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Relentless militarism and reckless jingoism of the US neoliberal elite

As large part of the US GDP (financial services part) is fake,
 the current level of military expenses can bankrupt the country

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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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[Mar 26, 2020] Pompeo is on record having said that our government "lies, cheats, and steals" in order to accomplish its anti-Christian objectives.

Mar 26, 2020 | www.unz.com

Sokrates , says: Show Comment March 25, 2020 at 11:54 am GMT

@37 Yesterday I went to Home Depot to buy some water tubing for my ice-maker.

I noticed all doors were blocked with a tape, except one with at least 25 people waiting to get in and a female employee holding a sign "the line starts here".

I ask the lady what was all about and she said because of the virus etc.

I said to her "You must be kidding" and I start going back to my car.

Some old lady from the line waiting to get in she scream to me something about "we protect ourselves" and similar nonsense.

I turn around and I said to her: Quit watching TV you idiot. They rob your money on broad daylight and send your kids to die fighting israels enemies.

RichardTaylor , says: Show Comment March 25, 2020 at 12:01 pm GMT
The overreaction to the virus makes no sense. Is something being hidden from us? The freak out over this virus – to the tune of $trillions – is all out of proportion.

2.8 million Americans die every year. Why the obsession with this one virus which may kill in the thousands?

Something is off. But Trump should have known early if there was some other hidden danger. If there is some hidden suspicion by the people obsessing over this, please share it!

[Mar 26, 2020] The face of Trump in foreign policy is Pompeo and it is wicked, ungly face of a gangster

Yet another Gofgather
Notable quotes:
"... The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be . ..."
March 24, 2020 < Older
No Respite for the Wicked, Pompeo Unleashed Written by Tom Luongo Tuesday

There are few things in this life that make me more sick to my stomach than watching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talking. He truly is one of the evilest men I've ever had the displeasure of covering.

Into the insanity of the over-reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, Pompeo wasted no time ramping up sanctions on firms doing any business with Iran, one of the countries worse-hit by this virus to date.

It's a seemingly endless refrain, everyday, more sanctions on Chinese, Swiss and South African firms for having the temerity in these deflating times to buy oil from someone Pompeo and his gang of heartless psychopaths disapprove of.

This goes far beyond just the oil industry. Even though I'm well aware that Russia's crashing the price of oil was itself a hybrid war attack on US capital markets. One that has had, to date, devastating effect.

While Pompeo mouths the words publicly that humanitarian aid is exempted from sanctions on Iran, the US is pursuing immense pressure on companies to not do so anyway while the State Dept. bureaucracy takes its sweet time processing waiver applications.

Pompeo and his ilk only think in terms of civilizational warfare. They have become so subsumed by their big war for the moral high ground to prove American exceptionalism that they have lost any shred of humanity they may have ever had.

Because for Pompeo in times like these to stick to his talking points and for his office to continue excising Iran from the global economy when we're supposed to be coming together to fight a global pandemic is the height of soullessness.

And it speaks to the much bigger problem that infects all of our political thinking. There comes a moment when politics and gaining political advantage have to take a back seat to doing the right thing.

I've actually seen moments of that impulse from the Democratic leadership in the US Will wonders never cease?!

Thinking only in Manichean terms of good vs. evil and dehumanizing your opponents is actually costlier than reversing course right now. Because honey is always better at attracting flies than vinegar.

But, unfortunately, that is not the character of the Trump administration.

It can only think in terms of direct leverage and opportunity to hold onto what they think they've achieved. So, until President Trump is no longer consumed with coordinating efforts to control COVID-19 Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are in charge of foreign policy. They will continue the playbook that has been well established.

Maximum pressure on Iran, hurt China any way they can, hold onto what they have in Syria, stay in Iraq.

To that end Iraqi President Barham Salei nominated Pompeo's best choice to replace Prime Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi to throw Iraq's future into complete turmoil. According to Elijah Magnier, Adnan al-Zarfi is a US asset through and through .

And this looks like Pompeo's Hail Mary to retain US legal presence in Iraq after the Iraqi parliament adopted a measure to demand withdrawal of US troops from the country. Airstrikes against US bases in Iraq continue on a near daily basis and there have been reports of US base closures and redeployments at the same time.

This move looks like desperation by Pompeo et.al. to finally separate the Hashd al-Shaabi from Iraq's official military. So that airstrikes against them can be carried out under the definition of 'fighting Iranian terrorism.'

As Magnier points out in the article above if al-Zarfi puts a government together the war in Iraq will expand just as the US is losing further control in Syria after Turkish President Erdogan's disastrous attempt to remake the front in Idlib. That ended with his effective surrender to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be .

It is sad that, to me, I see no reason to doubt Pompeo and his ilk in the US government wouldn't do something like that to spark political and social upheaval in those places most targeted by US hybrid war tactics.

But, at the same time, I can see the other side of it, a vicious strike back by China against its tormentors. And China's government does itself, in my mind, no favors threatening to withhold drug precursors and having officials run their mouths giving Americans the excuse they need to validate Trump and Pompeo's divisive rhetoric.

Remaining on the fence about this issue isn't my normal style. But everyone is dirty here and the reality may well be this is a natural event terrible people on both sides are exploiting.

And I can only go by what people do rather than what they say to assess the situation. Trump tries to buy exclusive right to a potential COVID-19 vaccine from a German firm and his administration slow-walks aid to Iran.

China sends aid to Iran and Italy by the container full. Is that to salve their conscience over its initial suppression of information about the virus? Good question. But no one covers themselves in glory by using the confusion and distraction to attempt further regime change and step up war-footing during a public health crisis, manufactured or otherwise.

While Pompeo unctuously talks the talk of compassion and charity, he cannot bring himself to actually walk the walk. Because he is a despicable, bile-filled man of uncommon depravity. His prosecuting a hybrid war during a public health crisis speaks to no other conclusion about him.

It's clear to me that nothing has changed at the top of Trump's administration. I expect COVID-19 will not be a disaster for Trump and the US. It can handle this. But the lack of humanity shown by its diplomatic corps ensures that in the long run the US will be left to fend for itself when the next crisis hits.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation .


Related

[Mar 25, 2020] A Brand New Military What an ass!

Mar 25, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Just heard the orange god deliver this line at the daily CODIV-19 task force briefing. For this fool, the military is a pile of new "stuff," He bought it, he paid for the "stuff" so, he has created a "brand new military." What about the people who served throughout the miserably stupid war in Iraq and the equally stupid post 2009 attempt to pacify Afghanistan, a country that never was and never will be. Think of the money and blood that we pissed away there. Even the Pompous one sees the necessity to withdraw our support from the wretches who run the government there or pretend to do that. Or perhaps Trump told him to stick it to them, at long last. Trump's experience of "military service" was his corrective enrollment at a private military high school, but he has stated that he knows "all about it.

Someone remarked to me once that it had been a miracle that the US could create an army for WW2. I asked him in response what sort of occupation Marshall, Eisenhower, MacArthur and Patton had been involved with before the war. Shoe sales? Gas station ownership" Insurance sales? What?

It would be tempting to think that one might vote for the Democrat. Biden the demented? Sanders the Marxist dreamer? Cuomo the massive NY City creep egotist?

No, we Deplorables are stuck with El Trumpo. pl

Fred , 25 March 2020 at 07:13 PM

Col.,

"we Deplorables are stuck with El Trumpo."

On a bright note today is another day where Hilary is not President.

Deap , 25 March 2020 at 07:37 PM
If MSM were in the business of posting facts instead of partisan hyperbole, you would think the Dems would have run something far better than a Sanders or a Biden at this particular juncture of history.

So did we get are handed a choice among "deplorables"; or an echo of equal deplorables. Right now, I will continue to dance with the gal who brung me. Trump is seasoning well and growing into the job. I would like to see what his next four years will bring. He knows the inside game now.

Who was it who said ask a government insider to do something and you get a string of excuses why it can't be done. Demurr to a business person who asks to get something done, and he/she will say fine, now go find me someone who can get it done. KAG 2020.

[Mar 24, 2020] Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika! by Mike Whitney

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

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Imagine if the congress approved a measure to form a public-private partnership between the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Can you imagine that?

Now imagine if a panicky and ill-informed Congress gave the Fed a blank check to bail out all of its crooked crony corporate and Wall Street friends, allowing the Fed to provide more than $4.5 trillion to underwater corporations that ripped off Mom and Pop investors by selling them bonds that were used to goose their stock prices so fatcat CEOs could make off like bandits. Imagine if all that red ink from private actors was piled onto the national debt pushing long-term interest rates into the stratosphere while crushing small businesses, households and ordinary working people.

Now try to imagine the impact this would have on the nation's future. Imagine if the Central Bank was given the green-light to devour the Treasury, control the country's "purse strings", and use nation's taxing authority to shore up its trillions in ultra-risky leveraged bets, its opaque financially-engineered ponzi-instruments, and its massive speculative debts that have gone pear-shaped leaving a gaping black hole on its balance sheet?

Well, you won't have to imagine this scenario for much longer, because the reality is nearly at hand. You see, the traitorous, dumbshit nincompoops in Congress are just a hairs-breadth away from abdicating congress's crucial power of the purse, which is not only their greatest strength, but also allows the congress to reign in abuses of executive power by controlling the flow of funding. The power of the purse is the supreme power of government which is why the founders entrusted it to the people's elected representatives in congress. Now these imbeciles are deciding whether to hand over that authority to a privately-owned banking cartel that has greatly expanded the chasm between rich and poor, incentivized destructive speculation on an industrial scale, and repeatedly inflated behemoth asset-price bubbles that have inevitably blown up sending stocks and the real economy into freefall. The idea of merging the Fed and the Treasury first appeared in its raw form in an article by former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen in the Financial Times. Here's a short excerpt from the piece:

"The Fed could ask Congress for the authority to buy limited amounts of investment-grade corporate debt The Fed's intervention could help restart that part of the corporate debt market, which is under significant stress. Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed while still providing needed liquidity to an essential market." ( Financial Times )

The Fed is not allowed to buy corporate debt, because it is not within its mandate of "price stability and full employment". It's also not allowed to arbitrarily intervene in the markets to pick winners and losers, nor is it allowed to bailout poorly-managed crybaby corporations who were gaming the system to their own advantage when the whole deal blew up in their faces. That's their problem, not the Fed's and not the American taxpayer's.

But notice how Bernanke emphasizes how "Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed". Why do you think he said that?

He said it because he anticipates an arrangement where the new Treasury-Fed combo could buy up to "$4.5 trillion of corporate debt" (according to Marketwatch and BofA). And the way this will work, is the Fed will select the bonds that will be purchased and the credit risk will be heaped onto the US Treasury. Apparently Bernanke and Yellen think this is a "fair" arrangement, but others might differ on that point.

Keep in mind, that in the last week alone, investors pulled a record $107 billion out of corporate bonds which is a market which has been in a deep-freeze for nearly a month. The only activity is the steady surge of redemptions by frantic investors who want to get their money back before the listing ship heads for Davey Jones locker. This is the market that Bernanke wants the American people to bail out mainly because he doesn't want to submerge the Fed's balance sheet in red ink. He wants to find a sucker who will take the loss instead. That's where Uncle Sam comes in, he's the target of this subterfuge. This same theme pops up in a piece in the Wall Street Journal. Check it out:

"At least Treasury has come around to realizing it needs a facility to provide liquidity for companies. But as we write this, Mr. Mnuchin was still insisting that Treasury have control of most of the money to be able to ladle out directly to companies it wants to help. This is a recipe for picking winners and losers, and thus for bitter political fights and months of ugly headlines charging favoritism. The far better answer is for Treasury to use money from Congress to replenish the Exchange Stabilization Fund to back the Fed in creating a facility or special-purpose vehicles under Section 13(3) to lend the money to all comers. "( "Leaderless on the Econom" , Wall Street Journal)

I can hardly believe the author is bold enough to say this right to our faces. Read it carefully: They are saying "We want your money, but not your advice. The Fed will choose who gets the cash and who doesn't. Just put your trillions on the counter and get the hell out."

Isn't that what they're saying? Of course it is. And the rest of the article is even more arrogant:

"The Fed can charge a non-concessionary rate, but the vehicles should be open to those who think they need the money, not merely to those Treasury decides are worthy." (Huh? So the Treasury should have no say so in who gets taxpayer money??) The looming liquidity crisis is simply too great for that kind of bureaucratic, politicized decision-making. (Wall Street Journal)

Get it? In other words, the folks at Treasury are just too stupid or too prejudiced to understand the subtleties of a bigass bailout like this. Is that arrogance or what?

This is the contempt these people have for you and me and everyone else who isn't a part of their elitist gaggle of reprobates. Here's a clip from another article at the WSJ that helps to show how the financial media is pushing this gigantic handout to corporate America:.

"The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and banking regulators deserve congratulations for their bold, necessary actions to provide liquidity to the U.S. financial system amid the coronavirus crisis. But more remains to be done. We thus recommend: (1) immediate congressional action . to authorize the Treasury to use the Exchange Stabilization Fund to guarantee prime money-market funds, (2) regulatory action to effect temporary reductions in bank capital and liquidity requirements (NOTE–So now the banks don't need to hold capital against their loans?) .. additional Fed lending to banks and nonbanks .(Note -by "nonbanks", does the author mean underwater hedge funds?)

We recommend that the Fed take further actions as lender of last resort. First, it should re-establish the Term Auction Facility, used in the 2008 crisis, allowing depository institutions to borrow against a broad range of collateral at an auction price (Note–They want to drop the requirement for good Triple A collateral.) Second, it should consider further exercising its Section 13(3) authority to provide additional liquidity to nonbanks, potentially including purchases of corporate debt through a special-purpose vehicle" ( "Do More to Avert a Liquidity Crisis" , Wall Street Journal )

This isn't a bailout, it's a joke, and there's no way Congress should approve these measures, particularly the merging of the US Treasury with the cutthroat Fed. That's a prescription for disaster! The Fed needs to be abolished not embraced as a state institution. It's madness!

And look how the author wants to set up an special-purpose vehicle (SPV) so the accounting chicanery can be kept off the books which means the public won't know how much money is being flushed down the toilet trying to resuscitate these insolvent corporations whose executives are still living high on the hog on the money they stole from credulous investors. This whole scam stinks to high heaven!

Meanwhile America's working people will get a whopping $1,000 bucks to tide them over until the debts pile up to the rafters and they're forced to rob the neighborhood 7-11 to feed the kids. How fair is that?

And don't kid yourself: This isn't a bailout, it's the elitist's political agenda aimed at creating a permanent underclass who'll work for peanuts just to eek out a living.

Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika!


anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:03 am GMT

In 2008-2009, the Federal Reserve bailed out the global banking system to the tune of $16 Trillion. But American citizens were left to pay usurious rates of interest on $1 Trillion of credit card debt. And American students had lost years of economic opportunity but their $1 Trillion dollars of debt could not be discharged through bankruptcy.

This time the banks should stand behind the debtors at the government troth.

anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:06 am GMT
It's hard to understand how holiday cruise shipping can be regarded as an essential business.

It is almost as hard to understand why a "Globalist Enterprise" should be spared its fate through the generosity of of one country. Even harder to understand, why would that one country should bail out a business, which had employed both tax-avoidance schemes as well as strategy import substitution and foreign investment to improve its profits at the expense of that country.

Nationalism is better that globalism. The current crisis was not caused by globalism; but globalism has drained from our country the means to respond to the crisis with the medicines and equipment that would reduce its severity.

Not a single cent of government aid should go toward a person or an entity outside the United States and it territories. Conditions should be placed upon such aid, so that the companies receiving it, must domesticate their supply chains, and must produce and develop their products within the United States.

Kim , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:38 am GMT
@anachronism Make the universities discharge the student debt. It was their scam all along. They can begin by retrenching their schools of the humanities and at least halving their administrative staff. And end building and sports programs. The fat hangs heavy on that particular pig.
anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 7:19 am GMT
@Kim I agree with you up to a point.

The student and the university should share responsibility equally. In the future, the institution should be made a co-signor on any student loan; and the obligation to repay the loan should be joint and several for both the institution and the student.

Bankruptcy provides the ex-student with the chance to start over and to escape the burden; but not without consequences. This will discourage the ex-student, who is doing well financially and has the means to service the debt, from just walking away.

[Mar 22, 2020] Opinion - A Tale of Two Foreign Policies The Train-Wreck Abroad Is Bipartisan by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... It is widely believed that the abrupt withdrawal of candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on the eve of Super Tuesday that targeted Sanders was arranged through an intervention by ex-President Barack Obama who made a plea in support of "party unity," offering the two a significant quid pro quo down the road if they were willing to leave the race and throw their support to Biden, which they dutifully did ..."
"... Trump might be described as both paranoid and narcissistic, meaning that he sees himself as surrounded by enemies and that the enemies are out to get him personally. When he is criticized, he either ridicules the source or does something impulsive to deflect what is being said. He attacked Syria twice based on false claims about the use of chemical weapons when a consensus developed in the media and in congress that he was being "weak" in the Middle East. Those attacks were war crimes as Syria was not threatening the United States. ..."
"... Biden is on a different track in that he is an establishment hawk. As head of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee back in 2002-2003 he green lighted George W. Bush's plan to attack Iraq. Beyond that, he cheer-leaded the effort from the Democratic Party benches, helping to create a consensus both in Washington and in the media that Saddam Hussein was a threat that had to be dealt with. He should have known better as he was privy to intelligence that was suggesting that the Iraqis were no threat at all. He did not moderate his tune on Iraq until after 2005, when the expected slam-dunk quick victory got very messy. ..."
"... Biden was also certainly privy to the decision making by President Barack Obama, which include the destruction of Libya and the killing of American citizens by drone. Whether he actively supported those policies is unknown, but he has never been challenged on them. What is clear is that he did not object to them, another sign of his willingness to go along with the establishment, a tendency which will undoubtedly continue if he is elected president. ..."
Mar 22, 2020 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

Now that the Democratic Party has apparently succeeded in getting rid of the only two voices among its presidential candidates that actually deviated from the establishment consensus, it appears that Joe Biden will be running against Donald Trump in November. To be sure, Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard are still hanging on, but the fix was in and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) made sure that Sanders would be given the death blow on Super Tuesday while Gabbard would be blocked from participating in any of the late term debates.

It is widely believed that the abrupt withdrawal of candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on the eve of Super Tuesday that targeted Sanders was arranged through an intervention by ex-President Barack Obama who made a plea in support of "party unity," offering the two a significant quid pro quo down the road if they were willing to leave the race and throw their support to Biden, which they dutifully did. Rumor has it that Klobuchar might well wind up as Biden's vice president. An alternative tale is that it was a much more threatening "offer that couldn't be refused" coming from the Clintons.

... ... ...

Both Trump and Biden might reasonably described as Zionists, Trump by virtue of the made-in-Israel foreign policy positions he has delivered on since his election, and Biden by word and deed during his entire time in politics. When Biden encountered Sarah Palin in 2008 in the vice-presidential debate, he and Palin sought to outdo each other in enthusing over how much they love the Jewish state. Biden has said that "I am a Zionist. You don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist" and also, ridiculously, "Were there not an Israel, the U.S. would have to invent one. We will never abandon Israel -- out of our own self-interest. [It] is the best $3 billion investment we make." Biden has been a regular feature speaker at the annual AIPAC summit in Washington.

Trump might be described as both paranoid and narcissistic, meaning that he sees himself as surrounded by enemies and that the enemies are out to get him personally. When he is criticized, he either ridicules the source or does something impulsive to deflect what is being said. He attacked Syria twice based on false claims about the use of chemical weapons when a consensus developed in the media and in congress that he was being "weak" in the Middle East. Those attacks were war crimes as Syria was not threatening the United States.

Trump similarly reversed himself on withdrawing from Syria when he ran into criticism of the move and his plan to extricate the United States from Afghanistan, if it develops at all, could easily be subjected to similar revision. Trump is not really the man who as a candidate indicated that he was seriously looking for a way out of America's endless and pointless wars, no matter what his supporters continue to assert.

Biden is on a different track in that he is an establishment hawk. As head of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee back in 2002-2003 he green lighted George W. Bush's plan to attack Iraq. Beyond that, he cheer-leaded the effort from the Democratic Party benches, helping to create a consensus both in Washington and in the media that Saddam Hussein was a threat that had to be dealt with. He should have known better as he was privy to intelligence that was suggesting that the Iraqis were no threat at all. He did not moderate his tune on Iraq until after 2005, when the expected slam-dunk quick victory got very messy.

Biden was also certainly privy to the decision making by President Barack Obama, which include the destruction of Libya and the killing of American citizens by drone. Whether he actively supported those policies is unknown, but he has never been challenged on them. What is clear is that he did not object to them, another sign of his willingness to go along with the establishment, a tendency which will undoubtedly continue if he is elected president.

And Biden's foreign policy reminiscences are is subject to what appear to be memory losses or inability to articulate, illustrated by a whole series of faux pas during the campaign. He has a number of times told a tale of his heroism in Afghanistan that is complete fiction , similar to Hillary Clinton's lying claims of courage under fire in Bosnia.

So, we have a president in place who takes foreign policy personally in that his first thoughts are "how does it make me look?" and a prospective challenger who appears to be suffering from initial stages of dementia and who has always been relied upon to support the establishment line, whatever it might be. Though Trump is the more dangerous of the two as he is both unpredictable and irrational, the likelihood is that Biden will be guided by the Clintons and Obamas. To put it another way, no matter who is president the likelihood that the United States will change direction to get away from its interventionism and bullying on a global scale is virtually nonexistent. At least until the money runs out. Or to express it as a friend of mine does, "No matter who is elected we Americans wind up getting John McCain." Goodnight America!

Philip Giraldi Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest. A former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Modern History from the University of London. " Source "

[Mar 21, 2020] When reading any article concerning current events (ie. Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, or Coronavirus) consider how the The Seven Principles of Propaganda may apply

Highly recommended!
Mar 22, 2020 | https://www.moonofalabama.org

Dick | Mar 22 2020 0:48 utc | 66

When reading any article concerning current events (ie. Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, or Coronavirus) consider how the The Seven Principles of Propaganda may apply. (repost):

  1. Avoid abstract ideas - appeal to the emotions. When we think emotionally, we are more prone to be irrational and less critical in our thinking. I can remember several instances where this has been employed by the US to prepare the public with a justification of their actions. Here are four examples:

    The Invasion of Grenada during the Reagan administration was said to be necessary to rescue American students being held hostage by Grenadian coup authorities after a coup that overthrew the government. I had a friend in the 82nd airborne division that participated in the rescue. He told me the students said they were hiding in the school to avoid the fighting by the US military, and had never been threatened by any Grenadian authority and were only hiding in the school to avoid all the fighting. Film of the actual rescue broadcast on the mainstream media was taken out of context; the students were never in danger.

    The invasion of Panama in the late 80's was supposedly to capture the dictator Manual Noriega for international crimes related to drugs and weapons. I remember a headline covered by all the media where a Navy lieutenant and his wife were detained by the police. His wife was sexually assaulted while in custody, according to the story. Unfortunately, it never happened. It was intended to get the public emotionally involved to support the action.

    The invasion of Iraq in the early 90's was preceded by a speech by a girl describing the Iraqi army throwing babies out of incubators so the equipment could be transferred to Iraq. It turns out the girl was the daughter of one of the Kuwait's ruling sheiks and the event never occurred. However, it served its purpose by getting the American public involved emotionally supporting the war.

    During the build up to the bombing campaign by NATO against Libya, a woman entered a hotel where reporters were staying claiming she was raped by several police officers of the Gaddafi security services. The report was carried by most media outlets as representative of the brutality of the Gaddafi regime. I was not able to verify if this story was true or not, but it fits the usual method employed to gain public support through propaganda for military interventions.

    The greatest emotion in us is fear and fear is used extensively to make us think irrationally. I remember growing up during the cold war having the fear of nuclear war or 'The Russians are coming!' After the cold war without an obvious enemy, it was Al Qaeda even before 911, so we had 'Al Qaeda is coming!' Now we have 'ISIS is coming!' with media blasting us with terrorist fears. Whenever I hear a government promoting an emotional issue or fear mongering, I ignore them knowing there is a hidden Truth behind the issue.

  2. Constantly repeat just a few ideas. Use stereotyped phrases. This could be stated more plainly as 'Keep it simple, stupid!' The most notorious use of this technique recently was the Bush administration. Everyone can remember 'We must fight them over there rather than over here' or my favourite 'They hate us for our freedoms'. Neither of these phrases made any rational sense despite 911. The last thing Muslims in the Middle East care about is American's freedoms, maybe it was all the bombs the US was dropping on them.
  3. Give only one side of the argument and obscure history. Watching mainstream media in the US, you can see all the news is biased to the American view as an example. This is prevalent within Australian commercial media and newspapers giving only a western view, but fortunately, we have the SBS and the ABC that are very good, certainly not perfect, at providing both sides of a story. In addition, any historical perspective is ignored keeping the citizenry focused on the here and now. Can any of you remember any news organisation giving an in depth history of Ukraine or Palestine? I cannot.
  4. Demonize the enemy or pick out one special "enemy" for special vilification. This is obvious in politics where politicians continuously criticise their opponents. Of course, demonization is more productively applied to international figures or nations such as Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Gaddafi in Libya, Assad in Syria, the Taliban and just recently Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine, Crimea and Syria. It establishes a negative emotional view of either a nation (i.e. Iran) or a known figure (i.e. Putin) making us again think emotionally, rather than rationally, making it easier to promote evil acts upon a nation or a known figure. Certainly some of these groups or individuals were less than benign, but not necessarily demons as depicted in the west.
  5. Appear humanitarian in work and motivations. The US has used this technique often to validate foreign interventions or ongoing conflicts where the term 'Right to Protect' is used for justification. Everyone should remember the many stories about the abuse of women in Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein's supposed brutality toward his people. The recent attack on Syria by the US, UK, and France was depicted as an Humanitarian intervention by the UK Government, which was far from the truth. One thing that always amazes me is when the US sends humanitarian aid to a country it is accompanied by the US military. In Haiti some years back, the US sent troops with no other country doing so. The recent Ebola outbreak in Africa saw US troops sent to the area. How are troops going to fight a medical outbreak? No doubt, they are there for other reasons.

  6. Obscure one's economic interests. Who believes the invasion of Iraq was for weapons of mass destruction? Or the constant threats against Iran are for their nuclear program? Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no one has presented firm evidence Iran intends to produce nuclear weapons. The West has been interfering in the Middle East since the British in the late 19th century. It is all about oil and the control over the resources. In fact, if one researches the cause of wars over the last hundred years, you will always find economics was a major component driving the rush to war for most of them.

  7. Monopolize the flow of information. This is the most important principle and mainly entails setting the narrative by which all subsequent events can be based upon or interpreted in such a way as to reinforce the narrative. The narrative does not need to be true; in fact, it can be anything that suits the monopoliser as long as it is based loosely on some event. It is critical to have at least majority control of media and the ability to control the message so the flow of information is consistent with the narrative. This has been played out on mainstream media concerning the Ukrainian conflict, Syrian conflict, and the Skirpal affair. Just over the last couple of years, we have all been subjected to propaganda in one form or another. Remember the US wanting to bomb Syria because of the sarin gas attack, it was later determined to be false (see Seymour Hersh 'Whose Sarin'). The shoot down of MH17 was immediately blamed on Russia by the west without any convincing proof (setting the narrative). It amazes me just how fast the story died after the initial saturation in the media. When I awoke that morning in July, I heard on the news PM Tony Abbot blaming Russia for the incident only hours afterward. How could he know Russia shot down the plane? The investigation into the incident had not even begun, so I suspect he was singing from the West's hymnbook in a standard setting the narrative scenario.

[Mar 21, 2020] The New Dark Age

Notable quotes:
"... Voltaire Network ..."
"... the Iranian population is the world's most lung-weakest. Almost all men over the age of sixty suffer from the after-effects of the US combat gases used by the Iraqi army during the First Gulf War (1980-88), as did the Germans and the French after the First World War. Any traveller to Iran has been struck by the number of serious lung ailments. ..."
"... The Diamond Princess is an Israeli-American ship, owned by Micky Arison, brother of Shari Arison, the richest woman in Israel. The Arisons are turning this incident into a public relations operation. The Trump administration and several other countries airlifted their nationals to be quarantined at home. The international press devoted its headlines to this story. Referring to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919, it asserts that the epidemic could spread throughout the world and potentially threaten the human species with extinction [ 2 ]. This apocalyptic hypothesis, not based on any facts, will nevertheless become the word of the Gospel. ..."
"... It is not known at this time whether tycoons deliberately spread panic about Covid-19, making this vulgar epidemic seem like the "end of the world". However, one distortion after another, governments have become involved. Of course, it is no longer a question of selling advertising screens by frightening people, but of dominating populations by exploiting this fear. ..."
"... Let us remember that never in history has the confinement of a healthy population been used to fight a disease. Above all, let us remember that this epidemic will have no significant consequences in terms of mortality. ..."
"... The two governments panic their populations by distributing unnecessary instructions disavowed by infectious diseases doctors: they encourage people to wear gloves and masks in all circumstances and to keep at least one metre away from any other human being. ..."
"... It is too early to say what real goal the Conte and Macron governments are pursuing. The only thing that is certain is that it is not a question of fighting Covid-19. ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | williambowles.info

Covid-19: propaganda and manipulation by Thierry Meyssan March 21, 2020 21 March 2020 -- Voltaire Network

Returning to the Covid-19 epidemic and the way governments are reacting to it, Thierry Meyssan stresses that the authoritarian decisions of Italy and France have no medical justification. They contradict the observations of the best infectiologists and the instructions of the World Health Organization.

The Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, came to lead the operations in Wuhan and restore the "celestial mandate" on January 27, 2020.

On November 17, 2019, the first case of a person infected with Covid-19 was diagnosed in Hubei Province, China. Initially, doctors tried to communicate the seriousness of the disease, but clashed with regional authorities. It was only when the number of cases increased and the population saw the seriousness of the disease that the central government intervened.

This epidemic is not statistically significant. It kills very few people, although those it does kill experience terrible respiratory distress.

Since ancient times, in Chinese culture, Heaven has given a mandate to the Emperor to govern his subjects [ 1 ]. When he withdraws it, a disaster strikes the country: epidemic, earthquake, etc. Although we are in modern times, President XI felt threatened by the mismanagement of the Hubei regional government. The Council of State therefore took matters into its own hands. It forced the population of Hubei's capital, Wuhan, to remain confined to their homes. Within days, it built hospitals; sent teams to each house to take the temperature of each inhabitant; took all potentially infected people to hospitals for testing; treated those infected with chloroquine phosphate and sent others home; and treated the critically ill with recombinant interferon Alfa 2B (IFNrec) for resuscitation. This vast operation had no public health necessity, other than to prove that the Communist Party still has the heavenly mandate.

During a press conference on Covid-19, the Iranian Deputy Minister of Health, Iraj Harirchi, appeared contaminated.

Propagation in Iran

The epidemic spreads from China to Iran in mid-February 2020. These two countries have been closely linked since ancient times. They share many common cultural elements. However, the Iranian population is the world's most lung-weakest. Almost all men over the age of sixty suffer from the after-effects of the US combat gases used by the Iraqi army during the First Gulf War (1980-88), as did the Germans and the French after the First World War. Any traveller to Iran has been struck by the number of serious lung ailments.

When air pollution in Tehran increased beyond what they could bear, schools and government offices were closed and half of the families moved to the countryside with their grandparents. This has been happening several times a year for thirty-five years and seems normal.

The government and parliament are almost exclusively composed of veterans of the Iraq-Iran war, that is, people who are extremely fragile in relation to Covid-19. So when these groups were infected, many personalities developed the disease.

In view of the US sanctions, no Western bank covers the transport of medicines. Iran found itself unable to treat the infected and care for the sick until the UAE broke the embargo and sent two planes of medical equipment.

People who would not suffer in the other country died from the first coughs due to the wounds in their lungs. As usual, the government closed schools. In addition, it deprogrammed several cultural and sporting events, but did not ban pilgrimages. Some areas have closed hotels to prevent the movement of sick people who can no longer find hospitals close to their homes.

Quarantine in Japan

On February 4, 2020, a passenger on the US cruise ship Diamond Princess was diagnosed ill from the Covid-19 and ten passengers were infected. The Japanese Minister of Health, Katsunobu Kato, then imposed a two-week quarantine on the ship in Yokohama in order to prevent the contagion from spreading to his country. In the end, out of the 3,711 people on board, the vast majority of whom are over 70 years old, there would be 7 deaths.

The Diamond Princess is an Israeli-American ship, owned by Micky Arison, brother of Shari Arison, the richest woman in Israel. The Arisons are turning this incident into a public relations operation. The Trump administration and several other countries airlifted their nationals to be quarantined at home. The international press devoted its headlines to this story. Referring to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919, it asserts that the epidemic could spread throughout the world and potentially threaten the human species with extinction [ 2 ]. This apocalyptic hypothesis, not based on any facts, will nevertheless become the word of the Gospel.

We remember that in 1898, William Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, in order to increase the sales of their daily newspapers, published false information in order to deliberately provoke a war between the United States and the Spanish colony of Cuba. This was the beginning of "yellow journalism" (publishing anything to make money). Today it is called "fake news".

It is not known at this time whether tycoons deliberately spread panic about Covid-19, making this vulgar epidemic seem like the "end of the world". However, one distortion after another, governments have become involved. Of course, it is no longer a question of selling advertising screens by frightening people, but of dominating populations by exploiting this fear.

For the WHO Director, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, China and South Korea have set an example by generalising screening tests; a way of saying that the Italian and French methods are medical nonsense.

WHO intervention

The World Health Organization (WHO), which monitored the entire operation, noted the spread of the disease outside China. On February 11th and 12th, it organized a global forum on research and innovation on the epidemic in Geneva. At the forum, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called in very measured terms for global collaboration [ 3 ].

In all of its messages, the WHO stressed : the low demographic impact of the epidemic; the futility of border closures; the ineffectiveness of wearing gloves, masks (except for health care workers) and certain "barrier measures" (for example, the distance of one metre only makes sense with infected people, but not with healthy people); the need to raise the level of hygiene, including hand washing, water disinfection and increased ventilation of confined spaces. Finally, use disposable tissues or, failing that, sneeze into your elbow.

However, the WHO is not a medical organization, but a United Nations agency dealing with health issues. Its officials, even if they are doctors, are also and above all politicians. It cannot therefore denounce the abuses of certain states. Furthermore, since the controversy over the H1N1 epidemic, the WHO must publicly justify all its recommendations. In 2009, it was accused of having let itself be swayed by the interests of big pharmaceutical companies and of having hastily sounded the alarm in a disproportionate manner [ 4 ]. This time it used the word "pandemic" only as a last resort, on March 12th, four months later.

At the Franco-Italian summit in Naples on February 27, the French and Italian presidents, Giuseppe Conte and Emmanuel Macron, announced that they would react together to the pandemic.

Instrumentation in Italy and France

Modern propaganda should not be limited to the publication of false news as the United Kingdom did to convince its people to enter the First World War, but should also be used in the same way as Germany did to convince its people to fight in the Second World War. The recipe is always the same: to exert psychological pressure to induce subjects to voluntarily practice acts that they know are useless, but which will lead them to lie [ 5 ]. For example, in 2001, it was common knowledge that those accused of hijacking planes on 9/11 were not on the passenger boarding lists. Yet, in shock, most accepted without question the inane accusations made by FBI Director Robert Muller against "19 hijackers". Or, as is well known, President Hussein's Iraq had only old Soviet Scud launchers with a range of up to 700 kilometers, but many Americans caulked the windows and doors of their homes to protect themselves from the deadly gases with which the evil dictator was going to attack America. This time, in the case of the Covid-19, it is the voluntary confinement in the home that forces the person who accepts it to convince himself of the veracity of the threat.

Let us remember that never in history has the confinement of a healthy population been used to fight a disease. Above all, let us remember that this epidemic will have no significant consequences in terms of mortality.

In Italy, the first step was to isolate the contaminated regions according to the principle of quarantine, and then to isolate all citizens from each other, which follows a different logic.

According to the President of the Italian Council, Giuseppe Conte, and the French President, Emmanuel Macron, the aim of confining the entire population at home is not to overcome the epidemic, but to spread it out over time so that the sick do not arrive at the same time in hospitals and saturate them. In other words, it is not a medical measure, but an exclusively administrative one. It will not reduce the number of infected people, but will postpone it in time.

In order to convince the Italians and the French of the merits of their decision, Presidents Conte and Macron first enlisted the support of committees of scientific experts. While these committees had no objection to people staying at home, they had no objection to people going about their business. Then Chairs Conte and Macron made it mandatory to have an official form to go for a walk. This document on the letterheads of the respective ministries of the interior is drawn up on honour and is not subject to any checks or sanctions.

The two governments panic their populations by distributing unnecessary instructions disavowed by infectious diseases doctors: they encourage people to wear gloves and masks in all circumstances and to keep at least one metre away from any other human being.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/8L6ehRif-v8?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

The French "reference daily" (sic) Le Monde, Facebook France and the French Ministry of Health undertook to censor a video of Professor Didier Raoult, one of the world's most renowned infectiologists, because by announcing the existence of a proven drug in China against Covid-19, he highlighted the lack of a medical basis for the measures taken by President Macron [ 6 ].

https://www.youtube.com/embed/n4J8kydOvbc?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

It is too early to say what real goal the Conte and Macron governments are pursuing. The only thing that is certain is that it is not a question of fighting Covid-19.

Thierry Meyssan

Translation

Pete Kimberley

[ 1 ] The Mandate of Heaven and The Great Ming Code, Jiang Yonglin, University of Washington Press (2011).

[ 2 ] Human Extinction and the Pandemic Imaginary, Christos Lynteris, Routledge (2020).

[ 3 ] " Nouveau coronavirus : solidarité, collaboration et mesures d'urgence au niveau mondial s'imposent ", Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Organisation mondiale de la Santé, 11 février 2020.

[ 4 ] Pandemics, Science and Policy. H1N1 and the World Health Organization, Sudeepa Abeysinghe, Plagrave Macmillan (2015).

[ 5 ] " The techniques of modern military propaganda ", by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 18 May 2016.

[ 6 ] " "La chloroquine guérit le Covid-19" : Didier Raoult, l'infectiologue qui aurait le remède au coronavirus ", Étienne Campion, Marianne, 19 mars 2020.

[Mar 20, 2020] Pompeo myth that USA and the West were unprepared because China withheld information about the virus.

Mar 20, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

occupatio , Mar 19 2020 20:16 utc | 161

@b Another myth to add to your collection ...

... that USA and the West were unprepared because China withheld information about the virus.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 19 2020 18:20 utc | 106

The "Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19" states that China transparently reported the identification of virus to the WHO and the international community on January 3rd, and a WHO investigative team was invited to Wuhan a week after that.

From January 3rd, 2020, information on COVID-19 cases has been reported to WHO daily.

On January 7th, full genome sequences of the new virus were shared with WHO and the international community immediately after the pathogen was identified.

On January 10th, an expert group involving Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwanese technical experts and a World Health Organization team was invited to visit Wuhan.

From page 31 of:
https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf

[Mar 20, 2020] That "beyond dispute" phrase is what retards like Mike Pompeo use to try to shut down a discussion in which he's getting his fat ass kicked.

Mar 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

Twodees Partain , says: Show Comment March 20, 2020 at 3:02 am GMT

@SBaker "It's beyond dispute that the novel coronavirus officially known as COVID-19originated in Wuhan, China."

No, it's being disputed every day. That "beyond dispute" phrase is what retards like Mike Pompeo use to try to shut down a discussion in which he's getting his fat ass kicked.

[Mar 19, 2020] US imposes sanctions against #Iran after offering to help with #Coronavirus outbreak

Mar 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Mar 18 2020 18:28 utc | 53

This might soon become the global rallying cry :

"USA is the greatest enemy of humanity - I hope they will pay for that:

"US imposes sanctions against #Iran after offering to help with #Coronavirus outbreak"

The situation has now gone well beyond immorality and into the realm of EVIL--an EVIL that's Bipartisan, shared by Ds and Rs alike.


bevin , Mar 18 2020 18:33 utc | 54

Miss Lacy and Arby both draw our attention to the obscenity of the US using this crisis in order to put pressure on governments that it dislikes by cutting off medicine and other resources.

Among the places where people are currently dying in large numbers because Washington chooses that they should are Cuba-under an oil embargo-, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Iran.

Those who cannot bring themselves to believe that government could be so evil as to deploy a virus as a weapon to weaken another state, only have to look at what is happening today: Venezuela desperately needs funds, much of its foreign exchange having been seized illegally by the US and its satellites, in order to weather the pandemic.

Anyone supporting such a policy, condoning the killing of vulnerable people to embarrass another state, is an accessory to murder.

farm ecologist , Mar 18 2020 19:40 utc | 67
Re., IMF refuses emergency funds to Venezuela

Posted by: arby | Mar 18 2020 14:32 utc | 11
Posted by: Miss Lacy | Mar 18 2020 18:15 utc | 50
Posted by: bevin | Mar 18 2020 18:33 utc | 55

Anyone supporting such a policy, condoning the killing of vulnerable people to embarrass another state, is an accessory to murder.

Although many argue that the foreign policies of the US government don't really reflect the views and desires of ordinary citizens, the comments in the Fox News report on this story suggest otherwise (caveat - be prepared to be appalled).

https://www.foxnews.com/world/venezuela-asks-imf-for-massive-emergency-loan-to-fight-coronavirus


[Mar 13, 2020] US send 20,000 soldiers to Europe for killing practice (Defender Europe) while locking down US. Are they immune? How

Highly recommended!
Mar 13, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

charliechan , Mar 13 2020 20:36 utc | 115

charlie chan wonders why entire media world fear mongering.

The CDC test kits error 49% to positive.

And charlie chan not hear of one case of flu death. Did Corona Virus cure the flu?

US send 20,000 soldiers to Europe for killing practice (Defender Europe) while locking down US. Are they immune? How?

[Mar 13, 2020] Daffy Duck. cartoon was made in 1953 and like many Looney Tune cartoon's, they are an extreme parody of life. It dawned on me that this cartoon is an almost perfect description of US Military policy and action.

Highly recommended!
Mar 13, 2020 | thesaker.is

Vaughan on March 12, 2020 , · at 7:43 pm EST/EDT

Recently, I was watching the old Looney Tunes Cartoons with my Grandchild and we were watching, "Duck Dodges in the 21st and a Half Century"
I don't know if you've watched this cartoon starring Daffy Duck. You can view it here
https://vimeo.com/76668594

This cartoon was made in 1953 and like many Looney Tune cartoon's, they are an extreme parody of life. But while watching this cartoon, it dawned on me that this cartoon is an almost perfect description of US Military policy and action.
I could write an article on this but I think we'll leave it as a note with a snide laugh to be had by all.

Patricia Ormsby on March 12, 2020 , · at 8:16 pm EST/EDT
Laughter is one of the best medicines. Thank you for this!

[Mar 12, 2020] The Democratic Party Surrenders to Nostalgia by Bill Blum

Highly recommended!
Trump does not have a party with the program that at least pretends to pursue "socialism for a given ethnic group". He is more far right nationalist then national socialist. But to the extent neoliberalism can be viewed as neofascism Trump is neo-fascist, he definitly can be called a "national neoliberal."
Notable quotes:
"... I am nothing if not a realist. The idea that Sanders might have become the Democratic candidate was always a fantasy, not unlike my youthful dreams of one day becoming an NFL quarterback. Even after Sanders' triumph in the Nevada caucuses, I never thought the party establishment would ever allow a socialist -- even a mild social democratic one, such as Sanders -- to head its ticket. ..."
"... Of the two campaigns, Trump's will be decidedly more toxic. The "Make America Great Again" slogan that propelled Trump to victory in 2016 and the "Keep America Great" slogan he will try to sell this time around are neo-fascist in nature, designed to invoke an imaginary and false state of mythical past national glory ..."
"... The fascist designation is not a label I apply to Trump cavalierly. I use it, as I have before in this column , because Trump meets many of the standard and widely respected definitions of the term. ..."
"... Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. ..."
"... An appeal to a frustrated middle class that is suffering from an economic crisis of humiliation and fear of the pressure exerted by lower social groups. ..."
"... Joe Biden is not a fascist. He is, instead, a standard-bearer of neoliberalism. As with fascism, there are different definitions of neoliberalism, prompting some exceptionally smug mainstream commentators like New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait to claim that the concept is little more than a left-wing insult. In truth, however, the concept describes an all-too-real set of governing principles. ..."
"... Neoliberalism , by contrast, deemphasizes federal economic intervention in favor of initiatives calling for deregulation, corporate tax cuts, private-public partnerships, and international trade agreements that augment the free flow of capital while undermining the power and influence of trade unions. ..."
"... Until the arrival of Trump and his brand of neo-fascism, both major parties since Reagan had embraced this ideology. And while neoliberals remain more benign on issues of race and gender than Trump and Trumpism ever will be, neoliberalism offers little to challenge hierarchies based on social class. Indeed, income inequality accelerated during the Obama years and today rivals that of the Gilded Age . ..."
Mar 11, 2020 | www.truthdig.com
Now that the Michigan Democratic primary is over and Joe Biden has been declared the winner , it's time to read the handwriting on the political wall: Biden will be the Democratic nominee for president, and Bernie Sanders will be the runner-up once again come the party's convention in July. Sanders might influence the party's platform, but platforms are never binding for the nominee. Sanders has lost, and so have his many progressive supporters, myself included.

I am nothing if not a realist. The idea that Sanders might have become the Democratic candidate was always a fantasy, not unlike my youthful dreams of one day becoming an NFL quarterback. Even after Sanders' triumph in the Nevada caucuses, I never thought the party establishment would ever allow a socialist -- even a mild social democratic one, such as Sanders -- to head its ticket.

Funded by wealthy donors, run by Beltway insiders and aided and abetted by a corporate media dedicated to promoting the notion that Sanders was " unelectable ," the Democratic Party never welcomed Sanders as a legitimate contender. Not in 2016 and not in 2020. In several instances, it even resorted to some good old-fashioned red-baiting to frighten voters; the party is, after all, a capitalist institution. Working and middle-class families support the Democrats largely because they have no other place to go on Election Day besides the completely corrupt and craven GOP.

Now we are left with Donald Trump and Biden to duke it out in the fall. Yes, it has come to that.

In terms of campaign rhetoric and party policies, the general election campaign will be a battle for America's past far more than it will be a contest for its future. The battle will be fueled on both sides by narratives and visions that are illusory, regressive and, in important respects, downright dangerous.

Of the two campaigns, Trump's will be decidedly more toxic. The "Make America Great Again" slogan that propelled Trump to victory in 2016 and the "Keep America Great" slogan he will try to sell this time around are neo-fascist in nature, designed to invoke an imaginary and false state of mythical past national glory that ignores our deeply entrenched history of patriarchal white supremacy and brutal class domination.

The fascist designation is not a label I apply to Trump cavalierly. I use it, as I have before in this column , because Trump meets many of the standard and widely respected definitions of the term.

As the celebrated Marxist playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote in 1935 , fascism "is a historic phase of capitalism the nakedest, most shameless, most oppressive and most treacherous form of capitalism." Trumpism, along with its international analogs in Brazil, India and Western Europe, neatly accords with Brecht's theory.

Trumpism similarly meets the definition of fascism offered by Robert Paxton in his classic 2004 study, " The Anatomy of Fascism ":

Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

Trump and Trumpism similarly embody the 14 common factors of fascism identified by the great writer Umberto Eco in his 1995 essay, Ur Fascism :

Joe Biden is not a fascist. He is, instead, a standard-bearer of neoliberalism. As with fascism, there are different definitions of neoliberalism, prompting some exceptionally smug mainstream commentators like New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait to claim that the concept is little more than a left-wing insult. In truth, however, the concept describes an all-too-real set of governing principles.

To grasp what neoliberalism means, it's necessary to understand that it does not refer to a revival of the liberalism of the New Deal and New Society programs of the 1930s and 1960s. That brand of liberalism advocated the active intervention of the federal government in the economy to mitigate the harshest effects of private enterprise through such programs as Social Security, the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Medicare, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That brand of liberalism imposed high taxes on the wealthy and significantly mitigated income inequality in America.

Neoliberalism , by contrast, deemphasizes federal economic intervention in favor of initiatives calling for deregulation, corporate tax cuts, private-public partnerships, and international trade agreements that augment the free flow of capital while undermining the power and influence of trade unions.

Until the arrival of Trump and his brand of neo-fascism, both major parties since Reagan had embraced this ideology. And while neoliberals remain more benign on issues of race and gender than Trump and Trumpism ever will be, neoliberalism offers little to challenge hierarchies based on social class. Indeed, income inequality accelerated during the Obama years and today rivals that of the Gilded Age .

As transformational a politician as Barack Obama was in terms of race, he too pursued a predominantly neoliberal agenda. The Affordable Care Act, Obama's singular domestic legislative achievement, is a perfect example of neoliberal private-public collaboration that left intact a health industry dominated by for-profit drug manufacturers and rapacious insurance companies, rather than setting the stage for Medicare for All, as championed by Sanders.

Biden never tires of reminding any audience willing to put up with his gaffes, verbal ticks and miscues that he served as Obama's vice president. Those ties are likely to remain the centerpiece of his campaign, as he promises a return to the civility of the Obama era and a restoration of America's standing in the world.

History, however, only moves forward. As charming and comforting as Biden's imagery of the past may be, it is, like Trump's darker outlook, a mirage. If Trump has taught us anything worthwhile, it is that the past cannot be replicated, no matter how much we might wish otherwise.

[Mar 12, 2020] The Democratic Party Surrenders to Nostalgia by Bill Blum

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. ..."
Mar 12, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

Mar 11, 2020

Now that the Michigan Democratic primary is over and Joe Biden has been declared the winner , it's time to read the handwriting on the political wall: Biden will be the Democratic nominee for president, and Bernie Sanders will be the runner-up once again come the party's convention in July. Sanders might influence the party's platform, but platforms are never binding for the nominee. Sanders has lost, and so have his many progressive supporters, myself included.

I am nothing if not a realist. The idea that Sanders might have become the Democratic candidate was always a fantasy, not unlike my youthful dreams of one day becoming an NFL quarterback. Even after Sanders' triumph in the Nevada caucuses, I never thought the party establishment would ever allow a socialist -- even a mild social democratic one, such as Sanders -- to head its ticket.

Funded by wealthy donors, run by Beltway insiders and aided and abetted by a corporate media dedicated to promoting the notion that Sanders was " unelectable ," the Democratic Party never welcomed Sanders as a legitimate contender. Not in 2016 and not in 2020. In several instances, it even resorted to some good old-fashioned red-baiting to frighten voters; the party is, after all, a capitalist institution. Working and middle-class families support the Democrats largely because they have no other place to go on Election Day besides the completely corrupt and craven GOP.

Now we are left with Donald Trump and Biden to duke it out in the fall. Yes, it has come to that.

In terms of campaign rhetoric and party policies, the general election campaign will be a battle for America's past far more than it will be a contest for its future. The battle will be fueled on both sides by narratives and visions that are illusory, regressive and, in important respects, downright dangerous.

Of the two campaigns, Trump's will be decidedly more toxic. The "Make America Great Again" slogan that propelled Trump to victory in 2016 and the "Keep America Great" slogan he will try to sell this time around are neo-fascist in nature, designed to invoke an imaginary and false state of mythical past national glory that ignores our deeply entrenched history of patriarchal white supremacy and brutal class domination.

The fascist designation is not a label I apply to Trump cavalierly. I use it, as I have before in this column , because Trump meets many of the standard and widely respected definitions of the term.

As the celebrated Marxist playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote in 1935 , fascism "is a historic phase of capitalism the nakedest, most shameless, most oppressive and most treacherous form of capitalism." Trumpism, along with its international analogs in Brazil, India and Western Europe, neatly accords with Brecht's theory.

Trumpism similarly meets the definition of fascism offered by Robert Paxton in his classic 2004 study, " The Anatomy of Fascism ":

Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

Trump and Trumpism similarly embody the 14 common factors of fascism identified by the great writer Umberto Eco in his 1995 essay, Ur Fascism :

Joe Biden is not a fascist. He is, instead, a standard-bearer of neoliberalism. As with fascism, there are different definitions of neoliberalism, prompting some exceptionally smug mainstream commentators like New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait to claim that the concept is little more than a left-wing insult. In truth, however, the concept describes an all-too-real set of governing principles.

To grasp what neoliberalism means, it's necessary to understand that it does not refer to a revival of the liberalism of the New Deal and New Society programs of the 1930s and 1960s. That brand of liberalism advocated the active intervention of the federal government in the economy to mitigate the harshest effects of private enterprise through such programs as Social Security, the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Medicare, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That brand of liberalism imposed high taxes on the wealthy and significantly mitigated income inequality in America.

Neoliberalism , by contrast, deemphasizes federal economic intervention in favor of initiatives calling for deregulation, corporate tax cuts, private-public partnerships, and international trade agreements that augment the free flow of capital while undermining the power and influence of trade unions.

Until the arrival of Trump and his brand of neo-fascism, both major parties since Reagan had embraced this ideology. And while neoliberals remain more benign on issues of race and gender than Trump and Trumpism ever will be, neoliberalism offers little to challenge hierarchies based on social class. Indeed, income inequality accelerated during the Obama years and today rivals that of the Gilded Age .

As transformational a politician as Barack Obama was in terms of race, he too pursued a predominantly neoliberal agenda. The Affordable Care Act, Obama's singular domestic legislative achievement, is a perfect example of neoliberal private-public collaboration that left intact a health industry dominated by for-profit drug manufacturers and rapacious insurance companies, rather than setting the stage for Medicare for All, as championed by Sanders.

Biden never tires of reminding any audience willing to put up with his gaffes, verbal ticks and miscues that he served as Obama's vice president. Those ties are likely to remain the centerpiece of his campaign, as he promises a return to the civility of the Obama era and a restoration of America's standing in the world.

History, however, only moves forward. As charming and comforting as Biden's imagery of the past may be, it is, like Trump's darker outlook, a mirage. If Trump has taught us anything worthwhile, it is that the past cannot be replicated, no matter how much we might wish otherwise.

[Mar 12, 2020] US now openly admits its goal in Syria is to make it 'difficult' for Moscow and Damascus to defeat terrorists

Notable quotes:
"... The State Department's special envoy for Syria has just admitted that the US aims to defend jihadist militants in Idlib against 'Russian aggression,' proving once again that the swamp in Foggy Bottom is alive and well ..."
"... "are out to get a military victory in all of Syria," ..."
"... Our goal is to make it very difficult for them to do that by a variety of diplomatic, military, and other actions. ..."
"... "in a very savage military way" ..."
"... "a favorite tactic of the Syrian regime in making advances." ..."
"... "a complication" ..."
"... "three million-plus innocent civilians, the majority of whom are women and children," ..."
"... "Russian aggression" ..."
"... I think you can forget ground troops. Turkey has demonstrated ably that it and its opposition forces are more than capable of holding ground on their own. ..."
"... "Idlib province seems to be a magnet for terrorist groups, especially because it is an ungoverned space in many ways," ..."
"... "There are [a] variety of groups there -- all of them are a nuisance, a menace and a threat to hundreds of thousands of civilians who are just trying to make it through the winter." ..."
"... "endless wars" ..."
Mar 12, 2020 | www.rt.com

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/482787-syria-us-troops-terrorists/

The State Department's special envoy for Syria has just admitted that the US aims to defend jihadist militants in Idlib against 'Russian aggression,' proving once again that the swamp in Foggy Bottom is alive and well . Russia and the Syrian government "are out to get a military victory in all of Syria," Ambassador James Jeffrey told reporters on a conference call out of Brussels on Tuesday.

Our goal is to make it very difficult for them to do that by a variety of diplomatic, military, and other actions.

To illustrate these methods, Jeffrey cited the US threat to respond "in a very savage military way" against any chemical attacks, which he described as "a favorite tactic of the Syrian regime in making advances." This is factually untrue, since the alleged attacks always happen after Syrian Army victories, as a pretext for US intervention.

Jeffrey also noted that there are US and coalition troops in parts of Syria – officially there to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), but in actuality "guarding" the oil fields. He tellingly described their presence as "a complication" for the Syrian government.

Also on rt.com US exploring NATO aid for Turkey in Idlib, says sanctions could be applied if Russia or Syria violate ceasefire – reports

Jeffrey and US ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield were in Brussels after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit, to discuss ways the US and NATO can help Ankara protect its pet militants in their last remaining redoubt – Syria's Idlib province.

But while Satterfield described Idlib as containing "three million-plus innocent civilians, the majority of whom are women and children," and accused "Russian aggression" of seeking to displace them, listen to how Jeffrey chose to describe the situation, when asked by a CNN reporter if NATO was considering sending in ground troops:

I think you can forget ground troops. Turkey has demonstrated ably that it and its opposition forces are more than capable of holding ground on their own.

This is either appallingly ignorant or downright delusional, as the Syrian army had successfully rolled up the Turkish-backed militants and the ceasefire Ankara agreed to in Moscow last week confirmed that.

Résumé par dates clés de l'opération de l'armée syrienne dans la région d' #Idlib jusqu'à l'accord de cessez-le-feu négocié par la #Russie et la #Turquie (phase 1 : 6 mai - 31 août 2019 ; phase 2 : 19 déc 2019 - 6 mars 2020) pic.twitter.com/FcNWUThWBa

-- Syria Intelligence (@syriaintel) March 8, 2020

The real revelation here is that the militants are described as Turkey's "opposition." Contrast this with the words of Colonel Myles Caggins, spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition's military arm, just three weeks ago:

"Idlib province seems to be a magnet for terrorist groups, especially because it is an ungoverned space in many ways," Caggins told Sky News. "There are [a] variety of groups there -- all of them are a nuisance, a menace and a threat to hundreds of thousands of civilians who are just trying to make it through the winter."

Read more Idlib is a 'magnet for terrorist groups', says US military spokesman -- contradicting MSM narrative on Syria

Bear in mind that Jeffrey doubles as Washington's special envoy to the coalition against IS, that infamous Schroedinger entity that either doesn't exist any more – when US President Donald Trump seeks to claim victory against the self-proclaimed caliphate – or is about to make a resurgence big time and requires US military presence in perpetuity to prevent that, as the State Department and the Pentagon prefer to see it.

Needless to say, this entrenched insistence on legacy policies doesn't do much for Trump's promise to pull out US troops from "endless wars" in the Middle East.

Neither Jeffrey nor Satterfield, nor any of the reporters asking them questions, mentioned even once the existence of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham – the latest incarnation of the notorious Al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate whose fighters dominate the ranks of the militants in Idlib. Listening to them, one might think it doesn't exist!

Jeffrey and Satterfield openly admit that an outright Syrian victory over these terrorists would deny the "international community" – as they style the US and its allies – the leverage to insist on regime change in Damascus. Which is incredibly rich in irony given that the sole legal pretext on which the US has any troops in Syria, in open violation of international law, is a congressional authorization to use force against... Al-Qaeda.

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

[Mar 11, 2020] US now openly admits its goal in Syria is to make it 'difficult' for Moscow and Damascus to defeat terrorists

Notable quotes:
"... The State Department's special envoy for Syria has just admitted that the US aims to defend jihadist militants in Idlib against 'Russian aggression,' proving once again that the swamp in Foggy Bottom is alive and well ..."
"... "are out to get a military victory in all of Syria," ..."
"... Our goal is to make it very difficult for them to do that by a variety of diplomatic, military, and other actions. ..."
"... "in a very savage military way" ..."
"... "a favorite tactic of the Syrian regime in making advances." ..."
"... "a complication" ..."
"... "three million-plus innocent civilians, the majority of whom are women and children," ..."
"... "Russian aggression" ..."
"... I think you can forget ground troops. Turkey has demonstrated ably that it and its opposition forces are more than capable of holding ground on their own. ..."
"... "Idlib province seems to be a magnet for terrorist groups, especially because it is an ungoverned space in many ways," ..."
"... "There are [a] variety of groups there -- all of them are a nuisance, a menace and a threat to hundreds of thousands of civilians who are just trying to make it through the winter." ..."
"... "endless wars" ..."
Mar 11, 2020 | www.rt.com

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/482787-syria-us-troops-terrorists/

The State Department's special envoy for Syria has just admitted that the US aims to defend jihadist militants in Idlib against 'Russian aggression,' proving once again that the swamp in Foggy Bottom is alive and well . Russia and the Syrian government "are out to get a military victory in all of Syria," Ambassador James Jeffrey told reporters on a conference call out of Brussels on Tuesday.

Our goal is to make it very difficult for them to do that by a variety of diplomatic, military, and other actions.

To illustrate these methods, Jeffrey cited the US threat to respond "in a very savage military way" against any chemical attacks, which he described as "a favorite tactic of the Syrian regime in making advances." This is factually untrue, since the alleged attacks always happen after Syrian Army victories, as a pretext for US intervention.

Jeffrey also noted that there are US and coalition troops in parts of Syria – officially there to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), but in actuality "guarding" the oil fields. He tellingly described their presence as "a complication" for the Syrian government.

Also on rt.com US exploring NATO aid for Turkey in Idlib, says sanctions could be applied if Russia or Syria violate ceasefire – reports

Jeffrey and US ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield were in Brussels after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit, to discuss ways the US and NATO can help Ankara protect its pet militants in their last remaining redoubt – Syria's Idlib province.

But while Satterfield described Idlib as containing "three million-plus innocent civilians, the majority of whom are women and children," and accused "Russian aggression" of seeking to displace them, listen to how Jeffrey chose to describe the situation, when asked by a CNN reporter if NATO was considering sending in ground troops:

I think you can forget ground troops. Turkey has demonstrated ably that it and its opposition forces are more than capable of holding ground on their own.

This is either appallingly ignorant or downright delusional, as the Syrian army had successfully rolled up the Turkish-backed militants and the ceasefire Ankara agreed to in Moscow last week confirmed that.

Résumé par dates clés de l'opération de l'armée syrienne dans la région d' #Idlib jusqu'à l'accord de cessez-le-feu négocié par la #Russie et la #Turquie (phase 1 : 6 mai - 31 août 2019 ; phase 2 : 19 déc 2019 - 6 mars 2020) pic.twitter.com/FcNWUThWBa

-- Syria Intelligence (@syriaintel) March 8, 2020

The real revelation here is that the militants are described as Turkey's "opposition." Contrast this with the words of Colonel Myles Caggins, spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition's military arm, just three weeks ago:

"Idlib province seems to be a magnet for terrorist groups, especially because it is an ungoverned space in many ways," Caggins told Sky News. "There are [a] variety of groups there -- all of them are a nuisance, a menace and a threat to hundreds of thousands of civilians who are just trying to make it through the winter."

Read more Idlib is a 'magnet for terrorist groups', says US military spokesman -- contradicting MSM narrative on Syria

Bear in mind that Jeffrey doubles as Washington's special envoy to the coalition against IS, that infamous Schroedinger entity that either doesn't exist any more – when US President Donald Trump seeks to claim victory against the self-proclaimed caliphate – or is about to make a resurgence big time and requires US military presence in perpetuity to prevent that, as the State Department and the Pentagon prefer to see it.

Needless to say, this entrenched insistence on legacy policies doesn't do much for Trump's promise to pull out US troops from "endless wars" in the Middle East.

Neither Jeffrey nor Satterfield, nor any of the reporters asking them questions, mentioned even once the existence of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham – the latest incarnation of the notorious Al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate whose fighters dominate the ranks of the militants in Idlib. Listening to them, one might think it doesn't exist!

Jeffrey and Satterfield openly admit that an outright Syrian victory over these terrorists would deny the "international community" – as they style the US and its allies – the leverage to insist on regime change in Damascus. Which is incredibly rich in irony given that the sole legal pretext on which the US has any troops in Syria, in open violation of international law, is a congressional authorization to use force against... Al-Qaeda.

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

[Mar 09, 2020] Ending the Myth That Trump is Ending the Wars by Khury Petersen-Smith

Mar 06, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org
There was this moment during the State of the Union Address that I can't stop thinking about.

When President Trump spoke to army wife Amy Wiliams during his speech and told her he'd arranged her husband's return home from Afghanistan as a "special surprise," it was difficult to watch.

Sgt. Townsend Williams then descended the stairs to reunite with his family after seven months of deployment. Congress cheered. A military family's reunion -- with its complicated feelings that are typically handled in private or on a base -- was used for an applause line.

That gimmick was the only glimpse many Americans will get of the human reality of our wars overseas. There is no such window into the lives or suffering of people in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, or beyond.

That's unacceptable. And so is the myth that Trump is actually ending the wars.

The U.S. has reached a deal with the Taliban to remove 3,400 of the 12,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, with the pledge to withdraw more if certain conditions are met. That's a long overdue first step, as U.S. officials are finally recognizing the war is a disaster and are negotiating an exit.

But taking a step back reveals a bigger picture in which, from West Africa to Central Asia, Trump is expanding and deepening the War on Terror -- and making it deadlier.

Far from ending the wars, U.S. airstrikes in Somalia and Syria have skyrocketed under Trump, leading to more civilian casualties in both countries. In Somalia, the forces U.S. operations are supposedly targeting have not been defeated after 18 years of war. It received little coverage in the U.S., but the first week of this year saw a truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 80 people.

Everywhere, ordinary people, people just like us except they happen to live in other countries, pay the price of these wars. Last year saw over 10,000 Afghan civilian casualties -- the sixth year in a row to reach those grim heights.

And don't forget, 2020 opened with Trump bringing the U.S. to the brink of a potentially catastrophic war with Iran. And he continues to escalate punishing sanctions on the country, devastating women, children, the elderly, and other vulnerable people.

Trump is not ending wars, but preparing for more war. Over the past year, he has deployed 14,000 more troops in the Middle East -- beyond the tens of thousands already there.

If this seems surprising, it's in part because the problem has been bipartisan. Indeed, many congressional Democrats have actually supported these escalations.

In December, 188 House Democrats joined Republicans in passing a nearly $740 billion military budget that continues the wars. They passed the budget after abandoning anti-war measures put forward by California Representative Barbara Lee and the precious few others trying to rein in the wars.

It's worth remembering that State of the Union visual, of Congress rising in unison and joining the president in applause for his stunt with the Williams family. Because there has been nearly that level of consensus year after year in funding, and expanding, the wars.

Ending them will not be easy. Too many powerful interests -- from weapons manufacturers to politicians -- are too invested. But ending the wars begins with rejecting the idea that real opposition will come from inside the White House.

As with so many other issues -- like when Trump first enacted the Muslim Ban and people flocked to airports nationwide in protest, or the outpouring against caging children at the border -- those of us who oppose the wars need to raise our voices, and make the leaders follow. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Khury Petersen-Smith

[Mar 09, 2020] COVID-19 burst the asset price bubble. In a new low, Pompeo passes buck to Beijing

Mar 09, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

CitizenX , Mar 9 2020 2:58 utc | 57

"Perhaps this will finally burst the out-of-control asset price bubble and drop-kick the Outlaw US Empire's economy into the sewer as the much lower price will rapidly slow the recycling of what remains of the petrodollar. Looks like Trump's reelection push just fell into a massive sinkhole as the economy will tank."

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 9 2020 1:29 utc | 49
....

Call me crazy- but this Virus provides great cover as to why the economy plummets, the Murikan sheeple will eat it up. Prepare for the double media blitz on the virus AND the economy tanking as its result.

Don't worry...just continue to go shopping and take those selfies.


vk , Mar 9 2020 3:37 utc | 60

Pompeo accuses China of giving "imperfect data" on COVID-19, blame it for US failure in containing the virus:

In new low, Pompeo passes buck to Beijing

It will be hard for the American people to swallow that one. From day 1 I've read a lot of "articles" and "papers" from know-it-all Western doctors and researchers from commenters here in this blog, all of them claiming to have very precise and definitive data on what was happening. A lot of bombastic conclusions I've read here (including one that claimed R0 was through the roof - it's funny how the R0 is being played down after it begun to infect the West; suddenly, it's all just a stronger cold...).

And that's just here, in MoA's comment section. Imagine what was being published in the Western MSM. I wouldn't be surprised there was a lot of rednecks popping their beers celebrating the fall of China already.

--//--

China to back global virus fight with production boost

Since China allegedly had a lot of idle industrial capacity - that is, if we take the Western MSM theories seriously (including the fabled "ghost towns" stories) - then boosting production wouldn't be a problem to China.

Disclaimer: it's normal for any kind of economy - socialist or capitalist - to have a certain percentage of idle capacity. That's necessary in order to insure the economy against unexpected oscillations in demand and to give space of maneuvre for future technological progress. Indeed, that was one of the USSR's mistakes with its economy: they instinctly thought unemployment should be zero, and waste should also be zero, so they planned in a way all the factories always sought to operate at 100% capacity. That became a problem when better machines and better methods were invented, since the factory manager wouldn't want to stop production so that his factory would fall behind the other factories in the five-year plan's goals. So, yes, China indeed has idle capacity - but it is mainly proposital, not a failure of its socialist planning.

--//--

... ... ...

vk , Mar 9 2020 3:56 utc | 61
This is important. The only reason I didn't comment about it is I hadn't the data:

Follow the money: Understanding China's battle against COVID-19

By the latest count, in addition to yuan loans worth 113 billion U.S. dollars granted by financial institutions and more than 70 billion U.S. dollars paid out by insurance companies, the Chinese government has allocated about 13 billion U.S. dollars to counter fallout from the outbreak.

The numbers could look abstract. However, breaking the data down reveals how the money is being carefully targeted. The government is allocating the money based on a thorough evaluation of the system's strengths.

...

Local governments are equipped with more local knowledge that allows them to surgically support key manufacturers or producers that are struggling.

Together, they have borne the bulk of the financial responsibility with an allocation of equivalently more than nine billion U.S. dollars. It is carefully targeted, divided into hundreds of thousands of individual grants that are tailor-made by and for each county, town, city and business.

This is the mark of a socialist system.

The affected capitalist countries will simply use monetary devices (so the private sector can offset the losses) and burn their own reserves with non-profitable palliatives such as masks, tests, other quarantine infrastructure etc.

Pft , Mar 9 2020 4:44 utc | 64
Sounds like US socialism. Basically corporate socialism. Loans are just dollars created out of thin air, same as in US. Insurance payouts come from premiums, nothing socialist about that, pure capitalism. Government hand outs to provinces, cities, state owned corporations,well all of these are run by the party elite, its called pork. US handed out a lot of pork during the last financial crisis. None of it trickled down to the little people. I doubt it does in China either.

All crisis are opportunities for the elite to get richer. Those Biolake firms in Wuhan will make out like bandits. Chinese firms will double the price of API's sold to India and US. China will knock out the small farmer in the wake of concurrent chicken and swine flu so the big enterprises take over, a mimicry of the US practice over the last century. China tech firms will double up on surveillance apps, censoring tools, surveillance and toughen up social credit restrictions. 5G will allow China to experiment with nanobots to monitor citizens health from afar (thanks to Harvards Dr Leiber).

Oh yes, socialism with Chinese characteristics is a technocratic capitalists dream. Thats why the West has never imposed sanctions on China since welcoming them to the global elites club. Sanctions are reserved for those with true socialism, especially those who preach equality and god forbid, democracy.

uncle tungsten , Mar 9 2020 8:35 utc | 83

CitizenX #57

Call me crazy- but this Virus provides great cover as to why the economy plummets, the Murikan sheeple will eat it up. Prepare for the double media blitz on the virus AND the economy tanking as its result.


Don't forget the Russians.. They have to be to blame. See they just kept the price of oil low so now the rest of the world gets gas cheaper than the USA. The USA motorist now has to bail out the dopey frackers and shale oil ponzis.

Global envy will eat murica. Maybe they will just pull out all their troops and go home. ;)

[Mar 09, 2020] U.S. Foreign Policy and the Return to Normalcy

Notable quotes:
"... The "normalcy" to which Biden would return the U.S. is rather different. There would be a restoration of sorts, but the restoration would be that of the bankrupt bipartisan foreign policy consensus, among other things. As Emma Ashford suggested in a recent discussion , Biden's foreign policy could be described as "Make American Exceptionalism Great Again." ..."
"... Biden's rhetoric is full of the tired boilerplate rhetoric about U.S. global leadership. Biden's new article for Foreign Affairs includes quite a bit of this: ..."
"... As president, I will take immediate steps to renew U.S. democracy and alliances, protect the United States' economic future, and once more have America lead the world. This is not a moment for fear. This is the time to tap the strength and audacity that took us to victory in two world wars and brought down the Iron Curtain. ..."
"... basically, a Biden foreign policy would be "Obama but worse" https://t.co/wIZwch5Bmk ..."
"... Inasmuch as Biden is much more comfortable with the nostrums of the foreign policy establishment and with their assumptions about the U.S. role in the world than Obama was, that seems like the right conclusion. A foreign policy that is like Obama's but more conventional probably doesn't sound that bad, but we should remember that this is the same foreign policy that left the U.S. engaged in more than one illegal war and normalized illegal warfare without Congressional authorization. ..."
"... Returning to an era of "normalcy" characterized by repeated policy failures, lack of accountability, and open-ended warfare is not the kind of restoration that Americans need. It might be good enough to win the election, but it isn't going to fix what ails U.S. foreign policy. ..."
"... I hope that Sanders really takes it to Biden on the horrendous failures of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy, particularly the wrecking of Libya, Syria, and Yemen, the sheer scale of human misery that Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Biden caused, including unleashing millions of terrified refugees into Europe. I find Sanders' dalliance with communist dictatorships during the Cold War disgusting, but Biden's responsibility for implementing the Obama/Clinton foreign policy horrors is far worse. ..."
"... Unfortunately, most voters don't seem to care much about foreign policy--which is really outrageous considering it is the area in which Presidents have the greatest latitude to act unilaterally. But that is the world we live in. ..."
"... Even if he does publicly recant it, my view is that talk is cheap. Politicians will say what they think the voters want to hear. It doesn't mean they'll do it. ..."
"... Wasn't Biden the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the person that maybe has done more than VP Dick C. in 2002 to start and legitimize the Iraq war? ..."
"... Bottom line is Biden is fraud and everything he and his handlers say or write must be viewed as such. ..."
Mar 09, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

oe Biden's candidacy is defined by the idea that he will "restore" things to the way they were four years ago and that he will preside over a "return to normalcy" after the Trump years. The phrase "return to normalcy" has been linked to the Biden campaign for the better part of the last year. TAC 's Curt Mills commented on this after Biden's recent primary wins:

Biden then, not Trump, would be the candidate of the centennial. Like Warren Harding, he promises a return to normalcy.

The Harding comparison is quite useful because it shows how Biden's "return to normalcy" will be quite different from the one Harding proposed a century ago. Harding contrasted normalcy with "nostrums." This was a shot at the ideological fantasies of the Wilson era and the upheaval that had come with U.S. entry into WWI. This is the full quote :

America's present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality.

The "normalcy" to which Biden would return the U.S. is rather different. There would be a restoration of sorts, but the restoration would be that of the bankrupt bipartisan foreign policy consensus, among other things. As Emma Ashford suggested in a recent discussion , Biden's foreign policy could be described as "Make American Exceptionalism Great Again."

Where Harding's "normalcy" represented the repudiation of Wilsonian fantasies, Biden's would be an attempt to revive them at least in part. Harding contrasted "normalcy" with Wilson's "nostrums," but Biden's rhetoric is full of the tired boilerplate rhetoric about U.S. global leadership. Biden's new article for Foreign Affairs includes quite a bit of this:

As president, I will take immediate steps to renew U.S. democracy and alliances, protect the United States' economic future, and once more have America lead the world. This is not a moment for fear. This is the time to tap the strength and audacity that took us to victory in two world wars and brought down the Iron Curtain.

The Cold War ended thirty years ago, and it is telling that Biden does not point to any victories for the U.S. in the decades that have followed. Proponents of U.S. global "leadership" have to keep reaching farther and farther back in time to recall a time when U.S. "leadership" was successful, and they have remarkably little to say about the thirty years when they have been running things. That is what they want to "restore," but it's not clear why Americans should want to go back to a status quo ante that produced such staggering and costly failures as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Like the early 19th century Bourbon restoration, it would be a return to power for those who had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

John Carl Baker comments on an op-ed co-authored last year by Robert Kagan and Anthony Blinken. Blinken is now Biden's main foreign policy adviser, and that leads Baker to draw this conclusion:

So basically, a Biden foreign policy would be "Obama but worse" https://t.co/wIZwch5Bmk

-- John Carl Baker (@johncarlbaker) March 7, 2020

Inasmuch as Biden is much more comfortable with the nostrums of the foreign policy establishment and with their assumptions about the U.S. role in the world than Obama was, that seems like the right conclusion. A foreign policy that is like Obama's but more conventional probably doesn't sound that bad, but we should remember that this is the same foreign policy that left the U.S. engaged in more than one illegal war and normalized illegal warfare without Congressional authorization.

Returning to an era of "normalcy" characterized by repeated policy failures, lack of accountability, and open-ended warfare is not the kind of restoration that Americans need. It might be good enough to win the election, but it isn't going to fix what ails U.S. foreign policy.


Gaithers a day ago

"Return to normalcy" better not mean squandering any more blood or money on the Middle East. If that's what he has in mind, Biden can forget my vote.
Ellerton a day ago
I hope that Sanders really takes it to Biden on the horrendous failures of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy, particularly the wrecking of Libya, Syria, and Yemen, the sheer scale of human misery that Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Biden caused, including unleashing millions of terrified refugees into Europe. I find Sanders' dalliance with communist dictatorships during the Cold War disgusting, but Biden's responsibility for implementing the Obama/Clinton foreign policy horrors is far worse.

I'm one of those poor saps who was taken in by Trump in 2016, and I want a Democrat I can vote for. I can't see voting for someone with Biden's appalling foreign policy record. If he doesn't recant it publicly and convincingly then he will likely lose to Trump.

Clyde Schechter Ellerton a day ago
"If he doesn't recant it publicly and convincingly then he will likely lose to Trump."

I don't know about that. Unfortunately, most voters don't seem to care much about foreign policy--which is really outrageous considering it is the area in which Presidents have the greatest latitude to act unilaterally. But that is the world we live in.

Even if he does publicly recant it, my view is that talk is cheap. Politicians will say what they think the voters want to hear. It doesn't mean they'll do it. The only recantation I would find somewhat persuasive (I don't think anything would "convince" me) is if he were to state that he will appoint somebody like Sanders or Rand Paul as secretary of State and someone like Tulsi Gabbard as secretary of Defense, and staff his national security council by recruiting from the Quincy Institute. (To actually capture my vote would require additional personnel commitments, such as Elizabeth Warren for secretary of the Treasury--but that's off topic for this thread.)

Right now, I would vote for Sanders if he gets the nomination and doesn't do something between now and November to alienate me. If Biden is the nominee, barring something really drastic, I'll do my usual and find a third party candidate to vote for.

kouroi a day ago
Wasn't Biden the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the person that maybe has done more than VP Dick C. in 2002 to start and legitimize the Iraq war? Just accusing Biden of voting for the Iraq war is nothing. About 70 other senators have voted for it. Biden was the legislative Architect that paved the way for the Iraq War, and in my books (keeping the UN Charter as the legal standard), he is a War Criminal.
Alan Vanneman a day ago
I realize that almost everything Biden has to say about foreign policy is abysmal, and both Sanders and Warren were much better, but neither were electable (and both were abysmal on domestic policy and trade policy). Biden may be banal, but he is not vicious, as Trump so clearly is.

Furthermore, I think the otherwise estimable Mr. Larison fails to realize that the general public does set some vague parameters for what is and what is not acceptable foreign policy, though often without knowing it. I think it quite likely that Donald Trump will "abandon" Afghanistan, just as Max Boot et al. fear, and no one who can't name the Acela stops between New York and DC will care. Trump, when he isn't assassinating people, is much less aggressive than the Obama/Clinton administration. Although he talks about regime change, he doesn't follow through. He can be talked out of withdrawing troops, but so far hasn't tried sending them in. Early in his administration he was widely praised for firing Tomahawk missiles into Syria. Why hasn't he done it again? There is nothing Trump likes so much as praise. Why abandon what seemed like a sure-fire applause line?

cka2nd Alan Vanneman a day ago
We have four years of polling saying that Sanders could beat Trump. Not every single poll, but a great majority of them.
kouroi Alan Vanneman 12 hours ago
The "electability" concept is something mostly constructed by the media. Only a very small percentage of voters come in direct contact and hear and observe the candidates. The very brief TV debates, much choreographed and controlled are no good. As such, media starts and keeps repeating this notion of electability.

As a person, presence, message, I think the most charismatic individual to show up for this presidential cycle is Tulsi Gabbard. Her showing is off the charts compared with everyone else. Beside her anti regime change message (she is not necessarily anti-war), her charisma is such a threat that she had to be excluded from the consciousness and awareness of people. And what was implanted in people's mind is that she is an Assad apologist and that she met with the blood thirsty Assad.

Mark Krvavica a day ago
I enjoy some good nostalgia, but it has no place in foreign policy.
Taras77 a day ago
Good article! Bottom line is Biden is fraud and everything he and his handlers say or write must be viewed as such.
NGPM 19 hours ago
How about restoration of the "normalcy" of bipartisan consensus on "comprehensive immigration reform" AKA a general amnesty which will likely benefit some 25 to 35 million illegal aliens plus their descendants, in practice?

It doesn't seem to make much sense harping about restoring sanity to American foreign policy when America might not even exist in 20 years.

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

Mar 07, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

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

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

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

[Mar 06, 2020] The Swiss Propaganda Research Group (SPR) on syria war

Mar 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ashino Wolf Sushanti , Mar 6 2020 13:34 utc | 56

The Swiss Propaganda Research Group (SPR)
https://swprs.org/

Understanding the geopolitical and psychological war against Syria.
Published: March 2020; Languages: DE, EN, NO

The Syria Deception -- a position paper by the Swiss Propaganda Research group
https://swprs.org/the-syria-deception/
or
https://www.greanvillepost.com/2020/03/04/the-syria-deception-a-position

-paper-by-the-swiss-propaganda-research-group/


Contrary to the depiction in Western media, the Syria war is not a civil war. This is because the initiators, financiers and a large part of the anti-government fighters come from abroad.


Nor is the Syria war a religious war, for Syria was and still is one of the most

secular countries in the region, and the Syrian army, like its direct opponents,
is itself mainly composed of Sunnis.

But the Syria war is also not a pipeline war, as some critics suspected, because

the allegedly competing gas pipeline projects never existed to begin with, as even the Syrian president confirmed.

Instead, the Syria war is a war of conquest and regime change, which developed

into a geopolitical proxy war between NATO states on one side – especially the

US, Great Britain and France – and Russia, Iran, and China on the other side.

[Mar 05, 2020] Intelligence Officials Sow Discord By Stoking Fear of Russian Election Meddling by Dave DeCamp

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Under Trump, NATO has strengthened and held its largest war games since the cold war. The Trump administration withdrew from the Reagan-era nuclear arms treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), an arms control agreement that prohibited Russia and the US from developing medium-range nuclear and ballistic missiles. Shortly after tearing up the treaty, the Pentagon began developing and testing missiles that were banned under the INF. ..."
"... Despite all the drama over military aid to Ukraine, Trump never actually delayed it, and the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes $300 million in lethal aid to Ukraine , $50 million more than the previous year. The NDAA also calls for mandatory sanctions against any companies working on completing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that connects Russia and Germany. Of all Trump's hawkish policies, his effort to kill the Nord Stream 2 and the pressure he puts on Germany not to buy gas from Russia can do the most damage to Russia's economy. ..."
"... The policies listed above are just a few examples of Trump's hostility towards Russia. Others include attempting to overthrow Russia's ally in Venezuela, maintaining a troop presence in Syria to "secure the oil," sanctioning Russian officials and businessman, and much more . ..."
"... Despite all these provocations towards Russia, Trump is still accused of being a "puppet" of Vladimir Putin. No matter how much the president moves the US closer to direct confrontation with Russia, the talking heads and pundits of the mainstream media take superficial examples – like the 2018 Helsinki conference – as proof of Trump's loyalty to Putin. Trump's words are put under a microscope, while his policies that make nuclear war more possible are largely ignored. ..."
Feb 24, 2020 | original.antiwar.com
Another presidential election year is upon us, and the intelligence agencies are hard at work stoking fears of Russian meddling. This time it looks like the Russians do not only like the incumbent president but also favor who appears to be the Democratic front-runner, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

On Thursday, The New York Times ran a story titled , "Lawmakers Are Warned That Russia Is Meddling to Re-elect Trump." The story says that on February 13 th US lawmakers from the House were briefed by intelligence officials who warned them, "Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected."

The story provides little detail into the briefing and gives no evidence to back up the intelligence officials' claims. It mostly rehashes old claims from the 2016 election, such as Russians are trying to "stir controversy" and "stoke division." The intelligence officials also said the Russians are looking to interfere with the 2020 Democratic primaries.

It looks like other intelligence officials are already undermining the leaked briefing. CNN ran a story on Sunday titled "US intelligence briefer appears to have overstated assessment of 2020 Russian interference." The CNN article reads, "The US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and has separately assessed that Russia views Trump as a leader they can work with. But the US does not have evidence that Russia's interference this cycle is aimed at re-electing Trump, the officials said."

According to The Times, President Trump was upset with acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire for letting the briefing happen, and Republican lawmakers did not agree with the conclusion since Trump has been "tough" on Russia. In his three years in office, Trump certainly has been tough on Russia, and it is hard to believe that Putin would work to reelect such a Russia hawk.

Under Trump, NATO has strengthened and held its largest war games since the cold war. The Trump administration withdrew from the Reagan-era nuclear arms treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), an arms control agreement that prohibited Russia and the US from developing medium-range nuclear and ballistic missiles. Shortly after tearing up the treaty, the Pentagon began developing and testing missiles that were banned under the INF.

The Trump Administration might let another nuclear arms treaty lapse. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) limits the number of nuclear warheads that Russia and the US can have deployed. The US does not want to re-sign the treaty and is using the excuse that it wants to include China in the deal. China's nuclear arsenal is estimated to be around 300 warheads , which is just one-fifth of the amount that Russia and the US are allowed to have deployed under the New START. It makes no sense for China to limit its deployment of nuclear warheads when its arsenal is nothing compared to the other two superpowers. China appears to be a scapegoat for the US to blame if the treaty does not get renewed. Without the New START, there will be nothing limiting the number of nukes the US and Russia can deploy, making the world a much more dangerous place.

Despite all the drama over military aid to Ukraine, Trump never actually delayed it, and the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes $300 million in lethal aid to Ukraine , $50 million more than the previous year. The NDAA also calls for mandatory sanctions against any companies working on completing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that connects Russia and Germany. Of all Trump's hawkish policies, his effort to kill the Nord Stream 2 and the pressure he puts on Germany not to buy gas from Russia can do the most damage to Russia's economy.

The policies listed above are just a few examples of Trump's hostility towards Russia. Others include attempting to overthrow Russia's ally in Venezuela, maintaining a troop presence in Syria to "secure the oil," sanctioning Russian officials and businessman, and much more .

Despite all these provocations towards Russia, Trump is still accused of being a "puppet" of Vladimir Putin. No matter how much the president moves the US closer to direct confrontation with Russia, the talking heads and pundits of the mainstream media take superficial examples – like the 2018 Helsinki conference – as proof of Trump's loyalty to Putin. Trump's words are put under a microscope, while his policies that make nuclear war more possible are largely ignored.

The leaked briefing harkens back to an intelligence assessment that came out in January 2017 during the last days of the Obama administration. The assessment concluded that Vladimir Putin himself ordered the election interference to help Trump get elected. At first, a falsehood spread through the media that all 17 US intelligence agencies agreed with the conclusion. But later testimony from Obama-era intelligence officials revealed the assessment was prepared by hand-picked analysts from the CIA, FBI, and NSA. The assessment offered no evidence for the claim and mostly focused on media coverage of the presidential candidates on Russian state-funded media.

On Friday, The Washington Post piled on to the Russia hysteria and ran a story titled "Bernie Sanders briefed by US officials that Russia is trying to help his campaign." The story says Sanders received a briefing on Russian efforts to boost his campaign. The details are again scant and The Post admits that "It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken."

The few progressive journalists that have been right on Russiagate all along had the foresight to see how accusations of Russian meddling would ultimately be used to hurt Sanders' campaign. Unfortunately, Sanders did not have that same foresight and frequently played into the Russiagate narrative.

Last week, during a Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas, when criticized for his supporters' behavior on social media, Sanders pointed the finger at Russia . "All of us remember 2016, and what we remember is efforts by Russians and others to try to interfere in our elections and divide us up. I'm not saying that's happening, but it would not shock me," Sanders said.

In comments after The Post story was published, Sanders said he was briefed on Russian interference "about a month ago." Sanders raised the issue with the timing of the story, having been published on the eve of the Nevada caucus. But the story did not slow down Sanders' momentum in the polls, and he came out the clear victor of the Nevada caucus. Sanders' victory seemed to rattle the Democratic establishment, and some wild accusations were thrown around during coverage of the caucus.

Political analyst James Carville appeared on MSNBC as Sanders took an early and substantial lead in Nevada. Carville said, "Right now, it's about 1:15 Moscow time. This thing is going very well for Vladimir Putin. I promise you. He's probably staying up watching this right now." What could be played off as a joke was followed up with some serious accusations from Carville, "I don't think the Sanders campaign in any way is collusion or collaboration. I think they don't like this story, but the story is a fact, and the reason that the story is a fact is Putin is doing everything that he can to help Trump, including trying to get Sanders the Democratic nomination."

This delusional attitude about the Russians rigging the Democratic primary is underpinned by claims of meddling from the 2016 election. Central to Robert Mueller's claim that Russia engaged in "multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election" is the St. Petersburg based company, the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

The IRA is accused of running a troll farm that sought to interfere in the 2016 election in favor of Trump over Hillary Clinton. Mueller failed to tie the IRA directly to the Kremlin, and further research into their social media campaign shows most of the posts had nothing to do with the election. A study on the IRA by the firm New Knowledge found just "11 percent" of the IRA's content "was related to the election."

Many believe the Russian government is responsible for hacking the DNC email server and providing the emails to WikiLeaks. But there are many holes in Mueller's story to support this claim. And WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – who Mueller did not interview – has said the Russian government was not the source of the emails.

Regardless of who leaked the DNC emails to WikiLeaks, they show that DNC leadership had a clear bias against Bernie Sanders back in 2016. The emails' contents were never disputed, and Democratic voters had every right to see the corruption within the DNC. With the release of the DNC emails, and later the Podesta emails, the American people were able to make a more informed choice in the presidential election. This type of transparency provided by WikiLeaks would be celebrated in a healthy democracy, not portrayed as the work of a foreign power.

Sanders would be wise to keep a watchful eye on how the DNC operates over the next few months. The debacle that was the Iowa caucus shows the Democrats can "stoke division" and "stir controversy" just fine on their own.

These claims of Russian meddling will continue throughout the election season. President Trump's defense that he is "tough" on Russia is nothing to be proud of, but that is inevitably where these accusations lead. Trump is encouraged to be more hawkish towards Russia in an effort to quiet the claims of Putin's preference for him. And if Bernie Sanders plays into this narrative now, can we believe that he will make any real foreign policy change towards Russia if he gets the nomination and beats Trump?

Dave DeCamp is assistant editor at Antiwar.com and a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave .

[Mar 04, 2020] The Syria Deception by Mark Taliano

Mar 04, 2020 | www.globalresearch.ca

What is the Syria war about?

Contrary to the depiction in Western media, the Syria war is not a civil war. This is because the initiators, financiers and a large part of the anti-government fighters come from abroad .

Nor is the Syria war a religious war, for Syria was and still is one of the most secular countries in the region, and the Syrian army – like its direct opponents – is itself mainly composed of Sunnis.

But the Syria war is also not a pipeline war, as some critics suspected, because the allegedly competing gas pipeline projects never existed to begin with, as even the Syrian president confirmed .

Instead, the Syria war is a war of conquest and regime change , which developed into a geopolitical proxy war between NATO states on one side – especially the US, Great Britain and France – and Russia, Iran, and China on the other side.

In fact, already since the 1940s the US has repeatedly attempted to install a pro-Western government in Syria, such as in 1949, 1956, 1957, after 1980 and after 2003, but without success so far. This makes Syria – since the fall of Libya – the last Mediterranean country independent of NATO.

Thus, in the course of the „Arab Spring" of 2011, NATO and its allies, especially Israel and the Gulf States, decided to try again. To this end, politically and economically motivated protests in Syria were used and were quickly escalated into an armed conflict.

NATO's original strategy of 2011 was based on the Afghanistan war of the 1980s and aimed at conquering Syria mainly through positively portrayed Islamist militias (so-called „rebels"). This did not succeed, however, because the militias lacked an air force and anti-aircraft missiles.

Hence from 2013 onwards, various poison gas attacks were staged in order to be able to deploy the NATO air force as part of a „humanitarian intervention" similar to the earlier wars against Libya and Yugoslavia. But this did not succeed either, mainly because Russia and China blocked a UN mandate.

As of 2014, therefore, additional but negatively portrayed Islamist militias („terrorists") were covertly established in Syria and Iraq via NATO partners Turkey and Jordan, secretly supplied with weapons and vehicles and indirectly financed by oil exports via the Turkish Ceyhan terminal.

ISIS: Supply and export routes through NATO partners Turkey and Jordan (ISW / Atlantic, 2015)

Media-effective atrocity propaganda and mysterious „terrorist attacks" in Europe and the US then offered the opportunity to intervene in Syria using the NATO air force even without a UN mandate – ostensibly to fight the „terrorists", but in reality still to conquer Syria and topple its government.

This plan failed again, however, as Russia also used the presence of the „terrorists" in autumn 2015 as a justification for direct military intervention and was now able to attack both the „terrorists" and parts of NATO's „rebels" while simultaneously securing the Syrian airspace to a large extent.

By the end of 2016, the Syrian army thus succeeded in recapturing the city of Aleppo.

From 2016 onwards, NATO therefore switched back to positively portrayed but now Kurdish-led militias (the SDF) in order to still have unassailable ground forces available and to conquer the Syrian territory held by the previously established „terrorists" before Syria and Russia could do so themselves.

This led to a kind of „race" to conquer cities such as Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor in 2017 and to a temporary division of Syria along the Euphrates river into a (largely) Syrian-controlled West and a Kurdish (or rather American) controlled East (see map below).

This move, however, brought NATO into conflict with its key member Turkey, because Turkey did not accept a Kurdish-controlled territory on its southern border. As a result, the NATO alliance became increasingly divided from 2018 onwards.

Turkey now fought the Kurds in northern Syria and at the same time supported the remaining Islamists in the north-western province of Idlib against the Syrian army, while the Americans eventually withdrew to the eastern Syrian oil fields in order to retain a political bargaining chip.

While Turkey supported Islamists in northern Syria, Israel more or less covertly supplied Islamists in southern Syria and at the same time fought Iranian and Lebanese (Hezbollah) units with air strikes, though without lasting success: the militias in southern Syria had to surrender in 2018.

Ultimately, some NATO members tried to use a confrontation between the Turkish and Syrian armies in the province of Idlib as a last option to escalate the war. In addition to the situation in Idlib, the issues of the occupied territories in the north and east of Syria remain to be resolved, too.

Russia, for its part, has tried to draw Turkey out of the NATO alliance and onto its own side as far as possible. Modern Turkey, however, is pursuing a rather far-reaching geopolitical strategy of its own, which is also increasingly clashing with Russian interests in the Middle East and Central Asia.

As part of this geopolitical strategy, Turkey in 2015 and 2020 even used the so-called "weapon of mass migration" , which may serve to destabilize both Syria (so-called strategic depopulation ) and Europe, as well as to extort financial, political or military support from the European Union.

Syria: The situation in February 2020

What role did the Western media play in this war?

The task of NATO-compliant media was to portray the war against Syria as a „civil war", the Islamist „rebels" positively, the Islamist „terrorists" and the Syrian government negatively, the alleged „poison gas attacks" credibly and the NATO intervention consequently as legitimate.

An important tool for this media strategy were the numerous Western-sponsored „media centres" , „activist groups" , „Twitter girls" , „human rights observatories" and the like, which provided Western news agencies and media with the desired images and information.

Since 2019, NATO-compliant media moreover had to conceal or discredit various leaks and whistleblowers that began to prove the covert Western arms deliveries to the Islamist „rebels" and „terrorists" as well as the staged „poison gas attacks" .

But if even the „terrorists" in Syria were demonstrably established and equipped by NATO states, what role then did the mysterious „caliph of terror" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi play? He possibly played a similar role as his direct predecessor , Omar al-Baghdadi – who was a phantom .

Thanks to new communication technologies and on-site sources, the Syria war was also the first war about which independent media could report almost in real-time and thus for the first time significantly influenced the public perception of events – a potentially historic change.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

All images in this article are from SPR


Order Mark Taliano's Book "Voices from Syria" directly from Global Research.

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes the mainstream media narratives on Syria.

[Mar 02, 2020] China Is Prepared to Reap the Strategic Rewards of Its Relationship With Russia The National Interest

Mar 02, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

China Is Prepared to Reap the Strategic Rewards of Its Relationship With Russia

February 29, 2020 Topic: Security Region: Eurasia Tags: China Russia Military Weapons War China Is Prepared to Reap the Strategic Rewards of Its Relationship With Russia

Moscow has transferred more than five hundred aircraft -- large military transports, early warning aircraft, refueling aircraft, attack jets, and fighter interceptors -- to Beijing since 1990.

by Lyle J. Goldstein ,

Chinese air power these days is something to behold. In the course of just about thirty years, Beijing's aerial inventory has gone from quite obsolete to cutting edge. It's worth noting, moreover, that Chinese airpower is but one tool that Beijing can wield in the skies. If its massive missile forces perform as expected, destroying adversary runways, then there will be few enemy aircraft getting into the air to contest the supremacy of China's fighters and bombers -- or at least very few of them will be able to gain access to much of the western Pacific.

https://lockerdome.com/lad/12130885885741670?pubid=ld-12130885885741670-935&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fnationalinterest.org&rid=eastwestaccord.com&width=550

[Mar 01, 2020] That the whistleblower works for the CIA is a matter of public record, not some conspiracy theory

Notable quotes:
"... The Democrats did not want Adam Schiff to have to answer questions about the whistleblower, and they don't want the whistleblower's identity to be officially revealed. Such things do not contribute to the greatest cause of our time, the destruction of Donald Trump. ..."
"... The whole point of having the House impeachment investigation proceed from the House Intelligence Committee, headed by Adam Schiff, was to send the signal that Trump is unacceptable to the nefarious powers that make up the Deep State, especially the intelligence agencies, especially the CIA. ..."
"... What a world, then, when OP Democrats are cheering on John Bolton, hoping again for a savior to their sacred resistance cause, and meanwhile they aren't too excited about Rand Paul's intervention. For sure, it is a sign that a "resistance" isn't real when it needs a savior; it's not as if the French Resistance sat back waiting for Gen. de Gaulle. In any case, in the procession of horrible reactionary figures that Democrats have embraced, Bolton is probably the worst, and that's saying quite a lot. ..."
"... People are even talking about "getting used to accepting the help of the CIA with the impeachment," and the like. (I realize I'm being repetitious here, but this stuff blows my mind, it is so disturbing.) At least they are recognizing the reality -- at least partially; that's something. But then what they do with this recognition is something that requires epic levels of TDS -- and, somehow, a great deal of the Left is going down this path. ..."
"... The USA Deep State is a Five Eyes partner and as such Trump must be given the proverbial boot for being an uneducated boor lacking political gravitas & business gravitas with his narcissistic Smoot-Hawley II 2019 trade wars. Screw the confidence man-in-chief. He is a liability for the USA and global business. Trump is not an asset. ..."
"... Almost as a by product of his 2016 victory, Trump showed up the MSM hacks for what they were, lying, partisan shills utterly lacking in any integrity and credibility. The same applies to the intrigues and corruption of the Dirty Cops and Spookocracy. They had to come out from behind the curtain and reveal themselves as the dirty, lying, seditious, treasonous, rabid criminal scum they are. The true nature of the State standing in the spotlight for all the world to see. This cannot be undone. ..."
Mar 01, 2020 | off-guardian.org

First , the whistleblower was ruled out as a possible witness -- this was essentially done behind the scenes, and in reality can be called a Deep State operation, though one exposed to some extent by Rand Paul. This has nothing to do with protecting the whistleblower or upholding the whistleblower statute, but instead with the fact that the whistleblower was a CIA plant in the White House.

That the whistleblower works for the CIA is a matter of public record, not some conspiracy theory. Furthermore, for some time before the impeachment proceedings began, the whistleblower had been coordinating his efforts to undermine Trump with the head of the House Intelligence Committee, who happens to be Adam Schiff. It is possible that the connections with Schiff go even further or deeper. Obviously the Democrats do not want these things exposed.

... ... ...

In this regard, there was a very special moment on January 29, when Chief Justice John Roberts refused to allow the reading of a question from Sen. Rand Paul that identified the alleged whistleblower. Paul then held a press conference in which he read his question.

The question was directed at Adam Schiff, who claims not to have communicated with the whistleblower, despite much evidence to the contrary. (Further details can be read at here .) A propos of what I was just saying, Paul is described in the Politico article as "a longtime antagonist of Republican leaders." Excellent, good on you, Rand Paul.

Whether this was a case of unintended consequences or not, one could say that this episode fed into the case against calling witnesses -- certainly the Democrats should not have been allowed to call witnesses if the Republicans could not call the whistleblower. But clearly this point is completely lost on those working in terms of the moving line of bullshit.

One would think that Democrats would be happy with a Republican Senator who antagonizes leaders of his own party, but of course Rand Paul's effort only led to further "outrage" on the part of Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.

The Democrats did not want Adam Schiff to have to answer questions about the whistleblower, and they don't want the whistleblower's identity to be officially revealed. Such things do not contribute to the greatest cause of our time, the destruction of Donald Trump.

However, you see, there is a complementary purpose at work here, too. The whole point of having the House impeachment investigation proceed from the House Intelligence Committee, headed by Adam Schiff, was to send the signal that Trump is unacceptable to the nefarious powers that make up the Deep State, especially the intelligence agencies, especially the CIA.

The only way these machinations can be combatted is to pull the curtain back further -- but the Republicans do not want this any more than the Democrats do, with a few possible exceptions such as Rand Paul. (As the Politico article states, Paul was chastised publicly by McConnell for submitting his question in the first place, and for criticizing Roberts in the press conference.)

What a world, then, when OP Democrats are cheering on John Bolton, hoping again for a savior to their sacred resistance cause, and meanwhile they aren't too excited about Rand Paul's intervention. For sure, it is a sign that a "resistance" isn't real when it needs a savior; it's not as if the French Resistance sat back waiting for Gen. de Gaulle. In any case, in the procession of horrible reactionary figures that Democrats have embraced, Bolton is probably the worst, and that's saying quite a lot.

... ... ...

Now we are at a moment when "the Left" is recognizing the role that the CIA and the rest of the "intelligence community" is played in the impeachment nonsense. This "Left" was already on board for the "impeachment process" itself, perhaps at moments with caveats about "not leaving everything up to the Democrats," "not just relying on the Democrats," but still accepting their assigned role as cheerleaders and self-important internet commentators. (And, sure, maybe that's all I am, too -- but the inability to distinguish form from content is one of the main problems of the existing Left.)

Now, though, people on the Left are trying to get comfortable with, and trying to explain to themselves how they can get comfortable with, the obvious role of the "intelligence community" (with, in my view, the CIA in the leading role, but of course I'm not privy to the inner workings of this scene) in the impeachment process and other efforts to take down Trump's presidency.

People are even talking about "getting used to accepting the help of the CIA with the impeachment," and the like. (I realize I'm being repetitious here, but this stuff blows my mind, it is so disturbing.) At least they are recognizing the reality -- at least partially; that's something. But then what they do with this recognition is something that requires epic levels of TDS -- and, somehow, a great deal of the Left is going down this path.

They might think about the "help" that the CIA gave to the military in Bolivia to remove Evo Morales from office. They might think about the picture of Donald Trump that they find necessary to paint to justify what they are willing to swallow to remove him from office. They might think about the fact that ordinary Democrats are fine with this role for the CIA, and that Adam Schiff and others routinely offer the criticism/condemnation of Donald Trump that he doesn't accept the findings of the CIA or the rest of the intelligence agencies at face value.

The moment for the Left, what calls itself and thinks of itself as that, to break with this lunacy has passed some time ago, but let us take this moment, of "accepting the help of the CIA, because Trump," as truly marking a point of no return.

MASTER OF UNIVE ,

The USA Deep State is a Five Eyes partner and as such Trump must be given the proverbial boot for being an uneducated boor lacking political gravitas & business gravitas with his narcissistic Smoot-Hawley II 2019 trade wars. Screw the confidence man-in-chief. He is a liability for the USA and global business. Trump is not an asset.

paul ,

Trump, Sanders and Corbyn were all in their own way agents of creative destruction. Trump tapped into the popular discontent of millions of Americans who realised that the system no longer even pretended to work in their interests, and were not prepared to be diverted down the Identity Politics Rabbit Hole.

The Deep State was outraged that he had disrupted their programme by stealing Clinton's seat in the game of Musical Chairs. Being the most corrupt, dishonest and mendacious political candidate in all US history (despite some pretty stiff opposition) was supposed to be outweighed by her having a vagina. The Deplorables failed to sign up for the programme.

Almost as a by product of his 2016 victory, Trump showed up the MSM hacks for what they were, lying, partisan shills utterly lacking in any integrity and credibility. The same applies to the intrigues and corruption of the Dirty Cops and Spookocracy. They had to come out from behind the curtain and reveal themselves as the dirty, lying, seditious, treasonous, rabid criminal scum they are. The true nature of the State standing in the spotlight for all the world to see. This cannot be undone.

For all his pandering to Adelson and the Zionist Mafia, for all his Gives to Netanyahu, Trump has failed to deliver on the Big Ticket Items. Syria was supposed to have been invaded by now, with Hillary cackling demonically over Assad's death as she did over Gaddafi, and rapidly moving on to the main event with Iran. They will not forgive him for this.

They realise they are under severe time pressure. It took them a century to gain their stranglehold over America, and this is a wasting asset. America is in terminal decline, and may soon be unable to fulfil its ordained role as dumb goy muscle serving Zionist interests. And the parasite will find it difficult to find a replacement host.

George Mc ,

Haven't you just agreed with him here?

He thinks the left died in the 1960s, over a half century ago. It's pretty simple to identify a leftist: anti-imperialist/ anti-capitalist. The Democrats are imperialists. People who vote for the Democrats and Republicans are imperialists. This article is a confused mess, that's my whole point;)

If the Democrats and Republicans (and those who vote for them) are imperialists (which they are) then the left are indeed dead – at least as far as political representation goes.

Koba ,

He's sent more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan he staged several coups in Latin America and wanted to take out the dprk and thier nukes and wants to bomb Iran! Winding down?!

sharon marlowe ,

First, an attempted assassination-by-drone on President Maduro of Venezuela happened. Then Trump dropped the largest conventional bomb on Afghanistan, with a mile-wide radius. Then Trump named Juan Guido as the new President of Venezuela in an overt coup. Then he bombed Syria over a fake chemical weapons claim. He bombed it before even an investigation was launched. Then the Trump regime orchestrated a military coup in Bolivia. Then he claimed that he was pulling out of Syria, but instead sent U.S. troops to take over Syrian oil fields. trump then assassinated Gen. Solemeni. Then he claimed that he will leave Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government, the Iraqi government asked the U.S. to leave, and Trump rejected the request. The Trump regime has tried orchestrating a coup in Iran, and a coup in Hong Kong. He expelled Russian diplomats en masse for the Skripal incident in England, before an investigation. He has sanctioned Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, and Venezuela. He has bombed Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Those are the things I'm aware of, but what else Trump has done in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America you can research if you wish. And now, the claim of leaving Afghanistan is as ridiculous as when he claimed to be leaving Syria and Iraq.

Dungroanin ,

Yeah yeah and 'he' gave Maduro 7 days to let their kid takeover in Venezuela! And built a wall. And got rid of obamacare and started a nuke war with Rocketman and and and ...

sharon marlowe ,

There were at least nine people killed when Trump bombed Douma.

Only a psychopath would kill people because one of its spy drones was shot down. You don't get points for considering killing people for it and then changing your mind.

People should get over Hillary and pay attention to what Trump has been doing. Why even mention what Hillary would have done in Syria, then proceed to be an apologist for what Trump has done around the world in just three years? Trump has been quite a prolific imperialist in such a short time. A second term could well put him above Bush and Obama as the 21st century's most horrible leaders on earth.

Dungroanin ,

...If you think that the potus is the omnipotent ruler of everything he certainly seems to be having some problems with his minions in the CIA, NSA, FBI..State Dept etc.

Savorywill ,

Yes, what you say is right. However, he did warn both the Syrian and Russian military of the attack in the first instance, so no casualties, and in the second attack, he announced that the missiles had been launched before they hit the target, again resulting in no casualties. When the US drone was shot down by an Iranian missile, he considered retaliation. But, when advised of likely casualties, he called it off saying that human lives are more valuable than the cost of the drone. Yes, he did authorize the assassination of the Iranian general, and that was very bad. His claims that the general had organized the placement of roadside bombs that had killed US soldiers rings rather hollow, considering those shouldn't have been in Iraq in the first place.

I am definitely not stating that he is perfect and doesn't do objectionable things. And he has authorized US forces to control the oil wells, which is against international law, but at least US soldiers are not actively engaged in fighting the Syrian government, something Hillary set in motion. However, the military does comprise a huge percentage of the US economy and there have to be reasons, and enemies, to justify its existence, so his situation as president must be very difficult, not a job I would want, that is for sure.

The potus is best described (by Assad actually) as a CEO of a board of directors appointed by the shareholders who collectively determine their OWN interests.

Your gaslighting ain't succeeding round here – Regime! So desperate, so so sad 🤣

[Mar 01, 2020] Countering Nationalist Oligarchy by Ganesh Sitaraman

Highly recommended!
The article is mostly junk. But it contains some important insights into the rise of Trympism (aka "national neoliberalism") -- nationalist oligarchy. Including the following " the governments that have emerged from the new populist moment are, to date, not actually pursuing policies that are economically populist."
The real threat to liberal democracy isn't authoritarianism -- it's nationalist oligarchy. Here's how American foreign policy should change. The real threat to liberal democracy isn't authoritarianism -- it's nationalist oligarchy. Here's how American foreign policy should change.
Notable quotes:
"... Fascism: A Warning ..."
"... Can it Happen Here? Authoritarianism in America ..."
"... the governments that have emerged from the new populist moment are, to date, not actually pursuing policies that are economically populist. ..."
"... The better and more useful way to view these regimes -- and the threat to democracy emerging at home and abroad because of them -- is as nationalist oligarchies. Oligarchy means rule by a small number of rich people. In an oligarchy, wealthy elites seek to preserve and extend their wealth and power. In his definitive book titled Oligarchy ..."
"... Oligarchies remain in power through two strategies: first, using divide-and-conquer tactics to ensure that a majority doesn't coalesce, and second, by rigging the political system to make it harder for any emerging majority to overthrow them. ..."
"... Rigging the system is, in some ways, a more obvious tactic. It means changing the legal rules of the game or shaping the political marketplace to preserve power. Voting restrictions and suppression, gerrymandering, and manipulation of the media are examples. The common theme is that they insulate the minority in power from democracy; they prevent the population from kicking the rulers out through ordinary political means. ..."
"... Classical Greek Oligarchy ..."
"... Framing today's threat as nationalist oligarchy not only clarifies the challenge but also makes clear how democracy is different -- and what democracy requires. Democracy means more than elections, an independent judiciary, a free press, and various constitutional norms. For democracy to persist, there must also be relative economic equality. If society is deeply unequal economically, the wealthy will dominate politics and transform democracy into an oligarchy. And there must be some degree of social solidarity because, as Lincoln put it, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." ..."
"... We see a number of disturbing signs the United States is breaking down along these dimensions. ..."
"... The view that money is speech under the First Amendment has unleashed wealthy individuals and corporations to spend as much as they want to influence politics. The "doom loop of oligarchy," as Ezra Klein has called it, is an obvious consequence: The wealthy use their money to influence politics and rig policy to increase their wealth, which in turn increases their capacity to influence politics. Meanwhile, we're increasingly divided into like-minded enclaves, and the result is an ever-more toxic degree of partisanship. ..."
"... The Counterinsurgent's Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars ..."
"... The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens our Republic ..."
Dec 31, 2019 | democracyjournal.org
from Winter 2019, No. 51 – 31 MIN READ

Tagged Authoritarianism Democracy Foreign Policy Government nationalism oligarchy

Ever since the 2016 election, foreign policy commentators and practitioners have been engaged in a series of soul-searching exercises to understand the great transformations taking place in the world -- and to articulate a framework appropriate to the challenges of our time. Some have looked backwards, arguing that the liberal international order is collapsing, while others question whether it ever existed. Another group seems to hope the current messiness is simply a blip and that foreign policy will return to normalcy after it passes. Perhaps the most prominent group has identified today's great threat as the rise of authoritarianism, autocracy, and illiberal democracy. They fear that constitutional democracy is receding as norms are broken and institutions are under siege.

Unfortunately, this approach misunderstands the nature of the current crisis. The challenge we face today is not one of authoritarianism, as so many seem inclined to believe, but of nationalist oligarchy. This form of government feeds populism to the people, delivers special privileges to the rich and well-connected, and rigs politics to sustain its regime.

... ... ..

Authoritarianism or What?

Across the political spectrum, commentators and scholars have identified -- and warned of -- the global rise of autocracies and authoritarian governments. They cite Russia, Hungary, the Philippines, and Turkey, among others. Distinguished commentators are increasingly worried. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently published a book called Fascism: A Warning . Cass Sunstein gathered a variety of scholars for a collection titled, Can it Happen Here? Authoritarianism in America .

The authoritarian lens is familiar from the heroic narrative of democracy defeating autocracies in the twentieth century. But as a framework for understanding today's central geopolitical challenges, it is far too narrow. This is mainly because those who are worried about the rise of authoritarianism and the crisis of democracy are insufficiently focused on economics. Their emphasis is almost exclusively political and constitutional -- free speech, voting rights, equal treatment for minorities, independent courts, and the like. But politics and economics cannot be dissociated from each other, and neither are autonomous from social and cultural factors. Statesmen and philosophers used to call this "political economy." Political economy looks at economic and political relationships in concert, and it is attentive to how power is exercised. If authoritarianism is the future, there must be a story of its political economy -- how it uses politics and economics to gain and hold power. Yet the rise-of-authoritarianism theorists have less to say about these dynamics.

To be sure, many commentators have discussed populist movements throughout Europe and America, and there has been no shortage of debate on the extent to which a generation of widening economic inequality has been a contributing factor in their rise. But whatever the causes of popular discontent, the policy preferences of the people, and the bloviating rhetoric of leaders, the governments that have emerged from the new populist moment are, to date, not actually pursuing policies that are economically populist.

The better and more useful way to view these regimes -- and the threat to democracy emerging at home and abroad because of them -- is as nationalist oligarchies. Oligarchy means rule by a small number of rich people. In an oligarchy, wealthy elites seek to preserve and extend their wealth and power. In his definitive book titled Oligarchy , Jeffrey Winters calls it "wealth defense." Elites engage in "property defense," protecting what they already have, and "income defense," preserving and extending their ability to hoard more. Importantly, oligarchy as a governing strategy accounts for both politics and economics. Oligarchs use economic power to gain and hold political power and, in turn, use politics to expand their economic power.

Those who worry about the rise of authoritarianism and fear the crisis of democracy are insufficiently focused on economics.

The trouble for oligarchs is that their regime involves rule by a small number of wealthy elites. In even a nominally democratic society, and most countries around the world today are at least that, it should be possible for the much larger majority to overthrow the oligarchy with either the ballot or the bullet. So how can oligarchy persist? This is where both nationalism and authoritarianism come into play. Oligarchies remain in power through two strategies: first, using divide-and-conquer tactics to ensure that a majority doesn't coalesce, and second, by rigging the political system to make it harder for any emerging majority to overthrow them.

The divide-and-conquer strategy is an old one, and it works through a combination of coercion and co-optation. Nationalism -- whether statist, ethnic, religious, or racial -- serves both functions. It aligns a portion of ordinary people with the ruling oligarchy, mobilizing them to support the regime and sacrifice for it. At the same time, it divides society, ensuring that the nationalism-inspired will not join forces with everyone else to overthrow the oligarchs. We thus see fearmongering about minorities and immigrants, and claims that the country belongs only to its "true" people, whom the leaders represent. Activating these emotional, cultural, and political identities makes it harder for citizens in the country to unite across these divides and challenge the regime.

Rigging the system is, in some ways, a more obvious tactic. It means changing the legal rules of the game or shaping the political marketplace to preserve power. Voting restrictions and suppression, gerrymandering, and manipulation of the media are examples. The common theme is that they insulate the minority in power from democracy; they prevent the population from kicking the rulers out through ordinary political means. Tactics like these are not new. They have existed, as Matthew Simonton shows in his book Classical Greek Oligarchy , since at least the time of Pericles and Plato. The consequence, then as now, is that nationalist oligarchies can continue to deliver economic policies to benefit the wealthy and well-connected.

It is worth noting that even the generation that waged war against fascism in Europe understood that the challenge to democracy in their time was not just political, but economic and social as well. They believed that the rise of Nazism was tied to the concentration of economic power in Germany, and that cartels and monopolies not only cooperated with and served the Nazi state, but helped its rise and later sustained it. As New York Congressman Emanuel Celler, one of the authors of the Anti-Merger Act of 1950, said, quoting a report filed by Secretary of War Kenneth Royall, "Germany under the Nazi set-up built up a great series of industrial monopolies in steel, rubber, coal and other materials. The monopolies soon got control of Germany, brought Hitler to power, and forced virtually the whole world into war." After World War II, Marshall Plan experts not only rebuilt Europe but also exported aggressive American antitrust and competition laws to the continent because they believed political democracy was impossible without economic democracy.

Framing today's threat as nationalist oligarchy not only clarifies the challenge but also makes clear how democracy is different -- and what democracy requires. Democracy means more than elections, an independent judiciary, a free press, and various constitutional norms. For democracy to persist, there must also be relative economic equality. If society is deeply unequal economically, the wealthy will dominate politics and transform democracy into an oligarchy. And there must be some degree of social solidarity because, as Lincoln put it, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

We see a number of disturbing signs the United States is breaking down along these dimensions. Electoral losers in places like North Carolina seek to entrench their power rather than accept defeat. The view that money is speech under the First Amendment has unleashed wealthy individuals and corporations to spend as much as they want to influence politics. The "doom loop of oligarchy," as Ezra Klein has called it, is an obvious consequence: The wealthy use their money to influence politics and rig policy to increase their wealth, which in turn increases their capacity to influence politics. Meanwhile, we're increasingly divided into like-minded enclaves, and the result is an ever-more toxic degree of partisanship.

Addressing our domestic economic and social crises is critical to defending democracy, and a grand strategy for America's future must incorporate both domestic and foreign policy. But while many have recognized that reviving America's middle class and re-stitching our social fabric are essential to saving democracy, less attention has been paid to how American foreign policy should be reformed in order to defend democracy from the threat of nationalist oligarchy.

The Varieties of Nationalist Oligarchy

Just as there are many variations on liberal democracy -- the Swedish model, the French model, the American model -- there are many varieties of nationalist oligarchy. The story is different in every country, but the elements of nationalist oligarchy are trending all over the world.

... ... ...

... the European Union funds Hungary's oligarchy, as Orbán draws on EU money to fund about 60 percent of the state projects that support "the new Fidesz-linked business elite." Nor do Orbán and his allies do much to hide the country's crony capitalist model. András Lánczi, president of a Fidesz-affiliated think tank, has boldly stated that "if something is done in the national interest, then it is not corruption." "The new capitalist ruling class," one Hungarian banker comments, "make their money from the government."

The commentator Jan-Werner Müller captures Orbán's Hungary this way: "Power is secured through wide-ranging control of the judiciary and the media; behind much talk of protecting hard-pressed families from multinational corporations, there is crony capitalism, in which one has to be on the right side politically to get ahead economically."

Crony capitalism, coupled with resurgent nationalism and central government control, is also an issue in China. While some commentators have emphasized "state capitalism" -- when government has a significant ownership stake in companies -- this phenomenon is not to be confused with crony capitalism. Some countries with state capitalism, like Norway, are widely seen as extremely non-corrupt and, indeed, are often held up as models of democracy. State capitalism itself is thus not necessarily a problem. Crony capitalism, in contrast, is an "instrumental union between capitalists and politicians designed to allow the former to acquire wealth, legally or otherwise, and the latter to seek and retain power." This is the key difference between state capitalism and oligarchy.

... ... ...

Ganesh Sitaraman is a professor of law and Chancellor's faculty fellow at Vanderbilt Law School, and the author of The Counterinsurgent's Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars and The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens our Republic .

[Mar 01, 2020] Gina Haspel? She is probably equally good with a handgun, an ice pick and a pair of pliers.

Notable quotes:
"... Is she effective? What has she done to make her a spy mastermind? She is obviously a torturer, but is that a qualification in any way useful to be a intelligence agency boss? ..."
"... The outcomes of incompetence and malicious intent are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. ..."
Jan 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

fajensen , , January 14, 2020 at 11:13 am

Gina Haspel? She is probably equally good with a handgun, an ice pick and a pair of pliers.

curious euro , , January 14, 2020 at 11:49 am

Is she effective? What has she done to make her a spy mastermind? She is obviously a torturer, but is that a qualification in any way useful to be a intelligence agency boss?

I have the suspicion Haspel was elevated to their office by threatening "I know where all the bodies are buried (literally) and if you don't make me boss, I will tell". Blackmail can helping a career lots if successful.

Thuto , , January 14, 2020 at 11:18 am

The outcomes of incompetence and malicious intent are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. With the people Trump has surrounded himself with, horrible, nasty outcomes are par for the course because these guys are both incompetent and chock full of malicious intent. Instead of draining the swamp, he's gone and filled it with psychotic sociopaths.

[Feb 29, 2020] Rand Paul says he will oppose John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani for Secretary of State

Notable quotes:
"... "Bolton is a longtime member of the failed Washington elite that Trump vowed to oppose, hell-bent on repeating virtually every foreign policy mistake the U.S. has made in the last 15 years - particularly those Trump promised to avoid as president," ..."
"... "It's important that someone who was an unrepentant advocate for the Iraq War, who didn't learn the lessons of the Iraq War, shouldn't be the secretary of state for a president who says Iraq was ..."
Nov 20, 2016 | rare.us

Senator Rand Paul said Tuesday in an op-ed for Rare that he would oppose President-elect Donald Trump's rumored selection of former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as Secretary of State.

"Bolton is a longtime member of the failed Washington elite that Trump vowed to oppose, hell-bent on repeating virtually every foreign policy mistake the U.S. has made in the last 15 years - particularly those Trump promised to avoid as president,"

Paul wrote citing U.S. interventions in Iraq and Libya that Trump has criticized but that Bolton strongly advocated.

Reports since have indicated that former New York City mayor and loyal Trump ally, Rudy Giuliani is being considered for the post.

The Washington Post's David Weigel reports , "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a newly reelected member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said this morning that he was inclined to oppose either former U.N. ambassador John Bolton or former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani if they were nominated for secretary of state."

"It's important that someone who was an unrepentant advocate for the Iraq War, who didn't learn the lessons of the Iraq War, shouldn't be the secretary of state for a president who says Iraq was a big lesson," Paul told the Post. "Trump said that a thousand times. It would be a huge mistake for him to give over his foreign policy to someone who [supported the war]. I mean, you could not find more unrepentant advocates of regime change."

Related: Rand Paul: Will Donald Trump betray voters by hiring John Bolton?

[Feb 29, 2020] Secret Wars, Forgotten Betrayals, Global Tyranny. Who s Really In Charge Of The US Military by Cynthia Chung

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Thus, it should be no surprise to anyone in the world at this point in history, that the CIA holds no allegiance to any country. And it can be hardly expected that a President, who is actively under attack from all sides within his own country, is in a position to hold the CIA accountable for its past and future crimes ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Cynthia Chung via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

"There is a kind of character in thy life, That to the observer doth thy history, fully unfold."

– William Shakespeare

Once again we find ourselves in a situation of crisis, where the entire world holds its breath all at once and can only wait to see whether this volatile black cloud floating amongst us will breakout into a thunderstorm of nuclear war or harmlessly pass us by. The majority in the world seem to have the impression that this destructive fate totters back and forth at the whim of one man. It is only normal then, that during such times of crisis, we find ourselves trying to analyze and predict the thoughts and motives of just this one person. The assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a true hero for his fellow countrymen and undeniably an essential key figure in combating terrorism in Southwest Asia, was a terrible crime, an abhorrently repugnant provocation. It was meant to cause an apoplectic fervour, it was meant to make us who desire peace, lose our minds in indignation. And therefore, that is exactly what we should not do.

In order to assess such situations, we cannot lose sight of the whole picture, and righteous indignation unfortunately causes the opposite to occur. Our focus becomes narrower and narrower to the point where we can only see or react moment to moment with what is right in front of our face. We are reduced to an obsession of twitter feeds, news blips and the doublespeak of 'official government statements'.

Thus, before we may find firm ground to stand on regarding the situation of today, we must first have an understanding as to what caused the United States to enter into an endless campaign of regime-change warfare after WWII, or as former Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Col. Prouty stated, three decades of the Indochina war.

An Internal Shifting of Chess Pieces in the Shadows

It is interesting timing that on Sept 2, 1945, the very day that WWII ended, Ho Chi Minh would announce the independence of Indochina. That on the very day that one of the most destructive wars to ever occur in history ended, another long war was declared at its doorstep. Churchill would announce his "Iron Curtain" against communism on March 5th, 1946, and there was no turning back at that point. The world had a mere 6 months to recover before it would be embroiled in another terrible war, except for the French, who would go to war against the Viet Minh opponents in French Indochina only days after WWII was over.

In a previous paper I wrote titled "On Churchill's Sinews of Peace" , I went over a major re-organisation of the American government and its foreign intelligence bureau on the onset of Truman's de facto presidency. Recall that there was an attempted military coup d'état, which was exposed by General Butler in a public address in 1933, against the Presidency of FDR who was only inaugurated that year. One could say that there was a very marked disapproval from shadowy corners for how Roosevelt would organise the government.

One key element to this reorganisation under Truman was the dismantling of the previously existing foreign intelligence bureau that was formed by FDR, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) on Sept 20, 1945 only two weeks after WWII was officially declared over. The OSS would be replaced by the CIA officially on Sept 18, 1947, with two years of an American intelligence purge and the internal shifting of chess pieces in the shadows. In addition, de-facto President Truman would also found the United States National Security Council on Sept 18, 1947, the same day he founded the CIA. The NSC was a council whose intended function was to serve as the President's principal arm for coordinating national security, foreign policies and policies among various government agencies.

In Col. Prouty's book he states,

" In 1955, I was designated to establish an office of special operations in compliance with National Security Council (NSC) Directive #5412 of March 15, 1954. This NSC Directive for the first time in the history of the United States defined covert operations and assigned that role to the Central Intelligence Agency to perform such missions , provided they had been directed to do so by the NSC, and further ordered active-duty Armed Forces personnel to avoid such operations. At the same time, the Armed Forces were directed to "provide the military support of the clandestine operations of the CIA" as an official function . "

What this meant, was that there was to be an intermarriage of the foreign intelligence bureau with the military, and that the foreign intelligence bureau would act as top dog in the relationship, only taking orders from the NSC. Though the NSC includes the President, as we will see, the President is very far from being in the position of determining the NSC's policies.

An Inheritance of Secret Wars

" There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare. "

– Sun Tzu

On January 20th, 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as President of the United States. Along with inheriting the responsibility of the welfare of the country and its people, he was to also inherit a secret war with communist Cuba run by the CIA.

JFK was disliked from the onset by the CIA and certain corridors of the Pentagon, they knew where he stood on foreign matters and that it would be in direct conflict for what they had been working towards for nearly 15 years. Kennedy would inherit the CIA secret operation against Cuba, which Prouty confirms in his book, was quietly upgraded by the CIA from the Eisenhower administration's March 1960 approval of a modest Cuban-exile support program (which included small air drop and over-the-beach operations) to a 3,000 man invasion brigade just before Kennedy entered office.

This was a massive change in plans that was determined by neither President Eisenhower, who warned at the end of his term of the military industrial complex as a loose cannon, nor President Kennedy, but rather the foreign intelligence bureau who has never been subject to election or judgement by the people. It shows the level of hostility that Kennedy encountered as soon as he entered office, and the limitations of a President's power when he does not hold support from these intelligence and military quarters.

Within three months into JFK's term, Operation Bay of Pigs (April 17th to 20th 1961) was scheduled. As the popular revisionist history goes; JFK refused to provide air cover for the exiled Cuban brigade and the land invasion was a calamitous failure and a decisive victory for Castro's Cuba. It was indeed an embarrassment for President Kennedy who had to take public responsibility for the failure, however, it was not an embarrassment because of his questionable competence as a leader. It was an embarrassment because, had he not taken public responsibility, he would have had to explain the real reason why it failed. That the CIA and military were against him and that he did not have control over them. If Kennedy were to admit such a thing, he would have lost all credibility as a President in his own country and internationally, and would have put the people of the United States in immediate danger amidst a Cold War.

What really occurred was that there was a cancellation of the essential pre-dawn airstrike, by the Cuban Exile Brigade bombers from Nicaragua, to destroy Castro's last three combat jets. This airstrike was ordered by Kennedy himself. Kennedy was always against an American invasion of Cuba, and striking Castro's last jets by the Cuban Exile Brigade would have limited Castro's threat, without the U.S. directly supporting a regime change operation within Cuba. This went fully against the CIA's plan for Cuba.

Kennedy's order for the airstrike on Castro's jets would be cancelled by Special Assistant for National Security Affairs McGeorge Bundy, four hours before the Exile Brigade's B-26s were to take off from Nicaragua, Kennedy was not brought into this decision. In addition, the Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, the man in charge of the Bay of Pigs operation was unbelievably out of the country on the day of the landings.

Col. Prouty, who was Chief of Special Operations during this time, elaborates on this situation:

" Everyone connected with the planning of the Bay of Pigs invasion knew that the policy dictated by NSC 5412, positively prohibited the utilization of active-duty military personnel in covert operations. At no time was an "air cover" position written into the official invasion plan The "air cover" story that has been created is incorrect. "

As a result, JFK who well understood the source of this fiasco, set up a Cuban Study Group the day after and charged it with the responsibility of determining the cause for the failure of the operation. The study group, consisting of Allen Dulles, Gen. Maxwell Taylor, Adm. Arleigh Burke and Attorney General Robert Kennedy (the only member JFK could trust), concluded that the failure was due to Bundy's telephone call to General Cabell (who was also CIA Deputy Director) that cancelled the President's air strike order.

Kennedy had them.

Humiliatingly, CIA Director Allen Dulles was part of formulating the conclusion that the Bay of Pigs op was a failure because of the CIA's intervention into the President's orders. This allowed for Kennedy to issue the National Security Action Memorandum #55 on June 28th, 1961, which began the process of changing the responsibility from the CIA to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As Prouty states,

" When fully implemented, as Kennedy had planned, after his reelection in 1964, it would have taken the CIA out of the covert operation business. This proved to be one of the first nails in John F. Kennedy's coffin. "

If this was not enough of a slap in the face to the CIA, Kennedy forced the resignation of CIA Director Allen Dulles, CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard M. Bissell Jr. and CIA Deputy Director Charles Cabell.

In Oct 1962, Kennedy was informed that Cuba had offensive Soviet missiles 90 miles from American shores. Soviet ships with more missiles were on their way towards Cuba but ended up turning around last minute. Rumours started to abound that JFK had cut a secret deal with Russian Premier Khrushchev, which was that the U.S. would not invade Cuba if the Soviets withdrew their missiles. Criticisms of JFK being soft on communism began to stir.

NSAM #263, closely overseen by Kennedy, was released on Oct 11th, 1963, and outlined a policy decision " to withdraw 1,000 military personnel [from Vietnam] by the end of 1963 " and further stated that " It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel [including the CIA and military] by 1965. " The Armed Forces newspaper Stars and Stripes had the headline U.S. TROOPS SEEN OUT OF VIET BY '65. Kennedy was winning the game and the American people.

This was to be the final nail in Kennedy's coffin.

Kennedy was brutally shot down only one month later, on Nov, 22nd 1963. His death should not just be seen as a tragic loss but, more importantly, it should be recognised for the successful military coup d'état that it was and is . The CIA showed what lengths it was ready to go to if a President stood in its way. (For more information on this coup refer to District Attorney of New Orleans at the time, Jim Garrison's book . And the excellently researched Oliver Stone movie "JFK")

Through the Looking Glass

On Nov. 26th 1963, a full four days after Kennedy's murder, de facto President Johnson signed NSAM #273 to begin the change of Kennedy's policy under #263. And on March 4th, 1964, Johnson signed NSAM #288 that marked the full escalation of the Vietnam War and involved 2,709,918 Americans directly serving in Vietnam, with 9,087,000 serving with the U.S. Armed Forces during this period.

The Vietnam War, or more accurately the Indochina War, would continue for another 12 years after Kennedy's death, lasting a total of 20 years for Americans.

Scattered black ops wars continued, but the next large scale-never ending war that would involve the world would begin full force on Sept 11, 2001 under the laughable title War on Terror, which is basically another Iron Curtain, a continuation of a 74 year Cold War. A war that is not meant to end until the ultimate regime changes are accomplished and the world sees the toppling of Russia and China. Iraq was destined for invasion long before the vague Gulf War of 1990 and even before Saddam Hussein was being backed by the Americans in the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s. Iran already suffered a CIA backed regime change in 1979.

It had been understood far in advance by the CIA and US military that the toppling of sovereignty in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran needed to occur before Russia and China could be taken over. Such war tactics were formulaic after 3 decades of counterinsurgency against the CIA fueled "communist-insurgency" of Indochina. This is how today's terrorist-inspired insurgency functions, as a perfect CIA formula for an endless bloodbath.

Former CIA Deputy Director (2010-2013) Michael Morell, who was supporting Hillary Clinton during the presidential election campaign and vehemently against the election of Trump, whom he claimed was being manipulated by Putin, said in a 2016 interview with Charlie Rose that Russians and Iranians in Syria should be killed covertly to 'pay the price' .

Therefore, when a drone stroke occurs assassinating an Iranian Maj. Gen., even if the U.S. President takes onus on it, I would not be so quick as to believe that that is necessarily the case, or the full story. Just as I would not take the statements of President Rouhani accepting responsibility for the Iranian military shooting down 'by accident' the Boeing 737-800 plane which contained 176 civilians, who were mostly Iranian, as something that can be relegated to criminal negligence, but rather that there is very likely something else going on here.

I would also not be quick to dismiss the timely release, or better described as leaked, draft letter from the US Command in Baghdad to the Iraqi government that suggests a removal of American forces from the country. Its timing certainly puts the President in a compromised situation. Though the decision to keep the American forces within Iraq or not is hardly a simple matter that the President alone can determine. In fact there is no reason why, after reviewing the case of JFK, we should think such a thing.

One could speculate that the President was set up, with the official designation of the IRGC as "terrorist" occurring in April 2019 by the US State Department, a decision that was strongly supported by both Bolton and Pompeo, who were both members of the NSC at the time. This made it legal for a US military drone strike to occur against Soleimani under the 2001 AUMF, where the US military can attack any armed group deemed to be a terrorist threat. Both Bolton and Pompeo made no secret that they were overjoyed by Soleimani's assassination and Bolton went so far as to tweet "Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran." Bolton has also made it no secret that he is eager to testify against Trump in his possible impeachment trial.

Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo was recorded at an unknown conference recently, but judging from the gross laughter of the audience it consists of wannabe CIA agents, where he admits that though West Points' cadet motto is "You will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.", his training under the CIA was the very opposite, stating " I was the CIA Director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It was like we had entire training courses. (long pause) It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment. "

Thus, it should be no surprise to anyone in the world at this point in history, that the CIA holds no allegiance to any country. And it can be hardly expected that a President, who is actively under attack from all sides within his own country, is in a position to hold the CIA accountable for its past and future crimes .

Tags Politics War Conflict


ThomasChase1776 , 3 minutes ago link

General Smedley Butler had an answer. Read his book.

https://www.americanswhotellthetruth.org/portraits/major-general-smedley-butler

Is-Be , 8 minutes ago link

Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a true hero for his fellow countrymen

All his countrymen?

Element , 15 minutes ago link

Who's Really In Charge Of The US Military? - Cynthia Chung via The Strategic Culture Foundation

Donald Trump, you stupid time-wasting twat .

ThomasChase1776 , 5 minutes ago link

LOL. That's a good one.

Assuming Trump is doing what he said he would, why isn't our military guarding our border?
Why hasn't our military left the middle east already?

Who really runs our government?

InTheLandOfTheBlind , 1 hour ago link

As much as I hate the CIA, mi6 had more of hand in overthrowing iran than Langley did

ThomasChase1776 , 4 minutes ago link

Is that supposed to be an excuse?

GRDguy , 1 hour ago link

". . . the CIA holds no allegiance to any country." But they sure kiss the *** of the financial sociopaths who write their paychecks and finance the black ops.

ThomasChase1776 , 4 minutes ago link

and Mossad

Slaytheist , 1 hour ago link

Does this bitch not know that the CIA is the currency mafia police....ffs, that's a **** ton of words.

oneno , 1 hour ago link

She knows ...

SRV , 1 hour ago link

Fletcher Prouty's book The Secret Team is a must read... he was on the inside and watched the formation of the permanent team established in the late 50s that assumed the power of the president.

JFK fought that team...

cynicalskeptic , 1 hour ago link

Look at who the OSS recruited - Ivy League Skull and Bones types from rich families that made their fortunes in often questionable ventures.

If you're the patriarch of some super wealthy family wouldn't you be thrilled to have younger family members working for the nation's intelligence agencies? Sort of the ultimate in 'inside information'. Plus these families had experience in things like drug smuggling, human trafficking and anything else you can imagine..... While the Brits started the opium trade with China, Americans jumped right in bringing opium from Turkey.

Didn't take long before the now CIA became owned by the families whose members staffed it.

InTheLandOfTheBlind , 43 minutes ago link

Again ignoring the British influence. The CIA does not have a monopoly on intelligence

Spiritual Anunnaki , 2 hours ago link

One major aspect pertaining American involvment in Veitnam was something like 90% of the rubber produced Globally came from the region.

It is more diverse now, being 3rd, with the association revealing that in 2017, Vietnam earned US$2.3 billion from export of 1.4 million tonnes of natural rubber, up 36% in value and 11.4% in volume year on year.

Haboob , 2 hours ago link

Fighting for rubber monopoly in Vietnam,fighting for oil monopoly in the middle east.

That's life.

Benito_Camela , 1 hour ago link

Gunboat diplomacy is nothing new. War is and always has been a racket.

InTheLandOfTheBlind , 38 minutes ago link

Unfortunately it is a winning racket.

Art_Vandelay , 2 hours ago link

Betrayals, secrets, tyranny? Who's in charge? **** Cheney & Co.

Benito_Camela , 1 hour ago link

Mike Pimpeo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPt-zXn05ac

InTheLandOfTheBlind , 36 minutes ago link

The British crown

Kan , 2 hours ago link

Rockfellers formed the OSS then the CIA which is the brute force for the CFR which they also run and own. The bankers run y our country and bought and blackmailed all your politicians... Only buttplug and pedo's get to be in charge now folks.... and some 9th circle witches of course...

TeethVillage88s , 1 hour ago link

OSS & CIA were formed from Ivy League Schools/Uni's... who turned out to be Traitors to England & USSR... Same today I

[Feb 29, 2020] Learning Nothing From the Ghost of Congress Past by Andrew J. Bacevich

The USA is an imperial country. And wars is how empire is sustained and expanded. Bacevich does not even mention this fact.
Notable quotes:
"... While perfunctory congressional hearings may yet occur, a meaningful response -- one that would demand accountability, for example -- is about as likely as a bipartisan resolution to the impeachment crisis. ..."
"... This implicit willingness to write off a costly, unwinnable, and arguably unnecessary war should itself prompt sober reflection. What we have here is a demonstration of how pervasive and deeply rooted American militarism has become. ..."
"... we have become a nation given to misusing military power, abusing American soldiers, and averting our gaze from the results. ..."
"... The impeachment hearings were probably the reason the WaPo published when it did. After all, the article tells us little that any semi-sentient observer hasn't known for over a decade now. ..."
"... Then, today, we have another American trooper killed in Afghanistan, with many Afghans. Then, we have Trump, jutting his jaw out, as usual, to show how tough he is and...by golly, how tough America is. How patriotic! Damn it! Rah rah. He pardons and receives a war criminal at the white house, one of those Seals that murdered Afghans. ..."
"... By military standards, there is supposed to be rules of engagement and punishment for outright breaking of such rules. But no, Trump is one ignorant, cold dude and the misery in numerous US invaded nations means nothing to this bum with a title and money ..."
"... Were our senior government leaders more familiar with military service, especially as front line soldiers, they might have been less inclined to dawdle in these matters, agree with obfuscated results for political reasons, and waste so much effort. ..."
Dec 23, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Afghanistan Papers could have been the start of redemption, but it's all been subsumed by impeachment and an uninterested public.

....

While perfunctory congressional hearings may yet occur, a meaningful response -- one that would demand accountability, for example -- is about as likely as a bipartisan resolution to the impeachment crisis.

This implicit willingness to write off a costly, unwinnable, and arguably unnecessary war should itself prompt sober reflection. What we have here is a demonstration of how pervasive and deeply rooted American militarism has become.

Take seriously the speechifying heard on the floor of the House of Representatives in recent days and you'll be reassured that the United States remains a nation of laws, with Democrats and Republicans alike affirming their determination to defend our democracy and preserve the Constitution, even while disagreeing on what that might require at present.

Take seriously the contents of the Afghanistan Papers and you'll reach a different conclusion: we have become a nation given to misusing military power, abusing American soldiers, and averting our gaze from the results. U.S. military expenditures and the Pentagon's array of foreign bases far exceed those of any other nation on the planet. In our willingness to use force, we (along with Israel) lead the pack. Putative adversaries such as China and Russia are models of self-restraint by comparison. And when it comes to cumulative body count, the United States is in a league of its own.

Yet since the end of the Cold War and especially since 9/11, U.S. forces have rarely accomplished the purposes for which they are committed, the Pentagon concealing failure by downsizing its purposes. Afghanistan offers a good example. What began as Operation Enduring Freedom has become in all but name Operation Decent Interval, the aim being to disengage in a manner that will appear responsible, if only for a few years until the bottom falls out.

So the real significance of the Post 's Afghanistan Papers is this: t hey invite Americans to contemplate a particularly vivid example what our misplaced infatuation with military power produces. Sadly, it appears evident that we will refuse the invitation. Don't blame Trump for this particular example of Washington's egregious irresponsibility.

Andrew Bacevich is president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His new book, The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory , will be published next month.


Sid Finster a day ago
The impeachment hearings were probably the reason the WaPo published when it did. After all, the article tells us little that any semi-sentient observer hasn't known for over a decade now.

Anyway, nobody likes a bipartisan fiasco that cannot be neatly blamed on Team R (or Team D).

John Achterhof Sid Finster 12 hours ago
Just give credit where it is due: the Post's reporting on the Afghanistan Papers is journalism at its very best.
Fayez Abedaziz 21 hours ago
Then, today, we have another American trooper killed in Afghanistan, with many Afghans. Then, we have Trump, jutting his jaw out, as usual, to show how tough he is and...by golly, how tough America is. How patriotic! Damn it! Rah rah. He pardons and receives a war criminal at the white house, one of those Seals that murdered Afghans.

By military standards, there is supposed to be rules of engagement and punishment for outright breaking of such rules. But no, Trump is one ignorant, cold dude and the misery in numerous US invaded nations means nothing to this bum with a title and money. What a joke this nations foreign policy is and the ignorant, don't care American people have become. Like never before. There were years when people actually talked about subjects. Not now, if you mention the weather they cower and look pained. The old days really were better.

One example aside from the above: compare President Kennedy to Trump. What a riot...

polistra24 21 hours ago
Well, these documents are highly unsurprising. Everybody has known the facts for a long time. Everybody also knows that the US "government" will not change its ways. Its sole purpose and mission is to obliterate everything except Israel, and these documents are evidence of massive SUCCESS in its mission, not evidence of failure.
Richard 13 hours ago
When the troops start to mutiny, the war will end.
Marcus 9 hours ago
Were our senior government leaders more familiar with military service, especially as front line soldiers, they might have been less inclined to dawdle in these matters, agree with obfuscated results for political reasons, and waste so much effort.

This is also to say that misleading documents and briefings from the military about progress in Afghanistan, while contemptible, did not cause the strategic failure. Contemporary reports from the press and other agencies indicated the effort was not working out plainly to anyone who wanted to pay attention. Our political leaders chose to ignore the truth for political gain.

A more realistic temperament chastened by experience would have been more inclined to criticize and make corrections, and summon the courage to cut our losses rather than crow ignominiously about "cutting and running." Few such temperaments, it seems at least, make it to the top thee days.

[Feb 29, 2020] A very interesting and though provoking presentation by Ambassador Chas Freeman "America in Distress: The Challenges of Disadvantageous Change"

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... the American-led takedown of the post-World War II international system has shattered long-standing rules and norms of behavior. ..."
"... The combination of disorder at home and abroad is spawning changes that are increasingly disadvantageous to the United States. With Congress having essentially walked off the job, there is a need for America's universities to provide the information and analysis of international best practices that the political system does not. ..."
Feb 29, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 29, 2020 7:38 pm

A very interesting and though provoking presentation by Ambassador Chas Freeman "America in Distress: The Challenges of Disadvantageous Change"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvILLCbOFo4

I think this would be very informative for anybody seriously interested in the USA foreign policy. Listening to him is so sad to realize that instead of person of his caliber we have Pompous Pompeo, who forever is frozen on the level of a tank repair mechanical engineer, as the Secretary of State.

Published on Feb 24, 2020

In the United States and other democracies, political and economic systems still work in theory, but not in practice. Meanwhile, the American-led takedown of the post-World War II international system has shattered long-standing rules and norms of behavior.

The combination of disorder at home and abroad is spawning changes that are increasingly disadvantageous to the United States. With Congress having essentially walked off the job, there is a need for America's universities to provide the information and analysis of international best practices that the political system does not.

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. is a senior fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, ambassador to Saudi Arabia (during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Chargé d'affaires at both Bangkok and Beijing. He began his diplomatic career in India but specialized in Chinese affairs. (He was the principal American interpreter during President Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972.)

Ambassador Freeman is a much sought-after public speaker (see http://chasfreeman.net ) and the author of several well-received books on statecraft and diplomacy. His most recent book, America's Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East was published in May 2016. Interesting Times: China, America, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige, appeared in March 2013. America's Misadventures in the Middle East came out in 2010, as did the most recent revision of The Diplomat's Dictionary, the companion volume to Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy. He was the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on "diplomacy."

Chas Freeman studied at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and in Taiwan, and earned an AB magna cum laude from Yale University as well as a JD from the Harvard Law School.

He chairs Projects International, Inc., a Washington-based firm that for more than three decades has helped its American and foreign clients create ventures across borders, facilitating their establishment of new businesses through the design, negotiation, capitalization, and implementation of greenfield investments, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, franchises, one-off transactions, sales and agencies in other countries.

He is the author of several books including the most recent

Interesting times: China, America, and the shifting balance of prestige (2013)

[Feb 29, 2020] Pompeo lies and smokescreen

Pompeo has just four terms in the House of Representives befor getting postions of Director of CIA (whichsuggests previous involvement with CIA) and then paradoxically the head of the State Department, He retired from the alry in the rank of comptain and never participated in any battles. He serves only in Germany, and this can be classified as a chickenhawk. He never performed any dyplomatic duries in hs life and a large part of his adult life (1998-2006) was a greddy military contractor.
Jan 07, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Agnes Callamard tweeted,

#Pentagon statement on targeted killing of #suleimani :

1. It mentions that it aimed at "deterring future Iranian attack plans". This however is very vague. Future is not the same as imminent which is the time based test required under international law. (1)

-- Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) January 3, 2020

2. Overall, the statement places far greater emphasis on past activities and violations allegedly commuted by Suleimani. As such the killing appears far more retaliatory for past acts than anticipatory for imminent self defense.

-- Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) January 3, 2020

3. The notion that Suleimani was "actively developing plans" is curious both from a semantic and military standpoint. Is it sufficient to meet the test of mecessity and proportionality?

-- Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) January 3, 2020

4. The statement fails to mention the other individuals killed alongside Suleimani. Collateral? Probably. Unlawful. Absolutely.

-- Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) January 3, 2020

[Feb 28, 2020] Chas Freeman America in Distress The Challenges of Disadvantageous Change

Highly recommended!
I think everybody should listen the initial 47 minutes
Notable quotes:
"... Wanted to add that the malaise that is gripping the U.S. institutions is completely visible, it is not the opaque and obsequies portrait drawn by the punditry, news organizations, and elites. Seems most obvious to those of us outside the beltway that can clearly delineate between the failure of DC and the projections and marketing to the population that passes as wonky prose. Stupidity lacks the clarity, but brings the temerity making the facade not so subtle. ..."
"... Literally the only endorsement I've heard of Tulsi Gabbard - and a strikingly convincing one ..."
"... Isn't it just a question of the profits in the military business? ..."
Feb 24, 2020 | www.youtube.com

https://youtu.be/mvILLCbOFo4

In the United States and other democracies, political and economic systems still work in theory, but not in practice. Meanwhile, the American-led takedown of the post-World War II international system has shattered long-standing rules and norms of behavior. The combination of disorder at home and abroad is spawning changes that are increasingly disadvantageous to the United States. With Congress having essentially walked off the job, there is a need for America's universities to provide the information and analysis of international best practices that the political system does not.

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. is a senior fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, ambassador to Saudi Arabia (during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Chargé d'affaires at both Bangkok and Beijing. He began his diplomatic career in India but specialized in Chinese affairs. (He was the principal American interpreter during President Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972.)

Ambassador Freeman is a much sought-after public speaker (see http://chasfreeman.net ) and the author of several well-received books on statecraft and diplomacy. His most recent book, America's Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East was published in May 2016. Interesting Times: China, America, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige, appeared in March 2013. America's Misadventures in the Middle East came out in 2010, as did the most recent revision of The Diplomat's Dictionary, the companion volume to Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy. He was the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on "diplomacy."

Chas Freeman studied at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and in Taiwan, and earned an AB magna cum laude from Yale University as well as a JD from the Harvard Law School. He chairs Projects International, Inc., a Washington-based firm that for more than three decades has helped its American and foreign clients create ventures across borders, facilitating their establishment of new businesses through the design, negotiation, capitalization, and implementation of greenfield investments, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, franchises, one-off transactions, sales and agencies in other countries.


Trade Prosper , 3 days ago (edited)

Well worth the watch and hope more see it, especially the presentation in the initial 47 minutes. We Americans take our deficits and the $ as the reserve currency far too lightly.

strezztechnoid , 2 days ago

Wanted to add that the malaise that is gripping the U.S. institutions is completely visible, it is not the opaque and obsequies portrait drawn by the punditry, news organizations, and elites. Seems most obvious to those of us outside the beltway that can clearly delineate between the failure of DC and the projections and marketing to the population that passes as wonky prose. Stupidity lacks the clarity, but brings the temerity making the facade not so subtle.

yes it's me , 3 days ago

Literally the only endorsement I've heard of Tulsi Gabbard - and a strikingly convincing one

Bob Trajkoski , 3 days ago

Way the US is Warmongering state and threat to humanity, on the planet.? Nukes in the hand's of gangsters

strezztechnoid , 2 days ago (edited)

No, not mercenaries, this is a protection racket. The U.N. address in late 2018 by the President (the laughter spoke volumes) was about as insightful as a "goodfellas" scene where the shakedown of the little guy is highlighted. It was the speeches by other countries at the meeting that was most informative.

A definitive pullback from U.S. hegemony was palpable, real, and un-moderated. Large and small countries all expressed an unwillingness to be held under the thumb of the global bully. This is the result of having an over abundance of a particle within D.C.; not the electron, photon, or neutron...but the moron.

Frank , 3 days ago

Aura of imperial purpose.

Dan Good , 7 hours ago

Isn't it just a question of the profits in the military business?

[Feb 28, 2020] Russia s Relationship With China Is Growing Despite Setbacks by Lyle J. Goldstein ,

Highly recommended!
Feb 23, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

Russia has closed major border crossings with China across the Far East due to the rapid spread of coronavirus. That constitutes a significant blow to a trading relationship that had only just begun to fully blossom. The closures come just as new auto and rail bridges spanning the Amur River are finally reaching completion.

The primary line of debate among Russia-China relations analysts is whether the "rapprochement" is robust and tending toward even a genuine alliance or whether it is weak and has little to show for decades of cooperation other than a few rhetorical flourishes. After all, the skeptics note, if this bilateral relationship is so robust, then why did it take so long to get those bridges built?

The China-Russia trading relationship does indeed remain underdeveloped and will evidently face additional headwinds in the near future (along with all of China's trading relationships, so it seems). But the importance of security ties can hardly be disputed, especially if one takes the long view. Could China have fought the United States to a stalemate in the Korean War without Soviet military assistance? Not a chance. More recently, Russia's sale of high-tech air and naval weaponry during the 1990s and 2000s created a solid foundation for today's muscle-bound dragon with both claws (DF-26) and sharp fangs (e.g. YJ-18). But will it go further?

A tantalizing hint was offered by Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Valdai Conference in early October 2019. During his remarks, he dropped the following bombshell: "I probably won't open a big secret. It'll become clear anyhow. We are now helping our Chinese partners to create a missile attack warning system. This is a very serious thing, which will increase the defense capability of the People's Republic of China in a fundamental way. Because now only the USA and Russia have such a system [Большой тайны, наверно, не открою. Все равно это станет ясно. Мы сейчас помогаем нашим китайским партнерам создать систему СПРН – систему предупреждения о ракетном нападении. Это очень серьезная вещь, которая капитальным, кардинальным образом повысит обороноспособность Китайской Народной Республики. Потому что сейчас такую систему имеют только США и Россия]." This seemingly major step forward in Russia-China military cooperation demands greater scrutiny. It also provides an interesting opportunity to gauge opinion among Russian strategists regarding the long-term viability of a close military partnership with the Middle Kingdom.

One impressively comprehensive Russian appraisal begins by stating that "Russia had to look for various options for answering Washington's actions" to withdraw from the INF Treaty. The same article notes somewhat ominously that the United States is preparing in case of "accidental nuclear war with Russia." Employing the Russian acronym "SPRN" literally "warning systems against rocket attack [системы предупреждения о ракетном нападении]" for early warning system, this assessment also makes the important point that Russia's SPRN has only recently completed a long process of upgrades meant to fill "gaps [разрывы]" caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, when key facilities for early warning were located in non-Russian parts of the USSR.

The article quotes one Moscow defense expert, Igor Korotchenko [Игор Коротченко], as offering the following assessment: "This is really a huge contribution of Russia to strategic stability, since China receives a powerful tool in order not to become a victim of the first disarming blow from the United States." Another Russian expert, Konstantin Sivkov [Константин Сивков], maintained that this move would enhance "global stability" but also articulated some concern with respect to Russia's long-term interests. "When China has at its disposal all the technologies that Russia has at its disposal, or creates similar ones, it will cease to need Russia as a defender," Sivkov said. "And this could adversely affect Russian-Chinese relations." Korotchenko, however, is more bullish on the long-term prospects for the defense relationship with Beijing. He underlined the commercial prospects for Russian companies, and added that the early warning initiative will "contribute to the further rapprochement of Russia and China, building a common security policy [поспособствует дальнейшему сближению России и Китая, выстраиванию общей политики в области безопасности]."

That's an interesting disagreement among Russian security specialists, for sure, but another rather significant observation regarding these developments was offered in this same article by the former deputy commander of Russia's air defense command, Alexander Luzan [Александр Лузан]. He contends that Russia will benefit from the enhanced cooperation with Beijing on an early warning. Luzan explains that the ground components of Russia's SPRN are comprised of []long range "Voronezh" [Воронеж] radars that can see out four thousand to six thousand kilometers to detect ICBM launches. Short-range "Sunflower [Подсолнухи]" radars are more suitable for warning of short-range launches, but also offer ship-detection capabilities. Directly reflecting on operational advantages for the Russian military, Luzan observes: "Vladivostok and Primorye are protected here, but there is nothing 'in depth.' We once tried to deploy our facilities in Mongolia, but it didn't work out very well. Therefore, if the Chinese close this 'tongue,' it will be very important for Russia [Владивосток и Приморье у нас защищены, а 'в глубину' там ничего нет. Мы когда-то в Монголии пытались разместить свои комплексы, но не очень получилось. Потому если китайцы этот 'язычок' закроют, то для России это будет очень важно]." Again citing this Russian general, the article states that "a unified information space is created and data is exchanged with Chinese radars, [and therefore] 'the security of our country from the east will be even better.'"

Such interpretations are generally in accord with the analysis of Vladimir Petrovsky [Владимир Петровский,], a senior fellow and military specialist at Moscow's Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This analyst writes that many believe that Putin's announcement of this strategic cooperation initiative at Valdai signals that "the military alliance between Russia and China . . . has finally become real." Petrovsky also notes that other specialists have begun to speculate on the meaning of a "retaliatory strike" under such circumstances, wherein the early warning is relayed by a third country. He quotes the Russian president (speaking at Valdai) further on the matter of motives for new missile deployments in the Asia-Pacific region: "we suddenly heard from the American military that the first step in this direction would be taken just in Asia. But that step also impacts on us, because we need to understand: where in Asia, will Russian territory be endangered or not? By the way, it's immediately clear what was the root cause of the exit: not Russia and not mythical violations of the [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty by us. If they are going to put [U.S. missiles] in Asia, then Asia is the primary reason for withdrawing from this Treaty [вдруг услышали от американских военных, что первый шаг в этом направлении будет сделан как раз в Азии. Но он и нас затрагивает, потому что надо понять: где в Азии, будет доставать это российскую территорию или нет? Кстати говоря, сразу понятно, что было первопричиной выхода: не Россия и не мифические нарушения нами Договора. Если они собираются ставить в Азии, то Азия и является первопричиной выхода из этого Договора]." In other words, Putin's announcement of this initiative to accelerate military cooperation with China is intended, in part, as a response to the United States' move to exit the INF accord.

Strongly hinting that Beijing might well gain access to Russian early-warning radars based in the Arctic, Petrovsky observes, "Taking into account geography, it is quite possible to develop protocols for the exchange of data between national SPRN." He further contends that this early warning cooperation will be "mutually beneficial and not without compensation [эта помощь -- взаимовыгодная и небезвозмездная]." This military expert explains that China still can learn from Russian radar proficiency, but also implies that the Russian side may gain some advantages from China's evident prowess in microelectronics, for example. Moreover, he suggests, "a possible Chinese satellite constellation could be a good addition to Russian orbital facilities." Still, Petrovsky concludes that Russia and China "are not creating a military-political alliance. It is rather a matter of coordinating the military policies." Playing down the significance of this new initiative, this specialist also notes that Russia and China have been holding annual ballistic missile defense command and staff exercises for about a decade already.

[Feb 16, 2020] An Illegal Assassination and the Lawless President by Daniel Larison

Highly recommended!
Feb 15, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Trump administration's legal justification for the Soleimani assassination is as preposterous as you would expect it to be:

The White House delivered its legal justification for the January airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, arguing that President Donald Trump was authorized to take the action under the Constitution and 2002 legislation authorizing the Iraq war.

The administration is no longer pretending that the assassination had anything to do with stopping an "imminent" attack. They no longer claim that this is why the assassination was ordered. That by itself is a remarkable admission of the illegality of the strike. If there was no "imminent" attack, the U.S. was taking aggressive action against a high-ranking official from another country. There is no plausible case to be made that this was an act of self-defense. Not only did the president lack the authority to do this on his own, but it would have been illegal under international law even if he had received approval from Congress before doing it. The administration spent weeks hiding behind the "imminent" attack lie because without it there was no justification for what they did.

Abandoning the "imminent" attack claim also means that the administration is trying to lower the bar for carrying out future strikes against Iran and its proxies. Ryan Goodman points this out in his analysis of the administration's statements:

The absence of an imminent threat is relevant not only to the legal and policy basis for the strike on Jan. 2. It is also relevant for potential future military action. The administration's position appears to boil down to an assertion that it can use military force against Iran without going to Congress even if responding to a threat from Iran that is not urgent or otherwise imminent.

In short, Trump and his officials want to make it easier for them to commit acts of war against both Iran and Iraqi militias.

Trying to distort the 2002 Iraq war AUMF to cover the assassination of an Iranian official just because he happened to be in Iraq at the time is ridiculous. Congress passed the disgraceful 2002 AUMF to give George W. Bush approval to attack and overthrow the Iraqi government. That did not and does not give later presidents carte blanche to use force in Iraq in perpetuity whenever they feel like it. The fact that they are resorting to such an obviously absurd argument shows that they know they don't have a leg to stand on. The Soleimani strike was illegal and unconstitutional, and there is not really any question about it. The administration's own justification condemns them.

The president's lawlessness in matters of war underscores why it is necessary for Congress to reassert its proper constitutional role. The Senate passed S.J.Res. 68, the Tim Kaine-sponsored war powers resolution, by a vote of 55-45 to make clear that the president does not have authorization for any further military action against Iran:

In a bipartisan rebuke of President Trump on Thursday, a Senate majority voted 55 to 45 to block the president from taking further military action against Iran -- unless first authorized by Congress. Eight GOP senators joined every Democrat to protest the president's decision to kill a top Iranian commander without complying with the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

The president has already said that he will veto the resolution, just as he vetoed the antiwar Yemen resolution last year. He is proving once again beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has no respect for the Constitution or Congress' role in matters of war.


Begemot 16 hours ago

[Trump] is proving once again beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has no respect for the Constitution or Congress' role in matters of war.

Indeed he is. But when was the last President the US had who truly respected either one?

kouroi 12 hours ago
What is the role of the Supreme Court in this and why nobody is taking that route, given that the US has signed the UN Charter, to get a judicial review and sanction of president's actions?
SueLynns Jem an hour ago
I've been hearing this all my life. It ain't going to happen. The Constitution is broken, and can't be fixed

[Feb 09, 2020] The Deeper Story Behind The Assassination Of Soleimani

Highly recommended!
Looks like the end of Full Spectrum Dominance the the USA enjoyed since 1991. Alliance of Iran, Russia and China (with Turkey and Pakistan as two possible members) is serious military competitor and while the USA has its set of trump cards, the military victory against such an alliance no longer guaranteed.
Jan 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Days after the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, new and important information is coming to light from a speech given by the Iraqi prime minister. The story behind Soleimani's assassination seems to go much deeper than what has thus far been reported, involving Saudi Arabia and China as well the US dollar's role as the global reserve currency .

The Iraqi prime minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, has revealed details of his interactions with Trump in the weeks leading up to Soleimani's assassination in a speech to the Iraqi parliament. He tried to explain several times on live television how Washington had been browbeating him and other Iraqi members of parliament to toe the American line, even threatening to engage in false-flag sniper shootings of both protesters and security personnel in order to inflame the situation, recalling similar modi operandi seen in Cairo in 2009, Libya in 2011, and Maidan in 2014. The purpose of such cynicism was to throw Iraq into chaos.

Here is the reconstruction of the story:

[Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Iraq] Halbousi attended the parliamentary session while almost none of the Sunni members did. This was because the Americans had learned that Abdul-Mehdi was planning to reveal sensitive secrets in the session and sent Halbousi to prevent this. Halbousi cut Abdul-Mehdi off at the commencement of his speech and then asked for the live airing of the session to be stopped. After this, Halbousi together with other members, sat next to Abdul-Mehdi, speaking openly with him but without it being recorded. This is what was discussed in that session that was not broadcast:

Abdul-Mehdi spoke angrily about how the Americans had ruined the country and now refused to complete infrastructure and electricity grid projects unless they were promised 50% of oil revenues, which Abdul-Mehdi refused.

The complete (translated) words of Abdul-Mahdi's speech to parliament:

This is why I visited China and signed an important agreement with them to undertake the construction instead. Upon my return, Trump called me to ask me to reject this agreement. When I refused, he threatened to unleash huge demonstrations against me that would end my premiership.

Huge demonstrations against me duly materialized and Trump called again to threaten that if I did not comply with his demands, then he would have Marine snipers on tall buildings target protesters and security personnel alike in order to pressure me.

I refused again and handed in my resignation. To this day the Americans insist on us rescinding our deal with the Chinese.

After this, when our Minister of Defense publicly stated that a third party was targeting both protestors and security personnel alike (just as Trump had threatened he would do), I received a new call from Trump threatening to kill both me and the Minister of Defense if we kept on talking about this "third party".

Nobody imagined that the threat was to be applied to General Soleimani, but it was difficult for Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to reveal the weekslong backstory behind the terrorist attack.

I was supposed to meet him [Soleimani] later in the morning when he was killed. He came to deliver a message from Iran in response to the message we had delivered to the Iranians from the Saudis.

We can surmise, judging by Saudi Arabia's reaction , that some kind of negotiation was going on between Tehran and Riyadh:

The Kingdom's statement regarding the events in Iraq stresses the Kingdom's view of the importance of de-escalation to save the countries of the region and their people from the risks of any escalation.

Above all, the Saudi Royal family wanted to let people know immediately that they had not been informed of the US operation:

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not consulted regarding the US strike. In light of the rapid developments, the Kingdom stresses the importance of exercising restraint to guard against all acts that may lead to escalation, with severe consequences.

And to emphasize his reluctance for war, Mohammad bin Salman sent a delegation to the United States. Liz Sly , the Washington Post Beirut bureau chief, tweated:

Saudi Arabia is sending a delegation to Washington to urge restraint with Iran on behalf of [Persian] Gulf states. The message will be: 'Please spare us the pain of going through another war'.

What clearly emerges is that the success of the operation against Soleimani had nothing to do with the intelligence gathering of the US or Israel. It was known to all and sundry that Soleimani was heading to Baghdad in a diplomatic capacity that acknowledged Iraq's efforts to mediate a solution to the regional crisis with Saudi Arabia.

It would seem that the Saudis, Iranians and Iraqis were well on the way towards averting a regional conflict involving Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Riyadh's reaction to the American strike evinced no public joy or celebration. Qatar, while not seeing eye to eye with Riyadh on many issues, also immediately expressed solidarity with Tehran, hosting a meeting at a senior government level with Mohammad Zarif Jarif, the Iranian foreign minister. Even Turkey and Egypt , when commenting on the asassination, employed moderating language.

This could reflect a fear of being on the receiving end of Iran's retaliation. Qatar, the country from which the drone that killed Soleimani took off, is only a stone's throw away from Iran, situated on the other side of the Strait of Hormuz. Riyadh and Tel Aviv, Tehran's regional enemies, both know that a military conflict with Iran would mean the end of the Saudi royal family.

When the words of the Iraqi prime minister are linked back to the geopolitical and energy agreements in the region, then the worrying picture starts to emerge of a desperate US lashing out at a world turning its back on a unipolar world order in favor of the emerging multipolar about which I have long written .

The US, now considering itself a net energy exporter as a result of the shale-oil revolution (on which the jury is still out), no longer needs to import oil from the Middle East. However, this does not mean that oil can now be traded in any other currency other than the US dollar.

The petrodollar is what ensures that the US dollar retains its status as the global reserve currency, granting the US a monopolistic position from which it derives enormous benefits from playing the role of regional hegemon.

This privileged position of holding the global reserve currency also ensures that the US can easily fund its war machine by virtue of the fact that much of the world is obliged to buy its treasury bonds that it is simply able to conjure out of thin air. To threaten this comfortable arrangement is to threaten Washington's global power.

Even so, the geopolitical and economic trend is inexorably towards a multipolar world order, with China increasingly playing a leading role, especially in the Middle East and South America.

Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia together make up the overwhelming majority of oil and gas reserves in the world. The first three have an elevated relationship with Beijing and are very much in the multipolar camp, something that China and Russia are keen to further consolidate in order to ensure the future growth for the Eurasian supercontinent without war and conflict.

Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is pro-US but could gravitate towards the Sino-Russian camp both militarily and in terms of energy. The same process is going on with Iraq and Qatar thanks to Washington's numerous strategic errors in the region starting from Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 and Syria and Yemen in recent years.

The agreement between Iraq and China is a prime example of how Beijing intends to use the Iraq-Iran-Syria troika to revive the Middle East and and link it to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.

While Doha and Riyadh would be the first to suffer economically from such an agreement, Beijing's economic power is such that, with its win-win approach, there is room for everyone.

Saudi Arabia provides China with most of its oil and Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, supply China with most of its LNG needs, which lines up with Xi Jinping's 2030 vision that aims to greatly reduce polluting emissions.

The US is absent in this picture, with little ability to influence events or offer any appealing economic alternatives.

Washington would like to prevent any Eurasian integration by unleashing chaos and destruction in the region, and killing Soleimani served this purpose. The US cannot contemplate the idea of the dollar losing its status as the global reserve currency. Trump is engaging in a desperate gamble that could have disastrous consequences.

The region, in a worst-case scenario, could be engulfed in a devastating war involving multiple countries. Oil refineries could be destroyed all across the region, a quarter of the world's oil transit could be blocked, oil prices would skyrocket ($200-$300 a barrel) and dozens of countries would be plunged into a global financial crisis. The blame would be laid squarely at Trump's feet, ending his chances for re-election.

To try and keep everyone in line, Washington is left to resort to terrorism, lies and unspecified threats of visiting destruction on friends and enemies alike.

Trump has evidently been convinced by someone that the US can do without the Middle East, that it can do without allies in the region, and that nobody would ever dare to sell oil in any other currency than the US dollar.

Soleimani's death is the result of a convergence of US and Israeli interests. With no other way of halting Eurasian integration, Washington can only throw the region into chaos by targeting countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria that are central to the Eurasian project. While Israel has never had the ability or audacity to carry out such an assassination itself, the importance of the Israel Lobby to Trump's electoral success would have influenced his decision, all the more so in an election year .

Trump believed his drone attack could solve all his problems by frightening his opponents, winning the support of his voters (by equating Soleimani's assassination to Osama bin Laden's), and sending a warning to Arab countries of the dangers of deepening their ties with China.

The assassination of Soleimani is the US lashing out at its steady loss of influence in the region. The Iraqi attempt to mediate a lasting peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been scuppered by the US and Israel's determination to prevent peace in the region and instead increase chaos and instability.

Washington has not achieved its hegemonic status through a preference for diplomacy and calm dialogue, and Trump has no intention of departing from this approach.

Washington's friends and enemies alike must acknowledge this reality and implement the countermeasures necessary to contain the madness.


Boundless Energy , 1 minute ago link

Very good article, straight to the point. In fact its much worse. I know is hard to swallow for my US american brother and sisters.

But as sooner you wake up and see the reality as it is, as better chances the US has to survive with honor. Stop the wars around the globe and do not look for excuses. Isnt it already obvious what is going on with the US war machine? How many more examples some people need to wake up?

Noob678 , 8 minutes ago link

For those who love to connect the dots:

Iran Situation from Someone Who Knows Something

Not all said in video above is accurate but the recent events in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Africa are all related to prevent China from overtaking the zionist hegemonic world and to recolonize China (at least the parasite is trying to hop to China as new host).

Trade war, Huawei, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet ..... the concerted efforts from all zionist controlled media (ZeroHedge included) to slander, smearing, fake news against China should tell you what the Zionists agenda are :)

............

Trump Threatens to Kill Iraqi PM if He Doesn't Cancel China Oil Deal - MoA

The American President's threatened the Iraqi Prime Minister to liquidate him directly with the Minister of Defense. The Marines are the third party that sniped the demonstrators and the security men:

Abdul Mahdi continued:

"After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened me with massive demonstrations that would topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, so that the third party (Marines snipers) would target the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from the highest structures and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement, so I did not respond and submitted my resignation and the Americans still insist to this day on canceling the China agreement and when the defense minister said that who kills the demonstrators is a third party, Trump called me immediately and physically threatened me and defense minister in the event of talk about the third party."

.........


The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission found George W. Bush guilty of war crimes in absentia for the illegal invasion of Iraq. Bush, **** Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.

... ... ..

Thom Paine , 9 minutes ago link

When Iran has nukes, what then Trump?

I think Israel's fear is loss of regional goals if Iran becomes untouchable

TupacShakur , 13 minutes ago link

Empire is lashing out of desperation because we've crossed peak Empire.

Things are going downhill and will get more volatile as we go.

Buckle up folks because the final act will be very nasty.

Stalking Wolf , 12 minutes ago link

Unfortunately, this article makes a lot of sense. The US is losing influence and lashing out carelessly. I hope the rest of the world realizes how detached majority of the citizens within the states are from the federal government. The Federal government brings no good to our nation. None. From the mis management of our once tax revenues to the corrupt Congress who accepts bribes from the highest bidder, it's a rats best that is not only harmful to its own people, but the world at large. USD won't go down without a fight it seems... All empires end with a bang. Be ready

[Feb 08, 2020] Is Iraq About To Switch From US to Russia

Highly recommended!
Feb 08, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 8, 2020 8:56 pm

NSC Russia expert freshly appointed Andrew Peek, who was walked out like Vindman, with him only freshly appointed after Fiona Hill and the Tim Morrioson resigned.

There is a big problems with "experts" in NSC -- often they represent interests of the particular agency, or a think tank, not that of the country.

Look at former NSC staffer Fiona Hill. She can be called "threat inflation" specialist.

NSC tries to usurp the role of the State Department and overly militarize the USA foreign policy, while having much lower class specialists. It is a kind of CIA backdoor into defining the USA foreign policy.

I would advocate creating "shadow NSC" by the party who is in opposition, so that it can somehow provide countervailing opinions. But with both parties being now war parties, this is no that effective.

Cutting NSC staff to the bones, so that such second rate personalities like Fiona Hill and Vindman are automatically excluded might also help a little bit.

The size above a dozen or two is probably excessive, as like any bureaucracy, it will try to control the President, not so much help him/her.
( https://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA00/20160908/105276/HHRG-114-FA00-Transcript-20160908.pdf ):

One common explanation is that the NSC mission creep results from the NSC staff growing too large and the easy solution is to limit the size of the staff. I am sympathetic to that feeling because we don't want it to
be too large and we don't want it to be usurping things that the State Department or the Agency should do.

[Feb 07, 2020] How They Sold the Iraq War by Jeffrey St. Clair

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam's regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon. ..."
"... This charade wouldn't have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: "Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception." ..."
"... During the Vietnam War, TV images of maimed GIs and napalmed villages suburbanized opposition to the war and helped hasten the U.S. withdrawal. The Bush gang meant to turn the Vietnam phenomenon on its head by using TV as a force to propel the U.S.A. into a war that no one really wanted. ..."
"... When the Pentagon needed a heroic story, the press obliged. Jessica Lynch became the war's first instant celebrity. Here was a neo-gothic tale of a steely young woman wounded in a fierce battle, captured and tortured by ruthless enemies, and dramatically saved from certain death by a team of selfless rescuers, knights in camo and night-vision goggles. ..."
"... Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post's editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings "a quirk of war." ..."
"... The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn't object, it encouraged Saddam. ..."
"... Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC's firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. ..."
Mar 20, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

The war on Iraq won't be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold. It was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as "weapons of mass destruction" and "rogue state" were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us.

To understand the Iraq war you don't need to consult generals, but the spin doctors and PR flacks who stage-managed the countdown to war from the murky corridors of Washington where politics, corporate spin and psy-ops spooks cohabit.

Consider the picaresque journey of Tony Blair's plagiarized dossier on Iraq, from a grad student's website to a cut-and-paste job in the prime minister's bombastic speech to the House of Commons. Blair, stubborn and verbose, paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush, who looted whole passages from Blair's speech for his own clumsy presentations, has skated freely through the tempest. Why?

Unlike Blair, the Bush team never wanted to present a legal case for war. They had no interest in making any of their allegations about Iraq hold up to a standard of proof. The real effort was aimed at amping up the mood for war by using the psychology of fear.

Facts were never important to the Bush team. They were disposable nuggets that could be discarded at will and replaced by whatever new rationale that played favorably with their polls and focus groups. The war was about weapons of mass destruction one week, al-Qaeda the next. When neither allegation could be substantiated on the ground, the fall back position became the mass graves (many from the Iran/Iraq war where the U.S.A. backed Iraq) proving that Saddam was an evil thug who deserved to be toppled. The motto of the Bush PR machine was: Move on. Don't explain. Say anything to conceal the perfidy behind the real motives for war. Never look back. Accuse the questioners of harboring unpatriotic sensibilities. Eventually, even the cagey Wolfowitz admitted that the official case for war was made mainly to make the invasion palatable, not to justify it.

The Bush claque of neocon hawks viewed the Iraq war as a product and, just like a new pair of Nikes, it required a roll-out campaign to soften up the consumers. The same techniques (and often the same PR gurus) that have been used to hawk cigarettes, SUVs and nuclear waste dumps were deployed to retail the Iraq war. To peddle the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell and company recruited public relations gurus into top-level jobs at the Pentagon and the State Department. These spinmeisters soon had more say over how the rationale for war on Iraq should be presented than intelligence agencies and career diplomats. If the intelligence didn't fit the script, it was shaded, retooled or junked.

Take Charlotte Beers whom Powell picked as undersecretary of state in the post-9/11 world. Beers wasn't a diplomat. She wasn't even a politician. She was a grand diva of spin, known on the business and gossip pages as "the queen of Madison Avenue." On the strength of two advertising campaigns, one for Uncle Ben's Rice and another for Head and Shoulder's dandruff shampoo, Beers rocketed to the top of the heap in the PR world, heading two giant PR houses: Ogilvy and Mathers as well as J. Walter Thompson.

At the State Department Beers, who had met Powell in 1995 when they both served on the board of Gulf Airstream, worked at, in Powell's words, "the branding of U.S. foreign policy." She extracted more than $500 million from Congress for her Brand America campaign, which largely focused on beaming U.S. propaganda into the Muslim world, much of it directed at teens.

"Public diplomacy is a vital new arm in what will combat terrorism over time," said Beers. "All of a sudden we are in this position of redefining who America is, not only for ourselves, but for the outside world." Note the rapt attention Beers pays to the manipulation of perception, as opposed, say, to alterations of U.S. policy.

Old-fashioned diplomacy involves direct communication between representatives of nations, a conversational give and take, often fraught with deception (see April Glaspie), but an exchange nonetheless. Public diplomacy, as defined by Beers, is something else entirely. It's a one-way street, a unilateral broadcast of American propaganda directly to the public, domestic and international, a kind of informational carpet-bombing.

The themes of her campaigns were as simplistic and flimsy as a Bush press conference. The American incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq were all about bringing the balm of "freedom" to oppressed peoples. Hence, the title of the U.S. war: Operation Iraqi Freedom, where cruise missiles were depicted as instruments of liberation. Bush himself distilled the Beers equation to its bizarre essence: "This war is about peace."

Beers quietly resigned her post a few weeks before the first volley of tomahawk missiles battered Baghdad. From her point of view, the war itself was already won, the fireworks of shock and awe were all after play.

Over at the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld drafted Victoria "Torie" Clarke as his director of public affairs. Clarke knew the ropes inside the Beltway. Before becoming Rumsfeld's mouthpiece, she had commanded one of the world's great parlors for powerbrokers: Hill and Knowlton's D.C. office.

Almost immediately upon taking up her new gig, Clarke convened regular meetings with a select group of Washington's top private PR specialists and lobbyists to develop a marketing plan for the Pentagon's forthcoming terror wars. The group was filled with heavy-hitters and was strikingly bipartisan in composition. She called it the Rumsfeld Group and it included PR executive Sheila Tate, columnist Rich Lowry, and Republican political consultant Rich Galen.

The brain trust also boasted top Democratic fixer Tommy Boggs, brother of NPR's Cokie Roberts and son of the late Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana. At the very time Boggs was conferring with top Pentagon brass on how to frame the war on terror, he was also working feverishly for the royal family of Saudi Arabia. In 2002 alone, the Saudis paid his Qorvis PR firm $20.2 million to protect its interests in Washington. In the wake of hostile press coverage following the exposure of Saudi links to the 9/11 hijackers, the royal family needed all the well-placed help it could buy. They seem to have gotten their money's worth. Boggs' felicitous influence-peddling may help to explain why the references to Saudi funding of al-Qaeda were dropped from the recent congressional report on the investigation into intelligence failures and 9/11.

According to the trade publication PR Week, the Rumsfeld Group sent "messaging advice" to the Pentagon. The group told Clarke and Rumsfeld that in order to get the American public to buy into the war on terrorism, they needed to suggest a link to nation states, not just nebulous groups such as al-Qaeda. In other words, there needed to be a fixed target for the military campaigns, some distant place to drop cruise missiles and cluster bombs. They suggested the notion (already embedded in Rumsfeld's mind) of playing up the notion of so-called rogue states as the real masters of terrorism. Thus was born the Axis of Evil, which, of course, wasn't an "axis" at all, since two of the states, Iran and Iraq, hated each other, and neither had anything at all to do with the third, North Korea.

Tens of millions in federal money were poured into private public relations and media firms working to craft and broadcast the Bush dictat that Saddam had to be taken out before the Iraqi dictator blew up the world by dropping chemical and nuclear bombs from long-range drones. Many of these PR executives and image consultants were old friends of the high priests in the Bush inner sanctum. Indeed, they were veterans, like Cheney and Powell, of the previous war against Iraq, another engagement that was more spin than combat .

At the top of the list was John Rendon, head of the D.C. firm, the Rendon Group. Rendon is one of Washington's heaviest hitters, a Beltway fixer who never let political affiliation stand in the way of an assignment. Rendon served as a media consultant for Michael Dukakis and Jimmy Carter, as well as Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Whenever the Pentagon wanted to go to war, he offered his services at a price. During Desert Storm, Rendon pulled in $100,000 a month from the Kuwaiti royal family. He followed this up with a $23 million contract from the CIA to produce anti-Saddam propaganda in the region.

As part of this CIA project, Rendon created and named the Iraqi National Congress and tapped his friend Ahmed Chalabi, the shady financier, to head the organization.

Shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon handed the Rendon Group another big assignment: public relations for the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. Rendon was also deeply involved in the planning and public relations for the pre-emptive war on Iraq, though both Rendon and the Pentagon refuse to disclose the details of the group's work there.

But it's not hard to detect the manipulative hand of Rendon behind many of the Iraq war's signature events, including the toppling of the Saddam statue (by U.S. troops and Chalabi associates) and videotape of jubilant Iraqis waving American flags as the Third Infantry rolled by them. Rendon had pulled off the same stunt in the first Gulf War, handing out American flags to Kuwaitis and herding the media to the orchestrated demonstration. "Where do you think they got those American flags?" clucked Rendon in 1991. "That was my assignment."

The Rendon Group may also have had played a role in pushing the phony intelligence that has now come back to haunt the Bush administration. In December of 2002, Robert Dreyfuss reported that the inner circle of the Bush White House preferred the intelligence coming from Chalabi and his associates to that being proffered by analysts at the CIA.

So Rendon and his circle represented a new kind of off-the-shelf PSYOPs , the privatization of official propaganda. "I am not a national security strategist or a military tactician," said Rendon. "I am a politician, and a person who uses communication to meet public policy or corporate policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager."

What exactly, is perception management? The Pentagon defines it this way: "actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives and objective reasoning." In other words, lying about the intentions of the U.S. government. In a rare display of public frankness, the Pentagon actually let slip its plan (developed by Rendon) to establish a high-level den inside the Department Defense for perception management. They called it the Office of Strategic Influence and among its many missions was to plant false stories in the press.

Nothing stirs the corporate media into outbursts of pious outrage like an official government memo bragging about how the media are manipulated for political objectives. So the New York Times and Washington Post threw indignant fits about the Office of Strategic Influence; the Pentagon shut down the operation, and the press gloated with satisfaction on its victory. Yet, Rumsfeld told the Pentagon press corps that while he was killing the office, the same devious work would continue. "You can have the corpse," said Rumsfeld. "You can have the name. But I'm going to keep doing every single thing that needs to be done. And I have."

At a diplomatic level, despite the hired guns and the planted stories, this image war was lost. It failed to convince even America's most fervent allies and dependent client states that Iraq posed much of a threat. It failed to win the blessing of the U.N. and even NATO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington. At the end of the day, the vaunted coalition of the willing consisted of Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, and a cohort of former Soviet bloc nations. Even so, the citizens of the nations that cast their lot with the U.S.A. overwhelmingly opposed the war.

Domestically, it was a different story. A population traumatized by terror threats and shattered economy became easy prey for the saturation bombing of the Bush message that Iraq was a terrorist state linked to al-Qaeda that was only minutes away from launching attacks on America with weapons of mass destruction.

Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam's regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon.

Of course, the closest Saddam came to possessing a nuke was a rusting gas centrifuge buried for 13 years in the garden of Mahdi Obeidi, a retired Iraqi scientist. Iraq didn't have any functional chemical or biological weapons. In fact, it didn't even possess any SCUD missiles, despite erroneous reports fed by Pentagon PR flacks alleging that it had fired SCUDs into Kuwait.

This charade wouldn't have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: "Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception."

During the Vietnam War, TV images of maimed GIs and napalmed villages suburbanized opposition to the war and helped hasten the U.S. withdrawal. The Bush gang meant to turn the Vietnam phenomenon on its head by using TV as a force to propel the U.S.A. into a war that no one really wanted.

What the Pentagon sought was a new kind of living room war, where instead of photos of mangled soldiers and dead Iraqi kids, they could control the images Americans viewed and to a large extent the content of the stories. By embedding reporters inside selected divisions, Clarke believed the Pentagon could count on the reporters to build relationships with the troops and to feel dependent on them for their own safety. It worked, naturally. One reporter for a national network trembled on camera that the U.S. Army functioned as "our protectors." The late David Bloom of NBC confessed on the air that he was willing to do "anything and everything they can ask of us."

When the Pentagon needed a heroic story, the press obliged. Jessica Lynch became the war's first instant celebrity. Here was a neo-gothic tale of a steely young woman wounded in a fierce battle, captured and tortured by ruthless enemies, and dramatically saved from certain death by a team of selfless rescuers, knights in camo and night-vision goggles. Of course, nearly every detail of her heroic adventure proved to be as fictive and maudlin as any made-for-TV-movie. But the ordeal of Private Lynch, which dominated the news for more than a week, served its purpose: to distract attention from a stalled campaign that was beginning to look at lot riskier than the American public had been hoodwinked into believing.

The Lynch story was fed to the eager press by a Pentagon operation called Combat Camera, the Army network of photographers, videographers and editors that sends 800 photos and 25 video clips a day to the media. The editors at Combat Camera carefully culled the footage to present the Pentagon's montage of the war, eliding such unsettling images as collateral damage, cluster bombs, dead children and U.S. soldiers, napalm strikes and disgruntled troops.

"A lot of our imagery will have a big impact on world opinion," predicted Lt. Jane Larogue, director of Combat Camera in Iraq. She was right. But as the hot war turned into an even hotter occupation, the Pentagon, despite airy rhetoric from occupation supremo Paul Bremer about installing democratic institutions such as a free press, moved to tighten its monopoly on the flow images out of Iraq. First, it tried to shut down Al Jazeera, the Arab news channel. Then the Pentagon intimated that it would like to see all foreign TV news crews banished from Baghdad.

Few newspapers fanned the hysteria about the threat posed by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction as sedulously as did the Washington Post. In the months leading up to the war, the Post's pro-war op-eds outnumbered the anti-war columns by a 3-to-1 margin.

Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post's editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings "a quirk of war."

The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn't object, it encouraged Saddam. Anything to punish Iran was the message coming from the White House. Donald Rumsfeld himself was sent as President Ronald Reagan's personal envoy to Baghdad. Rumsfeld conveyed the bold message than an Iraq defeat would be viewed as a "strategic setback for the United States." This sleazy alliance was sealed with a handshake caught on videotape. When CNN reporter Jamie McIntyre replayed the footage for Rumsfeld in the spring of 2003, the secretary of defense snapped, "Where'd you get that? Iraqi television?"

The current crop of Iraq hawks also saw Saddam much differently then. Take the writer Laura Mylroie, sometime colleague of the New York Times' Judy Miller, who persists in peddling the ludicrous conspiracy that Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

How times have changed! In 1987, Mylroie felt downright cuddly toward Saddam. She wrote an article for the New Republic titled "Back Iraq: Time for a U.S. Tilt in the Mideast," arguing that the U.S. should publicly embrace Saddam's secular regime as a bulwark against the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. The co-author of this mesmerizing weave of wonkery was none other than Daniel Pipes, perhaps the nation's most bellicose Islamophobe. "The American weapons that Iraq could make good use of include remotely scatterable and anti-personnel mines and counterartillery radar," wrote Mylroie and Pipes. "The United States might also consider upgrading intelligence it is supplying Baghdad."

In the rollout for the war, Mylroie seemed to be everywhere hawking the invasion of Iraq. She would often appear on two or three different networks in the same day. How did the reporter manage this feat? She had help in the form of Eleana Benador, the media placement guru who runs Benador Associates. Born in Peru, Benador parlayed her skills as a linguist into a lucrative career as media relations whiz for the Washington foreign policy elite. She also oversees the Middle East Forum, a fanatically pro-Zionist white paper mill. Her clients include some of the nation's most fervid hawks, including Michael Ledeen, Charles Krauthammer, Al Haig, Max Boot, Daniel Pipes, Richard Perle, and Judy Miller. During the Iraq war, Benador's assignment was to embed this squadron of pro-war zealots into the national media, on talk shows, and op-ed pages.

Benador not only got them the gigs, she also crafted the theme and made sure they all stayed on message. "There are some things, you just have to state them in a different way, in a slightly different way," said Benador. "If not, people get scared." Scared of intentions of their own government.

It could have been different. All of the holes in the Bush administration's gossamer case for war were right there for the mainstream press to expose. Instead, the U.S. press, just like the oil companies, sought to commercialize the Iraq war and profit from the invasions. They didn't want to deal with uncomfortable facts or present voices of dissent.

Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC's firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. The network's executives blamed the cancellation on sagging ratings. In fact, during its run Donahue's show attracted more viewers than any other program on the network. The real reason for the pre-emptive strike on Donahue was spelled out in an internal memo from anxious executives at NBC. Donahue, the memo said, offered "a difficult face for NBC in a time of war. He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives."

The memo warned that Donahue's show risked tarring MSNBC as an unpatriotic network, "a home for liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." So, with scarcely a second thought, the honchos at MSNBC gave Donahue the boot and hoisted the battle flag.

It's war that sells.

There's a helluva caveat, of course. Once you buy it, the merchants of war accept no returns.

This essay is adapted from Grand Theft Pentagon.

[Feb 03, 2020] Amazon.com Customer reviews White House Warriors How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War

Highly recommended!
This book sheds some light into the story of how Administrative assistants to Present became independent heavily influenced by CIA body controlling the USA foreign policy and to a large extent controlling the President. Recent revolt of NSC (Aka Ukrainegate) shows that the servant became the master
The books contains some interesting information about forming NSC by Truman --- the father of the US National Security State. And bureaucratic turf war the preceded it. It wwas actually Eisenhower who created forma position of a "special assistant to the president for national security affairs"
The author also cover a little bit disastrous decision to launch a "surge" (ironically by the female chickenhawk Meghan O'Sullivan), -- which attests neocon nature of current NSC and level of indoctrination of staffers in "Full Spectrum Dominance" doctrine quite clearly. That's why a faction of NSC launched a coup d'état against Trump in t he form of Ukrainegate and probably was instrumental in Russiagate as well.
Notable quotes:
"... Starting in the 1960s, the NSC dethroned the State Department in providing analysis, intelligence, and even some diplomacy to the diplomat in chief. In the years after September 11th, the staff also began to take greater responsibility, especially for planning, from the military and the rest of the Pentagon. Both departments have struggled and often failed to reclaim lost ground and influence in Washington. ..."
"... Yet war is a hard thing to try to manage from the Executive Office Building. Thousands of miles from the frontlines and far from harm, the NSC make recommendations based on what they come to know from intelligence reports, news sources, phone calls, video-teleconferences, and visits to the front. Even with advice based only on this limited and limiting view, the NSC staff has transformed how the United States fights its wars. ..."
"... Although presidents bear the ultimate responsibilities for these decisions, the NSC staff played an essential, and increasing, role in the thinking behind each bold move. In conflict after conflict, a more powerful NSC staff has fundamentally altered the American way of war. It is now far less informed by the perspective of the military and the view from the frontlines. It is less patient for progress and more dependent on the clocks in the Executive Office Building and Washington than those in theater. It is far more combative, less able to accept defeat, and more willing to risk a change of course. ..."
"... The NSC common law's kept the peace in Washington for years after Iran-Contra. The restrictions against outright advocacy and outsized operational responsibilities were accepted by those at the White House as well as in the agencies during Republican and Democratic administrations. Yet as many in Washington believed the world grew more interconnected and the national security stakes increased, especially after September 11th, a more powerful NSC has given staffers the opportunity to bend, and occasionally break, the common laws, as they have been expected to and allowed to take on more responsibilities for developing strategies and new r ideas from those in the bureaucracy and military. ..."
"... ...Meanwhile, others, including the anonymous author of the infamous September 2018 New York Times opinion piece, believe government officials who comprise a "steady state" amid Trump's chaotic presidency are "unsung heroes" resisting his worst instincts and overreaches. 13 Thus, it is no surprise that more and more Americans are concerned: a 2018 poll found that 74 percent of Americans feel a group of officials arc able to control government policy without accountability. ..."
"... it is no wonder some Americans have taken to assuming the worst of their public servants. ..."
"... Each member of the NSC staff needs to remember that their growing, unaccountable power has helped give evidence to the worries about a deep state. Although no one in Washington gives up influence voluntarily, the staff, even its warriors, need to remember it is not just what they fight for but whether a fight is necessary at all. ..."
"... ... Too many in Washington, including at the Executive Office Building, have forgotten that public service is a privilege that bestows on them great responsibility. Although the NSC has long justified its actions in the name of national security, the means with which its members have pursued that objective have made for a more aggressive American way of war, a more fractious Washington, and more conspiracies about government. ..."
"... The question is for what and for whom they will fight in the years and wars ahead. ..."
Feb 03, 2020 | www.amazon.com

The men and women walking the hushed corridors of the Executive Office Building do not look like warriors. Most are middle-aged professionals with penchants for dark business suits and prestigious graduate degrees, who have spent their lives serving their country in windowless offices, on far-off battle-fields, or at embassies abroad. Before arriving at the NSC, many joined the military or the nation's diplomatic corps, some dedicated themselves to teaching and writing about national security, and others spent their days working for the types of politicians who become presidents. By the time they joined the staff, each had shown the pluck -- and the good fortune -- required to end up staffing a president.

When each NSC staffer first walks up the steps to the Executive Office Building, he or she joins an institution like no other in government. Compared to the Pentagon and other bureaucracies, the staff is small, hierarchically flat with only a few titles like directors and senior directors reporting to the national security advisor and his or her deputies. Compared to all those at the agencies, even most cabinet secretaries, the staff are also given unparalleled access to the president and the discussions about the biggest decisions in national security.

Yet despite their access, the NSC staff was created as a political, legal, and bureaucratic afterthought. The National Security Council was established both
to better coordinate foreign policy after World War II and as part of a deal to create what became known as the Defense Department. Since the army and navy only agreed to be unified under a single department and a civilian cabinet secretary if each still had a seat at the table where decisions about war were expected to be made, establishing the National Security Council was critical to ensuring passage of the National Security Act of 1947. The law, as well as its amendments two years later, unified the armed forces while also establishing the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as the CIA.

... ... ...

Fans of television's the West Wing would be forgiven for expecting that once in the Oval Office, all a staffer needs to do to change policy is to deliver a well-timed whisper in the president's car or a rousing speech in his company. It is not that such dramatic moments never occur, but real change in government requires not just speaking up but the grinding policy work required to have something new to say.

A staffer, alone or with NSC and agency colleagues, must develop an idea until feasible and defend it from opposition driven by personal pique, bureaucratic jealousy, or substantive disagreement, and often all three.

Granted none of these fights are over particularly new ideas, as few proposals in war are truly novel. If anything, the staffs history is a reminder of how little new there is under the guise of national security. Alter all, escalations, ultimatums, and counterinsurgency are only innovative in the context of the latest conflicts. The NSC staff is usually proposing old ideas, some as old as war itself like a surge of troops, to new circumstances and a critical moment.

Yet even an old idea can have real power in the right hands at the right time, so it is worth considering how much more influence the NSC brings to its fights today.

... ... ...

A larger staff can do even more thanks to technology. With the establishment of the Situation Room in 1961 and its subsequent upgrades, as well as the widespread adoption of email in the 1980s, the classified email system during the 2000s, and desktop video teleconferencing systems in the 2010s, White House technology upgrades have been justified because the president deserves the latest and the fastest. These same advances give each member of the staff global reach, including to war zones half a world away, from the safety of the Executive Office Building.

The NSC has also grown more powerful along with the presidency it serves. The White House, even in the hands of an inexperienced and disorganized president like Trump, drives the government's agenda, the news media's coverage, and the American public's attention. The NSC staff can, if skilled enough, leverage the office's influence for their own ideas and purposes. Presidents have also explicitly empowered the staff in big ways -- like putting them in the middle of the policymaking process -- and small -- like granting them ranks that put them on the same level as other agency officials.

Recent staffers have also had the president's ear nearly every day, and sometimes more often, while secretaries of state and defense rarely have that much face time in the Oval Office. Each has a department with tens of thousands (and in the Pentagon's case millions) of employees to manage. Most significantly, both also answer not just to the president but to Congress, which has oversight authority for their departments and an expectation for regular updates. There are few more consequential power differences between the NSC and the departments than to whom each must answer.

Even more, the NSC staff get to work and fight in anonymity. Members of Congress, journalists, and historians are usually too busy keeping track of the National Security Council principals to focus on the guys and gals behind the national security advisors, who are themselves behind the president. Few in Washington, and fewer still across the country, know the names of the staff advising the president let alone what they arc saying in their memos and moments with him.

Today, there arc too many unnamed NSC staffers for anyone's good, including their own. Even with the recent congressional limit on policy staffers, the NSC is too big to be thoroughly managed or effective. National security advisors and their deputies are so busy during their days that it is hard to keep up with all their own emails, calls, and reading, let alone ensure each member of the staff is doing their own work or doing it well. The common law and a de tacto honor system has also struggled to keep staff in check as they try to handle every issue from war to women's rights and every to-do list item from drafting talking points to doing secret diplomacy.

Although many factors contribute to the NSC's success, history suggests they do best with the right-size job. The answer to better national security policy and process is not a bigger staff but smaller writs. The NSC should focus on fewer issues, and then only on the smaller stuff, like what the president needs for calls and meetings, and the big, what some call grand strategic, questions about the nation's interests, ambitions, and capacities that should be asked and answered before any major decision.

... ... ...

Along the way, the staff has taken on greater responsibilities from agencies like the departments of state and defense as each has grown more bureaucratic and sclerotic. Starting in the 1960s, the NSC dethroned the State Department in providing analysis, intelligence, and even some diplomacy to the diplomat in chief. In the years after September 11th, the staff also began to take greater responsibility, especially for planning, from the military and the rest of the Pentagon. Both departments have struggled and often failed to reclaim lost ground and influence in Washington.

As a result, today the NSC has, regretfully, become the strategic engine of the government's national security policymaking. The staff, along with the national security advisor, determine which issues -- large and small -- require attention, develop the plans for most of them, and try to manage day-to-day the implementation of each strategy. That is too sweeping a remit for a couple hundred unaccountable staffers sitting at the Executive Office Building thousands of miles from war zones and foreign capitals. Such immense responsibility also docs not make the best use of talent in government, leaving the military and the nation's diplomats fighting with the White House over policies while trying to execute plans they have less and less ownership over.

... ... ...

Although protocol still requires members of the NSC to sit on the backbench in National Security Council meetings, the staff s voice and advice can carry as much weight as those of the principals sitting at the table, just as the staff has taken on more of each department's responsibilities, the NSC arc expected to be advisors to the president, even on military strategy. With that charge, the staff has taken to spending more time and effort developing their own policy ideas -- and fighting for them.

Yet war is a hard thing to try to manage from the Executive Office Building. Thousands of miles from the frontlines and far from harm, the NSC make recommendations based on what they come to know from intelligence reports, news sources, phone calls, video-teleconferences, and visits to the front. Even with advice based only on this limited and limiting view, the NSC staff has transformed how the United States fights its wars.

The American way of war, developed over decades of thinking and fighting, informs how and why the nation goes to battle. Over the course of American history and, most relevantly, since the end of World War II, the US military and other national security professionals have developed, often through great turmoil, strategic preferences and habits, like deploying the latest technology possible instead of the largest number of troops. Despite the tremendous planning that goes into these most serious of undertakings, each new conflict tests the prevailing way of war and often finds it wanting.

Even knowing how dangerous it is to relight the last war, it is still not easy to find the right course for a new one. Government in general and national security specifically are risk-averse enterprises where it is often simpler to rely on standard operating procedures and stay on a chosen course, regardless of whether progress is slow and the sense of drift is severe. Even then, many in the military, who often react to even the mildest of suggestions and inquiries as unnecessary or even dangerous micromanagement, defend the prevailing approach with its defining doctrine and syndrome.

As Machiavelli recommended long ago, there is a need for hard questions in government and war in particular. He wrote that a leader "ought to be a great askcr, and a patient hearer of the truth." 7 From the Executive Office Building, the NSC staff, who are more distanced from the action as well as the fog of war, have tried to fill this role for a busy and often distracted president. They are, however, not nearly as patient as Machiavelli recommended: they have proven more willing, indeed too willing at times, to ask about what is working and what is not.

Warfighters are not alone in being frustrated by questions: everyone from architects to zookeepers believes they know how best to do their job and that with a bit more time, they will get it right. Without any of the responsibility for the doing, the NSC staff not only asks hard questions but, by avoiding implementation bias, is willing to admit, often long before those in the field, that the current plan is failing. A more technologically advanced NSC, with the ability to reach deep into the chain of command and war zones for updates, has also given the staff the intelligence to back up its impatience.

Most times in history, the NSC staff has correctly predicted that time is running against a chosen strategy. Halperin. and others on the Nixon NSC, were accurate in their assessments of Vietnam. Dur and his Reagan NSC colleagues were right to worry that diplomacy was moving too slowly in Lebanon. Haass and Vershbow were correct when they were concerned with how windows of opportunity for action were shrinking in the Gulf and Balkans respectively, just as O'Sullivan was right that things needed to change relatively soon in Iraq.

Yet an impatient NSC staff has a worse track record giving the president answers to what should come next. The NSC staff naturally have opinions and ideas about what can be done when events and war feel out of control, but ideas about what can be done when events and war feel out of control, but the very distance and disengagement that allow' the NSC to be so effective at measuring progress make its ideas less grounded in operational realities and more clouded by the fog of Washington. The NSC, often stridently, wants to do something more, to "go big when wc can," as one recent staffer encouraged his president, to fix a failing policy or win a w r ar, but that is not a strategy, nor does that ambition make the staff the best equipped to figure out the next steps."

With their proposals for a new plan, deployment, or initiative, the staff has made more bad recommendations than good. The Diem coup and the Beirut mission are two examples, and particularly tragic ones at that, of NSC staff recommendations gone awry. The Iraq surge was certainly a courageous decision, but by committing so many troops to that country, the manpower w r as not available for a war in Afghanistan that was falling off track. Even the more successful NSC recommendations for changes in US strategy in the Gulf War and in Bosnia did not end up exactly as planned, in part because even good ideas in war rarely do.

Although presidents bear the ultimate responsibilities for these decisions, the NSC staff played an essential, and increasing, role in the thinking behind each bold move. In conflict after conflict, a more powerful NSC staff has fundamentally altered the American way of war. It is now far less informed by the perspective of the military and the view from the frontlines. It is less patient for progress and more dependent on the clocks in the Executive Office Building and Washington than those in theater. It is far more combative, less able to accept defeat, and more willing to risk a change of course.

And it is characterized by more frequent and counterproductive friction between the civilian and military leaders.

... ... ...

Through it all, as the NSC's voice has grown louder in the nation's war rooms, the staff has transformed how Washington works, and more often does not work. The NSC's fights to change course have had another casualty: the ugly collapse of the common law' that has governed Washington policymaking for more than a generation. The result today is a government that trusts less, fights more, and decides much slower.

National security policy- and decision-making was never supposed to be a fair fight. Eliot Cohen, a civil-military scholar with high-level government experience, has called the give-and-take of the interagency process an "unequal" dialogue -- one in which presidents are entitled to not just make the ultimate decision but also to ask questions, often with the NSC's help, at any time and about any topic.* Everyone else, from the secretaries of state and defense in Washington dow r n to the commanders and ambassadors abroad, has to expect and tolerate such presidential interventions and then carry out his orders.

Even an unfair fight can have rules, however. The NSC common law's kept the peace in Washington for years after Iran-Contra. The restrictions against outright advocacy and outsized operational responsibilities were accepted by those at the White House as well as in the agencies during Republican and Democratic administrations. Yet as many in Washington believed the world grew more interconnected and the national security stakes increased, especially after September 11th, a more powerful NSC has given staffers the opportunity to bend, and occasionally break, the common laws, as they have been expected to and allowed to take on more responsibilities for developing strategies and new r ideas from those in the bureaucracy and military.

... ... ...

...Meanwhile, others, including the anonymous author of the infamous September 2018 New York Times opinion piece, believe government officials who comprise a "steady state" amid Trump's chaotic presidency are "unsung heroes" resisting his worst instincts and overreaches. 13 Thus, it is no surprise that more and more Americans are concerned: a 2018 poll found that 74 percent of Americans feel a group of officials arc able to control government policy without accountability.

In an era when Americans can see on reality television how their fish are caught, meals arc cooked, and businesses are financed, it is strange that few have ever heard the voice of an NSC staffer. The Executive Office Building is not the only building out of reach: most of the government taxpayers' fund is hard, and getting harder, to see. With bigger security blockades, longer waits on declassification, and more severe crackdowns on leaks, it is no wonder some Americans have taken to assuming the worst of their public servants.

The American people need to know the NSC's war stories if for no other reason than each makes clear that there is no organized deep state in Washington. If one existed, there would be little need for the NSC to fight so hard to coordinate the government's various players and parts. However, this history also makes plain that though the United States can overcome bad decisions and survive military disasters, a belief in a deep state is a threat to the NSC and so much more.

... ... ...

Each member of the NSC staff needs to remember that their growing, unaccountable power has helped give evidence to the worries about a deep state. Although no one in Washington gives up influence voluntarily, the staff, even its warriors, need to remember it is not just what they fight for but whether a fight is necessary at all. Shortcuts and squabbles may make sense when every second feels like it counts, but the best public servants do what is necessary for the president even as they protect, for years to come, the health of the institutions and the very democracy in which they serve. As hard as that can be to remember when the clock in the Oval Office is ticking, doing things the right way is even more important than the latest crises, war, or meeting with the president.

... ... ...

... Too many in Washington, including at the Executive Office Building, have forgotten that public service is a privilege that bestows on them great responsibility. Although the NSC has long justified its actions in the name of national security, the means with which its members have pursued that objective have made for a more aggressive American way of war, a more fractious Washington, and more conspiracies about government.

Centuries ago, Plato argued that civilians must hope for warriors who could be trusted to be both "gentle to their own and cruel to their enemies." At a time when many doubt government and those who serve in it, the NSC staff s history demonstrates just what White House warriors arc capable of. The question is for what and for whom they will fight in the years and wars ahead.

... ... ...

The legendary British double agent Kim Philby wrote: "just because a document is a document it has a glamour which tempts the reader to give it more weight than it deserves An hour of a serious discussion with a trustworthy informant is often more valuable than any number of original documents. Of course, it is best to have both."

Alexandra Jones , September 15, 2019

The Untold History of the NSC

A must-read for anyone interested in history or foreign policy. Gans pulls back the curtain on arguably the most powerful yet opaque body in foreign policy decision-making, the National Security Council. Each chapter recounts a different administration -- as told through the work of an NSC staffer. Through these beautifully-written portraits of largely unknown staffers, Gans reveals the chilling, outsized influence of this small, unelected institution on American war and peace. From this perspective, even the policy success stories seem more luck than skill -- leaving readers concerned about the NSC's continued unchecked power.

[Feb 02, 2020] The most interesting issue is the role of NSC in this impeachment story

Highly recommended!
Edited for clarity
Notable quotes:
"... Currently they can wrap themselves into constitution defenders flag and be pretty safe from any criticism. Because charges that Schiff brought to the floor are bogus, and probably were created out of thin air by NSC plotters. Senators on both sides understand this, creating a classic Kabuki theater environment. ..."
"... In any case, it is clear that Trump is just a marionette of more powerful forces behind him, and his impeachment does not means much, if those forces are untouchable. Impeachment Kabuki theatre is an attempt of restoration of NSC (read neocons) favored foreign policy from which Trump slightly deviated. ..."
Feb 02, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 2, 2020 10:40 pm

Far more interesting issue is the role of NSC in this impeachment story.

Potential whistleblower (actually CIA informant) was from NSC as were Fiona Hill, Alex Vindman and a couple of other major Ukrainegate players.

In this NSC coup d'état against the President or what ? About earlier role of NSC see

https://off-guardian.org/2020/02/01/secret-wars-forgotten-betrayals-global-tyranny-who-is-really-in-charge-of-the-u-s-military/

As for "evil republican senators", they would be viewed as evil by electorate if and only only if actual crimes of Trump regime like Douma false flag, Suleimani assassination (actually here Trump was set up By Bolton and Pompeo) and other were discussed.

Currently they can wrap themselves into constitution defenders flag and be pretty safe from any criticism. Because charges that Schiff brought to the floor are bogus, and probably were created out of thin air by NSC plotters. Senators on both sides understand this, creating a classic Kabuki theater environment.

Both sides are afraid to discuss real issues, real Trump regime crimes.

Schiff proved to be patently inept in this whole story even taking into account limitations put by Kabuki theater on him, and in case of Trump acquittal *which is "highly probable" borrowing May government terminology in Skripals case :-) to resign would be a honest thing for him to do.

Assuming that he has some honestly left. Which is highly doubtful with statements like:

"The United States aids Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there so we don't have to fight Russia here."

And

"More than 15,000 Ukrainians have died fighting Russian forces and their proxies. 15,000."

Actually it was the USA interference in Ukraine (aka Nulandgate) that killed 15K Ukrainians, mainly Donbas residents and badly trained recruits of the Ukrainian army sent to fight them, as well as volunteers of paramilitary "death squads" like Asov battalion financed by oligarch Igor Kolomyskiy

In any case, it is clear that Trump is just a marionette of more powerful forces behind him, and his impeachment does not means much, if those forces are untouchable. Impeachment Kabuki theatre is an attempt of restoration of NSC (read neocons) favored foreign policy from which Trump slightly deviated.

[Jan 31, 2020] Trump excoriates Bolton in tweets this morning

Highly recommended!
Trump is lying. Bolton was appointed by Adelson and Trump can't refuse Adelson protégé.
Jan 31, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Trump excoriates Bolton in tweets this morning:
"For a guy who couldn't get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn't get approved for anything since, 'begged' me for a non Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying 'Don't do it, sir,' takes the job, mistakenly says 'Libyan Model' on T.V., and ... many more mistakes of judgement [sic], gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?"

IMO, Trump is a fantastic POTUS for this day and age, but he wasn't on his A game when he brought Bolton onboard. He should have known better and, was, apparently, warned. Maybe Trump thought he could control him and use him as a threatening pit bull. Mistake. Bolton is greedy as well as vindictive.

Posted by: Eric Newhill | 29 January 2020 at 09:30 AM

[Jan 29, 2020] Campaign Promises and Ending Wars

Highly recommended!
Jan 29, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

lizabeth Warren wrote an article outlining in general terms how she would bring America's current foreign wars to an end. Perhaps the most significant part of the article is her commitment to respect Congress' constitutional role in matters of war:

We will hold ourselves to this by recommitting to a simple idea: the constitutional requirement that Congress play a primary role in deciding to engage militarily. The United States should not fight and cannot win wars without deep public support. Successive administrations and Congresses have taken the easy way out by choosing military action without proper authorizations or transparency with the American people. The failure to debate these military missions in public is one of the reasons they have been allowed to continue without real prospect of success [bold mine-DL].

On my watch, that will end. I am committed to seeking congressional authorization if the use of force is required. Seeking constrained authorizations with limited time frames will force the executive branch to be open with the American people and Congress about our objectives, how the operation is progressing, how much it is costing, and whether it should continue.

Warren's commitment on this point is welcome, and it is what Americans should expect and demand from their presidential candidates. It should be the bare minimum requirement for anyone seeking to be president, and any candidate who won't commit to respecting the Constitution should never be allowed to have the powers of that office. The president is not permitted to launch attacks and start wars alone, but Congress and the public have allowed several presidents to do just that without any consequences. It is time to put a stop to illegal presidential wars, and it is also time to put a stop to open-ended authorizations of military force. Warren's point about asking for "constrained authorizations with limited time frames" is important, and it is something that we should insist on in any future debate over the use of force. The 2001 and 2002 AUMFs are still on the books and have been abused and stretched beyond recognition to apply to groups that didn't exist when they were passed so that the U.S. can fight wars in countries that don't threaten our security. Those need to be repealed as soon as possible to eliminate the opening that they have provided the executive to make war at will.

Michael Brendan Dougherty is unimpressed with Warren's rhetoric:

But what has Warren offered to do differently, or better? She's made no notable break with the class of experts who run our failing foreign policy. Unlike Bernie Sanders, and like Trump or Obama, she hasn't hired a foreign-policy staff committed to a different vision. And so her promise to turn war powers back to Congress should be considered as empty as Obama's promise to do the same. Her promise to bring troops home would turn out to be as meaningless as a Trump tweet saying the same.

We shouldn't discount Warren's statements so easily. When a candidate makes specific commitments about ending U.S. wars during a campaign, that is different from making vague statements about having a "humble" foreign policy. Bush ran on a conventional hawkish foreign policy platform, and there were also no ongoing wars for him to campaign against, so we can't say that he ever ran as a "dove." Obama campaigned against the Iraq war and ran on ending the U.S. military presence there, and before his first term was finished almost all U.S. troops were out of Iraq. It is important to remember that he did not campaign against the war in Afghanistan, and instead argued in support of it. His subsequent decision to commit many more troops there was a mistake, but it was entirely consistent with what he campaigned on. In other words, he withdrew from the country he promised to withdraw from, and escalated in the country where he said the U.S. should be fighting. Trump didn't actually campaign on ending any wars, but he did talk about "bombing the hell" out of ISIS, and after he was elected he escalated the war on ISIS. His anti-Iranian obsession was out in the open from the start if anyone cared to pay attention to it. In short, what candidates commit to doing during a campaign does matter and it usually gives you a good idea of what a candidate will do once elected.

If Warren and some of the other Democratic candidates are committing to ending U.S. wars, we shouldn't assume that they won't follow through on those commitments because previous presidents proved to be the hawks that they admitted to being all along. Presidential candidates often tell us exactly what they mean to do, but we have to be paying attention to everything they say and not just one catchphrase that they said a few times. If voters want a more peaceful foreign policy, they should vote for candidates that actually campaign against ongoing wars instead of rewarding the ones that promise and then deliver escalation. But just voting for the candidates that promise an end to wars is not enough if Americans want Congress to start doing its job by reining in the executive. If we don't want presidents to run amok on war powers, there have to be political consequences for the ones that have done that and there needs to be steady pressure on Congress to take back their role in matters of war. Voters should select genuinely antiwar candidates, but then they also have to hold those candidates accountable once they're in office.

[Jan 27, 2020] The end of Trump? Trump betrayed all major promises of his 2016 election campaign. Trump needs to go...

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... This may well be a fatal mistake of his. And while i have thought Trump to be the lesser evil compared to Clinton, i am now at a point where i seriously fear what his ignorance and slavery to the neocon doctrine may bring the world in 4 more years. ..."
"... besides much talk and showmastery, he has not really changed anything substantial in this regard; Nothing that could seriously change the course. ..."
"... So he stripped himself of any true argument to vote for him, besides for ultra neocons and ultra fundamental evangelical Christians. And even they don't seem to trust in his intentions. ..."
Jan 27, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

EveryoneIsBiased , 26 January 2020 at 04:40 PM

Thank you Colonel; I have been waiting for your take on this. And thank you for opening the comments again. If there is a problem with my post, please point them out to me.

And i agree. This may well be a fatal mistake of his. And while i have thought Trump to be the lesser evil compared to Clinton, i am now at a point where i seriously fear what his ignorance and slavery to the neocon doctrine may bring the world in 4 more years.

Still, immigration is another important issue, but besides much talk and showmastery, he has not really changed anything substantial in this regard; Nothing that could seriously change the course.

So he stripped himself of any true argument to vote for him, besides for ultra neocons and ultra fundamental evangelical Christians. And even they don't seem to trust in his intentions.

And China? He may have changed some small to medium problems for the better, but nothing is changed in the overall trend of the US continuing to loose while China emerges as the next global superpower.

It may have been slowed for some years; It may even have been accelerated, now that China has been waken up to the extend of the threat posed by the US.

North Korea? They surely will never denuclearize. Even less after how Trump showed the world how he treats international law and even allies.

With Trump its all photo ops and showmanship. And while he senses what issues are important, it is worth a damn if he butchers the execution, or values photo ops more than substantial progress.

Not that i would see a democratic alternative. No. But at least now everyone who wants to know can see, that he is neither one.

4 years ago, democracy was corrupted, but at least there was someone who presented himself as an alternative to that rotten establishment.
Now, even that small ray of light is as dark as it gets.
And that is the saddest thing. What worth is democracy, when one does not even have a true alternative, besides Tulsi on endless wars, and Bernie for the socialist ;) ?

I just have watched again the Ken Burns documentary of the civil war. I know it is not perfect (Though i love Shelby Foote's parts), but the sense of the divided 2 Americas there, is still the same today. Today, America seems to break apart culturally, socially and economically on the fault lines that have sucked it into the civil war over 150 years ago.

And just like with seeing no real way out politically, i sadly can see no way to heal and unite this country, as it never was truly united after the civil war, if not ever before. As you Colonel said some weeks ago, the US were never a nation.

And looking at other countries, only a major national crisis may change this.
A most sad realization. But this hold true also for other western countries, including my own.

An even worse decade seems to be ahead.

[Jan 26, 2020] The Collapse of Neoliberalism by Ganesh Sitaraman

Highly recommended!
From the book The Great Democracy by Ganesh Sitaraman.
This is a very valuable article, probably the best written in 2019 on the topic, that discusses several important aspects of neoliberalism better then its predecessors...
Notable quotes:
"... For some, and especially for those in the millennial generation, the Great Recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started a process of reflection on what the neoliberal era had delivered. ..."
"... neoliberal policies had already wreaked havoc around the world ..."
"... "excessively rapid financial and capital market liberalization was probably the single most important cause of the crisis"; he also notes that after the crisis, the International Monetary Fund's policies "exacerbated the downturns." ..."
"... In study after study, political scientists have shown that the U.S. government is highly responsive to the policy preferences of the wealthiest people, corporations, and trade associations -- and that it is largely unresponsive to the views of ordinary people. The wealthiest people, corporations, and their interest groups participate more in politics, spend more on politics, and lobby governments more. Leading political scientists have declared that the U.S. is no longer best characterized as a democracy or a republic but as an oligarchy -- a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism. ..."
"... neoliberalism's radical individualism has increasingly raised two interlocking problems. First, when taken to an extreme, social fracturing into identity groups can be used to divide people and prevent the creation of a shared civic identity. ..."
"... Demagogues rely on this fracturing to inflame racial, nationalist, and religious antagonism, which only further fuels the divisions within society. Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, thus indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism that further undermines the preconditions for a free and democratic society. ..."
"... The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy. ..."
"... They thought globalization was inevitable and that ever-expanding trade liberalization was desirable even if the political system never corrected for trade's winners and losers. They were wrong. These aren't minor mistakes. ..."
"... In spite of these failures, most policymakers did not have a new ideology or different worldview through which to comprehend the problems of this time. So, by and large, the collective response was not to abandon neoliberalism. After the Great Crash of 2008, neoliberals chafed at attempts to push forward aggressive Keynesian spending programs to spark demand. President Barack Obama's advisers shrank the size of the post-crash stimulus package for fear it would seem too large to the neoliberal consensus of the era -- and on top of that, they compromised on its content. ..."
"... When it came to affirmative, forward-looking policy, the neoliberal framework also remained dominant. ..."
"... It is worth emphasizing that Obamacare's central feature is a private marketplace in which people can buy their own health care, with subsidies for individuals who are near the poverty line ..."
"... Fearful of losing their seats, centrists extracted these concessions from progressives. Little good it did them. The president's party almost always loses seats in midterm elections, and this time was no different. For their caution, centrists both lost their seats and gave Americans fewer and worse health care choices. ..."
"... The Republican Party platform in 2012, for example, called for weaker Wall Street, environmental, and worker safety regulations; lower taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals; and further liberalization of trade. It called for abolishing federal student loans, in addition to privatizing rail, western lands, airport security, and the post office. Republicans also continued their support for cutting health care and retirement security. After 40 years moving in this direction -- and with it failing at every turn -- you might think they would change their views. But Republicans didn't, and many still haven't. ..."
"... Although neoliberalism had little to offer, in the absence of a new ideological framework, it hung over the Obama presidency -- but now in a new form. Many on the center-left adopted what we might call the "technocratic ideology," a rebranded version of the policy minimalism of the 1990s that replaced minimalism's tactical and pragmatic foundations with scientific ones. The term itself is somewhat oxymoronic, as technocrats seem like the opposite of ideologues. ..."
"... The technocratic ideology preserves the status quo with a variety of tactics. We might call the first the "complexity canard." ..."
"... The most frequent uses of this tactic are in sectors that economists have come to dominate -- international trade, antitrust, and financial regulation, for example. The result of this mind-set is that bold, structural reforms are pushed aside and highly technical changes adopted instead. Financial regulation provides a particularly good case, given the 2008 crash and the Great Recession. When it came time to establish a new regulatory regime for the financial sector, there wasn't a massive restructuring, despite the biggest crash in 70 years. ..."
"... Instead, for the most part, the Dodd-Frank Act was classically technocratic. It kept the sector basically the same, with a few tweaks here and there. There was no attempt to restructure the financial sector completely. ..."
"... The Volcker Rule, for example, sought to ban banks from proprietary trading. But instead of doing that through a simple, clean breakup rule (like the one enacted under the old Glass-Steagall regime), the Volcker Rule was subject to a multitude of exceptions and carve-outs -- measures that federal regulators were then required to explain and implement with hundreds of pages of technical regulations ..."
"... Dodd-Frank also illustrates a second tenet of the technocratic ideology: The failures of technocracy can be solved by more technocracy. ..."
"... Dodd-Frank created the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a government body tasked with what is called macroprudential regulation. What this means is that government regulators are supposed to monitor the entire economy and turn the dials of regulation up and down a little bit to keep the economy from another crash. But ask yourself this: Why would we ever believe they could do such a thing? We know those very same regulators failed to identify, warn about, or act on the 2008 crisis. ..."
"... In the first stage, neoliberalism gained traction in response to the crises of the 1970s. It is easy to think of Thatcherism and Reaganism as emerging fully formed, springing from Zeus's head like the goddess Athena. ..."
"... Early leaders were not as ideologically bold as later mythmakers think. In the second stage, neoliberalism became normalized. It persisted beyond the founding personalities -- and, partly because of its longevity in power, grew so dominant that the other side adopted it. ..."
"... Eventually, however, the neoliberal ideology extended its tentacles into every area of policy and even social life, and in its third stage, overextended. The result in economic policy was the Great Crash of 2008, economic stagnation, and inequality at century-high levels. In foreign policy, it was the disastrous Iraq War and ongoing chaos and uncertainty in the Middle East. ..."
"... The fourth and final stage is collapse, irrelevance, and a wandering search for the future. With the world in crisis, neoliberalism no longer has even plausible solutions to today's problems. ..."
"... The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to restitch the fraying social fabric, in which people are increasingly tribal, divided, and disconnected from civic community ..."
Dec 23, 2019 | newrepublic.com
Welcome to the Decade From Hell , our look back at an arbitrary 10-year period that began with a great outpouring of hope and ended in a cavalcade of despair. The long-dominant ideology brought us forever wars, the Great Recession, and extreme inequality. Good riddance.

With the 2008 financial crash and the Great Recession, the ideology of neoliberalism lost its force. The approach to politics, global trade, and social philosophy that defined an era led not to never-ending prosperity but utter disaster. "Laissez-faire is finished," declared French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted in testimony before Congress that his ideology was flawed. In an extraordinary statement, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared that the crash "called into question the prevailing neoliberal economic orthodoxy of the past 30 years -- the orthodoxy that has underpinned the national and global regulatory frameworks that have so spectacularly failed to prevent the economic mayhem which has been visited upon us."

... ... ...

[Jan 24, 2020] How Are Iran and the "Axis of the Resistance" Affected by the US Assassination of Soleimani by Elijah J. Magnier

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The US President Donald Trump assassinated the commander of the "Axis of the Resistance", the (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) IRGC – Quds Brigade Major General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport with little consideration of the consequences of this targeted killing. It is not to be excluded that the US administration considered the assassination would reflect positively on its Middle Eastern policy. Or perhaps the US officials believed the killing of Sardar Soleimani would weaken the "Axis of the Resistance": once deprived of their leader, Iran's partners' capabilities in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen would be reduced. Is this assessment accurate? ..."
Jan 22, 2020 | www.globalresearch.ca

The US President Donald Trump assassinated the commander of the "Axis of the Resistance", the (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) IRGC – Quds Brigade Major General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport with little consideration of the consequences of this targeted killing. It is not to be excluded that the US administration considered the assassination would reflect positively on its Middle Eastern policy. Or perhaps the US officials believed the killing of Sardar Soleimani would weaken the "Axis of the Resistance": once deprived of their leader, Iran's partners' capabilities in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen would be reduced. Is this assessment accurate?

A high-ranking source within this "Axis of the Resistance" said " Sardar Soleimani was the direct and fast track link between the partners of Iran and the Leader of the Revolution Sayyed Ali Khamenei. However, the command on the ground belonged to the national leaders in every single separate country. These leaders have their leadership and practices, but common strategic objectives to fight against the US hegemony, stand up to the oppressors and to resist illegitimate foreign intervention in their affairs. These objectives have been in place for many years and will remain, with or without Sardar Soleimani".

"In Lebanon, Hezbollah's Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah leads Lebanon and is the one with a direct link to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He supports Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Yemen and has a heavy involvement in these fronts. However, he leads a large number of advisors and officers in charge of running all military, social and relationship affairs domestically and regionally. Many Iranian IRGC officers are also present on many of these fronts to support the needs of the "Axis of the Resistance" members in logistics, training and finance," said the source.

In Syria, IRGC officers coordinate with Russia, the Syrian Army, the Syrian political leadership and all Iran's allies fighting for the liberation of the country and for the defeat of the jihadists who flocked to Syria from all continents via Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. These officers have worked side by side with Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian and other nationals who are part of the "Axis of the Resistance". They have offered the Syrian government the needed support to defeat the "Islamic State" (ISIS/IS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda and other jihadists or those of similar ideologies in most of the country – with the exception of north-east Syria, which is under US occupation forces. These IRGC officers have their objectives and the means to achieve a target already agreed and in place for years. The absence of Sardar Soleimani will hardly affect these forces and their plans.

In Iraq, over 100 Iranian IRGC officers have been operating in the country at the official request of the Iraqi government, to defeat ISIS. They served jointly with the Iraqi forces and were involved in supplying the country with weapons, intelligence and training after the fall of a third of Iraq into the hands of ISIS in mid-2014. It was striking and shocking to see the Iraqi Army, armed and trained by US forces for over ten years, abandoning its positions and fleeing the northern Iraqi cities. Iranian support with its robust ideology (with one of its allies, motivating them to fight ISIS) was efficient in Syria; thus, it was necessary to transmit this to the Iraqis so they could stand, fight, and defeat ISIS.

The Lebanese Hezbollah is present in Syria and Yemen, and also in Iraq. The Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked Sayyed Nasrallah to provide his country with officers to stand against ISIS. Dozens of Hezbollah officers operate in Iraq and will be ready to support the Iraqis if the US forces refuse to leave the country. They will abide by and enforce the decision of the Parliament that the US must leave by end January 2021. Hezbollah's long warfare experience has resulted in painful experiences with the US forces in Lebanon and Iraq throughout several decades and has not been forgotten.

Sayyed Nasrallah, in his latest speech, revealed the presence in mid-2014 of Hezbollah officials in Kurdistan to support the Iraqi Kurds against ISIS. This was when the same Kurdish Leader Masoud Barzani announced that it was due to Iran that the Kurds received weapons to defend themselves when the US refused to help Iraq for many months after ISIS expanded its control in northern Iraq.

The Hezbollah leaders did not disclose the continuous visits of Kurdish representatives to Lebanon to meet Hezbollah officials. In fact, Iraqi Sunni and Shia officials, ministers and political leaders regularly visit Lebanon to meet Hezbollah officials and its leader. Hezbollah, like Iran, plays an essential role in easing the dialogue between Iraqis when these find it difficult to overcome their differences together.

The reason why Sayyed Nasrallah revealed the presence of his officers in Kurdistan when meeting Masoud Barzani is a clear message to the world that the "Axis of the Resistance" doesn't depend on one single person. Indeed, Sayyed Nasrallah is showing the unity which reigns among this front, with or without Sardar Soleimani. Barzani is part of Iraq, and Kurdistan expressed its readiness to abide by the decision of the Iraqi Parliament to seek the US forces' departure from the country because the Kurds are not detached from the central government but part of it.

Prior to his assassination, Sardar Soleimani prepared the ground to be followed (if killed on the battlefield, for example) and asked Iranian officials to nominate General Ismail Qaani as his replacement. The Leader of the revolution Sayyed Ali Khamenei ordered Soleimani's wish to be fulfilled and to keep the plans and objectives already in place as they were. Sayyed Khamenei, according to the source, ordered an "increase in support for the Palestinians and, in particular, to all allies where US forces are present."

Sardar Soleimani was looking for his death by his enemies and got what he wished for. He was aware that the "Axis of the Resistance" is highly aware of its objectives. Those among the "Axis of the Resistance" who have a robust internal front are well-established and on track. The problem was mainly in Iraq. But it seems the actions of the US have managed to bring Iraqi factions together- by assassinating the two commanders. Sardar Soleimani could have never expected a rapid achievement of this kind. Anti-US Iraqis are preparing this coming Friday to express their rejection of the US forces present in their country.

Sayyed Ali Khamenei , in his Friday prayers last week, the first for eight years, set up a road map for the "Axis of the Resistance": push the US forces out of the Middle East and support Palestine.

All Palestinian groups, including Hamas, were present at Sardar Soleimani's funeral in Iran and met with General Qaani who promised, "not only to continue support but to increase it according to Sayyed Khamenei's request," said the source. Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas Leader, said from Tehran: "Soleimani is the martyr of Jerusalem".

Many Iraqi commanders were present at the meeting with General Qaani. Most of these have a long record of hostility towards US forces in Iraq during the occupation period (2003-2011). Their commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, was assassinated with Sardar Soleimani and they are seeking revenge. Those leaders have enough motivation to attack the US forces, who have violated the Iraq-US training, cultural and armament agreement. At no time was the US administration given a license to kill in Iraq by the government of Baghdad.

The Iraqi Parliament has spoken: and the assassination of Sardar Soleimani has indeed fallen within the ultimate objectives of the "Axis of the Resistance". The Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister has officially informed all members of the Coalition Forces in Iraq that "their presence, including that of NATO, is now no longer required in Iraq". They have one year to leave. But that absolutely does not exclude the Iraqi need to avenge their commanders.

Palestine constitutes the second objective, as quoted by Sayyed Khamenei. We cannot exclude a considerable boost of support for the Palestinians, much more than the actually existing one. Iran is determined to support the Sunni Palestinians in their objective to have a state of their own in Palestine. The man – Soleimani – is gone and is replaceable like any other man: but the level of commitment to goals has increased. It is hard to imagine the "Axis of the Resistance" remaining idle without engaging themselves somehow in the US Presidential campaign. So, the remainder of 2020 is expected to be hot.

*

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[Jan 24, 2020] Lawrence Wilkerson Lambasts 'the Beast of the National Security State' by Adam Dick

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Wilkerson provided a harsh critique of US foreign policy over the last two decades. Wilkerson states: ..."
"... America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It's part of who we are. It's part of what the American Empire is. ..."
"... We are going to lie, cheat and steal, as [US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] is doing right now, as [President Donald Trump] is doing right now, as [Secretary of Defense Mark Esper] is doing right now, as [Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)] is doing right now, as [Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)] is doing right now, and a host of other members of my political party -- the Republicans -- are doing right now. We are going to cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That's the truth of it, and that's the agony of it. ..."
"... That base voted for Donald Trump because he promised to end these endless wars, he promised to drain the swamp. Well, as I said, an alligator from that swamp jumped out and bit him. And, when he ordered the killing of Qassim Suleimani, he was a member of the national security state in good standing, and all that state knows how to do is make war. ..."
Jan 13, 2020 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Lawrence Wilkerson, a College of William & Mary professor who was chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powel in the George W. Bush administration, powerfully summed up the vile nature of the US national security state in a recent interview with host Amy Goodman at Democracy Now.

Asked by Goodman about the escalation of US conflict with Iran and how it compares with the prior run-up to the Iraq War, Wilkerson provided a harsh critique of US foreign policy over the last two decades. Wilkerson states:

Ever since 9/11, the beast of the national security state, the beast of endless wars, the beast of the alligator that came out of the swamp, for example, and bit Donald Trump just a few days ago, is alive and well.

America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It's part of who we are. It's part of what the American Empire is.

We are going to lie, cheat and steal, as [US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] is doing right now, as [President Donald Trump] is doing right now, as [Secretary of Defense Mark Esper] is doing right now, as [Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)] is doing right now, as [Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)] is doing right now, and a host of other members of my political party -- the Republicans -- are doing right now. We are going to cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That's the truth of it, and that's the agony of it.

What we saw President Trump do was not in President Trump's character, really. Those boys and girls who were getting on those planes at Fort Bragg to augment forces in Iraq, if you looked at their faces, and, even more importantly, if you looked at the faces of the families assembled along the line that they were traversing to get onto the airplanes, you saw a lot of Donald Trump's base. That base voted for Donald Trump because he promised to end these endless wars, he promised to drain the swamp. Well, as I said, an alligator from that swamp jumped out and bit him. And, when he ordered the killing of Qassim Suleimani, he was a member of the national security state in good standing, and all that state knows how to do is make war.

Wilkerson, over the remainder of the two-part interview provides many more insightful comments regarding US foreign policy, including recent developments concerning Iran. Watch Wilkerson's interview here:

Wilkerson is an Academic Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.


Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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[Jan 19, 2020] The frantic attempt to deflect attention from US foreign wars and mainly derisive media coverage of Tulsi Gabbard is a case in point. Is she the harbinger of a growing political movement aiming to dismantle the military empire project?

Highly recommended!
Trump has been a kind of part deranged, part clever political monkey wrench thrown into the works of the USA military machine
Notable quotes:
"... I begin with the premise that the United States is a longstanding cultural catastrophe, and is far along the way in the process of destroying itself, after having destroyed or damaged the prospects of much of the planet. ..."
"... Within the context of the attack on Indochina, on the ground and taking place within the spaces left alive after the B52 bombers et al, there was the 'Phoenix Program'. euphemism for the CIA's ambitious program of technocratic torture, assassination, bribery, corruption, and so on, with tens of thousands of murdered victims. And the military destroyed uncounted villages, a la My Lai. ..."
"... Note then that Trump has almost patented the 'fake news' meme. The idea that the msm is lying about and hiding the truth, non-stop propaganda, is an idea that Trump has pushed repeatedly. Most people on the MofA etc are well aware of that. But for many 'normies', that's not quite as obvious. ..."
"... And yes, he himself could be described as the liar in chief. But doesn't deflect from the great collapse in the status of the msm propaganda machine. And that propaganda machine has been very much associated with the CIA via operation Mockingbird and its generations long progeny. ..."
"... So the attack on the media via fake news is a direct attack on the basic indispensable control mechanism of the deep state, and CIA. ..."
"... Note too that after three Years of Trump, the long standing criminality and corruption of the FBI has never looked as obvious. Again, we don't have to give Trump credit. But it happened on his 'watch'. ..."
"... We're not talking miracle cures here. But Trump has been a kind of part deranged, part clever political monkey wrench thrown into the works. As to whether his disruptive arrival has provided openings for more sensible political and cultural innovations remains to be seen. ..."
"... Many of the internal difficulties that the US faces are distinct from militarism, but related to militarism in the sense that a police state keeping control via surveillance and bs, etc, and spending its money on empire, is not going to prioritize clear honest discourse. In the end, one overarching question for the US like the rest of us is: can we achieve honesty and common sense? ..."
Jan 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Robert Snefjella , Jan 17 2020 23:50 utc | 64
Previously, most discussions of the Trump presidency reflexively proceeded to either visceral disgust etc or accolades of some species. Trumps words and manners dominated. As things developed, and actual results were recorded, a body of more sober second thought developed. And a variation on these more experience/reality based assessments is what b has delivered above.

Some of my points that follow are repeats, some are new. On the whole I see Trump as a helpful and positive-result really bad President.

I begin with the premise that the United States is a longstanding cultural catastrophe, and is far along the way in the process of destroying itself, after having destroyed or damaged the prospects of much of the planet.

As one aspect of this cultural catastrophe, let's refer back to the United States attack on Indochina, which accomplished millions of dead and millions of wounded people, and birth defects still in uncounted numbers as a legacy of dioxin etc laden chemical warfare. The millions of dead included some tens of thousands of American soldiers, and even more wounded physically, and even more wounded 'mentally'.

Within the context of the attack on Indochina, on the ground and taking place within the spaces left alive after the B52 bombers et al, there was the 'Phoenix Program'. euphemism for the CIA's ambitious program of technocratic torture, assassination, bribery, corruption, and so on, with tens of thousands of murdered victims. And the military destroyed uncounted villages, a la My Lai.

When asked what it was all about, Kissinger lied in an inadvertently illuminating way: "basically nothing" was how he put it, if memory serves.

During and after the attack on Indochina, the US trained, aided, financed, etc active death squads in Central and South America, demonstrating that the United States was an equal opportunity death dealer.

Now this was a bit of a meander away from the Trump topic, but note that Trump came to power within the above cultural context and much more pathology besides, talking about ending the warfare state. Again, this is not an attempt to portray Trump as either sincere or insincere in that policy. In terms of ideas, it was roughly speaking a good idea.

Another main part of the Trump message was 'let's rebuild America'. And along with the de-militarization and national program of rejuvenation there was the 'drain the swamp' meme, which again resonated. And once again, I am not arguing that Trump was sincere, or for that matter insincere. That's irrelevant to the point I'm trying to make: which could essentially by reduced to: what will be the actual meaning and potential impact of Trump?

Note then that Trump has almost patented the 'fake news' meme. The idea that the msm is lying about and hiding the truth, non-stop propaganda, is an idea that Trump has pushed repeatedly. Most people on the MofA etc are well aware of that. But for many 'normies', that's not quite as obvious.

And yes, he himself could be described as the liar in chief. But doesn't deflect from the great collapse in the status of the msm propaganda machine. And that propaganda machine has been very much associated with the CIA via operation Mockingbird and its generations long progeny.

So the attack on the media via fake news is a direct attack on the basic indispensable control mechanism of the deep state, and CIA.

Note too that after three Years of Trump, the long standing criminality and corruption of the FBI has never looked as obvious. Again, we don't have to give Trump credit. But it happened on his 'watch'.

Now the deep cultural, including political, pathology in the United States, in its many manifestations remain. We're not talking miracle cures here. But Trump has been a kind of part deranged, part clever political monkey wrench thrown into the works. As to whether his disruptive arrival has provided openings for more sensible political and cultural innovations remains to be seen.

The frantic attempt to deflect attention from and give mainly derisive media coverage to Tulsi Gabbard is a case in point. Is she the harbinger of a growing political movement aiming to dismantle the military empire project?

Many of the internal difficulties that the US faces are distinct from militarism, but related to militarism in the sense that a police state keeping control via surveillance and bs, etc, and spending its money on empire, is not going to prioritize clear honest discourse. In the end, one overarching question for the US like the rest of us is: can we achieve honesty and common sense?

[Jan 18, 2020] The inability of the USA elite to tell the truth about the genuine aim of policy despite is connected with the fact that the real goal is to attain Full Spectrum Dominance over the planet and its people such that neoliberal bankers can rule the world

Highly recommended!
Jan 18, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jan 17 2020 19:24 utc | 6

Yes! The inability to tell the truth about the genuine aim of policy despite its being published because that policy goal--to attain Full Spectrum Dominance over the planet and its people such that neoliberal bankers can rule the world--is actually 100% against genuine American Values as expressed by the Four Freedoms (1.Freedom of speech; 2.Freedom of worship; 3.Freedom from want; 4.Freedom from fear) and the articulated goals/vision of the UN Charter--World Peace arrived at via collective security and diplomacy, not war--which are still taught in schools along with Wilson's 14 Points. Then of course, there's the war against British Tyranny known as the Spirit of '76 and the Revolutionary War for Independence and the documents that bookend that era. In 1948, Kennan stated, in an internal discussion that was never censored, the USA consumed 60% of global resources with only 5% of the population and needed to somehow come up with a policy to both continue and justify that great disparity to both the domestic and international audience. Yet, those truths were never provided in an overt manner to the American public or the international audience. The upshot being the US federal government since it dropped the bombs on Japan has been lying or misleading its people such that it's now habitual. And Trump's diatribe against the generals reflects the reality that he too was taken in by those lies.

[Jan 18, 2020] The joke is on us: Without the USSR the USA oligarchy resorted to cannibalism and devour the American people

Highly recommended!
Jan 18, 2020 | www.theguardian.com

In another sense, however, the passing of the cold war could not have been more disorienting. In 1987, Georgi Arbatov, a senior adviser to the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev , had warned: "We are going to do a terrible thing to you – we are going to deprive you of an enemy."

...Winning the cold war brought Americans face-to-face with a predicament comparable to that confronting the lucky person who wins the lottery: hidden within a windfall is the potential for monumental disaster.

[Jan 17, 2020] Ukraine is a deeply sick patient. The destiny of ordinary Ukrainians is deeply tragic. Diaspora is greedy and want a piece of cake immediately

Highly recommended!
Edited for clarity
Notable quotes:
"... The infrastructure they inherited from the USSR mostly is now fully amortized. For example railway park in in complete ruin. Central heating pipeline communications in cities like Kiev are in ruins too. In the USSR they tried to reuse the heat from electric stations and have elaborate hot water delivery networks from each, which provided heat to a large city blocks. Now pipes are completely rusted (which in 30 years is no surprise) and are in the state of constant repair. ..."
"... But when the standard of living dropped to such extent as it dropped after 2014 sentiments toward even slightly different ethnic groups turn hostile too. This is the case in Ukraine. In this sense you are wrong. There is no more unity now then existed before 2014. I would say there is less unity now. ..."
"... Sentiments turned against both Donbass dwellers and Ukrainians from Western Ukraine. In Kiev the derogatory term for both categories is "ponaekhali" ("come to overcrowd the place and displace us", or something along those lines; it's difficult to translate, but the term carries strong derogatory meaning) ..."
"... The nationalistic hysteria of 2014-2017 now mostly changed into deep depression: how a tiny group of far right nationalist and football hooligan gangs managed to get to power against the will of the majority of the country and destroy its economy. That's why Zelensky was elected and most far right parliamentarians lost their seats. Most of Western Ukraine voted for him, which is telling you something. ..."
"... The problem for Ukraine is that with the cut of economic ties with Russia the natural path for economics is probably down. De-industrialization, Baltic style, is raining supreme. Many enterprises survived the period from 1991 to 2014 only due to orders from Russia. Especially remnants of military industrial complex and manufacturing industry. Now what? Selling land (like Zelensky is trying to do) ? ..."
Jan 17, 2020 | www.unz.com

likbez says:January 17, 2020 at 8:35 am GMT • 1,500 Words @AP AP,

I agree with JPM:

I feel like robber barons in Kyiv have harmed you more through their looting of the country than impoverished Eastern Ukrainians, who were the biggest losers in the post-Soviet deindustrilization, have harmed you by existing and dying of diseases of poverty and despair.

It reminds me of how coastal shit-libs in America talk about "fly-over" country and want all the poor whites in Appalachia to die. I'm living in a country whose soul is totally poisoned. A country that is dying. While all this is happening, whites have split themselves into little factions focused on political point scoring.

I doubt people like Zelensky, Kolomoisky, Poroshenko and all the rest are going to turn Ukraine into an earthly paradise. They're more likely to be Neros playing harps, while Ukraine burns.

Looks like your understanding of Ukraine is mostly based of a short trip to Lvov and reading neoliberal MSM and forums. That's not enough, unless you want to be the next Max Boot.

Ukraine is a deeply sick patient, which surprisingly still stands despite all hardships (Ukrainians demonstrated amazing, superhuman resilience in the crisis that hit them, which greatly surprised all experts).

The infrastructure they inherited from the USSR mostly is now fully amortized. For example railway park in in complete ruin. Central heating pipeline communications in cities like Kiev are in ruins too. In the USSR they tried to reuse the heat from electric stations and have elaborate hot water delivery networks from each, which provided heat to a large city blocks. Now pipes are completely rusted (which in 30 years is no surprise) and are in the state of constant repair.

And, what is really tragic Ukraine now it is a debt state. Usually the latter is the capital sentence for the county. Few managed to escape even in more favorable conditions (South Korea is one.) So chances of economic recovery are slim: with such level of parasitic rent to the West the natural path is down and down. Don't cry for me Argentina.

And there is no money to replace already destroyed due to bad maintenance infrastructure, but surprisingly large parts of Soviets era infrastructure still somehow hold. For example, electrical networks, subway cars. But other part are already crumbling.

For example, in Kiev that means in some buildings you have winter without central heating, you have elevators in 16-storey buildings that work one or two weeks in month, you have no hot water, sometimes you have no water at all for a week or more, etc). Pensioners have problem with paying heating bills, so some of them are forced to live in non-heated apartments.

And that's in Kiev/Kyiv (Western Ukrainians love to change established names, much like communists) . In provincial cities it is a real horror show when even electricity supply became a problem. The countryside dwellers at least has its own food, but the situation for them is also very very difficult.

Other big problem -- few jobs and almost no well paid job, unless you are young, know English and have a university education (and are lucky). Before 2014 approximately 70% of Ukrainian labor migrants (in total a couple of million) came from the western part of the country, in which migration had become a widespread method of coping with poverty, the absence of jobs and low salaries.

Now this practice spread to the whole county. That destroyed many families.

The USA plays its usual games selling vassals crap at inflated prices (arms, uranium rods, coal, locomotives, cars, etc) , which Ukrainians can't refuse. Trump is simply a typical gangster in this respect, running a protection racket.

The rate of emigration and shrinking population is another fundamental problem. Mass emigration ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Ukraine ) is continuing even after Zelensky election. Looting by the West also continues unabated. This is disaster capitalism in action.

Add to those problems inflated military expenses to fight the civil war in Donbass which deprives other sectors of necessary funds (with the main affect of completely alienating Russia) and "Huston, we have a problem."

May be this is a natural path for xUSSR countries after the dissolution of the USSR, I don't know.

But the destiny of ordinary Ukrainians is deeply tragic: they wanted better life and got a really harsh one. Especially pensioners (typical pension is something like $60-$70) a month in Kiev, much less outside of Kiev. How they physically survive I do not fully understand.

There are still pro-Russian areas but being free of Crimea and Donbass means Ukraine can no longer be characterized as "split."

I agree that there is a substantial growth of anti-Russian sentiments. It is really noticeable. As well as growth of the usage of the Ukrainian language (previously Kiev, unlike Lvov was completely Russian-language city).

And in Western Ukraine Russiphobia was actually always a part of "national identity". The negative definition of national identity, if you wish. See popular slogan "Hto ne skache toi moskal" ("those who do not jump are Moskal" -- where Moskal is the derogatory name for a Russian). Here is this slogan in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6rfqr9afMc ;-)

But when the standard of living dropped to such extent as it dropped after 2014 sentiments toward even slightly different ethnic groups turn hostile too. This is the case in Ukraine. In this sense you are wrong. There is no more unity now then existed before 2014. I would say there is less unity now.

Sentiments turned against both Donbass dwellers and Ukrainians from Western Ukraine. In Kiev the derogatory term for both categories is "ponaekhali" ("come to overcrowd the place and displace us", or something along those lines; it's difficult to translate, but the term carries strong derogatory meaning) .

"Donetskie" (former Donbass dwellers, often displaced by the war) are generally strongly resented and luxury cars, villas, etc and other excesses of neoliberal elite are attributed mostly to them (Donbass neoliberal elite did moved to Kiev, not Moscow) , while "zapadentsi" are also, albeit less strongly, resented because they often use clan politics within institutions, and often do not put enough effort (or are outright incompetent), as they rely on its own clan ties for survival.

This sentiment is stronger to the south of Kiev where the resentment is directed mainly against Western Ukrainians, not against "Donetskie" like in Kiev. And I am talking not only about Odessa. Western Ukrainians are now strongly associated with corrupt ways of getting lucrative positions (via family, clan or political connections), being incompetent and doing nothing useful.

What surprise me is that this resentment against "zapadentsi" and "Poloshenko clan" is shared by many people from Western Ukraine. The target is often slightly more narrow, for example Hutsuls in Lviv ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hutsuls )

The nationalistic hysteria of 2014-2017 now mostly changed into deep depression: how a tiny group of far right nationalist and football hooligan gangs managed to get to power against the will of the majority of the country and destroy its economy. That's why Zelensky was elected and most far right parliamentarians lost their seats. Most of Western Ukraine voted for him, which is telling you something.

The problem for Ukraine is that with the cut of economic ties with Russia the natural path for economics is probably down. De-industrialization, Baltic style, is raining supreme. Many enterprises survived the period from 1991 to 2014 only due to orders from Russia. Especially remnants of military industrial complex and manufacturing industry. Now what? Selling land (like Zelensky is trying to do) ?

Ukraine will probably eventually lose a large part of its chemical industry because without subsidies for gas it just can't complete even taking into account low labor costs. And manufacturing because without Russian market it is difficult to find a place for their production in already established markets, competing only in price and suffering in quality (I remember something about Iraq returning Ukrainians all ordered armored carriers due to defect is the the armor https://sputniknews.com/military/201705221053859853-armored-vehicles-defects-extent /). Although at least for the Ukrainian arm industry there is place on the market in countries which are used to old Soviet armaments, because those are rehashed Soviet products.

Add to this corrupt and greedy diaspora (all those Jaresko, Chalupas, Freelands, Vindmans, etc ) from the USA and Canada (and not only diaspora -- look at Biden, Kerry, etc) who want their piece of the pie after 2014 "Revolution of dignity" (what a sad joke) and you will see the problems more clearly. Not that much changed from the period 1991-2014 where Ukraine was also royally fleeced by own oligarchs allied with Western banksers, simply now this leads to quicker deterioration of the standard of living.

None of Eastern European countries benefited from a color revolution staged by the USA. This is about opening the country not only to multinationals (while they loot the county they at least behave within a certain legal bounds, demonstrating at least decency of gangsters like in Godfather), but to petty foreign criminals from diaspora and outside of it who allies with the local oligarchs and smaller nouveau riche and are siphoning all the county wealth to western banks as soon as possible. Greed of the disapora is simply unbounded. https://neweasterneurope.eu/2016/08/26/the-ukrainian-diaspora-as-a-recipient-of-oligarchic-cash/

Of course, Ukrainian diaspora is not uniform. Still, outside well-know types from the tiny Mid-Eastern country, the most dangerous people for Ukraine are probably Ukrainians from diaspora with dual citizenship

[Jan 12, 2020] MIC along with Wall Street controls the government and the country

Highly recommended!
Jan 12, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
  1. likbez , January 12, 2020 5:30 pm

    Everyone keeps dancing around it: Iraqi PM Abdul-Mahdi has reported that Soleimani was on the way to see him with a reply to a Saudi peace proposal. Who profits from Peace? Who does not?

    The killing of Soleimani, while a tragic even with far reaching consequences, is just an illustration of the general rule: MIC does not profit from peace. And MIC dominates any national security state, into which the USA was transformed by the technological revolution on computers and communications, as well as the events of 9/11.

    The USA government can be viewed as just a public relations center for MIC. That's why Trump/Pompeo/Esper/Pence gang position themselves as rabid neocons, which means MIC lobbyists in order to hold their respective positions. There is no way out of this situation. This is a classic Catch 22 trap.

    The fact that a couple of them are also "Rapture" obsessed religious bigots means that the principle of separation of church and state does no matter when MIC interests are involved.

    The health of MIC requires maintaining an inflated defense budget at all costs. Which, in turn, drives foreign wars and the drive to capture other nations' resources to compensate for MIC appetite. The drive which is of course closely allied with Wall Street interests (disaster capitalism.)

    In such conditions fake "imminent threat" assassinations necessarily start happening. Although the personality of Pompeo and the fact that he is a big friend of the current head of Mossad probably played some role.

    It's really funny that Trump (probably with the help of his "reference group," which includes Adelson and Kushner), managed to appoint as the top US diplomat a person who was trained as a mechanic engineer and specialized as a tank repair mechanic. And who was a long-time military contractor. So it is quite natural that he represents interests of MIC.

    IMHO under Trump/Pompeo/Esper trio some kind of additional skirmishes with Iran are a real possibility: they are necessary to maintain the current inflated level of defense spending.

    State of the US infrastructure, the actual level of unemployment (U6 is ~7% which some neolibs call full employment ;-), and the level of poverty of the bottom 33% of the USA population be damned. Essentially the bottom 33% is the third world country within the USA.

    "If you make more than $15,000 (roughly the annual salary of a minimum-wage employee working 40 hours per week), you earn more than 32.2% of Americans

    The 894 people that earn more than $20 million make more than 99.99989% of Americans, and are compensated a cumulative $37,009,979,568 per year. "

    ( https://www.huffpost.com/entry/income-inequality-crisis_n_4221012 )

[Jan 12, 2020] US has been preaching human rights while mounting wars and lying.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Over $7 trillion spent while homelessness is rampant. Healthcare is unaffordable for the 99% of the population. ..."
Jan 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Likklemore , Jan 11 2020 17:48 utc | 201

At 2016, here is the long bombing list of the 32 countries by the late William Blum. Did I mention sanctions is an Act of War?

Little u.s. has been preaching human rights while mounting wars and lying. Albright thought the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children were worth it. !!! it was worth killings and maiming.

Over $7 trillion spent while homelessness is rampant. Healthcare is unaffordable for the 99% of the population.

The u.s. will leave Iraq and Syria aka Saigon 1975 or horizontal. It's over.

2020: u.s. Stands Alone.

Searching for friends. Now, after Russiagate here is little pompous: "we want to be friends with Russia." Sanctions much excepting we need RD180 engines, seizure of diplomatic properties. Who are you kidding?

"we seek a constructive and productive relationship with the Russian Federation".

What a bunch of hypocrites? How dare you criticize commenters who see little u.s. in the light of day, not a shining beacon on the hill..

[Jan 12, 2020] Luongo Fears "An Abyss Of Losses" As Iraq Becomes MidEast Battleground

Highly recommended!
Jan 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

The future of the U.S.'s involvement in the Middle East is in Iraq. The exchange of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran occurred wholly on Iraqi soil and it has become the site on which that war will continue.

Israel continues to up the ante on Iran, following President Trump's lead by bombing Shia militias stationed near the Al Bukumai border crossing between Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. and Israel are determined this border crossing remains closed and have demonstrated just how far they are willing to go to prevent the free flow of goods and people across this border.

The regional allies of Iran are to be kept weak, divided and constantly under harassment.

Iraq is the battleground because the U.S. lost in Syria. Despite the presence of U.S. troops squatting on Syrian oil fields in Deir Ezzor province or the troops sitting in the desert protecting the Syrian border with Jordan, the Russians, Hezbollah and the Iranian Quds forces continue to reclaim territory previously lost to the Syrian government.

Now with Turkey redeploying its pet Salafist head-choppers from Idlib to Libya to fight General Haftar's forces there to legitimize its claim to eastern Mediterannean gas deposits, the restoration of Syria's territorial integrity west of the Euphrates River is nearly complete.

The defenders of Syria can soon transition into the rebuilders thereof, if allowed. And they didn't do this alone, they had a silent partner in China the entire time.

And, if I look at this situation honestly, it was China stepping out from behind the shadows into the light that is your inciting incident for this chapter in Iraq's story.

China moving in to sign a $10.1 billion deal with the Iraqi government to begin the reconstruction of its ruined oil and gas industry in exchange for oil is of vital importance.

It doubles China's investment in Iraq while denying the U.S. that money and influence.

This happened after a massive $53 billion deal between Exxon-Mobil and Petrochina was put on hold after the incident involving Iran shooting down a U.S. Global Hawk drone in June.

With the U.S balking over the Exxon/Petrochina big deal, Iraqi Prime Minster Adel Abdul Mahdi signed the new one with China in October. Mahdi brought up the circumstances surrounding that in Iraqi parliaments during the session in which it passed the resolution recommending removal of all foreign forces from Iraq.

Did Trump openly threaten Mahdi over this deal as I covered in my podcast on this? Did the U.S. gin up protests in Baghdad, amplifying unrest over growing Iranian influence in the country?

And, if not, were these threats simply implied or carried by a minion (Pompeo, Esper, a diplomat)? Because the U.S.'s history of regime change operations is well documented. Well understood color revolution tactics used successfully in places like Ukraine , where snipers were deployed to shoot protesters and police alike to foment violence between them at the opportune time were on display in Baghdad.

Mahdi openly accused Trump of threatening him, but that sounds more like Mahdi using the current impeachment script to invoke the sinister side of Trump and sell his case.

It's not that I don't think Trump capable of that kind of threat, I just don't think he's stupid enough to voice it on an open call. Donald Trump is capable of many impulsive things, openly threatening to remove an elected Prime Minister on a recorded line is not one of them.

Mahdi has been under the U.S.'s fire since he came to power in late 2018. He was the man who refused Trump during Trump's impromptu Christmas visit to Iraq in 2018 , refusing to be summoned to a clandestine meeting at the U.S. embassy rather than Trump visit him as a head of state, an equal.

He was the man who declared the Iraqi air space closed after Israeli air attacks on Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) positions in September.

And he's the person, at the same time, being asked by Trump to act as a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran in peace talks for Yemen.

So, the more we look at this situation the more it is clear that Abdul Madhi, the first Iraqi prime minister since the 2003 U.S. invasion push for more Iraqi sovereignty, is emerging as the pivotal figure in what led up to the attack on General Soleimani and what comes after Iran's subsequent retaliation.

It's clear that Trump doesn't want to fight a war with Iran in Iran. He wants them to acquiesce to his unreasonable demands and begin negotiating a new nuclear deal which definitively stops the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon, and as P atrick Henningsen at 21st Century Wire thinks ,

Trump now wants a new deal which features a prohibition on Iran's medium range missiles , and after events this week, it's obvious why. Wednesday's missile strike by Iran demonstrates that the US can no longer operate in the region so long as Iran has the ability to extend its own deterrence envelope westwards to Syria, Israel, and southwards to the Arabian Peninsula, and that includes all US military installations located within that radius.

Iraq doesn't want to be that battlefield. And Iran sent the message with those two missile strikes that the U.S. presence in Iraq is unsustainable and that any thought of retreating to the autonomous Kurdish region around the air base at Erbil is also a non-starter.

The big question, after this attack, is whether U.S. air defenses around the Ain al Assad airbase west of Ramadi were active or not. If they were then Trump's standing down after the air strikes signals what Patrick suggests, a new Middle East in the making.

If they were not turned on then the next question is why? To allow Iran to save face after Trump screwed up murdering Soleimani?

I'm not capable of believing such Q-tard drivel at this point. It's far more likely that the spectre of Russian electronics warfare and radar evasion is lurking in the subtext of this story and the U.S. truly now finds itself after a second example of Iranian missile technology in a nascent 360 degree war in the region.

It means that Iran's threats against the cities of Haifa and Dubai were real.

In short, it means the future of the U.S. presence in Iraq now measures in months not years.

Because both China and Russia stand to gain ground with a newly-united Shi'ite Iraqi population. Mahdi is now courting Russia to sell him S-300 missile defense systems to allow him to enforce his demands about Iraqi airspace.

Moqtada al-Sadr is mobilizing his Madhi Army to oust the U.S. from Iraq. Iraq is key to the U.S. presence in the region. Without Iraq the U.S. position in Syria is unsustainable.

If the U.S. tries to retreat to Kurdish territory and push again for Masoud Barzani and his Peshmerga forces to declare independence Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will go ballistic.

And you can expect him to make good on his threat to close the Incerlik airbase, another critical logistical juncture for U.S. force projection in the region.

But it all starts with Mahdi's and Iraq's moves in the coming weeks. But, with Trump rightly backing down from escalating things further and not following through on his outlandish threats against Iran, it may be we're nearing the end of this intractable standoff.

Back in June I told you that Iran had the ability to fight asymmetrically against the U.S., not through direct military confrontation but through the after-effects of a brief, yet violent period of war in which all U.S., Israeli and Arab assets in the Middle East come under fire from all directions.

It sent this same message then that by attacking oil tankers it could make the transport of oil untenable and not insurable. We got a taste of it back then and Trump, then, backed down.

And the resultant upheaval in the financial markets creating an abyss of losses, cross-asset defaults, bank failures and government collapses.

Trump has no real option now but to negotiate while Iraq puts domestic pressure on him to leave and Russia/China come in to provide critical economic and military support to assist Mahdi rally his country back towards some semblance of sovereignty

* * *

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MalteseFalcon , 3 minutes ago link

OK kids,

Play time is over.

China needs Iraqi oil to build the BRI.

Last one into Africom is a rotten egg!!!!

daveeemc2 , 14 minutes ago link

This is the most delicious of irony

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_cost_of_the_Iraq_War

The american imperial style of intervention is dead.

China debt trap model of belt and road is the path forward.

They will win hearts and minds, and not a single shot fired.

USA gets debt from paying war machine and killed and maimed soldiers whose personal psychiatry will haunt them for an entire lifetime.

In the end, Americans get nothing but debt and risk their own soverignty as a population ages and infrastructure crumbles....kinda like now.

MalteseFalcon , 1 minute ago link

The last 30 years of American foreign policy has been an unmitigated disaster.

yerfej , 26 minutes ago link

How about "what is the goal?" There is none of course. The assholes in the Washington/MIC just need war to keep them relevant. What if the US were to closed down all those wars and foreign bases? THEN the taxpayer could demand some accounting for the trillions that are wasted on complete CRAP. There are too many old leftovers from the cold war who seem to think there is benefit to fighting wars in shithole places just because those wars are the only ones going on right now. The stupidity of the ****** in the US military/MIC/Washington is beyond belief. JUST LEAVE you ******* idiots.

Rusticus2.0 , 22 minutes ago link

Your comment should have been directed at Trump, the commander in chief.

I guess that's still a bridge too far, but sooner than later you're going to have to cross it.

BobEore , 29 minutes ago link

Excellent Smithers, excellent:

Sometimes, in treading thru the opaque, sandstorm o ******** swept wastes of the ' desert of the really real '...

one must rely upon a marking... some kind of guidepost, however tenuous, to show you to be still... on the trail, not lost in the vast haunted reaches of post-reality. And you know, Tommy is that sort of guide; the sort of guy who you take to the fairgrounds, set him up with the 'THROW THE BALL THRU THE HOOP... GUARANTEED PRIZE TO SCOOP' kiosk...

and he misses every time. Just by watching Tom run through his paces here... zeroing in on the exact WRONG interpretation of events ... every dawg gone time... one resets their compass to tru course and relaxes into the flow agin! Thanks Tom! Let's break down ... the Schlitzy shopping list of sloppy errors:

Israel continues to up the ante on Iran, f ollowing President Trump's lead by bombing Shia militias stationed near the Al Bukumai border crossing between Syria and Iraq. Urusalem.. and its pathetically obedient dogsbody USSA ... are busy setting up RIMFISTAN Tom.. you really need to start expanding your reading list; On both sides of that border you mention .. they will be running - and guarding - pipeline running to the mothership. Shia miitias and that project just don't mix. Nobody gives a frying fluck bout your imaginary 'land bridge to the Med'... except you and the gomers. And you and they aren't ANYWHERES near to here.

  • Abdul Madhi, the first Iraqi prime minister since the 2003 U.S. invasion push for more Iraqi sovereignty, is emerging as the pivotal figure in what led up to the attack on General Soleimani and what comes after Iran's subsequent retaliation.
  • Ok... this is getting completely embarrassing. The man is a 'caretaker' Tom... that's similar to a 'janitor' - he's on the way out. If you really think thats' being pivotal... I'm gonna suggest that you've 'pivoted' on one of your goats too many times.

Look, Tom... I did sincerely undertake to hold your arm, and guide you through this to a happier place. But you... are underwater my man. And that's quite an accomplishment, since we be traveling through the deserts of the really real. You've enumerated a list of things which has helped me to understand just how completely distorted is the picture of the situation here in mudded east.. is... in the minds of the myriad victims of your alt-media madness. And I thank you for that. But its time we part company.

These whirring klaidescope glasses I put on, in order to help me see how you see things, have given me a bit of a headache. Time to return to seeing the world... as it really works!

simpson seers , 14 minutes ago link

says the yankee chicken ******......

Fireman , 32 minutes ago link

Like Ukraine, everything the anglozionazi empire of **** smear$...turns to ****.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVMbCTWRcSs

https://theduran.com/ukranian-whistleblower-reveals-mh-17-tragedy-was-orchestrated-by-poroshenko-and-british-secret-service/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=wR1NFI6TBH0

BGO , 39 minutes ago link

The whole *target and destroy* Iran (and Iraq) clusterfuck has always been about creating new profit scenarios, profit theaters, for the MIC.

If the US govt was suddenly forced to stop making and selling **** designed to kill people... if the govt were forced to stopping selling **** to other people so they can kill people... if the govt were forced to stop stockpiling **** designed to kill people just so other people would stop building and stockpiling **** designed to kill people... first the US then the world would collapse... everyone would finally see... the US is a nation of people that allows itself to be propped up by the worst sort of people... an infinitesimally small group of gangsters who legally make insane amounts of money... by creating in perpetuity... forever new scenarios that allow them to kill other people.

Jesus ******* Christ ZeroHedge software ******* sucks.

Fireman , 40 minutes ago link

Understanding why Agent Orange is a meat puppet.

The following has been known to cure T.D.S.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/NJF06yjvdErM/

Wantoknow , 44 minutes ago link

Why has Trump no real option? What do you believe are the limits of Trump's options that assure he must negotiate? Perhaps all out war is not yet possible politically in the US, but public sentiment has been manipulated before. Why not now?

One must not yet reject the idea that the road to Moscow and Beijing does not run through Iran. Throwing the US out of the Middle East would be a grievous failure for the deep state which has demonstrated itself to be absolutely ruthless. It is hard to believe the US will leave without a much more serious war forcing the issue.

So far Trump has appeared artless and that may continue but that artlessness may well bring a day when Trump will not back down.

Fireman , 39 minutes ago link

Why has Trump no real option?

Ask the towel girls at Maralago and Jeffrey Pedovore.

Rusticus2.0 , 49 minutes ago link

The motivation behind Trump pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action wasn't because, after careful analytical study of the plan, he decided it was a bad deal. It was because Israel demanded it as it didn't fit into their best interests and, as with the refreezing of relationships with Cuba, it was a easier way to undo Obama policy rather than tackling Obamacare. Hardly sound judgement.

The war will continue in Iraq as the Shia majority mobilize against an occupying force that has been asked to leave, but refuse. What will quickly become apparent is that this war is about to become far more multifaceted with Iraqi and Iranian proxies targeting American interests across numerous fronts.

Trump is the head of a business empire; Downsizing is not a strategy that he's ever employed; His business history is a case study in go big or go bust.

not-me---it-was-the-dog , 32 minutes ago link

so it will work like this....

trump's zionist overlords have demanded he destroy iran.

as a simple lackey, he agreed, but he does need political cover to do so.

thus the equating of any attack or threat of attack by any group of any political persuasion as originating from iran.

any resistance by the shia in iraq will be considered as being directed from iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

any resistance by the currect governement of iraq will be considered as being directed from iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

any resistance by the sunni in iraq will be considered subversion by iran, or a false flag by iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

trump's refusal to follow the SOFA agreement, and heed the call of the democratic government we claim to have gone in to install, is specifically designed to lead to more violence, which in turn can be blamed on iran's "malign" influence, which gives the entity lackeys cover to spread more democracy.

MIGA!

Brazen Heist II , 55 minutes ago link

America is a nation of imbeciles. They have meddled in Iraq since the 1980s and still can't subdue the place to their content.

Dey hate us for our freedumbs!

Ghost who Walks , 54 minutes ago link

I'm more positive that Iraq can resolve its issues without starting a Global War.

The information shared by the Iraqi Prime Minister goes part way to awakening the population as to what is happening and why.

Once more information starts to leak out (and it will from those individuals who want to avoid extinction) the broad mass of the global population can take action to protect themselves from the psychopaths.

new game , 1 hour ago link

This is what empires in decline do. Hubris...

meanwhile China rises with Strategic economic investment.

And the econ hitmen aren't done yet...

moar war...

Arising , 1 hour ago link

China moving in to sign a $10.1 billion deal with the Iraqi government to begin the reconstruction of its ruined oil and gas industry in exchange for oil is of vital importance.

Come on Tom, you should know better than that: the U.S will destroy any agreements between China and the people of Iraq.

The oil will continue to be stolen and sent to Occupied Palestine to administer and the people of Iraq will be in constant revolt, protest mode and subjugation- but they will never know they are being manipulated by the thieving zionists in D.C and Tel aviv.

Ms No , 1 hour ago link

Agreed. It will take nothing short of a miracle to stop this. Time isnt on their side though so they better get on it. They will do something big to get it going.

RoyalDraco , 14 minutes ago link

This isn't "humanity." Few people are psychopathic killers. It is being run by a small cliche of Satanists who are well on their way to enslaving humanity in a dystopia even George Orwell could not imagine. They control most of the levers of power and influence and have done so for centuries.

Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

- Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring's testimony before the Nuremberg tribunal on crimes against humanity

[Jan 10, 2020] The Saker interviews Michael Hudson

Highly recommended!
Looks like Iran is Catch22 for the USA: it can destroy it, but only at the cost of losing empire and dollar hegemony...
Notable quotes:
"... The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire. In effect, foreign countries are beginning to respond to the United States what the ten tribes of Israel said when they withdrew from the southern kingdom of Judah, whose king Rehoboam refused to lighten his demands (1 Kings 12). They echoed the cry of Sheba son of Bikri a generation earlier: "Look after your own house, O David!" The message is: What do other countries have to gain by remaining in the US unipolar neoliberalized world, as compared to using their own wealth to build up their own economies? It's an age-old problem. ..."
"... The dollar will still play a role in US trade and investment, but it will be as just another currency, held at arms length until it finally gives up its domineering attempt to strip other countries' wealth for itself. However, its demise may not be a pretty sight. ..."
"... Conflict in the ME has traditionally almost always been about oil [and of course Israel]. This situation is different. It is only partially about oil and Israel, but OVERWHHEMINGLY it is about the BRI. ..."
"... The salient factor as I see it is the Oil for Technology initiative that Iraq signed with China shortly before it slid into this current mess. ..."
"... This was a mechanism whereby China would buy Iraq oil and these funds would be used directly to fund infrastructure and self-sufficiency initiatives and technologies that would help to drag Iraq out of the complete disaster that the US war had created in this country. A key part of this would be that China would also make extra loans available at the same time to speed up this development. ..."
"... "Iraq's Finance Ministry that the country had started exporting 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to China in October as part of the 20-year oil-for-infrastructure deal agreed between the two countries." ..."
"... "For Iraq and Iran, China's plans are particularly far-reaching, OilPrice.com has been told by a senior oil industry figure who works closely with Iran's Petroleum Ministry and Iraq's Oil Ministry. China will begin with the oil and gas sector and work outwards from that central point. In addition to being granted huge reductions on buying Iranian oil and gas, China is to be given the opportunity to build factories in both Iran and Iraq – and build-out infrastructure, such as railways – overseen by its own management staff from Chinese companies. These are to have the same operational structure and assembly lines as those in China, so that they fit seamlessly into various Chinese companies' assembly lines' process for whatever product a particular company is manufacturing, whilst also being able to use the still-cheap labour available in both Iraq and Iraq." ..."
"... Hudson is so good. He's massively superior to most so called military analysts and alternative bloggers on the net. He can clearly see the over arching picture and how the military is used to protect and project it. The idea that the US is going to leave the middle east until they are forced to is so blind as to be ridiculous. ..."
"... I'd never thought of that "stationary aircraft carrier" comparison between Israel and the British, very apt. ..."
"... Trump et al assassinated someone who was on a diplomatic mission. This action was so far removed from acceptable behavior that it must have been considered to be "by any means and at all costs". ..."
"... This article, published by Strategic Culture, features a translation of Mahdi's speech to the Iraqi parliament in which he states that Trump threatened him with assassination and the US admitted to killing hundreds of demonstrators using Navy SEAL snipers. ..."
"... This description provided by Mr Hudson is no Moore than the financial basis behind the Cebrowski doctrine instituted on 9/11. https://www.voltairenet.org/article ..."
"... "The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire." ..."
"... The US govt. have long since paid off most every European politician. Thusly, Europe, as separate nations that should be remain still under the yolk of the US Financial/Political/Military power. ..."
"... In any event, it is the same today. Energy underlies, not only the military but, all of world civilization. Oil and gas are overwhelmingly the source of energy for the modern world. Without it, civilization collapses. Thus, he who controls oil (and gas) controls the world. ..."
"... the link between the US $$$ and Saudi Oil, is the absolute means of the American Dollar to reign complete. This payment system FEEDS both the US Military, but WALL STREET, hedge funds, the US/EU oligarchs – to name just a few entities. ..."
Jan 09, 2020 | thesaker.is

[this interview was made for the Unz Review ]

Introduction: After posting Michael Hudson's article " America Escalates its "Democratic" Oil War in the Near East " on the blog, I decided to ask Michael to reply to a few follow-up questions. Michael very kindly agreed. Please see our exchange below.

The Saker

-- -- -

The Saker: Trump has been accused of not thinking forward, of not having a long-term strategy regarding the consequences of assassinating General Suleimani. Does the United States in fact have a strategy in the Near East, or is it only ad hoc?

Michael Hudson: Of course American strategists will deny that the recent actions do not reflect a deliberate strategy, because their long-term strategy is so aggressive and exploitative that it would even strike the American public as being immoral and offensive if they came right out and said it.

President Trump is just the taxicab driver, taking the passengers he has accepted – Pompeo, Bolton and the Iran-derangement syndrome neocons – wherever they tell him they want to be driven. They want to pull a heist, and he's being used as the getaway driver (fully accepting his role). Their plan is to hold onto the main source of their international revenue: Saudi Arabia and the surrounding Near Eastern oil-export surpluses and money. They see the US losing its ability to exploit Russia and China, and look to keep Europe under its control by monopolizing key sectors so that it has the power to use sanctions to squeeze countries that resist turning over control of their economies and natural rentier monopolies to US buyers. In short, US strategists would like to do to Europe and the Near East just what they did to Russia under Yeltsin: turn over public infrastructure, natural resources and the banking system to U.S. owners, relying on US dollar credit to fund their domestic government spending and private investment.

This is basically a resource grab. Suleimani was in the same position as Chile's Allende, Libya's Qaddafi, Iraq's Saddam. The motto is that of Stalin: "No person, no problem."

The Saker: Your answer raises a question about Israel: In your recent article you only mention Israel twice, and these are only passing comments. Furthermore, you also clearly say the US Oil lobby as much more crucial than the Israel Lobby, so here is my follow-up question to you: On what basis have you come to this conclusion and how powerful do you believe the Israel Lobby to be compared to, say, the Oil lobby or the US Military-Industrial Complex? To what degree do their interests coincide and to what degree to they differ?

Michael Hudson: I wrote my article to explain the most basic concerns of U.S. international diplomacy: the balance of payments (dollarizing the global economy, basing foreign central bank savings on loans to the U.S. Treasury to finance the military spending mainly responsible for the international and domestic budget deficit), oil (and the enormous revenue produced by the international oil trade), and recruitment of foreign fighters (given the impossibility of drafting domestic U.S. soldiers in sufficient numbers). From the time these concerns became critical to today, Israel was viewed as a U.S. military base and supporter, but the U.S. policy was formulated independently of Israel.

I remember one day in 1973 or '74 I was traveling with my Hudson Institute colleague Uzi Arad (later a head of Mossad and advisor to Netanyahu) to Asia, stopping off in San Francisco. At a quasi-party, a U.S. general came up to Uzi and clapped him on the shoulder and said, "You're our landed aircraft carrier in the Near East," and expressed his friendship.

Uzi was rather embarrassed. But that's how the U.S. military thought of Israel back then. By that time the three planks of U.S. foreign policy strategy that I outlined were already firmly in place.

Of course Netanyahu has applauded U.S. moves to break up Syria, and Trump's assassination choice. But the move is a U.S. move, and it's the U.S. that is acting on behalf of the dollar standard, oil power and mobilizing Saudi Arabia's Wahabi army.

Israel fits into the U.S.-structured global diplomacy much like Turkey does. They and other countries act opportunistically within the context set by U.S. diplomacy to pursue their own policies. Obviously Israel wants to secure the Golan Heights; hence its opposition to Syria, and also its fight with Lebanon; hence, its opposition to Iran as the backer of Assad and Hezbollah. This dovetails with US policy.

But when it comes to the global and U.S. domestic response, it's the United States that is the determining active force. And its concern rests above all with protecting its cash cow of Saudi Arabia, as well as working with the Saudi jihadis to destabilize governments whose foreign policy is independent of U.S. direction – from Syria to Russia (Wahabis in Chechnya) to China (Wahabis in the western Uighur region). The Saudis provide the underpinning for U.S. dollarization (by recycling their oil revenues into U.S. financial investments and arms purchases), and also by providing and organizing the ISIS terrorists and coordinating their destruction with U.S. objectives. Both the Oil lobby and the Military-Industrial Complex obtain huge economic benefits from the Saudis.

Therefore, to focus one-sidedly on Israel is a distraction away from what the US-centered international order really is all about.

The Saker: In your recent article you wrote: " The assassination was intended to escalate America's presence in Iraq to keep control the region's oil reserves ." Others believe that the goal was precisely the opposite, to get a pretext to remove the US forces from both Iraq and Syria. What are your grounds to believe that your hypothesis is the most likely one?

Michael Hudson: Why would killing Suleimani help remove the U.S. presence? He was the leader of the fight against ISIS, especially in Syria. US policy was to continue using ISIS to permanently destabilize Syria and Iraq so as to prevent a Shi'ite crescent reaching from Iran to Lebanon – which incidentally would serve as part of China's Belt and Road initiative. So it killed Suleimani to prevent the peace negotiation. He was killed because he had been invited by Iraq's government to help mediate a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. That was what the United States feared most of all, because it effectively would prevent its control of the region and Trump's drive to seize Iraqi and Syrian oil.

So using the usual Orwellian doublethink, Suleimani was accused of being a terrorist, and assassinated under the U.S. 2002 military Authorization Bill giving the President to move without Congressional approval against Al Qaeda. Trump used it to protect Al Qaeda's terrorist ISIS offshoots.

Given my three planks of U.S. diplomacy described above, the United States must remain in the Near East to hold onto Saudi Arabia and try to make Iraq and Syria client states equally subservient to U.S. balance-of-payments and oil policy.

Certainly the Saudis must realize that as the buttress of U.S. aggression and terrorism in the Near East, their country (and oil reserves) are the most obvious target to speed the parting guest. I suspect that this is why they are seeking a rapprochement with Iran. And I think it is destined to come about, at least to provide breathing room and remove the threat. The Iranian missiles to Iraq were a demonstration of how easy it would be to aim them at Saudi oil fields. What then would be Aramco's stock market valuation?

The Saker: In your article you wrote: " The major deficit in the U.S. balance of payments has long been military spending abroad. The entire payments deficit, beginning with the Korean War in 1950-51 and extending through the Vietnam War of the 1960s, was responsible for forcing the dollar off gold in 1971. The problem facing America's military strategists was how to continue supporting the 800 U.S. military bases around the world and allied troop support without losing America's financial leverage. " I want to ask a basic, really primitive question in this regard: how cares about the balance of payments as long as 1) the US continues to print money 2) most of the world will still want dollars. Does that not give the US an essentially "infinite" budget? What is the flaw in this logic?

Michael Hudson: The U.S. Treasury can create dollars to spend at home, and the Fed can increase the banking system's ability to create dollar credit and pay debts denominated in US dollars. But they cannot create foreign currency to pay other countries, unless they willingly accept dollars ad infinitum – and that entails bearing the costs of financing the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit, getting only IOUs in exchange for real resources that they sell to U.S. buyers.

This is the situation that arose half a century ago. The United States could print dollars in 1971, but it could not print gold.

In the 1920s, Germany's Reichsbank could print deutsche marks – trillions of them. When it came to pay Germany's foreign reparations debt, all it could do was to throw these D-marks onto the foreign exchange market. That crashed the currency's exchange rate, forcing up the price of imports proportionally and causing the German hyperinflation.

The question is, how many surplus dollars do foreign governments want to hold. Supporting the dollar standard ends up supporting U.S. foreign diplomacy and military policy. For the first time since World War II, the most rapidly growing parts of the world are seeking to de-dollarize their economies by reducing reliance on U.S. exports, U.S. investment, and U.S. bank loans. This move is creating an alternative to the dollar, likely to replace it with groups of other currencies and assets in national financial reserves.

The Saker: In the same article you also write: " So maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency became a mainstay of U.S. military spending. " We often hear people say that the dollar is about to tank and that as soon as that happens, then the US economy (and, according to some, the EU economy too) will collapse. In the intelligence community there is something called tracking the "indicators and warnings". My question to you is: what are the economic "indicators and warnings" of a possible (probable?) collapse of the US dollar followed by a collapse of the financial markets most tied to the Dollar? What shall people like myself (I am an economic ignoramus) keep an eye on and look for?

Michael Hudson: What is most likely is a slow decline, largely from debt deflation and cutbacks in social spending, in the Eurozone and US economies. Of course, the decline will force the more highly debt-leveraged companies to miss their bond payments and drive them into insolvency. That is the fate of Thatcherized economies. But it will be long and painfully drawn out, largely because there is little left-wing socialist alternative to neoliberalism at present.

Trump's protectionist policies and sanctions are forcing other countries to become self-reliant and independent of US suppliers, from farm crops to airplanes and military arms, against the US threat of a cutoff or sanctions against repairs, spare parts and servicing. Sanctioning Russian agriculture has helped it become a major crop exporter, and to become much more independent in vegetables, dairy and cheese products. The US has little to offer industrially, especially given the fact that its IT communications are stuffed with US spyware.

Europe therefore is facing increasing pressure from its business sector to choose the non-US economic alliance that is growing more rapidly and offers a more profitable investment market and more secure trade supplier. Countries will turn as much as possible (diplomatically as well as financially and economically) to non-US suppliers because the United States is not reliable, and because it is being shrunk by the neoliberal policies supported by Trump and the Democrats alike. A byproduct probably will be a continued move toward gold as an alternative do the dollar in settling balance-of-payments deficits.

The Saker: Finally, my last question: which country out there do you see as the most capable foe of the current US-imposed international political and economic world order? whom do you believe that US Deep State and the Neocons fear most? China? Russia? Iran? some other country? How would you compare them and on the basis of what criteria?

Michael Hudson: The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution. He is uniting the world in a move toward multi-centrism much more than any ostensibly anti-American could have done. And he is doing it all in the name of American patriotism and nationalism – the ultimate Orwellian rhetorical wrapping!

Trump has driven Russia and China together with the other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), including Iran as observer. His demand that NATO join in US oil grabs and its supportive terrorism in the Near East and military confrontation with Russia in Ukraine and elsewhere probably will lead to European "Ami go home" demonstrations against NATO and America's threat of World War III.

No single country can counter the U.S. unipolar world order. It takes a critical mass of countries. This already is taking place among the countries that you list above. They are simply acting in their own common interest, using their own mutual currencies for trade and investment. The effect is an alternative multilateral currency and trading area.

The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire. In effect, foreign countries are beginning to respond to the United States what the ten tribes of Israel said when they withdrew from the southern kingdom of Judah, whose king Rehoboam refused to lighten his demands (1 Kings 12). They echoed the cry of Sheba son of Bikri a generation earlier: "Look after your own house, O David!" The message is: What do other countries have to gain by remaining in the US unipolar neoliberalized world, as compared to using their own wealth to build up their own economies? It's an age-old problem.

The dollar will still play a role in US trade and investment, but it will be as just another currency, held at arms length until it finally gives up its domineering attempt to strip other countries' wealth for itself. However, its demise may not be a pretty sight.

The Saker: I thank you very much for your time and answers! ­


Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:19 pm EST/EDT

What a truly superb interview!

Another one that absolutely stands for me out is the below link to a recent interview of Hussein Askary.

As I wrote a few days ago IMO this too is a wonderful insight into the utterly complicated dynamics of the tinderbox that the situation in Iran and Iraq has become.

Conflict in the ME has traditionally almost always been about oil [and of course Israel]. This situation is different. It is only partially about oil and Israel, but OVERWHHEMINGLY it is about the BRI.

The salient factor as I see it is the Oil for Technology initiative that Iraq signed with China shortly before it slid into this current mess.

This was a mechanism whereby China would buy Iraq oil and these funds would be used directly to fund infrastructure and self-sufficiency initiatives and technologies that would help to drag Iraq out of the complete disaster that the US war had created in this country. A key part of this would be that China would also make extra loans available at the same time to speed up this development.

In essence, this would enable the direct and efficient linking of Iraq into the BRI project. Going forward the economic gains and the political stability that could come out of this would be a completely new paradigm in the recovery of Iraq both economically and politically. Iraq is essential for a major part of the dynamics of the BRI because of its strategic location and the fact that it could form a major hub in the overall network.

It absolutely goes without saying that the AAA would do everything the could to wreck this plan. This is their playbook and is exactly what they have done. The moronic and extraordinarily impulsive Trump subsequently was easily duped into being a willing and idiotic accomplice in this plan.

The positive in all of this is that this whole scheme will backfire spectacularly for the perpetrators and will more than likely now speed up the whole process in getting Iraq back on track and working towards stability and prosperity.

Please don't anyone try to claim that Trump is part of any grand plan nothing could be further from the truth he is nothing more than a bludgeoning imbecile foundering around, lashing out impulsively indiscriminately. He is completely oblivious and ignorant as to the real picture.

I urge everyone involved in this Saker site to put aside an hour and to listen very carefully to Askary's insights. This is extremely important and could bring more clarity to understanding the situation than just about everything else you have read put together. There is hope, and Askary highlights the huge stakes that both Russia and China have in the region.

This is a no brainer. This is the time for both Russia and China to act and to decisively. They must cooperate in assisting both Iraq and Iran to extract themselves from the current quagmire the one that the vicious Hegemon so cruelly and thoughtlessly tossed them into.

Cheers from the south seas
Col

And the link to the Askary interview: . https://youtu.be/UD1hWq6KD44

Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:22 pm EST/EDT
Also interesting is what Simon Watkins reports in his recent article entitled "Is Iraq About To Become A Chinese Client State?"

To quote from the article:

"Iraq's Finance Ministry that the country had started exporting 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to China in October as part of the 20-year oil-for-infrastructure deal agreed between the two countries."

and

"For Iraq and Iran, China's plans are particularly far-reaching, OilPrice.com has been told by a senior oil industry figure who works closely with Iran's Petroleum Ministry and Iraq's Oil Ministry. China will begin with the oil and gas sector and work outwards from that central point. In addition to being granted huge reductions on buying Iranian oil and gas, China is to be given the opportunity to build factories in both Iran and Iraq – and build-out infrastructure, such as railways – overseen by its own management staff from Chinese companies. These are to have the same operational structure and assembly lines as those in China, so that they fit seamlessly into various Chinese companies' assembly lines' process for whatever product a particular company is manufacturing, whilst also being able to use the still-cheap labour available in both Iraq and Iraq."

and

"The second key announcement in this vein made last week from Iraq was that the Oil Ministry has completed the pre-qualifying process for companies interested in participating in the Iraqi-Jordanian oil pipeline project. The U$5 billion pipeline is aimed at carrying oil produced from the Rumaila oilfield in Iraq's Basra Governorate to the Jordanian port of Aqaba, with the first phase of the project comprising the installation of a 700-kilometre-long pipeline with a capacity of 2.25 million bpd within the Iraqi territories (Rumaila-Haditha). The second phase includes installing a 900-kilometre pipeline in Jordan between Haditha and Aqaba with a capacity of 1 million bpd. Iraq's Oil Minister – for the time being, at least – Thamir Ghadhban added that the Ministry has formed a team to prepare legal contracts, address financial issues and oversee technical standards for implementing the project, and that May will be the final month in which offers for the project from the qualified companies will be accepted and that the winners will be announced before the end of this year. Around 150,000 barrels of the oil from Iraq would be used for Jordan's domestic needs, whilst the remainder would be exported through Aqaba to various destinations, generating about US$3 billion a year in revenues to Jordan, with the rest going to Iraq. Given that the contractors will be expected to front-load all of the financing for the projects associated with this pipeline, Baghdad expects that such tender offers will be dominated by Chinese and Russian companies, according to the Iran and Iraq source."

Cheers
Col

And the link https://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/Middle-East/Is-Iraq-About-To-Become-A-Chinese-Client-State.html#

Anonymouse on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:20 pm EST/EDT
Hudson is so good. He's massively superior to most so called military analysts and alternative bloggers on the net. He can clearly see the over arching picture and how the military is used to protect and project it. The idea that the US is going to leave the middle east until they are forced to is so blind as to be ridiculous.

They will not sacrifice the (free) oil until booted out by a coalition of Arab countries threatening to over run them and that is why the dollar hegemonys death will be slow, long and drawn out and they will do anything, any dirty trick in the book, to prevent Arab/Persian unity. Unlike many peoples obsession with Israel and how important they feel themselves to be I think Hudson is correct again. They are the middle eastern version of the British – a stationary aircraft carrier who will allow themselves to be used and abused whilst living under the illusion they are major players. They aren't. They're bit part players in decline, subservient to the great dollar and oil pyramid scheme that keeps America afloat. If you want to beat America you have to understand the big scheme, that and the utter insanity that backs it up. It is that insanity of the leites, the inability to allow themselves to be 'beaten' that will keep nuclear exchange as a real possibility over the next 10 to 15 years. Unification is the only thing that can stop it and trying to unite so many disparate countries (as the Russians are trying to do despite multiple provocations) is where the future lies and why it will take so long. It is truly breath taking in such a horrific way, as Hudson mentions, that to allow the world to see its 'masters of the universe' pogram to be revealed:

"Of course American strategists will deny that the recent actions do not reflect a deliberate strategy, because their long-term strategy is so aggressive and exploitative that it would even strike the American public as being immoral and offensive if they came right out and said it."

Would be to allow it to be undermined at home and abroad. God help us all.

Little Black Duck on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:01 pm EST/EDT
They're bit part players in decline, subservient to the great dollar and oil pyramid scheme that keeps America afloat.

So who owns the dollar? And who owns the oil companies?

Osori on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:06 pm EST/EDT
I'd never thought of that "stationary aircraft carrier" comparison between Israel and the British, very apt.
Zachary Smith on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:53 pm EST/EDT
Clever would be a better word. Looking at my world globe, I see Italy, Greece, and Turkey on that end of the Mediterranean. Turkey has been in NATO since 1952. Crete and Cyprus are also right there. Doesn't Hudson own a globe or regional map?

That a US Admiral would be gushing about the Apartheid state 7 years after the attempted destruction of the USS Liberty is painful to consider. I'd like to disbelieve the story, but it's quite likely there were a number of high-ranking ***holes in a Naval Uniform.

44360 on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:34 pm EST/EDT
The world situation reminds us of the timeless fable by Aesop of The North Wind and the Sun.

Trump et al assassinated someone who was on a diplomatic mission. This action was so far removed from acceptable behavior that it must have been considered to be "by any means and at all costs".

Perhaps the most potent weapon Iran or anyone else has at this critical juncture, is not missiles, but diplomacy.

Ahmed on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:37 pm EST/EDT
"Therefore, to focus one-sidedly on Israel is a distraction away from what the US-centered international order really is all about."

Thank you for saying this sir. In the US and around the world many people become obsessively fixated in seeing a "jew" or zionist behind every bush. Now the Zionists are certinly an evil, blood thirsty bunch, and certainly deserve the scorn of the world, but i feel its a cop out sometimes. A person from the US has a hard time stomaching the actions of their country, so they just hoist all the unpleasentries on to the zionists. They put it all on zionisim, and completly fail to mention imperialism. I always switced back and forth on the topic my self. But i cant see how a beachead like the zionist state, a stationary carrier, can be bigger than the empire itself. Just look at the major leaders in the resistance groups, the US was always seen as the ultimate obstruction, while israel was seen as a regional obstruction. Like sayyed hassan nasrallah said in his recent speech about the martyrs, that if the US is kicked out, the Israelis might just run away with out even fighting. I hate it when people say "we are in the middle east for israel" when it can easily be said that "israel is still in the mid east because of the US." If the US seized to exist today, israel would fall rather quickly. If israel fell today the US would still continue being an imperalist, bloodthirsty entity.

Azorka1861 on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:57 pm EST/EDT
The Deeper Story behind the Assassination of Soleimani

This article, published by Strategic Culture, features a translation of Mahdi's speech to the Iraqi parliament in which he states that Trump threatened him with assassination and the US admitted to killing hundreds of demonstrators using Navy SEAL snipers.

https://www.veteranstoday.com/2020/01/08/vital-the-deeper-story-behind-the-assassination-of-soleimani/

..

Nils on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:05 pm EST/EDT
This description provided by Mr Hudson is no Moore than the financial basis behind the Cebrowski doctrine instituted on 9/11. https://www.voltairenet.org/article

I wish the Saker had asked Mr Hudson about some crucial recent events to get his opinion with regards to US foreign policy. Specifically, how does the emergence of cryptocurrency relate to dollar finance and the US grand strategy? A helpful tool for the hegemon or the emergence of a new currency that prevents unlimited currency printing? Finally, what is global warming and the associated carbon credit system? The next planned model of continuing global domination and balance of payments? Or true organic attempt at fair energy production and management?

Much thanks for this interview, Saker

Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:26 pm EST/EDT
With all due respect, these are huge questions in themselves and perhaps could to be addressed in separate interviews. IMO it doesn't always work that well to try to cover too much ground in just one giant leap.

Regards
Col

Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:26 pm EST/EDT
I have never understood the Cebrowski doctrine. How does the destruction of Middle Eastern state structures allow the US to control Middle East Oil? The level of chaos generated by such an act would seem to prevent anyone from controlled the oil.
Outlaw Historian on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:48 pm EST/EDT
Dr. Hudson often appears on RT's "Keiser Report" where he covers many contemporary topics with its host Max Keiser. Many of the shows transcripts are available at Hudson's website . Indeed, after the two Saker items, you'll find three programs on the first page. Using the search function at his site, you'll find the two articles he's written that deal with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, although I think he's been more specific in the TV interviews.

As for this Q&A, its an A+. Hudson's 100% correct to playdown the Zionist influence given the longstanding nature of the Outlaw US Empire's methods that began well before the rise of the Zionist Lobby, which in reality is a recycling of aid dollars back to Congress in the form of bribes.

RR on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:59 pm EST/EDT
Nils: Good Article. The spirit of Nihilism.
Quote from Neocon Michael Ladeen.

"Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone. They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence -- our existence, not our politics -- threatens their legitimacy. They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission."

Frank on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:27 pm EST/EDT
@NILS As far as crypto currency goes it is a brilliant idea in concept. But since during the Bush years we have been shown multiple times, who actually owns [and therefore controls] the internet. Many times now we have also been informed that through the monitoring capability's of our defense agency's, they are recording every key stroke. IMO, with the flip of a switch, we can shut down the internet. At the very least, that would stop us from being able to trade in crypto, but they have e-files on each of us. They know our passwords, or can easily access them. That does not give me confidence in e=currency during a teotwawki situation.
Anonymous on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:34 pm EST/EDT
A truly superb interview, thanks Michael Hudson.
David on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:39 pm EST/EDT
One thing that troubles me about the petrodollar thesis is that ANNUAL trade in oil is about 2 trillion DAILY trade in $US is 4 trillion. I can well believe the US thinks oil is the bedrock if dollar hegemony but is it? I see no alternative to US dollar hegemony.
Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:17 pm EST/EDT
Excellent article.

The lines that really got my attention were these:

"The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire."

That is so completely true. I have wondered why – to date – there had not been more movement by Europe away from the United States. But while reading the article the following occurred to me. Maybe Europe is awaiting the next U.S. election. Maybe they hope that a new president (someone like Biden) might allow Europe to keep more of the "spoils."

If that is true, then a re-election of Trump will probably send Europe fleeing for the exits. The Europeans will be cutting deals with Russia and China like the store is on fire.

Rubicon on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:22 pm EST/EDT
The critical player in forming the EU WAS/IS the US financial Elites. Yes, they had many ultra powerful Europeans, especially Germany, but it was the US who initiated the EU.

Purpose? For the US Financial Powerhouses & US politicians to "take Europe captive." Notice the similarities: the EU has its Central Bank who communicates with the private Banksters of the FED. Much austerity has ensued, especially in Southern nations: Greece, Italy, etc. Purpose: to smash unions, worker's pay, eliminate unions, and basically allowing US/EU Financial capital to buy out Italy, most of Greece, and a goodly section of Spain and Portugal.

The US govt. have long since paid off most every European politician. Thusly, Europe, as separate nations that should be remain still under the yolk of the US Financial/Political/Military power.

Craig Mouldey on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:19 pm EST/EDT
I have a hard time wrapping my head around this but it sounds like he is saying that the U.S. has a payment deficit problem which is solved by stealing the world's oil supplies. To do this they must have a powerful, expensive military. But it is primarily this military which is the main cause of the balance deficit. So it is an eternally fuelled problem and solution. If I understand this, what it actually means is that we all live on a plantation as slaves and everything that is happening is for the benefit of the few wealthy billionaires. And they intend to turn the entire world into their plantation of slaves. They may even let you live for a while longer.
Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:25 pm EST/EDT
Actually, oil underlies everything.

I didn't know this until I read a history of World War I.

As you know, World War One was irresolvable, murderous, bloody trench warfare. People would charge out of the trenches trying to overrun enemy positions only to be cutdown by the super weapon of the day – the machine gun. It was an unending bloody stalemate until the development of the tank. Tanks were immune to machine gun fire coming from the trenches and could overrun enemy positions. In the aftermath of that war, it became apparently that mechanization had become crucial to military supremacy. In turn, fuel was crucial to mechanization. Accordingly, in the Sykes Picot agreement France and Britain divided a large amount of Middle Eastern oil between themselves in order to assure military dominance. (The United States had plenty of their own oil at that time.)

In any event, it is the same today. Energy underlies, not only the military but, all of world civilization. Oil and gas are overwhelmingly the source of energy for the modern world. Without it, civilization collapses. Thus, he who controls oil (and gas) controls the world.

That is one third of the story. The second third is this.

Up till 1971, the United States dollar was the most trusted currency in the world. The dollar was backed by gold and lots and lots of it. Dollars were in fact redeemable in gold. However, due to Vietnam War, the United States started running huge balance of payments deficits. Other countries – most notably France under De Gaulle – started cashing in dollars in exchange for that gold. Gold started flooding out of the United States. At that point Nixon took the United States off of the gold standard. Basically stating that the dollar was no longer backed by gold and dollars could not be redeemed for gold. That caused an international payments problem. People would no longer accept dollars as payment since the dollar was not backed up by anything. The American economy was in big trouble since they were running deficits and people would no longer take dollars on faith.

To fix the problem, Henry Kissinger convinced the Saudis to agree to only accept dollars in payment for oil – no matter who was the buyer. That meant that nations throughout the world now needed dollars in order to pay for their energy needs. Due to this, the dollars was once again the most important currency in the world since – as noted above – energy underlies everything in modern industrial cultures. Additionally, since dollars were now needed throughout the world, it became common to make all trades for any product in highly valued dollars. Everyone needed dollars for every thing, oil or not.

At that point, the United States could go on printing dollars and spending them since a growing world economy needed more and more dollars to buy oil as well as to trade everything else.

That leads to the third part of the story. In order to convince the Saudis to accept only dollars in payments for oil (and to have the Saudis strong arm other oil producers to do the same) Kissinger promised to protect the brutal Saudi regime's hold on power against a restive citizenry and also to protect the Saudi's against other nations. Additionally, Kissinger made an implicit threat that if the Saudi's did not agree, the US would come in and just take their oil. The Saudis agreed.

Thus, the three keys to dominance in the modern world are thus: oil, dollars and the military.

Thus, Hudson ties in the three threads in his interview above. Oil, Dollars, Military. That is what holds the empire together.

Rubicon on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:26 pm EST/EDT
Thank you for thinking through this. Yes, the link between the US $$$ and Saudi Oil, is the absolute means of the American Dollar to reign complete. This payment system FEEDS both the US Military, but WALL STREET, hedge funds, the US/EU oligarchs – to name just a few entities.
Stanislaw Janowicz on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:58 pm EST/EDT
I should make one note only to this. That "no man, no problem" was Stalin's motto is a myth. He never said that. It was invented by a writer Alexei Rybnikov and inserted in his book "The Children of Arbat".
Greg Horrall on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:42 pm EST/EDT
Wow! Absolutely beautiful summation of the ultimate causes that got us where we are and, if left intact, will get us to where we're going!

So, the dreamer says: If only we could throw-off our us-vs-them BS political-economic ideology & religious doctrine-faith issues, put them into live-and-let-live mode, and see that we are all just humans fighting over this oil resource to which our modern economy (way of life) is addicted, then we might be able to hammer out some new rules for interacting, for running an earth-resource sustainable and fair global economy We do at least have the technology to leave behind our oil addiction, but the political-economic will still is lacking. How much more of the current insanity must we have before we get that will? Will we get it before it's too late?

Only if we, a sufficient majority from the lowest economic classes to the top elites and throughout all nations, are able to psychologically-spiritually internalize the two principles of Common Humanity and Spaceship Earth soon enough, will we stop our current slide off the cliff into modern economic collapse and avert all the pain and suffering that's already now with us and that will intensify.

The realist says we're not going to stop that slide and it's the only way we're going to learn, if we are indeed ever going to learn.

Ann Watson on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:42 pm EST/EDT
So now we know why Michael Hudson avoids the Israel involvment – Like Pepe.
Лишний Человек on January 09, 2020 , · at 11:02 pm EST/EDT
Thank you for this excellent interview. You ask the kind of questions that we would all like to ask. It's regrettable that Chalmers Johnson isn't still alive. I believe that you and he would have a lot in common.

Naxos has produced an incredible, unabridged cd audiobook of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. One of Gibbon's observations really resonates today: "Assassination is the last resource of cowards". Thanks again.

[Jan 09, 2020] Opposing War With Iran: Three Reasons by Anthony DiMaggio

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... War will allow Trump to claim the mantle of "national" wartime leader, while diverting attention away from his impeachment trial. And in light of the intensification of belligerent rhetoric from this administration, war appears to be increasingly likely. ..."
"... The American people have a moral responsibility to question not only Trump's motives, but to consider the humanitarian disaster that inevitably accompanies war. ..."
"... is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He holds a PhD in political communication, and is the author of the newly released: The Politics of Persuasion: Economic Policy and Media Bias in the Modern Era (Paperback, 2018), and Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media , and U.S. Foreign Policy After 9/11 (Paperback: 2016). He can be reached at: anthonydimaggio612@gmail.com ..."
Jan 09, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

The U.S. stands at the precipice of war. President Trump's rhetorical efforts to sell himself as the "anti-war" president have been exposed as a fraud via his assault on Iran. Most Orwellian of all is Trump's claim that the assassination of Iranian General Qassam Soleimani was necessary to avert war, following the New Year's Eve attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In reality the U.S. hit on Soleimani represents a criminal escalation of the conflict between these two countries. The general's assassination was rightly seen as an act of war , so the claim that the strike is a step toward peace is absurd on its face. We should be perfectly clear about the fundamental threat to peace posed by the Trump administration. Iran has already promised "harsh retaliation" following the assassination, and announced it is pulling out of the 2015 multi-national agreement prohibiting the nation from developing nuclear weapons. Trump's escalation has dramatically increased the threat of all-out war. Recognizing this threat, I sketch out an argument here based on my initial thoughts of this conflict, providing three reasons for why Americans need to oppose war.

#1: No Agreement about an Iranian Threat

Soleimani was the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – the Quds Force – a clandestine military intelligence organization that specializes in paramilitary-style operations throughout the Middle East, and which is described as seeking to further Iranian political influence throughout the region. Trump celebrated the assassination as necessary to bringing Soleimani's "reign of terror" to an end. The strike, he claimed, was vital after the U.S. caught Iran "in the act" of planning "imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel."

But Trump's justification for war comes from a country with a long history of distorting and fabricating evidence of an Iranian threat. American leaders have disingenuously and propagandistically portrayed Iran as on the brink of developing nuclear weapons for decades. Presidents Bush and Obama were both rebuked, however, by domestic intelligence and international weapons inspectors , which failed to uncover evidence that Iran was developing these weapons, or that it was a threat to the U.S.

Outside of previous exaggerations, evidence is emerging that the Trump administration and the intelligence community are not of one mind regarding Iran's alleged threat. Shortly after Soleimani's assassination, the Department of Homeland Security declared there was "no specific, credible threat" from Iran within U.S. borders. And U.S. military officials disagree regarding Trump's military escalation. As the New York Times reports :

"In the chaotic days leading to the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran's most powerful commander, top American military officials put the option of killing him -- which they viewed as the most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iraq -- on the menu they presented to President Trump. They didn't think he would take it. In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pentagon officials have often offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable."

"Top pentagon officials," the Times reports , "were stunned" by the President's order. Furthermore, the paper reported that "the intelligence" supposedly confirming Iranian plans to attack U.S. diplomats was "thin," in the words of at least one U.S. military official who was privy to the administration's deliberations. According to that source , there is no evidence of an "imminent" attack in the foreseeable future against American targets outside U.S. borders.

U.S. leaders have always obscured facts, distorted intelligence, and fabricated information to stoke public fears and build support for war. So it should come as no surprise that this president is politicizing intelligence. He certainly has reason to – in order to draw attention away from his Senate impeachment trial, and considering Trump's increasingly desperate efforts to demonstrate that he is a serious President, not a tin-pot authoritarian who ignores the rule of law, while shamelessly coercing and extorting foreign leaders in pursuit of domestic electoral advantage.

Independent of the corruption charges against Trump, it is unwise for Americans to take the President at his word, considering the blatant lies employed in the post-9/11 era to justify war in the Middle East. Not so long ago the American public was sold a bill of goods regarding Iraq's alleged WMDs and ties to terrorism. Neither of those claims was remotely true, and Americans were left footing the bill for a war that cost trillions , based on the lies of an opportunistic president who was dead-set on exploiting public fears of terrorism in a time of crisis. The Bush administration sold war based on intelligence they knew was fraudulent, manipulating the nation into on a decade-long war that led to the murder of more than 1 million Iraqis and more than 5,000 American servicemen, resulting in a failed Iraqi state, and paving the way for the rise of ISIS. All of this is to say that the risks of beginning another war in the Middle East are incredibly high, and Americans would do well to seriously consider the consequences of entering a war based (yet again) on questionable intelligence.

#2: The "War on Terrorism" as a Red Herring

U.S. leaders have long used the rhetoric of terrorism to justify war. But this strategy represents a serious distortion of reality, via the conflation of terrorism – understood as premeditated acts of violence to intimidate civilians – with acts of war. Trump fed into this misrepresentation when he described Soleimani's "reign of terror" as encompassing not only the alleged targeting of U.S. diplomats, but attacks on "U.S. military personnel." The effort to link the deaths of U.S. soldiers in wartime to terrorism echoes the State Department's 2019 statement , which designated Iran's Quds Force a "terrorist" organization, citing its responsibility "for the deaths of at least 603 American service members in Iraq" from "2003 to 2011" via its support for Iraqi militias that were engaging in attacks on U.S. forces.

As propaganda goes, the attempt to link these acts of war to "terrorism" is quite perverse. U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq were participating in a criminal, illegal occupation, which was widely condemned by the international community. The U.S. war in Iraq was a crime of aggression under the Nuremberg Charter, and it violated the United Nations Charter's prohibition on the use of force, which is only allowed via Security Council authorization (which the U.S. did not have), or in the case of military acts undertaken in self-defense against an ongoing attack (Iraq was not at war with the U.S. prior to the 2003 invasion). Contrary to Trump's and the State Department's propaganda, there are no grounds to classify the deaths of military personnel in an illegal war as terrorism. Instead, one could argue that domestic Iraqi political actors (of which Iraqi militias are included, regardless of their ties to Iran) were within their legal rights under international law to engage in acts of self-defense against American troops acting on behalf of a belligerent foreign power, which was conducting an illegal occupation.

#3: More War = Further Destabilization of the Middle East

The largest takeaway from recent events should be to recognize the tremendous danger that escalation of war poses to the U.S. and the region. The legacy of U.S. militarism in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, is one of death, destruction, and instability. Every major war involving the U.S. has produced humanitarian devastation and mass destruction, while fueling instability and terrorism. With the 1979 Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. support for Mujahedeen radicals led to the breakdown of social order, and the rise of the radical Taliban regime, which housed al Qaeda fundamentalists in the years prior to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. The 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan contributed to the further deterioration of Afghan society, and was accompanied by the return of the Taliban, ensuing in a civil war that has persisted over the last two decades.

With Iraq, the U.S. invasion produced a massive security vacuum following the collapse of the Iraqi government, which made possible the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq. The U.S. fueled numerous civil wars, in Iraq during the 2000s and Syria in the 2010s, creating mass instability, and giving rise to ISIS, which became a mini-state of its own operating across both countries. And then there was the 2011 U.S.-NATO supported rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi, which not only resulted in the dictator's overthrow, but in the rise of another ISIS affiliate within Libya's border. Even Obama, the biggest cheerleader for the war, subsequently admitted the intervention was his "worst mistake," due to the civil war that emerged after Gaddafi's overthrow, which opened the door for the rise of ISIS.

All of these conflicts have one thing in common. They brought tremendous devastation to the countries under assault, via scorched-earth military campaigns, which left death, misery, and destruction in their wake. The U.S. is adept at destroying countries, but shows little interest in, or ability to reconstruct them. These wars provided fertile ground for Islamist radicals, who took advantage of the resulting chaos and instability.

The primary lesson of the "War on Terror" should be clear to rationally minded observers: U.S. wars breed not only instability, but desperation, as the people victimized by war become increasingly tolerant of domestic extremist movements. Repressive states are widely reviled by the people they subjugate. But the only thing worse than a dictatorship is no order at all, when societies collapse into civil war, anarchy, and genocide. The story of ISIS's rise is one of citizens suffering under war and instability, and becoming increasingly tolerant of extremist political actors, so long as they are able to provide order in times of crisis. This point is consistently neglected in U.S. political and media discourse – a sign of how propagandistic "debates" over war have become, nearly 20 years into the U.S. "War on Terrorism."

Where Do We Go From Here?

Trump followed up the Soleimani assassination with a Twitter announcement that the U.S. has "targeted" 52 additional "Iranian sites," which will be attacked "if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets." There's no reason in light of recent events to chalk this announcement up to typical Trump-Twitter bluster. This President is desperate to begin a war with Iran, as Trump has courted confrontation with the Islamic republic since the early days of his presidency.

War will allow Trump to claim the mantle of "national" wartime leader, while diverting attention away from his impeachment trial. And in light of the intensification of belligerent rhetoric from this administration, war appears to be increasingly likely.

The American people have a moral responsibility to question not only Trump's motives, but to consider the humanitarian disaster that inevitably accompanies war. War with Iran will only make the Middle East more unstable, further fueling anti-American radicalism, and increasing the terror threat to the U.S. This conclusion isn't based on speculation, but on two decades of experience with a "War on Terror" that's done little but destroy nations and increase terror threats. The American people can reduce the dangers of war by protesting Trump's latest provocation, and by pressuring Congress to pass legislation condemning any future attack on Iran as a violation of national and international law.

To contact your Representative or Senator, use the following links:

Join the debate on Facebook

More articles by: Anthony DiMaggio

Anthony DiMaggio is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He holds a PhD in political communication, and is the author of the newly released: The Politics of Persuasion: Economic Policy and Media Bias in the Modern Era (Paperback, 2018), and Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media , and U.S. Foreign Policy After 9/11 (Paperback: 2016). He can be reached at: anthonydimaggio612@gmail.com

[Jan 08, 2020] Iraqi Journalist: Killing Soleimani "Ended An Era In Which Iran And The United States Coexisted In Iraq" by Tim Hains

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Now, he told "Democracy Now!", it will be hard for the Iraqi public to see the bases as anything but "a force that is driving them into a war between Iran and the United States." ..."
"... "Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. I mean, remember, Qassem Soleimani arrived in Baghdad airport, where half of it is an American base. Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. He took selfies. People took his pictures. That didn't happen in secret. Qassem Soleimani was not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hiding in a cave or moving stealthily through the country. He stayed in the Green Zone. So, all this happened because there was an understanding between the Americans and the Iranians. So, if the Americans wanted to keep their bases in Iraq, the Iranians would have the freedom to move. And with the killing of Soleimani, the rules of the game have totally changed," he said. ..."
Jan 06, 2020 | www.realclearpolitics.com

https://www.youtube.com/embed/TKvE-nIsj1Y?enablejsapi=1&origin=https:%2F%2Fwww.realclearpolitics.com

"The Guardian" journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad says that before the attack on Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad last week "there was an understanding between the Americans and the Iranians" that allowed officials from Iran and the U.S. to move freely within Iraq and maintained relative goodwill toward American bases.

"The killing of Qassem Soleimani ended an era in which both Iran and the United States coexisted in Iraq," he said.

Now, he told "Democracy Now!", it will be hard for the Iraqi public to see the bases as anything but "a force that is driving them into a war between Iran and the United States."

"Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. I mean, remember, Qassem Soleimani arrived in Baghdad airport, where half of it is an American base. Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. He took selfies. People took his pictures. That didn't happen in secret. Qassem Soleimani was not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hiding in a cave or moving stealthily through the country. He stayed in the Green Zone. So, all this happened because there was an understanding between the Americans and the Iranians. So, if the Americans wanted to keep their bases in Iraq, the Iranians would have the freedom to move. And with the killing of Soleimani, the rules of the game have totally changed," he said.

AMY GOODMAN: Ghaith, can you comment on this new information that's come to light about the timing of Soleimani's assassination Friday morning? Iraq's caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has revealed he had plans to meet with Soleimani on the day he was killed to discuss a Saudi proposal to defuse tension in the region. Mahdi said, quote, "He came to deliver me a message from Iran responding to the message we delivered from Saudi Arabia to Iran" -- Saudi Arabia, obviously, a well-known enemy of Iran. Was he set up? Talk about the significance of this.

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: Well, it is very significant if it's actually General Qassem Soleimani came to Iraq to deliver this message, if it was actually there was a process of negotiations in the region. We know that Abdul-Mahdi and the Iraqi government, in general, over the last year had been trying to position Iraq as this middle power, as this power where both -- you know, as a country that has a relationship with both Iran and the United States. In that awkward place Iraq found itself in, Iraq has tried to maximize on this. So they started back in summer and fall, when there was an escalation between Iran and the United States, when Iran shot down an American drone. We've seen Adel Abdul-Mahdi fly to Iran, try to mediate. We've seen Adel Abdul-Mahdi open channels of communications with the Gulf, with Saudi Arabia.

So, if it actually, the killing of General Soleimani, ended that peace initiative, it will be kind of disastrous in the region, because, as Narges was saying earlier, it is -- you know, Pompeo is speaking about Iran being this ultimate evil in the region, as this crescent of Shias, as if they just arrived in the past 10 years in the region. The fact if we see Iran's reactions, it's always a reaction to an American provocation. You've seen the occupation of Iraq in 2003. You've seen Iran declared as an "axis of evil." So, if you see it from an Iranian perspective, it's always this existential threat coming from the United States. And I don't think there is a more existential threat than in past year. So, yes, I know -- I mean, I think Adel Abdul-Mahdi and the Iraqi government were trying to find this middle ground, which I think is totally lost, because even Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the person who was trying to find this middle ground, was the person who proposed this law yesterday in the Parliament to expel all American troops from the country.

And I would like to add like another thing. The killing of Qassem Soleimani ended an era in which both Iran and the United States coexisted in Iraq. So, from 2013, '14, we, as journalists, we've seen on the frontlines how the proxies of each power have been helping each other. So we've seen Iranian advisers helping the American-trained Iraqi Army unit or counterterrorism unit in the fight against ISIS. In the same sense, we've seen American airstrikes on threats to these -- kind of to ISIS when it was threatening these militias. That coexistence, it didn't only come from both having a -- sharing an enemy, which is ISIS, or Daesh, but also these were the rules of the game. These were the rules in which Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. I mean, remember, Qassem Soleimani arrived in Baghdad airport, where half of it is an American base. Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. He took selfies. People took his pictures. That didn't happen in secret. Qassem Soleimani was not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hiding in a cave or moving stealthily through the country. He stayed in the Green Zone. So, all this happened because there was an understanding between the Americans and the Iranians. So, if the Americans wanted to keep their bases in Iraq, the Iranians would have the freedom to move. And with the killing of Soleimani, I think the rules of the game have totally changed.

So now I think the first victim of the assassination will be the American bases in Iraq. I don't see any way where the Americans can keep their presence as they did before the assassination of Soleimani. And even the people in the streets, even the people who opposes Iran, who opposes the presence of Iranian militias in power and politics, the corruption of these pro-Iranian parties, even those people would look at these American bases now as not as a force that came to help them in the fight against ISIS, but a force that's dragging them into a war between Iran and the United States.

[Jan 08, 2020] Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge?

Highly recommended!
Iran has incentives to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
Notable quotes:
"... Reflection, self criticism or self restraint are not exactly the big strengths of Trump. He prefers solo acts (Emergency! Emergency!) and dislikes advice (especially if longer than 4 pages) and the advice of the sort " You're sure? If you do that the the shit will fly in your face in an hour, Sir ". ..."
"... Trump can order attacks and I don't expect much protest from Mark Esper and it depends on the military (which likely will obey). ..."
"... These so called grownups have been replaced by (then still) happy Bolton (likely, even after being fired, still war happy) and applauders like Pompeo and his buddy Esper. ..."
"... As a thank you to Trump calling the Israel occupied Golan a part of Israel Netanyahu called an (iirc also illegal) new Golan settlement "Ramat Trump" ..."
"... I disagree. Trump maybe the only person who could sell a war with Iran. What he has cultivated is a rabid base that consists of sycophants on one extreme end and desperate nationalists on the other. His base must stick with him...who else do they have? ..."
"... The Left is indifferent to another war. Further depleting the quality stock of our military will aid there agenda of international integration. A weaker US military will force us to collaborate with the world community and not lead it is their thinking. ..."
"... Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ..."
"... Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. ..."
"... We have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that Iran and Russia are intrinsically and immutable evil and hostile that the thought of actual two sided diplomacy does not occur. IMO neither of these countries are what we collectively think them. So, we could actually give it a try rather than trying to beggar them and destroy their economies. If all fails than we have to be prepared to defend our forces. DOL ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge? Don't let the neocons like Pompeo sell you on war.

Make the intelligence people show you the evidence in detail. Make your own judgments. pl


Vegetius , 17 September 2019 at 08:37 PM

Whatever else he knows, Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people.
confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 03:51 AM
Vegetius,

re " Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people "

Are you sure? I am not.

Reflection, self criticism or self restraint are not exactly the big strengths of Trump. He prefers solo acts (Emergency! Emergency!) and dislikes advice (especially if longer than 4 pages) and the advice of the sort " You're sure? If you do that the the shit will fly in your face in an hour, Sir ".

A good number of the so called grownups who gave such advice were (gameshow style) fired, sometimes by twitter.

Trump can order attacks and I don't expect much protest from Mark Esper and it depends on the military (which likely will obey).

These so called grownups have been replaced by (then still) happy Bolton (likely, even after being fired, still war happy) and applauders like Pompeo and his buddy Esper.

Israel could, if politically just a tad more insane, bomb Iran and thus invite the inevitable retaliation. When that happens they'll cry for US aid, weapons and money because they alone ~~~

(a) cannot defeat Iran (short of going nuclear) and ...
(b) Holocaust! We want weapons and money from Germany, too! ...
(c) they know that ...
(d) which does not lead in any way to Netanyahu showing signgs of self restraint or reason.

Netanyahu just - it is (tight) election time - announced, in his sldedge hammer style subtlety, that (he) Israel will annect the palestinian west jordan territory, making the Plaestines an object in his election campaign.

IMO that idea is simply insane and invites more "troubles". But then, I didn't hear anything like, say, Trump gvt protests against that (and why expect that from the dudes who moved the US embassy to Jerusalem).

confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 07:28 AM
Vegetius,

as for Trump and Netanyahu ... policy debate ... I had that here in mind, which pretty speaks for itself. And I thought Trumo is just running for office in the US. Alas, it is a Netanyaho campaign poster from the current election:

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/a6e60efd3bde0befbcb8b0a95a42bf4c2624e017/57_296_5123_3074/master/5123.jpg?width=1920&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=1958b9e7cf24d7a3a7b024845de08f7e

As a thank you to Trump calling the Israel occupied Golan a part of Israel Netanyahu called an (iirc also illegal) new Golan settlement "Ramat Trump"

https://cdn.mdr.de/nachrichten/mdraktuell-golan-hoehen-trump-hights-100-resimage_v-variantSmall24x9_w-704.jpg?version=0964

I generously assume that things like that only happen because of the hard and hard ly work of Kushner on his somewhat elusive but of course GIGANTIC and INCREDIBLE Middle East peace plan.

Kushner is probably getting hard and hard ly supported by Ivanka who just said that she inherited her moral compass from her father. Well ... congatulations ... I assume.

Stueeeeeeee said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 08:31 AM
I disagree. Trump maybe the only person who could sell a war with Iran. What he has cultivated is a rabid base that consists of sycophants on one extreme end and desperate nationalists on the other. His base must stick with him...who else do they have?

The Left is indifferent to another war. Further depleting the quality stock of our military will aid there agenda of international integration. A weaker US military will force us to collaborate with the world community and not lead it is their thinking.

The rest of the nation will follow.

prawnik said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
Need I trot out Goering's statement regarding selling a war once more?

Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

turcopolier , 17 September 2019 at 09:31 PM
jonst

We have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that Iran and Russia are intrinsically and immutable evil and hostile that the thought of actual two sided diplomacy does not occur. IMO neither of these countries are what we collectively think them. So, we could actually give it a try rather than trying to beggar them and destroy their economies. If all fails than we have to be prepared to defend our forces. DOL

Matt said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 12:54 AM
I agree with your reply 100%

these phobias are so entrenched now they're a huge obstacle to overcome,

Mark Twain: "It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled."

William Casey: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false"

Christian Chuba , 18 September 2019 at 05:22 AM
The 'ivestigations are a formality. The Saudis (with U.S. backing) are already saying that the missiles were Iranian made and according to them, this proves that Iran fired them. The Saudis are using the more judicious phrase 'behind the attack' but Pompeo is running with the fired from Iran narrative.

How can we tell the difference between an actual Iranian manufactured missile vs one that was manufactured in Yemen based on Iranian designs? We only have a few pictures Iranian missiles unlike us, the Iranians don't toss them all over the place so we don't have any physical pieces to compare them to.

Perhaps honest investigators could make a determination but even if they do exist they will keep quiet while the bible thumping Pompeo brays and shamelessly lies as he is prone to do.

PRC90 said in reply to Christian Chuba... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
These kinds of munition will leave hundreds of bits scattered all over their targets. I'm waiting for the press conference with the best bits laid out on the tables.
I doubt that there will be any stencils saying 'Product of Iran', unless the paint smells fresh.
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 07:22 AM
1. I am still waiting to read some informed discussion concerning the *accuracy* of the projectiles hitting their targets with uncanny precision from hundreds of miles away. What does this say about the achievement of those pesky Eye-rainians? https://www.moonofalabama.org/images9/saudihit2.jpg

2. "The US Navy has many ships in the Gulf and the Arabian Sea. The Iranian Navy and the IRGC Navy will attack our naval vessels until the Iranian forces are utterly destroyed.: Ahem, Which forces are utterly destroyed? With respect colonel, you are not thinking straight. An army with supersonic land to sea missiles that are highly accurate will make minced meat of any fool's ship that dare attack it. The lesson of the last few months is that Iran is deadly serious about its position that if they cannot sell their oil, no one else will be able to either. And if the likes of the relatively broadminded colonel have not yet learned that lesson, then this can only mean that the escalation ladder will continue to be climbed, rung by rung. Next rung: deep sea port of Yanbu, or, less likely, Ra's Tanura. That's when the price of oil will really go through the roof and the Chinese (and possibly one or two of the Europoodles) will start crying Uncle Scam. Nuff Sed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
nuff Sed

It sounds like you are getting a little "help" with this. You statement about the result of a naval confrontation in the Gulf reflects the 19th Century conception that "ships can't fight forts." that has been many times exploded. You have never seen the amount of firepower that would be unleashed on Iran from the air and sea. Would the US take casualties? Yes, but you will be destroyed.

Nuff Sed -> turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:18 AM
We will have to agree to disagree. But unless I am quite mistaken, the majority view if not the consensus of informed up to date opinion holds that the surest sign that the US is getting ready to attack Iran is that it is withdrawing all of its naval power out of the Persian Gulf, where they would be sitting ducks.

Besides, I don't think it will ever come to that. Not to repeat myself, but taking out either deep sea ports of Ra's Tanura and/ or Yanbu (on the Red Sea side) will render Saudi oil exports null and void for the next six months. The havoc that will play with the price of oil and consequently on oil futures and derivatives will be enough for any president and army to have to worry about. But if the US would still be foolhardy enough to continue to want to wage war (i.e. continue its strangulation of Iran, which it has been doing more or less for the past 40 years), then the Yemeni siege would be broken and there would be a two-pronged attack from the south and the north, whereby al-Qatif, the Shi'a region of Saudi Arabia where all the oil and gas is located, will be liberated from their barbaric treatment at the hands of the takfiri Saudi scum, which of course is completely enabled and only made possible by the War Criminal Uncle Sam.

Go ahead, make my day: roll the dice.

scott s. said in reply to Nuff Sed ... , 18 September 2019 at 11:32 AM
AFAIK the only "US naval power" currently is the Abraham Lincoln CSG and I haven't seen any public info that it was in the Persian Gulf. Aside from the actual straits, I'm not sure of your "sitting ducks" assertion. First they wouldn't be sitting, and second you have the problem of a large volume of grey shipping that would complicate the targeting problem. Of course with a reduced time-of-flight, that also reduces target position uncertainty.
CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:55 AM
Forts are stationary.
Nothing I have read implies that Iran has a lot of investment in stationary forts.
Millennium Challenge 2002, only the game cannot be restarted once the enemy does not behave as one hopes. Unlike in scripted war simulations, Opfor can win.
I remember the amount of devastation that was unleashed on another "backwards nation" Linebackers 1 - 20, battleship salvos chemical defoliants, the Phoenix program, napalm for dessert.
And not to put to fine a point on it, but that benighted nation was oriental; Iran is a Caucasian nation full of Caucasian type peoples.
Nothing about this situation is of any benefit to the USA.
We do not need Saudi oil, we do not need Israel to come to the defense of the USA here in North America, we do not need to stick our dick into the hornet's nest and then wonder why they sting and it hurts. How many times does Dumb have to win?
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
3. Also, I can't imagine this event as being a very welcome one for Israeli military observers, the significance of which is not lost on them, unlike their US counterparts. If Yemen/ Iran can put the Abqaiq processing plant out of commission for a few weeks, then obviusly Hezbollah can do the same for the giant petrochemical complex at Haifa, as well as Dimona, and the control tower at Ben Gurion Airport.
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/239251

https://www.timesofisrael.com/haifa-municipal-workers-block-refinery-access-for-2nd-day/

These are the kinds of issues which are germane: the game has changed. What are the implications?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:08 AM
nuff sed

I have said repeatedly that Hizbullah can destroy Israel. Nothing about that has changed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:17 AM
Yeah, right

It was late at night when I wrote this. Yeah, Right. the Iranians could send their massive ground force into Syria where it would be chewed up by US and Israeli air. Alternatively they could invade Saudi arabia.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:38 AM
Thank you for the reply but actually I was thinking that an invasion of Afghanistan would be the more sensible ploy.

To my mind if the Iranian Army sits on its backside then the USAF and IAF will ignore it to roam the length and breadth of Iran destroying whatever ground targets are on their long-planned target-list.

Or that Iranian Army can launch itself into Afghanistan, at which point all of the USA plans for a methodical aerial pummelling of Iran's infrastructure goes out the window as the USAF scrambles to save the American forces in Afghanistan from being overrun.

Isn't that correct?

So what incentive is there for that Iranian Army to sit around doing nothing?

Iran will do what the USAF isn't expecting it to do, if for no other reason that it upsets the USA's own game-plan.

johnf , 18 September 2019 at 08:41 AM
There seems to be a bit of a hiatus in proceedings - not in these columns but on the ground in the ME.

Everyone seems to be waiting for something.

Could this "something" be the decisive word fron our commander in chief Binyamin Netanyahu?

The thing is he has just pretty much lost an election. Likud might form part of the next government of Israel but most likely not with him at its head.

Does anyone have any ideas on what the future policy of Israel is likely to be under Gantz or whoever? Will it be the same, worse or better?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:51 AM
Yeah Right

The correct US move would be to ignore an Iranian invasion of Afghanistan and continue leaving the place. The Iranian Shia can then fight the Sunni jihadi tribesmen.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:29 AM
Oh, I completely agree that if the Iranians launch an invasion of Afghanistan then the only sensible strategy would be for the US troops to pack up and get out as fast as possible.

But that is "cut and run", which many in Washington would view as a humiliation.

Do you really see the beltway warriors agreeing to that?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:53 AM
Stueee

A flaw in your otherwise sound argument is that the US military has not been seriously engaged for several years and has been reconstituting itself with the money Trump has given them.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:57 AM
Nuff Sed

Re-positioning of forces does not indicate that a presidential decision for war has been made. The navy will not want to fight you in the narrow, shallow waters of the Gulf.

Lars , 18 September 2019 at 09:53 AM
I would think that Mr. Trump would have a hard time sell a war with Iran over an attack on Saudi Arabia. The good question about how would that war end will soon be raised and I doubt there are many good answers.

The US should have gotten out of that part of the world a long time ago, just as they should have paid more attention to the warnings in President Eisenhower's farewell address.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:12 AM
CK

The point was about shore based firepower, not forts. don't be so literal.

CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 10:34 AM
The Perfumed Fops in the DOD restarted Millennium Challenge 2002,because Gen Van Riper had used 19th and early 20th century tactics and shore based firepower to sink the Blue Teams carrier forces. There was a script, Van Riper did some adlibbing. Does the US DOD think that Iran will follow the US script? In a unipolar world maybe the USA could enforce a script, that world was severely wounded in 1975, took a sucking chest wound during operation Cakewalk in 2003 and died in Syria in 2015. Too many poles too many powers not enough diplomacy. It will not end well.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:16 AM
lars

We would crush Iran at some cost to ourselves but the political cost to the anti-globalist coalition would catastrophic. BTW Trump's "base" isn't big enough to elect him so he cannot afford to alienate independents.

prawnik , 18 September 2019 at 10:32 AM
Even if Rouhani and the Iranian Parliament personally designed, assembled, targeted and launched the missiles (scarier sounding version of "drones"), then they should be congratulated, for the Saudi tyrant deserves every bad thing that he gets.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:49 AM
prawnik (Sid) in this particular situation goering's glittering generalization does not apply. Trump needs a lot of doubting suburbanites to win and a war will not incline them to vote for him.
Bill Wade , 18 September 2019 at 10:53 AM
Looks like President Trump is walking it back, tweet: I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!
PRC90 , 18 September 2019 at 11:34 AM
I doubt there will be armed conflict of any kind.
Everything Trump does from now (including sacking the Bolton millstone) will be directed at winning 2020, and that will not be aided by entering into some inconclusive low intensity attrition war.
Iran, on the other hand, will be doing everything it can to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
This may be a useful tool for determining their next move, but the limit of their actions would be when some Democrats begin making the electorally damaging mistake of critising Trump for not retaliating against Iranian provocations.
Terence Gore , 18 September 2019 at 11:35 AM
Pros and cons of many options considered against Iran

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/06_iran_strategy.pdf

[Jan 06, 2020] How To Avoid Swallowing War Propaganda by Nathan J. Robinson

Highly recommended!
Jan 05, 2020 | www.currentaffairs.org
The Trump administration has assassinated Iran's top military leader, Qassim Suleimani, and with the possibility of a serious escalation in violent conflict, it's a good time to think about how propaganda works and train ourselves to avoid accidentally swallowing it.

The Iraq War, the bloodiest and costliest U.S. foreign policy calamity of the 21 st century, happened in part because the population of the United States was insufficiently cynical about its government and got caught up in a wave of nationalistic fervor. The same thing happened with World War I and the Vietnam War. Since a U.S./Iran war would be a disaster, it is vital that everyone make sure they do not accidentally end up repeating the kinds of talking points that make war more likely.

Let us bear in mind, then, some of the basic lessons about war propaganda.

Things are not true because a government official says them.

I do not mean to treat you as stupid by making such a basic point, but plenty of journalists and opposition party politicians do not understand this point's implications, so it needs to be said over and over. What happens in the leadup to war is that government officials make claims about the enemy, and then those claims appear in newspapers ("U.S. officials say Saddam poses an imminent threat") and then in the public consciousness, the "U.S. officials say" part disappears, so that the claim is taken for reality without ever really being scrutinized. This happens because newspapers are incredibly irresponsible and believe that so long as you attach "Experts say" or "President says" to a claim, you are off the hook when people end up believing it, because all you did was relay the fact that a person said a thing, you didn't say it was true. This is the approach the New York Times took to Bush administration allegations in the leadup to the Iraq War, and it meant that false claims could become headline news just because a high-ranking U.S. official said them. [UPDATE: here's an example from Vox, today, of a questionable government claim being magically transformed into a certain fact.]

In the context of Iran, let us consider some things Mike Pence tweeted about Qassim Suleimani:

"[Suleimani] assisted in the clandestine travel to Afghanistan of 10 of the 12 terrorists who carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel. The world is a safer place today because Soleimani is gone."

It is possible, given these tweets, to publish the headline: "Suleimani plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats, says Pence." That headline is technically true. But you should not publish that headline unless Pence provides some supporting evidence, because what will happen in the discourse is that people will link to your news story to prove that Suleimani was plotting imminent attacks.

To see how unsubstantiated claims get spread, let's think about the Afghanistan hijackers bit. David Harsanyi of the National Review defends Pence's claim about Suleimani helping the hijackers. Harsanyi cites the 9/11 Commission report, saying that the 9/11 commission report concluded Iran aided the hijackers. The report does indeed say that Iran allowed free travel to some of the men who went on to carry out the 9/11 attacks. (The sentence cut off at the bottom of Harsanyi's screenshot, however, rather crucially says : "We have no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack.") Harsanyi admits that the report says absolutely nothing about Suleimani. But he argues that Pence was "mostly right," pointing out that Pence did not say Iran knew these men would be the hijackers, merely that it allowed them passage.

Let's think about what is going on here. Pence is trying to convince us that Suleimani deserved to die, that it was necessary for the U.S. to kill him, which will also mean that if Iran retaliates violently, that violence will be because Iran is an aggressive power rather than because the U.S. just committed an unprovoked atrocity against one of its leaders, dropping a bomb on a popular Iranian leader. So Pence wants to link Suleimani in your mind with 9/11, in order to get you blood boiling the same way you might have felt in 2001 as you watched the Twin Towers fall.

There is no evidence that either Iran or Suleimani tried to help these men do 9/11. Harsanyi says that Pence does not technically allege this. But he doesn't have to! What impression are people going to get from helped the hijackers? Pence hopes you'll conflate Suleimani and Iran as one entity, then assume that if Iran ever aided these men in any way, it basically did 9/11 even if it didn't have any clue that was what they were going to do.

This brings us to #2:

Do not be bullied into accepting simple-minded sloganeering

Let's say that, long before Ted Kaczynski began sending bombs through the mail, you once rented him an apartment. This was pure coincidence. Back then he was just a Berkeley professor, you did not know he would turn out to be the Unabomber. It is, however, possible, for me to say, and claim I am not technically lying, that you "housed and materially aided the Unabomber." (A friend of mine once sold his house to the guy who turned out to be the Green River Killer, so this kind of situation does happen.)

Of course, it is incredibly dishonest of me to characterize what you did that way. You rented an apartment to a stranger, yet I'm implying that you intentionally helped the Unabomber knowing he was the Unabomber. In sane times, people would see me as the duplicitous one. But the leadup to war is often not a sane time, and these distinctions can get lost. In the Pence claim about Afghanistan, for it to have any relevance to Suleimani, it would be critical to know (assuming the 9/11 commission report is accurate) whether Iran actually could have known what the men it allowed to pass would ultimately do, and whether Suleimani was involved. But that would involve thinking, and War Fever thrives on emotion rather than thought.

There are all kinds of ways in which you can bully people into accepting idiocy. Consider, for example, the statement "Nathan Robinson thinks it's good to help terrorists who murder civilians." There is a way in which this is actually sort of true: I think lawyers who aid those accused of terrible crimes do important work. If we are simple-minded and manipulative, we can call that "thinking it's good to help terrorists," and during periods of War Fever, that's exactly what it will be called. There is a kind of cheap sophistry that becomes ubiquitous:

I remember all this bullshit from my high school years. Opposing the invasion of Iraq meant loving Saddam Hussein and hating America. Thinking 9/11 was the predictable consequence of U.S. actions meant believing 9/11 was justified. Of course, rational discussion can expose these as completely unfair mischaracterizations, but every time war fever whips up, rational discussion becomes almost impossible. In World War I, if you opposed the draft you were undermining your country in a time of war. During Vietnam, if you believed the North Vietnamese had the more just case, you were a Communist traitor who endorsed every atrocity committed in the name of Ho Chi Minh, and if you thought John McCain shouldn't have been bombing civilians in the first place then clearly you believed he should have been tortured and you hated America.

"If you oppose assassinating Suleimani you must love terrorists" will be repeated on Fox News (and probably even on MSNBC). Nationalism advocate Yoram Hazony says there is something wrong with those who do not "feel shame when our country is shamed" -- presumably those who do not feel wounded pride when America is emasculated by our enemies are weak and pitiful. We should refuse to put up with these kind of cheap slurs, or even to let those who deploy them place the burden of proof on us to refute them. (In 2004, Democrats worried that they did appear unpatriotic, and so they ran a decorated war veteran, John Kerry, for president. That didn't work.)

Scrutinize the arguments

Here's Mike Pence again:

"[Suleimani] provided advanced deadly explosively formed projectiles, advanced weaponry, training, and guidance to Iraqi insurgents used to conduct attacks on U.S. and coalition forces; directly responsible for the death of 603 U.S. service members, along with thousands of wounded."

I am going to say something that is going to sound controversial if you buy into the kind of simple-minded logic we just discussed: Saying that someone was "responsible for the deaths of U.S. service members" does not, in and of itself, tell us anything about whether what they did was right or wrong. In order to believe it did, we would have to believe that the United States is automatically right, and that countries opposing the United States are automatically wrong. That is indeed the logic that many nationalists in this country follow; remember that when the U.S. shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, causing hundreds of deaths, George H.W. Bush said that he would never apologize for America, no matter what the facts were. What if America did something wrong? That was irrelevant, or rather impossible, because to Bush, a thing was right because America did it, even if that thing was the mass murder of Iranian civilians.

One of the major justifications for murdering Suleimani is that he "caused the deaths of U.S. soldiers." He was thus an aggressor, and could/should have been killed. That is where people like Pence want you to end your inquiry. But let us remember where those soldiers were. Were they in Miami? No. They were in Iraq. Why were they in Iraq? Because we illegally invaded and seized a country. Now, we can debate whether (1) there is actually sufficient evidence of Suleimani's direct involvement and (2) whether these acts of violence can be justified, but to say that Suleimani has "American blood on his hands" is to say nothing at all without an examination of whether the United States was in the right.

We have to think clearly in examining the arguments that are being made. Here 's the Atlantic 's George Packer on the execution:

"There was a case for killing Major General Qassem Soleimani. For two decades, as the commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, he executed Iran's long game of strategic depth in the Middle East -- arming and guiding proxy militias in Lebanon and Iraq that became stronger than either state, giving Bashar al-Assad essential support to win the Syrian civil war at the cost of half a million lives, waging a proxy war in Yemen against the hated Saudis, and repeatedly testing America and its allies with military actions around the region for which Iran never seemed to pay a military price."

The article goes on to discuss whether this case is outweighed by the pragmatic case against killing him. But wait. Let's dwell on this. Does this constitute a case for killing him? He assisted Bashar al-Assad. Okay, but presumably then killing Assad would have been justified too? Is the rule here that our government is allowed unilaterally to execute the officials of other governments who are responsible for many deaths? Are we the only ones who can do this? Can any government claim the right?

He assisted Yemen in its fight against "the hated Saudis." But is Saudi Arabia being hated for good reason? It is not enough to say that someone committed violence without analyzing the underlying justice of the parties' relative claims.

Moreover, assumptions are made that if you can prove somebody committed a heinous act, what Trump did is justified. But that doesn't follow: Unless we throw all law out the window, and extrajudicial punishment is suddenly acceptable, showing that Suleimani was a war criminal doesn't prove that you can unilaterally kill him with a drone. Henry Kissinger is a war criminal. So is George W. Bush. But they should be captured and tried in a court, not bombed from the sky. The argument that Suleimani was planning imminent attacks is relevant to whether you can stop him with violence (and requires persuasive proof), but mere allegations of murderous past acts do not show that extrajudicial killings are legitimate.

It's very easy to come up with superficially persuasive arguments that can justify just about anything. The job of an intelligent populace is to see whether those arguments can actually withstand scrutiny.

Keep the focus on what matters

"The main question about the strike isn't moral or even legal -- it's strategic." -- The Atlantic

"The real question to ask about the American drone attack that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani was not whether it was justified, but whether it was wise" -- The New York Times

"I think that the question that we ought to focus on is why now? Why not a month ago and why not a month from now?" -- Elizabeth Warren

They're going to try to define the debate for you. Leaving aside the moral questions, is this good strategy? And then you find yourself arguing on those terms: No, it was bad strategy, it will put "our personnel" in harms way, without noticing that you are implicitly accepting the sociopathic logic that says "America's interests" are the only ones in the world that matters. This is how debates about Vietnam went: They were rarely about whether our actions were good for Vietnamese people, but about whether they were good or bad for us , whether we were squandering U.S. resources and troops in a "fruitless" "mistake." The people of this country still do not understand the kind of carnage we inflicted on Vietnam because our debates tend to be about whether things we do are "strategically prudent" rather than whether they are just. The Atlantic calls the strike a "blunder," shifting the discussion to be about the wisdom of the killing rather than whether it is a choice our country is even permitted to make. "Blunder" essentially assumes that we are allowed to do these things and the only question is whether it's good for us.

There will be plenty of attempts to distract you with irrelevant issues. We will spent more time talking about whether Trump followed the right process for war, whether he handled the rollout correctly, and less about whether the underlying action itself is correct. People like Ben Shapiro will say things like :

"Barack Obama routinely droned terrorists abroad -- including American citizens -- who presented far less of a threat to Americans and American interests than Soleimani. So spare me the hysterics about 'assassination."

In order for this to have any bearing on anything, you have to be someone who defends what Obama did. If you are, on the other hand, someone who belives that Obama, too, assassinated people without due process (which he did), then Shapiro has proved exactly nothing about whether Trump's actions were legitimate. (Note, too, the presumption that threatening "America's interests" can get you killed, a standard we would not want any other country using but are happy to use ourselves.)

Emphasis matters

Consider three statements:

These are statements made by Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, respectively. Note that each of them is consistent with believing Trump's decision was the wrong one, but their emphasis is different. Buttigieg says Suleimani was a "threat" but that there are "questions," Warren says Suleimani was a "murderer" but that this was "reckless," and Sanders says this was a "dangerous escalation." It could be that none of these three would have done the same thing themselves, but the emphasis is vastly different. Buttigieg and Warren lead with condemnation of the dead man, in ways that imply that there was nothing that unjust about what happened. Sanders does not dwell on Suleimani but instead talks about the dangers of new wars.

We have to be clear and emphatic in our messaging, because so much effort is made to make what should be clear issues appear murky. If, for example, you gave a speech in 2002 opposing the Iraq War, but the first half was simply a discussion of what a bad and threatening person Saddam Hussein was, people might actually get the opposite of the impression you want them to get. Buttigieg and Warren, while they appear to question the president, have the effect of making his action seem reasonable. After all, they admit that he got rid of a threatening murderer! Sanders admits nothing of the kind: The only thing he says is that Trump has made the world worse. He puts the emphasis where it matters.

I do not fully like Sanders' statement, because it still talks a bit more about what war means for our people , but it does mention destabilization and the total number of lives that can be lost. It is a far more morally clear and powerful antiwar statement. Buttigieg's is exactly what you'd expect of a Consultant President and it should give us absolutely no confidence that he would be a powerful voice against a war, should one happen. Warren confirms that she is not an effective advocate for peace. In a time when there will be pressure for a violent conflict, we need to make sure that our statements are not watery and do not make needless concessions to the hawks' propaganda.

Imagine how everything would sound if the other side said it.

If you're going to understand the world clearly, you have to kill your nationalistic emotions. An excellent way to do this is to try to imagine if all the facts were reversed. If Iraq had invaded the United States, and U.S. militias violently resisted, would it constitute "aggression" for those militias to kill Iraqi soldiers? If Britain funded those U.S. militias, and Iraq killed the head of the British military with a drone strike, would this constitute "stopping a terrorist"? Of course, in that situation, the Iraqi government would certainly spin it that way, because governments call everyone who opposes them terrorists. But rationality requires us not just to examine whether violence has been committed (e.g., whether Suleimani ordered attacks) but what the full historical context of that violence is, and who truly deserves the "terrorist" label.

Is there anything Suleimani did that hasn't also been done by the CIA? Remember that we actually engineered the overthrow of the Iranian government, within living people's lifetimes . Would an Iranian have been justified in assassinating the head of the CIA? I doubt there are many Americans who think they would. I think most Americans would consider this terrorism. But this is because terrorism is a word that, by definition, cannot apply to things we do, and only applies to the things others do. When you start to actually reverse the situations in your mind, and see how things look from the other side, you start to fully grasp just how crude and irrational so much propaganda is.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/hPOy-LutJQg?feature=oembed

Watch out for euphemisms

Our access to much of the world is through language alone. We only see our tiny sliver of the world with our own eyes, much of the rest of it has to be described in words or shown to us through images. That means it's very easy to manipulate our perceptions. If you control the flow of information, you can completely alter someone's understanding of the things that they can't see firsthand.

Euphemistic language is always used to cover atrocities. Even the Nazis did not say they were "mass murdering innocent civilians." They said they were defending themselves from subversive elements, guaranteeing sufficient living space for their people, purifying their culture, etc. When the United States commits murder, it does not say it is committing murder. It says it is engaging in a stabilization program and restoring democratic rule. We saw during the recent Bolivian coup how easy it is to portray the seizure of power as "democracy" and democracy as tyranny. Euphemistic language has been one of the key tools of murderous regimes. In fact, many of them probably believe their own language; their specialized vocabulary allows them to inhabit a world of their own invention where they are good people punishing evil.

Assassination sounds bad. It sounds like something illegitimate, something that would call into question the goodness of the United States, even if the person being assassinated can be argued to have "deserved it." Thus Rothman and Bloomberg will not even admit that what the U.S. did here was an assassination, even though we literally targeted a high official from a sovereign country and dropped a bomb on him. Instead, this is " neutralization ." (Read this fascinatingly feeble attempt by the Associated Press to explain why it isn't calling an obvious assassination an assassination, just as the media declined to call torture torture when Bush did it.)

Those of us who want to resist marches to war need to insist on calling things exactly what they are and refuse to allow the country to slide into the use of language that conceals the reality of our actions.

Remember what people were saying five minutes ago

Five minutes ago, hardly anybody was talking about Suleimani. Now they all speak as if he was Public Enemy #1. Remember how much you hated that guy? Remember how much damage he did? No, I do not remember, because people like Ben Shapiro only just discovered their hatred for Suleimani once they had to justify his murder.

During the buildup to a war there is a constant effort to make you forget what things were like a few minutes ago. Before World War I, Americans lived relatively harmoniously with Germans in their midst. The same thing with Japanese people before World War II. Then, immediately, they began to hate and fear people who had recently been their neighbors.

Let us say Iran responds to this extrajudicial murder with a colossal act of violent reprisal, after the killing unifies the country around a demand for vengeance. They kill a high-ranking American official, or wage an attack that kills our civilians. Perhaps it will attack some of the soldiers that are now being moved into the Middle East. The Trump administration will then want you to forget that it promised this assassination was to " stop a war ." It will then want you to focus solely on Iran's most recent act, to see that as the initial aggression. If the attack is particularly bad, with family members of victims crying on TV and begging for vengeance, you will be told to look into the face of Iranian evil, and those of us who are anti-war will be branded as not caring about the victims. Nobody wants you to remember the history of U.S./Iran relations, the civilians we killed of theirs or the time we destabilized their whole country and got rid of its democracy. They want you to have a two-second memory, to become a blind and unthinking patriot whose sole thought is the avenging of American blood. Resisting propaganda requires having a memory, looking back on how things were before and not accepting war as the "new normal."

Listen to the Chomsky on your shoulder.

"It is perfectly insane to suggest the U.S. was the aggressor here." -- Ben Shapiro

They are going to try to convince you that you are insane for asking questions, or for not accepting what the government tells you. They will put you in topsy-turvy land, where thinking that assassinating foreign officials is "aggression" is not just wrong, but sheer madness. You will have to try your best to remember what things are, because it is not easy, when everyone says the emperor has clothes, or that Line A is longer than Line B, or that shocking people to death is fine, to have confidence in your independent judgment.

This is why I keep a little imaginary Noam Chomsky sitting on my shoulder at all times. Chomsky helps keep me sane, by cutting through lies and euphemisms and showing things as they really are. I recommend reading his books, especially during times of war. He never swallowed Johnson's nonsense about Vietnam or Bush's nonsense about Iraq. And of course they called him insane, anti-American, terrorist-loving, anti-Semitic, blah blah blah.

What I really mean here though is: Listen to the dissidents. They will not appear on television. They will be smeared and treated as lunatics. But you need them if you are going to be able to resist the absolute barrage of misinformation, or to hear yourself think over the pounding war drums. Times of War Fever can be wearying, because there is just so much aggression against dissent that your resistance wears down. This is why a community is so necessary. You may watch people who previously seemed reasonable develop a pathological bloodlust (mild-mannered moderate types like Thomas Friedman and Brian Williams going suck on our missiles ). Find the people who see clearly and stick close to them.

Someday peace will prevail. If you enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing to our magnificent print edition or making a donation . Current Affairs is 100% reader-supported. Nathan J. Robinson

[Jan 06, 2020] Neocon Pompeo pushed Trump to kill Soleimani; Looks like West Point educated military contactor mafia to which Pompeo and Esper belongs controls the President, although Trump malleability and recklessness are inexcusable

Highly recommended!
So Trump instead of draining the swamp brought swamp creatures like Pompeo into his Administration; now he can pay the price.
Notable quotes:
"... The greenlighting of the airstrike near Baghdad airport represents a bureaucratic victory for Pompeo ..."
"... "We took a bad guy off the battlefield. We made the right decision," Pompeo told CNN. "I'm proud of the effort that President Trump undertook." ..."
"... On Dec. 29, Pompeo, Esper and Milley traveled to the president's private club in Florida, where the two defense officials presented possible responses to Iranian aggression, including the option of killing Soleimani, senior U.S. officials said. ..."
"... One significant factor was the "lockstep" coordination for the operation between Pompeo and Esper, both graduates in the same class at the U.S. Military Academy, who deliberated ahead of the briefing with Trump, senior U.S. officials said. Pence also endorsed the decision, but he did not attend the meeting in Florida. ..."
"... Some defense officials said Pompeo's claims of an imminent and direct threat were overstated, and they would prefer that he make the case based on the killing of the American contractor and previous Iranian provocations. ..."
"... On Sunday, Iran announced that it was suspending all limits of the nuclear deal, including on uranium enrichment, research and development, and enlarging its stockpile of nuclear fuel. Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China, were original signatories of that deal with the United States and Iran, and all opposed Trump's decision to withdraw from the pact. ..."
"... "No one trusts what Trump will do next, so it's hard to get behind this," said the European diplomat. ..."
"... Since his time as CIA director, Pompeo has forged a friendship with Yossi Cohen, the director of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, said a person familiar with their meetings. The men have spoken about the threat posed by Iran to both Israel and the United States. In a prescient interview in October, Cohen said Soleimani "knows perfectly well that his elimination is not impossible." ..."
"... At every step of his government career, Pompeo has tried to stake out a maximalist position on Iran that has made him popular among two critical pro-Israel constituencies in Republican politics: conservative Jewish donors and Christian evangelicals. ..."
"... After Trump tapped Pompeo to lead the CIA, Pompeo quickly set up an Iran Mission Center at the agency to focus intelligence-gathering efforts and operations, elevating Iran's importance as an intelligence target. ..."
Jan 06, 2020 | www.washingtonpost.com

The secretary also spoke to President Trump multiple times every day last week, culminating in Trump's decision to approve the killing of Iran's top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, at the urging of Pompeo and Vice President Pence, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Pompeo had lost a similar high-stakes deliberation last summer when Trump declined to retaliate militarily against Iran after it downed a U.S. surveillance drone, an outcome that left Pompeo "morose," according to one U.S. official. But recent changes to Trump's national security team and the whims of a president anxious about being viewed as hesitant in the face of Iranian aggression created an opening for Pompeo to press for the kind of action he had been advocating.

The greenlighting of the airstrike near Baghdad airport represents a bureaucratic victory for Pompeo, but it also carries multiple serious risks: another protracted regional war in the Middle East; retaliatory assassinations of U.S. personnel stationed around the world; an interruption in the battle against the Islamic State; the closure of diplomatic pathways to containing Iran's nuclear program; and a major backlash in Iraq, whose parliament voted on Sunday to expel all U.S. troops from the country.

For Pompeo, whose political ambitions are a source of constant speculation , the death of U.S. diplomats would be particularly damaging given his unyielding criticisms of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton following the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and other American personnel in Benghazi in 2012.

But none of those considerations stopped Pompeo from pushing for the targeted strike, U.S. officials said, underscoring a fixation on Iran that spans 10 years of government service from Congress to the CIA to the State Department.

"We took a bad guy off the battlefield. We made the right decision," Pompeo told CNN. "I'm proud of the effort that President Trump undertook."

Pompeo first spoke with Trump about killing Soleimani months ago, said a senior U.S. official, but neither the president nor Pentagon officials were willing to countenance such an operation.

For more than a year, defense officials warned that the administration's campaign of economic sanctions against Iran had increased tensions with Tehran, requiring a bigger and bigger share of military resources in the Middle East when many at the Pentagon wanted to redeploy their firepower to East Asia.

How the siege of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad unfolded On Jan. 1, the siege on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad appeared to come to an end after supporters of the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia retreated. (Liz Sly, Joyce Lee, Mustafa Salim/The Washington Post)

Trump, too, sought to draw down from the Middle East as he promised from the opening days of his presidential campaign. But that mind-set shifted on Dec. 27 when 30 rockets hit a joint U.S.-Iraqi base outside Kirkuk, killing an American civilian contractor and injuring service members.

On Dec. 29, Pompeo, Esper and Milley traveled to the president's private club in Florida, where the two defense officials presented possible responses to Iranian aggression, including the option of killing Soleimani, senior U.S. officials said.

Trump's decision to target Soleimani came as a surprise and a shock to some officials briefed on his decision, given the Pentagon's long-standing concerns about escalation and the president's aversion to using military force against Iran.

One significant factor was the "lockstep" coordination for the operation between Pompeo and Esper, both graduates in the same class at the U.S. Military Academy, who deliberated ahead of the briefing with Trump, senior U.S. officials said. Pence also endorsed the decision, but he did not attend the meeting in Florida.

"Taking out Soleimani would not have happened under [former secretary of defense Jim] Mattis," said a senior administration official who argued that the Mattis Pentagon was risk-averse. "Mattis was opposed to all of this. It's not a hit on Mattis, it's just his predisposition. Milley and Esper are different. Now you've got a cohesive national security team and you've got a secretary of state and defense secretary who've known each other their whole adult lives."

Mattis declined to comment.

In the days since the strike, Pompeo has become the voice of the administration on the matter, speaking to allies and making the public case for the operation. Trump chose Pompeo to appear on all of the Sunday news shows because he "sticks to the line" and "never gives an inch," an administration official said.

But critics inside and outside the administration have questioned Pompeo's justification for the strike based on his claims that "dozens if not hundreds" of American lives were at risk.

[ Trump faces Iran crisis with fewer experienced advisers and strained relations with allies ]

Lawmakers left classified briefings with U.S. intelligence officials on Friday saying they heard nothing to suggest that the threat posed by the proxy forces guided by Soleimani had changed substantially in recent months.

When repeatedly pressed on Sunday about the imminent nature of the threats, whether it was days or weeks away, or whether they had been foiled by the U.S. airstrike, Pompeo dismissed the questions.

"If you're an American in the region, days and weeks -- this is not something that's relevant," Pompeo told CNN.

Some defense officials said Pompeo's claims of an imminent and direct threat were overstated, and they would prefer that he make the case based on the killing of the American contractor and previous Iranian provocations.

Critics have also questioned how an imminent attack would be foiled by killing Soleimani, who would not have carried out the strike himself.

"If the attack was going to take place when Soleimani was alive, it is difficult to comprehend why it wouldn't take place now that he is dead," said Robert Malley, the president of the International Crisis Group and a former Obama administration official.

Following the strike, Pompeo has held back-to-back phone calls with his counterparts around the globe but has received a chilly reception from European allies, many of whom fear that the attack puts their embassies in Iran and Iraq in jeopardy and has now eliminated the chance to keep a lid on Iran's nuclear program.

"We have woken up to a more dangerous world," said France's Europe minister, Amelie de Montchalin.

Two European diplomats familiar with the calls said Pompeo expected European leaders to champion the U.S. strike publicly even though they were never consulted on the decision.

"The U.S. has not helped the Iran situation, and now they want everyone to cheerlead this," one diplomat said.

"Our position over the past few years has been about defending the JCPOA," said the diplomat, referring to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

On Sunday, Iran announced that it was suspending all limits of the nuclear deal, including on uranium enrichment, research and development, and enlarging its stockpile of nuclear fuel. Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China, were original signatories of that deal with the United States and Iran, and all opposed Trump's decision to withdraw from the pact.

"No one trusts what Trump will do next, so it's hard to get behind this," said the European diplomat.

Pompeo has slapped back at U.S. allies, saying "the Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did -- what the Americans did -- saved lives in Europe as well," he told Fox News.

Israel has stood out in emphatically cheering the Soleimani operation, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praising Trump for "acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively."

"Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defense," he said.

Since his time as CIA director, Pompeo has forged a friendship with Yossi Cohen, the director of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, said a person familiar with their meetings. The men have spoken about the threat posed by Iran to both Israel and the United States. In a prescient interview in October, Cohen said Soleimani "knows perfectly well that his elimination is not impossible."

Though Democrats have greeted the strike with skepticism, Republican leaders, who have long viewed Pompeo as a reassuring voice in the administration, uniformly praised the decision as the eradication of a terrorist who directed the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

"Soleimani made it his life's work to take the Iranian revolutionary call for death to America and death to Israel and turn them into action," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

A critical moment for Pompeo is nearing as he faces growing questions about a potential Senate run, though some GOP insiders say that decision seems to have stalled. Pompeo has kept in touch with Ward Baker, a political consultant who would probably lead the operation, and others in McConnell's orbit, about a bid. But Pompeo hasn't committed one way or the other, people familiar with the conversations said.

Some people close to the secretary say he has mixed feelings about becoming a relatively junior senator from Kansas after leading the State Department and CIA, but there is little doubt in Pompeo's home state that he could win.

At every step of his government career, Pompeo has tried to stake out a maximalist position on Iran that has made him popular among two critical pro-Israel constituencies in Republican politics: conservative Jewish donors and Christian evangelicals.

After Trump tapped Pompeo to lead the CIA, Pompeo quickly set up an Iran Mission Center at the agency to focus intelligence-gathering efforts and operations, elevating Iran's importance as an intelligence target.

At the State Department, he is a voracious consumer of diplomatic notes and reporting on Iran, and he places the country far above other geopolitical and economic hot spots in the world. "If it's about Iran, he will read it," said one diplomat, referring to the massive flow of paper that crosses Pompeo's desk. "If it's not, good luck."

[Jan 06, 2020] The threat of General Soleimani - TTG

Highly recommended!
Below are some idea from Below are some idea from OffGuardian that clrify TT post...
The Saker took a look yesterday at The Soleimani murder – what could happen next . He thinks, as he has said before, that Trump is regarded as a disposable asset by his Deep State handlers and is being used as a front man for risky policy actions that he can be scapegoated for if/when they go wrong.
war with Iran has been the auto-erotic fixation for the hardcore war nuts in Washington for years, and imminent confrontation has been predicted regularly since at least 2005
Trump administration from the very beginning has been ramping up the tensions (Adelson money at work): Trump teared up the nuclear deal, re-imposed sanctions, making provocations, making threats. But this has all been within the familiar framework that always just stops short of actual conflict. The murder of Soleimani is orders of magnitude beyond anything they have ever risked before. the US and Israel now have carte blanche to stage as much false flag 'terrorism' as they want and blame it on Iranian 'revenge'. Whatever else happens, we can almost certainly look forward to some of that. The murder of Soleimani is orders of magnitude beyond anything they have ever risked before. the US and Israel now have carte blanche to stage as much false flag 'terrorism' as they want and blame it on Iranian 'revenge'. Whatever else happens, we can almost certainly look forward to some of that. The murder of Soleimani is orders of magnitude beyond anything they have ever risked before. the US and Israel now have carte blanche to stage as much false flag 'terrorism' as they want and blame it on Iranian 'revenge'. Whatever else happens, we can almost certainly look forward to some of that.
The major question really though is – will this backtracking and odd claims of wanting de-escalation actually do anything to de-escalate? Will it persuade Iran not to seek retaliation, supposing this is now what Pompeo et al want?
It's become a commonplace to describe Trump foreign policy as 'insane', and it's an apposite description. But the murder of Soleimani takes the evident insanity to new and self-defeating levels.
Notable quotes:
"... Eric, the embassy attack hurt little more than our pride. Yes, an entrance lobby and it's contents were burned and destroyed but no American was injured or even roughed up. It was the Iraqi government that let the demonstrators approach the embassy walls, not Soleimani. The unarmed PMU soldiers dispersed as soon as the Iraqi government said their point was made. If we are so thin skinned that rude graffiti and gestures induce us to committing assassinations, we deserve to be labeled as international pariahs. ..."
"... Yes, I see Soleimani as a threat, but he was a threat to the jihadis and the continued US dreams of regional hegemony. ..."
"... According to published pictures of the rockets recovered after the K-1 attack, they were the same powerful new weapons that Turkish troops recovered from a YPG ammo depot in Afrin last year: 'Iranian' 107mm rockets Manufactured 2016 Lot 570. I know matching lots isn't proof of anything, but what are the chances? ..."
"... This "imminent" threat of Gen. Soleimani attacking US forces seems eerily reminiscent of the "mushroom cloud" imminent threat that Bush, Cheney and Blair peddled. Now we even have Pence claiming that Soleimani provided support to the Saudi 9/11 terrorists. Laughable if it wasn't so tragic. But of course at one time the talking point was Saddam orchestrated 9/11 and was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden. ..."
"... After the Iraq WMD, Gadhaffi threat and Assad the butcher and the incorrigible terrorist loving Taliban posing such imminent threats that we must use our awesome military to bomb, invade, occupy, while spending trillions of dollars borrowed from future generations, and our soldiers on the ground serving multiple tours, and our fellow citizens buy into the latest rationale for killing an Iranian & Iraqi general, without an ounce of skepticism, says a lot! ..."
"... IMO, Craig Murray is pointing in the right direction around the word 'immanent,' by pointing out that it is referring to the legally dubious Bethlehem Doctrine of Self Defense, the Israeli, UK and US standard for assassination, in which immanent is defined as widely as, 'we think they were thinking about it.' The USG managed to run afoul of even these overly permissive guidelines, which are meant only against non-state actors. ..."
Jan 06, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com
The threat of General Soleimani - TTG W7kf87eV

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States had "clear, unambiguous" intelligence that a top Iranian general was planning a significant campaign of violence against the United States when it decided to strike him, the top U.S. general said on Friday, warning Soleimani's plots "might still happen."

Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a small group of reporters "we fully comprehend the strategic consequences" associated with the strike against Qassem Soleimani, Tehran's most prominent military commander.

But he said the risk of inaction exceeded the risk that killing him might dramatically escalate tensions with Tehran. "Is there risk? Damn right, there's risk. But we're working to mitigate it," Milley said from his Pentagon office. (Reuters)

-- -- -- -- --

This is pretty much in line with Trump's pronouncement that our assassination of Soleimani along with Iraqi General Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was carried out to prevent a war not start one. Whatever information was presented to Trump painted a picture of imminent danger in his mind. What did the Pentagon see that was so imminent?

Well first let's look at the mindset of the Pentagon concerning our presence in Iraq and Syria. These two recent quotes from Brett McGurk sums up that mindset.

"If we leave Iraq, that will just increase further the running room for Iran and Shia militia groups and also the vacuum that will see groups like ISIS fill and we'll be right back to where we were. So that would be a disaster."

"It's always been Soleimani's strategic game... to get us out of the Middle East. He wants to see us leave Syria, he wants to see us leave Iraq... I think if we leave Iraq after this, that would just be a real disastrous outcome..."

McGurk played a visible role in US policy in Iraq and Syria under Bush, Obama and Trump. Now he's an NBC talking head and a lecturer at Stanford. He could be the poster boy for what many see as a neocon deep state. He's definitely not alone in thinking this way.

So back to the question of what was the imminent threat. Reuters offers an elaborate story of a secret meeting of PMU commanders with Soleimani on a rooftop terrace on the Tigris with a grand view of the US Embassy on the far side of the river.

-- -- -- -- --

"In mid-October, Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani met with his Iraqi Shi'ite militia allies at a villa on the banks of the Tigris River, looking across at the U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad, and instructed them to step up attacks on U.S. targets in the country"

"Two militia commanders and two security sources briefed on the gathering told Reuters that Soleimani instructed his top ally in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and other powerful militia leaders to step up attacks on US targets using sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran."

"Soleimani's plans to attack US forces aimed to provoke a military response that would redirect Iraqis' anger towards Iran to the US, according to the sources briefed on the gathering, Iraqi Shi'ite politicians and government officials close to Iraq PM Adel Abdul Mahdi."

"At the Baghdad villa, Soleimani told the assembled commanders to form a new militia group of low-profile paramilitaries - unknown to the United States - who could carry out rocket attacks on Americans housed at Iraqi military bases." (Reuters)

-- -- -- -- --

And what were those sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran? They were 1960s Chinese designed 107mm multiple rocket launcher technology. These simple but effective rocket launchers were mass produced by the Soviet Union, Iran, Turkey and Sudan in addition to China. They've been used in every conflict since then. The one captured outside of the K1 military base seems to be locally fabricated, but used Iranian manufactured rockets.

Since when does the PMU have to form another low profile militia unit? The PMU is already composed of so many militia units it's difficult to keep track of them. There's also nothing low profile about the Kata'ib Hizbollah, the rumored perpetrators of the K1 rocket attack. They're as high profile as they come.

Perhaps there's something to this Reuters story, but to me it sounds like another shithouse rumor. It would make a great scene in a James Bond movie, but it still sounds like a rumor.

There's another story put out by The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Although it also sounds like a scene form a James Bond movie, I think it sounds more convincing than the Reuters story.

-- -- -- -- --

Delegation of Arab tribes met with "Soleimani" at the invitation of "Tehran" to carry out attacks against U.S. Forces east Euphrates

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that a delegation of the Arab tribes met on the 26th of December 2019, with the goal of directing and uniting forces against U.S. Forces, and according to the Syrian Observatory's sources, that meeting took place with the commander of the al-Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Qassim Soleimani, who was assassinated this morning in a U.S. raid on his convoy in Iraq. the sources reported that: "the invitation came at the official invitation of Tehran, where Iran invited Faisal al-al-Aazil, one of the elders of al-Ma'amra clan, in addition to the representative of al-Bo Asi clan the commander of NDF headquarters in Qamishli Khatib al-Tieb, and the Sheikh of al-Sharayin, Nawaf al-Bashar, the Sheikh of Harb clan, Mahmoud Mansour al-Akoub, " adding that: "the meeting discussed carrying out attacks against the American forces and the Syria Democratic Forces."

Earlier, the head of the Syrian National Security Bureau, Ali Mamlouk, met with the security committee and about 20 Arab tribal elders and Sheikhs in al-Hasakah, at Qamishli Airport Hall on the 5th of December 2019, where he demanded the Arab tribes to withdraw their sons from the ranks of the Syria Democratic Forces. (SOHR)

-- -- -- -- --

I certainly don't automatically give credence to anything Rami sends out of his house in Coventry. I give this story more credibility only because that is exactly what I would do if Syria east of the the Euphrates was my UWOA (unconventional warfare operational area). This is exactly how I would go about ridding the area of the "Great Satan" invaders and making Syria whole again. The story also includes a lot of named individuals. This can be checked. This morning Colonel Lang told me some tribes in that region have a Shia history. Perhaps he can elaborate on that. I've read in several places that Qassim Soleimani knew the tribes in Syria and Iraq like the back of his hand. This SOHR story makes sense. If Soleimani was working with the tribes of eastern Syria like he worked with the tribes and militias of Iraq to create the al-Ḥashd ash-Shaʿbi, it no doubt scared the bejeezus out of the Pentagon and endangered their designs for Iraq and Syria.

So, Qassim Soleimani, the Iranian soldier, the competent and patient Iranian soldier, was a threat to the Pentagon's designs a serious threat. But he was a long term threat, not an imminent threat. And he was just one soldier.The threat is systemic and remains. The question of why, in the minds of Trump and his generals, Soleimani had to die this week is something I will leave for my next post.

A side note on Milley: Whenever I see a photo of him, I am reminded of my old Brigade Commander in the 25th Infantry Division, Colonel Nathan Vail. They both have the countenance of a snapping turtle. One of the rehab transfers in my rifle platoon once referred to him as "that J. Edgar Hoover looking mutha fuka." I had to bite my tongue to keep from breaking out in laughter. It would have been unseemly for a second lieutenant to openly enjoy such disrespect by a PV2 and a troublemaking PV2 at that. God bless PV2 Webster, where ever you are.

TTG


John Merryman , 04 January 2020 at 06:33 PM

Wondering how much more intense the security will be around Trump's campaign rallies during the election.
The Twisted Genius , 04 January 2020 at 06:46 PM
Eric, the embassy attack hurt little more than our pride. Yes, an entrance lobby and it's contents were burned and destroyed but no American was injured or even roughed up. It was the Iraqi government that let the demonstrators approach the embassy walls, not Soleimani. The unarmed PMU soldiers dispersed as soon as the Iraqi government said their point was made. If we are so thin skinned that rude graffiti and gestures induce us to committing assassinations, we deserve to be labeled as international pariahs.

Yes, I see Soleimani as a threat, but he was a threat to the jihadis and the continued US dreams of regional hegemony. I was glad we went back into Iraq to take on the threat of IS and cheered our initial move into Syria to do the same. That was the Sunni-Shia war you worry about. More accurately, it was a Salafist jihadist-all others war. Unfortunately, we overstayed the need and our welcome. It's a character flaw that we cannot loosen our grasp on empire no matter how much it costs us.

Jack -> The Twisted Genius ... , 04 January 2020 at 08:16 PM
TTG,

Thanks for your post. What it says I buy. We are in the Middle East and have been for a while to impose regional hegemony. What that has bought us is nebulous at best. Clearly we have spent trillions and destabilized the region. Millions have been displaced and hundreds of thousands have been killed and maimed, including thousands of our soldiers. Are we better off from our invasion of Iraq, toppling Ghaddafi, and attempting to topple Assad using jihadists? Guys like McGurk, Bolton, Pompeo will say yes. Others like me will say no.

The oil is a canard. We produce more oil than we ever have and it is a fungible commodity. Will it impact Israel if we pull out our forces? Sure. But it may have a salutary effect that it may force them to sue for peace. Will the Al Sauds continue to fund jihadi mayhem? Likely yes, but they'll have to come to some accommodation with the Iranian Shia and recognize their regional strength.

Our choice is straightforward. Continue down the path of more conflict sinking ever more trillions that we don't have expecting a different outcome or cut our losses and get out and let the natural forces of the region assert themselves. I know which path I'll take.

JamesT -> The Twisted Genius ... , 04 January 2020 at 09:48 PM
TTG,

With all due respect, I think you are wrong. I think the protesters swarming the embassy was exactly the same kind of tactic that US backed protesters used in Ukraine (and are currently using in Hong Kong) to great effect. The Persians are unique in that they are capable of studying our methodologies and tactics and appropriating them.

When the US backed protesters took over Maidan square and started taking over various government building in Kiev, Viktor Yanukovych had two choices - either start shooting protesters or watch while his authority collapsed. It was and is a difficult choice.

In my humble opinion, there are few things the stewards of US hegemony fear more than the IRGC becoming the worlds number one disciple of Gene Sharp.

PavewayIV , 04 January 2020 at 06:46 PM
TTG - "And what were those sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran?"

According to published pictures of the rockets recovered after the K-1 attack, they were the same powerful new weapons that Turkish troops recovered from a YPG ammo depot in Afrin last year: 'Iranian' 107mm rockets Manufactured 2016 Lot 570. I know matching lots isn't proof of anything, but what are the chances?

If the U.S. only had a Dilyana Gaytandzhieva to bird-dog out the rat line. Wait... the MSM would have fired her by now for weaponizing journalism against the neocons [sigh].

Factotum , 04 January 2020 at 07:21 PM
If a goal is to get the heck out of the Middle East since it is an intractable cess pit and stat protecting our own borders and internal security, will we be better off with Soleimani out of the picture or left in place.

Knowing of course, more just like him will sprout quickly, like dragon's teeth, in the sands of the desert.ME is a tar baby. Fracking our own tar sands is the preferable alternative.

Real war war would be a direct attack on Israel. Then they get our full frontal assault. But this pissy stuff around the edges is an exercise in futility. 2020 was Trump's to lose.Incapacity to handle asymmetirc warfare is ours to lose.

Jane , 04 January 2020 at 07:35 PM
There is no necessary link between the Iranian support for the Assad regime, to include its operations in tribal areas of Syria. The Iranian-backed militias and Iranian government officials have been operating in that area for a long time, supporting the efforts of Security/Intel Ali Mamlouk. That Suleimani knew the tribes so well is a mark of his professional competence. Everyone is courting the Syrian tribes, some sides more adeptly than others. It is also worth noting that in putting together manpower for their various locally formed Syrian militias, the Iranians took on unemployed Sunnis.

That said, there are small Ismaili communities in Syria and there are apparently a couple of villages in Deir ez Zor that did convert to Shiism, but no mass religious change. The Iranians are sensitive to the fact that they could cause a backlash if they tried hard to promote "an alien culture."

Elora Danan , 04 January 2020 at 07:40 PM
Well, The Donald has turned to Twitter menacing iran with wiping out all of its World Heritage Sites....which is declared intention to commit a war crime...

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1213593975732527112

For what it seems Iran must sawllow the assasination of its beloved and highjly regarded general...or else...

Do you really think there is any explanation for this, whatever Soleimani´s history ( he was doing his duty in his country and neighboring zone...you are...well...everywhere...) or that we can follow this way with you escalating your threats and crimes ever and that everybody must leave it at that without response or you menace coming with more ?

That somebody or some news agency has any explanation for this is precisely the sign of our times and our disgrace. That there is a bunch of greedy people who is willing to do whatever is needed to prevail and keep being obscenely rich...

BTW, would be interesting to know who are the main holders of shares at Reuters...

Elora Danan , 04 January 2020 at 08:09 PM
Board of Directors of Reuters

The same monopolizing almost each and every MSM and news agency at every palce in the world, big bank, big pharma, big business, big capital ( insurances companies nad hedge funds ) big real state, and US think tanks...

Elora Danan , 04 January 2020 at 08:33 PM
In Elora´s opinion, Bret MacGurk is making revanche from Soleimani for the predictable fact that a humble and pious man bred in the region, who worked as bricklayer to help pay his father´s debt during his youth, and moreover has an innate irresistible charisma, managed to connect better with the savage tribes of the ME than such exceptionalist posh theoric bred at such an exceptionalist as well as far away country like the US.

But...what did you expect, that MacGurk would become Lawrence of Arabia versus Soleimani in his simpleness?

May be because of that that he deserved being dismembered by a misile...

As Pence blamed shamefully and stonefacelly Soleimani for 9/11, MacGurk blames him too for having fallen from the heights he was...

It seems that Pence was in the team of four who assesed Trump on this hit...along with Pompeo...

A good response would be that someone would leak the real truth on 9/11 so as to debunk Pence´s mega-lie...

Factotum , 04 January 2020 at 08:48 PM
Two years ago, the public protest theme for Basel's winter carnival Fashnach was the imminent threat nuclear war as NK and US were sabre rattling, and NK was lobbing missles across Japan with sights on West Coast US cities.

Then almost the following week, NK and US planned to meet F2F in Singapore. And we could all breathe again. In the very early spring of 2018.

blue peacock , 04 January 2020 at 09:54 PM
TTG

This "imminent" threat of Gen. Soleimani attacking US forces seems eerily reminiscent of the "mushroom cloud" imminent threat that Bush, Cheney and Blair peddled. Now we even have Pence claiming that Soleimani provided support to the Saudi 9/11 terrorists. Laughable if it wasn't so tragic. But of course at one time the talking point was Saddam orchestrated 9/11 and was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden.

I find it fascinating watching the media spin and how easily so many Americans buy into the spin du jour.

After the Iraq WMD, Gadhaffi threat and Assad the butcher and the incorrigible terrorist loving Taliban posing such imminent threats that we must use our awesome military to bomb, invade, occupy, while spending trillions of dollars borrowed from future generations, and our soldiers on the ground serving multiple tours, and our fellow citizens buy into the latest rationale for killing an Iranian & Iraqi general, without an ounce of skepticism, says a lot!

Yeah, it will be interesting to see how Trump's re-election will go when we are engaged in a full scale military conflagration in the Middle East? It sure will give Tulsi & Bernie an excellent environment to promote their anti-neocon message. You can see it in Trump's ambivalent tweets. On the one hand, I ordered the assassination of Soleimani to prevent a war (like we needed to burn the village to save it), while on the other hand, we have 52 sites locked & loaded if you retaliate. Hmmm!! IMO, he has seriously jeapordized his re-election by falling into the neocon Deep State trap. They never liked him. The coup by law enforcement & CIA & DNI failed. The impeachment is on its last legs. Voila! Incite him into another Middle Eastern quagmire against what he campaigned on and won an election.

I would think that Khamanei has no choice but to retaliate. How is anyone's guess? I doubt he'll order the sinking of a naval vessel patrolling the Gulf or fire missiles into the US base in Qatar. But assassination....especially in some far off location in Europe or South America? A targeted bombing here or there? A cyber attack at a critical point. I mean not indiscriminate acts like the jihadists but highly calculated targets. All seem extremely feasible in our highly vulnerable and relatively open societies. And they have both the experience and skills to accomplish them.

If ever you have the inclination, a speculative post on how the escalation ladder could potentially be climbed would be a fascinating read.

Jack -> blue peacock... , 05 January 2020 at 12:01 AM
"I find it fascinating watching the media spin and how easily so many Americans buy into the spin du jour."

BP,

Yes, indeed. It is a testament to our susceptibility that there is such limited scepticism by so many people on the pronouncements of our government. Especially considering the decades long continuous streams of lies and propaganda. The extent and brazenness of the lies have just gotten worse through my lifetime.

I feel for my grand-children and great-grand children as they now live in society that has no value for honor. It's all expedience in the search for immediate personal gain.

I am and have been in the minority for decades now. I've always opposed our military adventurism overseas from Korea to today. I never bought into the domino theory even at the heights of the Cold War. And I don't buy into the current global hegemony destiny to bring light to the savages. I've also opposed the build up of the national security surveillance state as the antithesis of our founding. I am also opposed to the increasing concentration of market power across every major market segment. It will be the destruction of our entrepreneurial economy. The partisan duopoly is well past it's sell date. But right now the majority are still caught up in rancorous battles on the side of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Something To Think About , 04 January 2020 at 10:19 PM
A question to the committee: what is the source for the claim that Soleimani bears direct responsibility for the death of over 600 US military personnel?

Craig Murray points to this article:
https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/04/04/iran-killed-more-us-troops-in-iraq-than-previously-known-pentagon-says/

If that is the case (and it appears to be) then the US govt's claim is nonsense, as it clearly says " 'During Operation Iraqi Freedom, DoD assessed that at least 603 U.S. personnel deaths in Iraq were the result of Iran-backed militants,' Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an email."

So those figures represent casualties suffered during the US-led military invasion of Iraq i.e. casualties suffered during a shooting-war.

If Soleimani is a legitimate target for assassination because of the success of his forces on the battlefield then wouldn't that make Tommy Franks an equally-legitimate target?

Jack , 04 January 2020 at 10:33 PM
Pulitzer Prize winning author of Caliphate, Romanian-American, Rukmini Callimachi, on the intelligence on Soleimani "imminent threat" being razor-thin.

https://twitter.com/rcallimachi/status/1213421769777909761?s=21

PavewayIV said in reply to Jack... , 04 January 2020 at 11:01 PM
You just beat me to her thread, Jack. For the Twitter shy, this is the first of a series of 17 tweets as a teaser:
1. I've had a chance to check in with sources, including two US officials who had intelligence briefings after the strike on Suleimani. Here is what I've learned. According to them, the evidence suggesting there was to be an imminent attack on American targets is "razor thin".

Summary: [Too shameful to type]

Roy G , 04 January 2020 at 11:59 PM
IMO, Craig Murray is pointing in the right direction around the word 'immanent,' by pointing out that it is referring to the legally dubious Bethlehem Doctrine of Self Defense, the Israeli, UK and US standard for assassination, in which immanent is defined as widely as, 'we think they were thinking about it.' The USG managed to run afoul of even these overly permissive guidelines, which are meant only against non-state actors.

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/01/lies-the-bethlehem-doctrine-and-the-illegal-murder-of-soleimani/

[Jan 06, 2020] Diplomacy Trump-style. Al Capone probably would be allow himself to fall that low

Highly recommended!
Jan 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Fec , Jan 5 2020 15:23 utc | 3

"We have learned today from #Iraq Prime Minister AdilAbdl Mahdi how @realDonaldTrump uses diplomacy:
#US asked #Iraq to mediate with #Iran. Iraq PM asks #QassemSoleimani to come and talk to him and give him the answer of his mediation, Trump &co assassinate an envoy at the airport."

https://twitter.com/ejmalrai/status/1213833855754485762

[Jan 05, 2020] The USA is now at war, de-facto and de-jure, with BOTH Iraq and Iran (UPDATED 6X) The Vineyard of the Saker

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason ..."
"... Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said the parliamentary resolution to end foreign troop presence in the country did not go far enough, calling on local and foreign militia groups to unite . I also have confirmation that the Mehdi Army is being re-mobilized . ..."
"... The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation! ..."
Jan 05, 2020 | thesaker.is
The blowback has begun

First, let’s begin by a quick summary of what has taken place (note: this info is still coming in, so there might be corrections once the official sources make their official statements).

  1. Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdl Mahdi has now officially revealed that the US had asked him to mediate between the US and Iran and that General Qassem Soleimani to come and talk to him and give him the answer to his mediation efforts. Thus, Soleimani was on an OFFICIAL DIPLOMATIC MISSION as part of a diplomatic initiative INITIATED BY THE USA .
  2. The Iraqi Parliament has now voted on a resolution requiring the government to press Washington and its allies to withdraw their troops from Iraq.
  3. Iraq’s caretaker PM Adil Abdul Mahdi said the American side notified the Iraqi military about the planned airstrike minutes before it was carried out. He stressed that his government denied Washington permission to continue with the operation.
  4. The Iraqi Parliament has also demanded that the Iraqi government must “ work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason
  5. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said that Baghdad had turned to the UN Security Council with complaints about US violations of its sovereignty .
  6. Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said the parliamentary resolution to end foreign troop presence in the country did not go far enough, calling on local and foreign militia groups to unite . I also have confirmation that the Mehdi Army is being re-mobilized .
  7. The Pentagon brass is now laying the responsibility for this monumental disaster on Trump (see here ). The are now slowly waking up to this immense clusterbleep and don’t want to be held responsible for what is coming next.
  8. For the first time in the history of Iran, a Red Flag was hoisted over the Holy Dome Of Jamkaran Mosque , Iran. This indicates that the blood of martyrs has been spilled and that a major battle will now happen . The text in the flag say s “ Oh Hussein we ask for your help ” (u nofficial translation 1) or “ Rise up and avenge al-Husayn ” (unofficial translation 2)
  9. The US has announced the deployment of 3’000 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne to Kuwait .
  10. Finally, the Idiot-in-Chief tweeted the following message , probably to try to reassure his freaked out supporters: “ The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation! “. Apparently, he still thinks that criminally overspending for 2nd rate military hardware is going to yield victory…
Analysis

Well, my first though when reading these bullet points is that General Qasem Soleimani has already struck out at Uncle Shmuel from beyond his grave . What we see here is an immense political disaster unfolding like a slow motion train wreck. Make no mistake, this is not just a tactical "oopsie", but a major STRATEGIC disaster . Why?

For one thing, the US will now become an official and totally illegal military presence in Iraq. This means that whatever SOFA (Status Of Forces Agreement) the US and Iraq had until now is void.

Second, the US now has two options:

Fight and sink deep into a catastrophic quagmire or Withdraw from Iraq and lose any possibility to keep forces in Syria

Both of these are very bad because whatever option Uncle Shmuel chooses, he will lost whatever tiny level of credibility he has left, even amongst his putative "allies" (like the KSA which will now be left nose to nose with a much more powerful Iran than ever before).

The main problem with the current (and very provisional) outcome is that both the Israel Lobby and the Oil Lobby will now be absolutely outraged and will demand that the US try to use military power to regime change both Iraq and Iran.

Needless to say, that ain't happening (only ignorant and incurable flag-wavers believe the silly claptrap about the US armed forces being "THE BEST").

Furthermore, it is clear that by it's latest terrorist action the USA has now declared war on BOTH Iraq and Iran.

This is so important that I need to repeat it again:

The USA is now at war, de-facto and de-jure , with BOTH Iraq and Iran.

I hasten to add that the US is also at war with most of the Muslim world (and most definitely all Shias, including Hezbollah and the Yemeni Houthis).

Next, I want to mention the increase in US troop numbers in the Middle-East. An additional 3'000 soldiers from the 82nd AB is what would be needed to support evacuations and to provide a reserve force for the Marines already sent in. This is NOWHERE NEAR the kind of troop numbers the US would need to fight a war with either Iraq or Iran.

Finally, there are some who think that the US will try to invade Iran. Well, with a commander in chief as narcissistically delusional as Trump, I would never say "never" but, frankly, I don't think that anybody at the Pentagon would be willing to obey such an order. So no, a ground invasion is not in the cards and, if it ever becomes an realistic option we would first see a massive increase in the US troop levels, we are talking several tens of thousands, if not more (depending on the actual plan).

No, what the US will do if/when they attack Iran is what Israel did to Lebanon in 2006, but at a much larger scale. They will begin by a huge number of airstrikes (missiles and aircraft) to hit:

Iranian air defenses Iranian command posts and Iranian civilian and military leaders Symbolic targets (like nuclear installations and high visibility units like the IRGC) Iranian navy and coastal defenses Crucial civilian infrastructure (power plants, bridges, hospitals, radio/TV stations, food storage, pharmaceutical installations, schools, historical monuments and, let's not forget that one, foreign embassies of countries who support Iran). The way this will be justified will be the same as what was done to Serbia: a "destruction of critical regime infrastructure" (what else is new?!)

Then, within about 24-48 hours the US President will go on air an announce to the world that it is "mission accomplished" and that "THE BEST" military forces in the galaxy have taught a lesson to the "Mollahs". There will be dances in the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (right until the moment the Iranian missiles will start dropping from the sky. At which point the dances will be replaced by screams about a "2nd Hitler" and the "Holocaust").

Then all hell will break loose (I have discussed that so often in the past that I won't go into details here).

In conclusion, I want to mention something more personal about the people of the US.

Roughly speaking, there are two main groups which I observed during my many years of life in the USA.

Group one : is the TV-watching imbeciles who think that the talking heads on the idiot box actually share real knowledge and expertise. As a result, their thinking goes along the following lines: " yeah, yeah, say what you want, but if the mollahs make a wrong move, we will simply nuke them; a few neutron bombs will take care of these sand niggers ". And if asked about the ethics of this stance, the usual answer is a " f**k them! they messed with the wrong guys, now they will get their asses kicked ".

Group two : is a much quieter group. It includes both people who see themselves as liberals and conservatives. They are totally horrified and they feel a silent rage against the US political elites. Friends, there are A LOT of US Americans out there who are truly horrified by what is done in their name and who feel absolutely powerless to do anything about it. I don't know about the young soldiers who are now being sent to the Middle-East, but I know a lot of former servicemen who know the truth about war and about THE BEST military in the history of the galaxy and they are also absolutely horrified.

I can't say which group is bigger, but my gut feeling is that Group Two is much bigger than Group One. I might be wrong.

I am now signing off but I will try to update you here as soon as any important info comes in.

The Saker

UPDATE1 : according to the Russian website Colonel Cassad , Moqtada al-Sadr has officially made the following demands to the Iraqi government:

Immediately break the cooperation agreement with the United States. Close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Close all U.S. military bases in Iraq. Criminalize any cooperation with the United States. To ensure the protection of Iraqi embassies. Officially boycott American products.

Cassad (aka Boris Rozhin) also posted this excellent caricature:

UPDATE2: RT is reporting that " One US service member, two contractors killed in Al-Shabaab attack in Kenya, two DoD personnel injured ". Which just goes to prove my point that spontaneous attacks are what we will be seeing first and that the retaliation promised by Iran will only come later.

UPDATE3 : al-Manar reports that two rockets have landed near the US embassy in Baghdad.

UPDATE4 : Zerohedge is reporting that Iranian state TV broadcasted an appeal made during the funeral procession in which a speaker said that each Iranian ought to send one dollar per person (total 80'000'000 dollars) as a bounty for the killing of Donald Trump. I am trying to get a confirmation from Iran about this.

UPDATE5 : Russian sources claim that all Iranian rocket forces have been put on combat alert.

UPDATE6 : the Russian heavy rocket cruiser "Marshal Ustinov" has cross the Bosphorus and has entered the Mediterranean.

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63 Comments

Anonymous on January 05, 2020 , · at 2:39 pm EST/EDT

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdl Mahdi has now officially revealed that the US had asked him to mediate between the US and Iran and that General Qassem Soleimani to come and talk to him and give him the answer to his mediation efforts. Thus, Soleimani was on an OFFICIAL DIPLOMATIC MISSION as part of a diplomatic initiative INITIATED BY THE USA.

If this is true, it makes America's murder of General Soleimani even more outrageous. This would be like the USA sending an American regime official to some other country for a negotiation only to have him/her drone striked in the process!

America reveals its malign character as even more sick that even its opponents have thought possible.

Perhaps, Iran should request that Mike Pompeo come to Baghdad for a negotiation about General Soleimani 's murder and then "bug splat" Pompeo's fat ass from a drone!

Anonymous on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:08 pm EST/EDT
"For one thing, the US will now become an official and totally illegal military presence in Iraq. This means that whatever SOFA (Status Of Forces Agreement) the US and Iraq had until now is void."

-I actually read somewhere that the Iraqi government is just a caretaker government and even thought it voted to remove foreign forces, it is not actually legally binding.

Anyone that can conform or deny?

Lysander on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:18 pm EST/EDT
I'm no lawyer. I don't see why that would matter. If a caretaker government is presented with a crisis, why would it not have the authority to act?

That said, It could be the line the US government chooses to use to insist its presence is still legal. If course the MSM will repeat and repeat and make it seem real.

Serbian girl on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:42 pm EST/EDT
Not the entire government. Only the PM Mahdi as far as I understand. He resigned after some protests. The parliament approved his resignation on Dec 2019. He is the caretaker until they appoint another PM.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/29/iraq-pm-resign-protests-abdul-mahdi-al-sistani
Pamela on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:59 pm EST/EDT
Couldn't agree more. When I read that my jaw dropped and I'm sure my eyes went huge. I just couldn't believe they could be that stupid, or that immoral, that sunk in utter utter depravity. They truly are those who have not one shred of decency, and thus have no way of recognising or understanding what decency is. Pure psychopath – an inability to grasp the emotions, values, and world view of those who are normal. This truly is beyond the pale, and this above everything else will ensure the revenge the heartbroken people of Iran are seeking. May God bless them.
Mark on January 05, 2020 , · at 2:45 pm EST/EDT
Well, this is going to be interesting for sure. I for one cannot see any way out for the Yankees, so I expect them to do their usual doubling down .

Assassinate some more people, airstrikes etc.

Hans on January 05, 2020 , · at 2:51 pm EST/EDT
The US Armed Forces do not need to be 'THE BEST". All they need is mountains of second rate ordinance to re-bury Iraq bury Iran under rubble. They can then keep their forces in tightly fortified compounds and bomb the c**p out of any one who wants to 'steal their oil', or any one who wants to 'steal the land promised by God to the Chosen People'. The U.S. has always previously been limited in their avarice for destruction by their desire to be viewed as the 'good guy'. This limitation has now been stripped away. There is now nothing to stop the AngloZionist entity except naked force in return.

As the Saker says, 'all hell will break loose '.

Anonymous on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:09 pm EST/EDT
"realistic option we would first see a massive increase in the US troop levels, we are talking several tens of thousands, if not more (depending on the actual plan)."

-There is an interesting article on colonal cassad about this, USA actually has around 100k troops in ME spread out over various bases.
https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5543349.html

Yes, but these are not part of a single force, many of these are more a target than a threat. Besides, they need to be concentrated into a a few single forces to actually participate in an invasion.
The Saker

Anonymouse on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:15 pm EST/EDT
To understand troop size and relevance think along these lines. For every US front line soldier there will be 5 others in support roles, logistics etc. So for every front line fighting Marine there will be 5 others who got him there and who support him in his work. 10,000 front line fighting troops means 50,000 troops shipping out to the borders of Iran. I think perhaps you would need 100,000 US front line troops for an invasion AND occupation (because we all know if they g