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Gangster Capitalism

 Financial oligarchy is instrumental in unleashing wars and the globalization of organized crime

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The Great Transformation Neoliberalism as secular religion, "idolatry of money" The Iron Law of Oligarchy Senator Bob Menendez Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Globalization of Financial Flows Globalization of Corporatism
Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Neoliberalism and the crash on Boeing 737 MAX Techno-fundamentalism Neoliberalism Bookshelf Greenspan humor Etc

"The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist" 

Thomas Friedman 

Free market is possible only under strict government regulation. Without government regulation free market quickly deteriorates into the law of jungles. Such a paradox ;-)

And if financial oligarchy gets to power as they got via coup d'état in the USA in late 7th, it is only a matter of time before the society collapses. They are very destructive to the society at large. Probably more so then organized crime. But wait. They actually can be viewed as special type of organized prime as is "The best way to rob the bank is to own it".

If you think that Yeltsin privatization (see  Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia) and rise of organized crime in Russia are two distinct phenomenon, think again. Neoliberalism which declare profit as single and only moral value is in reality deeply interconnected with organized crime both in methods and personalities.  This is not very noticed in the USA, but quite so in, say, Ukraine.

It's not accidental that Forbes magazine recently placed two Mexicans, Carlos Slim and Joaquín Guzmán, high on their list of the most powerful people in the world. Carlos Slim is the world’s third-richest man and CEO of a telecommunications company and Joaquín Guzmán is the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

US Big Banks Are A Culture of Crime!

TheTradingReport

Organized crime. This phrase is now a precise synonym for big-banking in the United States. These Big Banks commit big crimes; they commit small crimes. They cheat their own clients; they swindle outsiders. They break virtually every financial law on the books. What do all these crimes have in common? The Big Banks commit all these crimes again and again and again – with utter impunity.

These fraud factories commit their serial mega-crimes, year after year, because the Big Banks know that they will never, ever be punished. On rare occasions, their crimes have been so egregious that U.S. ‘justice’ officials could no longer pretend to be oblivious to them. In such cases, there was a token prosecution, there was a settlement where the law-breaking banks didn’t even have to acknowledge their own criminality, and there was a microscopic fine – which didn’t even force the felonious financial institutions to disgorge all of their profits from these crimes.

Criminal sanctions, by definition, are supposed to deter criminal conduct. The token prosecutions against U.S. Big Banks didn’t deter Big Bank crime, they encouraged it. But even these wrist-slaps were becoming embarrassing for this crime syndicate, so they dealt with this problem. The Big Bank crime syndicate told its lackeys in the U.S. ‘justice’ department that they were not allowed to prosecute one of its tentacles, ever again.

The lackeys, as always, obeyed their Masters, and issued a new proclamation. The U.S. ‘Justice’ Department would never prosecute a U.S. Big Bank ever again – no matter what crimes it committed, no matter how large the crimes, no matter how many times the same Big Banks committed the same crimes. Complete, legal immunity; totally above the law. A literal culture of crime.

What happens when you create a culture of crime in (big) banking? Not only the banks break laws – with impunity – their bank employees do so as well. Case in point: Warren Buffett’s favorite Big Bank – Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo employees came up with a good idea for boosting their salaries: stealing money directly out of the accounts of the bank’s clients.

Consider how large this crime became, in just one of these tentacles of organized crime.

L.A City Attorney Mike Feuer announced a $185 million settlement reached with Wells Fargo, after thousands of bank employees siphoned funds from their customers to open phony checking and savings accounts raking in millions in fraudulent fees.[emphasis mine]

Thousands of bank employees stealing millions of dollars from bank customers, in tiny, little increments, again and again and again. But the story gets much worse. Why was a lowly city attorney involved with the prosecution of this organized crime?

So where is the FBI? Where is the Department of Justice? How about California Attorney General Kamala Harris? Too busy campaigning for the Senate to notice? How about L.A. District Attorney Jackie Larry?

Only City Attorney Mike Feuer took action, and he only has the authority to prosecute misdemeanors…

There are only two ways in which the non-action of the U.S. pseudo-justice system can be explained:

  1. All of the layers of “justice” above the City Attorney, are completely bought-off, and refuse to prosecute one of the corporate fronts of their (real) Masters.
  2. All of the layers of “justice” above the City Attorney considered this systemic crime by Wells Fargo’s employees to be nothing more than a misdemeanour.

Take your pick. The U.S. pseudo-justice system is used to seeing so many multi-billion dollar mega-crimes being committed by these fraud factories that the systemic crime at Wells Fargo (which was ‘only’ in the $millions) didn’t even attract their attention. Or, the entire U.S. pseudo-justice system is completely bought-off and corrupt – and they refuse to prosecute Big Bank organized crime.

A culture of crime.

It gets still worse. Thousands of Wells Fargo employees stole millions of dollars, from countless clients. They were caught. But not even one banker was sent to jail. In a real justice system, systemic crime of this nature would/could only be prosecuted in one of three ways. Either every Wells Fargo criminal would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law (given the egregious nature of the crime), or Wells Fargo management would be prosecuted – because they would have/should have known about this crime-wave. Or else both.

Bankers stealing money, directly and brazenly, right out of customer accounts, but no one goes to jail? A culture of crime.

Understand that endemic, cultural changes of this nature don’t originate at the bottom of the corporate ladder. They originate at the top. In the case of the Wall Street crime syndicate; we already know that their management personnel are criminals, because they haveadmitted to being criminals.

Many Wall Street executives says [sic] wrongdoing is necessary: survey

If the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes were to go out with his lantern in search of an honest man today, a survey of Wall Street executives on workplace conduct suggests he might have to look elsewhere.

A quarter of Wall Street executives see wrongdoing as a key to success, according to a survey by whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow released on Tuesday.

In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK [New York and London], 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful… [emphasis mine]

One-quarter of Big Bank management admitted that they “need” to commit crimes. A culture of crime. More needs to be said about the rampant, disgusting criminality among upper management in the Big Banks of the U.S. (and UK).

A known whistleblower was conducting a public survey, asking known criminals how many of them were engaging in criminal behavior. What percentage of respondents would lie when answering such a survey? Three-quarters sounds about right. One-quarter of Wall Street executives admitted that committing crimes was a way of life. The other three-quarters lied about their criminal acts.

Monkey see; monkey do. The lower level foot soldiers see their Bosses breaking laws, with impunity, on a daily basis. Their reaction, at Wells Fargo? “Me too.”

Most if not all of the Wall Street fraud factories conduct detailed “personality testing” on their bank personnel. Are they looking to weed-out those with criminal (if not psychopathic) inclinations? Of course not. They conduct this personality testing to find which employees have no reservations about engaging in criminal conduct – so they can be fast-tracked for promotion.

There is no other way in which the systemic criminality of senior banking personnel can be reconciled with the detailed personality-testing in which they participated, in order to reach that level of management. The Wall Street fraud factories look for the most amoral criminals which they can find. And with the exorbitant, ludicrous “compensation” they award to these criminals for their systemic crimes, they end up with (literally) the best criminals that money can buy.

A culture of crime.

As a final note; the U.S. system of pretend-justice already has a powerful weapon in its arsenal to fight organized crime: the “RICO” act. This anti-racketeering statute was created for one, precise purpose: to not merely prosecute/punish organized crime, but to literallydismantle the crime infrastructure which supports the organized crime.

Not only does the statute confer strong (almost limitless) powers in gathering evidence of organized crime, it also permits mass seizures of assets – anything/everything connected to the organized crime of the entity(ies) in question. In the case of the Big Bank crime syndicate, where all of its operations are directly/indirectly tied into criminal operations of one form or another, if RICO was turned loose on these fraud factories, by the time the dust had settled there would be nothing left.

Oh yes. If the U.S. ‘Justice’ Department ever went “RICO” on U.S. Big Banks, lots and lots and lots of bankers would go to prison, for a very, long time.

Gangster Capitalism: The United States and the Globalization of Organized Crime

The first researcher who explored this uncanny relationship between that two and strong links between the neoliberal system of governance and organized crime was Michael Woodiwiss with his influential book Gangster Capitalism: The United States and the Globalization of Organized Crime (Paperback):

Everyone knows what organized crime is. Each year dozens of feature films, hundreds of books, and thousands of news stories explain to an eager public that organized crime is what gangsters do. Closely knit, ethnically distinct, and ruthlessly efficient, these mafias control the drugs trade, people trafficking and other serious crimes. If only states would take the threat seriously and recognize the global nature of modern organized crime, the FBI's success against the Italian mafia could be replicated throughout the world. The wicked trade in addictive drugs could be brought to a halt.

The trouble is, as Woodiwiss demonstrates in shocking and surprising detail, what everyone knows about organized crime is pretty much completely wrong. In reality the most important figures in organized crime are employees of multinational companies, politicians and bureaucrats. Gangsters are certainly a problem, but much of their strength comes from attempts to prohibit the market for certain drugs.

Even here they are minor players when compared with the intelligence and law enforcement agencies that selectively enforce prohibition and profit from it. Woodiwiss shows how respectable businessmen and revered statesmen have seized these opportunities in an orgy of fraud and illegal violence...

A very timely book, November 16, 2008 Joseph Oppenheim (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews

What makes "Gangster Capitalism" so worthwhile is that it helps in understanding what has led us to the 2007-8 financial meltdown. As the book shows, like during the 1920's, deregulation led the way for powerful companies to allow the very wealthy to get wealthier at the expense of average people by using poor working conditions, low wages, etc, plus at the same time supporting supposedly moral movements (against gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc) which mainly served the purpose of making these trades more profitable to crooks and therefore created rampant gangsterism there. The result was such a society wracked with gangsterism at all levels, but because most people felt they were prospering, few complained.

But, then it all collapsed with the 1929 crash and resulting Depression, which led the way for FDR and the New Deal programs which increased regulation of corporations, repeal of Prohibition, etc. Though the Depression lingered until WWII, the New Deal was successful in restructuring our laws and public infrastructure to create a better footing for the prosperity which would follow.

The book effectively traces how much of this regulation was reduced piece by piece, beginning in earnest with Nixon, using Cold War fears to tilt the nation toward more corporate power and away from reform, support of right-wing dictators around the world, re-energizing a 'moral crusade' especially by beginning the War on Drugs, thereby making the illegal drug trade super profitable, etc.

The nation had shifted Right and even Democratic presidents like Carter who was instrumental in deregulating industry and Clinton who signed into law the repeal of Glass--Steagle weren't able to stop the shift. Then, the 'Gangster Capitalism" went on steroids with G. W. Bush. By 2003, corporate taxes only amounted to 7% of revenues, while payroll taxes amounted to 40%.

Of note, the book makes clear it is opportunity which leads to much crime, so the approach of massive deregulation of corporations, plus focusing on arrests and imprisonment for victimless crimes ends up with the wrong results, more entrenched crime, even allowing corporations to capitalize on a prison industry.

The book is also good at highlighting how corporations and outright gangsters were able to corrupt legal drugs (price-fixing), tobacco, asbestos, body parts, autos (Pintos), etc. Some other things in the book, of note: Hamid Karzai included drug traffickers in his Afghan administration.

And, our support of Suharto (Indonesia), Mobuto (the Congo), and Marcos (the Philippines) allowed 'looting' of these countries.

A corrupt financial infrastructure included the BCCI bank and offshore banking to evade taxes also developed. Plus, laundering money from illegal arms sales, drugs, and so many other illegal activities passed through our financial system.

The book is definitely tilted toward a liberal way of looking at things, therefore it doesn't go into the good things about capitalism, but there are disturbing patterns which are important to understand, and this book does that very well.

Wasted opportunity, September 6, 2006

By James R. Maclean (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Despite the fact that I was predisposed to agree with many of the author's views, this book was a huge disappointment. First, the basic premises:
  1. American business enterprise is singularly corrupt;
  2. Most of the crime that Americans suffer from is corporate crime;
  3. American methods of fighting crime focus on lurid fantasies of underworld conspiracy;
  4. The USA exports criminality through its foreign & trade policies.

Each of these premises could have been, and in other venues have been, well-argued. The first three suffer from a lack of generally accepted, objective measures, but experts on criminology have overcome worse obstacles. What we get instead is an unfocused, rambling listing of claims (plausible, but very poorly documented) about the criminal underworld, anecdotes about corporate crime, and extreme statements. No doubt "legitimate" business enterprise does rip off more money from customers each year than do gangsters or mafiosi; but the latter also account for a tiny fraction of the total US labor force. And comparing deaths from industrial accidents to mob hits is just over the top.

Woodiwiss says that the book "had its inception during a seminar series on transnational organized crime run by Adam Edwards and Peter Gill... Adam and Peter put together several of the best academic researchers from Europe and North America...." Yet the book is exasperatingly badly substantiated. I noticed almost no original research. Woodiwiss's footnotes, which--like cops--are never around when you need them (viz., when he is actually saying something that requires documentation), are almost exclusively from articles in the *Guardian* or from other sensational exposes. Radical literature has its place, of course, but saying, "US capitalism is just like organized crime... see, it says so in 'The New Left Review'" is just a harangue, not evidence.

The back cover declaims: "..[T]he position of large multinational corporations...actually provide the most enticing opportunities for illegal profit...Gangster Capitalism shows how respectable businessmen and revered statesmen have seized these opportunities in an orgy of fraud and illegal violence that would leave the most hardened mafiosi speechless."

In fact, it's a disappointing pile of clippings. With the exception of his claims--again, plausible but unsubstantiated--you are not going to find any surprises here.

As I mentioned, he attacks conventional wisdom regarding the mafia and J. Edgar Hoover (who comes off surprisingly well); unfortunately, Woodiwiss offers almost no support for those contentions that are likely to be controversial. For example, on p.78 he mentions President [Nixon]'s Advisory Council on Executive Organization, "Organized Crime Strike Force Report" [1969], which included a vaguely worded remark that the reliance on legal sanctions to fight drug abuse was actually causing organized crime to flourish." This is footnoted. Then he says that Nixon was so horrified by this that he ruthlessly suppressed the report. This is not footnoted. The next pargagraph (p.49) includes a quote from a law enforcement officer claiming that gambling arrests were made just to pad the arrest numbers; this is footnoted. The next paragraph declares that gambling is no more corrupt than the rest of the economy. A surprising observation, it is predictably not footnoted.

The result: lots of footnotes documenting that water is a bit on the damp side, but nothing to support the controversial stuff. Only a small part is devoted to crime; the rest is a paste-up job from two dozen radical critiques of the USA. Anything from the 1971 ditching of the gold exchange standard to the various covert activities of the CIA are brought up, with no more compelling a connection to Woodiwiss' original point than being bad things that Americans did.

< are so insipid (it calls for "fair trade" with no further specification of how that would be any different... capital punishment for corporations--evidently Mr. Woodiwiss has never heard of 'money laundering,' in which a vehicle corporation commits suicide), that it is pointless to spend any time on them. Woodiwiss needs to actually learn something about economics; ironically enough, for someone who claims business is closely tied to crime, he knows almost nothing about it. He needs to know, and say what he knows, about law enforcement and business practices abroad, so he can make a comparison. And finally, he needs to actually learn how to write.


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[May 23, 2020] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
From comments: " neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation."
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
Notable quotes:
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
"... The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt. ..."
"... The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Thousands of people march through London to protest against underfunding and privatisation of the NHS. Photograph: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Images M y life was saved last year by the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, through a skilful procedure to remove a cancer from my body . Now I will need another operation, to remove my jaw from the floor. I've just learned what was happening at the hospital while I was being treated. On the surface, it ran smoothly. Underneath, unknown to me, was fury and tumult. Many of the staff had objected to a decision by the National Health Service to privatise the hospital's cancer scanning . They complained that the scanners the private company was offering were less sensitive than the hospital's own machines. Privatisation, they said, would put patients at risk. In response, as the Guardian revealed last week , NHS England threatened to sue the hospital for libel if its staff continued to criticise the decision.

The dominant system of political thought in this country, which produced both the creeping privatisation of public health services and this astonishing attempt to stifle free speech, promised to save us from dehumanising bureaucracy. By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced.

Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence.

Much of the theory behind these transformations arises from the work of Ludwig von Mises. In his book Bureaucracy , published in 1944, he argued that there could be no accommodation between capitalism and socialism. The creation of the National Health Service in the UK, the New Deal in the US and other experiments in social democracy would lead inexorably to the bureaucratic totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

He recognised that some state bureaucracy was inevitable; there were certain functions that could not be discharged without it. But unless the role of the state is minimised – confined to defence, security, taxation, customs and not much else – workers would be reduced to cogs "in a vast bureaucratic machine", deprived of initiative and free will.

By contrast, those who labour within an "unhampered capitalist system" are "free men", whose liberty is guaranteed by "an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote". He forgot to add that some people, in his capitalist utopia, have more votes than others. And those votes become a source of power.

His ideas, alongside the writings of Friedrich Hayek , Milton Friedman and other neoliberal thinkers, have been applied in this country by Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Theresa May and, to an alarming extent, Tony Blair. All of those have attempted to privatise or marketise public services in the name of freedom and efficiency, but they keep hitting the same snag: democracy. People want essential services to remain public, and they are right to do so.

If you hand public services to private companies, either you create a private monopoly, which can use its dominance to extract wealth and shape the system to serve its own needs – or you introduce competition, creating an incoherent, fragmented service characterised by the institutional failure you can see every day on our railways. We're not idiots, even if we are treated as such. We know what the profit motive does to public services.

So successive governments decided that if they could not privatise our core services outright, they would subject them to "market discipline". Von Mises repeatedly warned against this approach. "No reform could transform a public office into a sort of private enterprise," he cautioned. The value of public administration "cannot be expressed in terms of money". "Government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things."

"Intellectual work cannot be measured and valued by mechanical devices." "You cannot 'measure' a doctor according to the time he employs in examining one case." They ignored his warnings.

Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control.

Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself.

Its perversities afflict all public services. Schools teach to the test , depriving children of a rounded and useful education. Hospitals manipulate waiting times, shuffling patients from one list to another. Police forces ignore some crimes, reclassify others, and persuade suspects to admit to extra offences to improve their statistics . Universities urge their researchers to write quick and superficial papers , instead of deep monographs, to maximise their scores under the research excellence framework.

As a result, public services become highly inefficient for an obvious reason: the destruction of staff morale. Skilled people, including surgeons whose training costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, resign or retire early because of the stress and misery the system causes. The leakage of talent is a far greater waste than any inefficiencies this quantomania claims to address.

New extremes in the surveillance and control of workers are not, of course, confined to the public sector. Amazon has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements and detect the slightest deviation from protocol. Technologies are used to monitor peoples' keystrokes, language, moods and tone of voice. Some companies have begun to experiment with the micro-chipping of their staff . As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han points out , neoliberal work practices, epitomised by the gig economy, that reclassifies workers as independent contractors, internalise exploitation. "Everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise."

The freedom we were promised turns out to be freedom for capital , gained at the expense of human liberty. The system neoliberalism has created is a bureaucracy that tends towards absolutism, produced in the public services by managers mimicking corporate executives, imposing inappropriate and self-defeating efficiency measures, and in the private sector by subjection to faceless technologies that can brook no argument or complaint.

Attempts to resist are met by ever more extreme methods, such as the threatened lawsuit at the Churchill Hospital. Such instruments of control crush autonomy and creativity. It is true that the Soviet bureaucracy von Mises rightly denounced reduced its workers to subjugated drones. But the system his disciples have created is heading the same way.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist


Pinkie123 , 12 Apr 2019 03:23

The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. If 'free markets' of enterprising individuals have been tested to destruction, then capitalism is unable to articulate an ideology with which to legitimise itself.

Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt.

The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood.

A corporate state emerges, free of the regulatory fetters of democracy. The final restriction on the market - democracy itself - is removed. There then is no separate market and state, just a totalitarian market state.

glisson , 12 Apr 2019 00:10
This is the best piece of writing on neoliberalism I have ever seen. Look, 'what is in general good and probably most importantly what is in the future good'. Why are we collectively not viewing everything that way? Surely those thoughts should drive us all?
economicalternative -> Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 21:33
Pinkie123: So good to read your understandings of neoliberalism. The political project is the imposition of the all seeing all knowing 'market' on all aspects of human life. This version of the market is an 'information processor'. Speaking of the different idea of the laissez-faire version of market/non market areas and the function of the night watchman state are you aware there are different neoliberalisms? The EU for example runs on the version called 'ordoliberalism'. I understand that this still sees some areas of society as separate from 'the market'?
economicalternative -> ADamnSmith2016 , 11 Apr 2019 21:01
ADamnSmith: Philip Mirowski has discussed this 'under the radar' aspect of neoliberalism. How to impose 'the market' on human affairs - best not to be to explicit about what you are doing. Only recently has some knowledge about the actual neoliberal project been appearing. Most people think of neoliberalism as 'making the rich richer' - just a ramped up version of capitalism. That's how the left has thought of it and they have been ineffective in stopping its implementation.
economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42
Finally. A writer who can talk about neoliberalism as NOT being a retro version of classical laissez faire liberalism. It is about imposing "The Market" as the sole arbiter of Truth on us all.
Only the 'Market' knows what is true in life - no need for 'democracy' or 'education'. Neoliberals believe - unlike classical liberals with their view of people as rational individuals acting in their own self-interest - people are inherently 'unreliable', stupid. Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything. To succeed we all need to take our cues in life from what the market tells us. Neoliberalism is not about a 'small state'. The state is repurposed to impose the 'all knowing' market on everyone and everything. That is neoliberalism's political project. It is ultimately not about 'economics'.
Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 13:27
The left have been entirely wrong to believe that neoliberalism is a mobilisation of anarchic, 'free' markets. It never was so. Only a few more acute thinkers on the left (Jacques Ranciere, Foucault, Deleuze and, more recently, Mark Fisher, Wendy Brown, Will Davies and David Graeber) have understood neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation.


Only in theory is neoliberalism a form of laissez-faire. Neoliberalism is not a case of the state saying, as it were: 'OK everyone, we'll impose some very broad legal parameters, so we'll make sure the police will turn up if someone breaks into your house; but otherwise we'll hang back and let you do what you want'. Hayek is perfectly clear that a strong state is required to force people to act according to market logic. If left to their own devices, they might collectivise, think up dangerous utopian ideologies, and the next thing you know there would be socialism. This the paradox of neoliberalism as an intellectual critique of government: a socialist state can only be prohibited with an equally strong state. That is, neoliberals are not opposed to a state as such, but to a specifically centrally-planned state based on principles of social justice - a state which, to Hayek's mind, could only end in t totalitarianism. Because concepts of social justice are expressed in language, neoliberals are suspicious of linguistic concepts, regarding them as politically dangerous. Their preference has always been for numbers. Hence, market bureaucracy aims for the quantification of all values - translating the entirety of social reality into metrics, data, objectively measurable price signals. Numbers are safe. The laws of numbers never change. Numbers do not lead to revolutions. Hence, all the audit, performance review and tick-boxing that has been enforced into public institutions serves to render them forever subservient to numerical (market) logic. However, because social institutions are not measurable, attempts to make them so become increasingly mystical and absurd. Administrators manage data that has no relation to reality. Quantitatively unmeasurable things - like happiness or success - are measured, with absurd results.

It should be understood (and I speak above all as a critic of neoliberalism) that neoliberal ideology is not merely a system of class power, but an entire metaphysic, a way of understanding the world that has an emotional hold over people. For any ideology to universalize itself, it must be based on some very powerful ideas. Hayek and Von Mises were Jewish fugitives of Nazism, living through the worst horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism. There are passages of Hayek's that describe a world operating according to the rules of a benign abstract system that make it sound rather lovely. To understand neoliberalism, we must see that it has an appeal.

However, there is no perfect order of price signals. People do not simply act according to economic self-interest. Therefore, neoliberalism is a utopian political project like any other, requiring the brute power of the state to enforce ideological tenets. With tragic irony, the neoliberal order eventually becomes not dissimilar to the totalitarian regimes that Hayek railed against.

manolito22 -> MrJoe , 11 Apr 2019 08:14
Nationalised rail in the UK was under-funded and 'set up to fail' in its latter phase to make privatisation seem like an attractive prospect. I have travelled by train under both nationalisation and privatisation and the latter has been an unmitigated disaster in my experience. Under privatisation, public services are run for the benefit of shareholders and CEO's, rather than customers and citizens and under the opaque shroud of undemocratic 'commercial confidentiality'.
Galluses , 11 Apr 2019 07:26
What has been very noticeable about the development of bureaucracy in the public and private spheres over the last 40 years (since Thatcher govt of 79) has been the way systems are designed now to place responsibility and culpability on the workers delivering the services - Teachers, Nurses, social workers, etc. While those making the policies, passing the laws, overseeing the regulations- viz. the people 'at the top', now no longer take the rap when something goes wrong- they may be the Captain of their particular ship, but the responsibility now rests with the man sweeping the decks. Instead they are covered by tying up in knots those teachers etc. having to fill in endless check lists and reports, which have as much use as clicking 'yes' one has understood those long legal terms provided by software companies.... yet are legally binding. So how the hell do we get out of this mess? By us as individuals uniting through unions or whatever and saying NO. No to your dumb educational directives, No to your cruel welfare policies, No to your stupid NHS mismanagement.... there would be a lot of No's but eventually we could say collectively 'Yes I did the right thing'.
fairshares -> rjb04tony , 11 Apr 2019 07:17
'The left wing dialogue about neoliberalism used to be that it was the Wild West and that anything goes. Now apparently it's a machine of mass control.'

It is the Wild West and anything goes for the corporate entities, and a machine of control of the masses. Hence the wish of neoliberals to remove legislation that protects workers and consumers.

[Apr 24, 2020] Jewish money, it reported, "has long been known to be ruthless and merciless."

Apr 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Robjil , says: Show Comment April 23, 2020 at 11:24 am GMT

@Anti-White English speaking Euros are the flunkies of the Zionists. They have no real power. Zionists obviously have more power since 1945.

The big 6 sun replaced the real sun of Galileo in 1945.

Any one who disputes the centrality of the big 6 is job less or jailed in most of the world.

China knows this and other Asian nations know this as well.

Samsung had a big run in with Zionist criminals recently who were trying to take it over.

https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/samsung-pulls-allegedly-anti-semitic-cartoons-from-its-website-409143

Pro-Samsung media outlets in South Korea came under fire from Jewish groups after utilizing anti-Semitism to belittle Singer.

"Elliott is led by a Jew, Paul E. Singer, and ISS [an advisory firm that analyzed the merger] is an affiliate of Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), whose key shareholders are Jewish. According to a source in the finance industry, Jews have a robust network demonstrating influence in a number of domains," the South Korean financial publication MoneyToday said last week.

Meanwhile, Mediapen, another local publication, asserted that "Jews are known to wield enormous power on Wall Street and in global financial circles" and that it is a "well-known fact that the US government is swayed by Jewish capital."

Jewish money, it reported, "has long been known to be ruthless and merciless."

[Apr 24, 2020] They can top off the national reserves on the cheap and profit when their war sends prices up again

Apr 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zengine3 , Apr 23 2020 18:03 utc | 30

If ever there was a time, it's now. Oil has bottomed out. They can top off the national reserves on the cheap and profit when their war sends prices up again. Maybe it's why The Orange Goober has ordered the Navy to "shoot down" any Iranian boats that harass/approach/rudely gesture at US ships.

Musburger , Apr 23 2020 18:08 utc | 31

@30

Scott Ritter thinks this is quite possible.
https://www.rt.com/op-ed/486598-trump-iran-war-oil/

Tuyzentfloot , Apr 23 2020 18:23 utc | 36
Ritter's article worries me. There is now a sales argument for war: "don't worry about oil prices going sky high, Iran can't use that weapon against us now!".
LOL , Apr 23 2020 18:38 utc | 38
You over excitable little Iran war-monkeys really should take time out of your busy war-monkey daily-schedules to learn something about the topography of Iran and it's defensive and offensive military capabilities.

It would certainly save everyone else from having to listen to you being wrong yet again.

karlof1 , Apr 23 2020 18:53 utc | 39
dh @34--

You're on the right track. There's a huge supply glut as all forms of storage are mostly filled as proven by the negative WTI pricing. Global demand is still being destroyed. War in the Persian Gulf region will further destroy demand; and since very little oil's being shipped from there, the supply glut won't be used up anytime soon--certainly not quickly enough to see a sharp rebound in oil price. The crucial point is domestic US refineries have cut back their runs as their margins are even thinner than before, plus demand destruction is still occurring, thus the domestic storage glut. The wife and I jested last night if we only had a rail spur we could order up a couple of tank cars full of unleaded at the current very distressed price and be set for a longtime.

As The Saker notes in his latest , Trump must make the voting public look everywhere except at him and Congress, the bellowing at Iran being part of that entire theatre. Yes, a mistake could have very negative consequences for the USN and all US assets in the region as well as Occupied Palestine--the overall underlying dynamic hasn't changed since Trump broke the Iran Nuclear Treaty. Too add further insult to Trump and Pompeo, Iran's doing a much better job at containing COVID-19 than the Outlaw US Empire :

"The US pandemic death toll is this week heading above 50,000 compared with Iran's figure of 5,300. Considering the respective population numbers of 330 and 80 million that suggests Iran is doing a much better job at containing the virus. On a per-capita basis, according to publicly available data, Iran's mortality rate is less than half that of the US.

"This is while the US has sanctioned Iran to the hilt. American sanctions – arguably illegal under international law – have hit Iran's ability to import medical supplies to cope with COVID-19 and other fatal diseases, yet Iran through its own resources is evidently managing the crisis much better than the US."

As with the Tar Baby, the more wrestling the Outlaw US Empire does the weaker it gets.

Zengine3 , Apr 23 2020 18:55 utc | 40
@LOLtroll

They can't invade. That's your own moronic straw-man. And yes, it would further cut supply and prices would go up. The current bottom is due to overproduction but so long as civilization cranks along the oil gets used eventually.

[Apr 10, 2020] The New Normal: Cascading and Multilayered Crises by Vincent Emanuele

Apr 09, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

"The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear."

– Antonio Gramsci

The Pandemic & Public Health Crisis

On January 20th, 2020, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection took place in the United States. Since then, over 240,000 Americans have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, with over 6,000 dying as a result of the pandemic. The New York Times suggests that the actual numbers are likely 6-10 times higher than is being currently reported.

According to studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and those who smoke, are at high-risk of severe illness or death if they contract the virus. Unfortunately, that's a lot of Americans.

Several days ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated that anywhere between 100,000-240,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by the end of August, and that's if "we do everything perfectly," as the good doctor put it. Since no one actually believes that the United States will conduct the response in a "perfect" manner, we can assume those numbers are low.

For the sake of discussion, let's assume they're correct. For some perspective, 116,708 Americans died in World War I (1914-1918). Roughly 416,800 Americans died in World War II (1941-1945). Over 40,000 Americans died in the Korean War (1950-1953). And 70,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War (1965-1975).

Perhaps we throw around large numbers too often, or maybe there's simply no way to humanize 240,000 lives -- regardless, we cannot allow the U.S. government to normalize gross numbers of fatalities, especially as a result of a completely preventable pandemic. Remember, this isn't a 'Natural Disaster' -- this is a 'Man Made Disaster,' and it should be treated as such. Yes, Trump is responsible, but he's not the only one. In fact, individuals aren't the problem. The entire Neoliberal Capitalist project is to blame.

Americans aren't unhealthy because they've made bad choices as individuals. Americans are disproportionately unhealthy (when compared to both industrialized and industrializing nations) and susceptible to the worst effects of COVID-19 because Neoliberal Capitalist policies have created a social, political, economic, and ecological context in which this pandemic can thrive and impose maximum destruction.

Deindustrialization, privatization, and deregulation, has driven down the cost of labor, creating millions of working-poor Americans who live on credit and swim in mounds of debt, while attempting to navigate a social landscape of food deserts, fast food chains, sugar-rich foods, and low-wage service sector work. This context creates a population of addicted, depressed, and desperate workers whose sole pleasure at the end of a long shift is a can of Coke and bag of potato chips.

People don't purposely make themselves obese and unhealthy. When people are put in desperate situations, they make impulsive decisions. That's how people behave in a context of scarcity and oppression. Unfortunately, this is exactly the social context in which COVID-19 could cause extreme and permanent damage.

The Political Crisis

The political context in the U.S. is equally disturbing. Since the 1970s, politicians have drifted further and further into the realm of absurdity and utter corruption. Gone are the days of enlightened debates. Enter the age of Trump, Tweets, and trolling.

As empires decline, so does the quality of their leaders. The U.S. might wish to run away from reality, but Uncle Sam can't run away from history. History has finally caught up with the U.S. Indeed, Donald Trump is the result of forty-plus years of hyper-individuality, 'greed is good' culture, superficial materialism, and a politics based not on substance or principles, but looks, marketability, and adherence to Neoliberal fundamentalist ideologies.

One of the few principled politicians in Washington D.C., Bernie Sanders, was raked over the coals by the corporate press for simply attempting to give Americans a basic social safety-net. That, for the Neoliberals, was too much. CNN and MSNBC unleashed the pundit hounds. The New York Times and Washington Post ran round-the-clock editorials about the "dangers" of Sanders' policies, his supposed "unelectability," and "radical" following, degrading the tens of millions of poor and working class people who largely see Bernie's campaign as their last electoral hope.

Now, Joe Biden is the frontrunner. As a result, virtually everyone I know and work with has checked out of the electoral scene. Most of my friends have already come to the conclusion that Trump will win again in 2020. Hell, his numbers continue to rise even in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in over a 100 years, a pandemic he could've prevented. Frustrating, but not surprising.

Most Americans have checked out of politics. It's not that they don't care. They just don't believe that participating will make a difference. Who could blame them, really? I'm 35 years old. The U.S. government hasn't implemented one major program that's benefitted me since the day I was born. Obamacare? Get real. Every major political institution in this country has rapidly deteriorated over the course of my life.

When I was 16, Bush II, with the help of his brother, stole the White House from Al Gore. No one really did anything about it, even Al Gore. That was 20 years ago. Since then, we've experienced 9/11, the Afghanistan War, the Iraq War, two terms of GWB, the 2008 Recession, Obama's bullshit 'Hope & Change,' which really meant 'More Of The Same,' the Tea Party, nationwide union busting efforts, the explosion of charter schools, Citizens United, corporate consolidation, financial deregulation, increasingly militarized policing, exploding prison populations, privatization of public goods and services, and elections that no one trusts because paper ballots are gone and billionaires own the electoral process. And yes, in 2016, the election of Donald Trump, the perfect ending to a 40 year nightmare.

Let's remember why Trump won in the first place. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton because Democrats stayed home. Bottom line. Democrats stayed home because they were betrayed by Obama, disgusted by Clinton, and upset about the entire 2016 primary process. As many others have pointed out, Trump is a symptom, not the disease. Here, we should be very clear: yes, Trump poses unique challenges and threats, but he is not the primary source of our collective problems. Our collective problems are structural, not individual, in nature.

Right now, the entire electoral-parliamentary process of representative democracy should be in question. Quite obviously, this particular mode of democratic participation has reached its limits. People are flat-out sick and tired of voting for politicians who answer to corporations. People are tired of the Democrat vs. Republican electoral carnival. Who could blame them? I'm tired of it. You're tired of it. We're all tired of it.

This is the toxic legacy of Reaganism, a bankrupt ideology that has destroyed the American political system, civic society, and popular culture. As a result, both major political parties have drifted so far to the right that people can barely tell the difference between the two. The Democratic Party is a walking corpse. And the Republican Party is full-blown batshit crazy. The Green Party doesn't really stand a chance, but I give them credit for trying to develop an alternative, however flawed it may be. After all, the Greens, not the Dems, came up with the 'Green New Deal.'

Large NGOs are moribund and, in many ways, counterproductive, even on their best days. Right now, the left contains no structural articulation of its politics beyond various regional organizations and radical local unions. In reality, most of 'the left' as we know it primarily exists in online forums and alternative media projects. The political situation is dire, no doubt.

The only way out of this mess is through deep organizing at the workplace and within communities. Tactically, this will take the form of massive strikes, street protests, targeted direct actions, and militant non-violent resistance. But people also need a vision and a strategy, and structures and institutions to carry out that vision and strategy. Right now, both are in short order. However, like all moments of immense historical crises, this context provides an opportunity to introduce radical alternatives, and hopefully, change course. If leftwing groups can't use this moment to radicalize and politicize people, shame on us.

The Crisis of Capitalism

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite what you might've heard on corporate news outlets, Global Capitalism was on the ropes. Liberal economists such as Paul Krugman and Dean Baker, but also leftwing economists such as Jack Rasmus, Doug Henwood, and Richard Wolff, among others, have been sounding the alarm bells for some time now. The pandemic ended up being the match that lit a combustible array of socio-economic ingredients, including wide-spread underemployment, entire legions of workers who've dropped out of the labor pool, millions living in poverty, millions more on the verge of poverty, stagnating wages, hundreds of thousands of Americans sleeping on the streets, tens of millions lacking health coverage, and the majority of Americans drowning in ever-growing debt.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the hollowness and brutality of Global Capitalism. The most vulnerable will endure the brunt of this pandemic. They already have. Those who were barely surviving before this crisis will be lucky to survive the crisis. And so it goes.

The multitude of injustices and structural inequalities that existed before the pandemic will be exacerbated during a global health crisis and economic depression. The brutal legacies of colonization, imperialism, and neo-imperialism put the most vulnerable at risk and expose a system that's incapable of providing even the most basic necessities to those most in need. In fact, quite the opposite, as Wall Street receives trillions of dollars for wrecking the global economy, ordinary Americans will have to wait weeks for their measly $1,200 stimulus checks.

Unlike 2008, the free marketeers are nowhere to be found. During the Great Financial Recession, the market fundamentalists wanted the whole system to collapse. The financial press blamed the recession on overpaid auto workers and poor families, especially poor black families, who the corporate pundits insisted "bought homes they couldn't afford." That was the dominant narrative in 2008. The calls for austerity were swift and loud. This time around, not so much.

Today, millions of Americans identify as socialists, and Bernie Sanders' policies, flawed and inadequate as they may be, are supported by the majority of Democrats, many Independents, and even some Republicans. It's true that Bernie's policies aren't 'socialist' in the traditional sense, but they're socialistic in nature, and provide a welcome alternative to Neoliberal barbarism. Thanks to Occupy Wall Street and radical unions, today's context is much different. Americans are much further to the left than they were twelve years ago.

Ralph Nader has long described the U.S. economic system as "socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the rest of us." This is true. As Christian Parenti points out in a recent article in Jacobin , the financialization of the U.S. economy is already largely socialized, using public funds to prop-up private institutions, but with little to no social benefit for poor and working class people. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic shows us that the state is more important than ever before. Indeed, the Federal Government is the only entity powerful enough to reign-in capital. Ironically, as Parenti notes, only socialist policies can revive 21st Century Capitalism.

The state is also the only entity capable of dealing with a pandemic: providing healthcare supplies, financial resources, dealing with supply chain and logistical challenges, directing private sector production, etc. Here, we are witnessing in real-time the fundamental limits of private power and market fundamentalism within the context of a global healthcare crisis. Now is not the time to coddle capitalism -- now is the time to castrate capitalism. Unless the left has a strategy to bypass the state and provide the many services the state provides by alternative means, our approach to the ensuing economic depression must include an analysis of state power, how it relates to capital, and how leftwing organizations and movements relate to both.

Historian Alfred McCoy, in his recent book, In the Shadows of the American Century , notes that China will overtake the U.S. as the largest economy in the world by 2030, perhaps sooner (Trump & COVID-19 have helped). Then again, China faces its own internal dilemmas, including an increasingly affluent workforce that's very much interested in liberal democratic norms, and a growing number of repressed workers who are fighting back against China's unique brand of 'Authoritarian Capitalism.' Some of the same contradictions and questions can be applied to India, the world's 5th largest economy, authoritarian-religious nationalism, and hundreds of millions of precarious workers provide a potentially explosive political context.

Without question, capitalism will survive COVID-19. The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic and economic crises will alter the future of capitalism. The real question is: how can workers and ordinary people nudge things in a preferred direction, a path that leads to more collectivism and cooperation? How can we exploit the contradictions within the system? How can we ruthlessly expose the inherent limitations and internal contradictions of capital accumulation?

Most importantly, we must not exit this crisis with a more authoritarian version of capitalism. Giving the banks and multinational corporations more power is a death knell for the human species and much of the planet. Time is running out. The economic shocks will continue in frequency and severity. Now is the time for alternatives.

The Crisis of Militarism & Empire

Since 9/11, the U.S. has bombed seven nations: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen. U.S. troops remain in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya, with special forces operations taking place in Pakistan and Somalia. The ongoing war in Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S. history. And the U.S. continues to economically, logistically, politically, and militarily support the systematic repression and genocide of the Palestinian people vis a vi the brutal Israeli regime.

According to military historian, Nick Turse, U.S. forces conduct, on average, three combat or intelligence missions per day on the continent of Africa. Of course, Uncle Sam's growing footprint in Africa has gone virtually unreported in the corporate press. In October, 2017, when 9 U.S. troops were killed in the 'Tongo Tongo Ambush' in Niger, most Americans had no idea that U.S. troops were even stationed in Niger, let alone conducting combat missions. While it's true that U.S. Empire is in decline, it's also true that empires throughout history lash out during their final days, leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

As a result, the human cost of the post-9/11 'War on Terror' has been immense. Iraq: 300,000-1,000,000 dead. Syria: 400,000-600,000 dead. Afghanistan: 120,000 dead. Libya: 30,000 dead. Pakistan: 50,000 dead. Somalia: (unknown). Yemen: 100,000 dead. On the U.S. side, over 7,000 troops have lost their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Pakistan, with more than double that number of private contractors dying in U.S.-led conflicts.

The Great Oil Wars of the early 21st Century have also caused the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, with more than 100,000 Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country, and over 3 million Iraqis internally displaced. Tens of thousands have fled Libya. The same is true in Pakistan. Millions abroad live in abject poverty and suffer preventable diseases as a result of Uncle Sam's military adventures.

Veterans of course, also suffer from Uncle Sam's hubris, with over 10,000 having committed suicide since 9/11. On a personal note, I've lost more of the marines from my platoon than died during our unit's three combat deployments to Iraq.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: "The bombs in Vietnam explode at home -- they destroy the dream and possibility for a decent America." The same is true today, as the United States spends what the next 15 nations spend combined on its military empire ($750 billion a year), a monstrosity and sign of deep societal decay. According to Brown University, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers $5.9 trillion. With that money, the U.S. government could've paid off every Americans' credit card, student loan, and auto loan debt, and still had money left over.

As the U.S. spends trillions of dollars on weapons of war, hospitals run out of surgical masks and ventilators. A ventilator costs anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 -- a tomahawk missile costs $1.4 million.

Like every empire, the U.S. has drained its domestic resources to maintain its imperial hegemony, but that influence is waning with time. As the republic crumbles under the weight of its own internal contradictions, U.S. allies are distancing themselves, while Uncle Sam's foes are becoming increasingly empowered with each blunder and catastrophe that's unfolded since 9/11. As Chomsky points out, the U.S. has been in decline since World War II, the peak of Uncle Sam's imperial prowess.

Already, Trump is using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to ramp-up tensions with both Venezuela and Iran, two countries the U.S. has been politically, militarily, and economically terrorizing for decades. During the pandemic, U.S.-imposed sanctions in Iran have caused a disproportionate number of deaths due to lack of proper health equipment and medicine.

Fortunately, several European countries have broken the sanctions and delivered medical goods to the Iranian government. Also, as we speak, Trump has directed the U.S. Navy to move several U.S. Navy ships in close proximity to Venezuelan waters under the pretext of "curbing drug smuggling" -- no doubt a top priority during the worst pandemic since 1918.

History shows us that every empire eventually confronts the same choice: maintain military forces and watch the republic crumble from within, or de-escalate conflicts, demilitarize, and maintain some semblance of a functioning state. The Roman Empire chose the former. The British Empire chose the latter. The coming decade will determine which path Uncle Sam chooses. If the last 20 years are a window into the future, God help us all.

If we hope to survive the next pandemic, the U.S. government must redirect the resources it's currently spending on weapons of war, and instead invest in public healthcare infrastructure (hospitals, equipment, resources, nurses, personnel, EMTs), public education (medical schools, tuition free), housing (free and available to all), and research and development.

If we hope to survive the coming decades, the U.S. government must redirect its vast resources to mitigating climate change and ecological devastation.

The Climate & Ecological Crisis

The world has ten years to make radical changes to the global economy and its relation to fossil fuel production and consumption or the planet will be uninhabitable by the end of the century. Climate Change isn't the issue , it's the overarching context in which we now exist. Everything we do or don't do over the next ten years will determine whether or not future generations will inhabit a living planet, or a barren wasteland.

There is simply no way to downplay the urgency of our collective challenge. As author David Wallace-Wells' notes in his latest book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming , "we could potentially avoid 150 million excess premature deaths by the end of century from air pollution (the equivalent of 25 Holocausts or twice the number of deaths from World War II) if we could limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius." Right now, we're on track to hit 1.5 degrees Celsius by as early as 2030.

In the future, numbers will matter. The 100,000-240,000 Americans projected to die from COVID-19 will soon turn into numbers like 1,000,000-5,000,000. What we accept today, we'll be expected to accept tomorrow.

In some ways, we've already accepted mass death, but our relationship to the living world is so warped that these numbers don't seem to shake us. Species extinction rates are 100-1,000 times faster than they were, on average, during the evolutionary time-scale of planet Earth. More than 100 go extinct every single day.

Oceans have been destroyed by toxic materials, dumping, shipping, and large-scale industrial fishing. Coral reefs are dying. Warming temperatures mean less phytoplankton, which means less oxygen, which means more carbon dioxide. Some studies suggest that most of the large fish in the world's oceans will be gone by 2050. Deforestation continues at breakneck speeds, ravaging ecosystems and leaving nothing behind. Ice caps melt. Prairies destroyed for suburban developments. Mountains leveled for minerals. Lakes drained for bottled water. Rivers polluted for industry. Life murdered for profit.

The level of ecological disruption and destruction industrial society has unleashed on the living world is unparalleled. And time is running out.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report, Global Warming of 1.5 degree Celsius , outlines our reality: if we wish to hold the line to 1.5 degrees, we have to cut emissions by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030. Then, we have to reach net-zero around 2050. That's to avoid the 250 million deaths Wallace-Wells mentioned. So far, none of that is happening. In fact, we're moving in the opposite direction as global emissions rise each year.

If we continue at current rates of emission, global temperature could rise by 7 degrees Celsius, and the number of human deaths from pollution could rise to 1-3 billion by 2100. That's not including deaths due to habitat loss, crop failure, lack of fresh water, lack of medical care, lack of housing, rising sea levels, lack of employment, addiction, suicide, unbearable temperatures, failing governments, collapsing economies, and everything that comes with those cascading crises: tribal war, banditry, barbarism, and eventually, genocide.

The Totality of Our Crisis

Without question, the stakes couldn't be higher. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic depression is a dress rehearsal for the future. From here on out, each crisis will be more pronounced and severe than the last. The new normal is cascading and multilayered crises all playing out at the same time. How we collectively respond to this crisis will determine how we respond to the impending large-scale crises of the future, not the least of which being Climate Change. So far, we're failing miserably.

If the United States can't handle a small-scale pandemic and virus that's moderately deadly, though admittedly quite disruptive, how can we expect the government to cope with tens of millions of climate refugees fleeing their homes in the coming decades, while seeking housing, employment, and safety in cities and counties already strapped for resources?

If capitalists already are taking advantage of this pandemic, netting trillions of dollars from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury, while simultaneously jacking up the price of medical equipment and charging poor victims exorbitant amounts of money for health insurance, needed medicine, and hospital treatment, how can we expect them to behave in the context of rapid ecological collapse?

If the state is incapable of providing even menial assistance to poor and working class Americans during the worst pandemic in over 100 years, how can we expect the state to behave in the context of cascading and multilayered crises unfolding at a rapid pace over a short period of time, crises that will undoubtedly require massive state intervention in the economy?

Unfortunately, we know the answers to these questions, but only if most poor and working class people remain unorganized or unwilling to fight back.

Let's remember, all of this takes place within a context of many unnamed crises, many of which weren't mentioned in this essay. Some of those include gun culture/NRA (weapons sales are at all-time highs since the pandemic started), police militarism, the prison-industrial complex (already being used to manufacture surgical masks, while prisoners remain trapped in COVID-19 incubators), patriarchy (domestic violence calls have skyrocketed during the pandemic), homelessness (500,000 Americans can't 'stay at home'), systemic racism (already, statistics show that black people are disproportionately impacted by and suffering the worst effects of COVID-19), housing (Americans already spend a insane amounts of their income toward rent/mortgage payments -- those problems have only accelerated during the pandemic), childcare (cash-strapped families and single parents choosing between safety and work), and the list goes on, and on.

Every single aspect of our society is under extreme stress. Even the most passive populations can only take so much. Human beings can only take so much. The living world can only take so much. Eventually, things will explode.

The question is: how? Will poor and working class Americans turn that despair and cynicism into a righteous anger and rage? And if so, who will that anger and rage be directed toward? Each other? Or the powerful elites?

The current social context in the U.S. and across the globe is ripe for radical political change, but that change doesn't necessarily have to be progressive in nature. It could also be reactionary and fueled by religious extremism, xenophobia, racism, and tribalism. That's up to us. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Vincent Emanuele

Vincent Emanuele writes for teleSUR English and lives in Michigan City, Indiana. He can be reached at vincent.emanuele333@gmail.com

[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 20, 2020] This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible

Mar 20, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Mar 19 2020 23:25 utc | 225

A group of economists and policy experts on Wednesday called on President Donald Trump to immediately lift the United States' crippling sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries, warning that the economic warfare -- in addition to being cruel in itself -- is "feeding the coronavirus epidemic" by hampering nations' capacity to respond.

"This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible," Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs said in a statement just hours after the Trump administration intensified sanctions against Iran, which has been devastated by COVID-19.

https://truthout.org/articles/economists-demand-trump-immediately-lift-iran-cuba-venezuela-sanctions/

Mao , Mar 19 2020 23:37 utc | 229

Promising to "smash" Venezuela's government during a "maximum pressure March," Trump has imposed crushing sanctions that force Venezuela to spend three times as much as non-sanctioned countries on coronavirus testing kits.

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/17/us-sanctions-venezuelas-health-sector-coronavirus/

[Mar 11, 2020] Sugar and Spice and Everything Vice the Empire's Sin City of London

Mar 11, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

... ... ...

The 2008 crisis put in the spotlight the psychopathic level of greed, vice, apathy and short-sightedness from those who wanted to play into the City of London and Wall Street casino houses. Get rich quick and don't care who you screw in the process, after all, at the end of the day you're either a winner or a loser.

Since the general public tends to consist of decent people, there is a widespread difficulty in comprehending how entire economies of countries have been hijacked by these piranhas. That we have hit such a level of crime that even people's hard earned pensions, education, health-care, housing etc. are all being gambled away LEGALLY.

Looking upon investment bankers today, one is reminded of those sad addicts in the casino who are ruined and lose everything, except the difference is, they are given the option to sell their neighbour's family into slavery to pay off their debt.

It is no secret that much of the "finance" that goes through the City of London and Wall Street is dirty and yet despite this recognition, there appears to be an inability to address it and that at this point we are told that if we tried to address it by breaking up and regulating the "Too Big to Fail" banks, then the whole economy would come tumbling down.

That is, the world is so evidently run by criminal activity that at this point we have become dependent on its dirty money to keep afloat the world economy.

Faced with the onrushing collapse of the financial system, the greatest Ivy League trained minds of the world have run into a dead end: the bailouts into the banking system that began this past September have prevented a chain reaction meltdown for a few months, but as the liquidity runs out so too will the ideas on where the money justifying bank bailouts will come from.

With these dead ends, we have seen the lightbulb go off in the minds of a large strata of economists who have been making the case in recent years that valuable revenue can yet be generated from one more untapped stream: the decriminalisation and legalisation of vice.

Hell, the major banks have already been doing this covertly as a matter of practice for generations so why not just come out of the closet and make it official? This is where the money is at. This is where the job market is at. So let us not "bite the hand that feeds us"!

But is this truly the case? Is there really no qualitative difference how the money is generated and how it is spent as long as there is an adequate money flow?

Well it is never a good sign when beside the richest you can also find the poorest just a stone's throw away. And right beside the largest financial center in the world, the City of London, there lies the poorest borough in all of London: Tower Hamlets with a 39% poverty rate and an average family income amounting to less than £ 13, 000/year .

A City within a City

" Hell is a city much like London "

– Percy Bysshe Shelley

Although Wall Street has contributed greatly to this sad situation, this banking hub of America is best understood as the spawn of the City of London.

The City of London is over 800 years old, it is arguably older than England herself, a nd for over 400 years it has been the financial center of the world.

During the medieval period the City of London, otherwise known as the Square Mile or simply the City, was divided into 25 ancient wards headed each by an alderman. This continues today . In addition, there existed the ominously titled City of London Corporation, or simply the Corporation, which is the municipal governing body of the City. This also still continues today .

Though the Corporation's origins cannot be specifically dated, since there was never a "surviving" charter found establishing its "legal" basis, it has kept its functions to this day based on the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta is a charter of rights agreed to by King John in 1215, which states that " the City of London shall have/enjoy its ancient liberties ". In other words, the legal function of the Corporation has never been questioned, reviewed, re-evaluated EVER but rather it has been left to legally function as in accordance with their "ancient liberties", which is a very grey description of function if you ask me. In other words, they are free to do as they deem fit.

And it gets worst. The Corporation is not actually under the jurisdiction of the British government. That is, the British government presently does not have the authority to undermine how the Corporation of the City chooses to govern the largest financial center in the world . The City has a separate voting system that allows for, well, corporations to vote in how their separate "government" should run. It also has its own private police force and system of private courts.

The Corporation is not just limited to functioning within the City. The City Remembrancer, which sounds more like a warped version of the ghost of Christmas past, has the role of acting as a channel of communication between the Corporation and the Sovereign (the Queen), the Royal Household and Parliament. The Remembrancer thus acts as a "reminder", some would even say "enforcer", of the will of the Corporation. This position has been held by Paul Double since 2003, it is not clear who bestows this non-elected position.

Mr. Double has the right to act as an official lobbyist in the House of Commons, and sits to the right of the Speaker's chair, with the purpose of scrutinising and influencing any legislation he deems affects the interests of the Corporation. He also appears to have the right to review any piece of legislation as it is being drafted and can even comment on it affecting its final outcome. He is the only non-elected person allowed into the House of Commons.

According to the official City of London website , the reason why the City has a separate voting system is because:

"The City is the only area in the country in which the number of workers significantly outnumbers the residents and therefore, to be truly representative of its population, offers a vote to City organisations so they can have their say on the way the City is run."

However, the workers have absolutely no say. The City's organisations they work for have a certain size vote based on the number of workers they employ, but they do not consult these workers, and many of them are not even aware that such elections take place.

If you feel like you have just walked through Alice's Looking Glass, you're not alone, but what appears to be an absurd level of madness is what has been running the largest financial center in the world since the 1600s, under the machinations of the British Empire.

Therefore the question is, if the City of London has kept its "ancient liberties" and has upheld its global financial power, is the British Empire truly gone?

Offshore Banking: Adam Smith's Invisible Hand?

Contrary to popular naïve belief, the empire on which the sun never sets (some say " because God wouldn't trust them in the dark ") never went away .

After WWII, colonisation was meant to be done away with, and many thought, so too with the British Empire. Countries were reclaiming their sovereignty, governments were being set up by the people, the system of looting and pillaging had come to an end.

It is a nice story, but could not be further from the truth.

In the 1950s, to "adapt" to the changing global financial climate, the City of London set up what are called "secrecy jurisdictions". These were to operate within the last remnants of Britain's small territories/colonies. Of Britain's 14 oversea territories, 7 are bona fide tax havens or "secrecy jurisdictions". A separate international financial market was also created to facilitate the flow of this offshore money, the Eurodollar market. Since this market has its banks outside of the UK and U.S., they are not under the jurisdiction of either country.

By 1997, nearly 90% of all international loans were made through this market.

What is often misunderstood is that the City of London's offshore finances are not contained in a system of banking secrecy but rather of trusts. The difference being that a trust ultimately plays with the concept of ownership. The idea is that you hand over your assets to a trustee and at that point, legally those assets are no longer yours anymore and you are not responsible for accounting for them. Your connection to said assets is completely hidden.

In addition, within Britain's offshore jurisdictions, there is no qualification required for who can become a trustee: anyone can set up a trust and anyone can become a trustee. There is also no registry of trusts in these territories. Thus, the only ones who know about this arrangement are the trustee and the settler.

John Christensen, an investigative economist, estimates that this capital that legally belongs to nobody could amount to as high as $50 trillion within these British territories. Not only is this not being taxed, but a significant portion of it has been stolen from sectors of the real economy.

So how does this affect "formerly" colonised countries?

There lies the rub for most developing nations. According to John Christensen, the combined external debts of Sub-Saharan African countries was $177 billion in 2008. However, the wealth that these countries' elites moved offshore, between 1970-2008, is estimated at $944 billion, 5X their foreign debt. This is not only dirty money, this is also STOLEN money from the resources and productivity of these economies. Thus, as Christensen states, "Far from being a net debtor to the world, Sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor" to offshore finance.

Put in this context, the so-called "backwardness" of Africa is not due to its incapability to produce, but rather that it has been experiencing uninterrupted looting since these regions were first colonised.

These African countries then need to borrow money, which is happily given to them at high interest rates, and accrues a level of debt that could never be repaid. These countries are thus looted twice over, leaving no money left to invest in their future, let alone to put food on the table.

Offshore havens are what make this sort of activity "legal" and rampant.

And it doesn't stop there. Worldwide, it is estimated that developing countries lose $1 trillion every year in capital flight and tax evasion. Most of this wealth goes back into the UK and U.S. through these offshore havens, and allows their currencies to stay strong whilst developing nations' currencies are kept weak.

However, developing nations are not the only ones to have suffered from this system of looting. The very economies of the UK and U.S. have also been gutted. In the 1960s and onward, the UK and U.S., to compensate for the increase in money flow out of their countries decided that it was a good idea to open their domestic markets to the trillions of dollars passing through its offshore havens.

However, such banks are not interested in putting their money into industry and manufacturing, they put their money into real estate speculation, financial speculation and foreign currency trade. And thus the financialization of British and American economies resulted, and the real jobs coming from the real economy decreased or disappeared.

Although many economists try to claim differently, the desperation has boiled over and movements like the yellow vests are reflections of the true consequences of these economic policies.

We have reached a point now where every western first world country is struggling with a much higher unemployment rate and a lower standard of living than 40 years ago. Along with increased poverty has followed increased drug use, increased suicide and increased crime.

A Stable Economy based on Freedom or Slavery?

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) report in 2017 , the UK has by far the highest rate of drug overdose in all of Europe at 31% followed by Germany at 15%. That is, the UK consists of 1/3 drug overdoses that occur in all of Europe.

The average family income in the UK is presently £28, 400. The poverty rate within the UK is ~20%.

The average family income of what was once the epicentre of world industrialisation, Detroit, has an average family income of $26, 249. The poverty rate of Detroit is ~34.5%.

What is the solution?

Reverse Margaret Thatcher's 1986 Big Bang deregulation of the banking system that destroyed the separation of commercial banking, investment banking, trusts and insurance for starters. A similar restoration of Glass-Steagall in the USA should follow suit, not only to break up the "Too Big to Fail" banking system but to restore the authority of nation states over private finance once more. IF these emergency measures were done before the markets collapse (and they will collapse), then the industrial-infrastructure revival throughout trans-Atlantic nations can still occur.

Let us end here by hearkening to the words of Clement Attlee, UK Prime Minister from 1945-1951:

" Over and over again we have seen that there is another power than that which has its seat at Westminster. The City of London, a convenient term for a collection of financial interests, is able to assert itself against the government of the country. Those who control money can pursue a policy at home and abroad contrary to that which is being decided by the people. "

[Mar 11, 2020] A cool article about the impossibility of separating capitalism from mafia-style banditism:

Mar 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Mar 10 2020 18:54 utc | 10

To complete the SC's double-header, here's a cool article about the impossibility of separating capitalism from mafia-style banditism:

Sugar and Spice and Everything Vice: the Empire's Sin City of London

Extra points for the headline.

[Mar 10, 2020] Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us by Paul Verhaeghe

Highly recommended!
Neoliberalism destroys solidarity; as the result it destroys both the society and individuals
Notable quotes:
"... Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you're reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others. ..."
"... On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won't be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare , the best-known specialist on psychopathy today. ..."
"... the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation. ..."
"... Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it's known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other. ..."
"... Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms ..."
"... More important, though, is the serious damage to people's self-respect. Self-respect largely depends on the recognition that we receive from the other, as thinkers from Hegel to Lacan have shown. Sennett comes to a similar conclusion when he sees the main question for employees these days as being "Who needs me?" For a growing group of people, the answer is: no one. ..."
"... A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. ..."
"... the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." ..."
Sep 29, 2014 | www.theguardian.com

An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities

'We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited.'

We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you're reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won't really be noticed.

It's important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you've got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That's why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.

On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won't be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare , the best-known specialist on psychopathy today.

This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremes. Nevertheless, the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation.

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it's known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other.

Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms. This results in what the sociologist Richard Sennett has aptly described as the "infantilisation of the workers". Adults display childish outbursts of temper and are jealous about trivialities ("She got a new office chair and I didn't"), tell white lies, resort to deceit, delight in the downfall of others and cherish petty feelings of revenge. This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.

More important, though, is the serious damage to people's self-respect. Self-respect largely depends on the recognition that we receive from the other, as thinkers from Hegel to Lacan have shown. Sennett comes to a similar conclusion when he sees the main question for employees these days as being "Who needs me?" For a growing group of people, the answer is: no one.

Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens. An increasing number of people fail, feeling humiliated, guilty and ashamed. We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited. Furthermore, those who fail are deemed to be losers or scroungers, taking advantage of our social security system.

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom. Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference. Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.

Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, "make" something of ourselves. You don't need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master's degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only changed. And that is precisely what has happened: a changed economy reflects changed ethics and brings about changed identity. The current economic system is bringing out the worst in us.

Psychology Work & careers Economics Economic policy

See also

[Mar 10, 2020] Neoliberalism the ideology at the root of all our problems by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
Under neoliberalism inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve: Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations and redefines citizens as consumers
Notable quotes:
"... Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? ..."
"... Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness , the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump . ..."
"... Inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve. ..."
"... Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. ..."
"... We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances. ..."
"... Never mind structural unemployment: if you don't have a job it's because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you're feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it's your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers. ..."
"... Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. ..."
"... It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice should have been promoted with the slogan 'there is no alternative' ..."
"... Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating " investor-state dispute settlement ": offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections. When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes , protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre. ..."
"... Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one ..."
"... Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers. The doctrine that Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one. ..."
"... When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel . ..."
"... Those who own and run the UK's privatised or semi-privatised services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through firesales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services and soon became the world's richest man. ..."
"... Financialisation, as Andrew Sayer notes in Why We Can't Afford the Rich , has had a similar impact. "Like rent," he argues, "interest is ... unearned income that accrues without any effort". ..."
"... Chris Hedges remarks that "fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the 'losers' who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment". When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation . To the admirers of Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant. ..."
"... Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities. ..."
"... The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch , two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute that set up the Tea Party movement . We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his thinktanks, noted that "in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organisation is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised". ..."
"... The anonymity of neoliberalism is fiercely guarded. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years. ..."
"... What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it's not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century. ..."
Apr 16, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump – neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative? @GeorgeMonbiot

Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness , the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump . But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?

Inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin's theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

Never mind structural unemployment: if you don't have a job it's because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you're feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it's your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.

See also Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us by Paul Verhaeghe, Sep 24, 2014

Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. Perhaps it's unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe . We are all neoliberals now.

***

The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and the gradual development of Britain's welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.

In The Road to Serfdom , published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control. Like Mises's book Bureaucracy , The Road to Serfdom was widely read. It came to the attention of some very wealthy people, who saw in the philosophy an opportunity to free themselves from regulation and tax. When, in 1947, Hayek founded the first organisation that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – it was supported financially by millionaires and their foundations.

With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as "a kind of neoliberal international": a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists. The movement's rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institute , the Heritage Foundation , the Cato Institute , the Institute of Economic Affairs , the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute . They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia.

As it evolved, neoliberalism became more strident. Hayek's view that governments should regulate competition to prevent monopolies from forming gave way – among American apostles such as Milton Friedman – to the belief that monopoly power could be seen as a reward for efficiency.

Something else happened during this transition: the movement lost its name. In 1951, Friedman was happy to describe himself as a neoliberal . But soon after that, the term began to disappear. Stranger still, even as the ideology became crisper and the movement more coherent, the lost name was not replaced by any common alternative.

At first, despite its lavish funding, neoliberalism remained at the margins. The postwar consensus was almost universal: John Maynard Keynes 's economic prescriptions were widely applied, full employment and the relief of poverty were common goals in the US and much of western Europe, top rates of tax were high and governments sought social outcomes without embarrassment, developing new public services and safety nets.

But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream. As Friedman remarked, "when the time came that you had to change ... there was an alternative ready there to be picked up". With the help of sympathetic journalists and political advisers, elements of neoliberalism, especially its prescriptions for monetary policy, were adopted by Jimmy Carter's administration in the US and Jim Callaghan's government in Britain.

It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice should have been promoted with the slogan 'there is no alternative'

After Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed: massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services. Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. As Stedman Jones notes, "it is hard to think of another utopia to have been as fully realised."

***

It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice and freedom should have been promoted with the slogan "there is no alternative". But, as Hayek remarked on a visit to Pinochet's Chile – one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied – "my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism". The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.

Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers , endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Naomi Klein documented that neoliberals advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted. Photograph: Anya Chibis/The Guardian

As Naomi Klein documents in The Shock Doctrine , neoliberal theorists advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted: for example, in the aftermath of Pinochet's coup, the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, which Friedman described as "an opportunity to radically reform the educational system" in New Orleans .

Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating " investor-state dispute settlement ": offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections. When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes , protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre.

Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one

Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers. The doctrine that Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one.

Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one. Economic growth has been markedly slower in the neoliberal era (since 1980 in Britain and the US) than it was in the preceding decades; but not for the very rich. Inequality in the distribution of both income and wealth, after 60 years of decline, rose rapidly in this era, due to the smashing of trade unions, tax reductions, rising rents, privatisation and deregulation.

The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel .

In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all phone services and soon became the world's richest man. Photograph: Henry Romero/Reuters

Those who own and run the UK's privatised or semi-privatised services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through firesales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services and soon became the world's richest man.

Financialisation, as Andrew Sayer notes in Why We Can't Afford the Rich , has had a similar impact. "Like rent," he argues, "interest is ... unearned income that accrues without any effort". As the poor become poorer and the rich become richer, the rich acquire increasing control over another crucial asset: money. Interest payments, overwhelmingly, are a transfer of money from the poor to the rich. As property prices and the withdrawal of state funding load people with debt (think of the switch from student grants to student loans), the banks and their executives clean up.

Sayer argues that the past four decades have been characterised by a transfer of wealth not only from the poor to the rich, but within the ranks of the wealthy: from those who make their money by producing new goods or services to those who make their money by controlling existing assets and harvesting rent, interest or capital gains. Earned income has been supplanted by unearned income.

Neoliberal policies are everywhere beset by market failures. Not only are the banks too big to fail, but so are the corporations now charged with delivering public services. As Tony Judt pointed out in Ill Fares the Land , Hayek forgot that vital national services cannot be allowed to collapse, which means that competition cannot run its course. Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk.

The greater the failure, the more extreme the ideology becomes. Governments use neoliberal crises as both excuse and opportunity to cut taxes, privatise remaining public services, rip holes in the social safety net, deregulate corporations and re-regulate citizens. The self-hating state now sinks its teeth into every organ of the public sector.

Perhaps the most dangerous impact of neoliberalism is not the economic crises it has caused, but the political crisis. As the domain of the state is reduced, our ability to change the course of our lives through voting also contracts. Instead, neoliberal theory asserts, people can exercise choice through spending. But some have more to spend than others: in the great consumer or shareholder democracy, votes are not equally distributed. The result is a disempowerment of the poor and middle. As parties of the right and former left adopt similar neoliberal policies, disempowerment turns to disenfranchisement. Large numbers of people have been shed from politics.

Chris Hedges remarks that "fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the 'losers' who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment". When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation . To the admirers of Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant.

Judt explained that when the thick mesh of interactions between people and the state has been reduced to nothing but authority and obedience, the only remaining force that binds us is state power. The totalitarianism Hayek feared is more likely to emerge when governments, having lost the moral authority that arises from the delivery of public services, are reduced to "cajoling, threatening and ultimately coercing people to obey them".

***

Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities.

The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch , two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute that set up the Tea Party movement . We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his thinktanks, noted that "in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organisation is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised".

The nouveau riche were once disparaged by those who had inherited their money. Today, the relationship has been reversed

The words used by neoliberalism often conceal more than they elucidate. "The market" sounds like a natural system that might bear upon us equally, like gravity or atmospheric pressure. But it is fraught with power relations. What "the market wants" tends to mean what corporations and their bosses want. "Investment", as Sayer notes, means two quite different things. One is the funding of productive and socially useful activities, the other is the purchase of existing assets to milk them for rent, interest, dividends and capital gains. Using the same word for different activities "camouflages the sources of wealth", leading us to confuse wealth extraction with wealth creation.

A century ago, the nouveau riche were disparaged by those who had inherited their money. Entrepreneurs sought social acceptance by passing themselves off as rentiers. Today, the relationship has been reversed: the rentiers and inheritors style themselves entre preneurs. They claim to have earned their unearned income.

These anonymities and confusions mesh with the namelessness and placelessness of modern capitalism: the franchise model which ensures that workers do not know for whom they toil ; the companies registered through a network of offshore secrecy regimes so complex that even the police cannot discover the beneficial owners ; the tax arrangements that bamboozle governments; the financial products no one understands.

The anonymity of neoliberalism is fiercely guarded. Those who are influenced by Hayek, Mises and Friedman tend to reject the term, maintaining – with some justice – that it is used today only pejoratively . But they offer us no substitute. Some describe themselves as classical liberals or libertarians, but these descriptions are both misleading and curiously self-effacing, as they suggest that there is nothing novel about The Road to Serfdom , Bureaucracy or Friedman's classic work, Capitalism and Freedom .

***

For all that, there is something admirable about the neoliberal project, at least in its early stages. It was a distinctive, innovative philosophy promoted by a coherent network of thinkers and activists with a clear plan of action. It was patient and persistent. The Road to Serfdom became the path to power.

Neoliberalism, Locke and the Green party | Letters Read more

Neoliberalism's triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years.

Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.

What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it's not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century.

George Monbiot's How Did We Get into This Mess? is published this month by Verso. To order a copy for £12.99 (RRP £16.99) ) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

Topics Economics

[Mar 10, 2020] The Bankruptcy of the American Left by Chris Hedges

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Corporate capitalism is supranational . It owes no loyalty to any nation-state. It uses the projection of military power by the United States to protect and advance its economic interests but at the same time cannibalizes the U.S., dismantling its democratic institutions, allowing its infrastructure to decay and deindustrializing its factory centers to ship manufacturing abroad to regions where workers are treated as serfs. ..."
"... Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational. It must build alliances with workers around the globe. It must defy the liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which betray workers. It is this betrayal that has given rise to fascist and protofascist movements in Europe and other countries ..."
"... Capitalism, at its core, is about the commodification of human beings and the natural world for exploitation and profit. To increase profit, it constantly seeks to reduce the cost of labor and demolish the regulations and laws that protect the common good. But as capitalism ravages the social fabric, it damages, like any parasite, the host that allows it to exist. It unleashes dark, uncontrollable yearnings among an enraged population that threaten capitalism itself. ..."
"... "We live in a global economy, highly interconnected," North went on. "A globalized process of production, financial system. The ruling class has an international policy. They organize themselves on an international scale. The labor movement has remained organized on a national basis. It has been completely incapable of answering this [ruling-class policy]. Therefore, it falls behind various national protectionist programs. The trade unions support Trump." ..."
"... "How many times can you turn on a mainstream news like CNN and expect to hear the word 'capitalism' discussed? Bernie [Sanders] did one thing. He called himself a democratic socialist , which was a bit transformational simply in terms of rhetoric. He's saying there's something other than capitalism that we ought to be talking about." ..."
"... When feminism was turned into that kind of leaning in, it created an identity politics that legitimizes the very system that needs to be critiqued. The early feminists were overtly socialists. As was [Martin Luther] King. But all that got erased." ..."
"... "The left became a kind of grab bag of discrete, siloed identity movements," Derber said. "This is very connected to moral purity. You're concerned about your advancement within the existing system. You're competing against others within the existing system. Everyone else has privilege. You're just concerned about getting your fair share." ..."
"... "Identity politics is to a large degree a right-wing discourse," Derber said. "It focuses on tribalism tied in modern times to nationalism, which is always militaristic. When you break the left into these siloed identity politics, which are not contextualized, you easily get into this dogmatic fundamentalism. The identity politics of the left reproduces the worse sociopathic features of the system as a whole. It's scary." ..."
Feb 05, 2018 | www.truthdig.com

There will be no economic or political justice for the poor, people of color, women or workers within the framework of global, corporate capitalism. Corporate capitalism, which uses identity politics , multiculturalism and racial justice to masquerade as politics, will never halt the rising social inequality, unchecked militarism, evisceration of civil liberties and omnipotence of the organs of security and surveillance. Corporate capitalism cannot be reformed, despite its continually rebranding itself. The longer the self-identified left and liberal class seek to work within a system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls " inverted totalitarianism ," the more the noose will be tightened around our necks. If we do not rise up to bring government and financial systems under public control -- which includes nationalizing banks, the fossil fuel industry and the arms industry -- we will continue to be victims.

Corporate capitalism is supranational . It owes no loyalty to any nation-state. It uses the projection of military power by the United States to protect and advance its economic interests but at the same time cannibalizes the U.S., dismantling its democratic institutions, allowing its infrastructure to decay and deindustrializing its factory centers to ship manufacturing abroad to regions where workers are treated as serfs.

Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational. It must build alliances with workers around the globe. It must defy the liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which betray workers. It is this betrayal that has given rise to fascist and protofascist movements in Europe and other countries. Donald Trump would never have been elected but for this betrayal. We will build a global movement powerful enough to bring down corporate capitalism or witness the rise of a new, supranational totalitarianism.

The left, seduced by the culture wars and identity politics, largely ignores the primacy of capitalism and the class struggle. As long as unregulated capitalism reigns supreme, all social, economic, cultural and political change will be cosmetic. Capitalism, at its core, is about the commodification of human beings and the natural world for exploitation and profit. To increase profit, it constantly seeks to reduce the cost of labor and demolish the regulations and laws that protect the common good. But as capitalism ravages the social fabric, it damages, like any parasite, the host that allows it to exist. It unleashes dark, uncontrollable yearnings among an enraged population that threaten capitalism itself.

"This is a crisis of global dimensions," David North , the national chairman of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States, told me when we spoke in New York. "It is a crisis that dominates every element of American politics. The response that we're seeing, the astonishing changes in the state of the government, in the decay of political life, the astonishingly low level of political and intellectual discourse, is in a certain sense an expression of the bewilderment of the ruling elite to what it's going through."

"We can expect a monumental explosion of class struggle in the United States," he said. "I think this country is a social powder keg. There is an anger that exists over working conditions and social inequality. However [much] they may be confused on many questions, workers in this country have a deep belief in democratic rights. We totally reject the narrative that the working class is racist. I think this has been the narrative pushed by the pseudo-left, middle-class groups who are drunk on identity politics, which have a vested interest in constantly distracting people from the essential class differences that exist in the society. Dividing everyone up on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference fails to address the major problem."

North argues, correctly, that capitalism by its nature lurches from crisis to crisis. This makes our current predicament similar to past crises.

"All the unanswered questions of the 20th century -- the basic problem of the nation-state system, the reactionary character of private ownership with the means of production, corporate power, all of these issues which led to the first and Second world wars -- are with us again, and add to that fascism," he said.

"We live in a global economy, highly interconnected," North went on. "A globalized process of production, financial system. The ruling class has an international policy. They organize themselves on an international scale. The labor movement has remained organized on a national basis. It has been completely incapable of answering this [ruling-class policy]. Therefore, it falls behind various national protectionist programs. The trade unions support Trump."

The sociologist Charles Derber , whom I also spoke with in New York, agrees.

"We don't really have a left because we don't have conversations about capitalism," Derber said. "How many times can you turn on a mainstream news like CNN and expect to hear the word 'capitalism' discussed? Bernie [Sanders] did one thing. He called himself a democratic socialist , which was a bit transformational simply in terms of rhetoric. He's saying there's something other than capitalism that we ought to be talking about."

"As the [capitalist] system universalizes and becomes more and more intersectional, we need intersectional resistance," Derber said. "At the end of the 1960s, when I was getting my own political education, the universalizing dimensions of the left, which was growing in the '60s, fell apart. The women began to feel their issues were not being addressed. They were treated badly by white males, student leaders. Blacks, Panthers, began to feel the whites could not speak for race issues. They developed separate organizations. The upshot was the left lost its universalizing character. It no longer dealt with the intersection of all these issues within the context of a militarized, capitalist, hegemonic American empire. It treated politics as siloed group identity problems. Women had glass ceilings. Same with blacks. Same with gays."

The loss of this intersectionality was deadly. Instead of focusing on the plight of all of the oppressed, oppressed groups began to seek representation for their own members within capitalist structures.

"Let's take a modern version of this," Derber said. " Sheryl Sandberg , the COO of Facebook, she did a third-wave feminism thing. She said 'lean in.' It captures this identity politics that has become toxic on the left. What does 'lean in' mean? It means women should lean in and go as far as they can in the corporation. They should become, as she has, a major, wealthy executive of a leading corporation. When feminism was turned into that kind of leaning in, it created an identity politics that legitimizes the very system that needs to be critiqued. The early feminists were overtly socialists. As was [Martin Luther] King. But all that got erased."

"The left became a kind of grab bag of discrete, siloed identity movements," Derber said. "This is very connected to moral purity. You're concerned about your advancement within the existing system. You're competing against others within the existing system. Everyone else has privilege. You're just concerned about getting your fair share."

"People in movements are products of the system they're fighting," he continued. "We're all raised in a capitalistic, individualistic, egoistic culture, so it's not surprising. And it has to be consciously recognized and struggled against. Everybody in movements has been brought up in systems they're repulsed by. This has created a structural transformation of the left. The left offers no broad critique of the political economy of capitalism. It's largely an identity-politics party. It focuses on reforms for blacks and women and so forth. But it doesn't offer a contextual analysis within capitalism."

Derber, like North, argues that the left's myopic, siloed politics paved the way for right-wing, nativist, protofascist movements around the globe as well as the ascendancy of Trump.

"When you bring politics down to simply about helping your group get a piece of the pie, you lose that systemic analysis," he said. "You're fragmented. You don't have natural connections or solidarity with other groups. You don't see the larger systemic context. By saying I want, as a gay person, to fight in the military, in a funny way you're legitimating the American empire. If you were living in Nazi Germany, would you say I want the right of a gay person to fight in combat with the Nazi soldiers?"

"I don't want to say we should eliminate all identity politics," he said. "But any identity politics has to be done within the framework of understanding the larger political economy. That's been stripped away and erased. Even on the left, you cannot find a deep conversation about capitalism and militarized capitalism. It's just been erased. That's why Trump came in. He unified a kind of very powerful right-wing identity politics built around nationalism, militarism and the exceptionalism of the American empire."

"Identity politics is to a large degree a right-wing discourse," Derber said. "It focuses on tribalism tied in modern times to nationalism, which is always militaristic. When you break the left into these siloed identity politics, which are not contextualized, you easily get into this dogmatic fundamentalism. The identity politics of the left reproduces the worse sociopathic features of the system as a whole. It's scary."

"How much of the left," he asked, "is reproducing what we are seeing in the society that we're fighting?"

[Mar 09, 2020] The Politics of Privatization How Neoliberalism Took Over US Politics by Brett Heinz

Highly recommended!
Sep 08, 2017 | www.faireconomy.org

Many of us have come across the term "neoliberal," or "neoliberalism" before, but for all its use, few have ever taken the chance to actually explain what it is. An inadequate popular definition has allowed the term to be abused and misrepresented in a variety of ways. Despite these misrepresentations, however, "neoliberalism" is a concept that is very useful for understanding the world we live in today.

In simple terms, neoliberalism is a broad ideology that became popular in political, economic, and governmental circles in the 1970's and reached its peak in global popularity in the 1980's. Neoliberalism describes the political paradigm we are in right now, the political conditions of modern society . As the name suggests, it calls for a revitalization of the classical liberal view of economic policy. It's important to understand that "classical liberal" here refers to an older understanding of the word liberal than the one it has in modern America- it is referencing the liberalism of the Enlightenment era, represented by thinkers like Adam Smith and John Locke, not modern social liberalism as embodied by Barack Obama and much of the rest of the Democratic Party. In concrete policy terms, neoliberalism means free trade, low taxes, deregulation, privatization, and balanced budgets.

Neoliberalism represents a shift in the way we look at the world: it entails seeing every aspect of society, even those typically considered civic or community affairs, in the terms of the market economy.

"Stagflation" & Schools of Economic Thought

Neoliberalism emerged as a reaction to welfare state politics and Keynesian economics that had become popular in the West following the end of World War II.

What is Keynesian Economics? Two major schools of economic thought are Classical Economics and Keynesian Economics. Adam Smith's (1723-1790) theory of Classical Economics asserts that the market is a rapidly-adjusting, self-correcting entity. John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) believed that Classical Economics was flawed. If classical economics were true, Keyes asserted, waves of massive unemployment wouldn't exist, as the market would quickly self-adjust for the downturn. Keynes theorized that during an economic downturn, consumer demand tended to drop, causing employers to lay off employees, which would then decrease overall consumer demand, and the cycle would continue. Keynes concluded that in periods of economic downturn, government could manipulate demand by hiring, directly or through policy, unemployed workers and break the cycle.

Following a long period of significant prosperity, the 1970's brought with it a phenomenon known as "stagflation" - simultaneous stagnation (where worker wages are kept flat) and inflation (where the cost of living rises). Keynesians, who had been the dominant group in American economics at the time, believed it was impossible for stagflation to exist for any extended period of time.

As the Keynesians tried to make sense of economic realities of the day, a new wave of economists began to create other schools of thought. Milton Friedman (known as "the Chicago School" or "monetarists") made the case not only for a different approach to monetary policy in order to solve stagflation, but also for the idea that many forms of governmental involvement in the economy are in fact harmful. Others, like James Buchanan pioneered a field known as "public choice theory," which made the case to the economics profession that government bureaucrats acted in personal self-interest, not in the public interest, and thus that policy prescriptions should be much more cautious in calling for governmental solutions to economic issues.

Activist Business

At the same time as the intellectual environment began to shift toward the political right in economics, the business community also began to be more aggressive in asserting their interests in politics. This development was prompted in part by soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. writing a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1971, arguing that "the American economic system is under attack" from progressive critics of big business and that the business community should fight back. A number of conservative and libertarian think tanks and advocacy organizations were created and expanded during this period in order to make the intellectual case for "freer" capitalism, including the Heritage Foundation (1973), the Cato Institute (1974), and the American Enterprise Institute (founded in 1938 but becoming influential during the 1970′s).

A Radical Message

Combine a turn against government in the field of economics and a growing assertion of political power by businesses, and throw in increased public skepticism of government after Vietnam and Watergate, and you have a recipe for fundamental political change. Between the economic disarray, the public distrust, and both intellectual and financial support for an alternative to post-war welfare statism, a new ideology became dominant in the political sphere. This ideology was encapsulated by the presidency of Ronald Reagan, who summed it up perfectly with his famous quote: "in this current crisis, government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem."

Such a claim may sound like standard conservative fare today, but both Reagan and his message were quite radical at the time, even among Republicans. At the time of his election, Reagan was seen by some ( including Gerald Ford ) as simply too far right to win. The last (elected) Republican president before him, Nixon, created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), and a number of other progressive programs. He also called for healthcare reform that could arguably be called stronger than Obamacare, and an expansion of welfare , the latter of which was the inspiration for the Earned Income Tax Credit, passed shortly after he left office. Pieces of Nixon's economic agenda were noticeably left-wing, so much so that one journalist at the time noted that he left the Democrats having to resort to "me-tooism."

Nixon took such positions because he needed to respond to political pressures from the left, the same pressures that had pushed LBJ on civil rights legislation and the war on poverty. In the late 1970's, as the activism and radicalism of the 1960's began to die out, those pressures began to be outweighed by increasing pressure from businesses in the direction of neoliberalism. This started under Jimmy Carter, who oversaw the cautious deregulation of airlines in 1978 and the trucking industry in 1980. However, it was Reagan who truly delivered the neoliberal agenda in America and institutionalized it into government.

Importantly, this era also saw the start of the growth in the importance of campaign donations. Republicans had not only a strong base of think tanks to provide them with a network of intellectual support, they also had far more money from the corporate interests they were serving. Congressional Republicans beat their Democratic counterparts in campaign expenditures in every election year from 1976 to 1992.

Traditionally, Democrats had relied on unions as a critical source of both campaign donations and organizational support. With union strength declining (a trend the Reagan administration encouraged through policy), the Democrats were being totally outgunned. According to Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson's book "Winner-Take-All Politics":

" From the late 1970s to the late 1980s, corporate PACS [political action committees] increased their expenditures in congressional races nearly five fold. Labor spending only rose about half as fast... By 1980, unions accounted for less than a quarter of all PAC donations -- down from half six years earlier."

The Third Way

Even with the emergence of conservative "Reagan Democrats" during the 1980's, the game had changed for the Democratic Party. Recognizing this, a number of Democrats (including Bill Clinton) joined together in a group called the Democratic Leadership Council with the goal of dragging the party to the right and boosting campaign contributions. They succeeded. When Clinton eventually won the presidency, he cemented neoliberalism as the law of the land by making it clear that the Democrats would not challenge the new fundamental doctrine of limited government involvement in many parts of the economy, and as a result made the Democrats politically competitive again. (Both the previously mentioned "Winner-Take-All Politics" and Thomas Ferguson and Joel Roger's "Right Turn" go more into detail on this issue, and on neoliberalism more generally).

Instead of challenging the entirety of Reagan's assertion of government-as-problem, Clinton espoused a "third way" ideology: in his second inauguration, he said that "Government is not the problem, and Government is not the solution. We -- the American people -- we are the solution." Though the Clinton White House at times backed left-liberal policies like mild tax hikes on the wealthy, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Family Medical Leave Act, it also continued the neoliberal march of rolling back progressive achievements through the deregulation of Wall Street (the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, etc.), conservative welfare reform in 1996, NAFTA, and the gutting of public housing .

A One-Party System

Clinton himself was aware of the way that American politics was moving to the right, and he was sometimes frustrated with it. Allegedly, he once entered a meeting in the Oval Office complaining : "Where are all the Democrats? I hope you're all aware we're all Eisenhower Republicans. We're Eisenhower Republicans here, and we are fighting the Reagan Republicans. We stand for lower deficits and free trade and the bond market. Isn't that great?"

Despite this, however, Clinton and most of the rest of the Democratic Party accepted their role doing nothing more than, to borrow a phrase from political philosopher Roberto Unger, "to put a softer face on the agenda of their conservative opponents." They seek to make marginal improvements for poor, working class, and middle class voters here and there, but never seek to fundamentally shake up the political-economic system in any way. As one critic put it in 1990, even before Clinton's election, the Democratic Party is "...history's second-most enthusiastic capitalist party. They do not interfere with capitalist momentum, but wait for excesses and the inevitable popular reaction." This is why many left-wing critics will refer to some Democrats as neoliberals even when they don't literally advocate for free market capitalism.

Neoliberalism within the Democratic Party looks less like a proposal to privatize or abolish Social Security as much as it does a commitment to benefit-cutting "entitlement reform." It can be seen both in language (the constant discussion of education as an "investment" in "skills" necessary for "improving the workforce," instead of a guaranteed right for all citizens) and in policy (proposing tax cuts for the middle class instead of social spending even when taxes are at some of their lowest rates in decades ; compromis[ing] in advance on major policy proposals like the 2009 stimulus; advocating piecemeal technocratic reforms to healthcare and finance instead of deeper, fundamental reform; etc.).

With their opponents on the defensive and partially compliant with their agenda, the Republicans continued to push further right under the leadership of Newt Gingrich and his "Contract with America." The Democrats started to dig their heels in and push back a little for the first time during the later part of the George W. Bush administration as his (and the wars') approval ratings sank, and they now seem to have more or less stabilized. An increasingly loud progressive coalition of activists and advocates continues to push for ideas like single-payer healthcare, often dismissed as radical despite both being an international norm and the explicit goal of many mainstream Democratic politicians before neoliberalism's rise. The Democratic party establishment, on the contrary, is largely fine holding on to ideological territory that is, in certain areas, to the right of where it was several decades ago.

With the establishment of both major political parties accepting neoliberal ideology, it became default wisdom among economic, political, and media elites. Because the most powerful class of America accepted it as fact, it was instilled into the American consciousness as "common sense" that can't be seriously challenged. Ideas in direct opposition to neoliberalism were largely marginalized, and as a result, much of our modern debate now takes place within its bounds. Today, though, this marginalization is rapidly disappearing.

Today, we are witnessing the collapse of neoliberalism's "common sense" status. Republican elites took neoliberalism being one of their root organizing principles for granted while running campaigns using dog-whistle racism, never realizing that they were attracting a base of voters who hated immigrants a lot more than they hated regulation. The Republicans have drifted so far to the right that unabashed nationalists like Trump can now take the lead of the party, even as he espouses racist xenophobia-inspired protectionism that are in conflict with the neoliberal ideals of the party's business wing.

Even during their neoliberalization, the Democrats always had a left-wing occupied by social democrats. Today they largely occupy the Congressional Progressive Caucus. They were empowered by both opposition to the Iraq War late in the Bush era and the subsequent economic crash that occurred as a result of neoliberal deregulation of the finance sector. Obama ran as a semi-progressive but governed as a standard Democrat, leaving progressive disappointment and frustration to rise to the surface again once a primary was held to determine who would be the Democratic candidate after Obama: thus, the Bernie phenomenon.

Globalism & Neoliberalism

It seems as though the extinction of neoliberalism is embedded in the formula of neoliberalism itself. Neoliberalism and accompanying globalization have resulted in inequality and poverty for significant portions of the population, leaving many people economically impoverished and politically alienated. This prompts an inevitable political reaction, angry and populist in nature. The center-left (ex. Hillary Clinton) and center-right (ex. Jeb Bush) sing the praises of neoliberal globalization, while the left (ex. Bernie Sanders) vigorously attacks the "neoliberal" part of it, and the far-right (ex. Donald Trump) vigorously attack the "globalization" part of it. Today, progressives dislike neoliberalism, but also believe that the far-right's disdain for all forms of globalization is a distraction and misidentification of the root issue, using foreigners and people of color as scapegoats. The problem is not globalization, but globalization implemented in such a way so as to benefit the wealthy and powerful.

Neoliberalism is a powerful ideology and way of looking at the world. The neoliberal views most government involvement in the economy as harmful, and seeks to leave social problems to be solved by private enterprise and markets whenever possible. This is an idea that, over the last several decades, has become widely accepted to varying degrees by people across the political spectrum, and as such has been embedded into modern government and public policy.

When discussing modern politics, a recognition of the role neoliberalism has played in fueling massive increases in inequality and corrupting our democracy is vital.

A number of other industrialized countries have undergone neoliberalization on roughly the same time frame as the US, and are now experiencing similar backlashes: the U.K., neoliberalized under Margaret Thatcher and others, now has UKIP on its right and Jeremy Corbyn and social democratic Scottish nationalists on its left. France has witnessed the rise of not only the National Front on its far-right, but also the rise of populist socialists like Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Germany has the AfD and Pegida on its right and Die Linke on its left. New Zealand has New Zealand First. Sweden has the Sweden Democrats. Spain has Podemos. Additionally, backlash against "Washington Consensus" neoliberalism in Latin America contributed to a revitalization of left-populism in many countries. Though there are some nations that have experienced some form of neoliberalism without such political effects, a definite connection between neoliberalism and the emergence of anti-neoliberal populism certainly seems to exist.

[Mar 03, 2020] "Predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what neoliberalism is.

Highly recommended!
Mar 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

chu teh , Mar 4 2020 0:50 utc | 80

Tonymike | Mar 3 2020 18:08 utc | 26

re ... Your house foreclosed upon by shady bank: naked capitalism, .0001% paid on interest savings: naked capitalism, poor wages: naked capitalism, dangerous workplace: naked capitalism, etc. ...

"naked capitalism" is not a clear description. Consider using "predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what it is.

Here's the Wiki dictionary definition:

Predatory--

1. relating to or denoting an animal or animals preying naturally on others.
synonyms: predacious, carnivorous, hunting, raptorial, ravening;
Example: "predatory birds".

2. seeking to exploit or oppress others.
synonyms: exploitative, wolfish, rapacious, greedy, acquisitive, avaricious
Example: "I could see a predatory gleam in his eyes"

Note where the word comes from:
The Latin "praedator", in English meaning "plunderer".

And "plunderer" helps the reader understand and perhaps recognize what is happening.

Every plunderer understands.

[Feb 09, 2020] Trump demand for 50% of Iraq oil revenue sound exactly like a criminal mob boss

Highly recommended!
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tucker , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 12:27 pm GMT

I've heard and read about a claim that Trump actually called PM Abdul Mahdi and demanded that Iraq hand over 50 percent of their proceeds from selling their oil to the USA, and then threatened Mahdi that he would unleash false flag attacks against the Iraqi government and its people if he did not submit to this act of Mafia-like criminal extortion. Mahdi told Trump to kiss his buttocks and that he wasn't going to turn over half of the profits from oil sales.

This makes Trump sound exactly like a criminal mob boss, especially in light of the fact that the USA is now the world's #1 exporter of oil – a fact that the arrogant Orange Man has even boasted about in recent months. Can anyone confirm that this claim is accurate? If so, then the more I learn about Trump the more sleazy and gangster like he becomes.

I mean, think about it. Bush and Cheney and mostly jewish neocons LIED us into Iraq based on bald faced lies, fabricated evidence, and exaggerated threats that they KNEW did not exist. We destroyed that country, captured and killed it's leader – who used to be a big buddy of the USA when we had a use for him – and Bush's crime gang killed close to 2 million innocent Iraqis and wrecked their economy and destroyed their infrastructure. And, now, after all that death, destruction and carnage – which Trump claimed in 2016 he did not approve of – but, now that Trump is sitting on the throne in the Oval office – he has the audacity and the gall to demand that Iraq owes the USA 50 percent of their oil profits? And, that he won't honor and respect their demand to pull our troops out of their sovereign nation unless they PAY US back for the gigantic waste of tax payers money that was spent building permanent bases inside their country?

Not one Iraqi politician voted for the appropriations bill that financed the construction of those military bases; that was our mistake, the mistake of our US congress whichever POTUS signed off on it.

melpol , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:41 pm GMT
...Trump learned the power of the purse on the streets of NYC, he survived by playing ball with the Jewish and Italian Mafia. Now he has become the ultimate Godfather, and the world must listen to his commands. Watch and listen as the powerful and mighty crumble under US Hegemony.
World War Jew , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:42 pm GMT
Right TG, traditionally, as you said up there first, and legally too, under the supreme law of the land. Economic sanctions are subject to the same UNSC supervision as forcible coercion.

UN Charter Article 41: "The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations."

https://www.un.org/en/charter-united-nations/index.html

US "sanctions" require UNSC authorization. Unilateral sanctions are nothing but illegal coercive intervention, as the non-intervention principle is customary international law, which is US federal common law.

The G-192, that is, the entire world, has affirmed this law. That's why the US is trying to defund UNCTAD as redundant with the WTO (UNCTAD is the G-192's primary forum.) In any case, now that the SCO is in a position to enforce this law at gunpoint with its overwhelmingly superior missile technology, the US is going to get stomped and tased until it complies and stops resisting.

Charlie , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:53 pm GMT
@Tucker This idea that the US is any sort of a net petroleum exporter is just another lie.

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=268&t=6

In 2018 total US petroleum production was under 18 million barrels per day, total consumption north of 20 mmb/d. What does it matter if the US exports a bunch of super light fracked product the US itself can't refine if it turns around and imports it all back in again and then some.

The myths we tell ourselves, like a roaring economy that nevertheless generates a $1 trillion annual deficit, will someday come back to bite us. Denying reality is not a winning game plan for the long run.

Christophe GJ , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:00 pm GMT
I long tought that US foreign policies were mainly zionist agenda – driven, but the Venezuelan affair and the statements of Trump himself about the syrian oil (ta be "kept" (stolen)) make you think twice.

Oil seems to be at least very important even if it's not the main cause of middle east problems

So maybe it's the cause of illegal and cruel sanctions against Iran : Get rid of competitor to sell shale oil everywhere ?( think also of Norstream 2 here)

Watch out US of A. in the end there is something sometimes referred to as the oil's curse . some poor black Nigerians call oil "the shit of the devil", because it's such a problem – related asset Have you heard of it ? You get your revenues from oil easily, so you don't have to make effort by yourself. And in the end you don't keep pace with China on 5G ? Education fails ? Hmm
Becommig a primary sector extraction nation sad destiny indeed, like africans growing cafe, bananas and cacao for others. Not to mention environmental problems
What has happened to the superb Nation that send the first man on the moon and invented modern computers ?
Disapointment
Money for space or money for war following the Zio. Choose Uncle Sam !
Difficult to have both

OverCommenter , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:24 pm GMT
Everyone seems to forget how we avoided war with Syria all those years ago It was when John Kerry of all people gaffed, and said "if Assad gives up all his chemical weapons." That was in response to a reporter who asked "is there anything that can stop the war?" A intrepid Russian ambassador chimed in loud enough for the press core to hear his "OK" and history was averted. Thinking restricting the power of the President will stop brown children from dying at the hands of insane US foreign policy is a cope. "Bi-partisanship" voted to keep troops in Syria, that was only a few months ago, have you already forgotten? Dubya started the drone program, and the magical African everyone fawns over, literally doubled the remote controlled death. We are way past pretending any elected official from either side is actually against more ME war, or even that one side is worse than the other.

The problem with the supporters Trump has left is they so desperately want to believe in something bigger than themselves. They have been fed propaganda for their whole lives, and as a result can only see the world in either "this is good" or "this is bad." The problem with the opposition is that they are insane. and will say or do anything regardless of the truth. Trump could be impeached for assassinating Sulimani, yet they keep proceeding with fake and retarded nonsense. Just like keeping troops in Syria, even the most insane rabid leftoids are just fine with US imperialism, so long as it's promoting Starbucks, Marvel and homosex, just like we see with support for HK. That is foreign meddling no matter how you try to justify it, and it's not even any different messaging than the hoax "bring democracyhumanrightsfreedom TM to the poor Arabs" justification that was used in Iraq. They don't even have to come up with a new play to run, it's really quite incredible.

Just passing through , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:44 pm GMT
@OverCommenter A lot of right-wingers also see military action in the Middle East as a way for America to flex its muscles and bomb some Arabs. It also serves to justify the insane defence budget that could be used to build a wall and increase funding to ICE.

US politics has become incredibly bi-partisan, criticising Trump will get you branded a 'Leftist' in many circles. This extreme bipartisanship started with the Obama birth certificate nonsense which was being peddled by Jews like Orly Taitz, Philip J. Berg, Robert L. Shulz, Larry Klayman and Breitbart news – most likely because Obama was pursuing the JCPOA and not going hard enough on Iran – and continued with the Trump Russian agent angle.

Now many Americans cannot really think critically, they stick to their side like a fan sticks to their sports team.

Weston Waroda , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 9:11 pm GMT
The first person I ever heard say sanctions are acts of war was Ron Paul. The repulsive Madeleine Albright infamously said the deaths of 500,000 Iranian children due to US sanctions was worth it. She ought to be tried as a war criminal. Ron Paul ought to be Secretary of State.

[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

[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 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 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] I can't quite understand how gratuitous US piracy and adventurism in places on the globe beyond the knowledge and reach of most Americans could possibly be compared to Iranian actions securing their immediate regional borders and interests.

Highly recommended!
Jan 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Patroklos , Jan 6 2020 22:30 utc | 104

@Ian Dobbs and Dan

I can't quite understand how gratuitous US piracy and adventurism in places on the globe beyond the knowledge and reach of most Americans could possibly be compared to Iranian actions securing their immediate regional borders and interests. You can at least understand (even if you critique) a US preoccupation with Cuba over the years, or drug cartels in central America, or economic refugees in Mexico because they are close by and have a more less direct effect on the stability of the US. But they have no authority beyond that other than the ability to project violence and force. That's just simple imperialism. But now the US have whacked a made guy without any real reason (i.e. looking at you the wrong way is not a reason). Any mafia hood knows that, especially a New Yorker like Trump. So the climax of The Godfather comes to mind. It is staggeringly naive and frankly moronic to think that this is about good and evil. I bet Soleimani was no angel, but he wasn't whacked because he was a bad guy, but because he was extraordinarily effective military organizer. Star Wars has a lot to answer for in stunting the historical sensibilities of entire generations, but its underlying narrative is the only MSM playbook now. Even more staggering is the stupendous arrogance of the US belief in its 'rights' (based on thuggery and avarice), as though it were the only power in the world capable of establishing a moral order. The lesson in humility to come will be both long-awaited and go unheeded. Even the mob understand there has to be rules.

Alpi , Jan 6 2020 22:32 utc | 105

After reading Crooke and Federicci's articles, there is only one way to stop this madness blowing into a global conflict. Russia and China need to get involved whether they like it or not. Diplomacy and sideline analysis has run its course. This is their time to stamp their influence in the region and finish off the empire once and for all. Maybe that way, The Europeans will grow some minerals and become sovereign again.

Otherwise, China can kiss its Belt and Road goodbye and go into a recession with the loss of their investments up to this point and become slaves to the Americans again.

And Russia, the enemy du jour of Europe and US will be next and be crushed under economic sanctions and isolation.

This is the moment that stars are aligned . Russia and China should park their battle carriers off the Gulf and gives direct warning to Israel and US that any nuclear threat , tactical or otherwise, against anyone in the region is a non-starter.

I read so much about these two countries and that they will get involved. I have recited those lines myself. But after these events and how things are escalating, I cannot see how they cannot be involved. US is its most vulnerable and weakest with respect to economic, diplomatic and military conditions.

The time of condemnations, letters of objection to the UN and veto votes in UNSC is over. There is only one way to deal with a rogue nation and that is by force.

[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 08, 2020] If we assume that Pompeo persuaded Trump to order to kill a diplomatic envoy, Trump is now a dead man walking as after Iran responce Pelosi impeachment gambit now have legs

Highly recommended!
This is truly shocking: Trump assassinates diplomatic envoy he himself arranged for. . If the U.S. lured Soleimani to Iraq with a promise of negotiations with the Iraqis as mediators and then proceeded to kill him, surely that would be an impeachable offense. Particularly in view of the failure to brief Congress. If it was Saudi tricked Soleimani by getting Iraq to "mediate" (Iraq's prime minister was expecting a message by him on the mediation when he was assassinated), Saudi will get targeted.
The US changed the rules of engagement. They had decided to assassinate Soleimani when he was in Syria, having just returned from a short journey to Lebanon, before boarding a commercial flight from Damascus airport to Baghdad. The US killing machine was waiting for him to land in Baghdad and monitored his movements when he was picked up at the foot of the plane. The US hit the two cars, carrying Soleimani and the al-Muhandes protection team, when they were still inside the airport perimeter and were slowing down at the first check-point.
US forces will no longer be safe in Iraq outside protected areas inside the military bases where they are deployed. A potential danger or hit-man could be lurking at every corner; this will limit the free movement of US soldiers. Iran would be delighted were the Iraqi groups to decide to hit the American forces and hunt them wherever they are. This would rekindle memories of the first clashes between Jaish al-Mahdi and US forces in Najaf in 2004-2005.
Jan 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Tom , Jan 5 2020 15:55 utc | 16
Impeachment with GOP support could be just around the corner. And who lost Iraq??? He would be a dead man walking in that case. I can't see the evangelical crowd saving him. President Pence. Might have to get use to that.

Here is a link to a twitter account with a good video of massive crowds on the streets of Mashhad awaiting the arrival of Qassem Suleimani. Very powerful.

https://twitter.com/sonofnariman/status/1213792565075550208


Piotr Berman , Jan 5 2020 16:02 utc | 17

There will be no draining of any swamps. Trump-Kushner just another Bibi lackey.

Posted by: Jerry | Jan 5 2020 15:48 utc | 13

1. Draining swamps was a marker of progress in the past. >>Wiki:But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, researchers found that marshes and swamps "were worth billions annually in wildlife production, groundwater recharge, and for flood, pollution, and erosion control." This motivated the passage of the 1972 federal Water Pollution Control Act.<<

2. To recognize this vital role, parties should adopt more acquatic symbols. Caymans are a bit too similar to alligators, but, say, Alligators vs Snapping Turtles?

Sasha , Jan 5 2020 16:02 utc | 18
A video which says it all...
Gen. #Soleimani, enemy of Daesh and Trump!

Trump has threatened #Iran with destroying its cultural sites but that is not his only similarity with Daesh, they both hated General Soleimani.

https://twitter.com/PressTV/status/1213804505537679362


Bemildred , Jan 5 2020 16:02 utc | 19
Posted by: Tom | Jan 5 2020 15:55 utc | 16

Yes, it might just be that this debacle provides the extra impulse to get him removed. Can't say I can even imagine what that would look like, but there would seem to be a good argument now that he must be restrained somehow. Somebody needs to tell Pompeous to stop digging the hole deeper (shutup) too.

[Jan 06, 2020] I am tired of giving Trump a free pass, just because Hillary would have been worse. Trump needs to go.

Highly recommended!
Jan 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

TG , says: Show Comment January 4, 2020 at 1:07 am GMT

To some extent it is not relevant if Trump was lying during his campaign, or has been corrupted/coopted/fooled/pressured/played for a chump by the establishment. He said one thing and is doing another: that's the bottom line.

However: I note that after Barack Obama got elected, he immediately fired all of his populist advisors and hired Wall Streeters even before being sworn in. Obama was clearly lying up front.

Trump, however, initially did start moving in the direction he said he would, he kept his populist/nationalist advisors, and really did make actual moves to carry out his campaign promises. And the establishment went total nut job, he was a Russian agent, his populist advisers were targeted for legal actions, they were replaced with establishment advisors who hate him Trump was strong on stage berating a political opponent, but against establishment pressure he has turned out to be weak, caving in to "the Blob" at every turn.

Though again, a secondary point.

Cloak And Dagger , says: Show Comment January 4, 2020 at 1:47 am GMT
@Gleimhart Mantooso

Had she been elected, Hillary would already have started the neocon wet dream of a war with Iran.

While that may be true, I am tired of giving Trump a free pass, just because Hillary would have been worse. Being relatively less evil, or a different incarnation of evil, is still evil.

Frankly, impeachment was just a distraction to divert attention from the real play. The dagger at his throat is from far more malevolent foes who can wield both blackmail or death as the circumstances demand to get their way. The jewish mafia is far more dangerous than the Sicilian boys could ever hope to be. The latter learned from the former.

[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 Soleimani Assassination by Philip Giraldi

Highly recommended!
Jan 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

Donald Trump rode to victory in 2016 on a promise to end the useless wars in the Middle East, but he has now demonstrated very clearly that he is a liar. Instead of seeking detente, one of his first actions was to end the JCPOA nuclear agreement and re-introduce sanctions against Iran. In a sense, Iran has from the beginning been the exception to Trump's no-new-war pledge, a position that might reasonably be directly attributed to his incestuous relationship with the American Jewish community and in particular derived from his pandering to the expressed needs of Israel's belligerent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trump bears full responsibility for what comes next. The neoconservatives and Israelis are predictably cheering the result, with Mark Dubowitz of the pro-Israel Foundation for Defense of Democracies enthusing that it is "bigger than bin Laden a massive blow to the [Iranian] regime." Dubowitz, whose credentials as an "Iran expert" are dubious at best, is at least somewhat right in this case. Qassem Suleimani is, to be sure, charismatic and also very popular in Iran. He is Iran's most powerful military figure in the entire region, being the principal contact for proxies and allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. But what Dubowitz does not understand is that no one in a military hierarchy is irreplaceable. Suleimani's aides and high officials in the intelligence ministry are certainly more than capable of picking up his mantle and continuing his policies.

In reality, the series of foolish attacks initiated by the United States over the past week will only hasten the departure of much of the U.S. military from the region. The Pentagon and White House have been insisting that Iran was behind an alleged Kata'ib Hezbollah attack on a U.S. installation that then triggered a strike by Washington on claimed militia targets in Syria and also inside Iraq. Even though the U.S. military presence is as a guest of the Iraqi government, Washington went ahead with its attack even after the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said "no."

To justify its actions, Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense, went so far as to insist that "Iran is at war with the whole world," a clear demonstration of just how ignorant the White House team actually is. The U.S. government characteristically has not provided any evidence demonstrating either Iranian or Kata'ib involvement in recent developments, but after the counter-strike killed 26 Iraqi soldiers, the mass demonstrations against the Embassy in Baghdad became inevitable. The demonstrations were also attributed to Iran by Washington even though the people in the street were undoubtedly Iraqis.

Now that the U.S. has also killed Suleimani and Muhandis in a drone strike at Baghdad Airport, clearly accomplished without the approval of the Iraqi government, it is inevitable that the prime minister will ask American forces to leave. That will in turn make the situation for the remaining U.S. troops in neighboring Syria untenable. And it will also force other Arab states in the region to rethink their hosting of U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen due to the law of unanticipated consequences as it is now clear that Washington has foolishly begun a war that serves no one's interests.

The blood of the Americans, Iranians and Iraqis who will die in the next few weeks is clearly on Donald Trump's hands as this war was never inevitable and served no U.S. national interest. It will surely turn out to be a debacle, as well as devastating for all parties involved. And it might well, on top of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, be the long-awaited beginning of the end of America's imperial ambitions. Let us hope so!

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests


Curmudgeon , says: Show Comment January 3, 2020 at 7:50 pm GMT

The question – who benefits? – has not been raised.
There was no benefit to Kata'ib Hezbollah or the Iranians to attack an American installation.
There was no benefit to the Iranians to attack the US Embassy in Iraq.
There was no benefit to anyone in Iraq or Iran in the shooting of "peaceful demonstrators" in Iraq.
There is only one beneficiary to all of the above – Israel.

Mr. Giraldi is quite correct in laying this at Trump's feet and referring to his incestuous relationship regarding Israel. After all, it it Trump that pulled out of the JCPOA, and ultimately gave the order to strike. A previous strike was called off, what has changed? I understand Mr. Giraldi is a never Trumper, and that is his right. Often it is not what he says, but what he doesn't say, that is problematic. In this article, two things not expanded stand out to me. The author proclaims his support for the JCPOA.
What is never explained is that the JCPOA was a voluntary restriction, by Iran, on its rights as a signatory under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Former Reagan nuclear advisor Dr. Gordon Prather was writing about the illegality of forcing restrictions on Iran back in the days when "Bonkers" Bolton was foaming at the mouth for Bush 43 at the UN. Trump cancelling the deal was not the problem. The problem was maintaining the US's illegal position on Iran's rights under the NPT. Mr. Giraldi's opposition to the cancelling, without context, means he finds the US's illegal position on Iran's rights under an international treaty as acceptable.
The second issue is the intelligence surrounding the "alleged Kata'ib Hezbollah attack on a U.S. installation". This is an operation straight out of the I sraeli S ecret I ntelligence S ervice manual. It was acknowledged, by the military, 20 years ago Israel had the capability to stage an attack and blame it on "Arabs". Who were those involved in providing the "intelligence to Trump? How many of those people know/knew the intelligence to be questionable or outright false, but allowed it to pass on anyway without caveat? It is unknown whether Trump "asked the right questions" about the intelligence, and if it came from military sources, I suspect none at all, of substance, were asked. Again, yes Trump will, and should, be blamed, but how much of it involves the traitors within who will continue with the internal rot?

Philip Giraldi , says: Show Comment January 3, 2020 at 8:08 pm GMT
@Bragadocious You are one of the supreme a-holes on this site and I wish you would go somewhere else to spread your pollution. But I will answer your question: Soleimani was not near the embassy. He had flown into to town to attend the funerals of the 26 Iraqi militiamen that we Americans had killed earlier in the week!
Cloak And Dagger , says: Show Comment January 3, 2020 at 8:24 pm GMT
This is a watershed moment in our enslaved country, and the net is rife with speculations as to where this will lead to.

Personally, I don't believe that this will erupt in WW3, but the days of casual travel by high-ranking US officials is probably over in the near term. What follows will be millions of paper cuts and constant stress for our sons and daughters relegated to foreign lands in the war for Israel. Did you sign up your children to die for Israel? I didn't.

So what can we expect? A lot of our children are going to come back in body bags in the weeks ahead. The murder of the Iranian general with no proof of his hand in the recent death of an American mercenary in Iraq, is a war crime – but who's looking? We have become imitators of our BFF, Israel. Not only have we militarized our police force under their auspices, we flout International law and civil rights without even blinking once. Sure, many Iranians (and Iraqi) innocents will die in the process, but the silver lining is that this will start the dominoes falling and lead to our Vietnam-like exit from the ME with our tail between our legs, as we repeat the helicopter exits from the roofs of our embassies.

From all indications, the Iranian general was a revered man inside and outside Iran. He appears to have arrived in Baghdad to attend the funeral of the people killed in the airstrike by US/Israel. Killing people headed to funerals and weddings seems to have become our MO in recent years. No US president in the last few decades has had his hands clean. Out damned spot!

Meanwhile, who was that "killed" contractor? Is there a name attached to that speculatively fictitious soul whose alleged death was the rationale for the murder? It is a sign of the times that our first reaction to anything we hear from the PTB is one of skepticism and disbelief. This does not bode well for our rulers when the slaves reject whatever claims they make.

Sadly, the revolution will not begin in Pretoria, but in distant lands, far from the prying eyes of the sleeping citizenry of this land. As Allison Weir would say, if Americans knew what is being perpetrated in our name, they would realize that we are all Palestinians.

Trump has been compromised. Whether you believe that he is or isn't behind this, is irrelevant. Frankly, it doesn't really matter who the president is – he is a powerless puppet. I suspect that the deep state initiated this and then informed Trump post-facto. The absence of an immediate tweets (tweet with a US flag suggests speechlessness), followed by an announcement from the Pentagon that Trump had personally ordered the attack, instead of Trump boasting about it, does not fit his usual pattern. My guess is that he knows that going against the will of the deep state would result in his being JFK'ed.

I expect the following in the days ahead:
– There will be outrage in Iraq and demands for us to go home – which we won't
– Our children/cannon fodder will be targeted across the ME
– One or more US high officials or Military leaders will be assassinated, perhaps Graham or Pompeo or Adelson
– Israel will use the distraction to annex more Palestinian territory.
– Every US politician will blame the victims
– Israel and KSA will be walking around in adult diapers for the next shoe to drop

Take heart, the end is nigh. It is the witching hour. It is a replay of history as the empire shoots itself in the foot. Remember which country invented the game of Chess – it wasn't us or our European cousins.

TimeTraveller , says: Show Comment January 3, 2020 at 8:37 pm GMT
I read somewhere that the order for this assassination came from Trump himself. I read this as meaning that the order came from Israel and Trump's staff advised against it. I hope Iran takes this into account as they plan their retaliation.
The other interesting dynamic is that common folk are waking up to the ZOG on the one hand, and the government/media is doing their level best to slow this awakening. I wonder how this assassination and its aftermath fit into all of it.
Cloak And Dagger , says: Show Comment January 3, 2020 at 8:41 pm GMT
The one big fear I have in the near-term is that, with the expected retaliation from Iran, it is the perfect opportunity for Israel to launch a false flag somewhere and blame it on Iran, further turning up the heat.

As always, ask: cui bono?

[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 go in they aren't going to leave quickly) We're talking about half a million US troops, this simply isn't going to happen for multiple reasons, not least they need to amass at some form of base (probably Iraq – yeah right) maybe Kuwait? They'd just be a constant sitting target. Saker is correct in that if this goes down it's going to be an air campaign (will the Iranians use the S300s they have?) and possibly Navy supported. the Israelis will help out but in turn make themselves targets at home for rocket attacks. Again I can't see it happening, it would take too long to arrange plus from the moment it kicks off every US base, individual is just a target to the majority of anti US forces spread across the whole middle east. I expect back door diplomacy, probably to little effect, and a ham fisted token blitz of cruise missiles and drone bombs at Iranian infrastructure, sadly this will not work for the Americans, we will have a long running campaign on ME ground but also mass terrorist activity across the US and some of its allies. Its a best guess scenario but if that plays out whatever happens to Iran this war will be another long running death by a 1000 cuts for the US and will guarantee Trump does not get re-elected.
Whoever sold this to Trump (Bolton via Pompeo? Bibi?) has really lit the touch paper of ruin. Yes it stinks of Netanyahoo but it also reaks of full strength neocon, Bolton style. Trump is dumb enough to fall for it and obviously did.
Cosimo on January 05, 2020 , · at 5:38 pm EST/EDT
1. To read the Colonel Cassad website in English or any other language, just go to https://translate.yandex.com/ and then paste in the Cassad URL, which is given above but again, it's https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/ The really nice thing is that when you click on links, Yandex Translate automatically translates those links. Two problems, though. 1. For some unknown reason, Yandex always first translates Cassad as English-to-Russian, and then you have to click on a little window near the top left, to again request Russian-to-English and then it translates everything fine. I do not experience this problem when using Yandex on any other website. 2. Unlike what Benders-Lee intended when he invented the web browser, the "back button" almost doesn't work on Yandex Translate. So always right-click to open links in a new tab.

2. The US could probably carry out a large number of air attacks, but the Iranian response would be to destroy all the Gulf oil facilities AND everything worth bombing in Israel. This potential for offense is Iran's best defense, and, I think, the main reason why there hasn't been a war. Iran's air defense missiles are probably more effective than the lying MSM will admit, and might shoot down a large percentage of the humans and aluminum the US would throw at Iran, but it's a matter of attrition, and Iran would suffer grave damage. We can't rule out that that might be the plan since the Empire is run by psychopaths. A US Army elite training manual, from 2012 in Kansas, implied that by 2020, Europe would not be a major power. Perhaps they were thinking that Europe would go out of business from a lack of Persian Gulf oil.

3. As for a ground war against Iran, I don't think the US or even the US with the former NATO coalition, would have any hope and they know it. A real invasion force would require at least 250,000 troops, probably 500,000, maybe more. 80 million very determined and united Iranians, many of whom who don't fear martyrdom, would make the Vietnam War look like a bad picnic with fire ants . Yes, Vietnam had jungle for guerillas to hide behind, but South Vietnamese society was divided and many supported the Americans. Iran has no such division. Even the Arab province of Khuzestan would stand united, knowing how the Shiite Arabs are mistreated in the Eastern Province and in Kuwait.

Tom Welsh on January 05, 2020 , · at 5:31 pm EST/EDT
"They can then keep their forces in tightly fortified compounds "

eating and drinking what? When no Iraqi will even speak to them, let alone do anything for them.

Greifenburg on January 05, 2020 , · at 2:52 pm EST/EDT
Count me in as part of group two. As a former U.S. Army service member I can assure anyone reading this that this action is an historic strategic mistake. What the Saker has outlined above is very likely. There is most probably no way to walk back now. Who in the ME would negotiate with the U.S. Government? Their perfidy is well known. Many citizen in this country feel like they are held hostage by a government that doesn't represent their interests or feelings. I hope the people in the ME know this.
The Saker on January 05, 2020 , · at 2:57 pm EST/EDT
Since the folks in the ME know that the US is a "pretend democracy" they also realize that the people of the USA are just as oppressed by the AngloZionist regime as the people abroad. Frankly, I have traveled on a lot of countries and I have never come across anything like real hostility towards the US American people. The very same people who hate Uncle Shmuel very much enjoy US music, literature, movies, novel ideas, etc. I believe that the Empire is truly hated across the globe, but not the people of the USA.
Kind regards
The Saker
Melotte 22 on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:23 pm EST/EDT
As long as people of the USA tolerate their government criminal activities around the world, and this is happening for last 70 years, I don't agree with your comment. These crimes are commited in the name of people of the USA, who are doing nothing to prevent them. As for movies coming from US, most of them are propaganda about 'exceptional nation'. No thanks.
Auslander on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:09 pm EST/EDT
The United States of America is not a democracy, it is a constitutional republic. That being said, the fall elections are going to be of significant interest.

With kindest regards
Auslander

Nachtigall on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:18 pm EST/EDT
Couldn't agree with you less Saker. They share the spoils of war, generation after generation. From the killing of indigenous population to neocolonial resource extraction today, they get their cut. You cannot have it both ways, enjoying the spoils of war and hiding behind invalid rationalizations, pretending you have no-thingz to do with that.
The Saker on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:12 pm EST/EDT
Russian TV says that there were anti-war demonstrations in 80 (!) US cities.
I don't have the time to check whether this is true, but it sure sounds credible to me.
The Saker
Anonymous on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:24 pm EST/EDT
Greetings Mr. Saker,

This information is true. I personally took part in the march in Denver, Colorado. I would estimate we had about 500 people, which is a lot more than most anti-war protests have ever gotten in recent memory.

Do not count out the possibility of a sudden large and massive anti-war movement suddenly springing out of nowhere.

Unfortunately, I do not see how "peaceful" protests will accomplish anything on their own. Rioting may be necessary. The system needs to be shut down and commerce slow to a crawl so that nobody may ignore this.

The Saker on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:32 pm EST/EDT
Thank you for this precious confirmation!
And keep up the good fight!
Kind regards
The Saker
durlin on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:25 pm EST/EDT
anonymous, fellow Coloradoan here, would appreciate some info on where I need to look for the next one,. I will be there
Richard Sauder on January 05, 2020 , · at 2:55 pm EST/EDT
Yes. I am thinking about the Deagel.com numbers again. They're starting to come into better focus.

http://www.deagel.com/country/forecast.aspx

I agree that there will first be a period of violent confusion, followed by -- well, what sane person even wants to think about what possible horrors lie ahead?

The threat of one or more spectacular false flag attacks to further fan the flames would also appear to be a possibility.

Real evil has been unleashed, that is clear. The empire has decided to fight, and to fight very dirty.

Nikolai on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:08 pm EST/EDT
Wasn't the Saker working in the employ of the US or NATO when they attacked Srbija without cause? Because that was my understanding.

Actually, no. I was working at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research.
But thanks for showing everybody how ugly, petty and clueless ad hominem using trolls can be!
The Saker

Marko on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:20 pm EST/EDT
Looks like our Nikolai is a Canvas Otpor Belgrade troll.
Serbian girl on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:46 pm EST/EDT
Or perhaps not Serbian at all
Flabbergasted on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:11 pm EST/EDT
"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."

My personal observation is unfortunately the opposite. I think the population that is over 40 is probably leans 80% toward the TV-watching imbecile category with zero critical thinking abilities and exposure to four plus decades of propaganda. The population under 40 is largely too apathetic to have an opinion and unwilling to engage in research.

History will most likely play out in disaster resulting from a corrupt ruling class, systemic institutional rot, and brain-washed public not realizing what's happened.

Nikolai on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:23 pm EST/EDT
I will hazard a guess and say there are far more men than women in Group 1, and many more draft-age young adults of both sexes in Group 2.

But by and large a disturbing number of people in America regard world events as being akin to a football game, with Team A and Team B and a score to be kept. If things don't appear to be going well for their "team," they speak and behave irrationally, with crass statements like "nuke the whole place and turn it into a glass parking lot." Impressive, isn't it? Grown adults, comporting themselves like overindulged little children, always accustomed to getting their way – and displaying a terrifying willingness to set the whole house on fire when they don't.

It is a spiritual illness which pollutes the USA. Terrible things will have to happen before the society can become well, again

Anonymous on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:26 pm EST/EDT
Even if only 20% of the population join us, that will be enough. Because guess what? The TV-watching imbeciles are fat, lazy, and they won't do anything to support the government either, and they definitely aren't brave enough to get in the way of an angry mob
JJ on January 05, 2020 , · at 5:08 pm EST/EDT
About 50% of UK people opposed the UK intervention into Iraq .1 m people held marches on London and cities ..made no difference.
cdvision on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:39 pm EST/EDT
Its not just the US that's braindead. This from a once reputable newspaper in the UK

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/01/05/boris-johnson-calls-de-escalation-iran-us-killing-ofgeneral/

Its behind a paywall so you only get the first few paragraphs – frankly all you need. BUT its the comments that tell the story!

Pamela on January 05, 2020 , · at 5:11 pm EST/EDT
It's interesting to me, this comment of Sakers'. I have been thinking, with these revelations of the utter depravity and total lack of what was once called "honour " and treating the enemy with respect, of a few instances which seemed to show me that not all of America was like this.

There is a scene in the much loved but short lived** TV series "Firefly" in which the rebel "outsider" spaceship Captain offers a doctor on the run a berth with them. The Doctor says "but you dont like me. You could kill me in my sleep" to which the Captain replies "Son, you dont know me yet, So let me tell you know, If i ever try to kill you, you will be awake, you will be facing me, and you will be armed"

Exactly I thought. There is a Code of Honour by which battles used to be fought. This latest by US has shown how low it's Ruling Regime is, that is doesn't not see that. But from examples like the above, I gathered that there are people in America who still hold to it closely – and that's good to know.

** Short lived because it showed as it's heroes a group of people who lived outside the Ruling Tyrannical Regime, who had fought for Independence and lost, and now lived "by their wits" and not always according to law. Not surprising that the rulers of US weren't going to allow that to go to air!!

Nikolai on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:13 pm EST/EDT
Wasn't the Saker working in the employ of the US and NATO when they attacked and bombed Srbija without cause? Because that was my understanding.

Thanks, now we all know how good your "understanding" is!
The Saker :-P

Rufus Palmer on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:32 pm EST/EDT
Unfortunately I believe the largest group in the USA is the "nuke 'em group". All of my friends watch Fox and none have an understanding of the empire.

Sake thank you as always for your excellent work. What do you think Iran will attack first?

teranam13 on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:19 pm EST/EDT
Thanks Saker for this discussion/information space you provide when nothing is very trustworthy and on what is a holiday week end for you.

Two points:
Never underestimate the perfidy of the Kurds. They held back on the censure/withdrawal vote in the Iraqi\
parliament and are probably offering withdrawal airport space for US military.

And Agreed, about most Americans being absolutely horrified and ashamed.Even Alex Jones had to put Syrian Girl on and to post her on video.banned. One of his callers demanded that Alex apologize to his listening audience on "bended knee" for his support of Trump's attack on Iran. When Alex tried to schmooze
the irate caller -- The man started yelling -- "Who cares, Alex, who cares about Iran my neighbors have no jobs
and are dying from drug overdoses. who cares about Israel? Let them take care of themselves."

Trump has sealed his own fate on many levels and ours her in looneylandia. It is said that a nation gets the leadership it deserves. We are about to become a nation of the yard-sale.

Craig Mouldey on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:27 pm EST/EDT
Whew, this is something to chew on and try to digest. That first point jumped right off the page. General Soleimani was on an official diplomatic mission, requested by the U.S.! They set him up and were waiting for him to get in his car at the airport and go onto the road.
The entire world will know there is no way to justify this. It is just as ugly as the public murder of JFK. They have zero credibility in all they say and do. It will be interesting to see who supports what is coming and who have gotten the message from this murder and have decided they cannot support this beast.
Clarence on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:33 pm EST/EDT
How many missiles does the us have in the middle east?
How many air defense missiles does have iran?
Does iran have the ability to destroy us airbases to prevent aircraft from attacking iranian territory? That would be my first move: destroying the ennemy s fighter jets while they are still on the ground.
How many missiles does iran can launch ? How far can they hit?
I think these are important questions if we want to make a good assessment of the situation
One Tribe on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:36 pm EST/EDT
Thank you for the continuing courageous, fact-based reporting.

All as-yet-unenslaved-minds of the oppressed people living under the auspices of the empire share the horror of what has happened, made worse so, for I personally, learning the evil duplicity of the 'fake' diplomacy of the masters of the U.S.A. administration.
If there had been any credibility whatsoever, left for the U.S.A. diplomatic integrity, it is now completely murdered.

I should like to point out, yet again, the perverse obviousness of the utter subordination of the utterly testiclesless america n ' leadership ' by the affiliates, dually loyal extra-nationals, aligned to the quasi-nation of pychopathic hatred against humanity.

In spite of, and now increasingly because of, the absurd perception management/propaganda agencies, completely controlled by this aforementioned affiliation, and their ongoing absurd efforts, people are becoming aware of the ultimate source of the hatred and agenda we re witnessing in the ME, and indeed, in ever country under the auspices of the empire.
It is becoming impossible to cover, even for the most timid followers of the citizens of empire-controlled nation states.
The war continues against the non-subliminated citizens, and will certainly escalate as the traction of the perception-management techniques have been pushed way over their best-before date.

Even not wanting to know this, people are becoming aware of it.

I urge all those self-identifying with this affiliation of secretive hatred against humanity to disavow either publicly, or privately, this collective of hatred.
The recusement of the fifth-column will undermine these machinations.

It is now the time to realize that no promise of superior upward mobility, in exchange for activities supporting the affiliation, is worth the stark prospect of complete destruction of the biosphere.

Paul23 on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:38 pm EST/EDT
Saker: what makes you think it will just be a couple of days of bombing? I would have thought they would set up a no fly zone then fly over that country permanently blowing the shit out of any military thing on the ground until the gov collapses.

Iran doesn't have the ability to prevent this & running a country under these conditions is impossible.

Randy Brady on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:10 pm EST/EDT
Set up a no-fly zone over Iran? Iran is well aware of American air-power. They have a multi-layer air defense. And I wouldn't be surprised that the Iranian's are capable of taking out U.S. satellites.

Iran knows their enemy. They have been preparing for conflict with the U.S. for 40 years. This is a sophisticated, and highly advanced nation, with brilliant leadership. They understand what their weaknesses are, and what their strengths are.

The wild cards are threefold: Russia. China. North Korea. If one wants to think about the possible asymmetrical capabilities of those three, let alone the pure power their militaries, it boggles the mind.

Prediction: The U.S. stands down on orders of their own military. People like John Bolton quietly pass away in their sleep.

Kilombo Zumbi on January 05, 2020 , · at 5:02 pm EST/EDT
The only no fly zone to be implemented will be on all american warplanes over Iran and Iraq. Do you remember the multimillion drone that went down? Multipliy it by hundreds of manned planes. God, how delusional can you be?!!!
You have a fighting force that is a disgrace composed by little girls that start screeming once they get bullets flying over their heads. You have aircraft battle groups that are sitting ducks waitng to go to the bottom of the sea. Wake up and get your pills, man!
Tom Welsh on January 05, 2020 , · at 5:39 pm EST/EDT
Paul23, from where will the aircraft take off to implement your "no-fly zone"? Any air base within 2,000 km would be destroyed by a shower of cruise missiles and possibly drones.

Any aircraft carrier within 2,000 km likewise.

Mike from Jersey on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:45 pm EST/EDT
File this next article under "Just when you thought that things couldn't get any crazier."

Pompeo is slamming Europe for not being supportive of the American murders in the Middle East.

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/europeans-havent-been-helpful-after-suleimani-killing-pompeo-slams-allies-not

Nussiminen on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:48 pm EST/EDT
It is Group 1 -- loud, reactionary, extremely vulgar, militant parasites -- which defines the US national character. Exceptional and indispensable simply mean "entitled to other peoples' natural resources and labour output". Trying to reason with these lowlives is a waste of time. Putin understands this; hence the new Russian weapons. The latter will be needed very soon.
Mike from Jersey on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:08 pm EST/EDT
I am an American and I am not sure that is true.

Americans are a good people but America is one of the most heavily propagandized nations in the world. The media is corrupt. The educational systems teach a sanitized version of history. But that is only a part of it.

Pro-Military propaganda is everywhere. Even before the Superbowl, jet bombers fly over the stadium – as if Militarism constituted a basic American value. At Airports, "Military Personnel" are given preferential boarding. At retail stores customers are asked to make donations to "military families." College football games are dedicated to "Military Appreciation Day." High Schools work in unison with Military Recruiters to steer students into the Military. Even playground facilities for children that have video displays display pro military messages. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Most of this propaganda is paid for out of the obscene military budget. The average citizen doesn't have a chance.

Americans are a good people, if they really knew what was being done in their name, they would put a stop to it.

Nussiminen on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:37 pm EST/EDT
Militant parasites do live in a world of total lies, deception, and delusion but never at the expense of their survival instincts. US imperial coercion, mayhem, and murder globally are absolutely crucial to the American way of life, and the 99% know it. Their living standards would drop enormously without the imperial loot. Thus, they dearly yearn for all the repression, war, and chauvinism they vote for and more.
Steki on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:53 pm EST/EDT
One thing is telling, at least for me. Who the f in the right state of mind kills other state's official and then admits of doing it?!? The common sense sense tells me that you do something and to avoid bigger consequences you stay quet and deny everything. Just like CIA is doing. Trump just put US military personnel in grave danger. We know how they accused Manning for showing the to the world US war crimes. They put him in the jail for what Trump just did. But, I cannot believe that they are that much stupid. If US does not want war, as Trump is saying, they could have done this and then blame someone else because now it has been shown that they wanted to "talk" to Iran, as Iraqis PM said. At least, US brought new meaning to the word "talk"
Rostislav_Velka_Morava on January 05, 2020 , · at 3:56 pm EST/EDT
Russia will not allow this, and will put their foot down.
Hussan Carim on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:00 pm EST/EDT
The most damaging, no most devestating, assymetrical attack on the US would be a 'non violent' attack.

Let me quickly explain.

It has been well known since the exposure of the man behind the curtain during the great financial crisis of 2007-08 that all Human operations – all Human life in fact – is financialised in some way.

Some ways being so sophisticated or 'subtle' that barely 1 person in 1000 is even aware, much less capable of understanding them, much less the financial control grid (and state / deepstate power base) which empoverishs them and enslaves them to an endless cycle of aquiring and spending 'money'.

Look deeply and the wise will see how 'Human resources' (as opposed to Human Beings) are herded like cattle to be worked on the farm, 'fleeced', or slaughtered as appropriate to the money masters.

We have been programmed, trained, and conditioned to call 'currency units' (dollar/euro/pound/yuan, etc) 'money', when they are actually nothing of the sort, they are state or bank issued money substitutes.

In the middle east and north africa some leaders recognised this determined how to escape slavery and subjegation. They attempted to field this knowledge like an economic-nuke, but without the massive protection required, and they were destroyed by the empire – Sadam Hussain with his oil for Gold (and oil for Euros) program, and Col. Gadaffi of Libya with his North African 'Gold Dinar' and 'Silver Durham' Islamic money program.

To cut a very long story short – the evil empire depends upon all nations and peoples excepting thier pieces of paper currency units as 'real' money – which the empire print / create in unlimited quantities to fund thier war machine and global progrram of domination.

All financial markets are either denominated or settled in US Dollars (or are at least convertable).

All Nations Central Banks (except Irans I believe) are linked via various US Dollar exchange / liquidity mechanisms, and all 'settle' in US Dollars.

Currently all nations use US controlled electronic banking communications / exchange / tranfer systems (swift being the most well known).

Would it therefore not make sence to go for the very beating heart of the Beast – the US financial system?

The most powerful attack against the empire would therefore be against this power base – the global reserve currency – the US dollar – and the US ability to print any quantity of it (or create digits on a screen and call them 'Dollar Units').

It would be pointless trying to fight an emnemy capable of printing for free enough currency to buy every resource (including peoples lives) – unless that super ability was destroyed or disrupted.

Example of a massive nuclear equivilent attack on the beast would be an internal and major disrruption of interbank electronic communications (at all levels from cash machine operation and card payment readers up to interbank transfers and federal banking operations).

Shut down the US banking system and you shut down the US war machine.

Not only that you shut down the US ability to buy resources and bribe powerful leaders – which means they wont be able to recover from such a blow quickly.

Shutting down banking and electronic payments of all kinds would cause the US people – particularly those currently enjoying bread and circus distraction and pacification – to tear appart thier own communities, and each other, as the spoiled and gready fight for the remaining resources, including food and fuel.

The 'grid' has been studied in great depth by both Russia and China (and Israel as part of thier neo-sampson option) and we can therefore deduce that Iran has some knowledge of how it works and where the weak links are (and not just the undersea optical cables and wireless nodes).

I, and a thousand other people have always said, the best, perhaps only way to defeat the US and end its reign of terror on this Earth is to take away its ability to create out of thin air the Worlds global reserve currency – the US Dollar.

Reducing the US to an empoverished 3rd world state by taking its check book away would be a worthy and lasting revenge and humiliation.

Amon Ra on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:09 pm EST/EDT
" I, and a thousand other people have always said, the best, perhaps only way to defeat the US and end its reign of terror on this Earth is to take away its ability to create out of thin air the Worlds global reserve currency – the US Dollar. "

No, the best way would be for each nation to ditch the intertwined, privately ( Rothschild ) controlled central banks, and to return to printing their own money. Anything, short of that will just perpetuate the same system from a different home base ( nation ), most likely China next. This virus can jump hosts and it will given a chance.

Auslander on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:03 pm EST/EDT
Who knows what will happen, but an actual boots on the ground invasion of Iran will not happen. Iran is not Irak and things have changed since that war.

US does not have 6 to 12 months to gather it's forces and logistics for an invasion (remember, the election is coming), plus US no longer has the heavy lift assets to do this. Toss in the fact that Iran is now on a war footing and has allies in the general AO, hired RoRo's and other logistics and supply assets will be targets before they get anywhere near the ports or beaches to off load. Plus, you can kiss oil goodbye, Iran will close the straights a nanosecond after the first bomb is in the air.

An air assault such as Serbia will be very expensive, Iran will fight back from the first bomb if not before, and Iran has a pretty viable air defense system and the missiles to make life miserable for any cluster of troops and logistics within roughly 300 kilometers of the borders if not longer. Look at a map. There is a long border between Iran and Irak, but as such and considering the terrain, any viable ground attack has to come from Irak territory. With millions of Iraki's seething at what Uncle Sugar just did and millions of Iranians seething at what Uncle Sugar just did, any invading troops will not be greeted with showers spring blossoms. To paraphrase a quote, 'You will be safe nowhere, our land will be your grave.'

Toss in the fact that an invasion of Irak, if even half successful, will put American troops on a war footing perilously close to Russian territory and possibly directly on the Russian Lake, aka Caspian Sea, and sovereign territory of Russia. Won't happen, VVP will not allow it.

Ergo, in spite of all the bluster and chest beating, at best all Foggy Bottom can do is bomb, bomb some more and bomb again. The cost in airframes and captured pilots will be a disaster and if RoRo's and other logistic heavy lift assets or bases are hit, the body bags coming back to Dover will be of numbers that can not be hidden as they are today with explanations that the dead are victims of training accidents or air accidents.

Foggy Bottom, and Five Points with Langley, have painted themselves in to a corner and unfortunately for them, (and it's within the realm of possibility that Five Points egged Trump on for this deal regardless of their protestations of innocence and surprise) they are now in a case of put up or shut up. As a point of honor they will continue down the spiral path of open warfare and war is like a cow voiding it's watery bowels, it splatters far beyond the intended target.

As my friend said a few years ago, damn you, damn your eyes, damn your souls, damn you back to Satan whose spawn you are. Go back to your fetid master and leave us in peace.

Auslander
Author http://rhauslander.com/

Never The Last One, paper back edition. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521849056 A deep look in to Russia, her culture and her Armed Forces, in essence a look at the emergence of Russian Federation.

An Incident On Simonka. paperback edition. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1696160715 NATO Is Invited To Leave Sevastopol, One Way Or The Other.

Auslander on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:19 pm EST/EDT
"Toss in the fact that an invasion of Irak, if even half successful," should read:

"Toss in the fact that an invasion of Iran, if even half successful,"

It's late and this old man is tired. More tomorrow.

Auslander

Anonymous on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:04 pm EST/EDT
"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."

-Al-Shabaab is a salafist terror group

Observer on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:17 pm EST/EDT
Saker, Some of us might be curious to know what your experience with the UN Institute for Disarmament Research informs you about the imminent Virginia gun bans and confiscations planned for this year and next. Can Empire afford to fight an actual shooting war on two fronts, one externally against Iraq/Iran and the second internally against its own people, some of whom will paradoxically be called away to fight on the first front? Perhaps the two conflicts could become conjoined as Uncle Shmuel mislabels every peaceful gun owner who just wants to be left alone as a foreign enemy-sympathizer and combatant by default, thereby turning brother against brother in a bloody prolonged hell in the regions immediately around Washington DC? Could the Empire *truly* be that suicidal?
Hajduk on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:20 pm EST/EDT
'Mr. Trump, the Gambler! Know that we are near you, in places that don't come to your mind. We are near you in places that you can't even imagine. We are a nation of martyrdom. We are the nation of Imam Hussein You are well aware of our power and capabilities in the region. You know how powerful we are in asymmetrical warfare You know that a war would mean the loss of all your capabilities. You may start the war, but we will be the ones to determine its end '
Gen. Soleimani (2018)
Bikkin on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:31 pm EST/EDT
Hello Saker,
I would like to ask you a question.
According to the Russian nuclear doctrine "The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction against itself or its allies and also in response to large-scale aggression involving conventional weapons in situations that are critical for the national security of the Russian Federation and its allies."
In your opinion does Russia consider Iran such an ally? Will Russia shield Iran against USAn / Israeli nuclear strikes? In case of an imminent nuclear strike on Iran is Russia (and possibly others) going to issue a nuclear ultimatum to the would-be aggressor? And in case an actual nuclear attack on Iran happens is Russia going to retaliate / deter further attacks with its own nukes?
What is your opinion?
One thing: please do not start explaining why the above scenario is completely unthinkable, unrealistic and why it would never ever happen. I need your opinion on the possible events if such an attack does take place or it is about to happen. I do not need reasons why it would not happen; I need your opinion what might take place if it does happen. If you cannot answer my question, have no opinion or simply do not want to answer it please let me know it.
In case there is a formal commitment by Russia – one I know not of – when, where was it made?
Thanks in advance.
Nachtigall on January 05, 2020 , · at 5:27 pm EST/EDT
2nd that, but be polite to the Saker. Ask nicely next time, like someone who is civilized.

Thanks you for your indispensable work, dear Saker!

Marko on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:32 pm EST/EDT
I think USA still has nuclear option.
They will not hesitate to use it on Iran if Israel is in danger.
So, I think Iran shall be defeated anyway, as USA is much stronger.

Wrong. If the US uses nukes, then this will secure the total victory of Iran.
The Saker

Nachtigall on January 05, 2020 , · at 5:31 pm EST/EDT
How does this secure a total victory, dear Saker? Please help my to understand this: Nukes on every major city, industrial site, infrastructure with pos. millions dead – how is this a victory?
robert on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:41 pm EST/EDT
So, how many hostages for Iran are in Iraq now?
Petro-G on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:44 pm EST/EDT
I think that if Iran were to launch some devastating missiles into Israel, either a US ship/submarine or Israel will launch a nuclear bomb into Iran. The US knows there is nothing to be gained by a ground invasion. If we [the US] were to start launching missiles into Iran, Iran would rightfully be launching sophisticated arms back toward US ships and Israel and the US can't stand for that. We are good at dishing it out, but lousy at receiving it.

I can only believe we assassinated Solieman [apologies] because it is the writhing of a dying petrodollar. The US is desperate. But I don't understand how going to war is supposed to help?

Stand Easy on January 05, 2020 , · at 4:56 pm EST/EDT
Some short comments on the strategic blunder made by US.

Meantime, global ramifications are being felt. View from China, one of the biggest consumers of ME oil:

https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1175782.shtml

and some mind-reading from a HK based rag:

"Beijing's ties with Tehran are crucial to its energy and geopolitical strategies, and with Moscow also in the mix, a broader conflagration is a real possibility"

https://www.asiatimes.com/2020/01/article/could-china-take-irans-side-in-a-war-with-us/

Japan had planned to send some military hardware to the ME just before the new year but Gen Soleimani's murder may change the calculus.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/01/03/national/japan-sdf-assassination-iran-qassem-soleimani/#.XhJYxfLmjN4

Last but not least, Happy Nativity to all Orthodox Christians (thanks for the beautifully illustrated Orthodox calendar, The Saker.)
Let us all pray for peace.

Kent on January 05, 2020 , · at 5:33 pm EST/EDT
"(thanks for the beautifully illustrated Orthodox calendar, The Saker.)"

Credits for the calendar(s) should go to one of our in house Artists and poets Ioan.

You obviously do not visit the Cafe' very often, do you?

Regards
Kent

Wendy on January 05, 2020 , · at 5:24 pm EST/EDT
Trump is the King of the South. Killing under a flag of parley is a rare thing these days and is the reason why Trump will end up going to war with no allies by his side just like the path mapped oit for him in Daniel.

Analysis sans eschatology is Onism.

Tom on January 05, 2020 , · at 5:32 pm EST/EDT
It's not a blunder.
Trump's goals pre-assassination:
1) withdraw US troops from the ME ("Fortress America") and
2) placate Israel
This is how it is done. Not a direct "hey guys, we have to bring the boys home." Trump tried that and got smashed by the Deep State and Israel. Instead, he is going to force the Islamic world to do the talking for him by refusing to host our pariah army (that's all they have to do, not destroy a major US base or two). Then even the Deep State will admit it's a lost cause. He can say he did all he could while achieving his goals.
As The Saker pointed out, the troops being sent now are to evacuate, not to conquer Tehran. Next time this year the US will have its troops home and Trump will be reelected

[Jan 05, 2020] Trump is wholly responsible for his own actions, but he -- just like the Ayatollah -- is being pushed in a direction where it's impossible to back down and still "save face". Neither men can afford to do so by Andrew Korybko

Highly recommended!
Looks like Trump administration buried the Treaty of non-proliferation once and for all. From now on only a country with nuclear weapons can be viewed as a sovereign country.
Notable quotes:
"... To remind the reader once more, however, none of this would be happening had Iran not abandoned its "nuclear ambiguity" by agreeing to the 2015 Rouhani-Obama deal, with that event in hindsight being the tripwire that provoked the American military into wantonly escalating tensions with Iran ..."
"... Because they realized that the maximum costs that the Islamic Republic could inflict on it in response to their actions could be "manageable". ..."
"... The lesson to be learned from all of this is that the possession of nuclear weapons safeguards a country's sovereignty by enabling it to inflict "unmanageable"/"unacceptable" costs on its foes and thus deter their aggression, failing which leaders on both sides can be manipulated into a serious crisis. ..."
Jan 05, 2020 | astutenews.com

Astute News

Trump is wholly responsible for his own actions, but he -- just like the Ayatollah -- is being pushed in a direction where it's impossible to back down and still "save face". Neither men can afford to do so, which makes it likely that a lot more people than just Maj. Gen. Soleimani might be about to die.

To remind the reader once more, however, none of this would be happening had Iran not abandoned its "nuclear ambiguity" by agreeing to the 2015 Rouhani-Obama deal, with that event in hindsight being the tripwire that provoked the American military into wantonly escalating tensions with Iran (despite believing that they're doing so in "self-defense)

Because they realized that the maximum costs that the Islamic Republic could inflict on it in response to their actions could be "manageable".

The lesson to be learned from all of this is that the possession of nuclear weapons safeguards a country's sovereignty by enabling it to inflict "unmanageable"/"unacceptable" costs on its foes and thus deter their aggression, failing which leaders on both sides can be manipulated into a serious crisis.


By Andrew Korybko
Source: One World

[Jan 04, 2020] Trump Is Doing the Bidding of Washington's Most Vile Cabal

Highly recommended!
Now we understand that it was Adelson money talking for Trump, when he campaigned in 2016 on the platform of hostility of Iran and abandonment of the nuclear deal.
While derail who and how ordered the assassination, one thing it clear: Trump no longer deserve re-election. He is yet another Hillary now. Any of Dem opponents excluding Biden, who is dead fish in any case, are better then Trump.
Notable quotes:
"... Trump campaigned on belligerence toward Iran and trashing the Obama-led Iran nuclear deal, and he has followed through on those threats, filling his administration with the most vile, hawkish figures in the U.S. national security establishment. After appointing notorious warmonger John Bolton as national security adviser, Trump fired him last September. But despite reports that Trump had soured on Bolton because of his interventionist posture toward Iran, Bolton's firing merely opened the door for the equally belligerent Mike Pompeo to take over the administration's Iran policy at the State Department. ..."
"... Now Pompeo is the public face of the Suleimani assassination, while for his part, the fired Bolton didn't want to be left out of the gruesome victory lap: ..."
"... Trump, who had no idea who Qassim Suleimani was until it was explained to him live on the radio by conservative journalist Hugh Hewitt in 2015, didn't seem to need many details to know that he wanted to crush the Iranian state. ..."
"... Much as the neoconservatives came to power in 2001 after the election of George W. Bush with the goal of regime change in Iraq, Trump in his bumbling way assembled a team of extremists who viewed him as their best chance of wiping the Islamic Republic of Iran off the map. ..."
"... Assassination has been a central component of U.S. policy for many decades, though it has been whitewashed and normalized throughout history, most recently with Obama's favored term, "targeted killings." ..."
"... While many Democratic politicians are offering their concerns about the consequences of Suleimani's assassination, they are prefacing it with remarks about how atrocious Suleimani was. Framing his assassination that way ultimately benefits the extremist cabal of foreign policy hawks who agitated for this very moment to arrive. There's no justification for assassinating foreign officials, including Suleimani. This is an aggressive act of war, an offensive act committed by the U.S. on the sovereign territory of a third country, Iraq. This assassination and the potential for a war it raises are, unfortunately, consistent with more than half a century of U.S. aggression against Iran and Iraq. ..."
"... Five months ago, California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have prohibited this very type of action, but it was removed from the final bill. "Any member who voted for the NDAA -- a blank check -- can't now express dismay that Trump may have launched another war in the Middle East," Khanna wrote on Twitter after Suleimani's assassination. "My Amendment, which was stripped, would have cut off $$ for any offensive attack against Iran including against officials like Soleimani." ..."
"... Trump is responsible for whatever comes next. But time and again, the worst foreign policy atrocities of his presidency have been enabled by the very politicians who claim to want him removed from office ..."
Jan 03, 2020 | theintercept.com

While the media focus for three years of the Trump presidency has centered around "Russia collusion" and impeachment, the most dangerous collusion of all was happening right out in the open -- the Trump/Saudi/Israel/UAE drive to war with Iran .

On August 3, 2016 -- just three months before Donald Trump would win the Electoral College vote and ascend to power -- Blackwater founder Erik Prince arranged a meeting at Trump Tower. For decades, Prince had been agitating for a war with Iran and, as early as 2010, had developed a fantastical proposal for using mercenaries to wage it.

At this meeting was George Nader, an American citizen who had a long history of being a quiet emissary for the United States in the Middle East. Nader, who had also worked for Blackwater and Prince, was a convicted pedophile in the Czech Republic and is facing similar allegations in the United States. Nader worked as an adviser for the Emirati royals and has close ties to Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince. Join Our Newsletter Original reporting. Fearless journalism. Delivered to you. I'm in There was also an Israeli at the Trump Tower meeting: Joel Zamel. He was there supposedly pitching a multimillion-dollar social media manipulation campaign to the Trump team. Zamel's company, Psy-Group, boasts of employing former Israeli intelligence operatives. Nader and Zamel were joined by Donald Trump Jr. According to the New York Times, the purpose of the meeting was "primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months, past the election and well into President Trump's first year in office."

One major common goal ran through the agendas of all the participants in this Trump Tower meeting: regime change in Iran. Trump campaigned on belligerence toward Iran and trashing the Obama-led Iran nuclear deal, and he has followed through on those threats, filling his administration with the most vile, hawkish figures in the U.S. national security establishment. After appointing notorious warmonger John Bolton as national security adviser, Trump fired him last September. But despite reports that Trump had soured on Bolton because of his interventionist posture toward Iran, Bolton's firing merely opened the door for the equally belligerent Mike Pompeo to take over the administration's Iran policy at the State Department.

Now Pompeo is the public face of the Suleimani assassination, while for his part, the fired Bolton didn't want to be left out of the gruesome victory lap:

Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qassem Soleimani. Long in the making, this was a decisive blow against Iran's malign Quds Force activities worldwide. Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran.

-- John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 3, 2020
Trump, who had no idea who Qassim Suleimani was until it was explained to him live on the radio by conservative journalist Hugh Hewitt in 2015, didn't seem to need many details to know that he wanted to crush the Iranian state.

Much as the neoconservatives came to power in 2001 after the election of George W. Bush with the goal of regime change in Iraq, Trump in his bumbling way assembled a team of extremists who viewed him as their best chance of wiping the Islamic Republic of Iran off the map.

While Barack Obama provided crucial military and intelligence support for Saudi Arabia's scorched earth campaign in Yemen, which killed untold numbers of civilians, Trump escalated that mass murder in a blatant effort to draw Iran militarily into a conflict. That was the agenda of the gulf monarchies and Israel, and it coincided neatly with the neoconservative dreams of overthrowing the Iranian government. As the U.S. and Saudi Arabia intensified their military attacks in Yemen, Iran began to insert itself more and more forcefully into Yemeni affairs, though Tehran was careful not to be tricked into offering this Trump/Saudi/UAE/Israel coalition a justification for wider war.

Protesters shout slogans against the United States and Israel as they hold posters with the image of top Iranian commander Qassim Suleimani, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a demonstration in the Kashmiri town of Magam on Jan. 3, 2020.

Photo: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images The assassination of Suleimani -- a popular figure in Iran who is viewed as one of the major drivers of ISIS's defeat in Iraq -- was one of only a handful of actions that the U.S. could have taken that would almost certainly lead to a war with Iran. This assassination, reportedly ordered directly by Trump, was advocated by the most dangerous and extreme players in the U.S. foreign policy establishment with that exact intent.

Assassination has been a central component of U.S. policy for many decades, though it has been whitewashed and normalized throughout history, most recently with Obama's favored term, "targeted killings." The U.S. Congress has intentionally never legislated the issue of assassination. Lawmakers have avoided even defining the word "assassination." While every president since Gerald Ford has upheld an executive order banning assassinations by U.S. personnel, they have each carried out assassinations with little to no congressional outcry. Read Our Complete Coverage The Iran Cables In 1976, following Church Committee recommendations regarding allegations of assassination plots carried out by U.S. intelligence agencies, Ford signed an executive order banning "political assassination." Jimmy Carter subsequently issued a new order strengthening the prohibition by dropping the word "political" and extending it to include persons "employed by or acting on behalf of the United States." In 1981, Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12333, which remains in effect today. The language seems clear enough: "No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination."

As I wrote in August 2017, reflecting on our Drone Papers series from two years earlier, "The Obama administration, by institutionalizing a policy of drone-based killings of individuals judged to pose a threat to national security -- without indictment or trial, through secret processes -- bequeathed to our political culture, and thus to Donald Trump, a policy of assassination, in direct violation of Executive Order 12333 and, moreover, the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. To date, at least seven U.S. citizens are known to have been killed under this policy, including a 16-year-old boy. Only one American, the radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, was said to have been the 'intended target' of a strike."

There's no justification for assassinating foreign officials, including Suleimani.
While many Democratic politicians are offering their concerns about the consequences of Suleimani's assassination, they are prefacing it with remarks about how atrocious Suleimani was. Framing his assassination that way ultimately benefits the extremist cabal of foreign policy hawks who agitated for this very moment to arrive. There's no justification for assassinating foreign officials, including Suleimani. This is an aggressive act of war, an offensive act committed by the U.S. on the sovereign territory of a third country, Iraq. This assassination and the potential for a war it raises are, unfortunately, consistent with more than half a century of U.S. aggression against Iran and Iraq.

For three years, many Democrats have told the country that Trump is the gravest threat to a democratic system we have faced. And yet many leading Democrats have voted consistently to give Trump unprecedented military budgets and surveillance powers.

Five months ago, California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have prohibited this very type of action, but it was removed from the final bill. "Any member who voted for the NDAA -- a blank check -- can't now express dismay that Trump may have launched another war in the Middle East," Khanna wrote on Twitter after Suleimani's assassination. "My Amendment, which was stripped, would have cut off $$ for any offensive attack against Iran including against officials like Soleimani."

Trump is responsible for whatever comes next. But time and again, the worst foreign policy atrocities of his presidency have been enabled by the very politicians who claim to want him removed from office . Wait! Before you go on about your day, ask yourself: How likely is it that the story you just read would have been produced by a different news outlet if The Intercept hadn't done it? Consider what the world of media would look like without The Intercept. Who would hold party elites accountable to the values they proclaim to have? How many covert wars, miscarriages of justice, and dystopian technologies would remain hidden if our reporters weren't on the beat? The kind of reporting we do is essential to democracy, but it is not easy, cheap, or profitable. The Intercept is an independent nonprofit news outlet. We don't have ads, so we depend on our members -- 35,000 and counting -- to help us hold the powerful to account. Joining is simple and doesn't need to cost a lot: You can become a sustaining member for as little as $3 or $5 a month. That's all it takes to support the journalism you rely on.

[Jan 04, 2020] Will Trump welcome the ejection of the US from Iraq - He should by Colonel Lang

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Somehow the Ziocons around Trump have forgotten that the present state of Iraq refused to yield to Obama's demands for a SOFA and in effect expelled the US from the country. ..."
"... The Iraqi parliament is going to vote in emergency session over the issue of the death of al-Muhandis. Will they vote to expel the US from their country? ..."
"... What a lot of commentators seem to overlook is that America has basically declared war on Iraq, while our soldiers are hosted on joint bases with Iraqi soldiers. ..."
"... "We need to get out of Iraq and Syria now. That is the only way that we're going to prevent ourselves from being dragged into this quagmire, deeper and deeper into a war with Iran." Tulsi Gabbard. ..."
"... Assassination of generals, one from an allied country, one from a country with which we have no declared war, and both assassinations performed on the territory of an allied, sovereign country without permission? This is piracy. Why should anyone trust the word of a country which does not honor the most basic of international law? ..."
"... Will we go if they vote that way? I'll go with no. The Neocons desperately want us in Iraq to protect Israel and stick it to Iran as much as possible. They have a laundry list of prepared arguments and we have the dumbest, most compliant, state media in recorded history. We also have a President who believes that intnl law is for weaklings and loves saying 'take the oil'. ..."
"... Take a look at this interview to David Petraeus by FP on yesterday´s summary executions...What you make of this? https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/03 He sounds as if he were the brain behind this operation on summary executions..along some other think tankers.. ..."
"... Whoever is President we will have war. The President is just a feckless puppet controlled by the Zionist. I'll never vote again. It's a waste of time and a farce. Hillary or Donald no different just a matter of timing. Obama destroyed Libya and Syria. Bush II the simpleton and his fairy tale WMD lie. I've lost all respect for whatever "the republic" is suppose to be. On top of that the masses are too stupid for democracy to work. ..."
Jan 03, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Qasem Soleimani was an Iranian soldier. He lived by the sword and died by the sword. He met a soldier's destiny. It is being said that he was a BAD MAN. Absurd! To say that he was a BAD MAN because he fought us as well as the Sunni jihadis is simply infantile. Were all those who fought the US BAD MEN? How about Gentleman Johhny Burgoyne? Was he a BAD MAN? How about Sitting Bull? Was he a BAD MAN? How about Aguinaldo? Another BAD MAN? Let us not be juvenile.

The Iraqi PMU commander who died with Soleimani was Abu Mahdi al Muhandis. He was a member of a Shia militia that had been integrated into the Iraqi armed forces. IOW, we killed an Iraqi general. We killed him without the authorization of the supposedly sovereign state of Iraq.

We created the present government of Iraq through the farcical "purple thumb" elections. That government holds a seat in the UN General Assembly and is a sovereign entity in international law in spite of Trump's tweet today that said among other things that we have "paid" Iraq billions of US dollars. To the Arabs, this statement that brands them as hirelings of the US is close to the ultimate in insult.

Somehow the Ziocons around Trump have forgotten that the present state of Iraq refused to yield to Obama's demands for a SOFA and in effect expelled the US from the country.

The Iraqi parliament is going to vote in emergency session over the issue of the death of al-Muhandis. Will they vote to expel the US from their country?

Will we go if they vote that way? We should. If we do not, then we will be exposed as imperialist hypocrites.

Trump should welcome such a vote. He wants to get out of the ME? What greater opportunity could we have to do so?

Let us leave if invited to go. Let the oh, so clever locals deal with their own hatreds and rivalries. pl


phodges , 03 January 2020 at 02:20 PM

What a lot of commentators seem to overlook is that America has basically declared war on Iraq, while our soldiers are hosted on joint bases with Iraqi soldiers.
Elora Danan , 03 January 2020 at 02:39 PM
Thank you, Pat!

But...Elora guesses you are being rhetorical here...because... if he would have died by the sword...would not have he had the opportunity to defend himself against his enemy/opponent?
Instead...he was caught on surprise...unarmed...and hit by an overwhelming force...he was going to some funerals...

Cameron Kelley , 03 January 2020 at 02:56 PM
Thank you, Colonel. We don't know, we don't care, but we can kill - that's not a recipe for success.
Jack , 03 January 2020 at 04:09 PM
"We need to get out of Iraq and Syria now. That is the only way that we're going to prevent ourselves from being dragged into this quagmire, deeper and deeper into a war with Iran." Tulsi Gabbard.

https://twitter.com/tulsigabbard/status/1213168223127949313?s=21

Would we get out if Iraq asks us to do so? I don't think so. There will be a hue & cry about appeasement of terror!

ex PFC Chuck -> Jack... , 03 January 2020 at 05:25 PM
It took Tulsi about 18 hours to get that brief statement out. Can't help but wonder what that delay was all about.
Elora Danan , 03 January 2020 at 04:14 PM
Some impressive images worth thousands words...just to remember everybody that this man was an appreciated human being...doing his duty....for his motherland...and his God....
Elora Danan said in reply to Elora Danan... , 03 January 2020 at 05:07 PM
To better understand the pain of that elderly yazidi woman in the video, some testimony by Rania Khalek on the role of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis ( the other militia commander killed who is being as well slandered as terrorist along Soleimani ...) in stopping yazidi genocide in Iraq when nobody else was giving a damn, less any help, for this people...

https://twitter.com/RaniaKhalek/status/1213198497668833280

divadab , 03 January 2020 at 04:17 PM
Assassination of generals, one from an allied country, one from a country with which we have no declared war, and both assassinations performed on the territory of an allied, sovereign country without permission? This is piracy. Why should anyone trust the word of a country which does not honor the most basic of international law?

And am I alone to be disgusted to see the senior members of our government lie blatantly and constantly, when they're not fellating the nearest likudnik....

Elora Danan , 03 January 2020 at 04:20 PM
Tulsi...may be our last hope...

https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1213168223127949313

Tulsi for president!

ISL , 03 January 2020 at 04:27 PM
Dear Colonel, seems you find yourself in Tulsi's (good) company.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=28&v=kToUJaOVgTA&feature=emb_logo

prawnik , 03 January 2020 at 04:32 PM
Trump should, but he won't. Might as well quote Bible verses to a robber.
turcopolier , 03 January 2020 at 04:38 PM
ISL

I have been giving her money every month.

Factotum , 03 January 2020 at 04:57 PM
We go where we are wanted and appreciated. We have no skin in Iraq. Build the Wall and protect our own borders. Concentrate our resources on cyber-security.
A. Pols , 03 January 2020 at 05:48 PM
Tulsi makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately that disqualifies her for the presidency, not because she couldn't execute the functions of the presidency, but because neither the party apparatchiks nor the voters would give her the chance. These days either nationalistic claptrap or promises of more freebies are what carry the day. Quelle domage, eh?

As for the Iraqi parliament voting to expel U.S. forces? That's an interesting question. If they did, they'd better vote to expel the "den of spies" at the embassy and insist on our having a normal sized legation (as all countries would be well advised to do). But if they do, would we leave? I personally doubt it even though it would be best if we did and let the Iraqis do what they will, which would probably be reverting back to some sort of strongman govt, of a type more suited to their cultural traditions and inclinations. It's high time we afforded the rest of the world the type of cultural and political autonomy we claim to revere so much.

So, we leave? A good thing for us and for them and the world at large.

Or, we don't? Then we expose the truth the rest of the world already knows, but we at least expose the truth to our own people who have been fed a steady diet of mendacious BS about what we've been doing over there all these years.

That attack on the "airport limo" vehicles leaving Baghdad airport sure took some nerve on our part to think that we could sell something like that...

And, did Trump actually order it, or did someone else in the MIC order it first and Trump laid claim to it afterwards? Uncle Joe, if he had ordered it, would have afterwards announced the execution of a fall guy and denied any complicity! If Trump didn't order it, he should throw whoever did under the bus instead of crowing and wrapping himself in the flag. I wonder about what actually happened in planning this hit job on prominent military people on their way to a funeral for 31 people who may or may not have had anything whatsoever to do with the death of a single American mercenary in Iraq in an attack by persons unknown on a small outpost.

J , 03 January 2020 at 06:01 PM
It's times like this I wish I was a fly on the wall, listening to what the Russian General Staff conversations regarding this assassination are at this moment.

Trump IMHO would do well to seek Putin's counsel on how to exit the corner that Trump has backed US into. While this spells problems for our US, it also creates additional problems for Russia in the ways that could cause them MAJOR problem as well as in a full blown Mideast War with many players in the mix. Not a good mix either.

Israel can't handle a full blown Mideast War, no matter how much their narcissistic national psyche thinks they can. Israel is a mere postage stamp in a sea of rage, which tsunami waves could very easily consume them. Sheldon Adelson and his Likud/NEOCON blowhards have no concept of what is on the short horizon, that can go one way or the other.

I'm glad I'm retired in this instance. My glass of bourbon is more palatable than the grains of Mideast sand that fixing to get stirred up.

God help us all.

Pat, why does the US military always get left with the shit-storms to clean up after? Why?

Christian J Chuba , 03 January 2020 at 06:32 PM
Will we go if they vote that way? I'll go with no. The Neocons desperately want us in Iraq to protect Israel and stick it to Iran as much as possible. They have a laundry list of prepared arguments and we have the dumbest, most compliant, state media in recorded history. We also have a President who believes that intnl law is for weaklings and loves saying 'take the oil'.

I can hear the talking points already ...
1. 'Obama made the same mistake and it created ISIS.'
2. 'Iran has taken over Iraq, it's not a legitimate request' (look at how we selectively recognize govts in South America and no one blinks).
3. 'Iran will use Iraq as a base to attack us' (yeah, its about 100 miles closer).

I can't stand what we have become, the jackals have taken over and the MSM attacks the very few who are not jackals.

turcopolier , 03 January 2020 at 07:05 PM
A Pols

OK. Who do you think would have had the power to order the strike? Not the CIA, the military would not accept such an order. Not the chairman of the JCS, he is not in the chain of command. That leaves Esper, SECDEF. Really? He looks like a putschist to you? You are ignorant of the American government.

Elora Danan , 03 January 2020 at 07:18 PM
Take a look at this interview to David Petraeus by FP on yesterday´s summary executions...What you make of this? https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/03 He sounds as if he were the brain behind this operation on summary executions..along some other think tankers..
Harlan Easley , 03 January 2020 at 07:20 PM
Whoever is President we will have war. The President is just a feckless puppet controlled by the Zionist. I'll never vote again. It's a waste of time and a farce. Hillary or Donald no different just a matter of timing. Obama destroyed Libya and Syria. Bush II the simpleton and his fairy tale WMD lie. I've lost all respect for whatever "the republic" is suppose to be. On top of that the masses are too stupid for democracy to work.

[Jan 04, 2020] Talking about revenge is stupid and juvenile: Iran needs to pull back and focus on making themselves stronger in economy and technology and for strong ties with other responsible players

Highly recommended!
Iran should probably be very careful not to overplay his hand. The time in working it its favor.
Notable quotes:
"... Lavrov said in June 2019 "Those who rely on inciting tension between Arabs and Persians, Arabs and Kurds, and inside the Arab world – between the Sunnis and the Shiites, are not guided by the interests of the peoples of the region, but by their own narrow geopolitical motives." ..."
"... USA has not legally declared war on Iran. This is murder. Murder of an Iranian Government employee. He may also have been covered by a diplomatic passport. If he is (I don't know) this has major repercussions for Diplomatic immunity. ..."
"... The USA 'new' unilateral principle is that any official in any country may now be murdered by the USA government at the whim of the President of the day. ..."
"... The United States launched a war of aggression, the supreme crime, upon Iraq in 2003, based on blatant lies, and are still there. Prior to that, they helped foment the war between Iraq and Iran, then attacked Iraq in 1991, and on top of the overt warfare there was the economic sanctions warfare. ..."
Jan 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

powerandpeople , Jan 4 2020 18:43 utc | 27

The subject is 'revenge' and what Iranian authorities may or may not do.

The 'big picture' is re-building the security (and well-being) of ordinary Iranian, Syrian, Iraqi, Yemeni people - and all other decent people of the Middle East and beyond.

Tribal reaction is deep and strong. We all know and experience that. But to achieve 'the big picture' the first instinctive hind-brain reaction must be set aside - or at least, allowed to 'recede'. Of course there must be re-balancing, which carries with it a feeling of vindication, if not revenge.

Lavrov said in June 2019 "Those who rely on inciting tension between Arabs and Persians, Arabs and Kurds, and inside the Arab world – between the Sunnis and the Shiites, are not guided by the interests of the peoples of the region, but by their own narrow geopolitical motives."

Well the USA Government is guilty must apologise publicly and humbly. Compensation must be paid.

Dialogue started.

USA has not legally declared war on Iran. This is murder. Murder of an Iranian Government employee. He may also have been covered by a diplomatic passport. If he is (I don't know) this has major repercussions for Diplomatic immunity.

The USA 'new' unilateral principle is that any official in any country may now be murdered by the USA government at the whim of the President of the day.

Clearly, decent people in USA need to campaign to limit Presidential powers. Revenge creates a spiral of escalation which becomes a vortex of destruction, perhaps global. How does that improve peoples daily lives?

The duty of government is ensuring the security of its people. Does 'revenge' achieve this in the years ahead? It is the instinctive option, yes, but is it the BEST long term option?

In the end, parties must meet, compensation paid, and the hard slow work of building acceptable inter-state relations based on rule of law and the UN Charter re-commenced.

In my view, there is no other option that meets the long term need of ordinary people.

But building this requires special people. Not wreckers and haters.

Will the urgency of the situation see them emerge?

jared , Jan 4 2020 23:05 utc | 94

@ Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 4 2020 22:18 utc | 84

Thank you. Someone making sense. Most are talking about this like it's halftime in a sporting match - completely juvenile.

Iran needs to pull back and focus on making themselves stronger in economy and technology and for strong ties with other responsible players. They have opportunities with many countries which are increasingly disenchanted with the west. And the west is headed for an economic beating - which explains the desperate behavior.

Even if Iran is very careful in their behavior Irael is going to continue to press for war - the psychotic fears most those that he has attacked.

But maybe with careful behavior and planning and efforts to repair and maintain ties the Iraninans could be ready for that eventuality.

max , Jan 4 2020 23:27 utc | 104
Espen and Trump have made it clear that they will hold Iran responsible for whatever may happen in the region and that they will strike in response or preemptively. Essentially, that makes the real Iranian reaction largely irrelevant. And Israel could create a false flag incident #a la USS Liberty. Or some rogue groups that Iran cannot control might attack US troops or installations. Whether by design or accident, there will be a pretext to base another military strike against Iran on. And then another, until a full blown US-Iran war erupts which Bibi, Lieberman & co so desperately want.
Years of relentless demonization of Iran in the US and the UK have brainwashed large swaths of the population. They will accept a war against Iran, albeit reluctantly, as long as not too many Americans get killed in its wake.

I don't believe for a second that the US would "accept" a limited retaliation. They will jump at any opportunity. Lindsey Graham stands between Trump and impeachment and that warmonger is on record for seeking to bomb Iran's oil refineries. Incidentally, he was the only senator who Trump consulted prior to the murder. Could well be that Graham is right now the real P0TUS , at least until the senate has voted on impeachment. Conveniently, pelosi has put the impeachment on hold, thereby prolonging that situation. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Maybe the Israelis/neocons fear that Trump might lose in November and want to start the war while Bibi's favorite lapdog is still P0TUS. Not, that the Democrats are peacelovers (except for Sanders and Gabbard). But they might be more afraid of a negative reaction by the electorate.
Murdering Suleimani NOW was not some hasty decision without a plan. I am afraid, it was done to get THE ultimate war in the middle east going, no matter if and how much restraint Iran will show.

I do think, btw that Trump blew his reelection by killing Suleimani. Another warmonger will assuredly take his place.

tspoon , Jan 4 2020 23:45 utc | 110
After reading what Magnier has to say, a reasonable guess is that although emotions are running high currently, Irans leadership will likely concentrate omn the work that must be done during such a period, which is to (attempt to) influence the Iraqi parliamentry vote on the continued presence of United States forces. As some have pointed out, this may lead to a US retreat to the Kurdish areas, but even that can only be considered a victory, with consequent practically free movement of Iranian military supplies to their allies in Syria and Lebanon. With this development hopefully secured there is then plenty of time to precisely calibrate any further responce to a level where dignity is preserved, without necessarily bringing the wider ME area into further strife. Any waiting period is also useful in further building up capability where needed, specifically in the case where US aggression continues as it has done so far. US leaders seem not to appreciate that their showy applications of force don't win them friends locally, and could eventually succeed in unifying Iraq in a way Iran never could on its own.
juliania , Jan 5 2020 0:05 utc | 115
This may have been referenced before, and b's previous post begins with a description of the importance of Soleimani, but here is a further link for those who are still in doubt as to his significance for everyone in the region:

qasem-soleimani-was-an-absolute-hero-and-his-death-is-both-a-travesty-and-a-tragedy/

I will also add from a post by Active Patriot at the Saker site: "...if Iran is a friend and ally to Iraq and Syria they would not craft a response which drags either of those 2 countries deeper into more war and hardship."

Really?? , Jan 5 2020 0:19 utc | 119
Circe #72

Solameini's martyrdom is surely recognized as such by all in the ME who have suffered and are suffering the century-long occupation/meddling/manipulating/lying that Western powers have inflicted on the whole ME since before the Great War---now with the USA in the lead. (One of Churchill's war aims in WW1 was to destroy the Ottoman Empire and grab as much of it as Britain could grab. Then of course there was the Balfour Declaration crime.)

What is the "purpose" of martyrdom if it is not to galvanize action of some kind? To galvanize a dramatic quantum leap in consciousness of the meaning of the martyr's sacrifice---of his martyrdom. Surely Solameini will be seen to have died *for* something. For what?

Perhaps to inspire a new setting aside of existing local conflicts to form an effective front to *eject* the foreign virus from the body of the whole ME? To create a new coalition among all citizens of all faiths in all of the besieged ME countries to oust the "crusaders"? Didn't Nasser aspire to take charge of his region via the United *Arab* Republics? What about United Sovereign Nations from the Levant to the Hindu Kush. And, make things uncomfortable for Erdogan if he continues to host American Air Force?

Just wondering.

Also, what is Kurdish reaction to this murder? Kurds seem to be an element standing in the way of unity of purpose in the ME.

Dr Wellington Yueh , Jan 5 2020 0:22 utc | 120
OT but I think timely:

1) Get a list of your favorite sites, then do a DNS lookup on their names, and put those IP addresses in a HOSTS file . If a site appears to go offline, try the IP address. If that doesn't work either, well...

2) I have an old laptop that has wifi and an ethernet port, and it runs an older version of Linux Mint. I wish I had an older version, and I may start looking. The more recent the operating system (any!), the more likely it will have backdoors or some other 'critter' running about and working against you.

3) If you have the hardware and some friends nearby, start an out-of-band neighborhood network. This, as I envision it (with limited oracular ability, mind you), can be like the Little Free Library - just an accumulation of stuff each person has saved over the years, or whatever can be obtained, and scanned if necessary. Wifi can work for this short-term, but plan to bury multiple cables eventually. DO NOT EVER (knowingly) CONNECT THIS NETWORK TO THE INTERNET!!!

4) Start planning for long-term storage of important books. Niven's novel Lucifer's Hammer describes one character's efforts in this direction - he sunk a huge library of important 'civilization cranking' books in a cesspool on a neighbor's property.

There's more, but we've a broad spectrum of things to consider at the moment, so I'll not hog the thread.


As a matter of standing up and showing some jackasses in this thread that US citizens aren't all Rambo...

I, Thomas James Kenney, hereby publicly state that it is my opinion the only way out of this mess (and the only chance to save some semblance of a country) is to very publicly try and imprison these vermin for high treason. They have committed an act that runs counter to every attempted description of civilized behavior ever written.

It is also my considered opinion that it is not necessary for Iran to do anything at all. Simply stay the course. We are almost bled out in this disintegrating 'republic', and people around me are conversing about ways to disconnect from some of the toxic facets of this society. There is not much support for a war, despite what the 'required 20%' continue to scream.

Robert Snefjella , Jan 5 2020 0:22 utc | 121
The United States launched a war of aggression, the supreme crime, upon Iraq in 2003, based on blatant lies, and are still there. Prior to that, they helped foment the war between Iraq and Iran, then attacked Iraq in 1991, and on top of the overt warfare there was the economic sanctions warfare.

The death and maiming and poisoning of millions of Iraqis has been the American contribution to Iraq, over the last several decades. What for? How has this helped the United States? Or Europe? The main advocates for this supreme criminality has been the Israel lobby, Israel, and the supporters of Israel.

The American Apache helicopters are still buzzing around over Baghdad, dealing out terror and intimidation and death. The murder by the United States of yet more Iraqi soldiers and officials recently has been largely absent from the propaganda narratives. But could those be 'the final straw'?

As far as Trump's 52 target threat, this comes after the apparent please don't escalate and we'll make a deal - good cop-bad cop routine.

The 52 number was used to remind mind-controlled Americans that the evil Iranians outrageously took 52 Americans hostage. American's don't just take people hostage; they give them orange suits and torture them, unless they kill them. Apart from murdering and maiming by the millions, they even stage fictional killings, like Osama bin laden, to entertain the zombies, and stick out their chests, hand out medals and the like.

Really?? , Jan 5 2020 0:28 utc | 124
Juliania #95

Just a reminder: Iran is not an Arabic country.
And many non-Arabs and non-Muslims live in ME countries (I am not counting Is as an ME country in this context).
Which is why I express hope of perhaps a broader regional coalition.

Inkan1969 , Jan 5 2020 0:35 utc | 131

The shooting down of flight 655 was a criminal act of manslaughter that should've brought charges against the people responsible. But does b really consider destroying another plane of civilians a justified retribution?

I wonder if Putin will force Trump to stop the escalation and show remorse to Iran before any revenge happens.

[Dec 21, 2019] Trump administration sanction companies involved in laying the remaining pipe, and also companies involved in the infrastructure around the arrival point.

Highly recommended!
Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Watcher x Ignored says: 12/13/2019 at 6:27 am

The new US defense bill, agreed on by both parties, includes sanctions on executives of companies involved in the completion of Nordstream 2. This is companies involved in laying the remaining pipe, and also companies involved in the infrastructure around the arrival point.

This could include arrest of the executives of those companies, who might travel to the United States. One of the companies is Royal Dutch Shell, who have 80,000 employees in the United States.

Hightrekker x Ignored says: 12/13/2019 at 12:28 pm
So much for the "Free Market".
Hickory x Ignored says: 12/12/2019 at 11:28 pm
Some people believe 'the market' for crude oil is a fair and effective arbiter of the industry supply and demand. But if we step back an inch or two, we all can see it has been a severely broken mechanism during this up phase in oil. For example, there has been long lags between market signals of shortage or surplus.

Disruptive policies and mechanisms such as tariffs, embargo's, and sanctions, trade bloc quotas, military coups and popular revolutions, socialist agendas, industry lobbying, multinational corporate McCarthyism, and massively obese debt financing, are all examples of forces that have trumped an efficient and transparent oil market.

And yet, the problems with the oil market during this time of upslope will look placid in retrospect, as we enter the time beyond peak.
I see no reason why it won't turn into a mad chaotic scramble.
We had a small hint of what this can look like in the last mid-century. The USA responded to military expansionism of Japan by enacting an oil embargo against them. The response was Pearl Harbor. This is just one example of many.
How long before Iran lashes out in response to their restricted access to the market?
People generally don't respond very calmly to involuntary restriction on food, or energy, or access to the markets for these things.

[Dec 21, 2019] Trump comes clean from world s policeman to thug running a global protection racket by Finian Cunningham

Highly recommended!
In any case withdrawal from Syria was a surprising and bold move on the Part of the Trump. You can criticizes Trump for not doing more but before that he bahvaves as a typical neocon, or a typical Republican presidents (which are the same things). And he started on this path just two month after inauguration bombing Syria under false pretences. So this is something
I think the reason of change is that Trump intuitively realized the voters are abandoning him in droves and the sizable faction of his voters who voted for him because of his promises to end foreign wars iether already defected or is ready to defect. So this is a move designed to keep them.
Notable quotes:
"... "America shouldn't be doing the fighting for every nation on earth, not being reimbursed in many cases at all. If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price," Trump said. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.rt.com

President Trump's big announcement to pull US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan is now emerging less as a peace move, and more a rationalization of American military power in the Middle East. In a surprise visit to US forces in Iraq this week, Trump said he had no intention of withdrawing the troops in that country, who have been there for nearly 15 years since GW Bush invaded back in 2003.

Hinting at private discussions with commanders in Iraq, Trump boasted that US forces would in the future launch attacks from there into Syria if and when needed. Presumably that rapid force deployment would apply to other countries in the region, including Afghanistan.

In other words, in typical business-style transactional thinking, Trump sees the pullout from Syria and Afghanistan as a cost-cutting exercise for US imperialism. Regarding Syria, he has bragged about Turkey being assigned, purportedly, to "finish off" terror groups. That's Trump subcontracting out US interests.

Critics and supporters of Trump are confounded. After his Syria and Afghanistan pullout call, domestic critics and NATO allies have accused him of walking from the alleged "fight against terrorism" and of ceding strategic ground to US adversaries Russia and Iran.

'We're no longer suckers of the world!' Trump says US is respected as nation AGAIN (VIDEO)

Meanwhile, Trump's supporters have viewed his decision in more benign light, cheering the president for "sticking it to" the deep state and military establishment, assuming he's delivering on electoral promises to end overseas wars.

However, neither view gets what is going on. Trump is not scaling back US military power; he is rationalizing it like a cost-benefit analysis, as perhaps only a real-estate-wheeler-dealer-turned president would appreciate. Trump is not snubbing US militarism or NATO allies, nor is he letting loose an inner peace spirit. He is as committed to projecting American military as ruthlessly and as recklessly as any other past occupant of the White House. The difference is Trump wants to do it on the cheap.

Here's what he said to reporters on Air Force One before touching down in Iraq:

"The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world. It's not fair when the burden is all on us, the United States We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven't even heard about. Frankly, it's ridiculous." He added: "We're no longer the suckers, folks."

Laughably, Trump's griping about US forces "spread all over the world" unwittingly demonstrates the insatiable, monstrous nature of American militarism. But Trump paints this vice as a virtue, which, he complains, Washington gets no thanks for from the 150-plus countries around the globe that its forces are present in.

As US troops greeted him in Iraq, the president made explicit how the new American militarism would henceforth operate.

"America shouldn't be doing the fighting for every nation on earth, not being reimbursed in many cases at all. If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price," Trump said.

'We give them $4.5bn a year': Israel will still be 'good' after US withdrawal from Syria – Trump

This reiterates a big bugbear for this president in which he views US allies and client regimes as "not pulling their weight" in terms of military deployment. Trump has been browbeating European NATO members to cough up more on military budgets, and he has berated the Saudis and other Gulf Arab regimes to pay more for American interventions.

Notably, however, Trump has never questioned the largesse that US taxpayers fork out every year to Israel in the form of nearly $4 billion in military aid. To be sure, that money is not a gift because much of it goes back to the Pentagon from sales of fighter jets and missile systems.

The long-held notion that the US has served as the "world's policeman" is, of course, a travesty.

Since WWII, all presidents and the Washington establishment have constantly harped on, with self-righteousness, about America's mythical role as guarantor of global security.

Dozens of illegal wars on almost every continent and millions of civilian deaths attest to the real, heinous conduct of American militarism as a weapon to secure US corporate capitalism.

But with US economic power in historic decline amid a national debt now over $22 trillion, Washington can no longer afford its imperialist conduct in the traditional mode of direct US military invasions and occupations.

Perhaps, it takes a cost-cutting, raw-toothed capitalist like Trump to best understand the historic predicament, even if only superficially.

This gives away the real calculation behind his troop pullout from Syria and Afghanistan. Iraq is going to serve as a new regional hub for force projection on a demand-and-supply basis. In addition, more of the dirty work can be contracted out to Washington's clients like Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who will be buying even more US weaponry to prop the military-industrial complex.

'With almost $22 trillion of debt, the US is in no position to attack Iran'

This would explain why Trump made his hurried, unexpected visit to Iraq this week. Significantly, he said : "A lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking", regarding his decision on withdrawing forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

Since his troop pullout plan announced on December 19, there has been serious pushback from senior Pentagon figures, hawkish Republicans and Democrats, and the anti-Trump media. The atmosphere is almost seditious against the president. Trump flying off to Iraq on Christmas night was reportedly his first visit to troops in an overseas combat zone since becoming president two years ago.

What Trump seemed to be doing was reassuring the Pentagon and corporate America that he is not going all soft and dovish. Not at all. He is letting them know that he is aiming for a leaner, meaner US military power, which can save money on the number of foreign bases by using rapid reaction forces out of places like Iraq, as well as by subcontracting operations out to regional clients.

Thus, Trump is not coming clean out of any supposed principle when he cuts back US forces overseas. He is merely applying his knack for screwing down costs and doing things on the cheap as a capitalist tycoon overseeing US militarism.

During past decades when American capitalism was relatively robust, US politicians and media could indulge in the fantasy of their military forces going around the world in large-scale formations to selflessly "defend freedom and democracy."

Today, US capitalism is broke. It simply can't sustain its global military empire. Enter Donald Trump with his "business solutions."

But in doing so, this president, with his cheap utilitarianism and transactional exploitative mindset, lets the cat out of the bag. As he says, the US cannot be the world's policeman. Countries are henceforth going to have to pay for "our protection."

Inadvertently, Trump is showing up US power for what it really is: a global thug running a protection racket.

It's always been the case. Except now it's in your face. Trump is no Smedley Butler, the former Marine general who in the 1930s condemned US militarism as a Mafia operation. This president is stupidly revealing the racket, while still thinking it is something virtuous.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

dnm1136

Once again, Cunningham has hit the nail on the head. Trump mistakenly conflates fear with respect. In reality, around the world, the US is feared but generally not respected.

My guess is that the same was true about Trump as a businessman, i.e., he was not respected, only feared due to his willingness to pursue his "deals" by any means that "worked" for him, legal or illegal, moral or immoral, seemingly gracious or mean-spirited.

William Smith

Complaining how the US gets no thanks for its foreign intervention. Kind of like a rapist claiming he should be thanked for "pleasuring" his victim. Precisely the same sentiment expressed by those who believe the American Indians should thank the Whites for "civilising" them.

Phoebe S,

"Washington gets no thanks for from the 150-plus countries around the globe that its forces are present in."

That might mean they don't want you there. Just saying.

ProRussiaPole

None of these wars are working out for the US strategically. All they do is sow chaos. They seem to not be gaining anything, and are just preventing others from gaining anything as well.

Ernie For -> ProRussiaPole

i am a huge Putin fan, so is big Don. Please change your source of info Jerome, Trump is one man against Billions of people and dollars in corruption. He has achieved more in the USA in 2 years than all 5 previous parasites together.

Truthbetold69

It could be a change for a better direction. Time will tell. 'If you do what you've always been doing, you'll get what you've always been getting.'

[Nov 06, 2019] Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket [of the financial oligarchy], but it rapidly became one

Highly recommended!
Nov 06, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 11.06.19 at 4:07 am 47

@Z 11.05.19 at 9:23 am @45

It seems to me an important tenet of the neoliberal ideology is the arbiter (or auctioneer) role it gives the state and other political institutions with respect to markets. Markets are the locus of justice and efficiency, but political institutions have the essential task of organizing them and the competitions that takes place within them, supposedly at least.

In practice, this translated in a central role of political power not only in privatizing and breaking state monopolies, but also in the creation, sometimes ex nihilo, of markets supervised by state or quasi-state agencies (shielded of electoral choices by regulatory or ideally constitutional provisions) whose role was to organize concurrence in domains classical liberal economic theory would consider natural monopolies or natural public properties (education, health service, energy distribution, infrastructure of transportation, telecommunication, postal and banking service etc.)

What an excellent and deep observation ! Thank you ! This is the essence of the compromises with financial oligarchy made by failing social democratic parties. Neoliberalism is kind of Trotskyism for the rich in which the political power is used to shape the society "from above". As Hayek remarked on his visit to Pinochet's Chile – "my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism".

George Monblot observed that "Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket [of the financial oligarchy], but it rapidly became one." ( The Guardian, Apr 15, 2016):

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot

The free (as in absence of regulation for FIRE) market produces a tiny cadre of winners and an enormous army of losers (10% vs 90%) – and the losers, looking for revenge, have turned to Trump. Now entrenched centers of "resistance" (and first of all CIA, the Justice Department, The Department of State and a part of Pentagon) are trying to reverse the situation. Failing to understand that they created Trump and each time will reproduce it in more and more dangerous variant.

Trumpism is the inevitable result of the gap between the utopian ideal of the free (for the FIRE sector only ) market and the dystopian reality for the majority of the population ("without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape" Pope Francis, "Evangelii Gaudium")

The situation in which the financial sector generates just 4% of employment, but accounts for more than 25% of corporate profits is unsustainable. It should be reversed and it will be reversed.

[Nov 03, 2019] How Controlling Syria s Oil Serves Washington s Strategic Objectives by Nauman Sadiq

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Washington's basic purpose in deploying the US forces in oil and natural gas fields of Deir al-Zor governorate is to deny the valuable source of income to its other main rival in the region, Damascus. ..."
Nov 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Nauman Sadiq,

Before the evacuation of 1,000 American troops from northern Syria to western Iraq, the Pentagon had 2,000 US forces in Syria. After the drawdown of US troops at Erdogan's insistence in order for Ankara to mount a ground offensive in northern Syria, the US has still deployed 1,000 troops, mainly in oil-rich eastern Deir al-Zor province and at al-Tanf military base.

Al-Tanf military base is strategically located in southeastern Syria on the border between Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and it straddles on a critically important Damascus-Baghdad highway, which serves as a lifeline for Damascus. Washington has illegally occupied 55-kilometer area around al-Tanf since 2016, and several hundred US Marines have trained several Syrian militant groups there.

It's worth noting that rather than fighting the Islamic State, the purpose of continued presence of the US forces at al-Tanf military base is to address Israel's concerns regarding the expansion of Iran's influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Regarding the oil- and natural gas-rich Deir al-Zor governorate, it's worth pointing out that Syria used to produce modest quantities of oil for domestic needs before the war – roughly 400,000 barrels per day, which isn't much compared to tens of millions barrels daily oil production in the Gulf states.

Although Donald Trump crowed in a characteristic blunt manner in a tweet after the withdrawal of 1,000 American troops from northern Syria that Washington had deployed forces in eastern Syria where there was oil, the purpose of exercising control over Syria's oil is neither to smuggle oil out of Syria nor to deny the valuable source of revenue to the Islamic State.

There is no denying the fact that the remnants of the Islamic State militants are still found in Syria and Iraq but its emirate has been completely dismantled in the region and its leadership is on the run. So much so that the fugitive caliph of the terrorist organization was killed in the bastion of a rival jihadist outfit, al-Nusra Front in Idlib, hundreds of kilometers away from the Islamic State strongholds in eastern Syria.

Much like the "scorched earth" battle strategy of medieval warlords – as in the case of the Islamic State which early in the year burned crops of local farmers while retreating from its former strongholds in eastern Syria – Washington's basic purpose in deploying the US forces in oil and natural gas fields of Deir al-Zor governorate is to deny the valuable source of income to its other main rival in the region, Damascus.

After the devastation caused by eight years of proxy war, the Syrian government is in dire need of tens of billions dollars international assistance to rebuild the country. Not only is Washington hampering efforts to provide international aid to the hapless country, it is in fact squatting over Syria's own resources with the help of its only ally in the region, the Kurds.

Although Donald Trump claimed credit for expropriating Syria's oil wealth, it bears mentioning that "scorched earth" policy is not a business strategy, it is the institutional logic of the deep state. President Trump is known to be a businessman and at least ostensibly follows a non-interventionist ideology; being a novice in the craft of international diplomacy, however, he has time and again been misled by the Pentagon and Washington's national security establishment.

Regarding Washington's interest in propping up the Gulf's autocrats and fighting their wars in regional conflicts, it bears mentioning that in April 2016, the Saudi foreign minister threatened that the Saudi kingdom would sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets if the US Congress passed a bill that would allow Americans to sue the Saudi government in the United States courts for its role in the September 11, 2001 terror attack – though the bill was eventually passed, Saudi authorities have not been held accountable; even though 15 out of 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Moreover, $750 billion is only the Saudi investment in the United States, if we add its investment in Western Europe and the investments of UAE, Kuwait and Qatar in the Western economies, the sum total would amount to trillions of dollars of Gulf's investments in North America and Western Europe.

Furthermore, in order to bring home the significance of the Persian Gulf's oil in the energy-starved industrialized world, here are a few stats from the OPEC data: Saudi Arabia has the world's largest proven crude oil reserves of 265 billion barrels and its daily oil production exceeds 10 million barrels; Iran and Iraq, each, has 150 billion barrels reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day, each; while UAE and Kuwait, each, has 100 billion barrels reserves and produces 3 million barrels per day, each; thus, all the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, together, hold 788 billion barrels, more than half of world's 1477 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

No wonder then, 36,000 United States troops have currently been deployed in their numerous military bases and aircraft carriers in the oil-rich Persian Gulf in accordance with the Carter Doctrine of 1980, which states: "Let our position be absolutely clear: 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 of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

Additionally, regarding the Western defense production industry's sales of arms to the Gulf Arab States, a report authored by William Hartung of the US-based Center for International Policy found that the Obama administration had offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, military equipment and training during its eight-year tenure.

Similarly, the top items in Trump's agenda for his maiden visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017 were: firstly, he threw his weight behind the idea of the Saudi-led "Arab NATO" to counter Iran's influence in the region; and secondly, he announced an unprecedented arms package for Saudi Arabia. The package included between $98 billion and $128 billion in arms sales.

Therefore, keeping the economic dependence of the Western countries on the Gulf Arab States in mind, during the times of global recession when most of manufacturing has been outsourced to China, it is not surprising that when the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia decided to provide training and arms to the Islamic jihadists in the border regions of Turkey and Jordan against the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Obama administration was left with no other choice but to toe the destructive policy of its regional Middle Eastern allies, despite the sectarian nature of the proxy war and its attendant consequences of breeding a new generation of Islamic jihadists who would become a long-term security risk not only to the Middle East but to the Western countries, as well.

Similarly, when King Abdullah's successor King Salman decided, on the whim of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, to invade Yemen in March 2015, once again the Obama administration had to yield to the dictates of Saudi Arabia and UAE by fully coordinating the Gulf-led military campaign in Yemen not only by providing intelligence, planning and logistical support but also by selling billions of dollars' worth of arms and ammunition to the Gulf Arab States during the conflict.

In this reciprocal relationship, the US provides security to the ruling families of the Gulf Arab states by providing weapons and troops; and in return, the Gulf's petro-sheikhs contribute substantial investments to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars to the Western economies.

Regarding the Pax Americana which is the reality of the contemporary neocolonial order, according to a January 2017 infographic by the New York Times, 210,000 US military personnel were stationed all over the world, including 79,000 in Europe, 45,000 in Japan, 28,500 in South Korea and 36,000 in the Middle East.

Although Donald Trump keeps complaining that NATO must share the cost of deployment of US troops, particularly in Europe where 47,000 American troops are stationed in Germany since the end of the Second World War, 15,000 in Italy and 8,000 in the United Kingdom, fact of the matter is that the cost is already shared between Washington and host countries.

Roughly, European countries pay one-third of the cost for maintaining US military bases in Europe whereas Washington chips in the remaining two-third. In the Far Eastern countries, 75% of the cost for the deployment of American troops is shared by Japan and the remaining 25% by Washington, and in South Korea, 40% cost is shared by the host country and the US contributes the remaining 60%.

Whereas the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar – pay two-third of the cost for maintaining 36,000 US troops in the Persian Gulf where more than half of world's proven oil reserves are located and Washington contributes the remaining one-third.

* * *

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.


ipsprez , 8 minutes ago link

I am always amazed (and amused) at how much smarter "journalists" are than POTUS. If ONLY Mr. Trump would read more and listen to those who OBVIOUSLY are sooo much smarter!!!! Maybe then he wouldn't be cowed and bullied by Erdogan, Xi, Jung-on, Trudeau (OK so maybe that one was too far fetched) to name a few. Please note the sarcasm. Do I really need to go in to the success after success Mr. Trump's foreign policy has enjoyed? Come on Man.

OLD-Pipe , 19 minutes ago link

What a load of BOLOCKS...The ONLY, I mean The Real and True Reason for American Armored presence is one thing,,,,,,,Ready for IT ? ? ? To Steal as much OIL as Possible, AND convert the Booty into Currency, Diamonds or some other intrinsically valuable commodity, Millions of Dollars at a Time......17 Years of Shadows and Ghost Trucks and Tankers Loading and Off-Loading the Black Gold...this is what its all about......M-O-N-E-Y....... Say It With Me.... Mon-nee, Money Money Mo_on_ne_e_ey, ......

Blue Steel 309 , 5 minutes ago link

This is about Israel, not oil.

ombon , 58 minutes ago link

From the sale of US oil in Syria receive 30 million. dollars per month. Image losses are immeasurably greater. The United States put the United States as a robbery bandit. This is American democracy. The longer the troops are in Syria, the more countries will switch to settlements in national currencies.

Pandelis , 28 minutes ago link

yeah well these are mafia guys...

uhland62 , 50 minutes ago link

"Our interests", "strategic interests" is always about money, just a euphemism so it doesn't look as greedy as it is. Another euphemism is "security' ,meaning war preparations.

BobEore , 1 hour ago link

...The military power of the USA put directly in the service of "the original TM" PIRATE STATE. U are the man Norm! But wait... now things get a little hazy... in the classic... 'alt0media fake storyline' fashion!

"President Trump is known to be a businessman and at least ostensibly follows a non-interventionist ideology; being a novice in the craft of international diplomacy, however, he has time and again been misled by the Pentagon and Washington's national security establishment."

Awww! Poor "DUmb as Rocks Donnie" done been fooled agin!

...In the USA... the military men are stirring at last... having been made all too aware that their putative 'boss' has been operating on behalf of foreign powers ever since being [s]elected, that the State Dept of the once Great Republic has been in active cahoots with the jihadis ...

and that those who were sent over there to fight against the headchoppers discovered that the only straight shooters in the whole mess turned out to be the Kurds who AGENT FRIMpf THREW UNDER THE BUS ON INSTRUCTIONS FROM JIHADI HQ!

... ... ...

[Sep 10, 2019] Neoliberal Capitalism at a Dead End by Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik

Highly recommended!
This is a Marxist critique of neoliberalism. Not necessary right but they his some relevant points.
Notable quotes:
"... The ideology of neoliberal capitalism was the promise of growth. But with neoliberal capitalism reaching a dead end, this promise disappears and so does this ideological prop. ..."
"... The ex ante tendency toward overproduction arises because the vector of real wages across countries does not increase noticeably over time in the world economy, while the vector of labor productivities does, typically resulting in a rise in the share of surplus in world output. ..."
"... While the rise in the vector of labor productivities across countries, a ubiquitous phenomenon under capitalism that also characterizes neoliberal capitalism, scarcely requires an explanation, why does the vector of real wages remain virtually stagnant in the world economy? The answer lies in the sui generis character of contemporary globalization that, for the first time in the history of capitalism, has led to a relocation of activity from the metropolis to third world countries in order to take advantage of the lower wages prevailing in the latter and meet global demand. ..."
"... The current globalization broke with this. The movement of capital from the metropolis to the third world, especially to East, South, and Southeast Asia to relocate plants there and take advantage of their lower wages for meeting global demand, has led to a desegmentation of the world economy, subjecting metropolitan wages to the restraining effect exercised by the third world's labor reserves. Not surprisingly, as Joseph Stiglitz has pointed out, the real-wage rate of an average male U.S. worker in 2011 was no higher -- indeed, it was marginally lower -- than it had been in 1968. 5 ..."
"... This ever-present opposition becomes decisive within a regime of globalization. As long as finance capital remains national -- that is, nation-based -- and the state is a nation-state, the latter can override this opposition under certain circumstances, such as in the post-Second World War period when capitalism was facing an existential crisis. But when finance capital is globalized, meaning, when it is free to move across country borders while the state remains a nation-state, its opposition to fiscal deficits becomes decisive. If the state does run large fiscal deficits against its wishes, then it would simply leave that country en masse , causing a financial crisis. ..."
"... The state therefore capitulates to the demands of globalized finance capital and eschews direct fiscal intervention for increasing demand. It resorts to monetary policy instead since that operates through wealth holders' decisions, and hence does not undermine their social position. But, precisely for this reason, monetary policy is an ineffective instrument, as was evident in the United States in the aftermath of the 2007–09 crisis when even the pushing of interest rates down to zero scarcely revived activity. 6 ..."
"... If Trump's protectionism, which recalls the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1931 and amounts to a beggar-my-neighbor policy, does lead to a significant export of unemployment from the United States, then it will invite retaliation and trigger a trade war that will only worsen the crisis for the world economy as a whole by dampening global investment. Indeed, since the United States has been targeting China in particular, some retaliatory measures have already appeared. But if U.S. protectionism does not invite generalized retaliation, it would only be because the export of unemployment from the United States is insubstantial, keeping unemployment everywhere, including in the United States, as precarious as it is now. However we look at it, the world would henceforth face higher levels of unemployment. ..."
"... The second implication of this dead end is that the era of export-led growth is by and large over for third world economies. The slowing down of world economic growth, together with protectionism in the United States against successful third world exporters, which could even spread to other metropolitan economies, suggests that the strategy of relying on the world market to generate domestic growth has run out of steam. Third world economies, including the ones that have been very successful at exporting, would now have to rely much more on their home market ..."
"... In other words, we shall now have an intensification of the imperialist stranglehold over third world economies, especially those pushed into unsustainable balance-of-payments deficits in the new situation. By imperialism , here we do not mean the imperialism of this or that major power, but the imperialism of international finance capital, with which even domestic big bourgeoisies are integrated, directed against their own working people ..."
"... In short, the ideology of neoliberal capitalism was the promise of growth. But with neoliberal capitalism reaching a dead end, this promise disappears and so does this ideological prop. To sustain itself, neoliberal capitalism starts looking for some other ideological prop and finds fascism. ..."
"... The first is the so-called spontaneous method of capital flight. Any political formation that seeks to take the country out of the neoliberal regime will witness capital flight even before it has been elected to office, bringing the country to a financial crisis and thereby denting its electoral prospects. And if perchance it still gets elected, the outflow will only increase, even before it assumes office. The inevitable difficulties faced by the people may well make the government back down at that stage. The sheer difficulty of transition away from a neoliberal regime could be enough to bring even a government based on the support of workers and peasants to its knees, precisely to save them short-term distress or to avoid losing their support. ..."
"... The third weapon consists in carrying out so-called democratic or parliamentary coups of the sort that Latin America has been experiencing. Coups in the old days were effected through the local armed forces and necessarily meant the imposition of military dictatorships in lieu of civilian, democratically elected governments. Now, taking advantage of the disaffection generated within countries by the hardships caused by capital flight and imposed sanctions, imperialism promotes coups through fascist or fascist-sympathizing middle-class political elements in the name of restoring democracy, which is synonymous with the pursuit of neoliberalism. ..."
"... And if all these measures fail, there is always the possibility of resorting to economic warfare (such as destroying Venezuela's electricity supply), and eventually to military warfare. Venezuela today provides a classic example of what imperialist intervention in a third world country is going to look like in the era of decline of neoliberal capitalism, when revolts are going to characterize such countries more and more. ..."
"... Despite this opposition, neoliberal capitalism cannot ward off the challenge it is facing for long. It has no vision for reinventing itself. Interestingly, in the period after the First World War, when capitalism was on the verge of sinking into a crisis, the idea of state intervention as a way of its revival had already been mooted, though its coming into vogue only occurred at the end of the Second World War. 11 Today, neoliberal capitalism does not even have an idea of how it can recover and revitalize itself. And weapons like domestic fascism in the third world and direct imperialist intervention cannot for long save it from the anger of the masses that is building up against it. ..."
Aug 25, 2019 | portside.org
Originally from: Monthly Review printer friendly
The ideology of neoliberal capitalism was the promise of growth. But with neoliberal capitalism reaching a dead end, this promise disappears and so does this ideological prop.

Harry Magdoff's The Age of Imperialism is a classic work that shows how postwar political decolonization does not negate the phenomenon of imperialism. The book has two distinct aspects. On the one hand, it follows in V. I. Lenin's footsteps in providing a comprehensive account of how capitalism at the time operated globally. On the other hand, it raises a question that is less frequently discussed in Marxist literature -- namely, the need for imperialism. Here, Magdoff not only highlighted the crucial importance, among other things, of the third world's raw materials for metropolitan capital, but also refuted the argument that the declining share of raw-material value in gross manufacturing output somehow reduced this importance, making the simple point that there can be no manufacturing at all without raw materials. 1

Magdoff's focus was on a period when imperialism was severely resisting economic decolonization in the third world, with newly independent third world countries taking control over their own resources. He highlighted the entire armory of weapons used by imperialism. But he was writing in a period that predated the onset of neoliberalism. Today, we not only have decades of neoliberalism behind us, but the neoliberal regime itself has reached a dead end. Contemporary imperialism has to be discussed within this setting.

Globalization and Economic Crisis

There are two reasons why the regime of neoliberal globalization has run into a dead end. The first is an ex ante tendency toward global overproduction; the second is that the only possible counter to this tendency within the regime is the formation of asset-price bubbles, which cannot be conjured up at will and whose collapse, if they do appear, plunges the economy back into crisis. In short, to use the words of British economic historian Samuel Berrick Saul, there are no "markets on tap" for contemporary metropolitan capitalism, such as had been provided by colonialism prior to the First World War and by state expenditure in the post-Second World War period of dirigisme . 2

The ex ante tendency toward overproduction arises because the vector of real wages across countries does not increase noticeably over time in the world economy, while the vector of labor productivities does, typically resulting in a rise in the share of surplus in world output. As Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy argued in Monopoly Capital , following the lead of Michał Kalecki and Josef Steindl, such a rise in the share of economic surplus, or a shift from wages to surplus, has the effect of reducing aggregate demand since the ratio of consumption to income is higher on average for wage earners than for those living off the surplus. 3 Therefore, assuming a given level of investment associated with any period, such a shift would tend to reduce consumption demand and hence aggregate demand, output, and capacity utilization. In turn, reduced capacity utilization would lower investment over time, further aggravating the demand-reducing effect arising from the consumption side.

While the rise in the vector of labor productivities across countries, a ubiquitous phenomenon under capitalism that also characterizes neoliberal capitalism, scarcely requires an explanation, why does the vector of real wages remain virtually stagnant in the world economy? The answer lies in the sui generis character of contemporary globalization that, for the first time in the history of capitalism, has led to a relocation of activity from the metropolis to third world countries in order to take advantage of the lower wages prevailing in the latter and meet global demand.

Historically, while labor has not been, and is still not, free to migrate from the third world to the metropolis, capital, though juridically free to move from the latter to the former, did not actually do so , except to sectors like mines and plantations, which only strengthened, rather than broke, the colonial pattern of the international division of labor. 4 This segmentation of the world economy meant that wages in the metropolis increased with labor productivity, unrestrained by the vast labor reserves of the third world, which themselves had been caused by the displacement of manufactures through the twin processes of deindustrialization (competition from metropolitan goods) and the drain of surplus (the siphoning off of a large part of the economic surplus, through taxes on peasants that are no longer spent on local artisan products but finance gratis primary commodity exports to the metropolis instead).

The current globalization broke with this. The movement of capital from the metropolis to the third world, especially to East, South, and Southeast Asia to relocate plants there and take advantage of their lower wages for meeting global demand, has led to a desegmentation of the world economy, subjecting metropolitan wages to the restraining effect exercised by the third world's labor reserves. Not surprisingly, as Joseph Stiglitz has pointed out, the real-wage rate of an average male U.S. worker in 2011 was no higher -- indeed, it was marginally lower -- than it had been in 1968. 5

At the same time, such relocation of activities, despite causing impressive growth rates of gross domestic product (GDP) in many third world countries, does not lead to the exhaustion of the third world's labor reserves. This is because of another feature of contemporary globalization: the unleashing of a process of primitive accumulation of capital against petty producers, including peasant agriculturists in the third world, who had earlier been protected, to an extent, from the encroachment of big capital (both domestic and foreign) by the postcolonial dirigiste regimes in these countries. Under neoliberalism, such protection is withdrawn, causing an income squeeze on these producers and often their outright dispossession from their land, which is then used by big capital for its various so-called development projects. The increase in employment, even in countries with impressive GDP growth rates in the third world, falls way short of the natural growth of the workforce, let alone absorbing the additional job seekers coming from the ranks of displaced petty producers. The labor reserves therefore never get used up. Indeed, on the contrary, they are augmented further, because real wages continue to remain tied to a subsistence level, even as metropolitan wages too are restrained. The vector of real wages in the world economy as a whole therefore remains restrained.

Although contemporary globalization thus gives rise to an ex ante tendency toward overproduction, state expenditure that could provide a counter to this (and had provided a counter through military spending in the United States, according to Baran and Sweezy) can no longer do so under the current regime. Finance is usually opposed to direct state intervention through larger spending as a way of increasing employment. This opposition expresses itself through an opposition not just to larger taxes on capitalists, but also to a larger fiscal deficit for financing such spending. Obviously, if larger state spending is financed by taxes on workers, then it hardly adds to aggregate demand, for workers spend the bulk of their incomes anyway, so the state taking this income and spending it instead does not add any extra demand. Hence, larger state spending can increase employment only if it is financed either through a fiscal deficit or through taxes on capitalists who keep a part of their income unspent or saved. But these are precisely the two modes of financing state expenditure that finance capital opposes.

Its opposing larger taxes on capitalists is understandable, but why is it so opposed to a larger fiscal deficit? Even within a capitalist economy, there are no sound economic theoretical reasons that should preclude a fiscal deficit under all circumstances. The root of the opposition therefore lies in deeper social considerations: if the capitalist economic system becomes dependent on the state to promote employment directly , then this fact undermines the social legitimacy of capitalism. The need for the state to boost the animal spirits of the capitalists disappears and a perspective on the system that is epistemically exterior to it is provided to the people, making it possible for them to ask: If the state can do the job of providing employment, then why do we need the capitalists at all? It is an instinctive appreciation of this potential danger that underlies the opposition of capital, especially of finance, to any direct effort by the state to generate employment.

This ever-present opposition becomes decisive within a regime of globalization. As long as finance capital remains national -- that is, nation-based -- and the state is a nation-state, the latter can override this opposition under certain circumstances, such as in the post-Second World War period when capitalism was facing an existential crisis. But when finance capital is globalized, meaning, when it is free to move across country borders while the state remains a nation-state, its opposition to fiscal deficits becomes decisive. If the state does run large fiscal deficits against its wishes, then it would simply leave that country en masse , causing a financial crisis.

The state therefore capitulates to the demands of globalized finance capital and eschews direct fiscal intervention for increasing demand. It resorts to monetary policy instead since that operates through wealth holders' decisions, and hence does not undermine their social position. But, precisely for this reason, monetary policy is an ineffective instrument, as was evident in the United States in the aftermath of the 2007–09 crisis when even the pushing of interest rates down to zero scarcely revived activity. 6

It may be thought that this compulsion on the part of the state to accede to the demand of finance to eschew fiscal intervention for enlarging employment should not hold for the United States. Its currency being considered by the world's wealth holders to be "as good as gold" should make it immune to capital flight. But there is an additional factor operating in the case of the United States: that the demand generated by a bigger U.S. fiscal deficit would substantially leak abroad in a neoliberal setting, which would increase its external debt (since, unlike Britain in its heyday, it does not have access to any unrequited colonial transfers) for the sake of generating employment elsewhere. This fact deters any fiscal effort even in the United States to boost demand within a neoliberal setting. 7

Therefore, it follows that state spending cannot provide a counter to the ex ante tendency toward global overproduction within a regime of neoliberal globalization, which makes the world economy precariously dependent on occasional asset-price bubbles, primarily in the U.S. economy, for obtaining, at best, some temporary relief from the crisis. It is this fact that underlies the dead end that neoliberal capitalism has reached. Indeed, Donald Trump's resort to protectionism in the United States to alleviate unemployment is a clear recognition of the system having reached this cul-de-sac. The fact that the mightiest capitalist economy in the world has to move away from the rules of the neoliberal game in an attempt to alleviate its crisis of unemployment/underemployment -- while compensating capitalists adversely affected by this move through tax cuts, as well as carefully ensuring that no restraints are imposed on free cross-border financial flows -- shows that these rules are no longer viable in their pristine form.

Some Implications of This Dead End

There are at least four important implications of this dead end of neoliberalism. The first is that the world economy will now be afflicted by much higher levels of unemployment than it was in the last decade of the twentieth century and the early years of the twenty-first, when the dot-com and the housing bubbles in the United States had, sequentially, a pronounced impact. It is true that the U.S. unemployment rate today appears to be at a historic low, but this is misleading: the labor-force participation rate in the United States today is lower than it was in 2008, which reflects the discouraged-worker effect . Adjusting for this lower participation, the U.S. unemployment rate is considerable -- around 8 percent. Indeed, Trump would not be imposing protection in the United States if unemployment was actually as low as 4 percent, which is the official figure. Elsewhere in the world, of course, unemployment post-2008 continues to be evidently higher than before. Indeed, the severity of the current problem of below-full-employment production in the U.S. economy is best illustrated by capacity utilization figures in manufacturing. The weakness of the U.S. recovery from the Great Recession is indicated by the fact that the current extended recovery represents the first decade in the entire post-Second World War period in which capacity utilization in manufacturing has never risen as high as 80 percent in a single quarter, with the resulting stagnation of investment. 8

If Trump's protectionism, which recalls the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1931 and amounts to a beggar-my-neighbor policy, does lead to a significant export of unemployment from the United States, then it will invite retaliation and trigger a trade war that will only worsen the crisis for the world economy as a whole by dampening global investment. Indeed, since the United States has been targeting China in particular, some retaliatory measures have already appeared. But if U.S. protectionism does not invite generalized retaliation, it would only be because the export of unemployment from the United States is insubstantial, keeping unemployment everywhere, including in the United States, as precarious as it is now. However we look at it, the world would henceforth face higher levels of unemployment.

There has been some discussion on how global value chains would be affected by Trump's protectionism. But the fact that global macroeconomics in the early twenty-first century will look altogether different compared to earlier has not been much discussed.

In light of the preceding discussion, one could say that if, instead of individual nation-states whose writ cannot possibly run against globalized finance capital, there was a global state or a set of major nation-states acting in unison to override the objections of globalized finance and provide a coordinated fiscal stimulus to the world economy, then perhaps there could be recovery. Such a coordinated fiscal stimulus was suggested by a group of German trade unionists, as well as by John Maynard Keynes during the Great Depression in the 1930s. 9 While it was turned down then, in the present context it has not even been discussed.

The second implication of this dead end is that the era of export-led growth is by and large over for third world economies. The slowing down of world economic growth, together with protectionism in the United States against successful third world exporters, which could even spread to other metropolitan economies, suggests that the strategy of relying on the world market to generate domestic growth has run out of steam. Third world economies, including the ones that have been very successful at exporting, would now have to rely much more on their home market.

Such a transition will not be easy; it will require promoting domestic peasant agriculture, defending petty production, moving toward cooperative forms of production, and ensuring greater equality in income distribution, all of which need major structural shifts. For smaller economies, it would also require their coming together with other economies to provide a minimum size to the domestic market. In short, the dead end of neoliberalism also means the need for a shift away from the so-called neoliberal development strategy that has held sway until now.

The third implication is the imminent engulfing of a whole range of third world economies in serious balance-of-payments difficulties. This is because, while their exports will be sluggish in the new situation, this very fact will also discourage financial inflows into their economies, whose easy availability had enabled them to maintain current account deficits on their balance of payments earlier. In such a situation, within the existing neoliberal paradigm, they would be forced to adopt austerity measures that would impose income deflation on their people, make the conditions of their people significantly worse, lead to a further handing over of their national assets and resources to international capital, and prevent precisely any possible transition to an alternative strategy of home market-based growth.

In other words, we shall now have an intensification of the imperialist stranglehold over third world economies, especially those pushed into unsustainable balance-of-payments deficits in the new situation. By imperialism , here we do not mean the imperialism of this or that major power, but the imperialism of international finance capital, with which even domestic big bourgeoisies are integrated, directed against their own working people.

The fourth implication is the worldwide upsurge of fascism. Neoliberal capitalism even before it reached a dead end, even in the period when it achieved reasonable growth and employment rates, had pushed the world into greater hunger and poverty. For instance, the world per-capita cereal output was 355 kilograms for 1980 (triennium average for 1979–81 divided by mid–triennium population) and fell to 343 in 2000, leveling at 344.9 in 2016 -- and a substantial amount of this last figure went into ethanol production. Clearly, in a period of growth of the world economy, per-capita cereal absorption should be expanding, especially since we are talking here not just of direct absorption but of direct and indirect absorption, the latter through processed foods and feed grains in animal products. The fact that there was an absolute decline in per-capita output, which no doubt caused a decline in per-capita absorption, suggests an absolute worsening in the nutritional level of a substantial segment of the world's population.

But this growing hunger and nutritional poverty did not immediately arouse any significant resistance, both because such resistance itself becomes more difficult under neoliberalism (since the very globalization of capital makes it an elusive target) and also because higher GDP growth rates provided a hope that distress might be overcome in the course of time. Peasants in distress, for instance, entertained the hope that their children would live better in the years to come if given a modicum of education and accepted their fate.

In short, the ideology of neoliberal capitalism was the promise of growth. But with neoliberal capitalism reaching a dead end, this promise disappears and so does this ideological prop. To sustain itself, neoliberal capitalism starts looking for some other ideological prop and finds fascism. This changes the discourse away from the material conditions of people's lives to the so-called threat to the nation, placing the blame for people's distress not on the failure of the system, but on ethnic, linguistic, and religious minority groups, the other that is portrayed as an enemy. It projects a so-called messiah whose sheer muscularity can somehow magically overcome all problems; it promotes a culture of unreason so that both the vilification of the other and the magical powers of the supposed leader can be placed beyond any intellectual questioning; it uses a combination of state repression and street-level vigilantism by fascist thugs to terrorize opponents; and it forges a close relationship with big business, or, in Kalecki's words, "a partnership of big business and fascist upstarts." 10

Fascist groups of one kind or another exist in all modern societies. They move center stage and even into power only on certain occasions when they get the backing of big business. And these occasions arise when three conditions are satisfied: when there is an economic crisis so the system cannot simply go on as before; when the usual liberal establishment is manifestly incapable of resolving the crisis; and when the left is not strong enough to provide an alternative to the people in order to move out of the conjuncture.

This last point may appear odd at first, since many see the big bourgeoisie's recourse to fascism as a counter to the growth of the left's strength in the context of a capitalist crisis. But when the left poses a serious threat, the response of the big bourgeoisie typically is to attempt to split it by offering concessions. It uses fascism to prop itself up only when the left is weakened. Walter Benjamin's remark that "behind every fascism there is a failed revolution" points in this direction.

Fascism Then and Now

Contemporary fascism, however, differs in crucial respects from its 1930s counterpart, which is why many are reluctant to call the current phenomenon a fascist upsurge. But historical parallels, if carefully drawn, can be useful. While in some aforementioned respects contemporary fascism does resemble the phenomenon of the 1930s, there are serious differences between the two that must also be noted.

First, we must note that while the current fascist upsurge has put fascist elements in power in many countries, there are no fascist states of the 1930s kind as of yet. Even if the fascist elements in power try to push the country toward a fascist state, it is not clear that they will succeed. There are many reasons for this, but an important one is that fascists in power today cannot overcome the crisis of neoliberalism, since they accept the regime of globalization of finance. This includes Trump, despite his protectionism. In the 1930s, however, this was not the case. The horrors associated with the institution of a fascist state in the 1930s had been camouflaged to an extent by the ability of the fascists in power to overcome mass unemployment and end the Depression through larger military spending, financed by government borrowing. Contemporary fascism, by contrast, lacks the ability to overcome the opposition of international finance capital to fiscal activism on the part of the government to generate larger demand, output, and employment, even via military spending.

Such activism, as discussed earlier, required larger government spending financed either through taxes on capitalists or through a fiscal deficit. Finance capital was opposed to both of these measures and it being globalized made this opposition decisive . The decisiveness of this opposition remains even if the government happens to be one composed of fascist elements. Hence, contemporary fascism, straitjacketed by "fiscal rectitude," cannot possibly alleviate even temporarily the economic crises facing people and cannot provide any cover for a transition to a fascist state akin to the ones of the 1930s, which makes such a transition that much more unlikely.

Another difference is also related to the phenomenon of the globalization of finance. The 1930s were marked by what Lenin had earlier called "interimperialist rivalry." The military expenditures incurred by fascist governments, even though they pulled countries out of the Depression and unemployment, inevitably led to wars for "repartitioning an already partitioned world." Fascism was the progenitor of war and burned itself out through war at, needless to say, great cost to humankind.

Contemporary fascism, however, operates in a world where interimperialist rivalry is far more muted. Some have seen in this muting a vindication of Karl Kautsky's vision of an "ultraimperialism" as against Lenin's emphasis on the permanence of interimperialist rivalry, but this is wrong. Both Kautsky and Lenin were talking about a world where finance capital and the financial oligarchy were essentially national -- that is, German, French, or British. And while Kautsky talked about the possibility of truces among the rival oligarchies, Lenin saw such truces only as transient phenomena punctuating the ubiquity of rivalry.

In contrast, what we have today is not nation-based finance capitals, but international finance capital into whose corpus the finance capitals drawn from particular countries are integrated. This globalized finance capital does not want the world to be partitioned into economic territories of rival powers ; on the contrary, it wants the entire globe to be open to its own unrestricted movement. The muting of rivalry between major powers, therefore, is not because they prefer truce to war, or peaceful partitioning of the world to forcible repartitioning, but because the material conditions themselves have changed so that it is no longer a matter of such choices. The world has gone beyond both Lenin and Kautsky, as well as their debates.

Not only are we not going to have wars between major powers in this era of fascist upsurge (of course, as will be discussed, we shall have other wars), but, by the same token, this fascist upsurge will not burn out through any cataclysmic war. What we are likely to see is a lingering fascism of less murderous intensity , which, when in power, does not necessarily do away with all the forms of bourgeois democracy, does not necessarily physically annihilate the opposition, and may even allow itself to get voted out of power occasionally. But since its successor government, as long as it remains within the confines of the neoliberal strategy, will also be incapable of alleviating the crisis, the fascist elements are likely to return to power as well. And whether the fascist elements are in or out of power, they will remain a potent force working toward the fascification of the society and the polity, even while promoting corporate interests within a regime of globalization of finance, and hence permanently maintaining the "partnership between big business and fascist upstarts."

Put differently, since the contemporary fascist upsurge is not likely to burn itself out as the earlier one did, it has to be overcome by transcending the very conjuncture that produced it: neoliberal capitalism at a dead end. A class mobilization of working people around an alternative set of transitional demands that do not necessarily directly target neoliberal capitalism, but which are immanently unrealizable within the regime of neoliberal capitalism, can provide an initial way out of this conjuncture and lead to its eventual transcendence.

Such a class mobilization in the third world context would not mean making no truces with liberal bourgeois elements against the fascists. On the contrary, since the liberal bourgeois elements too are getting marginalized through a discourse of jingoistic nationalism typically manufactured by the fascists, they too would like to shift the discourse toward the material conditions of people's lives, no doubt claiming that an improvement in these conditions is possible within the neoliberal economic regime itself. Such a shift in discourse is in itself a major antifascist act . Experience will teach that the agenda advanced as part of this changed discourse is unrealizable under neoliberalism, providing the scope for dialectical intervention by the left to transcend neoliberal capitalism.

Imperialist Interventions

Even though fascism will have a lingering presence in this conjuncture of "neoliberalism at a dead end," with the backing of domestic corporate-financial interests that are themselves integrated into the corpus of international finance capital, the working people in the third world will increasingly demand better material conditions of life and thereby rupture the fascist discourse of jingoistic nationalism (that ironically in a third world context is not anti-imperialist).

In fact, neoliberalism reaching a dead end and having to rely on fascist elements revives meaningful political activity, which the heyday of neoliberalism had precluded, because most political formations then had been trapped within an identical neoliberal agenda that appeared promising. (Latin America had a somewhat different history because neoliberalism arrived in that continent through military dictatorships, not through its more or less tacit acceptance by most political formations.)

Such revived political activity will necessarily throw up challenges to neoliberal capitalism in particular countries. Imperialism, by which we mean the entire economic and political arrangement sustaining the hegemony of international finance capital, will deal with these challenges in at least four different ways.

The first is the so-called spontaneous method of capital flight. Any political formation that seeks to take the country out of the neoliberal regime will witness capital flight even before it has been elected to office, bringing the country to a financial crisis and thereby denting its electoral prospects. And if perchance it still gets elected, the outflow will only increase, even before it assumes office. The inevitable difficulties faced by the people may well make the government back down at that stage. The sheer difficulty of transition away from a neoliberal regime could be enough to bring even a government based on the support of workers and peasants to its knees, precisely to save them short-term distress or to avoid losing their support.

Even if capital controls are put in place, where there are current account deficits, financing such deficits would pose a problem, necessitating some trade controls. But this is where the second instrument of imperialism comes into play: the imposition of trade sanctions by the metropolitan states, which then cajole other countries to stop buying from the sanctioned country that is trying to break away from thralldom to globalized finance capital. Even if the latter would have otherwise succeeded in stabilizing its economy despite its attempt to break away, the imposition of sanctions becomes an additional blow.

The third weapon consists in carrying out so-called democratic or parliamentary coups of the sort that Latin America has been experiencing. Coups in the old days were effected through the local armed forces and necessarily meant the imposition of military dictatorships in lieu of civilian, democratically elected governments. Now, taking advantage of the disaffection generated within countries by the hardships caused by capital flight and imposed sanctions, imperialism promotes coups through fascist or fascist-sympathizing middle-class political elements in the name of restoring democracy, which is synonymous with the pursuit of neoliberalism.

And if all these measures fail, there is always the possibility of resorting to economic warfare (such as destroying Venezuela's electricity supply), and eventually to military warfare. Venezuela today provides a classic example of what imperialist intervention in a third world country is going to look like in the era of decline of neoliberal capitalism, when revolts are going to characterize such countries more and more.

Two aspects of such intervention are striking. One is the virtual unanimity among the metropolitan states, which only underscores the muting of interimperialist rivalry in the era of hegemony of global finance capital. The other is the extent of support that such intervention commands within metropolitan countries, from the right to even the liberal segments.

Despite this opposition, neoliberal capitalism cannot ward off the challenge it is facing for long. It has no vision for reinventing itself. Interestingly, in the period after the First World War, when capitalism was on the verge of sinking into a crisis, the idea of state intervention as a way of its revival had already been mooted, though its coming into vogue only occurred at the end of the Second World War. 11 Today, neoliberal capitalism does not even have an idea of how it can recover and revitalize itself. And weapons like domestic fascism in the third world and direct imperialist intervention cannot for long save it from the anger of the masses that is building up against it.

Notes
  1. Harry Magdoff, The Age of Imperialism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1969).
  2. Samuel Berrick Saul, Studies in British Overseas Trade, 1870–1914 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1960).
  3. Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy, Monopoly Capital (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1966).
  4. One of the first authors to recognize this fact and its significance was Paul Baran in The Political Economy of Growth (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1957).
  5. Joseph E. Stiglitz, " Inequality is Holding Back the Recovery ," New York Times , January 19, 2013.
  6. For a discussion of how even the recent euphoria about U.S. growth is vanishing, see C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh, " Vanishing Green Shoots and the Possibility of Another Crisis ," The Hindu Business Line , April 8, 2019.
  7. For the role of such colonial transfers in sustaining the British balance of payments and the long Victorian and Edwardian boom, see Utsa Patnaik, "Revisiting the 'Drain,' or Transfers from India to Britain in the Context of Global Diffusion of Capitalism," in Agrarian and Other Histories: Essays for Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri , ed. Shubhra Chakrabarti and Utsa Patnaik (Delhi: Tulika, 2017), 277-317.
  8. Federal Reserve Board of Saint Louis Economic Research, FRED, "Capacity Utilization: Manufacturing," February 2019 (updated March 27, 2019), http://fred.stlouisfed.org .
  9. This issue is discussed by Charles P. Kindleberger in The World in Depression, 1929–1939 , 40th anniversary ed. (Oakland: University of California Press, 2013).
  10. Michał Kalecki, " Political Aspects of Full Employment ," Political Quarterly (1943), available at mronline.org.
  11. Joseph Schumpeter had seen Keynes's The Economic Consequences of the Peace as essentially advocating such state intervention in the new situation. See his essay, "John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946)," in Ten Great Economists (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1952).

Utsa Patnaik is Professor Emerita at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her books include Peasant Class Differentiation (1987), The Long Transition (1999), and The Republic of Hunger and Other Essays (2007). Prabhat Patnaik is Professor Emeritus at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His books include Accumulation and Stability Under Capitalism (1997), The Value of Money(2009), and Re-envisioning Socialism(2011).

[Sep 10, 2019] How Deep Is the Rot in America s Institutions by Charles Hugh Smith

Highly recommended!
The question why the USA intelligence agencies were "unaware" about Epstein activities is an interesting one. Similar question can be asked about Hillary "activities" related to "Clinton cash".
Actually the way the USA elite deal with scandals is to ostracize any whistleblower and silence any media that tryt to dig the story. Open repression including physical elimination is seldom used those days as indirect methods are quite effective.
Notable quotes:
"... Either we root out every last source of rot by investigating, indicting and jailing every wrong-doer and everyone who conspired to protect the guilty in the Epstein case, or America will have sealed its final fall. ..."
"... If you doubt this, then please explain how 1) the NSA, CIA and FBI didn't know what Jeffrey Epstein was up to, and with whom; 2) Epstein was free to pursue his sexual exploitation of minors for years prior to his wrist-slap conviction and for years afterward; 3) Epstein, the highest profile and most at-risk prisoner in the nation, was left alone and the security cameras recording his cell and surroundings were "broken." ..."
"... America's ruling class has crucified whistleblowers , especially those uncovering fraud in the defense (military-industrial-security) and financial (tax evasion) sectors and blatant violations of public trust, civil liberties and privacy. ..."
"... Needless to say, a factual accounting of corruption, cronyism, incompetence, self-serving exploitation of the many by the few, etc. is not welcome in America. Look at the dearth of investigative resources America's corporate media is devoting to digging down to the deepest levels of rot in the Epstein case. ..."
Sep 09, 2019 | www.oftwominds.com

Either we root out every last source of rot by investigating, indicting and jailing every wrong-doer and everyone who conspired to protect the guilty in the Epstein case, or America will have sealed its final fall.

When you discover rot in an apparently sound structure, the first question is: how far has the rot penetrated? If the rot has reached the foundation and turned it to mush, the structure is one wind-storm from collapse.

How deep has the rot of corruption, fraud, abuse of power, betrayal of the public trust, blatant criminality and insiders protecting the guilty penetrated America's key public and private institutions? It's difficult to tell, as the law-enforcement and security agencies are themselves hopelessly compromised.

If you doubt this, then please explain how 1) the NSA, CIA and FBI didn't know what Jeffrey Epstein was up to, and with whom; 2) Epstein was free to pursue his sexual exploitation of minors for years prior to his wrist-slap conviction and for years afterward; 3) Epstein, the highest profile and most at-risk prisoner in the nation, was left alone and the security cameras recording his cell and surroundings were "broken."

If this all strikes you as evidence that America's security and law-enforcement institutions are functioning at a level that's above reproach, then 1) you're a well-paid shill who's protecting the guilty lest your own misdeeds come to light or 2) your consumption of mind-bending meds is off the charts.

How deep has the rot gone in America's ruling elite? One way to measure the depth of the rot is to ask how whistleblowers who've exposed the ugly realities of insider dealing, malfeasance, tax evasion, cover-ups, etc. have fared.

America's ruling class has crucified whistleblowers , especially those uncovering fraud in the defense (military-industrial-security) and financial (tax evasion) sectors and blatant violations of public trust, civil liberties and privacy.

Needless to say, a factual accounting of corruption, cronyism, incompetence, self-serving exploitation of the many by the few, etc. is not welcome in America. Look at the dearth of investigative resources America's corporate media is devoting to digging down to the deepest levels of rot in the Epstein case.

The closer wrong-doing and wrong-doers are to protected power-elites, the less attention the mass media devotes to them.

... ... ...

Here are America's media, law enforcement/security agencies and "leadership" class: they speak no evil, see no evil and hear no evil, in the misguided belief that their misdirection, self-service and protection of the guilty will make us buy the narrative that America's ruling elite and all the core institutions they manage aren't rotten to the foundations.

Either we root out every last source of rot by investigating, indicting and jailing every wrong-doer and everyone who conspired to protect the guilty in the Epstein case, or America will have sealed its final fall.

[Sep 02, 2019] Questions Nobody Is Asking About Jeffrey Epstein by Eric Rasmusen

Highly recommended!
While details on Epstein death are not interesting (he ended like a regular pimp) the corruption of high level officials his case revealed in more troubling.
Notable quotes:
"... Epstein was released, and various lawsuits were filed against him and settled out of court, presumably in exchange for silence. The media was quiet or complimentary as Epstein worked his way back into high society. ..."
"... What would I do if I were Epstein? I'd try to get the President, the Attorney-General, or the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to shut down the investigation before it went public. I'd have all my friends and all my money try to pressure them. If it failed and I were arrested, it would be time for the backup plan -- the Deal. I'd try to minimize my prison time, and, just as important, to be put in one of the nicer federal prisons where I could associate with financial wizards and drug lords instead of serial killers, black nationalists, and people with bad breath. ..."
"... What about the powerful people Epstein would turn in to get his deal? They aren't as smart as Epstein, but they would know the Deal was coming -- that Epstein would be quite happy to sacrifice them in exchange for a prison with a slightly better golf course. What could they do? There's only one good option -- to kill Epstein, and do it quickly, before he could start giving information samples to the U. S. Attorney. ..."
"... Trying to kill informers is absolutely routine in the mafia, or indeed, for gangs of any kind. ..."
"... Famous politicians, unlike gangsters, don't have full-time professional hit men on their staffs, but that's just common sense -- politicians rarely need hit men, so it makes more sense to hire them on a piecework basis than as full-time employees. How would they find hit men? You or I wouldn't know how to start, but it would be easy for them. Rich powerful people have bodyguards. Bodyguards are for defense, but the guys who do defense know guys who do offense. And Epstein's friends are professional networkers. One reporter said of Ghislaine Maxwell, "Her Rolodex would blow away almost anyone else's I can think of -- probably even Rupert Murdoch's." They know people who know people. Maybe I'm six degrees of separation from a mafia hit man, but not Ghislaine Maxwell. I bet she knows at least one mafioso personally who knows more than one hit man. ..."
"... Or, if you can hire a New York Times reporter for $30,000 ( as Epstein famously did a couple of years ago), you can spend $200,000 on a competent hit man to make double sure. Government incompetence does not lend support to the suicide theory; quite the opposite. ..."
"... Statutory rape is not a federal crime ..."
"... At any time from 2008 to the present, Florida and New York prosecutors could have gone after Epstein and easily convicted him. The federal nonprosecution agreement did not bind them. And, of course, it is not just Epstein who should have been prosecuted. Other culprits such as Prince Andrew are still at large. ..."
"... Why isn't anybody but Ann Coulter talking about Barry Krischer and Ric Bradshaw, the Florida state prosecutor and sheriff who went easy on Epstein, or the New York City police who let him violate the sex offender regulations? ..."
"... Krischer refused to use the evidence the Palm Beach police gave him except to file a no-jail-time prostitution charge (they eventually went to Acosta, the federal prosecutor, instead, who got a guilty plea with an 18-month sentence). Bradshaw let him spend his days at home instead of at jail. ..."
"... In New York State, the county prosecutor, Cyrus Vance, fought to prevent Epstein from being classified as a Level III sex offender. Once he was, the police didn't enforce the rule that required him to check in every 90 days. ..."
"... Trafficking is a federal offense, so it would have to involve commerce across state lines. It also must involve sale and profit, not just personal pleasure. ..."
"... Here, the publicity and investigative lead is what is most important, because these are reputable and rich offenders for whom publicity is a bigger threat than losing in court. They have very good lawyers, and probably aren't guilty of federal crimes anyway, just state crimes, in corrupt states where they can use clout more effectively. Thus, killing potential informants before they tell the public is more important than killing informants to prevent their testimony at trial, a much more leisurely task. ..."
"... Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is the only government official who is clearly trustworthy, because he could have stopped the 2019 Epstein indictment and he didn't. I don't think Attorney-General Barr could have blocked it, and I don't think President Trump could have except by firing Berman. ..."
"... "It was that heart-wrenching series that caught the attention of Congress. Ben Sasse, the Republican senator from Nebraska, joined with his Democratic colleagues and demanded to know how justice had been so miscarried. ..."
"... President Trump didn't have anything personally to fear from Epstein. He is too canny to have gotten involved with him, and the press has been eagerly at work to find the slightest connection between him and Epstein and have come up dry as far as anything but acquaintanceship. But we must worry about a cover-up anyway, because rich and important people would be willing to pay Trump a lot in money or, more likely, in political support, if he does a cover-up. ..."
"... he sealing was completely illegal, as the appeals court politely but devastatingly noted in 2019, and the documents were released a day or two before Epstein died. Someone should check into Judge Sweet's finance and death. He was an ultra-Establishment figure -- a Yale man, alas, like me, and Taft School -- so he might just have been protecting what he considered good people, but his decision to seal the court records was grossly improper. ..."
"... Did Epstein have any dealings in sex, favors, or investments with any Republican except Wexner? ..."
"... Dershowitz, Mitchell, Clinton, Richardson, Dubin, George Stephanopolous, Lawrence Krauss, Katie Couric, Mortimer Zuckerman, Chelsea Handler, Cyrus Vance, and Woody Allen, are all Democrats. Did Epstein ever make use of Republicans? Don't count Trump, who has not been implicated despite the media's best efforts and was probably not even a Republican back in the 90's. Don't count Ken Starr– he's just one of Epstein's lawyers. Don't count scientists who just took money gifts from him. (By the way, Epstein made very little in the way of political contributions , though that little went mostly to Democrats ( $139,000 vs. $18,000 . I bet he extracted more from politicians than he gave to them. ..."
"... What role did Israeli politician Ehud Barak play in all this? ..."
"... Remember Marc Rich? He was a billionaire who fled the country to avoid a possible 300 years prison term, and was pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2001. Ehud Barak, one of Epstein's friends, was one of the people who asked for Rich to be pardoned . Epstein, his killers, and other rich people know that as a last resort they can flee the country and wait for someone like Clinton to come to office and pardon them. ..."
"... "intelligence" is also the kind of excuse people make up so they don't have to say "political pressure." ..."
"... James Patterson and John Connolly published Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal that Undid Him , and All the Justice that Money Can Buy: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein . Conchita Sarnoff published TrafficKing: The Jeffrey Epstein Case. I never heard of these before 2019. Did the media bury them? ..."
"... There seems to have been an orchestrated attempt to divert attention to the issue of suicides in prison. Subtle differences in phrasing might help reveal who's been paid off. National Review had an article, "The Conspiracy Theories about Jeffrey Epstein's Death Don't Make Much Sense." The article contains no evidence or argument to support the headline's assertion, just bluster about "madness" and "conspiracy theories". Who else publishes stuff like this? ..."
"... The New York Times was, to its credit, willing to embarrass other publications by 2019. But the Times itself had been part of the cover-up in previous years . Who else was? ..."
"... Not one question involving Maurene Comey, then? She was one of the SDNY prosecutors assigned to this case, and her name has been significantly played down (if at all visible) in the reportage before or after Epstein's death. That she just "happened" to be on this case at all is quite an eyebrow raiser especially with her father under the ongoing "Spygate" investigation ..."
"... As important as it is to go on asking questions about the life and death of Jeffrey Epstein, I have to admit that personally I'm just not interested. I've always found people of his social class to be vaguely repulsive even without the sordid sex allegations. Just their demanding personalities, just the thought of them hanging around in their terrycloth jogging suits, sneering at the world with their irrefrangible arrogance, is enough to make me shudder. I want nothing of their nightmare world; and when they die, I couldn't care less. ..."
"... We are supposed to have faith in this rubbish? The cameras malfunctioned. He didn't have a cellmate. The guards were tired and forced to work overtime. ..."
"... One tiny mention of Jewish magnate Les Wexner but no mention how he & the Bronfmans founded the 'Mega Group' of ultra-Zionist billionaires regularly meeting as to how they could prop up the Jewish state by any & all means, Wexner being the source of many Epstein millions, the original buyer of the NYC mansion he transferred to Epstein etc the excellent Epstein series by Whitney Webb on Mint Press covering all this https://www.mintpressnews.com/author/whitney-webb/ ..."
"... ex-OSS father Donald Barr had written a 'fantasy novel' on sex slavery with scenes of rape of underage teens, 'Space Relations', written whilst Don Barr was headmaster of the Dalton school, which gave Epstein his first job, teaching teens ..."
Sep 02, 2019 | www.unz.com

The Jeffrey Epstein case is notable for the ups and downs in media coverage it's gotten over the years. Everybody, it seems, in New York society knew by 2000 that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were corrupting teenage girls, but the press wouldn't cover it. Articles by New York in 2002 and Vanity Fair in 2003 alluded to it gently, while probing Epstein's finances more closely. In 2005, the Palm Beach police investigated. The county prosecutor, Democrat Barry Krischer, wouldn't prosecute for more than prostitution, so they went to the federal prosecutor, Republican Alexander Acosta, and got the FBI involved. Acosta's office prepared an indictment, but before it was filed, he made a deal: Epstein agreed to plead guilty to a state law felony and receive a prison term of 18 months. In exchange, the federal interstate sex trafficking charges would not be prosecuted by Acosta's office. Epstein was officially at the county jail for 13 months, where the county officials under Democratic Sheriff Ric Bradshaw gave him scandalously easy treatment , letting him spend his days outside, and letting him serve a year of probation in place of the last 5 months of his sentence. Acosta's office complained, but it was a county jail, not a federal jail, so he was powerless.

Epstein was released, and various lawsuits were filed against him and settled out of court, presumably in exchange for silence. The media was quiet or complimentary as Epstein worked his way back into high society. Two books were written about the affair, and fell flat. The FBI became interested again around 2011 ( a little known fact ) and maybe things were happening behind the scenes, but the next big event was in 2018 when the Miami Herald published a series of investigative articles rehashing what had happened.

In 2019 federal prosecutors indicted Epstein, he was put in jail, and he mysteriously died. Now, after much complaining in the press about how awful jails are and how many people commit suicide, things are quiet again, at least until the Justice Department and the State of Florida finish their investigation a few years from now. (For details and more links, see " Investigation: Jeffrey Epstein "at Medium.com and " Jeffrey Epstein " at Wikipedia .)

I'm an expert in the field of "game theory", strategic thinking. What would I do if I were Epstein? I'd try to get the President, the Attorney-General, or the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to shut down the investigation before it went public. I'd have all my friends and all my money try to pressure them. If it failed and I were arrested, it would be time for the backup plan -- the Deal. I'd try to minimize my prison time, and, just as important, to be put in one of the nicer federal prisons where I could associate with financial wizards and drug lords instead of serial killers, black nationalists, and people with bad breath.

That's what Epstein would do. What about the powerful people Epstein would turn in to get his deal? They aren't as smart as Epstein, but they would know the Deal was coming -- that Epstein would be quite happy to sacrifice them in exchange for a prison with a slightly better golf course. What could they do? There's only one good option -- to kill Epstein, and do it quickly, before he could start giving information samples to the U. S. Attorney.

Trying to kill informers is absolutely routine in the mafia, or indeed, for gangs of any kind. The reason people call such talk "conspiracy theories" when it comes to Epstein is that his friends are WASPs and Jews, not Italians and Mexicans. But WASPs and Jews are human too. They want to protect themselves. Famous politicians, unlike gangsters, don't have full-time professional hit men on their staffs, but that's just common sense -- politicians rarely need hit men, so it makes more sense to hire them on a piecework basis than as full-time employees. How would they find hit men? You or I wouldn't know how to start, but it would be easy for them. Rich powerful people have bodyguards. Bodyguards are for defense, but the guys who do defense know guys who do offense. And Epstein's friends are professional networkers. One reporter said of Ghislaine Maxwell, "Her Rolodex would blow away almost anyone else's I can think of -- probably even Rupert Murdoch's." They know people who know people. Maybe I'm six degrees of separation from a mafia hit man, but not Ghislaine Maxwell. I bet she knows at least one mafioso personally who knows more than one hit man.

In light of this, it would be very surprising if someone with a spare $50 million to spend to solve the Epstein problem didn't give it a try. A lot of people can be bribed for $50 million. Thus, we should have expected to see bribery attempts. If none were detected, it must have been because prison workers are not reporting they'd been approached.

Some people say that government incompetence is always a better explanation than government malfeasance. That's obviously wrong -- when an undeserving business gets a contract, it's not always because the government official in charge was just not paying attention. I can well believe that prisons often take prisoners off of suicide watch too soon, have guards who go to sleep and falsify records, remove cellmates from prisoners at risk of suicide or murder, let the TV cameras watching their most important prisoners go on the blink, and so forth. But that cuts both ways.

Remember, in the case of Epstein, we'd expect a murder attempt whether the warden of the most important federal jail in the country is competent or not. If the warden is incompetent, we should expect that murder attempt to succeed. Murder becomes all the more more plausible. Instead of spending $50 million to bribe 20 guards and the warden, you just pay some thug $30,000 to walk in past the snoring guards, open the cell door, and strangle the sleeping prisoner, no fancy James Bond necessary. Or, if you can hire a New York Times reporter for $30,000 ( as Epstein famously did a couple of years ago), you can spend $200,000 on a competent hit man to make double sure. Government incompetence does not lend support to the suicide theory; quite the opposite.

Now to my questions.

Why is nobody blaming the Florida and New York state prosecutors for not prosecuting Epstein and others for statutory rape?

Statutory rape is not a federal crime, so it is not something the Justice Dept. is supposed to investigate or prosecute. They are going after things like interstate sex trafficking. Interstate sex trafficking is generally much harder to prove than statutory rape, which is very easy if the victims will testify.

At any time from 2008 to the present, Florida and New York prosecutors could have gone after Epstein and easily convicted him. The federal nonprosecution agreement did not bind them. And, of course, it is not just Epstein who should have been prosecuted. Other culprits such as Prince Andrew are still at large.

Note that if even if the evidence is just the girl's word against Ghislaine Maxwell's or Prince Andrew's, it's still quite possible to get a jury to convict. After all, who would you believe, in a choice between Maxwell, Andrew, and Anyone Else in the World? For an example of what can be done if the government is eager to convict, instead of eager to protect important people, see the 2019 Cardinal Pell case in Australia. He was convicted by the secret testimony of a former choirboy, the only complainant, who claimed Pell had committed indecent acts during a chance encounter after Mass before Pell had even unrobed. Naturally, the only cardinal to be convicted of anything in the Catholic Church scandals is also the one who's done the most to fight corruption. Where there's a will, there's a way to prosecute. It's even easier to convict someone if he's actually guilty.

Why isn't anybody but Ann Coulter talking about Barry Krischer and Ric Bradshaw, the Florida state prosecutor and sheriff who went easy on Epstein, or the New York City police who let him violate the sex offender regulations?

Krischer refused to use the evidence the Palm Beach police gave him except to file a no-jail-time prostitution charge (they eventually went to Acosta, the federal prosecutor, instead, who got a guilty plea with an 18-month sentence). Bradshaw let him spend his days at home instead of at jail.

In New York State, the county prosecutor, Cyrus Vance, fought to prevent Epstein from being classified as a Level III sex offender. Once he was, the police didn't enforce the rule that required him to check in every 90 days.

How easy would it have been to prove in 2016 or 2019 that Epstein and his people were guilty of federal sex trafficking?

Not easy, I should think. It wouldn't be enough to prove that Epstein debauched teenagers. Trafficking is a federal offense, so it would have to involve commerce across state lines. It also must involve sale and profit, not just personal pleasure. The 2019 indictment is weak on this. The "interstate commerce" looks like it's limited to Epstein making phone calls between Florida and New York. This is why I am not completely skeptical when former U.S. Attorney Acosta says that the 2008 nonprosecution deal was reasonable. He had strong evidence the Epstein violated Florida state law -- but that wasn't relevant. He had to prove violations of federal law.

Why didn't Epstein ask the Court, or the Justice Dept., for permission to have an unarmed guard share his cell with him?

Epstein had no chance at bail without bribing the judge, but this request would have been reasonable. That he didn't request a guard is, I think, the strongest evidence that he wanted to die. If he didn't commit suicide himself, he was sure making it easy for someone else to kill him.

Could Epstein have used the safeguard of leaving a trove of photos with a friend or lawyer to be published if he died an unnatural death?

Well, think about it -- Epstein's lawyer was Alan Dershowitz. If he left photos with someone like Dershowitz, that someone could earn a lot more by using the photos for blackmail himself than by dutifully carrying out his perverted customer's instructions. The evidence is just too valuable, and Epstein was someone whose friends weren't the kind of people he could trust. Probably not even his brother.

Who is in danger of dying next?

Prison workers from guard to warden should be told that if they took bribes, their lives are now in danger. Prison guards may not be bright enough to realize this. Anybody who knows anything important about Epstein should be advised to publicize their information immediately. That is the best way to stay alive.

This is not like a typical case where witnesses get killed so they won't testify. It's not like with gangsters. Here, the publicity and investigative lead is what is most important, because these are reputable and rich offenders for whom publicity is a bigger threat than losing in court. They have very good lawyers, and probably aren't guilty of federal crimes anyway, just state crimes, in corrupt states where they can use clout more effectively. Thus, killing potential informants before they tell the public is more important than killing informants to prevent their testimony at trial, a much more leisurely task.

What happened to Epstein's body?

The Justice Dept. had better not have let Epstein's body be cremated. And they'd better give us convincing evidence that it's his body. If I had $100 million to get out of jail with, acquiring a corpse and bribing a few people to switch fingerprints and DNA wouldn't be hard. I find it worrying that the government has not released proof that Epstein is dead or a copy of the autopsy.

Was Epstein's jail really full of mice?

The New York Times says,

"Beyond its isolation, the wing is infested with rodents and cockroaches, and inmates often have to navigate standing water -- as well as urine and fecal matter -- that spills from faulty plumbing, accounts from former inmates and lawyers said. One lawyer said mice often eat his clients' papers."

" Often have to navigate standing water"? "Mice often eat his clients' papers?" Really? I'm skeptical. What do the vermin eat -- do inmates leave Snickers bars open in their cells? Has anyone checked on what the prison conditions really like?

Is it just a coincidence that Epstein made a new will two days before he died?

I can answer this one. Yes, it is coincidence, though it's not a coincidence that he rewrote the will shortly after being denied bail. The will leaves everything to a trust, and it is the trust document (which is confidential), not the will (which is public), that determines who gets the money. Probably the only thing that Epstein changed in his will was the listing of assets, and he probably changed that because he'd just updated his list of assets for the bail hearing anyway, so it was a convenient time to update the will.

Did Epstein's veiled threat against DOJ officials in his bail filing backfire?

Epstein's lawyers wrote in his bail request,

"If the government is correct that the NPA does not, and never did, preclude a prosecution in this district, then the government will likely have to explain why it purposefully delayed a prosecution of someone like Mr. Epstein, who registered as a sex offender 10 years ago and was certainly no stranger to law enforcement. There is no legitimate explanation for the delay."

I see this as a veiled threat. The threat is that Epstein would subpoena people and documents from the Justice Department relevant to the question of why there was a ten-year delay before prosecution, to expose the illegitimate explanation for the delay. Somebody is to blame for that delay, and court-ordered disclosure is a bigger threat than an internal federal investigation.

Who can we trust?

Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is the only government official who is clearly trustworthy, because he could have stopped the 2019 Epstein indictment and he didn't. I don't think Attorney-General Barr could have blocked it, and I don't think President Trump could have except by firing Berman. I do trust Attorney-General Barr, however, from what I've heard of him and because he instantly and publicly said he would have not just the FBI but the Justice Dept. Inspector-General investigate Epstein's death, and he quickly fired the federal prison head honcho. The FBI is untrustworthy, but Inspector-Generals are often honorable.

Someone else who may be a hero in this is Senator Ben Sasse. Vicki Ward writes in the Daily Beast :

"It was that heart-wrenching series that caught the attention of Congress. Ben Sasse, the Republican senator from Nebraska, joined with his Democratic colleagues and demanded to know how justice had been so miscarried.

Given the political sentiment, it's unsurprising that the FBI should feel newly emboldened to investigate Epstein -- basing some of their work on Brown's excellent reporting."

Will President Trump Cover Up Epstein's Death in Exchange for Political Leverage?

President Trump didn't have anything personally to fear from Epstein. He is too canny to have gotten involved with him, and the press has been eagerly at work to find the slightest connection between him and Epstein and have come up dry as far as anything but acquaintanceship. But we must worry about a cover-up anyway, because rich and important people would be willing to pay Trump a lot in money or, more likely, in political support, if he does a cover-up.

Why did Judge Sweet order Epstein documents sealed in 2017. Did he die naturally in 2019?

Judge Robert Sweet in 2017 ordered all documents in an Epstein-related case sealed. He died in May 2019 at age 96, at home in Idaho. The sealing was completely illegal, as the appeals court politely but devastatingly noted in 2019, and the documents were released a day or two before Epstein died. Someone should check into Judge Sweet's finance and death. He was an ultra-Establishment figure -- a Yale man, alas, like me, and Taft School -- so he might just have been protecting what he considered good people, but his decision to seal the court records was grossly improper.

Did Epstein have any dealings in sex, favors, or investments with any Republican except Wexner?

Dershowitz, Mitchell, Clinton, Richardson, Dubin, George Stephanopolous, Lawrence Krauss, Katie Couric, Mortimer Zuckerman, Chelsea Handler, Cyrus Vance, and Woody Allen, are all Democrats. Did Epstein ever make use of Republicans? Don't count Trump, who has not been implicated despite the media's best efforts and was probably not even a Republican back in the 90's. Don't count Ken Starr– he's just one of Epstein's lawyers. Don't count scientists who just took money gifts from him. (By the way, Epstein made very little in the way of political contributions , though that little went mostly to Democrats ( $139,000 vs. $18,000 . I bet he extracted more from politicians than he gave to them.

What role did Israeli politician Ehud Barak play in all this?

Remember Marc Rich? He was a billionaire who fled the country to avoid a possible 300 years prison term, and was pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2001. Ehud Barak, one of Epstein's friends, was one of the people who asked for Rich to be pardoned . Epstein, his killers, and other rich people know that as a last resort they can flee the country and wait for someone like Clinton to come to office and pardon them.

Acosta said that Washington Bush Administration people told him to go easy on Epstein because he was an intelligence source. That is plausible. Epstein had info and blackmailing ability with people like Ehud Barak, leader of Israel's Labor Party. But "intelligence" is also the kind of excuse people make up so they don't have to say "political pressure."

Why did nobody pay attention to the two 2016 books on Epstein?

James Patterson and John Connolly published Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal that Undid Him , and All the Justice that Money Can Buy: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein . Conchita Sarnoff published TrafficKing: The Jeffrey Epstein Case. I never heard of these before 2019. Did the media bury them?

Which newspapers reported Epstein's death as "suicide" and which as "apparent suicide"?

More generally, which media outlets seem to be trying to brush Epstein's death under the rug? There seems to have been an orchestrated attempt to divert attention to the issue of suicides in prison. Subtle differences in phrasing might help reveal who's been paid off. National Review had an article, "The Conspiracy Theories about Jeffrey Epstein's Death Don't Make Much Sense." The article contains no evidence or argument to support the headline's assertion, just bluster about "madness" and "conspiracy theories". Who else publishes stuff like this?

How much did Epstein corrupt the media from 2008 to 2019?

Even outlets that generally publish good articles must be suspected of corruption. Epstein made an effort to get good publicity. The New York Times wrote,

"The effort led to the publication of articles describing him as a selfless and forward-thinking philanthropist with an interest in science on websites like Forbes, National Review and HuffPost .

All three articles have been removed from their sites in recent days, after inquiries from The New York Times .

The National Review piece, from the same year, called him "a smart businessman" with a "passion for cutting-edge science."

Ms. Galbraith was also a publicist for Mr. Epstein, according to several news releases promoting Mr. Epstein's foundations In the article that appeared on the National Review site, she described him as having "given thoughtfully to countless organizations that help educate underprivileged children."

"We took down the piece, and regret publishing it," Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review since 1997, said in an email. He added that the publication had "had a process in place for a while now to weed out such commercially self-interested pieces from lobbyists and PR flacks.""

The New York Times was, to its credit, willing to embarrass other publications by 2019. But the Times itself had been part of the cover-up in previous years . Who else was?

Eric Rasmusen is an economist who has held an endowed chair at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and visiting positions at Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, the Harvard Economics Department, Chicago's Booth School of Business, Nuffield College/Oxford, and the University of Tokyo Economics Department. He is best known for his book Games and Information. He has published extensively in law and economics, including recent articles on the burakumin outcastes in Japan, the use of game theory in jurisprudence, and quasi-concave functions. The views expressed here are his personal views and are not intended to represent the views of the Kelley School of Business or Indiana University. His vitae is at http://www.rasmusen.org/vita.htm .


Paul.Martin , says: September 2, 2019 at 3:54 am GMT

Not one question involving Maurene Comey, then? She was one of the SDNY prosecutors assigned to this case, and her name has been significantly played down (if at all visible) in the reportage before or after Epstein's death. That she just "happened" to be on this case at all is quite an eyebrow raiser especially with her father under the ongoing "Spygate" investigation

Apparently, there will always be many players on the field, and many ways to do damage control.

utu , says: September 2, 2019 at 4:43 am GMT

How easy would it have been to prove in 2016 or 2019 that Epstein and his people were guilty of federal sex trafficking?

It would be very easy for a motivated prosecutor.

Mann Act: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mann_Act The Mann Act was successfully used to prosecute several Christian preachers in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

So the problem was finding a motivated prosecutor in case of Jewish predator with very likely links to intelligence services of several countries. The motivation was obviously lacking.

Your "expertise" in game theory would be greatly improved if you let yourself consider the Jewish factor.

Intelligent Dasein , says: Website September 2, 2019 at 4:44 am GMT
As important as it is to go on asking questions about the life and death of Jeffrey Epstein, I have to admit that personally I'm just not interested. I've always found people of his social class to be vaguely repulsive even without the sordid sex allegations. Just their demanding personalities, just the thought of them hanging around in their terrycloth jogging suits, sneering at the world with their irrefrangible arrogance, is enough to make me shudder. I want nothing of their nightmare world; and when they die, I couldn't care less.
utu , says: September 2, 2019 at 4:46 am GMT

More generally, which media outlets seem to be trying to brush Epstein's death under the rug?

Not the National Enquirer:

Jeffrey Epstein Murder Cover-up Exposed!
Death Scene Staged to Look Like Suicide
Billionaire's Screams Ignored by Guards!
Fatal Attack Caught on Jail Cameras!
Autopsy is Hiding the Truth!

National Enquirer, Sept 2. 2019
https://reader.magzter.com/preview/7l5c5vd5t28thcmigloxel3670370/367037

Mark James , says: September 2, 2019 at 6:33 am GMT
I don't hold AG Barr in the high regard this piece does. While I'm not suggesting he had anything to do with Epstein's death I do think he's corrupt. I doubt he will do anything that leads to the truth. As for him relieving the warden of his duties, I would hope that was to be expected, wasn't it? I mean he only had two attempts on Epstein's life with the second being a success. Apparently the first didn't jolt the warden into some kind of action as it appears he was guilty of a number of sins including 'Sloth.'

As for the publications that don't like conspiracy theories –like the National Review -- they are a hoot. We are supposed to have faith in this rubbish? The cameras malfunctioned. He didn't have a cellmate. The guards were tired and forced to work overtime. There was no camera specifically in the cell with Epstein.
In the end I think Epstein probably was allowed to kill himself but I'm not confident in that scenario at all. And yes the media should pressure Barr to hav e a look in the cell and see exactly how a suicide attempt might have succeeded or if it was a long-shot at best, given the materiel and conditions.

SafeNow , says: September 2, 2019 at 6:49 am GMT
19. Why is the non-prosecution agreement ambiguous ("globally" binding), when it was written by the best lawyers in the country for a very wealthy client? Was the ambiguity bargained-for? If so, what are the implications?

20. With "globally" still being unresolved (to the bail judge's first-paragraph astonishment), why commit suicide now?

21. The "it was malfeasance" components are specified. For mere malfeasance to have been the cause, all of the components would have to be true; it would be a multiplicative function of the several components. Is no one sufficiently quantitative to estimate the magnitude?

22. What is the best single takeaway phrase that emerges from all of this? My nomination is: "In your face." The brazen, shameless, unprecedented, turning-point, in-your-faceness of it.

sally , says: September 2, 2019 at 7:32 am GMT
ER the answer is easy to you list of questions .. there is no law in the world when violations are not prosecuted and fair open for all to see trials are not held and judges do not deliver the appropriate penalties upon convictions. .. in cases involving the CIA prosecution it is unheard of that a open for all to see trial takes place.

This is why we the governed masses need a parallel government..

such an oversight government would allow to pick out the negligent or wilful misconduct of persons in functional government and prosecute such persons in the independent people's court.. Without a second government to oversee the first government there is no democracy; democracy cannot stand and the governed masses will never see the light of a fair day .. unless the masses have oversight authority on what is to be made into law, and are given without prejudice to their standing in America the right to charge those associated to government with negligent or wilful misconduct.

mypoint

Anonymous [425] Disclaimer , says: Website September 2, 2019 at 7:33 am GMT

https://www.youtube.com/embed/fMG8SVrqstg?feature=oembed

Brabantian , says: September 2, 2019 at 8:31 am GMT
There are big questions this article is not asking either

The words 'Mossad' seems not to appear above, and just a brief mention of 'Israel' with Ehud Barak

One tiny mention of Jewish magnate Les Wexner but no mention how he & the Bronfmans founded the 'Mega Group' of ultra-Zionist billionaires regularly meeting as to how they could prop up the Jewish state by any & all means, Wexner being the source of many Epstein millions, the original buyer of the NYC mansion he transferred to Epstein etc the excellent Epstein series by Whitney Webb on Mint Press covering all this
https://www.mintpressnews.com/author/whitney-webb/

Was escape to freedom & Israe,l the ultimate payoff for Epstein's decades of work for Mossad, grooming and abusing young teens, filmed in flagrante delicto with prominent people for political blackmail?

Is it not likely this was a Mossad jailbreak covered by fake 'suicide', with Epstein alive now, with US gov now also in possession of the assumed Epstein sexual blackmail video tapes?

We have the Epstein 'death in jail' under the US Attorney General Bill Barr, a former CIA officer 1973-77, the CIA supporting him thru night law school, Bill Barr's later law firm Kirkland Ellis representing Epstein

Whose Jewish-born ex-OSS father Donald Barr had written a 'fantasy novel' on sex slavery with scenes of rape of underage teens, 'Space Relations', written whilst Don Barr was headmaster of the Dalton school, which gave Epstein his first job, teaching teens

So would a crypto-Jewish 'former' CIA officer who is now USA Attorney General, possibly help a Mossad political blackmailer escape to Israel after a fake 'jail suicide'?

An intriguing 4chan post a few hours after Epstein's 'body was discovered', says Epstein was put in a wheelchair and driven out of the jail in a van, accompanied by a man in a green military uniform – timestamp is USA Pacific on the screencap apparently, so about 10:44 NYC time Sat.10 Aug

FWIW, drone video of Epstein's Little St James island from Friday 30 August, shows a man who could be Epstein himself, on the left by one vehicle, talking to a black man sitting on a quad all-terrain unit

Close up of Epstein-like man between vehicles, from video note 'pale finger' match-up to archive photo Epstein

Anon [261] Disclaimer , says: September 2, 2019 at 8:34 am GMT
The thing that sticks out for me is that Epstein was caught, charged, and went to jail previously, but he didn't die . The second time, it appears he was murdered. I strongly suspect that the person who murdered Epstein was someone who only met Epstein after 2008, or was someone Epstein only procured for after 2008. Otherwise, this person would have killed Epstein back when Epstein was charged by the cops the first time.

Either that, or the killer is someone who is an opponent of Trump, and this person was genuinely terrified that Trump would pressure the Feds to avoid any deals and to squeeze all the important names out of Epstein and prosecute them, too.

anonymous [340] Disclaimer , says: September 2, 2019 at 8:37 am GMT
The author professes himself "expert in the field of "game theory", strategic thinking," but he doesn't say how his 18 questions were arrived at to the exclusion of hundreds of others. Instead, the column includes several casual assumptions and speculation. For example:

As to this last, isn't "quickly [firing] the federal prison head honcho" consistent with a failure-to-prevent-suicide deflection strategy? And has Mr. Rasmusen not "heard" of the hiring of Mr. Epstein by Mr. Barr's father? Or of the father's own Establishment background?

I hope to be wrong, but my own hunch is that these investigations, like the parallel investigations of the RussiaGate hoax, will leave the elite unscathed. I also hope that in the meantime we see more rigorous columns here than this one.

Miro23 , says: September 2, 2019 at 9:45 am GMT

...Also, subsequently, it should have been a top priority to arrest Ghislaine Maxwell but the government, justice and media lack interest . Apparently, they don't know where she is, and they're not making any special efforts to find out.

Sick of Orcs , says: September 2, 2019 at 9:45 am GMT
Epstein had no "dead man's switch" which would release what he knew to media? C'mon! This is basic Villainy 101.

[Aug 11, 2019] https://www.mintpressnews.com/mega-group-maxwells-mossad-spy-story-jeffrey-epstein-scandal/261172/ by By Whitney Webb

Highly recommended!
Images removed. For full text the original source... test
Notable quotes:
"... Maxwell, who was a business partner of Mega Group co-founder Charles Bronfman, aided the successful Mossad plot to plant a trapdoor in U.S.-created software that was then sold to governments and companies throughout the world. That plot’s success was largely due to the role of a close associate of then-President Ronald Reagan and an American politician close to Maxwell, who later helped aid Reagan in the cover-up of the Iran Contra scandal. ..."
"... Years later, Maxwell’s daughter — Ghislaine Maxwell — would join Jeffrey Epstein’s “inner circle” at the same time Epstein was bankrolling a similar software program now being marketed for critical electronic infrastructure in the U.S. and abroad ..."
"... Epstein appears to have ties to Israeli intelligence and has well-documented ties to influential Israeli politicians and the Mega Group. Yet, those entities are not isolated in and of themselves, as many also connect to the organized crime network and powerful alleged pedophiles discussed in previous installments of this series. ..."
"... Associated Press ..."
"... Lauder, then-ambassador to Austria for the Reagan administration, would have been well-positioned to acquire such a passport, particularly for the reason cited by Epstein’s attorneys that Jewish-Americans could be targeted during travel, and in light of Lauder’s very public concerns over threats Jews face from certain terror groups. Furthermore, the passport had been issued in 1987, when Lauder was still serving as an ambassador. ..."
"... Though Epstein’s defense attorney declined to reveal the identity of the “friend” who provided him with the fake Austrian passport, Lauder was both well-positioned to acquire it in Austria and also deeply connected to the Mega Group, which was co-founded by Epstein’s patron Leslie Wexner and to which Epstein has many connections. These connections to both the Austrian government and to Epstein’s mentor make Lauder the most likely person to have acquired the document on Epstein’s behalf. ..."
"... Furthermore, Lauder co-founded the Eastern European broadcasting network CETV with Mark Palmer, a former U.S. diplomat, Kissinger aide and Reagan speechwriter. Palmer is better known for co-founding the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an organization often described as an accessory to U.S. intelligence, and one whose first president confessed to the Washington Post that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” A 2001 report in the Evening Standard noted that Epstein once claimed that during the 1980s he worked for the CIA, but Epstein later backed away from that assertion. ..."
"... The Mega Group — a secretive group of billionaires to which Lauder belongs — was formed in 1991 by Charles Bronfman and Leslie Wexner, the latter of whom has received considerable media scrutiny following the July arrest of his former protege Jeffrey Epstein. Media profiles of the group paint it as “a loosely organized club of 20 of the nation’s wealthiest and most influential Jewish businessmen” focused on “philanthropy and Jewishness,” with membership dues upwards of $30,000 per year. Yet several of its most prominent members have ties to organized crime. ..."
"... When Edgar Bronfman died in 2013, long-time ADL Director Abe Foxman said , “Edgar was for many years Chair of our Liquor Industry Division, Chair of our New York Appeal, and one of our most significant benefactors.” Other Mega Group members that are donors and major supporters of the ADL include Ronald Lauder , Michael Steinhardt and the late Max Fisher . As previously mentioned, Roy Cohn’s father was a long-time leader of B’nai B’rith’s influential New England-New York chapter and Cohn was later a celebrated member of its banking and finance lodge. ..."
"... In addition, Mega Group members have also been key players in the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. For instance, Max Fisher of the Mega Group founded the National Jewish Coalition, now known as the Republican Jewish Coalition — the main pro-Israel neoconservative political lobbying group , known for its support of hawkish policies, and whose current chief patrons, Sheldon Adelson and Bernard Marcus, are among Donald Trump’s top donors. ..."
"... Sam Bronfman, as was detailed in Part I of this series, had long-standing deep ties to organized crime, specifically Meyer Lanksy’s organized crime syndicate. Yet, Bronfman’s private ambition, according to those close to him, was to become a respected member of high society. As a consequence, Bronfman worked hard to remove the stain that his mob associations had left on his public reputation in Canada and abroad. He accomplished this by becoming a leader in Canada’s Zionist movement and, by the end of the 1930s, he was head of the Canadian Jewish Congress and had begun to make a name for himself as a philanthropist for Jewish causes. ..."
"... Yet even some of Bronfman’s activism and philanthropy had hints of the mobster-like reputation he tried so hard to shake. For instance, Bronfman was actively involved in the illegal shipping of arms to Zionist paramilitaries in Palestine prior to 1948, specifically as a co-founder of the National Conference for Israeli and Jewish Rehabilitation that smuggled weapons to the paramilitary group Haganah. ..."
"... However, Edgar and Charles Bronfman were hardly the only members of the Mega Group with deep and long-standing ties to the Lansky-led National Crime Syndicate. Indeed, one of the group’s prominent members, hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt, opened up about his own family ties to Lansky in his autobiography No Bull: My Life in and out the Markets , where he noted that his father, Sol “Red McGee” Steinhardt, was Lansky’s jewel fence of choice and a major player in New York’s criminal underworld. Sol Steinhardt was also his son’s first client on Wall Street and helped him jumpstart his career in finance. ..."
"... One surprise connection to Cohn involves Mega Group member, and former president of U.S. weapons firm General Dynamics, Lester Crown, whose brother-in-law is David Schine, Cohn’s confidant and alleged lover during the McCarthy hearings, whose relationship with Cohn helped bring about the downfall of McCarthyism. ..."
"... Leslie “Les” Wexner, the other Mega Group co-founder, also has ties to organized crime. Wexner’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein have come under scrutiny following the latter’s recent arrest, as Wexner was the only publicly acknowledged client of Epstein’s suspicious hedge fund, the source of much of this wealth, and the previous owner of Epstein’s $56 million Manhattan townhouse, which Wexner transferred to an Epstein-controlled entity for free. ..."
"... The 1996 Times article also noted that, after Wexner bought the residence for $13.2 million in 1989, he spent millions more decorating and furnishing the home, including the addition of the electronic equipment in the “James Bond” bathroom, only to apparently never live in it. ..."
"... Farmer’s account strongly suggests that, given the behavior of his personal security staff at his mansion following Epstein’s alleged assault on Farmer, Wexner was well aware of Epstein’s predatory behavior towards young women. This is compounded by claims made by Alan Dershowitz — a former lawyer for and friend of Epstein’s, who has also been accused of raping underage girls — that Wexner has also been accused of raping underage girls exploited by Epstein on at least seven occasions. ..."
"... The report, titled “ Shapiro Homicide Investigation: Analysis and Hypothesis ,” names Leslie Wexner as linked “with associates reputed to be organized crime figures” and also lists the names of businessman Jack Kessler, former Columbus City Council President and Wexner associate Jerry Hammond, and former Columbus City Council member Les Wright as also being involved in Shapiro’s murder. ..."
"... As to Wexner’s alleged links to organized crime, the report focuses on the close business relationship between Wexner’s The Limited and Francis Walsh, whose trucking company “[had] done an excess of 90 percent of the Limited’s trucking business around the time of Shapiro’s murder,” according to the report. Walsh was named in a 1988 indictment as a “co-conspirator” of Genovese crime family boss Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, whose long-time lawyer was Roy Cohn; and the Shapiro murder report stated that Walsh was “still considered associates of the Genovese/LaRocca crime family, and Walsh was still providing truck transportation for The Limited.” ..."
"... According to a source who viewed a copy of the NSA transcript of the conversation, the intelligence officer, speaking in Hebrew, said, ‘The ambassador wants me to go to Mega to get a copy of this letter.’ The source said the supervisor in Tel Aviv rejected the request, saying, ‘This is not something we use Mega for.’” ..."
"... Almost one year to the day after the “Mega” spy scandal broke, the Wall Street Journal was the first outlet to report on the existence of a little-known organization of billionaires that was “informally” called the Mega Group and had been founded years prior in 1991. The report made no mention of the spy scandal that had spread concerns of Israeli espionage in the U.S. only a year prior. However, the group’s distinctive “informal” name and the connections of its members to the Mossad and to high-ranking Israeli politicians, including prime ministers, raise the possibility that “Mega” was not an individual, as the FBI and NSA had believed, but a group. ..."
"... Netanyahu was close enough to Lauder that he personally enlisted Lauder and George Nader to serve as his peace envoys to Syria. ..."
"... Nader, who was connected to the Trump 2016 campaign and Trump ally and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, was recently hit with federal child sex trafficking charges last month, soon after Jeffrey Epstein had been arrested on similar charges. At the time Nader was picked to work with Lauder on Netanyahu’s behalf, he had already been caught possessing large amounts of child pornography on two separate occasions, first in 1984 and later in 1990. ..."
"... Maxwell was also a close associate and friend of Israeli “superspy” Rafi Eitan, who, as previously mentioned, was Jonathan Pollard’s handler and who had previously worked directly with Meyer Lansky. ..."
"... With Inslaw out of the way, Brian sold the software all over the world. Eitan later recruited Robert Maxwell to become another Promis salesman, which he did remarkably well, even succeeding in selling the software to Soviet intelligence and conspiring with Republican Texas Senator John Tower to have the software adopted by the U.S. government laboratory at Los Alamos. Dozens of countries used the software on their most carefully guarded computer systems, unaware that Mossad now had access to everything Promis touched. ..."
"... According to journalist Robert Fisk , Maxwell was also involved in the Mossad abduction of Israeli nuclear weapons whistleblower Vanunu Mordechai. Mordechai had attempted to provide the media with information on the extent of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, which was eventually published by the Sunday Times of London . Yet, Mordechai had also contacted the Daily Mirror with the information, the Mirror being an outlet that was owned by Maxwell and whose foreign editor was a close Maxwell associate and alleged Mossad asset, Nicholas Davies. Journalist Seymour Hersh alleged that Davies had also been involved in Israeli arms deals. ..."
"... Per Fisk, it was Maxwell who contacted the Israeli Embassy in London and told them of Mordechai’s activities. This led to Mordechai’s entrapment by a female Mossad agent who seduced him as part of a “honey trap” operation that led to his kidnapping and later imprisonment in Israel. Mordechai served an 18-year sentence, 12 years of which were in solitary confinement. ..."
"... According to authors Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon, Maxwell had sealed his own fate when he attempted to threaten top Mossad officials with the exposure of certain operations if they did not help him rescue his media empire from crippling debt and financial difficulties. Many of Maxwell’s creditors , who had grown increasingly displeased with the media mogul, were Israeli and several of them were alleged to be Mossad-connected themselves. ..."
"... Another attendee of the Maxwell yacht party was former Secretary of the Navy and former Henry Kissinger staffer Jon Lehman, who would go on to associate with the controversial neoconservative think tank, Project for a New American Century. Prior to being secretary of the Navy, Lehman had been president of the Abington Corporation, which hired arch-neocon Richard Perle to manage the portfolio of Israeli arms dealers Shlomo Zabludowicz and his son Chaim, who paid Ablington $10,000 month. A scandal arose when those payments continued after both Lehman and Perle joined the Reagan Department of Defense and while Perle was working to persuade the Pentagon to buy arms from companies linked to Zabludowicz. Perle had been part of the Reagan transition team along with Roy Cohn’s long-time friend and law partner Tom Bolan (another Maxwell yacht guest). ..."
"... Even though Jeffrey Epstein appears to have had ties to the Mossad, this series has revealed that the networks to which Epstein was connected were not Mossad-exclusive, as many of the individuals close to Epstein — Lesie Wexner, for instance — were part of a mob-connected class of oligarchs with deep ties to both the U.S. and Israel. ..."
"... Ultimately, the picture painted by the evidence is not a direct tie to a single intelligence agency but a web linking key members of the Mega Group, politicians, and officials in both the U.S. and Israel, and an organized-crime network with deep business and intelligence ties in both nations. ..."
Aug 07, 2019 | www.mintpressnews.com

52 Comments

A s billionaire pedophile and alleged sex-trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein sits in prison, reports have continued to surface about his reported links to intelligence, his financial ties to several companies and “charitable” foundations, and his friendships with the rich and powerful as well as top politicians.

While Part I and Part II of this series, “The Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail,” have focused on the widespread nature of sexual blackmail operations in recent American history and their ties to the heights of American political power and the U.S. intelligence community, one key aspect of Epstein’s own sex-trafficking and blackmail operation that warrants examination is Epstein’s ties to Israeli intelligence and his ties to the “informal” pro-Israel philanthropist faction known as “the Mega Group.”

The Mega Group’s role in the Epstein case has garnered some attention, as Epstein’s main financial patron for decades, billionaire Leslie Wexner, was a co-founder of the group that unites several well-known businessmen with a penchant for pro-Israel and ethno-philanthropy (i.e., philanthropy benefiting a single ethnic or ethno-religious group). However, as this report will show, another uniting factor among Mega Group members is deep ties to organized crime, specifically the organized crime network discussed in Part I of this series, which was largely led by notorious American mobster Meyer Lansky.

By virtue of the role of many Mega Group members as major political donors in both the U.S. and Israel, several of its most notable members have close ties to the governments of both countries as well as their intelligence communities. As this report and a subsequent report will show, the Mega Group also had close ties to two businessmen who worked for Israel’s Mossad — Robert Maxwell and Marc Rich — as well as to top Israeli politicians, including past and present prime ministers with deep ties to Israel’s intelligence community.

One of those businessmen working for the Mossad, Robert Maxwell, will be discussed at length in this report. Maxwell, who was a business partner of Mega Group co-founder Charles Bronfman, aided the successful Mossad plot to plant a trapdoor in U.S.-created software that was then sold to governments and companies throughout the world. That plot’s success was largely due to the role of a close associate of then-President Ronald Reagan and an American politician close to Maxwell, who later helped aid Reagan in the cover-up of the Iran Contra scandal.

Years later, Maxwell’s daughter — Ghislaine Maxwell — would join Jeffrey Epstein’s “inner circle” at the same time Epstein was bankrolling a similar software program now being marketed for critical electronic infrastructure in the U.S. and abroad. That company has deep and troubling connections to Israeli military intelligence, associates of the Trump administration, and the Mega Group.

Epstein appears to have ties to Israeli intelligence and has well-documented ties to influential Israeli politicians and the Mega Group. Yet, those entities are not isolated in and of themselves, as many also connect to the organized crime network and powerful alleged pedophiles discussed in previous installments of this series.

Perhaps the best illustration of how the connections between many of these players often meld together can be seen in Ronald Lauder: a Mega Group member, former member of the Reagan administration, long-time donor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s Likud Party, as well as a long-time friend of Donald Trump and Roy Cohn.

From cosmetics heir to political player

One often overlooked yet famous client and friend of Roy Cohn is the billionaire heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, Ronald Lauder. Lauder is often described in the press as a “leading Jewish philanthropist” and is the president of the World Jewish Congress, yet his many media profiles tend to leave out his highly political past.

In a statement given by Lauder to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman in 2018, the cosmetics heir noted that he has known Trump for over 50 years, going back at least to the early 1970s. According to Lauder, his relationship with Trump began when Trump was a student at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, which Lauder also attended.

Image deleted: President-elect Trump walks with Ronald Lauder after meeting at Mar-a-Lago, Dec. 28, 2016, in Palm Beach, Fla. Evan Vucci | AP

Though the exact nature of their early friendship is unclear, it is evident that they shared many of the same connections, including to the man who would later count them both as his clients, Roy Cohn. While much has been said of the ties between Cohn and Trump, Cohn was particularly close to Lauder’s mother, Estee Lauder (born Josephine Mentzer). Estee was even counted among Cohn’s most high-profile friends in his New York Times obituary .

A small window into the Lauder-Cohn relationship surfaced briefly in a 2016 article in Politico about a 1981 dinner party held at Cohn’s weekend home in Greenwich, Connecticut. The party was attended by Ronald Lauder’s parents, Estee and Joe, as well as Trump and his then-wife Ivana, who had a weekend home just two miles away. That party was held soon after Cohn had helped Reagan secure the presidency and had reached the height of his political influence. At the party, Cohn offered toasts to Reagan and to then-Senator for New York Alfonse D’Amato, who would later urge Ronald Lauder to run for political office.

Two years later, in 1983, Ronald Lauder — whose only professional experience at that point was working for his parent’s cosmetics company — was appointed to serve as United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Affairs. Soon after his appointment, he served on the Dinner Tribute Committee for a dinner hosted by the Jewish fraternal and strongly pro-Israel organization B’nai B’rith, the parent organization of the controversial Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in Roy Cohn’s honor. Cohn’s influential father, Albert Cohn, was the long-time president of B’nai B’rith’s powerful New England-New York chapter and Roy Cohn himself was a member of B’nai B’rith’s Banking and Finance Lodge.

The dinner specifically sought to honor Cohn for his pro-Israel advocacy and his efforts to “fortify” Israel’s economy, and its honorary chairmen included media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump and then-head of Bear Stearns Alan Greenberg, all of whom are connected to Jeffrey Epstein.

During his time as deputy assistant secretary of defense, Lauder was also very active in Israeli politics and had already become an ally of the then-Israeli representative to the United Nations and future prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. Lauder would go on to be one of the most important individuals in Netanyahu’s rise to power, particularly during his upset victory in 1996, and a major financier of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party.

In 1986, the year that Roy Cohn died, Lauder left his post at the Pentagon and became the U.S. ambassador to Austria, where his tenure was shaped by his confrontations with the then-Austrian president and former Nazi collaborator, Kurt Waldheim. Lauder’s interest in Austrian politics has continued well into recent years, culminating in accusations that he sought to manipulate Austrian elections in 2012.

After leaving his ambassadorship, Lauder founded the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in 1987 and later went on to run for Mayor of New York against Rudy Giuliani in 1989. Lauder was encouraged to run by then-Senator Alfonse D’Amato, who had close ties to Roy Cohn and his long-time law partner Tom Bolan, who was D’Amato’s adviser . At the aforementioned 1983 B’nai B’rith dinner honoring Cohn, D’Amato was the featured speaker.

The likely reason was that Giuliani, though once an ally of the “Roy Cohn machine,” was at the time deeply disliked by the late Cohn’s associates for prosecuting Cohn’s former law partner, Stanley Friedman, for racketeering, conspiracy and other charges. Giuliani also had a history of bitter disagreements with D’Amato. Lauder’s primary campaign, though unsuccessful, was noted for its viciousness and its cost, as it burned through more than $13 million.

A few years later, in the early 1990s, Lauder would join a newly formed group that has long evaded scrutiny from the media but has recently become of interest in connection with the Jeffrey Epstein scandal: the Mega Group.

Lauder, Epstein and the mysterious Austrian passport

Before getting to the Mega Group, it is worth noting one particular act apparently undertaken by Lauder while he was U.S. ambassador to Austria that has recently come to light in relation to the arrest in early July of Jeffrey Epstein, a finding first reported by journalist Edward Szall. When police recently discovered an Austrian passport with Epstein’s picture and a fake name after raiding his Manhattan residence, the source and purpose of the passport came under media scrutiny.

According to the Associated Press , Epstein’s defense lawyers specifically argued that “a friend gave it to him [Epstein] in the 1980s after some Jewish-Americans were informally advised to carry identification bearing a non-Jewish name when traveling internationally during a period when hijackings were more common.” This claim appears to be related to concerns that followed the hijacking of Air France Flight 139 in 1976 when Israeli and Jewish hostages were separated from other hostages based largely on the passports in their possession.

Given that Epstein was unable to meet the conventional qualifications for an Austrian passport — including long-term residency in Austria (the passport lists him as a resident of Saudi Arabia) and fluency in German — it appears that the only way to have acquired an Austrian passport was by unconventional means, meaning assistance from a well-connected Austrian official or foreign diplomat with clout in Austria.

Image deleted: Ronald Lauder, right, and Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima pose with students from the Lauder Chabad School in Vienna, Austria in 1999. Martin Gnedt | AP

Lauder, then-ambassador to Austria for the Reagan administration, would have been well-positioned to acquire such a passport, particularly for the reason cited by Epstein’s attorneys that Jewish-Americans could be targeted during travel, and in light of Lauder’s very public concerns over threats Jews face from certain terror groups. Furthermore, the passport had been issued in 1987, when Lauder was still serving as an ambassador.

In addition, Lauder was well-connected to Epstein’s former patron — former head of Bear Stearns Alan Greenberg, who had hired Epstein in the late 1970s immediately after the latter was fired from the Dalton School — and Donald Trump, another friend of Lauder and Greenberg who began his friendship with Epstein in 1987, the same year the fake Austrian passport was issued. In 1987, Epstein also began his relationship with his principal financier, Leslie Wexner, who is also closely associated with Lauder (though some sources claim that Epstein and Wexner first met in 1985 but that their strong business relationship was not established until 1987).

Though Epstein’s defense attorney declined to reveal the identity of the “friend” who provided him with the fake Austrian passport, Lauder was both well-positioned to acquire it in Austria and also deeply connected to the Mega Group, which was co-founded by Epstein’s patron Leslie Wexner and to which Epstein has many connections. These connections to both the Austrian government and to Epstein’s mentor make Lauder the most likely person to have acquired the document on Epstein’s behalf.

Furthermore, Epstein and the Mega Group’s ties to the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, also suggest Lauder was involved in procuring the passport, in light of his close ties to the Israeli government and the fact that Mossad has a history of using ambassadors abroad to procure false, foreign passports for its operatives.

Lauder himself has been alleged to have ties to Mossad, as he is a long-time funder of IDC Herzliya, an Israeli university closely associated with Mossad and their recruiters as well as Israeli military intelligence. Lauder even founded IDC Herzliya’s Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy.

Furthermore, Lauder co-founded the Eastern European broadcasting network CETV with Mark Palmer, a former U.S. diplomat, Kissinger aide and Reagan speechwriter. Palmer is better known for co-founding the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an organization often described as an accessory to U.S. intelligence, and one whose first president confessed to the Washington Post that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” A 2001 report in the Evening Standard noted that Epstein once claimed that during the 1980s he worked for the CIA, but Epstein later backed away from that assertion.

The origins of the Mega Group Mafia

The Mega Group — a secretive group of billionaires to which Lauder belongs — was formed in 1991 by Charles Bronfman and Leslie Wexner, the latter of whom has received considerable media scrutiny following the July arrest of his former protege Jeffrey Epstein. Media profiles of the group paint it as “a loosely organized club of 20 of the nation’s wealthiest and most influential Jewish businessmen” focused on “philanthropy and Jewishness,” with membership dues upwards of $30,000 per year. Yet several of its most prominent members have ties to organized crime.

Mega Group members founded and/or are closely associated with some of the most well-known pro-Israel organizations. For instance, members Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt formed Birthright Taglit with the backing of then- and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Steinhardt, an atheist, has stated that his motivation in helping to found the group was to advance his own belief that devotion to and faith in the state of Israel should serve as “a substitute for [Jewish] theology.”

Other well-known groups associated with the Mega Group include the World Jewish Congress — whose past president, Edgar Bronfman, and current president, Ronald Lauder, are both Mega Group members — and B’nai B’rith, particularly its spin-off known as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The Bronfman brothers were major donors to the ADL, with Edgar Bronfman serving as the ADL’s honorary national vice-chair for several years.

Image deleted: Former Israeli president Shimon Peres, second from left, listens to Edgar Bronfman during a 1995 lunch thrown in Peres’ honor. From left are: Laurence Tisch, Chairman, President and Chief executive officer of CBS; Israeli Ambassador to the United States. Itamar Rabinowitz and Bronfman. David Karp | AP

When Edgar Bronfman died in 2013, long-time ADL Director Abe Foxman said , “Edgar was for many years Chair of our Liquor Industry Division, Chair of our New York Appeal, and one of our most significant benefactors.” Other Mega Group members that are donors and major supporters of the ADL include Ronald Lauder , Michael Steinhardt and the late Max Fisher . As previously mentioned, Roy Cohn’s father was a long-time leader of B’nai B’rith’s influential New England-New York chapter and Cohn was later a celebrated member of its banking and finance lodge.

In addition, Mega Group members have also been key players in the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. For instance, Max Fisher of the Mega Group founded the National Jewish Coalition, now known as the Republican Jewish Coalition — the main pro-Israel neoconservative political lobbying group , known for its support of hawkish policies, and whose current chief patrons, Sheldon Adelson and Bernard Marcus, are among Donald Trump’s top donors.

Though the Mega Group has officially existed only since 1991, the use of “philanthropy” to provide cover for more unscrupulous lobbying or business activities was pioneered decades earlier by Sam Bronfman, the father of Mega Group members Edgar and Charles Bronfman. While other North American elites like J.D. Rockefeller had previously used philanthropic giving as a means of laundering their reputations, Bronfman’s approach to philanthropy was unique because it was focused on giving specifically to other members of his own ethno-religious background.

Sam Bronfman, as was detailed in Part I of this series, had long-standing deep ties to organized crime, specifically Meyer Lanksy’s organized crime syndicate. Yet, Bronfman’s private ambition, according to those close to him, was to become a respected member of high society. As a consequence, Bronfman worked hard to remove the stain that his mob associations had left on his public reputation in Canada and abroad. He accomplished this by becoming a leader in Canada’s Zionist movement and, by the end of the 1930s, he was head of the Canadian Jewish Congress and had begun to make a name for himself as a philanthropist for Jewish causes.

Yet even some of Bronfman’s activism and philanthropy had hints of the mobster-like reputation he tried so hard to shake. For instance, Bronfman was actively involved in the illegal shipping of arms to Zionist paramilitaries in Palestine prior to 1948, specifically as a co-founder of the National Conference for Israeli and Jewish Rehabilitation that smuggled weapons to the paramilitary group Haganah.

At the same time Bronfman was abetting the illegal smuggling of weapons to the Haganah, his associates in the criminal underworld were doing the same. After World War II, close aides of David Ben-Gurion, who would later become the first prime minister of Israel and was instrumental in the founding of Mossad, forged tight-knit relationships with Meyer Lansky, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Mickey Cohen and other Jewish gangsters of the period. They used their clandestine networks to establish a vast arms smuggling network between the United States and Zionist settlements in Palestine, arming both the Haganah and the Irgun paramilitary groups. As noted in Part I of this report, at the same time these gangsters were aiding the illegal arming of ZIonsit paramilitaries, they were strengthening their ties to U.S. intelligence that had first been formally (though covertly) established in World War II.

After Israel was founded, Sam Bronfman worked with future Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to negotiate the sale of Canadian armaments at half-price to Israel and the bargain weapons purchase was paid for entirely by a fundraising dinner hosted by Bronfman and his wife. Many years later, Peres would go on to introduce another future prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, to Jeffrey Epstein.

The rest of the Bronfman family’s march on “the road to respectability” was undertaken by Bronfman’s children, who married into aristocratic families such as the European Rothschilds and the Wall Street “royalty” of the Lehmans and the Loebs .

The Bronfmans’ newfound respectability did not mean that their association with the Lansky-led criminal empire had dissolved. Indeed, prominent members of the Seagrams dynasty came under fire in the 1960s and 1970s for their close association with Willie “Obie” Obront, a major figure in Canadian organized crime, whom Canadian professor Stephen Schneider has referred to as the Meyer Lansky of Canada.

However, Edgar and Charles Bronfman were hardly the only members of the Mega Group with deep and long-standing ties to the Lansky-led National Crime Syndicate. Indeed, one of the group’s prominent members, hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt, opened up about his own family ties to Lansky in his autobiography No Bull: My Life in and out the Markets , where he noted that his father, Sol “Red McGee” Steinhardt, was Lansky’s jewel fence of choice and a major player in New York’s criminal underworld. Sol Steinhardt was also his son’s first client on Wall Street and helped him jumpstart his career in finance.

The ties between the Mega Group and the National Crime Syndicate don’t stop there. Another prominent member of the Mega Group with ties to this same criminal network is Max Fisher, who has been described as Wexner’s mentor and is also alleged to have worked with Detroit’s “Purple Gang” during Prohibition and beyond. The Purple Gang were part of the network that smuggled Bronfman liquor from Canada into the United State during Prohibition, and one of its founders, Abe Bernstein, was a close associate of both Meyer Lansky and Moe Dalitz. Fisher was a key adviser to several U.S. presidents, beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as to Henry Kissinger.

Image removed: Max Fisher, center, and Henry Kissinger, right, meet with leaders of Jewish organizations prior to Kissinger’s 1975 Middle East trip. Henry Burroughs | AP

In addition to Fisher, Mega Group member Ronald Lauder was connected to Roy Cohn and Tom Bolan, both of whom were closely associated with this same Lansky-led crime network (see Part I and Part II ) and who regularly represented top Mafia figures in court. Furthermore, another member of the Mega Group, director Steven Spielberg, is a well-known protege of Lew Wasserman, the mob-connected media mogul and long-time backer of Ronald Reagan’s film and later political career, discussed in Part II of this series.

One surprise connection to Cohn involves Mega Group member, and former president of U.S. weapons firm General Dynamics, Lester Crown, whose brother-in-law is David Schine, Cohn’s confidant and alleged lover during the McCarthy hearings, whose relationship with Cohn helped bring about the downfall of McCarthyism.

Another member of the Mega Group worth noting is Laurence Tisch, who owned CBS News for several years and founded Loews Corporation. Tisch is notable for his work for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA, where Donald Barr, who hired Epstein at the Dalton School, also served and which forged ties with Lansky’s criminal empire during World War II.

Wexner’s mansions and the Shapiro murder

Leslie “Les” Wexner, the other Mega Group co-founder, also has ties to organized crime. Wexner’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein have come under scrutiny following the latter’s recent arrest, as Wexner was the only publicly acknowledged client of Epstein’s suspicious hedge fund, the source of much of this wealth, and the previous owner of Epstein’s $56 million Manhattan townhouse, which Wexner transferred to an Epstein-controlled entity for free.

Before Epstein received the townhouse, Wexner appears to have used the residence for some unconventional purposes, noted in a 1996 New York Times article on the then-Wexner-owned residence, which included “a bathroom reminiscent of James Bond movies: hidden beneath a stairway, lined with lead to provide shelter from attack and supplied with closed-circuit television screens and a telephone, both concealed in a cabinet beneath the sink.” The Times article does not speculate as to the purpose of this equipment, though the allusion to famous fictional superspy James Bond suggests that it may have been used to snoop on guests or conduct electronic surveillance.

The 1996 Times article also noted that, after Wexner bought the residence for $13.2 million in 1989, he spent millions more decorating and furnishing the home, including the addition of the electronic equipment in the “James Bond” bathroom, only to apparently never live in it. The Times , which interviewed Epstein for the piece, quoted him as saying that “Les never spent more than two months there.” Epstein told the Times , which identified Epstein as Wexner’s “protege and one of his financial advisers,” that the house, by that time, already belonged to him.

That same year, Epstein was commissioning artwork for Wexner’s Ohio mansion. A recent article from the Times noted that:

In the summer of 1996, Maria Farmer was working on an art project for Mr. Epstein in Mr. Wexner’s Ohio mansion. While she was there, Mr. Epstein sexually assaulted her, according to an affidavit Ms. Farmer filed earlier this year in federal court in Manhattan. She said that she fled the room and called the police, but that Mr. Wexner’s security staff refused to let her leave for 12 hours.”

Farmer’s account strongly suggests that, given the behavior of his personal security staff at his mansion following Epstein’s alleged assault on Farmer, Wexner was well aware of Epstein’s predatory behavior towards young women. This is compounded by claims made by Alan Dershowitz — a former lawyer for and friend of Epstein’s, who has also been accused of raping underage girls — that Wexner has also been accused of raping underage girls exploited by Epstein on at least seven occasions.

The presence of the electronic equipment in his home’s bathroom, other oddities related to the townhouse, and aspects of the links between Epstein and Wexner suggest there is more to Wexner, who has rather successfully developed a public image of a respectable businessman and philanthropist, much like other prominent members of the Mega Group.

Image removed: Leslie Wexner and his wife Abigail tour the “Transfigurations” exhibit at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Jay LaPrete | AP

However, bits and pieces of Wexner’s private secrets have occasionally bubbled up, only to be subjected to rapid cover-ups amidst concerns of “libeling” the powerful and well-connected billionaire “philanthropist.”

In 1985, Columbus (Ohio) lawyer Arthur Shapiro was murdered in broad daylight at point-blank range in what was largely referred to as a “mob style murder.” The homicide still remains unsolved, likely due to the fact that then-Columbus Police Chief James Jackson ordered the destruction of key documents of his department’s investigation into the murder.

Jackson’s ordering of the documents’ destruction came to light years later in 1996, when he was under investigation for corruption. According to the Columbus Dispatch , Jackson justified the destruction of one “ viable and valuable ” report because he felt that it “was so filled with wild speculation about prominent business leaders that it was potentially libelous.” The nature of this “wild speculation” was that “millionaire businessmen in Columbus and Youngstown were linked to the ‘mob-style murder.’”

Though Jackson’s efforts were meant to keep this “libelous” report far from public view, it was eventually obtained by Bob Fitrakis — attorney, journalist, and executive director of the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism — after he was “accidentally” sent a copy of the report in 1998 as part of a public records request.

The report, titled “ Shapiro Homicide Investigation: Analysis and Hypothesis ,” names Leslie Wexner as linked “with associates reputed to be organized crime figures” and also lists the names of businessman Jack Kessler, former Columbus City Council President and Wexner associate Jerry Hammond, and former Columbus City Council member Les Wright as also being involved in Shapiro’s murder.

The report also noted that Arthur Shapiro’s law firm — Schwartz, Shapiro, Kelm & Warren — represented Wexner’s company, The Limited, and states that “prior to his death, Arthur Shapiro managed this account [The Limited] for the law firm.” It also noted that, at the time of his death, Shapiro “was the subject of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service because he had failed to file income tax returns for some seven years prior to his death, and he had invested in some questionable tax shelters.” It also stated that his death prevented Shapiro from his planned testimony at a grand jury hearing about these “questionable tax shelters.”

As to Wexner’s alleged links to organized crime, the report focuses on the close business relationship between Wexner’s The Limited and Francis Walsh, whose trucking company “[had] done an excess of 90 percent of the Limited’s trucking business around the time of Shapiro’s murder,” according to the report. Walsh was named in a 1988 indictment as a “co-conspirator” of Genovese crime family boss Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, whose long-time lawyer was Roy Cohn; and the Shapiro murder report stated that Walsh was “still considered associates of the Genovese/LaRocca crime family, and Walsh was still providing truck transportation for The Limited.”

Notably, the Genovese crime family has long formed a key part of the National Crime Syndicate, as its former head, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, co-created the criminal organization with his close friend Meyer Lansky. Upon Luciano’s imprisonment and subsequent deportation from the United States, Lansky took over the syndicate’s U.S. operations and his association with Luciano’s successors continued until Lansky’s death in 1983.

The “Mega” Mystery and the Mossad

In May 1997, the Washington Post broke an explosive story — long since forgotten — based on an intercepted phone call made between a Mossad official in the U.S. and his superior in Tel Aviv that discussed the Mossad’s efforts to obtain a secret U.S. government document. According to the Post, the Mossad official stated during the phone call that “Israeli Ambassador Eliahu Ben Elissar had asked him whether he could obtain a copy of the letter given to [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat by [then-Secretary of State Warren] Christopher on Jan. 16, the day after the Hebron accord was signed by Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.”

The Post article continued:

According to a source who viewed a copy of the NSA transcript of the conversation, the intelligence officer, speaking in Hebrew, said, ‘The ambassador wants me to go to Mega to get a copy of this letter.’ The source said the supervisor in Tel Aviv rejected the request, saying, ‘This is not something we use Mega for.’”

The leaked communication led to an investigation that sought to identify an individual code-named “Mega” that the Post said “may be someone in the U.S. government who has provided information to the Israelis in the past,” a concern that subsequently spawned a fruitless FBI investigation. The Mossad later claimed that “Mega” was merely a codeword for the U.S.’ CIA, but the FBI and NSA were unconvinced by that claim and believed that it was a senior U.S. government official that had potentially once been involved in working with Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. naval intelligence analyst later convicted of spying for the Mossad.

Almost one year to the day after the “Mega” spy scandal broke, the Wall Street Journal was the first outlet to report on the existence of a little-known organization of billionaires that was “informally” called the Mega Group and had been founded years prior in 1991. The report made no mention of the spy scandal that had spread concerns of Israeli espionage in the U.S. only a year prior. However, the group’s distinctive “informal” name and the connections of its members to the Mossad and to high-ranking Israeli politicians, including prime ministers, raise the possibility that “Mega” was not an individual, as the FBI and NSA had believed, but a group.

In 1997, when the “Mega” spy scandal broke, Netanyahu had recently become prime minister of Israel after an upset victory, a victory that was largely credited to one well-connected Netanyahu backer in particular, Ronald Lauder. Beyond being a major donor, Lauder had brought Arthur Finklestein on to work for Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign, whose strategies were credited for Netanyahu’s surprise win. Netanyahu was close enough to Lauder that he personally enlisted Lauder and George Nader to serve as his peace envoys to Syria.

Image removed: Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara with Ronald Lauder in 1997. Photo | Reuters

Nader, who was connected to the Trump 2016 campaign and Trump ally and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, was recently hit with federal child sex trafficking charges last month, soon after Jeffrey Epstein had been arrested on similar charges. At the time Nader was picked to work with Lauder on Netanyahu’s behalf, he had already been caught possessing large amounts of child pornography on two separate occasions, first in 1984 and later in 1990.

This strong connection between Netanyahu and Lauder during the time of the 1997 “Mega” spy scandal is important considering Mossad answers directly to Israel’s prime minister.

Another possible connection between the Mega Group and the Mossad owes to the Mega Group’s ties to Meyer Lansky’s criminal network. As was detailed in Part I, Lansky had established deep ties to U.S. intelligence after World War II and was also connected to the Mossad through Mossad official Tibor Rosenbaum, whose bank was frequently used by Lansky to launder money. In addition, Lansky collaborated on at least one occasion with notorious Mossad “superspy” Rafi Eitan, who he helped acquire sensitive electronic equipment possessed only by the CIA but coveted by Israeli intelligence. Eitan is best known in the U.S. for being the Mossad handler of Jonathan Pollard.

Notably, Eitan was the main source of claims that the code-word “Mega” used by the Mossad officials in 1997 referred to the CIA and not to a potential source in the U.S. government once linked to Pollard’s spying activities, making his claims as to the true meaning of the term somewhat dubious.

Given that the organized crime network tied to the Mega Group had ties to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence, the “Mega” codeword could plausibly have referred to this secretive group of billionaires. More supporting evidence for this theory comes from the fact that prominent members of the Mega Group were business partners of Mossad agents, including media mogul Robert Maxwell and commodities trader Marc Rich.

The mysterious Maxwells

The Maxwell family has become a source of renewed media interest following Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest, as Ghislaine Maxwell, long described in the media as a British “socialite,” was publicly cited as Epstein’s long-time “on and off” girlfriend, and Epstein’s victims, as well as former wives of Epstein’s friends, have claimed that she was Epstein’s “pimp” and procured underage girls for his sexual blackmail operation. Ghislaine Maxwell is also alleged to have engaged in the rape of the girls she procured for Epstein and to have used them to produce child pornography.

Ghislaine was the favorite and youngest daughter of media mogul Robert Maxwell. Maxwell, born Jan Ludvick Hoch, had joined the British Army in World War II. Afterwards, according to authors John Loftus and Mark Aarons , he greatly influenced the Czechoslovakian government’s decision to arm Zionist paramilitaries during the 1948 war that resulted in Israel’s creation as a state, and Maxwell himself was also involved in the smuggling of aircraft parts to Israel.

Around this time, Maxwell was approached by British intelligence outfit MI6 and offered a position that Maxwell ultimately declined. MI6 then classified him as “Zionist — loyal only to Israel” and made him a person of interest. He later became an agent of the Mossad, according to several books including Seymour Hersh’s The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, and Robert Maxwell: Israel’s Superspy by Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon.

According to Victor Ostrovsky , a former Mossad case officer:

Mossad was financing many of its operations in Europe from money stolen from Maxwell’s newspaper pension fund. They got their hands on the funds almost as soon as Maxwell made the purchase of the Mirror Newspaper Group with money lent to him by Mossad.”

In exchange for his services, the Mossad helped Maxwell satisfy his sexual appetite during his visits to Israel, providing him with prostitutes, “the service maintained for blackmail purposes.” It was later revealed that the hotel in which he stayed in Israel was bugged with cameras, allowing the Mossad to acquire “a small library of video footage of Maxwell in sexually compromising positions.” As with the CIA, the Mossad’s use of blackmail against both friend and foe is well-documented and known to be extensive .

Maxwell was also a close associate and friend of Israeli “superspy” Rafi Eitan, who, as previously mentioned, was Jonathan Pollard’s handler and who had previously worked directly with Meyer Lansky. Eitan had learned of a revolutionary new software being used by the U.S. government known as “Promis” from Earl Brian, a long-time associate and aide to Ronald Reagan. Promis is often considered the forerunner to the “Prism” software used by spy agencies today and was developed by William Hamilton, who leased the software to the U.S. government through his company, Inslaw, in 1982.

Image removed: Ariel Sharon (right)meets with Robert Maxwell in Jerusalem on Feb. 20, 1990. Photo | AP

According to author and former BBC investigative journalist Gordon Thomas, Brian was angry that the U.S. Department of Justice was successfully using Promis to go after organized crime and money-laundering activities and Eitan felt that the program could aid Israel. At the time, Eitan was the director of the now defunct Israeli military intelligence agency Lekem, which gathered scientific and technical intelligence abroad from both public and covert sources, especially in relation to Israel’s nuclear weapons program.

A plan was hatched to install a “trapdoor” into the software and then market Promis throughout the world, providing the Mossad with invaluable intelligence on the operations of its enemies and allies while also providing Eitan and Brian with copious amounts of cash. According to the testimony of ex-Mossad official Ari Ben-Menashe, Brian provided a copy of Promis to Israel’s military intelligence, which contacted an Israeli American programmer living in California who then planted the “trapdoor” in the software. The CIA was later said to have installed its own trapdoor in the software but it is unknown if they did so with a version of the already bugged software and how widely it was adopted relative to the version bugged by Israeli intelligence.

After the trapdoor was inserted, the problem became selling the bugged version of the software to governments as well as private companies around the world, particularly in areas of interest. Brian first attempted to buy out Inslaw and Promis and then use that same company to sell the bugged version.

Unsuccessful, Brian turned to his close friend, then-Attorney General Ed Meese whose Justice Department then abruptly refused to make the payments to Inslaw that were stipulated by the contract, essentially using the software for free, which Inslaw claimed to be theft. Some have speculated that Meese’s role in that decision was shaped, not only by his friendship with Brian, but the fact that his wife was a major investor in Brian’s business ventures. Meese would later become an adviser to Donald Trump when he was president-elect.

Inslaw was forced to declare bankruptcy as a result of Meese’s actions and sued the Justice Department. The court later found that the Meese-led department “took, converted, stole” the software through “trickery, fraud and deceit.”

With Inslaw out of the way, Brian sold the software all over the world. Eitan later recruited Robert Maxwell to become another Promis salesman, which he did remarkably well, even succeeding in selling the software to Soviet intelligence and conspiring with Republican Texas Senator John Tower to have the software adopted by the U.S. government laboratory at Los Alamos. Dozens of countries used the software on their most carefully guarded computer systems, unaware that Mossad now had access to everything Promis touched.

Whereas the Mossad’s past reliance on gathering intelligence had relied on the same tactics used by its equivalents in the U.S. and elsewhere, the widespread adoption of the Promis software, largely through the actions of Earl Brian and Robert Maxwell, gave the Mossad a way to gather not just troves of counterintelligence data, but also blackmail on other intelligence agencies and powerful figures.

Indeed, Promis’ backdoor and adoption by intelligence agencies all over the world essentially provided the Mossad with access to troves of blackmail that the CIA and FBI had acquired on their friends and foes for over half a century. Strangely, in recent years, the FBI has sought to hide information related to Robert Maxwell’s connection to the Promis scandal.

According to journalist Robert Fisk , Maxwell was also involved in the Mossad abduction of Israeli nuclear weapons whistleblower Vanunu Mordechai. Mordechai had attempted to provide the media with information on the extent of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, which was eventually published by the Sunday Times of London . Yet, Mordechai had also contacted the Daily Mirror with the information, the Mirror being an outlet that was owned by Maxwell and whose foreign editor was a close Maxwell associate and alleged Mossad asset, Nicholas Davies. Journalist Seymour Hersh alleged that Davies had also been involved in Israeli arms deals.

Per Fisk, it was Maxwell who contacted the Israeli Embassy in London and told them of Mordechai’s activities. This led to Mordechai’s entrapment by a female Mossad agent who seduced him as part of a “honey trap” operation that led to his kidnapping and later imprisonment in Israel. Mordechai served an 18-year sentence, 12 years of which were in solitary confinement.

Then, there is the issue of Maxwell’s death, widely cited by mainstream and independent media alike as suspicious and a potential homicide . According to authors Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon, Maxwell had sealed his own fate when he attempted to threaten top Mossad officials with the exposure of certain operations if they did not help him rescue his media empire from crippling debt and financial difficulties. Many of Maxwell’s creditors , who had grown increasingly displeased with the media mogul, were Israeli and several of them were alleged to be Mossad-connected themselves.

Thomas and Dillon argue in their biography of Maxwell’s life that the Mossad felt that Maxwell had become more of a liability than an asset and killed him on his yacht three months after he demanded the bailout. On the other extreme are theories that suggest Maxwell committed suicide because of the financial difficulties his empire faced.

Image removed: Ghislaine Maxwell, far right, Robert Maxwell’s daughter, looks on his casket is unloaded from a plane in Jerusalem, Nov. 8, 1991. Heribert Proepper | AP

Some have taken Maxwell’s funeral held in Israel as the country’s “official” confirmation of Maxwell’s service to the Mossad, as it was likened to a state funeral and attended by no less than six serving and former heads of Israeli intelligence. During his funeral service in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir eulogized him and stated : “He has done more for Israel than can today be said.” Other eulogies were given by future Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert (then Health Minister) and Shimon Peres, with the latter also praising Maxwell’s “services” on behalf of Israel.

Swimming in the same swamp

As he built his business empire — and even became a member of Parliament, Maxwell was also doing work for Israeli intelligence, as several of the Israeli companies in which he invested became fronts for the Mossad. In addition, as he became a media mogul, he developed a bitter rivalry with Rupert Murdoch, a close friend of Roy Cohn and an influential figure in American and British media.

Maxwell also partnered with the Bronfman brothers, Edgar and Charles — key figures in the Mega Group. In 1989 Maxwell and Charles Bronfman partnered up to bid on the Jerusalem Post newspaper and the Post described the two men as “two of the world’s leading Jewish financiers” and their interest in the venture as “developing The Jerusalem Post and expanding its influence among world Jewry.” A year prior, Maxwell and Bronfman had become top shareholders in the Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva.

Maxwell also worked with Charles Bronfman’s brother Edgar in the late 1980s to convince the Soviet Union to allow Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel. Edgar’s efforts in this regard have received more attention , as it was a defining moment of his decades-long presidency of the World Jewish Congress, of which Ronald Lauder is currently president. Yet, Maxwell had also made considerable use of his contacts in the Soviet government in this effort.

Maxwell also moved in the circles of the network previously described in Parts I and II in this series. A key example of this is the May 1989 party Maxwell hosted on his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine — named for his youngest daughter and Epstein’s future “girlfriend.” Attendees of the party included Roy Cohn’s protege Donald Trump and his long-time law partner Tom Bolan. A close friend of Nancy Reagan was also present, journalist Mike Wallace, as was literary agent Mort Janklow, who represented Ronald Reagan and two of Cohn’s closest friends: journalists William Safire and Barbara Walters.

The CEO of what would soon become Time Warner, Steve Ross, was also invited to the exclusive event. Ross’ presence is notable, as he had built his business empire largely through his association with New York crime lords Manny Kimmel and Abner “Longy” Zwillman. Zwillman was a close friend of Meyer Lansky, Michael Steinhardt’s father, and Sam Bronfman, father of Edgar and Charles Bronfman.

Another attendee of the Maxwell yacht party was former Secretary of the Navy and former Henry Kissinger staffer Jon Lehman, who would go on to associate with the controversial neoconservative think tank, Project for a New American Century. Prior to being secretary of the Navy, Lehman had been president of the Abington Corporation, which hired arch-neocon Richard Perle to manage the portfolio of Israeli arms dealers Shlomo Zabludowicz and his son Chaim, who paid Ablington $10,000 month. A scandal arose when those payments continued after both Lehman and Perle joined the Reagan Department of Defense and while Perle was working to persuade the Pentagon to buy arms from companies linked to Zabludowicz. Perle had been part of the Reagan transition team along with Roy Cohn’s long-time friend and law partner Tom Bolan (another Maxwell yacht guest).

In addition to Lehman, another former Kissinger staffer, Thomas Pickering was present at Maxwell’s yacht part. Pickering played a minor role in the Iran-Contra affair and, at the time of the Maxwell yacht party, he was U.S. ambassador to Israel. Senator John Tower (R-TX), who allegedly conspired with Maxwell in the Mossad-bugged Promis software at the Los Alamos laboratories, was also present. Tower died just months before Maxwell in a suspicious plane crash .

Ghislaine Maxwell was also at this rather notable event. After her father’s mysterious death and alleged murder on the same yacht that bears her name in 1991, she quickly packed her bags and moved to New York City. There, she soon made the acquaintance of Jeffrey Epstein and, a few years later, developed close ties to the Clinton family, which will be discussed in the next installment of this series.

Jeffrey Epstein and the new “Promis”

After it was revealed that Epstein had evaded stricter sentencing in 2008 due to his links to “intelligence,” it was the Mossad ties of Ghislaine Maxwell’s father that have led many to speculate that Epstein’s sexual blackmail operation was sharing incriminating information with the Mossad. Former CBS executive producer and current journalist for the media outlet Narativ , Zev Shalev, has since claimed that he independently confirmed that Epstein was tied directly to the Mossad.

Image removed: Donald and Melania Trump with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida in 2000. Photo | Davidoff Studios

Epstein was a long-time friend of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who has long-standing and deep ties to Israel’s intelligence community. Their decades-long friendship has been the source of recent political attacks targeting Barak, who is running in the Israeli elections against current Prime Minister Netanyahu later this year.

Barak is also close to Epstein’s chief patron and Mega Group member Leslie Wexner, whose Wexner Foundation gave Barak $2 million in 2004 for a still unspecified research program. According to Barak, he was first introduced to Epstein by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who eulogized Robert Maxwell at his funeral and had decades-long ties with the Bronfman family going back to the early 1950s. Peres was also a frequent participant in programs funded by Leslie Wexner in Israel and worked closely with the Mossad for decades.

In 2015, a few years after Epstein’s release from prison following his conviction for soliciting sex from a minor in 2008, Barak formed a company with Epstein with the chief purpose of investing in an Israeli start-up then known as Reporty. That company, now called Carbyne, sells its signature software to 911 call centers and emergency service providers and is also available to consumers as an app that provides emergency services with access to a caller’s camera and location and also runs any caller’s identity through any linked government database. It has specifically been marketed by the company itself and the Israeli press as a solution to mass shootings in the United States and is already being used by at least two U.S. counties.

Israeli media reported that Epstein and Barak were among the company’s largest investors. Barak poured millions into the company and it was recently revealed by Haaretz that a significant amount of Barak’s total investments in Carbyne was funded by Epstein, making him a “ de facto partner” in the company. Barak is now Carbyne’s chairman .

The company’s executive team are all former members of different branches of Israeli intelligence, including the elite military intelligence unit, Unit 8200, that is often likened to Israel’s equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Carbyne’s current CEO, Amir Elichai, served in Unit 8200 and tapped former Unit 8200 commander Pinchas Buchris to serve as the company’s director and on its board. In addition to Elichai, another Carbyne co-founder, Lital Leshem , also served in Unit 8200 and later worked for Israeli private spy company Black Cube. Leshem now works for a subsidiary of Erik Prince’s company Frontier Services Group, according to the independent media outlet Narativ .

The company also includes several tie-ins to the Trump administration, including Palantir founder and Trump ally Peter Thiel — an investor in Carbyne. In addition, Carbyne’s board of advisers includes former Palantir employee Trae Stephens, who was a member of the Trump transition team, as well as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Trump donor and New York real-estate developer Eliot Tawill is also on Carbyne’s board , alongside Ehud Barak and Pinchas Buchris.

Narativ , which wrote the first expose on Carbyne after Epstein’s arrest, noted that the Chinese government uses a smartphone app very similar to Carbyne as part of its mass surveillance apparatus, even though the original purpose of the app was for improved emergency reporting. According to Narativ , the Chinese Carbyne-equivalent “monitors every aspect of a user’s life, including personal conversations, power usage, and tracks a user’s movement.”

Given the history of Robert Maxwell — the father of Epstein’s long-time “girlfriend” and young-girl-procuring madam, Ghislaine Maxwell — in promoting the sale of Carbyne’s modified Promis software, which was also marketed as a tool to improve government efficacy but was actually a tool of mass surveillance for the benefit of Israeli intelligence, the overlap between Carbyne and Promis is troubling and warrants further investigation.

It is also worth noting that Unit 8200-connected tech start-ups are being widely integrated into U.S. companies and have developed close ties to the U.S. military-industrial complex, with Carbyne being just one example of that trend.

As MintPress previously reported , Unit 8200-linked outfits like Team8 have recently hired former National Security Agency (NSA) Director Mike Rogers as a senior advisor and gained prominent Silicon Valley figures, including former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, as key investors. Many American technology companies, from Intel to Google to Microsoft, have merged with several Unit 8200-connected start-ups in recent years and have been moving many key jobs and operations to Israel with backing from key Republican donors like Paul Singer . Many of those same companies, particularly Google and Microsoft, are also major U.S. government contractors.

Who was Epstein really working for?

Even though Jeffrey Epstein appears to have had ties to the Mossad, this series has revealed that the networks to which Epstein was connected were not Mossad-exclusive, as many of the individuals close to Epstein — Lesie Wexner, for instance — were part of a mob-connected class of oligarchs with deep ties to both the U.S. and Israel. As was discussed in Part I of this series, the sharing of “intelligence” (i.e., blackmail) between intelligence agencies and the same organized crime network connected to the Mega Group goes back decades. With Leslie Wexner of the Mega Group as Epstein’s chief patron, as opposed to a financier with direct ties to the Mossad, a similar relationship is more than likely in the case of the sexual blackmail operation that Epstein ran.

Given that intelligence agencies in both the U.S. and elsewhere often conduct covert operations for the benefit of oligarchs and large corporations as opposed to “national security interest,” Epstein’s ties to the Mega Group suggest that this group holds a unique status and influence in both the governments of the U.S. and of Israel, as well as in other countries (e.g., Russia) that were not explored in this report. This is by virtue of their role as key political donors in both countries, as well as the fact that several of them own powerful companies or financial institutions in both countries. Indeed, many members of the Mega Group have deep ties to Israel’s political class, including to Netanyahu and Ehud Barak as well as to now-deceased figures like Shimon Peres, and to members of the American political class.

Ultimately, the picture painted by the evidence is not a direct tie to a single intelligence agency but a web linking key members of the Mega Group, politicians, and officials in both the U.S. and Israel, and an organized-crime network with deep business and intelligence ties in both nations.

Though this series has so far focused on the ties of this network to main Republican Party affiliates, the next and final installment will reveal the ties developed between this web and the Clintons. As will be revealed, despite the Clintons’ willingness to embrace corrupt dealings during the span of their political careers, their mostly friendly relationship with this network still saw them use the power of sexual blackmail to obtain certain policy decisions that were favorable to their personal and financial interests but not to the Clintons’ political reputation or agendas.

Editor’s note | The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Rafi Eitan was interested in repurposing the American-made Promise software to restore his standing in Israel’s intelligence community caused by the fall-out from the Pollard Affair. The Pollard Affair occurred three years after Eitan had succeeded in repurposing the software and MintPress has removed that incorrect information from the article and regrets the error.

This article also originally neglected to mention that Eitan, at the time of his collaboration with Earl Brian to repurpose the Promis software, was the director of the now-defunct Israeli military intelligence agency Lekem at the time of those events and that information has been added to the story.

Feature photo | Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

[Jul 29, 2019] Looks like Epstein turned informant for Mueller s FBI in 2008. Likely earlier

Highly recommended!
Did Mueller done this at the request of Clintons?
Notable quotes:
"... That was while Robert Mueller ran the Bureau, which means everything about Epstein's blackmail and kompromat operation has been tucked safely away out of sight in FBI files for at least a decade. Much longer, new evidence shows. ..."
"... *CIA Acknowledged in 2003, It Knew that Ghislaine Maxwell's Late Father was a Major Foreign Intelligence Agent Operating Inside the U.S. ..."
"... That Robert Maxwell was a ruthless, corrupt, tax-dodging international businessman who served as an Israeli agent is highly probable. ..."
"... For the first time, Maxwell had failed to get his own way. He started to threaten and bluster. He then demanded that, for past services, he should receive immediately a quick fix of £400million to bale him out of his financial difficulties. ..."
"... Instead of providing the money, a small group of Mossad officers set about planning his murder. They feared that he was going to publicly expose all Mossad had done in the time he worked for them. They knew that he was gradually becoming mentally unstable and paranoid. He was taking a cocktail of drugs - Halcion and Zanax - which had serious side effects. ..."
"... Then Maxwell was contacted. He was told to fly to Gibraltar, go aboard the Lady Ghislaine and sail to the Canary Islands. There at sea he would receive his £400million quick fix in the form of a banker's draft. Maxwell did as he was told. ..."
"... As Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent told us: "On that cold night Mossad's problems with Robert Maxwell were over." ..."
"... The incontrovertible facts about his murder are contained in a previously-unseen autopsy report by Britain's then-leading forensic pathologist Dr Iain West and Israel State Pathologist Dr Yehuda Hiss. Of all the documents in our possession, these reports confirm the truth about Maxwell's death. ..."
"... Boy that Mueller has had a busy career hasn't he? Didn't he start out in Chicago where he gave Whitey Bulgar cover for being a mob boss? Then there's his cover up before and after 9/11. The weapons of mass destruction that he said Saddam had. The anthrax prosecution, Epstein's pedophilia cover up, HSBC and now he is trying to cover Hillary's buttocks. And maybe Obama's? I'm sure I've missed a few things that he did or didn't do. ..."
"... Acosta was told to stand down by someone at the top of the food chain. Mueller. Ugh what a slimy piece of work he is. But not to the Russia Gaters. Oh no. "He is a highly decorated marine who takes no guff from anyone. ..."
"... In that time, he had free access to Margaret Thatcher's Downing Street, to Ronald Reagan's White House, to the Kremlin and to the corridors of power throughout Europe. ..."
"... Inquiring minds want to know did Maxwell have access to Margaret and Ron because they liked him or because he had something on them? ..."
"... Epstein is the destruction of the Deep State. ..."
"... That pedophelia and politics scandal, better known as the Franklin Coverup, made the papers for a few months, too, before it was made to go away. Similarly, a couple of the operators served some time on reduced charges after that one. ..."
"... The two main suspects in the Bush, Sr. White House child ring were Craig Spence and Lawrence E. King Jr. King sang the National anthem at two GOP national conventions. He served time in jail for bank fraud. Spence was a Republican lobbyist before he committed suicide. Several of his partners went to jail for being involved in the adult part of the homosexual prostitution ring. ..."
"... Mueller's scrupulous avoidance of the CIA link in his prosecution of Manuel Noriega and his diversion of the PanAm 103 bombing and framing of two Libyans. Bobby Mueller has been a real go to guy when the security establishment needs a phony investigation. ..."
"... Bobby Mueller has been a real go to guy when the security establishment needs a phony investigation. ..."
"... The anthrax investigation is the most serious of his crimes. Mueller is being sued by his lead investigator in that case. ..."
"... Every now and then, here and there the curtain lifts for a moment and the political elite of a country, the business elite, the spy services, the military, and organized crime are revealed to be all working together, indeed practically joined at the hip ..."
"... partnership started during the early Cold War with US intelligence officers facilitating the drug trade out of Turkey and Burma through Europe. That soon spread to the Americas and globally. Covert operations such as Gladio, Condor, and the Safari Club, and associated banks (Franklin National Bank, BCCI, Riggs Bank, HSBC, etc.) produced massive human rights violations, transnational terrorism and governmental corruption. The CIA's secret wars provided funds and official cover for private-public sector alliance of criminals, bankers and spooks around the world. ..."
"... The CIA, MI6 and Mossad ran overlapping coordinated operations using privateers, paramilitaries and organized crime networks that consumed vast amounts of cash generated by money laundering mechanisms. Enriched by the looting of the former Soviet Union, along with the infusion of Arab oil money (the Saudi Yamamah slush fund), the "Octopus" became the instrument of Oligarchs that have thoroughly corrupted western governments and secret services. ..."
"... The Snowden release included a number of documents that illustrate the on-line entrapment and political disruption activities run by the two main communications intelligence agencies. ..."
"... Epstein recruits young girls, throws parties where he invites potential hedge fund clients, lets nature take its course and films the proceedings, extracts blackmail in the form of investments to his (largely fake) hedge fund, which actually just buys an index fund (no actual fund management required). He takes a percentage from the coerced investments. Nobody talks because they have too much to lose. No suspicious payments to raise eyebrows at the IRS. ..."
"... Epstein brought in the clients. The CIA/MI-6/Mossad provided necessary cover from the FBI and local cops - then, three or four agencies shared the intelligence take, as they had for decades from Robert Maxwell's operations. ..."
"... For Ghislaine, it was simply carrying on the family business for fun and profit. For the spooks, it was business as usual going back to the Green House, the Berlin bordello founded in the the 1870s by Wilhelm Steiber, a Prussian Police section chief, to provide useful intelligence to Bismarck's Military Intelligence, which he reorganized. ..."
"... Epstein is also well acquainted with University President Lawrence H. Summers. The two serve together on the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, two elite international relations organizations. ..."
"... Epstein's relationships within the academy are remarkable since the tycoon, who has amassed his fortune by managing the wealth of billionaires from his private Caribbean island, does not hold a bachelor's degree. ..."
"... There's a rocky road ahead for Larry Summers. Summers introduces Epstein into the Harvard fold, but becomes reckless with his newly-refined Neoliberalism and his opinions concerning "lady scholars." ..."
Jul 11, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

leveymg on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 11:30am

That was while Robert Mueller ran the Bureau, which means everything about Epstein's blackmail and kompromat operation has been tucked safely away out of sight in FBI files for at least a decade. Much longer, new evidence shows.

For those who may have wondered why Epstein was given such an incredible deal in sentencing, that explains it. Epstein was an extraordinary value informant, and he leveraged it. https://truepundit.com/fbi-pedophile-jeffrey-epstein-was-informant-for-m...

A figure who often gets overlooked in this is Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's chief procurer of underage girls. Ghislaine, the daughter of publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, was granted immunity and never charged in exchange for her own cooperation in the 2008 pseudo-prosecution. https://heavy.com/news/2019/03/ghislaine-maxwell/ ; https://pagesix.com/2016/03/17/alleged-epstein-madam-forced-to-hand-over...

The real question is, why did the FBI wait for more than a decade to bust Epstein and Maxwell?

Epstein and Maxwell came to the attention of the FBI in 1996, when, curiously, the Bureau never acted on an accusation that they had together sexually abused a 15 year old girl in a bedroom inside Epstein's Manhattan townhouse. Documents in a recent law suit filed by an alleged victim, Maria Farmer, show that the FBI had been aware of Epstein and Maxwell's child abuse activities in New York for at least a dozen years before Epstein was finally charged in 2008 with much-reduced Florida state offenses. https://www.yourtango.com/2019323698/who-maria-farmer-latest-woman-accus...

Farmer claims she reported her sexual assault to New York police and the FBI in 1996. "To my knowledge, I was the first person to report Maxwell and Epstein to the FBI," she wrote in her affidavit."

*CIA Acknowledged in 2003, It Knew that Ghislaine Maxwell's Late Father was a Major Foreign Intelligence Agent Operating Inside the U.S.

Previously, Robert Maxwell, Ghislaine's father, had for many years been known to have been involved in high-level espionage in the United States, as detailed in a 2003 publication of the CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence, The Intelligence Officer's Bookshelf . Therein, the CIA reviewer of a biography by British author Gordon Thomas acknowledged about Maxwell: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-pub...

That Robert Maxwell was a ruthless, corrupt, tax-dodging international businessman who served as an Israeli agent is highly probable.

For the deeper background to the Epstein-Maxwell multinational blackmail, coverup and kompromat operation, we have to look at the events that led up to the 1991 death of Robert Maxwell. A summary of the Maxwell bio by its authors recounts:

British Publisher Robert Maxwell
Was Mossad Spy
By Gordon Thomas And Martin Dillon
The Mirror - UK
12-6-2002
[ . . .]
Eleven years after former Daily Mirror owner Robert Maxwell plunged from his luxury yacht to a watery grave, his death still arouses intense interest.

Many different theories have circulated about what really happened on board the Lady Ghislaine that night in May 1991.

[ . . . ]

The Jewish millionaire and former Labour MP [born Ludvik Hoch
in Czechoslovakia] died the way he had lived - threatening.

He had threatened his wife. Threatened his children. Threatened the staff of this newspaper.

But finally he issued one threat too many - he threatened Mossad.

He told them that unless they gave him £400million to save his crumbling empire, he would expose all he had done for them.

In that time, he had free access to Margaret Thatcher's Downing Street, to Ronald Reagan's White House, to the Kremlin and to the corridors of power throughout Europe.

On top of that he had built himself a position of power within the crime families of eastern Europe, teaching them how to funnel their vast wealth from drugs, arms smuggling and prostitution to banks in safe havens around the globe.

Maxwell passed on all the secrets he learned to Mossad in Tel Aviv. In turn, they tolerated his excesses, vanities and insatiable appetite for a luxurious lifestyle and women.

He told his controllers who they should target and how they should do it. He appointed himself as Israel's unofficial ambassador to the Soviet Bloc. Mossad saw the advantage in that.

[ . . . ]

The more successful Maxwell became the more risks he took and the more dangerous he was to Mossad. At the same time, the very public side of Maxwell, who then owned 400 companies, began to unwind.

He spent lavishly and lost money on deals. The more he lost, the more he tried to claw money from the banks. Then he saw a way out of his problems.

He was approached by Vladimir Kryuchkov, head of the KGB. Spymaster and tycoon met in the utmost secrecy in the Kremlin.

Kryuchkov had an extraordinary proposal. He wanted Maxwell to help orchestrate the overthrow of Mikhail Gorbachev, the reformist Soviet leader. That would bring to an end a fledgling democracy and a return to the Cold War days.

In return, Maxwell's massive debts would be wiped out by a grateful Kryuchkov, who planned to replace Gorbachev. The KGB chief wanted Maxwell to use the Lady Ghislaine, named after Maxwell's daughter, as a meeting place between the Russian plotters, Mossad chiefs and Israel's top politicians.

The plan was for the Israelis to go to Washington and say that democracy could not work in Russia and that it was better to allow the country to return to a modified form of communism, which America could help to control. In return, Kryuchkov would guarantee to free hundreds of thousands of Jews and dissidents in the Soviet republics.

Kryuchkov told Maxwell that he would be seen as a saviour of all those Jews. It was a proposal he could not refuse. But when he put it to his Mossad controllers they were horrified. They said Israel would have no part in such a madcap plan.

For the first time, Maxwell had failed to get his own way. He started to threaten and bluster. He then demanded that, for past services, he should receive immediately a quick fix of £400million to bale him out of his financial difficulties.

Instead of providing the money, a small group of Mossad officers set about planning his murder. They feared that he was going to publicly expose all Mossad had done in the time he worked for them. They knew that he was gradually becoming mentally unstable and paranoid. He was taking a cocktail of drugs - Halcion and Zanax - which had serious side effects.

The group of Mossad plotters sensed, like Solomon, he could bring their temple tumbling down and cause incalculable harm to Israel. The plan to kill him was prepared in the utmost secrecy. A four-man squad was briefed.

Then Maxwell was contacted. He was told to fly to Gibraltar, go aboard the Lady Ghislaine and sail to the Canary Islands. There at sea he would receive his £400million quick fix in the form of a banker's draft. Maxwell did as he was told.

On the night of November 4, 1991, the Lady Ghislaine, one of the world's biggest yachts, was at sea.

[ . . . ]

As Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent told us: "On that cold night Mossad's problems with Robert Maxwell were over."

The incontrovertible facts about his murder are contained in a previously-unseen autopsy report by Britain's then-leading forensic pathologist Dr Iain West and Israel State Pathologist Dr Yehuda Hiss. Of all the documents in our possession, these reports confirm the truth about Maxwell's death.

Gordon Thomas & Martin Dillon are authors of The Assassination of Robert Maxwell: Israel's Super Spy, published by Robson Books.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/page.cfm?objectid=12419168&method=f...

The obvious question, why did the U.S. government let these intelligence crimes continue for decades, isn't being asked. The answer is almost self-evident. Information and leverage obtained by Maxwell-Epstein and Co. was far too valuable to its several operators to let it all end too soon.

###

Linda Wood on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 12:45pm
Two parts of your reporting

leap out at me as suggesting how Epstein connects to much bigger subjects. First is the assertion that Maxwell was

... teaching them how to funnel their vast wealth from drugs, arms smuggling and prostitution to banks in safe havens around the globe.

This area of trafficking and money laundering directly connects to Mueller and his essential exoneration of HSBC .

The other quotation that suggests the importance of money laundering is here:

The plan was for the Israelis to go to Washington and say that democracy could not work in Russia and that it was better to allow the country to return to a modified form of communism, which America could help to control.

The life's work of Antony Sutton at Stanford's Hoover Institution shows that American industry was ALWAYS controlling communism as well as Soviet industrial development, and that a trend toward social democracy, represented by Gorbachev, would have put an end to that control.

leveymg on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 4:29pm
Curiously, the CIA review of the Maxwell bio doesn't touch on

@Linda Wood his money laundering and blackmailing activities. While the review confirms that Robert Maxwell was for decades a major Mossad agent actively setting up operations and cover in the United States and the UK, I can only surmise that the spreading political influence of Eastern European organized crime networks and child honey traps are things that the Agency didn't want to discuss publicly in 2003.

As for Mueller, let's not forget that he was FBI Director and before that the head of the Criminal Division at Main Justice at the time that global "black finance" grew along with the catastrophic spread of multinational crime and terrorism. BCCI, Iran-Contra, 9/11, and the rise of transnational Oligarchs happened on his watch. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the United States at the time, it is hard to imagine anyone more responsibility for the ultimate consequences than Robert Mueller. There is perhaps someone who bears ultimate responsibility, the President who appointed Mueller: George Herbert Walker Bush and his lesser son, Shrub, who promoted him.

Pluto's Republic on Fri, 07/12/2019 - 5:21pm
From your own research

@leveymg

... wouldn't you assume that this entire affair is an ongoing Mossad operation, which may or may not have concluded? The US IC is just another operative inside the envelope, but Mossad owns the assets and the intellectual property. I think we could assume that some of this is automated and Mossad has ongoing leverage still in play.

The obvious question, why did the U.S. government let these intelligence crimes continue for decades, isn't being asked. The answer is almost self-evident. Information and leverage obtained by Maxwell-Epstein and Co. was far too valuable to its several operators to let it all end too soon.

.

Mossad's legendary blackmail traps ensnared even high-level deep state authorities and made them pliable. The recent history of United States foreign policy is an enigma that can only be solved when that assumption is inserted. Once the assumption is in place, it opens like a Pandora's box. Don't you find that to be the case?

Thanks for compiling this revealing argument.

Deja on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 11:03pm
HSBC?

@Linda Wood
From your link:

In a recent investigation I presented the case that British banking and financial giant HSBC conspired with banking institutions with documented links to terrorist financing, including those responsible for helping bankroll the 9/11 attacks.

Thank you for the link!

Linda Wood on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 1:11pm
HSBC article

linked here does not mention Mueller but does outline the crimes Mueller worked so hard not to solve:

http://antifascist-calling.blogspot.com/2012/07/black-dossier-hsbc-terro...

SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2012
Black Dossier: HSBC & Terrorist Finance

Moral equivalencies abound. After all, when American secret state agencies manage drug flows or direct terrorist proxies to attack official enemies it's not quite the same as battling terror or crime.

Pounding home that point, a new report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations accused HSBC of exposing "the U.S. financial system to a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing risks due to poor anti-money laundering (AML) controls."

That 335-page report, "U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History," (large pdf file available here ) was issued after a year-long Senate investigation zeroed-in on the bank's U.S. affiliate, HSBC Bank USA, N.A., better known as HBUS.

Drilling down, we learned that amongst the "services" offered by HSBC subsidiaries and correspondent banks were sweet deals with financial entities with terrorist ties; the transportation of billions of dollars in cash by plane and armored car through their London Banknotes division; the clearing of sequentially-numbered travelers checks through dodgy Cayman Islands accounts for Mexican drug lords and Russian mafiosi.

From richly-appointed suites at Canary Wharf, London, the bank's "smartest guys in the room" handed some of the most violent gangsters on earth the financial wherewithal to organize their respective industries: global crime.

A case in point. In 2008 alone the Senate revealed that the bank's Cayman Islands branch handled some 50,000 client accounts (all without benefit of offices or staff on Grand Cayman, mind you), yet still managed to ship some $7 billion (£10.9bn) in cash from Mexico into the U.S. Now that's creative accounting!...

Alligator Ed on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 10:49pm
Thank you, Linda

@Linda Wood HSBC, huh--there must be some clever name for it, which deserves no research.
what an eloquent article you presented. Brief but right on target. It isn't just sex, drugs and rock and roll. Now it is drugs - money -sexual perversion--and perhaps worse? Rumors are flying about what video on the Weiner laptop showed. It is strictly heresay, but a core of folks seem to believe the suspicions are possible.

snoopydawg on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 8:48pm
Boy that Mueller has had a busy career hasn't he? Didn't he start out in Chicago where he gave Whitey Bulgar cover for being a mob boss? Then there's his cover up before and after 9/11. The weapons of mass destruction that he said Saddam had. The anthrax prosecution, Epstein's pedophilia cover up, HSBC and now he is trying to cover Hillary's buttocks. And maybe Obama's? I'm sure I've missed a few things that he did or didn't do.

Acosta is saying that if he hadn't made the plea deal then Epstein would never have served any time in prison. Well he actually only slept there since he got to leave every day for work and then there's the massages he got after his busy day at work. But there were more than 80 pages that the Feds wrote on his escapades so I think that story he told congress is true. Acosta was told to stand down by someone at the top of the food chain. Mueller. Ugh what a slimy piece of work he is. But not to the Russia Gaters. Oh no. "He is a highly decorated marine who takes no guff from anyone.

In that time, he had free access to Margaret Thatcher's Downing Street, to Ronald Reagan's White House, to the Kremlin and to the corridors of power throughout Europe.

Inquiring minds want to know did Maxwell have access to Margaret and Ron because they liked him or because he had something on them?

Great information! The more I learn the more I need a shower.

Linda Wood on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 9:11pm
That needing a shower thing

@snoopydawg

is how I've been feeling all week from reading about this, just more and more demoralized when I think about the depravation of our so-called "leadership." What is it that we're supposed to think of as the new normal after this behavior?

Alligator Ed on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 10:53pm
Linda, you could shower in my extra long tub

@Linda Wood No problem--but, seriously, yecch! Epstein is the destruction of the Deep State.

leveymg on Fri, 07/12/2019 - 1:02pm
Remember Craig Spence and the 1989 Whitehouse Call Boy Ring?

@snoopydawg

That pedophelia and politics scandal, better known as the Franklin Coverup, made the papers for a few months, too, before it was made to go away. Similarly, a couple of the operators served some time on reduced charges after that one.

The two main suspects in the Bush, Sr. White House child ring were Craig Spence and Lawrence E. King Jr. King sang the National anthem at two GOP national conventions. He served time in jail for bank fraud. Spence was a Republican lobbyist before he committed suicide. Several of his partners went to jail for being involved in the adult part of the homosexual prostitution ring.

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/Franklin/FranklinCoverup/l...

Roy Blakeley on Fri, 07/12/2019 - 12:29pm
And let's not forget

@snoopydawg

Mueller's scrupulous avoidance of the CIA link in his prosecution of Manuel Noriega and his diversion of the PanAm 103 bombing and framing of two Libyans. Bobby Mueller has been a real go to guy when the security establishment needs a phony investigation.

Linda Wood on Fri, 07/12/2019 - 1:09pm
Absolutely.

@Roy Blakeley

You sum it up perfectly:

Bobby Mueller has been a real go to guy when the security establishment needs a phony investigation.

The anthrax investigation is the most serious of his crimes. Mueller is being sued by his lead investigator in that case.

Because researchers in our biological weapons labs went public with what they were doing, and where such research was being done in the U.S., we learned the CIA was one of several outfits doing biological weapons research.

But Mueller exonerated all of them, including the CIA, with no explanation and only focused on a lone vaccine researcher at the Army lab when journalists began to ask why no one had been indicted after seven years of investigation, at which point the FBI attempted to harass the suspect into committing suicide.

lotlizard on Fri, 07/12/2019 - 1:44am
Comparable to "Deep State" scandals in Turkey?

Every now and then, here and there the curtain lifts for a moment and the political elite of a country, the business elite, the spy services, the military, and organized crime are revealed to be all working together, indeed practically joined at the hip.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susurluk_scandal

https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/ergenekon-plot-massive-trial-...

leveymg on Sat, 07/13/2019 - 11:08am
Read "Politics of Heroin in SE Asia". The CIA-Mafia-warlord

@lotlizard @lotlizard

partnership started during the early Cold War with US intelligence officers facilitating the drug trade out of Turkey and Burma through Europe. That soon spread to the Americas and globally. Covert operations such as Gladio, Condor, and the Safari Club, and associated banks (Franklin National Bank, BCCI, Riggs Bank, HSBC, etc.) produced massive human rights violations, transnational terrorism and governmental corruption. The CIA's secret wars provided funds and official cover for private-public sector alliance of criminals, bankers and spooks around the world.

This "dark alliance" assumed a political and economic life of its own beyond its original intent to counter communist movements. By the Vietnam War, Agency operators were running most of the heroin trade in the world through proprietary airlines, banks and logistics companies. In the mid-1970s, CIA Director Bush expanded privatization with Saudi funding in his Safari Club deal that eventually morphed into Al Qaeda and ISIS.

The CIA, MI6 and Mossad ran overlapping coordinated operations using privateers, paramilitaries and organized crime networks that consumed vast amounts of cash generated by money laundering mechanisms. Enriched by the looting of the former Soviet Union, along with the infusion of Arab oil money (the Saudi Yamamah slush fund), the "Octopus" became the instrument of Oligarchs that have thoroughly corrupted western governments and secret services.

Multinational honey trap operations such as Maxwell-Epstein & Co. are an inevitable and continuing part of this privatization and criminalization of intelligence that stretches back to the days of Tom Braden and Cord Meyer handing out stacks of greenbacks to Mafiosi on the Corsican Docks.

leveymg on Fri, 07/12/2019 - 11:31am
NSA and GCHQ have gotten into the honeytrap and influence game

@leveymg

The Snowden release included a number of documents that illustrate the on-line entrapment and political disruption activities run by the two main communications intelligence agencies.

"Honey-trap; a great option. Very successful, when it works" (GCHQ, UK training program slide)

https://cannonfire.blogspot.com/2014/05/lots-of-secret-nsa-documents-plu...

The "Information Ops" category is of particular interest to me...

Does this really seem like the sort of thing that would be done only to a jihadist...?

WoodsDweller on Fri, 07/12/2019 - 1:48pm
Here's an interesting take

https://www.alternet.org/2019/07/epstein-was-running-a-blackmail-scheme-...

Without quoting the whole thing (which is worth a read):

Epstein recruits young girls, throws parties where he invites potential hedge fund clients, lets nature take its course and films the proceedings, extracts blackmail in the form of investments to his (largely fake) hedge fund, which actually just buys an index fund (no actual fund management required). He takes a percentage from the coerced investments. Nobody talks because they have too much to lose. No suspicious payments to raise eyebrows at the IRS.

There's no need to invoke the Mafia/Russia/Mossad/CIA/etc, that's just needlessly overfitting.

Except such an operation would be quite attractive to intelligence services. Maybe they were in on the ground floor, maybe they made Epstein an offer he couldn't refuse once they heard about it.

leveymg on Sat, 07/13/2019 - 10:28am
My gut tells me that G. Maxwell provided the Know-how, and

@WoodsDweller

Epstein brought in the clients. The CIA/MI-6/Mossad provided necessary cover from the FBI and local cops - then, three or four agencies shared the intelligence take, as they had for decades from Robert Maxwell's operations.

For Ghislaine, it was simply carrying on the family business for fun and profit. For the spooks, it was business as usual going back to the Green House, the Berlin bordello founded in the the 1870s by Wilhelm Steiber, a Prussian Police section chief, to provide useful intelligence to Bismarck's Military Intelligence, which he reorganized.

Steiber is considered the father of modern espionage. His methods were vastly influential, and he attracted students from London, St. Petersburg to Tokyo. Each put their own national spin on the science of sexual blackmail. As for the Japanese, they are among the most interesting and innovative in their use of a parallel network of privatized intelligence services incorporating underworld Yakuzi groups alongside conventional military intelligence units. Using compromise, they gained and maintained control over Imperial Japan and its Colonies: https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2019/03/15/eastern-peril/

To realize these divinely inspired ambitions, Japan needed a modern espionage system. Adopting the German model, Japanese officials were sent to study under Wilhelm Stieber in the mid-1870s. Over the next decade Japan built up separate army and naval intelligence services, each with an accompanying branch of secret military police (Kempeitai for the army and Tokeitai for the navy). These latter organizations also provided an excellent counter-espionage service. However, where the Japanese were unique was in the use of spies belonging to unofficial secret societies working alongside or independently of the official intelligence agencies. These shadowy institutions were ultra-nationalist by nature, drawing their membership from a cross-section of Japanese society, including the military, politics, industry and Yakuza underworld. Under ruthless leadership, their henchmen would spy on, subvert and corrupt Japan's Far East neighbours.

For more on Steiber and his superior, von Hinckeldey, methods of international counter-insurgency, espionage, and political policing included deception and a forerunner of today's internet surveillance: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2006/11/29/275653/-

While armies are essential to the maintenance of autocracy, the preservation of dynastic rule and the prevention of democracy requires an effective secret police. The suppression of its middle-class constitutionalists [during the 1840s] was followed by the expansion of the Prussian political police under Karl Ludwig Friedrich von Hinckeldey.

Appointed police president of Berlin in late 1848, Hinckeldey was an innovator of many of the features of modern systematic political policing. Among the tactics that he introduced with his new police system in Berlin was the "Litfass columns". Named for Ernst Litfass, Frederick William's court printer, he had dozens of these large poles erected in strategic spots around Berlin. The public posting of political notices was then banned. By application to a state office for a waiver, however, the columns could be used to display messages. The police dutifully recorded the names of all who had applied. A. Richie, Faust's Metropolis: A History of Berlin, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1998 at p.134.

LEGACY OF THE LITFASS COLUMNS: A similar ploy was later adopted by the People's Republic of China. In the mid-1980s, the Communist authorities at first appear to tolerate the operation of a so-called Democracy Wall, where "dissidents" in Beijing could post political writings, initially, without being arrested. Similar walls then sprung up under the noses of the authorities in other Chinese cities. For this apparent opening to democracy, the Deng regime much applauded, particularly by some in the Reagan-Bush Administration, eager to legitimize the regime and its growing commercial ties with U.S. corporations. Eventually, many of those who had availed themselves of the wall to post political messages were, of course, arrested in the roundup of hundreds of thousands of democracy supporters that followed the Tienamen Square massacre. The impression of anonymity and "freedom" conveyed by the Internet, of course, presents a similar opportunity for police to cast a wide net for identifying persons and organizations who may not hold favor for the regime in power, or may not in the future.

Hinckeldey also founded the Police Union, the first recorded international network of counterrevolutionary police spies in modern times. Primarily made up of police officers from Prussia and the German states, the Union operated throughout Europe, Britain and in the United States. The Union was run by his deputy, the notorious police provocateur, Wilhelm Steiber, who would later reorganize the Okhrana along similar lines. Internationally active from 1851-1866, the Police Union, according to Mathieu Deflem, was "one of the first formal initiatives in industrial society to establish an organized police system across national borders."13

I disagree with the Alternet view on this. See, this is the norm. A purely private sexual blackmail ring of any scale would be the historical exception. It certainly wouldn't survive very long.

Pluto's Republic on Fri, 07/12/2019 - 5:45pm
This is a chilling thought I try to avoid.

@leveymg

...authorities at first appear to tolerate the operation of a so-called Democracy Wall, where "dissidents" in Beijing could post political writings.... Similar walls then sprung up under the noses of the authorities in other Chinese cities. Eventually, many of those who had availed themselves of the wall to post political messages were, of course, arrested in the roundup of hundreds of thousands of democracy supporters....

The impression of anonymity and "freedom" conveyed by the Internet, of course, presents a similar opportunity for police to cast a wide net for identifying persons and organizations who may not hold favor for the regime in power, or may not in the future.

But why should one avoid the thought? If the situation looks like the people are going to lose the war for their minds, and are unwilling to back a publisher like Assange who has given his all to try to empower them, why should anyone put themselves at risk by expressing their opinions? It's a honeypot of our own making, just as Facebook is where people go to write their own dossiers for the Authorities.

leveymg on Sat, 07/13/2019 - 10:36am
Every time you entrap yourself as

@Pluto's Republic an enemy of the status quo, you raise the calculated costs of the eventual crackdown, pushing back the day of reckoning. Keep it up! Visible rebellion is the only defense of the people.

Pluto's Republic on Fri, 07/12/2019 - 5:54pm
Background: If someone were to choose the ideal node

...from which to leverage access to the elite, Harvard University would be a top choice.

Jeffery Epstein actually entered the social salons of the elite through many doors. He was, of course, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. One would have to be to rub shoulders with the political elite. From there he matriculated to the Trilateral Commission becoming friendly with Harvard President, Larry Summers. **

Becoming a surprise mystery philanthropist at Harvard, with Summers help, was a booster rocket for Epstein. In the Havard Crimson , in June 2003, Epstein's involvement with Harvard was celebrated.

People in the News: Jeffrey E. Epstein

Elusive financier Jeffrey E. Epstein donated $30 million this year to Harvard for the founding of a mathematical biology and evolutionary dynamics program.

While the mathematics teacher turned magnate remained unknown to most people until he flew President Clinton, Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker to Africa to explore the problems of AIDS and economic development facing the region, Epstein has been a familiar face to many at Harvard for years.

Networking with the University's leading intellectuals, Epstein has spurred research through both discussions with and dollars contributed to various faculty members.

Lindsley Professor of Psychology Stephen M. Kosslyn, former Dean of the Faculty Henry A. Rosovsky and Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz are among Epstein's bevy of eminent friends that includes princes, presidents and Nobel Prize winners.

Epstein is also well acquainted with University President Lawrence H. Summers. The two serve together on the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, two elite international relations organizations.

Epstein's collection of high-profile friends also includes newly-recruited professor Martin A. Nowak, who will run Harvard's mathematical biology and evolutionary dynamics program.

Like Kosslyn, Rosovsky and Dershowitz, Nowak praises Epstein's numerous relationships within the scientific community.

"I am amazed by the connections he has in the scientific world," Nowak says. "He knows an amazing number of scientists. He knows everyone you can imagine."

Epstein's relationships within the academy are remarkable since the tycoon, who has amassed his fortune by managing the wealth of billionaires from his private Caribbean island, does not hold a bachelor's degree.

Yet, friends and beneficiaries say they do not see Epstein merely as a man with deep pockets, but as an intellectual equal.

Dershowitz says Epstein is "brilliant" and Kosslyn calls Epstein "one of the brightest people I've ever known."

Epstein's beneficiaries say they are particularly appreciative of the no-strings-attached approach Epstein takes with his donations.

"He is one of the most pleasant philanthropists," Nowak says. "Unlike many people who support science, he supports science without any conditions. There are not any disadvantages to associating with him."

Friends and associates say Harvard stands to benefit from its evolving relationship with Epstein.

"I hope that he will, over time, become one of the leading supporters of science at Harvard," Rosovsky writes in an e-mail.

__________________________________________
** A footnote on Larry Summers seems important here: Harvard-trained economists have been running the US economy for a very long time, and continue to do so. Summers began his ascent as a professor of economics at Harvard University, leaving shortly before Bill Clinton won the Presidency. He was clearly the Neoliberal seed planted for the New American Century.

In 1993, Summers was appointed Undersecretary for International Affairs of the United States Department of the Treasury under the Clinton Administration. In 1995, he was promoted to Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under his long-time political mentor Robert Rubin. In 1999, he succeeded Rubin as Secretary of the Treasury.

While working for the Clinton administration Summers played a leading role in the American response to the 1994 economic crisis in Mexico, the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and the Russian financial crisis. He was also influential in the Harvard Institute for International Development and American-advised privatization of the economies of the post-Soviet states, and in the deregulation of the U.S financial system, including the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.

At This Point the Ball is Passed to the Bush Team Republicans, while the Democrats Sit Back and Wait for 2008.

There's now a Treasury surplus to transfer to the wealthy, and the necessary deregulation for Wall Street empowerment is in place. The Soviet era had ended and Russia is ended forever. The world is finally primed to be seized by the One Exceptional Power. It's 2001, and we are standing on the threshold of the New American Century . Time to throw a flash-bang of chaos onto the world stage and trigger the booming War Economy that will carry us directly to global control.

There's a rocky road ahead for Larry Summers. Summers introduces Epstein into the Harvard fold, but becomes reckless with his newly-refined Neoliberalism and his opinions concerning "lady scholars."

Following the end of Clinton's term, Summers served as the 27th President of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006. Summers resigned as Harvard's president in the wake of a no-confidence vote by Harvard faculty, which resulted in large part from Summers's conflict with Cornel West, financial conflict of interest questions regarding his relationship with Andrei Shleifer, and a 2005 speech in which he suggested that the under-representation of women in science and engineering could be due to a "different availability of aptitude at the high end", and less to patterns of discrimination and socialization. Remarking upon political correctness in institutions of higher education, Summers said in 2016:

Summers resigned as Harvard's president in the wake of a no-confidence vote by Harvard faculty, which resulted in large part from Summers's conflict with Cornel West, financial conflict of interest questions regarding his relationship with Andrei Shleifer, and a 2005 speech in which he suggested that the under-representation of women in science and engineering

There is a great deal of absurd political correctness. Now, I'm somebody who believes very strongly in diversity, who resists racism in all of its many incarnations, who thinks that there is a great deal that's unjust in American society that needs to be combated, but it seems to be that there is a kind of creeping totalitarianism in terms of what kind of ideas are acceptable and are debatable on college campuses.

After his departure from Harvard, Summers cooled his jets on Wall Street, positioning himself to be called back into the game when it was Team Democrat's turn in 2008.

Summers worked as a managing partner at the hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co., and as a freelance speaker at other financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. Summers rejoined public service during the Obama administration, serving as the Director of the White House United States National Economic Council for President Barack Obama from January 2009 until November 2010, where he emerged as a key economic decision-maker in the Obama administration's response to the Great Recession.

Jeffery Epstein continued to weave himself into the fabric of government like a good psychopath would. He was by no means the only one.

[Jul 29, 2019] Michael Hudson Trump s Brilliant Strategy to Dismember US Dollar Hegemony by Michael Hudson

Highly recommended!
Looks like the world order established after WWIII crumbed with the USSR and now it is again the law if jungles with the US as the biggest predator.
Notable quotes:
"... The root cause is clear: After the crescendo of pretenses and deceptions over Iraq, Libya and Syria, along with our absolution of the lawless regime of Saudi Arabia, foreign political leaders are coming to recognize what world-wide public opinion polls reported even before the Iraq/Iran-Contra boys turned their attention to the world's largest oil reserves in Venezuela: The United States is now the greatest threat to peace on the planet. ..."
"... Calling the U.S. coup being sponsored in Venezuela a defense of democracy reveals the Doublethink underlying U.S. foreign policy. It defines "democracy" to mean supporting U.S. foreign policy, pursuing neoliberal privatization of public infrastructure, dismantling government regulation and following the direction of U.S.-dominated global institutions, from the IMF and World Bank to NATO. For decades, the resulting foreign wars, domestic austerity programs and military interventions have brought more violence, not democracy ..."
"... A point had to come where this policy collided with the self-interest of other nations, finally breaking through the public relations rhetoric of empire. Other countries are proceeding to de-dollarize and replace what U.S. diplomacy calls "internationalism" (meaning U.S. nationalism imposed on the rest of the world) with their own national self-interest. ..."
"... For the past half-century, U.S. strategists, the State Department and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) worried that opposition to U.S. financial imperialism would come from left-wing parties. It therefore spent enormous resources manipulating parties that called themselves socialist (Tony Blair's British Labour Party, France's Socialist Party, Germany's Social Democrats, etc.) to adopt neoliberal policies that were the diametric opposite to what social democracy meant a century ago. But U.S. political planners and Great Wurlitzer organists neglected the right wing, imagining that it would instinctively support U.S. thuggishness. ..."
"... Perhaps the problem had to erupt as a result of the inner dynamics of U.S.-sponsored globalism becoming impossible to impose when the result is financial austerity, waves of population flight from U.S.-sponsored wars, and most of all, U.S. refusal to adhere to the rules and international laws that it itself sponsored seventy years ago in the wake of World War II. ..."
"... Here's the first legal contradiction in U.S. global diplomacy: The United States always has resisted letting any other country have any voice in U.S. domestic policies, law-making or diplomacy. That is what makes America "the exceptional nation." But for seventy years its diplomats have pretended that its superior judgment promoted a peaceful world (as the Roman Empire claimed to be), which let other countries share in prosperity and rising living standards. ..."
"... Inevitably, U.S. nationalism had to break up the mirage of One World internationalism, and with it any thought of an international court. Without veto power over the judges, the U.S. never accepted the authority of any court, in particular the United Nations' International Court in The Hague. Recently that court undertook an investigation into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, from its torture policies to bombing of civilian targets such as hospitals, weddings and infrastructure. "That investigation ultimately found 'a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity." ..."
"... This showed that international finance was an arm of the U.S. State Department and Pentagon. But that was a generation ago, and only recently did foreign countries begin to feel queasy about leaving their gold holdings in the United States, where they might be grabbed at will to punish any country that might act in ways that U.S. diplomacy found offensive. So last year, Germany finally got up the courage to ask that some of its gold be flown back to Germany. U.S. officials pretended to feel shocked at the insult that it might do to a civilized Christian country what it had done to Iran, and Germany agreed to slow down the transfer. ..."
"... England refused to honor the official request, following the direction of Bolton and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. As Bloomberg reported: "The U.S. officials are trying to steer Venezuela's overseas assets to [Chicago Boy Juan] Guaido to help bolster his chances of effectively taking control of the government. The $1.2 billion of gold is a big chunk of the $8 billion in foreign reserves held by the Venezuelan central bank." ..."
"... But now, cyber warfare has become a way of pulling out the connections of any economy. And the major cyber connections are financial money-transfer ones, headed by SWIFT, the acronym for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which is centered in Belgium. ..."
"... On January 31 the dam broke with the announcement that Europe had created its own bypass payments system for use with Iran and other countries targeted by U.S. diplomats. Germany, France and even the U.S. poodle Britain joined to create INSTEX -- Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges. The promise is that this will be used only for "humanitarian" aid to save Iran from a U.S.-sponsored Venezuela-type devastation. But in view of increasingly passionate U.S. opposition to the Nord Stream pipeline to carry Russian gas, this alternative bank clearing system will be ready and able to become operative if the United States tries to direct a sanctions attack on Europe ..."
"... The U.S. overplaying its position is leading to the Mackinder-Kissinger-Brzezinski Eurasian nightmare that I mentioned above. In addition to driving Russia and China together, U.S. diplomacy is adding Europe to the heartland, independent of U.S. ability to bully into the state of dependency toward which American diplomacy has aimed to achieve since 1945. ..."
"... By following U.S. advice, countries have left themselves open to food blackmail – sanctions against providing them with grain and other food, in case they step out of line with U.S. diplomatic demands. ..."
"... It is worthwhile to note that our global imposition of the mythical "efficiencies" of forcing Latin American countries to become plantations for export crops like coffee and bananas rather than growing their own wheat and corn has failed catastrophically to deliver better lives, especially for those living in Central America. The "spread" between the export crops and cheaper food imports from the U.S. that was supposed to materialize for countries following our playbook failed miserably – witness the caravans and refugees across Mexico. Of course, our backing of the most brutal military dictators and crime lords has not helped either. ..."
"... But a few years ago Ukraine defaulted on $3 billion owed to Russia. The IMF said, in effect, that Ukraine and other countries did not have to pay Russia or any other country deemed to be acting too independently of the United States. The IMF has been extending credit to the bottomless it of Ukrainian corruption to encourage its anti-Russian policy rather than standing up for the principle that inter-government debts must be paid. ..."
"... It is as if the IMF now operates out of a small room in the basement of the Pentagon in Washington. ..."
"... Anticipating just such a double-cross, President Chavez acted already in 2011 to repatriate 160 tons of gold to Caracas from the United States and Europe. ..."
"... It would be good for Americans, but the wrong kind of Americans. For the Americans that would populate the Global Executive Suite, a strong US$ means that the stipends they would pay would be worth more to the lackeys, and command more influence. ..."
"... Dumping the industrial base really ruined things. America is now in a position where it can shout orders, and drop bombs, but doesn't have the capacity to do anything helpful. They have to give up being what Toynbee called a creative minority, and settle for being a dominant minority. ..."
"... Having watched the 2016 election closely from afar, I was left with the impression that many of the swing voters who cast their vote for Trump did so under the assumption that he would act as a catalyst for systemic change. ..."
"... Now we know. He has ripped the already transparent mask of altruism off what is referred to as the U.S.-led liberal international order and revealed its true nature for all to see, and has managed to do it in spite of the liberal international establishment desperately trying to hold it in place in the hope of effecting a seamless post-Trump return to what they refer to as "norms". Interesting times. ..."
"... Exactly. He hasn't exactly lived up to advanced billing so far in all respects, but I suspect there's great deal of skulduggery going on behind the scenes that has prevented that. ..."
"... To paraphrase the infamous Rummy, you don't go to war with the change agent and policies you wished you had, you go to war with the ones you have. That might be the best thing we can say about Trump after the historic dust of his administration finally settles. ..."
"... Yet we find out that Venezuela didn't managed to do what they wanted to do, the Europeans, the Turks, etc bent over yet again. Nothing to see here, actually. ..."
"... So what I'm saying is he didn't make his point. I wish it were true. But a bit of grumbling and (a tiny amount of) foot-dragging by some pygmy leaders (Merkel) does not signal a global change. ..."
"... Currency regime change can take decades, and small percentage differences are enormous because of the flows involved. USD as reserve for 61% of global sovereigns versus 64% 15 years ago is a massive move. ..."
"... I discovered his Super Imperialism while looking for an explanation for the pending 2003 US invasion of Iraq. If you haven't read it yet, move it to the top of your queue if you want to have any idea of how the world really works. ..."
"... If it isn't clear to the rest of the world by now, it never will be. The US is incapable of changing on its own a corrupt status quo dominated by a coalition of its military industrial complex, Wall Street bankers and fossil fuels industries. As long as the world continues to chase the debt created on the keyboards of Wall Street banks and 'deficits don't matter' Washington neocons – as long as the world's 1% think they are getting 'richer' by adding more "debts that can't be repaid (and) won't be" to their portfolios, the global economy can never be put on a sustainable footing. ..."
"... In other words, after 2 World Wars that produced the current world order, it is still in a state of insanity with the same pretensions to superiority by the same people, to get number 3. ..."
"... Few among Washington's foreign policy elite seem to fully grasp the complex system that made U.S. global power what it now is, particularly its all-important geopolitical foundations. As Trump travels the globe, tweeting and trashing away, he's inadvertently showing us the essential structure of that power, the same way a devastating wildfire leaves the steel beams of a ruined building standing starkly above the smoking rubble." ..."
"... He's draining the swamp in an unpredicted way, a swamp that's founded on the money interest. I don't care what NYT and WaPo have to say, they are not reporting events but promoting agendas. ..."
"... The financial elites are only concerned about shaping society as they see fit, side of self serving is just a historical foot note, Trumps past indicates a strong preference for even more of the same through authoritarian memes or have some missed the OT WH reference to dawg both choosing and then compelling him to run. ..."
"... Highly doubt Trump is a "witting agent", most likely is that he is just as ignorant as he almost daily shows on twitter. On US role in global affairs he says the same today as he did as a media celebrity in the late 80s. Simplistic household "logics" on macroeconomics. If US have trade deficit it loses. Countries with surplus are the winners. ..."
"... Anyhow frightening, the US hegemony have its severe dark sides. But there is absolutely nothing better on the horizon, a crash will throw the world in turmoil for decades or even a century. A lot of bad forces will see their chance to elevate their influence. There will be fierce competition to fill the gap. ..."
"... On could the insane economic model of EU/Germany being on top of global affairs, a horribly frightening thought. Misery and austerity for all globally, a permanent recession. Probably not much better with the Chinese on top. I'll take the USD hegemony any day compared to that prospect. ..."
"... Former US ambassador, Chas Freeman, gets to the nub of the problem. "The US preference for governance by elected and appointed officials, uncontaminated by experience in statecraft and diplomacy, or knowledge of geography, history and foreign affairs" https://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_882041135&feature=iv&src_vid=Ge1ozuXN7iI&v=gkf2MQdqz-o ..."
"... Michael Hudson, in Super Imperialism, went into how the US could just create the money to run a large trade deficit with the rest of the world. It would get all these imports effectively for nothing, the US's exorbitant privilege. I tied this in with this graph from MMT. ..."
"... The Government was running a surplus as the economy blew up in the early 1990s. It's the positive and negative, zero sum, nature of the monetary system. A big trade deficit needs a big Government deficit to cover it. A big trade deficit, with a balanced budget, drives the private sector into debt and blows up the economy. ..."
Feb 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The end of America's unchallenged global economic dominance has arrived sooner than expected, thanks to the very same Neocons who gave the world the Iraq, Syria and the dirty wars in Latin America. Just as the Vietnam War drove the United States off gold by 1971, its sponsorship and funding of violent regime change wars against Venezuela and Syria – and threatening other countries with sanctions if they do not join this crusade – is now driving European and other nations to create their alternative financial institutions.

This break has been building for quite some time, and was bound to occur. But who would have thought that Donald Trump would become the catalytic agent? No left-wing party, no socialist, anarchist or foreign nationalist leader anywhere in the world could have achieved what he is doing to break up the American Empire. The Deep State is reacting with shock at how this right-wing real estate grifter has been able to drive other countries to defend themselves by dismantling the U.S.-centered world order. To rub it in, he is using Bush and Reagan-era Neocon arsonists, John Bolton and now Elliott Abrams, to fan the flames in Venezuela. It is almost like a black political comedy. The world of international diplomacy is being turned inside-out. A world where there is no longer even a pretense that we might adhere to international norms, let alone laws or treaties.

The Neocons who Trump has appointed are accomplishing what seemed unthinkable not long ago: Driving China and Russia together – the great nightmare of Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. They also are driving Germany and other European countries into the Eurasian orbit, the "Heartland" nightmare of Halford Mackinder a century ago.

The root cause is clear: After the crescendo of pretenses and deceptions over Iraq, Libya and Syria, along with our absolution of the lawless regime of Saudi Arabia, foreign political leaders are coming to recognize what world-wide public opinion polls reported even before the Iraq/Iran-Contra boys turned their attention to the world's largest oil reserves in Venezuela: The United States is now the greatest threat to peace on the planet.

Calling the U.S. coup being sponsored in Venezuela a defense of democracy reveals the Doublethink underlying U.S. foreign policy. It defines "democracy" to mean supporting U.S. foreign policy, pursuing neoliberal privatization of public infrastructure, dismantling government regulation and following the direction of U.S.-dominated global institutions, from the IMF and World Bank to NATO. For decades, the resulting foreign wars, domestic austerity programs and military interventions have brought more violence, not democracy.

In the Devil's Dictionary that U.S. diplomats are taught to use as their "Elements of Style" guidelines for Doublethink, a "democratic" country is one that follows U.S. leadership and opens its economy to U.S. investment, and IMF- and World Bank-sponsored privatization. The Ukraine is deemed democratic, along with Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries that act as U.S. financial and military protectorates and are willing to treat America's enemies are theirs too.

A point had to come where this policy collided with the self-interest of other nations, finally breaking through the public relations rhetoric of empire. Other countries are proceeding to de-dollarize and replace what U.S. diplomacy calls "internationalism" (meaning U.S. nationalism imposed on the rest of the world) with their own national self-interest.

This trajectory could be seen 50 years ago (I described it in Super Imperialism [1972] and Global Fracture [1978].) It had to happen. But nobody thought that the end would come in quite the way that is happening. History has turned into comedy, or at least irony as its dialectical path unfolds.

For the past half-century, U.S. strategists, the State Department and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) worried that opposition to U.S. financial imperialism would come from left-wing parties. It therefore spent enormous resources manipulating parties that called themselves socialist (Tony Blair's British Labour Party, France's Socialist Party, Germany's Social Democrats, etc.) to adopt neoliberal policies that were the diametric opposite to what social democracy meant a century ago. But U.S. political planners and Great Wurlitzer organists neglected the right wing, imagining that it would instinctively support U.S. thuggishness.

The reality is that right-wing parties want to get elected, and a populist nationalism is today's road to election victory in Europe and other countries just as it was for Donald Trump in 2016.

Trump's agenda may really be to break up the American Empire, using the old Uncle Sucker isolationist rhetoric of half a century ago. He certainly is going for the Empire's most vital organs. But it he a witting anti-American agent? He might as well be – but it would be a false mental leap to use "quo bono" to assume that he is a witting agent.

After all, if no U.S. contractor, supplier, labor union or bank will deal with him, would Vladimir Putin, China or Iran be any more naïve? Perhaps the problem had to erupt as a result of the inner dynamics of U.S.-sponsored globalism becoming impossible to impose when the result is financial austerity, waves of population flight from U.S.-sponsored wars, and most of all, U.S. refusal to adhere to the rules and international laws that it itself sponsored seventy years ago in the wake of World War II.

Dismantling International Law and Its Courts

Any international system of control requires the rule of law. It may be a morally lawless exercise of ruthless power imposing predatory exploitation, but it is still The Law. And it needs courts to apply it (backed by police power to enforce it and punish violators).

Here's the first legal contradiction in U.S. global diplomacy: The United States always has resisted letting any other country have any voice in U.S. domestic policies, law-making or diplomacy. That is what makes America "the exceptional nation." But for seventy years its diplomats have pretended that its superior judgment promoted a peaceful world (as the Roman Empire claimed to be), which let other countries share in prosperity and rising living standards.

At the United Nations, U.S. diplomats insisted on veto power. At the World Bank and IMF they also made sure that their equity share was large enough to give them veto power over any loan or other policy. Without such power, the United States would not join any international organization. Yet at the same time, it depicted its nationalism as protecting globalization and internationalism. It was all a euphemism for what really was unilateral U.S. decision-making.

Inevitably, U.S. nationalism had to break up the mirage of One World internationalism, and with it any thought of an international court. Without veto power over the judges, the U.S. never accepted the authority of any court, in particular the United Nations' International Court in The Hague. Recently that court undertook an investigation into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, from its torture policies to bombing of civilian targets such as hospitals, weddings and infrastructure. "That investigation ultimately found 'a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity." [1]

Donald Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton erupted in fury, warning in September that: "The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court," adding that the UN International Court must not be so bold as to investigate "Israel or other U.S. allies."

That prompted a senior judge, Christoph Flügge from Germany, to resign in protest. Indeed, Bolton told the court to keep out of any affairs involving the United States, promising to ban the Court's "judges and prosecutors from entering the United States." As Bolton spelled out the U.S. threat: "We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us."

What this meant, the German judge spelled out was that: "If these judges ever interfere in the domestic concerns of the U.S. or investigate an American citizen, [Bolton] said the American government would do all it could to ensure that these judges would no longer be allowed to travel to the United States – and that they would perhaps even be criminally prosecuted."

The original inspiration of the Court – to use the Nuremburg laws that were applied against German Nazis to bring similar prosecution against any country or officials found guilty of committing war crimes – had already fallen into disuse with the failure to indict the authors of the Chilean coup, Iran-Contra or the U.S. invasion of Iraq for war crimes.

Dismantling Dollar Hegemony from the IMF to SWIFT

Of all areas of global power politics today, international finance and foreign investment have become the key flashpoint. International monetary reserves were supposed to be the most sacrosanct, and international debt enforcement closely associated.

Central banks have long held their gold and other monetary reserves in the United States and London. Back in 1945 this seemed reasonable, because the New York Federal Reserve Bank (in whose basement foreign central bank gold was kept) was militarily safe, and because the London Gold Pool was the vehicle by which the U.S. Treasury kept the dollar "as good as gold" at $35 an ounce. Foreign reserves over and above gold were kept in the form of U.S. Treasury securities, to be bought and sold on the New York and London foreign-exchange markets to stabilize exchange rates. Most foreign loans to governments were denominated in U.S. dollars, so Wall Street banks were normally name as paying agents.

That was the case with Iran under the Shah, whom the United States had installed after sponsoring the 1953 coup against Mohammed Mosaddegh when he sought to nationalize Anglo-Iranian Oil (now British Petroleum) or at least tax it. After the Shah was overthrown, the Khomeini regime asked its paying agent, the Chase Manhattan bank, to use its deposits to pay its bondholders. At the direction of the U.S. Government Chase refused to do so. U.S. courts then declared Iran to be in default, and froze all its assets in the United States and anywhere else they were able.

This showed that international finance was an arm of the U.S. State Department and Pentagon. But that was a generation ago, and only recently did foreign countries begin to feel queasy about leaving their gold holdings in the United States, where they might be grabbed at will to punish any country that might act in ways that U.S. diplomacy found offensive. So last year, Germany finally got up the courage to ask that some of its gold be flown back to Germany. U.S. officials pretended to feel shocked at the insult that it might do to a civilized Christian country what it had done to Iran, and Germany agreed to slow down the transfer.

But then came Venezuela. Desperate to spend its gold reserves to provide imports for its economy devastated by U.S. sanctions – a crisis that U.S. diplomats blame on "socialism," not on U.S. political attempts to "make the economy scream" (as Nixon officials said of Chile under Salvador Allende) – Venezuela directed the Bank of England to transfer some of its $11 billion in gold held in its vaults and those of other central banks in December 2018. This was just like a bank depositor would expect a bank to pay a check that the depositor had written.

England refused to honor the official request, following the direction of Bolton and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. As Bloomberg reported: "The U.S. officials are trying to steer Venezuela's overseas assets to [Chicago Boy Juan] Guaido to help bolster his chances of effectively taking control of the government. The $1.2 billion of gold is a big chunk of the $8 billion in foreign reserves held by the Venezuelan central bank."

Turkey seemed to be a likely destination, prompting Bolton and Pompeo to warn it to desist from helping Venezuela, threatening sanctions against it or any other country helping Venezuela cope with its economic crisis. As for the Bank of England and other European countries, the Bloomberg report concluded: "Central bank officials in Caracas have been ordered to no longer try contacting the Bank of England. These central bankers have been told that Bank of England staffers will not respond to them."

This led to rumors that Venezuela was selling 20 tons of gold via a Russian Boeing 777 – some $840 million. The money probably would have ended up paying Russian and Chinese bondholders as well as buying food to relieve the local famine. [4] Russia denied this report, but Reuters has confirmed is that Venezuela has sold 3 tons of a planned 29 tones of gold to the United Arab Emirates, with another 15 tones are to be shipped on Friday, February 1. [5] The U.S. Senate's Batista-Cuban hardliner Rubio accused this of being "theft," as if feeding the people to alleviate the U.S.-sponsored crisis was a crime against U.S. diplomatic leverage.

If there is any country that U.S. diplomats hate more than a recalcitrant Latin American country, it is Iran. President Trump's breaking of the 2015 nuclear agreements negotiated by European and Obama Administration diplomats has escalated to the point of threatening Germany and other European countries with punitive sanctions if they do not also break the agreements they have signed. Coming on top of U.S. opposition to German and other European importing of Russian gas, the U.S. threat finally prompted Europe to find a way to defend itself.

Imperial threats are no longer military. No country (including Russia or China) can mount a military invasion of another major country. Since the Vietnam Era, the only kind of war a democratically elected country can wage is atomic, or at least heavy bombing such as the United States has inflicted on Iraq, Libya and Syria. But now, cyber warfare has become a way of pulling out the connections of any economy. And the major cyber connections are financial money-transfer ones, headed by SWIFT, the acronym for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which is centered in Belgium.

Russia and China have already moved to create a shadow bank-transfer system in case the United States unplugs them from SWIFT. But now, European countries have come to realize that threats by Bolton and Pompeo may lead to heavy fines and asset grabs if they seek to continue trading with Iran as called for in the treaties they have negotiated.

On January 31 the dam broke with the announcement that Europe had created its own bypass payments system for use with Iran and other countries targeted by U.S. diplomats. Germany, France and even the U.S. poodle Britain joined to create INSTEX -- Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges. The promise is that this will be used only for "humanitarian" aid to save Iran from a U.S.-sponsored Venezuela-type devastation. But in view of increasingly passionate U.S. opposition to the Nord Stream pipeline to carry Russian gas, this alternative bank clearing system will be ready and able to become operative if the United States tries to direct a sanctions attack on Europe.

I have just returned from Germany and seen a remarkable split between that nation's industrialists and their political leadership. For years, major companies have seen Russia as a natural market, a complementary economy needing to modernize its manufacturing and able to supply Europe with natural gas and other raw materials. America's New Cold War stance is trying to block this commercial complementarity. Warning Europe against "dependence" on low-price Russian gas, it has offered to sell high-priced LNG from the United States (via port facilities that do not yet exist in anywhere near the volume required). President Trump also is insisting that NATO members spend a full 2 percent of their GDP on arms – preferably bought from the United States, not from German or French merchants of death.

The U.S. overplaying its position is leading to the Mackinder-Kissinger-Brzezinski Eurasian nightmare that I mentioned above. In addition to driving Russia and China together, U.S. diplomacy is adding Europe to the heartland, independent of U.S. ability to bully into the state of dependency toward which American diplomacy has aimed to achieve since 1945.

The World Bank, for instance, traditionally has been headed by a U.S. Secretary of Defense. Its steady policy since its inception is to provide loans for countries to devote their land to export crops instead of giving priority to feeding themselves. That is why its loans are only in foreign currency, not in the domestic currency needed to provide price supports and agricultural extension services such as have made U.S. agriculture so productive. By following U.S. advice, countries have left themselves open to food blackmail – sanctions against providing them with grain and other food, in case they step out of line with U.S. diplomatic demands.

It is worthwhile to note that our global imposition of the mythical "efficiencies" of forcing Latin American countries to become plantations for export crops like coffee and bananas rather than growing their own wheat and corn has failed catastrophically to deliver better lives, especially for those living in Central America. The "spread" between the export crops and cheaper food imports from the U.S. that was supposed to materialize for countries following our playbook failed miserably – witness the caravans and refugees across Mexico. Of course, our backing of the most brutal military dictators and crime lords has not helped either.

Likewise, the IMF has been forced to admit that its basic guidelines were fictitious from the beginning. A central core has been to enforce payment of official inter-government debt by withholding IMF credit from countries under default. This rule was instituted at a time when most official inter-government debt was owed to the United States. But a few years ago Ukraine defaulted on $3 billion owed to Russia. The IMF said, in effect, that Ukraine and other countries did not have to pay Russia or any other country deemed to be acting too independently of the United States. The IMF has been extending credit to the bottomless it of Ukrainian corruption to encourage its anti-Russian policy rather than standing up for the principle that inter-government debts must be paid.

It is as if the IMF now operates out of a small room in the basement of the Pentagon in Washington. Europe has taken notice that its own international monetary trade and financial linkages are in danger of attracting U.S. anger. This became clear last autumn at the funeral for George H. W. Bush, when the EU's diplomat found himself downgraded to the end of the list to be called to his seat. He was told that the U.S. no longer considers the EU an entity in good standing. In December, "Mike Pompeo gave a speech on Europe in Brussels -- his first, and eagerly awaited -- in which he extolled the virtues of nationalism, criticised multilateralism and the EU, and said that "international bodies" which constrain national sovereignty "must be reformed or eliminated." [5]

Most of the above events have made the news in just one day, January 31, 2019. The conjunction of U.S. moves on so many fronts, against Venezuela, Iran and Europe (not to mention China and the trade threats and moves against Huawei also erupting today) looks like this will be a year of global fracture.

It is not all President Trump's doing, of course. We see the Democratic Party showing the same colors. Instead of applauding democracy when foreign countries do not elect a leader approved by U.S. diplomats (whether it is Allende or Maduro), they've let the mask fall and shown themselves to be the leading New Cold War imperialists. It's now out in the open. They would make Venezuela the new Pinochet-era Chile. Trump is not alone in supporting Saudi Arabia and its Wahabi terrorists acting, as Lyndon Johnson put it, "Bastards, but they're our bastards."

Where is the left in all this? That is the question with which I opened this article. How remarkable it is that it is only right-wing parties, Alternative for Deutschland (AFD), or Marine le Pen's French nationalists and those of other countries that are opposing NATO militarization and seeking to revive trade and economic links with the rest of Eurasia.

The end of our monetary imperialism, about which I first wrote in 1972 in Super Imperialism, stuns even an informed observer like me. It took a colossal level of arrogance, short-sightedness and lawlessness to hasten its decline -- something that only crazed Neocons like John Bolton, Elliot Abrams and Mike Pompeo could deliver for Donald Trump.

Footnotes

[1] "It Can't be Fixed: Senior ICC Judge Quits in Protest of US, Turkish Meddling," January 31, 2019.

[2] Patricia Laya, Ethan Bronner and Tim Ross, "Maduro Stymied in Bid to Pull $1.2 Billion of Gold From U.K.," Bloomberg, January 25, 2019. Anticipating just such a double-cross, President Chavez acted already in 2011 to repatriate 160 tons of gold to Caracas from the United States and Europe.

[3] ibid

[4] Corina Pons, Mayela Armas, "Exclusive: Venezuela plans to fly central bank gold reserves to UAE – source," Reuters, January 31, 2019.

[5] Constanze Stelzenmüller, "America's policy on Europe takes a nationalist turn," Financial Times, January 31, 2019.

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is "and forgive them their debts": Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year< Jointly posted with Hudson's website


doug , February 1, 2019 at 8:03 am

We see the Democratic Party showing the same colors. Yes we do. no escape? that I see

drumlin woodchuckles , February 1, 2019 at 9:43 am

Well, if the StormTrumpers can tear down all the levers and institutions of international US dollar strength, perhaps they can also tear down all the institutions of Corporate Globalonial Forced Free Trade. That itself may BE our escape . . . if there are enough millions of Americans who have turned their regionalocal zones of habitation into economically and politically armor-plated Transition Towns, Power-Down Zones, etc. People and places like that may be able to crawl up out of the rubble and grow and defend little zones of semi-subsistence survival-economics.

If enough millions of Americans have created enough such zones, they might be able to link up with eachother to offer hope of a movement to make America in general a semi-autarchik, semi-secluded and isolated National Survival Economy . . . . much smaller than today, perhaps likelier to survive the various coming ecosystemic crash-cramdowns, and no longer interested in leading or dominating a world that we would no longer have the power to lead or dominate.

We could put an end to American Exceptionalism. We could lay this burden down. We could become American Okayness Ordinarians. Make America an okay place for ordinary Americans to live in.

drumlin woodchuckles , February 1, 2019 at 2:27 pm

I read somewhere that the Czarist Imperial Army had a saying . . . "Quantity has a Quality all its own".

... ... ...

Cal2 , February 1, 2019 at 2:54 pm

Drumlin,

If Populists, I assume that's what you mean by "Storm Troopers", offer me M4A and revitalized local economies, and deliver them, they have my support and more power to them.

That's why Trump was elected, his promises, not yet delivered, were closer to that then the Democrats' promises. If the Democrats promised those things and delivered, then they would have my support.

If the Democrats run a candidate, who has a no track record of delivering such things, we stay home on election day. Trump can have it, because it won't be any worse.

I don't give a damn about "social issues." Economics, health care and avoiding WWIII are what motivates my votes, and I think more and more people are going to vote the same way.

drumlin woodchuckles , February 1, 2019 at 8:56 pm

Good point about Populist versus StormTrumper. ( And by the way, I said StormTRUMper, not StormTROOper). I wasn't thinking of the Populists. I was thinking of the neo-etc. vandals and arsonists who want us to invade Venezuela, leave the JCPOA with Iran, etc. Those are the people who will finally drive the other-country governments into creating their own parallel payment systems, etc.

And the midpoint of those efforts will leave wreckage and rubble for us to crawl up out of. But we will have a chance to crawl up out of it.

My reason for voting for Trump was mainly to stop the Evil Clinton from getting elected and to reduce the chance of near immediate thermonuclear war with Russia and to save the Assad regime in Syria from Clintonian overthrow and replacement with an Islamic Emirate of Jihadistan.

Much of what will be attempted " in Trump's name" will be de-regulationism of all kinds delivered by the sorts of basic Republicans selected for the various agencies and departments by Pence and Moore and the Koch Brothers. I doubt the Populist Voters wanted the Koch-Pence agenda. But that was a risky tradeoff in return for keeping Clinton out of office.

The only Dems who would seek what you want are Sanders or maybe Gabbard or just barely Warren. The others would all be Clinton or Obama all over again.

Quanka , February 1, 2019 at 8:29 am

I couldn't really find any details about the new INSTEX system – have you got any good links to brush up on? I know they made an announcement yesterday but how long until the new payment system is operational?

The Rev Kev , February 1, 2019 at 8:43 am

Here is a bit more info on it but Trump is already threatening Europe if they use it. That should cause them to respect him more:

https://www.dw.com/en/instex-europe-sets-up-transactions-channel-with-iran/a-47303580

LP , February 1, 2019 at 9:14 am

The NYT and other have coverage.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/01/31/world/europe/europe-trade-iran-nuclear-deal.amp.html

Louis Fyne , February 1, 2019 at 8:37 am

arguably wouldn't it be better if for USD hegemony to be dismantled? A strong USD hurts US exports, subsidizes American consumption (by making commodities cheaper in relative terms), makes international trade (aka a 8,000-mile+ supply chain) easier.

For the sake of the environment, you want less of all three. Though obviously I don't like the idea of expensive gasoline, natural gas or tube socks either.

Mel , February 1, 2019 at 9:18 am

It would be good for Americans, but the wrong kind of Americans. For the Americans that would populate the Global Executive Suite, a strong US$ means that the stipends they would pay would be worth more to the lackeys, and command more influence.

Dumping the industrial base really ruined things. America is now in a position where it can shout orders, and drop bombs, but doesn't have the capacity to do anything helpful. They have to give up being what Toynbee called a creative minority, and settle for being a dominant minority.

integer , February 1, 2019 at 8:43 am

Having watched the 2016 election closely from afar, I was left with the impression that many of the swing voters who cast their vote for Trump did so under the assumption that he would act as a catalyst for systemic change.

What this change would consist of, and how it would manifest, remained an open question. Would he pursue rapprochement with Russia and pull troops out of the Middle East as he claimed to want to do during his 2016 campaign, would he doggedly pursue corruption charges against Clinton and attempt to reform the FBI and CIA, or would he do both, neither, or something else entirely?

Now we know. He has ripped the already transparent mask of altruism off what is referred to as the U.S.-led liberal international order and revealed its true nature for all to see, and has managed to do it in spite of the liberal international establishment desperately trying to hold it in place in the hope of effecting a seamless post-Trump return to what they refer to as "norms". Interesting times.

James , February 1, 2019 at 10:34 am

Exactly. He hasn't exactly lived up to advanced billing so far in all respects, but I suspect there's great deal of skulduggery going on behind the scenes that has prevented that. Whether or not he ever had or has a coherent plan for the havoc he has wrought, he has certainly been the agent for change many of us hoped he would be, in stark contrast to the criminal duopoly parties who continue to oppose him, where the daily no news is always bad news all the same. To paraphrase the infamous Rummy, you don't go to war with the change agent and policies you wished you had, you go to war with the ones you have. That might be the best thing we can say about Trump after the historic dust of his administration finally settles.

drumlin woodchuckles , February 1, 2019 at 2:39 pm

Look on some bright sides. Here is just one bright side to look on. President Trump has delayed and denied the Clinton Plan to topple Assad just long enough that Russia has been able to help Assad preserve legitimate government in most of Syria and defeat the Clinton's-choice jihadis.

That is a positive good. Unless you are pro-jihadi.

integer , February 1, 2019 at 8:09 pm

Clinton wasn't going to "benefit the greater good" either, and a very strong argument, based on her past behavior, can be made that she represented the greater threat. Given that the choice was between her and Trump, I think voters made the right decision.

Stephen Gardner , February 1, 2019 at 9:02 am

Excellent article but I believe the expression is "cui bono": who benefits.

hemeantwell , February 1, 2019 at 9:09 am

Hudson's done us a service in pulling these threads together. I'd missed the threats against the ICC judges. One question: is it possible for INSTEX-like arrangements to function secretly? What is to be gained by announcing them publicly and drawing the expected attacks? Does that help sharpen conflicts, and to what end?

Oregoncharles , February 1, 2019 at 3:23 pm

Maybe they're done in secret already – who knows? The point of doing it publicly is to make a foreign-policy impact, in this case withdrawing power from the US. It's a Declaration of Independence.

whine country , February 1, 2019 at 9:15 am

It certainly seems as though the 90 percent (plus) are an afterthought in this journey to who knows where? Like George C.Scott said while playing Patton, "The whole world at economic war and I'm not part of it. God will not let this happen." Looks like we're on the Brexit track (without the vote). The elite argue with themselves and we just sit and watch. It appears to me that the elite just do not have the ability to contemplate things beyond their own narrow self interest. We are all deplorables now.

a different chris , February 1, 2019 at 9:30 am

Unfortunately this

The end of America's unchallenged global economic dominance has arrived sooner than expected

Is not supported by this (or really the rest of the article). The past tense here, for example, is unwarranted:

At the United Nations, U.S. diplomats insisted on veto power. At the World Bank and IMF they also made sure that their equity share was large enough to give them veto power over any loan or other policy.

And this

So last year, Germany finally got up the courage to ask that some of its gold be flown back to Germany. Germany agreed to slow down the transfer.

Doesn't show Germany as breaking free at all, and worse it is followed by the pregnant

But then came Venezuela.

Yet we find out that Venezuela didn't managed to do what they wanted to do, the Europeans, the Turks, etc bent over yet again. Nothing to see here, actually.

So what I'm saying is he didn't make his point. I wish it were true. But a bit of grumbling and (a tiny amount of) foot-dragging by some pygmy leaders (Merkel) does not signal a global change.

orange cats , February 1, 2019 at 11:22 am

"So what I'm saying is he didn't make his point. I wish it were true. But a bit of grumbling and (a tiny amount of) foot-dragging by some pygmy leaders (Merkel) does not signal a global change."

I'm surprised more people aren't recognizing this. I read the article waiting in vain for some evidence of "the end of our monetary imperialism" besides some 'grumbling and foot dragging' as you aptly put it. There was some glimmer of a buried lede with INTEX, created to get around U.S. sanctions against Iran ─ hardly a 'dam-breaking'. Washington is on record as being annoyed.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , February 1, 2019 at 1:41 pm

Currency regime change can take decades, and small percentage differences are enormous because of the flows involved. USD as reserve for 61% of global sovereigns versus 64% 15 years ago is a massive move. World bond market flows are 10X the size of world stock market flows even though the price of the Dow and Facebook shares etc get all of the headlines.

And foreign exchange flows are 10-50X the flows of bond markets, they're currently on the order of $5 *trillion* per day. And since forex is almost completely unregulated it's quite difficult to get the data and spot reserve currency trends. Oh, and buy gold. It's the only currency that requires no counterparty and is no one's debt obligation.

orange cats , February 1, 2019 at 3:47 pm

That's not what Hudson claims in his swaggering final sentence:

"The end of our monetary imperialism, about which I first wrote in 1972 in Super Imperialism, stuns even an informed observer like me."

Which is risible as not only did he fail to show anything of the kind, his opening sentence stated a completely different reality: "The end of America's unchallenged global economic dominance has arrived sooner than expected" So if we hold him to his first declaration, his evidence is feeble, as I mentioned. As a scholar, his hyperbole is untrustworthy.

No, gold is pretty enough lying on the bosom of a lady-friend but that's about its only usefulness in the real world.

skippy , February 1, 2019 at 8:09 pm

Always bemusing that gold bugs never talk about gold being in a bubble . yet when it goes south of its purchase price speak in tongues about ev'bal forces.

timbers , February 1, 2019 at 12:26 pm

I don't agree, and do agree. The distinction is this:

If you fix a few of Hudson's errors, and take him as making the point that USD is losing it's hegemony, IMO he is basically correct.

Brian (another one they call) , February 1, 2019 at 9:56 am

thanks Mr. Hudson. One has to wonder what has happened when the government (for decades) has been shown to be morally and otherwise corrupt and self serving. It doesn't seem to bother anyone but the people, and precious few of them. Was it our financial and legal bankruptcy that sent us over the cliff?

Steven , February 1, 2019 at 10:23 am

Great stuff!

Indeed! It is to say the least encouraging to see Dr. Hudson return so forcefully to the theme of 'monetary imperialism'. I discovered his Super Imperialism while looking for an explanation for the pending 2003 US invasion of Iraq. If you haven't read it yet, move it to the top of your queue if you want to have any idea of how the world really works. You can find any number of articles on his web site that return periodically to the theme of monetary imperialism. I remember one in particular that described how the rest of the world was brought on board to help pay for its good old-fashioned military imperialism.

If it isn't clear to the rest of the world by now, it never will be. The US is incapable of changing on its own a corrupt status quo dominated by a coalition of its military industrial complex, Wall Street bankers and fossil fuels industries. As long as the world continues to chase the debt created on the keyboards of Wall Street banks and 'deficits don't matter' Washington neocons – as long as the world's 1% think they are getting 'richer' by adding more "debts that can't be repaid (and) won't be" to their portfolios, the global economy can never be put on a sustainable footing.

Until the US returns to the path of genuine wealth creation, it is past time for the rest of the world to go its own way with its banking and financial institutions.

Oh , February 1, 2019 at 3:52 pm

The use of the stick will only go so far. What's the USG going to do if they refuse?

Summer , February 1, 2019 at 10:46 am

In other words, after 2 World Wars that produced the current world order, it is still in a state of insanity with the same pretensions to superiority by the same people, to get number 3.

Yikes , February 1, 2019 at 12:07 pm

UK withholding Gold may start another Brexit? IE: funds/gold held by BOE for other countries in Africa, Asian, South America, and the "stans" with start to depart, slowly at first, perhaps for Switzerland?

Ian Perkins , February 1, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Where is the left in all this? Pretty much the same place as Michael Hudson, I'd say. Where is the US Democratic Party in all this? Quite a different question, and quite a different answer. So far as I can see, the Democrats for years have bombed, invaded and plundered other countries 'for their own good'. Republicans do it 'for the good of America', by which the ignoramuses mean the USA. If you're on the receiving end, it doesn't make much difference.

Michael A Gualario , February 1, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Agreed! South America intervention and regime change, Syria ( Trump is pulling out), Iraq, Middle East meddling, all predate Trump. Bush, Clinton and Obama have nothing to do with any of this.

Oregoncharles , February 1, 2019 at 2:12 pm

" So last year, Germany finally got up the courage to ask that some of its gold be flown back to Germany. "

What proof is there that the gold is still there? Chances are it's notional. All Germany, Venezuela, or the others have is an IOU – and gold cannot be printed. Incidentally, this whole discussion means that gold is still money and the gold standard still exists.

Oregoncharles , February 1, 2019 at 3:41 pm

Wukchumni beat me to the suspicion that the gold isn't there.

The Rev Kev , February 1, 2019 at 7:40 pm

What makes you think that the gold in Fort Knox is still there? If I remember right, there was a Potemkin visit back in the 70s to assure everyone that the gold was still there but not since then. Wait, I tell a lie. There was another visit about two years ago but look who was involved in that visit-

https://www.whas11.com/article/news/local/after-40-years-fort-knox-opens-vault-to-civilians/466441331

And I should mention that it was in the 90s that between 1.3 and 1.5 million 400 oz tungsten blanks were manufactured in the US under Clinton. Since then gold-coated tungsten bars have turned up in places like Germany, China, Ethiopia, the UK, etc so who is to say if those gold bars in Fort Knox are gold all the way through either. More on this at -- http://viewzone2.com/fakegoldx.html

Summer , February 1, 2019 at 5:44 pm

A non-accountable standard. It's more obvious BS than what is going on now.

jochen , February 2, 2019 at 6:46 am

It wasn't last year that Germany brought back its Gold. It has been ongoing since 2013, after some political and popular pressure build up. They finished the transaction in 2017. According to an article in Handelblatt (but it was widely reported back then) they brought back pretty much everything they had in Paris (347t), left what they had in London (perhaps they should have done it in reverse) and took home another 300t from the NY Fed. That still leaves 1236t in NY. But half of their Gold (1710t) is now in Frankfurt. That is 50% of the Bundesbanks holdings.

They made a point in saying that every bar was checked and weighed and presented some bars in Frankfurt. I guess they didn't melt them for assaying, but I'd expect them to be smart enough to check the density.

Their reason to keep Gold in NY and London is to quickly buy USD in case of a crisis. That's pretty much a cold war plan, but that's what they do right now.

Regarding Michal Hudsons piece, I enjoyed reading through this one. He tends to write ridiculously long articles and in the last few years with less time and motivation at hand I've skipped most of his texts on NC as they just drag on.

When I'm truly fascinated I like well written, long articles but somehow he lost me at some point. But I noticed that some long original articles in US magazines, probably research for a long time by the journalist, can just drag on for ever as well I just tune out.

Susan the Other , February 1, 2019 at 2:19 pm

This is making sense. I would guess that tearing up the old system is totally deliberate. It wasn't working so well for us because we had to practice too much social austerity, which we have tried to impose on the EU as well, just to stabilize "king dollar" – otherwise spread so thin it was a pending catastrophe.

Now we can get out from under being the reserve currency – the currency that maintains its value by financial manipulation and military bullying domestic deprivation. To replace this old power trip we are now going to mainline oil. The dollar will become a true petro dollar because we are going to commandeer every oil resource not already nailed down.

When we partnered with SA in Aramco and the then petro dollar the dollar was only backed by our military. If we start monopolizing oil, the actual commodity, the dollar will be an apex competitor currency without all the foreign military obligations which will allow greater competitive advantages.

No? I'm looking at PdVSA, PEMEX and the new "Energy Hub for the Eastern Mediterranean" and other places not yet made public. It looks like a power play to me, not a hapless goofball president at all.

skippy , February 2, 2019 at 2:44 am

So sand people with sociological attachment to the OT is a compelling argument based on antiquarian preferences with authoritarian patriarchal tendencies for their non renewable resource . after I might add it was deemed a strategic concern after WWII .

Considering the broader geopolitical realities I would drain all the gold reserves to zero if it was on offer . here natives have some shiny beads for allowing us to resource extract we call this a good trade you maximize your utility as I do mine .

Hay its like not having to run C-corp compounds with western 60s – 70s esthetics and letting the locals play serf, blow back pay back, and now the installed local chiefs can own the risk and refocus the attention away from the real antagonists.

ChrisAtRU , February 1, 2019 at 6:02 pm

Indeed. Thanks so much for this. Maybe the RICS will get serious now – can no longer include Brazil with Bolsonaro. There needs to be an alternate system or systems in place, and to see US Imperialism so so blatantly and bluntly by Trump admin – "US gives Juan Guaido control over some Ve