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Relentless militarism and reckless jingoism of the US neoliberal elite

 

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War . . . the lie, about war, about ourselves, is imploding our democracy

By Chris Hedges
Online Journal Guest Writer

It is impossible to understand the current wave of the US militarism without understanding neoliberalism and, especially, Neoconservatism -- the dominant force in the US foreign policy since Reagan.

From Wikipedia

Militarism - Wikipedia

Militarism is the belief or the desire of a fascist government or a people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests; examples of militarist states include North Korea, the United States of America, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, as well as most Imperial states, such as the Roman Empire.[1]

It may also imply the glorification of the military and of the ideals of a professional military class and the "predominance of the armed forces in the administration or policy of the state"[2] (see also: stratocracy and military junta).

Militarism has been a significant element of the imperialist or expansionist ideologies of several nations throughout history.

Jingoism - Wikipedia

Jingoism is nationalism in the form of aggressive foreign policy.[1] Jingoism also refers to a country's advocacy for the use of threats or actual force, as opposed to peaceful relations, in efforts to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests. Colloquially, it refers to excessive bias in judging one's own country as superior to others—an extreme type of nationalism.

June 17, 2005  | DemocracyRising.US

The vanquished know war. They see through the empty jingoism of those who use the abstract words of glory, honor, and patriotism to mask the cries of the wounded, the senseless killing, war profiteering, and chest-pounding grief. They know the lies the victors often do not acknowledge, the lies covered up in stately war memorials and mythic war narratives, filled with words of courage and comradeship. They know the lies that permeate the thick, self-important memoirs by amoral statesmen who make wars but do not know war.

The vanquished know the essence of war—death. They grasp that war is necrophilia. They see that war is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. They know how war fosters alienation, leads inevitably to nihilism, and is a turning away from the sanctity and preservation of life. All other narratives about war too easily fall prey to the allure and seductiveness of violence, as well as the attraction of the godlike power that comes with the license to kill with impunity.

But the words of the vanquished come later, sometimes long after the war, when grown men and women unpack the suffering they endured as children, what it was like to see their mother or father killed or taken away, or what it was like to lose their homes, their community, their security, and be discarded as human refuse. But by then few listen. The truth about war comes out, but usually too late. We are assured by the war-makers that these stories have no bearing on the glorious violent enterprise the nation is about to inaugurate. And, lapping up the myth of war and its sense of empowerment, we prefer not to look.

We see the war in Iraq only through the distorted lens of the occupiers. The embedded reporters, dependent on the military for food and transportation as well as security, have a natural and understandable tendency, one I have myself felt, to protect those who are protecting them. They are not allowed to report outside of the unit and are, in effect, captives. They have no relationships with the occupied, essential to all balanced reporting of conflicts, but only with the Marines and soldiers who drive through desolate mud-walled towns and pump grenades and machine-gun bullets into houses, leaving scores of nameless dead and wounded in their wake. The reporters admire and laud these fighters for their physical courage. They feel protected as well by the jet fighters and heavy artillery and throaty rattle of machine guns. And the reporting, even among those who struggle to keep some distance, usually descends into a shameful cheerleading.

There is no more candor in Iraq or Afghanistan than there was in Vietnam, but in the age of live satellite feeds the military has perfected the appearance of candor. What we are fed is the myth of war. For the myth of war, the myth of glory and honor sells newspapers and boosts ratings, real war reporting does not. Ask the grieving parents of Pat Tillman. Nearly every embedded war correspondent sees his or her mission as sustaining civilian and army morale. This is what passes for coverage on FOX, MSNBC or CNN. In wartime, as Senator Hiram Johnson reminded us in 1917, "truth is the first casualty."

All our knowledge of the war in Iraq has to be viewed as lacking the sweep and depth that will come one day, perhaps years from now, when a small Iraqi boy or girl reaches adulthood and unfolds for us the sad and tragic story of the invasion and bloody occupation of their nation.

I have spent most of my adult life in war. I began two decades ago covering wars in Central America, where I spent five years, then the Middle East, where I spent seven, and the Balkans where I covered the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. My life has been marred, let me say deformed, by the organized industrial violence that year after year was an intimate part of my existence. I have watched young men bleed to death on lonely Central American dirt roads and cobblestone squares in Sarajevo. I have looked into the eyes of mothers, kneeling over the lifeless and mutilated bodies of their children. I have stood in warehouses with rows of corpses, including children, and breathed death into my lungs. I carry within me the ghosts of those I worked with, my comrades, now gone.

I have felt the attraction of violence. I know its seductiveness, excitement and the powerful addictive narcotic it can become. The young soldiers, trained well enough to be disciplined but encouraged to maintain their naive adolescent belief in invulnerability, have in wartime more power at their fingertips than they will ever have again. They catapult from being minimum wage employees at places like Burger King, facing a life of dead-end jobs with little hope of health insurance and adequate benefits, to being part of, in the words of the Marines, "the greatest fighting force on the face of the earth." The disparity between what they were and what they have become is breathtaking and intoxicating. This intoxication is only heightened in wartime when all taboos are broken. Murder goes unpunished and often rewarded. The thrill of destruction fills their days with wild adrenaline highs, strange grotesque landscapes that are hallucinogenic, all accompanied by a sense of purpose and comradeship, overpowers the alienation many left behind. They become accustomed to killing, carrying out acts of slaughter with no more forethought than they take to relieve themselves. And the abuses committed against the helpless prisoners in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo are not aberrations but the real face of war. In wartime all human beings become objects, objects either to gratify or destroy or both. And almost no one is immune. The contagion of the crowd sees to that.

"Force," Simon Weil wrote, "is as pitiless to the man who possess it, or thinks he does, as it is to his victim. The second it crushes; the first it intoxicates."

This myth, the lie, about war, about ourselves, is imploding our democracy. We shun introspection and self-criticism. We ignore truth, to embrace the strange, disquieting certitude and hubris offered by the radical Christian Right. These radical Christians draw almost exclusively from the book of Revelation, the only time in the Gospels where Jesus sanctions violence, peddling a vision of Christ as the head of a great and murderous army of heavenly avengers. They rarely speak about Christ's message of love, forgiveness and compassion. They relish the cataclysmic destruction that will befall unbelievers, including those such as myself, whom they dismiss as "nominal Christians." They divide the world between good and evil, between those anointed to act as agents of God and those who act as agents of Satan. The cult of masculinity and esthetic of violence pervades their ideology. Feminism and homosexuality are forces, believers are told, that have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian Right, is a man of action, casting out demons, battling the Anti-Christ, attacking hypocrites and castigating the corrupt. The language is one not only of exclusion, hatred and fear, but a call for apocalyptic violence, in short the language of war.

As the war grinds forward, as we sink into a morass of our own creation, as our press and political opposition, and yes even our great research universities, remain complacent and passive, as we refuse to confront the forces that have crippled us outside our gates and are working to cripple us within, the ideology of the Christian Right, so intertwined with intolerance and force, will become the way we speak not only to others but among ourselves.

In war, we always deform ourselves, our essence. We give up individual conscience—maybe even consciousness—for contagion of the crowd, the rush of patriotism, the belief that we must stand together as nation in moments of extremity. To make a moral choice, to defy war's enticement, to find moral courage, can be self-destructive.

The attacks on the World Trade Center illustrate that those who oppose us, rather than coming from another moral universe, have been schooled well in modern warfare. The dramatic explosions, the fireballs, the victims plummeting to their deaths, the collapse of the towers in Manhattan, were straight out of Hollywood. Where else, but from the industrialized world, did the suicide bombers learn that huge explosions and death above a city skyline are a peculiar and effective form of communication? They have mastered the language we have taught them. They understand that the use of indiscriminate violence against innocents is a way to make a statement. We leave the same calling cards. We delivered such incendiary messages in Vietnam, Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq. It was Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara who in the summer of 1965 defined the bombing raids that would kill hundreds of thousands of civilians north of Saigon as a means of communication to the Communist regime in Hanoi.

The most powerful anti-war testaments, of war and what war does to us, are those that eschew images of combat. It is the suffering of the veteran whose body and mind are changed forever because he or she served a nation that sacrificed them, the suffering of families and children caught up in the unforgiving maw of war, which begin to tell the story of war. But we are not allowed to see dead bodies, at least of our own soldiers, nor do we see the wounds that forever mark a life, the wounds that leave faces and bodies horribly disfigured by burns or shrapnel. We never watch the agony of the dying. War is made palatable. It is sanitized. We are allowed to taste war's perverse thrill, but spared from seeing war's consequences. The wounded and the dead are swiftly carted offstage. And for this I blame the press, which willingly hides from us the effects of bullets, roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, which sat at the feet of those who lied to make this war possible and dutifully reported these lies and called it journalism.

War is always about this betrayal. It is about the betrayal of the young by the old, idealists by cynics and finally soldiers by politicians. Those who pay the price, those who are maimed forever by war, however, are crumpled up and thrown away. We do not see them. We do not hear them. They are doomed, like wandering spirits, to float around the edges of our consciousness, ignored, even reviled. The message they bring is too painful for us to hear. We prefer the myth of war, the myth of glory, honor, patriotism and heroism, words that in the terror and brutality of combat are empty, meaningless and obscene.

We are losing the war in Iraq. We are an isolated and reviled nation. We are pitiless to others weaker than ourselves. We have lost sight of our democratic ideals. Thucydides wrote of Athens expanding empire and how this empire led it to become a tyrant abroad and then a tyrant at home. The tyranny Athens imposed on others it finally imposed on itself. If we do not confront the lies and hubris told to justify the killing and mask the destruction carried out in our name in Iraq, if we do not grasp the moral corrosiveness of empire and occupation, if we continue to allow force and violence to be our primary form of communication, if we do not remove from power our flag-waving, cross-bearing versions of the Taliban, we will not so much defeat dictators such as Saddam Hussein as become them.

Chris Hedges has been a war reporter for 15 years most recently for the New York Times. He is author of "What Every person Should Know About War," a book that offers a critical lesson in the dangerous realities of war. He's also author of "War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning."

War as a natural state of the USA since 1945


"...These rules have pushed the United States to a state of perpetual war. With enemies supposedly everywhere, the pursuit of security has become open-ended. "
"...One is reminded of John Winthrop, who, in 1630, told the future residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "We shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us." Over subsequent decades, Winthrop's sermon became the American mission, fired by self-righteousness and fueled by self-confidence. From that mission emerged the idea of Manifest Destiny -- American ideals should spread across the continent and around the globe. Along the way, Americans lost sight of what Winthrop actually meant. His words were both inspiration and warning: Aspire to greatness, but remain honorable. Power lies in virtue. Winthrop envisaged a shining beacon, worthy of emulation. He saw no need to come down from the hill and ram ideals down the throats of the recalcitrant. "
"...Back in 1963, the Kennedy administration was faced with a steadily disintegrating situation in Vietnam. At a turbulent cabinet meeting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked: If the situation is so dire, why not withdraw? Arthur Schlesinger, present at the meeting, noted how "the question hovered for a moment, then died away." It was "a hopelessly alien thought in a field of unexplored assumptions and entrenched convictions." The Washington rules kept the United States on a steady course toward disaster. "
"...Barack Obama once promised that change was coming, but then quickly adhered to the old rules by escalating an unwinnable and certainly unaffordable war in Afghanistan. Failures, as Steffens hoped, have been illuminating, but after each flash of light, darkness has prevailed. "

[Neocons] advocate permanent war for permanent peace

Professor Basevich

 

The foreign policy of the USA since the dissolution of the USSR was and is "open militarism". Recently  John Quiggin  tried to define militarism is came to the following definition (crookedtimber.org):

100 years after the Battle of the Somme, it's hard to see that much has been learned from the catastrophe of the Great War and the decades of slaughter that followed it. Rather than get bogged down (yet again) in specifics that invariably decline into arguments about who know more of the historical detail, I'm going to try a different approach, looking at the militarist ideology that gave us the War, and trying to articulate an anti-militarist alternative. Wikipedia offers a definition of militarism which, with the deletion of a single weasel word, seems to be entirely satisfactory and also seems to describe the dominant view of the political class, and much of the population in nearly every country in the world.

Militarism is the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively[^1] to defend or promote national interests

This phenomenon of  New American Militarism was well analyzed by Professor Bacevich (who is a former colonel of the US army). Bacevich's book  Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War  describe the "sacred trinity" of:

 Professor Bacevich shows that neocons dominate the US foreign policy regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats are in power. They profess that the US in the only country uniquely qualified to take on the worldwide foes of peace and democracy, forgetting, revising, or ignoring the painful lessons of World War II, Vietnam, and beyond that might have taken the USA into periods of unprecedented peace, instead of numerous conflicts.

Bacevich scores a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual war. These assumptions take the form of the "credo" -- which holds that the United States has the unique responsibility to intervene wherever it wants, for whatever purpose it wants, by whatever means it wants -- and the supporting "trinity" of requirements for the U.S. to maintain a global military presence, to configure its military forces for global power projection, and to counter threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.

In other words they advocate permanent war for permanent peace. Lessons that the author shows President Obama is clearly in the midst of learning, using a modified sacred trinity. Written in engaging prose, his book Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War is an excellent peace of research with sections that some may find very troubling. Here is the summary:

UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CXXXVII: September 27, 2010, 7:00 p.m. 

Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, August 2010).

Thesis

The Washington consensus on national security policy that constitutes convention wisdom in American foreign policy began with the Cold War and survived, remarkably, the Vietnam War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, no longer serves American interests, but the failure of the Obama administration to alter it shows that change can only come from the American people.

Introduction: Slow Learner

The author's faith in orthodoxy began to crumble when visiting the BrandenburgGate in Berlin in the winter of 1990-1991(1-4). In October 1990 a visit to Jenarevealed the backwardness of EastGermany (4-6). During his years in the Army, Bacevich had kept down doubts; after the end of the Cold War he retired, and his loss of status freed him to educate himself (6-10).

"George W.Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition" (10). "This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom" (11). The past 60 years of American history shows continuity: a symbiotic "credo" (formulated by Henry Luce in 1941 as the "American Century") and a "sacred trinity" ("the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of  global interventionism") together define "the rules to which Washington adheres" (11-15).

In this book, "Washington" refers to the upper echelons of the three branches of government, the main agencies of the national security state, select think tanks and interest groups, "big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government" (15).

This book aspires to

  1. trace the history of the Washington rules;
  2. show who wins, who loses, and who pays under them;
  3. explain how itis perpetuated;
  4. show that the rules have lost what utility they might once have had;
  5. re-legitimate "disreputable (or 'radical') views to our national security debates" (16).

The American Century is ending, and it "has become essential" to devise an "alternative to the reining national security paradigm" (16-18).

Ch. 1: The Advent of Semiwar.

As president, Barack Obama's efforts to change the U.S.'s exercise of power "have seldom risen above the cosmetic"(20). He made clear he subscribes to the "catechism of American statecraft," viz. that 1) the world must be organized, 2)only the U.S. can do it, 3) this includes dictating principles, and 4) not to accept this is to be a rogue or a recalcitrant (20-21).

It follows that the U.S. need not conform to the norms it sets for others and that it should maintain a worldwide network of bases (22-23).

Imagine if China acted in a comparable manner (23-25). The extraordinary American military posture in the world (25-27). To call this into question puts one beyond the pale(27). James Forrestal called this a permanent condition of semiwar, requiring high levels of military spending(27-28).

American citizens are not supposed to concern themselves with it (29-30). As to how this came about, the "standard story line" presents as the result of the decisions of a "succession of presidential administrations," though this conceals as much as it reveals (30-32).

Eisenhower's 1961 Farewell Address on the "military-industrial complex" was a rare exception (32-34). More important than presidents were Allen Dulles [1893-1969] and Curtis Lemay [1906-1990] (34-36).

Bacevich attributes the vision for an American-dominated post-World War II world with the CIA playing an active role to the patrician Dulles (36-43). The development of the U.S. military into a force capable of dominating the world, especially in the area of strategic weapons, he attributes to the hard-bitten Curtis LeMay, organizer of the StrategicAir Command (SAC) (43-52). Dulles and LeMay shared devotion to country, ruthlessness, a certain recklessness (52-55). They exploited American anxieties and insecurities in yin (Dulles's CIA) yang(LeMay's SAC) fashion, leaving the mainstay of American military power, the U.S. Army, in a relatively weak position(55-58).

Ch. 2: Illusions of Flexibility and Control

Kennedy kept Dulles and LeMay to signal continuity, but there was a behind-the-scenes struggle led by Gen. Maxwell Taylor to reassert the role of the U.S. Army by expanding and modernizing conventional forces that was "simultaneously masked by, and captured in, the phrase flexible response " (60; 59-63).

This agenda purported to aim at "resisting aggression" but really created new options for limited aggressive warfare by the U.S. (63-66).

McNamara engaged in a struggle with LeMay to control U.S. policy on nuclear weapons, but he embraced the need for redundancy based on a land-sea-air attack "triad" and LeMay et al. "got most of what they wanted" (66-72).

In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy instituted the morally and legally "indefensible" Operation Mongoose," in effect, a program of state-sponsored terrorism" against Cuba (80; 72-82 [but Bacevich is silent on its wilder elements, like Operation Northwoods]).

U.S. recklessness caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to his credit Kennedy acknowledged this (albeit privately) and "suspended the tradition" in defusing the crisis (82-87).

Bacevich rejects as a romantic delusion the view that in the aftermath of this crisis Kennedy turned against the military-industrial complex and the incipient Vietnam war and shows no interest in Kennedy's assassination itself (87-92).

He sees a parallel between escalation in Vietnam and post-9/11 aggression as "fought to sustain the Washington consensus" (107; 92-107).

Ch. 3: The Credo Restored.

William Fulbright's The Arrogance of Power (1966) urged a rethinking of the Washington rules (109-15). A radicalized David Shoup, a Medal of Honor winner and former commandant of the MarineCorps, argued in "The New American Militarism" (Atlantic, April 1969) that the U.S. had become "a militaristic and aggressive nation" (120; 115-21). The 1960s Zeitgeist shift made LeMay "an embarrassment, mocked and vilified rather than venerated," which showed that the Washington rules had incurred serious damage in Vietnam; the Army was in dire shape (122; 121-27).

Yet astonishingly, in the subsequent decade the "sacred trinity" (cf. 11-15) was "fully restored" (127). As in post-1918 Germany, élites looked for scapegoats and worked to reverse "the war's apparent verdict" (128). The Council on Foreign Relations 1976 volume entitled The Vietnam Legacy: The War, American Society, and the Future of American Foreign Policy is an expression of élite consensus that the Vietnam war was insignificant, an anomaly (129-34).

By 1980, Democrats and Republicans were again on the same page (134-36).Reagan's election "sealed the triumph of Vietnam revisionism" (136; 136-38). Andthe end of the Cold War posed no challenge to the Washington rules, as Madeleine Albright's pretentious arrogance exemplifies (138-45).

Ch. 4: Reconstituting the Trinity

 The period from 1980 to 2000 saw "not retrenchment but reconfiguration" (147). The 

Except from Macmillan

Introduction: Slow Learner Worldly ambition inhibits true learning. Ask me. I know. A young man in a hurry is nearly uneducable: He knows what he wants and where he's headed; when it comes to looking back or entertaining heretical thoughts, he has neither the time nor the inclination. All that counts is that he is going somewhere. Only as ambition wanes does education become a possibility.

My own education did not commence until I had reached middle age. I can fix its start date with precision: For me, education began in Berlin, on a winter's evening, at the Brandenburg Gate, not long after the Berlin Wall had fallen. As an officer in the U.S. Army I had spent considerable time in Germany. Until that moment, however, my family and I had never had occasion to visit this most famous of German cities, still littered with artifacts of a deeply repellent history. At the end of a long day of exploration, we found ourselves in what had, until just months before, been the communist East. It was late and we were hungry, but I insisted on walking the length of the Unter den Linden, from the River Spree to the gate itself. A cold rain was falling and the pavement glistened. The buildings lining the avenue, dating from the era of Prussian kings, were dark, dirty, and pitted. Few people were about. It was hardly a night for sightseeing. For as long as I could remember, the Brandenburg Gate had been the preeminent symbol of the age and Berlin the epicenter of contemporary history. 

Yet by the time I made it to the once and future German capital, history was already moving on. The Cold War had abruptly ended. A divided city and a divided nation had re united. For Americans who had known Berlin only from a distance, the city existed primarily as a metaphor. Pick a date— 1933, 1942, 1945, 1948, 1961, 1989—and Berlin becomes an instructive symbol of power, depravity, tragedy, defiance, endurance, or vindication. For those inclined to view the past as a chronicle of parables, the modern history of Berlin offered an abundance of material. The greatest of those parables emerged from the events of 1933 to 1945, an epic tale of evil ascendant, belatedly confronted, then heroically overthrown.

A second narrative, woven from events during the intense period immediately following World War II, saw hopes for peace dashed, yielding bitter antagonism but also great resolve. The ensuing stand-off—the "long twilight struggle," in John Kennedy's memorable phrase— formed the centerpiece of the third parable, its central theme stubborn courage in the face of looming peril. Finally came the exhilarating events of 1989, with freedom ultimately prevailing, not only in Berlin, but throughout Eastern Europe.

.... ... ...

Although commonly depicted as the most advanced and successful component of the Soviet Empire, East Germany more closely resembled part of the undeveloped world.

... ... ...

Briquettes of soft coal used for home heating made the air all but unbreathable and coated everything with soot. In the German cities we knew, pastels predominated—houses and apartment blocks painted pale green, muted salmon, and soft yellow. Here everything was brown and gray

... ... ...

Bit by bit, my worldview started to crumble. That worldview had derived from this conviction: that American power manifested a commitment to global leadership, and that both together expressed and affirmed the nation's enduring devotion to its founding ideals. That American power, policies, and purpose were bound together in a neat, internally consistent package, each element drawing strength from and reinforcing the others, was something I took as a given. That, during my adult life, a penchant for interventionism had become a signature of U.S. policy did not—to me, at least—in any way contradict America's aspirations for peace. Instead, a willingness to expend lives and treasure in distant places testified to the seriousness of those aspirations. That, during this same period, the United States had amassed an arsenal of over thirty-one thousand nuclear weapons, some small number of them assigned to units in which I had served, was not at odds with our belief in the inalienable right to life and liberty; rather, threats to life and liberty had compelled the United States to acquire such an arsenal and maintain it in readiness for instant use.2 I was not so naive as to believe that the American record had been without flaws. Yet I assured myself that any errors or misjudgments had been committed in good faith. Furthermore, circumstances permitted little real choice. In Southeast Asia as in Western Europe, in the Persian Gulf as in the Western Hemisphere, the United States had simply done what needed doing. Viable alternatives did not exist. To consent to any dilution of American power would be to forfeit global leadership, thereby putting at risk safety, prosperity, and freedom, not only our own but also that of our friends and allies.

The choices seemed clear enough. On one side was the status quo: the commitments, customs, and habits that defined American globalism, implemented by the national security apparatus within which I functioned as a small cog. On the other side was the prospect of appeasement, isolationism, and catastrophe. The only responsible course was the one to which every president since Harry Truman had adhered. For me, the Cold War had played a crucial role in sustaining that worldview.

Given my age, upbringing, and professional background, it could hardly have been otherwise. Although the great rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union had contained moments of considerable anxiety — I remember my father, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, stocking our basement with water and canned goods — it served primarily to clarify, not to frighten.

The Cold War provided a framework that organized and made sense of contemporary history. It offered a lineup and a scorecard. That there existed bad Germans and good Germans, their Germans and our Germans, totalitarian Germans and Germans who, like Americans, passionately loved freedom was, for example, a proposition I accepted as dogma. Seeing the Cold War as a struggle between good and evil answered many questions, consigned others to the periphery, and rendered still others irrelevant.

Back in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, more than a few members of my generation had rejected the conception of the Cold War as a Manichean struggle. Here too, I was admittedly a slow learner. Yet having kept the faith long after others had lost theirs, the doubts that eventually assailed me were all the more disorienting. Granted, occasional suspicions had appeared long before Jena and Berlin

My own Vietnam experience had generated its share, which I had done my best to suppress. I was, after all, a serving soldier. Except in the narrowest of terms, the military profession, in those days at least, did not look kindly on nonconformity. Climbing the ladder of career success required curbing maverick tendencies. To get ahead, you needed to be a team player. Later, when studying the history of U.S. foreign relations in graduate school, I was pelted with challenges to orthodoxy, which I vigorously deflected. When it came to education, graduate school proved a complete waste of time — a period of intense study devoted to the further accumulation of facts, while I exerted myself to ensuring that they remained inert.

Now, however, my personal circumstances were changing. Shortly after the passing of the Cold War, my military career ended. Education thereby became not only a possibility, but also a necessity. In measured doses, mortification cleanses the soul. It's the perfect antidote for excessive self-regard. After twenty-three years spent inside the U.S. Army seemingly going somewhere, I now found myself on the outside going nowhere in particular. In the self-contained and cloistered universe of regimental life, I had briefly risen to the status of minor spear carrier. The instant I took off my uniform, that status vanished. I soon came to a proper appreciation of my own insignificance, a salutary lesson that I ought to have absorbed many years earlier. As I set out on what eventually became a crablike journey toward a new calling as a teacher and writer—a pilgrimage of sorts—ambition in the commonly accepted meaning of the term ebbed. This did not happen all at once. Yet gradually, trying to grab one of life's shiny brass rings ceased being a major preoccupation.

Wealth, power, and celebrity became not aspirations but subjects for critical analysis.

History—especially the familiar narrative of the Cold War—no longer offered answers; instead, it posed perplexing riddles. Easily the most nagging was this one: How could I have so profoundly misjudged the reality of what lay on the far side of the Iron Curtain? Had I been insufficiently attentive? Or was it possible that I had been snookered all along? Contemplating such questions, while simultaneously witnessing the unfolding of the "long 1990s"— the period bookended by two wars with Iraq when American vainglory reached impressive new heights—prompted the realization that I had grossly misinterpreted the threat posed by America's adversaries. Yet that was the lesser half of the problem. Far worse than misperceiving "them" was the fact that I had misperceived "us." What I thought I knew best I actually understood least. Here, the need for education appeared especially acute.

George W. Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition. Claims that once seemed elementary—above all, claims relating to the essentially benign purposes of American power— now appeared preposterous. The contradictions that found an ostensibly peace-loving nation committing itself to a doctrine of preventive war became too great to ignore. The folly and hubris of the policy makers who heedlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended "global war on terror" without the foggiest notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won, and what it might cost approached standards hitherto achieved only by slightly mad German warlords. During the era of containment, the United States had at least maintained the pretense of a principled strategy; now, the last vestiges of principle gave way to fantasy and opportunism. With that, the worldview to which I had adhered as a young adult and carried into middle age dissolved completely. *

What should stand in the place of such discarded convictions? Simply inverting the conventional wisdom, substituting a new Manichean paradigm for the old discredited version—the United States taking the place of the Soviet Union as the source of the world's evil—would not suffice. Yet arriving at even an approximation of truth would entail subjecting conventional wisdom, both present and past, to sustained and searching scrutiny. Cautiously at first but with growing confidence, this I vowed to do. Doing so meant shedding habits of conformity acquired over decades. All of my adult life I had been a company man, only dimly aware of the extent to which institutional loyalties induce myopia. Asserting independence required first recognizing the extent to which I had been socialized to accept certain things as unimpeachable. Here then were the preliminary steps essential to making education accessible. Over a period of years, a considerable store of debris had piled up. Now, it all had to go. Belatedly, I learned that more often than not what passes for conventional wisdom is simply wrong. Adopting fashionable attitudes to demonstrate one's trustworthiness—the world of politics is flush with such people hoping thereby to qualify for inclusion in some inner circle—is akin to engaging in prostitution in exchange for promissory notes. It's not only demeaning but downright foolhardy. This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom in its most influential and enduring form, namely the package of assumptions, habits, and precepts that have defined the tradition of statecraft to which the United States has adhered since the end of World War II— the era of global dominance now drawing to a close. This postwar tradition combines two components, each one so deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from view.

The first component specifies norms according to which the international order ought to work and charges the United States with responsibility for enforcing those norms. Call this the American credo. In the simplest terms, the credo summons the United States—and the United States alone—to lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world. In a celebrated manifesto issued at the dawn of what he termed "The American Century," Henry R. Luce made the case for this spacious conception of global leadership. Writing in Life magazine in early 1941, the influential publisher exhorted his fellow citizens to "accept wholeheartedly our duty 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." Luce thereby captured what remains even today the credo's essence.3 Luce's concept of an American Century, an age of unquestioned American global primacy, resonated, especially in Washington. His evocative phrase found a permanent place in the lexicon of national politics. (Recall that the neoconservatives who, in the 1990s, lobbied for more militant U.S. policies named their enterprise the Project for a New American Century.) So, too, did Luce's expansive claim of prerogatives to be exercised by the United States.

Even today, whenever public figures allude to America's responsibility to lead, they signal their fidelity to this creed. Along with respectful allusions to God and "the troops," adherence to Luce's credo has become a de facto prerequisite for high office. Question its claims and your prospects of being heard in the hubbub of national politics become nil. Note, however, that the duty Luce ascribed to Americans has two components. It is not only up to Americans, he wrote, to choose the purposes for which they would bring their influence to bear, but to choose the means as well. Here we confront the second component of the postwar tradition of American statecraft. With regard to means, that tradition has emphasized activism over example, hard power over soft, and coercion (often styled "negotiating from a position of strength") over suasion. Above all, the exercise of global leadership as prescribed by the credo obliges the United States to maintain military capabilities staggeringly in excess of those required for self-defense. Prior to World War II, Americans by and large viewed military power and institutions with skepticism, if not outright hostility. In the wake of World War II, that changed. An affinity for military might emerged as central to the American identity. By the midpoint of the twentieth century, "the Pentagon" had ceased to be merely a gigantic five-sided building.

Like "Wall Street" at the end of the nineteenth century, it had become Leviathan, its actions veiled in secrecy, its reach extending around the world. Yet while the concentration of power in Wall Street had once evoked deep fear and suspicion, Americans by and large saw the concentration of power in the Pentagon as benign. Most found it reassuring. A people who had long seen standing armies as a threat to liberty now came to believe that the preservation of liberty required them to lavish resources on the armed forces. During the Cold War, Americans worried ceaselessly about falling behind the Russians, even though the Pentagon consistently maintained a position of overall primacy. Once the Soviet threat disappeared, mere primacy no longer sufficed. With barely a whisper of national debate, unambiguous and perpetual global military supremacy emerged as an essential predicate to global leadership. Every great military power has its distinctive signature. For Napoleonic France, it was the levée en masse— the people in arms animated by the ideals of the Revolution. For Great Britain in the heyday of empire, it was command of the seas, sustained by a dominant fleet and a network of far-flung outposts from Gibraltar and the Cape of Good Hope to Singapore and Hong Kong. Germany from the 1860s to the 1940s (and Israel from 1948 to 1973) took another approach, relying on a potent blend of tactical flexibility and operational audacity to achieve battlefield superiority.

The abiding signature of American military power since World War II has been of a different order altogether. The United States has not specialized in any particular type of war. It has not adhered to a fixed tactical style. No single service or weapon has enjoyed consistent favor. At times, the armed forces have relied on citizen-soldiers to fill their ranks; at other times, long-service professionals. Yet an examination of the past sixty years of U.S. military policy and practice does reveal important elements of continuity. Call them the sacred trinity: an abiding conviction that the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism. Together, credo and trinity—the one defining purpose, the other practice—constitute the essence of the way that Washington has attempted to govern and police the American Century. The relationship between the two is symbiotic. The trinity lends plausibility to the credo's vast claims. For its part, the credo justifies the trinity's vast requirements and exertions.

Together they provide the basis for an enduring consensus that imparts a consistency to U.S. policy regardless of which political party may hold the upper hand or who may be occupying the White House. From the era of Harry Truman to the age of Barack Obama, that consensus has remained intact. It defines the rules to which Washington adheres; it determines the precepts by which Washington rules. As used here, Washington is less a geographic expression than a set of interlocking institutions headed by people who, whether acting officially or unofficially, are able to put a thumb on the helm of state. Washington, in this sense, includes the upper echelons of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government. It encompasses the principal components of the national security state— the departments of Defense, State, and, more recently, Homeland Security, along with various agencies comprising the intelligence and federal law enforcement communities. Its ranks extend to select think tanks and interest groups. Lawyers, lobbyists, fixers, former officials, and retired military officers who still enjoy access are members in good standing. Yet Washington also reaches beyond the Beltway to include big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

With rare exceptions, acceptance of the Washington rules forms a prerequisite for entry into this world. My purpose in writing this book is fivefold: first, to trace the origins and evolution of the Washington rules—both the credo that inspires consensus and the trinity in which it finds expression; second, to subject the resulting consensus to critical inspection, showing who wins and who loses and also who foots the bill; third, to explain how the Washington rules are perpetuated, with certain views privileged while others are declared disreputable; fourth, to demonstrate that the rules themselves have lost whatever utility they may once have possessed, with their implications increasingly pernicious and their costs increasingly unaffordable; and finally, to argue for readmitting disreputable (or "radical") views to our national security debate, in effect legitimating alternatives to the status quo. In effect, my aim is to invite readers to share in the process of education on which I embarked two decades ago in Berlin. The Washington rules were forged at a moment when American influence and power were approaching their acme. That moment has now passed. The United States has drawn down the stores of authority and goodwill it had acquired by 1945. Words uttered in Washington command less respect than once was the case. Americans can ill afford to indulge any longer in dreams of saving the world, much less remaking it in our own image. The curtain is now falling on the American Century. Similarly, the United States no longer possesses sufficient wherewithal to sustain a national security strategy that relies on global military presence and global power projection to underwrite a policy of global interventionism. Touted as essential to peace, adherence to that strategy has propelled the United States into a condition approximating perpetual war, as the military misadventures of the past decade have demonstrated.

To anyone with eyes to see, the shortcomings inherent in the Washington rules have become plainly evident. Although those most deeply invested in perpetuating its conventions will insist otherwise, the tradition to which Washington remains devoted has begun to unravel. Attempting to prolong its existence might serve Washington's interests, but it will not serve the interests of the American people.

Devising an alternative to the reigning national security paradigm will pose a daunting challenge—especially if Americans look to "Washington" for fresh thinking. Yet doing so has become essential. In one sense, the national security policies to which Washington so insistently adheres express what has long been the preferred American approach to engaging the world beyond our borders. That approach plays to America's presumed strong suit—since World War II, and especially since the end of the Cold War, thought to be military power. In another sense, this reliance on military might creates excuses for the United States to avoid serious engagement: Confidence in American arms has made it unnecessary to attend to what others might think or to consider how their aspirations might differ from our own.

In this way, the Washington rules reinforce American provincialism—a national trait for which the United States continues to pay dearly. The persistence of these rules has also provided an excuse to avoid serious self-engagement. From this perspective, confidence that the credo and the trinity will oblige others to accommodate themselves to America's needs or desires — whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods—has allowed Washington to postpone or ignore problems demanding attention here at home.

Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan ends up taking precedence over fixing Cleveland and Detroit. Purporting to support the troops in their crusade to free the world obviates any obligation to assess the implications of how Americans themselves choose to exercise freedom. When Americans demonstrate a willingness to engage seriously with others, combined with the courage to engage seriously with themselves, then real education just might begin.

In their article ‘The American Century’ Has Plunged the World Into Crisis. What Happens Now?" Conn Hallinan and Leon Wofsy outlined important reasons  of the inevitability of the dominance of chicken hawks and jingoistic foreign policy in the USA political establishment:

June 22, 2015 | fpif.org

U.S. foreign policy is dangerous, undemocratic, and deeply out of sync with real global challenges. Is continuous war inevitable, or can we change course?

There’s something fundamentally wrong with U.S. foreign policy.

Despite glimmers of hope — a tentative nuclear agreement with Iran, for one, and a long-overdue thaw with Cuba — we’re locked into seemingly irresolvable conflicts in most regions of the world. They range from tensions with nuclear-armed powers like Russia and China to actual combat operations in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.

Why? Has a state of perpetual warfare and conflict become inescapable? Or are we in a self-replicating cycle that reflects an inability — or unwillingness — to see the world as it actually is?

The United States is undergoing a historic transition in our relationship to the rest of the world, but this is neither acknowledged nor reflected in U.S. foreign policy. We still act as if our enormous military power, imperial alliances, and self-perceived moral superiority empower us to set the terms of “world order.”

While this illusion goes back to the end of World War II, it was the end of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union that signaled the beginning of a self-proclaimed “American Century.” The idea that the United States had “won” the Cold War and now — as the world’s lone superpower — had the right or responsibility to order the world’s affairs led to a series of military adventures. It started with President Bill Clinton’s intervention in the Yugoslav civil war, continued on with George W. Bush’s disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and can still be seen in the Obama administration’s own misadventures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and beyond.

In each case, Washington chose war as the answer to enormously complex issues, ignoring the profound consequences for both foreign and domestic policy. Yet the world is very different from the assumptions that drive this impulsive interventionism.

It’s this disconnect that defines the current crisis.

Acknowledging New Realities

So what is it about the world that requires a change in our outlook? A few observations come to mind.

First, our preoccupation with conflicts in the Middle East — and to a significant extent, our tensions with Russia in Eastern Europe and with China in East Asia — distract us from the most compelling crises that threaten the future of humanity. Climate change and environmental perils have to be dealt with now and demand an unprecedented level of international collective action. That also holds for the resurgent danger of nuclear war.

Second, superpower military interventionism and far-flung acts of war have only intensified conflict, terror, and human suffering. There’s no short-term solution — especially by force — to the deep-seated problems that cause chaos, violence, and misery through much of the world.

Third, while any hope of curbing violence and mitigating the most urgent problems depends on international cooperation, old and disastrous intrigues over spheres of influence dominate the behavior of the major powers. Our own relentless pursuit of military advantage on every continent, including through alliances and proxies like NATO, divides the world into “friend” and “foe” according to our perceived interests. That inevitably inflames aggressive imperial rivalries and overrides common interests in the 21st century.

Fourth, while the United States remains a great economic power, economic and political influence is shifting and giving rise to national and regional centers no longer controlled by U.S.-dominated global financial structures. Away from Washington, London, and Berlin, alternative centers of economic power are taking hold in Beijing, New Delhi, Cape Town, and Brasilia. Independent formations and alliances are springing up: organizations like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (representing 2.8 billion people); the Union of South American Nations; the Latin American trade bloc, Mercosur; and others.

Beyond the problems our delusions of grandeur have caused in the wider world, there are enormous domestic consequences of prolonged war and interventionism. We shell out over $1 trillion a year in military-related expenses even as our social safety net frays and our infrastructure crumbles. Democracy itself has become virtually dysfunctional.

Short Memories and Persistent Delusions

But instead of letting these changing circumstances and our repeated military failures give us pause, our government continues to act as if the United States has the power to dominate and dictate to the rest of the world.

The responsibility of those who set us on this course fades into background. Indeed, in light of the ongoing meltdown in the Middle East, leading presidential candidates are tapping neoconservatives like John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz — who still think the answer to any foreign policy quandary is military power — for advice. Our leaders seem to forget that following this lot’s advice was exactly what caused the meltdown in the first place. War still excites them, risks and consequences be damned.

While the Obama administration has sought, with limited success, to end the major wars it inherited, our government makes wide use of killer drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and has put troops back into Iraq to confront the religious fanaticism and brutality of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) — itself a direct consequence of the last U.S. invasion of Iraq. Reluctant to find common ground in the fight against ISIS with designated “foes” like Iran and Syria, Washington clings to allies like Saudi Arabia, whose leaders are fueling the crisis of religious fanaticism and internecine barbarity. Elsewhere, the U.S. also continues to give massive support to the Israeli government, despite its expanding occupation of the West Bank and its horrific recurring assaults on Gaza.

A “war first” policy in places like Iran and Syria is being strongly pushed by neoconservatives like former Vice President Dick Cheney and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain. Though it’s attempted to distance itself from the neocons, the Obama administration adds to tensions with planned military realignments like the “Asia pivot” aimed at building up U.S. military forces in Asia to confront China. It’s also taken a more aggressive position than even other NATO partners in fostering a new cold war with Russia.

We seem to have missed the point: There is no such thing as an “American Century.” International order cannot be enforced by a superpower alone. But never mind centuries — if we don’t learn to take our common interests more seriously than those that divide nations and breed the chronic danger of war, there may well be no tomorrows.

Unexceptionalism

There’s a powerful ideological delusion that any movement seeking to change U.S. foreign policy must confront: that U.S. culture is superior to anything else on the planet. Generally going by the name of “American exceptionalism,” it’s the deeply held belief that American politics (and medicine, technology, education, and so on) are better than those in other countries. Implicit in the belief is an evangelical urge to impose American ways of doing things on the rest of the world.

Americans, for instance, believe they have the best education system in the world, when in fact they’ve dropped from 1st place to 14th place in the number of college graduates. We’ve made students of higher education the most indebted section of our population, while falling to 17th place in international education ratings. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation, the average American pays more than twice as much for his or her education than those in the rest of the world.

Health care is an equally compelling example. In the World Health Organization’s ranking of health care systems in 2000, the United States was ranked 37th. In a more recent Institute of Medicine report in 2013, the U.S. was ranked the lowest among 17 developed nations studied.

The old anti-war slogan, “It will be a good day when schools get all the money they need and the Navy has to hold a bake sale to buy an aircraft carrier” is as appropriate today as it was in the 1960s. We prioritize corporate subsidies, tax cuts for the wealthy, and massive military budgets over education. The result is that Americans are no longer among the most educated in the world.

But challenging the “exceptionalism” myth courts the danger of being labeled “unpatriotic” and “un-American,” two powerful ideological sanctions that can effectively silence critical or questioning voices.

The fact that Americans consider their culture or ideology “superior” is hardly unique. But no other country in the world has the same level of economic and military power to enforce its worldview on others.

The United States did not simply support Kosovo’s independence, for example. It bombed Serbia into de facto acceptance. When the U.S. decided to remove the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi from power, it just did so. No other country is capable of projecting that kind of force in regions thousands of miles from its borders.

The U.S. currently accounts for anywhere from 45 to 50 percent of the world’s military spending. It has hundreds of overseas bases, ranging from huge sprawling affairs like Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo and unsinkable aircraft carriers around the islands of Okinawa, Wake, Diego Garcia, and Guam to tiny bases called “lily pads” of pre-positioned military supplies. The late political scientist Chalmers Johnson estimated that the U.S. has some 800 bases worldwide, about the same as the British Empire had at its height in 1895.

The United States has long relied on a military arrow in its diplomatic quiver, and Americans have been at war almost continuously since the end of World War II. Some of these wars were major undertakings: Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), Libya. Some were quick “smash and grabs” like Panama and Grenada. Others are “shadow wars” waged by Special Forces, armed drones, and local proxies. If one defines the term “war” as the application of organized violence, the U.S. has engaged in close to 80 wars since 1945.

The Home Front

The coin of empire comes dear, as the old expression goes.

According Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the final butcher bill for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars — including the long-term health problems of veterans — will cost U.S. taxpayers around $6 trillion. One can add to that the over $1 trillion the U.S. spends each year on defense-related items. The “official” defense budget of some half a trillion dollars doesn’t include such items as nuclear weapons, veterans’ benefits or retirement, the CIA and Homeland Security, nor the billions a year in interest we’ll be paying on the debt from the Afghan-Iraq wars. By 2013 the U.S. had already paid out $316 billion in interest.

The domestic collateral damage from that set of priorities is numbing.

We spend more on our “official” military budget than we do on Medicare, Medicaid, Health and Human Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development combined. Since 9/11, we’ve spent $70 million an hour on “security” compared to $62 million an hour on all domestic programs.

As military expenditures dwarf funding for deteriorating social programs, they drive economic inequality. The poor and working millions are left further and further behind. Meanwhile the chronic problems highlighted at Ferguson, and reflected nationwide, are a horrific reminder of how deeply racism — the unequal economic and social divide and systemic abuse of black and Latino youth — continues to plague our homeland.

The state of ceaseless war has deeply damaged our democracy, bringing our surveillance and security state to levels that many dictators would envy. The Senate torture report, most of it still classified, shatters the trust we are asked to place in the secret, unaccountable apparatus that runs the most extensive Big Brother spy system ever devised.

Bombs and Business

President Calvin Coolidge was said to have remarked that “the business of America is business.” Unsurprisingly, U.S. corporate interests play a major role in American foreign policy.

Out of the top 10 international arms producers, eight are American. The arms industry spends millions lobbying Congress and state legislatures, and it defends its turf with an efficiency and vigor that its products don’t always emulate on the battlefield. The F-35 fighter-bomber, for example — the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history — will cost $1.5 trillion and doesn’t work. It’s over budget, dangerous to fly, and riddled with defects. And yet few lawmakers dare challenge the powerful corporations who have shoved this lemon down our throats.

Corporate interests are woven into the fabric of long-term U.S. strategic interests and goals. Both combine to try to control energy supplies, command strategic choke points through which oil and gas supplies transit, and ensure access to markets.

Many of these goals can be achieved with standard diplomacy or economic pressure, but the U.S. always reserves the right to use military force. The 1979 “Carter Doctrine” — a document that mirrors the 1823 Monroe Doctrine about American interests in Latin America — put that strategy in blunt terms vis-à-vis the Middle East:

 “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

It’s no less true in East Asia. The U.S. will certainly engage in peaceful economic competition with China. But if push comes to shove, the Third, Fifth, and Seventh fleets will back up the interests of Washington and its allies — Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Australia.

Trying to change the course of American foreign policy is not only essential for reducing international tensions. It’s critically important to shift the enormous wealth we expend in war and weapons toward alleviating growing inequality and social crises at home.

As long as competition for markets and accumulation of capital characterize modern society, nations will vie for spheres of influence, and antagonistic interests will be a fundamental feature of international relations. Chauvinist reaction to incursions real or imagined — and the impulse to respond by military means — is characteristic to some degree of every significant nation-state. Yet the more that some governments, including our own, become subordinate to oligarchic control, the greater is the peril.

Finding the Common Interest

These, however, are not the only factors that will shape the future.

There is nothing inevitable that rules out a significant change of direction, even if the demise or transformation of a capitalistic system of greed and exploitation is not at hand. The potential for change, especially in U.S. foreign policy, resides in how social movements here and abroad respond to the undeniable reality of: 1) the chronic failure, massive costs, and danger inherent in “American Century” exceptionalism; and 2) the urgency of international efforts to respond to climate change.

There is, as well, the necessity to respond to health and natural disasters aggravated by poverty, to rising messianic violence, and above all, to prevent a descent into war. This includes not only the danger of a clash between the major nuclear powers, but between regional powers. A nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India, for example, would affect the whole world.

Without underestimating the self-interest of forces that thrive on gambling with the future of humanity, historic experience and current reality elevate a powerful common interest in peace and survival. The need to change course is not something that can be recognized on only one side of an ideological divide. Nor does that recognition depend on national, ethnic, or religious identity. Rather, it demands acknowledging the enormous cost of plunging ahead as everything falls apart around us.

After the latest U.S. midterm elections, the political outlook is certainly bleak. But experience shows that elections, important as they are, are not necessarily indicators of when and how significant change can come about in matters of policy. On issues of civil rights and social equality, advances have occurred because a dedicated and persistent minority movement helped change public opinion in a way the political establishment could not defy.

The Vietnam War, for example, came to an end, despite the stubbornness of Democratic and Republican administrations, when a stalemate on the battlefield and growing international and domestic opposition could no longer be denied. Significant changes can come about even as the basic character of society is retained. Massive resistance and rejection of colonialism caused the British Empire and other colonial powers to adjust to a new reality after World War II. McCarthyism was eventually defeated in the United States. President Nixon was forced to resign. The use of landmines and cluster bombs has been greatly restricted because of the opposition of a small band of activists whose initial efforts were labeled “quixotic.”

There are diverse and growing political currents in our country that see the folly and danger of the course we’re on. Many Republicans, Democrats, independents, and libertarians — and much of the public — are beginning to say “enough” to war and military intervention all over the globe, and the folly of basing foreign policy on dividing countries into “friend or foe.”

This is not to be Pollyannaish about anti-war sentiment, or how quickly people can be stampeded into supporting the use of force. In early 2014, some 57 percent of Americans agreed that “over-reliance on military force creates more hatred leading to increased terrorism.” Only 37 percent believed military force was the way to go. But once the hysteria around the Islamic State began, those numbers shifted to pretty much an even split: 47 percent supported the use of military force, 46 percent opposed it.

It will always be necessary in each new crisis to counter those who mislead and browbeat the public into acceptance of another military intervention. But in spite of the current hysterics about ISIS, disillusionment in war as an answer is probably greater now among Americans and worldwide than it has ever been. That sentiment may prove strong enough to produce a shift away from perpetual war, a shift toward some modesty and common-sense realism in U.S. foreign policy.

Making Space for the Unexpected

Given that there is a need for a new approach, how can American foreign policy be changed?

Foremost, there is the need for a real debate on the thrust of a U.S. foreign policy that chooses negotiation, diplomacy, and international cooperation over the use of force.

However, as we approach another presidential election, there is as yet no strong voice among the candidates to challenge U.S. foreign policy. Fear and questionable political calculation keep even most progressive politicians from daring to dissent as the crisis of foreign policy lurches further into perpetual militarism and war. That silence of political acquiescence has to be broken.

Nor is it a matter of concern only on the left. There are many Americans — right, left, or neither — who sense the futility of the course we’re on. These voices have to be represented or the election process will be even more of a sham than we’ve recently experienced.

One can’t predict just what initiatives may take hold, but the recent U.S.-China climate agreement suggests that necessity can override significant obstacles. That accord is an important step forward, although a limited bilateral pact cannot substitute for an essential international climate treaty. There is a glimmer of hope also in the U.S.-Russian joint action that removed chemical weapons from Syria, and in negotiations with Iran, which continue despite fierce opposition from U.S. hawks and the Israeli government. More recently, there is Obama’s bold move — long overdue — to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. Despite shifts in political fortunes, the unexpected can happen if there is a need and strong enough pressure to create an opportunity.

We do not claim to have ready-made solutions to the worsening crisis in international relations. We are certain that there is much we’ve missed or underestimated. But if readers agree that U.S. foreign policy has a national and global impact, and that it is not carried out in the interests of the majority of the world’s people, including our own, then we ask you to join this conversation.

If we are to expand the ability of the people to influence foreign policy, we need to defend democracy, and encourage dissent and alternative ideas. The threats to the world and to ourselves are so great that finding common ground trumps any particular interest. We also know that we won’t all agree with each other, and we believe that is as it should be. There are multiple paths to the future. No coalition around changing foreign policy will be successful if it tells people to conform to any one pattern of political action.

So how does the call for changing course translate to something politically viable, and how do we consider the problem of power?

The power to make significant changes in policy ranges from the persistence of peace activists to the potential influence of the general public. In some circumstances, it becomes possible — as well as necessary — to make significant changes in the power structure itself.

Greece comes to mind. Greek left organizations came together to form Syriza, the political party that was successfully elected to power on a platform of ending austerity. Spain’s anti-austerity Podemos Party — now the number-two party in the country — came out of massive demonstrations in 2011 and was organized from the grassroots up. We do not argue one approach over the over, but the experiences in both countries demonstrate that there are multiple paths to generating change.

Certainly progressives and leftists grapple with the problems of power. But progress on issues, particularly in matters like war and peace and climate change, shouldn’t be conceived of as dependent on first achieving general solutions to the problems of society, however desirable.

... ... ...

Conn Hallinan is a journalist and a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus. His writings appear online at Dispatches From the Edge. Leon Wofsy is a retired biology professor and long-time political activist. His comments on current affairs appear online at Leon’s OpEd.


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[Jul 19, 2018] America Overrules Trump No Peace with Russia by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Notable quotes:
"... The governments of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, if their countries are to survive, must give up their deluded hopes of reaching agreements with the United States. No such possibility exists on terms that the countries can accept. ..."
"... American foreign policy rests on threat and force. It is guided by the neoconservative doctrine of US hegemony, a doctrine that is inconsistent with accepting the sovereignty of other countries. ..."
"... The Russians -- especially the naive Atlanticist Integrationists -- should take note of the extreme hostility, indeed, to the point of insanity, directed at the Helsinki meeting across the entirety of the American political, media, and intellectual scene ..."
"... There is no support for Trump's agenda of peace with Russia in the US foreign policy arena. The president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, spoke for them all when he declared that "We must deal with Putin's Russia as the rogue state it is." Russia is a " rogue state" simply because Russia does not accept Washington's overlordship. ..."
"... There is no support even in Trump's own government for normalizing relations with Russia unless the neoconservative definition of normal relations is used. By normal relations neoconservatives mean a vassal state relationship with Washington. That, and only that, is "normal." Russia can have normal relations with America only on the basis of this definition of normal. Sooner or later Putin and Lavrov will have to acknowledge this fact. ..."
"... A lie repeated over and over becomes a fact. That is what has happened to Russiagate. Despite the total absence of any evidence, it is now a fact in America that Putin himself put Trump in the Oval Office. That Trump met with Putin at Helsinki is considered proof that Trump is Putin's lackey, as the New York Times and many others now assert as self-evident. That Trump stood next to "the murderous thug Putin" and accepted Putin's word that Russia did not interfere in the election of the US president is regarded as double proof that Trump is in Putin's pocket and that the Russiagate story is true. ..."
Jul 19, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

The governments of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, if their countries are to survive, must give up their deluded hopes of reaching agreements with the United States. No such possibility exists on terms that the countries can accept.

American foreign policy rests on threat and force. It is guided by the neoconservative doctrine of US hegemony, a doctrine that is inconsistent with accepting the sovereignty of other countries. The only way that Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea can reach an agreement with Washington is to become vassals like the UK, all of Europe, Canada, Japan, and Australia.

The Russians -- especially the naive Atlanticist Integrationists -- should take note of the extreme hostility, indeed, to the point of insanity, directed at the Helsinki meeting across the entirety of the American political, media, and intellectual scene. Putin is incorrect that US-Russian relations are being held hostage to an internal US political struggle between the two parties. The Republicans are just as insane and just as hostile to President Trump's effort to improve American-Russian relations as the Democrats, as Donald Jeffries reminds us .

The American rightwing is just as opposed as the leftwing. Only a few experts, such as Stephen Cohen and Amb. Jack Matlock , President Reagan's ambassador to the Soviet Union, have spoken out in support of Trump's attempt to reduce the dangerous tensions between the nuclear powers. Only a few pundits have explained the actual facts and the stakes.

There is no support for Trump's agenda of peace with Russia in the US foreign policy arena. The president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, spoke for them all when he declared that "We must deal with Putin's Russia as the rogue state it is." Russia is a " rogue state" simply because Russia does not accept Washington's overlordship. Not for any other reason.

There is no support even in Trump's own government for normalizing relations with Russia unless the neoconservative definition of normal relations is used. By normal relations neoconservatives mean a vassal state relationship with Washington. That, and only that, is "normal." Russia can have normal relations with America only on the basis of this definition of normal. Sooner or later Putin and Lavrov will have to acknowledge this fact.

A lie repeated over and over becomes a fact. That is what has happened to Russiagate. Despite the total absence of any evidence, it is now a fact in America that Putin himself put Trump in the Oval Office. That Trump met with Putin at Helsinki is considered proof that Trump is Putin's lackey, as the New York Times and many others now assert as self-evident. That Trump stood next to "the murderous thug Putin" and accepted Putin's word that Russia did not interfere in the election of the US president is regarded as double proof that Trump is in Putin's pocket and that the Russiagate story is true.

[Jul 19, 2018] The Magnitsky Hoax by Philip Giraldi

A more serious question is: Was Browder MI6 agent or not? His conversion from the US to UK citizenship is highly unusual.
Notable quotes:
"... "The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes," ..."
"... Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man's Fight for Justice ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
Jun 28, 2016 | www.unz.com

... ... ...

... I had the privilege of attending the first by invitation only screening of a documentary "The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes," produced by Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov. The documentary had been blocked in Europe through lawsuits filed by some of the parties linked to the prevailing narrative but the Newseum in Washington eventually proved willing to permit rental of a viewing room in spite of threats coming from the same individuals to sue to stop the showing.

Nekrasov by his own account had intended to do a documentary honoring Magnitsky and his employers as champions for human rights within an increasing fragile Russian democracy. He had previously produced documentaries highly critical of Russian actions in Chechnya, Georgia and Ukraine, and also regarding the assassinations of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London as well as of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow. He has been critical of Vladimir Putin personally and was not regarded as someone who was friendly to the regime, quite the contrary. Some of his work has been banned in Russia.

After his documentary was completed using actors to play the various real-life personalities involved and was being edited Nekrasov returned to some issues that had come up during the interviews made during the filming. The documentary records how he sought clarification of what he was reading and hearing but one question inevitably led to another.

The documentary began with the full participation of American born UK citizen William Browder, who virtually served as narrator for the first section that portrayed the widely accepted story on Magnitsky. Browder portrays himself as a human rights campaigner dedicated to promoting the legacy of Sergei Magnitsky, but he is inevitably much more complicated than that. The grandson of Earl Browder the former General Secretary of the American Communist Party, William Browder studied economics at the University of Chicago, and obtained an MBA from Stanford.

From the beginning, Browder concentrated on Eastern Europe, which was beginning to open up to the west. In 1989 he took a position at highly respected Boston Consulting Group dealing with reviving failing Polish socialist enterprises. He then worked as an Eastern Europe analyst for Robert Maxwell, the unsavory British press magnate and Mossad spy, before joining the Russia team at Wall Street's Salomon Brothers in 1992.

He left Salomon in 1996 and partnered with the controversial Edmond Safra, the Lebanese-Brazilian-Jewish banker who died in a mysterious fire in 1999, to set up Hermitage Capital Management Fund. Hermitage is registered in tax havens Guernsey and the Cayman Islands. It is a hedge fund that was focused on "investing" in Russia, taking advantage initially of the loans-for-shares scheme under Boris Yeltsin, and then continuing to profit greatly during the early years of Vladimir Putin's ascendancy. By 2005 Hermitage was the largest foreign investor in Russia.

Browder had renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1997 and became a British citizen apparently to avoid American taxes, which are levied on worldwide income. In his book Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man's Fight for Justice he depicts himself as an honest and honorable Western businessman attempting to function in a corrupt Russian business world. That may or may not be true, but the loans-for-shares scheme that made him his initial fortune has been correctly characterized as the epitome of corruption, an arrangement whereby foreign investors worked with local oligarchs to strip the former Soviet economy of its assets paying pennies on each dollar of value. Along the way, Browder was reportedly involved in making false representations on official documents and bribery.

As a consequence of what came to be known as the Magnitsky scandal, Browder was eventually charged by the Russian authorities for fraud and tax evasion. He was banned from re-entering Russia in 2005, even before Magnitsky died, and began to withdraw his assets from the country. Three companies controlled by Hermitage were eventually seized by the authorities, though it is not clear if any assets remained in Russia. Browder himself was convicted of tax evasion in absentia in 2013 and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Browder has assiduously, and mostly successfully, made his case that he and Magnitsky have been the victims of Russian corruption both during and since that time, though there have been skeptics regarding many details of his personal narrative. He has been able to sell his tale to leading American politicians like Senators John McCain, Ben Cardin and ex-Senator Joe Lieberman, always receptive when criticizing Russia, as well as to a number of European parliamentarians and media outlets. But there is, inevitably, another side to the story, something quite different, which Andrei Nekrasov presents to the viewer.

Nekrasov has discovered what he believes to be holes in the narrative that has been carefully constructed and nurtured by Browder. He provides documents and also an interview with Magnitsky's mother maintaining that there is no clear evidence that he was beaten or tortured and that he died instead due to the failure to provide him with medicine while in prison or treatment shortly after he had a heart attack. A subsequent investigation ordered by then Russian President Dimitri Medvedev in 2011 confirmed that Magnitsky had not received medical treatment, contributing to this death, but could not confirm that he had been beaten even though there was suspicion that that might have been the case.

Nekrasov also claims that much of the case against the Russian authorities is derived from English language translations of relevant documents provided by Browder himself. The actual documents sometimes say something quite different. Magnitsky is referred to as an accountant, not a lawyer, which would make sense as a document of his deposition is apparently part of a criminal investigation of possible tax fraud, meaning that he was no whistleblower and was instead a suspected criminal.

Other discrepancies cited by Nekrasov include documents demonstrating that Magnitsky did not file any complaint about police and other government officials who were subsequently cited by Browder as participants in the plot, that the documents allegedly stolen from Magnitsky to enable the plotters to transfer possession of three Hermitage controlled companies were irrelevant to how the companies eventually were transferred and that someone else employed by Hermitage other than Magnitsky actually initiated investigation of the fraud.

In conclusion, Nekrasov believes there was indeed a huge fraud related to Russian taxes but that it was not carried out by corrupt officials. Instead, it was deliberately ordered and engineered by Browder with Magnitsky, the accountant, personally developing and implementing the scheme used to carry out the deception.

To be sure, Browder and his international legal team have presented documents in the case that contradict much of what Nekrasov has presented in his film. But in my experience as an intelligence officer I have learned that documents are easily forged, altered, or destroyed so considerable care must be exercised in discovering the provenance and authenticity of the evidence being provided. It is not clear that that has been the case. It might be that Browder and Magnitsky have been the victims of a corrupt and venal state, but it just might be the other way around. In my experience perceived wisdom on any given subject usually turns out to be incorrect.

Given the adversarial positions staked out, either Browder or Nekrasov is essentially right, though one should not rule out a combination of greater or lesser malfeasance coming from both sides. But certainly Browder should be confronted more intensively on the nature of his business activities while in Russia and not given a free pass because he is saying things about Russia and Putin that fit neatly into a Washington establishment profile. As soon as folks named McCain, Cardin and Lieberman jump on a cause it should be time to step back a bit and reflect on what the consequences of proposed action might be.

One should ask why anyone who has a great deal to gain by having a certain narrative accepted should be completely and unquestionably trusted, the venerable Cui bono? standard. And then there is a certain evasiveness on the part of Browder. The film shows him huffing and puffing to explain himself at times and he has avoided being served with subpoenas on allegations connected to the Magnitsky fraud that are making their way through American courts. In one case he can be seen on YouTube running away from a server, somewhat unusual behavior if he has nothing to hide.

A number of Congressmen and staffers were invited to the showing of the Nekrasov documentary at the Newseum but it is not clear if any of them actually bothered to attend, demonstrating once again how America's legislature operates inside a bubble of willful ignorance of its own making. Nor was the event reported in the local "newspaper of record" the Washington Post , which has been consistently hostile to Russia on its editorial and news pages.

A serious effort that a friend of mine described as "hell breaking loose" was also made to disrupt the question and answer session that followed the viewing of the film, with a handful of clearly coordinated hecklers interrupting and making it impossible for others to speak. The organized intruders, who may have gained entry using invitations that were sent to congressmen, suggested that someone at least considers this game being played out to have very high stakes.

The point is that neither Nekrasov nor Browder should be taken at their word. Either or both might be lying and the motivation to make mischief is very high if even a portion of the stolen $230 million is still floating around and available. And by the same measure, no Congressman or even the President should trust the established narrative, particularly if they persist in their hypocritical conceit that global human

Notheroldguy , August 8, 2017 at 9:12 pm GMT

Gee, I know G. was a spook of some kind and I always read his articles wherever they turn up.. but how could he get this wrong unless on purpose: Magnitsky was no lawyer. He was an accountant and he was a co-conspirator in the frauds being perpetrated that resulted in the charges. He died alright but there is some shading to the thesis that the fraudsters had him bumped off because they knew he was a weak link. They bribed somebody in the prison to deny him medical care. Hey, much like they did to Milosevic knowing they couldn't convict him of their trumped up charges. Why would G. get wrong such a simple thing to determine? Hmm. I wonder..
anon Disclaimer , August 8, 2017 at 9:45 pm GMT
Why would you continue the falsehood of calling Magnitsky a lawyer? He was not a lawyer. Ever. He is and was an accountant and will remain that until Judgement Day. On the other other hand, calling him a lawyer is perhaps an even greater insult than calling him an accountant.

[Jul 19, 2018] Iraqi protesters blame 'bad government, bad roads, bad people' by Patrick Cockburn

Notable quotes:
"... The Independent ..."
"... Read the first piece in Patrick Cockburn's latest series, 'Catastrophic drought threatens Iraq as major dams in surrounding countries cut off water to its great rivers', here . ..."
"... Part II, 'For this Iraqi tribe massacred by Isis, fear of the group's return is a constant reality', here ..."
"... Part III, 'After series of calamitous defeats, is Isis about to lose its last town?', here . ..."
"... Part III, 'Iraq unrest: Chaos reigns in the country even Saddam Hussein 'found difficult to rule', here. ..."
Jul 17, 2018 | www.unz.com

"The people want an end to the parties," chanted protesters, adapting a famous slogan of the Arab Spring , as they stormed the governor's office and the international airport in the Shia holy city of Najaf.

Part of the wave of demonstrations sweeping across central and southern Iraq, they demanded jobs, electricity, water and an end to the mass theft of Iraq's oil wealth by the political parties.

Beginning on 8 July, the protests are the biggest and most prolonged in a country where anti-government action has usually taken the form of armed insurgency.

The demonstrations are taking place in the heartlands of the Shia majority, reflecting their outrage at living on top of some of the world's largest oilfields, but seeing their families barely survive in squalor and poverty.

The protests began in Basra, Iraq's third largest city which is at the centre of 70 per cent of its oil production. A hand-written placard held up by one demonstrator neatly expresses popular frustration. It read:

"2,500,000 barrels daily
Price of each barrel = $70
2,500,000 x $70 = zero !!
Sorry Pythagoras, we are in Basra"

The protests quickly spread to eight other provinces, including Najaf, Kerbala, Nasariya and Amara.

In several places, the offices of the Dawa Party, to which the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi belongs, were burned or attacked, along with those of parties whom people blame for looting oil revenues worth hundreds of billions of dollars in the 15 years since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

As the situation deteriorated, Mr Abadi flew to Basra on 13 July, promising to make $3bn available to improve services and provide more jobs. After he left, his hotel was invaded by protesters.

The credibility of almost all Iraqi politicians is at a low ebb, the acute feeling of disillusionment illustrated by the low 44.5 per cent turnout in the parliamentary election on 12 May that produced no outright winner.

The poll was unexpectedly topped by the Sairoun movement of the populist nationalist cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who has encouraged his followers to start protests against government corruption and lack of services since 2015.

The Sadrists, who emphasised their socially and economically progressive programme by allying themselves with the Iraqi Communist Party in the election, are playing a role in the current protests.

The demonstrations are also backed by the prestigious Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. At ground level, political activists and tribal leaders have set up a joint committee called "the Coordination Board for Peaceful Protests and Demonstrations in Basra", its purpose being to produce a list of demands, unite the protest movement, and keep their actions non-violent.

"The ends don't justify the means," says the committee in a statement. "Let us, being oppressed, not lead to the oppression of others."

A list of 17 demands is headed by one asking for a government timetable for supplying water and electricity, both of which are short at a time of year when the temperature sometime exceeds 50C, making it one of the hottest places on earth.

Local people claim that the last time that the port city of Basra, once called the Venice of the Gulf, had an adequate supply of drinking water was in 1982. Iran had been supplying some extra electricity, but has cut this back because of its own needs and failure of Iraq to pay on time.

The second demand of the protesters is for jobs with "priority to the competent sons of Basra", the discharge of foreign labourers and employment for a quarter of people living in the oilfields.

Lack of jobs is a source of continuing complaint all over Iraq. Much of its oil income already goes on paying 4.5 million state employees, but between 400,000 and 420,000 young people enter the workforce every year with little prospects of employment.

Anger towards the entire political class is intense because it is seen as a kleptocratic group which syphoned off money in return for contracts that existed only on paper and produced no new power plants, bridges or roads.

Political parties are at the centre of this corruption because they choose ministries, according to their share of the vote in elections or their sectarian affiliation, which they then treat as cash cows and sources of patronage and contracts.

Plundering like this and handing out of jobs to unqualified people means that many government institutions have become incapable of performing any useful function.

Radical reform is difficult because the whole system is saturated by corruption and incompetence. Technocrats without party backing who are parachuted into ministries become isolated and ineffective.

One party leader told The Independent that he thought that the best that could be done "would be to insist that the parties appoint properly qualified people to top jobs."

The defeat of Isis in 2017 with the recapture of Mosul means that Iraqis are no longer absorbed in keeping their families safe so they have they have more time to consider "corruption" – a word they use not just to mean bribery but the parasitic nature of the government system as a whole.

There is a general mood of cynicism and dissatisfaction with the way things are run.

"Bad government, bad roads, bad weather, bad people," exclaimed one Iraqi friend driving on an ill-maintained road.

Corrupt motives are ascribed to everything that happens: a series of unexplained fires in Baghdad in June were being ascribed to government employees stealing from state depots and then concealing their crime by setting fire to the building and destroying it.

Given that the Iraqi security forces are primarily recruited from the areas in which the protests are taking place, the government will need to be careful about the degree of repression it can use safely.

Some eight protesters have been killed so far by the police , who are using rubber bullets, water cannon and rubber hoses to beat people.

ORDER IT NOW

The armed forces have been placed on high alert. Three regiments of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, which led the attack on Mosul and is highly regarded and well disciplined, has been ordered south to cope with protests and away from places where there is still residual activity by Isis.

The protests are largely spontaneous, but the Sadrists, whose offices have not been attacked by crowds, want to put pressure on Mr Abadi, Dawa and other parties to form a coalition government with a reform programme.

Many protesters express anti-Tehran slogans, tearing up pictures of Iranian spiritual leaders such as Ayatollah Khomeini and the current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. They blame Iran for supporting corrupt parties and governments in Iraq.

Protesters have so far escalated their actions slowly, gathering at the entrances to the major oil and gas facilities, but not disrupting the 3.6 million barrel a day production. If this happens, it would affect a significant portion of world crude output.

Iraq's corrupt and dysfunctional governing system may be too set in its profitable ways to be reformed, but, if the ruling elite wants to survive, it must give ordinary Iraqi a larger share of the oil revenue cake.

Read the first piece in Patrick Cockburn's latest series, 'Catastrophic drought threatens Iraq as major dams in surrounding countries cut off water to its great rivers', here .

Part II, 'For this Iraqi tribe massacred by Isis, fear of the group's return is a constant reality', here

Part III, 'After series of calamitous defeats, is Isis about to lose its last town?', here .

Part III, 'Iraq unrest: Chaos reigns in the country even Saddam Hussein 'found difficult to rule', here.


Echoes of History , July 18, 2018 at 2:59 am GMT

The ratio of people to cake is too big.
PJ London , July 18, 2018 at 8:46 pm GMT
"Oh for the good old days when Saddam was running things."
Johann Ricke , July 19, 2018 at 12:23 am GMT
@PJ London

"Oh for the good old days when Saddam was running things."

Electricity production in Iraq overall is superior to what it was during Saddam's rule. But availability is not 24/365, which is presumably what they're demanding:

Prewar Baghdad had electricity 16 to 24 hours per day and was favored for distribution. The remainder of Iraq received 4–8 hours of electricity per day.[6] Post war, Baghdad no longer has priority and therefore both Baghdad and the country as a whole received on average 15.5 hours of electricity per day as of February 2010.[7]

If they want some facsimile of Saddam's rule back, they could easily elect the Sunni Arab parties to power. Which they haven't. Demonstrations were rare during Saddam's reign because he killed the opposition and consigned those he did not kill to Abu Ghraib, where they were raped and/or beaten to within an inch of their lives.

Shiites were unhappy with American occupation because they thought the only thing keeping them from becoming a Shiite version of Saudi Arabia, economically-speaking was an American plot to steal their oil and sow division in the country. After GI's left, they discovered, through ISIS's long record of victories, that Sunni Arabs really, really don't like being ruled by Shiites, and that Iraq's Sunni Arabs really are better at military endeavors than the Shiites or the Kurds. They are fortunate that Uncle Sam came to their rescue, yet again.

It's becoming clear that the Iraq's Shiite Arabs and Kurds could never have lifted the Sunni Arab foot from their necks by their own efforts. The question is whether their history books will ever reflect this truth.

[Jul 19, 2018] Yes, We Should Call Them Imperialists by Paul Gottfried

Notable quotes:
"... Hazony responds with the obvious answer that control can be imposed on the unwilling even if the empire builders are not overtly annexing territory. Meanwhile, other neoconservatives have given the game away by pushing their imperialist position a bit further than Krauthammer's. Max Boot, for example , has been quite open in demanding "an American empire" built on ideological and military control even without outright annexation. ..."
"... The belief that the U.S. is a supremely good nation founded on universal principles has consequences that go well beyond electoral politics. Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated talk radio host and co-owner of the website Townhall.com, extols American exceptionalism, which he says springs from American values. ..."
Jul 19, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Neoconservatives like Max Boot are fooling themselves if they think imposing 'values' on the rest of the world isn't a matter of empire.

Recently while reading a book by an Israeli scholar named Yoram Hazony with the provocative title The Virtue of Nationalism , I encountered a distinction drawn by the late Charles Krauthammer between empire building and American global democratic hegemony. Like the editors of the Weekly Standard , for which he periodically wrote, Krauthammer believed it was unfair to describe what he wanted to see done, which was having the U.S. actively spread its own form of government throughout the world, as "imperialism." After all, Krauthammer said, he and those who think like him "do not hunger for new territory," which makes it wrong to accuse them of "imperialism."

Hazony responds with the obvious answer that control can be imposed on the unwilling even if the empire builders are not overtly annexing territory. Meanwhile, other neoconservatives have given the game away by pushing their imperialist position a bit further than Krauthammer's. Max Boot, for example , has been quite open in demanding "an American empire" built on ideological and military control even without outright annexation.

The question that occurred to me while reading Krauthammer's proposal and Hazony's response (which I suspect would have been more devastating had Hazony not been afraid of losing neoconservative friends and sponsors) is this one: how is this not imperialism?

Certainly the use of protectorates to increase the influence of Western powers in the non-Western world goes back a long time. As far back as the Peloponnesian War, rival Greek city-states tried to impose their constitutional arrangements on weaker Greek societies as a way of managing them politically. According to Xenophon, when the Athenians then surrendered to the Spartan commander Lysander in 403 BC, they had two conditions imposed on them: taking down their great wall ( kathairein ta makra teixe ) and installing a regime that looked like the Spartan one. Thus is arguing that territory has to be annexed outright in order for it to become part of an American empire so utterly unconvincing.

One reason the views offered by Krauthammer and Boot did not elicit more widespread criticism -- and have enjoyed enthusiastic favor among Republicans for decades, culminating in the oratorical wonders of George W. Bush -- may have been the embrace of another neoconservative doctrine: "American exceptionalism." The belief that the U.S. is a supremely good nation founded on universal principles has consequences that go well beyond electoral politics. Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated talk radio host and co-owner of the website Townhall.com, extols American exceptionalism, which he says springs from American values.

Those values have "universal applicability," according to Prager, and are "eminently exportable." Glenn Beck has taken up the same theme of "American exceptionalism" as an exportable "idea " that is meant for everyone on the planet. The "ideas" or "values" in question are variously defined by the neoconservative media as "human rights," "universal equality," or just making sure everyone lives like us. Whatever it is, we are told that to withhold it from the rest of the human race would be uncharitable. Our efforts to bring it to others therefore cannot be dismissed as "imperialism" any more than the Spanish government of the 16th century thought it was doing wrong by forcing its religion on indigenous people in the Americas.

Although I'm hardly a fan of his political views, former president Barack Obama once said something that I thought was self-evident but that offended even members of his own party. According to Obama, "Americans believe they're exceptional. But the Brits and Greeks believe they're special too." Obama was merely observing that it's okay for others to believe they're special, even if they're not Americans imbued with "the idea." Yet his statement was received with such uproar that he felt compelled to backtrack. Speaking later at West Point, he made it clear that "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being." This from someone whom Fox News assures us hated America and spent every minute of his presidency denying our greatness! (And, yes, I've heard the rejoinder to this: Obama was only pretending to believe in the creed he dutifully recited.)

It might be argued (and has been by neoconservatives many times) that the U.S. is both morally superior and less dangerous than ethnically defined societies because we advocate a "value" or "creed" that's accessible to the entire human race. But this is hardly a recipe for peace as opposed to what Krauthammer called a "value-driven" relationship with the rest of the world. Australian journalist Douglas Murray, in his intended encomium Neoconservatism: Why We Need It , tries to praise his subjects but ends up describing a kind of global democratic jihadism. While Douglas admits that "socially, economically, and philosophically" neoconservatism differs from traditional conservatism, he insists that it's something better. He commends neoconservatives for wishing to convert the world to "values." Their primary goal, according to Murray, is the "erasing [of] tyrannies and [the] spreading [of] democracy," an arduous task that requires "interventionism, nation-building, and many of the other difficulties that had long concerned traditional conservatives."

Please tell me this is not what it obviously is: an invitation to war and empire building. The quest for hegemony always looks the same, no matter what moral labels some choose to give it.

Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents .

[Jul 19, 2018] Strzokgate is a documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the US democratic process

Probably not so much to short-circuit democratic process that was short-circuited long before them, but clearly they acted as the guardians of the neoliberal state.
Which confirm the iron law of oligarchy in the most direct way: not only the elite gradually escapes all the democratic control, they use their power as oranized minority to defend the status quo, not stopping at the most dirty dirty methods.
Jan 11, 2018 | www.unz.com

Extracted from: The FBI Hand Behind Russia-gate, by Ray McGovern - The Unz Review by Ray McGovern

Russia-gate is becoming FBI-gate, thanks to the official release of unguarded text messages between loose-lipped FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and his garrulous girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. (Ten illustrative texts from their exchange appear at the end of this article.)

Despite his former job as chief of the FBI's counterintelligence section, Strzok had the naive notion that texting on FBI phones could not be traced. Strzok must have slept through "Surity 101." Or perhaps he was busy texting during that class. Girlfriend Page cannot be happy at being misled by his assurance that using office phones would be a secure way to conduct their affair(s).

It would have been unfortunate enough for Strzok and Page to have their adolescent-sounding texts merely exposed, revealing the reckless abandon of star-crossed lovers hiding (they thought) secrets from cuckolded spouses, office colleagues, and the rest of us. However, for the never-Trump plotters in the FBI, the official release of just a fraction (375) of almost 10,000 messages does incalculably more damage than that.

We suddenly have documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the U.S. democratic process. And that puts in a new and dark context the year-long promotion of Russia-gate. It now appears that it was not the Russians trying to rig the outcome of the U.S. election, but leading officials of the U.S. intelligence community, shadowy characters sometimes called the Deep State.

... ... ...

Ironically, the Strzok-Page texts provide something that the Russia-gate investigation has been sorely lacking: first-hand evidence of both corrupt intent and action. After months of breathless searching for "evidence" of Russian-Trump collusion designed to put Trump in the White House, what now exists is actual evidence that senior officials of the Obama administration colluded to keep Trump out of the White House – proof of what old-time gumshoes used to call "means, motive and opportunity."

[Jul 19, 2018] Rather than yell at the top of one's lungs "Fake News" when they read a mainstream or alternative media story, and immediately discount everything, people ought look CRITICALLY at the facts, consider any bias, read other sources on the issue, and then draw their own conclusions

Notable quotes:
"... And those who are crying "fake news" the most often and the most loudly and using that phrase to discredit anything they do not want to rebut with actual information -- those people are the most suspect. Just like those who cry "conspiracy theory" whenever they see a hypothesis that they do not want to have investigated and want to derail. ..."
"... It would not surprise me at all to learn that both of these phrases were cooked up in some corner of Langley to use to get control of the media. ..."
"... Instead of "dissidents" being labeled schizophrenic and sent to psychiatric wards, as in the USSR, they are labeled as conspiracy theorists and purveyors of "fake news" and the effect is about the same, minus the cost of upkeep in a ward. ..."
Jul 19, 2018 | www.unz.com

Skeptikal , August 7, 2017 at 4:40 pm GMT

@Corvinus

"Rather than yell at the top of one's lungs "Fake News" when they read a mainstream or alternative media story, and immediately discount everything, people ought look CRITICALLY at the facts, consider any bias, read other sources on the issue, and then draw their own conclusions."

Absolutely. And those who are crying "fake news" the most often and the most loudly and using that phrase to discredit anything they do not want to rebut with actual information -- those people are the most suspect. Just like those who cry "conspiracy theory" whenever they see a hypothesis that they do not want to have investigated and want to derail.

It would not surprise me at all to learn that both of these phrases were cooked up in some corner of Langley to use to get control of the media.

Instead of "dissidents" being labeled schizophrenic and sent to psychiatric wards, as in the USSR, they are labeled as conspiracy theorists and purveyors of "fake news" and the effect is about the same, minus the cost of upkeep in a ward.

[Jul 19, 2018] Lies About Putin and Syria by Ilana Mercer

Jul 12, 2018 | www.unz.com

On just about every issue, in 2016, candidate Trump ran in opposition to Sen. Lindsey Graham. Donald Trump won the presidency; Lindsey Graham quit the race with a near-zero popularity, as reflected in the polls.

The People certainly loathe the senator from South Carolina. A poll conducted subsequently found that Graham was among the least popular senators.

No wonder. Graham is reliably wrong about most things.

But being both misguided and despised have done nothing to diminish Sen. Graham's popularity with Big Media, left and right. Thus were his pronouncements accorded the customary reverence, during a July 10 segment, on Fox News' "The Story."

Which is when he told anchor Martha MacCallum that, "Putin is not doing anything good in Syria."

Then again, Lindsey is being consistent. The revival of "one of the world's oldest Christian communities," in Syria , is not something the senator we've come to know and loathe would celebrate.

It's true. "A new Syria is emerging from the rubble of war," reports The Economist, a magazine which is every bit as liberal and Russophobic as Graham and his political soul mate, John McCain, but whose correspondents on the ground -- in Aleppo, Damascus and Homs -- have a far greater fidelity to the truth than the terrible two.

"In Homs, the Christian quarter is reviving. Churches have been lavishly restored; a large crucifix hangs over the main street." 'Groom of Heaven,' proclaims a billboard featuring a photo of a Christian soldier killed in the seven-year conflict. And, in their sermons, Orthodox patriarchs praise Mr. Assad for saving the Christian communities."

Don't tell the ailing McCain. It'll only make him miserable, but thanks to Putin, Assad "now controls Syria's spine, from Aleppo in the north to Damascus in the south -- what French colonists once called la Syrie utile (useful Syria). The rebels are confined to pockets along the southern and northern borders."

"Homs, like all of the cities recaptured by the government, now belongs mostly to Syria's victorious minorities: Christians, Shias and Alawites (an esoteric offshoot of Shia Islam from which Mr. Assad hails). These groups banded together against the rebels, who are nearly all Sunni, and chased them out of the cities." (" How a victorious Bashar al-Assad is changing Syria ," The Economist, June 28, 2018.)

A Christian teacher in Homs rejoices, for she no longer must live alongside neighbors "who overnight called you a kafir (infidel)."

The teacher's venom is directed at John McCain's beloved "rebels." Internet selfies abound of McCain mixing it up with leading Sunni "rebels," against whom Putin and Bashar al-Assad were doing battle. Who knows? McCain may even have taken a pic with the infamous "rebel" who decapitated Syrian Franciscan monk Father Francois Murad .

Ignoramuses McCain and Graham had both urged the US to send weapons to the "rebels" -- even as it transpired that the lovelies with whom McCain was cavorting on his sojourns in Syria liked to feast on the lungs of their pro-Assad enemies. A devotee of multiculturalism, Lindsey could probably explain the idiosyncratic cultural symbolism of such savagery.

Infested as it is by globalist ideologues, the permanent establishment of American foreign policy refuses to consider regional, religious, local, even tribal, dynamics in the Middle East. In particular, that the "good" guys in Syria -- a relative term -- are not the Islamist "rebels," with whom the senior Republican senator from Arizona was forever frolicking; but the secular Alawites.

You likely didn't know that Alawites like al-Assad also "flinch at Shia evangelizing. 'We don't pray, don't fast [during Ramadan] and drink alcohol,' says one."

Under Putin's protection, the more civilized Alawite minority (read higher IQ), which has governed Syria since 1966, is in charge again. Duly, reports the anti-Assad Economist, "Government departments are functioning. electricity and water supplies are more reliable than in much of the Middle East. Officials predict that next year's natural-gas production will surpass pre-war levels. The railway from Damascus to Aleppo might resume operations this summer. The National Museum in Damascus, which locked up its prized antiquities for protection, is preparing to reopen to the public."

Good thinking. The "rebels" would have blown Syria's prized antiquities to smithereens.

Given that Islamists are not in charge, the specter of men leaving their women and fleeing Syria has had an upside. Syrian women dominate the workforce. Why, they're even working as "plumbers, taxi-drivers and bartenders." Had Sen. Graham, his friends the "rebels," and their Sunni state sponsors won -- Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- would this be possible? Turkey is currently sheltering "Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group linked to al-Qaeda, and other Sunni rebels."

Aligned against the Christian-Shia-Alawite alliance are Israel and America, too. They've formed a protective perimeter around rebel holdouts.

Before the breakthrough, when Sunni rebels were gaining ground, Syria's "women donned headscarves," and "non-Muslim businessmen bowed to demands from Sunni employees for prayer rooms. But as the war swung their way, minorities regained their confidence." "Christian women in Aleppo [now] show their cleavage, the internet is unrestricted and social-media apps allow for unfettered communication. Students in cafés openly criticize the regime."

Contra the robotic sloganeering from Lindsey, Nikki Haley and the political establishment, Russia has been pushing Bashar al-Assad to open up Syria's political process and allow for the revival of "multiparty politics."

Alas, the once bitten Assad is twice shy. His attempts, a decade ago, to liberalize Syrian politics resulted in the ascendancy of Sunni fundamentalism, aka Lindsey Grahamnesty's rebels. (The nickname is for the Republican senator's laissez-faire immigration policies, stateside.)

As has Russia called "for foreign forces to leave Syria," Iran's included. Iran commands 80,000 Shia militiamen in Syria. "Skirmishes between the [Iranian] militias and Syrian troops have resulted in scores of deaths. Having defeated Sunni Islamists, army officers say they have no wish to succumb to Shia ones."

It all boils down to national sovereignty. So as to survive the onslaught of the Sunni fundamentalist majority, the endangered Alawite minority formed an alliance with the Iranian Shia, also a minority among the Ummah. Now, civilized and secular Syrians want their country back. In fact, many Syrian "Sunnis prefer Mr. Assad's secular rule to that of Islamist rebels."

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of " Into the Cannibal's Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa " (2011) & " The Trump Revolution: The Donald's Creative Destruction Deconstructed " (June, 2016). She's on Twitter , Facebook , Gab & YouTube

[Jul 19, 2018] MIC is afread to lose money because of Trump policies by Lara Seligman

Jul 19, 2018 | foreignpolicy.com

Orgiginal title: Trump's 'America First' Policy Could Leave U.S. Defense Industry Behind

Those measures and the resulting uncertainty are prompting some European countries to go their own way on major industry projects, including the development of a next-generation fighter jet, potentially leaving U.S. firms behind.

"I think it is forcing Europe together in ways that have unanticipated consequences for the U.S. defense industry," said Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners.

The aerospace and defense industry is a huge driver of U.S. jobs and economic growth. In 2017 alone, it generated $865 billion, supporting 2.4 million high-paying American jobs. The industry produced a positive trade balance of $86 billion in 2017, the largest of any U.S. industry, which reduced the country's trade deficit by 10 percent.

It is also an important component of U.S. foreign policy. Arms sales are key to strengthening security partnerships and improving military cooperation with allies.

"Partners who procure American weaponry are more capable of fighting alongside us and ultimately more capable of protecting themselves with fewer American boots on the ground," Peter Navarro, the White House director of trade policy, said during an April press conference.

So it came as no surprise when the Trump administration announced the decision to send a large delegation to help sell U.S. products at Farnborough, including top officials such as Navarro. The administration also used the opportunity to roll out the Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy, also known as the "Buy America" plan, an initiative to improve U.S. arms transfer processes and increase the competitiveness of U.S.-made products.

But the U.S. government showing at Farnborough was disappointing from the start of the weeklong exhibition Monday. Navarro pulled out at the last minute, as did Ellen Lord, the Pentagon's top weapons buyer; Heidi Grant, the U.S. Air Force's head of international affairs; and other U.S. government officials. At the show itself, only five U.S. military aircraft appeared on static display in the Defense Department corral that normally showcases products built for the armed services by Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and other U.S. defense giants.

[Jul 18, 2018] Israel Shamir

Notable quotes:
"... The New Republic ..."
"... The documents had been doubted for some linguistic reasons discussed by Gilbert Doctorow who comes to a reasonable conclusion: "Bill Browder['s] intensity and the time he was devoting to anti-Russian sanctions in Europe was in no way comparable to the behaviour of a top level international businessman. It was clear to me that some other game was in play. But at the time, no one could stand up and suggest the man was a fraud, an operative of the intelligence agencies. ..."
"... We do not know whether Browder is, or had been, a spy. This should not surprise us, as he was closely connected to Maxwell, Safra and Berezovsky, the financiers with strong ties in the intelligence community. ..."
"... Perhaps he outlived his usefulness, Mr Browder did. He started the Cold war, now is the time to keep it in its healthy limits and to avoid a nuclear disaster or rapid armaments race. This is the task we may hope will be entertained by the next US President, Mr Donald Trump. ..."
Jul 18, 2018 | www.unz.com

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List of Bookmarks William F. Browder, Chief Executive Officer Hermitage Capital Management. Copyright by World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Michael Wuertenberg. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Chapeau, Mr Browder! Hats off for this incredible man. Last month, he succeeded in stopping a film screening in the European parliament and took off a few articles from American web sites. This week, he turned the only US screening of a film critical to his version of events into a ruckus . No freedom of speech for his enemies! His lawyers prowl around and issue summons to whoever digs in his sordid affairs. His hacks re-wrote his Wikipedia entry, expunging even discussions of the topic: despite hundreds of edits, nothing survived but the official version. Only a few powerful men succeed purifying their record to such an extent. Still, good fortune (a notoriously flighty lady) is about to desert Mr Browder.

Who is this extremely influential man? A businessman, a politician, a spy? The American-born Jewish tycoon William Browder, says The Jewish Chronicle , considers himself Putin's Number One enemy. For him, Putin is "no friend of the Jews", "cold-blooded killer" and even "criminal dictator who is not too different from Hitler, Mussolini or Gadhafi". More to a point, Browder is the man who contributed most to the new cold war between the West and Russia. The roots were there, still he made them blossom. If the US and Russia haven't yet exchanged nuclear salvos, do not blame Browder: he tried. For a valid reason, too: he was hit by cruel Hitler-like Mr Putin into his most susceptible spot, namely his pocket. Or was there even a better reason?

Browder, a grandson of the US Communist leader, came to Russia at its weakest point after the Soviet collapse, and grabbed an enormous fortune by opaque financial transactions. Such fortunes are not amassed by the pure of spirit. He was a ruthless man who did as much as any oligarch to enrich himself.

Eventually he ran afoul of Mr Putin, who was (and is) very tolerant of oligarchs as long as they play by the rules. The oligarchs would not be oligarchs if they would found that an easy condition. Some of them tried to fight back: Khodorkovsky landed in jail, Berezovsky and Gusinsky went to exile. Browder had a special position: he was the only Jewish oligarch in Russia who never bothered to acquire the Russian citizenship. He was barred from returning to Russia, and his companies were audited and found wanting.

As you'd expect, huge tax evasion was discovered. Browder thought that as long as he sucked up to Putin, he'd get away with bloody murder, let alone tax evasion. He was mistaken. Putin is nobody's fool. Flatterers do not get a free ride in Putin's Russia. And Browder became too big for his boots.

It turned out that he did two unforgivable things. Russians were afraid the foreigners would buy all their assets for a song, using favourable exchange rates and lack of native capital, as had happened in the Baltic states and other ex-Communist East European countries. In order to avoid that, shares of Russian blue-chip companies (Gazprom and suchlike) were traded among Russian citizens only. Foreigners had to pay much more. Browder bought many such shares via Russian frontmen, and he was close to getting control over Russian oil and gas. Putin suspected that he had acted in the interests of big foreign oil companies, trying to repeat the feat of Mr Khodorkovsky.

His second mistake was being too greedy. Russian taxation is very low; but Browder did not want to pay even this low tax. He hired Mr Magnitsky, an experienced auditor, who used loopholes in the Russian tax code in order to avoid taxes altogether. Magnitsky established dummy companies based in tax-free zones of Russia, such as pastoral Kalmykia, small, Buddhist, and autonomous. Their tax-free status had been granted in order to improve their economy and reduce unemployment; however, Browder's companies did not contribute to economy and did not employ people; they were paper dummies swiftly bankrupted by the owner.

Another Magnitsky trick was to form companies fronted by handicapped people who were also freed from paying tax. In the film, some of these persons, often illiterate and of limited intelligence, told the filmmaker of signing papers they could not read and of being paid a little money for the millions passing through their account.

(Mr Browder does not deny these accusations; he says there is nothing criminal in trying to avoid taxes. You can read about Browder and Magnitsky tricks here and here , and learn of the ways they attacked companies using minority shareholders and many other neat schemes.)

Eventually Magnitsky's schemes were discovered and he was arrested. Ten months later, in 2009, he died in jail. By that time, his patron Mr Browder was abroad, and he began his campaign against Russia hoping to regain his lost assets. He claimed Mr Magnitsky had been his lawyer, who discovered misdeeds and the outright thievery of government officials, and was imprisoned and tortured to death for this discovery.

The US Congress rushed in the Magnitsky Act, the first salvo of the Cold War Two. By this act, any Russian person could be found responsible for Mr Magnitsky's untimely death and for misappropriation of Browder's assets. His properties could be seized, bank accounts frozen – without any legal process or representation. This act upset the Russians, who allegedly had kept a cool $500 billion in the Western banks, so tit for tat started, and it goes to this very day.

The actual effect of the Magnitsky Act was minimal: some twenty million dollars frozen and a few dozen not-very-important people were barred from visiting the US. Its psychological effect was much greater: the Russian elite realised that they could lose their money and houses anytime – not in godless Putin's Russia, but in the free West, where they had preferred to look for refuge. The Magnitsky Act paved the road to the Cyprus confiscation of Russian deposits, to post-Crimean sanctions and to a full-fledged Cold War.

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This was painful for Russia, as the first adolescent disillusionment in its love affair with the West, and rather healthy, in my view. A spot of cold war (very cold, plenty of ice please) is good for ordinary people, while its opposite, a Russian-American alliance, is good for the elites. The worst times for ordinary Russian people were 1988-2001, when Russians were in love with the US. The oligarchs stole everything there was to steal and sold it to the West for pennies. They bought villas in Florida while Russia fell apart. That was bad time for everybody: the US invaded Panama and Afghanistan unopposed, Iraq was sanctioned to death, Yugoslavia was bombed and broken to pieces.

As the Cold War came back, some normalcy was restored: the Russians stopped the US from destroying Syria, and Russian officials learned to love Sochi instead of Miami. For this reason alone, Browder can be counted as a part of the power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good. The Russian government, however, did not enjoy the cold shower.

The Russians denied any wrongdoing or even political reasons for dealing with Browder. They say Magnitsky was not a lawyer, just an auditor and a tax code expert. They say that he was arrested and tried for his tax avoidance schemes, and he died of natural causes while in jail. Nobody listened to them, until they demanded that Browder testify under oath. He refused. For two years lawyers tried to give him a summons , but he was a quick runner. There are funny videos showing Browder running away from summons.

Some good sense began to seep into American minds. The New Republic wondered : if Browder was indeed the victim of persecution in Russia and had enlisted the U.S. justice system to right the balance, why was he so reluctant to offer his sworn testimony in an American courtroom?

Enter Mr Andrey Nekrasov , a Russian dissident filmmaker. He made a few films considered to be highly critical of Russian government. He alleged the FSB blew up houses in Moscow in order to justify the Chechnya war. He condemned the Russian war against Georgia in 2008, and had been given a medal by Georgian authorities. He did not doubt the official Western version of Browder-Magnitsky affair, and decided to make a film about the noble American businessman and the brave Russian lawyer fighting for human rights. The European organisations and parliamentarians provided the budget for the film. They also expected the film to denounce Putin and glorify Magnitsky, the martyr.

However, while making the film, Mr Nekrasov had his Road to Damascus moment. He realised that the whole narrative was hinging on the unsubstantiated words of Mr Browder. After painstaking research, he came to some totally different conclusions, and in his version, Browder was a cheat who run afoul of law, while Magnitsky was his sidekick in those crimes.

Nekrasov discovered an interview Magnitsky gave in his jail. In this interview, the accountant said he was afraid Browder would kill him to prevent him from denouncing Browder, and would make him his scapegoat. It turned out Browder tried to bribe the journalist who made the interview to have these words expunged. Browder was the main beneficiary of the accountant's death, realised Nekrasov, while his investigators were satisfied with Magnitsky's collaboration with them.

Nekrasov could not find any evidence that Magnitsky tried to investigate the misdeeds of government officials. He was too busy covering his own tax evasion. And instead of fitting his preconceived notions, Nekrasov made the film about what he learned. ( Here are some details of Nekrasov's film)

While the screening in the EU Parliament was been stopped by the powerful Mr Browder, in Washington DC the men are made of sterner stuff. Despite Browder's threats the film was screened , presented by the best contemporary American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who is 80 if a day, and still going strong. One has to recognise that the US is second to none for freedom of speech on the globe.

What makes Browder so powerful? He invests in politicians. This is probably a uniquely Jewish quality: Jews outspend everybody in contributions to political figures. The Arabs will spend more on horses and jets, the Russians prefer real estate, the Jews like politicians. The Russian NTV channel reported that Browder lavishly financed the US lawmakers. Here they present alleged evidence of money transfers: some hundred thousand dollars was given by Browder's structures officially to the senators and congressmen in order to promote the Magnitsky Act.

Much bigger sums were transferred via good services of Brothers Ziff, mega-rich Jewish American businessmen, said the researchers in two articles published on the Veteran News Network and in The Huffington Post .

These two articles were taken off the sites very fast under pressure of Browder's lawyers, but they are available in the cache. They disclose the chief beneficiary of Browder's generosity. This is Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. He was the engine behind Magnitsky Act legislation to such an extent that the Act has been often called the Cardin List . Cardin is a fervent supporter of Hillary Clinton, also a cold warrior of good standing. More to a point, Cardin is a prominent member of Israel Lobby.

Browder affair is a heady upper-class Jewish cocktail of money, spies, politicians and international crime. Almost all involved figures appear to be Jewish, not only Browder, Brothers Ziff and Ben Cardin. Even his enemy, the beneficiary of the scam that (according to Browder) took over his Russian assets is another Jewish businessman Dennis Katsiv (he had been partly exonerated by a New York court as is well described in this thoughtful piece).

Browder began his way to riches under the patronage of a very rich and very crooked Robert Maxwell, a Czech-born Jewish businessman who assumed a Scots name. Maxwell stole a few million dollars from his company pension fund before dying in mysterious circumstances on board of his yacht in the Atlantic. It was claimed by a member of Israeli Military Intelligence, Ari Ben Menashe, that Maxwell had been a Mossad agent for years, and he also said Maxwell tipped the Israelis about Israeli whistle-blower Mordecai Vanunu. Vanunu was kidnapped and spent many years in Israeli jails.

Geoffrey Goodman wrote Maxwell "was almost certainly being used as – and using himself as – a two-way intelligence conduit [between East and West]. This arrangement included passing intelligence to the Israeli secret forces with whom he became increasingly involved towards the end of his life."

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After Maxwell, Browder switched allegiance to Edmond Safra, a very rich Jewish banker of Lebanese origin, who also played East vs West. Safra provided him with working capital for his investment fund. Safra's bank has been the unlikely place where the IMF loan of four billion dollars to Russia had been transferred -- and disappeared. The Russian authorities say that Browder has been involved in this "crime of the century," next to Safra. The banker's name has been connected to Mossad: increasingly fearful for his life, Safra surrounded himself by Mossad-trained gunmen. This did not help him: he died a horrible death in his bathroom when his villa was torched by one of the guards.

The third Jewish oligarch on Browder's way was Boris Berezovsky, the king-maker of Yeltsin's Russia. He also died in his bathroom (which seems to be a constant feature); apparently he committed suicide. Berezovsky had been a politically active man; he supported every anti-Putin force in Russia. However, a few months before his death, he asked for permission to return to Russia, and some negotiations went on between him and Russian authorities.

His chief of security Sergey Sokolov came to Russia and purportedly brought with him some documents his late master prepared for his return. These documents allege that Browder had been an agent of Western intelligence services, of the CIA to begin with, and of MI6 in following years. He was given a code name Solomon, as he worked for Salomon Brothers. His financial activity was just a cover for his true intentions, that is to collect political and economic data on Russia, and to carry out economic war on Russia. This revelation has been made in the Russia-1 TV channel documentary Browder Effect , (broadcasted 13.04.2016), asserting that Browder was not after money at all, and his activities in Russia, beside being very profitable, had a political angle.

The documents had been doubted for some linguistic reasons discussed by Gilbert Doctorow who comes to a reasonable conclusion: "Bill Browder['s] intensity and the time he was devoting to anti-Russian sanctions in Europe was in no way comparable to the behaviour of a top level international businessman. It was clear to me that some other game was in play. But at the time, no one could stand up and suggest the man was a fraud, an operative of the intelligence agencies. Whatever the final verdict may be on the documents presented by the film "The Browder Effect," it raises questions about Browder that should have been asked years ago in mainstream Western media if journalists were paying attention. Yevgeny Popov deserves credit for highlighting those questions, even if his documents demand further investigation before we come to definitive answers".

We do not know whether Browder is, or had been, a spy. This should not surprise us, as he was closely connected to Maxwell, Safra and Berezovsky, the financiers with strong ties in the intelligence community.

Perhaps he outlived his usefulness, Mr Browder did. He started the Cold war, now is the time to keep it in its healthy limits and to avoid a nuclear disaster or rapid armaments race. This is the task we may hope will be entertained by the next US President, Mr Donald Trump.

This article was first published in The Unz Review .


JL , June 20, 2016 at 9:14 am GMT

" Browder was not after money at all " Uh, no. Browder was notorious for his greed and obsession with money. This is someone who had a program that calculated his personal net worth online and would check it no less than every half hour. Think Gordon Gekko but too cheap to even buy a decent suit. While there may have been some intelligence connections somewhere along the way, as the article states, he went political only when his honey pot was removed. Without Russia, his fund management business quickly tanked.
AmericaFirstNow , Website June 20, 2016 at 10:54 am GMT
US pushing a Zionist PNAC Neocon agenda vs Russia: :

http://america-hijacked.com/2014/02/24/us-has-neocon-agenda-in-ukraine-russia-analyst/

http://tinyurl.com/neoconmeddling

annamaria , June 20, 2016 at 11:20 am GMT
@Kiza

This is priceless: "We do not know whether Browder is, or had been, a spy. This should not surprise us, as he was closely connected to Maxwell, Safra and Berezovsky, the financiers with strong ties in the intelligence community."

Could Mr. Browder hope for a better end of life than Maxwell, Safra and Berezovsky? And what would be the fate of Mr. Cardin, the famous congressional prostitute? http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org/new/?p=3742#.V2fRqzc5FCo

"Israel's Agent of Influence: Senator Ben Cardin shows how it's done:"

"So who does Cardin actually represent? I would suggest that he fits the mold of the classic agent of influence in that his allegiance to the United States is constrained by his greater loyalty to a foreign nation."

Israel Shamir , June 20, 2016 at 5:17 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

In Russia, everybody criticises Putin. No danger at all. Andrey Nekrasov was a foremost critic of Putin, made him no harm. Russia has as much freedom of speech as Europe; still less than the US.

Oscar Peterson , June 20, 2016 at 10:25 pm GMT
Incredible–well, not really–that our mainstream media resolutely refuses to print, much less discuss, the two main pieces of information here:

1. Browder was the one who gained most from Magnitsky's death as evidenced by the interview in which the latter asserted a fear of being killed by Browder.

2. Nekrasov, the film's director, has a history of making films very critical of Putin and the Russian government and state.

US media coverage either omits any mention of these two points or buries allusions to them in the article. The NYT piece on Browder's attempt to block the film's screening at the Newseum in Washington was filed in the "Europe" section of the paper.

Freedom of speech is under assault in the West and, again and again, we see the common denominator of these despicable efforts to suppress key information.

JL , June 21, 2016 at 7:52 am GMT
How funny to hear people question Browder's Jewishness, in the Unz comments section of all places. Lest there be any doubt, he, himself, very much identified as being a Jew, to the extent that he had a Mezuzah on his office doorway and hired only Jewish employees.

Concerning Magnitsky's indeed unusual posthumous trial, this was actually at the behest of his own mother who refused to sign the legal papers closing the criminal case due to his death. This is usually a mere formality. However, the Russian legal system is a stickler for the letter of the law and so the trial went ahead. His mother's motivation was unclear, though it probably had something to do with extra publicity.

tbraton , June 21, 2016 at 2:41 pm GMT
When I first became aware of Mr. Browder a number of years ago, I was curious about his name, since I was aware of Earl Browder, the former head of the American Communist Party when I was growing up. After I subsequently learned of the familial connection, I was highly amused to discover the leap from Communist to capitalist in three generations. But then I recalled that Dr. Armand Hammer, eventually the controlling shareholder of Occidental Petroleum, had a father who was also a doctor, an emigrant from Odessa, and a founder of the Communist Party U.S.A. That was a mere two generations to make the leap from Communist to capitalist.

A few years ago I happened to read an amusing memoir of the girl who was my date to my high school prom but who went on to achieve a modest fame and acquaintance with many prominent Americans and foreigners. (I am being intentionally vague.) When I was dating her in high school and college, I operated under the false assumption that her mother (whom I met) was Jewish and her natural father (whom I never met); I met her stepfather, who was Jewish) was Catholic, which I thought was kind of cool, since I was totally nonreligious. You can imagine my disappointment to learn nearly a half century later that both of her natural parents were Jewish. Elsewhere in her memoir, my friend referred to her mother's sister, who was a member of the Communist Party and got caught up in the Hollywood blacklist and lost her job. (That was the first I heard of it, btw.) Things turned out well for her since she hooked up with and married a wealthy Jewish doctor, who left her a sizable fortune when he died. She eventually moved to Israel where she found nirvana, marrying a much younger man and enjoying late in life "fantastic sex." So, it appears that what motivates many young Communists is the dream of becoming fantastically wealthy and enjoying life as a plutocrat, not the BS of improving life for the downtrodden. If I weren't such a natural skeptic, I would have been very disillusioned, but not as much as I was to discover late in life that her father was Jewish and not Catholic. Apologies to all those women I dated in my 20′s and 30′s whom I regaled with the story of my half-Jewish, half-Catholic prom date.

Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] , Website June 21, 2016 at 7:03 pm GMT

For two years lawyers tried to give him a summons, but he was a quick runner. There are funny videos showing Browder running away from summons.

I thoroughly enjoyed the video:-)

Seraphim , June 22, 2016 at 2:08 am GMT
@tbraton

It became tedious to evoke the murky relations of Bolshevism with the Jewish bank cartel in the financing of Lenin, Trotsky &Co by Jacob Schiff ("a banker who grew up in House of Rothschild Frankfurt, monopolized American rail system, funded the Rockefellers through First City Bank, ADL and the NAACP. Schiff's granddaughter married Al Gore's Son" From his base on Wall Street, he was the foremost Jewish leader from 1880 to 1920 in what later became known as the "Schiff era", grappling with all major Jewish issues and problems of the day, including the plight of Russian Jews under the Tsar, American and international anti-semitism, care of needy Jewish immigrants, and the rise of Zionism" – per Wikipedia), and Warburg ("Paul Warburg was a planner for the U.S. Federal Reserve System which is a collection of private banks, and attended as American representative, the Treaty of Versailles conference, where his brother Max was on the German side of the bargaining table" by Wiki). One can see why Lenin was 'permitted' to pass through Germany!

Schiff financed the Japanese for their attack on Russia ("He extended loans to the Empire of Japan in the amount of $200 million, through Kuhn, Loeb & Co Schiff saw this loan as a means of answering, on behalf of the Jewish people, the anti-Semitic actions of the Russian Empire, specifically the then-recent Kishinev pogrom"), the 1905 Revolution and the 1917 Revolution. "In addition to his famous loan to Japan, Schiff financed loans to many other nations, including those that would come to comprise the Central Powers Schiff made sure none of the funds from his loans ever went to the Russian Empire, which he felt oppressed Jewish people. When the Russian Empire fell in 1917, Schiff believed that the oppression of Jews would end. He formally repealed the impediments within his firm against lending to Russia". It's true that Communist Russia quickly opened the door for foreign investment (NEP) and the looting of Russia.
When Stalin tried to reduce USSR's dependence on foreign investments, he became instantly the monster. It is remarkable that America stood behind Trotsky in the case of the so-called "Show Trials" (The Dewey Commission).
Particularly interesting is that (per Wikipedia);
"Some ten years later, the Dewey Commission was cited in great detail, when in an open letter to the British press dated 25 February 1946, written by George Orwell and signed by Arthur Koestler, C. E. M. Joad, Frank Horrabin, George Padmore, Julian Symons, H. G. Wells, F. A. Ridley, C. A. Smith and John Baird, among others, it was suggested that the Nuremberg Trials then underway were an invaluable opportunity for establishing "historical truth and bearing upon the political integrity" of figures of international standing. Specifically, they called for Rudolf Hess to be interrogated about his alleged meeting with Trotsky and that the Gestapo records then in the hands of Allied experts be examined for any proof of any "liaison between the Nazi Party or State and Trotsky or the other old Bolshevik leaders indicted at the Moscow trials "

tbraton , June 23, 2016 at 12:33 am GMT
@tbraton

BTW I wonder how many people, including posters here, are aware that the U.S., under President Wilson, sent a military expedition to Russia after the Communist takeover there in 1917 and kept them there for about a year and a half. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Expeditionary_Force_Siberia When I was in college in the early 60′s, I bought a paperback of George Kennan's "Russia and the West, Under Lenin and Stalin" (hardcover ed. 1961), the first book of Kennan that I read, and was startled to learn of our military invasion of Russia at the end of WWI and after, something I didn't remember being taught in high school American history a few years earlier. That was about 50 years ago. This past year I got around to reading A. Scott Berg's much acclaimed biography, "Wilson." I didn't remember reading anything in that biography re Wilson's commitment of military forces to Russia. I have just reviewed the index and found one obscure reference to "military intervention in Russia" (p. 590 of hardcover ed.) and George Kennan. More important, I reviewed the Bibliography and found no reference to George Kennan's "Russia and the West, Under Lenin and Stalin." I don't know what to make of the gross omission by a highly-regarded biographer, but it is clear that an effort has been made to downplay this aspect of Wilson's policy, for reasons that escape me.

Kiza , June 23, 2016 at 1:52 am GMT
@tbraton

Maybe because I was educated in a different country I was very well aware of this item of information. It was not only the US, then most of the Western countries from both sides of WW1, including Britain, France, Italy, then also Czechoslovakia (Austria-Hungary), Japan, Germany and so on, which sent troops to Russia on the side of Belaya Gvardiya fighting the Lenin's Bolsheviks, even whilst WW1 was still ongoing. They fought with Belaya Gvardiya in Siberia, Ukraine and Crimea (part of Russia, not part of Ukraine until 1953 when given to Ukraine by the Communist leader Nikita Khrushchev).

This is possibly the best reference about this second, less well known, part of WW1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_movement

The US contingent was supposed to support the Siberain Army https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberian_Army but shipped back without fighting.

Sam Shama , June 23, 2016 at 1:56 am GMT
@tbraton

Fascinating, thank you. Reading more, I find that Wilson was motivated to safeguard almost a billion dollars in armaments and equipment [including railway cars] given to Russia by the U.S in the hopes of Russia prevailing over the Central Powers and thereafter adopting the capitalist model. Alas the men and hardware [including frozen machine guns] did not hit the right wavelength with the Siberian winter.

Anatoly Karlin , June 23, 2016 at 2:41 am GMT
@Quartermaster

Just ask Khodorkovsky.

Why don't you ask the ECHR while you're at it?

Seraphim , June 23, 2016 at 5:47 am GMT
Many of us are aware of the 'Allied Intervention in the Russian civil war' which occured in the aftermath of the Peace of Brest-Litovsk while the Entante was still at war with Germany. The chaos which ensued as a result of the misguided policies of the HLH (Hindenburg, Ludendorff, Hoffman), especially the 'Napoleonic complex' of Ludendorff compounded by the greedy desires of many petty German 'Fuersten' for crowns in the East, determined the Allies to intervene, motivated by the following considerations:
- prevent the German or Bolshevik capture of Allied material stockpiles in Arkhangelsk
- mount an attack helping the Czechoslovak Legions stranded on the Trans-Siberian Railroad
– resurrect the Eastern Front by defeating the Bolshevik army with help from the Czechoslovak Legions and an expanded anti-Bolshevik force of local citizens and stop the spread of communism and the Bolshevik cause in Russia.

Now, this is news only for graduates of American schools where history is no more taught. The Wikipedia entry ('Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War') would have been sufficient (for beginners) to set the record straight:

"Severely short of troops to spare, the British and French requested that President Wilson provide American soldiers for the campaign. In July 1918, against the advice of the United States Department of War, Wilson agreed to the limited participation of 5,000 United States Army troops in the campaign. This force, which became known as the "American North Russia Expeditionary Force" (a.k.a. the Polar Bear Expedition) were sent to Arkhangelsk while another 8,000 soldiers, organised as the American Expeditionary Force Siberia, were shipped to Vladivostok from the Philippines and from Camp Fremont in California. That same month, the Canadian government agreed to the British government's request to command and provide most of the soldiers for a combined British Empire force, which also included Australian and Indian troops. Some of this force was the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force; another part was the North Russia Intervention. A Royal Navy squadron was sent to the Baltic under Rear-Admiral Edwyn Alexander-Sinclair. This force consisted of modern C-class cruisers and V- and W-class destroyers. In December 1918, Sinclair sailed into Estonian and Latvian ports, sending in troops and supplies, and promising to attack the Bolsheviks "as far as my guns can reach". In January 1919, he was succeeded in command by Rear-Admiral Walter Cowan.
The Japanese, concerned about their northern border, sent the largest military force, numbering about 70,000. They desired the establishment of a buffer state in Siberia, and the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff viewed the situation in Russia as an opportunity for settling Japan's "northern problem". The Japanese government was also intensely hostile to communism.
The Italians created the special "Corpo di Spedizione" with Alpini troops sent from Italy and ex-POWs of Italian ethnicity from the former Austro-Hungarian army who were recruited to the Italian Legione Redenta. They were initially based in the Italian Concession in Tientsin and numbered about 2,500.
Romania, Greece, Poland, China, and Serbia also sent contingents in support of the intervention."
All these troops have been involved, in a way or another, in the Russian Civil War, but by 1920 all have been withdrawn. Only the Japanese stayed in the Maritime Provinces of the Russian Far East until 1922 and in northern Sakhalin until 1925.

There is obviously no space here to talk about the 'Treaty of Rapallo' between Russia and Germany of 1922 and of the 'Genoa Conference' held in Genoa in 1922, where "the representatives of 34 countries gathered to discuss global economic problems following World War I. The purpose was to formulate strategies to rebuild central and eastern Europe, particularly Russia, after the war, and also to negotiate a relationship between European capitalist economies, and the new Russian Bolshevik regime". These were signals for the introduction of NEP (New Economic Policy) and the policy of 'concessions' which was, in Lenin's terms " a strategic retreat from socialism".
Anyhow, I think that a BA is a minimum requirement in order to gain a modicum of understanding of these problems. For sure Wikipedia is not sufficient.

tbraton , June 28, 2016 at 3:31 pm GMT
@Kiza

There is no question the involvement of U.S. troops in Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 is downplayed in the U.S. As I noted, the issue wasn't touched on in my high school history class, and I was surprised to learn of our military involvement in Russia's civil war only when I went to college and bought the small paperback of Kennan's "Russia and the West Under Lenin and Stalin." In fact, I have a one-volume history of the U.S. written by one of the U.S.'s leading historians, Samuel Eliot Morison, who was the highly acclaimed biographer of Christopher Columbus and John Paul Jones and a long-time professor of history at Harvard. He was also the author of the highly acclaimed "History of the United States Naval Operations in World War II," a 15-volume effort. In his "The Oxford History of the American People" (1965, 1122 pages, ending with the 1963 assassination of JFK), he states briefly at p. 878 that "President Wilson went along [with efforts of France and Britain to overthrow the Bolsheviks] to the extent of sending a small American force to Archangel, ostensibly to prevent a cache of military supplies reaching Germany, and participating in a Japanese-directed invasion of Siberia, to see that Japan did not go too far." Rather cryptic reference to a somewhat small military involvement that lasted for more than a year and a half, but, in defense of Morison, his history was a one-volume affair (published by the Oxford University Press) and the American involvement in Russia had no effect on the Russian Revolution, other than to sour the relationship between the new Communist government and the U.S., which did not diplomatically recognize the new regime until FDR became President in 1933.

A. Scott Berg has no such defense. His detailed biography of Wilson runs to 743 pages, and he makes no reference at all to the U.S. military contingent that was sent to Russia in 1918 by Wilson and remained there for more than a year and a half. You would think that Berg could have added a few brief sentences alluding to the military expeditionary force and a brief summary of its impact, but not a word. This from an author who discusses the infamous "Palmer raids" at the end of the Wilson Administration and the bombs which set off those raids. I am just puzzled about the omission and fail to see what agenda is being served, other than it highlights the utter hypocrisy of Wilson with his vaunted "Fourteen Points," which impliedly called for respect of international borders. Wilson was also the hypocrite who won reelection in a close race in 1916 running on a campaign that "he kept us out of war" and the declared war against Germany a month after he was reinaugurated in March 1917.

BilDing , August 2, 2017 at 2:58 am GMT
Alternate title

Benefits of Friends in High Places

Clinton has Congress in a frenzy over a Russian illusion.
Browder has Congress in a frenzy over a Russian illusion.

Is it little wonder that real America has been taken to the cleaners over the past 4 decades?

Robert Magill , August 3, 2017 at 10:00 am GMT

BTW I wonder how many people, including posters here, are aware that the U.S., under President Wilson, sent a military expedition to Russia after the Communist takeover there in 1917 and kept them there for about a year and a half.

Actually this 'invasion' was to help stabilize Russia during the revolution and to block Japan in the far east. Russia and the US had been good friends and allies since we helped Russia during the Crimean War, and with the purchase of Alaska and they had helped us during the US Civil War.
Harry Truman put an end to all that 'good neighbor policy" when he needed a scapegoat to launch the National Security State and prevent another depression. On it goes.

http://robertmagill.wordpress.com

TheJester , August 4, 2017 at 10:38 am GMT
Seems like the entire Browder/Magnitsky hustle is nothing more than Jews protecting Jews in a kind of international crime syndicate. When found out, they even have the network in place to control the narrative about their crimes to the point that trying to hold them accountable quickly morphs into a fundamental violation of their human rights.

"What do you mean you can't rip off a country's assets and hide the loot in offshore accounts? What do you do when you see a $10 bill laying in the street? You take it, of course! What else is a person suppose to do? When opportunity strikes, you make the best of it."

Browder and Magnitshy . How history repeats itself! I recall reading that something similar happened in the Weimar Republic when Germany was stripped of its assets after WWI. Indeed, even then there was an ((( international syndicate ))) in place to control the narrative and protect the shysters.

Don bass , August 4, 2017 at 6:39 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

"""Meaning, Putin gets a healthy cut. If he doesn't get a piece of the action, you will suddenly be found to have evaded taxes, or worse. And, heaven forfend, if you decided to use your wealth to oppose Putin politically, just as Khodorkovsky."""
What evidence do you have for this libellous allegation?? These assertions are made habitually in the western media. However this article on Browder demonstrates who are the parties making such claims and why.

Hibernian , August 5, 2017 at 12:41 am GMT
@Uebersetzer

We're talking about his grandson, an international businessman active in Russia at one time. The WASP grandfather who eventually became CPUSA chief married a Jewish woman and their mathematician son was the international businessman grandson's father.

Try to get your facts straight before you call everybody and his brother a Nazi.

n230099 , August 6, 2017 at 12:03 pm GMT
@Kiza

"The most interesting, previously unknown, detail to me in this article was that Browder's grandfather was the leader of the US Communist Party. "

That's funny. The first thing I thought upon seeing the name and the topic was "oh good grief could it be?'

Kiza , August 10, 2017 at 3:48 am GMT
@Skeptikal

Being English speaking and brought up in the Anglo-world but with good understanding of Russia through Communism, made this Jewish Godfather much more damaging to Russia than the other forced Jewish emigres: Berezovsky, Gusinsky and Khodorovsky.

Browder's ties with Mossad and CIA make him a prototypical Deep-Stater, spreading Anglo-Zionist dominance of the World (Globalism) and getting personally rich in the process. If the Anglo-Zionists manage to bring down Russia (say, kill Putin) then Browder could become the Paul Bremer III of Russia (perhaps titled William Browder I).

Jacques , Website September 10, 2017 at 8:26 am GMT
There a book, a merciless, factual excoriation of the Browder Hoax: The Killing of William Browder: Deconstructing Bill Browder's Dangerous Deception by Alex Krainer

https://www.amazon.com/Killing-William-Browder-Deconstructing-Dangerous-ebook/dp/B074TJ5LCK/

Fran800 , February 9, 2018 at 4:38 am GMT
@NewModelArmy

Earl Browder, born into a Kansas Methodist farm family became the head of the Communist party in the U.S. in the 30′s, probably for idealistic reasons. As a Communist, he became an atheist. He went to Russia and married a Russian Jewish woman. Their son, Felix, raised as a Jew by his mother, became a mathematician. Felix Browder married a Jewish woman and their son is the William Browder, subject of this article. William Browder is thus 3/4 Jewish. His one grandfather, from whom he got his name, was born a Christian gentile, but chucked it up to become a Communist leader. Through marriage to Jewish women, his grandson, William, is a ruthless capitalist Jewish oligarch who contributed to scavenging the decaying body of the former Soviet Union.

Sean , July 18, 2018 at 5:26 am GMT

intensity and the time he was devoting to anti-Russian sanctions in Europe was in no way comparable to the behaviour of a top level international businessman.

The writer does not know much about the business world, does he? Browder is still looking to get paid off, and businessmen can be motivated by vengeance (Warren Buffet included). Anyway, Mr. Browder seems far too focused on his wallet and effective an operator on that account to have been directed by MI6.

There is this myth that secret intelligence agents are more competent than lesser mortals (such as policemen). I like reading memoirs and novels about spys as much as anyone, but rich, tax dodging/philanthropic and litigious people like Browder are the real 007s of this world. I dare say there are a few holes in his story.

AnonFromTN , July 18, 2018 at 2:33 pm GMT
I can only tell Mr. Shamir that if he had stolen as much money as Browder, he'd be untouchable, too. Look at any dollar bill. It says "IN GOD WE TRUST". This is THE God Americans trust in. All the other gods are subject to freedom of religion.
HBM , July 18, 2018 at 3:01 pm GMT
@TheJester

Exactly right. Looting Russia– and later working to destroy it for objecting -- is their YHWH-given right. The Jewish criminality and evil Browder embodies is of so great a magnitude that it's difficult for a decent person to process such a creature.

Svigor , July 18, 2018 at 3:29 pm GMT
Funny, I heard (((Big Media's))) glowing take on Browder the other day and figured he must be a piece of shit. I don't base conclusions on such hunches, of course, so I guess I'll have to read the article and check around.

But it's funny how race-realism, countersemitism, and hatred of (((Big Media))) have such predictive power.

[Jul 18, 2018] Fascism A Warning by Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright is a well known neocon who was instrumental in organizing the invasion of Yugoslavia
Notable quotes:
"... Every reader will conclude that his or her political enemies fit the bill. ..."
"... And, unfortunately, I fear, she, in one fell swoop of prose, both fuels the fires of division while exiling the book to practical irrelevance. In the end, she will likely only energize both political extremes, and, I suspect, the reader ratings of this book will ultimately reflect that. ..."
"... She notes, for starters, that the Fascist epithet may be appropriate for the US today for reasons having more to do with economics than populism. The Fascist Party of Italy, which gave rise to general use of the term, was the ultimate merger of the corporate and political states. And that is, in fact, what has happened here in the US. ..."
"... The incorporation accelerated greatly during the dot-com 90s when young entrepreneurs were preaching disruption and libertarianism. It is ironic, indeed, that tech's "democratic" perspective has now produced among the biggest and most powerful corporations the world has ever known. And they pulled it off, actually, while the anti-trust regulators in both Republican and Democratic administrations stood by and watched. ..."
"... To me what we have today is not so much analogous to the Fascist or Nazi parties of the mid-20th Century as it is the power of the church in Medieval Europe. The kings and queens of Washington may wear the crowns, but it is the corporate "popes" of Wall Street and Silicon Valley that are really calling the shots. ..."
"... Neither party has defined an agenda that addresses the issues that originally brought Trump to power. And until that happens I believe Albright's Fascist warning will remain valid. ..."
Jul 18, 2018 | www.amazon.com
Gary Moreau, Author TOP 500 REVIEWER 4.0 out of 5 stars | Verified Purchase
Oh how I wanted to rate this book a 6

This is a timely book by a brilliant person who had a front row seat to the tragedy that was Europe in the Mid-20th Century. There is little doubt that the world is starting to look fearfully like it did at the beginning of those dark hours, starting with the tyranny of Hitler and Mussolini and culminating in the Cold War and the gulags of the Soviet Union.

Figuratively speaking, this is really three books. The first will be the most divisive and may, in fact, quite unfortunately, relegate the book to practical irrelevance. The second book is extremely insightful and informative. And the third book, honestly, is pure gold and vintage Madeline Albright.

The first book begins with a contradiction. Albright openly acknowledges that Fascism has become a meaningless epithet, hurled, as it is, by opposing politicians of every stripe and at parents merely attempting to limit the cell phone usage of their children. She goes on to defend the titular use of the term, however, by clarifying her use of the term: "To my mind, a Fascist is someone who identifies strongly with and claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use whatever means are necessary -- including violence -- to achieve his or her goals."

At that point, however, she hasn't really narrowed the list of politicians who qualify for the pejorative label at all. Every reader will conclude that his or her political enemies fit the bill. She seals the fate of this portion of the book, however, when she asks, on page 4 of the book, " why, this far into the twenty-first century, are we once again talking about Fascism?" And answers, "One reason, frankly, is Donald Trump. If we think of Fascism as a wound from the past that had almost healed, putting Trump in the White House was like ripping off the bandage and picking at the scab." And she goes on to make thinly veiled comparisons between Trump, Mussolini, and Joseph McCarthy.

And, unfortunately, I fear, she, in one fell swoop of prose, both fuels the fires of division while exiling the book to practical irrelevance. In the end, she will likely only energize both political extremes, and, I suspect, the reader ratings of this book will ultimately reflect that.

That is most unfortunate because without those opening pages this would be a truly terrific book. It chronicles both relevant history and the recent past to a degree that few other people on the planet could.

The second part of the book is devoted to an analysis of recent political events in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Venezuela, the Philippines, Russia, North Korea, and, of course, the United States. All, to varying degrees, she maintains, are showing signs of a slide toward Fascism and the decline of post-war liberal democracy. It is an informative analysis and unless you are a political junkie, you will learn a lot.

In the third part of the book she truly hits her stride. She notes, for starters, that the Fascist epithet may be appropriate for the US today for reasons having more to do with economics than populism. The Fascist Party of Italy, which gave rise to general use of the term, was the ultimate merger of the corporate and political states. And that is, in fact, what has happened here in the US.

The incorporation of America has been going on since the conservative movement of the 1980s, however, and while Trump is carrying the corporate water at the moment, he can hardly be blamed for allowing Wall Street and Silicon Valley to take control of Washington.

The incorporation accelerated greatly during the dot-com 90s when young entrepreneurs were preaching disruption and libertarianism. It is ironic, indeed, that tech's "democratic" perspective has now produced among the biggest and most powerful corporations the world has ever known. And they pulled it off, actually, while the anti-trust regulators in both Republican and Democratic administrations stood by and watched.

To me what we have today is not so much analogous to the Fascist or Nazi parties of the mid-20th Century as it is the power of the church in Medieval Europe. The kings and queens of Washington may wear the crowns, but it is the corporate "popes" of Wall Street and Silicon Valley that are really calling the shots.

Which is why both parties, I think, should be fearful of whatever happens in the mid-term elections. Be careful what you wish for. Neither party has defined an agenda that addresses the issues that originally brought Trump to power. And until that happens I believe Albright's Fascist warning will remain valid.

In the final chapters of the book Albright notes that putting American interests first invites Russia, China, and others to do the same. And it is here that she lowers her partisan guard (we all have one) and calls for unity through the recognition of our common humanity and the rejection of extremism that favors one group over another.

It is here that she also seems to soften her position on ideals of post-war democratic liberalism and focuses more on compassion, integrity, and fairness. I think of it as defining a new standard of shared obligation and responsibility that includes those countries and those people that aren't rushing to implement an Electoral College and to copy our form of bare-knuckle individualism, but those are my words, not hers.

In the end she notes that spend her time on issues like: "purging excess money from politics, improving civic education, defending journalistic independence, adjusting to the changing nature of the workplace, enhancing inter-religious dialogue, and putting a saddle on the bucking bronco we call the Internet." It's a perfect ending to what is a very good book by an inspiring individual.

I do recommend reading it.

[Jul 18, 2018] National (In)Security by Rajan Menon

Notable quotes:
"... $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America ..."
"... Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America ..."
"... , is the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. He is the author, most recently, of ..."
Jul 15, 2018 | www.unz.com

So effectively has the Beltway establishment captured the concept of national security that, for most of us, it automatically conjures up images of terrorist groups, cyber warriors, or "rogue states." To ward off such foes, the United States maintains a historically unprecedented constellation of military bases abroad and, since 9/11, has waged wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere that have gobbled up nearly $4.8 trillion . The 2018 Pentagon budget already totals $647 billion -- four times what China, second in global military spending, shells out and more than the next 12 countries combined, seven of them American allies. For good measure, Donald Trump has added an additional $200 billion to projected defense expenditures through 2019.

Yet to hear the hawks tell it, the United States has never been less secure. So much for bang for the buck.

For millions of Americans, however, the greatest threat to their day-to-day security isn't terrorism or North Korea, Iran, Russia, or China. It's internal -- and economic. That's particularly true for the 12.7% of Americans (43.1 million of them) classified as poor by the government's criteria : an income below $12,140 for a one-person household, $16,460 for a family of two, and so on until you get to the princely sum of $42,380 for a family of eight.

Savings aren't much help either: a third of Americans have no savings at all and another third have less than $1,000 in the bank. Little wonder that families struggling to cover the cost of food alone increased from 11% (36 million) in 2007 to 14% (48 million) in 2014.

The Working Poor

Unemployment can certainly contribute to being poor, but millions of Americans endure poverty when they have full-time jobs or even hold down more than one job. The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that there are 8.6 million "working poor," defined by the government as people who live below the poverty line despite being employed at least 27 weeks a year. Their economic insecurity doesn't register in our society, partly because working and being poor don't seem to go together in the minds of many Americans -- and unemployment has fallen reasonably steadily. After approaching 10% in 2009, it's now at only 4% .

Help from the government? Bill Clinton's 1996 welfare " reform " program , concocted in partnership with congressional Republicans, imposed time limits on government assistance, while tightening eligibility criteria for it. So, as Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer show in their disturbing book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America , many who desperately need help don't even bother to apply. And things will only get worse in the age of Trump. His 2019 budget includes deep cuts in a raft of anti-poverty programs.

Anyone seeking a visceral sense of the hardships such Americans endure should read Barbara Ehrenreich's 2001 book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America . It's a gripping account of what she learned when, posing as a "homemaker" with no special skills, she worked for two years in various low-wage jobs, relying solely on her earnings to support herself. The book brims with stories about people who had jobs but, out of necessity, slept in rent-by-the-week fleabag motels, flophouses, or even in their cars, subsisting on vending machine snacks for lunch, hot dogs and instant noodles for dinner , and forgoing basic dental care or health checkups. Those who managed to get permanent housing would choose poor, low-rent neighborhoods close to work because they often couldn't afford a car. To maintain even such a barebones lifestyle, many worked more than one job.

Though politicians prattle on about how times have changed for the better, Ehrenreich's book still provides a remarkably accurate picture of America's working poor. Over the past decade the proportion of people who exhausted their monthly paychecks just to pay for life's essentials actually increased from 31% to 38%. In 2013, 71% of the families that had children and used food pantries run by Feeding America, the largest private organization helping the hungry, included at least one person who had worked during the previous year. And in America's big cities , chiefly because of a widening gap between rent and wages, thousands of working poor remain homeless , sleeping in shelters, on the streets, or in their vehicles, sometimes along with their families. In New York City, no outlier when it comes to homelessness among the working poor, in a third of the families with children that use homeless shelters at least one adult held a job.

The Wages of Poverty

The working poor cluster in certain occupations. They are salespeople in retail stores, servers or preparers of fast food, custodial staff, hotel workers, and caregivers for children or the elderly. Many make less than $10 an hour and lack any leverage, union or otherwise, to press for raises. In fact, the percentage of unionized workers in such jobs remains in the single digits -- and in retail and food preparation, it's under 4.5%. That's hardly surprising, given that private sector union membership has fallen by 50% since 1983 to only 6.7% of the workforce.

Low-wage employers like it that way and -- Walmart being the poster child for this -- work diligently to make it ever harder for employees to join unions. As a result, they rarely find themselves under any real pressure to increase wages, which, adjusted for inflation, have stood still or even decreased since the late 1970s. When employment is " at-will ," workers may be fired or the terms of their work amended on the whim of a company and without the slightest explanation. Walmart announced this year that it would hike its hourly wage to $11 and that's welcome news. But this had nothing to do with collective bargaining; it was a response to the drop in the unemployment rate, cash flows from the Trump tax cut for corporations (which saved Walmart as much as $2 billion ), an increase in minimum wages in a number of states, and pay increases by an arch competitor, Target. It was also accompanied by the shutdown of 63 of Walmart's Sam's Club stores, which meant layoffs for 10,000 workers. In short, the balance of power almost always favors the employer, seldom the employee.

As a result, though the United States has a per-capita income of $59,500 and is among the wealthiest countries in the world, 12.7% of Americans (that's 43.1 million people), officially are impoverished. And that's generally considered a significant undercount. The Census Bureau establishes the poverty rate by figuring out an annual no-frills family food budget, multiplying it by three, adjusting it for household size, and pegging it to the Consumer Price Index. That, many economists believe, is a woefully inadequate way of estimating poverty. Food prices haven't risen dramatically over the past 20 years, but the cost of other necessities like medical care (especially if you lack insurance) and housing have: 10.5% and 11.8% respectively between 2013 and 2017 compared to an only 5.5% increase for food.

Include housing and medical expenses in the equation and you get the Supplementary Poverty Measure (SPM), published by the Census Bureau since 2011. It reveals that a larger number of Americans are poor: 14% or 45 million in 2016.

Dismal Data

For a fuller picture of American (in)security, however, it's necessary to delve deeper into the relevant data, starting with hourly wages, which are the way more than 58% of adult workers are paid. The good news: only 1.8 million , or 2.3% of them, subsist at or below minimum wage. The not-so-good news: one-third of all workers earn less than $12 an hour and 42% earn less than $15. That's $24,960 and $31,200 a year. Imagine raising a family on such incomes, figuring in the cost of food, rent, childcare, car payments (since a car is often a necessity simply to get to a job in a country with inadequate public transportation), and medical costs.

The problem facing the working poor isn't just low wages, but the widening gap between wages and rising prices. The government has increased the hourly federal minimum wage more than 20 times since it was set at 25 cents under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. Between 2007 and 2009 it rose to $7.25, but over the past decade that sum lost nearly 10% of its purchasing power to inflation, which means that, in 2018, someone would have to work 41 additional days to make the equivalent of the 2009 minimum wage.

Workers in the lowest 20% have lost the most ground, their inflation-adjusted wages falling by nearly 1% between 1979 and 2016, compared to a 24.7% increase for the top 20%. This can't be explained by lackluster productivity since, between 1985 and 2015, it outstripped pay raises, often substantially, in every economic sector except mining.

Yes, states can mandate higher minimum wages and 29 have, but 21 have not, leaving many low-wage workers struggling to cover the costs of two essentials in particular: health care and housing.

Even when it comes to jobs that offer health insurance, employers have been shifting ever more of its cost onto their workers through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, as well as by requiring them to cover more of the premiums. The percentage of workers who paid at least 10% of their earnings to cover such costs -- not counting premiums -- doubled between 2003 and 2014.

This helps explain why, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , only 11% of workers in the bottom 10% of wage earners even enrolled in workplace healthcare plans in 2016 (compared to 72% in the top 10%). As a restaurant server who makes $2.13 an hour before tips -- and whose husband earns $9 an hour at Walmart -- put it , after paying the rent, "it's either put food in the house or buy insurance."

The Affordable Care Act, or ACA (aka Obamacare), provided subsidies to help people with low incomes cover the cost of insurance premiums, but workers with employer-supplied healthcare, no matter how low their wages, weren't covered by it. Now, of course, President Trump , congressional Republicans , and a Supreme Court in which right-wing justices are going to be even more influential will be intent on poleaxing the ACA.

It's housing, though, that takes the biggest bite out of the paychecks of low-wage workers. The majority of them are renters. Ownership remains for many a pipe dream. According to a Harvard study , between 2001 and 2016, renters who made $30,000-$50,000 a year and paid more than a third of their earnings to landlords (the threshold for qualifying as "rent burdened") increased from 37% to 50%. For those making only $15,000, that figure rose to 83%.

In other words, in an ever more unequal America, the number of low-income workers struggling to pay their rent has surged. As the Harvard analysis shows, this is, in part, because the number of affluent renters (with incomes of $100,000 or more) has leapt and, in city after city, they're driving the demand for, and building of, new rental units. As a result, the high-end share of new rental construction soared from a third to nearly two-thirds of all units between 2001 and 2016. Not surprisingly, new low-income rental units dropped from two-fifths to one-fifth of the total and, as the pressure on renters rose, so did rents for even those modest dwellings. On top of that, in places like New York City , where demand from the wealthy shapes the housing market, landlords have found ways -- some within the law, others not -- to get rid of low-income tenants.

Public housing and housing vouchers are supposed to make housing affordable to low-income households, but the supply of public housing hasn't remotely matched demand. Consequently, waiting lists are long and people in need languish for years before getting a shot -- if they ever do. Only a quarter of those who qualify for such assistance receive it. As for those vouchers, getting them is hard to begin with because of the massive mismatch between available funding for the program and the demand for the help it provides. And then come the other challenges : finding landlords willing to accept vouchers or rentals that are reasonably close to work and not in neighborhoods euphemistically labelled " distressed ."

The bottom line: more than 75% of "at-risk" renters (those for whom the cost of rent exceeds 30% or more of their earnings) do not receive assistance from the government. The real "risk" for them is becoming homeless, which means relying on shelters or family and friends willing to take them in.

President Trump's proposed budget cuts will make life even harder for low-income workers seeking affordable housing. His 2019 budget proposal slashes $6.8 billion (14.2%) from the resources of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) by, among other things, scrapping housing vouchers and assistance to low-income families struggling to pay heating bills. The president also seeks to slash funds for the upkeep of public housing by nearly 50%. In addition, the deficits that his rich-come-first tax "reform" bill is virtually guaranteed to produce will undoubtedly set the stage for yet more cuts in the future. In other words, in what's becoming the United States of Inequality, the very phrases "low-income workers" and "affordable housing" have ceased to go together.

None of this seems to have troubled HUD Secretary Ben Carson who happily ordered a $31,000 dining room set for his office suite at the taxpayers' expense, even as he visited new public housing units to make sure that they weren't too comfortable (lest the poor settle in for long stays). Carson has declared that it's time to stop believing the problems of this society can be fixed merely by having the government throw extra money at them -- unless, apparently, the dining room accoutrements of superbureaucrats aren't up to snuff.

Money Talks

The levels of poverty and economic inequality that prevail in America are not intrinsic to either capitalism or globalization. Most other wealthy market economies in the 36-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have done far better than the United States in reducing them without sacrificing innovation or creating government-run economies.

Take the poverty gap, which the OECD defines as the difference between a country's official poverty line and the average income of those who fall below it. The United States has the second largest poverty gap among wealthy countries; only Italy does worse.

Child poverty ? In the World Economic Forum's ranking of 41 countries -- from best to worst -- the U.S. placed 35th. Child poverty has declined in the United States since 2010, but a Columbia University report estimates that 19% of American kids (13.7 million) nevertheless lived in families with incomes below the official poverty line in 2016. If you add in the number of kids in low-income households, that number increases to 41%.

As for infant mortality , according to the government's own Centers for Disease Control, the U.S., with 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, has the absolute worst record among wealthy countries. (Finland and Japan do best with 2.3.)

And when it comes to the distribution of wealth, among the OECD countries only Turkey, Chile, and Mexico do worse than the U.S.

It's time to rethink the American national security state with its annual trillion-dollar budget. For tens of millions of Americans, the source of deep workaday insecurity isn't the standard roster of foreign enemies, but an ever-more entrenched system of inequality, still growing , that stacks the political deck against the least well-off Americans. They lack the bucks to hire big-time lobbyists. They can't write lavish checks to candidates running for public office or fund PACs. They have no way of manipulating the myriad influence-generating networks that the elite uses to shape taxation and spending policies. They are up against a system in which money truly does talk -- and that's the voice they don't have. Welcome to the United States of Inequality.

Rajan Menon, a TomDispatch regular , is the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. He is the author, most recently, of The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention .


ThreeCranes , July 16, 2018 at 1:56 am GMT

"the United States has a per-capita income of $59,500 and is among the wealthiest countries in the world"

"and 42% earn less than $15. That's ..$31,200 a year."

Something doesn't add up. There is no way that the per capita income of the United States is $59,500.

Ahh, upon clicking the link, I see it is the mean. Meaning it's meaningless.

anon [266] Disclaimer , July 16, 2018 at 2:56 am GMT
But Rajan ,the American can always " honor the military " at the fast food drive through, even send a few pennies for the Wounded Warrior Project ,in addition to buying lotteries, and writing the tithe to the Mega Churches seeking blessing for the military men and women in uniform . They can sing with Trump"Make America Great Again " . They can come out of the woodshed to support wars , say things against Mexican, listen to FOX,and gather around Prospect park to celebrate birthdays , hop into a bus and continue texting to update the status on social media . They can nod with MSNBC that they have the best freedom that any corner of the world can afford . They if white can claim being discriminated by Asian Americans,if black by Mexicans,if Latinos by whites .
Now it seems they could feel proud of the ability to guide China UK and Brazil/Argentina do the right things .
Carlton Meyer , Website July 16, 2018 at 4:32 am GMT
Why do these experts fail to understand that our national security budget is twice that of the Department of Defense? It is no secret, POGO runs a tally showing it's twice as much:

http://www.pogo.org/straus/issues/defense-budget/2018/americas-national-security-budget-nearing-1-trillion.html

For example, nuclear weapons are not included in our "defense budget" but eat up more than half of the budget for our Dept of Energy!

This author also fails to explain that mass immigration is the primary cause of stagnant wages for the working poor. From my blog:

Jul 16, 2018 – Illegal Immigration Replaced Slave Labor

In past blog posts, I explained how illegal immigration is a form of slave labor. It seems powerful people explained this to former President George W. Bush, but didn't tell him not to repeat it in public and that Americans no longer pick cotton by hand. As a result, Bush said this during a speech earlier this year:

"There are people willing to do jobs that Americans won't do. Americans don't want to pick cotton at 105 degrees, but there are people who want put food on their family's tables and are willing to do that. We ought to say thank you and welcome them."

https://www.apnews.com/fb98faa8f69b4135a9a866e0b61a6593/George-W.-Bush-says-Russia-meddled-in-2016-US-election

Bush failed to note that millionaires pay only $10 an hour with no benefits for these tough jobs, yet most field workers are US citizens or green card holders. Illegals are hired to hold down wages and deter unions and strikes. If they would pay $20 an hour, plenty of Americans would show up to work. Most Americans don't know that millions of white Americans once picked cotton by hand, and picked more than Blacks or Mexicans.

peterAUS , July 16, 2018 at 5:20 am GMT
Articles like this pop up here every now and then.
Something doesn't compute.

If the situation is as grim as the article says, why so many people do their best to immigrate into USA?

Why more, just Westerners, try to immigrate into USA then Americans into those, just Western, countries?

I've known some Americans around here where I live.
I've known many more locals who've gone to live in USA, let alone tried to get to live in USA.

Something simply does not compute.

A simple question for an American:
If a person is prudent and sensible, is it really that hard to get by, unemployed, there?

Now, in similar topic an American did explain, some time ago, that there are so many ways to help those unemployed/underpaid. That the social security net isn't worse, but actually overall better, then in other Western countries.
Plus, of course, opportunities.

Again, all that data from the article I can't challenge. What doesn't make sense is net migration, just within Western sphere.

I do know some people, several dozen I guess, who live in USA. They have been doing quite well. From a bus driver to a top medical professional.

Anyone cares to shed some light there ?

Biff , July 16, 2018 at 6:07 am GMT

For a fuller picture of American (in)security, however, it's necessary to delve deeper into the relevant data, starting with hourly wages, which are the way more than 58% of adult workers are paid. The good news: only 1.8 million, or 2.3% of them, subsist at or below minimum wage. The not-so-good news: one-third of all workers earn less than $12 an hour and 42% earn less than $15. That's $24,960 and $31,200 a year. Imagine raising a family on such incomes, figuring in the cost of food, rent, childcare, car payments (since a car is often a necessity simply to get to a job in a country with inadequate public transportation), and medical costs.

You forgot another expense poor communities have – governmental extraction forces GEF. Local law enforcement target the poor with the many petty offenses(they've purposely invented) to extract money for expanding and maintaining of their extortion racket. This no secret or conspiracy theory, for they readily admit to it. They target the poor because they understand that the poor do not have resources(lawyers, guns, and money) to fight back. They target the poor because they're poor, and the poor understand this as just another bill to pay – another added expense of living in their community.

Another indirect expense that makes all Americans a lot less rich – insurance. Everything that moves and everything that doesn't is at least singular insured or often double or tripled insured. Property is a good example of how one entity can be insured three times over by the owner, renter, contractor, sub-contractor. Your body is another example of how things "must be insured" ; no surprise when Obama care came along to do just that.

jilles dykstra , July 16, 2018 at 7:09 am GMT
Trump makes clear statements, I too like them.
For me the USA is a third world country, the exceptions are oversized cars and gated communities.
On one of my visits to the USA I was asked if a child could be medically treated in the Netherlands, the choice for the parents was letting the child die, or sell their house.
In the Netherlands we have treatments that cost several hundred thousands of euro's per year, paid for by our medical care system.
Per person we pay about € 100 per month.
Pensions, the same.
Though the EU is busy destroying the best pension systems in the world, those of the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, this has not yet succeeded.
A disaster as the ENRON pension fund cannot happen here.
The USA is a great country to live in if you're rich.
And, of course, if you're willing to have the illusion that the poor have only themselves to blame for being poor.
USA society, terrible, in my opinion, 19th century, a moneycracy.
Eisenhower in his farewell speech warned for the military industrial complex, do not have the impression that anything changed since then.
Stripes Duncan , July 16, 2018 at 7:24 am GMT
What percentage of the population growth of the United States since 1965 has been a result of immigrants and their descendants?

You cannot discuss the subject of this article without asking this question. It's at the very center of the issue.

H. T. , July 16, 2018 at 12:53 pm GMT
3 weeks after the US-NATO FAILED coup attempt in Georgia (more than 2000 died), the petrodollar [i.e., the banks) "crashed" (and Bush gave more than additional weapons [for more than $1 Billion) to Sakashviili] .

Moreover, as Mr Kucinich explain, massive transfers occurred between certain banks :

ALSO, a must: The Truth About Glass-Steagall

https://www.corbettreport.com/the-truth-about-glass-steagall/

anon [228] Disclaimer , July 16, 2018 at 12:57 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

The USA is a great country to live in if you're rich."

And if you hold large number of slaves known as immigrants from Central and S America
Immigrants serve same purpose the slaves did . It balances the poor middle class white's rage that can tilt the anger and hatred against the rich ( mostly white ).

This situation goes right into the creation of US It missed the social and political and religious changes of 18 th and 19 the centuries which gave birth to pre 2000 political system and social systems of EU .

Implosion of Soviet lent more credence to the economic-political system of USA because the blind and the deaf evaluated it for teh blind and the deaf who missed the success of the system on the back of African Latin American and Asian poor newly independent ) confused ) countries. Those countries provided the ingredients- moral ,economic,emotional , – to the working white class . It b;bolstered their hatred dismissive attitude to the foreigners and cemented their love for a hateful system that hurt actually the interest of the middle class and poor whites but gave them a sense of connection ,belonging,and partnerships through color language and religion- all are false .
This is the same mindset that glues the the untouchables and the poor Hindus to the RSS- BJP – Brahmanical system of oppression

[Jul 18, 2018] Syria and geopolitics of oil

Jul 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 , Jul 17, 2018 6:46:40 PM | 141

Daniel,

It is noticeable that Trump's US attack any Syrian forces coming too close to US occupied zones of al Tanf and Dier Ezzor. Also Trumps takeover of the Deir Ezzor oilfields where US forces simply set up bases or forward posts in the ISIS occupied area.

Under Trump, US has set up a number of new bases in Syria. On the other hand, no concern about Afrin and Manbij. The Deir Ezzor area is Arab tribes and this and al Hasakah (Kurd/Arab?) is the top end of the Persian Gulf/Mesopotamia oil field.

US now controls al Hasakah and half of Deir Ezzor province. The have been ongoing efforts by the US under Trump to take Al Bukamal. US has a base just south of Al Bukamal in Iraq. US bases are now thick throughout Mesopotamia, with more being built.

Also a new base being installed in Kuwait.

The US controls the Arab shore of the Persian gulf, it now has many bases in Iraq and Syria. The only thing missing is the oil rich strip of Iran running alongside the Persian gulf and Mesopotamia.

[Jul 18, 2018] After the press conference the usual anti-Trump operatives went ballistic

Jul 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

After the press conference the usual anti-Trump operatives went ballistic:

John O. Brennan @JohnBrennan - 15:52 UTC - 16 Jul 2018

Donald Trump's press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of "high crimes & misdemeanors." It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???

Senator John McCain released a scathing statement :

... "President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.
...
"No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are -- a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. ...

These imbeciles do not understand the realism behind Trump's grand policy. Trump knows the heartland theory of Halford John Mackinder. He understands that Russia is the core of the Eurasian landmass. That landmass, when politically united, can rule the world. A naval power, the U.S. now as the UK before it, can never defeat it. Trump's opponents do not get what Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor of President Carter, explained in his book The Grant Chessboard (pdf). They do not understand why Henry Kissinger advised Trump to let go of Crimea.

Trump himself professed his view (vid) of the big picture and of relations with Russia in a 2015 press conference:

"I know Putin. And I tell you that we can get along with Putin. Putin has no respect for President Obama. Big Problem, big problem. And you know Russia has been driven - you know I always heard, for years I have heard - one of the worst things that can happen to our country, is when Russia ever gets driven to China. We have driven them together - with the big oil deals that are being made. We have driven them together. That's a horrible thing for this country. We have made them friends because of incompetent leadership. I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin- okay? And I mean where we have the strength. I don't think we need the sanctions. I think that we would get along very, very well. I really believe that. I think we would get along with a lot of countries that we don't get along with today. And that we would be a lot richer for it than we are today.
It took 45 years, not 20 as Kissinger foresaw, to rebalance the U.S. position.

After the Cold War the U.S. thought it had won the big ideological competition of the twentieth century. In its exuberance of the 'unilateral moment' it did everything possible to antagonize Russia. Against its promises it extended NATO to Russia's border. It wanted to be the peerless supreme power of the world. At the same time it invited China into the World Trade Organisation and thereby enabled its explosive economic growth. This unbalanced policy took its toll. The U.S. lost industrial capacity to China and at the same time drove Russia into China's hands. Playing the global hegemon turned out to be very expensive. It led to the 2006 crash of the U.S. economy and its people have since seen little to no gains. Trump wants to revert this situation by rebalancing towards Russia while opposing China's growing might.

Not everyone shares that perspective. As security advisor to Jimmy Carter Brzezinski continued the Nixon/Kissinger policy towards China. The 'one China policy', disregarding Taiwan for better relations with Beijing, was his work. His view is still that the U.S. should ally with China against Russia:

"It is not in our interest to antagonize Beijing. It is much better for American interests to have the Chinese work closely with us, thereby forcing the Russians to follow suit if they don't want to be left out in the cold. That constellation gives the U.S. the unique ability to reach out across the world with collective political influence."

But why would China join such a scheme? Brzezinski's view of Russia was always clouded. His family of minor nobles has its roots in Galicia, now in west-Ukraine. They were driven from Poland when the Soviets extended their realm into the middle of Europe. To him Russia will always be the antagonist.

Kissinger's view is more realistic. He sees that the U.S. must be more balanced in its relations :

[I]n the emerging multipolar order, Russia should be perceived as an essential element of any new global equilibrium, not primarily as a threat to the United States.

Kissinger is again working to divide Russia from China . But this time around it is Russia that needs to be elevated, that needs to become a friend.

Trump is following Kissinger's view. He wants good relations with Russia to separate Russia from China. He (rightly) sees China as the bigger long term (economic) danger to the United States. That is the reason why he, immediately after his election , started to beef up the relations with Taiwan and continues to do so. ( Listen to Peter Lee for the details). That is the reason why he tries to snatch North Korea from China's hands. That is the reason why he makes nice with Putin.

It is not likely that Trump will manage to pull Russia out of its profitable alliance with China. It is true that China's activities, especially in the Central Asian -stans, are a long term danger to Russia. China's demographic and economic power is far greater than Russia's. But the U.S. has never been faithful in its relations with Russia. It would take decades to regain its trust. China on the other hand stands to its commitments. China is not interested in conquering the 'heartland'. It has bigger fish to fry in south-east Asia, Africa and elsewhere. It is not in its interest to antagonize Russia.

The maximum Trump can possibly achieve is to neutralize Russia while he attempts to tackle China's growing economic might via tariffs, sanctions and by cuddling Taiwan, Japan and other countries with anti-Chinese agendas.

The U.S. blew its 'unilateral moment'. Instead of making friends with Russia it drove it into China's hands. Hegemonic globalization and unilateral wars proved to be too expensive. The U.S. people received no gains from it. That is why they elected Trump.

Trump is doing his best to correct the situation. For the foreseeable future the world will end up with three power centers. Anglo-America, Russia and China. (An aging and disunited Europe will flap in the winds.) These power centers will never wage direct war against each other, but will tussle at the peripheries. Korea, Iran and the Ukraine will be centers of these conflicts. Interests in Central Asia, South America and Africa will also play a role.

Trump understands the big picture. To 'Make America Great Again' he needs to tackle China and to prevent a deeper Chinese-Russian alliance. It's the neo-conservatives and neo-liberals who do not get it. They are still stuck in Brzezinski's Cold War view of Russia. They still believe that economic globalization, which helped China to regain its historic might, is the one and true path to follow. They do not perceive at all the damage they have done to the American electorate.

For now Trump's view is winning. But the lunatic reactions to the press conference show that the powers against him are still strong. They will sabotage him wherever possible. The big danger for now is that their view of the world might again raise to power.

Posted by b on July 17, 2018 at 07:41 AM | Permalink Jen , Jul 17, 2018 8:54:40 AM | 8