Softpanorama

Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Skepticism and critical thinking is not panacea, but can help to understand the world better

American neocons delusional attempt to secure global hegemony

From Jesse's Café Américain -- Sitting On Top Of the World. April 02, 2015

News Neoconservatism Recommended Links American Imperialism Neocolonialism American Exceptionalism Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA
Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Media-Military-Industrial Complex New American Militarism  Demonization of Putin The Deep State Predator state  Economic costs of American Exceptionalism
Diplomacy by deception  Terrorism as a smokesreen for National Security State implementation Narcissism as Key American Value Right to protect Corporatism National Security State Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on neoliberalism
Color revolutions  "F*ck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place Syria civil war Civil war in Ukraine Ukraine: From EuroMaydan to EuroAnschluss Civil war in Ukraine Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair
Robert Kagan Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton Obama: a yet another Neocon       Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ?
Antiamericanism as a Blowback to American Empire Philippics Hyman Minsky  Machiavellism  Understanding Mayberry Machiavellians  Humor Etc
  The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells

American journalist John T. Flynn
cited from Wikipedia

Like any great country the USA is prone to creating its own empire. In this sense it is not that different from Spain, Great Britain, France, and Germany. The difference is that the USA prefer indirect methods installing puppet regimes and creating "fifth column" within the country. Like Great Britain in the past the USA pretences are global in nature as in "Sun never sets in British Empire")

U.S. global domination agenda is bipartisan. It far precedes 'neocons', as an extension of north America's 'manifest destiny' doctrine, which was transformed into U.S. finance imperialism. For a very frank discussion of US empire see https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YM_MH_Bfq5c

Internally the US dual party structure provides a clever mechanism that is directed toward reducing resistance against imperial policies. Voters are forced to support this system by endorsing one of  two basically equally jingoistic imperial candidates.

The new documents suggest that mantra 'No Rivals' that the USA neocons promote is actually a long lasting foundational trait of this republic, that precede emergence of neocons as a dominant political force. Neocons dominance in Washington just reveals US post-Soviet geostrategic agenda, including its Mideast proxy Israel's new role. According to Wikipedia (American imperialism - Wikipedia) :

Journalist Ashley Smith divides theories of the U.S. imperialism into 5 broad categories: (1) "liberal" theories, (2) "social-democratic" theories, (3) "Leninist" theories, (4) theories of "super-imperialism", and (5) "Hardt-and-Negri-ite" theories. There is also a conservative, anti-interventionist view as expressed by American journalist John T. Flynn:

The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells.[16]

A "social-democratic" theory says that imperialistic U.S. policies are the products of the excessive influence of certain sectors of U.S. business and government—the arms industry in alliance with military and political bureaucracies and sometimes other industries such as oil and finance, a combination often referred to as the "military–industrial complex". The complex is said to benefit from war profiteering and the looting of natural resources, often at the expense of the public interest.[17] The proposed solution is typically unceasing popular vigilance in order to apply counter-pressure.[18] Johnson holds a version of this view.

Alfred T. Mahan, who served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during the late 19th century, supported the notion of American imperialism in his 1890 book titled The Influence of Sea Power upon History. In chapter one Mahan argued that modern industrial nations must secure foreign markets for the purpose of exchanging goods and, consequently, they must maintain a maritime force that is capable of protecting these trade routes.page needed]

A theory of "super-imperialism" says that imperialistic U.S. policies are not driven simply by the interests of American businesses, but by the interests of the economic elites of a global alliance of developed countries. Capitalism in Europe, the U.S. and Japan has become too entangled, in this view, to permit military or geopolitical conflict between these countries, and the central conflict in modern imperialism is between the global core and the global periphery rather than between imperialist powers.

Empire

American occupation of Mexico City in 1847

Ceremonies during the annexation of the Republic of Hawaii, 1898

Following the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the idea of American imperialism was reexamined. On October 15, the cover of William Kristol's Weekly Standard carried the headline, "The Case for American Empire." Rich Lowry, editor in chief of the National Review, called for "a kind of low-grade colonialism" to topple dangerous regimes beyond Afghanistan.[20] The columnist Charles Krauthammer declared that, given complete U.S. domination "culturally, economically, technologically and militarily," people were "now coming out of the closet on the word 'empire.'"[8] The New York Times Sunday magazine cover for January 5, 2003, read "American Empire: Get Used To It."

In the book "Empire", Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri argued that "the decline of Empire has begun".[21] Hardt says the Iraq War is a classically imperialist war, and is the last gasp of a doomed strategy.[22] This new era still has colonizing power, but it has moved from national military forces based on an economy of physical goods to networked biopower based on an informational and affective economy. The U.S. is central to the development and constitution of a new global regime of international power and sovereignty, termed Empire, but is decentralized and global, and not ruled by one sovereign state; "the United States does indeed occupy a privileged position in Empire, but this privilege derives not from its similarities to the old European imperialist powers, but from its differences."[23] Hardt and Negri draw on the theories of Spinoza, Foucault, Deleuze and Italian autonomist marxists.[25]

Geographer David Harvey says there has emerged a new type of imperialism due to geographical distinctions as well as uneven levels of development.[26] He says there has emerged three new global economic and politics blocs: the United States, the European Union and Asia centered on China and verification needed] He says there are tensions between the three major blocs over resources and economic power, citing the 2003 invasion of Iraq, whose goal was to prevent rivals from controlling oil.[28] Furthermore, Harvey argues there can arise conflict within the major blocs between capitalists and politicians due to their opposing economic interests.[29] Politicians, on the other hand, live in geographically fixed locations and are, in the U.S. and Europe, accountable to the electorate. The 'new' imperialism, then, has led to an alignment of the interests of capitalists and politicians in order to prevent the rise and expansion of possible economic and political rivals from challenging America's dominance.[30]

Classics professor and war historian Victor Davis Hanson dismisses the notion of an American empire altogether, mockingly comparing it to other empires: "We do not send out proconsuls to reside over client states, which in turn impose taxes on coerced subjects to pay for the legions. Instead, American bases are predicated on contractual obligations — costly to us and profitable to their hosts. We do not see any profits in Korea, but instead accept the risk of losing almost 40,000 of our youth to ensure that Kias can flood our shores and that shaggy students can protest outside our embassy in Seoul."[31]

Factors unique to the "Age of imperialism"

A variety of factors may have coincided during the "Age of Imperialism" in the late 19th century, when the United States and the other major powers rapidly expanded their territorial possessions. Some of these are explained, or used as examples for the various perceived forms of American imperialism.

Industry and trade are two of the most prevalent factors unique to imperialism. American intervention in both Latin America and Hawaii resulted in multiple industrial investments, including the popular industry of Dole bananas. If the United States was able to annex a territory, in turn they were granted access to the trade and capital of those territories. In 1898, Senator Albert Beveridge proclaimed that an expansion of markets was absolutely necessary, "American factories are making more than the American people can use; American soil is producing more than they can consume. Fate has written our policy for us; the trade of the world must and shall be ours."[37]

U.S. foreign policy debate

 

1898 political cartoon: "Ten Thousand Miles From Tip to Tip" meaning the extension of U.S. domination (symbolized by a bald eagle) from Puerto Rico to the Philippines. The cartoon contrasts this with a map of the smaller United States 100 years earlier in 1798.

Annexation is a crucial instrument in the expansion of a nation, due to the fact that once a territory is annexed it must act within the confines of its superior counterpart. The United States Congress' ability to annex a foreign territory is explained in a report from the Congressional Committee on Foreign Relations, "If, in the judgment of Congress, such a measure is supported by a safe and wise policy, or is based upon a natural duty that we owe to the people of Hawaii, or is necessary for our national development and security, that is enough to justify annexation, with the consent of the recognized government of the country to be annexed."[38]

Prior to annexing a territory, the American government still held immense power through the various legislations passed in the late 1800s. The Platt Amendment was utilized to prevent Cuba from entering into any agreements with foreign nations, and also granted the Americans the right to build naval stations on their soil.[39] Executive officials in the American government began to determine themselves the supreme authority in matters regarding the recognition or restriction of [39]

When asked on April 28, 2003, on al-Jazeera whether the United States was "empire building," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld replied "We don't seek empires, we're not imperialistic. We never have been."[40]

However, historian Donald W. Meinig says the imperial behavior by the United States dates at least to the Louisiana Purchase, which he describes as an "imperial acquisition—imperial in the sense of the aggressive encroachment of one people upon the territory of another, resulting in the subjugation of that people to alien rule." The U.S. policies towards the Native Americans he said were "designed to remold them into a people more appropriately conformed to imperial desires."[41]

Writers and academics of the early 20th century, like Charles A. Beard, in support of non-interventionism (sometimes referred to as "isolationism"), discussed American policy as being driven by self-interested expansionism going back as far as the writing of the Constitution. Some politicians today do not agree. Pat Buchanan claims that the modern United States' drive to empire is "far removed from what the Founding Fathers had intended the young Republic to become."[42]

Andrew Bacevich argues that the U.S. did not fundamentally change its foreign policy after the Cold War, and remains focused on an effort to expand its control across the world.[43] As the surviving superpower at the end of the Cold War, the U.S. could focus its assets in new directions, the future being "up for grabs" according to former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz in 1991.[44]

In Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, the political activist Noam Chomsky argues that exceptionalism and the denials of imperialism are the result of a systematic strategy of propaganda, to "manufacture opinion" as the process has long been described in other countries.[45]

Thorton wrote that "[...]imperialism is more often the name of the emotion that reacts to a series of events than a definition of the events themselves. Where colonization finds analysts and analogies, imperialism must contend with crusaders for and against."[46] Political theorist Michael Walzer argues that the term hegemony is better than empire to describe the US's role in the world;[47] political scientist Robert Keohane agrees saying, a "balanced and nuanced analysis is not aided...by the use of the phrase 'empire' to describe United States hegemony, since 'empire' obscures rather than illuminates the differences in form of rule between the United States and other Great Powers, such as Great Britain in the 19th century or the Soviet Union in the twentieth.".[48] Emmanuel Todd assumes that USA cannot hold for long the status of mondial hegemonic power due to limited resources. Instead, USA is going to become just one of the major regional powers along with European Union, China, Russia, etc.[49]

Other political scientists, such as Daniel Nexon and Thomas Wright, argue that neither term exclusively describes foreign relations of the United States. The U.S. can be, and has been, simultaneously an empire and a hegemonic power. They claim that the general trend in U.S. foreign relations has been away from imperial modes of control.[50]

Cultural imperialism

Some critics of imperialism argue that military and cultural imperialism are interdependent. American Edward Said, one of the founders of post-colonial theory, said that,

[...], so influential has been the discourse insisting on American specialness, altruism and opportunity, that imperialism in the United States as a word or ideology has turned up only rarely and recently in accounts of the United States culture, politics and history. But the connection between imperial politics and culture in North America, and in particular in the United States, is astonishingly direct.[51]

International relations scholar David Rothkopf disagrees and argues that cultural imperialism is the innocent result of globalization, which allows access to numerous U.S. and Western ideas and products that many non-U.S. and non-Western consumers across the world voluntarily choose to consume.[52] Matthew Fraser has a similar analysis, but argues further that the global cultural influence of the U.S. is a good thing.[53]

Nationalism is the main process through which the government is able to shape public opinion. Propaganda in the media is strategically placed in order to promote a common attitude among the people. Louis A. Perez Jr. provides an example of propaganda used during the war of 1898, "We are coming, Cuba, coming; we are bound to set you free! We are coming from the mountains, from the plains and inland sea! We are coming with the wrath of God to make the Spaniards flee! We are coming, Cuba, coming; coming now!"[39]

U.S. military bases

Further information: List of United States military bases

Chalmers Johnson argues that America's version of the colony is the military base.[54] Chip Pitts argues similarly that enduring U.S. bases in Iraq suggest a vision of "Iraq as a colony".[55]

While territories such as Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and Puerto Rico remain under U.S. control, the U.S. allowed many of its overseas territories or occupations to gain independence after World War II. Examples include the Philippines (1946), the Panama canal zone (1979), Palau (1981), the Federated States of Micronesia (1986) and the Marshall Islands (1986). Most of them still have U.S. bases within their territories. In the case of Okinawa, which came under U.S. administration after the Battle of Okinawa during the Second World War, this happened despite local popular opinion.[56] As of 2003[update], the United States had bases in over 36 countries worldwide.[57]

Benevolent imperialism

Main articles: Neoconservatism and Monroe Doctrine

Political cartoon depicting Theodore Roosevelt using the Monroe Doctrine to keep European powers out of the Dominican Republic.

One of the earliest historians of American Empire, William Appleman Williams, wrote, "The routine lust for land, markets or security became justifications for noble rhetoric about prosperity, liberty and security."[58]

Max Boot defends U.S. imperialism by claiming: "U.S. imperialism has been the greatest force for good in the world during the past century. It has defeated communism and Nazism and has intervened against the Taliban and Serbian ethnic cleansing.[59]" Boot used "imperialism" to describe United States policy, not only in the early 20th century but "since at least 1803".[61] This embrace of empire is made by others neoconservatives, including British historian Paul Johnson, and writers Dinesh D'Souza and Mark Steyn. It is also made by some liberal hawks, such as political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski and Michael Ignatieff.[62]

British historian Niall Ferguson argues that the United States is an empire and believes that this is a good thing. Ferguson has drawn parallels between the British Empire and the imperial role of the United States in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, though he describes the United States' political and social structures as more like those of the Roman Empire than of the British. Ferguson argues that all of these empires have had both positive and negative aspects, but that the positive aspects of the U.S. empire will, if it learns from history and its mistakes, greatly outweigh its negative aspects.page needed]

Another point of view implies that United States expansion overseas has indeed been imperialistic, but that this imperialism is only a temporary phenomenon; a corruption of American ideals or the relic of a past historical era. Historian Samuel Flagg Bemis argues that Spanish–American War expansionism was a short-lived imperialistic impulse and "a great aberration in American history", a very different form of territorial growth than that of earlier American history.[64] Historian Walter LaFeber sees the Spanish–American War expansionism not as an aberration, but as a culmination of United States expansion westward.[65]

Historian Victor Davis Hanson argues that the U.S. does not pursue world domination, but maintains worldwide influence by a system of mutually beneficial exchanges.[66] On the other hand, a Filipino revolutionary General Emilio Aquinaldo felt as though the American involvement in the Philippines was mutually destructive, "...the Filipinos fighting for Liberty, the American people fighting them to give them liberty. The two peoples are fighting on parallel lines for the same object. We know that parallel lines never meet."[67] American influence worldwide and the effects it has on other nations have multiple interpretations according to whose perspective is being taken into account.

Liberal internationalists argue that even though the present world order is dominated by the United States, the form taken by that dominance is not imperial. International relations scholar John Ikenberry argues

Excerpts From Pentagon's Plan: 'Prevent the Re-Emergence of a New Rival' http://www.princeton.edu/~ppn/docfiles/pentagon_1...
NYT March 8, 1992

Following are excerpts from the Pentagon's Feb. 18 draft of the Defense Planning Guidance for the Fiscal Years 1994-1999: This Defense Planning guidance addresses the fundamentally new situation which has been created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the disintegration of the internal as well as the external empire, and the discrediting of Communism as an ideology with global pretensions and influence. The new international environment has also been shaped by the victory of the United States and its coalition allies over Iraqi aggression -- the first post-cold-war conflict and a defining event in U.S. global leadership. In addition to these two victories, there has been a less visible one, the integration of Germany and Japan into a U.S.-led system of collective security and the creation of a democratic "zone of peace."

U.S. blueprint for proxy Israel's role in conquering a 'new world order' agenda for incoming Benjamin Netanyahu regime, compatible with fascist 'eretz israel' agenda: 1996 A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm http://www.israeleconomy.org/strat1.htm

Following is a policy blueprint prepared by The U.S. Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies' "Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000." The main substantive ideas in this paper emerge from a discussion in which prominent opinion makers, including Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser participated. The report, entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," is the framework for a series of follow-up reports on strategy.

1997 A Geostrategy For Eurasia, by Zbigniew Brzezinski [major democratic strategist] Foreign Affairs,76:5, September/October 1997 Council on Foreign Relations Inc. http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/9709brzezinski.h...

much more at http://www.burbankdigest.com/

REBUILDING AMERICA'S DEFENSES – A Summary

"Rebuilding America's Defenses" – A Summary
Blueprint of the PNAC Plan for U.S. Global Hegemony

Some people have compared it to Hitler's publication of Mein Kampf, which was ignored until after the war was over.

Full text of Rebuilding America's Defenses here

By Bette Stockbauer

05/06/03: When the Bush administration started lobbying for war with Iraq, they used as rationale a definition of preemption (generally meaning anticipatory use of force in the face of an imminent attack) that was broadened to allow for the waging of a preventive war in which force may be used even without evidence of an imminent attack. They also were able to convince much of the American public that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the attacks of 9/11, despite the fact that no evidence of a link has been uncovered. Consequently, many people supported the war on the basis of 1) a policy that has no legal basis in international law and 2) a totally unfounded claim of Iraqi guilt.

What most people do not know, however, is that certain high ranking officials in the Bush administration have been working for regime change in Iraq for the past decade, long before terrorism became an important issue for our country. In 1997 they formed an organization called the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). They have sought the establishment of a much stronger U.S. presence throughout the Mideast and Iraq's Saddam Hussein has been their number one target for regime change. Members of this group drafted and successfully passed through Congress the Iraqi Liberation Act, giving legal sanctions for an invasion of the country, and funneled millions of taxpayer dollars to Hussein opposition groups called the Iraqi National Congress and The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.

The PNAC philosophy was formed in response to the ending of Cold War hostilities with Russia and the emergence of America as the world's only preeminent superpower. Claiming that this is a "strategic moment" that should not be squandered, members of PNAC say that America should use its position to advance its power and interests into all areas of the globe. They believe the time is ripe for establishing democracies in regimes considered hostile to U.S. interests and are not hesitant to advise the use of military means to achieve those ends.

PNAC members on the Bush team include Vice-President Dick Cheney and his top national security assistant, I. Lewis Libby; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; National Security Council member Eliot Abrams; Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton; and former Chairman of the Defense Policy Board, Richard Perle. Other PNAC members exerting influence on U.S. policy are the President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq Randy Scheunemann, Republican Party leader Bruce Jackson and current PNAC chairman William Kristol, conservative writer for the Weekly Standard. Jeb Bush, the president's brother and governor of Florida, is also a member.

Their campaign to overthrow Hussein was unsuccessful during the Clinton presidency and early days of Bush's term, but on 9/11 they found the event they needed to push for the overthrow of Hussein. Within 24 hours both Wolfowitz and Cheney were calling for an invasion of Iraq, even before anyone knew who had been responsible for the attacks.

Individuals who now belong to PNAC have been influencing White House policy since the Reagan era, calling for coups in Central America and claiming that a nuclear war with Russia could be "winnable." Richard Perle is one of their most prominent spokesmen. He and Michael Ledeen (of the American Enterprise Institute), who is currently lobbying for war with Syria and Iran, have adopted a stance that they call "total war" - the ability to wage multiple simultaneous wars around the globe to achieve American ends. Recently Perle commented on America's war on terrorism: "No stages," he said, "This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq . . . this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war . . . our children will sing great songs about us years from now."

Members of PNAC are so self-assured they are advancing America's best interests that they publish policy papers specifically outlining their plans, plans that many fear may be laying the groundwork for a third world war. Their ideas are peculiarly atavistic, considering the friendly ties that have been forged between most of the major nations during the past ten years.

Their central policy document is entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses (RAD)," published on their website at http://newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf. It outlines a plan for American hegemony in the coming years, pinpointing "problem areas" of the world and suggesting regime change of unfavorable governments so that eventually the whole world will be unified under the banner of American democracy.

Already we are seeing evidence of PNAC influence on U.S. policy. For instance, the concept of "Homeland Defense" comes straight from "RAD." Iran, Iraq and North Korea, nations that George Bush calls the "Axis of Evil", are listed together in "RAD" several times as possible military threats to the U.S. There is a suggestion that military spending be increased to 3.8 percent of the GDP, exactly the amount (over and above present expenses for the Iraqi campaign) Bush has proposed for next year's budget. Its basic statement of policy bespeaks and advocates the very essence of the idea of preemptive engagement.

Bush's National Security Strategy of September 20, 2002, adopted PNAC ideas and emphasized a broadened definition of preemption. Since we are already hearing accusations against regimes in Iran and Syria, will they be slated next for invasion?

The document is written with all of the single-mindedness, unilateralism and inattention to international ramifications (with either friend or foe) that the Bush administration displayed in its current build-up for war with Iraq. There is even assertion of the necessity of American political leadership overriding that of the U.N. (p. 11), a policy that was sadly played out when the U.S. invaded Iraq without the approval of either the U.N. or the international community.

Rebuilding America's Defenses

I believe that "Rebuilding America's Defenses" is a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of our planet. Since the document is over 80 pages long I have created a summary of its major ideas in order to make it more accessible.

Subject areas are arranged under 4 categories:

A. Pax Americana - outlining the rationale for global empire,

B. Securing Global Hegemony - pinpointing regions that are considered trouble spots for U.S. policy,

C. Rebuilding the Military - plans for expansion of U.S. military might, and

D. Future Wars of Pax Americana - the "RAD" vision of complete control of land, sea, air, space and cyberspace.

As much as possible I have used direct quotations followed by page numbers so that the reader can consult the original. My personal comments are in italics.

For further reading about the PNAC, see the following articles:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1665.htm (Information Clearing House has many excellent articles about the PNAC.)
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2326.htm (this article is followed by a long list of links to published articles about the plans of the Bush Administration influenced by the PNAC.)
http://www.mail-archive.com/brin-l@mccmedia.com/msg12730.html
http://pilger.carlton.com/print/124759

A. Pax Americana

"It is not a choice between preeminence today and preeminence tomorrow. Global leadership is not something exercised at our leisure, when the mood strikes us or when our core national security interests are directly threatened; then it is already too late. Rather, it is a choice whether or not to maintain American military preeminence, to secure American geopolitical leadership, and to preserve the American peace" (p. 76).

The building of Pax Americana has become possible, claims "RAD," because the fall of the Soviet Union has given the U.S. status as the world's singular superpower. It must now work hard not only to maintain that position, but to spread its influence into geographic areas that are ideologically opposed to our influence. Decrying reductions in defense spending during the Clinton years "RAD" propounds the theory that the only way to preserve peace in the coming era will be to increase military forces for the purpose of waging multiple wars to subdue countries which may stand in the way of U.S. global preeminence.

Their flaws in logic are obvious to people of conscience, namely, 1) a combative posture on our part will not secure peace, but will rather engender fear throughout the world and begin anew the arms race, only this time with far more contenders, and 2) democracy, by its very definition, cannot be imposed by force.

Following is the preamble to the document:

"As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's most preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievement of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?

"[What we require is] a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States' global responsibilities.

"Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of the past century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership" (from the Project's Statement of Principles).

Four Vital Missions

PNAC members believe that there are four vital missions "demanded by U. S. global leadership," but claim that "current American armed forces are ill-prepared to execute" these missions.

"Homeland Defense. America must defend its homeland. During the Cold War, nuclear deterrence was the key element in homeland defense; it remains essential. But the new century has brought with it new challenges. While reconfiguring its nuclear force, the United States also must counteract the effects of the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction that may soon allow lesser states to deter U.S. military action by threatening U.S. allies and the American homeland itself. Of all the new and current missions for U.S. armed forces, this must have priority.

"Large Wars. Second, the United States must retain sufficient forces able to rapidly deploy and win multiple simultaneous large-scale wars and also to be able to respond to unanticipated contingencies in regions where it does not maintain forward-based forces. This resembles the 'two-war' standard that has been the basis of U.S. force planning over the past decade. Yet this standard needs to be updated to account for new realities and potential new conflicts.

"Constabulary Duties. Third, the Pentagon must retain forces to preserve the current peace in ways that fall short of conduction major theater campaigns. A decade's experience and the policies of two administrations have shown that such forces must be expanded to meet the needs of the new, long-term NATO mission in the Balkans, the continuing no-fly-zone and other missions in Southwest Asia, and other presence missions in vital regions of East Asia. These duties are today's most frequent missions, requiring forces configured for combat but capable of long-term, independent constabulary operations.

"Transform U.S. Armed Forces. Finally, the Pentagon must begin now to exploit the so-called 'revolution in military affairs,' sparked by the introduction of advanced technologies into military systems; this must be regarded as a separate and critical mission worthy of a share of force structure and defense budgets" (p. 6).

"In conclusion, it should be clear that these four essential missions for maintaining American military preeminence are quite separate and distinct from one another – none should be considered a 'lesser included case' of another, even though they are closely related and may, in some cases, require similar sorts of forces. Conversely, the failure to provide sufficient forces to execute these four missions must result in problems for American strategy. The failure to build missile defenses will put America and her allies at grave risk and compromise the exercise of American power abroad. Conventional forces that are insufficient to fight multiple theater wars simultaneously cannot protect American global interests and allies. Neglect or withdrawal from constabulary missions will increase the likelihood of larger wars breaking out and encourage petty tyrants to defy American interests and ideals. And the failure to prepare for tomorrow's challenges will ensure that the current Pax Americana comes to an early end" (p. 13).

On Usurping the Power of the UN

"Further, these constabulary missions are far more complex and likely to generate violence than traditional 'peacekeeping' missions. For one, they demand American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations, as the failure of the UN mission in the Balkans and the relative success of NATO operations there attests.

"Nor can the United States assume a UN-like stance of neutrality; the preponderance of American power is so great and its global interests so wide that it cannot pretend to be indifferent to the political outcome in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf or even when it deploys forces in Africa. Finally, these missions demand forces basically configured for combat. While they also demand personnel with special language, logistics and other support skills, the first order of business in missions such as in the Balkans is to establish security, stability and order. American troops, in particular, must be regarded as part of an overwhelmingly powerful force" (p. 11).

On Preserving American Preeminence

"Since today's peace is the unique product of American preeminence, a failure to preserve that preeminence allows others an opportunity to shape the world in ways antithetical to American interests and principles. The price of American preeminence is that, just as it was actively obtained, it must be actively maintained" (p. 73).

"The fourth element in American force posture – and certainly the one which holds the key to any longer-term hopes to extend the current Pax Americana – is the mission to transform U.S. military forces to meet new geopolitical and technological challenges" (p. 11).

"America's armed forces, it seemed, could either prepare for the future by retreating from its role as the essential defender of today's global security order, or it could take care of current business but be unprepared for tomorrow's threats and tomorrow's battlefields" (p. i).

"Moreover, America stands at the head of a system of alliances which includes the world's other leading democratic powers. At present the United States faces no global rival. America's grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possible. There are, however, potentially powerful states dissatisfied with the current situation and eager to change it, if they can, in directions that endanger the relatively peaceful, prosperous and free condition the world enjoys today. Up to now, they have been deterred from doing so by the capability and global presence of American military power. But, as that power declines, relatively and absolutely, the happy conditions that follow from it will be inevitably undermined" (p. i).

B. Securing Global Hegemony

"In a larger sense, the new president will choose whether today's 'unipolar moment,' to use columnist Charles Krauthammer's phrase for America's current geopolitical preeminence, will be extended along with the peace and prosperity that it provides" (p. 4).

"RAD" takes the posture that only the U.S. should manipulate international relations and points out "trouble spots" that may cause future problems, like Iraq, Iran, Korea and all of East Asia. There is concern that several nations might come together to challenge U.S. interests. Consequently any nation that produces nuclear weapons or engages in significant arms build-up will be viewed as a potential threat.

"America's global leadership, and its role as the guarantor of the current great-power peace, relies upon the safety of the American homeland; the preservation of a favorable balance of power in Europe, the Middle East and surrounding energy-producing region, and East Asia; and the general stability of the international system of nation-states relative to terrorists, organized crime, and other 'non-state actors.' The relative importance of these elements, and the threats to U.S. interests, may rise and fall over time. Europe, for example, is now extraordinarily peaceful and stable, despite the turmoil in the Balkans. Conversely, East Asia appears to be entering a period with increased potential for instability and competition. In the Gulf, American power and presence has achieved relative external security for U.S. allies, but the longer-term prospects are murkier. Generally, American strategy for the coming decades should seek to consolidate the great victories won in the 20th century – which have made Germany and Japan into stable democracies, for example – maintain stability in the Middle East, while setting the conditions for 21st century successes, especially in East Asia.

"A retreat from any one of these requirements would call America's status as the world's leading power into question. As we have seen, even a small failure like that in Somalia or a halting and incomplete triumph as in the Balkans can cast doubt on American credibility. The failure to define a coherent global security and military strategy during the post-Cold War period has invited challenges; states seeking to establish regional hegemony continue to probe for the limits of the American security perimeter" (p. 5).

Iraq and the Persian Gulf

"After eight years of no-fly-zone operations, there is little reason to anticipate that the U.S. air presence in the region should diminish significantly as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power. Although Saudi domestic sensibilities demand that the forces based in the Kingdom nominally remain rotational forces, it has become apparent that this is now a semi-permanent mission. From an American perspective, the value of such bases would endure even should Saddam pass from the scene. Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region" (p. 17).

"In the Persian Gulf region, the presence of American forces, along with British and French units, has become a semi-permanent fact of life. Though the immediate mission of those forces is to enforce the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, they represent the long-term commitment of the United States and its major allies to a region of vital importance. Indeed, the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein" (p. 14).

"Although the no-fly-zone air operations over northern and southern Iraq have continued without pause for almost a decade, they remain an essential element in U.S. strategy and force posture in the Persian Gulf region. Ending these operations would hand Saddam Hussein an important victory, something any American leader would be loath to do. Likewise, withdrawing from the Balkans would place American leadership in Europe – indeed, the viability of NATO – in question. While none of these operations involves a mortal threat, they do engage U.S. national security interests directly, as well as engaging American moral interests" (p. 11).

"In Europe, the Persian Gulf and East Asia, enduring U.S. security interests argue forcefully for an enduring American military presence" (p. 74).

"The Air Force presence in the Gulf region is a vital one for U.S. military strategy, and the United States should consider it a de facto permanent presence, even as it seeks ways to lessen Saudi, Kuwaiti and regional concerns about U.S. presence" (p. 35).

Axis of Evil

"It is now commonly understood that information and other new technologies – as well as widespread technological and weapons proliferation – are creating a dynamic that may threaten America's ability to exercise its dominant military power. Potential rivals such as China are anxious to exploit these transformational technologies broadly, while adversaries like Iran, Iraq and North Korea are rushing to develop ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons as a deterrent to American intervention in regions they seek to dominate" (p. 4).

"The current American peace will be short-lived if the United States becomes vulnerable to rogue powers with small, inexpensive arsenals of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads or other weapons of mass destruction. We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland itself. The blessings of the American peace, purchased at fearful cost and a century of effort, should not be so trivially squandered" (p. 75).

East Asia

"Reflecting the gradual shift in the focus of American strategic concerns toward East Asia, a majority of the U.S. fleet, including two thirds of all carrier battle groups, should be concentrated in the Pacific. A new, permanent forward base should be established in Southeast Asia (p. 39).

"As stressed several times above, the United States should seek to establish – or reestablish – a more robust naval presence in Southeast Asia, marked by a long-term, semi-permanent home port in the region, perhaps in the Philippines, Australia, or both" (p. 44).

"In Southeast Asia, American forces are too sparse to adequately address rising security requirements….Except for routine patrols by naval and Marine forces, the security of this strategically significant and increasingly tumultuous region has suffered from American neglect…..Southeast Asia region has long been an area of great interest to China, which clearly seeks to regain influence in the region. In recent years, China has gradually increased its presence and operations in the region.

"Raising U.S. military strength in East Asia is the key to coping with the rise of China to great-power status. For this to proceed peacefully, U.S. armed forces must retain their military preeminence and thereby reassure our regional allies. In Northeast Asia, the United States must maintain and tighten its ties with the Republic of Korea and Japan. In Southeast Asia, only the United States can reach out to regional powers like Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia and others. This will be a difficult task requiring sensitivity to diverse national sentiments, but it is made all the more compelling by the emergence of new democratic governments in the region. By guaranteeing the security of our current allies and newly democratic nations in East Asia, the United States can help ensure that the rise of China is a peaceful one. Indeed, in time, American and allied power in the region may provide a spur to the process of democratization inside China itself….A heightened U.S. military presence in Southeast Asia would be a strong spur to regional security cooperation, providing the core around which a de facto coalition could jell" (pp. 18-19).

"The prospect is that East Asia will become an increasingly important region, marked by the rise of Chinese power….A similar rationale argues in favor of retaining substantial forces in Japan. In recent years, the stationing of large forces in Okinawa has become increasingly controversial in Japanese domestic politics, and while efforts to accommodate local sensibilities are warranted, it is essential to retain the capabilities U.S. forces in Okinawa represent. If the United States is to remain the guarantor of security in Northeast Asia, and to hold together a de facto alliance whose other main pillars are Korea and Japan maintaining forward-based U.S. forces is essential" (p. 18).

Europe

"As discussed above, the focus of American security strategy for the coming century is likely to shift to East Asia. This reflects the success of American strategy in the 20th century, and particularly the success of the NATO alliance through the Cold War, which has created what appears to be a generally stable and enduring peace in Europe. The pressing new problem of European security – instability in Southeastern Europe – will be best addressed by the continued stability operations in the Balkans by U.S. and NATO ground forces supported by land-based air forces. Likewise, the new opportunity for greater European stability offered by further NATO expansion will make demands first of all on ground and land-based air forces. As the American security perimeter in Europe is removed eastward, this pattern will endure, although naval forces will play an important role in the Baltic Sea, eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea, and will continue to support U.S. and NATO operations ashore" (pp. 43-44).

"The Balkans, and southeastern Europe more generally, present the major hurdle toward the creation of a Europe 'whole and free' from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The delay in bringing security and stability to southeastern Europe has not only prevented the consolidation of the victory in the Cold War, it has created a zone of violence and conflict and introduced uncertainty about America's role in Europe" (pp. 15-16).

"Despite the shifting focus of conflict in Europe, a requirement to station U.S. forces in northern and central Europe remains. The region is stable, but a continued American presence helps to assure the major European powers, especially Germany, that the United States retains its longstanding security interest in the continent. This is especially important in light of the nascent European moves toward an independent defense 'identity' and policy; it is important that NATO not be replaced by the European Union, leaving the United States without a voice in European security affairs" (p. 16).

"Although U.S. Navy and Marine forces generally operate on a regular cycle of deployments to European waters, they rely on a network of permanent bases in the region, especially in the Mediterranean. These should be retained, and consideration given to establishing a more robust presence in the Black Sea" (p. 17).

Regime Change

Several statements advocating the possible necessity of removing hostile regimes can be found in the document.

"American military preeminence will continue to rest in significant part on the ability to maintain sufficient land forces to achieve political goals such as removing a dangerous and

hostile regime when necessary" (p. 61).

"The need to respond with decisive force in the event of a major theater war in Europe, the Persian Gulf or East Asia will remain the principal factor in determining Army force structure for U.S.-based units. However one judges the likelihood of such wars occurring, it is essential to retain sufficient capabilities to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion, including the possibility of a decisive victory that results in long-term political or regime change" (p. 25).

"America's adversaries will continue to resist the building of the American peace; when they see an opportunity as Saddam Hussein did in 1990, they will employ their most powerful armed forces to win on the battle-field what they could not win in peaceful competition; and American armed forces will remain the core of efforts to deter, defeat, or remove from power regional aggressors" (p. 10).

C. Rebuilding the Military

"If an American peace is to be maintained, and expanded, it must have a secure foundation on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence" (p. 4).

One stated objective of "RAD" is "to outline the large, 'full-spectrum' forces that are necessary to conduct the varied tasks demanded by a strategy of American preeminence for today and tomorrow" (p. 5). Much of the document is an elucidation of those missions and includes specific recommendations about weaponry, deployment patterns, increased personnel and defense spending.

"In sum, the 1990s have been a 'decade of defense neglect'. This leaves the next president of the United States with an enormous challenge: he must increase military spending to preserve American geopolitical leadership, or he must pull back from the security commitments that are the measure of America's position as the world's sole superpower and the final guarantee of security, democratic freedoms and individual political rights" (p. 4).

"Preserving the desirable strategic situation in which the United States now finds itself requires a globally preeminent military capability both today and in the future. But years of cuts in defense spending have eroded the American military's combat readiness, and put in jeopardy the Pentagon's plans for maintaining military superiority in the years ahead. Increasingly, the U.S. military has found itself undermanned, inadequately equipped and trained, straining to handle contingency operations, and ill-prepared to adapt itself to the revolution in military affairs" (p. i).

The four core missions of PNAC referred to below were outlined in section A. Pax Americana.

"To carry out these core missions, we need to provide sufficient force and budgetary allocations. In particular, the United States must:

MAINTAIN NUCLEAR STRATEGIC SUPERIORITY, basing the U.S. nuclear deterrent upon a global, nuclear net assessment that weighs the full range of current and emerging threats, not merely the U.S.-Russia balance.

RESTORE THE PERSONNEL STRENGTH of today's force to roughly the levels anticipated in the 'Base Force' outlined by the Bush Administration, an increase in active-duty strength from 1.4 million to 1.6 million.

REPOSITION U.S. FORCES to respond to 21st century strategic realities by shifting permanently based forces to Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia, and by changing naval deployment patterns to reflect growing U.S. strategic concerns in East Asia.

MODERNIZE CURRENT U.S. FORCES SELECTIVELY, proceeding with the F-22 program while increasing purchases of lift, electronic support and other aircraft; expanding submarine and surface combatant fleets; purchasing Comanche helicopters and medium-weight ground vehicles for the Army, and the V-22 Osprey 'tilt-rotor' aircraft for the Marine Corps.

CANCEL 'ROADBLOCK' PROGRAMS such as the Joint Strike Fighter, CVX aircraft carrier, and Crusader howitzer system that would absorb exorbitant amounts of Pentagon funding while providing limited improvements to current capabilities. Savings from these canceled programs should be used to spur the process of military transformation.

DEVELOP AND DEPLOY GLOBAL MISSILE DEFENSES to defend the American homeland and American allies, and to provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world.

CONTROL THE NEW 'INTERNATIONAL COMMONS' OF SPACE AND 'CYBERSPACE,' and pave the way for the creation of a new military service – U.S. Space Forces – with the mission of space control.

EXPLOIT THE 'REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS' to ensure the long-term superiority of U.S. conventional forces. Establish a two-stage transformation process which

• ?maximizes the value of current weapons systems through the application of advanced technologies, and,

• ?produces more profound improvements in military capabilities, encourages competition between single services and joint-service experimentation efforts.

INCREASE DEFENSE SPENDING gradually to a minimum level of 3.5 to 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, adding $15 billion to $20 billion to total defense spending annually" (p. v).

"In general terms, it seems likely that the process of transformation will take several decades and that U.S. forces will continue to operate many, if not most, of today's weapons systems for a decade or more. Thus, it can be foreseen that the process of transformation will in fact be a two-stage process: first of transition, then of more thoroughgoing transformation. The break-point will come when a preponderance of new weapons systems begins to enter service, perhaps when, for example, unmanned aerial vehicles begin to be as numerous as manned aircraft. In this regard, the Pentagon should be very wary of making large investments in new programs – tanks, planes, aircraft carriers, for example – that would commit U.S. forces to current paradigms of warfare for many decades to come" (p. 13).

Army

List of recommendations for modernizing the Army (see p. 23).

"American landpower remains the essential link in the chain that translates U.S. military supremacy into American geopolitical preeminence. Even as the means for delivering firepower on the battlefield shift – strike aircraft have realized all but the wildest dreams of air power enthusiasts, unmanned aerial vehicles promise to extend strike power in the near future, and the ability to conduct strikes from space appears on the not-too-distant horizon – the need for ground maneuvers to achieve decisive political results endures. Regimes are difficult to change based upon punishment alone. If land forces are to survive and retain their unique strategic purpose in a world where it is increasingly easy to deliver firepower precisely at long ranges, they must change as well, becoming more stealthy, mobile, deployable and able to operate in a dispersed fashion. The U.S. Army, and American land forces more generally, must increasingly complement the strike capabilities of the other services. Conversely, an American military force that lacks the ability to employ ground forces that can survive and maneuver rapidly on future battlefields will deprive U.S. political leaders of a decisive tool of diplomacy" (p. 30).

Air Force - Toward a Global First-Strike Force

List of recommendations for modernizing the Air Force (See p. 31).

"Although air power remains the most flexible and responsive element of U.S. military power, the Air Force needs to be restructured, repositioned, revitalized and enlarged to assure continued 'global reach, global power'" (p. 31).

"Because of its inherent mobility and flexibility, the Air Force will be the first U.S. military force to arrive in a theater during times of crisis; as such, the Air Force must retain its ability to deploy and sustain sufficient numbers of aircraft to deter wars and shape any conflict in its earliest stages. Indeed, it is the Air Force, along with the Army, that remains the core of America's ability to apply decisive military power when its pleases. To dissipate this ability to deliver a rapid hammer blow is to lose the key component of American military preeminence" (p. 37).

"A gradual increase in Air Force spending back to a $110 billion to $115 billion level is required to increase service personnel strength; build new units, especially the composite wings required to perform the 'air constabulary missions' such as no-fly zones; add the support capabilities necessary to complement the fleet of tactical aircraft; reinvest in space capabilities and begin the process of transformation" (p. 37).

"The ability to have access to, operate in, and dominate the aerospace environment has become the key to military success in modern, high-technology warfare. Indeed, as will be discussed below, space dominance may become so essential to the preservation of American military preeminence that it may require a separate service. How well the Air Force rises to the many challenges it faces – even should it receive increased budgets – will go far toward determining whether U.S. military forces retain the combat edge they now enjoy" (pp. 38-39).

"A recent study done for the Air Force indicates that a worldwide network of forward operating bases….might cost $5 billion to $10 billion through 2010. The study speculates that some of the cost might be paid for by host nations anxious to cement ties with the United States, or, in Europe, be considered as common NATO assets and charged to the NATO common fund" (p. 20).

Navy/Marine Corps

List of recommendations for modernizing the Navy (See pp. 39-40).

List of recommendations for modernizing the Marines (See pp. 47-48).

"The end of the Cold War leaves the U.S. Navy in a position of unchallenged supremacy on the high seas, a dominance surpassing that even of the British Navy in the 19th and early parts of the 20th century. With the remains of the Soviet fleet now largely rusting in port, the open oceans are America's, and the lines of communication open from the coasts of the United States to Europe, the Persian Gulf and East Asia. Yet this very success calls the need for the current force structure into question. Further, the advance of precision-strike technology may mean that naval surface combatants, and especially the large-deck aircraft carriers that are the Navy's capital ships, may not survive in the high-technology wars of the coming decades. Finally, the nature and pattern of Navy presence missions may be out of synch with emerging strategic realities. In sum, though it stands without peer today, the Navy faces major challenges to its traditional and, in the past, highly successful methods of operation" (p. 39).

"Thus, while naval presence, including carrier presence, in the western Pacific should be increased, the Navy should begin to conduct many of its presence missions with other kinds of battle groups based around cruisers, destroyers and other surface combatants as well as submarines. Indeed, the Navy needs to better understand the requirement to have substantial numbers of cruise-missile platforms at sea and in close proximity to regional hot spots, using carriers and naval aviation as reinforcing elements" (p. 46).

"The Navy's force of attack submarines also should be expanded. It is unclear that the current and planned generations of attack submarines (to say nothing of new ballistic missile submarines) will be flexible enough to meet future demands. The Navy should reassess its submarine requirements not merely in light of current missions but with an expansive view of possible future missions as well" (p. 46).

"The Navy must begin to transition away from its heavy dependence on carrier operations….. Design and research on a future CVX carrier should continue, but should aim at a radical design change to accommodate an air wing based primarily on unmanned aerial vehicles" (p. 40).

"To offset the reduced role of carriers, the Navy should slightly increase its fleets of current-generation surface combatants and submarines for improved strike capabilities in littoral waters and to conduct an increasing proportion of naval presence missions with surface action groups. Additional investments in counter-mine warfare are needed, as well" (p. 40).

"In particular, the Marine Corps, like the Navy, must turn its focus on the requirements for operations in East Asia, including Southeast Asia. In many ways, this will be a 'back to the future' mission for the Corps, recalling the innovative thinking done during the period between the two world wars and which established the Marines' expertise in amphibious landings and operations" (p. 47).

Overseas Bases

"As a supplement to forces stationed abroad under long-term basing arrangements, the United States should seek to establish a network of 'deployment bases' or 'forward operating bases' to increase the reach of current and future forces. Not only will such an approach improve the ability to project force to outlying regions, it will help circumvent the political, practical and financial constraints on expanding the network of American bases overseas" (p. 19).

"There should be a strong strategic synergy between U.S. forces overseas and in a reinforcing posture: units operating abroad are an indication of American geopolitical interests and leadership, provide significant military power to shape events and, in wartime, create the conditions for victory when reinforced. Conversely, maintaining the ability to deliver an unquestioned 'knockout punch' through the rapid introduction of stateside units will increase the shaping power of forces operating overseas and the vitality of our alliances. In sum, we see an enduring need for large-scale American forces" (p. 74).

"Further, improvements should be made to existing air bases in new and potential NATO countries to allow for rapid deployments, contingency exercises, and extended initial operations in times of crisis. These preparations should include modernized air traffic control, fuel, and weapons storage facilities, and perhaps small stocks of prepositioned munitions, as well as sufficient ramp space to accommodate surges in operations. Improvements also should be made to existing facilities in England to allow forward operation of B-2 bombers in times of crisis, to increase sortie rates if needed" (p. 34).

"The Air Force should be redeployed to reflect the shifts in international politics. Independent, expeditionary air wings containing a broad mix of aircraft, including electronic warfare, airborne command and control, and other support aircraft, should be based in Italy, Southeastern Europe, central and perhaps eastern Turkey, the Persian Gulf, and Southeast Asia"

(p. 31).

Nuclear Expansion

"…significant reductions in U.S. nuclear forces might well have unforeseen consequences that lessen rather than enhance the security of the United States and its allies" (p. 8).

"Over the past decade, efforts to design and build effective missile defenses have been ill-conceived and underfunded, and the Clinton Administration has proposed deep reductions in U.S. nuclear forces without sufficient analysis of the changing global nuclear balance of forces" (p. 6).

"Rather than maintain and improve America's nuclear deterrent, the Clinton Administration has put its faith in new arms control measures, most notably by signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The treaty proposed a new multilateral regime, consisting of some 150 states, whose principal effect would be to constrain America's unique role in providing the global nuclear umbrella that helps to keep states like Japan and South Korea from developing the weapons that are well within their scientific capability, while doing little to stem nuclear weapons proliferation. Although the Senate refused to ratify the treaty, the administration continues to abide by its basic strictures. And while it may make sense to continue the current moratorium on nuclear testing for the moment – since it would take a number of years to refurbish the neglected testing infrastructure in any case – ultimately this is an untenable situation. If the United States is to have a nuclear deterrent that is both effective and safe, it will need to test." (pp. 7-8).

"…of all the elements of U.S. military force posture, perhaps none is more in need of reevaluation than America's nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons remain a critical component of American military power but it is unclear whether the current U.S. nuclear arsenal is well-suited to the emerging post-Cold War world. Today's strategic calculus encompasses more factors than just the balance of terror between the United States and Russia. U.S. nuclear force planning and related arms control policies must take account of a larger set of variables than in the past, including the growing number of small nuclear arsenals – from North Korea to Pakistan to, perhaps soon, Iran and Iraq – and a modernized and expanded Chinese nuclear force. Moreover, there is a question about the role nuclear weapons should play in deterring the use of other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological, with the U.S. having foresworn those weapons' development and use. It addition, there may be a need to develop a new family of nuclear weapons designed to address new sets of military requirements, such as would be required in targeting the very deep under-ground, hardened bunkers that are being built by many of our potential adversaries" (p. 8).

"But what should finally drive the size and character of our nuclear forces is not numerical parity with Russian capabilities but maintaining American strategic superiority – and, with that superiority, a capability to deter possible hostile coalitions of nuclear powers. U.S. nuclear superiority is nothing to be ashamed of; rather, it will be an essential element in preserving American leadership in a more complex and chaotic world" (p. 8).

D. Future Wars of Pax Americana

"Until the process of transformation is treated as an enduring military mission – worthy of a constant allocation of dollars and forces – it will remain stillborn" (p. 60).

"RAD" envisions a future in which the United States is in complete control of land, sea, air, space and cyberspace of planet Earth. It finds objectionable the limitations imposed by the ABM treaty and urges a newer rendition of Reagan's 'Star Wars' defense shield program. Three missions are seen as crucial.

1. Global Missile Defenses - "A network against limited strikes, capable of protecting the United States, its allies and forward-deployed forces, must be constructed. This must be a layered system of land, sea, air and space-based components" (p. 51).

"The first element in any missile defense network should be a galaxy of surveillance satellites with sensors capable of acquiring enemy ballistic missiles immediately upon launch" (p. 52).

"At the same time, the administration's devotion to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with the Soviet Union has frustrated development of useful ballistic missile defenses. This is reflected in deep budget cuts – planned spending on missile defenses for the late 1990s has been more than halved, halting work on space-based interceptors, cutting funds for a national missile defense system by 80 percent and theater defenses by 30 percent. Further, the administration has cut funding just at the crucial moments when individual programs begin to show promise. Only upgrades of currently existing systems like the Patriot missile – originally designed primarily for air defense against jet fighters, not missile defense – have proceeded generally on course.

"Most damaging of all was the decision in 1993 to terminate the 'Brilliant Pebbles' project. This legacy of the original Reagan-era 'Star Wars' effort had matured to the point where it was becoming feasible to develop a space-based interceptor capable of destroying ballistic missiles in the early or middle portion of their flight – far preferable than attempting to hit individual warheads surrounded by clusters of decoys on their final course toward their targets. But since a space-based system would violate the ABM Treaty, the administration killed the 'Brilliant Pebbles' program, choosing instead to proceed with a ground-based interceptor and radar system – one that will be costly without being especially effective" (p. 52).

2. Control of Space - "RAD" advises instituting a new "Space Service" thereby escalating U.S. military preparedness "from the theatre level to the global level" in order to achieve worldwide dominance, both militarily and commercially.

"Yet to truly transform itself for the coming century, the Air Force must accelerate its efforts to create the new systems – and, to repeat, the space-based systems – that are necessary to shift the scope of air operations from the theater level to the global level" (p. 64).

"…control of space – defined by Space Command as 'the ability to assure access to space, freedom of operations within the space medium, and an ability to deny others the use of space' – must be an essential element of our military strategy" (p. 55).

"Much as control of the high seas – and the protection of international commerce – defined global powers in the past, so will control of the new 'international commons' be a key to world power in the future. An America incapable of protecting its interests or that of its allies in space or the 'infosphere' will find it difficult to exert global political leadership" (p. 51).

"The proliferation of technologies for delivering highly accurate fires over increasingly great distances poses a great challenge for both the Army and the Marine Corps, but rather than attempting to compete in the game of applying long-range fires, both services would be better off attempting to complement the vastly improved strike capabilities of the Navy and Air Force, and indeed in linking decisive maneuvers to future space capabilities as well" (p. 68).

"Target significant new investments toward creating capabilities for operating in space, including inexpensive launch vehicles, new satellites and transatmospheric vehicles, in preparation for a decision as to whether space warfare is sufficiently different from combat within earth's atmosphere so as to require a separate 'space service'. Such a transformation would in fact better realize the Air Force's stated goal of becoming a service with true global reach and global strike capabilities" (p. 64).

"Given the advantages U.S. armed forces enjoy as a result of this unrestricted use of space, it is shortsighted to expect potential adversaries to refrain from attempting to disable or offset U.S. space capabilities. And with the proliferation of space know-how and related technology around the world, our adversaries will inevitably seek to enjoy many of the same space advantages in the future. Moreover, 'space commerce' is a growing part of the global economy. In 1996, commercial United States, and commercial revenues exceeded government expenditures on space. Today, more than 1,100 commercial companies across more than 50 countries are developing, building, and operating space systems.

"The complexity of space control will only grow as commercial activity increases. American and other allied investments in space systems will create a requirement to secure and protect these space assets; they are already an important measure of American power. Yet it will not merely be enough to protect friendly commercial uses of space.

"As Space Command also recognizes, the United States must also have the capability to deny America's adversaries the use of commercial space platforms for military purposes in times of crises and conflicts. Indeed, space is likely to become the new 'international commons', where commercial and security interests are intertwined and related. Just as Alfred Thayer Mahan wrote about 'sea-power' at the beginning of the 20th century in this sense, American strategists will be forced to regard 'space-power' in the 21st" (pp. 54-55).

"In short, the unequivocal supremacy in space enjoyed by the United States today will be increasingly at risk" (p. 55).

"As Colin Gray and John Sheldon have written, 'Space control is not an avoidable issue. It is not an optional extra.' For U.S. armed forces to continue to assert military preeminence, control of space – defined by Space Command as 'the ability to assure access to space, freedom of operations within the space medium, and an ability to deny others the use of space' – must be an essential element of our military strategy. If America cannot maintain that control, its ability to conduct global military operations will be severely complicated, far more costly, and potentially fatally compromised" (p. 55).

"But, over the longer term, maintaining control of space will inevitably require the application of force both in space and from space, including but not limited to anti-missile defenses and defensive systems capable of protecting U.S. and allied satellites; space control cannot be sustained in any other fashion, with conventional land, sea, or airforce, or by electronic warfare. This eventuality is already recognized by official U.S. national space policy, which states that the 'Department of Defense shall maintain a capability to execute the mission areas of space support, force enhancement, space control and force application.' (Emphasis added.)" (p. 56).

3. Control of Cyberspace - "Although many concepts of 'cyber-war' have elements of science fiction about them, and the role of the Defense Department in establishing 'control,' or even what 'security' on the Internet means, requires a consideration of a host of legal, moral and political issues, there nonetheless will remain an imperative to be able to deny America and its allies' enemies the ability to disrupt or paralyze either the military's or the commercial sector's computer networks.

"Conversely, an offensive capability could offer America's military and political leaders an invaluable tool in disabling an adversary in a decisive manner. Taken together, the prospects for space war or 'cyberspace war' represent the truly revolutionary potential inherent in the notion of military transformation. These future forms of warfare are technologically immature, to be sure. But, it is also clear that for the U.S. armed forces to remain preeminent and avoid an Achilles Heel in the exercise of its power they must be sure that these potential future forms of warfare favor America just as today's air, land and sea warfare reflect United States military dominance" (p. 57).

Strategy for Transforming Conventional Forces

Read below notions of how conventional warfare will be conducted in the future, including the use of microbes and "advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes."

"In exploiting the 'revolution in military affairs,' the Pentagon must be driven by the enduring missions for U.S. forces. This process will have two stages: transition, featuring a mix of current and new systems; and true transformation, featuring new systems, organizations and operational concepts. This process must take a competitive approach, with services and joint-service operations competing for new roles and missions. Any successful process of transformation must be linked to the services, which are the institutions within the Defense Department with the ability and the responsibility for linking budgets and resources to specific missions" (p. 51).

"Although it may take several decades for the process of transformation to unfold, in time, the art of warfare on air, land, and sea will be vastly different than it is today, and 'combat' likely will take place in new dimensions: in space, 'cyber-space,' and perhaps the world of microbes. Air warfare may no longer be fought by pilots manning tactical fighter aircraft sweeping the skies of opposing fighters, but a regime dominated by long-range, stealthy unmanned craft. On land, the clash of massive, combined-arms armored forces may be replaced by the dashes of much lighter, stealthier and information-intensive forces, augmented by fleets of robots, some small enough to fit in soldiers' pockets. Control of the sea could be largely determined not by fleets of surface combatants and aircraft carriers, but from land- and space-based systems, forcing navies to maneuver and fight underwater. Space itself will become a theater of war, as nations gain access to space capabilities and come to rely on them; further, the distinction between military and commercial space systems – combatants and noncombatants – will become blurred. Information systems will become an important focus of attack, particularly for U.S. enemies seeking to short-circuit sophisticated American forces. And advanced forms of biological warfare that can target specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool" (p. 60).

Changes in Naval Warfare: "Beyond immediate opportunities such as conversion of Trident submarines, consideration should be given to employing a deactivated carrier to better understand the possibilities of operating large fleets of UAVs at sea. Likewise, submerged 'missile pods,' either permanently deployed or laid covertly by submarines in times of crisis, could increase strike capabilities without risking surface vessels in littoral waters. In general, if the Navy is moving toward 'network-centric' warfare, it should explore ways of increasing the number of 'nodes on the net'" (p. 67).

Army of the Future: "Consider just the potential changes that might effect the infantryman. Future soldiers may operate in encapsulated, climate-controlled, powered fighting suits, laced with sensors, and boasting chameleon-like 'active' camouflage. 'Skin-patch' pharmaceuticals help regulate fears, focus concentration and enhance endurance and strength. A display mounted on a soldier's helmet permits a comprehensive view of the battlefield – in effect to look around corners and over hills – and allows the soldier to access the entire combat information and intelligence system while filtering incoming data to prevent overload. Individual weapons are more lethal, and a soldier's ability to call for highly precise and reliable indirect fires – not only from Army systems but those of other services – allows each individual to have great influence over huge spaces. Under the 'Land Warrior' program, some Army experts envision a 'squad' of seven soldiers able to dominate an area the size of the Gettysburg battlefield – where, in 1863, some 165,000 men fought" (p. 62).

Comment section added to this article on October 30, 2011

mforza · 48 weeks ago

Throughout this document which is capital in understanding the catastrophic events to which 9/11 was designed to be the detonator, wars of aggression against peaceful nations, total annihilation of nations and civilizations, are coldly described as their aim and plan, with specific methods to reach their genocidal and even biocidal (destruction of all life) pathologically evil

To understand the motor behind this PNAC's genocidal wars, the FILTER must imperatively be removed from our investigative reading.

The key word that is filtered out from the debate, yet it is the elephant in the room, is the very FACT that most signatories of this document are either JEWISH or ultra-zionists, most of them appear also in the Jewish-Israeli documents for identical strategy, a document which invariably exposes the treasonous allegiance to an entity enemy to the USA, of the often dual-nationals signatories to these two major documents. As a few examples:

Participants in the Study Group on "A New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000:"
Richard Perle, American Enterprise Institute, Study Group Leader
James Colbert, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Johns Hopkins University/SAIS
Douglas Feith, Feith and Zell Associates
Robert Loewenberg, President, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies
Jonathan Torop, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
David Wurmser, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies
Meyrav Wurmser, Johns Hopkins University

While it is theoretically of ZERO importance to which racial or religious or national or cultural origins one is, we must have the intellectual courage to recognize that inspite of this ideal we humanists do hold, there is a group amidst us who has departed from us, who by exclusion and hatred of the others has slipped into a degree of pathological mass-sociopathy for whom the aim has become annihilation and domination of what they consider "the enemy" namely all non-jews --

The cross-pollination of racist ideology between their "secular" and "religious" networks, is striking to whomever reads extensively and critically Jewish and Israeli publications and declarations, and compares it to the malevolent activities of the same Judeo-centric networks, foundations, trusts, thinbk-tanks, etc etc etc with often lofty names feigning "pro-democracy" nd "pro-peace" while they are the very radical opposite.

Wars of aggression and total genocide corresponds 100 % to Jewish Talmudic ideology, contrary to all the hype.

Lawrence Wilkerson Travails of Empire - Oil, Debt, Gold and the Imperial Dollar

Reproduced from Lawrence Wilkerson Travails of Empire - Oil, Debt, Gold and the Imperial Dollar

"...This includes the observation that "gold is being moved in sort of unique ways, concentrated in secret in unique ways, and capitals are slowly but surely divesting themselves of US Treasuries. So what you are seeing right now in the supposed strengthening of the dollar is a false impression."... "
"...The BRICS want to use oil to "force the US to lose its incredibly powerful role in owning the world's transactional reserve currency." It gives the US a great deal of power of empire that it would not ordinarily have, since the ability to add debt without consequence enables the expenditures to sustain it."
"...Later, after listening to this again, the thought crossed my mind that this advisor might be a double agent using the paranoia of the military to achieve the ends of another. Not for the BRICS, but for the Banks. The greatest beneficiary of a strong dollar, which is a terrible burden to the real economy, is the financial sector. This is why most countries seek to weaken or devalue their currencies to improve their domestic economies as a primary objective. This is not so far-fetched as military efforts to provoke 'regime change' have too often been undertaken to support powerful commercial interests."
"...A typical observation is that the US did indeed overthrow the democratically elected government of Mossadegh in 1953 in Iran. But 'the British needed the money' from the Anglo-Iranian oil company in order to rebuild after WW II. Truman had rejected the notion, but Eisenhower the military veteran and Republic agreed to it. Wilkerson says specifically that Ike was 'the last expert' to hold the office of the Presidency. "
August 15, 2015 | Jesse's Café Américain
"We are imperial, and we are in decline... People are losing confidence in the Empire."
This is the key theme of Larry Wilkerson's presentation. He never really questions whether empire is good or bad, sustainable or not, and at what costs. At least he does not so in the same manner as that great analyst of empire Chalmers Johnson.

It is important to understand what people who are in and near positions of power are thinking if you wish to understand what they are doing, and what they are likely to do. What ought to be done is another matter.

Wilkerson is a Republican establishment insider who has served for many years in the military and the State Department. Here he is giving about a 40 minute presentation to the Centre For International Governance in Canada in 2014.

I find his point of view of things interesting and revealing, even on those points where I may not agree with his perspective. There also seem to be some internal inconsistencies in this thinking.

But what makes his perspective important is that it represents a mainstream view of many professional politicians and 'the Establishment' in America. Not the hard right of the Republican party, but much of what constitutes the recurring political establishment of the US.

As I have discussed here before, I do not particularly care so much if a trading indicator has a fundamental basis in reality, as long as enough people believe in and act on it. Then it is worth watching as self-fulfilling prophecy. And the same can be said of political and economic memes.

At minute 48:00 Wilkerson gives a response to a question about the growing US debt and of the role of the petrodollar in the Empire, and the efforts by others to 'undermine it' by replacing it. This is his 'greatest fear.'

He speaks about 'a principal advisor to the CIA Futures project' and the National Intelligence Council (NIC), whose views and veracity of claims are being examined closely by sophisticated assets. He believes that both Beijing and Moscow are complicit in an attempt to weaken the dollar.

This includes the observation that "gold is being moved in sort of unique ways, concentrated in secret in unique ways, and capitals are slowly but surely divesting themselves of US Treasuries. So what you are seeing right now in the supposed strengthening of the dollar is a false impression."

The BRICS want to use oil to "force the US to lose its incredibly powerful role in owning the world's transactional reserve currency." It gives the US a great deal of power of empire that it would not ordinarily have, since the ability to add debt without consequence enables the expenditures to sustain it.

Later, after listening to this again, the thought crossed my mind that this advisor might be a double agent using the paranoia of the military to achieve the ends of another. Not for the BRICS, but for the Banks. The greatest beneficiary of a strong dollar, which is a terrible burden to the real economy, is the financial sector. This is why most countries seek to weaken or devalue their currencies to improve their domestic economies as a primary objective. This is not so far-fetched as military efforts to provoke 'regime change' have too often been undertaken to support powerful commercial interests.

Here is just that particular excerpt of the Q&A and the question of increasing US debt.

I am not sure how much the policy makers and strategists agree with this theory about gold. But there is no doubt in my mind that they believe and are acting on the theory that oil, and the dollar control of oil, the so-called petrodollar, is the key to maintaining the empire.

Wilkerson reminds me very much of a political theoretician who I knew at Georgetown University. He talks about strategic necessities, the many occasions in which the US has used its imperial power covertly to overthrow or attempt to overthrow governments in Iran, Venezuela, Syria, and the Ukraine. He tends to ascribe all these actions to selflessness, and American service to the world in maintaining a balance of power where 'all we ask is a plot of ground to bury our dead.'

A typical observation is that the US did indeed overthrow the democratically elected government of Mossadegh in 1953 in Iran. But 'the British needed the money' from the Anglo-Iranian oil company in order to rebuild after WW II. Truman had rejected the notion, but Eisenhower the military veteran and Republic agreed to it. Wilkerson says specifically that Ike was 'the last expert' to hold the office of the Presidency.

This is what is meant by realpolitik. It is all about organizing the world under a 'balance of power' that is favorable to the Empire and the corporations that have sprung up around it.

As someone with a long background and interest in strategy I am not completely unsympathetic to these lines of thinking. But like most broadly developed human beings and students of history and philosophy one can see that the allure of such thinking, without recourse to questions of restraint and morality and the fig leaf of exceptionalist thinking, is a terrible trap, a Faustian bargain. It is the rationalization of every nascent tyranny. It is the precursor to the will to pure power for its own sake.

The challenges of empire now according to Wilkerson are:

  1. Disequilibrium of wealth - 1/1000th of the US owns 50% of its total wealth. The current economic system implies long term stagnation (I would say stagflation. The situation in the US is 1929, and in France, 1789. All the gains are going to the top.
  2. BRIC nations are rising and the Empire is in decline, largely because of US strategic miscalculations. The US is therefore pressing harder towards war in its desperation and desire to maintain the status quo. And it is dragging a lot of good and honest people into it with our NATO allies who are dependent on the US for their defense.
  3. There is a strong push towards regional government in the US that may intensify as global warming and economic developments present new challenges to specific areas. For example, the water has left the Southwest, and it will not be coming back anytime soon.
This presentation ends about minute 40, and then it is open to questions which is also very interesting.
Lawrence Wilkerson, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William Mary, and former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Related: Chalmers Johnson: Decline of Empire and the Signs of Decay

Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Oct 24, 2020] The World Order: New Rules or a Game Without Rules. So, what is happening now? Regrettably, the game without rules is becoming increasingly horrifying and sometimes seems to be a fait accompli."

Oct 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

gm , Oct 22 2020 19:00 utc | 9

@Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 22 2020 18:19 utc | 6

Re: "...Thus, six years ago, in 2014, we spoke about this issue when we discussed the theme The World Order: New Rules or a Game Without Rules. So, what is happening now? Regrettably, the game without rules is becoming increasingly horrifying and sometimes seems to be a fait accompli."

Putin said this virtually in the same breath directly after his previous paragraph you excerpted where he speaks of the serious ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

What that says to me is that he is hinting with his trademark subtlety that he thinks the CV pandemic may not be a naturally arising event. In other words, a plandemic.


karlof1 , Oct 22 2020 19:12 utc | 12

gm @9--

Yes, that's the ongoing rhetorical battle between the Collectivist nations who uphold the sanctity of International Law and the Neoliberal Nations controlled by Financial Parasites that can't survive under a functional International Law System. That distinction is constantly becoming clearer particularly to those residing within the Neoliberal nations as they watch their lives being destroyed. IMO, we're on the cusp of entering the most critical decade of this century which will determine humanity's condition when 2101 is reached.

[Oct 23, 2020] A stark note from Lavrov about the USA neoliberal elite

In America, Truth is a Foreign Agent and World Peace is a threat to National Security.
Oct 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
kiwiklown , Oct 22 2020 9:05 utc | 7

The Russians ( Putin / Lavrov) say ever so politely that the US is not agreement-capable.

I add that the US ( politicians, Wall Streeters, MSM, think tanks ) are:

What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul? He turns into a ghoul without a soul, says I, a devil without human-ness! How dare they call us deplorables when they are the despicables?

[Sep 29, 2020] Some excellently timed next level trolling of the USA from Putin.

Sep 29, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

ET AL September 27, 2020 at 9:17 am

Neuters via Antiwar.com : Putin Calls For Mutual Ban on Election Meddling With US
https://news.antiwar.com/2020/09/25/putin-calls-for-mutual-ban-on-election-meddling-with-us/

US intel agencies claim Russia, China, and Iran are meddling in 2020 election

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the US and Russia should sign an agreement promising not to meddle in each other's elections. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-usa-putin/putin-says-russia-and-u-s-should-agree-not-to-meddle-in-each-others-elections-idUSKCN26G1LJ

Putin proposed, "exchanging guarantees of non-interference in each other's internal affairs, including electoral processes, including using information and communication technologies and high-tech methods."..

####

That is some excellently timed next level trolling from Pootie-McPoot-Face.

MARK CHAPMAN September 27, 2020 at 12:19 pm

Of course the USA will never agree to such a proposal, because (a) it does not regard its meddling as 'interference' but as the bringing of the gift of freedom, (b) it stands on its absolute right of judgment as to what is a situation that requires more democracy and what is not, and (c) it probably knows at some level that Russia did not meddle in the US elections, and that it would therefore in that case be constraining its own behavior in exchange for nothing.

But then, when refused – I imagine the US will try to extract something from the offer, such as "A-HA!! So you ADMIT to meddling in our elections!! – Russia can obviously claim, "Well, we tried."

[Aug 24, 2020] American Exceptionalism by Larry Romanoff

Aug 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

"Welcome to America, the Land of Freedom" , read the signs at Washington, DC's international airport as you line up to have your fingerprints taken and your body cavities searched for mini nuclear devices.

I could have titled this article "Setting the Cat among the Pigeons". In an attempt to forestall the expected avalanche of disagreement, I confirm my awareness of statistics produced by a wide range of individuals and institutions of widely-varying intent and ideology, and which can "prove" almost anything one cares to prove, GINI coefficients being one easy example. The statistics on which this article is based were not selected carelessly and are not invalidated by a reader's disaffection.

The United States Is the Best Only at Being the Worst

The US today has the greatest income inequality of all Western nations [1] [2] , surpassing China and more than a few undeveloped nations as well. From this, it has the lowest social mobility of most nations [3] , meaning that improving one's station in life is becoming increasingly impossible. If your parents are not educated and wealthy, you will never be either, and the American Dream is dead . The US today has the smallest middle class and the largest lower class of all major nations, the middle class having been mostly eviscerated in 2008, that process completing itself today, and will probably never now recover. Americans carry the largest amount of personal debt among all nations [4] , including credit card debt and increasingly unrepayable student loans , and the US now leads the world in personal bankruptcies [5] . Since 2008, according to the US government's own statistics, the US has the lowest percentage of home ownership at 57% [6] , ranked 43rd in the world, far below China at 90% [7] , and America now has a virtual epidemic of homelessness compared to most other nations, with untabulated millions of homeless families with children.

The poverty rate in the US is extraordinary, with official statistics placing this number at 13% but in reality with more than 25% of the population living below the poverty line, in most cases far below [8] . It also has the highest percentage of children living in poverty , and with almost a third of all US citizens dependent on food stamps and other government aid to survive [9] . Unemployment is also extraordinary. According to the government's own statistics, fully 40% of working-age Americans have no job [10] [11] , with many of the rest under-employed , working only part-time. It is only American cities or those in the most impoverished of nations that contain such vast areas of urban decay and desperate slums like those of Detroit and Chicago, where half of the areas are violent crime-ridden wastelands where no one goes.

The US has the highest educational costs , and yet the poorest overall quality of education in the developed world and parts of the rest. Read this article [12] . It will open your eyes. A few good schools or universities in an entire nation do not make it a world leader, the proof residing in the highest level of functional illiteracy of all major nations (25%) and a truly legendary level of ignorance [13] . The US is the only country in the world where, in repeated polls for the past 60 years, a full 75% of the adult and student populations cannot find their own country on a map of the world [14]
. Compared to other nations, the US has the highest health care costs by a factor of two to ten, and yet has a surprisingly poor overall quality as well as the highest percentage of a population without health care [15] . The US has the highest infant mortality rate and the shortest life expectancy at birth of all major nations and far below many others [16] [17] , ranking around 50 in a list of countries. The US has the highest obesity rate of all nations, with nearly half of the population being overweight [18] , one of the highest rates of sexually-transmitted diseases [19] , of anti-depressant drug use that increased by 65% in only 15 years [20] , a national crisis in opioid drug use [21] and of depression . It has the highest teen-age pregnancy and abortion rates of all developed nations [22] , and one of the highest divorce rates [23] [24] . Note that in many international studies US statistics aren't collected because, as observers noted "The authors left out the US because the country is "an extreme outlier." The US also has the largest number of one-person households (about 30%) [25] [26] , and the largest percentage of fatherless children (about 25%) [27] .

America is one of the two most racist countries in the world, where even the random and unprovoked killing of non-whites is not only permissible but usually meets with approval. Americans are gun-crazy, owning more guns than the entire rest of the world combined, and more guns than all the world's police and military. They carry their guns everywhere, and use them everywhere, the US having the highest rates of gun shootings and murders of any nation, with more than 20 small children and more than 200 adults being sent each day to either the hospital or the cemetery. Many small American cities, like the nation's capital of Washington DC with only half a million people, or places like Detroit or Chicago, have more murders each year (by an order of magnitude) than does Shanghai with 25 million people. The overall homicide rate for China is 0.6 and for Shanghai 0.2; that for the US is 4.0. The gun death rate for children in the US is 40 times higher than for any other nation in the world [28] [29] . The US also has the highest number of crimes committed with firearms each year, a staggering total of a minimum confirmed of 500,000 and an estimated 3 million [30] [31] , and the highest number of violent raids on private homes, with more than 80,000 instances per year of SWAT teams kicking in someone's front door in the middle of the night, always terrorising and sometimes killing the occupants, usually without identifying themselves and often attacking the wrong house. [32] [33]

The US has the highest rate of cocaine and meth usage of any nation [34] , thanks in large part to the CIA's very successful war on drugs which permits that agency to import cocaine duty-free. The US has the highest rate of gender inequality [35] among industrialised nations, far exceeding egalitarian nations like China (and formerly Iraq and Libya). The US has the highest number of lawyers and lawsuits in the world, by orders of magnitude, a reflection of both natural belligerence and inborn greed, Americans spending twice as much on lawsuits each year as on new cars [36] . Japan has 14,000 lawyers, China 160,000, the US 1.35 million (11 per 100,000 for Japan and China compared to 300 per 100,000 for the US). Americans surpass the entire world in their amount of useless consumption , having long passed the point where it can be deemed pathological. As one measure, that of shopping mall space per capita, Germany has 2.7 sq ft per person, Japan has 3.9 and the UK has 5. For every American shopper there are 24 sq ft of mall. The US has by far the highest level of carbon emissions on a per-capita basis, thanks in no small part to General Motors who has repeatedly committed genocide on electric automobiles.

Wars and violence are defining adjectives of America. The US as a nation is now, and has always been, intensely militaristic, inherently provocative, combative and violent. The US is by far the largest merchant of death in the world, being responsible for about 70% of total world arms sales . For comparison, Russia is second at 17%, while China is at 3%. If we include everything, the US spends about twice as much on its military each year as the entire rest of the world combined, already well-documented by many authors at well in excess of $1 trillion. It also has the world's largest network of foreign military bases , with more than 1,000 such installations, including many that appear on no map, and the world's largest number of bio-weapons labs , with more than 400 outside the US. America has launched the most wars of aggression in the history of the world and has been at war for 235 of its 243 years as a nation , all those wars unprovoked and unjustified, and none of which were either wars of 'liberation' or 'to make the world safe for democracy', but for colonisation and plunder. The US is also outstanding in that it has assassinated more foreign world leaders and other officials (about 150) [37] than even Israel has done, and also operates the largest network of torture prisons that has ever existed in the history of the world. The US also wins first prize for having some of the most bloodthirsty homicidal mass murderers and pathological killers in the history of the world, far exceeding our former heroes Stalin and Hitler. Kissinger, Albright and Curtis LeMay come immediately to mind, but there are more.

The US has by far the highest incarceration rate of all nations, with more than 25% of the world's prisoners in its jails and with almost 35% of all adult Americans having a criminal record . Alarmingly, the US has by far the highest number of internment camps – prison camps – in the world, all 800 fully-staffed but empty, waiting for Americans to dare launch another Occupy Wall Street or similar protest. The US has the most militarised police forces of any nation, with frighteningly heavy-duty military hardware like MRAPs, APCs, drone aircraft and automatic weapons. The police motto "To protect and serve" that was once plastered on every police car, has been amended. It now reads "To occupy and kill". The US has by far the highest number of civilians killed each year by police (well over 1,000) of any nation in the world, even including rogue states and axis of evil members. Americans have far more to fear from their local police than from terrorists. Police brutality in America is now legendary, so common as to be one of the nation's defining adjectives, with beatings, shootings, harassment, false criminal charges reaching epidemic proportions and increasing.

America is the world's only nation with a website named "Killed by Police.org" to document the epidemic of civilians killed by police, and the only nation where local newspapers have sections devoted to listing the number of daily killings in each neighborhood of the major cities to assist citizens in house purchases. Violent crime rates in the US are at least an order of magnitude above those of China or Japan (and many other nations).

The US also has one of the most corrupt police and judicial systems in the world. No Western country is particularly free of this charge, but America excels. As one example, the US has by far the largest number in the world of citizens falsely convicted by fraudulent testimony , some 40,000 convictions caused by one fraudulent forensics lab alone. And of course, the US has the world's largest espionage network by orders of magnitude, with an ambition to steal every secret and to record and save every communication by every human on the planet.

It is no longer a secret that American-style democracy has a few flaws , with extreme dysfunction and rampant corruption among the more visible, though looting the public trough would run a close second. The US also has the government most totally over-run with puppet-masters and controlled by parasitic aliens, having entirely lost control to its various lobbies and with all its elected officials having sworn allegiance to the Jews and Israel rather than to America. The US has the highest number and percentage of Presidents, Secretaries of State and Defense Secretaries who were certifiable as criminally insane and who should have been given lobotomies and committed to institutions for life. Too many names to list here. America is the one nation that has more or less institutionalised government corruption at virtually every level, extending deeply into the judiciary, the regulatory bodies and Congress, as well as local and state governments. The US is well-known for compiling the most fraudulent economic statistics of all developed and undeveloped nations, including the hugely fictitious 'average income' of $45,000, and is one of the most indebted of all countries in the world today. I strongly suggest everyone read this short article on US economic statistics [38] and cease the rubbish about how China's numbers can't be trusted.

Not to be outdone, the US media are in a class by themselves in terms of dishonesty, bias, censorship, and petty opinion-based journalism. American journalists are mostly cut from the same cloth, displaying more or less the same malignancies.

The US has the most complete immunity for elite white-collar crime , prosecuting only its person-companies but never the persons. Americans boast of their transparent and corruption-free financial system, and the US media enjoys trashing China for what appears to be an occasional corporate fraud. But in the long list of the world's largest corporate bankruptcies due to fraud and corruption , all but one occurred in the US. Ron Unz prepared a list that included Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Global Crossing, Adelphia, MF Global, Lehman, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, and Wachovia. The US has also been home to the world's largest Ponzi schemes like those of Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford, that resulted in almost $100 billion in public losses. It is the US, not China, that is the home to corporate fraud and deceit, while all but two of the largest corporate frauds in China in recent decades were committed by American firms, not Chinese.

To end our list of areas in which American Exceptionalism truly shines, the US has for years been deservedly voted the world's most hated nation , is widely reviled as the world's greatest bully , and judged by all peoples – including Americans – as the greatest threat to world peace .

Lest anyone think the above list is unfair or exaggerated, you can do a simple test by applying the items to other countries. Germany, for example, or China or Canada. Certainly every nation has some deaths, crime, divorces, military spending and so on, but none of the items in this list can be applied to Germany, China or Canada, nor to any other nation. The US does have the greatest debt, highest military spending, racism, killings, guns, incarceration, torture prisons, initiated wars, and all the rest. The records for inequality, obesity, consumption, personal debt, poverty, cocaine use, murders, all belong to America, with no other nation even in the running. The claim is as demonstrably true for ignorance and hypocrisy as it is for police brutality. As an accusation or an indictment, the list is 100% accurate, a factual description of America as it is today, seen without the propaganda and rose-colored glasses.

A complete list of areas of American Exceptionalism must include one other item:The most traitors . This unfortunate category exists on several levels, the first being the President and White House staff and the US Congress who, as we already know, have pledged allegiance to Israel rather than America. The second is the foreign-owned US FED , criminally pursuing its own agenda while systematically destroying the economic fabric of America. The cadre of elite owners of most large US banks and multinationals fall into this category as well, pursuing their own private advantage while consciously gutting the economy of their own nation.

But there is a third, more pervasive level, a large cadre of educated Americans who are essentially compradors, traitors to most of their values and to their people , embedded in the system and dependent on it, participating fully in the destruction of their own country by acting as lieutenants for the officials of the secret government. These individuals are vital for the success of the transformation of the US to a fascist state, with the elites dependent upon them to execute their policies, yet they also profit from their positions in terms of attractive salaries and protection from much of the law. These are the people who best know of all the crimes and social injustices, being in fact a willing part of their execution process, but least likely to blow the whistle for fear of damaging their careers. It is the middle level of educated executives, lawyers, accountants and managers in government, criminal corporations, Foundations, think tanks, the media , and so many others, who are directly responsible for knowingly inflicting the vast damage on their own people and nation. Like the CEOs of the banks and multinationals, these compradors seek only their own advantage, discarding their human values and blinding themselves to the harm they do.

The following bulleted list is for your ease in reading.


d dan , says: August 22, 2020 at 5:57 pm GMT

But, but, but they are not ordinary Americans' faults. They are China's faults. Russia's faults, Iran's faults, Israel's faults, Venezuela's faults, Cuba's faults, North Korea's faults, advantage-taking allies' faults, greedy trade partners' faults, UN's faults, WHO's faults, WTO's faults, immigrants' faults, Jews' faults, Muslims' faults, Blacks' faults, Browns' faults, Yellows' faults, Reds' faults, communists' faults, socialists' faults, liberals' faults, conservatives' faults, libertarians' faults, racists' faults, capitalists' faults, globalists' faults, 1 percenter's faults, Bill Gates' faults, Soros' faults, Koch's faults, Trump's faults, Obama's faults, Bushes' faults, Clinton' faults, Reagan's faults, politicians' faults, the other parties' (GOP, democrat) faults, red states' faults, blue states' faults, purple states' faults, States governments' faults, Supreme Court's faults, lobbyists' faults, Pentagon's faults, Military-Industry Complex's faults, Federal Reserve's faults, Wall Street's faults, Silicon Valley's faults, 5G's faults, Hollywood's faults, big media' faults, deep states' faults, Covid-19's faults, climate change's faults, California fire's faults,

The number of "someone else faults" – is this another exceptionalism?

obwandiyag , says: August 22, 2020 at 7:14 pm GMT

Look at the comments. These bozos don't care about inequality. They don't care if the rich are eating their lunch. They don't care about the poverty rate, and think that blacks make up all the poor, when their are actually more poor whites than poor blacks. They think the majority of homeless are black when the majority of homeless are white. (The cross-eyed retards.) They don't care about the wars. NIMBY is the farthest they can see. Horizons are foreshortened for them. They actually think that, say, Nigeria or North Korea is more corrupt than the US....

Cyrano , says: August 22, 2020 at 7:37 pm GMT

What makes US truly exceptional are its elites. Obviously this exceptionalism doesn't extend all the way down to more than half of the population – the so called deplorables – who are thankfully replaceable, which is currently under way – just to show them who are really the exceptional ones.

Luckily, no one is even planning to do any replacement of the exceptionals – which would be treason of course, and probably dealt with accordingly, but not to worry, once the 3rd world deplorables fully replace the domestic deplorables, the replacement of the exceptionals WILL occur, despite the beliefs of the degenerates that they possess some unique qualities that are universally admired – especially by their 3rd world protégés.

You see, the 3rd world deplorables tend to be emotional that way, they don't care about the "unique" qualities of the exceptionals and eventually will come to see the different hue of the skin of the exceptionals, exceptionally offensive to their sensibilities and will do away with the degenerates who see themselves as untouchables – but that's probably few decades down the road and the degenerates definitely don't possess such fair-sightedness to see what's coming to them.

Ultrafart the Brave , says: Website August 23, 2020 at 2:41 am GMT
@obwandiyag

All they care about is race race race.

Seems to me that's the rules of the game in the USA, and the lemmings are more than happy to play it.

Horizons are foreshortened for them.

Exactly. These dynamics are being engineered for the desired long-term result, and the compliant lemmings are the means to the end.

Patagonia Man , says: August 23, 2020 at 6:41 am GMT
@Ultrafart the Brave g in the US have you observed the architecture of the public buildings – Federal and State? Even the Congress and seat of the legislative branch of the federal government, is called The Capitol, after Rome. Coincidence?

So when we see a world body, something like the UN Security Council for instance, expanded to include 5 more countries e.g., Germany, India, Brazil, Japan and another(?) that would give us our 10 "crowns" on one of the 7 heads I've designated above (which one of them is the 7th, IOW has primacy, is open to debate).

It's all there hiding in plain sight , for our eyes to see.

Cheers!

Tono Bungay , says: August 23, 2020 at 8:51 am GMT

Okay, okay. When I hit a sentence like this "even the random and unprovoked killing of non-whites is not only permissible but usually meets with approval," I realize I'm dealing with a chucklehead who swallows everything he hears in the news media. The news media go out of their way to highlight all white-on-black crime while they ignore the reverse. On Americans' general ignorance, though, I think he's unfortunately right.

GreatSocialist , says: August 23, 2020 at 9:57 am GMT

This is trolling but sadly, it is also based on the truth.

Nowadays, all the young people outside America no longer want to go to America to work or study, and the older people, who used to admire or look up to America now look at at it with pity or disgust.

It's very sad what America has now become, esp under the relentless idiocy of the corrupt and incompetent Trump regime.

America has now sadly become like the "shit-hole" countries Trump told those 4 young minority congresswomen to go back home to.

onebornfree , says: Website August 23, 2020 at 12:43 pm GMT
@GreatSocialist

"America has now sadly become like the "shit-hole" countries Trump told those 4 young minority congresswomen to go back home to."

I'm no Trump fan, but honestly, I have to give credit where credits due for that particularly on-target comment of his.

peter mcloughlin , says: August 23, 2020 at 2:17 pm GMT

Every empire in history has believed in its own exceptionalism: and history has always, ultimately, proven it wrong. This delusion is, to quote the last of the author's bullet points – the "greatest threat to world peace".
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

Anon [103] Disclaimer , says: August 23, 2020 at 3:16 pm GMT

Mr.. Romanoff: "America is one of the two most racist countries in the world, where even the random and unprovoked killing of non-whites is not only permissible but usually meets with approval."

I stopped reading here. Mr. Romanoff isn't as informed or experienced as I'd thought, but this is outright deception, ignorance or both. He hasn't apologized yet, so I'll guess both.

Realist , says: August 23, 2020 at 4:08 pm GMT

America is one of the two most racist countries in the world, where even the random and unprovoked killing of non-whites is not only permissible but usually meets with approval.

Enough of your fucking shit!

Blacks in America are the luckiest blacks on the planet.

Americans are gun-crazy, owning more guns than the entire rest of the world combined, and more guns than all the world's police and military.

That is patently false it is amazing how full of shit you are.

Justsaying , says: August 24, 2020 at 10:12 am GMT

Another fact goes unmentioned: the US has the largest number of unindicted war criminals in the post-WW II world, a fact that allows for an escalation of war crimes committed. For those here who refuse to accept the racist nature of our country, they need only look at the ethnic makeup of the millions of victims of our unprovoked foreign wars of aggression.

Maowasayali , says: August 24, 2020 at 8:25 am GMT
@Larry Romanoff i Restoration was a Jew operation. Japan, like America, are both 100% ZOG.

Emperor Hirohito was only 5 feet 4 inches tall, but they told him he was 10 feet tall and Japan was (((exceptional))).

Hence the exceptional cruelty with which the Master Race Japs dispensed with their enemies during WW2. They groomed him well for that kosher mass slaughter.

https://www.gettyimages.ca/detail/news-photo/hirohito-the-crown-prince-of-japan-inspects-a-guard-of-news-photo/527737469

GreatSocialist , says: August 24, 2020 at 8:28 am GMT

What Mr.Romanoff has written is obviously true, despite its troll-some flavor.

One point that may have been neglected is how the USA is the greatest money launderer in the world.

It does this by printing money out of the thin air(ie: quantitative easing), and thus creating new money to pay for all that stuff that China makes for the US consumer.

This has allowed the USA to live well beyond its means, and have a bloated and overrated military that is used to attack other small countries that cannot effectively defend themselves and thus create great profits for the military-industrial complex, at the expense of millions of foreign lives and only some thousands of US soldiers.

This sort of regime change operation is actually no more than a stock market pump and dump operation, first you demonize some little country with false accusations, sanction them and provoke them into doing some hostile acts, or pretend that they have made some human rights violation like using poison gas or are committing genocide or incarceration of a minority, then bomb the shit out of them, and then rack in all that weapons used and resupply bucks. Maybe after that, install a puppet govt and steal their resources.

Oh Yeah, Big Daddy Warbucks! Go USA!

Also, by having the US dollar as the reserve currency(past cleverness no longer present), all other countries have to keep a supply of dollars for trading and thus the demand for this imaginary currency and also demand for US Treasuries. Thus countries buy US debt, further funding the USA's bloated military and overspending.

Everybody knows the USA will never pay back that debt, and also the debt will never go down. It will just go up and up until nobody wants to use the US dollar or hold US debt and then the US dollar will crash.

This is the way that the shit-faced USA rapes the world financially, and everybody knows this.

The USA was founded on the genocide of the Red Indians and the stealing of their land. The USA made 200 treaties with the Red Indians and broke every one.

After that, the USA grew fat on the slave labor of innocent Africans, raping their women and "going black" in reverse.

But Trump is even better, with his family descending from primitive savages in the black forest of Germany. Sometimes they caught the wild boars there and reamed them good, sometimes the wild boars caught THEM and reamed them good.

In any case, Trump's grand-daddy fled conscription and came to the USA as a lice-ridden and filthy immigrant, but made good selling liquor and supplying prostitutes to the miners. A pimp.

And Trump's daddy was a KKK member, arrested at a KKK rally after being too slow to run away from the police, and then became a front-man for Nazi business interests in the USA before WW2.

From Drumpf to Trump, but in the end, no change to the clown-like shit-show called the Trump drama series.

Tommy Thompson , says: August 24, 2020 at 9:00 am GMT

Wow. a very precise shot at America's most underlying problem:

These individuals are vital for the success of the transformation of the US to a fascist state, with the elites dependent upon them to execute their policies, yet they also profit from their positions in terms of attractive salaries and protection from much of the law . These are the people who best know of all the crimes and social injustices, being in fact a willing part of their execution process, but least likely to blow the whistle for fear of damaging their careers. It is the middle level of educated executives, lawyers, accountants and managers in government, criminal corporations, Foundations, think tanks, the media, and so many others, who are directly responsible for knowingly inflicting the vast damage on their own people and nation

A very illuminating description of modern day America, no punches pulled by Larry Romanoff.

upro , says: August 24, 2020 at 1:11 pm GMT

Larry is a classic white uncle type. The Japanese rightwing have their own "white guy who is on our side" who spouts their beliefs in english about how the Rape of Nanking never happened, Japan didn't start the war, Tojo dindu nuffin and they love him for it. Larry is the Chinese version. Larry's worldview = China never did anything wrong in its entire history. Tienamen was a myth, Great Leap Foward famine was a myth, forced abortions due to One Child Policy is a myth, China's neighbours hating China's guts is a myth, America bad, America bad, America bad.

Can you name even one negative thing about China's government?

Mefobills , says: August 24, 2020 at 1:15 pm GMT
@Tom Welsh "Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem -- neat, plausible, and wrong".

You will have to explain why America prior to 1965 immigration act, was a scientific and intellectual powerhouse, without peer in the world.

Whites were 89% of the population of the U.S. in 1965, and the amount of northeast asians, and sub-continent Asians was statistically insignificant (1 percent or less). This white co-hort of 89% had the additional drag of a black population that is not known for its engineering and technical prowess.

Tommy Thompson , says: August 24, 2020 at 1:25 pm GMT

This is a fast but excellent piece in placing a mirror on America in the 21st Century. I for one dont understand why there are so many negative replies to LR's conclusions. There are obviously many so called White Nationalists or Patriots (both real and fake) venting rage here, that still believe they are "Exceptional" above the rest of the non-Anglo Saxon world, but as LR says the exceptionalism might be more on the negative side these days. The critics need to grow up and take responsibility for the mess the US is now in, in order to fix things, if that is their real goal.

I find his bullet list of conclusions to be basically in line, but of course there surely exists a similar bullet list of positive achievements to the US experiment as well, but that was obviously not the thrust of this article. As should be well understood, self aggrandizement does not fix anything.

What all Americans should agree on is the US national experiment is being sunk maybe even per plan, from certain elements of the controlling leadership, but not necessarily by us "bottom feeders" as the moneyed elite like to call the rest of us these days.

The cries of outrage and venom being spewed at LR would be better placed into how to fix things in the USA and how the population can come together to put America back on a sane and positive coarse that serves the entire populace, not those who just consider them Chosen of some sort. What we have had the last 40 years, is surely a divide and conquer mission by the two parties.

For me the LR bullet list is a fairly accurate of national examples that demonstrate a societal and governance destruction. My exceptions are :

The most strident nationalism of all nations
Highest level of racism and race-related violence

Other countries can be exemplified here of potentially taking the lead, one being our Most Favored
State, which is a large part of our national problem, suckering our leadership at every turn, and plundering our wealth and ethos.

Realist , says: August 24, 2020 at 2:09 pm GMT
@Tom Welsh

Whooops! And there goes a large percentage of the USA's scientists, engineers, doctors and other highly intelligent professionals.

This country did fine until we started immigration from non white countries this country was built by white Europeans. Your statement is ridiculous.

sonofman , says: August 24, 2020 at 2:56 pm GMT

This should be the title and subtitle of this article:

The Destruction of American Exceptionalism

The consequences of the decisions and policies of selfish, corrupt, traitorous and dishonorable politicians who are the puppets of the international corporate and finance elite

JohnF , says: August 24, 2020 at 3:12 pm GMT

Probably a lot here is true, but let me play Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian Knot with a very simple question: if America is the worst, then why do we have so much immigration?

Half-Jap , says: August 24, 2020 at 3:30 pm GMT
@JohnF

The USA is the best of the worst, and has maybe the worst handle on influx of the miserables.
Compared to Japan, the US cities are almost universally shitholes, or on the way there, where immigrants seem to be draw, though the US plantations can always use their labor.
It's always been a neoliberal project to open borders to destroy the citizen worker who had some rights.

Half-Jap , says: August 24, 2020 at 3:37 pm GMT
@Larry Romanoff

Wherever there is benefit from lies, States lie. UK re Hitler, OZ re Taz, or even China re Japan, US re China today, etc.
My appreciation of Mao was enhanced from facts, while a lot is mythology. Humans aren't perfect, and act under circumstance for the best.
My emperor should offer a post-humous medal to Sun Yatsen, his supporters, and Mao and his collaborators.
Then we should figure out outstanding issues on a non-western idea of territoriality.

[Aug 03, 2020] American exceptionalism fans imperial designs. We must reject it. by CLAES G. RYN

Notable quotes:
"... A striking example of philosophical messiness and confusion is that the conservative movement even incorporated clearly anti-conservative ideas, specifically, the anti-historicism advanced by Leo Strauss and his followers. Strauss championed what he called "natural right," which he saw as sharply opposed to tradition. He called the latter "the ancestral" or "convention." To look to them for guidance was to be guilty of the great offense of "historicism," by which he meant moral relativism or nihilism. History, Strauss insisted, is irrelevant to understanding what is right. Only ahistorical, purely abstract reason is normative. ..."
"... The Jaffaite notion that America rejected the past and was founded on revolutionary, abstract, universal ideas contributed to what this writer has termed "the new Jacobinism." According to this ideology, America is "exceptional" by virtue of its founding principles. Since these principles belong to all humanity, America must help remake societies around the world. "Moral clarity" demands uncompromising adherence to the principles. The forces of good must defeat the forces of evil. Inherently monopolistic and imperial, American principles justify foreign policy hawkishness and interventionism. ..."
"... These contrasting views of America entail wholly different nationalisms. The moralistic universalism of American exceptionalism, with its demand that all respect its dictates runs counter to the American constitutional spirit of compromise, deliberation, and respect for minorities. Exceptionalism does not defuse or restrain the will to power, but feeds it, justifying arrogance, assertiveness, and even belligerence. ..."
"... In a speech in the spring of 2019, Pompeo declared that America is "exceptional." America is, he said, "a place and history apart from normal human experience." It has a mission to oppose evil in the world. America is entitled to "respect." It should dictate terms to "rogue" powers like Iran and confront countries like China and Russia that are "intent on eroding American power." This speech was given and loudly cheered at the 40th anniversary gala of the Claremont Institute in California, whose intellectual founder was -- Harry Jaffa. ..."
"... American exceptionalism is in important ways the opposite of a conservatism or a nationalism that defends the moral and cultural heritage that generated American constitutionalism. Exceptionalism fans imperial designs. ..."
"... the phony opposition between nationalism and American exceptionalism on the one hand, and globalism. Any nationalism is only one step removed from globalism, but the nationalism of small countries is usually fairly harmless because the countries themselves are weak. But American nationalism and exceptionalism is in practice indistinguishable from globalism. It simply makes explicit from which location the globe will be ruled. ..."
"... The original idea behind American Exceptionalism is that we are the "Shining City on the Hill". In other words, we were a good example to others. There was nothing in there about the residents of that Shining City going out and invading its neighbors to force them to follow its good example. ..."
"... Sociopaths respect no limits on their power. ..."
"... Actually, according to Kurt Vonnegut, it was neither nationalism nor liberty - but piracy! One group of pirates trying to break away from another. Then again, perhaps that is what you mean by the heralded "liberty"? ..."
Jul 25, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
A child waves the United States flag from the crown of Liberty Enlightening the World, less formally known as The Statue of Liberty, on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. | Detail of: 'Statue of Liberty' by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.

Reactions to globalization, the Trump presidency, and the coronavirus pandemic have turned discussions of American conservatism increasingly into discussions of "nationalism." Regrettably, terminological confusion is rampant. Both "conservatism" and "nationalism" are words of many and even contradictory meanings.

The strengths of post-World War II American intellectual conservatism have been widely heralded. As for its weaknesses, one trait stands out that has greatly impeded intellectual stringency: a deep-seated impatience with the supposedly "finer points" of philosophy. Making do with loosely defined terms has made conservatism susceptible to intellectual flabbiness, contradiction, and manipulation.

This deficiency is connected to a virtual obsession with electoral politics. William F. Buckley's path-breaking National Review was an intellectual magazine, but its primary purpose was to prepare the ground for political victories, most of all for capturing the presidency. The desire to forge a political alliance among diverse groups pushed deep intellectual fissures into the background. Having a rather narrowly political understanding of what shapes the future, most conservatives thought that the election and presidency of Ronald Reagan signified the "triumph" of conservatism; but the triumph was hollow. The reason is that in the long run politicians have less power than those who shape our view of reality, our innermost hopes and fears, and our deeper sensibilities. A crucial role is here played by "the culture" -- universities, schools, churches, the arts, media, book publishing, advertising, Hollywood, and the rest of the entertainment industry -- which is why America kept moving leftward.

For post-war so-called "movement" conservatives, conservatism meant chiefly limited government, a free market, anti-communism, and a strong defense. These tenets were all focused on politics, and vastly different motives hid behind each of them. Why were these tenets called "conservatism"? Rather than point to a few policy preferences, should that term not refer to a general attitude to life, a wish to conserve something, the best of a heritage? One thinks of the moral and cultural sources of American liberty and constitutionalism. But, outside of ceremonial occasions, most movement conservatives placed their emphasis elsewhere.

A striking example of philosophical messiness and confusion is that the conservative movement even incorporated clearly anti-conservative ideas, specifically, the anti-historicism advanced by Leo Strauss and his followers. Strauss championed what he called "natural right," which he saw as sharply opposed to tradition. He called the latter "the ancestral" or "convention." To look to them for guidance was to be guilty of the great offense of "historicism," by which he meant moral relativism or nihilism. History, Strauss insisted, is irrelevant to understanding what is right. Only ahistorical, purely abstract reason is normative.

Hampered by a lack of philosophical education, many Straussians have been oblivious to the far-reaching and harmful ramifications of this anti-historicism. By blithely combining it with ideas of very different origin, they have concealed, even from themselves, its animosity to tradition.

One of Strauss's most influential disciples, Harry Jaffa, made the radical implications of Straussian anti-historicism explicit. In his view, America's Founders did not build on a heritage. They deliberately turned their backs on the past. Jaffa wrote: "To celebrate the American Founding is to celebrate revolution." America's revolution belonged among the other modern revolutions. It is mild "as compared with subsequent revolutions in France, Russia, China, Cuba, or elsewhere," he wrote, but "it nonetheless embodied the greatest attempt at innovation that human history had recorded." The U.S. Constitution did not grow out of the achievements of ancestors. On the contrary, radical innovators gave America a fresh start. What is distinctive and noble about America is that, in the name of ahistorical, abstract, universal principles, it broke with the past.

This view flies in the face of overwhelming historical evidence. The reason the Founders were upset with the British government is that it was acting in a radical, arbitrary manner that violated the old British constitution. John Adams spoke of "grievous innovation." John Dickinson protested "dreadful novelty." What the colonists wanted, Adams wrote, was "nothing new," but respect for traditional rights and the common law. The Constitution of the Framers reaffirmed and creatively developed an ancient heritage.

The Jaffaite notion that America rejected the past and was founded on revolutionary, abstract, universal ideas contributed to what this writer has termed "the new Jacobinism." According to this ideology, America is "exceptional" by virtue of its founding principles. Since these principles belong to all humanity, America must help remake societies around the world. "Moral clarity" demands uncompromising adherence to the principles. The forces of good must defeat the forces of evil. Inherently monopolistic and imperial, American principles justify foreign policy hawkishness and interventionism.

Compare this notion of America to what is implied in Benjamin Franklin's famous phrase about what the Constitutional Convention had produced -- "a republic, if you can keep it." To sustain the Constitution, Americans would have to cultivate the moral and cultural traits that had given rise to it in the first place. To be an American is to defend an historically evolved inheritance, to live up to what may be called the "constitutional personality." Only such people are capable of the kind of conduct that the Constitution values and requires. Americans must, first of all, be able to control the will to power, beginning with self. They must respect the law, rise above the passions of the moment, take the long view, deliberate, compromise, and respect minorities. Whether applied to domestic or foreign affairs, the temperament of American constitutionalism is modesty and restraint. There is no place for unilateral dictates.

These contrasting views of America entail wholly different nationalisms. The moralistic universalism of American exceptionalism, with its demand that all respect its dictates runs counter to the American constitutional spirit of compromise, deliberation, and respect for minorities. Exceptionalism does not defuse or restrain the will to power, but feeds it, justifying arrogance, assertiveness, and even belligerence.

During the presidency of Donald Trump many proponents of American exceptionalism who want preferment have recast their anti-historical universalism as "nationalism," showing that the term can mean almost anything. It is now "nationalist" to demand that American principles be everywhere respected. For example, Mike Pompeo, a person of strong appetites and great ambition, has put this belief behind his campaign of assertiveness and "maximum pressure."

In a speech in the spring of 2019, Pompeo declared that America is "exceptional." America is, he said, "a place and history apart from normal human experience." It has a mission to oppose evil in the world. America is entitled to "respect." It should dictate terms to "rogue" powers like Iran and confront countries like China and Russia that are "intent on eroding American power." This speech was given and loudly cheered at the 40th anniversary gala of the Claremont Institute in California, whose intellectual founder was -- Harry Jaffa.

What may seem to political practitioners and political intellectuals to be hair-splitting philosophical distinctions can, on the contrary, have enormous practical significance. American exceptionalism is in important ways the opposite of a conservatism or a nationalism that defends the moral and cultural heritage that generated American constitutionalism. Exceptionalism fans imperial designs. The culture of constitutionalism opposes them.

Claes G. Ryn is professor of politics and founding director of the new Center for the Study of Statesmanship at The Catholic University of America. His many books include America the Virtuous and A Common Human Ground , now in a new paperback edition.

Related: Introducing the TAC Symposium: What Is American Conservatism?

See all the articles published in the symposium, here.

FND10 days ago

Leo Strauss is the father of neoconservatism.

bumbershoot10 days ago
Americans must, first of all, be able to control the will to power, beginning with self. They must respect the law, rise above the passions of the moment, take the long view, deliberate, compromise, and respect minorities.

All lovely ideas. Too bad our "conservative" president is capable of none of these.

kirthigdon10 days ago

Great essay by Professor Ryn in exposing again, as he has done so often before, the phony opposition between nationalism and American exceptionalism on the one hand, and globalism. Any nationalism is only one step removed from globalism, but the nationalism of small countries is usually fairly harmless because the countries themselves are weak. But American nationalism and exceptionalism is in practice indistinguishable from globalism. It simply makes explicit from which location the globe will be ruled.

Feral Finster9 days ago

All true, every word, but the problem with American exceptionalism isn't a matter of semantics or clever arguments but a matter of power.

This is why the definition of exceptionalism keeps shifting, because as a practical matter it means "whatever is in the interests of empire" at this particular moment in this particular case.

TheSnark9 days ago • edited

The original idea behind American Exceptionalism is that we are the "Shining City on the Hill". In other words, we were a good example to others. There was nothing in there about the residents of that Shining City going out and invading its neighbors to force them to follow its good example.

These days we are trying to force others to follow good ideals and high standards that we are ourselves following less and less.

Gaius Gracchus TheSnark9 days ago

Exactly. The author twists words and creates strawmen and red herrings and argues with dead men.

Washington and Hamilton set forth an idea of country separate from all others and different. Yes, America is and was exceptional. Friend to all, ally to none, an example to all the world, based in English heritage and culture. It was founded by conservative revolutionaries, who attempted to claw back freedoms taken away by those in London, who were becoming overlords of an empire. There was "year zero", and early America could draw on all of English history, plus the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, ancient Greece and Rome, as well as religious traditions going back to antiquity.

It was always the Jeffersonian impulse towards revolution that was different. Jefferson loved the Year Zero France. But Jefferson at his core was an idealist.

The problem was that idealists like Jefferson gradually gained power a little over a hundred years ago. Their idealism was used by those who wanted to exploit America's power to further their own goals contrary to the ideals of American exceptionalism and American tradition. Greed and idealism went together and America used the cover of American exceptionalism to create an empire.

As to Buckley, his goal seems more like controlled opposition than anything else. He was a gatekeeper for the powerful, defining acceptable conservatism, keeping conservatism on the plantation. Conservativism Inc continues to try to do so.

Trump is a return to classic American traditionalism and exceptionalism. He is attempting to reshape the world along nationalistic lines, which is why AMLO in Mexico praised him so much. Globalists don't want to lose their power. Oligarchs don't want to give up their exploitation and extraction systems. Pundits don't want to give up their money train and status. Bureaucrats don't want actual democracy.

We will see how it shakes out.

Andrew Gaius Gracchus8 days ago

Not so sure about the traditionalism part, but he at least represents the first real rejection of Wilsonianism in decades.

Disqus10021 L RNY9 days ago

On Wikipedia's list of the 50 cities with the world's highest homicide rates (per 100,000 population), the US has 4, South Africa has 4 and the rest are in Latin America. It hardly makes us the shining city on a hill or exceptional, unless you think a high crime rate is good.

Daniel Baker9 days ago

Mark Twain said, "The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them." Today I would modify Twain a bit; when conservatives adopt some radical idea, the radicals respond by declaring that idea worn out. Exhibit A would be the idea of "American exceptionalism."

The historical fact is that American exceptionalism is a Communist concept, devised by Stalin in 1929 to describe -- and to dismiss -- what his American agents told him about the huge differences between American society and European societies, both of which Soviet-sponsored parties were trying to control. These differences included far lesser class distinctions, greater racial animosities, a labor movement much more concerned with economic bargaining than fielding political candidates, vastly weaker political parties, much more ethnic and religious diversity, and more hostility to centralized government. Today, we would have to add far more imprisonment of criminals, more approval of the death penalty, and a jealous passion for the right to have guns, although those differences weren't nearly as wide in 1929 as now. American exceptionalism exists. You can argue about whether it is good or bad, and certainly some of the differences between America and Europe are better or worse than others, but it's pure pretense to claim that America is an ordinary, unexceptional Western country. And no one on the left made any such pretense, until people on the right started talking about and glorifying (or at least not denigrating) "American exceptionalism," which had previously been solely a term of contempt. The radicals invented the views, then declared them worn out when the conservatives adopted them.

The truth that America is an exceptional country does not, of course, mean that its foreign policy has always been wise, and certainly it does not mean that America's catastrophic blundering in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq were either morally right or good for Americans. It merely means that we can't correct those mistakes by pretending that the country we're trying to rescue is unexceptional, that it is no different from other societies, and thus that foreign policies accepted by European or Asian voters will necessarily be winners here too.

Daniel Baker Guest8 days ago

I don't know why you think any of this is even relevant to my point: that American exceptionalism is real, and that desperately needed foreign policy reforms won't work if we ignore that fact. Worse, the points you raise all distort the real nature of America's differences from other Western countries.

American and European laws on abortion are very little different; in most of Europe, as in America, abortion is legal and accepted, Poland being one of the very few exceptions. We're probably closest to Ireland, where abortion has been recently legalized but remains socially frowned on. Again, whether you or I think that's a good thing or a bad thing doesn't matter; it's simply not one of the major points of difference between America and Europe.

Explaining the difference in imprisonment between Europe and America solely by America's greater black and Hispanic population is wrong in so many ways I hardly know where to begin. First, the difference in imprisonment is very recent, starting in the early 1990s and largely devised by a centrist Democratic US president; America's black and Hispanic population has always been much larger than Europe's, so it can't explain the difference in imprisonment. Second, America imprisons whites as well as blacks much more than Europe does. Third, poor blacks and Hispanics commit crimes at the same rate as poor whites of the same economic status; poor people of whatever race or color choose to commit crimes more often, because they have more incentive to make that choice. The higher black and Hispanic crime rate simply reflects the fact that far more of them are poor. As long ago as the 19th century, the British poor were called by the upper class "the criminal classes," and that reflected the undeniable truth that the British poor, like poor people everywhere, committed more crime than anyone else.

I thank you for the BBC link; I had long suspected that Europe's ban on the death penalty often didn't reflect popular opinion at first, but I didn't have the data proving it. But that doesn't in any way change the fact that considerably more Americans than Europeans support the death penalty, and long have, which is why European elites were able to get away with banning it without losing elections, and American elites have not.

Again, I'm not saying anything about whether any of these differences between America and the rest of the West are good or bad.. My point is that they exist, and it's no good pretending that they don't merely because America's foreign policy isn't working very well.

Scott McLoughlin9 days ago

I'll say it over and over, but GOP is Right Wing Lockean (Maritime Imperialist) "Anything Goes" Liberalism. DNC is Left Wing Lockean (Maritime Imperialist) "Anything Goes" Liberalism. We use these words wrong in our USA. Traditionalist Conservatives have NEVER enjoyed political party representation here. We are to-date completely a-historical and delusionally racist "Novum Organum" conquistadors with English accents. Good News? Better futures lie ahead of us. Start with agrarianism, potable water, and arable land. North America is underpopulated. I worked for State Dept. I witnessed the World Bank's destruction of Ukraine. Ask me a real question. I'll answer honestly. We suffer post-WW2 legacy Daddy and Mommy Warbucks here, writing checks to their own kids. We can, must and will do better. Those without pasts are without futures. To Survive is to Sur Vivre, Live Above. Hold tight. Have faith.

Ray Woodcock9 days ago

There is the wish for what definitions should do in political and religious discussion, and then there is the reality of what they actually do. The wish is that, by using the word "definition," I am referring to something like the definition of a mathematical concept. We can define precisely what addition means. The problem is, we cannot do that with terms like conservatism. Ryn's argument illustrates the failure of that attempt: we have "wholly different nationalisms"; we have something that calls itself conservatism but it's wrong, because Ryn says so.

Definitionism leads to abstruse dispute, as scholars tussle over what is really nationalistic or conservative. The rest of us look on askance. Most people are not interested in a discussion filled with labels, like, "I'm a cisgender vegetarian transsexual white socialistic vegetarian Capricorn with subclinical mental disabilities." For most people, that sort of definition-oriented declaration comes across as hostile to discussion. Like, "I'm here in my castle. I dare you to try to penetrate it." The intrepid soul who attempts to start an actual friendly conversation, in response to that sort of statement, is likely to move away from definitionism. Not "You cannot be white: your skin is brown," but rather, "Really! My sister is a Capricorn!"

Definitionism (in some ways a/k/a labeling) is more likely to destroy dialogue than to create it. "Oh, you're a [fill in the blank]: you can't be good." It is possible to be a Nazi, a Bolshevik, or anything in between -- and still, in various regards, to be smart, friendly, successful, etc. Political dialogue is like dipping a ladle into a soup kettle: you may pull out some beans, some meat, some corn -- but possibly no one knows what else lurks in there. The attempt to define is is not merely a lost cause -- it basically misses the point.

dbriz8 days ago • edited

Ah but the revolution was not based at all on nationalism. It was for liberty. The Articles, as the war, were not based on ideas of nationalism but more libertarian than not. Lest we forget, the convention was called to improve the Articles. That the federalists (nationalists) hijacked the convention required quashing liberty in favor of a cleverly designed campaign masking the future.

Patrick Henry was on to it early:

"When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: liberty, sir, was then the primary object .But now, sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country into a powerful and mighty empire .Such a government is incompatible with the genius of republicanism. There will be no checks, no real balances, in this government..."

In the end the anti federalists have been proven right.

Feral Finster dbriz8 days ago

Sociopaths respect no limits on their power.

Peekachu dbriz3 days ago

Actually, according to Kurt Vonnegut, it was neither nationalism nor liberty - but piracy! One group of pirates trying to break away from another. Then again, perhaps that is what you mean by the heralded "liberty"?

David Naas4 days ago
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

(John Adams, October 11, 1798.).

Are we still "a moral and religious people"? Well, are we?

Mayhap we are in deep trouble? Well, are we?

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free . . . it expects what never was and never will be"

(Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816.)

No comment.

"I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, that I ought to do. And what I ought to do, By the grace of God, I shall do."

(Edward Everett Hale)

[Jul 24, 2020] Nobel peace price hawk and other stories

Jul 24, 2020 | www.rt.com

Roger Thornhill 2 hours ago If I recall correctly, Obama gave the Russians all of 48 hours to leave their consulate in San Francisco, which had been occupied since the 19th Century. This was around Christmas time in 2016. So I don't find this particularly surprising. Two days to have the diplomats, staff, and families completely out of the country.

[Jul 19, 2020] The Chinese and Russian Foreign Ministers just jointly agreed in a rare published account of their phone conversation that the Outlaw US Empire " has lost its sense of reason, morality and credibility .

Jul 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jul 18 2020 22:54 utc | 6 4

Does Cancel Culture intersect with Woke? The former's not mentioned in this fascinating essay , but the latter is and appears to deserve some unpacking beyond what Crooke provides.

As for the letter, it's way overdue by 40+ years. I recall reading Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind and Christopher Lasch's Culture of Narcissism where they say much the same.

What's most irksome are the lies that now substitute for discourse--Trump or someone from his admin lies, then the WaPost, NY Times, MSNBC, Fox, and others fire back with their lies. And to top everything off--There's ZERO accountability: people who merit "canceling" continue to lie and commit massive fraud.

The Chinese and Russian Foreign Ministers just jointly agreed in a rare published account of their phone conversation that the Outlaw US Empire " has lost its sense of reason, morality and credibility .

Yes, they were specifically referring to the government, but I'd include the Empire's institutions as well. In the face of that reality, the letter is worse than a joke.

[Jul 17, 2020] The USA foreign policy shows a penchant for amoral deceptiveness of ALL other countries, even best allies, chronically

Jul 17, 2020 | off-guardian.org

voxpox , Jul 16, 2020 9:25 PM

I like this article, it says it all. I have also long harbored a theory that the US intelligence are behind most of the worlds financial cyber-crime, systematically fleecing the world to fund their many many operations around the world. They have the tech with Windows back-doors, the motivation to hide 'off the book' operations and a proven lack of morals as demonstrated during the Iran–Contra affair, many years ago. but what do I know. As Bill Maher says, 'I can't prove it but I know it's true'.

John Ervin , Jul 16, 2020 11:59 PM Reply to voxpox

The USA foreign policy shows a penchant for amoral deceptiveness of ALL other countries, even best allies, chronically.

So that gives heft to Bill Maher's maxim. Perennial treaty busters and oath breakers, why would anyone trust? Fool me once etc.

That's at the core of my take on all USA has said about C-19(84). Been there, done that, with 100 other false flags, always the same tune.

The boy who cried wolf: Uncle Scam. Always proven false after all the marbles are stolen. Or at some point down the road. If not, it shall be, like the JFK fiasco. Like the lone holdout among nations on the Napalm Ban, or sole rogue to drop an A bomb (75th Anniversary of that cowardly Holocaust coming up in a few weeks.)

Lone, lone, lone. A sad little homeboy in the Land of the Lone Gunman. So many, though. Too many, for the world's good .

~~~~~~~~~

Don't take it from me, though, I'm a total patriot, really, compared to Mr. Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson:

"America just a nation of 200 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms at all about using them on anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

Hunter always said it like it is, at least at yhr time he saw it, he rode with the Hell's Angels and wrote the 1st book about them, and wasn't much shy about calling a spade a spade.

And. Like my own old man: another highly assisted apparent suicide.

~~~~~~~~

Old Radio broadcast:

"Who was that masked man?!

Why, it's the Lone Ranger!"

[Jul 11, 2020] Yes, to balance China, let's bring Russia in from the cold by MATTHEW DAL SANTO

Images removed...
This neocon thinks that Russia will ever Trust the USA and "collective West". Credibility is gone, probably for decadesto come.
Notable quotes:
"... In the presence of Russia's previously expansive relationship with Europe, a Russian pivot to Asia may have remained largely symbolic. In the presence of Western sanctions, however, it has instead become truly historic: Russia and China are closer today than at any point since the Sino-Soviet split that Nixon's China policy seized advantage of. ..."
"... pax Sinaica ..."
"... Paul Stronski, a former director for Russia and Central Asia on the US National Security Council, identifies the implications better. Given that China "currently receives most of its primary imports through sea lanes from the south", Stronski writes, "the Russian Far East provides not only a diversified source a reliable and rich supply from its northern borders could also function as a hedge against a US Navy blockade". ..."
"... Australia's foreign policy elite is usually quick to talk up its "post-European" credentials. But on Russia they have been content to be guided by an uncritical neo-Atlanticist perspective . While Europe may fear a Russia that is too strong, Asia should fear a Russia that is too weak. ..."
Jul 07, 2020 | www.lowyinstitute.org
Yes, to balance China, let's
bring Russia in from the cold

The West's isolation of Russia has helped Moscow acquiesce in an expanded Chinese presence it would once have resented.

Last month, US President Donald Trump surprised allies by calling for Russia and Australia to be admitted together with India and South Korea to an expanded G-7.

Writing in support of the idea, federal Liberal MP Dave Sharma has cast the argument as a reversal of Nixon's 1972 opening to Mao's China , a "reshuffling of the deck" to balance China's growing shadow in world affairs by peeling off a sanctioned but far from shrunken " global Russia " increasingly closely attached to China's side.

Given China's increasingly agonistic approach to Australia and Indo-Pacific states, such a policy commends itself by its realist credentials. But it would also acknowledge the role Western policies have played in accelerating the Sino-Russian rapprochement.

Certainly, Moscow and Beijing's "axis of convenience" predates the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia in 2014: the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (a forum for military cooperation and intelligence sharing originally focused on counter-terrorism) was founded in 2002; Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia's own " pivot to the East ", before the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, in 2013.

Russia and China are undoubtedly closer today than six years ago, but there is more to it than that. In the presence of Russia's previously expansive relationship with Europe, a Russian pivot to Asia may have remained largely symbolic. In the presence of Western sanctions, however, it has instead become truly historic: Russia and China are closer today than at any point since the Sino-Soviet split that Nixon's China policy seized advantage of.

In 2018, 3500 Chinese troops crossed the border to join 300,000 Russian counterparts in military exercises billed by the Russian ministry of defence as the largest its forces had participated in since 1981. Through a partnership with Russia's sanctioned Sberbank (Russia's biggest state-owned bank), Huawei seems this year likely to win not only construction rights to Russia's 5G network, but also a vote of confidence in the reliability of Chinese technology that will commend a "tech" pax Sinaica to other BRICS and emerging states.

[Image removed] Vostok-2018 military manoeuvres involving troops from China (Kremlin.ru)

Economically, China has not only cushioned the economic blow of Western sanctions. It has overcome longstanding Russian sensitivities about Chinese investment in Moscow's vast but underpopulated and underdeveloped Asian territories. (In the Russian Far East alone, an area almost the size of Australia, 6.3 million Russians look across the border at 110 million Chinese in China's three northernmost provinces.)

Delivered via the 4857-kilometre Eastern Siberian Oil Pipeline , Russian oil exports to China more than doubled between 2013 and 2016, when Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as China's major oil supplier, allowing Beijing to substitute a continental supplier to its north for one dependent on a maritime route policed by the US Navy to its south. Meanwhile, under a deal signed by Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in May 2014 (just months after Western nations first imposed Crimea-related sanctions), the first deliveries of $400 billion worth of Russian gas from fields north of Lake Baikal arrived in China via the Chinese-funded "Power of Siberia" line last December. A "Power of Siberia" II is to follow.

In seeking to bring Russia in from the cold to balance China, Australia should make common cause with Tokyo and Seoul, as it should also with New Delhi. India has long recognised the importance of Russia to the Asian balance.

Moscow once frowned on Chinese investment in Siberia's mining sector. But in the contemporary climate, China obtained its first stake in a Russian gold, iron and copper mining venture in 2015, 400 kilometres from the border. With Russia China's largest supplier of timber, Chinese firms are deeply involved in one of the region's major employers. And barely an hour's flight from Beijing, Siberia's open spaces have enormous potential as crowded North Asia's "lungs" – before Covid-19 struck, the rush to build hotel (and, where relevant, cruise ship) facilities had begun, from Lake Baikal to Vladivostok.

When in 2012 Russia established a Federal Ministry for the Russian Far East, then-President Dmitri Medvedev warned of the danger of Russia's Asian territories becoming a mere "resource appendage" of China. Reflecting the post-2014 shift in Russian attitudes, those qualms seem to have evaporated.

Thus, Russia and China announced plans for a $5.3 billion project for two "International Transport Corridors" linking China's landlocked Heilongjang and Jilin provinces to port facilities in Russia's nearby Maritime Province. If constructed, such corridors would provide China with direct access not only to the Sea of Japan (unhindered by the US Navy and its allies Japan and South Korea), but also an expanded presence in a province, which, though including the Far East's biggest cities (Khabarovsk: 577,000; and Vladivostok: 605,000) has only been Russian since 1858. Modern Chinese maps often designate it as a historical Chinese territory.

Elsewhere, too, the West's isolation of Russia has helped Moscow acquiesce in an expanded Chinese presence it would once have resented. Strategically and economically, the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia are a Russian-Chinese condominium, with resource-rich Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as crucial planks in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Even in the Arctic, Russia's traditional resistance to a larger Chinese role has softened . Just as China has sought (and obtained) recognition as "near-Arctic" state, so Russian authorities have suggested a role for China in constructing the infrastructure to connect the BRI to Russia's Northern Sea Route.

[Image removed]
Construction of the Power of Siberia gas pipeline (Kremlin.ru)

That Western sanctions would drive a Russian rapprochement with China was predictable. Even now that it has happened, however, a certain "operating fallacy" prevents some analysts from extracting any downside in this for the West. As Ariel Cohen wrote in Forbes last year, "By anchoring itself to China with Power of Siberia pipeline, Russia closes many doors, and in the long run, endangers its own energy trade – and national sovereignty."

But the mere fact that something is "bad" for Russia doesn't make it "good" for the West.

Balancing China alone is far more realistic than balancing China and Russia together.

Paul Stronski, a former director for Russia and Central Asia on the US National Security Council, identifies the implications better. Given that China "currently receives most of its primary imports through sea lanes from the south", Stronski writes, "the Russian Far East provides not only a diversified source a reliable and rich supply from its northern borders could also function as a hedge against a US Navy blockade".

Alive to Russia's significance to the Asian balance, Japan imposed a weaker, more "symbolic" sanctions regime than did Australia, following the US and Europe. Faithful to its "New Northern Policy", South Korea imposed none at all . In 2018, the value of Korean trade with Russia rose almost a third.

In seeking to bring Russia in from the cold to balance China, Australia should make common cause with Tokyo and Seoul, as it should also with New Delhi. India has long recognised the importance of Russia to the Asian balance, has not imposed sanctions, and is exploring pipelines.

To "exclude" China from Russian Asia is as pointless as it is undesirable. Not all Chinese investment in Siberia or the Russian Far East is unwelcome: the poorer, emptier, and more underdeveloped these territories remain, the less Russia will have to contribute to any future, informal "coalition of the balancing" in Asia.

But the foreign investment needed should be diverse, lest the Chinese commercial penetration that is already occurring make a continental-size region of vast natural resources and immune to Western blockade, an effective extension of Chinese strategic space – a " Central Powers 2.0 " stretching from Hainan to the Arctic Circle and Baltic.

As Sharma concedes, to bring Russia in from the cold, "the statecraft required is not easy, and the realpolitik underpinning it might be hard to stomach". And – although in the history of "Russia-gate", unsubstantiated intelligence leaks to the press have a record of proving over-egged – in a week that has seen the apparent revelation of Russian bounties on coalition troops in Afghanistan, it will be a particularly hard sell.

But balancing China alone is far more realistic than balancing China and Russia together. Certainly, the asymmetry in the relationship is unpleasant for Russia. But it does nothing to undermine the advantages that accrue to China.

Australia's foreign policy elite is usually quick to talk up its "post-European" credentials. But on Russia they have been content to be guided by an uncritical neo-Atlanticist perspective . While Europe may fear a Russia that is too strong, Asia should fear a Russia that is too weak.

[Jun 28, 2020] Russian position for Start talks: "We don't believe the US in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever".

Highly recommended!
Jun 28, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

START. Talks began in Vienna with a childish stunt by the American side . I wouldn't expect any results: the Americans are fatally deluded . As for the Russians: " We don't believe the U.S. in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever ".Russian has a word for that: недоговороспособны and it's characterised US behaviour since at least this event (in Obama's time). Can't make an agreement with them and, even if you do, they won't keep it.

[Jun 06, 2020] For more than two centuries, the country which calls itself the pinnacle of freedom, has been in fact the absolute opposite of that; the epicenter of brutality and terror

Jun 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Jun 6 2020 10:00 utc | 120

"The World Cannot Breathe!" Squashed By The U.S. - A Country Built On Genocide And Slavery

More than two centuries of lies are now getting exposed. Bizarre tales about freedom and democracy are collapsing like houses of cards.

One man's death triggers an avalanche of rage in those who for years, decades and centuries, have been humiliated, ruined, and exterminated.

It always happens just like this throughout the history of humankind – one single death, one single "last drop", an occurrence that triggers an entire chain of events, and suddenly nothing is the same, anymore. Nothing can be the same. What seemed to be unimaginable just yesterday, becomes "the new normal" literally overnight.

*

For more than two centuries, the country which calls itself the pinnacle of freedom, has been in fact the absolute opposite of that; the epicenter of brutality and terror.

From its birth, in order to 'clear the space' for its brutal, ruthless European settlers, it systematically liquidated the local population of the continent, during what could easily be described as one of the more outrageous genocides in the human history.

When whites wanted land, they took it. In North America, or anywhere in the world. In what is now the United States of America, millions of "natives" were murdered, infected with deadly diseases on purpose, or exterminated in various different ways. The great majority of the original and rightful owners of the land, vanished. The rest were locked up in "reservations".

Simultaneously, the "Land Of The Free" thrived on slavery. European colonialist powers literally hunted down human beings all over the African continent, stuffing them, like animals, into ships, in order to satisfy demand for free labor on the plantations of North and South America. European colonialist, hand in hand, cooperated, in committing crimes, in all parts of the world.

What really is the United States? Is anyone asking, searching for its roots? What about this; a simple, honest answer: The United States is essentially the beefy offspring of European colonialist culture, of its exceptionalism, racism and barbarity.

Again, simple facts: huge parts of the United States were constructed on slavery. Slaves were humiliated, raped, tortured, murdered. Oh, what a monstrous way to write the first chapters of the country's history!

The United States, a country of liberty and freedom? For whom? Seriously! For Christian whites?

How twisted the narrative is! No wonder our humanity has become so perverse, so immoral, so lost and confused, after being shaped by a narrative which has been fabricated by a country that exterminated the great majority of its own native sons and daughters, while getting insanely rich thanks to unimaginable theft, mass-murder, slavery and later – the semi-slavery of the savage corporate dictatorship!

The endemic, institutionalized brutality at home eventually spilled over to all parts of the planet. Now, for many decades, the United Stated has treated the entire world as full of its personal multitude of slaves. What does it offer to all of us: constant wars, occupations, punitive expeditions, coups, regular assassinations of progressive leaders, as well as thorough corporate plunder. Hundreds of millions of people have been sacrificed on the grotesque U.S. altar of "freedom" and "democracy".

Freedom and democracy, really?

Or perhaps just genocide, slavery, fear and the violation of all those wonderful and natural human dreams, and of human dignity?

https://countercurrents.org/2020/06/the-world-cannot-breathe-squashed-by-the-u-s-a-country-built-on-genocide-and-slavery/

[Jun 02, 2020] Burn Amerikastan burn

Jun 02, 2020 | www.unz.com

Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist , says: Website Show Comment June 1, 2020 at 9:58 am GMT

Burn Amerikastan burn. It's beautiful watching you burn

You who had your knee on our necks and killed us as the world looked on.

You who broke into our countries on false pretences, you who killed wives in front of husbands, fathers in front of daughters, you who said it was your right to do so,

You who stole our resources, you who watched without words
You who claimed you were Exceptional
The world sees you for what you are
Now you burn.

Burn Amerikastan burn.

In the name of the children of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Donbass, Yemen, Afghanistan

Burn to ashes, Amerikastan.

Emily , says: Show Comment June 1, 2020 at 11:17 am GMT
@Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist You missed out the Serbs.
'Bombed back to the Stoneage' by direction of Bill Clinton and by the butcher of WACO.
Breaking international law by the stealing of Kosovo and handing it to a bunch of radical islamists – the KLA – thousands of whom have been fighting for ISIS.
Kosovo is Serbia.
They will get it back.
Ashino Wolf Sushanti , says: Show Comment June 1, 2020 at 1:26 pm GMT
Oh, dear poor USA..

Yet Meanwhile

Our Disaster – YEMEN !!

by Kathy Kelly / June 1st, 2020
https://dissidentvoice.org/2020/06/our-disaster/

[Hide MORE]
United Nations reports a death toll of 100,000 people!!!!!!!!!!!!! in that nation's ongoing war
Additional 131 ,000 people !!!!!!!!!!!! dying from hunger, disease and a lack of medical care.
Since then, 3.65 million people have been internally displaced
The worst cholera outbreak ever recorded has infected 2.26 million !!!!!! and cost nearly 4,000 lives (Even so this number is just the official account.)
Attacks on hospitals, clinics by Saudis & Co. have led to the closure of more than half of Yemen's prewar facilities.

The policies of the USA and much of the entire WEST are deeply implicated in Yemen's suffering, through the sale of billions of dollars in munitions to Saudi Arabia and other countries that have intervened in the civil war.

Harold Smith , says: Show Comment June 1, 2020 at 7:03 pm GMT

"If Trump sent in military troops on his own the press would call it unconstitutional."

Since when has the constitution or any law – or anyone citing them – been an obstacle to the evil orange clown?

If he can commit war crimes in Syria and illegally seize Syrian oilfields and seize Russian and Venezuelan diplomatic property, etc., he can send in military troops or whatever he feels like doing. He was accused of abusing his office and acquitted. He can do whatever he pleases.

[Jun 01, 2020] Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov "We Have No Trust, No Confidence Whatsoever" in America by Jacob Heilbrunn

May 29, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

TNI editor Jacob Heilbrunn interviews Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov about the New START Treaty and the state of U.S.-Russia relations.

Jacob Heilbrunn : What is your assessment of the state of U.S.-Russia relations?

Sergei Ryabkov : The current state of our bilateral relations is probably worse than we have experienced for decades preceding this current moment. I don't want to compare this with Cold War times because that era was different from what we have now -- in some ways, more predictable; in some ways, more dangerous. From Moscow's perspective, the Trump era is worrying because we move from one low point to another, and as the famous Polish thinker Jerzy Lec said once, "We thought we had reached the ground, and then someone knocked from beneath."

This is exactly how things happen today. We try hard to improve the situation through different proposals in practically all areas that pull Moscow and Washington apart. It doesn't happen. We recognize that everything that is associated with Russia policy is now quite problematic, to put it mildly -- quite toxic for the U.S. mainstream in the broader sense of the word. But the only answer to this, we believe, is to intensify dialogue and search for ways that both governments, businesses -- structures that impact the general mood of the public -- maintain and probably deepen their interaction and discourse so as to remove possible misunderstandings or grounds for miscalculations.

One of the most troubling areas in this very dark and dull picture is of course arms control. There we see a downward spiral that is being systematically enhanced and intensified by the U.S. government. It looks like America doesn't believe in arms control as a concept altogether. Instead, it tries to find pretexts to depart from as many arms control treaties, agreements, and arrangements that Russia is also a party to. This is very regrettable. But make no mistake: we will not pay any price higher than the one we would pay for our own security in order to save something or keep the U.S. within this system. It's squarely and straightforwardly the choice that the American government may or, in our view, even should make -- because we still think that the maintenance of these agreements ultimately serves American national interests.

Heilbrunn : What is your view of the Trump administration's approach to the START Treaty?

Ryabkov : I can easily say that the Trump administration's approach to the START Treaty is quite strange. Number one: we understand the reasons why the Trump administration wants China to become a party to any future arms control talks or arrangements -- although we equally understand the reasons why China doesn't want to be part of these agreements, and thus we believe that it's up to Washington to deal with Beijing on this issue. And in the absence of a very clear and open and considered consent from the other side -- that is, from China -- there would be no talks with China or with China's participation. That's an obvious reality that we face.

So the next element of this logic brings us to the natural conclusion that it would be in everyone's interest just to extend what we have now -- that is, a new START in the form as it was signed and subsequently ratified -- and then defer contentious issues and unresolved problems, including the one that is associated with U.S. non-compliance with this treaty, to a later point. An eventual extension of the treaty for five more years would give sufficient time to both Washington and Moscow, and eventually for others, to consider the situation and make decisions not in a hurry but with due regard to all aspects and to the gravity of the challenges before us, including those associated with new military technologies. But again, we are not there to trade this approach for anything on the U.S. side, to get something from the U.S. side in return. I think it's quite logical and natural as it stands, so we invite the U.S. to consider what we are telling them at face value.

Heilbrunn: Traditionally, Russia has worked well with Republican administrations starting with Nixon. Is that era at an end?

Ryabkov: I don't know. It completely depends on the U.S. We do believe that irrespective of what party is in the government in the U.S., there are choices; there are opportunities; and there are possibilities that at least should be explored with Russia. I don't know if this administration regards Russia as a party worth having a serious dialogue with. I tend to believe it's not because of domestic political reasons, because of different approaches to matters that are quite obvious at least for us, including the international system of treaties and international law in general.

But then again, it may well be so that the current Republican administration will in effect become a line in history in which a considerable number of useful international instruments were abrogated and that America exited them in the anticipation that this approach would serve U.S. interests better. Having said that, I will never say or never suggest that it was for us -- at least in the mid-2010s -- better with the previous administration.

It was under the previous Obama administration that endless rounds of sanctions were imposed upon Russia. That was continued under Trump. The pretext for that policy is totally rejected by Russia as an invalid and illegal one. The previous administration, weeks before it departed, stole Russian property that was protected by diplomatic immunity, and we are still deprived of this property by the Trump administration. We have sent 350 diplomatic notes to both the Obama and the Trump administrations demanding the return of this property, only to see an endless series of rejections. It is one of the most vivid and obvious examples of where we are in our relationship.

There is no such thing as "which administration is better for Russia in the U.S.?" Both are bad, and this is our conclusion after more than a decade of talking to Washington on different topics.

Heilbrunn: Given the dire situation you portray, do you believe that America has become a rogue state?

Ryabkov: I wouldn't say so, that's not our conclusion. But the U.S. is clearly an entity that stands for itself, one that creates uncertainty for the world. America is a source of trouble for many international actors. They are trying to find ways to protect and defend themselves from this malign and malicious policy of America that many of the people around the world believe should come to an end, hopefully in the near future.

Heilbrunn : If President Trump were to respond to your last point, he might say, "What's wrong with uncertainty from the American perspective? What's wrong with keeping your adversaries off balance? Why should the U.S. be a predictable power?" What would your response be to that?

Ryabkov : My response to this would be that we are not asking the U.S. to be a responsible and predictable partner because we don't believe it would be possible any time soon. We are saying that this is a reality that we all face, and thus we only adjust our own reaction and our own response to it trying the best way possible to protect our own interests.

Heilbrunn : Related to that, and on the START Treaty, a Trump administration State Department official recently announced that the U.S. was ready, essentially, to bury Russia, to spend it into the ground in a new arms race just as it had in the 1980s.

Ryabkov : To bring it into oblivion.

Heilbrunn : Right. What is your response to those kinds of threats?

Ryabkov : There is no response. We just take note of it, and we draw our lessons from the past. We will never, ever allow anyone to draw us into an arms race that would exceed our own capabilities. But we will find ways how to sustain this pressure, both in terms of rhetoric and also in terms of possible action.

Heilbrunn : What does this kind of rhetoric imply for the future of an extension of the START Treaty? Doesn't it suggest that the treaty may in fact already be doomed and that the Trump administration is using China as a poison pill to kill the treaty altogether?

Ryabkov : On China, I think the U.S. administration is obsessed with the issue, and it tries to introduce "Chinese discourse" into every single international issue at the table. So it's not about the START Treaty. It's much broader, deeper, and it's by far more multifaceted than anything that relates to arms control as such. My view on this is that chances for the new START Treaty to be sustained are rapidly moving close to zero, and I think that on February 5, 2021, this treaty will just lapse, and it will end. We will have no START as of February 6, 2021.

Heilbrunn : Do you feel the American stance toward Russia is inadvertently helping to promote a Russia-China rapprochement that is actually not in Washington's interest?

Ryabkov : We don't think we can operate on the premise that because of some pressure or some external impact on us, something happens in terms of the evolution of priorities or approaches to China or to anyone else. We don't believe the U.S. in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever. So our own calculations and conclusions are less related to what America is doing than to many, many other things. And we cherish our close and friendly relations with China. We do regard this as a comprehensive strategic partnership in different areas, and we intend to develop it further. Heilbrunn : The U.S. is pushing very hard against China right now, at least rhetorically. China has vowed to smash any Taiwanese move toward independence and looks to be cracking down in Hong Kong as well. Do you see this as another instance where American overt bellicosity ends up boomeranging and pushing its adversaries to take more drastic measures?

Ryabkov : Of course, it's not possible for me to judge what China will do in those cases or in those instances, but I do think that every single area where the U.S. believes there is an opportunity to pressure China is being currently used in a most energetic and most forceful manner. I think it clearly entails a further growth of uncertainty in international relations. I still hope though that at some point, the natural instinct to talk and agree and conclude deals will prevail rather than this ongoing effort to squeeze something out of others -- not only China, but Russia and others who tend to follow their independent policy from America.

Heilbrunn : In this regard, when it comes to Russia -- because you see the U.S. as trying to increase the pressure on Russia as well -- do you draw a distinction between President Trump and his administration, or do you see them as aligned in their approach toward Russia? Because during the 2016 election campaign, Trump was explicit about trying to revive the U.S.-Russia relationship.

Ryabkov : No, I see no lines anywhere. I see no distinction, as you have described. Moreover, I see no distinction between the previous administration and this one.

Heilbrunn : Let me put it another way: what about differences between Trump and his own advisers? Do you think Trump himself is inclined to take a more diplomatic route, or do you think that U.S.-Russia policy is being driven by him?

Ryabkov : I don't know who drives U.S. policy toward Russia. We welcome any signal from the Americans, including from the President himself in favor of improvement, in favor of going along, and we are prepared to bear our share in this. But unfortunately, it doesn't work. And I suspect to some extent that it's also my own fear that in my modest position, I was not able to offer anything to my bosses that may help to change things for the better.

Heilbrunn : Final question: do you think that matters, at least in the area of arms control, would change under a Biden presidency? Because the Democrats are much more sympathetic to arms control agreements than Republicans currently appear to be. What's your take?

Ryabkov : I have no idea how things will unfold in relation to the forthcoming election in the U.S. No predictions, no expectations. I do think, though, that it would be very late in the process for any administration -- including the second Trump administration if he is reelected -- to deal with the issue of a new START extension after the day of elections in America. I think more broadly that the current, almost one-hundred percent watertight anti-Russian bipartisan consensus in the U.S. doesn't promise much good for this relationship for the future, irrespective of who wins the next election. So we will see. We will continuously work hard to try to devise alternative paths forward, but we have no partner on the American side.

Sergei Ryabkov is Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation.

[Jun 01, 2020] Reminiscence of the Future... Non-Agreement Capable, Or Agreement Incapable, Or...

Jun 01, 2020 | smoothiex12.blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 Non-Agreement Capable, Or Agreement Incapable, Or... Agreement-unworthy, or.... I didn't find many English-language report on Putin's last week interview on this issue:

"You know, Obama is no longer president, but there are certain things we don't talk about publicly," Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency quoted Putin as saying to Stone. "In any case, I can say that our agreements reached in [a] telephone conversation were not fulfilled by the American side," Putin said, declining to go further into details.
We knew this all along, didn't we? It is not just about personalities, however repulsive in his narcissism and lack of statesmanship Obama was. It is systemic, no matter who comes to power to the Oval Office--it will make no difference. No difference, whatsoever. What is known as US power (political) elite has been on the downward spiral for some time and, in some sense, the whole Epstein affair with serious pedophilia charges, not to mention an unspeakable slap on the wrist in which this well-connected pervert was let go ten years ago, is just one of many indications of a complete moral and cognitive decomposition of this so called "elite" which continues to provide one after another specimens of human depravity. Remarkably, as much as I always feel nauseated when seeing GOPers, it is impossible to hide the fact that Epstein's clients in their majority are mostly associated with putrid creatures from the so called "left", with Bill Clinton featuring prominently in the company of this pervert.
There were some attempts to even conceive a possibility of somehow "progressives" and "conservatives" getting together in their condemnation of this heinous crime (yeah, yeah, I know, Presumption of Innocence).
Now back to Epstein. If we learn that he was actually running something called the "Lolita Express," that would be a signal that prosecutors have a lot of work to do, rounding up the pedophile joyriders. So it was interesting on July 6 to see Christine Pelosi, daughter of the House speaker, posting a stern tweet: "This Epstein case is horrific and the young women deserve justice. It is quite likely that some of our faves are implicated but we must follow the facts and let the chips fall where they may -- whether on Republicans or Democrats." So we can see: the younger Pelosi wants one standard -- a standard that applies to all.
Doesn't it sound wonderful, warm and fuzzy, or too good to be true? It sure does, because, as much as most American elite "conservatives" are not really conservatives, what passes as "progressive" in the United States is PRIMARILY based on sexual deviancy, including implicit promotion of pedophilia by "intellectual class", and "environmental" agenda, period! Everything else is secondary. Those who think that actual conservatism (not a caricature it is known in the United States) has anything to discuss with the so called "progressives"--they unwittingly support this very "progressive" cause which, in its very many manifestations, is a realization of the worst kind of suppression of many millennia old natural, including biological, order of things and, in the end, elimination of normality as such--a future even Orwell would have had difficulty describing.
Of course, Pinkerton gets some flashes of common sense, when states that:
Most likely, a true solution will have "conservative" elements, as in social and cultural norming, and "liberal" elements, as in higher taxes on city slickers coupled with conscious economic development for the proletarians and for the heartland. Only with these economic and governmental changes can we be sure that it's possible to have a nice life in Anytown, safely far away from beguiling pleasuredomes.
Well, he puts it very crudely, but I see where he is at least trying to get it from. I will add, until nation, as in American nation, recognizes itself as a nation, as people who have common history, culture and mission, thus, inevitably producing this aforementioned healthy social and cultural norming--no amount of wishful thinking or social-economic doctrine-mongering will help. There is no United States without European-keen, white Christian, heterosexual folk, both with acutely developed sense of both masculinity and femininity, period. But this is precisely the state of the affairs which American "progressives" are fighting against; this is the state of the affairs which they must destroy be that by imposition of suffocating political correctness, the insanity of multi-gender and LGBT totalitarianism, or by criminal opening of the borders to anyone, who, in the end, will vote for the Democratic Party. You cannot negotiate with such people. In the end, WHO is going to negotiate? A cowardly, utterly corrupt, current GOPers and geriatric remnants of Holy Reaganites? Really? Ask how many of them are Mossad assets and are in the pockets of rich Israeli-firsters and Gulfies?
True "Left" economics, which seeks more just distribution (not re-distribution) of wealth, based on a fusion of economic models and types of property, cannot exist within cultural liberal paradigm of "privileged" minorities, be them racial or sexual ones, aided by massive grievance-generating machine--it is not going to last. Both economic and social normality can exist ONLY within cohesive nation and that, due to activity on both nominal sides (in reality it is the same) of American political spectrum, has been utterly destroyed. The mechanism of this destruction is rather simple and it comes down, in the end, to the, pardon my French, number of ass-holes populating unit-volume (density, that is) of political space in America. It goes without saying that such a density in the US reached deadly toxic levels, and Russiagate coup, Epstein's Affair, or the parade of POTUSes with the maturity levels of high school kids are just numerous partial manifestations of what one can characterize as the end of the rope. After all, who would be making any agreements with representatives of the system which is rotting and decomposing?
Paul Craig Roberts penned today a good piece: The Obituary for Western Civilization Can Now be Written . I have to disagree somewhat with PCR's one assertion:
Europeans Are as Dumbshit as Americans
I would pause a little here. Yes and no. Here is Colonel Wilkerson who talks about both wealth (starts roughly at 14:00) and about other very important strategic and operational fact: overwhelming majority of weapons on hands today are among those who either support Trump openly or simply had it with system in general.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/kZA2yIFkhKg/0.jpg
And here is the issue: my bets are on people with military backgrounds, who had first hand experience with military organization (standard manuals, combat manuals et al) and have operational and command experience in their conflict with American Social Justice Warriors (you know--"progressives") and other openly terrorist "progressive" organizations such as Antifa. At least ruined Portland started to do something about it . Is there any real left left in the US? And I don't mean this a-hole Bernie Sanders.

And here is my rephrasing of Tolstoy's conclusion to War and Peace: there are too many ass-holes in American politics today , very many of them being so called "progressives" . This number must be reduced by all legal means today, and if American ass-holes can work together terrorizing majority of good, not ass-hole people, what's precluding those good people to work together? Nothing, except for the rotting corpse of GOP which had audacity to call itself "conservative". If not, all is lost and we do not want to live in the world which will come. And the guns will start speaking.

UPDATE : 07/11/19

Oh goody, do they read me or is it one of those moments when, in Lenin's description of Revolutionary Situation, economic slogans transform into political ones? Evidently Catholic Conservative Michael Warren speaks in unison with Lenin and me, with both me and Warren certainly not being Marxists or "communists". Here is what Warren has to say today:

Whew. Now I get why people become communists. Not the new-wave, gender-fluid, pink-haired Trots, of course. Nor the new far Left, which condemns child predators like Epstein out one side of its mouth while demanding sympathy for pedophiles out the other. No: I mean the old-fashioned, blue-collar, square-jawed Stalinists. I mean the guy with eight fingers and 12 kids who saw photos of the annual Manhattan debutantes' ball, felt the rumble in his stomach, and figured he may as well eat the rich. Of course, we know where that leads us. For two centuries, conservatives have tried to dampen the passions that led France to cannibalize herself circa 1789. Nevertheless, those passions weren't illegitimate -- they were just misdirected. Only an Englishman like Edmund Burke could have referred to the reign of Louis XIV as "the age of chivalry." Joseph de Maistre spoke for real French conservatives when he said the decadent, feckless aristocracy deserved to be guillotined. The problem is, Maistre argued, there was no one more suitable to succeed them.
It is a very loaded statement. It is also not an incorrect one. It is also relevant to what I preach for years, decades really, that history of the so called "communism" in USSR was a conservative history--a transition from depravity and corruption of Russian Imperial "elites" to what resulted in the mutated nationalism of sorts in late 1930s and led to the defeat of Nazism, historically unprecedented restoration of the destroyed country and then breaking out into space. But that is a separate story--in USSR, as it is the case in Russia today, sexual perversion and deviancy are not looked at lightly. Nor are, in general, "liberal values" which are precisely designed to end up with the legitimization of pedophilia--a long held, and hidden, desire of Western "elites" . Guess why such an obsession with, realistically, literary mediocrity of Nabokov's Lolita by Western moneyed and "intellectual" class. Who in their own mind, unless one is a forensic psychiatrist or detective, would be interested in such a topic, not to mention writing a book on it, not to mention a variety of Hollywood and, in general, Western cinematography artsy class making scores of Lolita movies? Each time I read Lolita, in both Russian and English, I felt an urgent desire to take a shower after reading this concoction. I guess, I am not "sophisticated" enough to recognize appeals of this type of "art". As Warren notes:
Yes: those passions are legitimate. We should feel contempt for our leaders when we discover that two presidents cavorted with Epstein, almost certainly aware that he preyed on minors. We should feel disgust at the mere possibility that Pope Francis rehabilitated Theodore McCarrick. And we should be furious that these injustices haven't even come close to being properly redressed. This is how revolutions are born. America is reaching the point where, 200 years ago, a couple French peasants begin eyeing the Bastille. The question is, can conservatives channel that outrage into serious reform before it's too late? Can we call out the fetid, decadent elites within our own ranks ? Are we prepared to hold our own "faves" to account -- even Trump himself? Alas, it's only a matter of time until we find out.
In this, I, essentially an atheist, and a conservative Catholic, are speaking in the same voice.

[May 23, 2020] With a national election lurking on the horizon we will no doubt be hearing more about Exceptionalism from various candidates seeking to support the premise that the United States can interfere in every country on the planet because it is, as the expression goes, exceptional.

May 23, 2020 | www.unz.com

Realist , says: Show Comment May 23, 2020 at 12: 22 pm GMT

With a national election lurking on the horizon we will no doubt be hearing more about Exceptionalism from various candidates seeking to support the premise that the United States can interfere in every country on the planet because it is, as the expression goes, exceptional.

That is correct and that is because it works the majority of Americans are stupid.
Do you see a solution suggested here?

Realist , says: Show Comment May 23, 2020 at 12:27 pm GMT

It is also an unfortunate indication that the neoconservatives, pronounced dead after the election of Trump, are back and resuming their drive to obtain the positions of power that will permit endless war, starting with Iran.

The neocons never went anywhere. Trump is a minion of the Deep State and staffs his administration accordingly.

Realist , says: Show Comment May 23, 2020 at 12:32 pm GMT
@BL

My point is simple and ineluctable, whatever our demerits, our great republic is supposed to weed out psychopaths like Brennan long before they get as close as he has to destroying the whole shebang.

Never happens all administrations are full of psychopaths.

Hiram of Tyre , says: Show Comment May 23, 2020 at 1:19 pm GMT
Frankly nothing new. Every Empire sought to rule the world and committed a long list of atrocities in the process. "The empire on which the sun never sets", in reference to the British Empire (the one currently still ruling the world), comes from Xerxes' "We shall extend the Persian territory as far as God's heaven reaches. The sun will then shine on no land beyond our borders." as he invaded Greece.

That said, a word on the Rumsfeld-Cebrowski Doctrine and their Pentagon world map would be on point here

[May 03, 2020] Never in my country: COVID-19 and American exceptionalism by Jeanne Morefield

Notable quotes:
"... Because behind today's coronavirus-inspired astonishment at conditions in developing or lower income countries, and Trump's authoritarian-like thuggery, lies an actual military and political hegemon with an actual impact on the world; particularly on what was once called the "Third World." ..."
"... In physical terms, the U.S.'s military hegemony is comprised of 800 bases in over 70 nations – more bases than any other nation or empire in history. The U.S. maintains drone bases, listening posts, "black sites," aircraft carriers, a massive nuclear stockpile, and military personnel working in approximately 160 countries. This is a globe-spanning military and security apparatus organized into regional commands that resemble the "proconsuls of the Roman empire and the governors-general of the British." In other words, this apparatus is built not for deterrence, but for primacy. ..."
"... The U.S.'s global primacy emerged from the wreckage of World War II when the United States stepped into the shoes vacated by European empires. Throughout the Cold War, and in the name of supporting "free peoples," the sprawling American security apparatus helped ensure that 300 years of imperial resource extraction and wealth distribution – from what was then called the Third World to the First – remained undisturbed, despite decolonization. ..."
"... In fiscal terms, maintaining American hegemony requires spending more on "defense" than the next seven largest countries combined. Our nearly $1 trillion security budget now amounts to about 15 percent of the federal budget and over half of all discretionary spending. Moreover, the U.S. security budget continues to increase despite the Pentagon's inability to pass a fiscal audit. ..."
"... Foreign policy is routinely the last issue Americans consider when they vote for presidents even though the president has more discretionary power over foreign policy than any other area of American politics. Thus, despite its size, impact, and expense, the world's military hegemon exists somewhere on the periphery of most Americans' self-understanding, as though, like the sun, it can't be looked upon directly for fear of blindness. ..."
"... The shock of discovering that our healthcare system is so quickly overwhelmed should automatically trigger broader conversations about spending priorities that entail deep and sustained cuts in an engorged security budget whose sole purpose is the maintenance of primacy. And yet, not only has this not happened, $10.5 billion of the coronavirus aid package has been earmarked for the Pentagon, with $2.4 billion of that channeled to the "defense industrial base." Of the $500 billion aimed at corporate America, $17.5 billion is set aside "for businesses critical to maintaining national security" such as aerospace. ..."
"... To make matters worse, our blindness to this bloated security complex makes it frighteningly easy for champions of American primacy to sound the alarm when they even suspect a dip in funding might be forthcoming. Indeed, before most of us had even glanced at the details of the coronavirus bill, foreign policy hawks were already issuing dark prediction s about the impact of still-imaginary cuts in the security budget on the U.S.'s "ability to strike any target on the planet in response to hostile actions by any actor" – as if that ability already did not exist many times over. ..."
Apr 07, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org

This March, as COVID-19's capacity to overwhelm the American healthcare system was becoming obvious, experts marveled at the scenario unfolding before their eyes. "We have Third World countries who are better equipped than we are now in Seattle," noted one healthcare professional, her words echoed just a few days later by a shocked doctor in New York who described "a third-world country type of scenario." Donald Trump could similarly only grasp what was happening through the same comparison. "I have seen things that I've never seen before," he said . "I mean I've seen them, but I've seen them on television and faraway lands, never in my country."

At the same time, regardless of the fact that "Third World" terminology is outdated and confusing, Trump's inept handling of the pandemic has itself elicited more than one "banana republic" analogy, reflecting already well-worn, bipartisan comparisons of Trump to a " third world dictator " (never mind that dictators and authoritarians have never been confined solely to lower income countries).

And yet, while such comparisons provoke predictably nativist outrage from the right, what is absent from any of these responses to the situation is a sense of reflection or humility about the "Third World" comparison itself. The doctor in New York who finds himself caught in a "third world" scenario and the political commentators outraged when Trump behaves "like a third world dictator" uniformly express themselves in terms of incredulous wonderment. One never hears the potential second half of this comparison: "I am now experiencing what it is like to live in a country that resembles the kind of nation upon whom the United States regularly imposes broken economies and corrupt leaders."

Because behind today's coronavirus-inspired astonishment at conditions in developing or lower income countries, and Trump's authoritarian-like thuggery, lies an actual military and political hegemon with an actual impact on the world; particularly on what was once called the "Third World."

In physical terms, the U.S.'s military hegemony is comprised of 800 bases in over 70 nations – more bases than any other nation or empire in history. The U.S. maintains drone bases, listening posts, "black sites," aircraft carriers, a massive nuclear stockpile, and military personnel working in approximately 160 countries. This is a globe-spanning military and security apparatus organized into regional commands that resemble the "proconsuls of the Roman empire and the governors-general of the British." In other words, this apparatus is built not for deterrence, but for primacy.

The U.S.'s global primacy emerged from the wreckage of World War II when the United States stepped into the shoes vacated by European empires. Throughout the Cold War, and in the name of supporting "free peoples," the sprawling American security apparatus helped ensure that 300 years of imperial resource extraction and wealth distribution – from what was then called the Third World to the First – remained undisturbed, despite decolonization.

Since then, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow the governments of approximately 50 countries, many of which (e.g. Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Chile) had elected leaders willing to nationalize their natural resources and industries. Often these interventions took the form of covert operations. Less frequently, the United States went to war to achieve these same ends (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq).

In fiscal terms, maintaining American hegemony requires spending more on "defense" than the next seven largest countries combined. Our nearly $1 trillion security budget now amounts to about 15 percent of the federal budget and over half of all discretionary spending. Moreover, the U.S. security budget continues to increase despite the Pentagon's inability to pass a fiscal audit.

Trump's claim that Obama had "hollowed out" defense spending was not only grossly untrue, it masked the consistency of the security budget's metastasizing growth since the Vietnam War, regardless of who sits in the White House. At $738 billion dollars, Trump's security budget was passed in December with the overwhelming support of House Democrats.

And yet, from the perspective of public discourse in this country, our globe-spanning, resource-draining military and security apparatus exists in an entirely parallel universe to the one most Americans experience on a daily level. Occasionally, we wake up to the idea of this parallel universe but only when the United States is involved in visible military actions. The rest of the time, Americans leave thinking about international politics – and the deaths, for instance, of 2.5 million Iraqis since 2003 – to the legions of policy analysts and Pentagon employees who largely accept American military primacy as an "article of faith," as Professor of International Security and Strategy at the University of Birmingham Patrick Porter has said .

Foreign policy is routinely the last issue Americans consider when they vote for presidents even though the president has more discretionary power over foreign policy than any other area of American politics. Thus, despite its size, impact, and expense, the world's military hegemon exists somewhere on the periphery of most Americans' self-understanding, as though, like the sun, it can't be looked upon directly for fear of blindness.

Why is our avoidance of the U.S.'s weighty impact on the world a problem in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic? Most obviously, the fact that our massive security budget has gone so long without being widely questioned means that one of the soundest courses of action for the U.S. during this crisis remains resolutely out of sight.

The shock of discovering that our healthcare system is so quickly overwhelmed should automatically trigger broader conversations about spending priorities that entail deep and sustained cuts in an engorged security budget whose sole purpose is the maintenance of primacy. And yet, not only has this not happened, $10.5 billion of the coronavirus aid package has been earmarked for the Pentagon, with $2.4 billion of that channeled to the "defense industrial base." Of the $500 billion aimed at corporate America, $17.5 billion is set aside "for businesses critical to maintaining national security" such as aerospace.

To make matters worse, our blindness to this bloated security complex makes it frighteningly easy for champions of American primacy to sound the alarm when they even suspect a dip in funding might be forthcoming. Indeed, before most of us had even glanced at the details of the coronavirus bill, foreign policy hawks were already issuing dark prediction s about the impact of still-imaginary cuts in the security budget on the U.S.'s "ability to strike any target on the planet in response to hostile actions by any actor" – as if that ability already did not exist many times over.

On a more existential level, a country that is collectively engaged in unseeing its own global power cannot help but fail to make connections between that power and domestic politics, particularly when a little of the outside world seeps in. For instance, because most Americans are unaware of their government's sponsorship of fundamentalist Islamic groups in the Middle East throughout the Cold War, 9/11 can only ever appear to have come from nowhere, or because Muslims hate our way of life.

This "how did we get here?" attitude replicates itself at every level of political life making it profoundly difficult for Americans to see the impact of their nation on the rest of the world, and the blowback from that impact on the United States itself. Right now, the outsized influence of American foreign policy is already encouraging the spread of coronavirus itself as U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran severely hamper that country's ability to respond to the virus at home and virtually guarantee its spread throughout the region.

Closer to home, our shock at the healthcare system's inept response to the pandemic masks the relationship between the U.S.'s imposition of free-market totalitarianism on countries throughout the Global South and the impact of free-market totalitarianism on our own welfare state .

Likewise, it is more than karmic comeuppance that the President of the United States now resembles the self-serving authoritarians the U.S. forced on so many formerly colonized nations. The modes of militarized policing American security experts exported to those authoritarian regimes also contributed , on a policy level, to both the rise of militarized policing in American cities and the rise of mass incarceration in the 1980s and 90s. Both of these phenomena played a significant role in radicalizing Trump's white nationalist base and decreasing their tolerance for democracy.

Most importantly, because the U.S. is blind to its power abroad, it cannot help but turn that blindness on itself. This means that even during a pandemic when America's exceptionalism – our lack of national healthcare – has profoundly negative consequences on the population, the idea of looking to the rest of the world for solutions remains unthinkable.

Senator Bernie Sanders' reasonable suggestion that the U.S., like Denmark, should nationalize its healthcare system is dismissed as the fanciful pipe dream of an aging socialist rather than an obvious solution to a human problem embraced by nearly every other nation in the world. The Seattle healthcare professional who expressed shock that even "Third World countries" are "better equipped" than we are to confront COVID-19 betrays a stunning ignorance of the diversity of healthcare systems within developing countries. Cuba, for instance, has responded to this crisis with an efficiency and humanity that puts the U.S. to shame.

Indeed, the U.S. is only beginning to feel the full impact of COVID-19's explosive confrontation with our exceptionalism: if the unemployment rate really does reach 32 percent, as has been predicted, millions of people will not only lose their jobs but their health insurance as well. In the middle of a pandemic.

Over 150 years apart, political commentators Edmund Burke and Aimé Césaire referred to this blindness as the byproduct of imperialism. Both used the exact same language to describe it; as a "gangrene" that "poisons" the colonizing body politic. From their different historical perspectives, Burke and Césaire observed how colonization boomerangs back on colonial society itself, causing irreversible damage to nations that consider themselves humane and enlightened, drawing them deeper into denial and self-delusion.

Perhaps right now there is a chance that COVID-19 – an actual, not metaphorical contagion – can have the opposite effect on the U.S. by opening our eyes to the things that go unseen. Perhaps the shock of recognizing the U.S. itself is less developed than our imagined "Third World" might prompt Americans to tear our eyes away from ourselves and look toward the actual world outside our borders for examples of the kinds of political, economic, and social solidarity necessary to fight the spread of Coronavirus. And perhaps moving beyond shock and incredulity to genuine recognition and empathy with people whose economies and democracies have been decimated by American hegemony might begin the process of reckoning with the costs of that hegemony, not just in "faraway lands" but at home. In our country.

[May 02, 2020] Exceptionalism is not a mandate for the reckless pursuit of peripheral objectives at the expense of real global priorities, nor for championing short-term gains over America's long-term interest without anticipating predictable consequences

May 02, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

America was and remains an exceptional nation in terms of the spirit of its people, creativity of its economic system, and ability to adapt to new circumstances. But exceptionalism is not a mandate for the reckless pursuit of peripheral objectives at the expense of real global priorities, nor for championing short-term gains over America's long-term interest without anticipating predictable consequences. The Chinese character for "crisis" famously carries a second meaning: "opportunity." Although the world currently finds itself in the center of an existential crisis, a promising opportunity may well rest just over the horizon.

[May 01, 2020] 22 years ago Madeleine Albright declared the United States to be the "indispensable nation": "If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us."

Notable quotes:
"... Albright's original statement was an aggressive assertion that America was both extraordinarily powerful and unusually farsighted, and that legitimized the frequent U.S. recourse to using force. ..."
"... After two decades of calamitous failures that have highlighted our weaknesses and foolishness, even she can't muster up the old enthusiasm that she once had. No one could look back at the last 20 years of U.S. foreign policy and still honestly say that "we see further" into the future than others. ..."
Apr 30, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Originally from: It Took COVID To Expose the Fraud of 'American Exceptionalism' The American Conservative by Daniel Larison

... ... ...

It was 22 years ago when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright publicly declared the United States to be the "indispensable nation": "If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us."

In a recent interview with The New York T imes, Albright sounded much less sure of her old position: "There's nothing in the definition of indispensable that says "alone." It means that the United States needs to be engaged with its partners. And people's backgrounds make a difference." Albright's original statement was an aggressive assertion that America was both extraordinarily powerful and unusually farsighted, and that legitimized the frequent U.S. recourse to using force.

After two decades of calamitous failures that have highlighted our weaknesses and foolishness, even she can't muster up the old enthusiasm that she once had. No one could look back at the last 20 years of U.S. foreign policy and still honestly say that "we see further" into the future than others. Not only are we no better than other countries at anticipating and preparing for future dangers, but judging from the country's lack of preparedness for a pandemic we are actually far behind many of the countries that we have presumed to "lead." It is impossible to square our official self-congratulatory rhetoric with the reality of a government that is incapable of protecting its citizens from disaster.

[May 01, 2020] American exceptionalism marriage to "Full spectrum Dominance" doctrine proved to be especially toxic: neocons were so preoccupied with remaking the world they failed to see that our country was falling apart

May 01, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The heart of the American exceptionalism in question is American hubris. It is based on the assumption that we are better than the rest of the world, and that this superiority both entitles and obligates us to take on an outsized role in the world.

In our current foreign policy debates, the phrase "American exceptionalism" has served as a shorthand for justifying and celebrating U.S. dominance, and when necessary it has served as a blanket excuse for U.S. wrongdoing. Seongjong Song defined it in an 2015 article for The Korean Journal of International Studies this way: "American exceptionalism is the belief that the US is "qualitatively different" from all other nations." In practice, that has meant that the U.S. does not consider itself to be bound by the same rules that apply to other states, and it reserves the right to interfere whenever and wherever it wishes.

American exceptionalism has been used in our political debates as an ideological purity test to determine whether certain political leaders are sufficiently supportive of an activist and interventionist foreign policy. The main purpose of invoking American exceptionalism in foreign policy debate has been to denigrate less hawkish policy views as unpatriotic and beyond the pale. The phrase was often used as a partisan cudgel in the previous decade as the Obama administration's critics tried to cast doubt on the former president's acceptance of this idea, but in the years since then it has become a rallying point for devotees of U.S. primacy regardless of party. There was an explosion in the use of the phrase in just the first few years of the 2010s compared with the previous decades. Song cited a study that showed this massive increase:

Exceptionalist discourse is on the rise in American politics. Terrence McCoy (2012) found that the term "American exceptionalism" appeared in US publications 457 times between 1980 and 2000, climbing to 2,558 times in the 2000s and 4,172 times in 2010-12.

The more that U.S. policies have proved "American exceptionalism" to be a pernicious myth at odds with reality, the more we have heard the phrase used to defend those policies. Republican hawks began the decade by accusing Obama of not believing in this "exceptionalism," and some Democratic hawks closed it out by "reclaiming" the idea on behalf of their own discredited foreign policy vision. There may be differences in emphasis between the two camps, but there is a consensus that the U.S. has special rights and privileges that other nations cannot have. That has translated into waging unnecessary wars, assuming excessive overseas burdens, and trampling on the rights of other states, and all the while congratulating ourselves on how virtuous we are for doing all of it.

The contemporary version of American exceptionalism is tied up inextricably with the belief that the U.S. is the "indispensable nation." According to this view, without U.S. "leadership" other countries will be unable or unwilling to respond to major international problems and threats. We have seen just how divorced from reality that belief is in just the last few months. There has been no meaningful U.S. leadership in response to the pandemic, but for the most part our allies have managed on their own fairly well. In the absence of U.S. "leadership," many other countries have demonstrated that they haven't really needed the U.S. Our "indispensability" is a story that we like to tell ourselves, but it isn't true. Not only are we no longer indispensable, but as Micah Zenko pointed out many years ago, we never were.


Vhailor 2 days ago

We would do well if we put away this boastful fantasy and learned how to live like a normal nation.

You won't. It always takes a humiliating military defeat or a societal collapse to reevalute such myths.

Megan S Vhailor a day ago
What has been the history of this country since the end of the cold war aside from humiliating military defeats and societal collapse?
Vhailor Megan S a day ago
The numerous foreign misadventures of the US military since 1989 are far from a humiliating military defeat, they are more of an embarassment for the ruling elites. Take for example Afganistan - how many soldiers did the US army lose there in 18 years? 2500? That's nothing compared to the strength and resources available to the Pentagon.

Societal collapse? I admit the living standards of the average working class Joe fell dramatically compared to the 90's, but you are far from a societal collapse. It won't happen as long as the US Dollar is the world currency. Believe me :)

Gary Sellars Vhailor a day ago • edited
The dollars days are numbered. You can't degrade a fiat currency by endless printing with reckless abandon and expect that the other nations of the planet will retain any trust that the scrip will remain a reliable store of value.

BTW Afghanistan is an unmitigated DISASTER. The "hyperpower" cannot impose its will on one of the most backward and impoverised nations on the planet. Heck the Soviets did better in their day, and they had to face a billion-dollar-a-year foreign-backed insurgency funded by US & Saudi, and backed to the hilt by Pakistan. By comparison, the Taliban have NO allies and no foreign funding, yet try as they might, neither the US nor its feckless puppet regime in Kabul can succeed in grinding them down.

Feral Finster Gary Sellars a day ago
Were to God that you are correct.
Inn caritas Vhailor a day ago
If I were a statistical man, I'd wager that civil war within the decade is highly unlikely if the current trajectory of US society continues
Inn caritas Inn caritas a day ago
Highly likely*
Vhailor Inn caritas a day ago
Hmmm... I wouldn't. Who would fight whom? Or would it be a free for all Mad Max style?

You Americans have this weird fascination with the apocalyptic. Seriously, just look at your movies - each year Hollywood dishes out at least half a dozen blockbusters dealing with societal collapse - be it due to an alien invasion, zombie plague, impact event or something else...

I admit, you have problems. The middle class is getting poorer each year, mass imigration from the southern side of your continent is tearing apart the social fabric and your elite got richer and more arrogant sice they embraced globalisation in the 90's. But this doesn't mean that the country is heading towards a civil war.

Inn caritas Vhailor a day ago
Well .... I'm not even American so I feel I can look at this somewhat More objectively than a hardcore blue or red stater. Still hard to tell whether covid will put a wrench in the trajectory or accelerate it. And if you want apocalypticism, go see Rod.
Gio Con Vhailor a day ago
Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan -- how many more humiliating military defeats will it take for Americans to realize that they are anything but exceptional?
ZizaNiam Gio Con a day ago • edited
Americans view killing foreign men, women, and children as a successful endeavor of their efforts to fight for freedom. American also are not bothered if their soldiers torture and rape foreign men, women and children. So these wars are not seen as failures but successes, even if actual geopolitical goals are not realized.
Gutbomb Vhailor a day ago
"You won't. It always takes a humiliating military defeat or a societal collapse to reevalute such myths."

I would go a bit further and say that Americans won't reevaluate those myths until they personally feel the pain from those things and they blame their pain on the government that caused them. So much of our current policies are guided by the principal of making sure that Americans do not feel the pain of their government's actions. We eliminated the draft so most Americans have no skin in the game regarding military conflicts (not to mention no war taxes, no goods rationing, etc.). We have come to expect bottomless economic "stimulus," borrowed from our children's future labor, so we feel minimal pain from the poor preparation for the pandemic. Bread and circuses have proven to be powerful manipulation tools indeed.

Fazal Majid 2 days ago • edited
The US is remarkably insular, in large part because it is a mostly self-sufficient (or used to be) nation-continent, but the hubristic idea of exceptionalism also makes us resistant to good ideas invented elsewhere.

As concerns COVID-19, I have a number of physicians in my family, and it's only on March 16th that they awakened to the crisis, a week after France officially announced it was going into lockdown or after London basically became a ghost town. One of them even took her kids to Disneyland around that time, something that seemed the height of irresponsibility to us at the time. Thus obliviousness is not just a feature of the Trump administration. The lone exception is tech companies, perhaps because they are more globalized than most, but the Washington policy navel-gazing circle-jerk is mostly oblivious to the West Coast.

Now the idea that some crises can only be solved with US leadership is not without merit. Just because we cannot solve all doesn't mean there aren't some important categories where our military might and logistic prowess carry the day. That COVID-19 would prove to be an especially tough challenge for the US was entirely predictable. From our fractured decision-making due to federalism, our abysmally inefficient health-care system with its huge swathes of uninsured, our ideology of free market solutions to everything, and our polarized and ineffectual legislature, made this crisis almost tailor-made to expose the fault-lines in our brittle society in the worst possible light.

I don't think we need to ape the Chinese, but certainly we need to look outward for a change, shed our not-invented-here mentality and look at how South Korea or New Zealand succeeded where we failed, despite having a fraction of our resources.

Augustine Fazal Majid 9 hours ago • edited
What military might which has not been able to win any war that it started ever? What logistic prowess that cannot make PPEs for at least the healthcare workers, not to mention toilet paper for the people?
t44s 2 days ago
excellent article Daniel! My thoughts exactly!
Jeffrey Groom 2 days ago
Great article Daniel.
Wally 2 days ago
I would love to see all our political leaders (and their media friends) respond to the observations by Mr. Bacevich and Mr. Larison. Of course, I agree with both of them. Perhaps this economic crisis combined with the pandemic will finally break america. It's a shame it has come to this. Must we endure economic collapse, starvation, and the corruption / looting by the wealthy in order to finally stop caring about imaginary threats half way around the world? I suspect the answer is yes. Americans will never abandon their arrogance until they are laid low by something.
Feral Finster Wally a day ago
"A wolf, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the Lamb the Wolf's right to eat him. He thus addressed him: "Sirrah, last year you grossly insulted me."

"Indeed," bleated the Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, "I was not then born."

Then said the Wolf, "You feed in my pasture."

"No, good sir," replied the Lamb, "I have not yet tasted grass."

Again said the Wolf, "You drink of my well."

"No," exclaimed the Lamb, "I never yet drank water, for as yet my mother's milk is both food and drink to me."
Upon which the Wolf seized him and ate him up, saying, "Well! I won't remain supperless, even though you refute every one of my imputations."

Moral: The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny."

**************************

For a few more years, the US will have absolute power over other people and we will use that power in an absolutely corrupt way at the behest of our overlords in Riyadh and Jerusalem. When retribution finally comes our way, no one will shed a tear for us.

Nor should they, for we do evil.

Sidney Caesar Wally a day ago
I'd endorse restoring civics classes in American schools, with a reading list comprised of Daniel Larison, Andrew Bacevich, and Noam Chomsky.
JoeBu 2 days ago • edited
How long will it take and how bad will it get?

The Qianlong Emperor dismissed Lord Macartney's trade mission in 1792 because the celestial kingdom had no need for the manufacturers of barbarians.

China then got whooped in the first Opium War in 1841. It continued to rot for +100 years.

China had a major exceptionalism problem which hamstrung reform efforts for a century. Some of it is still ongoing (another topic).

I'm trying to figure out what psychological decompensation will look like and how long it will last.

Kent JoeBu 2 days ago
The US has long been a myth-making factory for the population. The average American has a pretty rough life. Generally strapped with debt (mortgage, cars), working a dead-end job with little protection should you lose it. But people are tribal and can get their sense of self-worth from the tribe. So to be constantly told you are "exceptional" and part of the "greatest nation the world has ever known" can cover up a lot of pain in real life. See New England Patriots fans or LSU Tigers fans.

So while being so exceptional, you get to spend hours trying to figure out which Obamacare policy won't cost so much that it takes up all of your extra monthly cash while simultaneously leaving you thousands in debt if you actually needed to use it.

JoeBu Kent 2 days ago • edited
Agree. So decompensation. Is it an opportunity to right the ship or does it get real ugly?
Kent JoeBu a day ago • edited
I tend to think the psychological decomposition is on-going. Americans know that something is terribly wrong, but they can't seem to put their collective finger on it. The Trump vote was a big signal that folks know something is wrong. The hope was that Trump could fix it, but he just knew something was wrong too. He didn't know how to fix it, but at least he is willing to talk about it.

But I don't see how you right the ship. What's wrong is that what got us to be a wealthy powerful country today isn't what is going to keep us that way going forward. That's very hard for people at all levels of society to understand and accept.

So I expect a continued devolution. Where it gets increasingly "real ugly" for a lot of people, while a lot of us continue to do fairly well. You have to have a lot of hope your kids can make it too.

Feral Finster Kent a day ago
Americans know that something is terribly wrong and getting worse by the day and by the crisis, but they seems to think that tribal solutions are the answer.
JoeBu Feral Finster a day ago
Agree.

America, as a society, has high functioning autism.

Something is wrong but in good times, it can really outperform and faults can be overlooked.

But when its routine is disrupted, it will have meltdowns and tantrums.

Feral Finster JoeBu 9 hours ago
Empires tend to do that, especially as they find that they are no longer as omnipotent as they think they are, or as they once were.
JoeBu Kent a day ago
Decompensation cratered China for over a century.

Modernity should speed up this cycle, no?

Russia cratered for a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has moderately recovered. Not so great but not 100 years.

kouroi Kent a day ago
So true. An eye opening set of essays goes to the hart of this: Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War Paperback by Joe Bageant.

However, that book hasn't received the same fame and traction as this other one (and I am looking at you TAC and Rod Dreher as well): Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance and this is because in the first the author focuses on the system as the one that produces certain results while on the other the author puts more weight on individual choices, the darling idea of conservatives, the lifting oneself by bootstraps, the American success story of rags to riches...

Feral Finster JoeBu a day ago
Opium is not native to China. The reason that the British pushed opium on China, in spite of the strenuous objections of the Chinese governments and officials of the time, is because before the Opium Wars, trade with China was causing a worldwide shortage of silver. Silver was about the only thing that non-Chinese had that Chinese wanted. Until opium.

In fact, at least one Chinse official wrote Queen Victoria a letter to the effect that opium is forbidden in Great Britain, so why are you trying to push it on us here?

EliteCommInc. 2 days ago
"The coronavirus pandemic is a curse. It should also serve as an opportunity, Americans at long last realizing that they are not God's agents. Out of suffering and loss, humility and self-awareness might emerge. We can only hope."

Laugh. ohhh you guys need to stop. The virus is not an indication that God is denying an exceptional role for the US. A star athlete is exceptional and may even be fascinating. However,

the reality remains that in order to stay exceptional, fascinating and "indispensable" ---- there are things that athelete must do and and there are things that athelete must avoid doing.

We have engaged in a lot of things we should avoid and neglected some matters that would be helpful in maintaining our own health and care --- damaging our exceptional performance.

Jesse Owens and the Bolt, Usain bolt don't participate in every event and they don't run in every race all the time . . .

It simply is unsustainable.

I of course reject all the whining bout how we, the US, are not exceptional --- and while dispensable, or value on the planet remains vital.

kouroi EliteCommInc. a day ago
"value"? more like "impact"... and "vital"? For about 100 years China was an object of history rather than subject, no biggie. The World would need a breather with a bit of hiatus concerning the US.
Wally EliteCommInc. a day ago
If the virus is not gods curse then the equally foolish notion that Americans are gods agents ought to be rejected as well. I think you have misunderstood the context of the reference to gods.
=marco01= EliteCommInc. a day ago
The virus is not an indication that God is denying an exceptional role for the US.

But a natural disaster striking a blue state, that totally is an indication God is punishing them for their degeneracy.

EmpireLoyalist 2 days ago
Two constitutional amendment movements must come out of this crisis:
1) Large metropolitan areas must be detached from the states in which they reside. It is beyond tragic to see civilised people, with deep roots and traditional values, come under the tyranny of brutal marxist regimes - as we see in so many places from Virginia to NY to Pennsylvania to Illinois. We have giant colonies of government dependents and cube-dwellers, which are being used by the Left as vote plantations. The governments they produce are then inflicted on normal decent innocent people who just happen to live within the same state lines. This can't be allowed to continue.
2) Anybody (like Bill Gates) who engages in planning or promoting policies that would treat humans as livestock (e.g., by tracking them with implanted micro-chips) should be charged with crimes against humanity.
It would be an uphill battle to achieve these goals, but if we do not start right away, the next crisis could be used by the Left to impose their sick vicious perverted social engineering programme - which would mean the end of human civilisation and of the human race as we know it.
Doug Fister EmpireLoyalist a day ago
wow, what a deranged, reality-free comment.
Freespeak EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Whoa amazing, this is like unreasoning.
gnt EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Who would want to implant chips in people who willingly pay hundreds of dollars for a portable device that facilitates tracking the owner?

As far as separating metropolitan areas from surrounding rural areas, it would exacerbate a problem that is already developing. The structure of Congress is already weighted toward rural states. Anything that increases that advantage will mean that more people are governed by fewer people. That's not going to make the US a more stable country.

Awake and Uttering a Song EmpireLoyalist a day ago
View Hide
EmpireLoyalist EmpireLoyalist a day ago • edited
The readership of TAC are predominantly committed Leftists.
This comment appears to have touched a nerve.
These measures would impede implementation of The Agenda.
Excellent.
Sidney Caesar EmpireLoyalist a day ago
While there are certainly leftists (like myself) among TAC readership, the thing that distinguishes most TAC readers from folks like yourself is that we reside on the left side of the sanity/insanity divide.
EmpireLoyalist Sidney Caesar a day ago
The commenters here seem to feel these two ideas are crazy:
1) Civilised people should not be placed under the power of people they view as primitive bloodthirsty degenerates.
2) Human beings should not be treated as livestock - tracked and managed by a post-human ruling class.
If The Left believes these ideas are insane, we have a big problem.
That is confirmation that the chasm between Western Civilisation and the marxist ideology is absolutely unbridgeable. There is zero overlap - zero common ground. [In fact, the two are so far apart that one can't see the other with a telescope on a clear day.]
We need to be moving toward some form of separation - whether that means a peaceful partition like the Soviet Union in the early nineties, a loose confederation like the British Commonwealth, or maybe a defence/foreign policy alliance based on the NATO model.
Sidney Caesar EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Ideas are just ideas.
It's the people with those ideas who are crazy.
EmpireLoyalist Sidney Caesar a day ago
"Sane people have crazy ideas. Crazy people have sane ideas."
It's gonna be tough to sell that one.
Are you really just saying that we should submit to an insane ideology because the people promoting it are just the coolest, most fabulous people ever?
The normal humans are not buying that garbage.
That's why marxism always turns to extreme violence.
Socialism cannot compete, so it must conquer. It cannot persuade, so it must coerce and terrorise.
gnt EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Have you not noticed that we seem to be doing our fair share of conquering, coercing and terrorizing in the last 40 years?
Ruth Harris EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Probably the difference is in who either side defines as "primitive bloodthirsty degenerates" and "a post-human ruling class."
gnt EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Every time I see the "the Left" used as the subject of a sentence, it always seems to follow that the writer does not know what he's talking about, and probably does not know any actual leftists who think or do what the writer is claiming they think or do. When you build straw men from information you get on Fox News, you're not likely to get much more than ill-founded generalizations.
Gutbomb gnt a day ago
Any time you see a comment that repeats "the Left/Liberals/Democrats believe X" and "the Right/Conservatives/Republicans believe Y" you can bet that it will not be insightful.

[May 01, 2020] It Took COVID To Expose the Fraud of 'American Exceptionalism' by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
Apr 30, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
|

12:01 am

Our leaders were so preoccupied with remaking the world they failed to see that our country was falling apart around them. Has the time come to bury the conceit of American exceptionalism? In an article for the American edition of The Spectator , Quincy Institute President Andrew Bacevich concludes just that:

The coronavirus pandemic is a curse. It should also serve as an opportunity, Americans at long last realizing that they are not God's agents. Out of suffering and loss, humility and self-awareness might emerge. We can only hope.

The heart of the American exceptionalism in question is American hubris. It is based on the assumption that we are better than the rest of the world, and that this superiority both entitles and obligates us to take on an outsized role in the world.

In our current foreign policy debates, the phrase "American exceptionalism" has served as a shorthand for justifying and celebrating U.S. dominance, and when necessary it has served as a blanket excuse for U.S. wrongdoing. Seongjong Song defined it in an 2015 article for The Korean Journal of International Studies this way: "American exceptionalism is the belief that the US is "qualitatively different" from all other nations." In practice, that has meant that the U.S. does not consider itself to be bound by the same rules that apply to other states, and it reserves the right to interfere whenever and wherever it wishes.

American exceptionalism has been used in our political debates as an ideological purity test to determine whether certain political leaders are sufficiently supportive of an activist and interventionist foreign policy. The main purpose of invoking American exceptionalism in foreign policy debate has been to denigrate less hawkish policy views as unpatriotic and beyond the pale. The phrase was often used as a partisan cudgel in the previous decade as the Obama administration's critics tried to cast doubt on the former president's acceptance of this idea, but in the years since then it has become a rallying point for devotees of U.S. primacy regardless of party. There was an explosion in the use of the phrase in just the first few years of the 2010s compared with the previous decades. Song cited a study that showed this massive increase:

Exceptionalist discourse is on the rise in American politics. Terrence McCoy (2012) found that the term "American exceptionalism" appeared in US publications 457 times between 1980 and 2000, climbing to 2,558 times in the 2000s and 4,172 times in 2010-12.

The more that U.S. policies have proved "American exceptionalism" to be a pernicious myth at odds with reality, the more we have heard the phrase used to defend those policies. Republican hawks began the decade by accusing Obama of not believing in this "exceptionalism," and some Democratic hawks closed it out by "reclaiming" the idea on behalf of their own discredited foreign policy vision. There may be differences in emphasis between the two camps, but there is a consensus that the U.S. has special rights and privileges that other nations cannot have. That has translated into waging unnecessary wars, assuming excessive overseas burdens, and trampling on the rights of other states, and all the while congratulating ourselves on how virtuous we are for doing all of it.

The contemporary version of American exceptionalism is tied up inextricably with the belief that the U.S. is the "indispensable nation." According to this view, without U.S. "leadership" other countries will be unable or unwilling to respond to major international problems and threats. We have seen just how divorced from reality that belief is in just the last few months. There has been no meaningful U.S. leadership in response to the pandemic, but for the most part our allies have managed on their own fairly well. In the absence of U.S. "leadership," many other countries have demonstrated that they haven't really needed the U.S. Our "indispensability" is a story that we like to tell ourselves, but it isn't true. Not only are we no longer indispensable, but as Micah Zenko pointed out many years ago, we never were.

It was 22 years ago when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright publicly declared the United States to be the "indispensable nation": "If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us."

In a recent interview with The New York T imes, Albright sounded much less sure of her old position: "There's nothing in the definition of indispensable that says "alone." It means that the United States needs to be engaged with its partners. And people's backgrounds make a difference." Albright's original statement was an aggressive assertion that America was both extraordinarily powerful and unusually farsighted, and that legitimized the frequent U.S. recourse to using force.

After two decades of calamitous failures that have highlighted our weaknesses and foolishness, even she can't muster up the old enthusiasm that she once had. No one could look back at the last 20 years of U.S. foreign policy and still honestly say that "we see further" into the future than others. Not only are we no better than other countries at anticipating and preparing for future dangers, but judging from the country's lack of preparedness for a pandemic we are actually far behind many of the countries that we have presumed to "lead." It is impossible to square our official self-congratulatory rhetoric with the reality of a government that is incapable of protecting its citizens from disaster.

The poor U.S. response to the pandemic has not only exposed many of the country's serious faults, but it has also caused a crisis of faith in the prevailing mythology that American political leaders and pundits have been promoting for decades. This found expression most recently in a rather odd article in The New York Times last week. The framing of the story makes it into a lament for a collapsing ideology:

The pandemic sweeping the globe has done more than take lives and livelihoods from New Delhi to New York. It is shaking fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism -- the special role the United States played for decades after World War II as the reach of its values and power made it a global leader and example to the world.

The curious thing about this description is that it takes for granted that "fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism" haven't been thoroughly shaken long before now. The "special role" mentioned here was never going to last forever, and in some respects it was more imaginary than real. It was a period in our history that we should seek to understand and learn from, but we also need to recognize that it was transitory and already ended some time ago.

If American exceptionalism is now "on trial," as another recent article put it , it is because it offered up a pleasing but false picture of how we relate to the rest of the world. Over the last two decades, we have seen that picture diverge more and more from real life. The false picture gives political leaders an excuse to take reckless and disastrous actions as long as they can spin them as being expressions of "who we are" as a country. At the same time, they remain blind to the country's real vulnerabilities. It is a measure of how powerful the illusion of American exceptionalism is that it still has such a hold on so many people's minds even now, but it has not been a harmless illusion.

While our leaders have been patting themselves on the back for the enlightened "leadership" that they imagine they are providing to the world, they have neglected the country's urgent needs and allowed many parts of our system to fall into disrepair and ruin. They have also visited enormous destruction on many other countries in the name of "helping" them. The same hubris that has warped foreign policy decisions over the decades has encouraged a dangerous complacency about the problems in our own country. We can't let that continue. Our leaders were so preoccupied with trying to remake other parts of the world that they failed to see that our country was falling apart all around them.

American exceptionalism has been the story that our leaders told us to excuse their neglect of America. It is a flattering story, but ultimately it is a vain one that distracts us from protecting our own country and people. We would do well if we put away this boastful fantasy and learned how to live like a normal nation.

[Apr 30, 2020] Pompeo's Cynical Attack on the Nuclear Deal by Daniel Larison

Apr 27, 2020 | www.antiwar.com

Originally appeared at The American Conservative .

The Trump administration has been desperately trying to kill the nuclear deal for the last two years after reneging on it. Now they will try to kill it by pretending to be part of it again:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is preparing a legal argument that the United States remains a participant in the Iran nuclear accord that President Trump has renounced, part of an intricate strategy to pressure the United Nations Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Tehran or see far more stringent sanctions reimposed on the country.

The administration's latest destructive ploy won't find any support on the Security Council. There is nothing "intricate" about this idea. It is a crude, heavy-handed attempt to employ the JCPOA's own provisions to destroy it. It is just the latest in a series of administration moves that tries to have things both ways. They want to renege on U.S. commitments while still refusing to allow Iran to benefit from the agreement, and they ultimately hope to make things difficult enough for Iran that their government chooses to give up on the agreement. It reeks of bad faith and contempt for international law, and all other governments will be able to see right through it. Some of our European allies have already said as much:

European diplomats who have learned of the effort maintain that Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo are selectively choosing whether they are still in the agreement to fit their agenda.

It is significant that the Trump administration feels compelled to go through this charade after telling everyone for years that the U.S. is no longer in the deal. Until now, Trump administration officials have been unwavering in saying that the U.S. is out of the deal and can't be considered a participant in it:

Can't wait to see the tortured memo out of State/L claiming that somehow the U.S. is still a participant in the JCPOA. The May 8, 2018 announcement is literally titled "Ceasing U.S. Participation in the JCPOA ." https://t.co/I5t8LaC7dN

-- Richard Johnson (@johnsonrc01) April 26, 2020

[Apr 28, 2020] MoA - To Finally Kill The Nuclear Deal With Iran The U.S. Will Try To Rejoin It

Notable quotes:
"... I guess when an administration has shown over and over again that it does not respect, international law, domestic law, the US constitution, logic, meaning or the English Language then it can say anything and do anything. ..."
"... The power of the United States is rapidly fading. The country is on the eve of a massive social crisis, as its ruling class fails even to understand the extent of the system's failure. ..."
"... Israel is nobody's real need. Zionism is a philosophical oddity stranded by the tides of history, a mid Victorian nonsense entirely composed of racism and silly ideas about human inequality. ..."
Apr 28, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

, Apr 27 2020 16:54 utc | 9

!! a "deal" with "Not Agreement-Capable" entity.

... is that akin to the portion of a George Carlin comedy sketch ?

"From 1778 to 1871, the United States government
entered into more than 500 treaties with
the Native American tribes;
all of these treaties have since been violated
in some way or outright broken by the US government,

while at least one treaty was violated
or broken by Native American tribes."


Red Ryder , Apr 27 2020 17:07 utc | 11

The EU rapprochement with Iran is all about the huge market the EU wants. Their interest in the JCPOA was always about Iran developing, and the EU benefiting for its trade and investment potential.

Crippling Iran again with snapback sanctions certainly would end Iran-EU relations for a decade or longer.

With the EU economy in the toilet due to the pandemic, now more than ever the EU needs Iran free of sanctions, not laden with crippling new ones.

Only one country benefits from the economic strangulation of Iran--Israel.

Huginn , Apr 27 2020 17:16 utc | 12
In these times of memory holes, sometimes it pays to remember:
As much as I'd like to be optimistic that justice might actually be served for both Epstein and his myriad clients/co-conspirators, I think the powers-that-be will again squash this - or liquidate Epstein - before things get out of hand for them.

The American justice system has been corrupted in much the same way the political system has been, and it's primary objective is to protect the rulers from the common folk, not to actually deliver true justice.

I'll watch with anticipation, but I haven't had any satisfaction from either a political or justice perspective since at least the 2000 coup d'etat, so I won't hold my breath this time.

Does this seem precient?

Peter AU1 , Apr 27 2020 17:17 utc | 13
Glasshopper

You have got to be a paid to be putting to be putting that shit up here. US doesn't accept peace deals.

Nathan Mulcahy , Apr 27 2020 17:22 utc | 14
Economist Michael Hudson explains how American imperialism has created a global free lunch, where the US makes foreign countries pay for its wars, and even their own military occupation.

https://moderaterebels.com/transcript-economics-american-imperialism-michael-hudson/

Stonebird , Apr 27 2020 19:17 utc | 28
Background reading on Pompeo and his mafia.

This is part of Tom's description of the Article on Pompeo, Esper and the gang of 1986 (west pointers). They are well embedded.
In fact, one class from West Point, that of 1986, from which both Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo graduated, is essentially everywhere in a distinctly militarized (if still officially civilian) and wildly hawkish Washington in the Trumpian moment.
In case you missed it the first time, I repeat this link from the beginning of April,
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176686/tomgram%3A_danny_sjursen%2C_trump%27s_own_military_mafia_/

-----------------
Red Ryder | Apr 27 2020 17:07 utc | 14

One addition there. The EU lost "market share" in Iran due to US sanctions. (As they did with Russia). What they would like to do is to get it back. (France was one of the bigger losers)

El Cid , Apr 27 2020 19:24 utc | 29
Before any aggression, the United States want Iran to be hermetically sealed with sanction just like Iraq was before our invasion. Everybody knows the US's intentions because we've seen it before. There will be NO domestic support for war on Iran as Americans die due to no public healthcare and massive unemployment and poverty. Iran and the Middle East view a war on Iran as an Israeli wet dream. Israel is viewed as the intellectual author of aggression against Iran, and Iran will respond appropriately. So, is AIPAC willing to get Israel destroyed? Is AIPAC on a suicide mission? Looks that way.
Noah Way , Apr 27 2020 19:38 utc | 33
@ #8 Grasshopper

Israel and Saudi Arabia are de facto allies aiming to carve up the entire Middle East between them. Forget about Sunni / Shia / Hebrew, that is a manufactured excuse to war for resources (oil first, then water).

Proof? Mutual "enemies" (oil-rich Iran and Syria, which is the nexus for pipelines) and mutual ally (Uncle Sam). Also not a single complaint from Israel over the $100b US-Saudi Arms deal. As to Palestine, that is a human rights issue and has no weight because water is not recognized as a strategic resource (yet).

RT , Apr 27 2020 19:56 utc | 35
I guess when an administration has shown over and over again that it does not respect, international law, domestic law, the US constitution, logic, meaning or the English Language then it can say anything and do anything.
bevin , Apr 27 2020 20:11 utc | 38
"The Iranians are not helping the Palestinians one iota. They are splitting the opposition."
Glasshopper@29

Whoever has been helping Hezbollah has been helping the Palestinians. And whoever has been holding Syria together, despite the pressure of the imperialists and their sunni-state puppets, has also been helping the Palestinians by bringing some kind of balance into regional power calculations.

It is imperative that Iran continues not only to provide political support to the Palestinian cause but to democratise the Gulf, to the extent of bringing about the demise of the autocracies, and the Arabian world generally.

Israel has already exerted its maximum influence. The power of the United States is rapidly fading. The country is on the eve of a massive social crisis, as its ruling class fails even to understand the extent of the system's failure. (There will be no war to divert attention from the crisis.) And Israel will be left to solve its own problems as its 'allies' find themselves increasingly pre-occupied with real problems.

Supporting Israel and building it up as an imperialist base has been part of an era in which the empire was hegemonic and thus able to define international events in terms of domestic politics.

That era has ended. The USA is still powerful but it is no longer anything more than one of the major participants in geopolitical competition. Even to maintain its position it is going to have to do, what other powers have done and concentrate its resources on its real needs.

Israel is nobody's real need. Zionism is a philosophical oddity stranded by the tides of history, a mid Victorian nonsense entirely composed of racism and silly ideas about human inequality. Israel has one choice, to divest itself of its fascist government and its fascistic culture and seek accommodation within the neighbourhood or to wither away as its population emigrates leaving only the committed fascists to play with Armageddon.

Long before that happens the imperialists will have taken its weapons away from it.

It may very well be the case that the ordinary Iranian is no more committed to fighting on behalf of Palestinians than the average American is committed to risking all, or anything, for the sake of Israel. But Iran's commitment to Palestine is a powerful political statement and one that counters the divisive tactics of the wahhabis and their imperial friends. Iran has taken up the mantle that Nasser briefly wore, in the vanguard of a muslim and Arab nationalist movement. This makes it very difficult for the sunni tyrants actually to commit forces to defend Israel or attack Iran. Their duplicity is a measure of their own weakness.

Does anyone imagine that the pro-Israeli policies pursued by the Sauds are actually popular? The Gulf and Saudi policies of sucking up to Israel are far more damaging to them than Iran's stance is to it.

Arch , Apr 28 2020 5:12 utc | 61
@jiri #75

The United States announced its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the "Iran nuclear deal" or the "Iran deal", on May 8, 2018.

This document discusses the legal rationale for the US withdrawal from tje JCPOA in detail:


https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R44761.pdf

Since when does announcing your "withdrawal" from a contract NOT mean "leaving the agreement" ?

Piotr Berman , Apr 28 2020 6:26 utc | 65
Iran should sign a peace deal with the Israelis.
Posted by: Glasshopper | Apr 27 2020 16:42 utc | 8

Some people should stick to what they do well, like hopping on glass. A simple observation: peace deal with "the Israelis" is not possible. Gulfie princes tried. No cigar. They genuinely tried to be nice with Israel, out of "anti-Semitic delusion that Jews control USA". I conjecture that Glasshopper made a similar assumption -- why would Iran consider a "peace deal with the Israelis" if its direct conflict is with USA (and the Gulfies)? How it would help them unless "Jews control USA"?

As a mental experiment, let Grasshopper sketch a putative "deal with Israelis". Kushner plan?

Yeah, Right , Apr 28 2020 6:36 utc | 66
@70 BraveNewWorld, you haven't added up the numbers correctly. Take China, Russia and Iran out of the equation leaves you with five (including the EU as a whole, which is not a given). Take the USA out as well and it doesn't matter how sycophantic the Europeans are, Pompeo can only muster four votes.

And he needs five to refer the issue to the UNSC.

That's why Pompous wants to waddle his way back in: no matter which way he looks at this, without the USA sitting at the table he is one-short.

John Bolton, the gift that keeps giving.....

Yeah, Right , Apr 28 2020 7:12 utc | 67
Actually, I've just read the JCPOA and UNSC Resolution 2231 and neither has any mention of a "majority vote" requirement for a referral to the UNSC for a vote on "snapping back" sanctions. It appears that any one JCPOA participant can refer the issue of alleged non-compliance to the UNSC, provided that they first exhaust the Joint Commission dispute mechanism.

But I do note this in the JCPOA (my bold): "Upon receipt of the notification from the complaining participant, as described above, including a description of the good-faith efforts the participant made to exhaust the dispute resolution process specified in this JCPOA , the UN Security Council, in accordance with its procedures, shall vote on a resolution to continue the sanctions lifting"

Seems to me that there is a procedural "out" there for the UN Secretariat i.e. it may use that highlighted section to decide that the participant is a vexatious litigant whose participation in the Joint Commission was not in good faith, ergo, the UN can refuse to even take receipt of the complaint.

Everything else then becomes moot.

The USA would raise merry-hell, sure, it would. But that would be no more outrageous a ploy by the UN than was the USA's own argument that it can have its cake and eat it too.

After all, if a participant to the JCPOA referred its complaint to the UNSC without first going through the Joint Commission then it is a given that the UNSC is under no obligation to receive that complaint. No question.

So why can't the UNSC also refuse to accept a complaint when it is clear that the complainant has not gone through the Joint Commission process in "good faith"?

One for the lawyers and ambassadors to argue, I would suggest, but it is not a given that the USA can ram this through even if everyone were to agree that it were still a participant in the JCPOA.

Yeah, Right , Apr 28 2020 7:50 utc | 68
@61 Arch: "This document discusses the legal rationale for the US withdrawal from tje JCPOA in detail"

Arch, the crux of that CRS legal paper boils down to this:
.."under current domestic law, the President may possess authority to terminate U.S. participation in the JCPOA and to re-impose U.S. sanctions on Iran, either through executive order or by declining to renew statutory waivers"..

All the other fluff in that paper is inconsequential compared to this question posed by that quote: can the US claim to be half-pregnant?

I suspect not.

Note that at the time the CRS paper was written (May 2018) it did have a valid point i.e. while Trump *had* refused to re-certify Iranian compliance, he had *not* reimposed US sanctions on Iran, and so the CRS paper could credibly argue that Trump wasn't pregnant, he just talking dirty to the Congress.

But that was then, and this is now, and - as b points out - Executive Order 13846 is the smoking gun because in it Trump is OFFICIALLY stating that he has decided to " cease the participation of the United States in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ".

That EO is clearly the killing blow to Pompeo's nonsense, and even the CRS legal paper you linked to would agree.

Zeug , Apr 28 2020 12:29 utc | 74
As I see it, the historical problem with European fascism has been that when push comes to shove the knife comes out and its either give in to enforced collaboration or take a stabbing, it's your choice. Even if that means helping murder millions of your neighbours or being murdered. As Celan said "Der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland."

The US has been enforcing a morally sanitised Disney Adult version of this old world order since at least the 2003 Supreme Crime of Aggression against Iraq. Sooner or later as this global pandemic, political, and financial crisis unfolds, the US leaders will be forced to choose whether or not the UN is a viable vehicle through which to continue the elite lunatic project for planetary full spectrum dominance of 21st C financial and military affairs.

So I reckon the Pentagon at some point either gets to finally execute the long awaited 'Operation Conquer Persia' or the politicians and their chickenhawk ideologues will back off again and continue the death by a thousand cuts of the last 40 years. I'd probably bet the latter but that's the trouble with genuine psychopaths, push comes to shove they will go for it if they think they'll get away with it.

This last 2 decades has been like watching a reality TV series about a fat drunken psychopath with a bloody knife going around and stabbing people at a party, but now the psycho is starting to stagger and everyone in the house is watchful trying to keep their distance. House rules are that anyone starts an actual fight to the death with the psycho then everyone dies!

I more or less trust that if we ever get there, a multipolar world order won't collapse into outright fascism but we're closer to collapse every year, especially from this year on, and most especially in the Persian Gulf.

jared , Apr 28 2020 12:44 utc | 75
In current US political system, it is not necessary to propose a valid claim, or proposal or argument - they intend to act from a position of authority. They know where you live.

[Apr 24, 2020] Please Tell the Establishment That U.S. Hegemony is Over by Daniel Larison

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The truth is that decline was never a choice, but the U.S. can decide how it can respond to it. We can continue chasing after the vanished, empty glory of the "unipolar moment" with bromides of American exceptionalism. We can continue to delude ourselves into thinking that military might can make up for all our other weaknesses. Or we can choose to adapt to a changed world by prudently husbanding our resources and putting them to uses more productive than policing the world. ..."
"... Exit From Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order ..."
Apr 23, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
|

More than 10 years ago, the columnist Charles Krauthammer asserted that American "decline is a choice," and argued tendentiously that Barack Obama had chosen it. Yet looking back over the last decade, it has become increasingly obvious that this decline has occurred irrespective of what political leaders in Washington want.

The truth is that decline was never a choice, but the U.S. can decide how it can respond to it. We can continue chasing after the vanished, empty glory of the "unipolar moment" with bromides of American exceptionalism. We can continue to delude ourselves into thinking that military might can make up for all our other weaknesses. Or we can choose to adapt to a changed world by prudently husbanding our resources and putting them to uses more productive than policing the world.

There was a brief period during the 1990s and early 2000s when the U.S. could claim to be the world's hegemonic power. America had no near-peer rivals; it was at the height of its influence across most of the globe. That status, however, was always a transitory one, and was lost quickly thanks to self-inflicted wounds in Iraq and the natural growth of other powers that began to compete for influence. While America remains the most powerful state in the world, it no longer dominates as it did 20 years ago. And there can be no recapturing what was lost.

Alexander Cooley and Dan Nexon explore these matters in their new book, Exit From Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order . They make a strong case for distinguishing between the old hegemonic order and the larger international order of which it is a part. As they put it, "global international order is not synonymous with American hegemony." They also make careful distinctions between the different components of what is often simply called the "liberal international order": political liberalism, economic liberalism, and liberal intergovernmentalism. The first involves the protection of rights, the second open economic exchange, and the third the form of international order that recognizes legally equal sovereign states. Cooley and Nexon note that both critics and defenders of the "liberal international order" tend to assume that all three come as a "package deal," but point out that these parts do not necessarily reinforce each other and do not have to coexist.

While the authors are quite critical of Trump's foreign policy, they don't pin the decline of the old order solely on him. They argue that hegemonic unraveling takes place when the hegemon loses its monopoly over patronage and "more states can compete when it comes to providing economic, security, diplomatic, and other goods." The U.S. has been losing ground for the better part of the last 20 years, much of it unavoidable as other states grew wealthier and sought to wield greater influence. The authors make a persuasive case that the "exit" from hegemony is already taking place and has been for some time.

Many defenders of U.S. hegemony insist that the "liberal international order" depends on it. That has never made much sense. For one, the continued maintenance of American hegemony frequently conflicts with the rules of international order. The hegemon reserves the right to interfere anywhere it wants, and tramples on the sovereignty and legal rights of other states as it sees fit. In practice, the U.S. has frequently acted as more of a rogue in its efforts to "enforce" order than many of the states it likes to condemn. The most vocal defenders of U.S. hegemony are unsurprisingly some of the biggest opponents of international law -- at least when it gets in their way. Cooley and Nexon make a very important observation related to this in their discussion of the role of revisionist powers in the world today:

But the key point is that we need to be extremely careful that we don't conflate "revisionism" with opposition to the United States. The desire to undermine hegemony and replace it with a multipolar system entails revisionism with respect to the distribution of power, but it may or may not be revisionist with respect to various elements of international architecture or infrastructure.

The core of the book is a survey of three different sources for the unraveling of U.S. hegemony: major powers, weaker states, and transnational "counter-order" movements. Cooley and Nexon trace how Russia and China have become increasingly effective at wielding influence over many smaller states through patronage and the creation of parallel institutions and projects such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). They discuss a number of weaker states that have begun hedging their bets by seeking patronage from these major powers as well as the U.S. Where once America had a "near monopoly" on such patronage, this has ceased to be the case. They also track the role of "counter-order" movements, especially nationalist and populist groups, in bringing pressure to bear on their national governments and cooperating across borders to challenge international institutions. Finally, they spell out how the U.S. itself has contributed to the erosion of its own position through reckless policies dating back at least to the invasion of Iraq.

The conventional response to the unraveling of America's hegemony here at home has been either a retreat into nostalgia with simplistic paeans to the wonders of the "liberal international order" that ignore the failures of that earlier era or an intensified commitment to hard-power dominance in the form of ever-increasing military budgets (or some combination of the two). Cooley and Nexon contend that the Trump administration has opted for the second of these responses. Citing the president's emphasis on maintaining military dominance and his support for exorbitant military spending, they say "it suggests an approach to hegemony more dependent upon military instruments, and thus on the ability (and willingness) of the United States to continue extremely high defense spending. It depends on the wager that the United States both can and should substitute raw military power for its hegemonic infrastructure." That not only points to what Barry Posen has called "illiberal hegemony," but also leads to a foreign policy that is even more militarized and unchecked by international law.

Cooley and Nexon make a compelling observation about how Trump's demand for more allied military spending differs from normal calls for burden-sharing. Normally, burden-sharing advocates call on allies to spend more so the U.S. can spend less. But that isn't Trump's position at all. His administration pressures allied governments to increase their spending, while showing no desire to curtail the Pentagon budget:

Retrenchment entails some combination of shedding international security commitments and shifting defense burdens onto allies and partners. This allows the retrenching power, in principle, to redirect military spending toward domestic priorities, particularly those critical to long-term productivity and economic growth. In the current American context, this means making long-overdue investments in transportation infrastructure, increasing educational spending to develop human capital, and ramping up support for research and development. This rationale makes substantially less sense if retrenchment policies do not produce reductions in defense spending–which is why Trump's aggressive, public, and coercive push for burden sharing seems odd. Recall that Trump and his supporters want, and have already implemented, increases in the military budget. There is no indication that the Trump administration would change defense spending if, for example, Germany or South Korea increased their own military spending or more heavily subsidized American bases.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed how misguided our priorities as a nation have been. There is now a chance to change course, but that will require our leaders to shift their thinking. U.S. hegemony is already on its way out; now Americans need to decide what our role in the world will look like afterwards. Warmed-over platitudes about "leadership" won't suffice and throwing more money at the Pentagon is a dead end. The way forward is a strategy of retrenchment, restraint, and renewal.


Tradcon 2 days ago

They can't possibly grapple with the fact that they were wrong and that their policies were catastrophic failures in almost every regard.
Kessler Tradcon 2 days ago
Yeah. US just happened to decline, a completely natural process, some universal constant, like gravity of which we have no control.

No. A decadent US population, informed by clueless media, put in charge incompetent and self-serving leaders, who made a series of very poor choices for the nation, but financially beneficial for themselves.

HenionJD Kessler a day ago • edited
And thus our betrayed America's version of the White Man's Burden. It's sad to think our children having to endure living in a world where they aren't called to die in God-forsaken hellholes for reasons that have nothing to do with this nation's core principles. Sad!
AlexanderHistory X Kessler a day ago
Lol. Sort of. Except the very oligarchs you speak of, on both sides, set the stage for all of it.
This is the inevitable result of voting as a right, ans they knew it. Universal suffrage is a tool of control, not liberty.
MPC AlexanderHistory X a day ago
The oligarchs are really just like other Americans, who got their hands on a whole lot of money. I have no doubt the rest of the population would behave like oligarchs if given the same resources.
JonF311 AlexanderHistory X a day ago
We don't have universal suffrage and voting is no where named as a right in the Constitution. The most it has to say is that voting can not be denied to people based on their membership in certain classes, nor limited based on the payment of a tax.
Meddersville 2 days ago
"it has become increasingly obvious that this decline has occurred irrespective of what political leaders in Washington want."

It isn't "irrespective of". It is because of what they wanted. They wanted and aggressively pushed for US foreign policy to serve the narrow regional interests of client states like Israel and Saudi Arabia. They got what they wanted, in spades, and now America's geopolitical and economic fortunes are in a tail-spin.

If America had ignored these people, with their stupid interventionism, their almost blatant service of foreign interests by demanding "no daylight" with "allies" who did nothing but suck our blood, we would have been far better off. We would have been far better able to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to the pandemic. It's impossible not to think ruefully of the trillions we wasted on Middle East wars and other interventions, money now so badly needed here at home.

Jason Kennedy 2 days ago
The US will pursue a similar path to Israel. Advantage is relative. Rather than repair the US economy it is simpler to destroy those of one's rivals. I see war as the only attractive option for the US elite as that is the only area where they still enjoy clear superiority (or believe they do, same thing policy-wise.)
Kathleen King a day ago
Cooley and Nevon's book appears to be a good read - I will put it on my 'to read so buy' book list. China is the next hegemon - this is inevitable due to design. As time goes by during this 'coronavirus pandemic' I have been waiting to hear a politician, any politician, assert that they will support legislation to require 'essential supply lines' to be returned to the U.S. Aside from 'murmurs', not a 'lucid' peep. Just 'sue china' legislation, or smoke and mirrors blame on those within the U.S. via the media or politicians. This is just embarrassing and surreal.

The priority should be to bring these supply lines back to the U.S. [i.e., medical]. Too hell if I am going to be forced to pay for 'Obamacare' or 'Medicare For All' like a Russian Serf, to the Corporations [vassals] of China [Tatars] - enforced by their 'Eunuchs', greedy politicians in Washington. {Eunuchs were castrated lackies of Emperors]. Yet Chinese slave labour on these medical products, including pharmaceutical ingredients, and precious metals for parts for the Department of Defense, keep profit margins very high.

Because of their cowardice one must ask: Why increase defense spending on any project - or be concerned with Iran or Venezuela or Russia or keeping NATO afloat? Allowing China to continue to be the 'sole source' provider of essential goods is just asking for another scenario like the one before us. If so, I am convinced that my country is nothing more than a 'dead carcass' being ripped apart by 'Corporate Vassals of China'. This, of course, includes the Tech Companies as well.

Bankotsu Kathleen King a day ago • edited
China won't be next hegemon. It has no ambition to be one.
joeo Bankotsu a day ago
Are Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Australia and India aware of this?
Bankotsu joeo a day ago
Time will tell.
Feral Finster joeo a day ago • edited
China does not have ideal geography to be world hegemon.

For one thing, it is too easy to prevent any ships from leaving the South China Sea.

The fact that China has not gone to war with anyone since 1953, except for two sharp but short border conflicts in 1962 and 1979, should tell you something. Contrast with the peace-loving liberal democracy of the United States.

J Villain joeo a day ago
You mean the counties that have signed numerous trade and defence agreements with China?
Comicus Bankotsu 20 hours ago
China has seen the cost we've paid. I don't think they see the value.
dstraws Kathleen King a day ago
The answer of course is a functional international system--environmental protection, world health, a transparent financial system, world court, and policing. All agreed on by at least the major players which makes it costly for others not to participate.
Kathleen King dstraws a day ago
With good reason many 'mistrust' this int'l system given the threat to sovereignty of a country, most importantly the freedom of its citizens. An int'l system is asymmetrical, a radical 're-distribution' program that preys on citizens of the 'pseudo-wealthy' west. The United States will be, post-Corona Virus, potentially $30T in debt. Yet they contribute the most to the WHO. The largest contribution to the UN comes from the United States. This fact seems to rebut your 'costly for others not to participate'.

The Paris Agreement, like the UN and WHO, will rely on most of the funds coming from the U.S. and redistributed to other countries. And this will further destroy the standard of living in this country to the degree of crashing the economy. The expected Utopian Outcome for this so-called 'One-World' order will be a great disappointment to those that advocate for it. Because, after all, it is nothing more than a Utopian dream gambling on the cohesive nature of different demographic groups combined with significant reduction in freedoms for all - based on flawed models, including so-called 'man made global warming' models. To define the Demographic is use in the context of my response: does not = race; it equals culture. Right now this is being demonstrated in the super state of the EU. There can be no harmony in a world like this. It is like forcing a 'square peg' into a 'round hole'.

And who are these major players? The Eunuch Politicians in Washington and Western Europe? What are their priorities? Their wallets or their constituents? And I do not mean in a parental way. That is not the role of government.

Jim Chilton a day ago
Viewed from a global perspective at this time, there is a decline in American power and influence, but the vanity of politicians prevents them from seeing it and they don't want to let go.

The British government makes the same mistakes as it clings to an imaginary "prestige" as a world power - a power that vanished in 1914.

Lars a day ago
We don't have to collapse like the Western Roman Empire; we can adjust like the Byzantine Empire and stay around a thousand years longer.
Lee a day ago
After Eden was removed as PM post-Suez the new PM Harold McMillan came in and was honest with the British ppl in explaining their new role in the world, just 10-15 years after the triumph of WW2 a UK Prime Minister had the courage to tell the British people that they were no longer at the top table, that the age of Empire was over and to put in place the policies required to remove the burden of empire from Britain and adjust to its new role in the world. Do you see an American politician with the capability to tell some uncomfortable home truths to the American people and still win an election?
joeo Lee a day ago
i think that is why voters elected Trump. The citizens of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin have lived the decline of the United States. At least under trump there have been no new wars but the withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan NATO, Japan, Korea needs to occur with the Military-Industrial-Media Complex kicking and screaming.with each step. Also ending sanctions on Iran, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela.
WolfNippleChips joeo a day ago
We are in Japan because it allows us to patrol the sea lanes which is vital for our economy and it gives us a large force ready to respond in case of Chinese or North Korean aggression. The Status of Forces Agreement and other treaties with Japan stipulate what percentage of costs are born by Japan.
joeo WolfNippleChips a day ago
Allowing Japan to destroy consumer electronics, damage steel and automotive is vital to our economy? Could we not patrol the sea lanes if we wanted to from Guam? Is not freedom of the sea just as vital to Japan, Europe and India? How is China or North Korea the aggressor when Japan, Korea and Taiwan have been client states of China with the US thousands of miles away?
Imperialism has bankrupt the United States just as it did Europe. The time has come to end these treaties.
MPC joeo a day ago
Ultra protectionism, retreat to our island and no one can find us, 'make America great again' I dare say, thinking is naive and unrealistic.

America wil be poorer, weaker, and more vulnerable if it tried to only make its own goods and had to rely on only its own labor. Trade is profit and profit is the ability to develop, build, and defend what we have. Where do the profits go is the question. Who loses in the trade is another question. Does the benefit from the former outweigh the latter?

I don't see Japanese trade as making much of a dent in employment rates. The profits go to the Japanese state and industry, who are important counterweights to Chinese ambitions in Asia, a mutual interest. So, the costs are few, and the profits are used in significant measure to mutual benefit.

The liberal hegemon is dead, yes our imperialism is dead even if it doesn't know it, but it is essential to remain strategically involved in the world around us. Even if we stop playing the game, the world around us does not. Did Russia have the luxury of turning into a turtle after the Cold War? No. Nations, which are all wolves, smell weakness. Yet the Trumpian right wants to hide, put its finger in its ear, and pretend that everything will be fine it seems.

Lee joeo 16 hours ago
What are these withdrawals from Iraq & Afghanistan you speak of? They just have not happened, like not even a little bit, so tired of people pushing this completely false narrative as if it is true, just maddening. A democracy cannot function if people exist in their own worlds with their own facts that are just not true
David Naas a day ago
The Brits after WW2 offer a lesson here. Hurt badly by WW1, their whole system began teetering as that illusion of the "natural superiority" of the British took massive hits in the various colonies of the Empire. By exposing the ordinariness of the administrators and soldiers, it encouraged revolt (see Gandhi in India). But WW2 arguably devastated the UK. It's "win" over Germany was Pyrrhic, as it needed both the USSR and the USA , and each took a chunk of prestige and of the "hegemon". George VI recognized this, and British politicians encouraged the shift from Empire to Commonwealth. (Which, if they had never involved themselves in the EU beyond trade and had kept up the Commonwealth as it was intended, would have been a better path than what they did, IMHO.) Nevertheless, they handled it better than I think we will.

As Jefferson said, "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none."

But to get there, we have a lot of nonsense -- damned nonsense - - to overcome.

John Achterhof a day ago
Excellent review and outlook on an encouraging transition from the compulsion of hegemony within a generally agreeable paradigm of economic liberalism (rules-based international markets).
john a day ago
Well this present regime is actively smashing "international organizations" constructed largely by the Americans after WW2. This makes it even easier for the Chinese to fill the vacuum we have created. It would be better to hold them in a Western biased "international organization"
engineerscotty a day ago
Would be nice if there were no global hegemon, actually.
NoNonsensingPlease engineerscotty a day ago
All indications are that ship has sailed. Will there be hegemons? Yes, but more than one. The US will not be the only hegemon and the COVID-19 helped the world see the emperor has no clothes.
MPC engineerscotty a day ago
I think that's the likely course, unless the US remains especially incompetent in ensuring that China isn't the one cleaning up at all the empire liquidation sales.

No nation should be entrusted with anything like the power the US has had.

WolfNippleChips a day ago
Until they start shooting down our airliners, sinking our cruise ships, attacking our Naval Bases, and invading their neighbors and committing genocide against people of other races and religions.

Then, the doves will wake up and realize that the Big Stick is what kept us safe afterall.

MPC WolfNippleChips a day ago
Yes, we need the Big Stick.

We just need a rethinking of strategy, since we're just hitting ourselves with it right now.

Some people feel inclined to toss away the stick to prevent the foolish use of it.

chris chuba WolfNippleChips a day ago
You mean fight people who actually threaten us rather than attack people because we dream up scenarios where it's possible or we just don't like them? I'll take that over preemptive genocide.

If we focused on actual defense 9/11 would not have happened. We ignored Al Qaeda despite the fact the bombed us multiple times because we were too busy bombing Serbia, blowing up their TV stations and expanding NATO to gobble up former Russian Republics.

Feral Finster a day ago
"Liberal international order" my royal Irish @ss.

The United States routinely ignores any international laws, whenever it sees fit. Anyway, the idea that United States hegemony is obligatory because muh international order is an argument from consequences.

AlexanderHistory X a day ago
Lol, America Is what's in the rear view, not just our status as the sole superpower.
People better get ready, this empire is getting ready to collapse.
NoNonsensingPlease AlexanderHistory X a day ago
Surely the shortest live empire in history.
JonF311 NoNonsensingPlease a day ago
Alexander's barely outlived his brief life.
M Orban AlexanderHistory X a day ago
You wouldn't be the first one to say that...
MPC AlexanderHistory X a day ago
Meh, people better get ready, we're getting ready to muddle along for the next several decades.

The American state is way too tasty a prize. No one is going to dismantle it, and people will unite against any threat that has the potential to. Eventually someone will figure out a Bernie/Trump fusion and that person will be our Peron or Putin. Radical leftists will be crushed by the police if they try anything, and the white nationalists will all be in prison.

We're somewhere between Argentina and Russia heading forward.

MPC a day ago
Sell the empire. Ignore the Middle East outside of the oil trade lanes. Reorient our trade networks on SE Asia, India, and Latin America - no more feeding China. End of hostile moves towards Russia - let Europe reconcile with Russia. Fully support multipolar world order.

Militarily we don't need the plodding battleship of a force we have now. No need to occupy whole countries with 'boots on the ground'. Maintain top notch special forces, advisor and coordination programs with allies, and anything useful for blowing up Chinese force projection especially the PLA navy. Subs and missiles.

Platonist_82 MPC 21 hours ago • edited
Lots of good ideas here. Would trading with India involve a "reorient[ation]?" (I don't know.) That is to say, would still trading with India mean that we have to maintain our current naval position, or would that still be consistent with some sort of drawdown? Or are you saying that since India is not a hostile force, we would not have to worry about it? Or does is that problem met with the "anything useful for blowing up Chinese force projection especially the PLA navy. Subs and missiles." Conceivably, China could increase its presence in the Indian Ocean to create problems, no? Overall, agree with a lot of it--I'm just curious about the logistics.
MPC Platonist_82 15 hours ago
India in the longer term could ostensibly do much of what China does for us now trade wise. Needs to finish developing its infrastructure and its manufacturing tech. SE Asia and Mexico are closer short term.

I think due to the commercial value of the seas our navy is our most cost effective means of force projection. Patrolling the Persian Gulf means we have our thumb on the number one petroleum artery. I would focus more on cost effective means to deny China (and Chinese trade) access to the seas in the event of tension. Carriers are expensive targets when subs and strategic missile emplacements can inspire even more fear due to unpredictability. But yes we still need bases and partnerships throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. China can roam around in peacetime as it wishes, what matters is that it stays totally bottled up in port, along with its maritime trade, in a conflict.

Allow these places to run up trade surpluses with us rather than China.

Platonist_82 a day ago • edited
I think Mr. Larison is on the right track. However, even if the logic of abandoning the Liberal International Order (LIO) is accepted--and the LIO most certainly should be abandoned--the entire story or narrative of post-World War II America narrative must be either abandoned or refashioned. It seems that the LIO functions as some sort of purpose for American citizens, and a higher-level theology for those who work in the United States Government, especially those who are involved in foreign policy making. Countering or reshaping the narrative of United States foreign policy and its link with domestic policy will be a challenge, but one that needs to be taken up, and taken up successfully. In personal conversations with those who support the LIO, they seem to take [my] criticisms of the LIO as some sort of ad hominem attack. This reaction is obviously illogical, but it is one that those who see the wisdom of abandoning the LIO must tactically and tactfully counter. Regrettably, supporting the LIO is conflated with being an American, or conflated with the raison d'etre of the existence of the United States. Many think the abandonment of the LIO cannot rationally be replaced and will necessarily be replaced with some sort of nihilism or the most cynical form of "realism," of which they mistakenly believe they possess understanding. For a start, reforming the educational system, insofar as it not already dominated by incorrect-but-fashionable far-leftist ideas that advocate a narrative of American history and purpose as false as it is pernicious, would seem to necessary. Many children grow into adulthood falsely thinking maintaining the LIO is their responsibility. It is, at root, a theological sickness.
MidnightDancer 9 hours ago
It is very difficult for me to see the U.S. changing course anytime soon. Neoliberal globalists, political, and financial, are in control.
Tony 7 hours ago
I hope it is over. To hell with the Europeans who have made a national sport of mocking Americans and all things America, while we risk nuclear war on their behalf. Let them face Putin and the Islamic invasion on their own - those problems are Europe's, not ours.
Frank Blangeard 7 hours ago
The United States is ramping up for the "Great Final War' with both Russia and China. Throw in Iran, Syria, North Korea etc. as an afterthought. The U.S. will bring the temple down on itself rather than give up the goal of 'Full Spectrum Dominance'.that it has been pursuing since the end of WWII.
Anti_Govt_Rebel 5 hours ago
Alexander Cooley and Dan Nexon may think the glory days are coming to an end, but I don't think Trump and the neocons got the memo yet. I see no evidence of any intent to change.
Matthew W. Hall 13 minutes ago
There is no "international order." That's just rhetoric that is useful for certain economic interests. A world without american hegemony will be divided and filled with conflict. Globalization can't work politically.

[Apr 19, 2020] Many Americans cannot accept as a nation that they could ever be wrong on anything.

Apr 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Dick , Apr 18 2020 22:47 utc | 84

America is the exceptional indispensable nation. Home of super heros in the movies and their military. Their TV is full of cop dramas with tough macho cops who always get their man. Many Americans cannot accept as a nation that they could ever be wrong on anything. After all, they saved Europe from the Nazis and then the evil ruskies. They see themselves as the greatest nation to ever exist upon the Earth that seeks only to do good for other countries (sigh).

Sadly, none of the above is true. The US needs to step down from their pedestal and rejoin the human race as equals. Belief in your own exceptionalism leads to hubris which leads to arrogance, leading to an overestimation of your own capabilities and a fatal underestimation of the capabilities of your adversary. Americans and especially their government are living in a fantasy with crumbling foundations.

[Apr 18, 2020] 'Never in my country': COVID-19 and American exceptionalism by Jeanne Morefield

Apr 07, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org
This March, as COVID-19's capacity to overwhelm the American healthcare system was becoming obvious, experts marveled at the scenario unfolding before their eyes. "We have Third World countries who are better equipped than we are now in Seattle," noted one healthcare professional, her words echoed just a few days later by a shocked doctor in New York who described "a third-world country type of scenario." Donald Trump could similarly only grasp what was happening through the same comparison. "I have seen things that I've never seen before," he said . "I mean I've seen them, but I've seen them on television and faraway lands, never in my country."

At the same time, regardless of the fact that "Third World" terminology is outdated and confusing, Trump's inept handling of the pandemic has itself elicited more than one "banana republic" analogy, reflecting already well-worn, bipartisan comparisons of Trump to a " third world dictator " (never mind that dictators and authoritarians have never been confined solely to lower income countries).

And yet, while such comparisons provoke predictably nativist outrage from the right, what is absent from any of these responses to the situation is a sense of reflection or humility about the "Third World" comparison itself. The doctor in New York who finds himself caught in a "third world" scenario and the political commentators outraged when Trump behaves "like a third world dictator" uniformly express themselves in terms of incredulous wonderment. One never hears the potential second half of this comparison: "I am now experiencing what it is like to live in a country that resembles the kind of nation upon whom the United States regularly imposes broken economies and corrupt leaders."

Because behind today's coronavirus-inspired astonishment at conditions in developing or lower income countries, and Trump's authoritarian-like thuggery, lies an actual military and political hegemon with an actual impact on the world; particularly on what was once called the "Third World."

In physical terms, the U.S.'s military hegemony is comprised of 800 bases in over 70 nations – more bases than any other nation or empire in history. The U.S. maintains drone bases, listening posts, "black sites," aircraft carriers, a massive nuclear stockpile, and military personnel working in approximately 160 countries. This is a globe-spanning military and security apparatus organized into regional commands that resemble the "proconsuls of the Roman empire and the governors-general of the British." In other words, this apparatus is built not for deterrence, but for primacy.

The U.S.'s global primacy emerged from the wreckage of World War II when the United States stepped into the shoes vacated by European empires. Throughout the Cold War, and in the name of supporting "free peoples," the sprawling American security apparatus helped ensure that 300 years of imperial resource extraction and wealth distribution – from what was then called the Third World to the First – remained undisturbed, despite decolonization.

Since then, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow the governments of approximately 50 countries, many of which (e.g. Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Chile) had elected leaders willing to nationalize their natural resources and industries. Often these interventions took the form of covert operations. Less frequently, the United States went to war to achieve these same ends (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq).

In fiscal terms, maintaining American hegemony requires spending more on "defense" than the next seven largest countries combined. Our nearly $1 trillion security budget now amounts to about 15 percent of the federal budget and over half of all discretionary spending. Moreover, the U.S. security budget continues to increase despite the Pentagon's inability to pass a fiscal audit.

Trump's claim that Obama had "hollowed out" defense spending was not only grossly untrue, it masked the consistency of the security budget's metastasizing growth since the Vietnam War, regardless of who sits in the White House. At $738 billion dollars, Trump's security budget was passed in December with the overwhelming support of House Democrats.

And yet, from the perspective of public discourse in this country, our globe-spanning, resource-draining military and security apparatus exists in an entirely parallel universe to the one most Americans experience on a daily level. Occasionally, we wake up to the idea of this parallel universe but only when the United States is involved in visible military actions. The rest of the time, Americans leave thinking about international politics – and the deaths, for instance, of 2.5 million Iraqis since 2003 – to the legions of policy analysts and Pentagon employees who largely accept American military primacy as an "article of faith," as Professor of International Security and Strategy at the University of Birmingham Patrick Porter has said .

Foreign policy is routinely the last issue Americans consider when they vote for presidents even though the president has more discretionary power over foreign policy than any other area of American politics. Thus, despite its size, impact, and expense, the world's military hegemon exists somewhere on the periphery of most Americans' self-understanding, as though, like the sun, it can't be looked upon directly for fear of blindness.

Why is our avoidance of the U.S.'s weighty impact on the world a problem in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic? Most obviously, the fact that our massive security budget has gone so long without being widely questioned means that one of the soundest courses of action for the U.S. during this crisis remains resolutely out of sight.

The shock of discovering that our healthcare system is so quickly overwhelmed should automatically trigger broader conversations about spending priorities that entail deep and sustained cuts in an engorged security budget whose sole purpose is the maintenance of primacy. And yet, not only has this not happened, $10.5 billion of the coronavirus aid package has been earmarked for the Pentagon, with $2.4 billion of that channeled to the "defense industrial base." Of the $500 billion aimed at corporate America, $17.5 billion is set aside "for businesses critical to maintaining national security" such as aerospace.

To make matters worse, our blindness to this bloated security complex makes it frighteningly easy for champions of American primacy to sound the alarm when they even suspect a dip in funding might be forthcoming. Indeed, before most of us had even glanced at the details of the coronavirus bill, foreign policy hawks were already issuing dark prediction s about the impact of still-imaginary cuts in the security budget on the U.S.'s "ability to strike any target on the planet in response to hostile actions by any actor" – as if that ability already did not exist many times over.

On a more existential level, a country that is collectively engaged in unseeing its own global power cannot help but fail to make connections between that power and domestic politics, particularly when a little of the outside world seeps in. For instance, because most Americans are unaware of their government's sponsorship of fundamentalist Islamic groups in the Middle East throughout the Cold War, 9/11 can only ever appear to have come from nowhere, or because Muslims hate our way of life.

This "how did we get here?" attitude replicates itself at every level of political life making it profoundly difficult for Americans to see the impact of their nation on the rest of the world, and the blowback from that impact on the United States itself. Right now, the outsized influence of American foreign policy is already encouraging the spread of coronavirus itself as U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran severely hamper that country's ability to respond to the virus at home and virtually guarantee its spread throughout the region.

Closer to home, our shock at the healthcare system's inept response to the pandemic masks the relationship between the U.S.'s imposition of free-market totalitarianism on countries throughout the Global South and the impact of free-market totalitarianism on our own welfare state .

Likewise, it is more than karmic comeuppance that the President of the United States now resembles the self-serving authoritarians the U.S. forced on so many formerly colonized nations. The modes of militarized policing American security experts exported to those authoritarian regimes also contributed , on a policy level, to both the rise of militarized policing in American cities and the rise of mass incarceration in the 1980s and 90s. Both of these phenomena played a significant role in radicalizing Trump's white nationalist base and decreasing their tolerance for democracy.

Most importantly, because the U.S. is blind to its power abroad, it cannot help but turn that blindness on itself. This means that even during a pandemic when America's exceptionalism – our lack of national healthcare – has profoundly negative consequences on the population, the idea of looking to the rest of the world for solutions remains unthinkable.

Senator Bernie Sanders' reasonable suggestion that the U.S., like Denmark, should nationalize its healthcare system is dismissed as the fanciful pipe dream of an aging socialist rather than an obvious solution to a human problem embraced by nearly every other nation in the world. The Seattle healthcare professional who expressed shock that even "Third World countries" are "better equipped" than we are to confront COVID-19 betrays a stunning ignorance of the diversity of healthcare systems within developing countries. Cuba, for instance, has responded to this crisis with an efficiency and humanity that puts the U.S. to shame.

Indeed, the U.S. is only beginning to feel the full impact of COVID-19's explosive confrontation with our exceptionalism: if the unemployment rate really does reach 32 percent, as has been predicted, millions of people will not only lose their jobs but their health insurance as well. In the middle of a pandemic.

Over 150 years apart, political commentators Edmund Burke and Aimé Césaire referred to this blindness as the byproduct of imperialism. Both used the exact same language to describe it; as a "gangrene" that "poisons" the colonizing body politic. From their different historical perspectives, Burke and Césaire observed how colonization boomerangs back on colonial society itself, causing irreversible damage to nations that consider themselves humane and enlightened, drawing them deeper into denial and self-delusion.

Perhaps right now there is a chance that COVID-19 – an actual, not metaphorical contagion – can have the opposite effect on the U.S. by opening our eyes to the things that go unseen. Perhaps the shock of recognizing the U.S. itself is less developed than our imagined "Third World" might prompt Americans to tear our eyes away from ourselves and look toward the actual world outside our borders for examples of the kinds of political, economic, and social solidarity necessary to fight the spread of Coronavirus. And perhaps moving beyond shock and incredulity to genuine recognition and empathy with people whose economies and democracies have been decimated by American hegemony might begin the process of reckoning with the costs of that hegemony, not just in "faraway lands" but at home. In our country.

[Mar 07, 2020] Note of Trump deals: they are not worth paper they are printed on

Mar 07, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

False Solace , March 6, 2020 at 5:04 pm

Well they signed the agreement with the Taliban and two days later the DOD was bombing them again so who knows what happens there.

Trump has declared all sorts of deals that ultimately turned into puffs of smoke -- the non-deal with North Korea comes to mind. I consider pulling out of the TPP and tariffs against China more indicative of bucking the consensus, but those can be reversed by Trump or any other president whenever they feel like it.

[Feb 25, 2020] A Worthless 'New Deal' from the Iran Hawks

So Menendez survived as MIC stooge. Nice.
Iran hawks never talk about diplomacy except as a way to discredit it.
Notable quotes:
"... And even if Iran were to accept and proceed comply in good faith, just as Iran complied scrupulously with the JCPOA, what's to prevent any US administration from tearing up that "new deal" and demanding more? ..."
Feb 25, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
|

10:03 am

Daniel Larison Two Iran hawks from the Senate, Bob Menendez and Lindse Graham, are proposing a "new deal" that is guaranteed to be a non-starter with Iran:

Essentially, their idea is that the United States would offer a new nuclear deal to both Iran and the gulf states at the same time. The first part would be an agreement to ensure that Iran and the gulf states have access to nuclear fuel for civilian energy purposes, guaranteed by the international community in perpetuity. In exchange, both Iran and the gulf states would swear off nuclear fuel enrichment inside their own countries forever.

Iran is never going to accept any agreement that requires them to give up domestic enrichment. As far as they are concerned, they are entitled to this under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and they regard it as a matter of their national rights that they keep it. Insisting on "zero enrichment" is what made it impossible to reach an agreement with Iran for the better part of a decade, and it was only when the Obama administration understood this and compromised to allow Iran to enrich under tight restrictions that the negotiations could move forward. Demanding "zero enrichment" today in 2020 amounts to rejecting that compromise and returning to a bankrupt approach that drove Iran to build tens of thousands of centrifuges. As a proposal for negotiations, it is dead on arrival, and Menendez and Graham must know that. Iran hawks never talk about diplomacy except as a way to discredit it. They want to make a bogus offer in the hopes that it will be rejected so that they can use the rejection to justify more aggressive measures.

The identity of the authors of the plan is a giveaway that the offer is not a serious diplomatic proposal. Graham is one of the most incorrigible hard-liners on Iran, and Menendez is probably the most hawkish Democratic senator in office today. Among other things, Menendez has been a booster of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), the deranged cult of Iranian exiles that has been buying the support of American politicians and officials for years. Graham has never seen a diplomatic agreement that he didn't want to destroy. When hard-liners talk about making a "deal," they always mean that they want to demand the other side's surrender.

Another giveaway that this is not a serious proposal is the fact that they want this imaginary agreement submitted as a treaty:

That final deal would be designated as a treaty, ratified by the U.S. Senate, to give Iran confidence that a new president won't just pull out (like President Trump did on President Barack Obama's nuclear deal).

This is silly for many reasons. The Senate doesn't ratify treaties nowadays, so any "new deal" submitted as a treaty would never be ratified. As the current president has shown, it doesn't matter if a treaty has been ratified by the Senate. Presidents can and do withdraw from ratified treaties if they want to, and the fact that it is a ratified treaty doesn't prevent them from doing this. Bush pulled out of the ABM Treaty, which was ratified 88-2 in 1972. Trump withdrew from the INF Treaty just last year. The INF Treaty had been ratified with a 93-5 vote. The hawkish complaint that the JCPOA wasn't submitted as a treaty was, as usual, made in bad faith. There was no chance that the JCPOA would have been ratified, and even if it had been that ratification would not have protected it from being tossed aside by Trump. Insisting on making any new agreement a treaty is just another way of announcing that they have no interest in a diplomatic solution.

Menendez and Graham want to make the obstacles to diplomacy so great that negotiations between the U.S. and Iran can't resume. It isn't a serious proposal, and it shouldn't be taken seriously.

Feral Finster 5 hours ago

And even if Iran were to accept and proceed comply in good faith, just as Iran complied scrupulously with the JCPOA, what's to prevent any US administration from tearing up that "new deal" and demanding more?

[Feb 16, 2020] On American exceptionalism : America IS exceptional in many ways -- but exceptional does NOT always mean better

Feb 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

jackiebass , February 11, 2020 at 7:40 am

This isn't something new. The American people have been fed propaganda for decades to make them believe America was exceptional. It was the bed rock of our Imperialism. If you lookout at measures of well being, America was always down on the list in every category. About the only thing we led in was military spending. American exceptionalism was used as a tool to justify our bad behavior all over the planet. Our government is the biggest terror organization on the planet. We have killed or injured millions of people. All in the name of spreading democracy, something we actually don't have.

eg , February 11, 2020 at 1:21 pm

America IS exceptional in many ways -- but exceptional does NOT always mean better

[Feb 16, 2020] Developing Countries Showing America Up

Feb 11, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

A cynical school of thought holds that one reason America makes borders so unpleasant is to deter US citizens from traveling so as to preserve our sense of exceptionalism in the face of countervailing evidence. For instance, one colleague, a former city planner, came back from a vacation in the south of France and raved about how terrific the roads were. The Gilet Janues would assure him that in rural areas, they were neglected, but my contact's point was that even in affluent parts of the US, you couldn't find ones on a par with the ones he drove on his holiday. And I suspect that even the roads that are impediments to safe, fast driving in the depopulating parts of France are still better than those in Michigan .

But America is slipping even further. It used to be that it would come up short in infrastructure and social well being indicators compared to most European countries. We now have readers who are looking at what they see in the better parts of the developing world and are finding America coming up short.

Costa Rica has admittedly long been depicted as the Switzerland of Central America. It has become more and more popular with expats for at least the last 15 years. I visited there briefly on a client project in 1997. While the downtown section of San José looked worn, even there, the people on the street were neatly if modestly dressed. And when you went out to the suburbs, the country looked comfortable to prosperous, and it seemed as if citizens made an effort to keep their neighborhoods well kept, even in non-tourist sections. Oh, and the food was terrific, particularly the fish.

A more recent sighting from Eureka Springs:

Just returned from deep southern rural Costa Rica to rural N.W. Arkansas. Peace and quiet almost everywhere I go now. Unless it's my own noise (music) which could not bother another.

The entire trip was quite the reminder of just how third world we the peeps are nowadays.

Internet was so much better there. No satellite dishes, except as modifications to them for use as roadside trash receptacles. Still no rural wired net in the U.S.. Cell signals were strong everywhere, yet I never saw people glued to a phone.

Public trans, brand new buses all up and down the countryside. Even many miles down dirt roads. Fantastic bus stops. No such thing as public transit in rural U.S.

A lot of people drive efficient 150cc motorcycles. The large bus stops seem intentionally oversized by design to co-serve as a place to pull under during rain. How civilized.

Grocery stores with real food everywhere. No chain stores best I can tell. Unless in larger cities. And a shockingly smaller amount of trash packaging. I would say for the same amount of weekly grocery consumption I generate at least three if not five times more trash in the U.S. Seemingly every few hundred people, never more than a mile, usually much less, have a store with produce and meats. I'm seven miles from a dollar store, two more miles to actual groceries. About the same population density in both places.

And then there is health care for all vs give me all you got, we don't give a fk.

Don't know but would wager their water tests much better across the board as well. Nobody consumes plastic water bottles. Even very remote beaches had little shards of plastic all along the water line though. No escaping it.

Schools did not look like prison at all. Kids were kids, with cookie stands, a work ethic, bicycles, laughter, no apparent phones, lots of soccer, some dirt on their fingers and toes. And laughter.

Poor to middle working class people did not look miserable, unhealthy, guarded and or afraid.

The chickens, dogs and cats were abundant though not overly so, well fed, healthy, roaming free.

Police were calm, not dressed to kill with body language fitting the peace officer description. CR has no military.

We have a choice and we are making so many bad ones. I feel like so many of my fellow US citizens don't get this fact. And it's a shortcoming of Sanders types by failing to paint this vision/picture. Even they are trapped in the downward spiral, knowing no other way from experience.

And Expat2uruguay seems to have adapted well to her big relocation. Ironically her big lament seems to be the cuisine isn't terribly inspired and fish is hard to come by, but other advantages of living there seem to more than make up for it. From a recent report:

Since relocating to Uruguay I was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer. There was no bill whatsoever for the surgery. The entire cost of my entire treatment, including my monthly membership fee of $60 a month, was under $2,700.

That total includes 16 months of the monthly fee and all of my treatments, including six months of chemotherapy, 6 weeks of daily radiation, co-pays for medications and tests, $7 co-pays for doctor visits, and additional testing and consultation for heart damage caused by the chemotherapy. I also had a couple of problems during the chemotherapy that required visits to the emergency room, a four day hospital stay because of ultra-low defenses, and consultation in my home a couple times. They did a really good job, and they're very good at cancer treatment here.

But the very best thing about Uruguay is the peacefulness, the tranquility, the laid-back approach to life. My stress levels are way down from when I lived in the US.

Several factors are likely at work. One is, as we've pointed out from the very outset of this site, that unequal societies are unhappy and unhealthy societies. Even those at the top pay a longevity cost due to having shallower social networks, having a nagging awareness that most if not all of their supposed friends would dump them if they took a serious income hit (can't mix with the same crowd if you can't fly private class, can't support the right charities, can't throw posh parties) and having to think about or even building panic rooms.

Another is the precarity even at high but below top 1% levels: job insecurity, the difficulty of getting kids into good colleges and then paying for it when they do, along with attempting to save enough for retirement. Even with steering clear of costly divorces and medical emergencies, the supposed basics of a middle or upper middle income lifestyle add up in light of escalating medical, education, and housing costs. And then some feel they are entitled to or need to give their kids perks in line with their self image of their status, like fancy vacations.

And we don't need to elaborate on how hard it is for people who are struggling to get by. But it's not hard to see that the status and sometimes money anxiety at the top too readily translates into abuses of those further down the food chain to buck up their faltering sense of power and self worth. Anglo-style capitalism is often mean-spirited and that tendency seems particularly strong now.

Specifically, which developing countries that readers know well give the US a lifestyle run for the money? And I don't mean for for US expats bearing strong dollars but for ordinary people. And where do they fall short?


PlutoniumKun , February 11, 2020 at 6:32 am

Just some observations:

You need to be cautious sometimes in interpreting how life is in other countries. I've known people who moved to very orderly, prosperous countries like Japan, South Korea, Germany, Austria etc., and loved the first year or so and would rave about it, but would gradually become, if not disenchanted, but a little more aware as they became familiar of negative undercurrents – there always seems to be a price to be paid for having a very law abiding, neat orderly society. Likewise, moving to poorer, but more cheerful countries like Thailand or the Philippines, or perhaps Portugal/Greece also (for those people willing to learn the language and go deeper into the society, there is a downward curve as they discover the downside to the laid back attitudes and constant sunshine.

There is also the simple advantage of laggards – they can learn from other countries mistakes and skip a generation of technology. I recall foreign visitors to Ireland in the early 1990's raving about how good the phone system was. There was no magic to it – Ireland simply had fallen well behind, but invested in what was then the most up to date proven digital system in the late 1980's, without having to go through the process of an incremental upgrade. You find this in a lot of developing countries – I remember being amazed when travelling in Tibet about 15 years ago that there was near perfect mobile phone signals even in very remote areas. It was simply that it was cheaper for the Chinese to extend mobile masts before land lines, so it made sense to roll out a remote network, when in other more 'advanced' nations your signal died as soon as you hit some hills. Sometimes, economically, there is an advantage to just using old established infrastrure (decades old airports, etc), which function adequately, rather than spending billions on brand new facilities which can only be built with significant opportunity cost.

Anyway, having said all that, as a regular visitor to the US I've frequently been struck by just how poor the infrastructure can be, even in high tech places like New York. I don't think the trek out to JFK from Manhattan would be considered acceptable in any other major world city. And poor areas of the US do have a sort of shabbiness you don't see even in many countries that are unambiguously much poorer (much of Asia, for example). J.K Galbraith of course explained the reason for all this many decades ago when he wrote about private splendour and public squalor.

a different chris , February 11, 2020 at 12:05 pm

>and loved the first year or so and would rave about it, but would gradually become, if not disenchanted, but a little more aware

There's a rule of thumb for this, you must know as any expat will rattle it off for you:

1) The first year you love it beyond all words
2) The second year you hate everything with the heat of a thousand suns.
3) The third year on, it's just where you live.

The Rev Kev , February 11, 2020 at 6:43 pm

After WW2, Australia encouraged British people to emigrate out to here. It was called the Ten Pond Pom scheme as these emigrants would pay ten pounds but if they did not like it could return home while paying their own fares. But they had to be here a minimum of two years in order to get a ticket home free.

The British picked up a reputation as whingers as they said that this was not how things were done in England or that is not what we believe back home. Come the two year mark, many left to go back to the UK as they thought the place would be just like England but with more sun.

Funny thing was a very large section of them would after returning home start to remember why they left post-war Britain. Then they would work hard to save up their money to pay the full fare out to Australia for themselves and their families. The numbers were large enough to be a noticeable phenomena.

jrkrideau , February 13, 2020 at 5:52 pm

In Canada in the 1979's it was called the ten thousand pound cure -- it cost about 10,000b quid to return to the UK and come back to Canada.

Yves Smith Post author , February 12, 2020 at 4:47 am

I very much liked Sydney the two years I lived there. But I didn't succeed in getting permanent residence, so perhaps I had not quite settled psychologically.

Plus Australia and Canada are American-tolerant and require less adaptation than any other countries.

vlade , February 12, 2020 at 6:31 am

Not my experience (and I lived in four different countries on average 10 years each, and spent enough time in a couple of others to know more than a "tourist") – for me, it's always "place where you live" with advantages and disadvantages. Each place I lived in was special in its own way – and had some significant problems (often well hidden from an occasional traveller).

What I did see and considered interesting is that after the fall of communist regimes quite a few emigrants went home – and about half of those emigrated again within few years.

thene , February 11, 2020 at 4:42 pm

The 'advantage of laggards' is fairly well documented in the history of technology and especially of telecoms. If something sort of works where you are, you tend to keep using it, while laggards who never got the last generation of tech might pick up a cheaper-better-faster option that doesn't rely on existing infrastructure.

Do you remember the transitions from 1G to 2G to 3G cellphones? How that might have affected you depends on where you were based at the time; basically America did terribly with 2G infrastructure and adoption (remember when Americans had to pay for inbound calls??) whereas Europe handled it much better and thus gave birth to the SMS cultural/linguistic explosion, but then America's bad experience with 2G spurred them to embrace 3G.

Electronic health records are another example the US began adoption a long, long time ago – the most dominant US health records provider (Epic) was founded in the 1970s, and this is part of why the US has the worst electronic health records in the world. I was at a digital health event a few years ago where someone explained to the audience how EHR works in Zambia, and that it was stunningly superior to any American system.

And people get REALLY confused about this. They assume that because a country is 'developed' or 'hi tech' it must have some kind of first-mover advantage, whereas in many cases existing infrastructure forms a stultifying status quo that impedes further development. It's really hard to get your average American to accept that the countries in Asia that they like to look down upon have much better internet/telecoms and industrial tech than America does. I am forever fascinated to watch this technological leapfrogging happen, and I live in hope that the renewables boom leads to a wave of tech we haven't yet dreamed of emerging in Africa & other places that aren't yet choked by an anticompetitive status quo.

Michael , February 11, 2020 at 6:56 am

A big reason I've been living in Europe these last 25 years is because of my experience traveling in Andalucía while living a comfortable life with a well-paying job in Silicon Valley. While not developing world by any common definition, this area is and was relatively poor and unemployment hovered around 20% unemployment and yet somehow people were always out enjoying the evening at bars (not to get drunk, but simply to socialize). Little evidence of homelessness. I lived in Spain for a number of years after/because of that experience. A friend from the US who frequently travels to Spain for work confirms he's never seen such road quality even in the poorest regions. I can attest that, for health care, I never saw a bill. The one time I ventured out of the gov network for a 2nd opinion from a private neurologist, the private expert confirmed the gov't doctor's diagnosis – in fact they knew each other and each respected the other's work.

Ignacio , February 11, 2020 at 8:37 am

Just hope you to enjoy it! I can endorse all that you wrote. This is not to say there are of course lot of problems and things badly done. There is in place a push for privatization like elsewhere in the EU. I knew the guy that many years ago was responsible for developing infrastructure foe primary attention in health care in Andalusia and they did a good job.

PlutoniumKun , February 11, 2020 at 9:33 am

Perhaps you can confirm this, but a doctor friend who briefly worked in Spain told me that the reason healthcare in Andalucia is so good is that it is in effect subsidised by northern European retirees. German and Dutch systems are happy to pay (lower) Andalucian prices for retired people in the South of Spain, while the local system uses the money to make a better system for everyone. I've never heard any traveller I know say anything bad about southern Spanish health care.

Ignacio , February 11, 2020 at 10:54 am

I don't know about this. In the early 80s, with good old days PSOE governing, is when the primary attention was designed and it was done quite well. That is what I can say first hand because I met people involved and heard good critics by outsiders. When you have public servants who are capable and want to do things correctly

Calvin , February 11, 2020 at 1:20 pm

When I'm told "I haven't met my deductible or that a procedure isn't covered" I get down on my knees and thank God I'm an American.
This is what freedom feels like!

Burns , February 11, 2020 at 7:31 am

Taiwan. Cost.of living is generally cheap unless you're buying property, which can get pricey. But, rent is generally low, food is very low and mostly healthy (they dont put much sugar in their stuff compared to America), healthcare isn't free for non-citz but still stupid cheap compared to America and top quality, crime is very low (second lowest crime rate in the world after Japan) and you get to experience real Chinese culture instead of PRC propaganda. I could go on but those are the highlights for me. I view it as a truly civilized society, although it no doubt has it's own problems. I encourage everyone i know to visit.

PlutoniumKun , February 11, 2020 at 9:39 am

I cycled a little around Taiwan 10 years ago – it is a very well functioning country, very safe and friendly with quite a distinct culture somewhere between China and Japan (lots of Japanese retirees go to Taiwan). Public transport is excellent, the cities have good facilities and there are lovely surf beaches in the south – the mountains are amazing, especially when you have cheap hot spring resorts everywhere.

The only negative is that probably because of their history many Taiwanese are super sensitive of anything that could be construed as criticism (even jokes). Oh, and that the towns and cities are incredibly ugly, even by most Asian standards. So much was just thrown up during the years of expansion, it will take a generation or two to make things a little better.

They do have some infrastructure problems though, mainly because of their location right in the path of some of the worst storms the Pacific can throw at any island – entire main roads get completely washed away very regularly.

thene , February 11, 2020 at 4:45 pm

It's not the Japanese retirees, it's the history of Japanese colonial occupation.

Much love to Taiwan. Really hope to spend more time there in the future.

Lindsay Berge , February 11, 2020 at 7:42 pm

The National Palace Museum is one of the great cultural treasures of the world and better than the British Museum in my opinion. A must see option for anyone visiting Taipei.

Stratophile , February 14, 2020 at 3:29 am

Burns:

I've been here for 30 years. Your broad strokes are largely correct but leave out a lot of fine detail. One small point is sugar:

Taiwanese puts TONS of sugar in drinks -- coffee, tea, all the traditional summer drinks, snacks/chips of any kind. When you go to a 500cc place for a drink, they even have a chart so you can choose how much sugar you want -- regular (= high), medium, and low (30% of the normal).

Coffee or tea at 7-11 and Family Mart is always powdered and includes powdered creamer and sugar.

As for food, Taiwanese LOVE garlic and leeks and are not averse to throwing in a lot of salt. Not to mention the cooking oil -- lard or vegetable -- that remains on anything that's been stir fried.

And Taiwanese LOVE deep fried food, traditional as well as MacDonald's.

As for "real Chinese culture," watch out for that since many Taiwanese do NOT consider themselves Chinese, and many Chinese (PRC) and overseas Chinese look down on Taiwanese as somewhat low class.

jackiebass , February 11, 2020 at 7:40 am

This isn't something new. The American people have been fed propaganda for decades to make them believe America was exceptional. It was the bed rock of our Imperialism. If you lookout at measures of well being, America was always down on the list in every category. About the only thing we led in was military spending. American exceptionalism was used as a tool to justify our bad behavior all over the planet. Our government is the biggest terror organization on the planet. We have killed or injured millions of people. All in the name of spreading democracy, something we actually don't have.

eg , February 11, 2020 at 1:21 pm

America IS exceptional in many ways -- but exceptional does NOT always mean better

a different chris , February 11, 2020 at 8:12 am

>America makes borders so unpleasant is to deter US citizens from traveling

And if you do escape, and if you do bring back stories of how much better so many things are in said other country, you are lectured to as how the US "protects their freedom" and if it wasn't for the fruits of your labor being mostly directed into trying to get the F35 to work that other country* would certainly have already been completely overrun by Communists! So shutupshutupshutup.

*which is generally described as "ungrateful".

Colonel Smithers , February 11, 2020 at 9:44 am

An American friend and former colleague, now a UK citizen and regulator, amused us with a story of how she was harangued at JFK for no longer living in the US when she began travelling on her UK passport.

Ignacio , February 11, 2020 at 11:04 am

A friend of mine, a business man, has always problems at JFK because his surname coincides with that of a Colombian drug dealer. He is always directed to a room and stays there for hours until they let him free (always equals two times to my knowledge).

Colonel Smithers , February 11, 2020 at 11:33 am

Thank you, Ignacio.

My Sevillana BFF, now based in NYC, has the same problem. Apparently her name is the most common for mules.

thene , February 11, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Oh gosh, that happened to my spouse once at an airport in the UK – he shares a surname with a Middle Eastern political leader.

BlueMoose , February 11, 2020 at 4:29 pm

My wife and I got lectured several years ago coming through Atlanta from Europe to visit family in the states by the homeland Security agent. My wife hadn't renewed her green card and was travelling on her Canadian passport. She has Polish/Canadian citizenship. I had to really bite down hard on my lip during the lecture because I did not want to miss our connecting flight. I told the agent since we were not planning to move back to the US, there was no need to waste so much money on renewing the card. Finally, I asked: are Canadian passport holders still allowed to enter the country? And if so, can we go now?

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 6:02 pm

The worst border crossings are always upon entering the States. The pointless shouting and general vacuousness of the security – certain indications that you're back among the Free – are comical to a point, until one sees how intimidated the Fins or whoever you flew in with are by this uncivilized chaos. I've apologized more than once on behalf of my country to a nice, non-English speaking non-terrorist being pointlessly harrassed by 'security'.

Kaleberg , February 11, 2020 at 8:32 pm

US Customs were always terrible. When I was a kid, we'd go down to the recently named JFK airport and watch the customs lines from the glassed in gallery above. I remember one agent finding some liqueur chocolates and jumping up and down on them. I didn't know adults did stuff like that.

Bern , February 15, 2020 at 2:04 pm

Alternate experience mine:
While in Lebanon and Syria in 2004, bought a kilo of zatar, had it wrapped in multiple layers of plastic to preserve it, stuffed it in luggage and forgot about it. Upon returning to the states, went thru customs in SF. Agent said "what ya got in the bags?" We said "nothin". He said "open up anyway" so I did. When he got to the bottom and found the (forgotten) spice he pulled it out and looked at me, and I laughed, and told him what it was. He said "Yeah, whatever", put it back in the bag and sent us on our way

Oh , February 11, 2020 at 11:13 am

I grimace when I hear that we are part of a "free world". Ever since 9/11 there have so many curbs on our freedom and the mass surveillance by the 3 letter agencies and corporations make a mockery of the term.

oaf , February 11, 2020 at 8:19 am

Thank you for publishing this delightful article. What a shame that most U.S citizens get their conceptualization of the rest of the world from MSM. A friend lived and worked in various parts of Africa for years; he told me that when he announced plans to return *home*, his African companions asked him "why? its SO DANGEROUS THERE!!!"
My sister's companion-with family in Israel- describes our local ( in upper Northeast U.S.) hospitals as: like something from a 3rd world country
There is nothing like immersion to generate understanding and appreciation for other places, people, and lifestyles.

eg , February 11, 2020 at 1:25 pm

I had drinks with a US professor from Iowa last week and he expressed how surprised and impressed he was with Canadians' interest in and knowledge of US and world affairs. I gave him a version of Trudeau pere's line -- "when you are the mouse sleeping alongside an elephant, it behooves you to pay attention to every twitch "

LifelongLib , February 11, 2020 at 1:50 pm

Many years ago a public radio station here in Hawaii would broadcast a Canadian radio show "As It Happens". I was struck that the host could (say) mention the name of a politician or government official and just assume that the audience knew who they were. Of course I don't know who the target audience in Canada would have been, but very few broadcasts in the U.S. can count on their audience being that well informed

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Other countries have to pay attention to what goes on in the USA, as the saying goes, when the USA sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. I recall being impressed in Jamaica with how knowledgeable some local people were about world events, people were pretty up-to-date about African politics, US politics, etc.

sporble , February 11, 2020 at 8:46 am

Berlin, Germany – not exactly developing world. Met a German woman while backpacking in SE Asia in '95, came here in '96, been here ever since, got German citizenship (along with US) in 2017.

Berlin is a bit like NYC in that each city is special, and neither is a particularly representative sample of what the rest of the country is like. So with that caveat: The stress level here seems much lower than in the US; there's great public transport, perhaps the world's strongest privacy and employee-rights laws and not much fear of violence (from fellow citizens or police). And there is no reason for anyone to lack health insurance: everything is covered, with extremely small out-of-pocket expenses and health care is excellent.

That said, neoliberalism's ravages can be felt here, too: wages have been stagnant for 20+ yrs and German politicians are obsessed with "das schwarze Null" (literally, "the black zero"; i.e. "being in the black" or "getting out of the red"). Rents have skyrocketed and not nearly enough affordable/govt housing has been built in the past 20+ yrs.

Among the people I know/deal with, precarity seems basically non-existent, perhaps as a result of everyone knowing that govt welfare/etc. – from which people can live without fear of homelessness, losing their health insurance or going hungry – is available as a last resort, though the housing situation is getting quite precarious.

All in all, I'm very happy and grateful to be able to live here. As a freelancer, I don't benefit from it, but I still think vacation policy here is fantastic: all employees get at least 4 wks off in total (everyone I know gets at least 5 wks) + each employee is entitled to take a 3-wk-long vacation.

Misery , February 12, 2020 at 2:32 am

Unfortunately, there is enough misery in Germany to even have a weekly tv-series about it Armut in Deutschland = Poverty in Germany divided in the all too common categories: Old people poverty, Child poverty, Working poor etc.

Another thought, when discussing poverty it is really important to consider that the psychology (seeing that you cannot afford anything) and physiology (not affording good food so you get fat from salt, fat, sugar-based food from Lidl) of poverty is relative: you compare yourself with the people that you are surrounded by and purchasing power is relative to the country where you live.

https://www.zdf.de/doku-wissen/kinderarmut-in-deutschland-126.html

oliverks , February 11, 2020 at 8:50 am

I was in a very non touristy part of Jamaica last year. The roads were pretty poor, with sections washed out. I would say the overall quality of roads was lower than the USA. In fact they were so bad, bit of plastic started falling off my rented car.

However, people were much happier. Just for starters, the rental agency was completely fine with a few bits of plastic that shook loose. No problem!

The food was fantastic, and inexpensive. The market in the local town just sold meat without any refrigeration. This is Jamaica, it was hot. Yet the market smelled fresh, the meat looked amazing, it was clean. Everything just moves so quickly there seems to be no time for stuff to go off. The veggies were amazing and plentiful.

The school children seemed to wear uniforms. They hung out together. They socialized and talked and well seemed like children. Engaged and full of life.

There was a funeral in a building near by us, and they chanted and sung all night until sun up. That meant it was a little loud (as out place didn't have any glass in the windows). It was sometime haunting, sometimes joyful, but people really celebrated the life that had passed.

The younger people, say less than 30, were all very tall. It seems like nutrition and health must have improved a lot over the last 30-40 years, as the old were much shorter.
So I wouldn't call it first world by any stretch, but you could do much much worse in many parts of the USA.

Ignacio , February 11, 2020 at 11:18 am

I witnessed a funeral in Belize and was similar experience. On the other side of the road some guys having fun playing soccer barefooted. Mosquitoes make Belize the hell if not in the shore where wind keeps them apart.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 3:16 pm

I spent a lot of time in Jamaica in the late 80s and early 90s. It was life-changing for me in that I was not a particularly happy person at that time, and it was the first time I had spent time in a so-called 3rd world or developing country. I met people in Jamaica who had nothing compared to most Americans, but they were happier than I was. This even though I was on top of the food chain, being a white American male. It made me rethink a lot of stuff. I agree about the food there, I loved it, and the people too.

There is a dark side to Jamaica however, which you will come upon if you stay there for a longer amount of time. I don't know what part of JA you were in, perhaps a small town or in the countryside? It can be very pleasant in the country, but I spent a lot of time in Kingston, and there is some of the worst poverty in the hemisphere there. Better than Haiti and some other places, but still pretty harsh. Lots of unwed teenage pregnancies (younger teens), with the fathers MIA. A lot of homophobia and macho attitudes. Politics can become violent. There are also some serious environmental issues, and climate change will not be kind to the West Indies.

oliverks , February 11, 2020 at 5:15 pm

I was vacationing and stayed in the blue mountains away from Kingston or tourists. I have heard Kingston can be rough, and crime can be a problem in other big cities. The biggest touristy place we spent any time in was Port Antonio, and I never felt unsafe or threatened there. I didn't even see that many tourists there but we were off season.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 7:23 pm

Port Antonio is very nice, I stayed there for a few days. It's not all built-up like Montego Bay and Negril, etc.

carl , February 11, 2020 at 8:50 am

I have a passing familiarity with Colombia of late. Although the minimum wage is low, employers are required to provide such benefits as vacation, sick leave and payments into the pension system. In addition, workers are eligible to visit special holiday facilities for recreation and relaxation. Unlike in my US city, in which public transportation is infrequent and inconvenient, Medellin has an overhead heavy rail system. There is a public healthcare system, which is good at covering basic needs, and a private one which, while less affordable for ordinary people, is of European standards of quality. Although admittedly the country has been wracked by violence in past years and there's still much inequality, people are happy and friendly.
Note: my Colombian in the family approved this message.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 3:53 pm

I have a friend (not a wealthy person by any means) who lives in Lima Peru with his Peruvian wife and their young daughter, and he loves it there.

carl , February 11, 2020 at 6:08 pm

Peru is an amazing country: beautiful scenery, amazing food, inexpensive, and nice people. I sprained my ankle last year in Lima and deliberately found the most expensive clinic in Lima to treat it. English-speaking doctor, full x-rays, medication and foot bandage put on by the doctor herself. Total: $200 US.
Pro tip: get your prescription glasses in Arrequipa. There's at least 500 optical stores in the historic center. Super cheap.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 7:25 pm

I have another friend who relocated to Ecuador along with his girlfriend. He's a retired optometrist and gives away hundreds of reading glasses to the locals, who much appreciate them.

tegnost , February 11, 2020 at 8:50 am

Regarding highway infra, in the PNW at least any new improved road gets tolled so that it is actually made for the people who can pay the tolls. I'm certain this makes zero tax amazon happy
Oh Look!
https://thetollroads.com/help/faq/469

two tiered society Interstates limited to self driving delivery/important people in 3 2

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 3:51 pm

The interstate toll lanes on I-405 are terribly undemocratic. Regular working commuters who can't afford the toll passes are forced into three over-crowded lanes, while in the two left toll lanes the BMW & Lexus drivers zip on by. I'm guessing a bunch of the wealthy tech people east of Lake Washington used their clout to get that accomplished.

Ford Prefect , February 11, 2020 at 8:58 am

I spent some time in Costa Rica. Everybody seemed quite happy. The impression that I had was its government actually liked its people and was not afraid of them. The people seemed to return the sentiment.

There may be a lesson in that for the US.

carl , February 11, 2020 at 9:58 am

Costa Rica has the highest level of education and lowest birthrate in Central America; no standing military since 1948. Not a cheap country to live in anymore, compared to the rest of Central and South America, and rampant theft problems (probably because of very light penalties for such), but on the whole, you could do a lot worse.

Colonel Smithers , February 11, 2020 at 9:42 am

Mauritius, whence my parents came, is worth considering. The standard of living is good for most people, especially if qualified or with particular manual skills. The average salary is nearing USD12k pa.

Public services are well funded by the government and free at the point of delivery.

It's interesting to observe how many migrants who are not francophone and do not specialise in the island's four pillars, financial services, textiles / light manufacturing, tourism and agriculture (including power generation by sugar mills) are now making the island their home, not just for a secondment of some years. I have come across Italian jockeys and tilers, doctors and teachers, IT specialists, hotel managers and other staff from around the world.

There's a good mix of accommodation. One need not live in a gated community. These were in the main designed to part South Africans and even French from their money, a ploy that appears to be working such is the amount of construction that would not look out of place in the south of France or US sun belt. The island is safe.

Myjobs.mu lists vacancies.

The Rev Kev has visited the island and can provide further insight.

oliverks , February 11, 2020 at 10:46 am

Myjobs.mu doesn't seem to be working for me. Are you sure that's the correct address

Oliver

Colonel Smithers , February 11, 2020 at 11:34 am

Thank you, Oliver.

My mistake. It's https://www.myjob.mu/ .

Colonel Smithers , February 11, 2020 at 12:41 pm

Thank you, Oliver.

It's myjob.mu. My mistake earlier.

The Rev Kev , February 12, 2020 at 2:35 am

Thank you for the shout out Colonel. I must admit that I visited Mauritius during my salad years some forty years ago so I will try to recreate my impressions from that distant era. After spending several weeks in the waning apartheid days of South Africa, I found Mauritius exotic to say the least. Whereas the cultural boundaries of SA were fairly firm, I found Mauritius to have a kaleidoscope of different cultural elements such as English, French, Indian and Creole and you would never know what part you would encounter next. The parts I saw in my brief time were of great beauty and I remember thinking that it would take months to explore all the different parts there.

Colonel Smithers , February 12, 2020 at 6:37 am

Thank you, Kev.

You should return and compare how things have changed. Also, please visit Rodrigues, the one of the world's least known islands and a delight.

The island really took off in the 1980s, once the generation that led the island to independence was turfed out in a landslide and the IMF bitter medicine of 1979 had been overcome.

The island has become more cosmopolitan since. One example is the 10K plus South Africans on the island. Afrikaans is often spoken on the west coast.

Unfortunately, the environmental decay is also plain for all to see.

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 11:58 am

Tho easily discernable, I hesitate a bit to name what has become the truest home I've known, as I can recall what Prague was like 20 years ago compared to the mini-Paris it became after tourists got ahold of it (major crime increase, higher costs of living, general succumbing to the european monoculture, as has happened throughout europe).

In any event, life is better (to my taste) outside NATO-aligned countries & the Schengen zone. Glad that the military jets I hear and see are Russian, as is the base. I was stunned when first arriving to see children happy, safe, walking the streets of their city without a need for adult accompaniment. In fact, the children and elderly people here restore my faith in humanity. When the initial newness wears off after a year or so, it just gets better in terms of comprehending the culture and enjoying the people, along with seeing the problems more clearly. I lived for extended periods in Germany, Portugal, Denmark too, enjoyed each place (far and away higher quality of genuine living than in the US), but indeed there is a certain pretension to false happiness there, no need for that here, as the wheels came off long ago, thus humor, family, friendship and other pillars for endurance are stronger, softer, more genuine.

On occasion, I've done some teaching here (ain't never been no trust-fund traveler, pshaw!), and students (good Syrians and Iranians in the mix with the sweet locals) are shocked when I answer their questions honestly about how America treats its elderly, how much education costs, gun violence, police brutality, the general state of the family, etc.

There is a difficulty in getting paid fairly, tho that's largely nothing new comparatively. One must write or edit an article or 2 each month for a company based outside the local economy if one hopes to sustain oneself; I've been fortunate in this regard. An average person here relies on their family; all work together to survive. Conditions can be spartan (tho again, compared to what?), but the things that make one endure and appreciate the substance of life are in no short supply.

And the food is off the charts – affordable and healthy, as it should be everywhere.

Literature and traditional music are living currency here, as is respect in general. May it always be so.

deplorado , February 11, 2020 at 2:47 pm

Armenia?

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 5:06 pm

Chishte (correct).

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 3:56 pm

I'm curious as to your feelings about Portugal, as we have considered it as a place to live. I've had a lot of friends visit, but don't know anyone who has lived there for an extended period.

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 5:49 pm

My feelings of profound love for Portugal and the Portuguese are of course difficult to summarize, but suffice to say I preferred it to Germany or Denmark, tho it didn't quite suit me as well as Armenia does. The primary ways I relate to a country initially are through its literary and musical traditions, and the Portuguese soul's expressions are deeply beautiful, poetic, and retained.

I spent two years there, in Sintra and in Porto. Sintra is paradisiacal, Porto a hidden gem becoming increasingly well-known. Drawbacks for me were the same as in all Europe: a political bent toward following their NATO masters/western propaganda/Hollywood, and, on the street level, more crime (tho not too bad) and agressive drug dealers, things you just don't see in Yerevan (and used to not see in Prague). But on the whole, many friends became like family there, it's less expensive than the mainstream hubs of Europe, and the Moorish impact, coupled with modern migration from north Africa, results in a vivacity and a fluid, positive moroseness I'd not experienced before. The microclimates are dynamically diverse and well worth experiencing. Certain flowers and mountain mists never evaporate from the mind.

Plenty of retirees from wealthier countries set themselves up there quite comfortably, but those people are rarely part of my experience.

Ignacio , February 12, 2020 at 5:25 am

Same feelings here! When you compare Portuguese and Spanish the biggest difference you find, apart from language is in politeness.

hoki haya , February 12, 2020 at 6:16 am

Having a decent grasp of Spanish, I was surprised it lent itself to a less intuitive grasp of Portuguese than I imagined it would. Both languages are beautiful, with Portuguese being softer in an expressively melodic way.

And yes, I agree, the politeness, dignity, ease-in-the-body qualities found in people there is, in my experience, second only to the grace that operates as the norm for conduct here in Armenia. Many similarities between the two – the unbreakable importance of the family, the style and role of humor, the rightful place literature and music inhabit in one's soul and disposition, etc. My Portuguese friends felt at home here, as if meeting heretofore unknown cousins for the first time.

Nothing against Spain, tho – it was my first love and destination. Catalonia. But yes, in general, interactions were more formal and businesslike there, less relaxed than when inside the generous, creative calm (including explosive boisterousness!) of Portuguese.

carl , February 11, 2020 at 6:11 pm

We visited the southern coast of Portugal last year to explore the idea of moving there. It was not a success: too many Brit expats, more expensive than we'd been told, and the real estate market is completely crazy. The country itself merits a look.

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Indeed, the Alentejo has become overblown, party central, prime strips for the elite, etc. If one can brave the less glamorous climes, such as Sintra's winters of cold rain and bonechilling fog, there are delicacies to be enjoyed at half the cost, in the north as well. I look forward to returning many times.

I'm recalling Jerez, now, up-north mountain-land with its own unique mythology, where local drivers (on fine if narrow roads) have more frequent trouble encountering a bull or flocks upon flocks of chickens than oncoming automotive traffic. I think one bull drove us backward for half a kilometer.

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 7:10 pm

*geres, not jerez, tho they sound nearly the same.

Calvin , February 11, 2020 at 1:10 pm

"They hate us for our freedoms" ; to be strip searched at the airport, toasted with the skin cancer X-ray machine, have our devices downloaded, license plates scanned on the way home, the data sold to an advertiser, to have to pay mandatory fraudulent medical "insurance," borrow money at 29% to pay for medical needs, lose our homes to other scams, have to compete in the job market with imported peons, that we subsidize with tax dollars, then see over half of our tax dollars go to losing wars and to subsidize billion dollar corporations and then be told it's to protect us against the "terrorists".

Still a pretty good country and the only one we have, so it's worth fighting for.

Expat2Uruguay , February 11, 2020 at 1:33 pm

I have lived in Uruguay for 4 years now. The things that are much better here than in California are public transportation, internet service, culture, and small business penetration. I can walk a half a block to a small store that's open several hours a day. I can walk 4 blocks to a store that's open 12 hours a day. I can walk ten blocks to a full-on mall with a large grocery store. There's also one or more bakeries, butchers, vegetable sellers, hardware stores, barbers/hair stylists, and restaurants galore within a quarter-mile radius. And I live in a quiet neighborhood! Oh, there are also three fantastic beaches within a 20 minute walk of my house. I love my location!

Society here is very laid-back, parents are indulgent of their children and it is legal to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana in the public places and streets, But don't drink and drive, there is no legal limit, aka zero tolerance. Yet culture is vibrant here. There's an excellent music scene with lots of low-cost or free live music. Jazz, blues, and electronica are surprisingly popular. There are people who play music on the bus for donations, and not just guitar players, but also saxophone players, operatic singers, rappers, violinists, and accordion players. There are people that meet weekly in the downtown area to dance tango on the sidewalk. There are almost weekly practices all over the city of Candombe, which involves large groups of synchronized dancers and drummers parading through the streets for an hour or two. There are so many beautiful parks large and small all over the city where lovers kiss, families play and groups of friends drink mate or beer and often smoke marijuana. There are 50 museums in Montevideo, and at least 35 of them are free. The ones that cost money are less than $10 and usually include a tour. There are ballets, symphonies and lots of theaters, all of which are very inexpensive. They love sports here and are quite interested in maintaining physical fitness. Lots of soccer balls getting kicked, volleyball games on the beach and bicyclist and runners on the Rambla. The Rambla! It's a UNESCO world heritage site that goes for 20 miles along the beach, a wide paved Boardwalk that is very popular when the weather is nice, especially during sunsets. Full disclosure, the beach is for a river, a really huge river – You can't even see the other side. On the other side of the river is Buenos Aires, just in case you get a hankering for a big city. Or you could travel a few hours to Punta Del Este, playground of the Rich and Famous.

But Uruguay is relatively expensive, the most expensive country in South America. This is not a place where you're going to come and live like a king among the peasants. The prices in restaurants and grocery stores are similar to the prices I paid in Sacramento, California. But the wages here are much less. So this is a good place if you can get your income from somewhere else As a retired person or a remote teleworker. But, oddly, even though the locals here struggle with the difference between wages and prices, it's quite common for them to have second houses along the coast that they go to during their frequent vacations. It's also typical to employ a house cleaner.

Uruguay is a small country, with three million people and half of them live in the capital city of Montevideo. Because of this, nearly everyone here knows everyone else. Uruguay is the safest country in South America with the largest middle class and least income inequality, along with being the most stable economically and politically. People here enjoy discussing politics, and voting in elections is mandatory. But what about the downsides? There are some. First off, you're not going to be able to order a bunch of stuff on Amazon. In fact, you're going to have to give up on finding many of the spices and foods and little trinkets that you're used to acquiring in the US. Consumers beware! Also, flights back to the US or destinations outside of South America are very expensive. And, because it's so laid back, it's difficult to find good workers on household projects or to get good service in a restaurant or at a public counter. You just have to be really patient. Finally, the sidewalks are a mess! Since each resident is responsible for the sidewalk in front of their own house or business, sometimes they can get be a bit dangerous if you don't watch your step. You wouldn't want to scoot around on one of those elderly mobility scooters here! And then there's the dog poop and the trash Oh, well, no place is perfect!

I'm sorry, this is so long, I usually don't talk much about my life here, especially on Facebook, because I don't want to cause resentment and look like I'm bragging, but today I'm making an exception, obviously.
(By the way, I'm happy to host visitors, In fact, I let couchsurfers stay in my home for free.)

Expat2Uruguay , February 11, 2020 at 1:39 pm

Wow, apparently I spent two hours writing that!

EMtz , February 11, 2020 at 2:10 pm

Thank you!

Lorenzo , February 11, 2020 at 5:29 pm

thank you. I visited for vacations once as a teen, I hope I can spend more time there in the future. All the best from Buenos Aires :)

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 7:04 pm

Thank you Very much for taking time to share this detailed, valuable account, and all respect to your journey.

EMtz , February 11, 2020 at 2:03 pm

Central México. Year 4. In spite of the crime I like it here and would not go back to the US. The culture is rich and deep, and the aesthetic is quite refined. The food! The amazing natural beauty. And the colors! And the biodiversity! There is a balanced perspective on life, not the despair or rage that increasingly underly US culture. I live simply and modestly, and find my Social Security can almost pay all of my monthly expenses. My stress levels have dropped tremendously and my BP is at levels I haven't seen in 40 years. Quite honestly, I'm ramping up my Spanish so I can pass my citizenship test and may renounce my US citizenship because I am fed up with having my hard earned $$ underwrite corporate welfare and killing people. I've embraced México as my home and am grateful to have been welcomed in return. Coming here is far and away one of the best things I've ever done.

PuntaPete , February 11, 2020 at 2:49 pm

After his famous rant about people coming to the U.S. from "shit-hole" countries in Africa and other developing countries, Trump asked why more people from, say Norway, were not emigrating to the U.S. I may have missed it, but I don't remember any politician or anyone with a public voice telling him, "Look, Mr. President, compared to the other two dozen or so advanced industrial countries the United States is a shit-hole country".

Acacia , February 11, 2020 at 5:36 pm

As I started reading this article, Trump's comment applied to the US was my first thought.

deplorado , February 11, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Bulgaria, observations from one of the two big cities on the Black Sea coast:
– excellent bus service across the city, from airport to industrial zone; articulated airconditioned busses, everyone uses them, young people read books while riding, space for mothers to latch strollers, doors are wide and steps low so mothers in fact prefer the bus to using personal vehicle
– municipal children's kitchen: delivers free to a local distribution booth 2 meals 5 times a week at very low cost by local standards, or free for families with large number of children 1-3yrs. The meals are home-cooked level, tasty and healthy, delivered in your own glassware (like used pickle jars for example – simple!) – so no throwaway plastic. Ive tried private kitchens, quality was lower and cost 2-3 times higher
– a very large city park along the beach starting just off downtown – one of the best things in the whole country actually: it's everyone's family playground – old and young, there is a new public pool, carnival booths, restaurants, fish stands, icecream stands, open air theater, public hall overlooking the beach, restaurant and club on the beach – for the wide public, not exclusive, in the evening young and old dress up and take walks leasurely and just talk and hang out
– the city is dense and everything is walking distance, within a 20 min walk you will pass by every service that a life needs, from a hospital to police to stadium and trainstation and cobler, not to mention stores and restaurants

Downsides:
– like Uruguay and other similarly positioned countries, incomes of working people are generally low for the local living costs. However most people own a home (I think ~80% or even more) – and with low birthrates many inherit more than one funcitonal home – so that helps a lot. For someone on a US SS check, average I think ~$1300 a month, is plenty for TWO. Local professionals earning the equivalent of $40-50k a year, especially a 2 such income households, live a higher and less stressful standard of living than any tech professional I know in coastal US (not to mention 4 weeks mandatory paid time off).

– lots of professionals – doctors particularly – leave for Western EU countries where they earn more, particularly specialists; for GP's though, staying can be much better as they still make a decent living and only refer people for anything more serious than a cold

In general, I think Bulgaria is good for retired expats if you pick a good spot like the city I described, unless you have a serious health issue which requires specialists, and those may not be available in Bulgaria. But even for things like stents, even cardiac surgery, MRI scans, those are done now and by doctors who specialized or were educated in the UK, Germany or the like – so the issue is more general infrastructure and availability, rather than quality (cost is a fraction of US costs, even paying out of pocket)

hoki haya , February 11, 2020 at 7:24 pm

Appreciate this account. The 'bus-culture' sounds similar to Yerevan's; it makes public transport truly a pleasurable part of one's day (tho we do have the dreaded, indefatigable marshrutkas – are they used in Bulgaria?).

The municipal children's kitchen! I wonder why there isn't something comparable here, tho I've seen scant evidence of anyone going hungry. One always shares with one's neighbors: part of the built-in, practiced and practical ethic.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 3:35 pm

I was pretty impressed with the infrastructure I saw in China 20 years ago. Brand-new airports and train stations, good new highways mostly, although I saw some failed projects on the island of Hainan, where the roads were like a bad roller coaster, it seemed like a proper bed was not laid down before paving. (I was told that the guys who built those roads had skimmed off the highway budget to line their own pockets, and were later shot for doing so.)

Malaysia looked good too when we were there for 10 days, and inexpensive. Most Malaysians speak English which is nice for visitors, and they have one of the best retirement visa progams.

Thailand's infrastructure is getting better all the time, we were there for more of 2012, and the way you could cheaply get around Bangkok amazed me. A city of 11,000,000 people, but most of the public transport was very well integrated – airports, buses, elevated rail and subways all connect with each other.

What struck me about most of the "developing" nations I've visited was that the quality of life seemed higher than the US, as far as access to good food, general happiness of the people, and access to decent health care, especially in Malaysia and Thailand. I saw some eye specialists in Thailand and was very impressed with them. We ate from street vendors all the time in Thailand and were never sick from the food, which was remarkably fresh. The air pollution in Chiang Mai and Bangkok is a problem however.

We are seriously considering leaving the USA should things go badly in the upcoming election, we're considering Mexico, Ecuador etc and also SE Asia, although the latter is awfully far from friends and family.

ObjectiveFunction , February 11, 2020 at 3:55 pm

Very interesting topic, but it's also very large so the below comments are brief and therefore overgeneralized, apols in advance. My own area is Southeast Asia, where I've lived for much of the last 30 years, but I get the sense that the below obtains in much of the world .

1. (Caucasian) expats remain a privileged class, even in Singapore which is now significantly more advanced than the US across the board, economically and socially. On the other hand, you're a guest in all these countries, there on sufferance. Any rights of property or residency you may enjoy largely come via your employer/business, or from a local spouse. While this may seem trite, it's important: an expat life just isn't that of the locals, even Westernized local elites, and even when you're married in and living simply as some retirees do.

2. ASEAN countries are all *very* unequal societies by Western standards/ideals. Even Singapore, which provides excellent public services to all citizens, also relies heavily on a low cost migrant labor force (on weekends you see Tamil laborers in the parks flirting with Filipina housemaids). These migrants make far better money than at home and thus remain docile, but also have no path at all to residency status unless they can marry in. Foreign helpers are also becoming common in Thailand.

3. In the other countries, as a local friend put it, 'either you have servants (5 – 15%) or you are one (the rest)'. Having a maid/cook and in trafficky places a driver/errand boy gives a family a fundamentally different daily life not comparable to the modern West. Labor laws are rarely enforced on locals (expats need to take care, you are sheep for shearing)

4. Most non-Western societies assume that successful individuals in all classes subsidize their less successful relatives, via remittance or inheritance. State safety nets consist of primary education and basic health care, which are basically free but very patchy in covering special needs (that's cash).

5. As in the West, a stable income is as or more important than a high income; it's hard to put down roots or plan for the future without that. In most of ASEAN, c.USD 3500 a month still buys a comfortable life for a family: a townhouse with aircon, a number of motorbikes and many of the same Chinese consumer gadgets Americans have, as well as the aforementioned domestic servants. But, see next .

6. To me, social mobility appears quite low. It's hard for the broad peasant/servant class to ascend to the middle class, even via police or military. Foreign workers support their extended families and build a house in their home village; they rarely start their own businesses with savings.
Again, overgeneralizing but it seems most of the ASEAN 'middle class' (the 5-15% PMC) are (grand)children of:
(a) the officials who took over from the colonialists, or (b) mercantile families, predominantly ethnic Chinese.
Thus, that 10% also draws on some kind of inherited income / family support on top of their salaries to maintain their lifestyles, cover emergencies and ensure their own kids can obtain the needed credentials to keep themselves in the PMC.

Anyway, I hope this is useful context for this rich topic. Again, a broad brush, YMMV.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 4:27 pm

In most of ASEAN, c.USD 3500 a month still buys a comfortable life for a family

Very comfortable, I'm sure. $42k a year is more that millions of Americans earn. Singapore is probably the most expensive SE Asian country.

What struck me about living and travelling in SE Asia was realizing how Americans are being ripped off in comparison to many other parts of the world. In Chiang Mai, we were paying $200 a month for a clean studio apartment with no real kitchen (rent included decent internet and all utilities), $20 a month for cell phone service, and about $20 a day on eating out (for two people). Transportation was also inexpensive. After seven months of living so cheaply, when we came back to the US it felt like we were hemorrhaging money as soon as we hit the airport.

oliverks , February 11, 2020 at 5:34 pm

My wife is refusing to buy anything right now. We got back from staying in Europe and she is shocked at how expensive everything is here. For us it started at the Hilton in the airport as we had a very early departure time to flyout. It was a splash of cold water.

lordkoos , February 11, 2020 at 7:19 pm

Yep. I have a musician friend who did an artist-in-residence gig for 6 months in Germany with his wife & two kids joining him. He said the same thing (they live in NYC). He also said not only were groceries cheaper, they were better quality as well.

Anon1 , February 11, 2020 at 4:32 pm

The article is about developing countries and France is developed, not developing. Weather has huge impact on roads and comparing roads in south of France to Michigan is not a fair comparison. I have driven through France extensively and the roads are good but parts of the US and Canada has much better roads. I would say Arizona or Utah has waaaaaay better roads than any part of France, especially the north.

Harbottle Grimstone , February 11, 2020 at 4:43 pm

Operant word: "developing". AKA a region experiencing the upswing. Shiny new industries, new infrastructure, new institutions. Growth. All nations have a finite socio-political lifespan before re-configuration; the US is no exception. Idealism's parametric in America-2020 is at a nadir compared to the fire-eyed certainty of magistrates in Colonial America-1620. The waterwheel of fortune is philosophy's consolation: rise-up on its spokes if you like but do not complain when you plunge back down into the depths. The tragedy is also the hope: bad times always pass, as do the good times. Rinse-repeat-return to the wilderness. -- Answering the question, Ahmedabad, Gujurat has great food but prohibits alcohol.

Edward , February 11, 2020 at 6:26 pm

This country has spent its productive energy producing MBA's who specialize in sucking money from people. It has a political system based on bribery and is no longer a "nation of laws". Given the non-response to the 2008 crash, the surprise may be it is not in worse shape.

Costa Rica is the one country in South/Central America that was spared CIA "help", presumably because they don't have a military. This is what South America would look like if the U.S. left them alone.

The U.S. probably has the solutions to its problems, but people with solutions, such as college professors, are excluded from government decision making. In my experience, average people tend to be smarter then the geniuses on the boob tube and in Washington.

I don't know what the big problem is with public colleges. You can get a good education at a public college.

Another Anon , February 11, 2020 at 7:29 pm

Is there anyone here who has anything to say about living in Chile ? I visited Chile back in 2007 and enjoyed myself. I spent most of my time in Santiago
and was impressed by it being clean, a nice subway
and interesting architecture.

Norbert Wiener , February 11, 2020 at 9:26 pm

Great thread.

I am three years into my escape from the US. 50 countries of wandering in three years. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine why I would go back to the open-air prison of the US.

Quality of life in places as diverse as Plovdiv, Bulgaria; Penang, Malaysia; Brno, Czechia; Kanazawa, Japan; Kunming, China; are literally off the charts for half the cost.

The other thing I'd add: the wife and I made $480k per year in our last few years. A decent middle-class income in Manhattan.

After taxes and various contributions to Fed-pumped Ponzis and 'healthcare' our net take home was around $240k per year.

All so we could be good goys and pay another 5k a month for a shitty 1-bedroom condo with hollow doors and ride a piss-smelling subway up to offices we sat in meetings for 6 of our 10 daily hours and then fake pointless outrage over whatever new political offense the dear leaders had perpetrated over $17 cocktails and then come home and fall asleep to Netflix and sleeping pills.

Outside the US, we've maxed our income to 220k total (all untaxed), so we're only down 20k or so from our Manhattan highs. And we can do this from anywhere we have an internet connection. We interact with locals. We eat staggeringly good food. When we get bored we hop a plane and fly somewhere new.

I'm 40. Maybe at 50 this will all grow tiring, but I doubt it.

oliverks , February 12, 2020 at 2:31 am

I assume Norbert Wiener is your "nom de plume" or are you related to the Norbert Wiener?

This is what we are finding. You can go to almost anywhere out of America and live for much less with much better food, life style, and people seem much better adjusted. Hell even London seems cheap in many ways when you consider the quality of what you are getting.

[Feb 05, 2020] Syrian Army Progress Leads To New Scuffle Between Turkey And Russia

Feb 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

GMJ , Feb 3 2020 19:40 utc | 21

Thank you for another good article. What strikes me is that so many automatically go to, or refer to, Mr Putin as the voice of reason these days and not Washington DC or any NATO country. I never thought that I will live to see the US become less trusted than our old enemy, the commies. BUT, as I say in my books, the Russia of today is not the USSR at all. Anyway, for those interested in interesting military history, I recently discovered this myself, see https://www.georgemjames.com/blog/the-fuhrers-commando-order-origins. I wanted to post on the open thread but got busy and forgot. GMJ.

[Feb 02, 2020] Out of sync with the world, the US has returned to the ashes and lawlessness of 1945.

Feb 02, 2020 | sputniknews.com

US Vice President Mike Pence used his speech at the Holocaust memorial last week to bang a war drum at Iran. It revealed a deplorable lack of dignity and understanding of the event, despite Pence's efforts to appear solemn. But not only that. It showed too how out of touch the United States – at least its political leadership – is with the rest of the world and a growing collective concern among others to ensure international peace.

Maybe that's why Britain's Prince Charles appeared to snub Pence, declining to shake his hand while attending the commemoration of the Holocaust and 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Charles warmly greeted other dignitaries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and France's Emmanuel Macron. It was curious how he blanked Pence.

But there again, maybe not that curious. Pence and the Trump administration seem to be hellbent on starting a war with Iran. A war that would engulf the entire Middle East and possibly ignite a world conflagration.

Washington's wanton threats of violence against Iran and its recent assassination of one of Iran's top military leaders stands as a shocking repudiation of international law and the UN Charter. It's the kind of conduct more akin to an organized crime syndicate rather than a supposedly democratic state.

The UN Charter was created in 1945 in the aftermath of the Second World War precisely to prevent repetition of the worst conflagration in history and all its barbaric crimes, including the Nazi Holocaust. Over 5o million people died in that war, and nearly half of them belonged to the Soviet Union.

The prevention of war is surely the most onerous responsibility of the UN Security Council. Yet the United States is the one power that routinely ignores international law and the UN Charter to unilaterally launch wars or military interventions. Washington's threats against Iran are, unfortunately, nothing new. This is standard American practice.

Britain's Prince Charles speaks to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during the World Holocaust Forum © REUTERS / RONEN ZVULUN Snub or No Snub? Netizens Laugh Off Prince Charles' Explanation After Not Shaking Hands With Mike Pence When world leaders addressed the Holocaust memorial held in Israel last Wednesday it was obvious – albeit implicitly – from their words that the US has become an isolated rogue state owing to its inveterate belligerence.

Putin, Macron, Prince Charles and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier all invoked the need for collective commitment to international law and peace. They implied that such a commitment was the best way to honour those who were killed in the Holocaust and the Second World War; the surest way to prevent the barbarity of fascist ideology and persecution ever to be repeated.

Those speakers one after another denounced the ideology of demonizing others which fuels hatred and wars. How pertinent is that to the way Washington routinely demonizes other nations and foreign leaders?

In sharp contrast, when the American vice president made his address, his apparent solemnity was contradicted by a blood-curdling call to arms against Iran , which he accused of being the "leading state purveyor of anti-semitism". Pence urged the whole world "to stand strong against the Islamic Republic of Iran", spoken as if he was spitting out the words like venom.

There is little doubt that Pence was formulating a rationale for military confrontation with Iran. That has been the consistent policy of the Trump administration over the past three years.

It was no surprise that Pence's speech was in sync with the usual bellicose rhetoric from Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu towards Iran. But what was arresting was just how out of sync Pence and the Trump administration are with the rest the world.

US Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the fifth World Holocaust Forum, 23 January 2020. © Sputnik / Alexey Nikolsky World War II for Dummies? US Vice President Hails Liberators of Auschwitz Death Camp, 'Forgets' to Name Them It was an odious spectacle to see Pence don a somber face as he talked about the victims of the Holocaust , while his own state wages war against any foreign nation whenever and wherever Washington deems. At an event that was supposed to reflect on the horror and evil of war, Pence showed he had no understanding or self-awareness.

That's what is perplexing about many American politicians. They seem ignorant of history (Pence gave no acknowledgement to the Soviet soldiers who liberated Auschwitz and other death camps); they are consumed by self-righteousness and arrogance like a puritan preacher without an ounce of humanity.

Anyone who reflects on the horror of war would surely be advocating the respect of and adherence to international law, commitment to peace, and the earnest pursuit of dialogue and partnership among nations.

Russia's Putin has repeatedly called for the members of the UN Security Council to urgently get together in order to guarantee a multilateral commitment to peace. Putin has also repeatedly appealed to the United States to get serious about negotiating renewed arms control treaties. Washington has ignored those latter calls.

Participants in the Jewish event of Holocaust remembrance walk in the former Nazi German World War II death camp of Auschwitz shortly before the start of the annual March of the Living in which young Jews from around the world walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau in memory of the 6 million Holocaust victims, in Oswiecim, Poland, Thursday, May 2, 2019 © AP Photo / Czarek Sokolowski If One's Outraged by Words About Polish Anti-Semitism, One Should Delve Into History – Ex-Polish MP The American national myth, evolved over recent decades since 1945, views itself as "exceptional" from all other nations. That translates as the US presuming to be "superior" and "above the law that others are bound by".

Mike Pence's menacing words and attitude at the Holocaust memorial showed a disturbing and pernicious disconnect with the need for preventing war and genocide. It was a disgraceful dishonouring of victims.

Out of sync with the world, the US has returned to the ashes and lawlessness of 1945.

[Jan 21, 2020] Iran Counters EU Threat Of Snapback Sanctions

Jan 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU1 , Jan 20 2020 19:06 utc | 3

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to destroy the nuclear agreement with Iran. He has threatened the EU-3 poodles in Germany, Britain and France with a 25% tariff on their car exports to the U.S. unless they end their role in the JCPOA deal.

In their usual gutlessness the Europeans gave in to the blackmail. They triggered the Dispute Resolution Mechanism of the deal. The mechanism foresees two 15 day periods of negotiations and a five day decision period after which any of the involved countries can escalate the issues to the UN Security Council. The reference to the UNSC would then lead to an automatic reactivation or "snapback" of those UN sanction against Iran that existed before the nuclear deal was signed.

Iran is now countering the European move. Its Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that Iran may leave the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if any of the European countries escalates the issue to the UNSC:

Zarif said that Iran is following up the late decision by European states to trigger the Dispute Resolution Mechanism in the context of the JCPOA, adding that Tehran officially started the discussion on the mechanism on May 8, 2018 when the US withdrew from the deal.

He underlined that Iran sent three letters dated May 10, August 26 and November 2018 to the then EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, announcing in the latter that Iran had officially triggered and ended the dispute resolution mechanism and thus would begin reducing its commitments to the JCPOA.

However, Iran gave a seven-month opportunity to the European Union before it began reducing its commitments in May 8, 2019 which had operational effects two months later, according to Zarif.

Iran's top diplomat said that the country's five steps in compliance reduction would have no similar follow-ups, but Europeans' measure to refer the case to the United Nations Security Council may be followed by Tehran's decision to leave NPT as stated in President Hassan Rouhani's May 2018 letter to other parties to the deal.

He stressed that all the steps are reversible if the European parties to the JCPOA restore their obligations under the deal.

The Europeans certainly do not want Iran to leave the NPT. But as they are cowards and likely to continue to submit themselves to Trump's blackmail that is what they will end up with. Britain is the most likely country to move the issue to the UNSC as it is in urgent need of a trade deal with the U.S. after leaving the EU. Cooke has piece at Strategic Culture on Wurmser who may be the strategist behind Trump admin moves on Iran. Adds to this piece by b.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/01/20/many-matryoska-dolls-america-way-imagining-iran/
"Well (big surprise), Wurmser has now been at work as the author of how to 'implode' and destroy Iran. And his insight? "A targeted strike on someone like Soleimani"; split the Iranian leadership into warring factions; cut an open wound into the flesh of Iran's domestic legitimacy; put a finger into that open wound, and twist it; disrupt – and pretend that the U.S. sides with the Iranian people, against its government."

Overall, the strategy looks to be aimed at weakening and disrupting Iran and removing its allies in the region from the game before US strikes begin.

The downing of the Uki plane and Trump Pompeo immediately saying they were with the Iranian people would fit very well into this strategy though it is not mentioned by Crooke.


Peter AU1 , Jan 20 2020 19:14 utc | 4

And in Syria, US territory is becoming more defined. US intends to keep control of both Dier Ezzor and Hasakah oilfields along the Iraq border. Iraq Kurdistan is a secure base for the US and as well as being on Iran's border gives access through Hasakah province to the Syrian oilfields.
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/us-forces-block-syrian-russian-troops-from-access-to-key-highway-photos/
vk , Jan 20 2020 19:17 utc | 5
The Europeans certainly do not want Iran to leave the NPT. But as they are cowards and likely to continue to submit themselves to Trump's blackmail that is what they will end up with. Britain is the most likely country to move the issue to the UNSC as it is in urgent need of a trade deal with the U.S. after leaving the EU.

We shouldn't humanize entire nations when analyzing geopolitics.

The Europeans are simply aware of the objective fact they are de facto occupied countries thanks to the many de facto American bases scattered around Western and Central Europe (Germany being the country with the most American bases in the world). They obey the USA for the simple fact they are occupied by the USA.

That's why some neocarolingians/European nationalists mainly from Germany, France and the Benelux (e.g. Macron, Juncker) avidly defend the creation of an European Army. You don't need to be a geopolitics genius to infer the grave consequences such move would have to the European peoples' welfare.

As long as NATO exists, Western Europe will remain firmly in American hands.

Besides, there's also the ideological factor.

Many Europeans still see today the USA as their "most illustrious child", their continuation as the Western Civilization's center. New York is the new Paris+London. They see themselves as the dwarf countries they really are and rationalize that, ultimately, it is better to live under the hegemony of another Western nation than under the hegemony of the "yellows" (i.e. Chinese) or the "slavics" (i.e. Russia). They really see themselves as a true North Atlantic family, which share the same race and the same cultural values.

These Atlanticists are specially numerous in the UK, which is not surprising, given its geographic location and the fact that it was indeed the country that founded the USA.

Walter , Jan 20 2020 19:17 utc | 6
Of course Iran and what happens in Iraq are joined at the hip...

Professor Maranadi>

"Seyed Mohammad Marandi
@s_m_marandi
·
10m
Many believe an economic crisis lies ahead of the US & the timing of the crash will determine the fate of Trump's re-election bid. However, another threat looms. If the US fails to swiftly comply with Iraqi demands to end the occupation, the resistance will become very violent."

and in Germany?

USA warnen: "Unmittelbar bevorstehender Angriff auf US-Militärs in Deutschland". RT/D

"Pulling back" may suit the Clowns, but agreement requires more than that if there's to be no child.

The Clowns are not contract capable. The only "deal" is for the imperial forces to leave the ME... the only deal is action....Of one sort or another. The clowns imagine a glorious victory over smoking ruins.

Careful what ya' wish fer, fellas...

erik , Jan 20 2020 19:21 utc | 7
Fatwa or not, Iran must have the bomb, for the same reason NoKo had to build it. It's the only way to lance the boil and move on from under the incessant threats from the United States. We won't let up, even if it takes 100 years, and they have to know this. They do have the engineering know how to do it; now they must, but they will have to be discrete and stockpile enough 90% U235, then fiddle around with the details involved in assembling a staged device with enough yield so it's understood by all. I expect this whole process will now move forward.
bjd , Jan 20 2020 19:21 utc | 8
Iran should finally make haste with:
a. developing nukes
b. the asymmetric warfare as we move into election season


tucenz , Jan 20 2020 19:25 utc | 9
So, what does Iran actually gain by leaving the NPT?
Guy THORNTON , Jan 20 2020 19:28 utc | 10
One is reminded of Austria-Hungary's ultimatum to Serbia in 1914: "As the German ambassador to Vienna reported to his government on July 14, the [note] to Serbia is being composed so that the possibility of its being accepted is practically excluded." As Churchill wrote at the time: "it seemed absolutely impossible that any State in the world could accept it, or that any acceptance, however abject, would satisfy the aggressor."

Uncle Sam is fooling nobody.

SteveK9 , Jan 20 2020 19:31 utc | 11
Many people refer to the European countries as 'occupied' (vk) and that is the reason they submit to American policy. I don't believe that is the case. The number of troops is far too small to 'occupy' a country that was resisting an occupation. Those troops were there as a 'trigger' to initiate a conflict with the Soviet Union if it invaded Europe. These days they are just there as some kind of vestigial legacy, and don't really mean anything. The US exercises its control over the EU and elsewhere through its control of international finance and trade. This system benefits the elite of those countries that are part of the 'empire', so has substantial support from influential people inside those countries. Unless and until there is some groundswell of support among the peoples of those countries to change that system, they will continue to be an obedient part of the US empire.

It's not even clear that resistance isn't futile. Those countries that want to maintain independence like Russia, China, Iran, Turkey (?), India (?) also have a strong internal attraction to Western 'culture'. As much as some denigrate that culture as shallow, materialistic, and worthless, it seems to have a very universal attraction around the World, particularly among the young. There are a lot of people everywhere that would like to be a part of a global empire, with a hedonistic Western-style culture. Sad, but true.

Abe , Jan 20 2020 19:32 utc | 12
I tend to agree with comments here saying Iran needs to make bomb.

North Korea proved that truth 100%. No amount of agreements or "guarantees" with usual lying suspects will provide security to Iran - only hard cold nuclear deterrence will.

This time, now, Iran has enough conventional & asymmetrical firepower to deter its enemies long enough for it to develop nukes (few years?).

It already has proven means to deliver warheads, now it needs them.

time2wakeup , Jan 20 2020 19:50 utc | 13
I strongly concur with several other commentators here. Iran should immediately commence enriching uranium to weapons grade levels and assemble at least 10-20 nuclear warheads ASAP if they ever hope to remain an intact, non-US/Israeli dominated country.

The US understands ONLY raw power and who it perceives has it (Israel, North Korea..etc.), and who doesn't (Libya, Syria, Iraq..etc.).

The NPT "Treaty" is nothing more than a cabal of nuclear armed countries attempting to cartel who's allowed to posses a nuclear weapons arsenal and all the rest of the world countries that's ultimately at their mercy.

Cornelius von Hamb , Jan 20 2020 19:59 utc | 14
"So, what does Iran actually gain by leaving the NPT?"

For one thing, it means they won't have to violate that treaty and international law if they decide to take steps that wouldn't be allowed under the NPT terms. It's easy to look at the lawless rogue US regime and forget this, but: some countries actually do try to have some semblance of abiding by and respecting treaties and the rule of law.

Nemesiscalling , Jan 20 2020 20:01 utc | 15
@2 Nemo

I am always taken aback when people compare unsavory characters to members of the primate family. Please do not engage in "zoomorphism." And I am dead fucking serious. Animals do not deserve to be denigrated in such a way. Keep your insults grounded in the human sphere.

lgfocus , Jan 20 2020 20:02 utc | 16
PIERACCINI has a very good article on Strategic Culture on what is happening to The Evil Empires dominance
The End of U.S. Military Dominance: Unintended Consequences Forge a Multipolar World Order
lysias , Jan 20 2020 20:03 utc | 17
The U.S. has already used that tactic of insisting on concessions known to be unacceptable to the other side with the intention of causing war at least twice: to Japan in 1941 and to Yugoslavia before the Kosovo War.
goldhoarder , Jan 20 2020 20:08 utc | 18
Does Iran really need a nuke? They have proven they can hit a US base and Saudi oil infrastructure. It is believed they already have.... or at least have the capability of mining the Strait of Hormuz. If the global financial elite can't get oil out of the gulf... what happens to the global economy? My guess is it would implode. Isn't this the real and only reason the US hasn't bombed Iran back to the stone age yet? They already have deterrence. The US claims about restoring deterrence was just the projection of sociopaths and psychopaths.
tucenz , Jan 20 2020 20:12 utc | 19
re:Cornelius von Hamb | Jan 20 2020 19:59 utc | 14
"For one thing, it means they won't have to violate that treaty and international law if they decide to take steps that wouldn't be allowed under the NPT terms."

Iran says it won't develop nuclear weapons (anti Islamic), so what steps could they possibly be not wanting to rule out?

Virgile , Jan 20 2020 20:17 utc | 20
The state of the JCPOA today bears a lot on Trump's negotiations with North Korea.
Kim Un Jung has be spooked by Bolton comparing North Korea's fate to Libya and by the ease with which US withdrew from the JCPOA. Negotiations have halted.
Trump needs to show that he is serious with deals that he guaranties will be binding the partners more seriously than the flawed JCPOA.
Iran has only one choice: Press Europe to take a stand against the USA, (which will probably not happen) then pull out officially from the JCPOA that has become a liability with no advantages and calls for re-negotiation. Trump will certainly jump in and will try to get the best deal possible by squeezing Iran on its regional role. Yet he can't have too excessive demands as he wants to make a similar deal with North Korea.
Iran could ask for withholding sanctions during negotiations. It could take years to finalize the deal. In the meantime the regional situation could change greatly
That seems to be the only path for Iran.
Laguerre , Jan 20 2020 20:27 utc | 21
According to what is said here, the US is still afraid of attacking Iran, and is going for internal disruption, and sanctions. So what's new? It's been the same policy for forty years. The fact that Trump doesn't like long-term wars, and will only go for a big bang without consequences, is neither here nor there.

Rouhani and his team, including Zarif, seem to me pretty bright, and capable of coping with the politics. Relighting nuclear refinement is essentially a political move.

jared , Jan 20 2020 20:30 utc | 22
Again, find it hard to believe that they are in fact such quisling sycophants to the US.
Suspect they rely on Trump to provide cover for the fact that they (like him) are beholden to higher powers.
winston2 , Jan 20 2020 20:35 utc | 23
The USE of WMDs is haram.
Words mean things B, much as the PC police have twisted their meanings,and even fatwas can be reversed.
The frantic efforts to corral the USSRs nukes were never anything like 100% effective,500+ warheads and tonnes of
plutonium were NEVER accounted for from the KNOWN inventory,who knows what the unknown inventory was ?
Generals of Rocket Forces had to eat,and there were willing buyers for their only wares.
A CIA assessment I was made privy to,the old boys network for an opinion from outside, claimed the Iranians did not have the ability to keep those warheads in working order,which begs a question,how many ?
I told my old schoolmate they were wrong in their assessment, they've had the capability since the Shahs nuclear program.I know Iran very well,worked and lived there ,during the Shah times.

[Jan 20, 2020] The American Evil Empire is the threat. The Eurotrash nations are irrelevant. They are America-appeasing shits, who only provide a "multilateral" skirt for the United States to hide behind

Jan 20, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

ak74 , Jan 20 2020 22:32 utc | 54

The American Evil Empire is the threat.

The Eurotrash nations are irrelevant. They are America-appeasing shits, who only provide a "multilateral" skirt for the United States to hide behind.

Neutralize the America Menace--and you won't have to give a damn what the Euro poodles think, do, or believe.

[Jan 20, 2020] The US has turned into such a fake bullshit nation that nothing the people say who run the place can be trusted.

Jan 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

zard , says: Show Comment January 20, 2020 at 6:29 pm GMT

The US has turned into such a fake bullshit nation that nothing the people say who run the place can be trusted. It is totally a Masonic land where money is God and the decent people are exploited and oppressed. Free speech and democracy are only kosher if the issue is something like Pooper-Scooper Enforcement Officer with no real money or power involved, unless of course there is an impressive uniform which goes with the position.

The brainwashed masses are presently transfixed to their TV's watching the theatre of the fake-impeachment pageant unfold, dutifully believing it is all real. All the performers strut about keeping to their carefully-scripted lines. Like the establishment-hatched fake Russia-bashing campaign, it is all theater. With the impeachment drama intended the polarize the entire nation, the people are once-again being caresully herded into their red and blue stalls in ensure nothing really populist, and not controlled by the establishment cabal running things, gets off of the ground. the entire performance will be so carefully choreographed, on a pro and anti Trump basis that it will also ensure that whomever the ruling cabal anoints will be chosen for the top puppet job.

Like in the US midterm elections in 2018, issues involving US foreign policy were mum. In the coming presidential election, Americans will see no real difference in the leading contenders' position regarding foreign affairs, which most Americans in any case now believe should be left to the military and the agencies who know best how to protect and advance their interests. Once again, any real discussion or debate on foreign policy during the coming election campaign will be taboo, and with the careful censorship of the alternate media, and with no real protest from the American people, who in fact become willing accomplices to any further unjust wars and atrocities their so-called "free" nation commits.

Americans are brought up on Hollywood imagery, life-styles and fantasy. The corporate media and entertainment industry is so pervasive that most of the people cannot discern the difference between fantasy and reality, and as result of their constantly-fed addiction, they now demand more and more theatre and even wars to satisfy their cravings. A false-flag attack, 9/11, on their own people coming from their diabolical "owners", results in being no more than a thrilling performance to make life seem more real. If there was any reality to the people they would long ago have arrested the thousands of insider perps involved, (especially deep-state ones in and out of the US), and long ago they would hung everyone of them.

[Jan 20, 2020] Trump s erraticness is a strong signal he fits to a pattern the Russians have used to depict the US: not agreement capable

Jan 14, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

January 14, 2020 at 12:31 pm

I would put it a bit differently. Trump's erraticness is a strong signal he fits to a pattern the Russians have used to depict the US: "not agreement capable". That's what I meant by he selects for weak partners. His negotiating style signals that he is a bad faith actor. Who would put up with that unless you had to, or you could somehow build that into your price?

Yves Smith Post author, January 15, 2020 at 12:16 am

I have no idea who your mythical Russians are. I know two people who did business in Russia before things got stupid and they never had problems with getting paid. Did you also miss that "Russians" have bought so much real estate in London that they mainly don't live in that you could drop a neutron bomb in the better parts of Chelsea and South Kensington and not kill anyone?

Pray tell, how could they acquire high end property if they are such cheats?

Boomka, January 15, 2020 at 6:38 am

somebody was eating too much US propaganda? how about this for starters:

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/26-years-on-russia-set-to-repay-all-soviet-unions-foreign-debt

"It is politically important: Russia has paid off the USSR's debt to a country that no longer exists," said Mr Yuri Yudenkov, a professor at the Russian University of Economics and Public Administration. "This is very important in terms of reputation: the ability to repay on time, the responsibility," he told AFP.

It would have been very easy for Russia to say it cannot be held responsible for USSR's debts, especially in this case where debt is to a non-existent entity.

drumlin woodchuckles, January 14, 2020 at 7:09 pm

In Syria, the Department of Defense was supporting one group of pet jihadis. The CIA was supporting a different group of pet jihadis.

At times the two groups of pet jihadis were actively fighting each other. I am not sure how the DoD and CIA felt about their respective pet jihadis fighting each other. However they felt, they kept right on arming and supporting their respective groups ...

[Jan 19, 2020] The Little-Known Loophole in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty The National Interest

Jan 19, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

North Korea's cavalier rejection of its NPT membership in 2003 is a prime example , but many saw it as a case not applicable to most member states. However, more recently, Saudi Arabia , and Turkey and Iran (which, after the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, is looking for new ways to upset Washington), have gone so far as ti layout terms under which they would leave the treaty and even obtain nuclear weapons, statements without precedent in the treaty's history.

A number of otherwise respectable member countries, such as South Korea , also have political parties in their legislatures that advocate treaty withdrawal and acquisition of nuclear weapons.

We have to take seriously the possibility that -- without international action to arrest this tendency -- the already frayed bonds that tie countries to the NPT and the pledge not to acquire nuclear weapons may not hold. This would presage a world with many more nuclear states and a vastly increased risk of nuclear use.

Victor Gilinsky is program advisor for the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) in Arlington, Virginia. He served on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Henry Sokolski is executive director of NPEC and the author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future (second edition 2019). He served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the office of the U.S. secretary of defense in the Cheney Pentagon.

[Jan 19, 2020] Did Washington played on oil price hike threat to achive Genramny, France and GB compliance

Jan 19, 2020 | www.wsws.org

Britain and the EU powers fear Washington's ever-escalating aggression against Iran will spark an all-out war that will redound against their own imperialist interests, even if it doesn't immediately draw in Russia and China. A war would send oil prices soaring, roil the European economy, spark another massive refugee crisis and further radicalize a growing working class counter-offensive.

No doubt Pompeo and others have told the Europeans that if they want to restrain Trump, avert a major conflagration and retain influence in the Middle East, they must rally behind Washington and its maximum pressure campaign.

To these dubious incentives, the Trump administration added a trade war threat, according to a report published yesterday by the Washington Post under the title, "Days before Europeans warned Iran of nuclear deal violations, Trump secretly threatened to impose 25 percent tariff on European autos if they didn't."

[Jan 19, 2020] Iran The EU-three Trigger Dispute Mechanism in Iran Nuclear Deal New Eastern Outlook

Jan 19, 2020 | journal-neo.org

Why, after so many assurances to the contrary, have the three European Iran's Nuclear Deal Partner's – Germany, France, the UK – decided to go after Iran, to follow the US dictate again?

The short answer is because the cowards. They have zero backbone to stand up against the US hegemony, because they are afraid to be sanctioned – as Trump indicated if they were to honor the" Nuclear Deal". Iran is absolutely in their right to progressively increase uranium enrichment, especially since the US dropped out unilaterally, without any specific reasons, other than on Netanyahu's orders – of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also called Iran's Nuclear Deal.

Just a few days ago Ms. Angela Merkel met with President Putin in Moscow, and BOTH pledged in front of a huge press crowd that the Nuclear Deal must stay, must be maintained and validated.

And now, because of Trump's Barbarian threats, trade threats on Europe – an increase of up to 25% import taxes on European cars – and wanting a new deal with Iran, whatever that means, they, the Europeans – the three Nuclear Deal partners, back down. Why not call Trump's bluff? As China did. This Barbarian Kingpin is lashing around his deathbed with tariffs and sanctions, it is only a sign of weakness, a sign of slowly but surely disappearing in the – hopefully – bottomless abyss.

This threesome is a bunch of shameless and hopeless cowards. They have not realized yet that the west, starting with the US empire, is passé. It's a sinking ship. It's high time for Iran to orient herself towards the east. Iran is already a Middle-Eastern key hub for the Chinese Belt and Road initiative (BRI), or the New Silk road. Iran can do without Europe; and the US needs Europe more than vice-versa. But the 'chickens' haven't noticed that yet.

On the behest of Washington, the Trump clown, they, Germany, France and the UK, want to start an official dispute process, bringing Iran back to where it was before the Nuclear Deal, and reinstating all the UN sanctions of before the signature of the deal in July 2015. And this despite the fact that Iran has adhered to their part of the deal by 100%, as several times attested to by the Atomic Energy Commission in Vienna. Can you imagine what these abhorrent Europeans are about to do?

This reminds of how Europe pilfered, robbed and raped Africa and the rest of the now called developing world, for hundreds of years. No ethics, no qualms, just sheer egocentricity and cowardice. The European Barbarians and those on the other side of the Atlantic deserve each other. And they deserve disappearing in the same bottomless pit.

Iran may consider three ideas:

1) Call the European bluff. Let them start the dispute process – and let them drive it all the way to the UN Security Council. Their spineless British Brother in Crime, BoJo, also called the British Prime-Minister, Boris Johnson, will do the job for them, bringing the case "Iran Nuclear Deal – and Sanctions" to the UN Security Council – where it will fail, because Russia and China will not approve the motion.

2) Much more important, Dear Friends in Iran – do not trust the Europeans for even one iota ! – They have proven time and again that they are not trustworthy. They buckle under every time Trump is breaking wind – and

3) Dedollarize your economy even faster – move as far as possible away from the west – join the Eastern economy, that controls at least one third of the world's GDP. You are doing already a lot in this direction – but faster. Join the SCO – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, comprising half of Mother Earth's population; ditch the dollar and the SWIFT payment system, join instead the Chinese Interbank Payment System (CIPS) – and be free of the sanction-prone western monetary system. Eastern monetary transactions are blocking out western dollar-based sanctions. Already your hydrocarbon trades with China, Russia, India and others are not carried out in US dollars, but in local currencies, Chinese yuans, Russian rubles and Indian rupees.

True – Iran will have to confront Iran-internally the western (NATO) and CIA trained, funded and bought Atlantists, the Fifth Columnists. They are the ones that create constant virulently violent unrest in the cities of Iran; they are trained – and paid for – to bring about Regime Change. That's what Russia and China and Venezuela and Cuba are also confronted with. They, the Fifth Columnists have to be eradicated. It's a challenge, but it should be doable.

Follow the Ayatollah's route. He is on the right track – looking East.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. After working for over 30 years with the World Bank he penned Implosion , an economic thriller, based on his first-hand experience. Exclusively for the online magazine " New Eastern Outlook. "

[Jan 18, 2020] Washington is certainly it's impossible to make an agreement with it and, if you should think you have done so, it will break it. A dangerous, uncontrollable madman, staggering around blowing everything up

Jan 18, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

For some years Washington, an implacable enemy of Moscow, has been getting less and less predictable. Lavrov and Kerry spend hours locked up negotiating a deal in Syria ; within a week the US military attacks a Syrian Army unit; "by mistake" . Who's in charge? Now with the murder of Soleimani, possibly on a Washington-approved peace mission, Washington has moved to another level of lawlessness and is exploring the next depth as it defies Baghdad's order to get out. A pirate power. The outside problems for Moscow aren't getting smaller, are they? Washington is certainly недоговороспособны – it's impossible to make an agreement with it and, if you should think you have done so, it will break it. A dangerous, uncontrollable madman, staggering around blowing everything up – is any foreign leader now to be assumed to be on Washington's murder list? Surviving its decay is a big job indeed. The problems are getting bigger in the Final Days of the Imperium Americanum.

[Jan 17, 2020] Trump Threatened Euro-Poodles With 25% Car Tarrifs If They Didn't Blow Up the Iran Nuclear Treaty by John Hudson

Jan 17, 2020 | www.anti-empire.com


1 day ago
CHUCKMAN 7 hours ago ,

What an absolutely chaotic man, using trade measures like military weapons.

Mychal Arnold 7 hours ago ,

Mafia!

[Jan 16, 2020] Isn't America (i.e., America the nation-state, which most Americans still believe they live in) militarily occupying much of the planet, making a mockery of international law, bombing and invading other countries, and assassinating heads of state and military officers with complete impunity.

Jan 16, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Northern Star, January 14, 2020 at 4:11 pm

"World War III is not going to happen because World War III already happened and the global capitalist empire won. [Where is the "capitalism"?] Take a look at these NATO maps (make sure to explore all the various missions). Then take a look at this Smithsonian map of where the U.S. military is "combating terrorism." And there are plenty of other maps you can google. What you will be looking at is the global capitalist empire. Not the American empire, the global capitalist empire.

If that sounds like a distinction without a difference well, it kind of is, and it kind of isn't. What I mean by that is that it isn't America (i.e., America the nation-state, which most Americans still believe they live in) that is militarily occupying much of the planet, making a mockery of international law, bombing and invading other countries, and assassinating heads of state and military officers with complete impunity.

Or, rather, sure, it is America but America is not America."

BINGO!!!!!

https://www.anti-empire.com/ww3-flickers-out-after-terroristy-terrorists-inflict-mass-non-casualties/

[Jan 16, 2020] Does the United States's withdrawal from the JCPOA constitute non-compliance, or not? If so, does their non-compliance constitute breach of contract

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Joshua , Jan 15 2020 2:39 utc | 115

Does the United States's withdrawal from the JCPOA constitute non-compliance, or not? If so, does their non-compliance constitute breach of contract, or not?

[Jan 16, 2020] The US extorted their own "allies" to get them to betray Iran and destroy their own reputations

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

b , Jan 15 2020 19:40 utc | 175

woah

WaPo: Days before Europeans warned Iran of nuclear deal violations, Trump secretly threatened to impose 25% tariff on European autos if they didn't

The U.S. effort to coerce European foreign policy through tariffs, a move one European official equated to "extortion," represents a new level of hardball tactics with the United States' oldest allies, underscoring the extraordinary tumult in the transatlantic relationship.
...
U.S. officials conveyed the threat directly to officials in London, Berlin and Paris rather than through their embassies in Washington, said a senior European official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations.

Kadath , Jan 15 2020 20:05 utc | 179

Yes the US extorted their own "allies" to get them to betray Iran and destroy their own reputations. I must say the one thing i begrudgingly like about Trump is his honest upfront thuggist actions. After the backroom betrayals of Obama bush clinton merkel and the rest its almost refreshingly honest. Also i can think of no quicker way of destroying the US empire than by threatening your own allies the MIC must be desperate to start a new never ending war, although perhaps they should be careful of what they wish for

[Jan 16, 2020] Bulling EU: Trumps calculations were (obviously) right. EU would have never risked a massive economic crisis because of a breakdown in US-EU trade by siding with Iran.

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

DontBelieveEitherPr. , Jan 15 2020 2:14 utc | 113

Trumps calculations were (obviously) right. EU would have never risked a massive economic crisis because of a breakdown in US-EU trade by siding with Iran.
Sadly, they are doing what every other country would do in this position to protect their own self percieved national interests.

Like China,India and Russia too now more and more totally abiding by sanctions and in case of China winding down oil trade even more.

In this time of lurking economic crisis, US sanctions could cripple Europe from one day to the next. With our countries also being on the edge of social unrest, and mass conflict between elites and people, a massive economic crisis would bring everything tumbling down.

This is the sad reality. Risking the sure economic meltdown to save an already lost Iran deal would trade the social and economic welbeing of their voters for Iran. The deal has been lost ever since Trump annouced his opposition. This is the reality. Triggering a crisis on the back of its own voters without a real chance to save that deal would have been an empty gesture anyway.

Realpolitik.

Good thing is Merkel seems to have had a great day with Putin. EU will silently learn from this and warm ties with Russia. If not for its people, for its business.

The deal was a good idea, but it always was destined to end like this. Iran will go nuclear, and the US and Isreal will have "no alternative" for shooting war. If they dare now.


Peter AU1 , Jan 15 2020 2:30 utc | 114

Paragragh 14 of the UNSC resolution is worth thinking about.

"14. Affirms that the application of the provisions of previous resolutions pursuant to paragraph 12 do not apply with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran or Iranian individuals and entities prior to the date of application, provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with the JCPOA, this resolution and the previous resolutions;"

To date, only Russia and China are holding up their ends of the deal. Iran, sticking to the deal is on the losing side as it has no trade with the EU yet it still must stay within the provisions of the deal. I believe there were clauses on what Iran could do if other parties were not upholding their end.
The nuke deal is dead and Iran knows it. Under Paragragh 14, Russia China can sign up to all deals allowed under the resolution and when snapback provisions occur, Iran Russia china can still operate contracts it has signed before sanctions reinstated. This way, Iran gets the benefits of trade and investment with China and Russia that could not have occurred before the nuke deal, but at the same time, Iran will no longer be bound by the deal.
China signed up a huge oil deal with Iran not long back. Russia have also been signing a good number of contracts. None of these will be effected by UNSC sanction.

Overall, the nuke deal was a win for Iran. Pity the US and Euro's have reneged, but still, a win for Iran.

Joshua , Jan 15 2020 2:39 utc | 115
Does the United States's withdrawal from the JCPOA constitute non-compliance, or not? If so, does their non-compliance constitute breach of contract, or not?
karlof1 , Jan 15 2020 2:43 utc | 116
Peter AU 1 @114--

Now Peter, do you really think the Outlaw US Empire or its poodles will abide by contract law in general and the JCPOA contract law specifically?

IMO, the JCPOA's outcome is becoming similar to the outcome of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in that it bought time and showed who's the true aggressor. I recall writing the Eurasians need to behave as if they're at war with the EU-3 and their master--and that includes the Eurasian nations who so far aren't too much affected by the fallout from the JCPOA's failure.

What has me curious is the nature of the talks between Iran and Qatar.

Piotr Berman , Jan 15 2020 3:11 utc | 119 Jackrabbit , Jan 15 2020 3:12 utc | 120
Peter AU1 @114

=
Under Paragragh 14, Russia China can sign up to all deals allowed under the resolution and when snapback provisions occur, Iran Russia china can still operate contracts it has signed before sanctions reinstated.

Not sure about that. Paragraph 14 has this constraining language:

... provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with the JCPOA, this resolution and the previous resolutions.
My reading of this phrase is that he word "and" implies that the contracts must satisfy provisions of ALL of these.

Put another way: When the snap back occurs, then contracts signed are exempt except that they must comply with the provisions that are snapped back (AND) the JCPOA, AND this resolution!?!?

Yes, it seems nonsensical. But how else can one interpret the "and"?

=
Overall, the nuke deal was a win for Iran.

It was a 'win' for both sides.

I've always believed that USA entered into the JCPOA to buy time because Syrian "regime change" was taking longer than expected. I've read many times that neocons and/or neocon sympathizers believed that "Damascus is on the road" to Tehran."

USA-Israel want to fight Iran before it gets a bomb. Iran bought time to prepare for that fight.

!!

snake , Jan 15 2020 3:42 utc | 121
The EU cannot lead in anything - it is a completely owned and operated US tool. It is a big zero in providing humanity any help with the big problem of our time: the 'indispensable and exceptional' supremacist US. by: AriusArmenian @ 15

evilempire @ 74 <= I agree the Iranians probably did not shoot down the 737.. I posted to MOA a link to a presstv article, headlined no missile hit the passenger liner, and the link even said --its official.. within a short few minutes after tha, the pressTV link disappeared and PressTV replaced it with a new story , Iranians admit they had mistakenly shot down the PS752 taking off from Tehran. This suggest either a military coup in Iran, or Iraq double crossed Iran. killed in Iraq by Trump were the leaders of the Shia religious arm (IRCG leaders )

The unusually harsh words and expression in anger by Khomeini, said he would severely punish those 8 persons responsible for the mistake, <= non characteristic of Khomeini , suggesting a trusted friend let him down; the two arms of the Military may be at war with each other and Trump was helping the Iranian Military (eliminate the upper leadership of the Revolutionary guard)? Today's JCOPA by the European powers issue suggest insiders have been at work all weekend. Russia and China silence all fit betrayal. Have the two separate branches of Iran military been at odds with each?
Imagine the White house wiping out Qaseum Soleimani and other IRCG members drawn on false pretense into Iraq.?

here is Bs report on the matter
The Iranian Armed Forces General Staff just admitted (in Farsi, English translation) that its air defenses inadvertently shot down the Ukrainian flight PS 752 shortly after it took off on January 8 in Tehran :

2- In early hours after the missile attack [on US' Ain al-Assad base in Iraq], the military flights of the US' terrorist forces had increased around the country. The Iranian defence units received news of witnessing flying targets moving towards Iran's strategic centres, and then several targets were observed in some [Iranian] radars, which incited further sensitivity at the Air Defence units.
3- Under such sensitive and critical circumstances, the Ukrainian airline's Flight PS752 took off from Imam Khomeini Airport, and when turning around, it approached a sensitive military site of the IRGC, taking the shape and altitude of a hostile target. In such conditions, due to human error and in an unintentional move, the airplane was hit [by the Air Defence], which caused the martyrdom of a number of our compatriots and the deaths of several foreign nationals.

4- The General Staff of the Armed Forces offers condolences and expresses sympathy with the bereaved families of the Iranian and foreign victims, and apologizes for the human error. It also gives full assurances that it will make major revision in the operational procedures of its armed forces in order to make impossible the recurrence of such errors. It will also immediately hand over the culprits to the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces for prosecution.

The Pentagon had claimed that Iran shot down the airliner but the evidence it presented was flimsy and not sufficient as the U.S. tends to spread disinformation about Iran.

The Associated Press errs when it says that the move was "stoked by the American drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani". The move was stoked five days earlier when the U.S. killed 31 Iraqi security forces near the Syrian border despite the demands by the Iraqi prime minister and president not to do so. It was further stoked when the U.S. assassinated Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, the deputy commander of the Popular Militia Forces and a national hero in Iraq.b at 19:09 UTC | Comments (150)

The State Department issued a rather aggressive response to Abdul-Mahdi's request:b at 19:09 UTC | Comments (150)
Very interesting post. something is up Thanks.

Mao , Jan 15 2020 3:51 utc | 122
This picture

https://www.moonofalabama.org/images5/europeanpoodles.jpg

in many ways resembles another picture:

https://i.redd.it/ahft7ubghjt31.jpg

Mao , Jan 15 2020 4:19 utc | 124
Posted by: V | Jan 15 2020 4:04 utc | 123

Current Europe is a selling girl of imperialism.

moon , Jan 15 2020 4:58 utc | 125
Posted by: DontBelieveEitherPr. | Jan 15 2020 2:14 utc | 113

thanks, yes, the US economic power directly and indirectly via economic laws or extra-territorial sanctions. A company simply cannot make a deal with Iran if it doesn't want to be ruined by US legal means. Sad, but true.

Iranian frozen assets in international accounts are calculated to be worth between $100 billion[1][2] and $120 billion.[3][4] Almost $1.973 billion of Iran's assets are frozen in the United States.[5] According to the Congressional Research Service, in addition to the money locked up in foreign bank accounts, Iran's frozen assets include real estate and other property. The estimated value of Iran's real estate in the U.S. and their accumulated rent is $50 million.[1] Besides the assets frozen in the U.S., some parts of Iran's assets are frozen around the world by the United Nations.[1]

***********

Now I will have to cry myself to sleep. Trump, such a poor man...

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 15 2020 3:11 utc | 119

Yes, I am getting tired of that meme too. The poor helpless king of the world, if only he could do what he wants ... if only he could "drain the swamp"

He promised to abolish the JCPOA, he suggested he would deal with the increase of Iran's power in the region and he promised to restore US and military power to it's old (lost) world domination. A world domination Russia and China would need to deal with too:

He already promised he would abolish JCPOA during his 2016 election campaign. And he promised to not only make both the American economy and military strong again. So America can exert at least as much power as it did under the great Ronald Reagan.

Secondly, we have to rebuild our military and our economy. The Russians and Chinese have rapidly expanded their military capability, but look at what's happened to us. Our nuclear weapons arsenal, our ultimate deterrent, has been allowed to atrophy and is desperately in need of modernization and renewal. And it has to happen immediately. Our active duty armed forces have shrunk from 2 million in 1991 to about 1.3 million today. The Navy has shrunk from over 500 ships to 272 ships during this same period of time. The Air Force is about one-third smaller than 1991. Pilots flying B-52s in combat missions today. These planes are older than virtually everybody in this room.

And what are we doing about this? President Obama has proposed a 2017 defense budget that in real dollars, cuts nearly 25 percent from what we were spending in 2011. Our military is depleted and we're asking our generals and military leaders to worry about global warming.

We will spend what we need to rebuild our military. It is the cheapest, single investment we can make. We will develop, build and purchase the best equipment known to mankind. Our military dominance must be unquestioned, and I mean unquestioned, by anybody and everybody.

V , Jan 15 2020 5:02 utc | 126
Mao | Jan 15 2020 4:19 utc | 124
Current Europe is a selling girl of imperialism.

Indeed! The western band of galoots are captives of their white skin color...
Very unbecoming to the rest of the non-white world = majority.
Fortunately, many of us see past our skin colors, whatever that may be...

V , Jan 15 2020 5:15 utc | 127
We will spend what we need to rebuild our military. It is the cheapest, single investment we can make. We will develop, build and purchase the best equipment known to mankind. Our military dominance must be unquestioned, and I mean unquestioned, by anybody and everybody.

Posted by: moon | Jan 15 2020 4:58 utc | 125

Oh, we'll spend the money alright; for more of the inferior, junk, weaponry already in our arsenals.
Planes that can't fly in the rain, aircraft carriers that can't be commisioned, and battle rifles (that's a misnomer; the M-14 was the last U.S. battle rifle) (M-4 & M-16) that are unreliable in intense combat situations. The M-16 should have been replaced during the Viet Nam war...
But there it still is; almost 60 years later...

Lurker of the Dark , Jan 15 2020 5:41 utc | 128
steven t. jonhson @5

Personally I thought the cartoon was pretty good. The artist even thought that the detail of the dogs' ass holes was important enough to include. Notably none of them have any external genitalia, hence "bitches" also being accurate. I bet if we could see the rendition from the other side, Israel's face would be hideous despite the appealing rear view!

Cyrus , Jan 15 2020 6:50 utc | 131
This is a repeat of the EU3 negotiations with Iran that ended with a EU3 deal offered to Iran that experts called "a lot of pretty wrappig around an empty box" because as it turned out, the EU3 had been promising the US that they would not recognize Iran's right to enrichment contrary to what they were telling the Iranians as part of the EU3's effort to drag out Iran's suspension of enrichment.
The result was that Khatami was embarrassed and Ahmadinejad was elected, as Jack Straw said later: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/us-scuppered-deal-with-iran-in-2005-says-then-british-foreign-minister/

So again the Eu is playing the good cop to the US bad cop, and they keep goalposts moving
This has been a consistent pattern going back years.
All along Iran has been making better compromise offers than the JCPOA only to see the goalposts moved because this conflict was never really about nukes just as the invasion of Iraq was not about WMDs, all that is just a pretext for a policy of imposed regime-change.

NOTE That the Obama administration itself said that the JCPOA is "non-binding" funny how Iran is accused of "breaching" or "violating" it yet Trump is only said to have "abandoned" or even "withdrawn" from the deal

Richard , Jan 15 2020 6:50 utc | 132
Sad news. European leaders are pathetic, craven cowards, hostages to the evil American Regime...

https://richardhennerley.com/2020/01/14/welcome-to-the-american-regime/

Australian lady , Jan 15 2020 6:51 utc | 133
"President Rohani represent's the interests of the bourgeoisie in Tehran and Esfahan, merchants oriented toward international trade and hard hit by US sanctions. Sheikh Rohani is a long time friend of the US deep state: he was the first Iranian contact between the Reagan administration and Israel during the Iran-contra affair in 1985. It was he who introduced Hashem Rafsanjani to Oliver North's men, allowing him to buy arms, to become commander-in-chief of the armies and incidentally the richest man in the country, and the president of the Islamic Republic."
Thierry Meyssan. Voltairenet. org.
Wednesday morning, my first read before b's M. O. A. is Thierry. Really folks, it is indespensible. One can support the I. R. I.,but still reserve criticism of the domestic politics of Iran.
Steve , Jan 15 2020 6:56 utc | 134
Outside the West, people don't see any difference between Europe and the USA. So it is known that which ever direction the US takes, Europe will follow. Both the USA and Europe are Israeli colonies. So unless Israel objects whatever the US does would always be the Eurooean policy.
powerandpeople , Jan 15 2020 8:41 utc | 138
Annex B, paragraph 5 allows Iran to purchase weapons from Russia (for example...) after 5 years from signing of the Agreement in 2015.

So 2020 for weapons.

This is why Russia is so insistent the agreement holds together for the 5 years, at least. If it doesn't, due to this action by Germany etc, then they can't sell to Iran as all old sanctions will 'snap back'.

(Other restrictions are lifted on longer time frames, 8 and 10 years. Also, other matters remain open forever until security council agrees the nuclear proliferation issue in Iran is dead and buried.)

V , Jan 15 2020 9:05 utc | 142 Russ , Jan 15 2020 11:08 utc | 143
powerandpeople 138 says:

Annex B, paragraph 5 allows Iran to purchase weapons from Russia (for example...) after 5 years from signing of the Agreement in 2015.

So 2020 for weapons.

This is why Russia is so insistent the agreement holds together for the 5 years, at least. If it doesn't, due to this action by Germany etc, then they can't sell to Iran as all old sanctions will 'snap back'.

There's an example of how appeasement and idiot-legality are way past their expiration date. It's clear the UN itself, like all other existing international bodies, has been fully weaponized with Russia the ultimate target.

In the process of "first they came for Irak, then they came for Libya [with the full consent of Russia and China]...now they're coming for Irak again and for Iran....", well obviously Russia is the one they'll ultimately be coming for.

It really is time to hang together or hang separately. Although Russia should remain cautious about direct military stand-offs, it's definitely way past time to start openly challenging and flouting war-by-sanctions, and to start constructing international bodies alternative to the UN and other imperial weapons.

As for fighting within the UN, someone earlier said Russia and China wouldn't be able to prevent the "snap-back" of UN sanctions on Iran. Why not? I'm not asking for a technical-legalistic answer, but a power-based answer. Self-evidently the "legality" ship has sunk, and anyone who still makes a fetish of it is fighting with one hand tied behind one's back.

I don't say gratuitously flout legality; certainly there's great propaganda value in seeming to adhere to international law in the face of the open lawlessness of the US. But where it comes to critical battles like getting Iran out from under the sanctions, in the process dealing a blow to the alleged impregnability of the sanctions weapon, the most important thing is the real result.

Carciofi , Jan 15 2020 11:14 utc | 144
Trump has in fact done more to ensure that Iran will have a nuclear weapon than any other president through his abrupt withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and his assassination of Soleimani..

Trump and Congress Double Down on Demonizing Iran

And this is why you'll never see Philip Giraldi on CNN, Fox News, or any other US broadcast network.

Carciofi , Jan 15 2020 11:14 utc | 144
Trump has in fact done more to ensure that Iran will have a nuclear weapon than any other president through his abrupt withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and his assassination of Soleimani..

Trump and Congress Double Down on Demonizing Iran

And this is why you'll never see Philip Giraldi on CNN, Fox News, or any other US broadcast network.

Peter AU1 , Jan 15 2020 11:23 utc | 145
Russ
Russia and I think China are working towards a multi-polar world order based on international law.
Russia is pushing this vision and to pull other countries in, it has to walk the talk.
PR information warfare play a big part in state decisions. As we have seen from the Uki plane shootdown Euro's beginning the process to trigger snapback, A small anti Iran block sprang to life (UK, Canada, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Sweden) that will be great PR for the US in its anti Iran crusade.
As I put in another comment, everyone likes a winner
Bemildred , Jan 15 2020 13:30 utc | 148
Alistair Crooke:

Reading Sun Tzu in Tehran

I also recommend the short piece by Patrick Armstrong posted by moon up there.

I've been of the opinion from the beginning of this that the main reason Russia & China have not leapt to the aid of Iran is that Iran does not need or want them to, yet at least. Crooke's mention of the attack on the Saudi oil facilities is a connection that needs to be made, that was not a fluke.

But it's a very "asymmetric" situation, as Crooke points out. Interesting times.

Bemildred , Jan 15 2020 13:30 utc | 148 peter mcloughlin , Jan 15 2020 13:50 utc | 149
And each consequence leads to yet another consequence. But world leaders do not recognize where this path is leading humanity. If they did they might be able to stop – or perhaps not. They delude themselves to the real destination of the journey.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/


Formerly T-Bear , Jan 15 2020 13:57 utc | 150
@ V | Jan 15 2020 1:32 utc | 104

Does this new 'Policy of Deterrence' apply only to Iran? Could become interesting if it doesn't. Good example of 'be careful of what you wish for'.

Likklemore , Jan 15 2020 14:07 utc | 153
b wrote

"But those promises [of the EU] were empty"

Indeed they were, and now we know it was just a charade. Triggering the Dispute Resolution Mechanism on basis intel supplied by Bibi is a ruse to replace the JCPOA. Where have we heard this before?
Oh, Iran is less than a year from getting the nuclear bomb.

Iran Rejects 'Trump Deal' Proposed by UK PM Johnson as a Replacement for JCPOA


On Tuesday, Britain, France and Germany launched the 2015 Iran nuclear deal's dispute resolution mechanism, which they said was partly prompted by concerns that Tehran might be less than a year away from developing a nuclear weapon.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has rejected a proposal for a new "Trump deal" to resolve a nuclear spat as a "strange" offer, pointing the finger at the US President over his failure to deliver on promises.


"This Mr. Prime Minister in London, I don't know how he thinks. He says let's put aside the nuclear deal and put the Trump plan in action. If you take the wrong step, it will be to your detriment. Pick the right path. The right path is to return to the nuclear deal", Rouhani said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Trump to replace the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with his own new pact to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The US president responded by tweeting that he agreed with Johnson on a "Trump deal".

Zarif Says 'It Depends on Europe' if JCPOA Remains After Dispute Resolution Mechanism Activation. [.]


wendy davis , Jan 15 2020 14:20 utc | 154
my apologies if anyone's brought this already, but the plot now thickens. a commenter at the site at which i cross-post brought this to my attention on my 'iran makes arrests over accidental downing of Ukrainian airliner'.

it's a tweet leading to new york times coverage of a 'Exclusive: Security camera footage verified by the New York Times confirms that 2 missiles, fired 30 seconds apart from an Iranian military site, hit the Ukrainian plane'

i'd used a free click to pull text, including:

"The new video was uploaded to YouTube by an Iranian user around 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
The date visible on the footage is "2019-10-17," not Jan. 8, the day the plane was downed. We believe this is because the camera system is using a Persian calendar, not a Gregorian one. Jan. 8 converts to the 18th of Dey, the 10th month in the Persian calendar. Digitally that would display as 2019-10-18 in the video. One theory is that the discrepancy of one day can be explained by a difference between Persian and Gregorian leap years or months." "

but it's everywhere already, set in stone, the WSJ news coverage included:

"The video was verified by Storyful, a social-media-intelligence company owned by News Corp, parent of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones. It raises new questions about how forthcoming Iranian authorities were when, after three days of denial, they admitted they had mistakenly struck the Ukraine International Airlines flight without mentioning a second missile."

https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1217160457385103360

the video obviously bring up a dozen more questions, including what it shows, where, when, etc., but corporate coverage assures us that 'iran has lied about the airliner thrice now: evil iran'.

wait for even more sanctions, more assassinations.

snake , Jan 15 2020 14:26 utc | 155
What bothers me about this entire thread is no one can see either a way to end the suppression every player on the field has been subjected to by the private mobsters. . War whether by WMDs or Sanctions. produces the same, millions will die and nothing will alter the possession of power, and the abuse of the masses, by the few.

The thesis "the nation state system is the structure that allows the mobsters (private bankers, private corporations, and privateers) to control sufficient authority to rule the world". Without strength from deadly force, and authority from engineered consent, ruling the world is difficult.

No one has found a way to pin the maker of wrongdoing chaos button, or convicted criminal button on the private mobsters. As the private mobsters dance, and side step their positions between the 206 or so nation states, they avoid being boxed up, and they install their puppets in every place they land. It is the puppets who deliver to the international arenas the voting power that allow the private mobsters to control conflict outcomes; and puppets in-service-to the private mobsters oversee and manage the regional and local political and economic domains. In such a situation, the law becomes progressively more suppressive; it produces a hierarchy of relative power and the hierarchy allows to order the nation states relative to their power in the hierarchy. The world might even be safer without any government at all than to allow itself to be victimized by the private mobster use of the nation state system. Clearly the mightier the actor in the system, the less the system can or will hold the mighty actor to conform to the rule of law. So the rule of law suppresses the little guy and enhances the big guy.. If there were no nation state system, there would not be any push button suppression.

There has to be an answer.. that is not war or decimation of more humanity.

chb , Jan 15 2020 14:37 utc | 156
The only goal of Europe in sticking to the JPCoA when Trump walks out is to keep Tehran from developping its nuke while excruciating sanctions hinder all normal life. Regime change is still the goal, be it at the expense of european trade.
Think of NorthStream, or of the two-state fiction in Palestine where " there's no one to broke peace with ".
Robert Snefjella , Jan 15 2020 14:58 utc | 157
There has to be an answer.. that is not war or decimation of more humanity.
Posted by: snake | Jan 15 2020 14:26 utc | 155

One lesson from history is that it is important that those big shots just beneath the ultimate societal power be held to the strictest standards: The law applies to you too, big shot. Clovis effectively adhered to this principle many centuries ago. Putin by reining in the worst of the oligarchs operated in tune with this principle.

The prevailing principle in the West is that oligarchs, the mighty, etc are above the law, while in the US for example swat teams kill pets that bark at their door-smashing arrival at the homes of the little people, and those who invest in private prisons feast financially on slave labor by millions of plebeians 'plea bargained' into servitude.

Carciofi , Jan 15 2020 15:04 utc | 158
Likklemore | Jan 15 2020 14:07 utc | 153
Oh, Iran is less than a year from getting the nuclear bomb.

Since Bibi, Trump and the rest of Iran's enemies and their indoctrinated populations have been saying this for years it's time for Iran to just get on with it and pull out all stops in putting several together to be used as an option of last resort. But they should make no public confirmation, like Israel. If the warmongering US wants a war they and their allies (and their populations would then be aware of the consequences and would force them to re-assess the situation. IMO this is the only way Iran will survive. If Trump wins another term I can almost guarantee he will forge ahead with attempting another regime change. Iran is already a pariah state in their eyes so really nothing much more for Iran to lose.

A P , Jan 15 2020 15:04 utc | 159
Tim Horton's has been foreign-owned (now Brazil) since 2014, but the rot started to set in as expansion, particularly into the US, became a major goal. Once a reasonable quality purveyor of coffee and made-from-scratch in-store donuts, now just another hawker of industrialized brown swill and partly-cooked/frozen-then-shipped and finish-baked chemical-laced products.

I only patronize a Timmie's if I don't know of a decent quality local bakery/restaurant in that particular area. The devil you know...

bevin , Jan 15 2020 15:15 utc | 160
bemildred draws attention to this article at Strategic Culture:
https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/01/15/reading-sun-tzu-in-tehran/

Another interesting article is this one, which tends to suggest a real softening in Canada's following of the US line.
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/trudeau-plane-victims-alive-iran-tensions-200114043724127.html

A P , Jan 15 2020 15:17 utc | 161
To William Gruff: Absolutely, Canada is a vassal state of the US.

Example 1: Cretien managed to keep Cdn troops out of Iraq, but dithering Paul Martin got forced by the US to send non-combat troops into Afghanistan, then bribery-cash-in-brown-envelopes Harper turned it into combat roles that persist to this day.

Ex 2, Diefenbaker scrapped the nearly-complete AVRO Arrow project on direct orders from the US that the total-crap BOMARC missile system was to be implemented instead.

Trudeau sorta confronted the US by legalizing pot, but other than that... the foreign policy leash is very visible on the Canadian lapdog.

Anmie , Jan 15 2020 15:40 utc | 162
Iran doesn't react like the US psychopaths do..
They follow the letter of the law, as they have done with JCPOA.
But in my opinion, Iran should get its nuke capabilities up to par asap. Why continue to want to look as though you're following the law of JCPOA by allowing the IAEA in who reports to the EU/US to continue intrusive inspections when they all plan war against you leaving you nuke defenseless while Israel and Saudis have or are getting nukes?
If Iran has nukes the US will back off. Nuff said.
LuBa , Jan 15 2020 15:41 utc | 163
Mike-SMO

"Israel has done some nasty stuff"

In 70 years of illegal and violent occupation of Palestine through deportation,eradication and no respect for human lives adding what zionist army and services have done through these years and this is "some nasty stuff"..no israel it's the cancer of middle-east..just it!

xLemming , Jan 15 2020 15:43 utc | 164
Posted by: A P | Jan 15 2020 15:17 utc | 161

Thanks AP

The AVRO Arrow fiasco was criminal... "scrapping" doesn't even begin to tell the story... utter destruction was more like it, with welding torches, right down to the last bolt. That plane, with it's mach 2 Iroquois engine was en route to completely embarrassing the US MIC

As well, few people know the AVRO Jetliner story, which preceded the Arrow - the first North American passenger jet aircraft - years ahead of anything the US produced

Jackrabbit , Jan 15 2020 15:48 utc | 165
powerandpeople @138:
Annex B, paragraph 5 allows Iran to purchase weapons ... after 5 years

Thanks for making us aware of this, powerandpeople.

!!

Krollchem , Jan 15 2020 15:59 utc | 166
snake@155

This panel discussion explains how Congress is bought by the military industrial (mostly oil) complex. Then again Eisenhower included Congress in the Cabal several years after he overthrew the democratic leader of Iran. The dialogue of these panel members links all Mideast invasions back to the initial destruction of Iranian government in 1953. Apparently, we cannot have democracy in the Mideast as it is bad for the mafia business.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-W9b-_K_Xo&feature=youtu.be

Trailer Trash , Jan 15 2020 16:00 utc | 167
I recently heard a story on CBC radio about the Arrow. Not only did they destroy the prototype and all parts, they even destroyed all the drawings, except for one set which was smuggled out by a draftsman, who kept them secret for decades. But now they are on display at the "Diefenbaker Canada Centre at the University of Saskatchewan until April 2020" (from Wiki)

It's interesting to learn that Uncle Sam wanted the program stopped. Why didn't some US company just buy Avro instead? Buying out the competition is standard operating procedure for US corporate parasites.

Carciofi , Jan 15 2020 16:02 utc | 168
What has Iran gotten by being "nice" and playing by the rules all these decades?

Nice guys finish last!

h , Jan 15 2020 17:29 utc | 169
wendy davis @154 Rouhani's tweet when accepting responsibility for the downing of the plane stated:

Hassan Rouhani
@HassanRouhani
·
Jan 10
Armed Forces' internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people.
Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake. #PS752

As you can see, Rouhani stated 'missiles' as in plural.

Hope this helps.

[Jan 16, 2020] By signing on to the JCPOA Iran demonstrated a number of things. Iran keeps her word. The US never does. Europe's role is to smile while preparing to stab you in the back

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Lysander , Jan 15 2020 2:04 utc | 111

#39 Kooshy!!

Great to run into you again. Indeed by signing on to the JCPOA Iran demonstrated a number of things. 1) Iran keeps her word. 2) The US never does. 3) Europe's role is to smile while preparing to stab you in the back. 4) The US will sacrifice her own interests for Israel's everytime.

I think all of us could have predicted all that. But what I could never have predicted was the complete in your face nature of American imperialism. It is one thing for there to be overwhelming evidence against a suspect. It's quite another for him to openly brag about his crimes and then promise to commit even more. That is why Trump's presidency is a blessing for Iran. If you happen to be in Iran, please share with us any information about the national mood and how people are coping in difficult circumstances.

[Jan 16, 2020] Another reason Merkel qualifies as a cowardly poodle. It's also clear, IMO, that Merkel lied to Putin and the press about her position on the JCPOA

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Likklemore , Jan 15 2020 1:42 utc | 107


karlof1 , Jan 15 2020 1:45 utc | 108

Passer by @61--

Didn't know that about Merkel; yet another reason she qualifies as a cowardly poodle. It's also clear, IMO, that Merkel lied to Putin and the press about her position on the JCPOA at their post-talks presser :

Putin: "We certainly could not ignore another issue which is vitally important not only for the region but also for the whole world – the issue of preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear programme. After the United States withdrew from this fundamental agreement, the Iranian side declared that they suspended some of their voluntary commitments under the JCPOA. Let me underscore this – they only suspended their voluntary commitments while they stress their readiness to go back to full compliance with the nuclear deal.

"Russia and Germany resolutely stand for the continued implementation of the Joint Plan. The Iranians are entitled to a support from European nations, which promised to set up a special financial vehicle separate from the US dollar to be used in trade settlements with Iran. The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) must finally begin working."

Merkel, statement: "Of course, we also discussed Iran. We agree that everything necessary must be done to preserve the JCPOA. Germany believes that there should be no nuclear weapons in Iran, and therefore we will use all the available diplomatic means to preserve this agreement, even though it is not perfect, but it includes obligations of all the sides."

Merkel answering a question: " I have mentioned an issue on which we do not see eye to eye with the Americans (JCPOA), even though they are our allies with whom we are working together on many matters. But when it comes to German and European opinions, we are acting above all in our own interests, while Russia is upholding its own interests, so we should look for common interests in this process.

"Despite certain obstacles, we have found common interests in our bilateral relations regarding the JCPOA with Iran. We have common opinions and different views, but a visit such as this one is the best thing. It is better to talk with each other rather than about one another, because it helps one to understand the other side's arguments."

It's very clear from Russia's reaction that the EU-3's action was a complete surprise. I doubt Merkel will be invited to Moscow again. For Russians and the rest of humanity, there's no trusting the West. IMO, it must always be treated as hostile regardless the smiles.
"

jared , Jan 15 2020 1:52 utc | 109
@ karlof1

Much like Trump - says one thing then immediately does something else. Only makes sense if in fact is outside thier control.

[Jan 16, 2020] While it might work in domestic politics, this mad man negotiating tactic erodes trust in international affairs and it will take decades for the US to recover from the harm done by Trump's school yard bully approach.

Jan 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Thuto , , January 14, 2020 at 11:48 am

While it might work in domestic politics, this mad man negotiating tactic erodes trust in international affairs and it will take decades for the US to recover from the harm done by Trump's school yard bully approach.

Even the docile Europeans are beginning to tire of this and once they get their balls stitched back on after being castrated for so long, America will have its work cut out crossing the chasm from unreliable and untrustworthy partner to being seen as dependable and worthy of entering into agreements with.

[Jan 15, 2020] Trump and the Mad Negotiator Approach

Notable quotes:
"... Another aspect of Trump's erraticness is making sudden shifts, or what we have called gaslighting. He'll suddenly and radically change his rhetoric, even praise someone he demonized. That if nothing else again is a power play, to try to maintain his position as driving the pacing and content of the negotiations, which again is meant to position his counterparty as in a weaker position, of having to react to his moves, even if that amounts to identifying them as noise. It is a watered-down form of a cult strategy called love bombing (remember that Trump has been described as often being very charming in first meetings, only to cut down the person he met in a matter of days). ..."
"... I would disagree with the "selecting staff" part. I can't really think of any of his appointees to any office while he is president that was a good pick. One worse than the other basically. Maybe in his private dealings he did better, but in public office it's a continuous horror show. Examples like Pence, Haley, "Mad Dog", Bolton, DeVos, his son in law, Pompeo. The list goes on. ..."
"... For me as a foreigner who detests the forever wars and most of the US foreign policy, this is a good thing: the more heavy handed, the more brutal, the more cruel, the more stupid the US policy is, the less is the chance for our euro governments to follow the US in today's war or other policy. ..."
"... They are not inept and incompetent at what they are trying to achieve. The GOP has long sought to privatize government to help the rich get richer and harm anyone who isn't rich by cutting services and making them harder to get. Trumps picks are carrying out that agenda very well. ..."
"... Trump is just a huge crude extension of the usual "exceptional" leaders, much more transparent by not pretending he is any sort of representative of democratic and cooperative values claimed by his predecessors. ..."
"... But what I think is noticeable is that his worst high profile staff picks, while horrible people, are generally those who are under his thumb and so he has control of. ..."
"... He got elected over the dead bodies of just about everyone who counts in the Republican Party. He pretty much did a hostile takeover of the GOP. So his ability to draw on seasoned hands was nil. And on top of that, he is temperamentally not the type to seek the counsel of perceived wise men in and hanging around the party. The people he has kept around are cronies like Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin. ..."
"... The one notably competent person he has attracted and retained is Robert Lightizer, the US Trade Representative ..."
"... oderint, dum metuant ..."
"... Führerprinzip ..."
"... Hitler ran the Third Reich by a system of parallel competition among bureaucratic empire builders of all stripes. Anyone who showed servile loyalty and mouthed his yahoo ideology got all the resources they liked, for any purpose they proposed. But the moment he encountered any form of independence or pushback, he changed horses at once. He left the old group in place, but gave all their resources to a burgeoning new bureaucracy that did things his way. If a State body resisted his will, he had a Party body do it instead. He was continually reaching down 2-3 levels in the org charts, to find some ambitious firecracker willing to suck up to him, and leapfrog to the top. ..."
"... This left behind a complete chaos of rival, duplicated functions, under mainly unfit leaders. And fortunately for the world, how well any of these organizations actually did their jobs was an entirely secondary consideration. Loyalty was all. ..."
"... Hitler sat at the center of all the resource grabbers and played referee. This made everyone dependent on his nod and ensured his continued power. The message was: there are no superiors in the Reich. There is only der Führer, and his favor trumps everything ..."
"... The few over-confident generals he picked, except for Flynn, finally caved when they realized staying was an affront to the honor code they swore to back in OCS or their academy. ..."
"... I don't know how they selected staff in the Reagan years, but lately the POTUS seems to appoint based on who the plutocrats want. As has been noted Bary O took his marching orders from Citigroup if I remember right. I doubt if Trump had even heard of most of the people he appointed prior to becoming president. So at least some of Trump's turnover is due to him firing recommendations from others who didn't turn out how he'd like. That's one reason I didn't get all that upset over the Bolton hiring – I didn't think he'd last a year before Trump canned him. ..."
"... I would say that Trump, not acting in an intelligent way is doing very clever things according to his interests. My opinion is that his actions/negotiations with foreign countries are 100% directed for domestic consumptiom. He does not care at all about international relationships, just his populist "make America great again" and he almost certainly play closest attention to the impact of his actions in US opinion. ..."
"... Classic predatory behaviors: culling the herd and eating the weak. ..."
"... I think Trump understands that one of the basic tactics of negotiation (though forgotten by the Left(tm)) is to set out a maximalist position before the negotiation starts, so that you have room to make compromises later. ..."
"... But in domestic politics, there's no doubt that publicly announcing extreme negotiating positions is a winning tactic. You force the media and other political actors to comment and make counter-proposals, thus dragging the argument more in your direction from the very start. Trump remembers something that his opponents have willfully forgotten: compromise is something you finish with not something you start from . In itself, any given compromise has no particular virtue or value. ..."
"... Today's Democrats want to destroy those social programs you cite. They have wanted to destroy those social programs ever since President Clinton wanted to conspire with "Prime Minister" Gingrich to privatize Social Security. Luckily Monica Lewinsky saved us from that fate. ..."
"... A nominee Sanders would run on keeping Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid in existence. And he would mean it. A nominee Biden might pretend to say it. But he would conspire with the Republicans to destroy them all. ..."
"... The maintenance of fear, chaos and blowback are exACTLY the desired result. Deliberately and on purpose. ..."
"... It also helps him do some things quietly in the background ..."
Jan 15, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Trump and the Mad Negotiator Approach Posted on January 14, 2020 by Yves Smith Trump's numerous character flaws, such as his grandiosity, his lack of interest in the truth, his impulsiveness, his habitual lashing out at critics, have elicited boatloads of disapproving commentary. It's disturbing to see someone so emotional and undisciplined in charge of anything, let alone the United States.

Rather than offer yet more armchair analysis, it might be productive to ask a different question: why hasn't Trump been an abject failure? There are plenty of rich heirs who blow their inheritance or run the family business into the ground pretty quickly and have to knuckle down to a much more modest lifestyle.

Trump's lack of discipline has arguably cost him. The noise regularly made about his business bankruptcies is wildly exaggerated. Most of Trump's bankruptcies were of casinos , and most of those took place in the nasty 1991-1992 recession. He was one of only two major New York City developers not to have to give meaningful equity in some of their properties in that downturn. He even managed to keep Mar-a-Lago and persuaded his lenders to let him keep enough cash to preserve a pretty flashy lifestyle because he was able to persuade them that preserving his brand name was key to the performance of Trump-branded assets.

The idea that Trump couldn't borrow after his early 1990s casino bankruptcies is also false. As Francine McKenna pointed out in 2017 in Donald Trump has had no trouble getting big loans at competitive rates:

The MarketWatch analysis shows a variety of lenders, all big banks or listed specialized finance companies like Ladder Capital, that have provided lots of money to Trump over the years in the forms of short-, medium- and long-term loans and at competitive rates, whether fixed or variable.

"The Treasury yield that matches the term of the loan is the closest starting benchmark for Trump-sized commercial real estate loans," said Robert Thesman, a certified public accountant in Washington state who specializes in real estate tax issues. The 10-year Treasury swap rate is also used and tracks the bonds closely, according to one expert.

Trump's outstanding loans were granted at rates between 2 points over and under the matching Treasury-yield benchmark at inception. That's despite the well-documented record of bankruptcy filings that dot Trump's history of casino investment.

The flip side is that it's not hard to make the case that Trump's self-indulgent style has cost him in monetary terms. His contemporary Steve Ross of The Related Companies who started out in real estate as a tax lawyer putting together Section 8 housing deals, didn't have a big stake like Trump did to start his empire. Ross did have industrialist and philanthropist Max Fisher as his uncle and role model, but there is no evidence that Fisher staked Ross beyond paying for his education . Ross has an estimated net worth of $7.6 billion versus Trump's $3.1 billion.

Despite Trump's heat-seeking-missile affinity for the limelight, we only get snippets of how he has managed his business, like his litigiousness and breaking of labor laws. Yet he's kept his team together and is pretty underleveraged for a real estate owner.

The area where we have a better view of how Trump operates is via his negotiating, where is astonishingly transgressive. He goes out of his way to be inconsistent, unpredictable, and will even trash prior commitments, which is usually toxic, since it telegraphs bad faith. How does this make any sense?

One way to think of it is that Trump is effectively screening for weak negotiating counterparties. Think of his approach as analogous to the Nigerian scam letters and the many variants you get in your inbox. They are so patently fake that one wonders why the fraudsters bother sending them.

But investigators figured that mystery out. From the Atlantic in 2012 :

Everyone knows that Nigerian scam e-mails, with their exaggerated stories of moneys tied up in foreign accounts and collapsed national economies, sound totally absurd, but according to research from Microsoft, that's on purpose .

As a savvy Internet user you probably think you'd never fall for the obvious trickery, but that's the point. Savvy users are not the scammers' target audience, [Cormac] Herley notes. Rather, the creators of these e-mails are targeting people who would believe the sort of tales these scams involve .:

Our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage. Since his attack has a low density of victims the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce false positives. By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor.

Who would want to get in a business relationship with a guy who makes clear early on that he might pull the rug out from under you? Most people would steer clear. So Trump's style, even if he adopted it out of deep-seated emotional needs, has the effect of pre-selecting for weak, desperate counterparties. It can also pull in people who think they can out-smart Trump and shysters who identify with him, as well as those who are prepared to deal with the headaches (for instance, the the business relationship is circumscribed and a decent contract will limit the downside).

Mind you, it is more common than you think for businesses to seek out needy business "partners". For instance, back in the day when General Electric was a significant player in venture capital, it would draw out its investment commitment process. The point was to ascertain if the entrepreneurs had any other prospects; they wouldn't tolerate GE's leisurely process if they did. By the time GE was sure it was the only game in town, it would cram down the principals on price and other terms. There are many variants of this playbook, such as how Walmart treats suppliers.

Trump has become so habituated to this mode of operating that he often launches into negotiations determined to establish that he had the dominant position when that is far from clear, witness the ongoing China trade row. Trump did in theory hold a powerful weapon in his ability to impose tariffs on China. But they are a blunt weapon, with significant blowback to the US. Even though China had a glass jaw in terms of damage to its economy (there were signs of stress, such as companies greatly stretching out when they paid their bills), Trump could not tolerate much of a stock market downdraft, nor could he play a long-term game.

Another aspect of Trump's erraticness is making sudden shifts, or what we have called gaslighting. He'll suddenly and radically change his rhetoric, even praise someone he demonized. That if nothing else again is a power play, to try to maintain his position as driving the pacing and content of the negotiations, which again is meant to position his counterparty as in a weaker position, of having to react to his moves, even if that amounts to identifying them as noise. It is a watered-down form of a cult strategy called love bombing (remember that Trump has been described as often being very charming in first meetings, only to cut down the person he met in a matter of days).

Voters have seen another face of Trump's imperative to find or create weakness: that of his uncanny ability to hit opponents' weak spots in ways that get them off balance, such as the way he was able to rope a dope Warren over her Cherokee ancestry claims.

The foregoing isn't to suggest that Trump's approach is optimal. Far from it. But it does "work" in the sense of achieving certain results that are important to Trump, of having him appear to be in charge of the action, getting his business counterparts on the back foot. That means Trump is implicitly seeing these encounters primarily in win-lose terms, rather than win-win. No wonder he has little appetite for international organizations. You have to give in order to get.


PlutoniumKun , January 14, 2020 at 7:08 am

I think this is pretty astute, thanks Yves. One reason I think Trump has been so successful for his limited range of skills is precisely that 'smart' people underestimate him so much. He knows one thing well – how power works. Sometimes that's enough. I've known quite a few intellectually limited people who have built very successful careers based on a very simple set of principles (e.g. 'never disagree with anyone more senior than me').

Anecdotally, I've often had the conversation with people about 'taking Trump seriously', as in, trying to assess what he really wants and how he has been so successful. In my experience, the 'smarter' and more educated the person I'm talking to is, the less willing they are to have that conversation. The random guy in the bar will be happy to talk and have insights. The high paid professional will just mutter about stupid people and racism.

I would also add one more reason for his success – he does appear to be quite good at selecting staff, and knowing who to delegate to.

timotheus , January 14, 2020 at 8:30 am

There is another figure from recent history who displayed similar astuteness about power while manifesting generally low intelligence: Chile's Pinochet. He had near failing grades in school but knew how to consolidate power, dominate the other members of the junta, and weed out the slightest hint of dissidence within the army.

Off The Street , January 14, 2020 at 9:17 am

To the average viewer, Trump's branding extends to the negative brands that he assigns to opponents. Witness Lyin' Ted , Pocahontas and similar sticky names that make their way into coverage. He induces free coverage from Fake News as if they can't resist gawking at a car wreck, even when one of the vehicles is their own. Manipulation has worked quite a lot on people with different world views, especially when they don't conceive of any different approaches.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 6:52 pm

Scott Adams touted that as one of Trump's hidden persuasionological weapons . . . that ability to craft a fine head-shot nickname for every opponent.

If Sanders were to be nominated, I suppose Trump would keep saying Crazy Bernie. Sanders will just have to respond in his own true-to-himself way. Maybe he could risk saying something like . . .

" so Trashy Trump is Trashy. This isn't new."

If certain key bunches of voters still have fond memories for Crazy Eddie, perhaps Sanders could have some operatives subtly remind people of that.

Some images of Crazy Eddie, for those who wish to stumble up Nostalgia Alley . . .

https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0geKYkLVB5emoUAN6RXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyNm03Y25mBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDQTA2MTVfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=crazy+eddie&fr=sfp

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 9:23 am

I would disagree with the "selecting staff" part. I can't really think of any of his appointees to any office while he is president that was a good pick. One worse than the other basically. Maybe in his private dealings he did better, but in public office it's a continuous horror show. Examples like Pence, Haley, "Mad Dog", Bolton, DeVos, his son in law, Pompeo. The list goes on.

Another indication how bad his delegation skills are is how short his picks stay at their job before they are fired again. Is there any POTUS which had higher staff turnover?

NotTimothyGeithner , January 14, 2020 at 9:45 am

Its a horror show because you don't agree with their values. After the last few Presidents, too much movement to the right would catastrophic, so there isn't much to do. His farm bill is a disaster. The new NAFTA is window dressing. He slashed taxes. He's found a way to make our brutal immigration system even more nefarious. His staff seems to be working out despite it not having many members of the Bush crime family.

Even if these people were as beloved by the press as John McCain, they would still be monsters.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 10:43 am

It's not their values that make them a horror show, it's their plain inaptitude and incompetency. E.g. someone like that Exxon CEO is at least somewhat capable, which is why I didn't mention him. Though he was quite ineffective as long as he lasted and probably quite corrupt. Pompeo in the same office on the other hand is simply a moron elevated way beyond his station. Words fail and the Peter principle cannot explain.

The US can paper over this due to their heavy handed application of power for now, but every day he stays in office, friends are abhorred while trying not to show it, and foes rejoice at the utter stupidity of the US how it helps their schemes.

For me as a foreigner who detests the forever wars and most of the US foreign policy, this is a good thing: the more heavy handed, the more brutal, the more cruel, the more stupid the US policy is, the less is the chance for our euro governments to follow the US in today's war or other policy. So while I am sort of happy about the outcome, I don't see the current monsters at the helm worse than the monsters 4 years ago under Obama. In fact I detested them much more since they had the power to drag my governments into their evil schemes.

Evil and clearly despicable is always better than evil and sort of charismatic.

tegnost , January 14, 2020 at 11:29 am

For me as a foreigner who detests the forever wars and most of the US foreign policy, this is a good thing: the more heavy handed, the more brutal, the more cruel, the more stupid the US policy is, the less is the chance for our euro governments to follow the US in today's war or other policy.

Indeed, if you look at the trendline from the '80's to now, trump is, in some ways, the less effective evil.

James O'Keefe , January 14, 2020 at 1:17 pm

They are not inept and incompetent at what they are trying to achieve. The GOP has long sought to privatize government to help the rich get richer and harm anyone who isn't rich by cutting services and making them harder to get. Trumps picks are carrying out that agenda very well.

That he still hasn't filled 170 appointed positions is icing on the cake. See stats at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-administration-appointee-tracker/database/

rosemerry , January 14, 2020 at 4:47 pm

I feel exactly the same. Trump is just a huge crude extension of the usual "exceptional" leaders, much more transparent by not pretending he is any sort of representative of democratic and cooperative values claimed by his predecessors.

PlutoniumKun , January 14, 2020 at 10:05 am

But what I think is noticeable is that his worst high profile staff picks, while horrible people, are generally those who are under his thumb and so he has control of. But in the behind the scenes activities, they've been very effective – as an obvious example, witness how he's put so many conservative Republicans into the judiciary, in contrast with Obamas haplessness.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 10:51 am

That is not a Trump thing, getting more judges is a 100% rep party thing and only rep party thing. Sure, he is the one putting his rubber stamp on it, but the picking and everything else is a party thing. They stopped the placement for years under Obama before Trump was ever thought about, and now are filling it as fast as they can. Aren't they having complicit democrats helping them or how can they get their picks beyond congress? Or am I getting something wrong and Obama could have picked his judges but didn't?

The people he chooses to run his administration however are all horrible. Not just horrible people but horrible picks as in incompetent buffoons without a clue. Can you show a evil, horrible or not but actually competent pick of his in his administration?

The only one I can think of is maybe the new FAA chief Dickson. Who is a crisis manager, after the FAA is in its worst crisis ever right now. So right now someone competent must have this post. All the others seem to be chickenhawk blowhards with the IQ of a fruitfly but the bluster of a texan.

fajensen , January 14, 2020 at 11:13 am

Gina Haspel? She is probably equally good with a handgun, an ice pick and a pair of pliers.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 11:49 am

Is she effective? What has she done to make her a spy mastermind? She is obviously a torturer, but is that a qualification in any way useful to be a intelligence agency boss?

I have the suspicion Haspel was elevated to their office by threatening "I know where all the bodies are buried (literally) and if you don't make me boss, I will tell". Blackmail can helping a career lots if successful.

Thuto , January 14, 2020 at 11:18 am

The outcomes of incompetence and malicious intent are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. With the people Trump has surrounded himself with, horrible, nasty outcomes are par for the course because these guys are both incompetent and chock full of malicious intent. Instead of draining the swamp, he's gone and filled it with psychotic sociopaths.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:04 pm

Some time ago I heard Mulvaney answer the criticism about the Trump budget of the day cutting so much money from EPA that EPA would have to fire half of its relevant scientists. He replied that " this is how we drain the swamp".

Citing "corruption" was misdirection. Trump let his supporters believe that the corruption was The Swamp. What the Trump Group ACTually means by "The Swamp" is all the career scientists and researchers and etc. who take seriously the analyzing and restraining of Upper Class Looter misbehavior.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 12:28 pm

I limited the post to his negotiating approach. One would think someone so erratic would have trouble attracting people. However, Wall Street and a lot of private businesses are full of high maintenance prima donnas at the top. Some of those operations live with a lot of churn in the senior ranks. For others, one way to get them to stay is what amounts to a combat pay premium, they get paid more than they would in other jobs to put up with a difficult boss. I have no idea how much turnover there is in the Trump Organization or how good his key lieutenants are so I can't opine either way on that part.

Regarding his time as POTUS, Trump has a lot of things working against him on top of his difficult personality and his inability to pay civil servants a hardship premium:

1. He got elected over the dead bodies of just about everyone who counts in the Republican Party. He pretty much did a hostile takeover of the GOP. So his ability to draw on seasoned hands was nil. And on top of that, he is temperamentally not the type to seek the counsel of perceived wise men in and hanging around the party. The people he has kept around are cronies like Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin.

The one notably competent person he has attracted and retained is Robert Lightizer, the US Trade Representative

2. Another thing that undermines Trump's effectiveness in running a big bureaucracy is his hatred for its structure. He likes very lean organizations with few layers. He can't impose that on his administration. It's trying to put a round peg in a square hole.

cocomaan , January 14, 2020 at 1:56 pm

I have no idea how much turnover there is in the Trump Organization or how good his key lieutenants are so I can't opine either way on that part.

Is it just me or does nobody know? Does it seem to anyone else like there has been virtually no investigation of his organization or how it was run?

Maybe it's buried in the endless screeds against Trump, but any investigations of his organizations always seem colored by his presidency. I'd love to see one that's strictly historical.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 2:10 pm

I am simply saying that I have not bothered investigating that issue. There was a NY Times Magazine piece on the Trump Organization before his election. That was where I recall the bit about him hating having a lot of people around him, he regards them as leeches. That piece probably had some info on how long his top people had worked for him.

ObjectiveFunction , January 15, 2020 at 2:30 am

Congratulations Yves, on another fine piece, one of your best. I might recommend you append this comment to it as an update, or else pen a sequel.

While Trump has more in common stylistically with a Borgia prince out of Machiavelli, or a Roman Emperor ( oderint, dum metuant ) than with a Hitler or a Stalin, your note still puts me in mind of an insightful comment I pulled off a history board a while ago, regarding the reductionist essence of Führerprinzip , mass movement or no mass movement. It's mostly out of Shirer:

Hitler ran the Third Reich by a system of parallel competition among bureaucratic empire builders of all stripes. Anyone who showed servile loyalty and mouthed his yahoo ideology got all the resources they liked, for any purpose they proposed. But the moment he encountered any form of independence or pushback, he changed horses at once. He left the old group in place, but gave all their resources to a burgeoning new bureaucracy that did things his way. If a State body resisted his will, he had a Party body do it instead. He was continually reaching down 2-3 levels in the org charts, to find some ambitious firecracker willing to suck up to him, and leapfrog to the top.

This left behind a complete chaos of rival, duplicated functions, under mainly unfit leaders. And fortunately for the world, how well any of these organizations actually did their jobs was an entirely secondary consideration. Loyalty was all.

Hitler sat at the center of all the resource grabbers and played referee. This made everyone dependent on his nod and ensured his continued power. The message was: there are no superiors in the Reich. There is only der Führer, and his favor trumps everything .

As you note, some of these tools (fortunately) aren't available to Cheeto 45 .

I hope this particular invocation of Godwin's avenger is trenchant, and not OT. Although Godwin himself blessed the #Trump=Hitler comparison some time ago, thereby shark-jumping his own meme.

Tomonthebeach , January 14, 2020 at 12:53 pm

It might be as simple as birds of a feather (blackbirds of course) flocking together. Trump seems to have radar for corrupt cronies as we have seen his swamp draining into the federal prison system. The few over-confident generals he picked, except for Flynn, finally caved when they realized staying was an affront to the honor code they swore to back in OCS or their academy.

lyman alpha blob , January 14, 2020 at 2:16 pm

The crooks in the Reagan administration were getting bounced seemingly every other day. Just found this from Brookings (blecchh) which if accurate says Trump has recently surpassed Reagan – https://www.brookings.edu/research/tracking-turnover-in-the-trump-administration/

I don't know how they selected staff in the Reagan years, but lately the POTUS seems to appoint based on who the plutocrats want. As has been noted Bary O took his marching orders from Citigroup if I remember right. I doubt if Trump had even heard of most of the people he appointed prior to becoming president. So at least some of Trump's turnover is due to him firing recommendations from others who didn't turn out how he'd like. That's one reason I didn't get all that upset over the Bolton hiring – I didn't think he'd last a year before Trump canned him.

My recollection of the Reagan years was that he had a lot of staff who left to "spend more time with their families"; in other words they got caught being crooked and we're told to go lest they besmirch the sterling reputation of St. Ronnie.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 6:57 pm

He early-on adopted the concept of "dismantle the Administrative State". Some of his appointees are designed to do that from within. He appoints termites to the Department of Lumber Integrity because he wants to leave the lumber all destroyed after he leaves the White House.

His farm bill is only a disaster to those who support Good Farm Bill Governance. His mission is to destroy as much of the knowledge and programs within the USDA as possible. So his farm bill is designed to achieve the destruction he wants to achieve. If it works, it was a good farm bill from his viewpoint. For example.

Ignacio , January 15, 2020 at 5:38 am

I would say that Trump, not acting in an intelligent way is doing very clever things according to his interests. My opinion is that his actions/negotiations with foreign countries are 100% directed for domestic consumptiom. He does not care at all about international relationships, just his populist "make America great again" and he almost certainly play closest attention to the impact of his actions in US opinion.

He calculates the risks and takes measures that show he is a strong man defending US interests (in a very symplistic and populist way) no matter if someone or many are offended, abused or even killed as we have recently seen. Then if it is appreciated that a limit has been reached, and the limit is not set by international reactions but perceived domestic reactions, he may do a setback showing how sensibly magnanimous can a strongman like him be. In the domestic front, IMO, he does not give a damn on centrists of all kinds. Particularly, smart centrists are strictly following Trumps playbook focusing on actions that by no means debilitate his positioning as strongman in foreign issues and divert attention from the real things that would worry Trump. The impeachment is exactly that. Trump must be 100% confident that he would win any contest with any "smart" centrist. Of course he also loves all the noises he generates with, for instance, the Soleimani killing or Huawei banning that distract from his giveaways to the oligarchs and further debilitation of remaining welfare programs and environmental programs. This measures don't pass totally unnoticed but Hate Inc . and public opinions/debates are not paying the attention his domestic measures deserve. Trump's populism feeds on oligarch support and despair and his policies are designed to keep and increase both. Polls on Democrats distract from the most important polls on public opinion about Trum "surprise" actions.

Trump will go for a third term.

Seamus Padraig , January 14, 2020 at 7:18 am

Trump has the rare gift of being able to drive his enemies insane – just witness what's become of the Democrats, a once proud American political party.

Eureka Springs , January 14, 2020 at 9:39 am

Democrats have long been (what, 50 plus yrs. – Phil Ochs – Love Me I'm A Liberal) exuding false pride of not appearing to be or sounding insane. Their place, being the concern troll of the duopoly. All are mad. If the Obama years didn't prove it, the Dems during Bush Cheney certainly did.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 10:53 am

Yes, 50 years. Nixon played mad to get his Vietnam politics through, Reagan was certifiable "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever." "We begin bombing in five minutes." live on air. Etc.

vlade , January 14, 2020 at 7:38 am

I suspect only half of the post was posted? The last para seems to get cut in mid sentence.

I'd add one more thing (which may be in the second half, assuming there's one). Trump's massively insane demands are a good anchoring strategy. Even semi-rational player will not make out-of-this-earth demands – they would be seen as either undermining their rationality, or clearly meant to only anchor so less effective (but surprisingly, even when we know it's only an anchor it apparently works, at least a bit). With irrational Trump, one just doesn't know.

GramSci , January 14, 2020 at 7:41 am

Classic predatory behaviors: culling the herd and eating the weak.

David , January 14, 2020 at 8:21 am

I think Trump understands that one of the basic tactics of negotiation (though forgotten by the Left(tm)) is to set out a maximalist position before the negotiation starts, so that you have room to make compromises later.

Sometimes this works better than others – I don't know how far you can do it with the Chinese, for example. But then Trump may have inadvertently played, in that case, into the tradition of scripted public utterances combined with behind-the-scenes real negotiation that tends to characterize bargaining in Asia.

But in domestic politics, there's no doubt that publicly announcing extreme negotiating positions is a winning tactic. You force the media and other political actors to comment and make counter-proposals, thus dragging the argument more in your direction from the very start. Trump remembers something that his opponents have willfully forgotten: compromise is something you finish with not something you start from . In itself, any given compromise has no particular virtue or value.

Michael Fiorillo , January 14, 2020 at 8:59 am

Yes, Trump does seem to be very good at getting to people to "negotiate against themselves."

chuck roast , January 14, 2020 at 9:52 am

and that is why Trump will eat Biden's lunch.

The Rev Kev , January 14, 2020 at 9:09 am

There is actually two parts to a negotiation I should mention. There is negotiating a deal. And then there is carrying it out. Not only Trump but the US has shown itself incapable of upholding deals but they will break them when they see an advantage or an opportunity. Worse, one part of the government may be fighting another part of the government and will sabotage that deal in sometimes spectacular fashion.
So what is the point of having all these weird and wonderful negotiating strategies if any partners that you have on the international stage have learned that Trump's word is merely a negotiating tactic? And this includes after a deal is signed when he applies some more pressure to change something in an agreement that he just signed off on? If you can't keep a deal, then ultimately negotiating a deal is useless.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 9:28 am

The incapability of the US to keep their treaties has been a founding principle of the country. Ask any Indian.

Putin or the russian foreign ministry called the US treaty incapable a few years before Trump, and they were not wrong. Trump didn't help being erratic as he is, but he didn't cancel any treaty on his own: JCPOA, INF, etc. He had pretty broad support for all of these. Only maybe NAFTA was his own idea.

timbers , January 14, 2020 at 9:47 am

I'm just not impressed by Trump in any way.

He owes the fact he's President not to any skill he has, but to Democrats being so bad. Many non establishment types could have beaten Hillary.

And Trump owes the fact that he's not DOA in 2020 re-election again because Democrats are so bad. There are a handful of extremely popular social programs Democrats could champion that would win over millions of voters and doom Trump's re-election. But instead, they double down on issues that energize Trump's base, are not off-limits to there donors while ignoring what the broad non corporate/rich majority support. For example impeaching him for being the first recent President not to start a major new war for profit and killing millions and then saying it's really because something he did in Ukraine that 95% of Americans couldn't care less about and won't even bother to understand even if they could.

That leaves the fact he is rather rich and must have done something to become that. I don't know enough about him to evaluate that. But I would never what to know him or have a friend that acts like him. I've avoided people like that in my life.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 12:36 pm

Did you read the post as positive? Please read again. Saying that Trump's strategy works only to the extent that he winds up selecting for weak partners is not praise. First, it is clinical, and second, it says his strategy has considerable costs.

rd , January 14, 2020 at 6:54 pm

I find it interesting that the primary foreign entity who has played Trump like a violin is Kim in North Korea. He has gotten everything he wanted, except sanctions relief over the past couple of years.

However, Trump's style of negotiating with Iran has made it clear to Kim that North Korea would be idiots to give up their nuclear weapons and missiles. Meanwhile, Iran has watched Trump's attitude towards Kim since Kim blew up his first bomb and Trump is forcing them to develop nuclear weapons to be able to negotiate with Trump and the West.

ObjectiveFunction , January 15, 2020 at 1:36 am

But other than the minor matter of US 8th Army (cadre) sitting in the line of fire, the bulk of any risks posed by Li'l Kim are borne by South Korea, Japan and China. So for Trump, it's still down the list a ways, until the Norks can nuke tip a missile and hit Honolulu. So what coup has Kim achieved at Trump's expense, again?

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:13 pm

Today's Democrats want to destroy those social programs you cite. They have wanted to destroy those social programs ever since President Clinton wanted to conspire with "Prime Minister" Gingrich to privatize Social Security. Luckily Monica Lewinsky saved us from that fate.

A nominee Sanders would run on keeping Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid in existence. And he would mean it. A nominee Biden might pretend to say it. But he would conspire with the Republicans to destroy them all.

The ClintoBama Pelosicrats have no standing on which to pretend to support some very popular social programs and hope to be believed any longer. Maybe that is why they feel there is no point in even pretending any more.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 6:42 pm

Mind you, there's no reason to think that this negotiation approach wasn't an adaptation to Trump's emotional volatility, as in finding a way to make what should have been a weakness a plus. And that he's less able to make that adaptation work well as he's over his head, has less control than as a private businessman, and generally under way more pressure.

HH , January 14, 2020 at 11:43 am

I recall reading that Trump's empire would have collapsed during the casino fiasco were it not for lending from his father when credit was not available elsewhere. NYT investigative reporters have turned up evidence of massive financial support from Trump father to son to the tune of hundreds of millions throughout the son's career. So much for the great businessman argument.

carbpow , January 14, 2020 at 11:45 am

Trump is nothing more or less than a reflection of the mind set of the US people. The left wing resorts to the same tactics that Trump uses to gain their ends. Rational thought and reasonable discussion seems to be absent. Everyone is looking for a cause for the country's failing infrastructure, declining life expectancy, and loss of opportunity for their children to have a better life than they were able to achieve.

They each blame the other side. But there are more than two sides to most folks experience. If ever the USA citizens abolish or just gets fed up with the two party system maybe things will change. In reality most people know there is little difference between the two parties so why even vote?

Jeremy Grimm , January 14, 2020 at 12:11 pm

This analysis of Trump reminded me of a story I heard from the founders of a small rural radio station. Both had been in broadcasting for years at a large station in a major market, one as a program director and the other in sales. They competed for a broadcasting license that became available and they won.

With the license in-hand they needed to obtain investments to get the station on-air within a year or they would lose the license. Even with their combined savings and as much money as they could obtain from other members of their families and from friends -- they were short what they needed by several hundred thousand dollars.

Their collateral was tapped out and banks wouldn't loan on the broadcast license alone without further backing. They had to find private investors. They located and presented to several but their project could find no backers. In many cases prospects told them their project was too small -- needed too little money -- to be of interest. As the deadline for going on-air loomed they were put in touch with a wealthy local farmer.

After a long evening presenting their business case to this farmer in ever greater detail, he sat back and told them he would give them the money they needed to get their station on-air -- but he wanted a larger interest in the business than what they offered him. He wanted a 51% interest -- a controlling interest -- or he would not give them the money, and they both had to agree to work for the new radio station for a year after it went on-air.

The two holders of the soon to be lost broadcast license looked at each other and told the farmer he could keep his money and left. The next day the farmer called on the phone and gave them the names and contact information for a few investors, any one of whom should be able and interested in investing the amounts they needed on their terms. He also told them that had they accepted his offer he would have driven them out of the new station before the end of the year it went on-air. He said he wanted to see whether they were 'serious' before putting them in touch with serious investors.

juliania , January 14, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Sorry, assassination doesn't fit into this scenario. That is a bridge too far. Trump has lost his effectiveness by boasting about this. It isn't just unpredictability. It is dangerous unpredictability.

Yves Smith Post author , January 15, 2020 at 5:52 am

I never once said that Trump was studied in how he operates, in fact, I repeatedly pointed out that he's highly emotional and undisciplined. I'm simply describing some implications.

meadows , January 14, 2020 at 12:28 pm

If our corrupt Congress had not ceded their "co-equal" branch of gov't authority over the last 40 years thereby gradually creating the Imperial Presidency that we have now, we might comfortably mitigate much of the mad king antics.

Didn't the Founding Fathers try desperately to escape the terrible wars of Europe brought on by the whims and grievances of inbred kings, generation after generation? Now on a whim w/out so much as a peep to Congress, presidential murder is committed and the CongressCritters bleat fruitlessly for crumbs of info about it.

I see no signs of this top-heavy imperialism diminishing. Every decision will vanish into a black hole marked "classified."

I am profoundly discouraged at 68 who at 18 years old became a conscientious objector, that the same undeclared BS wars and BS lies are used to justify continuous conflct almost nonstop these last 50 years as if engaging in such violence can ever be sucessful in achieving peaceful ends? Unless the maintenance of fear, chaos and blowback are the actual desired result.

Trump's negotiating style is chaos-inducing deliberately, then eventually a "Big Daddy" Trump can fix the mess, spin the mess and those of us still in the thrall of big-daddyism can feel assuaged. It's the relief of the famiy abuser who after the emotional violence establishes a temporary calm and family members briefly experience respite, yet remain wary and afraid.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:34 pm

Bingo!

The maintenance of fear, chaos and blowback are exACTLY the desired result. Deliberately and on purpose.

Jeff Wells of Rigorous Intuition wrote a post about that years ago, in a different context. Here it is.

https://rigint.blogspot.com/2006/07/violent-bear-it-away.html

xkeyscored , January 15, 2020 at 5:42 am

It also helps him do some things quietly in the background
I think you've hit the nail on the head there.

KFritz , January 14, 2020 at 10:17 pm

Kim Jong Un uses similar tactics, strategy, perhaps even style. Clinically and intellectually, it's interesting to watch their interaction. Emotionally, given their weaponry, it's terrifying.

Jason , January 15, 2020 at 9:15 am

Great post! The part about selecting for desperate business partners is very insightful, it makes his cozying up to dictators and pariah states much more understandable. He probably thinks/feels that these leaders are so desperate for approval from a country like the US that, when he needs something from them, he will have more leverage and be able to impose what he wants.

[Jan 14, 2020] The EU is a hopeless vassal of the US. It doesn't matter if the EU is agreement capable or not. They have no sovereignty to begin with.

Notable quotes:
"... Deal finishes October 2020 if I remember correctly. All sanctions will be lifted so long as Iran is in compliance at that time. This is a move to prevent this. ..."
"... Obviously, Merkel doesn't have the political strength to nix Nordstream 2. Until she's replaced by someone with greater vision, EU and German policy won't change toward Iran. IMO, the trio don't amount to the level of poodles as they're known to have courage. The Trio proudly display the fact that they're 100% Cowards. ..."
"... The EU cannot lead in anything - it is a completely owned and operated US tool. It is a big zero in providing humanity any help with the big problem of our time: the 'indispensable and exceptional' supremacist US. ..."
Jan 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Nemo , Jan 14 2020 19:35 utc | 1

Be fair. It doesn't matter if the EU is agreement capable or not. They have no sovereignty to begin with. It is known.

powerandpeople , Jan 14 2020 19:37 utc | 2

Deal finishes October 2020 if I remember correctly. All sanctions will be lifted so long as Iran is in compliance at that time. This is a move to prevent this.
BraveNewWorld , Jan 14 2020 19:41 utc | 3
I always learn some thing here. For example imagine my surprise to learn the EU had a reputation worth protecting. All you need to know about the EU is bitches will do what bitches are told. This is just one more step on the road to war with China, is that really what the citizens of the EU want? Are the people of the EU ready to die for the Trump and the Republican party?
Ghost Ship , Jan 14 2020 19:42 utc | 4
Nemo @ 1

You forget that on the day the UK leaves the EU it recovers full sovereignty. Well at least Boris Johnson claimed it would.

Realist , Jan 14 2020 19:49 utc | 6
Think tanks, think tanks, think tanks. In 2009, the Brookings Institute's paper Which Path to Persia, proposed offering Iran a very good deal and then sabotaging it. Good cop, Obama, bad cop, Trump. Mission accomplished.
winston2 , Jan 14 2020 19:50 utc | 7
Only a matter of when and how. The warmongers have Trumps balls in a vice, he can't even resign without making it worse by letting Pence take over. The art of the squeal, very high pitched is whats happening in DC.
Heath , Jan 14 2020 19:51 utc | 8
1st of all The UK was always going to side with DC over Iran. 2ndly for France and Germany they probably aren't ready to put themselves plus their EU partners in the US doghouse for Iran. When they break it will be a time of their own choosing.
Likklemore , Jan 14 2020 19:52 utc | 9
Thanks b, for this detailed coverage of the 3 wimps' efforts to kill JCPOA. You did not disappoint. Love the image showing mother residing in "occupied Palestine" .. (term coined by MoA barfly)

I commented in the previous post, Russia warned of unintended consequences LINK

Moscow is calling on the European parties to the Iran nuclear deal not to escalate tensions and to abandon their decision to trigger the treaty's Dispute Resolution Mechanism, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

"We strongly urge the Eurotroika [of parties to the JCPOA] not to inflame tensions and to abandon any steps which call the prospects of the nuclear deal's future into question. Despite all the challenges it has faced, the JCPOA has not lost its relevance," the ministry said in a statement.

OTH
Trumps impeachment trial begins next Tuesday

so the focus shifts BUT

what do we make of this?

Court in Ukraine orders investigation of Poroshenko, Obama administration members

Ex-US vice-president, Joseph Biden is also suspected of corruption, according to a member of the Ukrainian parliament

KIEV, January 14. /TASS/. Ukraine's Supreme Anti-Corruption Court has obliged the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) to launch a probe into seizure of government power and corruption suspicions. The cases mention the names of the United States' 44th president, Barack Obama, former Ukrainian president, Pyotr Poroshenko and ex-US vice-president, Joseph Biden, a member of the Ukrainian parliament from the Opposition Platform - For Life party, Renat Kuzmin, said[.]

"investigate the suspicions over the seizure of government power in Ukraine and of the embezzlement of state budget money and international financial assistance by members of the Obama administration"

that's what the man said.

Russ , Jan 14 2020 19:53 utc | 10
If it ever was possible to sign a treaty with the US and expect them to abide by it, it hasn't been possible for a long time. Here as everywhere else, Trump merely openly proclaims the systemic lawlessness he shares with the rest of the US political class. (His contemptuous withdrawal from the JCPOA never has been one of the things the establishment and media criticize him for.)

For as long as US imperial power lasts, anyone who doesn't want to be a poodle (or to get regime-changed because they foolishly attempt to sit the fence) has to accept that there can be no legitimate agreements with the US or its poodles. If you sign a treaty with them, you have to view it exactly the same way you know they do, as nothing but propaganda, otherwise not worth the paper it's written on. No doubt North Korea, if they were in any doubt before, registered how Trump and the US media immediately proceeded to systematically lie about the agreement they'd supposedly just concluded, before the ink was even dry.

Here's hoping that if Iran was in any doubt before, they too are getting the message: As far as the US and Europe are concerned, the only purpose of the JCPOA is to serve as a weapon against them.

Pnyx , Jan 14 2020 19:53 utc | 11
Face it B, there will be blood. It's a matter of time. It's unavoidable. The empire will force its own destruction - and perhaps the rest of humanity's. The demons of nihilism will prevail. (Sounds like I have been hearing death metal. I swear I did not. And I not under the influence either.)
les7 , Jan 14 2020 19:53 utc | 12
The Oct 2020 deadline is important for more than one reason- Irans application to the SCO is being held up because of it. The SCO membership would obligate support from countries like India in response to politically motivated sanctions.
karlof1 , Jan 14 2020 19:54 utc | 13
Surprised at Germany since Merkel just met with Putin. When I read of this earlier this morning, that it's based on lies was 100% clear, that the trio are feckless and deserve all the social instability that will soon come their way. Why did I mention social instability:

Breaking :

"US, Japan, EU seek new global rules limiting subsidies."

Thus begging this question : "Does that include all the free money printing from central banks and repo market interventions?"

And why would the Fed need to do this at a time of the greatest Bull Market of all time:

"The Fed is considering a plan to allow them to lend cash DIRECTLY TO HEDGE FUNDS in order to ease the REPO Crisis. [Emphasis original]

"Where is 'bailing out private investment funds' in their alleged 'dual mandate'?"

Which gets us back to the reason Iran's targeted: Because it lies outside the dollar economy, refuses to engage in petrodollar recycling, and has a quasi-socialist economy with no private banking. Plus, we now see that Iraq will pursue evicting NATO and Outlaw US Empire forces and likely join the Arc of Resistance's/Iran's policies which are what the Outlaw US Empire went to war over to begin with.

Obviously, Merkel doesn't have the political strength to nix Nordstream 2. Until she's replaced by someone with greater vision, EU and German policy won't change toward Iran. IMO, the trio don't amount to the level of poodles as they're known to have courage. The Trio proudly display the fact that they're 100% Cowards.

Heath , Jan 14 2020 19:57 utc | 14
@ realist 6. basically it boils down to giving Barry a foreign policy award like getting the Nobel gong.

AriusArmenian , Jan 14 2020 19:58 utc | 15

The EU is a hopeless craven vassal of the US. The US dropping out of the JCPOA was the acid test which the EU has spectacularly failed. We are in a historical pivot with the rise of the coalescing multifarious East which is forcing the EU to make a decision: stay under the US wing, go it alone, or ally with the East. The EU seems to know it at least should get more distance between itself and the US but every time there is a major geopolitical event it starts to talk like it is going independent but then always drops back into the US hand. How many times does this have to happen for us to admit what the EU is about?

The EU cannot lead in anything - it is a completely owned and operated US tool. It is a big zero in providing humanity any help with the big problem of our time: the 'indispensable and exceptional' supremacist US.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Jan 14 2020 19:58 utc | 15

Brad , Jan 14 2020 20:00 utc | 16
If we accept that EU nations lack sovereignty and go further to suggest that such nations are more simulations than real, what would an analysis of such events as the fallout from the demise of the JCPOA look like? How should one talk about international events when corporate sovereignty and oligarchical decision making are the real? How would we describe this exact context based not on the simulation but on the real workings of power?
Nemo , Jan 14 2020 20:04 utc | 17
Yes indeed! At least blighty knows the score! The leash is no place for the British bulldog. When brexit is complete they will be free to crawl straight up muricas bum! Lol!
alaff , Jan 14 2020 20:07 utc | 18
Haha, great drawing. This pile on the left is incomparable. But the picture is incomplete - there is not enough proudly walking in front of the masters of a small Polish poodle with a bone in his teeth.

Agree with Nemo, #1. This is a matter of sovereignty. At the moment, European countries are not sovereign, and, btw, this is a kind of double non-sovereignty: the submission of a separate European country to the Americans, plus the submission of the same country to a Brussels bureaucracy called the EU leadership. What independent, bold decisions can we talk about? None.

The once great Europe...

[Jan 07, 2020] The United States, like Israel, has become a pariah that shreds, violates or absents itself from international law

Jan 07, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

The United States, like Israel, has become a pariah that shreds, violates or absents itself from international law. We launch preemptive wars, which under international law is defined as a "crime of aggression," based on fabricated evidence. We, as citizens, must hold our government accountable for these crimes. If we do not, we will be complicit in the codification of a new world order, one that would have terrifying consequences. It would be a world without treaties, statutes and laws. It would be a world where any nation, from a rogue nuclear state to a great imperial power, would be able to invoke its domestic laws to annul its obligations to others. Such a new order would undo five decades of international cooperation -- largely put in place by the United States -- and thrust us into a Hobbesian nightmare. Diplomacy, broad cooperation, treaties and law, all the mechanisms designed to civilize the global community, would be replaced by savagery.

Chris Hedges, an Arabic speaker, is a former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. He spent seven years covering the region, including Iran.

[Jan 06, 2020] Diplomacy Trump-style. Al Capone probably would be allow himself to fall that low

Highly recommended!
Jan 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Fec , Jan 5 2020 15:23 utc | 3

"We have learned today from #Iraq Prime Minister AdilAbdl Mahdi how @realDonaldTrump uses diplomacy:
#US asked #Iraq to mediate with #Iran. Iraq PM asks #QassemSoleimani to come and talk to him and give him the answer of his mediation, Trump &co assassinate an envoy at the airport."

https://twitter.com/ejmalrai/status/1213833855754485762

[Jan 06, 2020] Now I know for sure that the US government spreads shameless lies, so you can't believe anything it says.

Notable quotes:
"... So, I did not see it as a war crime back then, but I do now. ..."
Jan 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

AnonFromTN , says: Show Comment January 5, 2020 at 10:22 pm GMT

@ChuckOrloski At the time I thought that it might be justified, if Al Qaida actually did 9/11. Now I know that Al Qaida was and is a CIA operation and have my doubts regarding its involvement in 9/11.

Even if it was, that was on direct orders of its American handlers.

What's more, now I know for sure that the US government spreads shameless lies, so you can't believe anything it says. In fact, you can safely assume that everything it says is a lie and be right 99.9% of the time.

So, I did not see it as a war crime back then, but I do now.

[Jan 01, 2020] After Exceptionalism by Lawrence, Patrick

Jan 01, 2020 | raritanquarterly.rutgers.edu

At four-thirty in the afternoon of Saturday, 4 April 2009, Barack Obama stood before a throng of correspondents in the Palais de la Musique et des Congrès, a high-Modernist convention center on the place de Bordeaux in Strasbourg. It was his seventy-fourth day as president. He had earlier attended his first Group of 20 meeting, in London, and had just emerged from his first NATO summit, a two-day affair that featured sessions on both sides of the Franco–German border. The world was still intently curious as to who America's first black president was and what, exactly, he stood for.

Confident, easeful, entirely in command, Obama spoke extemporaneously for several minutes. He spoke of "careful cooperation and collective action" within the Atlantic alliance. He noted "a sense of common purpose" among its leaders. He was there "to listen, to learn, and to lead," Obama said, "because all of us have a responsibility to do our parts."

Then came the questions.

There was one about the global financial crisis Obama had walked into as soon as he walked into the White House. ("All of us have to take important steps to deal with economic growth.") There was one about NATO troops in Afghanistan, and another about whether any would be deployed in Pakistan. There was an awkward question about a new law passed in Kabul that restricted women's rights in public places and effectively condoned child marriages. "What, about the character of this law," an American television correspondent wanted to know, "ought to motivate US forces to fight and possibly die in Afghanistan?" Obama parried the question with impressively presidential aplomb: the law is abhorrent, he said, but American troops are highly motivated to protect the United States.

Another question came from the Washington correspondent of the Financial Times. It was a little long-winded and is reproduced in the transcript thus: "In the context of all the multilateral activity this week -- the G-20, here at NATO -- and your evident enthusiasm for multilateral frameworks, could I ask you whether you subscribe, as many of your predecessors have, to the school of American exceptionalism that sees America as uniquely qualified to lead the world, or do you have a slightly different philosophy? And if so, would you be able to elaborate on it?"

This is known in the trade as a softball, the kind of gently lobbed query that sets up a public figure to dilate safely and at length on a favored theme. And so did Obama field it. From the transcript, one half wonders whether the president and the correspondent had rehearsed the moment beforehand -- as if Obama were keen to take on the matter in a cosmopolitan setting.

"I believe in American exceptionalism," the new president said spryly, "just as I suspect the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Obama waxed on in this vein for a moment or two before praising, yet again, alliances and many-sided modes of cooperation. "We create partnerships," he concluded, "because we can't solve these problems alone."

Like an incoming tide flowing over rocks, the questions from the press returned to troop counts, NATO contributions, and Albania's accession as the alliance's newest member. No one seemed to take much note of either the FT man's inquiry or Obama's reply to it. And no one, not even America's new president, seemed to grasp what had just happened to exceptionalism, that peculiarly awkward term with its peculiarly ideological load. Something broke at that moment. It was as if Obama had dropped a precious relic, some centuries-old crystal chalice, and no one present heard the noise when it shattered.

The noise came soon enough and echoed for the remainder of Obama's eight years in office. The stars of right-wing media were among the first to start in. Sean Hannity pounced within a couple of days of the Strasbourg remark. Obama, the Fox News presenter declared, "marginalized his own country by saying our sense of exceptionalism is no different than that of the British and the Greeks." An upstart assistant editor at the New Republic took a swing a few days later. "If all countries are 'exceptional,' then none are," James Kirchick wrote, "and to claim otherwise robs the word, and the idea of American exceptionalism, of any meaning."

It went on from there, an ever-available suggestion that Obama's patriotism must be held in doubt, that he was not truly "one of us." It was not difficult to hear the worst of these recurring remarks as racism at a single remove.

"Our president," Mitt Romney asserted as he sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, "doesn't have the same feeling about American exceptionalism that we do." Three years later, another conservative presidential aspirant, the mercifully forgettable Bobby Jindal, swung his mallet to make the bell ring: "This is a president who won't proudly proclaim American exceptionalism," the Louisiana governor charged, "maybe the first president ever who truly doesn't believe in that."

Obama seemed haunted after that afternoon in Strasbourg. It was as if he had strayed beyond the fence posts defining what an American leader can and cannot say -- and then hastened to return to the fold. Thenceforth, he missed few chances to counter his critics. "My entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism," he said in direct reply to Romney. On another occasion: "I'm a firm believer in American exceptionalism." And another -- this time in a commencement address at West Point: "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being." He pursued the theme until the very end of his presidency, a point to which I will return.

None of this -- the president's critics, the president's ripostes -- did much good, if any, for the abiding notion of American exceptionalism, whichever of its numerous meanings one may subscribe to. These past years have been peculiar in this way. Others may read the matter differently, but to me that afternoon in Strasbourg was a point of departure long in coming. Since then it has made no difference, none at all, whether one faults Obama or anyone else for failing to believe in our exceptional standing or whether one professes belief to the bottom of one's soul.

All that is said now comes to the same thing, making for a devastating dialectic. However the question is addressed, it reiterates the same lapse, the same telling self-consciousness, the same self-doubt, the same collective anxiety long evident to anyone able to discern with detachment the sentiments common to many Americans. Obama had it right, of course, that day in Strasbourg. Having lived among the Chinese, the Japanese, and others given to pronounced variants of chosen-people consciousness, I conclude he had settled on the only logical way at the matter. All nations are exceptional, but none, not even America, is exceptionally exceptional. The irate young editor at the New Republic had it right, too, though he seemed not to have known it: whatever Obama's intent (a question I will also take up later), he had indeed stripped bare America's customary claim to exceptionalist standing, exposing it at last as empty of all but the most mythical meanings.

This was an immensely constructive thing to do. Is it too much to suggest that shattering the glass chalice might in the long run rank among our forty-fourth president's most consequential accomplishments? I do not think so. History, the kind Obama made in Strasbourg, sometimes resembles what Auden wrote of suffering in "Musée des Beaux Arts": it occurs in the most ordinary circumstances such that very few of us even take note.

To risk a generality, Americans had been an uncertain people -- nervous, defensive, given to overcompensation for never-to-bementioned failures and weaknesses -- for a long time before Obama spoke in Alsace in the spring of 2009. I trace this shared-by-many attribute to another April, this one thirty-four years earlier, that wrenchingly poignant season when Americans sat in frozen silence as news footage showed them helicopters hovering above the embassy in Saigon -- the frenzy of a final retreat. For now, it is enough to note that Obama's observation -- a touch offhand and as simple as it was obvious -- marked the moment Americans would have to begin rotating their gaze, in a gesture not short of historic for its import, if they were to do at all well in the new century. They would have to turn from a past decorated with many enchanting ornaments toward a future that has no ribbons or laurels for those who claim them by virtue of some providentially conferred right.

Obama left Americans with questions on the day I describe. They require us -- and I think by design -- to begin talking of what I will call postexceptionalism. A set of questions we must pose to ourselves for the first time: this was Obama's true legacy, in my view. In the best of outcomes, we will learn to answer them in a new language, as the best answers will require. What will be the nature of a postexceptionalist America? Who will these postexceptionalist Americans be? How will they understand themselves and themselves among others? It may be that the questions Obama so fleetingly raised will turn out to run deeper still. What will remain of Americans once the belief that they are chosen is subtracted -- as inevitably it will be. What will be left with which they can describe themselves to themselves? Can a postexceptionalist America come to be? Given the chasm in their consciousness that must be crossed, is such a thing even conceivable? Will Americans accept another idea of themselves and of others? Or will they continue to pretend against all evidence that the chalice remains intact, unshattered, still to be held high above the heads of others atop our city on a hill, even as the rest of the world has somewhere to get to and proceeds on, calmly or otherwise, as best it can?

It is common enough to locate the origins of America's self-image in the thoughts of the earliest settlers coming across the Atlantic from England. It was John Winthrop, in his famous 1630 sermon, who gave us our hilltop city, he who proclaimed "the eies of all people are uppon us." Even in this seminal occasion we detect a claim -- maybe the earliest -- to exceptional status. But it is to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as America made itself a nation, that we have to look for the grist of the exceptionalist notion. And instantly we find a confusion of meanings. To some it referred to the new nation's revolutionary history, its institutions, and its democratic ideals: it had ideational connotations.

This line of thinking has since been stenciled onto history such that other readings can be somewhat obscured. In his Letters from an American Farmer, Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur cast the American as a "new man," exceptional for his stoic self-reliance and autonomy. In its early years, the nation was also counted exceptional for its abundant land and resources. And we should not forget the influence on the founding generation of the French physiocrats, who considered farming the fundament of all wealth, as we consider the case for this interpretation. New and evolving meanings attaching to the term have tumbled down the decades and centuries ever since, often with claims to providential dispensation, often (as the FT correspondent suggested) asserting a divinely assigned mission to lead all others.

Alexis de Tocqueville is commonly credited as the first to describe Americans as exceptional. This is fine, but let us not miss what he meant:

The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin, their exclusively commercial habits, even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts, the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism, a thousand special causes. . .have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the Americans upon purely practical objects.

It is a rather less elevated description of our exceptionalism than is customarily assumed. Long has been the journey, then, from Tocqueville's time to ours, exceptionalism having gone from observation to thought to article of faith, ideological imperative, a presumption of eternal success, and a claim to stand above the law that governs all other nations. Historians note the odd irony that it was Stalin who brought the term "American exceptionalism" into common use. This was in the late 1920s, when a faction of American Communists advised Moscow that the nation's abundance and the absence of clearly drawn class distinctions rendered it immune to the contradictions Marx saw in capitalism.

Stalin was incensed: how dare those Americans stray from orthodoxy by declaring their nation an exception to it? While the Soviet leader flung the term back indignantly, many American intellectuals considered it "an inspired encapsulation of 160 years of impeccable national history." This phrase belongs to David Levering Lewis, the biographer of W. E. B. Du Bois, who was among the first prominent critics of the notion that America and its people were in any way singular or in any way not subject to the turning of history's wheel. Du Bois found the source of our modern idea of exceptionalism in the postbellum decades leading up to the Spanish-American War.

Two visions of the American future emerged after the Civil War, he observed in Black Reconstruction in America: 1860–1880, his 1935 history of African American contributions to the postwar period -- and a purposeful challenge to white-supremacist orthodoxies. In one of these renderings, America would at last achieve the democracy expressed in its founding ideals. The other pictured an advanced industrial nation whose distinctions were its wealth and potency. Democracy at home, empire abroad: when combined, these two versions of America's destiny were to be something new under the sun, and this amalgam would make America history's truly great exception.

This was never more than an impossible dream. Du Bois considered it "the cant of exceptionalism," in his biographer's phrase, intended primarily to deflect the realities of the Great Depression.

It was a mere six years after Du Bois brought out his book when Henry Luce declared the twentieth "the American century" in a noted Life magazine editorial. America was "the most powerful and vital nation in the world," the celebrated publisher announced. It is "our duty and our opportunity to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." Maybe only the offspring of missionaries could write with such righteous confidence of dominance and purity of intent in combination. But Luce, without using the phrase, had neatly defined American exceptionalism in its twentieth-century rendering. And from his day to ours, that aspect of it we can consider religious has grown only more evident among its apostles.

Jimmy Carter caught the post-Vietnam mood perfectly (perfectly to a fault, as it turned out) when he delivered his noted "malaise" speech in mid-July 1979. Carter never used the wounding word. His actual title was "A Crisis of Confidence," and he made his point in vivid terms. "It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will," Carter explained on America's television screens. He spoke of "the growing doubt about the meaning of our lives." He spoke of "years filled with shock and tragedy," and of "paralysis, stagnation, and drift."

This was a presentation of remarkable candor by any measure. Carter told Americans, in so many words, that they could not count on any preordained destiny or that they were always assured of success simply because of who they were. "First of all, we must face the truth," Carter said, "and then we can change our course." To change our course: this phrase alone warrants considerable thought. Among the fundamental conceits of the exceptionalist creed is that America has always had it right and has no need to change anything. The national task is simply to carry on as it has from its beginning. Carter's challenge to such assumptions could hardly have been bolder, although he seems to have been careful to avoid explicit reference to exceptionalism. This would have to wait for Obama.

If the courage of Carter's honesty lies beyond question, so does the mistake he made when we judge the malaise speech in purely political terms. The public initially received it positively. But four years after America's humiliating defeat in Vietnam, Americans could not but suspect that there was nothing exceptional about them or their nation. It was as if the floorboards were trembling beneath their feet. And as it turned out, Americans did not much want to hear their president confirm these suspicions and sensations so plainly.

Ronald Reagan understood this. If the project was the rehabilitation of America's exceptionalist status, his first task after taking office in 1981 was to transform the Vietnam War into "an American tragedy." So did Reagan proceed. In a matter of a few years, he recast Americans as Vietnam's victims, its aggressors no longer. His "Vietnam," quotation marks required, was a place where valorous Americans fought and sacrificed on freedom's front lines. This inversion must be counted an extraordinary feat, one requiring a manipulation of past events not short of astonishing for its wholesale distortions. Christian Appy, the historian of Vietnam as it evolved in the American consciousness, put it this way in a note sent some years ago: "Reagan gave Americans psychological permission to forget or mangle history to feel better about the country."

If American exceptionalism had not previously been a faith, Reagan set about making it one. As president he breathed extraordinary new life into the old credenda -- notably in his famous references to Winthrop's "city on a hill," each one a misuse of the phrase. He quoted it coming and going -- on the eve of his 1980 victory over Carter, in his farewell address nine years later, and on near-countless occasions in between.

I recall those years vividly, oddly enough because I was abroad during almost all of them. On each visit back there seemed to be more American flags in evidence -- above front doors, on people's lapels, in the rear windows of cars, in television advertisements. By the mid- 1980s the nation seemed enraptured in a spell of hyperpatriotism Reagan had conjured with the skill of the performer he never ceased to be. The stunningly rude conduct of American spectators at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles made plain to me that Reagan had set the nation on a path that was bound to deliver it into isolation and decline. "Patriotism" has ever since been a polite synonym for nationalism of a pernicious kind.

To me this turn in national sentiment reiterated precisely what it was intended to refute: America was still the nervous nation Carter had described. It is difficult nonetheless to overstate the import of what Reagan did by way of all his images and poses. He did not restore America's confidence in itself after Vietnam; in my estimation no American leader from Reagan's day to ours has accomplished this. Reagan's feat was to persuade an entire nation, or at least most of the electorate, that it was all right to pretend: all was affect and imagery.

As if to counter Carter's very words, he licensed Americans to avoid facing the truth of defeat and failure and professed principle betrayed. He demonstrated in his words and demeanor that greatness could be acted out even after it was lost as spectacularly as it had been in Indochina. Beyond his face-off with "the evil empire," "Star Wars," "the magic of the marketplace," and so on, Reagan's importance as our fortieth president lay in his intuitive grasp of social psychology. He understood: many Americans, enough to elect a president, prefer to feel and believe more than they like to think. It was "morning in America," and all one had to do was have faith in the man who said so. "One of the most important casualties of the Vietnam tragedy," Henry Kissinger reflected on the twenty-fifth anniversary of our defeat, "was the tradition of American exceptionalism." Kissinger erred in his estimation: the tradition had many years of life left after 1975, as should now be plain. He did not understand either what exceptionalism is or its purpose. Du Bois did, by contrast: he saw in the 1930s that American exceptionalism was sheer artifice, invoked most vigorously when contradicting realities threatened to intrude upon the national mythology. Reagan made use of it in precisely this fashion.

We still live, roughly speaking, with the version of exceptionalism Reagan crafted to evade the verities of our Vietnam debacle. This is an immense pity, the consequences of which are hardly calculable. Defeat is the mulch of renewal -- provided one has the strength of character to acknowledge it. Was this not Carter's implicit point? Defeat gives the vanquished an occasion to reflect, to draw lessons, to reimagine themselves, to pursue a new way forward. There are numerous examples of this in history. The twentieth-century fates of Germany and Japan are of an order all their own, but they serve well enough to illustrate the point: after downfall comes regeneration. Fail to "face the truth" -- Carter's well-chosen phrase -- and one must count defeat evaded a lost opportunity of fateful magnitude.

In the American case one must look backward and forward from the defeat in Vietnam to grasp the full measure of Reagan's destructive happy talk. April 1975 was a moment Americans could have begun to look squarely at their many betrayals in history -- of others and of themselves -- in the name of exceptionalism. Illusions nursed for three centuries could have been abandoned in favor of a new past more fully and honestly understood. Looking forward, there would have been no more coups and interventions -- no Angola, no Nicaragua, no Iraq, no Libya, no Syria, no Ukraine, no Venezuela -- the list is as long as it is shameful. Americans could have "changed course." The defeat in Vietnam, to make this point another way, could have launched us into our postexceptionalist era -- which, I am convinced, was Carter's intent in 1979 as much as it was Obama's thirty years later.

Jimmy Carter, fair to say, was voted out of office in part for his never-quite-stated suggestion that Americans reconsider their claim to exceptional status among nations. He left the White House with a reputation as a muddle-headed weakling (and now awaits his revisionist historian, in my view). Obama had better luck managing his predicament after his remark in Strasbourg. He simply retreated into incessant professions of belief. This, too, marks an opportunity foregone. When he endorsed Hillary Clinton at the Democratic convention in 2016, Obama went straight back to Reagan, believe it or not, invoking Winthrop by way of the Great Communicator's "shining city on a hill."

Plus ça change, one might conclude. But this would not be quite right. If Carter and Obama discovered the hard way that exceptionalism remains a precious relic in American politics, they also left a mark on it. We can now speak of hard exceptionalism and a soft alternative. Carter did the spadework, but prior to Obama's presidency, any such distinction was incipient at best. After Strasbourg, Obama proceeded as if Humpty Dumpty could be put back together again. We all know how the old nursery rhyme turns out.

The hard variety derives from Reagan, who drew on Henry Luce's do-what-we-want, where-we-want, how-we-want notion of American preeminence and power. It is subject neither to international law nor, when all the varnish is scraped away, ordinary standards of morality. This is the version of the creed advanced in Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America, the 2015 book by Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney, the former vice-president's daughter. The historical record is unblemished, in their telling. Vietnam was wise, Iraq in 2003 was wise, the use of torture after 2001 was just.

Against this we find counterposed the more humane (if finally more cynical) version of exceptionalism put forward by Obama and many others on what passes, remarkably enough, for "the Left" in American politics. Gone is the Reaganesque jingoism and the whiff of Old Testament righteousness characteristic of conservative renderings. In their place we find "plain and humble people. . .coming together to shape their country's course," as Obama put it at the Philadelphia convention. On the foreign policy side, this is a nation that admits its mistakes while leading the world in pursuit of "shared interests and values" -- a key phrase in the lexicon -- by way of those partnerships Obama mentioned in Strasbourg. America's conduct abroad must be rooted in the same humility characteristic of its people -- the people ever busy shaping the nation's course.

Taken together, these two versions of America as it looks in the mirror are nothing if not reiterations of the post–Civil War binary Du Bois astutely identified -- empire and democracy. In the middle of them sits Donald Trump. Having no use at all for exceptionalism, he is the first president in our modern history simply to shrug it off and survive the judgment. "I don't like the term," Trump said at a fundraising event in 2015. "I don't think it's a very nice term. 'We're exceptional, you're not.'" Whatever else one may think of him, Trump is to be credited on this point. Implicit in his position is the reality that Americans are as subject to history as any other people.

Jake Sullivan, a prominent adviser in the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff at State, voiced a view on the soft side in the January 2019 edition of the Atlantic. "This calls for rescuing the idea of American exceptionalism," Sullivan wrote two years into the Trump presidency, "from both its chest-thumping proponents and its cynical critics, and renewing it for the present time." He then unfurled "a case for a new American exceptionalism as the answer to Donald Trump's 'America First' -- and as the basis for American leadership in the twenty-first century."

Like Kissinger, Sullivan does not seem to understand. Exceptionalism as it has evolved is no longer an idea: it is a belief, and as such it cannot be resuscitated by way of rational thought, no matter how deep its roots in history and how acute the rational thinking. I question, indeed, the efficacy of any foundational creed in need of a salvage job of the sort Sullivan proposes. This is not how religions -- civil, in this case -- work. Nonetheless, soft exceptionalism is now the frontline defense of the notion among Washington's thinking elites. And we can count Sullivan's carefully reasoned essay its most thorough treatise to date.

Sullivan's case is multiply flawed. Soft exceptionalism is finally little different from the hard kind, given the two meet at the horizon. They both rest on the old belief that, uniquely in human history, America manages to combine virtue and power without the former's corruption by the latter. Hegemon or "benevolent hegemon" -- a phrase from the triumphalist 1990s I have always found risibly preposterous -- both versions place America at the pinnacle of the global order, sequestered from others by dint of its "goodness" and "greatness." (Even the Cheneys, père et fille, had the nerve to use these terms.) Hard or soft, they both treat scores of coups, interventions, subterfuge operations, and countless other breaches of international law as deviations from the golden mean, the norm -- even as more than a century's evidence indicates these supposed irregularities have been the norm.

There is a point to be made here that I count more significant than any just listed. Whatever variety of exceptionalism someone may endorse, it will not open us to the rich benefits to be derived from defeat or retreat; as we all know, exceptional America never lost anything and never will. This is one of the creed's two essential purposes. On one hand it is a declaration of permanent victory. On the other it is an amulet marshaled to ward away the doubt and uncertainty that lie at the core of the American character. The contradiction one might find here is merely apparent. Exceptionalism in any form, then, comes to a confinement. It encloses those who profess it within the fantasy of eternal triumph, the hubris attaching to the presumption of never-ending invincibility.

Most of all, exceptionalism traps us in the logic of victors: it renders us certain that we need only to continue as we have, altering nothing. It thus prevents the emancipation of our minds such that we know at last our past as it truly was and can think altogether anew of another kind of future.

In The Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery, Wolfgang Schivelbusch is eloquent in describing the fertility of loss against the barrenness of victory. It is an exceptional (truly so) work. In it he quotes Reinhart Koselleck, the late German historian, to this effect: There is something to the hypothesis that being forced to draw new and difficult lessons from history yields insights of longer validity and thus greater explanatory power. History may in the short term be written by the victors, but historical wisdom is in the long run enriched more by the vanquished.

America's leaders are rarely long on historical wisdom. Among Dick Cheney and Barack Obama and Jake Sullivan and many other noted names, at issue today is one or another form of restoration, nothing more. This arises from the doctrine of exceptionalism itself. It amounts to a cage within which we choose to confine ourselves and wherein we learn nothing -- the conceit being we have nothing to learn. We are the jailer and the jailed, then. And if the twenty-first century has one thing to tell us above any other, it is that we must turn the key, escape our narrow cell, and begin to think and live in ways our claim to exceptionalism has too long rendered inaccessible to us.

In the spring of 1932, Henri Bergson published his final book. He called it The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, "morality" to be taken here to mean (approximately) a society's ethos, how it lives. A quarter century had passed since the French thinker brought out his celebrated Creative Evolution. This last work amounts to an elaboration on the earlier volume's themes.

Once again, Bergson takes up the binaries running through much of his work: "repose" and movement, the closed society and the open, the stable and the dynamic -- the latter in each case driven by his famous élan vital, the natural impulse within us to create and evolve. As in the earlier work, Bergson posits the what could or will be against the what-is.

The distinguishing mark of The Two Sources is its exploration of the "how" of change -- how a society advances from an established state to one newly realized. His answer is surprising, at least to me. Progress is achieved not systematically but creatively. It does not occur as a result of careful bureaucratic planning, one measured step succeeding another. It entails, rather, "a forward thrust, a demand for movement." This requires "at a certain epoch a sudden leap," and there is nothing gingerly about it. Bergson calls this a saltus, an abrupt breach resulting in transformation.

Here is an essential passage in the argument Bergson constructs in The Two Sources:

It is a leap forward, which can take place only if a society has decided to try the experiment; and the experiment will not be tried unless a society has allowed itself to be won over, or at least stirred. . . .It is no use maintaining that this leap forward does not imply a creative effort behind it, and that we do not have to do here with an invention comparable with that of the artist. That would be to forget that most great reforms appeared at first sight impracticable, as in fact they were.

There are a couple of things to note in these lines as we consider the prospect of a postexceptionalist America. One, ordinary Americans -- a critical mass, let us say -- must be open to making the required leap and to the measure of flux -- an interim of instability, even -- this implies. So must our political thinkers, scholars, and policy planners -- altogether our intellectual class. Two, creative advances require creative individuals -- in a phrase, imaginative leaders who can see beyond the closed circle of assumptions that any given society forms. So it is with dynamic leadership. What at first throws us because it appears to be wholly impractical is later on accepted as a new norm. The Declaration's drafters in the summer of 1776 -- Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and others -- serve perfectly well as a case in point. American history gives us numerous other examples. Bergson's thinking is of great use, it seems to me, in any effort to change course -- to redirect American power, in simple terms. But he immediately faces us with questions, two more atop those posed at the start of this essay.

How given are Americans to the "forward movement" Bergson writes of? A good many appear eager, if not desperate, for holistic change, a saltus of our own. For these many, it is a question not of repudiating national aspirations but of abandoning the mistaken course poor interpretations have set us upon. To return to Du Bois's thesis, this constituency now comes to understand that the exceptionalist notion of a virtuous empire and a thriving polity has proven disastrous. Dominance abroad, in other words, must give way to democracy at home (and all the work this implies, some of it restorative, some taken up for the first time). Such a transformation would constitute a truly forward movement.

But America is now a house divided, to note the self-evident. Many of us appear to have lost touch with all that might pass for creative drives. There is much to suggest that seven decades of preeminence have left too many of our leaders incapable of cultivating a reconstituted vision of the nation's future. They persist, instead, in the long-bankrupted pursuit of democracy and empire -- the old, impossible dream. They tend to cling to illusions of moral clarity consolidated during the Reagan years and now proffered by such figures as Dick Cheney and, closer to our moment, John Bolton, until mid-September Trump's astonishingly dangerous national security adviser. Their prominence is not to be overlooked. Their influence continues to keep us from changing anything about our ways of seeing and thinking -- our "morality," the ethos by which we live. Ours seems a closed society, in Bergson's terminology. It is costly indeed to stray beyond the fence posts.

Whether America is any longer capable of authentic change depends in large measure on how we answer the other question a reading of Bergson imposes upon us. Do we Americans have the leaders to inspire us forward, to cut our moorings, to "win us over" to the condition of postexceptionalism? Bergson's thought as to the necessity of gifted leadership (a term he does not actually use) is especially pertinent in the American case, it seems to me. It is perfectly sensible to suggest, as many do, that a fundamental transformation in Americans' understanding of themselves is beyond reach, or that a tremendous shock -- a catastrophic defeat, a deep and sustained depression -- will be required to bring it about. But these are the replies one will always hear within the confines of a static political culture. They admit of no prospect of transcending the what-is. They leave no ground for imagining what a committed leader might accomplish by way of showing America new paths forward. Anyone who doubts this potential should consider the tragic turn the nation took after the three assassinations of the 1960s -- the two Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr. They were leaders of the kind Bergson compares with artists. It would be difficult to overstate the impact their deaths have had on the nation's direction.

For the moment we do not seem to have such leaders. But it is worthwhile considering figures such as Obama (or Carter, for that matter) with this question at one's elbow. I do not wish to overfreight Obama's appearance in Strasbourg very early in his first term, but in that fateful sentence concerning Americans, "Brits," and Greeks lies a hint, surely, of a leader's alternative vision of America's way into the twenty-first century. An attempt was made, suggesting imminence. We are now face-to-face with the pity of Obama's retreat. With it he deprived himself of all chance of greatness -- and Americans of a chance to move beyond their state of "repose." But we also find among us an incipient generation of leaders who stand squarely against our condition of inertia. Tulsi Gabbard, the vigorously anti-imperialist congresswoman from Hawaii, is but one example of this emergent cohort.

The common theme is plain: to remake American democracy and to abandon imperial aspirations are two halves of the same project. This is where we are now with regard to our exceptionalism, in my reading of our time. We arrive at a crucial moment, and there is no place in it for pieties as to the "can do" of the American character. It is difficult to argue that we as a society are prepared for this. But it is nonetheless time -- if, indeed, we are not already late -- to make our leap into a postexceptionalist awareness of ourselves and ourselves among others. It is time to leave something large and defining behind, to put the point another way. We can think of this as shattering the crystal chalice or as simply finding a place for it in museums and in our history texts. It does not matter so long as we determine, by way of a leadership class awakened from its slumber, to live without it. The only plausible alternative is failure -- once again, among ourselves as well as among others.

There are sound reasons to assign our time this magnitude of importance. Abroad, the world tells us nearly in unison that the place the old American faith found in the twentieth century is not open to it in the twenty-first. The near chaos we are responsible for since the events of 11 September 2001 -- notably, but not only, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria -- is of an order the community of nations has come to find unacceptable. While this is increasingly evident -- as is a rising contempt for our gaudy displays of righteousness -- let us avoid a certain mistake here: the message is not "Go home," but its opposite, "Join us -- be among us truly, authentically, entirely." In my experience abroad, most others still detect the good that resides in Americans despite all that is at this point plainly otherwise when judged by the nation's conduct toward others.

At home the intellectual confinements exceptionalist beliefs impose have debilitated us for decades. We are now greatly in need of genuinely new thinking in any number of political and social spheres, even as we deny ourselves permission to do any. Clever restorations, as already noted, will not do. To honor tradition one must add to it. This is done by breaking with it, just as Bergson implied with his artist. Merely to carry tradition forward in imitation is to entomb it, while trivializing ourselves and our agency.

What does "postexceptionalism" mean? How would it manifest? Who would postexceptionalist Americans be? How would Americans understand themselves and account for themselves among others? Would anything be left of us were the mythologies to be scraped away? I began with these questions. They are no simpler than the two just considered. If one has breathed fetid air the whole of one's life, it is not so easy to describe a spring breeze. But there is a long tradition of dissent and dissenters in America -- "exceptionalism's exceptions," as Levering Lewis once termed them. Much of what is pushed to the margins in American history is by no means marginal -- a point our best historians have made many times. In the supposedly far corners of our past we find paths to a future beyond exceptionalism. The lively anti-imperialist movement that arose in the nineteenth century's last years is a relevant case in point. There is also the experience of other nations that have passed through that cycle of trauma and recovery Wolfgang Schivelbusch explored so insightfully. These things are available to us. Fresh air is not so inaccessible as we may be inclined to assume. One draws encouragement, indeed, from the discourses of the Cheneys and, on the other side of the ledger, the Obamas and Sullivans: any question so self-consciously considered is by definition in play.

Among my starting points when considering the idea of postexceptionalism is an imperative that came to me after living and working many years abroad, primarily in Asia. It is simply stated: parity between the West and non-West will be an inevitable feature of our new century. This is already evident providing one knows where to look. To take but one example, one reads little in the American press about the network of alliances now forming among non-Western nations in the middle-income category: between Russia and China, Russia and Iran, China and Iran, India and all of these. Beijing's audaciously ambitious Belt and Road Initiative will multiply such relations many times; they are already a considerable source of influence. American exceptionalism, let us not forget, was born and raised during half a millennium of Western preeminence (taking my date from da Gama's arrival at Calicut in 1498). This era now draws to a close before our eyes. No one's antiquated claim to exceptionalism can survive its passing.

As a corollary, the same point holds within the Atlantic world itself. Europe now struggles for a healthy distance from America after the suffocating embrace of the Cold War decades. If success has so far proven limited, the direction is clear. One of the truths I learned when reporting in Indonesia during the first post-Suharto years, a time when various provinces were demanding autonomy, was that to stay together the Indonesian republic would have to come partially apart. The same will prove so of the West and all who identify as belonging to it. As in Indonesia, there is difference amid similarity, and both must be served.

It will be a postexceptionalist American leadership that accepts these immense dramas with the thought and imagination needed to find opportunities -- as against an almost fantastic variety of "threats" -- in the soil of new landscapes. In the best of outcomes, nostalgia for lost preeminence, our postwar pursuit of totalized security -- these will no longer interest postexceptionalist American leaders. Theirs will be a nation braced to advance into a new time because it is confident of its competence to do so. It will be cognizant of the perspectives of others, a capacity Americans have heretofore found of little use. It will be game, in a word -- aware of its past but never its prisoner. The language of dominance will give way to the necessary language of parity. International law will be our law as it is everyone else's.

And here we come to the essential motivation for us to make our leap -- the sine qua non of it: it must first dawn on us that it is greatly, immeasurably to our advantage to attempt it. This truth has not yet come to us; no leader has led us to it. How little do most of us understand, in consequence, that to abandon our claims to exceptional status will first of all come as an immense unburdening and a relief from our long aloneness in the world?

"The American of the future will bear but little resemblance to the American of the past." I have long admired this observation, even as I wonder whether it is anything more than a wishful thought. It dates to 1902 and belongs to Edwin Seligman, a prominent Progressive Era thinker. Seligman's time was very different from ours, of course, but we can draw connections. He wrote at the first flowering of America's imperial ambition; today we watch as the sun sets. His concern was an evolution in consciousness among Americans. So should we concern ourselves as the future rushes toward us. This is where the path to postexceptionalism must begin -- in our minds.

All of what I have just noted in pencil sketch lies within our reach. None of it is a matter of law or mere policy. It comes to a question of will and of vision, of who we wish to be, of our capacity to reimagine ourselves. But let us not make one of the very errors we would do best to leave behind: what Americans can do and what they will do are two different things. There is no certainty Americans will reach for any of what is available to them. To abandon our claims to exceptionalism is to give up our customary assumption of assured American success. It requires us to accept the difference between destiny and possibility. One does not find abundant signs Americans are yet ready to do this -- not among our leaders, in any case. There seems to be little awareness that the only alternative to the change of course Jimmy Carter favored forty years ago this past summer is decline -- decline not as a fate but as a choice, one made even as we do not know we are making it. "Can America save itself?" Bernd Ulrich, a noted German commentator, wondered in Die Zeit not long ago. It is precisely our question as we look toward a postexceptionalist idea of ourselves. This idea, indeed, was Ulrich's unstated topic. "In principal, absolutely," he replied to his own question. "But certainly not with gradual changes. In terms of global politics and history, it must get off the high horse it has so long ridden. It needs a moderate self-esteem, beyond superlatives and supremacy."

[Dec 23, 2019] The Afghanistan Papers - TTG - Sic Semper Tyrannis

Dec 23, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

The President of the USofA has no power to turn this ship around. The seat of power is no longer residing in the hands of civilian/political actors prime ministers or presidents though they may be.

Candidate Trump indicated very early on that he intended to withdraw from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, he soon succumbed to his advisors and generals advice of increasing troop strength in 2017 as part of a surge strategy. This makes him no better or worse than his two predecessors who succumbed to the same kind of advice.

However Trump has recently restarted negotiations with the Taliban and has renewed his pledged to remove several thousand troops. "We're going down to 8,600 [from the 12,000 and 13,000 US troops now there] and then we make a determination from there as to what happens," Trump told Fox last August. "We're bringing it down." Of course the drawdown will be seen by the neocons as a unilateral concession to the Taliban. That shouldn't phase Trump. I think he plans to reannounce this withdrawal next month. DoD officials have said that the smaller US military presence will be largely focused on counterterrorism operations against groups like al Qaeda and IS, and that the military's ability to train and advise local Afghan forces will be reduced considerably. Sounds like they're still looking for a reason to stay.

Trump can break the cycle. He holds no ideological conviction for staying in Afghanistan. If he could get over his BDS (Bezos derangement syndrome), he could seize this Washington Post series, or at least the SIGAR lessons learned reports, and trumpet them through his twitter feed and helicopter talks. I believe he alone can generate a public cry for getting the hell out of Afghanistan and carry through with that action no matter how much his generals scream about it. But without a loud public outcry, especially from his base, Trump has no incentive to break the cycle. So all you deplorables better start hootin' and hollerin'. Hopefully enough SJWs will join you to pump up the volume.

TTG

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents/


Mathias Alexander , 23 December 2019 at 04:37 AM

If someone wanted to destabilize China,Russia and Central Asia the parts of Afghanistan America controls might be usefull for that.
JMH , 23 December 2019 at 07:11 AM
Excellent, right up to the last sentence. SJWs are mere tools of people like George Soros and have zero anti-war agenda nor do they care about America's manufacturing base ect.. In fact, many are chomping at the bit to join, what was once termed in the SST comments, the LGBTQ-C4ISR sect. I refer you to mayor Pete's exchange with Tulsi on the matter; he even invoked our sacred honor as a reason to stay the course in Afghanistan.
Eric Newhill -> The Twisted Genius ... , 23 December 2019 at 03:38 PM
TTG,
It's a shrinking cohort. For some of these types, their TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) is actually causing them to side with the CIA and military. Enemy of my enemy.....and since there's no draft, they have no skin in that game.
Serge , 23 December 2019 at 07:35 AM
For the past 2-3 years many generals and politicians have been using the threat of ISKP as the new bogeyman for staying in Afghanistan. This threat is not wholly unfounded, a disproportionately large number of US airstrikes since 2015-2016 have been against ISKP in Nangarhar(remember the MOAB?) rather than against the Taliban. If my memory serves me correctly ISKP was responsible for every single US casualty in 2016-2017. In the past two months however ISKP has been collapsing in its erstwhile stronghold of Nangarhar, surrendering to the ANA rather than fall into the hands of the Taliba,à la Jowzjan in summer 2018. I was very surprised by the number of foreign fighters and their families to come out of there. We have the Taliban to thank for these two collapses.
turcopolier , 23 December 2019 at 11:59 AM
TTG

IMO American "exceptionalism" doomed our effort in Afghanistan Very few of us are set up mentally to accept the notion that other peoples are legitimately different from us and that they don't want to be like us and do things our way. I attribute this deformation on our part to the puritan heritage that you much admire. In your case your recent immigrant past seems to have immunized you from this deformation. As SF men we rightly fear and dread the attitudes of The Big Army, but, truth be told, it is we who are the outlier freaks in the context of American culture with its steamroller approach to just about everything.

The Twisted Genius -> turcopolier ... , 23 December 2019 at 01:40 PM
Ah yes, all that shining city on the hill stuff biting us in the ass once again. Like the Puritans, we seem to believe we alone are His chosen people and are utterly shocked that all others don't see this. In truth, Jesus probably sees our self righteous selves and our pilgrim forefathers much as he saw the Pharisees... a bunch of douche nozzles.

[Dec 19, 2019] Never Trust a Failing Empire by Federico Pieraccini

Dec 17, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

The Washington Post , through documents released through the Freedom of Information Act, has published a long investigation into Afghanistan. Journalists have collected over 400 testimonies from American diplomats, NATO generals and other NATO personnel, that show that reports about Afghanistan were falsified to deceive the public about the real situation on the ground.

After the tampering with and falsification of the report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), we are witnessing another event that will certainly discomfit those who have hitherto relied on the official reports of the Pentagon, the US State Department and international organizations like the OPCW for the last word.

There are very deliberate reasons for such disinformation campaigns. In the case of the OPCW, as I wrote some time back, the aim was to paint the Syrian government as the fiend and the al-Qaeda- and Daesh-linked "moderate rebels" as the innocent souls, thereby likely justifying a responsibility-to-protect armed intervention by the likes of the US, the UK and France. In such circumstances, the standing and status of the reporting organization (like the OPCW) is commandeered to validate Western propaganda that is duly disseminated through the corporate-controlled mainstream media.

In this particular case, various Western capitals colluded with the OPCW to lay the groundwork for the removal of Assad and his replacement with the al-Nusra Front as well as the very same al-Qaeda- and Daesh-linked armed opposition officially responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

As if the massaging of the OPCW reports were not enough in themselves to provoke international outrage, this dossier serves to give aid and comfort to jihadi groups supported by the Pentagon who are known to be responsible for the worst human-rights abuses, as seen in Syria and Iraq in the last 6 years.

False or carefully manipulated reports paint a picture vastly different from the reality on the ground. The United States has never really declared war on Islamic terrorism, its proclamations of a "War on Terror" notwithstanding. In reality, it has simply used this justification to occupy or destabilize strategically important areas of the world in the interests of maintaining US hegemony, intending in so doing to hobble the energy policies and national security of rival countries like China, Iran and the Russian Federation.

The Post investigation lays bare how the US strategy had failed since its inception, the data doctored to represent a reality very different from that on the ground. The inability of the United States to clean up Afghanistan is blamed by the Post on incorrect military planning and incorrect political choices. While this could certainly be the case, the Post's real purpose in its investigation is to harm Trump, even as it reveals the Pentagon's efforts to continue its regional presence for grand geopolitical goals by hiding inconvenient truths.

The real issue lies in the built-in mendacity of the bureaucratic and military apparatus of the United States. No general has ever gone on TV to say that the US presence in Iraq is needed to support any war against Iran; or that Afghanistan is a great point of entry for the destabilization of Eurasia, because this very heart of the Heartland is crucial to the Sino-Russian transcontinental integration projects like the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Belt and Road Initiative. In the same vein, the overthrow of the Syrian government would have ensured Israel a greater capacity to expand its interests in the Middle East, as well as to weaken Iran's main regional ally.

The Post investigation lays bare the hypocrisy of the military-industrial complex as well as the prevailing political establishments of Europe and the United States. These parties are not interested in human rights, the wellbeing of civilians or justice in general. Their only goal is to try and maintain their global hegemony indefinitely by preventing any other powers from being able to realize their potential and thereby pose a threat to Atlanticist preeminence.

The war in Iraq was launched to destabilize the Middle East, China's energy-supply basin crucial to fueling her future growth. The war in Syria served the purpose of further dismantling the Middle East to favor Saudi Arabia and Israel, the West's main strategic allies in the Persian Gulf. The war in Afghanistan was to slow down the Eurasian integration of China and Russia. And the war in Ukraine was for the purposes of generating chaos and destruction on Russia's border, with the initial hope of wresting the very strategically area of Crimea from Russia.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and this has been on full display in recent times. Almost all of Washington's recent strategic objectives have ended up producing results worse than the status quo ante. In Iraq there is the type of strong cooperation between Baghdad and Tehran reminiscent of the time prior to 1979. Through Hezbollah, Iran has strengthened its position in Syria in defense of Damascus. Moscow has found itself playing the role of crucial decider in the Middle East (and soon in North Africa), until only a few years ago the sole prerogative of Washington. Turkey's problems with NATO, coupled with Tel Aviv's open relation with Moscow are both a prime example of Washington's diminishing influence in the region and Moscow's corresponding increase in influence.

The situation in Afghanistan is not very different, with a general recognition that peace is the only option for the region being reflected in the talks between the Afghans, the Taliban, the Russians, Chinese, Indians and Pakistanis. Beijing and Moscow have well known for over a decade the real intent behind Washington's presence in the country, endeavoring to blunt its impact.

The Post investigation only further increases the public's war weariness, the war in Afghanistan now having lasted 18 years, the longest war in US history. Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Post , is a bitter opponent of Trump and wants the president to come clean on the Afghanistan debacle by admitting that the troops cannot be withdrawn. Needless to say, admitting such would not help Trump's strategy for the 2020 election. Trump cannot afford to humiliate the US military, given that it, along with the US dollar, is his main weapon of "diplomacy". Were it to be revealed that some illiterate peasants holed up in caves and armed with AK-47s some 40 years ago are responsible for successfully keeping the most powerful army in history at bay, all of Washington's propaganda, disseminated by a compliant media, will cease to be of any effect. Such a revelation would also humiliate military personnel, an otherwise dependable demographic Trump cannot afford to alienate.

The Washington Post performed a service to the country by shedding light on the disinformation used to sustain endless war. But the Post's intentions are also political, seeking to undermine Trump's electoral chances by damaging Trump's military credentials as well as his standing amongst military personnel. What Washington's elite and the Post do not know, or perhaps prefer to ignore, is that such media investigations directed against political opponents actually end up doing irreparable damage to the political and military prestige of the United States.

In other words, when journalist do their job, the military industrial complex finds it difficult to lie its way through wars and failures, but when a country relies on Hollywood to sustain its make-believe world, as well as on journalists on the CIA payroll, on compliant publishers and on censored news, then any such revelations of forbidden truths threaten to bring the whole facade crashing down.

[Dec 08, 2019] Neocon wing of US political elite is simply mentally inadequate.

Notable quotes:
"... Today USA even is no more an entity. You can not negotiate a thing with "America" because there is no such institution any more, but a hellish swarm of infighting spiders, each delightfully breaking anything negotiated by a rival spider. ..."
Dec 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

Mulegino1 , says: December 5, 2019 at 5:58 pm GMT

US political "elites" are generally appallingly incompetent in matters of war and are "educated" mostly through Hollywood and Clansiesque "literature". I am not even sure that they comprehend what Congressional Research Service prepares for them as compressed briefings. Neocon wing of US political elite is simply mentally inadequate.

Very true, especially the part about "Hollywood and Clansiesque 'literature.'" I used to read Clancy's books and, while entertaining, in retrospect they appear ridiculous, even childish. But they probably capture the popular notion of American military invincibility better than any other.

Most of Hollywood's output is garbage anyway, and its grasp of real war and military matters appears to be that of a not so precocious third grader.

Arioch , says: December 5, 2019 at 8:58 pm GMT
@joe tentpeg

> USSR Katyn forrest massacre (Poland), Afghanistan.

Katyn, whoever did it, was much before Cold War and before even first relatively small nuclear blast.

And if you want to go that far – why not remember crisis over West Berlin, where tank armees were watching one another, but no one pulled trigger?

Afghanistan was attacking one's own ally. Same as Prague 1968 and Hungary 1956. If you want to compare – that is like USA invading Panama to remove their no longer reliable puppet Norriega. Did American attack on their own Panama risk USSR going ballistic? Hardly so. There was no Soviet invasion into Pakistan nor there was Chinese/American invasion into India.

And looking away from purely military events, there was no attempt to arrest the whole embassy stuff them, neither in Moscow nor in DC. No killing Soviet ambassadors in NATO states during official events.

Those dirty games had red lines, both sides maintained. Today? Today USA even is no more an entity. You can not negotiate a thing with "America" because there is no such institution any more, but a hellish swarm of infighting spiders, each delightfully breaking anything negotiated by a rival spider.

> deploying conventional anti-ballistic missile defenses around their most important cities.

No, by then effective treaty both USSR and USA had only ONE region they were allowed to protect. Those were some nuclear launchpads in USA i guess, and one single city (Moscow) in USSR. No more.

> deterrence [did not] worked
> See the last phrase in bullet 2.

You suppose USSR killed itself trying to keep deterrence working. That does not show it did not work, already. That shows it worked so well (at least from Soviet perspective) that they gambled all they had on the futile effort of keeping that deterrence working into the future.

[Dec 04, 2019] America's War Exceptionalism Is Killing the Planet by William Astore

Highly recommended!
Our leaders like to say we value human rights around the world, but what they really manifest is greed. It all makes sense in a Gekko- or Machiavellian kind of way.
Highly recommended !
Notable quotes:
"... Think of this as the new American exceptionalism. In Washington, war is now the predictable (and even desirable) way of life, while peace is the unpredictable (and unwise) path to follow. In this context, the U.S. must continue to be the most powerful nation in the world by a country mile in all death-dealing realms and its wars must be fought, generation after generation, even when victory is never in sight. And if that isn't an "exceptional" belief system, what is? ..."
"... A partial list of war's many uses might go something like this: war is profitable , most notably for America's vast military-industrial complex ; war is sold as being necessary for America's safety, especially to prevent terrorist attacks; and for many Americans, war is seen as a measure of national fitness and worthiness, a reminder that "freedom isn't free." In our politics today, it's far better to be seen as strong and wrong than meek and right. ..."
"... If America's wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen prove anything, it's that every war scars our planet -- and hardens our hearts. Every war makes us less human as well as less humane. Every war wastes resources when these are increasingly at a premium. Every war is a distraction from higher needs and a better life. ..."
"... I think that the main reason of the current level of militarism in the USA foreign policy is that after dissolution of the USSR neo-conservatives were allowed to capture the State Department and foreign policy establishment. This process actually started under Reagan. During Bush II administration those “crazies from the basement” fully controlled the US foreign policy and paradoxically they continued to dominate in Obama administration too. ..."
"... Which also means that the USA foreign policy is not controlled by the elected officials but by the “Deep State” (look at Vindman and Fiona Hill testimonies for the proof). So this is kind of Catch 22 in which the USA have found itself. We will be bankrupted by our neoconservative foreign establishment (which self-reproduce in each and every administration). And we can do nothing to avoid it. ..."
"... they are not only lobbyists for MIC, but they also serve as "ideological support", trying to manipulate public opinion in favor of militarism. ..."
"... Yes. Ideology is vital. During the Cold War it was all about containing/resisting/defeating the godless Communists. Once they were defeated, what then? We heard brief talk about a "peace dividend," but then the neocons came along, selling full-spectrum dominance and America as the sole superpower. ..."
"... The neocons were truly unleashed by the 9/11 attacks, which they exploited to put their vision in motion. The Complex was only too happy to oblige, fed as it was by massive resources. ..."
"... Leaving that specific incident aside, the bigger picture is that the brains behind the Deep State understand that global capitalism is running out of new resources (which includes human labor) to exploit. Why is the US so concerned with Africa right now, with spies and Special Forces operatives all over that continent? Africa is the final frontier for development/exploitation. (The US is also deeply concerned about China's setting down business roots there, and wants to counterbalance their activities.) ..."
"... The brains in the US Ruling Class know full well that natural resources will become ever more valuable moving forward, as weather disasters make it harder to access them. Thus, the Neo-Cons (you thought I'd never get around to them, right?) came to the fore because they advocate the unbridled use of brute military force to obtain what they want from the world. Or, to use their own terminology, the US "must have the capability to project force anywhere on the planet" at a moment's notice. President Obama was fully in agreement with that concept. Beware the wolf masquerading as a peaceable sheep! ..."
Dec 02, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By William Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and history professor. His personal blog is Bracing Views . Originally published at TomDispatch

Ever since 2007, when I first started writing for TomDispatch , I've been arguing against America's forever wars, whether in Afghanistan , Iraq , or elsewhere . Unfortunately, it's no surprise that, despite my more than 60 articles, American blood is still being spilled in war after war across the Greater Middle East and Africa, even as foreign peoples pay a far higher price in lives lost and cities ruined . And I keep asking myself: Why, in this century, is the distinctive feature of America's wars that they never end? Why do our leaders persist in such repetitive folly and the seemingly eternal disasters that go with it?

Sadly, there isn't just one obvious reason for this generational debacle. If there were, we could focus on it, tackle it, and perhaps even fix it. But no such luck.

So why do America's disastrous wars persist ? I can think of many reasons , some obvious and easy to understand, like the endless pursuit of profit through weapons sales for those very wars, and some more subtle but no less significant, like a deep-seated conviction in Washington that a willingness to wage war is a sign of national toughness and seriousness. Before I go on, though, here's another distinctive aspect of our forever-war moment: Have you noticed that peace is no longer even a topic in America today? The very word, once at least part of the rhetoric of Washington politicians, has essentially dropped out of use entirely. Consider the current crop of Democratic candidates for president. One, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, wants to end regime-change wars, but is otherwise a self-professed hawk on the subject of the war on terror. Another, Senator Bernie Sanders, vows to end " endless wars " but is careful to express strong support for Israel and the ultra-expensive F-35 fighter jet.

The other dozen or so tend to make vague sounds about cutting defense spending or gradually withdrawing U.S. troops from various wars, but none of them even consider openly speaking of peace . And the Republicans? While President Trump may talk of ending wars, since his inauguration he's sent more troops to Afghanistan and into the Middle East, while greatly expanding drone and other air strikes , something about which he openly boasts .

War, in other words, is our new normal, America's default position on global affairs, and peace, some ancient, long-faded dream. And when your default position is war, whether against the Taliban, ISIS, "terror" more generally, or possibly even Iran or Russia or China , is it any surprise that war is what you get? When you garrison the world with an unprecedented 800 or so military bases , when you configure your armed forces for what's called power projection, when you divide the globe -- the total planet -- into areas of dominance (with acronyms like CENTCOM, AFRICOM, and SOUTHCOM) commanded by four-star generals and admirals, when you spend more on your military than the next seven countries combined, when you insist on modernizing a nuclear arsenal (to the tune of perhaps $1.7 trillion ) already quite capable of ending all life on this and several other planets, what can you expect but a reality of endless war?

Think of this as the new American exceptionalism. In Washington, war is now the predictable (and even desirable) way of life, while peace is the unpredictable (and unwise) path to follow. In this context, the U.S. must continue to be the most powerful nation in the world by a country mile in all death-dealing realms and its wars must be fought, generation after generation, even when victory is never in sight. And if that isn't an "exceptional" belief system, what is?

If we're ever to put an end to our country's endless twenty-first-century wars, that mindset will have to be changed. But to do that, we would first have to recognize and confront war's many uses in American life and culture.

War, Its Uses (and Abuses)

A partial list of war's many uses might go something like this: war is profitable , most notably for America's vast military-industrial complex ; war is sold as being necessary for America's safety, especially to prevent terrorist attacks; and for many Americans, war is seen as a measure of national fitness and worthiness, a reminder that "freedom isn't free." In our politics today, it's far better to be seen as strong and wrong than meek and right.

As the title of a book by former war reporter Chris Hedges so aptly put it , war is a force that gives us meaning. And let's face it, a significant part of America's meaning in this century has involved pride in having the toughest military on the planet, even as trillions of tax dollars went into a misguided attempt to maintain bragging rights to being the world's sole superpower.

And keep in mind as well that, among other things, never-ending war weakens democracy while strengthening authoritarian tendencies in politics and society. In an age of gaping inequality , using up the country's resources in such profligate and destructive ways offers a striking exercise in consumption that profits the few at the expense of the many.

In other words, for a select few, war pays dividends in ways that peace doesn't. In a nutshell, or perhaps an artillery shell, war is anti-democratic, anti-progressive, anti-intellectual, and anti-human. Yet, as we know, history makes heroes out of its participants and celebrates mass murderers like Napoleon as "great captains."

What the United States needs today is a new strategy of containment -- not against communist expansion, as in the Cold War, but against war itself. What's stopping us from containing war? You might say that, in some sense, we've grown addicted to it , which is true enough, but here are five additional reasons for war's enduring presence in American life:

The delusional idea that Americans are, by nature, winners and that our wars are therefore winnable: No American leader wants to be labeled a "loser." Meanwhile, such dubious conflicts -- see: the Afghan War, now in its 18th year, with several more years, or even generations , to go -- continue to be treated by the military as if they were indeed winnable, even though they visibly aren't. No president, Republican or Democrat, not even Donald J. Trump, despite his promises that American soldiers will be coming home from such fiascos, has successfully resisted the Pentagon's siren call for patience (and for yet more trillions of dollars) in the cause of ultimate victory, however poorly defined, farfetched, or far-off. American society's almost complete isolation from war's deadly effects: We're not being droned (yet). Our cities are not yet lying in ruins (though they're certainly suffering from a lack of funding, as is our most essential infrastructure , thanks in part to the cost of those overseas wars). It's nonetheless remarkable how little attention, either in the media or elsewhere, this country's never-ending war-making gets here. Unnecessary and sweeping secrecy: How can you resist what you essentially don't know about? Learning its lesson from the Vietnam War, the Pentagon now classifies (in plain speak: covers up) the worst aspects of its disastrous wars. This isn't because the enemy could exploit such details -- the enemy already knows! -- but because the American people might be roused to something like anger and action by it. Principled whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning have been imprisoned or otherwise dismissed or, in the case of Edward Snowden, pursued and indicted for sharing honest details about the calamitous Iraq War and America's invasive and intrusive surveillance state. In the process, a clear message of intimidation has been sent to other would-be truth-tellers. An unrepresentative government: Long ago, of course, Congress ceded to the presidency most of its constitutional powers when it comes to making war. Still, despite recent attempts to end America's arms-dealing role in the genocidal Saudi war in Yemen (overridden by Donald Trump's veto power), America's duly elected representatives generally don't represent the people when it comes to this country's disastrous wars. They are, to put it bluntly, largely captives of (and sometimes on leaving politics quite literally go to work for) the military-industrial complex. As long as money is speech ( thank you , Supreme Court!), the weapons makers are always likely to be able to shout louder in Congress than you and I ever will. \ America's persistent empathy gap. Despite our size, we are a remarkably insular nation and suffer from a serious empathy gap when it comes to understanding foreign cultures and peoples or what we're actually doing to them. Even our globetrotting troops, when not fighting and killing foreigners in battle, often stay on vast bases, referred to in the military as "Little Americas," complete with familiar stores, fast food, you name it. Wherever we go, there we are, eating our big burgers, driving our big trucks, wielding our big guns, and dropping our very big bombs. But what those bombs do, whom they hurt or kill, whom they displace from their homes and lives, these are things that Americans turn out to care remarkably little about.

All this puts me sadly in mind of a song popular in my youth, a time when Cat Stevens sang of a " peace train " that was "soundin' louder" in America. Today, that peace train's been derailed and replaced by an armed and armored one eternally prepared for perpetual war -- and that train is indeed soundin' louder to the great peril of us all.

War on Spaceship Earth

Here's the rub, though: even the Pentagon knows that our most serious enemy is climate change , not China or Russia or terror, though in the age of Donald Trump and his administration of arsonists its officials can't express themselves on the subject as openly as they otherwise might. Assuming we don't annihilate ourselves with nuclear weapons first, that means our real enemy is the endless war we're waging against Planet Earth.

The U.S. military is also a major consumer of fossil fuels and therefore a significant driver of climate change. Meanwhile, the Pentagon, like any enormously powerful system, only wants to grow more so, but what's welfare for the military brass isn't wellness for the planet.

There is, unfortunately, only one Planet Earth, or Spaceship Earth, if you prefer, since we're all traveling through our galaxy on it. Thought about a certain way, we're its crewmembers, yet instead of cooperating effectively as its stewards, we seem determined to fight one another. If a house divided against itself cannot stand, as Abraham Lincoln pointed out so long ago, surely a spaceship with a disputatious and self-destructive crew is not likely to survive, no less thrive.

In other words, in waging endless war, Americans are also, in effect, mutinying against the planet. In the process, we are spoiling the last, best hope of earth: a concerted and pacific effort to meet the shared challenges of a rapidly warming and changing planet.

Spaceship Earth should not be allowed to remain Warship Earth as well, not when the existence of significant parts of humanity is already becoming ever more precarious. Think of us as suffering from a coolant leak, causing cabin temperatures to rise even as food and other resources dwindle . Under the circumstances, what's the best strategy for survival: killing each other while ignoring the leak or banding together to fix an increasingly compromised ship?

Unfortunately, for America's leaders, the real "fixes" remain global military and resource domination, even as those resources continue to shrink on an ever-more fragile globe. And as we've seen recently, the resource part of that fix breeds its own madness, as in President Trump's recently stated desire to keep U.S. troops in Syria to steal that country's oil resources, though its wells are largely wrecked (thanks in significant part to American bombing) and even when repaired would produce only a miniscule percentage of the world's petroleum.

If America's wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen prove anything, it's that every war scars our planet -- and hardens our hearts. Every war makes us less human as well as less humane. Every war wastes resources when these are increasingly at a premium. Every war is a distraction from higher needs and a better life.

Despite all of war's uses and abuses, its allures and temptations, it's time that we Americans showed some self-mastery (as well as decency) by putting a stop to the mayhem. Few enough of us experience "our" wars firsthand and that's precisely why some idealize their purpose and idolize their practitioners. But war is a bloody, murderous mess and those practitioners, when not killed or wounded, are marred for life because war functionally makes everyone involved into a murderer.

We need to stop idealizing war and idolizing its so-called warriors. At stake is nothing less than the future of humanity and the viability of life, as we know it, on Spaceship Earth.

likbez December 2, 2019 at 3:17 AM

I think that the main reason of the current level of militarism in the USA foreign policy is that after dissolution of the USSR neo-conservatives were allowed to capture the State Department and foreign policy establishment. This process actually started under Reagan. During Bush II administration those “crazies from the basement” fully controlled the US foreign policy and paradoxically they continued to dominate in Obama administration too.

They preach “Full Spectrum Dominance” (Wolfowitz doctrine) and are not shy to unleash the wars to enhance the USA strategic position in particular region (color revolution can be used instead of war, like they in 2014 did in Ukraine). Of course, being chichenhawks, neither they nor members of their families fight in those wars.

For some reason despite his election platform Trump also populated his administration with neoconservatives. So it might be that maintaining the USA centered global neoliberal empire is the real reason and the leitmotiv of the USA foreign policy. that’s why it does not change with the change of Administration: any government that does not play well with the neoliberal empire gets in the hairlines.

Which also means that the USA foreign policy is not controlled by the elected officials but by the “Deep State” (look at Vindman and Fiona Hill testimonies for the proof). So this is kind of Catch 22 in which the USA have found itself. We will be bankrupted by our neoconservative foreign establishment (which self-reproduce in each and every administration). And we can do nothing to avoid it.

wjastore says: December 2, 2019 at 8:09 AM
Good point. But why the rise of the neocons? Why did they prosper? I'd say because of the military-industrial complex. Or you might say they feed each other, but the Complex came first. And of course the Complex is a dominant part of the Deep State. How could it not be? Add in 17 intelligence agencies, Homeland Security, the Energy Dept's nukes, and you have a dominant DoD that swallows up more than half of federal discretionary spending each year.
likbez December 2, 2019 at 12:09 PM
I agree, but it is a little bit more complex. You need an ideology to promote the interests of MIC. You can't just say -- let's spend more than a half of federal discretionary spending each year..

That's where neo-conservatism comes into play. So they are not only lobbyists for MIC, but they also serve as "ideological support", trying to manipulate public opinion in favor of militarism.

wjastore December 2, 2019 at 12:25 PM

Yes. Ideology is vital. During the Cold War it was all about containing/resisting/defeating the godless Communists. Once they were