspace but GPS coordinates were spoofed (by insiders on the American side) so that Trump (and the administration) believed that it stayed in international airspace?

The Americans do seem to really believe that the drone was in international airspace and no one can make a point that it is to Iran's benefit to target an American asset in international airspace, especially now when tensions are so high. Iran has the most to lose in the event of a war with the Americans (no points for guessing which country has the most to win - Israel). And it is a coincidence that the guy heading the Iran mission Centre, Michael D'Andrea, was previously the head of drone operations. Or is it a coincidence?

What would I do if I were a neocon who wants war between the US and Iran, a war that Trump doesn't. For the start of hostilities, it is essential that both sides, US and Iran, feel that they are in the right - which of course this situation is. I would create a context, an excuse/rationale for the start of actual hostilities to the US administration (and of course for the consumption of the American public). Then I will make the case to Trump that we should have a 'limited' retaliation. I know that the Iranians will strike back after the 'small scale' bombing. And the Americans have to retaliate to that also. What chances are there that any retaliation by the Americans will not end up in total war with Iran??

Trump doesn't want war and probably saw through the machinations to get him to agree to a 'small' bombing campaign as retaliation that would surely lead to a larger conflagration and total war with Iran that the neocons want so much. This particular provocation was unsuccessful in its aim. However, I think that provocations by the neocons will continue and at an ever increasing pitch - enabled by the neocons within the administration and the Israelis. Trump doesn't want war but his administration filled with neocons does and they will find a way maneuver Trump into it. Israel will fight Iran till the last standing American in the Middle East.

blue peacock , 22 June 2019 at 02:15 AM
Sorry. Here's the ink to Tucker on the Iran war brink. https://youtu.be/3PQW2tMMn2A
blue peacock , 22 June 2019 at 01:17 PM
Why did Donald Trump hire neocons Bolton & Pompeo as well as torturer Gina Haspel? Couldn't he find people who shared his views (at least what he said during the last campaign) that our ME regime change wars were a disaster that we shouldn't repeat?

As Tucker noted in his segment yesterday Bolton & the neocons have been plotting a war with Iran for some time. They don't care if it sinks Trump's presidency. They have no loyalty to him only condescension.

Hopefully Trump learns from this near miss of a catastrophe for his presidency. But he has seemed weak and indecisive on these matters all along. He never fought back for example with all the tools at his disposal against the attempted coup by law enforcement & the intelligence agencies.

All he did was constantly tweet witch hunt. He's once again delegated it to Barr after Sessions sat on it.

He allowed Pompeo & Bolton to bring on fellow neocon Elliott Abrams who previously screwed up in Nicaragua to attempt another regime change in Venezuela, which has been another botched example of how everything that the neocons touch turns to shit.

Yet as Tucker notes in his segment yesterday the neocons are "bureaucratic tapeworms" that some how manage to survive failure after failure with the same regime change prescriptions. Trump better wise up like right now or he can kiss his re-election goodbye.

[Jun 22, 2019] Putin about the economic war being waged against Russia after the Ukraine Coup in 2014.

Notable quotes:
"... "Let's go back to economic issues. Many people link these difficulties with the Western sanctions. By the way, the European Union again extended them today. Sometimes, there are appeals to make peace with everyone. If Russia complied with the West's demands and agreed to everything, would this benefit our economy in any way?" ..."
"... "Second, what would this give us and what would it not give us, and what would we lose? Look, according to expert analyses, Russia fell short by about $50 billion as a result of these restrictions during these years, starting in 2014. The European Union lost $240 billion, the US $17 billion (we have a small volume of trade with them) and Japan $27 billion. All this affects employment in these countries, including the EU: they are losing our market... ..."
"... "Now, the attack on Huawei: where does it come from and what is its objective? The objective is to hold back the development of China, the country that has become a global rival of another power, the United States. The same is happening with Russia, and will continue to happen , so if we want to occupy a worthy place under the sun, we must become stronger, including, and above all, in the economy." [My Emphasis] ..."
"... Dealing with Putin's bolded remark is a question not just for Russia, China and Iran; it's a question for the entire world and harkens back to the words of George Kennan I cited a few days ago about the USA needing a policy to continue its economic dominance of the planet he uttered in 1947, the policy that became The Anti-Communist Crusade covering for its actual Super Imperialism policy to retain that dominance. ..."
"... What's happening is a titanic struggle to make the Outlaw US Empire cease pursuing that policy. ..."
Jun 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jun 21, 2019 6:34:03 PM | 189

I'd like barflies to ponder the following thought/probability: Radar Saturated Environment--radiation not from just individual, discreet, identifiable points, but from such a vast multitude that no single point can be discerned.

To further my brainstorming de-escalation, I'd like to point out what Putin said in his Direct Line yesterday about the economic war being waged against Russia in accordance with the Ukraine Coup in 2014. Pavel Zarubin asks:

"Let's go back to economic issues. Many people link these difficulties with the Western sanctions. By the way, the European Union again extended them today. Sometimes, there are appeals to make peace with everyone. If Russia complied with the West's demands and agreed to everything, would this benefit our economy in any way?"

I thought this a capital question very similar to Iran's dilemma. Putin's response is quite long, so I won't cite it all. Rather, I'll limit it to his initial reply and conclusion as they both deal with the Big Picture:

"First, what does it mean 'to make peace'? We have not fought with anyone and have no desire to fight with anyone.

"Second, what would this give us and what would it not give us, and what would we lose? Look, according to expert analyses, Russia fell short by about $50 billion as a result of these restrictions during these years, starting in 2014. The European Union lost $240 billion, the US $17 billion (we have a small volume of trade with them) and Japan $27 billion. All this affects employment in these countries, including the EU: they are losing our market....

"Now to the question of whether some things would be different if we give in and abandon our fundamental national interests. We are not talking about reconciliation here. Perhaps there will be some external signals, but no drastic change. Look, the People's Republic of China has nothing to do with Crimea and Donbass, does it? We are accused of occupying Donbass, which is nonsense and a lie.

But China has nothing to do with it, and yet the tariffs for Chinese goods are rising, which is almost the same as sanctions.

"Now, the attack on Huawei: where does it come from and what is its objective? The objective is to hold back the development of China, the country that has become a global rival of another power, the United States. The same is happening with Russia, and will continue to happen , so if we want to occupy a worthy place under the sun, we must become stronger, including, and above all, in the economy." [My Emphasis]

This year's Direct Line was as usual filled with domestic issues some that lead to foreign policy issues. The overall scope and distinctness of the minutia are as vast as Russia. I've followed these over the years and note they reveal Russia's strengths and fragilities. I'm tempted to cite more but will leave it to the reader to pursue, but after 90 minutes you still won't be finished because the transcript isn't yet complete, which while frustrating is also amazing.

Dealing with Putin's bolded remark is a question not just for Russia, China and Iran; it's a question for the entire world and harkens back to the words of George Kennan I cited a few days ago about the USA needing a policy to continue its economic dominance of the planet he uttered in 1947, the policy that became The Anti-Communist Crusade covering for its actual Super Imperialism policy to retain that dominance.

What's happening is a titanic struggle to make the Outlaw US Empire cease pursuing that policy.

[Jun 22, 2019] US Empire faces a growing international coalition against its actions, which results from sentiments made at the rather many recent international conferences that have already occurred in June that will be topped by G-20 in 8 days.

Notable quotes:
"... That admission along with the stark mostly unreported economic realities of any armed conflict in the Gulf region is what restrains the war mongers. The Money Power and the Current Oligarchy won't allow war is what I see. And that makes this Friday morning pleasant despite the fog. ..."
"... The risks are just too great (for what the US public is prepared to accept). And we've just seen it happen again. They might be able to screw themselves up to go through with it, and accept the losses and stalemate that will come, but it will do no good at all for Trump's re-election chances. ..."
"... Netanyahu has reiterated his desire for war with Iran -- a war that the US will fight–and is meeting with his Arab allies to help bring it about. As Ha'aretz described Netanyahu's Iran dilemma last month, the goal is to get Trump to go to war without putting Israel on the front line. ..."
"... Listen to this horse manure coming from Brain Hook, "special" representative for Iran: "According to him, Washington was doing everything possible to defuse tensions with Iran and return the containment system in the region. ..."
"... The Zionists are smack dab in the middle of the front line with a massive crosshairs imprinted on their entirety. Occupied Palestine sits at Ground Zero, and it seems that the Zionists are finally waking up to the ultimate betrayal they'll experience at the hands of The Christian Rapturists -- they are to be Genocided in the pursuit of attempting to make a myth come to life. ..."
"... Watch the brilliant George Galloway on the consequences of war with Iran. Bottom line: only hardline Likudniks and FDD Likud USA types would approve such a disastrous move. ..."
"... If America attacks and destroys Iran after doing the same to Iraq, Palestine, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, the Islamic religion should semi-officially adopt anti-Americanism until the Empire falls, and it would be totally deserved. If we all go in, let us get a good thrashing. ..."
"... It is true that Trump needs to fire acting President Bolton. Bolton who was appointed to the NSA by Sheldon Adelson, the Israeli/American oligarch, will not allow Trump to fire Bolton; otherwise, he loses millions of $$$$. The pressure is also from Adelson and his neocon ilk. ..."
"... Iran is a big country, and won't be defeated unless the people are ready to abandon the regime. They aren't as far as I can detect. The exiles, and the middle class in Iran, hate the regime. I've just had a lot of that poured into my ears, during my visit to Iran a month ago. The popular feeling though doesn't seem to have abandoned the regime. I think we can expect a nationalist resistance, if indeed Trump does attack Iran. ..."
"... China has been complying with US sanctions on Iran, for example this article notes that China stopped buying oil from Iran . US direct trade with Iran isn't so much as issue as the US stopping Europe and China from trading with Iran. ..."
Jun 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jun 21, 2019 12:01:59 PM | 86

The most important Item I've read so far this morning is this report on the Ufa, Russia Security Conference that was attended by both Iranian and Outlaw US Empire officials. The entire article requires reading, but this is the most relevant excerpt that has some links in the original I won't duplicate:

"Given current global events, the most significant attendees in Ufa are a senior US National Security Council member and the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Shamkhani.

As of now, the only official news comes from Ali Shamkhani's words concerning the possibility of mediation with the US and the possibility of Iran acquiring weapons systems to fend off US threats. Shamkhani stated:

"'We currently face demonstrative threats. Nevertheless, when it comes to air defense of our country, we consider using the foreign potential in addition to our domestic capacities Mediation is out of question in the current situation. The United States has unilaterally withdrawn from the JCPOA, it has flouted its obligations and it has introduced illegal sanctions against Iran. The United States should return to the starting point and correct its own mistakes. This process needs no mediation.'

"'This [gradually boosting of uranium enrichment and heavy water production beyond the levels outlined in the JCPOA] is a serious decision of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] and we will continue doing it step by step until JCPOA violators move toward agreement and return to fulfilling their obligations. [If JCPOA participants do not comply with the deal, Iran will be reducing its commitments] step by step within legal mechanisms that the JCPOA envisions.'"

It was noted by b that the Outlaw US Empire faces a growing international coalition against its actions, which results from sentiments made at the rather many recent international conferences that have already occurred in June that will be topped by G-20 in 8 days.

That admission along with the stark mostly unreported economic realities of any armed conflict in the Gulf region is what restrains the war mongers. The Money Power and the Current Oligarchy won't allow war is what I see. And that makes this Friday morning pleasant despite the fog.

Laguerre , Jun 21, 2019 12:05:23 PM | 88

Posted by: Anon | Jun 21, 2019 8:04:55 AM | 29 (boring that it's yet another Anon, who can't be bothered to distinguish himself all from the other thousands of Anons)
the stage is now maximum restraint and effort at co-operation, which Iran will be expected to respect. That means one more act against US (or false flag by US) and strikes will occur. Not comparable to hostage crisis, here US is projecting being reasonable, even if you read that as being weak.
It's not me who reading the US as weak. It will be the attitude of the Iranians, who haven't forgotten the US failure in 1980 (April 24, 1980), as opposed to the US public for whom it is so many crises ago that they've forgotten. And the Iranians are right.

Trump hesitated, as every previous attempt to launch a strike on Iran has finished finally in a stand-down.

The risks are just too great (for what the US public is prepared to accept). And we've just seen it happen again. They might be able to screw themselves up to go through with it, and accept the losses and stalemate that will come, but it will do no good at all for Trump's re-election chances.

Mikael Kallavuo , Jun 21, 2019 12:19:06 PM | 91 jsb , Jun 21, 2019 12:20:15 PM | 92
Well it looks like Elijah Magnier has finally written the piece he was hinting at releasing yesterday. Here it is:
Iran is pushing US President Donald Trump to the edge of the abyss, raising the level of tensions to new heights in the Middle East. After the sabotage of four tankers at al-Fujairah and the attack on the Aramco pipeline a month ago, and last week's attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC – now categorized by the USA as a terrorist body) yesterday shot down a US Navy drone, sending two clear messages. The first message is that Iran is ready for an all-out war, no matter what the consequences. The second message is that Iran is aware that the US President has cornered himself; the embarrassing attack came a week after Trump launched his electoral campaign.

According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence – made via a third party – that Trump be allowed to bomb one, two or three clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face. Iran categorically rejected the offer and sent its reply: even an attack against an empty sandy beach in Iran would trigger a missile launch against US objectives in the Gulf.

...

Moreover, Iran has established a joint operations room to inform all its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan of every step it is adopting in confronting the US in case of all-out war in the Middle East. Iran's allies have increased their level of readiness and alert to the highest level; they will participate in the war from the moment it begins if necessary. According to sources, Iran's allies will not hesitate to open fire against an already agreed on bank of objectives in a perfectly organised, orchestrated, synchronised and graduated response, anticipating a war that may last many months.

Sources confirmed that, in case of war, Iran aims to stop the flow of oil from the Middle East completely, not by targeting tankers but by hitting the sources of oil in every single Middle Eastern country, whether these countries are considered allies or enemies. The objective will be to cease all oil exports from the Middle East to the rest of the world.

...

Iran's economy is under attack by Trump's embargo on Iranian oil exports. Trump refuses to lift the embargo and wants to negotiate first. Trump, unlike Israel and the hawks in his administration, is trying to avoid a shooting war. Netanyahu has reiterated his desire for war with Iran -- a war that the US will fight–and is meeting with his Arab allies to help bring it about. As Ha'aretz described Netanyahu's Iran dilemma last month, the goal is to get Trump to go to war without putting Israel on the front line.

b , Jun 21, 2019 1:23:18 PM | 107
Trump just confirmed my hunch that there was no final decision to strike.
Meet the Press @MeetThePress - 16:50 UTC - 21 Jun 2019

EXCLUSIVE: In an exclusive interview with Chuck Todd, President Donald Trump says he hadn't given final approval to Iran strikes, no planes were in the air.

Also Elijah Magnier's piece is out:

Iran and Trump on the edge of the abyss

The first message is that Iran is ready for an all-out war, no matter what the consequences. The second message is that Iran is aware that the US President has cornered himself; the embarrassing attack came a week after Trump launched his electoral campaign. According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence – made via a third party – that Trump be allowed to bomb one or two clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face. Iran categorically rejected the offer and sent its reply: even an attack against an empty sandy beach in Iran would trigger a missile launch against US objectives in the Gulf.
...
Iran has established a joint operations room to inform all its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan of every step it is adopting in confronting the US in case of all-out war in the Middle East. Iran's allies have increased their level of readiness and alert to the highest level; they will participate in the war from the moment it begins if necessary. According to sources, Iran's allies will not hesitate to open fire against an already agreed on bank of objectives in a perfectly organised, orchestrated, synchronised and graduated response, anticipating a war that may last many months.
...
Sources confirmed that, in case of war, Iran aims to stop the flow of oil from the Middle East completely, not by targeting tankers but by hitting the sources of oil in every single Middle Eastern country, whether these countries are considered allies or enemies. The objective will be to cease all oil exports from the Middle East to the rest of the world.

The NYT reports that the CentCom claim that the drone was in international airspace is in doubt: Trump Stopped Strike on Iran Because It Was 'Not Proportionate'

Still, there remained doubt inside the United States government over whether the drone, or another American surveillance aircraft, this one flown by a military aircrew, did violate Iranian airspace at some point, according to a senior administration official.
..
The delay by United States Central Command in publicly releasing GPS coordinates of the drone when it was shot down -- hours after Iran did -- and errors in the labeling of the drone's flight path when the imagery was released, contributed to that doubt, officials said.

A lack of provable "hard evidence" about the location of the drone when it was hit, a defense official said, put the administration in an isolated position at what could easily end up being the start of yet another war with a Middle East adversary -- this one with a proven ability to strike back.

Laguerre , Jun 21, 2019 1:29:48 PM | 109
b, how can you believe any of Trump's versions? I can't see that one is more trustworthy than another
Uncle Jon , Jun 21, 2019 2:53:41 PM | 131
Listen to this horse manure coming from Brain Hook, "special" representative for Iran: "According to him, Washington was doing everything possible to defuse tensions with Iran and return the containment system in the region.

However, Hook blamed Tehran for rising tension in the region because of the refusal of any diplomatic initiatives.

"Our diplomacy does not give Iran the right to respond with military force. Iran needs to meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not military force," the envoy added."

Diplomacy needs to be met with diplomacy......Really???

Iran should impose sanctions on all of SA, UAE and US oil exports. How's that for diplomacy Mr. Hook? In case you missed it that is exactly what they are doing. Meeting your brand of diplomacy head on.

We are living in the realm of absurd. How is it that we have left the welfare of our kids, families and the future of our country in the hands of these incompetent morons?

And why is the rest of the world sitting with their popcorn watching this horror show?

karlof1 , Jun 21, 2019 2:58:26 PM | 132
h @124--

After reading the wiki item on P-8s having a normal crew of 7, I got to thinking about the 35 number either being a botched translation or how many bodies were noted via thermal imaging radar, something I doubt Iran was thought to possess. As I wrote, Iran can see everything to its West, which is a very BigDeal.

I digested Magnier's latest. The following is an extremely important point:

"Ha'aretz described Netanyahu's Iran dilemma last month, the goal is to get Trump to go to war without putting Israel on the front line ."

Except that is an impossibility. The Zionists are smack dab in the middle of the front line with a massive crosshairs imprinted on their entirety. Occupied Palestine sits at Ground Zero, and it seems that the Zionists are finally waking up to the ultimate betrayal they'll experience at the hands of The Christian Rapturists -- they are to be Genocided in the pursuit of attempting to make a myth come to life.

Every writer, Magnier, b, Escobar, and most all barflies, etc, are saying the decision lies with Trump. As I've written before and again above, I disagree. The decision to go to war with Iran rests with the Current Oligarchy running the Outlaw US Empire. And it's my belief that such a war will not bring them A Few Dollars More and instead make their Fistful of Dollars evaporate rapidly. thanks to their great outstanding, naked, risks. For perhaps the very first time, the Current Oligarchy is exposed to the risks involved in a war it initially though it could win. Last night, it seemed to awaken to the potential consequences and blinked. The Philadelphia refinery blast may be shear coincidence or not, but it also has likely helped since its right down the street from the Current Oligarchies penthouses.

Now, it's just about the time of day when the Houthis launch their attacks.

Blooming Barricade , Jun 21, 2019 4:14:14 PM | 155
Watch the brilliant George Galloway on the consequences of war with Iran. Bottom line: only hardline Likudniks and FDD Likud USA types would approve such a disastrous move.

If America attacks and destroys Iran after doing the same to Iraq, Palestine, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, the Islamic religion should semi-officially adopt anti-Americanism until the Empire falls, and it would be totally deserved. If we all go in, let us get a good thrashing.
_____

George Galloway has warned the US and its allies in the Gulf that if they were to start "World War III" with an attack on Iran they will live to regret it because, unlike Iraq in 2003, they are capable of fighting back.

The Scottish firebrand, who famously took US lawmakers to task over the Iraq war when he testified in front of the senate in 2005, has given his take on the recent ratcheting-up of tension in the Gulf region after Iran shot down a US drone, which, it says, had entered its airspace.

Washington maintains its UAV was shot down while patrolling over international waters in an "unprovoked attack." On Friday President Donald Trump took to Twitter to claim the US were 10 minutes away from bombing three Iranian sites, before calling off the strikes.

Galloway believes that many Iranians would see it as a great "pleasure to fight the United States and its allies in the region."

In a stark warning to US allies such as Qatar, the UAE and Saudia Arabia, Galloway insisted that any country that allows "its land to be used for the launching for an American attack on Iran will itself be immediately in flames."

The former Labour MP concludes his passionate message to the world by declaring: "No more war. No more war in the Gulf. No war on Iran."

https://youtu.be/ejvTPVvj_IE

El Cid , Jun 21, 2019 4:36:44 PM | 160
It is true that Trump needs to fire acting President Bolton. Bolton who was appointed to the NSA by Sheldon Adelson, the Israeli/American oligarch, will not allow Trump to fire Bolton; otherwise, he loses millions of $$$$. The pressure is also from Adelson and his neocon ilk.
Laguerre , Jun 21, 2019 4:40:29 PM | 163
I don't think my opinion has changed. There've been several cases where they've been about to attack Iran, but then have drawn back. Spring 2018 (Israel), 2012, even the event of 1980, where they tried but failed. Trump's aborted attack is just another case.

Iran is a big country, and won't be defeated unless the people are ready to abandon the regime. They aren't as far as I can detect. The exiles, and the middle class in Iran, hate the regime. I've just had a lot of that poured into my ears, during my visit to Iran a month ago. The popular feeling though doesn't seem to have abandoned the regime. I think we can expect a nationalist resistance, if indeed Trump does attack Iran.

c1ue , Jun 21, 2019 4:54:59 PM | 165
@Oscar Peterson #151

China has been complying with US sanctions on Iran, for example this article notes that China stopped buying oil from Iran . US direct trade with Iran isn't so much as issue as the US stopping Europe and China from trading with Iran.

[Jun 22, 2019] Chuck Schumer 'The American People Deserve A President Who Can More Credibly Justify War With Iran'

Highly recommended!
Jun 20, 2019 | politics.theonion.com

In a pointed critique of President Trump's foreign policy leadership, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated to members of the press Thursday that "the American people deserve a president who can more credibly justify war with Iran."

"What the American people need is a president who can make a much more convincing case for going to war with Iran," said Schumer (D-NY), adding that the Trump administration's corruption and dishonesty have "proven time and time again" that it lacks the conviction necessary to act as an effective cheerleader for the conflict.

"Donald Trump is completely unfit to assume the mantle of telling the American people what they need to hear in order to convince them a war with Iran is a good idea.

One of the key duties of the president is to gain the trust of the people so that they feel comfortable going along with whatever he says. President Trump's failure to serve as a credible advocate for this war is yet another instance in which he has disappointed not only his colleagues in Washington, but also the entire nation."

Schumer later concluded his statement with a vow that he and his fellow Democrats will continue working toward a more palatable case in favor of bombing Iran.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

Widowson , 21 June 2019 at 02:41 PM

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

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

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

Jun 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Insufferably Insouciant , 15 hours ago link

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

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

Have they no sense of irony?

DEDA CVETKO , 16 hours ago link

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

A case of shark calling barracuda a piranha.

[Jun 22, 2019] Russia Will Help Iran With Oil, Banking If Europe's SPV Payment Channel Not Launched

Notable quotes:
"... Europe is being clobbered by the USA on multiple fronts - at little cost to the USA: 1- Russian sanctions; 2- Oil - sanctioning Iran raises oil price and risks a blowout of prices; 3- Gas - sanctioning companies working on Russian gas and pipelines ..."
"... It's about the financial derivatives Iran, the derivatives.. The Europeans, even if they desired honesty, are shackled by their financial shenanigans.. One bad move on their part, and the Potemkin contraption collapses, wiping out the western 1%. They're trapped, and unlike before, war is a lose for them and why? ..."
Jun 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

...Russia on Friday announced it was ready to help Iran export its crude and ease restrictions on its banking system if Europe fails to launch its dollar-evading SPV, Instex (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) with Tehran, according to Interfax and PressTV .

The three European signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), unveiled late in January the direct non-dollar payment mechanism meant to safeguard their trade ties with Tehran following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and in the face of the "toughest ever" sanctions imposed by the United States against the Islamic Republic. In its initial stage, INSTEX would facilitate trade of humanitarian goods such as medicine, food and medical devices, but it will later be expanded to cover other areas of trade, including Iran's oil sales.

However, it has not resulted in any trade deals so far. In late May, the US threatened Europe with " loss of access to the US financial system " if it rolled out the SWIFT-evading SPV, which appears to have crushed Europe's enthusiasm to pursue alternative financial transactions with Tehran, forcing it to conceded to Washington (again).

Earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Moussavi said European governments have failed to meet their expectations in implementing INSTEX to protect the JCPOA, criticizing their "lack of will" to deal with America's pressure against Tehran.


marcel tjoeng , 4 hours ago link

What this means is, China will have access to a lot cheaper oil than western market prices, including to the hilt subsidized, with colossal hidden losses, US shale oil. Well done Trump. The Tariffs, Americuhns are the ones paying for those as well. Imbeciles.

TigerK , 8 hours ago link

We are seeing a return to "Gun Boat Diplomacy"... Even THAT will not work.. ultimately. Brinkmanship, of this order reveals a Disturbed mind.. the US criminal elite psyche.. Or as Jidu KrishnaMurti said so aptly..The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.

The USA continues to publicize its belief.. that it is the viral of democracy.. And leader of the Free World. Hollow words.. which it will be forced to eat.. before too long. That time of confrontation.. is Not Far OFF !! This desperation is that of a deranged mind.. that is going down the tube.. breaking down.. A society in free fall..

Ms No , 10 hours ago link

This is exactly how it will always work out when psychopaths are in charge because normal society doesnt manage them.They come from all backgrounds but some genetic varieties of people seem to have YUGE problems with it. I also believe inbreeding has a role.

ExPat2018 , 11 hours ago link

Necessity is the mother of invention. The USA is helping by making people inventors

Nassim , 12 hours ago link

Europe is being clobbered by the USA on multiple fronts - at little cost to the USA: 1- Russian sanctions; 2- Oil - sanctioning Iran raises oil price and risks a blowout of prices; 3- Gas - sanctioning companies working on Russian gas and pipelines

Mat Cauthon , 13 hours ago link

Of course China will follow. Russia's SPFS is already in planning to be alongside China's CIPS for the Silk Road 2.0.

costa ludus , 13 hours ago link

It's not the actual physical oil Russia is helping Iran with, numbnuts -- it is brokering and facilitating the sale of oil without having the Jewish shysters in London and NY involved - the same reason the Chinese set up their own oil bourse.

SoDamnMad , 12 hours ago link

Costa. People don't understand the system. The Brits bad mouthed Russia over the Novichok false flag incident last winter and jumped on the sanction crap. But they gladly accepted a load of LNG from a Rotterdam energy broker to keep their asses from freezing. It was Yamal LNG from RUSSIA. Brokers take the energy (including world-wide trades) and sell it off taking a small bit from each "barrel"as their profit.

stuvian , 14 hours ago link

To succeed in establishing an alternative to SWIFT there will need to be a critical mass of nations buying in

madashellron , 15 hours ago link

I'm sure the Iranians already know this. The EU is just an extension of US power. They were never serious about allowing the free flow of trade with the Iranians. One must get rid of the EU if a real Peace plan with Iran is to take place. But this will never happen under Trump.

madashellron , 15 hours ago link

Russia to the rescue again, and again and again and again...

Brazen Heist II , 16 hours ago link

European politicians are cucks bribed to the teeth by the evil empire to toe the Zionist line. Europe is all but an emasculated world power. Pathetic. Kick US forces out and take a ******* stand against all this ******** America is stirring on Europe's doorstep. Refugees, terrorism, bad relations with Russia....all thanks to the Anglo Zionists. Europeans keep taking it. The Marshall Plan guilt-trip is working well.

John Hansen , 11 hours ago link

Lets face a fact, the US government has been occupying Europe and Japan militarily since the end of WWII. They aren't so much allies as vassals.

Ms No , 10 hours ago link

True but the Zionist banker noghtmare spread to the US from the British empire, so Europe has been perpetually screwed, thus all the world wars that took place there, etc.

Flash007 , 9 hours ago link

Psychopaths and parasites are "smart" at ******* over others, (((da juice))) are masters at it.

ILikeMeat , 10 hours ago link

Europe is not a power, it is an artificial construction with no real leadership.No military to back its decisions and a bunch of feminists and homos that make up its culturally diverse parliaments. European women act like men and the men act like women. There is no fight left in Europe..

messystateofaffairs , 16 hours ago link

China and Russia need to preserve Iran for the BRI which is the lifeline for everyone who has had a belllyfull of JewSA ********. China and Russia will facilitate Iranian trade and Iranian nuclear ICBM peacemakers will soon follow.

Cassandra.Hermes , 16 hours ago link

Trump is loosing, he scares Europeans and Turks but don't let be fooled, Americans are not allowed near Iranian border of Turkey, why do you think is that restriction?

Wahooo , 13 hours ago link

Because gold and oil are two of Turkey's main exports.

Scipio Africanuz , 16 hours ago link

It's about the financial derivatives Iran, the derivatives.. The Europeans, even if they desired honesty, are shackled by their financial shenanigans.. One bad move on their part, and the Potemkin contraption collapses, wiping out the western 1%. They're trapped, and unlike before, war is a lose for them and why?

Because the kinetic advantage is no longer with them, it's now in the East. Nevertheless, their innocent youth can still be salvaged, provided they desire salvage. No more impunity without retribution, cheers...

Thordoom , 16 hours ago link

So India stop importing Iranian oil in order to buy the same oil from Russia for much more since thy where buying that same oil from Iran at great discount. India looks to Russian crude as Iranian imports crash

https://www.rt.com/business/462396-india-russia-oil-supplies/

SoDamnMad , 12 hours ago link

Trump told Modi he would drop tariffs on Indian IT work unless they towed the line. Modi folded.

alexcojones , 17 hours ago link

Good old Vlad, Mr. Putin being a statesman again.Wish we had some of those in "our" country, said this old US veteran

johand inmywallet , 17 hours ago link

No country will win WWIII, everyone will lose.

Brazen Heist II , 16 hours ago link

Some deluded folks still think they have a first strike advantage. LOL No really, we can win this if you "trust" me.

[Jun 22, 2019] Who Survives The Iran Counter-Offensive

Notable quotes:
"... Trump is right that he can afford to be patient and now re-frame this as him being the magnanimous God-Emperor but what he's really doing is talking capital markets off a cliff. ..."
"... Because that's where the U.S. is the most vulnerable and where Iran's greatest leverage lies. This incident should have sent oil prices far higher than they did if the threat of war was real. ..."
"... Why? Because the markets discounted the U.S.'s stories immediately. There have been so many incidents like this that should have started a war in the past three years which turn out to be bogus that the market reaction was muted, at best. ..."
"... As Pepe Escobar lays out convincingly in his latest article, Iran's threats against global oil shipping aren't aimed at disrupting the global economy per se. There's plenty of oil stored in Strategic Reserves around the world to keep things operating during any U.S. military operation to destroy Iran's navy (which wouldn't take very long) and open the strait to oil traffic. ..."
"... It is that a disruption in the price of oil will force the unwinding of trillions in interest rate swap derivatives already at risk because of the tenuous hold on reality Deutsche Bank has, since DB clears a super-majority of all such derivative contracts for the whole of Europe. ..."
"... Last week I asked whether Trump's "B-Team" overplayed their hand in the Gulf of Oman , staging a potential false flag over some oil tankers to stop peace breaking out and arrest the slide in oil prices. Today everyone wants to think Iran overplayed its hand by attacking this drone. But given the amount mendacity and the motivations of the people involved, I'd say that it was yet another attempt by the enemies of peace to push us to the brink of a world war in which nothing good comes of it. ..."
Jun 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Luongo,

Iran has had enough. I think it's fair to say that after 60+ years of U.S. aggression towards Iran that the decision to shoot down a U.S. drone represents an inflection point in world politics.

In the first few hours after the incident the fog of war was thick. But a day later much of it has cleared thanks to Iran's purposeful poke at U.S. leadership by coming clean with their intentions.

Iran chose to shoot down this drone versus hitting the manned P-8 aircraft and then chose not to lie about it in public, but rather come forward removing any deniability they could have had.

me title=

They did this after President Trump's comments yesterday during a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau where Trump described the attack as "a big mistake" and "not intentional."

But it was intentional.

And the reason for this was that despite Trump's assurances yesterday there is considerable debate as to where the drone actually was. According to a report from the NY Times (and buried deep in a very long article):

Still, there remained doubt inside the United States government over whether the drone, or another American surveillance aircraft, this one flown by a military aircrew, did violate Iranian airspace at some point, according to a senior administration official. The official said the doubt was one of the reasons Mr. Trump called off the strike -- which could under international norms be viewed as an act of war.

The delay by United States Central Command in publicly releasing GPS coordinates of the drone when it was shot down -- hours after Iran did -- and errors in the labeling of the drone's flight path when the imagery was released, contributed to that doubt, officials said.

A lack of provable "hard evidence" about the location of the drone when it was hit, a defense official said, put the administration in an isolated position at what could easily end up being the start of yet another war with a Middle East adversary -- this one with a proven ability to strike back.

This means a couple of things. First, it is likely that Trump was not properly briefed on the issue by his National Security Council, who were pushing him to strike back hard and who are itching to get the U.S. into an armed conflict with Iran.

Framing the attack as a mistake Trump was handing Iran the opportunity to de-escalate things. To me, this signaled that Trump was told through back channels this was an operation designed by us to put Iran in a no-win situation -- either allow encroachment of their airspace or shoot down a drone that would land in international waters.

Moreover, doubts as to the drone's position, remember, with a plane carrying actual ordnance on its wing, put Trump in a real bind.

And he knew it at the presser. That's the way Trump tried to frame this the way he did. Because the implications here are that he is being boxed in on all sides by his administration and his allies -- the Saudis, Israelis and the UAE -- and frogmarched to a war he doesn't want.

He wants Iran to heel but he doesn't know how to go about it.

That Iran then chose the next day to openly declare that they were not confused or misled and knew exactly what they were doing puts Trump in an even worse position.

Because an unmanned drone, as he said in his futile tweetstorm, is not worth going to war over, especially one whose position in in dispute.

And everyone knows it. Europe wouldn't condemn Iran here. No one did. Only the U.S. And that silence is deafening as Pompeo, Bolton and Haspel again over-extend themselves.

Trump is right that he can afford to be patient and now re-frame this as him being the magnanimous God-Emperor but what he's really doing is talking capital markets off a cliff.

Because that's where the U.S. is the most vulnerable and where Iran's greatest leverage lies. This incident should have sent oil prices far higher than they did if the threat of war was real.

Why? Because the markets discounted the U.S.'s stories immediately. There have been so many incidents like this that should have started a war in the past three years which turn out to be bogus that the market reaction was muted, at best.

It also tells you just how quickly the global economy is slowing down if a major military incident between Iran and the U.S. near the Strait of Hormuz only pushed the price of Brent Crude up to fill the gap on the weekly chart and confirm the recent low.

... ... ...

As Pepe Escobar lays out convincingly in his latest article, Iran's threats against global oil shipping aren't aimed at disrupting the global economy per se. There's plenty of oil stored in Strategic Reserves around the world to keep things operating during any U.S. military operation to destroy Iran's navy (which wouldn't take very long) and open the strait to oil traffic.

It is that a disruption in the price of oil will force the unwinding of trillions in interest rate swap derivatives already at risk because of the tenuous hold on reality Deutsche Bank has, since DB clears a super-majority of all such derivative contracts for the whole of Europe.

No one wants to see $300 per barrel oil. That Goldman Sachs is posting potential targets of $1000 per barrel tells you where they are positioning themselves, as if they know something? Goldman? Have insider knowledge?

Please! It is to laugh.

What we are looking at here is the ultimate game of brinkmanship. Trump is saying his maximum pressure campaign will break Iran in the end and if they go one step further (which they won't directly) he will eliminate them.

Iran, on the other hand, is stating categorically that if Trump doesn't allow Iran to trade than no one will. And that threat is a real one, given their regional influence. Incalculable financial and political damage can be done by Iran and its proxies around the region through attacks on oil and gas infrastructure. Governments will fall, markets will collapse. And no one gets out without scars.

It's the kind of stand-off that needs to end with everyone walking away and regrouping but is unlikely to do so because of entrenched interests on both sides and the historical grudges of the men involved.

What's important is to know that the rules of the game have changed. Iran has taken all the punches to the nose it will take from Trump without retaliating. When you corner someone and give them no way out you invite the worst kind of counter-attack.

Last week I asked whether Trump's "B-Team" overplayed their hand in the Gulf of Oman , staging a potential false flag over some oil tankers to stop peace breaking out and arrest the slide in oil prices. Today everyone wants to think Iran overplayed its hand by attacking this drone. But given the amount mendacity and the motivations of the people involved, I'd say that it was yet another attempt by the enemies of peace to push us to the brink of a world war in which nothing good comes of it.

I give Trump a lot of credit here for not falling into the trap set for him. He now has to begin removing those responsible for this quagmire and I'm sure that will be on the docket when he meets with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping next week at the G-20.

It starts with John Bolton and it ends with Mike Pompeo.

And if he doesn't replace them in the next six to eight weeks then we know Trump isn't serious about keeping us out of war. He's just interested in doing so until he gets re-elected

[Jun 22, 2019] this report on the Ufa, Russia Security Conference by both Iranian and Outlaw US Empire officials. The entire article requires reading, but this is the most relevant excerpt that has some links in the original I won't duplicate:

Jun 22, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

"Given current global events, the most significant attendees in Ufa are a senior US National Security Council member and the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Shamkhani. As of now, the only official news comes from Ali Shamkhani's words concerning the possibility of mediation with the US and the possibility of Iran acquiring weapons systems to fend off US threats. Shamkhani stated:

"'We currently face demonstrative threats. Nevertheless, when it comes to air defense of our country, we consider using the foreign potential in addition to our domestic capacities Mediation is out of question in the current situation. The United States has unilaterally withdrawn from the JCPOA, it has flouted its obligations and it has introduced illegal sanctions against Iran. The United States should return to the starting point and correct its own mistakes. This process needs no mediation.'

"'This [gradually boosting of uranium enrichment and heavy water production beyond the levels outlined in the JCPOA] is a serious decision of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] and we will continue doing it step by step until JCPOA violators move toward agreement and return to fulfilling their obligations. [If JCPOA participants do not comply with the deal, Iran will be reducing its commitments] step by step within legal mechanisms that the JCPOA envisions.'"

It was noted by b that the Outlaw US Empire faces a growing international coalition against its actions, which results from sentiments made at the rather many recent international conferences that have already occurred in June that will be topped by G-20 in 8 days. That admission along with the stark mostly unreported economic realities of any armed conflict in the Gulf region is what restrains the war mongers. The Money Power and the Current Oligarchy won't allow war is what I see. And that makes this Friday morning pleasant despite the fog.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 21, 2019 12:01:59 PM | 86

Posted by: Anon | Jun 21, 2019 8:04:55 AM | 29 (boring that it's yet another Anon, who can't be bothered to distinguish himself all from the other thousands of Anons)
the stage is now maximum restraint and effort at co-operation, which Iran will be expected to respect. That means one more act against US (or false flag by US) and strikes will occur. Not comparable to hostage crisis, here US is projecting being reasonable, even if you read that as being weak.
It's not me who reading the US as weak. It will be the attitude of the Iranians, who haven't forgotten the US failure in 1980 (April 24, 1980), as opposed to the US public for whom it is so many crises ago that they've forgotten. And the Iranians are right. Trump hesitated, as every previous attempt to launch a strike on Iran has finished finally in a stand-down. The risks are just too great (for what the US public is prepared to accept). And we've just seen it happen again. They might be able to screw themselves up to go through with it, and accept the losses and stalemate that will come, but it will do no good at all for Trump's re-election chances.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jun 21, 2019 12:05:23 PM | 88

Posted by: Mikael Kallavuo | Jun 21, 2019 12:19:06 PM | 91 Well it looks like Elijah Magnier has finally written the piece he was hinting at releasing yesterday. Here it is:


Iran is pushing US President Donald Trump to the edge of the abyss, raising the level of tensions to new heights in the Middle East. After the sabotage of four tankers at al-Fujairah and the attack on the Aramco pipeline a month ago, and last week's attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC – now categorized by the USA as a terrorist body) yesterday shot down a US Navy drone, sending two clear messages. The first message is that Iran is ready for an all-out war, no matter what the consequences. The second message is that Iran is aware that the US President has cornered himself; the embarrassing attack came a week after Trump launched his electoral campaign.

According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence – made via a third party – that Trump be allowed to bomb one, two or three clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face. Iran categorically rejected the offer and sent its reply: even an attack against an empty sandy beach in Iran would trigger a missile launch against US objectives in the Gulf.

...

Moreover, Iran has established a joint operations room to inform all its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan of every step it is adopting in confronting the US in case of all-out war in the Middle East. Iran's allies have increased their level of readiness and alert to the highest level; they will participate in the war from the moment it begins if necessary. According to sources, Iran's allies will not hesitate to open fire against an already agreed on bank of objectives in a perfectly organised, orchestrated, synchronised and graduated response, anticipating a war that may last many months.

Sources confirmed that, in case of war, Iran aims to stop the flow of oil from the Middle East completely, not by targeting tankers but by hitting the sources of oil in every single Middle Eastern country, whether these countries are considered allies or enemies. The objective will be to cease all oil exports from the Middle East to the rest of the world.

...

Iran's economy is under attack by Trump's embargo on Iranian oil exports. Trump refuses to lift the embargo and wants to negotiate first. Trump, unlike Israel and the hawks in his administration, is trying to avoid a shooting war. Netanyahu has reiteratedhis desire for war with Iran -- a war that the US will fight–and is meeting with his Arab allies to help bring it about. As Ha'aretz described Netanyahu's Iran dilemma last month, the goal is to get Trump to go to war without putting Israel on the front line.


Posted by: jsb | Jun 21, 2019 12:20:15 PM | 92

Trump just confirmed my hunch that there was no final decision to strike.
Meet the Press @MeetThePress - 16:50 UTC - 21 Jun 2019

EXCLUSIVE: In an exclusive interview with Chuck Todd, President Donald Trump says he hadn't given final approval to Iran strikes, no planes were in the air.

Also Elijah Magnier's piece is out:

Iran and Trump on the edge of the abyss

The first message is that Iran is ready for an all-out war, no matter what the consequences. The second message is that Iran is aware that the US President has cornered himself; the embarrassing attack came a week after Trump launched his electoral campaign. According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence – made via a third party – that Trump be allowed to bomb one or two clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face. Iran categorically rejected the offer and sent its reply: even an attack against an empty sandy beach in Iran would trigger a missile launch against US objectives in the Gulf.
...
Iran has established a joint operations room to inform all its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan of every step it is adopting in confronting the US in case of all-out war in the Middle East. Iran's allies have increased their level of readiness and alert to the highest level; they will participate in the war from the moment it begins if necessary. According to sources, Iran's allies will not hesitate to open fire against an already agreed on bank of objectives in a perfectly organised, orchestrated, synchronised and graduated response, anticipating a war that may last many months.
...
Sources confirmed that, in case of war, Iran aims to stop the flow of oil from the Middle East completely, not by targeting tankers but by hitting the sources of oil in every single Middle Eastern country, whether these countries are considered allies or enemies. The objective will be to cease all oil exports from the Middle East to the rest of the world.

The NYT reports that the CentCom claim that the drone was in international airspace is in doubt:
Trump Stopped Strike on Iran Because It Was 'Not Proportionate'

Still, there remained doubt inside the United States government over whether the drone, or another American surveillance aircraft, this one flown by a military aircrew, did violate Iranian airspace at some point, according to a senior administration official.
..
The delay by United States Central Command in publicly releasing GPS coordinates of the drone when it was shot down -- hours after Iran did -- and errors in the labeling of the drone's flight path when the imagery was released, contributed to that doubt, officials said.

A lack of provable "hard evidence" about the location of the drone when it was hit, a defense official said, put the administration in an isolated position at what could easily end up being the start of yet another war with a Middle East adversary -- this one with a proven ability to strike back.


Posted by: b | Jun 21, 2019 1:23:18 PM | 107 b, how can you believe any of Trump's versions? I can't see that one is more trustworthy than another

Posted by: Laguerre | Jun 21, 2019 1:29:48 PM | 109

Listen to this horse manure coming from Brain Hook, "special" representative for Iran:

"According to him, Washington was doing everything possible to defuse tensions with Iran and return the containment system in the region.

However, Hook blamed Tehran for rising tension in the region because of the refusal of any diplomatic initiatives.

"Our diplomacy does not give Iran the right to respond with military force. Iran needs to meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not military force," the envoy added."

Diplomacy needs to be met with diplomacy......Really???

Iran should impose sanctions on all of SA, UAE and US oil exports. How's that for diplomacy Mr. Hook? In case you missed it that is exactly what they are doing. Meeting your brand of diplomacy head on.

We are living in the realm of absurd. How is it that we have left the welfare of our kids, families and the future of our country in the hands of these incompetent morons?

And why is the rest of the world sitting with their popcorn watching this horror show?

Posted by: Uncle Jon | Jun 21, 2019 2:53:41 PM | 131 h @124--

After reading the wiki item on P-8s having a normal crew of 7, I got to thinking about the 35 number either being a botched translation or how many bodies were noted via thermal imaging radar, something I doubt Iran was thought to possess. As I wrote, Iran can see everything to its West, which is a very BigDeal.

I digested Magnier's latest. The following is an extremely important point:

"Ha'aretz described Netanyahu's Iran dilemma last month, the goal is to get Trump to go to war without putting Israel on the front line ."

Except that is an impossibility. The Zionists are smack dab in the middle of the front line with a massive crosshairs imprinted on their entirety. Occupied Palestine sits at Ground Zero, and it seems that the Zionists are finally waking up to the ultimate betrayal they'll experience at the hands of The Christian Rapturists--they are to be Genocided in the pursuit of attempting to make a myth come to life.

Every writer, Magnier, b, Escobar, and most all barflies, etc, are saying the decision lies with Trump. As I've written before and again above, I disagree. The decision to go to war with Iran rests with the Current Oligarchy running the Outlaw US Empire. And it's my belief that such a war will not bring them A Few Dollars More and instead make their Fistful of Dollars evaporate rapidly. thanks to their great outstanding, naked, risks. For perhaps the very first time, the Current Oligarchy is exposed to the risks involved in a war it initially though it could win. Last night, it seemed to awaken to the potential consequences and blinked. The Philadelphia refinery blast may be shear coincidence or not, but it also has likely helped since its right down the street from the Current Oligarchies penthouses.

Now, it's just about the time of day when the Houthis launch their attacks.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 21, 2019 2:58:26 PM | 132

Watch the brilliant George Galloway on the consequences of war with Iran. Bottom line: only hardline Likudniks and FDD Likud USA types would approve such a disastrous move.

If America attacks and destroys Iran after doing the same to Iraq, Palestine, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, the Islamic religion should semi-officially adopt anti-Americanism until the Empire falls, and it would be totally deserved. If we all go in, let us get a good thrashing.
_____

George Galloway has warned the US and its allies in the Gulf that if they were to start "World War III" with an attack on Iran they will live to regret it because, unlike Iraq in 2003, they are capable of fighting back.

The Scottish firebrand, who famously took US lawmakers to task over the Iraq war when he testified in front of the senate in 2005, has given his take on the recent ratcheting-up of tension in the Gulf region after Iran shot down a US drone, which, it says, had entered its airspace.

Washington maintains its UAV was shot down while patrolling over international waters in an "unprovoked attack." On Friday President Donald Trump took to Twitter to claim the US were 10 minutes away from bombing three Iranian sites, before calling off the strikes.

Galloway believes that many Iranians would see it as a great "pleasure to fight the United States and its allies in the region."

In a stark warning to US allies such as Qatar, the UAE and Saudia Arabia, Galloway insisted that any country that allows "its land to be used for the launching for an American attack on Iran will itself be immediately in flames."

The former Labour MP concludes his passionate message to the world by declaring: "No more war. No more war in the Gulf. No war on Iran."

https://youtu.be/ejvTPVvj_IE

Posted by: Blooming Barricade | Jun 21, 2019 4:14:14 PM | 155

It is true that Trump needs to fire acting President Bolton. Bolton who was appointed to the NSA by Sheldon Adelson, the Israeli/American oligarch, will not allow Trump to fire Bolton; otherwise, he loses millions of $$$$. The pressure is also from Adelson and his neocon ilk.

Posted by: El Cid | Jun 21, 2019 4:36:44 PM | 160

I don't think my opinion has changed. There've been several cases where they've been about to attack Iran, but then have drawn back. Spring 2018 (Israel), 2012, even the event of 1980, where they tried but failed. Trump's aborted attack is just another case.

Iran is a big country, and won't be defeated unless the people are ready to abandon the regime. They aren't as far as I can detect. The exiles, and the middle class in Iran, hate the regime. I've just had a lot of that poured into my ears, during my visit to Iran a month ago. The popular feeling though doesn't seem to have abandoned the regime. I think we can expect a nationalist resistance, if indeed Trump does attack Iran.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jun 21, 2019 4:40:29 PM | 163

@Oscar Peterson #151
China has been complying with US sanctions on Iran, for example this article notes that China stopped buying oil from Iran .
US direct trade with Iran isn't so much as issue as the US stopping Europe and China from trading with Iran.

Posted by: c1ue | Jun 21, 2019 4:54:59 PM | 165

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jun 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

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

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

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

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

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

[Jun 22, 2019] The Financial War Escalates

Jun 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

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

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

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

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

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

What happened? What were they waiting for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The British involvement

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

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

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

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

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

China's policy predicament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

False flags and Iran

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

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

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

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

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

How will it be resolved?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Demeter55 , 4 hours ago link

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

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

I am Groot , 19 hours ago link

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

BennyBoy , 19 hours ago link

It's a war to secure global RESOURCES..

Fixed it.

iSage , 19 hours ago link

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

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

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

Authored by Doug Bandow via National Interest,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"If we have to use force, it is because we are America: we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Albright famously asked Colin Powell in 1992:

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albright, Jashari said, would not listen to anyone.

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

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

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

According to delegation member Nikola Šainović ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

Andrea Bandish , 1 day ago (edited)

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

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

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

[Jun 22, 2019] http://www.unz.com/tsaker/trump-claims-he-canceled-an-airstrike-against-iran-at-the-very-last-minute/

Jun 22, 2019 | www.unz.com

The first thing to say here is that we have no means to know what really happened. At the very least, there are two possible hypotheses which could explain what took place:

1) a US provocation: it is quite possible that somebody in the US chain of command decided that Iran should be put under pressure and that having US UAV fly right next to, or even just inside, the international border of Iran would be a great way to show Iran that the US is ready to attack. If that is the case, this was a semi-success (the Iranians had to switch on their radars and attack the UAV which is very good for US intelligence gathering) and a semi-failure (since the Iranians were clearly unimpressed by the US show of resolve).

2) an Iranian provocation: yup, that is a theoretical possibility which cannot reject prima facie : in this scenario it was indeed the Iranians who blew up the two tankers last week and they also deliberately shot down the US UAV over international waters. The goal? Simple: to show that the Iranians are willing and ready to escalate and that they are confident that they will prevail.

Now, in the real world, there are many more options, including even mixes of various options. What matters is now not this, as much as Trump's reaction:

Now, whether this was a US provocation or an Iranian one – Trump's reaction was the only correct one. Why? Because the risks involved in any US "more than symbolic strike" would be so great as to void any rationale for such a strike in the first place. Think of it: we can be very confident that the Iranian military installations along the Persian Gulf and the southern border of Iran are highly redundant and that no matter how successful any limited US missile strike would have been, the actual military capabilities of Iran would not have been affected. The only way for the US to effectively degrade Iranian capabilities would be to have a sustained, multi-day, attack on the entire southern periphery of Iran. In other words, a real war. Anything short of that would simply be meaningless. The consequences of such an attack, however, would be, in Putin's words "catastrophic" for the entire region.

If this was an Iranian provocation, then it was one designed to impress upon the Empire that Iran is also very much "locked, cocked and ready to rock". But if that is the case, there is zero change that any limited strike would achieve anything. In fact, any symbolic US attack would only signal to the Iranians that the US has cold feet and that all the US sabre-rattling is totally useless.

I have not said such a thing in many months, but in this case I can only admit that Trump did the right thing. No limited attack also makes sense even if we assume that the Empire has made the decision to attack Iran and is just waiting for the perfect time. Why? Because the longer the Iranian feel that an attack is possible, the more time, energy and money they need to spend remaining on very high alert.

The basic theory of attack and defense clearly states that the attacking side can gain as a major advantage if it can leave the other side in the dark about its plans and if the costs of being ready for a surprise attack are lower than the costs of being on high alert (those interested in the role and importance of surprise attack in the theory of deterrence can read Richard Betts' excellent book "


peterAUS says: June 21, 2019 at 8:30 pm GMT 100 Words

the longer the Iranian feel that an attack is possible, the more time, energy and money they need to spend remaining on very high alert.

Yep.
Men and material getting tired.
Tired men and material make mistakes.

Smart.

As I've said plenty of times before, the "beauty" of the setup is that TPTBs simply create a climate for a mistake resulting in loss of life of American personnel.
BANG.

Or, you put two combat forces next to each other and ramp up the tension.
Just a matter of time.

I am currently very slightly optimistic (48-52%) that the US will not attack Iran in the short term.
In the long term, however, I consider that an AngloZionist attack is a quasi certainty.

Yep.
Short term being 3 months (related to the first paragraph).

War for Blair Mountain , says: June 21, 2019 at 8:49 pm GMT

Sean Hannity lives in the largest Mansion in Lloyd Neck I have driven past his Mansion to get a look as to just how big it is IT'S HUGE ..Lloyd Neck has the most expensive zip code in the US ..Hannity the Chicken-Hawk thinks he is even tougher Chicken-Hawk War Hawk now that he studies MMA Serra Brazilian Ji-jitsu on Jericho Turnpike ..Yesterday Sean Hannity"My philosophy is you hit me .I hit you back ten times harder" .of course, Sean will be hiding in his mega-Mansion in Lloyd Neck .as the US Cargo Planes land in Virginia with a 100 stainless steel coffins containing the bodies headless bodies of Native Born White American Working Class Young Men Donald and Melania step inside the cargo bay to view the stainless steel coffins ..

... ... ...

A123 , says: June 21, 2019 at 8:50 pm GMT

Military action needs to support the underlying political goals. And, the political goal is to stop the Iranian regime from threatening and destabilizing the region. Would killing 150+ Iranians help dislodge the violent regime? No. Thus, the proposed strike did not align with the political goal. Trump was right to cancel it.

Think of it as the Putin Playbook. Did Putin go for mass casualties when Turkey shot down one of its fighters in 2015? No. Both Putin and Trump show similar strength. Restraint against precipitous, ill conceived, and overly bloody actions.

_____

Trump realizes that the Iranian people are the victims of sociopath Kahmeni. There will be a response with minimal bloodshed. Instead it will focus on the regime. Deepening the divide between the Iranian people and their despotic leaders prepares the path for internal forces to replace those leaders.

Oil storage is a likely choice. The tanks are large and spilled oil is highly visible. It would demonstrate the inability of the regime to stop the U.S. Storage facilities are visible to the public, so the government would have trouble denying or misrepresenting the event. Port facilities would also be a good choice, although that would be harder to time for few to no casualties.

PEACE

El Dato , says: June 21, 2019 at 8:57 pm GMT

very slightly optimistic (48-52%)

That's going overboard on precision though. And what's with the oil refinery in Pennsylvania going up into balls of flame. I hope this won't get dragooned into an "Iranian sleeper cell attack".

2stateshmustate , says: June 21, 2019 at 9:12 pm GMT
@A123

Another Israeli telling Americans they will be welcomed in Iran with flower covered streets. This guy doesn't give a shit about the US.

Fran Macadam , says: June 21, 2019 at 9:26 pm GMT
The provocations have to be such that domestic acquiescence in elite war profit taking will not be disturbed. That requires a series of propaganda events ramping up for domestic consumption.
El Dato , says: June 21, 2019 at 9:46 pm GMT
https://news.antiwar.com/2019/06/21/trump-called-off-attack-on-iran-with-10-minutes-to-spare/

10 minutes from striking is worryingly close, and Trump's disclosures on the matter are troubling. Apparently it was only at this late hour that Trump came around to asking for specifics on how many Iranians his order would kill. The generals told him approximately 150.

This was the game-changer, and Trump was nominally ordering this attack over the shoot down of a single US surveillance drone, and he rightly noticed that killing 150 people was not very proportionate to that, fortunately, he called the attack off before the first missiles were fired.

Trump went on to issue a flurry of Tweets saying Iran would never be allowed to have nuclear weapons, which of course this entire almost-attack had not a thing to do with. He also bragged about how much damage the US sanctions have done to Iran and how weakened Iran already is.

Troublingly though, administration hawks were still able to get Trump to sign off on the attack earlier on Thursday, and his assurances on Twitter suggest that the loss of the single drone really didn't enter into it as a big issue for him. This raises ongoing concerns that having called off the Thursday attack, Trump might be sold on a lesser attack at any time, or at least something nominally different that gets carried out before he gets around to asking about the casualties.

HONK! HONK!

restless94110 , says: June 21, 2019 at 9:48 pm GMT
@A123

Why would you end your mis-analysis where you justify war with the word PEACE? Spelling it out in all CAPS? You are seriously proposing that the US has the right to judge the government of another country and to deliberately destabilize that country in order to oerturn its governemtn?

Do you realize that economic sanctions are considered to be acts of war? In other words, you support acts of war and think that is PEACE? Are you insane?

El Dato , says: June 21, 2019 at 9:51 pm GMT
@A123

Military action needs to support the underlying political goals. And, the political goal is to stop the Iranian regime from threatening and destabilizing the region.

Yeah. Makes total sense from an Israeli/Saudi perspective. When bullshit is all there is, Hollywood logic can be used to explain the world!

Trump realizes that the Iranian people are the victims of sociopath Kahmeni.

I hope you have been given a sheet with talking points, otherwise I pity you.

PEACE

Top Ironik.

El Dato , says: June 21, 2019 at 9:59 pm GMT
The Deep State never rests. Dual treason sandwich via Reuters for Mr. Trump. It's really like living in a Nazi regime, with Heydrich walking the corridors, blackmailing and manipulating and "disposing of" problem factors.

Iran's top national security official has denied a Reuters report claiming that Tehran had received a low-key message via Oman from the US warning of an imminent attack on the Islamic Republic.

"The US didn't send any message," Keyvan Khosravi, spokesman for the National Security Council, told Iranian television.

The comment dismissed a previous report by Reuters, which cited unnamed Iranian officials as saying that Donald Trump had warned Tehran of a military strike and also gave a time to respond. The message was reportedly delivered via Oman and followed the downing of a US spy UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) earlier in the week.

HEREDOT , says: June 21, 2019 at 10:06 pm GMT
A handful of psychopaths determine our destiny. What makes us different from animals?
Priss Factor , says: June 21, 2019 at 10:23 pm GMT
A political coitus interruptus. DR. STRANGELOVE lite.
kerdasi amaq , says: June 22, 2019 at 12:35 am GMT
Hmm, so they shot down a drone; would they be able to shoot down every American plane that entered their airspace? A good reason to call off the strike; if the Iranians had a missile lock on every American plane. Having all their planes shot down would be an even worse defeat for the United States than just calling off an attack. Putin checks Trump.
lavoisier , says: Website June 22, 2019 at 12:52 am GMT
@War for Blair Mountain

Sean Hannity is a PUSSY AND A FAGGOT!!!

Mostly just an idiot and a Zionist whore.

TheJester , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:10 am GMT
The Iranians might be deciding to stand firm against US sanctions and other provocations as de facto acts of war before the sanctions do materially impact the Iranian economy and its military capability.

Recall the chicanery through which the United States surreptitiously provoked Japan into attacking the United States at Pearl Harbor so that FDR, a committed Anglophile, could enter the European war through the back door to save his British friends.

1. Via economic sanctions, the United States and its European colonial allies systematically denied Japan the resources it needed to sustain its population and its industrial economy.

2. Japan decided that it would have to act to obtain those resources or, accept its eventual demise as a nation state.

3. FDR hinted to the Dutch that the newly-positioned naval resources at Pearl Harbor would attack and cut the Japanese lines-of-communication per chance Japan struck south to obtain oil, rubber, and other resources in Southeast Asia. This was intentionally leaked to the Japanese.

4. The United States monitored the locations and progress of the Japanese fleet en route to Pearl Harbor to protect its exposed flank per the above. Japanese naval resources were under a communications blackout. However, the Japanese merchant marine supporting those forces were not. The US monitored their locations as a proxy for the location of the Japanese fleet. The rest is history

The Iranians are in a similar position: either fight now at the peak of their military power or, fight for survival later at a significant economic and military disadvantage. Like the Japanese, the Iranians would be wise to do the former. This strategy optimizes their chances for national survival.

MarkinLA , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:32 am GMT
@kerdasi amaq

The first thing in is missiles that target air defense batteries. I doubt the US is worried about Iran shooting down every plane. The drone probably was flying a steady even course and took no evasive maneuvers unlike an attacking aircraft. The success rate of surface to air missiles is not very high.

MarkinLA , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:36 am GMT
@TheJester 1. Via economic sanctions, the United States and its European colonial allies systematically denied Japan the resources it needed to sustain its population and its industrial economy.

BS. The embargo was because Japan continued to occupy part of China. All they had to do was go back home. Did FDR do it to get us into the war? Maybe, but Hitler was under no obligation to declare war on the US since Japan did not declare war on the USSR when Hitler attacked the USSR.

Biff , says: June 22, 2019 at 3:03 am GMT

No limited attack also makes sense even if we assume that the Empire has made the decision to attack Iran and is just waiting for the perfect time. Why? Because the longer the Iranian feel that an attack is possible, the more time, energy and money they need to spend remaining on very high alert.

Then

this might also be a strategic PSYOP destined to lull the Iranians into a false sense of security. If that is the plan, it will fail: the Iranians have lived with a AngloZionist bullseye painted on their heads ever since 1979 and they are used to live under constant threat of war.

Make up your mind.

BengaliCanadianDude , says: June 22, 2019 at 3:32 am GMT
@A123

Tell your masters in Haifa that they really are not churning out the good ones. We see right through you.

Talha , says: June 22, 2019 at 5:11 am GMT

Trump Claims He Canceled an Airstrike Against Iran at the Very Last Minute

I one hundred percent support letting The Orange One continue on with his awesome cowboy delusions as long as it keeps a war from starting.

My reaction: "Wow, sir! You have such self-control! Those Iranians don't know how close they were to you just kicking them back to the Stone Age! It's great that the better (wiser and more patient) side of you won out in the end – you are awesome!"

Peace.

Ilya G Poimandres , says: June 22, 2019 at 5:34 am GMT
@A123

Iran – no aggressive use of force for over 200 years. Sorry, you're choosing the wrong people for your propaganda.

RobinG , says: June 22, 2019 at 5:44 am GMT
TUCKER CARLSON IS A HERO: Tucker: US came within minutes of war with Iran

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-c0jMsspE7Y?feature=oembed

RobinG , says: June 22, 2019 at 5:54 am GMT
@lavoisier https://politics.theonion.com/u-s-claims-drone-was-minding-own-business-on-its-way-t-1835695562

WASHINGTON -- Maintaining that the unmanned aerial vehicle was simply going about its day without posing a threat to anyone, U.S. Department of State officials claimed Thursday that one of their drones was minding its own business on its way to church when Iran attacked it out of nowhere. "This was an outrageous, unprovoked attack by the Islamic Republic of Iran on an innocent drone who merely wanted to attend mass in peace," said acting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, emphasizing the drone's upstanding moral character by pointing out its history of donating to charity, volunteering at soup kitchens, and making homemade cookies for school bake sales. "We're talking about a drone that sings in the church choir and coaches little league baseball games on the weekends -- an absolute pillar of the community. This is an upstanding family drone who did nothing to deserve any sort of attack. What kind of world do we live in where an innocent drone can't fly through Iranian air space on its way to church?" At press time, Department of Defense officials confirmed that their request for Iran to return the drone's body back to the U.S. for a proper burial had gone unanswered.

Miggle , says: June 22, 2019 at 6:08 am GMT
@MarkinLA Read Frazier Hunt, The Untold Story of Douglas MacArthur.

TheJester is right.

Yes, China was under Japanese occupation. The Chinese Communists were fighting the Japs. The USA was supporting the side that was not fighting the Japs but the Communists, being, the USA, fanatically anti-communist.

My guess is that the USA forced Japan into war because of the economic potential of China, i.e. they wanted to take Japan's place.

And the USA didn't side with Hitler but with the other side because they didn't know Indian independence would come immediately after the War. So they sided with the Brits because of the apparent economic potential of the British Empire. If India had gained independence just before the war the USA would have sided with Hitler, because then, without India, German Europe would have had a greater economic potential than the British Empire.

Alfred , says: June 22, 2019 at 6:18 am GMT
The Iranians claim that a manned spy plane was next to the drone (i.e. that it also was in their territory) but that they chose not to shoot it down since 35 soldiers were on board.

"Along with the American drone was an American P8 aircraft with 35 on board, and it was also violating our airspace and we could have downed it too," he said, adding, "But we did not do [shoot down] it, because our aim was to warn the terrorist forces of the US."

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980331000471

To me, a total cynic, it looks like the Americans attempted a repeat of the incident when they deliberately misled their sailors so that they sailed into Iranian territorial waters. I guess they messed up the GPS for them.

"Iran releases video of captured American sailor crying "

https://nypost.com/2016/02/10/iran-releases-video-of-captured-american-sailor-crying/

I too would cry if I realised that my superiors had set me up as a sacrificial lamb.

Let's not forget the attempt to sink the USS Liberty. That was a joint operation between the US Deep State and Israel to try and get the US to attack Egypt.

"'But Sir, It's an American Ship.' 'Never Mind, Hit Her!' When Israel Attacked USS Liberty"

https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/but-sir-its-an-american-ship-never-mind-hit-her-1.5492908

Popeye , says: June 22, 2019 at 6:19 am GMT
@TheJester But why were sanctions imposed on Japan? Because Japan was acting in violation of international law? Well yes due to Japanese imperial aggression against China. In 1935-40 Japan was no angelic virgin. It committed unprovoked aggression against China, committed massive war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yes FDR likely wanted to have USA enter the Pacific war to enable war against Hitler but the crippling sanctions against Japan had a legitimate basis. To punish Japan for aggression in China
Alfred , says: June 22, 2019 at 6:21 am GMT
It looks like the Americans are having a false flag feast.

The positions in Iraq – whether directly or indirectly connected to the US interests in Iraq – for example Baghdad, Basra and al-Taji base to Northwest of Baghdad and Nineveh operations command headquarters in Northern Iraq have come under Katyusha missile attacks in recent day, the Al-Akhbar newspaper reported.

The paper reiterated that the missile attacks have taken place as a result of recent regional tensions, and said that the US officials are trying to portray the attacks as messages by Iran after al-Fujaira and the Sea of Oman mishaps.

It noted that no group has claimed responsibility for the recent missile attacks on Iraqi cities.

Sources close to Hashd al-Sha'abi Commander Abu Mohandes al-Mahdi, meantime, categorically dismissed any accusations against the Iraqi popular and resistance forces, and said that the Americans themselves are most probably behind some of these attacks because some of the missiles are made in the US.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980331000382

anonymous [340] Disclaimer , says: June 22, 2019 at 6:58 am GMT
Has there been any mention of ahem the need for a Congressional declaration before the President can act as Commander-In-Chief?

Further evidence that the Constitution is dead.

Greg Bacon , says: Website June 22, 2019 at 8:19 am GMT
@HEREDOT Mr. Saker left out the inconvenient fact that while that drone was indeed flying over Iranian air space, a much larger target, the Poseidon P8 was flying nearby. The P8 is a converted Boeing 737, making for a much larger radar profile for that missile. The P8 has many ASW capabilities, and also can control drones.

It's usual crew numbers nine, but this one had 35 sacrificial lambs packed onboard, to be murdered by the (((Deep State))) to push Trump into the corner, with the (((MSM))) screaming that it was Iran's fault, no proof needed or lies fabricated–just like the illegal invasion of Iraq–to give Israel what it's demanding that its American colony do: Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.

My guess is that the American thugs behind this latest FF attempt were hoping the Iranian surface-to-air missile would of shifted its initial target–the drone– and went for the much larger P8.

That Butcher Boy Bolton and his fellow homicidal maniacs failed means that more Americans are being lined up in their cross-hairs, ready to be sacrificed for the glory of Apartheid Israel.

If that is the plan, it will fail: the Iranians have lived with a AngloZionist bullseye painted on their heads ever since 1979 and they are used to live under constant threat of war.

Wrong, Saker, the Iranians have been getting attacked by America and the Brits since we overthrew their democratically elected prez in 1953, because he had the audacity to think and say that the majority of Iran's oil revenues should be going to Iranians, not Wall Street .

Greg Bacon , says: June 22, 2019 at 8:23 am GMT
@BengaliCanadianDude Agreed. If Israel want to attack Iran, go ahead, but they won't, because they know they'd get their asses kicked unless Uncle Sucker was leading the way.

Or maybe Israel could send in its fearsome DIAPER BRIGADES to wreak havoc in Tehran?

The diaper reference is not a joke, it's fact that the IDF has issued combat nappies to their troops, who let loose their bladder anytime they engage REAL men with guns who shoot back. But let's give credit where its due, when it comes to shooting Palestinian kids with slingshots or medics, Israel is #1.

Rabbitnexus , says: June 22, 2019 at 8:25 am GMT
@peterAUS Iran has been living with the same threat since 1979. The result is a hugely popular military and IRGC which is one of the best career choices in the country. It's a way of life for the nation to be under siege by now and for Shia Muslims the idea of being ready to fight to the death always hovers due to the history of Islam with respect to the Sunni/Shia divide. This disagreement is extreme, to be a Muslim and understand it is to feel horror! ; and despair at the idea any reconciliation is even possible between the two sects and a shared history does not make for a shared point of view. Shias have always been outnumbered and it was us who were targeted for extreme violence in the end (or the begginning) when a dispute over leadership turned bitter. Successive Islamic powers have attempted to exterminate Shias and the latest incarnation of the Salafis begginning with Wahhabism (nurtured by the Rothschild controlled British SS at the end of the Ottoman Empire) and lately morphed into Takfirism which is Daesh and their ilk, have always sought out Shias first and foremost for attack.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is firstly an Islamic Republic in full revolutionary mode, (as opposed to 'fundamentalist') it is also in a close second the "Capital" of Shia Islam and what I have described is the history of Iran and the times the Persian state was not an Islamic one are no less a part of the historical memory of the nation. Even those times (which invariably ended in defeat for Persia) reinforce the idea that it is as an Islamic state Iran stands best chance of survival and the confidence that if they remain true to these principles they will prevail is backed by an unbroken history of successful defense as a righteous Islamic state. This may be beyond many of the younger generation and ignored by the wealthy older generation Iranians but it must be ingrained in the political and social cosnciousness of the political and religious and intellectual elite.

Iran is ready. They have always been ready in one sense. Saddan Hussein who attacked them when they were at their weakest and still lived to regret it could attest to that if he was still around to talk. That war in which the USA gave full and unconditional support to their protege Saddam who only became their enemy when he became a better man and leader later on in time, was a wake up call to Iranian leadership and the nation as one. They knew that they needed missiles and a very strong defensive posture and that is what they have. F^ck with them at your peril I say.

I doubt myself the USA will attack Iran, at least as long as they have ships and troops within 1000 miles of Iran. That includes towing their static aircraft carrier "Israel" out of range as well.

sally , says: June 22, 2019 at 8:34 am GMT
@2stateshmustate agree, the comment that "the USA is taking the events to the UN is loaded with false something or other..

Iran initiated the UN hearing AFAIK and IRAN says it will present evidence that it was the USA's intention.. to do the deeds ..<=personally, my feeling is neither Russia nor China will veto .. anything about these deeds.. the only veto will come from Article II of the COUS , present leader [one Mr. Trumpy]. who is elected not by popular vote of the govern people in America but instead by the hidden behind the scene, state to state vote of the electoral college.. .. <== you mean all that to-do every four years to elect a president: democrats vs republicans beating each other up, newspapers collecting billions in contribution dollars to publish fake I hate you slogans, and he saids, you saids: dey all be fake news, propaganda erotic ? yep.. sure enough is. dem guys dat rites dem Konstitutions ain't no dummies deys knows vat ve good fore dem. Read Article II, sections 2 and 3.. you see..
Popular vote elects the Article I folks ( 525 in all: 425 members of the house of congressional districts (Art. 1, Section 2), and 100 Senators (amendment 17, proposed 1912, approved 1913federal reserve(act of congress), income tax (amendment 16) both also 1913 ),

=>but Article I (section 2 and amendment 17 ) folks have no power to act.. as powerless buffoons ..they are authorized only to approve a few things, try cases of Treason, and make the laws, fund the actions, wants and needs demanded by Article II persons. It takes 2/3 of each a divided Senate and 2/3 of a divided House [Art. I, sec 7[2,3] to over-power the Art II privilege of veto.. and

==get this=> Article II persons are charged to enforce the law( Art II, section 2 [3] he[the President} shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Where is Hillary? I see no words making such duty to enforce the law optional (so does the AG have an option that the President does not, .) ?

misguided Saker ?

Zumbuddi , says: June 22, 2019 at 8:38 am GMT
@Fran Macadam . . . Timed to force Congress to vote on a declaration of war just before elections.
Zumbuddi , says: June 22, 2019 at 8:42 am GMT
@HEREDOT Have you ever seen an obese deer?
Rabbitnexus , says: June 22, 2019 at 8:53 am GMT
I am in full agreement with the author about who was most likely behind the attacks on the ships and how the two separate attacks were done. Even down to accepting the possibility Iran was behind some or all of this as provocation for the reasons given. If so it would mean they are hurting badly and need to bring things to a head fast. This does not fit with my observations of Iranian leadership which has always demonstrated a very long term and patient, typically oriental approach to logjams in diplomacy and nothing has happened to suggest they are suddenly feeling extremely more pain than previously. In short it is possible but I doubt it.

To my mind the things which speak against the Iranians having attacked the tankers the second time at least are substantial: Both ships were Japanese owned. This attack as such was against Japanese interests WHILST the Japanese PM (Japanese death cult and mafia associations and all) was making a historical visit to Tehran! What sort of dung for brains clowns would invite someone for dinner and then send the kids out to set fire to their car whilst they dined? Of course Washington would do something like this (shooting missiles at Syria whilst enjoying a lovely piece of cake with their Chinese ally ffs ) but Iran? Give me a break.

Secondly if Iran was guilty, how come the USA is lying like a cheap rug from the get go? The video the US Navy quickly produced is PROOF they are lying. The black and white imagery does NOT hide the distinctly different paint jobs on the ship depicted and the actual one involved. Whatever that video is, it is NOT a video of either of the ships involved in the second incident. So if Iran was guilty why is the USA using fabricated evidence to assert it?

The claim that the Iranians tried unsuccesfully to shoot down a Reaper drone which was according to the USA monitoring the ship BEFORE IT WAS ATTACKED was what stuck in my craw from the start. What the hell was a REAPER Drone doing monitoring that particular ship at that particular time? Is this a common practice? Reaper drones are NOT recon drones they carry hellfire missiles and kill things! When you consider the reports by the crew, as relayed by the Japanese company owner about a flying object just before the explosion and the pictures of the damage which clearly show fairly small holes about half way between the gunwale and waterline the conclusion these were small missiles is hard to avoid. Indeed HELLFIRE missiles would fit the bill nicely.

As for attacking Iran I do not believe that the USA will dare start anything, especially now, so long as they have troops and ships within range of Iranian missiles. Iranian missiles power is immense and an unknown because they do not know where it all is, and they do know much of it is very, very well hardened against attack. IF they do start a war with Iran whilst they have assets in the region, invluding "Israel" then they have completely lost their minds and I'd say the war will end very fast and hard for them. Not even going nuclear will do it. They are deluded if they think so. Nukes are not magic, they are just big bombs and even the radiation component is not a big deal these days. (few realise it but modern nukes are quite 'clean') Iran is a vast country and well dug in over millenia. However unleashing a full nuclear war against a non nuclear state will end the USA forever as a world citizen in every way. There is no solution for the USA except to make peace or back off. They can plan and scheme all they like but Allah is the best of planners.

Rabbitnexus , says: June 22, 2019 at 9:00 am GMT
@Fran Macadam Well if that line of turkeys pecking at the crumbs of provocations unfolding which purport to involve Iran keep on gobbling on cue they are going to realise too late they just walked into the slaughter house. Iran will send home many thousands of their boys and girls in body bags and sink their ships but the real hurt will be the end of the US economy. They'll be missing even allegorical crumbs when they only have dirt to eat.
El Dato , says: June 22, 2019 at 9:05 am GMT
@MarkinLA Japan continued to occupy part of China (and viciously so, clearly stamping on the foot of white-colonial interests with their homegrown late-comer colonialism) but i mainly started to challenge US power in the Pacific, and with strong determination.

Explainer:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/FTupV8o3mW4?start=7391&feature=oembed

China nowadays has this role. This is why the US is interested in a "first strike" nuclear posture. This is gonna be fun.

Sean , says: June 22, 2019 at 9:15 am GMT
Iran's War for higher Oil prices

Israel does not have the ability to deceive the US, and why would it need to with Trump in power? American fracking technology has greatly limited Iranian ability to cause trouble. If it was the Iranians that did the limpet mine attack on international shipping then what would their objective have been? Clearly they don't want more any real war or even more sanctions. What they do want is create demand for their oil and sell it at a good price. The price of oil is already up from the mere tension over the limpet mine and shootdown and had there been US military action oil prices would have gone much higher. I see this whole affair as a sign that the Iranian regieme is getting desperate, because America's slow smothering strategy is working. Iran wants to breack out of its current situation and Trump is walking them into that.

Israel will do nothing, the partisan supporters of Israel in the US can be kept quiet on the immigration Issue by throwing them a bone (as Trump has been doing). Iran want to rase oil prices and create demand for its oil, that is all. Hitting Iran, but quite lightly, is the best option for Trump if he wants to win reelection. And so he will hit Iran at a time of his choosing, which will probabally be closer to the election. The armed forces of America or any other country are not for enforcing international law or notions of fair play, but rather for defending that country's interests. Iran and Trump's agendas converge on a clash well short of all out war in the very near future.

The Alarmist , says: June 22, 2019 at 9:16 am GMT
Occam's Razor suggests Trump got news that the drone was indeed inside Iranian airspace and decided for once to call BS.

Besides, in the great scheme of things, one lost drone doesn't make up for the USS Vincennes killing 290 people on Iran Air 655 by shooting it down in Iranian Airspace. When the Empire warned that civil aircraft were not safe in the airspace, it wasn't the Iranian forces they were warning about.

El Dato , says: June 22, 2019 at 9:17 am GMT
@El Dato Pearl Harbor explained:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/FTupV8o3mW4?start=8008&feature=oembed

Miggle , says: June 22, 2019 at 9:19 am GMT
@Miggle Sorry, "My guess" covers all that follows. It's only my guess that the USA would have sided with Hitler if they'd known India would not be part of the British Empire.
Miggle , says: June 22, 2019 at 9:55 am GMT
@Colin Wright So, not insane, inzine.

Is there a difference?

Art , says: June 22, 2019 at 10:12 am GMT
Our hero Donald J Trump – a courageous man who saved 150 lives and avoided a war, will ride those lives into 2020.

There will be no war against Iran started by Trump.

Think Peace -- Art

EoinW , says: June 22, 2019 at 10:21 am GMT
@TheJester But it wasn't wise for the Japanese as they were completely defeated.

The key difference between Japan and Iran is that the Japanese Empire was an aggressor, endlessly invading its neighbours. Iran has not fought an offensive war in 40 years.

Also have to question you on the time element. Time is on the side of the Asian countries. It's countries, like Israel, who see this as peak time for military action. Iran has survived 40 years of sanctions and can certainly survive this time, especially with the support of Russia and China. Yet they still must react to military planes threatening their air space. Plus they have no control over oil tankers being targeted by third parties.

Amon , says: June 22, 2019 at 10:56 am GMT
The more I see of this, the more convinced I am that the US as a society is clinically insane.

Its borders are under attack by what can only be described as an invasion is taking place with millions off illegal immigrants pour across the border to commit crime, steal jobs or mooch of the welfare programs.

Its cities are decaying with armies of homeless, shit and drugs flooding the streets in ever greater numbers while the working class people flee in great waves.

Masked and armed criminals roam the streets of major US cities, attack anyone they deem to be a wrong thinker when not busy rioting, stealing and chanting for the deaths of others.

Its economy is in a bi-polar mood. On one hand the GDP is as high as ever with tons of new jobs getting created, on the other hand the physical economy is shrinking as stores closes and houses go unsold due to half the nation being unable to buy anything but food and clothes.

In the face of all of these problems, the US Government has decided to put its full attention on overthrowing the government of Venezuela and starting a war with Iran because somehow, those two nations who posed no danger to the US have been declared high priority targets that requires the full spectrum attention and political intervention by the US.

joeshittheragman , says: June 22, 2019 at 11:13 am GMT
@HEREDOT We can killed much more efficiently.
RVBlake , says: June 22, 2019 at 11:30 am GMT
@A123 "There will be a response with minimal bloodshed." Yes, we are noted for the delicate, nearly bloodless nature of our military reactions, merely focusing on regimes with the full-throated applause of the grateful populaces. It would be a cake-walk, to quote our valiant SecDef Rumsfeld prior to our 2003 Iraqi minimally bloody response.

And speaking of armchair generalship, I wonder where Trump's multi-starred consultant got the figure "150" in answer to the question of civilian casualties. This is the kind of clear-sighted strategic vision that has a U. S. victory in Afghanistan just around the corner, to quote our junior Clausewitz's.

SteveM , says: June 22, 2019 at 11:34 am GMT

But it is also plausible (if by no means certain) that at least two groups could have opposed such a strike:

1) The planners at CENTCOM and/or the Pentagon.

Yes, it's reported that the Pentagon advised Trump not to retaliate militarily for the drone shoot down.

Given advanced missile technologies, surface warships of any stripe are sitting ducks. I'm guessing that Iran has a plethora of missile batteries up and down its coast. If Iran launched a barrage of missiles simultaneously (10? 20? 30?) at a single surface warship in the Persian Gulf, what would be the probability that the ship's self-defense systems could neutralize them all?

If a single multi-billion dollar warship were sunk, the credibility of U.S. naval "power projection" would evaporate. In that context, the Pentagon's reluctance may be because they'd rather not establish that their hyper-expensive blue-water surface Navy is an anachronism.

alexander , says: June 22, 2019 at 11:49 am GMT
There is a very simple solution to all this, and the sooner it happens the better.

Everyone who conspired to defraud the US taxpayer into illegal wars (dating back to 2002), should be forced to pay for the cost of the wars they lied us into.

All the assets of these "deceivers" should be "seized" .to pay down the 22 trillion war debt their lies created.

If there is anything left over , it should be placed in an " Iran War Escrow Account ".

This would ensure that the burden of the war costs falls directly on "their" shoulders and NOT the US taxpayers.

This seems like a just and fair solution for everybody ., doesn't it ?

Justsaying , says: June 22, 2019 at 11:51 am GMT
@A123 If this is not proof of what some of these Washington criminals have on their agenda:

https://www.newsweek.com/mike-pompeo-says-iran-must-listen-us-if-they-want-their-people-eat-1208465

An authentic act of war before even before firing the first bullet. First, make the economy scream in the tradition of yet another thug masquerading as head of state (Nixon). Second, starve them into submission. Does the first Iraq war resulting in the death of an estimated half a million children denied essential medicines ring a bell? Venezuela is similarly being starved into surrender. Meanwhile Guaido is embezzling the humanitarian aid intended for his needy countrymen.

All said, the history of our country's lies and deception going back a long ways, more than speaks for itself.

anon [210] Disclaimer , says: June 22, 2019 at 12:10 pm GMT
@War for Blair Mountain Remember, the Holy Hook states that Working Class Native Born White Christian American Male Canon Fodder " owe it to the Jews ."
Zero , says: June 22, 2019 at 12:29 pm GMT
@Justsaying Of course, starvation is a favorite tactic of OUR international Communist overlords. They've used it for decades and killed hundreds of millions of people using it. It's cheap and easy.
Realist , says: June 22, 2019 at 12:42 pm GMT

Trump Claims He Canceled an Airstrike Against Iran at the Very Last Minute

That is just bullshit.

Realist , says: June 22, 2019 at 12:47 pm GMT
@lavoisier

Mostly just an idiot and a Zionist whore.

Yes, and there are plenty of them.

sarz , says: June 22, 2019 at 12:47 pm GMT
Saker, it would be good to see you spell out where you differ from Bernhard of Moon of Alabama's assumptions.

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/06/white-house-pushes-trump-pulled-back-story-he-likely-never-approved-to-strike-iran.html

War for Blair Mountain , says: June 22, 2019 at 12:55 pm GMT
On direct orders from Donald Trump ..the US Military is illegally occupying the sovereign Nation of Syria .and Trump took a direct order from JEW ONLY ISRAEL to do this think about it

A case can be made that the US strategy is not to go to war with Iran .but rather, use the boogey man of Iran to justify a 100 year illegal US Military occupation of Syria on behalf of JEW ONLY ISRAEL .

The late Fat Cockroach Christopher Hitchens justified murdering thousands of Iraqis because it would be good for the Kurds Well, here is what I say:THE CRYPTO JEW KURDS WERE NEVER WORTH IT .Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq always meant an IDF presence in Northern Iraq

Realist , says: June 22, 2019 at 12:58 pm GMT
@2stateshmustate Yep, A123 is as full of shit as you can get
Realist , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:03 pm GMT
@restless94110

Why would you end your mis-analysis where you justify war with the word PEACE?

Spelling it out in all CAPS?

Because he's a really, really dumbass.

Do you realize that economic sanctions are considered to be acts of war?

He doesn't realize what planet he's on.

Are you insane?

He's just really low IQ.

Biff , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:09 pm GMT
@Anonymous

learn the difference between tactics and strategy.

Hey Bill Clinton, is that you?

Dictionary.com gives almost identical definitions for those terms, so tell us oh wise one – what's the difference?

Jacques Sheete , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:11 pm GMT
@A123

And, the political goal is to stop the Iranian regime from threatening and destabilizing the region.

Oh, really! Tsk tsk.

Johnny Walker Read , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:14 pm GMT
The best analysis of the 225 million dollar MQ-4C drone(more expensive than the F-35) shoot down in my opinion is that of Jim Stone:
"The drone shot down was an MQ-4C, which is basically a more advanced clone of the Global Hawk. A better score for Iran than a Global Hawk. ADDITIONALLY IMPORTANT: Iran was the one that recovered the debris, the U.S. navy did not, which means Iran was telling the truth about where it was flying to begin with. If they got it, it fell on their turf. It is really blown to smithereens, a direct hit. That's good for Iran because it proves their missile systems can do it, but it is bad because they don't have any big pieces. Additionally, there was an American P-8 spy plane accompanying the drone, Iran was able to differentiate between the two, and hit the drone. The P-8 was a much easier target. Iran obviously opted not to hit it because killing it's crew would have meant war."

What everyone needs to be aware of here is "stealth" technology is a total farce, and can be defeated with long wave radar, basically the same system used by England during WWII. The drone shot down was considered a Max Stealth aircraft, same as the F-35. The F-35 and F-22 are basically "hanger queens"(many hours of maintenance required for every hour of flying time), and with their stealth capabilities being defeatable, they are pretty much worthless. Trump did not pull the trigger on this because he figured out the whole thing could go real bad real quick.

I urge all to read Jim Stones take on this mess: http://82.221.129.208/.wh7.html

Realist , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:15 pm GMT
@alexander

Everyone who conspired to defraud the US taxpayer into illegal wars (dating back to 2002), should be forced to pay for the cost of the wars they lied us into.

Everyone who conspired to defraud the US taxpayer into illegal wars, their heirs and all who profited from (dating back to 1812), should be forced to pay for the cost of the wars they lied us into.

FIFY

Jacques Sheete , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:16 pm GMT
@Justsaying You are correct. This is economic and siege warfare. Flying bullets, etc., add to the drama and consequences, but the war on Iran began many years ago. The vicious clowns are up to the same old tricks, but bullshitting only the willing gulls.
Jacques Sheete , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:18 pm GMT
@Zero

Of course, starvation is a favorite tactic of OUR international Communist overlords.

Yup. It's what empires do, and they don't even give a flip if their own people have to go without either.

Jacques Sheete , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:23 pm GMT
@El Dato

It's really like living in a Nazi regime

No, it's not. Clearly the Nazis were on the defensive . Lying Abe Lincoln was, in fact, much worse than the Nazis ever thought of being; in a totally different category even.

DESERT FOX , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:25 pm GMT
Iran has not started a war in over 300 years and is not a terrorist nation and does not export terrorism, that title belongs the the unholy trinity of the zio/US and Israel and Britain, the creators and funders and suppliers of AL CIADA aka ISIS and all the various off shoots thereof.

This war on Iran is a zionist project of the zionists who control the governments of the zio/US and zio/Britain as has been the case in every war in Iraq and Libya and Syria and Yemen and Lebanon , Israel has been the agent provocateur in every one of these wars!

The zionists have a goal of a satanic zionist NWO and are hell bent to get there if they have to kill off all the goyim and muslims to accomplish it and they are well on their way!

Read the book Blood In The Water by Joan Mellen on the zio/US and Israeli attack on the USS Liberty for a look at how these two terrorist nations operate!

Jacques Sheete , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:25 pm GMT
@HEREDOT

A handful of psychopaths determine our destiny. What makes us different from animals?

I don't think other animals have psychopaths of the same species ruling over them nor do they have hasbara clowns spouting sewage and doing worse 24/7, such as the alphanumeric zero, above.

Realist , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:28 pm GMT
@Greg Bacon

Mr. Saker left out the inconvenient fact that while that drone was indeed flying over Iranian air space, a much larger target, the Poseidon P8 was flying nearby. The P8 is a converted Boeing 737, making for a much larger radar profile for that missile. The P8 has many ASW capabilities, and also can control drones.

If this is true the stupid bastards in control of this country better take note. If the missile, that Iran says they developed, is cabable of distinguishing between a P8 and a drone the US may have a big problem.

Johnny Walker Read , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:30 pm GMT
@SteveM Yup, Trump called this off because he knew America could pay dearly for an attack on Iran.
Realist , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:30 pm GMT
@joeshittheragman Excellent answer.
Johnny Walker Read , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:33 pm GMT
This is what our Air Force would look like if it was based on war fighting and not making all in the MIC extremely rich.
https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/03/f-35-replacement-f-45-mustang-ii-fighter-simple-lightweight/
Realist , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:39 pm GMT
@MarkinLA

The embargo was because Japan continued to occupy part of China.

True, but China has been occupied by both the British and US in the past .and not too distant past.

Fool's Paradise , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:43 pm GMT
More likely, Trump and his Neocons knew that Iran had proof that the spy drone was shot down over Iran's territory, that the truth would come out after the U.S. strike, earning the world's condemnation and making Trump et al look like warmongering fools. That's what they are, of course, but it gave Trump the chance to pose as a big humanitarian, stopping the strike because, since it was only a plane, with no Americans on board, he didn't want to "disproportionately" kill anybody. Yeah. Just wait until the Israeli puppets send another plane with Americans on board, it'll give Israel and our traitorous Neocons the war they've been lusting after for a decade or more.
Realist , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:45 pm GMT
@Art LOL
Jacques Sheete , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm GMT
@MarkinLA

All they had to do was go back home.

Proof?

In fact it's my understanding that the Japanese were bending over backwards in an attempt to avoid war with the US but the Wall Street Commie catamite FDR and his henchmen foiled and insulted them at every turn. The story of how they were repeatedly humiliated would raise the hackles of the least sensitive among us.

The big picture is that the Wall Street and London Commies were aiming for world hegemony even at their own populations' expense, of course, and Japan and Germany had to be castrated even if populated and run by angels and innocent choir boys to ensure that they could be turned into industrial slave states. It's apparent that the scum of the Earth won't rest until they've accomplished their goals as we can clearly see here.

Nancy Pelosi's Latina Maid , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:55 pm GMT
@War for Blair Mountain

Sean Hannity lives in the largest Mansion in Lloyd Neck I have driven past his Mansion to get a look as to just how big it is IT'S HUGE ..Lloyd Neck has the most expensive zip code in the US

A simple Google search reveals Hannity sold his Lloyd Neck home in 2014, and has lived in Oyster Bay for several years. Also, Lloyd Neck isn't even in Forbes' Top 50 Most Expensive Zip Codes; the list is headed by four communities in California and one in Florida.

I'm not saying Sean isn't a pussy and a faggot, but your facts are suspect.

Jacques Sheete , says: June 22, 2019 at 1:58 pm GMT
@Popeye Dear Sir,

This is the 21st century. Why do you persist in parroting nearly century-old war propaganda?

Current Commenter

[Jun 21, 2019] If oil ships stop transiting for any reason the western economic and banking system implodes as the notional value of all those trillions in derivatives (oil at least) become real once the price rise

Notable quotes:
"... iran and oman share the straits as they enter the indian ocean. these waters are THEIR territorial waters and have been agreed upon for decades by the world. 12 miles give or take for each side. there are NO international waters here. ..."
"... It would appear the Iranians tracked our drone essentially from time time of departure until its demise. The folks on the web would have us believe the Iranians used a $2,500 homemade missile to bring down a $120,000,000 drone. Let that soak in. Am I the only one wondering what else we are unaware? ..."
"... Iran's Air Defense Force has some really quirky own designed and manufactured, mostly Chinese and Russian knock-offs) air defense complexes with serious sensors. ..."
"... Rumor has it--Iran has a number of Yakhonts. Those are very bad news for anything on the surface in Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. ..."
Jun 21, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

ted richard ,

iran and oman share the straits as they enter the indian ocean. these waters are THEIR territorial waters and have been agreed upon for decades by the world. 12 miles give or take for each side. there are NO international waters here.

if oil ships stop transiting for any reason the western economic and banking system implodes as the notional value of all those trillions in derivatives (oil at least) become real once the price rises. not a shot need be fired to collapse the western world living standards and there is nothing the pentagon can do about even IF it could which it CAN'T.

peace is the only sane option IF the west wants to remain upright and obstensibly solvent.

ignore fools like bolton and pompeo.

fredw , 21 June 2019 at 07:08 AM
The Trump administration has to come up with an explanation for this. Otherwise everyone will believe that that the red phone rang. "Mr. Putin on the line, sir." Another ripe conspiracy theory waiting in the wings is that Iran turned on some unexpected radar and showed just what the planes were flying into. Some logical, plausible, and not too embarassing alternative story is needed. Fast.
jon stanley , 21 June 2019 at 07:25 AM
Let us hope Trump's alleged caution holds. For the moment, anyway. However, let us also hope wiser heads prevail in Iran. It seems clear to me (which I do not mistake for assuming I am automatically correct) that there has been a PATTERN of increased, violent actions coming from Iran. i.e. increased shelling of US positions, or, near them, anyway, in Iraq. Along with the tanker attacks and drone attacks, two, I might add. These seem calculated, at the moment, at avoiding US loss of life. So, they are playing around with us, testing us. This reflects, to me, ONE kind of thinking in Iran. However, there are other sides there, I believe.

And in the meantime Trump is, essentially, bereft of support within DC. Unless it be in the military. One side of the elite community hates Trump, but for the moment, goes along with him. Trying to push and prod him forward to their ends. The NeoCons and Never Trumpers. The other side basically loathes Trump and opposes whatever position he is taking. Reflectively. Thoughtlessly. This leaves him essentially alone. IN DC. He should get out of the Capital more often. To his Base. Away from the talking heads. In the meantime Iran should give pause for thought. They may think the world will be on their side, if only to oppose Trump. But they won't get much support other than soft and meaningless words, if they keep poking the Bear. And they just might get eaten...hard as a meal as that would be to digest.

fotokemist , 21 June 2019 at 08:05 AM
My poorly informed speculation drawing upon my career as a chemist (i.e., no military training or experience, the navy rejected me when I tried to join the NROTC in 1963) I am inclined to disbelieve our claims that our drone was in international air space. One commentator on MoA claimed there is no international air space over the Gulf of Hormuz. The relevant treaties address only marine access.

It would appear the Iranians tracked our drone essentially from time time of departure until its demise. The folks on the web would have us believe the Iranians used a $2,500 homemade missile to bring down a $120,000,000 drone. Let that soak in. Am I the only one wondering what else we are unaware?

Regarding the aborted attack, my suspicion is that someone informed Trump of the possibility of an unsuspected Iranian asset bringing down an F-22, or horrors, an F-35. Not likely to help our export programs.

Combined with the possibility that Iran can present convincing evidence that the drone penetrated their air space, Trump would be in a poor position to defend himself against war crime charges should he order an attack. Might not play well in the upcoming election cycle.

As a businessman, he could have decided the rewards of an attack did not justify these risks.

Other thoughts?

Andrei Martyanov (aka SmoothieX12) -> fotokemist... , 21 June 2019 at 12:05 PM
Regarding the aborted attack, my suspicion is that someone informed Trump of the possibility of an unsuspected Iranian asset bringing down an F-22, or horrors, an F-35. Not likely to help our export programs.

Certainly one of major considerations. Unlike Iraq's "integrated" (a propaganda cliche--antiquated should have been the term), Iran's Air Defense Force has some really quirky own designed and manufactured, mostly Chinese and Russian knock-offs) air defense complexes with serious sensors.

It also has Russian S-300PMU2. In general, Iran is nothing like Iraq, Libya or Syria before Russia intervened.

I would put Iran's medium range (up to 100 kilometers range and up to 20 kilometers altitude) AD capabilities as robustly good.

And then, of course, tactical-operational ballistic missiles with an easy reach anywhere in ME (Qatar rings the bell, among many other) and, finally, who knows how many (very-very many) and what capability anti-shipping missiles.

Rumor has it--Iran has a number of Yakhonts. Those are very bad news for anything on the surface in Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

fotokemist , 21 June 2019 at 08:24 AM
Make that Strait of Hormuz.
Fourth and Long , 21 June 2019 at 08:46 AM
Probably a face saving gesture - can seem tough and reasonable simultaneously. It's shaping up as de-escalation on both sides for now, which I deduce from recent press releases on behalf of Iranian authorities saying that they refrained from shooting down a US P-8 plane carrying 35 people, which was accompanying the unmanned drone which they acknowledge shooting down. So they're mirroring each other IMO - it's not going to escalate.
CK , 21 June 2019 at 08:46 AM
I believe that Nixon did the same thing in 1969 when North Korea shot down an ec121. Threaten with a nuke and then stand down.
Ishmael Zechariah -> Eric Newhill... , 21 June 2019 at 10:54 AM
Eric Newhill,
IMO,it is the izzies who are pushing for the destruction of Iran, with their BS about Amalek, their god-given title to Palestine, and their attempts to re-mold the ME in their image. The presence of Nasrallah&Co. and their rocket forces-mostly supplied by Iran-is the primary issue. Most of the current ills of the ME can be traced to the izzies. Think Syria.
While there is no doubt that US can pound Iran into the stone age without really working a sweat, she probably would not have gotten off w/o a few bruises for her pains. In addition, more importantly in my view, the izzies might have also gotten a few surprises.
My friends were glad to end last night with no emergencies on their watch. We were all very, very worried.
Ishmael Zechariah
joanna said in reply to Eric Newhill... , 21 June 2019 at 10:59 AM
yes, still playing guitar?

https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Iran/Pages/default.aspx

And what would you personally consider as more urgent, the inner US bolshevik threat the ones that made the deal or the outer Iranian one?

eakens said in reply to Eric Newhill... , 21 June 2019 at 11:49 AM
Flying a plane into their territory, getting shot down, and then not attacking and calling it an opportunity to deescalate. That's rich. The only thing these whole farcical attempt at diplomacy has proven from the day the deal was denounced as being a bad deal is that those at the top know little of Iran and Iranians. Nor do we want to know, since virtually every time I watch TV and they bring on an "expert" to talk about Iran, they are not only not Iranian but half the time Jewish.
Eric Newhill said in reply to eakens... , 21 June 2019 at 12:58 PM
eakens,
How do you know where the drone was when it was shot down? How do you know where the plane was?
robt willmann , 21 June 2019 at 09:28 AM
Trump has come out through the usual direct communication channel, saying the reason he called off a strike was that casualties were certain to occur and thus would not be proportionate to an unmanned drone--

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1142055375186907136

Bill Wade , 21 June 2019 at 09:28 AM
"On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!" Pres Trump tweet
Andrei Martyanov (aka SmoothieX12) -> Eric Newhill... , 21 June 2019 at 01:25 PM
Yes. Trump is more cool headed than a lot of people give him credit for being.

His actions have nothing to do with him being cool headed. He is very confused man as of today. But in this particular case we all may be thankful for none other than Tucker Carlson who, if to believe number of American sources, does advise Trump and that, in itself, is a really good news for everyone on the planet. In fact, if Trump wants second term, among many things he ought to do is to remove Bolton and appoint Tucker his NSA. Carlson surely is way more qualified for this job than Bolton. Come to think about it, Tucker could make a decent Secretary of the State too.

HawkOfMay , 21 June 2019 at 09:48 AM
I've always felt that President Trump is impulsive and that impulsiveness is one of the things that makes him unfit to be President. My question is not 'did he order airstrikes'. My question is 'did an adult in the room step in' or 'did he actually change his mind'. I suspect the answer to that question will break down along the typical partisan lines.

It does make clear that he has no overall plan or strategy in place. These actions demonstrate that our President is unpredictable. While unpredictability has its own value (perhaps especially in the political arena) I don't want to see miscalculations creep in when we are talking about getting involved in a new war in the ME.

Eugene Owens , 21 June 2019 at 10:03 AM
I thank Generals Dunford and Selva at the JCS for putting the brakes on Moron Bolton and SecState Pompous. Particularly General Selva who says protecting oil shipments thru the Strait is not our job; and who also pushed back hard against escalation in Venezuela in late April.

https://www.businessinsider.com/paul-selva-john-bolton-aides-meeting-venezuela-2019-5

https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2019/06/18/dont-expect-the-us-to-secure-arabian-gulf-shipping-alone-top-general-says/

Eugene Owens , 21 June 2019 at 10:11 AM
fotokemist & Ted Richard -

The ships and aircraft of all nations, including warships, auxiliaries, and military aircraft, enjoy the right of unimpeded transit passage in the Strait and its approaches.

That is true elsewhere also. The international legal regime of transit passage exists not only at the Strait of Hormuz but also in the Strait of Gibraltar, the Dover Strait, the Bab-el-Mandeb, and the Strait of Malacca.

Fred , 21 June 2019 at 10:33 AM
Walrus,

Looks like impeachment for Russian collusion is off the table, Joe 'foot in mouth' Biden gets some cover and even Democrats in congress are talking about how the AUMF is outdated. Fixing the later, well that would take Pelosi allowing some legislation to come up for a vote.

Flavius , 21 June 2019 at 11:14 AM
Prudent move by the President. It is encouraging that he put in play the concept of proportionality. Although the scale of challenge represented by Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and the Pueblo in 68 exceeded this event, Trump's reasoning in this situation demonstrated a level of akin sobriety that has all too frequently been lacking in the course of the last three presidencies. The lunatic fringes will no doubt find some way to undercut him, the left for their usual obscene political reasons and the neo-cons because they are neo-cons in service to their 'higher calling' but Trump by now has become accustomed to the craven antics of former; and hopefully this unfolding will so contrast his reasoning with the reasoning of his card carrying neo-con advisors that he will realize he needs to clean house for the next time.
jon stanley said in reply to Flavius... , 21 June 2019 at 03:54 PM
What "challenge" in Hungry? Ike made it clear, in 1944, never mind 1956, where our sphere of interest was. There was never any doubt in Ike's mind, anyway. And who had enough gravitas and knowledge to try and talk him out of his views? Czechoslovakia in 1968? Come on...we were a bit, cough, cough, distracted in 1968. That was never in question either. Pueblo? Come on..
blue peacock , 21 June 2019 at 01:15 PM
Jack posted an interesting tweet on another thread. It seems there may also be an alternate explanation on why Trump called off the attacks.

Apparently Iran was informed of the imminent attacks. They responded through Oman & Switzerland that they wouldn't play ball and any attack would escalate.

It is high time for Trump to eject the neocons from his administration.

Mark Logan , 21 June 2019 at 03:17 PM
There was a palpable lack of enthusiasm for a new war on FOX's programs last night.

IMO unless Trump comes to believe his re-election chances would be enhanced by a new war or the IRG conducts ops too violent to be ignored he is likely to keep it holstered.

[Jun 21, 2019] Is The U.S. Going To War With Iran

Youtube video...
May 28, 2019 | AJ+

Iran has been abiding by the nuclear agreement. So why does it feel like the Trump administration is edging the United States towards a war? #iran #iransanctions #trump


Jack Roth , 3 weeks ago

Israel is the biggest winner if USA goes to war with IRAN

Starman , 2 weeks ago

Ironic, politicians don't do any of the fighting but their soldiers do. The soliders don't know why are fighting and get killed, politicians do know why they are fighting but don't get killed. "War: A massacre of people who don't know each other for the profit of people who know each other but don't massacre each other" Paul Valery

Ali raza , 3 weeks ago

Saudi Arabia has made another 8 billion dollars weapon agreement with US. That means No WAR threat now till then next purchase agreement.

Tyler M , 5 hours ago (edited)

Its the old men who declare war but its are young men and woman that must face danger and death!!!god bless American armed forces!

Dunking Donut , 19 seconds ago

With America and Iran goes against each other, Iran will lose really bad because America is so big and stronger compare to a small country

Surrealist Idealist , 3 weeks ago

Bolton is such a traitorous, power-worshipping coward. He can only lie to himself about it by bullying others.

young yahye , 2 weeks ago

I feel bad for the brainwashed American citizens From school to military to sleeping ships that are entertained with consumption Very dumbed down society

Teta _98 , 1 day ago

Iran isn't easy USA they are not Iraq or Afghanistan .. USA will do very big mistake

Jai Nepal , 3 days ago div tabindex="0" role="article

"> This whole situation, is Americas last stand along with Saudi and their local cousins in Israel to maintain the Petro dollar system which , if Iran could trade its resources equitably would be finished...This is the system that pays for the thousands of US military bases surrounding China, Russia ,Iran etc...

that provides billions of dollars to maintain Israeli nuclear and military superiority in Palestine and Western Asia

..and maintains the Saudi monopoly and high crude prices, and so the Saudi dictator monarchist establishment...

Nobody is claiming Iran is perfect, yet lets see this for what it is..as with Trumps attacks , tariffs and sanctions leveled across global trade and industry...The desperate actions of a dying empire...

William Hanson , 3 hours ago

There is a reason is the Obama administration went back to negotiating. To keep them Iran busy while it was launching the Stuxnet Virus on the industrial control systems in Iran. Watch the documentary Zero Days. It is extremely eye opening.

VITA kyo , 1 day ago

BUSINESS IS WAR & WAR IS THE BEST BUSINESS .

JJ Sundra , 7 hours ago (edited) div tabindex="0" r

ole="article"> The World should stand together to stop this kind of bullying....! The Trump administration had already planned ... that it needs to invade IRAN to choke China, Korea, Japan & now India who gets their Oil from Iran. The unilateral tearing up of an International Agreement is evidenced that US will rather this World go to Hell and to give-up its No. 1 place in Commerce and Defence. This kind of arrogance & "superiorority" attitude is dangerous for one who claims the title "Sherif - of-the - World"..! USA via the Trump Administration is HELL BENT on invading IRAN. The tearing-up and dishonouring the wishes of the International Community in order to provoke IRAN to retaliate by also NOT complying with the provisions of the said Agreement is evidence that the USA had already decided to invade IRAN. They nearly did invade last year but probably decided that they can conspire to create more incidents to justify their attack. AN INVASION ON IRAN IS PRICELESS TO USA.... WHY..? 1) They get to plunder USD Tens/Hundreds of Trillions to enrich THEIR coffers/ economy. 2) IRAN has the 2nd largest oil reserves. Rebrand the Oil as "American Oil".. 3) Take control of the most important shipment ports in the world with regards to Oil Commodity.. 4) Get rid of Out-dsted Military wears and bill them to Saudi at a premium. 5) Introduce their latest Military Wears to the World and again Bill them to Saudi at a double premium ;and. - to get new orders from other countries. - to send a message to China of USA's military capabilities.. 6) To Warn China that it has a penchant to settle issues through the Military if negotiations do not work in favour of the USA.. 7) Choke East Asian countries who are a threat to USA's No. 1 position. 8 ) Take another step towards acknowledging ISREALS legitimate presence of the Middle East. 9) To help Isreal fulfill their prophesy to take control of the Middle East. Saudi will not know, what hits them when the time comes. 10) There is another 3 more serious points but I will leave it to you guys to challenge yourself to decipher it. 11) To put onto action his perspectives, opinion & views while he can, should he not be elected next Term. And if Trump is able to control the War, he will be popular enough to be elected next term. Or if the War gets out of hand, then the US Presidential Elections may be postpone. Therefore this invasion may be his best chance to continue on as President. THEREFORE, UNLESS THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY STEPS IN AND STRONGLY OBJECT TO THIS BULLYING... ;;; AMERICA WILL INVADE IRAN.....! USA PROVE ME & THE WORLD WRONG....

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=233793277040432&ev=PageView&noscript=1"/> <img height="1" width="1" src="https://api.pymx5.com/v1/sites/track?event_type=PAGE_VIEW&noscript=1"/> <style>.woocommerce-product-gallery{ opacity: 1 !important; }</style>

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Jun 21, 2019] Pentagon announces $250 million in military aid to Ukraine

Jun 18, 2019 | www.rt.com

The US will provide Ukraine with $250 million worth of military equipment, training and support, the Pentagon announced, saying Ukraine's Navy and marines would be among the beneficiaries.

The Ukrainian military will get sniper rifles, grenade launchers, counter-battery radar systems, night vision equipment and communication devices, the Pentagon statement said...

The statement said the package will bring total US security assistance to Ukraine to $1.5 billion since 2014, when a US-backed coup in Kiev ousted Ukraine's elected government.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@139 Zach

I'll answer that: ZERO TOLERANCE.

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

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

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

@161 circe

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

Hilarious stuff, though.

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

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

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

[Jun 20, 2019] Putin Says US Establishment Stops Trump From Improving Ties With Russia And 'Invents Fake News'

Jun 20, 2019 | www.newsweek.com

Russian president Vladimir Putin blamed the U.S. establishment for preventing an improvement in relations between Moscow and Washington.

During his annual televised question-and-answer session with members of the public, Putin was asked about the prospects for better ties if he met with President Donald Trump.

The Russian energy Ministry's department head Evgeny Grabchak, who faces U.S. sanctions, asked Putin on air if he would "want to meet with Trump."

Putin replied that dialogue with the U.S. was "always good" adding that Russia was "ready for this dialogue as long as our partners were too."

Putin went on: "But even if Trump wants to change anything, there are restrictions imposed by other organs of power. There is a part of the American establishment that continues to invent fake news. We have things to discuss with Trump in all areas, including the economy," Novaya Gazyeta reported.

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

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

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

Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

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

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

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

Who is Lula?

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

Why was Lula arrested?

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

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

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

Is there evidence against Lula?

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

Who convicted Lula?

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

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

Should Lula have been allowed to run for president?

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

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

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

What was the real corruption in this case?

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article is from Tricontinental .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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