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Note: due to the size introduction was moved to a separate page November 2016 as a referendum on neoliberal globalization
This election is about the backlash against neoliberalism that became the dominant ideology of the ruling elite in the USA since 1980th. At this point blue color workers became sick of Demorats (aka Neoliberal Democrats) who are betraying them after each elections ("Change we can believe in" in worlds of the king of "bait and switch" Obama) and expecting still they will vote for Democratic as they have nowhere to go (Clinton strategy). They want to show middle finger to Clinton and other neoliberal criminals who deprived them of work, of dignity, of health (heroine epidemic is hitting the USA really hard). It's a class war all over again. Note how neoliberal media tried to misrepresent it accusing Trump supporters of racism, bigotry, and all other sins to mask anti-neoliberal backlash of the US population, and the revolutionary situation in the county, when the elite lost the control of the population. Which really somewhat reminds me the last days of the USSR when communist propaganda stopped working and people start seeing the "Politburo" as "naked king" -- a bunch of corrupt priests of obscure religion, who do not believe in the ideology they promote for "shmucks", only with their own and their families well-being. that their sons and daughters attend Western universities and their wives are shopping in Paris.
It is not an exaggeration to see in 2016 Presidential election as a referendum on neoliberal globalization. But the political power still belongs to Neoliberals, which dominates both the government and the economy (transnationals are the cornerstone of neoliberal world order). It's a big question if the American people will be able to change neoliberal dogma, the official civil religion of the USA without a violent revolution...
The great Trump political breakthrough was consolidating the white working class and white middle class vote. At last "clintonization" (sellout of the Party to Wall Street whichwas initialed by Bill Clinton, converting it into the party of "soft neoliberalism" which at times was undistinguishable from "hard neoliberalism" ) of Democratic Party backfired. Demexit -- abandoning of Demorats by white working and middle class is now a reality.
Writing in Politico, Georgetown political scientist Joshua Mitchell has a long, important take on the deep meaning of Trump — and it’s probably not what you think:
If you listen closely to Trump, you’ll hear a direct repudiation of the system of globalization and identity politics that has defined the world order since the Cold War. There are, in fact, six specific ideas that he has either blurted out or thinly buried in his rhetoric: (1) borders matter; (2) immigration policy matters; (3) national interests, not so-called universal interests, matter; (4) entrepreneurship matters; (5) decentralization matters; (6) PC speech—without which identity politics is inconceivable—must be repudiated.
These six ideas together point to an end to the unstable experiment with supra- and sub-national sovereignty that many of our elites have guided us toward, siren-like, since 1989.
That is what the Trump campaign, ghastly though it may at times be, leads us toward: A future where states matter. A future where people are citizens, working together toward (bourgeois) improvement of their lot. His ideas do not yet fully cohere. They are a bit too much like mental dust that has yet to come together. But they can come together. And Trump is the first American candidate to bring some coherence to them, however raucous his formulations have been.
This is a clear repudiation of neoliberalism (aka "casino capitalism" or Trotskyism for the rich) -- the secular religion to both Republican and Democratic parties adhere (while the term is prohibited from mass media -- can you imagine the Communist Party of the USSR would prohibit its members under the threat of purge to utter the word "communism" or call themselves "communists"). And that means that Trump is a threat to Washington neoliberal elite, the threat to neoliberal Washington_Consensus, which since 1980 (or even earlier) rules the place. That's why they fight and demonization of Trump is conducted by neoliberal media with such a fierce determination. That's why such a tremendous efforts and money are spend on propelling sick and unprincipled establishment candidate -- Hillary Clinton. A warmonger neoconservative, who is a staunch neoliberal (like her husband Bill Clinton).
The US neoliberal elite ("creator class" or "Masters of the Universe" in neoliberal jargon) have successfully revolted against the political and economic constraints on their wealth and power put by "enlightened corporatism" of the New Deal, and for 36 years managed to redistribute wealth up to the level that has no historical presidents. As a result social stability is in danger and "the rest" (or Untermensch, or "takers"/"welfare queen" in neoliberal jargon) are rebelling in the only way left open to them: voting for anyone who claims to be an outsider. (Romney-Ryan 'makers vs. takers' rhetoric helped spawn Donald Trump Washington Examiner)
This idea of low-income "takers" lay beneath Mitt Romney's view that the 47 percent of adults in the U.S. who owed no federal income tax were therefore "dependent upon government" and "who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them…."
But "taker" is a slur also when aimed at recipients of government benefits. Millions of "takers" are people who work 40 hours, but at low wages, and thus receive the earned-income tax credit. Will you blame their low wages on them? Perhaps they got horrible education thanks to incompetent government, or were just never blessed with marketable skills.
Some percentage of the 47 percent are World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam Veterans, who after serving their country, put in decades of work, and now live off the Social Security they paid into, without earning enough to owe federal income tax.
The "takers" include widows receiving food stamps, the ill being kept alive by Medicaid, and people drawing on unemployment because their employer got up and moved to Mexico.
More importantly, many of those on welfare or disability hate that they are dependent. They want to be working.
Are there "welfare queens," lazy able-bodied moochers, and people scamming disability? Yes. But lumping in 47 percent of the country with these scoundrels is as illegitimate lumping all businessmen in with the failed bankers who depend on bailouts.
This wasn't just Ryan's mistake. Conservatives broadly have equated low income with dependency. The conservative belief that the market tends to reward skill and diligence often mutates into a belief that poverty reflects some sort of turpitude.
That view helped give birth to Donald Trump, who has tapped into the working class that Ryan and Romney had pushed away.
Globalization and free trade are fast becoming dirty words. That’s because they were culprits for major shocks — like the 2008 financial crisis. In the United States alone, median household income has been practically stagnant for about three decades, the labor market continues to be anemic, manufacturing jobs have been lost, and many have experienced a significant deterioration in living standards.
Much of the post-Brexit and primary election conventional wisdom seems to be stuck in a political narrative in which the Brexit vote and the rise of Trump_vs_deep_state in the United States are seen as symbols of the populist revolution. These symbols are combined with a nationalist tide has been sweeping not only the United Kingdom and the United States, but also many other parts of Europe, including Poland, Hungary, France, The Netherlands and Scandinavia, not to mention, Russia, Turkey, India and Israel.
According to this narrative, economic insecurity and cultural anxiety that reflect sociodemographic trends have given momentum to ethnonationalism and religious separatism in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The Rust Belt is pitted against New York City, and the Midlands against London.
All this means that the crisis of neoliberalism, which started in 2008 now obtained political dimension, when the institutions created by neoliberalism are under attacks from the disgruntled population. The power of neoliberal propaganda, the power of brainwashing and indoctrination of population via MSM, schools and universities to push forward neoliberal globalization started to evaporate. And the fight against neoliberal globalization is not easy and it is not accidentally Hillary Clinton became the Democratic nominee and neoliberal MSM unlashed unprecedented campaign of blackmail against Trump. The fact is, Sheldon Wolin not accidentally calls neoliberalism "inverted totalitarianism" . It's a system where corporate power has seized all of political levers of control. In fact, under neoliberalism, there is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs or ExxonMobil or Raytheon. We also have lost our privacy. And under Obama, an assault against civil liberties has outstripped what George W. Bush carried out.
This is about the crisis of neoliberal ideology and especially Trotskyism part of it (neoliberalism can be viewed as Trotskyism for the rich). The following integral elements of this ideology no longer work well and are starting to cause the backlash:
So after 36 (or more) years of dominance (which started with triumphal march of neoliberalism in early 90th) the ideology entered "zombie state". That does not make it less dangerous but its power over minds of the population started to evaporate. Far right ideologies now are filling the vacuum, as ith the discreditation of socialist ideology and decimation of "enlightened corporatism" of the New Deal in the USA there is no other viable alternatives.
The same happened in late 1960th with the Communist ideology. It took 20 years for the USSR to crash after that with the resulting splash of nationalism (which was the force that blow up the USSR) and far right ideologies.
It remains to be seen whether the neoliberal US elite will fare better then Soviet nomenklatura as challenges facing the USA are now far greater then challenges which the USSR faced at the time. Among them is oil depletion which might be the final nail into the coffin of neoliberalism and, specifically, the neoliberal globalization.
This has been a bipartisan effort, because they've both been captured by corporate power. We have undergone what John Ralston Saul correctly calls a corporate coup d'état in slow motion, and it's over.
Neoliberal poison destroys a society and lifts the politicians with nationalistic bend like Trump. First, neoliberalism dislocated the working class, de-industrialized the country. Then, in the name of austerity, it destroyed public institutions, education, public broadcasting. And then it poisoned the political system.
I would argue that in terms of megalomania and narcissism, Hillary Clinton is not far behind Trump. But the point is, we've got to break away from-which is exactly the narrative neoliberal MSM want us to focus on.
We've got to break away from political personalities and understand and examine and critique the structures of power. And, in fact, the Democratic Party, especially beginning under Bill Clinton, has carried water for corporate entities as assiduously as the Republican Party.
We need to be aware of neoliberal brainwashing. I mean, this whole debate over the DNC WikiLeaks emails disclosure is insane. The key question here is not who leaked emails, but whether they are authentic or not. They are. As well as DNC dirty laundry exposed those long emails -- you should read them. They're really appalling, and exposes the way the Democratic primaries were rigged. Tricks used included the mechanism of the superdelegates (which unlawfully declared their allegiance very early creating pro-Clinton pressure of voters) , the stealing of the caucus in Nevada, and the huge amounts of corporate money and money of super PACs that flowed into the Clinton campaign. This faux feminism on which Hillary Clinton based her campaign is another propaganda trick. She si hostile to both women and children. Cold like any sociopath. The fact is, Clinton has a track record of hurting US children: she and her husband destroyed welfare as we know it, and 70% of the original recipients were children.
If is important to understand that the rise of nationalism, the phenomenal success of Trump is just a form of backlash against neoliberalism.
|Post election events (the first half of 2017)||US Presidential Elections of 2016 from primaries to election day||US Presidential Elections of 2016: Primaries||US Presidential Elections of 2016: 2015 part of the campaign||US Presidential Elections of 2012|
Apr 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Jackrabbit | Apr 18, 2018 11:42:04 AM | 142
Trump's actions have not matched his election rhetoric. Just like faux populist Obama. Obama also "caved" to pressure, and even set himself up for failure by emphasing "bipartisanship".
That is how the political mechanism of faux populism works.
Obama: Change you can believe in
Trump: Make America Great Again
Obama: Most transparent administration ever
Trump: Drain the Swamp
Obama: Deceiver: "Man of Peace" engaging in covert ops
Trump: Distractor: twitter, personal vendettas
Weakened by claims of unpatriotic inclinations:
Obama: Birthers (led by Trump who was close to Clinton's) - "Muslim socialist"!
Trump: Russia influence (pushed by 'NeverTrump' Clinton loyalists) - Putin's bitch!
There's more but I won't belabor the point.
Apr 17, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr
Ed Schultz: I was fired from MSNBC because I supported Bernie Sanders The former anchor claims the network was in the tank for Hillary Clinton
MSNBC anchor-turned-Russia Today host, Ed Schultz, told National Review Monday that he believes he was fired from the left-leaning cable news network because he openly supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary. The network, he claims, was in the tank for Hillary Clinton.
The interview itself is fascinating and a shocking look at the inner workings of MSNBC, even if Schultz isn't exactly a reliable narrator. Schultz claims that MSNBC took a heavy hand in dictating what went on air, and that he was often pushed in the direction of a story by higher-ups, even if he felt his audience wouldn't be interested.
Schultz says his trouble at MSNBC started when he informed his bosses that he planned to cover Bernie Sanders' campaign announcement live from Vermont, and that he would be airing the first, exclusive, cable network interview with the progressive presidential candidate. They objected, and even went so far as to tell Schultz to drop the story.
He refused. And was forced to cover a boring news story in Texas, he says.
Schultz is clear on whom he blames: Hillary Clinton.
" I think the Clintons were connected to [NBC's] Andy Lack, connected at the hip, " Schultz told NRO host Jamie Weinstein. " I think that they didn't want anybody in their primetime or anywhere in their lineup supporting Bernie Sanders. I think that they were in the tank for Hillary Clinton, and I think that it was managed, and 45 days later I was out at MSNBC. "
Schultz's stint at MSNBC came to a screeching halt in July 2015, just as the Democratic primaries were heating up. That same week, the network also axed other underperforming shows, but Schultz maintains that he was given the boot because they didn't want him speaking out against Clinton in the heat of the primaries.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/9PIOD4YwOwAsystem failure due to insufficient evolution? at 02:15
Apr 17, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com
Jack • 15 hours agoDid Comey throw Loretta Lynch under the bus?Karel Whitman -> Jack • 12 hours ago
"Here was material that I knew someday, when it's declassified, and I thought that would be decades in the future, would cause historians to wonder, "Hmm, was there some strange business going on there? Was Loretta Lynch somehow ... carrying water for the campaign and controlling what the FBI did?"' Comey said.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/...No, doesn't feel like that to me, Jack.Fred -> Karel Whitman , an hour ago
I read his narrative as presented by the Daily Mail differently. He seems to try to explain his much criticized going public on the Clinton mail issue -- pretty unique for the FBI to do so, no? -- was the decision based on other matters going on at the same time. ....
As I read it, he seems to claim he didn't want the FBI to be connected to the Obama-Bill Clinton & Lynch on the tarmac conspiracy theme in the public eye. ....
It was a bizarre moment in US history anyway, from Benghazi to the Clinton mails right into the middle of an election campaign. With one of the candidates still under investigation.
Comey said Obama's meddling surprised him. 'He's a very smart man and a lawyer ... He shouldn't have done it. It was inappropriate,' Comey said.
'What I can say is the material is legitimate,' he said. 'It is real. The content is real. Now, whether the content is true is a different question. And again, to my mind, I believed it was not true. '
What he vaguely refers to can be related to one three categories. Matters that Juridical Watch's FOIA efforts around the Bill Clinton - Lynch tarmac meeting hasn't brought to the surface yet:
that said, how comes I doubt my ability in English grammar while reading the Daily Mail article vs the linked Washington Post one. Have to take a closer look at one passage were the use of tense puzzled me.LeaNder,
Let me help you with this. Democratic party advisor and former communications director for the white house under President Clinton interviewed a man complicit in stifling the Clinton - Hilary- email scandal by spending an hour deflecting attention from Comey' s conduct.
That truth about George's past neither lied about, they just refused to mention the blatant conflict of interest the interviewer had hoping nobody in America would remember.
Of course it is Trump's fault for coining the phrase "fake news" and sticking that truth on Stephanopoulos and the rest. Now they are just proving how right Trump is regarding the American press core.
Apr 17, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr
Donald Trump's far-right loyal fans must be really pissed off right now after permanently switching himself to pro-war mode with that evil, warmongering triplet in charge and the second bombing against Syria. Even worse, this time he has done it together with Theresa May and the neoliberal globalist Emmanuel Macron.
We can tell that by watching the mind-blowing reactions of one of his most fanatic alt-right media supporters: Alex Jones. Jones nearly cried(!) in front of the camera, feeling betrayed from his 'anti-establishment', 'anti-interventionist' idol and declared that he won't support Trump anymore. Well, what did you expect, Alex? expect, Alex?
Right after the elections, we supported that the US establishment gave a brilliant performance by putting its reserve, Donald Trump, in power, against the only candidate that the same establishment identified as a real threat: Bernie Sanders. Right after the elections, we supported that the US establishment gave a brilliant performance by putting its reserve, Donald Trump, in power, against the only candidate that the same establishment identified as a real threat: Bernie Sanders.
Then, Donnie sent the first shock wave to his supporters by literally hiring the Goldman Sachs banksters to run the economy. And right after that, he signed for more deregulation in favor of the Wall Street mafia that ruined the economy in 2008!
The only hope that has been left, was to resist against starting a war with Russia, as the US deep state (and Hillary of course) wanted. Well, it was proven to be only a hope too. Last year, Trump bombed Syria under the same pretext resembling the lies that led us to the Iraq war disaster. Despite the fact that the US Tomahawk missile attack had zero value in operational level (the United States allegedly warned Russia and Syria, while the targeted airport was operating normally just hours after the attack), Trump sent a clear message to the US deep state that he is prepared to meet all its demands - and especially the escalation of confrontation with Russia. Indeed, a year later, Trump already built a pro-war team that includes the most bloodthirsty, hawkish triplet.
And then, Donnie ordered a second airstrike against Syria, together with his neo-colonial friends.
It seems that neither this strike was a serious attempt against the Syrian army and its allies. Yet, Donnie probably won't dare to escalate tension in the Syrian battlefield before the next US national elections. That's because many of his supporters are already pissed off with him and therefore, he wants to go with good chances for a second term.
Although we really hope that we are are wrong this time, we guess that, surrounded by all these warmongering hawks, Donnie, in a potential second term, will be pushed to open another war front in Syria and probably in Iran, defying the Russians and the consequent danger for a WWIII.
Poor Alex et al: we told you about Trump from the beginning. You didn't listen ...
Apr 17, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Last week, John Bolton ascended to the office of National Security Advisor, following in the hurried footsteps of Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster. Two peculiar characteristics set Bolton apart from most folks in D.C.: an unabashedly luxurious mustache and an unmatched penchant for unjustified preemptive violence.
At the University of Chicago in 2009, Bolton warned , "Unless Israel is prepared to use nuclear weapons against Iran's program, Iran will have nuclear weapons in the very near future." Thankfully, Israel didn't take Bolton's advice and, as most predicted, Iran never lived up to his expectations. Similarly, in a 2015 op-ed in the New York Times , Bolton opined , "The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure . Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed." Three short months later, a non-proliferation deal wherein Iran agreed to a 98 percent reduction in its enriched uranium stockpile and a 15-year pause in the development of key weapons infrastructure was negotiated.
More recently in February, Bolton advised in the Wall Street Journal that "Given the gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea, we should not wait until the very last minute . It is perfectly legitimate for the United States to respond to the current 'necessity' posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons by striking first."
By this point Bolton's record of calling for war in every possible situation had lost the ability to shock. Still, the Founding Fathers would probably be appalled.
A comparatively irenic vision pervades the philosophy of the founders. James Wilson, in his Lectures on Law, wrote that when a nation "is under an obligation to preserve itself and its members; it has a right to do everything" that it can "without injuring others." In Federalist 4, John Jay advised that the American people ought to support steps that would "put and keep them in such a situation as, instead of inviting war, will tend to repress and discourage it." And in his Farewell Address, George Washington asserted that the United States should be "always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence."
A preemptive nuclear strike justified on the flimsy basis of "gaps in U.S. intelligence" hardly seems concordant with such military restraint and "exalted justice." And lest it be thought these ideals were mere lofty notions, consider how, as American history proceeded, they became enshrined in American diplomacy.
In 1837, Canadian rebels sailing aboard the Caroline fled to an island in the Niagara River with the help of a few American citizens. British forces boarded their ship, killed an American member of the crew, and then set the Caroline ablaze before forcing it over Niagara Falls. Enraged, American and Canadian raiders destroyed a British ship. Several attacks followed until the crisis was at last ended in 1842 by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. In the aftermath, the Caroline test was established, which stipulates that an attack made in self-defense is justifiable only when, in the words of Daniel Webster, the necessity is "instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation." This principle remains the international standard, though some like Bolton think it's outdated.
With the Caroline test in mind, Bolton wrote while arguing in favor of a preemptive strike against North Korea, "The case against preemption rests on the misinterpretation of a standard that derives from prenuclear, pre-ballistic-missile times." In other words, Bolton believes that we can no longer afford to wait for the situation to be "instant" and "overwhelming," and makes an offense out of abstaining from immediate preemptive action, regardless of the potential costs involved.
Relatedly, one of Bolton's most colorful jabs at President Obama involved likening him to Æthelred the Unready, a medieval Anglo-Saxon king remembered for his tragic indecisiveness. Yet given the costs of groundless preemption, indecisiveness is often a midwife to careful contemplation and peace. Had Prime Minister Netanyahu or Obama been persuaded by Bolton's retrospectively warrantless calls for preemption in Iran, tragedy would have followed.
In that vein, it is Bolton who merits historical comparison: to Cato the Elder, a conservative-yet-eccentric Roman statesman who, according to Plutarch, would often and invariably call for the destruction of Carthage, even though the Carthaginian threat was neither imminent nor apparent. Eventually, Cato's words wended their way into the ears of power and hundreds of thousands of Carthaginians were pointlessly slaughtered. According to the Greek historian Polybius, Scipio Aemilianus, the young Roman General who led the attack, at seeing the carnage of a great people, "shed tears and wept openly."
In order that we never find ourselves standing alongside Scipio knee-deep in unjustly spilt blood, Bolton should reconsider whether the flimsy merits of rash preemption truly outweigh the durable wisdom of the Founding Fathers and the lessons of history.
Michael Shindler is an Advocate with Young Voices and a writer living in Washington, D.C. Follow him @MichaelShindler .
Janwaar Bibi April 17, 2018 at 4:28 pmFrom the Wikipedia article for Bolton:connecticut farmer , says: April 17, 2018 at 4:53 pm
During the 1969 Vietnam War draft lottery, Bolton drew number 185. (Draft numbers corresponded to birth dates.) As a result of the Johnson and Nixon administrations' decisions to rely largely on the draft rather than on the reserve forces, joining a Guard or Reserve unit became a way to avoid service in the Vietnam War. Before graduating from Yale in 1970, Bolton enlisted in the Maryland Army National Guard rather than wait to find out if his draft number would be called. (The highest number called to military service was 195.) He saw active duty for 18 weeks of training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, from July to November 1970.
After serving in the National Guard for four years, he served in the United States Army Reserve until the end of his enlistment two years later.
He wrote in his Yale 25th reunion book "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost." In an interview, Bolton discussed his comment in the reunion book, explaining that he decided to avoid service in Vietnam because "by the time I was about to graduate in 1970, it was clear to me that opponents of the Vietnam War had made it certain we could not prevail, and that I had no great interest in going there to have Teddy Kennedy give it back to the people I might die to take it away from."
Why is it that the US leads the world in production of chicken-hawks? Even these mangy ex-colonial countries like the UK and France do not have as many chicken-hawks as we do.Cato the Elder: "Carthago dalenda est!" ("Carthage Must Be Destroyed!")Kent , says: April 17, 2018 at 5:02 pm
John Bolton: "Syria dalenda est!" "Iran dalenda est!" Russia dalenda est!" And etc etc.
Connecticut Farmer: "Bolton dalenda est!""In order that we never find ourselves standing alongside Scipio knee-deep in unjustly spilt blood,"JonF , says: April 17, 2018 at 5:08 pm
That ship sailed awhile back.Comparing Obama to Athelred is absurd. Athelred's problem was not that he was indecisive, but rather that he refused to listen to advice from anyone (the moniker "Unready" actually meant "Uncounseled" in Old English) and that he was extremely impulsive and deeply bigoted. Hence he ordered a general massacre of the Danes in England. Luckily it was only carried out in a limited region, unluckily the victims included the King of Denmark's sister and her children, leading to an open blood feud war, and also cost Aethelred any support he might have had from his wife's kinsman, the Duke of Normandy. If anyone is a good match for old Aethelred, it's Donald Trump.
Apr 17, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.comApril 16, 2018, 9:55 PM "Ten days ago, President Trump was saying 'the United States should withdraw from Syria.' We convinced him it was necessary to stay."
Thus boasted French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, adding, "We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term."
Is the U.S. indeed in the Syrian Civil War "for the long term"?
If so, who made that fateful decision for this republic?
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley confirmed Sunday there would be no drawdown of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, until three objectives were reached. We must fully defeat ISIS, ensure chemical weapons will not again be used by Bashar al-Assad and maintain the ability to watch Iran.
Translation: whatever Trump says, America is not coming out of Syria. We are going deeper in. Trump's commitment to extricate us from these bankrupting and blood-soaked Middle East wars and to seek a new rapprochement with Russia is "inoperative."
The War Party that Trump routed in the primaries is capturing and crafting his foreign policy. Monday's Wall Street Journal editorial page fairly blossomed with war plans:
The better U.S. strategy is to turn Syria into the Ayatollah's Vietnam. Only when Russia and Iran began to pay a larger price in Syria will they have any incentive to negotiate an end to the war or even contemplate a peace based on dividing the country into ethnic-based enclaves.
Apparently, we are to bleed Syria, Russia, Hezbollah, and Iran until they cannot stand the pain and submit to subdividing Syria the way we want.
But suppose that, as in our Civil War of 1861-1865, the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and the Chinese Civil War of 1945-1949, Assad and his Russian, Iranian, and Shiite militia allies go all out to win and reunite the nation.
Suppose they choose to fight to consolidate the victory they have won after seven years of war. Where do we find the troops to take back the territory our rebels lost? Or do we just bomb mercilessly?
The British and French say they will back us in future attacks if chemical weapons are used, but they are not plunging into Syria.
Defense Secretary James Mattis called the U.S.-British-French attack a "one-shot" deal. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appears to agree: "The rest of the Syrian war must proceed as it will."
The Journal 's op-ed page Monday was turned over to former U.S. ambassador to Syria Ryan Crocker and Brookings Institute senior fellow Michael O'Hanlon: "Next time the U.S. could up the ante, going after military command and control, political leadership, and perhaps even Assad himself. The U.S. could also pledge to take out much of his air force. Targets within Iran should not be off limits."
And when did Congress authorize U.S. acts of war against Syria, its air force, or political leadership? When did Congress authorize the killing of the president of Syria whose country has not attacked us?
Can the U.S. also attack Iran and kill the ayatollah without consulting Congress?
Clearly, with the U.S. fighting in six countries, Commander in Chief Trump does not want any new wars, or to widen any existing wars in the Middle East. But he is being pushed into becoming a war president to advance the agenda of foreign policy elites who, almost to a man, opposed his election.
We have a reluctant president being pushed into a war he does not want to fight. This is a formula for a strategic disaster not unlike Vietnam or George W. Bush's war to strip Iraq of nonexistent WMDs.
The assumption of the War Party seems to be that if we launch larger and more lethal strikes in Syria, inflicting casualties on Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah, and the Syrian army, they will yield to our demands.
But where is the evidence for this?
What reason is there to believe these forces will surrender what they have paid in blood to win? And if they choose to fight and widen the war to the larger Middle East, are we prepared for that?
As for Trump's statement Friday, "No amount of American blood and treasure can produce lasting peace in the Middle East," the Washington Post on Sunday dismissed this as "fatalistic" and "misguided." We have a vital interest, says the Post , in preventing Iran from establishing a "land corridor" across Syria.
Yet consider how Iran acquired this "land corridor." The Shiites in 1979 overthrew a shah our CIA installed in 1953. The Shiites control Iraq because President Bush invaded and overthrew Saddam and his Sunni Baath Party, disbanded his Sunni-led army, and let the Shiite majority take control of the country. The Shiites are dominant in Lebanon because they rose up and ran out the Israelis, who invaded in 1982 to run out the PLO.
How many American dead will it take to reverse this history?
How long will we have to stay in the Middle East to assure the permanent hegemony of Sunni over Shiite?
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.
Apr 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
In fact, just how "ugly" the relationship has become is fast becoming a matter of public debate. During his March visit, Scaparrotti appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to give testimony on the challenges facing his command. While most members focused on Russia and cyberwar issues, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine explored the U.S.-Turkey dust-up, hinting that it might be time for the U.S. to dampen its YPG ties. Scaparrotti didn't disagree, while soft-pedaling the disagreements over the issue that he's had with Votel and Centcom. "Where do we want to be in a year, two years and five years?" he asked. "With a close NATO ally like Turkey, we know that we want to maintain and strengthen our relationship. So that's the long-term objective and if we look at the long-term objective, it can begin to inform what we're doing today with respect to NATO." The senior military officer with whom I spoke proved a willing translator: "What Scaparrotti is saying is that the real marriage here is between the U.S. and Turkey. The YPG is just a fling."
But convincing James Mattis of that is proving difficult, in part because Scaparrotti is outgunned. Every defense secretary surrounds himself with people he can count on and who he listens to. But for Mattis almost all of them have had experience in the Middle East -- and at Centcom. There's Mattis himself (a former Centcom commander), JCS Chairman Joseph Dunford (who served with Mattis in Iraq), Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, Jr. (a Marine who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq), retired Rear Admiral Kevin M. Sweeney (the former Centcom executive officer), Rear Admiral Craig S. Faller (a Mattis advisor, and a Navy commander during both the Afghan and Iraq wars), and current Centcom commander General Joseph Votel -- the former commander of the U.S. Special Operation Command ("a trigger puller," as he was described to me by a currently serving officer). Votel is the most outspoken YPG supporter of any of them, and because he's the combatant commander, his support carries weight.
"This is clientism," the senior military officer with whom I spoke explains. "All of these guys have served together and trust each other. And, you know, this is the way it works. The U.S. Central Command has the Middle East as a client and the European Command has the Europeans and Turkey as clients. But if you take a look at Mattis and the people around him, well, you know, it's all Centcom. So Scaparrotti is worried, and he ought to be. We don't want to be sitting around 30 years from now reading historical pieces with titles like 'Who Lost Turkey?'"
Even someone as careful in his public utterances as Admiral James Stavridis, who once held Scaparrotti's command and is now the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, is raising concerns. While he waves off the "who lost Turkey" formulation as "a trope that is moving around the Internet," he told me in an email exchange that "it would be a mistake of epic proportions to allow Turkey to drift out of the transatlantic orbit" -- a repeat of the warning issued by Scaparrotti to Mattis in March. But like Scaparrotti, Staviridis is slow-rolling his disagreement. "This is a distinction without a difference," the senior officer and NATO partisan with whom we spoke says. "By drifting out of NATO, Stavridis means leaving. He's as worried as anyone else."
Concerns over Turkey are probably a surprise in the White House, given its almost daily crisis over the looming Russia-gate investigation, but they shouldn't be. The president has had extended telephone exchanges with Turkish President Tayyip Erodogan twice in the last three weeks. While the White House has refused to give details of these conversations, the Turkish official with whom we spoke told TAC that in both conversations (on March 23 and again on April 11), Erdogan emphasized three growing concerns he has that America's temporary and "transactional" support for the YPG is becoming permanent. This same official went on to note that, in his opinion, it's not a coincidence that Trump floated the idea of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria ("I want to get out," he said. "I want to bring our troops home") -- a suggestion that did not go over well with Centcom partisans at the Pentagon.
On April 3, the same day Trump issued his let's-get-out statement, Joseph Votel and Brett McGurk appeared at the U.S. Institute of Peace, arguing that the U.S. needed to stay in. "The hard part, I think, is in front of us," Votel said, "and that is stabilizing these areas, consolidating our gains, getting back to their homes. There is a military role in this," he went on to say. "Certainly in the stabilization phase."
The Votel appearance was exasperating for those worried about NATO's future, and for those concerned that the endless conflicts in the region are draining the defense budget of badly needed funds to rebuild U.S. military readiness. For them, a group that now includes a growing number of very senior and influential military officers, "stabilization" is not only a codeword for "nation building," it signals support for a mission that is endangering the future of NATO, the institution that has guaranteed peace in Europe for three generations.
"It's not worth it," the senior military commander who spoke with TAC concludes. "On top of everything else, it puts us on the wrong side of the political equation. This whole thing about how the enemy of my enemy is my friend is a bunch of bullshit. The enemy of my enemy is now making an enemy of our friend. I don't know who we think we're fooling, but it sure as hell isn't Turkey. And it isn't the American people either."
Mark Perry is a foreign policy analyst, a contributing editor to The American Conservative, and the author of The Pentagon's Wars (2017).
Apr 16, 2018 | caucus99percent.com
"The Democratic Party is better than the Republican Party in the way that manslaughter is slightly better than murder: It might seem like a lesser crime, but the victim can't really tell the difference." -- Michael Harriot
Apr 16, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Jackrabbit | Apr 15, 2018 5:57:58 PM | 105
To Trump apologists: Trump is the Republican Obama. The follow the same model of government: faux populist leader dogged by crazy critics that want to derail a righteous agenda.
Obamabots gave similar excuses. Real populists simply don't get have a chance of being elected in US money-driven elections.
Why was there only two populists running for President in 2016? Sanders, Hillay's sheepdog, destroyed the movement that would been the best check on the establishment and the rush to war. That movement was never going to be allowed to take root. Trump, a friend of the Clinton's was probably meant to prevail.
Rome had bread and circuses. We've got crumbs and tweets.
Apr 15, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Peter AU 1 , Apr 15, 2018 4:09:16 PM | 72From what I can make of Trump, he wants to return the US to its general prosperity that it has enjoyed in the past, a country with world leading infrastructure, were average workers are better of than workers of other countries. He is not interested in wars that are detrimental or costly to the US. If a war is profitable for the US, he may be interested.Anon , Apr 15, 2018 4:12:18 PM | 74
Like Erdogan in Turkey, Trump is heading for the multi-polar world. Personally I don't like the US culture of full blown capitalism and privatization that is US culture and gave rise to the neo-cons, but that is not the point. Trump wants the capitalism of the likes of Henry Ford whose innovation? of production line produced good quality cheap products but paid workers two to three times the going rate.
The neo-cons, with their never ending wars for total dominance are destroying the world and the US. It is starting to look like they will also destroy Trump.Peter AU1Peter AU 1 , Apr 15, 2018 4:28:53 PM | 79
Considering Trump kick out Tillerson and so forth and added many neocons one can't deny the reality of what is going on. Trump knows perfectly well what he is doing and did in Syria. He isn't pushed by anyone.A further thought to my post @72Peter AU 1 , Apr 15, 2018 4:31:07 PM | 80
The photographs of Trump with his arms folded and the general look. Defensive or beaten type look. In Trump's book, Art of the Deal, what he respects most is people that deliver what they promise. He uses hyperbole to sell a product, but above all he must deliver what the people want. He campaigned on pulling US out of foreign entanglements and useless expensive wars.
The choreographed attack on Shayrat airbase preempted the neocons and took the wind out of their sails. This latest strike, rather than being pre-emptive, was forced on him. He has not been able to deliver the product he promised and what people bought when they elected him.
The reaction of the likes of Alan Jones and other Trump supporters on Twitter and elsewhere is evidence of that failure.Anon 74ben , Apr 15, 2018 4:59:27 PM | 82
The neo-con world butters Tillerson's bread. I suspect he was a snake in the grass like Obama.Peter AU1 @ 79 said: "In Trump's book, Art of the Deal, what he respects most is people that deliver what they promise."
Trump must not respect himself much, because according to people who have followed his entire career say he never delivers things promised..
Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
With the country's attention focused on James Comey's
book publicity galainterview with ABC at 10pm ET, the former FBI Director has thrown former President Obama and his Attorney General Loretta Lynch under the bus, claiming they "jeopardized" the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Comey called out Obama and Lynch in his new book, A Higher Loyalty , set to come out on Tuesday. In it, he defends the FBI's top brass and counterintelligence investigators charged with probing Clinton's use of a private email server and mishandling of classified information, reports the Washington Examiner , which received an advanced copy.
" I never heard anyone on our team -- not one -- take a position that seemed driven by their personal political motivations . And more than that: I never heard an argument or observation I thought came from a political bias. Never ... Instead we debated, argued, listened, reflected, agonized, played devil's advocate, and even found opportunities to laugh as we hashed out major decisions .
("Guys, LMAO, we totally just exonerated Hillary! My sides! Hey Andy, how's Jill's Senate race going?")
Comey says that multiple public statements made by Obama about the investigation "jeopardized" the credibility of the FBI investigation - seemingly absolving Clinton of any crime before FBI investigators were able to complete their work .
" Contributing to this problem, regrettably, was President Obama . He had jeopardized the Department of Justice's credibility in the investigation by saying in a 60 Minutes interview on Oct. 11, 2015, that Clinton's email use was "a mistake" that had not endangered national security," Comey writes. "Then on Fox News on April 10, 2016, he said that Clinton may have been careless but did not do anything to intentionally harm national security, suggesting that the case involved overclassification of material in the government."
" President Obama is a very smart man who understands the law very well . To this day, I don't know why he spoke about the case publicly and seemed to absolve her before a final determination was made. If the president had already decided the matter, an outside observer could reasonably wonder, how on earth could his Department of Justice do anything other than follow his lead." - Washington Examiner
Of course, Comey had already begun drafting Clinton's exoneration before even interviewing her, something which appears to have been "forgotten" in his book.
" The truth was that the president -- as far as I knew, anyway -- he had only as much information as anyone following it in the media . He had not been briefed on our work at all. And if he was following the media, he knew nothing, because there had been no leaks at all up until that point. But, his comments still set all of us up for corrosive attacks if the case were completed with no charges brought."
"Matter" not "Investigation"
Comey also describes a September 2015 meeting with AG Lynch in which she asked him to describe the Clinton email investigation as a "matter" instead of an investigation.
"It occurred to me in the moment that this issue of semantics was strikingly similar to the fight the Clinton campaign had waged against The New York Times in July. Ever since then, the Clinton team had been employing a variety of euphemisms to avoid using the word 'investigation,'" Comey writes.
" The attorney general seemed to be directing me to align with the Clinton campaign strategy . Her "just do it" response to my question indicated that she had no legal or procedural justification for her request, at least not one grounded in our practices or traditions. Otherwise, I assume, she would have said so.
Comey said others present in the meeting with Lynch thought her request was odd and political as well - including one of the DOJ's senior leaders.
" I know the FBI attendees at our meeting saw her request as overtly political when we talked about it afterward . So did at least one of Lynch's senior leaders. George Toscas, then the number-three person in the department's National Security Division and someone I liked, smiled at the FBI team as we filed out, saying sarcastically, ' Well you are the Federal Bureau of Matters ,'" Comey recalled.
That said, Comey "didn't see any instance when Attorney General Lynch interfered with the conduct of the investigation," writing "Though I had been concerned about her direction to me at that point, I saw no indication afterward that she had any contact with the investigators or prosecutors on the case."
In response, Loretta Lynch promptly issued a statement in which she said that if James Comey " had any concerns regarding the email investigation, classified or not, he had ample opportunities to raise them with me both privately and in meetings. He never did."
Apr 14, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.comIt begins: Trump announces a series of joint air strikes on Syrian targets Friday. An explosion after an apparent US-led coalition airstrike on Kobane, Syria, as seen from the Turkish side of the border, near Suruc district, 24 October 2014, Sanliurfa, Turkey Shutterstock/orlok UPDATE 9 p.m.ET : President Trump announces joint air strikes with the UK and France against Syrian targets in retaliation for suspected chemical attack a week ago in Douma.
One year since the U.S. illegally launched 59 cruise missiles at Syrian government forces in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack, the Trump administration is preparing to take similar military action despite an increased risk of escalation that could lead to the start of a wider war.
The U.S., France, and Britain have been preparing to strike the Syrian government over the last several days, and Syria's Russian patron has threatened the "gravest consequences" in response to an attack. Russia didn't respond to last year's one-off airstrikes, but Moscow isn't likely to tolerate a larger U.S. attack carried out with other governments. Syria's government and its allies seem more willing to fight back than they were a year ago, and that should give the Trump administration and our European allies pause. There is a greater risk of great power conflict erupting in Syria than there has been at any time since the end of the Cold War, and if Russian military personnel are killed by U.S. or allied strikes there is no telling how quickly things could deteriorate there and in other parts of the world.
President Trump's public statements have strongly suggested that an attack will be happening soon, going so far as to taunt Russia on Twitter that they should "get ready" for the "new" and "smart" missiles that the U.S. would be using. Some members of Congress have insisted that the president lacks the legal authority to launch an attack on Syria without their authorization. As Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) put it , "[I]f this president can decide unilaterally to bomb Syria, I worry that he can make the same decision about North Korea or Iran or other nations. And these decisions are not supposed to be made without consultation and voting by Congress." Unfortunately, Congressional leaders have shown no signs of wanting to hold a debate or have a vote before the attack takes place.
The Trump administration has not offered a public legal justification for last year's strikes, and it seems unlikely to offer one this time. That is probably because there is no plausible interpretation of the law that permits the president to initiate hostilities against foreign governments on his own when the U.S. has not been attacked. There is no provision in international law that allows a U.S. attack on another government without explicit Security Council authorization, and we know that this authorization that will never be forthcoming in this case because of Russia's veto. While the attack is being sold as the enforcement of a norm against chemical weapons use, it isn't possible to uphold an international norm while violating the most fundamental rule of international law.
To date, the U.S. and its allies have presented no definitive evidence to support their claims against the Syrian government. It is entirely plausible that the Syrian government is guilty of using chlorine or sarin against its enemies and the civilian population, but there has been no real effort on the part of the U.S. and its allies to prove their accusation before deciding to act as executioners. Regardless, the U.S. and its allies have no authority to punish the Syrian government, and in doing so they may do significant harm to international peace and security.
A U.S.-led attack on the Syrian government could lead to war with Russia or Iran or both at once, and there is also a danger that it could help set off a war between Israel and Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that Israel would not "allow" an Iranian military presence to be established in Syria. The prime minister's threat came on the heels of Israeli strikes inside Syria that reportedly killed seven Iranians serving alongside the Syrian regime's forces. Iran has threatened retaliation for the attack, and it has the ability through Hizbullah to make good on that threat if Israel carries out additional strikes. Israel might use a U.S.-led attack on Iran's allies in Syria as an excuse to strike more Iranian targets, and Iran might then respond in kind with missile attacks on Israel. Lebanese, Syrian, and Israeli civilians would all suffer if that happened, and it would make an already chaotic international situation even worse.
It is a measure of how divorced from U.S. and allied security our Syria policy has become that our government is seriously preparing to launch another illegal attack on a government that hasn't attacked us and doesn't threaten us or our allies. Attacking the Syrian government won't make the U.S. or any other country more secure, and it will likely weaken the government just enough to prolong Syria's civil war and add to the suffering of the civilian population. It is a perfect example of a military intervention that is being done for its own sake with no connection to any discernible interests or strategy. No one stands to gain from such an attack except for the ideologues that have incessantly demanded deeper U.S. involvement in Syria for the last six years.
Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog . He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Front Porch Republic, and The Week . He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago. Follow him on Twitter .
Apr 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
So what of these charges against Cohen and could they really hurt the president?
Federal election laws define a campaign contribution as "anything of value given to influence a Federal election." It is common knowledge that Mr. Cohen acknowledged that he paid porn star "Stormy Daniels" $130,000 two weeks before the 2016 election in exchange for her staying silent about her 2006 affair with Trump. No one pays for silence unless there is something to hide. The payment was made 10 years after the alleged dalliance.
The obvious purpose was to influence the outcome of the election by concealing damaging information about Mr. Trump's character. That made Mr. Cohen's payment an undisclosed campaign "contribution" to Mr. Trump vastly exceeding the individual statutory limit of $2,700.
Similarly, Democrat John Edwards was prosecuted (later acquitted) for soliciting and spending nearly $1 million in his 2008 presidential campaign to conceal his affair with Rielle Hunter, so this is not a crime normally brushed under the rug. The public record also establishes probable cause to believe Cohen was behind the payment of $150,000 to Playboy Bunny Karen McDougall to kill her story about a protracted extramarital relationship with Mr. Trump that could have torpedoed his presidential ambitions. The question remains, of course, how much this will implicate and hurt Trump, who has denied the affair with Daniels and any other "wrongdoing." Cohen said he paid Daniels out of his own pocket and was not reimbursed by Trump or the campaign.
JK April 13, 2018 at 1:52 pmJohn Edwards was acquited on one charge and a mistrial on five others w/o retrial. So there was no conviction there, these actions are not business as usual, and the DOJ lesson from that case should have been to cease such abusive prosecutorial misconduct, not to repeat it. These examples show why campaign finance restrictions are an unconstitutional burden on freedom of association. Trump is a rich man, so could afford to pay the hush money if he believed it necessary without it being a crime. As it appears, Cohen believed it important to pay w/o asking Trump, thinking he's helping a friend. Now what of Edwards? Maybe Edwards couldn't afford to pay hush money, so he needed and solicited help from friends. By making it a crime for friends to help him, the law favors rich candidates like Trump that can afford to do things others can't without breaking the law.curri , says: April 13, 2018 at 2:05 pm
There is zero chance of a jury conviction here, so DOJ shouldn't have pursued it given the incendiary effect of conducting raids on someone's attorney. Furthermore, there's zero chance of Muller getting jury convictions on the pile of horse manure prosecutions he's pursuing. The only convictions Muller is getting is from people buckling under the fiduciary extortion inherent in his tactics and copping a plea even though a jury would never convict them.So who do we believe, Dershowitz or Fein?
Similarly, Democrat John Edwards was prosecuted for soliciting and spending nearly $1 million in his 2008 presidential campaign to conceal his affair with Rielle Hunter, so this is not a crime normally brushed under the rug.
Maybe you should have picked an example where the defendant wasn't acquitted. It's easy to see how an expansive definition of the term "campaign contribution" could be dangerous.
Apr 13, 2018 | www.voltairenet.org
o the Western powers hope to put an end to the constraints of International Law? That is the question asked by the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergueï Lavrov, at the Moscow conference on International Security [ 1 ].
Over the last few years, Washington has been promoting the concept of " unilateralism ". International Law and the United Nations are supposed to bow to the power of the United States.
This concept of political life is born of the History of the United States - the colonists who came to the Americas intended to live as they chose and make a fortune there. Each community developed its own laws and refused the intervention of a central government in local affairs. The President and the Federal Congress are charged with Defense and Foreign Affairs, but like the citizens themselves, they refused to accept an authority above their own.
Bill Clinton attacked Yugoslavia, blithely violating Internal Law. George Bush Jr. did the same by attacking Iraq, and Barack Obama by attacking Libya and Syria. As for Donald Trump, he has never hidden his distrust of supra-national rules.
Making an allusion to the Cebrowski-Barnett doctrine [ 2 ], Sergueï Lavrov declared: " We have the clear impression that the United States seek to maintain a state of controlled chaos in this immense geopolitical area [the Near East], hoping to use it to justify the military presence of the USA in the region, without any time limit, in order to promote their own agenda ".
The United Kingdom also seem to feel quite comfortable with breaking the Law. Last month, it accused Moscow in the " Skripal affair ", without the slightest proof, and attempted to unite a majority of the General Assembly of the UN to exclude Russia from the Security Council. It would of course be easier for the Anglo-Saxons to unilaterally rewrite the Law without having to take notice of the opinions of their opponents.
Moscow does not believe that London took this initiative. It considers that Washington is calling the shots.
" Globalisation ", in other words the " globalisation of Anglo-Saxon values ", has created a class society between states. But we should not confuse this new problem with the existence of the right to a veto. Of course, the UNO, while it declares equality between states whatever their size, distinguishes, within the Security Council, five permanent members who have a veto. This Directorate, composed of the main victors of the Second World War, is a necessity for them to accept the principle of supra-national Law. However, when this Directorate fails to embody the Law, the General Assembly may take its place. At least in theory, because the smaller states which vote against a greater state are obliged to suffer retaliatory measures.
La " globalisation of Anglo-Saxon values " ignores honour and highlights profit, so that the weight of the propositions by any state will be measured only by the economic development of its country. However, over the years, three states have managed to gain an audience to the foundations of their propositions, and not in function of their economy – they are the Iran of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (today under house arrest in his own country), the Venezuela of Hugo Chávez, and the Holy See.
The confusion engendered by Anglo-Saxon values has led to the financing of intergovernmental organisations with private money. As one thing leads to another, the member states of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), for example, have progressively abandoned their propositional power to the profit of private telecom operators, who are united in a " consultative committee ".
" Communication ", a new name for " propaganda ", has become the imperative in international relations. From the US Secretary of State brandishing a phial of pseudo-anthrax to the British Minister for Foreign Affairs lying about the origin of Novitchok in the Salisbury affair, lies have become the substitute for respect, and cause general mistrust.
During the first years of its creation, the UNO attempted to forbid " war propaganda ", but today, it is the permanent members of the Security Council who indulge in it.
The worst occurred in 2012, when Washington managed to obtain the nomination of one of its worst war-hawks, Jeffrey Feltman, as the number 2 of the UNO [ 3 ]. From that date onward, wars have been orchestrated in New York by the very institution that is supposed to prevent them.
Russia is wondering today about the possible desire of the Western powers to block the United Nations. If this is so, it would create an alternative institution, but there would no longer be a forum which would enable the two blocks to discuss matters.
Just as a society which falls into chaos, where men are wolves for men when deprived of the Law, so the world will become a battle-field if it abandons International Law. Thierry Meyssan
Apr 11, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Aren Haich , Apr 11, 2018 3:38:48 PM | 141It is long passed the time when any thinking person took Trump-Tweets seriously. Trump, himself doesn't take them seriously and considers them as 'negotiating tactics'. Remember the tweets: "Fire & Fury the World has Never Seen Before", "Little Rocket Man" and "Bigger Nuclear Button", which then ushered in the prospect of a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un?
This latest Trump-Tweet about "Russia to be ready for new, smart missiles raining down on Syria" is also a negotiating ploy and to save face. Stock markets, even in this volatile times, have hardly budged, and the gold price is where it has been for the past year.
There will probably be a well-restricted cruise missile attack on some Syrian-Iranian base with Russia pre-warned. The long-promised meeting between Trump and Putin will emerge in the news to discuss the future of Syria. Trump's desire to pull out of Syria will then come about naturally and as the result of consultations with Putin.
Apr 11, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.comPresident Trump, Vice President Pence, and Defense Secretary Mattis. (DoD) On Sunday, President Trump announced his intention to make those responsible for an alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma, including the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies, pay a "big price" for their continued disregard for international law. The next day U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley declared that "The United States is determined to see the monster who dropped chemical weapons on the Syrian people held to account."
President Trump reinforced his call for action on Monday, noting that the United States would not sit back in the face of the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria. "It will be met, and it will be met forcefully," the president said, adding that those responsible for the attack will be held accountable, whether it was Syria, Russia, Iran or "all of them together." Trump noted that a decision to use military force would be made "over the next 24 to 48 hours."
The pronouncements of imminent military action by the United States are not made in a vacuum. Russia, which has considerable military forces deployed inside Syria, including advanced military aircraft and anti-aircraft missile batteries, has rejected the allegations of chemical weapons use by Syria as a "fabrication," and promised that any attack on Syria would result in "serious repercussions." Russian forces inside Syria have reportedly been placed on "full alert" as American naval vessels capable of launching cruise missiles have arrived off the Syrian coast.
The United States and Russia appear to be heading toward a direct military confrontation that, depending on the level of force used and the number, if any, casualties incurred by either side, carries with it the risk of a broader conflict. While Russian (and Syrian) claims of innocence regarding the alleged chemical weapons attack cannot be accepted at face value, the fact that the United States has not backed up its own claims with anything other than a recitation of accusations made by rebel groups opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad is problematic insofar as it shows a rush to judgement on matters of war. Given the potentially devastating consequences of any U.S.-Russian military clash over Syria, it would be better for all parties involved to wait for a full and thorough investigation of the alleged attack before any final decision on the use of force in response is made.
There are two versions of what happened in Douma, a suburb of Damascus home to between 80,000 and 150,000 people. The one relied upon by the United States is provided by rebel forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. According to the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), a non-profit organization comprised of various Syrian opposition groups funded by the Asfari Foundation and George Soros' Open Societies Foundation , at approximately 12 p.m. the Syrian Air Force attacked the vicinity of the Saada Bakery using munitions believed to contain "poisonous gas." The VDC cited eyewitness accounts from members of the Syrian Civil Defense, or "White Helmets," who described the smell of chlorine and the presence of numerous bodies assessed to have succumbed from gas sourced to a Syrian "rocket." Later, at 7 p.m., a second air strike struck an area near Martyr's Square, again using munitions assessed by eyewitnesses to contain "poisonous gas." Doctors from the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) described symptoms that indicated that a nerve agent had been used. Images of victims in the locations allegedly attacked were released by a rebel-affiliated social media entity known as the "Douma Revolution" and the "White Helmets."
Douma is part of a larger district known as Eastern Ghouta which has, since 2012, been under the control of various militant organizations opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In early February 2018, the Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force, began operations to recapture the Eastern Ghouta district. The joint Syrian-Russian offensive was as brutal as it was effective -- by March, Eastern Ghouta had been split into three pockets of resistance at a cost of more than 1,600 civilian dead. Two of the pockets capitulated under terms which had the opposition fighters and their families evacuated to rebel-held territory in the northern Syrian province of Idlib. Only Douma held out, where Salafist fighters from the "Army of Islam" (Jaish al-Islam) refused to surrender. On April 5, the situation had deteriorated inside Douma to the point that the rebel defenders had agreed to negotiations that would lead to their evacuation of Douma; the very next day, however, these discussions had broken down, and the Syrian military resumed its offensive. The air attacks described by the VDC occurred on the second day of the resumption of hostilities.
There is a competing narrative , however, provided by the Russian government and those sympathetic to its position. After the breakdown of negotiations between the Douma rebels and the Russian government on April 6, the story goes, the Syrian government offensive to liberate Douma resumed. The Douma rebels, faced with imminent defeat, fabricated the allegations of a chemical attack. Russia had warned of such a provocation back in March 2018, claiming the rebels were working in coordination with the United States to create the conditions for a massive American air attack against Syrian government infrastructure.
Shortly after the Syrian government resumed its offensive against Douma (and after the opposition forces publicized their allegations of Syrian government chemical weapons attacks), the rebel resistance inside Douma collapsed, with the fighters agreeing to be evacuated to Idlib. The Russian military was able to dispatch units to the sites of the alleged chemical weapons attacks and conduct a survey. According to the state-run Russian news, no evidence of a chemical weapons attack was discovered. Representatives of the Syrian Red Crescent who claim to have worked in Douma stated that they have seen no evidence of any chemical weapons use there, either.
Beyond providing a competing narrative, however, Russia has offered to open up Douma to inspectors from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons , or OPCW, for a full investigation. This offer was echoed by the Syrian government , which extended an official invitation for the OPCW to come to Douma. On April 10, the OPCW announced that it would be dispatching an inspection team "shortly" to carry out this work. The forensic technical investigatory capabilities of an OPCW inspection team are such that it would be able to detect the presence of any chemical agent used in Douma. While the investigation itself would take days to conduct and weeks to process, its conclusions would, under these circumstances, be conclusive as to the presence of any prohibited substance.
One major drawback to any OPCW investigation is its inability to assess responsibility for the presence of any banned substances detected. In prior investigations inside Syria, the OPCW was able to operate as part of the United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) , an entity specifically empowered by Security Council resolution to make such determinations. The mandate of the JIM was not extended , however, after Russia expressed its displeasure over what it deemed to be the inaccurate and politicized findings regarding previous allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government. The United States has submitted a resolution to the Security Council demanding that a new investigatory body be formed that would be able to provide attribution for any chemical weapons attack inside Syria; whether Russia would veto such a resolution or allow it to be passed has yet to be seen.
The bottom line, however, is that the United States is threatening to go to war in Syria over allegations of chemical weapons usage for which no factual evidence has been provided. This act is occurring even as the possibility remains that verifiable forensic investigations would, at a minimum, confirm the presence of chemical weapons (thereby contradicting the Russian claims that no such evidence was detected by its troops), and if the Security Council passes a resolution allowing for a properly mandated investigation team, actual attribution could be assigned.
Moreover, President Trump's rush to judgment on Syrian guilt is being done in a highly politicized environment, coming as it does on the heels of an FBI raid on the offices of the president's personal attorney . In times such as this, a president is often attracted by the prospect of "looking presidential" in order to offset personal problems (one only need to look at President Clinton's decision in August 1998 , at the height of the Lewinsky scandal, to launch cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan.)
If America is to place its military in harm's way, it needs to be in support of a cause worthy of the sacrifice being asked of those who serve. Giving the OPCW time to carry out its investigation in Syria would allow a fact-based case to be made whether military force was justified or not, as well as support a determination of whether or not the risks associated with the use of force were warranted. Pulling the trigger void of such information, especially when Trump is distracted by personal political issues, is not something the American people, nor their representatives in Congress, should tolerate.
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 .
Apr 06, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.comInstead Donald Trump's team is inflating the threat, worried he'll rush away from war.
President Trump's unexpected pledge last week to pull U.S. troops out of Syria "very soon" has occasioned predictable wailing in predictable places .
The president also faced unsurprising pushback from his national security team, forcing him to clarify this week that the 2,000 troops there now will stay only until the mission to defeat ISIS, which is "coming to a rapid end," is finished. Of course his military advisors and many of his aides disagree.
A Pentagon spokesman has warned that ISIS is looking for " any opportunity to regain momentum ." Anonymous military officers speak of fumbling the ball " on the two yard line ." Officials tell reporters that while the group is "almost completely defeated," a string of renewed ISIS attacks could signal a resurgence.
Regardless of the outcome in Washington, Trump's instincts on Syria deserve discussion.
Unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, the operation in Syria has cost us very little blood and treasure, at least so far. Special operations forces (SOF) and "other government agencies" ably partnered with our largely Kurdish proxies to break the back of ISIS's nascent state. The group's conventional military power has been destroyed. Howev er menacing officials make it sound, it's been estimated that the Islamic State has fewer than 1,000 fighters left on the battlefield. Mosul, its largest city, was retaken by Iraqi security forces, while its de facto capital Raqqa was conquered by the Kurds. Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor are back in government hands. Areas of ISIS control are tough to even find on a map of the Syrian conflict.
For all these successes, however, we have been walking a knife's edge in Syria ever since openly intervening there in 2014. Deconfliction with Russia has not been flawless: Turkey shot down a Russian plane in 2015 and U.S. firepower reportedly killed hundreds of Russian mercenaries earlier this year. That knife's edge has only gotten sharper over the past two months, as Turkish troops invaded the Afrin region of northern Syria. Turkey's "Operation Olive Branch" exposed the elephant in the room: America's only successful proxy, the Syrian Kurds, are linked to Turkey's PKK, which Turkey, the European Union, and the U.S. have declared a terrorist group. Our NATO ally is now openly at war with our Kurdish partner, as American advisors do their best to stay off the frontline. In 2008, Vice President-Elect Joe Biden bluntly told Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai: "Pakistan is 50 times more important for the United States than Afghanistan." The same obvious wisdom applies in spades to Turkey and Syria respectively.
What of the Kurds? If recent reports are to be believed, American Special Forces are incensed they are being told to abandon a valiant, reliable battlefield ally. Squeezed between a revanchist Turkey and a stabilized Syrian state, Syria's Kurds are not likely to keep their independent project of Rojava. The United States declined to intervene to protect Iraq's Kurds last year, when Iraqi forces quickly seized the Kurdish "Jerusalem," oil-rich Kirkuk, after an abortive independence referendum. To pretend we have a greater will or ability to protect Syria's Kurds is folly.
The Kurds should ask Vietnam's Montagnards how they fared as an American proxy, or question the Palestinians about what they've gained from an American mediator . Loathe though we may be to admit it, America has been a fickle friend for the majority of small nations and peoples that have looked to her as a protector. Even many of our Afghan interpreters who served in American uniforms and cashed American paychecks have been abandoned to their enemies . Like a serial philanderer we can pretend that this time will be different, but the reality is that America seldom has the patience or stomach for sustained non-existential military intervention outside our hemisphere, particularly when casualties mount. The victims of pretending otherwise are seldom Americans; they are Vietnamese, Somalis, Iraqi Marsh Arabs, and many others. The current state of political polarization in Washington and the primacy of the 24-hour news cycle have only hardened this long-standing reality.
Left to their own devices, Syria's Kurds can probably work out a modus vivendi with Assad's government, which has other battles to fight and foreign backers of its own who would like to draw down their commitments. Battles between the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces and Assad's Syrian Arab Army have been few. Turkey has tolerated a Kurdish autonomous region on its border with Iraq -- but it will not do so with Kurds who remain affiliated with the PKK.
Regardless of Rojava's fate, ISIS may well regenerate. It already has the local ties and financial network to thrive as an insurgency in western Iraq. That, however, is a governance and security problem for Iraqis and Syrians, not Americans. The United States maintains an unparalleled ability to project military power and destroy targets around the world, both with standoff firepower and by putting troops into battle via air and sea. Should ISIS or another Salafist successor build any real base of power again in the Levant we can rapidly deploy combat power to destroy it. But staying there any longer remains a fool's errand.
Gil Barndollar served as a Marine infantry officer from 2009 to 2016. His writing has appeared in the Marine Corps Gazette , the Journal of Military Operations , and the Michigan War Studies Review .
Wheeling philosophe April 7, 2018 at 7:46 pm"I don't like "abandoning an ally" like this, but that alliance was never going to be long lasting, and the Kurds have to have known that."SteveK9 , says: April 8, 2018 at 9:02 am
Yes. As a parting gesture, we could round up some of the louder-mouthed neocons and ship them over to "independent Kurdistan" to spend a few quiet hours with their erstwhile heroes. Let the Kurds vent their entirely understandable anger out on those who lied to and manipulated them with the same glib ease that they once lied to America about Iraq's WMDs.'Mosul, its largest city, was retaken by Iraqi security forces, while its de facto capital Raqqa was conquered by the Kurds. Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor are back in government hands.'
I'd like to correct a couple of things, ISIS was destroyed in Syria, by the Syrian Arab Army, and by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. Mosuls and Raqqa were not 'retaken' or 'conquered'. They were utterly destroyed by aerial bombardment, which is about the only thing we are good at doing.
Apr 09, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The president tweeted this out this morning in response to reports of a new chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government:
If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!
-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018
Trump's statement is a particularly stupid piece of revisionism on his part. Trump was opposed to Obama's threatened attack in 2013 , and then as president Trump ordered an illegal military attack on the Syrian government one year ago to punish it for an alleged chemical weapons attack. He had no authority to do this, the attack was a flagrant breach of the U.N. Charter, and it apparently failed to discourage the Syrian government from carrying out similar attacks later on. The president ordered the "unbelievably small attack" that Obama administration threatened to launch in 2013, and it made no meaningful difference to the course of the war or the regime's behavior.
Trump tweeted out earlier in the day that "President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay." He didn't say what that "big price" was or how it will be "paid," but the fact that he thinks it is a good idea to make threats against the Syrian government's patrons bodes ill for the future of U.S. policy in Syria. The foreign policy establishment was beside itself last week when they thought that Trump wanted to withdraw from Syria, but they should be much more worried that he will launch an illegal attack and plunge the U.S. in even deeper.
The danger in having an ongoing illegal military presence in Syria is that it exposes U.S. forces to unacceptable and unnecessary risks and creates the possibility of escalation with the Syrian government and its allies. If Trump orders another illegal attack on the Syrian government or the forces of any of its supporters, it could easily trigger a larger conflict. Russia has given an explicit warning against a U.S. attack this time, saying that it could trigger "the gravest consequences." Even if it doesn't lead to a larger conflict with a nuclear-armed major power, it isn't worth taking the risk for the sake of policing the conduct of a foreign civil war.
If Trump were really interested in extricating the U.S. from war in Syria, he would not be engaged in mindless saber-rattling against the Syrian government and its allies. Unfortunately, Trump's bellicosity always seems to take over in these situations. That is what we get from Trump's anti-restraint foreign policy.
rayray April 8, 2018 at 2:32 pmIt's true that I'm no genius, but after reading as much as I can and thinking it over I still don't know who is the right horse to back, or what is the right side to be on in Syria. Assad is a brute, Isis are brutes, the other parties of opposition are useless, and etc., and none of it has anything to do with us anyway. To Daniel's point, we're keeping an army hanging around in a volatile and illegal situation for no discernible point.romegas , says: April 8, 2018 at 3:36 pm
Except to hate Iran.
The longterm on Syria doesn't look good for anyone. I'm guessing, because of his long history of ignorance and incoherence, Trump has no plan.
But the odd thing is, the most stable and invested country in the region is Iran. Crazy as it might sound to an Iran-hater-dead-ender, the country we should be chatting with about Syria is Iran. If we genuinely cared about anything humanitarian. The two countries with the most likely influence over Bashar with the aim of mitigating his violence would likely be Iran and Russia. If we wanted to actually accomplish something we could quietly and diplomatically arrange that chat and encourage some beneficial influence there.@rayrayb. , says: April 8, 2018 at 3:42 pm
If Assad is really the brute that the West portrays him to be he would have been toppled by now. That the Syrian population by and large has stood by him in 6 years of war should tell you something. I make a point to get most of the news about Syria from Christian organisations who live there – and they are all unequivocal. They are now beyond livid of what the US and its allies has allowed and even facilitated to happen there. Tthankfully for them they still have the Syrian Arab Army and Russia to protect them unlike their brethren in Iraq, one of the oldest Christian communities in existence which has been practically wiped out thanks to America's intervention."If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line "b. , says: April 8, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Interesting view. Obama imagined he drew a "red line" that Assad was not to cross, and allegedly did. Trump's tongue apparently wore a Freudian slip when he rubi-conned this phrase into twitter.
To make this a turn worthy of Croesumpus, let us just say that if Trump crosses that red line of his own, a great war criminal will be destroyed.
"In early March 2008, Abkhazia and South Ossetia submitted formal requests for their recognition to Russia's parliament shortly after the West's recognition of Kosovo to which Russia was opposed. [The] Russian ambassador to NATO, warned that Georgia's NATO membership aspirations would cause Russia to support the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia."
Clinton ignored the Russian objections to the West's unilateral recognition of Balkan breakaways. Bush, Saakashvili and the usual entourage of the neocon meddler travelling circus that nowadays haunts the Ukraine dismissed both the Russian warnings and the Russian military response. The result was utter failure.
Putin might never see an opportunity for a similarly deadly and promising "play" in the circle jerk of Syria free-for-all invasions – Gulf states, Turkey, US, Israel – but if he should ever see an opening, I would expect him to seek another object lesson. His hand might not be strong, but he appears to play it well.
Meanwhile, the Kurdish YPG and Syrian government troops ally against NATO partner Turkey, and the US military has repeatedly attacked Syrian regular military and boasts – by leak – about massacring Russian "private military contractors".
Iran demonstrated in Iraq that US ineptitude combined with impunitivism provides many openings to stabilize, in a sense, the region.
Apr 09, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Circe , Apr 8, 2018 3:59:20 PM | 93Putin really dropped the ball on the Libya No-Fly Resolution trusting the evil empire. Now the stakes
are even higher. The absolute worse news in all this is that Trump is bringing in Bolton as his lunatic
wing man at the worst possible time when things were looking like they were wrapping up in Syria.
Bolton is the male version of Hillary on steroids. Trump is going to hide behind Bolton's
mustache - you know, me good cop; Bolton bad cop; IOW, don't blame me for what needs to be done. Trump gifted
Jerusalem to Netanyahu, and now he's going to gift him Syria too. The Iran deal will
also get scrapped soon and that's more gasoline on a fire that's about to get out of control. Here's one way
to distract from the Mueller investigation; start a war and rally the county under
a common cause: war with Syria, ergo Russia and then Iran.
It's as I said from day one: Trump can't help himself; he's always been a Zio-con and Adelson
is getting his money's worth. It's all going to happen as I always said it would. Trump was the perfect puppet.
Trump will look like the savior of the realm; a role his big fat ego always dreamed of and won't resist.
Now, there still might be a way out of this potential catastrophe. Admit it, wouldn't it be nice if Putin
really was holding back something big regarding Trump?
*sigh* - if only! Very soon would be a good time to drop it. Manafort?
James , Apr 8, 2018 4:35:09 PM | 99Circe Medvedev was President
However the responsibility for what happened in Libya is with the western poweres of NATO
they. dropped the bombs and armed the jihadis.
The blame lies with them not Russia
As for the tone of the rest of your post-
War is not a pissing contest
It involves loss of life destruction of families, communities, countries.
Russia has a reason to be there - what is the agenda of the western powered beyond destroying a country like they did Libya
Apr 07, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
GOP is done April 6, 2018 at 12:20 amWhy are you giving trump so much credit ? Trump is Pro-Israel and will do their evil biddingpolistra , says: April 6, 2018 at 4:15 amTrump doesn't have any instincts. He's just playing the old DC game. Pretend that you want to do something, then act shocked after you didn't do it. Each party plays the game against the other party, each house of Congress plays the game against the other house, Presidents play it against Congress and the "courts".balconesfault , says: April 6, 2018 at 6:14 am
This game wouldn't work in real life.
I shout to everyone in the house, "I'm going to the store to get groceries."
One hour later, after sitting in the living room watching TV, making no move toward the car, I shout again:
"See what happens? I tried, but these evil other-party spirits wouldn't let me. You need to vote these evil other-party spirits out of the house so we can have food!"Huh you elect someone who says his military strategy will always be "listen to the Generals", and are then surprised when the Generals want to keep fighting?Stephen J. , says: April 6, 2018 at 7:25 am
Of course Trump will accede. He has no coherent and consistent policy just Fox News buzzwords spinning in his head. Now add John Bolton as his guiding light.Mr. Buchanan is correct the U.S. is: "in a country where we have no right to be "Michael Kenny , says: April 6, 2018 at 8:41 am
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
The U.S. is in Syria illegally, and what is even worse it is reportedly supporting terrorists.
This is surely a crime, yet no charges have been laid. Why?
"Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.[i] Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, December 8, 2016,Press Release.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
Much more evidence on this and other matters at link below.
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2016/10/the-evidence-of-planning-of-wars.htmlThe important point in Syria is that Putin is irreversibly bogged down there. He sinks or swims with Assad, which means, sooner or later, sinks. He's a sitting duck who can do nothing but sit there and wait until the US chooses to attack him. So there's no harm in leaving him to stew. John Bolton's bête noire has always been Iran, which is supposed to be Putin's ally. Going after Iran will put Putin on the spot. He has to decide whether to back his "ally" or leave Iran in the lurch. Thus, putting Syria on the back burner and concentrating on Iran forces Putin either to discredit himself by abandoning his "ally" or to bog himself down in yet another conflict. Heads, Ukraine wins, tails, Putin loses!Dan Green , says: April 6, 2018 at 9:59 amOur military complex is very key to our security. With that said they plan and like war.b. , says: April 6, 2018 at 10:00 amOn such hollow reed the imperial presidency, uneasily, rests.Stephen J. , says: April 6, 2018 at 11:25 am
The triad's synthesis: ISIS will never be "defeated".
Hubris, catharsis over is.More info on the treachery and criminality being enacted in SyriaAnthony Ferrara , says: April 6, 2018 at 12:02 pm
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –
"Our ally Kuwait has become the epicenter of fundraising for terrorist groups in Syria."
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
"Yes, folks, your tax dollars are going to support Islamist crazies in Syria. The same people who attacked Paris are being aided and abetted by the US – and if that isn't a criminal act, then there is no justice in this world." Justin Raimondo, November 25, 2015
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
And much more info at the link below.
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/05/the-war-gangs-and-war-criminals-of-nato.htmlThe military industrial complex is nearly impossible to go up against in this country.One Guy , says: April 6, 2018 at 1:03 pmThe USA has hundreds of military bases overseas. We should close most of them. Trump is saying the right thing, unfortunately, we all know he doesn't follow through (that NRA thing, that DACA thing, that wall thing, that coal thing, that lock-her-up thing, etc. etc).Cynthia McLean , says: April 6, 2018 at 1:27 pm
Nothing will change.The War Party is intent on building a permanent military base in Syria to fulfill US aspirations of full-spectrum dominance.Fred Bowman , says: April 6, 2018 at 1:54 pmRest assure Pat that when "push comes to shove" that Trump will let the Generals have their way. To believe otherwise is foolishness.Patrick , says: April 6, 2018 at 3:16 pmIt seems that the failure in Syria is related to the classical policy verse strategy conflict. The military is once again put in a difficult position when the civilian leadership tries to use a military solution to solve a diplomatic problem. The military was given the task to destroy ISIS but that goal will be impossible without Turkey's cooperation and the leader of that country has chosen a path toward appeasement by the United States or confrontation.JK , says: April 6, 2018 at 4:05 pm
There seems to be credible evidence of Turkey's support for ISIS in the flow of combatants and military logistics into Syria as well as profiting from the sale and transport of ISIS controlled Syrian oil through Turkey. Now we are seeing Turkey invading Syria and ethnically cleansing our Kurdish allies from Syria's Northern Boarder. We still don't know what the Obama/Clinton CIA and State Department was up to in Benghazi, but it did seem to involve the flow of arms from Libya, and I have read reports that members of the Turkish government were meeting with the killed ambassador before the attack.
In Syria is appears that the Assad, Iranian and Russian alliance was more focused upon the rebels attempting to overthrow the government; rather than destroying ISIS. Once the United States leaves there may be greater tolerance for ISIS as long as the government is not threatened and ISIS may even be allowed to join that alliance to get some revenge against the Kurds who were allied with the U.S.
We saw the recent Russian test of US resolve using mercenaries with disastrous consequences. As long as the US remains in Syria there will be similar tests and what if is Turkey decides to test the resolve of US forces?
Our NATO partner Turkey seems to have become more of an enemy than a friend, and also more of a liability than an asset. Removing U.S. military assets from Turkey may be prudent, followed by its expulsion from NATO. Expelling Turkish citizens from other NATO countries and economic sanctions may be another strategy to make Turkey reconsider its continued belligerence.I don't recall anyone forcing Trump to appoint to top positions people who flat out refuse his orders and block him from carrying out policy he campaigned on. There is a limit on how much sincerity you can attribute to a man who says one thing, does the exact opposite, and defend him as fighting some Don Quixotic struggle tilting at windmills.
Apr 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
'Ghost Wars' author on the secret war behind the war in Afghanistan
U.S-trained Afghan Army troops. Credit: USMC Cpl. John Scott Rafoss/public domain Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Steve Coll, Penguin Press, 784 pages
Twelve days after 9/11, on the night of September 23, 2001, the CIA's Islamabad station chief, Robert Grenier, received a telephone call from his boss, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. "Listen, Bob," Tenet said, "we're meeting tomorrow at Camp David to discuss our war strategy in Afghanistan. How should we begin? What targets do we hit? How do we sequence our actions?"
Grenier later wrote in his book, 88 Days to Kandahar , that while he was surprised by the call he'd been thinking about these same questions -- "mulling them over and over and over," as he later told me -- so he was ready. President George Bush's address to the U.S. Congress just a few days before, Grenier told Tenet, was a good start: demand that Afghanistan's Taliban ruler, Mullah Omar, turn bin Laden over to the United States. If he refused, the U.S. should launch a campaign to oust him. Grenier had thought through the plan, but before going into its details with Tenet he abruptly stopped the conversation. "Mr. Director," he said, "this isn't going to work. I need to write this all down clearly." Tenet agreed.
Grenier set to work, and over the next three hours he laid out the battle for Afghanistan. Included in the paper was a detailed program of how the CIA could deploy undercover teams to recruit bin Laden's enemies among Afghanistan's northern Tajik and Uzbek tribes (an uneasy coalition of ethnic militias operating as the Northern Alliance), supply them with cash and weapons, and use them in a rolling offensive that would oust the Taliban in Kabul. With U.S. help, which included deploying American Special Forces teams (under CIA leadership) coupled with American airpower, the Northern Alliance (more properly, the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan) would start from its Panjshir Valley enclave in Afghanistan's far northeast and, recruiting support from anti-Taliban forces along the way, roll all the way into Kabul.
Grenier gave the eight-page draft paper to his staff to review, then sent it to Tenet in Washington, who passed it through the deputies committee (the second-in-command of each of the major national security agencies), then presented it to Bush. "I regard that cable," Grenier wrote, "as the best three hours of work I ever did in my twenty-seven-year career."
Three days after the Tenet-Grenier telephone conversation, on September 26, the CIA landed a covert-operations team in Afghanistan to recruit local allies in the hunt for bin Laden. The quick action was impressive, but then events slowed to a crawl. It wasn't until October 20 that the first U.S. Special Forces team linked up with anti-Taliban rebels, and it took another week for U.S. units to land in strength. But by early November al Qaeda was on the run and the Taliban's grip on the country was slipping away. On November 13, militias of the Northern Alliance seized Kabul. The Taliban was defeated, its badly mauled units fleeing south and east (its last bastion, in the south, fell on December 6), and into nearby Pakistan, while what remained of al Qaeda holed up in a series of cave complexes in the Spin Ghar mountain range of eastern Afghanistan.
By almost any measure, the CIA-led anti-al Qaeda and anti-Taliban offensive (dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom by George Bush) marked a decisive victory in the war on terror. The U.S. had set out a plan, marshaled the forces to carry it out, and then seen it to completion.
But this triumph came with problems. The first was that the offensive was hampered by Washington infighting that pitted the CIA against a puzzlingly recalcitrant U.S. military and a carping Donald Rumsfeld, who questioned George Tenet's leadership of the effort. This bureaucratic squabbling, focused on just who was responsible for what (and who exactly was running the Afghanistan war), would remain a hallmark of American efforts well into the Obama administration. The second problem was that Afghanistan's southern Pashtun tribes were only marginally included in the effort, and they remained suspicious of their northern non-Pashtun counterparts. The mistrust, CIA officers believed, would almost certainly plant the seeds of an endless inter-tribal Afghan conflict, embroiling the United States in an effort to prop up an unpopular Kabul government. The third problem was Pakistan -- or, more precisely, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the ISI, and the ISI's "Directorate S," responsible for covertly supplying, training, and arming Pakistan's Islamist allies, including the Pashtun-dominated Taliban.
The intractability of these variables, and America's 17-year effort (sometimes focused but often feckless) to resolve them, form the basis of Steve Coll's Directorate S , a thick but eminently readable account of America's Afghanistan misadventure. While Directorate S stands alone as a comprehensive exposition of the Afghanistan conflict dating from 9/11, it's actually a follow-on of Ghost Wars , Coll's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2004 narrative of America's efforts to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan following their invasion in December 1979. Given the breadth of Coll's dual treatments and the depth of his research, it's likely that these books will remain the standard exposition of the period for years to come.
While the focus of Directorate S is on Pakistan and its shady intelligence services, each of the obstacles that confronted the United States in Afghanistan from the moment the Taliban abandoned Kabul is embraced in detail. These obstacles included America's post-9/11 attention deficit disorder (the pivot away from al Qaeda to Iraq was being considered in Washington even as the Northern Alliance cleared the Afghan capital) and the deeply embedded antipathy toward the new Kabul government among Pakistani-supported southern tribesman. Thus, after the United States ousted al Qaeda and its Taliban supporters, it embarked on a program to strengthen the new Kabul government, anointing Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan's president and pledging billions in reconstruction aid. And so, or so it seemed, everything had gone as planned. The Taliban was routed; al Qaeda was on the run; a new anti-terrorism government was in place in Kabul; and the United States had signed Pakistan on as a willing accomplice. On May 1, 2003, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declared an end to major combat operations in Afghanistan. The war was over. Won.
But of course it wasn't.
Coll's account provides a disturbing catalogue of the U.S. mistakes in the wake of the Taliban defeat. Almost all of them are well known: Hamid Karzai, the consensus choice of a grand assembly (a loya jirga) as Afghanistan's interim president, proved to be a weak leader. The monies appropriated for Afghanistan's postwar reconstruction were woefully inadequate for the task -- "laughable," as one U.S. official put it. American soldiers responsible for countering the Taliban's return (and hunting al Qaeda terrorist cells) were thinly and poorly deployed (and, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, of secondary importance in the Pentagon). Tentative Taliban efforts to engage the United States in political talks were summarily and unwisely spurned. Allegations of prisoner abuse at U.S. detention facilities consistently undermined U.S. legitimacy. American funds were funneled into Afghan ministries laced with corrupt officials. Afghani poppy production increased, despite faint-hearted U.S. eradication efforts. And U.S. counter-terrorism actions proved ham-handed and caused preventable civilian casualties, pushing Afghanis into a resurgent anti-Kabul resistance.
More crucially, Pakistan's unstinting support for America's Afghanistan efforts proved to be anything but unstinting. The reason for this was not only entirely predictable but was actually the unintended result of the American victory. When the Northern Alliance and U.S. airpower pushed what remained of the Taliban (along with the remnants of al Qaeda) out of Afghanistan, they pushed them into Pakistan, creating conditions that, as Coll tells us, "deepened resentment among Pakistan's generals, who would come to see their country's rising violence as a price of American folly . . ." Put simply, for the United States to seal the Operation Enduring Freedom victory, it had to ensure that its effects did not spill over into the one nation that could ensure that its victory would, in fact, be enduring. That didn't happen. The result was that the Taliban was able to rebuild and rearm its networks not only in Pakistan, and under the eyes of the ISI, but also in Afghanistan.
It might have been otherwise. During a series of discussions I had about America's intervention in Afghanistan in the months immediately following 9/11, a number of currently serving and former senior U.S. officials told me they believed that, given enough time, the Taliban might well have handed bin Laden over to the Americans, obviating the need for a full-on invasion. One of these officials was Milton Bearden, a famed CIA officer (his close friends refer to him as "Uncle Milty") who, during his time as a station chief in Pakistan, had helped to head up the CIA's war against the Soviets in the mid 1980s.
After 9/11, Bearden recharged his Pakistan and Afghanistan networks in an effort to convince the Taliban that turning bin Laden over to the Americans was a better option than the one they were facing. All the while, Bearden kept senior U.S. officials apprised of what he was doing, even as he was attempting to head off their rush to war. Bearden told me that, while his efforts had not reached fruition by the time the Bush White House had decided on a course of action, he believes the United States had not fully explored all of its options -- or thought through the long-term impact of its intervention. "I don't know what would have happened, I don't know," he says wistfully, "but I think we have a handhold in history. We should have seen what was coming." He notes that Alexander the Great "took one look at Afghanistan's mountains and decided against it. He thought his whole army could get swallowed up in there, and he wasn't going to take that chance. So, well, you tell me if I'm wrong, but Alexander was no slouch, right?"
Not everyone agrees with this, of course. The dissenters include Robert Grenier, the first drafter of what became the American war plan. Taliban leader Mullah Omar, he told me, was committed to his pledge to protect Osama bin Laden; he viewed it as a blood oath that could not be broken. Moreover, argues Grenier, "Omar viewed himself as a kind of world historical figure, a person on whom the axis of history would turn." One result was that he believed his fight against the Americans would be epochal.
That said, Grenier believes America's foray into Afghanistan, and the mistakes that followed, might at least have been dampened by a more diligent focus on the inherent divisions of Afghan society. "We [at the CIA]," he told me several months ago, "were very aware that the march of the Northern Alliance into Kabul would likely create real difficulties in the south. And we tried to slow it, precisely for this reason. But events overtook us, and it just wasn't possible. So, yes, things might have been otherwise, but in truth we just don't know."
The value in Coll's Directorate S comes not from the elegant telling of a story not fully known, but from the dawning realization that Afghanistan is the kind of lock for which there is no key. There is no reason to believe that a different outcome would have ensued if other events had intruded -- for example, more personnel, money, focused diplomacy, or robust and disciplined enemy-defeating and nation building; or that our war there and the occupation that followed would have yielded the same results that we realized in, say, Japan after 1945. The real hubris here is not that we tried and failed but that we thought we could actually succeed. Afghanistan is simply not that kind of place.
There is a term of art for this in the military, which found its first usage in Iraq in 2009, when U.S. commanders adopted it as an appreciation of what could and could not be accomplished. Instead of focusing on defeating corruption, inefficiency, disunity, and poor leadership, the focus shifted almost exclusively to dampening violence, to keeping the doors to Iraq open even as its factions battled for its control. More importantly, the adoption of the phrase marked the abandonment of high expectations and an embrace of realism. The United States would have to yield the business of replicating a Western-style democracy on the banks of the Euphrates. That goal, if it was going to be accomplished at all, would have to be realized by the Iraqis.
Analyst Anthony Cordesman, one of America's premier military thinkers, adopted the phrase and applied to Afghanistan in 2012 in an essay he entitled, "Time to Focus on 'Afghan Good Enough.'" His plan was simply stated but had all the elegance of actually working: keep the Taliban out of Kabul and the major cities, preserve the central and provincial government even in the face of endemic corruption, and work to provide security to large numbers of Afghanis. Cordesman conceded that this was not the kind of victory that Americans had hoped for on September 12. And it was difficult to describe the outcome as even vaguely passable -- or "good." But it was far better than adopting goals that could not be realized or embracing an illusion that disappeared even as it was grasped. For the time being at least, it would have to be "good enough."
Mark Perry is a foreign policy analyst, a contributing editor to The American Conservative and the author of The Pentagon's Wars .
Apr 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Robert Jervis and Mira Rapp-Hooper warn about the dangers that come from misperception on both sides of the standoff with North Korea:
If any U.S. strategy toward North Korea is to have a chance of succeeding (or even of just averting catastrophe), it must be guided by an accurate sense of how Kim's regime thinks, what it values, and how it judges its options. Washington must understand not just North Korean objectives but also how North Korean officials understand U.S. objectives and whether they consider U.S. statements credible.
Unfortunately, the U.S. is remarkably bad at understanding these things accurately. This is not just a Trump administration failing. Most American politicians and policymakers routinely misjudge the intentions and goals of our adversaries, and they often invent a fantasy version of the regime in question that leads them astray again and again. One reason for this is that it is simply easier to project our assumptions about what a regime must want than it is to make the effort to see things as they do. Another reason is that many of our politicians and policymakers mistakenly think that if they try to understand an adversary's views that must somehow mean that they sympathize with the adversary or condone its behavior. Instead of trying to know their enemy, our leaders would prefer not to for fear of being "tainted" by the experience. This lack of knowledge is compounded in some cases by the absence of normal diplomatic relations with the adversary. Our leaders are encouraged to take this self-defeating approach to international problems by a political culture that rewards the people that strike tough-sounding-but-ignorant poses about a problem and marginalizes those that seek to understand it as fully as possible.
The first step in correcting these failings is to accept that some of these regimes regard the U.S. as an "existential threat" and therefore view all U.S. actions with at least much suspicion and fear as our government views theirs. The next step would be to recognize that the main goal of any regime is its own preservation. We should be very wary of any explanation of their actions that claims that an adversary is irrationally suicidal. Another step would be to acknowledge that regime behavior that we regard as purely aggressive is very often the result of the adversary's belief that it needs to deter our aggression against them. Our politicians often talk about North Korea threatening the entire world with its nuclear weapons, but this misses that in their relative isolation and paranoia the North Korean regime sees the rest of the world, and especially the U.S., as a threat that needs to be defended against. Recognizing these things doesn't make their acquisition of nuclear weapons desirable and it doesn't mean that we approve of it, but it does make it understandable.
Our government's frequent inability to understand how an adversary thinks and what an adversary wants is usually bound up with our government's overestimation of its own power and a denial of the other state's agency. If many of our policymakers invent a fantasy version of the regime to serve as a foil, they come up with unrealistic demands that they think the U.S. can force the adversary to accept. Because we fail to understand what the adversary is trying to do, we make demands that we ought to know will never be accepted. Because our government fails to take the other side's agency into account, our policies are often crafted solely to punish and compel and rarely to give them an incentive to cooperate or compromise. We then claim to be surprised when this approach yields only intransigence and more of the behavior that we want the other state to stop.
Fran Macadam April 5, 2018 at 11:40 amAs long as official policy is Full Spectrum Dominance, nothing can change.Kent , says: April 5, 2018 at 11:47 amI really believe it would be absurd to think our highest government officials are that ignorant.Will Harrington , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:07 pmKentgrumpy realist , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:20 pm
Why do you think it would be absurd to think our highest government officials are that ignorant? Did our Presidents, who never have to prove merit, only popularity, ever appoint people based on reliably tested knowledge of their field? No. They tend to appoint their cabinet based on political calculation. Sometimes political calculation will raise up knowledgeable people, more often not.Welp, this is certainly a different kettle of fish from WWII, where the US government hired ethnologists like Ruth Benedict to analyze Japanese culture and thought patterns (resulting in her book "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.")Tyro , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:47 pm
We HAVE turned into a country of lazy bastards.I really believe it would be absurd to think our highest government officials are that ignorantDee , says: April 5, 2018 at 2:54 pm
Our highest officials are by design more ignorant than the rank and file. During the Iraq war aftermath, Arabic speakers were actively rejected from jobs within the Coalition Provisional Authority, because it was assumed their knowledge of the region would prejudice them against the W adninistration's vision for the Middle East, and they didn't want nay sayers telling them what they didn't want to hear.
This mindset is persistent, especially in republican administrations, and mirrors the Soviet Union -- people are selected on the basis of their willingness to toe the ideological line rather than their expertise.They are not ignorant, the politicians support these policies because their donors benefit.. They have sold out to greed over country.. I assume that some do it for the easy wealth that can be had, some of the wealthy ones for fame and never losing elections, but they have their reasons, our country is not high on that list.KXB , says: April 5, 2018 at 3:39 pmThe one exception to this would be Obama's approach to Iran. He had no illusions about the mullahs and IRGC, but he knew that it was simply impossible to perpetually diplomatically isolate and militarily surround a nation of 80 million in its own region. The nuke deal was a tradeoff – Iran gives up its nukes in exchange for being reintegrated with the world. Of course, this is the last thing that Israel or Saudi Arabia want.Fran Macadam , says: April 5, 2018 at 4:09 pm"The nuke deal was a tradeoff – Iran gives up its nukes in exchange for being reintegrated with the world."Fran Macadam , says: April 5, 2018 at 4:11 pm
It must have been a bad deal, since the benefits to the other side never actually happened.
It was de facto over from the moment it was signed."The nuke deal was a tradeoff – Iran gives up its nukes in exchange for being reintegrated with the world."Cynthia McLean , says: April 5, 2018 at 6:14 pm
Which nukes were those? Unlike North Korea, they didn't actually have any.
They didn't give anything up, and we didn't remove the sanctions. Sounds about equitable, nothing for nothing.Knowledge of History and Language would help enormously, but the US is so arrogant it expects other countries to merely accept US assertions and to speak in English, on the basis of its supposed Exceptionalism.
Apr 05, 2018 | independent.co.uk
Vermont Senator says business model of Democratic Party has been a failure for 15 years
Bernie Sanders has triggered a backlash by making comments interpreted as an attack on [Wall Street/CIA troll] Barack Obama on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King. The senator for Vermont appeared to criticise the first black US President as he branded the Democratic Party a "failure".
Speaking in Jackson, Mississippi, he said Democrats had lost a record number of legislative seats. "The business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure,'' said the Vermont Senator...Mr Sanders's comments were quickly branded "patronising" and "deplorable".
Apr 02, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The Never Trump cabal can now claim total victory. Unsuccessful at preventing Trump from winning the nomination or the general election, they have instead co-opted his presidency for their own policies and programs.
With the nomination of John Bolton, Never Trump interventionists have installed one of the unrepentant architects of the catastrophic Iraq War to head the National Security Council.
In recent months, ignoring and rejecting his own party's convention platform, Trump has agreed to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. Besides accelerating the deaths of Ukrainians and ethnic Russians while laying waste to the civilian population of the Donbas, what advantage to the people of the United States does this military escalation provide?
Last summer, in one of the strangest speeches in American history, President Trump announced he would surge troop levels in Afghanistan -- and then in the same breath admitted it was a mistake and something he didn't really want to do. That should show the conflict here: Trump's instincts versus the establishment sorts around him.
Never Trumpers are not so secretly celebrating. They got the president they thought they didn't want. And now, pretending they still don't want him, they can hardly believe their good fortune.
Achieving their foreign policy goals is just the icing on the cake. They also got the president to implement the entire Wall Street agenda: lowering taxes on the super rich; advancing huge subsidies to the medical insurance industry; keeping the Export-Import Bank funded; re-authorizing the ivory trade; shrinking the size of national monuments so that multi-national corporations can turn our wilderness areas into strip mines and clear-cut wastelands.
Then, just this week, in a reckless act of generational theft, Trump endorsed the second biggest budget in U.S. history, caving in to every demand and desire of the UniParty and the K Street lobbyists whom they serve.
In the 18th century, the cry went "Millions for defense, but not one penny for tribute!" Trump's cry is "Billions for defense, but not one penny for a wall!"
Trump justifies his signature on the omnibus bill by claiming it was necessary for national security. But that claim rings hollow when comparatively little is allocated for the protection of America's own borders and the defense of its homeland. Americans intuitively know that the real danger to their safety is not along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border; it's along the U.S.-Mexico border. But Trump's own laudable instincts have been neutered by the globalist, interventionist generals and policy wonks who now populate powerful positions at the White House and the departments of State and Defense.
Many reading this might now protest: what's wrong with passing the omnibus? Isn't it providing the funds necessary for making America great again? But Donald Trump did not run for office on a platform of bloating spending; he ran on opposition to massive debt increases and specifically to many of the programs they pay for. The budget can be summed up in a paraphrase of a Broadway musical hit tune: whatever crony wants, crony gets.
Has there been a fiercer critic of the Iraq war than Donald Trump? Yet he promotes to the head of the NSC perhaps that conflict's most vociferous apologist. Trump promised he would end the wars of choice, that he would refrain from taking sides in other nation's internal conflicts. He called for a reasonable rapprochement with Russia with the goal of making America and Americans safer. He specifically said he would wind down the military commitment in Afghanistan as quickly and safely as possible.
His only bellicose pledge concerned ISIS, which he promised to destroy. As we have seen, that was one of the few promises he kept. In most other policy areas he has reversed his campaign pledges. His foreign policy is no longer America First; it's evolved into the same, old, dangerous, meddling, interventionist program of the last quarter century. Trump has deepened U.S. involvement in Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, and Afghanistan without clearly defining the missions, the goals, and the risks. If voters had wanted this, they would have elected Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump.
Yet of all the betrayals, the war on nature is the most grievous and shocking. As someone who supported Trump from day one in June 2015, who has seen virtually every one of his speeches, interviews, and tweets, I cannot recall a single word about the national parks or monuments.
Had Trump forecast during the campaign how he would govern on environmental issues, would he have been elected? Could those narrow margins of victory in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa have gone the other way? With his appointment of Ryan Zinke to the Department of the Interior, Trump needlessly and recklessly alienated tens of thousands of voters who might otherwise have supported him and who may indeed have voted for him in 2016. Although its hard to discern exactly why the president's poll numbers are as low as they are, it would be a mistake to discount the animus engendered by the unexpected assault on wilderness, open space, endangered species, and America's magnificent national monuments.
The only national monument that Trump has failed to shrink is the Beltway swamp. In fact, judging from the continuing spread of McMansions in Potomac, Maryland and Falls Church, Virginia, he has effectively widened its borders. It's as if the chants from all those packed stadiums during that long ago presidential campaign were "Fill that swamp! Fill that swamp!"
It is now abundantly clear why the Never Trumpers are tittering over their cocktails. Trump has staffed most departments of his government with establishment cronies and neoconservative zealots. He now presides over the implementation of their agenda. In effect, we're getting a variation on what could be called the third Bush presidency -- minus the decorum.
Trump's is also the all-talk presidency: talk tough on illegal immigration, but fail to build the wall; talk tough on sanctuary cities, but fail to cut federal subsidies; talk tough on illegal immigration, then push for the biggest amnesty since 1986; talk tough against the Export-Import Bank, then fund it; talk tough on Obamacare, then fund big insurance to keep the subsidies flowing; talk tough on reducing taxes, then screw millions of homeowners across America by actually raising their taxes; talk tough on trade, then tiptoe around Mexico and Canada on everything that really matters; talk tough on the deficit, then sign the second biggest boondoggle spending bill in U.S. history.
Still, it cannot be denied: President Trump has accomplished much -- for the establishment and their K Street lobbyists. They write the bills, Paul Ryan guides them through the House amendment-free, and Trump signs them in to law.
For those who packed those campaign rallies, who wore those red "Make America Great Again" caps, and for the rest of us mere plebs, Donald Trump's presidency is best summed up by The Bard: "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Ron Maxwell wrote and directed the Civil War motion-pictures Gettysburg , Gods & Generals , and Copperhead .
Mar 30, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
"She Doesn't Have Any Policy Positions"
On the Friday after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series and prior to the Tuesday on which the vicious racist and sexist Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Bernie Sanders spoke to a surprisingly small crowd in Iowa City on behalf of Hillary Clinton. As I learned months later, Sanders told one of his Iowa City friends that day that Mrs. Clinton was in trouble. The reason, Sanders reported, was that Hillary wasn't discussing issues or advancing real solutions. "She doesn't have any policy positions," Sanders said.
The first time I heard this, I found it hard to believe. How, I wondered, could anyone run seriously for the presidency without putting issues and policy front and center? Wouldn't any serious campaign want a strong set of issue and policy positions to attract voters and fall back on in case and times of adversity?
Sanders wasn't lying. As the esteemed political scientist and money-politics expert Thomas Ferguson and his colleagues Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen note in an important study released by the Institute for New Economic Thinking two months ago, the Clinton campaign "emphasized candidate and personal issues and avoided policy discussions to a degree without precedent in any previous election for which measurements exist .it stressed candidate qualifications [and] deliberately deemphasized issues in favor of concentrating on what the campaign regarded as [Donald] Trump's obvious personal weaknesses as a candidate."
Strange as it might have seemed, the reality television star and presidential pre-apprentice Donald Trump had a lot more to say about policy than the former First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a wonkish Yale Law graduate.
"Courting the Undecideds in Business, not in the Electorate"
What was that about? My first suspicion was that Hillary's policy silence was about the money. It must have reflected her success in building a Wall Street-filled campaign funding war-chest so daunting that she saw little reason to raise capitalist election investor concerns by giving voice to the standard fake-progressive "hope" and "change" campaign and policy rhetoric Democratic presidential contenders typically deploy against their One Percent Republican opponents. Running against what she (wrongly) perceived (along with most election prognosticators) as a doomed and feckless opponent and as the clear preferred candidate of Wall Street and the intimately related U.S foreign policy elite , including many leading Neoconservatives put off by Trump's isolationist and anti-interventionist rhetoric, the "lying neoliberal warmonger" Hillary Clinton arrogantly figured that she could garner enough votes to win without having to ruffle any ruling-class feathers. She would cruise into the White House with no hurt plutocrat feelings simply by playing up the ill-prepared awfulness of her Republican opponent.
If Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Chen (hereafter "JFC") are right, I was on to something but not the whole money and politics story. Smart Wall Street and K Street Democratic Party bankrollers have long understood that Democratic candidates have to cloak their dollar-drenched corporatism in the deceptive campaign discourse of progressive- and even populist-sounding policy promise to win elections. Sophisticated funders get it that the Democratic candidates' need to manipulate the electorate with phony pledges of democratic transformation. The big money backers know it's "just politics" on the part of candidates who can be trusted to serve elite interests (like Bill Clinton 1993-2001 and Barack Obama 2009-2017 ) after they gain office.
What stopped Hillary from playing the usual game – the "manipulation of populism by elitism" that Christopher Hitchens once called "the essence of American politics" – in 2016, a year when the electorate was in a particularly angry and populist mood? FJC's study is titled " Industrial Structure and Party Competition in an Age of Hunger Games : Donald Trump and the 2016 Presidential Election." It performs heroic empirical work with difficult campaign finance data to show that Hillary's campaign funding success went beyond her party's usual corporate and financial backers to include normally Republican-affiliated capitalist sectors less disposed than their more liberal counterparts to abide the standard progressive-sounding policy rhetoric of Democratic Party candidates. FJC hypothesize that (along with the determination that Trump was too weak to be taken all that seriously) Hillary's desire get and keep on board normally Republican election investors led her to keep quiet on issues and policy concerns that mattered to everyday people. As FJC note:
"Trump trailed well behind Clinton in contributions from defense and aerospace – a lack of support extraordinary for a Republican presidential hopeful late in the race. For Clinton's campaign the temptation was irresistible: Over time it slipped into a variant of the strategy [Democrat] Lyndon Johnson pursued in 1964 in the face of another [Republican] candidate [Barry Goldwater] who seemed too far out of the mainstream to win: Go for a grand coalition with most of big business . one fateful consequence of trying to appeal to so many conservative business interests was strategic silence about most important matters of public policy. Given the candidate's steady lead in the polls, there seemed to be no point to rocking the boat with any more policy pronouncements than necessary . Misgivings of major contributors who worried that the Clinton campaign message lacked real attractions for ordinary Americans were rebuffed. The campaign sought to capitalize on the angst within business by vigorously courting the doubtful and undecideds there, not in the electorate " (emphasis added). Hillary Happened
FJC may well be right that a wish not to antagonize off right-wing campaign funders is what led Hillary to muzzle herself on important policy matters, but who really knows? An alternative theory I would not rule out is that Mrs. Clinton's own deep inner conservatism was sufficient to spark her to gladly dispense with the usual progressive-sounding campaign boilerplate. Since FJC bring up the Johnson-Goldwater election, it is perhaps worth mentioning that 18-year old Hillary was a "Goldwater Girl" who worked for the arch-reactionary Republican presidential candidate in 1964. Asked about that episode on National Public Radio (NPR) in 1996 , then First Lady Hillary said "That's right. And I feel like my political beliefs are rooted in the conservatism that I was raised with. I don't recognize this new brand of Republicanism that is afoot now, which I consider to be very reactionary, not conservative in many respects. I am very proud that I was a Goldwater girl."
It was a revealing reflection. The right-wing Democrat Hillary acknowledged that her ideological world view was still rooted in the conservatism of her family of origin. Her problem with the reactionary Republicanism afoot in the U.S. during the middle 1990s was that it was "not conservative in many respects." Her problem with the far-right Republican Congressional leaders Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay was that they were betraying true conservatism – "the conservatism [Hillary] was raised with." This was worse even than the language of the Democratic Leadership Conference (DLC) – the right-wing Eisenhower Republican (at leftmost) tendency that worked to push the Democratic Party further to the Big Business-friendly right and away from its working-class and progressive base.
Of course, Bill and Hillary helped trail-blaze that plutocratic "New Democrat" turn in Arkansas during the late 1970s and 1980s. The rest, as they say, was history – an ugly corporate-neoliberal, imperial, and racist history that I and others have written about at great length. (I cannot reprise here the voluminous details of Mrs. Clinton's longstanding alignment with the corporate, financial, and imperial agendas of the rich and powerful. Two short and highly readable volumes are Doug Henwood, My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency [OR Books, 2015]; Diana Johnstone, Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton [CounterPunch Books, 2015]. On the stealth, virulent racism of the Clintons in power, see Elaine Brown's classic volume The Condemnation of Little B: New Age Racism in America .)
What happened? Horrid corporate Hillary happened. And she's still happening. The "lying neoliberal warmonger" recently went to India to double down on her "progressive neoliberal" contempt for the "basket of deplorables" (more on that phrase below) that considers poor stupid and backwards middle America to be by saying this : "If you look at the map of the United States, there's all that red in the middle where Trump won. I win the coasts. But what the map doesn't show you is that I won the places that represent two-thirds of America's gross domestic product (GDP). So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward" (emphasis added).
That was Hillary Goldman Sachs-Council on Foreign Relations-Clinton saying "go to Hell" to working- and middle-class people in Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, and West Virginia. It was a raised middle and oligarchic finger from a super-wealthy arch-global-corporatist to all the supposedly pessimistic, slow-witted, and retrograde losers stuck between those glorious enclaves (led by Wall Street, Yale, and Harvard on the East coast and Silicon Valley and Hollywood on the West coast) of human progress and variety (and GDP!) on the imperial shorelines. Senate Minority Leader Dick Durbin had to go on television to say that Hillary was "wrong" to write off most of the nation as a festering cesspool of pathetic, ass-backwards, lottery-playing, and opioid-addicted white-trash has-beens. It's hard for the Inauthentic Opposition Party (as the late Sheldon Wolin reasonably called the Democrats ) to pose as an authentic opposition party when its' last big-money presidential candidate goes off-fake-progressive script with an openly elitist rant like that.
Whatever the source of her strange policy silence in the 2016 campaign, that hush was "a miscalculation of historic proportion" (FJC). It was a critical mistake given what Ferguson and his colleagues call the "Hunger Games" misery and insecurity imposed on tens of millions of ordinary working- and middle-class middle-Americans by decades of neoliberal capitalist austerity , deeply exacerbated by the Wall Street-instigated Great Recession and the weak Obama recovery. The electorate was in a populist, anti-establishment mood – hardly a state of mind favorable to a wooden, richly globalist, Goldman-gilded candidate, a long-time Washington-Wall Street establishment ("swamp") creature like Hillary Clinton.
In the end, FJC note, the billionaire Trump's ironic, fake-populist "outreach to blue collar workers" would help him win "more than half of all voters with a high school education or less (including 61% of white women with no college), almost two thirds of those who believed life for the next generation of Americans would be worse than now, and seventy-seven percent of voters who reported their personal financial situation had worsened since four years ago."
Trump's popularity with "heartland" rural and working-class whites even provoked Hillary into a major campaign mistake: getting caught on video telling elite Manhattan election investors that half of Trump's supporters were a "basket of deplorables." There was a hauntingly strong parallel between Wall Street Hillary's "deplorables" blooper and the super-rich Republican candidate Mitt Romney's infamous 2012 gaffe : telling his own affluent backers saying that 47% of the population were a bunch of lazy welfare cheats. This time, though, it was the Democrat – with a campaign finance profile closer to Romney's than Obama's in 2012 – and not the Republican making the ugly plutocratic and establishment faux pas .
"A Frontal Assault on the American Establishment"
Still, Trump's success was no less tied to big money than was Hillary's failure. Candidate Trump ran strangely outside the longstanding neoliberal Washington Consensus, as an economic nationalist and isolationist. His raucous rallies were laced with dripping denunciations of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, and globalization, mockery of George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, rejection of the New Cold War with Russia, and pledges of allegiance to the "forgotten" American "working-class." He was no normal Republican One Percent candidate. As FJC explain:
"In 2016 the Republicans nominated yet another super-rich candidate – indeed, someone on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans. Like legions of conservative Republicans before him, he trash-talked Hispanics, immigrants, and women virtually non-stop, though with a verve uniquely his own. He laced his campaign with barely coded racial appeals and in the final days, ran an ad widely denounced as subtly anti-Semitic. But in striking contrast to every other Republican presidential nominee since 1936, he attacked globalization, free trade, international financiers, Wall Street, and even Goldman Sachs. ' Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache . When subsidized foreign steel is dumped into our markets, threatening our factories, the politicians do nothing. For years, they watched on the sidelines as our jobs vanished and our communities were plunged into depression-level unemployment.'"
"In a frontal assault on the American establishment, the Republican standard bearer proclaimed 'America First.' Mocking the Bush administration's appeal to 'weapons of mass destruction' as a pretext for invading Iraq, he broke dramatically with two generations of GOP orthodoxy and spoke out in favor of more cooperation with Russia . He even criticized the 'carried interest' tax break beloved by high finance" (emphasis added).
Big Dark Money and Trump: His Own and Others'
This cost Trump much of the corporate and Wall Street financial support that Republican presidential candidates usually get. The thing was, however, that much of Trump's "populist" rhetoric was popular with a big part of the Republican electorate, thanks to the "Hunger Games" insecurity of the transparently bipartisan New Gilded Age. And Trump's personal fortune permitted him to tap that popular anger while leaping insultingly over the heads of his less wealthy if corporate and Wall Street-backed competitors ("low energy" Jeb Bush and "little Marco" Rubio most notably) in the crowded Republican primary race.
A Republican candidate dependent on the usual elite bankrollers would never have been able to get away with Trump's crowd-pleasing (and CNN and FOX News rating-boosting) antics. Thanks to his own wealth, the faux-populist anti-establishment Trump was ironically inoculated against pre-emption in the Republican primaries by the American campaign finance "wealth primary," which renders electorally unviable candidates who lack vast financial resources or access to them.
Things were different after Trump won the Republican nomination, however. He could no longer go it alone after the primaries. During the Republican National Convention and "then again in the late summer of 2016," FJC show, Trump's "solo campaign had to be rescued by major industries plainly hoping for tariff relief, waves of other billionaires from the far, far right of the already far right Republican Party, and the most disruption-exalting corners of Wall Street." By FJC's account:
"What happened in the final weeks of the campaign was extraordinary. Firstly, a giant wave of dark money poured into Trump's own campaign – one that towered over anything in 2016 or even Mitt Romney's munificently financed 2012 effort – to say nothing of any Russian Facebook experiments [Then] another gigantic wave of money flowed in from alarmed business interests, including the Kochs and their allies Officially the money was for Senate races, but late-stage campaigning for down-ballot offices often spills over on to candidates for the party at large."
"The run up to the Convention brought in substantial new money, including, for the first time, significant contributions from big business. Mining, especially coal mining; Big Pharma (which was certainly worried by tough talk from the Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, about regulating drug prices); tobacco, chemical companies, and oil (including substantial sums from executives at Chevron, Exxon, and many medium sized firms); and telecommunications (notably AT&T, which had a major merge merger pending) all weighed in. Money from executives at the big banks also began streaming in, including Bank of America, J. P. Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo. Parts of Silicon Valley also started coming in from the cold."
"In a harbinger of things to come, additional money came from firms and industries that appear to have been attracted by Trump's talk of tariffs, including steel and companies making machinery of various types [a] vast wave of new money flowed into the campaign from some of America's biggest businesses and most famous investors. Sheldon Adelson and many others in the casino industry delivered in grand style for its old colleague. Adelson now delivered more than $11 million in his own name, while his wife and other employees of his Las Vegas Sands casino gave another $20 million.
Peter Theil contributed more than a million dollars, while large sums also rolled in from other parts of Silicon Valley, including almost two million dollars from executives at Microsoft and just over two million from executives at Cisco Systems. A wave of new money swept in from large private equity firms, the part of Wall Street which had long championed hostile takeovers as a way of disciplining what they mocked as bloated and inefficient 'big business.' Virtual pariahs to main-line firms in the Business Roundtable and the rest of Wall Street, some of these figures had actually gotten their start working with Drexel Burnham Lambert and that firm's dominant partner, Michael Milkin.
Among those were Nelson Peltz and Carl Icahn (who had both contributed to Trump before, but now made much bigger new contributions). In the end, along with oil, chemicals, mining and a handful of other industries, large private equity firms would become one of the few segments of American business – and the only part of Wall Street – where support for Trump was truly heavy the sudden influx of money from private equity and hedge funds clearly began with the Convention but turned into a torrent "
The critical late wave came after Trump moved to rescue his flagging campaign by handing its direction over to the clever, class-attuned, far-right white- and economic- nationalist "populist" and Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, who advocated what proved to be a winning, Koch brothers-approved "populist" strategy: appeal to economically and culturally frustrated working- and middle-class whites in key battleground states, where the bloodless neoliberal and professional class centrism and snooty metropolitan multiculturalism of the Obama presidency and Clinton campaign was certain to depress the Democratic "base" vote . Along with the racist voter suppression carried out by Republican state governments (JFC rightly chide Russia-obsessed political reporters and commentators for absurdly ignoring this important factor) and (JFC intriguingly suggest) major anti-union offensives conducted by employers in some battleground states, this major late-season influx of big right-wing political money tilted the election Trump's way.
The Myth of Potent Russian Cyber-Subversion
As FJC show, there is little empirical evidence to support the Clinton and corporate Democrats' self-interested and diversionary efforts to explain Mrs. Clinton's epic fail and Trump's jaw-dropping upset victory as the result of (i) Russian interference, (ii), then FBI Director James Comey's October Surprise revelation that his agency was not done investigating Hillary's emails, and/or (iii) some imagined big wave of white working-class racism, nativism, and sexism brought to the surface by the noxious Orange Hulk. The impacts of both (i) and (ii) were infinitesimal in comparison to the role that big campaign money played both in silencing Hillary and funding Trump.
The blame-the-deplorable-racist-white-working-class narrative is belied by basic underlying continuities in white working class voting patterns. As FJC note: " Neither turnout nor the partisan division of the vote at any level looks all that different from other recent elections 2016's alterations in voting behavior are so minute that the pattern is only barely differentiated from 2012." It was about the money – the big establishment money that the Clinton campaign took (as FJC at least plausibly argue) to recommend policy silence and the different, right-wing big money that approved Trump's comparative right-populist policy boisterousness.
An interesting part of FJC's study (no quick or easy read) takes a close look at the pro-Trump and anti-Hillary Internet activism that the Democrats and their many corporate media allies are so insistently eager to blame on Russia and for Hillary's defeat. FJC find that Russian Internet interventions were of tiny significance compared to those of homegrown U.S. corporate and right-wing cyber forces:
"The real masters of these black arts are American or Anglo-American firms. These compete directly with Silicon Valley and leading advertising firms for programmers and personnel. They rely almost entirely on data purchased from Google, Facebook, or other suppliers, not Russia . American regulators do next to nothing to protect the privacy of voters and citizens, and, as we have shown in several studies, leading telecom firms are major political actors and giant political contributors. As a result, data on the habits and preferences of individual internet users are commercially available in astounding detail and quantities for relatively modest prices – even details of individual credit card purchases. The American giants for sure harbor abundant data on the constellation of bots, I.P. addresses, and messages that streamed to the electorate "
" stories hyping 'the sophistication of an influence campaign slickly crafted to mimic and infiltrate U.S. political discourse while also seeking to heighten tensions between groups already wary of one another by the Russians miss the mark.' By 2016, the Republican right had developed internet outreach and political advertising into a fine art and on a massive scale quite on its own. Large numbers of conservative websites, including many that that tolerated or actively encouraged white supremacy and contempt for immigrants, African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, or the aspirations of women had been hard at work for years stoking up 'tensions between groups already wary of one another.' Breitbart and other organizations were in fact going global, opening offices abroad and establishing contacts with like-minded groups elsewhere. Whatever the Russians were up to, they could hardly hope to add much value to the vast Made in America bombardment already underway. Nobody sows chaos like Breitbart or the Drudge Report ."
" the evidence revealed thus far does not support strong claims about the likely success of Russian efforts, though of course the public outrage at outside meddling is easy to understand. The speculative character of many accounts even in the mainstream media is obvious. Several, such as widely circulated declaration by the Department of Homeland Security that 21 state election systems had been hacked during the election, have collapsed within days of being put forward when state electoral officials strongly disputed them, though some mainstream press accounts continue to repeat them. Other tales about Macedonian troll factories churning out stories at the instigation of the Kremlin, are clearly exaggerated."
The Sanders Tease: "He Couldn't Have Done a Thing"
Perhaps the most remarkable finding in FJC's study is that Sanders came tantalizingly close to winning the Democratic presidential nomination against the corporately super-funded Clinton campaign with no support from Big Business . Running explicitly against the "Hunger Games" economy and the corporate-financial plutocracy that created it, Sanders pushed Hillary the Goldman candidate to the wall, calling out the Democrats' capture by Wall Street, forcing her to rely on a rigged party, convention, and primary system to defeat him. The small-donor "socialist" Sanders challenge represented something Ferguson and his colleagues describe as "without precedent in American politics not just since the New Deal, but across virtually the whole of American history a major presidential candidate waging a strong, highly competitive campaign whose support from big business is essentially zero ."
Sanders pulled this off, FJC might have added, by running in (imagine) accord with majority-progressive left-of-center U.S. public opinion. But for the Clintons' corrupt advance- control of the Democratic National Committee and convention delegates, Ferguson et al might further have noted, Sanders might well have been the Democratic presidential nominee, curiously enough in the arch-state-capitalist and oligarchic United States
Could Sanders have defeated the billionaire and right-wing billionaire-backed Trump in the general election? There's no way to know, of course. Sanders consistently out-performed Hillary Clinton in one-on-one match -up polls vis a vis Donald Trump during the primary season, but much of the big money (and, perhaps much of the corporate media) that backed Hillary would have gone over to Trump had the supposedly "radical" Sanders been the Democratic nominee.
Even if Sanders has been elected president, moreover, Noam Chomsky is certainly correct in his recent judgement that Sanders would have been able to achieve very little in the White House. As Chomsky told Lynn Parramore two weeks ago, in an interview conducted for the Institute for New Economic Thinking, the same think-tank that published FJC's remarkable study:
"His campaign [was] a break with over a century of American political history. No corporate support, no financial wealth, he was unknown, no media support. The media simply either ignored or denigrated him. And he came pretty close -- he probably could have won the nomination, maybe the election. But suppose he'd been elected? He couldn't have done a thing. Nobody in Congress, no governors, no legislatures, none of the big economic powers, which have an enormous effect on policy. All opposed to him. In order for him to do anything, he would have to have a substantial, functioning party apparatus, which would have to grow from the grass roots. It would have to be locally organized, it would have to operate at local levels, state levels, Congress, the bureaucracy -- you have to build the whole system from the bottom."
As Chomsky might have added, Sanders oligarchy-imposed "failures" would have been great fodder for the disparagement and smearing of "socialism" and progressive, majority-backed policy change. "See? We tried all that and it was a disaster!"
I would note further that the Sanders phenomenon's policy promise was plagued by its standard bearer's persistent loyalty to the giant and absurdly expensive U.S.-imperial Pentagon System, which each year eats up hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars required to implement the progressive, majority-supported policy agenda that Bernie F-35 Sanders ran on.
"A Very Destructive Ideology"
The Sanders challenge was equally afflicted by its candidate-centered electoralism. This diverted energy away from the real and more urgent politics of building people's movements – grassroots power to shake the society to its foundations and change policy from the bottom up (Dr. Martin Luther King's preferred strategy at the end of his life just barely short of 50 years ago, on April 4 th , 1968) – and into the narrow, rigidly time-staggered grooves of a party and spectacle-elections crafted by and for the wealthy Few and the American Oligarchy 's "permanent political class" (historian Ron Formisano). As Chomsky explained on the eve of the 2004 elections:
"Americans may be encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election is a method of marginalizing the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalized quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, 'That's politics.' But it isn't. It's only a small part of politics The urgency is for popular progressive groups to grow and become strong enough so that centers of power can't ignore them. Forces for change that have come up from the grass roots and shaken the society to its core include the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the women's movement and others, cultivated by steady, dedicated work at all levels, every day, not just once every four years sensible [electoral] choices have to be made. But they are secondary to serious political action."
"The only thing that's going to ever bring about any meaningful change," Chomsky told Abby Martin on teleSur English in the fall of 2015, "is ongoing, dedicated, popular movements that don't pay attention to the election cycle." Under the American religion of voting, Chomsky told Dan Falcone and Saul Isaacson in the spring of 2016, "Citizenship means every four years you put a mark somewhere and you go home and let other guys run the world. It's a very destructive ideology basically, a way of making people passive, submissive objects [we] ought to teach kids that elections take place but that's not politics."
For all his talk of standing atop a great "movement" for "revolution," Sanders was and remains all about this stunted and crippling definition of citizenship and politics as making some marks on ballots and then returning to our domiciles while rich people and their agents (not just any "other guys") "run [ruin?-P.S.] the world [into the ground-P.S.]."
It will take much more in the way of Dr. King's politics of "who' sitting in the streets," not "who's sitting in the White House" (to use Howard Zinn's excellent dichotomy ), to get us an elections and party system worthy of passionate citizen engagement. We don't have such a system in the U.S. today, which is why the number of eligible voters who passively boycotted the 2016 presidential election is larger than both the number who voted for big money Hillary and the number who voted for big money Trump.
(If U.S. progressives really want to consider undertaking the epic lift involved in passing a U.S. Constitutional Amendment, they might want to focus on this instead of calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment. I'd recommend starting with a positive Democracy Amendment that fundamentally overhauls the nation's political and elections set-up in accord with elementary principles and practices of popular sovereignty. Clauses would include but not be limited to full public financing of elections and the introduction of proportional representation for legislative races – not to mention the abolition of the Electoral College, Senate apportionment on the basis of total state population, and the outlawing of gerrymandering.)
Ecocide Trumped by Russia
Meanwhile, back in real history, we have the remarkable continuation of a bizarre right-wing, pre-fascist presidency not in normal ruling-class hands, subject to the weird whims and tweets of a malignant narcissist who doesn't read memorandums or intelligence briefings. Wild policy zig-zags and record-setting White House personnel turnover are par for the course under the dodgy reign of the orange-tinted beast's latest brain spasms. Orange Caligula spends his mornings getting his information from FOX News and his evenings complaining to and seeking advice from a small club of right-wing American oligarchs.
Trump poses grave environmental and nuclear risks to human survival. A consistent Trump belief is that climate change is not a problem and that it's perfectly fine – "great" and "amazing," in fact – for the White House to do everything it can to escalate the Greenhouse Gassing-to-Death of Life on Earth. The nuclear threat is rising now that he has appointed a frothing right-wing uber-warmonger – a longtime advocate of bombing Iran and North Korea who led the charge for the arch-criminal U.S. invasion of Iraq – as his top "National Security" adviser and as he been convinced to expel dozens of Russian diplomats. Thanks, liberal and other Democratic Party RussiaGaters!
The Clinton-Obama neoliberal Democrats have spent more than a year running with the preposterous narrative that Trump is a Kremlin puppet who owes his presence in the White House to Russia's subversion of our democratic elections. The climate crisis holds little for the Trump and Russia-obsessed corporate media. The fact that the world stands at the eve of the ecological self-destruction, with the Trump White House in the lead, elicits barely a whisper in the reigning commercial news media. Unlike Stormy Daniels, for example, that little story – the biggest issue of our or any time – is not good for television ratings and newspaper sales.
Sanders, by the way, is curiously invisible in the dominant commercial media, despite his quiet survey status as the nation's "most popular politician." That is precisely what you would expect in a corporate and financial oligarchy buttressed by a powerful corporate, so-called "mainstream" media oligopoly.
Political Parties as "Bank Accounts"
One of the many problems with the obsessive Blame-Russia narrative that a fair portion of the dominant U.S. media is running with is that we had no great electoral democracy to subvert in 2016 . Saying that Russia has "undermined [U.S.-] American democracy" is like me – middle-aged, five-foot nine, and unblessed with jumping ability – saying that the Brooklyn Nets' Russian-born center Timofy Mozgof subverted my career as a starting player in the National Basketball Association. In state-capitalist societies marked by the toxic and interrelated combination of weak popular organization, expensive politics, and highly concentrated wealth – all highly evident in the New Gilded Age United States – electoral contests and outcomes boil down above all and in the end to big investor class cash. As Thomas Ferguson and his colleagues explain:
"Where investment and organization by average citizens is weak, however, power passes by default to major investor groups, which can far more easily bear the costs of contending for control of the state. In most modern market-dominated societies (those celebrated recently as enjoying the 'end of History'), levels of effective popular organization are generally low, while the costs of political action, in terms of both information and transactional obstacles, are high. The result is that conflicts within the business community normally dominate contests within and between political parties – the exact opposite of what many earlier social theorists expected, who imagined 'business' and 'labor' confronting each other in separate parties Only candidates and positions that can be financed can be presented to voters. As a result, in countries like the US and, increasingly, Western Europe, political parties are first of all bank accounts . With certain qualifications, one must pay to play. Understanding any given election, therefore, requires a financial X-ray of the power blocs that dominate the major parties, with both inter- and intra- industrial analysis of their constituent elements."
Here Ferguson might have said "corporate-dominated" instead of "market-dominated" for the modern managerial corporations emerged as the "visible hand" master of the "free market" more than a century ago.
We get to vote? Big deal.
People get to vote in Rwanda, Russia, the Congo and countless other autocratic states as well. Elections alone are no guarantee of democracy, as U.S. policymakers and pundits know very well when they rip on rigged elections (often fixed with the assistance of U.S. government and private-sector agents and firms) in countries they don't like, which includes any country that dares to "question the basic principle that the United States effectively owns the world by right and is by definition a force for good" ( Chomsky, 2016 ).
Majority opinion is regularly trumped by a deadly complex of forces in the U.S. The list of interrelated and mutually reinforcing culprits behind this oligarchic defeat of popular sentiment in the U.S. is extensive. It includes but is not limited to: the campaign finance, candidate-selection, lobbying, and policy agenda-setting power of wealthy individuals, corporations, and interest groups; the special primary election influence of full-time party activists; the disproportionately affluent, white, and older composition of the active (voting) electorate; the manipulation of voter turnout; the widespread dissemination of false, confusing, distracting, and misleading information; absurdly and explicitly unrepresentative political institutions like the Electoral College, the unelected Supreme Court, the over-representation of the predominantly white rural population in the U.S. Senate; one-party rule in the House of "Representatives"; the fragmentation of authority in government; and corporate ownership of the reigning media, which frames current events in accord with the wishes and world view of the nation's real owners.
Yes, we get to vote. Super. Big deal. Mammon reigns nonetheless in the United States, where, as the leading liberal political scientists Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens find , "government policy reflects the wishes of those with money, not the wishes of the millions of ordinary citizens who turn out every two years to choose among the preapproved, money-vetted candidates for federal office."
Trump is a bit of an anomaly – a sign of an elections and party system in crisis and an empire in decline. He wasn't pre-approved or vetted by the usual U.S. " deep state " corporate, financial, and imperial gatekeepers. The ruling-class had been trying to figure out what the Hell to do with him ever since he shocked even himself (though not Steve Bannon) by pre-empting the coronation of the "Queen of Chaos."
He is a homegrown capitalist oligarch nonetheless, a real estate mogul of vast and parasitic wealth who is no more likely to fulfill his populist-sounding campaign pledges than any previous POTUS of the neoliberal era.
His lethally racist, sexist, nativist, nuclear-weapons-brandishing, and (last but not at all least) eco-cidal rise to the nominal CEO position atop the U.S.-imperial oligarchy is no less a reflection of the dominant role of big U.S. capitalist money and homegrown plutocracy in U.S. politics than a more classically establishment Hillary ascendancy would have been. It's got little to do with Russia, Russia, Russia – the great diversion that fills U.S. political airwaves and newsprint as the world careens ever closer to oligarchy-imposed geocide and to a thermonuclear conflagration that the RussiaGate gambit is recklessly encouraging.
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Paul Street's latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014)
Mar 29, 2018 | original.antiwar.com
This article originally appeared at TruthDig .
He knew war well -- well enough to know he hated it.
George McGovern was a senator from South Dakota, and he was a Democrat true liberals could admire. Though remembered as a staunch liberal and foreign policy dove, McGovern was no stranger to combat. He flew 35 missions as a B-24 pilot in Italy during World War II. He even earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for executing a heroic emergency crash landing after his bomber was damaged by German anti-aircraft fire.
Still, George McGovern was a humble man who carried the burden, and honor, of his military service with grace. Though proud of his service, he was never constrained by it. When he saw a foolish war, an immoral war -- like Vietnam -- he stood ready to dissent. He was an unapologetic liberal and unwavering in his antiwar stance. These days, his kind is an endangered species on Capitol Hill and in the Democratic National Committee. McGovern died in 2012. His party, and the United States, are lesser for his absence.
Today's Democrats are mostly avid hawks, probably to the right of Richard Nixon on foreign policy. They dutifully voted for Bush's Iraq war . Then, they won back the White House and promptly expanded an unwinnable Afghan war . Soon, they again lost the presidency -- to a reality TV star -- and raised hardly a peep as Donald Trump expanded America's aimless wars into the realm of the absurd.
I've long known this, but most liberals -- deeply ensconced (or distracted) by hyper-identity politics -- hardly notice. Still, every once in a while something reminds me of how lost the Democrats truly are.
I nearly spit up my food the other day. Watching on C-SPAN as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., gleefully attended a panel at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, I couldn't help but wonder what has happened to the Democratic Party. The worst part is I like her, mostly. Look, I agree with Sen. Klobuchar on most domestic issues: health care, taxes and more. But she -- a supposed liberal -- and her mainstream Democratic colleagues are complicit in the perpetuation of America's warfare state and neo-imperial interventionism. Sen. Klobuchar and other Democrats' reflexive support for Israel is but a symptom of a larger disease in the party -- tacit militarism.
AIPAC is a lobbying clique almost as savvy and definitely as effective as the NRA. Its meetings -- well attended by mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike -- serve as little more than an opportunity for Washington pols to kiss Benjamin Netanyahu's ring and swear fealty to Israel. Most of the time, participants don't dare utter the word "Palestinian." That'd be untoward -- Palestinians are the unacknowledged elephants in the room .
The far right-wing Israeli government of Netanyahu, who is little more than a co-conspirator and enabler for America's failed project in the Middle East, should be the last group "liberals" pander to. That said, the state of Israel is a fact. Its people -- just like the Palestinians -- deserve security and liberty. Love it or hate it, Israel will continue to exist. The question is: Can Israel remain both exclusively Jewish and democratic? I'm less certain about that. For 50 years now, the Israeli military has divided, occupied and enabled the illegal settlement of sovereign Palestinian territory , keeping Arabs in limbo without citizenship or meaningful civil rights.
This is, so far as international law is concerned, a war crime. As such, unflinching American support for Israeli policy irreversibly damages the U.S. military's reputation on the "Arab street." I've seen it firsthand. In Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds and thousands of miles away from Jerusalem, captured prisoners and hospitable families alike constantly pointed to unfettered US support for Israel and the plight of Palestinians when answering that naive and ubiquitous American question: "Why do they hate us?"
Heck, even Gen. David "Generational War" Petraeus , once found himself in some hot water when -- in a rare moment of candor -- he admitted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel." Translation: US policy toward Israel (and, no doubt, the foolhardy 2003 invasion of Iraq) make American soldiers less safe.
So does the basic post-9/11 American policy of sovereignty violation and expansive military intervention whenever and wherever Washington feels like it -- so long as it's in the name of fighting (you guessed it) "terrorism." So, which "liberals" are raising hell and ringing the alarm bells for their constituents about Israeli occupation and America's strategic overreach? Sen. Klobuchar? Hardly. She, and all but four Democrats, voted for the latest bloated Pentagon budget with few questions asked. Almost as many Republicans voted against the bill. So, which is the antiwar party these days? It's hard to know.
Besides, the Dems mustered fewer than 30 votes in support of the Rand Paul amendment and his modest call to repeal and replace America's outdated, vague Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). All Sen. Paul, a libertarian Republican, wanted to do was force a vote -- in six months -- to revisit the AUMF. This wasn't radical stuff by any means. The failure of Paul's amendment, when paired with the absolute dearth of Democratic dissent on contemporary foreign policy, proves one thing conclusively: There is no longer an antiwar constituency in a major American political party. The two-party system has failed what's left of the antiwar movement.
By no means is Amy Klobuchar alone in her forever-war complicity. Long before she graced the halls of the Senate, her prominent precursors -- Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer (to name just a few) -- rubber-stamped a war of aggression in Iraq and mostly acquiesced as one president after another (including Barack Obama) gradually expanded America's post-9/11 wars. When will it end? No one knows, really, but so far, the US military has deployed advisers or commandos to 70 percent of the world's countries and is actively bombing at least seven . That's the problem with waging clandestine wars with professional soldiers while asking nothing of an apathetic public: These conflicts tend to grow and grow, until, one day -- which passed long ago -- hardly anyone realizes we're now at war with most everyone.
So where are the doves now? On the fringe, that's where. Screaming from the distant corners of the libertarian right and extreme left. No one cares, no one is listening, and they can hardly get a hearing on either MSNBC or Fox. It's the one thing both networks agree on: endless, unquestioned war. Hooray for 21st century bipartisanship.
Still, Americans deserve more from the Democrats, once (however briefly) the party of McGovern. These days, the Dems hate Trump more than they like anything. To be a principled national party, they've got to be more than just anti-Trump. They need to provide a substantive alternative and present a better foreign policy offer. How about a do-less strategy: For starters, some modesty and prudent caution would go a long way.
George McGovern -- a true patriot, a man who knew war but loved peace -- wouldn't recognize the likes of Klobuchar, Clinton, Schumer and company. He'd be rightfully embarrassed by their supplication to the national warfare state.
In 1972, McGovern's presidential campaign (as, to some extent, Bernie's did) reached out to impassioned youth in the "New Left," and formed a rainbow coalition with African-Americans and other minority groups. His Democrats were no longer the party of Cold War consensus, no longer the party of LBJ and Vietnam. No, McGovern's signature issue was peace, and opposition to that disastrous war.
His campaign distributed pins and T-shirts bearing white doves . Could you even imagine a mainstream Democrat getting within 1,000 meters of such a symbol today? Of course not.
Today's Dems are too frightened, fearful of being labeled "soft" (note the sexual innuendo) on "terror," and have thus ceded foreign policy preeminence to the unhinged, uber-hawk Republicans. We live, today, with the results of that cowardly concession.
The thing about McGovern is that he lost the 1972 election, by a landslide. And maybe that's the point. Today's Democrats would rather win than be right. Somewhere along the way, they lost their souls. Worse still, they aren't any good at winning, either.
Sure, they and everybody else "support the troops." Essentially, that means the Dems will at least fight for veterans' health care and immigration rights when vets return from battle. That's admirable enough. What they won't countenance, or even consider, is a more comprehensive, and ethical, solution: to end these aimless wars and stop making new veterans that need "saving."
Major Danny Sjursen, an Antiwar.com regular, is a U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his new podcast "Fortress on a Hill," co-hosted with fellow vet Chris 'Henri' Henrikson.
[ Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]
Copyright 2018 Danny Sjursen
Mar 30, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Sebastian Rotella reports on how many of the people that worked with Bolton remember his tendency to distort intelligence and ignore facts that contradicted his assumptions:
"Anyone who is so cavalier not just with intelligence, but with facts, and so ideologically driven, is unfit to be national security adviser," said Robert Hutchings, who dealt extensively with Bolton as head of the National Intelligence Council, a high-level agency that synthesizes analysis from across the intelligence community to produce strategic assessments for policymakers. "He's impervious to information that goes against his preconceived ideological views." [bold mine-DL]
That assessment lines up with what I understood about Bolton, and it points to one of the biggest problems with his appointment. I wrote this shortly before Trump announced that he was choosing Bolton:
The real danger is that he is such an ideologue that he would keep information from the president that contradicts his views and prevent Trump from getting the best available advice. Trump is poorly informed to begin with, and having Bolton as his main adviser on matters of national security and foreign policy would make sure that he stays that way.
Trump is especially susceptible to being manipulated by his advisers into endorsing the policies they want because he knows so little and responds so favorably to flattery, and he has shown that he is already more than willing to select a more aggressive option when he is told that it is the "presidential" thing to do. We should expect that Bolton will feed Trump bad or incomplete information, present aggressive options in the most favorable light while dismissing alternatives, and praise Trump's leadership to get him to go along with the hard-line policies Bolton wants. Bolton will run a very distorted policy process and he will be the opposite of an honest broker. That won't serve Trump well, and it will be terrible for our foreign policy.
Mar 29, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
Aseoria -> ID6902426 , 28 Mar 2018 12:48The US has been cracking down on protected First Amendment rights for years now. Just heard that someone was kicked off the post office lawn last week for protesting, so FIrday's peace vigil may be at risk again.We haven't had any problems with the police harassing us for probably 12 years, but that may be raising its head again.
The US government has a lot to answer for in terms of press freedom and its reaction to organized protest. One only need remember the clusterfuck at Standing Rock during the final months of Obama's presidency to see that this country has major problems with racism, violence, liberty, equality, fraternity. The US is by no means a "functioning democracy with proper rule of law". More like a corrupt plutocracy riding full-speed into overt fascism, where who you know and who you blow makes the most difference if you wind up in trouble with the law.
I never take First Amendment rights for granted. I am totally aware that if you don't use your rights, and often, you lose them. I have never had an account on Facebook, but sometimes I cruise other people's pages to the extent that Zuckerburg will allow without gathering my information(or maybe they can get it if you just look at a page). Always thought it was a supremely wrong idea to allow your identity to be taken away by some fat cat with a clever idea.
Mar 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Chad Zuber/Shutterstock Tyranny Comes Home: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism, Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall, Stanford University Press 2018, 280 pages
Millennials and members of Generation Z have spent much of if not their entire lives at war. As I've noted in these pages and elsewhere , the Afghan conflict is now in its 17th year, with more than 6,000 days having gone by, making it the longest war in American history. I was 12 years old when that war began in 2001; I'm now a month out from my 29th birthday. Beginning next year, the newly enlisted 18-year-olds who are deployed to Afghanistan will be younger than the war they are fighting.
The Iraq war began in 2003, saw a major troop withdrawal in 2011, and then was re-escalated by former President Obama in 2014. American forces remain there today to aid in the fight against the Islamic State, despite an agreement with the Iraqis that was supposed to begin a troop drawdown. An American-led regime change intervention turned Libya into a failed state. And we have blanketed countries such as Pakistan and Yemen with drone warfare, so much so that drones now haunt their citizens' dreams . U.S. Special Forces were on the ground conducting activities in 149 countries as of 2017.
This kind of foreign policy adventurism is hardly unique to the present day. America has been aggressively deploying its military on foreign soil since the late 19th century. As Stephen Kinzer shows in his book Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq , we got our foot in the door of the regime change business all the way back in 1893 with our acquisition of Hawaii.
Living in a post-9/11 world has shattered any inclination to view domestic life as separate from and unaffected by foreign policy, particularly since the 2013 publication of classified NSA documents leaked to the press by Edward Snowden. Snowden's revelations threw back the curtain on an omnipresent surveillance apparatus under which very few aspects of our digital lives were left unmonitored -- all in the name of national security and the global war on terror.
The Snowden leaks demonstrate how an adventurous foreign policy can have negative consequences for liberty at home. Now, political economists Christopher Coyne and Abigail Hall have documented this phenomenon in their important new book, Tyranny Comes Home: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism . In their words, "coercive foreign intervention creates opportunities to develop and refine methods and technologies of social control."
Coyne and Hall, economists at George Mason University and the University of Tampa respectively, introduce a concept for understanding this phenomenon called the "boomerang effect." It works like this: the constraints on the activities of the U.S. government in the realm of foreign policy are generally weak, which enables those involved in foreign interventions to engage in practices abroad that would meet some institutional resistance on the home front. Eventually, though, interventions end, the interveners come home, and the practices employed on foreign soil are imported for use against the domestic population.
This importation happens along three separate channels. First, there is the development of human capital -- the skills, knowledge, and other characteristics that contribute to one's productive capacity. All companies, organizations, and agencies have goals they seek to accomplish, so they hire people with the right kind of human capital to execute said goals. Foreign intervention is no different.
Among the characteristics necessary for interveners include extreme confidence in their ability to solve complex problems in other countries, a sense of superiority and righteousness, comfort with pushing the ethical envelope, limited compassion and sympathy for the targeted population, and the association of state order with control. Interventionists, as Coyne and Hall put it, treat "society as a grand science project that can be rationalized and improved on by enlightened and well-intentioned engineers."
The second phase occurs when the interventionists come home. Some may retire, but many go to work in various public- and private-sector jobs. The skills and mentalities that served them well abroad don't disappear, so they begin employing their unique human capital domestically. Those who land in the public sector are able to influence domestic policy, where they see threats to liberty becoming manifest. Because of the relative lack of constraints when operating in a foreign theater, tactics that would otherwise cross the line domestically are seen as standard operating procedure.
Finally, physical capital plays a significant role in bringing methods of foreign intervention back home. Technological innovation "allows governments to use lower-cost methods of social control with a greater reach." The federal government spends billions annually on research and development, which buys a variety of different capabilities. These technologies, many originally intended for foreign populations, can be used domestically. One example the authors point to are the surveillance methods originally used in the Iraq war that found their way to the Baltimore Police Department for routine use.
The implication of the boomerang effect for policing doesn't end with surveillance. It can also help explain police militarization, the origins of which lie in the foreign interventions of the Progressive Era, specifically in the Philippines.
In the wake of the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded its colonial territories to the United States. This led to the Philippine-American War, a bloody conflict that directly and indirectly caused the deaths of 200,000 Filipino civilians, and which ended in 1902.
As veterans returned home from the Philippines, many sought careers in law enforcement where they were able to implement practices inspired by their days in the military. The effect of this was to "establish precedents whereby military personnel and tactics not only would be considered legitimate but welcomed" by police administrations. Police militarization wouldn't kick into high gear until the latter half of the 20th century, with the introduction of SWAT teams and the federalization of law enforcement during the LBJ and Nixon years. The men behind the development of SWAT were veterans of the Vietnam War.
What ultimately creates the conditions for this boomerang effect to take place? One factor, Coyne and Hall argue, is fear. Fear and crisis, both perceived and real, creates "space for government to expand the scope of its powers and adopt the techniques of state-produced social control that it has developed and honed abroad." Fear can lead people to seek assurances from authorities, which goads them into tolerating and even demanding expansions of state powers -- powers that in less fearful times they would not accept.
Once accumulated, that power becomes a normal part of life, and isn't easily given up, as the great economic historian Robert Higgs shows in his classic work Crisis and Leviathan . Anyone who has gone through airport security over the last 17 years understands this, as the fear of terror attacks after 9/11 has led to ratcheted up airline security measures by the TSA. This has resulted in some fairly egregious violations of person and privacy, despite very little evidence that they work.
Coyne's and Hall's book is a great, conceptually holistic investigation into how the state can threaten our liberty. Economists regularly recognize the unintended consequences of domestic policy; Coyne and Hall have explained the unintended consequences of foreign policy, and their costs. It's particularly timely, as President Trump's tenure has seen decision-making authority at the Pentagon pushed down the chain of command, leaving the United States' war-making capabilities even less accountable and transparent. This book is an incisive elucidation of what writer Randolph Bourne recognized a century ago and of which we could use a perpetual reminder: war truly is the health of the state.
Jerrod A. Laber is a writer and Free Society Fellow with Young Voices. He is a contributor to the Washington Examiner , and his work has appeared in Real Clear Defense , Quillette , and the Columbus Dispatch , among others.
Mar 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
'Fair and balanced' was a mid-20th century marketing tool and really, a confabulation of the times."The Yellow Press", by L. M. Glackens, portrays newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst as a jester distributing sensational stories in 1910. (Library of Congress/Public Domain) What the Greatest, Silent, and Boomer generations always regarded as the ideal of "objective journalism" was actually the exception, not the rule. That was true from the time of Gutenberg until that of Franklin Roosevelt.
The great Joseph Pulitzer largely founded his namesake prize for the same motives as Alfred Nobel, when the latter tried to make up for the incalculable injuries and deaths caused by the explosives he invented by endowing a Peace Prize. Pulitzer was attempting to atone for the "yellow journalism" sins of his own papers -- and even more, those of his arch rival, William Randolph "Citizen Kane" Hearst -- when he launched the prize that bears his name.
And if Pulitzer repented of his past, Hearst never did -- he went full speed ahead well into the 1920s and beyond, normalizing Nazi science, openly endorsing eugenics and white superiority, and promoting "Birth of a Nation"-like racism against African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. His dehumanizing attacks against so-called sneaking and treacherous "Japs" and "Chinks" -- well before Pearl Harbor, the Korean War, and communist China -- were even uglier.
To put it bluntly, as Frances McDormand's professor-mother in Almost Famous might have said, "Objective Journalism" was as much a marketing tool as anything else. It took off not because news neutrality was always enshrined in American journalistic ethics, but because of how rare it actually was. High-minded notions of "fairness" and "objective journalism" came to the print media largely because the visionary first families of the papers that finally succeeded the Hearsts and Pulitzers in clout and cache -- the Ochs-Sulzbergers of New York, the Meyer-Grahams of Washington, and the Chandlers of Los Angeles -- made a conscious decision to brand their newspapers as being truly fair and balanced to differentiate them from the competition.
Meanwhile, the broadcast media (which didn't exist until the rise of radio and "talking pictures" in the late 1920s, followed by TV after World War II) labored under the New Deal's famed Fairness Doctrine.
And even then, "objectivity" only went as far as the eyes and ears of the beholder. The fairness flag was fraying when Spiro Agnew and Pat Buchanan took "liberal media elites" to task a generation ago during the Vietnam and civil rights era, while Tom Wolfe made good, unclean fun out of the "radical chic" conceits of Manhattan and Hollywood limousine liberals.
What today's controversies illustrate is that a so-called "Fairness Doctrine" and "objective" newspaper reporting could only have existed in a conformist Mad Men world where societal norms of what was (and wasn't) acceptable in the postwar Great Society operated by consensus. That is to say, an America where moderate, respectable, white male centrist Republicans like Thomas Dewey, Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and Gerald Ford "debated" moderate, respectable, white male centrist Democrats like Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, and Jimmy Carter.
Now contrast that with today. On November 25, the New York Times made a now-notorious attempt to understand the Nazi next door, running a profile of young suburban white supremacist, Tony Hovater. Transgender social media superstar Charlotte Clymer spoke for her fellow liberals when she savagely satirized the Times with a tweet-storm that included things like:
Bob is a vegan. He believes we should protect the environment. He likes "Big Bang Theory". He pays taxes. He served in the military.
He's a serial killer who has tortured and murdered 14 people. He dissolved their bodies in acid at a remote site. He made them beg for their lives as he tortured them.
He attends PTA meetings. He DVR's episodes of his wife's fave shows when she's late at work.
The moral of the fable being (as Miss Clymer put it): "Bob is a mass-murdering f***head. STOP GIVING BOB NUANCE!"
When the Times followed their neo-Nazi profile by turning an entire op-ed column over to Donald Trump supporters in mid-January, the Resistance went to red alert. And after Ross Douthat penned a column in defense of (Jewish) anti-immigration hardliner Stephen Miller on Holocaust Memorial Day in January, they went full DEFCON.
"F*** you @nytimes for publishing this article on #HolocaustMemorialDay from me & from those in my family whose voices were silenced during the Holocaust. Shame on you!" said Nadine Vander Velde on Twitter. London left-wing journalist Sarah Kendzior agreed that "The NYT is now a white supremacist paper. The multiple Nazi puff pieces, constant pro-Trump PR, and praise for Miller on today of all days is not exceptional – it's [now] the guiding ideology of the paper."
And the current furor over The Atlantic 's hiring of National Review firebrand Kevin D. Williamson only underscores that it isn't just campus leftists or Tea Partiers who are hitting the censor button.
But revealingly, it wasn't just the usual left-wing snowflakes who have needed a trigger warning of late. Just six weeks into the new year, the Washington Post and CNN ran a series of tabloidy, Inside Edition -style stories glamorizing Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The Washington Post even went so far as to call Ms. Yo-jong North Korea's answer to Ivanka Trump (just ignore the fact she is the DPRK's assistant head of the Ministry of Propaganda and Agitation). That led Bethany Mandel of the New York Post to wonder what was up with all the "perverse fawning over brutal Kim Jong-un's sister at the Olympics?"
Additionally, some of the most provocative critiques of "journalistic objectivity" have come from liberal polemicists like Matt Taibbi and Sam Adler-Bell, who argue that before we go on blathering about untrammeled First Amendment freedom and "objectivity," the first question that must be asked is who has the balance of power and whose hands are on deck in the editing room. (And they're not wrong to ask that question -- it was the same one that Pat Buchanan asked 50 years ago and Ann Coulter asked 20 years ago from the opposite side of the newsroom.)
Whether it's MSNBC on the left or Fox News on the right, the editorial decisions of how to spin a piece, where and how often to broadcast it, what kind of panelists you invite to "debate" a story, which anchors should be promoted and which ones will forever remain mere worker bees -- all these decisions are anything but "objective" or "unbiased."
Let's face it: the supposedly more civilized, serious ecosystem of the pre-social media past would come across to identity-conscious Millennials today as nothing more than stale white bread dominated by stale white men. Even among the campus leftists who protest and violently riot to shut down and silence "hate speech," most of them would probably rather live in a world where Steve Bannon and Richard Spencer anchored the nightly news on one channel -- so long as there was a hijab-wearing Muslim or a transgendered man on another, equally highly-rated one.
What would be totally unacceptable to today's young consumer is any kind of return to the mid-century world where "the news" was whatever Ben Bradlee, Johnny Apple, Robert Novak, and The Chancellor/Brinkley Nightly News said it was -- in essence, the world where Punch Sulzberger, Otis Chandler, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw white-mansplained "facts" through their own elite establishment filters, de facto ignoring everyone else.
Meanwhile, the beat goes on. From the left, conservative Sinclair Media is accused of "forcing" its local anchors to read "pro-Trump propaganda." The Nation stalwart Eric Alterman says that "When one side is fascist, there's no need to show Both Sides." As for the right -- just ask your Fox-watching or Limbaugh-listening friends and families what they think of the "mainstream media," the "Communist News Network," or the "opinion cartel."
The great Joan Didion once said "We tell ourselves stories in order to live." Maybe "objective journalism" was always just a little social white lie we in the media told ourselves to make ourselves feel better -- fairer, kinder, gentler, more "professional." But if there's one lesson that Barack Obama, the Tea Party, Bernie Sanders, Antifa, Donald Trump, and the Great Recession have taught us over the past decade, it isn't just that the mythical "center" will no longer hold. It's that there may no longer be a center for any of us to hold on to.
Telly Davidson is the author of a new book on the politics and pop culture of the '90s, Culture War : How the 90's Made Us Who We Are Today (Like it Or Not) . He has written on culture for ATTN, FrumForum, All About Jazz, FilmStew, and Guitar Player , and worked on the Emmy-nominated PBS series "Pioneers of Television."
Mar 28, 2018 | www.unz.com
On Monday, the Monmouth University Polling Institute released the results of a survey that found that "a large bipartisan majority feel that national policy is being manipulated or directed by a 'Deep State' of unelected government officials ..  Public Troubled By Deep State, Monmouth University Polling Institute
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from March 2 to 5, 2018 with 803 adults in the United States. The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.
According to the survey:" 6-in-10 Americans (60%) feel that unelected or appointed government officials have too much influence in determining federal policy. Just 26% say the right balance of power exists between elected and unelected officials in determining policy. Democrats (59%), Republicans (59%) and independents (62%) agree that appointed officials hold too much sway in the federal government. ("Public Troubled by 'Deep State", Monmouth.edu)
The survey appears to confirm that democracy in the United States is largely a sham. Our elected representatives are not the agents of political change, but cogs in a vast bureaucratic machine that operates mainly in the interests of the behemoth corporations and banks. Surprisingly, most Americans have not been taken in by the media's promotional hoopla about elections and democracy. They have a fairly-decent grasp of how the system works and who ultimately benefits from it. Check it out:
" Few Americans (13%) are very familiar with the term "Deep State ;" another 24% are somewhat familiar, while 63% say they are not familiar with this term. However, when the term is described as a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy, nearly 3-in-4 (74%) say they believe this type of apparatus exists in Washington. Only 1-in-5 say it does not exist." Belief in the probable existence of a Deep State comes from more than 7-in-10 Americans in each partisan group "
So while the cable news channels dismiss anyone who believes in the "Deep State" as a conspiracy theorist, it's clear that the majority of people think that's how the system really works, that is, "a group of unelected government and military officials secretly manipulate or direct national policy."
It's impossible to overstate the significance of the survey. The data suggest that representative democracy is a largely a fraud, that congressmen and senators are mostly sock-puppets who do the bidding of wealthy powerbrokers, and that the entire system is impervious to the will of the people. These are pretty damning results and a clear indication of how corrupt the system really is.
The Monmouth survey also found that "A majority of the American public believe that the U.S. government engages in widespread monitoring of its own citizens and worry that the U.S. government could be invading their own privacy." .
"Fully 8-in-10 believe that the U.S. government currently monitors or spies on the activities of American citizens, including a majority (53%)who say this activity is widespread Few Americans (18%) say government monitoring or spying on U.S. citizens is usually justified, with most (53%) saying it is only sometimes justified. Another 28% say this activity is rarely or never justified ." ("Public Troubled by 'Deep State", Monmouth.edu)
So, along with the fact, that most Americans think democracy is a pipe-dream, a clear majority also believe that the country has changed into a frightening, lock-down police state in which government agents gather all-manner of electronic communications on everyone without the slightest suspicion of wrongdoing. Once again, the data suggests that the American people know what is going on, know that the US has gone from a reasonably free country where civil liberties were protected under the law, to a state-of-the-art surveillance state ruled by invisible elites who see the American people as an obstacle to their global ambitions–but their awareness has not evolved into an organized movement for change. In any event, the public seems to understand that the USG is not as committed to human rights and civil liberties as the media would have one believe. That's a start.
There's no doubt in my mind that the relentless attacks on Donald Trump have reinforced the public's belief that the country is controlled by an invisible group of elites whose agents in the bureaucracy follow their diktats. From the time Trump became the GOP presidential nominee more than 18 months ago, a powerful faction of the Intelligence Community, law enforcement (FBI) and even elements form the Obama DOJ, have vigorously tried to sabotage his presidency, his credibility and his agenda. Without a scintilla of hard evidence to make their case, this same group and their dissembling allies in the media, have cast Trump as a disloyal collaborator who conspired to win the election by colluding with a foreign government. The magnitude of this fabrication is beyond anything we've seen before in American political history, and the absence of any verifiable proof makes it all the more alarming. As it happens, the Deep State is so powerful it can wage a full-blown assault on the highest elected office in the country without even showing probable cause. In other words, the president of the United States is not even accorded the same rights as a common crook. How does that happen?
Over the weekend, former CIA Director and "Russia-gate" ringleader John Brennan fired off an angry salvo at Trump on his Twitter account. Here's what he said:
"When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America America will triumph over you."
Doesn't Brennan's statement help to reinforce the public's belief in the Deep State? How does a career bureaucrat who has never been elected to public office decide that it is appropriate to use the credibility of his former office to conduct a pitch-battle with the President of the United States?
Brennan says "America will triumph over you." But whose America is he talking about? The American people elected Trump, he is the legitimate president of the United States. Many people may not like his policies, but they respect the system that put him in office.
Not so, Brennan. Brennan and his cadres of rogue agents have been at war with Trump since Day 1. Brennan does not accept the results of the election because it did not produce the outcome that he and his powerful constituents wanted. Brennan wants to destroy Trump. He even admits as much in his statement.
And Brennan has been given a platform on the cable news channels so he can continue his assault on the presidency, not because he can prove that Trump is guilty of collusion or obstruction or whatever, but because the people who own the media have mobilized their deep state agents to carry out their vendetta to remove Trump from office by any means possible.
This is the "America" of which Brennan speaks. Not my America, but deep state America.
And why do Brennan and his fatcat allies hate Trump so much? They don't. Because it's not really about Trump. It's about the presidency, the highest office in the land. The US Plutocrat Class honestly believe that they are entitled to govern the country that they physically own. It's theirs, they own it and they are taking it back. That's what this is all about
... ... ...
Mar 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz spells out what the nuclear deal with Iran does and what withdrawing from it would mean:
Conversely, if Trump withdraws the United States from the agreement, with Iran complying and with our allies clearly committed to its continuation, he will have compromised the most stringent nuclear verification standard ever achieved, with no credible prospect for restoring or improving it [bold mine-DL]. Such a move would hand Iran a political "wedge" dividing the international community, and undercut vital arguments for verification of any agreement reached with North Korea.
Opponents of the deal often claim to be against it because it isn't "tough" enough, but as Moniz explains the deal contains the "most robust verification measures the world has ever known." Withdrawing from the deal means throwing that away for no good reason. If Trump follows through on his threat to withdraw, he will confirm that his complaints about the agreement were made in bad faith. Reneging on the deal just because some of its restrictions expire after a decade or more gives the game away. It gives Iran the excuse to ignore some or all of the deal's restrictions immediately instead of having some of them lifted in the 2020s or 2030s. We're supposed to believe that the gradual expiration of some restrictions is so intolerable that we should throw away all of the restrictions right away. It's a completely irrational position, and so it's obviously just a bad excuse for killing an agreement that Iran hawks never wanted.
If Iran is supposed to ratify the Additional Protocol that it is currently implementing voluntarily. Ratification will make these verification measures permanent, and that will make ensuring that Iran abides by its NPT obligations much easier. Blowing up the deal now would give Iran an excuse to stop voluntarily complying with the Additional Protocol years before they have to ratify it. Sina Azodi suggests that this is how Iran might respond to a U.S. withdrawal:
One possible response to a US withdrawal would be for Iran to declare that it will no longer implement the Additional Protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This supplementary protocol significantly enhances the ability of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor and verify Iran's compliance with the JCPOA.
Under the agreement, Iran is required to implement the protocol and to ratify it within eight years of the January 2016 implementation of the JCPOA. If the deal collapses, Iran will no longer feel obliged to allow the intrusive inspections required by the protocol or to ratify it. This would significantly reduce the IAEA's ability to monitor Iran's nuclear activities. However, this seems to be a relatively safe option for Iran, since implementation of the protocol is on a voluntary basis.
As Azodi explains, this is the least provocative response available to Iran, and it allows Iran to further divide the U.S. and our European allies, who remain committed to honoring the agreement. It's also quite possible that Iran will follow the U.S. out of the deal to protest the resumption of U.S. sanctions. Either way, the verification measures that make the JCPOA such a strong nonproliferation agreement will be lost.
The verification measures in the deal were so stringent because of the fear that Iran wouldn't keep its side of the bargain, but if the deal dies it won't be because of Iranian cheating. Opponents of the deal have shown that the one truly fatal flaw of the deal was that it contained no provision to make sure that the U.S. fulfills its obligations. Posted in foreign policy , politics . Tagged Iran , IAEA , Donald Trump , JCPOA , Sina Azodi , Ernest Moniz .
Mar 27, 2018 | www.wsws.org
The "60 Minutes" broadcast on Sunday night, devoted to rehashing allegations of sexual impropriety and bullying against Donald Trump, marked a new level of degradation for the US political system. For nearly half an hour, an audience of 23 million people tuned in to a discussion of a brief sexual encounter between Trump and adult film star Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) in 2006.
Trump was then a near-bankrupt real estate and casino mogul, best known for reinventing himself as a television personality. By her account, the proffer of a possible guest appearance on Celebrity Apprentice was the only attraction the 60-year-old Trump had for Daniels, then 27. Trump made promises, but as usual did not deliver.
Earlier in the week, the same interviewer, Anderson Cooper, appearing on CNN instead of CBS, held an hour-long discussion with Karen McDougal, a former Playboy magazine centerfold, who described a year-long relationship with Trump, also in 2006, the year after his marriage to Melania Knauss.
White House officials flatly denied both accounts, but Trump himself has been conspicuously and unusually silent, even on Twitter. His lawyers filed papers with a Los Angeles court, in advance of the "60 Minutes" broadcast, claiming that Daniels was in violation of a confidentiality agreement and could be liable for damages of up to $20 million.
Last Tuesday, a New York state judge turned down a motion by lawyers acting for Trump and refused to dismiss the lawsuit for defamation brought against him by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on another Trump "reality" show, The Apprentice . One of nearly a dozen women who made public charges of sexual harassment against Trump during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, Zervos alone has sued Trump over his repeated public claims that the women were all liars.
There is little doubt that the accounts by Zervos, McDougal and Daniels are substantially true. Trump has already demonstrated this by attempting to suppress their stories, either through legal action or by purchasing their silence, directly or indirectly. A Trump ally, David Pecker, owner of the National Enquirer tabloid, bought the rights to McDougal's account of her relationship with Trump in 2016 for $150,000, in order not to publish it. Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, admitted last month that he had paid $130,000 to Daniels in October 2016, only weeks before the election, to guarantee her silence.
The bullying tactics of Cohen and other Trump allies add credibility to the claim by Daniels, during her "60 Minutes" interview, that a thug, presumably sent by Cohen, had threatened her with violence in 2011, when she first sought to sell her story about Trump to the media. Daniels offered no evidence to back her claim, but her attorney Michael Avenatti dropped broad hints that Daniels would be able to corroborate much of her account.
Cohen may himself face some legal jeopardy due to his public declaration that he paid Daniels out of his own funds. Given the proximity of the payment to the election, this could well be construed as a cash contribution to the Trump campaign far beyond the $3,500 legal limit for an individual.
The Zervos suit, however, may present the most immediate legal threat, since the next step, after New York Supreme Court Justice Jennifer G. Schecter rejected Trump's claim that he has presidential immunity, is to take discovery. In other words, Trump and his closest aides could be required to give sworn depositions about his actions in relation to Zervos and many of the other women.
Justice Schecter cited the precedent of the Paula Jones case against President Bill Clinton, in which the US Supreme Court held that a US president had no immunity from lawsuits over his private actions. While cloaked in democratic rhetoric at the time ("No one is above the law"), that decision actually gave a green light to an anti-democratic conspiracy by ultra-right forces who used the Jones lawsuit to trap Clinton into lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
Unlike the 1998-1999 conflict over impeachment, there is no issue of democratic rights involved in the sexual allegations against Trump. Some of the same legal tactics (using sworn depositions to set a perjury trap), are being employed as weapons in an increasingly bitter conflict within the US ruling elite, in which both factions are equally reactionary.
Trump is a representative of the underworld of real estate, casino gambling and reality television, elevated to the presidency because he had the good fortune to run against a deeply unpopular and reactionary shill for Wall Street and the military-intelligence agencies, Hillary Clinton. Under conditions of mounting discontent among working people with the Democratic Party, after eight years of the Obama administration, Trump was able to eke out a narrow victory in the Electoral College.
The Democratic "opposition" to Trump is focused not on his vicious attacks on immigrants, his promotion of racist and neo-fascist elements, his deregulation of business and passage of the biggest tax cut for the wealthy in decades, or his increasingly violent and unhinged foreign policy pronouncements. The Democrats have sought to attack Trump from the right, particularly on the question of US-Russian relations, making use of the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections, headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Trump has sought to mollify his critics within the US national security establishment with measures such as a more aggressive US intervention in Syria, the elevation of Gina Haspel, the CIA's chief torturer, to head the agency, and, most recently, the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats as part a NATO-wide campaign aimed at whipping up a war fever against Moscow.
As Trump has made concessions on foreign policy, his opponents have shifted their ground, attacking his behavior towards women. They have sought to link these exposures with the broader #MeToo campaign, which is aimed at creating a witch-hunt atmosphere in Hollywood, the US political system, and more generally throughout American society, in which gender issues are brought forward to conceal and suppress more fundamental class questions.
In both the Russia investigation and now the allegations of sexual misconduct, the Democrats have sought to hide their real political agenda, which is just as reactionary and dangerous as that of Trump and the Republicans. While Trump is pushing towards war with North Korea or Iran, and behind them China, the Democrats and their allies in the national security apparatus seek to maintain the focus on Russia that was developed during the second term of the Obama administration, particularly in Syria, Ukraine and Eastern Europe as a whole, posing the danger of a war between the world's two main nuclear powers.
Beyond the immediate foreign policy issues, the whipping up of sexual scandals is invariably a hallmark of reactionary politics. Such methods appeal to social backwardness, Puritanical prejudices or prurient interest. They contribute nothing to the political education of working people and youth, who must come to understand the fundamental class forces underlying all political phenomena. The political basis for a struggle against Trump is not in designating him as a sexual predator, but in understanding his class role as a front man for the American financial oligarchy, which treats the entire working class, including the female half, as objects of exploitation.
Mar 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
For the time being, Trump's lack of impulse control and self-discipline may frustrate his strongman tendencies at home, but that's cold comfort, given the damage he can do with U.S. military might. In "the most powerful office in the world," impulsive, ignorant incompetence can be just as dangerous as sinister purpose -- but it represents a different set of threats than the ones that most concern Frum.
"Trumpocracy has left Americans less safe against foreign dangers," Frum charges, by which he seems to mean mainly Russian cybermeddling. He spends an order of magnitude more time on that subject than on the foreign dangers Trump has gratuitously stoked with brinksmanship on North Korea.
In the near term, what's to be most feared is the president lumbering into a major conflict with either (or both?) of the two remaining "Axis of Evil" members. Uncertain plans for a North Korean summit aside, that risk may be increasing. As the New York Times 's Maggie Haberman recently explained , Trump "was terrified of the job the first six months, and now feels like he has a command of it" -- a terrifying thought in itself. Newly emboldened, the president wants unrepentant uber-hawks John Bolton and Mike Pompeo for national security advisor and secretary of state, respectively. "Let Trump be Trump" looks a lot like letting Trump be Bush-era Frum .
In fairness, Frum does seem queasy about all this, but he's awkwardly positioned to sound the alarm. The author who declared that it's "victory or holocaust" in the war on terror and lauded George W. Bush as The Right Man may not be the right man to guide us through the particular dangers of this moment in history.
We may yet avoid a disaster on the scale of the Iraq war, aided by what Frum terms "the surge in civic spirit that has moved Americans since the ominous night of November 8, 2016" -- or God's special affection for fools, drunks, and the United States of America. Perhaps, in hindsight, the Trump years will look more like a Great Beclowning than a Long National Nightmare. If so, we may look back on this period and say, as "43" apparently did of Trump's First Inaugural: "that was some weird shit " -- and give thanks that Trump wasn't as competent as Bush.
Gene Healy is a vice president of the Cato Institute and the author of The Cult of the Presidency .
Mar 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The conclusion of Stephen Walt's column on John Bolton is exactly right:
Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to "normalize" this appointment or suggest that it shouldn't concern you. Rather, I'm suggesting that if you are worried about Bolton, you should ask yourself the following question: What sort of political system allows someone with his views to serve in high office, where he helps talk the country into a disastrous war, never expresses a moment's regret for his errors, continues to advocate for more of the same for the next decade, and then gets a second chance to make the same mistakes again? [bold mine-DL]
So by all means worry. But the real problem isn't Bolton -- it's a system that permits people like him to screw up and move up again and again.
There is a strong bias in our foreign policy debates in favor of "action," no matter how stupid or destructive that action proves to be. That is one reason why reflexive supporters of an activist foreign policy will never have to face the consequences of the policies they support. Bolton has thrived as an advocate of hard-line policies precisely because he fills the assigned role of the fanatical warmonger, and there is always a demand for someone to fill that role. His fanaticism doesn't discredit him, because it is eminently useful to his somewhat less fanatical colleagues. That is how he can hang around long enough until there is a president ignorant enough to think that he is qualified to be a top adviser.
Bolton will also have reliable supporters in the conservative movement that will make excuses for the inexcusable. National Review recently published an article by David French in defense of Bolton whose conclusion was that we should "give a hawk a chance." Besides being evasive and dishonest about just how fanatical Bolton is, the article was an effort to pretend that Iraq war supporters should be given another chance to wreck U.S. foreign policy again. It may be true that Bolton's views are "in the mainstream of conservative foreign-policy thought," but that is an indictment of the so-called "mainstream" that is being represented. Bolton has been wrong about every major foreign policy issue of the last twenty years. If that doesn't disqualify you from holding a high-ranking government position, what does?
Hawks have been given a chance to run our foreign policy every day for decades on end, and they have failed numerous times at exorbitant cost. Generic hawks don't deserve a second chance after the last sixteen-plus years of failure and disaster, and fanatical hard-liners like Bolton never deserved a first chance.
French asserts that Bolton is "not extreme," but that raises the obvious question: compared to what?Bolton has publicly, repeatedly urged the U.S. government to launch illegal preventive wars against Iran and North Korea, and that just scratches the surface of his fanaticism. That strikes me as rather extreme, and that is why so many people are disturbed by the Bolton appointment. If he isn't "extreme" even by contemporary movement conservative standards, who is? How psychopathic would one need to be to be considered extreme in French's eyes? If movement conservatives can't see why Bolton is an unacceptable and outrageous choice for National Security Advisor, they are so far gone that there is nothing to be done for them and no point in listening to anything they have to say.
Mar 20, 2018 | www.zerohedge.comA former Playboy model who says she had an affair with President Trump is suing the National Enquirer's parent company, American Media, so that she can be released from a legal agreement barring her from discussing the relationship.
Karen McDougal filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, according to the New York Times , after she claims the Enquirer paid her $150,000 for the story of her nine-month-long affair between 2006 and 2007, but did not publish it when she gave the account in August 2016, several months before the 2016 U.S. election.
McDougal says that Trump's personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen, was secretly involved in her negotiations with A.M.I., and that both the media company and her lawyer at the time misled her about the arrangement. After speaking with The New Yorker last month after it obtained notes she kept on her alleged affair, McDougal said she was warned by A.M.I. that " any further disclosures would breach Karen's contract," and "cause considerable monetary damages ."
Cohen reportedly paid another Trump accuser, adult film actress Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels), $130,000 in exchange for signing an NDA barring her from discussing her experiences with Trump.
Trump joined a legal effort last week suing Clifford for $20 million over what they claim is a breach of her NDA. Meanwhile, both women's claims against Trump are being construed by federal watchdog group Common Cause as illegal campaign contributions - arguing that they could constitute in-kind contributions to the Trump campaign.
Ms. Clifford and Ms. McDougal tell strikingly similar stories about their experiences with Mr. Trump, which included alleged trysts at the same Lake Tahoe golf tournament in 2006, dates at the same Beverly Hills hotel and promises of apartments as gifts.
Their stories first surfaced in the The Wall Street Journal four days before the election , but got little traction in the swirl of news that followed Mr. Trump's victory. The women even shared the same Los Angeles lawyer, Keith Davidson, who has long worked for clients who sell their stories to the tabloids . - NYT
"The lawsuit filed today aims to restore her right to her own voice," McDougal's attorney, Peter K Stris told the Times . "We intend to invalidate the so-called contract that American Media Inc. imposed on Karen so she can move forward with the private life she deserves ."
As the Wall Street Journal reported in November, 2016;
The tabloid-newspaper publisher reached an agreement in early August with Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the Year. American Media Inc., which owns the Enquirer, hasn't published anything about what she has told friends was a consensual romantic relationship she had with Mr. Trump in 2006. At the time, Mr. Trump was married to his current wife, Melania.
Quashing stories that way is known in the tabloid world as "catch and kill." - WSJ
In a written statement, American Media Inc. claims it wasn't buying McDougal's story for $150,000 - rather, they were buying two years' worth of her fitness columns, magazine covers and exclusive life rights to any relationship she has had with a then-married man. "AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump," reads the statement.
American Media Inc. CEO David J. Pecker is a long-standing friend of President Trump.
Mar 23, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.comSlingshot . The malware targeted Latvian-made Internet routers popular in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Kaspersky's reports reveal that the malware had been active since at least 2012, and speculates that it was government-made, owing to its sophistication and its use of novel techniques rarely seen elsewhere.
Those investigating the matter further have drawn the conclusion that Slingshot was developed by the U.S. government, with some reports quoting former officials as connecting it to the Pentagon's JSOC special forces. For those following the cyber security and malware sphere, this is a huge revelation, putting the U.S. government in the hot seat for deploying cyber attacks that harm a much greater range of innocent users beyond their intended targets.
Kaspersky's own findings note that the code was written in English, using a driver flaw to allow the implanting of various types of spyware. Among those mentioned by Moscow-based Kaspersky was an implant named "GOLLUM," which notably was mentioned in one of the leaked Edward Snowden documents .
Further findings suggest that Slingshot had common code with only two other known pieces of software, both malwares, which were attributed to the NSA and CIA, respectively, by analysts. Though various U.S. agencies are all denying comment, things are clearly pointing uncomfortably in their direction.
Cyberscoop , one of the first news outlets to break the story, reported a mixed reaction among officials. Some noted that Kaspersky Labs was simply doing what a security company is supposed to do. Others, however, were less agreeable, suggesting it was an intentional attempt by Kaspersky to undermine U.S. security.
The argument, as far as it goes, is that given the ostensible target areas -- the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan -- Kaspersky should have concluded it was related to the War on Terror and sat on their findings. The Trump administration already views Kaspersky as a sort of hostile actor -- banning the use of Kaspersky products by any government or civilian federal contractor in December, citing Kremlin influence (a charge that has been vehemently denied by the company). This just gives them more justification for seeing Kaspersky as an adversary in the space.
Unfortunately for the Russian company, some American retailers have even followed suit, pulling the software from the shelves on the grounds that it's Russian, and that therefore suspect.
There has been no clear evidence that Kaspersky's software was serving as a backdoor for Russian intelligence, though it was reported last fall that sensitive documents were stolen from a National Security Agency (NSA) contractor's laptop via its Kaspersky-made antivirus software . In a statement at the time, the company said, "Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts." Turns out that Israeli spies, spying on the Russian spies, disclosed the intrusion to U.S. officials.
Kaspersky has consistently ranked near the top of antivirus ratings from virtually all third-party reviewers. The company has sold its products to nearly 400 million users worldwide, with 60 percent in the U.S. and Western Europe. Until now, Kaspersky was being used by several major agencies in the federal government, including the State Department and Department of Defense.
Ironically, this new Slingshot issue itself appears just to be a testament to how well the company's security works at digging up extremely dangerous malware. It also underscores the uneasy reality that the U.S. has been engaging in its own brand of cyber warfare all along.
Any claims that a specific piece of U.S. malware -- in this case, Slingshot -- was targeting only al-Qaeda or ISIS bad guys is disingenuous as well. The exploit on routers is hitting an entire region, infecting an untold number of innocent people . Internet cafés are said to have been hit in this, meaning everyone going into the cafes is at risk.
Malware is not a precision munition, it hits wide targets and spreads out to bystanders. This is particularly disturbing to note if, as some reports are indicating, this malware was Pentagon in origin.
U.S. civilian government surveillance is already doing great harm to general Internet security, and does so by remaining in denial about the balance of good to harm that is being done. The U.S. military, by contrast, has shown its willingness to inflict major harm on innocents in pursuit of any war goal. As they start hitting regions with malware, all bets are off on how far it will spread.
Security companies like Kaspersky Labs only afford the private user limited protection from all of this malware, because they're constantly playing catch-up, finding new variants and new exploits that the various pieces of software are using. Slingshot, for instance, went undetected for six solid years .
The discovery means fixes can finally be implemented for the routers and the computers. Novel exploits like this are rarely a one-time fix, however, as a slew of similar exploits from other sources tend to crop up after one gets taken out. It's a never-ending battle.
In August, President Trump made U.S. Cyber Command a formal military command , reflecting the growing view of the Internet as a military objective. Much as America's other battlefields result in collateral damage on the ground, the cyberwar is going to have a deleterious impact on day-to-day life in cyberspace. The big questions are how bad things will get, and how quickly.
Jason Ditz is news editor at Antiwar.com , a nonprofit organization dedicated to the cause of non-interventionism. In addition to TAC, his work has appeared in Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Daily Caller, Washington Times and Detroit Free Press.
Mar 23, 2018 | www.unz.com
denk , March 23, 2018 at 4:44 am GMTTrump just appointed John Bolton !
Trump has betrayed us ! How did they turned him ? Blah blah blah .. Forchrissake !
Trump was a deep state man from day one, just like Obama, Bush, Clinton and all the rest,.
It boggles the mind that even at this stage, so many peoples are still bamboozled by this duopoly dog and pony show , aka the mukkan election !
Mar 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Posted by: sleepy | Mar 22, 2018 9:00:34 PM | 41sleepy , Mar 22, 2018 9:00:34 PM | 41Circe 30
It didn't take a great deal of insight or wisdom to view Trump as a con-man from the getgo.
Anyone who ever thought that Trump was cleverly playing some hidden grand strategy in either foreign or domestic policy is a chump, no better than those fools who thought for years that Obama was a master of 11th dimensional chess.
Mar 23, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
... ... ...Consider. To cut through the Russophobia rampant here, Trump decided to make a direct phone call to Vladimir Putin. And in that call, Trump, like Angela Merkel, congratulated Putin on his re-election victory.
Instantly, the briefing paper for the president's call was leaked to the Post . In bold letters it read "DO NOT CONGRATULATE."
Whereupon the Beltway went ballistic.
How could Trump congratulate Putin, whose election was a sham? Why did he not charge Putin with the Salisbury poisoning? Why did he not denounce Putin for interfering with "our democracy"?
Amazing. A disloyal White House staffer betrays his trust and leaks a confidential paper to sabotage the foreign policy of a duly elected president, and he is celebrated in this capital city.
If you wish to see the deep state at work, this is it: anti-Trump journalists using First Amendment immunities to collude with and cover up the identities of bureaucratic snakes out to damage or destroy a president they despise. No wonder democracy is a declining stock worldwide.
And, yes, they give out Pulitzers for criminal collusion like this.
The New York Times got a Pulitzer and the Post got a Hollywood movie starring Meryl Streep for publishing stolen secret papers from the Pentagon of JFK and LBJ -- to sabotage the Vietnam War policy of Richard Nixon.
Why? Because the hated Nixon was succeeding in extricating us with honor from a war that the presidents for whom the Times and Post hauled water could not win or end.
Not only have journalists given up any pretense of neutrality in this campaign to bring down the president, ex-national security officers of the highest rank are starting to sound like resisters.
Ex-CIA director John Brennan openly speculated Tuesday that the president may have been compromised by Moscow and become an asset of the Kremlin.
"I think he's afraid of the president of Russia," Brennan said of Trump and Putin. "The Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump and may have things they could expose."
If Brennan has evidence Trump is compromised, he should relay it to Robert Mueller. If he does not, this is speculation of an especially ugly variety for someone once entrusted with America's highest secrets.
What's going on in this city is an American version of the "color revolutions" we have employed to knock over governments in places like Georgia and Ukraine.
The goal is to break Trump's presidency, remove him, discredit his election as contaminated by Kremlin collusion, upend the democratic verdict of 2016, and ash-can Trump's agenda of populist conservatism. Then America can return to the open borders, free trade, democracy-crusading Bushite globalism beloved by our Beltway elites.
Trump, in a way, is the indispensable man of the populist right.
In the 2016 primaries, no other Republican candidate shared his determination to secure the border, bring back manufacturing, or end the endless wars in the Middle East that have so bled and bankrupted our nation.
Whether the Assads rule in Damascus, the Chinese fortify Scarborough Shoal, or the Taliban return to Kabul, none are existential threats to the United States.
But if the borders of our country are not secured, as Reagan warned, in a generation, America will not even be a country.
Trump seems now to recognize that the special counsel's office of Robert Mueller, which this city sees as the instrument of its deliverance, is a mortal threat to his presidency.
Mueller's team wishes to do to Trump what Archibald Cox's team sought to do to Nixon: drive him out of office or set him up for the kill by a Democratic Congress in 2019.
Trump appears to recognize that the struggle with Mueller is now a political struggle -- to the death.
Hence Trump's hiring of Joe diGenova and the departure of John Dowd from his legal team. In the elegant phrase of Michael Corleone, diGenova is a wartime consigliere.
He believes Trump is the target of a conspiracy, under which Jim Comey's FBI put in the fix to prevent Hillary's prosecution and then fabricated a crime of collusion with Russia to take down the new president the American people had elected.
The Trump White House is behaving as if it were the prospective target of a coup d'etat. And it is not wrong for them to think so.
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.
Mar 22, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com
JamesT , 21 March 2018 at 09:48 PMLondonBobLondonBob -> JamesT ... , 22 March 2018 at 04:24 AM
I think that in much of the world The World Cup is a bigger deal than the Olympics. I knew some athletes here in Canada who had their athletic careers ended by our boycott of the 1980 Olympics (after years and years of hard work). I'm surprised western intelligence agencies have not done more to undermine Russia's world cup. They may yet.Outside of North America the World Cup is definitely a much bigger event than the Olympics. I already have my tickets for England v Panama in Nizhny Novgorod, as well as a second round match in Moscow.
I don't care much for the Olympics, although I do like the Winter Olympics. I just thought we would see the same nonsense we saw to undermine the Sochi Olympics, this just seems much more than just derogatory media coverage, or officials boycotting attending the event. I was interested to see Professor Richard Sakwa, his book on the Ukraine crisis is probably the best out there, interviewed on RT regarding this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcKQ-4Qqel0
Mar 22, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
dcblogger , March 22, 2018 at 3:10 pmLee , March 22, 2018 at 3:50 pm
In Chicago primaries, a string of defeats for the Democratic establishment at the hands of progressive Democrats
From the Chomsky interview posted above:
In order for him [Sanders] to do anything, he would have to have a substantial, functioning party apparatus, which would have to grow from the grass roots. It would have to be locally organized, it would have to operate at local levels, state levels, Congress, the bureaucracy -- you have to build the whole system from the bottom.