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Paleoconservatism

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Introduction

Paleoconservatism is a neologism created by those following within that movement to distinguish their so-called "traditional" values from the neoconservatives. While the “paleo” in paleoconservatism leaves the impression that it arose earlier than other conservatisms, the suggestion is misleading. It is mainly a reaction to Neoconservatism. And as such is pretty new movement and political philosophy.  Although Neoconservatism was born in 1965, in the pages of Irving Kristol’s journal the Public Interest, it was not until editor Norman Podhoretz used Commentary in June 1970 to state his opposition to the New Left that the movement began to attract attention (Commentary in American Life by Murray Friedman , Temple University Press, 2005 )

Most neoconservatives are Jewish and are often closely related by blood or long friendships. Indeed, as its adherents are the best-known Jewish conservatives, neoconservatism might fairly be described as the conservatism of the Jews—those few Jews who become prominent on the Right almost invariably identify with it. Recalling their early struggles against fascist and communist totalitarianism, the neoconservatives continue to view external opponents of the United States as threats not simply to American interests but to civilization itself. They also remain intellectuals, not politicians, and are most comfortable as thinkers and writers who, unlike candidates for office, can express their views without reservation. Those who have served in government—with the exception of Moynihan—have done so as appointees and have developed impressive bureaucratic skills that they have used effectively in high-level positions. In one important way, however, neoconservatism has changed. The left-wing experiences that marked the youths of many older neoconservatives do not characterize the current generation—some came from the relatively conservative Jackson wing of the 1970s Democratic Party, but most of the new generation have been conservatives their entire adult lives.

However, paleoconservatism should not be seen as a simple resurrection of these earlier themes. It fuses notions associated with the anti-war, anti-empire, isolationist traditions with other strains and concepts drawn from both the social sciences and different conservative traditions. They are reconfigured so as to form a theoretically developed and structured world view informed by a particular representation of American ethnicity, elite theory, and notions of republicanism derived from southern conservatism. In other words this is an ideology, much like Neoconservatism is.  And as such a competing ideology.  

Many prominent paleoconservatives publish their views in The American Conservative, the leading publication exposing paleoconservative ideology. Buchanan, leading spokesman of paleoconservatism has adopted the slogan "America First” as part of a conscious attempt to evoke pre-war sentiments about keeping the United States out of “foreign wars.”

"Today we call for a new patriotism, where Americans begin to put the needs of Americans first, for a new nationalism where in every negotiation, be it arms control or trade, the American side seeks advantage or victory for the United States." With these words, columnist, television personality, and former presidential speechwriter Patrick J. Buchanan announced his candidacy for president in a New Hampshire hotel conference room. He had prefigured his slogan in an article the previous year for the National Interest: "America First--and Second, and Third." ...

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America First was Buchanan's gambit, his bid to mobilize conservatives now that the old call to slash the federal government no longer resounded successfully. With it he hoped to attract America's nationalist hard core, people who felt aggrieved and abused not so much by foreigners as by alien elements within their own country--to unite conservatism and populism together in an ideology that could impose itself on the country more effectively than Reagan's business-oriented conservatism had ever succeeded in doing. It was not Buchanan's gambit alone, of course. Over the five years since he had quit his White House staff job in 1987, an intellectual coterie had assembled around Buchanan, made up of writers and activists who had broken off from the main mass of conservatism over the course of the 1980s, disgusted with President Reagan's weak-willed acceptance of a Martin Luther King holiday and sanctions against South Africa, with President Bush's knuckling under to the 1991 civil rights laws and his upping legal immigration levels by 200,000 a year. They complained that their conservative movement--the conservative movement of Robert Alfonso Taft and Barry Goldwater--had been hijacked. "Before true conservatives can ever take back their country," Buchanan had written in May 1991, "they are first going to have to take back their movement." From whom? From "the neoconservatives . . . the ex-liberals, socialists and Trotskyists who signed on in the name of anti-communism and now control our foundations and set the limits of permissible dissent." As one of the conservatives who would later back the Buchanan campaign lamented, "We have simply been crowded out by overwhelming numbers. The offensives of radicalism have driven vast herds of liberals across the borders into our territories. These refugees speak in our name, but the language they speak is the same one they always spoke." 1

Paleoconservatism also has  a marked hostility to the “east coast establishment", echoing Huey Long’s attacks on the wealthy and Father Charles Coughlin's pleas on behalf of the local community against what he saw as the arrogance and self-interested indifference of metropolitan financial interests. They are suspicious about big finance, especially TBTF banks.

Paleoconservatism also shares the sense of exclusion from the government apparatus by neoconservatives, who now dominate the Washington political scene, and especially the Department of State. Along with Neoconservatism, they reject neoliberal globalization and multiculturalism (three horseman of Neoliberal Apocalypse):

Although Scotchie does not put it quite this way, contemporary paleoconservatism developed as a reaction against three trends in the American Right during the Reagan administration. First, it reacted against the bid for dominance by the neoconservatives, former liberals who insisted not only that their version of conservative ideology and rhetoric prevail over those of older conservatives, but also that their team should get the rewards of office and patronage and that the other team of the older Right receive virtually nothing.

The politics of this conflict, as those involved in it will recall, was often vicious and personal, the most notorious case being the backstabbing treatment of the late M.E. Bradford by his neoconservative rivals over the appointment to the chairmanship of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1981. The bitterness of the NEH controversy was due not to the neocons pushing their own nominee, the totally unknown and laughably under-qualified William Bennett but to their complete lack of hesitation in smearing, lying about, and undermining Bradford at every opportunity.

Scotchie deals briefly with the Bradford controversy, but I have to say, as one closely involved in supporting Bradford at the time, that he does not dwell sufficiently on the sheer evil and meanness of neoconservative conduct in it. But he also notes the firing, calculated vilification, or effective ostracism of several paleos or paleo fellow travelers by the neocon cabal in the following years as well as the deliberate campaign to strip the Rockford Institute of funding by neoconservative-controlled foundations.

Most paleoconservatives are against immigration, neoclassical economics (which is pseudoscience anyway, so any rational person is against it ;-) and any military intervention by the US anywhere. They have little regard for any benefits of an egalitarian society. Their economic views are more likely to tend toward New Deal than modern neoliberalism, although there is a contingent of  Austrian scholars within paleoconservative movement. 

The most notable living paleoconservative is Patrick Buchanan, who recently (welcomed Donald Trump foreign policy views):

With Democrats howling that Vladimir Putin hacked into and leaked those 19,000 DNC emails to help Trump, the Donald had a brainstorm: Maybe the Russians can retrieve Hillary Clinton's lost emails. Not funny, and close to "treasonous," came the shocked cry. Trump then told the New York Times that a Russian incursion into Estonia need not trigger a U.S. military response.

Even more shocking. By suggesting the U.S. might not honor its NATO commitment, under Article 5, to fight Russia for Estonia, our foreign policy elites declaimed, Trump has undermined the security architecture that has kept the peace for 65 years. More interesting, however, was the reaction of Middle America. Or, to be more exact, the nonreaction. Americans seem neither shocked nor horrified. What does this suggest?

Behind the war guarantees America has issued to scores of nations in Europe, the Mideast and Asia since 1949, the bedrock of public support that existed during the Cold War has crumbled. We got a hint of this in 2013. Barack Obama, claiming his "red line" against any use of poison gas in Syria had been crossed, found he had no public backing for air and missile strikes on the Assad regime. The country rose up as one and told him to forget it. He did. We have been at war since 2001. And as one looks on the ruins of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, and adds up the thousands dead and wounded and trillions sunk and lost, can anyone say our War Party has served us well?

On bringing Estonia into NATO, no Cold War president would have dreamed of issuing so insane a war guarantee. Eisenhower refused to intervene to save the Hungarian rebels. JFK refused to halt the building of the Berlin Wall. LBJ did nothing to impede the Warsaw Pact's crushing of the Prague Spring. Reagan never considered moving militarily to halt the smashing of Solidarity.

Were all these presidents cringing isolationists? Rather, they were realists who recognized that, though we prayed the captive nations would one day be free, we were not going to risk a world war, or a nuclear war, to achieve it. Period. In 1991, President Bush told Ukrainians that any declaration of independence from Moscow would be an act of "suicidal nationalism."

Today, Beltway hawks want to bring Ukraine into NATO. This would mean that America would go to war with Russia, if necessary, to preserve an independence Bush I regarded as "suicidal."

Have we lost our minds?

The first NATO supreme commander, General Eisenhower, said that if U.S. troops were still in Europe in 10 years, NATO would be a failure. In 1961, he urged JFK to start pulling U.S. troops out, lest Europeans become military dependencies of the United States. Was Ike not right? Even Barack Obama today riffs about the "free riders" on America's defense. Is it really so outrageous for Trump to ask how long the U.S. is to be responsible for defending rich Europeans who refuse to conscript the soldiers or pay the cost of their own defense, when Eisenhower was asking that same question 55 years ago?

In 1997, geostrategist George Kennan warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe "would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post-Cold War era." He predicted a fierce nationalistic Russian response. Was Kennan not right? NATO and Russia are today building up forces in the eastern Baltic where no vital U.S. interests exist, and where we have never fought before - for that very reason. There is no evidence Russia intends to march into Estonia, and no reason for her to do so. But if she did, how would NATO expel Russian troops without air and missile strikes that would devastate that tiny country? And if we killed Russians inside Russia, are we confident Moscow would not resort to tactical atomic weapons to prevail? After all, Russia cannot back up any further. We are right in her face.

On this issue Trump seems to be speaking for the silent majority and certainly raising issues that need to be debated.

Needed now is diplomacy. The trade-off: Russia ensures the independence of the Baltic republics that she let go. And NATO gets out of Russia's face. Should Russia dishonor its commitment, economic sanctions are the answer, not another European war.

Daniel Larison  is probably the second important paleoconservative thinker. Antiwar.com founder and editor Justin Raimondo is probably the third. Also important is Phyllis Schlafly.

Paleoconservatism claims its roots in the "Old Right", a loose grouping of people, many of them former liberals, who emerged during the Great Depression and World War II as opponents of Franklin D. Roosevelt's domestic and foreign policy. As the Cold War got underway after WWII, these people remained isolationist and opposed the Cold War, grouping post-war foreign and domestic policy together as two sides of the same coin, the "welfare-warfare state."

Early examples include journalists John T. Flynn, Garet Garrett, Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Albert Jay Nock, revisionist historians Harry Elmer Barnes (one of the first major Holocaust deniers) and George Morgenstern (who claimed that FDR had dragged America into WWII by deliberately goading the Japanese to attack), libertarian Murray Rothbard, and U.S. Senator Robert A. Taft.

With militant anti-communism in vogue on the American right, they found themselves marginalized within the conservative movement and shut out from outlets like William F. Buckley's National Review, their continued isolationism getting them accused of being "useful idiots" for Moscow.

However, they continued as an outside tendency through such groups as Leonard Read's Foundation for Economic Education and an emerging Austrian school of economics led by Ludwig von Mises and Henry Hazlitt, who later became libertarian icons. It was not until the fall of the Berlin Wall that isolationism re-emerged on the right (outside of the libertarians, who had become a distinct movement from conservatism), led by people like Pat Buchanan who had been interventionist during the Cold War. 

Promotions of local manufacturing and tariffs

From The Paleo Persuasion The American Conservative

Politically, the leadership of the Right evolved from Robert Taft in the 1940s and ’50s, who, as Scotchie writes, “cared more … about the survival of the shoe-making industry in America than whether American consumers could someday buy $125 sneakers made by twenty-five cents an hour labor in Indonesia,” to Newt Gingrich, who babbled about a laptop computer for every school child and doted credulously on the most bizarre New Age banalities. Culturally and intellectually, the Right moved from the radical conservative cultural criticism of men like Donald Davidson, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, and Bernard I. Bell to the post-Reagan triumphalism that chortled over the “end of history” and the arrival of the world democratic imperium.

Rejection of neoliberal interventionism and wars

Anti war position make Paleoconservatism is similar to libertarianism. They reject neoconservatism with its Trotskyite "Permanent war" mentality. Paloconservatism anti-war postion like is the case with libertarians as well is based on Non-Interventionism:

Libertarianism and war are not compatible. One reason why should be obvious: In war, governments commit legalized mass murder. In modern warfare especially, war is not just waged among voluntary combatants, but kills, maims, and otherwise harms innocent people. Then, of course, wars must be funded through taxes, which are extracted from U.S. citizens by force—a form of legalized theft, as far as libertarians are concerned. And, historically, the United States has used conscription—legalized slavery—to force people to fight and die. In addition, an interventionist foreign policy makes civilians targets for retaliation, so governments indirectly cause more violence against their own people when they become involved in other countries’ affairs. In addition, war is always accompanied by many other new restrictions on liberty, many of which are sold as supposedly temporary wartime measures but then never go away.

In the article The Paleo Persuasion Samuel Francis wrote ( The American Conservative, December 16, 2002): 

While some (Scotchie mentions Pat Buchanan and me) were anti-communist interventionists during the Cold War, all have come to reject the reckless military interventionism and globalism of its aftermath. A critical point of development was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the U.S. and conservative response to it. Paleos and those who soon identified with them almost spontaneously rejected U.S. military intervention against Iraq. It was a moment, falling only a year after the neoconservative onslaught on the Rockford Institute, that solidified the paleoconservative identity.

“The US, as paleos have claimed for decades, was only meant to be a constitutional republic, not an empire—as Buchanan’s 1999 foreign policy tome A Republic, Not an Empire nostalgically states,” Scotchie explains. “Republics mind their own business. Their governments have very limited powers, and their people are too busy practicing self-government to worry about problems in other countries. Empires not only bully smaller, defenseless nations, they also can’t leave their own, hapless subjects alone…. Empires and the tenth amendment aren’t friends…. Empires and small government aren’t compatible, either.

If anti-interventionism and a commitment to the Old Republic defined by strict-construction constitutionalism and highly localized and independent social and political institutions defined one major dimension of paleoconservatism, its antipathy to the mass immigration that began to flood the country in the 1980s defined another. Indeed, it was ostensibly and mainly Chronicles’ declaration of opposition to immigration that incited the neoconservative attack on Rockford and its subsequent defunding. Scotchie devotes a special but short chapter to paleoconservative thought on immigration and makes clear that to paleos, America was an extension of Western civilization. It was intended by the Founding Fathers to be an Anglo-Saxon-Celtic nation also influenced by Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem. Large-scale immigration from non-Western nations would, as Fleming (and most other paleos) maintained, forever spoil a distinct American civilization.

The implication of this passage is that paleoconservatives, unlike libertarians, most neoconservatives, and many contemporary mainstream conservatives, do not consider America to be an “idea,” a “proposition,” or a “creed.” It is instead a concrete and particular culture, rooted in a particular historical experience, a set of particular institutions as well as particular beliefs and values, and a particular ethnic-racial identity, and, cut off from those roots, it cannot survive. Indeed, it is not surviving now, for all the glint and glitter of empire.

While Scotchie is quite clear and well-informed about the paleos’ thought on immigration and its meaning, he fails to discuss at all their views on race. This is unfortunate, as not a few of them have been accused of simple-minded “racism,” “white supremacy,” and other ill-defined bugaboos. I, for one, like to think that what they believe about race, while definitely not in the liberal-neocon mainstream, is rather more nuanced and considerably more sophisticated than their enemies (and not a few of their friends) want to think.

If Scotchie’s book has any great flaw, it is that it is simply too short. Paleoconservatism is worth a much longer and deeper look than his volume can give, though Scotchie himself is both so thoroughly familiar with his subject and so sympathetic to it that he could have produced a much more extended treatment. He might also have revealed more of the personalities of the leading paleoconservative writers, interviewed them, and discussed several writers he omits, for example, Claes Ryn of Catholic University or E. Christian Kopff of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and he might have explored why the Chronicles school has not been more successful at defining the American Right.

Have the paleos indeed failed, and if they have, is the neocon stab-in-the-back theory the only reason? Are there perhaps either large historical trends or even mere personality differences among the paleos that made their own crack-up eventually inevitable, and can such trends or conflicts be overcome? Or are the paleos really only dinosaurs, whining nostalgically for a world they have lost and unable or cantankerously unwilling to adapt to the Shining Imperial City on the Hill the neoconservatives claim to be constructing? Scotchie might have explored these questions and problems more extensively than he did, and one hopes he will do so in a bigger book in the future, but what he has given us in the meantime is an essential and valuable contribution to American intellectual history in the last decade of the last century
 

Paleoconservatives are strongly critical of neoliberalism

In a 1988 lecture, Russell Kirk quoted a letter that showed, he said, how hot the bitterness burned: "I believe," wrote his correspondent, "that the chief enemy of American conservatism has not been the Marxists, nor even the socialist liberals in the Democratic Party, but the Neo-conservatives, who have sabotaged the movement from within and exploited it for their own selfish purposes." 2

Paleoconservatism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

They are also strongly critical of neoconservatives and their sympathizers in print media, talk radio and cable TV news.[26] Paleocons often say they are not conservatives in the sense that they necessarily wish to preserve existing institutions or seek merely to slow the growth of modern big-government conservatism.[27] They do not wish to be closely identified with the U.S. Republican Party.[26] Rather, they seek the renewal of "small 'r'" republican society in the context of the Western heritage, customs and civilization.[28] Joseph Scotchie wrote:

Republics mind their own business. Their governments have very limited powers, and their people are too busy practicing self-government to worry about problems in other countries. Empires not only bully smaller, defenseless nations, they also can’t leave their own, hapless subjects alone.... Empires and small government aren’t compatible, either.[29]

By contrast, paleocons see neoconservatives as empire-builders and themselves as defenders of the republic, pointing to Rome as an example of how an ongoing campaign of military expansionism can destroy a republic.[30]

As paleoconservatism germinated as a reaction to neoconservatism, most of its development as a distinct political tendency under that name has been in the United States, although there are parallels in the traditional Old Right of other Western nations. French conservatives such as Jean Raspail,[135] and British conservatives such as Enoch Powell,[136] Peter Hitchens,[137] Antony Flew (whom the Rockford Institute awarded the Ingersoll Prize),[138] John Betjeman,[139] and Roger Scruton[140] as well as Scruton's Salisbury Review and Derek Turner's Quarterly Review,[141] as well as Australia's Sydney Traditionalist Forum[142] all emphasize skepticism, stability, and the Burkean inheritance, and may be considered broadly sympathetic to paleo values. For example, Hitchens wrote, in opposition to the Iraq War,

There is nothing conservative about war. For at least the last century war has been the herald and handmaid of socialism and state control. It is the excuse for censorship, organized lying, regulation and taxation. It is paradise for the busybody and the nark. It damages family life and wounds the Church. It is, in short, the ally of everything summed up by the ugly word ‘progress.’[143]

Note the One Nation movement in 1990s Australia,[144] Germany's Junge Freiheit,[145] and Italy's Lega Nord.[146]  Also paleoconservatism has some analogies with the Russian dissidents such as Andrei Navrozov[147] and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.[148]

Anti-immigration sentiments: save our jobs

Paleoconservative attitudes toward the issue of illegal immigration to the United States and the problem of multiculturalism and assimilation on American soil are mostly negative.  They view these phenomena as a significant threat to the American way of life. Their words are filled with anxiety for the future of American society, which is instilled with the positive meaning of the idea of open borders, and which is becoming permeated with alien cultures and losing its own cultural identity. Starting with an explanation of the essence of the American nation’s homogeneity, this article presents the threats which come with the ‘mixing’ of cultures and liberal immigration as well as phenomena directly linked to such immigration, namely the problem of terrorism and Islam.

Most Americans at least professed to be unalarmed about this gradual transformation of the country. They claimed that America was a nation founded upon a "proposition"; anyone who assented to the American proposition could become an American (Dead Right, by David Frum):

To Buchanan and his friends, this universalism was just sentimental flim-flam. American civilization was the product of a particular people. To preserve that civilization, it was necessary to preserve the people that had created it. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution had not created America; the Declaration and the Constitution were created by Americans. Bolivar wrote constitutions every bit as noble as that composed in Philadelphia; it was the Anglo-American character that made the Philadelphia constitution a success and the Caracas constitution a failure. History had demonstrated that non- British Isles immigrants from Europe had made good enough citizens, but why run the awful risk of cultural suicide...

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His conservatism was a nationalist conservatism above all--a conservatism that attached far more importance to cultural and security issues than to maximizing growth and efficiency. Buchanan was slow to absorb all the implications of his nationalism. In his 1988 memoir, he still thought that "among the great American achievements of the twentieth century is free Asia, democratic and capitalist." "To squander that in an absurd 'trade war' because we cannot compete with Korean cars or Japanese computer chips would be an act of almost terminal stupidity for the West." 9 He also confessed that he had inwardly believed, at the time they took place, that the civil rights movement's civil disobedience campaigns were justified by natural law, even though he would later write editorials for the Globe-Democrat attacking them. But his thinking was jogged along by a new set of friends: the writers who published in Chronicles magazine.

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Sympathy for the economic plight of blue-collar workers in New Hampshire was not just bleeding-heart sentimentalism: it propelled Buchanan toward accepting an active federal responsibility for promoting industry--and protecting it from foreign competition. Buchanan's standard stump speech told an anecdote about a visit to a lumber mill on the Canadian border. Shaking hands with the workers, the candidate found himself face to face with a burly giant of a man. The man stood silent for a moment, staring at the floor, and then looked up to say only, "Save our jobs." As a story, it is as kitschy as Steinbeck at his most gooey, but it led to a serious point:

I see Mr. Bush, and excuse me, some of my conservative friends, by their willingness to allow the ruthless destruction of so many of the industries vital to our defenses, as engaged in the unilateral disarmament of our country. I can't understand it. On the grounds of national interest, I favor policies that won't let certain defense-related industries go under.

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Do we want to keep the textile manufacturing base in the United States? Do we want to keep GM and Chrysler and Ford? Do we want to keep Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas? . . . We have got to address the fact that the Asian countries and European countries are practising a form of protectionism and adversarial trade. They are capturing markets by undercutting and dumping and by targeted trade, and they have been doing this to make their countries No. 1. 12

 The Economist stringer who followed Buchanan to Mississippi reported that

Mr. Buchanan has greater ideas still for the nationalist state than merely dishing out credits to any industry (oil and gas, aerospace, textiles, ship-building) that suffers from foreign competition. For instance, he privately admits he is tempted by the idea of paying for those credits--and much more--by. throwing up a wall of tariffs around the American economy.

Buchanan understood that many conservatives saw trade not as an economic issue, but as an issue of sovereignty and group loyalty. Protectionism is a way for conservatives to show solidarity with their fellow-Americans, especially blue-collar fellow-Americans, without explicitly endorsing the redistribution of wealth. Which is why so many would-be populists of the Right have been drawn to the protectionist cause. Barry Goldwater had been one of just eight senators to vote against the 1962 law that gave President Kennedy the authority to engage in the Kennedy round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations. Pat Robertson campaigned as a protectionist in 1988. So did George Wallace, in both 1968 and 1972. Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail whiz who in his heyday had his stethoscope pressed as close to the chest of the American conservative as anyone, argued as long ago as 1983 that "the official trade policy of the United States should be 'fair trade'--that is, no imports produced with slave labor, no imports from foreign plants built by the U.S. taxpayer and no imports from countries which don't allow our products into their country." 15

And in November 1991, just before the beginning of campaigning in New Hampshire, a group of conservative activists called a press conference in Washington to announce their repudiation of free trade. Among them was Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation, the stablest of the new right-wing organizations that had come to life in the late 1970s, and one of the founders of the Heritage Foundation. "We are here," Weyrich said, "to warn the Republican Party that they had better take this issue seriously."

Weyrich was not just blowing hot air. While the congressional Republican Party overwhelmingly endorsed the North American Free Trade Agreement, the endorsement was not quite unanimous. North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms voted against NAFTA as did his protégé Senator Lauch Faircloth. And many of the Republicans who voted in favor of the treaty were swung not by the ambiguous pact's free-trade aspects but by its protectionist subthemes. Suggestively, the manager of the Republican pro-NAFTA forces in the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, is by no means a believer in free trade. In conversation, he praises Henry Cabot Lodge and the protectionist Republicans of the 1920s, and warns that in the absence of trade controls, world industrial wages will be determined by the pay scale of South China. 17

Rejection of Israel first crowd

WELL DONE MR. TRUMP!!! Israel-First, Neocons to join Hillary, all America’s enemies in one party Non-Intervention.com

The disloyal Israel-First/Neoconservative (IF/NC) crowd seems to be having a collective and hopefully fatal seizure over Mr. Trump’s pledge to be strictly even-handed and neutral in the ongoing war between Israel and the Arabs — a war both sides clearly intend to fight to the death.

Now, many past presidential candidates have said much the same thing, but they have always added that silly, ahistorical mantra that the United States will defend Israel’s “right to exist”. But Trump did not add that mantra of the brain-dead, and so has markedly distressed the Israel-Firsters and Neocons. Indeed, they always have opposed Trump because, it seems, they sense that he will always put America first and let those individuals, nations, and groups irrelevant to the republic’s security and economic prosperity swing in the wind. I think — or at least hope — they are right.

What makes the current Israel First/Neocon seizure so hearteningly severe are not only Trump’s words and apparent America-First foreign policy inclinations, but the fact that he is getting so very many votes. “Could it possibly be,” ponder the likes of Bill Kristol, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Max Boot, Eliot Cohen, Robert Kagan, Michael Bloomberg, Peter King, Elliott Abrams, Eric Edelman, Michael Chertoff, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Bolton, “that Americans are not genuinely happy, proud, and eager to have their fellow citizens and soldier-children dying uselessly in wars motivated in large part by the U.S. interventionism we advocate and by America’s subservience to a country that does nothing but degrade the republic’s security and drain its treasury?” “Could it be,” the IF/NC’ers are wondering, “that Trump and the increasing number of voters supporting him know that we Israel-Firsters and Neocons have played them for fools, corrupted their political system and media, and done our best to keep their kids dying in wars meant to serve a foreign nation’s interests at the cost of their own?” Well, it is too soon to tell, but the words of the Israel Firsters and Neocons and their fierce hatred of Trump surely suggest that they fear their war-causing disloyalty has been identified and — at long last — their jig is about up.

Facing the next-to-last last ditch, the disloyal are nearly frantic in their support for Senator Marco Rubio. And why not? Rubio is a thorough-going IF/NC, and — as he has little money of his own — is on the payroll, according to the media, of two pro-Israel, Jewish-American billionaires. Rubio also has denounced the Founders’ approach to foreign policy, expressing his belief that the IF/NC approach to U.S. foreign policy — that is, America at war everywhere, all the time, to protect Israel — is superior to John Quincy Adams’ republic-preserving advice that the United States must never go abroad “in search of monsters to destroy.”

But Rubio, after his Super Tuesday shellacking, is circling the drain until the Florida primary sends him barreling toward the sewer, and the Neocons and Israel Firsters, as Jacob Heilbrunn has written in the National Interest, have only one place to go, and that is to Hillary Clinton, who already has few of both detestable species on her team, but, the media says, only one pro-Israel, Jewish-American billionaire.

Mr. Heilbrunn’s excellent article notes that the IF/NC was originally based in the Democratic Party and so in a sense would be going home if they side with Clinton. That they were once aligned with the Democrats is clearly true, but being aligned with is much different than being part of, and I would argue that the IF/NC have never been anything but a one-issue party of their own.

Their party — best identified as the Disloyal Party or perhaps just as Copperheads — has never had any goal other than protecting the interests of Israel and keeping the United States steadily involved in the Israel-Arab war by promoting and purchasing a U.S. foreign policy that results in wars to install “democracy” abroad, but which are, in reality, only wars that are intended to annihilate Israel’s enemies, while unnecessarily making Israel’s enemies America’s. Can any clear thinking person really believe, for example, that “Foundation for Defense of Democracies” is anything but an IF/NC tool for fomenting war against Muslims in order to protect what they describe as “the only democracy” in the Middle East?

The use of the democracy angle by the IF/NC crowd is amply demonstrated in a recent article by one of its leading lights, Max Boot, titled “The GOP’s Apologists for Tyrants”. In this piece, Mr. Boot denounces Republican presidential candidates Trump, Cruz, and Kasich for “their support for dictators” and their clear lack of enthusiasm for unnecessary overseas democracy mongering and interventionist wars. Mr. Boot lauds the usual Copperhead line and insists that overthrowing Saddam, Gaddafi, and others was the correct thing to do. The only problem, he says, is that the U.S. government did not go far enough in waging those useless and massively counterproductive wars. Only the Israel First-owned Marco Rubio, Boot declares, refuses to “embrace genocidal tyrants”, which means the Copperheads were betting that they could count on Rubio for more war.

Well, Mr. Boot, no, Trump, Cruz, and Kasich are not seeking to “embrace genocidal tyrants”, but rather are looking out for America first. They know that neither Saddam nor Gaddafi was ever a serious national-security threat to the United States; indeed, both were key and extraordinarily lethal allies — and ones we did not have to pay — in the war against the Islamists.

Saddam kept Iraq’s door locked tight and so prevented the Islamists located east of Iraq from moving westward in large numbers, and he made the Iranians little more than marginal players in the Levant. How are things looking in that area now, Mr. Boot? Gaddafi kept the Islamists at bay in much of North Africa and murdered or incarcerated every Islamist that Libya’s military and security services could get their hands on, but IF/NC wanted a pro-democracy war in Libya and got it. How are affairs in the Maghreb going these days, Mr. Boot?

And do not forget, Mr. Boot, that you and your IF/NC sidekicks insisted that the U.S. government go democracy mongering in the Middle East in the name of the Arab Spring, and then you supported the military coup in Egypt that destroyed a democratically elected regime. Now, Mr. Boot, how is all of that working out? Finally, what about that clever IF/NC plan to build a new, pro-Western democracy in Afghanistan, how is that doing? Could you check on the progress of democracy there and get back to me?

What I think Mr. Trump is saying, Mr. Boot, is that it is too bad/so sad that there are murderous dictators loose in the world, but as long as they pose no life-and-death threat to the United States there is no reason for America to militarily intervene and give them — as the saying goes — the boot. After all, if the dictators are not killing Americans and/or threatening genuine U.S. national interests, who cares? Humans are hard-wired for war, so let them fight. The U.S. government exists only to defend the republic, its commerce, and its citizens and their liberties; it is under precisely zero obligation — legal, moral, or one dreamed up by disloyal U.S. citizens — to defend any set of foreigners against the murderous machinations of the dictators who rule them or the enemies who threaten them.

The wars that disloyal IF/NC Copperheads like you champion, Mr. Boot, have invariably been greatly counterproductive for U.S. national security, the national debt, and, especially, for those you and your colleagues care the least about; namely, the parents, wives, husbands, and children who suffered the loss or maiming of their loved ones in the military while they were fighting in the unnecessary wars you and your kind demand that America fight for only one reason, to make the world safe for Israel.

So, Mr. Boot, if you and the rest of your wretched and disloyal IF/NC associates want to go to the Democratic Party and side with IF/NC’er Hillary Clinton, please go immediately and trumpet your departure from the roof tops. After all, what could be more appropriate than today’s Copperheads — a kind of snake that sneaks and strikes without warning — joining the Democratic Party, the original incubator and home of the Civil War’s Copperheads? In the decade before that war, Massachusetts’s Senator Charles Sumner was speaking when he saw one of his pro-slavery foes enter the Senate Chamber and walk toward his seat. Sumner stopped and asked, I paraphrase here, the other senators to witness that a slug was slithering across the chamber’s floor looking for a chair to adhere to. For the Republican Party, the movement of the entire IF/NC crowd to the Democratic Party would be a Godsend, a veritable slithering slug migration that would find no shortage of fellow slugs waiting for them in Hillary’s camp, and there probably would be enough chairs for all of them to adhere to.

There is, then, nothing that could strengthen the Republican Party more and attract more voters to its side than to be shed of you, Mr. Boot, and your disloyal fellow Copperheads. Be gone, good riddance, and praise God for cutting out the festering IF/NC malignancy from the Republican Party so that it can once again stand for something more than endless war and Israel First.

 

Anti-Federalism, the stress of decentralization and local governance

The paleoconservative emphasis upon localism is reflected in their search for international co-think- ers. They have constructed ties with those who think in terms of small-scale, decentralized and localist structures structured around shared com- mon ethnic roots, rather than those who seek to construct a centralized state apparatus. Italy has been of particular interest. Chronicles rejects the commercial conservatism of Forza Italia and the quasi-fascism of Alleanza Nazionale. It looks instead towards the Lega Nord, its leader, Umberto Bossi, and its demands for a confederate state. It has similarly associ- ated itself with the Bosnian Serbs' efforts to create an autonomous republic, and opposed the attempts to es- tablish Bosnia as a viable multiethnic state. The hostility of the European right to American mass culture may however prevent closer collaboration.

Anti-Federalism is another key aspect of paleoconservatism, which adherents see as an antitype to the managerial state. The paleocon flavor urges honoring the principle of subsidiarity, that is, decentralized government, local rule, private property and minimal bureaucracy.[54] In an international context, this view would be known as federalism and paleocons often look to John C. Calhoun for inspiration.[55]

As to the role of statecraft in society, Thomas Fleming says it should not be confused with soulcraft. He gives his summary of the paleocon position:

Our basic position on the state has always been twofold: 1) a recognition that man is a social and political animal who cannot be treated as an "individual" without doing damage to human nature. In this sense libertarian theory is as wrong and as potentially harmful as communism. The commonwealth is therefore a natural and necessary expression of human nature that provides for the fulfillment of human needs, and 2) the modern state is a cancerous form of polity that has metastasized and poisoned the natural institutions from which the state derives all legitimacy — family, church, corporation (in the broadest sense), and neighborhood. Thus, it is almost always a mistake to try to use the modern state to accomplish moral or social ends.[56]

Russell Kirk, for example, argued that most government tasks should be performed at the local or state level. This is intended to ward off centralization and protect community sentiment by putting the decision-making power closer to the populace. He rooted this in the Christian notion of original sin; since humanity is flawed, society should not put too much power in a few hands. Gerald J. Russello concluded that this involved "a different way of thinking about government, one based on an understanding of political society as beginning in place and sentiment, which in turn supports written laws."[57]

This anti-federalism extends to culture too. In general, this means that different regional groups should be able to maintain their own distinct identity. For example, Thomas Fleming and Michael Hill argue that the American South and every other region have the right to "preserve their authentic cultural traditions and demand the same respect from others." In their Southern context they call on citizens to "take control of their own governments, their own institutions, their own culture, their own communities and their own lives" and "wean themselves from dependence on federal largesse." They say that:

A concern for states' rights, local self-government and regional identity used to be taken for granted everywhere in America. But the United States is no longer, as it once was, a federal union of diverse states and regions. National uniformity is being imposed by the political class that runs Washington, the economic class that owns Wall Street and the cultural class in charge of Hollywood and the Ivy League.[58]

In a similar fashion, Pat Buchanan argued during the 1996 campaign that the social welfare should be left to the control of individual states. He also called for abolishing the U.S. Department of Education and handing decision-making over to parents, teachers and districts. Controversies such as evolution, busing and curriculum standards would be settled on a local basis.[59] In addition, he opposed a 1998 Puerto Rican statehood plan on the grounds that the island would be ripped from its cultural and linguistic roots: "Let Puerto Rico remain Puerto Rico, and let the United States remain the United States and not try to absorb, assimilate and Americanize a people whose hearts will forever belong to that island."[60]

Focus of family and moral values

Like most conservatives, paleoconservatives  believe that hard work, self-discipline, and adherence to religious faith were the means by which a virtuous life was earned and a moral order was established and maintained (The Paleo Persuasion The American Conservative):

Third, paleoconservatism emerged also as a reaction against what was taking place in American culture itself in the 1980s and ’90s, trends that the mainstream Right warmly embraced. Not only the increasing secularism, hedonism, and carnal and material self-indulgence of the dominant culture but also its shallowness and artificiality, its proclivity to being manipulated by media and political elites, its passivity in the face of more and more usurpation of social and civic functions by big government, big business, and big media, and the happy chatter from the contemporary political Right that celebrated this transformation and identified public morality almost exclusively with flag-waving, prayer in schools, invoking saccharine and platitude about “family values,” and constant ranting about any and all movies that contained sex.

The paleoconservative vews on the subject are well expressed in By Samuel Goldman  review of  the book It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies, Mary Eberstadt, Harper (\The American Conservative June 10, 2016 ):

On April 27, 1979, Jerry Falwell addressed thousands of conservative Christians from the steps of the Capitol. Asserting that the “vast majority” of Americans were opposed to pornography, abortion, and homosexuality, he announced the establishment of a new organization to promote “pro-family, pro-life, and pro-morality” policies. In a statement before the rally, Falwell explained the motive behind what he called the Moral Majority: “We’ve had enough and we want America cleaned up.”

Times have changed. Formerly confident in their numbers and clout, conservative Christians are now on the defensive. Falwell dreamed of cleaning up America. Nearly two generations later, his heirs are reduced to pleading for exemptions from sweeping anti-discrimination policies. Although popular with voters in some states, these pleas have not survived national scrutiny—even where Republicans hold power. In Indiana, a law that might have allowed bakers and photographers to decline service to gay weddings endured just a few months before it was “fixed” by the legislature. In Georgia, a similar bill was vetoed by the governor under intense pressure from big business.

The cultural transformation has been even more dramatic than the political one. Especially among highly educated people, beliefs that gender has a physiological basis or that procreation is a central purpose of marriage are proceeding from outré to unacceptable. In an ironic reversal, conservative Christians have adopted an idiom of concealment from a minority they once demonized: until recently, it was gays who spoke of being “in the closet.” Now they are joined by followers of traditional orthodoxy.

Mary Eberstadt is horrified by this development. In It’s Dangerous to Believe, she describes religious traditionalists as targets of a distinctly modern brand of intolerance that mirrors the history of religious fanaticism.

To support this interpretation, Eberstadt offers a parade of horribles drawn from around the English-speaking world. The incidents she cites range from the ouster of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla to penalties imposed on teachers who defended Catholic doctrines on sexuality to the withdrawal of recognition from religious clubs at several universities. Eberstadt acknowledges that her examples are “disparate.” But she insists that they add up to a “widespread and growing effort to shame, punish, and ostracize people because of what they believe.”

There is nothing inherently novel about such campaigns, which have occurred with some frequency since the emergence of Biblical religion. What’s different is the issue at stake. This is not a dispute about the nature of God, proper form of worship, or correct rendering of revelation. Instead, “every act committed in the name of this new intolerance has a single, common denominator, which is the protection of the perceived prerogatives of the sexual revolution at all costs. The new intolerance is a wholly owned subsidiary of that revolution. No revolution, no new intolerance.”

Eberstadt offers a compelling analysis of the ideology that developed to justify the sexual revolution. Rather than a libertarian demand to leave people alone, it functions as an ersatz theology with its own its dogmas, theory of history, and canon of saints and martyrs. This parallel structure may be rooted in a process of secularization, as religious concepts were drained of their religious meaning. More likely, it reflects a basic human inclination to form systems, to make sense of the world.

Whatever its source, the internal coherence of moral progressivism explains the bitterness with which it responds to challenges. Critics of the new dispensation aren’t harmless dissenters. They are heretics whose denial of the truth threatens the possibility of a virtuous community.

In this respect, Eberstadt argues, the guardians of the sexual revolution can be understood as successors to the Puritans. Contrary to their reputation in some quarters as defenders of religious liberty, the Puritans were mostly interested in the freedom to do things their way. Error, concluded the divines of New England, had no rights. That is why they were so bitterly opposed to allowing members of other denominations to dwell among them.

When it came to Baptists and Catholics, this suspicion was not altogether irrational. But the Puritans’ fear of subversion did not stop with actual rivals. The logic of their theology turned them against adversaries that did not even exist. The witch trials were no aberration but a consequence of systematic intolerance.

Eberstadt contends that a similar logic is being turned against religious traditionalists today. The Moral Majority posed a plausible challenge to the sexual revolution. Today’s dissenters from the sexual revolution, by contrast, are symbolic sacrifices at the altar of progress. According to Eberstadt, “the notion that the religious counterculture” can enforce its vision of righteousness on a majority is “downright absurd.” In her judgment, it is because they have so little real influence that recalcitrant bakers or photographers have to be publicly shamed by progressives.

Eberstadt’s description of the bewildered faithful, caught up in rapid social change, is deeply affecting. She is an acute critic of the way some Christian institutions have distanced themselves from their own teachings at the expense of low-level employees, who didn’t get the memo about what’s now politically acceptable in time. Eberstadt also discusses shocking incidents in which the mere expression of religious beliefs has led to denial of educational and job opportunities. This is prejudice pure and simple. One hopes liberals and progressives will accept her call to reject it—particularly in institutions of higher learning whose leaders speak ceaselessly of their commitment to diversity.    

Yet many of the cases Eberstadt discusses are more complicated than the Manichean struggle she depicts. More than attacks on unpopular ideas, they are disputes about the discharge of political office or participation in government programs.

Take the hapless Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, Ky. What provoked Davis’s more thoughtful critics was not the refusal in itself. Instead, it was her expectation that she could reject the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges while keeping her job. This was not the conventional understanding of conscientious objection that allows believers to avoid otherwise compulsory duties—most prominently, military service. Instead, it looked like an attempt by a sworn public servant to have it both ways by choosing which responsibilities of her office she was willing to discharge.

After several months of wrangling, the state of Kentucky reached a compromise that removes county clerks’ names from the marriage licenses they issue. This seems a reasonable policy that protects the rights and dignity of all involved. It was necessary, however, because the connection between traditional religious belief and civil authority is not as dead as Eberstadt suggests.

The challenges to the Obamacare contraception mandate recently argued before the Supreme Court also defy Eberstadt’s depiction of a war on traditional belief. Rather than targets of an “ideological power play,” for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and religious institutions like the Little Sisters of the Poor were collateral damage of a massive expansion of the administrative state. The underlying problem here is not the pseudo-theology of the sexual revolution but the cooptation of private enterprises and associations to supply a public benefit.  

Eberstadt is too quick to attribute controversies about the political role of religion to irrational animus on the part of progressives. She also tends to reduce religion to Christianity and Christianity to its more traditionalist currents. This reduction makes it easier to treat religious belief as such as the target of hostility from a monolithic secular consensus.

But the American religious scene is more varied than Eberstadt acknowledges. In addition to the conservative Christians on whom she focuses, many believers have made their peace with the sexual revolution and the world it has made—or at least figured out how to live alongside it. That includes American Jews, including many who hold politically incorrect views on sexuality.

Why do Jews escape the opprobrium to which traditionalist Catholics or Baptists are subjected? Partly because they have never been more than a tiny minority, but also because they make few claims on political and cultural authority. Apart from a few neighborhoods in and around New York City, no one fears that religious Jews will attempt to dictate how they live their own lives. As a result, they are able to avoid most forms of interference with their communities.

There is a lesson here for the Christian traditionalists for whom Eberstadt speaks. They are more likely to win space to live according to their consciences to the extent that they are able to convince a majority that includes more liberal Christians and non-Christian believers, as well as outright secularists, that they are not simply biding their time until they are able to storm the public square. In addition, they will have to develop institutions of community life that are relatively low-visibility and that can survive without many forms of official support. The price of inclusion in an increasingly pluralistic society may be some degree of voluntary exclusion from the dominant culture.    

There is no doubt that this will be a hard bargain for adherents of traditions that enjoyed such immense authority until recently. As Eberstadt points out, however, it will also be difficult for progressives who resemble Falwell in their moral majoritarianism. The basis for coexistence must be a shared understanding that the Christian America for which some long and that others fear isn’t coming back—not only because it was Christian but also because it involved a level of consensus that is no longer available to us. There are opportunities for believers and nonbelievers alike in this absence.

Samuel Goldman is an assistant professor of political science and director of the Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom at George Washington University.

 


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[Aug 17, 2018] The Enigma of Orwellian Donald Trump How Does He Get Away with It So Easily by Prof Rodrigue Tremblay

Notable quotes:
"... With the strong support of these four monolithic lobbies -- his electoral base -- politician Donald Trump can count on the indefectible support of between 35 percent and 40 percent of the American electorate. It is ironic that some of Trump's other policies, like reducing health care coverage and the raising of import taxes, will hurt the poor and the middle class, even though some of Trump's victims can be considered members of the above lobbies. ..."
"... Donald Trump does not seem to take politics and public affairs very seriously, at least when his own personal interests are involved. Therefore, when things go bad, he never volunteers to take personal responsibility, contrary to what a true leader would do, and he conveniently shifts the blame on somebody else. This is a sign of immaturity or cowardice. Paraphrasing President Harry Truman, "the buck never stops at his desk." ..."
"... Donald Trump essentially has the traits of a typical showman diva , behaving in politics just as he did when he was the host of a TV show. Indeed, if one considers politics and public affairs as no more than a reality show, this means that they are really entertainment, and politicians are first and foremost entertainers or comedians. ..."
"... checks and balance ..."
"... Please visit Dr. Tremblay's sites : ..."
"... http://rodriguetremblay100.blogspot.com/ ..."
"... http://rodriguetremblay.blogspot.com/ ..."
Aug 17, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

There are four groups of one-issue voters to whom President Donald Trump has delivered the goodies:

With the strong support of these four monolithic lobbies -- his electoral base -- politician Donald Trump can count on the indefectible support of between 35 percent and 40 percent of the American electorate. It is ironic that some of Trump's other policies, like reducing health care coverage and the raising of import taxes, will hurt the poor and the middle class, even though some of Trump's victims can be considered members of the above lobbies.

Moreover, some of Trump's supporters regularly rely on hypocrisy and on excuses to exonerate their favorite but flawed politician of choice. If any other politician from a different party were to say and do half of what Donald Trump does and says, they would be asking for his impeachment.

There are three other reasons why Trump's rants, his record-breaking lies , his untruths, his deceptions and his dictatorial-style attempts to control information , in the eyes of his fanatical supporters, at least, are like water on the back of a duck. ( -- For the record, according to the Washington Post , as of early August, President Trump has made some 4,229 false claims, which amount to 7.6 a day, since his inauguration.)

  1. The first reason can be found in Trump's view that politics and even government business are first and foremost another form of entertainment , i.e. a sort of TV reality show, which must be scripted and acted upon. Trump thinks that is OK to lie and to ask his assistants to lie . In this new immoral world, the Trump phenomenon could be seen a sign of post-democracy .
  2. The second one can be found in Trump's artful and cunning tactics to unbalance and manipulate the media to increase his visibility to the general public and to turn them into his own tools of propaganda. When Trump attacks the media, he is in fact coaxing them to give him free coverage to spread his insults , his fake accusations, his provocations, his constant threats , his denials or reversals, his convenient changes of subject or his political spins. Indeed, with his outrageous statements, his gratuitous accusations and his attacks ' ad hominem' , and by constantly bullying and insulting adversaries at home and foreign heads of states abroad, and by issuing threats in repetition, right and left, Trump has forced the media to talk and journalists to write about him constantly, on a daily basis, 24/7.

    That suits him perfectly well because he likes to be the center of attention. That is how he can change the political rhetoric when any negative issue gets too close to him. In the coming weeks and months, as the Special prosecutor Robert Mueller's report is likely to be released, Donald Trump is not above resorting to some sort of " Wag the Dog " political trickery, to change the topic and to possibly push the damaging report off the headlines.

    In such a circumstance, it is not impossible that launching an illegal war of choice, say against Iran (a pet project of Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton), could then look very convenient to a crafty politician like Donald Trump and to his warmonger advisors. Therefore, observers should be on the lookout to spot any development of the sort in the coming weeks.

    That one man and his entourage could whimsically consider launching a war of aggression is a throwback to ancient times and is a sure indication of the level of depravity to which current politics has fallen. This should be a justified and clear case for impeachment .

  3. Finally, some far-right media outlets, such as Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting, have taken it upon themselves to systematically present Trump's lies and misrepresentations as some 'alternative' truths and facts.

Indeed, ever since 1987, when the Reagan administration abolished the Fairness Doctrine for licensing public radio and TV waves, and since a Republican dominated Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which allowed for the mass conglomeration of local broadcasting in the United States, extreme conservative news outlets, such as the Fox and Sinclair networks, have sprung up. They are well financed, and they have essentially become powerful political propaganda machines , erasing the line between facts and fiction, and regularly presenting fictitious alternative facts as the truth.

In so doing, they have pushed public debates in the United States away from facts, reason and logic, at least for those listeners and viewers for whom such outlets are the only source of information. It is not surprising that such far-right media have also made Donald Trump the champion of their cause, maliciously branding anything inconvenient as 'fake' news, as Trump has done in his own anti-media campaign and his sustained assault on the free press.

2- Show Politics and public affairs as a form of entertainment

Donald Trump does not seem to take politics and public affairs very seriously, at least when his own personal interests are involved. Therefore, when things go bad, he never volunteers to take personal responsibility, contrary to what a true leader would do, and he conveniently shifts the blame on somebody else. This is a sign of immaturity or cowardice. Paraphrasing President Harry Truman, "the buck never stops at his desk."

Donald Trump essentially has the traits of a typical showman diva , behaving in politics just as he did when he was the host of a TV show. Indeed, if one considers politics and public affairs as no more than a reality show, this means that they are really entertainment, and politicians are first and foremost entertainers or comedians.

3- Trump VS the media and the journalists

Donald Trump is the first U.S. president who rarely holds scheduled press conferences. Why would he, since he considers journalists to be his "enemies"! It doesn't seem to matter to him that freedom of the press is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution by the First Amendment. He prefers to rely on one-directional so-called 'tweets' to express unfiltered personal ideas and emotions (as if he were a private person), and to use them as his main public relations channel of communication.

The ABC News network has calculated that, as of last July, Trump has tweeted more than 3,500 times, slightly more than seven tweets a day. How could he have time left to do anything productive! Coincidently, Donald Trump's number of tweets is not far away from the number of outright lies and misleading claims that he has told and made since his inauguration. The Washington Post has counted no less than 3,251 lies or misleading claims of his, through the end of May of this year, -- an average of 6.5 such misstatements per day of his presidency. Fun fact: Trump seems to accelerate the pace of his lies. Last year, he told 5.5 lies per day, on average. Is it possible to have a more cynical view of politics!

The media in general, (and not only American ones), then serve more or less voluntarily as so many resonance boxes for his daily 'tweets', most of which are often devoid of any thought and logic.

Such a practice has the consequence of demeaning the public discourse in the pursuit of the common good and the general welfare of the people to the level of a frivolous private enterprise, where expertise, research and competence can easily be replaced by improvisation, whimsical arbitrariness and charlatanry. In such a climate, only the short run counts, at the expense of planning for the long run.

Conclusion

All this leads to this conclusion: Trump's approach is not the way to run an efficient government. Notwithstanding the U.S. Constitution and what it says about the need to have " checks and balance s" among different government branches, President Donald Trump has de facto pushed aside the U.S. Congress and the civil servants in important government Departments, even his own Cabinet , whose formal meetings under Trump have been little more than photo-up happenings, to grab the central political stage for himself. If such a development does not represent an ominous threat to American democracy, what does?

The centralization of power in the hands of one man is bound to have serious political consequences, both for the current administration and for future ones.

*

This article was originally published on the author's blog site: rodriguetremblay100.blogspot.com . International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book " The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles ", and of "The New American Empire" .

Please visit Dr. Tremblay's sites :

See also

[Aug 12, 2018] What is Trumpism by Sanjay Reddy

Notable quotes:
"... By Sanjay Reddy, Associate Professor of Economics, The New School for Social Research. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
Aug 12, 2018 | www.ineteconomics.org

... ... ...

Grappling with the shock of Donald Trump's election victory, most analysts focus on his appeal to those in the United States who feel left behind, wish to retrieve a lost social order, and sought to rebuke establishment politicians who do not serve their interests. In this respect, the recent American revolt echoes the shock of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, but it is of far greater significance because it promises to reshape the entire global order, and the complaisant forms of thought that accompanied it.

Ideas played an important role in creating the conditions that produced Brexit and Trump. The 'social sciences' -- especially economics -- legitimated a set of ideas about the economy that were aggressively peddled and became the conventional wisdom in the policies of mainstream political parties, to the extent that the central theme of the age came to be that there was no alternative. The victory of these ideas in politics in turn strengthened the iron-handed enforcers of the same ideas in academic orthodoxy.

It is never clear whether ideas or interests are the prime mover in shaping historical events, but only ideas and interests together can sustain a ruling consensus for a lengthy interval, such as the historic period of financialization and globalization running over the last 35 years. The role of economics in furnishing the now-rebuked narratives that have reigned for decades in mainstream political parties can be seen in three areas.

First, there is globalization as we knew it. Mainstream economics championed corporate-friendly trade and investment agreements to increase prosperity, and provided the intellectual framework for multilateral trade agreements. Economics made the case for such agreements, generally rejecting concerns over labor and environmental standards and giving short shrift to the effects of globalization in weakening the bargaining power of workers or altogether displacing them; to the need for compensatory measures to aid those displaced; and more generally to measures to ensure that the benefits of growth were shared. For the most part, economists casually waved aside such concerns, both in their theories and in their policy recommendations, treating these matters as either insignificant or as being in the jurisdiction of politicians. Still less attention was paid to crafting an alternate form of globalization, or to identifying bases for national economic policies taking a less passive view of comparative advantage and instead aiming to create it.

Second, there is financialization, which led to increasing disconnection between stock market performance and the real economy, with large rewards going to firms that undertook asset stripping, outsourcing, and offshoring. The combination of globalization and financialization produced a new plutocratic class of owners, managers and those who serviced them in global cities, alongside gentrification of those cities, proleterianization and lumpenization of suburbs, and growing insecurity and casualization of employment for the bulk of the middle and working class.

Financialization also led to the near-abandonment of the 'national' industrial economy in favor of global sourcing and sales, and a handsome financial rentier economy built on top of it. Meanwhile, automation trends led to shedding of jobs everywhere, and threaten far more.

All of this was hardly noticed by the discipline charged with studying the economy. Indeed, it actively provided rationales for financialization, in the form of the efficient-markets hypothesis and related ideas; for concentration of capital through mergers and acquisitions in the form of contestable-markets theory; for the gentrification of the city through attacks on rent control and other urban policies; for remaking of labor markets through the idea that unemployment was primarily a reflection of voluntary leisure preferences, etc. The mainstream political parties, including those historically representing the working and middle classes, in thrall to the 'scientific' sheen of market fetishism, gambled that they could redistribute a share of the promised gains and thus embraced policies the effect of which was ultimately to abandon and to antagonize a large section of their electorate.

Third, there is the push for austerity, a recurrent trope of the 'neoliberal' era which, although not favored by all, has played an important role in creating conditions for the rise of popular movements demanding a more expansionary fiscal stance (though they can paradoxically simultaneously disdain taxation, as with Trumpism). The often faulty intellectual case made by many mainstream economists for central bank independence, inflation targeting, debt sustainability thresholds, the distortive character of taxation and the superiority of private provision of services including for health, education and welfare, have helped to support antagonism to governmental activity. Within this perspective, there is limited room for fiscal or even monetary stimulus, or for any direct governmental role in service provision, even in the form of productivity-enhancing investments. It is only the failure fully to overcome the shipwreck of 2008 that has caused some cracks in the edifice.

The dominant economic ideas taken together created a framework in which deviation from declared orthodoxy would be punished by dynamics unleashed by globalization and financialization. The system depended not merely on actors having the specific interests attributed to them, but in believing in the theory that said that they did. [This is one of the reasons that Trumpism has generated confusion among economic actors, even as his victory produced an early bout of stock-market euphoria. It does not rebuke neoliberalism so much as replace it with its own heretical version, bastard neoliberalism, an orientation without a theory, whose tale has yet to be written.]

By Sanjay Reddy, Associate Professor of Economics, The New School for Social Research. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

[Aug 11, 2018] Economics, Trumpism and Migration

Aug 11, 2018 | crookedtimber.org

Still, to the extent that Trumpism has any economic policy content it's the idea that a package of immigration restrictions and corporate tax cuts[1] will make workers better off by reducing competition from migrants and increasing labor demand from corporations. The second part of this claim has been pretty thoroughly demolished, so I want to look mainly at the first. However, as we will see, the corporate tax cuts remain central to the argument.

likbez>, 08.11.18 at 7:52 pm 11

Still, to the extent that Trumpism has any economic policy content it's the idea that a package of immigration restrictions and corporate tax cuts[1] will make workers better off by reducing competition from migrants and increasing labor demand from corporations.

The emergence of Trumpism signifies deepening of the ideological crisis for the neoliberalism. Neoclassical economics fell like a house of cards. IMHO Trumpism can be viewed as a kind of "national neoliberalism" which presuppose rejection of three dogmas of "classic neoliberalism":

1. Rejection of neoliberal globalization including, but not limited to, free movement of labor. Attempt to protect domestic industries via tariff barriers.

2. Rejection of excessive financialization and primacy of financial oligarchy. Restoration of the status of manufacturing, and "traditional capitalists" status in comparison with financial oligarchy.

3. Rejection of austerity. An attempt to fight "secular stagnation" via Military Keysianism.

Trumpism sent "Chicago school" line of thinking to the dustbin of history. It exposed neoliberal economists as agents of financial oligarchy and "Enemy of the American People" (famous Trump phase about neoliberal MSM).

See, for example, a good summary by Sanjay Reddy ( Associate Professor of Economics, The New School for Social Research) at https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/11/trumpism-has-dealt-a-mortal-blow-to-orthodox-economics-and-social-science.html

It is never clear whether ideas or interests are the prime mover in shaping historical events, but only ideas and interests together can sustain a ruling consensus for a lengthy interval, such as the historic period of financialization and globalization running over the last 35 years. The role of economics in furnishing the now-rebuked narratives that have reigned for decades in mainstream political parties can be seen in three areas.

First, there is globalization as we knew it. Mainstream economics championed corporate-friendly trade and investment agreements to increase prosperity, and provided the intellectual framework for multilateral trade agreements. ...

Second, there is financialization, which led to increasing disconnection between stock market performance and the real economy, with large rewards going to firms that undertook asset stripping, outsourcing, and offshoring. The combination of globalization and financialization produced a new plutocratic class of owners, managers and those who serviced them in global cities, alongside gentrification of those cities, proletarianization and lumpenization of suburbs, and growing insecurity and casualization of employment for the bulk of the middle and working class.

Financialization also led to the near-abandonment of the 'national' industrial economy in favor of global sourcing and sales, and a handsome financial rentier economy built on top of it. Meanwhile, automation trends led to shedding of jobs everywhere, and threaten far more.

All of this was hardly noticed by the discipline charged with studying the economy. Indeed, it actively provided rationales for financialization, in the form of the efficient-markets hypothesis and related ideas; for concentration of capital through mergers and acquisitions in the form of contestable-markets theory; for the gentrification of the city through attacks on rent control and other urban policies; for remaking of labor markets through the idea that unemployment was primarily a reflection of voluntary leisure preferences, etc. The mainstream political parties, including those historically representing the working and middle classes, in thrall to the 'scientific' sheen of market fetishism, gambled that they could redistribute a share of the promised gains and thus embraced policies the effect of which was ultimately to abandon and to antagonize a large section of their electorate.

Third, there is the push for austerity, a recurrent trope of the 'neoliberal' era which, although not favored by all, has played an important role in creating conditions for the rise of popular movements demanding a more expansionary fiscal stance (though they can paradoxically simultaneously disdain taxation, as with Trumpism). The often faulty intellectual case made by many mainstream economists for central bank independence, inflation targeting, debt sustainability thresholds, the distortive character of taxation and the superiority of private provision of services including for health, education and welfare, have helped to support antagonism to governmental activity. Within this perspective, there is limited room for fiscal or even monetary stimulus, or for any direct governmental role in service provision, even in the form of productivity-enhancing investments. It is only the failure fully to overcome the shipwreck of 2008 that has caused some cracks in the edifice.

The dominant economic ideas taken together created a framework in which deviation from declared orthodoxy would be punished by dynamics unleashed by globalization and financialization. The system depended not merely on actors having the specific interests attributed to them, but in believing in the theory that said that they did. [This is one of the reasons that Trumpism has generated confusion among economic actors, even as his victory produced an early bout of stock-market euphoria. It does not rebuke neoliberalism so much as replace it with its own heretical version, bastard neoliberalism, an orientation without a theory, whose tale has yet to be written.]

Finally, interpretations of politics were too restrictive, conceptualizing citizens' political choices as based on instrumental and usually economic calculations, while indulging in a wishful account of their actual conditions -- for instance, focusing on low measured unemployment, but ignoring measures of distress and insecurity, or the indignity of living in hollowed-out communities.

Mainstream accounts of politics recognized the role of identities in the form of wooden theories of group mobilization or of demands for representation. However, the psychological and charismatic elements, which can give rise to moments of 'phase transition' in politics, were altogether neglected, and the role of social media and other new methods in politics hardly registered. As new political movements (such as the Tea Party and Trumpism in the U.S.) emerged across the world, these were deemed 'populist' -- both an admission of the analysts' lack of explanation, and a token of disdain. The essential feature of such movements -- the obscurantism that allows them to offer many things to many people, inconsistently and unaccountably, while serving some interests more than others -- was little explored. The failures can be piled one upon the other. No amount of quantitative data provided by polling, 'big data', or other techniques comprehended what might be captured through open-eyed experiential narratives. It is evident that there is a need for forms of understanding that can comprehend the currents within the human person, and go beyond shallow empiricism. Mainstream social science has offered few if any resources to understand, let alone challenge, illiberal majoritarianism, now a world-remaking phenomenon.

[Aug 10, 2018] Dozens of Yemeni Children Killed in Saudi Coalition Airstrike by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Coalition attacks on Yemeni markets are unfortunately all too common. The Saudis and their allies know they can strike civilian targets with impunity because the Western governments that arm and support them never call them out for what they do. ..."
Aug 09, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
There was another Saudi coalition airstrike on a crowded market in northern Yemen today. Dozens of civilians have been killed and dozens more injured. Many of the dead and injured were children whose school bus was hit in the attack:

Coalition attacks on Yemeni markets are unfortunately all too common. The Saudis and their allies know they can strike civilian targets with impunity because the Western governments that arm and support them never call them out for what they do. The U.S. continues to arm and refuel coalition planes despite ample evidence that the coalition has been deliberately attacking civilian targets. At the very least, the coalition hits civilian targets with such regularity that they are ignoring whatever procedures they are supposed to be following to prevent that. The weapons that the U.S., Britain, and other arms suppliers provide them are being used to slaughter wedding-goers, hospital patients, and schoolchildren, and U.S. refueling of coalition planes allows them to carry out more of these attacks than they otherwise could. Today's attack ranks as one of the worst.

Saada has come under some of the most intense attacks from the coalition bombing campaign. The coalition illegally declared the entire area a military target three years ago, and ever since they have been blowing up homes , markets , schools , water treatment systems, and hospitals without any regard for the innocent civilians that are killed and injured.

The official U.S. line on support for the war is that even more civilians would be killed if the U.S. weren't supporting the coalition. Our government has never provided any evidence to support this, and the record shows that civilian casualties from Saudi coalition airstrikes have increased over the last year. The Saudis and their allies either don't listen to any of the advice they're receiving, or they know they won't pay any price for ignoring it. As long as the U.S. arms and refuels coalition planes while they slaughter Yemeni civilians in attacks like this one, our government is implicated in the war crimes enabled by our unstinting military assistance. Congress can and must halt that assistance immediately.

Update: CNN reports on the aftermath of the airstrike:

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said that a hospital it supports in Saada had received 29 dead bodies of "mainly children" under 15 years of age, and 40 injured, including 30 children.

"(The hospital) is very busy. They've been receiving wounded and dead since the morning and it is non-stop ," ICRC head of communications and spokesperson Mirella Hodeib told CNN.

Second Update: The Associated Press reports that the death toll stands at 43 with another 63 injured.

Third Update: The death toll has reportedly risen to 50 . 77 were injured.


an older america weeps August 9, 2018 at 11:30 am

School buses?

Good Lord above. School buses.

Of course I have no right to surprise or shock. They've already targeted hospitals, foreign doctors and nurses, first responders, wedding parties, and funerals.

School buses.

We used to make movies about killing people who do things like this. Now we help them do it.

Daniel O'Connor , says: August 9, 2018 at 12:54 pm
The repetitive frequency and intensity of these attacks on hospitals, schools, markets and other civilian gatherings, coupled with the indifference of the guilty national governments and their international enablers, signals that the world and human species is passing through a mass psychosis. This psychosis is playing itself out at all levels. Fascism, which is very current as a national psychology, is generally speaking, a coping strategy for dealing with nasty chaos. This coping strategy is designed around generating even more chaos, since that is a familiar and therefore more comfortable pattern of behavior; and that does provide a delusion of stability. A good example would be the sanctions just declared by the Trump Administration on Iranian commerce. In an intrinsically connected global market, these sanctions are so thorough that they qualify as a blockade, within a contingency plan for greater global conflict. But those who destroy hospitals, schools, school buses and public celebrations are not, otherwise, forward looking nice people. We are descending into a nasty fascist war psychosis. Just shake it. Live. Long and well.
b. , says: August 9, 2018 at 2:18 pm
"even more civilians would be killed if the U.S. weren't supporting the coalition"

If we did not hand them satellite images, did not service, repair and refuel their planes, and did not sell them the bombs, then they would . kill more civilians how? They could not even reach their targets, let alone drop explosives they do not have.

What Would Mohammad Do? Buy bombs from the Russians? Who have better quality control and fewer duds, hence more victims?

What Would Mohammad Do? Get the UAE to hire Blackwater to poison the wells across Yemen?

How exactly do the profiteers in our country, that get counted out blood money for every single Yemeni killed, propose that the Saudis and Emiratis would make this worse?

But, good to know that our "smart" and "precise" munitions can still hit a school bus. Made In America!

Great.

Hunter C , says: August 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm
The coverage in the media has been predictably cowardly and contemptible in the aftermath of this story. I read articles from CNN and MSNBC and they were variations on "school bus bombed", in the passive tense – with no mention of who did it or who is supporting them in the headline, ad if the bombings were natural disasters.

Fox, predictably, was even worse and led with "Biblical relics endangered by war", which speaks volumes about the presumed priorities of their viewership.

This, and not anything to do with red meat domestic politics, is the worst media malpractice of our time. "Stop directly helping the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks drop bombs on school children" should be the absolute easiest possible moral issue for our media to take a stand on and yet they treat it like it's radioactive.

Speaking as someone who considers themselves a liberal I am infuriated by the Democrats response. How can the party leadership not see that if they keep flogging the horse of Russian trolls and shrugging their shoulders over American given (not sold – *given*) bombs being dropped on schools and hospitals, no one is ever going to take the supposed Democratic anti-war platform seriously again. The Republicans can afford to be tarde by association with these atrocities. The Democrats can't.

I wonder how many Democrats are in the same boat as me right now: I may not like Trump or the Christian conservatives but fights over the Supreme Court or coal plants or a healthcare law look terribly petty compared to the apparent decision by Saudi Arabia to kill literally millions. For the first time in my life I'm seriously wishing there was a third-party candidate I could support and the congressional elections just so I could send a message on this.

Erik , says: August 9, 2018 at 10:13 pm
@Hunter C
Vote Libertarian Party. You won't agree with a lot of their domestic agenda, but they're not going to win, so it doesn't matter. The noninterventionist foreign policy is your message.

[Aug 08, 2018] America the Unexceptional by William S. Smith

Notable quotes:
"... National Review ..."
Aug 08, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

In the wake of President Trump's Helsinki press conference, National Review declared itself "Against Moral Equivalence." The magazine claimed that there could be no equating American meddling in foreign elections with Russian interference in our election because the goal of the U.S. is to "promote democracy and political liberty and human rights." Though while America's actions might be noble and have the sanction of heaven, National Review did concede that its efforts to promote democracy have often been "messy" -- an adjective that the people of Iraq might find understated.

Like many of Trump's critics, National Review 's embrace of American exceptionalism, of exempting the United States from the moral laws of the universe because of its commitment to democracy, is of a type the West has seen before. Swept up in their revolutionary enthusiasm, the French Jacobins made similar claims. In late 1791, a member of the Assembly, while agitating for war with Austria, declared that France "had become the foremost people of the universe, so their conduct must now correspond to their new destiny. As slaves they were bold and great; are they to be timid and feeble now that they are free?"

Robespierre himself was taken aback by the turn of a domestic revolution into a call for military adventurism. Of plans to invade Austria and to overthrow "enemies" of liberty in other nations, he famously remarked, "No one loves armed missionaries." (Robespierre's advice might have also benefited the American occupiers of Iraq.) The Jacobins' moral preening led France to declare war on Austria in 1792 and set in motion years of French military adventurism that devastated much of central Europe. Military imperialism abroad and guillotines at home became the legacy of self-declared French exceptionalism.

Hubristic nations that claim a unique place for themselves high atop the moral universe tend to be imperialistic. This is because claims of national exceptionalism, whether of the French or American variety, are antinomian, even nihilistic. The "exceptional" ones carve out for themselves an exemption from the moral law. And prideful claims of moral purity are the inevitable predicate to imposing one's will upon another. Once leaders assert that their national soul is of a special kind -- indispensable and not subject to the same rules -- the road to hell has been paved.

The Immorality of American Exceptionalism A Jacobin-in-Chief

While supporters of American exceptionalism are careful to claim the mantle of Western civilization, their philosophical orientation in fact amounts to a repudiation of the central principles of the West and the Constitution.

Arguably, the tradition of the Judeo-Christian West has been special because it has asserted that human nature is not particularly special. And the Constitution has been exceptional because it's warned Americans that we are not particularly exceptional.

For example, the legacy of Pauline Christianity, Irving Babbitt tells us, is "the haunting sense of sin and the stress it lays upon the struggle between the higher and lower self, between the law of the flesh and the law of the spirit." No person or nation is above this moral challenge. The uniquely American repudiation of exceptionalism shines brightly in The Federalist , where no angels can be found among men, and, because no one's behavior enjoys the sanction of heaven, extensive checks are placed upon people's ability to impose their wills upon others. The foreign policy that flowed out of the worldview of the Framers was that of George Washington, a strong recommendation against hubris and foreign meddling.

These historical and cultural warnings about human nature have since been swept away by acolytes of American exceptionalism. Our moral superiority, they claim, makes us Masters of the Universe, not careful and mindful custodians of our own fallen nature. We have been put on earth to judge other nations, not to be judged. Tossing the legacy of the Framers onto the ash heap of history, George W. Bush declared in his Second Inaugural Address that our exceptionalism creates an obligation to promote democracy "in every nation and culture." In this endeavor, Bush pronounced, the United States enjoys the sanction of heaven, as "history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the author of liberty." Bush's Second Inaugural was probably better in the original French.

Now, the puffed-up American establishment, many of whom supported the bloody Iraq war, drip with moral condescension as they brand Vladimir Putin an existential outlaw and the enemy of democracy, foreclosing the possibility of common ground with Russia on nuclear weapons, China, terrorism, and other issues that matter to the national security of the United States. That Washington has meddled in countless nations' affairs from Iraq to Russia -- and caused untold damage -- is of no account to the establishment. Rules do not apply to democracy promoters.

After the Iraq war, we should have reconsidered our hubristic American exceptionalism. One can take pride in the American tradition without laying claim to a uniquely beautiful national soul that is exempt from the laws of nature and of nature's God. The hysterical reaction to Trump's truthful admission that the United States too has made mistakes in its relationship with Russia is a sign that American exceptionalism is still in full flower among elites. Without the return of a certain humility, there will be more military adventures abroad and political strife at home.

William S. Smith is research fellow and managing director at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at The Catholic University of America. 11 Responses to America the Unexceptional



Nelson August 7, 2018 at 11:32 pm

I agree with the sentiment but the facts show we've always been this way. Historically speaking our hubris didn't start with George W. Bush. We had quite the exceptionalist spirt with "Manifest Destiny" back in the 19th century. And indeed it took a bit of hubris to declare independence from Britain.
charles cosimano , , August 8, 2018 at 2:44 am
All great powers are exempt from any moral law, not merely because it does not exist, but because even if it did, who could enforce it?
paradoctor , , August 8, 2018 at 2:44 am
Exceptionalism is the sin of pride.
Wayne Lusvardi , , August 8, 2018 at 2:58 am
Dr. Smith wrote his PhD dissertation in political philosophy on a critique of romanticism in political thinking. However, in the above article he somehow believes America is unexceptional for having exempted itself from God's laws and natural law. But what if American policy makers acted out of political necessity and realism, not "hubris" or un-humility? I might agree with Smith about using "democracy building" as a pretense for military intervention. But does Smith take what US presidents and congressmen say at face value? What if US intervention in Iraq had to do with trying to balance power between Iraq and Iran, or stop Islamic expansionism from pushing into Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states? Moralism can be just as dangerous as democracy building in foreign affairs.
polistra , , August 8, 2018 at 3:21 am
We did renounce exceptionalism and imperialism after WW1. Wilson's pet agencies faded out and we focused internally. We remained non-interventionist until 1946 when the Wilsonians snatched power again.

We should figure out why and how the bureaucracy and media gave up Empire in the early '20s. Obviously the people were tired, just as they are now, but the people are irrelevant.

Something changed in the power structure. What was it? Can we help it to happen again?

Robert , , August 8, 2018 at 4:19 am
A very fine article, one of the best that TAC has published.
Andrew , , August 8, 2018 at 6:07 am
The writer in question of the referenced piece at National Review, Jimmy Quinn, is a 20something college intern, proving they aren't even interested in hiring newer young conservatives at NRO who don't just mindlessly repeat the neoconservative line on "American exceptionalism". They are long past their days as a serious magazine. If not by ideology, just by having a more interesting collection of writers, I'd say even the Weekly Standard is now a better magazine than National Review. It's become like the boring Pravda rulebook for Official Conservatism™ in America.
TomG , , August 8, 2018 at 8:29 am
Well done, Mr. Smith. Our hubris blinds this nation to the pain it inflicts in other lands. I reflect again and again on these words from the hymn (tune Finlandia):

This is my song, oh God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
This is my song, thou God of all the nations;
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

When nations rage, and fears erupt coercive,
The drumbeats sound, invoking pious cause.
My neighbors rise, their stalwart hearts they offer,
The gavels drop, suspending rights and laws.
While others wield their swords with blind devotion;
For peace I'll stand, my true and steadfast cause.

We would be one as now we join in singing,
Our hymn of love, to pledge ourselves anew.
To that high cause of greater understanding
Of who we are, and what in us is true.
We would be one in loving and forgiving,
with hopes and dreams as true and high as thine.

Roberto , , August 8, 2018 at 9:29 am
C'mon people, it's right to separate yourselves from the bombast and violent meddling we've done all over the world, but let's not get carried away with this ridiculous "we're just like any other bully" mentality.

The exceptionalism is in the elevation of individual human freedom as a foundational principle. We declared it, the French declared it, and it remains a beacon for many others, no matter how poorly we've observed it from time to time.

"Military imperialism abroad and guillotines at home became the legacy of self-declared French exceptionalism." No, that was the paroxysm of revolution, one that the U,S. fortunately avoided.
The real legacy was the sweeping away of monarchy across the continent, despite the irony of Napoleon making himself emperor.

For all our imperialism, did we treat western Europe the same as Stalin treated eastern Europe?
Is it just an accident of history that the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, former British colonies all, lead the world in the protection of individual human rights? You can draw a line, crooked though it may be, from those countries right back to the Magna Carta.

Yes, we had slavery, a legacy of our status as an agricultural colony, but the British, French, and Americans all abolished it because it couldn't square with our declared principles.

We may forget why we are exceptional but our immigration pressure shows that the the rest of the world hasn't.

JonF , , August 8, 2018 at 9:38 am
Re: The Jacobins' moral preening led France to declare war on Austria in 1792

It wasn't just the Jacobins: pretty much everyone wanted war. The royalists hoped that foreign intervention would restore Louis XVI as an absolute monarch. The moderates wanted to consolidate the gains of the Revolution and deflect public anger at its economic failings. The radicals, as noted, looked to evangelize Europe with the Rights of Man. And the foreign powers wanted to crush the Revolution lest its ideals take root in their own country -- and help themselves to this or that bit of France's empire.

john35 , , August 8, 2018 at 9:40 am
Thanks for reading "National Review" to bring us this hilarious declaration.

[Aug 08, 2018] The Empire-Lovers Strike Back Trump, Putin and the Post-Helsinki Uproar by Richard Rubenstein

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
"... National Review ..."
"... Resolving Structural Conflicts ..."
"... How Violent Systems Can Be Transformed ..."
Aug 03, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

Why, then, would a coalition of leftish and right-wing patriots not join in denouncing a leader who seemed to put Russia's interests ahead of those of his own country? Sorry to say, things are not so simple. Look a bit more closely at what holds the anti-Trump foreign policy coalition together, and you will discover a missing reality that virtually no one will acknowledge directly: the existence of a beleaguered but still potent American Empire whose junior partner is Europe. What motivates a broad range of the President's opponents, then, is not so much the fear that he is anti-American as the suspicion that he is anti-Empire.

Of course, neither liberals nor conservatives dare to utter the "E-word." Rather, they argue in virtually identical terms that Trump's foreign and trade policies are threatening the pillars of world order: NATO, the Group of Seven, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the OSCE, and so forth. These institutions, they claim, along with American military power and a willingness to use it when necessary, are primarily responsible for the peaceful, prosperous, free, and democratic world that we have all been privileged to inhabit since the Axis powers surrendered to the victorious Allies in 1945.

The fear expressed plainly by The New York Times 's David Leonhardt, a self-described "left-liberal," is that "Trump wants to destroy the Atlantic Alliance." Seven months earlier, this same fear motivated the arch-conservative National Review to editorialize that, "Under Trump, America has retreated from its global and moral leadership roles, alienated its democratic allies, and abandoned the bipartisan defense of liberal ideals that led to more than 70 years of security and prosperity." All the critics would agree with Wolfgang Ischinger, chair of the Munich Security Conference, who recently stated, "Let's face it. Mr. Trump's core beliefs conflict with the foundations of Western grand strategy since the mid-1940's."

"Western grand strategy," of course, is a euphemism for U.S. global hegemony – world domination, to put it plainly. In addition to peace and prosperity (mainly for privileged groups in privileged nations), this is the same strategy which since 1945 has given the world the Cold War, the specter of a nuclear holocaust, and proxy wars consuming between 10 and 20 million lives in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. Its direct effects include the overthrow of elected governments in Guatemala, Iran, Lebanon, Congo, Nigeria, Indonesia, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Granada, Ukraine, et al.; the bribery of public officials and impoverishment and injury of workers and farmers world-wide as a result of exploitation and predatory "development" by Western governments and mega-corporations; the destruction of natural environments and exacerbation of global climate change by these same governments and corporations; and the increasing likelihood of new imperialist wars caused by the determination of elites to maintain America's global supremacy at all costs.

It is interesting that most defenders of the Western Alliance (and its Pacific equivalent: the more loosely organized anti-Chinese alliance of Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and South Korea) virtually never talk about American hegemony or the gigantic military apparatus (with more than 800 U.S. bases in 60 or so nations and a military-industrial complex worth trillions) that supports it. Nor is the subject of empire high on Mr. Trump's list of approved twitter topics, even when he desecrates NATO and other sacred cows of the Alliance. There are several reasons for this silence, but the most important, perhaps, is the need to maintain the pretense of American moral superiority: the so-called "exceptionalist" position that inspires McCain to attack Trump for "false equivalency" (the President's statement in Helsinki that both Russia and the U.S. have made mistakes), and that leads pundits left and right to argue that America is not an old-style empire seeking to dominate, but a new-style democracy seeking to liberate.

The narrative you will hear repeated ad nauseum at both ends of the liberal/conservative spectrum tells how the Yanks, who won WW II with a little help from the Russians and other allies, and who then thoroughly dominated the world both economically and militarily, could have behaved like vengeful conquerors, but instead devoted their resources and energies to spreading democracy, freedom, and the blessings of capitalism around the world. Gag me with a Tomahawk cruise missile! What is weird about this narrative is that it "disappears" not only the millions of victims of America's wars but the very military forces that nationalists like Trump claim deserve to be worshipfully honored. Eight hundred bases? A million and a half troops on active duty? Total air and sea domination? I'm shocked . . . shocked!

In fact, there are two sorts of blindness operative in the current U.S. political environment. The Democratic Party Establishment, now swollen to include a wide variety of Russia-haters, globalizing capitalists, and militarists, is blind (or pretends to be) to the connection between the "Western Alliance" and the American Empire. The Trump Party (which I expect, one of these days, to shed the outworn Republican label in favor of something more Berlusconi-like, say, the American Greatness Party) is blind – or pretends to be – to the contradiction between its professed
"Fortress America" nationalism and the reality of a global U.S. imperium.

This last point is worth emphasizing. In a recent article in The Nation , Michael Klare, a writer I generally admire, claims to have discovered that there is really a method to Trump's foreign policy madness, i.e., the President favors the sort of "multi-polar" world, with Russia and China occupying the two other poles, that Putin and Xi Jinping have long advocated. Two factors make this article odd as well as interesting. First, the author argues that multi-polarity is a bad idea, because "smaller, weaker states, and minority peoples everywhere will be given even shorter shrift than at present when caught in any competitive jousting for influence among the three main competitors (and their proxies)." Wha? Even shorter shrift than under unipolarity? I think not, especially considering that adding new poles (why just three, BTW? What about India and Brazil?) gives smaller states and minority peoples many more bargaining options in the power game.

More important, however, Trump's multi-polar/nationalist ideals are clearly contradicted by his determination to make American world domination even more overwhelming by vastly increasing the size of the U.S. military establishment. Klare notes, correctly, that the President has denounced the Iraq War, criticized American "overextension" abroad, talked about ending the Afghan War, and declared that the U.S. should not be "the world's policeman." But if he wants America to become a mere Great Power in a world of Great Powers, Trump will clearly have to do more than talk about it. He will have to cut the military budget, abandon military bases, negotiate arms control agreements, convert military-industrial spending to peaceful uses, and do all sorts of other things he clearly has no intention of doing. Ever.

No – if the Western Alliance, democratic values, and WTO trade rules provide ideological cover and junior partners for American global hegemony, "go-it-alone" nationalism, multi-polarity, and Nobel Peace Prize diplomatic efforts provide ideological cover for . . . American global hegemony! This can be seen most clearly in the case of Iran, against whom Trump has virtually declared war. He would like to avoid direct military involvement there, of course, but he is banking on threats of irresistible "fire and fury" to bring the Iranians to heel. And if these threats are unavailing? Then – count on it! – the Empire will act like an empire, and we will have open war.

In fact, Trump and his most vociferous critics and supporters are unknowingly playing the same game. John Brennan, meet Steve Bannon! You preach very different sermons, but you're working for the same god. That deity's name changes over the centuries, but we worship him every time we venerate symbols of military might at sports events, pay taxes to support U.S. military supremacy, or pledge allegiance to a flag. The name unutterable by both Trump and his enemies is Empire.

What do we do with the knowledge that both the Tweeter King and the treason-baiting coalition opposing him are imperialists under the skin? Two positions, I think, have to be rejected. One is the Lyndon Johnson rationale: since Johnson was progressive on domestic issues, including civil rights and poverty, that made him preferable to the Republicans, even though he gave us the quasi-genocidal war in Indochina. The other position is the diametric opposite: since Trump is less blatantly imperialistic than most Democratic Party leaders, we ought to favor him, despite his billionaire-loving, immigrant-hating, racist and misogynist domestic policies. Merely to say this is to refute it.

My own view is that anti-imperialists ought to decline to choose between these alternatives. We ought to name the imperial god that both Trump and his critics worship and demand that the party that we work and vote for renounce the pursuit of U.S. global hegemony. Immediately, this means letting self-proclaimed progressives or libertarians in both major parties know that avoiding new hot and cold wars, eliminating nuclear weapons and other WMD, slashing military spending, and converting war production to peaceful uses are top priorities that must be honored if they are to get our support. No political party can deliver peace and social justice and maintain the Empire at the same time. If neither Republicans nor Democrats are capable of facing this reality, we will have to create a new party that can.

Notes.

[1] The author is University Professor of Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs at George Mason University. His most recent book is Resolving Structural Conflicts : How Violent Systems Can Be Transformed (2017).

[Aug 07, 2018] Iranians Not Pining for American Intervention The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Akhilesh "Akhi" Pillalamarri is a fellow at Defense Priorities. An international relations analyst, editor, and writer, he studied international security at Georgetown University. Find him on Twitter ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Iranians: Not Pining for American Intervention Some seem to think they can't wait for us to overthrow their government. Nothing could be further from the truth. By Akhilesh Pillalamarri August 6, 2018

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Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock Defense hawks in Washington think the people of Iran are waiting with bated breath for the regime in Tehran to collapse and wouldn't mind a little American help along the way -- whether through direct military intervention, or "naturally" as the result of grassroots protests , "with Washington backing," of course.

There is no greater fallacy. While the people of Iran are undoubtedly frustrated with their government, they are not on the cusp of changing it, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seems to believe . In fact, any attempt by outside actors to change the regime would cause the people of Iran to unify around the clerics. We would end up deflating the reformist party and enabling the hardliners who have consistently warned their people that we can't be trusted.

This ongoing mind reading of the Iranian people is pure Washington hokum with no basis in reality.

After witnessing the debacles of our interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, who can blame the people of Iran for not wanting direct American military aid? As Damon Linker points out in The Week , our attitude towards unsavory regimes in other nations is all too often informed by "an incorrigible optimism about the benefits of change and consequent refusal to entertain the possibility that a bad situation might be made even worse by overturning it."

Trump Will Never Get a Better Deal With Iran Is Washington Playing Iran's Useful Idiot in Syria?

Almost nobody in Iran supports the main group pushing for Western-backed regime change, the National Council for the Resistance of Iran (NCRI). That organization is widely seen as a front for the despised Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MeK), an Iranian Marxist group that fought against the late Shah, was virulently anti-American, and worked with Saddam Hussein to invade Iran during the Iran-Iraq War before rebranding itself as a democratic opposition group.

Despite this being common knowledge among unbiased observers, figures like National Security Advisor John Bolton continue to promote it as an alternative for Iran.

In actuality, despite the desire among a sizable segment of Iranians -- especially young people in Tehran and other large cities -- for a pro-Western government, there is no well-organized, secular, democratic alternative waiting to take charge. Any organization that bills itself as such is following in the deceitful footsteps of Ahmed Chalabi , the Iraqi leader-in-exile who sold himself in the United States as the Iraqi George Washington, but failed to garner any political support after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

History shows us that there is no quicker way for a leader or group to lose legitimacy than by seeking the aid of a foreign power. King Louis XVI of France managed to hold on to his throne for a few years after the storming of the Bastille, but was deposed after fleeing Paris and seeking the aid of France's enemies. Iranians, like Americans, value liberty in the sense of national self-determination: they would rather be under-served by their own leaders than by well-meaning foreigners or those perceived to be puppets.

After wasting almost two decades of blood and treasure trying to rebuild countries with weaker national identities than Iran -- like Iraq -- U.S. policymakers would have to be detached from reality to believe that anything good could come of intervention in Iranian affairs.

The people of Iran have a long historical memory: those who sold out their nation to foreign powers, even in opposition to tyranny, have garnered not thanks but the collective hatred of the Iranian people. From the actions of the satrap Bessus who killed the last Achaemenid Persian king Darius III to curry favor with Alexander the Great, to the slaying of the last pre-Islamic Persian ruler Yazdegerd III by a local ruler to appease the invading Arabs, Iranians have long looked askance at collaboration with foreigners. Numerous 19th-century Qajar rulers failed to implement their policies because they were thought to be too close to the goals of the imperial powers of Russia or Britain. And the last Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, never escaped the perception that his ascent to power in 1953 was enabled by British and American intelligence agencies, regardless of his own self-portrayal as a nationalist.

Most Iranians, no matter how much they oppose their current government and politics, would not support an invasion of their own country, let alone the peaceful ascendancy of groups believed to serve interests other than theirs: it is a matter of pride and honor.

It is true that Iran has been racked by protests throughout the past year, such as January's multi-city demonstrations and the closure of the Grand Bazaar in Tehran in June. But those were spontaneous actions resulting from blue-collar frustrations with the economy and are unlikely to lead to an outcome favorable to American interests.

If our pressure on Iran leads to regime change, the most likely alternative is probably a military junta led by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a shift away from the semi-civilian government that Iran now enjoys. The IRGC has been infringing on our geopolitical interests throughout the Middle East for decades and could take an even harder anti-American line than the current government. When confronted with invaders and foreign pressure, Iranians have always rallied around military strongmen, such as Nader Shah in the early 18th century, who threw out the invading Afghans, and Reza Shah in the early 20th century, who saved Iran from disintegration after World War I.

Washington should be careful what it wishes for. We should not delude ourselves into thinking that the people of Iran are waiting for our support and intervention. The truth is much darker.

Akhilesh "Akhi" Pillalamarri is a fellow at Defense Priorities. An international relations analyst, editor, and writer, he studied international security at Georgetown University. Find him on Twitter @akhipill .


Christian Chuba August 6, 2018 at 1:47 pm

The people of Iran instinctively love America because everyone in the world loves America.

This is true regardless of the fact that we have never done anything whatsoever to merit their love. We have never given them assistance when they had an earthquake, we won't let them get spare parts for passenger airlines causing air travel to be unsafe. We hinder civilian projects but since we are narcissists, we simply believe that everyone loves us because of our intrinsically great qualities.

Clyde Schechter , says: August 6, 2018 at 1:51 pm
Really, what if the shoe were on the other foot? Trump is very unpopular as our own President. But if a foreign power were to attempt to depose him and install a new government, there would be massive popular resistance to that here. Why the neocons think it would be different in any other country eludes me.

Nothing can unite even a fractiously divided nation more readily than foreign interference.

HenionJD , says: August 6, 2018 at 2:10 pm
>>But if a foreign power were to attempt to depose him and install a new government, there would be massive popular resistance to that here.((

A foreign power attempted to put him IN office and lots of folks are just fine with that.

b. , says: August 6, 2018 at 2:17 pm
US policy since Libya and Syria has been "regime destruction", with not even token commitments to pretend "nation building". The miscalculation continues: if the US manages to turn Iran into a "failed to comply" state without effective governance, there will be several factions with professional military capabilities – especially given the IRGC "deterrent" of connections and alliances throughout the Middle East – that can continue where our pathological US "maglinity" plans to stop.

There are no "wars of choice". The only choice the US gets is whether to start an unnecessary war, from then on our victims get a say, eventually. We are still trapped in Eisenhower's grandstanding "meddling" in Iranian elections, after all .

Sid Finster , says: August 6, 2018 at 3:27 pm
O please!

Everyone knows that Iranians are not begging for "liberation", just as everyone with the brains God gave my youngest cat knew damn well that American boots would not transform Iraq into a western democracy, that American bombs would ruin Libya and American bombs are used for genocide in Yemen.

The Trump Administration is looking for an excuse to attack. Just as the Bush Administration shed crocodile tears over the poor Iraqis, and Obama cynically exploited the fate of Libyans.

[Aug 05, 2018] The Empire-Lovers Strike Back Trump, Putin and the Post-Helsinki Uproar

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
"... National Review ..."
"... Resolving Structural Conflicts ..."
"... How Violent Systems Can Be Transformed ..."
Aug 05, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

Why, then, would a coalition of leftish and right-wing patriots not join in denouncing a leader who seemed to put Russia's interests ahead of those of his own country? Sorry to say, things are not so simple. Look a bit more closely at what holds the anti-Trump foreign policy coalition together, and you will discover a missing reality that virtually no one will acknowledge directly: the existence of a beleaguered but still potent American Empire whose junior partner is Europe. What motivates a broad range of the President's opponents, then, is not so much the fear that he is anti-American as the suspicion that he is anti-Empire.

Of course, neither liberals nor conservatives dare to utter the "E-word." Rather, they argue in virtually identical terms that Trump's foreign and trade policies are threatening the pillars of world order: NATO, the Group of Seven, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the OSCE, and so forth. These institutions, they claim, along with American military power and a willingness to use it when necessary, are primarily responsible for the peaceful, prosperous, free, and democratic world that we have all been privileged to inhabit since the Axis powers surrendered to the victorious Allies in 1945.

The fear expressed plainly by The New York Times 's David Leonhardt, a self-described "left-liberal," is that "Trump wants to destroy the Atlantic Alliance." Seven months earlier, this same fear motivated the arch-conservative National Review to editorialize that, "Under Trump, America has retreated from its global and moral leadership roles, alienated its democratic allies, and abandoned the bipartisan defense of liberal ideals that led to more than 70 years of security and prosperity." All the critics would agree with Wolfgang Ischinger, chair of the Munich Security Conference, who recently stated, "Let's face it. Mr. Trump's core beliefs conflict with the foundations of Western grand strategy since the mid-1940's."

"Western grand strategy," of course, is a euphemism for U.S. global hegemony – world domination, to put it plainly. In addition to peace and prosperity (mainly for privileged groups in privileged nations), this is the same strategy which since 1945 has given the world the Cold War, the specter of a nuclear holocaust, and proxy wars consuming between 10 and 20 million lives in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. Its direct effects include the overthrow of elected governments in Guatemala, Iran, Lebanon, Congo, Nigeria, Indonesia, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Granada, Ukraine, et al.; the bribery of public officials and impoverishment and injury of workers and farmers world-wide as a result of exploitation and predatory "development" by Western governments and mega-corporations; the destruction of natural environments and exacerbation of global climate change by these same governments and corporations; and the increasing likelihood of new imperialist wars caused by the determination of elites to maintain America's global supremacy at all costs.

It is interesting that most defenders of the Western Alliance (and its Pacific equivalent: the more loosely organized anti-Chinese alliance of Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and South Korea) virtually never talk about American hegemony or the gigantic military apparatus (with more than 800 U.S. bases in 60 or so nations and a military-industrial complex worth trillions) that supports it. Nor is the subject of empire high on Mr. Trump's list of approved twitter topics, even when he desecrates NATO and other sacred cows of the Alliance. There are several reasons for this silence, but the most important, perhaps, is the need to maintain the pretense of American moral superiority: the so-called "exceptionalist" position that inspires McCain to attack Trump for "false equivalency" (the President's statement in Helsinki that both Russia and the U.S. have made mistakes), and that leads pundits left and right to argue that America is not an old-style empire seeking to dominate, but a new-style democracy seeking to liberate.

The narrative you will hear repeated ad nauseum at both ends of the liberal/conservative spectrum tells how the Yanks, who won WW II with a little help from the Russians and other allies, and who then thoroughly dominated the world both economically and militarily, could have behaved like vengeful conquerors, but instead devoted their resources and energies to spreading democracy, freedom, and the blessings of capitalism around the world. Gag me with a Tomahawk cruise missile! What is weird about this narrative is that it "disappears" not only the millions of victims of America's wars but the very military forces that nationalists like Trump claim deserve to be worshipfully honored. Eight hundred bases? A million and a half troops on active duty? Total air and sea domination? I'm shocked . . . shocked!

In fact, there are two sorts of blindness operative in the current U.S. political environment. The Democratic Party Establishment, now swollen to include a wide variety of Russia-haters, globalizing capitalists, and militarists, is blind (or pretends to be) to the connection between the "Western Alliance" and the American Empire. The Trump Party (which I expect, one of these days, to shed the outworn Republican label in favor of something more Berlusconi-like, say, the American Greatness Party) is blind – or pretends to be – to the contradiction between its professed
"Fortress America" nationalism and the reality of a global U.S. imperium.

This last point is worth emphasizing. In a recent article in The Nation , Michael Klare, a writer I generally admire, claims to have discovered that there is really a method to Trump's foreign policy madness, i.e., the President favors the sort of "multi-polar" world, with Russia and China occupying the two other poles, that Putin and Xi Jinping have long advocated. Two factors make this article odd as well as interesting. First, the author argues that multi-polarity is a bad idea, because "smaller, weaker states, and minority peoples everywhere will be given even shorter shrift than at present when caught in any competitive jousting for influence among the three main competitors (and their proxies)." Wha? Even shorter shrift than under unipolarity? I think not, especially considering that adding new poles (why just three, BTW? What about India and Brazil?) gives smaller states and minority peoples many more bargaining options in the power game.

More important, however, Trump's multi-polar/nationalist ideals are clearly contradicted by his determination to make American world domination even more overwhelming by vastly increasing the size of the U.S. military establishment. Klare notes, correctly, that the President has denounced the Iraq War, criticized American "overextension" abroad, talked about ending the Afghan War, and declared that the U.S. should not be "the world's policeman." But if he wants America to become a mere Great Power in a world of Great Powers, Trump will clearly have to do more than talk about it. He will have to cut the military budget, abandon military bases, negotiate arms control agreements, convert military-industrial spending to peaceful uses, and do all sorts of other things he clearly has no intention of doing. Ever.

No – if the Western Alliance, democratic values, and WTO trade rules provide ideological cover and junior partners for American global hegemony, "go-it-alone" nationalism, multi-polarity, and Nobel Peace Prize diplomatic efforts provide ideological cover for . . . American global hegemony! This can be seen most clearly in the case of Iran, against whom Trump has virtually declared war. He would like to avoid direct military involvement there, of course, but he is banking on threats of irresistible "fire and fury" to bring the Iranians to heel. And if these threats are unavailing? Then – count on it! – the Empire will act like an empire, and we will have open war.

In fact, Trump and his most vociferous critics and supporters are unknowingly playing the same game. John Brennan, meet Steve Bannon! You preach very different sermons, but you're working for the same god. That deity's name changes over the centuries, but we worship him every time we venerate symbols of military might at sports events, pay taxes to support U.S. military supremacy, or pledge allegiance to a flag. The name unutterable by both Trump and his enemies is Empire.

What do we do with the knowledge that both the Tweeter King and the treason-baiting coalition opposing him are imperialists under the skin? Two positions, I think, have to be rejected. One is the Lyndon Johnson rationale: since Johnson was progressive on domestic issues, including civil rights and poverty, that made him preferable to the Republicans, even though he gave us the quasi-genocidal war in Indochina. The other position is the diametric opposite: since Trump is less blatantly imperialistic than most Democratic Party leaders, we ought to favor him, despite his billionaire-loving, immigrant-hating, racist and misogynist domestic policies. Merely to say this is to refute it.

My own view is that anti-imperialists ought to decline to choose between these alternatives. We ought to name the imperial god that both Trump and his critics worship and demand that the party that we work and vote for renounce the pursuit of U.S. global hegemony. Immediately, this means letting self-proclaimed progressives or libertarians in both major parties know that avoiding new hot and cold wars, eliminating nuclear weapons and other WMD, slashing military spending, and converting war production to peaceful uses are top priorities that must be honored if they are to get our support. No political party can deliver peace and social justice and maintain the Empire at the same time. If neither Republicans nor Democrats are capable of facing this reality, we will have to create a new party that can.

Notes.

[1] The author is University Professor of Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs at George Mason University. His most recent book is Resolving Structural Conflicts : How Violent Systems Can Be Transformed (2017).

[Aug 05, 2018] Donald Trump and the American Left by Rob Urie

With some editing for clarity.
Notable quotes:
"... As widely loathed as the Democratic establishment is, it has been remarkably adept at engineering a reactionary response in favor of establishment forces. Its demonization of Russia! has been approximately as effective at fomenting reactionary nationalism as Mr. Trump's racialized version. Lest this be overlooked, the strategy common to both is the use of oppositional logic through demonization of carefully selected 'others.' ..."
"... What preceded Donald Trump was the Great Recession, the most severe capitalist crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Great Recession followed approximately three decades of neoliberal de-industrialization, of policies intended to reduce the power of organized labor, reduce working class wages and raise economic insecurity under the antique capitalist theory that destitution motivates workers to produce more for less in return. ..."
"... The illusion / delusion that these problems -- lost livelihoods, homes, social roles, relationships, sense of purpose and basic human dignity -- were solved, or even addressed, by national Democrats, illustrates the class divide at work. The economy that was revived made the rich fabulously rich, the professional / managerial class comfortable and left the other 90% in various stages of economic decline. ..."
"... Asserting this isn't to embrace economic nationalism, support policies until they are clearly stated or trust Mr. Trump's motives. But the move ties analytically to his critique of neoliberal economic policies. As such, it is a potential monkey wrench thrown into the neoliberal world order. ..."
"... Democrats could have confronted the failures of neoliberalism without resorting to economic nationalism (as Mr. Trump did). And they could have confronted unhinged militarism without Mr. Trump's racialized nationalism. But this would have meant confronting their own history. And it would have meant publicly declaring themselves against the interests of their donor base. ..."
"... Mr. Trump's use of racialized nationalism is the primary basis of analyses arguing that he is fascist. Left unaddressed is the fact the the corporate-state form that is the basis of neoliberalism was also the basis of European fascism. Recent Left analysis proceeds from the premise that Trump control of the corporate-state form is fascism, while capitalist class control -- neoliberalism, is something else. ..."
"... Lest this not have occurred, FDR's New Deal was state capitalism approach within the framework of the corporatism (merge of corporations and a state) social formation. The only widely known effort to stage a fascist coup in the U.S. was carried out by Wall Street titans in the 1930s to wrest control from FDR before the New Deal was fully implemented. Put differently, the people who caused the Great Depression wanted to control its aftermath. And they were fascists. ..."
"... As political scientist Thomas Ferguson has been arguing for decades and Gilens and Page have recently chimed in, neither elections nor the public interest hold sway in the corridors of American power. The levers of control are structural -- congressional committee appointments go to the people with lots of money. Capitalist distribution controls the politics. ..."
"... The best-case scenario looking forward is that Donald Trump is successful with rapprochement toward North Korea and Russia and that he throws a monkey wrench into the architecture of neoliberalism so that a new path forward can be built when he's gone. If he pulls it off, this isn't reactionary nationalism and it isn't nothing. ..."
"... Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book ..."
"... is published by CounterPunch Books. ..."
Aug 03, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

The election of Donald Trump fractured the American Left. The abandonment of class analysis in response to Mr. Trump's racialized nationalism left identity politics to fill the void. This has facilitated the rise of neoliberal nationalism, an embrace of the national security state combined with neoliberal economic analysis put forward as a liberal / Left response to Mr. Trump's program. The result has been profoundly reactionary.

What had been unfocused consensus around issues of economic justice and ending militarism has been sharpened into a political program. A nascent, self-styled socialist movement is pushing domestic issues like single payer health care, strengthening the social safety net and reversing wildly unbalanced income and wealth distribution, forward. Left unaddressed is how this program will move forward without a revolutionary movement to act against countervailing forces.

As widely loathed as the Democratic establishment is, it has been remarkably adept at engineering a reactionary response in favor of establishment forces. Its demonization of Russia! has been approximately as effective at fomenting reactionary nationalism as Mr. Trump's racialized version. Lest this be overlooked, the strategy common to both is the use of oppositional logic through demonization of carefully selected 'others.'

This points to the most potent fracture on the Left, the question of which is the more effective reactionary force, the Democrats' neoliberal nationalism or Mr. Trump's racialized version? As self-evident as the answer apparently is to the liberal / Left, it is only so through abandonment of class analysis. Race, gender and immigration status are either subsets of class or the concept loses meaning.

By way of the reform Democrat's analysis , it was the shift of working class voters from Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016 that swung the election in Mr. Trump's favor. To the extent that race was a factor, the finger points up the class structure, not down. This difference is crucial when it comes to the much-abused 'white working-class' explanation of Mr. Trump's victory.

What preceded Donald Trump was the Great Recession, the most severe capitalist crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Great Recession followed approximately three decades of neoliberal de-industrialization, of policies intended to reduce the power of organized labor, reduce working class wages and raise economic insecurity under the antique capitalist theory that destitution motivates workers to produce more for less in return.

The illusion / delusion that these problems -- lost livelihoods, homes, social roles, relationships, sense of purpose and basic human dignity -- were solved, or even addressed, by national Democrats, illustrates the class divide at work. The economy that was revived made the rich fabulously rich, the professional / managerial class comfortable and left the other 90% in various stages of economic decline.

Left apparently unrecognized in bourgeois attacks on working class voters is that the analytical frames at work -- classist identity politics and liberal economics, are ruling class ideology in the crudest Marxian / Gramscian senses. The illusion / delusion that they are factually descriptive is a function of ideology, not lived outcomes.

Here's the rub: Mr. Trump's critique of neoliberalism can ] accommodate class analysis whereas the Democrats' neoliberal nationalism explicitly excludes any notion of economic power, and with it the possibility of class analysis. To date, Mr. Trump hasn't left this critique behind -- neoliberal trade agreements are currently being renegotiated.

Asserting this isn't to embrace economic nationalism, support policies until they are clearly stated or trust Mr. Trump's motives. But the move ties analytically to his critique of neoliberal economic policies. As such, it is a potential monkey wrench thrown into the neoliberal world order. Watching the bourgeois Left put forward neoliberal trade theory to counter it would seem inexplicable without the benefit of class analysis.

Within the frame of identity politics rich and bourgeois blacks, women and immigrants have the same travails as their poor and working-class compatriots. Ben Carson (black), Melania Trump (female) and Melania Trump (immigrant) fit this taxonomy. For them racism, misogyny and xenophobia are forms of social violence. But they aren't fundamental determinants of how they live. The same can't be said for those brutalized by four decades of neoliberalism

The common bond here is a class war launched from above that has uprooted, displaced and immiserated a large and growing proportion of the peoples of the West. This experience cuts across race, gender and nationality making them a subset of class. If these problems are rectified at the level of class, they will be rectified within the categories of race, gender and nationality. Otherwise, they won't be rectified.

Democrats could have confronted the failures of neoliberalism without resorting to economic nationalism (as Mr. Trump did). And they could have confronted unhinged militarism without Mr. Trump's racialized nationalism. But this would have meant confronting their own history. And it would have meant publicly declaring themselves against the interests of their donor base.

Mr. Trump's use of racialized nationalism is the primary basis of analyses arguing that he is fascist. Left unaddressed is the fact the the corporate-state form that is the basis of neoliberalism was also the basis of European fascism. Recent Left analysis proceeds from the premise that Trump control of the corporate-state form is fascism, while capitalist class control -- neoliberalism, is something else.

Lest this not have occurred, FDR's New Deal was state capitalism approach within the framework of the corporatism (merge of corporations and a state) social formation. The only widely known effort to stage a fascist coup in the U.S. was carried out by Wall Street titans in the 1930s to wrest control from FDR before the New Deal was fully implemented. Put differently, the people who caused the Great Depression wanted to control its aftermath. And they were fascists.

More recently, the effort to secure capitalist control has been led by [neo]liberal Democrats using Investor-State Dispute Resolution (ISDS) clauses in trade agreements. So that identity warriors might understand the implications, this control limits the ability of governments to rectify race and gender bias because supranational adjudication can overrule them.

So, is race and / or gender repression any less repressive because capitalists control the levers? Colonial slave-masters certainly thought so. The people who own sweatshops probably think so. Most slumlords probably think so. Employers who steal wages probably think so. The people who own for-profit prisons probably think so. But these aren't 'real' repression, are they? Where's the animosity?

As political scientist Thomas Ferguson has been arguing for decades and Gilens and Page have recently chimed in, neither elections nor the public interest hold sway in the corridors of American power. The levers of control are structural -- congressional committee appointments go to the people with lots of money. Capitalist distribution controls the politics.

The liberal explanation for this is 'political culture.' The liberal solution is to change the political culture without changing the economic relations that drive the culture. This is also the frame of identity politics. The presence of a desperate and destitute underclass lowers working class wages (raising profits), but ending racism is a matter of changing minds?

This history holds an important lesson for today's nascent socialists. The domestic programs recently put forward, as reasonable and potentially useful as they are, resemble FDR's effort to save capitalism, not end it. The time to implement these programs was when Wall Street was flat on its back, when it could have been more. This is the tragedy of betrayal by Barack Obama his voters.

Despite the capitalist rhetoric at the time, the New Deal wasn't 'socialism' because it never changed control over the means of production, over American political economy. Internal class differences were reduced through redistribution, but brutal and ruthless imperialism proceeded apace overseas.

The best-case scenario looking forward is that Donald Trump is successful with rapprochement toward North Korea and Russia and that he throws a monkey wrench into the architecture of neoliberalism so that a new path forward can be built when he's gone. If he pulls it off, this isn't reactionary nationalism and it isn't nothing.

Otherwise, the rich have assigned the opining classes the task of defending their realm. Step 1: divide the bourgeois into competing factions. Step 2: posit great differences between them that are tightly circumscribed to prevent history from inconveniently intruding. Step 3: turn these great differences into moral absolutes so that they can't be reconciled within the terms given. Step 4: pose a rigged electoral process as the only pathway to political resolution. Step 5: collect profits and repeat. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Rob Urie

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book Zen Economics is published by CounterPunch Books.

[Aug 03, 2018] Donald Trump might be a symptom that neoliberal system is about to collapse

Amazing interview.
We are in the point when capitalist system (which presented itself as asocial system that created a large middle class) converted into it opposite: it is social system that could not deliver that it promised and now want to distract people from this sad fact.
The Trump adopted tax code is a huge excess: we have 40 year when corporation paid less taxes. This is last moment when they need another gift. To give them tax is crazy excess that reminding Louis XV of France. Those gains are going in buying of socks. And real growth is happening elsewhere in the world.
After WW2 there were a couple of decades of "golden age" of US capitalism when in the USA middle class increased considerably. That was result of pressure of working class devastated by Great Depression. Roosevelt decided that risk is too great and he introduced social security net. But capitalist class was so enraged that they started fighting it almost immediately after the New Deal was introduced. Business class was enrages with the level of taxes and counterattacked. Tarp act and McCarthyism were two successful counterattacks. McCarthyism converting communists and socialists into agents of foreign power.
The quality of jobs are going down. That's why Trump was elected... Which is sad. Giving your finger to the neoliberal elite does not solve their problem
Notable quotes:
"... Finally, if everybody tries to save themselves (protection), we have a historical example: after the Great Depression that happened in Europe. And most people believe that it was a large part of what led to WWII after WWI, rather than a much saner collective effort. But capitalism doesn't go for collective efforts, it tends to destroy itself by its own mechanisms. There has to be a movement from below. Otherwise, there is no counter force that can take us in another direction. ..."
"... When Trump announced his big tariffs on China, we saw the stock market dropped 700 points in a day. That's a sign of the anxiety, the danger, even in the minds of capitalists, about where this is going. ..."
"... Everything is done to avoid asking the question to what degree the system we have in place - capitalism is its name - is the problem. It's the Russians, it's the immigrants, it's the tariffs, it's anything else, even the pornstar, to distract us from the debate we need to have had that we haven't had for a half a century, which puts us in a very bad place. We've given a free pass to a capitalist system because we've been afraid to debate it. And when you give a free pass to any institution you create the conditions for it to rot, right behind the facade. ..."
"... The Trump presidency is the last gasp, it's letting it all hang out. A [neoliberal] system that's gonna do whatever it can, take advantage of this moment, grab it all before it disappears. ..."
Jul 10, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

In another interesting interview with Chris Hedges, Richard Wolff explains why the Trump presidency is the last resort of a system that is about to collapse:

Finally, if everybody tries to save themselves (protection), we have a historical example: after the Great Depression that happened in Europe. And most people believe that it was a large part of what led to WWII after WWI, rather than a much saner collective effort. But capitalism doesn't go for collective efforts, it tends to destroy itself by its own mechanisms. There has to be a movement from below. Otherwise, there is no counter force that can take us in another direction.

So, absent that counter force we are going to see this system spinning out of control and destroying itself in the very way its critics have for so long foreseen it well might.

When Trump announced his big tariffs on China, we saw the stock market dropped 700 points in a day. That's a sign of the anxiety, the danger, even in the minds of capitalists, about where this is going. If we hadn't been a country with two or three decades of a middle class - working class paid really well - maybe we could have gotten away with this. But in a society that has celebrated its capacity to do what it now fails to do, you have an explosive situation.

Everything is done to avoid asking the question to what degree the system we have in place - capitalism is its name - is the problem. It's the Russians, it's the immigrants, it's the tariffs, it's anything else, even the pornstar, to distract us from the debate we need to have had that we haven't had for a half a century, which puts us in a very bad place. We've given a free pass to a capitalist system because we've been afraid to debate it. And when you give a free pass to any institution you create the conditions for it to rot, right behind the facade.

The Trump presidency is the last gasp, it's letting it all hang out. A [neoliberal] system that's gonna do whatever it can, take advantage of this moment, grab it all before it disappears.

In France, it was said 'Après moi, le déluge' (after me the catastrophe). The storm will break.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/60FrsWm9OAc

[Aug 03, 2018] The Little Known Black Hole in the Pentagon Budget by By Ross Marchand

Aug 01, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

... ... ...

In February, the Pentagon announced a $950 million no-bid contract to REAN Cloud, LLC for the migration of legacy systems to the cloud. As an Amazon Web Services consulting partner and reseller, REAN Cloud was likely favored due to Amazon's recent $600 million cloud project for the Central Intelligence Agency. Creating an unusually large contract with little oversight or competition led to ample criticism of the Pentagon, as lawmakers demanded an explanation from DoD. In response to the brouhaha, the Pentagon announced in early March that the maximum value of the contract would be reduced from $950 million to $65 million.

As it turned out, though, even the Pentagon wasn't exactly sure how to apply the murky requirements of OTA. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled in May that the REAN contract did not accord with federal law, in that REAN was granted an award without even really considering going through a competitive bidding process. "Vague and attenuated" statements from the Pentagon to potential bidders in the beginning of the process ensured that the process would not be an open one. After the cancellation of the REAN deal, the Pentagon finally seems open to competitive bidding for cloud migration.

Unfortunately, OTA is still alive and well across the DoD procurement process. In June, the Defense Information Systems Agency joined the growing list of agencies dabbling in OTA, noting that "many of the companies we're dealing with are small start-ups." But as the REAN Cloud case shows, many companies appear "small" but have far larger partners. According to statistics in the Federal News Radio report , "Only $7.4 billion of the nearly $21 billion went to nontraditional companies." The problem is created in part by the use of consortiums, which are comprised of multiple companies, which vary in size. The consortium can decide how money is allocated for an award, allowing larger businesses to benefit disproportionately out of sight of the DoD and taxpayers.

Congress has finally started to demand more accountability for OTAs. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress requires more data reporting and analysis by acquisition officials. But far more work remains.

Lawmakers should set stricter limits on when it's okay to eschew competitive bidding, and lower the threshold for requiring congressional notification (currently set at $500 million). Allowing tens of billions of dollars to be spent behind the backs of taxpayers without a bidding process cannot continue.

Ross Marchand is the director of policy for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

[Aug 03, 2018] Trumpism and the Politics of Distrust

Aug 03, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

We have lost some of our democratic habits -- indeed, in many ways we are losing our very cohesion as a society. But I frame the question very differently.

I know a bunch of Trump supporters. Some of them are intellectuals who write for places like TAC . But most are not. Neither are any of them raving bigots or knuckle-dragging neanderthals, and all of them read the news, though with vastly less obsessiveness than people who work in the business.

None of them "like" things like "unremitting chaos, lies, ignorance, trash-talking vulgarity, legislative failure" or collusion with foreign governments. Some of them minimize some of these things at least some of the time -- and I myself have been known to derive a kind of pleasure from the absurdity of a figure like Mooch. But this isn't what the people who I know who voted Trump voted for , nor is it why they continue to be happy with their vote -- which, however unhappy they are with how the administration is conducting itself, most of them still are.

Rather, the commonality among those who voted for Trump is their conviction that the Democratic party's leadership is utterly bankrupt, and, to one degree or another, so is the Republican leadership. And that assessment hasn't changed one iota since the election.


SDS August 1, 2017 at 12:29 pm

"They are, however, people who have lost trust in the individuals and institutions who are most alarmed about Trump: the political establishment, the press, etc. And so, on a relative basis, they'd rather continue to put their trust in Trump."

That last line does not follow .We have lost trust in all of the others; so would rather see what Trump does; not that we have any trust in him to do the right thing

THAT would be ridiculous; especially after the last six months.

Will Harrington , says: August 1, 2017 at 12:37 pm
Hmmm. Populism can not govern or build institutions by its very nature? I can't help but read that as saying the plebeians are so incompetent and stupid that only the elites are capable of governing. As for the American people taking a turn to authoritarianism. This is possible, after all, our Federal government has spent most of the last century increasing their control over many of the aspects of our lives and stretching the limits of the Constitution beyond any recognition. We have been prepared to accept authoritarianism. Increasingly we have had an authoritarian presidency that surveils its own people and has usurped regulatory and warmaking authority from the Congress. The Federal government has created, out of whole cloth, a role for itself in public education. Do not blame the populace for being what the elite has spent a century shaping them to be.
I am convinced that the saber rattling and fear-mongering concerning Korea, Iran, and Russia are not happening because we have any reason to be particularly concerned about these countries or because they threaten our interests. No, this is the way a corrupt and ineffective regime distracts its citizens from its own failings. Lets be clear, this would be happening even if She-who-shall-not-be-named had one the Presidency.
JonF , says: August 1, 2017 at 1:20 pm
Whatever happened to "trust but verify"?
OK, a bunch of people did the political equivalent of a Hail Mary play in voting for Trump. But now that the ball has not only fallen short but gone way out of bounds and beaned some spectators in the stands shouldn't they be revoking that trust and casting around for someone else to represent them? Why stick with a sinking ship?
JessicaR , says: August 1, 2017 at 1:25 pm
https://www.aol.com/article/news/2016/11/11/why-veterans-voted-donald-trump-swing-states/21603486/

There is strong evidence to suggest that one factor in Trump's victory was distrust of US foreign policy. The link above is to an article about exit polls showing Trump won the veteran's vote 2:1 over Hillary Clinton.

Not long ago, a study by two academicians found that Trump carried counties with high casualties in the Iraq war: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2989040

People don't regret their votes for Trump because if they had voted for Clinton, they or their loved ones would be coming home in body bags–or minus body parts.

As bad as Trump is, his foreign policy instincts are less hawkish than Clinton's–witness his decision to end the CIA funding of Syrian insurgents.

Trump's behavior is certainly "unpresidential" and chaotic. It is also less horrible than war by many orders of magnitude.

Kevin , says: August 1, 2017 at 1:29 pm
"The politically relevant, and profoundly disturbing, fact is precisely the opposite of the conventional wisdom: After six months of unremitting chaos, lies, ignorance, trash-talking vulgarity, legislative failure, and credible evidence of a desire to collude with a hostile foreign government to subvert an American election, President Trump's approval rating is astonishingly high -- with something between one-third and two-fifths of the American people apparently liking what they see and hear from the White House"

But George W Bush at his nadir averaged 26% approval, and that's seven years in, during an epic economic collapse, a catastrophic war, and a host of other disasters. Trump is not THAT far away from that average.

There is simply a line beyond which a president can't decline unless he murders and eats a puppy in public, and I see no reason to presume that we can judge that Trump hit his bottom six months in, when the economy is decent and no non-self inflicted crisis looming.

I'd also add that while all your friends have different reasons to stay aboard the Trump train, all of them sound like high information, fairly ideological voters. This is probably not the profile of Trump voters set to vote for The Rock in 2020

c matt , says: August 1, 2017 at 2:23 pm
Well, when a building is rotten to the core, the only thing you can do is raze it to the ground to start rebuilding. Our government has long passed its sell-by date. Really, expecting a political solution to arise from a government controlled system such as ours does not border on insanity – it completely crosses that border in leaves it miles in the dust. Witness our insane Congress voting by a 98% margin to inflict sanctions based upon absolute crock. But then the US has never let reality get in the way of statesmenshowmanship. We get what we deserve, good and hard.
polistra , says: August 1, 2017 at 2:57 pm
You're OK until the last line. "And populism by its very nature cannot build institutions, cannot govern "

You're still using the Deepstate definition of populism. In fact populists want only one thing: We think the government of THIS country should serve the interests of the people of THIS country.

It's perfectly possible to govern by this rule. FDR did it magnificently.

Why did it work for FDR? Because he was determined to BREAK the monopolies and forces that acted contrary to the interests of the people, and because governments BELOW the Federal level were still strong. When he closed the banks for several months, cities and Chambers of Commerce jumped in immediately to develop scrip systems.

Thanks to an unbroken series of evil judges and presidents after WW2, local governments and institutions are dead or dying. Even if a competent and determined populist tried to close down banks or Amazon or the "health" insurance system, there would be no organized way to replace them.

Jones , says: August 1, 2017 at 2:59 pm
What exactly did these people think a Clinton administration would do? What nightmarish dystopia did they see coming around the bend? And what do you think -- were their perceptions of America's future under a Clinton administration accurate, or at least close to the mark? And if so, why?
Jones , says: August 1, 2017 at 3:01 pm
Also, I get that people have lost trust in mainstream institutions. What makes them think that Trump is trustworthy in comparison? Why do they have more trust in Trump than in the institutions? And does that seem reasonable?
Heyseed , says: August 1, 2017 at 3:06 pm
I didn't vote for Trump: His rhetorical style turns me cold; I don't like his position on many issues, or his general governing philosophy, to the extent he can be said to have one. But, BUT, I sure as Hell did not vote for Hilary Clinton(I voted for Johnson and Weld, who were obvious non-starters from the word Go. I might possibly have voted for Trump if it had looked like the election might be close in Illinois, but since the Chicago Machine had already stolen it for HRC, I could salve my conscience and vote for Johnson.

Clinton was the status quo candidate, and since I did not desire "more of the same", governmentally, Trump and his circus are preferable to Clinton and whatever cabal she would have assembled to run the country.

You claim that the elite "inevitably" run the machinery of government, but it's worth noting that once upon a time in America, most of the people in government were political appointees who could be sent packing(along with their bosses) by the voters. Nowadays, the 'elite' which runs government is dug in pretty much permanently, and the same people will be, in practice, running the government no matter who wins the next election, or the one after that

Hilary Clinton was forthrightly the candidate of the permanent, un-elected bureaucracy, and Trump, well, didn't seem to be. The choice was between Trump, whose actual position on the size of government was not clear, and Hilary Clinton who was actually promising to make government bigger, more centralized, more expensive and less responsive. I'm not sorry Trump won however distasteful he and his henchmen are to me.

Michael R Honohan , says: August 1, 2017 at 3:57 pm
I too had a friend who was a huge Ron Paul supporter who not only backed Trump, but became a major apologist for him ever since. The man ran two back to back campaigns in Georgia for US Senate, the Ron Paul mold. Now, no on his original team will give him the time of day. Those who tried to get some sense into him, have been closed off.

As a libertarian, I am no more afraid of the left or the right. In fact, listening to the right rant about the left yields a lot of ignorance, disinformation and paranoia: stock in trade for right wing propaganda. But I am disturbed when people spend years fighting for liberty suddenly joined Cult 45 that has no sense of liberty Ron Paul or his followers would recognize.

But Trump fit the bankrupt GOP. Lest we forget, those 49 GOP Senators who voted for "skinny repeal" (even the name is joke!) never gave a moment's consideration to the bill written by Rand Paul that covers the conservative attributes of free markets and self-determination. Lest we also forget that Rand is not only one of the few legit conservatives, but a doctor and the son of doctor or former Congressman. Those credentials alone would have been enough if GOP was actually interested being conservative. Apparently, Trumpism is what the GOP is about and 49 of them proved it.

ojc , says: August 1, 2017 at 4:43 pm
I think that you have identified a problem that transcends Trump and his opponents. Vitriolic partisanship is one thing. At various points in our history, we have had some nasty spells of polarization. The deeper problem that the institutions of public life are now losing their very legitimacy.

Legitimacy is something deeper than mere approval. It relies upon the unspoken acceptance of political and institutional norms.

We are clearly in the process of publicly reevaluating and even rejecting these norms. The birthers questioning Obama's background and "not my president" folks do not view their oppponents as legitimate, if mistaken. In the case of Trump and the radical left, they contest the legitimacy of the other side even participating in the process, a process by the way to which they owe no fealty.

Whine Merchant , says: August 1, 2017 at 5:42 pm
"We had to destroy the village to save it."

Where have we heard that line before??

Cash , says: August 1, 2017 at 5:58 pm
Nothing wrong with America that couldn't be fixed, one, by making voting mandatory, and two, by having top two vote getters in primary face each other in the general.

We'd have a moderate politics with elected officials clustering slightly right and left of the center.

cka2nd , says: August 1, 2017 at 6:32 pm
Speaking as a Commie Pinko Red, I still prefer Trump as President over Clinton, precisely because he is doing so much to undermine America's "leadership" in world affairs. He's still a murderous imperialist, maybe even just as much as she would have been, but there's just so much more damage that she could have done making bi-partisan deals with the GOP for the benefit of Wall Street and the insurance industry.

The movement against GOPcare – Trumpcare wasn't really a fair name for the wet dreams of Paul Ryan and Conservative, Inc. – probably couldn't have been so effective or flew under the radar of the establishment tools running the Democratic Party and its media mouthpieces if a Democrat was in the White House and the various beltway "movement" honchos had had their precious seat at the table where they could have rolled over for the Democratic president of the moment.

bt , says: August 1, 2017 at 6:41 pm
The biggest problem is what comes after Trump for the GOP?

He's kicked off a process for the GOP that will be very difficult to manage going forward. He showed that outright racism, sexism, continuous lying, even treasonous collusion with Russia to subvert our election is just fine with the Republican Party. How does the GOP sell family values to their 'base' after they all lined up with Donald j Trump, serial wife-cheater and money-launderer?

It will be hard for anyone to forget that any of this happened.

Consider this: 8 years of W Bush yielded the first black President – It really could not have happened if W hadn't burned the house down. What comes after Trump?

FiveString , says: August 1, 2017 at 7:52 pm
I'm a very middle-class worker in the IT sector where most of my coworkers have been sensible, but my weekend hobby of playing music has put me in contact (largely via Facebook) with many Trump supporters who do happen to be knuckle-dragging neanderthals. They generally don't read; their "news" comes from partisan demagogues on the radio or TV. If I give one the benefit of the doubt and share an article from, say, The American Conservative -- "The Madness of King Donald" was a favorite -- it's been all too common to receive a childish/hate-filled meme in response. Bigots are legion: I've unfriended the raving variety, and unfollowed the milder dog-whistlers. These deplorables have in fact been emboldened by the current POTUS.

But I get your point. I abhor the current duopoly, but it could be fixed if thinking citizens wanted to put in some effort. So, it's depressing in a different kind of way that so many thoughtful and well-read Americans are so cynical about state of US politics that they are fine with Trump wrecking it.

Barry , says: August 1, 2017 at 8:23 pm
"Rather, the commonality among those who voted for Trump is their conviction that the Democratic party's leadership is utterly bankrupt, and, to one degree or another, so is the Republican leadership. And that assessment hasn't changed one iota since the election."

They are people who were full of it beforehand, and as the evidence rolls in, they just sink deeper into lies.

MarkW , says: August 1, 2017 at 8:38 pm
Linker's quote "a desire to collude" you reference later as "collusion". The first instance is an attempt to broaden the charge from collusion, the second instance is a (sloppy?) change in language.
Mdet , says: August 1, 2017 at 9:31 pm
@Will Harrington, "Populism can not govern or build institutions by its very nature? I can't help but read that as saying the plebeians are so incompetent and stupid that only the elites are capable of governing."

I read that statement as "Once you are governing, once you are the one(s) in a position of power, then by definition you have become 'the elite' and are no longer 'a plebeian'". Populists, by definition, are the people who call for the tearing down of institutions that make up the status-quo, and elites, by definition, are the people who build and maintain status-quo institutions. At least in my eyes, "being a populist" and "governing institutions" are mutually exclusive.

Frank Lettucebee , says: August 2, 2017 at 12:46 am
Since the conservative party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower was invaded by the right wingers and became the party of Jefferson Davis and John Wilkes Booth, the goal has been to tarnish all concept of a functioning a democracy and a government is built to work for the people, of the people, and by the people. The right wing main tactic is lies and just get people riled up so that they don't realize and oblivious to the fact that America has slipped from capitalism to corporatism; from a capitalist democracy to a caste based plutocracy run for the sole benefit of the oligarchs who bought this country.

Don Trump is the embodiment and distillation of the right winger and their economic and social cultural policies. He is not an alternative or antidote to the Republicans or Democrats.

Cal , says: August 2, 2017 at 2:04 am
" Is he happy with Trump? No -- he's especially unhappy with the number of Goldman bankers Trump appointed to senior economic posts, but more generally he acknowledges that the government is in chaos and that Trump is not bringing the change he hoped for. But he doesn't regret his vote, and he prefers the chaos of Trump to business-as-usual under either the Democrats or the Republicans. And if Trump winds up discrediting the Federal government generally, that's fine with him."

I didn't vote this election because I didn't like either candidate. I had been promoting 'America First' as a rallying cry for a candidate for years but Trump wasnt exactly the kind of leader I had in mind for it.
But I'm with the guy above -- if chaos will bust up the musical chair dual monarchies of the dems and repubs and the corrupt status quo government bring it on.

Pear Conference , says: August 2, 2017 at 6:23 am
I think the Democratic nominee in 2020 should be O.J. Simpson.

The reason is that I have lost trust in the media and the elites that are most alarmed about O.J. Simpson.

Kurt Gayle , says: August 2, 2017 at 8:37 am
A somewhat related question, Noah: If you had been a young man living in China on August 1, 1927, do you think you would have joined the People's Liberation Army?
connecticut farmer , says: August 2, 2017 at 9:50 am
Originally I wanted to sit out this past election but gave in to peer pressure. And I regret this. Trump? Clinton? Johnson? Stein? All were mediocre. Clinton/Trump were the two worst candidates that the "major" parties have ever produced in my lifetime. It was with fear and trepidation that I voted for Trump, notwithstanding that I fundamentally agreed with him on the issues of immigration and the need for a reduced American role in global affairs. In the end, I rationalized this (wasted) vote based upon the notion that not only had his opponent committed a felony (detouring government emails) but also because (as others have pointed out) she was the candidate of the status quo, the "permanent bureaucracy", Big Finance etc. etc. The fact that Trump actually won surprised me, but only moderately, because as terrible a candidate as he was, his opponent was even worse.

What has transpired since his election comes as no surprise. Had Clinton been elected conditions would have only been mirror imaged, such being the state of things in this once-great republic. I continue to maintain that the two-party system is archaic and has to go. Whether a multi-party system would be better, I don't know. Perhaps we have reached a point where the country is simply ungovernable. Perhaps more responsibility should be returned to state and local government (Jefferson would have approved). Again, I don't know.

What I do know is that the current system is dysfunctional.

And that, my friends, is why we have a real estate/TV personality as President.

wallysdaughter , says: August 2, 2017 at 12:40 pm
i am neither an establishment voter, or a member of the media/press. i am deeply worried where the man (trump) is taking this nation. the gop is complicit in this chaos as they see trump as a rubber stamp for their plutocratic agenda. i don't know what it will take to right the ship of state
EliteCommInc. , says: August 3, 2017 at 7:49 am
I don't regret my vote. And I ave had issues with my choice before and after the election. The sky is not even close to falling as predicted. And the democracy you claim is at threat may very well be, but it's from the current executive. And nothing thus far suggests that it will.

I m not going to dismiss the caterwauling liberals have been making since the campaign or the election as major distraction to governance.

And by the way there remain not a twiddle's evidence that the WH prior to the election colluded to undermine the US in any manner. It's time to cease throwing that out as sauce for the goose.

I think I agree with all four of your "freinds". I am very fond of the establishment, they have their place. What they provide in cohesion, stability and continuity is valuable to the state. But they appear to be want for any level of substance, depth thereof or moral consistency (if any at all). The double standards they hold themselves, their donors and connections on issues and accountability is unsustainable in a democracy as I think you understand it.

When I was laid out in the ER, I found myself wrestling with my own position on healthcare. The temptations are great to bend the guide as to my own conditions -- but I don't think I could so with a clear conscience. I am nor sot sure that what we haven't lost is a sense of conscience -- that sense that truth overrides immediate gain. I don't think the US can survive as the US if the leadership is bent on holding themselves to a standard not available to the country's citizens.

"Is he happy with Trump? No -- he's especially unhappy with the number of Goldman bankers Trump appointed to senior economic posts, but more generally he acknowledges that the government . . ."

And the discredited notions that

1. the rich know how to run an economy effectively and

2. that a rise in the market is a sign of economic health.

Brendan Sexton , says: August 3, 2017 at 10:48 am
Pear Conference captures perfectly the 'thinking' i have heard from more than one Trump voter. This is 'reasoning'?
If there is one system in America that needs blowing up to start over it might be our education system. I am generally supportive of public ed, and i am impressed by some of the commitment and inventiveness i see among the proposers of various alternatives to public ed. So, some folks are trying, even sometimes succeeding, but we have managed to arrive at a point in our culture where we have elected a President whose election success depended more than anything else on a public who have lost the ability to think critically. (if they ever had it, of course)
Yes I know the other one got more votes, by a lot. And i know that this other candidate was oddly not at all an attractive alternative. I know all that, but still, a huge fraction of the voting population–a fraction large enough to make themselves now THE base the government is playing to–is a group who could not/would not see this con-job coming? There was every opportunity to use actual logic and facts to reach a voting decision, but these millions of voters chose instead to go with various variations on the theme of 'they all stink, so i'm using my vote to poke a stick in their eyes." Or, as Pear satirized, "I hate/mistrust the elites and they like almost anybody else other than my guy, so I'm gonna turn my country over to the most vulgar non-elite pig the system can come up with."
There is talk now about the damage he can do to American politics and sense of community, but I think he may be more symptom than cause. We don't value the things we thought were a standard part of the American process: truthfulness, kindness, authenticity, devotion to the common good. We value, it turns out, showmanship, machismo, crass shows of wealth and power, and ..I can't go on.
I'm not sure how we got here, but I know the institutions held in high regard on this site, such as church, and some factors we all put our faith in such as increasing levels of education, turn out not to matter so much as we had thought. It is going to take some hard work and more than a little time to recover from this sickness in the country's soul.
Fran Macadam , says: August 3, 2017 at 11:43 am
"Trump supporters are just like people who are outraged by something and show it by rioting and burning down their own neighborhoods." – Greg in PDX

The antifas rioting and destroying in Portland also got very violent when some old folks held a peaceful rally for Trump there.

Oh, sorry. I forgot that when "progressives" disagree with someone, they consider that merely disagreeing with them constitutes "violence" against their "safe space" and they are compelled to go out and punch or shoot people.

Fran Macadam , says: August 3, 2017 at 11:47 am
"Nothing wrong with America that couldn't be fixed, one, by making voting mandatory"

Right, and by making public disclosure of who you voted for mandatory as well!

Just don't be the first to stop clapping.

Fran Macadam , says: August 3, 2017 at 11:50 am
Those calling for a soft coup to reinstate elite status quo leaders against the election results are the ones who are profoundly anti-democratic.
Grumpy Old Man , says: September 5, 2017 at 8:33 pm
No reason why populism couldn't govern. Huey Long was a damn effective governor of Louisiana. Send the whole Acela Corridor élite to Saddam's woodchipper and the country would noodle along just fine. I'm not for state violence, and yet the fantasy gives me a frisson. Forgive me, a sinner.

[Aug 02, 2018] Hegel The Uninvited Guest at the Conservative Party by James McElroy

Notable quotes:
"... Philosophy of Right ..."
"... History of the Idea of Progress ..."
"... Quest for Community ..."
"... The Soul of the World ..."
"... James McElroy is a New York City-based novelist and essayist, who also works in finance. ..."
Aug 01, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Is David Brooks openly flirting with the state-worship of this vexing 19th Century philosopher?Conservatism has gone from a rigid waltz between libertarians, social conservatives, and foreign policy hawks to a limb-flailing rave. Writers are reaching towards the bookshelf for thinkers that will refine and define first principles during this time of flux. While it's all been great fun, an esteemed but concerning guest has now entered the party. Increasingly, the right is dancing with G.W. Hegel.

David Brooks' recent column is a clear example of a Hegel flirtation. In it, Brooks defines conservatism as an internal critique of the Enlightenment. Explaining opposition to the idea that individuals randomly choose to start society, he writes: "There never was such a thing as an autonomous, free individual who could gather with others to create order. Rather, individuals emerge out of families, communities, faiths, neighborhoods and nations. The order comes first. Individual freedom is an artifact of that order."

Family and community are the basic building blocks of society and social contract theory has plenty of flaws. Yet note how Brooks lists the nation state as prior to individual freedom. It's dropped so casually that its radicalism is almost obscured. What type of freedom is dependent on the nation state? Hegelian.

Hegel argued that freedom was the origin of self-consciousness, and defined his work as tracing "the stages in the evolution of the idea of the will free in and for itself." In Philosophy of Right , he critiqued how Enlightenment liberals see freedom, arguing that liberal freedom could be divided into three stages.

Knock It Off With the 'Little Platoons' Already Alpo Leopold's Ecological Conservatism

First comes freedom defined negatively: "Nothing can determine where I'll eat dinner!" In the second stage of freedom, we want to choose specific states of mind or to concern ourselves with a particular. "I'm going to eat at Waffle House." But if we choose to eat at Waffle House, we've restricted that first stage of freedom. We can no longer say "nothing can determine where I'll eat dinner" because we've selected a particular place to eat. So the third stage of freedom is the ability to change one's mind, to keep options open, regardless of prior commitments. "I will eat at Waffle House, unless I decide to just drink mini-wines in the Applebee's parking lot." This reveals how our conception of freedom is dependent upon the options available to us.

Liberal freedom is thus our capacity to enter and exit choices, which are determined by factors other than ourselves. I did not choose for Waffle House to exist. I did not choose to get hungry at dinner time. We do not choose what we choose between. Therefore, the order of society creates freedom.

So Brooks is clearly doing the robot with Hegel. But so what? Maybe Hegel's ideas are both conservative and correct. Maybe conservatives ought to embrace Hegel openly. There have always been right-wing Hegelians. These are defensible positions. Yet we should remember that conservative bouncers have restricted Hegel from their canon before and for good reason.

Hegel has always been associated with state worship, and Marxism largely sprang from his thought. In History of the Idea of Progress , conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet wrote that, while many try to disguise Hegel as some sort of liberal, "There is simply no way of separating him from ideas and expressions which were in themselves acts of obeisance to the national state and which on the ineffacable record, led others to ever-higher levels of intensity in the glorification of the state."

Some may disagree with Nisbet's reading. Some may say that Marxists misread Hegel . Yet the link to state worship and Marxism must be contended with, and anyone who slips in Hegel without acknowledging it -- like Brooks -- is masking the potentially radical nature of his statement.

Strip the Brooks column of the usual sentimental odes to "beautiful communities" and his strange statement stands bare and a little menacing. There is a world of difference between saying that freedom is dependent upon the family and saying that it's dependent on the nation state. Brooks sounds an awful lot like former President Barack Obama: "Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that."

Yet apparently, as Brooks tells us, big government is no longer a threat to the "sacred space." Community focused conservatives often use Nisbet's Quest for Community to criticize hyper-individualism, yet they should also remember Nisbet's criticism of Hegelian freedom: "Hegel clothes the absolute state, just as Rousseau had, in the garments of freedom; but there cannot be the slightest doubt of Hegel's dedicated belief in the absolutism, the sanctity, even the divinity of the national state's power."

Perhaps I'm reading too much into a throwaway line. After all, Aristotle offered ideas similar to those of Hegel and Brooks without the taint of state worship -- maybe that's where Brooks is drawing his inspiration from. Yet the connection between Brooks and Hegel is still inescapable because the former is basing his definition of conservatism from British philosopher Roger Scruton.

Scruton is one of two modern philosophers currently disseminating Hegelian ideas into mainstream punditry. He reads Hegel in a positive light, and in his book The Soul of the World , he writes: "Freedom is fully realized only in the world of persons, bound together by rights and duties that are mutually recognized." Yet Scruton does not say "in the world of nations," and elsewhere warns that Hegel is like a "beautiful oasis around a treacherous pool of nonsense." Brooks doesn't offer any such qualifications.

Alasdair MacIntyre is the other philosopher who has helped popularize Hegel in conservative circles, and in fact Brooks referenced him just a few days ago . Conservatives who discuss "liquid modernity" as read through MacIntyre describe something almost identical to Hegel's Absolute Negativity. And McIntyre's idea of waiting for Benedict is similar to waiting for the Absolute Spirit, which is similar to waiting for the revolution.

What would a more Hegelian conservatism look like? It's hard to tell. Perhaps we'd see books declaring an end to one form of consciousness. Perhaps Hegel's ideas on corporations would be directly referenced by those concerned with working-class alienation. Or perhaps we would see more fishy ideas about the nation state being a prerequisite for individual freedom.

This isn't about pointing at Brooks and pulling an " Invasion of the Body Snatchers ," or just beating up on him for the sake of it. He's merely the most obvious example of a conservative who's done a waltz with the German philosopher. And even then it's always difficult to tell. Hegel wrote on such a wide range of topics in such confusing prose, that, like a crazed ex, we might mistakenly spot him everywhere.

Hegel's work is important, and both Scruton and MacIntyre are geniuses. Yet we should always remember Russell Kirk's warnings that "Marx could draw upon Hegel's magazine; he could find nothing to suit him in Burke" and that Hegel was "a conservative only from chance and expediency." Hegel is already at the party; whether we want him to stay is another question entirely.

James McElroy is a New York City-based novelist and essayist, who also works in finance.

[Aug 01, 2018] The word McCarthyism came to mean making accusations of treason without sufficient evidence

Aug 01, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

To some, that fear was not a problem but a tool -- one could defeat political enemies simply by accusing them of being Russian sympathizers. There was no need for evidence, so desperate were Americans to believe; just an accusation that someone was in league with Russia was enough. Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy fired his first shot on February 9, 1950, proclaiming there were 205 card-carrying members of the Communist Party working for the Department of State. The evidence? Nothing but assertions .

Indeed, the very word " McCarthyism " came to mean making accusations of treason without sufficient evidence. Other definitions include a ggressively questioning a person's patriotism, using accusations of disloyalty to pressure a person to adhere to conformist politics or discredit an opponent, and subverting civil and political rights in the name of national security.

Pretending to be saving America while he tore at its foundations, McCarthy destroyed thousands of lives over the next four years simply by pointing a finger and saying "communist." Whenever anyone invoked his Fifth Amendment right to silence, McCarthy answered that this was "the most positive proof obtainable that the witness is communist." The power of accusation was used by others as well: the Lavender Scare , which concluded that the State Department was overrun with closeted homosexuals who were at risk of being blackmailed by Moscow for their perversions, was an offshoot of McCarthyism, and by 1951, 600 people had been fired based solely on evidence-free "morals" charges. State legislatures and school boards mimicked McCarthy. Books and movies were banned. Blacklists abounded.

The FBI embarked on campaigns of political repression (they would later claim Martin Luther King Jr. had communist ties), even as journalists and academics voluntarily narrowed their political thinking to exclude communism.

[Aug 01, 2018] Hegel The Uninvited Guest at the Conservative Party The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Philosophy of Right ..."
"... History of the Idea of Progress ..."
"... Quest for Community ..."
"... The Soul of the World ..."
"... James McElroy is a New York City-based novelist and essayist, who also works in finance. ..."
Aug 01, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Hegel: The Uninvited Guest at the Conservative Party Is David Brooks openly flirting with the state-worship of this vexing 19th Century philosopher? By James McElroy August 1, 2018

Columnist David Brooks and German Philosopher G.W. Hagel (public domain) Conservatism has gone from a rigid waltz between libertarians, social conservatives, and foreign policy hawks to a limb-flailing rave. Writers are reaching towards the bookshelf for thinkers that will refine and define first principles during this time of flux. While it's all been great fun, an esteemed but concerning guest has now entered the party. Increasingly, the right is dancing with G.W. Hegel.

David Brooks' recent column is a clear example of a Hegel flirtation. In it, Brooks defines conservatism as an internal critique of the Enlightenment. Explaining opposition to the idea that individuals randomly choose to start society, he writes: "There never was such a thing as an autonomous, free individual who could gather with others to create order. Rather, individuals emerge out of families, communities, faiths, neighborhoods and nations. The order comes first. Individual freedom is an artifact of that order."

Family and community are the basic building blocks of society and social contract theory has plenty of flaws. Yet note how Brooks lists the nation state as prior to individual freedom. It's dropped so casually that its radicalism is almost obscured. What type of freedom is dependent on the nation state? Hegelian.

Hegel argued that freedom was the origin of self-consciousness, and defined his work as tracing "the stages in the evolution of the idea of the will free in and for itself." In Philosophy of Right , he critiqued how Enlightenment liberals see freedom, arguing that liberal freedom could be divided into three stages.

First comes freedom defined negatively: "Nothing can determine where I'll eat dinner!" In the second stage of freedom, we want to choose specific states of mind or to concern ourselves with a particular. "I'm going to eat at Waffle House." But if we choose to eat at Waffle House, we've restricted that first stage of freedom. We can no longer say "nothing can determine where I'll eat dinner" because we've selected a particular place to eat. So the third stage of freedom is the ability to change one's mind, to keep options open, regardless of prior commitments. "I will eat at Waffle House, unless I decide to just drink mini-wines in the Applebee's parking lot." This reveals how our conception of freedom is dependent upon the options available to us.

Liberal freedom is thus our capacity to enter and exit choices, which are determined by factors other than ourselves. I did not choose for Waffle House to exist. I did not choose to get hungry at dinner time. We do not choose what we choose between. Therefore, the order of society creates freedom.

So Brooks is clearly doing the robot with Hegel. But so what? Maybe Hegel's ideas are both conservative and correct. Maybe conservatives ought to embrace Hegel openly. There have always been right-wing Hegelians. These are defensible positions. Yet we should remember that conservative bouncers have restricted Hegel from their canon before and for good reason.

Hegel has always been associated with state worship, and Marxism largely sprang from his thought. In History of the Idea of Progress , conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet wrote that, while many try to disguise Hegel as some sort of liberal, "There is simply no way of separating him from ideas and expressions which were in themselves acts of obeisance to the national state and which on the ineffacable record, led others to ever-higher levels of intensity in the glorification of the state."

Some may disagree with Nisbet's reading. Some may say that Marxists misread Hegel . Yet the link to state worship and Marxism must be contended with, and anyone who slips in Hegel without acknowledging it -- like Brooks -- is masking the potentially radical nature of his statement.

Strip the Brooks column of the usual sentimental odes to "beautiful communities" and his strange statement stands bare and a little menacing. There is a world of difference between saying that freedom is dependent upon the family and saying that it's dependent on the nation state. Brooks sounds an awful lot like former President Barack Obama: "Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that."

Yet apparently, as Brooks tells us, big government is no longer a threat to the "sacred space." Community focused conservatives often use Nisbet's Quest for Community to criticize hyper-individualism, yet they should also remember Nisbet's criticism of Hegelian freedom: "Hegel clothes the absolute state, just as Rousseau had, in the garments of freedom; but there cannot be the slightest doubt of Hegel's dedicated belief in the absolutism, the sanctity, even the divinity of the national state's power."

Perhaps I'm reading too much into a throwaway line. After all, Aristotle offered ideas similar to those of Hegel and Brooks without the taint of state worship -- maybe that's where Brooks is drawing his inspiration from. Yet the connection between Brooks and Hegel is still inescapable because the former is basing his definition of conservatism from British philosopher Roger Scruton.

Scruton is one of two modern philosophers currently disseminating Hegelian ideas into mainstream punditry. He reads Hegel in a positive light, and in his book The Soul of the World , he writes: "Freedom is fully realized only in the world of persons, bound together by rights and duties that are mutually recognized." Yet Scruton does not say "in the world of nations," and elsewhere warns that Hegel is like a "beautiful oasis around a treacherous pool of nonsense." Brooks doesn't offer any such qualifications.

Alasdair MacIntyre is the other philosopher who has helped popularize Hegel in conservative circles, and in fact Brooks referenced him just a few days ago . Conservatives who discuss "liquid modernity" as read through MacIntyre describe something almost identical to Hegel's Absolute Negativity. And McIntyre's idea of waiting for Benedict is similar to waiting for the Absolute Spirit, which is similar to waiting for the revolution.

What would a more Hegelian conservatism look like? It's hard to tell. Perhaps we'd see books declaring an end to one form of consciousness. Perhaps Hegel's ideas on corporations would be directly referenced by those concerned with working-class alienation. Or perhaps we would see more fishy ideas about the nation state being a prerequisite for individual freedom.

This isn't about pointing at Brooks and pulling an " Invasion of the Body Snatchers ," or just beating up on him for the sake of it. He's merely the most obvious example of a conservative who's done a waltz with the German philosopher. And even then it's always difficult to tell. Hegel wrote on such a wide range of topics in such confusing prose, that, like a crazed ex, we might mistakenly spot him everywhere.

Hegel's work is important, and both Scruton and MacIntyre are geniuses. Yet we should always remember Russell Kirk's warnings that "Marx could draw upon Hegel's magazine; he could find nothing to suit him in Burke" and that Hegel was "a conservative only from chance and expediency." Hegel is already at the party; whether we want him to stay is another question entirely.

James McElroy is a New York City-based novelist and essayist, who also works in finance.

[Jul 31, 2018] Donald Trump is Not the 'Manchurian Candidate' The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Vanity Fair ..."
"... The Washington Post , ..."
"... With impeachment itself on the table, Mueller has done little more than issue the equivalent of parking tickets to foreigners he has no jurisdiction over. Intelligence summaries claim the Russians meddled, but don't show that Trump was involved. Indictments against Russians are cheered as evidence, when they are just Mueller's uncontested assertions. ..."
Jul 31, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

An answer was needed, so one was created: the Russians. As World War II ended with the U.S. the planet's predominant power, dark forces saw advantage in arousing new fears . The Soviet Union morphed from a decimated ally in the fight against fascism into a competitor locked in a titanic struggle with America. How did they get so powerful so quickly? Nothing could explain it except traitors. Cold War-era America? Or 2018 Trump America? Yes, on both counts.

To some, that fear was not a problem but a tool -- one could defeat political enemies simply by accusing them of being Russian sympathizers. There was no need for evidence, so desperate were Americans to believe; just an accusation that someone was in league with Russia was enough. Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy fired his first shot on February 9, 1950, proclaiming there were 205 card-carrying members of the Communist Party working for the Department of State. The evidence? Nothing but assertions .

Indeed, the very word " McCarthyism " came to mean making accusations of treason without sufficient evidence. Other definitions include a ggressively questioning a person's patriotism, using accusations of disloyalty to pressure a person to adhere to conformist politics or discredit an opponent, and subverting civil and political rights in the name of national security.

Pretending to be saving America while he tore at its foundations, McCarthy destroyed thousands of lives over the next four years simply by pointing a finger and saying "communist." Whenever anyone invoked his Fifth Amendment right to silence, McCarthy answered that this was "the most positive proof obtainable that the witness is communist." The power of accusation was used by others as well: the Lavender Scare , which concluded that the State Department was overrun with closeted homosexuals who were at risk of being blackmailed by Moscow for their perversions, was an offshoot of McCarthyism, and by 1951, 600 people had been fired based solely on evidence-free "morals" charges. State legislatures and school boards mimicked McCarthy. Books and movies were banned. Blacklists abounded. The FBI embarked on campaigns of political repression (they would later claim Martin Luther King Jr. had communist ties), even as journalists and academics voluntarily narrowed their political thinking to exclude communism.

John Brennan, Melting Down and Covering Up Real Takeaway: The FBI Influenced the Election of a President

Watching sincere people succumb to paranoia again, today, is not something to relish. But having trained themselves to intellectualize away Hillary Clinton's flaws, as they had with Obama, about half of America seemed truly gobsmacked when she lost to the antithesis of everything that she had represented to them. Every poll (that they read) said she would win. Every article (that they read) said it too, as did every person (that they knew). Lacking an explanation for the unexplainable, many advanced scenarios that would have failed high school civics, claiming that only the popular vote mattered, or that the archaic Emoluments Clause prevented Trump from taking office, or that Trump was insane and could be disposed of under the 25th Amendment .

After a few trial balloons during the primaries under which Bernie Sanders' visits to Russia and Jill Stein's attendance at a banquet in Moscow were used to imply disloyalty, the fearful cry that the Russians meddled in the election morphed into the claim that Trump had worked with the Russians and/or (fear is flexible) that the Russians had something on Trump. Everyone learned a new Russian word: kompromat .

Donald Trump became the Manchurian Candidate. That term was taken from a 1959 novel made into a classic Cold War movie that follows an American soldier brainwashed by communists as part of a Kremlin plot to gain influence in the Oval Office. A Google search shows that dozens of news sources -- including The New York Times , Vanity Fair , Salon , The Washington Post , and, why not, Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti -- have all claimed that Trump is a 2018 variant of the Manchurian Candidate, controlled by ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin.

The birth moment of Trump as a Russian asset is traceable to MI-6 intelligence officer-turned-Democratic opposition researcher-turned FBI mole Christopher Steele , whose "dossier" claimed the existence of the pee tape. Supposedly, somewhere deep in the Kremlin is a surveillance video made in 2013 of Trump in Moscow's Ritz-Carlton Hotel, watching prostitutes urinate on a bed that the Obamas had once slept in. As McCarthy did with homosexuality, naughty sex was thrown in to keep the rubes' attention.

No one, not even Steele's alleged informants, has actually seen the pee tape. It exists in a blurry land of certainty alongside the elevator tape , alleged video of Trump doing something in an elevator that's so salacious it's been called "Every Trump Reporter's White Whale." No one knows when the elevator video was made, but a dossier-length article in New York magazine posits that Trump has been a Russian asset since 1987.

Suddenly no real evidence is necessary, because it is always right in front of your face. McCarthy accused Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower of being communists or communist stooges over the "loss" of China in 1949. Trump holds a bizarre press conference in Helsinki and the only explanation must be that he is a traitor.

Nancy Pelosi ("President Trump's weakness in front of Putin was embarrassing, and proves that the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially, or politically") and Cory Booker ("Trump is acting like he's guilty of something") and Hillary Clinton ("now we know whose side he plays for") and John Brennan ("rises to and exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes and misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin") and Rachel Maddow ("We haven't ever had to reckon with the possibility that someone had ascended to the presidency of the United States to serve the interests of another country rather than our own") and others have said that Trump is controlled by Russia. As in 1954 when the press provided live TV coverage of McCarthy's dirty assertions against the Army, the modern media uses each new assertion as "proof" of an earlier one. Snowballs get bigger rolling downhill.

When assertion is accepted as evidence, it forces the other side to prove a negative to break free. So until Trump "proves" he is not a Russian stooge, his denials will be seen as attempts to wiggle out from under evidence that in fact doesn't exist. Who, pundits ask, can come up with a better explanation for Trump's actions than blackmail, as if that was a necessary step to clearing his name?

Joe McCarthy's victims faced similar challenges: once labeled a communist or a homosexual, the onus shifted to them to somehow prove they weren't. Their failure to prove their innocence became more evidence of their guilt. The Cold War version of this mindset was well illustrated in movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or the classic Twilight Zone episode " The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street ." Anyone who questions this must themselves be at best a useful fool, if not an outright Russia collaborator. (Wrote one pundit : "They are accessories, before and after the fact, to the hijacking of a democratic election. So, yes, goddamn them all.") In the McCarthy era, the term was "fellow traveler": anyone, witting or unwitting, who helped the Russians. Mere skepticism, never mind actual dissent, is muddled with disloyalty.

Blackmail? Payoffs? Deals? It isn't just the months of Mueller's investigation that have passed without evidence. The IRS and Treasury have had Trump's tax documents and financials for decades, even if Rachel Maddow has not. If Trump has been a Russian asset since 1987, or even 2013, he has done it behind the backs of the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and NSA. Yet at the same time, in what history would see as the most out-in-the-open intelligence operation ever, some claim he asked on TV for his handlers to deliver hacked emails. In The Manchurian Candidate , the whole thing was at least done in secret as you'd expect.

With impeachment itself on the table, Mueller has done little more than issue the equivalent of parking tickets to foreigners he has no jurisdiction over. Intelligence summaries claim the Russians meddled, but don't show that Trump was involved. Indictments against Russians are cheered as evidence, when they are just Mueller's uncontested assertions.

There is no evidence the president is acting on orders from Russia or is under their influence. None.

As with McCarthy, as in those famous witch trials at Salem, allegations shouldn't be accepted as truth, though in 2018 even pointing out that basic tenet is blasphemy. The burden of proof should be on the accusing party, yet the standing narrative in America is that the Russia story must be assumed plausible, if not true, until proven false. Joe McCarthy tore America apart for four years under just such standards, until finally public opinion, led by Edward R. Murrow , a journalist brave enough to demand answers McCarthy did not have, turned against him. There is no Edward R. Murrow in 2018.

When asking for proof is seen as disloyal, when demanding evidence after years of accusations is considered a Big Ask, when a clear answer somehow always needs additional time, there is more on the line in a democracy than the fate of one man.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well : How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper's War : A Novel of WWII Japan. Follow him on Twitter @WeMeantWell .

[Jul 29, 2018] The USA intentionally tried to destroy Russia after the dissolution of the USSR

Notable quotes:
"... This silly article is proof, as if more was needed that what passes for Russia scholarship in the US is little more than politicized group-think. ..."
"... Russia has risen from utter economic, political, and societal collapse (gold reserves, factories, military secrets, science labs stripped bare and shipped or brain-drained out of the country; millions of pre-mature deaths; plunging birth rates) to recover, within a mere 20 years, to the point where the population has stabilized and the nation can credibly hold its own again on the world stage. Infrastructure is being rebuilt and modernized, the military has been restructured and re-equipped, pensions and salaries have risen 3 or 4-fold. ..."
Jul 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

John Perry July 28, 2018 at 1:48 pm

"Vladimir Putin rode a counter-wave of anti-Western nationalism to power in Moscow."

Uh, no. Putin came to power at a time when Russia seemed to be falling apart, quite literally. There was war in Chechnya, open criminal activity on the streets, and clear social decay. Putin's popularity begins with his address to the nation after the bombing of the Moscow metro, promising that the government (which he did not then lead) would chase those responsible down and kill them, even if that meant chasing them into outhouses. The relationship between the bombing and Putin's rise is so well-known that the conspiracy theorists who have Jay Nordlinger's ear over at National Review claim that the bombing was a set up by Putin's pals in the FSB, precisely to bring Putin to power.

My wife is Russian, from the city of Kazan in the Tatar Republic (part of Russia; it's complicated), and when we were merely pen pals in 2003 she wrote me what it was like. It was bad, very bad. At one point her entire neighborhood was placed under curfew on account of open warfare between criminal gangs. And of course when we visit the cemetery today one sees the striking spike in tombstones whose date of death is at some point in the mid- to late 90's, when it all seemed to be going to pieces and the government didn't even pay its own employees for half a year.

Today, by contrast, Russians can walk the streets more or less without fear, count on a paycheck, read in the news how their country has sent yet another capsule of Western astronauts to the international space station (because Westerners haven't been able to do that for the better part of a decade, thanks to Bush and Obama), and even find jobs in a successful tech sector (Kaspersky, JetBrains, Yandex, the list goes on).

But, hey, if you want to fantasize that Putin's rise is thanks to anti-Western sentiment, you go ahead and do that.

John Perry , says: July 28, 2018 at 1:53 pm
One other comment, if I may. I share the concern most Westerners have about Russia's seizure of Crimea. But where is our concern about Turkey's 40-plus-year occupation of northern Cyprus, also sparked by internal political disorder on the island? Why is it alright for a NATO country to invade another nation and prop up its separatists, expel the inhabitants of a disfavored ethnic group -- in this case, the Greeks?
Rodrigo Alvarez , says: July 28, 2018 at 6:15 pm
Shame on TAC for publishing this garbage. For one, Putin more or less saved Russia as a sovereign state, it is easy to forget the sorry condition Russia was in at the turn of the century. Without him, Russia would've most likely been dismembered or simply colonized by the West and China. He has performed admirably in the face of massive odds. Russia will still exist in 100 years as the state of the Russian and other native people of its land – can the same be said of the United States? Russia is slowly climbing its way out of the pit of despair created by 80 years of Communism, the United States is crawling into the very same pit.
Cynthia McLean , says: July 28, 2018 at 6:27 pm
I am much more concerned that voter roll purges, suppression of the vote, Citizen's United Dark Money and folks like the Kochs and Addelson are undermining US democracy than the Russians. As for the aggression of military machines around the world, the US wins hands down.
Groucho , says: July 28, 2018 at 6:37 pm
Like Fran my inclination was to bail after the first paragraph but I pushed on.

In the first paragraph Mr Desch lays out his position which is well within the bounds of polite discussion that Russia is a corrupt oligarchy but don't worry because it's an economic and military basketcase.

Where to start?

1. Corrupt kleptocracy. The Russian oligarchy/ mafia was a biproduct of the privatization binge that followed the collapse of the USSR. This evolved under the disastrous Yeltsin aided and abetted by US elites. The case of William Browder is instructive. Putin has taken significant measures to reassert government control and has greatly improved the lot of the average Russian.

2. Political freedom. Putin did not inherit a developed liberal democracy. Russia needs to be judged in the context of its own historical timeline in this regard not compared to western democracies. Do you prefer Stalin, Brezhnev, Andropov? In contrast compare the state and trajectory of US democratic institutions to, say the 1970s.

3. Human rights. Again the situation in Russia vis a vis human rights needs to be judged in terms of Russia's history not against Western nations with a long-standing tradition of human rights and political freedoms. That said, the illusion of political repression is largely overstated. For example Putin is routinely accused of murdering journalists but no real proof is ever offered. Instead, the statement is made again in this article as though it were self evident.

4. Foreign aggression. This is my favorite because it flies in the face of observable reality to the point of being ridiculous. Russia did not invade Ukraine. It provided support to ethnic Russians in Ukraine who rebelled after the illegal armed overthrow of the Russian leaning democratically elected president.That coup was directly supported by the United States. Far from ratcheting up tensions Russia has consistently pressed for the implementation of the Minsk accords. Putin is not interested in becoming responsible for the economic and political basket case which is Ukraine. The "largely bloodless" occupation of Crimea was actually a referendum in which the citizens of Crimea overwhelmingly supported annexation to Russia. Again This result makes sense in light of even a basic understanding of Russian history. Finally, in the case of Georgia Russia engaged after Georgia attacked what was essentially a Russian protectorate. This was the conclusion reached by an EU investigation.

Russia's so-called aggressive foreign-policy has been primarily in response to NATOs continuous push eastward and the perceived need to defend ethnic Russians from corrupt ultranationalist governments in former republics of the USSR. This is what Putin was talking about when he called the dissolution of the USSR one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century – the fact that, overnight 20 million Russians found themselves living in foreign countries. It wasn't about longing for a Russian empire.

As for the current state of Russias military capabilities, Mr Desch Would do well to read Pepe Escobar's recent article in the Asia Times. Russian accomplishments in Syria illustrated a level of technology and strategic effectiveness that rivals anything the US can do. Name one other nation – other than the US – that can design and build a world class 6th generation fighter jet or develop its own space program. Even Germany can't do that.

This silly article is proof, as if more was needed that what passes for Russia scholarship in the US is little more than politicized group-think.

laninya , says: July 28, 2018 at 7:45 pm
VG1959
"It is in the pursuit of empire that Putin, like Napoleon or Hitler before him, threatens the stability of Europe and by extension world peace."

Ah! ha!ha! Right.

Like Russia with a population of 150 million persons inhabiting a land mass that stretches across 9 or 10 time zones, from the Arctic pole to the Black Sea is chafing for "lebensraum" !?

No, Russia just wants to develop what it already owns. And, trying to do it on the strength of their own efforts (no overseas colonies filling the coffers), on a GDP as Winston, above, has pointed out which is smaller than that some US states. They're focussed, not on grabbing tiny, constipated territories like Estonia. Latvia, and Lithuania (full of Nazi sympathizers), but on bringing back to life those ancient trade routes which are their inheritance from the past (the Silk Road, primarily).

Why not just leave them alone and see what they can do? Those who have been relentlessly picking fault with Russia (and North Korea) might want to put down their megaphones and start taking notes.

What I mean is: pause for a moment to consider that:

1. Russia has risen from utter economic, political, and societal collapse (gold reserves, factories, military secrets, science labs stripped bare and shipped or brain-drained out of the country; millions of pre-mature deaths; plunging birth rates) to recover, within a mere 20 years, to the point where the population has stabilized and the nation can credibly hold its own again on the world stage. Infrastructure is being rebuilt and modernized, the military has been restructured and re-equipped, pensions and salaries have risen 3 or 4-fold.

2. North Korea, in 1953, had been so destroyed by war that no structures over a single story were left standing (and American generals were actually barfing into their helmets at the horror of what had been done to those people). The DPRK authorities, helpless to assist the population, could only advise to dig shelters underground to survive the winter. Yet, 70 years later, under international sanctions designed to starve those traumatized people into surrender, North Korea has restored its infrastructure, built modern cities, and developed a military apparatus able to credibly resist constant threats from abroad.

See: rather than picking nits to find things that are not yet perfectly hunky-dory with the governing structures/systems in those countries, I'm taking notes!!

Because, I'm convinced that if those people (those nations) were able to do what they've done with the time and resources they've had to work with, there is absolutely no reason and no excuse for our rich nations of "the West" to be caught in a nightmare of austerity budgeting, crumbling infrastructure, collapsing pensions, and spiralling debt.

Funny how the English speaking world SO resisst learning something that could actually do us a whole lot of good. I don't know who coined the terms "stiffnecked" and "bloodyminded", but it sure describes us!

connecticut farmer , says: July 29, 2018 at 12:43 pm
"From Moscow's perspective, the events in Kiev in late 2013 and 2014 looked suspiciously like a Western-backed coup."

Gee, ya think? Kinda reminds one of the 1996 Russian election. But, hey, don't broadcast this because, after all, too many people might start, er, noticing.

EliteCommInc. , says: July 29, 2018 at 1:11 pm

"They may be weakened, but their ability to make trouble is undiminished, given their aptitude for cyberattacks."

And if you have evidence that Russia so engaged, the FBI has a place for you.

[Jul 29, 2018] Cult of GDP is a damaging mental disease. With the size of the USA financial sector it is grossly distorted.

Jul 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Winston July 28, 2018 at 10:00 am

GDPs (2017):

California – $2.751 trillion
Texas – $1.707 trillion
Russia – $1.578 trillion

Likbez:

@Winston July 28, 2018 at 10:00 am

Cult of GDP is a damaging mental disease. With the size of the USA financial sector it is grossly distorted.

The inflated costs of pharmaceutical and medical-industrial complex add another large portion of air into the US GDP.

Surveillance Valley (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc ) firms valuations are also inflated and their contribution to the USA economics is overestimated in GDP.

There is also such thing as purchase parity. To compare GDP between countries, you must use purchasing power parity. To compare GDP without calculating in purchasing parity is just naïve.

I suspect that in real purchasing power Russia is close to Germany (which means it it is the fifth largest economy)

The USA still has dominance is key technologies and cultural influence.

[Jul 29, 2018] Time to Talk to the Taliban by Daniel L. Davis

Too many US clans are profiting from the war...
Notable quotes:
"... While agree totally with what Col. Davis says here about ending America's involvement in the Afghanistan War. Way to many are profiting from this long-term misadventure. ..."
"... Eminently sensible advice, except that Trump can't take it without being greeted with a hysterical chorus of "we're losing Afghanistan ZOMG!" (as if we ever had it) and "Putin puppet!" ..."
"... "Of course most Americans are clueless about the cost of these wars and how it impacts money necessary to re-build our country infrastructures." ..."
"... Completely disagree. I don't know a single individual who supports the war in Afghanistan or misunderstands its costs. The American people just have no say in the matter. ..."
"... Finally, they realise what St Ronnie knew in the 1980s. He created the Taliban we know today via Operation Cyclone. Maybe Ollie North can lead the negotiations? He seems to have a good channel to the Iranians ..."
"... Putting together Sid_finster's and spite's comments paints an interesting picture. Aside from war profiteering (Fran Macadam) there is no real purpose served by our occupation except to be there. ..."
"... I'll go a step further and say that the invasion of Afghanistan was unnecessary too. We were not attacked by Afghanistan. We were not even attacked by the Taliban. We were attacked by al Quaida, by teams comprised mostly of Saudi Arabians. ..."
"... It cannot be repeated too often that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires. Let the Taliban have it. ..."
"... What the Army could not do, and still cannot do, is transform a tribal society in isolated mountainous terrain into a liberal democracy. As LTC Davis observes: "The reason McChrystal failed to end the war -- and Miller will likewise fail -- is that these objectives can't be militarily accomplished." ..."
"... The conclusion of this simple argument is that the war in Afghanistan actually has almost nothing to do with that country and almost entirely to do with the political and economic demands arising from the US .nothing to do with Afghanistan other than the destruction of the place and its people. ..."
Jul 24, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
We have no choice. The 17-year war in Afghanistan has failed at every level, while the violence is only getting worse.

Reports have surfaced recently that the White House is instructing its senior diplomats to begin seeking "direct talks with the Taliban." It's a measure that would have been unthinkable at the start of the Afghanistan war yet today it's long overdue. Despite the criticism it's elicited, such talks offer the best chance of ending America's longest and most futile war.

While there is broad agreement that American leaders were justified in launching military operations in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, it's painfully evident after 17 years that no one has any idea how to end the fighting on military terms.

Possibly the biggest impediment to ending the war has been the definition of the word "win." General Stanley McChrystal said in 2009 that winning in Afghanistan meant "reversing the perceived momentum" of the Taliban, "seek[ing] rapid growth of Afghan national security forces," and "tackl[ing] the issue of predatory corruption by some" Afghan officials.

Nine full years and zero successes later, however, Lieutenant General Austin S. Miller, latest in line to command U.S. troops in Afghanistan, defined as America's "core goal" at his confirmation hearing that "terrorists can never again use Afghanistan as a safe haven to threaten the United States."

The reason McChrystal failed to end the war -- and Miller will likewise fail -- is that these objectives can't be militarily accomplished. Predicating an end to the war on such is to guarantee perpetual failure. A major course correction is therefore in order.

Keeping 15,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan does not, in any way , prevent terror attacks against the United States from originating there -- and for this lack of success we will pay at least $45 billion this year alone. The real solution is therefore to withdraw our troops as quickly as can be safely accomplished rather than throw more of them into a fruitless conflict.

I personally observed in 2011 during my second combat deployment in Afghanistan that even with 140,000 U.S. and NATO boots on the ground, there were still vast swaths of the country that were ungoverned and off-limits to allied troops.

Meaning, at no point since October 2001 has American military power prevented Afghanistan from having ungoverned spaces. What has kept us safe, however -- and will continue to keep us safe -- has been our robust, globally focused intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that work in concert with the CIA, FBI, and local law enforcement to defend our borders from external attack.

Many pundits claim that if the U.S. military withdraws from Afghanistan then chaos will reign there -- and that is almost certainly true. But that's how we found Afghanistan, that's how it is today, and -- wholly irrespective of when or under what conditions the U.S. leaves -- that's how it will be long into the future until Afghans themselves come to an accommodation.

The question U.S. policymakers need to ask is which is more important to American interests: the maintenance of a perpetually costly war that fails to prevent any future attacks, or ending America's participation in that war?

Continuing to fight for a country that can't be won cements a policy that has drained the U.S. of vital resources, spilled the blood of American service members to no effect, and dissipated the Armed Forces' ability to defend against potentially existential threats later on -- while in the meantime not diminishing the threat of international terrorism. To strengthen our national security, we must end the enduring policy of failure by prudently and effectively ending our military mission.

While the fundamentals of a withdrawal plan are relatively straightforward, they would still be met by considerable opposition. One of the arguments against leaving was voiced by McChrystal nine years ago when he pleaded with the American public to "show resolve" because "uncertainty disheartens our allies [and] emboldens our foe." Yet the facts can't be denied any longer: for all eight years of the Obama administration and the first 500 days of Trump's tenure, we maintained that "resolve" and were rewarded with an unequivocal deterioration of the war.

Since McChrystal's admonition to maintain the status quo, the Taliban have exploded in strength to reportedly 77,000 , more territory is now in the hands of the insurgents than at any point since 2001 , the Afghan government remains one of the most corrupt regimes on the planet, and civilian casualties in the first half of 2018 are the highest ever recorded .

The only way this permanent failure ends is if President Trump shows the courage he has sometimes demonstrated to push back against the Washington establishment. That means ignoring the status quo that holds our security hostage, ending the war, and redeploying our troops. Without that resolve, we can count on continued failure in Afghanistan. With it, American security will be strengthened and readiness improved.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow at Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after 21 years, including four combat deployments. Follow him on Twitter @DanielLDavis1 .


Fred Bowman July 24, 2018 at 1:29 pm

While agree totally with what Col. Davis says here about ending America's involvement in the Afghanistan War. Way to many are profiting from this long-term misadventure. The only way these wars of choice will ever end is when Congress has the balls to cut off funding. Of course most Americans are clueless about the cost of these wars and how it impacts money necessary to re-build our country infrastructures. Military madness indeed.
Sid_finster , says: July 24, 2018 at 2:06 pm
Eminently sensible advice, except that Trump can't take it without being greeted with a hysterical chorus of "we're losing Afghanistan ZOMG!" (as if we ever had it) and "Putin puppet!"

If Trump were going to leave, he should have done so soon after taking office. At least then he could blame his predecessors.

That country is Trump's baby now.

Fran Macadam , says: July 24, 2018 at 3:37 pm
The financial security of the National Security State and its suppliers now depends on no war ever ending or being won. The new definition of defeat is having any war end. As long as it continues, that war is being won.
Kent , says: July 24, 2018 at 4:31 pm
"Of course most Americans are clueless about the cost of these wars and how it impacts money necessary to re-build our country infrastructures."

Completely disagree. I don't know a single individual who supports the war in Afghanistan or misunderstands its costs. The American people just have no say in the matter.

spite , says: July 24, 2018 at 5:31 pm
There is only one reason why the USA is still in Afghanistan that makes sense (all the official reasons are an insult to ones intelligence), it borders on Iran and thus serves as a means to open a new front against Iran. The more the US pushes for war against Iran, the more this seems correct.
EliteCommInc. , says: July 24, 2018 at 5:43 pm
"Reports have surfaced recently that the White House is instructing its senior diplomats to begin seeking "direct talks with the Taliban."

I have to give my Jr High response here:

"Well, duh."
__________________

"While there is broad agreement that American leaders were justified in launching military operations in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks . . ."

Yeah . . . no.

1. They manipulated the game to make what was a crime an act of war to justify the an unnecessary, unethical, and strategically unwise invasion. I remain now where I was 14 years ago -- bad decision in every way.

2. It was even a poor decision based on reason for war. To utterly bend the will of the opponent to conform to the will of the US. it is possible to win. But to do so would require such massive force, brutality and will.

3. 9/11 was a simple criminal act, despite the damage. As a crime we should have sought extradition, and or small team FBI and special forces operations to a small footprint in either capturing, and or if need be killing Osama bin Laden and company.

Nothing that has occurred since 9/11 provides evidence that the invasion was either justified or effective. It will if the end game is to quit be one of three losses suffered by the US.

They are: War of 1812
Iraq
Afghanistan

" . . . it's painfully evident after 17 years that no one has any idea how to end the fighting on military terms."

Sure leave. Though talking so as to avert whole slaughter of those that aided the US is the decent thing to do.

Whine Merchant , says: July 24, 2018 at 5:48 pm
Finally, they realise what St Ronnie knew in the 1980s. He created the Taliban we know today via Operation Cyclone. Maybe Ollie North can lead the negotiations? He seems to have a good channel to the Iranians
Janek , says: July 24, 2018 at 6:05 pm
Solving USA problems in Afghanistan an at the same time pushing for war with Iran is by definition classic oxymoron. Afghanistan's problems can only be solved with cooperation and understanding with Iran. Conflict of the USA with Iran will extend indefinitely the suffering of the Afghanis and the eventual lose of the Afghanistan and Iran to the Russia. Always reigniting and keeping on the front burner the conflict with Iran by the USA is exactly what Russia and V. Putin want. I can't see any other politicians except D. Trump, B. Netanyahu and American 'conservatives' for the advancement of the Russia's goals in the Middle East and in the globalistan. These are the new XXI century 'useful (adjective)'.
Myron Hudson , says: July 24, 2018 at 6:22 pm
Putting together Sid_finster's and spite's comments paints an interesting picture. Aside from war profiteering (Fran Macadam) there is no real purpose served by our occupation except to be there.

I'll go a step further and say that the invasion of Afghanistan was unnecessary too. We were not attacked by Afghanistan. We were not even attacked by the Taliban. We were attacked by al Quaida, by teams comprised mostly of Saudi Arabians. This should have been a dirty knife fight in all the back alleys of the world, but we responded to the sucker punch as our attackers intended; getting into a brawl with somebody else in the same bar; eventually, with more than one somebody else.

It cannot be repeated too often that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires. Let the Taliban have it.

TG , says: July 25, 2018 at 8:28 am
Indeed, but as others have commented, the entire point of the Afghanistan war is that it is pointless. It can suck up enormous amounts of money, and generate incredible profits for politically connected defense contractors – and because Afghanistan is in fact pointless, it doesn't matter if all of that money is wasted or stolen, how could you tell? The vested interest in these winless pointless foreign wars means that they will continue until the American economy finally collapses – and anyone who opposes these wars is a fascist, a Russian stooge, "literally Hitler." Because money.
EarlyBird , says: July 25, 2018 at 4:22 pm
Thank you for this. I am very surprised to learn that Trump is pursuing this, given his pugilistic nature. I hope he does in fact, get us the hell out of there. He may be, like Nixon, the one who is politically able to make this smart move. Can you imagine the Republican outrage if Obama had tried a diplomatic exit from this sand trap?

We can still be proud of what we attempted to do there. A few years post-9/11, an Afghan colleague of mine who had come to the US as a boy said, "9/11 is the best thing to ever happen to Afghanistan." He meant that rather than carpet bombing Afghanistan "back to the Stone Age," as the left predicted the US would do, we poured billions of dollars in aide to build schools, hospitals, sewage and water plants, roads, etc.

EliteCommInc. , says: July 25, 2018 at 8:29 pm
"He meant that rather than carpet bombing Afghanistan "back to the Stone Age," as the left predicted the US would do, we poured billions of dollars in aide to build schools, hospitals, sewage and water plants, roads, etc."

And we could have done a lot more if we had not invaded. The Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11.

furbo , says: July 26, 2018 at 4:47 pm
The achievable operational level Military objectives in the Afghan war were accomplished in the first year; The Taliban were out of power and hiding in Pakistan and the Afghans had a somewhat benevolent government that wanted to guarantee security an property and a measure of individual liberty.

What the Army could not do, and still cannot do, is transform a tribal society in isolated mountainous terrain into a liberal democracy. As LTC Davis observes: "The reason McChrystal failed to end the war -- and Miller will likewise fail -- is that these objectives can't be militarily accomplished."

This has been particularly true with the intense guerrilla actions enabled by the Pakistanis who have a vested interest in an unstable Afghanistan.

I believe the noble goals 'might' have been doable – but it would have required a level of effort, and more importantly a 'cultural confidence' on par with the Roman Empire of the 2nd Century to pull it off. That is no longer us.

masmanz , says: July 27, 2018 at 1:29 am
"9/11 is the best thing to ever happen to Afghanistan"? I bet none of his family members died or suffered. Probably they are all living in the US. Are we supposed to feel proud that instead of carpet bombing and killing millions our war killed only a hundred thousand?
Wizard , says: July 27, 2018 at 9:53 am
Sadly, Kent, I do know people who still claim that our continued presence in Afghanistan is a good thing. Some of these are otherwise fairly bright people, so I really can't comprehend why they continue to buy into this idiocy.
James Keye , says: July 27, 2018 at 12:12 pm
Afghanistan must be Afghanistan and the US must be the US; this is such a simple tautology. If the US leaves, Afghanistan will become what ever it can for its own reasons and options. If the US stays, it will be for the US' reasons, not for the Afghans.

The conclusion of this simple argument is that the war in Afghanistan actually has almost nothing to do with that country and almost entirely to do with the political and economic demands arising from the US .nothing to do with Afghanistan other than the destruction of the place and its people.

[Jul 26, 2018] What Everyone Seemed to Ignore in Helsinki by Jon Basil Utley

Notable quotes:
"... Mr. Utley is the publisher of ..."
Jul 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Washington establishment came to their own conclusions about Russia and NATO -- but this is what they missed.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump during the recent summit in Helsinki. (Office of the Russian Presisdent/Kremin.ru) Sifting through the cacophony of commentary from the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki, here are four key points missed, ignored or glossed over by the Washington establishment and mainstream news coverage -- and they require a good airing.

They are:

It's clear now that Europeans will increase their contributions to NATO. But Big Media totally ignored the trillion dollar gorilla in room: Why does anyone have to spend so much on NATO in the first place?

Are we planning a ground attack on Russia because we really think the former Soviet Empire will invade Poland or the Baltic nations? Are we planning for a land war in Europe to intervene in the Ukraine? What for is the money? The Trump administration and Big Media, for all their noise, mainly argue that more spending is good. There is no debate about the reasons why. Meanwhile Russia is cutting its military spending.

Trump Needs to Put Up or Shut Up on Russian Arms Race Let's See Who's Bluffing in the Criminal Case Against the Russians

Washington is so dominated by our military-industrial-congressional complex that spending money is a major intent. Remember when Washington first insisted that putting up an anti-missile system in Poland and Romania was supposed to protect Europe from an Iranian attack? Of course, it was really directed against Russia. Washington was so eager to spend the money that it didn't even ask the Europeans to pay the cost even though it was supposedly for their defense. As of 2016 Washington had spent $800 million on the site in Romania. Now it appears that Poland and Romania will pay billions to the Raytheon Corporation for the shield to comply with their commitment to increase military spending to 2 percent of gross national product.

There was no focus on the real, growing threat of nuclear war, intentional or accidental. No one, including journalists at the joint press conference, spoke about the collapsing missile treaties (the only one who reportedly seemed keen to discuss it was ejected beforehand). Scott Ritter details these alarming risks here on TAC .

The U.S. is now funding new cruise missiles with nukes which allow for a surprise attack on Russia with only a few minutes of warning, unlike the ICBMs which launch gives a half an hour or more. This was the reason Russia opposed the anti-missile system in Eastern Europe, because they could have little warning if cruise missiles were fired from the new bases. Americans may think that we don't start wars, but the Russians don't. The old shill argument that democracies don't start wars is belied by American attacks on Serbia, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.

For all the Democratic and Big Media attacks on Trump for supposedly caving in to Putin, he gave Putin nothing. His administration is still maintaining an increasingly stringent economic attack on Russian trade and banking, announcing (just days after his meeting) $200 million of new aid to Ukraine's military and threatening Europeans with sanctions if they go ahead with a new Baltic pipeline to import Russian natural gas. Consequently, some analysts believe that Putin has given up on wanting better relations with the U.S. and instead is just trying to weaken and discredit America's overwhelming power in the world. In a similar vein Rand Paul writes how we never think about other nations' interests. TAC argues we should "Forget Trump: The Military-Industrial Complex is Still Running the Show With Russia, " showing how Washington wants to keep Russia as an enemy because it's good for business.

Furthermore, releasing the accusations and indictments via a press already out for Trump's blood is explained away by pointing out that the special prosecutor has separate authority to that of the president. But the timing, a day before the Helsinki meeting, obviously shows intent to cause disarray and to prevent meaningful dialogue with Russia. It's interesting to note that TAC has been criticizing the "Deep State" since at least 2015.

The casualness with which much of Washington regards conflict and starting wars is only comparable to the thoughtlessness of Europeans when they started World War I. Like now, that war followed nearly a century of relative peace and prosperity. Both sides thought a war would be "easy" and over quickly and were engulfed in it because of minor incidents instigated by their small nation allies. It was started with a single assassination in Serbia. The situation is similar now. America is hostage to the actions of a host of tiny countries possibly starting a war. Think of our NATO obligations and promises to Taiwan and Israel.

America has become inured to the risks of escalation and Congress has ceded its war powers to the president. The authority of war power was one of the most important tenets of our Constitution, designed to prevent our rulers from irresponsibly launching conflicts like the European kings. Witness now how casually Trump talks about starting a war with Iran, with no thought of possible consequences, including blowing up oil facilities in the Persian Gulf, oil and gas vital for the world economy.

For most Americans, war means sitting in front of their TVs watching the bombs fall on small nations unable to resist or respond to our power. "We" kill thousands of "them" in easy battles and then worry if a single American soldier is harmed. We don't viscerally understand the full threat of modern weapons because they've never been used against us. This is not unlike World War I, for which the countries engaged were wholly unprepared for a protracted siege war against the lethality of new modern artillery and chemical weapons. All had assumed the war would be over in weeks. I wrote about these issues after visiting the battlefields of the Crimean war. (See " Lessons in Empire")

And so we continue careening towards more conflicts which can always lead to unintended consequences, ever closer to nuclear war. Meanwhile efforts for a dialogue with Russia are thwarted by our internal politics and dysfunction in Washington.

Mr. Utley is the publisher of The American Conservative 15 Responses to What Everyone Seemed to Ignore in Helsinki



Fran Macadam July 25, 2018 at 1:56 am

"And so we continue careening towards more conflicts which can always lead to unintended consequences, ever closer to nuclear war. Meanwhile efforts for a dialogue with Russia are thwarted by our internal politics and dysfunction in Washington."

Careful with such cavalier use of the truth. Someone is sure to point out Vlad said just the same, which means according to D.C. war profiteer sponsored consensus we should do exactly the opposite.

S , , July 25, 2018 at 2:01 am
Lovely article. One aspect of going to war for conquest over and over, is that it leads to moral deterioration. Defensive wars aren't that bad. I am not sure why we haven't seen any articles on TAC about this aspect -- is it that it's not a popular idea?
John S , , July 25, 2018 at 8:57 am
What an awful piece. Here's why:

"1) It's clear now that Europeans will increase their contributions to NATO."

No, they are not. Defense budgets are increasing -- very different, and it was happening already before Trump's tweets came along.

"2) There was no focus on the real, growing threat of nuclear war, intentional or accidental."

How do you know, since Trump hasn't told anyone what was discussed in Helsinki?

"3) For all the Democratic and Big Media attacks on Trump for supposedly caving in to Putin, he gave Putin nothing."

Trump abased himself before Putin. That's not nothing. And who knows what else he gave Putin behind closed doors. One must assume a lot since Trump is not out bragging about particulars.

"4) The release of intelligence agency findings about Russians' intervention in the last election just a day before the conference precisely shows the strength of the "Deep State" in dominating American foreign policy."

Trump personally approved the release of that intelligence.

TAC sure carries a lot of water for Trumpistan.

Johann , , July 25, 2018 at 9:10 am
The myth that NATO has kept Europe at peace since WWII (except for the Balkan war) is still alive and well. But really, it was the fear of nuclear weapons that kept the peace.
Christian Chuba , , July 25, 2018 at 9:21 am
It is the risk of war vs. the hidden agenda of trying to break Russia a second time.

The people who want to break Russia a second time really do believe that Russia is weak and unwilling to risk war under any circumstances. So they want to expand NATO, get into another arms race and wait for Russia to go bankrupt again. Rinse repeat China.

If we expand NATO, pull out of INF and even START, we can build missile bases near Russia's borders, reduce or eliminate their exports, we can drive their economy into overdrive. But this requires an information war to make it look like they are the aggressors while we are the ones implementing this strategy.

By 'we' I mean our entrenched Foreign Policy Establishment that blathers about the 'rules based world order' while we bomb any country we want whenever we want. Queue up another story on how they encroached on NATO airspace while flying to their enclave in Kaliningrad, look at a map, it's impossible not to so so.

Tying it back, they do not believe that there is any risk of war. They are wrong.

sean mcauliffe , , July 25, 2018 at 9:28 am
4 is not true.

https://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/07/russia-indictment-timing-trump-approved-not-mueller-attack.html

Kurt Gayle , , July 25, 2018 at 9:46 am
Jon Basil Utley makes an important point:

"The release of intelligence agency findings about Russians' intervention in the last election just a day before the conference precisely shows the strength of the 'Deep State' in dominating American foreign policy Releasing the accusations and indictments via a press already out for Trump's blood a day before the Helsinki meeting, obviously shows intent to cause disarray and to prevent meaningful dialogue with Russia."

To be sure, the 6-4-3 (Mueller to Rosenstein to Mainstream Media) double play appeared at first to be a real beauty. However, the video replay showed that the pitcher had not yet pitched the ball to the batter and that the shortstop Mueller, the second baseman Rosenstein, and the MSM first baseman had carried out their double play with a ball that Mueller had pulled out of his hip pocket. ("Hip pocket" is a polite euphemism for the proximate area of the Mueller anatomy from whence the ball was actually pulled.)

hetro , , July 25, 2018 at 11:00 am
@John S.

*"abased himself" is the popular demon meme of the moment -- how did he do that?

*you say we don't know what he said to Putin then assume you know he gave Putin something he should not have.

This is irrational assumption apparently born from a deep prejudice of some sort.

Michael Kenny , , July 25, 2018 at 11:49 am
The real question is what did Putin give Trump? Nothing, as far as can be seen. Efforts for a dialogue with Russia are thwarted by Putin's continued occupation of Ukrainian territory, with its implicit denial of the principle of the sovereign nation-state, which has been the building block of the European political order since the French Revolution. For Americans, given the history of the American continent, European nationalism and the nation-state are wholly incomprehensible concepts but they're very real to us in Europe. Those Americans who promote a poorly-understood European nationalism in the hope of destroying the EU are promoting the very war they so piously claim to oppose.
balconesfault , , July 25, 2018 at 12:30 pm
It's clear now that Europeans will increase their contributions to NATO. But Big Media totally ignored the trillion dollar gorilla in room: Why does anyone have to spend so much on NATO in the first place?

Why would you top post a commentor who so clearly doesn't understand the details of what he's discussing?

I mean -- such fundamental misunderstanding of the issues might qualify him to be the Republican nominee for President (and thanks to the Electoral College, the President) but it is beneath your editorial standards.

CLW , , July 25, 2018 at 1:41 pm
Enough of this "Deep State" nonsense: stop lambasting U.S. Federal law enforcement and intelligence professionals for calling out Trump's willful ignorance/intentional lies about Russia's malicious actions. Russian belligerence against the U.S. is a predictable and manageable problem, but only by a President (e.g., Reagan, Bush 41) who grasps the complexity of the issue and who can balance targeted confrontation and selective cooperation with Russia. Trump is inherently incapable of striking that balance, as Putin clearly understands, therefore U.S.-Russian relations will remain (usefully for Putin) confrontational for the near term.
One Guy , , July 25, 2018 at 2:57 pm
Why is it up to the media to address the elephant in the room? Shouldn't the media simply report what happened? Why doesn't Trump address the elephant in the room?
Freestater , , July 25, 2018 at 4:02 pm
Our grandparents and parents fought the Commies.
GOP throws that away in search of lower taxes and less regulation.
GOP elites belong to the international elite, namely the highest bidder.
Shame.
b. , , July 25, 2018 at 4:02 pm
"The release of intelligence agency findings about Russians' intervention in the last election just a day before the conference precisely shows the strength of the 'Deep State' in dominating American foreign policy"

Others have already pointed out that the facts might not back up that the timing was some elaborate plot, but even if this was a Derp State conspiracy on full display, it would probably be proof of the opposite -- this would have not been an indication of influence, control, domination, but a sign of weakness.

Like all conspiracy theories, "Deep State" implies competence, coordination, capability. Our problem appears to be that we have too many bureaucracies infighting with each other, and filled with too many shallow minds. Indeed, one could argue that 9/11 happened precisely because of this.

That said, the first half of the article makes a compelling case of the foreign policy aspect of the manufactured "Russia!" hysteria, and the existential threat originating with the nuclear sector of the war profiteering presidential-congressional-military-industrial complex -- "We end the world for money!" -- and the Great Gambler faction of the nelibcon biparty -- "We can win nuclear war!".

The other half of the national, collectivized insanity that is "Russia!" is the domestic fraud: the biggest threat to the integrity of our elections and the functions of our institutions of government is not Russia, but ourselves.

The semi-organized biparty mob -- the "Derp State" -- that is pushing the "Russia!" narrative as the Grant Unified Theory of US American Home-Made Failure is systematically destroying whatever is left of The People's confidence in our processes and institutions -- confidence in our ruling class had to have died before anybody considered voting for Trump -- and soon, we will find ourselves in a nation in which nobody can profess any trust in any elected representative without being accused of being a traitor or useful idiot.

Putin, for one, could never accomplish that. American Excess: Hamstring your political opponent? Worth It. Destroy democracy to protect it from The People? Priceless.

Ken Zaretzke , , July 25, 2018 at 4:34 pm
I wasn't aware that the U.s. Is finding new niclear-armed cruise missiles that would give Russia only minutes to respond to an attack, as opposed to a half hour with ICBMs. Russia only has to recalibrate its fully automated Doomsday Machine to target Warsaw, Berlin, and Cracow along with U.S. cities, and to shorten the time of response.

We have to ask whether the exponentially greater likelihood of nuclear holocaust by accident, which is what the U.S. would be bringing about by nuclear-arming cruise missiles, proves that the Deep State's lust for power is irrational bordering on madness.

[Jul 24, 2018] Trump Seeks Confrontation for Its Own Sake by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Rouhani is identifying the current administration policy of trying to strangle Iran's oil exports as a hostile act, a "declaration of war" by the U.S. against the Iranian people. Trump's hostility to Iran is such that he treats a verbal rebuke to a destructive policy he initiated as the same as a threat of attack, and he twists Rouhani's defensive statement into a call for war. ..."
"... Trump's outburst is not the response of someone interested in finding a diplomatic solution to tensions between our countries ..."
"... It is obviously the response of a belligerent bully who overreacts to the slightest opposition and seeks confrontation for its own sake. Trump's Iran obsession is extremely dangerous for both the U.S. and Iran, and it is poisoning relations with Iran for many years to come. ..."
Jul 24, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Golnar Motevalli gives the full context for the Rouhani statement that caused Trump to make his unhinged threat earlier this week:

Verbatim excerpts of what Rouhani said on Sunday. The entire statement was almost 2 hrs long. He didn't say he wants to "launch war", he said opposite but warned of what war would look like. He said US policy to choke Iran's economy is a US declaration of war against Iranians: pic.twitter.com/XcirZTWi4d

-- Golnar Motevalli (@golnarM) July 24, 2018

As I said Sunday night, it's clear that the statement from Rouhani wasn't a threat against the U.S. It was a warning not to take aggressive action against Iran. Furthermore, Rouhani is identifying the current administration policy of trying to strangle Iran's oil exports as a hostile act, a "declaration of war" by the U.S. against the Iranian people. Trump's hostility to Iran is such that he treats a verbal rebuke to a destructive policy he initiated as the same as a threat of attack, and he twists Rouhani's defensive statement into a call for war.

It shouldn't have to be said at this point, but Trump's outburst is not the response of someone interested in finding a diplomatic solution to tensions between our countries .

It is obviously the response of a belligerent bully who overreacts to the slightest opposition and seeks confrontation for its own sake. Trump's Iran obsession is extremely dangerous for both the U.S. and Iran, and it is poisoning relations with Iran for many years to come.

[Jul 22, 2018] Trump and the crisis of the neoliberal world order by Ashley Smith

A very interesting analysis from 2017
Notable quotes:
"... Financial Times ..."
"... Foreign Affairs ..."
"... A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order ..."
"... The American ruling class turned to neoliberalism after the failure of Keynesianism -- with its emphasis on state intervention and state-led development -- to overcome the economic crisis of the 1970s and restore profitability and growth in the system. Neoliberalism was not a conspiracy hatched by the Chicago School of Economics, but a strategy that developed in response to globalization and the end of the long postwar boom. ..."
"... For a period, the United States did indeed superintend a new global structure of world imperialism. It integrated most of the world's states into the neoliberal order it dubbed the Washington Consensus, using its international financial and trade institutions like the IMF, World Bank, and the World Trade Organization to compel all nations to adopt neoliberal policies that benefited a handful of powerful players. It used international loans and debt restructuring not only to remove trade and investment restrictions, but also to impose privatization and cuts in health, education, and other vital social services in states all over the world. The Pentagon deployed its military might to police and crush any so-called rogue states like Iraq. ..."
"... The Making of Global Capitalism ..."
"... Washington's attempt to lock in its dominance through its 2003 war and occupation of Iraq backfired. Even before launching the invasion, Bush recognized that the United States needed to do something to contain China and other rising rivals. In a sign of this growing awareness, he and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, rebranded China, which Clinton had called a strategic partner, as a strategic competitor. ..."
"... Bush used 9/11 as an opportunity to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, as part of a plan for serial "regime change" in the region. If it succeeded, the United States hoped it would be able to control rivals, particularly China, which is dependent on the region's strategic energy reserves. Instead, Washington suffered, in the words of General William Odom, the former head of the National Security Agency, its "greatest strategic disaster in American history." ..."
"... Iran, one of the projected targets for regime change in Bush's so-called "Axis of Evil," emerged as a beneficiary of the war. It secured a new ally in the form of the sectarian Shia fundamentalist regime in Iraq. And while the United States was bogged down in Iraq, China became increasingly assertive throughout the world, establishing new political and economic pacts throughout Latin America, the Middle East, and a number of African countries. ..."
"... Finally, the Great Recession of 2008 hammered the United States and its allies in the EU particularly hard. By contrast, Beijing's massive state intervention in the economy sustained its long boom and lifted the growth rates of countries in Latin America, Australia, Asia, and sections of Africa that exported raw materials to China. ..."
"... Trump's strategy to restore American dominance in the world is economic nationalism. This is the rational kernel within his erratic shell of bizarre tweets and rants. He wants to combine neoliberalism at home with protectionism against foreign competition. It is a position that breaks with the American establishment's grand strategy of superintending free-trade globalization. ..."
"... Demagogic appeals to labor aside, Trump is doing none of this for the benefit of American workers. His program is intended to restore the competitive position of American capital, particularly manufacturing, against its rivals, especially in China but also in Germany. ..."
"... This economic nationalism is paired with a promise to rearm the American military, which he views as having been weakened by Obama. Thus, Trump has announced plans to increase military spending by $54 billion. He wants to use this 9 percent increase in the military budget to build up the Navy and to modernize and expand the nuclear arsenal, even if that provokes other powers to do the same. As he quipped in December, "Let it be an arms race." 21 Trump's fire-breathing chief strategist, former Brietbart editor Steve Bannon, went so far as to promise, "We're going to war in the South China Sea in five to ten years. There's no doubt about that." 22 ..."
"... Trump threatens a significant break with some previously hallowed institutions of US foreign policy. He has called NATO outdated. This declaration is really just a bargaining position to get the alliance's other members to increase their military spending. Thus, both his secretary of state and defense secretary have repeatedly reassured European states that the United States remains committed to NATO. More seriously, he denounced the EU as merely a vehicle for German capital. Thus, he supports various right-wing populist parties in Europe running on a promise to imitate Britain and leave the EU. ..."
"... Trump's "transactional" approach comes out most clearly in his stated approach to international alliances and blocs. He promises to evaluate all multilateral alliances and trade blocs from the standpoint of American interests against rivals. He will scrap some, replacing them with bilateral arrangements, and renegotiate others. Much of the establishment has reacted in horror to these threats, denouncing them as a retreat from Washington's responsibilities to its allies. ..."
"... Hoping that he can split Russia away from China and neutralize it as a lesser power, Trump then wants to confront China with tariffs and military challenges to its assertion of control of the South China Sea. Incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has already threatened to deny China access to its newly-built island bases in the South China Sea. ..."
"... On top of all this, multinational capital opposes his protectionism. Of course almost all capital is more overjoyed at his domestic neoliberalism, a fact demonstrated in the enormous stock market expansion, but they see his proposals of tariffs, renegotiation of NAFTA, and scrapping of the TPP and the TTIP as threats to their global production, service, and investment strategies. They consider his house economist, Peter Navarro, to be a crackpot. ..."
"... Beneath the governmental shell, whole sections of the unelected state bureaucracy -- what has been ominously described as the "deep state" -- also oppose Trump as a threat to their interests. He has openly attacked the CIA and FBI and threatens enormous cuts to the State Department as well as other key bureaucracies responsible for managing state policy at home and abroad. Many of these bureaucrats have engaged in a campaign of leaks, especially of Trump's connections with the Russian state. ..."
"... One of Trump's key allies, Newt Gingrich, gives a sense of how Trump's backers are framing the dispute with these institutions. "We're up against a permanent bureaucratic structure defending itself and quite willing to break the law to do so," he told the New York Times ..."
"... The Democratic Party selectively opposes some of Trump's program. But, instead of attacking him on his manifold reactionary policies, they have portrayed him as Putin's "Manchurian Candidate," posturing as the defenders of US power willing to stand up to Russia. ..."
"... Even if Trump weathers the storm of this resistance from above and below, his foreign policy could flounder on its own internal conflicts and inconsistencies. To take one example: his policy of collaboration with Russia in Syria could flounder on his simultaneous commitment to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran. Why? Because Iran is a Russian ally in the region. Most disturbingly, if the Trump administration goes into a deeper crisis, it will double down on its bigoted scapegoating of immigrants and Muslims to deflect attention from its failures. ..."
"... China is accelerating the transformation of its economy. It seeks to push out multinationals that have used it as an export-processing platform and replace them with its own state-owned and private corporations, which, like Germany, will export its surplus manufactured goods to the rest of the world market. 31 No wonder, then, that a survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce found that 80 percent of American multinationals consider China inhospitable for business. ..."
"... China is also aggressively trying to supplant the United States as the economic hegemon in Asia. Immediately after Trump nixed the TPP, China appealed to states in the Asia Pacific region to sign on to its alternative trade treaty, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). China is determined to challenge American imperial rule of the Asia Pacific. Though its navy is far smaller than Washington's, it plans to accelerate efforts to build up its regional naval power against Trump's threats to block Chinese access to the strategic islands in the South China Sea. ..."
"... Financial Times ..."
"... Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy ..."
"... Wall Street's Think Tank: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics ..."
"... Foreign Affairs ..."
"... A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order ..."
"... International Socialism Journal ..."
"... Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance ..."
"... International Socialist Review ..."
"... Imperialism and World Economy, ..."
"... International Socialist Review ..."
"... A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and the State in a Transitional World ..."
"... International Socialist Review ..."
"... Foreign Affairs ..."
"... International Socialist Review ..."
"... USA Today ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... The Progressive ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Socialist Worker ..."
"... Socialist Worker ..."
Jul 22, 2018 | isreview.org

The neoliberal world order of free-trade globalization that the United States has pioneered since the end of the Cold War is in crisis. The global slump, triggered by the 2007 Great Recession, has intensified competition not only between corporations, but also between the states that represent them and whose disagreements over the terms of trade have paralyzed the World Trade Organization. Similar conflicts between states have disrupted regional free-trade deals and regional blocs. Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement failed to come to a vote in Congress, and now Trump has scrapped it. The vote for Brexit in the United Kingdom is a precedent that could lead other states to bolt from the European Union. Rising international tensions, especially between the United States, China, and Russia, fill the daily headlines.

Indeed, the world has entered a new period of imperialism. As discussed in previous articles in this journal, the unipolar world order based on the dominance of the United States, which has been eroding for some time, has been replaced by an asymmetric multipolar

world order. The United States remains the only superpower, and possesses by far the largest military reach, but it faces a global rival in China and a host of lesser rivals like Russia. And the competition between nation-states over the balance of geopolitical and economic power is intensifying.

The multiple crises and conflicts have also confronted all the world's states with the largest migration crisis in history. Over fifty million migrants and refugees are fleeing economies devastated by neoliberalism, the economic crisis, political instability, and in the case of the Middle East -- especially Syria -- counterrevolution against the Arab Spring uprisings. The bourgeois establishment and their right-wing challengers have scapegoated these migrants in country after country.

All of this has destabilized bourgeois politics throughout the world, opening the door to both the Left and the Right posing as alternatives to the establishment. In the United States, Donald Trump won the presidency with the promise to "Make America Great Again" by putting "America First." He threatens to retreat from the post-Cold War grand strategy of the United States overseeing the international free-trade regime, in favor of economic nationalism and what has been described as a "transactional" approach to international politics.

While Trump aims to continue certain neoliberal policies at home (such as deregulation, privatization, and tax cuts for the wealthy), his international policies represent a significant shift away from global "free trade." He has promised to rip up or renegotiate free-trade deals and impose protectionist tariffs on economic competitors. To enforce this, he wants to rearm the American military to push back against all rivals -- China in particular -- and conduct what he depicts in racist fashion a civilizational war against Islam in the Middle East. He marries this militaristic nationalism to a bigoted campaign of scapegoating against immigrants, Muslims, Blacks, women, and all other oppressed groups.

Panic in the imperial brain trust

The architects and ideologues of American imperialism recognize that their grand strategy is in crisis, and worry that Trump's new stand will only magnify it. The Financial Times ' Martin Wolf declares,

We are, in short, at the end of both an economic period -- that of western-led globalization -- and a geopolitical one -- the post-cold war "unipolar moment" of a US-led global order. The question is whether what follows will be an unraveling of the post-second world war era into de-globalization and conflict, as happened in the first half of the 20th century, or a new period in which non-western powers, especially China and India, play a bigger role in sustaining a co-operative global order. 1

Obama's favorite neocon Robert Kagan warns that Washington's retreat from managing the world system risks "backing into World War III," the title of the piece in which he writes:

Think of two significant trend lines in the world today. One is the increasing ambition and activism of the two great revisionist powers, Russia and China. The other is the declining confidence, capacity, and will of the democratic world, and especially of the United States, to maintain the dominant position it has held in the international system since 1945. As those two lines move closer, as the declining will and capacity of the United States and its allies to maintain the present world order meet the increasing desire and capacity of the revisionist powers to change it, we will reach the moment at which the existing order collapses and the world descends into a phase of brutal anarchy, as it has three times in the past two centuries. The cost of that descent, in lives and treasure, in lost freedoms and lost hope, will be staggering. 2

In somewhat more measured tones, the imperial brain trust of American imperialism, the Council on Foreign Relations, is using their journal, Foreign Affairs , to oppose Trump and defend the existing neoliberal order with minor modifications. 3 Stewart Patrick, for example, worries that Trump has laid-out

no broader vision of the Unites States' traditional role as defender of the free world, much less outline how the country play that part. In foreign policy and economics, he has made clear that the pursuit of narrow national advantage will guide his policies -- apparently regardless of the impact on the liberal world order that the United States has championed since 1945. That order was fraying well before November 8. It had been battered from without by challenges from China and Russia and weakened from within by economic malaise in Japan and crises in Europe, including the epochal Brexit vote last year. No one knows what Trump will do as president. But as a candidate, he vowed to shake up world politics by reassessing long-standing U.S. alliances, ripping up existing U.S. trade deals, raising trade barriers against China, disavowing the Paris climate agreement, and repudiating the nuclear accord with Iran. Should he follow through on these provocative plans, Trump will unleash forces beyond his control, sharpening the crisis of the Western-centered order.

The Council's Gideon Rose fears that Trump is introducing "damaging uncertainty into everything from international commerce to nuclear deterrence. At worst, it could cause other countries to lose faith in the order's persistence and start to hedge their bets, distancing themselves from the Unites States, making side deals with China and Russia, and adopting beggar-thy-neighbor programs." 4

But the Council and the rest of the foreign policy establishment have little to offer as a solution to the crisis they describe. For example, the Council on Foreign Relations' president, Richard Haass's, new book, A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order , produces little more than tactical maneuvers designed to incorporate America's rivals into the existing neoliberal order. 5 But it is within that very order that the United States has undergone relative decline against its increasingly assertive rivals, especially China.

Neoliberalism's solution to the crisis last time

The American ruling class turned to neoliberalism after the failure of Keynesianism -- with its emphasis on state intervention and state-led development -- to overcome the economic crisis of the 1970s and restore profitability and growth in the system. Neoliberalism was not a conspiracy hatched by the Chicago School of Economics, but a strategy that developed in response to globalization and the end of the long postwar boom.

The US ruling class adopted what later came to be known as neoliberalism in coherent form under the regimes of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in Britain. 6 Neoliberalism had domestic and international dimensions. At home, the mantra was privatization and deregulation. The ruling class got rid of regulations on capital and launched a war against workers. They privatized state-run businesses as well as traditionally state-run institutions like prisons and schools. They busted unions, drove down wages, and cut the welfare state to ribbons.

Abroad, the United States expanded the program of "free trade" they had pursued since the end of World War II. Seeking cheap labor, resources, and markets, Washington used its dominance of international institutions to pry open national economies throughout the world. It aimed first to incorporate its allies, then its antagonists in this neoliberal world order, with the promise that it would work in the interests of "the capitalist class" around the world. As Henry Kissinger once remarked, "What is called globalization is really another name for the dominant role of the United States." 7 These domestic and international policies overcame the crises of the 1970s and ushered in a period of economic expansion (interrupted by a few recessions) that lasted from the early 1980s through to the early 2000s. 8

The brief unipolar moment

Unable to keep pace with the West's economic expansion and the Reagan administration's massive rearmament program, and beset by its own internal contradictions, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and the Cold War's bipolar geopolitical order came to an end. The United States hoped to establish a new unipolar world order in which it would solidify its position as the world's sole remaining, and unassailable, superpower.

For a period, the United States did indeed superintend a new global structure of world imperialism. It integrated most of the world's states into the neoliberal order it dubbed the Washington Consensus, using its international financial and trade institutions like the IMF, World Bank, and the World Trade Organization to compel all nations to adopt neoliberal policies that benefited a handful of powerful players. It used international loans and debt restructuring not only to remove trade and investment restrictions, but also to impose privatization and cuts in health, education, and other vital social services in states all over the world. The Pentagon deployed its military might to police and crush any so-called rogue states like Iraq.

Amidst the heady days of this unipolar moment, much of the left abandoned the classical Marxist theory of imperialism developed chiefly by the early twentieth century Russian revolutionaries Vladimir Lenin and Nikolai Bukharin. In brief, Lenin and Bukharin argued that capitalist development transformed economic competition into interstate rivalry and war for the political and economic division and redivision of the world system between the dominant capitalist powers vying for hegemony. 9

"The development of world capitalism leads," wrote Bukharin, "on the one hand, to an internationalization of the economic life and, on the other, to the leveling of economic differences, and to an infinitely greater degree, the same process of economic development intensifies the tendency to 'nationalize' capitalist interests, to form narrow 'national' groups armed to the teeth and ready to hurl themselves at one another at any moment." 10

Imperialism was a product of the interplay between the creation of a world market and the division of the world between national states, and as such was a product of the system rather than simply a policy of a particular state or party. This was in contrast to the German socialist Karl Kautsky, who argued that imperialism was a policy favored by some sections of the capitalists but which ran against the interests of ruling classes as a whole, which, as a result of the economic integration of the world market, had a greater interest in peaceful competition.

The new period of globalized capitalism produced new theories that rejected Lenin and Bukharin's approach. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri argued in their 2000 book that globalization had replaced imperialism with a new structure of domination they termed empire. Nonstate networks of power, like international financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, were now, in an era where states were increasingly powerless, the dominant world players. 11 "The United States does not, and indeed no nation-state can today, form the center of an imperialist project," they famously wrote in the preface. 12 Others took the argument further, maintaining that a system of globalized transnational production and trade was fast displacing states, including Washington, as influential centers of power. 13

On the other extreme, Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin argue in their 2012 book The Making of Global Capitalism that the American state organized globalization and integrated all the world's states as vassals of its informal empire. 14 Though diametrically opposed at the start, these arguments ended with the same conclusion -- inter-imperial rivalries between the world's leading states, including the potential for them to spill over into military conflict -- are not a necessary outcome of capitalism; and today those rivalries are a thing of the past.

The return of rivalry in an asymmetric world order

Developments in the real world -- such as the Bush administration's 2001 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, and two years later of Iraq -- viscerally disproved these arguments. Indeed, changes in the real world were already undermining the foundations of the postwar world order that Kagan and others are frantically holding up against Trump's "America First" nationalism.

Washington's drive to cement its hegemony in a unipolar world order was undermined in several ways. The neoliberal boom from the early 1980s to the 2000s produced new centers of capital accumulation. China is the paradigmatic example. After it abandoned autarkic state capitalism in favor of state-managed production for the world market, it transformed itself from a backwater producer to the new workshop of the world. It vaulted from producing about 1.9 percent 15 of global GDP in 1979 to about 15 percent in 2016. 16 It is now the second-largest economy in the world and predicted to overtake the United States as the largest economy in the coming years.

But China was not the sole beneficiary of the neoliberal expansion. Brazil and other regional economies also developed. And Russia, after suffering an enormous collapse of its empire and its economic power in the 1990s, managed to rebuild itself as a petro-power with disproportionate geopolitical influence because of its nuclear arsenal. Of course, whole sections of the world system did not develop at all, but instead suffered dispossession and economic catastrophe.

Washington's attempt to lock in its dominance through its 2003 war and occupation of Iraq backfired. Even before launching the invasion, Bush recognized that the United States needed to do something to contain China and other rising rivals. In a sign of this growing awareness, he and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, rebranded China, which Clinton had called a strategic partner, as a strategic competitor. 17

Bush used 9/11 as an opportunity to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, as part of a plan for serial "regime change" in the region. If it succeeded, the United States hoped it would be able to control rivals, particularly China, which is dependent on the region's strategic energy reserves. Instead, Washington suffered, in the words of General William Odom, the former head of the National Security Agency, its "greatest strategic disaster in American history." 18

Iran, one of the projected targets for regime change in Bush's so-called "Axis of Evil," emerged as a beneficiary of the war. It secured a new ally in the form of the sectarian Shia fundamentalist regime in Iraq. And while the United States was bogged down in Iraq, China became increasingly assertive throughout the world, establishing new political and economic pacts throughout Latin America, the Middle East, and a number of African countries.

Russia also took advantage of American setbacks to reassert its power against EU and NATO expansionism in Eastern Europe. It went to war against US ally Georgia in 2008. In Central Asia, China and Russia came together to form a new alliance, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. They postured against American imperialism in their own imperial interests.

Finally, the Great Recession of 2008 hammered the United States and its allies in the EU particularly hard. By contrast, Beijing's massive state intervention in the economy sustained its long boom and lifted the growth rates of countries in Latin America, Australia, Asia, and sections of Africa that exported raw materials to China.

This was the high-water mark of the so-called BRICS -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The lesser powers in this bloc hitched their star to Chinese imperialism, exporting their commodities to fuel China's industrial expansion. Together they launched the BRICS bank, officially known as the New Development Bank, and China added another, the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, as alternatives to the IMF and World Bank. The recent Chinese slowdown and the consequent drop in commodity prices have, however, hammered the economies of many of the BRICS.

These developments cracked the unipolar moment and replaced it with today's asymmetric world order. The United States remains the world's sole superpower; but it now faces an international rival in China and in lesser powers like Russia. It must also wrestle with regional powers that pursue their own interests, sometimes in sync with Washington and other times at odds with it.

Obama's failure to restore dominance

The Obama administration came to power with the hopes of restoring the credibility and standing of American power in the wake of Bush's disasters in the Middle East. It implemented a combined program of stimulus and austerity to restore growth and profitability. By imposing a two-tier wage structure on the auto industry, it set a precedent for competitive reindustrialization in the United States, and launched the massive fracking expansion to provide cheap domestic energy to US corporations.

Intending to extract the United States from its costly and inconclusive ground wars in the Middle East, Obama turned to air power, shifting the focus of the so-called War on Terror to drone strikes, Special Force operations, and air support for US proxy forces in different countries.

Once disentangled from Bush's occupations, Obama planned to conduct the ballyhooed "pivot to Asia" to contain China's ongoing rise, bolster Washington's political and military alliance with Japan and South Korea, and prevent their economic incorporation into China's growing sphere of influence. The now dead Trans-Pacific Partnership was meant to ensure American economic hegemony in the region, which would then be backed up militarily with the deployment of 60 percent of the US Navy to the Asia Pacific region. 19 Obama also began to push back against Russian opposition to the EU and NATO expansion into Eastern Europe -- hence the standoff over Ukraine.

But Obama was unable to fully implement any of this because US forces remained bogged down in the spiraling crisis in the Middle East. Retreating from the Bush administration's policy of regime change to balancing between the existing states, Obama, while continuing to support historic US allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, at the same time struck a deal with Iran over its nuclear program. But this strategy was undermined by the Arab Spring, the regimes' counterrevolutions, attempts by regional powers to manipulate the rebellion for their own ends, and the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The United States has been unable to resolve many of these developing crises on its own terms.

Now Russia, after having suffered a long-term decline of its power in the region, has managed to reassert itself through its intervention in Syria in support of Assad's counterrevolution. It is now a broker in the Syrian "peace process" and a new player in the broader Middle East.

While the United States continued to suffer relative decline, China and Russia became even more assertive. Russia took Crimea, which provoked the United States and Germany to impose sanctions on the Kremlin. China intensified its economic deal making throughout the world, increasing its foreign direct investment from a paltry $17.2 billion in 2005 to $187 billion in 2015. 20 At the same time, it engaged in a massive buildup of its navy and air force (though its military is still dwarfed by the US) and constructed new military bases on various islands to control the shipping lanes, fisheries, and potential oil fields in the South China Sea.

Obama did manage to oversee the recovery of the US economy, and China has suffered an economic slowdown. That has dramatically reversed the economic fortunes of the BRICS, in particular Brazil, which has experienced economic collapse and a right-wing governmental coup. The drop in oil prices that accompanied the Chinese slowdown also hammered the OPEC states as well as Russia.

But China's slowdown has not reversed Beijing's economic and geopolitical ascension. In fact, China is in the process of rebalancing its economy to replace multinational investment, expand its domestic market, and increase production for export to the rest of the world. The aim is to increase its ability to compete with the United States and the EU at all levels.

Thus, well before Trump's election, the United States had been mired in foreign policy problems that it seemed incapable of resolving.

Trump's break with neoliberalism

Trump's strategy to restore American dominance in the world is economic nationalism. This is the rational kernel within his erratic shell of bizarre tweets and rants. He wants to combine neoliberalism at home with protectionism against foreign competition. It is a position that breaks with the American establishment's grand strategy of superintending free-trade globalization.

Inside the United States, Trump aims to double down on some aspects of neoliberalism. He plans to cut taxes on the rich, rip up government regulations that "hamper" business interests, expand Obama's fracking program to provide corporations cheaper energy, and to go after public sector unions. He also wants to invest $1 trillion to modernize the country's decrepit infrastructure. While his Gestapo assault on immigrants is less popular among the business class, they are salivating over the tax and regulatory cuts. Trump hopes with these economic carrots to lure American manufacturing companies back to the United States.

At the same time, however, Trump wants to upend the neoliberal Washington Consensus. He is threatening to impose tariffs on American corporations that move their production to other countries. He has already nixed the TPP and intends to do the same to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe. He promises to renegotiate NAFTA with Mexico and Canada to secure better terms, and, in response to Chinese and EU protectionism, he threatens to impose a border tax of 45 percent on Chinese and others countries' exports to the United States. These measures could trigger a trade war.

Demagogic appeals to labor aside, Trump is doing none of this for the benefit of American workers. His program is intended to restore the competitive position of American capital, particularly manufacturing, against its rivals, especially in China but also in Germany.

This economic nationalism is paired with a promise to rearm the American military, which he views as having been weakened by Obama. Thus, Trump has announced plans to increase military spending by $54 billion. He wants to use this 9 percent increase in the military budget to build up the Navy and to modernize and expand the nuclear arsenal, even if that provokes other powers to do the same. As he quipped in December, "Let it be an arms race." 21 Trump's fire-breathing chief strategist, former Brietbart editor Steve Bannon, went so far as to promise, "We're going to war in the South China Sea in five to ten years. There's no doubt about that." 22

Trump also plans to intensify what he sees as a civilizational war with Islam. This will likely involve ripping up the nuclear deal with Iran, intensifying the war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and conducting further actions against al Qaeda internationally. It will also likely involve doubling down on Washington's alliance with Israel. Trump's appointment as ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is actually to the right of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 23 Trump has already begun escalating the ongoing war on Muslims conducted by the last two administrations, with his executive orders that are in effect an anti-Muslim ban and have increased the profiling, surveillance, and harassment of Muslims throughout the country.

To pay for this military expansion, the Trump administration, in Bannon's phrase, plans to carry out the "deconstruction of the administrative state." Thus, the administration has appointed heads of departments, like Ed Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, whose main purpose is to gut them. 24 No doubt this will entail massive cuts to social programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Trump threatens a significant break with some previously hallowed institutions of US foreign policy. He has called NATO outdated. This declaration is really just a bargaining position to get the alliance's other members to increase their military spending. Thus, both his secretary of state and defense secretary have repeatedly reassured European states that the United States remains committed to NATO. More seriously, he denounced the EU as merely a vehicle for German capital. Thus, he supports various right-wing populist parties in Europe running on a promise to imitate Britain and leave the EU.

Trump's "transactional" approach comes out most clearly in his stated approach to international alliances and blocs. He promises to evaluate all multilateral alliances and trade blocs from the standpoint of American interests against rivals. He will scrap some, replacing them with bilateral arrangements, and renegotiate others. Much of the establishment has reacted in horror to these threats, denouncing them as a retreat from Washington's responsibilities to its allies.

In a departure from Obama's policy toward Russia, Trump intends to create a more transactional relationship with the Kremlin. He does not view Russia as the main threat; he believes that is China. In addition to considering cutting a deal with Russia to drop sanctions over its seizure of Crimea, he wants to collaborate with Putin in a joint war against ISIS in Syria.

Hoping that he can split Russia away from China and neutralize it as a lesser power, Trump then wants to confront China with tariffs and military challenges to its assertion of control of the South China Sea. Incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has already threatened to deny China access to its newly-built island bases in the South China Sea.

Trump's economic nationalism leads directly to his "fortress America" policies. These policies chiefly target Muslims and immigrants, but they should not be seen in isolation from other domestic policies. With the wave of protests against his attacks that emerged from the moment he stepped into office, Trump and his allies in state governments have introduced bills that impose increasing restrictions on the right to protest and give the police a license for repression with impunity. Thus the corollary of his "America First" imperialism abroad is authoritarianism at home.

Can Trump succeed?

Trump faces a vast array of obstacles that could stop him from implementing his new strategy. To begin with, he is an unpopular president with an approval rating hovering below 40 percent in his first months in office. He and his crony capitalist cabinet will no doubt face many scandals, compromising their ability to push through their agenda.

He may be his own biggest obstacle. His 6 A.M. tweets are signs of someone more concerned with his celebrity status than imperial statecraft. He has already lost his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, due to Flynn's failure to disclose his communication with Russian diplomats during the campaign, and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions took heat on similar charges, forcing him to recuse himself from any investigations of the Trump campaign with the Kremlin.

There are also real economic challenges to his ability to follow through on his economic program. He simultaneously promises to cut taxes for the wealthy, spend hundreds of millions on domestic infrastructure (not to mention the billions it would cost to build a wall along the US–Mexico border), and cut the deficit. This does not square with economic reality.

On top of all this, multinational capital opposes his protectionism. Of course almost all capital is more overjoyed at his domestic neoliberalism, a fact demonstrated in the enormous stock market expansion, but they see his proposals of tariffs, renegotiation of NAFTA, and scrapping of the TPP and the TTIP as threats to their global production, service, and investment strategies. They consider his house economist, Peter Navarro, to be a crackpot. 25

Even his cabinet opposes much of his program. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified that he supports the TTP and American obligations to its NATO allies in Europe, including recent deployments of American troops to Poland. And Trump's Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis disagrees with Trump's proposal to rip up the nuclear treaty with Iran.

Beneath the governmental shell, whole sections of the unelected state bureaucracy -- what has been ominously described as the "deep state" -- also oppose Trump as a threat to their interests. He has openly attacked the CIA and FBI and threatens enormous cuts to the State Department as well as other key bureaucracies responsible for managing state policy at home and abroad. Many of these bureaucrats have engaged in a campaign of leaks, especially of Trump's connections with the Russian state.

One of Trump's key allies, Newt Gingrich, gives a sense of how Trump's backers are framing the dispute with these institutions. "We're up against a permanent bureaucratic structure defending itself and quite willing to break the law to do so," he told the New York Times . 26 Thus, the core of the capitalist state is at least attempting to constrain Trump, bring down some of his appointees and may, if they see it as necessary, do the same to Trump himself. At the very least, these extraordinary divisions at the top create a sense of insecurity, and open up space for questioning and struggle from below.

The Democratic Party selectively opposes some of Trump's program. But, instead of attacking him on his manifold reactionary policies, they have portrayed him as Putin's "Manchurian Candidate," posturing as the defenders of US power willing to stand up to Russia. As Glenn Greenwald writes, the Democrats are

not "resisting" Trump from the left or with populist appeals -- by, for instance, devoting themselves toprotection ofWall Street and environmental regulations under attack , or supporting the revocation of jobs-killing free trade agreements, or demanding that Yemini civilians not be massacred. Instead, they're attacking him on the grounds of insufficient nationalism, militarism, and aggression: equating a desire to avoid confrontation with Moscow as a form of treason (just like they did when they were the leading Cold Warriors).

This is why they're finding such common cause with the nation's most bloodthirsty militarists -- not because it's an alliance of convenience but rather one of shared convictions (indeed, long before Trump, neocons were planning a re-alignment with Democrats under a Clinton presidency). 27

Republicans also object to many of Trump's initiatives. For example, John McCain has attacked his cozy relationship with the Kremlin. And neoliberals in the Republican Party support the TPP and free trade globalization in general. The neocon Max Boot has gone so far as to support the Democrat's call for a special counsel to investigate Trump's collusion with Putin. He explains,

There is a good reason why Trump and his partisans are so apoplectic about the prospect of a special counsel, and it is precisely why it is imperative to appoint one: because otherwise we will never know the full story of the Kremlin's tampering with our elections and of the Kremlin's connections with the president of the United States. As evidenced by his desperate attempts to change the subject, Trump appears petrified of what such a probe would reveal. 28

Even if Trump weathers the storm of this resistance from above and below, his foreign policy could flounder on its own internal conflicts and inconsistencies. To take one example: his policy of collaboration with Russia in Syria could flounder on his simultaneous commitment to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran. Why? Because Iran is a Russian ally in the region. Most disturbingly, if the Trump administration goes into a deeper crisis, it will double down on its bigoted scapegoating of immigrants and Muslims to deflect attention from its failures.

Economic nationalism beyond Trump?

While Trump's contradictions could stymie his ability to impose his economic nationalist program, that program is not going to disappear any more than the problems it is intended to address. The reality is that the United States faces continued decline in the neoliberal world order. China, even taking into account the many contradictions it faces, continues to benefit from the current setup.

That's why, in an ironic twist of historic proportions, Chinese premier Xi Jing Ping defended the Washington Consensus in his country's first address at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. He even went so far as to promise to come to the rescue of free-trade globalization if the Trump administration abandoned it. "No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war ," he declared. "Pursuing protectionism is just like locking one's self in a dark room. Wind and rain may be kept outside, but so are light and air." 29

One of his underlings, Zhang Jun, remarked, "If anyone were to say China is playing a leadership role in the world I would say it's not China rushing to the front but rather the front runners have stepped back leaving the place to China. If China is required to play that leadership role then China will assume its responsibilities." 30

China is accelerating the transformation of its economy. It seeks to push out multinationals that have used it as an export-processing platform and replace them with its own state-owned and private corporations, which, like Germany, will export its surplus manufactured goods to the rest of the world market. 31 No wonder, then, that a survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce found that 80 percent of American multinationals consider China inhospitable for business. 32

China is also aggressively trying to supplant the United States as the economic hegemon in Asia. Immediately after Trump nixed the TPP, China appealed to states in the Asia Pacific region to sign on to its alternative trade treaty, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). China is determined to challenge American imperial rule of the Asia Pacific. Though its navy is far smaller than Washington's, it plans to accelerate efforts to build up its regional naval power against Trump's threats to block Chinese access to the strategic islands in the South China Sea.

All of this was underway before Trump. That's why Obama was already inching toward some of Trump's policies. He initiated the pivot to Asia, deployed the US Navy to the region, and imposed tariffs on Chinese steel and tires. He also complained about NATO countries and others freeloading on American military largesse. He thus encouraged Japan's rearmament and deployments of its forces abroad. He also began the move to on-shoring manufacturing based on a low-wage America with cheap energy and revitalized infrastructure.

So it's imaginable that another figure could take up and repackage Trump's economic nationalism. Regardless of whether this happens or not, it is clear that there is a trajectory deep in the dynamics of the world system toward interimperial rivalry between the United States and its main imperialist challenger, China. Obviously there are countervailing forces that mitigate the tendency toward military conflict between them. The high degree of economic integration makes the ruling classes hesitant to risk war. And, because all the major states are nuclear powers, each is reluctant to risk armed conflicts turning into mutual annihilation.

... ... ...


  1. Martin Wolf, "The Long and Painful Journey to World Disorder," Financial Times , January 5, 2017, www.ft.com/content/ef13e61a-ccec-11e6-b8... .
  2. Robert Kagan, "Backing Into World War III," Foreign Policy , February 6, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/06/back... .
  3. For background on this key institution of American imperialism see Laurence H. Shoup and William Minter, Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy (New York: Authors Choice Press, 2004), and Laurence H. Shoup, Wall Street's Think Tank: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2015).
  4. Gideon Rose, "Out of Order," Foreign Affairs (January–February, 2017).
  5. Richard Haass, A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order (New York: Penguin Press, 2017).
  6. For one of the best accounts of neoliberalism as a response to globalization and a strategy to overcome the crisis of the 1970s, see Neil Davidson, "The Neoliberal Era in Britain: Historical Developments and Current Perspectives," International Socialism Journal , no. 139 (2013), http://isj.org.uk/the-neoliberal-era-in-... .
  7. Lecture at Trinity College, Dublin, Oct. 12, 1999, cited by Sam Gindin in "Social Justice and Globalization: Are They Compatible?" Monthly Review , June 2002, 11.
  8. For an account of the neoliberal boom and consequent crisis and slump, see David McNally, Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2010).
  9. For a summary of the classical theory of imperialism, see Phil Gasper, "Lenin and Bukharin on Imperialism," International Socialist Review , no. 100 (May 2009), http://isreview.org/issue/100/lenin-and-... .
  10. Nikolai Bukharin, Imperialism and World Economy, chapter 8, "World Economy and the Nation State," at www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/... .
  11. For a summary and critique of Hardt and Negri's ideas see Tom Lewis, "Empire strikes out," International Socialist Review , no. 24 (July–August 2002), www.isreview.org/issues/24/empire_strike... .
  12. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2000), xiii–xiv.
  13. See, for example, William Robinson, A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and the State in a Transitional World (Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins, 2004).
  14. See Ashley Smith, "Global empire or imperialism?" International Socialist Review , no 92 (Spring 2014), http://isreview.org/issue/92 .
  15. Justin Yifu Lin, "China and the Global Economy," Remarks at the Conference "Asia's Role in the Post-Crisis Global Economy," November 29, 2011, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/s... .
  16. Tim Worstall, "China's Only 15% of the Global Economy But Contributes 25-30% of Global Growth," Forbes , October 30, 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/10... .
  17. Susan Rice, "Campaign 2000: Promoting the National Interest," Foreign Affairs , January/February 2000, www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2000-01-... .
  18. Cited in Patrick Cockburn, The Occupation (London: Verso, 2006), 4.
  19. Ashley Smith, "US Imperialism's Pivot to Asia," International Socialist Review , no. 88, January 2009, http://isreview.org/issue/88/us-imperial... .
  20. Roger Yu, "China Eyes Global Economic Leadership as U.S. Turns Inwards," USA Today , March 1, 2017, www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/0... .
  21. Ed Pilkington and Martin Pengelly, "'Let it Be an Arms Race': Donald Trump Appears to Double Down on Nuclear Expansion," The Guardian , December 24, 2016, www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/23/... .
  22. Max Fisher, "Trump's Military Ambition: Raw Power as a Means and an End," New York Times , March 3, 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/world/america... .
  23. Stephen Zunes, "Trump's Frightening Picks for U.S. Policy in the Middle East," The Progressive , December 22, 2016, http://progressive.org/dispatches/trump-... .
  24. Phillip Rucker and Robert Costa, "Bannon Vows Daily Fight for the "Deconstruction of the Administrative State," Washington Post , February 23, 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/politics/top-wh-s... .
  25. John Tammy, "Peter Navarro is Providing Donald Trump with Very Dangerous Economic Advice," Forbes , September 18, 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/johntamny/2016/09/1... .
  26. Julie Hirschfeld Davis, "Rumblings of a 'Deep State' Undermining Trump? It Was Once a Foreign Concept," New York Times , March 6, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/us/po... .
  27. Glenn Greenwald, "Democrats Now Demonize the Same Russia Policies that Obama Long Championed," The Intercept , March 6, 2017, https://theintercept.com/2017/03/06/demo... .
  28. Max Boot, "Trump Knows the Feds Are Closing In on Him," Foreign Policy , March 6, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/06/trum... .
  29. Stephen Fidler, Te-Ping Chen, and Lingling Wei, "China's Xi Jingping Seizes Role as Leader of Globalization," Wall Street Journal , January 17, 2017, www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-xi-jinping-d... .
  30. Reuters , "Diplomat Says China Would Assume World Leadership if Needed," January 23, 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-china-usa-pol... .
  31. For China's shifting economic strategy see Fareed Zakaria, "Trump Could Be the Best Things That's Happened to China in a Long Time," Washington Post , January 12, 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-could-be-the-best-thing-thats-happened-to-china-in-a-long-time/2017/01/12/f4d71a3a-d913-11e6-9a36-1d296534b31e_story.html?utm_term=.26b51e4d5547 and Andrew Browne, "As China Pivots, Donald Trump Risks Fighting an Old War," Wall Street Journal , December 27, 2016, www.wsj.com/articles/as-china-pivots-tru... .
  32. Huiling Tan, "Businesses Move China Down Priority List: AmCham Survey," CNBC, January 17, 2017, www.cnbc.com/2017/01/17/businesses-move-... .
  33. For further discussion of this point, see Ashley Smith, "Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution," Socialist Worker , August 25, 2016, https://socialistworker.org/2016/08/25/a... .
  34. For more on this, see Brian Bean and Todd Chretien, "Socialists and 'the Bern,'" Socialist Worker , February 29, 2016, https://socialistworker.org/2016/02/29/s... .

[Jul 22, 2018] Trump's New Neoliberalism s by Marco Rosaire Rossi

Notable quotes:
"... Through neoliberal rationales, they are able to reach many of their social objectives even if they fall short of their policy goals ..."
"... The belief that Trump would alter American conservativism away from neoliberal economics is not without its basis. ..."
"... The marriage between neoliberalism and Christian nationalism that neo-conservatives pursued during the George W. Bush era was going to experience a soft separation under Trump. The pursuit of neoliberalism policies would be relegated in importance, if not abandoned completely, and there would be doubling down on Christian nationalism, with a tripling down on the nationalist element. Unsurprisingly, the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reveals that Trump is ready to renege on his end of this bargain with the hope that poor whites will still be willing to keep up their end. ..."
"... The argument that Trump would somehow overturn America's neoliberal economic order myopically focused on Trump's trade policy. In doing so, it both misunderstood what Trump represented and the ideological framework of neoliberalism. Trump's fever pitch agonizing over the United States' trade deficit with China and Mexico are both the wallowing of an economic idiot and the maneuvering of a political savant. ..."
"... The insinuation was for average Americans to take back what was rightfully theirs by engaging in a new round of economic bargaining with these two nations, if not an open trade war. ..."
"... As the latest tax bill has shown, Trump is dedicated to weakening the ability of the government to extract wealth from the rich. This supreme goal takes priority over the Republican gospel of balance budgets. ..."
"... The Right Nation: Conservative Power in ..."
"... The United States now has an Americanized version of European style far Right politics, and its xenophobic ambitious has come about through a constant assertion of neoliberal values. ..."
"... Understood in proper terms, "economic nationalism" is best described as "market statism" -- where, in Milton Friedman's words, the purpose of the state should be "to preserve law and order, to enforce private contracts, to foster competitive markets" but nothing else. ..."
"... Capitalism and Freedom ..."
Jan 07, 2018 | new-compass.net
The passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has refuted any notion that Trump's ascension to the White House would mark an end to neoliberalism. Poor whites who supported Trump expected him to offer America a new version of conservativism that would break with neoliberalism. Instead, furthering neoliberal policies has become a critical objective that works in tandem with Trump's xenophobic rhetoric

With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, President Trump secured his first major policy victory. Despite their federal dominance, the Republican Party has proven to be legislatively constipated. Below the surface of party unity, sectarian differences between the competing strains of American conservatism have hindered it from taking advantage of its historical positioning. Nevertheless, tax cuts proved to be a workable common ground that Trump was able to take advantage of. While commentary of the passage has tended to focus on this Republican unity, the most significant aspect of the Act's passage is the refutation that Donald Trump's ascension to the White House would somehow mark an end to the era of neoliberal economics. Furthering neoliberal policies has not only been an aspect of Trump's agenda but a critical goal that works in tandem with his xenophobic rhetoric. Far from being opposed by the Bannon faction of Trump's coalition, neoliberalism has provided a comforting aerie for their fascist inclinations to develop. Through neoliberal rationales, they are able to reach many of their social objectives even if they fall short of their policy goals .

The belief that Trump would alter American conservativism away from neoliberal economics is not without its basis. In a bizarre case of enveloping ironies, Trump's presidential campaign was successful in portraying him as both a billionaire business wizard and as an example of an American everyman. He advocated for "draining the swamp" of corrupt Wall Street executives, while at the same time paraded his practice of tax evasion has an example of his shrewd financial acumen. The incompatibility of these two personas is obvious, but it has a certain appeal within the context of America's poor whites. Poor white Americans are both spiteful toward and enamored by capitalism. They are spiteful because it retards their own social mobility, but enamored with it because it provides a basis for their own privilege over racial minorities. Unlike their counterparts among racial minorities, poor whites do not consider themselves poor by class, but poor by temporary misfortune. They are not poor per se, but rather down-on-their-luck millionaires whose are unjustly treated by liberal elites and coddled minorities. For these people, Trump represented an enchanting example of uncouth success. The fact that he was crass and despised only reinforced the notion that it is not connections and education that made a person wealthy, but hard work and an intuition for affluence. Culturally speaking, these are traits are considered innate to white Americans. Of course, to believe this mythology, many of Trump's low-class acolytes were only willing to support his campaign under the pretext of an unspoken bargain: they would ignore the reality that his wealth was inherited and not earned, and he would refrain from the usual Republican claptrap about the virtues of privatizing Social Security and Medicare. That way both partners could remain comfortable in their delusions that all their current and potential future wealth was a product of their own doing. The result of this unspoken bargain was that Trump was supposed to offer America a new version of conservativism. The marriage between neoliberalism and Christian nationalism that neo-conservatives pursued during the George W. Bush era was going to experience a soft separation under Trump. The pursuit of neoliberalism policies would be relegated in importance, if not abandoned completely, and there would be doubling down on Christian nationalism, with a tripling down on the nationalist element. Unsurprisingly, the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reveals that Trump is ready to renege on his end of this bargain with the hope that poor whites will still be willing to keep up their end.

Astute observers saw this betrayal coming. The argument that Trump would somehow overturn America's neoliberal economic order myopically focused on Trump's trade policy. In doing so, it both misunderstood what Trump represented and the ideological framework of neoliberalism. Trump's fever pitch agonizing over the United States' trade deficit with China and Mexico are both the wallowing of an economic idiot and the maneuvering of a political savant. The issue was always economically inane. A trade deficit in-and-of-itself reveals very little about the overall health of an economy. Whether a nation should strive for or against a trade deficit is more dependent on that nation's strategic position within the global economy, and not necessarily an indicator of the health of domestic markets. But, trade proved to be a salient issue for symbolic purposes. Stagnation and automation have compelled American middle and lower classes to accept an economic torpor. Making trade deficits a central campaign tenant provided these people with an outlet for their class anxieties without having to question the nature of class itself. Lethargic economic growth was blamed on Mexicans and the Chinese. The insinuation was for average Americans to take back what was rightfully theirs by engaging in a new round of economic bargaining with these two nations, if not an open trade war.

While Trump's criticism of Mexico and China seemed to imply an undoing of international market liberalization and a return to an age of greater protectionism, in reality, Trump very rarely recommended such policies. Instead, he made vague references to "good people" who will make "good deals" for American workers and openly preferred lowering America's corporate tax rate in order to encourage businesses to reinvest in the United States. The first proposal was always understood as meaningless. Its value was in showmanship. A person can hoodwink the world into thinking that they are a genius just by referring to everyone around them as a moron. However, the second proposal not only does not overturn the reigning neoliberal order, it strengthens it. As the latest tax bill has shown, Trump is dedicated to weakening the ability of the government to extract wealth from the rich. This supreme goal takes priority over the Republican gospel of balance budgets. The deficit be damned if preventing it smacks of any hint of expropriation of the wealthy. But, the deficit is not entirely damned. It is an open secret that Republicans are salivating for a fiscal crisis that will provide them with a pretext for cutting Social Security and Medicare. It was only a matter of time before Trump's administration wholeheartedly joins them.

The fact that the real potential for cutting favored government programs has not resulted in the same outcry among Trump's supporters, even among low-class demographics, as his suggestion that he might soften his position on immigration is a grave concern. Social Security and Medicare are extremely popular in the United States among poor and working people regardless of ethnicity and political ideology. Nevertheless, tolerance for their obliteration has become palatable to the majority of white Americans. In 2004, journalists John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge published their exhaustive history of the American Right, The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America . At the time, Michlethwait and Wooldridge could accurately claim that "in no other country is the Right defined so much by values rather than class Yet despite the importance of values, America has failed to produce a xenophobic 'far Right' on anything like the same scale as Europe has." A little over a decade later, Michlethwait's and Wooldridge's observation has become obsolete. Trump is inept at policy and governance, but he is a skilled mobilizer and has managed to shift the American Right into a new direction. The United States now has an Americanized version of European style far Right politics, and its xenophobic ambitious has come about through a constant assertion of neoliberal values.

Trump has not only furthered the neoliberal doctrine of privatization, but also that of the economization of everyday life, and specifically, the economization of American racism. While fear of cultural differences between "the west" and "the rest" has always been front and center for the Bannon wing of Trump's coalition, more tactical voices find economic justifications for their xenophobia: immigrants steal jobs, freeride on welfare benefits, and don't pay taxes. The image that emerges when these talking points converge is a political system enamored with quantifying and dispensing material goods between those who deserve and those who do not. For most modern conservatives, opposition to immigration is not based on an open fear of differences; rather, it is a feeling that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are unwilling to accept a free market economic system that treats all Americans on fair and equal terms. Unlike average Americans, who work hard and thus deserve their market remunerations, immigrants -- and by implication other minorities -- rely on a mixture of government handouts and liberal acquiescence to the rules. Immigrants cash their welfare checks because liberal elites look the other way on law enforcement. This worldview suggests that the government should not only be redirected to strenuous law enforcement but also that it should not be in the business of providing society with social welfare in the first place. Doing so only creates an impetus for illegal immigration and lazy minorities. In this manner, Bannon's cheerleading of "economic nationalism" was always a rhetorical mirage. Understood in proper terms, "economic nationalism" is best described as "market statism" -- where, in Milton Friedman's words, the purpose of the state should be "to preserve law and order, to enforce private contracts, to foster competitive markets" but nothing else.

There is no fundamental difference in the terms of the realpolitik outcomes between Friedman's neoliberalism and Bannon's economic nationalism, even if they begin from separate economic philosophies. The only difference is in what should be considered preferable within market configurations. In Capitalism and Freedom , Friedman emphasizes his personal objections to racist ideologies but sees no need for a government to ensure racial equality. According to Friedman, racism is to be overcome through individual argumentation, not political struggle; it is the changing of tastes within the marketplace that will provide the liberation of ethnic minorities, not the paternal hand of the government preventing discrimination. Friedman's de-politicizing of racial anxieties to mere matters of "taste," provides an opening for those -- like Bannon -- who are eager to engage in a culture war, but are well aware of the potentially alienating effects of actually taking up arms. If racial discrimination is only a matter of "taste," similar to other desires within the marketplace, then the maintenance of white supremacy is predicated on its profitability. As long as whiteness can maintain its social hegemony, then Friedman's governmental obligations "to preserve law and order, to enforce private contracts, to foster competitive markets," will serve to reinforce it. The neoliberal economizing of American racism allows for many of the effects of white supremacy without necessarily the adoption of any of its core premises. Trump's coalition of white nationalists and free-market ideologues thus become comfortable bedfellows, even while maintaining a rhetorical mistrust of each other.

The question is can Trump maintain his coalition of realigned conservatives in time for the next election cycle? While his low polling numbers and recent Democratic Party successes are encouraging, they are not foolproof. The destabilizing of the narrative on American racism can only occur through a refusal to accept the economization of the debate. The exclusion of racial minorities from social welfare and the utter bureaucratic madness of the United States' immigration policies have a moral dimension that has to take precedence over concerns regarding job stealing and tax burdens, no matter how fallacious such arguments are to begin with. Expecting the Democratic Party's leadership to play a leading role in this de-economization of the debate is not impossible, but unlikely. Along with Republicans, Democrats have been complicit in the framing social issues in relations to the economy, and the economy as merely working in the service of private interests. Only recently has the leftwing of the Democratic Party been organized and energized enough to counter this influence and return the party to its New Deal orientation. Whatever its limitations, Roosevelt's "freedom from want" provides a moral framework for economic policy. It is a reasonable and familiar starting point to break with a neoliberal credo that economizes all morality within a capitalist framework.

While the left-wing of the Democratic Party has seen tremendous progress, it is still far from overturning the organization's centrist leadership. In many ways, the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a painful reminder of how weak the American Left is once Republicans are able to stay united. Like with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is extremely unpopular. The trickledown theory of economics that the act is based on is rightly seen a convenient canard for the rich. So much so, that it has been reduced to a cliché joke among late night talk show hosts. With the exception of Fox News, the mainstream press has frequently commented on the nearly universal consensus among economists that the Act will result in a massive transfer of wealth to the upper class. Intellectually, there is no place for defenders of the Act to hide. However, unlike opposition to repealing the Affordable Care Act, opposition to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been somewhat muted. While Americans still are seething from the injustices of the 2007-2008 economic collapse, ten years on, they still have not found a tangible political venue to express their frustrations. This means that regardless of the outcome of the next election cycle the American Left is going to have to play a persistent role creating a meaningful outlet for people's dismay, and fostering a political discourse that recognizes that the Trump phenomenon is rooted in the neoliberal age that preceded it. The dangerous tantrum-prone child of Trumpism will only be forced off the playground when its neoliberal parents no longer own the park.

[Jul 21, 2018] Funny how Brennan a former communist sympathizer who voted for Gus Hall in 1976 is crying treason.

Jul 21, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Mar July 20, 2018 at 12:01 pm

China is enjoying this as the Dems distract us without real evidence about Russia collusion we are being blindsided by them. Funny how Brennan a former communist sympathizer who voted for Gus Hall in 1976 is crying treason. Wow.
Winston , says: July 20, 2018 at 11:55 am
Brennan, who voted for the US Communist Party candidate in the 1976 election, is screaming the treason hyperbole because the CIA is most likely the origin of the Russia Collusion farce:

"According to one account, GCHQ's then head, Robert Hannigan, passed material in summer 2016 to the CIA chief, John Brennan. The matter was deemed so sensitive it was handled at "director level". After an initially slow start, Brennan used GCHQ information and intelligence from other partners to launch a major inter-agency investigation."

BTW, Hannigan resigned for the usual "family reasons" the Monday after Trump was sworn in.

It now appears that there were three dossier versions, all coming via different unofficial channels, outside the intel community channels which was therefore unvetted. Many suspect they were all from the same source coming in from different angles to create a false impression of legitimacy.

What we are going to find out when Trump declassifies everything after the mid-term election, regardless of whether or not the Dems take the House and try to impeach him, is that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act put in place after the revelations of COINTELPRO wasn't adequate protection against the serious misuse of power.

The reason Trump won't declassify now is obvious – if you think screams of interference/obstruction are loud now, just watch after he does that, something which would harm the Reps in the mid-terms because any revelations buried within would take time to dig out and would suppressed as much as possible by the incredibly biased media.

The DOJ/FBI stalling in providing the documents demanded by Congress is an obvious stalling tactic in the hope that the Dems take the house in the mid-terms. If Clinton had won as everyone expected, we'd have never heard about any of this which is why they thought they could get away with it.

[Jul 21, 2018] Don t let his trade policy fool you Trump is a neoliberal by Daniel Bessner and Matthew Sparke

Yes he is a libral domestcally and nationalsit in forign policy -- that's why the term "national neoliberalism" looks appropriate for definition of his policies
Notable quotes:
"... When one compares these 10 neoliberal commandments with Trump's policy agenda, it is clear that the president is far more neoliberal than his populist rhetoric would suggest. ..."
"... Trump is clearly and consistently positioning himself to cut taxes on the wealthy, deregulate big business and the financial industry, and pursue a wide range of privatization plans and public-private partnerships that will further weaken American unions. In short, he will govern like the neoliberals who came before him and against whom he campaigned so ardently. ..."
"... In fact, Trump's agenda aims to realize the foremost goals of neoliberalism: privatization, deregulation, tax-cutting, anti-unionism, and the strict enforcement of property rights. For example, in his address to Congress , Trump promised "a big, big cut" for American companies and boasted about his administration's "historic effort to massively reduce job-crushing regulations." Ironically, Trump then asserted that he will reduce regulations by "creating a deregulation task force inside of every government agency," itself a contradictory expansion of the administrative state he had just sworn to shrink. ..."
"... Like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Trump was correct to criticize the Obama administration, whose economic team was for a time staffed by neoliberal Democrats like Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, for saving Wall Street after the financial collapse of 2008 while allowing Main Street to go under. Trump's victory is the direct result of the fact that American workers have not been well served by the country's policymaking elites. ..."
"... Yet the resistance that Trump's presidency has inspired across the country must also learn from the contradictions between his economic nationalism and neoliberalism. Those who reject his phony populism must be careful not to dismiss the concerns of Trump's voters, which has unfortunately been the response of too many who console themselves by deriding Trump's supporters as ignorant "deplorables" who deserve what they will get. ..."
"... The problem with the last paragraph is that it tries once again to put the election in purely economic terms. It wasn't. It was largely white cultural backlash. Much of his vote was driven by bans on immigration and a promise to maintain a white rural/suburban culture by bringing jobs back like coal mining or manufacturing jobs to Northwood Michigan. ..."
Mar 22, 2017 | www.washingtonpost.com

In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Trump promised to deliver on his populist campaign pledges to protect Americans from globalization. "For too long," he bemoaned, "we've watched our middle class shrink as we've exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries." But now, he asserted, the time has come to "restart the engine of the American economy" and "bring back millions of jobs." To achieve his goals, Trump proposed mixing massive tax-cuts and sweeping regulatory rollbacks with increased spending on the military, infrastructure and border control.

This same messy mix of free market fundamentalism and hyper-nationalistic populism is presently taking shape in Trump's proposed budget. But the apparent contradiction there isn't likely to slow down Trump's pro-market, pro-Wall Street, pro-wealth agenda. His supporters may soon discover that his professions of care for those left behind by globalization are -- aside from some mostly symbolic moves on trade -- empty.

Just look at what has already happened with the GOP's proposed replacement for Obamacare , which if enacted would bring increased pain and suffering to the anxious voters who put their trust in Trump's populism in the first place. While these Americans might have thought their votes would win them protection from the instabilities and austerities of market-led globalization, what they are getting is a neoliberal president in populist clothing.

Neoliberalism is a term most often used to critique market-fundamentalism rather than to define a particular policy agenda. Nonetheless, it is most useful to understand neoliberalism's policy implications in terms of 10 norms that have defined its historical practice. These norms begin with

  1. trade liberalization and extend to
  2. the encouragement of exports;
  3. enticement of foreign investment;
  4. reduction of inflation;
  5. reduction of public spending;
  6. privatization of public services;
  7. deregulation of industry and finance;
  8. reduction and flattening of taxes;
  9. restriction of union organization;
  10. and, finally, enforcement of property and land ownership.

Politicians don't necessarily have to profess faith in all of these norms to be considered neoliberal. Rather, they have to buy into neoliberalism's general market-based logic and its attendant promise of opportunity.

When one compares these 10 neoliberal commandments with Trump's policy agenda, it is clear that the president is far more neoliberal than his populist rhetoric would suggest. This conclusion will likely surprise his supporters, especially in light of Trump's assaults on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Despite these attacks, however, Trump is clearly and consistently positioning himself to cut taxes on the wealthy, deregulate big business and the financial industry, and pursue a wide range of privatization plans and public-private partnerships that will further weaken American unions. In short, he will govern like the neoliberals who came before him and against whom he campaigned so ardently.

In fact, Trump's agenda aims to realize the foremost goals of neoliberalism: privatization, deregulation, tax-cutting, anti-unionism, and the strict enforcement of property rights. For example, in his address to Congress , Trump promised "a big, big cut" for American companies and boasted about his administration's "historic effort to massively reduce job-crushing regulations." Ironically, Trump then asserted that he will reduce regulations by "creating a deregulation task force inside of every government agency," itself a contradictory expansion of the administrative state he had just sworn to shrink.

Since so much of Trump's agenda aligns with the long-standing ambitions of the Republican Party, it is likely that Trump will be able to work with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to pass strictly neoliberal legislation. Unlike his approach to trade, which congressional Republicans will probably scuttle, there is little reason to doubt that we will see new legislation that privatizes public lands, overturns Dodd-Frank and other Wall Street regulations, cuts taxes on business, makes organizing unions difficult, and allows big landowners to develop, mine, log, and shoot without restraint. For all the animosity that may exist between the Trump administration and Republican congressmen, the two groups share a neoliberal vision of the world.

From his new budget proposal we also know that Trump plans to continue the neoliberal assault on social service provisions -- such as the subsidies in the Affordable Care Act -- as well as public broadcasting, arts funding, scientific research and foreign aid. As Trump vowed to Congress, he intends to implement a plan in which "Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded health savings accounts." Moreover, the money he does want to spend will be expended on military and infrastructure projects that will almost certainly be organized around public-private partnerships that will fill the coffers of Trump's business cronies.

What does Trump's neoliberal agenda mean for those whose discontent with globalization gave him the presidency? Nothing good. The irony here is that the same neoliberalism that Trump plans to strengthen created the conditions that allowed him to enter the White House. Like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Trump was correct to criticize the Obama administration, whose economic team was for a time staffed by neoliberal Democrats like Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, for saving Wall Street after the financial collapse of 2008 while allowing Main Street to go under. Trump's victory is the direct result of the fact that American workers have not been well served by the country's policymaking elites.

Yet the resistance that Trump's presidency has inspired across the country must also learn from the contradictions between his economic nationalism and neoliberalism. Those who reject his phony populism must be careful not to dismiss the concerns of Trump's voters, which has unfortunately been the response of too many who console themselves by deriding Trump's supporters as ignorant "deplorables" who deserve what they will get. Going forward, all of those who want to resist the President's agenda must engage those left behind by neoliberalism and provide them with an economic vision that addresses their very real concerns. After all, Trump's administration will probably strengthen the forces that have hurt these citizens, and they will need representatives who are genuinely concerned with their well-being if our political turmoil is to be put to rest.

Don't let his trade policy fool you: Trump is a neoliberal


Notjames 3/22/2017 1:37 PM EDT [Edited]

(2/2) I think the truth is that many of these people are too far gone mentally and emotionally to ever come around to the "correct" way of thinking (which is to say, they have been so brainwashed by reacting to facile nonsense like "liberty" and "freedom" that they will believe anything as long as the argument is couched in those terms, despite the fact that when they vote they are indeed consigning themselves and the rest of the country to a world without those very freedoms for anybody who's not supposedly "one of them").

A great man once famously said "Conscience do cost." And boy, does it. Liberals need to get over their conscience once and for all, and push back against conservatives the way conservatives have been for decades, but that can only happen if we are honest about who we are arguing with, and call them out, boldly and proudly, on their intellectual failings.

Notjames 3/22/2017 1:37 PM EDT
(1/2) It's clear the authors don't expose themselves to right-wing news outlets. Far too much is made in liberal media about the "deplorables" and how they feel suffocated by the economy (or more realistically, by the natural ebb and flow of capitalism), but they belie the fact that so much of modern conservatism is more about being anti-liberal than it is about any sort of pro-conservative ideology. The "deplorable" moniker has been adapted and co-opted by conservatives and is now worn proudly as a badge of honor (in the same way "fake news" began as a liberal criticism of specific, deliberately-misleading media targeted towards the right, but is now a term used almost exclusively by the right to blanket-describe literally any media that they disagree with). Any criticisms of Trump are immediately met with criticisms of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or Democrats in general. Bring up the KKK's support of Trump 3 months ago? They'll bring up how the KKK was invented by Democrats 150 years ago.

The authors are too nice/professional to say it, but liberals need to stop handling conservatives with kid gloves and start calling them what they are: rubes. Because it's not enough that they vote against their own self-interest and the interests of the country, they take it one further and are actively gleeful in depriving liberals of anything liberals might value. Conversely, most liberals I know and read online don't have an active hatred of conservatives, instead they have compassion and want to educate them, and I suppose the thought is that if only enough of these articles get written, they'll eventually come around.

They won't.

I-Myslef 3/22/2017 1:36 PM EDT
Like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Trump was correct to criticize the Obama administration, whose economic team was for a time staffed by neoliberal Democrats like Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, for saving Wall Street after the financial collapse of 2008 while allowing Main Street to go under.

And here you have it. This is how Trump got elected. The Bernibots are the unwitting agent that gave us Trump. And they are planing on doubling down

Diane_ 3/22/2017 12:30 PM EDT
You have to care about people other than yourself in order to be called a liberal.
elkiii_2008 3/22/2017 10:28 AM EDT
The problem with the last paragraph is that it tries once again to put the election in purely economic terms. It wasn't. It was largely white cultural backlash. Much of his vote was driven by bans on immigration and a promise to maintain a white rural/suburban culture by bringing jobs back like coal mining or manufacturing jobs to Northwood Michigan.

It is quite possible that Trump can win again in these areas despite implementing neoliberal policies. And it isn't that Democrats don't have an economic message, they do. But it is one that includes and supports a much wider cultural base and one that many of that WWC that voted for Trump don't want to hear.

I-Myslef 3/22/2017 1:37 PM EDT
NO. The Rust Belt was handed over to him by Bernie and non stop assault on Clinton and trade ...
the T for 2 3/22/2017 8:55 AM EDT
If 73% of Americans Owe Money when they die ? The PURPOSE OF THE STOCK MARKET IS WHAT ? Weed out The Rich at the PEARLY GATES? ... more See More

[Jul 21, 2018] The John Brennans of the world and the lib-Dem-media-neocon mob of which he is a member now routinely traffic in hyperventilating accusations of treason, have forfeited any claim to credibility or respect.

Jul 21, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Gerard July 20, 2018 at 11:00 am

We're at a point now where it's really difficult to have an intelligent conversation, a serious discussion, a rational debate about this stuff.

The reason being that the John Brennans of the world and the lib-Dem-media-neocon mob of which he is a member, which now routinely traffic in hyperventilating accusations of treason, have forfeited any claim to credibility or respect.

Having concocted the conspiracy-fantasy of Trump being a puppet of Putin and having contrived a farcical criminal investigation of imaginary "collusion," that same mob staged the latest ludicrous meltdown -- over Trump's bumbling, stumbling press conference in Helsinki with the Evil Monster Putin.

The only appropriate response now to people like John Brennan and his cabal of fools is sarcasm, mockery, and contempt. They are beyond the reach of reason or evidence or facts. Indeed, they have zero interest in evidence or facts. They simply emote and spew.

The main question in my mind is this: are the John Brennans of the world really stupid enough to believe their vicious nonsense or are they so hopelessly dishonest and lacking in conscience that they propagate poisonous falsehoods for the simple reason they know it advances their political agenda of delegitimizing Trump's presidency.

I'm guessing more the second than the first.

And if in the process, they whip up an atmosphere of venomous hysteria and damage U.S.-Russia relations to the point where scholars like Stephen Cohen and John Mearsheimer call the environment as dangerous as that which existed at the time of the U.S.-Soviet Cuban missile crisis and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves their Doomsday Clock to two minutes before midnight (as recently happened) well, you gotta break some eggs to make an omelette, right?

Honest to God, the dimension and character of this vast circus of corruption and lies is breathtaking. It's downright freaking biblical.

[Jul 21, 2018] "Fun experiment: of those old enough, how many today who believe the "Trump is a Russian asset" story, in 2003 believed the Iraq has WMD story? 'Cause the source who lied to you in 2003, the intel community, is your same source today."

Jul 21, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

BobS July 20, 2018 at 3:43 pm

"Fun experiment: of those old enough, how many today who believe the "Trump is a Russian asset" story, in 2003 believed the Iraq has WMD story? 'Cause the source who lied to you in 2003, the intel community, is your same source today."

Growing up as I did in the Nixon/Vietnam era, I developed a skepticism of the 'official' story, something that served me well through Iran contra, incubator babies being tossed to the floor, and WMD's (a skepticism reinforced at the time by Scott Ritter, among others). As I recall, the WMD story was less a failure of intelligence as much as an administration insisting on so-called 'stovepiped' intelligence to sell their war to an American public through a mostly compliant MSM.
Regardless, my conclusion that Trump is a "Russian asset" is a result of my belief that Trump- who has yet to disclose the financial information that would disprove that belief- is reliant on Russian money, some or all of it organized crime related, to sustain his 'empire', and that there is significant overlap between the Russian mob and the Russian government.
His actions as president haven't done anything to dispel me of my belief that he is a 'Russian asset', including his traitorous behavior this past week.

[Jul 20, 2018] John Brennan, Melting Down and Covering Up by Peter Van Buren

Notable quotes:
"... It isn't a pretty face, but one scarred from a dark past, repackaged now by the frenzy of "resistance." Accusing Donald Trump recklessly, implying he knows more than he lets on, promising redemption: John Brennan is the face of American politics in 2018. ..."
"... But before all that, Brennan lived in a hole about as far down into the deep state as one can dwell while still having eyes that work in the sunlight. He was director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was Obama's counterterrorism advisor, helping the president decide who to kill every week, including American citizens. He spent 25 years at the CIA, and helped shape the violent policies of the post-9/11 Bush era. He was a fan of torture and extrajudicial killing to the point that a 2012 profile of him was entitled, "The Seven Deadly Sins of John Brennan." Another writer called Brennan "the most lethal bureaucrat of all time, or at least since Henry Kissinger." Today, however, a New York Times ..."
"... On Twitter this week, Brennan cartoonishly declaimed, "Donald Trump's press conference performance in Helsinki rises to and exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors. It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin." ..."
"... Brennan is a man of his times, all bluster and noise, knowing that so long as he says what a significant part of the country apparently believes -- that the president of the United States is under the control of the Kremlin -- he will never be challenged. ..."
"... New York Magazine ..."
"... Only after Clinton lost did it become necessary to create a crisis that might yet be inflated (it wasn't just the Russians, as originally thought, it was Trump working with them) to justify impeachment. Absent that need, Brennan would have disappeared alongside other former CIA directors into academia or the lucrative consulting industry. Instead he's a public figure with a big mouth because he has to be. That mouth has to cover his ass. ..."
"... Brennan is part of the whole-of-government effort to overturn the election. ..."
"... Yet despite all the hard evidence of treason that only Brennan and his supine journalists seem to see, everyone appears resigned to have a colluding Russian agent running the United States. You'd think it would be urgent to close this case. Instead, Brennan admonishes us to wait out an investigative process that's been underway now through two administrations. ..."
"... Is Brennan signaling that there is one step darker to consider? A Reuters commentary observes that "Trump is haunted by the fear that a cabal of national-security officers is conspiring in secret to overthrow him . Trump has made real enemies in the realm of American national security. He has struck blows against their empire. One way or another, the empire will strike back." ..."
"... Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of ..."
"... . Follow him on Twitter @WeMeantWell. ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

He accuses Trump of treason. But what's his bluster really about?

It isn't a pretty face, but one scarred from a dark past, repackaged now by the frenzy of "resistance." Accusing Donald Trump recklessly, implying he knows more than he lets on, promising redemption: John Brennan is the face of American politics in 2018.

But before all that, Brennan lived in a hole about as far down into the deep state as one can dwell while still having eyes that work in the sunlight. He was director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was Obama's counterterrorism advisor, helping the president decide who to kill every week, including American citizens. He spent 25 years at the CIA, and helped shape the violent policies of the post-9/11 Bush era. He was a fan of torture and extrajudicial killing to the point that a 2012 profile of him was entitled, "The Seven Deadly Sins of John Brennan." Another writer called Brennan "the most lethal bureaucrat of all time, or at least since Henry Kissinger." Today, however, a New York Times puff piece sweeps all that away as a "troubling inheritance."

On Twitter this week, Brennan cartoonishly declaimed, "Donald Trump's press conference performance in Helsinki rises to and exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors. It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin."

Because it is 2018, Brennan was never asked to explain exactly how a press conference exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors the Constitution sets for impeachment, nor was he asked to lay a few cards on the table showing what Putin has on Trump. No, Brennan is a man of his times, all bluster and noise, knowing that so long as he says what a significant part of the country apparently believes -- that the president of the United States is under the control of the Kremlin -- he will never be challenged.

Brennan slithers alongside those like Nancy Pelosi and Cory Booker who said Trump is controlled by Russia, columnists in the New York Times who called him a traitor, an article (which is fast becoming the Zapruder film of Russiagate) in New York Magazine echoing former counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke in speculating that Trump met Putin as his handler, and another former intelligence officer warning that "we're on the cusp of losing the constitutional republic forever."

Brennan's bleating has the interesting side effect of directing attention away from who was watching the front door as the Russians walked in to cause what one MSNBC analyst described as a mix of Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht. During the 2016 election, Brennan was head of the CIA. His evil twin, James Clapper, who also coughs up Trump attacks for nickels these days, was director of national intelligence. James Comey headed the FBI, following Robert Mueller into the job. Yet the noise from that crowd has become so loud as to drown out any questions about where they were when they had the duty to stop the Russians in the first place.

The excuse that "everybody believed Hillary would win" is in itself an example of collusion: things that now rise to treason, if not acts of war, didn't matter then because Clinton's victory would sweep them all under the rug. Only after Clinton lost did it become necessary to create a crisis that might yet be inflated (it wasn't just the Russians, as originally thought, it was Trump working with them) to justify impeachment. Absent that need, Brennan would have disappeared alongside other former CIA directors into academia or the lucrative consulting industry. Instead he's a public figure with a big mouth because he has to be. That mouth has to cover his ass.

Brennan is part of the whole-of-government effort to overturn the election. Remember how recounts were called for amid (fake) allegations of vote tampering? Constitutional scholars proposed various Hail Mary Electoral College scenarios to unseat Trump. Lawsuits claimed the Emoluments Clause made it illegal for Trump to even assume office. The media set itself the goal of impeaching the president. On cue, leaks poured out implying the Trump campaign worked with the Russian government. It is now a rare day when the top stories are not apocalyptic, rocketed from Raw Story to the Huffington Post to the New York Times . Brennan, meanwhile, fans the media's flames with a knowing wink that says "You wait and see. Soon it's Mueller time."

Yet despite all the hard evidence of treason that only Brennan and his supine journalists seem to see, everyone appears resigned to have a colluding Russian agent running the United States. You'd think it would be urgent to close this case. Instead, Brennan admonishes us to wait out an investigative process that's been underway now through two administrations.

The IRS, meanwhile, has watched Trump for decades (they've seen the tax docs), as have Democratic and Republican opposition researchers, the New Jersey Gaming Commission, and various New York City real estate bodies. Multiple KGB/FSB agents have defected and not said a word. The whole Soviet Union has collapsed since the day that some claim Trump first became a Russian asset. Why haven't the FBI, CIA, and NSA cottoned to anything in the intervening years? Why are we waiting on Mueller Year Two?

If Trump is under Russian influence, he is the most dangerous man in American history. So why isn't Washington on fire? Why hasn't Mueller indicted someone for treason? If this is Pearl Harbor, why is the investigation moving at the pace of a mortgage application? Why is everyone allowing a Russian asset placed in charge of the American nuclear arsenal to stay in power even one more minute?

You'd think Brennan would be saying it is time to postpone chasing the indictments of Russian military officers that will never see the inside of a courtroom, stop wasting months on decades-old financial crimes unconnected to the Trump campaign, and quit delaying the real stuff over a clumsy series of perjury cases. "Patriots: Where are you???" Brennan asked in a recent tweet. Where indeed?

Is Brennan signaling that there is one step darker to consider? A Reuters commentary observes that "Trump is haunted by the fear that a cabal of national-security officers is conspiring in secret to overthrow him . Trump has made real enemies in the realm of American national security. He has struck blows against their empire. One way or another, the empire will strike back." James Clapper is confirming reports that Trump was shown evidence of Putin's election attacks and did nothing. Congressman Steve Cohen asked, "Where are our military folks? The Commander-in-Chief is in the hands of our enemy!"

Treason, traitor, coup, the empire striking back -- those are just words, Third World stuff, clickbait, right? So the more pedestrian answer must then be correct. The lessons of Whitewater and Benghazi learned, maybe the point is not to build an atmosphere of crisis leading to something undemocratic, but just to have a perpetual investigation, tickled to life as needed politically.

Because, maybe, deep down, Brennan (Clapper, Hayden, Comey, and Mueller) really do know that this is all like flying saucers and cell phone cameras. At some point, the whole alien conspiracy meme fell apart because somehow when everyone had a camera with them 24/7/365, there were no more sightings and we had to admit that our fears had gotten the best of us. The threat was inside us all along. It is now, too.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well : How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper's War : A Novel of WWII Japan . Follow him on Twitter @WeMeantWell.

[Jul 20, 2018] Trump Stays Defiant Amid a Foreign Policy Establishment Gone Mad The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... New York Times ..."
"... Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, ..."
"... . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com. ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Trump Stays Defiant Amid a Foreign Policy Establishment Gone Mad By Patrick J. Buchanan July 20, 2018, 12:01 AM

lev radin / Shutterstock.com "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Under the Constitution, these are the offenses for which presidents can be impeached.

And to hear our elites, Donald Trump is guilty of them all.

Trump's refusal to challenge Vladimir Putin's claim at Helsinki that his GRU boys did not hack Hillary Clinton's campaign has been called treason, a refusal to do his sworn duty to protect and defend the United States, by a former director of the CIA.

Famed journalists and former high officials of the U.S. government have called Russia's hacking of the DNC "an act of war" comparable to Pearl Harbor.

The New York Times ran a story on the many now charging Trump with treason. Others suggest Putin is blackmailing Trump, or has him on his payroll, or compromised Trump a long time ago.

Wailed Congressman Steve Cohen: "Where is our military folks? The Commander in Chief is in the hands of our enemy!"

Apparently, some on the left believe we need a military coup to save our democracy.

Not since Robert Welch of the John Birch Society called Dwight Eisenhower a "conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy" have such charges been hurled at a president. But while the Birchers were a bit outside the mainstream, today it is the establishment itself bawling "Treason!"

What explains the hysteria?

The worst-case scenario would be that the establishment actually believes the nonsense it is spouting. But that is hard to credit. Like the boy who cried "Wolf!" they have cried "Fascist!" too many times to be taken seriously.

A month ago, the never-Trumpers were comparing the separation of immigrant kids from detained adults, who brought them to the U.S. illegally, to FDR's concentration camps for Japanese Americans.

Other commentators equated the separations to what the Nazis did at Auschwitz.

If the establishment truly believed this nonsense, it would be an unacceptable security risk to let them near the levers of power ever again.

Using Occam's razor, the real explanation for this behavior is the simplest one: America's elites have been driven over the edge by Trump's successes and their failures to block him.

Trump is deregulating the economy, cutting taxes, appointing record numbers of federal judges, reshaping the Supreme Court, and using tariffs to cut trade deficits and the bully pulpit to castigate freeloading allies.

Worst of all, Trump clearly intends to carry out his campaign pledge to improve relations with Russia and get along with Vladimir Putin.

"Over our dead bodies!" the Beltway elite seems to be shouting.

Hence the rhetorical WMDs hurled at Trump: liar, dictator, authoritarian, Putin's poodle, fascist, demagogue, traitor, Nazi.

Such language approaches incitement to violence. One wonders whether the haters are considering the impact of the words they so casually use. Some of us yet recall how Dallas was charged with complicity in the death of JFK for slurs far less toxic than this.

The post-Helsinki hysteria reveals not merely the mindset of the president's enemies, but the depth of their determination to destroy him.

They intend to break Trump and bring him down, to see him impeached, removed, indicted, and prosecuted, and the agenda on which he ran and was nominated and elected dumped onto the ash heap of history.

Thursday, Trump indicated that he knows exactly what is afoot, and threw down the gauntlet of defiance: "The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war," he tweeted. "They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I'll probably have a good relationship with Putin."

Spot on. Trump is saying: I am going to call off this Cold War II before it breaks out into the hot war that nine U.S. presidents avoided, despite Soviet provocations far graver than Putin's pilfering of DNC emails showing how Debbie Wasserman Schultz stuck it to Bernie Sanders.

Then the White House suggested Vlad may be coming to dinner this fall.

Trump is edging toward the defining battle of his presidency: a reshaping of U.S. foreign policy to avoid clashes and conflicts with Russia and the shedding of Cold War commitments no longer rooted in the national interests of this country.

Yet should he attempt to carry out his agenda -- to get out of Syria, pull troops from Germany, and take a second look at NATO's Article 5 commitment to go to war for 29 nations, some of which, like Montenegro, most Americans have never heard of -- he is headed for the most brutal battle of his presidency.

This Helsinki hysteria is but a taste.

By cheering Brexit, dissing the EU, suggesting NATO is obsolete, departing Syria, trying to get on with Putin, Trump is threatening the entire U.S. foreign policy establishment with what it fears most: irrelevance.

For if there is no war on, no war imminent, and no war wanted, what does a War Party do?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

[Jul 19, 2018] America Doesn't Need Another Weakling NATO Ally The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... In contrast, the transatlantic alliance should advance American and European security. Absorbing former members of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union, thereby pushing the alliance up to the Russian Federation's border, proved to be a foolish move because it violated assurances made to Russian leaders. Despite being former KGB, Vladimir Putin never appeared to be ideologically antagonistic toward America. However, when he perceived Washington's behavior as threatening -- including dismembering Serbia, backing revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, and promising to include both nations in NATO -- it encouraged him to respond violently. ..."
"... Admitting new members is never costless. Aid will be necessary to improve their militaries. Moreover, newer members sometimes become the most demanding, like the Baltics and Poland, which insist that they are entitled to American bases and garrisons. ..."
"... Continuing expansion also reinforces the message that NATO is hostile toward Russia. That's the only country allies are joining to oppose, after all. Obviously, there are plenty of other reasons Moscow should distrust the United States, but reinforcing negative perceptions for no benefit at all is bad policy. ..."
"... The Mouse that Roared ..."
"... Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of ..."
Jul 19, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

America Doesn't Need Another Weakling NATO Ally Macedonia is the latest nation invited into the alliance, but how does that enhance America's (or Europe's) security? By Doug Bandow July 19, 2018

Utenriksdept / cc At last week's NATO summit, President Donald Trump denounced the allies for taking advantage of American taxpayers. Then he approved their latest subsidies. He even agreed to invite a military weakling, Macedonia, to join NATO, which will add yet another nation to our military dole.

When George Washington warned Americans against forming a "passionate attachment" to other countries, he might have been thinking of the Balkans. Indeed, a couple decades later, John Quincy Adams criticized proposals to aid Greece against the Ottoman Empire, which then ruled that region. America "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy," he intoned.

On into the 20th century, the Balkans were in turmoil. Germany's "Iron Chancellor," Otto von Bismarck, warned that "the great European War would come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans." That's exactly what happened in 1914.

It took decades and two world wars for the Balkans to stabilize. But after the Cold War ended, Yugoslavia, which had emerged from Europe's previous convulsions, broke apart. One of the smaller pieces was Macedonia.

The battles among the Serbians, Croatians, and Bosnians were bloody and brutal. In contrast, Macedonia provided comic relief. The small, mountainous, landlocked nation of two million people won its independence without a fight in 1991, though Athens launched a verbal and economic war against Skopje over the latter's use of the name "Macedonia."

Perhaps modern Greeks feared that a resurrected Alexander the Great would lead the newly freed Macedonian hordes south and conquer Greece. Skopje entered the United Nations under the provisional name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM. In June, after only 27 years, the two governments agreed that Macedonia/FYROM would be called the Republic of North Macedonia -- though the decision must still be ratified by the Macedonian people in a referendum.

More serious was the insurgency launched by ethnic Albanians who made up about a quarter of the nation's population. The battle two decades ago over Kosovo inflamed ethnic relations in Macedonia, eventually resulting in a short-lived insurgency. Although the fighters disarmed, Skopje's politics remained nationalist and difficult. Last year, a more liberal administration took over, but the country's democratic institutions remain fragile.

Indeed, Freedom House only rates the nation "partly free." The group cites voter intimidation, political patronage networks, violent protests, and problems with judicial impartiality and due process. Particularly serious were the threats against press freedom, which led to a rating of "not free" in that area. While NATO's newer members tend to score lower than "Old Europe," as Donald Rumsfeld once referred to the original allies, Macedonia is a step further down. Only Turkey, an incipient dictatorship, is worse: it almost certainly would not be considered for membership today.

None of this mattered last week, however. After suffering Trump's many slings and arrows, alliance members approved an invitation for Skopje to join NATO. Macedonian lawmaker Artan Grubi called it "our dream coming true. We have been in the waiting hall for too long."

That's because Macedonia had hoped for an invite back in 2008 at the Bucharest summit, but was blocked by Athens over the name dispute, and has wanted to join ever since. Macedonia's Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska said, "With NATO membership, Macedonia becomes part of the most powerful alliance. That enhances both our security and economic prosperity." Money and status are expected to follow.

But how would this benefit the United States and other NATO members? James Ker-Lindsay at the London School of Economics made the astonishing claim that "opening the way for the country to join NATO would be a big win for the organization at a crucial time when concerns over Russian influence in the Western Balkans are growing in many capitals." As Skopje goes, so goes Europe? Not likely. If Washington and Moscow are engaged in a new "great game," it is not a battle for Macedonia.

In fact, Macedonia is a security irrelevancy, destined to require American aid to create the pretense that its military is fit for the transatlantic alliance. Skopje spent just $112 million on its armed forces last year, ahead of only one NATO member, Montenegro. That was barely 1 percent of its GDP, putting Macedonia near the back of the NATO pack.

With an 8,000-man military, one is tempted to ask, why bother? But then one could similarly pose that query to several other NATO members. Skopje's military is roughly the same size as Albania's, slightly bigger than Slovenia's, and about four times the size of Montenegro's. None will be of much use in a conflict with the only conceivable threat, Russia.

So why bring Macedonia into NATO?

Some American policymakers see alliance membership as a means to socialize nations like Macedonia, helping them move towards democracy. However, the European Union, which sets standards governing a range of domestic policies, has always been better suited to this task, and EU membership imposes no security obligations on Washington. With the name controversy tentatively resolved, Skopje could begin the EU accession process -- if the Europeans are willing. That is properly their -- not Washington's -- responsibility.

In contrast, the transatlantic alliance should advance American and European security. Absorbing former members of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union, thereby pushing the alliance up to the Russian Federation's border, proved to be a foolish move because it violated assurances made to Russian leaders. Despite being former KGB, Vladimir Putin never appeared to be ideologically antagonistic toward America. However, when he perceived Washington's behavior as threatening -- including dismembering Serbia, backing revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, and promising to include both nations in NATO -- it encouraged him to respond violently.

The Balkans are peripheral even to Europe and matter little to America's defense. The states and peoples there tend to be more disruptive and less democratic than their neighbors, reflecting the region's unstable history. (North) Macedonia's 8,000 troops aren't likely to be reborn as the Spartan 300 and hold off invading Russians. So why should America threaten war on Skopje's behalf?

Admitting new members is never costless. Aid will be necessary to improve their militaries. Moreover, newer members sometimes become the most demanding, like the Baltics and Poland, which insist that they are entitled to American bases and garrisons.

Expansion also complicates alliance decision-making. No doubt, Washington wishes its European allies would do what they're told: spend more, shut up, and deploy where America wants them. That doesn't work out very well in practice, alas, as Trump has discovered in Europe (though nations with smaller militaries are more likely to acquiesce than nations with bigger ones). An organization of 30 members, which NATO will become if Macedonia is added, is a more complex and less agile creature than one of 16, the number that existed before NATO raced east.

Continuing expansion also reinforces the message that NATO is hostile toward Russia. That's the only country allies are joining to oppose, after all. Obviously, there are plenty of other reasons Moscow should distrust the United States, but reinforcing negative perceptions for no benefit at all is bad policy.

Finally, expanding the alliance is nonsensical in light of the president's criticisms of the Europeans. Hiking U.S. military spending, increasing manpower and materiel deployments in Europe, and adding new members all contradict his demand that the allies do more and signal that the president is not serious in his demands. That leaves the Europeans with little incentive to act, especially since most of their peoples perceive few if any security threats.

Yet again President Trump has been exposed as a thoughtless blowhard. His rabid supporters have likely enjoyed his confrontational rhetoric, but he has done nothing to turn it into policy. The Europeans need only wait for his attacks to ebb and then they can proceed much the same as before. The status quo will continue to reign, impervious to change.

Montenegro always resembled the Duchy of Grand Fenwick from the delightful novel The Mouse that Roared . Macedonia is the Duchy of North Grand Fenwick, a slightly larger neighboring state with similar features but additional problems. Neither is remotely relevant to American security. America doesn't need yet another security black hole as an alliance partner.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .

[Jul 18, 2018] Let's See Who's Bluffing in the Criminal Case Against the Russians The American Conservative

Jul 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

It was a remarkable moment in a remarkable press conference. President Donald Trump had just finished a controversial summit meeting in Helsinki with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and the two were talking to the media . Jeff Mason, a political affairs reporter with Reuters, stood up and asked Putin a question pulled straight out of the day's headlines: "Will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a U.S. grand jury?"

The "12 Russian officials" Mason spoke of were military intelligence officers accused of carrying out a series of cyberattacks against various American-based computer networks (including those belonging to the Democratic National Committee), the theft of emails and other data, and the release of a significant portion of this information to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The names and organizational affiliations of these 12 officers were contained in a detailed 29-page indictment prepared by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, and subsequently made public by Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein on July 13 -- a mere three days prior to the Helsinki summit.

Vladimir Putin responded, "We have an existing agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, an existing treaty, that dates back to 1999, the mutual assistance on criminal cases. This treaty is in full effect. It works quite efficiently."

Putin then discussed the relationship between this agreement -- the 1999 Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty -- and the Mueller indictment. "This treaty has specific legal procedures," Putin noted, that "we can offer the appropriate commission headed by special attorney Mueller. He can use this treaty as a solid foundation and send a formal and official request to us so that we would interrogate, we would hold the questioning of these individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes and our enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States."

Trump Calls Off Cold War II Ron and Rand Paul Call Out Foreign Policy Hysteria

In the uproar that followed the Trump-Putin press conference , the exchange between Mason and Putin was largely forgotten amidst invective over Trump's seeming public capitulation on the issue of election interference. "Today's press conference in Helsinki," Senator John McCain observed afterwards in a typical comment, "was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory."

It took an interview with Putin after the summit concluded , conducted by Fox News's Chris Wallace, to bring the specific issue of the 12 indicted Russians back to the forefront and give it context. From Putin's perspective, this indictment and the way it was handled by the United States was a political act. "It's the internal political games of the United States. Don't make the relationship between Russia and the United States -- don't hold it hostage of this internal political struggle. And it's quite clear to me that this is used in the internal political struggle, and it's nothing to be proud of for American democracy, to use such dirty methods in the political rivalry."

Regarding the indicted 12, Putin reiterated the points he had made earlier to Jeff Mason. "We -- with the United States -- we have a treaty for assistance in criminal cases, an existing treaty that exists from 1999. It's still in force, and it works sufficiently. Why wouldn't Special Counsel Mueller send us an official request within the framework of this agreement? Our investigators will be acting in accordance with this treaty. They will question each individual that the American partners are suspecting of something. Why not a single request was filed? Nobody sent us a single formal letter, a formal request."

There is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Russia, which makes all the calls for Trump to demand the extradition of the 12 Russians little more than a continuation of the "internal political games" Putin alluded to in his interview. There is, however, the treaty that Putin referenced at both the press conference and during the Wallace interview.

Signed in Moscow on June 17, 1999, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty calls for the "prevention, suppression and investigation of crimes" by both parties "in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty where the conduct that is the subject of the request constitutes a crime under the laws of both Parties."

It should be noted that the indicted 12 have not violated any Russian laws. But the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty doesn't close the door on cooperation in this matter. Rather, the treaty notes that "The Requested Party may, in its discretion, also provide legal assistance where the conduct that is the subject of the request would not constitute a crime under the laws of the Requested Party."

It specifically precludes the process of cooperating from inferring a right "on the part of any other persons to obtain evidence, to have evidence excluded, or to impede the execution of a request." In short, if the United States were to avail itself of the treaty's terms, Russia would not be able to use its cooperation as a vehicle to disrupt any legal proceedings underway in the U.S.

The legal assistance that the treaty facilitates is not inconsequential. Through it, the requesting party can, among other things, obtain testimony and statements from designated persons; receive documents, records, and other items; and arrange the transfer of persons in custody for testimony on the territory of the requesting party.

If the indictment of the 12 Russians wasn't the "dirty method" used in a domestic American "political rivalry" that Putin described, one would imagine that Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein would have availed himself of the opportunity to gather additional evidence regarding the alleged crimes. He would also have, at the very least, made a request to have these officers appear in court in the United States to face the charges put forward in the indictment. The treaty specifically identifies the attorney general of the United States "or persons designated by the Attorney General" as the "Central Authority" for treaty implementation. Given the fact that Jeff Sessions has recused himself from all matters pertaining to the investigation by the Department of Justice into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the person empowered to act is Rosenstein.

There are several grounds under the treaty for denying requested legal assistance, including anything that might prejudice "the security or other essential interests of the Requested Party." However, it also requires that the reasons for the any denial of requested assistance be put in writing. Moreover, prior to denying a request, the Requested Party "shall consult with the Central Authority of the Requesting Party to consider whether legal assistance can be given subject to such conditions as it deems necessary. If the Requesting Party accepts legal assistance subject to these conditions, it shall comply with the conditions."

By twice raising the treaty in the context of the 12 Russians, Putin has clearly signaled that Russia would be prepared to proceed along these lines.

If the indictment issued by the Department of Justice is to be taken seriously, then it is incumbent upon Rosenstein to call Putin's bluff, and submit a detailed request for legal assistance per the mandate and procedures specified in the treaty -- in short, compel Russia to either put up or shut up.

Any failure to do so would only confirm Putin's assertion that the indictment was a political game to undermine the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of Deal of the Century: How Iran Blocked the West's Road to War .


Rob July 17, 2018 at 11:03 pm

Very cogent analysis. Putin, who's incredibly well briefed, knew exactly what he was offering, and thought that by doing so, would force the DoJ/Mueller to either take him up on his offer or otherwise display the overt politicism of the indictments. But the American anti-Trump mindhive is so completely addled, they of course miss the point entirely. The absence of reason among the anti-Trump/anti-Russia collective is truly something to behold – it's scary.
Janek , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:29 pm
The request V. Putin proposed and Scot Ritter writes about, if send to Russia, would be equivalent to 'go and whistle' and would be treated the same way the Russians treat the requests from Poland to return the remains of the Polish plane that crashed in controversial and strange circumstances near Smolensk on April 10, 2010. They, the Russians, did not return the remains of the plane up until today and the place where the plane crashed they bulldozed the ground and paved with very thick layer of concrete.

Such request would only give the Russians propaganda tools to delay and dilute any responsibility from the Russian side and at the end they would blame the USA for the whole mess with no end to their investigation, because they would investigate until the US investigators would drop dead. Anybody who seriously thinks about V.

Putin offer to investigate anything with Russia should first have his head examined by a very good, objective, and politically neutral head specialist.

b. , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:50 pm
"If the indictment issued by the Department of Justice is to be taken seriously, then it is incumbent upon Rosenstein to call Putin's bluff, and submit a detailed request for legal assistance per the mandate and procedures specified in the treaty -- in short, compel Russia to either put up or shut up.

Any failure to do so would only confirm Putin's assertion that the indictment was a political game to undermine the presidency of Donald J. Trump."

That was one long-winded way of recognizing that Putin just told the US biparty establishment behind the manufactured "Russia!" hysteria to put up or shut up.

EliteCommInc. , says: July 18, 2018 at 2:57 am
I don't think that Pres Putin has anything to lose here.

"ARTICLE 4 DENIAL OF LEGAL ASSISTANCE

The Central Authority of the Requested Party may deny legal assistance if:

(1) the request relates to a crime under military law that is not a crime under general criminal law;

(2) the execution of the request would prejudice the security or other essential interests of the Requested Party; or "whether accurate or not the treaty permits a denial of request, if said requests threaten Russian security."

Almost by definition, an investigation interrogation by the US of the personnel in question because said questioning might very well stray into other areas , unrelated to the hacking charge. Now Pres. Putin has played two cards: a treaty is in place that deals with criminal matters between the two states and surely must have known that and should have already made the formal requests in conjunction with the treaty or he didn't know either way, the rush to embarrass the president may very well backfire. As almost everything about this investigation has.

Realist , says: July 18, 2018 at 3:16 am
"The DOJ should call his bluff."

Right! That's not going to happen .the DOJ has no proof .their indictment was a ploy to queer any deal with Russia. Anybody that believes anything the 'intelligence' agencies say, without proof, is an idiot.

[Jul 18, 2018] Ron and Rand Paul Call Out Foreign Policy Hysteria by Jack Hunter

Notable quotes:
"... New York Magazine ..."
"... Manchurian Candidate ..."
"... Cutting through the crap on foreign policy is something of a Paul family tradition. ..."
"... When Ron Paul suggested on a Republican presidential primary debate stage in 2008 that U.S. foreign policy created " blowback " that led to 9/11, fellow GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani accused Paul of blaming America and defending the attackers. Paul didn't relent: "Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years." ..."
"... The American Conservative ..."
"... There are neocons in both parties who still want Ukraine and Georgia to be in NATO. That's very, very provocative. It has stimulated and encouraged nationalism in Russia. George Kennan predicted this in 1998 when we still had Yeltsin and Russia was coming in our direction. He said, "If you push NATO up against Russia's borders, nationalism will arise and their militarist tendencies will increase, and you may get someone like a Putin," basically. ..."
"... "It's a big mistake for us, not to say that we're morally equivalent or that anything Russia does is justified," Paul told Tapper. "But if we don't understand that everything we do has a reaction, we're not going to be very good at understanding and trying to have peace in our world." ..."
"... "Most Americans are understandably shocked by what they view as an unprecedented attack on our political system," the New York Times ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... Rand Paul said Sunday, "People need to think through these things before they get so eager to rattle their sabers about wanting to have a confrontation with Russia." ..."
"... Jack Hunter is the former political editor of ..."
"... co-authored the 2011 book ..."
"... with Senator Rand Paul. ..."
Jul 17, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Ron and Rand Paul Call Out Foreign Policy Hysteria And like his father, the senator found himself on the wrong end of the media mob this week.

When Mitt Romney called Russia America's " number one geopolitical foe " during the 2012 election campaign, Barack Obama mocked him: "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back." Vice President Joe Biden dismissed Romney as a "Cold War holdover." Hillary Clinton said Romney was "looking backward." John Kerry said "Mitt Romney talks like he's only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV ."

Romney's Russia warning came at a time when Republicans were eager to exploit President Obama's hot mic comments to Russian president Dmitri Medvedev where he promised " more flexibility " on missile defense issues after the election. Romney, to the delight of Republican hawks and neoconservatives , was eager to portray Obama as capitulating , weak , and dangerous . For his part, Obama, who once vowed to " reset " U.S.-Russia relations, painted Romney as outdated for disparaging diplomacy.

But that was then. This week the Cold War seemed to be back in full force for many former Obama supporters, as President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of 12 Russian agents being indicted for allegedly meddling in the 2016 election.

Democrats have joined forces with Republican hawks and neoconservatives to declare Trump " weak " for engaging Russia. One MSNBC pundit said Trump's NATO criticisms were the president " doing Vladimir Putin's bidding ." New York Magazine 's Jonathan Chait went full Alex Jones when he suggested that Trump may have been a Putin agent since 1987 -- a Manchurian Candidate -esque spin reminiscent of the original Red Scare . #TraitorTrump even trended on Twitter.

In the midst of this hysteria, Senator Rand Paul was asked by CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday whether he thought Trump should demand that Putin acknowledge Russia's meddling.

"They're not going to admit it in the same way we're not going to admit that we were involved in the Ukrainian elections or the Russian election," Paul replied . "So all countries that can spy do. All countries that want to interfere in elections and have the ability to, they try." Paul insisted that U.S. and Russian meddling are not "morally equivalent," but said we must still take into account that both nations do this.

That's when "Rand Paul" began trending on Twitter.

"Rand Paul is on TV delivering line after line of Kremlin narrative, and it is absolutely stunning to watch," read one tweet with nearly 5,000 likes. Another tweet, just as popular, said , "Between McConnell hiding election interference and Rand Paul defending it, looks like Russia's already annexed Kentucky." A Raw Story headline on Paul's CNN interview read, " Stunned Jake Tapper explains why NATO exists to a Russia-defending Rand Paul ."

But was Paul really "defending" Russia? Was he even defending Russian meddling in U.S. elections? Or was he merely trying to pierce through the hysteria and portray American-Russian relations in a more accurate and comprehensive context -- something partisans left and right won't do and the mainstream media is too lazy to attempt?

Cutting through the crap on foreign policy is something of a Paul family tradition.

When Ron Paul suggested on a Republican presidential primary debate stage in 2008 that U.S. foreign policy created " blowback " that led to 9/11, fellow GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani accused Paul of blaming America and defending the attackers. Paul didn't relent: "Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years."

No one in the GOP wanted to hear what Ron Paul had to say because it challenged and largely rebutted Republicans' entire political identity at the time. Paul was roundly denounced. FrontPageMag's David Horowitz called him a " disgrace ." RedState banned all Paul supporters. The American Conservative 's Jim Antle would recall in 2012: "The optics were poor: a little-known congressman was standing against the GOP frontrunner on an issue where 90 percent of the party likely disagreed with him . Support for the war was not only nearly unanimous within the GOP, but bipartisan."

Rand Paul now poses a similar challenge to Russia-obsessed Democrats. Contra Jake Tapper sagely explaining "why NATO exists" to a supposedly ignoramus Paul, as the liberal Raw Story headline framed it, here's what the senator actually said:

There are neocons in both parties who still want Ukraine and Georgia to be in NATO. That's very, very provocative. It has stimulated and encouraged nationalism in Russia. George Kennan predicted this in 1998 when we still had Yeltsin and Russia was coming in our direction. He said, "If you push NATO up against Russia's borders, nationalism will arise and their militarist tendencies will increase, and you may get someone like a Putin," basically.

Do you think Jake Tapper Googled "George Kennan"? That's about as likely as Giuliani Googling "blowback."

"It's a big mistake for us, not to say that we're morally equivalent or that anything Russia does is justified," Paul told Tapper. "But if we don't understand that everything we do has a reaction, we're not going to be very good at understanding and trying to have peace in our world."

As for Russian spying -- was Paul just blindly defending that, too? Or did he make an important point in noting both sides do it?

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

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

The U.S. will no doubt keep meddling in foreign elections. Russia will do the same, just as it did during the Obama administration and years prior . The cries against diplomacy and for war will ebb, flow, flip, and flop, depending on who sits in the White House and how it makes the screaming partisans feel. Many Democrats who view Trump's diplomacy with Russia as dangerous would have embraced it (and did) under Obama. Many Republicans who hail Trump's diplomatic efforts wouldn't have done so were he a Democrat. President Hillary Clinton could be having the same meeting with Putin and most Democrats would be fine with it, Russian meddling or no meddling.

So many headlines attempted to portray Paul as the partisan hack on Sunday when the opposite is actually true. It's the left, including much of the media, that's now turned hawkish towards Russia for largely partisan reasons, while Paul was making the same realist foreign policy arguments regarding NATO and U.S.-Russia relations long before the Trump presidency.

Responding to Romney's anti-Russia, anti-Obama comments in 2012, Thomas de Waal, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the New York Times , "There's a whole school of thought that Russia is one you need to work with to solve other problems in the world, rather than being the problem." Rand Paul said Sunday, "People need to think through these things before they get so eager to rattle their sabers about wanting to have a confrontation with Russia."

But think they won't and sabers they'll rattle, as yesterday's villains become today's heroes and vice versa.

Just ask Mitt Romney .

Jack Hunter is the former political editor of Rare.us and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Senator Rand Paul.


Come On July 17, 2018 at 1:51 am

There's the elephant in the room, of course. Nobody seems to want to touch it yet, but everybody knows that Israeli meddling in US elections puts Russian meddling in the shade. Still, it's fascinating watching the reporting and waiting to see who will break the silence.

In the meantime, wake me up when there's something called "the Russia-American Political Action Committee" in DC. Wake me up when US politicians vie to win its favor, as they vie to win the favor of AIPAC, and win the huge financial contributions that result from getting its support. Wake me up when Russian oligarchs contribute even a fraction of what Israel donors like Sheldon Adelson already contribute to US political campaigns – and wake me up when they get results like an American president moving the US embassy to Jerusalem or an America president sending American troops to stand between Israel and its enemies Russia may have moved a few thousand votes here or there, but Israel gets American politicians to send America's children to die in Middle East wars. At the moment, Russia can only dream of meddling with that degree of success.

Yep – American elections have been corrupted by foreign countries for a long time. Russia's only problem is that it hasn't learned who to pay off, and how much. Next time Mr. Netanyahu visits Mr. Putin (and he visits him fairly often), he can give him a few pointers. And then Mr. Putin will be invited to give speeches to joint sessions of Congress. Just like Mr. Netanyahu. And freshmen US congressmen will be frog-marched to Russia for instructions, just like they're already frog-marched to Israel.

cynthia , says: July 17, 2018 at 7:50 am
President Trump took a slice out of the Military Industrial Complex yesterday. John McCain and war mongers went crazy. The SWAMP IS ANGRY!
connecticut farmer , says: July 17, 2018 at 8:26 am
Russia has been engaging in international espionage dating back at least to Peter the Great. As such, they play the game as well as, or possibly better, than anyone. They, like we, will do what is necessary-even to the point of injecting themselves in the internal affairs of another country–if they deem it in their interest to do so or, as the cliche has it, "in the interest of state". Not very nice but–that's the way the game is played.

Thank you, Rand Paul and Mr. Hunter, for injecting some much needed sanity into this debate.

Youknowho , says: July 17, 2018 at 8:49 am
I said it before, and I will repeat it here:

There is no need to demonize the Russians. Their country has national interests and goals. If they are patriots, the Russians will seek to advance those interests and goals.

We also have interests and goals, and if we are patriots, we seek to advance them (though we disagree on what our real interests are and what our goals should be).

When our interests concide with that of Russia we collaborate. When they clash, we seek to undermine each other.

The Russians seem to have been doing it, as their interests now clash with ours. Nothing to be worked out about. That's how the game is played.

Which does not mean that we should defend ourselves strenuously from such undermining. And the President is precisely tasked with defending this country and advance its interests. This he seems to be unable to do.

Do not hate the Russians. Do not demonize them. But be aware of what they are doing, because we are NOT in a Kumbayah moment with them.

Andy Johnson , says: July 17, 2018 at 8:56 am
Well done, Mr. Hunter. It's a shame that the Pauls' position on foreign policy is not shared by ostensibly "libertarian" commentators who value DC cocktail parties above all principles.
Johann , says: July 17, 2018 at 10:27 am
The left's hatred of Russia goes even deeper than US partisan politics. They hate them because they gave up their world-wide communism ideology. And they hate them because they are not fully on board with the LGBQTXYZ movement.
David Smith , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:08 am
The real problem with Russia is that it exists, and it is too big for us to control. The real problem with Putin is that he is the first strong leader Russia has had since the fall of the Soviet Union, and he is messing up our plans for world hegemony.

As one who grew up during the Cold War (the real one) and lived through the whole thing (the Iron Curtain, the Warsaw Pact, the crushing of Hungary, communists behind every door and under every bed), I find it very hard to take all the current hysteria about Russia very seriously.

connecticut farmer , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:19 am
@Youknowwho

Sane, reasonable comments. Totally agree with your sentiments. Unfortunately, since we live in a 3-ring media circus, so few people will listen or pay heed. In a world possibly even more dangerous than any time since the Cold War, the act of demonizing one of the two greatest nuclear powers on earth is surely madness.

General Manager , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:26 am
CNN etc. headlines are not even thinly veiled editorials against Trump. Not related to just publishing the news. But telling readers how to think. Mainstream media has an M&M type coating. Remove the outer shell and you find the good old boys and girls as ever-lurking and ever vigilant Neocon Nation pushing their one and only agenda on the American people. They are insatiable as long as they do not do the fighting and dying. Stay tough Trump and realize short of complete capitulation you cannot satisfy these people.
Ryszard Ewiak , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:37 am
Donald Trump took a step towards peace. Of course, not everyone likes this. As can be seen, Donald Trump has many enemies, even among Republicans. They want war. These are people dangerous to America and the world.

What is better: peace with Russia, or a global nuclear war?

The Book of Revelation warns: "And another horse, fiery red, came out, and the one who rode it was granted permission to take peace from the earth, so that people would butcher one another, and he was given a huge sword." (6:4) "The great sword" – what does it mean?

Jesus gave many important details: "Terrors [φοβητρα] both [τε] and [και] unusual phenomena [σημεια – unusual occurrences, transcending the common course of nature] from [απ] sky [ουρανου] powerful [μεγαλα] will be [εσται]." (Luke 21:11)

Some ancient manuscripts contain the words "and frosts" [και χειμωνες] (we call this today "nuclear winter"), and in Mark 13:8 "and disorders" [και ταραχαι] (in the sense of confusion and chaos). There will be also significant tremors, food shortages and epidemics along the length and breadth of the regions as a result of using this weapon.

This weapon will also cause climate change, catastrophic drought and global famine. (cf. Revelation 6:5, 6)

So here we have a complete picture of the consequences of the global nuclear war. Is there any sense in speeding up this war?

Angolo , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:38 am
Trump's "treason"? What a laugh.

He called out the perfidy and incompetence of American intelligence and foreign policy officials during the Obama era, as he should have. He wants a productive relationship with a declining nuclear and regional power, as he should have. Is Putin a nice man? No. But neither is he a pusillanimous Leftist eurotwit.

I'm glad to see adults in the room, at long last. The Sixties are over, baby. Good riddance.

Countme-a-Demon , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:44 am
"Of course the Paul's are right as they always are."

Always?

"A number of the newsletters criticized civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., calling him a pedophile and "lying socialist satyr".[2][15] These articles told readers that Paul had voted against making Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a federal public holiday, saying "Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day."[2][16][17] During the 2008 and 2012 presidential election campaigns, Paul and his supporters said that the passages denouncing King were not a reflection of Paul's own views because he considers King a "hero".[18][19][20″

That last sentence is a hoot. Talk about "hysteria", but, go ahead, repeat Paul's lies that he knew nothing about his own newsletter.

Johann:

"The left's hatred of Russia goes even deeper than US partisan politics. They hate them because they gave up their world-wide communism ideology. And they hate them because they are not fully on board with the LGBQTXYZ movement."

Do fake news much?

https://medium.com/@FreisinnigeZtg/did-the-kremlin-support-ron-paul-in-2008-f6b6ca4b58f9

Like the NRA, The American Conservative needs to open "The Russian Conservative" chapters in Putin's conservative Russia to protect Putin's murderous government.

It could be that the "Left", whatever that is in addlepated minds, merely desires a little real politik in our relations with relations with Putin's Russia.

It's hard to tell the difference between ex-KGB Putin and ex-republicans like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan.

The latter two make "full of crap" seem mild praise.

Clifford , says: July 17, 2018 at 12:08 pm
You lost me at "Ron Paul." Sorry.
Reader , says: July 17, 2018 at 12:17 pm
Off the top of my head, a few egregious examples in which the US government has "meddled" in other countries during the last 100 years:

Mexico (Woodrow Wilson had thousands of US troops occupying Mexico until calling them back to "meddle" in Europe's War to End All Wars, setting the stage for an even worse war 20 years later.)

Russia (Woodrow Wilson used the US military to "meddle" in the Russian revolution after the War to End All Wars.)

Korea (undeclared war)

Vietnam (undeclared war)

Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile, and much of the rest of Central and South America.

Iran (helped overthrow its government in the 1950s and install the Shah of Iran, setting the stage for the Iranian revolution.)

Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Egypt.

Yemen (huge humanitarian disaster as I write this. US government fully supporting head-chopping Saudi Arabians in their campaign to starve, sicken and blow to bits hundreds of thousands of people. Support includes US planes in-flight fueling of Saudi fighter/bomber jets.)

And let us not forget the enormous "meddling" in numerous US government elections and policy debates by . . . Israel.

Good Reason , says: July 17, 2018 at 1:19 pm
I vote with Angolo's comment:

"He called out the perfidy and incompetence of American intelligence and foreign policy officials during the Obama era, as he should have. He wants a productive relationship with a declining nuclear and regional power, as he should have. Is Putin a nice man? No. But neither is he a pusillanimous Leftist eurotwit."

It's important to understand what the US intelligence community is calling "interference in our election." There has been no accusation that the Russians hacked into our electronic voting and changed results. Rather, they did what we have done in other countries–the Russians ran an influence campaign. They bought ads and created bots to spread the word. This is so utterly tame . . . there is nothing out of the ordinary US playbook here.

Hacking the DNC server and revealing underhanded DNC doings? Hey, that's on the DNC for being both venal and incompetent.

anonymous , says: July 17, 2018 at 2:21 pm
Anybody in 1962 shouting wild paranoid conspiracy theories about

THERE ARE RUSSIAN SPIES EVERYWHERE, THEY'RE TRYING TO TAKE OVER AMERICA

These people in 1962 would be (correctly) dismissed as Right Wing conspiracy kooks, now it's just standard Lib Dems, RINOs, Neo Conservatives and fake news lying press.

We commissioned this Farstar comics with this theme – I mean like who in 2018 is really scared that Russians like Anna Kournikova are going to take over America –

Who's in bed with the Russians?

I wish that was me!

https://goo.gl/images/3HbsbS

b. , says: July 17, 2018 at 2:23 pm
Unfortunately, Rand Paul is acting, but not on principle or in good faith. If he really wanted to stand against manufactured hysteria, he would not accept the US "intelligence" agency claims and refer to their record – e.g. on Iraq and before regarding stability of the Soviet Union – he would question the staggering difficulties of attribution and forensics for networked, digital attacks (the main reason why any claims about who hacked whom have to be read with skepticism), he would point to the corruption of our foreign politics by Saudi and Israeli interests and money within the Trump-Kushner clan, and both parties, and he would compare the alleged – and allegedly ineffectual – attempts to influence an already ridiculous election to the very real, pervasive and corrupting impact of GOP voter disenfranchisement and bipartisan gerrymandering in service of incumbents and their networks.

Rand Paul is the man who was going to stand against the Haspel appointment. He is a phoney, but he serves as a weather vane for niche politicians on how the winds are turning.

You can find the same token opposition here:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/07/11/russia-nato-editorials-debates/36799277/

Nothing about New START, no word about how George Bush made a promise that might have been in bad faith, how Gorbachev was foolish enough to accept it, and how Bill Clinton broke it across the board, and piled on by targeting Serbia in the Balkan conflict. Kennan did not refer to the Ukraine on his missive.

If Rand Paul is our last best hope, we are in deep trouble.

Kurt Gayle , says: July 17, 2018 at 2:41 pm
Jack Hunter " Senator Rand Paul was asked by CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday whether he thought Trump should demand that Putin acknowledge Russia's meddling."

(0:01) TAPPER: 48 hours ago the US government, the Trump administration, said the top Russian military intelligence officers orchestrated a massive hack to affect the US election. How much do you want President Trump to try to hold Putin accountable for that?

PAUL: I think really we mistake our response if we think it's about accountability from the Russians. They're another country. They're going to spy on us. They do spy on us. They're going to interfere in our elections. We also do the same. Dov Levin at Carnegie Mellon studied this over about a 50-year period in the last century and found 81 times that the US interfered in other countries' elections. So we all do it. What we need to do is to make sure that our electoral process is protected. And I think because this has gotten partisan and it's all about partisan politics we have forgotten that really the most important thing is the integrity of our election. And there are things we can do and things that I've advocated: Making sure it's decentralized all the way down to the precinct level; making sure we don't store all the data in one place, even for a state, and that there's a back-up way so that someone in a precinct can say, 'Two thousand people signed in, this was the vote tally I sent to headquarters.' There's a lot of ways that we can back-up our election. Advertising, things like that, it's tricky. Can we restrict the Russians? We might be able to in some ways, but I think at the bottom line we wanted the Russians to admit it. They're not going to admit it in the same way we're not going to admit that we were involved in the Ukrainian elections or the Russian elections. So all countries that can spy do. All countries that want to interfere in elections and have the ability to, they try."

TAPPER: It sounds as though you are saying that the United States has done the equivalent of what the Russians did in the 2016 election, and it might sound to some viewers that you're offering that statement as an excuse for what the Russians did.

PAUL: No, what I would say is it's not morally equivalent, but I think in their mind it is. And I think it's important to know in your adversary's mind the way that they perceive things. I do think that they react to our interference in both their elections. One of the reasons they really didn't like Hillary Clinton is they found her responsible for some of the activity by the US in their elections under the Obama administration. So I'm not saying it's justified

TAPPER: But surely, Senator Paul, the United States has never done what the Russians did.

PAUL: I'm not saying they're equivalent, or morally equivalent, but I am saying that this is the way that the Russians respond. So if you want to know how we have better diplomacy, or better reactions, we have to know their response. But it's not just interference in elections that I think has caused this nationalism in Russia. Also, I think part of the reason is is we promised them when James Baker, at the end when Germany reunified, we promised them that we wouldn't go one inch eastward of Germany with NATO, and we've crept up on the borders, and we still have neocons in both parties who want Ukraine and Georgia to be in NATO.

That's very, very provocative and it has stimulated and encouraged nationalism in Russia. George Kennan predicted this. In 1998 when we still had Yeltsin and Russia was coming in our direction, he said, if you push NATO up against Russia's borders, nationalism will arise and their militarist tendencies will increase, and you may get someone like a Putin, basically.

George Kennan predicted the rise of Putin in 1998. And so we have to understand that for every action we have, there is a reaction. And it's a big mistake for us -- not to say that we're morally equivalent or that anything that Russia does is justified – but if we don't realize that everything we do has a reaction, we're not going to be very good at understanding and trying to have peace in the world (3:38)

Coupon Cutter , says: July 17, 2018 at 3:32 pm
It's pretty weird to read articles about "meddling" in US elections and not see the word "Israel" anywhere.

How much pro-Russia money was spent on "meddling" in 2016? How much pro-Israel money was spent "meddling" in 2016?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I do recommend reading it.

[Jul 05, 2018] Stuxnet opened a can of worms

Jul 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

...Stuxnet, which was thought to be a joint American-Israeli assault on Iran's nuclear program. And there are reports of U.S. attempts to similarly hamper North Korean missile development. Some consider such direct attacks on other governments to be akin to acts of war. Would Washington join Moscow in a pledge to become a good cyber citizen?

[Jul 05, 2018] Putin-Phobia, the Only Bipartisan Game in Town by Doug Bandow

Jul 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Few issues generate a bipartisan response in Washington. President Donald Trump's upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin is one.

Democrats who once pressed for détente with the Soviet Union act as if Trump will be giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Neoconservatives and other Republican hawks are equally horrified, having pressed for something close to war with Moscow since the latter's annexation of Crimea in 2014. Both sides act as if the Soviet Union has been reborn and Cold War has restarted.

Russia's critics present a long bill of requirements to be met before they would relax sanctions or otherwise improve relations. Putin could save time by agreeing to be an American vassal.

Topping everyone's list is Russian interference in the 2016 election, which was outrageous. Protecting the integrity of our democratic system is a vital interest, even if the American people sometimes treat candidates with contempt. Before joining the administration National Security Adviser John Bolton even called Russian meddling "a casus belli , a true act of war."

Washington Melts Down Over Prospect of Trump-Putin Meeting America the Hyperpowerful

Yet Washington has promiscuously meddled in other nations' elections. Carnegie Mellon's Dov H. Levin figured that between 1946 and 2000 the U.S. government interfered with 81 foreign contests, including the 1996 Russian poll. Retired U.S. intelligence officers freely admit that Washington has routinely sought to influence other nations' elections.

Yes, of course, Americans are the good guys and favor politicians and parties that the other peoples would vote for if only they better understood their own interests -- as we naturally do. Unfortunately, foreign governments don't see Uncle Sam as a Vestal Virgin acting on behalf of mankind. Indeed, Washington typically promotes outcomes more advantageous to, well, Washington. Perhaps Trump and Putin could make a bilateral commitment to stay out of other nations' elections.

Another reason to shun Russia, argued Senator Rob Portman, is because "Russia still occupies Crimea and continues to fuel a violent conflict in eastern Ukraine." Moscow annexed Crimea after a U.S.-backed street putsch ousted the elected but highly corrupt Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The territory historically was Russian, turned over to Ukraine most likely as part of a political bargain in the power struggle following Joseph Stalin's death. A majority of Crimeans probably wanted to return to Russia. However, the annexation was lawless.

Rather like America's dismemberment of Serbia, detaching Kosovo after mighty NATO entered the final civil war growing out of the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Naturally, the U.S. again had right on its side -- it always does! -- which obviously negated any obligations created by international law. Ever-virtuous Washington even ignored the post-victory ethnic cleansing by Albanian Kosovars

Still, this makes Washington's complaints about Russia seem just a bit hypocritical: do as we say, not as we do. In August 2008 John McCain expressed outrage over Russia's war with Georgia, exclaiming: "In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations." Apparently he forgot that five years before the U.S. invaded Iraq, with McCain's passionate support. Here, too, the two presidents could agree to mutual forbearance.

Worse is the conflict in the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, between the Ukrainian army and separatists backed by Russia. Casualty estimates vary widely, but are in the thousands. Moscow successfully weakened Kiev and prevented its accession to NATO. However, that offers neither legal nor moral justification for underwriting armed revolt.

Alas, the U.S. again comes to Russia with unclean hands. Washington is supporting the brutal war by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates against Yemen. Area specialists agree that the conflict started as just another violent episode in a country which has suffered civil strife and war for decades. The Houthis, a tribal/ethnic/religious militia, joined with their long-time enemy, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, to oust his successor, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi attacked to reinstall a pliable regime and win economic control. The U.S. joined the aggressors . At least Russia could claim national security was at stake, since it feared Ukraine might join NATO.

The "coalition" attack turned the Yemeni conflict into a sectarian fight, forced the Houthis to seek Iranian aid, and allowed Tehran to bleed its Gulf rivals at little cost. Human rights groups agree that the vast majority of civilian deaths and bulk of destruction have been caused by Saudi and Emirati bombing, with Washington's direct assistance. The humanitarian crisis includes a massive cholera epidemic. The security consequences include empowering al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Perhaps the U.S. and Russian governments could commit to jointly forgo supporting war for frivolous causes.

Human carnage and physical destruction are widespread in Syria. It will take years to rebuild homes and communities; the hundreds of thousands of dead can never be replaced. Yet Moscow has gone all out to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power. The Heritage Foundation's Luke Coffey and Alexis Mrachek demand that Moscow end its support for Assad "and demonstrate a genuine willingness to work with the international community to bring a political end to the Syrian civil war." The American Enterprise Institute's Leon Aron urged "a true Russian withdrawal from Syria, specifically ceding control of the Hmeymim airbase and dismantling recent expansions to the Tartus naval facility."

But the U.S. is in no position to complain. Washington's intervention has been disastrous, first discouraging a negotiated settlement, then promoting largely non-existent moderate insurgents, backing radicals, including the al-Qaeda affiliate (remember 9/11!?) against Assad, simultaneously allying with Kurds and Turks, and taking over the fight against the Islamic State even though virtually everyone in the Mideast had reason to oppose the group.

At least Russia, invited by the recognized government, had a reason to be there. Moscow's alliance with Syria dates back to the Cold War and poses no threat to America, which is allied with Israel, the Gulf States, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt. Washington also possesses military facilities in Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates. For most Middle Eastern countries Moscow is primarily a bargaining chip to extort more benefits from America. Trump could propose that both countries withdraw from Syria.

Coffey and Mracek also express outrage that Moscow "has weaponized its natural gas exports to Europe, turning off the tap when countries dare go against its wishes." Russia's customers should not fear coercion via cut-off. Of course, the U.S. never uses its economic power for political ends. Other than to routinely impose economic sanctions on a variety of nations on its naughty list. And to penalize not only American firms, but businesses from every other nation .

Indeed, the Trump administration is insisting that every company in every country stop doing business with Iran. The U.S. government will bar violators from the U.S. market or impose ruinous fines on them. The Trump administration plans to sanction even its European allies, those most vulnerable to Russian energy politics. Which suggests a modus vivendi that America's friends likely would applaud: both Washington and Moscow could promise not to take advantage of other nations' economic vulnerabilities for political ends.

Cyberwar is a variant of economic conflict. Heritage's Mracek cited "the calamitous cyberattack, NotPetya," as "part of Russia's effort to destabilize Ukraine even further than in the past." Yes, a criminal act. Of course, much the same could be said of Stuxnet, which was thought to be a joint American-Israeli assault on Iran's nuclear program. And there are reports of U.S. attempts to similarly hamper North Korean missile development. Some consider such direct attacks on other governments to be akin to acts of war. Would Washington join Moscow in a pledge to become a good cyber citizen?

Virtually everyone challenges Russia on human rights. Moscow falls far short, with Putin's control of the media, manipulation of the electoral process, and violence against those perceived as regime enemies. In this regard, at least, America is far better.

But many U.S. allies similarly fail this test. For instance, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has created an authoritarian state retaining merely the forms of democracy. Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has constructed a tyranny more brutal than that of Hosni Mubarak. Saudi Arabia's monarchy allows neither religious nor political freedom, and has grown more repressive under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. It is not just Trump who remains largely silent about such assaults on people's basic liberties. So do many of the president's critics, who express horror that he would deal with such a man as Putin.

Moscow will not be an easy partner for the U.S. Explaining that "nobody wanted to listen to us" before he took over, in March Putin declared: "You hear us now!" Compromise is inevitable, but requires respect for both nations' interests. A starting point could be returning the two nations' embassies to full strength and addressing arms control, such as the faltering Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and soon-expiring Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. A larger understanding based on NATO ending alliance expansion in return for Russia withdrawing from the conflict in the Donbas would be worth pursuing.

Neither the U.S. nor the Russian Federation can afford to allow their relations to deteriorate into another Cold War. Russia is too important on too many issues, including acting as a counterweight to China, the most serious geopolitical challenge to the U.S. Hopefully the upcoming summit will begin the difficult process of rebuilding a working relationship between Washington and Moscow.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .

[Jun 25, 2018] Comment on "Trump and "National Neoliberalism""

Jun 25, 2018 | triplecrisis.com
  1. Thomas Williams says: November 30, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Sasha:

    Got my Economics Degree in 1971 – when they still taught the stuff. Maybe I shouldn't, but I still go nuts when educated writers like yourself distort the origins of Fascism. It was a three legged stool consisting of government, industry and labor. Taking care of the working class was a key element. Also, being socialist, it was not market oriented. Neoliberalism is exactly the opposite with it's 'lump of labor' and unregulated markets. It arose in defense of the crushing fist of western capitalism and, had it not been taken over by dictators, might have done the world a lot of good. Other than that you wrote a nice piece. Keep it up

[Jun 25, 2018] Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside US Rebels in Syria's South?

Jun 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

DARAA, Syria – At first glance, all appears calm in this southern Syrian city where protests first broke out seven years ago. Residents mill around shops in preparation for the evening Iftar meal when they break their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

But the tension is nonetheless palpable in this now government-controlled city. A few weeks ago, Russian-brokered reconciliation talks in southern Syria fell apart when Western-backed militants rejected a negotiated peace.

Whether there will now be a full-on battle for the south or not, visits last week to Syria's three southern governorates, Daraa, Quneitra, and Suweida, reveal a startling possibility: al-Qaeda's Syrian franchise -- the Nusra Front -- appears to be deeply entrenched alongside these U.S.-backed militants in key, strategic towns and villages scattered throughout the south.

U.S. media and think tanks obfuscate this fact by referring to all opposition fighters as "rebels" or "moderates." Take a look at their maps and you only see three colors: red for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies, green for opposition forces, black for ISIS.

No More Utopian Dreams on Syria War Without a Rationale

So then, where is the Nusra Front, long considered by Western pundits to be one of the most potent fighting forces against the SAA? Have they simply -- and conveniently -- been erased from the Syrian battle map?

Discussions with Syrian military experts, analysts, and opposition fighters during my trip revealed that Nusra is alive and kicking in the southern battlefields. The map below specifically identifies areas in the south controlled by Nusra, but there are many more locations that do not appear where Nusra is present and shares power with other militants.

Despite its U.S. and UN designation as a terrorist organization, Nusra has been openly fighting alongside the "Southern Front," a group of 54 opposition militias funded and commanded by a U.S.-led war room based in Amman, Jordan called the Military Operations Center (MOC).

Specifics about the MOC aren't easy to come by, but sources inside Syria -- both opposition fighters and Syrian military brass (past and present) -- suggest the command center consists of the U.S., UK, France, Jordan, Israel, and some Persian Gulf states.

They say the MOC supplies funds, weapons, salaries, intel, and training to the 54 militias, many of which consist of a mere 200 or so fighters that are further broken down into smaller groups, some only a few dozen strong.

SAA General Ahmad al-Issa, a commander for the frontline in Daraa, says the MOC is a U.S.-led operation that controls the movements of Southern Front "terrorists" and is highly influenced by Israel's strategic goals in the south of Syria -- one of which is to seize control of its bordering areas to create a "buffer" inside Syrian territories.

How does he know this? Issa says his information comes from a cross-section of sources, including reconciled/captured militants and intel from the MOC itself. The general cites MOC's own rulebook for militants as an example of its Israel-centricity: "One, never threaten or approach any Israeli border in any way. Two, protect the borders with (Israeli-occupied) Golan so no one can enter Israel."

To illustrate the MOC's control over southern militants, Issa cites further regulations: "three, never take any military action before clearing with MOC first. Four, if the MOC asks groups to attack or stop, they must do so."

What happens if these rules are not upheld? "They will get their salaries cut," says Issa.

The armed opposition groups supported by the MOC are mostly affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), itself an ill-defined, highly fungible group of militants who have changed names and affiliations with frequency during the Syrian conflict.

Over the course of the war, the FSA has fought alongside the Nusra Front and ISIS -- some have even joined them. Today, despite efforts to whitewash the FSA and Southern Front as "non-sectarian" and non-extremist , factions like the Yarmouk Army, Mu'tazz Billah Brigade, Salah al-Din Division, Fajr al-Islam Brigade, Fallujah al-Houran Brigade, the Bunyan al-Marsous grouping, Saifollah al-Masloul Brigade, and others are currently occupying keys areas in Daraa in cooperation with the Nusra Front.

None of this is news to American policymakers. Even before the MOC was established in February 2014, Nusra militants were fronting vital military maneuvers for the FSA. As one Daraa opposition activist explains: "The FSA and al-Nusra join together for operations but they have an agreement to let the FSA lead for public reasons, because they don't want to frighten Jordan or the West . Operations that were really carried out by al-Nusra are publicly presented by the FSA as their own."

Efforts to conceal the depth of cooperation between Nusra and the FSA go right to the top. Says one FSA commander in Daraa: "In many battles, al-Nusra takes part, but we don't tell the (MOC) operations room about it."

It's highly doubtful that the U.S. military remains unaware of this. The Americans operate on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis with regard to FSA-Nusra cooperation. In a 2015 interview with this reporter , CENTCOM spokesman Lieutenant Commander Kyle Raines was quizzed about why Pentagon-vetted fighters' weapons were showing up in Nusra hands. Raines responded: " We don't 'command and control' these forces -- we only 'train and enable' them. Who they say they're allying with, that's their business."

In practice, the U.S. doesn't appear to mind the Nusra affiliation -- regardless of the fact that the group is a terror organization -- as long as the job gets done.

U.S. arms have been seen in Nusra's possession for many years now, including highly valued TOW missiles , which were game-changing weapons in the Syrian military theater. When American weapons end up in al-Qaeda hands during the first or second year of a conflict, one assumes simple errors in judgment. When the problem persists after seven years, however, it starts to look like there's a policy in place to look the other way.

It's also not difficult to grasp why U.S. maps patently ignore evidence of Nusra embedded among U.S.-supported militias. The group, after all, is exempt from ceasefires, viewed as a fair target for military strikes at all times.

In December 2015, UN Security Council Resolution 2254 called for "Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da'esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the Security Council" (emphasis added). Furthermore, the resolution makes clear that ceasefires "will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities."

This essentially means that the Syrian army and its allies can tear apart any areas in the south of Syria where Nusra fighters -- and "entities associated" with it -- are based. In effect, international law provides a free hand for a Syrian military assault against U.S.-backed militias co-located with Nusra, and undermines the ability of their foreign sponsors to take retaliatory measures.

That's why the Nusra Front doesn't show up on U.S. maps.

In an interview last week, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad blamed the sudden breakdown of southern reconciliation efforts on "Israeli and American interference," which he says "put pressure on the terrorists in that area in order to prevent reaching any compromise or peaceful resolution."

Today, the Israeli border area with Syria is dotted with Nusra and ISIS encampments, which Israel clearly prefers over the Syrian army and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies. The Wall Street Journal even reported last year that Israel was secretly providing funding for salaries, food, fuel, and munitions to militants across its border.

In early June, two former Islamist FSA members (one of them also a former Nusra fighter) in Beit Jinn -- a strategic area bordering Syria, Lebanon, and Israel -- told me that Israel had been paying their militia's salaries for a year before a reconciliation deal was struck with the Syrian government. "Every month Israel would send us $200,000 to keep fighting," one revealed. "Our leaders were following the outside countries. We were supported by MOC, they kept supporting us till the last minute," he said.

Earlier that day, in the village of Hadar in the Syrian Golan, members of the Druze community described a bloody Nusra attack last November that killed 17: "All the people here saw how Israel helped Nusra terrorists that day. They covered them with live fire from the hilltops to help Nusra take over Hadar. And at the end of the fights, Israel takes in the injured Nusra fighters and provides them with medical services," says Marwan Tawil, a local English teacher.

"The ceasefire line (Syrian-Israeli border) is 65 kilometers between here to Jordan, and only this area is under the control of the SAA," explains Hadar's mayor. "Sixty kilometers is with Nusra and Israel and only the other five are under the SAA."

Israel is so heavily vested in keeping Syria and its allies away from its borders, it has actively bolstered al-Qaeda and other extremists in Syria's southern theater. As Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon famously explained in 2016, "In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State." To justify their interventions in the battle ahead, the U.S. and Israel claim that Iranian and Hezbollah forces are present in the south, yet on the ground in Daraa and Quneitra, there is no visible sight of either.

Multiple sources confirm this in Daraa, and insist that that there are only a handful of Hezbollah advisors -- not fighters -- in the entire governorate.

So why the spin? "This is a public diplomacy effort to make the West look like they've forced Iran and Hezbollah out of the south," explains General Issa.

The U.S., Israel, and their allies cannot win this southern fight. They can only prolong the insecurity for a while before the SAA decides to launch a military campaign against the 54-plus-militias-Nusra occupying the south of Syria. The end result is likely to be a negotiated settlement peppered with a few "soft battles" to eject the more hardline militants.

As one SAA soldier on the scene in Daraa tells me: "Fifty-four factions in a small area shows weakness more than it shows strength." And their cooperation with the Nusra Front just makes the targets on their backs even larger.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Mideast geopolitics based in Beirut.

[Jun 24, 2018] American Empire Demands a Caesar by Bruce Fein

Notable quotes:
"... Process ..."
Jun 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Trump is hardly our first emperor. The warfare state has been trampling the Constitution for a long time. Credit: Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock The United States has adorned its president with extravagance that makes Roman emperors appear frugal by comparison. And such visible signs of the deification of our president are complemented by legal doctrines that echo Richard Nixon's once discredited claim to David Frost: "When the president does it, that means it is not illegal."

These extra-constitutional developments reflect the transformation of the United States from a republic, whose glory was liberty and whose rule of law was king, to an empire, whose glory is global dominion and whose president is law. The Constitution's architects would be shocked to learn that contemporary presidents play prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner to any person on the planet deemed a threat to national security on the basis of secret, untested evidence known only to the White House.

An empire demands a Caesar and blind obedience from its citizens. World leadership through the global projection of military force cannot be exercised with checks and balances and a separation of powers that arrests speed and invites debate. Napoleon lectured: "Nothing in war is more important than unity of command . Better one bad general than two good ones." And Lord Tennyson, saluting the British Empire, versified in The Charge of the Light Brigade :

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"

Was there a man dismayed?

Not though the soldier knew

Someone had blundered.

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die.

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

As justice requires the appearance of justice, a Caesar requires the appearance of a Caesar. Thus is the president protected by platoons of Secret Service agents. The White House, by closing previously open avenues through the heart of the capital and shielding the president from citizen detractors, has become a castle. The White House staff has expanded and aggrandized power at the expense of Cabinet officials confirmed with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Debate, encouraged by the separation of powers, is superfluous where support for empire is underwritten by the multi-trillion-dollar military-industrial-counterterrorism complex, as it is in the United States. The Republican and Democratic parties are unified behind at least seven ongoing unconstitutional presidential wars and climbing trillion-dollar national security budgets.

Our warfare state has given birth to subsidiary surveillance, crony capitalism, and a welfare state. Congress and the judicial branch have become largely sound and fury, signifying nothing. The Constitution's separation of powers is atrophying.

The life of the law is not justice but genuflections to power. It manufactures doctrines that honor the power principle that the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. When the configuration of power changes, the law adapts accordingly. The adaptations may not be instantaneous, but they are inexorable. This is not surprising. Judges are not born like Athena from the head of Zeus. They are selected through a political process that vets them for compatibility with the views of their political benefactors. Benjamin Cardozo observed in The Nature of the Judicial Process : "The great tides and currents which engulf the rest of men do not turn aside in their course and pass the judges by."

The United States has become the largest and most actively garrisoned empire in history, built up by World War II and the 1991 disintegration of the Soviet Union. Our empire has, among other things, approximately 800 military bases in more than 70 countries, over 240,000 active duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories , de facto or de jure commitments to defend 70 countries, and presidential wars as belligerents or co-belligerents in Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The president has by necessity become a Caesar irrespective of whether the occupant of the White House possesses recessive or dominant genes. The law has adapted accordingly, destroying the Constitution like a wrecking ball.

At present, the president with impunity initiates war in violation of the Declare War Clause; kills American citizens in violation of the Due Process Clause; engages in indiscriminate surveillance his own citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment; substitutes executive agreements for treaties to circumvent the requirements of Senate ratifications by two-thirds majorities in violation of the Treaty Clause; substitutes executive orders for legislation in violation of Article I, section 1; issues presidential signing statements indistinguishable from line-item vetoes in violation of the Presentment Clause; wields vast standard-less delegations of legislative authority in violation of the Constitution's separation of powers; brandishes a state secrets privilege to block judicial redress for unconstitutional executive action in violation of due process; refuses submission to congressional oversight in violation of the congressional power of inquiry; and declines to defend defensible duly enacted laws in violation of the Take Care Clause.

The Constitution will be reborn only if the American people reject their Empire in favor of a republic where individual liberty is the summum bonum. The odds of that happening are not good.

Bruce Fein was associate deputy attorney general and general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission under President Reagan and counsel to the Joint Congressional Committee on Covert Arms Sales to Iran. He is a partner in the law firm of Fein & DelValle PLLC.

[Jun 22, 2018] Close All the Military Bases by Michael J. Ard

Jun 22, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Anthropologist David Vine spent several years visiting and investigating U.S military bases abroad. To put it mildly, he disapproves of what he found. In his sweeping critique, Base Nation , Vine concludes that Washington's extensive network of foreign bases -- he claims there are about 800 of them -- causes friction with erstwhile American allies, costs way too much money, underwrites dictatorships, pollutes the environment, and morally compromises the country. Far from providing an important strategic deterrent, the bases actually undermine our security. To remedy this immense travesty, Vine calls for Washington to bring the troops back home.

If nothing else, Base Nation is a timely book. The issue of our expensive foreign commitments has taken center stage in this presidential election. Vine probably finds it ironic that most of the criticism is coming from Donald Trump.

Our extensive foreign-base network is probably an issue that we can't ignore for long. Today, there seems more urgency to look at these long-term base commitments and examine what we are really getting out of them. So, for raising the issue, I say, "Thank you for your service, Mr. Vine."

But it is a shame that Base Nation , which could have made a strong contribution to this debate, ends up making a heavy-handed and somewhat unreliable case against and the U.S. military and U.S. foreign policy in general. His sweeping indictments detract from the importance of his initial focus, our overextended base network.

There are some positives. Vine stands on firm ground when he details how inefficient the base system often is. In fact, this is an issue that the federal government has been addressing, albeit slowly and haltingly. Budget realities are solving the problem; many bases are being shuttered and their functions consolidated into others. Vine thinks that overseas bases cost us at least $71 billion a year; maybe closer to $100-200 billion. In one of the more persuasive sections of the book, he explains how he made these calculations, which follow to some extent an important 2013 study from the RAND Corporation. That it is difficult coming up with any precise figures on overseas base spending suggests that we probably need to take a harder look at how taxpayer money is being used.

Likewise, Vine raises valid criticisms about how many bases were constructed by either displacing native populations, as the British did for our benefit at the Indian Ocean atoll Diego Garcia, or by marginalizing the locals, as we allegedly have done at Okinawa in Japan. He highlights the environmental damage done by U.S. military ordnance, although I think it unfair that he ignores the more scrupulous attendance to the environment that we find in today's armed forces. And Vine is right that having many young and bored men based far from home probably doesn't elevate the morals of the local, host population.

But Vine simply fails to persuade in other parts of his critique. His fundamental distrust of the military leads him to accept unquestioningly every dubious charge against it. He also tends to be less than discriminating in some of his sourcing and characterization of events. These problems undermine the overall credibility of his reporting.

Part of the problem with Base Nation is definitional. Vine's definition of a base -- "any place, facility or installation used regularly for military purposes, of any kind" -- is far too broad. Even temporary assignments with host governments get defined as "bases." This leads him to estimate that there are at minimum 686 bases, with 800 being "a good estimate." Why the need to inflate the numbers?

Vine's foreign-base maps, though compelling to look at, appear a bit suspect in light of his expanded definition. What's that big star in Greenland? That's Thule Air Station, a Danish base, where we have about 100 personnel. And the other one in Ascension Island? That's a small satellite-monitoring station, run by the British. What's that dot in Cairo? Oh, it's a medical-research facility. These are hardly the footprints of overweening imperialism.

Likewise, he identifies many bases in Africa. To debunk the official position that we have one permanent base there -- in Djibouti, rented from the French -- plus a few drone sites, Vine relies on dodgy research from Nick Turse, a noted anti-military critic who thinks that the Pentagon runs a hidden African empire.

Along similar lines, Vine believes the U.S. maintains an extensive, secret base system in Latin America. We have one permanent base in the region, Cuba's Guantanamo Bay (GTMO). Once all the al-Qaeda prisoners are gone, GTMO's main function will return to fleet training and disaster response for the Caribbean. In addition, we have one arrangement in Soto Cano Air Field in Honduras, which hosts a squadron of helicopters engaged in counternarcotic operations. How does this base destabilize Central America, as Vine suggests? You got me.

Soto Cano is featured in one of the more tendentious chapters, which reveals Vine's method. In discussing the base, he strongly suggests the U.S. military there conspired with the Honduran Army during the "coup" against President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. He quotes a local activist insisting the U.S. was behind the coup, and then leaves it at that. In fact, the U.S. government firmly opposed removing the anti-American Zelaya, slapped sanctions on Honduras, and negotiated for months to have Zelaya brought back into Honduras. Suggesting the U.S. military backed the coup is, well, baseless.

Many of Vine's scattershot charges are of a similar nature. He accuses the U.S. Navy of being in bed with the mob in Naples because, allegedly, it rents housing from landlords who may have mob connections. He blames the military for the red-light districts around foreign bases, like in South Korea, as if it directly created them. In another context, he claims, based on one professor's opinion, that the U.S. Naval Academy fosters a rampant rape culture, and so on.

Toward the end of the book, Vine challenges those who believe the bases are providing valuable deterrence to "prove it." I'm not sure I can prove it to his satisfaction, but regarding Korean-peninsula security, some experts point to our strong presence there as deterring both sides from overreacting. And regarding Iraq, it seems evident that leaving without any U.S. military presence destabilized the country. Many of our operations with foreign militaries in Africa, Latin America, and southeast Asia have a strong humanitarian focus. It is disconcerting that he dedicates no space to these important, stabilizing missions that are often enabled by our forward base deployment.

But Vine never demonstrates his main point: that the bases themselves are destabilizing. The countries with our largest base presence -- Germany, Italy, South Korea, and Japan -- are all prosperous, peaceful democracies. As for the local protests at our foreign military bases that occasionally happen, these seem no more problematic than what occurs, certainly more often, at our many embassies abroad. Should we withdraw our diplomatic missions too?

As for bases destabilizing the developing world, Vine overplays the U.S.-imperialism angle and fails to appreciate how much control even a weaker government has over its own sovereignty. Little Honduras could kick us out of Soto Cano tomorrow; we have an agreement that could end at any time. Ecuador refused to renew our lease at Manta Air Base in 2008; we left without much fuss. The Philippines in 1992 changed its constitution to prohibit foreign bases, forcing us to leave Subic Bay. Now Manila, feeling threatened by China over the South China Sea island disputes, is inviting us back. The Filipinos mustn't feel our presence too destabilizing.

Given Vine's criticism of our large base footprint, you would think he'd approve of the Pentagon's recent plans on lowering its profile with its "lily pad" strategy -- bilaterally negotiated, pre-staged locations that might enable a future deployment. Surely this approach would alleviate the problems of the large, permanent bases Vine so painstakingly sights? But, somewhat illogically, he objects to this "light footprint" approach as a new sign of encroaching imperialism, not of gradual U.S. realignment and withdrawal.

Even if he doesn't make a strong case in Base Nation , in the long run, Vine probably will get his wish. It is hard to imagine that an extensive military base network in Europe and East Asia, the outcome of our victory in World War II and justified by Cold War strategy, will still make sense a few decades down the road. Changes are already in the wind. A new strategy for U.S. foreign policy and military power projection will doubtless be shaped largely by budget exigencies and shifts in our allies' regional security priorities.

Michael J. Ard, a former naval officer and U.S. government analyst, works in the security field and lectures on international security at Rice University.


Fran Macadam July 15, 2016 at 9:20 am

Our critic seems to have some serious cognitive dissonance going on in his avoidance of recognizing the imperial project that undergirds circling the world with U.S. military power projection.
Rossbach , says: July 15, 2016 at 9:57 am
Fran Macadam is right. The bases and the problems they create are incidental to the policy that engendered. Our nation went from a policy of intermittent imperialism after 1898 to one of permanent imperialism after 1941.

Unless we ditch the empire and return to our correct status as an independent republic, we will suffer the fate of all previous empires.

An Agrarian , says: July 15, 2016 at 10:29 am
If we grant that our global commitments are burdensome, why not take the argument in a reasonable direction. As we remember from the days of BRAC, closing bases is like pulling eye teeth, so let's focus on narrowing this argument down to what may be feasible: End NATO, remove our unwelcome forces from the Middle East, and shutter the bases where we're not wanted (e.g. AFRICOM, Okinawa) and where leases are due to expire. We need to walk our projection back from the borders of China & Russia. Even a minimal plan of this sort would require a decade to accomplish. Ultimately we need a master, strategic foreign policy vision that walks back our global projection this debate goes nowhere without that. Unfortunately neither GOP or Democrat parties offer this vision. No need to wring our hands over a "Close All the Bases" debate until we're back to Constitutional governance and foreign policy, and are rid of the military-industrial complex. And the odds of that are ?
LouisM , says: July 15, 2016 at 12:45 pm
Our Founding Fathers never wanted or would have allowed foreign military bases. Thomas Jefferson was adamantly opposed to building a navy but John Adams built a navy and Jefferson used it to stop muslim barbarians from enslaving the crews of US merchant ships.

I cannot fathom why the US needs basis throughout the world. Id much rather have a strong Philipines, Japan and Taiwan for us to partner with than vassal states that spend nothing for their own defense and put the entire burden the their alliance on the US. How many shades is that from colonialism or parasitism? Not that far in my book.

Europe is a fine example of parasitism. Today Europe expects its protector to be the US, it has shifted all its resources to social programs and as a result it cannot even defend its borders from unarmed migrants much less from a hostile aggressor.

So what is the strategy to contain Russia and China by being in Central Asia, to contain Europe by constraining it with NATO, to constrain Asia via China, Japan, Philipines, Vietnam, etc.

Im not a fan. The US is spending so much money maintaining these military alliances and using US money and jobs to bribe compliance that our nation is going bankrupt and our infrastructure is 3rd world. If these truly are competitor nations the wiser approach would be to have a strong 1st world infrastructure, a strong economy, strong education and employment and expansion into Mexico, Central America and South America. Nowhere else in the world is a nation capable of dominating an entire continent from aggressor competing nations. Nowhere else in the world is a nation capable of dominating an entire portion of the globe. Instead of growing North, Central and South America we are constraining the rest of the globe. Not only is this fiscally irresponsible but one can only shake a bottle of champagne for so long and expect the bottle to constrain the carbonation. Eventually the cork will pop and the declining debtor power will be brought down to size with years of animous for holding others back.

JWJ , says: July 15, 2016 at 2:42 pm
" causes friction with erstwhile American allies, costs way too much money, underwrites dictatorships, pollutes the environment, and morally compromises the country."

Nowhere in this article is there mention of what I would hope to be the primary purpose of a forward base.
Does it truly help the US military defend the US (and I would include projections of power that deter bad actors)?
If yes, then sod off to the wanker David Vine

Commenter Man , says: July 15, 2016 at 11:13 pm
This is a jobs and profits program all around. So there will be plenty of opposition to reducing the bases.
Fran Macadam , says: July 16, 2016 at 8:14 am
Our elites run roughshod over other peoples, and the American people can't constrain them either. At least we know who the "real" Americans are. L'etat, it is them.
bacon , says: July 16, 2016 at 9:03 pm
It shouldn't be a surprise that others piggyback on our defense spending. Why would they not? From our point of view, who pays, says, and since we insist on saying wherever we can, we've got to pay.

I have frequently wondered how costs of this sort of thing are calculated. Do the taxes military families pay get deducted from the cost? Given at least some of them would be unemployed in today's economy, do benefits they would have get deducted? Does the money they spend in local economies in the US when not deployed get factored in some way? What about the taxes the corporations which provide goods and services to the military pay, and that their employees pay? It would seem almost impossible to arrive at an accurate cost figure.

Guest , says: July 18, 2016 at 12:39 am
"Does it truly help the US military defend the US (and I would include projections of power that deter bad actors)?
If yes, then sod off to the wanker David Vine"

Using that logic, you wouldn't mind Russia or China setting up a military base in Mexico or Cuba to deter the US (a proven 'bad actor') right??

[Jun 22, 2018] Mexico Readies for Revolt Against Neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Michael J. Ard is a former deputy national intelligence officer for the Western Hemisphere and the author of ..."
"... ." He teaches international relations at Rice University's Master of Global Affairs program. ..."
Jun 22, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Like a Dos Equis ad, Mexico is "keeping it interesante ." On July 1, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the veteran left-wing politician known as AMLO, will likely win Mexico's presidential election , to the horror of policy analysts, U.S. government officials, and the Mexican business community. As head of the upstart National Regeneration Movement (MORENA, the Spanish acronym, also means "dark skin"), AMLO pledges to make Mexico self-sufficient on food, halt foreign investment in the oil industry, and grant amnesty to drug traffickers. AMLO hates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) -- although he's promised to stay in it for now -- and "the Wall" even more.

Washington's days of having a predictable and compliant partner in Mexico may be over.

This election is likely to radically transform Mexican politics. MORENA is surging in the polls and may give AMLO a strong legislative bloc. Nationalist-minded legislators from other parties could also defect to his agenda. That would cause a major Mexican political realignment, under which for the next six years it could be governed by a self-described "revolutionary nationalist" ruling coalition. It makes sense: Mexico's neoliberal era had to end sooner or later. AMLO's longtime critique of an unfair economy and a complacent and unresponsive political system has finally resonated.

What accounts for this sudden turnaround? Several factors have aligned in AMLO's favor. Start with AMLO's opponents, who, in a time of change, represent continuity, splitting the neoliberal vote in Mexico's "winner-take-all" system. The conservative National Action Party (PAN), his strongest competitor, diluted its solid brand by running in coalition with two leftist parties. The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) selected a well-qualified former finance minister who is out of his depth as a campaigner. That's left the once-powerful PRI mailing this campaign in, and AMLO siphoning up its traditional voters.

A Destitute Mexico: Is That What We Want? Why We Want Immigrants Who Add Value

Insecurity and corruption, according to polls , are the top issues for Mexican voters, and on these AMLO scores well. Especially on managing corruption and crime, Mexico's political elite have appeared notoriously inept. The former head of the state oil company PEMEX, a close ally of President Enrique Peña Nieto, has been credibly accused of taking up to $10 million in bribes to approve contracts from the corrupt Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. Several governors have been indicted for racketeering and graft; one even went on the lam and was arrested in Guatemala. Recently, Mexico's 12-year campaign to corral drug trafficking organizations fell apart, and violence skyrocketed. Twenty-eight thousand Mexicans were murdered last year, and political candidates are being physically attacked. Meanwhile, drug trafficking gangs ("cartels") are placing parts of the country off limits.

Then there's President Trump, who has treated Mexico as a problem and not as a partner by insisting that it fund his humiliating border wall. When asked in 2015 by Wall Street Journal editors if he thought the U.S. should promote stability and economic growth in Mexico, he replied, "I don't care about Mexico honestly. I really don't care about Mexico." Trump has bolstered AMLO's long-held view that Mexico has relied on the United States for too long. On the campaign trail, AMLO has vowed to put Trump "in his place."

Still, these more immediate causes don't entirely explain AMLO's impending success. At a deeper level, AMLO seems to be Mexico's answer to Samuel Huntington's key "who are we?" question on national identity. AMLO's MORENA explicitly seeks to revive the abandoned ideals of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920): anti-imperialism, defense of national resources, equality, and the protection of peasant rights. Tellingly, AMLO cites as his heroes two successful presidents who propelled Mexico forward: Benito Juarez, the black-clad Zapotec Indian who defeated the French-backed 19th-century "empire," and Lazaro Cardenas, the former revolutionary general who nationalized the oil industry and built the modern Mexican state.

Despite his populism, AMLO hasn't always been an outsider. He started his political career during the 1980s, when the PRI was still was Mexico's governing party. But he soon saw the changes happening in his rural native state of Tabasco, when the oil boom pushed out the farming and fishing industry. AMLO dissented from the PRI's decision to liberalize the economy and joined the opposition in 1988.

Led by Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who was president from 1988 to 1994, the country embarked on a strict neoliberal development path and internationalist agenda, reversing its program of statist economics and authoritarian governance. Its ruling politicians sold state industries, embraced market reforms, let the peso float, and joined the North American Free Trade Agreement. Over the last several years, Mexico City has even permitted greater American involvement in its war against drug traffickers. Under Peña Nieto, Mexico finally allowed its oil industry to permit foreign investment.

In truth, these reforms worked well enough: Mexico democratized and developed into a solidly middle-income country with steady economic growth. Net immigration into the United States has come to a halt. Security issues were messy, but unlikely to destabilize the country.

These reforms represented a big win for Washington. If American intervention was needed for the occasional peso crisis or drug trafficker menace, we were happy to oblige. Mexico made a difficult partner at times, but on the policy side, it was where Washington wanted it to be.

But the cost of these changes may have been Mexico's identity, its sense of self. Returning to Huntington, his "The Clash of Civilizations?" article described Mexico as a state "torn" between its economic future and political and cultural past. After a top advisor to President Salinas described the sweeping changes the government was making, Huntington remarked, "It seems to me that basically you want to change Mexico from a Latin American country into a North American country." Salinas looked at him with surprise and exclaimed: "Exactly! That's precisely what we are trying to do, but of course we could never say so publicly."

AMLO and his followers have brooded about these radical changes for years. To this day, he refers to the arch-neoliberal Salinas simply as El Innombrable -- he that cannot be named. Neoliberalism launched AMLO not just on a political career but on a personal crusade to bring the country back to its former ideals.

When AMLO won the Mexico City mayorship in 2000, he built up a national political base and became a burr in the saddle of President Vicente Fox, who had embraced the liberal reforms of the formerly ruling PRI. AMLO criticized Fox relentlessly, and in retaliation, Fox attempted to have him legally prohibited from running for president in 2006.

This clumsy effort failed, giving AMLO a boost. But he narrowly lost the contest to the PAN's Felipe Calderon, whose campaign linked AMLO with Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez. Embittered in defeat, AMLO immediately claimed the voting was rigged against him. AMLO and his raucous followers held protests for months and even formed a parallel government. He may have lost in 2006, but he solidified his position as the leader of Mexico's alternative left.

AMLO's anti-system stance has given weight to the claim that he'd be another Chavez. The comparison seems invidious, as the late comandante of Venezuela, an avowed Marxist and coup plotter, crushed democratic institutions, set up a socialist economy, and in general drove what had been a prosperous South American country into the ground. AMLO, an authentic democrat, appears less megalomaniacal and more rules-focused, more the romantic reactionary than the revolutionary radical.

Still, many of the same forces that propelled Chavez are driving AMLO now. Like Chavez, AMLO is coming to power after a period of neoliberal reform and perceived intractable corruption. Like Chavez, AMLO enjoys an almost mystical bond with his nation's poorer classes. And very much like Chavez, AMLO is instinctively, but probably not irreversibly, anti-American in outlook.

How these characteristics will play out with AMLO in power is hard to predict. The two main parties won't be behind him, but many of their followers might. All of those alienated by neoliberalism, the perceived kowtowing to Washington, the surrender of economic resources to foreign companies and the free market, will flock to his banner. It is remarkable how some former members of the right-of-center National Action Party and the PRI have backed his campaign.

Some of AMLO's policy proposals seem less the stuff of hard leftism than nostalgic nationalism. He focuses heavily on national development for industry and agriculture aimed at self-reliance and reducing imports. He proposes holding referendums on the enacted legislation, a move to broaden democracy, which would require constitutional reform. He seeks to raise the minimum wage, but refreshingly pledges "no new taxes."

AMLO loves to wax nostalgic about Mexico's strong state traditions and will almost certainly attempt to restore the waning power of the Mexican presidency as an anti-corruption pulpit. In the tradition of newly inaugurated Mexican presidents, he'll probably look to prosecute a node of corruption in Mexican society: a prominent businessman or politician, rather than a labor union like his predecessors.

Much of the progress the United States has made with Mexico on security cooperation will probably be jeopardized. It's hard to believe that AMLO will endorse the close relations that the DEA, the Pentagon, and the intelligence community have forged with their Mexican counterparts in the war on drugs. The extradition of the notorious drug kingpin Joaquin el Chapo Guzman to the U.S. in 2017 will probably be the high watermark in the relationship. It is doubtful that AMLO will permit more high-profile extraditions. President Trump's disdain for a close relationship that has taken us decades to build may come back to haunt us.

But a poor relationship between Washington and Mexico City doesn't have to be inevitable. Despite the rhetoric, the flamboyant American billionaire has much in common with the austere Mexican populist. Both countries have too many common interests to go down separate paths. The question is: does AMLO have to build the bomb to get Trump to care about Mexico?

Michael J. Ard is a former deputy national intelligence officer for the Western Hemisphere and the author of "An Eternal Struggle: The Role of the National Action Party in Mexico's Democratic Transition ." He teaches international relations at Rice University's Master of Global Affairs program.


Youknowho June 21, 2018 at 7:30 am

Another diplomatic triumph of Trump

And just because they are similar do not expect that they might agree. Expect them to antagonize each other to play to their bases.

Carlos , says: June 21, 2018 at 10:52 am
That's just the thing, AMLO isn't "an authentic democrat." He founded MORENA so he could keep his presidential aspirations going; he's indistinguishable from the party. After losing in 2006, he notoriously said "to hell with institutions." His followers won't admit this, but his platform is as diluted as the rest: he's taken in suspects of corruption and has allied himself with both a very "conservative" party (the small, evangelical PES) and Mexico's hard leftists.
Hibernian , says: June 21, 2018 at 9:20 pm
"Washington's days of having a predictable and compliant partner in Mexico may be over."

What about Mexico's days of having a predictable and compliant partner in Washington?

[Jun 21, 2018] US interventions vs Russia interventions

Notable quotes:
"... The attributions of attacks to countries are very shaky. Throw in a couple of Cyrillic letters and voilà, you have associated a certain IP address or a certain piece of code with Russia. Somehow these simpleton arguments are uncritically accepted as proofs by computer security professionals the world over, who, of all people, really should know better. It's as if all the supposedly smart cryptographers and programmers are completely oblivious to the concept of manipulation. ..."
Jun 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 2:44:25 PM | 2

Could someone remind me the amount of country's America have invaded since the last world war 30 - 40 , I here'd. Compared to Russia 5-8 ? Russia is in Syria by invitation to deal with rebels/terrorist's .America is now threatening both. Despite being there to attempt a regime change. Just who do they think they are ? The sooner they are stopped the better and the easier.
karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 3:13:44 PM | 3
Mark2 @2--

Russia intervened nowhere; the USSR intervened in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In 1993, Yeltsin's cabal intervened in Russia to preserve Bush's and Clinton's New World Order. USSR was invited into Afghanistan; Outlaw US Empire wasn't. An incomplete list from William Blum's Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II . A graphic map based on Blum's book.

ben , Jun 21, 2018 5:31:23 PM | 14
Mark2@ 2: Here ya' go Mark:)

https://williamblum.org/essays/read/overthrowing-other-peoples-governments-the-master-list

karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 5:32:52 PM | 15
Yesterday, Putin met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Unfortunately, the Kremlin's recap of the meeting's currently incomplete, but what is recorded is instructive:

"Of course, we look at the Russian Federation as a founder of the United Nations and as a permanent member of the Security Council, but I would say that at the present moment we look at the Russian Federation as an indispensable element of the creation of a new multipolar world.

"To be entirely frank, these are not easy times for multilateralism and not easy times for the UN. And I think that after the Cold War and after a short period of unipolar world we are still struggling to find a way to have a structured, multipolar world with multilateral governmental institutions that can work. And this is something that worries me a lot and is something in which, I believe, the Russian Federation has a unique role to play."

Considering many think Guterres just an agent for the Outlaw US Empire, maybe his cited words will cause a reassessment. I'd like to know what followed. Apparently there was some discussion about Korea and the economic initiatives being openly discussed since RoK President Moon will arrive in Russia tomorrow.

Lavrov met with Guterres today, and his opening remarks shine a bit more light on what was discussed:

"As emphasised by President Putin, we have invariably supported, support, and will continue to support the UN, this unique universal organisation. We think highly of your intention, Mr Secretary-General, to raise the profile of the United Nations in world affairs, particularly in settling regional conflicts. As you noted yourself at the meeting in the Kremlin yesterday, this is largely dependent on the general state of the international system as a whole and the UN member states' readiness to act collectively, jointly, rather than unilaterally, and to pursue the goals enshrined in the UN Charter rather than self-centred,[sic] immediate aims.

"We note that you have consistently advocated the pooling of efforts by major players to deal with world problems. This is the logic of the UN Charter, specifically its clauses on the creation and powers of the UN Security Council. I hope that based on the values we share we will be able to successfully continue cooperation in the interests of solving international problems."

Lots of emphasis on the absolute necessity of making the UN Charter whole again and not allowing any one nation to make a mockery of it by pursuing its "self-centered, immediate aims."

Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 5:54:25 PM | 18
Ben @ 14
Thanks Ben. Yep that's what l thought reality would look like, that's my sanity safe for a while longer. Remember we are not alone!
Zanon @ 12
That is a perfect example of 'fake news' we can spot it here ! Or are we here now msm!
pantaraxia , Jun 21, 2018 6:06:38 PM | 20
@2 Mark2 'Could someone remind me the amount of country's America have invaded since the last world war '

Perhaps as relevant a question is how many countries are presently enjoying the beneficence of U.S. military operations?

According to Seymour Hersh in a recent interview on Democracy Now: " The United States is conducting war in 76 countries now."

Seymour Hersh on Torture at Abu Ghraib & Secret U.S. Assassination Programs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRvLZ6y4PxM

This confirms a recent statement by Sen. Bernie Sanders: "meanwhile we are "fighting terrorism" in some 76 countries...'

The Jimmy Dore Show - Bernie's Amazing Foreign Policy Smackdown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmcMzCIEV8Y

karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 6:19:58 PM | 21
I'd Like this made into a poster ! From Southfront's reporting about a RICO lawsuit filed against Clinton and Co. Quite the charge sheet, although it lacks several crimes.
Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 6:36:55 PM | 22
Pantaraxia @ 20
Wow that doubles what I was already shocked about ! And then of course there's the comercal operations destablising country's using greed as a weapon. Plus the banks, I'm sure South Africa would have been a real success if they'd kept the banking curuption out. Time for immoral capitalism to fall.
Also don't you just hate victim blaming.There that's me done. Grrr
S , Jun 21, 2018 9:49:05 PM | 32
@b: I know you're just one man and can't do everything, but it would be wonderful if you could cover the history of hacking accusations against Russia. No one lays out a sequence of events better than you.

Just yesterday, another accusation has been leveled against Russia by the head of Germany's BfV intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maassen: German intelligence sees Russia behind hack of energy firms - media report (Reuters). It's a serious accusation, and one would expect a serious proof. However, no proof has been given except that "it fits the Russian modus operandi". Also, the fact that the alleged attack has been named "Berserk Bear" by some unknown Western analyst. Apparently, that's enough proof by today's standards.

There is a critical lack of independent thinking and skepticism in the international computer security circles nowadays. The attributions of attacks to countries are very shaky. Throw in a couple of Cyrillic letters and voilà, you have associated a certain IP address or a certain piece of code with Russia. Somehow these simpleton arguments are uncritically accepted as proofs by computer security professionals the world over, who, of all people, really should know better. It's as if all the supposedly smart cryptographers and programmers are completely oblivious to the concept of manipulation.

[Jun 19, 2018] Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... Trump's vision would seem to include protection of core industries, existing demographics and cultural institutions combined with an end of "democratization," which will result in an acceptance of foreign autocratic or non-conforming regimes as long as they do not pose military or economic threats. ..."
"... Sounds good, I countered but there is a space between genius and idiocy and that would be called insanity, best illustrated by impulsive, irrational behavior coupled with acute hypersensitivity over perceived personal insults and a demonstrated inability to comprehend either generally accepted facts or basic norms of personal and group behavior. ..."
"... Trump's basic objections were that Washington is subsidizing the defense of a wealthy Europe and thereby maintaining unnecessarily a relationship that perpetuates a state of no-war no-peace between Russia and the West. ..."
"... And the neoconservatives and globalists are striking back hard to make sure that détente stays in a bottle hidden somewhere on a shelf in the White House cloak room. Always adept at the creation of new front groups, the neocons have now launched something called the Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI), with the goal of "uni[ting] the center-left and the center-right." Its founders include the redoubtable Max Boot, The Washington Post's Anne Appelbaum, the inevitable Bill Kristol, and Richard Hurwitz of Council on Foreign Relations. RDI's website predictably calls for "fresh thinking" and envisions "the best minds from different countries com[ing] together for both broad and discrete projects in the service of liberty and democracy in the West and beyond." It argues that "Liberal democracy is in crisis around the world, besieged by authoritarianism, nationalism, and other illiberal forces. Far-right parties are gaining traction in Europe, Vladimir Putin tightens his grip on Russia and undermines democracy abroad, and America struggles with poisonous threats from the right and left." ..."
"... There are also the internal contradictions in what Trump appears to be doing, suggesting that a brighter future might not be on the horizon even if giving the Europeans a possibly deserved bloody nose over their refusal to spend money defending themselves provides some satisfaction. In the last week alone in Syria the White House has quietly renewed funding for the so-called White Helmets, a terrorist front group. It has also warned that it will take action against the Syrian government for any violation of a "de-escalation zone" in the country's southwest that has been under the control of Washington. That means that the U.S., which is in Syria illegally, is warning that country's legitimate government that it should not attempt to re-establish control over a region that was until recently ruled by terrorists. ..."
"... In Syria there have been two pointless cruise missile attacks and a trap set up to kill Russian mercenaries. Washington's stated intention is to destabilize and replace President Bashar al-Assad while continuing the occupation of the Syrian oil fields. And in Afghanistan there are now more troops on the ground than there were on inauguration day together with no plan to bring them home. It is reported that the Pentagon has a twenty-year plan to finish the job but no one actually believes it will work. ..."
"... The United States is constructing new drone bases in Africa and Asia. It also has a new military base in Israel which will serve as a tripwire for automatic American involvement if Israel goes to war and has given the green light to the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians. ..."
"... And then there are the petty insults that do not behoove a great power. A friend recently attended the Russian National Day celebration at the embassy in Washington. He reported that the U.S. government completely boycotted the event, together with its allies in Western Europe and the anglosphere, resulting in sparse attendance. It is the kind of slight that causes attitudes to shift when the time comes for serious negotiating. It is unnecessary and it is precisely the sort of thing that Russian President Vladimir Putin is referring to when he asks that his country be treated with "respect." The White House could have sent a delegation to attend the national day. Trump could have arranged it with a phone call, but he didn't. ..."
"... Winston Churchill once reportedly said that to "Jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war, war, war." As one of the twentieth century's leading warmongers, he may not have actually meant it, but in principle he was right. So let us hope for the best coming out of Singapore and also for the G-7 or what replaces it in the future. But don't be confused or diverted by presidential grandstanding. Watch what else is going on outside the limelight and, at least for the present, it is not pretty. ..."
"... Phil nails it as usual. Like him, I'm not very optimistic. Whether overall one approves or disapproves of Trump (and count me as a disapprover), it is obvious that most of the government is operating outside his control and this includes many of his own appointees. The continuities of US policy are far deeper than the apparent discontinuities. ..."
Jun 19, 2018 | www.unz.com

I had coffee with a foreign friend a week ago. The subject of Donald Trump inevitably came up and my friend said that he was torn between describing Trump as a genius or as an idiot, but was inclined to lean towards genius. He explained that Trump was willy-nilly establishing a new world order that will succeed the institutionally exhausted post-World War 2 financial and political arrangements that more-or-less established U.S. hegemony over the "free world." The Bretton Woods agreement and the founding of the United Nations institutionalized the spread of liberal democracy and free trade, creating a new, post war international order under the firm control of the United States with the American dollar as the benchmark currency. Trump is now rejecting what has become an increasingly dominant global world order in favor of returning to a nineteenth century style nationalism that has become popular as countries struggle to retain their cultural and political identifies. Trump's vision would seem to include protection of core industries, existing demographics and cultural institutions combined with an end of "democratization," which will result in an acceptance of foreign autocratic or non-conforming regimes as long as they do not pose military or economic threats.

Sounds good, I countered but there is a space between genius and idiocy and that would be called insanity, best illustrated by impulsive, irrational behavior coupled with acute hypersensitivity over perceived personal insults and a demonstrated inability to comprehend either generally accepted facts or basic norms of personal and group behavior.

Inevitably, I have other friends who follow foreign policy closely that have various interpretations of the Trump phenomenon. One sees the respectful meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea as a bit of brilliant statesmanship, potentially breaking a sixty-five year logjam and possibly opening the door to further discussions that might well avert a nuclear war. And the week also brought a Trump welcome suggestion that Russia should be asked to rejoin the G-7 group of major industrialized democracies, which also has to be seen as a positive step. There has also been talk of a Russia-U.S. summit similar to that with North Korea to iron out differences, an initiative that was first suggested by Trump and then agreed to by Russian President Vladimir Putin. There will inevitably be powerful resistance to such an arrangement coming primarily from the U.S. media and from Congress, but Donald Trump seems to fancy the prospect and it just might take place.

One good friend even puts a positive spin on Trump's insulting behavior towards America's traditional allies at the recent G-7 meeting in Canada. She observes that Trump's basic objections were that Washington is subsidizing the defense of a wealthy Europe and thereby maintaining unnecessarily a relationship that perpetuates a state of no-war no-peace between Russia and the West. And the military costs exacerbate some genuine serious trade imbalances that damage the U.S. economy. If Trumpism prevails, G-7 will become a forum for discussions of trade and economic relations and will become less a club of nations aligned military against Russia and, eventually, China. As she put it, changing its constituency would be a triumph of "mercantilism" over "imperialism." The now pointless NATO alliance might well find itself without much support if the members actually have to fully fund it proportionate to their GDPs and could easily fade away, which would be a blessing for everyone.

My objection to nearly all the arguments being made in favor or opposed to what occurred in Singapore last week is that the summit is being seen out of context, as is the outreach to Russia at G-7. Those who are in some cases violently opposed to the outcome of the talks with North Korea are, to be sure, sufferers from Trump Derangement Syndrome, where they hate anything he does and spin their responses to cast him in the most negative terms possible. Some others who choose to see daylight in spite of the essential emptiness of the "agreement" are perhaps being overly optimistic while likewise ignoring what else is going on.

And the neoconservatives and globalists are striking back hard to make sure that détente stays in a bottle hidden somewhere on a shelf in the White House cloak room. Always adept at the creation of new front groups, the neocons have now launched something called the Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI), with the goal of "uni[ting] the center-left and the center-right." Its founders include the redoubtable Max Boot, The Washington Post's Anne Appelbaum, the inevitable Bill Kristol, and Richard Hurwitz of Council on Foreign Relations. RDI's website predictably calls for "fresh thinking" and envisions "the best minds from different countries com[ing] together for both broad and discrete projects in the service of liberty and democracy in the West and beyond." It argues that "Liberal democracy is in crisis around the world, besieged by authoritarianism, nationalism, and other illiberal forces. Far-right parties are gaining traction in Europe, Vladimir Putin tightens his grip on Russia and undermines democracy abroad, and America struggles with poisonous threats from the right and left."

There are also the internal contradictions in what Trump appears to be doing, suggesting that a brighter future might not be on the horizon even if giving the Europeans a possibly deserved bloody nose over their refusal to spend money defending themselves provides some satisfaction. In the last week alone in Syria the White House has quietly renewed funding for the so-called White Helmets, a terrorist front group. It has also warned that it will take action against the Syrian government for any violation of a "de-escalation zone" in the country's southwest that has been under the control of Washington. That means that the U.S., which is in Syria illegally, is warning that country's legitimate government that it should not attempt to re-establish control over a region that was until recently ruled by terrorists.

And then there is also Donald Trump's recent renunciation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), eliminating a successful program that was preventing nuclear proliferation on the part of Iran and replacing it with nothing whatsoever apart from war as a possible way of dealing with the potential problem. Indeed, Trump has been prepared to use military force on impulse, even when there is no clear casus belli. In Syria there have been two pointless cruise missile attacks and a trap set up to kill Russian mercenaries. Washington's stated intention is to destabilize and replace President Bashar al-Assad while continuing the occupation of the Syrian oil fields. And in Afghanistan there are now more troops on the ground than there were on inauguration day together with no plan to bring them home. It is reported that the Pentagon has a twenty-year plan to finish the job but no one actually believes it will work.

The United States is constructing new drone bases in Africa and Asia. It also has a new military base in Israel which will serve as a tripwire for automatic American involvement if Israel goes to war and has given the green light to the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians. In Latin America, Washington has backed off from détente with Cuba and has been periodically threatening some kind of intervention in Venezuela. In Europe, it is engaged in aggressive war games on the Russian borders, most recently in Norway and Poland. The Administration has ordered increased involvement in Somalia and has special ops units operating – and dying – worldwide. Overall, it is hardly a return to the Garden of Eden.

And then there are the petty insults that do not behoove a great power. A friend recently attended the Russian National Day celebration at the embassy in Washington. He reported that the U.S. government completely boycotted the event, together with its allies in Western Europe and the anglosphere, resulting in sparse attendance. It is the kind of slight that causes attitudes to shift when the time comes for serious negotiating. It is unnecessary and it is precisely the sort of thing that Russian President Vladimir Putin is referring to when he asks that his country be treated with "respect." The White House could have sent a delegation to attend the national day. Trump could have arranged it with a phone call, but he didn't.

Winston Churchill once reportedly said that to "Jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war, war, war." As one of the twentieth century's leading warmongers, he may not have actually meant it, but in principle he was right. So let us hope for the best coming out of Singapore and also for the G-7 or what replaces it in the future. But don't be confused or diverted by presidential grandstanding. Watch what else is going on outside the limelight and, at least for the present, it is not pretty.


Mishra , June 19, 2018 at 4:11 am GMT

The Establishment (which includes both major political parties) is furious that Trump may be defusing the (very real) nuclear threat from Kim for the price of a few plane tickets and dinners, while the Establishment was gung-ho for throwing away a few trillion dollars, hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, and our nation's once-good reputation in the process of neutralizing Saddam Hussein, who didn't even have any nukes to begin with. Yep, they're sore all right.
Kirt , June 19, 2018 at 4:20 am GMT
Phil nails it as usual. Like him, I'm not very optimistic. Whether overall one approves or disapproves of Trump (and count me as a disapprover), it is obvious that most of the government is operating outside his control and this includes many of his own appointees. The continuities of US policy are far deeper than the apparent discontinuities.

[Jun 18, 2018] The most important conclusion of the report: there is no longer a way to claim America's internal intelligence agency, the FBI, did not play a role in the 2016 election

Notable quotes:
"... "The good news is the Deep State seems less competent than we originally feared" -Well, obviously; or Hillary would be President NOW ..."
"... The Deep State may not have been very competent ( Gee,whudda surprise!)) but– it's still in place. And that fact alone should make all of us uneasy. ..."
"... I'm satisfied that we have the final word on Clinton's guilt and the special treatment she and her staff were given by criminal investigators who believed she was going to win the election. ..."
"... I think a good book to explain what we are seeing is The Fiefdom Syndrome by Robert Herbold. That highlights how various managers set up their own sub organizations in a groups. It focuses on the corporate model yet it can equally apply to any other human organization. ..."
"... Comey took Lynch completely off the hook. She had not recused herself from the case. Prosecution or not was her decision, not Comey's. And even if she had recused herself, the decision would have gone to Yates. Lynch had no good options. If she had said there were no grounds for prosecution, she would have been crucified for partisanship. If she had decided that Clinton should be prosecuted, all hell would have broken loose. Well, there is no way she would have ever made the decision to prosecute, but point is, Comey took her completely off the hook. No wonder Lynch made no big deal about his "insubordination". ..."
"... there were NO pro-Trump factions inside the Bureau. ..."
"... What anti-Clinton faction? Every one of the five agents identified as sending politically biased communications was anti-Trump. As best I can determine every decision by biased decision makers that Horowitz is baffled by, or reports himself "unpersuaded" by the explanations advanced, was anti-Trump. Even when Strzok writes a text message that Horowitz admits is a smoking gun (~"We'll stop Trump") Horowitz says it's no biggie because other decision-makers were involved, "unbiased" ones like, explicitly, Bill Priestap, he of the procedures-violating spy launch against Trump BEFORE any investigation was opened! ..."
"... The real take away is that the Deep State is a reality, far more entrenched than anyone of us knows. Whether it is particularly competent or not ( compared to what? Government in general? ) is irrelevant. No one of any stature in any part of the government bureaucracy will be held accountable ever. They never are. As soon as the media circus moves on, it will be back to business as usual in DC. ..."
"... Speaking of idiocracy, some personal emails between FBI agents were made public this week with the release of the IG report. They give a glimpse into the infantilisation of our ruling "class". It is clear that fatherlessness and the replacement of education with indoctrination have produced a generation of child-men and child-women who view the State as parent, provider, deity (even as lover – supplier of ideologically acceptable bed-mates). ..."
"... jp: "Hard to see how the FBI's mistakes didn't benefit one candidate over the other." That's the standard line from the Clinton campaign. They believe everything begins and ends with Comey causing her to lose. Of course, they never mention why the FBI was investigating her, personally, and key members of her State Dept. staff, not her campaign by the way. ..."
"... The FBI may have hurt her campaign, but only because they were doing their job, albiet badly. She hurt her campaign infinitely by breaking the law and compromising national security, which required a criminal probe into her lawbreaking. ..."
"... Dave: "Peter and Lisa were 2 cops talking about a criminal." Well, that's one more reason not to trust federal law enforcement. I can cite the criminal statutes Hillary Clinton was being personally investigated for. Can anyone cite any criminal statute that Donald Trump was being personally investigated for at the same time? Was he even being personally investigated? A counterintelligence investigation is not a criminal investigation. ..."
Jun 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

cka2nd

June 14, 2018 at 11:54 pm
"a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau"

Which is what the FBI looked like at the time and over the last two years, the anti-Clinton faction seeming to be centered in New York, and the anti-Trump faction in, what, D.C.?

Erik , says: June 15, 2018 at 3:12 am
This report merely provides more talking points for politicians. And, talk they will. IG Michael Horowitz had a specific mandate. It was to investigate "violations of criminal and civil law." It was not to investigate breaches of protocol and bureaucratic regulations.

This report makes no allegations of criminal activity. As such, it can only be read as exonerating those under investigation, of same. The ultimate remedy for "breaches of protocol and bureaucratic regulations" is termination of employment. And, Comey has already been fired. The rest is irrelevant and/or superfluous.

Joe the Plutocrat , says: June 15, 2018 at 7:51 am
Agreed. the report sheds light on some truly incompetent (and unprofessional, inappropriate behavior). Disagree – the 'deep state' is behind this. perhaps the most depressing aspect of this circus is the realization there was incompetence and malfeasance in the Obama administration. there was incompetence and malfeasance in the Clinton campaign.

There was incompetence and malfeasance in the DoJ, there was incompetence and malfeasance in the Trump campaign, and there is a whole lot of incompetence and malfeasance in the current administration. see where this is going? "malfeasance" recognized and leveraged by "foreign actors" (some other 'deep state' as it were) demonstrates competence in terms of their job(s).

I am reminded of the Seinfeld episode in which "Puddy" and "Elaine" meet with a priest to discuss their relationship and its impact on their eternal lives – with Puddy being Christian and Elaine not. the priest says, "oh that's easy, you're both going to hell "

midtown , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:37 am
The overt bias exhibited by FBI agents was shocking.
SDS , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:39 am
"It will be too easy, however, to miss the most important conclusion of the report: there is no longer a way to claim America's internal intelligence agency, the FBI, did not play a role in the 2016 election."

SO we are expected to believe the FBI, et. al; never played a role before? Spare me

"The good news is the Deep State seems less competent than we originally feared" -Well, obviously; or Hillary would be President NOW

connecticut farmer , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:53 am
Way funny, this! And all the time we've been looking for enemies abroad-in this case the Rooshians-the real enemy was right in our own backyard. The Deep State may not have been very competent ( Gee,whudda surprise!)) but– it's still in place. And that fact alone should make all of us uneasy.
Will Harrington , says: June 15, 2018 at 9:29 am
If you are going to have a deep state, and in a large nation, it does seem necessary, then it should be a meritocracy. Clearly the system of recruiting high level officials from certain Ivy League schools does not result in a meritocracy.
MM , says: June 15, 2018 at 10:24 am

Erik: "It was not to investigate breaches of protocol and bureaucratic regulations." Well, he did, and thank goodness. I'm satisfied that we have the final word on Clinton's guilt and the special treatment she and her staff were given by criminal investigators who believed she was going to win the election.

If that's not political bias, then we need another word for it. Political consideration in the outcome of a criminal probe.

Think about that if it had been a GOP candidate, what would the progressives be saying about the same behavior?

Centralist , says: June 15, 2018 at 11:06 am
I think a good book to explain what we are seeing is The Fiefdom Syndrome by Robert Herbold. That highlights how various managers set up their own sub organizations in a groups. It focuses on the corporate model yet it can equally apply to any other human organization.
Scott , says: June 15, 2018 at 1:05 pm
What I find amusing is the emphasis on texts between Strzok and Page. They sure were sloppy in using govt cell phones for their texting. However, at the end of the day, their texts were the equivalent of pillow talk. What's the remedy? Everybody wear a wire to bed to trap people in the act of gossiping? Does anybody think that these casual conversations go on all the time. There is no group of people more cynical that law enforcement people.

At the end of the day, people did their jobs and prevented their opinions from the proper execution of their jobs.

Johann , says: June 15, 2018 at 1:43 pm
Comey took Lynch completely off the hook. She had not recused herself from the case. Prosecution or not was her decision, not Comey's. And even if she had recused herself, the decision would have gone to Yates. Lynch had no good options. If she had said there were no grounds for prosecution, she would have been crucified for partisanship. If she had decided that Clinton should be prosecuted, all hell would have broken loose. Well, there is no way she would have ever made the decision to prosecute, but point is, Comey took her completely off the hook. No wonder Lynch made no big deal about his "insubordination".
connecticut farmer , says: June 15, 2018 at 1:45 pm
H. Clinton squirreled away over 30 thousand emails into a private server. I am reliably informed that if any other federal employee pulled a move like that they would have been fired, with loss of pension and possible jail time in as much as this is grand jury fodder. Not ol' Hillary though.

People do tend to notice these things.

Fred , says: June 15, 2018 at 2:18 pm
"There is only to argue which side they favored and whether they meddled via clumsiness, as a coordinated action, or as a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau. "

More fake news – there were NO pro-Trump factions inside the Bureau.

eheter , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:54 pm
Michael Kenny
June 15, 2018 at 11:29 am
The important point is that Trump has no need to worry about any of this if he really is as innocent as he claims. In fact, infiltrated informers, wiretaps etc. are a godsend to Trump if he's innocent because they prove that innocence. Thus, Trump's making such a fuss about these things is a tacit admission of guilt.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –

Yes, of course. Because if someone spied on you looking for a crime of which you were innocent, you'd be totally ok with it and would keep quiet. Only someone who's guilty of a crime would speak up being spied upon.

smh

Gandydancer , says: June 16, 2018 at 12:34 am
"There is only to argue whether they meddled via clumsiness, as a coordinated action, or as a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau."

What anti-Clinton faction? Every one of the five agents identified as sending politically biased communications was anti-Trump. As best I can determine every decision by biased decision makers that Horowitz is baffled by, or reports himself "unpersuaded" by the explanations advanced, was anti-Trump. Even when Strzok writes a text message that Horowitz admits is a smoking gun (~"We'll stop Trump") Horowitz says it's no biggie because other decision-makers were involved, "unbiased" ones like, explicitly, Bill Priestap, he of the procedures-violating spy launch against Trump BEFORE any investigation was opened!

To believe Horowitz' conclusions about lack of bias in decision making you have to be as willfully reluctant to connect the dots as he is. And I'm not, nor should you be.

Gerald Arcuri , says: June 16, 2018 at 2:41 pm
The real take away is that the Deep State is a reality, far more entrenched than anyone of us knows. Whether it is particularly competent or not ( compared to what? Government in general? ) is irrelevant. No one of any stature in any part of the government bureaucracy will be held accountable ever. They never are. As soon as the media circus moves on, it will be back to business as usual in DC.
Patricus , says: June 16, 2018 at 10:03 pm
Those Russians are so clever. They trained agents for a lifetime to master accents of rural Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin then duped the bible thumping gun lovers into rejecting her highness Hillary. The immense Russian powers are extraordinary when one considers the Russian economy is smaller than Texas.

But seriously, we had eight years of a Democratic president and people had enough and chose a Republican even though he was outspent. That is the consistent pattern. After Trump another Democrat will move into the White House.

mike , says: June 17, 2018 at 8:45 am
Speaking of idiocracy, some personal emails between FBI agents were made public this week with the release of the IG report. They give a glimpse into the infantilisation of our ruling "class". It is clear that fatherlessness and the replacement of education with indoctrination have produced a generation of child-men and child-women who view the State as parent, provider, deity (even as lover – supplier of ideologically acceptable bed-mates).

A cosmic ignorance radiates from these email exchanges. These agents appear to have been dropped here from another planet. They not only seem to have been disconnected from or to have forgotten the Civilisation that gave birth to the society in which they live, but they seem never to have had any knowledge or awareness of it in the first place.

(Reading between the lines, deducing their "principles" from their mentality, one could confidently conclude that these adolescents truly believe that State is God and Marx is His prophet.)

Winston , says: June 17, 2018 at 11:04 am
"seems less competent than we originally feared"

They're going to get away with it with no adequately serious repercussions meaning they're competent enough, aren't they? That also means they won't be properly deterred and will simply do it better next time.

MM , says: June 17, 2018 at 12:23 pm
jp: "Hard to see how the FBI's mistakes didn't benefit one candidate over the other." That's the standard line from the Clinton campaign. They believe everything begins and ends with Comey causing her to lose. Of course, they never mention why the FBI was investigating her, personally, and key members of her State Dept. staff, not her campaign by the way.

The FBI may have hurt her campaign, but only because they were doing their job, albiet badly. She hurt her campaign infinitely by breaking the law and compromising national security, which required a criminal probe into her lawbreaking.

If you're going to fault the FBI, you can't then not fault Secretary Clinton. The two go hand-in-hand, and she comes first in the chain of event.

Case closed. Though she didn't get her just desserts in court, at least she received political justice. 🙂

MM , says: June 17, 2018 at 3:48 pm
Dave: "Peter and Lisa were 2 cops talking about a criminal." Well, that's one more reason not to trust federal law enforcement. I can cite the criminal statutes Hillary Clinton was being personally investigated for. Can anyone cite any criminal statute that Donald Trump was being personally investigated for at the same time? Was he even being personally investigated? A counterintelligence investigation is not a criminal investigation.

Anybody?

[Jun 13, 2018] The Nationalism Versus Globalism Battles Yet to Come

Notable quotes:
"... By the way, the US provides 22% of NATO funding, a formula which is based on population. Thus, if the European members increased their contributions to NATO, the US contribution would also rise! ..."
"... Donald Trump will remain exasperated because he is fighting the good fight but not really understanding who his adversary's are. ..."
"... Foreign countries aren't taking advantage of the USA. American industrialists are taking advantage of the USA. Why does Apple make its iPhones in China? Why does Ford build so many of its SUVs in Mexico? Not because of the decisions those countries have made. It's because of the decisions American industrial leaders have made. ..."
"... The USA has a trade surplus with Canada. Trump lied about that. ..."
Jun 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Credit: Andrew Cline/Shutterstock

At the G-7 summit in Canada, President Donald Trump described America as "the piggy bank that everybody is robbing."

After he left Quebec, his director of Trade and Industrial Policy, Peter Navarro, added a few parting words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: "There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. And that's what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did. And that comes right from Air Force One."

In Singapore, Trump tweeted more about that piggy bank: "Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades [while] the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade?"

To understand what drives Trump, and explains his exasperation and anger, these remarks are a good place to begin.

Our elites see America as an "indispensable nation," the premiere world power whose ordained duty it is to defend democracy, stand up to dictators and aggressors, and uphold a liberal world order.

They see U.S. wealth and power as splendid tools that fate has given them to shape the future of the planet.

Trump sees America as a nation being milked by allies who free-ride on our defense efforts as they engage in trade practices that enrich their own peoples at America's expense.

Where our elites live to play masters of the universe, Trump sees a world laughing behind America's back, while allies exploit our magnanimity and idealism for their own national ends.

The numbers are impossible to refute and hard to explain.

Last year, the EU had a $151 billion trade surplus with the U.S. China ran a $376 billion trade surplus with the U.S., the largest in history. The world sold us $796 billion more in goods than we sold to the world.

A nation that spends more than it takes in from taxes, and consumes more of the world's goods than it produces itself for export, year in and year out, is a nation on the way down.

We are emulating our British cousins of the 19th century.

Trump understands that this situation is not sustainable. His strength is that the people are still with him on putting America first.

Yet he faces some serious obstacles.

What is his strategy for turning a $796 billion trade deficit into a surplus? Is he prepared to impose the tariffs and import restrictions that would be required to turn America from the greatest trade-deficit nation in history to a trade-surplus nation, as we were up until the mid-1970s?

Americans are indeed carrying the lion's share of the load of the defense of the West, and of fighting the terrorists and radical Islamists of the Middle East, and of protecting South Korea and Japan.

But if our NATO and Asian allies refuse to make the increases in defense he demands, is Trump really willing to cancel our treaty commitments, walk away from our war guarantees, and let these nations face Russia and China on their own? Could he cut that umbilical cord?

Ike's secretary of state John Foster Dulles spoke of conducting an "agonizing reappraisal" of U.S. commitments to defend NATO allies if they did not contribute more money and troops.

Dulles died in 1959, and that reappraisal, threatened 60 years ago, never happened. Indeed, when the Cold War ended, our NATO allies cut defense spending again. Yet we are still subsidizing NATO in Europe and have taken on even more allies since the Soviet Empire fell.

If Europe refuses to invest the money in defense that Trump demands, or accept the tariffs America needs to reduce and erase its trade deficits, what does he do? Is he prepared to shut U.S. bases and pull U.S. troops out of the Baltic republics, Poland, and Germany, and let the Europeans face Vladimir Putin and Russia themselves?

This is not an academic question. For the crunch that was inevitable when Trump was elected seems at hand.

Trump promised to negotiate with Putin and improve relations with Russia. He promised to force our NATO allies to undertake more of their own defense. He pledged to get out and stay out of Mideast wars and begin to slash the trade deficits that we have run with the world.

That's what America voted for.

Now, after 500 days, he faces formidable opposition to these defining goals of his campaign, even within his own party.

Putin remains a pariah on Capitol Hill. Our allies are rejecting the tariffs Trump has imposed and threatening retaliation. Free-trade Republicans reject tariffs that might raise the cost of the items U.S. companies make abroad and then ships back to the United States.

The decisive battles between Trumpian nationalism and globalism remain ahead of us. Trump's critical tests have yet to come.

And our exasperated president senses this.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.


Bradley June 12, 2018 at 6:10 am

America spends 3 times as much on defense as its allies because it is addicted to military spending. The solution is not to pressure other countries to acquire the same addiction. The solution is for America cut its own military spending.

This is just another example of America trying to "export" its domestic issues. Quit blaming foreigners and deal with your issues.

Joe the Plutocrat , says: June 12, 2018 at 6:58 am
"A nation that spends more than it takes in from taxes, and consumes more of the world's goods than it produces itself for export, year in and year out, is a nation on the way down. We are emulating our British cousins of the 19th century." never imagined I'd say this, but you are absolutely correct. of course you neglect to acknowledge, Trump himself is an "elite" and a "globalist". the fact his "game" is real estate, as opposed to governance is more of a semantic distinction than ideological. debt-fueled consumerism drives real estate just as it drives globalism. this is nothing new. add to this the pathological narcissism and the ability to leverage moral bankruptcy as he has the tax codes and bankruptcy laws, and voila, just another globalist in populist clothing. as I have maintained all along, he is not so much anti-establishment as he is an establishment of one – he simply thrives in a different type of swamp and favors a smaller oligarchy/plutocracy. and of course, there is the big news out of Singapore/Korea, but again, much of the 'spin' or upside cited in a denuclearized Korean peninsula involves the opportunity for North Korea to join the globalists at the globalists' table. one can only wonder if there will be Ivanka's handbags will be made in Panmunjom, and if Kim Jong Un will stay at the Trump hotel in DC? either way, you are correct he is the candidate the American people, and the globalists "elected".
JonF , says: June 12, 2018 at 8:35 am
One problem with Trump's rant: the US enjoys a small trade surplus with Canada.

Would someone please get this president some hard facts and drill him on them for however long it takes top get them fixed in his mind before he goes off half-cocked with any more nonsense?

Michael Kenny , says: June 12, 2018 at 10:36 am
As always, Mr Buchanan sets out his personal agenda and then claims that Trump promised to implement it if elected. The more Trump backs away from globalised free trade (if that's what he's really doing), the more that suits the EU. The "core value" of the EU is a large internal market protected by a high tariff wall. Globalization was rammed down an unwilling EU's throat by the US in the Reagan years and only the British elite ever really believed in it. As for NATO, nobody now believes that the US will honor its commitments, no matter how much Europe pays, so logically, the European members are concentrating their additional expenditure on an independent European defense system, which, needless to say, the US is trying to obstruct.

By the way, the US provides 22% of NATO funding, a formula which is based on population. Thus, if the European members increased their contributions to NATO, the US contribution would also rise!

Kent , says: June 12, 2018 at 11:17 am
Donald Trump will remain exasperated because he is fighting the good fight but not really understanding who his adversary's are.

Foreign countries aren't taking advantage of the USA. American industrialists are taking advantage of the USA. Why does Apple make its iPhones in China? Why does Ford build so many of its SUVs in Mexico? Not because of the decisions those countries have made. It's because of the decisions American industrial leaders have made.

Secondly, there is absolutely no threat to NATO from Russia or Putin. Europe could slash its already meager defense budget with only beneficial consequences. The same with Japan and S. Korea. None of these countries need US military help. There are no real military threats to these countries. US military spending has never been about defending other countries. It is about enriching the shareholders of American military contractors.

So here is the real world: The United States has established a "liberal rules-based global order" that allows wealthy American and European commercial interests to benefit mightily from trade, and property and resource control in foreign countries. And this order is maintained by US military power. That is why the US is "the one indispensable nation". We are the nation that is allowed to break the order, to be the bully, in order for the rules-based order to even exist. That's why we are beating up on countries that try to live outside of this order like Iran, NK, Venezuela, Russia and everyone else who don't fall in line.

So Donald Trump is fighting against the power elite of the United States, he just doesn't understand that. He is fighting against the most powerful people in the world, people who are well represented by both political parties. He can win this fight if he lets the average American on to this reality. And then leads them properly to a better, more balanced world. But I suspect that he would be assassinated if he tried.

bacon , says: June 12, 2018 at 11:26 am
In re NATO and other oversea DOD spending, the old saying "who pays, says" has a corollary. Who wants to say has to pay. The US, since WWII, has wanted, insisted, on being in charge of everything we touch. This costs a lot, not to mention it often doesn't work the way we want. It would be easy enough to stop spending all this money. The Pentagon and the military-industrial complex would have a conniption and those whose defense bills we've been paying would complain to high heaven, but Trump seems intent on trashing all those alliances anyway and also on spending more money on defense than even the Pentagon thinks they need.
GregR , says: June 12, 2018 at 11:31 am
Trade deficits don't work the way you think they work. In todays economy the traditional measures of deficits don't actually tell us much about what is going on.

Do you know what China does with that $350b trade surplus? A huge percentage of it is rolled back immediately into US Treasury bonds because we are the only issuer of credit in sufficient amounts and of suitable stability for them to buy. All of that deficit spending Trump and the Republicans in congress passed last year is being financed by the very trade imbalance that Trump is trying to eliminate.

But trade imbalances really don't tell us much about the flow of money. Most of the imbalance is created by US companies that have built factories in China to sell goods back to the US, then repatriate money back to the US in the form of dividends or stock buy backs (which are not counted in the trade balance at all).

At best trade balances tell us very little meaningful about what is really going on, but can be wildly deceptive. At worst they are an easy tool, for demogogs who have zero understanding of what is going on, to inflame other uninformed people to justify trade wars.

One Guy , says: June 12, 2018 at 1:27 pm
Interesting the things that Buchanan ignores (on purpose?). The USA has a trade surplus with Canada. Trump lied about that. There's nothing wrong with the USA spending less money to defend other countries. Trump doesn't have to insult our allies to do that.
Jim Houghton , says: June 12, 2018 at 1:49 pm
"Trump understands that this situation is not sustainable."

You give him more credit than he deserves. What he does understand is that while we're being the world's piggy bank, the American taxpayer is being the Military-Industrial Complex's piggy-bank and that's just fine with him. As it is with most members of Congress.

John S , says: June 12, 2018 at 1:56 pm
" our NATO allies cut defense spending again. Yet we are still subsidizing NATO in Europe "

Mr. Buchanan, like Trump, does not understand how NATO is funded. All NATO members have been paying their dues. In fact, many pay a greater proportion relative to GDP per capita than the U.S. does. Defense budgets are a different matter entirely.

Sam Bufalini , says: June 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm
Remind me again, who just raised the U.S. deficit by more than a $1 trillion over the next 10 years?
S , says: June 12, 2018 at 3:19 pm
This entire article seems to reduce complex issues into simple arithmetic. Economics and job creation is about much more than balance of payments both the author and the US president don't seem to realise this. Very shallow article.
Sean , says: June 12, 2018 at 5:35 pm
America has a trade surplus with Canada, but seems determined to rub it in.

Some background. As the glaciers retreated south at the end of the ice age, they scraped away Canada's topsoil and deposited it in America. Rural Canada has little arable areas; it's beef and dairy by necessity. Costs are high and there are ten Americans to every Canadian hence the subsidy. America subsidizes it's agriculture $55 billion annually.

Mia , says: June 12, 2018 at 8:24 pm
Great, if we're upset about having to protect our allies in the Pacific, let's change the Japanese constitution to allow them to have a real military again to defend themselves and give the South Koreans nukes to balance out the power situation between them and the Norks/ Chinese. (Why is it so little is ever said about China being a nuclear power?) This whole fantasy of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is so naive it's laughable. If nukes exist, there will never be any permanent guarantee of anything, and other countries will just keep getting the bomb without our permission, like Pakistan and China. The genie is out of the bottle, so time to be brutally realistic about what we face and what can be done. We can whine all we want to about how it's not our responsibility, but then we expect other countries to be hobbled and still somehow face enemy powers.
LouisM , says: June 12, 2018 at 9:24 pm
Lets take a look at the growing list of nations shifting to the right (nationalism and populism) -The Czech, Slovak and Slovenia Republics Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, the US.

Nations shifting this year to the right (nationalism and populism) -Austria, Bavaria and Italy

Nations leaning to the right and leaning toward joining the VISEGRAD -Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Greece

AS YOU CAN SEE THE PILLARS OF MARXIST / SOCIALIST / COMMUNIST OPEN BORDERS EUROPE/EU ARE BEING TAKEN DOWN. THE FIGHT WILL BE WITH FRANCE, GERMANY, BELGIUM, NETHERLANDS, BRITAIN, SWEDEN AND THE UNELECTED EU SUPERSTATE. RIGHT NOW THE FIGHT IS WITH THE POOR SOUTHERN AND EASTERN EUROPEAN INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS BUT EVENTUALLY IT WILL REACH A TIPPING POINT WHERE IT BECOMES AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT BUT ITS ONLY AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT FOR THE LEFT AS THE EU REACHES THE TIPPING POINT AND THE POWER SHIFTS TO THE RIGHT.

[Jun 11, 2018] I think it wise to examine what Trump's outbursts at and beyond the G6+1 are based upon--his understanding of Economic Nationalism

Jun 11, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 | Jun 11, 2018 12:06:47 PM | 111

As we await info on Kim-Trump, I think it wise to examine what Trump's outbursts at and beyond the G6+1 are based upon--his understanding of Economic Nationalism. Fortunately, we have an excellent, recent, Valdai Club paper addressing the topic that's not too technical or lengthy. The author references two important papers by Lavrov and Putin that ought to be read afterwards. Lavrov's is the elder and ought to be first. Putin's Belt & Road International Forum Address, 2017 provides an excellent example of the methods outlined in the first paper.

I could certainly add more, but IMO these provide an excellent basis for comprehending Trump's motivations as he's clearly reacting to the Russian and Chinese initiatives. Furthermore, one can discover why Russia now holds the EU at arms length while Putin's "I told you so" reminder had to sting just a bit.

Then to recap it all, I highly suggest reading Pepe Escobar's excellent article I linked to yesterday higher up in the thread.

[Jun 10, 2018] Bernard Lewis The Bush Administration's Court Intellectual by Gilbert T. Sewall

Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... American Scholar ..."
Jun 08, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

He was brilliant, but his vanity turned him into a reckless alarmist and a pro-Israeli partisan.

I encountered the late Bernard Lewis (1916-2018) during the 1990s culture wars, when historians and educators met full-frontal multiculturalism, a thematic force beginning to reshape U.S. and world history curricula in schools and colleges.

The two of us shared early, firsthand experience with Islamist disinformation campaigns on and off campus. Using sympathetic academics, curriculum officers, and educational publishers as tools, Muslim activists were seeking to rewrite Islamic history in textbooks and state and national standards.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, created in 1994, was complaining of anti-Muslim "bigotry," "racial profiling," "institutional racism," and "fear-mongering," while trying to popularize the word "Islamophobia," and stoking the spirit of ethnic injustice and prejudice in Washington politics.

Lewis and I were of different generations, he a charming academic magnifico long associated with Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study. He had just retired from teaching and was widely regarded as the nation's most influential scholar of Islam. "Islam has Allah," he said sardonically at the time. "We've got multiculturalism."

Washington's Pax Americana Cartel Christopher Columbus: At the Center of the Culture War

Long before I met him, Lewis had alerted those who were listening to rising friction between the Islamic world and the West. This was, in his mind, the outcome of Islam's centuries-long decline and failure to embrace modernity. In thinking this way, Lewis had earned the fury of the professor and Palestinian activist Edward Said at Columbia University, who wrote Orientalism in 1978.

Said's influential book cast previous Western studies of the Near and Middle East as Eurocentric, romantic, prejudiced, and racist. For Said, orientalism was an intellectual means to justify Western conquest and empire. Bernard Lewis's outlook epitomized this approach and interpretation. Said's line of thought profoundly influenced his undergraduate student Barack Obama, and would have an immense impact on Obama's Mideast strategies and geopolitics as president.

For some years, Lewis had warned of the ancient feuds between the West and Islam: in 1990 he'd forecast a coming "clash of civilizations" in Atlantic magazine, a phrase subsequently popularized by Harvard professor Samuel E. Huntington.

Throughout his long career, Lewis warned that Western guilt over its conquests and past was not collateral. "In the Muslim world there are no such inhibitions," Lewis once observed. "They are very conscious of their identity. They know who they are and what they are and what they want, a quality which we seem to have lost to a very large extent. This is a source of strength in the one, of weakness in the other."

Other examples of Lewis's controversial, persuasive observations include:

During the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Lewis suddenly gained immense political influence, love-bombed by White House neocons Richard Cheney, Richard Perle, and other policymakers to a degree that preyed on the old man's vanity and love of the spotlight.

Anti-war feeling in official Washington then was unpopular. Among Republicans and Democrats alike, to assert that Israel and oil were parts of the equation appeared uncouth. Insisted the neocons and White House: the aim of the war was to bring democratic government and regional order to the Mideast. Rescued from despotism, Iraqis would cheer invasion, Lewis and his allies claimed, as Afghanis welcomed relief from Taliban fundamentalists.

In 2004 the Wall Street Journal devised what it called a Lewis Doctrine, which it defined as "seeding democracy in failed Mideast states to defang terrorism." The Journal clarified that the Lewis Doctrine "in effect, had become U.S. policy" in 2001. The article also revealed that Lewis had long been politically involved with Israel and a confidant of successive Israeli prime ministers, including Ariel Sharon.

"Though never debated in Congress or sanctified by presidential decree, Mr. Lewis's diagnosis of the Muslim world's malaise, and his call for a U.S. military invasion to seed democracy in the Mideast, have helped define the boldest shift in U.S. foreign policy in 50 years. The occupation of Iraq is putting the doctrine to the test," the Journal proclaimed.

And so it has gone. After 15 years of many hard-to-follow shifts in policy and force, with vast human and materiel costs, some analysts look upon U.S. policy in Iraq and the Mideast as a geopolitical disaster, still in shambles and not soon to improve.

In other eyes Lewis stands guilty of devising a sophistic rationale to advance Israel's security at the expense of U.S. national interests. In 2006, Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer accused Lewis of consciously providing intellectual varnish to an Israel-centered policy group inside the George W. Bush administration that was taking charge of Mideast policies. The same year, Lewis's reckless alarmism on Iranian nukes on behalf of Israeli interests drew wide ridicule and contempt.

A committed Zionist, Lewis conceived of Israel as an essential part of Western civilization and an island of freedom in the Mideast. Though, acutely aware of Islam's nature and history, he must have had doubts about the capacity to impose democracy through force. Later, he stated unconvincingly that he had opposed the invasion of Iraq, but the facts of the matter point in another direction.

Lewis thus leaves a mixed legacy. It is a shame that he shelved his learned critiques and compromised his scholarly stature late in life to pursue situational geopolitics. With his role as a government advisor before the Iraq war, academic Arabists widely took to calling Lewis "the Great Satan," whereas Edward Said's favored position in academic circles is almost uncontested.

Yet few dispute that Lewis was profoundly knowledgeable of his subject. His view that Islamic fundamentalism fails all liberal tests of toleration, cross-cultural cooperation, gender equality, gay rights, and freedom of conscience still holds. Most Islamic authorities consider separation of church and state either absurd or evil. They seek to punish free inquiry, blasphemy, and apostasy. Moreover, it is their obligation to do so under holy law. Wearing multicultural blinders, contemporary European and American progressives pretend none of this is so. As has been demonstrated since 2015, Europe provides opportunities for territorial expansion, as do open-borders politics in the U.S. and Canada.

In 1990, long before his Washington adventures, Lewis wrote in the American Scholar , "We live in a time when great efforts are being made to falsify the record of the past and to make history a tool of propaganda; when governments, religious movements, political parties, and sectional groups of every kind are busy rewriting history as they would wish it to have been."

On and off campus, Islamists today use Western progressive politics and ecumenical dreams to further their holy struggle.

Lewis would point out that this force is completely understandable; in fact, it is a sacred duty. What would disturb him more is that in the name of diversity, Western intellectuals and journalists, government and corporate officials, and even military generals have eagerly cooperated.

Gilbert T. Sewall is co-author of After Hiroshima: The United States Since 1945 and editor of The Eighties: A Reader .


Ray Steinberg June 8, 2018 at 12:56 am

Why the long spiel when this article could have conveyed its thesis in the single line:

"Among Republicans and Democrats alike, to assert that Israel and oil were parts of the equation appeared uncouth "

Fayez Abedaziz , says: June 8, 2018 at 2:10 am
This article is exactly what this so-called intellectual Lewis is:
opinion.
All that's said by this Lewis guy is his opinion and his goal was hatred of Islam, therefore, he wanted it to then have people follow along with hatred for arabs and Palestinians.
This was, of course, because then, people would keep supporting Israel!
How 'bout that?
Who are we kidding?
When talking about the history of this nation or that religion, Lewis offers mostly his opinion and takes whatever event out of context to try to prove all this anti-Islam
rubbish. There are nations that have a majority of people of the Moslem religion, that have different systems of government and so, we have free voting, and had for decades, in Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon and so on.
Pakistan and Turkey had female Prime Ministers decade ago how 'bout that! And so did Indonesia, the nation most populated by Moslems, in the word, and so did Senegal, in Africa.
These nations are thousands of miles apart, with different languages and cultures.
What is not pointed out, but I will, since I know, is that whenever there was turmoil in an election in a mostly Moslem populated nation, why it was the meddling by the U.S. covertly and with bribes and trouble making.
Like when the CIA did that in Iran in 1953 after a fellow, Mosaddegh was freely elected and he was stopped and the dictator Shah was put in.
The U.S. constantly either installed or supported anti-democratic leaders in the Middle East and Asia.
By the way, that's how you put the subject of Edward Said- that he was a professor and a Palestinian activist? That's it?
How come you didn't tell us readers that he is a Christian?
Lewis knows no more about the makings, origins or history of religions that do many dozens of thousands of professors in the U.S. alone.
But, he has been is given a lot of media, and still is, because he is liked by the neo-cons. Also, I know more than Lewis did.
dig what I'm saying
undertakings , says: June 8, 2018 at 6:12 am
"In 2004 the Wall Street Journal devised what it called a Lewis Doctrine, which it defined as "seeding democracy in failed Mideast states to defang terrorism." The Journal clarified that the Lewis Doctrine "in effect, had become U.S. policy" in 2001. The article also revealed that Lewis had long been politically involved with Israel and a confidant of successive Israeli prime ministers, including Ariel Sharon."

In laymen's terms, Lewis was an Israeli operative working the academic beat. His American citizenship meant about as much to him as his earlier British citizenship had, a matter of convenience, nothing more. Stripped of the spurious Ivy League gloss, his "scholarship" was tendentious; it served to advance a political agenda and was consistently tainted by his entanglements with politicians and political institutions. Circa 2018 it reads as badly dated, often wrong, and generally wrong-headed.

I see he died a few weeks ago. Good riddance. "Intellectual father of the Iraq War" isn't the epitaph of a decent human being.

Saint Kyrillos , says: June 8, 2018 at 8:00 am
The consensus I'm aware of is that Obama's foreign policy was just a continuation of the foreign policy pursued by Bush during his second term. How does Obama continuing the foreign policy positions of Bush, who was influenced by Lewis, indicate that Obama's views on the middle east were influenced by Said? It should similarly be noted that while academics are practically universal in siding with Said over Lewis, they did not universally support him against other orientalists. While I'm likely butchering his claims, I seem to recall that Robert Irwin criticized Said's Orientalism for focusing too much on Bernard Lewis, ignoring the work of German orientalists who would complicate Said's claims about the West's portrayal of the middle east.
George Hoffman , says: June 8, 2018 at 9:23 am
I admire his spirited defense of the Western canon in literature and culture based upon Judeo-Christian values. But he lost me when he joined forces with the campaign to blacklist Professors John Meanshimer and Steven Walt with their book The Israel Lobby. The book originally was an article that was expanded into their book. But because of the blacklist against them, they coildn't ge their critique published in America and had to go to The London Review of Books. And of course the article was smeared as anti-Semitic because it was critical of the Israeli lobby (namely AIPAC) and its influence over our foreign policy.
mrscracker , says: June 8, 2018 at 9:53 am
"He was brilliant, but his vanity turned him into a reckless alarmist and a pro-Israeli partisan."
*****************
I'm missing how vanity & supporting Israel are connected?
polistra , says: June 8, 2018 at 10:51 am
Islamic "fundamentalism" was rare and insignificant until we funded it, armed it, and trained it. Our purpose was not to defang Islam but to superfang it, so we could have a new enemy to justify ever-increasing budgets and power for Deepstate.

Now that we've switched back to Russia as the official enemy, our focus on Islam is fading.

Frank Healy , says: June 8, 2018 at 11:46 am
Saying that Lewis fell prey to vanity is easier than saying he, like the rest of the neocons, was a hypocritical ethnic chauvinist.

In other words:

"Ethnic chauvinism is a sin and a great evil, or evidence of dangerous mental illness, except for the Zionists who you need to support uncritically and unconditionally."

Myron Hudson , says: June 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm
One thing to remember about zionists is that many of the christian ones are expecting to trigger the second coming once certain things come to pass and this includes geography in that region. I grew up with that. Anyway, to them it's not reckless, it's speeding the prophecy along to its rightful end.
ed , says: June 8, 2018 at 2:20 pm
Lewis' so-called analysis and historiography was politicized and deeply flawed, so much so that he showed himself to be a bigot against Arabs and Armenians – he was a scholar of Turkish history, who had been, wined, dined, bought and sold, and corrupted by the Turkish and Israeli governments to serves as their genocide denialist- and of Islam, and anything else Middle Eastern, that did not serve Israel's interests. He offered himself to the neocons as a willing academic and did much damage by 'legitimizing' their bogus 'war on terror'.
He should not be allowed to rest in peace or escape accountability in the judgment of history.
EliteCommInc. , says: June 8, 2018 at 5:54 pm
i guess is the question . . . to decipher the depth and scope that islam poses to the US.

There are just not that many non-Muslims shooting people over cartoons, and insults in the name of god. I have some very fine relational dynamics with muslims, but on occasion, i can't help but wonder which one is going take me out because i don't use the term honorable when I say mohammed's name.

The Nt doesn't even advocate throwing stones at people who steal my coat, I am supposed to offer up the other.

Janwaar Bibi , says: June 8, 2018 at 7:10 pm
Islamic "fundamentalism" was rare and insignificant until we funded it, armed it, and trained it.

Islamic fundamentalism blighted and extinguished the lives of millions of Armenians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others in the first half of the 20th century, long before dumb Westerners funded it or armed it. The fact that people in the West are clueless about this history does not mean it did not happen.

BillWAF , says: June 9, 2018 at 2:21 am
Obama had an English class with Said as an undergrad at Columbia. So did Leon Wieseltier years earlier, as did many other Columbia students. Interestingly enough, Wiesaltier remained an aggressive zionist. The claim that Said had any effect upon Obama's foreign policy ideas; policies; or actions is profoundly silly.

To support your claim that "Said's line of thought profoundly influenced his undergraduate student Barack Obama, and would have an immense impact on Obama's Mideast strategies and geopolitics as president," you need a great deal more evidence. Currently, you have none.

Donald , says: June 9, 2018 at 3:01 pm
Cheer up Janwaar -- most of us are clueless about fascist Hindus and Buddhists as well.
Philly guy , says: June 9, 2018 at 3:04 pm
Islamic fundamentalism was created and funded by Israel and the US to compete with the then Marxist PLO and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.You thought Marxist terrorism was problematic,look at Islamic terrorism.

[Jun 05, 2018] Is Democracy to Blame for Our Present Crisis by Alexander William Salter

Notable quotes:
"... Just because a country is democratic doesn't mean it is self-governing, as America is quickly discovering. ..."
"... John Adams warned that democracy "soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide." ..."
"... James Madison was equally concerned with the pernicious consequences of large-scale democracy, arguing that democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." ..."
"... Even George Washington had his doubts about whether democracy was consistent with wise government. Democracies are slow to correct their errors, and those who try to guide the public down a wise course frequently become the object of popular hatred ..."
"... What we've got now is the tyranny of the ..."
"... minority . It is not "the people" who govern the nation. Instead, the state is run by permanent civil servants, largely unaccountable to any popular control, and professional politicians who are usually hand-picked by party insiders (Hillary over Bernie, anyone?). This has made it such that the actual 2016 election was more akin to ratifying a foregone conclusion than a substantive choice over the direction of future policy. ..."
"... If you're a student of politics, you've probably heard of the iron law of oligarchy . The phrase was coined by Robert Michels, an early 20th-century social scientist, in his landmark study of political parties. The iron law of oligarchy is simple: minorities rule majorities, because the former are organized and the latter are not. This is true even within democratic institutions. As power was concentrated in the federal government, the complexity of the tasks confronting civil servants and legislators greatly increased. This required a durable, hierarchical set of institutions for coordinating the behavior of political insiders. Durability enabled political insiders to coordinate their plans across time, which was particularly useful in avoiding the pesky constraints posed by regular elections. Hierarchy enabled political insiders to coordinate plans across space, making a permanently larger government both more feasible and more attractive for elites. The result, in retrospect, was predictable: a massive executive branch bureaucracy that's now largely autonomous, and a permissive Congress that's more than happy to serve as an institutionalized rubber stamp. ..."
"... One of the cruel ironies of the political status quo is that democracy is unquestioningly associated with self-governance, yet in practice, the more democratic a polity grows, the less self-governing it remains. ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Just because a country is democratic doesn't mean it is self-governing, as America is quickly discovering.

Something has gone wrong with America's political institutions. While the United States is, on the whole, competently governed, there are massive problems lurking just beneath the surface. This became obvious during the 2016 presidential election. Each party's nominee was odious to a large segment of the public; the only difference seemed to be whether it was an odious insurgent or an odious careerist. Almost two years on, things show little signs of improving.

What's to blame? One promising, though unpopular, answer is: democracy itself. When individuals act collectively in large groups and are not held responsible for the consequences of their behavior, decisions are unlikely to be reasonable or prudent. This design flaw in popular government was recognized by several Founding Fathers. John Adams warned that democracy "soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide."

James Madison was equally concerned with the pernicious consequences of large-scale democracy, arguing that democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

Even George Washington had his doubts about whether democracy was consistent with wise government. Democracies are slow to correct their errors, and those who try to guide the public down a wise course frequently become the object of popular hatred : "It is one of the evils of democratical governments, that the people, not always seeing and frequently misled, must often feel before they can act right; but then evil of this nature seldom fail to work their own cure," Washington wrote. "It is to be lamented, nevertheless, that the remedies are so slow, and that those, who may wish to apply them seasonably are not attended to before they suffer in person, in interest and in reputation."

Is Democracy in a Death Spiral? Is Democracy to Blame for the Loneliness Epidemic?

Given these opinions, it is unsurprising that the U.S. Constitution contains so many other mechanisms for ensuring responsible government. Separation of powers and checks and balances are necessary to protect the people from themselves. To the extent our political institutions are deteriorating, the Founders' first instinct would be to look for constitutional changes, whether formal or informal, that have expanded the scope of democracy and entrusted to the electorate greater power than they can safely wield, and reverse them.

This theory is simple, elegant, and appealing. But it's missing a crucial detail.

American government is largely insulated from the tyranny of the majority. But at least since the New Deal, we've gone too far in the opposite direction. What we've got now is the tyranny of the minority . It is not "the people" who govern the nation. Instead, the state is run by permanent civil servants, largely unaccountable to any popular control, and professional politicians who are usually hand-picked by party insiders (Hillary over Bernie, anyone?). This has made it such that the actual 2016 election was more akin to ratifying a foregone conclusion than a substantive choice over the direction of future policy.

But now we confront a puzzle: the rise of the permanent government did coincide with increased democratization. The administrative-managerial state, and its enablers in Congress, followed from creative reinterpretations of the Constitution that allowed voters to make decisions that the Ninth and Tenth amendments -- far and away the most ignored portion of the Bill of Rights -- should have forestalled. As it turns out, not only are both of these observations correct, they are causally related . Increasing the scope of popular government results in the loss of popular control.

If you're a student of politics, you've probably heard of the iron law of oligarchy . The phrase was coined by Robert Michels, an early 20th-century social scientist, in his landmark study of political parties. The iron law of oligarchy is simple: minorities rule majorities, because the former are organized and the latter are not. This is true even within democratic institutions. As power was concentrated in the federal government, the complexity of the tasks confronting civil servants and legislators greatly increased. This required a durable, hierarchical set of institutions for coordinating the behavior of political insiders. Durability enabled political insiders to coordinate their plans across time, which was particularly useful in avoiding the pesky constraints posed by regular elections. Hierarchy enabled political insiders to coordinate plans across space, making a permanently larger government both more feasible and more attractive for elites. The result, in retrospect, was predictable: a massive executive branch bureaucracy that's now largely autonomous, and a permissive Congress that's more than happy to serve as an institutionalized rubber stamp.

The larger the electorate, and the more questions the electorate is asked to decide, the more important it is for the people who actually govern to take advantage of economies of scale in government. If the federal government were kept small and simple, there would be little need for a behemoth public sector. Developing durable and hierarchical procedures for organizing political projects would be unfeasible for citizen-statesmen. But those same procedures become essential for technocratic experts and career politicians.

One of the cruel ironies of the political status quo is that democracy is unquestioningly associated with self-governance, yet in practice, the more democratic a polity grows, the less self-governing it remains. This is why an upsurge of populism won't cure what ails the body politic. It will either provoke the permanent and unaccountable government into tightening its grip, or those who actually hold the power will fan the flames of popular discontent, channeling that energy towards their continued growth and entrenchment. We have enough knowledge to make the diagnosis, but not to prescribe the treatment. Perhaps there is some comfort in knowing what political health looks like. G.K. Chesterton said it best in his insight about the relationship between democracy and self-governance:

The democratic contention is that government is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum, discovering the North Pole (that insidious habit), looping the loop, being Astronomer Royal, and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one's own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly . In short, the democratic faith is this: that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves

The first step towards renewed self-governance must be to reject the false dichotomy between populism and oligarchy. A sober assessment shows that they are one in the same.

Alexander William Salter is an assistant professor in the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. He is also the Comparative Economics Research Fellow at TTU's Free Market Institute. See more at his website: www.awsalter.com .



Steve Miller June 4, 2018 at 11:49 pm

This was going fine until the author decided to blame civil servants for our nation's problems. How about an electoral system that denies majority rule? A Congress that routinely votes against things the vast majority want? A system that vastly overpriveleges corporations and hands them billions while inequality grows to the point where the UN warns that our country resembles a third world kleptocracy? Nope, sez this guy. It's just because there are too many bureaucrats.
tz , , June 5, 2018 at 12:37 am
He avoids the 17th amendment which was one of the barriers to the mob, and the 19th that removed the power of individual states to set the terms of suffrage.
Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Katy Stanton could simply have moved to Wyoming.
It might be useful to only have property taxpayers vote.
And the problem is the left. When voters rejected Gay Marriage (57% in California!) or benefits for illegals, unelected and unaccountable judges reversed the popular will.
S , , June 5, 2018 at 3:38 am
I find your use of the word populism interesting. Inasmuch the word is generally used when the decisions of the populace is different from that which the technocrats or oligarchs would have made for them. The author being part of the technocratic elite thinks that he and his ilk know best. This entire article is just a lot of arguments in support of this false and self serving idea.
Realist , , June 5, 2018 at 5:11 am
When a populous isn't controlled by the electorate democracy is dead.
Rotunda , , June 5, 2018 at 5:47 am
The libertarian political philosopher Jason Brennan made small waves with his book "Against Democracy", published last year.
Voltaire's Ghost , , June 5, 2018 at 6:03 am
Making the federal government "small" will not solve the problems the author describes or really alludes to. The power vacum left by a receding federal government will just be occupied by an unaccountable corporate sector. The recent dismantling of Toys R Us by a spawn of Bain Capital is the most recent manifestation of the twisted and pathological thought process that calls itself "free market capitalism." A small federal government did not end child labor, fight the Depression, win WW II or pioneer space exploration. Conservatives love the mythology of a government "beast" that must be decapitated so that "Liberty" may reign. There are far more dangerous forces at work in American society that inhibit liberty and tax our personal treasuries than the federal government.
TJ Martin , , June 5, 2018 at 9:23 am
1) The US is not and never has been a ' democracy ' It is a Democratic Republic ' which is not the same as a ' democracy ' ( one person -- one vote period ) of which there is only one in the entire world . Switzerland

2) A large part of what has brought us to this point is the worn out well past its sell by Electoral College which not only no longer serves its intended purpose .

3) But the major reason why we're here to put it bluntly is the ' Collective Stupidity of America ' we've volitionally become : addled by celebrity , addicted to entertainment and consumed by conspiracy theory rather than researching the facts

cj , , June 5, 2018 at 9:41 am
The US has a democracy? Were'nt two of the last 3 presidents placed into office via a minority of the vote?

We have instead what Sheldon Wolin called a 'managed democracy'. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guided_democracy

It's time to end the pretension that we live in a democracy. It maybe useful to claim so when the US is trying to open markets or control resources in 3rd world countries. It's at that time that we're 'spreading democracy'. Instead it's like spreading manure.

Jon , , June 5, 2018 at 9:43 am
The managerial state arose to quell the threat of class warfare. Ironically those who sought to organize the proletariat under a vision of class-based empowerment clamored for the same. The response over time was fighting fire with fire as the cliche goes becoming what the opposition has sought but only in a modified form.

If we were able to devise a way for distributive justice apart from building a bloated bureaucracy then perhaps this emergence of oligarchy could have been averted. What alternative(s) exist for an equitable distribution of wealth and income to ameliorate poverty? Openly competitive (so-called) markets? And the charity of faith-based communities? I think not.

Youknowho , , June 5, 2018 at 10:39 am
Democracy, like all systems requires maintenace. Bernard Shaw said that the flaw of pragmatism is that any system that is not completely idiotic will work PROVIDED THAT SOMEONE PUT EFFORT IN MAKING IT WORK.

We have come to think that Democracy is in automatic pilot, and does not require effort of our part See how many do not bother to vote or to inform themselves.

Democracy is a fine, shiny package with two caveats in it "Batteries not included" And "Some assembly required" FAilure to heed those leads to disaster.

TG , , June 5, 2018 at 12:21 pm
I see where you are coming from, but I must disagree. We don't have a democracy in any real way, so how can it have failed?

Despite massive propaganda of commission and omission, the majority of the American people don't want to waste trillions of dollars on endless pointless oversees wars. The public be damned: Trump was quickly beaten into submission and we are back to the status quo. The public doesn't want to give trillions of dollars to Wall Street while starving Main Street of capital. The public doesn't want an abusively high rate of immigration whose sole purpose is to flood the market for labor, driving wages down and profits up. And so on.

Oswald Spengler was right. " in actuality the freedom of public opinion involves the preparation of public opinion, which costs money; and the freedom of the press brings with it the question of possession of the press, which again is a matter of money; and with the franchise comes electioneering, in which he who pays the piper calls the tune."

JJ , , June 5, 2018 at 12:47 pm
"If the federal government were kept small and simple, there would be little need for a behemoth public sector. Developing durable and hierarchical procedures for organizing political projects would be unfeasible for citizen-statesmen. But those same procedures become essential for technocratic experts and career politicians."

True, but this implies retarding government power as is will lead to an ultimate solution. It will not. The sober truth is that a massive centralized national government has been inevitable since the onset of the second world war or even beforehand with American intervention in the colonoal Phillippines and the Great War. Becoming an empire requires extensive power grabbing and becoming and maintaining a position as a world power requires constant flexing of that power. Maintaining such a large population, military, and foreign corps requires the massive public-works projects you speak of in order to keep the population content and foreign powers in check. Failure to do so leads to chaos and tragic disaster that would lead to such a nation a collapse in all existing institutions due to overcumbersome responsibilities. These cannot be left to the provinces/states due to the massive amounts of resources required to maintain such imperial ambitions along with the cold reality of state infighting and possible seperatist leanings.

If one wishes to end the power of the federal government as is, the goal is not to merely seek reform. The goal is to dismantle the empire; destroy the military might, isolate certain diplomatic relations, reduce rates of overseas trade and reduce the economy as a whole, and then finally disband and/or drastically reduce public security institutions such as the FBI, CIA, and their affiliates. As you well know, elites and the greater public alike consider these anathema.

However, if you wish to rush to this goal, keep in mind that dismantling the American empire will not necessarily lead to the end of oppression and world peace even in the short term. A power vacuum will open that the other world powers such as the Russian Federation and the PRC will rush to fill up. As long as the world remains so interconnected and imperialist ambitions are maintained by old and new world powers, even the smallest and most directly democratic states will not be able to become self-governing for long.

Chris in Appalachia , , June 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm
Well, when, statistically speaking, half of the population has an IQ of less than 100 (probably more than half now that USA has been invaded by the Third World) then a great number of people are uninformed and easily manipulated voters. That is one of the great fallacies of democracy.
Robert Charron , , June 5, 2018 at 2:38 pm
In an era when the word "democracy" is regarded as one of our deities to worship, this article is a breath of fresh air. Notice how we accuse the Russians of trying to undermine our hallowed "democracy." We really don't know what we mean when we use the term democracy, but it is a shibboleth that has a good, comforting sound. And this idea that we could extend our "democracy" by increasing the number of voters shows that we don't understand much at all. Brilliant insights.
Stephen J. , , June 5, 2018 at 2:40 pm
I believe we are prisoners of so-called "democracy"
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
July 13, 2017
The Prisoners of "Democracy"

Screwing the masses was the forte of the political establishment. It did not really matter which political party was in power, or what name it went under, they all had one ruling instinct, tax, tax, and more taxes. These rapacious politicians had an endless appetite for taxes, and also an appetite for giving themselves huge raises, pension plans, expenses, and all kinds of entitlements. In fact one of them famously said, "He was entitled to his entitlements." Public office was a path to more, and more largesse all paid for by the compulsory taxes of the masses that were the prisoners of "democracy."
[read more at link below]
http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-prisoners-of-democracy.html

[Jun 05, 2018] Mourning in America The Day RFK Was Shot in Los Angeles The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Charles F, McElwee III is a writer based in northeastern Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter at @CFMcElwee . ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

America had dramatically changed since John F. Kennedy seduced voters with the promises of the New Frontier. A young family, the campaign jingles, the embrace of television, and the prospect of America's first Catholic president injected a sense of patriotic adrenaline into the 1960 campaign. There were "high hopes" for Jack and a sense of cultural validation for Catholics who remembered Al Smith's failed presidential bid in 1928. In 1960, the Everly Brothers and Bobby Darin crooned through the radio, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird proved a national sensation, and Americans flocked to movies like Spartacus in magnificent downtown theaters.

But the frivolity and innocence, however illusory, were shattered on November 22, 1963. Kennedy's assassination violently shifted America's cultural fault lines. One afternoon accelerated the nation's sociological maladies, intensified its political divisions, and evaporated its black-and-white contentment. Americans proceeded on a Technicolor path of disruption, one that had transformed the nation by the time of Bobby's announcement on March 16, 1968. It was that year when The Doors and Cream blasted from transistor radios, John Updike's Couples landed on the cover of Time , and 2001: A Space Odyssey played in new suburban cinemas. The country had experienced a dervish frenzy, and Bobby was fully aware of his nation's turbulent course.

The country was rocked by young students protesting a worsening war in Vietnam. Racial tension exploded and riots destroyed urban neighborhoods. America's political evolution forever altered its electoral geography. Bobby was embarking on a remarkable campaign that challenged the incumbent president, a man he despised for many years. But the source of this strife stemmed from the White House years of Bobby's brother. "While he defined his vision more concretely and compellingly than Jack had -- from ending a disastrous war and addressing the crisis in the cities to removing a sadly out-of-touch president -- he failed to point out that the war, the festering ghettos, and Lyndon Johnson were all part of Jack Kennedy's legacy," wrote Larry Tye in his biography of Bobby.

For the 1968 primary, Kennedy metamorphosed into a liberal figure with an economic populist message. Kennedy's belated entry turned into an audacious crusade, with the candidate addressing racial injustice, income inequality, and the failure of Vietnam. He balanced this message with themes touching upon free enterprise and law and order. Kennedy hoped to appeal to minorities and working-class whites. He quickly became a messianic figure, and the press embellished his New Democrat image. By late March, Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection during a televised address. Through his departure, Johnson worked to maintain control of the party machine by supporting Hubert Humphrey, his devoted Vice President. But in the following weeks, Kennedy built momentum as he challenged McCarthy in states like Indiana and Nebraska. His performance in both states, where anti-Catholic sentiments lingered, testified to Kennedy's favorable electoral position.

In April 4, Kennedy learned that the Rev. King had been assassinated. He relayed the civil rights leader's death in a black neighborhood in Indianapolis. His words helped spare Indianapolis from the riots that erupted in cities across the country, ultimately leading to nearly 40 people killed and over 2,000 injured. MLK's assassination served as an unsettling reminder to Kennedy's family, friends, campaign aides, and traveling press. During Kennedy's first campaign stop in Kansas, the press corps stopped at a restaurant where the legendary columnist Jimmy Breslin asked, "Do you think this guy has the stuff to go all the way?"

"Yes, of course he has the stuff to go all the way," replied Newsweek's John J. Lindsay. "But he's not going to go all the way. The reason is that somebody is going to shoot him. I know it and you know it. Just as sure as we're sitting here somebody is going to shoot him. He's out there now waiting for him. And, please God, I don't think we'll have a country after it."

Despite what happened in 1963, the Secret Service had yet to provide protection of presidential and vice presidential candidates and nominees during the 1964 election or the 1968 primary. But all the signs were there that Kennedy needed protection. The frenzied crowds increased in size, taking a physical toll on the candidate. In one instance, "he was pulled so hard that he tumbled into the car door, splitting his lip and breaking a front tooth that required capping," writes Nye. "He ended up on a regimen of vitamins and antibiotics to fight fatigue and infection For most politicians, the challenge was to attract crowds; for Bobby, it was to survive them." In California, just 82 days after his announcement, Kennedy met the fate that so many feared.

♦♦♦

Bobby Kennedy was a complicated figure from a family that continues to engage America's imagination. In his autobiography, the novelist Philip Roth, who recently passed away, reflected on Kennedy's assassination:

He was by no means a political figure constructed on anything other than the human scale, and so, the night of his assassination and for days afterward, one felt witness to the violent cutting down not of a monumental force for justice and social change like King or the powerful embodiment of a people's massive misfortunes or a titan of religious potency but rather of a rival -- of a vital, imperfect, high-strung, egotistical, rivalrous, talented brother, who could be just as nasty as he was decent. The murder of a boyish politician of forty-two, a man so nakedly ambitious and virile, was a crime against ordinary human hope as well as against the claims of robust, independent appetite and, coming after the murders of President Kennedy at forty-six and Martin Luther King at thirty-nine, evoked the simplest, most familiar forms of despair.

For those schoolchildren and their parents in June 1968, Kennedy's campaign offered a sense of nostalgia. They remembered the exuberance of his brother's campaign, the optimism of his administration, and the possibilities of the 1960s. For the nation's large ethnic Catholic voting bloc, another Kennedy reminded them of that feeling of validation in the 1960 election. Of course, it had been a tumultuous decade for these voters. They lived in cities that had precipitously declined since JFK's campaign visits in 1960. Railroad stations ended passenger service, theaters closed, factories shuttered, and new highways offered an exodus to suburbia. As Catholics, they prayed for the conversion of Russia, adapted to Vatican II reforms, and adjusted to new parishes in the developing outskirts. Young draftees were shipped off to a catastrophic war, which only intensified their feelings of disillusionment. Their disenchantment raised questions about their sustained support for Democrats. Kennedy may have proved formidable for Nixon in the general election, but the Catholic vote was increasingly up for grabs.

Pat Buchanan understood this electoral opportunity for Republicans. In a 1971 memo, Buchanan argued that Catholics were the largest bloc of available Democratic voters for the GOP: "The fellows who join the K.of C. (Knights of Columbus), who make mass and communion every morning, who go on retreats, who join the Holy Name society, who fight against abortion in their legislatures, who send their kids to Catholic schools, who work on assembly lines and live in Polish, Irish, Italian and Catholic communities or who have headed to the suburbs -- these are the majority of Catholics; they are where our voters are."

In subsequent presidential elections, Catholic voters flocked to Democrats and Republicans. Their electoral preferences were driven by the issues of the moment and often by location. The geographical divide of our politics has only intensified. The 2016 presidential election encapsulated this trend. Voters in Appalachia and the Rust Belt overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump that year. Many of these voters previously supported Obama in both 2008 and 2012. In 1968, these voters likely appreciated Kennedy's campaign message. But the tragedy of the nation is now a loss of optimism -- the belief that tomorrow will be a better day. Americans are overwhelmed by ideological tension and socio-economic angst. The prosperity enjoyed by large metropolitan regions has not spilled over into the heartland. There is no nostalgia for 1968 because countless Americans understand that the nation has failed to address income inequality, job displacement, urban decline, and mass poverty. It was so long ago, but America did lose its innocence on November 22, 1963. Bobby Kennedy's death in 1968 served as a reminder that it would never return.

Charles F, McElwee III is a writer based in northeastern Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter at @CFMcElwee .

[Jun 05, 2018] The Political Assassin Who Brought Down RFK

Notable quotes:
"... Northern Observer, someday Israel will go the way of Rhodesia if it's lucky. Many believe Israel orchestrated JFK's death; he insisted on inspecting Dimona for nuclear weapon development. ..."
"... If you look at actual evidence in the case you would understand that Sirhan did not and could not have killed Sen. Kennedy. Just look at autopsy report and it says he was killed by bullets fired and virtual point blank range from below and the back of the head. In addition, sound analysis proves that there were 13 shots fired but the alleged murder weapon only held 8 shots. So let's stop this charade. ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

More troublingly, Robert Kennedy's death occurred within five years of his elder brother's, and under similar circumstances. It is important to recall how unprecedented their deaths were to the generation who witnessed them. If time has removed the shock of the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers, it should not obscure just how anomalous they are. Bad luck may be part of the mythos of the Kennedy family, but lightning does not strike the same place twice, and political assassinations are exceedingly rare in American history. Both Kennedy brothers hurled themselves into the most tumultuous and divisive issues of their time -- Israeli nationalism and anti-communism -- and both appeared to have paid a heavy price.


Miguel June 4, 2018 at 12:01 am

In the first place, I don't think that failure of Robert Kennedy had anything to do with a substantial limitation of the liberal world view, but with another concept, or argument:

The end cannot justify the means because it is the mean, which is a process, which conditionates the end, in itself only an outcome.

Robert Kennedy supported violence made by the Zionist movement, turned into a State, and if you ask me, it was that violence which -no pun intended- backfired against him.

Now, about the out balance between loyalty and allegiance homeland/nation, I think it should be looked at from Sirhan perspective. Yes, he had escaped from what, in his perspective, was zionist persecution, just to end in a country where that persecution was supported actively by some high profile politicians. I am not going to say that murder is right, but some how it had to feel for him as if that anti palestinian israely persecution had reappeared very near to his home.

From that point of view, he wasn't a refuge anymore; the country where he was living had become an acomplice of that persecution.

Maybe, if Robert Kennedy had considered a less bellicist way to support Israel, like sending military support without delivering neither the means nor the command decissions to the government of Israel, but keeping it in the hand of the U.S., who knows.

Pear Conference , says: June 4, 2018 at 8:25 am
This article doesn't quite try to justify Oswald's or Sirhan's actions. But it places them firmly in a political context rather than a criminal one.

It also suggests that JFK and RFK both went too far – that they "hurled themselves into the most tumultuous and divisive issues of their time" and thus bear a degree of responsibility for their own fates.

If we want to debate the merits of arming Israel, or undermining Cuba, then let's have that debate. But this is altogether the wrong way to frame it. I, for one, don't ever want the Overton window on such issues to be shifted by the acts, or even the potential acts, of an assassin.

TTT , says: June 4, 2018 at 9:05 am
Israel twice begged Jordan not to join the war that it was already fighting with Egypt and Syria – a war of aggression and genocide, where Nasser boasted of the impending total destruction of Israel, Egyptian state media spoke of a road from Tel Aviv to Cairo paved in Jewish skulls, and Israel's rabbinate consecrated national parks in case they had to be used for Jewish mass graves.

Sirhan Sirhan's entire identity was wrapped up in the frustrated need for Jewish servitude and inferiority, the bitterness that a second Holocaust had failed. He was exactly like the Klan cops in Philadelphia, Mississippi, murdering Freedom Riders who tried to deprive them of their most cherished resource: assured superiority over their traditional designated victim group.

JLF , says: June 4, 2018 at 10:16 am
Hinted at but ignored is another aspect by which 1968 presaged 2018. In 1968 Bobby Kennedy waited until after Gene McCarthy had challenged LBJ and LBJ had withdrawn from the race before entering. For many (most?) McCarthy backers, Kennedy was an opportunistic, privileged spoiler. In the same way, many of Bernie Sanders' supporters looked upon Hillary Clinton as the privileged spoiler of a Democratic Party establishment that had tried and failed to move the party to the right. The McGovern was followed by Carter, who was followed by Mondale, who was followed by Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama, and Hillary. For Democrats, then, it's been fifty years of struggling to find a center, a struggle Republicans pretty much found in Ronald Reagan.
Donald , says: June 4, 2018 at 2:23 pm
The only way one can defend Israel's apartheid policies is by demonizing all of their victims. For examples, see TTT and Northern Observer.
mrscracker , says: June 4, 2018 at 2:27 pm
John Wilkes Booth was wrapped up in bitterness, defeat & a warped loyalty to his homeland, too. It's interesting I guess to examine assassins' motives, but to what point?
Sean , says: June 4, 2018 at 2:33 pm
Northern Observer, someday Israel will go the way of Rhodesia if it's lucky. Many believe Israel orchestrated JFK's death; he insisted on inspecting Dimona for nuclear weapon development.
Going My Way , says: June 4, 2018 at 3:09 pm
Let the many who criticize TAC for not printing pro Israeli essays read this one. Also, read the numerous blogs supporting this thrust. The "small nation" phrase was a tip-off to the author's loyalties. I think this article is more worthy of the New York Times. Let us not forget June 8, 1967, is another anniversary, when the sophisticated and unmarked aircraft and PT boats using napalm of the author's "small nation" attacked the USS Liberty in international water, with complete disregard to the ship's American markings and large US flag. http://www.gtr5.com/ This event received scant coverage on P19 of the aforementioned NYT. "Small nation"; indeed!
TTT , says: June 4, 2018 at 4:01 pm
The only way one can defend Israel's apartheid policies is by demonizing all of their victims.

Sirhan Sirhan is Jordanian – a nation that was invented specifically to be an apartheid state with no Jews at all, forever closed to Jewish inhabitation or immigration. That is his view of normalcy. I'm sorry it's also yours.

Steve Naidamast , says: June 4, 2018 at 4:19 pm
This is pure bunk. The idea that Sirhan Sirhan was the assassin of RFK has been categorically disproven by the analysis of the fatal bullets, which none of came from Sirhan's gun. And RFKs friends and close advisors all knew that he had no love for Israel. Whatever he said in support of Israel was for the media purposes only.
General Manager , says: June 4, 2018 at 4:27 pm
Having worked in Jordan and watched Israelis do business and as tourists (Jewish shrines) there, I saw and heard no antisemitism. From my perspective, there seemed to be a positive relationship. Elat and Aqaba are like sister cities. In fact, there seemed to be high-level cooperation. Keep looking you will find bigotry to justify your positions.
Someone in the crowd , says: June 4, 2018 at 5:56 pm
I completely agree with Steve Naidamast. This article is indeed "pure bunk" because Sirhan Sirhan is a side story. That's why this article, with such an angle, should simply never have been published.
Banger , says: June 4, 2018 at 8:29 pm
If you look at actual evidence in the case you would understand that Sirhan did not and could not have killed Sen. Kennedy. Just look at autopsy report and it says he was killed by bullets fired and virtual point blank range from below and the back of the head. In addition, sound analysis proves that there were 13 shots fired but the alleged murder weapon only held 8 shots. So let's stop this charade.
John Jeffery , says: June 4, 2018 at 9:49 pm
A laughably naive article which toes the CIA and Zionist line.
Donald , says: June 4, 2018 at 9:52 pm
TTT -- yo weren't just talking about Sirhan. I wasn't talking about him at all. I have no sympathy for people who practice terrorism, whether it is done by Palestinians, Jordanians, or the IDF.

[May 29, 2018] On Memorial Day, Getting Beyond 'Thank You For Your Service' The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Thucydides tells us that war changes the meaning of words . Social media demonstrated this maxim several years ago when " mil-splaining " military-related holidays was all the rage. ..."
"... Increasingly civilians see " soldiers as symbols that allow them to feel good about themselves, and the country" -- but many also see OxyContin that way. ..."
"... A strategy is needed that's rooted in serious analysis of American interests and strengths and a realistic assessment of the world. For nearly a generation, we have failed to align ends, ways, and means . Like " The Weary Titan ," America finds itself unable (or unwilling) to adapt to a changing world. ..."
"... What do we have to show for our expenditures? A divided country, financially exhausted while waging war across the globe against an elusive enemy -- who is, frankly, not a threat remotely approaching the resources we have aligned against him. Beyond the material costs, there's the social. Our military has become a syncretic religion, enjoying the support but not due consideration of the nation. This situation is genuinely tragic . ..."
"... The reason US acts like an empire is because she *IS* an empire. ..."
"... It recently dawned on me that the US' empire status solidified during and after WWII is the biggest reason why it's so easy for America to wage prolonged, deep-involvement wars. NATO, overseas bases, freedom of navigation, etc. ..."
"... But let's be honest: when we "killed" the draft we killed, in part, what is called social cohesion in this country. ..."
"... "This Memorial Day, don't cringe when someone says "Thank you for your service" and proceed to correct them." ..."
"... U.S. policy of perpetual war has been well established since 9/11. Everyone who joins the military is well aware of the job description (kill and destroy) and has free will. ..."
"... The U.S. military is currently providing refueling, logistics and intelligence support to the odious Saudis as they pulverize Yemen to smithereens and starve the population. And those American service people are "defending our freedoms" by doing so? ..."
"... The reason these episodes of introspection are called for is because of the massive propaganda machine (Pentagon, Corporate, MSM) of Military Exceptionalism that is the architect of the pathological incongruence. ..."
"... The 'military-civilian' divide, as the author stated it, is as much a product of a media that no longer holds policymakers accountable for seemingly endless military engagements and, the true effect that our endless military engagements are having on the very fabric of our society and on those engaged in them. ..."
"... With a volunteer military that effectively is at the disposal of whoever happens to be in office, no grass-roots opposition movement to hold politicians accountable, and 95 percent of the population untouched by war, the most veterans will receive is a "thank you for your service" as we go on with our daily lives. ..."
"... In my opinion, Demanding answers and justifications for sending people into harms way is the best expression of respect for our military personnel. ..."
"... " instead of asking 'what' we need to break the stalemate in Afghanistan, could ask 'why' there is a stalemate at all -- and whether American forces can truly ameliorate the structural, cultural, and historical obstacles to achieving desired ends there." ..."
"... Be aware that when you ask why, many people (including, sadly, many veterans) will consider this questioning of government foreign policy as a species of treason. Once, while on active duty with the US Army (1970), I suggested to a fellow officer that sending US troops to fight in Vietnam might not be in nation interest. I was immediately and vigorously condemned as a communist, a fascist, and a traitor. ..."
"... According to this reasoning, once the first soldier dies in battle, any criticism of the war denigrates the sacrifice of the deceased. So, we must continue to pile up the dead to justify those who have already died. This is part of the mechanism of war, and is an important reason why it is always easier to start a war than to stop one. ..."
May 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Thucydides tells us that war changes the meaning of words . Social media demonstrated this maxim several years ago when " mil-splaining " military-related holidays was all the rage. From memes outlining the differences between Veterans, Armed Forces, and Memorial Day, to Fourth of July "safe space" declarations seemingly applied to all vets, the trend was everywhere. Thankfully, it seems now to have passed.

Memorial Day is, of course, for remembering the fallen, those who died in service to the nation. Veterans and their families remember their loved ones in ways they deem appropriate, and the state remembers, too, in a somber, serious manner.

This remembrance should in no way preclude the typical family barbecue and other customs associated with the traditional beginning of summer. National holidays are for remembering and celebrating, not guilt. Shaming those who fail to celebrate a holiday according to one's expectations is a bit like non-Christians feeling shame for skipping church: it shouldn't matter because the day means different things to different people. Having a day on the calendar demonstrates the national consensus about honoring sacrifice; anything more than that is a slow walk towards superficiality. President Bush stopped golfing during the Iraq war, but it didn't stop him from continuing it.

Instead, Memorial Day should engender conversation about our military and the gulf between those who serve and those who don't. The conversation shouldn't just be the military talking at civilians; it must be reciprocal. Increasingly civilians see " soldiers as symbols that allow them to feel good about themselves, and the country" -- but many also see OxyContin that way. This situation is lamentable because the aforementioned "mil-splaining" could only occur in a country so profoundly divided from its military as to misunderstand basic concepts such as the purpose of holidays. It's also striking how the most outspoken so-called "patriots" often have little connection to that which they so outlandishly support. Our "thank you for your service" culture is anathema to well-functioning civil-military relations.

After Multiple Deployments, Coming Home to a Changed Country The Best Way to Honor a Vet is With the Truth

The public owes its military more consideration, particularly in how the armed forces are deployed across the globe. Part of this is empathy: