Archive for August, 2014

The very scary word …

2014/08/31 2 comments

… in Putin’s new statement on the Ukraine crisis

by Max Fisher (August 28 2014)

Russian President Vladimir Putin just dropped the biggest, scariest dogwhistle of the Ukraine crisis: “Novorossiya”.

The word literally means “new Russia” – it was an old, imperial-era term for southern Ukraine, when it was part of the Russian Empire, and is now a term used by Russia ultra-nationalists who want to re-conquer the area.

Putin has used the word twice during the crisis. First, he used it in April, about a month after Russia had invaded and annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea, subtly suggesting that the annexation was justified because Crimea was in Novorossiya and thus inherently part of Russia.

He used it again on Thursday, in an official presidential statement addressed to the eastern Ukrainian rebels that have seized parts of the country – and whom he addressed as “the militia of Novorossiya”.

The statement itself was otherwise banal, but in giving the rebels this name, he is seemingly not just referring to them as an extension of Russia (everybody already knew this) and not just adopting the heavily loaded imperial terminology, but endorsing that the rebels and the land they stand on are, in a sense, part of Russia.

In other words, Putin’s choice of phrasing – and picking such a hotly political phrase is no accident – sounds an awful lot like a rhetorical step toward annexing all or part of the rebel-held territory. Significantly, earlier this week Russian forces invaded a part of Ukraine where there had been no previous fighting, along the southeastern-most coast with the Black Sea. That is not a rebel-held area, but it is prime Novorossiya territory.

Still, it is just rhetoric, however loaded, and Putin appears to have left himself an out: while the title of the statement refers to the militia of Novorossiya, the body of it does not – rather, it refers to the rebels by the less politically charged phrase, “representatives of Donbas” (Donbas is another name for eastern Ukraine). So he is not yet fully committing himself to the idea of Novorossiya, but this statement is enough of a step in that direction to be legitimately alarming.

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Heading Toward The Sidewalk

2014/08/31 Leave a comment

by John Michael Greer

The Archdruid Report (August 20 2014)

Druid perspectives on nature, culture, and the future of industrial society

Talking about historical change is one thing when the changes under discussion are at some convenient remove in the past or the future. It’s quite another when the changes are already taking place. That’s one of the things that adds complexity to the project of this blog, because the decline and fall of modern industrial civilization isn’t something that might take place someday, if X or Y or Z happens or doesn’t happen; it’s under way now, all around us, and a good many of the tumults of our time are being driven by the unmentionable but inescapable fact that the process of decline is beginning to pick up speed.

Those tumults are at least as relevant to this blog’s project as the comparable events in the latter years of dead civilizations, and so it’s going to be necessary now and then to pause the current sequence of posts, set aside considerations of the far future for a bit, and take a look at what’s happening here and now. This is going to be one of those weeks, because a signal I’ve been expecting for a couple of years now has finally showed up, and its appearance means that real trouble may be imminent.

This has admittedly happened in a week when the sky is black with birds coming home to roost. I suspect that most of my readers have been paying at least some attention to the Ebola epidemic now spreading across West Africa. Over the last week, the World Health Organization has revealed that official statistics on the epidemic’s toll are significantly understated, the main nongovernmental organization fighting Ebola has admitted that the situation is out of anyone’s control, and a series of events neatly poised between absurdity and horror – a riot in one of Monrovia’s poorest slums directed at an emergency quarantine facility, in which looters made off with linens and bedding contaminated with the Ebola virus, and quarantined patients vanished into the crowd – may shortly plunge Liberia into scenes of a kind not witnessed since the heyday of the Black Death. The possibility that this outbreak may become a global pandemic, while still small, can no longer be dismissed out of hand.

Meanwhile, closer to home, what has become a routine event in today’s America – the casual killing of an unarmed African-American man by the police – has blown up in a decidedly nonroutine fashion, with imagery reminiscent of Cairo’s Tahrir Square being enacted night after night in the Saint Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. The culture of militarization and unaccountability that’s entrenched in urban police forces in the United States has been displayed in a highly unflattering light, as police officers dressed for all the world like storm troopers on the set of a bad science fiction movie did their best to act the part, tear-gassing and beating protesters, reporters, and random passersby in an orgy of jackbooted enthusiasm blatant enough that Tea Party Republicans have started to make worried speeches about just how closely this resembles the behavior of a police state.

If the police keep it up, the Arab Spring of a few years back may just be paralleled by an American Autumn. Even if some lingering spark of common sense on the part of state and local authorities heads off that possibility, the next time a white police officer guns down an African-American man for no particular reason – and there will be a next time; such events, as noted above, are routine in the United States these days – the explosion that follows will be even more severe, and the risk that such an explosion may end up driving the emergence of a domestic insurgency is not small. I noted in a post a couple of years back {1} that the American way of war pretty much guarantees that any country conquered by our military will pup an insurgency in short order thereafter; there’s a great deal of irony in the thought that the importation of the same model of warfare into police practice in the US may have exactly the same effect here.

It may come as a surprise to some of my readers that the sign I noted is neither of these things. No, it’s not the big volcano in Iceland that’s showing worrying signs of blowing its top, either. It’s an absurdly little thing – a minor book review in an otherwise undistinguished financial-advice blog – and it matters only because it’s a harbinger of something considerably more important.

A glance at the past may be useful here. On September 9 1929, no less a financial periodical than Barron’s took time off from its usual cheerleading of the stock market’s grand upward movement to denounce an investment analyst named Roger Babson in heated terms. Babson’s crime? Suggesting that the grand upward movement just mentioned was part of a classic speculative bubble, and the bubble’s inevitable bust would cause an economic depression. Babson had been saying this sort of thing all through the stock market boom of the late 1920s, and until that summer, the mainstream financial media simply ignored him, as they ignored everyone else whose sense of economic reality hadn’t gone out to lunch and forgotten to come back.

For those who followed the media, in fact, the summer and fall of 1929 were notable mostly for the fact that a set of beliefs that most people took for granted – above all else, the claim that the stock market could keep on rising indefinitely – suddenly were being loudly defended all over the place, even though next to nobody was attacking them. The June issue of The American Magazine featured an interview with financier Bernard Baruch, insisting that “the economic condition of the world seems on the verge of a great forward movement”. In the July 8 issue of Barron’s, similarly, an article insisted that people who worried about how much debt was propping up the market didn’t understand the role of broker’s loans as a major new investment outlet for corporate money.

As late as October 15, when the great crash was only days away, Professor Irving Fisher of Yale’s economics department made his famous announcement to the media: “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau”. That sort of puffery was business as usual, then as now. Assaulting the critics of the bubble in print, by name, was not. It was only when the market was sliding toward the abyss of the 1929 crash that financial columnists publicly trained their rhetorical guns on the handful of people who had been saying all along that the boom would inevitably bust.

That’s a remarkably common feature of speculative bubbles, and could be traced in any number of historical examples, starting with the tulip bubble in the 17th century Netherlands and going on from there. Some of my readers may well have experienced the same thing for themselves in the not too distant past, during the last stages of the gargantuan real estate bubble that popped so messily in 2008. I certainly did, and a glance back at that experience will help clarify the implications of the signal I noticed in the week just past.

Back when the real estate bubble was soaring to vertiginous and hopelessly unsustainable heights, I used to track its progress on a couple of news aggregator sites, especially Keith Brand’s lively HousingPanic blog. Now and then, as the bubble peaked and began losing air, I would sit down with a glass of scotch, a series of links to the latest absurd comments by real estate promoters, and my copy of John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Great Crash 1929 – the source, by the way, of the anecdotes cited above – and enjoyed watching the rhetoric used to insist that the 2008 bubble wasn’t a bubble duplicate, in some cases word for word, the rhetoric used for the same purpose in 1929.

All the anti-bubble blogs fielded a steady stream of hostile comments from real estate investors who apparently couldn’t handle the thought that anyone might question their guaranteed ticket to unearned wealth, and Brand’s in particular saw no shortage of bare-knuckle verbal brawls. It was only in the last few months before the bubble burst, though, that pro-bubble blogs started posting personal attacks on Brand and his fellow critics, denouncing them by name in heated and usually inaccurate terms. At the time, I noted the parallel with the Barron’s attack on Roger Babson, and wondered if it meant the same thing; the events that followed showed pretty clearly that it did.

That same point may just have arrived in the fracking bubble – unsurprisingly, since that has followed the standard trajectory of speculative booms in all other respects so far. For some time now, the media has been full of proclamations about America’s allegely limitless petroleum supply, which resemble nothing so much as the airy claims about stocks made by Bernard Baruch and Irving Fisher back in 1929. Week after week, bloggers and commentators have belabored the concept of peak oil, finding new and ingenious ways to insist that it must somehow be possible to extract infinite amounts of oil from a finite planet; oddly enough, though it’s rare for anyone to speak up for peak oil on these forums, the arguments leveled against it have been getting louder and more shrill as time passes. Until recently, though, I hadn’t encountered the personal attacks that announce the imminence of the bust.

That was before this week. On August 11th, a financial-advice website hosted a fine example of the species {2}, and rather to my surprise – I’m hardly the most influential or widely read critic of the fracking bubble, after all – it was directed at me.

Mind you, I have no objection to hostile reviews of my writing. A number of books by other people have come in for various kinds of rough treatment on this blog, and turnabout here as elsewhere is fair play. I do prefer reviewers, hostile or otherwise, to take the time to read a book of mine before they review it, but that’s not something any writer can count on; reviewers who clearly haven’t so much as opened the cover of the book on which they pass judgment have been the target of barbed remarks in literary circles since at least the 18th century. Still, a review of a book the reviewer hasn’t read is one thing, and a review of a book the author hasn’t written and the publisher hasn’t published is something else again.

That’s basically the case here. The reviewer, a stock market blogger named Andew McKillop, set out to critique a newly re-edited version of my 2008 book The Long Descent {3}. That came as quite a surprise to me, as well as to New Society Publications, the publisher of the earlier book, since no such reissue exists. The Long Descent remains in print in its original edition, and my six other books on peak oil and the future of industrial society are, ahem, different books.

My best guess is that McKillop spotted my new title Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st Century America {4} in a bookshop window, and simply jumped to the conclusion that it must be a new release of the earlier book. I’m still not sure whether the result counts as a brilliant bit of surrealist performance art or a new low in what we still jokingly call journalistic ethics; in either case, it’s definitely broken new ground. Still, I hope that McKillop does better research for the people who count on him for stock advice.

Given that starting point, the rest of the review is about what you would expect. I gather that McKillop read a couple of online reviews of The Long Descent and a couple more of Decline and Fall, skimmed over a few randomly chosen posts on this blog, tossed the results together all anyhow, and jumped to the conclusion that the resulting mess was what the book was about. The result is quite a lively little bricolage of misunderstandings, non sequiturs, and straightforward fabrications – I invite anyone who cares to make the attempt to point out the place in my writings, for example, where I contrast catabolic collapse with “anabolic collapse”, whatever on earth that latter might be.

There’s a certain wry amusement to be had from going through the review and trying to figure out exactly how McKillop might have gotten this or that bit of misinformation wedged into his brain, but I’ll leave that as a party game for my readers. The point I’d like to make here is that the appearance of this attempted counterblast in a mainstream financial blog is a warning sign. It suggests that the fracking boom, like previous bubbles when they reached the shoot-the-messenger stage, may well be teetering on the brink of a really spectacular crash – and it’s not the only such sign, either.

The same questions about debt that were asked about the stock market in 1929 and the housing market in 2008 are being asked now, with increasing urgency, about the immense volume of junk bonds that are currently propping up the shale boom {5}. Meanwhile gas and oil companies are having to drill ever more frantically and invest ever more money to keep production rates from dropping like a rock {6}. Get past the vacuous handwaving about “Saudi America”, and it’s embarrassingly clear that the fracking boom is simply one more debt-fueled speculative orgy destined for one more messy bust. It’s disguised as an energy revolution in exactly the same way that the real estate bubble was disguised as a housing revolution, the tech-stock bubble as a technological revolution, and so on back through the annals of financial delusion as far as you care to go.

Sooner or later – and much more likely sooner than later – the fracking bubble is going to pop. Just how and when that will happen is impossible to know in advance. Even making an intelligent guess at this point would require a detailed knowledge of which banks and investment firms have gotten furthest over their heads in shale leases and the like, which petroleum and natural gas firms have gone out furthest on a financial limb, and so on. That’s the kind of information that the companies in question like to hide from one another, not to mention the general public; it’s thus effectively inaccessible to archdruids, which means that we’ll just have to wait for the bankruptcies, the panic selling, and the wet thud of financiers hitting Wall Street sidewalks to find out which firms won the fiscal irresponsibility sweepstakes this time around.

One way or another, the collapse of the fracking boom bids fair to deliver a body blow to the US economy, at a time when most sectors of that economy have yet to recover from the bruising they received at the hands of the real estate bubble and bust. Depending on how heavily and cluelessly foreign banks and investors have been sucked into the boom – again, hard to say without inside access to closely guarded financial information – the popping of the bubble could sucker-punch national economies elsewhere in the world as well. Either way, it’s going to be messy, and the consequences will likely include a second helping of the same unsavory stew of bailouts for the rich, austerity for the poor, bullying of weaker countries by their stronger neighbors, and the like, that was dished up with such reckless abandon in the aftermath of the 2008 real estate bust. Nor is any of this going to make it easier to deal with potential pandemics, simmering proto-insurgencies in the American heartland, or any of the other entertaining consequences of our headfirst collision with the sidewalks of reality.

The consequences may go further than this. The one detail that sets the fracking bubble apart from the real estate bubble, the tech stock bubble, and their kin further back in economic history is that fracking wasn’t just sold to investors as a way to get rich quick; it was also sold to them, and to the wider public as well, as a way to evade the otherwise inexorable reality of peak oil. 2008, it bears remembering, was not just the year that the real estate bubble crashed, and dragged much of the global economy down with it; it was also the year when all those prophets of perpetual business as usual who insisted that petroleum would never break $60 a barrel or so got to eat crow, deep-fried in light sweet crude, when prices spiked upwards of $140 a barrel. All of a sudden, all those warnings about peak oil that experts had been issuing since the 1950s became a great deal harder to dismiss out of hand.

The fracking bubble thus had mixed parentage; its father may have been the same merciless passion for fleecing the innocent that always sets the cold sick heart of Wall Street aflutter, but its mother was the uneasy dawn of recognition that by ignoring decades of warnings and recklessly burning through the Earth’s finite reserves of fossil fuels just as fast as they could be extracted, the industrial world has backed itself into a corner from which the only way out leads straight down. White’s Law, one of the core concepts of human ecology, points out that economic development is directly correlated with energy per capita; as depletion overtakes production and energy per capita begins to decline, the inevitable result is a long era of economic contraction, in which a galaxy of economic and cultural institutions predicated on continued growth will stop working, and those whose wealth and influence depend on those institutions will be left with few choices short of jumping out a Wall Street window.

The last few years of meretricious handwaving about fracking as the salvation of our fossil-fueled society may thus mark something rather more significant than another round of the pervasive financial fraud that’s become the lifeblood of the US economy in these latter days. It’s one of the latest – and maybe, just maybe, one of the last – of the mental evasions that people in the industrial world have used in the futile but fateful attempt to pretend that pursuing limitless economic growth on a finite and fragile planet is anything other than a guaranteed recipe for disaster. When the fracking bubble goes to its inevitable fate, and most of a decade of babbling about limitless shale oil takes its proper place in the annals of human idiocy, it’s just possible that some significant number of people will realize that the universe is under no obligation to provide us will all the energy and other resources we want, just because we happen to want them. I wouldn’t bet the farm on that, but I think the possibility is there.

One swallow does not a summer make, mind you, and one fumbled attempt at a hostile book review on one website doesn’t prove that the same stage in the speculative bubble cycle that saw frantic denunciations flung at Roger Babson and Keith Brand – the stage that comes immediately before the crash – has arrived this time around. I would encourage my readers to watch for similar denunciations aimed at more influential and respectable fracking-bubble critics such as Richard Heinberg or Kurt Cobb. Once those start showing up, hang onto your hat; it’s going to be a wild ride.


John Michael Greer is the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America {7} and the author of more than thirty books on a wide range of subjects, including peak oil and the future of industrial society. He lives in Cumberland, Maryland, an old red brick mill town in the north central Appalachians, with his wife Sara.









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The New Misery Index

2014/08/30 Leave a comment

by Charles Hugh Smith (August 25 2014)

The Status Quo is desperate to mask the declining fortunes of those who earn income from work, and the Misery Index 2.0 strips away the phony facade of bogus unemployment and inflation numbers.

The classic Misery Index is the sum of unemployment and inflation, though later variations have added interest rates and the relative shortfall or surplus of GDP growth.

Since the Status Quo figured out how to game unemployment and inflation to the point that these metrics are meaningless except as a meta-measure of centralized perception management, the Misery Index has lost its meaning as well.

I propose a Misery Index 2.0 of four less easily manipulated (and therefore more meaningful) metrics:

1. The participation rate: the percentage of the working-age population with a job

2. Real (adjusted for inflation) median household income: an imperfect but still useful measure of purchasing power

3. Labor share of the non-farm economy: how much of the national income is going to wage-earners

4. Money velocity: a basic measure of economic vitality

The foundation of Misery Index 2.0 is jobs, earned income and the purchasing power of earnings. Inflation is easily gamed by underweighting big-ticket expenses and offsetting increasing costs with hedonic adjustments, and unemployment is easily gamed by shifting people from the work-force to not in the workforce. This category of zombies – not counted in measures of unemployment – has skyrocketed:

The participation rate is the more telling metric: if fewer people of working age have jobs, the claim that the Main Street economy is “doing better” rings false.

Even though the rate of inflation is heavily gamed, real median household income is the best available gauge of purchasing power. Purchasing power simply means how many goods and services will your income buy?

For example: if your daily salary buys twenty gallons of gasoline, and a year from now you get a raise but your daily pay only buys fifteen gallons of gasoline, the purchasing power of your earnings fell despite the higher nominal salary.

Real median household income has declined, meaning the purchasing power of earnings fell.

This chart also shows labor’s share of the non-farm economy: that broad measure of earned income (as opposed to corporate profits, unearned income and rentier income) reflects a steady decline in labor’s share of the national income.

Once again, claims that the Main Street economy is “doing better” make no sense if labor’s share of the national income is declining.

An economy in rude good health has a high velocity of money. An economy bedeviled with high taxes, rentier skims, cartels, politically untouchable fiefdoms, quasi-monopolies and free money for financiers provided by the central bank has a declining velocity of money.

You can fake unemployment and inflation, but it’s harder to paper over the weakness reflected in money velocity:

Central-planning always leads to ginned-up phony statistics, because centrally planned economies always stagnate due to corruption, malinvestments, and some are more equal than others skims and scams by insiders, cronies, cadres and apparatchiks.

The Status Quo is desperate to mask the declining fortunes of those who earn income from work, and the Misery Index 2.0 strips away the phony facade of bogus unemployment and inflation numbers.


The ideal Back-to-School reading for high school/college seniors: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy (Kindle, $9.95, print, $20)

Categories: Uncategorized

The Anti-Empire Report #131

2014/08/30 Leave a comment

by William Blum (August 11 2014)

Cold War Two

During Cold War One those of us in the American radical left were often placed in the position where we had to defend the Soviet Union because the US government was using that country as a battering ram against us. Now we sometimes have to defend Russia because it may be the last best hope of stopping TETATW (The Empire That Ate The World). Yes, during Cold War One we knew enough about Stalin, the show trials, and the gulags. But we also knew about US foreign policy.

E-mail sent to the Washington Post (July 23 2014) about the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17:



Dear Editor,

Your July 22 editorial was headed: “Russia’s barbarism. The West needs a strategy to contain the world’s newest rogue state”.

Pretty strong language. Vicious, even. Not one word of hard evidence in the editorial to back it up. Then, the next day, the Associated Press reported:

“Senior US intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for ‘creating the conditions’ that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement … the US had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia”.

Where were these words in the Post? You people are behaving like a rogue newspaper.

– William Blum



I don’t have to tell you whether the Post printed my letter. I’ve been reading the paper for 25 years – six years during Vietnam (1964-1970) and the last nineteen years (1995-2014) – usually spending about three hours each day reading it very carefully. And I can say that when it comes to US foreign policy the newspaper is worse now than I can remember it ever was during those 25 years. It’s reached the point where, as one example, I don’t take at face value a word the Post has to say about Ukraine. Same with the State Department, which makes one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s wholly inconclusive and/or unsourced or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. {1} Do they have something to hide?

The State Department’s Public Affairs spokespersons making these presentations exhibit little regard or respect for the reporters asking challenging questions. It takes my thoughts back to the Vietnam era and Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, the man most responsible for “giving, controlling and managing the war news from Vietnam”. One day in July 1965, Sylvester told American journalists that they had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good. When one of the reporters exclaimed: “Surely, Arthur, you don’t expect the American press to be handmaidens of government”, Sylvester replied: “That’s exactly what I expect”, adding:

Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? – stupid {2}.

Such frankness might be welcomed today as a breath of fresh air compared to the painful-to-observe double-talk of a State Department spokesperson.

My personal breath of fresh air in recent years has been the television station RT (formerly Russia Today). On a daily basis many progressives from around the world (myself included occasionally) are interviewed and out of their mouths come facts and analyses that are rarely heard on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, PBS, Fox News, BBC, et cetera. The words of these progressives heard on RT are typically labeled by the mainstream media as “Russian propaganda”, whereas I, after a long lifetime of American propaganda, can only think: “Of course. What else are they going to call it?”

As for Russia being responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the shooting down of Flight 17, we should keep in mind that the current series of events in Ukraine was sparked in February when a US-supported coup overthrew the democratically-elected government and replaced it with one that was more receptive to the market-fundamentalism dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the European Union. Were it not for the coup there would have been no eastern rebellion to put down and no dangerous war zone for Flight 17 to be flying over in the first place.

The new regime has had another charming feature: a number of outspoken neo-Nazis in high and low positions, a circumstance embarrassing enough for the US government and mainstream media to turn it into a virtual non-event. US Senator John McCain met and posed for photos with the leader of the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, Oleh Tyahnybok (photos easily found on the Internet). Ukraine – whose ties to Naziism go back to World War Two when their homegrown fascists supported Germany and opposed the Soviet Union – is on track to becoming the newest part of the US-NATO military encirclement of Russia and possibly the home of the region’s newest missile base, target Moscow.

It is indeed possible that Flight 17 was shot down by the pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine in the mistaken belief that it was the Ukrainian air force returning to carry out another attack. But other explanations are suggested in a series of questions posed by Russia to the the Secretary-General of the UN General Assembly, accompanied by radar information, satellite images, and other technical displays:



Why was a military aircraft flying in a civil aviation airway at almost the same time and the same altitude as a civilian passenger aircraft? We would like to have this question answered.

Earlier, Ukrainian officials stated that on the day of the accident no Ukrainian military aircraft were flying in that area. As you can see, that is not true.

We also have a question for our American colleagues. According to a statement by American officials, the United States has satellite images which show that the missile aimed at the Malaysian aircraft was launched by the militants. But no one has seen these images. {3}



There is also this intriguing speculation, which ties in to the first Russian question above. A published analysis by a retired Lufthansa pilot points out that Flight 17 looked similar in its tricolor design to that of Russian President Putin’s plane, whose plane with him on board was at the same time “near” Flight 17. In aviation circles “near” would be considered to be anywhere between 150 to 200 miles {4}. Could Putin’s plane have been the real target?

There is as well other serious and plausible questioning of the official story of Russia and/or Ukrainian anti-Kiev militias being responsible for the shootdown. Is Flight 17 going to become the next JFK Assassination, PanAm 103, or 9-11 conspiracy theory that lingers forever? Will the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the Syrian chemical weapons be joined by the Russian anti-aircraft missile? Stay tuned.

Will they EVER leave Cuba alone? No.

The latest exposed plot to overthrow the Cuban government … Oh, pardon me, I mean the latest exposed plot to bring democracy to Cuba …

Our dear friends at the Agency For International Development (USAID), having done so well with their covert sub-contractor Alan Gross, now in his fifth year in Cuban custody … and their “Cuban Twitter” project, known as ZunZuneo, exposed in 2012, aimed at increasing the flow of information amongst the supposedly information-starved Cubans, which drew in subscribers unaware that the service was paid for by the US government … and now, the latest exposure, a project which sent about a dozen Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes of stirring up a rebellion; the travelers worked clandestinely, using the cover of health and civic programs, or posing as tourists, going around the island, on a mission to “identify potential social-change actors” to turn into political activists. Can you believe that? Can you believe the magnitude of naivete? Was it a conviction that American exceptionalism would somehow work its magic? Do they think the Cuban people are a bunch of children just waiting for a wise adult to come along and show them what to think and how to behave?

One of these latest USAID contracts was signed only days after Gross was detained, thus indicating little concern for the safety of their employees/agents. As part of the preparation of these individuals, USAID informed them: “Although there is never total certainty, trust that the authorities will not try to harm you physically, only frighten you. Remember that the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them.” {5}

It’s most ironic. The US government could not say as much about most of their allies, who frequently make use of physical abuse. Indeed, the statement could not be made in regard to almost any American police force. But it’s this Cuba that doesn’t beat or torture detainees that is the enemy to be reformed and punished without mercy … 55 years and counting.

The United States and torture

Two of the things that governments tend to cover-up or lie about the most are assassinations and torture, both of which are widely looked upon as exceedingly immoral and unlawful, even uncivilized. Since the end of the Second World War the United States has attempted to assassinate more than fifty foreign leaders and has led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance and encouragement by American instructors, particularly in Latin America.

Thus it is somewhat to the credit of President Obama that at his August 1 press conference he declared “We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.”

And he actually used the word “torture” at that moment, not “enhanced interrogation”, which has been the euphemism of preference the past decade, although two minutes later the president used “extraordinary interrogation techniques”. And “tortured some folks” makes me wince. The man is clearly uncomfortable with the subject.

But all this is minor. Much more important is the fact that for several years Mr Obama’s supporters have credited him with having put an end to the practice of torture. And they simply have no right to make that claim.

Shortly after Obama’s first inauguration, both he and Leon Panetta, the new Director of the CIA, explicitly stated that “rendition” was not being ended. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time: “Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States” {6}.

The English translation of “cooperate” is “torture”. Rendition is simply outsourcing torture. There was no other reason to take prisoners to Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Kosovo, or the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, to name some of the known torture centers frequented by the United States. Kosovo and Diego Garcia – both of which house large and very secretive American military bases – if not some of the other locations, may well still be open for torture business. The same for the Guantanamo Base in Cuba.

Moreover, the Executive Order referred to, number 13491, issued January 22 2009, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”, leaves a major loophole. It states repeatedly that humane treatment, including the absence of torture, is applicable only to prisoners detained in an “armed conflict”. Thus, torture by Americans outside an environment of “armed conflict” is not explicitly prohibited. But what about torture within an environment of “counter-terrorism”?

The Executive Order required the CIA to use only the interrogation methods outlined in a revised Army Field Manual. However, using the Army Field Manual as a guide to prisoner treatment and interrogation still allows solitary confinement, perceptual or sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, the induction of fear and hopelessness, mind-altering drugs, environmental manipulation such as temperature and noise, and stress positions.

After Panetta was questioned by a Senate panel, the New York Times wrote that he had



… left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules … Mr Panetta also said the agency would continue the Bush administration practice of “rendition” – picking terrorism suspects off the street and sending them to a third country. But he said the agency would refuse to deliver a suspect into the hands of a country known for torture or other actions “that violate our human values”. {7}



The last sentence is of course childishly absurd. The countries chosen to receive rendition prisoners were chosen precisely because they were willing and able to torture them.

No official in the Bush and Obama administrations has been punished in any way for torture or other war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and the other countries they waged illegal war against. And, it could be added, no American bankster has been punished for their indispensable role in the world-wide financial torture they inflicted upon us all beginning in 2008. What a marvelously forgiving land is America. This, however, does not apply to Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, or Chelsea Manning.

In the last days of the Bush White House, Michael Ratner, professor at Columbia Law School and former president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, pointed out:



The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it. I don’t see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable. {8}



I’d like at this point to once again remind my dear readers of the words of the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”, which was drafted by the United Nations in 1984, came into force in 1987, and ratified by the United States in 1994. Article 2, Section 2 of the Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture”.

Such marvelously clear, unequivocal, and principled language, to set a single standard for a world that makes it increasingly difficult for one to feel proud of humanity.

The Convention Against Torture has been and remains the supreme law of the land. It is a cornerstone of international law and a principle on a par with the prohibition against slavery and genocide.



Mr Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States.

– United States Attorney General Eric Holder (LJuly 26 2013)



John Brennan, appointed by President Obama in January 2013 to be Director of the CIA, has defended “rendition” as an “absolutely vital tool”; and stated that torture had produced “life saving” intelligence. {9}

Obama had nominated Brennan for the CIA position in 2008, but there was such an outcry in the human-rights community over Brennan’s apparent acceptance of torture, that Brennan withdrew his nomination. Barack Obama evidently learned nothing from this and appointed the man again in 2013.

During Cold War One, a common theme in the rhetoric was that the Soviets tortured people and detained them without cause, extracted phony confessions, and did the unspeakable to detainees who were helpless against the full, heartless weight of the Communist state. As much as any other evil, torture differentiated the bad guys, the Commies, from the good guys, the American people and their government. However imperfect the US system might be – we were all taught – it had civilized standards that the enemy rejected.

Just because you have a right to do something does not make it right.

The city of Detroit in recent months has been shutting off the supply of water to city residents who have not paid their water bills. This action affects more than forty percent of the customers of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, bringing great inconvenience and threats to the health and sanitation of between 200 and 300 thousand residents. Protests have of course sprung up in the city, with “Water is a human right!” as a leading theme.

Who can argue with that? Well, neo-conservatives and other true believers in the capitalist system who maintain that if you receive the benefit of a product or service, you pay for it. What could be simpler? What are you, some kind of socialist?

For those of you who have difficulty believing that an American city could be so insensitive, allow me to remind you of some history.

On December 14 1981 a resolution was proposed in the United Nations General Assembly which declared that “education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development are human rights”. Notice the “proper nourishment”. The resolution was approved by a vote of 135-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.

A year later, December 18 1982, an identical resolution was proposed in the General Assembly. It was approved by a vote of 131-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.

The following year, December 16 1983, the resolution was again put forth, a common practice at the United Nations. This time it was approved by a vote of 132-1. There’s no need to tell you who cast the sole “No” vote.

These votes took place under the Reagan administration.

Under the Clinton administration, in 1996, a United Nations-sponsored World Food Summit affirmed the “right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food”. The United States took issue with this, insisting that it does not recognize a “right to food”. Washington instead championed free trade as the key to ending the poverty at the root of hunger, and expressed fears that recognition of a “right to food” could lead to lawsuits from poor nations seeking aid and special trade provisions. {10}

The situation of course did not improve under the administration of George W Bush. In 2002, in Rome, world leaders at another UN-sponsored World Food Summit again approved a declaration that everyone had the right to “safe and nutritious food”. The United States continued to oppose the clause, again fearing it would leave them open to future legal claims by famine-stricken countries. {11}

I’m waiting for a UN resolution affirming the right to oxygen.


{1} See various examples at, such as “Jen Psaki’s most embarrassing fails, most entertaining grillings”, or simply search the site for “Ukraine Jen Psaki”

{2} Congressional Record (House of Representatives), May 12 1966, pages 9977-78, reprint of an article by Morley Safer of CBS News

{3} “Letter dated 22 July 2014 from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General”, released by the UN 24 July, Document Number A/68/954-S/2014/524

{4} “Pre-WWIII German Pilot Shocker, MH17 ‘Not Hit By Missile’ “, Before It’s News, July 31 2014

{5} Associated Press, August 4 2014

{6} Los Angeles Times, February 1 2009

{7} New York Times, February 6 2009

{8} Associated Press, November 17 2008

{9} Associated Press, November 26 2008

{10} Washington Post, November 18 1996

{11} Reuters news agency, June 10 2002

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

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Fresh evidence of how the West lured Ukraine into its orbit

2014/08/29 Leave a comment

The West is demonising President Putin when what set this crisis in motion were recklessly provocative moves to absorb Ukraine into the EU

by Christopher Booker

The Telegraph (August 09 2014)

How odd it has been to read all those accounts of Europe sleepwalking into war in the summer of 1914, and how such madness must never happen again, against the background of the most misrepresented major story of 2014 –  the gathering crisis between Russia and the West over Ukraine, as we watch developments in that very nasty civil war, with 20,000 Russian troops massing on the border.

For months the West has been demonising President Putin, with figures such as the Prince of Wales and Hillary Clinton comparing him with Hitler, oblivious to the fact that what set this crisis in motion were those recklessly provocative moves to absorb Ukraine into the EU.

There was never any way that this drive to suck the original cradle of Russian identity into the Brussels empire was not going to provoke Moscow to react –  not least due to the prospect that its only warm-water ports, in Crimea, might soon be taken over by Nato.

And still scarcely reported here have been the billions of dollars and euros the West has been more or less secretively pouring into Ukraine to promote the cause: not just to prop up its bankrupt government and banking system, but to fund scores of bogus “pro-European” groups making up what the EU calls “civil society”.

When the European Commission told a journalist that, between 2004 and 2013, these groups had only been given 31 million euros, my co-author Richard North was soon reporting on his EU Referendum blog that the true figure, shown on the commission’s own “Financial Transparency” website, was 496 million euros. The 200 front organisations receiving this colossal sum have such names as “Center for European Co-operation” or the “Donetsk Regional Public Organisation with Hope for the Future” (the very first page shows how many are in eastern Ukraine or Crimea, with their largely Russian populations).

One of my readers heard from a Ukrainian woman working in Britain that her husband back home earns 200 euros a month as an electrician, but is paid another 200 euros a month, from a German bank, to join demonstrations such as the one last March when hundreds of thousands –  many doubtless entirely sincere –  turned out in Kiev to chant “Europe, Europe” at Baroness Ashton, the EU’s visiting “foreign minister”.

However dangerous this crisis becomes, it is the West which has brought it about; and our hysterical vilifying of Russia is more reminiscent of that fateful mood in the summer of 1914 than we should find it comfortable to contemplate.

Categories: Uncategorized

Death of the Birds and the Bees Across America

2014/08/29 Leave a comment

by F William Engdahl

Global Research (July 01 2012)

Birds and bees are something most of us take for granted as part of nature. The expression “teaching about the birds and the bees” to explain the process of human reproduction to young people is not an accidental expression. Bees and birds contribute to the essence of life on our planet. A study by the US Department of Agriculture estimated that “… perhaps one-third of our total diet is dependent, directly or indirectly, upon insect-pollinated plants”. {1}

The honey bee, Apis mellifera, is the most important pollinator of agricultural crops. Honey bees pollinate over seventy out of 100 crops that in turn provide ninety percent of the world’s food. They pollinate most fruits and vegetables–including apples, oranges, strawberries, onions and carrots. {2} But while managed honey bee populations have increased over the last fifty years, bee colony populations have decreased significantly in many European and North American nations. Simultaneously, crops that are dependent on insects for pollination have increased. The phenomenon has received the curious designation of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), implying it could be caused by any number of factors. Serious recent scientific studies however point to a major cause: use of new highly toxic systemic pesticides in agriculture since about 2004.

If governments in the EU, USA and other countries fail to impose a total ban on certain chemical insecticides, not only could bees become a thing of the past. The human species could face staggering new challenges merely to survive. The immediate threat comes from the widespread proliferation of commercial insecticides containing the highly-toxic chemical with the improbable name, neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. They act on the central nervous system of insects. But also on bees and small song birds. Recent evidence suggests they could also affect human brain development in newborn.

Some five to six years back, reports began to circulate from around the world, especially out of the United States, and then increasingly from around the EU, especially in the UK, that entire bee colonies were disappearing. Since 2004 over a million beehives have died across the United States and beekeepers in 25 states report what is called Colony Collapse Disorder. In winter of 2009 an estimated one fifth of bee hives in the UK were lost, double the natural rate. {3} Government authorities claimed it was a mystery.

And in the USA a fact sheet from the Environmenrtal Protection Agency (EPA) on Bayer AG’s Clothianidin, a widely used neonicotinoid, warned:



Available data indicate that clothianidin on corn and canola should result in minimal acute toxic risk to birds. However, assessments show that exposure to treated seeds through ingestion may result in chronic toxic risk to non-endangered and endangered small birds (for example, songbirds) and acute/chronic toxicity risk to non-endangered and endangered mammals. {4}



Alarming UK results

A private UK research organization, Buglife and the Soil Association, undertook tests to try to determine cause of the bee death. They found that the decline was caused in part by a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids. {5} Neonicotinoids are “systemic” chemicals that kill insects by getting into the cell of the plant. In Britain it’s widely used for crops like oilseed rape and for production of potted plants.

The neonicotinoids are found in the UK in products including Chinook, used on oilseed rape and Bayer UK 720, used in the production of potted plants which then ends up in gardens and homes around the country. The new study examined in detail the most comprehensive array of peer-reviewed research into possible long-term effects of neonicotinoid use. Their conclusion was that neonicotinoid pesticides damage the health and life cycle of bees over the long term by affecting the nervous system. The report noted, “Neonicotinoids may be a significant factor contributing to current bee declines and could also contribute to declines in other non-target invertebrate species”. {6} The organization called for a total ban on pesticides containing any neonicotinoids.

The president of the UK Soil Association, Peter Melchett, told the press that pesticides were causing a continued decline in pollinating insects, risking a multimillion pound farming industry. “The UK is notorious for taking the most relaxed approach to pesticide safety in the EU; Buglife’s report shows that this puts at risk pollination services vital for UK agriculture”, he said. {7}

Indeed in March 2012 Sir Robert Watson, Chief Scientist at the British Government’s Department of Environment announced that his government was reconsidering its allowance of neonicotinoid use in the UK. Watson told a British newspaper, “We will absolutely look at the University of Stirling work, the French work, and the American work that came out a couple of months ago. We must look at this in real detail to see whether or not the current British position is correct or is incorrect. I want this all reassessed, very, very carefully.” {8} To date no policy change has ensued however. Given the seriousness of the scientific studies and of the claims of danger, a prudent policy would have been to provisionally suspend further use of neonicotinoids pending further research. No such luck.

EPA Corruption

In the United States the government agency responsible for approving or banning chemicals deemed dangerous to the environment is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2003, over the clear warnings of its own scientists, the EPA licensed a neonicotinoid called Clothianidin, patented by the German Bayer AG together with a Japanese company, Takeda. It is sold under the brand name Poncho. It was immediately used on over 88 million acres of US corn in the 2004 crop and since that time, the shocking death of more than one million beehives across the corn prairies of the Midwest has been reported. {9}

The political appointees at EPA at the time allowed Bayer to receive a license for Poncho despite the official judgment of EPA scientists that Clothianidin was “highly toxic to bees by contact and oral exposure” and that is was “highly mobile in soil and groundwater – very likely to migrate into streams, ponds and other fields, where it would be absorbed by wildflowers” – and go on to kill more bees and non-target insects like butterflies and bumblebees. The warning, from a leaked EPA memo dated September 28 2005 summarizes the Environmental Fate and Effects Division’s Environmental Risk Assessment for Clothianidin, which it said “will remain toxic to bees for days after a spray application. In honey bees, the effects of this toxic exposure may include lethal and/or sub-lethal effects in the larvae and reproductive effects to the queen.” {10}

The EPA scientists judged it to be many times more toxic than Bayer’s other nicotinoid, Imidacloprid, sold under the brand name Gaucho, which itself is “7,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT”. {11} DDT was banned in the USA in 1972 after numerous studies proved its toxic effects on both animals and humans.

Then in January of this year another US Government agency, the US Department of Agriculture, published a significant new report from scientists under the direction of Jeffrey Pettis of the USDA Bee Research Laboratory. The study, published in the German scientific journal, Naturwissenschaften, was explosive.

The Pettis study concluded after careful control experiments with bees exposed and not exposed to neonicotinoids clearly demonstrated that there was “an interaction between sub-lethal exposure to imidacloprid (Bayer’s Gaucho – FWE) at the colony level and the spore production in individual bees of honey bee gut parasite Nosema”. Moreover, the study went on,



Our results suggest that the current methods used to evaluate the potential negative effect of pesticides are inadequate. This is not the first study to note a complex and unexpected interaction between low pesticide exposure and pathogen loads … We suggest new pesticide testing standards be devised that incorporate increased pathogen susceptibility into the test protocols. Lastly, we believe that subtle interactions between pesticides and pathogens, such as demonstrated here, could be a major contributor to increased mortality of honey bee colonies worldwide. {12]



Renowned Dutch toxicologist, Dr Henk Tennekes reported that, unlike claims from Bayer and other neonicotinoid manufacturers, bees living near maize fields sprayed with the toxic pesticides are exposed to the neonicotinoids throughout the entire growing season, and the toxin is cumulative. Tennekes noted,



Bees are exposed to these compounds and several other agricultural pesticides in several ways throughout the foraging period. During spring, extremely high levels of clothianidin and thiamethoxam were found in planter exhaust material produced during the planting of treated maize seed. We also found neonicotinoids in the soil of each field we sampled, including unplanted fields. {13}



Effect on Human Brain?

But most alarming of all is the evidence that exposure to neonicotinides has horrific possible effects on humans as well as on birds and bees.

Professor Henk Tennekes describes the effects:



Today the major illnesses confronting children in the United States include a number of psychosocial and behavioral conditions. Neurodevelopmental disorders, including learning disabilities, dyslexia, mental retardation, attention deficit disorder, and autism – occurrence is more prevalent than previously thought, affecting five percent to ten percent of the four million children born in the United States annually. Beyond childhood, incidence rates of chronic neurodegenerative diseases of adult life such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia have increased markedly. These trends raise the possibility that exposures in early life act as triggers of later illness, perhaps by reducing the numbers of cells in essential regions of the brain to below the level needed to maintain function in the face of advancing age. Prenatal and childhood exposures to pesticides have emerged as a significant risk factor explaining impacts on brain structure and health that can increase the risk of neurological disease later in life. {14}



There is also growing evidence suggesting persistent exposure to plants sprayed with neonicotinoids could be responsible for damage to the human brain, including the recent sharp rise in incidents of autism in children.

Tennekes, referring to recent studies of the effects of various exposures of neonicotinoids to rats, noted,



Accumulating evidence suggests that chronic exposure to nicotine causes many adverse effects on the normal development of a child. Perinatal exposure to nicotine is a known risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome, low-birth-weight infants, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Therefore, the neonicotinoids may adversely affect human health, especially the developing brain. {15}



Referring to studies recently published in the magazine, Science, Brian Moench noted:



The brain of insects is the intended target of these insecticides. They disrupt the bees homing behavior and their ability to return to the hive, kind of like “bee autism”. But insects are different than humans, right? Human and insect nerve cells share the same basic biologic infrastructure. Chemicals that interrupt electrical impulses in insect nerves will do the same to humans. But humans are much bigger than insects and the doses to humans are miniscule, right?

During critical first trimester development a human is no bigger than an insect so there is every reason to believe that pesticides could wreak havoc with the developing brain of a human embryo. But human embryos aren’t out in corn fields being sprayed with insecticides, are they? A recent study showed that every human tested had the world’s best-selling pesticide, Roundup, detectable in their urine at concentrations between five and twenty times the level considered safe for drinking water. {16}



The most alarming part of the neonicotinoid story is that governments and the EU to date are content to take little or no precautionary steps to stop even suspected contamination from neonicotinoids pending through long-term tests that would determine finally if they are as dangerous as considerable and growing scientific evidence says.

Bayer AG and neonicotinoids

In early 2011 the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report on bee mortalities around the world. Bayer neonicotinoids, Poncho and Gaucho, are listed there as a threat to numerous animals.

According to the UN report,



Systemic insecticides such as those used as seed coatings, which migrate from the roots through the entire plant, all the way to the flowers, can potentially cause toxic chronic exposure to non-target pollinators. Various studies revealed the high toxicity of chemicals such as Imidacloprid, Clothianidin, Thiamethoxam and associated ingredients for animals such as cats, fish, rats, rabbits, birds and earthworms. Laboratory studies have shown that such chemicals can cause losses of sense of direction, impair memory and brain metabolism, and cause mortality. {17}



Yet Bayer AG shows no signs of voluntarily stopping production and distribution of its toxic neonicotinoids.

The German pharmaceutical giant counts among its historic achievements one it prefers today to forget – the first synthesis of something it marketed as cough medicine in 1898 under the trade name, Heroin, taken from the “heroic” feeling it gave to Bayer workers on whom it was tested. {18} According to the German citizen watchdog group, Coalition against BAYER Dangers, Gaucho and Poncho have been among BAYER’s top-selling pesticides:



In 2010, Gaucho sales were valued at US$ 820 million while Poncho sales were valued at US$ 260 million. Gaucho ranked first among BAYER’s best-selling pesticide, while Poncho ranked seventh. It is striking that in the 2011 Annual Report no sales figures for Gaucho and Poncho are shown. {19}



Ban in many EU Countries

Unlike the United States, several EU countries have banned use of neonicotinoids, refusing to accept test and safety reports from the chemical manufacturers as adequate. One case in point was in Germany where the Julius Kuhn-Institut – Bundesforschungsinstitut fur Kulturpflanzen (JKI) in Quedlinburg, a state-run crop research institute, collected samples of dead honeybees and determined that clothianidin caused the deaths.

Bayer CropScience blamed defective seed corn batches. The company gave an unconvincing counter claim that the coating came off as the seeds were sown, which allowed unusually high amounts of toxic dust to spread to adjacent areas where bees collected pollen and nectar. The attorney for a coalition of groups filing the suit, Harro Schultze stated,



We’re suspecting that Bayer submitted flawed studies to play down the risks of pesticide residues in treated plants. Bayer’s … management has to be called to account, since the risks … have now been known for more than ten years. {20}



Significantly, in Bayer’s home country, Germany, the German government has banned Bayer’s neonicotinoids since 2009. France and Italy have imposed similar bans. In Italy, the government found that with the ban, bee populations returned in number, leading to an upholding of the ban despite strong chemical industry pressure. {21}

Despite the alarming evidence of links between neonicotinoids and bee colony collapse disorder, as well as possible impacts on human foetal cells and brains, the reaction so far in the European Union Commission has been scandalously slow. Brussels has been so weak in responding that the Office of EU Ombudsman has initiated an investigation into why. European Union Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandou said he had opened an investigation after a complaint from the Austrian Ombudsman Board, who said the European Commission had failed to take account of the new evidence on the role of neonicotinoids in bee mortality. “In its view, the Commission should take new scientific evidence into account and take appropriate measures, such as reviewing the authorisation of relevant substances”, said a statement from the EU Ombudsman’s office.

The ombudsman has asked the Commission to submit an opinion in the investigation by June 30, after which it will issue a report. Recommendations by the ombudsman are non-binding. The Commission in response has said it has asked the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) to carry out a full review of all neonicotinoid insecticides by April 30 and that it would take appropriate measures based on the findings. {22}

Giving EFSA final say on food safety for Europe’s consumers and insects is tantamount to asking the foxes to guard the hen house today. EFSA is heavily influenced by members with conflicts of interest and dubious ties to the same agribusiness interests represented by Bayer AG and other agriculture chemical multinationals. {23}

Bayer is one of six global companies tied to development of patented GMO seeds and related chemicals, controlling inputs into the entire food chain. As a tightly inter-linked group, Monsanto, Dow, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont control the global seed, pesticide and agricultural biotechnology markets. This concentration of power over world agriculture is unprecedented. As one observer noted, it enables them to “control the agricultural research agenda; dictate trade agreements and agricultural policies; position their technologies as the ‘science-based’ solution to increase crop yields, feed the hungry and save the planet; escape democratic and regulatory controls; subvert competitive markets”. {24}

Dutch toxicologist Tennekes and Alex Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology at Harvard’s Department of Environmental Health, are among a growing number of scientists around the world calling for an immediate and global ban on the use of the new neonicotinoid pesticides. {25} Professor Lu calls for a very simple test:



I would suggest removing all neonicotinoids from use globally for a period of five to six years. If the bee population is going back up during the after the ban, I think we will have the answer.



That should be more than food for thought in Washington, Brussels and elsewhere.


1 S.E. McGregor, Insect pollination of cultivated crop plants, 1976, USDA Agriculture. Handbook 496, p. 1

2 Coalition against BAYER Dangers (Germany), Countermotion to shareholder meeting: BAYER Pesticides causing bee decline, Press Release, April 11, 2012.

3 Louise Gray, Beekeepers lose one fifth of hives, 24 August, 2009, The Telegraph, accessed in

4 Anon., Clothianidin a Neonicotinoid Pesticide Highly Toxic to Honeybees and other pollinators, March 20, 2007, accessed in

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 Michael McCarthy, Government to reconsider nerve agent pesticides, The Independent, 31 March 2012, accessed in

9 Henk Tennekes, They’ve turned the Environment into the Experiment and WE are all the experimental Subjects, January 19, 2011, accessed in

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

12 Jeffrey S. Pettis, et al, Pesticide exposure in honey bees results in increased levels of the gut pathogen Nosema, Naturwissenschaften-The Science of Nature, 13 January, 2012, accessed in

13 Henk Tennekes, Honey Bees Living Near Maize Fields Are Exposed To Neonicotinoids Throughout The Growing Season, January 5, 2012, accessed in

14 Henk Tennekes, Prenatal exposures to pesticides may increase the risk of neurological disease later in life, March 20, 2012, accessed in

15 Henk Tennekes, The neonicotinoids may adversely affect human health, especially the developing brain, March 20, 2012, accessed in

16 Brian Moench, Autism and Disappearing Bees A Common Denominator?, April 2, 2012, Common Dreams, accessed in

17 Coalition against BAYER Dangers (Germany), op cit.

18 Richard Askwith, How aspirin turned hero: A hundred years ago Heinrich Dreser made a fortune from the discovery of heroin and aspirin, Sunday Times, 13 September 1998, accessed in

19 Coalition against BAYER Dangers (Germany), op cit.

20 ENS, German Coalition Sues Bayer Over Pesticide Honey Bee Deaths, August 25, 2008, accessed in

21 Roberta Cruger, Nicotine Bees Population Restored With Neonicotinoids Ban, May 15, 2010, accessed in

22 Henk Tennekes, EU response to bee death pesticide link questioned, April 24, 2012, accessed in

23 Olivier Hoedeman, Corporate Europe Observatory, Open letter regarding conflicts of interest EFSA’s

Management board , Brussels, March 4, 2011, accessed in

24 Andrew Olsen, Chemical Cartel, Chemical Cartel, June 28, 2010; see also, F. William Engdahl, Saat der Zerstörung: Der Dunkele Seite von Genmanipulation.

25 Henk Tennekes, Imidacloprid and Colony Collapse Disorder – Scientists Call for Global Ban on Bee-Killing Pesticides, April 5, 2012, accessed in

Copyright (c) 2014 Global Research

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A Formula for Conflict?

2014/08/28 Leave a comment

Declining US Hegemony + Rising Chinese Power

by Fran Shor

State of Nature (Summer 2011)



The geopolitical role of the United States, operating under the disciplinary regime of military neo-imperialism, may be seen as an effort to shore up fading economic hegemony”



A defining historical feature of the decline of specific empires in the world capitalist system has been the conflict surrounding the emergence of a successor. The United States and Germany engaged in a protracted struggle in the first half of the twentieth century to determine which country would replace Great Britain as the dominant hegemon. After Germany’s second defeat in a world war in 1945, the US and the USSR contended for global hegemony even though the US was the pre-eminent power in economic and military terms throughout the four decades of the Cold War. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, the US has attempted to use its unrivaled military power as a weapon to retain an eroding hegemony. However, given extensive internal and external contradictions, the US Empire faces global competition and realignment, especially, but not exclusively, as a consequence of the rise of Chinese power. {1} This essay will focus on those sites of US/China conflict in the present period and project, albeit tentatively, where such conflict may lead in the future.

While it may be that global capital has, to a certain extent, delinked itself from the nation-state, in the case of the United States, in particular, the state and state apparatus, especially in the form of military neo-imperialism, still perform essential geostrategic functions. {2} A fully realized deterritorialized and decentered global system, whether envisioned by Hardt and Negri on the left or Thomas Friedman on the right, does not yet exist. Indeed, the “dialectical relation between territorial and capitalist logics of power”, which David Harvey identifies as the defining characteristic of the “new imperialism”, still persists. {3} That persistence of territorial logic, described by Chalmers Johnson as an “empire of bases” {4}, that is, military neo-imperialism, more than a predetermined inter-imperialist rivalry or an emergent transnational capitalist class, underscores the growing geopolitical conflict between the US and China. Nonetheless, it is necessary to account for both elements in Harvey’s dialectic in order to demarcate those sites of US/Chinese competition and conflict.

While the United States no longer dominates the global economy as it did during the first two decades after World War Two, it still is the leading economic power in the world. However, over the last few decades China, with all its internal contradictions, has made enormous leaps until it now occupies the number two spot. In fact, the IMF recently projected that the Chinese economy would become the world’s largest in 2016. In manufacturing China has displaced the US in so many areas, including becoming the number one producer of steel and exporter of four-fifths of all of the textile products in the world and two-thirds of the world’s copy machines, DVD players, and microwaves ovens. Yet, a significant portion of this manufacturing is still owned by foreign companies, including US firms like General Motors. {5}

On the other hand, China is also the largest holder of US foreign reserves, for example, treasury bonds. This may be one of the reasons mitigating full-blown conflict with the US now, since China has such a large stake in the US economy, both as a holder of bonds and as the leading exporter of goods to the US. Nonetheless, “the US has blocked several large scale Chinese investments and buyouts of oil companies, technology firms, and other enterprises”. {6} In effect, there are still clear nation-centric responses to China’s rising economic power, especially as an expression of the US governing elite’s ideological commitment to national security.

At the same time, China is now the world’s largest consumer of essential metals (copper, zinc, platinum) and one of the most voracious importers of hydrocarbons. Essential investment and trade by China in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela, plus engagement with a host of Central Asian countries, indicates China’s growing need for oil and natural gas, as well as its growing challenge to US geostrategic interests in these aforementioned countries and regions. {7} With China’s energy consumption approaching twenty percent of the world’s total, it may well overtake the US as the largest hydrocarbon consumer in the next decade or so. It is already the number one producer of greenhouse gasses although the US is still the per capita leader. Nonetheless, as Michael Klare points out, the scramble for more oil will lead to extracting what he calls “tough oil”, resulting in more expensive and environmentally destructive production. {8}

Compounding the energy strains and resource competition are additional environmental catastrophes in the form of global warming and desertification. As one skeptical analysis of China’s rise warns: “By impinging on the very process of world-systemic reproduction itself, the mutually interpenetrating character of energy resource bottlenecks and extreme climate perturbations should make an already unlikely transition in world-systemic leadership between a declining US and a rising China even more inconceivable – especially considering these bottlenecks and perturbations will both compound China’s well-documented explosion of peasant and worker protests and hamstring the capacity of the Chinese state to respond to myriad crises”. {9}

Beyond the internal and external environmental crises facing China and the United States, the resource competition between these two powers will invariably lead to geostrategic conflicts. The US obsession over the growing Chinese economic and geopolitical threats deliberately obfuscates those factors that have led to a declining global hegemony. James Petras captures the global contradictions that flow from these differing geostrategic postures in the world:

1. Washington pursues minor military clients in Asia; while China expands its trading and investment agreements with major economic partners – Russia, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere.

2. Washington drains the domestic economy to finance overseas wars. China extracts minerals and energy resources to create its domestic job market in manufacturing.

3. The US invests in military technology to target local insurgents challenging US client regimes; China invests in civilian technology to create competitive exports.

4. China begins to restructure its economy toward developing the country’s interior and allocates greater social spending to redress its gross imbalances and inequalities while the US rescues and reinforces the parasitical financial sector, which plunders industries (strips assets via mergers and acquisitions) and speculates on financial objectives with no impact on employment, productivity or competitiveness.

5. The US multiplies wars and troop build-ups in the Middle East, South Asia, the Horn of Africa and Caribbean; China provides investments and loans of over $25 billion dollars in building infrastructure, mineral extraction, energy production and assembly plants in Africa.

6. China signs multi-billion dollar trade and investment agreements with Iran, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, securing access to strategic energy, mineral and agricultural resources; Washington provides $6 billion in military aid to Colombia, secures seven military bases from President Uribe, backs a military coup in tiny Honduras and denounces Brazil and Bolivia for diversifying their economic ties with Iran. {10}

Given the reactionary political trends in the US and the continuing commitment to preserving the empire at the expense of necessary major investments in infrastructure, education, health-care, et cetera, it is hard to imagine a different trajectory. Indeed, as James Petras contends:



The US Empire will continue to wallow in chronic stagnation, unending wars and increased reliance on the tools of political subversion … The US, unlike the established colonial powers of an earlier period, cannot deny China access to strategic raw materials as was the case with Japan. We live in a post-colonial world where the vast majority of regimes will trade and invest with whoever pays the market price. {11}


Moreover, given the global realignment that is emerging in the wake of a declining US empire, other countries, like Brazil and Turkey, will take the initiative on the global stage to address geopolitical concerns that the US continues to impede and/or neglect. In addition, global powerhouses, like the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), will look for ways to affirm their own self-interest in trade and geopolitical alignments.

As much as the competition over essential resources contains a component of the capitalist logic of the “new imperialism”, it is at the level of military rivalry and geopolitics that the US and China are positioning themselves to claim certain geostrategic objectives. The Pentagon continues to assert its military prerogatives in the Pacific and the South China Sea. Conducting naval exercises recently in that region, the US staked out its commitment to what a previous national security strategic document called “full spectrum dominance”. In response to these naval exercises one Chinese newspaper trumpeted: “The US-China wrestling match over the South China Sea issue has raised the stakes in deciding who the real future ruler of the planet will be”. {12} When General Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, visited military facilities in the United States in May of 2011, he noted that the Pentagon “has far more advanced weapons and equipment” than China “targeted at some country”. He was, therefore, led to conclude that it was “very strange for questions to be raised only to China but not the United States”. {13}

Although China seems dedicated to expanding its regional military hegemony, it also appears committed to bilateral military relations with the United States. However, those relations require, according to China, a change in certain US policies, from large sales of military equipment to Taiwan to US reconnaissance flights over China. According to Qian Lihua, director of the Foreign Affairs Office with the National Defense Ministry, China has its bottom line when it comes to these bilateral military ties: they must be developed on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust, equality and reciprocity. {14}

While China may be prepared to engage the US on such a basis, there are institutional and ideological resistances both within the military-industrial complex and major segments of the governing elite that still seem wedded to forms of military neo-imperialism that guarantee antagonism towards China’s geostrategic interest, even in its own regional sphere of influence. When Condoleezza Rice was George W Bush’s national security advisor, she contended that “China resents the role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region … (and) would like to alter Asia’s strategic balance in its own favor”. {15} Ironically, according to one leading Sinologist, “most nations in the (Asia) region now see China as a good neighbor, a constructive partner, a careful listener, and a non-threatening regional power”. {16} The same cannot be said about the United States, which is seen as a regional and global threat by many countries.

Certainly, there are efforts under Obama to rebrand the role of the USA and appear to be more conciliatory towards certain regional powers and realignments. Indeed, there are even some Pentagon officials, from Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on down, who, while committed to maintaining and even expanding US presence in the Pacific, consider China’s rise as part of a regional alignment that can be managed. Of course, there are others, more numerous, such as President Obama’s National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, who are worried about China’s “unchecked influence in the region”. {17}

Although China’s economic prowess has attracted the interest of other countries in the region, it also has greatly expanded its investment in the military, especially with naval vessels and sophisticated electronic equipment. Some analysts, such as Alfred McCoy, foresee an eventual US/China military conflict that may very well be resolved in favor of China, especially as a consequence of its growing network of supercomputers and cyber warfare. {18} On the other hand, there are those scholars like Giovanni Arrighi who, taking the long view of China’s geopolitical role in the world, see an alternative outcome. According to Arrighi,



Would it not be in China’s best interest (1) to let the US exhaust itself militarily and financially in an endless war on terror; (2) to enrich itself by supplying goods and credits to an increasingly incoherent US superpower; and (3) use its expanding national market and wealth to win over allies (including some US corporations) in the creation of a new world order centered on China, but not necessarily dominated militarily by China? {19}



Given the classical and more recent articulation of China’s military and geostrategic posture in the world, it is hard to imagine why and how China would directly engage the United States in any armed conflict. From Sun Tzu and other classic treatises on military strategy, the focus is on understating one’s power and outmaneuvering an opponent by stealth and patience. These strategic insights have been re-articulated in the directives of Deng Xiaoping to “observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at manipulating a low profile, never claim leadership”. {20}

While it is not hard to imagine that China may wish to bide its time and remain an economic powerhouse without exacerbating geopolitical flashpoints, such as Taiwan, it is more difficult to assume that the US will renounce its “indispensable” leadership and step down from its military pre-eminence. Aggressive expansion and intervention is deeply rooted in the development and maintenance of the US Empire. {21} Moreover, as one study of US/China dynamics points out, “it is more difficult for the leaders of a declining hegemon to accept the reality or prospect of their country’s diminished influence and status”. {22}

One must turn, therefore, to prior historical examples of the conflicts between rising and declining hegemons or competing hegemons in order to provide more context to the present and future conflict between the US and China. In Paul Kennedy’s recounting of the growing antagonism between England and Germany leading up to World War One, geopolitical conflicts and military imperatives played a significant, if not solely determining, role in their eventual clash. {23} The history of the Cold War was replete with geopolitical conflicts that were proxy or surrogate battles between the US and Russia. {24} Perhaps, as in the case of the Cold War, containment will be the preferred strategy of the US and direct military conflict will not occur. On the other hand, the Soviet Union was never an economic threat to the US, nor was the US in the dire circumstances of imperial overstretch.

During the Cold War, the United States and China did come into direct military conflict on the Korean Peninsula. {25} Certainly, North Korea remains a potential site of conflict between the US and China, especially given the tens of thousands of US troops stationed in both South Korean and Japan. More likely, conflicts between the US and China will be reflected in US military interventions as a consequence of new geostrategic maneuvers. Following Pepe Escobar’s analysis in Pipelineistan, one could plausibly contend that the on-going US military presence in Afghanistan is, in part, an effort to check the geostrategic interests of China, as well as Russia and Iran. Moreover, given the growing military alliance between Pakistan and China (China is the primary supplier of planes for the Pakistan Air Force and a possible partner for constructing a naval base at the Pakistan port of Gwadar) and the ongoing tensions in Pakistan caused by US drone attacks and other covert and overt interventions, this area of the world could see increasing tensions. {26}

Already, the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in horrendous death and destruction to the residents of both countries while bleeding the US treasury of trillions of present and future dollars. Ironically, Washington’s geostrategic objectives in both countries have been, to a certain extent, impeded with a much more pro-Iranian government in Iraq and a failed state in Afghanistan. According to Giovanni Arrighi, the war and occupation of Iraq may be seen as one of the key components of the terminal crisis of US hegemony. {27} Fighting debilitating and self-destructive wars, albeit profitable to disaster capitalism firms like Halliburton and others, only adds to the contradictions confronted by imperial overstretch and the decline of the US Empire. {28}

While US hegemony, according to Samir Amin, “rests far more on its excessive military power than on the advantages of its economic system”, {29} both elements are in deep trouble, especially in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008. From a particular perspective, the geopolitical role of the United States, operating under the disciplinary regime of military neo-imperialism, may be seen as an effort to shore up fading economic hegemony. While it is true to a certain extent that transnational capital performs global functions unbound by the nation state, the calculus by which Washington attempts to exercise global dominance and hegemony is firmly rooted in the practice of military neo-imperialism. In fact, at some level, one could agree with the formulation by Emmanuel Todd that the United States “is battling to maintain its status as the world’s financial center by making a symbolic show of its military might in the heart of Eurasia, thereby hoping to forget and have others ignore America’s industrial weakness, its financial need, and its predatory character”. {30}

As the domestic analogue of military neo-imperialism, the national security state apparatus, created as part of the Cold War, has persisted and expanded into an institutionalized massive surveillance bureaucracy, even in the absence of the original rationale, the Soviet Union. In fact, what has occurred is the morphing of that enemy-other into another supposed global challenge – Islamic jihadists. Indeed, as argued by Jan Nederveen Pieterse, “the war on terrorism instills a regime of fear and creates an enemy narrative that serves as a successor to the Cold War and does everything the Cold War did. It upholds executive power, sustains the national security state, consolidates secrecy, instills patriotism, dims criticism, cements alliances and creates a discursive and ideological framework”. {31}

Whether China will supplant this most recent iteration of the enemy other is an open matter. Certainly, the effort to cast Wen Ho Lee as a nuclear spy was an instance, albeit a failed one, of constructing an internal Chinese enemy. Still, the machinery of the national security state, as the domestic representation of US imperial policy, remains intact. Moreover, as argued by Mahmood Mamdani, “Humanity is now left with a challenge: how to subdue and hold accountable the awesome power that the United States built up during the Cold War”. {32}

While it remains unclear what the ultimate outcome might be of growing competition and conflict between the United States and China, it is very clear that the US is a dying empire with declining hegemonic power in the world. Whether that hegemonic power is replaced is an open question. There are those who see the emergence of a multi-polar world where China and other regional powers supersede US global hegemony. {33} In this scenario, Washington, recognizing the detrimental domestic and foreign effects of imperial overstretch, accommodates itself to such a multi-polar world. Along with others, however, I cannot envision any tendency within the political governing elite who would be prepared to eschew continuing US global dominance and measuring US geopolitics in the discourse and practice of the “necessity” of “strategic alliances”. {34} Certainly, there are divisions in the governing political elite over geostrategic operations. However, as Gary Dorrien’s study of neoconservative political forces demonstrates, there are underlying delusions and imperatives, shared by rulers and ruled alike of various ideological tendencies, about US exceptionalism and the essential deployment of military neo-imperialism. {35} In effect, unless and until there are radical changes in how the US is governed and how it operates militarily in the world, permanent war and geopolitical conflict, including at some level with China, will be a defining feature of the global role of the United States.


1. As noted by Jan Nederveen Pieterse, “US hegemonic expansion stimulates regrouping on the part of social forces and countries that increasingly work around the USA, so in effect empire accelerates global realignments”. ‘Beyond the American Bubble: Does Empire Matter’, Third World Quarterly 27:6, 2006, 999. For a concise overview of the trajectory of US hegemony in the post World War Two period, see Immanuel Wallerstein, ‘The Curve of American Power’, New Left Review 40, July-August, 2006, 77-94.

2. On Marx’s failure to account for the integral role of militarism as part of the logic of capital, see Giovanni Arrighi, Adam Smith in Beijing (New York: Verso, 2007), 77. On military neo-imperialism, see Retort, Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War (New York: Verso, 2006).

3. David Harvey, The New Imperialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 183.

4. Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire (New York: Owl Books, 2004), 151-185.

5. John Gulick, ‘The Long Twentieth Century and Barriers to China’s Hegemonic Accession’, Journal of World-Systems Research 17:1, 2011, 17.

6. James Petras, ‘War with China? The Dangers of a Global Conflagration’, Global Research, April 29, 2010.

7. For several perspectives on China’s importing of essential resources, see Dilip Hiro, After Empire: The Birth of a Multipolar World (New York: Nation Books, 2010), esp. 147-185; Paula Cerni, ‘Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century’, Theory and Science, 8:1, Winter, 2006;
and Pepe Escobar, ‘China’s Pipelineistan ‘War”,, October 12, 2010.

8. Michael Klare, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2009).

9. Gulick, ‘The Long Twentieth Century’, 25.

10. Petras, ‘The US and China: One Side is Losing, the Other is Winning’, Information Clearing House, January 3, 2010.

11. Petras, ‘War with China?’.

12. Quoted in Alfred W. McCoy, ‘The Decline and Fall of the American Empire: Four Scenarios for the End of the American Century by 2025′, Huffington Post, December 6, 2010.

13. Elisabeth Bumiller, ‘General Says Beijing Won’t Challenge American Military’, New York Times, May 18, 2011.

14. Xinhua News Agency, May 12, 2011.

15. Quoted in Steve Chan, China, The US and the Power-Transition Theory: A Critique (London: Routledge, 2008), 26.

16. Chan, China, The US, 36.

17. John Feffer, ‘After Osama: China?’, Foreign Policy in Focus, May 11, 2011;

Also, see Edward Cody, ‘Shifts in Pacific Force US Military To Adapt Thinking’, The Washington Post, September 17, 2005.

18. McCoy, ‘The Decline and Fall’. For a balanced overview of numerous perspectives within the field of international relations on potential US/China conflict, see Aaron L. Friedberg, ‘The Failure of US-China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?’, International Security 30:2, Fall, 2005, 7-45. Also, see Chan, China, The US.

19. Arrighi, Adam Smith in Beijing, 312.

20. Chan, China, The US, 98.

21. See, for example, Walter Nugent, Habits of Empire: A History of American Expansion (New York: Vintage, 2009); and William Appleman Williams, Empire as a Way of Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977).

22. Chan, China, The US, 50.

23. Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism, 1860-1914 (London: Allen and Unwin, 1982).

24. For an excellent concise overview of the Cold War, see Robert J. McMahon, The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). For histories of the Cold War that explore the US/Soviet competition and the geopolitical context, see Mary Kaldor, The Imaginary War: Understanding the East-West Conflict (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), and Walter LeFeber, America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-1992 (New York: McGraw Hill, 1993); David Painter, The Cold War: An International History (New York: Routledge, 1999), and Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

25. See Bruce Cumings, The Korean War: A History (New York: Modern Library, 2010).

26. For Pepe Escobar’s most recent analysis of the growing alliance between China and Pakistan, see ‘Do the China-Pakistan Pipeline Shuffle’,, 27 May, 2011.

27. Arrighi, Adam Smith in Beijing, 175-274.

28. Michael Mann, ‘The First Failed Empire of the 21st Century’, Review of International Studies 30:4, October, 2004, 631-53. On disaster capitalism in Iraq, see Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007), esp. 341-82.

29. Samir Amin, The Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2004), 76.

30. Emmanuel Todd, After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order, trans. C. Jon Delogu (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), xviii.

31. Pieterse, ‘Beyond the American Bubble’, 990.

32. Mahmood Mamdani, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror (New York: Pantheon Books, 2004), 255. On the national security state, see Douglas T. Stuart, Creating the National Security State (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008).

33. Hiro, After Empire; and Parag Khana, The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order (New York: Random House, 2008). On the dying empire, see Francis Shor, Dying Empire: US Imperialism and Global Resistance (New York: Routledge, 2010).

34. Pieterse, ‘Beyond the American Bubble’, 992. For one such analysis of the persistent commitment of the US political elite to global dominance, see Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010).

35. Gary Dorrien, Imperial Designs: Neoconservatism and the New Pax Americana (New York: Routledge, 2004), 18-22 and passim.


Fran Shor teaches in the History Department at Wayne State University. He is the author of Dying Empire: US Imperialism and Global Resistance (Routledge 2010).

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