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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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Debt enslavement Greece debt enslavement Ukraine debt enslavement Provisional government as an instrument for Ukraine's debt enslavement "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia Looting pays dividends to empire
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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
Victoria Nuland’s ‘Ukraine-gate’ Color revolutions Compradors NGOs as braintrust of color revolutions EuroMaidan The Far Right Forces in Ukraine as Trojan horse of neoliberalism Narcissism as Key American Value
Resurgence of ideology of neo-fascism Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Machiavellism Right to protect Big Uncle is Watching You Industrial Espionage
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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 the government is authoritarian (unlike the puppets they want to install), and use extraordinary powers to mandate austerity, burden them with debt 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 interest. 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).

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 civilise 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 imperial-ist project, spearheaded by the alliance between the US ruling class and locally dominant capitalist coalitions. This ambitious power project centred 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 agenoa. limits the possibie 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" is close to the the plato,  financial system gets into trouble: private banks based fractional reserve banking requires economy expansion for survival.  And they add positive feedback loop to the economy, greatly increasing the instability. So 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 can serve as a substitute for 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. Drop of standard of living of Ukraine to the level of the most poor countries of Africa  (less then $2 a day for the majority of population) is pretty instructive here.   That is the main domestic cost, as long as there as there is a common world price for fuels and minerals, consumer goods, food and even credit. As wages are sticky and it is difficult to reduced then directly (via high unemployment, leading to falling wages), 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 24 grivna to dollar or approximately 300%.

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” to put foreign creditors first, above the national economy.

Buying natural monopolies in transportation, communications, and the land from the public domain for pennies on the dollar is called "rescue package", not the road to debt peonage and a financial neo-feudalism that looms as a grim reality. Let me state it very simply : "the borrower [debtor] is SERVANT to the lender".

"the borrower [debtor] is SERVANT to the lender".

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

At the same time then comes to bailing out bankers who overplayed with derivatives, 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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[Apr 20, 2018] Stench of hypocrisy British 'war on terror' strategic ties with radical Islam by John Wight

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... British governments, both Labour and Conservative, have, in pursuing the so-called 'national interest' abroad, colluded for decades with radical Islamic forces, including terrorist organizations. They have connived with them, worked alongside them and sometimes trained and financed them, in order to promote specific foreign policy objectives. Governments have done so in often desperate attempts to maintain Britain's global power in the face of increasing weakness in key regions of the world, being unable to unilaterally impose their will and lacking other local allies. Thus the story is intimately related to that of Britain's imperial decline and the attempt to maintain influence in the world. ..."
"... But whereas Sharif Hussein was a follower of orthodox Sunni Islam, Ibn Saud adhered to the radical doctrine of Wahhabism, which Winston Churchill was moved to describe as " bloodthirsty ..."
"... British support for the mujahideen, married to the huge support provided by Washington, was indispensable in the eventual success of these self-styled 'holy warriors' in taking control of a country that had embraced modernity and turning it into a failed state mired in religious oppression, brutality, backwardness and poverty. ..."
"... Britain, along with the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, covertly supported the resistance to defeat the Soviet occupation of the country. Military, financial and diplomatic backing was given to Islamist forces which, while forcing a Soviet withdrawal, soon organized themselves into terrorist networks ready to strike Western targets. ..."
"... Islamic resistance ..."
"... We trust the Western leaders are prepared for the enormous beneficial possibilities that could just possibly open up if the Afghan rebellion were to succeed. ..."
"... Manchester, England is home to the largest Libyan community in Britain, and there is strong evidence to suggest that when the Libyan uprising broke out MI6 facilitated the ability of Libyan Islamists in Britain to travel to Libya to participate in the fighting. Among them was Salman Abedi, who it is thought received military training in the country before being allowed to return to the UK thereafter. ..."
"... This brings us on to Syria and, as with Libya, the question of how so many British Muslims have been able to travel from the UK to Syria via Turkey to take part in the anti-Assad insurgency since 2011? It also brings into sharp focus a policy that has veered between the ludicrous and the reckless. ..."
"... As for the recklessness of Britain's actions in Syria, look no further than the country's recent participation in the illegal missile strikes that were carried out in conjunction with the US and France, justified on the basis of as yet unproven allegations that Syrian government forces had carried out a chemical weapons attack on Douma, just outside Damascus. The only beneficiaries of such actions by the Western powers are Salafi-jihadist groups such as ISIS (whom it was later reported took advantage of the missile strike to mount a short-lived offensive), Al-Nusra and Jaysh al-Islam. ..."
"... The latter of those groups, Jaysh al-Islam, is a Saudi proxy. It was the dominant group in Douma and throughout Eastern Ghouta until the district's liberation by the Syrian Army and its allies with Russian support. ..."
Apr 20, 2018 | www.rt.com

Britain's strategic relationship with radical Islam goes back decades and continues to this day. There is no more foul a stench than the stench of hypocrisy, and there is no more foul a hypocrisy than the British government painting Bashar al-Assad as a monster when in truth he and the Syrian people have been grappling with a twin-headed monster in the shape of Salafi-jihadi terror and Western imperialism. Both are committed to destroying Syria as an independent, non-sectarian state, and both are inextricably linked.

Author and journalist Mark Curtis charts in detail the contours of this history in his book 'Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam':

" British governments, both Labour and Conservative, have, in pursuing the so-called 'national interest' abroad, colluded for decades with radical Islamic forces, including terrorist organizations. They have connived with them, worked alongside them and sometimes trained and financed them, in order to promote specific foreign policy objectives. Governments have done so in often desperate attempts to maintain Britain's global power in the face of increasing weakness in key regions of the world, being unable to unilaterally impose their will and lacking other local allies. Thus the story is intimately related to that of Britain's imperial decline and the attempt to maintain influence in the world. "

As far back as the First World War, when the Middle East began to assume strategic importance in the capitals of Western imperial and colonial powers, the British ruling class went out of its way to identify and recruit loyal local proxies in pursuit of its regional objectives. Britain's relationship with the Arab tribal chief, Ibn Saud, who would go on to establish Saudi Arabia in the early 1930s, began in 1915 with the Darin Pact, demarcating the territory then controlled by Saud as a British protectorate.

The following year, the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans erupted. Begun and inspired by Saud's fierce rival, Sharif Hussein, head of the Hashemite Arab tribe, the revolt was heavily bankrolled and supported by the British – a period immortalized in the exploits of British military agent T E Lawrence, known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia.

But whereas Sharif Hussein was a follower of orthodox Sunni Islam, Ibn Saud adhered to the radical doctrine of Wahhabism, which Winston Churchill was moved to describe as " bloodthirsty " and " intolerant ." Regardless, when it came to its imperial interests there was no tiger upon whose back the British ruling class was not willing to ride during this period, and which, as events have proved, it has not been willing to ride since.

The most egregious example of this policy, one that continues to have ramifications today, was the support provided by the UK to the Afghan mujahideen in the late 1970s and 1980s. The insurgency's objective was the overthrow of Kabul's secular and left-leaning government, whose crime in the eyes of the Islamist insurgency's US and UK sponsors was that it had embraced the social and economic model of Moscow rather than Washington during the first Cold War.

British support for the mujahideen, married to the huge support provided by Washington, was indispensable in the eventual success of these self-styled 'holy warriors' in taking control of a country that had embraced modernity and turning it into a failed state mired in religious oppression, brutality, backwardness and poverty.

Mark Curtis again:

" Britain, along with the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, covertly supported the resistance to defeat the Soviet occupation of the country. Military, financial and diplomatic backing was given to Islamist forces which, while forcing a Soviet withdrawal, soon organized themselves into terrorist networks ready to strike Western targets. "

While Washington's primary role in channeling military and financial support to the Afghan mujahideen, known as Operation Cyclone , may until have succeeded in overshadowing London's role in this dirty war, declassified British government cabinet papers which were made public in 2010 and reported in the UK media make grim reading.

They reveal that three weeks after Soviet forces arrived in Afghanistan at the request of the Afghan government in Kabul, struggling to deal with an insurgency that had broken out in the countryside, the Thatcher government was planning to supply military aid to the " Islamic resistance ." A confidential government memo provides a chilling insight into the insanity that passed for official policy: " We trust the Western leaders are prepared for the enormous beneficial possibilities that could just possibly open up if the Afghan rebellion were to succeed. "

It will be recalled that out of the ensuing collapse of Afghanistan emerged the Taliban, under whose rule the country was turned into a vast militant jihadist school and training camp. Many of the most notorious Islamist terrorists began their careers there, fighting the Soviets and then later broadening out their activities to other parts of the region and wider world. In this regard, Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda loom large.

Other notorious names from the world of Salafi-jihadism for whom Afghanistan proved indispensable include the Jordanian Abu al-Zarqawi, who founded Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) during the US-UK occupation, an organization that would over time morph into ISIS.

Abdelhakim Belhaj and other Libyan Islamists cut their jihadist teeth in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Returning to Libya, they formed the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in the eastern city of Benghazi. Though the group may have been disbanded in 2010, having failed to topple Gaddafi despite repeated attempts to assassinate the Libyan leader with, it's been claimed , the support of Britain's MI6, former members of the LIFG, including Belhaj, were important actors in the 2011 Libyan uprising.

By way of a reminder, the uprising in Libya started in Benghazi and would not have succeeded without the air support it received from NATO. Britain's then prime minister, David Cameron, was key in pushing for that air support and the sanction of the UN under the auspices of Security Council Resolution 1973. Though protecting civilians was central in wording of this UNSC resolution, it was shamefully distorted to justify regime change, culminating in Gaddafi's murder by the 'rebels.'

Staying with the LIFG, in the wake of the Manchester suicide-bomb attack in May 2017, which left 23 people dead and 500 injured, the fact that the bomber, a young Libyan by the name of Salman Abedi, was the son of a former member of the LIFG, did not receive anything like the media attention it should have at the time.

Manchester, England is home to the largest Libyan community in Britain, and there is strong evidence to suggest that when the Libyan uprising broke out MI6 facilitated the ability of Libyan Islamists in Britain to travel to Libya to participate in the fighting. Among them was Salman Abedi, who it is thought received military training in the country before being allowed to return to the UK thereafter.

This brings us on to Syria and, as with Libya, the question of how so many British Muslims have been able to travel from the UK to Syria via Turkey to take part in the anti-Assad insurgency since 2011? It also brings into sharp focus a policy that has veered between the ludicrous and the reckless.

Emblematic of the former was ex-prime minister David Cameron's claim , which he made during a 2015 Commons debate over whether the Royal Air Force should engage in air strikes against ISIS in Syria, that fighting as part of the Syrian were 70,000 moderates.

As for the recklessness of Britain's actions in Syria, look no further than the country's recent participation in the illegal missile strikes that were carried out in conjunction with the US and France, justified on the basis of as yet unproven allegations that Syrian government forces had carried out a chemical weapons attack on Douma, just outside Damascus. The only beneficiaries of such actions by the Western powers are Salafi-jihadist groups such as ISIS (whom it was later reported took advantage of the missile strike to mount a short-lived offensive), Al-Nusra and Jaysh al-Islam.

The latter of those groups, Jaysh al-Islam, is a Saudi proxy. It was the dominant group in Douma and throughout Eastern Ghouta until the district's liberation by the Syrian Army and its allies with Russian support.

Given the deep and longstanding ties between London and Riyadh; given the fact, reported towards the end of 2017, that British military personnel were embedded in a training role with Saudi forces in Yemen; given the news that a British special forces sergeant was killed in northern Syria at the end of March this year while embedded with the Kurds, revealing for the first time that British troops were operating in the country on the ground – given all that, the question of who else British special forces and military personnel may be embedded with in Syria is legitimate.

In the context of the British state's long and sordid history when it comes to riding the back of radical Islam in pursuit of its strategic objectives, readers will doubtless draw their own conclusions.

Read more

John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1

[Apr 19, 2018] Jews vs non-Jews in Trump administration

It is much better to view this issue in ideological terms as neocons and neoliberalas and remnant of paleoconservatives and News Dealers.
Notable quotes:
"... Jews are a powerful voice but they are, by and large, not in the decision-making seat. Why do you absolve Trump, Haley, Pence, Bolton, etc.? Maybe they are "brainwashed" by the Jews? Well maybe the Jews are "brainwashed" too? ..."
Apr 19, 2018 | www.unz.com

CalDre , April 18, 2018 at 10:46 pm GMT

@Art

Today, America's Big Jews and Little Jews bear responsibility for this sad situation – end of story.

That is simply ignorant and racist. Most of the Senate is not Jews, the President is not a Jew, the Secretary of Defense is not a Jew, and the vast majority of general aren't Jews. Yet they are all going along with this "bomb Syria" thing, with a few exceptions – one of them being Bernie Sanders, a Jew.

Jews are a powerful voice but they are, by and large, not in the decision-making seat. Why do you absolve Trump, Haley, Pence, Bolton, etc.? Maybe they are "brainwashed" by the Jews? Well maybe the Jews are "brainwashed" too?

I don't see how you get to selectively blame one group and absolve others except via ignorant, counterproductive and stupid racism.

By the way, Jerry Brown is a huge advocate of open borders and a primary contributor to it. Is he a Jew too?

It's fair and honorable to point out the Jewish role in these affairs, but it is just as unfair and dishonorable to not only ignore, but try to bury, the non-Jewish role in these affairs.

I agree with "think peace" – but the non-Jews Trump, Pence, Ryan, Haley, Pompeo, etc. are anything but peaceful. I don't see any Jewish guns to their head, so they are 100% responsible for their own actions. Why do you excuse them? Hmmm?

[Apr 19, 2018] Merkel is a CIA asset. She has skeletons in her closet from her time in East Germany, and her meteoric rise to power was clearly engineered by a third party she herself lacked both the experience and the power base within the party for doing it herself

Judging from German press, Germany really looks like a US colony, not even vassal state.
Notable quotes:
"... She was promoted over Kohl's natural successor, Schaeuble, who was discredited using comparatively trifling allegations of accepting improper donations (aka bribes) on behalf of the party. ..."
"... Merkel has betrayed German interests at every turn, most blatantly in the context of the Greek debt fiasco and the refugee fake crisis. She goes along with imposing sanctions on Russia, which hurts export-oriented Germany like no other Western country. ..."
"... Merkel's selection as chancellor does not explain why German electorate keep electing her party as majority, which then is in the position to name her as chancellor. German people have been lobotomized and neutered after decades of Soros-Neocon brainwashing. ..."
Apr 19, 2018 | www.unz.com

WorkingClass , April 17, 2018 at 2:47 pm GMT

The most interesting aspect of this false response to a false flag attack is the non participation by Germany. Turkey has one foot in both camps. Germany will be next to turn. Time is working against Imperial Washington.

Mike P , April 18, 2018 at 5:50 pm GMT

@WorkingClass

German expat here.

Merkel is a CIA asset. She has skeletons in her closet from her time in East Germany, and her meteoric rise to power was clearly engineered by a third party -- she herself lacked both the experience and the power base within the party for doing it herself. She was promoted over Kohl's natural successor, Schaeuble, who was discredited using comparatively trifling allegations of accepting improper donations (aka bribes) on behalf of the party.

Merkel has betrayed German interests at every turn, most blatantly in the context of the Greek debt fiasco and the refugee fake crisis. She goes along with imposing sanctions on Russia, which hurts export-oriented Germany like no other Western country. At the same time, the "ultra-right" (i.e. common sense) party "Alternative fuer Deutschland" is forever mired in ridiculous infighting, which regularly escalates just ahead of elections -- funny how that is. Must be those meddling Russians.

Long story short, hell will freeze over before Merkel decides herself what is for breakfast, never mind for policy. I wish we could clone Putin and import him.

Avery , April 18, 2018 at 6:30 pm GMT
@Mike P

Merkel's selection as chancellor does not explain why German electorate keep electing her party as majority, which then is in the position to name her as chancellor. German people have been lobotomized and neutered after decades of Soros-Neocon brainwashing.

There is no other explanation for people who are committing slow self-extermination as a distinct ethnos. Same with the French electorate: they had a chance to elect a true French patriot and instead chose another globalist weirdo poodle.

Mike P , April 18, 2018 at 7:49 pm GMT
@Avery

Merkel's party has no majority – actually her party's share of the vote is at historic lows with less than one third (traditionally it was 45-50%). She has moved that formerly conservative party to the left by co-opting green and welfare agendas of the competing parties. The other formerly strong party, the Social Democrats, have been reduced to a status of auxiliaries in an eternal "grand coalition". In spite of infighting, the new "right-wing" AfD came in third in the last elections.

But of course, as you say, the people's failure to get rid of her is due in large measure to relentless media brainwashing, they swallow the refugee nonsense because it is subliminally suggested that it atones for the "holocaust" etc. I don't read a single German newspaper anymore, the manure is just too depressing.

Sean , April 18, 2018 at 8:39 pm GMT
@Mike P

Militarily subsidised by Nato, Germany spends next to nothing on its own defence and is keeping wages down even more than usual by importing immigrants, thereby aiding its deindustrialising of the rest of the EU. Russia is declining in national power compared to Germany by getting into silly pissing contests with America. Adolf Hitler always said it would be necessary to sacrifice millions of Germans to make Germany Great. He would approve of Merkel.

Mike P , April 18, 2018 at 9:47 pm GMT
@Sean

What keeps German wages down, in real terms, is the Euro, not the migrants.

You are correct on the neglect of the armed forces. I have griped about it often, but I have recently changed my tune. If the forces were indeed up to snuff, this would only cause the U.S. to "ask" for their deployment in their many endless idiotic wars. Letting the troops degrade to some sort of war museum on wheels is a sly way of getting out of that – can't deploy in the short term, sorry, no spark plugs, but will be more than happy to go along for the next war so I now see this as one of the few things Merkel got right.

[Apr 19, 2018] The Corrupt U.S. Congress Cheers as the War Industry Steals Billions from the People's Coffers !

Apr 19, 2018 | www.unz.com

S. N. , April 19, 2018 at 12:43 am GMT

The Corrupt U.S. Congress Cheers as the War Industry Steals Billions from the People's Coffers !

Christian Sorensen | April 13, 2018

"Missile Production Capacity

In February, Newsbud reported on the war industry increasing its capacity to produce Hellfire missiles.

Capacity to produce other missile types is expanding as well.

On 6 March 2018, BAE Systems received close to $13.7 million to help increase production capacity of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS). With its headquarters in London, BAE Systems links the U.K. war industry to the United States, effectively underpinning the 'special relationship' between the two countries.

On 19 March 2018, Raytheon received roughly $7.8 million to improve the production capacity of AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. Steps Raytheon might take to increase missile production include adding more equipment, altering staffing levels, and upgrading its facilities.

The war industry has been operating at full steam for the past seventeen years. Now, these contracts tell us, the boardrooms of prominent war industry giants believe there is reason to produce more Hellfire, APKWS, and Sidewinder missiles. Is it war with Iran? A bigger offensive against President Assad's forces in Syria? Conflict in Korea?

The U.S. war industry is expecting more sustained, high-tempo hostilities in the near future. You've been warned."

https://www.newsbud.com/2018/04/13/the-corrupt-u-s-congress-cheers-as-the-war-industry-steals-billions-from-the-peoples-coffers/

[Apr 19, 2018] Mad madam prostitute Nick Halley has to be soothed by Kudlow telling her she was not a demented rat.

Notable quotes:
"... So a choreographed coordinated attack works for Iran. Trump is happy. His base angry. His enemies can't go after him for few hours or days ..."
Apr 19, 2018 | www.unz.com

KA , April 19, 2018 at 1:53 am GMT

Iran doesn't want to escalate the situation and give Trump any leverage on Iran deal. Iran wants to deprive any moral political or legal supports from EU to USA on this. Trump pulls out. Rest remains same. This will give Iran moral political and legal authorities to pursue its nuclear program with China and Russia.

This will have domino effects on other areas of these 3 countries -- how to conduct business internationally.

So a choreographed coordinated attack works for Iran. Trump is happy. His base angry. His enemies can't go after him for few hours or days . Mad madam prostitute Nick Halley has to be soothed by Kudlow telling her she was not a demented rat.

[Apr 19, 2018] Looks like Pompeo is compete idiot despite hs Harvard degree

Apr 19, 2018 | www.unz.com

RJJCDA , April 19, 2018 at 12:03 am GMT

At Sec. St. nomination hearing, Pompeo bragged that "we had killed a couple of hundred Russian contractors." As a former civilian contractor in a war zone, I note that he just put a target on the forehead of every American contractor working in a war zone. It is now open season on them. Who will have blood on their hands?

[Apr 18, 2018] Russia, China, Iran and others are increasingly concerned with curtailing the damage that the US can still inflict

Notable quotes:
"... The clearing of Ghouta puts a serious dent in this plan. Demoralizing the population of Damascus is now almost impossible. ..."
Apr 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Jackrabbit , Apr 18, 2018 11:59:00 AM | 145
Don Bacon
PavewayIV

The West wins by making Syria a hell on earth. That means no reconstruction funding, no trade, and continuous harassment by "rebels".

The clearing of Ghouta puts a serious dent in this plan. Demoralizing the population of Damascus is now almost impossible.

But Lebanon is only about 15 miles from Damascus, and US/Israel would have to deal with Hez at some point anyway, so why not sooner rather than later?

Grieved | Apr 18, 2018 12:00:50 PM | 146

@131 WJ and 134 Don Bacon

I appreciate this discussion.

On a side note I would add that 3-4 years ago when Ukraine was boiling, much of the discussion by concerned people focused on countries outside of the US, and the damage caused by the US. The US, in this context, was largely regarded as an evil but coherent entity.

But that coherence has now come more and more into question. Discussion shifted gradually, as the US made more and more mistakes and lost battle after battle in so many theaters, and revealed itself as a failing actor. And in the last year or two there's much more discussion about the US itself, largely trying to pierce the obscurity of how that country is actually run and by whom. This shift was already happening, and Trump of course added to the fascination.

I was glad to see that gradual shift. To me it indicated the war itself was won, while many battles were yet to be fought. I think it's true that Russia, China, Iran and others are increasingly concerned with curtailing the damage that the US can still inflict. Every day they increase in actual, effective power, and the US decreases in that power. Yesterday's battle will be fought differently tomorrow, because the balance of that power will have shifted again by then.

Syria has been an enormously useful magnifying glass to show us so much about the relative power balances of many nations. And even as the US lashes out in its death throes, it is increasingly cornered and stymied. The same is true of Israel. It's reaching the point - if not already there - that every move made by the US will result in clear damage to itself, with no gain, and no damage to its targets.

The other side has had sufficient time to wargame countless contingencies, and think them through and make preparations for them. Increasingly, it gets to choose what damage to allow and what to stop, because the costs of every action have now been calculated - and the passage of time reduces the costs too, so the equation constantly updates.

This is true outside of Syria also, in all theaters and on many planes of activity.

[Apr 18, 2018] The US Deep State doesn't want to "conquer" any country. Then they'd have to pay the bill for the destruction they caused... think an actual Marshall Plan, not the Iraq and Afghan Debacles. It is not trying to "win". It is trying to destroy those countries' ability to function outside the iron-fist influence of the IMF/BIS

Notable quotes:
"... Trumpty Dumbdy is trapped, just trying to convince his base that he really is getting the US out ..."
Apr 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

A P | Apr 18, 2018 1:42:41 PM | 160

The US Deep State doesn't want to "conquer" any country. Then they'd have to pay the bill for the destruction they caused... think an actual Marshall Plan, not the Iraq and Afghan Debacles. It is not trying to "win". It is trying to destroy those countries' ability to function outside the iron-fist influence of the IMF/BIS/etc. banks/economy.

... ... ..

As for US operations in Syria being handed off "to others", i.e. to Prince's latest iteration of Blackwater/Xi/Academia, the last we heard of Erik was trying to sell a budget airforce/drone system to countries in Africa. What a joke.

Not going to happen in Syria, because Russia, Iran, Hezbolla and Syria would have no qualms about directly assaulting Prince's Kurd/Arab/Wahabbist mercenaries... Eric may be a self-serving parasite, but he's not stupid enough to directly take on the Russian military, or even the SAA for that matter. Especially with no NATO air cover...

Killary is not around to unilaterally impose a Libya-style no-fly-zone.

Trumpty Dumbdy is trapped, just trying to convince his base that he really is getting the US out of being Israel's and the Rothschilds' bitch, but that is not a potential reality.

It would involve dismantling the FED and cutting off the yearly $multi-billion military aid tap to Israel. I doubt he is smart or informed enough to comprehend the situation he is in. Any sane, intelligent person would walk away and tell the Zionist/Rothschild/Deep State to find another patsy.

[Apr 18, 2018] I would think the Pentagon would like to test the Russian defense systems, and the Russians can't be completely sorry they got the opportunity to see how those new systems worked under operational conditions. The winners are the arms manufacturers.

Apr 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Valtin | Apr 17, 2018 2:36:59 PM | 131

These skirmishes (not skirmishes to those who live or die because of them), even ones that are war crimes, as this was, seem to me to be in large part ways in which the major powers test out their combat systems. I would think the Pentagon would like to test the Russian defense systems, and the Russians can't be completely sorry they got the opportunity to see how those new systems worked under operational conditions. The winners are the arms manufacturers. The losers are everybody else.

[Apr 18, 2018] How dare Larry Kudlow suggest Nikki got confused!!!

Notable quotes:
"... "She's done a great job," Kudlow said of Haley. "She's a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that. But if you talk to Steve Mnuchin at Treasury and so forth, he will tell you the same thing. They're in charge of this. We have had sanctions. Additional sanctions are under consideration but not implemented, and that's all." ..."
Apr 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

dh | Apr 17, 2018 8:47:50 PM | 65

Confused!!! How dare Larry Kudlow suggest Nikki got confused!!!

>White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted more sanctions were merely under consideration. On Tuesday, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Haley "got ahead of the curve."

"She's done a great job," Kudlow said of Haley. "She's a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that. But if you talk to Steve Mnuchin at Treasury and so forth, he will tell you the same thing. They're in charge of this. We have had sanctions. Additional sanctions are under consideration but not implemented, and that's all."

Haley, speaking for the first time since the White House dialed back her claims, rejected the idea that she was confused.

"With all due respect, I don't get confused," Haley said in a statement read by Fox News' Dana Perino and confirmed by CBS News Tuesday.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/with-all-due-respect-i-dont-get-confused-nikki-haley-says-of-russia-sanctions/

[Apr 17, 2018] The Guardian view on bombing Syria: a decision for parliament. Editorial

Apr 17, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Theresa May's decision to authorise British military action over the skies of Syria by royal prerogative rather than obtaining the backing of parliament was the wrong thing to do. Even if the prime minister thinks it was done for the right reasons. It was wrong because the government's plans should have been articulated so that MPs could have had a chance to endorse – or reject – a motion to bomb Bashar al-Assad's weapons factories. It was wrong because there was no emergency – an exception used when after a debate MPs retrospectively endorsed action against Muammar Gaddafi's Libya . It was wrong because only prime ministers can recall parliament – and there was time to do so. It was wrong because decisions about how to police the unlawful use of weapons of mass destructive terror in Syria turn upon judgment rather than available facts.

Parliament is the best place to assess whether the use of military force serves the overall interests of a nation in such cases. This is especially true of a government without a majority of its own. Jeremy Corbyn's resurrection of an old idea for a war powers act , which would force the PM not to authorise the active and large-scale deployment of British forces overseas without the approval of the House of Commons, ought not to be dismissed.

But it should be accompanied by a wider recognition that the days of self-regulation of cabinet government are over. Observing the parliamentary convention would be better than creating an act where fractious disagreements over the precise nature of the circumstances in which the law is to be applied – especially in a situation as fluid and volatile as war – prevail.

[Apr 16, 2018] Syria: chemical weapons inspectors barred from Douma site

That's very suspicious. Do Brits try top prevent OPCW team getting to the site?
Apr 16, 2018 | www.theguardian.com
Russia and the Syrian regime have been accused by western diplomats of denying chemical weapons inspectors access to sites in the town of Douma, where an attack killed dozens and prompted US-led missile strikes over the weekend.

Russia and Syria had cited "pending security issues" before inspectors could deploy to the town outside Damascus, said Ahmet Üzümcü, the director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, at a meeting of the OPCW's executive council.

Syrian authorities were offering 22 people to interview as witnesses instead, he said, adding that he hoped "all necessary arrangements will be made to allow the team to deploy to Douma as soon as possible".

Meanwhile, the Trump administration delayed action on sanctions against Russians suspected of helping Syria's chemical weapons programme, contradicting remarks on Sunday by the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley.

[Apr 16, 2018] I suggest that Russia act as marginal producer and refuse to sell oil, gas or raw petroleum products for less than double the price of other suppliers.

Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

honestann Sun, 04/15/2018 - 21:58 Permalink

I suggest that Russia act as "marginal producer" and refuse to sell oil, gas or raw petroleum products for less than double the price of other suppliers.

All of a sudden... thing will change.

After the treatment Russia has gotten for the past year or more, they are more than justified to adopt this policy.

[Apr 16, 2018] In late March, the U.S. State Department warned European corporations that they will likely face penalties if they participate in the construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, on the grounds that the project undermines energy security in Europe

Apr 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

spyware-free -> Pernicious Gol Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:47 Permalink

What's going on?
Read this:
"In late March, the U.S. State Department warned European corporations that they will likely face penalties if they participate in the construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, on the grounds that "the project undermines energy security in Europe"

The Nord Stream 2 project and the denial of pipelines through Syria territory is what's eating at the zio-cons. This is power politics and Russia / China are too much of a threat.

Chupacabra-322 -> spyware-free Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:43 Permalink

@ spy,

March, 14, 2017:

The Russian central bank opened its first overseas office in Beijing on March 14, marking a step forward in forging a Beijing-Moscow alliance to bypass the US dollar in the global monetary system, and to phase-in a gold-backed standard of trade.

Apr 3 2017 - Europe approves Nordstream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany

April 6 2017 - need to attack Syria.

Coincidentally, with a new government a gas pipelin can be run from Qatar to Europe and cut-off Russian gas revenue.

Nord Stream 2 Project Gets Green Light From EU

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201704031052232006-nord-stream-eu-gas-pip ...

*Three Mediterranean EU countries and Israel agreed on Monday to continue pursuing the development of a gas pipeline ... EU countries and Israel ... April 3, 2017 ...*

EU, Israel agree to develop Eastern Mediterranean gas pipeline

https://www.rt.com/business/383410-eu-israel-mediterranean-gas-pipeline/

The Optics of the Inter National Geo Political Crises would suggest that The Criminal Oligarch Cabal Bankster Intelligence Deep State Crime Syndicate are going "All In."

Brace YourSelves.....

spyware-free -> Chupacabra-322 Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:52 Permalink

The petroyuan project is the key. It will smash the petrodollar zio-world. Saddam Hussien thought of doing that in the 80's by consolidating Arab oil into a basket of currencies backed by gold. The problem for him was he was a disposable puppet and not able to defend that project. China and Russia are a different matter. It's driving the zios batty.

Chupacabra-322 -> spyware-free Sun, 04/15/2018 - 18:43 Permalink

And, the Yuan is now in the IMF basket of SDR's. Ultimately, the Petro Dollar will meet its demise & it will be decided by which is the cleanest, dirtiest shirt to put on among the SDR's.

[Apr 16, 2018] Trump Hits Russia With New Sanctions Over Syria Gas Attack

Apr 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Occams_Razor_Trader Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:32 Permalink

Lindsey Graham with tits. Those who want war never have to fight it!

FBaggins -> Occams_Razor_Trader Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:33 Permalink

I Am a Syrian Living in Syria: "It was Never a Revolution nor a Civil War. The Terrorists are sent by your Government"

American People, Please Help Us

by Mark Taliano

https://www.globalresearch.ca/i-am-a-syrian-living-in-syria-it-was-neve

Adolph.H. -> FBaggins Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:34 Permalink

It would be legitimate to wonder if the U.S. MIC will stealthily add to the long list of sanctimonious sanctions the interdiction for any western vassal state to buy the vastly superior Russian weapon systems in a not so distant future. One can feel it coming. Needless to say this kind of short sighted vision will be the straw that will break the camel's back.

These sanctions are ultimately going to hurt more the USA than Russia because little by little countries are leaving the American sphere of influence for the more balanced and reasonable Eurasian one. Nobody wants to stay with a maniac like Nikki or a fool like trump...

The Americans will be begging to be integrated once they hit the bottom.

[Apr 16, 2018] BREAKING US media claims Nikki Haley is author of Trump's anti-Iran policies

Notable quotes:
"... Haley is known to be among the most hardened neo-cons in the Trump administration, with strong ties to the anti-Iranian American Israel lobby. ..."
"... Nikki Haley has often defied the moderate voice of Rex Tillerson and even James "Mad Dog" Mattis on a number of issues. Haley for example has repeatedly said that 'Assad must go', while Tillerson and Mattis have been far more realistic about the fact that President Assad will in all likelihood, continue to govern Syria for the foreseeable future. ..."
"... Nikki Haley also famously said that Russians cannot be trusted, while Rex Tillerson has worked closely (albeit usually through phone calls rather than grandiose public meetings) with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and was seen as instrumental in creating the joint Russian-US-Jordanian de-escalation zone in south western Syria. ..."
Oct 14, 2017 | theduran.com

The claims give insight into Trump's apparent defiance of his most senior Cabinet officials, Rex Tillerson and James "Mad Dog" Mattis.

by Adam , 14:09 4.8k Views

The US media outlet Politico has published claims based on internal White House leaks, which report that the controversial US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is the author of Trump's anti-JCPOA and broader anti-Iran policies, which were conveyed in his speech form the White House, yesterday evening.

Everything you need to know about Trump's de-certification of the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal)

http://theduran.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-trumps-de-certification-of-the-jcpoa-iran-nuclear-deal/embed/#?secret=xaZPdRsyGp

Haley is known to be among the most hardened neo-cons in the Trump administration, with strong ties to the anti-Iranian American Israel lobby. Her role as US Ambassador has been far more public than that of most of her predecessors. Many, including myself, suspect that Haley who has no previous foreign policy experience, is using her position at the UN to promote a future entry into elected politics at a Federal level.

President of the United States Nikki Haley–it could happen

http://theduran.com/president-of-the-united-states-nikki-haley-it-could-happen/embed/#?secret=93g295S6zE

According to Politico, in July of this year, Trump grudgingly certified the JCPOA under advice from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis. However, at the time, Haley was said to have volunteered to author an argument which could be employed in the future, which would attempt to justify a US de-certification of the JCPOA.

Politico reports ,

"At a mid-day meeting in the Oval Office in late July, U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley came to President Donald Trump with an offer.

Trump had grudgingly declared Tehran in compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal earlier in the month, at the urging of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Trump hated the deal. But the two men pushed him to certify it, arguing in part that he lacked a strong case for declaring Iran in violation. A refusal to do so would have looked rash, they said, convincing Trump sign off for another 90 days.

Haley, in that July meeting, which also included National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Vice President Mike Pence, asked the president to let her make the case for decertification

'Let me lay a foundation for it', she said, according a source familiar with the proceedings. The president agreed.

Haley would become the administration's most vocal public proponent of decertification -- and Trump's favorite internal voice on Iran -- further boosting her standing with the president at a time when she is seen as a potential successor to Tillerson, whose tense relationship with Trump has burst into the open in recent days.

A month after her talk with Trump, Haley flew to Vienna to visit the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Association, where she pressed officials about Iranian compliance with the deal. Soon after, she delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., airing her "doubts and concerns" about the agreement.

Haley's role was described by a half-dozen administration officials who took part in the Iran policy review. While many of the president's cabinet members, aides, and advisers work to restrain his impulses, when it came to Iran deal Haley did the opposite -- channeling what many Democrats and even some Republicans consider the president's destructive instincts into policy".

The story from Politico which also argues that arch neo-con John Bolton pushed for a full withdrawal from the JCPOA from his position outside of the White House, follows may well known trends. This helps explain why Mattis recently stated that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA and why Rex Tilleron's State Department has officially said the same.

Nikki Haley has often defied the moderate voice of Rex Tillerson and even James "Mad Dog" Mattis on a number of issues. Haley for example has repeatedly said that 'Assad must go', while Tillerson and Mattis have been far more realistic about the fact that President Assad will in all likelihood, continue to govern Syria for the foreseeable future.

She has also echoed Donald Trump's aggressive statements about North Korea, whereas Rex Tillerson has often repeated his view that the US does not and should not seek regime change in Pyongyang and instead will continue to pursue a diplomatic process.

Nikki Haley also famously said that Russians cannot be trusted, while Rex Tillerson has worked closely (albeit usually through phone calls rather than grandiose public meetings) with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and was seen as instrumental in creating the joint Russian-US-Jordanian de-escalation zone in south western Syria.

At one point, Rex Tillerson was said to have privately reprimanded Haley for inventing her own foreign policy without consulting her superiors at the State Department. However, it seems that in respect of Iran, Trump has overruled Tillerson and allowed Haley to take charge.

Haley later told journalists that she was offered the position of Secretary of State but turned it down, before being offered the position of Ambassador to the UN. Haley further attested that she sent Trump a list of demands that she never expected to be agreed upon, as a precondition for accepting her current position.

Nikki Haley was offered Secretary of States job and turned it down

http://theduran.com/nikki-haley-was-offered-secretary-of-states-job-and-turned-it-down/embed/#?secret=FF4q2WSDlC

Haley who has long been seen as a rogue figure in the Trump administration and one who is widely exceeding her authority, is apparently doing so with Donald Trump's approval.

With rumours swirling that Rex Tillerson planned on resigning, even before it emerged that he allegedly called Trump a "fucking moron", there is now an increased possibility that a hyper-neo-con, might soon become the chief foreign policy maker in a Trump administration that was elected on the basis of opposing the neo-con ideology.

With many Trump administration officials coming and going in short order, there is a very worrying possibility that Nikki Haley's role will only be enhanced in future months. This is dangerous not only for the United States, but for the wider world. Haley's inexperience is only matched by her zeal for bellicose measures against countries which have not done any harm to the American people. Such a person should not be anywhere near power, but it seems as though she has Trump's ear, far more than the vastly more mature Tillerson and Mattis.

[Apr 16, 2018] To Secure Democratic Vote Pompeo Masks Regime Change Agenda

Notable quotes:
"... And if there's no chance that we can fix it I will recommend to the president that we do our level best to work with our allies to achieve a better outcome and a better deal. ..."
Apr 16, 2018 | therealnews.com

... ... ...

SPEAKER: What is your view as to whether America should withdraw unilaterally from the Iran nuclear agreement?

MIKE POMPEO: I want to fix this deal. That's the objective. I think that's in the best interest of the United States of America.

SPEAKER: But if the agreement cannot be changed. My question is pretty simple. We're running very close to a deadline on certification.

MIKE POMPEO: And if there's no chance that we can fix it I will recommend to the president that we do our level best to work with our allies to achieve a better outcome and a better deal.

SHARMINI PERIES: Pompeo is a member of the Tea Party movement, and is generally viewed as a pro-war hardliner who has previously vowed to cancel the Iran agreement ...

... ... ...

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, let's just take the issue of Iran, for starters. There he said at the hearing that he would not try to get out of the Iran nuclear deal, that he wants a better deal. But in the past he's talked about getting out of the Iran nuclear deal. And not only that he said that regime change is the only way to deal with Iran. And as CIA director he also downplayed the CIA's assessment that Iran was complying with the deal although at the hearing he said he has no reason to deny that Iran is complying. So he says very different things and in different places. But I think his actions and his statements in the past speak louder than the words at the hearing, which were quite deceptive, and he's trying to win over Democrats. So he was evasive on some of the issues that he has been very clear about in the past, such as striking Iran, North Korea, and certainly he was open about the president's right to bomb Syria.

... ... ...

SHARMINI PERIES: Right. Now, speaking of Syria and the tensions that are arising with Russia over the chemical attack that Russia now says, and in fact Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, is on record saying they have information that some one else, some other country, initiated this attack in Syria. This is really a heightening the tension between Russia and the United States. So let me go to you on this, Phyllis, first, and then we'll go back to Medea. But your take on this rising tension between U.S. And Russia?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: This is a very, very dangerous moment, when we have Trump, with all of his own proclivities towards war and against diplomacy, surrounding himself by what looks like a clear war cabinet. The danger of escalation in Syria is very serious. It could lead to a direct clash between the two most powerful nuclear weapon states in the world, the United States and Russia. You have completely opposite claims emerging from Washington and Moscow, with the U.S. claiming that they know, even though they also agree that they don't have information, but they know that chemical weapons were used as they were used by the regime in Syria. They seem to know a lot for a government that admits it doesn't know anything yet.

The Russians, on the other hand, have variously said that another country might be involved. Another Russian diplomat has said that there was no chemical attack at all. So for myself, I don't actually believe any of these claims by any of the governments. I'm waiting to hear what the report is of the team that's on its way to D ouma right now, the town outside of Damascus where the alleged chemical weapons attack occurred. The team of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons. That's the the internationally acknowledged, internationally credible team that will be determining whether or not chemicals were used, what chemicals were used if there were any, who was affected, what delivery systems, et cetera. They are not mandated to determine who fired or who gave the orders to fire. That's a much more political question that will come back to the Security Council and may stall there, we don't know.

But at the moment we don't know at all what happened in Douma on that weekend 10 days ago. So I think that we need to do everything possible to ramp down this level of rhetoric. When the U.S. continues to talk about the inevitability of new strikes against Syria, knowing that this is a direct violation of both, again, international law and U.S. domestic law and threatens the possibility of retaliation against U.S. troops in the region, U.S. warships in the Mediterranean, U.S. warplanes in the skies, and, most importantly, threatens the possibility, the likelihood, of killing more Syrian civilians. We are facing a very, very urgent crisis even before we get to the possibility of serious escalation.

So this is something that Congress needs to take very seriously. And unfortunately in what we've seen in the Pompeo hearing there was simply not enough, not enough pushing for this candidate to be the supposed leader of diplomacy in the United States, to push him on the necessity not of saying well, we hoped that we could have a diplomatic solution, but if not well then nothing is off the table. That's not OK. That's not acceptable to the U.S. chief diplomat. And we are simply not hearing enough pressure to make that position known.

... ... ...

But I was going to put it in the context of remember that we have Bolton as the national security adviser, who did not have to have a confirmation hearing. This is why somebody like Jeff Merkley, a senator from Massachusetts, came out and said he will not vote for Pompeo because he recognizes it as part of this larger cabinet, that this is a war cabinet, and therefore a vote for Pompeo is a vote for war. So I would say continue the fight not to get a confirmation for Mike Pompeo.

SHARMINI PERIES: Phyllis, is that even possible?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: Absolutely. And it's crucial. This is exactly what we need to be focusing on right now. The way the votes come down, it's very, very tight. There are at least, at least one Republican, Rand Paul, who has said he will vote against Pompeo. It looks like McCain will not be there because of his illness. That cuts out two votes. So it's certainly a possibility. But it's going to take an enormous amount of work. Enormous numbers of phone calls and visits and protests and threats of not voting back those members of Congress who, who would go ahead and vote for this person as being the new head of diplomacy. This is as urgent as it gets.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Phyllis. I thank you so much for joining us. Phyllis is with the Institute for Policy Studies New Internationalism Project. And Medea Benjamin, thank you so much for joining us. And Medea's from Code Pink. Thank you both.


0040 13 hours ago ,

Nonsense lead . The regime change trope is totally bi-partisan as yesterdays air strikes clearly indicate. Pompeo etal like most American federal government officialdom are now lackeys and on the payrolls of the MIC , CIA, and banksters. There is no Iran nuclear deal , Trump is right about that . Iran has moved under Russia's nuclear umbrella as North Korea is now under China's, making the rush to develop nukes unnecessary at the present time. Obombers treaty was/is a worthless face saving effort, after the destruction of Libya.. Trump increasing represents the wishes of the duopoly, not the electorate, his latest terror attack on Syria bumped his popularity 5% across Americas, knocking down the looming Stormy scandal perhaps...

neoconbuster 14 hours ago ,

Phyllis: "But at the moment we don't know at all what happened in Douma on that weekend 10 days ago."

We do know, because we listen daily to the other side of the story too. There was NO Chemical attack . The White Helmets filmed the deception.

These two Workers of the Douma Hospital's Emergency room, are eyewitnesses of the Lie that was sold by the Western MSM, which is a tool of the Deep State:

-Syrian Eyewitnesses Reveal How Douma Provocation Was Made- (Published by Sputnik, on Apr 13, 2018)

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

Howie Lisnoff 15 hours ago ,

Arguing for a right-wing Congress to overturn decades of executive war making "privilege" is a bit of a lost cause at this point. Pompeo is the latest iteration in a long line of those at the State Department who have ditched diplomacy in favor of war.

gustave courbet > novychelovek

Consistent theme in caricatures of other nations/groups relates to their inherent "otherness." Be it Clapper's comment about Russians being "genetically driven" to "co-opt," or Kim Jong-un's reputation as a madman, or Iran's fundamentalist world view, they have in common the tendency to project a fundamentally irrational disposition on one's adversaries.

In reality, most governments, be they pseudo-democratic, theocratic, etc are motivated by pragmatic self-interest. In Iran's case, they can use history to compare non-nuclear states to nuclear powers in regards to US bellicosity and see a clear pattern.

[Apr 15, 2018] Russia gas for Europe as a political tool of the USA to pressure Russia via its EU vassals

Notable quotes:
"... I think the only that would really cause the Russians serious economic hardship at this point would be a total EU embargo on Russian oil/natgas. That, of course, would cause the rest of Europe a fair amount of hardship, too, as they would then have to pay 3 or 4 times as much for frack-gas from the US. ..."
Apr 15, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

RaisingMac , 9 hours ago

I think the only that would really cause the Russians serious economic hardship at this point would be a total EU embargo on Russian oil/natgas. That, of course, would cause the rest of Europe a fair amount of hardship, too, as they would then have to pay 3 or 4 times as much for frack-gas from the US.
Tony -> RaisingMac , 7 hours ago
Of course, oil/gas being fungible, the EU in such an eventuality would buy higher priced gas/oil from us or someone and the Russians would just end up selling to other entities. Whatever we sell to Europe is fuel we can't sell to others and it's not like our export market is infinitely expandable. The EU has a huge need for natural gas which it mostly gets from Russia via pipeline. Even if the US had that much surplus capacity, it would take years to come up with the means to export that much LNG..

[Apr 15, 2018] We know this empire is destined to eat itself up due to greed and hubris. My only concern is how long that will take.

Notable quotes:
"... This is very clear path toward a confrontation with Russia. America is not going to stop . Russia continues to be punished because does not leave Syria and does not bow to America. ..."
Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

serotonindumptruck -> Janet smeller Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:44 Permalink

Russia knows that this diplomatic, economic, and military aggression will never stop. These military strikes and economic sanctions from the West represent the death throes of a dying empire. A dying empire is like a gravely wounded, cornered animal.

This is an extremely dangerous animal, because it is willing to arbitrarily kill anyone and anything before it dies.


serotonindumptruck -> spyware-free Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:00 Permalink

I still believe that the USA and its European allies will be the first to use nuclear weapons.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping no doubt recognize the grave circumstances, and they are using the utmost restraint to avoid the provision of a military pretext that the West/USA is seeking in their effort to greatly escalate hostilities.

GoinFawr -> serotonindumptruck Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:07 Permalink

" I still believe that the USA ... will be the first to use nuclear weapons . "

Eg. Nagasaki and Hiroshima

dirty fingernails -> serotonindumptruck Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:12 Permalink

The US will only use nukes to secure their dominance. The people in change aren't beholden to any country or continent being filthy rich and/or dual citizens. So the plan is to deny the US an excuse to use nukes while cutting the empire off at the knees.

Otherwise, I agree it'll be a NATO country that nukes first. That's part of the desire to make smaller nukes. "Small" nukes are seen as a way to nuke but not start a global exchange. Fucking insane people gambling with all higher life forms.

Chupacabra-322 -> dirty fingernails Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:38 Permalink

"Small Nuke."

You make it sound like she's just "a little pregnant."

dirty fingernails -> spyware-free Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:01 Permalink

Russia will tolerate it as long as possible. The delay only weakens the US and allies. All have serious issues domestically and even alliances are strained. Don't interrupt when your enemy is making a mistake

serotonindumptruck -> dirty fingernails Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:22 Permalink

That is certainly some excellent Sun Tzu advice.

However, Sun Tzu never calculated criminal insanity into his logical strategems.

When your enemy refuses to concede defeat, and is willing to suicide the entire world in their obstinance, the only winning move is not to play.

Pernicious Gol -> serotonindumptruck Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:48 Permalink

He did talk about that.

dirty fingernails -> serotonindumptruck Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:50 Permalink

True, but look around us. There is no need to nuke cities and military targets in the US. Shut down the electrical grid and the population would lose it in a matter of hours. Within days it would be chaos on so many levels that it would take a long time to recover. We really are our own worst enemies because we are so fractured and polarized of the stupidest shit.

serotonindumptruck -> dirty fingernails Sun, 04/15/2018 - 18:01 Permalink

If limited global depopulation is the ultimate goal, then yes, the USA will suffer the most due to the prevalence of firearms and the general hostility that is clearly evident within its citizenry.

That's obviously not the main objective for the warmongers and neocons in DC.

The ultimate objective is global dominance, and the complete and total subjugation of humanity.

Like I said, criminal insanity is the paradigm that rules the West.

Sid Davis -> serotonindumptruck Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:55 Permalink

Cornered animal; that sounds like Trumps modus operandi. Notice that anyone who criticizes him gets lambasted with personal attacks instead of a reasoned response.

We need a President who understands freedom and who is a reasonable person, neither of which traits are possessed by Trump. He didn't win the election on his own qualification but on Hillary's lack of qualification. This speaks to the point, "The lesser of two evils is still evil".

Cosmicserpent -> Adolph.H. Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:42 Permalink

We won't hit bottom without taking everyone with us. The Republic was lost when JFK was assassinated.

spyware-free -> Adolph.H. Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:43 Permalink

This will work out about as good as Obama "isolating" Russia. Nothing more than a ziocon jerkfest.

khnum -> I woke up Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:51 Permalink

That proposition plus a ban on all US agricultural produce is currently being put up in their parliament

veritas semper -> FBaggins Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:43 Permalink

This is very clear path toward a confrontation with Russia. America is not going to stop . Russia continues to be punished because does not leave Syria and does not bow to America.

This recent American fiasco in Syria is just the opening overture. In May we have the moving of American embassy to Jerusalem and the unilateral withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal. I think we will not reach the end of the year without a big war : America is losing power and needs it.

Jumanji1959 -> FBaggins Sun, 04/15/2018 - 18:26 Permalink

Actually the terrorists were sent by Israel and more specifically, the Mossad, who trained them. Israel wants to expand its territory by committing a GENOCIDE.

keep the basta -> FBaggins Sun, 04/15/2018 - 20:25 Permalink

The chemical weapons organisation in Damascus and elsewhere in Syria found NO chemical weapons at the site the USA UK And FR bombed for that. The only chemical weapons are those found in the tunnels in East Ghouta after Syria bussed the militant occupiers away. The 40 tons of chemicals have manufactuer names, serial numbers and addresses eg Porton Down Salisbury.

Occams_Razor_Trader -> Occams_Razor_Trader Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:38 Permalink

Cui Bono? Trump says he's going to pull out of Syria -- Things never looked better for Assad -- and he gets the bright idea, to turn the world against him by gassing gassing his own people? I'm not buying it. I-F-F (Israeli False Flag)

[Apr 15, 2018] Trump s in deep over his head. It was an open question whether he posed any genuine obstacle to neocons, but it seems more clear now that, one way or another, he has been brought more tightly under their control.

Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

JohninMK -> Lumberjack Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:52 Permalink

The sanctions will no doubt apply to the supplier of that high tech stuff in that chemical lab that the SAA discovered last month in Ghouta.

Just remembered, it was US made and sold through Saudi.

Lore -> JohninMK Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:14 Permalink

Trump's in deep over his head. It was an open question whether he posed any genuine obstacle to the pathocracy, but it seems more clear now that, one way or another, he has been brought more tightly under their control. THAT, much more than any individual false-flags or other deceptions or wrongs, should be cause for the rational world to fear. The psychopaths are still on the march, and Trump is at least paying lip service to their chicanery. The further out on a limb he goes, the more reluctant and then helpless he will be to backtrack as pathology becomes more extreme and events escalate under their own momentum. With markets looking more precarious than ever, how long will it be before the psychopaths commit more and bigger false flags?

JohninMK -> Lore Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:54 Permalink

Forgot to say that theses sanctions are downright embarrassing.

So we illegally attack a different country, that country's ally doesn't respond to our act of aggression, and we're now slapping sanctions on that country... for not responding to our attack? Not only sanctions but sanctions on products that both parties actually know aren't there. Unless the US is sanctioning the supply chain of swimming pool and industrial/domestic cleaning agents based on chlorine.

Brilliant just the way to get an agreement from them next time.

dirty fingernails -> JohninMK Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:59 Permalink

They don't want any agreements except submission. Anything less is unacceptable.

veritas semper -> Lore Sun, 04/15/2018 - 18:04 Permalink

Trump had 1 BILLION $ in debt to the chosen banks ; maybe this can point toward whether or not he was part of the deep state from the beginning ? But ,does it matter any longer ?

the phantom -> chumbawamba Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:48 Permalink

Sanctions... act of war. Dropping bombs on a sovereign country (without UN approval even)... act of war. Insulting foreign leaders and creating false flags to justify your illegal actions... act of war. Don't be fooled into thinking that just b/c Russia did not respond to the US actions, that "nothing happened". War has started, this is just the beginning.

If you think otherwise, you are a fool.

r0mulus -> Whoa Dammit Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:41 Permalink

Here we go again- the ever-plotting West trying to create reality on the fly -- attempting to make the alleged chemical weapons attack into a fait accompli, painting the tape of reality with the shadow-puppets of the operation mockingbird-controlled, corporate (MIC) media!

Any good reason we shouldn't just start calling the 5(+1)-eyez media environment the Oceania State News Network (OSNN) right now?

veritas semper -> r0mulus Sun, 04/15/2018 - 18:16 Permalink

America starts the war on Syria, by financing, training, paying the terrorists . America builds military bases there.

And Syria , with help from her allies , still wins the war.

America asks her remaining terrorists there to plan, execute a false flag . As a casus belli.

America attacks , the coalition is small .

Syria stuns the world with her courage and old Soviet era air defense . The aftermath for America is embarrassing .

America gives sanctions to Syria because Syria defended herself , to Russia because Russia still doesn't bow .

Iran is next .

In May we will have further escalation.

[Apr 15, 2018] Haley announced new sanctions on the base of false flag Douma operation

Apr 15, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Anon , Apr 15, 2018 11:48:39 AM | 16

Putin: Further Western Strikes in Syria Contrary to Int'l Law Will Lead to Chaos https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201804151063585034-syria-actions-violations-chaos/

Haley responds: US to Impose Sanctions on Russia Over Support of Assad - Envoy to UN https://sputniknews.com/us/201804151063584536-haley-us-troops-syria/

Best wore if Haley catch a brain stroke, that would save peace.

[Apr 15, 2018] Wonder how Monbiot feels now Syrians are being killed by western bombs?

Apr 15, 2018 | off-guardian.org

Harry Stotle says April 14, 2018

Wonder how Monbiot feels now Syrians are being killed by western bombs?

Will he be slightly suspicious about the urgency of the attack (which took place just before the inspectors were due to go in) or indeed lack of parliamentary scrutiny about the necessity for such extreme measures, not to mention the potentially catastrophic consequences of provoking Russia?

The US is not under threat and neither is the UK – the Syrians have not asked for bombs to be dropped on them.

The information sources alleging the use of chemical weapons come from the same tainted Sunni extremists using weapons supplied by the west to destroy Yemen.

Francis Lee says April 14, 2018
Yep, those Jihadi pals of Monbiot and co, need all the help they can get now that they are losing the war against the legitimate government of Syria. Next time there is a jihadi outrage against London, Manchester, Paris or St.Tropez, let's see what the likes of Monbiot and the rest of the liberal-imperialist scum at the Guran has to say. This is Iraq all over again. Every time the US-NATO wants to bomb a recalcitrant country they invent a pretext. The Gulf of Tonkin incident, Saddams fabled WMDs and now the fake chemical attack in Syria. Is there anything worse than liberal imperialism? This has been a political game changer. It is now apparent beyond doubt that the liberals are on the side of the most vicious ultra-right warmongering crazies.
Jen says April 14, 2018
What I find troubling about George Monbiot's opinions on President Assad and his supposed habit of celebrating SAA victories by gassing the very people who voted him back as President in 2014 (maybe they can't get enough of being gassed by sarin and chlorine, eh, George?) is his use of strong and often bullying language towards critics like Tim Hayward, Patrick Henningsen and Vanessa Beeley. He has the hide to question Beeley on who funds her work and insinuates that she is in the pay of the Russian government. If he only stuck to his opinion and dubious Just War reasoning – he would be all for invading Syria if, say, Denmark or Sweden were in charge of leading the cavalry – at least he would be tolerable. But to tell Hayward that he should listen to a suspicious and sinister character like Oz Katerji – who openly flaunts his friendship with takfiris – "for [his own] sake" amounts to harassment.

Such behaviour seems borderline psychotic.

writerroddis says April 14, 2018
Quite.
vexarb says April 14, 2018
Meanwhile, back in the real Syria:

Briefing by official representative of Russian Defence Ministry Major General Igor Konashenkov Full Transcript

http://eng.mil.ru/en/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12171238@egNews

The Russian Centre for Reconciliation jointly with the Syrian authorities is completing the large-scale humanitarian operation in the suburbs of Damascus – the Eastern Ghouta. In total, 170,152 people have been evacuated during the operation, including 63,117 militants with their families.

All the settlements in the Eastern Ghouta are currently under the control of the Syrian government.

The Russian military police has been deployed in the Eastern Ghouta in order to monitor situation and maintain law enforcement.

As environment in the suburbs of Damscus stabilizing, people are making their way back home. In total some 63,000 people have return to their homes now. It makes a half of those who had left the area.

The Syrian government working on rehabilitation of destroyed civilian infrastructure. Power and water supply systems have been recovered; reconstruction is underway in the area. People are provided with medical assistance.

Thus, the present-day Eastern Ghouta is far from a "black hole" where no one could get to, but a capital suburb returning to peaceful life.

intergenerationaltrauma says April 14, 2018
Excellent article. I suppose I shouldn't be too terribly surprised by Monbiot's irrational and immoral stance on Syria, as it's lack of logic and ethical coherence dovetails nicely with his new found support for nuclear power as a solution to climate change – inspired no less by the events at Fukishima. Quite amazing actually!

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/21/pro-nuclear-japan-fukushima

Kev says April 14, 2018
I used to respect Monbiot Silly me

If Monbiot wanted to find out what was happening he could find out just as easily as we found out. Hes a fake, a traitor and a supporter of the destruction of a securer democracy by British backed Al Qaeda terrorists on the orders of the zionist state.. There are no excuses.

I have nothing but contempt for Monbiot or the people he works for and nothing but respect for the Syrian people who stand against Monbiots head chopping, child killing, family burning, evil cannibalistic scum

Kathy says April 13, 2018
Some times people become so lost in their own ego through education and privilege that they no longer have capacity to recognize anything but hubris. The whole education system pushes this mindset through reward and accolade to the most susceptible students. This system encourages a level of blind faith in the theories that are taught to them to the the point that the student forgets that what they are being taught is only theory and indoctrination that they should have learned to question. These students are the ones that life opens up for. They are afforded the best jobs, high life styles, nice houses with big mortgages effectively trapping them in a spiders web that becomes difficult to escape from even if they do wake up. Deep down they realize that they are out of their depth but keep up the pretense. These people become the perfect mouth pieces for the state and don't even necessarily realize they have been hijacked and compromised by their status. This makes it difficult for them to recognize others opinions and to question them selves or the narrative they hold. To query there stance unhinges them. This is the point that they often become dogmatic, dismissive and angry . The worst ones are often the ones who see them selves as liberal as they really do believe that they have got where they are by being intelligent and informed. Guardian journalists seem particularly susceptible to this belief. The most sinister part about these journalists is they do manage to manipulate their readers on an insidious level lulling them with their {liberalism}.
Paul says April 13, 2018
I appreciate the force and elegance of Prof. Hayward's argumentation. I'm not sure, though, why he would stop at (or, for that matter, start with) the loyalty of the Syrian army. He was, after all, elected and even after several years of violence, it could probably be fairly plausibly confirmed (or disconfirmed), in principle at least, that he has majority (indeed increased) support among the population. Another argument subject to (dis)confirmation would be that a very significant number of the "rebels" and the vast bulk of their funding, training, weapons and diplomatic / media cover are not Syrian. They would not, then, be part of a rebellion but foreign mercenaries or (largely Salafist) fundamentalist legions in a regime change operation that happens to be consistent with American policy towards Syria since the 1940s.
Harry Law says April 13, 2018
During the time [around 2011] Monbiot was asking people about their opinions on Syria an opinion poll on Syria was published, "According to the latest opinion poll commissioned by The Doha Debates [ the sponsors of the debate no supporters of Assad by any means] Syrians are more supportive of their president with 55% not wanting him to resign". One of the main reasons given by those wanting the president to stay in power was fear for the future of the country". Then in the 2016 presidential election Assad won gaining 88% of vote. Followed by Parliamentary elections when the Ba'ath party won 200 out of 250 seats. The Syrian army is majority Sunni and the majority of the Government is Sunni. He has overwhelming support inside and outside Syria, in Lebanon for instance there was a huge turnout for Assad with tens of thousands queuing up to vote for him.
How anyone can voice support for the "rebels" is beyond me, since they are made up mostly of Jihadis who want to slaughter any opposition to themselves. They say so themselves.
Harry Law says April 13, 2018
Sorry Presidential elections were in 2014, the Parliamentary elections were in 2016.
Mulga Mumblebrain says April 13, 2018
Very early on in the jihadist attack on Syria, there was a massive demonstration in Damascus of two million, where a huge Syrian flag was held aloft by the crowd, in support of the Government. It was broadcast on the Austfalian SBS 'multicultural' TV as an 'ANTI-Assad' demonstration ie a complete LIE, but one as far as I know never acknowledged or retracted.
Thereafter, until today, the SBS, has been the vilest of all our filthy fakestream propagandists working for a takfiri victory. The Syrian Government is 'the regime'. The salafist child crucifiers 'rebels', the favoured media source the al-Jazeera sewer controlled by the vile Wahhabist Qatar regime, one of the prime sponsors of the death-squad butchers. The SBS even has a coterie of female voice-over operatives, whose histrionic utterances, spitting out the hate propaganda, often verge on hysteria.
I've often wondered why they took this position. I suspect Zionist influence, all pervasive in this country, but NEVER dared to be mentioned (the PM Turnbull represents the richest electorate in the country with a large Jewish constituency, and his groveling is epic)and Saudi. For decades the Sordid Arabians have been allowed to finance Wahhabist proselytisation in this country, including in Moslem schools, a decision of bizarre stupidity. As a result we sent scores of enthusiastic wannabe head-loppers to Syria, one of whom was photographed grinning as his seven year old son held up a severed head. While these butchers were used in Islamophobic hate propaganda, the scum death-squad army they were members of, was still afforded TOTAL support by the local fakestream as 'rebels' against 'animal Assad'.
writerroddis says April 13, 2018
This is excellent. Far from being 'too kind' to Monbiot, its restraint, both in tone and in substantive argument – not making claims that can't be defended, and being precise on such as the difference between high probability and empirical or logical certainty – is a great strength. Hayward stands head and shoulders above Monbiot not just in his arguments but in his scrupulous manner of advancing them.
stevehayes13 says April 13, 2018
Monbiot is a fake. His role is to help maintain the fiction that there is a diversity of opinions in the corporate media, which enables them to pretend there is no rational dissent from the official narrative when the pretend left and the centre and the right all agree, such as when they all say: Assad is bad.
Etegere says April 13, 2018
This is a very well put together piece on a very troubling individual. Monbiot has always been deeply suspicious in my view. He issues his statements (often lies) and never engages his critics, evidently viewing criticism as an intolerable offense. Not the behaviour of an honourable man.

I would very much like to see a follow-up piece similar to this but that looks wider and takes apart his deception on issues other than Syria.

Ultimately, he should not be working as a so-called journalist. His ability to push lies is deeply offensive to those of us with an interest in truth and integrity. He is truly a stain.

Binra (@onemindinmany) says April 13, 2018
The feeling I get from Tim Hayward's article is of lost love – but not in the romantic sense – for Monbiot – who he used to feel part of, believe in, stand side by side with? Is this a long letter TO G.M?

There's another feeling I get over the incitement to war on Syria – and that is of the many being forced, terrorized, or convinced at least that going along with the pressure to act out the line or at least not challenge it – is the choosing of a lesser evil.

However I do not see any convincing actors on the stage in the 'case' for making war on Syria. Only of assets by one means or another.

We may be misled about most everything, perhaps because the mind from its earliest adaptations to sense of loss of love, support and connection, learns to mask pain and seek protection in strategies of self justification.

Since the earliest catastrophic beginnings of the development of this peculiarly split human consciousness, the gods that terrorised us from above were sacrificed to in supplication of appeasement. So that which sends fire and plague is entreated to save us from it. Nothing has changed but the costumes of its human reenactments.

I feel it is time for a New Story.
Don't fight over narrative – just read where it comes from with some compassion. The promise of 'power and protection' reveals a hollow and pathetic dependency. We feed a monster as if to 'survive'.

The capacity for introspection is also the capacity to uncover a fundamental humanity within even the worst of times. Everyone acts in self interest as in that moment they define themselves to be in relation to it. The lie is considered bad to be exposed in – but necessary to hide by.

But if everything is subjugated to serve a lie (too big to fail) then there is nothing true – excepting the power to say so and enforce it, and is that not the 'thinking' to which we have been trained to suckle?

I cannot make another man (or woman's) choices. I can only live my own and by tasting the results, learn to make better choices. But this absolutely depends on self-honesty. We cannot lie to others and be true to ourself nor lie to ourself and be true to others. And if we try to make the lie true – we will project the mind of it into the perceptions of others – whether they extend a true willingness or a deceit – we wont be able to tell.
That is the recipe for hell – because everything reflects a hidden hate that 'threatens' to destroy or violate our defences. But the enemy is not 'OUT THERE!' – even if there are many with grievance.

The lie and the father of the lie sets us against our Self – each other and our world.
"No it doesn't – it protects me from chaos, powerlessness, humiliation and loss of self!"
Yet all these things has it delivered while pointing the finger away.
There is a heart prayer from Hawaii
The mind is erected against saying it:

"I'm sorry, please forgive me, I love you , thank you".

Mulga Mumblebrain says April 13, 2018
Monbiot sold out to protect his well-paying sinecure. Old story. Alternative possibility-blackmail or some other form of coercion.
Toby says April 14, 2018
[My first comment at this site.]

This is an excellent article among many here, but Binra's comment really resonates with me.

I see a direct link between:

unconditional love (love is unconditional, or it isn't love),
learning how to become part of love's continuing evolution,
learning how to avoid war.

For me, the quality of being that is love is the nature of the personal choices we each must make if we are to learn – both as individuals and by extension as larger groups – how to navigate the sinister and deceptive propaganda this article addresses, and hopefully put an end to it one day. We otherwise fall prey to its machinations and are lost to history's darker forces.

"I'm sorry, please forgive me, I love you , thank you".

Humility, love and gratitude are strong when undertaken with courage, perseverance and patience. This is not easy to do. But we know that. The right way is the hard way.

jag37777 says April 12, 2018
This article is too kind to Monbiot. He's a fake, always has been. And a nasty piece of work with it.
physicsandmathsrevision says April 12, 2018
Monbiot is, like Naom Chomsky, a Khazarian Jew. His (and Chomsky's) preferences are so defined.

Their sophistry and faux-empathy works endlessly towards a single end.

Support for the globalist finance plutocracy nexus that, like Monbiot and Chomsk, is (whatever their poses) the real enemy of all.

writerroddis says April 13, 2018
Congratulations! I've always argued for OG removing the 'dislike' button. You made a convincing case for keeping it.
Admin says April 13, 2018
to everything there is a season
mohandeer says April 14, 2018
Well sai Philip.
I wish he would revise something other than physics and maths – he's got a serious problem.
Mulga Mumblebrain says April 13, 2018
Cobblers. Probably hasbara to discredit this place.
Susanna Farley says April 14, 2018
"Monbiot is, like Noam Chomsky, a Khazarian Jew " What the hell has this to do with the point you are trying to make?

Are you trying to say that all Khazarian Jews (or all Jews?) "support the globalist finance plutocracy." etc.? Unlike the very justified condemnation of the massacre of unarmed Palestinian protesters at the Gaza/Israel border by the Israeli army, this is genuine anti-semitism.

It's fine to criticise Monbiot and Chomsky as individuals, however harshly. but there should be zero tolerance for attributing the "sophistry and faux-empathy" you see them exhibiting to their ethnicity.

The global capitalist elite are indeed our enemy. They are mostly white and male but share few other characteristics.

Mulga Mumblebrain says April 14, 2018
Susanna, that type of idiot with their stupid stereotyping of whole groups, are often, I suspect, frauds, sent to discredit those around them. So, some Ashkenazi Jews are descended from the Khazars who converted to Judaism. So what-as Shlomo Sand shewed, a number of groups over time converted to Judaism, when it was more proselytising than now, just as groups converted to Islam or Christianity. That makes no difference to how Chomsky acts (pretty well as far as I can see) or Monbiot (increasingly very badly, and shamefully).
alan moore says April 12, 2018
Page not Found ???
Vaska says April 12, 2018
Fixed. [A technical glitch we couldn't find an explanation for.]
Mulga Mumblebrain says April 12, 2018
Monbiot's arrogance is innate. It got him into strife when he tackled the formidable Edward S Herman over the phony Srebrenica 'genocide' and was savagely mauled, but, as expected, he declared himself the victor and retreated to smear his adversaries from the sidelines.
He propagandises as he must, or he'd get the Pilger treatment, and his nice sinecure at the Fraudian would disappear. And since the Sorosification and the other measures taken to turn the Fraudian into the sewer of disinformation and hate-mongering that it is today, working so frantically for a jihadist victory in Syria and Syria's vivisection, to the greater glory of Eretz Yisrael, Monbiot has simply goose-stepped ever further Right, as scores of his type have done, over the years.
vexarb says April 13, 2018
Polonius: This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

I have been thinking lately this might apply even to villains, as in Peer Gynt. Then if you are really strong black and white but sincere, the Divine Photographer has a chance to season you in acid gall and reduce you in sulfite until your positive emerges Lily White. But if you are just a misty inbetween maundering Boyg of a man, you have to resort to Photoshop to provide a fake identity.

"Those who were neither for God nor for Devil but only for themselves . So many, I had not thought Death had undone so many". -- Dante, The First Circle

vexarb says April 14, 2018
Sorry, the above post should have been addressed to Binra who said something similar to the advice Polonius gave Laertes. Ibsen's Peer Gynt goes further: even a villain who is true to himself may be valuable in the scheme of things; but people like the Fraudian journoes who just drift the way the wind blows are puffballs that carry no seed.
Mulga Mumblebrain says April 14, 2018
Puff-balls carry spore, not seeds. Fraudian presstitutes as a species of toadstool? I like it, very much.

[Apr 15, 2018] The Syria bombing is a disgraceful act disguised as a noble gesture by Moustafa Bayoumi

Apr 15, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

The US-led barrage shows just how little interest the global powers have in ending Syria's ghastly war

Contact author

@BayoumiMoustafa

Sat 14 Apr 2018 10.42 EDT Last modified on Sat 14 Apr 2018 13.52 EDT

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email View more sharing options Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Share on Google+ Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger Close 'Regional and global powers now exploit Syria for their own advantage and apportion out its territory for repeated bombing.' Photograph: Giuseppe Lami/EPA

The bombing of Syrian government targets by the United States, Britain, and France is a disgraceful and ineffectual act masquerading as a noble gesture. Far from preventing a more vicious war, the bombing instead legitimizes the continuation of the conflict. In fact, what this barrage of weapons really reveals is how little interest the global powers have in ending Syria's ghastly war.

ss="rich-link"> Syria: who are the key players in the conflict? Read more

Similar to the attacks on Syrian government targets that Donald Trump ordered just over a year ago, the airstrikes this time will not seriously damage Bashar al-Assad's larger military capacity, nor are they intended to. Instead, we're told that the western bombing campaign has specifically aimed munitions at locations where the storage and testing of chemical weapons occurs.

But wasn't last year's attack meant to put an end to Assad's use of chemical weapons, and aren't these the weapons that he was supposed to have destroyed under international auspices in 2014? At this rate, should we expect that an aerial bombing mission to finally and completely destroy Assad's chemical weapons will be launched every April?

The question is ridiculous, of course, but so is the idea that this attack will accomplish anything beyond boosting the war-making egos of its protagonists and enabling Assad, his reprehensible regime, and his allies to complain of being the perpetual victims of western aggression. Beyond the bombast on both sides, Syria's daily misery will continue.

These strikes mark the first timeTheresa May of Britain and Emmanuel Macron of France have committed their respective militaries into combat, and they have done so, according to May, "to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons, but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons."

May's words might sound more intelligent than those of Donald Trump, who in his statement about the attacks told the American people: "Hopefully, someday we'll get along with Russia and maybe even Iran, but maybe not." But what May's words really reveal is not the ethical reasoning of a head of state but the devastating lack of moral concern by the international community when it comes to the people of Syria.

The fact that three of the world's most powerful militaries have now been mobilized into action, even for a limited campaign such as this one, to prevent "the erosion of the international norm" of using chemical weapons is far from comforting. Since the war began, Assad's regime has engaged in the repeated and dreadful use of barrel bombs and mass starvation, the systematic torture of thousands of citizens and the laying siege to multiple cities, the killing of hundreds of thousands of people and the displacement of more than half the population. Yet, all of this horror does not seem to "erode an international norm" and certainly has not motivated these western leaders to any meaningful action to end the war.

On the contrary, regional and global powers now exploit Syria for their own advantage and apportion out its territory for repeated bombing. At this point, the country has been bombed by the Assad regime, the United States, Britain, France, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, and the UAE.

Rather than limiting war, this latest bombing of Syria normalizes the war's ongoing brutality. Forget the chemical weapons for a moment. The bombing of Syria by the western powers essentially and unconscionably establishes near total warfare on civilians as an acceptable "international norm." Our politicians will wallow in their most recent action, calling the bombing a great success for our civilization. In fact, it's much more akin to our demise.

Moustafa Bayoumi is a Guardian US columnist

[Apr 13, 2018] Pompeo Russians 'Met Their Match,' US Killed Hundreds of Them in Syria by Jason Ditz

Apr 12, 2018 | news.antiwar.com

Is President Trump tough enough on Russia? For Secretary of State-nominee Mike Pompeo, the answer comes down to simple body count, as he bragged up recent killings of Russian citizens inside Syrian territory .

At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pompeo boasted that "the Russians met their match. A couple hundred Russians were killed," referring to a US massacre of military contractors back in February. Pompeo insisted these killings prove Trump's toughness on Russia.

The comments threaten to make this incident a bigger diplomatic row. The February 7 incident came after the US claimed Kurds had come under attack. In reality, an artillery barrage landed half a kilometer from a Kurdish base, and the US reacted by killing in excess of 200 pro-Syrian government fighters, declaring the killings "self-defense."

At the time, there were concerns Russian citizens were among the slain, and US officials ultimately said "scores" of the dead may have been Russian. Now, Pompeo appears to be insisting they were all Russians, and that the killings were about being "tough" of the Russian government.

Russia's government denied any knowledge of the incident at the time, and it appears the slain were private contractors working for the Syrian government, and not in concert with Russia's government itself. That makes targeting them on the basis of their nationality potentially even more problematic.

[Apr 11, 2018] I think that the read target of attack in Syria is the Nord Stream II pipeline.

Apr 11, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Hagios | Apr 11, 2018 8:50:17 AM | 58 I think that the read target here is the Nord Stream II pipeline. They're currently unwilling to cancel it out of economic considerations, but they think that they could get away with cancelling it if NATO attacks Syria and Russia responds with "unprovoked aggression." NATO's attack IMO will be just large enough that Russia has to respond, then Trump and co. will cease further military action and continue with economic warfare.

Posted by: Timothy

[Apr 11, 2018] German MSM - leftish or rightish, doesn't matter - mindlessly repeat what our US colonial masters are telling them to

Notable quotes:
"... There is not a shred of independent, intelligent journalism left anywhere around here - and interestingly there is an amazing number of people who have completely given up believing the MSM and/or our government. ..."
Apr 11, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Martin MS | Apr 11, 2018 2:17:21 PM | 86

@ BM: My take on the situation in Germany: the MSM - leftish or rightish, doesn't matter - mindlessly repeat what our US colonial masters are telling them to.

There is not a shred of independent, intelligent journalism left anywhere around here - and interestingly there is an amazing number of people who have completely given up believing the MSM and/or our government.

But what can you do when the published opinions are completely manufactured and anyone has to suppose his neighbours all believe this idiocy?

Hmpf | Apr 11, 2018 2:06:44 PM | 113

@73 aaaaa

That's a bit of a stretch. Germans were demoralized long before, as each sane person knew the war will end in defeat from mid'42 on. Back in the days I had the somewhat questionable pleasure of talking to German ex-soldiers (two of my grand-uncles) that were deployed to the Eastern Front. Compared to the kind of warfare that was going on there, the fighting in the west and south was almost akin to being on vacation - I'm serious about that.

On average the Soviets, mainly comprised of todays Russian peoples, lost 16-18000 people a day, this is evidence of the fierceness of fighting and, also, to what amount of a beating the Russians can take without losing sight of their goal.

The Soviet Union did the real fighting against German forces. At all times there'd been about 85% of all German forces deployed to the east, without this there would had been no bombing campaign against Germany simply because the number of fighter aircraft available against allied bombers would had been overwhelming.

Except for a few elite units, hastily re-deployed from the east, the main force was inexperienced draftees with both a lack of proper training and equipment. All other experienced units stayed east in a desperate attempt to hold back the red army as long as any possible.

A very good friend of mine, who died a couple years back at age 84, was one of these unfortunate souls. When he turned 17 in late Dec.'44 he received an official letter that read 'A gift from the Fuhrer' - it was his draft note. That's been the kind of opponent the western allies faced late in the war, a bunch of badly under-equipped troops consisting of exhausted regulars and youths, that were scared shitless (his words, not mine).

Russia's a different kind of animal. They won WWII - European theater almost singlehandedly but had to pay dearly.

[Apr 11, 2018] History of the Jewish People

Apr 11, 2018 | www.unz.com

Ron Unz , April 11, 2018 at 4:16 am GMT

@anonymous

If either/both could get their hands on Heinrich Graetz's History of the Jewish People, vol. 5, Graetz traces the influence of Manasseh ben Israel ??? on first, Dutch Europeans then British, especially Cromwell.

Actually, the entire massive six volume set is online here, in a much more convenient and readable form, fully searchable as well:

http://www.unz.com/book/heinrich_graetz__history-of-the-jews/

[Apr 10, 2018] The Ghouta Massacre near Damascus on Aug 21, 2013 was not a sarin rocket attack carried out by Assad or his supporters. It was a false-flag stunt carried out by the insurgents using carbon monoxide or cyanide to murder children and use their corpses as bait to lure the Americans into attacking Assad.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "The primary conclusion of this study, based on a pharmacological analysis of the video and photographic evidence, is that the Ghouta Massacre near Damascus on Aug 21.2013 was not a sarin rocket attack carried out by Assad or his supporters. It was a false-flag stunt carried out by the insurgents using carbon monoxide or cyanide to murder children and use their corpses as bait to lure the Americans into attacking Assad." ..."
Apr 10, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Imagine , a day ago

"Murder in the Sun Morgue" by Dr. Denis O'Brien (neuropharmacology expert):

"The primary conclusion of this study, based on a pharmacological analysis of the video and photographic evidence, is that the Ghouta Massacre near Damascus on Aug 21.2013 was not a sarin rocket attack carried out by Assad or his supporters. It was a false-flag stunt carried out by the insurgents using carbon monoxide or cyanide to murder children and use their corpses as bait to lure the Americans into attacking Assad."

288 pp. analysis. Also, some had slit throats:

https://www.scribd.com/document/230748990/Murder-in-the-SunMorgue

[Apr 10, 2018] There was no chemical weapons attack," Nebenzia told the council. "Through the relevant channels we already conveyed to the US that airstrikes under mendacious pretext against Syria where, at the request of the legitimate government of a country, Russian troops have been deployed could lead to grave repercussions."

There is an interesting, probably greased by US and Uk governments money, connection between Guardian and white Helmets
Apr 10, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

"There was no chemical weapons attack," Nebenzia told the council. "Through the relevant channels we already conveyed to the US that armed forces under mendacious pretext against Syria – where, at the request of the legitimate government of a country, Russian troops have been deployed – could lead to grave repercussions."

A few hours earlier, Donald Trump said his administration was on the brink of deciding its response to the Douma attack. "We are meeting with our military and everybody else, and we'll be making some major decisions over the next 24 to 48 hours," he said at a cabinet meeting. "We are very concerned when a thing like that can happen. This is about humanity and it can't be allowed to happen."

Pressed by reporters, Trump went further, saying: "We'll be making that decision very quickly, probably by the end of today. But we cannot allow atrocities like that. Cannot allow it."

Trump ordered airstrikes against a Syrian airbase after a previous chemical weapons attack, in April last year. The latest use of poison gasprovoked from Trump unprecedented direct criticism of Putin, something he had previously been at pains to avoid.

... ... ...

In his address, Nebenzia suggested a visit to Douma by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) might be possible under Syrian and Russian military protection. The UK envoy to the UN, Karen Pierce, said the Russian proposal was "an offer worth pursuing" but she added that OPCW inspectors would have to have complete freedom of action and of access.

[Apr 10, 2018] Western neoliberals dreams about "regime change" in Russia and the possibility of yet another color revolution

Apr 10, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

rkka , 4 years ago

My vote is 'both'

As the global financial collapse unfolded in 2008-2009, I recall the delight that many Anglosphere commentators expressed over the prospect that the oil price collapse would devastate Russia economically, causing the Russian people to rise against Putin and all his works, and put FreeMarketReformers back in charge in Russia.

And once it became clear in the spring of 2009 that oil prices were rapidly recovering and that Russia's vast financial reserves were more than sufficient to absorb the blow, these same Anglosphere commentators expressed frustration that Russians had been insufficiently impoverished to overthrow Putin and put FreeMarketreformers back in charge.

It is as if the Angosphere Foreign Policy Elite and Punditocracy (AFPE&P)had no idea what Russians suffered in the '90s at the hands of FreeMarketReformers, suffering so severe that deaths were exceeding births by almost a million a year.

And President Obama recently revealed his utter cluelessness about Russia's present realities:

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

Apr 10, 2018 | www.foreignaffairs.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Apr 09, 2018] Trump to Decide Soon Whether to Retaliate for Barbaric Act in Syria

Chemical false flag attacks is the traditional way Syria islamists are calling for the US air support. From comments: "After all they had lost in Douma - there were no point in Syrian gas attack - the fighting was done. Jaish al Islam must be having a great laugh at our expensive for falling for their trick of gassing their own people. Let us not help the Islamists."
Anther interesting comment: "With "experts" at president's disposal, seems to me moment Trump announced Syrian withdrawal, at least one should have anticipated - based on past occurrences - a gas attack aimed to engage US and therefore maintain US presence."
And another " including their mouthpieces at the times manufacture a chemical attack and claim Assad -- who has no reason whatsoever to do such things -- is some horrible monster that deserves to have bombs rained down on him. How totally corrupt the MIC has become."
That act reported by White helmets looks like a classic MI6 provocation. Russian investigation has shown that no attack took place. Moreover the rumors about this false flag were circulating long ago. Russians warned about this possiblity a month or so ago telling the jihadists prepare such provocation. Looks like all that was needed for Trump is a plausible justification -- the desire to "decapitate" Assad is too strong to resist.
Notable quotes:
"... Syria is a crappy place primarily because of insane overpopulation and limited water. Getting Assad out is not going to help with population or with water. Moving the entire Syrian population to Europe could be done and they are working on that. ..."
"... With "experts" at president's disposal, seems to me moment Trump announced Syrian withdrawal, at least one should have anticipated - based on past occurrences - a gas attack aimed to engage US and therefore maintain US presence. ..."
Apr 09, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

President Trump on Monday denounced the suspected chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of people in Syria over the weekend as a "barbaric act," and said he will make a decision in the next 24 to 48 hours about whether to retaliate militarily as he did to a similar assault last year.


is a trusted commenter Providence 6 hours ago

Congress has skirted their responsibility to authorize war in Syria and Trump is suggesting taking actions that could drag us into a deep and costly war. The American people deserve to hear this debated in Congress.

angel98 nyc 6 hours ago

Retaliate? They don't even know for sure who it was, could well have been an ally. The place is a mess of competing outside forces.

Retaliate - and therein lies the problem. Too much to ask that for once they think, discuss, decide a long term policy with other countries. Last time the 45th tried 'me-big-man-with-bomb' there was no follow up, nothing was done, what was the point? Look at me I have the biggest, noisiest fire cracker! Pathetic. Careless. Irresponsible. Uniformed. Murderous. The list is endless.

HenryJ Durham 5 hours ago

I suppose the President can launch a missile attack, or any military action, based on whatever authority from Congress permitted the US military to be fighting in Syria in the first place. The more fundamental issue is that Congress long ago ceded to the President its constitutional responsibility to declare war . This must be corrected with checks restored on the President's power to deploy the military at will. Otherwise, the US will continue to be in a perpetual state of war, which may be good for the extended military supply industry but damaging to country as a whole.

michael new york city 5 hours ago

What if.....what if this chemical attack was sanctioned not by Assad but by a state or a non-state force that wants the U.S. to retaliate?
Just why did this chemical attack follow Trump's announced desire to get out of Syria?
Why, also, is Israel urging us to attack now? Could it be to distract from the human rights catastrophe in Gaza?
We all know what John Bolton would have us do.
Where's the proof that this was Assad's work? More WMD ?

Ed Watters San Francisco 3 hours ago

Trump wined and dined MBS of Saudi Arabia who has been conducting airstrikes on Yemen with hundreds of casualties, as high as 68 civilian deaths in one day. It would be hard to imagine a better example of hypocrisy.

Llewis N Cal 1 hour ago

Syria is a part of a complex series of issues that make up the problem of Middle Eastern diplomacy. Trump does not have the capacity to manage any of this. Selling arms to the Saudis to continue their war in Yemen added to the Syrian problem. The cholera epidemic in Yemen is a form of biological warfare that is killing more civilians than chemical warfare in Syria. Starving the population of Yemen is also warfare. By supporting the Saudis we have lost the moral high ground in Syria.

Hector Bellflower 16 minutes ago

Was it the rebels again? Or is it chlorine again? Chlorine is used for several commercial and health purposes--to clean bottles, to clean water, and for refrigeration. So it is quite easy for a bomb or explosive to hit a container and then there is a serious gas problem. If pool acid and chlorine are stored together it might be worse when mixed. I do not believe Assad needs to use chemicals because he has Russians who will do air strikes on his enemies. I call fake news.

AGC Lima 16 minutes ago

The solution to Syria was obvious years ago, if you just wanted to see the obvious. And that was Syria as it had been for years, in peace, secular, under a government of Assad who, eventually, knew it had to evolve into a more democratic regime . Now that has changed, and all to Israel´s advantage. It seems as if the whole world has forgotten that the whole Middle East problem was born, and is still the Occupation of Palestinian Land. Israel is a thorn in Arab Middle East.The only one that has attacked ALL its neighbours !

judyweller Cumberland, MD 45 minutes ago

We should do nothing. We need to leave Syria to the Syrian. We can't and musn't involve our military in every tragedy in the world. There is no doubt in my mind that if we mistakenly and stupidly attack the Syrian Army we are aiding the Jihadist who planned thit attack. After all they had lost in Douma - there were no point in Syrian gas attack - the fighting was done. Jaish al Islam must be having a great laugh at our expensive for falling for their trick of gassing their own people. Let us not help the Islamists.

H. Torbet San Francisco 56 minutes ago

The US government LIES about everything. We know this. This has been proved repeatedly.

Yet, here we are with the US government, and its stenographers in the mainstream media, i.e., the stuff that's not Fake News, right, assuring us that Assad gassed his own people. Again.

Even if we could believe this, or even if we gave the government the benefit of the doubt for . . . what? . . . its integrity?, we are after all exceptional, right, how is this America's business?

Yes, other countries shouldn't gas their own people. But countries shouldn't commit war crimes either, and that goes on every day. America is as dirty as any other country. Despite our treaty obligations, even torture is legal here.

We're supposedly the richest country in the world, but we can barely keep our streets paved and lit. And not only that, but it is a proven fact that one dollar invested in domestic economics brings back much more return than one dollar spent on bombs. Trump is right. We need to stomp the madness in the Middle East. The oil companies can pay for their own security with all of the money they don't pay in taxes.

Right now our cities are clogged with people living in tents and defecating on the sidewalks and in the streets. Look at old pictures from the Depression. It looks the same today.

Let's deal with the real problems.

Pepperman Philadelphia 1 hour ago

The left is seeing Russians responsible for every wrong in the world. The right sees itself as the rescuer of the wrongs of the world. I pray that this does not move this country into a war with Russia.

Tony E Rochester, NY 1 hour ago

This nation needs a "policy". Something with careful thought and backed by facts, expert analysis, and wisdom; Aim first and carefully.

A "Shoot from the Hip" flourish that can be touted at the next Trump self congratulatory ego rally Will Not Do. Either this nation has a leader or it doesn't - Trump's move!

Cari408 Los Angeles 1 hour ago

One of the few things I liked about Trump was his anti-involvement stance in the middle east. We have SO MUCH to fix and worry about at home. Nothing that Trump does on immigration, environment, or anything else will make me more angry than dragging us into another war.

Jim Houghton 1 hour ago

I don't see any ink being given to the very likely possibility that the gas attack was a ploy by rebels to get the US (and their air cover) to stick around. If you ask the question, "Who benefits?" the Assad regime had nothing to gain by gassing a few civilians -- they're about to win the war, so why would they? OTOH, the rebels need us badly, and know that we will reflexively blame Assad.

Whole Grains USA 1 hour ago

Just a few days ago, Trump talked about withdrawing from Syria. Now, he says he will decide whether to attack Syria within the next couple of days. One day we're out, the next day we're in. And just a few days ago, Trump said he didn't like to reveal his military plans in advance. Now, he is announcing to the world that he is consideration retaliation against Syria. His contradictions make the U.S. look as if it is led by a very confused commander in chief.

david rush seattle 1 hour ago

Yes, chemical weapons are barbaric, but who launched the attack? Which faction in this complicated civil war? How does trump know the answer to this question when no one else does? Why would the U.S. "retaliate" based on speculation, especially after trump recently said, "we need to get out of there and leave it to someone else"? What good would military action do at this point? Are we anxious to put our "expensive new military" to the test? So many questions...and an administration unable / unwilling to answer them. Too bad trump can't simply tweet his way out of this one...

John Pittsburgh/Cologne 1 hour ago

The U.S. should respond militarily to Syria's gas attack only on two conditions:

1. The leaders of all key U.S. allies (European countries, Canada, Japan, S. Korea, Australia, etc.) sign a joint declaration of support for the action.

2. Each of these countries pays a population-weighted share of the expense of the U.S. military operation.

We are either all in this together, or it's not worth doing.

Let's find out if our allies are willing to back up their pious declarations of condemnation.

Willie Rowe Madison, Wi 48 minutes ago

His action was to support ISIS there among other things. You feel he should have kept supporting ISIS?

Student Nu Yawk 2 hours ago

I don't get it. Subjecting people, women, children and even men, to crushing, burning, lacerating and penetrating wounds is par for the course. It's war after all. But poison! Oh the (in)humanity!

Also, anyone think it's weird that Assad does this just when the US is making motions to pull out?

It is impossible to know what is really going on as the world's powers continue to fight this proxy war. The only thing that is certain is the continued suffering of the Syrian people - including the poor sods who will be conventionally incinerated by American "retaliation" in a day or so.

. . 2 hours ago

NYT, CNN, Twitter: Nothing fishy here. Everything makes total and complete sense

Douglas Girardot Connecticut 2 hours ago

The President should have no authority to declare war or commit troops, period. So far, there has been no urgent "national emergency," as required by the War Powers Resolution, which would justify the President to effectively declare war unilaterally and yet here we are, with presidents on both sides completely ignoring the Constitution, using the WPA as an enabler to bypass the text which says that only Congress can declare war.

e.s. cleveland, OH 2 hours ago

Seems Israel and Saudi Arabia can bomb/kill at will and we just acquiesce.

as new york 2 hours ago

Saddam used gas on the Iranians and we were good with that. It is not clear about this gas in Syria. These "freedom fighters" have no compunction about using civilians as human shields. How do we know the truth? They are various branches of Al Quaeda and given their huge birth rate they don't seem to place much weight on human life in the here and now....maybe they focus on the afterlife more. So why can't we just leave Assad alone and let him be the strong man there? Yes Syria is a crappy place primarily because of insane overpopulation and limited water. Getting Assad out is not going to help with population or with water. Moving the entire Syrian population to Europe could be done and they are working on that.

Bobby H Massachusetts 2 hours ago

Trump says he was getting us out of Syria. Much to my relief to this endless war.

And I'm pretty sure the president of Syria, Assad, whose regime has been under attack by both the US supported Syrian rebels and their ISIS allies did not want the US on their soil. So why would he do something like this? I don't believe he did. By the way if the US was not meddling over in the M.E. there would be no refugees and fewer immigrants.

Rob Pittsburgh 2 hours ago

"Conventional" deaths by artillery and bullets are perfectly acceptable - when bodies are vaporized, ripped and torn apart unrecognizably. But use a deadly gas and leave the corpses in "beautiful" condition - there you have crossed the line mister.

RR Wisconsin 2 hours ago

Lemme get this straight: The US policy doesn't care *how many* Syrians were killed; it only cares *how* they were killed? Nothing good can come from such an ethically bankrupt policy.

e.s. cleveland, OH 57 minutes ago

I would rather have Assad than those Jihadists the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc. are backing. Just ask the Christians in Syria.

max byrd davis ca 2 hours ago

The president does not have the authority to bomb whenever he wants. If we had a Congress, it would its responsibility to authorize military action.

jhanzel Glenview, Illinois 2 hours ago

As painful as it is, the possession of chlorine is not in violation of the standards we all signed in to to stop chemical and biological weapons. Hence, the agreement under Obama, by almost all standards, worked well. Or at least unless we wanted a few hundred thousands troop on the ground to search the entire country. This use of chlorine is. Maybe Trump will propose a huge tariff on chlorine exports to Syria?

David Eike Virginia 2 hours ago

What is the logic for Assad to provoke the US right after Trump announces his intention to withdraw? Would it not be more strategic for the regime to hold off until US troops were withdrawn and then go after the rebels? Does Assad assume that the US response will be more moderate if we still have troops in country? Any chance this was a rogue action to delay or reverse US plans to withdraw? If so, who benefits from US continuing to maintain troops in Syria?

bmck Montreal 2 hours ago

With "experts" at president's disposal, seems to me moment Trump announced Syrian withdrawal, at least one should have anticipated - based on past occurrences - a gas attack aimed to engage US and therefore maintain US presence.

[Apr 09, 2018] Ghouta is Arabic for Reichstag Fire by Publius Tacitus

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The White Helmets' leadership is driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and public relations groups that back them. Anyone who visits the group's website -- which is operated by an opposition-funded PR company known as the Syria Campaign -- will be immediately directed to a request to sign a petition for a no-fly zone to "stop the bombs" in Syria. These sorts of communiques highlight the dual role the White Helmets play as a civil defense organization saving lives while lobbying for a US military campaign that will almost inevitably result in the collapse of Syria's government. ..."
"... While members of the White Helmets have been implicated in atrocities carried out by jihadist rebel groups, the names of many of the firms that supposedly monitor and evaluate their work have been kept secret by USAID on unspecified security grounds. ..."
"... That "Russia will "never be America's friend" is not disputed. What is missing is that "US and Russia cannot afford to be enemies". Nixon understood all of that 30 years ago. ..."
"... I agree that the uncritical and unwavering acceptance of the notion of Assad's chemical attacks on his people is ignorant and dangerous. It shows a true lack of imagination among the jihadis and their supporters. Not one of these attacks have been convincingly attributed to Assad's forces. To the contrary, the propaganda put out by the jihadis appears blatantly staged and bogus. The sooner we're out of Syria, the better. And the sooner Trump realizes unwavering support of the current Israeli regime is a cost center, the better. ..."
Apr 09, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

The dominant propaganda meme of the day, as already noted by Colonel Lang, is that Bashar al Assad unleashed chemical weapons on "innocent women and children" in rebel held territory and that Russia and Iran, along with Syria, are responsible. We MUST take action (or so we are told emphatically by morons pretending to be news anchors on the various cable outlets). Few media outlets are willing to report that this information is not only uncorroborated but originates with established liars and rebel partisans--i .e., the White Helmets. Oh, and did you know that the White Helmets are funded largely by the Governments of the UK and the United States?

It is critical to keep the source of funds in mind if you are to understand the true nature of these Islamic scam artists. Ironically, Max Blumenthal, son of the infamous Sid, has been a leader in exposing these fraudsters. Blumenthal wrote, more than three years ago, that :

The White Helmets' leadership is driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and public relations groups that back them. Anyone who visits the group's website -- which is operated by an opposition-funded PR company known as the Syria Campaign -- will be immediately directed to a request to sign a petition for a no-fly zone to "stop the bombs" in Syria. These sorts of communiques highlight the dual role the White Helmets play as a civil defense organization saving lives while lobbying for a US military campaign that will almost inevitably result in the collapse of Syria's government. . . .

The White Helmets were founded in collaboration with USAID's Office of Transitional Initiatives -- the wing that has promoted regime change around the world -- and have been provided with $23 million in funding from the department. USAID supplies the White Helmets through Chemonics, a for-profit contractor based in Washington DC that has become notorious for wasteful aid imbroglios from Haiti to Afghanistan.

While members of the White Helmets have been implicated in atrocities carried out by jihadist rebel groups, the names of many of the firms that supposedly monitor and evaluate their work have been kept secret by USAID on unspecified security grounds.


Anna , 12 hours ago

Nikki Haley: "Russia will "never be America's friend." Moscow can try to behave "like a regular country," but the US will "slap them when we need to," Haley said." ... "Everybody likes to listen to the words. I'm going to tell you – look at the actions," Haley urged. "We expelled 60 Russian diplomats/spies, we have armed Ukraine so that they can defend themselves..." https://www.rt.com/usa/423422-us-russia-stalemate-haley/

The UK has the pottery-boy Gavin Williamson as a Sec. of Defence and the US has a waste-management Nikki Haley as an US envoy to the United Nations. They both are ignoramuses and the eager ziocon tools.

Again, Israel's special relationships with anti-Assad forces and Israel's refusal to ratify the Chemical Arms Treaty make Israel the major suspect in the chemical attacks in Syria: https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-russia-links-syria-chemwar-to-israel-1.5333503

Babak Makkinejad Anna , 6 hours ago
That "Russia will "never be America's friend" is not disputed. What is missing is that "US and Russia cannot afford to be enemies". Nixon understood all of that 30 years ago.
Anna , a day ago
Yes. Has not Israel given orders? - https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/04/urgent-syria-under-attack/
Sid Finster , 2 hours ago
Sociopaths care nothing for logic or morality of they stabs in the way of something they want. Like the Reichstag fire.

I don't understand why people refuse to see that we are run by sociopaths, or, at a minimum, by people indistinguishable from sociopaths.

Kooshy , 9 hours ago
I think Colonel is absolutely right, all signs are, that everybody on both sides are getting ready for a war, how big, and who will participate, nobody knows yet would it be 2 oceans and 3 continents war or just concentrated on Eurasia? Unfortunately, I think DJT' canoe has sunken in the swamp he said he will drain, or IMO he didn't even know what he is talking about, or is dealing with.
TTG , 9 hours ago
I agree that the uncritical and unwavering acceptance of the notion of Assad's chemical attacks on his people is ignorant and dangerous. It shows a true lack of imagination among the jihadis and their supporters. Not one of these attacks have been convincingly attributed to Assad's forces. To the contrary, the propaganda put out by the jihadis appears blatantly staged and bogus. The sooner we're out of Syria, the better. And the sooner Trump realizes unwavering support of the current Israeli regime is a cost center, the better.
Terry , 11 hours ago
Thank you for reopening comments. I missed my tribe of non-conformists thinkers and all the various viewpoints. :-)

The insanity and distortion of reality and facts is getting extreme. Unfortunately tribalism with it's baggage of historical grievances, partisan loyalties, and mob mentalities are growing as our society returns to default human social behaviour while loyalty to the binding myths and ideas of the constitution and the founding of our republic fade. Truth is a casualty. Facts don't matter. Conformity to whatever tribal identity selected is the norm. Science show that there is a real decline in the higher brain functions when mobs form.

A good article on our decline into tribalism -

https://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/can-democracy-survive-tribalism.html

SmoothieX12 , 11 hours ago
If the Russians don't respond in some discrete but substantive way, their presence, efforts and international prestige will have vanished by tomorrow morning.

Your "grasp" of air-defense issues, including suggestion of shooting down aircraft in Lebanon's (international) airspace, among many other things clearly shows an armchair "strategist" (no offense, I am one myself) who played, unlike me--I don't play video games, too much video-games and thinks that he knows better than say Russian General Staff. Indeed, what do they know, really--what a bunch of amateurs who do not follow your highly professional suggestion.

robt willmann , 12 hours ago
The Russian Defense Ministry is now saying that 8 missiles were fired at the Syrian T4 airfield and airbase from Israeli airplanes flying inside Lebanon. The report says that 5 of the missiles were knocked down by antiaircraft / missile defense systems and that 3 of them hit the area of the airfield--

https://apnews.com/d965ed6a364f46fd9888acb9001de501/Israel-blamed-for-missile-strike-in-Syria;-14-reported-dead

https://www.rt.com/news/423545-israel-planes-syria-strike/

Anna , 12 hours ago
Agree.
The theater of absurd: Israelis "are shooting with live ammunition at people without guns:" Play Hide
james , 18 hours ago
israel to the rescue... they have to protect isis! and where would they be without regular support from the usa / uk.... white helmets are a pale imitation of israel at this point..
Hood Canal Gardner , 20 hours ago
PT .. thanks for the "outing" of Chemonics .. add Pakistan/HCG got a brick through his Islamabad bedroom window in the early1990s..tucked tail.

"Chemonics, a for-profit contractor based in Washington DC that has become notorious for wasteful aid imbroglios from Haiti to Afghanistan."

Karl Kolchak , 20 hours ago
"...a large number of supposedly intelligent Republicans and Democrats..."

There's no such thing any more. Both parties chased their intelligent leaders out a long time ago. Indeed, this is a repeat of the Cuban Missile Crisis with a bunch of emotional ten-year-olds in charge.

Kathy , 20 hours ago
Slightly OT, but in poking around the SCL/Cambridge Analytica web of intrigue, I found this tantalizing Wikipedia account of Vincent Tchenguiz, the largest shareholder in CA. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_Tchenguiz

Some people are truly not fit to walk on this earth.

blue peacock , 20 hours ago
PT

This is getting more and more ridiculous. From the ludicrous novichok caper that May and Boris have made into a Monty Python skit to the yet another theatrical chemical attack performance starring the perennial Syrian villain, Animal Assad and the increasingly heated rhetoric emanating from DC, London, Beijing and Moscow. Of course with all the bugles and trumpets blowing from the hysterical media with the Borg agenda trying to cajole a highly skeptical public.

What do you make of all this? Is the Borg getting really desperate that their gig may be up? That their deceit and duplicity will be uncovered.

We have Brennan, Holder, Yates busy tweeting along with Trump. There is McCabe and his GoFundMe. We have Comey's book tour and even Loretta Lynch is to hit the airwaves. All to spin tales that less people believe unless of course you are a card carrying partisan. Then there is Sessions making announcements of US Attorneys investigating and possibly convening grand juries and supervising document production to Congress around the conspiracy at the highest levels of law enforcement & intelligence in the Obama administration. Is this Reality TV at it's best putting Jerry Springer to shame??

What does your spidy sense tell you?

wisedupearly Ceo , 21 hours ago
I trust the Pentagon warned Israel not to launch cruise missiles from their submarines close to US surface fleet units.
Anna , 21 hours ago
"If the Russians don't respond... their international prestige will have vanished..."
-- What are you implying -- that only deception, perfidy, and bullying deserve "prestige?" Would not it be great if the decent people have finally explained the "prestigious" Nikki Haley that she is an ignoramus and warmonger? And how about sending Gavin Williamson to his familiar proper place where he could resume selling the fine pottery and ceramic countertops instead of being a mockery to his current post of Sec of Defence?

What is so prestigious about the opportunistic Theresa May and Boris Johnson, whose incompetent actions have been highly damaging to the UK reputation? And guess that the criminal (but very pious) Tony Blair fits the definition of "prestige."

There are people whose response is indeed important from the perspective of decency and competence and patriotism – these people are the US brass in the highest echelons of the US military. Do they serve the interests of the US or the interests of Israel? The question is very simple. The answer is yes or no.

Saker asks for patience: http://thesaker.is/missile-strikes-on-syria-tonight-do-not-rush-to-conclusions-please-post-here-what-you-hear/
Comment section: "The Lord Has Risen, and the forces of evil are rabid for more Death and Destruction."

Peter in Toronto , a day ago
Salvos underway.

If the Russians don't respond in some discrete but substantive way, their presence, efforts and international prestige will have vanished by tomorrow morning.

The Beaver , a day ago
T4 -East Homs being hit . Looks like the ISRAELIS are sending missiles
Anna , a day ago
"His master's voice (or how an obedient dog goes to war)": http://thesaker.is/his-masters-voice-or-how-an-obedient-dog-goes-to-war/
"Israeli officials: the "U.S. must strike in Syria" because "Assad is the angel of death, and the world would be better without him."
Ziomedia is willing to report the Skripal nonsense with a straight face After all, if the Russians could use "Novichok and buckwheat" in the UK, why would they not use chemical weapons in Syria? And, no, the fact that neither the Russians nor the Syrians actually have any chemical weapons (both were fully disarmed and certified as such) makes absolutely no difference! "
And what country does not want to declare her chemical weapon? – http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/175032
"The head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Tuesday called on Israel to renounce chemical weapons and join the convention banning them just like Syria did."
Not In Istanbul , a day ago
Cruise missile strikes are currently underway...
Anna , a day ago
"...Owen Matthews' article at The Spectator betrays the kind of factual sloppiness that is typical of the pundit-political-business classes in the West today."
-- In this case it is more than sloppiness: Owen Matthews is an opportunist loaded with the tribal grievances against Russia:
http://www.greanvillepost.com/2017/11/02/re-visiting-russian-counter-propaganda-methods/
"... in his book "Stalin's Children" Matthews clearly takes sides with, endorses and, possibly, even covers up for his Trotskyist Commissar grandfather and that makes him a fair target for criticism"
jjc , a day ago
The constant repetitive referral to "Obama's red line" has been effective in shaping a preferred response to these alleged attacks. Contrary to today's conventional wisdom, Obama did not "fail" to enforce his own line - the administration through its own State Department was quite prepared to rain bombs down on Damascus, but faced political opposition from Congress (as did Cameron's UK government fail to achieve support for the bombing in its Parliament). Congressional opposition was sparked by robust opposition from citizens/ constituents in the form of communications directed to their Congressional offices. This was all reported by the mainstream media at the time, yet a false recounting is predominant today. The "unrelenting information operation" is not possible without the witting collaboration of the supposed "free" media. The ownership and editorial staff of such are as fully responsible for this frightening state of affairs as anyone else.
blowback , a day ago
The SOHR has some pretty solid reporting on what is going on in Douma. They make no mention of any use of chemical weapons in Douma, but instead attribute the deaths to suffocation resulting from the destruction of cellars containing civilians:
And with the death of more citizens, it has increased to 96 at least including 27 children and 16 woman, the number of persons who have been killed since Friday, and the death toll is expected to rise because there are some people in critical situation, where reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that some of the casualties and wounded suffocated as a result of the demolition of home basements due to the heavy and intense shelling on Douma city, and the trusted sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory of Rights that the number of injuries today has exceeds 500, including tens of children and tens of women, where more than 70 of them have suffered suffocation as a result of the demolition of home basements over them due to the heavy and intense shelling on the last area beyond the regime forces' control in the Eastern Ghouta , which is the stronghold of Jaysh al-Islam, and the Syrian Observatory published hours ago that 11 people at least including 5 children had suffocated, after bombardment by a warplane on an area near the old cemetery at the northern outskirts of Douma city in the Eastern Ghouta, also the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published that violent clashes taking place between the regime forces and their allied militiamen of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities against Jaish Al-Islam in areas in the vicinity of Douma area, where the regime forces continue their attempts to achieve more advancement in the area after they managed today morning to advance in the farms of Douma from the direction of Al-Raihan area. The regime forces managed to advance in 50 farms in the area following series of ongoing ground and aerial shelling of the regime forces and their warplanes and helicopters, which target the city and its vicinity.


http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=88817
Recent articles from SOHR can be found here:
http://www.syriahr.com/en/?cat=26&paged=2
and here:
http://www.syriahr.com/en/?cat=26

Jaish al-Islam asked for quarter as the SAA appears to have broken Jaish al-Islam's defensive lines making their position in Douma untenable.

Imagine , a day ago
"Murder in the Sun Morgue" by Dr. Denis O'Brien (neuropharmacology expert):

"The primary conclusion of this study, based on a pharmacological analysis of the video and photographic evidence, is that the Ghouta Massacre near Damascus on Aug 21.2013 was not a sarin rocket attack carried out by Assad or his supporters. It was a false-flag stunt carried out by the insurgents using carbon monoxide or cyanide to murder children and use their corpses as bait to lure the Americans into attacking Assad."

288 pp. analysis. Also, some had slit throats:
https://www.scribd.com/document/230748990/Murder-in-the-SunMorgue

Swamp Yankee , a day ago
Thank you for this, Publius Tacitus -- and to you, Colonel Lang, re-opening the comments section here at SST.

I think it's notable that Owen Matthews' article at The Spectator betrays the kind of factual sloppiness that is typical of the pundit-political-business classes in the West today. For of course, "Arsenal of Democracy" is a phrase associated not with Truman but with Franklin Roosevelt.

I was the working-class scholarship kid at one of the elite educational institutions that forms a feeder-conduit to these echelons of media, political, and economic power, and one thing I have remarked is the utter mediocrity and laziness of so many members of our ruling class. As Corey Robin found out when he had an exchange with Chelsea Clinton over Hannah Arendt, and I discovered as an undergrad and in grad school, many of them simply never did the reading. They relied then, and still do today, on group-think and sheep-like intellectual conformity, which, of course, is then magnificently (and munificently!) rewarded. I also discovered that even when they did read something, it made no impression on them, not in any real way, they failed to keep the lessons taught thereby in their head once it was no longer needed for an exam or a paper.

To be led by fools such as these into a world war -- and why? -- is lunacy. That's why I'm grateful for places like this Committee to keep the home-fires of sanity burning. Thanks again, and let's hope that peace prevails, against the devoutly-hoped wishes of the Borg.

Patrick Armstrong , 10 hours ago
An excellent summary, I posted it on FB and VK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Apr 09, 2018] Guardian neoliberal presstitutes still call Magnitsky a lawyer and financial racketeer Browder a victim. Magnitsky he was Broder tax avoidance accountant and was an auditor by training

Nov 18, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Originally from: Putin accuses British anti-corruption campaigner Browder of three murders World news The Guardian

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has accused prominent British businessman Bill Browder of being a "serial killer" – the latest extraordinary attempt by the Kremlin to frame one of its most high-profile public enemies.

Court documents seen by the Observer reveal that Russian state investigators have named Browder, a London-based hedge fund manager, as the suspect behind the mysterious murders of three men.

All three deaths are linked to a £174m fraud believed to have involved Russian officials -- a crime that was uncovered by Browder's Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, in 2008. Magnitsky was subsequently imprisoned on charges widely considered to be false, and died in jail amid claims he was tortured.

Browder, once the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia, has infuriated Putin by lobbying western governments to punish those responsible for Magnitsky's death. A number of countries have imposed sanctions on individuals believed to be involved.

[Apr 09, 2018] Putin really dropped the ball on the Libya No-Fly Resolution trusting the evil empire

Apr 09, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Circe , Apr 8, 2018 3:59:20 PM | 93

Putin really dropped the ball on the Libya No-Fly Resolution trusting the evil empire. Now the stakes
are even higher. The absolute worse news in all this is that Trump is bringing in Bolton as his lunatic
wing man at the worst possible time when things were looking like they were wrapping up in Syria.
Bolton is the male version of Hillary on steroids. Trump is going to hide behind Bolton's
mustache - you know, me good cop; Bolton bad cop; IOW, don't blame me for what needs to be done. Trump gifted
Jerusalem to Netanyahu, and now he's going to gift him Syria too. The Iran deal will
also get scrapped soon and that's more gasoline on a fire that's about to get out of control. Here's one way
to distract from the Mueller investigation; start a war and rally the county under
a common cause: war with Syria, ergo Russia and then Iran.

It's as I said from day one: Trump can't help himself; he's always been a Zio-con and Adelson
is getting his money's worth. It's all going to happen as I always said it would. Trump was the perfect puppet.

Trump will look like the savior of the realm; a role his big fat ego always dreamed of and won't resist.

Now, there still might be a way out of this potential catastrophe. Admit it, wouldn't it be nice if Putin
really was holding back something big regarding Trump?

*sigh* - if only! Very soon would be a good time to drop it. Manafort?

James , Apr 8, 2018 4:35:09 PM | 99

Circe Medvedev was President

However the responsibility for what happened in Libya is with the western poweres of NATO

they. dropped the bombs and armed the jihadis.

The blame lies with them not Russia

As for the tone of the rest of your post-

War is not a pissing contest

It involves loss of life destruction of families, communities, countries.

Russia has a reason to be there - what is the agenda of the western powered beyond destroying a country like they did Libya

[Apr 08, 2018] Russia Will Never Be Our Friend, We'll Slap Them When Needed

Looks like Haley is competing with Boris Johnson in diplomatic skills
Apr 07, 2018 | www.youtube.com

Originally from: ISRAEL is our GREAT FRIEND RUSSIA can NEVER be our FRIEND, we'll SLAP them when Needed -- NIKKI HALEY

Nikki Haley has erupted in another fiery Russophobic rant, warning that Russia will "never be America's friend." Moscow can try to behave "like a regular country," but the US will "slap them when we need to," Haley said.
The US ambassador to the UN is not known for her friendly stance toward Moscow, but her new take on US-Russia relations stands out among even her most rabid ramblings. Speaking at Duke University in North Carolina on Friday, Haley admitted that friendly relations with Russia is an unlikely prospect, adding that the Trump team has done more against Moscow than any other administration since Ronald Reagan's tenure.

"Russia's never going to be our friend," Haley told students at a Q&A session, responding to a question about "holding Russia
accountable" for alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The diplomat said Washington still works with Moscow "when we need to, and we slap them when we need to."

She then raised the stakes further: "Everybody likes to listen to the words. I'm going to tell you – look at the actions," Haley urged. "We expelled 60 Russian diplomats/spies, we have armed Ukraine so that they can defend themselves," she added.

According to the UN envoy, the US is doing "two things Russia would never want us to do," namely enlarging the military and expanding its energy policy. "So, this president has done more against Russia than any president since Reagan," she asserted.

"You haven't seen the end of what this administration will do to Russia. You will continue to see that play out," she stressed.
Cooling down the degree of Russia-bashing in her speech, Haley said the US and Russia do cooperate on Afghanistan and Africa, looking out for areas of mutual interest. Meanwhile, she claimed, "our relations with Russia depend solely on Russia."

[Apr 08, 2018] Expropriation of many of Russian oligarch is on the agenda

Notable quotes:
"... Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government's destabilizing activities. ..."
Apr 08, 2018 | theduran.com

The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites. The Russian government engages in a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities.

Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government's destabilizing activities.

[Apr 07, 2018] Latest US sanctions on Russia: incitement to a coup and a new form of protectionism by Alexander Mercouris

The US lost proper timing for the coup -- it was possible in 2011-2012 timeframe. Now hardly. And if one think that Russian oligarchs will sitting quietly while the West expropriate their money, think again. China banks do exist, if I am not mistaken. And some other nations also have pretty developed financial sector.
I do not think that Russia should or can cut ties with the USA. Dependence of the US technological sector is substantial and cutting the ties might backfire. This is the calculation of the UIS lawmakers, who enjoyed the impunity of the unipolar moment. But bumerang always retrun. sooner or later.
Notable quotes:
"... The latest sanctions seem concerned as much with protecting the US's economic positions as punishing Russia ..."
"... Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government's destabilizing activities. ..."
"... irrespective of anything they do ..."
Apr 07, 2018 | theduran.com

The latest sanctions seem concerned as much with protecting the US's economic positions as punishing Russia

The latest round of sanctions the US Treasury has imposed on Russia are a strange affair.

Earlier rounds of sanctions have been linked to specific acts of real or alleged Russian misbehaviour e.g. the death of Sergey Magnitsky, the Crimean crisis, the war in the Donbass, the shooting down of MH17, and the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election.

This latest round of sanctions is different in that it is not directly linked to any Russian action – real or alleged – at all. Nor are the people sanctioned – for example the Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska – directly accused of anything.

In place of any specific accusation against Russia or any of the individuals concerned, here is how a statemen t from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin justifies the latest sanctions

The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites. The Russian government engages in a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities. Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government's destabilizing activities.

(bold italics added)

In other words Russia is a bad corrupt country which does lots of bad things around the world of which the US disapproves. Anyone in Russia who is rich ("an oligarch") and is therefore "profiting from this corrupt system" is in some way responsible and risks being sanctioned irrespective of anything they do unless this changes.

The implication is that if they do not want to be sanctioned the "oligarchs" must overthrow Russia's government.

The latest sanctions are therefore an incitement to a coup. All other steps the US has taken having failed , Russia's businessmen ("oligarchs") are now being told that unless they engineer the overthrow of Russia's government they will be sanctioned.

The first thing to say about this policy is that it is decades out of date.

There was a time in the 1990s when a small group of stratospherically wealthy and corrupt individuals really did control Russia's government.

By way of example, most of the people who met in the Kremlin during the 1998 financial crisis to decide whether or not to devalue the ruble were not members of the government or even officials, and the meeting during which the decision was finally taken to devalue the ruble was chaired not by a government minister but by the former Acting Prime Minister of Russia Yegor Gaidar, who at the time was neither a member of the government nor an official, but who was merely an adviser of Russia's President, Boris Yeltsin, who was at the time away reviewing the fleet.

The decision was in fact made by the same small group of wealthy and corrupt individuals who at that time really did control Russia's government, meeting informally under Gaidar's chairmanship, and not through the official structures.

It is not a misconception to call these individuals "oligarchs". In the 1990s that is exactly what they were. The most politically powerful amongst them – Boris Berezovsky – was not even properly speaking a businessman.

That is not the situation in Russia today. A person like Oleg Deripaska – the aluminium magnate whose name appears on the latest sanctions list – may be a person of great influence and power. However he does not control Russia's government, and has no means to do so.

I should say that I first came across the suggestion that the "oligarchs" could be mobilised to overthrow President Putin or force him to reverse his policies by imposing sanctions upon them in early 2014 at the start of the Ukrainian crisis.

As I recall reports appeared in the media that the German intelligence agency the BND was advising Chancellor Merkel that if the EU imposed sanctions on Russia the "oligarchs" would either force President Putin to change course or would overthrow him in order to save their fortunes.

Many rounds of sanctions later one might suppose that that theory had been tested to destruction. However Steven Mnuchin's statement suggests that faith in it dies hard.

The latest round of sanctions the US has imposed on Russian businessmen and their companies will not weaken President Putin's position or that of the Russian government, and will not affect Russia's economy.

As China's semi-official English language newspaper Global Times has recently pointed out, Russia – unlike countries like Iran – has a big largely self-sufficient continental sized economy possessing immense scientific, technological and natural resources, making it therefore largely immune to sanctions.

As for the wealthy Russian individuals who the latest sanctions are targeting, the reason so many of them keep money abroad is not because they control Russia's government, but because they do not control it, and do not wholly trust it.

The result is that they have been squirreling away much of their money abroad, beyond their government's reach.

Now what they are discovering is that their money is at far greater risk of being seized by the US government than by their own – something the Russian government has been telling them for years – so that it is in fact safer kept at home than it is squirreled away abroad.


AM Hants VeeNarian (Yerevan) 16 hours ago ,

Do not think Russia is in the mood to be Diplomatic or generous. Though, they will always be polite and show their manners and respect for International Law, up on the world stage. Do believe the UK and US have seriously crossed the red line. Short term pain for long term gain, so comes to mind.

Raycomeau AM Hants 8 hours ago ,

With Theresa May and Donald Trump as leaders it is no wonder the world is in such a mess. Putin is the only adult left to lead on the world stage. We will do better listening to Putin. The history of the warmongers (UK and USA ) should never be ignored...

AM Hants Raycomeau 7 hours ago ,

Must, admit, I find it so reassuring the way that President Putin and President Xi-Jinping, work together. Plus, President Duterte, he might be tactless, but, unlike Trump, he comes across trustworthy and with a love of his nation and people. Not forgetting President Assad, all Syria has been through, yet, he will not leave his people and neither will his family. It is nice to see a different form of politician, that is managing to come through and help another learn from their values.

Together, with the fact that President Putin, would not be where he is, without a very confident and strong team behind him.

louis robert 14 hours ago ,

"Russia won't "be spoken to in the language of sanctions"..."?

IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!

No country that has self-respect, no respectable person can possibly accept to be spoken to and treated generally in that disgustingly arrogant, beyond contemptuous manner. The terms and acts of abuse used by the Empire's representatives, including in the most "prestigious" international institutions, have by now gone way too far repeatedly (a euphemism!!!), with no limit in sight.

It is time for Russia and Russians to impose respect to those creatures come straight out of the Empire's swamps and sewers! Being treated as they now accept to be treated by the Empire is beyond unacceptable. To hear Russia's highest representatives refer to such despicably disgusting bullies as "partners" is not amusing anymore. Only unbearably painful...

Time to STOP playing the part of the poor victim of the Empire (US+EU+NATO+other bits...). Time to adopt China's model, China now promising to hit the Empire hard and till the very end of that war on tariffs. "Even if the Trump administration wants to take the trade war to the direction that bilateral trade and investment is suppressed to zero, China will meet all the challenges."

[Apr 07, 2018] Richest one percent will own two-thirds of all wealth by 2030 by Michael Savage

Neoliberalism as a social system is self-destructive -- similar to Trotskyism from which it was derived.
World leaders urged to act as anger over inequality reaches a 'tipping point'
Typical neoliberal mantra "need to rise productivity" is a typical neoliberal fake: look at Amazon for shining example here.
Notable quotes:
"... The real focus of our taxation system should be to tax wealth and recipients of silly amounts of annual income. ..."
"... Ur talking about something called "Reagan-nomics" or what was commonly and lovingly referred to as "trickle down economics". After the destruction of unionized labor, years of globalization, record profits for corporations & wall street and a high octane doze of Reagan / Thatcher Neoliberalism, "trickle down" has obviously been a complete failure. ..."
Apr 07, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

An alarming projection produced by the House of Commons library suggests that if trends seen since the 2008 financial crash were to continue, then the top 1% will hold 64% of the world's wealth by 2030. Even taking the financial crash into account, and measuring their assets over a longer period, they would still hold more than half of all wealth.

Since 2008, the wealth of the richest 1% has been growing at an average of 6% a year – much faster than the 3% growth in wealth of the remaining 99% of the world's population. Should that continue, the top 1% would hold wealth equating to $305tn (£216.5tn) – up from $140tn today.


BrianSand , 7 Apr 2018 14:53

The population of third world countries is skyrocketing. The population of developed countries, outside the importation of poor immigrants, is static. The top 1% of world population will continuously become comparatively richer as long as this is the case.
feliciafarrel -> apaliteno , 7 Apr 2018 14:50

but there's no way the UK has 10 million of the world's richest 75 million.

You need £550,000 to be in the top 1% in the world.

In the UK there are 27m households with an average of 1.94 adults per household.

25% of households have £550,000 or more.

That means 6.75m households are in the top 1% of the world, At 1.94 adults per household, that's 13,000,000 people.

However, assuming households are not 'legal people' but the adults within them are, then you'd have to divide household income by the number of adults (1.94) to get the wealth per person. So to reach £550,000 per person, a household would have to have net wealth of £1.067m, and only 10% of households have that wealth.

10% of 27m is 2.7m and that equates to only 5,240,000 people.

So in terms of households we easily reach 10m mark, but in terms of individual people, you are correct, it is 'only' 5.24m. Still and awful lot of people though.

Landlord52 -> Whattayagonnado huh , 7 Apr 2018 14:46
A single mother get £20k on benefits per years. Over 18 years that is £360,000. She has two kids, so that iwill cost £3,000 in education per years. 2 kids x 14 years x £3,500 per years = £98,000. We pay for child birth costs, free vaccinations, anti-natal care, free prescriptions, free eye care, free dental care, free school meals, we pay her countal tax bil. Plus if she is lucky, she get a free £450,000 council home.

Even if she works for a few years, it will never be enough to pay what she has received from the state. PLus we have to make provisions for her pension and her elderly care, meals on wheels, elderly health care etc...

That is easily £1m to £2million per single mother....

yeah... we are such a terrible society....

PotholeKid -> counttrumpage , 7 Apr 2018 14:45
The plebs are well on the way to figuring it out alright and so have the 1%. That's we now live under a militarized surveillance state which serves the elites.. Think again if voting will ever change this.. Bernie was doomed from the getgo.
hundredhander , 7 Apr 2018 14:42
I think the principle here is that the longer this goes on and the greater inequality becomes then the more extreme will be the countervailing force.

It is in everybody's interest that the world becomes fairer. That governments govern in the interests of as many people as possible. That public services like health and education are available to all regardless. That taxes are progressive and that governments have international treaties to deal with tax avoidance and evasion. That our democratic processes are as robust as possible and that all our organs of state are as transparent as possible and open to scrutiny to the public.

If the accumulation of wealth on this scale continues unabated it will end in tears... inevitably.

Furthermore I believe that there is a relationship between inequality - and all the things that go with it and follow from it - and environmental degradation.

Greater fairness between individuals and between countries is, in my opinion, one of the essential requirements for us to surmount the epic problems that we face in the world today.

DogsLivesMatter , 7 Apr 2018 14:41
I think most of us have are aware of what really happens at Davos. The wealthy and powerful are cooking up more schemes to screw the 99% over. Your Bono's and your Bill Gates are no friends to the working class or the working poor. Take Jeff Bezos for example. He has a mass of wealth totaling $112 Billion.

Jeff Bezos, or even Bill Gates could do that in an instant and still have Billions to spare. The super rich don't care about "regular" people, and never have.


Peter Rabbit ComfortablyPlumb 7 Apr 2018 14:25

This is the Osborne analogy regurgitated.

If you live in a £2.5 million house, you are wealthy, not average or poor. To be wealthy is not some form of human rights entitlement, especially if it is at the cost of the overwhelming majority. This concept is known as "greed" and "selfishness". Obviously your mantra is that of Gordon Gekko "greed is good".

The real focus of our taxation system should be to tax wealth and recipients of silly amounts of annual income.

All these arguments are dated and are applicable to the Thatcher era of the early 1980s which has long gone and is not going to return. The problem facing our society currently is run away social and economic inequality and the entrenchment of substantial wealth for a very small number of people which is fuelling generational social and inequality.


TakoradiMan BrotherLead 7 Apr 2018 14:24

I presume that most those living in the U.K. will fall within top 1% which the Guardianista loath so much.

I'm sorry but this post is utterly clueless.

To be in the top 1% you need to have a household income of well over £50k per annum (closer to £100k I suspect - no one here has yet given very authoritative figures); only a fraction of the UK population are that well off.

AnneK1 Landlord52 7 Apr 2018 14:24

Except that they don't and the charities have to come along and ask us for more money because the public sector haven't used tax revenue efficiently. I would say Britain's ineffective public sector are the greatest threat to Corbyn's chances of forming the government we need to rid us of these dangerous Tories.

PeterlooSunset 7 Apr 2018 14:24

The richest 1% own the corporate media (including the private equity firms keeping the Guardian afloat) that keep telling us we have to focus our attention on identity politics while they loot all the wealth.


prematureoptimsim -> Inthesticks 7 Apr 2018 14:23

Ur talking about something called "Reagan-nomics" or what was commonly and lovingly referred to as "trickle down economics". After the destruction of unionized labor, years of globalization, record profits for corporations & wall street and a high octane doze of Reagan / Thatcher Neoliberalism, "trickle down" has obviously been a complete failure.

U need proof ? Just examine recent history of presidential elections. . . .

  1. Barack Obama - ( Mr. Hope and Change )
  2. Donald Trump - ( Mr. Make America Great Again ).

And in the end it's the same as it ever was. The rich get richer and. . . . Well u know the rest. Good luck to u. Enjoy ur crumbs.

[Apr 07, 2018] Why Is Trump Targeting China and Russia

For some reason Trump is trying to antagonize Iran, Russia and China simultaneously. It is unclear that is the game plan of Trump administration, if any.
Notable quotes:
"... Tillerson, who not only called his boss a "moron" but was also the worst secretary of state in history, the national security council is likely headed for a new adviser as well. McMaster, too, has proved to be a dud, but whether his successor would be any better is an open question. Indeed, a top candidate to replace him is none other than John Bolton, the former George W. Bush ambassador to the United Nations who counsels a very tough line against Iran. ..."
"... Add Bolton to the mix and you have what amounts to a war cabinet against Iran. Defense Secretary James Mattis would be outnumbered and outgunned. His ally, Tillerson, wanted to negotiate with Iran and opposed summarily terminating the agreement. ..."
"... If this occurs, the irony will be rich. Trump campaigned as someone who would not be George W. Bush redux. In fact, he specifically denounced Bush in the South Carolina debate for lying about the pretext for war in Iraq. But that was then. ..."
Apr 07, 2018 | nationalinterest.org

Now that Trump has polished off the plodding Tillerson, who not only called his boss a "moron" but was also the worst secretary of state in history, the national security council is likely headed for a new adviser as well. McMaster, too, has proved to be a dud, but whether his successor would be any better is an open question. Indeed, a top candidate to replace him is none other than John Bolton, the former George W. Bush ambassador to the United Nations who counsels a very tough line against Iran.

The likelihood that America will go to war against Tehran has risen. The 2015 Iran nuclear deal is now essentially null and void. In his remarks today, Trump emphasized that he and Tillerson clashed over the Iran nuclear deal: "I guess [Tillerson] thought it was okay. I wanted to either break it, or do something, and he felt a little bit differently. So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process."

They do indeed. Pompeo has himself always counseled a tough line against Iran and Islam. Speaking to a church group in Wichita, Kansas in 2014, he explained : "This threat to America" comes from Muslims "who deeply believe that Islam is the way and the light and the only answer."

"They abhor Christians," he said, "and will continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world." Pompeo is also close to Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy. He appeared on his radio show dozens of times as a Congressman and received an award from him.

Add Bolton to the mix and you have what amounts to a war cabinet against Iran. Defense Secretary James Mattis would be outnumbered and outgunned. His ally, Tillerson, wanted to negotiate with Iran and opposed summarily terminating the agreement.

If this occurs, the irony will be rich. Trump campaigned as someone who would not be George W. Bush redux. In fact, he specifically denounced Bush in the South Carolina debate for lying about the pretext for war in Iraq. But that was then.

If he goes down the route to war with Iran, he will be George W. Bush on steroids. Bush went to war against Iraq, not Iran, because he knew that it was a much tougher nut to crack. If Trump becomes enmeshed in a new war in the Middle East, his presidency will almost surely go down in history as a catastrophic failure.


Nicole Temple a day ago ,

Here is an interesting look at which Americans will be impacted by the ongoing trade dispute with China:

https://viableopposition.bl...

Despite Donald Trump's beliefs that trade wars are easy to win, history suggests that there is always a loser in a trade war and in the trade conflict with China, America is likely to fare poorly.

Danoreno 4 hours ago ,

I'm not a policy expert but I do have a small business and when a fellow employee doesn't work out, he's fired. Is that not the gold standard of running a company anymore, vetting quality people for the correct positions?

Rex was not the right choice from the start, Trump listened to whom ever and they picked Rex, not Trump's choice. Trump picks younger more multi dynamic people Rex was only good at one thing, the Petroleum industry, and that is up for discussion too.

BigMike 13 hours ago ,

Regarding Russia I have a sneaking suspicion that Trump has struck a Faustian bargain with Mueller's investigating team. There has been a palpable shift it seems.

[Apr 07, 2018] 'Russia Will Never Be Our Friend, We'll Slap Them When Needed' Waffle House Waitress on the Loose

Apr 07, 2018 | russia-insider.com

Nikki Haley has erupted in another fiery Russophobic rant, warning that Russia will "never be America's friend." Moscow can try to behave "like a regular country," but the US will "slap them when we need to," Haley said.

The US ambassador to the UN is not known for her friendly stance toward Moscow, but her new take on US-Russia relations stands out among even her most rabid ramblings. Speaking at Duke University in North Carolina on Friday, Haley admitted that friendly relations with Russia is an unlikely prospect, adding that the Trump team has done more against Moscow than any other administration since Ronald Reagan's tenure.

"Russia's never going to be our friend," Haley told students at a Q&A session, responding to a question about "holding Russia accountable" for alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The diplomat said Washington still works with Moscow "when we need to, and we slap them when we need to."

She then raised the stakes further: "Everybody likes to listen to the words. I'm going to tell you – look at the actions," Haley urged. "We expelled 60 Russian diplomats/spies, we have armed Ukraine so that they can defend themselves," she added.

"You haven't seen the end of what this administration will do to Russia. You will continue to see that play out," she stressed. Cooling down the degree of Russia-bashing in her speech, Haley said the US and Russia do cooperate on Afghanistan and Africa, looking out for areas of mutual interest. Meanwhile, she claimed, "our relations with Russia depend solely on Russia."

The topic of Russia-bashing and Moscow's alleged interference in US democratic processes seems far away from dwindling, despite no solid evidence being presented so far to the public. Moscow has repeatedly brushed off the claims. "Until we see facts, everything else will be just blather," Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Munich last month.

However, there could be signs of improvement on the horizon. Donald Trump has recently suggested meeting Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Washington, DC. In March, he said the two leaders "will be meeting in the not too distant future to discuss the arms race which is getting out of control." Putin and Trump have so far met twice.

The first meeting occurred during the G20 summit in Germany last July, and the second took place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam in November. President Putin, as well as several Russian officials, has continuously signaled Moscow's readiness to improve ties with the US and the West, based on trust and respect.

[Apr 07, 2018] Said the Spider to the Fly

Notable quotes:
"... What does current DCI Pompeo have to say about Kursher's disclosures of CIA Intelligence to MBS? ..."
"... Since Saudi is not an official 'Ally', under the Treason Statute it's called Treason what Kushner did, not Espionage. Espionage pentalty is only for 'Allies', Treason is for all others (according to the Treason Statute). ..."
Apr 07, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

EXCLUSIVE: Saudi crown prince bragged that Jared Kushner gave him CIA intelligence about other Saudis saying 'here are your enemies' days before 'corruption crackdown' which led to torture and death

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5575395/Saudi-crown-prince-brags-Jared-Kushner-handed-U-S-intelligence.html

Said the spider to the fly, come closer my lovely let me play with you.

Now who on earth would be the spider, appears it's Mohammed-Bin Salman, the new Saudi king apparent, and the fly is Jared Kushner.

I call your attention to the following article:

Look at the second photo of Kushner and MBS at the Murabba Palace in Riyadh last May, BEFORE their October meeting where Kushner according to MBS, Kushner gave MBS Classified CIA Intelligence concerning MBS's purported enemies before his crackdown. Now doesn't that photo speak volumes of a spider eyeing a potential fly? MBS's body language speaks volumes.

What does current DCI Pompeo have to say about Kursher's disclosures of CIA Intelligence to MBS?

Since Saudi is not an official 'Ally', under the Treason Statute it's called Treason what Kushner did, not Espionage. Espionage pentalty is only for 'Allies', Treason is for all others (according to the Treason Statute).

What slice of the Treason execution pie does Jared pick, gallows or other?

[Apr 05, 2018] Steve Coll's Directorate S is Disturbing Account of U.S. Mistakes After 9/11 by Mark Perry

Notable quotes:
"... Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Steve Coll, Penguin Press, 784 pages ..."
Apr 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

'Ghost Wars' author on the secret war behind the war in Afghanistan

U.S-trained Afghan Army troops. Credit: USMC Cpl. John Scott Rafoss/public domain Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Steve Coll, Penguin Press, 784 pages

Twelve days after 9/11, on the night of September 23, 2001, the CIA's Islamabad station chief, Robert Grenier, received a telephone call from his boss, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. "Listen, Bob," Tenet said, "we're meeting tomorrow at Camp David to discuss our war strategy in Afghanistan. How should we begin? What targets do we hit? How do we sequence our actions?"

Grenier later wrote in his book, 88 Days to Kandahar , that while he was surprised by the call he'd been thinking about these same questions -- "mulling them over and over and over," as he later told me -- so he was ready. President George Bush's address to the U.S. Congress just a few days before, Grenier told Tenet, was a good start: demand that Afghanistan's Taliban ruler, Mullah Omar, turn bin Laden over to the United States. If he refused, the U.S. should launch a campaign to oust him. Grenier had thought through the plan, but before going into its details with Tenet he abruptly stopped the conversation. "Mr. Director," he said, "this isn't going to work. I need to write this all down clearly." Tenet agreed.

Grenier set to work, and over the next three hours he laid out the battle for Afghanistan. Included in the paper was a detailed program of how the CIA could deploy undercover teams to recruit bin Laden's enemies among Afghanistan's northern Tajik and Uzbek tribes (an uneasy coalition of ethnic militias operating as the Northern Alliance), supply them with cash and weapons, and use them in a rolling offensive that would oust the Taliban in Kabul. With U.S. help, which included deploying American Special Forces teams (under CIA leadership) coupled with American airpower, the Northern Alliance (more properly, the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan) would start from its Panjshir Valley enclave in Afghanistan's far northeast and, recruiting support from anti-Taliban forces along the way, roll all the way into Kabul.

Grenier gave the eight-page draft paper to his staff to review, then sent it to Tenet in Washington, who passed it through the deputies committee (the second-in-command of each of the major national security agencies), then presented it to Bush. "I regard that cable," Grenier wrote, "as the best three hours of work I ever did in my twenty-seven-year career."

Three days after the Tenet-Grenier telephone conversation, on September 26, the CIA landed a covert-operations team in Afghanistan to recruit local allies in the hunt for bin Laden. The quick action was impressive, but then events slowed to a crawl. It wasn't until October 20 that the first U.S. Special Forces team linked up with anti-Taliban rebels, and it took another week for U.S. units to land in strength. But by early November al Qaeda was on the run and the Taliban's grip on the country was slipping away. On November 13, militias of the Northern Alliance seized Kabul. The Taliban was defeated, its badly mauled units fleeing south and east (its last bastion, in the south, fell on December 6), and into nearby Pakistan, while what remained of al Qaeda holed up in a series of cave complexes in the Spin Ghar mountain range of eastern Afghanistan.

By almost any measure, the CIA-led anti-al Qaeda and anti-Taliban offensive (dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom by George Bush) marked a decisive victory in the war on terror. The U.S. had set out a plan, marshaled the forces to carry it out, and then seen it to completion.

But this triumph came with problems. The first was that the offensive was hampered by Washington infighting that pitted the CIA against a puzzlingly recalcitrant U.S. military and a carping Donald Rumsfeld, who questioned George Tenet's leadership of the effort. This bureaucratic squabbling, focused on just who was responsible for what (and who exactly was running the Afghanistan war), would remain a hallmark of American efforts well into the Obama administration. The second problem was that Afghanistan's southern Pashtun tribes were only marginally included in the effort, and they remained suspicious of their northern non-Pashtun counterparts. The mistrust, CIA officers believed, would almost certainly plant the seeds of an endless inter-tribal Afghan conflict, embroiling the United States in an effort to prop up an unpopular Kabul government. The third problem was Pakistan -- or, more precisely, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the ISI, and the ISI's "Directorate S," responsible for covertly supplying, training, and arming Pakistan's Islamist allies, including the Pashtun-dominated Taliban.

♦♦♦

The intractability of these variables, and America's 17-year effort (sometimes focused but often feckless) to resolve them, form the basis of Steve Coll's Directorate S , a thick but eminently readable account of America's Afghanistan misadventure. While Directorate S stands alone as a comprehensive exposition of the Afghanistan conflict dating from 9/11, it's actually a follow-on of Ghost Wars , Coll's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2004 narrative of America's efforts to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan following their invasion in December 1979. Given the breadth of Coll's dual treatments and the depth of his research, it's likely that these books will remain the standard exposition of the period for years to come.

While the focus of Directorate S is on Pakistan and its shady intelligence services, each of the obstacles that confronted the United States in Afghanistan from the moment the Taliban abandoned Kabul is embraced in detail. These obstacles included America's post-9/11 attention deficit disorder (the pivot away from al Qaeda to Iraq was being considered in Washington even as the Northern Alliance cleared the Afghan capital) and the deeply embedded antipathy toward the new Kabul government among Pakistani-supported southern tribesman. Thus, after the United States ousted al Qaeda and its Taliban supporters, it embarked on a program to strengthen the new Kabul government, anointing Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan's president and pledging billions in reconstruction aid. And so, or so it seemed, everything had gone as planned. The Taliban was routed; al Qaeda was on the run; a new anti-terrorism government was in place in Kabul; and the United States had signed Pakistan on as a willing accomplice. On May 1, 2003, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declared an end to major combat operations in Afghanistan. The war was over. Won.

But of course it wasn't.

Coll's account provides a disturbing catalogue of the U.S. mistakes in the wake of the Taliban defeat. Almost all of them are well known: Hamid Karzai, the consensus choice of a grand assembly (a loya jirga) as Afghanistan's interim president, proved to be a weak leader. The monies appropriated for Afghanistan's postwar reconstruction were woefully inadequate for the task -- "laughable," as one U.S. official put it. American soldiers responsible for countering the Taliban's return (and hunting al Qaeda terrorist cells) were thinly and poorly deployed (and, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, of secondary importance in the Pentagon). Tentative Taliban efforts to engage the United States in political talks were summarily and unwisely spurned. Allegations of prisoner abuse at U.S. detention facilities consistently undermined U.S. legitimacy. American funds were funneled into Afghan ministries laced with corrupt officials. Afghani poppy production increased, despite faint-hearted U.S. eradication efforts. And U.S. counter-terrorism actions proved ham-handed and caused preventable civilian casualties, pushing Afghanis into a resurgent anti-Kabul resistance.

More crucially, Pakistan's unstinting support for America's Afghanistan efforts proved to be anything but unstinting. The reason for this was not only entirely predictable but was actually the unintended result of the American victory. When the Northern Alliance and U.S. airpower pushed what remained of the Taliban (along with the remnants of al Qaeda) out of Afghanistan, they pushed them into Pakistan, creating conditions that, as Coll tells us, "deepened resentment among Pakistan's generals, who would come to see their country's rising violence as a price of American folly . . ." Put simply, for the United States to seal the Operation Enduring Freedom victory, it had to ensure that its effects did not spill over into the one nation that could ensure that its victory would, in fact, be enduring. That didn't happen. The result was that the Taliban was able to rebuild and rearm its networks not only in Pakistan, and under the eyes of the ISI, but also in Afghanistan.

It might have been otherwise. During a series of discussions I had about America's intervention in Afghanistan in the months immediately following 9/11, a number of currently serving and former senior U.S. officials told me they believed that, given enough time, the Taliban might well have handed bin Laden over to the Americans, obviating the need for a full-on invasion. One of these officials was Milton Bearden, a famed CIA officer (his close friends refer to him as "Uncle Milty") who, during his time as a station chief in Pakistan, had helped to head up the CIA's war against the Soviets in the mid 1980s.

♦♦♦

After 9/11, Bearden recharged his Pakistan and Afghanistan networks in an effort to convince the Taliban that turning bin Laden over to the Americans was a better option than the one they were facing. All the while, Bearden kept senior U.S. officials apprised of what he was doing, even as he was attempting to head off their rush to war. Bearden told me that, while his efforts had not reached fruition by the time the Bush White House had decided on a course of action, he believes the United States had not fully explored all of its options -- or thought through the long-term impact of its intervention. "I don't know what would have happened, I don't know," he says wistfully, "but I think we have a handhold in history. We should have seen what was coming." He notes that Alexander the Great "took one look at Afghanistan's mountains and decided against it. He thought his whole army could get swallowed up in there, and he wasn't going to take that chance. So, well, you tell me if I'm wrong, but Alexander was no slouch, right?"

Not everyone agrees with this, of course. The dissenters include Robert Grenier, the first drafter of what became the American war plan. Taliban leader Mullah Omar, he told me, was committed to his pledge to protect Osama bin Laden; he viewed it as a blood oath that could not be broken. Moreover, argues Grenier, "Omar viewed himself as a kind of world historical figure, a person on whom the axis of history would turn." One result was that he believed his fight against the Americans would be epochal.

That said, Grenier believes America's foray into Afghanistan, and the mistakes that followed, might at least have been dampened by a more diligent focus on the inherent divisions of Afghan society. "We [at the CIA]," he told me several months ago, "were very aware that the march of the Northern Alliance into Kabul would likely create real difficulties in the south. And we tried to slow it, precisely for this reason. But events overtook us, and it just wasn't possible. So, yes, things might have been otherwise, but in truth we just don't know."

The value in Coll's Directorate S comes not from the elegant telling of a story not fully known, but from the dawning realization that Afghanistan is the kind of lock for which there is no key. There is no reason to believe that a different outcome would have ensued if other events had intruded -- for example, more personnel, money, focused diplomacy, or robust and disciplined enemy-defeating and nation building; or that our war there and the occupation that followed would have yielded the same results that we realized in, say, Japan after 1945. The real hubris here is not that we tried and failed but that we thought we could actually succeed. Afghanistan is simply not that kind of place.

There is a term of art for this in the military, which found its first usage in Iraq in 2009, when U.S. commanders adopted it as an appreciation of what could and could not be accomplished. Instead of focusing on defeating corruption, inefficiency, disunity, and poor leadership, the focus shifted almost exclusively to dampening violence, to keeping the doors to Iraq open even as its factions battled for its control. More importantly, the adoption of the phrase marked the abandonment of high expectations and an embrace of realism. The United States would have to yield the business of replicating a Western-style democracy on the banks of the Euphrates. That goal, if it was going to be accomplished at all, would have to be realized by the Iraqis.

Analyst Anthony Cordesman, one of America's premier military thinkers, adopted the phrase and applied to Afghanistan in 2012 in an essay he entitled, "Time to Focus on 'Afghan Good Enough.'" His plan was simply stated but had all the elegance of actually working: keep the Taliban out of Kabul and the major cities, preserve the central and provincial government even in the face of endemic corruption, and work to provide security to large numbers of Afghanis. Cordesman conceded that this was not the kind of victory that Americans had hoped for on September 12. And it was difficult to describe the outcome as even vaguely passable -- or "good." But it was far better than adopting goals that could not be realized or embracing an illusion that disappeared even as it was grasped. For the time being at least, it would have to be "good enough."

Mark Perry is a foreign policy analyst, a contributing editor to The American Conservative and the author of The Pentagon's Wars .

[Apr 05, 2018] Resurgence of nationalism put neoliberal globalism

This Guardian pressitute can't even mentions the term neoliberalism, to day noting to accept that neoliberalism now experience a crisis (which actually started in 2008)
Globalization blowback will not totally bury neoliberal globalization, but it puts some limits on transnational corporations racket...
Apr 05, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Originally from The demise of the nation state By Rana Dasgupta

hat is happening to national politics? Every day in the US, events further exceed the imaginations of absurdist novelists and comedians; politics in the UK still shows few signs of recovery after the " national nervous breakdown " of Brexit. France " narrowly escaped a heart attack " in last year's elections, but the country's leading daily feels this has done little to alter the " accelerated decomposition " of the political system. In neighbouring Spain, El País goes so far as to say that "the rule of law, the democratic system and even the market economy are in doubt"; in Italy, "the collapse of the establishment" in the March elections has even brought talk of a "barbarian arrival", as if Rome were falling once again. In Germany, meanwhile, neo-fascists are preparing to take up their role as official opposition , introducing anxious volatility into the bastion of European stability.

But the convulsions in national politics are not confined to the west. Exhaustion, hopelessness, the dwindling effectiveness of old ways: these are the themes of politics all across the world. This is why energetic authoritarian "solutions" are currently so popular: distraction by war (Russia, Turkey); ethno-religious "purification" (India, Hungary, Myanmar); the magnification of presidential powers and the corresponding abandonment of civil rights and the rule of law (China, Rwanda, Venezuela, Thailand, the Philippines and many more).

What is the relationship between these various upheavals? We tend to regard them as entirely separate – for, in political life, national solipsism is the rule. In each country, the tendency is to blame "our" history, "our" populists, "our" media, "our" institutions, "our" lousy politicians. And this is understandable, since the organs of modern political consciousness – public education and mass media – emerged in the 19th century from a globe-conquering ideology of unique national destinies. When we discuss "politics", we refer to what goes on inside sovereign states; everything else is "foreign affairs" or "international relations" – even in this era of global financial and technological integration. We may buy the same products in every country of the world, we may all use Google and Facebook, but political life, curiously, is made of separate stuff and keeps the antique faith of borders.

Yes, there is awareness that similar varieties of populism are erupting in many countries. Several have noted the parallels in style and substance between leaders such as Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Viktor Orbán and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. There is a sense that something is in the air – some coincidence of feeling between places. But this does not get close enough. For there is no coincidence. All countries are today embedded in the same system, which subjects them all to the same pressures: and it is these that are squeezing and warping national political life everywhere. And their effect is quite the opposite – despite the desperate flag-waving – of the oft-remarked " resurgence of the nation state ".

[Apr 05, 2018] The Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world

Apr 05, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

The future of economic globalisation, for which the Davos men and women see themselves as caretakers, had been shaken by a series of political earthquakes. "Globalisation" can mean many things, but what lay in particular doubt was the long-advanced project of increasing free trade in goods across borders. The previous summer, Britain had voted to leave the largest trading bloc in the world. In November, the unexpected victory of Donald Trump , who vowed to withdraw from major trade deals, appeared to jeopardise the trading relationships of the world's richest country. Forthcoming elections in France and Germany suddenly seemed to bear the possibility of anti-globalisation parties garnering better results than ever before. The barbarians weren't at the gates to the ski-lifts yet – but they weren't very far.

In a panel titled Governing Globalisation , the economist Dambisa Moyo , otherwise a well-known supporter of free trade, forthrightly asked the audience to accept that "there have been significant losses" from globalisation. "It is not clear to me that we are going to be able to remedy them under the current infrastructure," she added. Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, called for a policy hitherto foreign to the World Economic Forum : "more redistribution". After years of hedging or discounting the malign effects of free trade, it was time to face facts: globalisation caused job losses and depressed wages, and the usual Davos proposals – such as instructing affected populations to accept the new reality – weren't going to work. Unless something changed, the political consequences were likely to get worse.

The backlash to globalisation has helped fuel the extraordinary political shifts of the past 18 months. During the close race to become the Democratic party candidate, senator Bernie Sanders relentlessly attacked Hillary Clinton on her support for free trade . On the campaign trail, Donald Trump openly proposed tilting the terms of trade in favour of American industry. "Americanism, not globalism, shall be our creed," he bellowed at the Republican national convention last July. The vote for Brexit was strongest in the regions of the UK devastated by the flight of manufacturing. At Davos in January, British prime minister Theresa May, the leader of the party of capital and inherited wealth, improbably picked up the theme, warning that, for many, "talk of greater globalisation means their jobs being outsourced and wages undercut." Meanwhile, the European far right has been warning against free movement of people as well as goods. Following her qualifying victory in the first round of France's presidential election, Marine Le Pen warned darkly that "the main thing at stake in this election is the rampant globalisation that is endangering our civilisation."

It was only a few decades ago that globalisation was held by many, even by some critics, to be an inevitable, unstoppable force. "Rejecting globalisation," the American journalist George Packer has written, "was like rejecting the sunrise." Globalisation could take place in services, capital and ideas, making it a notoriously imprecise term; but what it meant most often was making it cheaper to trade across borders – something that seemed to many at the time to be an unquestionable good. In practice, this often meant that industry would move from rich countries, where labour was expensive, to poor countries, where labour was cheaper. People in the rich countries would either have to accept lower wages to compete, or lose their jobs. But no matter what, the goods they formerly produced would now be imported, and be even cheaper. And the unemployed could get new, higher-skilled jobs (if they got the requisite training). Mainstream economists and politicians upheld the consensus about the merits of globalisation, with little concern that there might be political consequences.

Back then, economists could calmly chalk up anti-globalisation sentiment to a marginal group of delusional protesters, or disgruntled stragglers still toiling uselessly in "sunset industries". These days, as sizable constituencies have voted in country after country for anti-free-trade policies, or candidates that promise to limit them, the old self-assurance is gone. Millions have rejected, with uncertain results, the punishing logic that globalisation could not be stopped. The backlash has swelled a wave of soul-searching among economists, one that had already begun to roll ashore with the financial crisis. How did they fail to foresee the repercussions?

[Apr 04, 2018] Elite universities are selling themselves – and look who s buying by Grif Peterson and Yarden Katz

Notable quotes:
"... Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace". ..."
Mar 30, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace".

This market rationality extends even to the way research is evaluated – which the Saudi government has been gaming. To give one example, it paid highly cited mathematicians at universities around the world to list King Abdulaziz University as an affiliation, thereby making it the seventh "best" mathematics department worldwide in the 2014 US News and World Report university rankings .

Here, the Saudi government is only playing by the rules of a game designed by western elites. This is the same logic that has been used to allow corporations, nonprofits and the military to steadily buy out chunks of academia to the point where it makes little sense to presume clear boundaries exist between these entities. As a result, numerous partnerships entangle MIT researchers with Bin Salman. On his Boston tour, he also visited IBM's Cambridge research facility, which recently partnered with MIT to form an artificial intelligence research laboratory in exchange for a $240m commitment to the university. Boston Dynamics , an MIT partner that builds robots for the US military, also offered a demonstration. Such alliances ought to cast doubt on MIT's promise to understand the "societal and ethical" implications of AI and build socially beneficial technologies.

The terms of all of these partnerships are essentially opaque, while the secrecy that surrounds them denies the community the chance to deliberate and take action. The growth of unaccountable university partnerships, like other crises facing educational institutions, stems from the absence of democratic engagement. When universities decide to sell themselves to the highest bidder, they become deaf to the interests of their students and the wider societies in which they operate. Subservience to war criminals and corporate overlords tends to follow.

[Apr 04, 2018] Elite universities are selling themselves and look who's buying

Apr 04, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace".

This market rationality extends even to the way research is evaluated – which the Saudi government has been gaming. To give one example, it paid highly cited mathematicians at universities around the world to list King Abdulaziz University as an affiliation, thereby making it the seventh "best" mathematics department worldwide in the 2014 US News and World Report university rankings .

Here, the Saudi government is only playing by the rules of a game designed by western elites. This is the same logic that has been used to allow corporations, nonprofits and the military to steadily buy out chunks of academia to the point where it makes little sense to presume clear boundaries exist between these entities. As a result, numerous partnerships entangle MIT researchers with Bin Salman. On his Boston tour, he also visited IBM's Cambridge research facility, which recently partnered with MIT to form an artificial intelligence research laboratory in exchange for a $240m commitment to the university. Boston Dynamics , an MIT partner that builds robots for the US military, also offered a demonstration. Such alliances ought to cast doubt on MIT's promise to understand the "societal and ethical" implications of AI and build socially beneficial technologies.

The terms of all of these partnerships are essentially opaque, while the secrecy that surrounds them denies the community the chance to deliberate and take action. The growth of unaccountable university partnerships, like other crises facing educational institutions, stems from the absence of democratic engagement. When universities decide to sell themselves to the highest bidder, they become deaf to the interests of their students and the wider societies in which they operate. Subservience to war criminals and corporate overlords tends to follow.

[Apr 04, 2018] Russian Gas Transit Via Ukraine Set For Major Slump

Apr 04, 2018 | oilprice.com

Transit of Russian natural gas via Ukraine will be reduced to just about 10-12 billion cubic meters annually after the completion of two new pipelines -- Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2. That's what Gazprom's chief executive Alexei Miller told a Russian TV channel yesterday, confirming Kiev's fears that Nord Stream 2 will deprive it of a lot of income in the form of transit fees.

The significance of the new figure can easily be seen when compared with the transit quantities for last month: Gazprom sent 8.1 billion cubic meters of gas via Russia's eastern neighbor in March, a 21.3-percent increase on the year. In other words, when Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2 are ready, Ukraine will receive something like a 12th of its current annual gas transit revenues from Gazprom.

This is reason enough for Kiev to be so vocally against Nord Steam 2, but unfortunately for Ukraine, Germany is just as vocally supportive of the project, of which it will be the biggest beneficiary. The expanded Nord Stream pipeline will have a capacity of 110 billion cubic meters annually.

Still, Miller said, not all transit via Ukraine will be suspended. "We are not saying we will stop entire transit via Ukraine, since there are neighboring countries that border Ukraine on the side of Europe. Naturally, supplies to these European countries will continue via Ukraine."

While the news is bad for Ukraine, it makes sense for Russia as European countries eagerly seek alternatives to Russian gas, including the "neighboring countries that border Ukraine," notably Poland. Yet Germany is by far Gazprom's biggest client in Europe and Russian gas is the cheapest for Europe's largest economy, hence the support for a project seen as controversial by the European Commission.

Turkish Stream, for its part, will send Russian gas to the European part of Turkey up to the border with Greece, to supply gas to southeastern Europe. Its capacity is much smaller than Nord Stream's, but still larger than the future transit via Ukraine, at 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

[Apr 03, 2018] Russian ministers suggest that British secret services carried out Skripal poisoning to distract from Brexit. No 10 tries to calm Russia row amid cold war rhetoric by Pippa Crerar and Patrick Wintour

Notable quotes:
"... Speaking in Moscow, Lavrov said there was "a lot of talk about a 'cold war', about the situation being worse than it was during the classic cold war, because then there were some rules, and some decency was observed". ..."
"... It came as a former Russian military official Lt-Gen Evgeny Buzhinsky warned that the conflict could even end up as "the last war in the history of mankind". In a thinly veiled threat, he said the diplomatic crisis could result in a "very, very bad outcome" and accused the west of "cornering Russia" which, he argued, was a "very dangerous thing". ..."
"... The deputy foreign minister, Alexander Grushko, called the poisoning of Sergei Skripal a "provocation arranged by Britain" in order to justify high military spending because "they need a major enemy". ..."
"... Russia is also keeping up the pressure on the UK to provide consular access to Skripal's daughter, Yulia, now she is recovering in a Salisbury hospital. ..."
"... Lavrov said it was outrageous that the UK was not letting diplomatic staff see Yulia Skripal . The Russian embassy in London claims the UK is in breach of article 36 of the Vienna convention by refusing consular access to a Russian national. ..."
"... Russia also warned it would not accept any international scientific findings on the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals unless its scientists were involved in testing the nerve agent samples. Moscow spelt out its conditions for cooperation before an emergency meeting it has convened for Wednesday of the executive of the Organisation for Prevention of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. ..."
"... Alexander Shulgin, Russia's permanent representative to the OPCW, complained that Russian scientists have been barred from the tests owing to British objections. ..."
Apr 03, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Russian ministers suggest that British secret services carried out Skripal poisoning to distract from Brexit

Tue 3 Apr 2018 10.03 EDT Last modified on Tue 3 Apr 2018 12.34 EDT Downing Street has issued a plea for "proportionate" action from Russia to the Salisbury poisoning row after its foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, warned that relations with the west are now worse than during the cold war.

Theresa May is visiting Scandinavia next week with the international security threat from Russia expected to be at the top of the agenda.

Her one-day visit to Denmark and Sweden was announced after Lavrov appeared to suggest that UK secret services may have been involved in the 4 March attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury. He said the incident could have been "beneficial" to the British government to distract attention from Brexit .

Speaking in Moscow, Lavrov said there was "a lot of talk about a 'cold war', about the situation being worse than it was during the classic cold war, because then there were some rules, and some decency was observed".

He added: "I believe that our western partners, I mean primarily the United Kingdom, the United States and some countries that blindly follow them, have cast away all decency, they are resorting to open lies, blatant misinformation."

It came as a former Russian military official Lt-Gen Evgeny Buzhinsky warned that the conflict could even end up as "the last war in the history of mankind". In a thinly veiled threat, he said the diplomatic crisis could result in a "very, very bad outcome" and accused the west of "cornering Russia" which, he argued, was a "very dangerous thing".

The deputy foreign minister, Alexander Grushko, called the poisoning of Sergei Skripal a "provocation arranged by Britain" in order to justify high military spending because "they need a major enemy".

However, Downing Street in effect called for calm at its weekly briefing for political reporters, simply saying it expected the wider dispute with Russia would not be settled for a long time. A No 10 spokesman said: "We need to respond in a proportionate way to this aggressive behaviour from Russia and that's what we're doing."

He added: "As the prime minister has made clear, the UK would much rather have in Russia a constructive partner ready to play by the rules. But this attack in Salisbury was part of a pattern of increasingly aggressive Russian behaviour, as well as a new and dangerous phase in Russian activity within the continent and beyond. As the prime minister has said, we must face the facts, and the challenge of Russia is one that will endure for years to come."

Russia is also keeping up the pressure on the UK to provide consular access to Skripal's daughter, Yulia, now she is recovering in a Salisbury hospital.

Reports from Russia claim that a cousin has contacted the British and Russian authorities to be given permission to go to the UK to be by her bedside.

Lavrov said it was outrageous that the UK was not letting diplomatic staff see Yulia Skripal . The Russian embassy in London claims the UK is in breach of article 36 of the Vienna convention by refusing consular access to a Russian national.

Downing Street raised the possibility that the 33-year-old may have requested that consular access be denied. It said access was based on a number of considerations "including consent from the individual".

Russia also warned it would not accept any international scientific findings on the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals unless its scientists were involved in testing the nerve agent samples. Moscow spelt out its conditions for cooperation before an emergency meeting it has convened for Wednesday of the executive of the Organisation for Prevention of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.

The OPCW is the internationally recognised body responsible for overseeing the 1997 chemical weapons convention and has been testing samples provided by British scientists from the Skripals.

The first results about the nature of the poison - which the UK believes to be novichok, a nerve agent of Russian origin – are expected in days. Alexander Shulgin, Russia's permanent representative to the OPCW, complained that Russian scientists have been barred from the tests owing to British objections.

[Apr 02, 2018] The Guardian

Notable quotes:
"... every single Google search ..."
"... Dylan Curran is a data consultant and web developer, who does extensive research into spreading technical awareness and improving digital etiquette ..."
Apr 02, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you Dylan Curran The harvesting of our personal details goes far beyond what many of us could imagine. So I braced myself and had a look

Fri 30 Mar 2018 03.17 EDT First published on Wed 28 Mar 2018 06.00 EDT Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email View more sharing options Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Share on Google+ Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger Close A slice of the data that Facebook keeps on the author: 'This information has millions of nefarious uses.' Photograph: Dylan Curran W ant to freak yourself out? I'm going to show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it. Google knows where you've been

Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you've been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone.

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/maps/timeline?

Here is every place I have been in the last 12 months in Ireland. You can see the time of day that I was in the location and how long it took me to get to that location from my previous one.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'A Google map of every place I've been in Ireland this year.' Photograph: Dylan Curran Google knows everything you've ever searched – and deleted

Google stores search history across all your devices. That can mean that, even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices .

Click on this link to see your own data: myactivity.google.com/myactivity

ss="rich-link"> Why have we given up our privacy to Facebook and other sites so willingly? Read more Google has an advertisement profile of you

Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight (need to lose 10lb in one day?) and income.

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/settings/ads/

Google knows all the apps you use

Google stores information on every app and extension you use. They know how often you use them, where you use them, and who you use them to interact with. That means they know who you talk to on Facebook, what countries are you speaking with, what time you go to sleep.

Click on this link to see your own data: security.google.com/settings/secur

Google has all of your YouTube history

Google stores all of your YouTube history, so they probably know whether you're going to be a parent soon, if you're a conservative, if you're a progressive, if you're Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, if you're feeling depressed or suicidal, if you're anorexic

Click on this link to see your own data: youtube.com/feed/history/s

The data Google has on you can fill millions of Word documents

Google offers an option to download all of the data it stores about you. I've requested to download it and the file is 5.5GB big , which is roughly 3m Word documents.

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Manage to gain access to someone's Google account? Perfect, you have a diary of everything that person has done

This link includes your bookmarks, emails, contacts, your Google Drive files, all of the above information, your YouTube videos, the photos you've taken on your phone, the businesses you've bought from, the products you've bought through Google

They also have data from your calendar, your Google hangout sessions, your location history, the music you listen to, the Google books you've purchased, the Google groups you're in, the websites you've created, the phones you've owned, the pages you've shared, how many steps you walk in a day

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/takeout

Facebook has reams and reams of data on you, too

Facebook offers a similar option to download all your information. Mine was roughly 600MB, which is roughly 400,000 Word documents.

This includes every message you've ever sent or been sent, every file you've ever sent or been sent, all the contacts in your phone, and all the audio messages you've ever sent or been sent.

Click here to see your data: https://www.facebook.com/help/131112897028467

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'A snapshot of the data Facebook has saved on me.' Photograph: Dylan Curran Facebook stores everything from your stickers to your login location

Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based off the things you've liked and what you and your friends talk about (I apparently like the topic "girl").

Somewhat pointlessly, they also store all the stickers you've ever sent on Facebook (I have no idea why they do this. It's just a joke at this stage).

They also store every time you log in to Facebook, where you logged in from, what time, and from what device.

And they store all the applications you've ever had connected to your Facebook account, so they can guess I'm interested in politics and web and graphic design, that I was single between X and Y period with the installation of Tinder, and I got a HTC phone in November.

(Side note, if you have Windows 10 installed, this is a picture of just the privacy options with 16 different sub-menus, which have all of the options enabled by default when you install Windows 10)

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Privacy options in Windows 10. Photograph: Dylan Curran They can access your webcam and microphone

The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what radio stations you listen to.

ss="rich-link"> Facebook told me it would act swiftly on data misuse – in 2015 | Harry Davies Read more Here are some of the different ways Google gets your data

I got the Google Takeout document with all my information, and this is a breakdown of all the different ways they get your information.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'My Google Takeout document.' Photograph: Dylan Curran

Here's the search history document, which has 90,000 different entries, even showing the images I downloaded and the websites I accessed (I showed the Pirate Bay section to show how much damage this information can do).

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'My search history document has 90,000 different entries.' Photograph: Dylan Curran Google knows which events you attended, and when

Here's my Google Calendar broken down, showing all the events I've ever added, whether I actually attended them, and what time I attended them at (this part is when I went for an interview for a marketing job, and what time I arrived).

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'Here is my Google calendar showing a job interview I attended.' Photograph: Dylan Curran And Google has information you deleted

This is my Google Drive, which includes files I explicitly deleted including my résumé, my monthly budget, and all the code, files and websites I've ever made, and even my PGP private key, which I deleted, that I use to encrypt emails.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google can know your workout routine

This is my Google Fit, which shows all of the steps I've ever taken, any time I walked anywhere, and all the times I've recorded any meditation/yoga/workouts I've done (I deleted this information and revoked Google Fit's permissions).

Facebook Twitter Pinterest And they have years' worth of photos

This is all the photos ever taken with my phone, broken down by year, and includes metadata of when and where I took the photos

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google has every email you ever sent

Every email I've ever sent, that's been sent to me, including the ones I deleted or were categorised as spam.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest And there is more

I'll just do a short summary of what's in the thousands of files I received under my Google Activity.

First, every Google Ad I've ever viewed or clicked on, every app I've ever launched or used and when I did it, every website I've ever visited and what time I did it at, and every app I've ever installed or searched for.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'They have every single Google search I've made since 2009.'

They also have every image I've ever searched for and saved, every location I've ever searched for or clicked on, every news article I've ever searched for or read, and every single Google search I've made since 2009. And then finally, every YouTube video I've ever searched for or viewed, since 2008.

This information has millions of nefarious uses. You say you're not a terrorist. Then how come you were googling Isis? Work at Google and you're suspicious of your wife? Perfect, just look up her location and search history for the last 10 years. Manage to gain access to someone's Google account? Perfect, you have a chronological diary of everything that person has done for the last 10 years.

This is one of the craziest things about the modern age. We would never let the government or a corporation put cameras/microphones in our homes or location trackers on us. But we just went ahead and did it ourselves because – to hell with it! – I want to watch cute dog videos.

• A caption was corrected on 28 March 2018 to replace "privacy options in Facebook" with "privacy options in Windows 10".

Dylan Curran is a data consultant and web developer, who does extensive research into spreading technical awareness and improving digital etiquette

[Apr 02, 2018] Russophobia Anti-Russian Lobby and American Foreign Policy by A. Tsygankov

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I wanted to investigate whether the growing volume of criticism toward Russia, sometimes by people who could hardly claim to be knowledgeable about the country, concealed a political agenda. ..."
"... I discovered evidence of Russophobia shared by different circles within the American political class and promoted through programs and conferences at various think tanks, congressional testimonies, activities of NGOs, and the media. Russophobia is not merely a critique of Russia, but a critique beyond any sense of proportion, waged with the purpose of undermining the nation's political reputation. ..."
"... To these individuals, Russophobia is merely a means to pressure the Kremlin into submitting to the United States in the execution of its grand plans to control the world's most precious resources and geostrategic sites. In the meantime, Russia has grown increasingly resentful, and the war in the Caucasus in August 2008 has demonstrated that Russia is prepared to act unilaterally to stop what it views as US unilateralism in the former Soviet region. ..."
"... Anti-American attitudes are strongly present in Russian media and cultural products, as a response to the US policies of nuclear, energy, and military supremacy in the world. Extreme hegemonic policies tend to provoke an extreme response, and Russian nationalist movements and often commentators react harshly to what they view as unilateral encroachment on Russia's political system and foreign policy interests. Russia's reactions to these policies by the United States are highly negative and frequently inadequate, but hardly more extreme than the American hegemonic and imperial discourse. ..."
"... The central objective of the Lobby has been to preserve and strengthen America's power in the post-Cold War world through imperial or hegemonic policies. The Lobby has viewed Russia with its formidable nuclear power, energy reserves, and important geostrategic location as a major obstacle in achieving this objective. Even during the 1990s, when Russia looked more like a failing state3 than one capable of projecting power, some members of the American political class were worried about the future revival of the Eurasian giant as a revisionist power. In their percep- tion, it was essential to keep Russia in a state of military and economic weakness-not so much out of emotional hatred for the Russian people and their culture, but to preserve American security and promote its val- ues across the world. To many within the Lobby, Russophobia became a useful device for exerting pressures on Russia and controlling its policies. Although to some the idea of undermining and, possibly, dismembering Russia was personal, to others it was a necessity of power dictated by the realities of international politics. ..."
"... According to this dominant vision, there was simply no place in this "New American Century" for power competitors, and America was destined eventually to assume control over potentially threatening military capabilities and energy reserves of others. As the two founders of the Project for the New' American Century (PNAC), William Kristol and Robert Kagan, asserted when referring to the large military forces of Russia and China, "American statesmen today ought to recognize that their charge is not to await the arrival of the next great threat, but rather to shape the international environment to prevent such a threat from arising in the first place."4 ..."
"... Russia was either to agree to assist the United States in preserving its world-power status or be forced to agree. It had to either follow the U.S. interpretation of world affairs and develop a political and economic system sufficiently open to American influences or live as a pariah state, smeared by accusations of pernicious behavior, and in constant fear for its survival in the America-centered world. As far as the U.S. hegemonic elites were concerned, no other choice was available. ..."
"... This hegemonic mood was largely consistent with mainstream ideas within the American establishment immediately following the end of the Cold War. For example, 1989 saw the unification of Germany and the further meltdown of the Soviet Union, which some characterized as "the best period of U.S. foreign policy ever."5 President Jimmy Carter's former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski envisioned the upcoming victory of the West by celebrating the Soviet Union's "grand failure."6 ..."
"... Charles Krauthammer, went as far as to proclaim the arrival of the United States' "unipolar moment," a period in which only one super- power, the United States, would stand above the rest of the world in its military, economic, and ideological capacity ..."
"... The mid-1990s saw the emergence of post-Soviet Russophobia. The Lobby's ideology was not principally new, as it still contained the three central myths of Sovietophobia left over from the Cold War era: Russia is inherently imperialist, autocratic, and anti-Western. This ideology now had to be modified to the new conditions and promoted politically, which required a tightening of the Lobby's unity, winning new allies within the establishment, and gaining public support.15 ..."
"... During the period of 2003-2008, Vice President Richard Dick Cheney formed a cohesive and bipartisan group of Russia critics, who pushed for a more confrontational approach with the Kremlin. ..."
"... Cheney could not tolerate opposition to what he saw as a critical step in establishing worldwide US hegemony. He was also harboring the idea of controlling Russia's energy reserves.91 ..."
"... In Russia, however, the Cold War story has been mainly about sovereignty and independence, rather than Western-style liberalism. To many Russians it is a story of freedom from colonization by the West and of preserving important attributes of sovereign statehood. ..."
"... In a world where neocolonialism and cultural imperialism are potent forces, the idea of freedom as independence continues to have strong international appeal and remains a powerful alternative to the notion of liberal democracy. ..."
"... The West's unwillingness to recognize the importance of this legitimizing myth in the role of communist ideology has served as a key reason for the Cold War.5 Like their Western counterparts, the Soviets were debating over methods but not the larger assumptions that defined their struggle. ..."
"... Yet another analyst wrote "at the Cold War's end, the United States was given one of the great opportunities of history: to embrace Russia, the largest nation on earth, as partner, friend, ally. Our mutual interests meshed almost perfectly. There was no ideological, territorial, his- toric or economic quarrel between us, once communist ideology was interred. We blew it. We moved NATO onto Russia's front porch, ignored her valid interests and concerns, and, with our 'indispensable-nation' arrogance, treated her as a defeated power, as France treated Weimar Germany after Versailles."114 ..."
Jun 09, 2017 | www.amazon.com

It was during the spring of 2006 that I began this project. I wanted to investigate whether the growing volume of criticism toward Russia, sometimes by people who could hardly claim to be knowledgeable about the country, concealed a political agenda.

As I researched the subject, I discovered evidence of Russophobia shared by different circles within the American political class and promoted through programs and conferences at various think tanks, congressional testimonies, activities of NGOs, and the media. Russophobia is not merely a critique of Russia, but a critique beyond any sense of proportion, waged with the purpose of undermining the nation's political reputation.

... ... ....

Although a critical analysis of Russia and its political system is entirely legitimate, the issue is the balance of such analysis. Russia's role in the world is growing, yet many U.S. politicians feel that Russia doesn't matter in the global arena. Preoccupied with international issues, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, they find it difficult to accept that they now have to nego- tiate and coordinate their international policies with a nation that only yesterday seemed so weak, introspective, and dependent on the West. To these individuals, Russophobia is merely a means to pressure the Kremlin into submitting to the United States in the execution of its grand plans to control the world's most precious resources and geostrategic sites. In the meantime, Russia has grown increasingly resentful, and the war in the Caucasus in August 2008 has demonstrated that Russia is prepared to act unilaterally to stop what it views as US unilateralism in the former Soviet region.

And some in Moscow are tempted to provoke a much greater confrontation with Western states. The attitude of ignorance and self-righteousness toward Russia tells us volumes about the United States' lack of preparation for the twenty-first century's central challenges that include political instability, weapons proliferation, and energy insecurity. Despite the dislike of Russia by a considerable number of American elites, this attitude is far from universally shared. Many Americans understand that Russia has gone a long way from communism and that the overwhelming support for Putin's policies at home cannot be adequately explained by high oil prices and the Kremlin's manipulation of the public-despite the frequent assertions of Russophobic observers.

Balanced analysts are also aware that many Russian problems are typical difficulties that nations encounter with state-building, and should not be presented as indicative of Russia's "inherent drive" to autocracy or empire. As the United States and Russia move further to the twenty-first century, it will be increasingly important to redefine the relationship between the two nations in a mutually enriching way.

Political and cultural phobias are, of course, not limited to those of an anti-Russian nature. For instance, Russia has its share of America-phobia -- a phenomenon that I have partly researched in my book Whose World Order (Notre Dame, 2004) and in several articles. Anti-American attitudes are strongly present in Russian media and cultural products, as a response to the US policies of nuclear, energy, and military supremacy in the world. Extreme hegemonic policies tend to provoke an extreme response, and Russian nationalist movements and often commentators react harshly to what they view as unilateral encroachment on Russia's political system and foreign policy interests. Russia's reactions to these policies by the United States are highly negative and frequently inadequate, but hardly more extreme than the American hegemonic and imperial discourse.

The Anti-Russian Lobby

When the facile optimism was disappointed, Western euphoria faded, and Russophobia returned ... The new Russophobia was expressed not by the governments, but in the statements of out-of-office politicians, the publications of academic experts, the sensational writings of jour- nalists, and the products of the entertainment industry. (Rodric Braithwaite, Across the Moscow River, 2002)1

....

Russophobia is not a myth, not an invention of the Red-Brovvns, but a real phenomenon of political thought in the main political think tanks in the West . .. [T]he Yeltsin-Kozyrev's pro-U.S. "giveaway game" was approved across the ocean. There is reason to say that the period in ques- tion left the West with the illusion that Russia's role was to serve Washington's interests and that it would remain such in the future. (Sergei Mikoyati, International Affairs /October 2006j)2

This chapter formulates a theory of Russophobia and the anti-Russian lobby's influence on the U.S. Russia policy. 1 discuss the Lobby's objec- tives, its tactics to achieve them, the history of its formation and rise to prominence, and the conditions that preserved its influence in the after- math of 9/11.1 argue that Russophobia has been important to American hegemonic elites in pressuring Russia for economic and political conces- sions in the post-Cold War era.

1. Goals and Means

Objectives

The central objective of the Lobby has been to preserve and strengthen America's power in the post-Cold War world through imperial or hegemonic policies. The Lobby has viewed Russia with its formidable nuclear power, energy reserves, and important geostrategic location as a major obstacle in achieving this objective. Even during the 1990s, when Russia looked more like a failing state3 than one capable of projecting power, some members of the American political class were worried about the future revival of the Eurasian giant as a revisionist power. In their percep- tion, it was essential to keep Russia in a state of military and economic weakness-not so much out of emotional hatred for the Russian people and their culture, but to preserve American security and promote its val- ues across the world. To many within the Lobby, Russophobia became a useful device for exerting pressures on Russia and controlling its policies. Although to some the idea of undermining and, possibly, dismembering Russia was personal, to others it was a necessity of power dictated by the realities of international politics.

According to this dominant vision, there was simply no place in this "New American Century" for power competitors, and America was destined eventually to assume control over potentially threatening military capabilities and energy reserves of others. As the two founders of the Project for the New' American Century (PNAC), William Kristol and Robert Kagan, asserted when referring to the large military forces of Russia and China, "American statesmen today ought to recognize that their charge is not to await the arrival of the next great threat, but rather to shape the international environment to prevent such a threat from arising in the first place."4

Russia was either to agree to assist the United States in preserving its world-power status or be forced to agree. It had to either follow the U.S. interpretation of world affairs and develop a political and economic system sufficiently open to American influences or live as a pariah state, smeared by accusations of pernicious behavior, and in constant fear for its survival in the America-centered world. As far as the U.S. hegemonic elites were concerned, no other choice was available.

This hegemonic mood was largely consistent with mainstream ideas within the American establishment immediately following the end of the Cold War. For example, 1989 saw the unification of Germany and the further meltdown of the Soviet Union, which some characterized as "the best period of U.S. foreign policy ever."5 President Jimmy Carter's former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski envisioned the upcoming victory of the West by celebrating the Soviet Union's "grand failure."6

In his view, the Soviet "totalitarian" state was incapable of reform. Communism's decline was therefore irreversible and inevitable. It would have made the system's "practice and its dogma largely irrelevant to the human conditions," and communism would be remembered as the twentieth century's "political and intellectual aberration."7 Other com- mentators argued the case for a global spread of Western values. In 1990 Francis Fukuyama first formulated his triumphalist "end of history" thesis, arguing a global ascendancy of the Western-style market democracy.®

... ... ...

Marc Plattner declared the emergence of a "world with one dominant principle of legitimacy, democracy."9 When the Soviet system had indeed disintegrated, the leading establishment journal Foreign Affairs pronounced that "the Soviet system collapsed because of what it was, or more exactly, because of what it was not. The West 'won' because of what the democracies were-because they were free, prosperous and successful, because they did justice, or convincingly tried to do so."10 Still others, such as Charles Krauthammer, went as far as to proclaim the arrival of the United States' "unipolar moment," a period in which only one super- power, the United States, would stand above the rest of the world in its military, economic, and ideological capacity.11

In this context of U.S. triumphalism, at least some Russophobes expected Russia to follow the American agenda. Still, they were worried that Russia may still have surprises to offer and would recover as an enemy.12

Soon after the Soviet disintegration, Russia indeed surprised many, although not quite in the sense of presenting a power challenge to the United States. Rather, the surprise was the unexpectedly high degree of corruption, social and economic decay, and the rapid disappointment of pro-Western reforms inside Russia. By late 1992, the domestic economic situation was much worsened, as the failure of Western-style shock ther- apy reform put most of the population on the verge of poverty. Russia was preoccupied not with the projection of power but with survival, as poverty, crime, and corruption degraded it from the status of the indus- trialized country it once was. In the meantime, the economy was largely controlled by and divided among former high-ranking party and state officials and their associates. The so-called oligarchs, or a group of extremely wealthy individuals, played the role of the new post-Soviet nomenklatura; they influenced many key decisions of the state and suc- cessfully blocked the development of small- and medium-sized business in the country.13 Under these conditions, the Russophobes warned that the conditions in Russia may soon be ripe for the rise of an anti-Western nationalist regime and that Russia was not fit for any partnership with the United States.14

The mid-1990s saw the emergence of post-Soviet Russophobia. The Lobby's ideology was not principally new, as it still contained the three central myths of Sovietophobia left over from the Cold War era: Russia is inherently imperialist, autocratic, and anti-Western. This ideology now had to be modified to the new conditions and promoted politically, which required a tightening of the Lobby's unity, winning new allies within the establishment, and gaining public support.15

... ... ...

The impact of structural and institutional factors is further reinforced by policy factors, such as the divide within the policy community and the lack of presidential leadership. Not infrequently, politicians tend to defend their personal and corporate interests, and lobbying makes a difference in the absence of firm policy commitments.

Experts recognize that the community of Russia watchers is split and that the split, which goes all the way to the White House, has been responsible for the absence of a coherent policy toward the country. During the period of 2003-2008, Vice President Richard Dick Cheney formed a cohesive and bipartisan group of Russia critics, who pushed for a more confrontational approach with the Kremlin. The brain behind the invasion of Iraq, Cheney could not tolerate opposition to what he saw as a critical step in establishing worldwide US hegemony. He was also harboring the idea of controlling Russia's energy reserves.91

Since November 2004, when the administration launched a review of its policy on Russia,92 Cheney became a critically important voice in whom the Lobby found its advocate. Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and, until November 2004, Colin Powell opposed the vice president's approach, arguing for a softer and more accommodating style in relations with Moscow.

President Bush generally sided with Rice and Powell, but he proved unable to form a consistent Russia policy. Because of America's involvement in the Middle East, Bush failed to provide the leadership committed to devising mutually acceptable rules in relations with Russia that could have prevented the deterioration in their relationship. Since the end of 2003, he also became doubtful about the direction of Russia's domestic transformation.93 As a result, the promising post-9/11 cooperation never materialized. The new cold war and the American Sense of History

It's time we start thinking of Vladimir Putin's Russia as an enemy of the United States. (Bret Stephens, "Russia: The Enemy," The Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2006)

If today's reality of Russian politics continues ... then there is the real risk that Russia's leadership will be seen, externally and internally, as illegitimate. (John Edwards and Jack Kemp, "We Need to Be Tough with Russia," International Herald Tribune, July 12, 2006)

On Iran, Kosovo, U.S. missile defense, Iraq, the Caucasus and Caspian basin, Ukraine-the list goes on-Russia puts itself in conflict with the U.S. and its allies . . . here are worse models than the united Western stand that won the Cold War the first time around.

("Putin Institutionalized," The Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2007) In order to derail the U.S.-Russia partnership, the Lobby has sought to revive the image of Russias as an enemy of the United States. The Russophobic groups have exploited important differences between the two countries' historical self-perceptions, presenting those differences as incompatible.

1. Contested History

Two versions of history

The story of the Cold War as told from the U.S. perspective is about American ideas of Western-style democracy as rescued from the Soviet threat of totalitarian communism. Although scholars and politicians disagreed over the methods of responding to the Soviet threat, they rarely questioned their underlying assumptions about history and freedom.' It therefore should not come as surprise that many in the United States have interpreted the end of the Cold War as a victory of the Western freedom narrative. Celebrating the Soviet Union's "grand failure"-as Zbigniew Brzezinski put it2-the American discourse assumed that from now on there would be little resistance to freedom's worldwide progression. When Francis Fukuyama offered his bold summary of these optimistic feelings and asserted in a famous passage that "what we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War... but the end of history as such,"3 he meant to convey the disappearance of an alternative to the familiar idea of free- dom, or "the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."4

In Russia, however, the Cold War story has been mainly about sovereignty and independence, rather than Western-style liberalism. To many Russians it is a story of freedom from colonization by the West and of preserving important attributes of sovereign statehood.

In a world where neocolonialism and cultural imperialism are potent forces, the idea of freedom as independence continues to have strong international appeal and remains a powerful alternative to the notion of liberal democracy. Russians formulated the narrative of independence centuries ago, as they successfully withstood external invasions from Napoleon to Hitler. The defeat of the Nazi regime was important to the Soviets because it legitimized their claims to continue with the tradition of freedom as independence.

The West's unwillingness to recognize the importance of this legitimizing myth in the role of communist ideology has served as a key reason for the Cold War.5 Like their Western counterparts, the Soviets were debating over methods but not the larger assumptions that defined their struggle.

This helps to understand why Russians could never agree with the Western interpretation of the end of the Cold War. What they find missing from the U.S. narrative is the tribute to Russia's ability to defend its freedom from expansionist ambitions of larger powers. The Cold War too is viewed by many Russians as a necessarily defensive response to the West's policies, and it is important that even while occupying Eastern Europe, the Soviets never celebrated the occupation, emphasizing instead the war vic- tory.6 The Russians officially admitted "moral responsibility" and apolo- gized for the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia.7 They may be prepared to fully recognize the postwar occupation of Eastern Europe, but only in the context of the two sides' responsibility for the Cold War. Russians also find it offensive that Western VE Day celebrations ignore the crucial contribution of Soviet troops, even though none of the Allies, as one historian put it, "paid dearer than the Soviet Union for the victory. Forty Private Ivans fell in battle to every Private Ryan."8 Victory over Nazi Germany constitutes, as another Russian wrote, "the only undisputable foundation of the national myth."9

If the two sides are to build foundations for a future partnership, the two historical narratives must be bridged. First, it is important to recognize the difficulty of negotiating a common meaning of freedom and accept that the idea of freedom may vary greatly across nations. The urge for freedom may be universal, but its social content is a specific product of national his- tories and local circumstances. For instance, the American vision of democracy initially downplayed the role of elections and emphasized selection by merit or meritocracy. Under the influence of the Great Depression, the notion of democracy incorporated a strong egalitarian and poverty-fighting component, and it was not until the Cold War- and not without its influence-that democracy has become associated with elections and pluralistic institutions.10 Second, it is essential to acknowledge the two nations' mutual respon- sibility for the misunderstanding that has resulted in the Cold War. A historically sensitive account will recognize that both sides were thinking in terms of expanding a territorial space to protect their visions of security. While the Soviets wanted to create a buffer zone to prevent a future attack from Germany, the Americans believed in reconstructing the European continent in accordance with their ideas of security and democracy. A mutual mistrust of the two countries' leaders exacerbated the situation, making it ever more difficult to prevent a full-fledged political confronta- tion. Western leaders had reason to be suspicious of Stalin, who, in his turn, was driven by the perception of the West's greed and by betrayals from the dubious Treaty of Versailles to the appeasement of Hitler in Munich. Arrangements for the post-World War II world made by Britain, the USSR, and the United States proved insufficient to address these deep-seated suspicions.

In addition, most Eastern European states created as a result of the Versailles Treaty were neither free nor democratic and collaborated with Nazi Germany in its racist and expansionist policies. The European post-World War 1 security system was not working properly, and it was only a matter of time before it would have to be transformed.

Third, if an agreeable historical account is to emerge, it would have to accept that the end of the Cold War was a product of mutually beneficial a second Cold War, "it also does not want the reversal of the U.S. geopolitical gains that it made in the decade or so after the end of the Cold War."112 Another expert asked, "What possible explanation is there for the fact that today-at a moment when both the U.S. and Russia face the common enemy of Islamist terrorism-hard-liners within the Bush administration, and especially in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, are arguing for a new tough line against Moscow along the lines of a scaled-down Cold War?"113

Yet another analyst wrote "at the Cold War's end, the United States was given one of the great opportunities of history: to embrace Russia, the largest nation on earth, as partner, friend, ally. Our mutual interests meshed almost perfectly. There was no ideological, territorial, his- toric or economic quarrel between us, once communist ideology was interred. We blew it. We moved NATO onto Russia's front porch, ignored her valid interests and concerns, and, with our 'indispensable-nation' arrogance, treated her as a defeated power, as France treated Weimar Germany after Versailles."114

[Apr 01, 2018] Trouble for big tech as consumers sour on Amazon, Facebook and co

Those companies are way too connected with intelligence agencies (some of then are essentially an extension of intelligence agencies) and as such they will be saved in any case. That means that chances that it will be dot com bubble burst No.2 exist. but how high they are is unclear.
Apr 01, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Trump is after Amazon, Congress is after Facebook, and Apple and Google have their problems too. Should the world's top tech firms be worried?

rump is going after Amazon; Congress is after Facebook; Google is too big, and Apple is short of new products. Is it any surprise that sentiment toward the tech industry giants is turning sour? The consequences of such a readjustment, however, may be dire.

Trump lashes out at Amazon and sends stocks tumbling

Read more

The past two weeks have been difficult for the tech sector by every measure. Tech stocks have largely driven the year's stock market decline, the largest quarterly drop since 2015.

Facebook saw more than $50bn shaved off its value after the Observer revealed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested millions of people's user data for political profiling. Now users are deleting accounts, and regulators may seek to limit how the company monetizes data, threatening Facebook's business model.

On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission confirmed it was investigating the company's data practices. Additionally, Facebook said it would send a top executive to London to appear in front of UK lawmakers, but it would not send the chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, who is increasingly seen as isolated and aloof.

Shares of Facebook have declined more than 17% from the close on Friday 16 March to the close on Thursday before the Easter break.

Amazon, meanwhile, long the target of President Trump's ire, saw more than $30bn, or 5%, shaved off its $693bn market capitalization after it was reported that the president was "obsessed" with the company and that he "wondered aloud if there may be any way to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law".

Shares of Apple, and Google's parent company Alphabet, are also down, dropping on concerns that tech firms now face tighter regulation across the board.

For Apple, there's an additional concern that following poor sales of its $1,000 iPhone X. For Google, there's the prospect not only of tighter regulation on how it sells user date to advertisers, but also the fear of losing an important Android software patent case with the Oracle.

Big tech's critics may be forgiven a moment of schadenfreude. But for shareholders and pension plans, the tarnishing of tech could have serious consequences.

Apple, Amazon and Alphabet make up 10% of the S&P 500 with a combined market capitalization market cap of $2.3tn. Add Microsoft and Facebook, with a combined market value of $1.1tn, and the big five make up 15% of the index.

Overall, technology makes up 25% of the S&P. If tech pops, the thinking goes, so pops the market.

"We're one week into a sell-off after a multi-year run-up," says Eric Kuby of North Star Investment Management. "The big picture is that over the past five years a group of mega cap tech stocks like Nvidia, Netflix, Facebook have gone up anywhere from 260% to 1,800%."


Confess -> Nedward Marbletoe , 1 Apr 2018 16:12

The post office is a service for citizens. It operates at a loss. Being able to send a letter across the country in two days for fifty cents is a service our government provides. Amazon is abusing that service. It's whole business model requires government support.
Byron Delaney , 1 Apr 2018 15:59
Amazon's spending power is garnered simply from its massively overalued stock price. If that falls, down goes Amazon. Facebook is entirely dependent on the postive opinion of active users. If users stop using, down goes Facebook's stock price, and so goes the company. It's extremely fragile. Apple has a short product cycle. If people lose interest in its newest versions, its stock price can tank in one year or so. Google and Microsoft seem quite solid, but are likely overvalued. (Tesla will most likwly go bankrupt, along with many others.) If these stocks continue to lose value, rwtirement funds will get scary, and we could enter recession again almost immediately. Since companies such as Amazon have already degraded the eatablished infrastructure of the economy, there may be no actual recovery. We will need to change drastically in some way. It seems that thw wheels are already turning, and this is where we are going now - with Trump as our leader.
lennbob , 1 Apr 2018 15:58
'Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley said: "We do not think attacking Amazon will be popular."'

Lloyd Walmsley hasn't spent much time in Seattle, apparently. The activities of Amazon and Google (but especially Amazon) have all contributed to traffic problems, rising rents and property prices, and gentrification (among other things) that are all making Seattle a less affordable, less attractive place to live. That's why Amazon is looking to establish a 'second headquarters' in another city: they've upset too many people here to be able to expand further in this area without at least encountering significant resistance. People here used to refer to Microsoft as 'the evil empire'; now we use it to refer to Amazon. And when it comes to their original business, books, I and most people I know actively avoid buying from Amazon, choosing instead to shop at the area's many independent book stores.

PardelLux , 1 Apr 2018 15:54
Dear Guardian,
why do you still sport the FB, Twitter, Google+, Instagramm, Pinterest etc. buttons below every single article? Why do you have to do their dirty work? I don't do that on my webpages, you don't need to do neither. Please stop it.
Alexander Dunnett , 1 Apr 2018 15:42
Not being a Trump supporter, however there is a lot of sense in some of the comments coming from Trump,. Whether he carries through with them , is another subject.


His comment on Amazon:- " Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state or local governments, use our postal system as their delivery boy (causing tremendous loss to the US) and putting many thousands of retailers out of business."

Who can argue against that? Furthermore, the retailers would have paid some tax!

Talk about elephants in the room. What about the elephants who were let out of the room to run amuck ? Should it not have been the case of being wise before the event , rather than after the event?

Neovercingetorix , 1 Apr 2018 15:20
A quasi-battle of the billionaires. With Bezos, there's the immediate political element in Bezos' ownership of the clearly anti-Trump Washington Post, which has gone so far as to become lax in editorial oversight (eg, misspelling and even occasional incomplete articles published in an obvious rush to be first to trash POTUS), but there are other issues. Amazon's impact on physical retail is well-documented, and not so long ago (ie, before Trump "attacked" Amazon"), it was sometimes lamented by those on the American left, and Trump is correct in that critique, provided one believes it is valid in the first place. Amazon does have a lot of data on its customers, including immense expenditure information on huge numbers of people. What kinds of constraints are there in place to protect this data, aside from lawyer-enriching class action suits? Beyond that, there's also online defense procurement, worth hundreds of billions in revenue to Amazon in the years to come, that was included in the modified NDAA last year. Maybe that is on Trump's mind, maybe not, but it should probably be on everyone's mind. Maybe the Sherman Antitrust Act needs to be reinvigorated. It would seem that even Trump's foes should be willing to admit that he gets some things right, but that now seems unacceptable. I mean, look at the almost knee-jerk defense of NAFTA, which way back when used to be criticized by Democrats and unions, but now must be lionized.
Byron Delaney , 1 Apr 2018 14:46
If Amazon can get cheaper shipping than anyone else and enable manufactuers to sell direct, they can sell more than anyone else as long as consumers only buy according to total price. This means two things. One, all retailers as well as distributors may be put out of business. Two, the success of Amazon may rely almost entirely on shipping costs. American consumers also will need to forego the shopping experience, but if they may do so if they're sarisfied with remaining in their residences, workplaces, and cars most of the time. This is the case in many places. People visit Starbucks drive thrus and eat and drink in their cars. If Amazon owns the food stores such as Whole Foods and Starbucks, it's a done deal. Except for one thing. If this happens, the economy will collapse. That may have already happened. Bezos is no rocket scientist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cui Bono?

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

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

The Human Rights Question

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Mar 31, 2018] In America, jails and prisons have become the nation's de facto mental healthcare providers and the results are chilling by Alisa Roth

Mar 31, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Across the country, correctional facilities are struggling with the reality that they have become the nation's de facto mental healthcare providers, although they are hopelessly ill-equipped for the job. They are now contending with tens of thousands of people with mental illness who, by some counts, make up as much as half of their populations .

Little acknowledged in public debate, this situation is readily apparent in almost every correctional facility in the country. In Michigan, roughly half of all people in county jails have a mental illness, and nearly a quarter of people in state prisons do. In 2016, the state spent nearly $4m on psychiatric medication for state prisoners. In Iowa about a third of people in prison have a serious mental illness; another quarter have a chronic mental health diagnosis.

Meanwhile, nearly half of the people executed nationwide between 2000 and 2015 had been diagnosed with a mental illness and/or substance use disorder in their adult lives. When a legal settlement required California to build a psychiatric unit on its death row at San Quentin the 40 beds were filled immediately.

The mental health crisis is especially pronounced among women prisoners: one study by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 75% of women incarcerated in jails and prisons had a mental illness, as compared with just over 60% and 55% of men, respectively. A more recent study showed that 20% of women in jail and 30% in prison had experienced "serious psychological distress" in the month before the survey, compared with 14% and 26% of men, respectively.

Although the overall number of people behind bars in the US has decreased in recent years, the proportion of prisoners with mental illness has continued to go up. In 2010, about 30% of people at New York's Rikers Island jail had a mental illness; in 2014, the figure rose to 40% , and by 2017, it had gone up to 43%. Studies of the most frequently arrested people in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere have found that they are far more likely than others to have mental illness, to require antipsychotic medications while incarcerated and to have a substance use problem.

That there are so many people with mental illness locked in our jails and prisons is but one piece of the crisis. Along with race and poverty, mental illness has become a salient feature of mass incarceration, one that must be accounted for in any discussion about criminal justice reform.

Mental illness affects every aspect of the criminal justice system, from policing to the courts to prisons and beyond. Nor are the effects limited to the criminal justice system; many people with mental illness cycle back and forth between jail or prison and living in the community.

The racial inequity of the criminal justice system has been widely noted: it is estimated that one out of every three African American men and one of every six Hispanic men born in 2001 will be arrested in their lifetimes.

But for Americans with serious mental illness, it is estimated that as many as one in two will be arrested at some point in their lives. It's not just arrests. One in four of the nearly 1,000 fatal police shootings in 2016 involved a person with mental illness, according to a study by the Washington Post. The Post estimated that mental illness was a factor in a quarter of fatal police shootings in 2017, too.

People with mental illness are among the most disadvantaged members of our society, and when they end up in the criminal justice system, they tend to fare worse than others. People with mental illness are less likely to make bail and more likely to face longer sentences. They are more likely to end up in solitary confinement, less likely to make parole and more likely to commit suicide.

Yet jail and prison have become, for many people, their primary means of getting mental healthcare. Their experiences offer an especially eye-opening view of a criminal justice system that today houses more than two million people and costs us hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

[Mar 31, 2018] Merkel and Skripal poisoning -- a despicable position of German neolineral elite

The problems with Germany is that it does not have any independent press... German MSM are probably worse then the USA MSM in being neoliberal stooges, if not to say prostitutes.
Also Merkel is a staunch neoliberal politician hell bent on neoliberal globalization and who still cling to power and tried to use the USA as a leverage to stay in power
Notable quotes:
"... So in a certain sense, I can imagine that the Russians feel really betrayed by this kind of behavior by Merkel. Now, Merkel has a specific background. You know, many people have always asked themselves, what makes this woman tick? Nobody has been able to answer that question in any satisfying way. But I think the Russians really feel betrayed. ..."
"... Merkel is just obviously following like a puppy-dog -- even though puppies are cuter than Mrs. Merkel, I would say. But I think it's a serious matter, and I think people should absolutely not fall for this, because these are the kinds of things which can get out of control and be the trigger for a new world war, and who would want that? ..."
Mar 31, 2018 | larouchepac.com

How To Outflank Mad Theresa May's March to World War III LaRouchePAC

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think the case of France is a little bit more complicated, because Macron, who had a slightly different emphasis on the cooperation with the New Silk Road and China, than Merkel, for example; the French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian just announced that Macron will go to Moscow in May. So I think that that looks a little bit different than Mrs. Merkel, who -- really, I mean, it's a complete shame, and obviously this new "Grand Coalition" government, which is not so grand, given the fact that they are all falling in the polls like a stone; I think this is really a reflection of the fact that there is presently no German elite worth being called the name.

And I think that people in Germany should really not accept that. The history of the German-Russian relationship, given the fact that there were two world wars, the Second World War being an unbelievable memory in every Russian person; and then the fact that Russia agreed to the German unification, without any shots being fired or tanks being deployed, -- you know, in a peaceful way. Russia gave up East Germany and agreed to the unification, and received promises at that time that NATO would never be expanded to the borders of Russia, a promise which was broken. And then you had all these escalations.

So in a certain sense, I can imagine that the Russians feel really betrayed by this kind of behavior by Merkel. Now, Merkel has a specific background. You know, many people have always asked themselves, what makes this woman tick? Nobody has been able to answer that question in any satisfying way. But I think the Russians really feel betrayed.

And I think the German people should go back to the kind of Ostpolitik, at minimum, which was characteristic for German attitude for a very long time, to have a policy of good-neighborliness, of peaceful dialogue, of cooperation. And I think this is really, really important that the population in Germany does not fall in line with this aggressive British policy which Merkel is just obviously following like a puppy-dog -- even though puppies are cuter than Mrs. Merkel, I would say. But I think it's a serious matter, and I think people should absolutely not fall for this, because these are the kinds of things which can get out of control and be the trigger for a new world war, and who would want that?

[Mar 31, 2018] British elite started to worry about possible toxic fall out from Skripal

Russian elite already views May's government as bandits, who staged this despicable provocation. So stakes for British elite are very high.
And the way May government tried to capitalize on this "poisoning" is really like going "all in". May clearly went what French call "va bank". Reckless statement of Johnson, who is a very weak diplomat, but no fool, if a clear testament that they expect to prevail with pretty weak cards. With ultimate reliance on power of the USA to secure favorable outcome.
Looks more and more that this is a part of Russiagate, or color revolution against Trump, however you want to call the effort: the collusion between the intelligence heads of the Obama administration with British intelligence to oust President Trump.
The Russian Foreign Ministry is now openly pointing the possibility of a UK intelligence involvement. That sheds a very bad light on EU vassals who without any questioning and with any proof immediately fell into line behind Theresa May.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry even said this was a tool used by the Europeans and the United States to try to get unity at a point when they were completely disunified. And this is the old geopolitical game, that in order to create unity you create a war, and then everybody has to fall into line before attacking Iran.
Compare with Ron Paul views on this incident: www.youtube.com
Notable quotes:
"... The UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, in a speech late on Wednesday waxed lyrical about how the Skripal episode represented a turning point in the west's approach to Russia, but his officials are aware that this mood can easily dissipate as other considerations, such as commerce, energy security or the Middle East come into play. ..."
"... The UK will try to push for further measures against Russia at the June meeting of the EU heads of state. If it is ambitious, it may may challenge German support for Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline from Russia that could put European energy demand at the mercy of Moscow. ..."
Mar 31, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

That does not mean the crisis will necessarily end there, or that the crisis is contained.

Russia, whose standing among the international community is badly damaged, is determined to do go further to clear its name, or at least throw up enough chaff so that a chunk of western public opinion doubts the British intelligence service's account of Skripal's poisoning. Moscow has already suggested a meeting on Monday of the executive of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to have "an honest conversation" about the poisoning.

The OPCW is studying samples – provided by the UK – of the novichok nerve agent allegedly used, but does not have the ability to judge the identity of the person that placed the agent by the door of Skripal's house . But the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, is determined to put the UK on the defensive and has already claimed that "if our western partners dodge the meeting then it will be further evidence that every thing that is happened is a provocation".

Russia has also responded to the apparent recovery of Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned alongside her father. She may be able to provide insights into how the poisoning occurred, or even reveal whether she knows of some other motive by some other non-state actor.

The British intelligence services will be debriefing her as soon as her health permits. It would clearly be a huge embarrassment for the UK government if it emerged she believed the Russian state was not involved.

As it is, the UK government is aware that some allied leaders, despite the public show of solidarity, face skeptical voters at home who are either against a confrontation with Vladimir Putin, or expect more convincing proof to be provided.

The UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, in a speech late on Wednesday waxed lyrical about how the Skripal episode represented a turning point in the west's approach to Russia, but his officials are aware that this mood can easily dissipate as other considerations, such as commerce, energy security or the Middle East come into play.

The UK will try to push for further measures against Russia at the June meeting of the EU heads of state. If it is ambitious, it may may challenge German support for Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline from Russia that could put European energy demand at the mercy of Moscow.

... ... ...

[Mar 31, 2018] Where Have You Gone, George McGovern by Maj. Danny Sjursen

Notable quotes:
"... Still, George McGovern was a humble man who carried the burden, and honor, of his military service with grace. Though proud of his service, he was never constrained by it. When he saw a foolish war, an immoral war -- like Vietnam -- he stood ready to dissent. He was an unapologetic liberal and unwavering in his antiwar stance. These days, his kind is an endangered species on Capitol Hill and in the Democratic National Committee. McGovern died in 2012. His party, and the United States, are lesser for his absence. ..."
"... Today's Democrats are mostly avid hawks, probably to the right of Richard Nixon on foreign policy. ..."
"... Heck, even Gen. David "Generational War" Petraeus , once found himself in some hot water when -- in a rare moment of candor -- he admitted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel." Translation: US policy toward Israel (and, no doubt, the foolhardy 2003 invasion of Iraq) make American soldiers less safe. ..."
"... So does the basic post-9/11 American policy of sovereignty violation and expansive military intervention whenever and wherever Washington feels like it -- so long as it's in the name of fighting (you guessed it) "terrorism." ..."
"... George McGovern -- a true patriot, a man who knew war but loved peace -- wouldn't recognize the likes of Klobuchar, Clinton, Schumer and company. He'd be rightfully embarrassed by their supplication to the national warfare state. ..."
"... In 1972, McGovern's presidential campaign (as, to some extent, Bernie's did) reached out to impassioned youth in the "New Left," and formed a rainbow coalition with African-Americans and other minority groups. His Democrats were no longer the party of Cold War consensus, no longer the party of LBJ and Vietnam. No, McGovern's signature issue was peace, and opposition to that disastrous war. ..."
"... His campaign distributed pins and T-shirts bearing white doves . Could you even imagine a mainstream Democrat getting within 1,000 meters of such a symbol today? Of course not. ..."
Mar 29, 2018 | original.antiwar.com

This article originally appeared at TruthDig .

He knew war well -- well enough to know he hated it.

George McGovern was a senator from South Dakota, and he was a Democrat true liberals could admire. Though remembered as a staunch liberal and foreign policy dove, McGovern was no stranger to combat. He flew 35 missions as a B-24 pilot in Italy during World War II. He even earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for executing a heroic emergency crash landing after his bomber was damaged by German anti-aircraft fire.

Still, George McGovern was a humble man who carried the burden, and honor, of his military service with grace. Though proud of his service, he was never constrained by it. When he saw a foolish war, an immoral war -- like Vietnam -- he stood ready to dissent. He was an unapologetic liberal and unwavering in his antiwar stance. These days, his kind is an endangered species on Capitol Hill and in the Democratic National Committee. McGovern died in 2012. His party, and the United States, are lesser for his absence.

Today's Democrats are mostly avid hawks, probably to the right of Richard Nixon on foreign policy. They dutifully voted for Bush's Iraq war . Then, they won back the White House and promptly expanded an unwinnable Afghan war . Soon, they again lost the presidency -- to a reality TV star -- and raised hardly a peep as Donald Trump expanded America's aimless wars into the realm of the absurd.

I've long known this, but most liberals -- deeply ensconced (or distracted) by hyper-identity politics -- hardly notice. Still, every once in a while something reminds me of how lost the Democrats truly are.

I nearly spit up my food the other day. Watching on C-SPAN as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., gleefully attended a panel at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, I couldn't help but wonder what has happened to the Democratic Party. The worst part is I like her, mostly. Look, I agree with Sen. Klobuchar on most domestic issues: health care, taxes and more. But she -- a supposed liberal -- and her mainstream Democratic colleagues are complicit in the perpetuation of America's warfare state and neo-imperial interventionism. Sen. Klobuchar and other Democrats' reflexive support for Israel is but a symptom of a larger disease in the party -- tacit militarism.

AIPAC is a lobbying clique almost as savvy and definitely as effective as the NRA. Its meetings -- well attended by mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike -- serve as little more than an opportunity for Washington pols to kiss Benjamin Netanyahu's ring and swear fealty to Israel. Most of the time, participants don't dare utter the word "Palestinian." That'd be untoward -- Palestinians are the unacknowledged elephants in the room .

The far right-wing Israeli government of Netanyahu, who is little more than a co-conspirator and enabler for America's failed project in the Middle East, should be the last group "liberals" pander to. That said, the state of Israel is a fact. Its people -- just like the Palestinians -- deserve security and liberty. Love it or hate it, Israel will continue to exist. The question is: Can Israel remain both exclusively Jewish and democratic? I'm less certain about that. For 50 years now, the Israeli military has divided, occupied and enabled the illegal settlement of sovereign Palestinian territory , keeping Arabs in limbo without citizenship or meaningful civil rights.

This is, so far as international law is concerned, a war crime. As such, unflinching American support for Israeli policy irreversibly damages the U.S. military's reputation on the "Arab street." I've seen it firsthand. In Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds and thousands of miles away from Jerusalem, captured prisoners and hospitable families alike constantly pointed to unfettered US support for Israel and the plight of Palestinians when answering that naive and ubiquitous American question: "Why do they hate us?"

Heck, even Gen. David "Generational War" Petraeus , once found himself in some hot water when -- in a rare moment of candor -- he admitted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel." Translation: US policy toward Israel (and, no doubt, the foolhardy 2003 invasion of Iraq) make American soldiers less safe.

So does the basic post-9/11 American policy of sovereignty violation and expansive military intervention whenever and wherever Washington feels like it -- so long as it's in the name of fighting (you guessed it) "terrorism." So, which "liberals" are raising hell and ringing the alarm bells for their constituents about Israeli occupation and America's strategic overreach? Sen. Klobuchar? Hardly. She, and all but four Democrats, voted for the latest bloated Pentagon budget with few questions asked. Almost as many Republicans voted against the bill. So, which is the antiwar party these days? It's hard to know.

Besides, the Dems mustered fewer than 30 votes in support of the Rand Paul amendment and his modest call to repeal and replace America's outdated, vague Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). All Sen. Paul, a libertarian Republican, wanted to do was force a vote -- in six months -- to revisit the AUMF. This wasn't radical stuff by any means. The failure of Paul's amendment, when paired with the absolute dearth of Democratic dissent on contemporary foreign policy, proves one thing conclusively: There is no longer an antiwar constituency in a major American political party. The two-party system has failed what's left of the antiwar movement.

By no means is Amy Klobuchar alone in her forever-war complicity. Long before she graced the halls of the Senate, her prominent precursors -- Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer (to name just a few) -- rubber-stamped a war of aggression in Iraq and mostly acquiesced as one president after another (including Barack Obama) gradually expanded America's post-9/11 wars. When will it end? No one knows, really, but so far, the US military has deployed advisers or commandos to 70 percent of the world's countries and is actively bombing at least seven . That's the problem with waging clandestine wars with professional soldiers while asking nothing of an apathetic public: These conflicts tend to grow and grow, until, one day -- which passed long ago -- hardly anyone realizes we're now at war with most everyone.

So where are the doves now? On the fringe, that's where. Screaming from the distant corners of the libertarian right and extreme left. No one cares, no one is listening, and they can hardly get a hearing on either MSNBC or Fox. It's the one thing both networks agree on: endless, unquestioned war. Hooray for 21st century bipartisanship.

Still, Americans deserve more from the Democrats, once (however briefly) the party of McGovern. These days, the Dems hate Trump more than they like anything. To be a principled national party, they've got to be more than just anti-Trump. They need to provide a substantive alternative and present a better foreign policy offer. How about a do-less strategy: For starters, some modesty and prudent caution would go a long way.

George McGovern -- a true patriot, a man who knew war but loved peace -- wouldn't recognize the likes of Klobuchar, Clinton, Schumer and company. He'd be rightfully embarrassed by their supplication to the national warfare state.

In 1972, McGovern's presidential campaign (as, to some extent, Bernie's did) reached out to impassioned youth in the "New Left," and formed a rainbow coalition with African-Americans and other minority groups. His Democrats were no longer the party of Cold War consensus, no longer the party of LBJ and Vietnam. No, McGovern's signature issue was peace, and opposition to that disastrous war.

His campaign distributed pins and T-shirts bearing white doves . Could you even imagine a mainstream Democrat getting within 1,000 meters of such a symbol today? Of course not.

Today's Dems are too frightened, fearful of being labeled "soft" (note the sexual innuendo) on "terror," and have thus ceded foreign policy preeminence to the unhinged, uber-hawk Republicans. We live, today, with the results of that cowardly concession.

The thing about McGovern is that he lost the 1972 election, by a landslide. And maybe that's the point. Today's Democrats would rather win than be right. Somewhere along the way, they lost their souls. Worse still, they aren't any good at winning, either.

Sure, they and everybody else "support the troops." Essentially, that means the Dems will at least fight for veterans' health care and immigration rights when vets return from battle. That's admirable enough. What they won't countenance, or even consider, is a more comprehensive, and ethical, solution: to end these aimless wars and stop making new veterans that need "saving."

Major Danny Sjursen, an Antiwar.com regular, is a U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his new podcast "Fortress on a Hill," co-hosted with fellow vet Chris 'Henri' Henrikson.

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

Copyright 2018 Danny Sjursen

[Mar 30, 2018] Russia expels diplomats in tit-for-tat action over Salisbury attack by Patrick Wintour and Shaun Walker

Russia now openly accused Britain in the attempt to kill Skripals. Also each new British version of poisoning have larger and larger holes in it. Britain tries to deflect accusations
Many people now view May Skripals gambit (in which Skripals were just pawns -- unclear winning or unwilling) as an attempt to save Russiagate in the USA -- operation conduction jointly with rogue elements of the USA intelligence agencies against Trump.
Notable quotes:
"... Mikhailov said Theresa May should resign for misleading world opinion. ..."
Mar 30, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Zakharova said nobody had cancelled the agreement, which she said still had force in international law. The UK is likely to argue that an agreement between the UK and the Soviet Union is not enforceable in court and there is no reason to give Russia access to a woman it apparently tried to kill. Russia challenged claims made by Dean Haydon, Britain's counter-terror police chief, that the Skripals first came into contact with the nerve agent from their front door .

... ... ...

"Traces of the nerve agent have been found at some of the other scenes detectives have been working at over the past few weeks, but at lower concentrations to that found at the home address," Haydon said on Wednesday.

Maj-Gen Alexander Mikhailov, from the Russian security agency FSB, claimed that if it was true the poisoning had happened on the doorstep then the Skripals would have died instantly and would not made it as far as the park where they were found slumped on a bench.

Mikhailov said Theresa May should resign for misleading world opinion.

Both sides are waiting for a report from the OPCW, which sent experts to visit the scene in Salisbury and is studying samples of the nerve agent.

Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of Russian president Vladimir Putin, said it was difficult to guess what other options for anti-Russian measures Britain could take.

"As for the UK, due to the fact that now it is a fairly unpredictable country in relations with the Russian Federation, it is difficult for us to judge what other options can be considered, and what can be the basis for this," Peskov said.

See also:

May considers banning City of London from selling Russian debt

[Mar 29, 2018] Answers to questions to recover password should never be truthful

Notable quotes:
"... So long as you choose from fictional sources which mean something to you, it's pretty easy to remember those answers. ..."
Mar 29, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

AlanAudio -> SamXTherapy , 28 Mar 2018 10:24

It's easy to use simple to remember associations from fiction.

For instance, your first school could be Grange Hill, Greyfriars or St Trinians.

First car could be Genevieve, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or maybe James Bond's Aston Martin.

Mother's maiden name could be a favorite author while your first pet's name could be Lassie, Trigger or Peter Rabbit.

So long as you choose from fictional sources which mean something to you, it's pretty easy to remember those answers.

[Mar 29, 2018] Using Gmail as a spam mail storage and for all useless registration that require email address

Mar 29, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

aliasboy -> ChomskyReader , 28 Mar 2018 08:45

When a friend invited me to join Googlemail over a decade ago, I accepted and used it as an address for any organisation who might store or misuse my data.

Little was I to know that Android would rely on a Gmail address...

Having said that, my AdSense adverts still show me ads that are no way based on my online activity so I wonder if the same people are behind the algorithms here as were predicting the world economy in 2007.

[Mar 29, 2018] Not all social sites are created equal

Usage of Facebook is of cause a big mistake. It is simply stupid in most cases. But usage of Wikipedia is not. Althouth probably NSA also gets information about pages you visited directly or indirectly.
Notable quotes:
"... consider the "internet of things" (IdiOT) directly intrusive ..."
"... how long will it remain technically feasible to opt out of the idiot stuff? ..."
Mar 29, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
bobbo123 , 28 Mar 2018 08:54
While I love Wikipedia as a wonderful, creative application of social media, I've always been spooked by Facebook and the like, and consider the "internet of things" (IdiOT) directly intrusive ...

Does my resistance to the big-bro-data invasion classify me as a Luddite? And how long will it remain technically feasible to opt out of the idiot stuff?

Massaniello , 28 Mar 2018 08:46
I recall a time some 20 or so years ago when many of us thought about and wondered how in the world the Internet could survive if info and interactions were without monetary cost. It seemed like a space within which we could freely move and think and engage. I recall driving down the NJ Turnpike in 1993 Listening intently to a radio news report about the wonders of the upcoming information super highway that was about to bring us all together and overcome violence and racism and sexism and without any tolls. Al Gore himself was encouraging this wondrous new world. We were about to be a part of World Wide Web love fest reminiscent of a 1967 Summer of Love Be-In.

Now we know how the Internet survived. Call it innovation. I call it a police state, engineered by right-wing jerks at Stanford with a little help from their friends at Cal Tech, MIT, and Harvard, and based in Silicon Valley. If that's the way you want it, well that's the way you'll get it.

[Mar 29, 2018] We need to take ownership of our information and data back again and regulate the internet as a utility

Neoliberalism and spying are connected at birth. anybody who think that Google or Facebook shenanigans are anomaly needs to think again... Survellance Valley is the product of neoliberalism. As simple as that.
Notable quotes:
"... We need to take ownership of our information and data back again and regulate the internet as a utility. ..."
"... It may not have much affect on who knows what about those of us who have already given away our privacy, but it could protect future generations ..."
Mar 29, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
laerteg -> hellopixel , 28 Mar 2018 10:13
Actually, it's wonderful (though it's also full of lies, propaganda and bs).

But like all too many wonderful things, the greedy and the power hungry despoil it, manipulate it to their own advantage, and use it to exploit others - often under the guise of "security."

A new technology is developed, people start using it, and before they know it, they can't live, work, or perform many daily tasks without it.

Oh, sure, all of us here could stop commenting online. We could abandon social networks. But what about everything else that involves giving up our personal information to a corporation and/or the government that has become part of how things get done in our world?

That's a heck of a lot harder.

Add to that our collective intention since 1980 to weaken government regulation of business' ability to do whatever it wants with our personal information, while increasing government's ability to surveil us and invade our privacy, as well, and you have an internet that is getting less and less wonderful by the day.

Oh, and don't forget those in business and government trying to destroy net neutrality, so some (those who can pay for it) will be more equal than others in their ability to use the internet.

We need to take ownership of our information and data back again and regulate the internet as a utility.

It may not have much affect on who knows what about those of us who have already given away our privacy, but it could protect future generations .

[Mar 29, 2018] We should not glamorize the past iether

Mar 29, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Bradther , 28 Mar 2018 10:14

... Remember to look at the back of the your envelopes containing your personal mail - when it's being scanned by your State it will have it's rear various pencilled initials. At one time the departments in sorting offices were only allowed to deviate mail for twenty minutes but now given that standards have dropped not such constraints exist. That's progress.

[Mar 29, 2018] You might wish to consider the new Brave browser for a part of your internet access

Actually the idea of usage of several browsers each tunes to specific purposes is a good idea
Notable quotes:
"... It was created by the former CEO of Mozilla (Firefox) and employs at least one engineer involved in the development of the Tor browser ..."
"... Its snappy performance is also a pleasant surprise. ..."
Mar 29, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

vedvek -> wascallywabbit , 28 Mar 2018 10:06

I recommend the new 'Brave' browser - it's primary focus is on privacy. It was created by the former CEO of Mozilla (Firefox) and employs at least one engineer involved in the development of the Tor browser (the one used for super-secure browsing on the dark web). Its snappy performance is also a pleasant surprise.
wascallywabbit , 28 Mar 2018 09:41
19. One way to limit the amount of data that you are providing is to stop using Google Chrome. It is a browser created by an advertising company specifically to harvest your personal information. If you are logged in to gmail, using google for your searches, watching Youtube and browsing on chrome, then you're making it easy for them. Try Firefox or one of the other browsers out there, use a different search engine, and don't leave your account logged in to google all day.
dg000000 -> fishtail75 , 28 Mar 2018 09:30
With every financial transaction, banks know the location, value and can estimate the goods I buy. They could run AI algorithms to determine everything about my habits and preferences to spend and sell this insight to shops and websites who could use this it to get me to part with my money easier...but they don't.

Mobile operators poll my mobile phone constantly so always know my location, they know the numbers I call and text so know my social network. They could run AI algorithms to determine where I'll be when, and who I'll likely be with...but they don't.

[Mar 29, 2018] Deception can help, in right dose at right time

Mar 29, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Battleweary -> LestWeNeverForget , 28 Mar 2018 11:19

Make their day, write something outlandish.
Decades ago, long before mobile phones were invented, we used to get crossed lines on our landline regularly. We could hear other people in the background, and one day a nosy woman listening to our conversation was relaying what we were talking about to her husband, oblivious to the fact we could hear her, so we spiced up the conversation.
I started it by saying, "OK, but down to business, lets talk about next week". We made it sound as if we were planning a heist. She was totally taken in, to the point of asking her husband if she should tell the police! After a few minutes of leading her on, I said," Do you think the nosy bitch listening in on the crossed line got all that? ".
She slammed her phone down.

[Mar 29, 2018] 18 tips for surviving the surveillance age by Alex Hern and Arwa Mahdawi

Be a pioneer – delete Facebook ~Jaron Lanier
Notable quotes:
"... If you wipe your phone every year, you learn which apps you need and which are just sitting in the background hoovering up data ..."
"... 14. Have as many social-media-free days in the week as you have alcohol-free days ..."
"... 16. Don't let the algorithms pick what you do ..."
"... 18. Finally, remember your privacy is worth protecting ..."
"... Increasingly, our inner lives are being reduced to a series of data points; every little thing we do is for sale. As we're starting to see, this nonstop surveillance changes us. It influences the things we buy and the ideas we buy into ..."
"... Being more mindful of our online behaviour, then, isn't just important when it comes to protecting our information, it's essential to protecting our individuality. ..."
"... It seems sensible to take steps to 'protect' ourselves from the data hoover that is google or Facebook. ..."
"... Our data is ours, and not theirs to sell onto or allow political freak shows to 'target' us for the suckers benefit, and not the suckees welfare. Who knows how many abusers have been able to hit on vulnerable family's with children! ..."
"... The internet is a colourful addictive place that most users have only a limited grasp of its potential, as nicely illustrated by our politicians being dumb to these recent events impact. Capitalist thinking, we know, is incapable of self regulation. ..."
Mar 29, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

1. Download all the information Google has on you

You may well have downloaded your Facebook data already; it has become something of a trend in recent days. Now take a look at what Google has on you. Go to Google's "Takeout" tool and download your data from the multiple Google products you probably use, such as Gmail, Maps, Search and Drive. You'll get sent a few enormous files that contain information about everything from the YouTube videos you have watched, your search history, your location history and so on. Once you've seen just how much information about you is in the cloud, you may want to go about deleting it. I highly recommend deleting your Google Maps history, for a start, unless you are particularly eager to have a detailed online record of everywhere you have ever been. You may also want to stop Google from tracking your location history. Sign in to Google, open Maps, then click on "timeline" in the menu. At the bottom, there's an option to manage your location history.

... ... ...

10. Never put your kids on the public internet

Maybe it's fine to upload pics to a shared (private) photo album, or mention their day in a group DM. But if it's public, Google can find it. And if Google can find it, it's never going away. How are you going to tell your child in 16 years' time that they can't get a drivers' licence because Daddy put a high-res photo of their iris online when they were two and now they trip alarms from here to Mars?

12. Sometimes it's worth just wiping everything and starting over

Your phone, your tweets, your Facebook account: all of these things are temporary. They will pass. Free yourself from an obsession with digital hoarding.

If you wipe your phone every year, you learn which apps you need and which are just sitting in the background hoovering up data .

If you wipe your Facebook account every year, you learn which friends you actually like and which are just hanging on to your social life like a barnacle.

14. Have as many social-media-free days in the week as you have alcohol-free days

This can be zero if you want, but know that we're judging you.

15. Retrain your brain to focus

Save up your longreads using Instapaper or Pocket and read them without distraction. Don't dip in and out of that 4,000-word article on turtles: read it in one go. Or maybe even try a book!

16. Don't let the algorithms pick what you do

You are not a robot, you are a human being, and exercising your own free will is the greatest strength you have. When that YouTube video ends, don't watch the next one that autoplays. When you pick up your phone in the morning, don't just click on the stories at the top of Apple News or Google Now. Exercise choice! Exercise freedom! Exercise humanity!

17. Do what you want with your data, but guard your friends' info with your life

Yes, you should think twice before granting that fun app you downloaded access to your location or your photo library. Do you trust it not to do weird things with your pictures? Do you know it won't track your every movement? But ultimately, those are your decisions, and they are for you to make. But your friends' data isn't yours, it's theirs, and you are a trusted custodian. Don't think twice before authorising access to your address book, or your friends' profiles: think five or six times, and then don't do it.

18. Finally, remember your privacy is worth protecting

You might not have anything to hide (except your embarrassing Netflix history) but that doesn't mean you should be blase about your privacy.

Increasingly, our inner lives are being reduced to a series of data points; every little thing we do is for sale. As we're starting to see, this nonstop surveillance changes us. It influences the things we buy and the ideas we buy into .

Being more mindful of our online behaviour, then, isn't just important when it comes to protecting our information, it's essential to protecting our individuality.

Frenske 28 Mar 2018 23:58

I always use the wrong birthday when registering for accounts unless it is for financial services and utility which may do credit check or are used in credit checks. If my real name is not required I use a variation on my last name.

Jack Harrison 28 Mar 2018 22:33

Astounding that people are surprised about all this data hoarding and selling.

There's a reason Facebook, Google etc are worth BILLIONS. It ain't because of the ads you ignore or are blocked.

FooBar21 -> cachito11 28 Mar 2018 21:31

"There billions of species on our own very planet that show us daily how life is not about money."

In their case daily life is a constant struggle to evade an endless supply of predators who are always looking to tear them limb to limb or swallow them whole, find whatever scraps of food they can find to avoid starving to death, and compete with conspecifics for the right to procreate. On a good day.

wascallywabbit -> Davinci Woohoo 28 Mar 2018 19:34

Thanks Davinci for the reasoned and balanced response.

I appreciate that it's not necessarily your view, but that there is a lot of history behind it. However, to a European living in a modern democracy, it just seems to be a strange and counter-productive attitude. For example, rather than paying taxes for pooled and equitable public services, many of those services are run as profit-making businesses, thus removing money from the system. It also reinforces class divisions, as the rich can pay, but the poor cannot. As a result, many people cannot pay for medical care, cannot send their children to university, and are forced to buy a car to move around.

Again, I'm not criticising you personally, just the mindset that you mentioned.

fatkevin 28 Mar 2018 19:25

It seems sensible to take steps to 'protect' ourselves from the data hoover that is google or Facebook.

But should it be that way round? These cyborg organisations should frame their technology and services that automatically displays social responsibilities towards those they are currently sucking dry of personal information.

Our data is ours, and not theirs to sell onto or allow political freak shows to 'target' us for the suckers benefit, and not the suckees welfare. Who knows how many abusers have been able to hit on vulnerable family's with children!

The internet is a colourful addictive place that most users have only a limited grasp of its potential, as nicely illustrated by our politicians being dumb to these recent events impact. Capitalist thinking, we know, is incapable of self regulation. Internet orgs therefore need steep guidelines that imposes tight operating practices that ensures the vulnerable (that's you and me) don't have to encounter the likes of these recent catastrophes.

Putting lead into food a century ago was deadly until food standards were criminalised; the same applies to the cyborgian world of the internet.