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Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
and Alliance of Transnational Elites

Neoliberalism is inseparable from imperialism and globalization

Who Rules America > Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism

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

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

Gary Leupp, The U.S. Versus ISIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henry C K Liu Views

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


PART 1: A Structural Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monetary Imperialism and Dollar Hegemony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The victimization of Japan and China

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

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

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

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

Emerging markets are new colonies of monetary imperialism

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

Denial of corporate social responsibility

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

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

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

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

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

Marx's concept of Fetishism of Commodities

Marx wrote in Das Kapital:[1]

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

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

Democracy threatened by the corporate state

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

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

High pay for CEOs

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

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

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

Superman capitalism

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

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

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

An introduction to economic populism

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

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

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

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

Inequality only a new worry?

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

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

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

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

Carter the granddaddy of deregulation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reagan's anti-government fixation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clinton and telecommunications deregulation

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

Regulation Q

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

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

The party of Lincoln taken over by corporate interests

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

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

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

Next: PART 2: Global war on labor

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

Copyright 2007, Henry C K Liu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joshua Malle (Seattle, WA USA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Salty Saltillo (from the road, USA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samuel Brittan: The wrong kind of Third Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon.com

The Balance of Capitalism and Democracy, September 17, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finance is a form of imperial warfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Great Deception

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

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

Trade for life

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

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

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

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

Web of Deceit

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

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

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

Unpeople

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

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

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

Alliance of transnational elites

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

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

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

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

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

Imperialism 101 by Micjael Parenti

Imperialism 101 By Michael Parenti

By Michael Parenti

24 June, 2011
Michaelparenti.org

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

Across the Entire Globe

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

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

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

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

The Dynamic of Capital Expansion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Necessary, Just Compelling

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

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

Myths of Underdevelopment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artificially Converted to Poverty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Development Theory

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

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

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

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

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

Neoimperialism: Skimming the Cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 1 of Against Empire by Michael Parenti

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


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[Feb 19, 2019] Foreign Policy is More Than Just War and Peace

Notable quotes:
"... Congress needs to take back the war powers. The fact that no one wants to be the one responsible for deciding to go to war might help slow down if not stop all these regime change wars. Maybe if Congress votes on it enough of them will be reluctant to make a yes vote. ..."
"... how being a mercenary soldier/terrorist in other people's countries, murdering their people and destroying their infrastructure, for military and multinational corporate profits and Wall St., translates to "serving and sacrificing for the people of our country"? How do you make that weird leap in logic? ..."
Nov 14, 2018 | www.youtube.com

Foreign policy is more than just war and peace, it is a nuanced and complex issue that directly affects us here at home. In this interview, Dr. Jane Sanders sits down with Representative Tulsi Gabbard to talk about U.S. foreign policy and how it affects us here at home.

oneofthesixbillion , 3 months ago (edited)

Tulsi this is the first I've explored who you are. This conversation felt like a life giving refreshment. The constant war and regime change policy of every administration since I was a young child has been utterly confounding. We are bankrupting our society and civilization with military expenditure exactly like a life destroying heroin addict except it's on a global scale. These people in the powers that be together with the masses that back them are literal sociopaths and they're entirely in control at both the highest and base levels. The only other time I've felt as nourished by a public figure that somehow pierced through the mainstream media was Bernie Sanders actually expressing the fact that we are an oligarchy not a democracy. Like oligarchy, anti-war and imperialism is just not talked about. US Americans won't acknowledge the scale of our imperialism.

Jonah Dubin , 3 months ago

Tulsi should run and both Sanders should follow her lead. As much as I love him, Bernie's too old to be president - when it gets to the stage against Trump, we need a young, vibrant face. Add onto that the fact that she's a veteran who actually asked to be deployed in comparison to him, a draft dodger - he looks like an old fat pathetic septogenarian next to an early 40s real populist. Ultimately it is up to Sanders whether this whole thing is about a man or a movement. If he runs, he'll probably win the primary but it is not a guarantee that he'd win - Tulsi would win and she'd be around for decades to come as a standard barer too.

Wayne Chapman , 2 months ago

"Sensible politics" seems to be an oxymoron these days and pretty much throughout the history of our country. It's so refreshing to see a politician who has a vision for the future that the majority of us can get behind. It scares me though. I've read quite a bit about JFK the past few years, and he amassed a number of very powerful and dangerous enemies. They won't just stand by and allow someone in a position of influence to get the truth out about our immoral and illegal wars. Tulsi, I support your efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and elsewhere, but please do be careful. You're a fighter and I admire that, but we all want you to be safe and healthy for many years to come.

George Crannell , 5 days ago

Tulsi Gabbard, I am thrilled to have someone like you running for president. I am a fellow Veteran dealing with disability and I am glad to have a candidate who understands the issues Veterans are dealing with. I also realize that the voting public will support the person who resonates with their personal lives and issues that don't exist in their life they will disregard.Thank you for you're support.

somedayalwaysnever , 4 days ago

The DNC will lie cheat and steal the election from Tulsi Gabbard just like they did Bernie Sanders, and the 15 million Americans who Left the un-Democratic party will double and triple....DEMEXIT

Robert Covarrubias , 1 week ago

Tulsi Gabbard needs to be the president of the United States of America period. If she not the president of our country will not survive. That is a fact, how stupid can our government be. I guess very stupid, what else can I say. We don't hear that in main news media, the reason we do hear it the media . The news media is totally brought, the main news media love money and the devil, simple as that. How are you going to hear about wars from main news media. They do care about the citizens or the country. We really don't have a real news media, it all propaganda. All fake news, that why one doesn't hear anything from the new medias.

Lee Alexander , 1 month ago

Congress needs to take back the war powers. The fact that no one wants to be the one responsible for deciding to go to war might help slow down if not stop all these regime change wars. Maybe if Congress votes on it enough of them will be reluctant to make a yes vote.

D Personal , 1 week ago

WAKE UP, PEOPLE! Bernie is a sell-out - a sheeple-herder that never intended to win. He was a gatekeeper for Hillary because she is AIPAC-beloved and he is an Israel-firster. He threw his supporters under the bus as they told him in real time that the nomination was being stolen. He's part of the con, and the sooner we realize this, the better off we'll be. BERNIE WORKS FOR DEMOCRATS. Vote Third Party (REAL third parties, not the Bernie Sanders' kind).

Kinky, 2 months ago

Tulsi - re your comment about our veterans who have "served and sacrificed for their country," could you clarify how being a mercenary soldier/terrorist in other people's countries, murdering their people and destroying their infrastructure, for military and multinational corporate profits and Wall St., translates to "serving and sacrificing for the people of our country"? How do you make that weird leap in logic?

[Feb 19, 2019] Tulsi Gabbard kills New World Order bloodbath in thirty seconds

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Tulsi Gabbard has recently launched a new attack on New World Order agents and ethnic cleansers in the Middle East, and one can see why they would be upset with her ..."
"... Gabbard is smart enough to realize that the Neocon path leads to death, chaos, and destruction. She knows that virtually nothing good has come out of the Israeli narrative in the Middle East -- a narrative which has brought America on the brink of collapse in the Middle East. Therefore, she is asking for a U-turn. ..."
"... The first step for change, she says, is to "stand up against powerful politicians from both parties" who take their orders from the Neocons and war machine. These people don't care about you, me, the average American, the people in the Middle East, or the American economy for that matter. They only care about fulfilling a diabolical ideology in the Middle East and much of the world. These people ought to stop once and for all. Regardless of your political views, you should all agree with Gabbard here. ..."
Feb 19, 2019 | www.veteranstoday.com

Tulsi Gabbard has recently launched a new attack on New World Order agents and ethnic cleansers in the Middle East, and one can see why they would be upset with her. She said:

" We must stand up against powerful politicians from both parties who sit in their ivory towers thinking up new wars to wage, new places for people to die, wasting trillions of our taxpayer dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives and undermining our economy, our security, and destroying our middle class."

It is too early to formulate a complete opinion on Gabbard, but she has said the right thing so far. In fact, her record is better than numerous presidents, both past and present.

As we have documented in the past, Gabbard is an Iraq war veteran, and she knew what happened to her fellow soldiers who died for Israel, the Neocon war machine, and the military industrial complex. She also seems to be aware that the war in Iraq alone will cost American taxpayers at least six trillion dollars. [1] She is almost certainly aware of the fact that at least "360,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans may have suffered brain injuries." [2]

Gabbard is smart enough to realize that the Neocon path leads to death, chaos, and destruction. She knows that virtually nothing good has come out of the Israeli narrative in the Middle East -- a narrative which has brought America on the brink of collapse in the Middle East. Therefore, she is asking for a U-turn.

The first step for change, she says, is to "stand up against powerful politicians from both parties" who take their orders from the Neocons and war machine. These people don't care about you, me, the average American, the people in the Middle East, or the American economy for that matter. They only care about fulfilling a diabolical ideology in the Middle East and much of the world. These people ought to stop once and for all. Regardless of your political views, you should all agree with Gabbard here.


[Feb 19, 2019] Warmongers in their ivory towers - YouTube

Highly recommended!
This is a powerful political statement... Someaht similar to Tucker Carlson stance...
Feb 19, 2019 | www.youtube.com

"We must stand up against powerful politicians from both parties who sit in their ivory towers thinking up new wars to wage, new places for people to die, wasting trillions of our taxpayer dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives and undermining our economy, our security, and destroying our middle class."

[Feb 19, 2019] Charles Schumer and questioning the foreign policy choices of the American Empire's ruling class

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... US soldiers are butchered, maimed and horribly wounded fighting wars on behalf of Israel and Charles Schumer will start screaming about so-called "anti-Semitism" if anyone questions the foreign policy choices of the American Empire's ruling class ..."
Feb 19, 2019 | www.unz.com

Charles Pewitt says: February 19, 2019 at 3:01 pm GMT 200 Words ...

...Charles Schumer is a JEW NATIONALIST who uses his power and the power of the Israel Lobby to get American soldiers to fight wars on behalf of Israel in the Middle East and West Asia.

US soldiers are butchered, maimed and horribly wounded fighting wars on behalf of Israel and Charles Schumer will start screaming about so-called "anti-Semitism" if anyone questions the foreign policy choices of the American Empire's ruling class.

[Feb 18, 2019] Tulsi 2020 Anti-war Democrat says she s running for US president

Notable quotes:
"... Due to her antiwar stance in Syria, Gabbard was at one point rumored to be a potential candidate to head Trump's State Department, and even met with the president-elect at Trump Tower in November 2016, but nothing came of it. ..."
"... In January 2017, she traveled to Syria on a fact-finding trip, outraging the Washington establishment. She has also proposed a bill to outlaw US weapons sales to terrorists. ..."
"... It is unclear whether Gabbard will get much traction among the establishment Democrats, who she has frequently disagreed with on foreign policy issues. ..."
"... So many entrenched bipartisan interests fear the foreign policy debate her presence on the campaign trail will provoke. Look for more obsessive attacks in Omidyar's the Interventionist, republished in his local Hawaii paper. ..."
Jan 12, 2019 | www.rt.com

Due to her antiwar stance in Syria, Gabbard was at one point rumored to be a potential candidate to head Trump's State Department, and even met with the president-elect at Trump Tower in November 2016, but nothing came of it.

In January 2017, she traveled to Syria on a fact-finding trip, outraging the Washington establishment. She has also proposed a bill to outlaw US weapons sales to terrorists.

Gabbard first sparked rumors of a 2020 run in December , when she toured Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to host nationwide party primary elections.

Inspired by the party's strong showing in the November midterms, a number of Democrats are eager to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) announced on New Year's Eve that she was forming a presidential exploratory committee. Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Obama administration, has also toured Iowa and is expected to announce his candidacy this weekend.

It is unclear whether Gabbard will get much traction among the establishment Democrats, who she has frequently disagreed with on foreign policy issues.

Ostensibly, Tulsi Gabbard checks all the correct "diversity boxes" that Democrats claim they want: young, female, minority. But weirdly, she won't benefit from satisfying these (fake) criteria, because she's hated for unrelated political reasons. So that should be fun.

-- Michael Tracey (@mtracey) January 11, 2019

Tulsi Gabbard is a really next-level politician. Any amateur can be a traditional US racist politician, but it takes skill to succeed in America as a Hindu-nationalist racist / tankie Assad apologist.

-- Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt) January 11, 2019

Tulsi Gabbard doesn't have a base but she's someone people like the more they see her.

Don't sleep on this one.

Although if you follow Cernovich you remember I said over two years ago that she was the one to watch...

-- Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) January 12, 2019

Say what you want about Tulsi Gabbard (I have my own criticisms) but this is probably an accurate prediction of how opposition to her campaign from other Democrats will play out https://t.co/xEhdD1ZmyN

-- Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) January 11, 2019

I'd pay close attention to the financing of this campaign. https://t.co/DMiABthwNY

-- Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) January 11, 2019

Tired of Putin? Vote Assad 2020!!!!!!! https://t.co/aMMF71wz69

-- Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) January 11, 2019

So many entrenched bipartisan interests fear the foreign policy debate her presence on the campaign trail will provoke. Look for more obsessive attacks in Omidyar's the Interventionist, republished in his local Hawaii paper. Also, not sure what this means for a Bernie run. https://t.co/RD7pCRRkTW

-- Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) January 12, 2019

[Feb 18, 2019] Do You Believe in the Deep State Now by Robert W. Merry

Highly recommended!
Feb 18, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

That's a natural reaction to the revelation of Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy FBI director, that top Justice Department officials, alarmed by Donald Trump's firing of former Bureau director James Comey, explored a plan to invoke the 25th Amendment and kick the duly elected president out of office.

According to New York Times reporters Adam Goldman and Matthew Haag, McCabe made the statement in an NBC 60 Minutes interview to be aired on Sunday. He also reportedly said that McCabe wanted the so-called Russia collusion investigation to go after Trump for obstructing justice in firing Comey and for any instances they could turn up of his working in behalf of Russia.

The idea of invoking the 25th Amendment was discussed, it seems, at two meetings on May 16, 2017. According to McCabe, top law enforcement officials pondered how they might recruit Vice President Pence and a majority of cabinet members to declare in writing, to the Senate's president pro tempore and the House speaker, that the president was "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." That would be enough, under the 25th Amendment, to install the vice president as acting president, pushing aside Trump.

But to understand what kind of constitutional crisis this would unleash and the precedent it would set, it's necessary to ponder the rest of this section of the 25th Amendment. The text prescribes that, if the president, after being removed, transmits to the same congressional figures that he is indeed capable of discharging his duties, he shall once again be president after four days. But if the vice president and the cabinet majority reiterate their declaration within those four days that the guy can't govern, Congress is charged with deciding the issue. It then takes a two-thirds vote of both houses to keep the president removed, which would have to be done within 21 days, during which time the elected president would be sidelined and the vice president would govern. If Congress can't muster the two-thirds majority within the prescribed time period, the president "shall resume the powers and duties of his office."

It's almost impossible to contemplate the political conflagration that would ensue under this plan. Citizens would watch those in Washington struggle with the monumental question of the fate of their elected leader under an initiative that had never before been invoked, or even considered, in such circumstances. Debates would flare up over whether this comported with the original intent of the amendment; whether it was crafted to deal with physical or mental "incapacitation," as opposed to controversial actions or unsubstantiated allegations or even erratic decision making; whether such an action, if established as precedent, would destabilize the American republic for all time; and whether unelected bureaucrats should arrogate to themselves the power to set in motion the downfall of a president, circumventing the impeachment language of the Constitution.

For the past two years, the country has been struggling to understand the two competing narratives of the criminal investigation of the president.

One narrative -- let's call it Narrative A -- has it that honorable and dedicated federal law enforcement officials developed concerns over a tainted election in which nefarious Russian agents had sought to tilt the balloting towards the candidate who wanted to improve U.S.-Russian relations and who seemed generally unseemly. Thus did the notion emerge, quite understandably, that Trump had "colluded" with Russian officials to cadge a victory that otherwise would have gone to his opponent. This narrative is supported and protected by Democratic figures and organizations, by adherents of the "Russia as Threat" preoccupation, and by anti-Trumpers everywhere, particularly news outlets such as CNN, The Washington Post , and The New York Times .

Trump, the FBI, and the Final Debasement of American Politics Unlike Nixon, Trump Will Not Go Quietly

The other view -- Narrative B -- posits that certain bureaucratic mandarins of the national security state and the outgoing Obama administration resolved early on to thwart Trump's candidacy. After his election, they determined to undermine his political standing, and particularly his proposed policy toward Russia, through a relentless and expansive investigation characterized by initial misrepresentations, selective media leaks, brutal law enforcement tactics, and a barrage of innuendo. This is the narrative of most Trump supporters, conservative commentators, Fox News, and The Wall Street Journal editorial page, notably columnist Kimberley Strassel.

The McCabe revelation won't affect the battle of the two narratives. As ominous and outrageous as this "deep state" behavior may seem to those who embrace Narrative B, it will be seen by Narrative A adherents as evidence that those law enforcement officials were out there heroically on the front lines protecting the republic from Donald J. Trump.

And those Narrative A folks won't have any difficulty tossing aside the fact that McCabe was fired as deputy FBI director for violating agency policy in leaking unauthorized information to the news media. He then allegedly violated the law in lying about it to federal investigators on four occasions, including three times while under oath.

Indeed, Narrative A people have no difficulty at all brushing aside serious questions posed by Narrative B people. McCabe is a likely liar and perjurer? Doesn't matter. Peter Strzok, head of the FBI's counterespionage section, demonstrated his anti-Trump animus in tweets and emails to Justice official Lisa Page? Irrelevant. Christopher Steele's dossier of dirt on Trump, including an allegation that the Russians were seeking to blackmail and bribe him, was compiled by a man who had demonstrated to a Justice Department official that he was "desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and passionate about him not being president"? Not important. The dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party? Immaterial. Nothing in the dossier was ever substantiated? So what?

Now we have a report from a participant of those meetings that top officials of the country's premier law enforcement entity sat around and pondered how to bring down a sitting president they didn't like. The Times even says that McCabe "confirmed" an earlier report that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire in meetings with Trump to incriminate him and make him more vulnerable to the plot.

There is no suggestion in McCabe's interview pronouncements or in the words of Scott Pelley, who conducted the interview and spoke to CBS This Morning about it, that these federal officials ever took action to further the aim of unseating the president. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that they approached cabinet members or the vice president about it. "They were speculating, 'This person would be with us, this person would not be,' and they were counting noses in that effort," said Pelley. He added, apparently in response to Rosenstein's insistence that his comments about wearing a wire were meant as a joke, "This was not perceived to be a joke."

What are we to make of this? Around the time of the meetings to discuss the 25th Amendment plot, senior FBI officials also discussed initiating a national security investigation of the president as a stooge of the Russians or perhaps even a Russian agent. These talks were revealed by The New York Times and CNN in January, based on closed-door congressional testimony by former FBI general counsel James Baker. You don't have to read very carefully to see that the reporters on these stories brought to them a Narrative A sensibility. The Times headline: "F.B.I. Opened Inquiry into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia." CNN's: "Transcripts detail how FBI debated whether Trump was 'following directions' of Russia." And of course, whoever leaked those hearing transcripts almost surely did so to bolster the Narrative A version of events.

The independent journalist Gareth Porter, writing at Consortium News, offers a penetrating exposition of the inconsistencies, fallacies, and fatuities of the Narrative A matrix, as reflected in how the Times and CNN handled the stories that resulted from what were clearly self-interested leaks.

Porter notes that a particularly sinister expression in May 2017 by former CIA director John O. Brennan, a leading Trump antagonist, has precipitated echoes in the news media ever since, particularly in the Times . Asked in a committee hearing if he had intelligence indicating that anyone in the Trump campaign was "colluding with Moscow," Brennan dodged the question. He said his experience had taught him that "the Russians try to suborn individuals, and they try to get them to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly."

Of course you can't collude with anybody unwittingly. But Brennan's fancy expression has the effect of expanding what can be thrown at political adversaries, to include not just conscious and nefarious collaboration but also policy advocacy that could be viewed as wrongheaded or injurious to U.S. interests. As Porter puts it, "The real purpose is to confer on national security officials and their media allies the power to cast suspicion on individuals on the basis of undesirable policy views of Russia rather than on any evidence of actual collaboration with the Russian government."

That seems to be what's going on here. There's no doubt that McCabe and Rosenstein and Strzok and Brennan and Page and many others despised Trump and his resolve to thaw relations with Russia. They viewed him as a president "who needed to be reined in," as a CNN report described the sentiment among top FBI officials after the Comey firing.

So they expanded the definition of collusion to include "unwitting" collaboration in order to justify their machinations. It's difficult to believe that people in such positions would take such a cavalier attitude toward the kind of damage they could wreak on the body politic.

Now we learn that they actually sat around and plotted how to distort the Constitution, just as they distorted the rules of official behavior designed to hold them in check, in order to destroy a presidential administration placed in power by the American people. It's getting more and more difficult to dismiss Narrative B.

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century. MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

Alternative Facts at the NYT James Polk's Realpolitik Hide 52 comments 52 Responses to Do You Believe in the Deep State Now? ← Older Comments

Ken Zaretzke February 16, 2019 at 4:57 pm

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/02/trump-russia-collusion-investigation-criminalization-policy-disputes/

Also very good is the blunt force trauma inflicted on the FBI in yesterday's Wall Street Journal by Kimberly Strassel.

Fran Macadam , , February 15, 2019 at 2:19 pm
You're right, it didn't change a thing in the full-throated support to depose an elected President they disagree with. The bureaucratic cabal has long had a more informal absolute veto over who can even run for President. This guy challenged that hegemony of insider power brokers, and caused the revelation that we have morphed into a Potemkin-style, managed democracy, in which we don't choose who gets to run, just which of their choices we are allowed to approve.

Such is the decadent trajectory, of republics that transition into empires, where democratic accountabilty to the governed, domestic and foreign, decays in favor of empire administrators and their elite beneficiaries and their sinecures at the expense of the majority.

People rail against Trump as some sort of would-be Caesar, but he is elected, while those permanent unaccountable "national security" czars acting in secrecy they are willing to transfer all power to, are not.

No form of popular government can survive when secret police recording everything and spying on the population become the real power.

This is a coup, in slow motion.

Kent , , February 15, 2019 at 2:26 pm
"It's difficult to believe that people in such positions would take such a cavalier attitude toward the kind of damage they could wreak on the body politic."

What we don't want to recognize is that people in such positions are, in fact, just that dumb. It is unfortunately true. While not a Trump supporter, I would be out on the streets with them if these jacka$$es had tried to pull this off. They should ALL be immediately terminated and any benefits revoked.

Kurt Gayle , , February 15, 2019 at 2:32 pm
Last night (Feb 14, 2019) Tucker Carlson interviewed retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz (1:04-3:36):

Carlson: "Professor, thanks very much for coming on. So now the suspicions of many are confirmed by one of the players in it. The Department of Justice discussed trying to remove the President using the 25 Amendment. What's your reaction to that?

Dershowitz: "Well, if that's true, it is clearly an attempt at a coup d'état. Relating to what your former guest said, let's take the worst case scenario: Let's assume the President of the United States was in bed with the Russians, committed treason, committed obstruction of justice -- the 25 Amendment simply is irrelevant to that. That's why you have an impeachment provision. The 25th amendment is about Woodrow Wilson having a stroke. It's about a president being shot and not being able to perform his office. It's not about the most fundamental disagreements. It's not about impeachable offenses. And any Justice Department official who even mentioned the 25th Amendment in the context of President Trump has committed a grievous offense against the Constitution. The framers of the 25th amendment had in mind something very specific. And trying to use the 25th amendment to circumvent the impeachment provisions, or to circumvent an election is a despicable act of unconstitutional power-grabbing. And you were right when you said it reminded me of what happens in third world countries. Look, these people may have been well-intentioned. They may believe that they were serving the interests of the United States. But you have to obey the law and the law is the Constitution and the 25th Amendment is as clear as could be: incapacity, unable to perform office. That's what you need. That's why you need 2/3 of the House and 2/3 of the Senate agreeing. And it has to be on the basis of a medical or psychological incapacity. Not on the basis of even the most extreme crimes -- which there is no evidence were committed -- but even if they were, that would not be basis for invoking the 25th Amendment. And I challenge any left-wing person to get on television and to defend the use of the 25th Amendment. I challenge any of my colleagues who are in the "Get Trump At Any Cost" camp to come on television and justify the use of the 25 Amendment other than for physical or psychiatric incapacity.

Carlson: I bet they're doing that right now. This is an attack on our system, I would say, not just the President. Alan Dershowitz, thank you very much.

Dershowitz: It is an attack on our system. It's an attack on the constitution. Thank you.

Carlson: Scary.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Q9OlUaeiQjQ?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Bluestem , , February 15, 2019 at 2:42 pm
How many millions of dollars did Bill and Hill receive from Russians? How much of America's uranium deposits did Hillary sell to Russians during her time in the Obama administration? The New York Times informs us:

" . . . the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton's wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One's chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

"And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

"At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company's assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show."

(end of NY Times excerpt. Full story: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html )

I wonder how much howling and how many allegations of "collusion" with Russia we'd be hearing if the name Clinton were removed from the NY Times article and the name Trump were inserted?

curri , , February 15, 2019 at 3:08 pm

Can't imagine why career law enforcement officials were concerned with a guy they knew to be a criminal taking over the office of the presidency.

Oh, they just knew . Maybe they just knew he wasn't an obvious reliable puppet like W and Obama.

Sid Finster , , February 15, 2019 at 3:16 pm
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/11/27/leaked-transcript-proves-russiagaters-have-been-right-all-along/

About Those Russians.

Stephen J. , , February 15, 2019 at 4:01 pm
The article states: " top officials of the country's premier law enforcement entity sat around and pondered how to bring down a sitting president they didn't like."
-- -- -- --
Which makes one wonder if "The rule of law" is becoming the rule of outlaws? When the non-elected in the justice profession appear to have their own agenda.
WorkingClass , , February 15, 2019 at 4:10 pm
Y'all Never Trump Republicans have NO future in American electoral politics.
Gerard , , February 15, 2019 at 4:22 pm
Trump is an idiot, but his enemies in the lib-Dem-media Establishment are far worse: corrupt, deceitful, arrogant, and lawless. Exhibit A is Andrew McCabe.

That's why I'll vote for the Idiot-in-Chief (again) in 2020. Because the alternative makes me vomit.

polistra , , February 15, 2019 at 4:43 pm
FBI has been destroying and paralyzing unwanted presidents forever. Lady Edgar did it far more effectively than her modern successors.
aristotle , , February 15, 2019 at 5:19 pm
"The pages of this publication drift further and further into utter insanity and despicable defense of Trump. Stand up for the values of the Constitution, or something, but not for this man who is no more than a self-enriching demagogue with no understanding of the reactionary politics he uses to delude the rubes and attract asinine threadbare pieces like this one."

Actually no. Consider me the inverse of Peter. I didn't vote for Trump due to the character weaknesses Peter describes. However, what I see is a seriously flawed man who has served the useful purpose of revealing an echo chamber of flawed and self-serving biases shared by the media and political establishment of this country. I see CNN, the NY Times, the Washington Post, and even some key leaders of our security services in a completely different light than I did two years ago. I am thankful for the clarity. I consider Merry's article to be a contribution in that direction.

Kouros , , February 15, 2019 at 5:38 pm
Cannot agree more with Fran Macadam.

On that note an interesting article by one of Mr. Putin's ideologues about Putinism and why Putinism might have more viability than the smoke and mirror exercise provided in established democracies:
https://russia-insider.com/en/vladislav-surkovs-hugely-important-new-article-about-what-putinism-full-translation/ri26259

The article admits that these bureaucracies are at times a nuisance and need to be dealt with appropriately...

Arthur Sido , , February 15, 2019 at 5:38 pm
"Peter" sez: "Can't imagine why career law enforcement officials were concerned with a guy they knew to be a criminal taking over the office of the presidency."

Weird but no one has shown any actual criminal behavior by said President. Two years later still no charges. But Peter and these "career law enforcement officials" KNEW he was a criminal. Then Peter appeals to the Constitution, apparently oblivious to the fact that the Constitution doesn't make any provisions for plotting to remove the lawfully elected President because you don't like just because you "know" he is a "criminal", in spite of any actual evidence.

JeffK , , February 15, 2019 at 5:53 pm
"After his election, they (the deep state) determined to undermine his political standing, and particularly his proposed policy toward Russia, through a relentless and expansive investigation characterized by initial misrepresentations, selective media leaks, brutal law enforcement tactics, and a barrage of innuendo. This is the narrative of most Trump supporters, conservative commentators, Fox News, and The Wall Street Journal editorial page, notably columnist Kimberley Strassel."

The trouble with that is it completely ignores the ton of evidence pointing to really nefarious stuff.

Lots of times, when there's smoke, there's fire. And when the smoke is overwhelming there probably is a fire. A big one.

Sid , , February 15, 2019 at 9:19 pm
Trump has been going after the Russians since his inauguration. Therefore, those trying to remove him from office are likely the actual Russian agents. Of course they would need smoke and mirrors to hide that fact and deflect attention from themselves. It just so happens that Russian spies are trained by the FSB to accuse others of being a spy, for just this purpose. I'm looking at you, John O. (Oleg?) Brennan
Sheila , , February 15, 2019 at 11:03 pm
No matter who the President is, there is some group of people in Washington is ALWAYS trying to bring him down. Who those people are, and how large and powerful the group is, depends on a variety of factors. But a competent president manages to enact his agenda while staying one step ahead of his intriguers. Obama and GWB accomplished both, more or less because they were intelligent men of good character (though Obama was much smarter and better man than W)

While Bill Clinton's character was too low to avoid impeachment he was a smart and able administrator. Trump has both low character and low intellect so it is not surprising A. that many people want to bring him down and B. that they have been pretty effective.

Politics may be a blood sport in Washington but that's not the same as a "deep state". And Trump can't compete and win with anyone in Washington who doesn't grovel before him like the supine Senate Republicans. And that is no one's fault but his.

You wanting Trump to be a Russian agent does not make him one. It never will. Get over it. , , February 16, 2019 at 12:08 am
"If it turns out that Trump IS a Russian asset, will you apologize, Robert Merry? Because he certainly acts like one. And, as REAL Republicans used to say, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, maybe it's a duck."

@One Guy Yeah, because sending deadly aid to Ukraine is so pro-Russian. What an idiot you are!

VikingLS , , February 16, 2019 at 12:10 am
"Can't imagine why career law enforcement officials were concerned with a guy they knew to be a criminal taking over the office of the presidency. Shame on them!"

They also "knew" Martin Luther King Jr. was a Soviet agent.

Just Curiosity , , February 16, 2019 at 12:38 am
This article must have hit a nerve. Media Matters/Soros have sent out their "goons".

{BTW, isn't it amazing that Media Matters/Soros never have to worry about having any advertisers boycotted.}

{smirk}

JK , , February 16, 2019 at 3:14 am
The issue with the 25th amendment, is that the President's character flaws or mental deficiency were known and very visible before the election. Is it constitutionally proper for Congress to suspend a President for a preexisting condition that was known to and unhidden from voters? If Congress did that, it means Congress has a veto over who the public is allowed to vote in as President.
Frank LaSaracina , , February 16, 2019 at 10:19 am
Clear and convincing evidence of a silent coup by rogue IC / law enforcement community, the genesis of which was the Obama admin. Prima facie
Oleg Gark , , February 16, 2019 at 10:40 am
Forget the Covington students, Andrew McCabe and his lady co-workers have some pretty punchable faces. (Ok, I'm enough of a sexist to not punch a lady. I'd use eye-rolling and mocking gestures instead.)
tjoe , , February 16, 2019 at 11:18 am
These are the peeps that did 9.11 and took down 3 towers with 2 planes. or maybe you believe guys with box-cutters did it.
Contra1789 , , February 16, 2019 at 12:07 pm
The problem is not the existence of the deep state. It's inevitable that there will be unelected officials who will continue to shape policy regardless of who is elected President. The problem is that the deep state is blatantly working to undermine its elected leadership. If you can't in good conscience work with your President, the honorable thing to do is resign as some undoubtedly have. It's not an excuse for insubordination.

[Feb 18, 2019] Today's Rift with Europe Echoes the Iraq War Debate

Feb 18, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Gino Santa Maria / Shutterstock.com Pence repeated his tone-deaf demands to our allies to quit the nuclear deal at the Munich Security Conference over the weekend. The response from the Europeans was even frostier than it had been in Warsaw:

European officials brushed off U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's call this week for the bloc to ratchet up pressure on Iran, saying they will continue defending the 2015 nuclear deal and stay engaged with Iran's government.

World leaders gathered at the annual Munich Security Conference on Friday to debate a range of issues from the Middle East, to trade, Europe's future and cyberwarfare. Speaking at the conference on Saturday, Mr. Pence, who is on a diplomatic trip to Europe, said the European Union should follow the U.S. in leaving the Iran nuclear deal.

U.S.-European relations are lower than they have been at any time since the the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Just as the Bush administration berated and insulted longtime allies for refusing to fall in line behind their destructive and reckless war, the Trump administration is berating and insulting some of our closest allies over their refusal to capitulate to unreasonable American demands on Iran and the nuclear deal. Many of the elements of these two rifts are similar : an irrational American fixation on a wildly exaggerated or non-existent threat in the Middle East, an arrogant assumption that our allies are obliged to do whatever our government tells them to do, and open expressions of contempt for the allies that disagree with the course being set by the irresponsible U.S. administration. In both cases, some of our closest allies unsuccessfully try to stop the administration from making terrible, costly errors, and they are rewarded for their efforts with condemnation and threats.

The most worrying similarity between the 2002-03 breach with our European allies and today is the willingness of administration officials to promote obvious lies in the service of their destructive policy. Like other members of the administration, Pence has been pushing the dishonest claim that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. He said this in his Warsaw speech :

But beyond its hateful rhetoric, the Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust and it seeks the means to achieve it. Iran seeks to recreate the ancient Persian Empire under the modern dictatorship of the ayatollahs.

Iran's government neither advocates for this, nor does it "seek the means to achieve it." Any work that Iran did on nuclear weapons research took place more than fifteen years ago, and it has not resumed since then. Iran's nuclear program is peaceful, and the IAEA has confirmed Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal more than a dozen times in a row. The talking points of Iran hawks remain unchanged from the mid-2000s, but in the meantime the rest of the world has moved on.

If Pence really believed what he was saying, he wouldn't be urging our allies to tear up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The nuclear deal has ensured that Iran cannot develop and build nuclear weapons, and anyone genuinely worried about Iran's acquisition of such weapons would not try to destroy the agreement that makes that outcome practically impossible. The only reason to promote the lie that Iran seeks nuclear weapons is to create a pretext for war. Iran hawks hate the nuclear deal so passionately because it deprives them of that pretext. That is why they are determined to do whatever they can to kill the deal even if that means badly damaging relations with our most important treaty allies.


Mark B. February 17, 2019 at 11:49 am

Europe will not bend in this one. Too much at stake, inside the EU (elections) as well as outside the EU (geoplitics, Brexit).

As mr. Larison so often points out, the Iran obsession is the weirdest irrational thing in US foreign policy. Shooting oneself in the foot time after time.

A lot of special interests by special people underneath that I presume.

georgina davenport , says: February 17, 2019 at 12:59 pm
Between the progressives and the conservatives, the conservatives are often the ones talking about religion, God and morality, and accuse the Left to be Godless and immoral. Yet it does not seem to vex them their side had started the war in Iraq with false pretense, which led to disastrous economic, geopolitical, and human costs. Now, as Larison observed, they are poised to repeat it.

What averagely decent human beings can inflict such sufferings on others with such impunity and without conscientious qualms?

Wisham OB , says: February 17, 2019 at 1:33 pm
Pence lacks basic loyalty and good judgment. He's abandoning and betraying our oldest allies, and he isn't even doing it for a compelling reason of state.

Indeed, after watching the degrading spectacle of 2016 and 2018 campaign donations, it's hard not to suspect that Pence is doing it to keep Israel money flowing to GOP candidates, possibly for a future presidential run of his own. That he's putting America and American lives at risk for the Israel money.

Joe F , says: February 17, 2019 at 3:31 pm
Would it not be in American interest to demonstrate compliance with the existing agreement if it sought further agreement on ballistic missiles and involvement with their neighbors internal affairs? It not only precludes diplomacy for the nuclear issue, but any and all other conflicts of interest
Clyde Schechter , says: February 17, 2019 at 4:54 pm
Yes, it is increasingly clear that our recent actions with respect to Iran are for the purpose of preparing for, and conjuring a pretext for, war.

Mr. Larison, I am sure your efforts are a major contributor to the recent Congressional resolution regarding the Yemen war. You were a lone voice crying in the wilderness for years. Please keep up on this Iranian issue as well. Many, many lives are at stake. You are an unsung hero.

Ft. Hall , says: February 17, 2019 at 6:37 pm
"[Pence] is abandoning and betraying our oldest allies, and he isn't even doing it for a compelling reason of state. "

That's what blows my mind. There seems to be no reason for what Pence is doing, except perhaps to please Binyamin Netanyahu or Muhammed bin Salman. And does Pence really expect Europe to risk its basic security by following the lead of corrupt American politicians bobbing for Israel dollars?

[Feb 17, 2019] Trump is Russian asset memo is really neocon propaganda overkill

Highly recommended!
The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man.
In neoliberal MSM there is positive feedback loop for "Trump is a Russian agent" stories. So the meme feeds on itself.
Notable quotes:
"... And yet the trending, most high-profile stories about Trump today all involve painting him as a Putin puppet who is working to destroy America by taking a weak stance against an alarming geopolitical threat. This has had the effect of manufacturing demand for even more dangerous escalations against a nuclear superpower that just so happens to be a longtime target of U.S. intelligence agencies. ..."
"... the mass media is not in the business of reporting facts, it's in the business of selling narratives. Even if those narratives are so shrill and stress-inducing that they imperil the health of their audience. ..."
"... Trump is clearly not a Russian asset, he's a facilitator of America's permanent unelected government just like his predecessors, and indeed as far as actual policies and administration behavior goes he's not that much different from Barack Obama and George W Bush. Hell, for all his demagogic anti-immigrant speech Trump hasn't even caught up to Obama's peak ICE deportation years ..."
"... Used to be that the U.S. mass media only killed people indirectly, by facilitating establishment war agendas in repeating government agency propaganda as objective fact and promulgating narratives that manufacture support for a status quo which won't even give Americans health insurance or safe drinking water ..."
"... Now they're skipping the middle man and killing them directly by psychologically brutalizing them so aggressively that it ruins their health, all to ensure that Democrats support war and adore the U.S. intelligence community . ..."
"... The social engineers responsible for controlling the populace of the greatest military power on the planet are watching France closely, and understand deeply what is at stake should they fail to control the narrative and herd ordinary Americans into supporting U.S. government institutions. ..."
"... The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man. ..."
Jan 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The always excellent Moon of Alabama blog has just published a sarcasm-laden piece documenting the many, many aggressive maneuvers that this administration has made against the interests of Russia, from pushing for more NATO funding to undermining Russia's natural gas interests to bombing Syria to sanctioning Russian oligarchs to dangerous military posturing.

<picture deleted>

And yet the trending, most high-profile stories about Trump today all involve painting him as a Putin puppet who is working to destroy America by taking a weak stance against an alarming geopolitical threat. This has had the effect of manufacturing demand for even more dangerous escalations against a nuclear superpower that just so happens to be a longtime target of U.S. intelligence agencies.

If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, there would be a lot less "Putin's puppet" talk and a lot more "Hey, maybe we should avoid senseless escalations which could end all life on earth" talk among news media consumers. But there isn't, because the mass media is not in the business of reporting facts, it's in the business of selling narratives. Even if those narratives are so shrill and stress-inducing that they imperil the health of their audience.

Like His Predecessors

Trump is clearly not a Russian asset, he's a facilitator of America's permanent unelected government just like his predecessors, and indeed as far as actual policies and administration behavior goes he's not that much different from Barack Obama and George W Bush. Hell, for all his demagogic anti-immigrant speech Trump hasn't even caught up to Obama's peak ICE deportation years.

If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, people would be no more worried about this administration than they were about the previous ones, because when it comes to his administration's actual behavior, he's just as reliable an upholder of the establishment-friendly status quo as his predecessors.

Used to be that the U.S. mass media only killed people indirectly, by facilitating establishment war agendas in repeating government agency propaganda as objective fact and promulgating narratives that manufacture support for a status quo which won't even give Americans health insurance or safe drinking water.

Now they're skipping the middle man and killing them directly by psychologically brutalizing them so aggressively that it ruins their health, all to ensure that Democrats support war and adore the U.S. intelligence community .

They do this for a reason, of course. The Yellow Vests protests in France have continued unabated for their ninth consecutive week , a decentralized populist uprising resulting from ordinary French citizens losing trust in their institutions and the official narratives which uphold them.

The social engineers responsible for controlling the populace of the greatest military power on the planet are watching France closely, and understand deeply what is at stake should they fail to control the narrative and herd ordinary Americans into supporting U.S. government institutions. Right now they've got Republicans cheering on the White House and Democrats cheering on the U.S. intelligence community, but that could all change should something happen which causes them to lose control over the thoughts that Americans think about their rulers.

Propaganda is the single most-overlooked and under-appreciated aspect of human society. The ability of those in power to manipulate the ways ordinary people think, act and vote has allowed for an inverted totalitarianism which turns the citizenry into their own prison wardens, allowing those with real power to continue doing as they please unhindered by the interests of the common man.

The only thing that will lead to real change is the people losing trust in corrupt institutions and rising like lions against them. That gets increasingly likely as those institutions lose control of the narrative, and with trust in the mass media at an all-time low, populist uprisings restoring power to the people in France, and media corporations acting increasingly weird and insecure , that looks more and more likely by the day.

[Feb 17, 2019] Kremlin Spokesman Says U.S. Sanctions Bill Borders on Racketeering

Feb 17, 2019 | larouchepub.com

Feb. 14, 2019 (EIRNS) -- Responding to the U.S. Senators' efforts to impose new sanctions on Russia by proposing a bill on Feb. 13 called the "Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA)" of 2019, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said behind such proposals

"there is an absolutely concrete, pragmatic and aggressive trading approach, having nothing to do with international trade rules.... This policy sometimes borders on racketeering. I mean various provisions of the draft law aimed at disrupting various energy projects of Russian companies, undermining the activities of Russian banks with state participation,"

Peskov said, reported TASS.

The proposed legislation, an updated version of an earlier bill that did not muster enough support, seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Russia "in response to Russia's interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait," said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who proposed the bill with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), among other members of the Foreign Relations Committee.

[Feb 17, 2019] Real power answers to nobody. The war machine has the power and will do whatever it wants wherever it pleases. Good luck changing that.

That why war is called racket, And that's why dominance of military-industrial complex turns any country in neo-fascist state. Still people can fight this cancer, even if changes are not that great.
Notable quotes:
"... It is easy for them to make the recommendation to head into to war for two very simple reasons. The first is that it will not require any personal sacrifice. The other reason is that it will not require any sacrifice of those closest to them. ..."
Feb 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

thomas r oconnor February 15, 2019 at 5:22 pm

Real power answers to nobody. The war machine has the power and will do whatever it wants wherever it pleases. Good luck changing that.
B , says: February 15, 2019 at 6:22 pm
It is easy for them to make the recommendation to head into to war for two very simple reasons. The first is that it will not require any personal sacrifice. The other reason is that it will not require any sacrifice of those closest to them.

And I say this as a Veteran that also thought Iraq was a good idea back in 2001. The difference is that I then went there to serve. As a result I have learned hard fought lessons. Tucker is spot on. Maybe the follow up article can be a piece that discusses why we need more "combat" Veterans up in the beltway. And it is good that more veterans are now serving in Congress but not all are combat veterans.

[Feb 17, 2019] The goal of any war is the redistribution of taxpayer money into the bank accounts of MIC shareholders and executives

Highly recommended!
The USA state of continuous war has been a bipartisan phenomenon starting with Truman in Korea and proceeding with Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and now Syria. It doesn't take a genius to realize that these limited, never ending wars are expensive was to enrich MIC and Wall Street banksters
Notable quotes:
"... Yes the neocons have a poor track record but they've succeeded at turning our republic into an empire. The mainstream media and elites of practically all western nations are unanimously pro-war. Neither political party has defined a comprehensive platform to rebuild our republic. ..."
Feb 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

KC February 15, 2019 at 11:16 pm

The one thing your accurate analysis leaves out is that the goal of US wars is never what the media spouts for its Wall Street masters. The goal of any war is the redistribution of taxpayer money into the bank accounts of MIC shareholders and executives, create more enemies to be fought in future wars, and to provide a rationalization for the continued primacy of the military class in US politics and culture.

Occasionally a country may be sitting on a bunch of oil, and also be threatening to move away from the petrodollar or talking about allowing an "adversary" to build a pipeline across their land.

Otherwise war is a racket unto itself. "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. "
― George Orwell

Also we've always been at war with Oceania .or whatever that quote said.

Barry F Keane , says: February 15, 2019 at 7:11 pm
Yes the neocons have a poor track record but they've succeeded at turning our republic into an empire. The mainstream media and elites of practically all western nations are unanimously pro-war. Neither political party has defined a comprehensive platform to rebuild our republic.

Even you, Tucker Carlson, mock the efforts of Ilhan Omar for criticizing AIPAC and Elliott Abrams.

I don't personally care for many of her opinions but that's not what matters: if we elect another neocon government we won't last another generation. Like the lady asked Ben Franklin "What kind of government have you bequeathed us?", and Franklin answered "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."

[Feb 17, 2019] Trump administration action in Iran, Korea, Venezuela are aggressive and counter-productive to long term peace

Feb 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Collin, February 15, 2019 at 9:55 am

...[Trump] administration is still filled with Hawks ...

1) The administration action in Iran is aggressive and counter-productive to long term peace. The nuclear deal was an effective way of ensuring Iran controlling behavior for 15 years as the other parties, Europe and China, wanted to trade with Iran. (Additionally it makes our nation depend more on the Saudia relationship in which Washington should be slowly moving away from.)

2) Like it or not, Venezuela is another mission creep for the Trump Administration. Recommend the administration stay away from peace keeping troops and suggest this is China's problem. (Venezuela in debt to their eyeballs with China.)

3) Applaud the administration with peace talks with NK but warn them not to overstate their accomplishments. It is ridiculous that the administration signed big nuclear deals with NK that don't exist.

[Feb 16, 2019] Russia Isn t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too

Notable quotes:
"... The precedent was established in Italy with assistance to non-Communist candidates from the late 1940s to the 1960s. "We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their expenses," said F. Mark Wyatt, a former C.I.A. officer, in a 1996 interview . ..."
"... A self-congratulatory declassified report on the C.I.A.'s work in Chile's 1964 election boasts of the "hard work" the agency did supplying "large sums" to its favored candidate and portraying him as a "wise, sincere and high-minded statesman" while painting his leftist opponent as a "calculating schemer." Advertisement ..."
"... C.I.A. officials told Mr. Johnson in the late 1980s that "insertions" of information into foreign news media, mostly accurate but sometimes false, were running at 70 to 80 a day. In the 1990 election in Nicaragua, the C.I.A. planted stories about corruption in the leftist Sandinista government, Mr. Levin said. The opposition won. ..."
"... Over time, more American influence operations have been mounted not secretly by the C.I.A. but openly by the State Department and its affiliates. For the 2000 election in Serbia, the United States funded a successful effort to defeat Slobodan Milosevic, the nationalist leader, providing political consultants and millions of stickers with the opposition's clenched-fist symbol and "He's finished" in Serbian, printed on 80 tons of adhesive paper and delivered by a Washington contractor. ..."
"... Similar efforts were undertaken in elections in wartime Iraq and Afghanistan, not always with success. After Hamid Karzai was re-elected president of Afghanistan in 2009, he complained to Robert Gates, then the secretary of defense, about the United States' blatant attempt to defeat him, which Mr. Gates calls in his memoir "our clumsy and failed putsch." ..."
"... At least once the hand of the United States reached boldly into a Russian election. American fears that Boris Yeltsin would be defeated for re-election as president in 1996 by an old-fashioned Communist led to an overt and covert effort to help him, urged on by President Bill Clinton. It included an American push for a $10 billion International Monetary Fund loan to Russia four months before the voting and a team of American political consultants (though some Russians scoffed when they took credit for the Yeltsin win). ..."
"... In 2016, the endowment gave 108 grants totaling $6.8 million to organizations in Russia for such purposes as "engaging activists" and "fostering civic engagement." The endowment no longer names Russian recipients, who, under Russian laws cracking down on foreign funding, can face harassment or arrest. ..."
"... What the C.I.A. may have done in recent years to steer foreign elections is still secret and may not be known for decades. It may be modest by comparison with the agency's Cold War manipulation. But some old-timers aren't so sure. ..."
"... "I assume they're doing a lot of the old stuff, because, you know, it never changes," said William J. Daugherty, who worked for the C.I.A. from 1979 to 1996 and at one time had the job of reviewing covert operations. "The technology may change, but the objectives don't." ..."
Feb 18, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

Bags of cash delivered to a Rome hotel for favored Italian candidates. Scandalous stories leaked to foreign newspapers to swing an election in Nicaragua. Millions of pamphlets, posters and stickers printed to defeat an incumbent in Serbia.

The long arm of Vladimir Putin? No, just a small sample of the United States' history of intervention in foreign elections.

On Tuesday, American intelligence chiefs warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia appears to be preparing to repeat in the 2018 midterm elections the same full-on chicanery it unleashed in 2016: hacking, leaking, social media manipulation and possibly more. Then on Friday, Robert Mueller, the special counsel, announced the indictments of 13 Russians and three companies, run by a businessman with close Kremlin ties, laying out in astonishing detail a three-year scheme to use social media to attack Hillary Clinton, boost Donald Trump and sow discord.

Most Americans are understandably shocked by what they view as an unprecedented attack on our political system. But intelligence veterans, and scholars who have studied covert operations, have a different, and quite revealing, view.

"If you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all," said Steven L. Hall, who retired in 2015 after 30 years at the C.I.A., where he was the chief of Russian operations. The United States "absolutely" has carried out such election influence operations historically, he said, "and I hope we keep doing it."

Loch K. Johnson, the dean of American intelligence scholars , who began his career in the 1970s investigating the C.I.A. as a staff member of the Senate's Church Committee, says Russia's 2016 operation was simply the cyber-age version of standard United States practice for decades, whenever American officials were worried about a foreign vote.

"We've been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947," said Mr. Johnson, now at the University of Georgia. "We've used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners -- you name it. We've planted false information in foreign newspapers. We've used what the British call 'King George's cavalry': suitcases of cash."

The United States' departure from democratic ideals sometimes went much further. The C.I.A. helped overthrow elected leaders in Iran and Guatemala in the 1950s and backed violent coups in several other countries in the 1960s. It plotted assassinations and supported brutal anti-Communist governments in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

But in recent decades, both Mr. Hall and Mr. Johnson argued, Russian and American interferences in elections have not been morally equivalent. American interventions have generally been aimed at helping non-authoritarian candidates challenge dictators or otherwise promoting democracy. Russia has more often intervened to disrupt democracy or promote authoritarian rule, they said.

Equating the two, Mr. Hall says, "is like saying cops and bad guys are the same because they both have guns -- the motivation matters."

This broader history of election meddling has largely been missing from the flood of reporting on the Russian intervention and the investigation of whether the Trump campaign was involved. It is a reminder that the Russian campaign in 2016 was fundamentally old-school espionage, even if it exploited new technologies. And it illuminates the larger currents of history that drove American electoral interventions during the Cold War and motivate Russia's actions today.

A Carnegie Mellon scholar, Dov H. Levin , has scoured the historical record for both overt and covert election influence operations. He found 81 by the United States and 36 by the Soviet Union or Russia between 1946 and 2000, though the Russian count is undoubtedly incomplete.

"I'm not in any way justifying what the Russians did in 2016," Mr. Levin said. "It was completely wrong of Vladimir Putin to intervene in this way. That said, the methods they used in this election were the digital version of methods used both by the United States and Russia for decades: breaking into party headquarters, recruiting secretaries, placing informants in a party, giving information or disinformation to newspapers."

His findings underscore how routine election meddling by the United States -- sometimes covert and sometimes quite open -- has been.

The precedent was established in Italy with assistance to non-Communist candidates from the late 1940s to the 1960s. "We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their expenses," said F. Mark Wyatt, a former C.I.A. officer, in a 1996 interview .

Covert propaganda has also been a mainstay. Richard M. Bissell Jr., who ran the agency's operations in the late 1950s and early 1960s, wrote casually in his autobiography of "exercising control over a newspaper or broadcasting station, or of securing the desired outcome in an election."

A self-congratulatory declassified report on the C.I.A.'s work in Chile's 1964 election boasts of the "hard work" the agency did supplying "large sums" to its favored candidate and portraying him as a "wise, sincere and high-minded statesman" while painting his leftist opponent as a "calculating schemer."

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C.I.A. officials told Mr. Johnson in the late 1980s that "insertions" of information into foreign news media, mostly accurate but sometimes false, were running at 70 to 80 a day. In the 1990 election in Nicaragua, the C.I.A. planted stories about corruption in the leftist Sandinista government, Mr. Levin said. The opposition won.

Over time, more American influence operations have been mounted not secretly by the C.I.A. but openly by the State Department and its affiliates. For the 2000 election in Serbia, the United States funded a successful effort to defeat Slobodan Milosevic, the nationalist leader, providing political consultants and millions of stickers with the opposition's clenched-fist symbol and "He's finished" in Serbian, printed on 80 tons of adhesive paper and delivered by a Washington contractor.

Vince Houghton, who served in the military in the Balkans at the time and worked closely with the intelligence agencies, said he saw American efforts everywhere. "We made it very clear that we had no intention of letting Milosevic stay in power," said Mr. Houghton, now the historian at the International Spy Museum.

Similar efforts were undertaken in elections in wartime Iraq and Afghanistan, not always with success. After Hamid Karzai was re-elected president of Afghanistan in 2009, he complained to Robert Gates, then the secretary of defense, about the United States' blatant attempt to defeat him, which Mr. Gates calls in his memoir "our clumsy and failed putsch."

At least once the hand of the United States reached boldly into a Russian election. American fears that Boris Yeltsin would be defeated for re-election as president in 1996 by an old-fashioned Communist led to an overt and covert effort to help him, urged on by President Bill Clinton. It included an American push for a $10 billion International Monetary Fund loan to Russia four months before the voting and a team of American political consultants (though some Russians scoffed when they took credit for the Yeltsin win).

That heavy-handed intervention made some Americans uneasy. Thomas Carothers, a scholar at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace, recalls arguing with a State Department official who told him at the time, "Yeltsin is democracy in Russia," to which Mr. Carothers said he replied, "That's not what democracy means."

But what does democracy mean? Can it include secretly undermining an authoritarian ruler or helping challengers who embrace democratic values? How about financing civic organizations?

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In recent decades, the most visible American presence in foreign politics has been taxpayer-funded groups like the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which do not support candidates but teach basic campaign skills, build democratic institutions and train election monitors.

Most Americans view such efforts as benign -- indeed, charitable. But Mr. Putin sees them as hostile. The National Endowment for Democracy gave a $23,000 grant in 2006 to an organization that employed Aleksei Navalny, who years later became Mr. Putin's main political nemesis, a fact the government has used to attack both Mr. Navalny and the endowment.

In 2016, the endowment gave 108 grants totaling $6.8 million to organizations in Russia for such purposes as "engaging activists" and "fostering civic engagement." The endowment no longer names Russian recipients, who, under Russian laws cracking down on foreign funding, can face harassment or arrest.

It is easy to understand why Mr. Putin sees such American cash as a threat to his rule, which tolerates no real opposition. But American veterans of democracy promotion find abhorrent Mr. Putin's insinuations that their work is equivalent to what the Russian government is accused of doing in the United States today.

"It's not just apples and oranges," said Kenneth Wollack, president of the National Democratic Institute. "It's comparing someone who delivers lifesaving medicine to someone who brings deadly poison."

What the C.I.A. may have done in recent years to steer foreign elections is still secret and may not be known for decades. It may be modest by comparison with the agency's Cold War manipulation. But some old-timers aren't so sure.

"I assume they're doing a lot of the old stuff, because, you know, it never changes," said William J. Daugherty, who worked for the C.I.A. from 1979 to 1996 and at one time had the job of reviewing covert operations. "The technology may change, but the objectives don't."

Correction : Feb. 18, 2018

An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly that Aleksei Navalny, a political opponent of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, had received grants from the National Endowment for Democracy. In fact, an organization employing him received one $23,000 grant from the endowment in 2006.

Scott Shane is a national security reporter for The Times and a former Moscow correspondent.

A version of this article appears in print on Feb. 18, 2018 , on Page SR 4 of the New York edition with the headline: America Meddles in Elections, Too.

[Feb 16, 2019] Yea, John McCain was a truly historic person. So far, he was the only person in history who managed to totally disable an American aircraft carrier.

Feb 16, 2019 | www.unz.com

AnonFromTN , says: February 16, 2019 at 6:43 pm GMT

@Wally Yea, John McCain was a truly historic person. So far, he was the only person in history who managed to totally disable an American aircraft carrier. Of course, he was not found guilty of anything: after all, having Admirals for your dad and granddad counts for something in squeaky-clean military.

[Feb 16, 2019] Libya was a war crime.

Max Boot along with other neocons should be in jail.
Feb 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Stephen J. , February 15, 2019 a t 1:43 pm

The article states: " but by 2011 Boot had another war in mind. 'Qaddafi Must Go,' Boot declared in The Weekly Standard. In Boot's telling, the Libyan dictator had become a threat to the American homeland." -- -- - There is reported evidence that Libya was a war crime. And the perpetrators are Free. See info below:

"They Speak "

"The destruction of Libya by NATO at the behest of the UK, the US and France was a crime, one dripping in the cant and hypocrisy of Western ideologues " John Wight, November 27, 2017. https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/27/libya-chose-freedom-now-it-has-slavery/

They speak of "The Rule of Law" while breaking the law themselves They are the dangerous hypocrites that bombed Libya, and created hell Thousands upon thousands are dead in this unfortunate country Many would still be alive, if our "leaders" had not been down and dirty

Libya is reportedly a war crime and the war criminals are free Some of them are seen posturing on the world stage and others are on T.V. Others have written books and others are retired from public office And another exclaimed: "We came, we saw, he died" as murder was their accomplice

They even teamed up with terrorists to commit their bloody crimes And this went unreported in the "media": was this by design? There is a sickness and perversion loose in our society today When war crimes can be committed and the "law" has nothing to say

Another "leader" had a fly past to celebrate the bombing victory in this illegal war Now Libya is in chaos, while bloody terrorists roam secure And the NATO gang that caused all this horror and devastation Are continuing their bloody bombings in other unfortunate nations

The question must be asked: "Are some past and present leaders above the law? Can they get away with bombing and killing, are they men of straw? Whatever happened to law and order in the so- called "democracies"? When those in power can get away with criminality: Is that not hypocrisy?

There is no doubt that Libya was better off, before the "liberators" arrived Now many of its unfortunate people are now struggling to exist and survive The future of this war torn country now looks very sad and bleak If only our "leaders" had left it alone; but instead hypocrisy: They Speak

"The cause of the catastrophe in Libya in Libya was the seven month US-NATO blitzkrieg from March to October 2011 in which thousands of bombs and rockets rained down on that unfortunate land which was governed by President Muammar Ghaddafi whom the West was determined to overthrow by assisting a rebel movement." Brian Cloughley, 12.02.2019 https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/02/12/in-libya-we-came-saw-he-died-will-there-repeat-in-venezuela.html

[More info on all of this at link below] http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2019/02/they-speak.html

[Feb 15, 2019] Ilhan Omar and Elliott Abrams, Venezuela envoy, clash over U.S. meddling in Latin America

Here is YouTube video: 'It Was An Attack!' Omar And Abrams Share Heated Exchange NBC News - YouTube
Notable quotes:
"... "Whether under your watch a genocide will take place and you will look the other way because American interests were being upheld is a fair question because the American people want to know that anytime we engage in a country that we think about what our actions could be and how we believe our values are being furthered," Omar said. ..."
"... After again downplaying her question, Abrams said "the entire thrust of American policy in Venezuela is to support the Venezuelan people's effort to restore democracy to their country." ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | www.cbsnews.com

As assistant secretary of state during the Reagan administration, Abrams was involved in a secret arms deal in which the U.S. sought to trade missiles and other weapons to Iran and use the funds to support right-wing paramilitaries known as the "contras," who were seeking to topple a leftist government in Nicaragua. In a 1991 plea agreement with an independent commission tasked with probing the scandal -- which became known as the Iran-Contra affair -- Abrams admitted to lying to members of Congress about the clandestine deal. In 1992, he and other Reagan administration officials embroiled in the scandal were pardoned by former President George H. W. Bush.

Omar also pressed Abrams about his role in shaping an interventionist American foreign policy in other Latin American countries during his first stints at the State Department. During the Cold War, the U.S. supported various violent coups in Latin America, including some against democratically-elected governments.

The freshman Democrat asked Abrams about a remark he made in 1993, when he called the Reagan administration's record in El Salvador a "fabulous achievement." Between 1979 and 1992, the U.S. backed a right-wing military government in El Salvador during a civil war against leftist guerrillas that resulted in the deaths of more than 75,000 people, according to the Center for Justice and Accountability , an international human rights group.

Omar specifically cited the massacre of hundreds of civilians by the American-trained El Salvadoran army at the El Mazote village in 1981.

"Yes or no, do you think that massacre was a 'fabulous achievement' that happened under our watch," she asked.

"That is a ridiculous question," Abrams responded, again accusing Omar of crafting a "personal attack."

Omar continued her questioning, asking Abrams if he would be in favor of the U.S. supporting armed groups in Venezuela that participate in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if he believed it would serve America's interests. Abrams refused to answer the specific question, saying it was not a "real" question.

"Whether under your watch a genocide will take place and you will look the other way because American interests were being upheld is a fair question because the American people want to know that anytime we engage in a country that we think about what our actions could be and how we believe our values are being furthered," Omar said.

Along with recognizing the main opposition leader in Venezuela as the country's interim president and issuing sweeping sanctions against the largest state-owned oil company, the Trump administration has pledged more than $20 million in humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people.

But Maduro and other leftist leaders in the region, including in Bolivia and Cuba, have accused the American government of trying to stage a coup in Venezuela. Standing alongside diplomats from Russia, China, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Nicaragua and Iran, Venezuela's foreign minister Jorge Arreaza told CBS News' Pamela Falk Thursday that Maduro's government has formed a coalition to oppose interference in his country's affairs.

After again downplaying her question, Abrams said "the entire thrust of American policy in Venezuela is to support the Venezuelan people's effort to restore democracy to their country."

In her final question, Omar asked Abrams whether American foreign policy prioritized upholding human rights and protecting people against genocide.

"That is always the position of the United States," he replied.

[Feb 15, 2019] MSNBC "Terrified Of Anti-War Voices" Says Fired Anti-War Host Phil Donahue - YouTube

Notable quotes:
"... They divide us with race, sex, and religion. If we came together all the working class people, from every race, you'd see the oligarchs true face. They'd innact martial law in a heartbeat, and run to their underground base in the Ozarks. That's the painful truth. ..."
"... That's why Richard Nixon replaced the draft with a lottery that has evolved into a volunteer armed forces. We were nearly the verge of another civil war in this country. ..."
"... So Jimmy, once again, hit it out of the ballpark with this podcast on why the war hawks fear Tulsi ..."
"... She really scares the war hawks and just as importantly she scares the huge profits these war hawks and allied corporations (the parent company of GE which owns MSNBC makes turbine engines for the military) have made off these unnecessary and tragic wars since the 9/11 attacks. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Anders Stöök , 1 day ago

Phil Donahue was not a sellout like Rachel Maddow.

Humphking , 1 day ago

They divide us with race, sex, and religion. If we came together all the working class people, from every race, you'd see the oligarchs true face. They'd innact martial law in a heartbeat, and run to their underground base in the Ozarks. That's the painful truth.

George Hoffman , 1 day ago (edited)

I served in Vietnam (31 May 1967 - 31 May 1968), so I'm approximately around the same age as Phil. I told everyone I knew that if we invaded Iraq - this was during the lead-up in 2002 to vote on GWB's Iraq War resolution - having just a volunteer armed forces in the strategic sense, let alone the invasion of Iraq would violate international covenants against illegal wars of aggression - we would eventually have down the road a military blunder and a foreign policy debacle that would rival the one we had in the Vietnam War.

If GWB had somehow convinced the American people and the Congress to bring back the draft after the 9/11 attacks, I assure you we would have withdrawn from Afghanistan and Iraq long, long ago. But the war hawks in Congress and the Pentagon love their private, (essentially) quasi-mercenary volunteer armed forces after how badly they got burnt during the anti-war protests against the Vietnam War.

That's why Richard Nixon replaced the draft with a lottery that has evolved into a volunteer armed forces. We were nearly the verge of another civil war in this country.

So Jimmy, once again, hit it out of the ballpark with this podcast on why the war hawks fear Tulsi. Remember they can't smear her based on the fact that she was an officer who did two tours of duty in the war zone, so they try to smear her because she is supposedly a puppet of Putin, that is, a fifth columnist or fellow traveler as they did during the Red Scare in the McCarthy era. I would definitely vote for her as a fellow war veteran for president, but she has a very hard road to travel to win the nomination.

She really scares the war hawks and just as importantly she scares the huge profits these war hawks and allied corporations (the parent company of GE which owns MSNBC makes turbine engines for the military) have made off these unnecessary and tragic wars since the 9/11 attacks.

Rick C-137 , 1 day ago (edited)

MSNBC is complicit in the deaths of millions. As evil as evil gets.

John Henni , 1 day ago

Chris Matthews is the definition of Corporate shill.

[Feb 14, 2019] Venezuela Envoy Elliott Abrams Lose His Cool During Tense Exchange With Rep. Ilhan Omar

Feb 14, 2019 | www.unz.com

renfro , says: February 14, 2019 at 6:25 am GMT

BRAVO OMAR ..2 nd time in my life I have seen balls in congress.

Venezuela Envoy Elliott Abrams Lose His Cool During Tense Exchange With Rep. Ilhan Omar

Watch the video at link

"Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by president George H.W. Bush," began Omar. "I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful."

"If I could respond to that " interjected Abrams.

"It was not a question," shot back Omar.

After a brief exchange in which Abrams protested "It was not right!" Omar cut Abrams off, saying "Thank you for your participation."

February 13, 2019

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/51105.htm

[Feb 13, 2019] Rep. Walter Jones, Rest in Peace The American Conservative

Feb 13, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Jones was a longtime friend of TAC , and he delivered the opening remarks at our 2017 foreign policy conference . Listen to what he said here:

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

He not only acknowledged early on that his initial support for the Iraq war was wrong, but spent the rest of his career fighting for a more restrained and peaceful foreign policy. Rep. Jones was one of the original Republican co-sponsors of the first House antiwar resolution to end U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen . He co-authored an op-ed with Reps. Khanna and Pocan in 2017 in support of their resolution:

We believe that the American people, if presented with the facts of this conflict, will oppose the use of their tax dollars to bomb and starve civilians in order to further the Saudi monarchy's regional goals. Our House resolution is a first step in expanding democracy into an arena long insulated from public accountability. Too many lives hang in the balance to allow this American war to continue without congressional consent. When our bill comes to the floor for a vote, our colleagues should consider first the solution proposed by the director of Unicef, Anthony Lake, for stopping the unimaginable suffering of millions of Yemenis: "Stop the war."

It is unfortunate that Rep. Jones did not live to see the House pass that resolution to end U.S. support for the war, but when a new version of that resolution passes later this month it will be thanks in no small part to his leadership.

Jones became a reliable scourge of unnecessary and unauthorized foreign wars wherever they happened to be . He saw the continuation of open-ended and illegal wars as an attack on the Constitution and an abuse of the men and women who volunteered to serve their country. His opposition to these wars earned him the enmity of Republican hawks , who repeatedly and unsuccessfully sought to unseat him through primary challenges. Whatever their disagreements with him may have been over the years, his constituents recognized and appreciated his integrity and his dedication to the country.

The cause of peace and restraint has lost one of its great defenders, TAC has lost one of our good friends, and America has lot one of its most honorable and decent public servants. May his memory be eternal.


Longtime TAC Reader February 11, 2019 at 3:14 am

The loss of Walter Jones is devastating.

I hope that good and true Americans inspired by his example will pick up the colors he carried so long and faithfully, carry them forward, renewing his dogged efforts to rein in military intervention and preserve true freedom.

God bless you, Walter Jones.

God bless you.

RIP , says: February 11, 2019 at 8:52 am
This is a blow, and no denying it.

For all that, you may be certain that somewhere the vermin are jumping for joy, because when it comes to their vile wars and meddling they brook no dissent, and Jones's voice was strong and sure, grounded in truth and "the better angels of our nature".

Very sorry to have lost this good and valuable American. Hats off also to the people of his district, many of them soldiers or families of soldiers, who kept sending him back to Washington. May they find someone to replace who has the same gumption, character, and commitment to basic Americanism.

Virginia Catholic Girl , says: February 11, 2019 at 9:36 am
If there were more people like him in Washington, we wouldn't be in the state we're in. I wrote him a "fan" letter back in 2006 or thereabouts, about his regrets about the Iraq war and writing to all the families of those KIA. Also appreciated him being one of the few in Congress that actually tried to follow the Constitution and do something about our national debt. He also was all about constituent service,especially for veterans and those in Eastern North Carolina affected by the recent hurricanes. Eternal rest, grant him, Oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

[Feb 12, 2019] Walter Jones, Congressman Behind Freedom Fries Who Turned Anti-War Firebrand, Dies At 76

Notable quotes:
"... However, he was one of the few politicians initially supporting the Iraq invasion to later express profound public regret over his decision , and went on to become a consistent advocate for ending regime change wars and Washington's military adventurism abroad. As part of these efforts, he was an original Board Member of the Ron Paul Institute. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. died at the age of 76 on Sunday after an extended illness for which was a granted a leave of absence from Congress last year.

The Republican representative for North Carolina's 3rd congressional district since 1995 had initially been a strong supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and even became well-known for getting french fries renamed as "freedom fries" in the House cafeteria as a protest against French condemnation of the US invasion.

... ... ...

However, he was one of the few politicians initially supporting the Iraq invasion to later express profound public regret over his decision , and went on to become a consistent advocate for ending regime change wars and Washington's military adventurism abroad. As part of these efforts, he was an original Board Member of the Ron Paul Institute.

Remembering Jones as a tireless advocate of peace, Ron Paul notes that he " turned from pro-war to an antiwar firebrand after he discovered how Administrations lie us into war . His passing yesterday is deeply mourned by all who value peace and honesty over war and deception." The Ron Paul Institute has also called him "a Hero of Peace" for both his voting record and efforts at shutting down the "endless wars".

And Antiwar.com also describes Jones as having been among the "most consistently antiwar members of Congress" and a huge supporter of their work:

By 2005, Jones had reversed his position on the Iraq War. Jones called on President George W. Bush to apologize for misinforming Congress to win authorization for the war. Jones said, "If I had known then what I know today, I wouldn't have voted for that resolution."

Jones went on to become one of the most antiwar members of Congress, fighting for ending US involvement in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Yemen.

Also the BBC describes Rep. Jones' "dramatic change of heart" concerning the Iraq war starting in 2005, after which he began reaching out to thousands of people who had lost loves ones in combat.

Rep. Walter Jones led an effort in the House to call French Fries "Freedom Fries" instead, but came to profoundly regret his role in supporting Bush's war.

Noting that "no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq" and that the war was justified by the Bush administration based entirely on lies and false intelligence, the BBC describes:

At the same time, Mr Jones met grieving families whose loved ones were killed in the war. This caused him to have a dramatic change of heart, and in 2005 he called for the troops to be brought home.

He spoke candidly on several occasions about how deeply he regretted supporting the war, which led to the deaths of more than 140,000 Iraqi and American people.

"I have signed over 12,000 letters to families and extended families who've lost loved ones in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars," he told NPR in 2017. "That was, for me, asking God to forgive me for my mistake."

In total he represented his district for 34 years, first in the North Carolina state legislature, then in Congress. He took a leave of absence last year after a number of missed House votes due to declining health.

[Feb 12, 2019] Rethinking America's Military Industrial Complex by Tim Kirby

Notable quotes:
"... The 1940s are the point where the permanent military industrial complex that we know of today starts to take hold. Slightly later it got the name by which we call it today thanks to a speech by President Eisenhower at the very tail end of his presidency in 1961. Sadly Mr. Eisenhower did nothing to stop the growth of the war-machine only choosing to warn us about it with nearly no time left in office. One would have expected bold action from a man known for his bravery and cunning ..."
"... Washington chose to go with "Global Hegemon" America and has not looked back. But at this point massive military spending still required some sort of reason to spend hundreds of billions per year. Iraq and Afghanistan were enough justification to keep millions of men in uniforms on bases all over the world mostly doing pushups and cleaning the toilets in a "global war on terror". ..."
"... Since war is no longer necessary to justify the MIC the US is much more free to not engage in warfare. In fact war is completely unnecessary. At some point advertisements for automobiles had to stop mentioning their superiority to horses. We are at the same point with the MIC. Politicians and the mainstream media do not need to search for/create enemies because they are no longer needed. The US military is to be forever massive and expensive and profitable and it may even become very peaceful because of this. Why work when you can make billions doing virtually nothing? ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tim Kirby via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The US Military Industrial Complex no longer needs neither actual wars nor the threat of war for its own survival. This factor could actually change dynamic of this institution/bureaucracy in our lifetimes and it may actually be changing as we speak.

Very often something will evolve and become ubiquitous to the degree that we forget its origin. Putting a dead tree in your house on Christmas is a good example, few people think of why this is done, they just do it because it has been done for a long time and thus seems completely natural and important to do so every year. A justification for doing it is no longer needed, it is something done by default. In some ways the necessity to start questionable wars of luxury is much like that Christmas tree – an odd tradition that is not of an importance or value anymore.

In order to break this down we need to go back to the start.

It is hard for people in our times, especially foreign people to understand the fact that the United States was not a massive military power until WWII. Today sole hyperpower was at a time not that long ago a much different nation militarily and foreign policy speaking. In 1914 at the start of the Great War in Europe the territorially massive United States had a total armed forces of around 166,000 men . From 1776 until that point the manpower of US forces was minimal by European standards . That America of those times was an isolated self-focused America that many today long for. When the US entered WWI shedding the binds of its isolationist tendencies it bulked up to nearly 3,000,000 soldiers by the end of 1918. However, directly after the Great War finally ended the military severely deflated itself back down much closer to its original size.

"The Good War" in the 1940's was the final nail in the isolationist coffin as American forces would forever remain in the millions of men after the defeat of Germany and Japan by the Allies.

The 1940s are the point where the permanent military industrial complex that we know of today starts to take hold. Slightly later it got the name by which we call it today thanks to a speech by President Eisenhower at the very tail end of his presidency in 1961. Sadly Mr. Eisenhower did nothing to stop the growth of the war-machine only choosing to warn us about it with nearly no time left in office. One would have expected bold action from a man known for his bravery and cunning.

The ideological justification for retaining a massive US military in peacetime was Communism. A global Communist threat seemed like something grand enough to be worth throwing away a large portion of America's traditional (and very successful) identity.

As time went on wars of questionable origins in Korea and Vietnam continued to provide proof of the need for massive military spending and continued expansion.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90's American forces could have (in theory) reduced in size as there was no longer any real geopolitical competitor to the US. This was a "turning point" moment when America could possibly have gone back to being the America that was and scaled down to a few hundred thousand men under the umbrella of a few thousand nuclear warheads and enough billions of dollars to make sure that the US would never "fall behind" from a weapons standpoint.

But this was not to be. Washington chose to go with "Global Hegemon" America and has not looked back. But at this point massive military spending still required some sort of reason to spend hundreds of billions per year. Iraq and Afghanistan were enough justification to keep millions of men in uniforms on bases all over the world mostly doing pushups and cleaning the toilets in a "global war on terror".

Now there is a new "Russian threat" that is hard for politicians to define or prove exists but is just juicy enough for them it is still call for increasing defense spending or build system X in European country Y that they can't find on a map.

As we can see since WWII, the US military has gone from dealing with direct threats (Germany, Japan) to direct threats via proxy (The Soviet Union in Korea/Vietnam) to overinflated threats (Iraq, Afghanistan) to fake threats (today's Russia). I would argue and even offer that at this point there is no political means nor will to ever go "back" to the isolated America. That America as a concept is dead and both the politicians and the public understand and support the US having a massive military. No threat is needed any more as having a massive military is no longer even a question. It is a default position like seeing the world as round – only a tiny handful of lunatics of zero influence could argue otherwise and debating with them is pointless.

Furthermore as we have seen any politician who goes against the military industrial complex (MIC) is deemed a traitor and "against the troops".

This current state of things is actually very good from the standpoint of peace and America's reputation. Since war is no longer necessary to justify the MIC the US is much more free to not engage in warfare. In fact war is completely unnecessary. At some point advertisements for automobiles had to stop mentioning their superiority to horses. We are at the same point with the MIC. Politicians and the mainstream media do not need to search for/create enemies because they are no longer needed. The US military is to be forever massive and expensive and profitable and it may even become very peaceful because of this. Why work when you can make billions doing virtually nothing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consolidating Power of the Giants

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

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

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

Developing Countries Must Be Vigilant

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

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

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

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

New Approach Needed

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

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

Pro-active Measures Needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urgent Measures Needed

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

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


Thuto , February 10, 2019 at 6:13 am

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

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

jfleni , February 10, 2019 at 9:23 am

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

Synoia , February 10, 2019 at 1:23 pm

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

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

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

Will it be an Exceptional agreement, by Exceptional Countries?

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

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

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

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

raghavan

Rory , February 10, 2019 at 2:16 pm

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

[Feb 11, 2019] Is political nationalism a viable way of resisting neoliberalism today? by Rafael Winkler

Notable quotes:
"... Is this political nationalism a viable way of resisting neoliberalism today? Can it gainsay the primacy of economic rationality and the culture of narcissist consumerism, and restore meaning to the political question concerning the common good? Or has nationalism irreversibly become an ethnic, separatist project? It is not easy to say. So far, we have witnessed one kind of response to the social insecurities generated by the global spread of neoliberalism. This is a return to ethnicity and religion as havens of safety and security. ..."
Sep 14, 2018 | mg.co.za

Nationalism was an emancipatory political project during the anti-colonial struggles of the second half of the 20th century. It was not tribalist or communalist.

According to Eric Hobsbawm in Nations and Nationalism since 1780, its aim was to extend the size of the social, cultural and political group. It was not to restrict it or to separate it from others. Nationalism was a political programme divorced from ethnicity.

Is this political nationalism a viable way of resisting neoliberalism today? Can it gainsay the primacy of economic rationality and the culture of narcissist consumerism, and restore meaning to the political question concerning the common good? Or has nationalism irreversibly become an ethnic, separatist project? It is not easy to say. So far, we have witnessed one kind of response to the social insecurities generated by the global spread of neoliberalism. This is a return to ethnicity and religion as havens of safety and security.

When society fails us owing to job insecurity, and, concomitantly, with regard to housing and healthcare, one tends to fall back on one's ethnicity or religious identity as an ultimate guarantee.

Moreover, nationalism as a political programme depends on the idea of the state. It holds that a group defined as a "nation" has the right to form a territorial state and exercise sovereign power over it. But given the decline of the state, there are reasons to think that political nationalism has withdrawn as a real possibility.

By the "decline of the state" I do not mean that it no longer exists. The state has never been more present in the private life of individuals. It regulates the relations between men and women. It regulates their birth and death, the rearing of children, the health of individuals and so forth. The state is, today, ubiquitous.

What some people mean by the "decline of the state" is that, with the existence of transnational corporations, it is no longer the most important site of the reproduction of capital. The state has become managerial. Its function is to manage obstacles to liberalisation and free trade.

Perhaps that is one of the challenges of the 21st century. How is a "nation" possible, a "national community" that is not defined by ethnicity, on the one hand, and, on the other, that forsakes the desire to exercise sovereign power in general and, in particular, over a territorial state?

The university is perhaps the place where such a community can begin to be thought.

Rafael Winkler is an associate professor in the philosophy department at the University of Johannesburg

[Feb 11, 2019] The Making of Juan Guaidó How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela s Coup Leader by Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal

Dismal economic performance of Venezuelan economy and impoverishment of population created perfect environment for the color revolution...
Notable quotes:
"... But after a single phone call from from US Vice President Mike Pence, Guaidó proclaimed himself president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom-dweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the US-selected leader of the nation with the world's largest oil reserves. ..."
"... CANVAS is a spinoff of Otpor, a Serbian protest group founded by Srdja Popovic in 1998 at the University of Belgrade. Otpor, which means "resistance" in Serbian, was the student group that gained international fame -- and Hollywood-level promotion -- by mobilizing the protests that eventually toppled Slobodan Milosevic. ..."
Jan 30, 2019 | grayzoneproject.com

Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington's elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization.

Before the fateful day of January 22, fewer than one in five Venezuelans had heard of Juan Guaidó. Only a few months ago, the 35-year-old was an obscure character in a politically marginal far-right group closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence. Even in his own party, Guaidó had been a mid-level figure in the opposition-dominated National Assembly, which is now held under contempt according to Venezuela's constitution.

But after a single phone call from from US Vice President Mike Pence, Guaidó proclaimed himself president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom-dweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the US-selected leader of the nation with the world's largest oil reserves.

Echoing the Washington consensus, the New York Times editorial board hailed Guaidó as a "credible rival" to Maduro with a "refreshing style and vision of taking the country forward." The Bloomberg News editorial board applauded him for seeking "restoration of democracy" and the Wall Street Journal declared him "a new democratic leader." Meanwhile, Canada, numerous European nations, Israel, and the bloc of right-wing Latin American governments known as the Lima Group recognized Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

While Guaidó seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, he was, in fact, the product of more than a decade of assiduous grooming by the US government's elite regime change factories. Alongside a cadre of right-wing student activists, Guaidó was cultivated to undermine Venezuela's socialist-oriented government, destabilize the country, and one day seize power. Though he has been a minor figure in Venezuelan politics, he had spent years quietly demonstrated his worthiness in Washington's halls of power.

"Juan Guaidó is a character that has been created for this circumstance," Marco Teruggi, an Argentinian sociologist and leading chronicler of Venezuelan politics, told The Grayzone . "It's the logic of a laboratory – Guaidó is like a mixture of several elements that create a character who, in all honesty, oscillates between laughable and worrying."

Diego Sequera, a Venezuelan journalist and writer for the investigative outlet Misión Verdad, agreed: "Guaidó is more popular outside Venezuela than inside, especially in the elite Ivy League and Washington circles," Sequera remarked to The Grayzone, "He's a known character there, is predictably right-wing, and is considered loyal to the program."

While Guaidó is today sold as the face of democratic restoration, he spent his career in the most violent faction of Venezuela's most radical opposition party, positioning himself at the forefront of one destabilization campaign after another. His party has been widely discredited inside Venezuela, and is held partly responsible for fragmenting a badly weakened opposition.

"'These radical leaders have no more than 20 percent in opinion polls," wrote Luis Vicente León, Venezuela's leading pollster. According to León, Guaidó's party remains isolated because the majority of the population "does not want war. 'What they want is a solution.'"

But this is precisely why he Guaidó was selected by Washington: He is not expected to lead Venezuela toward democracy, but to collapse a country that for the past two decades has been a bulwark of resistance to US hegemony. His unlikely rise signals the culmination of a two decades-long project to destroy a robust socialist experiment.

Targeting the "troika of tyranny"

Since the 1998 election of Hugo Chávez, the United States has fought to restore control over Venezuela and is vast oil reserves. Chávez's socialist programs may have redistributed the country's wealth and helped lift millions out of poverty, but they also earned him a target on his back.

In 2002, Venezuela's right-wing opposition briefly ousted Chávez with US support and recognition, before the military restored his presidency following a mass popular mobilization. Throughout the administrations of US Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Chávez survived numerous assassination plots, before succumbing to cancer in 2013. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has survived three attempts on his life.

The Trump administration immediately elevated Venezuela to the top of Washington's regime change target list, branding it the leader of a "troika of tyranny." Last year, Trump's national security team attempted to recruit members of the military brass to mount a military junta, but that effort failed.

According to the Venezuelan government, the US was also involved in a plot, codenamed Operation Constitution, to capture Maduro at the Miraflores presidential palace; and another, called Operation Armageddon , to assassinate him at a military parade in July 2017. Just over a year later, exiled opposition leaders tried and failed to kill Maduro with drone bombs during a military parade in Caracas.

More than a decade before these intrigues, a group of right-wing opposition students were hand-selected and groomed by an elite US-funded regime change training academy to topple Venezuela's government and restore the neoliberal order.

Training from the "'export-a-revolution' group that sowed the seeds for a NUMBER of color revolutions"

On October 5, 2005, with Chávez's popularity at its peak and his government planning sweeping socialist programs, five Venezuelan "student leaders" arrived in Belgrade, Serbia to begin training for an insurrection.

The students had arrived from Venezuela courtesy of the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies, or CANVAS. This group is funded largely through the National Endowment for Democracy , a CIA cut-out that functions as the US government's main arm of promoting regime change; and offshoots like the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. According to leaked internal emails from Stratfor, an intelligence firm known as the " shadow CIA ," CANVAS "may have also received CIA funding and training during the 1999/2000 anti-Milosevic struggle."

CANVAS is a spinoff of Otpor, a Serbian protest group founded by Srdja Popovic in 1998 at the University of Belgrade. Otpor, which means "resistance" in Serbian, was the student group that gained international fame -- and Hollywood-level promotion -- by mobilizing the protests that eventually toppled Slobodan Milosevic.

This small cell of regime change specialists was operating according to the theories of the late Gene Sharp, the so-called "Clausewitz of non-violent struggle." Sharp had worked with a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, Col. Robert Helvey , to conceive a strategic blueprint that weaponized protest as a form of hybrid warfare, aiming it at states that resisted Washington's unipolar domination.

Otpor at the 1998 MTV Europe Music Awards

Otpor was supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, and Sharp's Albert Einstein Institute. Sinisa Sikman, one of Otpor's main trainers, once said the group even received direct CIA funding.

According to a leaked email from a Stratfor staffer, after running Milosevic out of power, "the kids who ran OTPOR grew up, got suits and designed CANVAS or in other words a 'export-a-revolution' group that sowed the seeds for a NUMBER of color revolutions. They are still hooked into U.S. funding and basically go around the world trying to topple dictators and autocratic governments (ones that U.S. does not like ;)."

Stratfor revealed that CANVAS "turned its attention to Venezuela" in 2005, after training opposition movements that led pro-NATO regime change operations across Eastern Europe.

While monitoring the CANVAS training program, Stratfor outlined its insurrectionist agenda in strikingly blunt language: "Success is by no means guaranteed, and student movements are only at the beginning of what could be a years-long effort to trigger a revolution in Venezuela, but the trainers themselves are the people who cut their teeth on the 'Butcher of the Balkans.'ť They've got mad skills. When you see students at five Venezuelan universities hold simultaneous demonstrations, you will know that the training is over and the real work has begun."

Birthing the "Generation 2007" regime change cadre

The "real work" began two years later, in 2007, when Guaidó graduated from Andrés Bello Catholic University of Caracas. He moved to Washington, DC to enroll in the Governance and Political Management Program at George Washington University, under the tutelage of Venezuelan economist Luis Enrique Berrizbeitia, one of the top Latin American neoliberal economists. Berrizbeitia is a former executive director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who spent more than a decade working in the Venezuelan energy sector, under the old oligarchic regime that was ousted by Chávez.

That year, Guaidó helped lead anti-government rallies after the Venezuelan government declined to to renew the license of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV). This privately owned station played a leading role in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez. RCTV helped mobilize anti-government demonstrators, falsified information blaming government supporters for acts of violence carried out by opposition members, and banned pro-government reporting amid the coup. The role of RCTV and other oligarch-owned stations in driving the failed coup attempt was chronicled in the acclaimed documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised .

That same year, the students claimed credit for stymying Chavez's constitutional referendum for a "21st century socialism" that promised "to set the legal framework for the political and social reorganization of the country, giving direct power to organized communities as a prerequisite for the development of a new economic system."

From the protests around RCTV and the referendum, a specialized cadre of US-backed class of regime change activists was born. They called themselves "Generation 2007."

The Stratfor and CANVAS trainers of this cell identified Guaidó's ally – a street organizer named Yon Goicoechea – as a "key factor" in defeating the constitutional referendum. The following year, Goicochea was rewarded for his efforts with the Cato Institute's Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty, along with a $500,000 prize, which he promptly invested into building his own Liberty First (Primero Justicia) political network.

Friedman, of course, was the godfather of the notorious neoliberal Chicago Boys who were imported into Chile by dictatorial junta leader Augusto Pinochet to implement policies of radical "shock doctrine"-style fiscal austerity. And the Cato Institute is the libertarian Washington DC-based think tank founded by the Koch Brothers, two top Republican Party donors who have become aggressive supporters of the right-wing across Latin America.

Wikileaks published a 2007 email from American ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield sent to the State Department, National Security Council and Department of Defense Southern Command praising "Generation of '07" for having "forced the Venezuelan president, accustomed to setting the political agenda, to (over)react." Among the "emerging leaders" Brownfield identified were Freddy Guevara and Yon Goicoechea. He applauded the latter figure as "one of the students' most articulate defenders of civil liberties."

Flush with cash from libertarian oligarchs and US government soft power outfits, the radical Venezuelan cadre took their Otpor tactics to the streets, along with a version of the group's logo, as seen below:

"Galvanizing public unrest to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez"

In 2009, the Generation 2007 youth activists staged their most provocative demonstration yet, dropping their pants on public roads and aping the outrageous guerrilla theater tactics outlined by Gene Sharp in his regime change manuals. The protesters had mobilized against the arrest of an ally from another newfangled youth group called JAVU. This far-right group "gathered funds from a variety of US government sources, which allowed it to gain notoriety quickly as the hardline wing of opposition street movements," according to academic George Ciccariello-Maher's book, "Building the Commune."

While video of the protest is not available, many Venezuelans have identified Guaidó as one of its key participants. While the allegation is unconfirmed, it is certainly plausible; the bare-buttocks protesters were members of the Generation 2007 inner core that Guaidó belonged to, and were clad in their trademark Resistencia! Venezuela t-shirts, as seen below:

That year, Guaidó exposed himself to the public in another way, founding a political party to capture the anti-Chavez energy his Generation 2007 had cultivated. Called Popular Will, it was led by Leopoldo López , a Princeton-educated right-wing firebrand heavily involved in National Endowment for Democracy programs and elected as the mayor of a district in Caracas that was one of the wealthiest in the country. Lopez was a portrait of Venezuelan aristocracy, directly descended from his country's first president. He was also the first cousin of Thor Halvorssen , founder of the US-based Human Rights Foundation that functions as a de facto publicity shop for US-backed anti-government activists in countries targeted by Washington for regime change.

Though Lopez's interests aligned neatly with Washington's, US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks highlighted the fanatical tendencies that would ultimately lead to Popular Will's marginalization. One cable identified Lopez as "a divisive figure within the opposition often described as arrogant, vindictive, and power-hungry." Others highlighted his obsession with street confrontations and his "uncompromising approach" as a source of tension with other opposition leaders who prioritized unity and participation in the country's democratic institutions.

By 2010, Popular Will and its foreign backers moved to exploit the worst drought to hit Venezuela in decades. Massive electricity shortages had struck the country due the dearth of water, which was needed to power hydroelectric plants. A global economic recession and declining oil prices compounded the crisis, driving public discontentment.

Stratfor and CANVAS – key advisors of Guaidó and his anti-government cadre – devised a shockingly cynical plan to drive a dagger through the heart of the Bolivarian revolution. The scheme hinged on a 70% collapse of the country's electrical system by as early as April 2010.

"This could be the watershed event, as there is little that Chavez can do to protect the poor from the failure of that system," the Stratfor internal memo declared. "This would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate. At that point in time, an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs."

By this point, the Venezuelan opposition was receiving a staggering $40-50 million a year from US government organizations like USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy, according to a report by the Spanish think tank, the FRIDE Institute. It also had massive wealth to draw on from its own accounts, which were mostly outside the country.

While the scenario envisioned by Statfor did not come to fruition, the Popular Will party activists and their allies cast aside any pretense of non-violence and joined a radical plan to destabilize the country.

Towards violent destabilization

In November, 2010, according to emails obtained by Venezuelan security services and presented by former Justice Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres, Guaidó, Goicoechea, and several other student activists attended a secret five-day training at the Fiesta Mexicana hotel in Mexico City. The sessions were run by Otpor, the Belgrade-based regime change trainers backed by the US government. The meeting had reportedly received the blessing of Otto Reich, a fanatically anti-Castro Cuban exile working in George W. Bush's Department of State, and the right-wing former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

At the Fiesta Mexicana hotel, the emails stated, Guaidó and his fellow activists hatched a plan to overthrow President Hugo Chavez by generating chaos through protracted spasms of street violence.

Three petroleum industry figureheads – Gustavo Torrar, Eligio Cedeńo and Pedro Burelli – allegedly covered the $52,000 tab to hold the meeting. Torrar is a self-described "human rights activist" and "intellectual" whose younger brother Reynaldo Tovar Arroyo is the representative in Venezuela of the private Mexican oil and gas company Petroquimica del Golfo, which holds a contract with the Venezuelan state.

Cedeńo, for his part, is a fugitive Venezuelan businessman who claimed asylum in the United States, and Pedro Burelli a former JP Morgan executive and the former director of Venezuela's national oil company, Petroleum of Venezuela (PDVSA). He left PDVSA in 1998 as Hugo Chavez took power and is on the advisory committee of Georgetown University's Latin America Leadership Program.

Burelli insisted that the emails detailing his participation had been fabricated and even hired a private investigator to prove it. The investigator declared that Google's records showed the emails alleged to be his were never transmitted.

Yet today Burelli makes no secret of his desire to see Venezuela's current president, Nicolás Maduro, deposed – and even dragged through the streets and sodomized with a bayonet, as Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi was by NATO-backed militiamen.

The alleged Fiesta Mexicana plot flowed into another destabilization plan revealed in a series of documents produced by the Venezuelan government. In May 2014, Caracas released documents detailing an assassination plot against President Nicolás Maduro. The leaks identified the Miami-based Maria Corina Machado as a leader of the scheme. A hardliner with a penchant for extreme rhetoric, Machado has functioned as an international liaison for the opposition, visiting President George W. Bush in 2005.

"I think it is time to gather efforts; make the necessary calls, and obtain financing to annihilate Maduro and the rest will fall apart," Machado wrote in an email to former Venezuelan diplomat Diego Arria in 2014.

In another email , Machado claimed that the violent plot had the blessing of US Ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker. "I have already made up my mind and this fight will continue until this regime is overthrown and we deliver to our friends in the world. If I went to San Cristobal and exposed myself before the OAS, I fear nothing. Kevin Whitaker has already reconfirmed his support and he pointed out the new steps. We have a checkbook stronger than the regime's to break the international security ring."

Guaidó heads to the barricades

That February, student demonstrators acting as shock troops for the exiled oligarchy erected violent barricades across the country, turning opposition-controlled quarters into violent fortresses known as guarimbas . While international media portrayed the upheaval as a spontaneous protest against Maduro's iron-fisted rule, there was ample evidence that Popular Will was orchestrating the show.

"None of the protesters at the universities wore their university t-shirts, they all wore Popular Will or Justice First t-shirts," a guarimba participant said at the time. "They might have been student groups, but the student councils are affiliated to the political opposition parties and they are accountable to them."

Asked who the ringleaders were, the guarimba participant said, "Well if I am totally honest, those guys are legislators now."

Around 43 were killed during the 2014 guarimbas . Three years later, they erupted again, causing mass destruction of public infrastructure, the murder of government supporters, and the deaths of 126 people, many of whom were Chavistas. In several cases, supporters of the government were burned alive by armed gangs.

Guaidó was directly involved in the 2014 guarimbas . In fact, he tweeted video showing himself clad in a helmet and gas mask, surrounded by masked and armed elements that had shut down a highway that were engaging in a violent clash with the police. Alluding to his participation in Generation 2007, he proclaimed, "I remember in 2007, we proclaimed, 'Students!' Now, we shout, 'Resistance! Resistance!'"

Guaidó has deleted the tweet, demonstrating apparent concern for his image as a champion of democracy.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/bh4DjOUsShQ

On February 12, 2014, during the height of that year's guarimbas , Guaidó joined Lopez on stage at a rally of Popular Will and Justice First. During a lengthy diatribe against the government, Lopez urged the crowd to march to the office of Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz. Soon after, Diaz's office came under attack by armed gangs who attempted to burn it to the ground. She denounced what she called "planned and premeditated violence."

In an televised appearance in 2016, Guaidó dismissed deaths resulting from guayas – a guarimba tactic involving stretching steel wire across a roadway in order to injure or kill motorcyclists – as a "myth." His comments whitewashed a deadly tactic that had killed unarmed civilians like Santiago Pedroza and decapitated a man named Elvis Durán, among many others.

This callous disregard for human life would define his Popular Will party in the eyes of much of the public, including many opponents of Maduro.

Cracking down on Popular Will

As violence and political polarization escalated across the country, the government began to act against the Popular Will leaders who helped stoke it.

Freddy Guevara, the National Assembly Vice-President and second in command of Popular Will, was a principal leader in the 2017 street riots. Facing a trial for his role in the violence, Guevara took shelter in the Chilean embassy, where he remains.

Lester Toledo, a Popular Will legislator from the state of Zulia, was wanted by Venezuelan government in September 2016 on charges of financing terrorism and plotting assassinations. The plans were said to be made with former Colombian President Álavaro Uribe. Toledo escaped Venezuela and went on several speaking tours with Human Rights Watch, the US government-backed Freedom House, the Spanish Congress and European Parliament.

Carlos Graffe, another Otpor-trained Generation 2007 member who led Popular Will, was arrested in July 2017. According to police, he was in possession of a bag filled with nails, C4 explosives and a detonator. He was released on December 27, 2017.

Leopoldo Lopez, the longtime Popular Will leader, is today under house arrest, accused of a key role in deaths of 13 people during the guarimbas in 2014. Amnesty International lauded Lopez as a "prisoner of conscience" and slammed his transfer from prison to house as "not good enough." Meanwhile, family members of guarimba victims introduced a petition for more charges against Lopez.

Yon Goicoechea, the Koch Brothers posterboy and US-backed founder of Justice First, was arrested in 2016 by security forces who claimed they found found a kilo of explosives in his vehicle. In a New York Times op-ed , Goicoechea protested the charges as "trumped-up" and claimed he had been imprisoned simply for his "dream of a democratic society, free of Communism." He was freed in November 2017.

David Smolansky, also a member of the original Otpor-trained Generation 2007, became Venezuela's youngest-ever mayor when he was elected in 2013 in the affluent suburb of El Hatillo. But he was stripped of his position and sentenced to 15 months in prison by the Supreme Court after it found him culpable of stirring the violent guarimbas .

Facing arrest, Smolansky shaved his beard, donned sunglasses and slipped into Brazil disguised as a priest with a bible in hand and rosary around his neck. He now lives in Washington, DC, where he was hand picked by Secretary of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro to lead the working group on the Venezuelan migrant and refugee crisis.

This July 26, Smolansky held what he called a "cordial reunion" with Elliot Abrams, the convicted Iran-Contra felon installed by Trump as special US envoy to Venezuela. Abrams is notorious for overseeing the US covert policy of arming right-wing death squads during the 1980's in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. His lead role in the Venezuelan coup has stoked fears that another blood-drenched proxy war might be on the way.

Four days earlier, Machado rumbled another violent threat against Maduro, declaring that if he "wants to save his life, he should understand that his time is up."

A pawn in their game

The collapse of Popular Will under the weight of the violent campaign of destabilization it ran alienated large sectors of the public and wound much of its leadership up in exile or in custody. Guaidó had remained a relatively minor figure, having spent most of his nine-year career in the National Assembly as an alternate deputy. Hailing from one of Venezuela's least populous states, Guaidó came in second place during the 2015 parliamentary elections, winning just 26% of votes cast in order to secure his place in the National Assembly. Indeed, his bottom may have been better known than his face.

Guaidó is known as the president of the opposition-dominated National Assembly, but he was never elected to the position. The four opposition parties that comprised the Assembly's Democratic Unity Table had decided to establish a rotating presidency. Popular Will's turn was on the way, but its founder, Lopez, was under house arrest. Meanwhile, his second-in-charge, Guevara, had taken refuge in the Chilean embassy. A figure named Juan Andrés Mejía would have been next in line but reasons that are only now clear, Juan Guaido was selected.

"There is a class reasoning that explains Guaidó's rise," Sequera, the Venezuelan analyst, observed. "Mejía is high class, studied at one of the most expensive private universities in Venezuela, and could not be easily marketed to the public the way Guaidó could. For one, Guaidó has common mestizo features like most Venezuelans do, and seems like more like a man of the people. Also, he had not been overexposed in the media, so he could be built up into pretty much anything."

In December 2018, Guaidó sneaked across the border and junketed to Washington, Colombia and Brazil to coordinate the plan to hold mass demonstrations during the inauguration of President Maduro. The night before Maduro's swearing-in ceremony, both Vice President Mike Pence and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called Guaidó to affirm their support.

A week later, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart – all lawmakers from the Florida base of the right-wing Cuban exile lobby – joined President Trump and Vice President Pence at the White House. At their request, Trump agreed that if Guaidó declared himself president, he would back him.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met personally withGuaidó on January 10, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, Pompeo could not pronounce Guaidó's name when he mentioned him in a press briefing on January 25, referring to him as "Juan Guido."

By January 11, Guaidó's Wikipedia page had been edited 37 times, highlighting the struggle to shape the image of a previously anonymous figure who was now a tableau for Washington's regime change ambitions. In the end, editorial oversight of his page was handed over to Wikipedia's elite council of "librarians," who pronounced him the "contested" president of Venezuela.

Guaidó might have been an obscure figure, but his combination of radicalism and opportunism satisfied Washington's needs. "That internal piece was missing," a Trump administration said of Guaidó. "He was the piece we needed for our strategy to be coherent and complete."

"For the first time," Brownfield, the former American ambassador to Venezuela, gushed to the New York Times, "you have an opposition leader who is clearly signaling to the armed forces and to law enforcement that he wants to keep them on the side of the angels and with the good guys."

But Guaidó's Popular Will party formed the shock troops of the guarimbas that caused the deaths of police officers and common citizens alike. He had even boasted of his own participation in street riots. And now, to win the hearts and minds of the military and police, Guaido had to erase this blood-soaked history.

On January 21, a day before the coup began in earnest, Guaidó's wife delivered a video address calling on the military to rise up against Maduro. Her performance was wooden and uninspiring, underscoring the her husband's limited political prospects.

At a press conference before supporters four days later, Guaidó announced his solution to the crisis: "Authorize a humanitarian intervention!"

While he waits on direct assistance, Guaidó remains what he has always been – a pet project of cynical outside forces. "It doesn't matter if he crashes and burns after all these misadventures," Sequera said of the coup figurehead. "To the Americans, he is expendable."


Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican Gomorrah , Goliath , The Fifty One Day War , and The Management of Savagery . He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza . Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America's state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.

Dan Cohen Dan Cohen is a journalist and filmmaker. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. Dan is a correspondent at RT America and tweets at @ DanCohen3000 . http://www.dancohenmedia.com/

[Feb 11, 2019] US sanctions, threats striving for a civil war is not just "doing something" but doing something wrong (but then, who gives a fuck for international law ? Who respects sovereignty ?)

Feb 11, 2019 | www.unz.com

animalogic , says: February 3, 2019 at 9:15 am GMT

@Tyrion 2 good, as Venezuela "resists" America." This is complete nonsense. "Doing things" is corrupt" ? Thus, doing nothing is "good ? I mean, WHAT ? Venezuela is not "good", per se, except that in this particular case of international relations its largely innocent . The US has unilaterally decided that the election loser is the election

winner

( Clinton actually "won" in 2016; she's the real president).
US sanctions, threats & striving for a civil war is not just "doing something" –but doing something wrong (but then, who gives a fuck for international law ? Who respects sovereignty ?)

Tyrion 2 , says: February 3, 2019 at 1:28 pm GMT
@animalogic America is to blame?

What a despicable ideology makes people think like that? It is cloying and maudlin and resentful.

US sanctions, threats & striving for a civil war is not just "doing something" –but doing something wrong (but then, who gives a fuck for international law ? Who respects sovereignty ?

Sovereignty is exercised by the legitimate government. Maduro is not the legitimate head of the Venezuelan government. Expecting him to step down or at least call a proper Presidential election is respecting this.

We can argue about that, but pearl clutching appeals to "but America is competent so America is bad" are gross.

Uncommonground , says: February 3, 2019 at 2:10 pm GMT
@Tyrion 2 Your mindless postmodernism is astonishing. So you think that facts don' t matter and you haven't noticed that people are commenting facts based on what is happening, what different acteurs have done? If you have no idea about Venezuela, why don't you read what Mark Weisbrot or Max Blumenthal and others have written about the theme recently?

[Feb 11, 2019] Jared Kushner HUMILIATED on Live Television

The full interview is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67y2V3ksdlA it's a interesting interview, especially considering Kushner lack of experience in this area and composition of his team.
This interview was in 2017. As of 2019 the results were zero and with recent Israeli actions problem probably became worse. Palestine conflict after so many Palestinian brood was spilled by Israel looks like a permanent feature which, unfortunately, might one day to bring Israel down iether by unleashing a war with Iran (without USA support), or when the USA might decide to toss Israel to wolfs.
Notable quotes:
"... You can view the complete interview here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZyGpirUMvk . ..."
"... Watch the full interview before making a judgment. ..."
"... Try to grasp the real power struggles underneath the headlines and hype. ..."
"... It's almost as if cronyism and nepotism breed incompetence. Who knew? ..."
"... One reason Jared has been chosen to interact with Israel is because he is a practicing Koshier Jew and long time family ties and friends with Israli PM Netanyahu since Jared was a young child and in fact Jared would give up his bedroom when Netanyahu came to visit. ..."
Dec 03, 2017 | www.youtube.com

Jared Kushner, President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, is interviewed at the Saban Forum on the topic of Israeli-Palestinian peace and his talking points get crushed by Israeli telecom billionaire Haim Saban


P K, 1 year ago

...You can view the complete interview here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZyGpirUMvk.

reeblite, 1 year ago (edited)

....Watch the full interview before making a judgment. Because he's betting that you won't because of your short attention span.

silverskid1, year ago

There's no story here. I watched the interview. It's a nothing-story. Of course the premise of Trump and his team as peacemakers in Israel is a bad joke-- but Kushner hasn't been "taken down" and "humiliated."

His demeanor throughout the interview was normal for him. The problem lies in what he says, and that's a different matter entirely. You're show is way to shallow. Try to grasp the real power struggles underneath the headlines and hype.

Kim Nguyen, 1 year ago (edited)

Jared sounds like that guy in your international relations class who is presenting his term paper, which he composed by collecting the cliff notes.

In terms of social issues, the achievement of peace between Palestine and Israel may be somewhere around P vs NP. There's no better person to expose the ridiculous of this team and how grossly unqualified they are than an Israeli or a Palestinian person. You can tell he feels insulted by the composition of this team.

Lady V , 10 months ago

So Ivanka converted to Judaism for him? There are many good reasons to convert to a different religion. Kushner ain't one of them.

Sass Afras , 8 months ago (edited)

When Kushner says; "We have a bankruptcy lawyer" ....(really?) Lol, When Saban says "it's a bankrupt situation, so yeah" BURN!

Chump still thinks he's "winning" what a joke! Newsflash Jarred, they're laughing AT you, NOT with you.

mike sandmire , 1 year ago

Touting a bankruptcy lawyer for a committee to solve the middle east problem, jesus h. Christ we are in trouble. Kushner sounds like daddy-in-law on the campaign trail. Every thing is so vague as to be rendered useless. We are going to fix the middle east. Yeah, how?

We are going to fix the problems there. Yeah, you said that but how are you going to fix it? Well the Iranians are a problem. Uh huh, we know that, how are you going to fix it? Also the Palestinians and Israelis don't seem to get along either. The talking while saying nothing just keeps going with this Administration.

Chris Lee , 1 year ago

Trump Admin is full of embarrassing unqualified personnel! As long as they are loyal. World voted against Trump on Palestine issue. Very SAD!

Brent Geery , 1 year ago (edited)

It's almost as if cronyism and nepotism breed incompetence. Who knew?

Jennifer Morris , 1 year ago

Priceless, when I first heard that Kushner was tasked with working on bringing peace to the Middle East my first thought was who? That that idiot Trump could throw this milk toast Jewish nobody into such a complex, sensitive protracted policy issue speaks volumes. From what I now know Kushner is a failed real estate agent with a father who is a convicted felon. Just cause he's married to Big orange daddies equally vacuous dumb daughter seems to be the only reason he is even in the White House. What a disgrace.

Elizabeth Czepiel , 2 months ago

With apologies to Mario Puzzo and the Godfather but "I'm going to make them an offer they can't understand!"

Gerard Vous , 10 months ago

How in the WORLD did he graduate with an JD degree from an elite university???

G Macka , 1 month ago

1 year on, and this little pecker wood is still just as inept, but at least we can finally begin to see through that fake (and very creepy) smile. The criminal Trump organization is falling apart at the seems, I think the only thing holding it all together is the sheer strength of the criminal investigations. Once those are all wrapped up, the Trump org. Will just collapse into a nasty little pile of rubble at Trumps feet. Fingers crossed Jared and Ivanka will be swept right up into the collapse and find themselves and in prison as well

tapolna , 1 year ago

And Jared Kushner is President Trump's "senior adviser"? Senor advisor!

Michael Garcia , 4 months ago (edited)

So what he saying is Israel is still just a victim they do nothing wrong to stimulate the wars going on in the Middle East don't do anything they're just playing victims. ??? It's well-known what part did Jesus play in the explosion of the Mesopotamia Cruise liner for the Americans to get into the war and save England where the Jews benefit in and got his real out of it through the Rothschild.

The Jewish bankers have been front and center of every war right in the middle stirring up the problems every country that took them in the Jew would find out their secrets their dislikes for the enemy that you will then go to the enemy and tell him everything hit the Jews host said causing War then the Jew finances both sides.

I know people like that who was start s***and watch the fight Jews have also claimed that they are A different race from your average Caucasian. Rh-positive bloodline

thehome man , 2 months ago

I grew up around them and i know that to be true about their conversational interactions them and Italians I just like black American people in that aspect, you may think it's an argument but it's not, you may think they are joking but they're expressing the irony of a situation or a persons stupidity.

panfluteman2000 , 1 year ago

Trump seems at times to be allergic to real knowledge, competence and expertise - except for the crooks in his cabinet that he hired to do his dirty work, like Mnuchin. And Trump could have hired real Middle East experts to be on his team. But no, he hired his son in law - someone he trusts, but also someone with no real expertise in the field, someone who's totally clueless. It seems like loyalty is 100% to Donald Trump, and knowledge, competence and expertise count for absolutely nothing.

Janet Johnson2 weeks ago (edited)

Ok Packman... so what is your expertise or qualifications? Your experience.. if any? IQ? What are you..15..16?? What qualifies you to peck away at the Trumps and all interactions with world leaders?

One reason Jared has been chosen to interact with Israel is because he is a practicing Koshier Jew and long time family ties and friends with Israli PM Netanyahu since Jared was a young child and in fact Jared would give up his bedroom when Netanyahu came to visit.

I understand Jared has a very high IQ. You Packman are just plain mean. Your friend there with you is even less impressive. You both sit around and poke fun of brave people who actually go out and try to do something to contribute and better this messed up world. I hope you aren't old enough to vote bc you aren't capable of making a wise choice yet.

Super Sonic 1 year ago (edited)

Good god we have complete fcking idiots running this country. This guy was absolutely SPOT ON! More people like this need to tell Trump and his cronies exactly this. The best bankruptcy lawyer to negotiate peace in the Middle East-wtf?? They have not the dimmest dullest notion on how to run a country starting with that orange ape at the top! ISIS on the run, good economy, low unemployment rate, Thank-you Obama!

MARK SUTTON, 1 year ago
David everyone keeps on talking about the Trump team and how its biased toward Israel. But what about all the other so called teams of other administrations. What about the Obama team?

What about the Bush team when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the PLO peace, what about the Clinton team when Ehud Barak practically offered 97% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem?

Oh and again while Bush was in office what about the fact that Israel removed itself and all of its settlers from Gaza? And what we got in return was an Iranian based about 40 minutes from Tel Aviv??

Why do you concentrate on the Trump team and not the "teams" we've had for the past 20 years or since the Oslo accords began. People keep on saying that the Trump team is not good for the peace process but I insist what peace process???

We've had this peace process since the late 80's and nothing has happened under the most leftist governments in Israel: Rabin, Peres, Barak, Olmert, all these Prime Ministers couldn't bring peace with the varying American teams....so why do you pick on Kushner???

Kushner had the balls to come out and say it like it is: There is NO solution to the conflict...

Eric Grosch1 month ago

So Trump and Kushner won't solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So, who is your exemplar of someone who has done so? The United States government has been funding Israel greatly and the Palestinians less so for years. Trump came to understand that Israel knows which side its bread is buttered on, so it sides with the US on most questions and the US sides with Israel on most questions.

Palestinians hate the US and Israel more or less equally, so Trump rationally withdrew funding from the Palestinians.

That was a divisive move, but the parties, Israel and Palestinians have already been divided since 1948, the year of the founding of modern Israel. It has long been US-policy to promise recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy there.

Trump finally did it. Divisive? Sure, but so what? The parties are already divided.

sam n1 year ago

Stop Zionism. It preaches the same ideology and Isis and Nazism. it considers one group of people more superior.

Abban A7 months ago

Kushner only in the picture because his father in law and because he is a Jewish. He has zero international ,foreigners policies . Basically trump forcing Arab world leaders to pass this deal or else . There will be no peace in Middle East with those guys in charge and in office. Just more innocent people will die .

[Feb 10, 2019] Pussy John Bolton and His Codpiece Mustache by Fred Reed

Highly recommended!
We have until recently never had government as aggressive, reckless, or psychiatrically fascinating as now.
Appointment on Bolton essentially confirms Fred Reed diagnose of Trump: "profoundly ignorant, narcissistic, a real-estate con man who danced just out of reach of the law.
Notable quotes:
"... Until Bush II, those governing were never lunatics. Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Clinton had their defects, were sometimes corrupt, and could be disagreed with on many grounds. They weren't crazy. ..."
"... The problem with the current occupants of the White House is not that they are conservatives, if they are. It is that they are nuts. ..."
"... Start with the head cheese, Donald Trump, profoundly ignorant, narcissistic, a real-estate con man who danced just out of reach of the law ..."
"... A particularly loathsome sort of politician is one who dodges his country's wars when of military age, and then wants to send others to die in later wars. This is Pussy John, arch hawk, coward, amoral, bully, willing to kill any number while he prances martially in Washington. Speaking as one who carried a rifle in Viet Nam, I would like to confine this fierce darling for life in the bottom of a public latrine in Uganda. ..."
"... I remarked how it seemed so strange that many of these hawks never fought in a war even when they had ample opportunity in their youth ..."
"... The crazy irresponsibility of Trump's foreign policy is entirely counter productive & inexcusable, however it's symptomatic of a slowly swelling sense of unconscious desperation. The reality, the feeling of unconstrained power the US experienced in the 90's & naughties has gone. The US has slowly woken to the nightmare possibility of real peer competitors. ..."
Feb 10, 2019 | www.unz.com

American government has become a collection of sordid and dangerous clowns. It was not always thus. Until Bush II, those governing were never lunatics. Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Clinton had their defects, were sometimes corrupt, and could be disagreed with on many grounds. They weren't crazy. Today's administration would seem unwholesome in a New York bus station at three in the morning. They are not normal American politicians.

In particular they seem to be pushing for war with Iran, China, Russia, and Venezuela. And -- this is important -- their behavior is not a matter of liberals catfighting with conservatives. All former presidents carefully avoided war with the Soviet Union, which carefully avoided war with America.

It was Reagan, a conservative and responsible president, who negotiated the INF treaty, to eliminate short-fuse nuclear weapons from Europe. By contrast, Trump is scrapping it. Pat Buchanan, the most conservative man I have met, strongly opposes aggression against Russia. The problem with the current occupants of the White House is not that they are conservatives, if they are. It is that they are nuts.

Donald the Cockatoo

Start with the head cheese, Donald Trump, profoundly ignorant, narcissistic, a real-estate con man who danced just out of reach of the law. His supporters will explode in fury at this. All politics being herd politics, the population has coalesced into herds fanatically pro-Trump and fanatically anti-Trump. Yet Trump's past is not a secret. Well-documented biographies describe his behavior in detail, but his supporters don't read them. The following is a bit long, but worth reading.

From The Making of Donald Trump , Johnston, David Cay. (p. 23). Melville House. Kindle Edition.

"I always get even," Trump writes in the opening line of that chapter. He then launches into an attack on the same woman he had denounced in Colorado. Trump recruited the unnamed woman "from her government job where she was making peanuts," her career going nowhere. "I decided to make her somebody. I gave her a great job at the Trump Organization, and over time she became powerful in real estate. She bought a beautiful home.

"When Trump was in financial trouble in the early nineties .."I asked her to make a phone call to an extremely close friend of hers who held a powerful position at a big bank and would have done what she asked. She said, "Donald, I can't do that." Instead of accepting that the woman felt that such a call would be inappropriate, Trump fired her. She started her own business. Trump writes that her business failed. "I was really happy when I found that out," he says.

"She had turned on me after I did so much to help her. I had asked her to do me a favor in return, and she turned me down flat. She ended up losing her home. Her husband, who was only in it for the money, walked out on her and I was glad. Over the years many people have called me asking for a recommendation for her. I always gave her bad recommendation. I can't stomach disloyalty. ..and now I go out of my way to make her life miserable."

All that because (if she exists) she declined to engage in corruption for the Donald. That is your President. A draft dodger, a pampered rich kid, and Ivy brat (Penn, Wharton). This increasingly is a pattern at the top: Ivy, money, no military service.

Pussy John Bolton

A particularly loathsome sort of politician is one who dodges his country's wars when of military age, and then wants to send others to die in later wars. This is Pussy John, arch hawk, coward, amoral, bully, willing to kill any number while he prances martially in Washington. Speaking as one who carried a rifle in Viet Nam, I would like to confine this fierce darling for life in the bottom of a public latrine in Uganda.

Pussy John, an Ivy flower (Yale) wrote in a reunion books that, during the 1969 Vietnam War draft lottery, "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost." In an interview, Bolton explained that he decided to avoid service in Vietnam because "by the time I was about to graduate in 1970, it was clear to me that opponents of the Vietnam War had made it certain we could not prevail, and that I had no great interest in going there to have Teddy Kennedy give it back to the people I might die to take it away from."

This same Pussy John, unwilling to risk his valuable being in a war he could have attended, now wants war with Iran, Venezuela, Russia, Syria, and Afghanistan. In these wars millions would die while he waggled his silly lip broom in the West Wing. His truculence is pathological and dangerous.

Here is PJ on Iran: which has not harmed and does not threaten America: "We think the government is under real pressure and it's our intention to squeeze them very hard," Bolton said Tuesday in Singapore. "As the British say, 'squeeze them until the pips squeak'."

How very brave of him. He apparently feels sadistic delight at starving Venezuelans, inciting civil war, and ruining the lives of millions who have done nothing wrong. Whence the weird hostility of this empty jockstrap, the lack of humanity? Forgot his Midiol? Venezuela of course has done nothing to the US and couldn't if it wanted to. America under the Freak Show is destroying another country simply because it doesn't meekly obey. While PJ gloats.

Bush II

Another rich kid and Yalie, none too bright, amoral as the rest, another draft dodger, (he hid in the Air National Guard.) who got to the White House on daddy's name recognition. Not having the balls to fight in his own war, he presided over the destruction of Iraq and the killing of hundreds of thousands, for no reason. (Except oil, Israel, and Empire. Collectively, these amount to no reason.) He then had the effrontery to pose on the deck of an aircraft carrier and say, "Mission accomplished." You know, just like Alexander the Great. Amoral. No empathy. What a man.

The striking pattern of the Ivy League avoiding the war confirmed then, as it does now, that our present rulers regard the rest of America as beings of a lower order. These armchair John Waynes might have called them "deplorables," though Hillary, another Yalie bowwow hawk, had not yet made the contempt explicit. This was the attitude of Pussy John, Bushy-Bushy Two, and Cockatoo Don. Compare this with the Falklands War in which Prince Andrew did what a country's leadership should do, but ours doesn't..

Wikipedia: "He (Prince Andrew) holds the rank of commander and the honorary rank of Vice Admiral (as of February 2015) in the Royal Navy, in which he served as an active-duty helicopter pilot and instructor and as the captain of a warship. He saw active service during the Falklands War, flying on multiple missions including anti-surface warfare, Exocet missile decoy, and casualty evacuation"

The Brits still have class. Compare Andrew with the contents of the Great Double-Wide on Pennsylvania Avernus.

Gina

A measure of the moral degradation of America: It is the only country that openly and proudly engages in torture. Many countries do it, of course. We admit it, and maintain torture prisons around the globe. Now we have a major government official, Gina Haspel, head of the CIA, a known sadist. "Bloody Gina." Is this who represents us? Would any other country in the civilized world put a sadist publicly in office?

Think of Gina waterboarding some guy, or standing around and getting off on it. You don't torture people unless you like it. The guy is tied down, coughing, choking, screaming, begging, desperate, drowning, and Gina pours more water. The poor bastard vomits, chokes. Gina adds a little more water .

What kind of woman would do this? Well, Gina's kind obviously. Does she then run off to her office and lock the door for half an hour? Maybe it starts early. One imagines her as a little girl, playing with her dolls. Cheerleader Barbie, Nurse Barbie, Klaus Barbie .

Michael Pompeo

Another pathologically aggressive chickenhawk. In a piece in Foreign Affairs he describes Iran as a "rogue state that America must eliminate for the sake of all that is good. Note that Pompeo presides over a foreign policy seeking to destroy Venezuela's economy and threatens military invasion, though Venezuela is no danger to the US and is not America's business; embargoes Cuba, which in no danger to the US and is not America's business; seeks to destroy Iran's economy, though Iran is no danger to the US and none of Americas business; sanctions Europe and meddles in its politics; sanctions Russia, which is not a danger to the United States, in an attempt to destroy its economy, pushes NATO up to Russia's borders, abandons the INF arms-control treaty and establishes a Space Command which will mean nuclear weapons on hair trigger in orbit, starts another nuclear arms race; wages a trade war against China intended to prevent its economic progress; sanctions North Korea; continues a seventeen-year policy of killing Afghans for no discernible purpose; wages a war against Syria; bombs Somalis; maintains unwanted occupation forces in Iraq; increasingly puts military forces in Africa; supports regimes with ghastly human-rights records such as Saudi Arabia and Israel; and looks for a war with China in the South China Sea, which is no more America's business than the Gulf of Mexico is China's.

But Pompeo is not a loon, oh no, and America is not a rogue state. Perish forfend.

Nikki Haley

A negligible twit -- I choose my vowel carefully -- but characterized, like Trump, PJ, and Pompeo Mattis

"After being promoted to lieutenant general, Mattis took command of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. On February 1, 2005, speaking at a forum in San Diego, he said "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling."

Perhaps in air-to-air combat you want someone who regards killing as fun, or in an amphibious assault. But in a position to make policy? Can you image Dwight Eisenhower talking about the fun of squaring a man's brains across the ground?

The Upshot

We have until recently never had government as aggressive, reckless, or psychiatrically fascinating as now. Again, it is not a matter of Republicans and Democrats. No administration of any party, stripe, or ideology has ever pushed to aggressively toward war with so many countries. These people are not right in the head.


Gene Su , says: February 8, 2019 at 3:07 am GMT

I remember in high school one of my teachers stating how weird it seems that it would be the leadership of the US military who would call for the American government to intervene less in the affairs of other countries and to not be so quick to use military force. This was, of course, decades ago.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with one of my colleages. He remarked how scary it was that so many American politicians were calling for war with Russia (with Hillary Clinton leading the pack?). I remarked how it seemed so strange that many of these hawks never fought in a war even when they had ample opportunity in their youth (Vietnam).

animalogic , says: February 8, 2019 at 8:05 am GMT
Fred is absolutely correct: the current administration is pathological & insane.

However, it's worth remembering that their insane behavior is based on the same Imperial goals that have been in play since at least 1945.

The crazy irresponsibility of Trump's foreign policy is entirely counter productive & inexcusable, however it's symptomatic of a slowly swelling sense of unconscious desperation. The reality, the feeling of unconstrained power the US experienced in the 90's & naughties has gone. The US has slowly woken to the nightmare possibility of real peer competitors.

China & Russia are real novelties -- & as such, damn scary. Taken together, they are near equal military & economic rivals of the US.

To US elites this is almost incomprehensible. How ? How did China suddenly become leaders in cutting edge tech? How did Russia suddenly appear with hypersonsic missiles ?

It's impossible ! Given the already existing moral & psychological inadequacies of individual Trump team members, insanity & juvenile behavior are fairly predictable responses .

MikeatMikedotMike , says: February 8, 2019 at 7:20 pm GMT
The fact that you left Bill Clinton off this list (you know, the president that fired Tomahawk missiles into the country of Sudan to take attention away from the Lewinsky hearings, sexually assaulted subordinate women for decades, and spent time banging underage sex slaves via the Lolita Express, pardons a bunch of Puerto Rican terrorists in 2000 to help swing PR votes to his bag of shit wife in the New York Senate race and was, oh yeah, a draft dodger) is pathetic even for you , Kiko. I guess NAFTA makes up for all that rapey shit, huh?

And when can we expect a detailed critique of the Mexican political climate, Kiko? Is it still never? A little too worried about that knock on the door if you bring up all the inconvenient murder going on down there, and all of the gutless politicians and law enforcement that turn a blind eye to it, you insufferable hypocrite?

Reactionary Utopian , says: February 8, 2019 at 10:31 pm GMT

No administration of any party, stripe, or ideology has ever pushed to aggressively toward war with so many countries. These people are not right in the head.

Now there, I will certainly agree with Mr. Reed, but in a qualified way. The Trump administration is somewhat more warlike and interventionist in its talk than previous ones have been. But, so far, all talk (except for its repudiation of the Iran nuclear deal, which is ominous).

Also, even in terms of the bellicose hot air, the current regime's increase over its predecessors is a matter of degree, not of kind. Even the increase itself I'd call incremental.

Also, I wrote, "So far, all talk." That doesn't mean I'm not concerned. As the man who jumped off a skyscraper said, when passing the 2nd floor, "All right so far!"

Truth , says: February 9, 2019 at 1:28 am GMT
@NoseytheDuke My friend, I understand what you are saying, but at some point the wise man stops playing checkers on the chessboard.

There is, functionally, no difference between The Donna and Cackles.

riversedge , says: February 9, 2019 at 1:43 am GMT
So what's the difference between Trump's neocons and the neocons who would have run Hillary? Nothing. There is no one more chicken hawkish, and slavish to Israel than Hillary.
Asagirian , says: February 9, 2019 at 2:11 am GMT
Until Bush II, those governing were never lunatics. Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Clinton had their defects,

Obama came AFTER Bush II and continued his Zionist-supremacist policies.

Asagirian , says: February 9, 2019 at 2:14 am GMT
Give Trump some credit. He tried to ease ties with Russia and end war in Syria. But look how the Jewish supremacists in media and Deep State goons all jumped on him. And almost no one in the Establishment came to his side.

Obama and his goons pushed the Russia Collusion Hoax. Obama and Bush II have more in common.

Trump tried but he's seen turned pussy.

ThreeCranes , says: February 9, 2019 at 3:15 pm GMT
@Sean wages a trade war against China intended to prevent its economic progress

"About time too. Nixon deciding the US would getting pally with China was a hostile act as far as Russia was concerned."

Exactly right. Glad someone else remembers things as they were. Getting pally with China will turn out to be the most disastrous mistake the USA has ever made in foreign policy.

Arrogantly thinking that we could make them our junior partners we have given or sold them everything which made us great. Our industries, technology, patents, education at premier research institutions etc. Now, utilizing everything we provided them, they will surpass and then suppress us. Meanwhile our ignorant politicians, blinded by traitorous, dual-citizen economists and bankers who promised a new economy based upon finance and "information", plod along, single file, to oblivion.

KenH , says: February 9, 2019 at 9:50 pm GMT

Start with the head cheese, Donald Trump, profoundly ignorant, narcissistic, a real-estate con man who danced just out of reach of the law. His supporters will explode in fury at this.

Most of us knew that Trump is a flawed man but were willing to overlook that because he was the only one talking sense on immigration and offering solutions that would benefit white America. Of course, after two years Trump has been all tweet and little action on immigration and appears poised to sell out out to Javanka, Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers and the Business Roundtable.

He's narcissistic and a bit of a con man but not profoundly ignorant. Profoundly ignorant people don't become billionaires and will themselves to the presidency.

Trump has done a 180 on his campaign foreign policy and filled his administration with Israel first neocon retreads from the George W. Bush era instead of America firsters. People like Bolton deserve all the hate and condemnation heaped upon them by Fredrico.

Fredrico just hates Trump because he doesn't worship Mexico and Mexicans like Fredrico does and spoke the truth about many Mexican illegals being predisposed to violent crime. Fredrico and his hispandering Bobbsey twin Ron Unz get easily triggered at the slightest criticism of hispanics, even if based in fact, and fly into a foaming at the mouth rage.

Carroll Price , says: February 10, 2019 at 1:29 am GMT
@KenH The first priority of any president is staying alive, which probably explains why every US president, including Donald Trump ends up doing the exact opposite of what they promise on the campaign trail. As to Trump's neocon advisors, I suspect they were appointed by the deep state, with him having no say in the matter.

[Feb 10, 2019] Can Elizabeth Warren reclaim her role as Democrats' top foil to Trump? by Sabrina Siddiqui in

Notable quotes:
"... The job paid minimum wage and exposed Warren firsthand to the topics that would later define her career: the power of corporations and the effects of bankruptcy on the American consumer. ..."
"... Warren, who had been sharply critical of Clinton in part over her ties to Wall Street, ultimately chose not to challenge her for the Democratic party's nomination and endorsed the former secretary of state's campaign. It was also during this time that Warren proved among the few capable of getting under then candidate Donald Trump's skin. ..."
"... At the same time, Warren became a top target of conservatives and Trump himself. The president has repeatedly mocked Warren with the derisive nickname "Pocahontas" – including at an event intended to honor Native Americans. ..."
"... Republicans first tried to push the notion that Warren used her Native American ancestry to further her career in the 2012 Senate race, homing in on a single questionnaire in which she claimed mixed ancestry. ..."
"... But the matter did not end there. The Washington Post published a story revealing Warren listed her race as "American Indian" while seeking a Texas bar registration card in 1986. ..."
"... Warren's platform includes the single-payer healthcare system Medicare for All, debt-free college tuition and anti-corruption legislation designed to restore accountability in government. She is also poised to unveil a proposal that would impose a wealth tax on Americans worth over $50m. ..."
Feb 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Warren's official entry into the race has differed sharply from when she captured widespread liberal enthusiasm in her unlikely bid for the Senate seven years ago.

The two-term senator will join a crowded Democratic primary field with no clear frontrunner – and several contenders jockeying to claim the progressive mantle that she aspires to grasp. She has also found herself contending with a lingering controversy for previously identifying as Native American over the course of nearly two decades.

The question now is whether Warren, who moved early to build an expansive field operation in anticipation of her presidential run, can overcome early setbacks and reclaim her role as the Democratic party's top foil to Donald Trump.

divider

Born to middle-class parents in Norman, Oklahoma , Warren has spoken candidly about how her family's livelihood was upended when her father's heart attack forced him out of work. Addressing crowds across the country, Warren often recalls how her late mother – determined not to lose the family's home – "pulled on her best dress" and got her first paying job at the department store Sears.

The job paid minimum wage and exposed Warren firsthand to the topics that would later define her career: the power of corporations and the effects of bankruptcy on the American consumer.

Her research in bankruptcy law – and the impact on the average person's medical bills, mortgage payments and other installments – led Warren to become a leading expert on the subject and rise in the academia world.

"These are the issues she still cares about," said Charles Fried, a professor at Harvard Law School who helped recruit Warren to its faculty.

"I think she is extraordinary for this reason, that she got into politics because she cared about some issues. She didn't get into politics because she wanted to be in office and then tried to figure out what issues she cared about."

Warren cultivated a profile as a populist firebrand against the backdrop of the Great Recession, earning the ire of Wall Street by spearheading the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – an agency established under the Obama administration as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill of 2010.

Upon being passed over to head the agency she helped create, Warren decided to continue the fight from within the government, embarking on a campaign to win back the late senator and liberal icon Ted Kennedy's seat from the Republican incumbent, Scott Brown, in the high-profile 2012 Massachusetts Senate race.

Roughly $70m was spent on the bitterly waged contest, which catapulted Warren to the national stage.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Elizabeth Warren speaks during day two of the Democratic national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, on 5 September 2012. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The race also saw Warren cement herself as a leader of the burgeoning progressive movement within the Democratic party; branding the choice before voters as "Wall Street versus you", Warren viewed the election as an opportunity to hand a major defeat to what she once dubbed as "the largest lobbying force ever assembled on the face of the earth".

Following her victory, Warren's profile grew so rapidly that speculation swiftly emerged over a potential White House run in 2016, despite the inevitability of Hillary Clinton's candidacy. A group of progressives even mounted a #DraftWarren campaign.

Warren, who had been sharply critical of Clinton in part over her ties to Wall Street, ultimately chose not to challenge her for the Democratic party's nomination and endorsed the former secretary of state's campaign. It was also during this time that Warren proved among the few capable of getting under then candidate Donald Trump's skin.

After Trump derided Clinton as a "nasty woman", Warren famously riffed: "Get this, Donald. Nasty women are tough, nasty women are smart and nasty women vote, and on November 8, we nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever."

The 2016 presidential election did not, however, produce the groundswell of unified opposition to Trump that Democrats had hoped for. Instead, it left the party in search of a clear leader to fill the void left by Obama's departure from the White House.

For Warren, it looked as though her moment had arrived.

In the early days of the Trump administration, Warren quickly emerged as the face of the Democratic opposition, matching the president's tweets with sharp ripostes of her own and holding his cabinet nominees to account when they appeared for consideration before congressional committees.

During the confirmation process for the former attorney general Jeff Sessions, Warren famously read a letter written 30 years prior by Coretta Scott King, in which the widow of Dr Martin Luther King Jr warned of Sessions' civil rights record from the time of his nomination for a federal judgeship.

Silenced by Republicans mid-speech on the Senate floor, Warren read the letter on Facebook Live. The hashtag #LetLizSpeak trended on Twitter and the phrase "Nevertheless, she persisted" was coined.

At the same time, Warren became a top target of conservatives and Trump himself. The president has repeatedly mocked Warren with the derisive nickname "Pocahontas" – including at an event intended to honor Native Americans.

Although Warren long ignored the president's taunts, she took the unusual step of addressing the issue head on in October by making public the results of a DNA test revealing that she did, in fact, have some Native American ancestry.

Rather than putting the topic to rest, Warren's move was rebuked by some tribal leaders, who felt it politicized their identity, and reignited the story.

Republicans first tried to push the notion that Warren used her Native American ancestry to further her career in the 2012 Senate race, homing in on a single questionnaire in which she claimed mixed ancestry.

An exhaustive investigation by the Boston Globe found no evidence that Warren benefited from doing so, and nearly every living Harvard law professor involved in her hiring has said it was not a factor in their votes to offer her a tenured position.

"When we brought her to Harvard, no one had a clue that she thought of herself as Native American," said Laurence Tribe, the school's professor of constitutional law.

"I think she's had an unfair rap," he added. "I don't think it's the case that she ever exploited her family's background or ancestry in a way that some people seem to think she did."

The Cherokee nation, one of the groups that was critical of Warren, said she privately apologized to to tribal leaders.

But the matter did not end there. The Washington Post published a story revealing Warren listed her race as "American Indian" while seeking a Texas bar registration card in 1986. Warren apologized once more, telling reporters: "I'm not a tribal citizen.

"My apology is an apology for not having been more sensitive about tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty. I really want to underline the point, tribes and only tribes determine tribal citizenship."

Warren remains a popular figure in the Democratic party and was easily re-elected to a second Senate term in the 2018 midterm elections.

Even so, she received fewer votes in her home state than Charlie Baker, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, prompting Warren's hometown paper to urge the senator to reconsider a presidential bid.

"While Warren won re-election, her margin of victory in November suggests there's a ceiling on her popularity," the Boston Globe editorial board wrote. "Baker garnered more votes than she did in a state that is supposed to be a Democratic haven."

She's hard-edged, not personally, but ideologically. She takes very sharp and controversial positions

Barney Frank

"While Warren is an effective and impactful senator with an important voice nationally, she has become a divisive figure," the board added. "A unifying voice is what the country needs now after the polarizing politics of Donald Trump." Those close to Warren dismissed the editorial as having more to do with the personal biographies and inclinations of those who sit on the board. "She's hard-edged, not personally, but ideologically," said Frank. "She takes very sharp and controversial positions."

"So, yeah, they're going to be people who are unhappy with her."

More challenging for Warren, friends and former colleagues said, would be the task of distinguishing herself within a diverse field of Democratic candidates that includes at least three of her Senate colleagues and a record number of women seeking the party's nomination.

Warren's platform includes the single-payer healthcare system Medicare for All, debt-free college tuition and anti-corruption legislation designed to restore accountability in government. She is also poised to unveil a proposal that would impose a wealth tax on Americans worth over $50m.

Fried, who served as solicitor general under Ronald Reagan, said he disagreed with some of the more expansive economic policies touted by Warren. But her greatest asset as a candidate, he acknowledged, would be to approach the campaign with the same steely resolve to elevate the middle class that endeared her to voters seven years ago.

Although he is only occasionally in touch with Warren as she embarks on what will undoubtedly be a grueling campaign for America's highest office, Fried recalled recently sending Warren a lengthy article about capitalism and income inequality.

To his surprise, he received a response from Warren 10 days later. She had not only taken the time to read the article, but highlighted a portion that stood out to her. "How many presidential candidates would do that?" Fried asked. In her email, Warren also recounted to her old colleague how not very long ago they sat together on a flight discussing the prospects of a Clinton presidency. That day never came to fruition, Warren noted. "I don't know what lies ahead," she added. "But I know what I'm fighting for."

[Feb 10, 2019] 'Rigged system': will Warren's rage against the rich win over 2020 voters? by Josh Wood

Feb 09, 2019 | -> www.theguardian.com

While controversy around her heritage lingers, voters call the Democrat's fight against economic injustice 'inspiring' On a cold, blustery January day in 1912, immigrant women walked out of the Everett Mill in the -> Massachusetts factory town of Lawrence demanding higher wages and better working conditions. Mill owners and city government responded in a swift and heavy-handed manner; local militias and police forces were called to the streets. Protesters died. Many more were arrested.

On a cold, blustery February day 117 years later, the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren stood in front of Everett Mill -> to announce her candidacy for president of the United States , channeling the spirit of those women as she told her supporters that they were in a fight for their lives against a rigged system that favors the rich and powerful.

ss="rich-link"> Why women 2020 candidates face 'likability' question even as they make history Read more

"These workers – led by women – didn't have much. Not even a common language. Nevertheless, they persisted," she said. "The story of Lawrence is about how real change happens in America. It's a story about power – our power – when we fight together."

For Warren, who grew up in an economically struggling Oklahoma household and who first rose to mainstream prominence by handing out practical financial advice to American families, the word "fight" is central to her platform and political ethos – it was a word peppered throughout her speech.

But on Saturday, she made clear that hers was not just a fight against president Donald Trump, but against a system she described as one where the rich, privileged and powerful oppress the rest of the country.

-> Facebook Twitter Pinterest Supporters in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

"The man in the White House is not the cause of what is broken, he is just the latest – and most extreme – symptom of what's gone wrong in America, a product of a rigged system that props up the rich and the powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else," she said. "So once he's gone, we can't pretend that all of this never happened."

The backdrop of the mill, where the so-called Bread and Roses strikes originated, was symbolic. But so too was the choice of the modern day city of Lawrence, which is one of those places in America that has felt left behind in recent times. To many in New England, Lawrence is synonymous with crime, drugs and poverty. The Republican governors of Maine and New Hampshire have invoked the city's name when laying blame for the opioid crises in their states. As was the case at the time of the strikes, Lawrence is a working class city of immigrants, with a population that is about 80% Latino. It is a city where wealth is nearby, but out of reach for many.

Sebastian Brown, 31, moved to Lawrence five years ago. While he had yet to choose a candidate to support, he was excited by Warren's message and was happy Warren chose the town as the site of her announcement.

ass="inline-garnett-quote inline-icon ">

I think we need a woman president and I think it will be the fight of our lives

Vicki Ward, rally attendee

"This is a working class city. And I think her – and Bernie [Sanders] – are running on platforms that speak to the working class and how they're being screwed over by the rich and powerful," he said. "And I think she's a great messenger for it."

While there was optimism about Warren's candidacy at her rally, she enters an already crowded Democratic field amid -> r enewed controversy over her past identification as Native American.

For years now – since even before he was president – -> Trump has needled Warren on the issue , calling her "Pocahontas". He and others accuse Warren of falsely presenting herself as Native American to gain unfair advantages in life.

The controversy was re-ignited last week when the Washington Post -> published Warren's 1986 registration card for the Texas State Bar. In it, she listed "American Indian" as her race.

Warren has now apologised repeatedly for identifying as Native American, saying in recent days that she "should have been more mindful of the distinction with tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty". She still maintains that Native American ancestry was part of her family's story passed down to her.

-> Facebook Twitter Pinterest Elizabeth Warren called Donald Trump the 'most extreme' symptom of a broken system. Photograph: Cj Gunther/EPA

How damaging the controversy will be remains to be see. Warren enters a diverse Democratic field where other candidates belong to minority groups: New Jersey senator -> Cory Booker is African American ; -> California senator Kamala Harris was born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father. -> Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is both the first Hindu and first Samoan-American member of Congress, and the former San Antonio mayor -> Julián Castro is Latino . When the Democratic race gets heated, Warren's portrayal of race could prove to be a point of attack.

Peter Devlin, a 56-year-old dentist from the nearby town of North Andover, said he was at the rally to hear what Warren had to say but said that the Native American controversy "is going to be a problem" for her campaign.

"I voted for her as senator, but I'm concerned about her electability," he said. "It's going to be a tough run. She's got a bit of baggage and she's so sort of cliche progressive liberal that I think there's a lot of America that's not up for that. But I want to hear what she's up to."

ss="rich-link"> Stacey Abrams on the ticket? Democrat's star turn fuels talk for 2020 Read more

However, other attendees, like 64-year-old Vicki Ward, who drove two hours to the event from Vermont, were ready to throw their support behind Warren on the first day of the senator's presidential campaign.

"I think she's got the qualities that we need," she said. "I think we need a woman president and I think it will be the fight of our lives."

Maryann Johnson, who came to Warren's announcement from New Hampshire, also said she was already sold on Warren.

"I basically agreed with everything she said. We need to have more equality, there needs to be less corruption in government," she said. "She's inspiring."

Topics -> Elizabeth Warren -> US elections 2020 -> Massachusetts -> Democrats -> US politics analysis Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

[Feb 10, 2019] US to Use All Tools to Stop President Maduro's Revenue Streams - Bolton

Feb 10, 2019 | sputniknews.com

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States will continue to use all measures available to stop Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's revenue streams, National Security Advisor John Bolton said in a statement on Friday.

"The US will continue to use all tools to separate Maduro [and] his cronies from money that rightfully belongs to the people of Venezuela", Bolton said via Twitter. "Those who continue to plunder the resources of Venezuela & stand against its people will not be forgotten".

He also called on Russia and other nations to recognise Juan Guaido as Venezuelan President.

Bolton added that countries and companies buying Venezuelan oil must take steps to ensure that President Nicolas Maduro and his government cannot access and divert the payments for their own use. In late January, the United States blocked all assets of Venezuela's state energy giant PDVSA in its jurisdiction and imposed a ban on deals with the company. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained the United States was taking care of the PDVSA in the interests of the Venezuelan people and also protecting its own market.

On January 23, opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela after the opposition-controlled National Assembly claimed Maduro has usurped power. The United States and some of its allies have recognised Guaido as interim president.

Russia, China, Mexico and several other countries have said they recognise Maduro as Venezuela's only legitimate president.

Maduro has accused the United States of orchestrating a coup and informed the US of his decision to sever diplomatic relations. Washington, however, has refused to withdraw its diplomatic mission personnel from the Latin American country.

[Feb 10, 2019] US Contacting Venezuelan Military Officials Directly to Urge Defections - Report - Sputnik International

Notable quotes:
"... The US State Department announced last month that Washington froze some $7 billion in assets belonging to Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA in order to make some of that money available to Guaido and his team. ..."
"... Maduro, after launching a signature-gathering campaign against alleged US interference, has repeatedly stressed his sentiment that the main objective behind Washington's interest in the political outcome in Venezuela is the nation's oil reserves, said to the largest in the world. ..."
Feb 10, 2019 | sputniknews.com

The US intelligence community is directly communicating with members of Venezuela's military in attempts to convince them to abandon beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro while also considering additional sanctions to ramp up the pressure, a senior White House official divulged to Reuters. Despite the fact that only a few senior officers have to date abandoned Maduro, the Trump administration expects additional military personnel to jump ship.

In late January, Juan Guaido, the head of the opposition-led National Assembly, proclaimed himself the South American nation's interim president, in a move swiftly recognized by the US and a handful of other countries.

"We believe these to be those first couple pebbles before we start really seeing bigger rocks rolling down the hill," the unnamed White House official speaking on a condition of anonymity, told Reuters. "We're still having conversations with members of the former Maduro regime, with military members, although those conversations are very, very limited."

The unnamed official did not provide additional details regarding what form motivation was being offered to top military officials to gain their support, according to Reuters.

Many members of the Venezuelan military remain loyal to Maduro, mostly in fear of being targeted by the embattled leader. To convince those on-the-fence members to abandon Maduro, the US must offer something that makes a turncoat move worthwhile, noted Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas think tank in Washington.

"It depends on what they're offering," Farnsworth told Reuters. "Are there incentives built into these contacts that will at least cause people to question their loyalty to the regime?"

A few European nations have joined the Trump administration in its support of Guaido as the interim president, although those nations professing political support have not taken the additional step of backing US sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil giant PDVSA as well as other restrictions on financial transactions imposed by Washington.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro © AP Photo / Ariana Cubillos Montevideo Calls Venezuela's Guaido 'More Non-Legitimate' Than Maduro's Gov't

The US State Department announced last month that Washington froze some $7 billion in assets belonging to Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA in order to make some of that money available to Guaido and his team.

According to the US official who spoke anonymously to Reuters, the Trump administration is also considering imposing sanctions on Cuban military and intelligence officials who are thought to be assisting Maduro.

Maduro, after launching a signature-gathering campaign against alleged US interference, has repeatedly stressed his sentiment that the main objective behind Washington's interest in the political outcome in Venezuela is the nation's oil reserves, said to the largest in the world.

[Feb 10, 2019] Pussy John Bolton and His Codpiece Mustache by Fred Reed

We have until recently never had government as aggressive, reckless, or psychiatrically fascinating as now.
Appointment on Bolton essentially confirms Fred Reed diagnose of Trump: "profoundly ignorant, narcissistic, a real-estate con man who danced just out of reach of the law.
Notable quotes:
"... I remarked how it seemed so strange that many of these hawks never fought in a war even when they had ample opportunity in their youth ..."
"... The crazy irresponsibility of Trump's foreign policy is entirely counter productive & inexcusable, however it's symptomatic of a slowly swelling sense of unconscious desperation. The reality, the feeling of unconstrained power the US experienced in the 90's & naughties has gone. The US has slowly woken to the nightmare possibility of real peer competitors. ..."
Feb 10, 2019 | www.unz.com

American government has become a collection of sordid and dangerous clowns. It was not always thus. Until Bush II, those governing were never lunatics. Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Clinton had their defects, were sometimes corrupt, and could be disagreed with on many grounds. They weren't crazy. Today's administration would seem unwholesome in a New York bus station at three in the morning. They are not normal American politicians.

In particular they seem to be pushing for war with Iran, China, Russia, and Venezuela. And -- this is important -- their behavior is not a matter of liberals catfighting with conservatives. All former presidents carefully avoided war with the Soviet Union, which carefully avoided war with America.

It was Reagan, a conservative and responsible president, who negotiated the INF treaty, to eliminate short-fuse nuclear weapons from Europe. By contrast, Trump is scrapping it. Pat Buchanan, the most conservative man I have met, strongly opposes aggression against Russia. The problem with the current occupants of the White House is not that they are conservatives, if they are. It is that they are nuts.

Donald the Cockatoo

Start with the head cheese, Donald Trump, profoundly ignorant, narcissistic, a real-estate con man who danced just out of reach of the law. His supporters will explode in fury at this. All politics being herd politics, the population has coalesced into herds fanatically pro-Trump and fanatically anti-Trump. Yet Trump's past is not a secret. Well-documented biographies describe his behavior in detail, but his supporters don't read them. The following is a bit long, but worth reading.

From The Making of Donald Trump , Johnston, David Cay. (p. 23). Melville House. Kindle Edition.

"I always get even," Trump writes in the opening line of that chapter. He then launches into an attack on the same woman he had denounced in Colorado. Trump recruited the unnamed woman "from her government job where she was making peanuts," her career going nowhere. "I decided to make her somebody. I gave her a great job at the Trump Organization, and over time she became powerful in real estate. She bought a beautiful home.

"When Trump was in financial trouble in the early nineties .."I asked her to make a phone call to an extremely close friend of hers who held a powerful position at a big bank and would have done what she asked. She said, "Donald, I can't do that." Instead of accepting that the woman felt that such a call would be inappropriate, Trump fired her. She started her own business. Trump writes that her business failed. "I was really happy when I found that out," he says.

"She had turned on me after I did so much to help her. I had asked her to do me a favor in return, and she turned me down flat. She ended up losing her home. Her husband, who was only in it for the money, walked out on her and I was glad. Over the years many people have called me asking for a recommendation for her. I always gave her bad recommendation. I can't stomach disloyalty. ..and now I go out of my way to make her life miserable."

All that because (if she exists) she declined to engage in corruption for the Donald. That is your President. A draft dodger, a pampered rich kid, and Ivy brat (Penn, Wharton). This increasingly is a pattern at the top: Ivy, money, no military service.

Pussy John Bolton

A particularly loathsome sort of politician is one who dodges his country's wars when of military age, and then wants to send others to die in later wars. This is Pussy John, arch hawk, coward, amoral, bully, willing to kill any number while he prances martially in Washington. Speaking as one who carried a rifle in Viet Nam, I would like to confine this fierce darling for life in the bottom of a public latrine in Uganda.

Pussy John, an Ivy flower (Yale) wrote in a reunion books that, during the 1969 Vietnam War draft lottery, "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost." In an interview, Bolton explained that he decided to avoid service in Vietnam because "by the time I was about to graduate in 1970, it was clear to me that opponents of the Vietnam War had made it certain we could not prevail, and that I had no great interest in going there to have Teddy Kennedy give it back to the people I might die to take it away from."

This same Pussy John, unwilling to risk his valuable being in a war he could have attended, now wants war with Iran, Venezuela, Russia, Syria, and Afghanistan. In these wars millions would die while he waggled his silly lip broom in the West Wing. His truculence is pathological and dangerous.

Here is PJ on Iran: which has not harmed and does not threaten America: "We think the government is under real pressure and it's our intention to squeeze them very hard," Bolton said Tuesday in Singapore. "As the British say, 'squeeze them until the pips squeak'."

How very brave of him. He apparently feels sadistic delight at starving Venezuelans, inciting civil war, and ruining the lives of millions who have done nothing wrong. Whence the weird hostility of this empty jockstrap, the lack of humanity? Forgot his Midiol? Venezuela of course has done nothing to the US and couldn't if it wanted to. America under the Freak Show is destroying another country simply because it doesn't meekly obey. While PJ gloats.

Bush II

Another rich kid and Yalie, none too bright, amoral as the rest, another draft dodger, (he hid in the Air National Guard.) who got to the White House on daddy's name recognition. Not having the balls to fight in his own war, he presided over the destruction of Iraq and the killing of hundreds of thousands, for no reason. (Except oil, Israel, and Empire. Collectively, these amount to no reason.) He then had the effrontery to pose on the deck of an aircraft carrier and say, "Mission accomplished." You know, just like Alexander the Great. Amoral. No empathy. What a man.

The striking pattern of the Ivy League avoiding the war confirmed then, as it does now, that our present rulers regard the rest of America as beings of a lower order. These armchair John Waynes might have called them "deplorables," though Hillary, another Yalie bowwow hawk, had not yet made the contempt explicit. This was the attitude of Pussy John, Bushy-Bushy Two, and Cockatoo Don. Compare this with the Falklands War in which Prince Andrew did what a country's leadership should do, but ours doesn't..

Wikipedia: "He (Prince Andrew) holds the rank of commander and the honorary rank of Vice Admiral (as of February 2015) in the Royal Navy, in which he served as an active-duty helicopter pilot and instructor and as the captain of a warship. He saw active service during the Falklands War, flying on multiple missions including anti-surface warfare, Exocet missile decoy, and casualty evacuation"

The Brits still have class. Compare Andrew with the contents of the Great Double-Wide on Pennsylvania Avernus.

Gina

A measure of the moral degradation of America: It is the only country that openly and proudly engages in torture. Many countries do it, of course. We admit it, and maintain torture prisons around the globe. Now we have a major government official, Gina Haspel, head of the CIA, a known sadist. "Bloody Gina." Is this who represents us? Would any other country in the civilized world put a sadist publicly in office?

Think of Gina waterboarding some guy, or standing around and getting off on it. You don't torture people unless you like it. The guy is tied down, coughing, choking, screaming, begging, desperate, drowning, and Gina pours more water. The poor bastard vomits, chokes. Gina adds a little more water .

What kind of woman would do this? Well, Gina's kind obviously. Does she then run off to her office and lock the door for half an hour? Maybe it starts early. One imagines her as a little girl, playing with her dolls. Cheerleader Barbie, Nurse Barbie, Klaus Barbie .

Michael Pompeo

Another pathologically aggressive chickenhawk. In a piece in Foreign Affairs he describes Iran as a "rogue state that America must eliminate for the sake of all that is good. Note that Pompeo presides over a foreign policy seeking to destroy Venezuela's economy and threatens military invasion, though Venezuela is no danger to the US and is not America's business; embargoes Cuba, which in no danger to the US and is not America's business; seeks to destroy Iran's economy, though Iran is no danger to the US and none of Americas business; sanctions Europe and meddles in its politics; sanctions Russia, which is not a danger to the United States, in an attempt to destroy its economy, pushes NATO up to Russia's borders, abandons the INF arms-control treaty and establishes a Space Command which will mean nuclear weapons on hair trigger in orbit, starts another nuclear arms race; wages a trade war against China intended to prevent its economic progress; sanctions North Korea; continues a seventeen-year policy of killing Afghans for no discernible purpose; wages a war against Syria; bombs Somalis; maintains unwanted occupation forces in Iraq; increasingly puts military forces in Africa; supports regimes with ghastly human-rights records such as Saudi Arabia and Israel; and looks for a war with China in the South China Sea, which is no more America's business than the Gulf of Mexico is China's.

But Pompeo is not a loon, oh no, and America is not a rogue state. Perish forfend.

Nikki Haley

A negligible twit -- I choose my vowel carefully -- but characterized, like Trump, PJ, and Pompeo Mattis

"After being promoted to lieutenant general, Mattis took command of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. On February 1, 2005, speaking at a forum in San Diego, he said "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling."

Perhaps in air-to-air combat you want someone who regards killing as fun, or in an amphibious assault. But in a position to make policy? Can you image Dwight Eisenhower talking about the fun of squaring a man's brains across the ground?

The Upshot

We have until recently never had government as aggressive, reckless, or psychiatrically fascinating as now. Again, it is not a matter of Republicans and Democrats. No administration of any party, stripe, or ideology has ever pushed to aggressively toward war with so many countries. These people are not right in the head.


Gene Su , says: February 8, 2019 at 3:07 am GMT

I remember in high school one of my teachers stating how weird it seems that it would be the leadership of the US military who would call for the American government to intervene less in the affairs of other countries and to not be so quick to use military force. This was, of course, decades ago.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with one of my colleages. He remarked how scary it was that so many American politicians were calling for war with Russia (with Hillary Clinton leading the pack?). I remarked how it seemed so strange that many of these hawks never fought in a war even when they had ample opportunity in their youth (Vietnam).

animalogic , says: February 8, 2019 at 8:05 am GMT
Fred is absolutely correct: the current administration is pathological & insane.

However, it's worth remembering that their insane behavior is based on the same Imperial goals that have been in play since at least 1945.

The crazy irresponsibility of Trump's foreign policy is entirely counter productive & inexcusable, however it's symptomatic of a slowly swelling sense of unconscious desperation. The reality, the feeling of unconstrained power the US experienced in the 90's & naughties has gone. The US has slowly woken to the nightmare possibility of real peer competitors.

China & Russia are real novelties -- & as such, damn scary. Taken together, they are near equal military & economic rivals of the US.

To US elites this is almost incomprehensible. How ? How did China suddenly become leaders in cutting edge tech? How did Russia suddenly appear with hypersonsic missiles ?

It's impossible ! Given the already existing moral & psychological inadequacies of individual Trump team members, insanity & juvenile behavior are fairly predictable responses .

MikeatMikedotMike , says: February 8, 2019 at 7:20 pm GMT
The fact that you left Bill Clinton off this list (you know, the president that fired Tomahawk missiles into the country of Sudan to take attention away from the Lewinsky hearings, sexually assaulted subordinate women for decades, and spent time banging underage sex slaves via the Lolita Express, pardons a bunch of Puerto Rican terrorists in 2000 to help swing PR votes to his bag of shit wife in the New York Senate race and was, oh yeah, a draft dodger) is pathetic even for you , Kiko. I guess NAFTA makes up for all that rapey shit, huh?

And when can we expect a detailed critique of the Mexican political climate, Kiko? Is it still never? A little too worried about that knock on the door if you bring up all the inconvenient murder going on down there, and all of the gutless politicians and law enforcement that turn a blind eye to it, you insufferable hypocrite?

Reactionary Utopian , says: February 8, 2019 at 10:31 pm GMT

No administration of any party, stripe, or ideology has ever pushed to aggressively toward war with so many countries. These people are not right in the head.

Now there, I will certainly agree with Mr. Reed, but in a qualified way. The Trump administration is somewhat more warlike and interventionist in its talk than previous ones have been. But, so far, all talk (except for its repudiation of the Iran nuclear deal, which is ominous).

Also, even in terms of the bellicose hot air, the current regime's increase over its predecessors is a matter of degree, not of kind. Even the increase itself I'd call incremental.

Also, I wrote, "So far, all talk." That doesn't mean I'm not concerned. As the man who jumped off a skyscraper said, when passing the 2nd floor, "All right so far!"

Truth , says: February 9, 2019 at 1:28 am GMT
@NoseytheDuke My friend, I understand what you are saying, but at some point the wise man stops playing checkers on the chessboard.

There is, functionally, no difference between The Donna and Cackles.

riversedge , says: February 9, 2019 at 1:43 am GMT
So what's the difference between Trump's neocons and the neocons who would have run Hillary? Nothing. There is no one more chicken hawkish, and slavish to Israel than Hillary.
Asagirian , says: February 9, 2019 at 2:11 am GMT
Until Bush II, those governing were never lunatics. Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Clinton had their defects,

Obama came AFTER Bush II and continued his Zionist-supremacist policies.

Asagirian , says: February 9, 2019 at 2:14 am GMT
Give Trump some credit. He tried to ease ties with Russia and end war in Syria. But look how the Jewish supremacists in media and Deep State goons all jumped on him. And almost no one in the Establishment came to his side.

Obama and his goons pushed the Russia Collusion Hoax. Obama and Bush II have more in common.

Trump tried but he's seen turned pussy.

ThreeCranes , says: February 9, 2019 at 3:15 pm GMT
@Sean wages a trade war against China intended to prevent its economic progress

"About time too. Nixon deciding the US would getting pally with China was a hostile act as far as Russia was concerned."

Exactly right. Glad someone else remembers things as they were. Getting pally with China will turn out to be the most disastrous mistake the USA has ever made in foreign policy.

Arrogantly thinking that we could make them our junior partners we have given or sold them everything which made us great. Our industries, technology, patents, education at premier research institutions etc. Now, utilizing everything we provided them, they will surpass and then suppress us. Meanwhile our ignorant politicians, blinded by traitorous, dual-citizen economists and bankers who promised a new economy based upon finance and "information", plod along, single file, to oblivion.

KenH , says: February 9, 2019 at 9:50 pm GMT

Start with the head cheese, Donald Trump, profoundly ignorant