Softpanorama

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Skepticism and critical thinking is not panacea, but can help to understand the world better

Who Rules America ?

A slightly skeptical view on the US political establishment and foreign policy

If Ronald Reagan was America's neo-Julius Caesar, his adopted son was the first George Bush (just as J.C. adopted Augustus). And look what THAT progeny wrought. I fully expect that over the next century, no fewer than seven Bushes will have run or become president (mimicking the Roman Caesarian line). Goodbye, American Republic.

From review of Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia by Gore Vidal

Skepticism -> Political Skeptic

News Neoliberalism Recommended books Recommended Links Neoliberal Propaganda: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism The Deep State
Libertarian Philosophy Elite Theory Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization US and British media are servants of security apparatus Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich "Fuck the EU": neocons show EU its real place Neoconservatism as an attack dog of neoliberalism
Corporatism Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia Demexit: Abandonment of Democratic party by working class and lower middle class Democratic Party Neoliberals Monday morning quarterbacking Globalization of Financial Flows Anti-globalization movement Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization
Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy "Clinton Cash" Scandal: Hillary Clinton links to foreign donors and financial industry Neo-conservatism National Security State Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? Hypocrisy of British ruling elite as the template for hypocrisy of neoliberal elite
Russiagate -- a color revolution against Trump Anti-Russian hysteria DNC emails leak Anti Trump Hysteria Two Party System as Polyarchy Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Neoliberal war on reality or the importance of controlling the narrative
Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Demonization of Putin Media-Military-Industrial Complex Strzok-gate Fifth Column of Neoliberal Globalization Neoliberal corruption Neoliberalism and Christianity
Pathological Russophobia of the US elite Israel lobby IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Disaster capitalism American Exceptionalism Predator state Obama: a yet another Neocon
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Corruption of Regulators Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult  Neo-Theocracy as a drive to simpler society American Imperialism, Transnational Capitalist Class and Globalization of Capitalism Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition
Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism Ukraine: From EuroMaydan to EuroAnschluss Civil war in Ukraine Syria civil war Gas Wars Color revolutions New American Militarism
MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Groupthink Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite Deception as an art form Mayberry Machiavellians Immigration, wage depression and free movement of workers  Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17?
Compradors vs. national bourgeoisie Talleyrand quotes Otto Von Bismarck Quotes Kurt Vonnegut Quotes Somerset Maugham Quotes George Carlin Propaganda Quotes
Overcomplexity of society Paleoconservatism Non-Interventionism Key Myths of Neoliberalism Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

FDR. speech after the election (1936)

polyarchy: A system where the participation of masses of people is limited to voting among one or another representatives of the elite in periodic elections. Between elections the masses are now expected to keep quiet, to go back to life as usual while the elite make decisions and run the world until they can choose between one or another elite another four years later. So polyarchy is a system of elite rule, and a system of elite rule that is little bit more soft-core than the elite rule that we would see under a military dictatorship. But what we see is that under a polyarchy the basic socio-economic system does not change, it does not become democratized.

▬William I. Robinson, Behind the Veil, Minute 1:29:15


Introduction

 

Skepticism is a useful quality that some people naturally possess and other can develop, but it not a panacea.  As such any "Skeptical" or even "Slightly skeptical" paged by definition suffer from "confirmation bias". They postulate that only information that does not correlate well with official position is worth presenting.  The reality is more complex than that.  There is no grantee that such skeptical openion is correct. And in retrospect many such opinion, which look highly plausible in the heat of the day, look naive and unsubstantiated ten years after. Been there, saw that.

Also, while not so lucrative as shilling for government, adhering to anything that differ to government position is too simplistic an approach. Especially in the long run, as historical forces in action at the particular moment are often unknown and not evident to participants of the events.

Those considerations probably should be kept in mind when reading those pages. While skeptical opinion is an excellent tool for destroying propaganda stereotypes it is your own task to integrate them into your new understanding of the situation. Sometime that requires integration under some new paradigm, or rejection based on the new paradigm for particular historical situation.  The problem with history is that the real meaning of events often became clear only a centruty or so after they occure.

The  central for this set of "slightly skeptical" Softpanorama pages is the idea that we live in neoliberal society and will continue to live in it for some type despite the crisis it experiences now. Because there is no viable alternative on the horizon and resurrection of New Deal capitalism is not possible as the countervailing forces that existed to keep financial oligarchy in check dissipated, and part of them (top management of corporations) joined the former enemy. 

At the  same time  I adhere to the working hypothesis that neoliberalism is not sustainable "in the long run" as it tend to weaken, or destroy the very foundation on which the society is based, and first of all human solidarity.  That means  that we live in an unstable society prone to unleashing wars and falling in periodic financial crisis (aka Minsky moments). In this sense Financial crisis of 2008 can be called using Churchill's quote  "This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.

"Neoliberalism is not only the current social system in the USA, but also in most European countries, Japan, Russia and China (with some minor variations). It is a global social system which displayed both New Deal Capitalism and Bolshevism. It is a very interesting ideology,  the second 'man made" ideology after Bolshevism, which which it has several important similarities, see Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich.) The clandestine ideology one that does not dare to speak its name ;-).

The crescendo of Triumphal march of neoliberalism which stated in 1980th was the collapse of the USSR, which happened in 1991, when Soviet elite switched  sides and  preferred to became "entrepreneurs" like their Western counterparts, privatizing  and looting their own country. Communists proved to be very corruptible folk, especially at Nomenklatura level and they like dollars more then their country.  BTW the collapse of Soviet Union was not what neoliberal propaganda teaches us. In essence Soviet elite (aka nomenklatura) simply changed sides. The collapse of Bolshevism both as an ideology and the society paralleled the collapse of New Deal capitalism in the USA. Like large part of the USA management elite, Soviet nomenklatura became turncoats. And it was the alliance of management elite and trade unions that was at the core of New Deal capitalism. As soon as it collapsed the New Deal capitalism was replaced with neoliberalism.

But neoliberalism entered the major crisis in 2008. The net result was so called Secular Stagnation. The "end of cheap oil" is another factor that guarantee the continuation of Secular Stagnation.  See Peak Cheap Energy.  

This site is slightly skeptical as for long-term viability of Neoliberalism as a social system. At the same time as bad as neoliberalism is as a social system was/is in comparison with New Deal Capitalism, that does not mean the coming successor can't be worse.  If there is a way out of this neoliberal mess that was pushed on us since late 70th, I can't see it.

Right now Neoliberalism  is seriously sick and reminds me the condition of Bolshevism after WWII and Stalin death (around 1960th). Bolshevism lasted almost 50 years after 1945, and do not see why neoliberalism can't last much longer then that, as currently there is no viable alternatives. For example, Russia which neocons try to paint as the new "Great Satan" is a yet another neoliberal state. Just with a different flavor of neoliberalism. BTW Trumps "national neoliberalism" (or neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization) is why we have trade war with China (another  neoliberal state) as well with Russia (also a neoliberal  state). So much for "neoliberal International". That's a real crumbling of classic neoliberalism, which proved to to have clay feet. 

But neoliberalism proved to be a sustainable social system which was able to survive its first crisis of 2008 and the collapse of neoliberal ideology.  So it probably can be reformed by increasing the role of the state (that's what Trump national neoliberalism is actually doing, although very inconsistently) and rejecting most elements of "market fundamentalism". Financial institutions now again should be viewed as a special kind of Mafioso structures, which untamed tend to buy the control of the government, and regulated and taxes accordingly.

At the same time neoliberal center (let's say care G7)  needs countries to loot. From 1991 to 2000 xUSSR area was such a region. And G7 prospered. but looting was cut after 2000 and due to this and Minsky moment circumstances due to financialization (which took form of creating and turning public non-profitable IT startups)  the USA experienced short dot-com" crisis in 2008. To escape consequences of this crisis FED stimulated building industry, especially home building was propelled by giving mortgages to anybody with  ward breath and that led to 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. The crisis which severely undermined the neoliberal ideology. That means that after 2008 neoliberalism entered zombie state, much like Soviet communism after WWII.   It became more bloodthirsty and several countries fall victims (Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc)

Due to neoliberalism the USA is no longer a politically stable country. Political animosity after election of Trump reminds a "soft civil war", racial hostility (which is amplified by "identify politics")  is growing, standards of living of the majority of population are either stagnant or fall, neoliberal globalization (with off shoring and outsourcing) as well as automation leave both the young and people "over 50" unemployed. Epidemic of narco addiction in the USA (which claims 70K victims a year) and suicides (which claim approx 47K in 2017) reminds epidemic of alcoholism in the USSR. Both were at least partially caused by desperation of people, who can't get a meaningful well paying job and see no future for themselves and their children.

Under neoliberalism wealth is redistributed up by  several powerful mechanisms and the level of inequality became dangerously high. The working class falls into drugs and anomie. The wars for sustaining and expanding the neoliberal empire and crushing dissenters from neoliberal dogma never end. Meanwhile infrastructure ages and falls behind that of more advanced nations. Anger grows, which was pretty evident in  2016elections -- for many voting for Trump was the way to show middle finger to the neoliberal establishment.  As the pie shrinks, someone have to get less pie. And it is not financial oligarchy, or MIC.  They are pretty well fed at the expense of others. 

Who would thought that 30 years later the winner of the Cold War will enter the phase of decline which in may respects remind many observers  the decline of the USSR ?  And that inability to predict the figure is also a powerful sign to view the pages in this collection with the grain of salt. Please do not take views expressed for granted. No matter how plausible they are now many of them with time will prove to be wrong.  Think and  analyze the situation yourself.  

I would like to repeat again that this decline of neoliberal society started  after the crisis of 2008 (the point at which neoliberal ideology collapsed and was discredited, much like communist ideology was after WWII. Trump election and Brexit were two historical events, after which we can attest that neoliberalism is most probably past its prime and entered the decline stage.  And this decline  increases the polarization of the USA society in which ruling neoliberal elite lost most of its legitimacy in the eyes of common people. This is the problem  which neoliberal elite tried to hide after 2016 Presidential elections under  the smoke screen of Russiagate (which is essence is a color revolution with the goal of deposing Trump). Resulting Neo-McCarthyism hysteria, designed to redirect anger to the external enemy (the scapegoat) and cement the cracks in the neoliberal facade,  is a very dangerous phenomena, which increases the chances of WWIII, the war which can end the human civilization as we know it.   Professor Stephen Cohen has several insightful articles that analyse this danger.

The discreditation of the neoliberal ideology is very similar to the process of discreditation on Bolshevism in the USSR: after 2007 it became clear to the majority of population that it can't secure the rising standard of living for the majority USA population. Only tiny fraction of population (less then top 10%) benefitted from neoliberalism. This is a very similar situation with bolshevism in the USSR, when in late 60th and early 70th it became clear that it can't match the standard of living  of common people in Western European countries (and even most of the East European countries), which remained under the capitalism.

Paradoxically golden days of capitalism in Western Europe and the USA (which lasted till 79th) were possible only because communist states such as USSR existed, as it served as a powerful deterrent against the restoration of the power of financial oligarchy. So it's not surprising that the New Deal Capitalism was very quickly dismantled after the USSR collapse. Moor did its duty, moor can go ;-). In other words, the mere existence of the USSR, while was not threat to the Western countries social system,  served as a powerful inhibitor of cannibalistic instincts of the elite in the USA and Western countries. It was communism that helped to secured the dominance of the New Deal capitalism till early 80th and the period of prosperity for the common people in the USA.

From this point the standard of living of poor and lower middle class in the West started to slide. First slowly from 1990 to 2000 and then at accelerated pace due to outsourcing, capabilities of which were tremendously enhanced by technological revolution, especially the revolution in communication. Also till 2000 (dot com crisis) the slide was masked by tremendous technological progress in computers and communications. Still outside top 10-20% of population, the slide of the standard of living and the income is a fact.  Outsourcing and offshoring killed many meaningful, well paying jobs. The new level of automation, possible with modern computers, killed some more. The possibility of cheap transcontinental communications also killed IT jobs and even many helpdesk type which migrated to India and other countries with cheap and qualified labor force.  So the loss of manufacturing jobs was amplified by the loss of some segments of white collar jobs as well.

While neoliberal think tanks and powerful MSM propaganda machine (in which the word neoliberalism is still a taboo) now try to contain damage, the fatal flaws of neoliberal ideology after 2008 financial collapse are apparent and can't be hidden. The key neoliberal country and the key enforcer of neoliberalism over the globe -- the USA -- entered "secular stagnation" period in economics. It is also is trying to fend off the challenge that China economic growth presents to its world dominance.

Brexit and the election of Trump mean that the protest against neoliberal globalization entered  the political mainstream in the USA in 2016: Hillary Clinton suffered her electoral fiasco because she was the proponent of neoliberal status quo, the proponent  of neoliberal globalization and the wars for expansion of neoliberal empire, the candidate who promised to kick the neoliberal can down the road. 

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

  Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

From the Chance for Peace address delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953. (Regarded as one of the finest speeches of Eisenhower's presidency.)

Trump should probably be viewed as a new stage of this decline of American republic (which for a long time is neither democracy not a republic, but a warmongering empire, a new social system of "inverted totalitarism" as Sheldon Wolin called it ). Some trapping of previous "New Deal style" democracy remained, but most of New Deal achievement  such as using trade unions as countervailing social force to check the greed of capital owners was perverted. During elections Trump used to have anti-globalization inclinations -- anathema to neoliberals -- and that's why he was so viciously attacked after he has won; but those inclinations almost completely disappeared after the election. Trumpism which sometimes is defined as "economic nationalism" (or national neoliberalism, if you wish ;-) includes the following (partially intersecting) elements which are anathema to classic neoliberalism:

  1. Rejection of neoliberal globalization. Use of tariffs to protect domestic manufacturing.
  2. Rejection on neocon dominance in the US foreign policy. Many Americans view neocons as traitors who serves interests  of MIC and Israel at the expense of bottom 80% of the US population.  The same is true about "liberal interventionists" like Hillary, Obama. They are just another favor of neocons.
  3. Rejection of unrestricted immigration. Vigorous persecution and deportation of illegal immigrants and measures to block their entry. Enforcement of border control   (Mexican wall, etc)
  4. Fight against suppression of wages by multinationals via cheap imported labor. Rejection of the idea of global labor market and unrestricted outsourcing of labor to foreign countries. Legal measures against multinationals who tried to offload major part of workforce abroad. 
  5. Fight against the elimination of meaningful, well-paying jobs in the USA via outsourcing and offshoring of manufacturing (which is the essence of neoliberal globalization). Attempts to reverse this trend.
  6. Rejection of wars for enlargement and sustaining of neoliberal empire, especially NATO role as global policemen and wars for Washington client Israel in the Middle East;
  7. Détente with Russia;
  8. More pragmatic relations with Israel and suppression of Israeli agents of influence in congress and government (AIPAC and so called dual citizens problem;
  9. Attempt to reverse the offshoring of manufacturing and labor to China and India, as well as addressing the problem of trade deficit;
  10. Rejection of total surveillance on all citizens;
  11. Rejection of rampant militarism and overblown Pentagon and intelligence agencies budgets. The cut of military expenses to one third or less of the current level and concentrating on revival on national infrastructure, education, and science.
  12. Abandonment of maintenance of the "sole superpower" status and global neoliberal empire for more practical and less costly "semi-isolationist" foreign policy concentrating on technological lead in areas where it still exists;
  13. Closing of unnecessary foreign military bases and cutting aid to the current clients.
  14. Rejection of identity politics. No to "unisex bathroom" and other perversions.  No to rampant, destructive  feminism.

Of course, the notion of "Trumpism" is fuzzy and different people might include some additional issues and disagree with some listed here, but the core probably remains. Please note that Trump was emasculated by the "deep state" and turned into neocon in foreign policy just three-four months into his presidency.  The only action which is along this lines so far was his decision to withdraw from Syria. Whether  it will be implemented remains  to be seen.  His appointments directly contradict those 14 items. People such as Bolton, Pompeo, Haley are anathema to such a program.

Still the fact remains: in 2016 financial oligarchy not only failed to put the desired puppet into White House, but was forced to unleash a color revolution against new POTUS ( Russiagate witch hunt is only the tip of the iceberg in this sense) to put him into compliance, or depose him. Neoliberals and neocons also failed with their color revolution as Brennan machinations (As Professor Stephen Cohen noted Russiagate should be renamed to Intelgate) with Steele dossier backfired that they got under fire from Trump supporters.  And both Brennan and FBI Mayberry Machiavellians suddenly from predators became a pray.  Neoliberal Democrats (Clinton wing of Democratic Party, of DemoRats) while managed to preserve political power over the party of suppress Sunders supporters, overplayed their hand with Russiagate and neo-McCarthyism campaign (which was designed to rally nation around the flag) and might face consequences during midterm elections.  Their only hope is help from the Grand Inquisitor, appointed as a part of coup d'état against Trump launched by intelligence agencies (the core of the "deep state"), Mr. Mueller.

Neocons are actually a cancer of the US society. May be even terminal cancer. In any case they are look like extremely destructive force, MIC lobbyists without any principles, or consciousness.  In other words bunch of highly paid psychopaths as people without consciousness are called.

This is not the first time the "Deep State" (read intelligence agencies+Pentagon+Department of State) in alliance with  neocons and "liberal interventionists" tried to depose elected president. JFK was probably the first, Nixon was probably the second (the key role of CIA in his removal now became apparent) and now Trump might be the third.

What is new in the current situation is the complete disappearance of anti-war forces and the total conversion under Hillary of Democratic Party into another War Party, the party of militant globalists (which can be a perfect new home for neocons).  Clinton wing of the Democratic Party doesn't want to admit she lost the election because neoliberalism became unpopular among the US electorate.  At the same time "the fifth branch of government" -- the intelligence services proved to be a formidable political force on the US political arena, able to block any attempts to stop "feeding and care" of military industrial complex (which requires having a scapegoat like Russia or China). And for this particular reason "media-military-intelligence-financial" complex block any even feeble attempts of rapprochement or cooperation with Russia.

The country now resembles military camp with war propaganda on all major TV channel and newspapers broadcasted 24 x7.  But the cost of "guns instead of butter" policies are growing: the cost of post 9/11 War project  approaches  $5.6 trillion.  those trillions were stolen from ordinary Americans under false pretences (As President Eisenhower noted "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." If even small part of those funds were invested within the country we would have high speed trains between all major cities, or at least might not be having frequent deadly crashes of Amtrak trains. Among other useful things like better roads, more fuel efficient cars, more and better bridges and airports.

Nostalgia for New Deal Capitalism

While I am openly nostalgic for the New Deal capitalism, I understand perfectly well that currently, there is no viable new alternative to neoliberalism. First of all because as in late 70th "managerial class" became yet another turncoat and allied with capital owners, against workers and middle class.  That happened not only in the USA, but in the USSR too (that's why the USSR collapsed; in this case USSR  "managerial class" (nomenklatura) allied and was partially bought by the USA capital owners)

Still the New Deal remain the most humane form of capitalism invented, and our analysis of neoliberalism has distinct "pro New Deal capitalism" bias. But we need to understand that the restoration of the New Deal capitalism looks impossible because the social base of it -- the alliance of corporate management and trade union leaders, was destroyed due to the defection of corporate managers to the side of capital owners. This realignment of political power made possible the restoration of the rule of the financial oligarchy, which happened in the USA in late 1980th.

The new coalition of anti-globalization forces that emerged during Trump election campaign is still pretty amophic political force and is unable to force changes in the society, as easy emasculation of President Trump by the Deep State proved to all of us.  But hopefully it will grow and became better organized politically whether within the Republican Party of outside of it.

Neoliberal regime as the social system under which we live

And yes, my friends, like Molière's play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme character, who was surprised and delighted to learn that he has been speaking prose all his life without knowing it, all of us are living under neoliberal regime at least since 1980, most probably without knowing it. 

Current events are much easier to analyze if you use the framework of analyzing neoliberalism as a social system proposed in those pages.  Neoliberalism as a social system replaced the notion of Political party with the collection of neoliberal think tanks, a new class of "professional revolutionaries" who are mercenary political army that fight for the victory of neoliberalism and comprise kind of global Neoliberal International. On interesting nuance is that the idea of "professional revolutionaries" was one of the key innovations  of Bolsheviks and Trotskyites. And we can view neoliberalism as some kind of "Trotskyism for rich." In this  sense this social system is almost as far from real democracy as the USSR one party system. It is something Sheldon Wolin called "inverted totalitarism". In certain aspects it is even more anti-democratic than the capitalism of the Gilded Age with which it has some uncanny similarities (enforcement of the "Law of Jungles" in labor market by suppression of trade unions and "atomization" of individuals as agent who sells themselves on some kind of marketplace, not as human being) .   As Pope Francis noted neoliberalism in anti-Christian system that despise and demonize poor blaming them as incapable to provide "value" to the marketplace, and ignoring their value as a human beings:

... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

Another interesting aspect of neoliberalism is the existence of so-called "neoliberal rationality" (compare with the "proletarian mindset" of Bolshevism ). As well as the extent of brainwashing of population into this rationality, especially at the university level (via neoclassical economics). As well as  the level and the sophistication of the use of propaganda which includes a set of neoliberal myths very similar to what were created by Bolshevism. For example, the neoliberal myths of "Free trade", "free market" (why not "fair" in both cases?) , "labor market", "human capital", etc.  In reality, the key idea behind this Potemkin Village-style ideological facade is the redistribution of wealth up toward top 1%  (or even more to the top 0.01%).  Exactly like was the case with Bolshevism, which while proclaiming the false facade of "dictatorship of proletariat" mercilessly suppressed unions and kept 90% of population at the standard of living much lower than in Western and even Eastern Europe. Although not close to starvation which is the ideal of neoliberal "plantation economy" (implemented, for example, by Wal-Mart, with its below subsistence wages), with atomized and isolated from each other "debt slaves."

In other words, there are some striking similarities between Soviet nomenklatura and neoliberal oligarchy, similarities that no objective scholar studying neoliberalism  can ignore. See also Two-Party System as Polyarchy -- "the first after the post system" proved to be ideal for neoliberal regime as it allows financial oligarchy preselect  candidates from both Parties. Effectively  turning the election into expensive staged event -- a grandiose political spectacle, if you wish. but with predicted outcome as stage directors who perform casting are members of a close circle of neoliberal elite -- mostly financial oligarchy.  It could have been adopted by Soviet nomenklatura as well, as it very effectively prevents any real challenges to the existing political regime by pre-selection of two candidates running to the given position and two parties, which are essentially a "soft" and "hard" factions of a single party of financial oligarchy. 

The level of "synchronicity" in coverage of foreign events by neoliberal MSM also reminds me the level typical for Soviet Union. With all MSM repeating the State Department talking points and in general going out their skin be politically correct stooges of the neoliberal regime.

Yet another very interesting aspect of neoliberal regime is the level of public apathy, limited  public discourse and even vocabulary (try to find the word "neoliberal" in WaPo ;-)  as well as epidemic of narco-addition (especially in Rust Belt, which is more severely hit by neoliberal globalization with its offshoring and outsourcing). Which is not that dissimilar to the epidemic of alcoholism under Bolshevism. When common people see no future for themselves and their children they tend to engage in self-destructing behaviour.   Sheldon Wolin called this approach to suppressing of dissent "inverted totalitarism."

What is really interesting is that the term "neoliberalism"  has the status of a semi-taboo in the USA, and seldom can be found in articles published by the USA MSM, due to some kind of "silence" pact ;-). the intent of this set of pages intent is to fight this trend and present a "slightly skeptical" view of this important social phenomenon.  

It is also important to understand that the level of hostility to Trump by the "deep state" is directly connected with three main (and very quickly betrayed) promises that Trump made during elections:

  1. No more neoliberal globalization with its offshoring and outsourcing of jobs and industries;
  2. No more wars for expansion of neoliberal empire;
  3. Jobs for all Americans

All three were the direct revision of neoliberal ideology postulates, as well as departure from the "neoliberal rationality".  That's why the counter-attack of both the "Deep State" and neoliberal MSM on Trump was so vicious, with well coordinated set of leaks, appointment of Special Prosecutor (on fake pretext), re-launch of McCarthyism, and campaign of demonization of Trump and his administration in media.  In the level of outrage that writers of Pravda during Stalin "Show Trials" would find  completely in line with their own writings -- they so vividly resembles the attacks on "revisionists" in the USSR during Stalinism, that you may wish to revisit books devoted to those trials  ;-).

Most people do not understand that putsch against Trump is actually tried and true "color revolution" regime change attempt -- the  first color revolution launched within the USA

What is new in putsch of intelligence services and neoliberal establishment against Trump is the strong presence of classic elements of color revolutions technology. Which were for the first time used within the USA by "neoliberal nomenklatura" (and first of all the elite which represents Clinton wing of Democratic Party)  to preserve power. Some people call it Purple revolution but the most common name is now Russiagate. The ultimate goal is to remove Trump from power, and if this is not possible to emasculate his for the next four years. Some elements of this technology were previously used probably to depose Nixon. Watergate also involved intelligence agencies (the core of the Deep State) activities directed at the removal of the sitting President. And going back JFK was probably the first President removed by intelligence services.  

Initially color revolution technologies were designed  to topple "unfriendly" to neoliberalism regimes in xUSSR space and "resource nationalists" in the Middle East (as well as against China in Hong Cong). That suggests that after the election of 2016 neoliberals felt a real threat from Trump "revisionism".

Deployment of those technologies does not spell well with the social stability because delegitimization of elected government has lasting negative effects. Just look at Ukraine which was the victim of the most recent "color revolution" experiment. They have now two breakaway regions and the drop of the standard of living of population around 200% or more.  The country also now is a debt slave. In other words when the gin of color revolution is out of the bottle it is not that easy to put it back and the events can turn in the direction not anticipated by the originators of such a color revolution.

See also Neoliberalism


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It's easy to pretend to be a great strategist,
while sitting on the top of the hill,
at the safe distance from the battle in the valley

-- Shota Rustavelli (1172–1216)

[Sep 18, 2019] Trump proved to be a weak politician who is too cozy with the Isreal lobby. He illegally removed the U.S. from the Iran deal and is now boxed into escalation that has no good outcome.

Brian not to be confused with the Inner Party member in 1984. This is just a coincidence.
Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Circe , Sep 18 2019 14:19 utc | 146
The U.S. just increased sanctions on Iran again. Bad move.

Trump is stupid. He illegally removed the U.S. from the Iran deal and is now boxed into escalation that has no good outcome...

[Sep 18, 2019] Iran is a coherent nation with long history and proved ability to defend itslef even at the cost of enormous sacrifices. One hopes that the Pentagon can understand that any attack on Iran coalition will be met with a coordinated and unreserved response by Iran and all its allies.

Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Grieved , Sep 18 2019 2:54 utc | 80

@b - "Iran has thereby plausible deniability when attacks like the recent one on Abquiq happen. That Iran supplied drones with 1,500 kilometer reach to its allies in Yemen means that its allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq and elsewhere have access to similar means."

I read the Tyler Rogoway WarZone article you linked to, and it was the first time I'd seen the concept that Iran "has built a plausible deniability environment" for itself, but I think Rogoway is missing a serious point. If Iran has such deniability, I don't think this exists by contrivance. I think the truth of the situation has created such plausible deniability, if in fact such a thing even exists, or if such a thing is even desired by Iran or any of its allies.

I would like to offer a more nuanced view of the relationship between Iran and its allies. Specifically regarding your view that Iran's allies are "willing to act on Iran's behalf should the need arise."

I get the impression that it's more a case that all these allies see themselves in the same existential position, and have developed, and are continuing to refine, an "all for one and one for all" approach to the regional security of all the sovereign allies.

Sharmine Narwani explained this very thing in her recent interview with Ross Ashcroft, where she said that if one of the allies is attacked by the US or Israel, all of the allies will join in immediately and without reservation, because for each of them it is the same existential threat:
What's the real plan with Iran?

And the interview you link to by Nader Talebzadeh with IRGC General Amir Ali Hajizadeh concludes with the general's statement that "...in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen; now Muslims are all a coalition standing next to each other".
How likely is the possibility of a military conflict between Iran and the US?

~~

I'm not trying to split hairs here, but it strikes me as important to note that these countries have moved on from being isolated, and are in fact in a coalition, albeit still coalescing. Their militaries have trained together and established joint command centers in recent times.

As the general explained, when the threat of attack by the US seemed imminent - at the time Iran downed the drone - Iran was fully prepared to attack and destroy several US bases. One hopes that the Pentagon can understand that any attack on one of these members of the coalition will be met with a coordinated and unreserved response by all allies.

Given such a geopolitical situation now throughout the region, the concept of Iran's having "plausible deniability" for other countries to act on its behalf seems too narrow a view. And this is why all the fevered discussion about who "owns" the Houthi strike is missing the main strategic point that the whole region "owns" it - and why it is sufficient that the Houthi did in fact act alone, but not alone, because none of these forces is now alone. It is, one gathers, a brotherly coalition that has formed and is becoming yet stronger

So it need not be the case that everything flows from Iran, or revolves around Iran. The whole region is now the steel trap not to step on.

donkeytale , Sep 18 2019 3:16 utc | 81

Grieved @ 80

Excellent point very well stated.

[Sep 18, 2019] Here is an article that looks at how American voters feel about Donald Trump's approach to Iran

Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Sally Snyder , Sep 17 2019 19:58 utc | 5

Here is an article that looks at how American voters feel about Donald Trump's approach to Iran:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2019/07/main-street-america-and-another-war-in.html

Should the warrior who currently inhabits the position of Secretary of State use his influence to persuade Donald Trump to enter what would likely be a very lengthy war of attrition in Iran, it may prove to be a very costly move for the Republican Party in November of 2020 given the level of support for such actions among Main Street Americans.

[Sep 18, 2019] How Russiagate Replaced Analysis of the 2016 Election

American Herald Tribune
An honest and accurate analysis of the 2016 election is not just an academic exercise. It is very relevant to the current election campaign. Yet over the past two years, Russiagate has dominated media and political debate and largely replaced a serious analysis of the factors leading to Trump's victory. The public has been flooded with the various elements of the story that Russia intervened and Trump colluded with them. The latter accusation was negated by the Mueller Report but elements of the Democratic Party and media refuse to move on. Now it's the lofty but vague accusations of "obstruction of justice" along with renewed dirt digging. To some it is a "constitutional crisis", but to many it looks like more partisan fighting.

Russiagate has distracted from pressing issues

Russiagate has distracted attention and energy away from crucial and pressing issues such as income inequality, the housing and homeless crisis, inadequate healthcare, militarized police, over-priced college education, impossible student loans and deteriorating infrastructure. The tax structure was changed to benefit wealthy individuals and corporations with little opposition. The Trump administration has undermined environmental laws, civil rights, national parks and women's equality while directing ever more money to military contractors. Working class Americans are struggling with rising living costs, low wages, student debt, and racism. They constitute the bulk of the military which is spread all over the world, sustaining continuing occupations in war zones including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and parts of Africa. While all this has been going on, the Democratic establishment and much of the media have been focused on Russiagate, the Mueller Report, and related issues.

Immediately after the 2016 Election

In the immediate wake of the 2016 election there was some forthright analysis. Bernie Sanders said , "What Trump did very effectively is tap the angst and the anger and the hurt and pain that millions of working class people are feeling. What he said is, ' I Donald Trump am going to be a champion of the working class... I know you are working longer hours for lower wages, seeing your jobs going to China, can't afford childcare, can't afford to send your kids to college. I Donald Trump alone can solve these problems.' ...What you have is a guy who utilized the media, manipulated the media very well. He is an entertainer, he is a professional at that. But I will tell you that I think there needs to be a profound change in the way the Democratic Party does business. It is not good enough to have a liberal elite. I come from the white working class and I am deeply humiliated that the Democratic Party cannot talk to the people where I came from. "

MORE...

Days after the election, the Washington Post published an op-ed titled "Hillary Clinton Lost. Bernie Sanders could have won. We chose the wrong candidate." The author analyzed the results saying, "Donald Trump's stunning victory is less surprising when we remember a simple fact: Hillary Clinton is a deeply unpopular politician." The writer analyzed why Sanders would have prevailed against Trump and predicted "there will be years of recriminations."

Russiagate replaced Recrimination

But instead of analysis, the media and Democrats have emphasized foreign interference. There is an element of self-interest in this narrative. As reported in "Russian Roulette" (p127), when the Clinton team first learned that Wikileaks was going to release damaging Democratic National Party emails in June 2016, they "brought in outside consultants to plot a PR strategy for handling the news of the hack ... the story would advance a narrative that benefited the Clinton campaign and the Democrats: The Russians were interfering in the US election, presumably to assist Trump."

After losing the election, Team Clinton doubled down on this PR strategy. As described in the book "Shattered" (p. 395) the day after the election campaign managers assembled the communication team " to engineer the case that the election wasn't entirely on the up and up .... they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument. "

This narrative has been remarkably effective in supplanting critical review of the election.

One Year After the Election

The Center for American Progress (CAP) was founded by John Podesta and is closely aligned with the Democratic Party. In November 2017 they produced an analysis titled "Voter Trends in 2016: A Final Examination" . Interestingly, there is not a single reference to Russia. Key conclusions are that "it is critical for Democrats to attract more support from the white non-college-educated voting bloc" and "Democrats must go beyond the 'identity politics' versus 'economic populism' debate to create a genuine cross-racial, cross-class coalition ..." It suggests that Wall Street has the same interests as Main Street and the working class.

A progressive team produced a very different analysis titled Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis . They did this because "the (Democratic) party's national leadership has shown scant interest in addressing many of the key factors that led to electoral disaster." The report analyzes why the party turnout was less than expected and why traditional Democratic Party supporters are declining. It includes recommendations to end the party's undemocratic practices, expand voting rights and counter voter suppression. The report contains details and specific recommendations lacking in the CAP report. It includes an overall analysis which says "The Democratic Party should disentangle itself - ideologically and financially - from Wall Street, the military-industrial complex and other corporate interests that put profits ahead of public needs."

Two Years After the Election

In October 2018, the progressive team produced a follow-up report titled "Autopsy: One Year Later" . It says, "The Democratic Party has implemented modest reforms, but corporate power continues to dominate the party."

In a recent phone interview, the editor of that report, Norman Solomon, said it appears some in the Democratic Party establishment would rather lose the next election to Republicans than give up control of the party.

What really happened in 2016?

Beyond the initial critiques and "Autopsy" research, there has been little discussion, debate or lessons learned about the 2016 election. Politics has been dominated by Russiagate.

Why did so many working class voters switch from Obama to Trump? A major reason is because Hillary Clinton is associated with Wall Street and the economic policies of her husband President Bill Clinton. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), promoted by Bill Clinton, resulted in huge decline in manufacturing jobs in swing states such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Of course this would influence their thinking and votes. Hillary Clinton's support for the Trans Pacific Partnership was another indication of her policies.

What about the low turnout from the African American community? Again, the lack of enthusiasm is rooted in objective reality. Hillary Clinton is associated with "welfare reform" promoted by her husband. According to this study from the University of Michigan, " As of the beginning of 2011, about 1.46 million U.S. households with about 2.8 million children were surviving on $2 or less in income per person per day in a given month... The prevalence of extreme poverty rose sharply between 1996 and 2011. This growth has been concentrated among those groups that were most affected by the 1996 welfare reform. "

Over the past several decades there has been a huge increase in prison incarceration due to increasingly strict punishments and mandatory prison sentences. Since the poor and working class have been the primary victims of welfare and criminal justice "reforms" initiated or sustained through the Clinton presidency, it's understandable why they were not keen on Hillary Clinton. The notion that low turnout was due to African Americans being unduly influenced by Russian Facebook posts is seen as "bigoted paternalism" by blogger Teodrose Fikremanian who says, " The corporate recorders at the NY Times would have us believe that the reason African-Americans did not uniformly vote for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats is because they were too dimwitted to think for themselves and were subsequently manipulated by foreign agents. This yellow press drivel is nothing more than propaganda that could have been written by George Wallace ."

How Clinton became the Nominee

Since the 2016 election there has been little public discussion of the process whereby Hillary Clinton became the Democratic Party nominee. It's apparent she was pre-ordained by the Democratic Party elite. As exposed in the DNC emails, there was bias and violations of the party obligations at the highest levels. On top of that, it should now be clear that the pundits, pollsters and election experts were out of touch, made poor predictions and decisions.

Bernie Sanders would have been a much stronger candidate. He would have won the same party loyalists who voted for Clinton. His message attacking Wall Street would have resonated with significant sections of the working class and poor who were unenthusiastic (to say the least) about Clinton. An indication is that in critical swing states such as Wisconsin and Michigan Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary race.

Clinton had no response for Trump's attacks on multinational trade agreements and his false promises of serving the working class. Sanders would have had vastly more appeal to working class and minorities. His primary campaign showed his huge appeal to youth and third party voters. In short, it's likely that Sanders would have trounced Trump. Where is the accountability for how Clinton ended up as the Democratic Party candidate?

The Relevance of 2016 to 2020

The 2016 election is highly relevant today. Already we see the same pattern of establishment bias and "horse race" journalism which focuses on fund-raising, polls and elite-biased "electability" instead of dealing with real issues, who has solutions, who has appeal to which groups.

Mainstream media and pundits are already promoting Joe Biden. Syndicated columnist EJ Dionne, a Democratic establishment favorite, is indicative. In his article "Can Biden be the helmsman who gets us past the storm? " Dionne speaks of the "strength he (Biden) brings" and the "comfort he creates". In the same vein, Andrew Sullivan pushes Biden in his article "Why Joe Biden Might be the Best to Beat Trump" . Sullivan thinks that Biden has appeal in the working class because he joked about claims he is too 'hands on'. But while Biden may be tight with AFL-CIO leadership, he is closely associated with highly unpopular neoliberal trade deals which have resulted in manufacturing decline.

The establishment bias for Biden is matched by the bias against Democratic Party candidates who directly challenge Wall Street and US foreign policy. On Wall Street, that would be Bernie Sanders. On foreign policy, that is Tulsi Gabbard. With a military background Tulsi Gabbard has broad appeal, an inclusive message and a uniquely sharp critique of US "regime change" foreign policy. She calls out media pundits like Fareed Zakaria for goading Trump to invade Venezuela. In contrast with Rachel Maddow taunting John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to be MORE aggressive, Tulsi Gabbard has been denouncing Trump's collusion with Saudi Arabia and Israel's Netanyahu, saying it's not in US interests. Gabbard's anti-interventionist anti-occupation perspective has significant support from US troops. A recent poll indicates that military families want complete withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria. It seems conservatives have become more anti-war than liberals.

This points to another important yet under-discussed lesson from 2016: a factor in Trump's victory was that he campaigned as an anti-war candidate against the hawkish Hillary Clinton. As pointed out here , " Donald Trump won more votes from communities with high military casualties than from similar communities which suffered fewer casualties. "

Instead of pointing out that Trump has betrayed his anti-war campaign promises, corporate media (and some Democratic Party outlets) seem to be undermining the candidate with the strongest anti-war message. An article at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) says, "Corporate media target Gabbard for her Anti-Interventionism, a word they can barely pronounce" .

Russiagate has distracted most Democrats from analyzing how they lost in 2016. It has given them the dubious belief that it was because of foreign interference. They have failed to analyze or take stock of the consequences of DNC bias, the preference for Wall Street over working class concerns, and the failure to challenge the military industrial complex and foreign policy based on 'regime change' interventions.

There needs to be more analysis and lessons learned from the 2016 election to avoid a repeat of that disaster. As indicated in the Autopsy , there needs to be a transparent and fair campaign for nominee based on more than establishment and Wall Street favoritism. There also needs to be consideration of which candidates reach beyond the partisan divide and can energize and advance the interests of the majority of Americans rather than the elite. The most crucial issues and especially US military and foreign policy need to be seriously debated.

Blaming an outside power is a good way to prevent self analysis and positive change. It's gone on far too long.

[Sep 18, 2019] Joe Biden Is Problematic by Charles M. Blow

Sep 18, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

David NYC Sept. 16 Times Pick

What in the world have Democrats done to make things better for blacks? Look at Chicago and Baltimore, and everywhere for that matter. Trump is by far the better choice if you're black. Democrats are far, far more concerned with illegals immigrants, and bringing in as many as possible and pumping huge amounts of dollars into supporting them. So many inner city blacks now recognize this, and realize there's only so much to go around, and they are being left behind. How would blacks fare better under Biden? He was with Obama for eight years, and nothing improved, so how in the world will it be any different? Blacks will continue to be forgotten with the Dems' insistence on welcoming as many illegal immigrants as possible. Employment for blacks under Trump is at its highest level ever. That will regress if/when a Democrat is elected.
Thomas Field Dallas Sept. 16 Times Pick
Ironically, this reads like an attack on white people for something they had nothing to with, either because they weren't born yet, or like the majority of whites are not racist and don't support white supremacy. Is racism still a problem? Sure, but to imply zero progress on race since 1860, is disingenuous at best. I have lived in Dallas Texas since 1958, a city as racist as it gets. There's a famous pic of laborer Allen Brooks hanging from an Elk's Club arch in the middle of downtown in 1910. As a kid I remember my mild mannered Grandfather remarking in amazement as we watched American Bandstand..."I can't get over it, blacks and whites dancing together". He didn't mean with each other, he was shocked black couples were dancing on the same floor as whites. Even at eight years, I was appalled at his regressive, antiquated racial views. It never occurred to me to be racist. When I was a teen I transferred out of a 100% white high school to attend the Booker T. Washington Arts Magnet in Dallas, Alma-Mater of Nora Jones and Erykah Badu. Point is, these things are literally not as simple as black and white. I can honestly say I've never met a straight-up white supremacist in my life and strive to treat everyone as individuals based on the brotherhood of man and mutual respect. I think most white people would love to settle the race issue once and for all but don't know how, short of getting in a time machine and undoing everything from the slave trade forward.
Jon T Los Angeles Sept. 16 Times Pick
The left doesn't seem to realize that the wokest candidate and the electoral college are mutually exclusive. Hillary barely lost the rust belt and was saying woke things but lost badly with working class white voters who voted for Obama in 2008. Why? Look at his message - it wasn't atone for your grand parents sins. It was I see one America. Which sounds better (stepping out of the bubble might help your hearing). Trump is so beatable but the bubble has become so hardened that the left may just hand him re-election as they are appearing to lose complete touch with the electoral college demographics. Completely shunning white working class votes (something Obama definitely did not do) is folly. 9 Replies
Ellen Blanchette Greenfield, MA Sept. 16 Times Pick
Joe Biden's main problem is he is stuck in the past. His view of cures for poverty and the learning gap between black and white students is stuck in old research that has a clear racial bias. The things he said in that long rambling answer suffer from the view that somehow black parents lack vocabulary and cultural enrichment when nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, black culture has enriched white culture through art and music, language, fiction, poetry, and so much more. Children growing up in poverty suffer many obstacles to good health and education. For example, we learned a long time ago that many children come to school hungry, which is why we have breakfast and free lunch programs for children whose family incomes are below poverty level. A hungry child will not learn. Nor will an abused child, or one who is homeless, or alone in life. To make this a racial thing instead of a poverty issue is a mistake. Biden may still have the support of the older black community but I doubt his language will go over well with the younger voters, black or white. I suppose I could be considered a white liberal and am in fact the same age as Joe but his language offends my ear. And he reminds me of what held Hillary back, an attitude that he can lean on his past history, "You know me, look at my record." This is a huge mistake. He needs to say who he is today, and what he would do as president. 11 Replies
Jessica West Sept. 16 Times Pick
The prospect of Biden as the Democratic nominee has got me already feeling disillusioned, demoralized, and pessimistic. The Democrats keep missing the mark. Voting their fears. Look what happened in 2008 and 2018 when they voted their hopes. I would love to see a poll of this hypothetical: who would you vote for if you knew they would win. Pretend they will be automatically installed. Whose platform, whose values and vision and experience and leadership do you want to try as the voice of our country for 4 years? I seriously doubt the answer would be Joe Biden! Remember people, everyone was too afraid to vote for Bernie last time. Hilary was the 'safe' one who was 'more likely to beat dung- for-brains'. And here we are, doing it again. 25 Replies
Tom San Jose Sept. 16 Times Pick
I can't help but recall the 1964 Democratic Convention when I hear Biden or hear of his comments. For those who are not familiar with that convention, this was still during legal segregation (yes, it was the law). A group that named itself the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) was formed (it's a long story) and challenged the seating of the formal, segregated and segregationist, Mississippi delegation to the Democratic convention. Liberal icons Hubert Humphrey (1968 Democratic loser to Nixon) and Walter Mondale (1984 loser to Reagan) were among the most prominent Dems that refused to seat the MFDP and seated the racist delegation. It is out of that tradition that Biden issues. The fact that Biden can't speak coherently about his record is because of what the content of Democratic Party politics has been. He really doesn't see any problem with it. Yes, Trump is a fascist - be honest and say it, because it's true. But really, is a party with "leaders" like Biden an answer to Trump?
Deborah Manhattan Sept. 16 Times Pick
I'm a black voter and Joe Biden's campaign and his political history are very problematic for me. Secondly, every political organization that has requested my choice of Democratic presidential candidates has not once shown Biden leading, once the votes are tallied; it's always either Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders leading these polls. Moreover, the "electability" mantra is pure public relations, centrist nonsense. Of course Donald Trump is a dystopian horror show, but running a "not-for-primetime" candidate like Joe Biden is just asking for another four years of Trump. Has this country learned nothing from 2016?
Nathan B. Toronto Sept. 16 Times Pick
Let's be honest about Joe Biden: The only reason Obama selected him to be his VP was to assuage the fears of much of white America. He served a specific purpose related to anxieties about demographics and race. He was not selected because he was a great legislator, a great moral voice, a foreign policy expert (Iraq war, anyone?), or a brilliant politician. He was selected to be VP precisely because he had a checkered past on race, showing that Obama, who so much of white America suspected of being a radical, would overlook and would certainly not confront white America's racism. There is absolutely no compelling reason for Joe Biden to be president, except to continue to appeal to forces in American society that need to be cast away. If he is the nominee, he might win, he might not. But he will be a disappointment.

[Sep 18, 2019] DOJ Sued For Records Of FBI Agent Who Helped Circulate Steele Dossier

Looks like Cheney protégé Victoria Nuland played an important role in Steele dossier saga.
I wonder why female neocons are so nasty. Is this this suppressed "Inferiority complex" or what ?
Notable quotes:
"... A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit was filed against the US Justice Department on Wednesday by legal watchdog group Judicial Watch , ..."
"... According to August 2018 testimony by the DOJ's former #4 official Bruce Ohr, dossier author Christopher Steele gave two memos from his salacious, Clinton-funded opposition research to Gaeta. ..."
"... According to the Epoch Times ..."
"... For this visit, the FBI sought permission from the office of Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland, who had been the recipient of many of Steele's reports, gave permission for the more formal meeting. On July 5, 2016, Gaeta traveled to London and met with Steele at the offices of Steele's firm, Orbis. ..."
"... Victoria Nuland???? Oh, waits, that Nuland. The qwm who orchestrated the Ukraine mess. Now I've got it, whew, thought I was losing my memory there for a bit. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit was filed against the US Justice Department on Wednesday by legal watchdog group Judicial Watch , seeking records concerning FBI Special Agent Michael Gaeta - an agency Legal Attaché in Rome who helped circulate the infamous Steele Dossier.

George Papadopoulos @GeorgePapa19

Expect the name Michael Gaeta to become a household name very soon regarding spygate.

The JW lawsuit seeks:

According to August 2018 testimony by the DOJ's former #4 official Bruce Ohr, dossier author Christopher Steele gave two memos from his salacious, Clinton-funded opposition research to Gaeta.

In the July 30 meeting, Chris Steele also mentioned something about the doping -- you know, one of the doping scandals. And he also mentioned, I believe -- and, again, this is based on my review of my notes -- that he had provided Mr. Gaeta with two reports "

The only thing I recall him mentioning is that he had provided two of his reports to Special Agent Gaeta.

According to the Epoch Times , Gaeta was authorized by former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to meet with Steele at his London office in order to obtain dossier materials.

The purpose of the London visit was clear. Steele was personally handing the first memo in his dossier to Gaeta for ultimate transmission back to the FBI and the State Department.

For this visit, the FBI sought permission from the office of Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland, who had been the recipient of many of Steele's reports, gave permission for the more formal meeting. On July 5, 2016, Gaeta traveled to London and met with Steele at the offices of Steele's firm, Orbis.

The FBI's scramble to vet the dossier's claims are well known. According to an April, 2017 NYT report , the FBI agreed to pay Steele $50,000 for "solid corroboration" of his claims . Steele was apparently unable to produce satisfactory evidence - and was not paid for his efforts :

Mr. Steele met his F.B.I. contact in Rome in early October, bringing a stack of new intelligence reports. One, dated Sept. 14, said that Mr. Putin was facing "fallout" over his apparent involvement in the D.N.C. hack and was receiving "conflicting advice" on what to do.

The agent said that if Mr. Steele could get solid corroboration of his reports, the F.B.I. would pay him $50,000 for his efforts, according to two people familiar with the offer. Ultimately, he was not paid . - NYT

Still, the FBI used the dossier to obtain the FISA warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page - while the document itself was heavily shopped around to various media outlets . The late Sen. John McCain provided a copy to Former FBI Director James Comey, who already had a version, and briefed President Trump on the salacious document. Comey's briefing to Trump was then used by CNN and BuzzFeed to justify reporting on and publishing the dossier following the election.

" The FBI is covering up its role in the Russiagate hoax ," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Judicial Watch has had to fight the FBI 'tooth and nail' for every scrap of information about the illicit targeting of President Trump."


Herp and Derp , 1 minute ago link

Great news that Ted is finally (after 30+ years of discussion) introducing a term limits amendment.

Along with term limits for legislature, we need to kill the deep state as well. The government needs to be reduced significantly. I say we go back to spoils. If a federal role is needed, then it must be hired/re-hired by the whitehouse. Every FBI agent, etc. Trump has proven that most current direct appointments are waste of money and unnecessary.

Limits restricting ex-politicians and military from lobbying, but also partners and nepotism need to be codified and restricted for politician families.

LEEPERMAX , 2 minutes ago link

Whether it's MARK MEADOWS, DOUG COLLINS, JIM JORDAN, LINDSEY GRAHAM or any of the others, I've come to the conclusion that the ONLY PERSON seriously taking on those who were involved in THE ATTEMPTED COUP TO TAKE DOWN TRUMP is TOM FITTON of JUDICIAL WATCH.

The U.S. is a Captured Operation

tunetopper , 5 minutes ago link

Misfud was in Rome too. The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital St John - present sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II. Was he a bailiff or a knight, question...?

Swamidon , 8 minutes ago link

Talk talk talk, its cheap, and boring with the same criminals appearing over and over, but no action ever taken and the Traitors don't look very nervous. Why doesn't Trump issue an Executive Order to direct employees of the DOJ and the FBI etc., to fully cooperate with investigators?

I am Groot , 15 minutes ago link

Time to fire Director Deep State Wray and dismantle the FBI, President Trump ! They are 100% corrupt !

CheapBastard , 13 minutes ago link

He's a huge disappointment.

NoDebt , 6 minutes ago link

Agreed. This guy Wray has been slow-walking and standing in the way of anything happening at every turn. I am convinced he is absolutely there to protect the FBI and nothing else. He is definitely acting like a "company man".

And, I'm not gonna give Trump any more free passes for what seems to be a lot of BAD picks in his appointments. In this respect I think it's where Trump has been the most disappointing.

White Nat , 21 minutes ago link

Hope Judicial Watch files a FOIA request for weiner's laptop.

gilhgvc , 23 minutes ago link

correction: BARR,TRUMP and the REPUBLICANS are ALLOWING the FBI to cover up

New_Meat , 24 minutes ago link

Nuland?

Victoria Nuland???? Oh, waits, that Nuland. The qwm who orchestrated the Ukraine mess. Now I've got it, whew, thought I was losing my memory there for a bit.

but who is Evelyn Farkas? Gotta' think on that one.

f'noldbastard , 43 minutes ago link

They may respond sometime in 2025

Gringo Viejo , 44 minutes ago link

The FBI was founded by a cross dressing, closet homosexual with a gambling "jones" who was blackmailed by the Mafia.

And it was expected to improve with age?

JoeTurner , 45 minutes ago link

Is Steele still alive? He seems like a major liability

chunga , 33 minutes ago link

Christopher Wray is another beauty right up there with Stiff Sessions.

Secret Weapon , 46 minutes ago link

The FBI has become America's Gestapo.

chunga , 43 minutes ago link

Their top experts have been studying the malfunctioning Epstein cameras for about three weeks now.

Demologos , 26 minutes ago link

The FBI has their TOP men studying it, TOP men!

chunga , 10 minutes ago link

When NYPD busted Weiner Comey sent his black hats to seize the laptop.

While under an international spotlight Barr recused himself from the Epstein matter and Wray did nothing.

[Sep 18, 2019] Ukraine Votes for a Future in Europe by Robert C. O'Brien

A very weak article. Complete lack of understanding on the real situation in Ukraine. This worse the the level of freshmen in the second rate college.
Yet another unreformed Cold War warrior...
Oct 29, 2014 | nationalinterest.org

"Ukrainians are happy today. They showed the world that they remain unbowed in the face of aggression and are committed to a future in the democratic West."

https://lockerdome.com/lad/12130885885741670?pubid=ld-3562-627&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fnationalinterest.org&rid=duckduckgo.com&width=896

[Sep 18, 2019] Trump Makes Another Bad Choice for National Security Advisor

Looks like Trump just increased his chances to lose to Warren in 2020 elections.
Notable quotes:
"... O'Brien advised the Romney 2012 campaign, and he also advised the short-lived Scott Walker campaign in the 2016 cycle. He is a typical hawkish Republican. ..."
"... Obviously, "Bolton lite" isn't much of an improvement over Bolton, and it seems unlikely that there will be any significant improvement in administration foreign policy over the next fifteen months. The summary of O'Brien's book confirms as much: ..."
"... Back in 2014, he was praising Romney for his "Churchill-like warning of a resurgent Russia," and I pointed out that Romney had said a lot of ignorant, knee-jerk things about Russia that were wrong. The fact that O'Brien thought and probably still thinks that "Romney was right" about anything related to foreign policy is more evidence that Trump made a very poor choice again. ..."
"... Let's be serious, Mr Trump did not pick Mr Robert O'Brien. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Trump announced the selection of his fourth National Security Advisor:

President Trump announced Wednesday that Robert O'Brien, the special envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department, will be his next national security advisor.

O'Brien previously served in the Bush administration's State Department. Hugh Hewitt, who wrote the foreword to O'Brien's book , has described him as a "long time colleague of John Bolton." Since the Bush years, O'Brien advised the Romney 2012 campaign, and he also advised the short-lived Scott Walker campaign in the 2016 cycle. He is a typical hawkish Republican. Curt Mills referred to him in his recent report on the race to replace Bolton this way:

Robert O'Brien, the Trump hostage negotiator whose stock has risen in the administration in recent months, is "Bolton lite," according to a source who has known O'Brien for years.

Obviously, "Bolton lite" isn't much of an improvement over Bolton, and it seems unlikely that there will be any significant improvement in administration foreign policy over the next fifteen months. The summary of O'Brien's book confirms as much:

The world has become steadily more dangerous under President Obama's "lead from behind" foreign policy. The Obama Administration's foreign policy has emboldened our adversaries and disheartened our allies. Indeed, Obama's nuclear deal with Iran is a 1938 moment. At the same time, the U.S. military has been cut and risks returning to the hollow force days of the 1970s. O'Brien lays out the challenges and provides the common sense "peace through strength" solutions that will allow the next president to make America great again.

There is nothing surprising in here, and a lot that is embarrassingly wrong, but it is consistent with the GOP's bankrupt foreign policy worldview. A friendly review of the book describes that worldview in boilerplate terms:

Robert writes from a series of beliefs and assumptions that I also hold: a deep belief in American Exceptionalism, that peace comes through strength, that the United States is stronger when it partners with its allies and when America is a reliable friend to its allies, that the greatness of America comes from a people that respect tradition and the rule of law, and that (yes) we are the good guys and there are some bad guys out there.

I have had occasion to criticize O'Brien's writings in the past. Back in 2014, he was praising Romney for his "Churchill-like warning of a resurgent Russia," and I pointed out that Romney had said a lot of ignorant, knee-jerk things about Russia that were wrong. The fact that O'Brien thought and probably still thinks that "Romney was right" about anything related to foreign policy is more evidence that Trump made a very poor choice again.

O'Brien's most recent high-profile assignment was to be sent to Sweden as part of the president's embarrassing fixation on the case of the rapper ASAP Rocky , who had been detained in Sweden and was facing charges for assault. It would not surprise me if this silly episode and waste of government resources was quite important in winning the president's favor. O'Brien probably wasn't the worst choice Trump could have made, but Trump's fourth choice for National Security Advisor is still a bad one.

Sydney an hour ago

Who says Mr Trump is unpredictable? Is there anybody expected anything else from Mr Trump when it comes to picking his advisers or making thoughtful decisions? Let's be serious, Mr Trump did not pick Mr Robert O'Brien. The Bolton, Pompeo, Pence triumvirate picked Trump's NSA; naturally.

[Sep 18, 2019] O'Brien lays out the challenges and provides the common sense "peace through strength" solutions that will allow the next president to make America great again.

Yet another neocon, who want to sacrifice the well being of the US population for imperial glory
Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Don Bacon , Sep 18 2019 15:19 utc | 153
The new US National Security Advisor is lawyer Robert C. O'Brien, best known as author of his 2016 book "While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis."

Amazon 2016 blurb:

Robert C. O'Brien's collection of essays on U.S. national security and foreign policy, with a forward by Hugh Hewitt, is a wake up call to the American people. The world has become steadily more dangerous under President Obama's "lead from behind" foreign policy. The Obama Administration's foreign policy has emboldened our adversaries and disheartened our allies. Indeed, Obama's nuclear deal with Iran is a 1938 moment. At the same time, the U.S. military has been cut and risks returning to the hollow force days of the 1970s. O'Brien lays out the challenges and provides the common sense "peace through strength" solutions that will allow the next president to make America great again. . . here
The origin of MAGA? Or merely an update.

Norwegian , Sep 18 2019 15:29 utc | 159

Don Bacon @153
O'Brien, best known as author of his 2016 book "While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis."

Not to be confused with the Inner Party member in 1984. Just a coincidence.

[Sep 18, 2019] USA Pretend Unmasked - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

Sep 18, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

"USA Pretend" Unmasked By S. Brian Willson Global Research, September 12, 2019 Region: Asia , USA Theme: History

Viet Nam – Epiphany for the USA

There was a moment in Viet Nam when I questioned whether everything I had been taught about "America" was one big fabricated lie – a huge pretend. It was April 1969, and I had just experienced witnessing the aftermath of a series of bombings of supposed military targets. They were in fact inhabited, undefended villages where virtually everyone in those villages perished from low flying bombings, that included napalming. The majority of dead – murdered – were young burned children. On several occasions I observed those bodies up close, sickened by the sight, now burdened by the criminal nature of the US war. The policy of accumulating massive numbers of body counts was an inkling of the Grand Lie. Reading the entrance sign to my squadron in-country headquarters, "Welcome to Indian Country," was a first clue.

My duty station was the "home" of the fighter-bombers and pilots who followed orders to destroy those "enemy targets", i.e., villages. I was the USAF night security commander following orders to protect those soldiers and planes from mortar and sapper attacks.

A few days later I was reading an article in Stars and Stripes , an official, independent newspaper for soldiers, reporting on a recent Supreme Court decision ( Street v . New York , 1969) that upheld the right of desecrating our "sacred" symbol – the US flag. During a period of increased burnings of the US American flag in protests of the US wars against African-Americans at home, and Asians abroad, an African-American veteran recipient of a Bronze Star, Sidney Street , publicly burned his personal flag on a New York City street corner for which he was arrested and convicted.

Depressed, I pondered how it is that one could be arrested for burning a piece of cloth – even a national symbol – that represented an official policy of criminally burning innocent human beings, including large numbers of young children, while the pilot-perpetrators were commended, and whom, in my duties I was protecting? Initially suicidal, I had difficulty wrapping my head around this dystopian nightmare. I was in psychic shock from extreme cognitive dissonance.

Our behavior against the Vietnamese, a nation of peasants with one-sixth the population of the USA, one-thirtieth its size, certainly must rank as one of the worst of a number of barbarisms in the 20 th Century. The US left 26 million bomb craters, sprayed 21 million gallons of DNA-altering chemical warfare on the landscape and people, murdered some 6 million Southeast Asians, destroyed by bombing over 13,000 of Viet Nam's 21,000 villages, 950 churches and pagodas, 350 clearly marked hospitals, 3,000 high schools and universities, 15,000 bridges, etc.

Why all this overwhelming firepower and destruction? Incredulously, to prevent the Vietnamese from enjoying their self-determination, absurdly touted as necessary to stop "communism." Does there in fact exist a kind of psychopathy in our cultural DNA? Though I hadn't fired a bullet myself, or dropped a bomb, I had been a compliant participant in a mindless murder machine. Viet Nam was not an aberration, but consistent with a long history of arrogant interventions revealing something very dark about who we are. Was I part of a savage culture of unthinking sadists, I wondered?

VNWarMontage.png

Clockwise, from top left: U.S. combat operations in Ia Đrăng , ARVN Rangers defending Saigon during the 1968 Tết Offensive , two A-4C Skyhawks after the Gulf of Tonkin incident , ARVN recapture Quảng Trị during the 1972 Easter Offensive , civilians fleeing the 1972 Battle of Quảng Trị , and burial of 300 victims of the 1968 Huế Massacre . (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Learning Real People's Versus Fake, Kool Aid US History

I have spent countless hours studying a more comprehensive people's version of world and US history. Study of US history of course is part of the Eurocentric globalization/colonization over the past 500 years. The 20 percent Eurocentric "developed-world" is a product of self-proclaimed "superiors" violently and deceitfully stealing resources and labor from the other 80 percent, all cloaked in the conceited rhetoric of spreading "civilization." This patriarchal policy is totally unsustainable from a social, political, ecological, psychological, and moral perspective.

It is instructive to learn that the "Founding Fathers" chose, not democracy, but oligarchy/plutocracy "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." Jefferson's "empire of liberty" was a vision to expand private property for large landowners. Our Constitution is more a document to preserve freedom of "property" and commercial transactions, than it is to preserve human liberty, of which free speech is the most fundamental. Historian Staughton Lynd summarized it thus: inherited land replaced inherited government. Recently the highest court of the land ruled the legal fiction that property (money) is a person with free speech rights, as preposterous as the earlier legal fiction that a person (slave) is property.

A fear-laden gun culture originating in violent settler-colonialism and white nationalism-supremacy serve as a basis for the founding ideology and military strategy of the United States. Slave patrols and Indian fighters were our first "special operations," establishing the essential White character of our militarized culture. As the systematic dispossession project continued, the US government signed over 400 treaties with Indigenous nations, violating every one of them, establishing deceit and outright lying as part of our cultural DNA.

The politics of violence based on classism and racism has been incessant throughout our history. Examining the US criminal injustice system housing a quarter of all the world's prisoners reveals brutal truth when comparing extreme disparities in punishments by race, and class. Justice?

I studied the history of the city of my birth – Geneva, New York, which in the 1700s was Kanadesaga, capitol of the Seneca nation. On September 8, 1779, Major General John Sullivan and his forty-five hundred soldiers eradicated these "merciless Indian Savages" in the largest Revolutionary War battle of 1779 – a terrorist, scorched-earth campaign massacring civilians while destroying all forty of the well-established Seneca towns, including Kanadesaga. By 1788, the European settlers renamed it Geneva, as if nothing had happened, a deserved reward for superiors.

All those arrowheads I enjoyed collecting as a child possessed a profound dark secret about the nature and character of my ancestors. However, I would only discover their secret after deep reflections from my Viet Nam awakening.

Official US military interventionism began with the US Marine invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1798 during the undeclared naval war with France. However, hundreds of settler paramilitary units had been killing Indians since the 1620s. But imperialism has been explicit policy since the late 1890s to assure domestic prosperity. In 1907, Woodrow Wilson while president of Princeton University (six years before being elected US president) lectured:

"Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. .Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused."

President McKinley, and various Senators continued to advocate "a foreign market for our surplus products." US meddling, both "soft," and hard, has never stopped.

Traveling to a number of nations in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East have exposed me to details of hundreds of US overt interventions, and thousands of covert destabilization actions. These policies have caused the murders of millions, 20 to 30 million alone since WWII during the so-called "Cold War". Only five of these nearly 600 military interventions have been declared wars as required by the Constitution, clearly indicating our sacred document is not taken seriously. This also tells us the system has no interest in being accountable to its own Constitution, or international law. Speaking with peasants in these victim-countries invariably reveals the horrendous cruelty of US interveners and their surrogates. Does the US possess any intentions to be law-abiding? Does the US possess any feelings for others, or only selfish imperial ambitions? And does anyone care?

Violence against even White citizens has matched violence we have carried out in foreign policy. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1917-18 were enacted to suppress anti-war dissent against US entrance into World War I. Thousands of US Americans were deported and imprisoned following World War I for "radical" anti-war expressions, including labor leaders and socialists. Some were tortured in US prisons. Ironically, free speech dissent is most critical when a government decides to go to war. The original Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 stifled free speech of US citizens, including elected officials, who objected to the undeclared war against France. Free speech? Huh?

While the US was locking up and deporting citizens for opposing World War I, the FBI was ignoring extremely violent KKK supremacist groups whose six million members – nearly 25 percent of the white male population at the time – were lynching with impunity an average of six African-Americans a month. Equal protection?

The first known use of air power against civilians was committed by US Marines in Haiti in 1919. But, the second known use of US air power against civilians occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma, May 31-June 1, 1921, when hundreds of economically successful Black residents living in a 36-square block community were murdered, including from low flying white-piloted planes dropping incendiaries, destroying nearly 1,300 buildings. How many US Americans know about this abomination?

Walter White, a longtime leader in the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), concluded that southerners fear of Negro progress offends the intangible feeling of racial superiority, explaining the intensity of White savagery. The sense of established White superiority (or anyone possessing those feelings) often leads to an insecure character from lack of practicing accountability with others in a world of varied, challenging relationships. Those feelings easily morph into paranoia of others, and delusions of self grandeur – one of the most difficult psychological orders to treat, as the persistent pathology of racism (and classism) so attests.

America's Wars: The Day We Refused To Fight. "War is just Terrorism with a Bigger Budget"

The third known use of US bombing civilians occurred at Blair Mountain, West Virginia, August-September 1921. As many as 15,000 striking coal miners attempting to unionize were attacked by 2,000 armed sheriff's deputies, coal company paramilitaries, US troops, and US Army Martin MB-1 bombers, killing as many as 100 miners, with many more wounded. Before the battles had ended, more than a million ammunition rounds had been fired. Nearly 1,000 miners were ironically indicted for murder of the nearly 30 deaths among the miner's attackers. Over 700 union organizers have been murdered in our history. Is this known by many?

We continue to be obsessed with personal and government guns (police and military) as a guarantor of our security. Those who question easy access to guns, even assault weapons, or the ridiculously wasteful military spending, are thought of as nearly traitorous. US citizens personally own nearly 400 million firearms, or 40 percent of all private guns in the world. On average, three US citizens are killed every day by police, disproportionately African-Americans. So far in 2019, the US has experienced more than one mass shooting (4 or more shot) every day. Our gun death rate is ten times above that of other high income countries. Using violence as a default position historically ends in disaster, as it has been proven over and over that violence spirals out of control into more violence, while distracting from serious discourse. Why the incredible record of violence? Insecurity?

Under its doctrine of Full Spectrum Dominance, the US government routinely dispatches military ships to every sea space, military planes to every airspace, hundreds of satellites into outer space, while ordering Special Forces units to operate clandestinely in nearly three-fourths of the world's countries. Additionally, of the 1.4 million US soldiers in the world, nearly 200,000 are positioned in as many as 150 countries, most stationed at 800 major military bases in 80 nations. The US also possesses a large percentage of the world's weapons of mass destruction, and recently has dispensed with any genuine effort at containing the spread of nuclear weapons. The annual military budget, including hidden costs, amounts to an exorbitant $1.25 trillion a year, more money than the next seven countries combined spend on their militaries. If you want to be guaranteed health care and a modest house, join the Army. Otherwise these human rights are "unaffordable." If you want gun control, start at the top.

How to explain the extent and breadth of our violent militarism and global imperialism? Paranoia? It seems that our sense of superiority justifies hurtful dispossession from others to acquire and preserve undeserved privilege.

After exiting the military in 1970, my opinions about the US war against the Vietnamese were affirmed with the 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers revealing the more than 20 years of criminal intentions, and deceit, to thwart Vietnamese aspirations for self-determination. Earlier in 1971, January 31-February 2, Vietnam Veterans Against the War conducted the "Winter Soldier Investigation: An Inquiry into American War Crimes" when nearly 120 veterans testified about the war crimes and atrocities they committed or witnessed in Viet Nam. I was aghast when learning about Nixon's intended Huston plan to criminally interrupt antiwar activities, the FBI's sixteen-year COINTELPRO of more than 2,000 illegal actions against innocent US citizens, the CIA's Operation CHAOS keeping tabs on 300,000 citizens opposed to the Viet Nam war, and the National Security Agency's Operation SHAMROCK watch lists of those communicating with people overseas. Respect for the law? Huh? Further research revealed that as early as 1934 President Roosevelt instituted a long-standing joint FBI-military program to conduct domestic intelligence with broad investigative scope. The "American" Kool Aid indeed has sedated us.

Today our freedoms are further curtailed, for example, as the National Security Agency (NSA) spies on every US American, the Authorization of Military Force Act (AUFA) allows warrantless electronic surveillance of anyone suspected of aiding terrorism, and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) enables indefinite detention of US citizens, even arrest by the military. Where is the Constitution when we need it? Or was it ever really there for us?

One of the most revealing chapters in our history is the incredible sympathy the US possessed for authoritarian Nazi Germany. Even though the Soviet military was most critical in defeating the Nazis in World War II, deep fear of the Bolsheviks (the emergence of an alternative social-economic system to capitalism) motivated US America's wealthy class, with complicity of the US government, to support the rise of Nazi Germany from the mid-1930s into the war years themselves. The US capitalists supported the Nazi capitalists to defeat the "threat" of socialism. Elite power brokers included leaders of Wall Street and wealthy "barons" such as the Rockefellers and Andrew Mellon, and businesses such as Ford Motor, IBM (tabulating daily location of Jews in the Holocaust), General Motors, General Electric, Standard Oil, Texaco, ITT, International Harvester, Chase Manhattan Bank, the House of Morgan banking dynasty, DuPont, United Aircraft, etc., who enjoyed huge profits from the war. And following the war, the US's "Operation Gladio" systematically defeated popular anti -Nazi groups throughout Europe, while "Operation Paperclip" secretly brought Nazi scientists and other professionals to the US. Our affinity for fascism has been established.

Psychologically, it is important to note that our national identity has consistently been markedly defined by demonizing others – "merciless savages", "uppity ni**ers", "anarchists", "radicals", "communists", "Russians", "alien filth", "narco-traffickers", "terrorists", "shithole countries", "vermin", etc., echoing psychologist Carl Jung's principle of "shadow projection." Jung described a cowardly trick we play on ourselves: avoid looking in the mirror so as not to take responsibility for seeing our own demons. We "see" the evil in others, perpetuating a nation addicted to war against them, obscenely profiting as we self-righteously deny our own severe pathologies. If we had looked in the mirror we would have learned what Pogo told us, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Eco-psychologist Chellis Glendinning suggests that modern humans suffer from deep insecurity that emerged from collective traumas hundreds of generations ago. A serious disconnect from intimacy with the earth occurred when our ancient ancestors began controlling nature through agriculture and animal domestication. Evolutionary philosopher Gregory Bateson concludes that addictive behavior is consistent with the Western approach to life that pits mind against body, while behaving as if the natural world is a commodity. We seek various distractions to numb our pain from this feeling of aloofness. Technology, not Nature, has become our God.

Recognizing the Lie

Could it be that virtually everything I was taught by my parents, community, school, church, and political leaders in terms of factual history, morality, ethics, and rational thinking about "America" was the opposite of what had been represented? How could that be?

Yes, I have been conditioned by an incredibly comfortable fairy tale, a massive cultural system denying or distorting historic realities, founded on shameful genocides. I had been betrayed. We are told we are the greatest, even as we (s)elect imperial Presidents and Congresspeople in an orgy of fantastic fiction about "democracy." The US Senate is a millionaire's club, with many members of the US House also in that class. Indian author Arundhati Roy describes "democracy" and "pro-democracy" as the "Free World's whores", hollow words satisfying a whole range of tastes, available to be used and abused at will where facts don't matter.

US America loves its myth of being committed to justice for all, but in fact it is a society ruled and funded by a wealthy elite. This is not a government of, by and for the people! It is a ruthless oligarchy sanctioned by a majority of the people believing their vote counts. Money has always mattered, severely rigging the game in many ways toward an upper class (obscenely bribing candidates, corporate personhood power, gerrymandering, proprietary election software, hacking capacity to effect results, Jim Crow laws, voter suppression, etc.). The oligarchy approves "acceptable" candidates, while contrived rhetoric, propaganda, and our education system keep us faithful to our political system comprised of one party with two right wings, the winner ruling by tyranny of its majority. But the bottom line is that (s)elected representatives obey their large donors who thrive on war-making against vulnerable others.

Nonetheless, these facts do not preclude existence of individual conscientious politicians. However, the political economic system itself is fixed, it is not broken, a dilemma every honest politician must face. This delicious Kool Aid has in fact concealed a delusional madness, a Kafkaesque, Orwellian nightmare. Our political leaders have consistently and collectively acted outside the Constitution, while selectively applying laws that preserve the cabal in power. It has always been this way, though the social revolution of the 1960s threatened to overturn the oligopoly. This revolution was unfortunately unsuccessful but the fearful system's repressive reaction is now in its fifth decade. In the end, we are in fact a nation of men, not laws.

So, in effect, our mythological story made me functionally stupid, a "good kid" who became complicit in mindless, mass murder. And I am suggesting that it has created a society comprised of millions of functionally stupid people. This is different from intelligence. This is not idiocy. This is serious non -thinking of intellectually capable people who, in effect, have suspended their autonomous critical thinking, basking in an intoxicated spell of our sense of national invincibility. It has enhanced the Friedman era of neoliberal privatization, worshipping greed, while millions are without health care and homeless. This is mass psychopathy, a dangerous cultural mental illness.

German Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer , while a prisoner in one of Hitler's jails, wrote about the role of stupidity in the German people that substantially contributed to the rise of Nazism and worship of savior Hitler. He argued that it is very separate from intellectual capacity but occurs when a cult-like belief system dangerously suspends critical thinking, bringing collective relief to an emotionally anxious population. It is a form of voluntary servitude more dangerous than malice, an entrenched belief system that makes genuine dialogue and education almost impossible. (Bonhoeffer was hung in April 1945).

As US Americans we possess no visceral memory of the two unspeakable genocides our ancestors shamefully committed, forcefully dispossessing Indigenous Africans of their labor, and genuine Americans of their land, murdering millions with impunity. Even though we are superficially taught about slavery and conquering the Indigenous, their egregious suffering has been outsourced outside our feeling fields for 25 generations . Thus, was established our cultural "DNA" of achieving expansion benefitting a few (mostly White males and those who think like them) through any means while escaping any accountability whatsoever. Now nearly 600 overt, and thousands of covert interventions later, US Americans still know little or nothing about our unspeakable imperialism. Why not? Isn't it critically important that we seriously grapple with our diabolical history?

In 2019, the President, US military, CIA, and other "regime change" entities like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and their funders in Congress, continue to intervene almost everywhere, destabilizing with crippling sanctions, sadistically causing suffering, causing chaos, creating kill lists, murdering, bombing, etc. Does any of this criminal insanity even happen? Has it ever? Does it matter to most people? I believe there is a deep shame that burdens us. It is understandable to avoid looking at shame, but the cost is perpetual war for perpetual peace until we are all dead. The era of privilege is over, as we enter the terrifying era of consequences, bringing fear, insecurity and anxiety to many heretofore privileged folks. Denial becomes a lethal seduction.

Our amnesia has precluded emotional intelligence, a depth of character, so necessary for mature development, with little understanding of historical context. We are effectively emotionally retarded, blocking the universal embedded human feeling of empathy, and the collective solidarity that emerges therefrom. Thus, "America" is very insecure having been conveniently wrapped in a fake, pretend narrative, convincing us of our "exceptional" nature, ignoring both our systemic pattern of domestic violence, and global imperialism. The corporate media, and corporate-owned social media platforms, serve as stenographers for our oligarchic policies and values. They create an agenda-driven narrative that inoculates our minds with constant group think untruths of neo-liberal capitalism.

We now live in a post-truth world, where narcissistic life is experienced as virtual, not real. Do we feel the pain of the Afghani, Yemeni, the Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian, Libyan, Somali, the Russian, the Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, Honduran, Guatemalan, Mexican, Palestinian in Gaza, or our neighbor down the street whose cancer left her homeless due to foreclosure? How much do we care? Answering these questions can tell us a lot about our own survival, including yours and mine.

Serious discussion and debate of a broad range and depth of ideas is virtually nonexistent. Mention of "socialism" is considered traitorous to the religion of neoliberal corporatism. In reality, we promote individualism over community, competition over cooperation, and acquisitiveness over inquisitiveness. These capitalist characteristics condition human development in a way that is diametrically opposed to our inherent, genetic nature as a social species requiring for survival cooperation in all our relations.

The economy and political system is now virtually dependent upon what Eisenhower proclaimed as the military/security industrial complex, and that complex thrives on creation of endless "enemies" which produce obscene war profits for a very few. Community and family units have disintegrated, and citizenship is less engaged as life is increasingly defined in terms of commodities. Everything and everybody is for sale to the highest bidder. This leads to anomie, violence and madness. And yet, we continue to enjoy shopping as the government conducts its daily bombing. How can this be? How can we pay taxes and go about our business as usual when so many people in the world are being impoverished or eliminated by US policies facilitating the wealthy getting richer?

The Deep Divide – 1959 – 2019

Having graduated from a rural upstate New York high school in 1959 at the height of post-WWII Cold War euphoria, in the midst of the short historic blip of aspiring consumerism, the "American" Kool Aid I and my 28 fellow graduates drank at that time was delicious. I was raised in a lower middle class home by conservative, religious parents, not dissimilar to the upbringings of many of my classmates. Life seemed great, and simple. However, my Viet Nam experience rudely exposed the poisonous nature of this delicious drink and its true ingredients.

Discovering information about my former classmates finds several still living in the same area we grew up, possessing similar views to that which we believed in 1959 – religiously and politically conservative, but now supporters of MAGA, Trump and Israel. One classmate who had been a basketball cheerleader, still married to her high school sweetheart after 60 years, read my Facebook postings from Nicaragua, then declared me "a fool" admonishing me to "stay there." This same cheerleader chanted for each starter before games, such as "Brian, Brian, he's our man, if he can't do it, nobody can."

Being raised in and conditioned by US America instills a desire to preserve a fantasy of post-WWII euphoria for many, at least until President Reagan. But experiential reality painfully destroys make-believe. I argue that the USA has never been great, but suspect many of my 1959 classmates would vehemently disagree.

Trump Exposes the Pretend Society

The phenomenon of the Presidency of Donald John Trump disturbingly "offers" our culture, and the world, an overdue undisguised photo of our real culture and its politics. Some say Trump brings out the worst in people – hatred, self-centeredness, cruelty, insensitivity, crassness, racism, insulting language, poisonous divisiveness, adolescent delinquency, etc. But is it possible that his language and demeanor are validating expressions of historically suppressed feelings and values which have never been sufficiently addressed or openly acknowledged in our Eurocentric, capitalist, money-oriented, nature-defying, often mean-spirited culture? These censored feelings once unleashed, no matter how adolescent they seem, are capable of manifesting in a vicious authoritarian and neo-fascist state, as they did in Germany nearly 100 years ago. It seems we are at that point again.

The "developed" world, now led by the United States of America, has historically been built on egregious exploitation and violence hidden under fanciful rhetoric. Inevitably, the chickens will come home to roost. As Eurocentrics we have been lying to ourselves and the world with our highly touted economic system and "democracy," fooling ourselves by myths and lies we have long believed about our "superiority" built on the suffering of others. As stated above, we have (s)elected leaders who are to varying degrees corrupted by money who use politically "correct" language and a finessed demeanor to gain approval. In fact, they have consistently been imperial and oligarchic, selfishly stealing to assure an insatiably consumptive lifestyle for under 5 percent of the world's population (but only benefitting a minority of its own people), while gobbling up anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of the globe's resources (depending on the resource and era examined). We ad nauseum excuse our interventions using "national security" or "humanitarian justice." We have followed in the footsteps of our imperial teachers in the United Kingdom. Fair? Sustainable? Ever thought about the structural unfairness and gross arrogance that has enabled 500 years of colonization? Trump's Presidency reveals a lot about us that we have not wanted to recognize. Scary? Our historical chronic complicity in this horror story cannot be ignored.

Trump serves as an avatar, or caricature, of a collective, creepy, violent, disgusting, mean-spirited, immature culture, at least as experienced by large numbers of people both in the US and the world. Trump's appeal can largely be attributed to the fact that he has taken the clothes off of Pretend . His childish nature of lying, tweeting and exaggerating, ironically reveals an ugly "truth" about our modern selves that has been drowned under incredible "public relations" – education, the media, Hollywood, sports, the State Department, etc. His extreme personal narcissism matches well our extreme collective exceptionalism. Is it clearer now just how big the LIE has been, protected by our comfortable 500-year myths? Welcome to dystopia, Kafka, and Orwell.

Conclusion

The 400-year history of Western dualistic Cartesian thinking (named after French philosopher Rene Descartes' view of reductionist mind-body dualism) divorcing human beings from study of observable nature, has produced a terribly flawed epistemology. The opposite basis for knowledge is holism, a framework that enables comprehension of multiple interconnections and historical context. Dispensing with any serious concern for consequences, the insatiably consumer-driven materialistic Western Way of Life has ironically and blissfully been destroying life itself by its addiction to burning finite fossil fuels. The harsh truth is that a capitalist system is on a direct collision course with sustainable societies that require conserving healthy interconnected relationships with each other and the earth's eco-system. We have become accustomed to wishful thinking that resources are infinite, and that they belong to us. This theft can only happen, of course, by force or its threat, and deceit, while living in the toxic illusion we are better than others. Does this suggest a kind of arrogant collective stupidity?

Nature bats last, something our cortex apparently chose to fatally ignore. We now face the greatest existential crisis as Nature bats last humbling modern humans into extinction, or near so. We somehow forgot the most critical truth of all – that we all part of the One. If we can now recognize our various levels of "stupidity", we have an adrenaline opportunity to leap out of our heretofore seductive comfortable fantasy, choosing instead to access our buried human characteristic of interconnection with everything and everybody, i.e., mutual respect and accountability. This leap now must be of a revolutionary nature, rocketing us out of our historic arrogant pleasureableness. Our survival foundation: embracing the evolutionary feeling of empathy. Saving ourselves is pretty damn important, and that means saving life for all. Let's do it! We are not worth more; they are not worth less.

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Brian Willson, Viet Nam veteran and trained lawyer, has been a lifelong critic of US domestic and foreign policy. His essays and biography are found at his website: brianwillson.com. His recent book, "Don't Thank Me for My Service: My Viet Nam Awakening to the Long History of US Lies" is published by Clarity Press (2018). His psycho-historical memoir, "Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson" was published by PM Press (2011). A documentary, "Paying the Price for Peace: The Story of S. Brian Willson" was produced in 2016 by Bo Boudart Productions.

[Sep 18, 2019] "Why do Dems continue this charade?" Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked. Lewandowski replied: "I think they hate this president more than they love their country."

Dems still beat a dead horse, This is so stupid that there are chances that they will lose electins to Trump again.
Corey Lewandowski Opening statement - YouTube
Notable quotes:
"... "If instead of focusing on petty and personal politics, the committee focused on solving the challenges of this generation, imagine how many people we could help." ..."
"... He also took a swipe at Trump's 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, and her handling of emails, and criticized the "Obama-Biden administration" for its inability to stop Russia election interference -- dropping the name of the former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate. ..."
"... Nadler is an incompetent idiot with a Napoleon complex. Why did this hearing ever happen and televised when it was certain it was going to be a bust. ..."
"... More of our vicious, counterproductive political duopoly. This was just one example of what is happening in general with our current political processes - a lot of stagnation. ..."
Sep 17, 2019 | www.washingtonpost.com

He set the tone in his opening statement, mocking Democrats and ridiculing what he called the "fake Russia collusion narrative."

"We as a nation would be better served if elected officials like you concentrated your efforts to combat the true crises facing our country as opposed to going down rabbit holes like this hearing," Lewandowski said. "If instead of focusing on petty and personal politics, the committee focused on solving the challenges of this generation, imagine how many people we could help."

... ... ...

He also took a swipe at Trump's 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, and her handling of emails, and criticized the "Obama-Biden administration" for its inability to stop Russia election interference -- dropping the name of the former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate.

"Donald Trump was a private citizen and had no more responsibility than I did to protect the 2016 election," he said. "That fell to the Obama-Biden administration and they failed. "

... ... ...

At times the hearing was almost comical. When Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) asked Lewandowski, "Are you the hit man, bag man, the lookout or all of the above?" Lewandowski replied: "I think I'm the good-looking man, actually."

Lewandowski also scolded Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) for saying the tooth fairy was not real: "My children are watching, so thank you for that."

Republicans, meanwhile, used their time to praise the president and sympathize with Lewandowski because Democrats asked him to testify.

"Why do Dems continue this charade?" Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked. Lewandowski replied: "I think they hate this president more than they love their country."

=== 5 minutes ago Lewandowski made everyone including himself look foolish and today’s circus proved nothing except Nadler is an incompetent idiot with a Napoleon complex. Why did this hearing ever happen and televised when it was certain it was going to be a bust. 1 minute ago One of the commentators said this was exactly to be expected … He said the Dems requested this hearing because their constituents wanted it. I think plenty of us knew what was gonna happen -- as it often does in these situations, regardless of party. More of our vicious, counterproductive political duopoly. This was just one example of what is happening in general with our current political processes - a lot of stagnation.

I think we need to get away from parties, they naturally lead to antagonism, and an "us vs them" mentality, and fighting. I have some ideas (humble and basic) on doing away with parties at ourconstitution.info , Outreach, Other Comments.

We must do something; take back Washington's lead -- he couldn't stand parties. Much scarier stuff as well -- rise of the Medical-Military Industrial, " a lot of killers" (Trump to O'Reilly, video on my LInks page), in and out of hospitals. Some are concerned also that the military and CIA are running the Country -- I see a big problem with these career positions vs desires of an oncoming president. Apparently, these orgs, if they don't like a president or policy, just wait them out (or kill them), "contributing" to this current disgrace of a Constitutional Republic. What to do about that? Something needs to be done... Maybe those personnel should be changed out, they can be as much or more dangerous than a president for life...

It is Our Republic, Of, By, and For The People, as long as we can keep it. Protest with me in Miami, or wherever you are, before it is too late.

[Sep 18, 2019] FAA Hoist on Its Own Boeing 737 Max Petard Multiagency Panel to Issue Report Criticizing Agency Approval Process, Call for Cer

Notable quotes:
"... The aim of the panel, called the Joint Authorities Technical Review, was to expedite getting the 737 Max into the air by creating a vehicle for achieve consensus among foreign regulators who had grounded the 737 Max before the FAA had. But these very regulators had also made clear they needed to be satisfied before they'd let it fly in their airspace. ..."
"... The FAA hopes to give the 737 Max the green light in November, while the other regulators all have said they have issues that are unlikely to be resolved by then. The agency is now in the awkward position of having a body it set up to be authoritative turn on the agency's own procedures. ..."
"... the FAA had moved further and further down the path of relying on aircraft manufactures for critical elements of certification. Not all of this was the result of capture; with the evolution of technology, even the sharpest and best intended engineer in government employ would become stale on the state of the art in a few years. ..."
"... Although all stories paint a broadly similar picture, .the most damning is a detailed piece at the Seattle Times, Engineers say Boeing pushed to limit safety testing in race to certify planes, including 737 MAX ..The article gives an incriminating account of how Boeing got the FAA to delegate more and more certification authority to the airline, and then pressured and abused employees who refused to back down on safety issues . ..."
"... In 2004, the FAA changed its system for front-line supervision of airline certification from having the FAA select airline certification employees who reported directly to the FAA to having airline employees responsible for FAA certification report to airline management and have their reports filtered through them (the FAA attempted to maintain that the certification employees could provide their recommendations directly to the agency, but the Seattle Times obtained policy manuals that stated otherwise). ..."
"... On Monday, the Post and Courier reported about the South Carolina plant that produced 787s found with tools rattling inside that Boeing SC lets mechanics inspect their own work, leading to repeated mistakes, workers say. These mechanic certifications would never have been kosher if the FAA were vigilant. Similarly, Reuters described how Boeing weakened another safety check, that of pilot input. ..."
"... As part of roughly a dozen findings, these government and industry officials said, the task force is poised to call out the Federal Aviation Administration for what it describes as a lack of clarity and transparency in the way the FAA delegated authority to the plane maker to assess the safety of certain flight-control features. The upshot, according to some of these people, is that essential design changes didn't receive adequate FAA attention. ..."
"... But the report could influence changes to traditional engineering principles determining the safety of new aircraft models. Certification of software controlling increasingly interconnected and automated onboard systems "is a whole new ballgame requiring new approaches," according to a senior industry safety expert who has discussed the report with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. ..."
"... For instance, the Journal reports that Canadian authorities expect to require additional simulator training for 737 Max pilots. Recall that Boeing's biggest 737 Max customer, Southwest Airlines, was so resistant to the cost of additional simulator training that it put a penalty clause into its contract if wound up being necessary. ..."
"... Patrick Ky, head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, told the European Parliament earlier this month, "It's very likely that international authorities will want a second opinion" on any FAA decision to lift the grounding. ..."
"... Most prominently, EASA has proposed to eventually add to the MAX a third fully functional angle-of-attack sensor -- which effectively measures how far the plane's nose is pointed up or down -- underscoring the controversy expected to swirl around the plane for the foreseeable future. ..."
"... It's hard to see how Boeing hasn't gotten itself in the position of being at a major competitive disadvantage by virtue of having compromised the FAA so severely as to have undercut safety. ..."
"... has Boeing developed a plan to correct the trim wheel issue on the 787max? i haven't seen a single statement from them on how they plan to fix this problem. is it possible they think they can get the faa to re-certify without addressing it? ..."
"... Don't forget that the smaller trim wheels are in the NG as well. any change to fix the wheels ripples across more planes than just the Max ..."
"... The self-inflicted wound caused by systematic greed and arrogance – corruption, in other words. Boeing is reaping the wages of taking 100% of their profits to support the stock price through stock buybacks and deliberately under-investing in their business. Their brains have been taken over by a parasitic financial system that profits by wrecking healthy businesses. ..."
"... Shareholder Value is indeed the worst idea in the world. That Boeing's biggest stockholder, Vanguard, is unable to cleanup Boeing's operations makes perfect sense. I mean vanguards expertise is making money, not building anything. Those skills are completely different. ..."
"... One maxim we see illustrated here and elsewhere is this: Trust takes years to earn, but can be lost overnight. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The FAA evidently lacked perspective on how much trouble it was in after the two international headline-grabbing crashes of the Boeing 737 Max. It established a "multiagency panel" meaning one that included representatives from foreign aviation regulators, last April. A new Wall Street Journal article reports that the findings of this panel, to be released in a few weeks, are expected to lambaste the FAA 737 Max approval process and urge a major redo of how automated aircraft systems get certified .

The aim of the panel, called the Joint Authorities Technical Review, was to expedite getting the 737 Max into the air by creating a vehicle for achieve consensus among foreign regulators who had grounded the 737 Max before the FAA had. But these very regulators had also made clear they needed to be satisfied before they'd let it fly in their airspace.

The JATR gave them a venue for reaching a consensus, but it wasn't the consensus the FAA sought. The foreign regulators, despite being given a forum in which to hash things out with the FAA, are not following the FAA's timetable. The FAA hopes to give the 737 Max the green light in November, while the other regulators all have said they have issues that are unlikely to be resolved by then. The agency is now in the awkward position of having a body it set up to be authoritative turn on the agency's own procedures.

The Seattle Times, which has broken many important on the Boeing debacle, reported on how the FAA had moved further and further down the path of relying on aircraft manufactures for critical elements of certification. Not all of this was the result of capture; with the evolution of technology, even the sharpest and best intended engineer in government employ would become stale on the state of the art in a few years.

However, one of the critical decisions the FAA took was to change the reporting lines of the manufacturer employees who were assigned to FAA certification. From a May post :

Although all stories paint a broadly similar picture, .the most damning is a detailed piece at the Seattle Times, Engineers say Boeing pushed to limit safety testing in race to certify planes, including 737 MAX ..The article gives an incriminating account of how Boeing got the FAA to delegate more and more certification authority to the airline, and then pressured and abused employees who refused to back down on safety issues .

As the Seattle Times described, the problems extended beyond the 737 Max MCAS software shortcomings; indeed, none of the incidents in the story relate to it.

In 2004, the FAA changed its system for front-line supervision of airline certification from having the FAA select airline certification employees who reported directly to the FAA to having airline employees responsible for FAA certification report to airline management and have their reports filtered through them (the FAA attempted to maintain that the certification employees could provide their recommendations directly to the agency, but the Seattle Times obtained policy manuals that stated otherwise).

Mind you, the Seattle Times was not alone in depicting the FAA as captured by Boeing. On Monday, the Post and Courier reported about the South Carolina plant that produced 787s found with tools rattling inside that Boeing SC lets mechanics inspect their own work, leading to repeated mistakes, workers say. These mechanic certifications would never have been kosher if the FAA were vigilant. Similarly, Reuters described how Boeing weakened another safety check, that of pilot input.

One of the objectives for creating this panel was to restore confidence in Boeing and the FAA, but that was always going to be a tall order, particularly after more bad news about various 737 Max systems and Boeing being less than forthcoming with its customers and regulators emerged. From the Wall Street Journal :

As part of roughly a dozen findings, these government and industry officials said, the task force is poised to call out the Federal Aviation Administration for what it describes as a lack of clarity and transparency in the way the FAA delegated authority to the plane maker to assess the safety of certain flight-control features. The upshot, according to some of these people, is that essential design changes didn't receive adequate FAA attention.

The report, these officials said, also is expected to fault the agency for what it describes as inadequate data sharing with foreign authorities during its original certification of the MAX two years ago, along with relying on mistaken industrywide assumptions about how average pilots would react to certain flight-control emergencies .

The FAA has stressed that the advisory group doesn't have veto power over modifications to MCAS.

But the report could influence changes to traditional engineering principles determining the safety of new aircraft models. Certification of software controlling increasingly interconnected and automated onboard systems "is a whole new ballgame requiring new approaches," according to a senior industry safety expert who has discussed the report with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.

If the FAA thinks it can keep this genie the bottle, it is naive. The foreign regulators represented on the task force, including from China and the EU, have ready access to the international business press. And there will also be an embarrassing fact on the ground, that the FAA, which was last to ground the 737 Max, will be the first to let it fly again, and potentially by not requiring safety protections that other regulators will insist on. For instance, the Journal reports that Canadian authorities expect to require additional simulator training for 737 Max pilots. Recall that Boeing's biggest 737 Max customer, Southwest Airlines, was so resistant to the cost of additional simulator training that it put a penalty clause into its contract if wound up being necessary.

It's a given that the FAA will be unable to regain its former stature and that all of its certifications of major aircraft will now be second guessed subject to further review by major foreign regulators. That in turn will impose costs on Boeing, of changing its certification process from needing to placate only the FAA to having to appease potentially multiple parties. For instance, the EU regulator is poised to raise the bar on the 737 Max:

Patrick Ky, head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, told the European Parliament earlier this month, "It's very likely that international authorities will want a second opinion" on any FAA decision to lift the grounding.

Even after EASA gives the green light, agency officials are expected to push for significant additional safety enhancements to the fleet. Most prominently, EASA has proposed to eventually add to the MAX a third fully functional angle-of-attack sensor -- which effectively measures how far the plane's nose is pointed up or down -- underscoring the controversy expected to swirl around the plane for the foreseeable future.

A monopoly is a precious thing to have. Too bad Boeing failed to appreciate that in its zeal for profits. If the manufacturer winds up facing different demands in different regulatory markets, it will have created more complexity for itself. Can it afford not to manufacture to the highest common denominator, say by making an FAA-only approved bird for Southwest and trying to talk American into buying FAA-only approved versions for domestic use only? It's hard to see how Boeing hasn't gotten itself in the position of being at a major competitive disadvantage by virtue of having compromised the FAA so severely as to have undercut safety.


kimyo , September 17, 2019 at 4:42 am

Boeing Foresees Return Of The 737 MAX In November – But Not Everywhere

Even if Boeing finds solutions that international regulators can finally accept, their implementation will take additional months. The AoA sensor and trim wheel issues will likely require hardware changes to the 600 or so existing MAX airplanes. The demand for simulator training will further delay the ungrounding of the plane. There are only some two dozen 737 MAX simulators in this world and thousands of pilots who will need to pass through them.

has Boeing developed a plan to correct the trim wheel issue on the 787max? i haven't seen a single statement from them on how they plan to fix this problem. is it possible they think they can get the faa to re-certify without addressing it?

marku52 , September 17, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Don't forget that the smaller trim wheels are in the NG as well. any change to fix the wheels ripples across more planes than just the Max

divadab , September 17, 2019 at 8:36 am

The self-inflicted wound caused by systematic greed and arrogance – corruption, in other words. Boeing is reaping the wages of taking 100% of their profits to support the stock price through stock buybacks and deliberately under-investing in their business. Their brains have been taken over by a parasitic financial system that profits by wrecking healthy businesses.

It's not only Boeing – the rot is general and it is terrible to see the destruction of American productive capacity by a parasitic finance sector.

Dirk77 , September 17, 2019 at 9:12 am

+1

Shareholder Value is indeed the worst idea in the world. That Boeing's biggest stockholder, Vanguard, is unable to cleanup Boeing's operations makes perfect sense. I mean vanguards expertise is making money, not building anything. Those skills are completely different.

Noel Nospamington , September 17, 2019 at 10:41 am

Shareholder value does what it intended to do, which is to maximise stock value in the short term, even if it significantly cuts value in the long term.

By that measure allowing Boeing to take over the FAA and self-certify the 737-MAX was a big success, because of short term maximization of stock value that resulted. It is now someone else's problem regarding any long term harm.

Dirk77 , September 17, 2019 at 8:59 am

Having worked at Boeing and the FAA, this report is very welcome. One thing: federal hiring practices in a way lock out good people from working there. Very often the fed managing some project has only a tenuous grasp is what is going on.

But has the job bc they were hired in young and cheap, which is what agencies do with reduced budgets. That and job postings very often stating that they are open only to current feds says it all.

So deferring to the airline to "self-certify" would be a welcome relief to feds in many cases. At this point, I doubt the number of their "sharpest and best intended" engineers is very high.

If you want better oversight, then increase the number and quality of feds by making it easier to hire, and decrease the number of contractors.

Arthur Dent , September 17, 2019 at 10:54 am

I deal with federal and state regulators (not airplane) all the time. Very well meaning people, but in many cases are utterly unqualified to do the technical work. So it works well when they stick to the policy issues and stay out of the technical details.

However, we have Professional Engineers and other licensed professionals signing off on the engineering documents per state law. You can look at the design documents and the construction certification and there is a name and stamp of the responsible individual.

The licensing laws clearly state that the purpose of licensing is to hold public health and safety paramount. This is completely missing in the American industrial sector due to the industrial exemptions in the professional engineering licensing laws. Ultimately, there is nobody technically responsible for a plane or a car who has to certify that they are making the public safe and healthy.

Instead, the FAA and others do that. Federal agencies and the insurance institute test cars and give safety ratings. Lawyers sue companies for defects which also helps enforce safety.

Harry , September 17, 2019 at 1:44 pm

But how can individuals take responsibility? Their pockets arn't deep enough,.

XXYY , September 17, 2019 at 2:57 pm

One maxim we see illustrated here and elsewhere is this: Trust takes years to earn, but can be lost overnight.

Boeing management and the FAA, having lost the trust of most people in the world through their actions lately, seem to nevertheless think it will be a simple matter to return to the former status quo. It seems as likely, or perhaps more likely, that they will never be able to return to the former status quo. They have been revealed as poseurs and imposters, cheerfully risking (and sometimes losing) their customers' lives so they can buy back more stock.

This image will be (rightfully) hard for them to shake.

notabanker , September 17, 2019 at 9:24 pm

So people are going to quit their jobs rather than fly on Boeing planes? Joe and Marge Six-Pack are going to choose flights not based on what they can afford but based on what make of plane they are flying on? As if the airlines will even tell them in advance?

There are close to zero consequences to Boeing and FAA management. Click on the link to the Purdue Sacklers debacle. The biggest inconvenience will be paying the lawyers.

Tomonthebeach , September 17, 2019 at 11:29 am

FAA & Boeing: It's deja vu all over again.

From 1992 to 1999 I worked for the FAA running one of their labs in OKC. My role, among other things, was to provide data to the Administrator on employee attitudes, business practice changes, and policy impact on morale and safety. Back then, likely as now, it was a common complaint heard from FAA execs about the conflict of interest of having to be both an aviation safety regulatory agency and having to promote aviation. Congress seemed fine with that – apparently still is. There is FAA pork in nearly every Congressional district (think airports for example). Boeing is the latest example of how mission conflict is not serving the aviation industry or public safety. With its headquarters within walking distance of Capitol Hill, aviation lobbyists do not even get much exercise shuttling.

The 1996 Valuejet crash into the Florida swamps shows how far back the mission conflict problem has persisted. Valuejet was a startup airline that was touted as more profitable than all the others. It achieved that notoriety by flying through every FAA maintenance loophole they could find to cut maintenance costs. When FAA started clamping down, Senate Majority Leader Daschle scolded FAA for not being on the cutting edge of industry innovation. The message was clear – leave Valuejet alone. That was a hard message to ignore given that Daschle's wife Linda was serving as Deputy FAA Administrator (the #2 position) – a clear conflict of interest with the role of her spouse – a fact not lost on Administrator Hinson (the #1 position). Rather than use the disaster as an opportunity to revisit FAA mission conflict, Clinton tossed Administrator Hinson into the volcano of public outcry and put Daschle in charge. Nothing happened then, and it looks like Boeing might follow Valuejet into the aviation graveyard.

Kevin , September 17, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Boeing subsidies:

Mike , September 17, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Nothin' like regulatory capture. Along with financialized manufacturing, the cheap & profitable will outdo the costly careful every time. Few businesses are run today with the moral outlook of some early industrialists (not enough of them, but still present) who, through zany Protestant guilt, cared for their reputations enough to not make murderous product, knowing how the results would play both here and in Heaven. Today we have PR and government propaganda to smear the doubters, free the toxic, and let loose toxins.

From food to clothing, drugs to hospitals, self-propelled skateboards to aircraft, pesticides to pollution, even services as day care & education, it is time to call the minions of manufactured madness to account. Dare we say "Free government from Murder Inc."?

VietnamVet , September 17, 2019 at 3:57 pm

This is an excellent summary of the untenable situation that Boeing and the Federal Government have gotten themselves into. In their rush to get richer the Elite ignored the fact that monopolies and regulatory capture are always dangerously corrupt. This is not an isolated case. FDA allows importation of uninspected stock pharmaceutical chemicals from China. Insulin is unaffordable for the lower classes. Diseases are spreading through homeless encampments. EPA approved new uses of environmentally toxic nicotinoid insecticide, sulfoxaflor. DOD sold hundreds of billions of dollars of armaments to Saudi Arabia that were useless to protect the oil supply.

The Powers-that-be thought that they would be a hegemon forever. But, Joe Biden's green light for the Ukraine Army's attack against breakaway Donbass region on Russia's border restarted the Cold War allying Russia with China and Iran. This is a multi-polar world again. Brexit and Donald Trump's Presidency are the Empire's death throes.

RBHoughton , September 17, 2019 at 8:40 pm

NC readers know what the problem is as two comments above indicate clearly. Isn't the FAA ashamed to keep conniving with the money and permitting dangerous planes to fly?

Boeing just got a WTO ruling against Airbus. It seems that one rogue produces others. Time to clean the stable and remove the money addiction from safety regulation

The Rev Kev , September 17, 2019 at 11:26 pm

I think that I can see an interesting situation developing next year. So people will be boarding a plane, say with Southwest Airlines, when they will hear the following announcement over the speakers-

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. On behalf of myself and the entire crew, welcome aboard Southwest Airlines flight WN 861, non-stop service from Houston to New York. Our flight time will be of 4 hours and 30 minutes. We will be flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet at a ground speed of approximately 590 miles per hour.

We are pleased to announce that you have now boarded the first Boeing 737 MAX that has been cleared to once again fly by the FAA as being completely safe. For those passengers flying on to any other country, we regret to announce that you will have to change planes at New York as no other country in the world has cleared this plane as being safe to fly in their airspace and insurance companies there are unwilling to issue insurance cover for them in any case.

So please sit back and enjoy your trip with us. Cabin Crew, please bolt the cabin doors and prepare for gate departure."

Arizona Slim , September 18, 2019 at 6:32 am

And then there's this -- Southwest is rethinking its 737 strategy:

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

[Sep 18, 2019] Gee, didn't we have this advantage once? Thanks, neoliberals!

Sep 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Trade

"The Trade War Spurs China's Technology Innovators Into Overdrive" [ Industry Week ]. "In Shenzhen's glitzy financial district, a five-year-old outfit creates a 360-degree sports camera that goes on to win awards and draw comparisons to GoPro Inc. Elsewhere in the Pearl River Delta, a niche design house is competing with the world's best headphone makers. And in the capital Beijing, a little-known startup becomes one of the biggest purveyors of smartwatches on the planet. Insta360, SIVGA and Huami join drone maker DJI Technology Co. among a wave of startups that are dismantling the decades-old image of China as a clone factory -- and adding to Washington's concerns about its fast-ascending international rival.

Within the world's No. 2 economy, Trump's campaign to contain China's rise is in fact spurring its burgeoning tech sector to accelerate design and invention. The threat they pose is one of unmatchable geography: by bringing design expertise and innovation to the place where devices are manufactured, these companies are able to develop products faster and more cheaply ." •

Gee, didn't we have this advantage once? Thanks, neoliberals!

[Sep 18, 2019] The systemic problem of "Iran expertise" in Washington

Bacevich is wrong: it is all about the control of oil producing nations in the Middle East and the preservation "oil for dollars only" regime (with the help of Israel as the forward base of the US imperialism in the Middle East)
Notable quotes:
"... In this piece, I want to draw attention to the systemic problem of "Iran expertise" in Washington, which is neither new nor limited to the hawkish political factions now running this country's foreign policy. ..."
"... I assert that the US foreign policy establishment[i] has collectively created a culture of expert impunity when it comes to Iran, which has contributed in no small part to the unstable and dangerous policy conditions we see under Trump today. ..."
"... Supporting Iraq in its foolhardy war with Iran in the 1980s proved to be strategically shortsighted in the extreme. It yielded vastly more problems than it solved. It set in train a series of costly wars that have produced negligible benefits. Supporting Saudi Arabia today in its misbegotten war in Yemen is no less shortsighted. ..."
"... Power confers choice, and the United States should exercise it. We can begin to do so by recognizing that Saudi Arabia's folly need not be our problem." ..."
"... Iran has a much longer history of managing pawns and vassal states than the USA. So too has Russia. Now replace 'Iran' with 'Israel' and you can recognise the belligerent initiator/opponent of the conflict. Trouble is that Trump is captive of the Israelis (and his petty ego) while being tormented and impoverished by all those countries that the USA invaded at the Israeli's behest. ..."
"... The dumb oafish response of the USA giant with its five eyes as it stomps about the planet enthralled by prospect of egomaniacle rapture is what endagers humanity. Leave the middle east and everyone else to their own conflict resolution I say. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

t r u t h , Sep 17 2019 23:59 utc | 60

Negar Razavi:

In this piece, I want to draw attention to the systemic problem of "Iran expertise" in Washington, which is neither new nor limited to the hawkish political factions now running this country's foreign policy.

I assert that the US foreign policy establishment[i] has collectively created a culture of expert impunity when it comes to Iran, which has contributed in no small part to the unstable and dangerous policy conditions we see under Trump today.

<...>

( The Systemic Problem Of "Iran Expertise" In Washington )


t r u t h , Sep 18 2019 0:18 utc | 64

Andrew J. Bacevich:

"I am not suggesting that Washington is supporting the wrong side in Yemen. I am suggesting, however, that neither side deserves support. Iran may well qualify as America's "enemy." But Saudi Arabia is not a "friend," regardless of how many billions Riyadh spends purchasing American-manufactured weaponry and how much effort Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman invests in courting President Trump and members of his family.

The conviction, apparently widespread in American policy circles, that in the Persian Gulf (and elsewhere) the United States is compelled to take sides, has been a source of recurring mischief. No doubt the escalating rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran poses a danger of further destabilizing the gulf. But the United States is under no obligation to underwrite the folly of one side or the other.

Supporting Iraq in its foolhardy war with Iran in the 1980s proved to be strategically shortsighted in the extreme. It yielded vastly more problems than it solved. It set in train a series of costly wars that have produced negligible benefits. Supporting Saudi Arabia today in its misbegotten war in Yemen is no less shortsighted.

Power confers choice, and the United States should exercise it. We can begin to do so by recognizing that Saudi Arabia's folly need not be our problem."

( Iran Might Be America's Enemy, but Saudi Arabia Is No Friend )

uncle tungsten , Sep 18 2019 0:22 utc | 65
Thanks Don Bacon #19, yep that is good material.

Iran has a much longer history of managing pawns and vassal states than the USA. So too has Russia. Now replace 'Iran' with 'Israel' and you can recognise the belligerent initiator/opponent of the conflict. Trouble is that Trump is captive of the Israelis (and his petty ego) while being tormented and impoverished by all those countries that the USA invaded at the Israeli's behest.

The dumb oafish response of the USA giant with its five eyes as it stomps about the planet enthralled by prospect of egomaniacle rapture is what endagers humanity. Leave the middle east and everyone else to their own conflict resolution I say.

karlof1 , Sep 18 2019 0:27 utc | 66
Don Bacon @58--

Yeah, I'm reminded--again--of Milo Mindbender's racket in Catch-22 , which was 100% greed driven. But we mustn't forget the vaunted Vietnam Syndrome assorted POTUS have set out to quell. Trump just played on that theme today in a portion of his speech I cited. As psychohistorian reported on the open thread, the next round of QE has commenced in an effort to bolster Trump's electability--lots of that money just went to shorting oil. Tomorrow will surely bring forth new revelations, accusations, and denials.

For any barflies in the vicinity, Iran opens "an exhibition of hunted/captured drones in #Tehran from September 22 to October 7" that will draw more than the curious. I'm sure pics will get tweeted.

Peter AU 1 , Sep 18 2019 13:12 utc | 129
Vk
Houthi news site. https://english.almasirah.net/catview.php?cid=1

https://english.almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=8810&cat_id=1
"Air Force of the Yemeni Army and Popular Committees, Saturday morning carried out a large-scale operation with 10 drones, targeting Abqaiq and Khurais refineries east of Saudi Arabia. The operation is called the 2nd Operation of Balanced Deterrence."

https://english.almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=8802&cat_id=1
"Ansarullah in Yemen claimed the attack, saying that 10 drones had targeted Abiqaiq, as well as the Khurais oilfield."

https://english.almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=8787&cat_id=1
"Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Yemeni forces said that the air force targeted 10 planes refinery Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia."

A number of other articles I have read at the houthi site also state 10 drones.

[Sep 18, 2019] Looks like Pompeo is busy sputtering platitudes and warmongering rhetorics to speed up the second coming of Christ

Notable quotes:
"... Someone should tell Mike that our credibility as a nation is further damaged with claims that are in need of supporting evidence. ..."
"... Did Fat Mike rub the head camel jockey's glowing orb? ..."
"... America is a bomb-happy empire - we kill illiterate peasants and destroy mud-walled villages. We are really good at it. ..."
"... Mike, it may be an "act of war" for Saudi Arabia but it's not an act of war for the United States. We weren't attacked, they were. Let them unfuck the situation. ..."
"... No more wars Mr. Trump, no more wars. Plus, we need to prepare to defend our Constitution on our own shores. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Heartfully , 1 minute ago link

Someone should tell Mike that our credibility as a nation is further damaged with claims that are in need of supporting evidence.

Thordoom , 3 minutes ago link

That conversation between Pompus and MBS must be hilarious.

Mah_Authoritah , 3 minutes ago link

Did Fat Mike rub the head camel jockey's glowing orb?

Deep Snorkeler , 8 minutes ago link

V I C T O R Y !

with Trump as our Commander-in-Chief victory is certain this won't be like those other wars:

  1. Korea
  2. Vietnam
  3. Afghanistan
  4. Iraq

America is a bomb-happy empire - we kill illiterate peasants and destroy mud-walled villages. We are really good at it.

romanmoment , 1 minute ago link

Mike, it may be an "act of war" for Saudi Arabia but it's not an act of war for the United States. We weren't attacked, they were. Let them unfuck the situation.

I am pro military and I have many friends who have served or currently serve. And I have kids. I'm not sending my kids to kill Iranians for the Saudi's, for Israel or for any other fucked-up nation in the Middle East. And I don't want 18-year-old American kids getting killed or wounded for those ungrateful ***** either.

No more wars Mr. Trump, no more wars. Plus, we need to prepare to defend our Constitution on our own shores.

[Sep 18, 2019] Israel punches above its weight thanks to the serendipity of having many Jewish billionaires in -- of all countries -- the USA, who constantly lobby to align both countries national interests

Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Sep 18 2019 13:16 utc | 130

I've noticed many commenters here (probably Americans) have some kind of obsession cum admiration with Israel. Like if it was some kind of super-State, a State above the States, which controls the USA from behind the curtains and can never fail. Well, if this Aramco attack was an Israeli deep state false flag operation to get Netanyahu re-elected, then it didn't work out:

After Tight Israeli Election, Netanyahu's Tenure Appears Perilous

Even if Netanyahu nominally wins, he won't be able to form a government. For all its sui generis history, Israel is still susceptible to the laws that govern the dynamics of the traditional nation-State; it still has contradictions -- both domestic and foreign. It has a demographic bomb, extremely high inequality, a high proportion of Arab population (most of them assimilated Palestinians), etc. etc.

Yes, it punches above its weight thanks to the serendipity of having many Jewish billionaires in -- of all countries -- the USA, who constantly lobby to align both countries national interests. But the same is true for all the Western European countries, which, if not for its colonial past/inheritance, would be insignificant micro-nations nowadays.

--//--

And now, an ally that doesn't have a dog in this fight doesn't appear to be that interested in dancing to the American tune:

Japan says Houthis, not Iran, conducted Saudi attacks

"We are not aware of any information that points to Iran," Japan's Defense Minister Taro Kono told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday.

"We believe the Houthis carried out the attack based on the statement claiming responsibility," he added, referring to the Yemeni group incorporated into the armed forces fighting back a Saudi-led war on Yemen.

This is Japan's Defense Minister talking -- not some obscure, anonymous "inside officer" or advisor without any legal power (e.g. Pompeo). The USA will have to negotiate Japan's opinion on the matter. Wouldn't be surprised if some anti-South Korea and harsher measures against North Korea comes from the USA in the next days if it really cares at this point about what the Japanese think.


Swift , Sep 18 2019 8:48 utc | 111

This attack on Saudi oil facilities has been perfectly timed for maximum benefit to impact yesterday´s Israeli election result hopefully swaying voters towards the safest pair of hands they know in times of war, poll struggler PM Bibi with his new US mutual defense pact on the table.

10 Houti drones launched from the direction of Yemen plus an unknown number of likely zionist owned cruise missiles adding muscle to guarantee success by piggy backing on that attack.

If results differ from polls then it will have been a worthwhile deceptive action. Saudis & US Frackers get the higher oil prices they need for their budget and perhaps Lloyds of London the 9-11 big losers are also on the hook for rebuilding Saudi´s ruined plant.

Russia gets to sell Saudis defensive systems and America gets a recession with higher oil prices and Trump´s chances of re-election take a nose dive just days after Bolton resigned.

Last Day of Grace , Sep 18 2019 12:33 utc | 122
The Israelis did it! Way too many intentionally unanswered questions about launch and incoming direction. We have capability to find and examine a knat from outer space. But do not know origin or position of launch? A few reasons for event.

1. Reelect Satanyahu. And keep him out of jail.

2. Continue the Yinon plan -- conquer the territory from the brook of Egypt (the Nile River) to the Euphrates River, and NEVER allow the peace word to be uttered.

3. Every time Iran makes any suggestion of negotiations with the US, create an event that snuffs out any peace effort.

4. Mollify the criminals of Saudis and Israelis who believe that the iron is hot, and this may be their last good chance to take out Iran.

The only buffer against the warmongering Israeli Zionist faction that is restraining war now is the overpowering side of Judaism (the Rothschild Group) who do not want war that will blow up their world assets. And they still control most of the Israeli intelligence.

augusto , Sep 18 2019 12:35 utc | 124
after nearly everybody converges in agreeing the attack came from the ragtag houthis... let s see the overal fall out of the episode.

1- Saudi Arabia's country is vulnerable, the king s assets are very vulnerable from now on...

2-the US protection, US weapons and promises are close to a monstrous pile of shit;

3-Leaders all along the ME, Africa and else where are learning how to evaluate the American friendship and alliances

4-If and to the extent where the Salman's entourage manages to quickly recover the Saudi oil supply... Iran and Houthis will can quietly and accordingly assess and improve their weapons and strategies for the future.

Clear like sunshine.

[Sep 18, 2019] Jews vs. Israelis by Gilad Atzmon

Zionism is the particular ideology of far right nationalism. The author is wrong. It is not dead and Likud Party is Zionist to the core.
Sep 18, 2019 | www.unz.com

To illustrate this Pfeffer cites the 2012 Israeli High Court of Justice decision to deny a petition by writer Yoram Kaniuk and others to allow themselves to be registered solely as 'Israelis' as opposed to 'Jews.'

Every so often we hear from one Torah rabbi or another that "Zionism is not Judaism." ,,,


renfro , says: September 16, 2019 at 7:52 pm GMT

While early Zionism was a desperate attempt to divorce the Jews from the ghetto and their tribal obsession and make them "people like all other people,"

Zionist wanting to make Jews 'like all other people' by giving them a Jew ruled only state to get away from non Jews is as contradictory as 'Israel is Jewish and Democratic.'

You're never going to find logical thinking in Jews.

Colin Wright , says: Website September 16, 2019 at 8:09 pm GMT
I'm afraid you've lost me with this one. Let's start with this:

' While early Zionism was a desperate attempt to divorce the Jews from the ghetto and their tribal obsession and make them "people like all other people," the present adherence to Jewishness and kinship induces a return to Judeo-centric chauvinism '

I'm afraid I don't see the distinction. As I mentioned a while back, I see Zionism as the Jewish response to the racial nationalism that dominated thinking in Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century. There were Frenchmen, and they had France. There were Germans, and they had Germany. There were Greeks, and they had Greece. There were Jews, and they should have a Jewish state.

In all of these, the nation, its land, and the ethnic entity that was its people were perceived as indivisible -- and in point of fact, many previously amiably accepted ethnic minorities found themselves persecuted in consequence. The Poles under Prussian rule are an example: perfectly welcome in Frederick the Great's Prussia, but repeatedly targeted in Wilhelmine Germany.

It had become nonsense to speak of a 'German' who wasn't German by birth, a Turk who wasn't Turkish, etc, etc. So how would Zionism -- the Jewish equivalent of all this -- be distinct from 'Judeo-centric chauvinism'? And indeed, in the new dispensation, Jews were forced to choose between assimilation and Zionism; they could be 'Hungarians (or whatever) of the Mosaic faith' or they could be Zionists -- the traditional Jewish identity had become obsolete.

What form could 'Judeo-centric chauvinism' have taken but Zionism? Aren't the two one and the same?

Lochearn , says: September 16, 2019 at 11:22 pm GMT
Thanks Gilad for your courageous work. I think we should always remember the ordinary Jews, the grocers, the tailors, and all the others who have lived ordinary lives and suffered due to the activities of their elites. We should remember the radical Jews and the artists like Cohen, Dylan and Lou Reid to mention just a few. I could make a case that the English elites have caused just as much trouble as elite Jews. In fact, it was the meeting of English and Jewish elites that created the British empire.
Skeptikal , says: September 17, 2019 at 1:15 am GMT
@Iron Lion Zion "The dichotomy of Israeli vs Jew is rhetoric from the Israeli radical-left."

well, perhaps the survey cited was invalid -- the one concerning how Jews/Israelis self-identified.

ASAIK the original Zionist idea, or the most powerful version of it in the 20th century, was Jabotinsky's Revisionist Zionism, which was a secular movement.

If no one in Israel any longer gives even lip service to this concept, then that is indeed a big change. And, we have read at this site and elsewhere of the takeover of the Israeli state by the orthodox. Pushback on this explains the stance of Avigdor Liberman and his party members. Many of which are Russian jews who do not want to support their orthodox countrymen and -women, who are becoming demographically overrepresented but will not serve in the armed forces, etc.These issues were written about at this site recently. I think under the title "the End of Israel."

Certainly that contributoin suggests that what it means to be a Jew/Israeli is changing and that it is the Israeli "left" that is trying to maintain some kind of image of a secular Jew who is an Israeli citizen, but is going against the contemporary flow in this effort.

Tsigantes , says: September 17, 2019 at 6:59 am GMT
@Colin Wright The Greeks, French, Germans (etc.) that you cite were people who lived within national borders, spoke Greek, French, German etc., were educated in these countries and voted and fought for them (including jews) – but had many different backgrounds and a variety of religions, though of course predominately Christian. In Europe a country define themselves by their culture, not by 'race'. i.e. their history, language, philosophy, arts etc.

'Race' is a jewish divide-and-rule political tool to make up for the fact that:

Judaism is simply a belief (or, rather lifestyle) system – literally a set of life style proscriptions they call 'laws' and not technically a religion since it contains no universal, philosophic or transcendental content.

The problem for jews is what is now called judaism, which was born after Christ and born out of opposition to Christi anity. It is in fact not a religion but a political movement, anti-faith and anti-religion and anti-love of humankind.

Driven by oppositionalism, they were great proselytisers. People of many different backgrounds converted to judaism, from Ethiopians to Turkic tribes. Thus there is no "jewish nation". There is no jewish culture either as is evidenced by jews' meagre contribution to the arts, philosophy. There wasn't even a jewish language until hebrew was revived / re-invented all too recently and for political reasons.
Yiddish is a true language of jews if there is one – but it is merely a dialect, not a standalone.

The Germans destroyed themselves by falling into the jewish anti-Christian, 'racialist' trap. To aid the Germans in WW2 you had to agree to be an unter-menschen and recognise Germans as your uber-menschen ..how self-defeating is that?
And why should anyone be surprised that the exact same mentality rules in Israel today, since it is the delusional heart of judaism? A fake "Racial" Supremacy is the raison d'être of "judaism".

All of this adds up to a tragic, self-defeating and ultimately stupid (un-intelligent) position.

Sean , says: September 17, 2019 at 6:09 pm GMT
Peoples tend to want their own nation state presumably because it it the most satisfying, protective and benevolent context for individuals to mediate their lives in the world. Unfortunately German Jews lived in a state while being of a different nation to the majority, and had their rights suddenly taken away. In the Jewish state of Israel Jews are having their need for imprescriptible rights met. Palestinians want their own state and those rights that go with it.

[Sep 18, 2019] An Excellent Study Of The Manufactured Labour "Antisemitism Crisis" by Kenneth Surin

Notable quotes:
"... The results showed that on average people believed that a third of Labour Party members had been reported for antisemitism. A key part of the authors' investigation was to examine how it could be that so many people came to believe this when the actual figure was far less than 1%. ..."
"... What is clear is that for Ukania's Joe and Jill Normal, who don't often go beyond the newspaper headlines to look at news source ..."
"... The crucial factor here is that no matter what steps Labour's left leadership takes to deal with the party's antisemitism problems (and these steps have been taken, unevenly and somewhat slowly), those bent on ousting Corbyn as leader for reasons internal to the party's politics will not cease their efforts no matter what Labour does to address antisemitism within its membership. ..."
"... The perfect example here is Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, who is on the payroll of the UK's Zionist lobby. Watson did his utmost to stoke the fires of the antisemitism crisis. Sensing now he has played his full hand on this issue, he is currently using Brexit as his foil for attacking Corbyn. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

I've just finished reading the uncorrected proof copy an excellent study of the manufactured Labour "antisemitism crisis". [Greg Philo, Mike Berry, Antony Lerman, Justin Schlossberg and David Miller, Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the Party & Public Belief (London: Pluto Press, 2019)]

The launching point for the book's analysis is a national poll, accompanied by the use of focus groups, on how people make judgments and form opinions.

The results showed that on average people believed that a third of Labour Party members had been reported for antisemitism. A key part of the authors' investigation was to examine how it could be that so many people came to believe this when the actual figure was far less than 1%.

The book focuses on how this chasm between (mis)perception came to exist. The authors used questionnaires as part of their survey, and the anonymous written answers show just how ignorant and poorly informed many Brits are -- a significant percentage believe what they read in the trashy rightwing tabloids or what they see on TV!

Some focus group members even believed Corbyn would bring in Sharia Law if elected.

Bad News for Labour begins with an overview of the focus group discussions. Several participants in the focus groups who came believing that a third of Labour Party members had been reported for antisemitism revised this number downwards, sensibly, as the group discussions went on and participants took to educating each other.

At the same time focus group members believed the controversy has done serious damage to the party.

What is clear is that for Ukania's Joe and Jill Normal, who don't often go beyond the newspaper headlines to look at news sources, etc., it is the case that

MASSIVE MEDIA COVEREAGE OF X = X MUST BE A BIG PROBLEM.

Bad News for Labour then looks at the plethora of competing positions and interests within Labour which created a confusing context for dealing with the antisemitism controversy. The authors identify 3 main areas:

1) the argument that there was a significant and widespread problem regarding antisemitism within the Labour Party;

2) that the issue was being used to undermine Labour's left leadership, and specifically Jeremy Corbyn, as part of the internal politics of the Party;

3) that the controversy was linked to the defence of Israel and attempts to change Labour policy with regard to that state.

The crucial factor here is that no matter what steps Labour's left leadership takes to deal with the party's antisemitism problems (and these steps have been taken, unevenly and somewhat slowly), those bent on ousting Corbyn as leader for reasons internal to the party's politics will not cease their efforts no matter what Labour does to address antisemitism within its membership.

The perfect example here is Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, who is on the payroll of the UK's Zionist lobby. Watson did his utmost to stoke the fires of the antisemitism crisis. Sensing now he has played his full hand on this issue, he is currently using Brexit as his foil for attacking Corbyn.

Labour has edged its way towards a fragile truce within itself on Brexit, by making the ridding of Johnson and the Tories its priority, so that having a general election is the first objective, and only after that can such matters as a second EU referendum with options of a viable deal and remain be contemplated.

Watson is now trying to upset this arrangement by saying a second Brexit referendum has to come before a general election (echoing a position taken by Blair a few days before) -- a ridiculous proposition, because having a referendum first will simply reopen divisions within Labour that existed during and after the first Brexit referendum. Far better to win an election, which will leave Labour more in control of events (and probably more united by virtue of electoral success), and then tackle the thorny matter of a second EU referendum.

Watson was promptly slapped down by Corbyn.

Bad News for Labour sensibly suggests that the best way for Corbyn and the party's left to overcome these attempts by Labour's mainly Blairite rightwing to undermine the Left is for the Blairites to be deselected by their local Labour parties as candidates in the next election.

Several Blairites, knowing they face deselection, have already jumped ship and joined the centrist Lib Dems while a couple went on to be Independents. Other Blairites, knowing which way the wind is blowing, have announced they won't be standing in the next election.

The outrage of the Labour Zionists making life difficult for Corbyn is highly selective. It is certainly true that some of these Labour MPs received antisemitic abuse (though mainly from people who were not party members).

At the same time, the Labour politician Diane Abbott, a Corbyn ally who is shadow home secretary/interior minister, was targetted by racists, though this has received much less media attention. Amnesty International's research showed that Abbott received 45% of all abusive tweets sent to female MPs in the 6 weeks before the 2017 election.

The crux of Labour's antisemitism controversy is the bruhaha over its grudging acceptance of the flawed International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of "antisemitism". The media's coverage of this controversy was framed by 2 assumptions: that under Corbyn antisemitism in Labour had become "institutionalized", and that Corbyn and his associates had failed to counter this.

The IHRA definition is deeply flawed, so much so that it is deemed not fit to be given any legal standing.

Media coverage of Labour's disputes with this definition cloak this fact by referring to it as "the widely accepted IHRA definition", "the widely accepted definition put forward by the IHRA", "the IHRA's widely accepted definition", "the global definition of antisemitism", "the globally recognized definition", "the near universally accepted definition", and so on, in effect suggesting that Labour was completely out of line in its reluctance to accept the 38-word definition, despite the fact that a powerful body of legal opinion saw it as a hopelessly vague statement accompanied by a rag-bag of "examples".

The IHRA examples in effect make it automatic that any characterization of Israel as "racist" is perforce "antisemitic", in this way placing Israel's apartheid policy towards Palestinians beyond criticism.

Under immense pressure Labour alas caved-in and accepted the definition and all its examples.

Perhaps the fact that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission's announcement in May that it was investigating Labour's handling of antisemitism complaints following submissions from the Jewish Labour Movement and the Campaign Against Antisemitism had something to do with Labour's capitulation on this score.

Bad News for Labour therefore trades on a double entendre -- news that is bad for Labour, but also "faux news" that itself is bad precisely because of its all-too-common distortions, biases, and underlying malicious intent. It's no surprise that two Murdoch papers, The Times and Sun , have been at the forefront of this campaign against Labour.

Perhaps more surprising are the outfits that kept company with Murdoch newspapers in this campaign against Corbyn, namely, the supposedly objective BBC and the "progressive" Guardian , both of which matched the Murdoch rags step for step in a rush for the gutter.

Bad News for Labour presents a flood of evidence detailing how this campaign was confected and what its effects on the party have been.

Since I'm a British citizen I'll be in the UK next week attending the Labour Party annual conference as a member-delegate. Testing the waters on this issue will be interesting to say the least.

Meanwhile the media say nary a word about the rampant Islamophobia in the Conservative Party (starting with its leader, BoJo, and his insouciantly feeble jokes about burka-wearing women looking like "letter boxes" and "bank robbers", and so on), and the fact that surveys show antisemitism to be more prevalent in the Tories than it is in Labour.

As Americans say: go figure.

Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Kenneth Surin

Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina. He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia

[Sep 18, 2019] >War With Iran Would Be a Catastrophic Miscalculation by James Howard Kunstler

Notable quotes:
"... some people did some things ..."
"... some people will do nothing ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | russia-insider.com

Sep 16, 2019 Welcome to the world where things don't add up. For instance, some people did some things to the Saudi Arabian oil refinery at Abqaiq over the weekend. Like, sent over a salvo of cruise missiles and armed drone aircraft to blow it up. They did a pretty good job of disabling the works. It is Saudi Arabia's largest oil processing facility, and for now, perhaps months, a fair amount of the world's oil supply will be cut off. President Trump said "[we] are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!" Exclamation mark his.

How many times the past few years has our government declared that "we have the finest intelligence services in the world." Very well, then, why are we waiting for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to tell us who fired all that stuff into Abqaiq? Whoever did it, it was unquestionably an act of war. And, of course, what are we going to do about it? (And what will some people do about it?)

Let's face it: the USA has had a hard-on for Iran for forty years, ever since they overthrew their shah, invaded the US embassy in Tehran, and took fifty-two American diplomats and staff hostage for 444 days. On the other hand, the Arabians and Iranians have had a mutual hard-on for centuries, long before the Saud family was in charge of things, and back when Iran was known as Persia, a land of genies, fragrant spices, and a glorious antiquity (while Arabia was a wasteland of sand populated by nomads and their camels). The beef was formerly just about which brand of Islam would prevail, Sunni or Shia. Lately (the past fifty years) it has been more about the politics of oil and hegemony over the Middle East. Since the US invaded Iraq and busted up the joint, the threat has existed that Iran would take over Iraq, with its majority Shia population, especially the oil-rich Basra region at the head of the Persian Gulf. The presence of Israel greatly complicates things, since Iran has a hard-on for that nation, too, and for Jews especially, often expressed in the most belligerent and opprobrious terms, such as "wiping Israel off the map." No ambiguity there. The catch being that Israel has the capability of turning Iran into an ashtray.

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The world has been waiting for a major war in the Middle east for decades, and it might have one by close of business today. Or perhaps some people will do nothing . The Iran-backed Houthi rebels of Yemen supposedly claimed responsibility for the attack. That's rich. As if that rag-tag outfit has a whole bunch of million-dollar missiles and the knowledge and capacity to launch them successfully, not to mention the satellite guidance mojo. A correspondent suggests that the missiles were fired from a pro-Iranian military base in Iraq, with the Houthis brought in on flying carpets to push the launch buttons.

President Trump is trumpeting America's "energy independence," meaning whatever happens over there won't affect us. Well, none of that is true. We still import millions of barrels of oil a day, though much less from Saudi Arabia than before 2008. The shale oil "miracle" is hitting the skids these days. Shale oil production has gone flat, the rig-count is down, companies are going bankrupt, and financing for the debt-dependent operations is dwindling since the producers have demonstrated that they can't make a profit at it. They're trapped in the quandary of diminishing returns, frontloading production, while failing to overcome steep decline curves in wells that only produce for a couple of years.

It's also the case that shale oil is ultra-light crude, containing little heavier distillates such as diesel and aviation fuel (basically kerosene). Alas, American refineries were all built before shale oil came along. They were designed to crack heavier oil and can't handle the lighter shale. The "majors" don't want to invest their remaining capital in new refineries, and the many smaller companies don't have the ability. So, this makes necessary a high volume of oil swapping around the world. Without diesel and aviation fuel, US trucking and commercial aviation has a big problem, meaning the US economy has a big problem.

With the new crisis in the Middle East, benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil is up from around $55-a-barrel to just over $60 at the market open (European Brent crude is just above $70). That's a pop, but not a spectacular one, considering that a whole lot more damage might ensue in the days ahead. China, Korea, and Japan stand to lose bigly if the players in the Middle East really go at it and bust up each other's assets. If that happens, the world will never be the same. You can kiss the global economy goodbye for good. Let's hope some people don't do something.

[Sep 18, 2019] Drone strikes on oil facilities were Yemen's 'reciprocal response' for Saudi bombings Rouhani

Sep 16, 2019 | www.defenddemocracy.press

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said recent drone attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure were a proportionate Yemeni response to years of daily bombings carried out by a Saudi-led coalition.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara following three-way talks between the presidents of Turkey, Russia and Iran, Rouhani suggested the drone attacks were a legitimate act of self-defense.

"On a daily basis Yemen is being bombarded and innocent civilians are dying so they have to retaliate," Rouhani explained.

Yemeni people are exercising their legitimate right of defense the attacks were a reciprocal response to aggression against Yemen for years.

Rouhani added his hope that the conflict in Yemen would be resolved through diplomacy, and said that such a process might even mirror Syria's Astana talks.

Addressing the same question, Turkish President Recep Erdogan also pointed out that it was Saudi Arabia who'd started the cycle of attacks. He said the international community should inquire into the causes of Yemen's crisis, noting the country had been "basically destroyed" during its four-year conflict, and called on other world powers to consider how to rebuild Yemen "from scratch" and "put it back on its feet."

While Russia's President Vladimir Putin said the drone attacks had not been discussed at Monday's meeting, he noted the "humanitarian catastrophe" in the country and urged a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

The war in Yemen began in earnest in March 2015, when a coalition of states, led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the US and Britain, launched a bombing campaign in an attempt to defeat the rebel Houthi movement and restore the rule of President Mansour Hadi, who'd been ousted in 2014. In addition to tens of thousands killed in the fighting, the conflict has sparked one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, leaving millions without food, water or healthcare, and dependent on international aid.

[Sep 18, 2019] Iran does have an Army, and can muster half a million fighting men.

Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Yeah, Right , Sep 18 2019 9:12 utc | 112

Pat Lang won't let me post on his site, so I'll have to point this out here instead.

He has just posted an open letter to Trump regarding a war with Iran, and he points out (correctly) that:
1) Iran can set its proxy forces in Syria and Iraq loose on US troops in those countries
2) Iran will fire every missile in its arsenal at any US troops within range
3) Iran will fire its AA missiles at any and all USAF planes
4) Iran will keep attacking the 5th fleet until they run out of boats

All true, and all well and good as far as it goes.

But Pat seems to have the same blind spot as all other US pundits, in that they apparently have forgotten all about the Iranian Army.

They do have an Army, and can muster half a million fighting men.
Which, indeed, is probably ten times as many ground troops that CENTCOM possesses.

Seems to me that the Iranians can think of several good uses for such an army.
For one thing, they can launch an invasion of Afghanistan with the intention of killing each and every GI who has the misfortune of being in-theatre.

They'll have at least a 10-to-1 advantage of men.
Not so much a fight as a slaughter.


Canthama , Sep 18 2019 10:53 utc | 114

Bernhard, excellent article, as usual, thank you. The recent situation in KSA is just a small example of the collapse on classic warfare, we have seen it closely in Vietnam, Lebanon 2006, then Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and for 2,500 years in Afghanistan, time and time again. The supposed richer countries trying to impose their will and military power when facing organized societies with, purpose and means to defend, do exactly that, they fend off the aggressors.

In the case of Yemen, which has not been conquered due to the terrain and its people (similar to Afghanistan), they, as few other cases, had friends that supplied means of defense and attack, this is why Yemen/Houthis, after 5 years of war of aggression against them, they can hit back, in a way that KSA is not able to defend, small drones, flying low and hard to be spotted with a long range, this is the perfect weapon to demoralize arrogant regimes, it creates terror and damages in highly explosive places. Yemen will not back down until KSA leaves its aggressive policy and pay reparations, or Yemen will continue to inflict damages, slowly bleeding KSA and demoralizing its corrupt leadership.

I my view a decision to remove the current royalty from KSA was already taken, I mean, The Resistance will pursue it, slowly, will create situations for an internal coup, internal revolts and so on, KSA's security is mostly done by foreigners, many from Pakistan, Sudan etc...these people are treated as slaves, very badly, a time bomb when an opportunity arises, and KSA is approaching that dangerous zone, few more well placed strikes that put KSA on its knees and expose wide open its vulnerability will be the sign for the large & oppressed Shia population to revolt, with it goes Bahrain as well.

Lets remember that Qatar is a mortal enemy for KSA, and has its own ambitions to expand territory beyond its tiny area, KSA is playing with fire by bending to the US,Uk and Israel, it is risking being retaliated in pieces.

William Gruff , Sep 18 2019 10:56 utc | 115
Grieved @80 noted that "...these countries... are in fact in a coalition..."

The response to that from imperial loyalists is not unexpected: "Nooo! Primitive sand people cannot put aside the identity politics differences that our empire cultivates in them and unite against us!"

The imperial loyalists, despite considering themselves to be "woke" and "inclusive" and unbigoted and moral, find it inconceivable that any peoples other than those of northern European and anglo descent could unite in the face of an existential threat. To be certain, these empire loyalists cannot even see themselves as being the existential threat that is uniting peoples, despite having literally slaughtered millions of innocents over the last half century or so. Their sense of moral and cultural superiority is an axiom that must remain beyond question lest their all-important identities be exposed as cheap narcissism, so they pour into the forum to promote conspiracy theories about how the stunning successes of the coalition that Grieved notes above are actually convoluted and inscrutably super-sophisticated moves on a Grand Chessboard . To maintain this fiction they must overlook the fact that their empire's best strategists reached the limits of their geostrategic talent playing the board game Risk . Consider that the imperial mass media has begun to refer to pompous Pompeo as "the next Kissinger" , and recall that even the former Kissinger was never really that bright but was just ruthless and totally lacking a conscience.

Face reality, imperial loyalists: The Houthis, whom you cannot even credit with being human, have just successfully wounded your lackeys in the Middle East. The Houthis accomplished this with skill, intelligence, and determination.

[Sep 18, 2019] Aramco Attacks An Act Of War By Iran Pompeo After Arriving In Jeddah

Notable quotes:
"... And President Trump himself said Wednesday from the White House that it looks like Iran did it but that he still hopes to avoid war . He announced via a statement on Twitter that, "I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!" -- ..."
"... Pompeo is in Jedda where he's expected to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to evaluate a possible response, where the are expected to "coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region," according to a State Department statement . ..."
"... Wednesday's Saudi Def. Ministry press briefing showcasing missile and drone debris alleged "evidence" the Iranians were behind attack. ..."
"... The fact that Johnson's statement included the word "diplomatic" - along with Trump's emphasis on extending stronger sanctions - is a good sign however, that the White House is not prepping for war. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

What's the end game here? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has just arrived in Jeddah for talks with Saudi leaders over a response to the weekend attacks on two of the kingdom's major oil facilities.

After a prior press conference by the Saudi Defense Ministry where it for the first time assigned public blame on Iran for the attacks which initially knocked out half of the kingdom's daily oil output, saying the air attacks "unquestionably" had Iranian state sponsorship, Pompeo has announced the Aramco attacks constitute an "act of war" by Iran .

And President Trump himself said Wednesday from the White House that it looks like Iran did it but that he still hopes to avoid war . He announced via a statement on Twitter that, "I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!" -- in what appears an alternative to launching a military response.

"I'm not looking to get into new conflict, but sometimes you have to," Trump told reporters Wednesday.

Pompeo's new "act of war" declaration indeed takes the potential for escalation right back to boiling point.

Pompeo is in Jedda where he's expected to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to evaluate a possible response, where the are expected to "coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region," according to a State Department statement .

Meanwhile, if the 'military option' is being considered, it appears we could be in the beginning phases of an international coalition response. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he and Trump held a phone call to discuss the need for a "united diplomatic response from international partners" after the Aramco attacks.

Wednesday's Saudi Def. Ministry press briefing showcasing missile and drone debris alleged "evidence" the Iranians were behind attack.

The fact that Johnson's statement included the word "diplomatic" - along with Trump's emphasis on extending stronger sanctions - is a good sign however, that the White House is not prepping for war.

[Sep 18, 2019] My hypothesis is this: the USA/Saudi Arabia are too embarassed to admit their anti-aircraft weapons and systems are useless against puny drones and created a big, subterranean enemy in the form of Iran in order to avoid public embarassment.

Notable quotes:
"... the attack dented the image of invincibility of Aramco's infrastructure ..."
"... Saudi Military stated the Aramco facilites were attacked with 18 missiles and 7 drones. They state cruise missiles were used. However, now they state the attack was simply "backed" by Iran. The weapons were all Iranian design. ..."
"... That Iran is backing the Houthis we already knew and nobody doubts. But those drones and missiles didn't come from Iranian territory nor were they operated by Iranian personel. It's a free market world, and everybody can buy weapons from anybody. ..."
"... The GOAL of exaggerating the attack could be to simply increase oil prices or to justify war with Iran. Tensions with Iran will be elevated for weeks, if not months. That will mean higher oil prices than otherwise. ..."
"... The timing is also suspicious because it comes just before the Israeli election and just after John Bolton was dismissed. ..."
"... Russian oil experts say 3 to 6 months to repair damage from strike as components must come from Europe according to TASS. As the remains of the uavs have been recovered their effective range can be determined. I suspect they were launched from within Saudi territory. ..."
"... It is embarrassing to the Saudis because they scarcely bother to unpack the weapons the US sends them-at premium prices - and dare not allow any of their countrymen to learn how to use them. And it is embarrassing to the Americans because they understand all this and ship over arms that don't work simply to ensure that those petrodollars circulate. ..."
"... Hence the current campaign to convince us that Iran was responsible. Mind you, that propaganda is only effective so long as the American people don't really believe it because, if they did, they might demand war (you can imagine Pelosi, Schumer and Biden insisting on it) and Washington doesn't want that. Jingoism isn't about fighting it's about threatening. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Sep 18 2019 15:22 utc | 156

@ Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 18 2019 14:50 utc | 149

Let's see (again):

1) USA: that would only help if Trump was decided to go to a hot war against Iran. By his declarations since yesterday, we already know that isn't going to happen. He didn't even jump to the "Iran did it!" bandwagon right away. He said he increased sanctions against Iran -- but Iran is already sanctioned to the maximum by the USA, so that's empty rhetoric.

2) Israel: wars in Israel only work as an election boost to the incumbent Prime Minister when Israel emerges with a clear victory. ...

3) Saudi Arabia: it has a 188 billion barrel reserve to cover up for the losses for a couple of days, so they benefited a little bit from the 20% price rise. But so did everybody else -- including enemies of the USA, such as Russia and Venezuela. Besides, the attack dented the image of invincibility of Aramco's infrastructure, and Saudi Arabia's image as a neofascist ideal State.

4) Iran: Iran can block the Hormuz Strait -- a much more benign and cheap way to stop Saudi oil from being exported. If Iran attacks its neighbors' oil infrastructure, then it kind of states it's fair game for its neighbors to attack theirs. This is bad move for Iran from a purely game theory standpoint, let alone from the geopolitical one.

5) Masters of the Universe: yes, the oil price went up 20% in one day. But let's remember that even a USD 100.00 a barrel isn't that impressive from a historical standpoint: when the Iraq invasion happened, the barrel reached USD 300.00. Yes, a selected elite benefited a lot from this, but the USA didn't become a capitalist utopia because of that. We must not overestimate the effects of oil prices on capitalism and, specially, on the USA: the West is in terminal decline for a myriad of factors, not because of one silver bullet. Higher oil prices won't save the West.

My hypothesis is this: the USA/Saudi Arabia are too embarassed to admit their anti-aircraft weapons and systems are useless against puny drones and created a big, subterranean enemy in the form of Iran in order to avoid public embarassment.

The Houthis are telling the truth, and they will do more attacks if the Saudis don't stop with theirs and settle for peace.


vk , Sep 18 2019 15:31 utc | 160

And the number's just changed:

Saudi Military: Attack on Saudi Aramco Facilities Were "Unquestionably Sponsored by Iran"

The headline calls that the Saudi Military stated the Aramco facilites were attacked with 18 missiles and 7 drones. They state cruise missiles were used. However, now they state the attack was simply "backed" by Iran. The weapons were all Iranian design.

That Iran is backing the Houthis we already knew and nobody doubts. But those drones and missiles didn't come from Iranian territory nor were they operated by Iranian personel. It's a free market world, and everybody can buy weapons from anybody.

Jackrabbit , Sep 18 2019 15:47 utc | 163
vk @156

You're chasing your own tail.

US and Saudis say that over 20 missiles and drones were used in the attack. They say that this showed that Iran did the attack or participated in the attack because the Houthi only claim to have used 10 drones.

Peter AU 1 and I have said that it's possible to account for the excess damage as an attempt to exaggerate damage caused by the Houthi attack.

The GOAL of exaggerating the attack could be to simply increase oil prices or to justify war with Iran. Tensions with Iran will be elevated for weeks, if not months. That will mean higher oil prices than otherwise.

The timing is also suspicious because it comes just before the Israeli election and just after John Bolton was dismissed.

And despite Trump's backing away from his asinine "locked and loaded" comment, war with Iran is still very possible. The Iraq War started 18 months after 9-11.

the pessimist , Sep 18 2019 16:02 utc | 168
Russian oil experts say 3 to 6 months to repair damage from strike as components must come from Europe according to TASS. As the remains of the uavs have been recovered their effective range can be determined. I suspect they were launched from within Saudi territory.
vk , Sep 18 2019 16:05 utc | 170
Another official version came up. This time, from the Saudi military itself:

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of sponsoring oil-plant attack, says it 'couldn't have originated in Yemen'

Their main argument is that the attacks came "from the north".

If that's true, then the question remains: why didn't the Saudi radars detect it? Either b is lying, or the Saudi military is lying.

It's really hilarious at this point: the attack caught the West so low-guarded and stunned them so much that they can't even come up with a unified official narrative.

karlof1 , Sep 18 2019 16:12 utc | 172
Houthi Armed Forces Spokesman is at this moment tweeting a series of statements explaining how the last attack was done that includes drone capabilities and types of munitions used!!!!!!!!!!! An example:

"Drones have fission heads carrying four precision bombs."

bevin , Sep 18 2019 16:19 utc | 175
Given that the entire relationship between the USA and the KSA is an elaborate protection racket the failure of all those high priced systems to protect the oil fields against Ansrullah drones is particularly embarrassing.

It is embarrassing to the Saudis because they scarcely bother to unpack the weapons the US sends them-at premium prices - and dare not allow any of their countrymen to learn how to use them. And it is embarrassing to the Americans because they understand all this and ship over arms that don't work simply to ensure that those petrodollars circulate.

Hence the current campaign to convince us that Iran was responsible. Mind you, that propaganda is only effective so long as the American people don't really believe it because, if they did, they might demand war (you can imagine Pelosi, Schumer and Biden insisting on it) and Washington doesn't want that.
Jingoism isn't about fighting it's about threatening.

And, now that 57 varieties of Israeli Fascism are squabbling about whether the Prime Minister goes to jail for theft, even that distraction is no longer useful.

the pessimist , Sep 18 2019 16:29 utc | 177
Statement from the Iranians "Saudi press conference shows they are clueless about how attack was executed and know nothing about the military capabilities of their adversary".

Seems about right. Statement by bevin is on target.

[Sep 18, 2019] Yeah, right..

Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Lozion , Sep 18 2019 15:19 utc | 154

#SaudiArabia Defense Ministry press briefing:

Yeah, right..

[Sep 18, 2019] Will Trump Take Neocon Bait and Attack Iran Over Saudi Strike by Ron Paul

Sep 17, 2019 | www.ronpaulinstitute.org

The recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities by Yemeni Houthi forces demonstrate once again that an aggressive foreign policy often brings unintended consequences and can result in blowback. In 2015 Saudi Arabia attacked its neighbor, Yemen, because a coup in that country ousted the Saudi-backed dictator. Four years later Yemen is in ruins, with nearly 100,000 Yemenis killed and millions more facing death by starvation. It has been rightly called the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the planet.

But rich and powerful Saudi Arabia did not defeat Yemen. In fact, the Saudis last month asked the Trump Administration to help facilitate talks with the Houthis in hopes that the war, which has cost Saudi Arabia tens of billions of dollars, could finally end without Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman losing too much face. Washington admitted earlier this month that those talks had begun.

The surprise Houthi attack on Saturday disrupted half of Saudi Arabia's oil and gas production and shocked Washington. Predictably, however, the neocons are using the attack to call for war with Iran!

Sen. Lindsay Graham, one of the few people in Washington who makes John Bolton look like a dove, Tweeted yesterday that, "It is now time for the US to put on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries " Graham is the perfect embodiment of the saying, "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." No matter what the problem, for Graham the solution is war.

Likewise, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who is supposed to represent US diplomacy – jumped to blame Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabia, Tweeting that, "Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply." Of course, he provided no evidence even as the Houthis themselves took responsibility for the bombing.

What is remarkable is that all of Washington's warmongers are ready for war over what is actually a retaliatory strike by a country that is the victim of Saudi aggression, not the aggressor itself. Yemen did not attack Saudi Arabia in 2015. It was the other way around. If you start a war and the other country fights back, you should not be entitled to complain about how unfair the whole thing is.

The establishment reaction to the Yemeni oilfield strike reminds me of a hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee just before the US launched the 2003 Iraq war. As I was arguing against the authorization for that war, I pointed out that Iraq had never attacked the United States. One of my colleagues stopped me in mid-sentence, saying, "let me remind the gentleman that the Iraqis have been shooting at our planes for years." True, but those planes were bombing Iraq!

The neocons want a US war on Iran at any cost. They may feel temporarily at a disadvantage with the departure of their ally in the Trump Administration, John Bolton. However, the sad truth is that there are plenty more John Boltons in the Administration. And they have allies in the Lindsay Grahams in Congress.

Yemen has demonstrated that it can fight back against Saudi aggression. The only sensible way forward is for a rapid end to this four-year travesty, and the Saudis would be wise to wake up to the mess they've created for themselves. Whatever the case, US participation in Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen must end immediately and neocon lies about Iran's role in the war must be refuted and resisted.

[Sep 18, 2019] Middle East Mystery Theater: Who Attacked Saudi Arabia's Oil Supply?

Notable quotes:
"... Committee members Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Vir.) explicitly announced their opposition to war with Iran. And prominent war powers critic Sen. Jeff Markley (D-Ore.) quipped that, "[b]ack when Presidents used to follow the Constitution, they sought consent for military action from Congress, not foreign governments that murder reporters," referring to the assassination of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi. ..."
"... "Diplomacy by Twitter has not worked so far and it surely is not working with Iran. The president needs to stop threatening military strikes via social media," said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Mary.) in response to a question from the National Interest . "The attack on Saudi Arabia is troubling whether it was perpetrated by Houthi rebels or Iran. The U.S. should regain its leadership by working with our allies to isolate Iran for its belligerent actions in the region." ..."
"... "The U.S. should not be looking for any opportunity to start a dangerous and costly war with Iran. Congress has not authorized war against Iran and we've made it crystal clear that Saudi Arabia needs to withdraw from Yemen," he continued. ..."
"... Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) has long been a critic of Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, proposing a successful bill to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led war effort. (He did not have enough votes to override the veto.) After the attacks, he wrote a long Twitter thread explaining how "the Saudis sowed the seeds of this mess" in Yemen. ..."
"... "It's simply amazing how the Saudis call all our shots these days. We don't have a mutual defense alliance with KSA, for good reason. We shouldn't pretend we do," Murphy added. "And frankly, no matter where this latest drone strike was launched from, there is no short or long term upside to the U.S. military getting more deeply involved in the growing regional contest between the Saudis and Iranians." ..."
"... "Having our country act as Saudi Arabia's bitch is not 'America First,'" said Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, invoking a popular Trump slogan. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.), who had invoked Trump's antiwar message in a public feud with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) over the weekend, took to CNN to warn against striking Iran. ..."
"... "This is a regional conflict, that there's no reason the superpower of the United States needs to be getting into bombing mainland Iran. It would be a needless escalation of this," he told journalist Jake Tapper. "Those who loved the Iraq War, the Cheneys, the Boltons, the Kristols, they all are clamoring and champing at the bit for another war in Iran. But it's not a walk in the park." ..."
"... "In order to have clean ships by the first of January next year, all the world's shipping fleet from about now until the end of the year are busy emptying their tanks of heavy sulphur fuel oil and filling their tanks with low sulphur fuel oil, which is the new standard," Latham explained, claiming that the attack could have taken up to 20 percent of the world's desulphurization capacity out of commission. ..."
"... "This little accident was designed to be maximally disruptive to the world's oil market. It could not have happened at a worse time." "But what is really interesting is in Amsterdam this morning, I saw that for fuel oil -- the sulphurous stuff -- the price went down," Latham continued, speculating that international powers might delay the new environmental regulations by months and inadvertently drive down the price of oil in the long run. ..."
"... On Sunday, Trump tapped into emergency U.S. oil reserves, in order to stabilize prices. It's not clear, however, that the United States has enough oil to cope with wider attacks on energy infrastructure. "If the Iranians did this, they have shown they have pretty immense capabilities clearly," Parsi told the National Interest . "In the case of a full-scale war, imagine what this will do for the global economy. It's not that difficult to imagine what that will do to Trump's re-election prospects. I think that is something Trump understands." ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

Retired Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis pointed out that the puncture marks do not actually show the origin of the attack. "Missiles can fly from almost anywhere. They have the ability to maneuver! And certainly drones can, too," the Defense Priorities senior fellow told the National Interest . "There hasn't been the time to do an actual analysis on the ground, so let's wait and see."

Mark Latham, managing partner at the London-based analysis firm Commodities Intelligence, told the National Interest that the puncture marks pointed to a cruise missile with no explosive warhead. Removing the payload would allow the missile to carry more fuel and launch from farther away from its target.

... ... ...

"Mr. X is a sophisticated fellow. He's sourced some Iranian cruise missiles. He's removed the explosive payload. He's replaced the explosive payload with fuel," he said. "So this isn't your twenty dollar Amazon drone. This is a sophisticated military operation."

"The culprit behind the Abqaiq attack is most definitely the Islamic Republic, either directly or through one of its proxies," argued Varsha Koduvayur, a senior research analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

"The attack fits the pattern of Iran signaling to the Gulf states that if it can't get its oil out, it will cause their oil exports to become collateral damage," Koduvayur told the National Interest . "It's because of how strong our coercive financial tools are that Iran is resorting to attacks like this: it's lashing out."

Violating an Obama-era agreement to regulate Iran's nuclear research program, the Trump administration imposed massive sanctions on Iran's oil industry beginning in May 2018. The goal of this "maximum pressure" campaign was to force Iran to accept a "better" deal. Since then, Iranian forces have captured a British oil tanker and allegedly sabotaged tankers from other countries.

There were some signals that Trump was planning to use the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York to open a new diplomatic channel with Iran, especially after the firing of hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton. But the weekend attack sent Trump into reverse.

"Remember when Iran shot down a drone, saying knowingly that it was in their 'airspace' when, in fact, it was nowhere close. They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie," he said in a Monday morning Twitter post, referring to a June incident when Iranian and American forces almost went to war. "Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We'll see?"

He also hinted at a violent U.S. response.

"There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!" Trump wrote on Sunday.

"Saudi Arabia is not a formal treaty ally of ours, so there are no international agreements that obligate us to come to their defense," John Glaser, director of foreign-policy studies at the CATO Institute, stated. "This does not amount to a clear and present danger to the United States, so no self-defense justification is relevant. He would therefore need authorization from Congress."

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had mixed reactions to the attack.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) proposed putting "on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries" in order to "break the regime's back." His press office did not respond to a follow-up question from the National Interest asking whether the president would have the authority to do so.

Amy Grappone, spokeswoman for Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), told the National Interest that the Senator "will support an appropriate and proportionate response" after "studying the latest intelligence pertaining to Iran's malign activities, including these recent attacks in Saudi Arabia."

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, condemned the attack with a backhanded insult towards Saudi Arabia. "Despite some ongoing policy differences with the kingdom, no nation should be subjected to these kinds of attacks on it soil and against its people," he wrote on Twitter, declining to name Iran as the culprit.

Committee members Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Vir.) explicitly announced their opposition to war with Iran. And prominent war powers critic Sen. Jeff Markley (D-Ore.) quipped that, "[b]ack when Presidents used to follow the Constitution, they sought consent for military action from Congress, not foreign governments that murder reporters," referring to the assassination of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"Diplomacy by Twitter has not worked so far and it surely is not working with Iran. The president needs to stop threatening military strikes via social media," said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Mary.) in response to a question from the National Interest . "The attack on Saudi Arabia is troubling whether it was perpetrated by Houthi rebels or Iran. The U.S. should regain its leadership by working with our allies to isolate Iran for its belligerent actions in the region."

"The U.S. should not be looking for any opportunity to start a dangerous and costly war with Iran. Congress has not authorized war against Iran and we've made it crystal clear that Saudi Arabia needs to withdraw from Yemen," he continued.

Asked how he would vote on a declaration of war, the senator told the National Interest : "Let's hope it does not come to that. Congress has not authorized war against Iran. The majority voted to engage them diplomatically to slow their nuclear ambitions. The international community is ready to work with the U.S. again to ease economic pressure on Iran in exchange for their restraint. We are at a dangerous precipice."

In a statement emailed to the National Interest and posted to Twitter, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was even more direct: "The US should never go to war to protect Saudi oil."

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) has long been a critic of Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, proposing a successful bill to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led war effort. (He did not have enough votes to override the veto.) After the attacks, he wrote a long Twitter thread explaining how "the Saudis sowed the seeds of this mess" in Yemen.

"It's simply amazing how the Saudis call all our shots these days. We don't have a mutual defense alliance with KSA, for good reason. We shouldn't pretend we do," Murphy added. "And frankly, no matter where this latest drone strike was launched from, there is no short or long term upside to the U.S. military getting more deeply involved in the growing regional contest between the Saudis and Iranians."

But the reaction did not fall neatly along party lines.

"Iran is one of the most dangerous state sponsors of terrorism. This may well be the thing that calls for military action against Iran, if that's what the intelligence supports," said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) in a Monday interview with Fox News. Others pointed out that attacking Iran would contradict Trump's own principles.

"Having our country act as Saudi Arabia's bitch is not 'America First,'" said Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, invoking a popular Trump slogan. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.), who had invoked Trump's antiwar message in a public feud with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) over the weekend, took to CNN to warn against striking Iran.

"This is a regional conflict, that there's no reason the superpower of the United States needs to be getting into bombing mainland Iran. It would be a needless escalation of this," he told journalist Jake Tapper. "Those who loved the Iraq War, the Cheneys, the Boltons, the Kristols, they all are clamoring and champing at the bit for another war in Iran. But it's not a walk in the park."

Davis agreed with Paul's assessment. "There's too many people who have lost touch with understanding what war is all about. They think it's easy," he told the National Interest . "Just imagine this. What we go ahead and do this, and Iran makes good on their threats, and American warships get sunk in the Gulf?" "This is not America's fight," he concluded. "The American armed forces are not on loan as a Saudi defense force."

"There's another claim that the impact on oil markets is sufficient to impact the vital U.S. interest in the free flow of energy coming out of that region, but that argument quickly descends into absurdity when we remember that the Trump administration has been trying to zero-out Iranian oil exports, for a host of spurious reasons," Glaser told the National Interest . "Washington is also aggressively sanctioning Venezuela, making it harder for Caracas to bring oil to market, too. If we really cared about the supply of oil, we wouldn't be doing this."

In any case, the attack may not have affected oil markets in such a straightforward way. Latham says that the attack struck an oil desulphurization facility. At the moment, desulphurized fuel is in high demand from the shipping industry, which is rushing to comply with new international environmental regulations.

"In order to have clean ships by the first of January next year, all the world's shipping fleet from about now until the end of the year are busy emptying their tanks of heavy sulphur fuel oil and filling their tanks with low sulphur fuel oil, which is the new standard," Latham explained, claiming that the attack could have taken up to 20 percent of the world's desulphurization capacity out of commission.

"This little accident was designed to be maximally disruptive to the world's oil market. It could not have happened at a worse time." "But what is really interesting is in Amsterdam this morning, I saw that for fuel oil -- the sulphurous stuff -- the price went down," Latham continued, speculating that international powers might delay the new environmental regulations by months and inadvertently drive down the price of oil in the long run.

On Sunday, Trump tapped into emergency U.S. oil reserves, in order to stabilize prices. It's not clear, however, that the United States has enough oil to cope with wider attacks on energy infrastructure. "If the Iranians did this, they have shown they have pretty immense capabilities clearly," Parsi told the National Interest . "In the case of a full-scale war, imagine what this will do for the global economy. It's not that difficult to imagine what that will do to Trump's re-election prospects. I think that is something Trump understands."

Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest.

[Sep 18, 2019] To End Endless Wars, We Must Give Up Hegemony by Daniel Larison

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... American war-making will persist so long as the United States continues to seek military dominance across the globe. ..."
"... A government that imagines that it has both the right and responsibility to police the entire planet will find an excuse to mire itself in one or more conflicts on a regular basis, and if there isn't one available to join it will start some ..."
"... U.S. military dominance should have at least guaranteed that we remained at peace once our major adversary had collapsed at the end of the Cold War, but the dissolution of the USSR encouraged the U.S. to become much more aggressive and much more eager to use force whenever and wherever it wanted. Wertheim provides an answer for why this is: ..."
"... Why have interventions proliferated as challengers have shrunk? The basic cause is America's infatuation with military force. Its political class imagines that force will advance any aim, limiting debate to what that aim should be. ..."
"... Using force appeals to many American leaders and policymakers because they imagine that frequent military action cows and intimidates adversaries, but in practice it creates more enemies and wastes American lives and resources on fruitless conflicts. ..."
"... The constant warfare of the last two decades in particular has corroded our political system and inured the public to the idea that it is normal that American soldiers and Marines are always fighting and dying in some foreign country in pursuit of nebulous goals, but nothing could be more abnormal and wrong than this. ..."
"... Our establishment would rather give up their skin. They don't call it hegemony, they call it the post ww2 order, leadership, resisting isolationism or some other such nonsense. ..."
"... any country that attempts to gain enough power to assert its own sovereignty is considered a threat that must be crushed and we roll out all of the tools at our disposal to do it. ..."
"... Al Qaeda's attack on us was due to us using them as a tool to stop Russia's push into Afghanistan. ..."
"... Good luck with that. We are ruled by people who are functionally indistinguishable from sociopaths, and sociopaths learn only from reward and punishment. ..."
"... I do not see a politically feasible way to end our global empire without destabilizing that same globe that has come to rely on our military power. ..."
"... Empires have a sort of inertia, and few in history voluntarily give up dominion. ..."
"... What is unsustainable is the current rate of government spending. The current rate of military spending is driving up our debt and making it impossible to reinvest in desperately needed infrastructure. ..."
"... We have been coasting on the infrastructure investments of the 50's and 60's but if we don't start cutting military spending and redirecting that money elsewhere we are going to be bankrupt. ..."
"... I agree that it is almost impossible to conceive of any scenario whereby this "ideology" of so-called world order and/ hegemony would change in the US and in its puppets. ..."
"... The deck is so totally stacked in favor of this ideology, the totally controlled MSM, the MIC, the corrupt and controlled congress, and the presidential admin structure itself, would never allow this mantra to be challenged. ..."
"... It is all about greed and power-the psychopaths pursuing and defending this 'ideology' would never ever go quietly. The money and power is too corrupting. ..."
"... I'm not sure that most of the citizens in those European countries we occupy actually support our permanent military presence in their countries. ..."
"... The new paradigm is that private militarism dominates government, turning it to its preferred priorities of moneymaking warmaking. ..."
Sep 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Stephen Wertheim explains what is required to bring an end to unnecessary and open-ended U.S. wars overseas:

American war-making will persist so long as the United States continues to seek military dominance across the globe. Dominance, assumed to ensure peace, in fact guarantees war. To get serious about stopping endless war, American leaders must do what they most resist: end America's commitment to armed supremacy and embrace a world of pluralism and peace.

Any government that presumes to be the world's hegemon will be fighting somewhere almost all of the time, because its political leaders will see everything around the world as their business and it will see every manageable threat as a challenge to their "leadership." A government that imagines that it has both the right and responsibility to police the entire planet will find an excuse to mire itself in one or more conflicts on a regular basis, and if there isn't one available to join it will start some.

U.S. military dominance should have at least guaranteed that we remained at peace once our major adversary had collapsed at the end of the Cold War, but the dissolution of the USSR encouraged the U.S. to become much more aggressive and much more eager to use force whenever and wherever it wanted. Wertheim provides an answer for why this is:

Why have interventions proliferated as challengers have shrunk? The basic cause is America's infatuation with military force. Its political class imagines that force will advance any aim, limiting debate to what that aim should be.

Using force appeals to many American leaders and policymakers because they imagine that frequent military action cows and intimidates adversaries, but in practice it creates more enemies and wastes American lives and resources on fruitless conflicts. Our government's frenetic interventionism and meddling for the last thirty years hasn't made our country the slightest bit more secure, but it has sown chaos and instability across at least two continents. Wertheim continues:

Continued gains by the Taliban, 18 years after the United States initially toppled it, suggest a different principle: The profligate deployment of force creates new and unnecessary objectives more than it realizes existing and worthy ones.

The constant warfare of the last two decades in particular has corroded our political system and inured the public to the idea that it is normal that American soldiers and Marines are always fighting and dying in some foreign country in pursuit of nebulous goals, but nothing could be more abnormal and wrong than this. Constant warfare achieves nothing except to provide an excuse for more of the same. The longer that a war drags on, one would think that it should become easier to bring it to an end, but we have seen that it becomes harder for both political and military leaders to give up on an unwinnable conflict when it has become an almost permanent part of our foreign policy. For many policymakers and pundits, what matters is that the U.S. not be perceived as losing, and so our military keeps fighting without an end in sight for the sake of this "not losing."

Wertheim adds:

Despite Mr. Trump's rhetoric about ending endless wars, the president insists that "our military dominance must be unquestioned" -- even though no one believes he has a strategy to use power or a theory to bring peace. Armed domination has become an end in itself.

Seeking to maintain this dominance is ultimately unsustainable, and as it becomes more expensive and less popular it will also become increasingly dangerous as we find ourselves confronted with even more capable adversaries. For the last thirty years, the U.S. has been fortunate to be secure and prosperous enough that it could indulge in decades of fruitless militarism, but that luck won't hold forever. It is far better if the U.S. give up on hegemony and the militarism that goes with it on our terms.


chris chuba 2 days ago

Our establishment would rather give up their skin. They don't call it hegemony, they call it the post ww2 order, leadership, resisting isolationism or some other such nonsense.

Truth be told, as your article states, any country that attempts to gain enough power to assert its own sovereignty is considered a threat that must be crushed and we roll out all of the tools at our disposal to do it.

It makes us less safe. Isolationism did not cause 9/11. In the 90's when we were being attacked by Al Qaeda we were too distracted dancing on Russia's bones to pay any attention to them. While Al Qaeda was attacking our troops and blowing up our buildings we were bombing Serbia, expanding NATO and reelecting Yeltsin and sticking it to Iran.

IanDakar chris chuba 16 hours ago
It goes beyond that. Al Qaeda's attack on us was due to us using them as a tool to stop Russia's push into Afghanistan. We later abandoned them when the job was done: a pack hound we trained, pushed to fight, then left in the forest abandoned and starved. Then we wonder why it came back growling.

Isolationism may not be the most effective solution to things, but I'll admit a LOT of pain, on ourselves and others, would've never happened if we took that policy.

Sid Finster 2 days ago
Good luck with that. We are ruled by people who are functionally indistinguishable from sociopaths, and sociopaths learn only from reward and punishment.

So far, they only have been rewarded for their crimes.

Clyde Schechter 2 days ago
While I think the economic basis of the Soviet Union was faulty, and it had lost the popular support it might have had in early days, the USSR's military aggression, particularly in Afghanistan, was a major precipitating factor in its downfall. It would have eventually crumbled, I believe, anyway, but had they taken a less aggressive stance I think they would have lasted several decades longer.
Sceptical Gorilla 2 days ago
Is it really in our hands to actually disengage though? Is this politically feasible?

How does this work? The US gets up one day and says "We're pulling all of our troops out of Saudi and SK. No more funding for Israel! No bolstering the pencil-thin government of Afghanistan. All naval bases abroad will be shut down. Longstanding alliances and interests be damned!"

I sympathize very strongly with the notion that we must use military force wisely and with restraint, and perhaps even that the post-WW2 expansion abroad was a mistake, but I do not see a politically feasible way to end our global empire without destabilizing that same globe that has come to rely on our military power.

This is the world we live in, whether we like it or not, and barring some military or economic disaster that forces a strategic realignment or retreat (like WW2 did for the old European powers) I don't know how you practically pull back. Empires have a sort of inertia, and few in history voluntarily give up dominion.

Stumble Sceptical Gorilla 2 days ago
What is unsustainable is the current rate of government spending. The current rate of military spending is driving up our debt and making it impossible to reinvest in desperately needed infrastructure.

We have been coasting on the infrastructure investments of the 50's and 60's but if we don't start cutting military spending and redirecting that money elsewhere we are going to be bankrupt.

Sid Finster Sceptical Gorilla 2 days ago
The USA are the source of a lot of the world's instability.
Sceptical Gorilla Sid Finster 2 days ago
Sure. That doesn't mean American withdrawal would create less instability in toto. Maybe it would. Who knows? We mortals can only take counterfactuals so far.
Mojrim ibn Harb Sceptical Gorilla 2 days ago
Lovely strawman you have there...
Taras77 2 days ago
Excellent article, excellent skeptical comments below.

I agree that it is almost impossible to conceive of any scenario whereby this "ideology" of so-called world order and/ hegemony would change in the US and in its puppets.

The deck is so totally stacked in favor of this ideology, the totally controlled MSM, the MIC, the corrupt and controlled congress, and the presidential admin structure itself, would never allow this mantra to be challenged.

It is all about greed and power-the psychopaths pursuing and defending this 'ideology' would never ever go quietly. The money and power is too corrupting.

Maybe, just maybe, however, as we are at $22 trillion in debt and counting (just saw a total tab for F-35 of $1.5 trillion) that the money will run out, and zero interest rate financing is not all that awesome, this unsustainable mindlessness will be curtailed or even better, changed.

polistra24 2 days ago • edited
It's not really hegemony. Old-fashioned empires took over territory in order to gain resources and labor. We haven't done that since 1920. Especially since 1990 we've been making war purely to destroy and obliterate. When our war is done there's nothing left to dominate or own.

Domestically we've been using politics and media and controlled culture to do the same thing. Create "terrorists" and "extremists" on "two" "sides", set them loose, enjoy the resulting chaos. Chaos is the declared goal, and it's been working beautifully for 70 years.

China is expanding empire in Africa and Asia the old-fashioned way, improving farms and factories in order to have exclusive purchase of their output.

Mojrim ibn Harb polistra24 2 days ago
Join the liberal order or we'll wreck your country. That's hegemony.
Mark B. 2 days ago
Could not have said it better. "On our terms" would mean that Europe is forced to take matters of military security in it's own hands, I hope. But chanches are slim, history shows empires must fall hard and break a leg or so first before anything changes. Iran, Saudi-arabia, the greater ME, China, the trade wars and the world economy are coming together for a perfect storm it seems.
James_R Mark B. 2 days ago
"On our terms" would mean that Europe is forced to take matters of military security in it's own hands, I hope.".................

I'm not sure that most of the citizens in those European countries we occupy actually support our permanent military presence in their countries.

AllenQ 2 days ago
The problem with US hegemony is Israel. Look around the world. Neither Japan nor South Korea nor Vietnam nor Philippines nor India nor Indonesia nor Australia (the same can be said for South and Central America, Mexico, Canada and Europe) require a significant US presence.

None of them are asking for a greater presence in their country (except Poland) while being perfectly happy with our alliance, joint defense, trade, intelligence and technology sharing.

It is only Israel and Saudi Arabia which are constantly pushing the US into middle eastern wars and quagmires that we have no national interest. Trump sees the plain truth that the US is in jeopardy of losing its manufacturing and its technological lead to China. If we (US) dont start to rebuild our infrastructure, our defense, our cities, our communities, our manufacturing, our educational system then our nation is going to follow California into a 3rd world totalitarian state dominated by democratic voting immigrants whose only affiliation to our country and our constitutional republic is a welfare check, free govt programs and incestuous govt contracts which funnel govt dollars into the re-election PACs of democratic / liberal elected officials.

Fran Macadam 2 days ago
The new paradigm is that private militarism dominates government, turning it to its preferred priorities of moneymaking warmaking. Defeat is now when war's income streams end. The only wars that are lost, are those that end, defeating the winning of war profits. War, as a financial success story, has become an end in itself, and an empire that looks for more to wage means some mighty big wages with more profit opportunities. Victory is to be avoided - red ink being spilled through peace detestable - and blood spilled profitably to be encouraged.
Doom Incarnate a day ago
Fighting is good for business, so the fighting will continue.

[Sep 18, 2019] This B's posting is further proof that the US of A (and it's flunky allies) are indeed led by the stupid, corrupt, and ignorant

The dangerous disease that inflict the USA neoliberal elite can be called "supremacism delirium"
As for quality of arms produced, when profit is the main motivation, the quality of design suffer. Still despite recent setbacks the USA remain the leader in new arm technologies.
Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
GeorgeV , Sep 17 2019 20:09 utc | 8
B's posting is further proof that the US of A (and it's flunky allies) are indeed led by the stupid, corrupt, and ignorant.

While Russia and Iran are taking rational routes to protect themselves, the US and it's allies are pouring billions, if not trillions, of dollars (and thousands of lives) into a foreign policy that can only be described as the foreign policy of God, for it passes all human understanding.


karlof1 , Sep 17 2019 20:12 utc | 9

Thanks b! One way looking radar is so Pre-Second World War! The Patriot's MPQ-53 radar has a search sector of 90° and track capability of 120°--an amazingly inferior capability I wasn't aware of, nor is the vast majority of the public, which is why that twitter gif I linked to on the previous thread is humorous. In that comment, it was said that the radar's were reoriented to aim at Houthiland which is the given excuse as to why the Iranian attack wasn't detected. I don't buy that for an instant.

Houthi media's gone silent for now as it awaits a response from Saudis before launching there next attack in under 48 hours--yes, they did place an actual time, but were very general about the types of targets, although the top threat remains hydrocarbon infrastructure. RT reports :

"Saudi Arabia's energy minister said that its oil supplies had resumed and that its oil market would be 'fully back online' by the end of September following attacks which Washington blames on Iran while Riyadh is still probing.

"Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told the media that oil production in October would reach 9.89 million barrels per day and 12 million bpd by the end of November."

We shall see if the output equals the boast, particularly if Houthis continue their attacks. No questions about providing better defenses reminds me of the Death Star Commandeer's famous last words about his weapon's invincibility.

Meanwhile, Nuttyahoo's coalition's narrowly losing the election.

Christian J Chuba , Sep 17 2019 20:18 utc | 11
Fighting Dirty w/Aysymmetric Warfare

I love how the warmongers on FOX / CNN make Iran / Russia sound nefarious that they call their strategy A2D2 or asymmetric warfare (aka actual defense of their country instead of power projection). How is using short / medium range missiles or a green water navy 'asymmetric'?

If we do go to war w/Iran the only way we win is by committing war crimes by bombing population centers until they surrender, we can't beat them in a straight up fight. I'm not a military wonk but I can see the relative competence levels. We can't even get a decent photo of a boat with a bomb on it after it's been sitting in broad daylight for 10hrs.

[Sep 18, 2019] Who says Mr Trump is unpredictable? He predictably selected yet another rabid neocon for the National Security advisor position in this administration

Sep 18, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Sydney an hour ago

Who says Mr Trump is unpredictable? Is there anybody expected anything else from Mr Trump when it comes to picking his advisers or making thoughtful decisions? Let's be serious, Mr Trump did not pick Mr Robert O'Brien. The Bolton, Pompeo, Pence triumvirate picked Trump's NSA; naturally.

[Sep 18, 2019] Looks like the US> empire's best strategists reached the limits of their geostrategic talent playing the board game Risk

Notable quotes:
"... Henry Kissenger, Zibigniew Brezinski, James Baker, etc. what a crock! oh yeah, almost forgot about that other duped asshat... ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

john , Sep 18 2019 12:46 utc | 125

William Gruff says:

To maintain this fiction they must overlook the fact that their empire's best strategists reached the limits of their geostrategic talent playing the board game Risk

hahaha, yeah, a million laughs...all of that brilliant geopolitical strategizing from starched suits bending our ears for the last how many decades turns out to be so much deluded horseshit. Henry Kissenger, Zibigniew Brezinski, James Baker, etc. what a crock! oh yeah, almost forgot about that other duped asshat...Oded Yinon.

[Sep 18, 2019] Jerry Nadler is aiming to become the Rachael Maddow of Adam Schiffs

Humor aside Corey Lewandowski Opening statement deserves to be listened. Just 5 min.
This was obviously a Dog & Pony show by Nadler and his gang who can't shoot strait
Sep 18, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Seminole Nation , 5 hours ago

"Jerry Nadler is aiming to become the Rachael Maddow of Adam Schiffs" – Dan Bongino (3-24-19)

Gilbert Perea , 9 hours ago

You have to laugh , I wonder if Mr. Cowen has a chicken wing in his jacket pocket.

RIC shady , 7 hours ago

"The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all." - Valery Legasov, Soviet chemist

ZENIGMATV , 3 hours ago

Nadler:Corey what time is it? Corey :It's 2pm. Nadler: The clock shows 1:59 . Charge Corey for lying to Congress! All a gotcha game by a group of angry haters.

ZENIGMATV , 3 hours ago

Nadler:Corey what time is it? Corey :It's 2pm. Nadler: The clock shows 1:59 . Charge Corey for lying to Congress! All a gotcha game by a group of angry haters.

Jim Carpenter , 6 hours ago

Nadler provides so much comic relief!!!! He is definitely one of my all time favorite oafs.

Forever Joy , 9 hours ago

40 million tax payer dollars wasted...boom! Pathetic, thanks Democrats!

Bobwehada Babyitzaboy , 3 hours ago

3rd time. If that were good for the left they wouldn't shut up about it. This is another witch hunt with attempt to deceive

Dr.Roberto Rodriguez Jr. , 5 hours ago

What a joke. Democratic live in a fantasy world

Ricky Alfaro , 5 hours ago

Corey is toast!

Teresa Upchurch , 8 hours ago

This is obviously a Dog & Pony show by the Nadler nerd group of Demonrats! Can't even follow the House rules. Sickening !!!

[Sep 18, 2019] Notes of Biden performance during the last debate

Sep 13, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

+ Apparently, Obama and Biden only caged kids who deserved to be caged.

+ Biden continues to lie about his position on the Iraq war and he lies so badly that no one, not even Bernie, bothers to call him on it.

+ Whatever brain-eating disease Biden has seems to be contagious, gnawing inexorably through the gray matter of the other candidates

+ CNN: "Biden had his best debate." Ok, I know I didn't drop acid tonight. Did Wolf Blitzer spike the company water cooler?

+ Really, Baltz ? Biden was incoherent on NATFA, lied about the Iraq war, couldn't describe his health care plan, derided black families, stumbled over his immigration record & went completely loco at the end. Other than that

[Sep 18, 2019] F-35 Fighter as the ritual construction similar to Egyptian pyramids, the Cathedral for MIC.

Sep 18, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

The Egyptians had pyramids. The Romans had roads, aqueducts, and coliseums. The medieval Europeans had castles and cathedrals. These days, America's pyramids, aqueducts, and cathedrals are those warplanes, among other deadly weapons programs , including a $1.7 trillion one to "modernize" the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

... ... ...

As ephemeral as the F-35 stealth fighter may prove in historical terms, it's already a classic symbol of America's ever more fruitless forever wars . Like them , the F-35 program has proven staggeringly expensive, incredibly wasteful, and impossible to stop, no matter the woeful results . It has come to symbolize the too-big-to-fail, too-sacrosanct-to-reject part of America's militarized culture of technological violence.

... ... ...

Harper's Andrew Cockburn recently used it to illustrate what he termed "the Pentagon Syndrome ," the practice of expending enormous sums on weapons of marginal utility.

[Sep 18, 2019] The groundwork is being laid for expensive new races in intermediate-range missile systems in Europe and Asia, which will likely decrease stability in both regions.

Sep 18, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

Nick Klaus 5 hours ago ,

Now we need to bury the agreement on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and on the ban on nuclear testing!
And the world will be truly safe!

[Sep 18, 2019] The European Court of Human Rights have found that there was credible evidence that Magnitskiy was indeed engaged in tax fraud, in conspiracy with Browder, and he was rightfully charged.

Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Off Topic , Sep 18 2019 11:07 utc | 116

The conscientious judges of the European Court of Human Rights published a judgement a fortnight ago which utterly exploded the version of events promulgated by Western governments and media in the case of the late Mr Magnitskiy. Yet I can find no truthful report of the judgement in the mainstream media at all.

The myth is that Magnitskiy was an honest rights campaigner and accountant who discovered corruption by Russian officials and threatened to expose it, and was consequently imprisoned on false charges and then tortured and killed. A campaign over his death was led by his former business partner, hedge fund manager Bill Browder, who wanted massive compensation for Russian assets allegedly swindled from their venture. The campaign led to the passing of the Magnitskiy Act in the United States, providing powers for sanctioning individuals responsible for human rights abuses, and also led to matching sanctions being developed by the EU.

However the European Court of Human Rights has found, in judging a case brought against Russia by the Magnitskiy family, that the very essence of this story is untrue. They find that there was credible evidence that Magnitskiy was indeed engaged in tax fraud, in conspiracy with Browder, and he was rightfully charged. The ECHR also found there was credible evidence that Magnitskiy was indeed a flight risk so he was rightfully detained. And most crucially of all, they find that there was credible evidence of tax fraud by Magnitskiy and action by the authorities "years" before he started to make counter-accusations of corruption against officials investigating his case.

This judgement utterly explodes the accepted narrative, and does it very succinctly:

<...>

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/09/the-magnitskiy-myth-exploded/

[Sep 18, 2019] The specter of Marx haunts the American ruling class - World Socialist Web Site

Nov 06, 2018 | www.wsws.org
White House report on socialism

Last month, the Council of Economic Advisers, an agency of the Trump White House, released an extraordinary report titled "The Opportunity Costs of Socialism." The report begins with the statement: "Coincident with the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx's birth, socialism is making a comeback in American political discourse. Detailed policy proposals from self-declared socialists are gaining support in Congress and among much of the younger electorate."

The very fact that the US government officially acknowledges a growth of popular support for socialism, particularly among the nation's youth, testifies to vast changes taking place in the political consciousness of the working class and the terror this is striking within the ruling elite. America is, after all, a country where anti-communism was for the greater part of a century a state-sponsored secular religion. No ruling class has so ruthlessly sought to exclude socialist politics from political discourse as the American ruling class.

The 70-page document is itself an inane right-wing screed. It seeks to discredit socialism by identifying it with capitalist countries such as Venezuela that have expanded state ownership of parts of the economy while protecting private ownership of the banks, and, with the post-2008 collapse of oil and other commodity prices, increasingly attacked the living standards of the working class.

It identifies socialism with proposals for mild social reform such as "Medicare for all," raised and increasingly abandoned by a section of the Democratic Party. It cites Milton Friedman and Margaret Thatcher to promote the virtues of "economic freedom," i.e., the unrestrained operation of the capitalist market, and to denounce all social reforms, business regulations, tax increases or anything else that impinges on the oligarchy's self-enrichment.

The report's arguments and themes find expression in the fascistic campaign speeches of Donald Trump, who routinely and absurdly attacks the Democrats as socialists and accuses them of seeking to turn America into another "socialist" Venezuela.

What has prompted this effort to blackguard socialism?

A series of recent polls in the US and Europe have shown a sharp growth of popular disgust with capitalism and support for socialism. In May of 2017, in a survey conducted by the Union of European Broadcasters of people aged 18 to 35, more than half said they would participate in a "large-scale uprising." Nine out of 10 agreed with the statement, "Banks and money rule the world."

Last November, a poll conducted by YouGov showed that 51 percent of Americans between the ages of 21 and 29 would prefer to live in a socialist or communist country than in a capitalist country.

In August of this year, a Gallup poll found that for the first time since the organization began tracking the figure, fewer than half of Americans aged 18–29 had a positive view of capitalism, while more than half had a positive view of socialism. The percentage of young people viewing capitalism positively fell from 68 percent in 2010 to 45 percent this year, a 23-percentage point drop in just eight years.

This surge in interest in socialism is bound up with a resurgence of class struggle in the US and internationally. In the United States, the number of major strikes so far this year, 21, is triple the number in 2017. The ruling class was particularly terrified by the teachers' walkouts earlier this year because the biggest strikes were organized by rank-and-file educators in a rebellion against the unions, reflecting the weakening grip of the pro-corporate organizations that have suppressed the class struggle for decades.

The growth of the class struggle is an objective process that is driven by the global crisis of capitalism , which finds its most acute social and political expression in the center of world capitalism -- the United States. It is the class struggle that provides the key to the fight for genuine socialism.

Masses of workers and youth are being driven into struggle and politically radicalized by decades of uninterrupted war and the staggering growth of social inequality. This process has accelerated during the 10 years since the Wall Street crash of 2008. The Obama years saw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in history, the escalation of the wars begun under Bush and their spread to Libya, Syria and Yemen, and the intensification of mass surveillance, attacks on immigrants and other police state measures.

This paved the way for the elevation of Trump, the personification of the criminality and backwardness of the ruling oligarchy.

Under conditions where the typical CEO in the US now makes in a single day almost as much as the average worker makes in an entire year, and the net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans has doubled over the past decade, the working class is looking for a radical alternative to the status quo. As the Socialist Equality Party wrote in its program eight years ago, " The Breakdown of Capitalism and the Fight for Socialism in the United States ":

The change in objective conditions, however, will lead American workers to change their minds. The reality of capitalism will provide workers with many reasons to fight for a fundamental and revolutionary change in the economic organization of society.

The response of the ruling class is two-fold. First, the abandonment of bourgeois democratic forms of rule and the turn toward dictatorship. The run-up to the midterm elections has revealed the advanced stage of these preparations, with Trump's fascistic attacks on immigrants, deployment of troops to the border, threats to gun down unarmed men, women and children seeking asylum, and his pledge to overturn the 14th Amendment establishing birthright citizenship.

That this has evoked no serious opposition from the Democrats and the media makes clear that the entire ruling class is united around a turn to authoritarianism. Indeed, the Democrats are spearheading the drive to censor the internet in order to silence left-wing and socialist opposition.

The second response is to promote phony socialists such as Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and other pseudo-left organizations in order to confuse the working class and channel its opposition back behind the Democratic Party.

In 2018, with Sanders totally integrated into the Democratic Party leadership, this role has been largely delegated to the DSA, which functions as an arm of the Democrats. Two DSA members, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Rashida Tlaib in Detroit, are likely to win seats in the House of Representatives as candidates of the Democratic Party.

The closer they come to taking office, the more they seek to distance themselves from their supposed socialist affiliation. Ocasio-Cortez, for example, joined Sanders in eulogizing the recently deceased war-monger John McCain, refused to answer when asked if she opposed the US wars in the Middle East, and dropped her campaign call for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The working class and youth are increasingly looking for a socialist alternative, but their understanding of socialism and its history is limited. Here the role of the revolutionary party, the Socialist Equality Party, is critical. It alone seeks to arm the emerging mass movement of the working class with a genuine revolutionary, socialist and internationalist program.

The SEP fights to mobilize and unite the working class in the US and internationally in opposition to the entire ruling elite and all of its bribed politicians and parties. As our program explains:

But socialism will be achieved only through the establishment of workers' power. This will be a difficult struggle Socialism is not a gift to be given to the working class. It must be fought for and won by the working class itself.

The task facing workers and youth looking for the way to fight against war, inequality, poverty and repression is to join and build the Socialist Equality Party to lead the coming mass struggles of the working class.

Barry Grey

[Sep 18, 2019] Neoliberalism in action: Another School Leadership Disaster Private Companies Work an Insider Game to Reap Lucrative Contracts

Notable quotes:
"... By Jeff Bryant, a writing fellow and chief correspondent for Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is a communications consultant, freelance writer, advocacy journalist, and director of the Education Opportunity Network, a strategy and messaging center for progressive education policy. His award-winning commentary and reporting routinely appear in prominent online news outlets, and he speaks frequently at national events about public education policy. Follow him on Twitter @jeffbcdm. produced by Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. ..."
"... One of the first school districts to become entangled in the conglomeration of firms Wise and Sundstrom assembled was Nashville, which in 2016 chose Jim Huge and Associates to help with hiring a new superintendent. The following year the board hired Shawn Joseph, whom Huge had recommended. ..."
"... Shortly after Joseph arrived in Nashville, according to local News Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams, he began pushing the district to give $1.8 million in no-bid contracts to Performance Matters, a Utah-based technology company that sells "software solutions" to school districts. ..."
"... In addition to pushing Performance Matters, Williams reported, Joseph gave an "inside track" to Discovery Education, a textbook and digital curriculum provider and another company he and his team had ties to from their work in Maryland. ..."
"... By June 2018, Nashville school board member Amy Frogge was questioning Joseph about possible connections these vendors might have to ERDI. A district audit would confirm that ERDI's affiliated companies -- including Performance Matters, Discovery Education, and six other companies -- had signed contracts totaling more than $17 million with the district since Joseph had been hired. ..."
"... "Too often, national search firms are also driven by money-making motives and/or connections with those seeking profit," Frogge contended. That conflict of interest is a concern not only in Nashville but also in other districts where school leaders with deep ties to education vendors and consultants have resulted in huge scandals that traumatized communities and cost taxpayers millions. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on September 18, 2019 by Lambert Strether

Lambert here: More corruption in the professional class.

By Jeff Bryant, a writing fellow and chief correspondent for Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is a communications consultant, freelance writer, advocacy journalist, and director of the Education Opportunity Network, a strategy and messaging center for progressive education policy. His award-winning commentary and reporting routinely appear in prominent online news outlets, and he speaks frequently at national events about public education policy. Follow him on Twitter @jeffbcdm. produced by Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute.

In July 2013, the education world was rocked when a breaking story by Chicago independent journalist Sarah Karp reported that district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had pushed through a no-bid $20 million contract to provide professional development to administrators with a private, for-profit company called SUPES Academy, which she had worked for a year before the deal transpired. Byrd-Bennett was also listed as a senior associate for PROACT Search, a superintendent search firm run by the same individuals who led SUPES.

By 2015, federal investigators looked into the deal and found reason to charge Byrd-Bennett for accepting bribes and kickbacks from the company that ran SUPES and PROACT. A year-and-a-half later, the story made national headlines when Byrd-Bennett was convicted and sentenced to prison for those charges. But anyone who thought this story was an anomaly would be mistaken. Similar conflicts of interest among private superintendent search firms, their associated consulting companies, and their handpicked school leaders have plagued multiple school districts across the country.

In an extensive examination, Our Schools has discovered an intricate web of businesses that reap lucrative school contracts funded by public tax dollars. These businesses are often able to place their handpicked candidates in school leadership positions who then help make the purchasing decision for the same businesses' other products and services, which often include professional development, strategic planning, computer-based services, or data analytics. The deals are often brokered in secrecy or presented to local school boards in ways that make insider schemes appear legitimate.

As in the Byrd-Bennett scandal, school officials who get caught in this web risk public humiliation, criminal investigation, and potential jail time, while the businesses that perpetuate this hidden arrangement continue to flourish and grow.

The results of these scandals are often disastrous. School policies and personnel are steered toward products that reward private companies rather than toward research-proven methods for supporting student learning and teacher performance. School governance becomes geared to the interests of well-connected individuals rather than the desires of teachers and voters. And when insider schemes become public, whole communities are thrown into chaos, sometimes for years, resulting in wasted education dollars and increased disillusionment with school systems and local governance.

While media accounts generally frame these scandals as examples of corrupt school leaders who got caught and brought to justice, reporters rarely delve into the corporate-operated enterprises that undergird the whole system.

A Potent Business Model

Months before Byrd-Bennett's conviction, another individual connected to the Chicago scandal, SUPES co-owner Gary Solomon, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges related to a scheme that diverted over $5 million in public money from the Chicago contracts into his private pocket.

Solomon, who had been forced out of a previous job as a high school administrator after he was accused of racist comments and "preying" on female students, cofounded SUPES -- along with sister companies PROACT Search and Synesi Associates -- with his former student Thomas Vranas, who also pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the Chicago deals.

Although Solomon and Vranas got caught and were convicted for their scheme, they nevertheless stumbled on a potent business model that combined PROACT's superintendent search services with SUPES Academy professional development programs and consulting by Synesi Associates to help districts "implement reform strategies." Combining leader recruitment with leadership training and consulting gave Solomon and Vranas three ways into a business relationship with a school district and multiple ways to upsell clients into more expensive new contracts.

New administrators PROACT helped place in leadership roles could be reliable allies for pitching professional development services to the district. School districts that had employed SUPES might be more inclined to hire PROACT for a leadership search. And Synesi would have an inside track for its consulting services. Further, any of the firm's school leader contacts who became idle between full-time jobs, which often happens in this profession, would be able to work for the firm as "associates."

School districts may have welcomed this arrangement as a form of "one-stop shopping" for their needs, but it's not hard to see how it could lead to conflicts of interest and a veil for fraud.

Chicago was not the only district that fell for the pitch. Shortly after news of the Byrd-Bennett scandal broke, school districts in DeKalb County , Illinois; Fayette County (Lexington), Kentucky; and Lancaster , Pennsylvania ended their contracts with PROACT.

In Iowa City, Iowa, a local reporter found the district had a contract with Synesi Associates to conduct an audit of the district and then hired PROACT to recruit candidates for a vacant director position. At the same time, superintendent Stephen Murley took 34 days off work to do paid consulting for those two organizations and for SUPES Academy.

In St. Louis , superintendent Kelvin Adams started consulting for SUPES shortly after the school board awarded a $125,000 contract to the firm, Sarah Karp and Melissa Sanchez reported. The district also awarded a $16,500 no-bid deal to Synesi.

But Solomon and Vranas did not invent this money-making strategy, nor did it die when they were convicted and sent to jail.

From Retail Store to Mega-Mall

In June 2016, the Chicago Sun Times reported that in the wake of the Byrd-Bennett scandal, parts of SUPES Academy were purchased by Joseph Wise and his partner David Sundstrom. Their Chicago-based firm Atlantic Research Partners (ARP) had already gotten at least $5 million in recent business from Chicago schools. (Sundstrom would later contend ARP rescinded the agreement to acquire SUPES and that the "only remaining connection between the companies" was a licensing of training material.)

Wise founded ARP with Sundstrom in 2007 after both had been ousted from their jobs in the Duval County, Florida, school district due to alleged "serious misconduct." According to the ARP website, the project's mission was to launch a "teacher-training program focused on instructional coaching and school capacity-building."

Around the same time ARP was acquiring parts of SUPES, the company also merged with Jim Huge and Associates, a firm with deep experience in school superintendent and other talent searches. Huge had also served as chief strategy officer for PROACT Search. The announced rationale of the merger was "to maximize seamless delivery of the intensive executive services to schools and school leaders."

Undoubtedly, what Wise and Sundstrom assembled was similar to the three-part business model Solomon and Vranas put together. What was different, though, was Wise and Sundstrom would expand on the model with their subsequent acquisition of Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI).

According to Louisiana school teacher and wily blogger Mercedes Schneider , Sundstrom registered an entity called ERDI Partners as a business with a Florida address in 2017.

But an entity called ERDI had been in existence since at least 2005 when an article in Education Week described the company as an intermediary organization bringing together school administrators and education vendors to help companies improve the products and services they offer school systems. Specifically, ERDI arranged get-togethers by paying superintendents consulting fees plus expenses to travel to conferences at luxury resorts where they would meet with company representatives. The companies, in turn, underwrote the conferences with substantial fees paid to ERDI.

Critics of ERDI argue that the company's model for paying school administrators for their advice on education products inevitably leads to conflict of interest issues when those administrators are presented with offers to purchase products promoted by ERDI.

Byrd-Bennett had a relationship with ERDI dating back to at least 2014 and was listed as senior advisor on the firm's website while she was employed as Chicago schools' CEO.

With the acquisition of ERDI, Wise and Sundstrom could transform their business model from a lone retail operation to a mega-mall of education vendors of all kinds.

'The Search Was Manipulated'

One of the first school districts to become entangled in the conglomeration of firms Wise and Sundstrom assembled was Nashville, which in 2016 chose Jim Huge and Associates to help with hiring a new superintendent. The following year the board hired Shawn Joseph, whom Huge had recommended.

Shortly after Joseph arrived in Nashville, according to local News Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams, he began pushing the district to give $1.8 million in no-bid contracts to Performance Matters, a Utah-based technology company that sells "software solutions" to school districts.

Williams found Joseph had spoken at the company's conference and he had touted the company's software products in promotional materials while he was employed in his previous job in Maryland. Williams also unearthed emails showing Joseph began contract talks with Performance Matters two weeks before he formally took office in Nashville. What also struck Williams as odd was that despite the considerable cost of the contract, district employees were not required to use the software.

In addition to pushing Performance Matters, Williams reported, Joseph gave an "inside track" to Discovery Education, a textbook and digital curriculum provider and another company he and his team had ties to from their work in Maryland. With Joseph's backing, Discovery Education received an $11.4 million contract to provide a new science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) program even though a smaller company came in with a bid that was a fraction of what Discovery proposed.

By June 2018, Nashville school board member Amy Frogge was questioning Joseph about possible connections these vendors might have to ERDI. A district audit would confirm that ERDI's affiliated companies -- including Performance Matters, Discovery Education, and six other companies -- had signed contracts totaling more than $17 million with the district since Joseph had been hired.

Frogge also came to realize that all these enterprises were connected to the firm who had been instrumental in hiring Joseph -- Jim Huge and Associates.

"The search that brought Shawn Joseph to Nashville was clearly manipulated," Frogge told Our Schools in an email, "and the school board was kept in the dark about Joseph's previous tenure in Maryland and his relationships with vendor companies."

Frogge said some of the manipulation occurred when the search firm told school board members that disputes among current board members -- over charter schools, school finances, and other issues -- indicated the district was "'too dysfunctional' to hire top-level superintendents and therefore needed to hire a less experienced candidate."

But previous investigations of school leadership search firms conducted by Our Schools have found companies like these frequently forego background checks of prospective candidates they recommend, promote favored candidates regardless of their experience or track record, and push board members to keep the entire search process, including the final candidates, confidential from public scrutiny.

"Too often, national search firms are also driven by money-making motives and/or connections with those seeking profit," Frogge contended. That conflict of interest is a concern not only in Nashville but also in other districts where school leaders with deep ties to education vendors and consultants have resulted in huge scandals that traumatized communities and cost taxpayers millions.

In the Youngstown City School District in Ohio, CEO Krish Mohip became mired in questions about his role as a paid consultant for ERDI while the district had a $261,914 contract with a partner company of ERDI. Under calls for his resignation, Mohip left before his contract was up.

Beaufort County School District in South Carolina became the subject of an FBI investigation because of contracts with ERDI and 30 other companies connected to the firm while superintendent Jeff Moss worked as a paid consultant for ERDI. He resigned from the district two years before his contract was up.

In Pittsburgh, superintendent Anthony Hamlet drew scrutiny when reporters found the district spent more than $14 million on dozens of no-bid contracts to firms connected to ERDI at the same time Hamlet was serving as a paid consultant with the company.

In Baltimore County, Maryland, Shaun Dallas Dance made national headlines when he was convicted of perjury committed during his time as superintendent of the district. Dance had concealed $4,600 he'd been paid by ERDI. After Dance participated in confidential meetings with vendors at an ERDI conference, the district extended contracts from companies connected to the firm.

Obviously, school board members could avoid these conflicts by avoiding leadership search firms and consultants connected to ERDI. But that is easier said than done.

After Baltimore County's troubles with Dance, it hired the independent firm Ray and Associates to conduct a search to find an interim leader. The search resulted in six finalists, from which the board chose Verletta White. Shortly after she took the job, the board's ethics review panel found she had violated financial disclosure rules and "used the prestige of her office or public position for private gain" by accepting compensation from ERDI.

Indeed, superintendent search firms frequently fail to find conflicts of interest and other problems in the candidate background checks they conduct. And some of these firms operate side businesses that also lead to conflict of interest issues.

A Revolving Door of Business Deals Funded by Taxpayers

One of the largest superintendent search firms in the United States, Schaumburg, Illinois-based Hazard, Young, and Attea (HYA), is part of the ECRA Group , a consulting firm providing an array of services to schools.

ECRA claims to have worked with over 1,000 districts, but a close examination of how the company worked with a number of school districts in Illinois reveals how the firm uses a revolving-door business model in which its search service rotates administrators into and out of leadership positions while the company uses those leadership connections to successfully upsell districts into expensive long-term consulting contracts funded by taxpayers.

ECRA's business relationships with Oak Park Elementary District 97 in Illinois go back to at least 2010 when it was hired to help replace outgoing superintendent Constance Collins. With HYA's help , the district hired Albert Roberts. In 2013, during Roberts' tenure, school board minutes show the district considered a plan to hire ECRA to analyze the district's achievement data at a cost of $74,000 a year. The following year, the district hired ECRA to produce an analysis of the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students in the district. Board minutes from 2015 show the district continuing to work with ECRA.

When Roberts retired, District 97 used HYA again for a superintendent search that resulted in hiring Carol Kelley. Kelley currently appears in ECRA's marketing literature touting the firm's Strategic Dashboard, which District 97 apparently employs.

Former superintendent Collins was hired to lead Round Lake District 116, also in Illinois, just before HYA and ECRA acquired the district's superintendent search and strategic planning contracts. Under her tenure, Round Lake paid ECRA $75,918 for consulting services in 2016 , 2017 , and 2018 . Collins retired from Round Lake in 2018, but, according to her LinkedIn page, she became an HYA associate in 2017. She also serves on the advisory board of ECRA, according to her bio at a nonprofit for developing school leaders.

Another Illinois district, Niles Township High School District 219, placed its superintendent on administrative leave after it became known she was the daughter of the president of ECRA, which had a contract with the district worth $149,419 and $120,389 in the final two years of her tenure. (She claimed that relationship with ECRA dated to before she was made superintendent, but she decided to resign anyway.)

Huntley Community School District 158, also in Illinois, had contractual arrangements with ECRA dating to at least 2009 when John Burkey was superintendent. When Burkey resigned in 2017, District 158 hired HYA to find a new superintendent at a cost of $17,500. At the end of a hiring process in which HYA kept all finalists confidential , District 158 announced it had hired Scott Rowe. Under his leadership, District 158 spent $94,980.11 on ECRA in 2018 alone.

One more example in Illinois: Evanston/Skokie School District 65 has hired ECRA for a variety of consulting services since at least 2010 when it paid the firm $22,737.50, according to state records, to survey the district's administrators. By 2013, Evanston/Skokie considered ECRA a "long-standing partner" and hired the firm to help pick its new superintendent. Outgoing superintendent Hardy Murphy also recommended the district hire the firm for teacher appraisal work.

Based on HYA's recommendations , Evanston/Skokie hired Paul Goren in 2014, and under his tenure, checks continued to flow to ECRA's consulting business, including $129,855.92 in 2015 . However, Goren's tenure was troubled and brief, and in 2019 he resigned with a $100,000 severance package. A local reporter noticed that unmentioned in the district's settlement statement was that under his leadership "the district's own progress reports [showed] declines in test scores across all groups of students and district losing ground against its own five-year targets."

ECRA's own leadership has also been embroiled in conflict of interest issues. Current ECRA president Glenn "Max" McGee resigned from his last superintendent job, in Palo Alto, California after an outside investigation found the district had mishandled claims of sexual assault. With a payout of roughly $150,000, McGee, on his way out the door, recommended the district hire HYA to conduct the search for his replacement, just after he had accepted the offer to become leader of ECRA. The district went with McGee's recommendation.

When asked whether this relationship among McGee, ECRA, and the Palo Alto district was a possible conflict of interest, McGee told Our Schools in a phone call that he "stayed out of the search" to fill his old position. Of his replacement, Don Austin from nearby Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District in California, McGee admitted being an acquaintance of "many years."

Who's to Blame?

When controversies arise over superintendents and contracts with outside services, private firms that are responsible for pushing these hiring and outsourcing decisions are quick to blame school board members who signed off on the decisions. And critics of public schools frequently use these scandals to argue that democratically elected school boards are dysfunctional and need to be scrapped for other governance structures.

These criticisms leave a lot of context out.

First, being a school board member is customarily a part-time job paying very little money. And school board members are elected to serve as representatives of parents and voters, not to be experts on school finance and administration.

"School board members, although often well intentioned, are sometimes too unqualified and uninformed to exercise effective oversight of spending, and board members are not aware of the personal relationships and personal interests that may be driving decisions by administrative leaders," Nashville board member Frogge explained.

Also, there are multiple ways superintendents can keep board members in the dark about the inner workings of contractor relationships and district operations.

"From the beginning, Joseph surrounded himself with those who promoted him, including organizations he hired to 'train' the board," Frogge explained. "Joseph also prohibited all district employees from speaking to school board members, which prevented board members from recognizing leadership problems during the early days of his tenure. When board members finally began to confront Joseph about problems, including disturbing financial irregularities and his failure to follow board policy, Joseph lied to board members, exacted retribution from those questioning him, and stirred up controversy to distract from the issues at hand."

That said, Frogge noted school boards have alternatives to using private search firms that promote tainted candidates willing to feed the search firms' side businesses.

"School board members need to become better informed and more savvy about profit motives and organizations that seek to influence their selection," she wrote. "School boards can instead opt to hire a local school boards association (for example, the Tennessee School Boards Association) or a local recruiter with a reputation for personal integrity to conduct a search. They can also choose to hire from within."

How school boards decide to avoid conflicts of interest with school leaders and outside consulting firms is "critical" according to Frogge because decisions that are driven by these insiders "can lead to catastrophic outcomes for students and staff."

Among those negative outcomes are increased community acrimony, wasted education funds, and career debacles for what could perhaps have been promising school leaders.

In the case of Joseph and Nashville, controversies with his leadership decisions strongly divided the city's black community, and taxpayers were stuck with a $261,250 bill for buying out the rest of his contract. As a result of the fallout, Joseph lost his state teaching license, and he vowed never to work in the state again.

In the meantime, HYA continues to win contracts for high-profile superintendent searches, and ERDI's conferences bringing school leaders and vendors together continue to sell out .

[Sep 18, 2019] US wants to seize all money Edward Snowden makes from new book - Reuters

Notable quotes:
"... The United States is seeking all proceeds earned by Snowden for the book, the Justice Department said. The lawsuit also names the "corporate entities" behind the book's publication as nominal defendants. ..."
"... Ben Wizner, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who represents Snowden, said the lawsuit was without merit. "This book contains no government secrets that have not been previously published by respected news organizations," he said in a statement, adding that Snowden would have submitted it for review if he thought the government would review it in good faith. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | uk.reuters.com

The United States filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked secret documents about U.S. telephone and internet surveillance in 2013, saying his new book violates non-disclosure agreements.

The Justice Department said Snowden published his memoir, "Permanent Record," without submitting it to intelligence agencies for review, adding that speeches given by Snowden also violated nondisclosure agreements. In 2013, Snowden wrote "Everything You Know about the Constitution is Wrong."

The United States is seeking all proceeds earned by Snowden for the book, the Justice Department said. The lawsuit also names the "corporate entities" behind the book's publication as nominal defendants.

Ben Wizner, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who represents Snowden, said the lawsuit was without merit. "This book contains no government secrets that have not been previously published by respected news organizations," he said in a statement, adding that Snowden would have submitted it for review if he thought the government would review it in good faith.

Representatives for the book's publisher, Macmillan Publishers, and its unit Henry Holt & Co, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Snowden has lived in Russia since he revealed details of U.S. intelligence agencies' secret surveillance programs.

Though he is viewed by some as a hero, U.S. authorities want him to stand in a criminal trial over his disclosures of classified information.

Speaking by video link at an event in Berlin to promote the book, Snowden said that while he had signed a non-disclosure agreement to maintain secrecy, he had also sworn an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

"You've told the government you're not going to talk to journalists. You've told them you're not going to write a book," Snowden said. "At the same time you have an oath to defend the Constitution. And the secret that you are asked to protect is that the government is violating that Constitution and the rights of people around the world."

Reporting by Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Paul Carrell in Berlin; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Lisa Shumaker Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

[Sep 18, 2019] Oil prices only 7.2% above Friday. S P 500 within 1% of record. This is not normal behavior after "Pearl Harbor" type event. Something smells fishy, very fishy

Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

JohnH , Sep 17 2019 22:39 utc | 42

Oil prices only 7.2% above Friday. S&P 500 within 1% of record. This is not normal behavior after "Pearl Harbor" type event. Something smells fishy, very fishy.

Stocks fell 4% after Pearl Harbor, 7% after 911.

Who is assuaging the markets' uncertainty about the dire consequences of SA attacks?


JohnH , Sep 17 2019 22:51 utc | 47

After looking at a number images on Google, I have yet to see anything that shows substantial fire damage apart from the blackened structures in the lower left hand corner of the satellite phot shown here.

Could this be false flag like the chemical weapons attacks in Syria? In this case, lots of fire, but set in such a way as to avoid actual damage?

augrr , Sep 18 2019 0:01 utc | 61
@42

You saw the Plunge Protection Team at work.

Bob Manley , Sep 18 2019 0:32 utc | 67
Having seen the battle damage photos published online, it seems clear to me that the Houthis are not responsible for this strike. First off, the Houthis claim to have launched only 10 suicide drones...the photos show 17 impact points.

But more importantly, the strike did not just hit the facility, it hit several very specific tanks within the facility, and it hit them with extreme precision. If the Houthis did this, then the Saudis should sue for peace immediately!

No, there seem to be just two plausible scenarios here, either the Iranians struck the Saudi facility themselves (which seems unlikely to me) or the Israelis carried out the strike as part of Bibi's re-election campaign (which seems much more likely). Cui bono?

iota , Sep 18 2019 0:58 utc | 73
What missing from the discussion of the Houthi strike against Abqaig is that these are long 'pipelines' of continuous chemical processes that must be gradually started up in sequence, and if necessary taken down in the same way.

The idea that after KSA was forced to suddenly take more than 50% of their petrochemical output offline as a result of the disastrous missile attack, they could start them up again like flipping a light switch, is pure propaganda.

The attack is as much about spiking the long touted sellout of Aramco to foreign interests than anything else. And indeed that must have been one the major strategic considerations that motivated the attack.

Hassaan , Sep 18 2019 1:46 utc | 76
Puncturing a containment tank with a small yield explosive would be similar to operating a propane/butane blow-torch. The pressure of the released gasses upon puncture would either completely extinguish any flame or the gasses would ignite but burn 20-30 feet away from the tanks themselves. The flame would not follow the gasses back into the tank, as the pressure of the exiting gasses would prevent that.

So, no, you wouldn't have an intense fire, nor large burn marks nor warping of the walls, you would have pretty much what you see in the satellite images.

That said, the media has been exaggerating the long-term effects of the Houthi's strike. The precision and range is impressive, and serves to warn against continued aggression, but with such small yield explosive devices, the long-term damage isn't going to be that great.

augrr , Sep 18 2019 1:48 utc | 77
Seems to me that a total focus on offense is what it takes to create an empire: conquest, subjugation, control are essential stepping stones to empire status. Once there, any potential challenge, disloyalty, stepping out of line has to be met with aggression to maintain the status quo.

As there will be no viable opposition, why be concerned about defense. That at least is the theory. In the case of Russia and China the empire was asleep at the switch and by the time this was realised it was too late to contain them, especially as they are joined at the hip in their opposition. End of empire.

JBrant , Sep 18 2019 1:50 utc | 78
I have to agree with Paul Roberts that Israel is the only likely attacker of KSA.
The attack occurred the day before their election, and incumbents always benefit from war fever, so this was made by and for Netanyahu. Like the fake Syria chemical weapons attacks, made just when inspectors were visiting Syria, this is obviously a false-flag attack by an enemy of Iran, and it certainly was not KSA or UAE. That leaves Israel, the only candidate that would benefit.

Others will recall that the fake Iraq-WMD scandal was made entirely by zionists: DefSec Wolfowitz installed known Israeli agents Perle, Wurmser, and Feith to run the offices at CIA, DIA, and NSA that "stove-piped" known-bad WMD "intelligence" directly to Cheney and Bush to start a war for Israel. All three of them had worked to convince Netanyahu himself to trick the US into a war for Israel. After exposure of the scam they were all given medals by Israel, as was Pollard, their spy who stole nearly all US nuclear weapons secrets and gave them to Israel, which sold them to the USSR. With friends like Israel and KSA, who needs enemies?

Swift , Sep 18 2019 8:48 utc | 111
This attack on Saudi oil facilities has been perfectly timed for maximum benefit to impact yesterday´s Israeli election result hopefully swaying voters towards the safest pair of hands they know in times of war,poll struggler PM Bibi with his new US mutual defense pact on the table.
10 Houti drones launched from the direction of Yemen plus an unknown number of likely zionist owned cruise missiles adding muscle to guarantee success by piggy backing on that attack. If results differ from polls then it will have been a worthwhile deceptive action. Saudis & US Frackers get the higher oil prices they need for their budget and perhaps Lloyds of London the 9-11 big losers are also on the hook for rebuilding Saudi´s ruined plant.Russia gets to sell Saudis defensive systems and America gets a recession with higher oil prices and Trump´s chances of re-election take a nose dive just days after Bolton resigned.
Last Day of Grace , Sep 18 2019 12:33 utc | 122
The Israelis did it! Way too many intentionally unanswered questions about launch and incoming direction. We have capability to find and examine a knat from outer space. But do not know origin or position of launch? A few reasons for event.
1. Reelect Satanyahu. And keep him out of jail.
2. Continue the Yinon plan--conquer the territory from the brook of Egypt (the Nile River) to the
Euphrates River, and NEVER allow the peace word to be uttered.
3. Every time Iran makes any suggestion of negotiations with the US, create an event that snuffs out any
peace effort.
4. Mollify the criminals of Saudis and Israelis who believe that the iron is hot, and this may be their
last good chance to take out Iran.
The only buffer against the warmongering Israeli Zionist faction that is restraining war now is the overpowering side of Judaism (the Rothschild Group) who do not want war that will blow up their world assets. And they still control most of the Israeli intelligence.
augusto , Sep 18 2019 12:35 utc | 124
after nearly everybody converges in agreeing the attack came from the ragtag houthis... let s see the overal fall out of the episode.
1- Saudi arabias country is vulnerable, the king s assets are very vulnerable from now on...
2-the US protection, US weapons and promises are close to a monstruous pile of shit;
3-Leaders all along the ME, Africa and else where are learning how to evaluate the American friendship and alliances
4-If and to the extent where the Salmans entourage manages to quickly recover the Saudi oil supply... Iran and Houthis will can quietly and accordingly assess and improve their weapons and strategies for the future.
Clear like sunshine.
BM , Sep 18 2019 14:51 utc | 150
Oil supply is back to what it was before the attack, but we don't know yet who is responsible - Saudi energy minister
Posted by: vk | Sep 18 2019 13:53 utc | 138

As I understand it - based on previous official Saudi announcements - that message is deceptive and really means the following:

1) "Oil supply" means what the Saudi's make available to the market, it does not mean production.

2) They previously announced they would make available 3 million BPD from Aramco reserves both within SA and overseas such as in Rotterdamm.

3) They previously announced the previous production was just under 10 million BPD.

4) Assuming over 50% of production is down for several weeks, they might be producing around 4 million BPD plus 3 million from reserves makes around 7 million BPD which is short of their claims.

5) The Houthis have announced more attacks are coming within a few days, so it looks like by next week the Saudis might not manage even the 7 million BPD.

6) Someone posted news on the previous thread that Saudi are even buying petrol from Iran, for domestic use because of shortages!

[Sep 18, 2019] China did the right thing: it shut down "free market" theologician maskeraling as economics from the academia

After 2008 free market economists should be treated at their face value: as academic charlatans. Now they are treated as goods which are past their shelf life in China and that's a progress.
Notable quotes:
"... The Chinese don't need, and don't want, a bunch of arrogant pro-US intellectuals giving them lectures. I can't say I blame them. ..."
"... No, that is because after WW2 the US was the only major economy left standing that hadn't been wrecked, and they were in the box seat to set the agenda post Bretton-Woods (and cement for themselves the leading dominant role). The USD is being used increasingly as a cudgel to enforce US hegemony, and that will lead much of the world to seek alternatives. It's happening now, slowly at first, and will only gain speed from here. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

During my last visit I stopped by the offices of what remained of the Unirule Institute of Economics. The well-respected organization was formed in 1993 by six economists, most importantly Mao Yushi (no relation to Mao Zedong) and Sheng Hong. My organization, the Cato Institute, gave the former the 2012 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty to honor his work on behalf of human freedom. Now retired at the age of ninety, Mao Yushi paid a price for activism. Noted his award citation, Mao "has faced severe punishment, exile, and near starvation for remarks critical of a command-based economy and society." The late Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel laureate, said of Mao: his "bravery is worthy of our respect."

However, despite the hardship of its founder, Unirule was no revolutionary political organization. Its name stood for "universal rules," essentially the rule of law. Its focus was moving toward a more market-oriented economy. The group's work was scholarly, performed by economists and academics. Its publications were high-brow, its books often published in China. Unirule's international contacts were mainstream and focused on economic reform.

That Unirule prospered demonstrated how far the PRC had come from the bad old days under Mao Zedong. Economic integration with the West by no means delivered a libertarian China. Still, the increasingly vibrant private economy expanded personal autonomy, opening up space absent since the PRC's founding seventy years ago.

As for politics, other than the question of the Chinese Communist Party's monopoly of power, most issues could be at least discussed and sometimes debated in academic and other settings. A vaguely independent media developed, which reported on misdeeds of local governments and officials. Although this slightly diluted authoritarianism might have appeared to be weakness to a few who pined for the days of the Cultural Revolution, the system offered a release valve for people who had no control over their rulers.

That gave CCP officials additional ideas to consider and solutions to employ. Unirule sponsored lectures, ran conferences, and published books. The group consulted with both local governments and state companies. Even the national authorities appeared to respect if not necessarily love Unirule. (In 1980 the government even invited Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman to Beijing to get his advice.) Asked Jude Blanchette, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "Without independent voices offering alternative viewpoints, how can China's leaders make effective decisions."

Allowing discussion -- if not exactly dissent -- also might have drained away some of the dissatisfaction that otherwise would have accumulated against the regime. The pervasiveness of corruption and intensity of resulting public disgust highlighted the threat both from and to Communist rule, which came much more from the natural consequences of the monopoly of power rather than from the expression of discontent with that monopoly.

However, Xi Jinping's ascension to head of both party and government became a dramatic political inflexion point...

... ... ...

The state agency which sponsored it dropped the affiliation. Newspapers stopped running articles by its staffers. Discussions of its activities on social media, including the Chinese phenomenon WeChat, were blocked. Venues cancelled Unirule events. The website was closed down. Then the organization was twice pushed out of professional spaces. Last year the landlord, under pressure from regulators, welded the office door shut with staffers still inside; they had to call the police for rescue. About ten employees and a mass of books, papers and files ultimately crammed into a small apartment ten floors up in an aged apartment building in a distant suburb.

The group's latest book, a collection of academic papers, is ready for publication but was rejected by the PRC's information overseers. The process has been transferred from state to party, ensuring that everything will be assessed for its propaganda value. More seriously, Unirule's business license was cancelled, a move the group was fighting. Sheng said he planned to focus on economic research if the CCP interdict took hold.

... ... ...

A few weeks after my visit Unirule's life appears to have run out. The group announced that the local government had declared it to be "unregistered and unauthorized." Although Unirule plans to fight the diktat in court, Sheng admitted that it had essentially no chance of prevailing and has begun the liquidation process. "We no longer have any space for survival," Sheng told the Wall Street Journal . He previously noted that Unirule had been careful to follow the rules, so the Xi regime wished for the reformers to "disappear by ourselves." Apparently Xi or someone else high up grew tired of waiting.

... ... ...

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author of several books, including Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .


jonathanpulliam 2 days ago ,

Come to think of it, why ISN'T Boeing's CEO in jail??

Gary Sellars 3 days ago ,

The Chinese don't need, and don't want, a bunch of arrogant pro-US intellectuals giving them lectures. I can't say I blame them.

... ... ...

Mephisto 3 days ago ,

Nixon's initiative to integrate China with the USA was the biggest strategic mistake the US ever did. It did not lead to democratization, but rather helped build a powerful totalitarian Orwellian state.

China clearly has a long term strategic plan how to become the world leader, and to this end, it steals western technology, locks other nations into dept traps, builds fifth columns in other countries, uses propaganda and cultural subversion. It is not yet too late to withdraw all western investment from China and to isolate the country. Due to the behavior of the CCP, it has very few actual friends.

jonathanpulliam Mephisto 2 days ago ,

PRC China & the U.S. share one thing at least in common, they lack dignity

Rudi Matich Mephisto 2 days ago ,

The strategic plan and task to defeat capitalism had been handed over to China after the Soviet Union has failed in this endeavor because economically it was no match for capitalist USA, plus it did not integrate science and technological innovation which without it capitalism can not be defeated.

China has achieved economic quantity and quality, and is heading towards full scientific and technological superiority over capitalist USA in the long run.

In this way socialism through science defeats and overtakes capitalism. Science and more science, the only way to defeat capitalism.

Swift Laggard II Rudi Matich 2 days ago ,

China is a hard core capitalist state. Even state ownership is state capitalism

Gary Sellars Mephisto 3 days ago ,

"Due to the behavior of the USA, it has very few actual friends."

Thats better...

Mephisto Gary Sellars 3 days ago ,

out of the 3 countries - USA, Russia, China - most of the world is clearly happy with USA having the leading role, because it is the least evil. Yes, USA is not perfect, Trump is not a great leader (to say it diplomatically), they have made mistakes (the invasion of Iraq etc), but they are still much better than USSRv2.0 or totalitarian China.

Even in Asia, China is widely disliked due to its arrogant and bullying behavior. The Japanese, the Koreans, the Vietnamese, the Indonesians, none of them really like China.

The fact, that US dollar is the leading currency has much to do with the world public perception of the stability of the country. Ie all countries believe the US is the most stable country. So China will have real trouble convincing the world that yuan is better. I do not believe that China will become a leading power anytim soon.

Gary Sellars Mephisto 2 days ago • edited ,

You can keep telling yourself that, but its a crock and we non-Americans know it only too well. Dishonesty and an inability to face truth seems to be an American trait, and the corruption is only growing worse as the US declines.

"The Japanese, the Koreans, the Vietnamese, the Indonesians, none of them really like China"

News for you buddy. None of these nations like each other... LOL!! You ever hear Koreans talking about the Japanese? Now that's hatred...

" The fact, that US dollar is the leading currency has much to do with the world public perception of the stability of the country."

No, that is because after WW2 the US was the only major economy left standing that hadn't been wrecked, and they were in the box seat to set the agenda post Bretton-Woods (and cement for themselves the leading dominant role). The USD is being used increasingly as a cudgel to enforce US hegemony, and that will lead much of the world to seek alternatives. It's happening now, slowly at first, and will only gain speed from here.

Pound Sterling used to dominate the world, now where is it? In the future, people will say the same of the greenback.

Swift Laggard II Mephisto 2 days ago ,

speak for yourself; don't speak for Asian nations. How many have joined AIIB, or BRI? What you believe about China is irrelevant

Mephisto Swift Laggard II 2 days ago ,

https://www.pewresearch.org...
it is interesting, that China is least popular in Asia with its direct neighbors

commit Mephisto 2 days ago ,

It would be interesting to know how the research was made and who they ask.

Mephisto commit 2 days ago ,

I traveled for 1 year across Asia - SE Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and 5 months across china. China is almost universally disliked all over Asia due to its arrogant behavior. And even the famous Chinese investments are increasingly being perceived as a form of Chinese neocolonialism and rejected
https://www.washingtonpost....

Redmond Mephisto 2 days ago ,

You know how African-Americans commit all sorts of violent crimes, hate speech, and racist slurs just because they were victims of racial discrimination in America decades ago? It's the same justification for violence Chinese mainlanders commit against everyone else just because they suffered from century of humiliation. I'm suspecting that the CCP/PLA is being coached by the black lefists in the US who have deep hatred against their perceived WASP establishment. The pattern of angst and diatribes are almost the same.

commit Redmond 2 days ago • edited ,

IDK, the trade war and other US actions against China are pretty recent. They have good reasons to hate your establishment. No need to look into past.

commit Mephisto 2 days ago • edited ,

> universally disliked all over Asia

In the survey you posted above, China is more popular than the USA in Indonesia. Other countries like Malaysia, Laos, Bangladesh, North Korea are missing. Also, people generally tell to English speaking foreigners what they expect they want to hear. If the survey was made by Chinese, the results would be different.

Redmond 3 days ago ,

The answer is simple and obvious. Democracy and rule of law means that they all go to jail. In all post-authoritarian shifts, the judicial branch of the government goes into overdrive, prosecuting past leaders for their crimes. They're really stuck to authoritarianism no-matter how hard they want democracy.

The CCP is just like a mafia. You won't get in unless you have blood in your hands, and death is the only way out (unless you can defect to another country and if you can stomach your immediate family members going to jail for you).

Swift Laggard II Redmond 3 days ago ,

what rule of law are you talking about? do you practice it in your own country?

Gary Sellars Swift Laggard II 3 days ago ,

Law of the Jungle. It's all that the Washingtonian primitives understand...

Walter Tseng 3 days ago ,

China is doing just great. Its citizens are enjoying a quality of life unprecedented in China's history (even the author do not dispute this). So why should a democratic majority 89% (PEW) happy individuals must suffer for the selfish few?

History has shown that intellectuals make lousy leaders but great at fomenting chaos + rebellions. And everyone knows that "soft-spoken criticisms", when weaponized, can kill millions just as effectively as a nuclear bomb!

[Sep 18, 2019] the myopic drive to profitability and naivety to unintended consequences are pushing these tech out into the world before they are ready.

Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

A.L. , Sep 18 2019 19:56 utc | 31

@30 David G

perhaps, just like proponents of AI and self driving cars. They just love the technology, financially and emotionally invested in it so much they can't see the forest from the trees.

I like technology, I studied engineering. But the myopic drive to profitability and naivety to unintended consequences are pushing these tech out into the world before they are ready.

engineering used to be a discipline with ethics and responsibilities... But now anybody who could write two lines of code can call themselves a software engineer....

[Sep 17, 2019] How Elizabeth Warren Became the Democratic Party Establishment's Insurance Policy by Danny Haiphong

Notable quotes:
"... This is no coincidence. The DNC elite, a who's who of Wall Street donors and "party insiders," have chosen Elizabeth Warren as the safest insurance policy to Joe Biden. Warren has positioned herself as the safer version of progressivism in contradistinction to Bernie Sanders' full-fledged New Deal politics. ..."
"... In recent weeks, Elizabeth Warren has been putting smiles on the faces of the Democratic Party establishment. Her performance at the DNC's summer fundraiser in San Francisco in late August received widespread positive coverage from the corporate media. The New York Times , for example, reported that Warren has been sending private messages to Democratic Party insiders to let them know that she is more interested in leading a "revival" of the Democratic Party rather than a revolution. ..."
"... In other words, Elizabeth Warren is saying and doing all the right things to position herself as the DNC's choice for the presidential nomination should the Biden campaign continue to falter. ..."
"... The DNC is looking for a candidate who will oppose Trump but support the neoliberal and foreign policy consensus that exists in Washington. At first, Warren's mimicry of Bernie Sanders' talking points raised a few eyebrows on Wall Street. While some of those eyebrows remain raised, the DNC clearly prefers Warren's "revival" over Sanders' "political revolution." ..."
Sep 17, 2019 | ahtribune.com

From forgetting former President Barack Obama's name to having your wife ask voters to "swallow a little bit" of his pro-corporate positions on healthcare, the oligarchs in control of the two-party political system in the United States are well aware of Biden's struggles . According to the Washington Times , Biden is losing the support from the corporate media. The editorial cited a study from Axios which concluded that of 100 media stories about the Biden campaign that received the most attention on social media, 77 were negative in character. While Biden consistently leads in the polls, the DNC elite has gone fishing for of an insurance policy for Biden's flailing campaign.

Enter Elizabeth Warren. At first, the Massachusetts Senator seemed like a dark horse in the race and a mere thorn in the side of Bernie Sanders. Kamala Harris appeared to be the early DNC favorite and her campaign has worked overtime to show its commitment to a neoliberal economic and political agenda. However, Harris was stymied by Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard's thirty second run down of her record as Defense Attorney and Attorney General for the state of California during the second Democratic Party primary debate. Ever since, Harris has seen her stock decline mightily in the polls while Elizabeth Warren's polling numbers have increased dramatically.

This is no coincidence. The DNC elite, a who's who of Wall Street donors and "party insiders," have chosen Elizabeth Warren as the safest insurance policy to Joe Biden. Warren has positioned herself as the safer version of progressivism in contradistinction to Bernie Sanders' full-fledged New Deal politics. As far back as late February of 2019, Warren was deriding corporate "special interests" while signaling that she would not succumb to "unilateral disarmament" in a general election against Trump by forgoing corporate donations.

The progressivism of Elizabeth Warren was thus a malleable project with a history of inconsistency, as evidenced by her constant flip-flopping on issues such as the privatization of education in Massachusetts.

In recent weeks, Elizabeth Warren has been putting smiles on the faces of the Democratic Party establishment. Her performance at the DNC's summer fundraiser in San Francisco in late August received widespread positive coverage from the corporate media. The New York Times , for example, reported that Warren has been sending private messages to Democratic Party insiders to let them know that she is more interested in leading a "revival" of the Democratic Party rather than a revolution.

An article in The Atlantic provided snippet remarks from people like Don Fowler, described in the piece as a former DNC-chair and "long-time Clinton-family loyalist," who called Warren "smart as shit" for her inside-out approach to her political campaign. A more recent editorial in The New York Times offered a glimpse into Warren's former big donor connections from her 2018 Senate campaign. According to the Times , Warren was able to transfer 10.4 million USD to her presidential campaign effort in part because of the generosity of the very same corporate elite that she now condemns as holding too much influence over the Democratic Party. NBC News further revealed that Elizabeth Warren has an open line of communication with the much maligned but infamous Democratic Party establishment leader, Hillary Clinton.

In other words, Elizabeth Warren is saying and doing all the right things to position herself as the DNC's choice for the presidential nomination should the Biden campaign continue to falter.

Donald Trump is guaranteed the nomination for the Republican Party ticket after taking over the party in 2016 from defunct establishment figures such as Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz.

The DNC is looking for a candidate who will oppose Trump but support the neoliberal and foreign policy consensus that exists in Washington. At first, Warren's mimicry of Bernie Sanders' talking points raised a few eyebrows on Wall Street. While some of those eyebrows remain raised, the DNC clearly prefers Warren's "revival" over Sanders' "political revolution."

MORE...

That's because Warren's campaign to "revive" the Democratic Party is bereft of political principle. Whatever Sanders' political limitations as a "left" alternative to the establishment, the Vermont Senator is by far more progressive than Warren. Warren voted for the Trump Administration's recent military budget in 2017 even after tens of billions of dollars were added by Congress to the original proposal. During Israel's 2014 massacre of the Palestinians in Operation Protective Edge, Warren claimed Israel had a right to defend itself. Bernie Sanders offers a clear proposal for Medicare for All already drafted in the Senate, while Elizabeth Warren believes that Medicare for All can be implemented in "many different ways." In CNN's Climate Town Hall, Warren opposed public control of utilities while Sanders supported it. A deeper look at Elizabeth Warren reveals that she is more aligned with the establishment than she wants the public to believe.

All of this is to say that the DNC is looking for the best-case scenario for its corporate masters, which is the worst-case scenario for working people in the United States. The principle goal of the DNC is to stop Bernie Sanders from getting anywhere near the nomination. Prior to Warren becoming insurance policy for Joe Biden, the DNC hoped that the Massachusetts Senator would split supporters of Bernie Sanders down the middle. This would lead either to a clear path to the nomination for a handpicked candidate (Biden, Harris, fill in the blank) or to a contested convention where the unelected but very wealthy "superdelegates" would cast the deciding vote. Should Warren have turned out a lame duck, the DNC could still rely on over a dozen candidates with careerist ambitions to force a contested election at the DNC convention in Milwaukee.

Workers in the United States have no insurance policy when it comes to the 2020 presidential election or any other election for that matter. Austerity, privatization, and super exploitation is the law of the capitalist land in the USA. Sanders is attractive to many workers in the U.S. because of his consistent articulation of an anti-austerity platform which includes living wage employment, a Green New Deal to help provide that employment, and a solid commitment to Medicare for All. But Sanders remains deeply loyal to the Democratic Party and has stated firmly on several occasions on the campaign trail that he would support any Democratic Party candidate should he lose the nomination. Sanders frames Donald Trump as the most dangerous element in U.S. society even as his own party colludes to prevent him from having a fair shot at the nomination. Sanders and his supporters must realize that Elizabeth Warren is not a friend, but an opportunist who is more than willing to profit from their demise. The best-case scenario for the working class is that wall to wall resistance to Sanders will lead to a mass exodus from the party and open the door for an independent worker's party to form amid the collapse of the DNC.

*(Top image: U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People hosted by the Center for the American Progress Action Fund and the SEIU at the Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada. Credit: Gage Skidmore/ flickr ) Danny Haiphong is the co-author of the book American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People's History of Fake News-From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror .

[Sep 17, 2019] Oh SNAP!! Tulsi throws down the gauntlet caucus99percent

Sep 17, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

Oh SNAP!! Tulsi throws down the gauntlet


bondibox on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 8:46am

. @realDonaldTrump

Trump awaits instructions from his Saudi masters. Having our country act as Saudi Arabia's bitch is not "America First." https://t.co/kJOCpqwaQS

-- Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) September 16, 2019

The tweet she was referring to was this:

Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019

Trump is at the Saudis beck and call. He deserves to be called out with the strongest of language.

Linda Wood on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 9:38am

Her language

gets very strong when it comes to the Sauds, which is the main reason I support her.

Le Frog on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 10:03am
Or maybe Saudi Arabia is a powerful pawn

in American imperialism and the power imbalance isn't about just oil? How about we elaborate on that. It's not enough to criticize American military meddling without also calling out the geopolitical and economic meddling. These are intertwined and while I think Tulsi is very strong and very correct on military "interventions," she can and should go further. (All Americand should, no arguments here.) I mean, as far as this tweet goes, it's a cheap shot at a total loser who is already an easy target. Is she tweeting this at the American companies with interests in Saudi oil?

Alligator Ed on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 4:03pm
Monsieur le Frog

@Le Frog be careful whom you mock.

as far as this tweet [by Tulsi] goes, it's a cheap shot at a total loser who is already an easy target. Is she tweeting this at the American companies with interests in Saudi oil?

The "total loser" is a master politician, surviving a coup attempt , battling hostile MSM 24/7 and with an enlarging voter base. Include rising favorability ratings, though still less than 50%. His popularity currently equals that of Obomber at a similar point in first term.

in American imperialism and the power imbalance isn't about just oil? How about we elaborate on that. It's not enough to criticize American military meddling without also calling out the geopolitical and economic meddling. These are intertwined and while I think Tulsi is very strong and very correct on military "interventions," she can and should go further. (All Americand should, no arguments here.) I mean, as far as this tweet goes, it's a cheap shot at a total loser who is already an easy target. Is she tweeting this at the American companies with interests in Saudi oil?

CS in AZ on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 10:41am
I don't understand her tweet

I'm not trying to be contrary, but I honestly do not get what she's saying here, other than Trump is being KSA's "bitch" because he's waiting to hear what they say before letting bombs fly at whoever the US "believes" is responsible. Personally I think that's a big improvement over him immediately ordering an attack on Iran, or wherever.

If her statement criticized the "locked and loaded" part of his statement and she directly said we should not be bombing anyone on behalf of Saudi Arabia, then I'd agree with her.

But instead she criticized his waiting to hear from the country that was actually bombed, before doing anything or taking unilateral action. Calling him SKA's bitch, means he's being weak and submissive. Goading him into quicker action ... seems like an odd way to discourage war and the macho-man thinking that drives it.

I guess I really don't understand at all why people like this rhetoric from her. I personally have a confused, but basically negative, gut reaction to her comment.

tle on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 5:39pm
She DID criticize his "locked and loaded" remark

@CS in AZ @CS in AZ I ran across her statements on youtube. And I don't see how you can interpret what she said as "goading" him.

I'm not trying to be contrary, but I honestly do not get what she's saying here, other than Trump is being KSA's "bitch" because he's waiting to hear what they say before letting bombs fly at whoever the US "believes" is responsible. Personally I think that's a big improvement over him immediately ordering an attack on Iran, or wherever.

If her statement criticized the "locked and loaded" part of his statement and she directly said we should not be bombing anyone on behalf of Saudi Arabia, then I'd agree with her.

But instead she criticized his waiting to hear from the country that was actually bombed, before doing anything or taking unilateral action. Calling him SKA's bitch, means he's being weak and submissive. Goading him into quicker action ... seems like an odd way to discourage war and the macho-man thinking that drives it.

I guess I really don't understand at all why people like this rhetoric from her. I personally have a confused, but basically negative, gut reaction to her comment.

Linda Wood on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 9:22pm
If Saudi Arabia

@CS in AZ

was a country at peace and was suddenly attacked, I could sort of understand your objection to Gabbard criticizing Trump for waiting to hear from the Saudi princes about what to do next.

But that's not the situation. Saudi Arabia has been targeting school buses, hospitals, weddings, and has starved 85,000 children to death in Yemen, and we have HELPED! Starving a child to death is torture.

The fact that the civilized world hasn't rained retribution down on the Saudi government for supporting Al Qaeda, for supporting ISIS and its atrocities, and for using the people of Yemen for target practice just to benefit our defense contractors, is an abomination. We are not just being USED by the Saudi government. We are being ABUSED, as a nation, as a people, as a culture that's supposed to have values. We are being transformed into the sucking scum of the earth. For money. For a few contractors.

I'm not trying to be contrary, but I honestly do not get what she's saying here, other than Trump is being KSA's "bitch" because he's waiting to hear what they say before letting bombs fly at whoever the US "believes" is responsible. Personally I think that's a big improvement over him immediately ordering an attack on Iran, or wherever.

If her statement criticized the "locked and loaded" part of his statement and she directly said we should not be bombing anyone on behalf of Saudi Arabia, then I'd agree with her.

But instead she criticized his waiting to hear from the country that was actually bombed, before doing anything or taking unilateral action. Calling him SKA's bitch, means he's being weak and submissive. Goading him into quicker action ... seems like an odd way to discourage war and the macho-man thinking that drives it.

I guess I really don't understand at all why people like this rhetoric from her. I personally have a confused, but basically negative, gut reaction to her comment.

earthling1 on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 10:49am
Tweetle-Dee, Tweetle Dumb

Trump is his own worst enemy. His thoughtless tweets reveal him to be some seriously damaged goods.
Not since the late days of dementia ridden Reagan has a more dangerous finger been on "The Button".

Alligator Ed on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 4:14pm
Conflation of politics and policy leads erroneous conclusions

@earthling1 @earthling1 Trump's policies are by and larger terrible, neoliberal, disguised as populism. But before considering that Trump is an idiot, rather than one prone to bad choices in policy, please consider his current POLIICAL status. See my comment above to Monsieur le Frog.

Trump is his own worst enemy. His thoughtless tweets reveal him to be some seriously damaged goods.
Not since the late days of dementia ridden Reagan has a more dangerous finger been on "The Button".

wokkamile on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 10:59am
Tulsi might

have not unreasonably read his tweet as saying what it clearly seems to be saying, that the US will wait to see who the Saudis decide carried out the bombing, and the US will wait for their instructions on how the US should proceed -- deferring to the Saudis on two counts.

Does seem rather clear, and odd, for a US president to state a foreign power should dictate our actions on their behalf.

I didn't read it at all as a complaint that the US has to wait and cool its heels for the Saudis in order to rush into military action.

Of course she went on twitter to respond to DT's tweet. Twitter, the short-form of communication, where brief tweets are always vulnerable to misunderstanding.

CS in AZ on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 11:19am
Cooperation is not 'deferring' to another country

@wokkamile

This used to be called diplomacy. That's what we (the peace-not-war minded) people) wanted from our government. I still do, and I'm forced to say I think I actually agree with trump on this one. His tweet was unusually diplomatic and relatively calm. I was glad he said something reasonable, for perhaps the first time ever.

WE (the US) are not the world dictatorship that should feel free to bomb anyone anywhere anytime, and screw the rest of the world. Cooperation among governments is not being anyone's bitch. That's the pro war, pro US empire kind of thinking.

America first... see, that's not really what I believe in. So I see now, that must be why I felt so disturbed by her comment. I just disagree with her basic premise.

have not unreasonably read his tweet as saying what it clearly seems to be saying, that the US will wait to see who the Saudis decide carried out the bombing, and the US will wait for their instructions on how the US should proceed -- deferring to the Saudis on two counts.

Does seem rather clear, and odd, for a US president to state a foreign power should dictate our actions on their behalf.

I didn't read it at all as a complaint that the US has to wait and cool its heels for the Saudis in order to rush into military action.

Of course she went on twitter to respond to DT's tweet. Twitter, the short-form of communication, where brief tweets are always vulnerable to misunderstanding.

wokkamile on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 5:25pm
No, diplomacy

@CS in AZ @CS in AZ is when two countries engage in discussions to possibly reach a mutual agreement. That seems like an incredibly expansive and pro-Trump reading of his bizarre tweet.

Twump's tweet, in the clear language of the brief text, was about the US president waiting to hear marching orders from Crown Prince Mohammed "Ben" Salman as to what the US should do.

Tulsi's tweet and use of the word "bitch" was actually referencing a previous tweet she had made months ago criticizing the way the US seems to be subservient to the Saudis.

#5

This used to be called diplomacy. That's what we (the peace-not-war minded) people) wanted from our government. I still do, and I'm forced to say I think I actually agree with trump on this one. His tweet was unusually diplomatic and relatively calm. I was glad he said something reasonable, for perhaps the first time ever.

WE (the US) are not the world dictatorship that should feel free to bomb anyone anywhere anytime, and screw the rest of the world. Cooperation among governments is not being anyone's bitch. That's the pro war, pro US empire kind of thinking.

America first... see, that's not really what I believe in. So I see now, that must be why I felt so disturbed by her comment. I just disagree with her basic premise.

Linda Wood on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 9:03pm
@wokkamile

@wokkamile

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-04-17/tulsi-gabbard-slams-trump-maki...

Gabbard Campaign Video Slams Trump For Making US "The Prostitute Of Saudi Arabia"

by Tyler Durden
Wed, 04/17/2019

Democratic presidential candidate for 2020 Rep. Tulsi Gabbard lashed out at Trump on Wednesday after the president vetoed the Yemen War Powers Resolution this week, which sought to end US support for the Sauid-led war in Yemen.

The Hawaiian congresswomen and outspoken US foreign policy critic asserted the president is turning the nation "into the prostitute of Saudi Arabia" and further stated he vetoed the bill "to please his Saudi masters" in a minute-and-a-half campaign video.

"Unlike Donald Trump I will not turn our great country into the prostitute of Saudi Arabia."

#5.1 #5.1 is when two countries engage in discussions to possibly reach a mutual agreement. That seems like an incredibly expansive and pro-Trump reading of his bizarre tweet.

Twump's tweet, in the clear language of the brief text, was about the US president waiting to hear marching orders from Crown Prince Mohammed "Ben" Salman as to what the US should do.

Tulsi's tweet and use of the word "bitch" was actually referencing a previous tweet she had made months ago criticizing the way the US seems to be subservient to the Saudis.

Alligator Ed on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 4:19pm
Thanks for the additional info

@Linda Wood which provides the context for Tulsi's latest tweet. In this manner, Tulsi continues to emphasize a theme: no matter the circumstance (i.e., excuses), Saudi is a barbarous country, executing its detractors with swords rather than nice "surgical" drone strikes like Obomba and DJT have used.

#5.1.1

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-04-17/tulsi-gabbard-slams-trump-maki...

Gabbard Campaign Video Slams Trump For Making US "The Prostitute Of Saudi Arabia"

by Tyler Durden
Wed, 04/17/2019

Democratic presidential candidate for 2020 Rep. Tulsi Gabbard lashed out at Trump on Wednesday after the president vetoed the Yemen War Powers Resolution this week, which sought to end US support for the Sauid-led war in Yemen.

The Hawaiian congresswomen and outspoken US foreign policy critic asserted the president is turning the nation "into the prostitute of Saudi Arabia" and further stated he vetoed the bill "to please his Saudi masters" in a minute-and-a-half campaign video.

"Unlike Donald Trump I will not turn our great country into the prostitute of Saudi Arabia."

magiamma on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 11:34am
We stand to gain

By this oil price hike. More fracked oil that we can sell at a doable price.

tle on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 6:52pm
What is this WE of which you speak?

@magiamma @magiamma *~*

Yes, oil companies stand to benefit, but that doesn't exactly trickle down to actual people.

By this oil price hike. More fracked oil that we can sell at a doable price.

magiamma on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 8:31pm
The U.S., we...

@tle specifically the companies that are fracking and the banks that have given those companies loans

#6 #6 *~*

Yes, oil companies stand to benefit, but that doesn't exactly trickle down to actual people.

Centaurea on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 8:36pm
The collective "we",

@tle

I would assume.

#6 #6 *~*

Yes, oil companies stand to benefit, but that doesn't exactly trickle down to actual people.

crescentmoon on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 1:51pm
Yes. Often, I start from the

Yes. Often, I start from the question, "Who does this serve?" And I see how it helps Israel and the US. How does it serve Iran? I don't see it.

The Voice In th... on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 3:51pm
I guess I'm naiive

@crescentmoon

I just see this as Yemen fighting back on imperial KSA who they are at war with.
Asymmetrical warfare. Like Vietnam.

Yes. Often, I start from the question, "Who does this serve?" And I see how it helps Israel and the US. How does it serve Iran? I don't see it.

NYCVG on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 4:57pm
@The Voice In the Wilderness Yemen found a way to

@The Voice In the Wilderness Yemen found a way to strike back. That's what I think also, the voice in the wilderness

#7

I just see this as Yemen fighting back on imperial KSA who they are at war with.
Asymmetrical warfare. Like Vietnam.

artisan on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 5:03pm
According to this

very convoluted version , Iranian drones were launched from an Iranian affiliated militia base in Iraq in retaliation for Saudi funded Israeli drone strikes originating from a US/Kurdish base in Syria that struck Iranian/Iraqi bases, weapons depots, and a convoy in August.

wendy davis on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 5:31pm
bernhard at

@artisan

Moon of Alabama weighed in on that, if it helps:

Middle East Eye, a Qatari financed outlet, reported yesterday that the attack was launched from Iraq by Iran aligned forces in revenge for Israeli attacks in Syria. The author, David Hearst, is known for slandered reporting. The report is based on a single anonymous Iraqi intelligence source. Qatar, which is struggling with Saudi Arabia and the UAE over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, would like to see a larger conflict involving its rivals east and west of the Persian Gulf. The report should therefore be disregarded.

but with all the various reports it does seem clear that who launched them (drone or planes) look hard to ascertain for certain. but trump was far more careful than pompeo and lindsey graham who want to bomb bomb bomb iran on speculation, because iran is evil.

ah, i've been trying to figure out ho to compile a post on possibilities v. blame, and it's getting further and further away from me. but both KSA and trump (or his generals) may really understand what's at stake. what's bibi saying?

very convoluted version , Iranian drones were launched from an Iranian affiliated militia base in Iraq in retaliation for Saudi funded Israeli drone strikes originating from a US/Kurdish base in Syria that struck Iranian/Iraqi bases, weapons depots, and a convoy in August.

artisan on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 5:59pm
Whoever did it,

@wendy davis

it's clear that Gulf oil installations are vulnerable from a new generation of drones that these players are assembling or otherwise acquiring themselves. Several years ago, the Iranians were able to hack a Predator drone and bring it down intact, suitable for reverse engineering. In past war games, the entire US fleet in the Persian Gulf was destroyed in a matter of minutes by swarms of Iranian missiles. The Yemen war is likely to be over and the possibility of an attack on Iran seems more unlikely now as well.

#8

Moon of Alabama weighed in on that, if it helps:

Middle East Eye, a Qatari financed outlet, reported yesterday that the attack was launched from Iraq by Iran aligned forces in revenge for Israeli attacks in Syria. The author, David Hearst, is known for slandered reporting. The report is based on a single anonymous Iraqi intelligence source. Qatar, which is struggling with Saudi Arabia and the UAE over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, would like to see a larger conflict involving its rivals east and west of the Persian Gulf. The report should therefore be disregarded.

but with all the various reports it does seem clear that who launched them (drone or planes) look hard to ascertain for certain. but trump was far more careful than pompeo and lindsey graham who want to bomb bomb bomb iran on speculation, because iran is evil.

ah, i've been trying to figure out ho to compile a post on possibilities v. blame, and it's getting further and further away from me. but both KSA and trump (or his generals) may really understand what's at stake. what's bibi saying?

wendy davis on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 6:27pm
saudi arabia has no defenses

@artisan

against such a swarm attack like this (and so accurately targeted), nor does the US, according to b and a few others. iran probably does have russian missile defense, but clearly: riyadh needs to make peace with the houthis at any cost. there must be next to nothing left standing there after what, four years?

#8.1

it's clear that Gulf oil installations are vulnerable from a new generation of drones that these players are assembling or otherwise acquiring themselves. Several years ago, the Iranians were able to hack a Predator drone and bring it down intact, suitable for reverse engineering. In past war games, the entire US fleet in the Persian Gulf was destroyed in a matter of minutes by swarms of Iranian missiles. The Yemen war is likely to be over and the possibility of an attack on Iran seems more unlikely now as well.

The Voice In th... on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 1:39pm
Using $100K missiles to stop $100 drones

@wendy davis
seems a losing strategy.

EDIT:
I have since read that these are special fancy $1K drones. Still seems like a losing proposition.

#8.1.1

against such a swarm attack like this (and so accurately targeted), nor does the US, according to b and a few others. iran probably does have russian missile defense, but clearly: riyadh needs to make peace with the houthis at any cost. there must be next to nothing left standing there after what, four years?

UntimelyRippd on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 1:15pm
Not if you're in the missile-selling business.

@The Voice In the Wilderness

#8.1.1.1
seems a losing strategy.

EDIT:
I have since read that these are special fancy $1K drones. Still seems like a losing proposition.

dystopian on Mon, 09/16/2019 - 8:23pm
Tulsi's tweet this afternoon

This is a new tweet from Tulsi this afternoon with a short vid...

https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1173723701373591552

Go Tulsi Go!

Alligator Ed on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 4:30pm
Tulsi delivers a severe blow to Trump in her video.

@dystopian She, as many predicted, is pushing Trump further and further into a non-confrontational foreign policy. There is not one of the Klown Kontenders with enough guts to call out Trump as forcefully as this--including Bernie.

This is a new tweet from Tulsi this afternoon with a short vid...

https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1173723701373591552

Go Tulsi Go!

MinuteMan on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 9:10am
Grave new world

The attack marks a turning point in asymmetrical warfare: no longer can a country bomb its neighbor without fearing a significant attack in return. An that attack won't be tossing a few rockets in the general direction of a targey; instead they'll be precision strikes taking out key infrastructure.

The concept of an air force has changed and the big powers won't have a monopoly going forward. Mutually assured destruction lite.

[Sep 17, 2019] While the Trump Administration seems to be cozying up to America's Jewish voters, here is an article that outlines what American Jews really think of Donald Trump and his leadership:

Sep 17, 2019 | www.unz.com

Sally Snyder , says: September 16, 2019 at 12:13 pm GMT

While the Trump Administration seems to be cozying up to America's Jewish voters, here is an article that outlines what American Jews really think of Donald Trump and his leadership:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2019/06/americas-jews-on-trump-administration.html

Washington would seem to be on the wrong track when it comes to the U.S. Jewish community.

[Sep 17, 2019] Explaining CIA's 'Agent Smolenkov'

Notable quotes:
"... This damage to supposed bastions of US journalism cannot be overstated. More than two years of spinning speculation-cum-reporting about Russian collusion with Trump and/or interference in US politics has produced not a crumb of substantive fact. ..."
"... So when they got the chance to seemingly resurrect their buried "Russiagate" yarn with this latest fable about agent Oleg Smolenkov being exfiltrated from Russia to the US, they leapt at it because their equally buried reputations are also at stake. ..."
"... As far as we can tell, an anonymous intelligence source started the ball rolling. The source is likely to be former CIA chief John Brennan or former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Both are hangouts for the anti-Trump media since they lost their intel jobs at the beginning of 2017, and both are believed to have seeded the "Russiagate" narrative in 2016 from before Trump was elected. ..."
"... Thus, if Smolenkov is peddling fiction to his former handlers in the CIA, that means he has no credibility as a "top mole". ..."
"... Again, opportunism is the key. Somebody came up with a lurid story about "Russian interference" in US democracy and "collusion" with Trump. Maybe it was Smolenkov who saw an opportunity to win a big pay day from his CIA patrons by flogging them a blockbuster. ..."
"... CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, Brennan and Clapper are so much damaged goods from past failure of "Russiagate" fabrications, they find an opportunity to salvage their disgraced names by outing the hapless Smolenkov at this juncture. ..."
"... There is a sinister similarity here to the Sergei Skripal case in England. Is Smolenkov being set up for hit which can then be conveniently blamed on Russia as "revenge" by the Russophobic, anti-Trump, deep state US media? ..."
Sep 17, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

The saga of daring escape by a supposed Russian CIA agent from the Kremlin's clutches and then the added twist of a security-risk American president putting the agent's life in danger does indeed sound like a pulp fiction novel, as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov put it.

How to explain this sensational story? "Opportunism" is one word that comes to mind.

The news media who pushed the story, CNN, the New York Times and Washington Post, are vehemently "anti-Trump". Any chance to damage this president and they grab it.

Also, perhaps more importantly, these media are desperate to salvage their shot-through journalistic credibility since the "Russiagate" narrative they had earnestly propagated died a death, after the two-year Mueller circus finally left town empty-handed.

This damage to supposed bastions of US journalism cannot be overstated. More than two years of spinning speculation-cum-reporting about Russian collusion with Trump and/or interference in US politics has produced not a crumb of substantive fact. That means those media responsible for the "Russiagate" nonsense have forfeited that precious quality – credibility. They no longer deserve to be categorized as news services, and are more appropriately now listed as fiction peddlers.

So when they got the chance to seemingly resurrect their buried "Russiagate" yarn with this latest fable about agent Oleg Smolenkov being exfiltrated from Russia to the US, they leapt at it because their equally buried reputations are also at stake.

As far as we can tell, an anonymous intelligence source started the ball rolling. The source is likely to be former CIA chief John Brennan or former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Both are hangouts for the anti-Trump media since they lost their intel jobs at the beginning of 2017, and both are believed to have seeded the "Russiagate" narrative in 2016 from before Trump was elected.

Notably, the current CIA assessment of the latest US media reporting on the exfiltrated spy is that the reporting is "false" and "misguided". In particular, the CNN spin that the agent (Smolenkov) had to be extricated from Russia in 2017 because Langley feared that Trump may have endangered the supposed Kremlin mole when he hosted Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House in May 2017.

Also of note is the dismissive response from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who rubbished the reports. He was head of the CIA during 2017. (Admittedly, Pompeo is a self-confessed liar.)

According to CNN, NY Times and Washington Post, the former spy in the Kremlin, named as Oleg Smolenkov by subsequent Russian media reporting, was a top mole with direct access to President Vladimir Putin. It is claimed that Smolenkov confirmed allegations about a Putin-directed plot to interfere in US presidential elections. The agent is said to have also confirmed that Putin (allegedly) ordered the hacking of the Democratic party's central database to obtain scandalous material on Hillary Clinton which was then fed to the Wikileaks whistleblower site for the purpose of scuttling her bid for the presidency in November 2016, thus favoring Trump.

Smolenkov was allegedly providing this information on a purported Kremlin interference campaign in 2016.

The US media claim Smolenkov was exfiltrated from Russia by the CIA in June 2017 – out of concern for his safety, which CNN reported was being jeopardized by President Trump due to his implied compromised relations with Putin. Smolenkov and his family disappeared while on a holiday in Montenegro in June 2017.

After the story broke earlier this week about the exfiltrated Kremlin mole, subsequent media reporting tracked down Oleg Smolenkov and his wife living in a $1-million-dollar mansion in Stafford, Virginia. Curiously, public records showed the house purchase was in their names, which seems odds for a supposed top-level spy, who had apparently committed extreme betrayal against the Kremlin, to be living openly. The family apparently fled the house to unknown whereabouts on September 9 after the story about his alleged spy role broke this week.

Who is Oleg Smolenkov? The Kremlin said this week that he previously worked in the presidential administration, but he was sacked "several years ago". He did not have direct access to President Putin's office, according to the Kremlin. For his part, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says he never heard of the man before, never mind ever having met him.

It is understood that Smolenkov previously worked in the Russian embassy in Washington under ambassador Yuri Ushakov (1999-2008). Smolenkov reportedly continued working for Ushakov when the diplomat returned to Moscow after his ambassadorial tenure in the US.

Here is where we may speculate that Smolenkov was recruited by the CIA during his diplomatic assignment in the US. But we assume that the Kremlin's assessment is correct; he did not have a senior position or access to Putin's office. By contrast, the US media are claiming Smolenkov was "one of the CIA's most valuable assets" in the Kremlin and that he was providing confirmatory information that Putin was (allegedly) running an interference campaign to subvert the US presidential elections.

The discerning detail as to the truth of the imbroglio is revealed by the US media claims that Smolenkov corroborated the alleged hacking into the Democratic party database in 2016. However, that specific allegation has been disproven by several top hacker experts, notably William Binney who was formerly technical head at the US National Security Agency. There was no hacking. The damaging information on Hillary Clinton was leaked by a Democratic party insider, possibly Seth Rich, who soon after was shot dead by an unknown attacker. In short, the entire narrative about the Kremlin hacking into the Democratic party is a fiction. The premise to "Russiagate" is baseless.

Thus, if Smolenkov is peddling fiction to his former handlers in the CIA, that means he has no credibility as a "top mole".

Again, opportunism is the key. Somebody came up with a lurid story about "Russian interference" in US democracy and "collusion" with Trump. Maybe it was Smolenkov who saw an opportunity to win a big pay day from his CIA patrons by flogging them a blockbuster. Or maybe, Brennan and Clapper (known liars in the public record) dreamt up a scheme of Kremlin malignancy to benefit Trump, and if that could be tied to Trump then his election would be discredited and nullified. But what they needed was a "Kremlin source" to "corroborate" their readymade story of "Russian interference". Step forward Oleg Smolenkov – fired and out of work – to do the needful "corroboration" and in return he gets a new life for himself and family with a mansion in a leafy Virginian suburb.

CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, Brennan and Clapper are so much damaged goods from past failure of "Russiagate" fabrications, they find an opportunity to salvage their disgraced names by outing the hapless Smolenkov at this juncture.

That then raises the grave question of why he was permitted to live openly in his own name?

There is a sinister similarity here to the Sergei Skripal case in England. Is Smolenkov being set up for hit which can then be conveniently blamed on Russia as "revenge" by the Russophobic, anti-Trump, deep state US media?

[Sep 17, 2019] The Devolution of US-Russia Relations by Tony Kevin

Highly recommended!
Sep 17, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

A retired Australian diplomat who served in Moscow dissects the emergence of the new Cold War and its dire consequences.

I n 2014, we saw violent U.S.-supported regime change and civil war in Ukraine. In February, after months of increasing tension from the anti-Russian protest movement's sitdown strike in Kiev's Maidan Square, there was a murderous clash between protesters and Ukrainian police, sparked off by hidden shooters (we now know that were expert Georgian snipers) , aiming at police. The elected government collapsed and President Yanukevich fled to Russia, pursued by murder squads.

The new Poroshenko government pledged harsh anti-Russian language laws. Rebels in two Russophone regions in Eastern Ukraine took local control, and appealed for Russian military help. In March, a referendum took place in Russian-speaking Crimea on leaving Ukraine, under Russian military protection. Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, a request promptly granted by the Russian Parliament and President. Crimea's border with Ukraine was secured against saboteurs. Crimea is prospering under its pro-Russian government, with the economy kick-started by Russian transport infrastructure investment.

In April, Poroshenko ordered full military attack on the separatist provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine. A brutal civil war ensued, with aerial and artillery bombardment bringing massive civilian death and destruction to the separatist region. There was major refugee outflow into Russia and other parts of Ukraine. The shootdown of MH17 took place in July 2014.

Poroshenko: Ordered military attack.

By August 2015, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates, 13,000 people had been killed and 30,000 wounded. 1.4 million Ukrainians had been internally displaced, and 925,000 had fled to neighbouring countries, mostly Russia and to a lesser extent Poland.

There is now a military stalemate, under the stalled Minsk peace process. But random fatal clashes continue, with the Ukrainian Army mostly blamed by UN observers. The UN reported last month that the ongoing war has affected 5.2 million people, leaving 3.5 million of them in need of relief, including 500,000 children. Most Russians blame the West for fomenting Ukrainian enmity towards Russia. This war brings back for older Russians horrible memories of the Nazi invasion in 1941. The Russia-Ukraine border is only 550 kilometres from Moscow.

Flashpoint Syria

Russian forces joined the civil war in Syria in September 2015, at the request of the Syrian Government, faltering under the attacks of Islamist extremist rebel forces reinforced by foreign fighters and advanced weapons. With Russian air and ground support, the tide of war turned. Palmyra and Aleppo were recaptured in 2016. An alleged Syrian Government chemical attack at Khan Shaykhun in April 2017 resulted in a token U.S. missile attack on a Syrian Government airbase: an early decision by President Trump.

NATO, Strategic Balance, Sanctions

An F-15C Eagle from the 493rd Fighter Squadron takes off from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 6, 2014. The 48th Fighter Wing sent an additional six aircraft and more than 50 personnel to support NATO's air policing mission in Lithuania, at the request of U.S. allies in the Baltics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nunez/Released)

Tensions have risen in the Baltic as NATO moves ground forces and battlefield missiles up to the Baltic states' borders with Russia. Both sides' naval and air forces play dangerous brinksmanship games in the Baltic. U.S. short-range, non-nuclear-armed anti-ballistic missiles were stationed in Poland and Romania, allegedly against threat of Iranian attack. They are easily convertible to nuclear-armed missiles aimed at nearby Russia.

Nuclear arms control talks have stalled. The INF intermediate nuclear forces treaty expired in 2019, after both sides accused the other of cheating. In March 2018, Putin announced that Russia has developed new types of intercontinental nuclear missiles using technologies that render U.S. defence systems useless. The West has pretended to ignore this announcement, but we can be sure Western defence ministries have noted it. Nuclear second-strike deterrence has returned, though most people in the West have forgotten what this means. Russians know exactly what it means.

Western economic sanctions against Russia continue to tighten after the 2014 events in Ukraine. The U.S. is still trying to block the nearly completed Nordstream Baltic Sea underwater gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Sanctions are accelerating the division of the world into two trade and payments systems: the old NATO-led world, and the rest of the world led by China, with full Russian support and increasing interest from India, Japan, ROK and ASEAN.

Return to Moscow

In 2013, my children gave me an Ipad. I began to spend several hours a day reading well beyond traditional mainstream Western sources: British and American dissident sites, writers like Craig Murray in UK and in the U.S. Stephen Cohen, and some Russian sites – rt.com, Sputnik, TASS, and the official Foreign Ministry site mid.ru. in English.

In late 2015 I decided to visit Russia independently to write Return to Moscow , a literary travel memoir. I planned to compare my impressions of the Soviet Union, where I had lived and worked as an Australian diplomat in 1969-71, with Russia today. I knew there had been huge changes. I wanted to experience 'Putin's Russia' for myself, to see how it felt to be there as an anonymous visitor in the quiet winter season. I wanted to break out of the familiar one-dimensional hostile political view of Russia that Western mainstream media offer: to take my readers with me on a cultural pilgrimage through the tragedy and grandeur and inspiration of Russian history. As with my earlier book on Spain 'Walking the Camino' , this was not intended to be a political book, and yet somehow it became one.

I was still uncommitted on contemporary Russian politics before going to Russia in January 2016. Using the metaphor of a seesaw, I was still sitting somewhere around the middle.

My book was written in late 2015 – early 2016, expertly edited by UWA Publishing. It was launched in March 2017. By this time my political opinions had moved decisively to the Russian end of the seesaw, on the basis of what I had seen in Russia, and what I had read and thought during the year.

I have been back again twice, in winter 2018 and 2019. My 2018 visit included Crimea, and I happened to see a Navalny-led Sunday demonstration in Moscow. I thoroughly enjoyed all three independent visits: in my opinion, they give my judgements on Russia some depth and authenticity.

Russophobia Becomes Entrenched

Russia was a big talking point in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the initially unlikely Republican candidate Donald Trump's chances improved, anti-Putin and anti-Russian positions hardened in the outgoing Obama administration and in the Democratic Party establishment which backed candidate Hillary Clinton.

Russia and Putin became caught up in the Democratic Party's increasingly obsessive rage and hatred against the victorious Trump. Russophobia became entrenched in Washington and London U.S. and UK political and strategic elites, especially in intelligence circles: think of Pompeo, Brennan, Comey and Clapper. All sense of international protocol and diplomatic propriety towards Russia and its President was abandoned, as this appalling Economist cover from October 2016 shows.

My experience of undeclared political censorship in Australia since four months after publication of 'Return to Moscow' supports the thesis that:

We are now in the thick of a ruthless but mostly covert Anglo-American alliance information war against Russia. In this war, individuals who speak up publicly in the cause of detente with Russia will be discouraged from public discourse.

In the Thick of Information War

When I spoke to you two years ago, I had no idea how far-reaching and ruthless this information war is becoming. I knew that a false negative image of Russia was taking hold in the West, even as Russia was becoming a more admirable and self-confident civil society, moving forward towards greater democracy and higher living standards, while maintaining essential national security. I did not then know why, or how.

I had just had time to add a few final paragraphs in my book about the possible consequences for Russia-West relations of Trump's surprise election victory in November 2016. I was right to be cautious, because since Trump's inauguration we have seen the step-by-step elimination of any serious pro-detente voices in Washington, and the reassertion of control over this haphazard president by the bipartisan imperial U.S. deep state, as personified from April 2018 by Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Adviser Bolton. Bolton has now been thrown from the sleigh as decoy for the wolves: under the smooth-talking Pompeo, the imperial policies remain.

Truth, Trust and False Narratives

Let me now turn to some theory about political reality and perception, and how national communities are persuaded to accept false narratives. Let me acknowledge my debt to the fearless and brilliant Australian independent online journalist, Caitlin Johnstone.

Behavioural scientists have worked in the field of what used to be called propaganda since WW1. England has always excelled in this field. Modern wars are won or lost not just on the battlefield, but in people's minds. Propaganda, or as we now call it information warfare, is as much about influencing people's beliefs within your own national community as it is about trying to demoralise and subvert the enemy population.

The IT revolution of the past few years has exponentially magnified the effectiveness of information warfare. Already in the 1940s, George Orwell understood how easily governments are able to control and shape public perceptions of reality and to suppress dissent. His brilliant books 1984 and Animal Farm are still instruction manuals in principles of information warfare. Their plots tell of the creation by the state of false narratives, with which to control their gullible populations.

The disillusioned Orwell wrote from his experience of real politics. As a volunteer fighter in the Spanish Civil War, he saw how both Spanish sides used false news and propaganda narratives to demonise the enemy. He also saw how the Nazi and Stalinist systems in Germany and Russia used propaganda to support show trials and purges, the concentration camps and the Gulag, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, German master race and Stalinist class enemy ideologies; and hows dissident thought was suppressed in these controlled societies. Orwell tried to warn his readers: all this could happen here too, in our familiar old England. But because the good guys won the war against fascism, his warnings were ignored.

We are now in Britain, U.S. and Australia actually living in an information warfare world that has disturbing echoes of the world that Orwell wrote about. The essence of information control is the effective state management of two elements, trust and fear , to generate and uphold a particular view of truth. Truth, trust and fear : these are the three key elements, now as 100 years ago in WWI Britain.

People who work or have worked close to government – in departments, politics, the armed forces, or top universities – mostly accept whatever they understand at the time to be 'the government view' of truth. Whether for reasons of organisational loyalty, career prudence or intellectual inertia, it is usually this way around governments. It is why moral issues like the Vietnam War and the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq were so distressing for people of conscience working in or close to government and military jobs in Canberra. They were expected to engage in 'doublethink' as Orwell had described it:

Even in Winston's nightmare world, there were still choices – to retreat into the non-political world of the proles, or to think forbidden thoughts and read forbidden books. These choices involved large risks and punishments. It was easier and safer for most people to acquiesce in the fake news they were fed by state-controlled media.

'Trust, Truth and False Narratives'

Fairfax journalist Andrew Clark, in the Australian Financial Review , in an essay optimistically titled "Not fake news: Why truth and trust are still in good shape in Australia", (AFR Dec. 22, 2018), cited Professor William Davies thus:

"Most of the time, the edifice that we refer to as "truth" is really an investment of trust in our structures of politics and public life' 'When trust sinks below a certain point, many people come to view the entire spectacle of politics and public life as a sham."

Here is my main point: Effective information warfare requires the creation of enough public trust to make the public believe that state-supported lies are true.

The key tools are repetition of messages, and diversification of trusted voices. Once a critical mass is created of people believing a false narrative, the lie locks in: its dissemination becomes self-sustaining.

Caitlin Johnstone a few days ago put it this way:

" Power is being able to control what happens. Absolute power is being able to control what people think about what happens. If you can control what happens, you can have power until the public gets sick of your BS and tosses you out on your ass. If you can control what people think about what happens, you can have power forever. As long as you can control how people are interpreting circumstances and events, there's no limit to the evils you can get away with."

The Internet has made propaganda campaigns that used to take weeks or months a matter of hours or even minutes to accomplish. It is about getting in quickly, using large enough clusters of trusted and diverse sources, in order to cement lies in place, to make the lies seem true, to magnify them through social messaging: in other words, to create credible false narratives that will quickly get into the public's bloodstream.

Over the past two years, I have seen this work many times: on issues like framing Russia for the MH17 tragedy; with false allegations of Assad mounting poison gas attacks in Syria; with false allegations of Russian agents using lethal Novichok to try to kill the Skripals in Salisbury; and with the multiple lies of Russiagate.

It is the mind-numbing effect of constant repetition of disinformation by many eminent people and agencies, in hitherto trusted channels like the BBC or ABC or liberal Anglophone print media that gives the system its power to persuade the credulous. For if so many diverse and reputable people repeatedly report such negative news and express such negative judgements about Russia or China or Iran or Syria, surely they must be right?

We have become used to reading in our quality newspapers and hearing on the BBC and ABC and SBS gross assaults on truth, calmly presented as accepted facts. There is no real public debate on important facts in contention any more. There are no venues for dissent outside contrarian social media sites.

Sometimes, false narratives inter-connect. Often a disinformation narrative in one area is used to influence perceptions in other areas. For example, the false Skripals poisoning story was launched by British intelligence in March 2018, just in time to frame Syrian President Assad as the guilty party in a faked chemical weapons attack in Douma the following month.

The Skripals Gambit

The Skripals gambit was also a failed British attempt to blight the Russia –hosted Football World Cup in June 2018. In the event, hundreds of thousands of Western sports fans returned home with the warmest memories of Russian good sportsmanship and hospitality.

How do I know the British Skripals narrative is false? For a start, it is illogical, incoherent, and constantly changes. Allegedly, two visiting Russian FSB agents in March 2018 sprayed or smeared Novichok, a deadly toxin instantly lethal in the most microscopic quantities, on the Skripals' house front doorknob. There is no video footage of the Skripals at their front door on the day. We are told they were found slumped on a park bench, and that is maybe where they had been sprayed with nerve gas? Shortly afterwards, Britain's Head of Army Nursing who happened to be passing by found them, and supervised their hospitalisation and emergency treatment.

Allegedly, much of Salisbury was contaminated by Novichok, and one unfortunate woman mysteriously died weeks later, yet the Skripals somehow did not die, as we are told. But where are they now? We saw a healthy Yulia in a carefully scripted video interview released in May 2018, after an alleged 'one in a million' recovery. We were assured her father had recovered too, but nobody has seen him at all. The Skripals have simply disappeared from sight since 16 months ago. Are they now alive or dead? Are they in voluntary or involuntary British custody?

A month after the poisoning, the UK Government sent biological samples from the Skripals to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons , for testing. The OPCW sent the samples to a trusted OPCW laboratory in Spiez, Switzerland.

Lavrov Spiez BZ claims, April 2018

A few days later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dramatically announced in Moscow that the Spiez lab had found in the samples a temporary-effect nerve agent BZ, used by U.S. and UK but not by Russia, that would have disabled the Skripals for a few days without killing them. He also revealed the Spiez lab had found that the Skripal samples had been twice tampered with while still in UK custody: first soon after the poisoning, and again shortly before passing them to the OPCW. He said the Spiez lab had found a high concentration of Novichok, which he called A- 234, in its original form. This was extremely suspicious as A-234 has high volatility and could not have retained its purity over a two weeks period. The dosage the Spiez lab found in the samples would have surely killed the Skripals. The OPCW under British pressure rejected Lavrov's claim, and suppressed the Spiez lab report.

Let's look finally at the alleged assassins.

'Boshirov and Petrov'

These two FSB operatives who visited Salisbury under the false identities of 'Boshirov' and 'Petrov' did not look or behave like credible assassins. It is more likely that they were sent to negotiate with Sergey Skripal about his rumoured interest in returning to Russia. They needed to apply for UK visas a month in advance of travel: ample time for the British agencies to identify them as FSB operatives, and to construct a false attempted assassination narrative around their visit. This false narrative repeatedly trips over its own lies and contradictions. British social media are full of alternative theories and rebuttals. Russians find the whole British Government Skripal narrative laughable. They have invented comedy skits and video games based on it. Yet it had major impact on Russia-West relations.

The Douma False Narrative

I turn now to the claimed Assad chemical weapons attack in Douma in April 2018.This falsely alleged attack triggered a major NATO air attack on Syrian targets, ordered by Trump. We came close to WWIII in these dangerous days. Thanks to the restraint of the then Secretary of Defence James Mattis and his Russian counterparts, the risk was contained.

The allegation that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had used outlawed chemical weapons against his own people was based solely on the evidence of faked video images of child victims, made by the discredited White Helmets, a UK-sponsored rebel-linked 'humanitarian' propaganda organisation with much blood on its hands. Founded in 2013 by a British private security specialist of intelligence background, James Le Mesurier, the White Helmets specialised in making fake videos of alleged Assad regime war crimes against Syrian civilians. It is by now a thoroughly discredited organisation that was prepared to kill its prisoners and then film their bodies as alleged victims of government chemical attacks.

White Helmets

As the town of Douma was about to fall to advancing Syrian Government forces, the White Helmets filled a room with stacked corpses of murdered prisoners, and photographed them as alleged victims of aerial gas attack. They also made a video alleging child victims of this attack being hosed down by White Helmets. A video of a child named Hassan Diab went viral all over the Western world.

Hassan Diab later testified publicly in The Hague that he had been dragged terrified from his family by force, smeared with some sort of grease, and hosed down with water as part of a fake video. He went from hero to zero overnight, as Western governments and media rejected his testimony as Russian and Syrian propaganda.

In a late development, there is proof that the OPCW suppressed its own engineers' report from Douma that the alleged poison gas cylinders could not have possibly been dropped from the air through the roof of the house where one was found, resting on a bed under a convenient hole in the roof.

I could go on discussing the detail of such false narratives all day. No matter how often they are exposed by critics, our politicians and mainstream media go on referencing them as if they are true. Once people have come to believe false narratives, it is hard to refute them.

So it is with the false narrative that Russian internet interference enabled Trump to win the 2016 U.S. presidential elections: a thesis for which no evidence was found by [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller, yet continues to be cited by many U.S. liberal Democratic media as if it were true. So, even, with MH17.

Managing Mass Opinion

This mounting climate of Western Russophobia is not accidental: it is strategically directed, and it is nourished with regular maintenance doses of fresh lies. Each round of lies provides a credible platform for the next round somewhere else. The common thread is a claimed malign Russian origin for whatever goes wrong.

So where is all this disinformation originating? Information technology firms in Washington and London that are closely networked into government elites, often through attending the same establishment schools or colleges like Eton and Yale, have closely studied and tested the science of influencing crowd opinions through mainstream media and online. They know, in a way that Orwell or Goebbels could hardly have dreamt, how to put out and repeat desired media messages. They know what sizes of 'internet attraction nodes' need to be established online, in order to create diverse critical masses of credible Russophobic messaging, which then attracts enough credulous and loyal followers to become self-propagating.

Firms like the SCL Group (formerly Strategic Communication Laboratories) and the now defunct Cambridge Analytica pioneered such work in the UK. There are many similar firms in Washington, all in the business of monitoring, generating and managing mass opinion. It is big business, and it works closely with the national security state.

Starting in November 2018, an enterprising group of unknown hackers in the UK , who go by the name 'Anonymous', opened a remarkable window into this secret world. Over a few weeks, they hacked and dumped online a huge volume of original documents issued by and detailing the activities of the Institute for Statecraft (IfS) and the Integrity initiative (II). Here is the first page of one of their dumps, exposing propaganda against Jeremy Corbyn.

We know from this material that the IfS and II are two secret British disinformation networks operating at arms' length from but funded by the UK security services and broader UK government establishment. They bring together high-ranking military and intelligence personnel, often nominally retired, journalists and academics, to produce and disseminate propaganda that serves the agendas of the UK and its allies.

Stung by these massive leaks, Chris Donnelly, a key figure in IfS and II and a former British Army intelligence officer, made a now famous seven-minute YouTube video in December 2018, artfully filmed in a London kitchen, defending their work.

He argued – quite unconvincingly in my opinion – that IfS and II are simply defending Western societies against disinformation and malign influence, primarily from Russia. He boasted how they have set up in numerous targeted European countries, claimed to be under attack from Russian disinformation, what he called 'clusters of influence' , to 'educate' public opinion and decision-makers in pro-NATO and anti-Russian directions.

Donnelly spoke frankly on how the West is already at war with Russia, a 'new kind of warfare', in which he said 'everything becomes a weapon'. He said that 'disinformation is the issue which unites all the other weapons in this conflict and gives them a third dimension'.

He said the West has to fight back, if it is to defend itself and to prevail.

We can confirm from the Anonymous leaked files the names of many people in Europe being recruited into these clusters of influence. They tend to be significant people in journalism, publishing, universities and foreign policy think-tanks: opinion-shapers. The leaked documents suggest how ideologically suitable candidates are identified: approached for initial screening interviews; and, if invited to join a cluster of influence, sworn to secrecy.

Remarkably, neither the Anonymous disclosures nor the Donnelly response have ever been reported in Australian media. Even in Britain – where evidence that the Integrity Initiative was mounting a campaign against [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn provoked brief media interest. The story quickly disappeared from mainstream media and the BBC. A British under-foreign secretary admitted in Parliamentary Estimates that the UK Foreign Office subsidises the Institute of Statecraft to the tune of nearly 3 million pounds per year. It also gives various other kinds of non-monetary assistance, e.g. providing personnel and office support in Britain's overseas embassies.

This is not about traditional spying or seeking agents of influence close to governments. It is about generating mass disinformation, in order to create mass climates of belief.

In my opinion, such British and American disinformation efforts, using undeclared clusters of influence, through Five Eyes intelligence-sharing, and possibly with the help of British and American diplomatic missions, may have been in operation in Australia for many years.

Such networks may have been used against me since around mid-2017, to limit the commercial outreach of my book and the impact of its dangerous ideas on the need for East-West detente; and efficiently to suppress my voice in Australian public discourse about Russia and the West. Do I have evidence for this? Yes.

It is not coincidence that the Melbourne Writers Festival in August 2017 somehow lost all my sign-and-sell books from my sold-out scheduled speaking event; that a major debate with [Australian writer and foreign policy analyst] Bobo Lo at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne was cancelled by his Australian sponsor, the Lowy institute, two weeks before the advertised date; that my last invitation to any writers festival was 15 months ago, in May 2018; that Return to Moscow was not shortlisted for any Australian book prize, though I entered it in all of them ; that since my book's early promotion ended around August 2017, I have not been invited to join any ABC discussion panels, or to give any talks on Russia in any universities or institutes, apart from the admirable Australian Institute of International Affairs and the ISAA.

My articles and shorter opinion commentaries on Russia and the West have not been published in mainstream media or in reputable online journals like Eureka Street, The Conversation, Inside Story or Australian Book Review . Despite being an ANU Emeritus Fellow, I have not been invited to give a public talk or join any panel in ANU (Australian National University) or any Canberra think tank. In early 2018, I was invited to give a private briefing to a group of senior students travelling on an immersion course to Russia. I was not invited back in 2019, after high-level private advice within ANU that I was regarded as too pro-Putin.

In all these ways – none overt or acknowledged – my voice as an open-minded writer and speaker on Russia-West relations seems to have been quietly but effectively suppressed in Australia. I would like to be proved wrong on this, but the evidence is there.

This may be about "velvet-glove deterrence" of my Russia-sympathetic voice and pen, in order to discourage others, especially those working in or close to government. Nobody is going to put me in jail, unless I am stupid enough to violate Australia's now strict foreign influence laws. This deterrence is about generating fear of consequences for people still in their careers, paying their mortgages, putting kids through school. Nobody wants to miss their next promotion.

There are other indications that Australian national security elite opinion has been indoctrinated prudently to fear and avoid any kind of public discussion of positive engagement with Russia (or indeed, with China).

There are only two kinds of news about Russia now permitted in our mainstream media, including the ABC and SBS: negative news and comment, or silence. Unless a story can be given an anti-Russian sting, it will not be carried at all. Important stories are simply spiked, like last week's Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivistok, chaired by President Putin and attended by Prime Ministers Abe, Mahathir and Modi, among 8500 participants from 65 countries.

The ABC idea of a balanced panel to discuss any Russian political topic was exemplified in an ABC Sunday Extra Roundtable panel chaired by Eleanor Hall on July, 22 2018, soon after the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki. The panel – a former ONA Russia analyst, a professor of Soviet and Russian History at Melbourne University, and a Russian émigré dissident journalist introduced as the 'Washington correspondent for Echo of Moscow radio' spent most of their time sneering at Putin and Trump. There were no other views.

A powerful anti-Russian news narrative is now firmly in place in Australia, on every topic in contention: Ukraine, MH17, Crimea, Syria, the Skripals, Navalny and public protest in Russia. There is ill-informed criticism of Russia, or silence, on the crucial issues of arms control and Russia-China strategic and economic relations as they affect Australia's national security or economy. There is no analysis of the negative impact on Australia of economic sanctions against Russia. There is almost no discussion of how improved relations with China and Russia might contribute to Australia's national security and economic welfare, as American influence in the world and our region declines, and as American reliability as an ally comes more into question. Silence on inconvenient truths is an important part of the disinformation tool kit.

I see two overall conflicting narratives – the prevailing Anglo-American false narrative; and valiant efforts by small groups of dissenters, drawing on sources outside the Anglo-American official narrative, to present another narrative much closer to truth. And this is how most Russians now see it too.

The Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki in July 2018 was damaged by the Skripal and Syria fabrications. Trump left that summit friendless, frightened and humiliated. He soon surrendered to the power of the U.S. imperial state as then represented by [Mike] Pompeo and [John] Bolton, who had both been appointed as Secretary of State and National Security Adviser in April 2018 and who really got into their stride after the Helsinki Summit. Pompeo now smoothly dominates Trump's foreign policy.

Self-Inflicted Wounds

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Gage Skidmore)

Finally, let me review the American political casualties over the past two years – self-inflicted wounds – arising from this secret information war against Russia. Let me list them without prejudging guilt or innocence. Slide 20 – Self-inflicted wounds: casualties of anti-Russian information warfare.

Trump's first National Security Adviser, the highly decorated Michael Flynn lost his job after only three weeks, and soon went to jail. His successor H R McMaster lasted 13 months until replaced by John Bolton. Trump's first Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lasted just 14 months until his replacement by Trump's appointed CIA chief (in January 2017) Mike Pompeo. Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon lasted only seven months. Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is now in jail.

Defence Secretary James Mattis lasted nearly two years as Secretary of Defence, and was an invaluable source of strategic stability. He resigned in December 2018. The highly capable Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman lasted just two years: he is resigning next month. John Kelly lasted 18 months as White House Chief of Staff. Less senior figures like George Papadopoulos and Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen both served jail time. The pattern I see here is that people who may have been trying responsibly as senior U.S. officials to advance Trump's initial wish to explore possibilities for detente with Russia – policies that he had advocated as a candidate – were progressively purged, one after another . The anti-Russian U.S. bipartisan imperial state is now firmly back in control. Trump is safely contained as far as Russia is concerned .

Russians do not believe that any serious detente or arms control negotiations can get under way while cold warriors like Pompeo continue effectively to control Trump. There have been other casualties over the past two years of tightening American Russophobia. Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning come to mind. The naive Maria Butina is a pathetic victim of American judicial rigidity and deep state vindictiveness.

False anti-Russian Government narratives emanating from London and Washington may be laughed at in Moscow , but they are unquestioningly accepted in Canberra. We are the most gullible of audiences. There is no critical review. Important contrary factual information and analysis from and about Russia just does not reach Australian news reporting and commentary, nor – I fear – Australian intelligence assessment. We are prisoners of the false narratives fed to us by our senior Five Eyes partners U.S. and UK.

To conclude: Some people may find what I am saying today difficult to accept. I understand this. I now work off open-source information about Russia with which many people here are unfamiliar, because they prefer not to read the diverse online information sources that I choose to read. The seesaw has tilted for me: I have clearly moved a long way from mainstream Western perceptions on Russia-West relations.

Under Trump and Pompeo, as the Syria and Iran crises show, the present risk of global nuclear war by accident or incompetent Western decision-making is as high as it ever was in the Cold War. The West needs to learn again how to dialogue usefully and in mutually respectful ways with Russia and China. This expert knowledge is dying with our older and wiser former public servants and ex-military chiefs.

These remarks were delivered by Tony Kevin at the Independent Scholars Association of Australia in Canberra, Australia on Wednesday.

Watch Tony Kevin interviewed Friday night on CN Live!

Tony Kevin is a retired Australian diplomat who was posted to Moscow from 1969 to 1971, and was later Australia's ambassador to Poland and Cambodia. His latest book is Return to Moscow, published by UWA Publishing.


Bruce , September 17, 2019 at 08:58

Excellent article. It's very interesting to see how the state and its media lackey set the narrative.

Most of this comment relates to the Skripals but also applies to other matters (the Skripals writing was some of Craig Murray's finest work in my opinion). One of the hallmarks of a hoax is a constantly evolving storyline. I think governments have learned from past "mistakes" with their hoaxes/deception where they've given a description of events and then scientists/engineers/chemists etc have come in and criticised their version of events with details and scientific arguments. Nowadays, governments are very reluctant to commit to a version of events, and instead rely on the media (their propaganda assets) to provide a scattergun set of information to muddy the waters and thoroughly confuse the population. The government is then insulated from some of the more bizarre allegations (the headlines of which are absorbed nonetheless), and can blame it on the media (who would use an anonymous government source naturally). Together with classifying just about everything on national security grounds, they can stonewall for as long as they want.

The British are masters of propaganda. They maintained a global empire for a very long time, and the prevailing view (in the west at least) was probably one of tea-drinking cricket playing colonials/gentlemen. But you don't maintain an empire without being absolutely ruthless and brutal. They've been doing this for a very long time.

When we hear something from the BBC or ABC, we should think "State Media".
That's probably why its got a nice folksy nickname of "aunty" .build up the trust.

Leslie Louis , September 17, 2019 at 04:00

Society is suffering the extreme paradox; there is the potential for everyone to have a voice, but the last vestiges of free speech have been whittled away. Fake news is universal, assisted by the fake "left". It is impossible to get published any challenge to even the most outlandish versions of identity politics. As the experience of Tony Kevin exemplifies, all avenues for dissent against hegemonic orthodoxies are closed off.
Disinformation is now an essential weapon in waging hot and cold wars. Cold War historians are well informed on false flags, "black ops", and other organised dirty tactics. I do not know what happened to the Skripals, and while it is legitimate to bear in mind KGB assassinations, despite the enormous resources at its disposal, the English security state has been unable to construct a credible case. Surely scepticism is provoked by the leading role being played by the notorious Bellingcat outfit.

Zenobia van Dongen , September 17, 2019 at 00:29

Here is part of an eyewitness account:
"After the Orange Revolution which began in Kiev, the country was divided literally into two parts -- the supporters of integration with Russia and the supporters of an independent Ukraine. For almost 100 years belonging to the Soviet Union, the propaganda about the assistance and care from our "big brother" Russia, in Ukraine as a whole and the Donbass in particular has borne fruit. At the end of February 2014, some cities of the Southeast part were boiling with mass social and political protest against the new Ukrainian government in defense of the status of the Russian language, voicing separatist and pro-Russian slogans. The division took place in our city of Sloviansk too. Some people stood for separation from Ukraine, while Ukrainian patriots stood for the unity of our country.
On April 12, 2014 our city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region was seized by Russian mercenaries and local volunteers. From that moment onward, armed assaults on state institutions began. The city police department, the Sloviansk City Hall, the building of the Ukraine Security Service was occupied. Armed militants seized state institutions and confiscated private property. They threatened and beat people, and those who refused to obey were taken away to an unknown destination and people started disappearing. The persecution and abduction of patriotic citizens began."

Michael McNulty , September 16, 2019 at 11:36

Watching Vietnam news coverage as a kid in the '60s I noticed the planes carpet-bombing South East Asia were American, not Russian. And as I only watched the footage and never listened to the commentary (I was waiting for the kids programs that followed) the BS they came out with to explain it all never reached me. I saw with my own eyes what the US really was and is, and always believed growing up they were the belligerent side not Russia. Once the USSR fell it was clear there were no longer any constraints on US excesses.

dean 1000 , September 15, 2019 at 18:17

Doublethink, not to mention doublespeak, is so apt to describe what is happening. If Orwell was writing today it would have to be classified as non-fiction.

Free speech is impossible unless every election district has a radio/TV station where candidates, constituents, and others can debate, discuss and speak to the issues without bending a knee to large campaign contributors or the controllers of corporate or government media. It may start with low-power pirate radio/TV broadcasts. No, the pirate speakers will not have to climb a cell tower to broadcast an opinion to the neighborhood or precinct.
If genuine free speech is going to exist it will start as something unauthorized and unlawful. If it sticks to the facts it will quickly prove its value.

Download a free pdf copy of '1984.' https://www.planetebook.com/free-ebooks/1984.pdf

Njegos , September 15, 2019 at 03:39

Excellent article. The only exhibit missing was reference to Bill Browder's lies. Browder's rubbish has been exposed by intrepid journalists and documentary makers such as Andrei Nekrasov, Sasha Krainer and Lucy Komisar but to read or listen to our media, you'd think BB was some sort of human rights hero. That's because BB's fairy tale fits nicely into the MSM's hatred of Putin and Russia. Debunk Browder and a major pillar of anti-Russia prejudice collapses. Therefore, Browder will never face any serious questions by the MSM.

John A , September 16, 2019 at 09:18

judges of the European Court of Human Rights published a judgement a fortnight ago which utterly exploded the version of events promulgated by Western governments and media in the case of the late Mr Magnitskiy. Yet I can find no truthful report of the judgement in the mainstream media at all.
https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/09/the-magnitskiy-myth-exploded/

MSM propaganda by omission. Anything that doesn't fit the government narrative gets zero publicity.

Jim Ingram , September 14, 2019 at 21:12

Well said and needing to be said Tony.

Mr. Dan , September 14, 2019 at 19:41

I have stopped following australian mainstream media including the darlings of the 'left' ABC/SBS over a decade ago, completely. My disgust with their 'coverage' of the 2008 GFC was more than enough. Since 2008-9 things have deteriorated drastically into conspiracy theory propaganda by omission la-la land *it seems*, given I don't tune in at all.

The author has a well supported view. I find it a little naive in him thinking that the MSM has that much power over shaping public opinion in australia.

People who want to be informed do so. The half intelligent conformists on hamster wheel of lifetime mortgage debt have 'careers' to hold onto, so parroting the group think or living in ignorance is much easier. The massive portion of australian racists, inbred bogans and idiots that make up the large LNP, One Nation etc. voting block are completely beyond salvation or ability to process, and critically evaluate any information. The smarter ones drool on about the 'UN Agenda 21' conspiracy at best. Utterly hopeless.

I don't expect things to change as the australian economy is slowly hollowed out by the rich, and the education system (that has always been about conforming, wearing school uniform and regurgitating what the teacher/lecturer says at best) is gutted completely. Welcome to australistan.

Fran Macadam , September 14, 2019 at 19:21

Note that the prohibition against false propaganda to indoctrinate the domestic population by the American government was lifted by President Obama at the tail end of his administration. The Executive Order legalizes all the deceptive behavior Tony itemizes in his article.

Josep , September 17, 2019 at 04:10

I thought it was Reagan who did that by abolishing the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. At least in terms of television and radio (?) broadcasts.

Stephen Morrell , September 14, 2019 at 19:02

Thank you Tony for your thoughtful talk (and interview on CN Live! too).

What's encouraging is this cohort of what might be called 'millennial journalists' coming through willing to do 'shoe-leather' journalism and stand up to smears and flack for revealing uncomfortable facts and truth. They're the online 5th estate holding the 4th to account (to steal Ray McGovern's apt view), and they're congealing against the onslaught.

Some include Max Blumenthal and Rania Kahlek (both now being pilloried by MSM and others for visiting Syrian government held areas and reporting that life isn't hellish as MSM would have everyone believe heaven forbid); Vanessa Bealey who's exposed a lot of White Helmet horrors and false-flag attacks in Syria (and being attacked by all and sundry for exposing the White Helmets in particular); Abby Martin whose Empire Files are excellent and always edifying; Dan Cohen who has written the best expose of the actors behind the Hong Kong rioting and co-authored the best expose of the background of Guaido et al.; Whitney Webb of Mint Press whose series on Epstein is overwhelming and likely a ticking timebomb; Caitlin Johnstone of course; and Aaron 'Buzzsaw' Mate who made his first mark with a wonderful takedown interview of Russiaphobe MI6 shill Luke Harding. Others too of course, with most appearing or having written pieces on CN. John Pilger, Robert Fisk, Greg Palast, et al. won't drop off their twigs disappointed.

This, along with the fact that MSM -- that cowed and compromised fourth estate -- increasingly is held in such laughable contempt by most people under about 50 yr, is highly encouraging indeed. Truth is the new black.

nwwoods , September 15, 2019 at 11:49

The Blogmire is an excellent resource for detailed analysis of the Skripal hoax. The author happens to be a long-time resident of Salisbury, and is intimately familiar with the topography, public services, etc., and a very thorough investigator.

John Wright , September 14, 2019 at 18:35

I'm not surprised that Mr. Kevin is being isolated and shunned by the Australian establishment. Truth and truth tellers are always the first casualties of war. I do hope that his experience will encourage him to increase his resistance to the corrosiveness of mendacious propaganda and those who promulgate it.

Truth is the single best weapon when fighting for a peaceful future.

If Australia is to flourish in the 21st century, it really needs to understand Russia and China, how they relate to each other, and how this key alliance will interface with the rest of the world. Australia and Australians simply cannot afford to get sucked down further by facilitating the machinations of the collapsing Anglo-American Empire. They have served the empire ably and faithfully, but now need to take a cold hard look at reality and realign their long-term interests with the coming global power shift. If not, they could literally find themselves in the middle of an unwinnable and devastating war.

* * *

The first Anglo-American Russian cold war began with the Russian revolution and was only briefly suspended when the West needed the Soviet people to throw themselves in front of the Nazi blitzkrieg in order to save Western Europe. Following their catastrophically costly contribution to the victory on the Continent, the Russians were greeted with an American nuclear salute on their eastern periphery, signalling their return to the diplomatic and economic deep freeze.

While the Anglo-American Empire solidified and extended its hold on the globe, the enlarged but war-ravaged and isolated Soviet Union hunkered down and survived on scraps and sheer will until its collapse in 1989. Declaring the cold war over, and with promises to help their new Russian friends build a prosperous future, the duplicitous West then ransacked their neighbors resources and sold them into debt peonage. The Russians cried foul, the West shrugged and Putin pushed back. Unable to declaw the bear, the west closed the cage door again and the second cold war commenced.

* * *

The first cold war was essentially an offensive war disguised as a defensive war. It enabled the Anglo-American Empire to leverage its post-war advantage and establish near total dominance around the globe through naked violence and monetary hegemony.

Today, with its dominance rapidly slipping away, the Anglo-American Empire is waging a truly defensive cold war. On the home front, they fight to convince their subjects of their eternal exceptionalism with ever more absurd and vile propaganda denigrating their adversaries . Abroad, they disrupt and defraud in a desperate attempt to delay the demise of the PetroDollar ponzi.

The Russians and the Chinese, having both been brutally burned by the Western elites, will not be fooled into abandoning their natural geographic partnership. They are no longer content to sit quietly at the kids' table taking notes. While they may not demand to sit at the head of the table, it is clear that they will insist on a round table, and one that is large enough to include their growing list of friends.

If the Americans don't smash the table, it could be the first of many peaceful pot lucks.

John Read , September 15, 2019 at 02:11

Well said. Great comments. Thanks to Tony Kevin.

Mia , September 14, 2019 at 18:33

Thank you Tony for continuing to shine light on the pathetic propaganda information bubble Australians have been immersed in .. you demonstrate great courage and you are not alone ??

Peter Loeb , September 14, 2019 at 12:58

WITH THANKS TO TONY KEVIN

An excellent article.

There is a lack of comments from some of the common writers upon whose views I often rely.

Personally, I often avoid the very individual responses from websites as I have no way
of checking out previous ideas of theirs. Who funds them? With which organizations are they
affiliated? And so forth and so on.

Peter Loeb, Boston, Massachusetts

Peter Sapo , September 14, 2019 at 10:24

As a fellow Australian, everything Tony Kevin said makes perfect sense. Our mainstream media landscape is designed to distribute propaganda to folk accross the political spectrum. Have you noticed that the ABC regurgitates stories from the BBC? The BBC has a long history (at least since WW2) of supporting government propaganda initiatives. Based on this fact, it is hard to see how ABC and SBS don't do the same when called upon by their minders.

Francis Lee , September 14, 2019 at 09:48

I just wonder where the Anglo-Zionist empire thinks it is going. It should be obvious that any NATO war against Russia involving a nuclear exchange is unwinnable. It seems equally likely the even a conventional war will not necessarily bring the result expected by the assorted 'experts' – nincompoops living in their own fantasy world. The idea that the US can fight a war without the US homeland becoming very much involved basically ended when Putin announced the creation of Russia's set of advanced hypersonic missile system. But this was apparently ignored by the 'defence' establishment. It was not true, it could not possibly be true, or so we were told.

Moreover the cost of such wars involving hundreds of thousands of troops and military hardware are massively expensive and would occasion a massive resistance from the populations affected. It was the wests wars in Korea, and Indo-China that bankrupted the US and led to the US$ being removed from the gold standard. The American military is rapidly consuming the American economy, or at least what is left of it. From a realist foreign policy perspective this is simply madness. Great powers end wars, they don't start them. Great powers are creditor nations, not debtor nations. Such is the realist foreign policy view. But foreign policy realists are few and far between in the Washington Beltway and MIC/NSA Pentagon and US/UK/AUSTRALIAN MSM.

Thus the neo-hubris of the English speaking world is such that if it is followed to its logical conclusion then total annihilation would be the logical outcome. A sad example of not very bright people who face no domestic opposition, believing in their own bullshit:

"American elites proved themselves to be master manipulators of propaganda constructs But the real danger from such manipulations arises not when those manipulations are done out of knowledge of reality, which is distorted for propaganda purposes, but when those who manipulation begin to sincerely believe in their own falsifications and when they buy into their own narrative. They stop being manipulators and they become believers in a narrative. They become manipulated themselves." (Losing Military Supremacy – Andrei, Martyanov)

Or maybe just the whole thing is a bluff. Those policy elites maybe just want to loot the US Treas